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

    Joined:
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    Day 6. Welcome to Valentine NE.

    CopStop1.JPG

    We'll start with the ending, above, then do the catching up part because this was the most memorable. The speed limit on US 20 into Valentine is posted about 4 miles before where this fellow was monitoring "incomings". He was parked behind one of those big towable road flasher arrows and pulled out behind me as I went by. I was hoping to be able to get to my checkpoint to end my stage before having to pull over because the hotel was just around the corner, between 1/4 and 1/2 mile away from where we encountered each other. I saw his lights in my mirror, and saw more speed limit signs... 45... then 35. I slowed down, making sure that the brake light was on and he could observe that I was very law-abiding at this point. I turned on my turn signal but kept going. He blipped the siren. I pulled into a restaurant entrance about 500' from the hotel and quickly snapped a picture (knowing that it's not legitimate for the checkpoint, but just to get the time I was losing). "License and insurance card." As I was pulling the insurance card out of the trunk, which was full of stuff, I look up and see all my fellow riders who were eating dinner at the restaurant just pointing, laughing and taking pictures. The SOD (Soldiers of Destiny, a.k.a. Zuma guys from Seattle) motor by and we all wave.

    Officer Burns: "Are you with them?"
    Me: "Yeah, kinda. You wouldn't mind if I walked to the hotel, took a picture and came right back. Oh, you do? OK, I'll stay right here."

    Officer Burns: "I got you speeding on radar. I didn't know that these would go that fast."
    Me: "How fast?"
    Officer Burns: "I'm not saying."
    SCR rider Ken comes up: "How fast was he going officer?"
    Officer Burns: "I'm not saying."
    Me: "Have you stopped any of my friends today?"
    Officer Burns: "No, just you."
    SCR (Helix) rider Frank walks by nonchalantly holding his phone, obviously getting video. Not at all discrete.
    The hollering continues from the restaurant sidewalk, and I am laughing inside my helmet.
    Me: "You know that this is going to make me famous."
    Officer Burns: "I'm giving you a warning."

    Got my paperwork (no speed noted), shook his hand and we both laughed. Nice guy, sense of humor.

    OK, that ended well, other than that my 2nd hotel picture, which is the official one, is now 8 minutes later. Could have been worse.

    So now everybody is sending me their video and jpgs.

    Bob
    #41
  2. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

    Joined:
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    So now the rest...

    Got the scooter prepped before 7am today, then joined my support driver (Duane) and went to church. Returned to the Baymont hotel (starting checkpoint for today) and found that none of my maps were saved into my phone from all the work I did on them last night. Set them all up again just as backup, because I was writing my route on the inside of my windshield with a grease pencil now (thanks, Ken). Google Maps is often not available at the remote checkpoints, and you have to have an alternative.

    Duane took off while I was setting up the maps. I nearly forgot to take a picture of the hotel (saving the starting time in Exif data) when Duane called and said, "Don't go the way I went... too many stoplights!" I went the way my route map showed me, and had no issues, so I'm not sure what he encountered. As I was almost out of town, I found that the plastic box containing a handlebar switch to pulse the headlight was coming apart. It's hard for me to make an outgoing call via the Sena 10C, but it happed that Duane called me. I told him to pull over and wait for me with a zip tie and pliers. He tells me that he's already north of Seward NE on NE-15. Somehow we miss seeing each other, so I hold it together for the remainder of the day, then wrap it with tape to secure it. It was getting pretty windy with 30 mph sustained winds with gusts were coming from the south. That's a help when riding north (and I had a lot of north riding to do!) but not so much when riding west. It blew me all over the road, all day, when running west, but was the "wind beneath my wings" when going north.

    The route today was pretty much straight-ahead roads with no difficult navigation, just go fast. When I turned in my time at about 8pm, all other time was in. I found that I won stages 2 and 3, but Flyboy is still #1 overall, with Bill Leuthold recovering 2nd place today by just being consistently fast. He's obviously worked out his ignition problem that plagued him the past couple of days. In round numbers, Bill is about 17 points behind Flyboy (Walt), and I'm about 15 behind Bill. Stage 4 wasn't good for me due to wind, and the cop-stop didn't help either.

