Friday, 1 April 2011

You're in Buckeye now baby!

Ooops I missed my deadline. Missed alot of them recently actually. Since my last post I've been worrying quite considerably about the bike. The speedo and odometer have not been working, combined with the continually faulty Honda fuel guage I've been, on the most part, guessing my fuel range and regulaly ran dry. Performance had been an issue with the bike running out of power at about 70mph and a complete lack of tread on my front tire. Although these are not major issues by themselves I have been riding with a feeling of doom. Waiting for a wheel to fall off or for something to explode with the result being a painful bloody mess. As I have been riding along these images would come into my head and they were not confidence building. I had searched for help in San Fran and someone offered but in my haste to find sunshine I pushed on South to LA.

The ride from San Fran to LA was fairly nice, apart from the rain but I was used to it now so mostly ignored it or hid under whatever shelter was available. I took the 101 down the coast to LA and had originally decided not to go all the way there. In the end it seemed easier to make the final push and I arrived at Venice Beach incident free just as the sun was going down. I even managed to check into a reasonably clean hostel. In the couple of days in LA I managed to pick up two parking tickets on the same day in the same parking spot (if you get a ticket in the morning DONT remove it). On the bright side I will not be paying the tickets as I doubt I will be back in LA any time soon and for sure not with the Alp.

In LA I finally started sulking about the bike, she needed a good pampering and I didn't have the resources, the facilities or the know-how. I reached out to  and asked for help. Almost instantly I got a response from DSM8. He sent me a PM and got in touch on the phone. Long story short, we arranged to meet the following day. In the meantime I started sourcing parts. Essentials that I needed basically came down to a new chain and sprockets. My old chain disintigrating on the way down the Oregon coast. I decided to make one last attempt at money saving and started calling round asking for sponsorship. Chad at Mid Cities Honda came back and said that if I could ride in they would see what they could do to help out. With no fuss at all I was told I could have a new chain and sprockets and an oil change all at cost price and no labour charges. Also a free, all american, hot dog. Although because it is a european bike I would need to wait till monday for them to be fitted.

It's not much in terms of total cost however the kindness of the people and the willingness to help out a traveller was a great reminder that you're never really out on your own.

I eventually met up with Dave at his house. He wasn't there at the time but had left the garage open for me with a firm warning that if I touched the KTMs and they didn't kill me he would. I soon learnt that this friendly ribbing from the gun touting american would be par for course over the next few days.

Dave had left his garage for me to start work and I soon had the faring off trying to fix the Odo and the fuel guage. Turns out a small plastic gear had worn out near the front wheel. This gear drives a cable which in turn drives the odometer. I eventually decided on bending some parts to bring the worn out gear back in contact with the wheel. Thankfully, rather than exploding, I now know how far and how fast I am travelling. From this I can also guess my fuel range. Also managed to confirm that the fuel gauge was (in technical terms) fucked. When Dave came home we fitted a new tire to the front (kindly donated by dave) and made plans for the weekend. I was duely informed that if I did not want to attend the ADV rally in Death Valley he would introduce me to the method of transporting recently killed dear and strap me to the hood of his truck. We both agreed travelling by bike would be better and so started packing for the trip.

The ride from LA to Death Valley was almost exactly 200 miles and there must have been about 4 corners the whole way. The ride was mostly uneventful apart from leaning about 10 degrees to the left the whole way to compensate for the absurd amount of wind. Dave had my luggage in his truck so it was fairly easy riding. We arrived at the Panamint Springs campsite in the early afternoon to a scene of pure havock as people attempted to erect their tents in 55mph gusts. My georgous 1 man tent went up in about 5 minutes with no fuss at all and we preceeded to wonder around the campsite ogling near enough 100 bikes.

The folk here were mostly hardcore offroaders with a tendancy to the insane. They thought I was mad and I thought they were mad. It was a match made in insanity. That first night beer and conversation flowed in equal amounts. There was even some green smoke in the air. I didn't manage to meet a single person I didn't like as everyone was friendly and basically out for a long weekend of pleasure. That night and the ones to follow all ended in the early hours.

On Friday morning I met up with two bikers, one on a seriously modified 89 TA and we planned to head to the old Manson house (Home of the notorious Charles Manson) however, and I made plenty of excuses for this, I did not feel comfortable riding through the sand. I blame a dead chain, a round sprocket and a pure road tire. None of these excuses made me feel better as I turned around and headed back to camp.

