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June 5, 2010

3

Ride Report #2

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Another 2,500 miles of travels have come and gone on the motorcycle bringing me just shy of 5,000 on the trip.  These miles were smoother than the first round literally and figuratively.  I still took my fair share of dirt roads, but none nearly so rocky as Big Bend was.

The place I felt furthest out there was in Blue Canyon, east of Tuba City Arizona.  I didn’t intend to be there, but didn’t pay attention to signs and found myself 40 miles from where I meant to be.  Consulting the 1997 road atlas I’m using found a little gray line connecting the two points.  A local showed up saying he thought I could make the road, the town I was aiming for had a new name, and that the road past that wasn’t dirt anymore it was paved.  Nice to know, but I’m still not upgrading my map.

The road started out great and I soon found myself descending into the canyon where the road was steep and soft.  I wasn’t coming back up that way.  The bottom was wild; scrubs, a dry river bed, and red, yellows, and orange layers throughout the canyon walls.  I took a two minute video of the ride back up.

Once I was back on top sand became much more common and grabbed the front tire constantly.  Aside from one deep short hill all was good.  I actually got off the bike on that hill without the kickstand, dug out my back wheel, and got going again.

I ended up riding nearly 400 miles that day, way more than any other, or than I wanted to.  It wasn’t until 10:30 that I found a campsite after trying all the options I could think of – hotels (all full) and dirt roads to make an unofficial camp that kept leading to houses and quick turn arounds.

In Wyoming, I wanted to take a scenic backway from Kemmerer to Cokeville after a great experience with one in 2006.  I camped partway up the road just before the pavement ended.  After letting the heavy frost melt off all my gear I was off at 9 the next morning.  I saw pronghorn deer, hawks, and a wild horse over the next 30 miles till I got to the national forest.

The road turned went over a stream and started climbing.  After the first turn snow was on the hill side of the road with the open side clear.  The snow was melting and creating streams and mud all over the road.  Next, I crossed a short snow patch and got to my next challenge.  I made it 3/4 of the way before stopping and spinning the tires.  I knew it was another 12 miles or so till pavement and I was still climbing.  With that, I decided to turn around and make a new plan.

That’s the first time I had to turn around on my journey.  If I’d had a destination or reason to keep going I’d have given it a go, but decided to play it safe this time.  It also gave me a new perspective that, at times, I need to think about having enough gas to return to where I came from, not just where I’m headed to.  Luckily it was no problem this time despite the 50 mile return trip.

As for the issues I mentioned in Ride Report #1 numbers 1-4 are taken care of.  Number 5, the high level on my heated grip not working, is fixed as much as it will be for the time.  I did find a loose wire and fixed that out, but it didn’t solve the problem.  After going over a pass and flurries in Utah with my grips on low I decided to look at it again.

This time I swapped the low and high level contacts on the back of my rocker switch.  That did it.  There is something wrong in the switch.  I now have high and off which I can live with.  This fix did create to one new problem though.

The next morning it was raining and I couldn’t get a good grip on my gas throttle.  Only by pushing my thumb and pointer finger against the inside edge could I control the gas.  I pulled the grip off and it was slick underneath.  I think my grips being on high melted the adhesion between the grip and heater.  With a wrap of duct tape around each end of the heater the problem was solved and I’m all set.

Doing the trip by motorcycle has been a blast.  I’ve been on a dirt road at some point almost every day and in places I wouldn’t take a two wheel drive pickup.  See, I didn’t even mention my Echo Canyon videos from Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado.  Plus the ride becomes part of the journey instead of just a way to get to the next place on the map.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 5 2010

    If I’m seeing the bottom photo correctly, it looks like you slept inches from the road and kept your bike parked partway in the road overnight. That is remarkable and really cool. It must be entirely desolate where you are for it to be safe enough, knowing no cars would come along. I don’t think most people can be so far away from everything and feel comfortable. Good for you.

    Reply
    • Jun 6 2010

      You got it right, it was a lonely road.

      Reply
  2. I was looking for a post on cycling and fitness, but this article is pretty close, and it is always interesting to come across new blogs.

    Reply

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