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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Some seeds, when planted, just grow and grow. The concept of The Epic Ride has been out there for some time. Even in its infancy, as the name suggests, it was going to be a big, long tour. I knew from the outset that there was no hope I’d be able to make a month long ride. But I hoped all along that I’d be able to leave with the group, ride out a ways, and make my way back alone.

From there the plans formed and took shape, dates were blocked out, mutual holidays were booked from work and the ride crew started to get assembled. By the Fall of 2014 it looked like the ride was going to cover the entire month of June touring a large loop of the United States – West, South, East then back up North – and that 6 players were “in”.

• JA on his Honda ST 1300
• EA on his Kawasaki Vaquero
• DB on his Kawasaki Concours
• KB on his Honda NCX700
• Me on the Versys, and bringing up the rear
• SB in his Mustang convertible.

Like me, KB was up for a tour but a month long Epic Journey was not in the cards. So we determined that we’d be in the group from London Ontario to Telluride Colorado, then peeling off for a round trip of about 10 or 12days. Our return trip will take us up to Sturgis, the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore before heading East and back to Canada.[/COLOR]
 

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Sounds great! The epic month-long ride I want to do is from SF to the Appalachians and back...

keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The luggage set up on the Versys includes Givi E21 side cases, a Givi E26 topcase and a 35L dry bag from Bags Connection. I used all of that for the 12 day/6,000 km trip to Cabot Trail two years ago and it worked out OK. But, even when packing light, this is not a very roomy set up and some real choices have to be made.

I have Givi monokey racks on the Versys. I shopped around during the Winter for a larger option to fit the existing racks. The E21s are great commuters and daily riders and I love the top opening feature. I was looking for something that I would likely only use once a year for touring. So I had to keep the price in a reasonable range.

In the end, I ordered Kappa K40 monokey side cases. I got them at the annual sale at local dealer Inglis Cycle for 25% off. I also ordered new tires. After getting great use and distance out of 2 sets of Michelin Pilot Road 3s, I opted for the new PR4s. The bike will come out of storage and head to the dealer for the new skins on March 24th.

Here's a comparison of the bags: 21L vs 40L.



 

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DUDE! :)

1. On West 10 in TX, big 100 lb rattle snakes lay on the road at night (150 mile w/o gas stretch to el paso), so expert motorcyclists have died at night on that long stretch (w/deers too.)

2. Why the accent on MS? I've lived in the SE USA all my life, and there's nothing but small town cops in LA, MS, AL, So GA, AR, and West TN.

3. You are missing the sweetest part of TN. I'd expressway my way to Atlanta, and dump out up north GA mountains, then head to Greenville, and come around East TN. NC unfortunately has a lot of gravel and crap on their roads to detour mc's. NC also has moonshiners and pot growers at corner near GA and SC, so gravel stops have nails sprinkled in (i.e. - don't stop in NC except for gas.) East TN is a blast, and only Such creek Mountain nw of Chattanooga has a 20 mile race course in the mountains you will never forget (worth 2 or 3 loops at least.)

4. Were those smoke signals or smoke rings coming from Colorado?

The Appalachians have a year round riding as compared the west mountains, and in fact, Winter is the only time you can see around the corners without leaves in the trees and stupid tourists. Personally, I'd go to Denver and b-line it Atlanta to hit the mountains in the Appalachians. The mountain roads are the best in the world in N. GA, E. SC, and E. TN. They are living mountains and look different every time you go through them. Just hurry up before the tourist season clogs up the roadways, or mornings will be the only time to ride. MS is not real bad though, but not real good unless that is where you were raised. Ride safe and get your AMA hazard ins for $50/year!

