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  • My Solo MABDR Trip

    Well folks, if you read my previous post about Meach and Ripshods influence, then you know I’ve ventured into Adventure riding. So, if you don’t care for this style you may want to skip this post. For the others, this is a recap of my recent trip.

    Since the purchase of my V-Strom in June, I have logged a little over 7K miles most of which are in the Western NC and North Ga mountains as well as hitting many of the surrounding forest roads. Yes, I can’t believe it either and nor can Tammie if you know what I mean. Becoming more passionate and enjoying the style, I decided to try riding the MABDR (www.ridebdr.com). With that, I planned my shakedown ride for the Smokey Mountain 500. On this pre-ride I would pack as though I was doing the MABDR with gear and food for 9 days. While the SM500 only consisted of 3 days and 2 nights, it proved to be helpful and to get my mind right. I cut my rear tire right out of the gate so I “enjoyed” the experience of removing and patching a tire on the trail. My temporary patch allowed me to get out and to a shop where I was able to replace it and get back on the trail. Tires and mechanical problems are my greatest concern for the MABDR but with adventure comes adventure. Back out on the SM500 I enjoyed three days of riding with no additional issues.

    Taking my learnings of what I needed and what I could leave behind, I set my plan in motion to occur a few weeks later. So here we go and sorry for if it’s too lengthy.

    Day Zero:
    Not knowing what condition my condition would be at the end of this, I decided to trailer my bike to my cabin in Hendersonville NC and leave out from there.
    Attached Files
    Jim & Tammie (not the Bakers)
    2011 FLHTK & Lees-ure Lite
    2012 Vstrom & 2012 Frankenstrom, 2017 DRZ400
    YouTube Channel: WolfPackOne

  • #2
    Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

    Day 1:
    Hendersonville NC to Bedford PA 521 Miles.
    Left my cabin at 4am and took the interstate to Kingsport TN as it was dark. First stop was at Waffle House to bulk up for the day since my rides typically do not include a lunch stop. Back on the road and now that the sun is rising, I realized I forgot my reader sunglasses which I desperately need to see my turn by turns. Stopped at Lowes as they are good for reader safety glasses. Traveling tip, know what else Lowes is good for? Clean restrooms. After picking up my glasses and dropping off my breakfast I’m officially on my trip route. Beautiful sunny and mid-70’s all day. Zig zagged along GW & Jefferson National Park primarily on US-19, US-219, US-460 and US-220. US-220 was the road of the day, beautiful scenery, no traffic but pelted with falling leaves. Following the VA & WV mountains filled me with anticipation that somewhere up in that ridgeline would be my return route. Also filled with anxiety of what potential mechanical issues I may encounter. Put those thoughts outta’ my mind and forged ahead enjoying my freedom. Long day in the saddle but very enjoyable and releasing work headaches. Passed through Warm Springs then camped at Shawnee State Park CG. $35, clean bath house and quiet. Dined on cheese crackers and cheese tortellini. Not gonna’ be looking for a Lowes tomorrow!


    Day 2
    Bedford PA to Lawrenceville PA then on Section 9 MABDR to Cedar Run PA 272 miles.
    Light dew on the tent as I arose but not to worry, it’s frosted and shakes right off. Brr, 34 degrees. Where are the 70’s from yesterday? Pack up bundle up and rolling at 7am. Two miles out I see a yellow instrument light flashing. Great, day two and a mechanical problem already. Whose idea again was it to buy a V-Strom? Get out the manual because I’ve never seen this light. Ah ha, it’s the cold weather warning light. Thank goodness this is just what I need, an idiot light flashing for hours reminding me that it’s cold today. Onward continuing on US-220 then US-15. Four lanes but what a view, just wish I was on the east side of the mountains for some of the rising sun warmth. Hit Lawrenceville PA about noon and decide to go ahead and start with the MABDR adventure. But wait a minute, the GPX files I loaded on my Zumo are not “tracking”. I see them but they don’t track as I move. Now let me take a pause here to explain. I’ve never used GPX tracks before so some of you may be rolling your eyes at my lack of technical savviness (I can’t even pair my Sena with my Zumo or post properly oriented pictures). This is gonna be a long trip manually moving the tracks every five minutes while I cross reference my turn by turns but onward ho I go. Section 9 is easy going on hard packed dirt and gravel. Easy peasy running 35-40 MPH. Only real obstacle is that one of the forest road bridges is out being rebuilt. Dang it, I forgot to check the BDR web site for road closure and detour routes. Well it’s Saturday and no work crew on site so yeh, I forged across it. A tad sketchy and prolly not my smartest move but I did make it. Albeit muddy and sweaty with a pounding chest. How un-cool would it be to fall over in this? Now I’m feeling cocky and moving on. Stopped at Pine Creek Gorge the Grand Canyon of PA in Colton State Park. Wow, what a view. Onward to Cedar Run with many, and I mean many deer sightings. Lots of doe with their fawns nibbling on and alongside the trail. Camped at Petticoat Junction CG, small private owned and very hospitable place. Owner rode around in a golf cart in the evening checking on and chatting with the campers. $30 plus quarter showers and clean bath house. Big fire, cold scotch then pork patty with mashed potatoes. Breezy and overcast skies brought the temps back up to mid-50’s through the evening.

