There and Back Again, Chapter 1 - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-05-2006, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 71
There and Back Again, Chapter 1

There and Back Again
A Hobbi?.er, Rider?s Tale


Wow, what a trip. It?s amazing just how quickly 6 days can seem to fly by when you are riding a motorcycle across the country. There were a lot of very good moments, and there were also some very bad moments. I met some very wonderful people along the way and got to experience firsthand that no matter where you are from, or what you ride, as long as you ride you are a brother in spirit.

But perhaps I should start at the beginning, with my departure from home the evening before I was to ?officially? begin my assault on what would be my most ambitious endurance ride to date ? a Border to Border ride, from Canada to Mexico, with a Saddlesore 1000 and Bunburner 1500 thrown in for good measure.

Friday, September 1, 2006
~1730hrs (T-12 hrs)

Having gotten out of work early, I had run off and gotten some last minute shopping done, then headed home for a shower and a bite to eat before I finished packing up the bike to head south to my designated start location.



After saying goodbye to my parents and my daughter, I headed off to gas up the bike and hit the road. My dad, packing my daughter along behind him, rode with me for the first 20km, then I peeled off to hit the #2 southbound to Calgary and points beyond.

Stopped to visit my brother in Calgary briefly and to get some cash from him, then headed off to see Steve Broadhead elsewhere in the city. He was hunting electrical gremlins on his ST, and I was there to get his signature as a start witness (a little unorthodox, I know, as I would be starting 200km and 8hrs away from him). Finally, at around 9pm, I said goodbye to Steve and hit the highway again, with the intention of getting to Lethbridge that night for a nice comfy 5 hrs of sleep in a motel before I had to get up and officially start my endurance ride.

About an hour down the road, I stopped in High River to grab something hot to drink and a quick snack, as well as throw on some extra layers as it was starting to get cool out. Typical for me, however, being as rushed as I was, I completely forgot that I had plugged in my electric vest when I left Steve?s, and when I hopped off the bike and stepped backwards, the cord stretched out and pulled the plugs apart. Given that the vest never did work again after that, my only thought is that I pulled the wiring apart inside the vest, as the connection on the bike and the fuse are still good. Another painful lesson in paying attention.

Rolled into Fort MacLeod shortly before 2300hrs, and decided that I was going to grab a cheap motel there, rather than push on to Lethbridge that night. It would just mean that I would have to get up about 10 minutes earlier in order to cover the distance to Lethbridge so that my start time there would be as close to 5am as I could get.

After unpacking what I needed off the bike and making sure that it was locked up, I set my (newly purchased) Screaming Meanie for 5hrs and settled into sleep.

When they say these things will wake the dead, they most certainly are not kidding. I think I was awake and lunging for the ?off? button before that infernal device had emitted it?s second tone at the ?10 minutes to go? mark.

After having a shower and getting dressed, I repacked the bike and headed off into the pre-dawn darkness, with my destination being Lethbridge and my first gas stop to get my official start time. Once that happened, the clock would truly be ticking and I would have 24hrs to get to Page, AZ to get my SS1000 mileage done, and only an additional 12hrs to get to Nogales, MX for the BB1500 mileage and my precious B2B.

0522, Sept. 2 2006 (23544.1km)

Topped off my tank at the Esso station in Lethbridge and started the clock counting down. After I explained to the clerk what I was doing, he was more than happy to sign my witness form and start me on my way. For his trouble, he received a ?Canada? neck lanyard (I packed some ?Canada? souvenirs to hand out to my witnesses as a token of appreciation. Much better than a generic ?Thank You? card in my opinion).

Rolled out of the Esso station and picked up Highway 4 to take me south to Coutts and the crossing into Montana. Unfortunately, approximately 54km down the road, my GPS decided to have ?issues? and dumped my route. Oh well, at least I can still use it to monitor my actual speed and keep a running total of my mileage. Or so I thought.

When I arrived at the border, I handed the guard my ID and asked where the nearest place to get something hot to drink was, as the temperature was hovering around 8C and I was a little chilled (damn that non-functional electric vest!) ?Shelby is the closest, about 30 miles down the road?. He waved me through, I thanked him, and headed off into what was now getting to be sunrise.
Stopped in Shelby to grab a hot chocolate and a quick bite to eat, as I hadn?t had breakfast yet. I was planning to do that when I got to my next gas stop, scheduled to be Great Falls. Again, things wouldn?t quite go as planned. Northern Montana doesn?t have much in the way of scenery, but it does have a lot of wind, and this affected my mileage so much that I was very shocked when my bike started to sputter and I had to flip to reserve about 10 miles north of Vaughn Montana.

