Tag Archives: Kenda

A Good Start

Why, howdy!

After the initial first day clusterfuck start typical of such an undertaking, things have rolled along smoothly. Not that day 1 was terrible, just a too long day ending at a poor camping spot due to the damn sun going down. Actually saw some sweet country and got to ride some sketch Forest Service roads to get the whole thing kicked off.

The rest of week one saw me roll through some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. NE Oregon and eastern Washington are places that have passed me by as destinations to explore up to this point. So glad I chose to run through the area on this trip, it did not disappoint. From the Painted Hills, Ponderosa stands in huge meadows to dense mixed conifer west-side style forest, it was all there. Plus plenty standard desert. Well, except in WA. They seem to have whacked most of the native sage steppe and replaced it with a metric shitton of dry-land wheat. As in as far as the eye can see Kansas cornfield style.

I knew there was some, but not that much. Didn’t take away from the reason I went that way in the first place: Palouse Falls and Dry Falls. Remnants of the Missoula Floods, or if you are into emerging hypotheses, an astroidal impact on the North American and European ice sheets which may have kicked off the Younger Dryas ice age, these features are massive and impressive. Trying to imagine kilometer high walls of water full of huge boulders stripped from the very bedrock and washing over the terrain leaving behind such features as an after effect is truly mind blowing.

Much of the first week was on dirt and gravel USFS and county roads with a few stretches of pavement on little remote ‘highways’ and 25 miles on I-84 to connect it all up. Rolled through a postage stamp sized community called Troy on the OR/WA border deep in the Grande Ronde river canyon then lots of twisty dirt to a sweet camp spot ruined by a good ol’ boy hauling water in a semi all night long in the sticks running his Jake brake. Fucker.

Hit Winthrop, WA where I worked my first season back in fire in 2011 after my massage business collapse with the economy and finding decent work hard to come by. Crowded as hell, but still beautiful and found an old camping site with a creek and good hike far from the masses.

On to Republic WA to spend a day with friends from the USFS in Bend and got in another sweet day swimming to help keep the oppressive heat and road stench from getting bad. So far on this trek I’ve gone swimming more times than in the previous 2 years and it’s all been a hoot. Good to see dear old friends and their kids, share some stories and just hang out.

Returned to my favourite (see what I did there?) country on the planet to visit friends Mike and Dale (and bonus friend Katie who was also visiting) in Revelstoke, one of the most beautiful spots for a town you can imagine. Showed up a day earlier than planned to be able to hit up Skydive Salmon Arm to celebrate the 150th Canada Day by hucking out of a Cessna 182 at 10k feet with buddy Rob strapped to my back. Skydiving is one of those “gonna do” things I’ve always imagined I’d get to. The time came and it was all I could hope for. Going to have to go a few more times to see if it’ll be the next activity to pursue since ice climbing isn’t really a thing in Oregon.

Mike has been at it for a while so he was jumping for fun, the girls had each done a tandem so opted for the First Jump course which has you control your own chute and land yourself. Wanting to do it, but get in freefall, the tandem seemed a good starting place and was soooooo worth it. Canada Day was the best day I’ve had in a long time combining the jump, good food, swimming, a sweet small town fireworks display, and awesome friends to do it all with.


Finished up my time in Revie playing cribbage, spending a day on the Columbia swimming and kicking it, watching Letterkenny (a Canadian show that is one of the funniest things you’ll ever see) and generally enjoying time spent in the company of friends. You may notice a theme with my visits. After a year and a half in Silicon Valley practically friendless, it was time to be among my people and I’m getting my money’s worth on this trek.


Currently I’m in Calgary tapping this out at friends B-Rad and Beckie’s place. Oh, and Neve, Jane and Emma the Wonder Schnauzer.  The run over Roger’s Pass was stunning, but hard to pay attention to as the road was packed with less than skilled drivers. Parks Canada made all federal parks free for the 150th celebration this year so the woods are packed with tourons. Did get to see a smoking semi trailer full of meat that had caught fire and some other nifty stuff, however.


