2014-07 GDRx2

The Great Divide Route (x2)

Motorcycling Adventure #14

28 days, 6,323 miles, July 2014

Ray Jardine

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A 28 Day Journey

July 7 to August 3, 2014

28 days, 6,323 miles

Antelope Wells, New Mexico to Banff, Alberta Canada - and return.


Typically - the day before departure - even the whole week before departure - I don't feel like leaving. This seems to apply to just about every trip I've done in the last ten years. Home is so very comfortable, my work is important, and the internet is so interesting.

The world out there is full of uncertainly. Its not very comfortable. And I suspect there could be problems.

But I have learned from experience not to rely on those feelings, because they're not real. What is real is personal growth, and I can't get much of that at home.

I've learned that I can face the uncertainties, can easily endure any lack of comfort, and I can indeed solve most of the problems.

Then there's the fun. Staying home is not so fun. Safe and comfortable, yes. But not so fun. On the other hand, these trips are a blast!

So in the weeks before departure, I set a date and stick to it.

Come departure morning, I'm already mentally programmed. When I get on the bike, the doubts and concerns have faded into nothing, and I'm ready to roll.

An early start to a 28 day journey.

Alberta

Antelope Wells, New Mexico to Banff, Alberta Canada - and return.

Five hours of I-10 slab from my home in Arizona to the curio shop at Separ, New Mexico. No gas here. I then rode the gravel I-10 Frontage Road East to the paved 146, then South to Hachita.

The landscape is pretty bland south of I-10, and this persists all the way to the border.

I'm carrying a new rear tire, because I didn't want to wear the knobs off while riding the slab. The front doesn't get nearly as much wear, so I had replaced the front before leaving home.

No gas or food at Hachita.

Church at Hachita.

At the Mexican border - Antelope Wells, the Southern Terminus of the Great Divide Route. (no town here, it's just the name of the border crossing.)

Side note: Personally I think the route should start at the border just south of Columbus (just north of Palomas Mexico). That would lengthen the route by only 1.5 miles, (if via Hachita) and would add the amenities of Columbus, with its gas station, stores, restaurants, motel and State Park campground. There is even a Family Dollar store next to the border. Columbus is a nice little town, and easy to reach from Deming, 58 miles to the north. And Deming is serviced by Greyhound bus from Tucson and Las Cruces. For those riding motorcycles, the gas at Columbus is a big plus; otherwise one might carry extra from Lordsburg. (Separ to Antelope Wells and return = 145 m.) (Separ to Silver City = 50 m) (Separ to Lordsburg = 22 m.) (Lordsburg, Separ, Antelope Wells, Silver City = 217 m.)

The bike can easily travel 217 miles on a tank of gas, but at the time I was unsure of the distances. Now I have it figured out for next time.

Back at Hachita. Reaching I-10, I needed gas so backtracked to Lordsburg.

Changing the rear tire. The late afternoon was still blazing hot, so the motel manager gave me a few rags to do the job inside. I was careful to make no marks on the carpet. (Note: this is the tire from last years GDRx2 ride with about 6,000 miles on it.)

All was going well until the valve stem tool snapped off inside the tire stem. The broken bits prevented me from extracting the valve stem, so I couldn't let enough air out of the tube to remove the tire. In the end I had to puncture the tube with a knife. I always install a new tube with a tire change anyway. So with the air out of the old tube, it came right out - and I soon finished the job.

Soaptree Yucca.

Big tire at the Santa Rita del Cobre Open Pit Copper Mine.

On the official route. The land fronting this section of road is private for the next 1/4 mile, according the sign, but the road itself is pubic, so drive on through.

Rest stop in the shade of alligator Juniper - my favorite type of tree and the basis for the name of our dog (Juniper).

Typical scenery of the low mountains of New Mexico, with a couple of Agaves in bloom. Also known as century plants because of their slow growth. After the development of the stalk, the plant dies (but suckers often grow from the base of the stem, and become new plants).

Climbing out of the Mimbres Valley, and up into the Piñon Pines.

Climbing higher still, into the Ponderosas and cool mountain air.

An afternoon rest stop at Rocky Canyon Campground (small but free).

A small field of Prickly Poppies. These plants are native to the area, and always seem to be in bloom when I pass through.

Delicate colors.

Cliff Lake, quite low this year.

Riding along into the late afternoon.

Beautiful clouds but the rain is a'coming.

Just a small mud puddle, a remnant of the last rain storm, several days ago it looks like.

Rained cats and dogs for five hours. The tarp kept me bone dry.


In the morning I discovered a bird nest in the oak tree near my tarp.

I call this place my "Bird's Nest Camp," New Mexico.

Stunning rainbow at "Key Camp," 11,000 feet in Colorado.


Good stealth campsites are where you find them. This is near Bassam Park Pass in Colorado.


"Columbine Camp" in Wyoming, near Union Pass.


Camped beside the old Railroad Grade near Island Park, Idaho.


Mount Jefferson is the highest point of the Centennial Mountains, whose crest runs along the Continental Divide.

Bighorn sheep

In the Pioneer mountains of Montana.


Camped near the old millsite, north of Helena Montana


Changing the oil in the rain. Kalispell, Montana.

Alberta


B.C, Canada, On the road to Whiteswan Lake PP.

Wind pressing against the tarp, but comfortable inside.

Monture Creek CG, Montana.

Out in the middle of nowhere, no trees, no tarp supports. Centennial Basin, Montana.