0836, Sept. 2 (Vaughn Montana, 23826.2 km)

Filled up the bike and shivered a bit, as the temperature had been steadily dropping as I headed south (what the heck is up with that?) I think it stopped getting colder when my thermometer hit 2.6C, and I wouldn?t start to see the temps climb again until I hit Great Falls.

1022, Sept. 2 (Montana City, Montana, 23992.6 km)

Was starting to get back on track and did a quick gas and go. Oil level on the bike was fine, and everything was running smoothly.

1248, Sept. 2 (Dillon, Montana, 24194.3 km)

Pulled in for fuel again, and saw a brand new BMW R1200GS at one of the pumps. I knew which gas pump I was going to. As I was fuelling up, the owner of the bike came out to check out my ride, and when I told her who I was and what I was doing, she recognized me right away. Her enthusiasm for my ride and encouragement picked up my spirits and gave me a new drive to keep going. After some well wishes on both sides, I rode off, with my intended destination being Idaho Falls for fuel and lunch.

1520, Sept. 2 (Idaho Falls, Idaho, 24424.3 km)

Fueled the bike at the Flying J and myself at the McDonalds ? gotta love their dollar menu. Also called my SS1000 finish witness, Doug Banfelder, to let him know where I was and that I was running a little behind schedule due to the winds and the slowly increasing temperature. I had been hoping to be further south at this point in time.

1739, Sept 2 (Perry, Utah, 24678 km)

I had wanted to make this a quick gas and go, but the heat was starting to get to me, and I refilled my hydration pack and gave the bike a once over to make sure that it was handling the heat. Still hadn?t burned a drop of oil, and I was fairly impressed. These bikes are supposed to have a reputation for burning oil when running for a long time at freeway speeds. Of course, I had been trying to keep my speed down to between 70 and 75 mph in order to maximize my fuel economy. I was getting into a nice steady groove and eating up the miles, even though I was still running behind.

2124, Sept 2 (Nephi, Utah, 24903.8 km)

This was a long stop, as I was getting tired and needed a breather. Got to talking to a wonderful mormon gentleman by the name of Kevin who gave me some great advice about things to watch for and where I would be able to get gas on my chosen route. Thanks Kevin, your advice was spot on. Also tossed my extra layers back on, as the temps were starting to come down and I knew I was going to be heading into the mountains in just a few more miles.

2337, Sept. 2 (Beaver, Utah, 25085.5 km)

Stopped for fuel and also gave Doug another call to let him know where I was and that I figured I would be at least another 2 hours or so getting to Page. Boy, was I ever optimistic. After I left Beaver I headed off down I15 for the last time that night, turning off to head East on SR20 over the mountains. I started to doubt my choice of routes when the first thing I encountered was a Texas gate and a long climb with several warning signs ? deer, elk, and cows. ?Great, just what I needed to watch out for at this time of night?

The state really needs to put up another warning sign on that road though, for rabbits. I had more close encounters on that short 20 mile stretch of sadistically slow and twisty pavement with the small furry vermin than I did with bambi. Never did see any elk or cows though, for which I was thankful. Once I got onto US89 I was able to get my speed up to a much more respectable 50 ? 60 mph, still staying on the lookout for critters.
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-05-2006, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 71
0223, Sept. 3 (Kanab, Utah, 25272.3 km)

Last fuel before Arizona, and I was stoked. I was running well behind my planned schedule, but I was still on track to make it to Page within the 24hrs to get my SS1000. Hit the road again and headed East for the last 70 miles before breakfast. The road was a little rough, and I still had to watch out for bambi (again, no deer, but just about spiked Wiley 3 miles out of town). It was a beautiful stretch of road, and one that I thought would be nice to ride during daylight when I could actually see the scenery around me (haha, fool that I am). Started to get tired when I got closer to Big Water, Utah, but when I got to the top of the last rise before I started my descent to Glen Canyon dam and the bridge over the Little Colorado River, I really perked up. At the ?Page, 9 miles? sign I was almost cheering in my helmet, as I knew I was going to make it.

As I rolled over the bridge, I could see the lights of the dam and thought to myself ?this isn?t so bad, it?s not that far down to the water?

Yah, silly me. Thank god it was as dark as it was and I couldn?t see the reality of it.

0356 MST/0456 MDT (Page, Arizona 25389.7 km)

All times after this are Mountain Standard Time. Arizona does not use Daylight Savings Time. This really buggered me up initially.

