Big Bend National Park

Due to the stupid way that Dwayne and I accrue our vacation time at work now under our employers new policies, we both ended up with a week of vacation left over in January that we needed to use or else we were going to lose at the end of the month. We decided to find somewhere warm to haul the bikes and we chose Big Bend National Park in Texas.

I booked us the cutest little casita in Terlingua at Agave Terlingua. It is a 15 hour drive from our house to Terlingua though, so we had to make an overnight stay along the way. It was a really long 2 days of driving, and there really isn’t anything at all worth seeing along the way until you get off the interstate and start heading south towards Terlingua. From there the mountains start coming into view and the scenery gets more and more interesting.

We actually stayed about an hour and a half outside of Terlingua the night before we were set to start riding because we wanted to use a rewards night at a Holiday Inn Express instead of paying for a 3rd night in the casita, so that morning we had to find somewhere to park the truck and trailer since we couldn’t get into our casita until later in the day. Once we had the rig parked, we unloaded the bikes and suited up. It was still pretty cool in the morning, so we started out with our layers on, but we knew it wouldn’t be too long before we would likely be shedding those.

The route I had planned for the first day would have us hitting a gravel road right inside the park entrance that would take us South down to the Santa Elena Canyon. It was a very novice road, perfect to get the day started, and the view as we approached the canyon was breathtaking. We stopped for pictures as we got closer, not knowing how much better the views would get.

Once we made it to the canyon, we took turns watching the bikes while the other walked the path to the entrance of the canyon to snap some pictures and stand in the Rio Grande. I went first and when I came back Dwayne was excited to tell me that he’d seen a real life Roadrunner. I was sad that I had missed it, until I ended up getting to see it while I waited for him. Unfortunately the little bugger was too quick for me to get my phone out to get a picture of him.

Once we were back on the bikes, we traversed some twisty pavement en route to our next section of gravel on River Road. This road was a bit more intermediate as it had a lot of sandy wash sections, as well as some slightly rockier sections. I was leading and I was feeling confident on the 1090, which meant that I was dusting Dwayne out behind me unintentionally, especially when I would hit a fast section and twist the throttle harder, eliciting my own giggles of pure joy, which has proven to be a common occurrence since purchasing the 1090.

Even with the dusty conditions, Dwayne was having a good time and was enjoying the scenery very much. When we got to the turn off for Black Gap Rd, I stopped and asked how he was feeling and if he was up for more gravel, and possibly a bit more of a challenge. He said that he was, so we made the turn that would take us North instead of further East.

Now, I’m just going to go ahead and admit, in my brief research, I had seen a few mentions from people that there were a few sections of Black Gap Rd that were harder than anything else found in the park, and a few people had mentioned that they wouldn’t personally attempt it on a big bike. I didn’t see anything too alarming though, and I know we’ve ridden things in the past that others have said they wouldn’t attempt on a big bike, so I don’t really hold a lot of stock in that. Especially when everything else in the park up until that point had been really tame, so I assumed Black Gap would just be a bit more of a challenge, and more like what we are used to.

We should have took it as a warning of what was to come when about a mile or two into that road, Dwayne inexplicably lowsided at about 25mph. He still doesn’t really know what happened, other than the fact that there was a large mound of loose gravel in the middle of the 2 track and he thinks he may have gotten his front wheel into it, which has a worn out TKC80 on it, and he thinks maybe it just washed and down he went. I was in front of him, so I didn’t see it, but I heard it through our bluetooth headsets. I came to a stop and ran back to him to make sure he was okay and to help him get his bike up. He was in some pain, but he insisted that he would be okay. He didn’t want to backtrack, he felt like he could continue on. The bike was a little banged up, but nothing major, so after a quick breather, we saddled back up and continued on.

A few miles later we came around a curve and I could see a ledge ahead of us so I stopped and got off the bike to go walk it and see what to expect. It was about a 2-3 foot step down, with some large rocks scattered about. We scouted our best line, and although I was pretty nervous, I decided to go first. After psyching myself up, I went for it, and realized that with the ground clearance and the suspension on that KTM, it was a really easy task. Honestly, I probably would have been better off to have hit it with more speed and just jumped right off of it. I was a little worried about the Tiger and it’s lack of ground clearance and suspension, but Dwayne cleared it just fine as well. At this point, we both agreed that this was a point of no return, because although the KTM would have made it back up that ledge okay, I’m not as sure about the Tiger. I was glad that we had chosen to ride this road South to North instead of the other way around.

Pictures never do the steepness justice

A short distance later we came upon a Toyota 4Runner stopped in the middle of the road. The wife was outside the truck trying to direct the husband which way to go because it was a pretty gnarly, rutted out section. They tried to flag us to go on around them, but there was no way for me to get around the truck where he was sitting because he was blocking the best path, so I told her he was going to have to go first and I left as much room as I could for him to get past me. Once he had moved far enough forward, I was able to continue around him, doing my best to stay out of the deep ruts and get over the large embedded rocks. I was pretty relieved to get through this section unscathed, and I was also really excited about it.

At this point, I assumed the worst was probably behind us, the things I had seen mentioned said it was only a small portion of this road that was more advanced, and we had already hit two sections. That’s when we came across the 3rd hard section. This one was a bit more nerve wrecking as it had a drop off down the mountainside on the right side of the road, and the road was riddled with ruts and large embedded rocks. It was also a hillclimb, so you’d need to keep up speed to make it to the top.

I got up on the pegs, twisted the throttle, and did my best to pick a good line. At one point the back tire slipped off a rock towards the edge of the road, so I ended up abandoning my intended line and rode right over the top of some big embedded rocks to get myself away from the edge. Thankfully the 1090 suspension just soaks that stuff right up, and I rode it out, then I had a short flat distance to reset before hitting a steeper incline that had more ruts, embedded rocks, and some smaller ledge step-ups. I held a steady throttle and chose my line again, and I made it up no problem. My heart was definitely racing though, and I was concerned about Dwayne making it up on the Tiger with less suspension.

I stopped and got off the bike just as he came up on the flat section before the 2nd incline and stopped. At this point, he was in quite a bit of pain from his crash and was getting exhausted from manhandling the Tiger through the terrain it had no business being in. I told him to take a breather while I hiked on up to the top to see if there was more gnarly stuff ahead or if we were almost through it. I was happy to find that everything looked much more tame at the top, so I hiked back down and took a few pictures. Dwayne decided it would be best if I walked back down and gave him a hand getting the Tiger up the ledges and I fully agreed, neither of us wanted to risk him or the bike ending up going off the cliff.

Once we got the Tiger past the obstacles, we saddled back up and continued on up to the top of the hill. From here things tamed back down a bit, which was good because we were both a bit worn out from getting through those tough sections. I was still leading and was calling out obstacles to Dwayne, which were mostly unexpected washed out sections. I could hit these with a bit of speed and the 1090 suspension would soak it up no problem, but if Dwayne were to hit it at that same speed, he would bottom out the Tiger’s road-based suspension pretty easily, so I did my best to warn him so he could slow down a bit before hitting them.

At one point I came around a corner and there was a short, but steep decline section that was off-camber, I told Dwayne it didn’t look bad at all and that I was just going to take the high side, because the low side had some ruts and rocks. I probably would have been okay if I had been running lower tire pressures, but I had forgotten about airing down before we took off that morning, and about a 3rd of the way down I felt my back wheel slip and slide down onto the low side as it tried its best to pass my front wheel and down I went. My engine guards got their first good ding (as did the exhaust), and I landed face first in a thorny bush. Dwayne had to help me get it upright because it kept wanting to slide down the hill, but we finally managed to get it stable and he held it steady while I climbed on and rode it the rest of the way down and across a sandy wash. We had to laugh a bit that we had both managed to crash on relatively easy sections, but had both made it unscathed through the more difficult stuff.

Towards the North end of Black Gap Rd right before it meets up with Glenn Springs Rd, the road narrowed down and the vegetation was overgrown. There was standing water and mud, which I am assuming was due to Glenn spring. At first I was unsure if the road even continued on, but we figured it must, so we continued on through it. After making it through this section, we came out of it and there was what looked like the remains of a road to our left, and then a steep hill to our right. After taking a minute to figure out for sure which way we were meant to go, we went right and up to the top of the hill, where we came to the intersection at Glenn Springs Rd.