Some nice campers gave me a plate of watermelon. So good! Flagg Ranch, Idaho.

Back at Columbine Camp, WY, the forth time I've camped here.

The Wind River Range.

Jenny's coming to visit, so I rented this cute little cabin in South Fork, Colorado.

The cabin is small, but cozy and clean, and has a kitchen with a stove, and also pots and pans.

Enjoying the high country. Juniper has yet to be fully trained to be off her leash, and still likes to chase rabbits - a no-no. Photo taken near Key Camp.

Camper likes to ride on the bike.

Rubbing handlebars, this guy just about ran me off the road, trying to get us both stopped   This is Donovan (EnduroEarth) riding an X-Country. Our lengthy conversation made my day. He rides enduros all over everywhere. You don't meet guys like this very often, at least with that much riding skill and experience (he just tore up the mud in NM). So fun to talk with, and I learned much.

A bike like Donovan's X-Country (farkled with better suspension as he has done) would be an excellent choice for riding a route like this.

Ray! I just checked out your site. Peru in 1969 and Baja through the 1970's you're the man! amazing stuff. Party on you hippie ;) Have fun and call me if you are ever passing through Birmingham Alabama. I have some land out here. plenty room for you the wife and dogs. - Donovan

In rainy weather, Jenny rents a bicycle and rides the three-hour Dillon Frisco loop.

En route to Leadville

Day two of Jenny's bicycle riding, another rental for the 3.5 hour Frisco Breckenridge loop.

On our way to the million dollar highway.

::Epilogue

Before starting this trip, I did the following work on the bike:


After my most recent trip of the GDR (2013-07-GDRx2) I did a lot of work on my bike. These trips are hard on the bike, so a lot of things need attention. This a big job because I tear the bike down to it's basics, with the intent of discovering any budding problems, while in my shop, before they cause problems on my next off-highway road trip.

One problem I found was a demolished bearing in the swingarm. I doubt that the average motorcycle shop mechanic (factory-trained) would have discovered this, because they don't tend to strip the bike down that far. And they are unlikely to find a bad bearing by simply bouncing on the tail end.

Swingarm needle sleeve with broken and missing bearings.

Note: With this model bike the sleeve can be pushed all the way though the housing, using a big vise and a few sockets - without need for a puller.

Pressing in a new bearing.

Parts cleaned, Idler Arm (Dog Bone) needle bearings removed and greased, and everything put back together (wife's F650GS).

Swingarm ready for the re-install.

List of Work done:

  • Rebuild swingarm clean and re-lube bearings, install one new bearing.
  • Change engine oil (always with new oil filter).
  • Install new air filter.
  • Valve Clearances Check.

  • Valve Clearances Check. 40,000 miles and still no adjustment needed.
  • Install new spark plugs.
  • Front Forks Rebuild with new inner seals and oil. The seals looked fine, but I installed new ones anyway. With 10,000 miles since the last rebuild, the old fork oil came out black. Lesson learned: That was much too long between fork oil changes. The manufacturer recommends every 12,000 miles, but I tend to be hard the bike. Riding at 60 mph on gravel roads is not uncommon for me.
  • Front Forks Rebuild.

    Fork parts on my shop bench.

  • Disassemble steering head and re-lube both bearings. No notches on the lower and upper steering-head races. But the bearings were loose as a goose, not even hand tight. Note to self: re-tighten them after riding a hundred miles or so.
  • Shorai lithium battery is two years old and still going strong. Still flies up toward the ceiling whenever I pick it up.
  • Install new chain and rear sprocket. Old chain had 15,000 mi on it.
  • Install new front brake pads.
  • Front and rear brake flush.
  • Remove, lube and reinstall center stand.
  • My method of re-installing the center stand springs, with a stout cord wrapped around a handle of some sort, then pulling mightily.

  • Remove, lube and reinstall rear brake pedal.
  • Antifreeze flush.
  • Altering the angle of the kickstand by 15 degrees so my Dakar doesn't lean over so far. Photo taken before re-painting. I don't have a welding machine at the moment, so had to have the welding done out of shop. This little mod made a huge difference when parking the bike. Highly recommended for anyone who has a Dakar. Note that I had to also bend the kickstand stop in a downward direction to match.

  • Reduce Kickstand Lean so bike doesn't lean over so much. (Out of my shop welding.)
  • Re-weld luggage rack.
  • Also had to re-weld the broken luggage rack.

  • Replace the gas tank vent gasket.
  • Replace tail light assembly and wiring.
  • It's rare for me to return home with tail lights still working. And such proved the case this time as well.

    In fact, on an earlier trip, the whole tail light bracket broke off, and I lost the bulb, lens and license plate as well. I went back out there the next day and found the pieces laying on the road. Returning home, I strengthened the bracket with this plate, and bolted it to the back of the bike. On the bracket's other side, I have a strap linking the license plate frame to the bracket plate, to prevent the loss of the license plate.

    The brake light wire was shorted out, so I ran new wiring for everything aft of the fuse box connector.

    And not to forget this jewel, the foot operated rear brake switch - only visible with a mirror. It seems that with a hard knock, this switch gets out of line and quits working. And when that happens, the brake light stays on, and eventually the bulb burns out.

  • New front tire and tube. (I'll replace the rear on journey.) Note: The rear TKC-80 has 6,000 miles on it, and is still going strong. Pretty good for a knobby.
  • Lube clutch and throttle cables.

Did I say that the GDR is hard on a bike? Well, I think the bike now is ready for the next round.

28 days, 6,323 miles

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