Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Next Three Big Rides: September & October 2020

September and October are gonna be busy. I can see that now.

Since my dreams of riding to Ushuaia this fall were dashed by Covid-19, I came up with some other options. Instead of riding through Mexico and Central America to South America for the next six months, I’ll try something else.  Here are my plans...

I’ll attend the 8th Annual Arizona KLR Ride in Paulden, AZ in September.  I’ve only missed two of those rides and I really look forward to that one.

In October I’m doing the New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route (NMBDR). That’ll be an 8-day ride where we’ll camp along the way, from the Texas/New Mexico Border to the New Mexico/Colorado border.  I’ve done the Arizona BDR, so I’m pretty excited about this one.

After I finish that ride, I’m heading west, to the Pacific Ocean where I’ll start the TransAmerica Trail (TAT) in Port Orford, Oregon.  And from there, it’s an easy 5,000 miles to the Atlantic Ocean in 4-6 weeks.  The ride will end somewhere in the Carolinas.

That last ride is a whopper but I’ll have unlimited time and no particular schedule.  I’ll be with others on the first two rides, but may be solo on my TAT trek across the USA.

My buddy Jon puts in the Arizona KLR ride, so I have no link for that—though you can look at my previous ride reports on this blog on that fun one.

The NMBDR: http://stage.ridebdr.com/nmbdr/

The TAT: https://www.transamtrail.com/ (or an alternative: http://www.gpskevinadventurerides.com/trans-america-trail )

Wish me well.  More to come.  Stay safe.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Rocket Ride to the Gulf of Mexico (December 2018)

This is a belated Ride Report that I just had to document.  It happened in December 2018. 

In short, a group of riders who owned Triumph Rocket III motorcycles met to ride the West Ozello motorcycle Trail - Crystal River at the Gulf of Mexico. For me it was a 250-mile ride.  

The ride began at the Flying J at State Road 52 and I-75 near San Antonio/Dade City and ended at the Pilot Travel Center at State Road 44 and I-75 near Wildwood. 
In between there were twisties, sweepers, and a lot of pretty countryside and even a wonderful view of the Gulf of Mexico. 

We all met at 9:30 at the Flying J Travel Center, 29933 FL-52, San Antonio, FL 33576 (I-75 and State Road 52).

Right away we were into the backcountry roads of Brooksville, headed to the Istachatta Road-Trails End-Withlapopka-Gobblerroads. It was just one great riding area blending into the next, culminating with some serious twisties on the Ozello Trail in Citrus county. The End of the Road sign announced we had reached the Gulf of Mexico. 

At the halfway point we enjoyed a good Mexican restaurant (Habanero’s) in the town of Inverness.   

The total ride took about 6 hours. The one-way portion, from the I-75 to the Gulf, was 130 miles. 

I took a straight shot back to the I-75 and arrived back home at about the 6-hour mark after a 250-mile loop. 

What a great ride! Thanks for putting this together, Paddy. Lots of fun. Great meeting you, Fingers.

And Paddy adds: 
The weather was perfect. Sunny and temps in the mid 70's. I believe the roads we went on today to be some of the best roads in the state of Florida for twisties, sweepers, rolling hills, and scenery. 

While all of the roads we hit before lunch were good, the most fun were Istachatta Road-Trails End-Withlapopka-Gobbler. Lots of twists and turns there. 

We stopped at a Mexican restaurant in Inverness named "Habaneros" to eat and it was very good. 

The last road we went to was Ozello Trail in Citrus county. Another rider (non-Rocket) and Fingers were very familiar with this road. Dandiego said that Fingers did not touch his brakes once on this road, he knew it so well! If you every ride this road you will realize the enormity of this statement! It takes a lot of rides to master this 

If you are interested in this ride I have a GPX file of the route.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Big Bear (Off-road) Experience: May 2020

My friend Dave, who knows a bit about great California riding, heard that I’d never ridden any off-road Big Bear stuff. I’ve visited BB for decades, and have done some fun street rides up there, but have never explored the fire roads and trails I’d heard about. Well, that was about to change.

Dave called a couple of friends and explained the situation. His friends asked, “Ah, so he wants the real Big Bear experience, huh?” And they set about preparing it.

We left Escondido early on Memorial Day and met the other two riders in Devore. From there, we took the back way via 138 towards Big Bear, past Lake Arrowhead then into the mountains via Bowen Ranch Road. The three of them were on big KTMs and I was on my trusty Gen 1 KLR.

Upon leaving pavement, the trail was a mix of hard dirt, sand and rock. The others had aired down their tires but I left mine alone, fearing bent rims from the rocky terrain.

The riding was truly spectacular—a mix of elevation, fast straightaways and multi-surface terrain. And, of course, the scenery was breathtaking. Big Bear lake sits at 6,700’ and most of our riding was in the 7k foot range (our highest point being 7,889’). Temperatures were between 70-80 all day.

We stopped at a couple of choice locations where the air was brisk and smelled of pines...and it was silent but for the breeze. THIS is what I’d been missing all those years.

After stopping by the old Belville cabin, we rode into Big Bear for lunch. A few locations were open so we had burgers and beers on the patio at Thelma’s.

We didn’t see many other riders at all. One group we stopped to speak with was made up of some real old school guys. They were riding old carbed bikes (DRZ 350, Honda XL) and wearing jeans, work boots and no gloves. I remember those days! And we did see a slew of Jeeps and mountain bikers toward the end of the ride.

Though not really challenging, I had to pay attention to sloping sides, rutted roads and trail debris. No one had any get offs, though there were definitely some opportunities.

