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scottolds

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Fall Classic 2010 Trip – My first DDS event

Part 1 – A bit of history

I bought my KLR in November 2009 because I needed something to keep my ’87 Super Magna company and because I got addicted to reading of all the great dual sport adventures on various forums.  So, I decided against a heavy cruiser for long highway rides and opted for a KLR with visions of Moab in my head.  My off highway riding experience is pretty much limited to when I was between 12-15 years old and would spend time in the summer riding a friend’s Suzuki 100 on logging roads, cow trails, grassy fields, and country roads around their dairy farm in Wisconsin.  After my family moved to FL, it would be 28 years before I rode a motorcycle again.  July 4th, 2008 was my independence from cars day when I bought my Magna.

My first off road adventure with the KLR was a trip to Ocala National Forest.  What I learned is that Ocala has a lot of soft sand and that my ability to ride off road in sand was not great.  So, I figured I needed to start improving my off road riding if I ever wanted to do any of the stuff I had been reading about.  So fast forward to April 2010 and I was in NC for a few weeks working.  I took the KLR with me to ride on the weekends while I wasn’t working.  I had a great time riding around NC, though it was mostly on road.  What I learned here is that my body was not prepared for longer days of riding.  Realizing that the KLR would be easier to handle if it were lighter, I decided to start reducing the weight of the loaded motorcycle.  For me, the easiest way to do this was to reduce the weight of the rider.

Part II – Day 1 – To Cheaha

In planning for the Fall Classic trip, I booked a camp site and put together a set of camping gear.  Getting close to the date, I noticed the weather would be a bit on the cold side.  Now it is Friday morning and I am packing the KLR.  My plan was to be on the road around 7am so I could get to Cheaha before dark and get my camp set up.  It was now getting close to 10am and I was putting the camping gear on the KLR.  I went inside and checked the weather again.  I began to wonder if my gear would suffice since my sleeping bag was a 30+ and the weather report was for evening lows right around 30.  It occurred to me that maybe I should look at hotel rooms.  As it happens, there was a Hilton Garden Inn about 15 miles away from the event that allowed me to use my accumulated hotel points.  So, a command decision was made to change camp sites to the Hilton Garden Inn.  It turned out to be a good decision as it ended up costing less than camping, providing an awesome breakfast each day, and gave me more room on the KLR without having to drag all the camping gear.

I finally was able to hit the road after removing all the camping stuff and was making good time despite the fact that my MX boots didn’t really fit under my shifter (lesson learned).  Since I was already now running about 3 hours behind where I wanted to be, I did not stop for photos on the way up.  To summarize the ride up, it was tiring and really cold.  I was riding into a strong head wind and side wind almost all the way out of FL and into part of GA.  Finally as the sun went down, the wind died down but the temperature plummeted.  I learned the riding gear that kept me comfortable when I was in NC during 40-50 degree temps in the sun did not do as well in 40-50 degree temps at night.  By the time I hit Opelika, AL I decided it was time for dinner.  I pulled into an Arby’s and then realized I was really cold.  After shaking for about 30 minutes, I warmed up enough to make the last 1.5 hour ride to Cheaha.

scottolds

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Part III – Saturday’s ride

I arrived to the morning riders meeting about 10 minutes before it started and managed to get my registration just before it started.  My plan for the day was to take it easy and get some pictures.  And that is exactly what I did.  Warning:  There will be many pictures with a KLR in them.

Here are a couple pictures at the first turn off.  I stopped behind others to make sure I didn’t get in front of people so I would save them the trouble of passing me later.

At another fork in the road, I came upon this group taking a short break.

Here is the KLR waiting for me to get back to riding.

Here is one of the signs warning of loose gravel.

Some nice dirt road and wide open areas.





Again the KLR waiting patiently for me to finish taking pictures.  Since I had not done one of these rides before, I wasn’t sure what to take with me.  So, I did Saturday’s ride with my Duffel bag with some assorted supplies and a change of clothes just in case.  I later realized that I didn’t need all that stuff and travelled much lighter on Sunday.





More nice riding….



Hmm, I thought everyone had already passed me…….guess not.











Someone was riding faster than my camera could take the next picture.



More of the KLR trying to blend into the surrounding.

This sign said the road was closed… should be interesting.



More blending into the scenery.





















That is about it for pictures on Saturday.  The sun was starting to go down and the temperature was dropping.  It was necessary to stop taking pictures and try and get back to the hotel before it got too dark and cold.  I did run across a group of KLR riders on their Bama Jama ride and stopped and talked to them for a while.  They all passed me up on the next road.

Saturday’s ride was very fun.  Even at my snail’s pace, I had a great time.  I rarely had to shift out of first gear at the pace I was going on the non-paved roads.  If anyone has watched BBC’s Top Gear show, I adopted the moniker of ‘Captain Slow’ for myself.  On Top Gear, that name is used to describe co-host James May.

Looking forward to Sunday’s ride.





scottolds

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Part IV – Sunday’s Ride

The day started out cool and crisp.  Today would start with a few problems and end as one of the best rides for me. 

Apparently the below freezing temperatures over night were too much for the plastic part of my GPS clamp and it cracked and fell off.  Of course it did this just as I was getting ready to start the days ride.  My plan for the day was to have a repeat of Saturday.  Take it slow and easy and take pictures.  Not having the GPS should not be a problem since I had my trusty roll chart.