    I'm not sure if the SCR is beginning to sort itself out for this year. The next 5 days should be interesting!


    Bob
    #42
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  3. TrimSlim

    TrimSlim Where's the chile?

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    Well, only a warning from the trooper-that's good. But so close to the time check-oh the burn! Thanks for the continued updates-have fun, climb well!
    #43
  4. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

    Joined:
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    The word summing up today's ride: WIND.

    It was blowing hard from the time we left the hotel, then was constantly in our face or left side (south, southwest) all day. Signs above the Interstate warned of gusts exceeding 35 mph. When those hit you, you're slowing so fast on a scooter that your body heads for the windshield. Air cooled scooters were overheating. (I think I'm glad that the temp sensor on my Helix is not working. Some things I just don't want to know.)

    The trip was from Valentine NE to Gillette WY. Checkpoints were the NE/SD state line, Mt Rushmore, the SD/WY state line, then the hotel. This was about a 350 mile day, but due to the wind, everybody arrived at the hotel totally beat up. The Soldiers of Destiny ("SOD") Zuma riders said that they could not sustain over 37 mph. Do the math: a 10 hour day of buffeting. And a small seat! But they are definitely tough. See prior pictures, or the one below.

    20160710_072753sm.jpg

    I love the latex skins on their helmets! And when your club t-shirt motto is "Slow. Fun. Dumb." and has a pigeon with a worm on it, well...

    Here's another tough rider. In her day job, she's apparently a bandit.

    20160711_070309sm.jpg


    Our team (consisting of my support driver, Duane, and me) had a very good day. The Helix doesn't rev high, but has torque and a never-say-die attitude. I was, again, wide open from the start of the day to the finish, with the only exceptions being some small towns (yesterday was lucky that I didn't end up with a $200 picture) and when I just HAD to lift for a 30-45 mph corner approaching Mt. Rushmore. There were some climbs that dropped my speed to only about 37, but it just kept pulling. When I checked in my times, I had a solid blue line thru the stages to indicate that we'd won all 4 stages, plus the day (a given when you win all the stages, I guess). Bill and Walt also did well, but according to Walt, I am now in the lead by 30 points. Note that we still have thru Friday for things to happen and change all of that, including a climb to over 9400 ft elevation tomorrow. I'd still rather have that than the wind, though.

    My "Presidents" checkpoint picture:

    20160711_115619sm.jpg

    Tomorrow's route: Gillette WY to Livingston MT.

    Bob
    #44
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  5. cheapeto

    cheapeto Adventurer

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    Thank you for sharing this great ride with us!! I have the greatest respect for everyone involved.
    #45
  6. fuhgawee

    fuhgawee Thats a road?

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    Monday, looked like #98 rider decided to sight see and go to Sturgis :lol3
    #46
  7. milkman67204

    milkman67204 Been here awhile

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    AWESOME!!!!! so great!
    #47
  8. finewayne

    finewayne Adventurer

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    sounds great guys
    #48
  9. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    Glad to hear that you're enjoying the adventure!

    Today was riding from Gillette WY to Livingston MT. The official route took us over the Bighorn Mountains on US14 Alt. The Helix had to struggle to maintain 45 mph up the mountain, and I had to pass several motorhomes, trucks pulling trailers and vans on the way up. It was 42 degrees in Gillette this morning, but warmed up pretty quickly so that my mesh riding jacket with a t-shirt under it was comfortable at the start. I debated about wearing a rain jacket to block wind, or a sweatshirt under my First Gear jacket, but opted for neither because the weather report said it would get to 76. Taking anything off with the phone plugged into a portable (16500 mah) battery, and my Sena 10C into a Battery Tender-based USB charger is a hassle and will take a lot of time, so I just go with the regular stuff. MISTAKE. The mountain goes to about 8500', then down a bit, then to something like 9400' with a fairly steep descent thereafter. I was freezing: body and hands. The view was absolutely spectacular, though, and if you get the opportunity to ride that road (preferably from east to west), I highly recommend it. While I started out taking some pictures with the Sena, it has a bit of a camera delay and traveling the speeds and roads we were, I don't want to leave my head turned to make sure I get the frame I want. I took more video today, so if anyone can tell me how to post video, I'll add a few clips.

