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Planning, prep and packing for a month-long adventure

There is SO much to write about! I can’t believe it’s mid-August already, approaching late August.  Where has the summer gone?  A good part of it has been eaten up with a new job.  I’ve been in my new position for three plus months.  Just brought someone on board two weeks ago and have been working hard on getting her up to speed to cover for me while I’m out for a month.

I can’t believe that I’m leaving in  just four weeks.  Gregg and I had planned on meeting up with Tumu Rock at the end of September in northern Mexico at the conclusion of the Baja Rally (bajarallymoto.com).  At some point in the past few weeks it became apparent that Tumu didn’t have any support crew for the rally and might need a hand.  Namely someone to drive his rig from stage to stage so at the end of the day his truck and trailer would be there for repairs, oil changes, tire changes and his sleeping set up would be ready for him.  So Gregg and I talked about it and agreed it would be fun (and an adventure) to drive to San Diego in his truck with our dirt bikes and camping gear loaded in the bed, park the truck, unload the bikes, hop on and ride down to Ensenada and load our bikes into Tumu’s trailer and serve as support crew.

Tumu's racing team logo

Tumu’s racing team logo

And so Gregg has become Team Motohawk Racing Crew Chief and Team Photographer and I Chief of Logistics and Assistant Photographer.  Turns out another New England racer, Doug Chapman is already riding in the rally and we’ll be supporting both of them.  My first assignment in the Logistics department was finding a place to park Gregg’s truck for a month while we’re off adventuring south of the border.  My former research co-worker from 1986 when I worked in San Diego now runs an orchid farm.  Yes, I’ve actually stayed in touch with this guy for all these years.  But, alas, Andy couldn’t help us.  So I was looking at the Baja Rally website and realize that I might try one of the sponsors.  So I called up a big race sponsor in Escondido, explained the situation and they have graciously agreed to allow us to park the truck for a month.

So – here’s the plan.  I need to pick up the KLX250 from the local shop where it was getting it’s once over pre-ride tech inspection, oil/filter change, check air filter and to replace all the things I’ve recently broken on it … including a fork guard, mirror mount, radiator screen, etc.  The new DirtBagz racks and bags arrived today and I plan to get them mounted on Sunday with some help from Bill H.

I will get Mexican riding and liability insurance and medical evacuation insurance.  I will pack and take a shakedown right to the early September Guzzi rally up in Skowhegan, ME.  And then on September 19th after work Gregg will come by the office and pick me up and we’ll drive straight through to Escondido.  Perhaps stopping in Colorado at my best friend’s house for a meal, shower and perhaps some sleep before continuing on to California.  Get to southern CA by the 22nd or early on the 23rd.  Park the truck and ride to Ensenada and rendezvous with Tumu and Doug.

According to their website:

The BAJA RALLY is the first and only “road-book” navigation-based rally raid for motorcycles only In Baja CA, Mexico. Taking place over 5 days in September (24-28), the BAJA RALLY features 4 days of off-road rally motorcycle racing over 800 miles of timed special stages and non-timed transfer stages. Likened to a traveling, cultural human experience, the rapidly growing BAJA RALLY 2.0 is the closest thing to the Dakar Rally to take place in North America.

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2014 Black Fly Rolling Rally

2014 Black Fly Rolling Rally Passport

2014 Black Fly Rolling Rally Passport

It’s time … the mystery  unveiled and the route shared.  This is the 18th Annual Black Fly Rally. This year it’s a rolling rally – a different place every night.  Meeting Friday at 8 AM at Dysart’s in Bangor, riding to Quebec.  Fred (Black Fly) has an amazing French dinner planned.  Then riding to Swanton, VT for the night on Saturday and then Cold Brook, NH on Sunday night.  As saving my vacation days for the month of riding in Mexico this fall I decided to ride solo up to Northern VT Saturday and meet the group at Lakeside Campground.

awesome cheeseburger – I was so hungry I took a few bites first and then photographed it

I left the house at 8:30 AM and road up out of Auburn through Hebron, out through Norway into Bethel and then over to Gorham, NH and through Littleton and out onto 93 to St. Johnsbury and then off on 2/15 to W. Danville where I had an awesome cheeseburger at the food truck by the beach.  The burger was about twice the circumference of the bun.  Good fries too.  Then I continued on to Hardwick and Wolcott and on up to St. Albans and then Lakewood Campground just outside Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge.

tent all set up - first one into camp

tent all set up – first one into camp

I pulled into the campground about 3:15 after just a spectacular day of solo riding.  Alone and filled with confidence, putting into practice what I’d learned at track day.  As I was the first one to show up I got the golf cart tour of the campground and choice a spot away from folks but with some nice trees for shade and pitched my tent.