This trip has been a blast and is as I had hoped, plenty new beautiful sights seen and time with well loved friends. Kicking it here to visit folks and get in some local playing before heading out to Yellowknife, NWT the 16th. Plan to post again before, then after, that run. Then east……….

For The Moto Nerds

So, the KLR has taken everything I’ve thrown at it without complaint. Well, excepting running really low on gas yesterday and clogging up my fuel intake. Acted like it was out of gas with a 3/4 tank after filling up so I fussed with the switch and got it to take fuel down the reserve tube, but I’ll have to pull the thing and clean it tomorrow. That was the only hitch, nothing mechanical, just thumping along.

The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag has been good for the most part, but is a little awkward for such a trek. Not a bad item, just difficult to access some of my kit the way it needs to be packed. It’s a small complaint for a great piece of gear as I’ve got my system down well enough. The Fandango Pro Tank Bag is awesome, plenty room and not in the way. The down bag, sleeping pad and other goodies I’m testing out for Next Adventure are doing well and a full review of much of my gear will be forthcoming. Figure it’ll help new folks make better gear choices if they can see how they work in real world moto conditions.

My Kenda 761 tires have been doing well considering they are mostly for road and I’ve beaten the shit out of them off road over the last few months. Nearly dead, there was a small leak in the rear I pump up each day for pavement, was fine for dirt. New tires were ordered ahead of time and sent to B-Rad’s so this weekend I’ll be slinging a new set of Shinko 700s on and doing the oil. Used them before and like ’em, we’ll see how they do on the forestry trunk roads heading north. Should be fine.

So far, mine is the only Gen 1 KLR I’ve seen traveling, plenty around for local use. A few Gen 2, plenty BMWs/Tigers/V-Stroms and a smattering of Africa Twins and KTMs. HDs, lots of HDs, holy Christ.

Feel free to ask questions about route, gear, conditions. If I’m going to be in your neck of the woods and you wanna grab a cup of joe and bullshit, I’m game as well. It’s all about the folks you meet on a trek like this.


Deep bike nerd babble. The contentious Kenda K270 tire.

Unless you are wayyyyy into moto tires, or just like how I rant about shit, this may not be interesting for you. I’ll leave that ball in your court.

So, when I got my KLR this past June the tires were used up and I did what all newbies do when confronted with such a dilemma, read forums and ask questions to find out what to get. Holy shit! Never could I have imagined the world of contention and confusion that the topic Dual Sport tires could present.

Wanting a good 50/50 that would be affordable I went with the Kenda K270, one of the tires most polarized in reviews. “Love it!”, “Those things are unsafe and a hazard at all times!”. Fuck. Whatever, they’re cheap.

Now that I have 5000 miles on the pair in a pretty solid 60/40 dirt-road balance I have come to a solid conclusion.

These things fucking blow harder than a pivot twink at a foam party at Silverado.

To be fair, the rear is actually pretty good off road. Good hook up, does mud and sandy stuff well, bla bla bla. The fun begins when you get a flat spot going in the tread and the funky side knobs become a steep angle pivot on paved surfaces. Makes it looser in the back than above mentioned twink while trying to hit the twisties. Goddamn horrifying.

The front does well on the paved, having a much more rounded profile than the rear, but is a worthless piece of wandering shit off road. At first I was willing to go with the wandering till it “broke in”. All these miles later it looks hardly worn, but despite varied air pressures (down to 16 psi) this fucker has tried to kill me in almost every surface type ridden. Most disconcerting was the recent experience of trucking down some nice hardpack dirt with a few wet spots in it and no matter the line taken around, through or far away from the wetness the goddamn thing wanted to go down.  Having Mt biked for over 20 years I know the front can wander a great deal and have learned how to go with the flow. This is different. This hunk of shit goes from solid to fucked instantly, no middle ground.

To tie this in with Commerce, I mean Christmas, day I’m happy to say I just ordered an IRC TR8 Battle Rally which looks like a sweet skin and will hopefully take some of the uncertainty out of the front end.

Well, there is that. Let me know if you have any experience with the K270 and what you think.

Rotella, mofos!

Putting it, and myself, to the test.

Well, that was a ball. And educational. What more could you ask for, really?