As we went to turn out, there was a 2WD tundra with a bed camper turning down Black Gap Rd. I told Dwayne I’d better stop them and make sure they realized what they were doing because I wasn’t sure that 2WD Tundra would make it back out of there very easily if they attempted to drive down there. Unfortunately for me, when I stopped, I didn’t realize how off-camber the spot I stopped was, and when I went to put my right foot down, all I got was air and by the time my foot hit ground, I was leaned too far over to hold the bike up, and I had to drop it. The nice older couple hurriedly jumped out of their truck and helped me to pick the bike back up, and I embarrassingly explained to them why I had tried to stop them, and then asked them how the road was that they had just come off of, which was the direction we were heading. They said it was a smooth dirt road and we would have no issues, so we wished each other good luck and continued on our way.

Luckily, they were right, and the rest of the dirt back to the main road was really fast and fun. We were both ready to hit the pavement again at this point, so we kept the pace pretty quick. Once we got back to the pavement I asked Dwayne if he still felt up to riding up to the Chisos Basin area since it was all pavement and he agreed. We stopped for some pictures along the way, and when we got up to the visitors center, he attempted to lie down on one of the picnic tables and quickly sat back up, yelping in pain. Laying down was not a good idea. At this point we were pretty sure he had at least bruised some ribs in his crash. We took a quick break and ate a couple of crackers and a cliff bar since we hadn’t eaten at all since breakfast that morning and then we sat off back down to the main road to head back out of the park and into town to load the bikes back up in the truck.

Damage to Dwayne’s Tiger after his crash

Once we got everything loaded up we made the drive over to Terlingua to find our casita where we would be staying the next two nights. It was absolutely lovely, with a nice view of the mountains, and a perfect spot to park the truck and trailer, I really couldn’t have chosen a better place for us to stay, and if we got back in the future we will certainy try to stay there again.

Casa Blanco at Agave Terlingua
Huge King size bed
View from out the front door

After we got cleaned up, we unhooked the truck from the trailer and drove down the street into Terlingua Ghost Town to find dinner for the night. We ended up at a pub with live music, and while the service was decent, the food was just okay, and the volume of the music was pretty rough on the intense headache that I had developed. We did end up splurging on desert after the waitress recommended the triple layer chocolate cake that was made in house, and it ended up being the best part of the meal.

The guy in the yellow shirt was playing the spoons!

After dinner we went back to the casita to turn in for the night. Dwayne was really sore and we were both tired, and we weren’t sure how well he was going to be able to sleep since he could barely stand to lay down.

The sunrise the next morning

The next morning we both agreed that dirt riding was out of the question, he definitely did not feel up to it, so we decided to ride the paved road 170 from Terlingua to Presidio, which follows along the Rio Grande. It turned out to be a really great decision, as the views were constantly changing and always incredible. The road also had tons of elevation changes and endless curves, so it was a really fun and gorgeous ride.

The Rio Grande

Unfortunately high winds were in the forecast for the 2nd half of the day, and about 3/4 of the way to Presidio we were starting to feel the winds moving in quick so we decided to go ahead and turn back. Once we got back to Terlingua we continued on past it to Study Butte to have lunch at DB’s Rustic Iron BBQ food truck because I had heard it was well worth a try. When we ordered the owner instructed us to take one of the card tables he had sitting out for customers to eat at and move it behind his trailer so we could get out of the wind a bit while we enjoyed our food. Dwayne got a pulled pork sandwich and I got the brisket. Usually I don’t care for brisket, only when it is really well done, because a lot of places don’t cook it right and it becomes dry. DB knew was he was doing though, that was some of the best and juiciest brisket I’ve had, I loved it!

It was way better than it looks!

When we were finished eating, we rode back to Terlingua to the casita and loaded the bikes back up into the trailer. We knew we were done riding as the wind was gusting well over 40mph and it was becoming unbearable. We both showered and got cleaned up, and then we relaxed in the room until dinner time. This time we decided to go try the Starlight Theatre, which seemed to be the busiest place in town. We had a bit of a wait, but it turned out to be worth it. The live music was being played at a much more reasonable level, and I quite enjoyed listening to them. I ordered a beer to drink while we waited, knowing it would be a while before our food would be served with how busy the place was. We both ordered burgers and fries, and it was much more delicious than what we had eaten the night before.

Our plans had originally been to go over towards San Antonio the next day, but we had not booked accommodations and it turned out that there were no rewards nights available anywhere we wanted to stay, unless we stayed an hour and a half from the area we had intended to go riding. We discussed staying another night in Terlingua instead, but since Dwayne wasn’t up for riding more dirt, there really wasn’t much else to ride, so we made the decision to just cut our trip short and head back for home in the morning.

Although things didn’t go anywhere near as planned, I still really enjoyed the 2 days we spent in Terlingua and the riding that we did, other than the part where Dwayne got hurt. I would very much like to go back there again in the future to ride the roads we didn’t get to ride and spend some more time in that awesome little ghost town. It has some major charm, and I could totally see making that a little winter hideaway spot.

Bringing you up to speed…

I’ve been scolded repeatedly for the fact that I have failed to post since my British Columbia trip, and it isn’t like things haven’t happened since then, because boy, they have! I just got out of the habit of writing for a while, and for that I’m sorry. I’m going to try hard to do better going forward (yeah, I know, you’ve heard THAT before).

So, to kick things off, lets get you up to speed on what happened after the team trip in BC. After the other girls left, I stayed behind an extra couple of days and filmed a product shoot for REV’IT! with CampTrend which you can view here:

That was a really fun opportunity and I made a great new friend in my riding partner, Jodi Tracey. It was cold and rainy the whole day, but it turned out so good, and let’s be honest, the PNW looks incredible all moody anyways.

After the video shoot, I got to spend an extra day in BC getting from Pemberton, where I had stayed in an AirBNB with the film crew and where Jodi lives, down to Vancouver. Aaron was nice enough to drive up from Squamish with his Sprinter van to pick me and Matt’s 1090 up (which I had kept for the shoot) and he drove us both back down to Vancouver and dropped me at my hotel before heading on to work himself. Once there, I got to spend the rest of the day hanging out and exploring a small bit of Vancouver.

The following morning I headed for the airport bright and early, but I wasn’t flying back home. Instead, REV’IT! sent me to Las Vegas to attend the launch party for the new Hertz Ride Las Vegas location. I got to meet some new friends and get to know more about Hertz Ride, and I also convinced them to loan me a BMW F750GS for a few hours the next morning before my afternoon flight. We started the party at their office location, and then they shuttled all of us to the Skyfall Lounge at the Delano where we had a VIP section with free food and drinks for the evening.

In the morning I packed my things and took an Uber back over to the Hertz Ride location. I had shipped all of my gear except my helmet and gloves home from BC, but Hertz Ride is partnered with REV’IT! to rent their gear out with their motorcycles, so they loaned me a riding jacket, and although I usually do not ride without full gear on, I rode in my casual jeans and my Sorel fashion boots. I wasn’t going to pass up on an opportunity to take a solo ride in Las Vegas, so I broke the rule I usually do not break.

I rode from their office out to the Red Rock Canyon National Coservation Area. I knew it was going to offer the best views in the amount of time I had available, and it certainly did not disappoint. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to be riding all by myself in such a beautiful place with hardly anyone else around on a Thursday morning. The temperature was perfect since it was still morning, and the smile on my face was huge!

I stopped quite a few times for pictures, but I knew that I was crunched for time, as I had one more spot that I just HAD to stop on my way to drop the bike off and head to the airport… In-N-Out!! They are only located out West, and I make it a point to swing by one anytime I’m in an area that has them. I’ll be honest though, I couldn’t remember this time why I make such a point of eating there, it didn’t seem so amazing, so I doubt I’ll go to the effort again in the future. 

From there I had just enough time to drop the bike, grab my stuff, and take an Uber to the airport to catch my flight. The morning had timed out perfectly, and I was so thankful to Hertz Ride for allowing me to use their bike and gear for a few hours.

Once I got back home, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that KTM 1090 Adventure R I had ridden in BC. That bike had left such a lasting impression on me, and I knew that it was time for me to move on from Tora. After 3 years and nearly 35k miles, it had come to the point that I needed a more off-road based motorcycle. I had planned to upgrade her to a Tiger 800 XCa model, which was the more off-road capable version where as Tora was the more road-based version of the Tiger 800. Curiosity got the better of me though, and I started looking to see what kind of deals were available on the 1090’s. 

I found a leftover 2018 model about an hour from home for $9,999 (they MSRP at $14,999), and I rode my Tiger up to their dealership to see about making a trade, but they refused to take my Tiger on trade because of how far they had the 1090 marked down. I had also found a 2019 model just like the one I rode in BC for $11,700 with all dealer fees waived, but it was located 7 hours away on the other side of Pittsburgh, PA. I called them and told them about my bike and that I was wanting to trade it in for their 1090, and by the time I got back home I had a trade-in offer. It was an acceptable offer, so we loaded Tora up in the back of the Tundra and set off for Pittsburgh. 

