2016 Scooter Cannonball on a 30 year old Helix

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MondayDad, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    Most of the time, it seems that Epic Rides are all about following your own planned route, taking your time, snapping lots of scenic pictures with the bike in the foreground, and something significant behind it. I've decided that's what's different about this report. Pictures are almost non-existent because we're on a tight schedule: spend time at a checkpoint, and lose points! The only important part of the picture, as far as SCR is concerned, is the lat/lon/timestamp. The image could be of a road, bush, or inside of your pocket and nobody cares. That doesn't make for bringing the reader into the excitement of the event, though!

    Today, Day 2, was a ride from Anderson SC to Lebanon TN via either Tail of the Dragon or Cherahala (sp?) Skyway. I've ridden the Dragon several times, and expected it to be crowded on a holiday week, so opted for the latter. That was my "mistake of the day"! They were maintaining the roadway, and had one lane shut down well into the commitment. We had to wait for a "pilot car" to come from the other direction and escort us thru the construction zone... at 25 mph! So after a 15 minute or more wait, you got a 3-4 mile trip in super-slo-mo. The pilot car driver would stop and hand things off to the construction crew, swap their passenger for another, etc. For a guy on a schedule, it could kinda get on your nerves for sure! One of our riders tried to bribe the stop sign holder to let him go thru without waiting. She refused, but then, he only offered her $5. So after we got by the construction zone, the fog and rain came in. It was SO foggy that I had to look down to see the center line and edge lines. I had no idea what kind of corner I was coming into, could not have seen a bicyclist traveling in my lane until I was upon him even though I was going only 30 mph. One of my greatest fears is wet pavement, and throw in that you could not see anything, and it was over the top. The only good part was that I knew that nobody was ahead of me, going my direction, so once I got out of the rain and fog at lower elevations, I rode pretty aggressively. I expected it to ruin my day (added time), but it only turned out to add about 20 minutes to that segment.

    As of this point, I completed yesterday's rally (official title) in 2nd place, with the best time set for one segment. Today's times are not all in as of my last verification, but it appears that I may have completed today's rally in 2nd place as well, with different guys taking top spot yesterday and today, and setting the top time between CP1 and CP2 again. (Yesterday's top guy blew up his Vespa motor today... he's making roadside repairs which will blow that segment, but allow him to complete the other segments from today.)

    The only worthwhile picture I got was the landmark Stecoah Diner just before The Dragon.

    image_74528.jpg


    Tomorrow's ride is one of the shorter ones, only about 277 miles from Lebanon TN to Jackson, MO.
    #21
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  2. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    #22
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  3. RoaringTodd

    RoaringTodd Adventurer

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    subscribed! This is definitely one of my top thing to do. Way to go. Two of the Philly area riders are in the race as well.
    #23
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  4. cheapeto

    cheapeto Adventurer

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    Best to you man!!
    I have followed this race for a few cycles now, of course thinking I'd love a go at it.
    I'm a fairly new old rider, and I do want to give it a shot, on my Honda Big Ruckus, in 2018.
    After my first tour ride, I found a pair of ear plugs to help me greatly with wind noise fatigue. It was startling to me how much it helped.
    Stay upright and have a blast man!! I'm pulling for you all!!
    #24
  5. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    Most of us waited out the worst of it butBill was an early departed. Some of the roads around Checkpoint 2. My shortcut was a washout literally with 5' of the road I was using as a shortcut had fallen into the culvert. I aka discovered that I can ride the Sport City through 5" of water. Riding through rocks that completely cover the road can cause your GOS to come out of its cradle. That the Garmin 660 can survive a drop at speed.
    #25
  6. LM15

    LM15 Adventurer

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    Yes, the Garmin 660 is very tough as I also had one fall out of the cradle at about 45mph. Glad to hear you are doing fine Cheryl.
    #26
  7. ccrider122

    ccrider122 Adventurer

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    You people are a bunch of nut jobs...just sayin.

    Have fun and keep it on at least one wheel. Stay safe and good luck on your journey.
    #27
  8. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    What a day!