    More scooters are beginning to break down, and a few riders are leaving the trek for various reasons. When one takes a motorcycle trip, you really don't think much about highway speeds or hills. With a scooter, though, you're running pretty much wide open all day long (except for an occasional town... with the po-po.) I just my speed though towns based on what the locals are doing. If the limit is 25 mph and that's what they're doing, that's what I'm going to do as a visitor. If they disregard the speed limit, I'll likely do so, too. I did see a couple of cops today, and rumor has it that someone else may have gotten a ticket/warning, but I've not confirmed it yet. The text did name the town that one should be careful traveling through, though.

    Stage 1 was one by Bill Leuthold who has won several stages and is in 3rd place after some spark plug wire issues really slowed him down a couple of days ago. Flyguy (Walt) is still in 2nd. I added a few points to my lead by winning stages 2, 3 and 4 today. Like yesterday, we finished with a strong headwind on I-90, so the win in stage 4 was a real surprise. I was having trouble maintaining 62 mph, and there was a lot of construction with 35-45 mph speed limits. The fact that Montana has an 80 mph speed limit on Interstates does little good for most scooters that are 250cc and less.

    One more thing: my explanation of the points system in the first post? Forget it. I was totally wrong. Points are based on miles in the stage. If you win the stage, you get those points. Winning takes your time and uses a factor to adjust it to a Vespa P200 performance. The Helix has a 1.1 factor because it is reasonably old (1986) but does have a 244cc motor. Others get points based on their percentage of performance as compared to the winning time. Thank goodness for Excel. Mark and Matt just enter the starting time (embedded in pictures of checkpoints) and the timestamp on each checkpoint picture. Excel does the rest.

    Maps are done for the trip tomorrow from Livingson MT to Hamilton MT. We have a lot of elevation changes ranging from a low of about 3500' to a high of amount 9450'. I'll be wearing more for warmth tomorrow!

    Gotta have a picture:

    S10C0097.JPG


    Bob
    #49
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  10. cheapeto

    cheapeto Adventurer

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    I see my tall ugly OEM wind screen for my Big Ruckus would have great secondary use as a grease pencil graffiti map!! Every second of the day, my mind thinks of all you running hard!! Stay Safe, and Thanks again.
    #50
  11. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    Close but not quite on the scoring. Fastest adjusted by handicap gets the same number of points as the number of miles. Then each rider gets the time difference subtracted from the number of miles as their score so say the leg is 100 miles and Gonzo wins like today he gets 100 points if I come in 12 minutes adjusted time behind him I'd get 82. If Bob came in adjusted time 7 minutes he'd get 93. Handicap kills me since mine is 124 while I think Bobs is 108 even though we both ride 250s
    #51
  12. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

    Joined:
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    My handicap is 110, so cdwise was close at 108. The handicap difference allows for the fact that the Helix has a carb and cdwise has fuel injection, among other things, so the Helix cruises at 70 (level ground) and cdwise can hit 85 when the road allows it (speed limit in MT is 80 on Interstates, 70 in most places on state highways that are not within town limits). It all goes back to the Vespa P200 as the standard, and more performance = more of a penalty to keep a level playing field no matter the year or technology. If the Helix has a handicap advantage, then get one for the next event. But be prepared to ride it hard and quit whining about how you're getting spanked by the handicap. Or, just put your concerns in your own blog.

