First Himalayan on Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail

DRugerH

Well travelled
Well, maybe it's not the first Himalayan on the Trans-Wisconsin, but I haven't seen other reports or videos, so I am going to call it the first.

Anyhow, riding the Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail, or T.W.A.T., has been on my bucket list for years. What is this? Well, instead of explaining it, here's a link: http://lonewolfexpeditions.blogspot.com/p/trans-wisconsin-adventure-trail.html

I originally heard about it around 2008, so in 2009, I purchased a brand new Yamaha TW200 to ride this trail. The bike was inexpensive, and, having ridden one before, I knew it was a fun, light and capable bike, even at 200cc. Well, life got in the way, and right after I had the bike mostly outfitted to do the T.W.A.T., I ended up having to sell it to replace my car that had gotten flooded. So, I gave up the idea, and figured I would just stick to street riding. However, the idea has never left me, and over the years, I've looked at purchasing a cheap, used dual-sport to do the ride.

Well, in 2020, I was browsing CraigsList for such a bike as I really wanted to check this off of my bucket list. While checking, I spotted a very unusual dual-sport. A Royal Enfield Himalayan? What the heck is that??? After research and stumbling on Itchy Boots videos, as well as other videos, I had to have one. The used one was already sold, so I started to save for a 2021 since the 2020's were already sold out and Covid didn't allow for the import of more.

Then, in September 2020, I stumbled on a pre-order page for the 2021 Himalayan. I slapped down the $500 deposit, and the rest is history.

Anyhow

I spend the past year getting the bike ready for this trip, which I am going to start on June 20, 2022, so in just a few days. I plan to hotel/model it the first night and last night, but camp along the way. So, while I will post updates here, it probably won't be until I come back, but I just wanted to add a place holder to remind me to take pictures.

The machine:

Readyfor TWAT.jpg

2021 Royal Enfield Himalayan
Pirelli MT21 Tires
RE Panniers
RE Engine guard
Some sort of generic bark busters
Mirror risers/extenders
Handlebar Risers
Grip Puppies
Stainless oil cooler and rear brake covers
Seat Concepts tall seat
Tool tube for tire changing tools
Garmin Zump GPS
GPS Bar (Had the eBay one, ended up changing it out to something else, all unknown brands)

If I did anything else to the bike, I can't remember

I also purchased appropriate riding pants, boots, adventure helmet, etc for myself. ATGATT for me. But, I figured I should purchase the appropriate gear for what's possibly going to be a muddy, dirty, sandy, wet ride. I need to finally get the Himalayan nice and dirty.

Also, this is going to be a SOLO ride. I took a dirt bike riding course and practiced until they kicked me out, so that's all the experience I have riding off-road, but a gentleman from my church did it twice, with even less experience than me, on a KLR650, so I think I'll be okay. So, if I come back in one piece, or at least come back still breathing, I'll update this post. Also, I may update this on the trail on the nights I get a hotel/motel (I have to bring my laptop since I technically work 24x7x365), but if not, I'll certainly update this post with plenty of pictures when I return.

Dan
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
That had been suggested to me by other members, and I considered making a set, but when I looked into it on my bike, it just seemed like it would weaken the forks a bit, so I decided that, with the abuse I am about to put this bike through, I would rather have as much strength as possible on the fork brace. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but it just seems like the spacers would add some leverage on tweaking the forks, should I find myself in that sort of situation. I even thought of just removing the lower fender for added space, but I am going to leave it for now. I can always remove it on the trail if I decide to go that route.

Dan
 

petespace1

Well travelled
Location
NSW Aus
A few things if not already considered.
  1. If you expect mud it’s better to remove the lower mudguard.
  2. The KTM ( trail bike) style generic upper guard seems to be compatible with the Himmi to help with splatter.
  3. If you drop the bike it can break off the RE mirrors, so any folding type like ‘double take’ the one using Ram mounts stems may be worth looking at perhaps?
  4. I am assuming you will be taking a satellite communication device such as the ‘Garmin Inreachor
    at least the Spot GPS satellite messenger.
  5. You can update this forum on your phone anywhere that you have mobile coverage.
I will be following your adventures.
All the very best 👍
 

modiorne

Well travelled
Location
Charlotte, NC
Pick up some 'hiking gaiters' that will work with your boots and pants - inexpensive ones fromAmazon worked great for me on the MABDR. Double plus 1 on the SPOT or Garmin since you are solo. I used mine on the MABDR when a rider in another group went down hard and I had the only capable device. Use the riser on the front fender, the Himmy is a bit overbuilt and the risers will be welcome clearing mud and rocks. Have fun!!!
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
Thanks for the advice, all. I don't have a Spot or Inreach, and the budget is already spent. I figure I've gotten through life without them, so I will continue to attempt it. I totally understand the need for something like that, and you can't put a price on safety, but folks know where I'm going, so I'll just have to deal with it. Plus, I can't find anything like that locally, and it's too late to order one (I don't have Prime), so I'm going to have to take my chances this time. I did take a dirt bike course and all to prepare for this trip, and learned a lot more than I bargained for. I will be taking my time on this trip, giving myself 5-days instead of 3-days, so we'll see how it goes. I'm not a speed deamon or anything like that. I'm just going to putt through, and if the trail gets very hairy, I can always take an alternate route on asphalt.