I headed out near the end of the group.  About 15 minutes later I checked the mileage on my odometer and noticed it had not changed since the previous check.  In addition, the speedometer indicated I wasn’t moving.  I rode a bit further to a turn and pulled off and began to search for why my speedometer quit.  I quickly found the speedometer cable had snapped about 2 inches from where it attached to the wheel.  So, I am now in the woods with a roll chart and no working odometer.  Fortunately I brought some zip ties and started to figure out how to zip tie the gps to the motorcycle so it would be usable.

About the time I had the zip ties out, a group of riders pulled up and asked if everything was OK.  I let them know my speedometer cable broke and they were nice enough to let me tag along and follow them out to the main road.  I was a bit concerned about trying to keep up with others since I was still riding along as Captain Slow and was not into second or third gear very often.  Two of the riders had passengers so I figure they probably would ride at a slower pace.  After we got on the road, I saw that they did not let the passengers slow them down.  I got a bit out of my comfort zone, but I managed to stay close enough with the group.  At the next turn, I asked if they were doing the adventure ride or the more challenging ride.  They informed they were doing the challenging ride, so I wished them luck and went back to my zip ties.  I didn’t catch the names of these nice people, but one of the ladies was the one who gave me my registration.  Thanks for stopping and letting me tag along!

Now the GPS is attached with zip ties to the mirror and I am ready to start on the big bike section.


About the time I finished getting the GPS attached, Jim O. rode up on his KLR.  He said he was going to do the Adventure bike parts also.  I asked if he minded if I tagged along and he said not a problem.  Even though I warned him my riding skills were not great and that I was riding slow, he was not phased and led the way.

As it turns out, my broken speedometer cable was a blessing in disguise.  If I had not broke the cable and been forced to ride with others, I would have had another day in first and second gear smelling the flowers.  Instead, Jim gave some good advice on how to handle the bike off road.  I put his advice to use and found myself covering ground at a much more exciting pace.  As a result, there are not really any other pictures of the Sunday route.  Riding at a faster pace does bring with it some new challenges.  I did manage to misjudge a turn and came in too fast into a sharp right turn that was also a bit slippery with a gravel covering.  Managed to slide off into a ditch.  Other than a few scratches on the KLR front fairing, no bike damage and no damage to me (other than my pride).  Another highlight of Sunday was a fairly steep downhill section that was covered in loose rocks.  I was going pretty slow and wobbling all over the place.  A rider two-up on a V-Strom passed me up and made it look too easy and didn’t even seem to be sliding around.  Sunday ended up being a great day of riding.  Thanks to all that made it possible.


scottolds

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Part V – The detour to Auburn

To justify a 550 mile ride, I wanted to do some additional sight-seeing and also planned to stop and visit my son in Auburn, AL.  He had classes all day Monday, so I left out of Cheaha area Monday morning and started a really nice day of riding up around Gadsden and Little River Canyon.

The first stop of the day was at a river side park on the way to Gadsden.









I was a little disappointed to see this giant trash pile along the river.

A couple self portraits

The Little River Canyon is an awesome area for scenery and riding.  Who knew Alabama had a canyon?

Notice the No parking sign by where I am parked.  I was feeling a bit reckless so I decided to park where I pleased.

This next road was one of the best rides I have taken.  The sign should say it all.





























This would make a good ad picture for some KLR luggage.






So far, some really good riding……and that is no bull.   Or is it?

A couple close-up pics:







Nice fall colors and a good picture to use as fall wall paper.



Not enough water for the falls to be falling

After Little River Canyon, I was getting gas to be ready for my push to Auburn.  I stopped here and wondered what exactly it means to “Keep on Steppin’ and Fetchin’.  I am still not sure, but apparently they do it here.



Now the sun is going down as I go back through the Cheaha area.







And a final picture of me taken after I got home and just before I started to wash the Alabama mud and dirt off the KLR.  I put on my riding stuff for the picture since I didn’t get any while I was at Cheaha.




The ride from Auburn back home was excellent and uneventful.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do the 550ish mile ride up to Cheaha without much discomfort at all (besides the cold).  To me it is a good indicator that I may be ready to take some more long road trip adventures.

The whole Fall Classic experience was excellent.  I look forward to doing more rides with DDS in the future.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

-Scott




DRIVER

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Reply with quote  #5 
Great report ... and never ever think you've taken too many photos.  I tend to take 100 to get that "one" special shot that's a keeper. 

The main thing is that it sounds as if you had a blast and are ready to do it agin. Thanks for sharing!

Mike
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Reply with quote  #6 
Great report.  Thanks for sharing your adventure.  That's what Dualsporting is all about.  Little bit of dirt mixed in with some sweet blacktop 2 lanes through beauty countryside.  Looks like you've got the hang of it.  See you at the next ride.

Nate        


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rjohnson

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Reply with quote  #7 

+1! Great report!


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Reply with quote  #8 
Great report. My first ride of this kind also and I had a fantastic time.
Thanks for getting that picture of me coming around the corner on the green KLR. My group didn't like to stop too often for pictures.

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CrawfordsCamp

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Reply with quote  #9 

Great Ride and Report!


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