For My Gearheads
Now for some nitty gritty. Alex and I are both riding the Suzuki DR650 because it is simple, reliable, and strong. The DR is an enduro style bike meant to be capable on or off road. I purchased my ’08 DR with 2,500 miles on it for $3,500 last year in Boise. The bike was basically stock except for an engine guard and some soft luggage. Since then, I have poured many hours of labor into outfitting this toy into an adventure machine (with a lot of help from Alex). A brief list of upgrades:
4.9 gallon gas tank
Raised handle bars
Lowered foot pegs
Front and rear suspension springs
Heated hand grips
Aluminum panniers with steel racks
Pelican rear case with quick release
Shinko dual sport tires with heavy duty tubes
Extended fuel mixture screw
Upgraded air filter and secondary breather
Basically we screwed around with everything but the engine itself to make these bikes fit us better and ride harder. Overall it has been a great success. With the raised bars, lowered pegs, and upgraded saddle my 6’2” frame feels right at home. The stronger springs upgrade was very important now that my panniers are installed because I’m weighing this bike down quite a bit. Fully loaded it still stands tall under my stance and keeps me on my toes. Hand guards, heated grips, and a wind screen make all-day riding much more enjoyable. All of my luggage is secure and lockable and my rear pelican case detaches in an instant with all of my most important belongings inside. The five gallon gas tank gives us a 200+ mile range and basically those two hundred miles can be all dirt uphill.
To protect ourselves from the elements and the dangers of motorcycling I am wearing the Rev’it Cayenne Pro outfit, a pair of Georgia logging boots (shit kickers), two pairs of Rev’it gloves, and a Shoei Hornet helmet. We settled on a very cheap, no frills motorcycle for this trip but went for the big leagues with our gear. My jacket and pants have full armor, a three layer waterproofing insulation system, vents everywhere, and they zip together when I want. Fully lined the outfit is warm to about freezing temperature. Emptied and vented we expect reasonable comfort in 100+ degree weather down South. I have one pair of warm, waterproof gloves and one pair of light, breathable gloves. Between the two my hands will be well protected. My boots are full leather logging style and they will not be getting blown off my feet when I go down. Finally, my helmet is very lightweight and therefore loud as well. It has a visor and windshield and vents very well on hot days. Alex and I have a two-way Bluetooth comm system for road logistics or just bumpin’ tunes. My policy on this trip is very simple in regard to this stuff: all the gear all the time.
Possessions. This is a motorcycle trip but I am packing for a glorified camping overland romp. We plan to camp frequently so a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, trowel, sit pad, and cooking pot are on the list (Alex is bringing a stove). I also plan to do plenty of exploring; throw in a backpack and the ten essentials. Being gone up to a year, I am packing clothing to fit any climate at any season. I have packed very little cotton except for a pair of jeans and a comfy tee shirt. Other than that, I will look like a Seattleite REI-whore yuppie. I’m bringing a pair of light Pumas and also my Chacos. Limited toiletries and a towel wrap up my other-worldly possessions. Of course I have this netbook and an iPod to keep me wired while I’m out there as well.
Spares and tools take up a lot of space but obviously are extremely important. My toolkit includes an assortment of spanner wrenches and sockets, allen wrenches, vice grips, pliers. Screwdrivers, a tire pump, three tire irons, tube repair kit, and a heap of different lubes and welds. I am carrying an extra quart of oil, several oil filters and spark plugs, a rear sprocket and master chain link, various gaskets, two tubes, and some chain wax. Between that and the stock kit I have everything short of the jaws of life.
So far, this is what I’ve got. It’s 29 hours from departure and I feel ready. Tomorrow I will just be tying up some loose ends around the house and battening down some hatches for my absence. Lynn returns home from PLU tomorrow and we are going out as a family to Anthony’s for dinner. And my birthday is on Saturday!