ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-01-2013, 03:15 PM   #1
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
"Not from around here, are ya?" A Yank heads south

Since I just finished my first report-worthy (>7 day) ride, I might as well make it ADVrider official. Stay tuned for some scary camping stories, pretty pictures featuring a not-so-pretty bike, and see which painfully obvious lessons I learned the hard way on my first ever long ride!
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-01-2013, 03:26 PM   #2
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
I. Pre-ramble.

There are tons of good reasons to hop on a motorcycle. Some are attracted to the cheap power (one Bugatti Veyron or 150 R1's: tough choice, right?). Others like the visceral experience of moving and continuously responding to both machine and terrain as opposed to driving, which a fellow rider once described as "watching 4 window-shaped TV's." I'm sure more than a few also do it primarily to pick up babes, although this trip taught me that motorcycles are excellent for attracting dudes who ride/used to ride/wish they rode, but not a whole lot else. I suppose your mileage may vary on this one, but then I ride a motorcycle whose appearance and handling earn it endearing nicknames like "pig," "mule," and "donkey." To be honest, I kind of like the 20-minute conversations that are now part of my gas stop routine.

I originally started riding about a year ago because I was sold on the freedom that such a simple machine could give me. I had these fantastic notions of going out alone on cool adventures to places cars couldn't reach, camping out in undiscovered wilderness, fixing my bike myself when it broke down. You know, that intoxicating combination of the "finding yourself through adventure" thing and the "will I ever get another chance?" thing that strikes somewhere between the quarter and midlife mark and sells lots of ADV bikes. That vision persisted even after repeated confrontations with reality, like the time I sold my first bike, a '73 CB350 Four, out of frustration with the carbs/electrics, and when I took my next one (an '05 KLR) to the shop so they could take my knobbies off for me and put street tires on (because I wasn't sure I could do a tire change without breaking something important).

With all these ideas firmly entrenched in my head, I set out last month on a trip from my hometown in Long Island down to Tennessee and back. I had a buddy working down in Knoxville I hadn't seen in a while, and a bike that seemed to be running OK, so flying down wasn't really an option. Instead, I spent 12 days riding, camping, and exploring bits and pieces of America I'd never seen, ultimately adding 2,600 miles to the odometer. One night on my way back I even got to stay with fellow inmates Jeff and Karen (SoPaRider and SoPaGuider) in Pennsylvania.

It's pretty tame riding compared to some of the RR's I read on here, especially since I was never more than 1/2 tank or so from the next gas station and only did a few brief forays into dual-sport/off-road territory. Still, it took me well outside my comfort zone. And that's kind of the whole point, right?
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2013, 09:30 PM   #3
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
So I got a bit loaded last night and told motorcycling how I REALLY feel...Anyway, let's get to it. Making the bike trip-ready was pretty simple. An oil change, new galfer brake lines/pads, fork brace installation and I was ready to go. I felt pretty badass putting it up on a jack stand and pulling the forks off to put the new brace/boots on. It almost felt like I knew what I was doing! At the time I didn't want to spring for panniers or racks so I just strapped a dry bag and my backpack to the back of the bike.



I left LI early on Friday the 18th to take a ferry to New London, CT. A bit out of the way if I ultimately wanted to end up in Tennessee, but a small price to pay for avoiding NYC I think. Here I am striking a confident pre-departure pose:



Honestly, I was pretty scared at that point. I'd only spent a day or two riding with the extra weight, and this was my first ride more than 40 miles or so from home. I wasn't sure the bike or I would make it, and I had this weird fear that traffic rules would change and I wouldn't be able to figure them out in time. (As it turns out, most other places use stop signs and traffic signals too.) As soon as I pulled out of the driveway, I stopped thinking about post-ride plans entirely and just focused on directions, shelter for the night, and not fucking up.

After a quick breakfast and a few circles around New London trying to find a nice little route to take me due west, I started to find some pretty cool twisty back roads in CT (Rt. 7, 37 and 39 to name a few). Anyone from LI knows the roads there are pretty much straight and flat, so this was a good warmup for the mountains further south.

Sometime in the afternoon, I met another rider on the road and promptly bungled a tight curve. I pulled into the shoulder to avoid lowsiding and he buzzed past, leaving me to recover from the rush of adrenaline and embarrassment. Of course, this HAD to happen with another motorcycle behind me, but I was fortunate enough to recover from most of my other "oops" moments on the trip before people saw what a n00b I was.