Moo-Moo arrived about 15 minutes after I did

Moo-Moo arrived about 15 minutes after I did

I’d just poured myself an adult beverage when Moo-Moo pulled in. He rode by himself and took a different route.  He got his tent up and we had a nice visit before the next group rolled in.

Three bikes – Hannu, Steve and Scott were next to pull in.  They immediately set up camp and then heading out for some cold beer.

Then Evil Clown (aka Mike H.) and SheRidesABeemer pulled in after riding together. They’d ridden up from NH and met the group in Canada.

Hannu, Evil Clown, Steve and Scott

Hannu, Evil Clown, Steve and Scott

It was a great evening of fun, stories and sharing Hannu’s dinner and my makings for s’mores. Very nice folks next to us in an  RV provided us not only with wood but also delivered it for us.

caveman TV warming up - nice folks next to us gave us and delivered wood for us

caveman TV warming up – nice folks next to us gave us and delivered wood for us

campfire aftermath

campfire aftermath

I like camping with Evil Clown.  He’s very honest.  Told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, sit next to me.”  He and I have had some interesting campfire chats.

I learned from Hannu – the Finnish engineer who did his masters thesis on lubrication that I can use Rotella 5W40 synthetic in Margarita and she’ll be very happy and my wallet will like to much more than the Castrol I’ve been using at nearly $15/quart.  She takes a gallon and burn close to quart every 1000 miles.

By the time I got up Rich had his tent all packed up and he cleared out soon after coffee and before most folks were even awake.

Because Evil Clown and I had to be back at work the next day we decided to ride to breakfast and then part of the way home together.  While at breakfast he tagged Margarita.  A few black flies and a sticker.

Evil Clown tagged Margarita

Evil Clown tagged Margarita

GREAT weekend of fun and laughs and some truly great riding.  At least for me.

Dave C. wasn’t so fortunate.  After breakfast the group that was riding together down to Cold Brook, NH witnessed one of them go down and hard.

I am reposting here what he wrote on the ADV Rider forum.

Dave's crash

Dave’s crash

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=24392031#post24392031
Posted by: PWRCRZR
On: 06-14-2014 06:23 AM

“Lessons we learn
I have learned a lot around here over the years. Amongst all of our story telling, banter and even our bickering I have learned many tips. So I thought I would share on my recent lessons.

Image: http://chartier.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/Blackfly-2014/i-qqjW58c/0/XL/IMGP0263-XL.jpg

What looks like a simple little drop was actually a rather painful and expensive one.

I was up on the pegs rolling along a straight stretch of gravel, there were some pretty decent dried ruts but nothing looked to bad. I looked back over my left shoulder and as I did the bike drifted left and I caught the edge of a rut just back from this picture about 3 inches tall maybe, not sure what spun me out as it happened so quick. One minute I was standing there looking back the next my head was slammed to the ground and gravel was coming in my face shield.

Easy to see what happened here I looked back and took my attention off the rutted section..

So here is what I learned..

I was wearing my new AFX FX41 helmet, sorry I forgot pictures, I hit right above the top left corner of the faceshield where the visor connects to the helmet. The helmet didn’t break, barely scuffed but I ended up with quite a lump and bruise on my head. Take this for what you will and I am glad I had a helmet on as it saved me from some horrible gravel rash, but I have lost faith in low end helmets. In my mind a hit like that shouldn’t leave me with a mark on my head, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened at 70mph on pavement.. My insurance company paid full value and I am upgrading to the Arai xd4. I hope I never test it.

I ripped the leg open on my new First Gear TPG pants but they seemed to save my knee from damage, D30 armor works I guess. My insurance also replaced these as a safety item.