As for lodging, I am bringing camping gear. I don't know if I'll camp or motel it every night. I'm just going to see where the world takes me every night. The Garmin Zumo XT has a lot of great features, including finding nearby camping spots and hotels/motels, so when I get tired, and I'm about to call it a day, I'll see what's around, and that's where I'll stay. I just made a motel reservation for the first night, so I'll at least be able to post then.

Dan
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
Well, today is the day. It is 6:00am, and I am about to start my 150-mile trip to the start of the T.W.A.T., and will cover about the first 60-or-so miles of the route once I get there. Pretty much, I will be riding to the last town in WI before the jaunt into Iowa, Prairie du Chien, where I have a motel for the night. I will not be in full-on off-road gear until day 2 as it is supposed to be in the mid 90-degrees today, so I will be a bit more comfortable today while I am on mostly pavement.

But, the Himalayan is all packed up like a mule, and ready to shove off after I finish this cup of coffee:
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And, just do document my starting mileage:'
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More to come. I will update when I can.

Dan
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
Day 1:

I shoved off around 6:00 am for the 151 mile trek to the start of the trail. This was a rather uneventful trip, which is a good thing. Within about 3 1/2 hours, I made it to the beginning:
5542

The first 10 or 15 miles, it was all paved. Not boring or anything, but a lot of the same.

Finally, I hit my first gravel road. Nothing technical, and flat, but it was gravel. This was rather fresh gravel, so it was pretty loose. I had to get my bearings on it, and I admit that I was strong-arming the bike for a little bit. But, then, I remembered my training. Keep it loose and let the bike do what it wants. So, I did just that, and started to get rather comfortable on that first gravel road.

I then hit some older gravel, which was so much nicer. Sure, the bike was still squirrelly, but I just let the bike do its thing, and I was able to pick up more speed on it
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I then came across my first water crossing.
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It wasn't much more than a little water going across the road
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There were a couple more like this, one a bit deeper, but again, kept it loose, and let the bike do what it wanted. Being in the 90s though, it was nice to get that little splash of cool water
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
I just kept on riding, and I finally got to the infamous overhanging rock that everyone stops at for a photo opportunity, and of course, some punks stop to tag it (I am not one of them)
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I kept riding these gravel roads, and one of them went through a state park (sorry, I can't remember which one), but, unfortunately, the road was closed. I was tempted to check it out anyhow, but when a road is closed in WI, it's usually for something major, so I decided to follow my trail of white dust and backtracked to detour around it.
5548
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
I made it to my motel in Prairie Du Chien, WI around 2:30. It was still pretty early, and I thought about ditching the motel and letting them keep my $40, but decided to not waste money. When I got there, I was greeted by a "Temporarily Closed" sign on the window. The place as abandoned. I called the two numbers on the website, but both were not in service. So, I figured I'd do leg 2 of the trip, which crosses over into Iowa for about 50-miles.

Iowa was a lot of the same gravel roads, but instead of the bluffs being to the left of me they were now on my right
5549

Plenty of stream crossings. Unlike the dried up ones in WI, some of these still had flowing water
5550

I got to the end of the Iowa side of the trip. Instead of crossing back into Wisconsin, I decided to stop at a motel for the night, get some dinner, and rest the bones (and butt) for the night
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
Day 2:

I checked out of the motel and mounted the Himalayan around 6:00am. I crossed over the bridge and road on the Great River Road for a few miles until I got to my first gravel road. No more pictures as these were just your run of the mill gravel roads. But, they were nice. I stood on the pegs for a lot of these as the bike felt much less squirrely that way, and I was going at about 35-40mph on them since I was rather confident on this bike on these roads now.