I spent the rest of the day planning a road route around the local DV sites and the next day I grouped up with Bronwyn and Rob for a ride to Deadwater. The lowest point in the US at -238ft. Named badwater for the fact that the water was very very bad. The salt flats spread out from this point covering the land far into the distance. All in it was a good days ride. Just cruising around at about 80mph and stopping regulaly for photos. That night Pablo, who had set up a refuelling point which no-one had visited, set up a different type of fueling point and gave me free access to it. ERROR! I barely left the keg alone all night and people began to comment on the Welsh never being far from the beer.

Sunday morning we said our goodbyes, loaded the bikes into the truck (my chain was truely dead by this point) and drove back to LA. With daves help and more than a few suggestions I managed to clean the carbs, flush the radiator, melt my bash plate and fit a drip fed chain oiler. Monday afternoon I rode to Mid Cities and had my new chain and sprockets fitted. Now, with all but the fuel gauge working I had confidence in the bike again. I was to spend one more night with Dave before heading back on the road. When he got back from work Dave decided it was time to unload some of his old gear so I have recently aquired a new bed roll and winter gloves. A small bit of America will now travel with me wherever I go whether I like it or not.

Since leaving LA I have once again met up with Bronwyn, a crazy Aussie chick with a welsh name who once lived in Dublin, Edingburgh and Seattle who is now on a trans-america trip. We met up in Joshua tree NP and camped the night there. The next morning we loaded the bikes in brilliant sunshine and, on the bare minimum of gear headed through Joshua Tree and on to....... You guessed it..... BUCKEYE!

Yes, the grand city of Buckeye is where we are currently residing in a stupidly overpriced motel with about a million truckers. It's as backwater as the name suggests but its a bed and a shower. God knows I needed one. Tomorrow we head to Tucson then Amado for the Overland Expo where I hope to find more sponsorship and pick up the last few bits and peices I need before heading into Mexico.

I was not prepared for the States but hopefully with the help of a few friends I am now ready to go on.

Photos below:

On the way to LA trying to outrun the clouds. I failed!

Still going down Hwy 1, Finally some georgous weather

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair.....
Camping with the folks from ADVrider

Water in the desert

 Can he make it?


A Ferrari

Rob, Oliver and Bronwyn at 283ft below sea level

Would sir like chips with his salt?

The Death Valley salt flats

Joshua Tree National Park

Skull Rock, so named because......

Just before the sunset at the campground.

The setting sun

A pretty serious Joshua Tree

Night night

My highly organised tent

Hiding from the sun

A final shot of the JT National Park


stacato said...

awesome. :)

Alex Smith said...

Hell yes! Looks like you picked up a mice thermarest sleeping pad from Dave. Nicely done Dave! If you slow down any more, I'm going to pass you! We plan to cross into Baja by this coming Tuesday!

Mum said...

Hi Oli. good to know that you are riding safely now. A mother's thanks go to Dave and those people who helped you out. Stay safe my boy.
Love Mum x

Cris and Chris said...

Oli! Nice pics! Hope you are safe and across the boarder!

Unknown said...

Thanks Chris n Chris,

Got across the border without any trouble at all. I had to make a photocopy of the licence and when I took it to be processed they barely even looked at the "proper" one.

Alex, the thermarest is brilliant. Actually makes camping fun. What can I say though? I am enjoying the view.

I assume your paperwork is all sorted out now. Errors like that are all part of the fu... learning experience.

De noche no soy parda said...

you lovely and funny angel, didn`t say good bye or give a hug, may be that`s the way angels do. I realy would like to follow your trip. Unwittingly, you were a great incentive to my life (was a little lost last days) and on the other hand I don`t meet angels so easy. I`m proud you decide to cross this country, I am sure you will enjoy and learn a lot from our people. I wish our gods give light to your way and love to your soul. Atte. Julia (Cree)

Unknown said...

Hey Julia,

I tried to find you before I left but you weren't home. Had a great time myself. I know what you mean by getting back into the travelling spirit. It has finally clicked back into place again.

I hope our paths cross again sometime.


De noche no soy parda said...

It was my first day working remember? so I was with Samuel and the others in a tour. I have some pictures from El Valle de los monjes (you in the top of that big stone) and would like to share. Where can I send them?

Hope you`re having great time in Sinaloa :)

Unknown said...

Hmmm, apparently my ability to remember information is as good as my ability to remember Spanish words...

I'd love to see the photos, you send them to boomer84 (at) gmail (dot) com