    Another correction to this ride report: rider Gonzo has had a lot of bad luck this year, but has persevered, repairing his machine in the parking lot, on the side of the road, and making do with components available to stay in the rally. He's had to split the case to repair stuff, and he keeps soldiering on! He arrived too late last night to enter his times, so I thought I'd won stages 2, 3, and 4 yesterday. After Gonzo entered his times (this morning?), I found out that he won those stages so my congrats to him! He's definitely earned every point he's gotten this year.

    I tried taking some still shots using a Sena 10C while it was video tagging today, thinking that would work. It doesn't seem to, so no good pictures to post. Bill Leuthold has been getting some great shots of the mountains that are still snow covered, the valleys with big round hay bales. There's lots of fields that are sprinkled, mostly growing grass for hay it seems. I've seen them a lot from the air, but never thought about the fact that these fields aren't all flat like they are in Indiana. The booms travel mostly in circles (sprinkler systems exist for square fields, but there's a lot of added expense and technology to water those corners!) but also up and down as the ground contours, some of which fields are fairly rolling. the tractor tires travel in the same place on every rotation, so tend to gouge out ruts in the field. I could not tell how deep those got, but some appeared to be fairly deep. Roadsides are often mowed and immediately baled in one pass. The grass must be quite dry, becauseif we did that when I was growing up on the farm in Indiana, the bale would would rot and/or catch on fire from the heat of the decaying vegetation. (Think of the steaming piles of landscape mulch.) I've seen barns burned down from the heat generated by wet hay bales. That's never good.

    Lots of hills/mountains today, though not as spectacular as the mountains and vistas from Alt 14 W yesterday over the Big Horn Mountains. If you look at the elevation changes on the scootercannonball.com forum for Day 9, you'll see a huge drop in elevation just before the town of Hamilton MT on MT-93 (approx 7200' to 3500' in 25-30 miles). Some of the corners are relatively open, while others are signed for 30 mph and have washboard pavement from the truck duals scrubbing the asphalt in the corner. Pretty exciting stuff!

    I'm anxious to see points posted tonight to see what Gonzo's update and stage wins today (he had won all 4 stages as of the point of my time entry) do to the results. ModernVespa.com seems to get the updates posted most quickly. As of my time entry, I'd lost one point to Flyguy (Walt) from yesterday, but Gonzo's entry may have decreased my lead since I no longer got "100%" on those stages. Lots of friendships on this first Scooter Cannonball for me: Walt (Flyguy), Bill (WLeuthold), John (ClassicRider), Steve (svhess) and the other Helix riders, Mike (Mike Smith), Frank (febail), Chris (ctopher) and Marty... it will be a lot more interesting to follow the Scooter Cannonball web site now that I know the personalities.

    Matt and Mark have done a great job of organizing this year's rally, planning a route to remember, and keeping up with the administrative duties each evening. As a guy who helps put on kart races, I know that there's a lot of stuff going on administratively while the riders are out eating and planning their next day's ride. Kudos to them!

    Only Day 10 (Hamilton MT to Walla Walla WA) and Day 11 (Walla Walla WA to Mukilteo WA and the ocean!) remain.


    Bob
    #52
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  13. fuhgawee

    fuhgawee Thats a road?

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    Go Bob Go


    :fpalm I'm considering doing this 2018
    #53
  14. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    The ride today only took a few minutes to get us out of Hamilton MT and into some curving roads (US 93 N to US12 W). We pretty much stayed on US12 W for the reminder of the day, and it was fantastic riding along Lolo River for pretty much the whole day. Most corners were suggested at 45-55 mph for cars/trucks, which meant that I could run them at 60-70 mph on the Helix. So the ride today was not about looking down on the valleys 4000' below, but on the curving road. Checkpoints were not hard to find (state line, bridge, state line, hotel) so the day was more about riding. I thought that my stages 1, 2 and 3 went well, but stage 4 presented problems.

