Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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1911
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Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

First, the disclaimer:

Warning: amateur swill ahead

Travel accounts from professional journalists, specifically professional moto-journalists don’t inspire me. They interest me, make me wish I could do likewise, but they don’t inspire me. Congratulations to those that have combined the work, education and talent to make a living as a writer, rider, explorer, photographer. Your stuff will be, and should be better than my friends and mine. But, following adventures of people on bikes on loan from a manufacturer, in gear under review, on a magazine’s per diem, and on time that is or will be paid for doesn’t inspire me. It’s the amateur stuff that inspires me. Show me that special trip on a not so new machine, that you planned, prepared for, and executed all while being a productive member of society in a separate career, and that will make me wish I could do likewise AND make me think I CAN do likewise. That’s inspiration. Where do I find the kind of amateur swill that makes me want to get out and go? Places like FJRiders, of course.

Now let’s get started

We took our first big motorcycle trip in 2017, to Tyler’s YFO. Enjoyed that so much we did Ray’s Reuben Run in 2018. We laid low in 2019 and missed the adventure something awful, so in 2020 we set our sights on John’s Red Lodge Rendezvous. Covid scuttled that.
All three big trips had some southern Utah in the plan but, snow hung around, stuff broke, viruses spread, plans changed and we have seen none of southern Utah.

So we decided to go for a ride in 2021. No “official” rallies lined up with my vacation schedule so we could start planning with a clean slate. Our route/plan for 2020 Red Lodge was a good one though. What the heck, let’s do Red Lodge 2020 better late than never. Maybe we can do something about those white states in the process.

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As far as planning goes, I live on the over prepping side of the spectrum. Reservations made far in advance for nearly every night of the trip. It’s not work. It’s more like another hobby. Motorcycle touring leads to collateral pursuits. M/C repair, camping, photography, writing. If the trick is to dabble in all and master none, I’m on it. There’s no TV series that I will likely ever binge. The TV may be on in the background but my focus will be toggling Basecamp and Google Earth. Part of my plan includes the likelihood that a couple campsite reservation fees will be wasted when plans change. If I was travelling with the guys or solo I might not be as picky about where I spent the night.

Mrs1911 takes a simpler approach. Ask The Creator’s grace and protection each morning, give thanks each evening.
Her plan can be the only way to explain how this trip got past day 1.

After the slightly unnerving 2018 wheel bearing seizure on the Bushtec in Winnemucca I made it a habit to lift each side of the trailer and check for wheel bearing play at each stop. Also, this trip started with fresh bearings and tires and a hand full of spares.

Lunch break Sunday, day 1, finds us alongside The Ocoee River just past the site of the Atlanta Summer Olympic Whitewater event venue, about 200 miles into a three week trip. After we eat, almost as an afterthought this early in the game, I lift the left side of the trailer, wiggle the wheel and the whole damn thing comes off the axle. Both bearings have disintegrated and spun the nut off the axle. The road along the Ocoee is curvy and fun, but the pavement is a little rough in places. With the FJR two up and bags loaded the trailer doesn’t hamper acceleration or handling as much as you might think. Stopping distance it does. Riding the river has been fun. I may have felt a little vibration from the back end, but I thought it was just some rough road. Maralee’s plan is all I can credit for not losing a wheel at a very bad time. We discuss omens and bailing on the trip, but press on.

A little after passing through Hiawassee GA it is time to fill up. Station after station is out of gas. We take several detours with no luck. Finally there is a place near Murphy, with a trooper parked out front and a 10 gallon limit, that has fuel. We discuss omens and bailing again. We have enough fuel to get us out of the Colonial Pipeline serviced area and decide to……..press on. I’ll save my favorite Josey Wales reference for later.

TN 30-WOW!

One pic taken on day one route, Ocoee River lunch stop.

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Monday morning day 2. Kenlake SP, near Land Between the Lakes KY. Nice spot as long as you don’t want to sleep in. The water carries the noise from the road quite well. Harley pipes and dump trucks rattling over the bridge. We’re not sleeping in anyway and we’ll do much, much better later.

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While Maralee fixes breakfast I fix wheel bearings. The bearing issue could be its own thread. I call Bushtec and have more bearings and spacers shipped to our planned campsite a couple days down the road.

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More to come
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by LKLD »

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

LKLD wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:01 pm Image
I'm guessing, based on 1911's 1st entry, that yer gonna need a bigger bag boat.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

1911 wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:51 am Image
I see lots of things in this photo mosaic. Is the category, "assembly of items I can hurt myself with if I get really frustrated...for $500, Alex?"
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by goodman4 »

I feel like Larry and Curly arrived... I'm anxiously waiting for Moe!