We stayed the night in a hotel about an hour from Pittsburgh and arrived at the dealership the next morning when they opened. Once everything was agreed upon and the paperwork was all done we loaded up my new bike and made the trek back home. I was so excited, but also felt slightly bad that I had just ditched the bike that I had loved so very much for the last 3 years.

Since then I’ve gotten it kitted out with AltRider protective parts, and I’ve bought some Mosko Moto Reckless 40L bags for it. Since we have the trailer and we don’t really ride cross-country anymore I don’t need the big, heavy hard cases, and the Reckless bags don’t require a rack to be installed, so it keeps the extra weight down and is better and safer for off-roading. I also got a Giant Loop Diablo Pro tank bag for it, which is just right for my needs and fits the tank shape well.

I’m going to wrap this post up here, but I have another post coming with details about our trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas in January, as well as another post documenting a quick trip I took to Tucson, Arizona compliments of Triumph North America last week, in which I will also give my thoughts on the new Tiger 900 Rally Pro, as well as the Street Triple RS and the Rocket 3 R. I’ll try to get both of those posts done and posted by the end of the week!

REV’IT! Women’s Team Trip 2019 in British Columbia, Canada: Day 2

Well, I’ve once again failed you all, but I promise I had a really good reason! I didn’t intentionally give you “Day 1” with the promise of more and then just leave you hanging, but some things have happened since then, I’ll get to that later though, for now I’ll tell you about day 2 of the trip to BC…

On Day 2, we got up and had coffee and a snack to tide us over until our official breakfast in Lillooet before suiting up and hitting the road.

We started the day off right with a ride down Carpenter Lake road, which is carved along the banks of the beautiful aqua colored lake it is named for. The road itself is so much fun as it is constant curves and the surface alternates between pavement and dirt, but the views of the lake and the surrounding mountains are the icing on the cake.

Erika (in front) and Kris

It was cloudy and cool, but not cold, as we enjoyed the ride to Lillooet, occasionally stopping for pictures or for the film crew to get a shot of us passing. We were also delighted to see numerous bald eagles fishing in the Bridge river, which the road follows after the dam of Carpenter Lake.

Matt (our guide)

Once we got to Lillooet we stopped at the Abundance Artisan Bakery for breakfast. We were all a little mesmerized by the vast offering of baked goods they had to offer, but we all eventually made our selections, and the caffeine fiends amongst us (that’d be me) doubled down on a second coffee for the morning. I would definitely recommend this bakery for breakfast or lunch if you’re ever passing through Lillooet, it’s worth a visit.

When we were all pleasanty full and caffeinated, we hopped on hwy 99 up to Pavilion where we left the pavement behind. We rode at a good pace through some farmlands, and eventually ended up on Jesmond Rd. This was one of my favorite roads of the trip, and not just because of the scenery, but because it was such a nice dirt/gravel road, that you could just open up the throttle and let the bike rip, which is exactly what we did!

Kris took off first, clearly chomping at the bit to see what the 790 she had traded her 690 to Erika for could do. I waited a minute or two for Amelia before she told me to go on without her that she was going to wait for Erika and Katelyn, and then I took off down the road after Kris.

***WARNING*** If you’re my mother, or really anyone who might not want to know the full extent of the crazy things I do STOP READING and skip the next two paragraphs and start reading again after the next set of pictures…

I figured I could possibly catch up to Kris, so I opened up the throttle and giggled out loud in my helmet as the back tire slid around while it worked to find traction. At each corner I would slow down, and then accelerate hard out of the curve, giggling each time as the wheel slid and then propelled me forward. I wasn’t pushing super hard at first, unsure if there were any sharp curves ahead of me, but then Matt caught and passed me and I was able to judge my corner speeds off of him as long as he was in my line of sight. I became more and more comfortable adding speed until eventually I was actually catching up to him, and then I was right behind him. I knew he didn’t have mirrors on his bike and he surely didn’t expect me to be keeping up with him, so I pulled up on his left side to let him know I was there, which in retrospect might not have been the best idea, because when he caught me out of the corner of his eye, it scared the crap out of him and he doubled over his tank and grabbed his stomach to let me know it, which made me laugh really hard in my helmet.

At this point we had caught up to Kris who was absolutely ripping on the 790, and we followed her until we came up on a ranch with horses and a shade tree by the road where we stopped to wait for the others to catch up. I excitedly exclaimed that at one point I looked down and was doing 130kph (80mph) and Matt said, “Uh, no, you were doing 140 (87mph).” I would never consider riding my Tiger that fast off-road, heck, I rarely ride it that fast ON road, but the 1090R just feels so planted and capable, it’s very confidence inspiring.

We took a short break and let everyone catch up, and then we continued on towards the Big Bar Ferry where we would cross the Fraser River. We stopped at the beginning of one of the roads to strap Julia and one of the film crew guys to the tailgate of the Raptor so they could get some shots of all 5 of us riding together. I’m dying to show you some of the shots from that, but I can’t yet, so you’ll just have to wait, but I assure you, they are pretty epic!

After the epic group shots, we stopped to allow the film crew and Julia to regroup, before continuing on our way.

Just before we made it to the ferry, there was an accident. I was in front of it and did not see it, and I’m not going to write about something I didn’t witness and that didn’t happen to me, but it meant the end of riding for Katelyn and her GS for the weekend. We decided to stop and have lunch and load her and her bike up in the Raptor before taking the ferry. She was okay, but she couldn’t walk on one of her feet, and her bike was pretty banged up. I was impressed with her sense of humor and her positivity afterwards.

After we ate our bag lunches, made for us by the Tyax Lodge, we loaded up onto the Big Bar Ferry one by one. Matt had warned us that the ferry boat captain was a bit of a grump, so we all snickered as he barked orders at Matt about how to load the bikes, and at me about where to stand. Matt was right, this guy was not going to tolerate any fun being had on his boat! Once we were all aboard and Aaron had driven the support truck onto the deck behind us, we started the float across the Fraser River. I had never been on a ferry of any type before, so I was excited to check another box off on my list of things to do on a motorcycle.

When we got to the other side and we were all successfully off the ferry and up the ramp, I took the lead as we started the climb up the mountainside. The road was covered in silt, so I proceeded up the switchbacks with caution until we were onto a more solid surface.

Once we were on top of the mountain, the views we were rewarded with were breathtaking. Amelia was following closely behind me, so the two of us stopped at a particularly stellar viewpoint to take a couple of quick photos before continuing on. To be honest, if we had done this every time we saw something worth photographing, we would still be riding now!

I let Amelia hop in front of me to take the lead and we continued on for quite a ways, stopping every so often at intersections to regroup with the rest of the team. At one point we came upon some cattle in the road, much to Amelia’s mixture of delight and terror. I told her through our Sena intercoms to proceed with caution and pass slowly, but not to stop, and so she did, spooking a yearling in the process, and scaring them both! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I saw it happen from behind her. Luckily the calf just did a few front hoof hops and scurried away from the road, allowing Amelia and I to continue on our way without incident.

Along the way at one of our stops, we had allowed the support truck to go on ahead of us; when Amelia and I caught up to them, we saw Aaron pushing a boulder off the road, over the side of the mountain. We thought that he was being nice and clearing the road from a rock slide for us, but we quickly learned that he was just being a big kid and watching the boulder plummet down the side of the mountain, gaining speed the entire way. Once the rest of the team and Matt caught up, he and Aaron rolled another boulder across the road so that everyone could watch. It was a fun little addition to our tour, and we were all delighted in watching the boulder go flying down the mountain, split into two pieces, and then explode at the bottom.

We took a short break and regrouped before continuing on our way. We were all starting to feel the effects of a long and exciting day of riding, but we still had quite a way to go to get back to the Tyax, so we resolved to stop less, and concentrate on getting back before dark. Eventually my Sena battery died and I lost contact with Amelia, so it was a surprise even to her when I suddenly hit the brakes and came to a sudden stop on the side of the road. Something had stung me on the right side of my neck, and I was immediately in hot, burning pain. Amelia saw the culprit, still stuck in my collar, and she pulled it out to reveal a dead wasp. I would have given it a good stomp had it not required getting off my bike to do so, but I was satisfied with the fact that it had died during its attack.

Eventually we made it back to Lillooet to take the Lillooet Pioneer road back to Carpenter Lake road. Other than a quick stop on some switchbacks for photographs, we all rode hard to get back to the Tyax before complete darkness could set in. I was leading ahead of Amelia, and there were 3 or 4 instances where I had to hit the brakes to allow deer to cross the road ahead of us.