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    Jim & Tammie (not the Bakers)
    2011 FLHTK & Lees-ure Lite
    2012 Vstrom & 2012 Frankenstrom, 2017 DRZ400
    YouTube Channel: WolfPackOne

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

      Day 3
      Cedar Run PA to Greenwood Furnace State Forest PA 196 miles.
      Woke up to warmer temps but getting that dreaded feeling of rain in my future. Fiddling with my Zumo the realization of my technical ignorance hits me like a two inch fly to the face. The GPX tracks are in fact showing on my route they are just the same color as my route roads thus I don’t recognize them. Changed their color and whammo works like it was designed. Rolling at 7:30am and yep, drizzle all day, all day, all day. Rain gear really did its job, I’m dry from the rain but now its warmed up and I’m sweating. Locals I came across said tough riding in the rain but “we ain’t seen rain in 3 months”. Today would include section 8 and half of section 7. Section 8 has a few “expert” by-passes through elevated rocky trails. These sections slowed my pace and gave me pause. While they aren’t really hard, the rocks are jagged and I began to have flashbacks from my shakedown ride and worry about tire issues. Section 8 also takes you on hard packed gravel forest roads through many PA state game lands across Stone Mt, Kishacoquilla Valley and Jacks Mt into McVeytown PA. Section 7 is very similar in trail conditions but does not have the heavy rock areas. But wait, going through Poe Paddy SP (beautiful primitive CG) the trail is just as rocky with more of the tire torture jagged rocks. Not sure I can do another 800 miles of this. However, when not on the trail, I am very much enjoying the paved country roads and the scenery is outstanding including driving by the original Woolrich company. Set up camp in the rain along the trail in Greenwood Furnace SP. Dinner of beef stew and in sleeping bag at dark.

      Day 4
      Greenwood Furnace SP to Harpers Ferry WV 255 miles.
      Heavy rain all night and during morning pack up. Saddle up at 7am. Long day. Aggravating day. Wet day. Muddy day. Trail is slick as southern snot. Lots more deer sightings. When off the trail, the paved roads continue to be enjoyable, twisty and through beautiful Amish farmland. More locals commenting on how much they needed this rain. Yeh, OK for them I guess. Finished Section 7 across Conacocheague Mt, Rising Mt, Beavertown Ridge and into Mt. Holly Springs PA. All of section 6 through more PA Game land roads, New Germantown and Tuscarora SP. Part of section 5 through Southern & Piney Mts, Caledonia SP, Michaux SP then crisscrossing the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers into Harpers Ferry. Original plan was to camp on the trail in Michaux State Forest but with my second day of wet muddy riding, I decided to move on to Harpers Ferry and find a CG where I could dry out and shower. So embrace the suck I did and pressed on. Wet, tired and losing my enthusiasm, I opted for the first CG I came to which was a KOA. I hate KOA. They clearly don’t cater to tents as I’ve never been at a KOA with grassy areas other than for the four legged relief areas. Yep, as expected $42 bucks for a non-level rocky dirt patch. As I begin to unpack I see the cabins. Heck, Ima’ splurge tonight, dry out, sit by a fire and get a good night sleep. $44 more and I’m in a nice cabin with a porch to hang my tent and gear to dry. Trudge back through the rain to get fire wood. Nope, they’re under a burn ban due to, you guessed it, three months without rain. Ravioli dinner and sittin’ time on the porch.