We only rode a total of about 80 miles, though there are MANY more miles of trails to explore. I’m told we only scratched the surface of what BB has to offer, offroad-wise. Here’s the route we took, with as many trails and fire roads as I could recall:

Coxy Truck Trail
Big Pine Flats
3N16 towards Big Bear
Holcomb Valley Rd
Bellville Cabin
Hwy 18 out of town
2N08
Skyline Drive
Bradford Camp Road
1N09 down to 38 (this long, rocky, downhill stretch was challenging and my favorite part of the ride)
Hwy 38 to Yucaipa

If you plan to ride these trails—which I highly recommend—it would be a good idea to go with someone who’s familiar with the area. Doing that made a huge difference in the enjoyment factor.

Here’s a cool link showing our route: https://www.relive.cc/view/v26M8wWPw3O



Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The thing about Death Valley: March 2020



There’s something wrong with the desert between Trona and Panamint Springs...maybe even as far as Furnace Creek. The land looks scarred, sick, as if there’s been trouble. Like battles were fought there. It’s all stirred up and grotesque. Someone did something to the terra to make it not so firma, likely early entrepreneurs trying to make money by pulling ore out of the ground. Whoever did it or however it happened, it looks terribly beautiful, breathtaking even.

Calcite, dolomite and many other ites make up hundreds of miles of frothy, salty-looking terrain that will hurt you if you allow it to get too close. Best to view it from a distance—to ride right past it. But that’s not what I did.

You see, I spent the past few days riding and walking into and through it. I let it wash all over me. I’m still brushing the fine borax dust from my boots and old motorbike. So many things come out of the ground up there that I’m not sure what’s in my eyes and hair. Minerals turned my hands chalky white. I realized immediately upon arriving that I hadn’t researched it enough, hadn’t taken it seriously. I’d never been there and no one properly warned me. Everything I’d learned about Death Valley was hearsay, rumors and lies:

“There’s a trove of hidden gold up there somewhere. There are dead bodies everywhere. The hills are alive. Stuff moves at night. The ground is blessed and cursed at the same time. The canyons talk, the sand sings. You’ll get lost if you’re not careful. You’ll find yourself out there.”

And it’s all true.

I tried to count the colors and gave up right quick. The place is a natural palette, alright. You’ll witness the entire spectrum of vibrant and muted colors from the rocks, grass, ground and sky. But those colors meant dollars and since the mid-1800’s, men came looking for them.

Who did this to you? You watched as an unwilling participant, unapproving of the damage being done. So much was taken and yet there’s so much still there, all around, as if you’re saying to those long dead, “Nice try. Please stop it.” And in 2005, the Billie Mine, an underground borax mine along the road to Dante’s View, was the last of Death Valley’s mines to cease operations. I’ll bet your sighs of relief could be heard way over in Beatty.

Extremes? Oh, yeah. I was up high in the snow, I got down low at Badwater. Other souls were there, too, looking for something...and not likely the same thing I was seeking. I passed by many of the well-known sites: The Racetrack, Teakettle Junction, the Charcoal Kilns, Father Crowley’s Overlook, Striped Butte and the Geologists Cabin. I rode up to that ranch where they found Charlie Manson hiding, too. Serene and a bit spooky, like Tex was out there watching me from the trees. But what I enjoyed most were the poorly maintained trails deep in the heart of it all: Saline Valley Road, Goler Wash, Mengel Pass, Lippincott Mine Road...places like that. I thought then of those early miners who carved these roads out of the landscape. Man against nature. Sure must’ve been a lot of dynamite in those days. They wanted to yank every last ounce of value from the earth; the Earth had other plans. The twisted, discarded machinery scattered in seemingly impossible locations hinted at who won.

And I kept riding, absorbing its beauty and its danger. An inattentive moment and a visitor could find himself on the ground. I wasn’t careful and saw the scenery up close. I tasted that gypsum-rich soil on more than one occasion. “Enjoy me, respect me.” Yes, I hear you now.

I left Death Valley knowing I’d only scratched the surface. And I knew that whatever minerals I’d rolled around in had done their work: I wanted to return, to see more, to be there in the quiet, open places. I felt a commonality with the place. I felt comfortable there—not unlike a snake handler or a demolition expert does in their environments. So, enjoy yourself but be careful...because one wrong move and you might remain part of the landscape.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Repair/replace rubber turn signal stalks on Gen 1 KLR 650

Like many KLRistas, I had some rubber turn signal stalks go bad—three at once, actually. I looked at options and ended up going with 3D Cycle Parts (available for $25 delivered from Amazon or eBay). I did this mod on my Gen 1, though the kit is also available for the Gen 2.

* Just FYI, in case you’re gonna ask: 1. I didn’t go with LEDs on this one, though I did on my other KLR. 2. While I might’ve been able to gather the parts from a hardware store or fabricate them myself, the entire kit was only $20–and it was well thought out—so I went with it.

Though I did watch the installation video about a month ago, I didn’t watch it today before I installed them. That might’ve been a good idea as there are a couple of small points that make the install go easier. Watch the video.

As well, I would’ve done things a bit differently, by using the existing nuts—or at least the same sized nuts—but that was no big deal. The install is straight forward and the entire job took less than 90 minutes...the first one taking the longest.

NOTES: 1. Your signals will be closer to the bike, though you can use spacers to push them out a bit if you like. 2. I didn’t need to remove the front cowling to do the front signal install. 3. If your bike was previously modded in any way—like mine, for an aftermarket rear rack—you’ll have to slightly tweak the install...but nothing major, usually just some wire routing. 4

I highly recommend this kit if you’d like to keep your existing turn signal set-up—whether or not yours is broken or about ready to break.

Good luck!