When I first jumped up the first thing I noticed was the pain in my left ankle, worried me. Rolled my ankle out left as expected and got caught under 650lb’s of bike. After 5 days I can honestly say it was just twisted and almost pain free now. I had on my Alpinestar Scout boots. Decent dual sport boots paid off. Quite sure if I was wearing my street boots it may have turned out worse.

I also ended up with a sore shoulder for a few days and quite a large bruise on my right thigh..I guess from the bar end.

Wearing any gear helps, good gear may help more..YMMV

The bike..

Alt rider crash bars did their job and saved the radiator from any damage.

My left side Jesse bag on the other hand got ripped off the lower mount, twisted the box up, twisted the mounting frame for the box and worse off twisted my sub frame. Boxes were fully loaded for camping.. Could be pretty easy to argue that soft bags probably would not have twisted the sub frame. But then again the crash bars and Jesse bags probably saved me further leg damage.

I also found that the factory rear luggage rack broke from the crash as well as the windshield support. I think the windshield support was victim of all the stuff on my windshield bracket. The rear luggage rack was probably from getting hit by the Jesse bag when the frame twisted.

On the plus side Progressive insurance really steps up when something like this happens. They were very pleasant and polite to deal with. I keep all my receipts for gear and aftermarket accessories and since I have a rider on my policy to pay for them it paid off. I met the agent at Woodys to look the bike over yesterday. Using my receipts Woodys prepared an estimate to replace all the damaged parts,  Progressive paid full price for every damaged item, even looked up one part and found there was a price increase since last year and gave me that. Oh and they paid for all my shipping on aftermarket accessories.

So long story short, look where you are going not where you have been, wear good gear and keep your receipts…”

Thank you for sharing your crash report with us  Dave.  I am happy to report he’s okay.  I for one am very happy to have not been with the group when he went down.

My ride home was much more pleasant than his.  I pulled into town at 5 PM and promptly treated myself to an ice cream sundae for dinner at the Dairy Joy.

well-deserved dinner

well-deserved dinner

Black Fly stats for me

Black Fly stats for me

WHACO 2014 – the tradition continues

WHACO – I can only assume it stands for WhiteHorse Annual Camp Out, but that’s just a guess.  The Maine ADVRiders have traditionally ridden over to North Conway, NH and camped at Saco River Area Camping on Friday night, gone to Whitehorse Gear’s annual open house and then ridden over to Vermont on Saturday and camped at Jamaica State Park Saturday and Sunday nights and ridden Vermont on Sunday and then home on Monday.  This year was a little different.

Kaw4Life stepped up and made the arrangements for this year’s rally.  That included trying to get in touch with the new owners of Saco River Camp Area. Turned that that was a tad more difficult than one would think.  He finally did get them to return a phone call only to learn that they wanted a three night minimum.  But he explained that we were return campers and it would be the very first weekend (May 16th) they were open.  They relented and allowed that we could just book one night, but then said no more than four adults per tent site.  So he booked two sites and I took the other one for a total of 12 adults and $165.

our tent

our tent

I left immediately after work on Friday and rode from Portland out to Buxton to meet up with Gregg.  Just as I pulled into his doorstep it started to rain.  We rode the hour in the rain to North Conway.  The rain let up just enough for us to pitch our tent.  Tyvek® groundcloths both under the tent and in the tent under our Therm-a-Rest.  Gregg’s tent has his and hers entrances and vestibules

Turns out the rain had scared some folks away.  Huck (Ed), WickedADV (Bryan), VTBeemer (Dan), 207TinMan (Gregg), Kaw4Life (Rich), Alex, Tim and me.  Most of us rode across the street – by now it had started to rain again – for dinner as it seemed Gregg and I were the last ones to show up.  Great Mexican

rode to dinner

rode to dinner

food at Jalisco and then everyone turned in as it was really pouring by 8:30.

