Dual Sport Ride Into West Virginia on the XR650L
I set out on a 6hr round trip from western Pennsylvania to West Virginia over the weekend. Meeting up with some people at a friend's childhood home to properly dispose of an old fallen down barn. The night time temperatures were supposed to be in the low 30's (°F), so a warm sleeping bag was the first thing that was stuffed into my pack, followed by a thermal sleeping pad, followed by some cold weather clothes. The daytime temperature was not going to be all that warm either at low 50's (°F) and partly cloudy, so I wore most of my cold weather clothes on the way down. Got my overnight backpack loaded up, and put the rest of my clothes in a small bookbag that I planned to wear on my back for the ride down.
At the moment, having no luggage rack of any kind means you have to do something clever. I ended up running some bolts into my passenger peg mounts with a jam nut, and a large fender washer on the outside. This gave me a tie point on either side for mounting gear, in addition to wrapping around my rear fender and sub-frame. I set sail shortly after this picture, and man I was crunched on that seat carrying a book bag. I had not traveled this far on the bike yet so fuel was my main concern having a stock still, and the fact that I was headed into a remote area of West Virginia with likely unreliable refueling locations. I traveled non-highway roads (45-55mi/hr) the entire way down. At first I'd fill up every thirty miles or so out of paranoia and limited trust. Then I'd go 50, and soon I had gone 75mi between refills, at which point reserve was needed to limp to my next fill up.
You never realize how much colder it is outside until your on a fast moving motorcycle without a windscreen, and no leg protection. The XR650L will truly put you as close to your surroundings as possible with the most minimal of barriers, which is what I like about the bike.
Stopped for a bathroom break on a random logging/gas line road that had some fresh traveled tracks.
Man this ride was turning out to be picturesque. Winding down through mountain passes in these tiny towns in the Appalachians. Before leaving the last gas station prior to the destination, I grabbed a six pack of cold locally brewed beers, put them in my backpack, and went for the home stretch.
Twenty miles later, I knew I was in the right place, when both tires hit a small dirt road nestled between two hills. I wandered up the valley a half a mile or so when I caught my first glimpse of the destination. Unpacked the gear from the bike, did a nice long stretch, then hopped back on the bike to explore for a while before checking back to see if my other buddy showed up yet.
The nice thing about being in the middle of nowhere in WV is there are off-road trails anywhere you point your front tire. Figured with a half hour to kill, I'd see if I could go get into some trouble, and the sun was still up, so I figured I'd climb up this nasty looking hill to see where it led.
After 3+ hours on the bike, once I got to the top of the hill, it turned into a power line trail that seemed to be never ending. Propped the bike up, stretched my legs and cracked open a cold beer from my backpack. Yea it was pretty shaken up, but was a great West Virginia welcome! I sat here for a bit, used some short lived cellular service to phone home that all was good, then headed back to the house. The sun was setting, so I set my hammock up with a sleeping pad and down filled sleeping bag. We cooked some Oklahoma steaks on a grill, and enjoyed the company of fire and good people for the rest of the night. By the time 3am rolled around, it was far past my bed time. I don't have to tell you how good a nice down sleeping bag is in 30deg weather after you've had your share of beer for the evening. What a relaxing nights sleep.
Woke up, was handed a very nicely prepared breakfast sandwich, which I quickly devoured, then packed everything back up and hit the road by 11am. The ride back was just as wonderful as the ride down. Feeling more confident on my fuel situation now, I dialed it up a notch on speed for the ride back, and was cutting through those mountain passes like butter. Not soon after, I was close to home, opening the throttle more and more the closer I got. Not sure if it was the fact that I had to pee, or just wanting the tail end of this to be over. Probably both. Looking forward to a return trip that can't come soon enough.