Subscribed...
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

wheatonFJR wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 3:12 pm
1911 wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:51 am Image
I see lots of things in this photo mosaic. Is the category, "assembly of items I can hurt myself with if I get really frustrated...for $500, Alex?"
Question is “hammer”. Answer is “what is the one thing here that can fix any problem?”
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Day two is for crossing Missouri. It goes smoother than day one but there are still a few ups and downs.

Up-we get to witness this standoff as we cross big rivers at Cairo.

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Down-when I lower the windshield and tell Maralee to duck she goes full buzkill. Maybe that is her super power. No Griswold in her at all. I couldn’t believe that the F150 thought they had a chance. The driver backed straight up a little but then over to one side and stopped. There was obviously not enough room for the sprayer to pass. The truck doors open and I think we are about to be entertained. Then the girl driving and the guy on the passenger side trade places and he backs the pickup all the way down the bridge.

Up-It sprinkles on us a little as we look around at The Fort Jefferson Memorial Cross at the Confluence, but not enough to don the raingear.

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Down-I forget to photograph the dash as my bike turns 100K in eastern MO.

Up-We get west of Branson with zero interstate and without going through Branson. There are some pretty good thunderstorms in the area but we detour around them and enjoy some fine, roller coaster weightless moment style hills and curves on some alphabet roads in southwest MO on our way to Roaring River State Park. I love my GPS!

Down-signal choice!

A couple weeks prior to our trip RRSP had made the national news when it about got washed away. There were still signs of damage but the park was up and running. We’ve got our tent up and dinner started when we here the siren. When I was a 4th grader in California this siren was an air raid drill. In upstate SC this siren means something has gone wrong and Oconee Nuclear Station. Or maybe tornado. Keep in mind we have just dodged some t-storms, we can look around and see damage from the last storms and we are squarely in tornado alley. The couple camping next to us notices how much we notice the siren. They tell us not to worry, it is just the “stop fishing” signal. They are better folk than me. I’d have let the out-of-towners sweat it out a little, maybe had a little fun with them first.

Up-roaring river white noise great for sleeping.

Down-now is when I start using a lot of short video clips to illustrate. If you don’t like video, you might like the rest of this ride report.

There is a massive spring and a trout hatchery upstream from the campground, so we went upriver to study the circle of life.

Imagine how beautiful this was before it got industrialized



People feeding fish



Fish feeding people

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It does get better as we get wester
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by Hppants »

Shoot - it's just fine for me as it is. This is my kind of ride report. Tell me where you went. But moreover, tell me how the ride made you FEEL.

Definitely subscribed.

That trailer bearing issue is more than concerning. If you have to bring multiple sets of bearings just to make is home, something's gotta change.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by Factor »

I've heard on multiple forums about those shaky Bushtec bearings. Just too narrow a wheel to handle the forces it seems. I've dragged a home build trailer around the country after my Dad dragged it around (about 30 years of service - I kid you not). It's got those short squaty tires you see on very small utility trailers. It's never had any bearing issues during a trip but has needed new tires in the middle of trips -which can be purchased for $40 a pop from any Walmart in the country (premounted on new rims). Super handy.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by raYzerman »

I know little to nothing about Bushtec's issues with bearings, but did someone have a solution, like converting to a better type, re-lubing them with Moly when new, or ?? Given the number of issues, one would think they would improve the design........
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by Factor »

BMW is still selling rear ends....
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by NTXFJR »

Nothing wrong with the bearings other than ball bearings do not like side loads. I think it was Ray that mentioned having bearing issues with the apparently slightly too short Bushtec bearing spacers, so he made is own slightly longer spacers, and voila no more issues.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by fjray »

The quality of the bearings you buy has a bit to do with it. If you buy the cheap ones at 2.00 bucks each then you get what you pay for. When I buy them, I go to a bearing house and specify quality American or European bearings. Using good bearings and proper length spacers I haven't changed bearings is some time. I always check them before a run and carry spares cause they can be changed quickly. I also carry a spare wheel and tire.
At one time I thought about going to tapered Timken bearings but I would be a fair amount of machine work and now that I'm a solo rider the Bushtec could very well be headed to a new home.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Day 3 of 22. Time to cover some ground and see some new stuff. We’ve got a campsite reserved at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, a little southeast of Amarillo TX, and we are looking forward to or first ride into Texas.

