XT660R Heaven

XT660R Heaven
Life on the road is fab...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

TAT Trail Update 2015

As I was looking at TAT trail posts on Facebook today, I came across this little blog from a guy riding the trail this year...

So here is a link to keep you all upto date:

TAT Trail 2015

Facebook TAT Trail

Sign in a cafe on the TAT!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Final TAT Trip Post

Well, we're back at home now & have totally got back into our lives... more's the shame...

The XT's got back to the UK OK, Geoff went down to Portsmouth to collect them about two weeks ago, I picked mine up from him last weekend & dropped off the final paperwork that we needed to send back to the US Customs. The shipping company, Kingstown Shipping, charged us £500 only for each bike & it took about 6 weeks, cheaper than the original outgoing shipping fees & with a lot less hassle/costs at the port to collect them!! Remind me to think again about shipping into Baltimore next time!!

So when I arrived at Geoff's, there was a table full of his bikes engine bits in his garage, all laid out  ready to rebuild...

It turns out the cam chain & it's tensioner had failed, the chain was a rigid ring of metal, which had scored the inside of the casing with plenty of deep grooves as it had jumped it's way around the cogs. Geoff had got the replacement parts there already & was looking to rebuild the bike that day.

I collected my bike, which despite a jet spray from Geoff was still looking a bit sorry for itself, sand seemed to be everywhere, now mingled with sea salt & the bits of scratched &/or broken fairings just made it look a proper tatty wreck.

I got my bike home & gave it another jet spray with some good old mountain bike cleaner, (that stuff is expensive but ace for cleaning grubby bikes!), it looked a bit better straight away, but as I checked it over before taking it out for a quick spin to change the fuel etc, I found the rear brake light was blown, the battery was a bit flat & tyres were pretty soft, so I sorted this all out, (there was a load of sand in the light fitting which was why it had shorted & blown the bulb!!). Then went out for a longish ride to get the engine hot & put in some fresh fuel. The bike ran pretty well, the little ride brought back loads of memories of the trip & I was even tempted to get it off road onto some of the local trails near me, but work called & I ended up commuting to a hotel for the night to get ready for the following day.

Once back at home, it's time to get the new fairings fitted, once I've stripped the whole bike down & scrubbed everything to get rid if the sand & sea salt, the TKC tyres that I had in the garage will go back on & the bike will be used as a road bike for awhile before I sell it to buy the KTM 690 Enduro R I have my eye on for our next trip.

Matt has already bought a 640 & has been out playing, so we'll have a body of information to chat about at some point, plus there are loads of parts out there for them... check out my page on our new blog for more info...

Coming up next will be an overland trip to Australia, dates & route yet to be determined but as a sample have a look at a couple of these vids on YouTube to whet your appetite...

MADTV - London to Oz
Some guys wreck several bikes going to the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan

In the meantime if your interested in other biking adventures from us, have a look at:

The Turtle & the Chicken Go Riding blog...

Have fun all & stay safe out there!!!


Monday, 28 July 2014

Back to the UK

Well we've been back home for a few days now, caught up on sleep, had a gossip with loads of friends & ate plenty of cake at the local cafe whilst sat in the sun, excellent.

I've been playing on the DR350 I bought before I went away, just done a load of servicing, oil change, air filter, stripped the carb & cleaned out all the dirty bits, it needs new tyres & chain & sprockets next, all on order & the rear linkage needs either new bushes & some grease or just new grease as it creaks more than I do in the mornings!!

Then its time to get out onto the dirt with it & see how it goes there. It is a pokey little thing though & so light after the XT!!

Suzuki DR350 SEW 1998
My lass, Lucy has also bought a little bike whilst I was away to get more time riding so she can pass her full UK bike test, she has a Honda XR125 2005, it's so quiet & easy to ride, although it actually feels heavier than the DR for some reason, especially on the front end...

So the two bikes went to the seaside to watch the sun go down, all very nice & cozy...

Now it's get back into the routine of life back at home, catch up with family & friends & get out on both of my bikes as much as possible, especially as the sun is shining in the UK at the moment.

Have fun all...

Monday, 21 July 2014

California - Thunderstorms, Lakes & Gold Country

We've covered well over 1000 miles in this hire car since we picked it up. When we left Lee Vining, we headed north up the 395 heading to Lake Tahoe, meeting up with a couple of guys who were riding sports bikes, an R1 & a BMW 1000RR, there seems to be way more sports bikes  here in California than anywhere else we've been. anyhoo they recommended we go to Truckee, a town at the north end of Lake Tahoe, so we did, via the 89 which winds over Monitor Pass, 8300ft +, mmm need a bike when we drive these kind of roads, they are almost purpose built for a decent bike!!