Once we made it back, a couple of us went upstairs to get showered, but the rest of us along with Matt and Aaron opted to go straight to the bar for some much deserved beer and appetizers. We hadn’t intended to be out so late, but sometimes that happens, and we were all tired and hungry! Once everyone had joined us, we moved the party to the dining room and shared a meal and swapped stories until we all decided it was time to call it a night.

That wraps up day 2, I’ll do my best not to take 2 weeks to post Day 3 and all of the other exciting stuff that happened after that.

REV’IT! Women’s Team Trip 2019 in British Columbia, Canada: Day 1

I’m sorry for the radio silence this summer, but unfortunately there has been more work and less riding, and really just nothing interesting for me to write about. We’ve ridden when we could, but haven’t taken any moto trips since Red River Scramble. However, I’ve just returned from spending a week in British Columbia, Canada, partially with my REV’IT! Women’s ADV teammates and our tour guides from Mountain View Motorcycle Adventures, partially with a film crew shooting a product video for REV’IT!, and then to top it all off, I flew from BC to Las Vegas for a party… but before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s start closer to the beginning.

I flew to Vancouver last Wednesday morning, hopped in a rental car, and did some exploring on my own. On Thursday afternoon my teammates started arriving, so I played “Team Mom” and used the rental car to pick up everyone who flew in from the airport and get them all safely to our AirBNB for the night…

At least, I thought we were all safe, but the next morning I woke up to find out that one of my new teammates, Kris, had tripped in the dark and busted her bottom lip on a bar top after we had all went to bed. She had driven her truck up to Vancouver with her KTM 690 in the back from Oregon, so she quietly drove herself to the ER alone at 1am to get stitches before coming back to the house to get about 2-3 hours of sleep before we all had to get up to get ready to leave. You want to know the best part? She was all smiles, laughing and joking, and just genuinely brightening everyone’s day, even though she had every reason to be upset or negative. This girl is special, you guys, the world needs more women like Kris! I just can’t stress enough how much of a joy she is to be around.

Once we were all up and ready to go, Matt Sutherland from Mountain View Motorcycle Adventures and his friend and unofficial business partner Aaron Richardson of Marshall Lake MC came to pick us up and take us to Squamish to get our bikes for the weekend from Aaron’s house. Kris had brought her 690 and Katelyn had ridden her GS from Colorado, so that left Matt’s rental fleet of two KTM 1090 Adventure R’s for Amelia and I, and a KTM 790 Adventure R for Erika.

We put Katelyn’s GS in the back of Aaron’s Ford Raptor support truck for the drive to Squamish so she wouldn’t have to battle the gauntlet that is morning rush hour traffic in Vancouver, and the 5 of us and our photographer for a 2nd year in a row, Julia LaPalme, split up amongst Matt, Aaron, and Kris’ trucks so no one had to make the drive alone.

We made a quick stop for breakfast at a cafe in Squamish, and then arrived at Aaron’s to unload our gear and get acquainted with our trusty steeds for the weekend. I ended up with a 2019 1090 with under 3,000km that still had the original TKC80’s on it. Matt remarked how it still looked shiny and new, and I laughed as I made a hopeful promise to return it to him in the same condition in 5 days.

It took us a bit to get everything settled, but once we did, we were on our way, with Julia and Aaron following us in the Raptor. I immediately knew that I was going to enjoy the 1090. Athough it is quite tall and I can only just get a toe down, once you get it moving it doesn’t feel heavy, and it is quite nimble and easy to maneuver.

The first part of our day was pavement from Squamish to Pemberton to meet up with the film crew who would be joining us for the weekend. Camp Trend has done quite a few product videos for REV’IT! and they were hired by REV’IT! Corporate to shoot a product video with me after the tour, so REV’IT! North America had them come up early and also do a video of our tour with MVMA. This proved not to be an easy task for them, as they are used to controlling their shoots and scouting their own locations, and for this they had to essentially try to keep up with a group on motorcycles, doing long days, riding hard off road. It took all of us some getting used to having cameras following us around as well.

Once we left Pemberton, we hit the Hurley, which is a really fun dirt/gravel road that takes you from Pemberton to Gold Bridge. At this point, we stopped to air down our tires a bit, Matt gave us some pointers and explained what to expect, and then we were off. Amelia and I took the lead on our 1090’s, working our way up the switchbacks as we climbed the mountain road. She and I were hooked up via our Sena headsets, and we were both giggling loudly as we slid our back tires around as we hit the throttle coming out of each switchback. At one point we passed Matt who was pulled over to make sure everyone made it up okay, and Amelia was laughing so hard that he could hear her over the bikes as we passed. I guess that was a pretty good indication to him that we were enjoying ourselves so far!

Every so often we would stop and regroup as everyone rode at their own pace. I quickly fell in love with the 1090. The suspension feels so capable, it soaked up all of the many potholes, no matter how fast I was going when I hit them. When the back wheel would slide, rather it be from hard acceleration or braking, it would always feel controlled and predictable, not like it was going to slide out from beneath me. All of a sudden it made sense to me why there are so many “KTM Fanboys” out there. They aren’t wrong, those bikes are pretty dang good!

Eventually we made it to Gold Bridge, which meant we could gas up our bikes and head to the Tyax Lodge, but Matt had promised us some double track if we were up for the challenge, which of course we were, so while Aaron and Julia waited in the Raptor for the film crew to catch up, Matt took us to have some fun.

I was the first to start the climb on the double track. It was fairly narrow on the switchbacks, you would have a hard time passing two ADV bikes going in opposite directions, and there were some embedded rocks and downed trees on the sides of the trail as well, and a drop off on the downhill side. I was shocked at how easy it was to manuever the big 1090 on this more technical terrain, in the back of my mind I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to handle it, but I was happy to find that I was wrong.

About 3/4 of the way through the climb, I heard Amelia in my headset as she went down. I had warned her of a downed tree on the right side of the trail, and in trying to avoid it, she had hit some large rocks that put her front wheel off course. She was okay, and I couldn’t stop on the incline, so I told her I would have to keep going. I lost our connection as I got too far away from her, so I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I stopped once I made it to the top. Katelyn pulled up behind me and said Amelia had nearly ran off the trail on the downhill side, and she was somehow able to just get by her to continue up the hill. A short while later Amelia and the rest of the group arrived at the top of the hill and she showed me pictures of how her bike was hanging over the edge and she had to drag it back onto the trail so she could pick it up. Luckily she was okay and the bike was unharmed, so we continued on our way.

Once we were on top the trail was more flowy, but at one point I hit a rock that kicked me sideways and I went from one side of the trail to the other about 3 times before I managed to get it under control. I thought for a moment that I was going to end up with a KTM in a tree for a second year in a row!

When we got back to the main road, we rode back to Gold Bridge to get fuel before heading on up to the Tyax Lodge where we would be staying for the next two nights. As I entered the drive heading back to the lodge, I had a surprise encounter with a small Grizzly bear that was standing in the road as I came around the corner. We surprised eachother and it scrambled off the road and into the trees and I kept going in case it changed its mind.

Once we were checked into the lodge, we all ran up to our rooms to take a quick shower and get ready for dinner. They set us up in the dining area with a big family style table, and we ordered a bunch of appetizers and drinks to enjoy while we waited for our meals. I got a message from our friend Spencer who had taken a tour with Matt and Aaron a few weeks prior telling me to ask Matt about his throttle glove, which led to a really hilarious, albeit embarrassing for Matt, story that left us all in tears from laughing so hard as he shamelessly explained the story. I won’t go into detail, but if you ever take an MVMA tour, be sure to ask about it (sorry Matt!).

We sat and ate and told stories until we all agreed it was time for bed, and then we made our way up to our rooms for the night.

I’m going to cut this into multiple posts due to length, so check back for Day 2 in a couple of days, and then I’ll also make a post about filming with Camp Trend and my 24 hours in Las Vegas after that.

Red River Scramble: Day 3

Saturday morning, we decided to go to Miguel’s for breakfast. We suited up and hit the road, but when we got to Miguel’s the lot was absolutely packed and we both agreed we didn’t want to wait, so we decided to find another place to eat. I found a place on Google Maps that said it was open, so we turned back out onto the road. As we were pulling out I saw Jamie and Melanie waving at us from the front porch of Miguel’s and waved back at them. We would have stayed to eat with them had we seen them when we pulled in, but by that point we had already committed to moving on to the next place.