    First cdwise and I got behind a truck involved with a road line painting crew. They were driving about 15-20 mph literally watching paint dry! The line in front of us was fairly short (cd was a couple of positions behind the truck, and I was about another 4-5 back) but the slow speed was hard on the Helix clutch. That truck finally turned in a drive way or pull-off, and we rolled into the throttles, losing probably 10 minutes or more. I also got a bit lost looking for a road late in the stage, only to find that Mark had included some dirt riding in the route! A few road the dirt, but I stayed on US12.

    After most times were entered, Gonzo won all four stages for the day. I lost a few points to Walt (Flyguy) so my lead has shrunk to 41 points. If nothing breaks tomorrow, that should put me in a good position for the best time across the country.

    A few pictures from the day along highway 12:

    S10C0049.JPG

    S10C0051.JPG

    Attached Files:

    #54
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  15. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    I was watching my speedo behind that paint drying truck, yes the whole purpose of that extra wide truck was to dry the stripes put down by another truck 2 miles a ahead, and if Bob so ayed 15-20 he was moving faster than I was. A fair portion was spent at 7-8mph and only later went up to 17. Classic Rider was another half dozen behind Bob. Almost everyone I spoke to goy stuck behind that truck.

    I got a bit frustrated by the BMW sports tourers that zoomed past me on 14 a but that may have been a bit of jealousy at how fast they were flying through those twisties. More frustration were the groups of Harley's going 10-20mph BELOW the posted speed. Some of which were unhappy about being passed by scooters. Oh well, had they been riding at least the speed limit they wouldn't have had scooters zooming past, just the sports touring crowd.

    The cannonball is over though final scores are yet to be posted. Folks started heading for home already, some by airplane and others after loading their scoot into support vehicles and getting out of the Seattle area as a first stage to going home. Most who don't live here are spending at least one night recouperating before loading up to head home. Some even has spouses or significant others waiting at the finish line. Local scooter riders hosted a party at Cask & Trotter to welcome SOD guys home and other cannonball riders to Everett.
    #55
  16. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    The final day of 2016 Scooter Cannonball is complete. For the first time in about 12 days, I'll not be up until midnight, posting updates and determining the best routes for the next day's travel. It has been an epic ride, with each day's route having some notable elements in the stages.

    For today's route, I had a couple of options to get to the first checkpoint. (After that, there really weren't any options for route.) One route was about 15 miles longer but Google Maps said that it was 5 minutes shorter. The other was only 91 miles, but supposedly longer time. I decided to take the shorter route because I saw more small towns on the longer route and knew I'd have to ride faster on it. If I rode that fast on the shorter route, I'd be that much better off!

    As I took off this AM with Duane in my support vehicle behind me, I determined that I'd not started my Google Maps routing because it was saying nothing to me in my Sena. I pulled to the side of the city street with Duane pulling in behind me. I quickly launched the route, which was already loaded, and took off. I heard Duane honking and yelling behind me, so glanced back to see him out of the truck, apparently wanting me to come back. I doubled back to check with him and found that the Escape had the left rear tire going down! RESET! Fortunately, if you've not yet reached CP1, you can go back to the hotel and start all over. We left the scooter at the hotel and got some recommendations about tire repair in Walla Walla. We reached the tire store about 7:50am local time, so were first in line for the repair. The tech found a nail in the tread and patched it, getting us back to the hotel just before 9am. Nearly everybody else was long gone since the driver's meeting (rider's meeting?) was at 6am today for those hoping to beat the traffic backups in places like Leavenworth WA. (That didn't work: still backups.) So we headed up the shorter route that went through wheat field after wheat field in the rolling landscape.

    S10C0009.JPG


    I would like to know the acreage in some of these fields, but 300-500 acres would not surprise me. (1 mile x 1 mile is 640 acres.) They were combining the fields using combines that can pivot everything above the wheels to the right or left ("lean"). That does 2 things for them: (1) it levels the straw walkers so that the combine separates the wheat from the trash more efficiently, and (2) it improves the center of gravity, as these are often VERY steep fields. We'd not farm on slopes like that in Indiana!

    We met very few cars and were able to keep a pretty good pace. I'd like to see the raw times for that stage! About half way thru, we were instructed to turn right on Nunamaker Rd. When we got there, I found that it was GRAVEL, and a lot of loose gravel at that! Running a sharply rounded front scooter tire makes navigating gravel like stacking BBs on marbles. It was 5 miles of fear that the front end would either wash out on a corner, under braking, or that I'd have to change lanes for a passing car. I tried to keep it in a wheel track where much of the loose stuff had been swept away, but it was still pretty bad. I saw some tracks from earlier scooters which seemed to be having the same experience that I was having. Fortunately, there were no disasters, but the gravel did slow me up a bit.

    Shortly thereafter, we went through the only town on this stages that was not a checkpoint. The posted speed was 25 mph, which seems incredibly slow after all these miles. And the only car sitting on the street was a white Camaro in front of the town offices. We'd been warned about the speed traps in several of the towns, the worst of which was said to be Leavenworth. 1 mph over there and you get a ticket. They are said to not ever give warnings. Who needs that?

    On the way into the checkpoint town, we passed the local fairgrounds which advertised "Combine Demolition Derby". Had a get a picture of a combine that someone had either left behind for the next event, or abandoned.

    S10C0038.JPG

    When we got to CP1, we found that Mike Smith had gotten a hole in the Helix oil line by rubbing against a spring. They took it off and Steve Hess quickly found a repair shop that was not only willing to fix it himself.

    (continued)
    #56
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  17. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    We proceeded through CP2 (a side road on Hwy 28) to CP 3 (a fire road just past the ski lodge in Stevens Pass). It was COLD, foggy and raining slightly when I got there. Fortunately, we were not at altitude very long so warmed up and dried out pretty quickly.

    S10C0072.JPG

    S10C0073.JPG


    The fog never really got down on the ground, but the rain was exceptionally cold! I saw shops which rented inner tubes and such, but not many takers today!

    After coming off the mountain, traffic was getting pretty intense again. It did no good to try to pass anyone, as there was another car 20' in front of them, and as far as the eye could see. It was hard to just accept it, but that was the only reasonable (healthy) option. I continue navigating US 2 to Everett, and head for the docks which were miles and miles away! When I get there, most of the others are already there due to our late start. The SOD ("Zuma") guys aren't there yet, but I'd passed them many miles earlier.

    Attached Files:

    #57
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  18. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    20160715_151819.jpg

    I get my times checked in at about the same time that Bill and Walt are checking in. Matt says that there are still people who've not checked in, but that the top five places have not changed positions from yesterday. That would have us finishing as follows (ModernVespa.com does not have the semi-official scoring as of the time of this posting):

    Bigkart (me - WOO HOO!)
    Flyguy
    Wleuthold
    Classic Rider
    Motovista

    Since "this is not a race", there are no awards, no ceremonies, no trophies/plaques or certificates. Most of us joined the SOD (Zuma) bunch at Cask & Trotter where the parking lot was full of SCR and local scooters as well. Everybody was winding down, having a good time as it should be.

    20160715_203818.jpg 20160715_203827.jpg
    #58
  19. MondayDad

    MondayDad Adventurer

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    20160715_203841.jpg

    What an experience! It was something I'd dreamed about doing for several years, but never dreamed that I'd even be competitive.... being able to say that I rode a scooter across the country was enough. Meeting new friends, seeing the variation of landscape across the country (in places I'd never been) was an added bonus. Would I do it again? Possible, but not to compete as I did this year. It was very relaxing to just ride and look around on the day that I blew the belt and stage 1... I think I'd just like to enjoy the ride next time, rather than getting frustrated with each red light, or car that is going slower than I'd like (looking for the dotted yellow and no oncoming traffic in order to pass). Hanging out and seeing the sights with long-time friends, new friends, or family. What could be better?

    So, time will tell! A lot can change in 2 years.

    20160715_153052.jpg

    Bob
    #59
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  20. FR700

    FR700 Heckler ™©®

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    Congratulation, and thanks for the report.
    #60