    It was raining harder than I wanted to start out in, so my support driver (Duane) and I dried off the Helix with a hotel towel, checked the oil (did NOT use the hotel towel) and added some. When we went for gas in the truck and Helix, I noticed a vibration that felt like a tire... click, click, click. I checked them over at the gas station, but no issues were noticed. Duane has been leaving later than I have, but today said that he wanted to be closer to following me, so he and I left at the same time, heading out of Lebanon TN on I40 west to the 232mm exit, then north. He was a couple cars behind me at the exit, and I squeaked thru the light at the end of the ramp, then 2 successive yellow lights. He didn't make any of those, so was quickly at least 1-2 miles behind me. He called me to ask where I was, and to let me know that he had a cop behind him so he was definitely running only the speed limit. While we were talking, I felt the life go out of the drivetrain and lots of flopping noises. I had virtually no paved shoulder, and even less grass to pull off (steep embankment on both sides of the road). I had just passed a side-road when the drive belt shredded itself, and so coasted to a stop, hoping that there would be a driveway or something. No such luck! Semis were passing me as I tried to push forward to see where I could get to some safety. Well, that was a very good time for that cop to appear. He turned on the lights and gave me needed safety! I told him that Duane had just passed due to no place to stop, and was turning around at a gas station up the road. We have a motorcycle rail on the back, but it loads from the passenger side and, as I said, there was no berm from which to load. The cop said that he'd stop all traffic both ways for us to load, which he did. I barely strapped it down using only a Canyon Dancer harness strap... which was NOT enough! I pulled slowly away with it on the rail and it was bobbing and weaving like a partygoer at Mardi Gras. It eventually fell to the front with the handlebar leaning against the liftgate glass. We got to the side road I mentioned earlier and found a place we could pull off, unload and look at the issue. I pulled the side cover off, and sure enough, the only thing left of the belt was the outer band! I had a spare Honda brand belt, but you have to take the variator apart to install it, and I don't have the magic Honda special tool to hold the variator by the fins to do it. There was no way that one of us could hold the variator while the other of us removed the nut with a socket. I had an air impact and compressor, but no electricity where we were. We loaded back up, added a second set of stabilizer straps, and headed for the gas station. No outside sockets for the compressor. As Duane went to a campground next door, I went into a workshop where a Hispanic guy was making molds for creating artificial flagstone (exterior walls). He not only offered to let me use his power, but brought a small compressor and hose out, then invited us inside his shop where we'd have a solid foor and be out of the sun. What a guy! I quickly removed the variator nut and we installed the Honda belt. His shop is located on Highway 109 just north of the Laguardo Recreational Area. I really regret not being able to post a picture of the guy I interacted with. I have since told Duane that' he's the official photographer.

    From breakdown to completion (all of the above), it took an hour, but that was certainly going to blow my time for this checkpoint. Since it didn't matter what time I got to the checkpoint (I was going to get half of the points, which is the minimum) anyway, I just drove leisurely, stop and cleaned up from the repair, called a couple of people... just enjoyed where I was and what I was doing. I almost dreaded seeing the checkpoint come up, as that would mean that I would be "back on the clock" again.

    In the meantime, Duane was doing what support drivers do, calling all the Honda dealers in the upcoming overnight cities to see if anyone had a belt for that model. The parts guy at the Honda dealer in Henderson TN (north side of Nashville) was really helpful after Duane explained what we were doing, and why ordering one fore delivery in a couple of days wouldn't work for us. He went on his Honda parts locator and gave Duane the location of all the dealers who showed one in stock all over the US. Duane made a few more calls and we're getting the belt delivered to a Nebraska hotel from a dealer in Iowa. Overnight shipping was expensive, but options were few.

    In the meantime, I continued to navigate to other checkpoints. At checkpoint 2, which was the state line (KY/TN) in the Land Between the Lakes park, I encountered the worst rain that I've ever ridden it. You could see sheets of rain coming, and when the wind hit you, it would almost blow you off the road. I found out later that many of the riders gave up their quests and got lunch at a restaurant, blowing that segment. That would be a hard decision. I was told that Bill Leuthold continued to ride, as I did. Note that on the SCR web link above, Bill is now shown in 1st place and I've slipped to 3rd even with today's bad luck/good luck. Congrats Bill! If you're in it to win it, that's the kind of commitment you have to have.

    Speaking of other riders, "febail" loaned me is variator wrench tonight so that I could get proper torque on the variator nut. Thanks, Frank! For what it's worth, he broke the belt on his Helix yesterday.