:clap::clap:
 

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Looks like a truly epic trip... But there are way more interesting ways in Colorado to get to the Front Range than US 50 and I-25. Even if it's time related... consider more riding in the central Colorado Rockies. You can do it with NO interstate at all, if you want to... let me know if you want more info-
 

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Looks like a truly epic trip... But there are way more interesting ways in Colorado to get to the Front Range than US 50 and I-25. Even if it's time related... consider more riding in the central Colorado Rockies. You can do it with NO interstate at all, if you want to... let me know if you want more info-
PLEASE POST! I'm planning a trip there this year, and do not have the patience for group rides anyway. It would be a wonderful reference on this great site! There are probably a lot of day-rides worth of fun in Colorado. I've never been in mountains this high before so an expert guide would be valuable indeed to maximize my fun time.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
One week 'till take off.

I changed out the clutch cable - just in case @48,000kms - but the one I took off looks fine. My high beam headlight went, just got that changed out with an H7 halogen bulb. For those of you who change bulbs without removing the fairing, I salute you. I stripped the bike down and still found it was tricky.

I also have the V-Stream windshield, bought used last year from a forum member, installed in the middle setting. It makes a surprising big difference on the highway. And I put my Powermadd hand guards back on, just because. They mesh nice with the V-Stream.
 

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Hope you guys have a great time. Please post photos and a trip log when you get back home if you can.

I'm planning a 16 day run from Wisconsin to northern California to see the Redwoods and then back home through Colorado, so I'll be interested to see/hear that part of your trip.

Ride safe,

Mitch
 

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Sounds like an incredible trip. I'll be taking off for the Sierra's later in July but I wish I had the time to make it over to the Rockies for the length of time you're going.

Have a safe trip! :thumb:
 

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Wash the Magnesium (MgNa2/sand road adhesion mix) off your bikes! Unlike salt back east which needs bare metal to rust, MgNa2 eats through your paint and then the metal. Until today (5-25-15, DAY time), there is still scattered freezing rain/snow throughout CO.

I've been watching this whole year for the tide to turn: it may not, and I really like my paint job. Please take lots of pics! :thumb::thumb:
 

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PLEASE POST! I'm planning a trip there this year, and do not have the patience for group rides anyway. It would be a wonderful reference on this great site! There are probably a lot of day-rides worth of fun in Colorado. I've never been in mountains this high before so an expert guide would be valuable indeed to maximize my fun time.
When will you be in Colorado and what part of the state will you be in?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Back home now. After 12 days through 10 states, we covered 7,562 kms and had a great ride. The Versys was flawless. Detailed ride report and pictures to follow.
 

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630 kms/day average is not bad, but 12 days in a row!?! I'd bet every one of you got a tender a$$.

Good job. That's a hell of an accomplishment for the mid-size mid-range-cam supermoto tourer, sore asses or not!

I can't wait for your report.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Part 1. The Journey Begins

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” Jack Kerouac

Day 1, Monday June 1st. Four motorcycles and a Mustang heading out today.

• JA on his Honda ST1300
• DB on his Kawasaki Concours, complete with 3rd wheel trailer
• SB driving his Mustang ragtop
• KB on his Honda NCX700
• And Me on the Versys (KB and I will peel off after 6 days while the others continue for 30 days)

DB and the third wheel trailer rig:


KB would come to find the under pillion location of his gas cap required some extra effort on every fuel stop:


It was an un-seasonably cold day to start on, only about 6 degrees with a wind-chill making it feel like 2. It stayed cold most of the day. We crossed the border from Sarnia ON into Port Huron MI across the Bluewater Bridge. Michigan to Indiana mostly on I69 to Indianapolis then West on Hwy 36. We covered 826 kms for the day stopping in Rockville Indiana.

Nice riding along old 36 highway which in its heyday was a lesser known version of Route 66. It still plays on its fame a bit and we enjoyed dinner at the Thirty Six Saloon which was very motorcycle-centric.

The patio at the Thirty Six Saloon:


Day 2, Tuesday June 2nd. This is Parke County, famous for the high number of covered bridges, so we stopped for a group photo op.



