Day 1 on the CABDR
CABDR: Section 1 Riding along the Colorado River was gorgeous. It was a nice glimpse of cool among all of the dirt and rock.
The first 1/4 or so of Section 1 on Day 1 was very enjoyable. It was a lot warmer in Yuma than we were expecting, high 70s to low 80s the whole day and didn't get much below 65 when we camped later. I did drop the bike twice before we even made it to the 'deep sand.' Most of it was just dumb, I kept ending up in the loose gravel on the side of the road and downed it. Karl got some video of me on the ground for me so look forward to that compilation video when we get back.
Lol Also thanks to Matt and Karl for taking turns picking up my bike so I didn't have to pull all the gear off the bike to pick it up myself. Anyway... we'll talk about the next part in my next post 😂.
We found the 'deep sand' we were warned about on our Backcountry Discovery Routes Butler Maps . The short story is that it's about 6 or so miles of 6-10 inches of pea gravel that is thick at the top and gets finer the further you dig down. There is nowhere to get around it or out of it once you're in it. If you're not confident enough and don't know wtf you're doing in that stuff, you could do some major damage on a big loaded bike... Like I did.
After having a handful of falls before we even hit this stuff, I was a bit cautious to get going fast enough to blast through it. I was scared that I'd come off even harder than I already had and potentially add a proper injury to the bruises I already carried from earlier. A mistake that my body and my clutch paid for. About 2 miles in I stopped to take a break and we laughed, "they weren't joking when they said this wasn't beginned friendly, and that this would weed out a few people." Internally I was worried that I would be one of those weeded out people.
About 2-3 miles onto fighting for every 100 feet, my clutch got to the point that even full out the rear tire wouldn't move. Defeated I sat on the side of the road and waited for Matt and Karl to catch up with me.
Matt got there first and we tried to make some adjustments to my clutch and it improved the situation a little, but we had serious concerns that I had done some major damage. We decided that Matt would ride the rest of the way out of the gravel, leap frogging to ride his bike and my bike through the last bit, and I hoofed it the last three miles. (ps. Thank you Matt!)
After we made it through to ground that was solid enough for me to ride through I took back my bike and we were immediately presented with a Hill climb. It looked doable until you come around the switch back and are met with piles of small loose boulders. I panicked, couldn't find a good line and put my foot down to find nothing under it and toppled over....again. Not my best showing.
I was having very serious doubts about if I could do this CABDR thing. We weren't even to the end of Day 1 and I had dumped my bike 5 times, my wrist and the rest of my body felt like murder, and I had doubts that my bike would survive with all of the abuse I was feeding it.
I whispered to Karl after we got my bike upright and Matt had rode it passed the obstacle of boulders for me, that I didn't think I could do this. He gave me a one armed hug and said "let's get to camp and we can re-access in the morning."
We had one more hill climb that I met with my stomach in my throat, but we all made it over and up onto the plateau as the sun was going down with no major issues. We made camp on the windy plateau, partially sheltered by some bushes. In the process of cooking dinner I discovered my camp pot took a significant hit on one of my drops and some of my honey packets had exploded in my food bag.
Aching, sore and full of doubts I went to sleep in my tent.
Ps. I managed to discover every place my body had hit the ground in the night while rolling over on my sleeping pad. 👌
CABDR : Section 1 :Day 2
On Sunday I woke up early to my body reminding me how many times I hit the ground on day 1 and where.
Karl, Matt and I made breakfast in a little circle, made small talk and when we were cleaning our dishes I remembered my clutch problem. I asked Karl to double check the adjustment to see if he might be able to get it back to where I needed it to be. Riding the bike into camp on Day 1 I realized I had a little under a half inch of friction zone… not anywhere close to what it had been before. While I tried to finish packing ( I'm always the slacker getting out of camp) he tried to make some adjustments and test rode it. Then Matt test rode it. The general conclusion, as I understood it, was that it was rideable but in higher gears the rpms would go up but the power delivery wasn't there.
I thought it would be fine.
We finished the last stretch of dirt before hitting the pavement to head to Blythe. At the stop sign I noticed again that the friction zone was much smaller than what I was used to having. Shifting up through the gears I also noticed the lag in power delivery in relation to my climbing rpms. I had a bad feeling.