About 11AM on Labor Day I got an idea to maybe get a ride in even though I was going to give the new paint job a day to cure. Fuck that. If (when, actually) it gets goobered I can always buy another $4 can of Krylon.

Pulled out the trusty Gazetteer with the words of the guy I bought the bike from ringing in my ears, “There are bunch of sweet dirt roads between here and Stanley we ride all the time.”  After about 5 minutes of lookin’ at squiggles the plan was set: 2-3 day power ride through the backwoods of central Ideeho. Within an hour all the kit was packed, the tank topped off and my ass was the fuck out of town. My only other plan for the holiday weekend was playing Russian Roulette so there wasn’t much to lose. Goddamn slow assed fire season.

Anyhoo, I blew the fuck out, headed west towards my beloved Oregon, but alas not to it, hit Fairfield and got going north.

SIDE NOTE: I’m using my spectacular GIS skills to develop a map of all my treks on here. Not sure how that will look in the end, but a number of possible platforms are being tested. Google earth sucks for sharing. Just sayin’.

Got headed up into the boonies when the shitstorm of bubba weekend warriors ending their last breedling infested summer hoorah came flooding past. Sorry no photos, I was trying not to get run over by a fleet of Ford F-350 Diesel warrior wagons towing any number of a wide variety of trailers. In the matter of 3 miles 70-80 rigs passed by. Then, nothing.


Smooth riding, with the occasional passer by, in to my lovely, and quite deserted, camping spot.


Full on minimalist goodness. A few goodies will be added, but the kit list as it is is pretty solid.

Got up, made some coffee, did some stretching then headed out to Featherville, a tiny little berg hidden in the woods. Pat, hubby of Cindie of Cindie’s Featherville Cafe:


whipped up some mean grub and kept the coffee going. Met a couple from Taos, NM who were doing a new this year 500 mile dirt road bicycle loop out of Ketchum. Turns out the dude had gotten an ‘05 KLR the around the same time I did, but only put 100 miles on it so far.

After all the gabbing and eating it was off to Atlanta. No, not that one, there is a tiny little former mining town full of gruff hillbillies and cranky old people in a cool basin in the Idaho boonies.


The ‘road’ there had seen better days. I’m a mtn bike guy so I’m used to being able to throw some body English at my bike to get it to go where I wish in the funkiness, not so with a 425# KLR. You can do a bit, but that fucker wanted to run down the steep heavily rutted and rocky stuff. Got in some valuable learnin’ AND a good workout. After about 2 minutes in Atlanta it was time for a swim in the cold assed Middle fork of the Boise river.


SOOOOOOOCOLD!!!!!!!! Balls instantly went up into my guts in rebellion to such harsh treatment, but it was nice to get the dust off and splash around a bit.

Made a wrong turn somewhere as a major road was fuckered to the point of closure and came out of the woods 25 miles north of Idaho city instead of 2. Got to ride down the pass through fresh chip sealing. After having spent the AM washing around on freshly graded roads. Ugh.

Kicked it in IC fro a bit, had a dude ask if I had stolen the bike as he had seen someone else on a similar one. I ignored the question then he proceeded to tell me about his KLR. I think the pope probably had one of these things.

Hitting the pavement felt really sweet once I got through chip seal part 2 and ripped down the pass to Lowman. Was thinking about camping out another night on the Boise side of things, but also wanted to see if  I could do a big power push all the way back. Got to the edge of the Stanley basin and decided there was no turning back.


I’ve been on a number of fires near Stanley and even in the summer that place is fucking wicked cold. Wasn’t in the mood to try and not freeze my ass off even with my rather high zoot gear collection. Pushed all the way through, over Galena Summit and down into Ketchum to Lefty’s for some much needed hot wings than finished up the trip back to Bellevue.

Lessons learned? I’m pretty well dialed on gear, need more shitty terrain time to hone the skills, Kenda K270 tires rail on the dirt and pavement-ignore the naysayers, passing on this pig is an art, KLR headlights suck ass-problem solved:


Got me a couple LED lights, and an LED taillight, from superbrightleds.com.

Most importantly: I love to ride this thing. Really a whole lot. Many adventures are yet to come.