We got an early start and did about an hour of riding before pulling into a Denny’s for breakfast and coffee. Much coffee. This old Hwy 36 also happens to follow part of the old route of the Pony Express and there are lots of signs and reminders of its famed history. The weather was warmer but windy and there is rain in the area. We kept hitting wet roads but mostly missed the rain. We stayed on Hwy 36 all the way across Missouri. We end the day after 860 kms in Marysville Kansas. Forecast is for rain tomorrow.

Day 3, Wednesday June 3rd. Rain. Lots of it. Raining hard with plenty of thunder and lightning too. Kansas really knows how to have a thunderstorm. Coming from the Great Lakes region, I’ve witnessed some wild storms and we’re prone to tornados too. But I never before saw a bolt of lightning fly horizontally across the sky, explode , and shoot down in 5 bolts. Whoa!

The downpour lightened up a bit to make it easier to pack up the bikes, but it didn’t last. We stopped for some quick pictures with the Pony Express statue, but as we are getting those done the rain started up again and continued for a couple of hours as we rode West.

The Pony Express Rider in Marysville Kansas:


Once the weather broke and cleared we got wind-dried as we traveled the flat and open plains of Western Kansas. Near Norton Kansas we turned SW onto Hwy 383 to 83. It was along 83 that we stopped and took a break at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Centre in Oakley KS.


Hwy 83 then connected to Hwy 40. Hwy 40 took us to Hwy 94 at Aroya CO. From there it was a straight line, a very straight line, to our jump off destination: Colorado Springs.

Straight line indeed. If you look closely you can see a car closing in on me EB from Utah:


We pulled into Colorado Springs and met up with EA who rode out alone 3 days ahead on his Kawasaki Vaquero. So, we are now 5 bikes and 1 car. It took us 3 days and 2,485 kms to get here, but now it was play time for the next few days. Enjoyed a great BBQ diner at Famous Dave’s. Forecast looks good for Pike’s Peak in the morning. All set for a few days of group touring through southern Colorado...
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Part 2, The Colorado Rockies.

“The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Hunter S. Thompson

Day 4, Thursday, June 4th. This was our first full day in Colorado. Our first stop was to the Air Force Academy to see the chapel. In our eagerness, we arrived at the gates at 8am only to learn the chapel is not open until 9. The uniformed fellow with the M4 didn’t appear open to compromise, so we went on our way and rode on to the Garden of the Gods.




We took some time to walk through the park and enjoy the sights there before heading off to Pikes Peak. The weather was clear and sunny and looked like a great day to make it to the summit at 14,115 feet.

DA found out he had to leave his trailer at the base, so with that disconnected and secured, we started up the road. What a fantastic route. The highest point in North America that you can drive to and the views and twisty roads and drop offs are thrilling.



The bike did become a little less responsive as we ascended, starving a bit for oxygen, and needed and extra little push of the button to start each time too. Sadly, despite the great weather, we were stopped 700 feet short of the summit. We learned the last few miles we rode had only been plowed open since Monday and that the top still had 14 feet of snow cover. So, 13,400 feet was a good as it gets. And that was pretty damn good. The Hill Climb races here must be INSANE!





Then it was South on 115 to join up with the very curvy and scenic Hwy 50, heading West. This road cuts through an awesome natural canyon and follows the Arkansas River. It was one of the original routes to the West. Yet another reminder as we crossed this vast, rocky and beautiful part of the country by motorcycle, that others did it long before by horse and wagon without the help of roads - amazing! We saw lots of white water rafting as we cruised on along the river which seem really rough as this part of the states had some wild weather and high rainfall in the weeks leading up to our trip.

At Texas Creek we turned down South along Hwy 69 following the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and stopped in the Westcliffe/Silver Cliff area to camp for the night, after a much easier 300kms of riding. This would turn out to be our only camping night out of the 11 nights. The Grape Creek RV Park was very well kept, private, quiet, and laying in the shadow of the mountains.