Getting up to speed and coasting for a while I was able to put it out of my mind until we came to the turn for the next section of dirt we were supposed to do before entering Blythe and the end of Section 1.
My stomach sank as Karl pulled in first and told us on the comms that we needed to watch our entrance as it was just more deep deep gravel. I rolled off the slab and felt my front tire sink into what was now becoming my nemesis. After everything yesterday and my fears for my clutch, I looked over at Karl and said, “I'm not doing it.” Karl agreed with me, and Matt said a little jokingly that he thought he'd be outvoted on this one lol
We took some photos with my thumb down next to the road sign, and one where I was holding Matt back from the fun and moved on up the paved route to Blythe. Pulling out I noticed the delay in power again and felt more anxious. When we got to Blythe we took a little tour of the town and had lunch at a little BBQ joint.
We discussed our options. The closest Triumph Dealership was in Phoenix at 160 miles and it didn't open until Tuesday. LA was 170. I talked about hobbling the rest of the way to Phoenix, but Karl mentioned if the clutch was going out it was just a matter of time and that it was better to be stuck in a town than along a highway waiting forever for a tow truck. So I called Progressive to request a tow to the closest place qualified to work on my bike. The woman on the phone was amazed that my roadside assistance covered it lol
We hung out at the BBQ place trying to make a plan and decide if they would follow me to Phoenix or not. In the end they decide to try to do Section 2 and stay in Havasu for a few days. The tow truck arrived an hour later and I waved goodbye to the boys.
I put out a call on FB for a possible place to stay and Traci welcomed me into her home with a safe place to park the bike until the shop opened on Tuesday.
When I got to her house we went and had Pizza and told stories. Some people messaged me about other shops in Phoenix that might have the parts I needed to fix my bike, and Traci was messaging her mechanic about my problem . I went to bed in her spare room with high hopes for Monday.
Phoenix, AZ Day 3
Monday I was almost thankful to not be waking up on the trail. My body still ached all over and my bruises were already turning colors.
I called GOAZ first thing in the morning, for them to tell me they didn't have the parts I needed. Not a great way to start the day. On top of that I realized I left my card at the Pizza Place, that also happened to be closed on Mondays.
Traci's mechanic gave me a really amazing offer of being back on the road guaranteed by Wednesday, but it was a lot of money.Not unreasonable by any means for the short notice, labor and parts which he lined out for me. But I was scared of not having enough to get home. I chose to wait and see if my last hope had the parts in stock. I tried so hard to make the Universe make sure that Phoenix Triumph would have everything I needed.
I had an amazing lunch with Tim Collins that turned into an afternoon of talking about bikes, YouTube and our families. I voiced my concerns about returning to the CABDR and my fears about how my audience on YouTube would respond after I made such a big deal about this trip and the content I was going to make on it. He kind of assuaged the guilt I was feeling about not finishing. He pointed out that it wasn’t like I just had one bad day and decided to quit, my bike was seriously effed up. I felt a lot better about having to admit to the rest of the world that I couldn’t finish the CABDR, and trying to focus on just getting my bike fixed, seeing a few things I still wanted to see, and getting home safe with the meager funds I have left.
Phoenix, AZ Day 4
Tuesday I woke up early with my nerves on high waiting for Phoenix Triumph to open so I could call them. When the clock finally hit 9am, I called Phoenix Triumph and tried to explain my situation and finally asked my vital question. They didn’t have the parts in stock. We had a bit of a misunderstanding, and when I asked when they could get parts he said 5-7 days. My mouth gaped. Thinking maybe I could get somewhere else to order the parts, I asked when they could get me into the shop. His response was next week. My mind raced and I told him I’d call him back and hung up the phone. Another five days. If he was right I’d be in Phoenix for another five days. I did a quick google search and found Tuscon Triumph. It was another two hours south but at that point my options were narrowing. When I called them and explained my situation, they were much more accommodating. He told me not to worry that they could overnight my parts and Travelers get priority and they’d have me in ASAP. When I explained I was still in Phoenix he asked if I had called their sister store. I explained my experience and he was like give me a minute. He called me back and said he explained the situation to the manager and a few minutes after that I got a call back from Phoenix Triumph and they assured me they would get my parts overnighted and get my bike in the Shop in and done on Wednesday.
I took a deep breath and was incredibly relieved for something to moving and be taking real steps forward to having my bike fixed.
