MIDWESTWARD

MIDWESTWARD - THE RUNDOWN

Posted on August 12, 2014 by Chhun Tang | 0 Comments

Thank you to everyone who came out to the show on Saturday and special thanks to Black Top Society for the great coffee and to Chhun and Subway for the sweet sandwiches that reminded me of the trip all over again… Ha ha ha.

The support, interest and curiosity about this little adventure was amazing to see and hear in person.

I was asked to give a rundown of “what I learned” of sorts about my overall pack-out on the bike for this trip. Basically, what I’d bring that I didn’t and what I wouldn’t bring that I did, type of information. So the dude abides.

Here’s a basic rundown, if you didn’t see the show go check it out. East Fork Supply Co. is keeping the images up for the week you’ll see what I’m talking about.

TOOL KIT:

So as cool as the “stock tool kit” may be and it does fit perfectly in the toolbox on the side of the bike but not exactly the best tools nor would I say complete. Granted I did use the plug wrench on the trip more than anything so yes I’d keep that but lets look at this logically. If your going to carry a set of screwdrivers make it a good set two Phillips, two regular, a short handle one and a long handle one you also want two sizes. I didn’t expect to have to rebuild my carbs from scratch so I had to pick-up a cheap set of screwdrivers from Wal-Mart on the road, which I hate because it’s Wal-Mart and the screwdrivers are not my idea of quality but in a pinch we do what we can.

The best piece of advice I can give about tools and a tool kit is build one specifically for your bike. The work you do the most on it are the tools you’ll need and look for versatile tools Steve had a great tool that I am definitely picking up now that I’m back (http://www.sears.com/craftsman-3-pc-screwdriver-set-finger-bit/p-00941390000P) this thing came in handy and it’s small and can fit in tight places.

Since I didn’t really “know” the bike the tool kit was piecemeal, now I'd build a more well rounded compact tool kit but it will start with good versatile tools. I tried one of those “all-in-one” screwdrivers and I didn’t like it plus if you lose the small bits that’s gone. Allen set is important but the angled shape of a standard set came in handy versus the straight bar set you get in the hand tool.

Again there is no “perfect tool kit,” it’s perfect to what the bike needs. I could’ve cut my tools in half with a better plan so work on your bike using your tool kit and build off of it knowing that this is all you’ll have on you.

There are bulky things you’ll always need especially vintage bikes for long distances like chain lube and oil so make some room  on the bike because you won’t always find it out there.

CAMPING SUPPLIES:

Ask a backpacker is my best piece of advice (I’m sure Chhun at East Fork can point you in the direction for packing for these kinds of adventures). It’s important to travel light and quick to pack and unpack but that can get pricey. I definitely brought some comfort things that I could leave behind. One being the inflatable sleeping mat, nice to have but bulky. I see my gear is becoming outdated because the other guys and some more streamlined down ones they got at REI. Is it needed? No. Does it help? Yes. A goodnight's sleep is important when it comes to long days of riding.

I would update this part of my gear or leave it behind.

The Brixton poncho blanket? Yes it’s awesome and warm and yes it looks cool but is it bulky? Yes. In a modern world where every piece of camping gear is being designed to fit in a stuff sack the size of an apple, a giant wool poncho blanket is pretty obsolete. But it makes a great pillow! I’d personally leave it behind.

Is my tent a little big? Yes. But I’m 6’6” and like a little room for my riding gear to go in so I’ll stick with that for now.

One place for all the little things. I had a really hard time keeping track of all the odds-and-ends stuff like matches, eating utensils, soap etc. It got annoying so find someway to keep all this stuff in one place like one bag for it all that is separate from everything else. Zip lock bags are great but they don’t last long when packing and unpacking everyday.

Rain gear. The cheap set of rain gear I got at Target three years ago has yet to pop the seal so I’d say leave it behind and suffer being wet or buy a trash bag on the road. This depends of course on what kind of riding you are doing and how comfortable you want to be. Obviously, if you are crossing the artic you’ll need the right gear.

What I would keep on me and accessible is food. “Spaceman Meal” freeze-dried meals that backpackers carry would be a good thing just to have. Steve had a few on the road and saved our ass one night. And if I streamlined my pack out down, I’d consider a small fuel supply portable burner for anything longer than a few days. I think it’s smart.

