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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Douf, Apr 13, 2009.
Technically speaking, yes I was! On the last day of the trip, while you girls were back home tucked up safely in bed after already finishing the trip earlier in the day (come to think of it, the previous day strictly speaking - damn! forget the mileage, I didn't even get the number of days right ), I was still out riding at 2:30 in the morning, attempting to negotiate some of North Western Georgia's more rural backroads after our wonderful law enforcement officials had completely closed down I-75 southbound. On the plus side though, even getting lost when you'd rather be asleep, in retrospect is good for the mileage bottom line.
To be honest though, when starting this write-up I just pulled that 12K figure out of my ass from your initial pre-trip estimate without giving much further pause for thought. But you are correct; although - looking at the mapquest and doing the math - I estimate my cross country solo sojourn towards the end of the trip was maybe good for a couple of hundred extra miles over the final total you guys came up with (taking into account the shorter leg I did to get to the initial meeting point as well), that still only puts me around 11500 GPS miles (you guys actually did 11200 and change according to my figures). Additionally My wildy optimistic KTM odometer had me at a little more respectable figure than did the GPS, which of course in my non Ironbutt calibrated mind was the correct one to use So, if all the planets were indeed aligned, and using a bit of poetic license, maybe I'm not that far away from my optimistic reality (probably not good enough for any kind of official long distance certificate though, eh?).
FWIW my own written distance statistics dissapeared from the tankbag map window somewhere in the deserts of Utah - so if anyone happens to come across a tattered little pad with a bunch of mileage figures in it.
Of Course I Need One Honey
After the initial e-mails exchanged between Gary and I established my participation in the trip, our thoughts turned to bike choice. Gary's V-Strom was more than up to the job, but my traveling companion of choice - the KLR - in Gary's opinion (and he's right) really wasn't suitable for the kind of endurance riding/speeds under consideration. Assuming I needed merely to buy another bike and add the necessary touring accessories to it, I started looking around for suitable candidates. However by the apparent tone of the following message, our noble leader's conscience made a rare appearance and I was given the option of taking the KLR. That being said, Gary's brother Joe (who also owned a KLR) traded his Harley for a GS (as evidenced in the second message below), so even given the potential to take the Kawasaki, visions of being marooned on the side of some desolate road peppered my imagination :eek1 and consequently a new bike was still the only perceived option of any merit.
Subject: Re: Bike Choice
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2005 13:43:00 -0400
I've been thinking and with the all the trouble hooking up a fuel cell to a fuel injected bike for one trip is crazy and I think it's not fair
for me to ask anybody to do so( I still plan on doing it because I think I'll get a lot of use out of it in the future, I'm at 95% on doing so). But I will ask that the fuel stops be as brief as possible.
On another note if you can keep the KLR at 75 mph (GPS 75= about 78,79 on the bikes tack and around 5,500 rpm's) for thousands of miles everyday for two weeks god bless you and you are more than welcome to use it on this trip. Keep in mind that's a lot to ask of that bike. The choice is yours.
I'm sending this to Joe too and I don't think he would be OK with doing those rpm's for two weeks but keep in mind we have to at least go a constant 75 not 70 or 72 at least 75 (78,79 on bikes odo.). I don't want to start this trip and 1 to 2 or even 5 days later a KLR is staying back and slowing the other down YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND, :eek1 (that goes for blood and water) so choose a bike you don't mind going these speeds. On my KLR I get 225 to a tank when going 65, when going 75 all I get is 175 to a tank. So a aux. tank is not a bad idea seeing all you have to do is tee off the gas line on that bike.
BOY I feel better now!!!!
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2005 8:38 PM
Subject: New Bike
Joe and I went to a great BMW dealer in N.H. saturday to test ride a few models. Well Joe traded his Harley for a new 05 1200 GS w/ abs, side and top cases,crash bars,etc.He's in for Prudhoe bay.
All that remained was the relatively simple task of convincing the wife-a-saurus that anther two wheeled purchase was really necessary for this endeavor - doh! Yeah, right! How do you convince a woman who knows very little about two wheeled machinery that I don't already have something that's eminently suitable for the task? - and in her eyes I do seem to be quite well equipped without the need for further financial embarrassment.
'How about the KLR? you've already been half way across the U.S. on that one. It's got a complete set of luggage all ready to go and you've spent a lot of time getting it just how you wanted it. I'm sure it'd be great'
'Ummmmm. Gary says it's too slow, honey'
'Well what about any of these others - surely one of them would do the job'
'Honey, Gary says they all suck - I need a new bike'
After a few weeks of enforced celibacy, :huh we were still at a total impasse. Exactly what would rectify this situation was beyond my comprehension, until - idly looking through the paper one day - I noticed that BMW had it's new 3 series on the market. A little car shopping, the rough end of $35K later and the bike purchase was on.
'Honey - look at my lovely new bike'
'Yeah whatever - I'm going for a drive in the Bimmer'
So, in what was an extremely expensive final week of the year, I became the proud owner of a new 950 Adventure and my wife got a 325i for her troubles. :eek1
Buying the KTM, I had unquestionably fallen hook, line and sinker for the Austrian marketing hype. I'd been looking at a GS and was ready to pull the trigger, until the sales flunky - with all his talk of 'electronic this and canbus that' - managed to convince me that this needlessly complicated contraption would be an absolute liability were any unforeseen backwoods mishap to occur. No; I needed something simple, something basic, a more powerful KLR actually. This KTM - carburated, normally aspirated brakes, no unecessary electronic excessiveness and proven in the great deserts of North Africa would be just the thing I'd need. It surely must be eminently reliable - given the abuse hurled at it in race guise; and simple to maintain too, since many a piste-side repair must have undoubtedly been hastily performed. Well, in retrospect, the only thought that comes to mind is: 'YOU DUMB STUPID BASTARD'
Anyway - oblivious to what niggling relationship issues lay ahead for the KTM and I - after a few weeks spent diagnosing a mysterious oil leak (turned out to be an incorrectly torqued oil pressure switch), I enthusiastically set about plundering the aftermarket for enough (obviously indispensable) accessories to turn my baby into a Rolling French Cathouse (copyright John Burns) of adventuredom.
Spot the difference stock/mod. Gratuitously excessive waste of money starts with Touratech's finest HID and fog lamps, Adv Workshop's headlight guard, Hard Parts' radiator grill, and carbon fork protectors - can't remember the manufacturer.
Oh, we're not done yet, not by a loooooong shot. More unidentified carbon fiber protection, Touratech bashplate and brake reservoir protector, Hard Parts tank guards (loaded with de-rigueur highway pegs) and Powerlet outlet (mounted in side panel - top left)
Still got some money left? How about a Renazco seat? (yes, please) and FMF pipes. Luggage racks (except top case rack pictured) and hard cases come standard this particular year.
Since we're wasting all this cash, might as well know where we're going I guess - Garmin GPS (hardwired - which I'd later regret) and Touratech mount. Having thrown so many worthless accessories at the thing, wife-a-saurus concluded I'd have been probably been happier with a Harley. :ymca Ultimately though, even though I'd added almost every redundant piece of junk possible, I ended up with something about as reliable as congressional sincerity. She's a looker though.
The Fuel Cell
After plundering the aftermarket to within an inch of bankcruptcy, all I had left to show for my efforts was an assemblage of bike + parts that any goober with plenty of money and limited imagination could have put together. In my eyes, the one redeeming feature of the add-on exercise though was the fuel cell. With this puppy on board in place of the topcase and rack, fully gassed at around eleven gallons, the temperamental Orange projectile was capable of inducing well over 400 miles of haemeroid blistering hell between fill ups. :eek1
Fuel Cell and Mount
Mounting Brackets and Modified Rack
Underside of Modified Rack
5 extra gallons inside this rugged plastic enclosure (normally used for circle track racers) - held on by nylon webbing straps which worked great and held the tank very securely
A whole rats nest of AN pipe fittings (that turned out to be a royal pain to source in any concurrent collection of parts), Shut off valve (activated when main tanks are empty - gas is gravity fed - works great. Knob is easy to use even when reaching behind you too), and grounding strap (partly visible) which I diligently routed down to the subframe and tied off; but in retrospect, since it was hooked up to a stud on the plastic filler cap and therefore possessed no form of electrical continuity to the gas, I doubt it was very effective. :huh
Quick disconnect (to allow retention of plumbing on bike) and fuel filter. However, with fueling issues evident on return from the trip (which turned out to be completely unrelated to any of this stuff) I removed the whole installation before commencing further diagnosis.
Modified 'Katoom' luggage rack mated to machined aluminum 6061 brackets and breather tube (routed down the side of the license plate when assembled).
However, as the beast and I really haven't been anywhere of significant note together since the end of this trip, and also as I feel so utterly pretentious ridding down to the local Starbucks with a fuel cell mounted :ymca - this contraption has recently spent its' retirement collecting dust in a darkened corner of my workshop.
Day 1: All Hands To Illinois
After all the planning, second guessing and potential pitfalls avoided, zero hour finally arrived and it was time to hit the road. A lodging location at Rochelle, Illinois was the predetermined destination for this evening's rest stop and of the three of us, I was getting the easy day - if that's what you can call the 785 miles of mainly interstate riding that existed between my home just north of Atlanta and the hotel. The other two guys were having a little harder time of it: Gary was jumping onto his V-Strom, leaving from his home in Massachusetts at 4am, then stopping by his brother Joe's house in Rhode Island, where Joe would be waiting on his GS. The pair of them were then traveling together for the mere 1080 miles that would put them into my zip code at Rochelle.
Gary's V-Strom Ready for the road.
Guess who's done this before?
My departure hour was a relatively sane 6am and, after a false start which saw me return to grab the Camelback that sat temporarily forgotten in my kitchen, the day commenced. As I navigated over the first fairly familiar miles, I felt like I normally do starting a trip of this magnitude: a mixture of excitement and apprehension - knowing I'm about to step into a temporary parallel universe for a couple of weeks and anticipating what potential adventures might lie ahead. One thing that struck me about today's assignment was how much further it was than I had imagined from Massachusetts to the greater Chicago area. Looking at the map without paying too much attention, it appeared that my two traveling companions only had to make a short westerly relocation to get to the hotel, whereas Atlanta seemed to require a journey stretching from almost the bottom of the country all the way to the top.
Joe's GS ready and waiting
It was the first time I had traveled any distance with the fuel cell and even though I wasn't riding tank to tank at this stage, it already had proved to be a useful addition, since with a range of well over 400 miles fully gassed, running out of fuel was definitely something to cross off the list of concerns (in the mainland U.S. at least). It was also my first time using a GPS on a bike, and although it seems so much like second nature these days, at the time it was a total revelation; I immediately wondered how I'd ever managed without it - being able to ride along all day, then zeroing in on the evening's destination without a second thought was such a wonderful capability to have, and it would obviously become even more indispensable as the trip and the distances became more arduous.
Anyway all three of us arrived at the hotel without any major drama - the other two guys had their first taste of rain for a brief 75 mile stretch, but that was about it. We chatted for a while, grabbed a quick snack and then hit the sack early in anticipation of tomorrow's 1100+ miles and a 5am departure. The trip was about to really begin.
Interesting account so far...looking forward to reading the rest! Oh, and post some pics of your studly companions! Hi Joe.
Joe was always wanting me to get a picture of his 'good side' - but I never figured out which one that was
What's with the Rick Astley thing.
BTW, I clicked it too .
Actually quite apart from the Rick-Rolling aspect, it was intended as a bit of a tongue in cheek reference to the tagline of Striking Viking, who is probably one of the most (in)famous inmates on Advrider.com. (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=41699) .....and rather than do another predictably straight-forward travelogue, I had hoped to write up my Alaskan adventure as 'Liking Biking', even working up an outline for a biography to mirror SV's larger than life tale - but in a much less impressive light. (see http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=198252&page=393 and onward for this fascinating insight into what makes the man tick).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o></o>
Anyway, since I don't know SV or have never even met him, I wanted to get Glen's blessing before pursuing any of this potentially irritating prose. I sent him a note a week or two ago, but as I unfortunately haven't heard anything back, I guess I'll let it drop. <o></o>
I gotta hear how this finishes. Subscribed..
Day 2 Rochelle, IL - Regina, SK
To quote a little known proverb from ancient Chinese philosophy: Confucius he say, 'Man with hole in pocket feel cocky all day'. He also say 'Man with hole in two pockets not feel too cocky'........And in the cool crisp air of the early morning darkness that constituted our first eagerly anticipated departure hour, I vaguely remember Joe ferreting around for something in the nether reaches of his pants; but at the time I just put it down to his hands being cold. Anyway old Confucius is possibly slightly better known for the somewhat more cliched 'Every great journey starts with a single step' and although even the great man himself surely didn't have the philosophical insight to contemplate future offerings from the the likes of Suzuki, BMW, KTM et al, his sentiment was never more appropriate than at this particular moment - although our 'steps' were destined to be of the rolling variety.
Feeling somewhat apprehensive as we prepared to depart, I wondered how my mind and body would tolerate the imminent mental and physical ordeal that this trip represented. However, tempering whatever self doubt lay in my mind was the knowledge that, being a veteran of many other types of physical endurance event, I'd encountered enough blistered, chaffed and bleeding body parts, enforced bouts of roadside vomiting and all the other exceedingly rewarding aspects of long distance athletics, to reliably differentiate between real pain and suffering versus just feeling sorry for myself. Gary's extensive Ironbutt resume inevitably had him feeling confident enough, but I wondered how Joe was justifying his current mindset - whatever that was.
FWIW: '07 Marathon stats (courtesy Marathonguide.com) - Masochist is my middle name
What became our morning ritual, involved unwillingly extracting oneself from a few hours of less than adequate deep slumber at around 4am, taking care of whatever intestinal/appearance related maintenance issues were deemed necessary (some of us were sporadically showering before we went to bed), repacking the bikes, suiting up, riding over to the first available gas station - where we would fill up both the bikes and ourselves with whatever unappetizing fare came to hand (and even the gas was questionable in some of the remotest areas) - then hitting the road proper by 5am at the latest. As a side note: in retrospect, compared to this pre dawn gas station grab and go exercise, I can't believe how much whining I did about the comparably gourmet experience of our daily South African Wimpy ritual that recently presented itself on the Four Corners trip. (referenced in post #1 for those of you with short attention spans)
According the the careful time management strategies necessary to repeatedly complete distances of this magnitude, Gary informed the two traveling neophytes that it was imperative we didn't waste too much time screwing around, especially in the mornings. However, as I really didn't like rushing around with too much urgency first thing, my eventual tactics merely involved getting up slightly earlier and - relatively speaking of course - taking my sweet arsed time.
Another aspect of the preparations to carefully consider was the dress code, because what you had on leaving a particular gas stop would be - barring an act of God - what you'd be wearing for the next 300+ miles (and 5+ hours) until the next refueling stop. With the aid of a throttle lock it was possible to change gloves and make other small clothing adjustments, but second guessing the climatic conditions (along with elevation and other temperature related factors) was something that we all studiously contemplated at each stop; and for that very reason, electric gear became indispensable in short order - especially in the early hours. Not too far into the day's proceedings, I also realized that my custom earplugs - although great for an hour or two - were the cause of no little discomfort when used for these extended riding intervals, so they were ditched in preference to the disposable foam type that worked much better (for fatigue related reasons - not to mention deafness- riding without earplugs was definitely not an option.)
Having each consumed the FDA recommended daily amount of gas station junk food and with the bikes carrying in excess of 11 gallons of fuel a-piece, our happy band headed out to start a day populated with mainly interstate mileage, and heading for the Canadian border crossing a little way south of Regina. As is typical with most east coast originating cross country U.S. efforts (and certainly all those that I've been on), a certain element of 'distance dues paying' is required in order to arrive at the payoff which starts somewhere along the front range of the Rocky Mountains. A quick look at a relief map clearly indicates that crossing the Canadian border unfortunately doesn't improve this scenario, so I resigned myself to the prospect of 2 days and 2000 miles of uninspiring travel before arriving at Dawson Creek and the start of motorcycling Nirvana.
'The defendant stands here today accused of the following:
(i) Stopping without requiring gas
(ii) Fraternizing aimlessly during a ride.'
'And if it pleases the court, let me submit exhibit 'a': photographic evidence of the defendant - during a ride - with both jacket and helmet off' (hushed murmurs of disbelief are heard throughout the court)
'And furthermore your honour I have documentary Ebay evidence connecting the defendant to the sale of an Arai XD, which would incriminate the accused in the unspeakable act of riding without a modular helmet.' (gasps of incredulity are heard from the gallery)
- At the Supreme Court of Ironbutt, Gary's IBA membership is revoked and subsequently he's sentenced to have his extensively collection of distance awards burned on the court steps - doesn't seem that worried though.
However as I recall, even before the first tanks of gas were consumed, surprisingly we stopped for a bathroom break. Before the trip, as I've mentioned previously, Gary had led me to believe that the only times we would take any kind of break in the first few days would be either for gas or to sleep - food/drink was not a commodity deemed important enough to make a specific stop for, but instead would be procured on a haphazard basis when at either a gas station or lodging location. So we all marched into the little boys room, shortly thereafter marched back out and, as we stood around the bikes, took a couple of photos of our immediate surroundings. I made the mistake of grabbing a Power Bar for a quick snack and - I have photographic evidence to it - Joe even had the audacity to take his jacket off. Although having instigated the pause in proceedings, I get the impression that in sharp contrast to the current bout of protracted socializing taking place, Gary had imagined something along the lines of: all three of us pulling quickly into the parking area, simultaneously jumping off our still running bikes, sprinting into the bathroom with helmets affixed, taking care of business, running back out, then wiping our still dangling Johnsons on our respective panniers bags before - in one fluid movement - stowing the jewels, zipping up, hitting the gas and peeling out of there in a cloud of smoke and rubber. Reality bites, huh?
No gas, no hotel? What the F%^k are we doing here?
Well, maybe that wasn't quite the twisted scenario playing out in his mind, but apparently once the picnic tablecloth was unfurled, Gary was irritated enough with our insubordination to jump back on his V-Strom and roll slowly out of the parking lot and back onto the interstate. Joe and I eventually followed and although not having a visual on our leader, my GPS - being programmed with this evening's ultimate destination - ably took over as our immediate guide. