Saturday, July 4, 2015

San Diego to Michigan for free beer (July 31-August 11)

Get your motor running…head out on the highway!

My buddy Chuck and I will be departing early on Friday morning to visit a friend in Michigan. It’s a classic road trip by anyone’s definition. Somewhere between Easy Rider and Dumb & Dumber.

We’re trying to average 500 miles a day; that would shake out to 5 days there, 5 days back and a couple of days in between. Our first day’s ride to Mesquite, Nevada, is only about 400 miles but will likely be our hottest.

I'll fill in the details later, but it looks as if we're gonna ride a fairly direct route on our way there, via Denver and Green Bay, taking a ferry across Lake Michigan. We'll ride historic Route 66 on our way back, hitting some very cool selected spots along the way.

I'll be on my Triumph Rocket III and he'll be riding his Harley Ultra Classic.

Here are two links to the GPS SPOT Tracker so you can follow our progress:

Here’s a rough outline of the ride plan:

Day: Location Date: Miles: Accum miles:

San Diego to…
1. Mesquite, NV (7/31) 416 416
2. Denver, CO (8/1) 693 1084
3. Omaha, NE (8/2) 540 1624
4. Manitowoc (8/3) 570 2194
5. Lachine, MI (via Ludington ferry) (8/4 210 2404
6. Lachine (8/5) 0 2404
7. “ “ (8/6 0 2404
8. St. Louis, MO (via Muskegon ferry) (8/7) 572 2976
9. Oklahoma City (8/8) 500 3476
10. Albuquerque (8/9) 540 4016
11. Kingman, AZ (8/10) 470 4486
12. San Diego (8/11) 365 4851

Here’s some info about Route 66:

It winds from Chicago to L.A.
More than 2000 miles all the way
It goes from St Louis, down to Missouri
Oklahoma City looks oh, so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino

Here are some fun stops we’ve planned along Route 66:
· St. Louis Arch
· Route 66 Museum (Clinton, OK)
· Winslow, AZ
· Oatman, AZ
· Seligman, AZ

And here’s how it all happened:

Once again my legendary poor math and geography skills proved beneficial.

When a riding buddy mentioned that a mutual friend had retired, moved to Michigan and bought a cop bar, I simply stated that we should ride out to see him in the summer. Heck, free beer is free beer. And the conversation went like so:

Chuck: So how far would that be?

Me: Oh, I dunno (doing the math in my head). The Canadian border from San Diego—straight up the I-15—is 1,500 miles. So if our route twists northeast, it's prolly about the same. Yup, 1,500 miles.

Chuck: Really? That's it? Let's do it!

Me: Heck, yeah. That'll be 3 days there and 3 days back. Easy peasy!

And so it went. About an hour later, upon reviewing a map, I could see I was off “a bit.” Calling my buddy, the conversation went like this:

Me: Hey, Chuck, I was off a little bit.

Chuck: Yeah, by how much?

Me: Oh, a thousand miles or so...each way.

Chuck: Wow, the most I've ever ridden is 160 miles in one day. But I'm retired, so are we still on?

Me: Heck, yeah! We'll just need to tack on an additional 4 days. Let's ride!

See, that's how I roll. Easy, peasy.

More details to follow, but you get the gist...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Blythe Intaglios: Day ride from San Diego

One of my riding buddies just brought these interesting formations to my attention and we said, "Why not?" They're close enough to make a day ride out of it.

Until I return with my own photos and a ride report, here's some info:

The Blythe Intaglios or Blythe Geoglyphs are a group of gigantic figures found on the ground near Blythe, California in the Colorado Desert. The intaglios are found east of the Big Maria Mountains, about 15 miles (24 km) north of downtown Blythe, just west of U.S. Highway 95 near the Colorado River. The largest human figure is 171 feet (52 m) long. The intaglios are best viewed from the air.

Similar to the Peruvian Nazca lines, these geoglyphs or intaglios (anthropomorphic geoglyphs) were created by scraping away layers of darker rocks or pebbles to reveal a stratum of lighter-valued soil. While these "gravel pictographs" are found through the deserts of southeastern California, human figures are found only near the Colorado River. The figures are so immense that many of them were not observed by non-Indians until the 1930s.

The set of geoglyphs includes several dozen figures, thought to be ceremonial in nature. Many of them are believed to date from the prehistoric period, but their age and the identify of their creators are still uncertain.

Jay von Werlhof and his collaborators obtained 13 AMS radiocarbon dates for the figures, ranging from 900 BC to 1200 AD.