GuyManBro (Tumu) showed up – after 11 p.m.  He’s hard core.  He rode over from Vermont, in the dark, rain and fog.  AND he took The Kanc!  The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5 mile scenic drive along NH’s Rt. 112 in northern New Hampshire that is well known as one of the best Fall foliage (leave peeper) viewing areas in the country.  The drive along the Kancamagus Highway takes you back in time as you drive through a forest that offers no comforts of the modern day world; no lights, gas stations, no restaurants, hotels or other businesses have pierced their way into the heart of the Kancamagus Highway. He is from Samoa and in true south Pacific fashion strung up his hammock and a tarp and crawled into his sleeping bag.

camp coffee

camp coffee

breaking camp in N Conway

breaking camp in N Conway

Margarita getting wet

Margarita getting wet

damp morning

damp morning

Kaw4Life under the tarp

Kaw4Life under the tarp

Gregg and I were the first ones up and with our tent fly dripping water droplets on sleeping bags from the knees down I decided to take full advantage of the hot showers and dryers. I took a hot shower and then threw my towel, our sleeping bags and my riding gear into the dryer.  A quarter for seven minutes.  75 cents later all my gear was dry!  We packed up the bikes and headed out to breakfast.

The next morning at breakfast he asked me, “Where are you from?”  I said,  “I live in Bowdoinham, Maine.”  He said, “Hmm I have a friend who used to live in Bowdoinham.”  I ask, “Recently?  I’ve been there for 14 years.”  He says, “Yes.”  I asked, “What’s his name?”  Tumu says, “Reggie.” I asked, “Oh – does he play tennis?”  With a rather shocked look Tumu says, “Yes!”  Turns out  Reggie is the tennis coach who rented the big house from Brent and Jo when they were trying to sell it.  I’d  had dinner with Kaye, Laurie and Margot on Thursday  night and Kaye and Margot were just talking about how Reggie is now on the road full time with the 18 year-old Reggie is coaching.  She’s now world-ranked and their heading to Mexico for a tournament.  Bowdoinham makes my world small than it used to be.  Turns out Reggie used to be in a band with Tumu’s wife!  Pretty funny.

We headed over to Whitehorse Gear’s open house for some shopping and lunch.

early arrivers at Whitehorse

early arrivers at Whitehorse

After lunch our fearless leader and Huck decided to head home. Sallies!  They stayed for the not-so-nice weather and bailed as soon as the weather broke.  We picked up one more and the five of us decided to ride to VT together.  Gregg, John, Dan and I followed Tumu into Vermont to Jamaica State Park.

En route, with helmets on and bikes running Tumu asked me …. “How comfortable are you off-road?”  There was no doubt, I was on a big bike (955 cc) with street tires and had the least off-road experience of the group.  I replied, “Baby steps.”  Off we went – beautiful twisty turny roads.  Some dirt, some paved.  All was going oh-so well until we turned off onto a road that got more and more narrow.  Still paved, but down to single track.  And then all of a sudden Tumu turned right – off into the woods.  Gregg and I had comm units and I heard him in my helmet say, “Just give it gas and you’ll be fine.  If you really think it’s too technical stop and I’ll take Margarita through the tough stuff. But DO NOT stop on a hill because you won’t be able to hold the bike up or dismount.”  And just as he said that the trail (after riding over the log across the trail) went up a very steep incline.  All I can hear in my ear is, “Keep on the throttle! Stand up and lean forward.”  I was suddenly wishing I were on the little KLX250.  And then all of a sudden we popped out off the trail on to the shoulder of a paved road.  I was so shocked that we were stopping that I was squeezing with both hands as hard as I could.  I went to put my foot down and ended up rolling onto Tumu’s softbags because the bikes were so close together I couldn’t actually fall over.

I look at Tumu and I say, “BABY STEPS! Those were baby steps?”  He looked surprised and said, “Baby steps?  I thought you said baby heads!”  We all cracked up.

Dan broke off and went home and we stopped to pick up the fixings for dinner before arriving at Jamaica State Park for a great dinner of portabello burgers and sauteed snap peas and carrots.  Evil Clown (Mike) showed up just in time for dinner and spend the night watching cave man tv and a great visit with his new temptress – the red headed Italian (Moto Guzzi Stelvio).