    I did hear that one of our riders crashed out, though know none of the details other than he's probably not continuing the ride this year. The SCR Forums or Modern Vespa probably have more info.

    Tomorrow we ride from Jackson MO to Nevada MO.

    Bob
    #28
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  9. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    To add to Bobs post two vintage riders including Gonzo who was first place at the end of day 1 ended up on the trailer. On day 2 Gonzo replaced his head on the side of the road and yesterday he believed it was the wordford (?) key in his clutch. He was still working to get it going again when I went to bed last night. Three vintage riders have so far managed without problems. You can see the riders with Spots or who are doing phone check ins at http://follow ride.com

    FWIW, this being woken by thunderstorms at a little past 5 am has already gotten old.
    #29
  10. novaboy

    novaboy Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, eh
    Thanks for letting us follow along. The Cannonball is on my to-do list. Maybe in 2018.
    #30
  11. Takin'aTrip

    Takin'aTrip I have miles to go before I sleep

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    This endurance test of man/woman and machine is fascinating. Could this be bucket material for me one day? Maybe I'll go for oldest participant when I'm ready lol. I dunno if I'll ever be, but I'm in and I'm following. Ride on hard chargers!!!
    #31
  12. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    Well Capt'n Gary was in his 80s when he rode the cannonball and is our support driver this year. Managed to update my blog with days 3 & 4 but if you want to know more about how its going you'll have to go there to read it since I'm only writing it up once. ;) Link in my signature.
    #32
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  13. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    Yesterday was a long, tough day and after working on route maps until 12:30am local time (which is 1:30am in "my" Eastern time zone), I got up already exhausted. I had to get Frank Esposito (hope I didn't butcher spelling too badly) his variator wrench back at the 7am drivers' meeting, and that was 15 minutes away from my hotel. Going to that hotel got me going, though, and I credit the whacko Zuma scooter club from Seattle. What would you think if you saw this at breakfast?

    20160708_065201sm.jpg

    Fully outfitted with helmet looks like this:

    20160708_070916sm.jpg

    You can hardly see him, right? Maybe if it was SNOWING and he was in field of COWS!

    This is one of the daily challenges that the Zuma guys had to do. They came up with some crazy stunts, then drew for stunt, rider, and day. Today was his day to wear a ghilie suit, all day. Nobody wanted to ride behind him because it would be like following a truckload of chickens, or a farmer's hay wagon. Tomorrow, a guy has to wear a wedding dress (with his safety gear, of course) and tow a string of cans. Or maybe more than one string of cans. Then the following day, "Big Daddy" (picture below, shirt says it all) has to stop at every McD's that they pass and eat either a cheeseburger, small chicken nuggets or a small shake before they can go on. And he'll probably require a trip to the bathroom after the 2nd or 3rd stop (that may be a side bet).

    20160708_175307sm.jpg

    I'm still trying to figure out the bird, and is that a worm? Maybe "Early bird gets the worm"? You never know with these guys.

    Or what about this guy?

    20160708_175642sm.jpg

    What could he have done to earn THAT? Well, he had the responsibility (challenge?) of keeping some little key chain electronic creature safe on this ride. But he FAILED! During yesterday's rainstorm, he forgot that the device was in his jacket pocket, the pocket that filled with water. Yes, he drowned him. You fail, you have consequences.

    So like I say, when that's going on, you laugh a lot and it gets you ready for the day's adventures.

    As for today's ride, we went from Jackson MO to Nevada MO. Basically, that's across the lower section of Missouri, with lots of curvy roads, not many towns, and not much traffic. And some of the best hills I've ever ridden! Not mountains, but like roller coasters!! I got some video on my Sena, but am not sure I can upload that here! I'll try to figure out if I can extract a few frames as pictures. To give you the experience in the meantime, the roads dropped off like a roller coaster after the first hill. Straight down! I was running "freeway speeds" and when I hit the bottom, it slammed me into my seat (like a coaster!) and I shot up the next hill. The crest of the hill made me light in the saddle, and then we repeated the above about 4 times. It was so great that I was laughing out loud in my helmet.