GPS coordinates for exact location:

33° 48′ 1″ N, 114° 32′ 18″ W
33.800278, -114.538333

Monday, June 1, 2015

Eagle Mike Tech Day (KLRs): Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mike has these tech days every so often; I've attended 3 or 4 over the years. Today's was kind of special as it was his 25th anniversary.

I counted 14 attendees, plus 2 subject matter experts (Mark, Wyman and Watt-Man) and some ladies.

There were several bikes in various stages of repair. Doohickeys, Thermo-Bobs, canisterectomies, tire changes, etc. lots of folks just there to assist and socialize so everything went smoothly.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my new-to-me Gen2. Turned out the bottom end needed some serious help so I swapped it out completely. Ended up getting the 685 kit (bored cylinder, larger piston), as well. Hey, it was there...

All in all, it was another good day hanging out with some great KLR peeps. And we all agree that KLR people is good people.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The question was raised....(Otay Mountain Truck Trail to Tecate?)

I think I was cursed. By Indians.


By Indians. Cursed. I cut down some sycamore trees on Indian land recently and I don't think I should've. I've been sick ever since. I think I was cursed.

You do sound bad.

Yeah, well, I'm hoping some Mexican dirt will cure that. I've heard it'll help.

Well, it couldn't hurt...

And so began a day of riding the trails off of the Otay Mountain Truck Trail, trying to get to Tecate (either one) via the elusive "secret and/or hidden" trail.

The question was raised as to the existence of such a trail. I "thought I'd seen it on an old map and once, while out riding with The Kug, a border patrol agent told me the "thought" it was possible on a motorcycle. The die had been cast.

My little brother actually tried to find it in the early 80's. He was on a KLR250 and there wasn't much of a fence. The border, to him at that time, was more of a suggestion and--to the consternation of the border patrol agents--he was prone to crossing back and forth at odd hours, often with cases of Mexican beer on his tank.

So, back to the beginning: A fellow SDAR member who knows the area well -- Reximus -- was in. Like me, he scoured maps in the hope of finding said trail.

We met near Jamul on Memorial Day. When Rex pulled up on his XR650, I knew we were in for a good time. It's been years since I kicked over a bike...

As I suspected, Rex was very familiar with the area. He suggested we enter off the 94 at Marron Valley Road and look for a suitable route from there.

As we passed the South Bay Rod & Gun Club, we heard the pops and booms of gunfire; and there were others shooting just off the truck trail as we rode by. It looked a little busier than usual.

On a side note, we saw a rider on a very pretty little BMW 1150GS...just out riding the trails.

Although we saw lots of border patrol agents who waved as we rode by, we encountered no locked gates. Win-win!

Almost right away, we found a trail leading into the hills off the main road; this was our starting point. We climbed higher in elevation on a well-graded road that appeared to have seen some recent rain damage in some places. It was an easy to follow trail.

After 2 or 3 miles, we came to a rough trail that we'd seen on Google Earth maps. It was more of a walking trail or an old animal trail that climbed high into the hills.

"You wanna try it?"


It was clear that Rex was there to ride.

It was a worse than I first thought. Extremely rough: washed out, rutted with deep channels. I made it only a few hundred feet; Rex made it quite a bit further. He told me he crashed, but I didn't see it.

He kept riding, higher and higher. For a moment there, I thought we'd located the holy grail of east county riding! But as I saw Rex returning, I could tell that it was not to be.

OK, fine. We then resigned ourselves to riding some of the other trails in the Tecate area. We exited at the 94 past Barrett Junction and headed up the 94 toward Tecate. Just before town, off the 188, we pulled off the road and headed west across fields and into the low hills. Soon enough, I could see that the steep trails had been washed out and took a little maneuvering to get around.

At one point, we reached a killer hill and Rex gave me a look.

"Really? That?"

"It's probably not as bad as it looks."


"I'll hit it and see how bad it is."

"OK, I'll watch from here."

And off he went. It was something to watch. His XR is made for that stuff.

He reached the top after some motorized acrobatics.

He yelled down that it was pretty ugly.

I yelled back that I'd go around the hill and meet him on the other side.

For the record, I could've done this with my big Katoom. Really. And it might've been fun on a bike half the size of my big girl...

I found my way to the back side of the hill Rex had just conquered via some small trails. At a high plateau, I sat and waited along with some border patrol agents who were watching the border fence a short ways away. What a nice view of the Tecates.