Maybe the nicest set up I’ve ever had for pitching a tent. The chip and dust base and the canopy above meant everything was dry in the morning which made packing up gear very easy. But, at 8,000 feet of elevation, it got pretty damn cold over night.



Cody and Dusty kept watch over the tents. In the morning the sky was right for some nice mountain views.




 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Day 5, Friday, June 5th.

With the camping gear packed back onto the bikes we headed out to get some miles on before breakfast. We followed scenic 69 South to Walsenburg where we enjoyed breakfast at Corine’s Mexican restaurant. West from there on Hwy 160 to 150 which goes North into the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Entry is only 3 dollars here. Of course, there was not much riding to do. But the sight of these massive dunes piled in front of the mountains was like something from another world.






We re-connected to the more scenic Western end of Hwy 160 across the Rio Grande and continued West. We rode to some great elevations over the mountain passes, in excess of 10,000 feet. This was some great riding and spectacular views as we crossed the Continental Divide. The weather looked a little dreary and threatening for rain, so we donned our rain gear before crossing the divide. There was only some light rain, but I was glad for the warmth of the extra layer because it felt like Winter up there. Looked like it too with lots of snow on the peaks and banks still plowed at the sides of the roadways.
Scenic overlook of the valley below with our destination, Pagosa Springs in the distance.





The skies grew darker and the rain was coming down steady as we rolled into Pagosa. We found shelter in the Quality Inn for the night. This was a 408 km riding day. We discovered a little restaurant there called the Lost Cajun. Amazing gumbo and catfish. The service and atmosphere were great and so was the food and Louisiana craft beer. This ride report makes little to no reference to the food stops, but the Lost Cajun is more than worthy of mention. It was great.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Day 6, Saturday, June 6th.

This will be the last day for KB and I with the group. Watching the weather channel while eating the hotel breakfast, things did not look too promising for today. We left wearing rain gear under overcast skies. We continued West on Hwy 160 to Durango where we started North on 550 – The Million Dollar Highway.



The further North we got the more it started to rain, and the more curvy and technical the road became. As we continued to ascend this tricky and dangerous mountain pass the weather went from bad to worse. Lightning streaked the sky and thunder echoed around the canyon walls. Undaunted, we continued the climb up over the 10,000 foot mark. Then came the sudden and violent pounding of hail. The hail was accumulating on the road and the 2 bikes ahead of me were cutting a groove of black through the now white covered surface. With no guardrails and drop offs of hundreds of feet, this was starting to seem pretty treacherous as we passed through the curves and switch backs. It was cold and the hail converted into sleet and snow. Snow plows were operating in the oncoming lanes. Ice was forming on my VStream screen and on my helmet shield. We finally got to a pull-out as the precipitation ended and got a few snap shots while we waited for all the riders to assemble.




Once we determined that no one had fallen off the mountain we carried on to Silverton (elev. 9,600 ft) to have some coffee and pie at the Brown Bear Café and reflect on how good it felt to be alive.



The break in the rain didn’t last long and we moved onto the even curvier and more challenging part of Hwy 550 from Silverton to Ouray in the pouring cold sleety rain. We reached our destination, the Hot Springs Inn in Ouray at about 1pm.




We only rode 217 kms today, but most every one of them was a nerve wracking mess. In the end, it was disappointing to miss out on riding such an amazing technical road in good dry weather. On the other hand, there is a certain sense of satisfaction from riding one of the most dangerous roads in America under some of the worst possible conditions, and living to tell the tale. My “I Survived Hwy 550” decal is proudly displayed on my garage wall now.

After 6 challenging days of hard riding, it was nice to take some time off the bike and enjoy the canyon town of Ouray. The heavy rain lightened and eventually passed, giving us a chance to check out some shops, bars and restaurants in town. Afterwards, took some time to relax mind, body, and soul in one of the Inn’s outdoor hot tubs while enjoying a great mountain view.


 
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