RATATAT (riding ancient trash across trans american trail)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by murfalert, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. murfalert

    murfalert Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    116
    Location:
    near Birmingham, AL
    We arrived back at the campsite at 8:30pm, yes 8:30, not 10:30 or midnight. Since there was no electricity we left the headlights on the VFR lit while we got stuff around to get the fire going. They were on maybe three minutes when I guy from across the campground hollers that we need to shut the light off. Seriously? We're keeping you up at 8 flippin 30? Is the entire place supposed to shut down, extinguish fires and lights, climb into our tents and be silent- at 8 flippin 30? But alas, being the kind hearted motorcyclists we are we complied. Though we did burn the fire while we whispered politely. We did drink a beer or two, then left one full so it could leak onto the blankets while we bounced around the next day- you know, just for old time's sake. In the morning we each showered like good boy scouts, waiting patiently while the single shower was vacated so we could stand (not together mind you) on the cold dirty concrete while the tepid and limp stream wetted us, one square inch at a time. After our wet tshirt towels were put away with the rest of our junk we hit the road.

    I knew VFRboy was going to be in an all fired hurry to get to Fort Smith before his tire flattened again so I suggested he leave as soon as he was ready. So he and Gooseguy took off for the town gas station to fill the tire back up then to take I40 to Fort Smith. 20 or 30 minutes later I left headed for the same dealer where VFR would buy his tire. I got to skip the last 5 miles to town and back that way and therefore I figured I'd be close behind them. I could then help if the tire flattened on the interstate. Worst case I could strap the VFR wheel on the back of Ollie while the rider rode bitch (seemed fitting) on the Guzzi (seemed fitting). I was cruising along I40 30 minutes later watching for bikes on the berm that needed help. When off to the left there arose such a clatter I just had to look to see what was the matter (Christmas cartoon flashback). Here they come, at some speed well over the posted limit of 70 (I have no proof of that occifer, I have no speedometer)- with- a flat rear tire. He later told me it kept the tire "inflated" to ride that speed. I suspect the pressure was the same, but the centrifugal force did keep it expanded- though hot, real hot. But even when off the interstate he rode the darn thing like it was fine, and it was flat as can be. He's not normal...

    The Yamaha dealer there in Fort Smith was great. They got him right in and fixed him up. And let us other two change our oil in the parking lot. Ollie holds two quarts with no filter, so he was due (hadn't used a bit in 1600 miles so far!). The Guzzi leaked enough that I think he was wasting his time; that oil was cycled regularly anyway.
    [​IMG]
    We walked down and got breakfast while they finished the tire. Then we headed to Oklahoma.
    #41
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  2. murfalert

    murfalert Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    116
    Location:
    near Birmingham, AL
    Our goal had always been to reach OK. Somehow one of our party got that confused with reaching Colorado, which would have been a real stretch with our time constraints. Therefore, after the new tire and oil changes we headed a little further west. We actually dripped into OK off the interstate right away, but that would never do. We couldn't get a good picture by the state sign, and we didn't want evidence we had used the big road. We had to find another way. Through parts of Fort Smith that most people don't want to see we went, zig zagging around to find another bridge across the river. A little way south we found it, a bridge to a sign we could pose (we're all poseurs at heart) under for a photo op that cost us $5 from a local guy.
    [​IMG]
    We had made it. And nary a Uhaul was rented in over 1600 miles. I had told my wife the Harley may not make it out of North Carolina, but it had no issues besides a lazy starter relay once, some worn footpeg rubbers, and a lost tank badge screw. It was a peach. The Guzzi; well you've heard those stories. It wasn't a peach. And the VFR was of course trouble free despite having by far the most miles. You can't really blame it for the tire going flat except that same tire would have probably been fine on the HD where it couldn't get abused by 100hp. Not to mention I think the Harley is lighter than the Honda (that thing is a sow). Victory was ours, in hand, not to be taken- we had indeed made it. No crashes, only 1500 u-turns, and nothing broken we couldn't fix with tools we carried (again, not including the tire). We didn't even hardly get wet! And it only took a week, a leisurely fun week. Now we had to turn our faces toward home and reality. The route plan, and I use that term very loosely, was to take back roads home as much as we could.
    #42
  3. DOD

    DOD idiot dirt rider

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,690
    Location:
    Phoenix
    :lol3

    Great ride!