Rex and I met up in the middle and continued riding some more of the trails. Having to get back to town, we finished the ride by racing along the Mexican border, our helmets just at the height of the fence.

We hustled back to town along the 94, in good spirits, even though we'd failed to locate the trail joining the Otay Truck Trail and Tecate. After we'd said goodbye and headed different ways, I realized I'd forgotten to ask if the Mexican dirt had removed -- or at least lessened -- the Indian curse.

That's to be seen. But I can assure you that the case of the elusive trail can now be closed.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cruising around Tijuana on a Cop bike

So I was in TJ yesterday and had an opportunity to cruise around the city on a Tijuana PD motorcycle.

Good times.

Thanks for not giving me a hard time about ATGATT...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR): April 17-24, 2015

Motorcycling is an inherently dangerous lifestyle. I hesitate to call it a sport or a pastime, as it truly is a way of life.

So it should come as a surprise to nobody that the act of getting on a speeding motorbike and going to far-off places comes with risk. James Agee said that the goal is the same: life itself; and the price is the same; life itself.

That said, I had a most excellent ride these past 10 days. There were injuries—some severe—and that just goes with said lifestyle.

So I read about the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR: and took up the challenge: A friend and I would ride from San Diego to the Mexican border in Arizona, then ride 750 miles through Arizona back roads to the Utah border, camping along the way.

Sounds fun, right? Right.

OK, all set. Ready for adventure. He’s on a big, shiny BMW GS800; I’m on an equally large and intimidating KTM 990 Adventure. With too little pre-planning we were off and riding on Friday, April 17, 2015, en route to Bisbee, AZ; because we dilly-dallied along the way, we arrived to Sierra Vista after dark. I could then see the ride was going to be touch-and-go.

We rolled up to the official start of the ride at the Coronado Monument near the Mexican border on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day and the paved road quickly changed from gravel to dirt to a rutted trail. Ah, just what I expected.

I should mention that I was only fairly GPS-proficient. I’d used my trusty Garmin Zumo 660 GPS on-road for years, but had never dealt with off-road tracks. That issue proved to be a recurring theme throughout the ride; a true “learn as you go” experience.

So off we went. We predicted the 9 sections of the AZBDR would take us 4 to 5 days to complete. We wrapped up the sections comprising the Coronado National Monument to Sonoita — then Sonoita to Benson — on the first day. We took a slight detour as I tweaked the route but were back on track soon enough.

The second day consisted of Benson to Mammoth, staying in Winkelman for the night. We camped right on the edge of the Gila River and talked late into the night with some new friends—locals who had us laughing all evening.

The ride to Globe — then to Young shortly afterward — was challenging but scenic, with some incredibly rocky ground that resembled a lunar landscape. This would be the section mentioned as “likely damaging to motorcycles” and “recommended only to expert riders.” I didn’t read that until later…

We were really moving along. There is a series of rocky hills on the way to Young that is absolutely ludicrous; I highly recommend bypassing them. One of the high points of this ride was the Mogollon Rim. Just spectacular; some scenery not to be missed. We put the section between Young and Winona to bed and stayed at a KOA campground in Flagstaff for the night.

On day 4, we headed to Winona to begin section 7. The route to Cameron was eye-opening for several reasons and—for me—the most challenging portion of the ride: over 15 miles of volcanic sand.

A friend from SDAR who’d previously ridden the AZBDR warned us of the ruts. Ruts, I thought? I’m concerned about these fricking rocks! In retrospect, I should’ve been concerned about the ruts…

At about 4pm, Dan and I were hustling through a hilly forested area, about 18 miles from Cameron, where we intended to stay for the evening. I was a couple hundred yards ahead of Dan, trying to simultaneously check the GPS tracks as I negotiated the rutted terrain. I suppose I was going about 30 MPH or so. In a moment I was on the ground, rolling away from my fallen bike. It appears that my front wheel was in one rut and my rear wheel in another. When the ruts took different directions, I went down hard. Surprisingly, I was uninjured and my KTM suffered only minimal damage to the left side. I put the bike upright and waited for Dan to arrive as I shook off the dirt nap. After he didn’t arrive in a few minutes, I turned around and found him lying under his bike…also in a heavily rutted area. He was in a lot of pain and stated that he’d broken some ribs. I contacted 911 and a helicopter arrived within 45 minutes. While we were carrying Dan to where the helo had landed—about a mile away—a Coconino sheriff’s deputy arrived in a 4x4 and carted him the rest of the way. It was all pretty efficient, actually.

Final result: 8 fractured ribs and a torn spleen. Ouch.

Aristotle said that the ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances. And so he did.

I hid his bike and gear in the brush as the copter flew Dan to Flagstaff; a friend with a trailer arrived later that night and towed it to his place in Prescott.

After considering my options, I decided to finish the ride. On the 5th day, I headed back to Cameron where I purchased the Navajo Nation backcountry permit for $12 and immediately hit the trail for Marble Canyon. I took an alternate route to the rim of the Grand Canyon, as seen from Navajo land. There was no one there but me and it was magnificent. No tourists, no structures except an old fire ring, no sounds except the wind lightly blowing through the scrub brush. I soaked in the solitude and realized how fortunate I was to be seeing it like that. Continuing on, I found a nice little site about 50 miles into the reservation just before dusk and set up camp.

The following day, April 23rd (my 6th day on the ride), I rode through Marble Canyon and, past the Vermillion Cliffs and down a long, silty road to the Utah border. In a way, it was a sudden, unceremonious end to an interesting ride. There I was, staring at the “leaving Arizona, entering Utah” sign and it just wasn’t sinking in. I slowly rode the last 15 miles or so to the pavement and found my way to Kanab for some Mexican food and cold ones. I once again “pirate camped” off the main road and pointed my KTM for Prescott to meet up with a bunch of fun KLR riders for the 3rd annual Arizona Spring KLR Ride.

But that’s for another report.

Here are some points I made note of:

· No real need to exactly follow the AZBDR tracks. Some of the trails are washed out or not as interesting as others nearby. The ride is yours to explore.
· Camp as much as possible; it’s really a great part of the riding experience. Pirate camping is best.
· Make sure your bike and medical insurance is up to date and available.
· Be familiar with the GPS tracks, your GPS unit and your AZBDR map.
· There is no such thing as too much planning.
o Talk to your riding partner(s) about contingency plans.
o What to do in a medical emergency, a mechanical failure or a personal issue: Stay together? Continue riding? Return? Plan ahead.
· Build in enough time to enjoy the ride.
o If you’re pressed for time, you might want to reschedule the ride. One of the best parts of the ride are seeing the scenery and talking to folks along the way.
o Set up camp before dark so you can talk about the day’s ride. And plan for the next day’s ride.
· Gas in Arizona is less expensive than in California. Yup.

Fun facts:

· Miles traveled: 2,562 (approximately 820 of those were off road miles)
· Highest elevation: Just under 9K feet (near Flagstaff and Bitter Springs
· Lowest elevation: -75’ (New River @ the I-8)
· Number of times I contacted emergency services: 2
· Number of times we dropped our bikes: 4
· Number of times I removed my front fender because mud stopped my front wheel from moving: 1
· Number of times I was advised by SDAR members to install the high fender kit because mud would stop my front wheel from moving: 10+
· Flat tires: 0
· Bent rims: 1 (slightly)
· Hotel vs campsite stays: 8/2, respectively (hospital stays not included)
· Gates opened/closed: 8+
· Shirtless hippies riding lawnmower-engine mini-bikes in the middle of nowhere: 2
· Law enforcement “encounters”: 0
· Highest riding temperature: 89
· Lowest riding temperature: 41 (colder at night)

I'm packed up and ready to roll. A friend and I plan to tackle the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR) starting tomorrow. Here's the link:

Here's my tentative ride plan:

Friday, April 17: Ride from San Diego to The Mexican border in AZ (Bisbee, Sierra Vista or Hereford, Arizona).
April 18-23: Ride the 750 miles of backcountry AZ roads to the Utah border (camping along the way).
Friday, April 24: Meet other KLR riders in Prescott for the 3rd Annual Spring AZ KLR Ride.
April 25-26: Fun riding with my KLRistas!
Monday, April 27: Return to San Diego

Photos, videos and a Ride Report to follow!

More info:

The AZBDR is the fourth route developed by the Backcountry Discovery Routes organization for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel. This scenic 750-mile south-to-north route crosses the state of Arizona beginning at the Mexico border and finishing at the Utah border. The route has been created specifically for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists who are interested in exploring Arizona’s remote backcountry. It utilizes many remote dirt roads and leads riders through iconic locations including the Mogollon Rim, Sunset Crater National Monument, Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation, as well as the historic mining towns of Tombstone and Globe, AZ.

Free GPS tracks, a digital map and the route's FAQ and photo gallery are located on the website.