GuyManBro, Evil Clown and JLambo

GuyManBro, Evil Clown and JLambo

 

Gregg at breakfast

Gregg at morning campfire

GuyBroMan giving the double ADV Rider salute

GuyBroMan giving the double ADV Rider salute

Tumu lead our ride to Brattleboro to the Royal Chelesa Diner for breakfast over Hogg Mountain Overlook.

Sorry Kaw4Life if your ribs are sore – but what did you expect.  You organize the rally and then went home early.

Evil Clown @ Royal Chelsea Diner

Evil Clown @ Royal Chelsea Diner

It was a great weekend.  I arrived home at 5 p.m. tired and happy!  Thanks guys for a great first ADV Rider rally.

 

Life is about learning to love the curves

Handling the curves of life smoothly and safely is a good thing. Learning to love the ones life throws at you as much as the ones on the track is key to happiness. Lean in low and roll on the throttle. Stay on your toes with a loose upper body and remember to look through the curve. No target fixation, always adjusting where you’re looking to where you want to be. Soft and smooth. Be deliberate. Remember – when in doubt gas it!!  All good track policies and life ones as well.

en route to 240 via UU

en route to 240 via UU in Missouri

curves in the road - finally!

curves in the road – finally!

my favorite kind of road sign

my favorite kind of road sign

I have found that sometimes life, just like the road, gives you warnings about upcoming curves – and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes unexpected curves are a good thing – especially after riding the length of Kansas. And sometimes things get a little messy – both in life and in motorcycling.  The thing I knew for sure was that by going to Fishtail Riding School at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH I was going to get comfortable with the 12 turns of the road course there. The first few laps following my instructor (Joe) were a bit hairy and scary – even with the white x on the track to let you know where you should be to have the proper line coming into each turn and the cone on its side marking the apex in each turn.  But with each lap and each session I got more comfortable and more relaxed.  And quicker.  Still not hanging my knees out.  The only time I scrape my knee is when I’m on my way down to take a soil sample!  Luckily for me, I and the bike, stayed upright all day.  Can’t say the same for everyone in attendance.  Some folks either ran out of track or traction, but no one required an ambulance ride.

the motorcycle track at Loudon, NH

the motorcycle track at Loudon, NH

Yup, I did say it.  I went track day at Loudon.  It was after all Cinco de Mayo and one can’t name one’s bike Margarita and not celebrate appropriately.  So back in January I decided to enroll with Fishtail.  I know I’m all about riding long distances and not riding fast, but I still thought it would be interesting to try it.  So I did.  Got lapped and someone passed me on the inside (a no-no for track day) but I did manage to drastically change the wear pattern on Margaritas tires.

chicken strips almost gone and it's only lunch time

chicken strips almost gone and it’s only lunch time

Gregg came over on Sunday with his new Suzuki V-Strom 650 already track prepped and loaded in his trailer.  He’s fondly referring to his new V-Strom as his Wee-Strom.  The one he rode west last year with me was dangerously close to 100,000 miles.  Yes – that’s not  a typo. He’s got 98,000+ miles on it.  Anyway – the old one was a DL1000 and Gregg’s a BIG guy – so the new shiny red one he’s calling the Wee-Strom.  Plus when he rides it he says, “Weeeeeee.”

He was most definitely singing weeeeee all day at Fishtail.

Can't you just hear him going, "Weeeee" in his helmet?

Can’t you just hear him going, “Weeeee” in his helmet?

Learning to lean

Learning to lean

a bit more lean with each lap

a bit more lean with each lap

Moo-Moo doing all ADV riders proud by riding the pants off the Ducatis coming out of turn #10

Moo-Moo doing all ADV riders proud by riding the pants off the Ducatis coming out of turn #10

Gregg's got a Tiger by the tail - coming into the pits

Gregg’s got a Tiger by the tail – coming into the pits

It was a very long day. We pulled out of my driveway, having loaded up the bikes the night before, at 4:00 AM and headed to NH.  I decided to sit out the last 20-minute instructional track session because I was tired and had had a great day and very much wanted to keep it that was.  Gregg also decided to pass up the open track session so by 4:30 PM we were loading up and securing the bikes and by 5 PM we were on the road heading back to Maine.  Got back to my house around 8 PM having picked up a pizza on the way home.  We unloaded Margarita I put back the fuses I’d pulled (no headlights, brake lights, turn signals, horns) and put the license plate and mirrors back on and rigged up the tank bag straps.  We ate our dinner and by the time I showered and crawled into bed it was just after 9 PM.