    I expect tomorrow's route to be easy from a navigation standpoint, with the "trick" being to maintain speed. Stopping for fuel, "nature breaks", and such just costs time. I have a 9 gallon boat tank strapped to the luggage rack on my Helix. I only put about 4-5 gallons in it, which with the 3+ gallon tank under the floor, gives me sufficient range and reserve to run the whole day. I was down to 1 bar at the end of the day today, so with a longer route tomorrow and anticipated sustained high speed, have added another 1/2 gallon of fuel to be safe.

    Bob
    #33
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  14. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    Just got back from picking up my time slip for the day. I found out that I won 2 stages (2 and 3) and the day overall! That was a huge surprise. Places 1 and 2 (Bill, Walt) swapped as well. I don't know how close I am to them at this point, but probably within 25 points. 7 more days...

    Bob
    #34
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  15. TrimSlim

    TrimSlim Where's the chile?

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    Minnesnowta...
    Looks like you guys had quite a start with the wind, rain and lightning. Best of luck on the mighty Helix!
    #35
  16. cabanza

    cabanza Smooth Operator

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    This really looks like a lot of fun!

    Keep those pics coming!
    #36
  17. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    Today's ride was from way down (2/3 down) in MO to Lincoln NE. Basically, through Kansas. Missouri was a nice ride, kind of twisty and rolling (not as much so as yesterday, which was a BLAST!).

    Then you get to Kansas. (Yawn).
    The good: very little traffic, mostly moving 60-70 (cars) on wide 2-lane roads, and plenty of room to pass without risking your life!
    The rest: lots of pasture and cows, a few nice vistas as you get further north.

    The checkpoints were easily found, but there were a lot of options for getting to CP1. Thereafter, pretty much just one route. It would be interesting to know who took which route to CP1 and how times compared. My route looked like a series of stair steps. I chose that one over what Google Maps suggested because the suggested route was 10 miles longer, and Google assumed that I'd be running the speed limit on both. I felt that I could do better than the posted speed on this route, and I was correct. CDWISE got stopped for the same assumption only about 3 miles from the hotel. She explained that this was a charity rally, and some of the beneficiaries. I think she was doing about 55 in a 35 ("reasonable"), but they would have blown her first stage, so she went back, took another picture of the hotel, and started over. Yes, that's legal. You can't do it any time after CP1, but you can do it any time before CP1. (I wish I'd known that when I blew my belt only 5 miles from the hotel a couple of days ago! Live and learn.) Anyway, it made me laugh.

    My Helix always seems to get a 2nd wind about CP2, hard to get up to speed in the first stage. It's getting some new noises, but Helix expert Mike Smith says "nothing to worry about". He gave me some maintenance tips this afternoon that were appreciated. As you look around the parking lot, there aren't many people working on Hondas. I was wide open for about 330 of the 342 miles with the exceptions being the towns. The Helix acts like that's not a big deal. Mileage was down to the point that even with my aux tank (4.5 gallons today), I got to the hotel on reserve. Nerve wracking those last 20 miles! 7.5 gallons for 342 miles is about 45.6 mpg. I usually get about 65 mpg in all-around riding. I'm starting with more fuel tomorrow for a shorter day overall.

    I'm not staying at the event hotel, and am actually about 24 miles away... too far to go back and see how today's standings may have changed. I'm anxious to see them posted, thinking that I may have moved into 2nd because of ignition problems on Bill Leuthold's bike today. I told him that he gets an "assist" on any good outcome for me as he showed me on day 1 how hard you have to ride to be competitive in the rally. I could not stay with him, as he'd gradually pull away. The Helix has freed-up since then, so I'm able to maintain more speed now than I was then.

    Tomorrow we leave Lincoln NE and head to Valentine NE. It appears to be a steady climb all day (1100' to 2800').

    Bob
    #37
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  18. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    Summary after Day 5 (of 11)
    Flyguy has 1400 points.
    Bigkart (me) has 1399 points.

    While I'm not sure about stage wins today, I did win the day overall. I did not expect it to be that close as I was down over 20 points 2 days ago after the belt failed.

    Bob
    #38
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  19. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    What Bob isn't telling you is that he beat me today only because of his handicap an even then it was only by 3 points. :) I'll leave it to him to tell you about his day 6 adventures.
    #39
  20. fuhgawee

    fuhgawee Thats a road?

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    Enjoying your run, here and the blogs :thumb
    #40