I hadn’t known anything about Overland Expo adding an east coast event before it was mentioned at the start of the Arizona event in May. I’ve always enjoyed OX, both as an attendee and as an instructor, but I wasn’t sure I would have the time off to attend. As it worked out, my employer (Bell Ambulance in Milwaukee) was willing to work with me on the vacation time request, and I able to head back to North Carolina.
In the mean time, I’d gotten Curiosity all fixed up. Even better, a new custome seat from Russel Day Long had arrived, replacing the 30+ year old saddle I’d been riding around on.
The seat was on the of the half pans the SR250-T model came with, leaving room on the back of the bike for the trunk.
I wasn’t going to use the trunk. Instead I installed an auxiliary fuel cell I’d gotten when I was doing endurance riding on my big touring bike. A friend who was good with a welder made a bracket that fit the trunk mount, and I added the fuel line between the fuel petcock and carb. The plan was to run the fuel cell empty, then switch to the main tank. It was something I’d thought about before, but the seat wasn’t comfortable enough to ride far enough for it to be practical.
As part of the time off from work, I switched to nights for the last two shifts before I left home. This meant that, instead of leaving home at 7 or 8am, I arrived home from work at 645, having been awake since 3pm the day before. I had thought I’d be able to just hit the road, but was too tired and decided the safe thing to do was sleep for awhile. This meant I didn’t really get moving until mid day, something which would cause me issues all the way south. I had a minimum distance I needed to ride in order to make it to Asheville in time, and as the day went on it was increasingly clear I wasn’t going to make it. It was also clear that Curiosity wasn’t running well as the day went on. I had expected that I’d need to adjust the valves daily, but this was still disappointing as the bike slowly lost power.
I found a hotel for the first night and woke up early. There I found Curiosity had, again, destroyed its intake valve adjustment. There wasn’t much I could do, other than take out the lap that I could and get moving. I’d wanted to reach Ashville around noon, and the venue for Overland Expo East before 2 (I wanted to stop and get some groceries, and didn’t know exactly where I was going). I really hadn’t gotten close enough the day before for this to be practical, which I why I’d gotten up so early. Curiosity was struggling to make enough power, though, and I was feeling worse and worse about pushing. Finally I stopped and contact OX to say I was running late (there was a meeting at 4 for all instructors, it wasn’t looking like I was going to make it), and then arranged for adjustment boots for the intake to be shipped to a friend along the east coast, so I could at least patch Curiosity after the weekend. I would have to ride another 600 miles, but needed to get to OX east first.
Once I’d admitted I wasn’t going to get there I time, I eased off a little but kept riding, finally reaching the venue, Taylor Ranch. It was a nice place, though the security at the gate was odd. As it turned out, the ranch was only open for certain hours during the day, and I had just made it before the shut the gates. No one had gotten my “I’m going to be late” message, but apparently no one was worried either, though Curiosity’s rattle attracted a fair amount of notice. It did sound quite bad by this point.
I checked in, learned I’d just missed the gate closing, was directed to the camping area and told there were specific traffic flow rules that had to be followed for the weekend. These would cause all sorts of headaches as I had to move Curiosity around for my various bike classes.
I found were most of the ovetlanders I knew were camped, but it was a terrible hammock spot so I went off on my own. I’m kind of glad I did, since their area (overlooking a lake and the main venue building) became very crowded. This way I could visit and then go somewhere quieter to sleep.
The First Overland Expo East would officially start in the morning.