The next day was my very first day at the new job!  What an awesome way to start the new job.  Thanks Gregg.

 

Planning the 2014 ride

I just requested approval to be out of the office from September 20th until October 19th! Gregg and I have started talking about trailering our bikes and hopping in his truck on the afternoon on September 19th when I get out of work and tag-team driving somewhere in the Southwest.  Probably to Dean’s brother’s house in AZ. Leaving the truck and trailer, unloading the bikes and our gear and taking a serious ride around AZ and into Mexico for 15 days.  Then trailering up to Moab, UT and riding out there for 10 days before heading east again so I can starting riding my desk again on October 20th.

2013 Ride out West – Epilogue

Wow – not really sure where to start or what to say.

In no particular order …

… one of my friends commented, “What a wonderful once in a lifetime ride.”  That is NOT AT ALL how I am thinking of it.  For me it’s just the first of many long distance rides.  Like other long distance riders the day I got home (even before I got home) I started thinking about the next ride.

Longer, further, perhaps leaving a bit earlier in October?  Maybe again in the Spring before Gregg’s kayaking season starts. Making it to Moab, the Grand Canyon, to Colorado and up 40 from Colorado Springs to Breckenridge and Boreas Pass. Lisa-kay just moved from Helena to Bonner, MT and I want so badly to ride Lolo Pass with her. Shoot. I just want to ride Big Sky country with her.

No matter what I’m looking forward to the first Spring ride up to the Maritime Provinces with Rich and/or Gregg.  Camping in Nova Scotia, sunrise in Cape Breton, a visit to Campobello Island, a piece of pie at Sarah’s in Machias?

Day 19 – final day of the ride: Brookfield, CT to Northampton, NH and then to Falmouth, ME

Final day of the 2013 Trip Out West ride:  The last day of our ride started early.  We were up by 5:30 AM – not unusual for Gregg but it was the first time I got up at that hour.  Gregg made coffee and we started packing up our gear.  I had planned on dropping Margarita at the Triumph dealer in Falmouth on the way home.  She was close to 4,000 past due for her 24,000 mile service and in need of a new set of sprockets and a chain as well as a new clutch cable.  Bill H. picks up his daughter in Portland and said if I could be there at 2:30 that he’d provide a ride home.

By 6 AM I had  my usual “Morning Tigger” text from Moo-Moo.   Turned out he’d taken the day off and was driving heading down to Northampton, NH to Max BMW to finalize the buy back of his 1200 GS Adventure.  Gregg and I agreed to meet him there for moral support and then take him to lunch.

the Three Musketeers reunited

the Three Musketeers reunited

Riding north from Brookfield was lovely – warm and bright.  A delightful late Fall day.  But going home wasn’t where I wanted to be going.  I agree with Gregg that getting home before it really gets cold, or wet is a  great idea.  But at the same time I am not ready to come in off the road.

The infamous "Welcome to Maine" sign

The infamous “Welcome to Maine” sign

Gregg and I headed north after lunch and Moo-Moo wasn’t far behind us.  It was really hard to wave goodbye to Gregg as he got off the Maine Turnpike at the Saco exit. He could have gotten off in Kennebunk and taken the fun route home but opted to ride with me north for a few more miles.

Waving farewell was hard.

waving good-bye to Gregg as he split off for his last few miles home

waving good-bye to Gregg as he split off for his last few miles home

I proceeded north by myself to Falmouth.  As I pulled off 295 I could see Moo-Moo’s truck behind me.  I know I’m not alone, but sometimes it feels like it.

It was hard to leave the bike at the shop and continue home – chauffeured in a truck.  But the statistics show that most motorcycle accidents happen within 20 miles of home.  I avoided the risk by getting a ride home for the last 25 miles.

Stayed tuned for the epilogue and the planning for next year’s ride. Longer, more states, more miles and a whole lot more smiles.

Remember: for ALL the pictures and videos go to gbolton.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2013-Trip-out-West/. Videos coming soon!