Rolled into the parking lot of Denny?s where Doug Banfelder was waiting for me. After some initial greetings, we headed inside to where he had taken over a booth to get the paperwork signed and also to get me some food ? I needed the receipt to show my arrival time, so I ordered quickly and asked for the bill at the same time.

While we shared coffee (my first in over 20hrs) and I had something to eat, Doug and I discussed my options for how to continue. I had made it to Page within the 24hr window to get my SS1000, but I was still over 3hrs behind schedule. I had initially planned to grab a couple hours of sleep in Page, but that option was quickly dismissed. The food was picking me up and re-energizing me, so we decided to top up the tanks on our bikes and push on to Flagstaff. If I was too tired to continue there, then we would find a cheap motel and I would try to grab some sleep. Doug hadn?t slept much himself while waiting for me, but he volunteered to ride with me all the way to Phoenix, where he lived. We could keep an eye on each other this way, and he knew the roads. So we took a quick photo, then headed off to fuel up the bikes and hit the road



0453, Sept. 3 (Page, Arizona, 25391.8 km)

Fueled up and headed off into the sunrise.

As we climbed out of Page and up to the top of the escarpment, I started to have some power problems with Kylie; she just didn?t want to run very well, and seemed to be skipping a beat every so often. I chalked this up to the altitude we were heading up to and settled into the ride as best as I could.

Coming down off the bluff into the Navajo Reservation was very scary for me, as I?ve never been a big fan of downhill curves (that whole thing about gravity working against you), and there were a lot of curves on this short stretch of pavement, with a really nasty drop off on one side and solid rock on the other. I was glad to get down into the valley, where we could roll along and admire the view. I wished I could have stopped to take pictures, as the bluff looked spectacular in the light of the rising sun.

As the sun came up though, I started to get tired, and I pulled ahead of Doug as we got closer to Grey Mountain, just outside of the Reserve Lands. I needed to get off the bike and take a walk around. Doug bought me a hot chocolate and he had an iced coffee drink, as he admitted that he had started to get a little tired as well. I also took this opportunity to adjust my chain, which had started to stretch a little, and gave it a shot of lube. Doug rolled the bike forward while I waddled along behind spraying the chain (really need to get myself a Scottoiler). After a few minutes, we pushed on towards Flagstaff and cooler temperatures. Doug led the way through the interchange between US89 and I40, which would take us to I17 and south to Phoenix.

0802, Sept. 3 (Munds Park, Arizona, 25639.5 km)

Stopped for a quick gas and go, then pushed on to Camp Verde for second breakfast.

After Camp Verde, the land started to go down again, and we wound our way down out of the mountains and into the valley, where the temperature started to climb, and I really started to feel uncomfortable. As we got into Phoenix, Doug waved goodbye and peeled off to his exit towards home, leaving me to navigate the rest of the way through to the end on my own. I was feeling the heat by this time, and starting to question why I was doing this. The traffic in Phoenix, and the sheer size of the highway (8 lanes each direction with heavily banked curves) was starting to take it?s toll on my, and really weighed heavily on my mind.

As I finally navigated my way onto I10 towards Tucson, I rolled into a Flying J for what I hoped would be my last fuel stop before Mexico.

1133, Sept. 3 (Phoenix, Arizona, 25868.0 km)

The heat, lack of sleep, and the sheer stupidity of Arizona?s ?prepay for fuel? setup was really getting to me, and I was extremely pissed off at the clerks in the truck stop. I?m on a motorcycle for cryin? out loud. How the hell am I supposed to know exactly how much fuel it?s going to take? Somewhere between 4 and 5 gallons I think. After I left my entire wallet with them, they were finally nice enough to turn the pump on for me so that I could fuel up. I also bought a gallon jug of cold water and a 32oz Powerade while I was at it. Used the water to refill my hydration pack and soak down my t-shirt and bandanna, while I guzzled a good portion of the Powerade and had a smoke. Finally got my ass out of there and back onto I10, thinking that I wasn?t far from Tucson and the last stretch to the finish.

Shortly after I saw the sign saying that it was 92 miles to Tucson, I started to have a complete breakdown while I rolled along. The oppressive heat was sapping my energy and the lack of sleep was starting to make me loopy. As I rolled along, the only thing that I could think about was how much I just wanted to be home with my girlfriend and away from there. The fact that I still had to ride back through what I was experiencing to get home just made things worse. For the first time during the whole ordeal, I seriously thought about just giving up and quitting the ride, to the extent that I had tears streaming down inside my helmet. I remember Steve Broadhead telling me about a similar experience he had during one of his rides. I now know how you felt Steve.