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      Jim & Tammie (not the Bakers)
      2011 FLHTK & Lees-ure Lite
      2012 Vstrom & 2012 Frankenstrom, 2017 DRZ400
      YouTube Channel: WolfPackOne

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

        Day 5
        Harpers Ferry WV to Little Orleans MD 208 miles.
        Glad I invested in the cabin as I slept straight through to 7:30am. Slow to pack since it’s still raining but everything is dry except my Kelty tarp. 9am and ready to roll but my USB on the bike is not working. Bypassed the switch and straight lined it to the battery all while a CG worker is telling me how he would do it and if I knew they ain’t had rain in three months. On the road finishing section 5 the rain finally stopped and temps in the mid-60’s. With weather coming around and nice rolling paved roads ahead I’m off to Antietam National Battlefield. Wow, what hallowed ground and thoughts of what those soldiers endured. Makes me feel guilty about a little rain. Back on the route starting section 4 with no off road sections today. 115 miles into my planned 147, I realized a navigational hiccup. On section 5 there is a short cut to section 4 bypassing Harpers Ferry. Well I ended up taking this back midway into section 5. Actually it was an enjoyable paved route in the dry so no real harm. Fast tracked back to my wrong turn and continued on to Little Orleans MD where I camped off the trail near the Potomac midway through section 4. Today really revived me with dry weather in the 60’s and lots of paved scenic roads. Dinner of Chicken in cream sauce, bread sticks and a cheap mini carton red wine.

        Day 6
        Little Orleans MD to somewhere in George Washington & Jefferson National Forest 215 miles.
        Up early and on the trail by 6am since I’m pretty sure last night wasn’t an allowable camp area. As the sun came up I was feeling pretty good about the day. Morning ride finished section 4 with nice weather through paved twisties I stopped to view one the C&O Canal Locks as well as crossed the Oldtown Toll Bridge. Toll Operator sticks a tin cup out to collect the 50 cents. Temps spiked at 69 degrees as I started section 3 and hit the GWJ NF in the Shenandoah Mountains. The road leading into GWJ NF led me through a cow pasture. Literally. Through an open gate and across a cattle grid into a pasture. As I proceed, I’m listening for the expected crack of an angry cattle farmers rifle. The forest road is packed dirt but slimmey from the rain no one had “seen for three months”. Very slimmey. Several close calls to dumping the bike. Rear end is fishtailing bad coming out of the hairpin turns. 6-7 creek crossing are no real problem with the low water levels. Now that I see how little water there is in these creeks, I’m thinking my previous complaints about the rain may have been over stated. The forest is wonderful, the weather is perfect but between slimmey dirt and sharp rocks, I’m really feeling the burn this afternoon. Starting to think I’ll get off the trail and find a burger and beer joint. However, continuing through the forest I start hearing an odd sound in 1st and 2nd gears. Multiple stops to check but cannot determine the source. Perhaps the chain and sprocket but they appear fine. It’s getting late and this section of the GWJ there just isn’t enough room off the trail to pitch a tent so I press on. But section 3 is beating me and close to winning. Too many rocks, too much mud and too much on my tired old body. Clackety clack sound continues and up ahead there is a small pull off area so I stop to continue my search for the issue. Ah ha. Part of the panier frame has broken and rattling. Whew, not mechanical so I unpack the bike to get to my tool kit. Now I know what you are thinking, yeh right he dropped that bike and broke it. No really, the weight of gear combined with jolting ride has compromised the factory weld. As I get to work rigging a repair I figure, oh well might as well have a scotch while I work, I’ve certainly earned one today. One hour and three scotches later I have the frame jerry rigged and holding together…hey maybe this really is a nice spot to camp. Dinner of Chicken ala King and no more scotch. Off to bed.


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        Jim & Tammie (not the Bakers)
        2011 FLHTK & Lees-ure Lite
        2012 Vstrom & 2012 Frankenstrom, 2017 DRZ400
        YouTube Channel: WolfPackOne

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

          Day 7
          Midway through GWJ to Damascus Va. 310 miles.
          Plan for today is finish section 3 and complete section 2 since it was a short 79 miles. The reminder of section 3 through GWJ is much of the same but I am refreshed and feeling pretty good about my repair work. End of section 3 and my MacGyver job is holding well. Section 2 may be my favorite. Maybe because of the sunny 70’s, maybe because my satellite radio is in all day, maybe because of the killer curvy paved roads. Continuing in Jefferson NF and riding the Blue Ridge Mts there are two off road sections which are smooth going and enjoyable. There is a single track called Tub Run which was fun. Crossing WV into VA and leaving JNF you pass by Mountain Lake Lodge (filming of Dirty Dancing) and coast down VA-700 to finish section 2. It’s 1pm so I decide to do half of section 1 then finish and head home the following day. This section was a combination of off road and fast paced paved. But at the halfway mark I see way too many posted and no trespassing signs to camp. I forged on and with no viable spots I decide to go all the way to Damascus. 10 miles from Damascus it’s getting dark and the route takes me off road again. The trail leads right through a rock formation then onto US-91. I take US-58 toward Beer Tree where I recalled some spots just off of the road. Set up near some AP Trail Hikers and dine on Southwest Beans and Rice, my last carton of red wine and my only cigar for a celebratory adventure ending smoke. I made it through the MABDR!

