Once I faced the fact that I was no longer able to continue on, things began to run together and thoughts of “what if” flooded my mind. There are SO many things I could have done differently that may have made a difference in whether or not I made it to Oregon. But the harsh reality was that the two things you CAN’T control, mother nature and mechanical failures, brought the end to the trip.
I thought the team we assembled was tight enough to make it through the unforeseen adversity that was sure to come with a trip like this. Unfortunately, things happen and our best made plans fell apart. Corey and his dad met up in Colorado like they’d planned and are currently in Idaho, headed for Oregon. They seem to be on course to complete the trip and congrats to them on doing it. Rod headed to Kanob UT to see a lifelong friend of his and then, flew back to Atlanta. Good, bad or indifferent. As they say, “It is what it is.”
As for me, I’m sitting here in Florida, sipping a cold beer with Rocky laying on my lap (He basically hasn’t left my side since returning), doing some serious reflecting on the events of the last month. I learned some very important lessons. Again, you can’t control mother nature and you can replace EVERY part on your motorcycle only to have something else break. Lastly, the people on you team, their personalities and their way of dealing with adversity is an aspect of the trip that can't be more important.
Whatever your budget is, DOUBLE it!! Unexpected cost or lurking at every corner. A breakdown can turn into a costly tow or an unbudgeted long stay somewhere waiting for parts. The cost to overnight parts or buy expensive replacements sometimes don’t come when you expect. I cannot emphasize enough how having enough funds can make or break your trip. It certainly did mine and I thought I had everything covered. Clearly NOT!
I’ve realized more than ever how much my family means to me. I missed my daughter like crazy, just our calls 3 days a week didn’t help and not being able to be with her was painful. Even though I don’t see them as much as I used to, my calls with my parents became something I looked forward to on this trip. Being so isolated and in such remote locations made you feel like you may never get back. It brought a real sense of seriousness and urgency to our calls.
Just as a final thought on the issues with Katie the KTM 690, a quick tear down of the driveline revealed the new chain is damaged and both the drive sprockets are trash. Until I get a micrometer on the front sprocket to check runout, I can't confirm BUT I have to believe the mainshaft bearing is shot and causing a slight "wobble" in the chain. I'm relieved at this point I decided to come home rather than continue because it definitely would have ended in failure somewhere along the trail. The low stress of "slabbing it" home compared to the abuse of riding offroad 8-10 hours a day, was the difference. Looking at the parts now, I believe I was only a few hours away from something breaking.
I will definitely finish what I started. Sometime next year, I’ll trailer out to Utah and finish up the TAT. Heck, I may even do the Moab to LA loop while I’m there. Or maybe the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route, or maybe the Terra Del Fuego or…. Well, let’s just get home to Kentucky first.
Till the next adventure!!