After a 10 minute ride, we pulled up at the other place to find that it was permanently closed. It would have been nice if they had notified Google Maps of their closure and taken their sign down on the main road, but hey, I’m just the person who rode 10 minutes out of my way to not be rewarded with breakfast.

I once again consulted Google Maps and found a spot in the next town that looked like it might have good, country cookin’ breakfast food, so we rode another 10 minutes over to it. Thankfully, this place was open and it appeared to be the meeting place for the local Liars Club (old guy breakfast spot), so we figured that was a good sign. Imagine my surprise, and confusion, when the menu had “Campton Country Kitchen & Hibachi” written on it…

That’s right, they not only served down home, country breakfast… but they also served Asian cuisine. I could not wrap my mind around this, those two things do not go together. Dwayne ended up asking the waitress about it, and it turns out an Asian couple bought the restaurant a few years ago and now they serve both types of cuisine. Now, I can’t speak to the hibachi portion of their business, but I can confirm that breakfast was at least decent. I wouldn’t say my eggs, bacon, or sausage were anything spectacular, they were a little overdone for my personal tastes, but the biscuits and gravy reminded me of my uncle’s that he used to make me when I would stay with he and my aunt at their home in Tennessee when I was young, and I’ve never had gravy like his anywhere else until now. It was nostalgic for me, and I loved every bite of it.

Once we were pleasantly full from breakfast, we decided to ride one of the intermediate off-road loops, so I loaded it up on my phone and we hit the road. We quickly found some of the Kentucky clay and mud that Drew had promised, as well as some interesting creek crossings. Because we hadn’t started the route in Slade like Drew had when he’d recorded the GPX tracks, we ended up riding the route in the opposite direction.

It took a little getting used to, trusting my well-worn TKC80 front and Shinko 805 rear tires on the slippery mud, but I quickly realized it wasn’t as scary as I had imagined. We certainly weren’t attacking the terrain with great speed, I think we stayed under 25mph most of the day aside from a few fast, drier sections, but we were having a blast pushing ourselves outside of our usual comfort zone. A mile or so into our first muddy section we came across two guys heading in the opposite direction and we stopped to talk to them. They warned that there was a rather deep water crossing and a really steep hill climb up ahead of us.

As we went to pull away to continue on, my bike decided that she didn’t want to start. I’ve been having issues with her ever since I got her back from the dealership a couple of weeks ago from having her cam chain tensioner replaced, but I haven’t been able to dig into the issue or take it back to the dealer yet. I had a moment of panic thinking, “Oh hell, we are in the middle of nowhere and getting this bike out of here is not going to be easy or cheap.” but after a few attempts, I finally got her to start and stay running and we continued on our way.

Shortly after that we were going through a section with some pretty deep ruts, when I slid into one of the ruts and crashed. Of course, I crashed onto the left side of the bike, as usual. I hit the ground hard enough to leave a small bruise on my hip the next day and to break one of the mounts on my upper fairing which left it sticking out about an inch from where it would usually rest against the tank, but it wasn’t anything noticeable while riding. It also cracked the lower fairing, but all of these things were merely cosmetic. My folding shift lever did it’s job and kept my engine case and the lever itself unharmed, so that has proven to be a worthy expense.

I picked her up, and surprisingly she started pretty easily this time. I think she just likes to embarrass me when people are watching, perhaps that’s my punishment for abusing her the way I do. We continued on, crossing a wide, but relatively shallow creek, and then I found another rut to crash in. This time I managed to also break her left side mirror. I mean, everything else on the left side had already been sacrificed, so why not the mirror too?!

Right after the 2nd rut incident we came up on a creek crossing. It required us to ride down the creek a bit, and then we stopped on the bank on the opposite side before we were supposed to cross a deep section.

We tried to figure out the best line to take, but it was hard to see the rocks in the deepest part. Eventually Dwayne decided to just go for it, and I pulled out my phone to record his attempt. He made it right into the deepest part when he hit a rock and stalled the bike. Tigers have a really tall first gear, which has been addressed a little in the newest models, but our 2016’s still suffer from that issue, and it makes it hard to try to lug them at super low speeds without stalling the bike. His only choice was to put his feet down, in water that went well over the top of his Sidi Adventure boots, hop off the bike, and walk it the rest of the way across the creek.

It took some effort to get the bike up the rocky embankment on the other side, and he stalled the bike a few times before he finally made it all the way out. Meanwhile I’m on the other bank thinking to myself, how the hell am I getting across that, because if that happens to me, there’s always a chance I’ll end up dropping the bike and that could be catastrophic if it takes on water and hydro-locks. Luckily for me, Dwayne is quite the gentleman and he volunteered to walk my bike across to minimize the chances of it taking a very unnecessary bath or me also ending up with wet feet. Normally I wouldn’t shy away from a challenge such as this, but I’m also not stupid, I knew I had to be able to ride that bike out of there and 4 hours back home, so I made the smart decision and let my ego take a back seat this time.

Once both bikes were across and I’d found a shallow spot to walk across, we saddled back up and away we went. We were quickly confronted with the steep hill climb the guys had warned us about. We sized it up for a moment, picking our lines, before Dwayne started up the hill. I let him get a ways up before starting my own ascent, as I have a tendency to go too fast and end up right on his tail if I don’t give him some initial space. The climb ended up taking over a minute and a half from bottom to top, and I had a smile a mile wide the entire time. It’s no secret, other than creek crossings, hill climbs are one of my favorite parts of off-road riding. I much prefer going up a steep incline than going down a steep decline on my 500lb bike. I love the thrill of just cranking the throttle back and holding on until I make it to the top. Of course, you also have to make smart maneuvers, and constantly look ahead for any obstacles, but it definitely gets my adrenaline going trying to keep up my momentum to keep the bike pushing on up the hill.

After we made it up the hill, we found a shady spot to stop so Dwayne could pull his boots off and pour the water out of them while I took a video and laughed at him. He was such a good sport about it, but I knew it wasn’t fun for him having wet feet, so we decided to head on back to the cabin so he could try to dry his boots out and change into some dry socks.

We noticed when looking at the map that we were close to the fun little section we had hit with Jami and Melanie the day before though, so we decided to go ahead and make another run through that along the way.

We had just started down the fun part of that road when Dwayne said, “I think there’s a Jeep or something up ahead of us, I just saw a glimpse of it going around the curve.” A couple of minutes later he said, “What the hell?! Surely I didn’t just see that… it’s a Honda Minivan, not a 4×4!” We already knew from our experience the day before that we were coming up on a steep, rutted up decline that would then be followed by a decent creek crossing. I caught up to him just in time to see the top of the minivan, complete with a luggage carrier on the roof, going over the hill and down the decline. Dwayne asked me, “You did see that, right?!” to which I replied that I had and that I was pretty sure I got it on GoPro so we would have proof if no one believed us. Unfortunately when I got home and played it back, you could just barely see the top of the luggage carrier going over the hill and you can’t really make out what it is. Trust me, though, it was definitely a Honda Odyssey.

We hurried up to continue over the hill behind it, because I really wanted to see it cross that creek, but once we got down the hill and around the corner, the van was no where in sight. The road split off right before the creek crossing, so I’m assuming that they had went the other direction, because we never did catch up to them again, and there’s no way they would have made it across the creek and up the hill faster than we did. Just goes to show, any vehicle can be an outlet for adventure if you’re just willing to take risks!

When we eventually got back to the cabin at Lago Linda, Dwayne poured even more water out of his boots, and then sat them upside down on the deck to try to drain out as much water as possible while we took a break for a bit. The heat had started to set in again for the day at that point, and we needed a little bit of a rest. I took the time to map out the rest of the route so we could hit it before having a late lunch.

The next part of the route included Fixer-Leeco road, which Drew and Curley had both mentioned to me multiple times, so I was excited to check it out. There was a lot of mud and standing puddles to blast through, and creeks to cross. At one point, the road just goes right down the creek, which I thought was pretty awesome.

I very nearly made it through everything Fixer-Leeco road had in store for me unscathed, but then I got cocky and failed to look far enough ahead of me on a particularly rutted out section, and the next thing I knew I was once again in a rut, dropping my bike to the left. This time the throttle stuck a bit and the rear tire was spinning in the air off the ground and I had to hurry up and hit the kill switch. The wheels were higher than the handlebars, so I ended up needing Dwayne’s help to get enough leverage to pick it up. That’s something I’ll need to work on in the future, because I need to be able to pick it up regardless of how it lands.

We finished out Fixer-Leeco and decided that it was time for lunch. We decided to go back to the Red River Smokehouse and split some delicious BBQ and a peach cobbler. Splitting the food turned out to be the perfect amount to leave us satisfied but not over-full.