After getting lost a few more times, I ended up near Bear Mountain in NY with dusk quickly setting in. I assumed it wouldn't be too hard to find a campground nearby, but I was wrong and the local park rangers put the kibosh on any stealth camping aspirations I had (although I guess it's not really in the spirit of stealth camping to go to the ranger station and ask to camp? ). Long story short, this brave adventurer ended up roughing it in a nice little motel on Rt. 9 instead and taking a hot shower in the morning.
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2013, 09:39 PM   #4
VFR
Studly Adventurer
 
VFR's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Sunny (sometimes) SoCal
Oddometer: 680
Well, this ought to be a good one!!! That's about how you learn--just take off.

I'm IN....
__________________
Larry

If it ain't fun, I don't do it!!!

Stuff - I need more Stuff....
VFR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2013, 08:28 PM   #5
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
Rural PA was really something else. I'd been through the area before, but mostly between stretches of I-80. Lots of back mountain roads to check out, and not a whole lot of cell service. Not that that's always a bad thing! I checked out some game preserves, and white-knuckled my way through my first "dual sport" experience.



I accidentally ended up on I-380 North near Tobyhanna and it was either take the interstate back the way I came or take a hunting access trail that ran roughly parallel for 10-12 miles. A cakewalk for anything with four wheels, but the loose gravel and rocks had me slipping and sliding a bit and I nearly lost the bike a few times.



Between back roads and trails there were lots of depressed, nearly empty rust belt towns I couldn't really tell apart. Definitely nothing like back home!

It was starting to cloud up and rain a bit by 4 or so, so I decided to try and find a campground before it got too dark/wet. I saw a campground near Zion Grove on my phone map (Red Ridge Lake I think it was called), but couldn't get a hold of the main office. When I got there it was pretty eerie - campers and RV's parked everywhere but not a soul in sight.



There were kid's toys strewn about too, and the whole place had a kind of Chernobyl feel. No other campsites nearby though, and a guy who said he knew the owner dropped by and said I could stay. Apparently the place had just closed for the season, so I'd be the only resident that night.

I decided to head into nearby Ringtown to grab some dinner. Pulling over (when there was a shoulder) to let tailgaters by and avoiding the grease/oil streaks that seemed to be everywhere added to the "fun" of riding twisty unfamiliar mountain roads in the dark and rain.

When I finally got there, the only place open was this little pizza joint Mama B's but the folks there were pretty nice. They let me charge my phone and gave me a little back story on the area, like which bars I should avoid in Shenandoah (6 miles or so south - pretty much all of them).

The girl behind the counter said I should be careful because the KKK liked to meet in the woods nearby, and that there was a recent unsolved murder not too far away too. Nice! Not sure how much she was pulling my leg, but she definitely gave me a lot to think about while I tried to fall asleep at my deserted campground...

After I made it back to the campsite I noticed the one of the inactive (or so I thought) campsites next to me had a fire going. I poked around and knocked on the RV door to be friendly and introduce myself, but nobody was home. Maybe this place was haunted after all! That, the murder story and the Klan kept me a wake for a few more hours, clutching my Ka-Bar camping knife and trying to convince myself I didn't hear people sneaking around outside my tent.



But, the next morning I woke up alive and well. I prepped the bike as the sun rose, and set out further southwest. I probably wasn't in any real danger that night, but I'll admit I was pretty scared, being used to sleeping in the safety and security of a house.
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2013, 03:19 AM   #6
AndytheElder
Adventurer
 
AndytheElder's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Connecticut
Oddometer: 34
I have the same bike and a similar story from this summer. Looking forward to hearing all the details of your adventure.
AndytheElder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2013, 04:57 AM   #7
England-Kev
Beastly Adventurer
 
Joined: Feb 2007
Location: Berkshire, England. Just off the Beaten Track!
Oddometer: 3,386
England-Kev is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2013, 02:03 PM   #8
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndytheElder View Post
I have the same bike and a similar story from this summer. Looking forward to hearing all the details of your adventure.
Nice, where'd your trip take you? I'd have spent some more time exploring but I had to get back home to work etc.
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-2013, 04:37 AM   #9
AndytheElder
Adventurer
 
AndytheElder's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Connecticut
Oddometer: 34
The plan was to circumnavigate Nova Scotia after using Canuman's adventure route to get across Maine (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=769424). That part worked out well. Part 2 was to camp at Fundy NP for a few days and that also was great. The evening before I planned on taking the St John ferry to Digby NS I discovered the KLR had a blown countershaft seal.