Last but not least as cool as the parachute bag looked completely useless other than to hold everything in one place so as it rained everything stayed nice and evenly soaked… Ha ha ha canvas bag with only minimal water repellent treatment on it doesn’t work that well, I will update and explore options (would love any advice.) 

BACKPACK:

The Wheelmen backpack I have worked awesome, highly recommend it, my problem was what I carried inside.

Ok this one is tricky because there is “dirty” and then there is “DIRTY” I packed an extra set of jeans that I never used so now I know I can handle “dirty” but only one pair of underwear,I don’t think so. Any more days out there and it would’ve been laundry time. Socks are king and keeping them dry is important.

So, I hate to admit it because “the knit” Gentleman sweater is so awesome but I only used it once and it was really just to justify bringing it, pointless to bring and super bulky. I wore my long underwear shirt more often.

Three shirts and three pair of underwear and three pairs of socks seemed to be the right equation for this trip, I guess good things do come in threes...ha ha ha.

REST OF THE PACK:

Spare parts are key and I would not compromise on that so extra cables, plugs, fuses, bulbs, fuel line etc. a must. Putting them in the right place is where I’d look to next.

Fuel can. This gets tricky if you read the horror stories of bringing extra fuel on a motorcycle online it can deter you. My buddy Justin gave me the trick of wrapping it in the survival blanket, great idea. I’d probably carry a bigger can or two of them next time. Again it depends on where you are going but for small bikes that are vintage, extra fuel is a must especially if you are traveling alone. The desert shows no mercy.

Bungees are “god” you always want extra because you never know how much extra stuff you’ll need to put on the bike supplies for the night; wood, water, food etc… nice to have extra for the quick pack before looking for camping.

That brings me to my final subject that was asked of me—did we plan our camping? Answer was “no." Unless you are on a very specific trip with one or two destinations in mind it’s hard to do this. Lets say you are planning to ride 500 miles per day and one day you do 600 or 200 or 50 because your bike broke down...ha ha ha. Your eff’d! You are either behind schedule or ahead of schedule and nothing worse than setting up camp at 4:00pm when you could ride another 200 miles or at midnight because your goal was to be somewhere that you already paid for.

Just my opinion but I have never bike camped at a predetermined spot because I never know where I’ll end-up. Obviously, heading into very busy places such as Yellowstone, Black hills etc… it can be tough but you can always rely on BLM land no fires but a place to rest your head if all else fails.

The 350 was problematic because of weight so I need to consider that for the next trip not that I saw huge issue but as any pack-out can go there is always room for improvement.

Hope that helps, long story short, enjoy the ride and don’t worry so much, things workout the way they do for a reason. You just have to keep on riding and enjoy every minute of it.

Posted in Buddy Wilinski, CL350, Honda, Los Angeles, MidWestward, Milwaukee, Motorcycle, Nick Krusick, Nick Miramontes, Steve Kowal, vintage

MIDWESTWARD MAP & DAILY MILEAGE LOG

Posted on August 07, 2014 by Chhun Tang | 0 Comments

Here's the day-by-day actual map locations with mileage and gas we used.

Day 1-Total miles 435 $43 Gal 11.597 
https://goo.gl/maps/AcFj9
Day 2-Total Miles 56 Gas cost $5 Gal 2.034
https://goo.gl/maps/0GBHO
Day 3- Total Miles 260  $22 Gal 5.409
https://goo.gl/maps/8EtYi
Day 4- Total Miles 372  $38 Gal 9.866
https://goo.gl/maps/vaUOz
Day 5- Total Miles176  $19 Gal 5.134
https://goo.gl/maps/qizxl
Day 6- Total Miles 500  $32 Gal 8.002
https://goo.gl/maps/E8aXB
Day 7- Total Miles 346  $32 Gal 8.016
https://goo.gl/maps/byK5u
Day 8- Total Miles 430  $35 Gal 8.816
https://goo.gl/maps/k3L7F
Day 9-  Total Miles 213 $22 Gal 6.45
https://goo.gl/maps/Y2OGy
Day 10- Miles 286  $28 Gal 7.431
https://goo.gl/maps/uOt7A
Day 11-  Miles 213 $18 Gal 4.89
https://goo.gl/maps/JgpQr
Miles 2,947.6
Gal used 66.795n this was probably closer to 68 gal
$294 but i'm sure it was closer to $320 