After we finished, we slabbed it back to Lago Linda so we could both shower up and get ready for the get together at the pavilion where Drew was giving away awards to the scavenger hunt winners and door prize drawings. Of course, Dwayne and I both forgot our door prize tickets back at the cabin, so I have no idea what we would have won had we remembered to bring them up to the pavilion with us. Drew had a lot of great prizes to offer everyone, and I think most everyone who had remembered to bring their tickets with them ended up going home with something.

Once all the prizes had been given away and we finished chatting with everyone we decided to head back to the cabin and start getting things ready so we could head home in the morning. There was a possibility of severe storms around Noon, and we knew we wanted to get an early start so that we could beat them home.

As I was getting things settled, I got a message from Deanna, a girl I had been chatting with online from the Women’s Off-Road Motorcycle group out of Cincinnati, letting me know that she and the women she had been out riding with had gotten back to camp and that she was available if I wanted to finally meet in person. I told her to come on down to the cabin, so she and her friends Penny and Gail drove down to the cabin to hang out on the deck with us for a while. I absolutely loved all 3 of them, they were so kind and excited about riding, and they were all absolutely hilarious! I laughed so hard at their stories, Gail’s especially. I’m not sure how long they stayed, it was at least an hour or so, and Dwayne and I both really enjoyed their company. I look forward to hanging out with them again and riding with them in the future.

Once they decided to call it a night, we picked up around the cabin a bit and hit the bed to get some sleep before the early morning. The next day was fairly uneventful, we took state and county roads home, and other than the fact that it was quite windy, we didn’t end up getting caught up in any storms.

So in conclusion, I would just like to say that it really showed how much hard work and effort Drew put into this event, and he did a fantastic job. It was such a fun weekend, and the people were all really great. I enjoyed everyone I met, and the riding was some of the most fun I’ve had. I can’t wait to get back down there to explore more in the future, and I highly recommend Red Rivers Scramble to anyone who likes to ride ADV or DS and who likes to meet new people and have a good time. I also recommend the Lago Linda Hideaway as a home base to anyone wanting to explore that area, especially the Writers Cabin. I didn’t see inside any of the others, and I didn’t explore the campground to speak on the amenities there, but we were very happy with our accommodations at the Writers Cabin and will definitely look forward to staying there again in the future.

Red River Scramble 2019: Day 2

Friday morning we got up bright and early and I sat out on the deck to enjoy my morning coffee and watch the sun come up over the lake. It was perfect and I wish I could spend every morning that way. It is always so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy towns and just enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

Once we got geared up, we rode up to the campground and met up with Jamie and Melanie and the 4 of us hit the road. The hard part of riding with someone you just met is knowing what they are and aren’t up for. As it turns out, I’m pretty sure Jamie is capable of way more 2-up with Melanie on that big 1290 than either of us will ever be capable of on our Tigers. They let us lead, and none of us had a route in mind, so we ended up doing one of the novice routes. We very much enjoyed having their company, and the riding was a lot of fun although not challenging. We ended up taking them up to the Sky Bridge, through the Nada tunnel, and out to Chimney Rock, although we didn’t hike out to the viewpoint to get the scavenger hunt points.

Side note: The scavenger hunt is something Drew created to add an extra bit of fun to the weekend. If you use the Rever app to navigate or track your ride, there are waypoints that you can hit that give you points. The further away, the more points they are worth. On Saturday night the people with the most points won prizes. Honestly, it’s mostly geared towards the on-road riders, as the riders who are concentrating on riding off-road as much as possible aren’t going to hit the high value waypoints most likely, but it still adds some fun for all.

We had lunch with Jamie and Melanie at the Red River Smokehouse, which had some absolutely delicious BBQ. Dwayne and I were dumb and got two separate meals, when we should have just split one, so we were both a little full afterwards.

We sat after we ate and enjoyed some conversation before we all hopped back on the bikes to finish out the route. We did some light off-roading on the way back before ending up back at camp. One of the roads we took was the one we had taken to the store the day before, so we were familiar with it and we knew that other than one house that looked like it was abandoned, there were no other homes in that area, so we were quite surprised when we came around a corner and Dwayne nearly got attacked by a random rooster! It was standing beside the road, and nearly ran in front of him, but at the last second it jumped up in the air flapping it’s wings and generally freaking out. I thought for sure it was going to attack him, and I broke out in a fit of laughter, barely able to concentrate on controlling the bike. It was one of the funniest things I saw all weekend, because that rooster really had no business being out there, and it was completely random. That’s Kentucky for you, though.

When we got back we parted ways with Jamie and Melanie and went back to our cabin to take a little break. It had warmed up a lot while we were eating lunch, so we wanted to let it cool off a bit before we went back out, and Dwayne wanted a quick nap after eating all of that delicious BBQ.

Later that evening we decided to take a pavement route down to a waterfall that was one of the waypoints, and we also hit a couple of other waypoints along the way. It was a really fun, curvy route down and back, and it felt good to keep moving fast in the heat. Unfortunately when we got to the waterfall, there were some locals hanging out, drinking beer at the top of the waterfall and jumping into the water below, so I had to be strategic with my picture taking to try to hide them behind a tree, which mostly worked but wasn’t the angle I would have chosen.

We called it a night after stopping for a quick bite at a Wendy’s and went back to the cabin to shower up and get some rest, but not before enjoying the view from the deck in the moonlight.

Stay tuned for part 3 coming soon, it’s the best part!

Red River Scramble 2019: Day 1

I was planning to write this as one big blog entry, but I quickly realized that it was taking me too long to write the whole thing, and that it was becoming far too long, so I’m going to go ahead and break it down into each day to make it more readable.

On Thursday morning we loaded down the Tigers and hit the road en route to Red River Gorge in Kentucky for the 2019 Red River Scramble which is put on by my good friend @MotoADVR. I’ve been looking forward to this event for months, mostly because Drew always raves about the riding in that area and I knew he had been working tirelessly to scout the best routes for all skill levels.

We always try to minimize our interstate riding, so we took backroads the first 3rd of the way. We would have taken them the whole way, but Dwayne wanted to make a pit stop in Lexington to take a spin on a Royal Enfield Himalayan at a dealership there, so we hopped on I-64 at Shelbyville and bopped on over to Lexington.

We didn’t want to hang around too long at the dealership because we had plans to meet everyone at Miguel’s Pizza in Slade at Noon, so we both just took a couple of short spins on the Himalayan and Dwayne took their new 650 Interceptor for a quick ride as well while I waited with the bikes.

After that quick stop, we continued on to Miguel’s where we had some delicious pizza and started meeting some new friends. FYI, if you ever find yourself at Miguel’s really hungry, you can probably leave satiated on just 2 slices, 4 slices is a bit much, but if you’re with a friend, one of you can get 4 slices, one can get 2, and you both eat 3 (assuming you can agree on toppings), and that’s the sweet spot. These are the details people need to know, right?!

We left Miguel’s a little before the others so we could swing back up to the gas stations in Slade to fuel up before heading to the Lago Linda Hideaway to check in to our cabin for the weekend. We had some time to kill before check in so we took the long route which, ironically, incorporated part of one of the novice routes Drew had mapped out.

Once we got to the Lago Linda Hideaway, I found the ladies running the place to be extremely kind and welcoming. They had already opened the cabin up for us, so all we had to do was ride on down the hillside and unload our stuff. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our view from the deck of our cabin was absolutely beautiful, as you can see in the pictures below…

The inside of our cabin was small, but extremely comfortable, it was just the right size for the two of us. My only complaint of the whole place is that I wish there was a bit more counter space in the bathroom, other than that, it was absolutely perfect, and that’s really nitpicking. We have already decided that we will go back sometime this summer and rent this cabin again because we loved it so much.

After we got settled into the cabin, we were sitting outside on the deck when we heard a bike passing by, we went to see who it was and it turned out to be a couple on a KTM 1290 named Jamie and Melanie from Monticello, Indiana. They stopped and Jamie asked if my name was Jenna. It turned out to be a Facebook friend who I hadn’t met in person before who recognized my bike, and the four of us struck up a conversation and hit it off right away.

