KLR 650

10 adventure motorcycles you can’t get in the US.

As a follow up to my post about the motorcycles of Costa Rica, here is a link to a great article from ADV Pulse about 10 adventure motorcycles you can’t get in the US.

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Your Great Motorcycle Road

The Road, oh you know it, that perfect road you stumbled upon after that left turn in the middle of “where the hell am I” hollow. That one you have found your way back to a few times for the turns, scenery and feeling that this is MY road. Open and uncluttered by every weekend warrior, Son’s of Anarchy, want to be biker in the state. It’s just you, and the road and you want to keep it that way.

I had MY road. It was a beautiful dancing snake of secluded country tarmac. Winding by creeks, picturesque farms and rolling hills. Rough in places to keep you focused but smooth in the rest so you can glide with speed from turn to turn.

Had. I had a road, but my pride got the best of me and I bragged about it one time too many. I was pressured to lead a “ride” there. To preface this story let me be clear. I ride alone. I dislike others’ pace or having to set one. If I pass a small dirt road that obviously leads to somewhere I have no business being… I take it. I love getting lost. I will take unknown roads, and make random direction changes just to see where I end up. This en route entropy is how I found MY road. I was lost, wandering around back roads, when there it was, riding bliss! Like something out of a Greek myth that only reveals itself to those who choose to abandon the compass and give in to the sirens’ song of aimlessness. A gift bestowed by the Goddess of Gone Astray. I love that, I love giving in to “wherever”. Sure, you run across a few trailer trash meth labs, but that’s all part of the fun, just don’t stop and shop, eyes front, gas and go!

So the very idea of me leading people to MY road was an appalling thought, but the beer spoke before the brain got its pants on, so the deal was done. We met at a beer and burrito dive that wasn’t far from a good road that would eventually lead us to THE road. I pulled in, pulled off the skull bucket and went in to meet the pack. I was expecting 2 but found 5. One of the guys asked if he could bring friends, “sure, the more the merrier” (What did I just say? What has happened to me?) So it was a group. We have the core, the two I knew, James and Chuck (an auditor and a professor), and James’s friends, two musicians, one of whom brought his wife. I have to begrudging admit I’m glad they were riding with us. They had vintage motorcycles, tattoos, and added a level of biker cred I feel we otherwise sorely lacked. And once I got to know them, they were very interesting and charming folks.

I didn’t take photos on that day (I didn’t want to be THAT guy) so I will use photo stand ins to represent those attending.

The professor

The Auditor

The Two Musicians and Wife

Oh, and me

You get the picture.

On with the ride. We did what I’m assuming is a preride tradition, look over the machines, talk some smack, gear up and go!

It was a beautiful day and, as expected, a great ride. We stopped at another beer and burrito joint to talk after the ride. At the end of the day, despite my reservations, it was a fun day. I have learned that sharing an experience is rewarding. (Who knew all those kids’ shows I forced my child to watch were right!) Not only did the group’s reaction to MY road feed my ever growing ego, but I truly enjoyed the conversation and riding stories of the group when the ride was done.

Note: the road photos that accompanied this post are from MY NEW road. Still mine… For now.

Directions to MY road (mentioned in the post above) are available upon request. There will be a vetting process and will require a signed letter from your mother.

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2014 KLR 650 “New Edition”

The 2014 KLR 650 New Edition will have a new suspension and a wider seat but no word yet on the Dohickey or a 6th gear.

The rumor is the new front and back suspension will improve handling ( I know tightening mine was a vast improvement) and the seat is more of a wedge shape allowing shorter inseam folks, like myself (30 inches), to stand flat footed at stoplights. Also the wider back of the seat will add comfort for long rides.

While this is not the rumored full redesign of the beloved mule, I think this $100 bump up in features maybe a welcome change.

I can’t wait to see one in the showroom and give it the once over in person.

The new KLR 650 features are now listed on the Kawasaki website.

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A Women and her Motorcycle

If you haven’t followed the travels of Alison and her KLR give it a look. This is her Ode to her KLR (Oscar) who she sold in Argentina.

Don’t miss her downloadable PDF listing the price, pros and cons of a wide variety of KLR modifications.

