Backroad Ramblings June 2010

June 29, 2010
Jason Giacchino
Jason Giacchino
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

A freelancer and published novelist Jason is currently the editor in chief of Mountain Bike Tales digital magazine and holds a State University of New York degree in applied science with a minor in journalism. When not hunched over a computer monitor, he can be found playing outside in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York.

Near Misses of the Adventuring Touring Kind

Depoe Bay was our first stop on Day 2. The miniscule harbor was our last chance to stretch our legs before heading into the state capitol.
As much as our rambling man enjoys adventure touring he can never seem to get his hands on a true A-T mount.

The problem, I’ve decided, with my crew of fellow riding buddies is that to properly participate in the rides they plan requires a fleet of motorcycles from various disciplines that could leave Jay Leno scratching his head. And somehow I’m acutely aware of this fact every time I visit a dealership or browse through a glossy product brochure yet it appears, regardless of how carefully I plan, I’ll never be in perfect sync with the rest of the crew.

I bring all of this up because this past weekend’s group ride took a decidedly “adventure-touring” flavor; one of the few disciplines that though thoroughly enjoyable to me, has simply been scratched off my to-do list in favor of dirt bikes, crotch rockets, ATVs, dual sports and the occasional cruiser. Try as I may to add a big-bore multi-cylinder adventurer tourer from the likes of KTM, BMW or some other European manufacturer with a 3-letter acronym to my riding arsenal, my fiancé, credit card company and even the IRS have seen fit to put the kybosh on even my finest-developed schemes.

Perhaps the closest I came to fitting into this niche was a few years ago when my stable consisted of both a Yamaha R6 for the canyon carving days and a Honda XR650L for everything else. The XR wasn’t exactly capable of hanging with the KTM 950s and Beemers of the adventurer touring set I was running around with at the time, but it did manage to fare well, so long as I was willing to divide everything I carried that wouldn’t fit in my backpack across their tank bags and hard luggage. Simple tasks like buying a Coke from a vending machine often resulted in my having to meander from one bike to another while fishing out stray coins from half a dozen bags, packs and containers.

I parted ways with the big Honda and replaced it with an even more trail-friendly (read nimble) scoot such as a Husqvarna 125cc 2-stroke, which was advertised as being road legal. And it was so long as your definition of the term “road” didn’t coincide with New York State’s. The monthly adventure-touring rides continued while I was off carving the moto track, exploring singletrack or dragging a knee behind my buddy’s Ducati. I would still get invited to attend despite lacking the proper hardware for the task at hand and often regretted declining to pursue other forms of motor-induced adrenaline release.

Notice the lack of heat guards on the pipe. We melted our pants just behind the subframe attachment. Sure  the naked pipe looks good  but that quickly disappears once its covered in goo.
A truly street legal KTM 450 EXC? The best of both worlds for Giacchino, it’s almost too good to be true!

Then this past winter I decided the time had come to rejoin the ranks and settled on a bike that once again wasn’t exactly designed for adventure touring but could be pressed into service without having to give up my penchant for chewing up the tight twisting trails on those perfect evenings of summer. The specimen in question was one KTM450 EXC that had been converted both to supermoto status and full street legality. It had arrived on eBay just as I happened to be perusing (not really a sign of cosmic destiny, as I patrol the eBay like a shark outside the meat packing plant’s outlet into the bay) and the owner was kind enough to agree on a price that would include freight to my local truck terminal for pickup.

Once satisfied that the machine was truly road legal (a lesson learned from the Husky), I clicked the “Buy it Now” button with elation to share the news with the adventure-touring group the following day. After a sleepless night consumed with thoughts of rejoining those romps into the foggy Allegheny Mountains for the weekend or the tenting treks off the secondary roads of deep Chautauqua County, I was greeted with a letter from the IRS stating that I had made an error on my tax return and would be receiving a refund seconded only to Donald Trump!

Just kidding. The actual letter did indeed accuse me of making an error on my return but also demanded that I immediately write out a check for the difference that was well over half the cost of the KTM I had just purchased the night prior.

Weve been trying to get on one of these tours for a couple years now so when our Off-Road Editor got the invite he packed his bags and headed for the nearest airport.
It did cross Jason’s mind to sneak off with his newly purchased KTM and join a roaming band of rebel KTM owners who were running from the law.

If you can find them…maybe you can hire…the K-T-M-Team.

I was on the horn with Turbo Tax tech support so quickly onlookers would surely have thought it was a number I called daily. After several hours of going over every digit, decimal, and smudge inputted by yours truly (interrupted only by my intermittent whimpering of the letters K-T-M), it had been determined that indeed the error was mine and mine alone and my options at that point were simply to write out the check immediately or play a little game called “The Wesley Snipes”.

The depression of writing that check was offset slightly by the new dilemma at hand: Namely explaining all of this to the current owner of the bike, which happened to be a dealer out of Florida. Thankfully the shop’s owner was incredibly understanding to my bizarre circumstance and gave me no trouble in backing out of what was essentially a legal and binding contract. I noticed the bike sold nearly instantly after having been relisted shortly thereafter. About the only positive report out of that entire sequence of events was that the letter from the IRS arrived before I had a chance to alert the adventurer-touring crowd that I was back in action.

This past weekend I did however load up my car and meet the guys at a beautiful little spot out in the town of Glenwood for some fishing, camp firing and tenting. I concede that the trip would certainly have been more memorable from behind the bars rather than behind the steering wheel, but I wasn’t going to let a small thing like the lack of the proper motorcycle keep me from a nice weekend in the great outdoors. Besides it was nice not to have to ask everyone in attendance if they had my sleeping bag or toothbrush in their luggage.

And when my friend said he knew someone who got a swinging deal on street-legal KTM 450 on eBay, I didn’t say a word.