If you wish to travel far and fast, pack light.

It would be nice to not be forced into packing light though. The Great Basin bag is 60L, my tacti-cool Condor Assault pack is 22L, and I’m also dragging along two 20L dry bags and one 10L dry bag. All said and done, a fair a bit of free volume but it disappears quick when bike equipment has to be squeezed in there too. Spare tubes, full and comprehensive tool kit, and an extra 3L of fuel canisters really put a dent in the Great Basins capacity.

In a later entry I’ll put together a list of the gear I’m taking along, but for now you can rest assured that there is a proverbial shit-tonne of it.

The one thing I would really like to bring along is a hammock or a camp chair but I’ve just run out of space. I think that in the future I’ll need to invest in some small panniers to complement the rest of my luggage. Looks like I’ll be sitting on the ground like a peasant this trip..

An overlying problem is that my tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad take up the majority of the space. All of these items were bought with the intent to use while car camping. None are the “space saving models” or lightweight. Replacing these will be a future research and investment project.

I dragged all my baggage down into my parking garage and started loading up. I want to leave tonight. I’m getting excited. This looks awesome.

loaded up

 

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Adventure is just bad planning

Please note that adventure is not NO planning, but rather BAD planning. I can say with reasonable certainty that for the magnitude of this trip I am rather ill prepared compared to my typical caliber of preparedness. Likely due to working as a Mechanical Engineer, I try to plan stuff out as much as possible, remove unknowns, and be prepared for every eventuality.

For a trip like this, where the purpose is not to get from point A to point B but rather enjoy the journey and escape the practice of everyday life, I think a noted lack of planning is an order.

That being said, routes have been roughly laid out, GPS has been charged and maps updated, first aid kit is present, tools and spares have been packed, and perhaps most importantly a Spot Tracker has been borrowed (thanks Dave!) I think this is a crucial piece of equipment on a solo trip such as this.

The maps above are all in roughly 200 km legs. Leg 1 is Langley to Boston Bar, the same trip Kyle and I made two weeks ago. Leg 2 is from Boston Bar to Kamloops. Leg 3 is from Kamloops to 100 Mile House. Leg 4 is from 100 Mile House to Barkerville. Leg 5 is from Barkerville to Prince George.

My Spot Tracker page can be found here if you are interested in whether or not I have been killed yet. Please note, I may still be dead and was unable to send out a notification of my passing, apologies in advance.

Thou shalt leave nothing stock for more than one week

Time to start seriously thinking about how to load stuff for the trip. I have a Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag that I wanted to use on this trip, but the 690 lacked good mounting points and a strong enough rear “sub-frame”. The gas tank on the 690 is actually the tail section of the bike (sub-frame) and is susceptible to damage under excessive loading. Tusk makes some fairly affordable pannier racks that actually tie the tank to the passenger foot peg mounts. I ordered them and set about the install which was actually very straight forward.

The next couple upgrades were electrical. I added a charging point on the handlebars for phones/tablets/GPS. I also added two big 3×2 LED light bars to the front. I’m planning on doing some night riding on this trip and would really like to see the tree that is about to kill me.ktm_light

I really have to hand it to KTM’s electrical department. They pre-wired in two accessory ports behind the headlight, one that is always powered, and one that is powered on ignition. This meant that I didn’t have to hack and splice into my brand new bikes wiring harness to install some super common upgrades. They even used standard spade electrical connectors! Thanks KTM.

This is the start of something great

So before starting out to Prince George, I needed to get the 690 in for its first service at 1,000 km. That meant lots of miles, as quick as possible. One of my partners in crime, Kyle, who has the legendary KTM 640 Adventure was promptly contacted and informed that we were going riding that weekend. We rode from Langley to Harrison Hot Springs, then took a forestry service road (FSR) up along Harrison Lake, through Shovel Creek, Nahatlatch, to Boston Bar. We decided to ride home through the canyon as we were tired and lazy.

In three days, I had already put on 600 km, about 200 km of that off-road.

Meet my new, fiery, orange haired lady friend

Remember how I said I was going to make the sensible choice and pick up the DR-Z400? Well they didn’t have it in orange. Oddly enough the 690 came in orange. (with a bit too much white as well..) Please take note Suzuki, orange bikes are just better.

66 HP, 310 lbs, EFI, ABS. This is an aggressive gentleman’s bike. James Bond would have ridden this bike and been scared of it.

I can honestly say that while sense steered me towards the Suzuki, the shit eating grin I had plastered over my dumb face all the way home after putting the deposit down on the KTM would not have been there if I had bought the Suzuki.

Tough decisions ahead

Upon deciding that a new bike was an inevitable purchase if I wanted to escape before the riding season ended, I discovered that I was faced with a plethora of potential replacement options. New or used? Big bore or little bore? Carburetor or EFI? Touring or enduro? I had to ask myself why I’m replacing my current bike, what made me unhappy with my current bike, what made me happy about my current bike, and how much am I going to spend?

Answers came easily; I’m replacing my current bike because my current bike is a piece of shit. What made me unhappy about my old bike? That it didn’t work. What made me happy about my current bike? It was orange. How much am I going to spend? Anyone who has known me for a while will gladly answer this question for me, not much.

I decided against used because for a change, I would like to treat myself. Why not spend a little more now and save myself the future headaches of a previous owners neglect.

I looked around at my options; KTM 500 EXC, KTM 350 EXC, KTM 690 Enduro R, Honda XR650, Honda CRF250L, Kawasaki KLR650, Kawasaki KLX250S, Yamaha WR250R, Suzuki DR650, Suzuki DR-Z400S, Husqvarna 701 Enduro. So many options..

My favorite part of being on a motorcycle is being a hooligan. Having fun and holding on for dear life is an integral part of this experience so I knew that whatever I got, the smiles per mile were going to be an important factor. Having ridden a bike with a lot of power for almost 10 years, I knew there was no way I would be satisfied on a 250. I also love single track, nasty enduro trails so there was no way I was getting something big and heavy, see you later Japanese 650’s.

That left the KTM’s, the Husky, and little Dr Suzy. The Husky is essentially a KTM 690 with different colors and I prefer orange, so Husky’s gone. Now, I’m fine with the orange blooded, Austrian beasts requiring a little bit more maintanance than their Asian competition, but the 350 and 500 EXC’s first service is after one.. hour.. No thanks, not at their price tag..

So down to the 690 and the 400. They weigh about the same because Suzy is using some slightly outdated (early 2000’s) technology. It’s got a carb, old school non-inverted forks. Body works a bit dated but still functional. However, it’s half the price of the 690. It’s also a 400cc so insurance will be dirt cheap compared to the 690. Its also got the reputation of being the AK47 of dual sports. Beat the snot of it and it’ll come running back for more, a welcome change from my current KTM woes.

Looks like I’m going to be making the sensible, adult choice and bringing the DR-Z400 home.

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!

I’ve done a couple trips in the past few years, both solo and with great friends, but cannot say that myself and the bike I was riding often made it home under our own steam. Fuel system, drive train, and electrical problems riddled my ‘trusty’ steed, an 2002 KTM 520 MXC. I bought the bike used (and abused) midway through high school and then proceeded to give it an equally hard life under my watchful eye.

I had hoped to eke out one more season from the old nag but unfortunately, it had different plans. A clutch failure followed by an idle failure followed by a kick stand failure followed by a second kick stand failure topped off with a complete failure to start prompted me to seriously question the wisdom of heading out into the wild away from the security blanket of cell reception.

So it was decided. A replacement must be acquired.