Visit her blog here Alison’s Wanderland

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Natchez Trace State Park Trip

Highway 70 west from Nashville is a dreary drive incrusted in a thick layer of dull. Now I’m sure there are quite a few fine people and places along this stretch of Tennessee tarmac but I found it lacking in the scenery, kitch and curves I crave.

When I crossed the bridge into Camden I was greeted with outstanding Bar-B-Q and a new found hope. I proceeded south gliding along Divider Natchez Trace Road, a winding, shady forrest road without a car in sight. Things were lookin up. A small snake coiled to strike as I passed, I took this as more of a greeting than a threat. ( cue Disney music and singing wildlife )

I arrived at The Natchez Trace State Park campground 1, site 22, which would be my home for the night.

I took off my gear and setup camp.

I hung my Hammock

And bug net

Opened a cold Monkeynaut IPA

Grabbed a few good books

And eased into the hammock to unwind.

I took a short walk before dinner to see a little more of what the park had to offer

I then returned to camp

Ate dinner and drank in the view

After dinner I enjoyed a fine Fascist Pig Ale, watched the sunset, and returned to the safety of my bug net for the night.

This was my first trip with my ENO bug net and I have to say I’m very happy with it ( full review later) that said, mosquito nets are great when they are all on the outside. When one gets in it suddenly becomes The Thunderdome! Two species enter, one leaves. It was a short and decisive battle. I’m a stronger man having lived through it.

I awoke to mist on the water, a fine way to start the day.

I made breakfast, and yes, that’s my awesome tiki plate.

I packed up the bike an got wonderfully lost. I wasn’t able to capture images of some of the best roads ( I didn’t want to stop) but here are a few I wandered down.

Stumbled across a Cajun joint with funky lighting, craft beer and gumbo. Some days the road smiles on ya 🙂

I returned to Nashville and was greeted by the warm smile of my girlfriend. We were blessed with an evening of snacks, drinks, and laughs with friends. Some times the world is all right.

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French Fry Fiasco

I bought my son a Kawasaki KLX 110 a while back and have since been sneaking my son on to neighborhood greenways, soccer fields, and other places middle age women like to scold us, to practice using the clutch. Well no more! I’ve seen the error of our ways! ( not really, it makes me feel young seeing the disdain in the eyes of a suburbanite house wife, aaaah youth). So no, I haven’t turned my back on that, but I have found a pay to play dirt bike trail close to my suburban digs.

So! Borrow a truck, load em up and ride Sally ride!

Step one: Da Truck,
“that your brother’s manly truck?”

I looked up to see her smiling face. My neighbor always found it funny that my gay brothers truck was more butch than my car. Not all my neighbors are joyless shrieking hags. This neighbor was great! I like joking with her like that, good natured
Ribbing ( until one of us goes too far and gets their house burnt down)

But enough small talk! We have dirt to dominate!

Upon opening the bed of the truck we found that the lid came off one of the many 35 gallon fryer oil jugs my brother had in the back of his truck. Let me explain, my brother picks up dirty fryer oil and distills it in a small shed tucked behind his house to use in his diesel truck and twin engined diesel boat. ( Once again… Somehow he is more butch than me. )
Anyway this was a big french fry / tater tot smelling pool of WTF we now had do deal with. Thinking quickly ( as I’m prone to do, being a brilliant man of action ) I grabbed a few shovels full of sand I had behind my house and tossed it in the bed of the truck to absorb some of the oil. I then fired up my KLR 650 and up the ramp I went.. and went and went until the 400 pound bike was through gliding in the small Alaskan beach diorama I had created in the back of my brother’s truck. Whatever, it’s in.. Next bike. The KLX 110 was not an issue at all. Ready to strap down and head out of town. Then, my fine reader, then is when our tale of struggle and minor triumph becomes a cautionary tale of trust. Never trust weather apps, weather web sites or brightly dressed television personalities. They ALL lie. It began to rain.

Everything stopped and my son and I stood for a second and looked into each others face. Rain began to run down them, we blinked slightly as more drops pelted our stunned faces. “Bahahahaha!” We had to laugh. The gods of two wheeled mayhem were playing a cruel joke on us and we got it.

We quickly set about undoing out recent labor. Struggling to find traction in the horror show of a truck bed we heaved and pulled and got the bikes back down the ramp and on the ground. Then grabbing dripping oil juggs from the now oil shiny grass and lugging them back in to the truck bed, we were ready to go.