As I continued to roll along though, I remembered that I had other people waiting for me in Nogales, and I couldn?t let them down. I also remembered a message that my girlfriend had left on my voicemail, telling me that she had faith in me and she knew that I could make it. This gave me the will the keep going, and I gritted my teeth, continued to sip the (now lukewarm) water from my drinking tube and pushed on to the end. As I came to the junction of I10 and I19, I saw one of the most welcome sights that I had ever seen ? a sign telling me that all distances were in kilometers from that point on. Looking at the mileage to Nogales, and the time remaining on my countdown timer, I knew I was going to make it. I was on the home stretch, and still had a couple hours of leeway.

1422, Sept. 3 (Green Valley, Arizona, 26062.7 km)

Stopped at the Texaco to top up the bike and put my rain gear on, as I was starting to get rained on. I was both annoyed and overjoyed. Annoyed, as the rain was going to slow me down a little bit, but overjoyed because the storm was also dropping the air temperature down to a much more tolerable 20C. I was finally comfortable for the first time since I had left Flagstaff.

After gassing up the bike and making sure the stuff I didn?t want to get wet was safely tucked away, I headed off into the now slacking off rain. A couple miles down the road, and the rain quit altogether. Having a full tank of gas and only slightly damp pavement, I was no longer concerned about conserving fuel, and wicked the bike up to a blistering 80mph for the last stretch.

As I got into Nogales Arizona and made the turn to enter Mexico, I was at the go/no-go point of the trip. The next few minutes would make or break my trip. If Mexican Customs let me in, I was home free. If they refused me entry, I was hosed. I rolled up to the entry lane and waited for the light to go green so that I could move forward. One of the officials waved me into the line and I came to the Red Light/Green Light station. If the light turned green, I was free to enter Mexico, no questions asked. If the light turned red, I would have to pull over to the side and produce my paperwork and go through the whole customs rigamarole. I sat on the bike and patiently waited for the computer to make its decision.

Green.

Restraining myself from cheering, I snicked the bike into gear and rolled into Mexico. I had done it.

After aimlessly riding around in the chaos for a few minutes, I finally managed to snag a guide who took me to a secure underground parking lot. I locked up the bike, took a couple pictures to ensure nothing went missing while I was gone, and explained what I needed. My guide took me a couple blocks down to a jewelry shop for my first purchase in Mexico and my finish receipt. Once I had that done, I was finally able to relax. My goal had been reached, and everything after that was pure cake.
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-05-2006, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 71
1530, Sept. 3 (Nogales, Mexico, 26143 km)

Bought some jewelry and some leather (which I know I paid way too much for. I didn?t care), then headed back to the bike and loaded up my spoils. After bidding my guide goodbye, I headed deeper into the city to get myself turned around and into the exit lane back to the U.S. and my finish witness waiting for me.

Sitting in the line waiting to leave Mexico, I called Duane and let him know where I was and that I would be meeting up with him shortly. Snapped a couple pics while I was in the line.




Also bought a small Mexican flag from a vendor while I was in the exit line (which now adorns my bedroom wall). Rolled up to the U.S. Customs booth, declared my purchases, and was allowed to roll off back into Arizona. After about a half hour of meandering around Nogales (Arizona) I finally found the Burger King where I was meeting Duane and got my finish paperwork done, as well as grabbed a bite to eat.

35 grueling hours, but I had finally done it.

After having a bite to eat, I called my girlfriend to let her know that I had made it, then called my parents to give them the good news as well. Fatigue started to set in, so I packed my precious paperwork on the bike, then headed off to the outskirts of Nogales and the Motel 6 where I grabbed a room for the night. I spent the first couple hours reorganizing all of my belongings, packing away things that I knew I wasn?t going to need again for the trip home, and getting things I might need a little more accessible.

Finally, after about 40hrs with no sleep, enduring some of the worst temperatures I have ever ridden in, I finally crawled under the covers and switched off the light.

Alarm clock?

Not on your life.

I wasn?t going to get up until my body decided it had had enough of sleep.



The End (for now)

Owen Clark
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-06-2006, 12:13 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: San Martin, CA
Posts: 153
Oh my Gosh!!!

I have not read that one before. 35 hours. your insane. good for you gadget.

Steve - Tazmanian Devil
00 KLR
PTB - FTM - KTF
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-07-2006, 02:53 AM
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 42
I just did my first KLR SS1000 last week. I remember riding that last 100 miles and thinking to myself, "What nut would ever do the 1500?" I guess I just found one. Good for you!

Did you forget the printed fuel receipts the farther you got? Just asking. Most people do. Yeah, I did. :?
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