          Day 8
          Damascus to Home 342 miles.
          Up and packed by 7am, I’m ready to get home. Give my remaining food to the AP Hikers and roll out to rally with my truck & trailer and head home.

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          Closing thoughts: Back at home I am very pleased to say that but for the panier frame, USB outlet and a ton of mud, my “initial” inspection only shows a loose chain and some cut tires. Not once did I go down and not once did I ever consider tapping out. I do need to up my mechanical acumen and while I know I’m limited to the tools and parts I carry, I should at least have more knowledge so I can self-diagnose for a better recovery plan. In my opinion, this route cannot be done without the GPX tracks as many roads do not have signage. I am glad I made the trip and while I enjoyed the off road aspect, I believe this one provided too much for me. I feel this route and non-off roaders would benefit from an all paved route detour option. Lastly, if you ain’t seen rain in three months, PM me and I’ll ride through to relive you.
          Jim & Tammie (not the Bakers)
          2011 FLHTK & Lees-ure Lite
          2012 Vstrom & 2012 Frankenstrom, 2017 DRZ400
          YouTube Channel: WolfPackOne

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

            thanks for sharing very nice ride......have a blast...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

              Nice report. Thanks for sharing
              Deb
              sigpic
              2008 Honda Gold Wing Trike - Champion Kit, 2011 Lees-ure Lite Excel, Harbor Freight Tag-A-Long

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

                Great ride report. I love your determination. I think that the things you believe you need to improve on are mostly gained through experience. Trips like that are the best kind of experience. It's a steep learning curve but you handled it very well. My only suggestion would be to have a higher scenery to self portrait ratio.��

                Richard

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

                  Great trip report, glad to hear you are enjoying the V-Strom! It’s amazing where they will go if you are willing to take your time!
                  Steve

                  2017 Suzuki DL650A V-Strom 2005 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom, 2002 Harley Road King Classic, 1976 Harley Sportster

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

                    Great write up and pictures
                    Rick B
                    NE Oregon
                    Freedom Cruisers Riding Club
                    Patriot Guard Riderssigpic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: My Solo MABDR Trip

                      Thanks for posting your trip.
                      GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
                      GL1800 & XR650L Hers
                      IBA #66870
                      sigpic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hey Jim!!!
                        I just now found this ride report of yours. It was a enjoyable read with great pics!!. Loved the personal perspective comments of yours about the ride and how you "Jimmy" rigged your broken saddle bag mount. That was a stellar fix!! And FYI, they hadn't seen rain for purt-neer 3 months along the MABDR!!! LOL

                        BTW, I started the MABDR at Damascus a couple of years ago with two friends of mine. I was riding my ol' KLR. The KLR was running great but, I had over-estimated the condition of my chain and sprockets before I left home. After the first day on the trail heading north, the rainy conditions combined with rocks, mud and sand were taking a toll on the chain. At the end of the second day I decided to throw in the proverbial towel and head back to Damascus where I had left the truck and trailer. My chain and sprockets would not have made the entire length of the MABDR. One day I hope to try the MABDR again.
                        Roger
                        sigpic
                        1986 Concours/1999 KLR650/2006 KLX250S

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Roger,
                          Good seeing you this weekend. Yeh, you should give it another try. Now with two years riding Adv style I'm ready to try one of the West Coast BDR's.
                          Hey if you hurry you might be able to catch Meach. He left the Chill Out to run the MABDR......


                          Jim & Tammie (not the Bakers)
                          2011 FLHTK & Lees-ure Lite
                          2012 Vstrom & 2012 Frankenstrom, 2017 DRZ400
                          YouTube Channel: WolfPackOne

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just found this thread also. A friend and I just rode from Little Orleans to Damascus, and back to our truck just last month. We're planning to go from Little Orleans to NY and back starting on the 24th. Beau coup fun. Thanks for your post.

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