Posted in Buddy Wilinski, California, CL350, Honda, Kawasaki, KZ400, Los Angeles, MidWestward, Milwaukee, Nick Krusick, Nick Miramontes, Steve Kowal, Triumph

MIDWESTWARD THE JOURNEY

Posted on July 31, 2014 by Chhun Tang | 0 Comments

“falling rocks the next ___ miles”

I saw a sign as we ended our ride down the PCH that said “falling rocks the next eight miles” and it made me laugh a little, inside I felt like “now you tell me” or “you don’t know the half of it." But it was appropriately fitting that out of the hundreds of road signs I saw and the hundreds more I didn’t see while on the road I noticed that one—one I’ve ridden past so many times, probably on every bike I’ve owned I’ve done that route to or from Ojai at that moment I noticed it.

I want to give perspective on this whole trip give insight into what we actually did. Which, lets be honest, wasn’t breaking land speed records (although I tried..ha ha ha) it wasn’t rocket science and it’s not like people haven’t done this a thousand times before greater distances on more questionable bikes facing greater odds and overcoming far greater challenges etc.,I know that. There are so many more amazing bike trip stories out there but in the end this was ours and in the end this was my challenge to myself and those who came along hopefully saw that and I appreciate all their support from start to finish.

I think I mention this because in the end when you sit and think about doing a long road trip on a bike you probably ask these same questions or think in a similar manner, so many people along the way would not even on bikes would say the same things “thats on my bucket-list” or “I’ve always wanted to do this” along with the occasional old-timer saying “I had that same bike when I was a teenager?!” The camaraderie of motorcyclists is definitely challenged when they see you on this little bike but in the end I was never met with anything but curiosity and support from Harley riders in Sturgis to the Gold Wing long haulers and everything in between.

I’m struggling to recap this maybe because I hate to admit that it’s over all I want to do even now 3 days after is get on and keep going, disregard everything and head to Mexico and back up to through the south to just keep exploring… alas that is not the case. I see why countless people do just that, “say fuck-it!” and just keep going, it’s addicting. When Steve and I pulled into Los Angeles we sat at a Pete’s coffee and had to hold every bit of our being to not pull out our phones and look to where we were heading next.

After arranging with Steve for storage of his bike and getting him to a hotel by the airport I headed home and in that 18-mile stretch I was cut-off more than the entire 3000 miles  and I was thinking, “wow, hilarious if I were to get hit NOW!!!”  But I did make it back and now reflecting the best way I could put this experience is this “It was nothing I planned and everything I ever wanted in a motorcycle adventure.” Simply put this was our adventure from the first five days with the four of us putting around the Black Hills ripping canyons and thinking about what it even took to get up here… Rebuilding carbs on a picnic table in Iowa to spark plugs blowing out; from a flat tire two blocks from Luverne Kawasaki in MN. to hunting down a rectifier for the triumph and convincing the Sioux Falls dealership to pull one off a floor model so we could keep going to camping by the “Mighty Mo” (Missouri River)… From Taco John’s to it’s western rip-off Taco Time (taco time is better) and every Subway in between, you’d a thought we were sponsored by them like Jeard we stopped so many times, every little town along the way and every person who showed a helping hand and suggestions.  From day 6 when Steve and I split from Bud and Nick and our adventures broke into two… From the similarities and all the differences we would share.

Being turned away from road construction because it was “to muddy” to stumbling into a Lander, WY. for the night and hearing of “climber fest” for the first time and realizing that’s why there is no where to stay, hunting down a camera battery charger in the most random place and they actually had it! Riding the Salt Flats and all the great routes we found along the way. From the odd rip-off burning man in Utah that they wouldn’t let us in (which is probably a good thing since I would not have returned if so) to bolting the desert of Nevada at night dodging jackrabbits left and right roadside camping to an amazing view almost 10,000 feet in elevation in Yosemite to riding up the PCH and feeling like I had never seen the pacific ocean before. Through it all it was our adventure and in many ways for all of us it was our individual experience no matter what. In the end I will say this to anyone who “always wanted to do a bike trip” I say go for it. This will be your adventure with all the twists and turns (literally at times) and unexpected experiences along the way.