Then, I hit a road that looked like gravel, but turned out to be gravel covered sand. This road looks to have been washed out in a few places by a recent storm, and had plenty of deep, water washed ruts. It was hard navigating the bike on these ruts, and took a lot of concentration. However, I hit one rut, and I could not get the bike out of it, and the inevitable happened
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So, here I am, all alone, and my bike is down. To pick it up, I was going slightly uphill. I was not able to pick the bike up until I unstrapped the luggage. One I did that, I grabbed the bike by the back tire, twisted it around a bit, and was able to pick it up. The only damage was a slightly bent crash bar and some scraping on the hand guards.
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I came out of this unscathed. It was a slow motion fall. I just lost my footing on this very loose stuff, and the bike being top heavy, especially with all of my camping gear strapped on, the momentum of the weight just helped the bike tip over quite easily.
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
Unfortunately, this ended the trip. Not because of me or the bike, but because of technology. I purchased a Garmin Zumo XT, and I could not get it to power back on. It was still working when the bike went down, and I unmounted it (which turns the unit off) so I wouldn't ruin it when I picked the bike back up, and placed it under my helmet while I was re-strapping my stuff to the bike. I left the thing mounted and navigated through that gravel/sand road until I got to a safer, paved spot to see if I could get that thing working again, but failed.

So, I just about finished the entire first half of this trail, but could not do the second, which was supposed to be better with dirt roads and forest roads, which I was really looking forward to, especially after 300 miles of gravel and paved roads I experienced on this trail. You know, I never put any faith in technology, and the one time I do, it fails me.

So, I hooked up my phone to the bike, and navigated to a nearby town. I got to a Walmart, and I spy Highway 12. I know this highway very well, and it gets me near home. I look for a campground since, after all, I had all that crap on my bike, I may as well use it for at least one night. So, I found a state park just past Wisconsin Dells, and stayed for the night
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Then, yesterday, I rode the remaining 152 miles home.
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
And, on the ride home, I reflected on the failure of this trip:

Firstly, don't depend on technology alone. Many of these roads are not on a map. So, hit up a maps program, print out the areas, and highlight the route.
Secondly, loosen up. Stand up. Let the bike take you where it want.

And, the most important to me, and what I realized is, the bike was WAY TOO TOP HEAVY. WIth all of my gear packed up, when I put down the kickstand, the bike was level. The 2021 has a lean to it when on the kickstand, but not with it loaded. I am 6'2" and 230lbs. so I already make the bike heavy. The extra 100lbs hindered the bike.

I AM GOING TO DO THIS TRIP AGAIN NEXT YEAR!!!

But, what I am gong to do though is I am NOT going to camp at all. I am doing motels/hotels on this trip so I am not overpacking the bike. If it doesn't fit in the panniers, it doesn't come with. I think this will make the gravel roads even easier, and I think I would have caught the bike before it went down. I won't have that upper momentum of the gear helping to bring the bike down.

I am not disappointed in having the cut the trip short. I am gong to see if the Garmin is under any kind of warranty. That thing was expensive, and should not have just died like that. I am also gong to plan the route and not depend 100% on technology. My goal is to finish the T.W.A.T., and I am going to take what I learned this year and apply it for next year's trip.

So, sorry to not have a full report, but look for a Take 2 post next June.

Thanks all for tuning in

Dan
 

Robert

Well travelled
Location
Holland
Thank you for sharing your experiences on this trip!
I don't think your trip failed. You came back in one piece. You had a nice outing, learned a lot and have something to out for.
And why wait a whole year before trying again?
 

Caspice

Finally made it
Location
Here and There
Appreciate you taking us along for the adventure. Making it back home sans major wear and tear is always a success.
Curious if you found all the upgrades and modifications worthwhile, meet expectations?
 

DRugerH

Well travelled
Robert, thanks. Yeah, I have to wait until next year due to time off of work that I will need to do the second trip. But, yeah, I learned a lot on this trip, so I guess it wasn't a total failure.

Caspice, All of the upgrades I did worked out great. I couldn't be happier with the Himalayan. The only thing I will change is the crash bars. While the RE crash bars worked well, it did bend on the side where it fell. I will be replacing them with the Givi bars, but otherwise, everything else worked just as it should. Also, while the Pirelli MT21 tires are quite loud on pavement, they sure gripped the terrain. I think the bike would have survived that gravel/sand road had I not had all of the weight of my luggage strapped to the bike.

Anyhow, there will be a "Take 2" post next year when I try it again.

Dan
 

Rednaxs60

Well travelled
Great trip report. No trip is ever a failure, a great learning experience, but never a failure. An inReach/Spot is probably in your future plans. I have mine on my jacket regardless of the bike I'm on. Look forward to the sequal.
 

hellcat3639

Total noob
It's very exciting to have an unpaved road where you can take your heart beating adventures.
The country I live in is very narrow and most roads are concrete or asphalt.(There is no dirt road on the wide plain.)
Your adventures are very interesting to me and cause jealousy.

You had to come back on the way, but you could say you're the winner because you're not hurt.
I'm looking forward to the second adventure.
I wish you the best of luck.
 
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