Lake Tahoe is beautiful, the Emerald Bay bit lived upto it's name & the drive up the west side of the lake was fab. 

Truckee was busy though, it's one of the busiest places we've been, so we left, taking the 80 over the Sierra Nevada mountains & aiming to find a campsite somewhere. 

With threatening thunderstorms & full campsites we ended up in Plymouth, a place on the 49, which is part of the Motherlode region, so named because there is a seam of gold & silver that stretches 120 long & was the richest  gold producing area in the US at the height of the gold rush era. The 49 follows this seam & a rake of towns spring up here, some of which spawned legends such as Mark Twain, the frog jumping competition & the name of the San Andreas fault.

We visited several of the towns, the most authentic being Angels Camp, home of the winners plaques for the frogs, they are cemented into the pavement!! We ended up in a lovely motel called the Shenandoah Inn, run by an Indian lass from Bolton, interesting accent she had!!
From here we headed back up into the hills on the 108, another fast bike road, there are loads of campsites here so we stayed at Fraser Flats, a cool place next to a river which seemed to be full of trout as everyone kept pulling them out. For us it was BBQ mushrooms smothered in Philadelphia cheese & New York Steak for tea, we highly recommend that!! :-)

Oh we also got our hair cut & Geoff did his ironing!!!

On the Sunday we drove upto the Sonora Pass, 9600 ft, as we got higher it rained harder but the pass is easily the most spectacular of the road passes we've driven up. It changes from trees to huge granite cliffs with a beautiful creek running through it to the actual pass which is all volcanic ash & lava flows, to make it more atmospheric it had thunder & lightning cracking off above our heads!

Apparent the pass was first opened in the late 1800's & was so expensive to build they put a toll on it. It took 3 weeks to traverse one way with a mule train!

So that's almost us for this trip, we got back to camp to find my tent in a small lake, everything soaking & the rain was still pouring down, so we did what all soft people did, packed up & headed to another motel, cheap & cheerful & where we could pack everything up ready for the flight back to the UK on Tuesday.

It took awhile to clean up the mess from the rain but that's us packed & sorted now, only remains to drop off the hire car & get ourselves to the airport without any mishaps...

Oooh can't wait to get home now to take out the DR 350 I bought just before I left... Mud, mountains & friends to ride with... happy days...

Friday, 18 July 2014

California - Yosemite Road Trip

So here we are, in one of the great climbing mecca's of the world & I have absolutely no climbing kit at all!! How ironic is that?...

Spot the Chicken!!

After we'd eventually picked up the hire car, been fleeced by an indian taxi driver, got lost heading east towards Yosemite, we finally crawled into a KOA campsite in a place called Mariposa on the edge of Yosemite NP. Motels in the area seemed to start at around $150, camping at the KOA was $40! We pitched our tents under a beautiful starry Californian sky, Geoff went to sleep, I found a rocking chair for half an hour & sat looking up into the stars, enjoying the peace & quiet before turning in for the night.

Once we were both up, we headed towards the NP entrance after a quick breakfast stop at the Mariposa shop for coffee & dried up stale breakfast buns, then wound our way upto the park gate, paid our $20 7 day entry fee & drove into a magical wonderland of rock scenery, pine forests & beautiful rivers.

This is a truly beautiful place. I can see why the likes of Ansel Adams devoted so much of his life to photographing this valley, it is nature at it's best & also most powerful in the way all of these rock faces were formed.

We did all the things normal tourists do, we drove round, took loads of pics, had really awful coffee at the Yosemite village cafe, then drove out again, heading to the Hetch Hetchy valley in the hopes of camping there, no chance, all of the camping is reserved for the hikers coming through on the Pacific Crest Trail, but it was another little gem of a place, a great road into the valley for bikes, a historic damned lake that nowadays fed water to San Francisco, a 167 miles away, all of it gravity fed... although at the time there was a major furore about building this & the likes of John Muir led the opposition to the necessary destruction this project did to the local ecology.

Fire damage to the nearby hillsides.
From here we returned back down the 120 & headed off to Tuolumne Meadows for a look for a campsite but also to see the area, all the campsites were full by now so we headed over the Tioga Pass & down to Lee Vinings, a small town right on the shore of a massive lake called Mono Lake. The thunderstorm that had been building let rip as we descended & the rain started to wash rocks own onto the road, we were so very glad we were in a car at this point!!

Now its a lazy evening in yet another motel, most likely a beer or two somewhere nearby & see what the morrow brings...

Have fun all.