Pleasant backroads take us out of southwest Missouri. We do a little bit of city driving crossing Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, then we enjoy cruising through the Osage Hills in eastern Oklahoma, before settling in for a little droning. Can’t describe it any better than Steve Earl: “there’s a highway, in Oklahoma, straighter than a preacher, longer than a memory”. Don’t mind it though. What we are looking at now ain’t nothing like home. We’ll be riding through the afternoon storms today. Not enough road choices to dodge them out here. They aren’t real bad, but it does get our attention when we pass a dolled up little SUV that is apparently the official stormchaser car for News Channel X.

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At a gas stop with cell service I check the phone and we have a missed call and a voicemail from Texas State Parks. The gist of the message is “we’ll refund all your money if you stay away”. I return the call and the nice lady at Palo Duro says they’ve had 5 inches of rain in the last three days. More expected tonight, with large hail. She says our site is not under water but that a lot of the trails and facilities are closed. Answering questions about our camping equipment, motorcycle with tent, causes her to strongly suggest we take them up on their refund offer. We point the FJR toward an alternate, Black Mesa State Park in the westernmost corner of that little skinny part of OK. A little later we look at the radar and backtrack to Woodward to find a room.

The first motel is too “sketchy” looking for Mrs1911. The second one is full. Hmm, this is no tourist town. The third is just right. The clerk recommends a good Mexican Diner.

The motel lot is full of trucks. Work trucks, welding and plumbing and such. I find myself in conversation with a fellow who has a bed full of climbing harnesses. Windmills? I ask. Nope, cell towers. He says he is working on a 550 footer nearby. Travels the country working on cell towers. He says most of the climbing on the windmills is done inside, and the thrill just isn’t there. I recall a campground in Wyoming from an earlier trip. A lot of nice trailers pulled by work trucks, and the trucks left the campground quite early. I recognized what was going on from skilled labor friends that live by the per diem. They would come out ahead by staying in a camper and pocketing the difference between camping and cooking their own meals and staying in hotels and eating out. Windmills, oil rigs, pipelines. DAMN! IT IS GOOD to see America at work.

Well, only three days in and we have switched from tent to motel, but at least we haven’t burned a reservation fee.

Day four

Forsake Texas, finish off Oklahoma.

We’ll start out in drizzle and break through to sun as we climb the Mesas leaving OK. Beautiful. In New Mexico we cross the Santa Fe Trail and pass by Capulin Volcano.

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We run a short stretch of slab up to Walsenburg CO where we get a burger and then point the bike toward the Spanish Peaks. MOUNTAINS! I’m loving it.

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There is a little bit of rain gear versus jacket liner comedy in Alamosa but the drop down to Pagosa Springs is just as spectacular as I remember it from 2017.

Camp for tonight is a little south of Pagosa Springs, alongside the Rio Blanco River. Waiting for us at check-in is a package from Bushtec. Waiting for us at our tent site is a duck named A—hole.

The Last Resort CG has a few quirks but I’d stay there again in a heartbeat. Man, I like campgrounds with owners on site.
The sunset hits that triangle rock face just right.

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Sunrise is kind of nice too.

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At home the kids are complaining about the heat, but I’m not rubbing their faces in the mountain weather at all.

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Would have had a great nights sleep too, but for the duck. You would have thought a bobcat or coyote or Fudd was after him half the night. Each time I catch him floating with his bill tucked under his wing snoozing in the warm morning sun I toss a rock or two and a “wake up A—hole!” at him.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by Niehart »

Thanks for taking us along with you. I know how much work it takes for ride reports. Again, thanks!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by escapefjrtist »

Echoing Niehart, thanks for sharing the adventure with us!

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by extrememarine »

Great read so far, can't wait to hear about the frozen tundra of northern Michigan...

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

My popcorn is getting stale. Sure, working in the high heat and humidity all day saps the strength away….but think of your poor FJR friends wasting away in air conditioning with nothing to look forward to except another entry into the Chronicles of 1911!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by BikerGeek »

1911 wrote: Wed Jun 23, 2021 2:18 am The first motel is too “sketchy” looking for Mrs1911.
For the best sketchy motel story, read this post: https://fjriders.com/forums/viewtopic.p ... 296#p89296

Enjoying the pictures and the write-up!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

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If that image doesn't make you want to go motorcycle camping, then you aren't breathing.

Yeah, I've got broken bones and other reasons for not doing it. But that photo alone makes me want to give it another wack.

Again, awesome photo Mr. 1911. Show us how it's done Josey.
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