A little later we decided to run to the store for some water to get us through the weekend. We could have made it there in 20 minutes, but what fun would that have been?! I found a better route, and we took off exploring. I tend to pick pretty good routes most of the time, so our trip to the store looked like this…

Once we got the water, we returned partially the same way, except there was another dirt section with some mud and a tunnel under a railroad that we took to switch things up a little bit. When we got back, we relaxed for a bit while I mapped a route for us to take to dinner. I probably should have checked out Drew’s routes before I started mapping my own, because every route I mapped was part of the routes he already had laid out. Plus, I could have pulled up his GPX file for this route and I may not have gotten us lost in a creek…

We started down a road that turned to gravel, and then to dirt, and then into a creek. On the gravel section it had a steep decline with thick gravel, and for some reason Dwayne’s bike died as we were going down it, causing it to lock up his back wheel and make him fishtail a bit. He didn’t realize it at first because we wear earplugs, and when his back wheel locked up he thought he had accidentally locked up the back brake, so he released it and pulled in the clutch, but then when he released the clutch it locked up again, which is when he realized the bike had died, so he restarted it and got down the hill fine after that.

After it turned to dirt, this road was a lot of fun, but eventually we couldn’t tell if the road continued down the creek, or up a super steep hill with some large embedded rocks. There was no margin for error and we didn’t feel comfortable attempting that climb on 500lb bikes that we had to be able to ride back home, so we made the decision to turn around. I mentioned it to Drew later and he said he thought that we actually didn’t get out of the creek early enough and we missed the road we were supposed to take.

As I was turning my bike around to go back through the creek to head back out, I saw two bikes coming down the creek and recognized one of them to be Matt Kelley. I had never met Matt before, but my teammate Amelia had mentioned him before in passing and what a good rider he is, and I’m also friends with him on Facebook, so I was pretty sure that’s who it was when I saw him, and that was also the moment that I realized I was probably in over my head if I was on the same trails as him! I told Dwayne to stop him and ask him if he knew which way the road went, and he said that he and the guy who was riding with him had been exploring that area for a while and kept hitting dead ends, so he wasn’t sure where the road went either, and they were also heading back out.

After we talked to Matt and his friend for a bit, we let them continue on, and we got saddled back up on our bikes and headed out as well. Everything was going fine until we started back up the hill with the thick gravel that Dwayne had the issues with on the way down. I was up on the pegs, throttling up the hill when I hit an embedded rock that kicked my back tire out a bit. When I went to slide it back around, I slid it too far and ended up laying Tora down on her left side. It is ALWAYS her left side, that poor bike. Every single time I have ever layed her down, it has always been on her left side, so she has one side that has virtually no blemishes, and then she has one side that is pretty much beat to hell at the moment, which you’ll read more about on Day 3, so be sure to stay tuned for that!

Luckily, I put a folding shift pedal on her before we left, so the only thing I broke was her turn signal cover, and knocked her mirror loose. It turned out that although we had brought tools with us, the mirror used a wrench size that we didn’t need for anything else so we hadn’t brought it with us, so I ended up just removing the mirror for the time being.

We eventually made it to dinner at the Red River Rockhouse. The food was okay, but I probably wouldn’t choose to eat there again, since it was my least favorite meal of all the places we ate this weekend. After dinner we went back to camp so we could attend the riders meeting. While we were there, we talked some more with Jamie and Melanie, and we made plans to ride with them the next day, before we all retired for the evening.

Day 2 will be up in the next day or two, so stay tuned!

Exciting announcements, and interesting finds…

To start with, I have a couple of exciting things to share. I did an interview a while back with James Ball from the Triumph “For The Ride” website and it went live last week. If anyone wants to check that out, it can be found here: For The Ride

Also, today we were finally able to announce who our two new REV’IT! Women’s ADV Team members are! So if you want to follow two more incredible ladies, then give Kris Fant and Katelyn Barnecut a follow. You can also check out the official team announcement here: 2019 REV’IT! Women’s ADV Team Announcement

In other news, I am still without my Tiger due to a setback at the dealership, but hopefully I will have her back next week. In the meantime, the WR has went from 300 miles on the odometer to over 800 miles in the last few weeks. Yesterday was a shorter ride at only 88 miles, but it included an interesting find.

We were out aimlessly cruising the back roads like we do when we don’t have a destination in mind, and we were in an area about 10 miles from the house that we were just in a couple of weeks ago, when Dwayne decided to turn down a road we had passed on the previous trip.

It started out as a paved road with a few homes lining it, then unexpectedly turned to gravel and entered into the woods, much to our approval. Shortly after turning to gravel, it narrowed a bit and turned to mostly dirt. At this point, my lips were curled up into a mischievous grin, wondering what exactly we had just stumbled upon. Dwayne asked if I thought we were still on a road or if we were going down someone’s driveway, but I noted that there hadn’t been any private property signs or indications that we weren’t supposed to be there, so we decided to see where it ended up.

As we went around a curve, the road ahead showed signs of all of the heavy rains we’ve had the last few months as the left side was rutted up and significantly lower than the right side of the road (pictures don’t show this well or how steep it was).

I parked my bike and walked around the bend to see what was ahead before going any further. After confirming that if we stayed on the right side of the road it should be easily passable, we continued on. The road dipped down a bit around that curve and then leveled out, but it was becoming increasingly rutted out and muddy in spots. Then we started over a hill and saw this…

Again, the pictures don’t show how deep those ruts actually were, how steep it was, or how soft the ground was from all the rain. Had Dwayne not been on the Tiger with a bare rear tire, we would have probably continued on, but there is absolutely no way that heavy bike would have made it back up that with no knobs left to give traction.

I was curious to see what was on down around the next bend, because I had no idea if this road continued on or not, so I decided to hike down and take a look. In hindsight, I should have just ridden the WR on down, it would have handled it fine, but I couldn’t be sure what I would find and didn’t want to end up in a predicament, so I played it safe and walked it.

It turns out it got increasingly more and more rutted up, and at the bottom you could tell where all of the dirt and rocks from those ruts had ended up (not pictured). From there it continued on into the woods, but I didn’t need to walk any further to know that I will for sure be going back to find out what else that road holds in the near future, after Dwayne has his new rear tire and it dries out from all the rain we are getting over the next few days (seriously Mother Nature, you can stop with the rain anytime now).

Hiking back up the hill with all my gear on was a workout, let me tell you!! You don’t realize just how steep something is until you’re going up it instead of down! I was sweating and breathing a bit heavier by the time I got back to the top, and I’m in pretty good shape!

That’s Dwayne at the top, laughing at me huffing and puffing my way back up the hill. We will just pretend I didn’t stop to take that picture just to get a short break!

Once I got back to the top, I helped Dwayne get the Tiger turned around and then turned the WR around and we headed back out to the paved roads. I can’t wait to go back and explore that road more soon, though. I looked it up on Google Maps when I got home, and it is listed as a road, but it does end up dead ending eventually on the back side of a private property that is accessed from the other side of the road. It looks like it was probably a county road at some point that connected two roads, but over the years they stopped maintaining it and let it go to the land owner. You can still see the tracks on the aerial view that follow alongside their field and passed their house, connecting with the other side, which has the same road name.

The rest of our ride was just pavement, and we wont be getting to ride anymore this week due to weather, but we did take Dwayne’s rear wheel to have his new tire installed today, so he should be ready to go for next week, hopefully, pending an issue our mechanic noticed with the wheel bearing.

We are now just two weeks out from Red River Scramble, and I’m starting to get a bit nervous since I still don’t have my Tiger back. Hopefully there wont be any more setbacks and she will be ready to go and back home before then. If not, I guess the WR will be getting even more use!

Different bike, same love of water crossings…

Tora is still away at Triumph of Knoxville getting all serviced up. They called today and said that I was correct, it is definitely a failing cam chain tensioner, so they are replacing that, overhauling her forks, and they already checked her valves and they were still good after over 30k miles. She should be done sometime next week they said, as they are still waiting on parts for the cam chain tensioner.

Meanwhile, it was absolutely beautiful here the last two days, so I did some bonding with my WR250R. Sadly, up until now I had only put 300 miles on it. I just always seem to take the Tiger, and since Dwayne doesn’t have a small bike yet, I really don’t get to ride it the way I intended to when I bought it. Hopefully that will change at some point and he will have one too. I really enjoyed riding it the last two days though. I doubled the mileage on it and it had its first oil change after our ride today.

Yesterday we set off, no destination in mind, just a general direction. We ended up at a creek crossing I’d been wanting to hit on the Tiger, and I instead got to take the WR for it’s first water crossing. We didn’t think to snap a picture at the time, but I can assure you, there was a big smile on my face, just as there always is when I’m 2 feet deep in a creek on a bike!

We continued exploring the backroads, just as we usually do, turning down any new road we come across that we haven’t been down before, until we ended up in Vevay, IN at a little diner we’ve been to in the past. We had a couple of burgers and some fries to satisfy our hunger, and back on the road we went, looking for more new roads.

Eventually we came across this long, concrete creek crossing, with a pretty decent current. We were a little concerned it might be slick, but it looked okay, so we took our chances. It turned out to be fine, so we stopped for some pictures.