    -dod
    #43
  4. WaywardSon

    WaywardSon Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,665
    Location:
    Somewhere East of Omaha....
    Don't be stopping now:deal
    #44
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  5. ridetheblock

    ridetheblock Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Oddometer:
    20
    When did we get so friggin old?!? That grey hair looks ok for a Harley rider, but not a crotch rocket and bright red Italian masterpiece!!!

    So as clear proof of clean living, when we finally did split up out of Memphis on the way home, the Guzzi stayed completely dry on its way to scenic and beautiful southern Ohio (and yes I took back roads, which were excellent the whole way) while both the Harley and jap junk got a thorough dousing on the interstates with remnants of hurricane Harvey as they tried to make time through the storms on the way to Birmingham and North Carolina. I always said God doesn't have the balls to rain on me...

    Thanks for doing the ride report Murf! Now I don't have to remember anything, I'll just look here!
    #45
  6. murfalert

    murfalert Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    116
    Location:
    near Birmingham, AL
    It should be noted that while being the oldest- gentleman, of the bunch I have the least gray hair. I should be ignored, however, that I also have the least hair. Now it was time to head home, as I mentioned. This was Tuesday, if I remember correctly, and probably noon or so before we turned east. We pretty much split the state of Arkansas down the center on a two lane highway. The northern part of that state, through the Ozarks was a lot like riding the Smokies. The center of the state is a lot like riding through the middle of Kansas, with less wheat and more beans. We chugged along for hours on roads straight and flat, almost longing for a town to go through to break the monotony. I recall locking the throttle on Ollie and sitting back with arms hanging loose or crossed for probably 10 miles or more with no need for steering beyond a slight lean to compensate for windage. It wasn't a bad ride mind you, just not exciting or challenging. We hammered down some miles that day with only a couple butt breaks for water or coffee.
    The cupped hard leather seat on the Harley wasn't nearly as bad as it looked- I've had less comfortable seats on newer, fancier and more expensive bikes for certain. The official Alaskan sheep skin pad I used sporadically was a help though. That pad started life as a sheep, then was cut down to fit an 1150 GSA large solo seat (yes, I spent time on the dark side; yet am still married- to a wonderful woman), and has now been reduced to about a 10" oval. The open face helmet I wore is only used for the Harley and a hopped up XL75 (good for about 70mph now!) that gets ridden about twice a year (go back to the True Grits Fun Run mention earlier in the thread). I'm not a fan of the exposure of the open face for financial reasons (I spent $5k on braces a few years back), but i like the air- most of the time, and it gets style points on this bike. But at 60 on an unfaired bike after many hours it does get tiring. The VFR didn't seem to mind the drone at all, and even the Guzzi didn't complain; it just wasn't too bad of a ride despite the road. We stopped just west of Memphis where it seemed logical to head our separate ways the next day. Since Goose was headed to Ohio, VFR to the far end of NC, and me to Alabama. Again there was no roll away bed at the hotel so we had to be scientific in choosing the slob on the floor.
    [​IMG]
    As mentioned above we left our separate ways for home the next morning. I'll let the others tell of their trip as Goosey did. I went through a dismal part of Memphis headed southeast. And about the time I hit Mississippi the bottom fell out of the Hurricane Harvey sky. I donned the rain suit, and before I leave that topic I need to ask; what dufus ignorant clown dumbass makes a rain suit, an expensive rain suit my wife bought as a gift, that has a baggy liner that's two sizes larger than the outside? Obviously that DICD only put it on and off for trial while wearing his yoga pants and nylon socks while laying on a clean carpeted floor in a plush suite somewhere. Boots with a slight heel, through the pant legs, on the road side, in the pouring rain with semis passing at 75mph? I doubt that real world scenario ever entered the guy's so called mind. And it had to be a man, a woman would have been smart enough to ask the best design and not so proud that she already knew all the answers. Back to the rain. It was a bitch. I don't mind rain normally, in fact it's fun sometimes. With a good and complete helmet the wind blows the water off the visor and visibility is sometimes better than in a cage. But with the stylish open face and cheap (as in 12 pair for $13 delivered) sunglasses at 60 mph with very dark and heavy cloud cover I was not just miserable, but dangerous and in pain.
    I told myself that it's just some pain as the heavy rain hit my mug at 60, and 'pain is not worthy of rule'. But I was almost completely riding blind, I couldn't see anything but a tail light now and then, and maybe a white line briefly. This wasn't going to work. If I was able to hold my hand in front of my cute cheeks it was bearable, but I still couldn't see, and my arm tired pretty quickly. Logic told me the road wasn't going to disappear on me, it was a highway after all, so if I followed what glimmers I had of trucks and lines I'd be fine as long as grandma didn't hammer the brakes in abject fear. Which reminds me that I haven't ever mentioned Ollie's eagerness to cooperate with inertia despite carrying three brake (I use that term loosely) rotors. This bike was evidently intended to gain speed and reduce the same in a vaguely controlled gradual manner void of adrenal gland simulations- that is until you need to stop quickly. Then you pucker! But you don't stop fast, ever, not by these brakes. And since I was cheap and bought $12 Chinese pads for the front that boycott work in moisture I was paying very close attention to what happened in my 12' field of vision.
    I managed to keep moving until Tupelo where I hoped to find relief. Fortunately about 6 miles from where I pulled off there was a dealer that just opened for the day's business. And he had one, just one, snap on drop down visor for an open face helmet. $27, and worth $270 to me. After I left a half gallon of rain on his floor I rode off in bliss. No pain, and I could see! The rain kept on for a couple more hours or so but I didn't mind so much now.