I got back my card from the pizza place and rode my bike carefully across town to the dealership and dropped it off.
All we do is eat!
Phoenix, AZ Day 5
Wednesday was the day that I felt like I finally had the opportunity to not worry about fixing my bike and could get out and explore what little of Phoenix I could without personal transportation and Uber.
First item on my agenda was finding a suitable backpack. I normally take this stowable backpack with me on almost every trip. The problem? I never use it, so I LEFT it on the one trip I really could have used it. I walked down to a little Boutique and bought myself the only bag they had with two backpack straps. It was a little on the pricey side -coming from a downtown Boutique in Phoenix- but I saw it as a useful souvenir of my time in Phoenix.
From there I walked to the Japanese Friendship Garden which was pretty reasonable at $7.
After taking one loop around I decided to buy some food and feed the Koi fish. They become a giant feeding frenzy as soon as you walk up to the shore line let alone tossing the food into the water. It was crazy! I retreated to a bench to paint and reflected on my conflicted feelings about how trained the Koi fish were to come scrambling over their fellows to the shore whenever they see a person come near it, hoping for food.
I got a rough sketch and a layer of paint down before I headed to Mike’s Big Breakfast where I was going to meet Tim for lunch. I was excited to continue our conversations about Travel when I got a call from Phoenix Triumph.
The Service writer let me know that they got the Clutch Pads, and the Tech opened up my bike. However, when they started to remove the old clutch pads they discovered that my clutch was toast. The pads were so burnt they were flaking, and they had some serious concerns about the integrity of my springs and the pressure plate. They gave me the option to just put the new pads in and limp the bike back to Portland where I could then replace the springs and the pressure plate. It just didn’t make sense to pay to replace my oil and pull the bike apart twice. He warned me that it would be another day for the pressure plate and springs. I just closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and told them to do it. That put me out another day. So, as long as nothing else went wrong I’d get my bike back Thursday afternoon, and hopefully leaving Phoenix on Friday.
Trying to take the adjustments in stride, I met up with Tim for lunch.
One of the incredible things about the motorcycle community is that oftentimes there isn’t really ice to break. I find that that especially holds true for the crazy people like me who enjoy long distance motorcycle travel. There isn’t time to be nervous and get hung up in awkward silence, there’s too many questions; Do you do this too? How do you handle your food at camp? What kind of gear are you using now? Do you find that people offer to feed you pie when you’re alone too? No just me? Right.
After Tim and I said our goodbyes I headed across town to have dinner with Ceara, one of my dear friends that went to High School with me. We had some awesome pizza and caught up on what we’d both been up to in the last few years. Thanks Ceara for meeting me for dinner and taking my mind off my bike trouble for a couple hours!!
I explored a little of Tempe Beach before heading back to home base at Traci’s house.
Phoenix, AZ Day 6
Thursday was about chores and waiting anxiously for the call to tell me that the bike was either done or there wasn’t something else wrong. I got to laundry (Thank you Traci for being an incredible host!!! I miss you already!!), and I did my best to update the vlog on what had been happening since I’m pretty terrible about remembering to record when I’m feeling a little down in the dumps.
After all that was done I walked to the Panera for lunch, and headed down to the Heard Museum. It was a little too expensive for me to go in so I sat on the grass outside and started painting. About an hour into painting I got the call that my bike was finished. I couldn’t really comprehend that it was over, that my bike was being released and that I would have wheels again. They gave me a warning that my clutch cable was stretched and needed to be replaced but I could come gather it.
I rushed back to Traci’s house and called my parents and Jonathan to let them know the news. Traci gave me a ride to the East side of town. I excited walked into the Triumph dealership to pick up my bike and was punched in the gut with a $800+ bill and the knowledge that my two-week trip had just been cut down to a week and a long haul home.
I thanked them for all their help and walked out to finally be reunited with Astraeus. They had given her a bath and it was the cleanest it had been in a LONG time. They also straightened out my bent shifter -haha probably so they wouldn't have such a hard time doing the test ride. 😝
Reunited with my bike one of the techs came out and made a comment about how many times I must have dumped it. He was nice enough and they gave me my burnt clutch in a Ziploc bag. 🤣
I rode back to Traci's house with my beloved bike with a shiny new clutch that felt better than it had for at least a year.
Phoenix, AZ - Lake Havasu, AZ Day 7
I packed up my bike excited to be back on the road, but was sad to say goodbye to Traci who has been absolutely incredible. She’s opened her home to me, fed me and took me across town to pick up my bike. Just. I can’t thank her enough.
I rolled out of Phoenix and met up with Tim who rode with me to Wickenburg.
In the same vein of thought, I got to do my first proper collab with a fellow Youtuber! You can laugh at how nervous I was, I certainly did XD
From there we took off in seperate directions, Tim back to Phoenix and I was off to Lake Havasu to meet back up with Karl for our route back to Reno.
The ride was pretty uneventful until I left Parker and started to have my first glimpses of Lake Havasu. Just. Wow. It was pretty incredible to come from such a barren looking landscape and POW there’s a giant body of water cradled between these otherworldly ‘mountains’. I was also just incredibly excited to be going around corners and twisty roads again after so many days of sitting around, and before that- straight flatt nothingness on the way down to Yuma.
I managed to find Karl at the Lone Tree BLM Campground just north of Lake Havasu. Of course with plenty of flat spots around to camp, Karl chose the rockiest, bumpiest road to ride all the way down and camp on a half-level spot of ground covered in tiny itty bitty cactuses. (Just giving you crap Karl, I know you picked the spot for me so I could have a pretty backdrop for my camp photos in the morning that was *not* surrounded by RVs. That does not change the fact that riding that road with the sun setting in my eyes wasn’t very fun.)
We set up tents, made dinner, and caught up on what the events we had missed the last few days.
I even tried to do a star trail timelapse, so you can look forward to that when the vlogs come out!
I went to sleep with a layer of polyester and fleece under my down jacket, fleece gloves on my hands, a knit hat on my head, fluffy merino wool socks on my feet, with my fleece leggings under my wool leggings, my second puffy wrapped around my feet, cocooned by my Next Adventure sleeping bag. Where’s my gold star for all of this layering?
I will say though, that has been the first night on this trip that I did not wake up multiple times in the night. I must be tired or something.
Lake Havasu, AZ - Beatty, NV Day 8
I took my sweet time packing up camp so I could get all the photos I wanted, meanwhile Karl had packed up all of his stuff (like normal.) I was giving him a bad time about always having to wait on the girl who wants to get all of her Instagram photos while I finished packing up, when Karl realized he didn’t have his bike key. He dug around until he found it and had a good laugh about how I ended up waiting on him. :P
We took off from Lake Havasu and headed west towards Kelbaker Rd which would take us through the Mojave National Preserve. On the way we stopped at a little Rest Area and were bombarded with questions from a nice old man who wanted to know everything about our adventure, then wanted to give us all the details about his BMW. After we shook him off we entered the Mojave.
I’m so glad we got to ride through the Mojave even if it wasn’t the BDR. It was really beautiful, and we managed to find ourselves some Joshua Trees and Cactuses despite being on the slab route.
We reached Baker a little late and realized we weren’t going to make it to Beatty while the sun was up and decided to have a late lunch and called ahead to reserve our rooms in Beatty. We rode through the outskirts of Death Valley at sunset. It was a little mystical and almost alien looking but really beautiful.
When we rolled into Beatty it was in the low 40s and I was VERY grateful to be staying at the Exchange Club Motel, and even more grateful when I discovered how SOFT the beds were. Karl and I made made backpacker meals in the hotel room with my camp stove because we’re frugal damn it. Karl went and hung out in the bar while I backed up footage and tried to catch up on Journals.
Beatty, NV - Tonopah, NV Day 9
I woke up early packed up my stuff waiting for Karl to start knocking on my door. I had everything packed up and on the bike when I texted Karl that I was beating him in the competition to see who got packed first. It was pretty satisfying to give him shit about waiting for him to pack up for once. To be fair, he claimed he was not properly informed about the wake up call haha.
We stopped and had breakfast at Gema’s Wagon Wheel which was packed, so we ate in the itty bitty booths outside. We came across a few other people who were riding the Nevada BDR and were planning to head south and meet up with the CABDR. Karl observed that the majority of the bikes the group was riding were a lot of light dirt bikes, and one stripped down 1090. We were both pretty down on our performance on the CABDR. Not our greatest performance for sure.