As I reflect on all this I think about what I set out to do on this trip: enjoy my time away, take lots of pictures, maybe even work in a video project or two.  And in-the-end although I had a blast it wasn’t about all that it and became about my relationship with the bike. I had to listen to it at all times. Every morning I had to check the plugs assess how they looked, clean and make any adjustments and I would also check the static timing. Three times on the road we did a valve gap adjustment, I changed the oil twice along the way, checked over bolts and nuts making sure they were tight after a day of rattling down the road and all the obvious in between, chain lube, tire pressure, etc. to the unexpected exhaust-pipe hardware store fix. This little bike wanted to be a real part of this trip not just the thing I rode but to teach me, I think to challenge me too, which was what I wanted out of this whole adventure no matter what my initial plans were.

To those who supported me and were with me along the way physically and in my thoughts I truly thank you and for those who thought I couldn’t do it I appreciate your concern.

And to everyone who helped along the way I am grateful and I hope to those who we helped along the way especially Dean outside Nevada with the broken fan on his KLR, I really hope you made it where ever you were headed and again it was your adventure. And Willie who was riding his mountain bike for cancer for his daughter.

Last but not least to my fellow travelers Buddy, Nick and Steve you guys did a great job and I truly hope you had the adventure you were and weren’t expecting all in one.  Please share your photos and experiences in the hopes  to inspire others get the bike trip they never expected…

And to Chhun, thanks for working with me on this what a great way to communicate.

Thanks you all.

Any questions or if you would like to get a hold of me directly feel free

njmiramontes@gmail.com

 

Posted in Buddy Wilinski, California, CL350, Honda, MidWestward, Milwaukee, motorcycles, Nick Krusick, Nick Miramontes, Steve Kowal, Triumph, vintage

DAY 11

Posted on July 16, 2014 by Chhun Tang | 2 Comments

The final day of riding after heading through Ojai 33 last night and getting a subpar late night campsite a not so quick wet ass wood fire and a quick two Highlife tall boys and off to bed.

Woke up 6:00 am, took our time to pack everything up knowing this was our last night on the road.

Sombering mood at that moment but I knew it would come to this eventually. We made our way down PCH into Santa Monica and as I sat there on this motorcycle, I could only think of how far we all came, from splitting from Nick and Buddy in the Black Hills to Steve and I braving the Nevada desert at night while watching out for suicide rabbits. All of it seemed like forever ago.

As we pulled in to Santa Monica it was pretty crazy, I’ve seen this place a thousand plus times maybe more, I use to live there. In a weird way it felt like the first time I ever saw it, like I was coming to LA for the first time, it's such a strange feeling when you’ve lived in this place for the past 13 plus years. Honestly, for the first time in a long time I was excited to be back.

I parted ways with Steve and we dropped his bike off at my friend Tim's. Steve is still up in the air on selling his bike in LA or shipping it back.

The total distance we traveled was 2,947.6 miles. Gotta be honest, I wanted to ride in a circle for that last 53 miles to get to 3K but next time I’ll make sure and exceed 3K.

In the next few days I will update the blog here and talk a bit more about each day more images to share etc. We're also doing an event at East Fork Supply Co., about the whole trip later on. Sorry, for now I rest.

Check back in a few days.

Thank you everyone!

Posted in California, CL350, Honda, MidWestward, motorcycles, Nick Miramontes, Santa Monica, Steve Kowal, Triumph, vintage

DAY 10

Posted on July 15, 2014 by Chhun Tang | 0 Comments

Day 10 found us waking up in Yosemite and riding the whole park as we descended into the California desert. I was dreading this part but didn't think it would be as bad as Nevada...I was wrong. The hottest ride we had and as always it feels like you are riding on a treadmill going nowhere. The bike was hurting for awhile had to take the desert in 40 mile increments.

In the end we made it past to the 33 into Ojai!!! If you know the road you know why it gets three "!" One of the greatest roads to ride in southern California. I was using that as motivation for Steve to make it across the desert. He wasn't disappointed at all.

The bike cooled off with the weather as the sun went down starting into Ojai and man did she rip! We camped in Ojai, Casita Vista not much to look at but it was late when we rolled in. I hate looking for camping at night which sucks because this is the last night. Los Angeles is right down the road now we are gonna ride PCH up. Won't say "I made it" just yet...

Total miles for day 10 - 310

 

Posted in California, CL350, desert, Honda, MidWestward, Milwaukee, motorcycles, Nick Miramontes, Ojai, Steve Kowal, Triumph, vintage, Yosemite

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