After weighing my options, I decided to head back home. Two days later, after taking 50 mph secondary roads all the way to CT, I got back. Trip lasted 7 days. Nova Scotia will have to wait 'til next year.
AndytheElder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2013, 02:53 PM   #10
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndytheElder View Post
The evening before I planned on taking the St John ferry to Digby NS I discovered the KLR had a blown countershaft seal.
I was lucky enough not to have any major mechanical issues, although you probably rode yours a wee bit harder on your route! Looks like a trail I should check out myself, probably not for a few months though...
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2013, 05:23 PM   #11
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
The next day, I set out from my PA campsite hoping to make it to Virginia/WV. I rode into Shenandoah for breakfast (like 4 bucks for the lumberjack special). Looking around, I realized it was probably a good thing I went back to the campsite instead of hit the bars. This was a pretty seedy town, and I kept walking out to my bike to check on it for peace of mind. Signs of rust belt hardship everywhere, and bitterness to boot. Although one guy I met had a pickup with a yuengling tap shifter, so I guess some folks take it in stride… :)

I hit PA 61 south towards Reading and stuck to back roads from there until I crossed into MD. At this point I was shooting for a campground in WV a bit west of the Antietam battlefield when I learned a couple of valuable life lessons. I finally got to what I thought was the campsite after spending an hour or so lost on back roads but it turned out to be just houses. I asked some locals and they said they'd never heard of a campsite near there. Be forewarned - if you're trying to find the Nahkeeta Campsite in Kearneysville, it's not where google says it is!

Anyway, Life Lesson One. ALWAYS have a backup campsite or place to sleep. Nothing sucks more than riding around cold, tired and hungry after dark with nowhere to stay. Also, call the campground first to make sure they exist. Common sense, right? Well, not for some folks…

I ended up at the "Comfort Suites" near Rte. 9 later that night. Needless to say, I didn't pose for any pictures in front. I learned from some locals at a bar nearby that there's a "new" hwy 9 right next to the old one, which is probably why I got lost. In the end, it only cost me $95 and a little pride!

Monday was Skyline day. I rode south on Route 11 through Martinsburg and past a National Guard base where they keep those big C-5's. I tried to charm the guard to let me get in there and take a couple of pictures (at least of the F-84f monument in front) but she wouldn't have any of it. Maybe one shower wasn't enough…

Skyline had some superb views, but everything moved pretty slowly and the overlooks sometimes had these sharp turns to get in (as I learned).



I was able to get the bike up again after this low-speed oops (gotta be honest though - I had a tough time doing the crawl-backwards method). I flooded the carbs out, which I didn't realize until after I'd attracted a bunch of attention unsuccessfully trying to start the bike.

To be honest, I think the BRP was even nicer (and the price was right). You could go a little faster in those sweeping turns, and you got a better view of the mountains. I think Big Spy was my favorite overlook, maybe since I got there when the light was just right, and also because I met a guy who was super interested in getting a KLR.







My scenic BRP sunset ride was interrupted by a blown headlight fuse. Luckily, I'd had the same problem just before the trip so I knew the problem, and had the better fuses too. Thankfully I got her back together before dark and I was back on the road, despite losing some daylight.



I made it to the Lynchburg NW / Blue Ridge Parkway KoA late that night. It's address is listed as "Monroe, VA" but let me tell you - you'd be hard pressed to find this Monroe, or any other town, for miles. The campsite itself was about midway between Lexington and Lynchburg.

Once I got set up, I decided to forage for some food. I rode the 20 miles or so to Buena Vista, but everything seems so much more remote when you're taking mountain twisties one headlight distance at a time (and sharing the road with some crazy 18-wheelers). I also passed by a couple of cars pulled over by the cops. So in addition to deer, scary unfamiliar mountain roads, nighttime, fast trucks, no cell service, we have drunk drivers coming out to play. Great! Thankfully, my efforts were handsomely rewarded:


ironeagle screwed with this post 11-18-2013 at 05:38 PM Reason: Image links not working for some reason
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2013, 06:21 PM   #12
Rutabaga
Studly Adventurer
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
Oddometer: 729
I like the ride idea and I am enjoying the journey so far. Keep at it.
Rutabaga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2013, 08:55 PM   #13
junkyardroad
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado
Oddometer: 114
Before long you'll be one of the few who are, as the saying goes, watching the sun set over the ocean 10,000 miles from home wondering why it took you so long to get here.....
junkyardroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2013, 09:55 AM   #14
ironeagle OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Long Island, NY, USA
Oddometer: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by junkyardroad View Post
Before long you'll be one of the few who are, as the saying goes, watching the sun set over the ocean 10,000 miles from home wondering why it took you so long to get here.....
Already planning my next trip... This one's gotta have some more trails though. I almost felt bad riding the KLR on roads most of the time!
ironeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-2013, 08:19 PM   #15
junkyardroad
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado
Oddometer: 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by ironeagle View Post
Already planning my next trip... This one's gotta have some more trails though. I almost felt bad riding the KLR on roads most of the time!
I'm hoping to do Patagonia in a couple of years on my KLR. Getting it ready now. Might as well go big, if you're gonna go! Allison (Allison's wonderland) did 'only' 2000 miles of dirt out of 16,000 miles. Think about that...2000 miles of dirt
junkyardroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 12:09 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014