So that’s two new creek crossings down in one day, no problems, just a lot of fun. So imagine my surprise when we roll up on a short, shallow, concrete bottom crossing that we’ve been across multiple times in the past without issue, and it ends up like this…

Clearly, we could see that there was some moss, but like I said, we’ve been across this same crossing before and never had an issue. So when Dwayne started across it, I followed him right in, expecting us to roll through it and keep on going, but that’s not how it happened.

I saw Dwayne go down, his bike sliding to the left, him sliding to the right, and since I was already committed, I knew I only had two options: Run him over, or hit the brakes, and subsequently the ground. Since I still had to go home with him later, and I’m really kind of fond of him, I chose option number 2, which resulted in me and the WR sliding through the water right behind him.

I realized as I struggled to stand up just how slippery that moss can be, and I was thankful that I was on the WR and not Tora as my feet slid while I picked the bike up out of the water. That would have been a whole other level of difficult with that extra 200 pounds. Luckily Dwayne’s Tiger had slid far enough that it was in a less mossy spot and we were able to get it up no problem, too.

Once we realized we were both okay and the bikes were undamaged, we had a good laugh and Dwayne tried to pick the moss off of me. As my luck would have it, I had decided to take the Goretex liner out of my Neptune suit before we left that morning because I wasn’t expecting to get wet and it was warm enough I didn’t need the wind protection, so I ended up nice and wet for the ride home, which wasn’t horrible since it was sunny and warm, but I felt pretty gross.

After we stopped for gas, I told Dwayne I wouldn’t mind heading back to the first creek crossing to get some good pics to go with our “fail” pics, so we detoured back to it before heading home, and I went through it two more times.

Today, we set off in the opposite direction, again with no destination in mind. I wore my Tornado 2 mesh suit because I felt like my Neptune suit needed a wash after sliding through the mossy water yesterday. It was overcast, so I was a bit cool the first half of the day, but not cold, and it gradually warmed up, so I was fairly comfortable.

We mostly just cruised around, but we did hit some roads we hadn’t been down before, including one that we’ve passed a bunch of times that had a sign saying it dead ended at a lake. We assumed it would go a short distance and we would see a lake, but we were surprised to find that it was further back than we had expected, and it turned into a dirt road with a couple of tiny creek crossings that wound down the hillside to the lake. I couldn’t believe that people pulled boats down there, but once we made it to the lake there were probably 10 trucks with boat trailers parked in the tiny lot!

Later on our ride we stopped to get a new oil filter for the WR, and when we got home we performed the first oil change. I’m embarrassed it took me 8 months to put 600 miles on that bike, but I expect I’ll be racking them up a bit quicker in the future.

That’s pretty much it for now, my brother is getting married this weekend, so we won’t be riding anymore until at least next week. We are less than a month out from Red River Scramble, and I’m getting really excited for that!

First post of 2019, I’m a little behind.

I know, I know, I swore I was going to do better this winter. I promised I’d still be riding (that wasn’t a lie), and I promised vintage bike updates (that did turn out to be a lie), but I failed to keep you all up to date with what was going on, and for that, I apologize!

So, to get you up to speed, winter sucked, we rode a couple of times each month, but nothing worth writing about really. We also took our new (to us) Toyota FJ Cruiser out for a few adventures. We both got the Flu which put us out for a couple of weeks, and then two weeks after that we both got a stomach bug, so we lost nearly a month due to illnesses, which only added to the already depressing nature of this winter.

BUT, the weather is finally trending up, we’ve been riding more often, and the winter blues are quickly slipping away. So of course, now is the perfect time to have to take the Tigers both in for maintenance, right?! Just another thing we put off to the last minute, and now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. We got Tigger (Dwayne’s Tiger) back from our local dealer quickly, but mine had to go to Knoxville where we purchased them because it needed possible warranty work. It needs a new cam chain tensioner, a known issue with Tiger’s, but I’m still waiting to find out if they will cover it under my extended warranty or not. If not, I’m going to put a manual tensioner on it instead of another stock tensioner, which is supposed to be a better fix anyway.

When we took Tora down to Knoxville to drop her off, we went in to see our friend Curtis and check out their current stock of new Triumph’s, including the new Scrambler 1200 and the new Speed Twin. We made sure to bring our gear with us in case we were able to talk Curtis into letting us take the Scrambler 1200 for a spin, and he was more than happy to oblige. He had two blue XE’s and a white XE, so he let us take one of each and told us to just be back before closing time, which was in 4 hours.

Being that I had no way to mount my phone for GPS and we aren’t super familiar with the area, we just took off riding. We weren’t able to find any dirt or gravel, but we did find some nice curvy backroads. We only took them for about a 30 mile loop because we still had a 4.5 hour drive home and we were both getting hungry for lunch, so we didn’t really have time to get too far away. When we got back to the dealership Curtis asked us what we wanted to take out next, and insisted that we take as many bikes as we wanted to, and that we could ride them to go get lunch if we wanted. Dwayne chose a T-120, which is a bike he has lusted over and dreamed of having in our garage, and I chose the new Speed Twin.

I’ll be honest, I chose the Speed Twin purely for the fact that I think it’s a gorgeous bike. They had just sold their red one, which is the color I like the best, and all they had left was an all black model, which is my least favorite of the three colors offered (the third color is grey), but it was still gorgeous. I had no expectations of falling in love with that bike, I haven’t desired a street-only bike since I bought the Tiger, and I assumed it wouldn’t suit me.

Boy, was I wrong. I’ve been thinking about that bike ever since. I expected the riding position to feel uncomfortable, but it didn’t, it actually felt pretty natural, even with my bulky Sidi Adventure boots on. The engine is torquey and grin inducing, and the gearbox is silky smooth. It’s so effortless to ride, but thrilling at the same time. If money weren’t an issue, I can promise you I would already have one in my garage. I even went so far as to torture myself by going on the Triumph website and building my own with all of the sexy upgrades, which definitely didn’t make me want one any less.

We ended up having a quick sandwich at a Hardees for lunch just so we could have more time to ride the bikes than we would have if we went to a restaurant. Priorities, you know. We followed close to the same route we had taken the Scramblers on, and we swapped bikes halfway through, although I was hesitant to give up the Speed Twin. On the way back I asked Dwayne which bike he would choose if he were going to buy one. Originally, his answer was the T-120, as he has lusted after those for quite some time, but after he got a chance to really twist the throttle on the Speed Twin he remarked, “I think I’d like to change my answer.” He couldn’t deny how fun that bike is, although he did end up changing his answer again when he decided that the Speed Twin would end up getting him in trouble. Personally, that’s a risk I’d be willing to take.

I was underwhelmed by the T-120 having just ridden the Speed Twin. It’s an unfair comparison, they are two very different motorcycles, and I am certain I would have liked the T-120 much more if I had ridden it prior to the Speed Twin.

As for the Scrambler 1200, I fell pretty hard for it too. The problem for me is that it doesn’t make as much sense for me as the Tiger does. It wouldn’t be as good for long distance touring with the lack of wind protection and luggage options. Yes, it absolutely could be used for touring, most bikes can be if you’re willing to sacrifice certain comforts, but the fact is I already have a Tiger that handles the job quite comfortably, and I would definitely notice the difference in comfort levels on those 600+ mile days. When riding above 55mph, there is quite a bit of wind resistance on your upper body. Dwayne noticed a lot of resistance on his head from the peak on his Shoei Hornet X2 helmet, but I did not notice that to be an issue with my Arai XD-4. I actually felt like I had less resistance on my head than I usually do on the Tiger, except when I turned my head to the side, which is always an issue with the peak regardless.

With that said, I would love to have the Scrambler in addition to my Tiger. It is a beautifully built motorcycle, and so much fun to ride. I would love to find out for myself how it handles off-road, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that sometime. The other drawback for me is that because it is such a beautiful motorcycle, I would probably be gun-shy to take it too far off-road, though. I would be pretty devastated if I dented that gorgeous blue tank (mine would have to be a blue XE).

As much as I love the Scrambler though, I honestly think if I were able to purchase another new bike right now, it would still be that Speed Twin. Everyone knows how much I love my Tiger, so I really don’t need another ADV bike, and the Scrambler is essentially a retro styled, naked ADV bike.

Hopefully Tora will be ready to go by next week and we can go pick her up and spend a few days riding down in Tennessee, and you can bet I’ll be taking another rip on that Speed Twin if it’s still there, too!

I’m going to leave you with some pictures from our rides/drives over the last few months since I didn’t get around to writing about any of it.