We spent breakfast reflecting on our personal self discoveries; Karl wanted to tackle the obstacles with a lighter more nimble bike with better ground clearance, while I realized that tackling obstacles for the obstacle sake is not what I enjoy about Adventure Riding. I love adventure riding because I get to explore new places, I like pushing my endurance on long miles and experience travel on two wheels. Ya know, and not being restricted to slab, that too. I don’t get my kicks doing ridiculous obstacles that make me hate life lol
When we got back on the road it didn’t take long for me to realize I needed more layers. We stopped on the side of the road about thirty minutes after leaving Beatty to add more layers and laugh about how cold it was. We got back on the bikes, and a few minutes later we found ourselves riding through a snowstorm. I was giggling the whole time, since nothing was sticking to the ground, meanwhile Karl was behind me not having as much fun as me. Lol It was only a few minutes then the snow cleared again and we were just straight cold again. I started getting a tingly feeling in my right hand and up my wrist… the pins and needles kind. I pulled over in Goldfield, and told Karl it was a good place to stop and warm up again. Karl said he thought there was a truck stop just ahead.
I nodded and followed him… straight out of town. My wrist started to ache, and then it got worse, by the time we pulled into Tonopah’s truck stop I could barely make a fist with my right hand.
I told Karl my wrist hurt and that I needed to stop more often. We found a pizza place to stop and have lunch and warm up. Karl went about trying to layer up more for the cold, while I sat at the table trying to get the muscles in my hand to loosen up again. It wasn’t working and the pain wasn’t going away. I started trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get the rest of the way to Reno.
I voiced a rough plan to get a Uhaul and haul the bikes to Reno where we could load up in my truck and make it the rest of the way to Portland. Karl tried to convince me it wouldn’t be too bad, that we should keep going. I gritted my teeth and tried to roll up my duffel bag but I couldn’t grip or squeeze with my right hand. Karl was like ‘why didn’t you tell me’ and I was like ‘duh I told you my wrist hurt’ and karl was like ‘hurting and not being able to ride are two different things’ lol or at least that’s the simple version. So we rode over to the Uhaul to try to rent a truck and trailer. The short version is that the Uhaul place in Tonopah is run out of someone’s house …. Which was interesting, and we ended up renting the trailer and Matt agreed to come rescue us from Tonopah with his truck.
Karl and I set ourselves up in Tonopah Brewing Company to wait for Matt. While we were waiting it started to snow… a lot. By the time I noticed and Karl went outside to take pictures there was already 2 inches built up on our bikes. I felt a little less silly about not wanting to continue on on the bikes until Matt got there and let us know that 3-4 miles out of town there was no snow. Lol Thanks Matt. But really thank you for driving all the way down to get us, loading my bike and taking us back to Reno. My wrist hurt like murder for the next 4 days after that short ride from Beatty to Tonopah. I’m a little embarrassed but I do not regret the decision to stop riding. I do regret not making Karl stop when I realized that truck stop was nowhere near the edge of Goldpoint and letting the pain in my wrist get that bad. I should have known better. I think my expectations for my body exceeded what it was ready to do, especially in the cold.
Reno,NV-> Portland, OR Day 10
Thus came another day to make miles. You know the part of the trip where you just done and you want to be in your own bed, where it’s warm. You don’t want your shoulders to hurt anymore. You just want things to work like they’re supposed to so you can make miles. That was me. I normally hit this point a day or so before I’m supposed to get home, I could be gone 3 days or two weeks I still get this feeling a day or so before I’m supposed to get home.
We unloaded my bike from Matt’s Truck and loaded it into mine, hooked up the trailer to my truck, made a quick stop to get a converter for the lights and we were off. We took the “long way” because we couldn’t go more than 55 with the trailer and Bubba was not doing great. So we opted for the route that would have the least amount of assholes trying to tailgate me and my sick truck.
My favorite thing that happened this day? Stopping on the side of road at the bottom between two hills and making our dehydrated lunches on the side of the road. Pretty much the high point of the day, grateful to have had Karl to take my mind off of my limping truck and how the hell I’m going to find a job when I got back to real life.
We made it through Northern Nevada, cut off the tip of California and diagonal from Central Oregon back to Portland. We got home at like 2am and Karl rode home from my house in the rain. Hey! I offered to let him sleep on the couch lol He probably was in a hurry to sleep in his own bed too. :P
Alright, back to “real life”