I returned The French Fry Valdez back to my brother, started up my hatchback and we went bowling. This was followed by Chinese food and an action movie.

We got home a little late that evening, a father and son, who accomplished nothing but made a big mess. But we had a grand time doing it!

As the rain began

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Categories: KLR 650, KLX 110, Motorcycle Story | Leave a comment

A Road Less Graveled

I have been steeped in the deep fried goodness that is rural America. Dirt roads, back roads and bluegrass will show me the way!

I gleefully close the door on a sea of restless winter energy as I remove the cover to see at long last my KLR, Ginger, still bright eyed and ready to dance. Let the games begin!

My goal today was to find a corner store on the brink of no where that was establish in the 1920’s and has rang with laughter and bluegrass ever since. Or at least that’s what the three year old motorcycle newsgroup post said. Time and travel will tell the tale.

I followed the highway through ever decreasing populations until I made my turn onto the dirt road. A corrugated carpet of brown bliss that rolls by farms, creeks and livestock. Demanding attention at times with large rocks, loose gravel and stream crossings that soaked my kevlar jeans. The road is as changing as it is rewarding. In short, it was great!

All good things must end, the same is true as untamed dirt turns to civilized street and the GPS tells me to look left and behold the target of my tremulous trip. Beautiful. A forgotten oasis of commerce in plethora of pasture. A country store. A shadow of its former self but still standing proud and still an asset to its community. And not open. (sigh)

Situated on a strange corner with streams converging from different angles, rock cliffs, peaceful fields and old growth trees it seemed like a place time forgot. I jump off the bike, drink in the quiet and look. Turn. Look. Turn again. And look, and some where inside I let go. I unwind. I embrace the peace, the timelessness, the calm.

Welcome spring. I needed this.

On my way back to town I spy some bluegrass pickers by the side of the road. They are selling potted plants and VHS copies of films I have long forgotten. They inform me that the bluegrass has migrated to a new store further north.

Perhaps next weekend.

Store location: Located at 6688 Hassell’s Creek Rd., Lyles, TN

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So close!

Hey cool I reached… Dang it! So close!

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West, just because.

West to see what I could see and to enjoy some time alone.

After a pleasant blur of green landscape hwy 100 brought me to the town square of Centerville where I found something unexpected. Despite the crafts fair going on in the town’s square, I intended to keep riding through. Then my eye found the sign that read “Wild Duck Soup Emporium'”, well, ya gotta stop for something like that! Art, tofu, green tea, plays, farm fresh eggs, artisan crafts, mind expanding books, bands upstairs and good conversation.

wild duck soup emporium

The owner Wild Duck turned me on to my next distraction, The Grinder’s Switch Winery. After a short ride from town, through some nice scenery, I sipped samples and laughed with the owner and made plans to return someday for Blues night.

Had a six year old waitress (helping her mom) take my catfish order in Lindin Tn, then it was off to camp at the wonderful river side Mousetail Landing Park.

As the sunset over the river I settled into drinks and conversation with my neighboring campers. After a few drinks we talked about music and looked at iphone photos of their wedding. Two very charming ladies, I wish them well.

Sunrise, pack the bike, ran a road that had my last name, received a smile and a salute from a Quaker boy on a bike that made me smile for quite a while. Who knew the corruption of youth can be such a fulfilling thing. Fueled up and chatted with a fellow motorcycle traveler. 2000 miles in 4 days. Sounds too much like work! He was riding from CO to FL to see his kids then ride up the East Coast. I wished him a safe journey then rode to the Natchez Trace to head back to Nashville. I stopped along the Trace to hike a waterfall; nap on a stone wall and slowly make my way home.

A Few handy Links

Wild Duck Soup Emporium

The Grinder’s Switch Winery

Mousetail Landing Park

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Categories: KLR 650, Motorcycle Camping, Motorcycle Story, Tennessee Roads | Leave a comment

Why not?

Saturday sports bar. Lunch. The routine chat is broken by my eleven year olds thought ” Why don’t we go camping?” ….(blink, chew, sip) “now?”…”why not?”

Grocery, load, road.


Setup camp, creek, eat, fire, talk, read, “good idea son”, sleep.

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Categories: KLR 650, Motorcycle Camping, Motorcycle Story | Leave a comment

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