    The balance of the ride home was uneventful. I never did pull the rain suit off because the skies never really cleared. And because I didn't want to lay on the ground and wrestle with Dipstick's poorly designed pants. It was good to be home, but a bit sad because epic can't go on forever. If it did it wouldn't be epic, it would be normal. As for Ollie I still have him a month later, which goes against Goose rider's prediction. It's very rare I keep a bike a year, and since the Harley was bought just for this trip he figured it would be for sale soon. But I've bonded a little, and aged a lot, so we may remain a team. No commitment though... Would we do it again? Heck yes, and the bike choice made the ride. I recommend it, in fact, if we did this portion again it would need to be on Vespas; just to change it up a notch.

    2019 is the western half for us. But on different bikes.
    #46
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  7. ridetheblock

    ridetheblock Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Oddometer:
    20
    The ride home from Memphis for me was the best roads of the whole trip. Great roads through Land Between the Lakes, snaking northeast around Bowling Green and near Frankfort. Then the next day the final couple hours home was on some roads (KY 62 and some smaller side roads) I haven't taken before and wish I'd found years ago - excellent twisties from Frankfort up to the Ohio river crossing in Maysville. Goose ran great and didn't do anything wrong - it really shines in sweepers, where its reluctance to quickly change directions isn't noticed. The awesome Vee Rubber DOT knobby on the front was now cupped pretty badly but still sticking fine at a 6/10ths pace. Made it to Kentucky's Bourbon Trail and got a nice flask of Four Roses to enjoy at the hotel for the last night of the trip.

    It was a great ride, and definitely the "unconventional" choice of bikes made it better than if we'd brought something more suitable for the conditions. The bikes forced a fairly relaxed pace but it was still interesting/challenging riding at points. I ride less and less as I get older, but after a ride like this or the occasional blast in the woods on my YZ125 I always am reminded why I love motorcycles so much.

    Can't wait until the western portion of the TAT! I think the scenery and terrain on that route will be epic enough without adding in the challenge of riding old streetbikes, so I expect we'll end up on bikes more fit for the task. Maybe I'll keep my Husky 610 another couple years after all... Or maybe I'll just be smart and buy one of them new-fangled fuel injection type bikes. KTM 690 looks cool....
    #47
  8. Motero2

    Motero2 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Love the make it harder to make it memorable mind set. Thanks for the story.
    #48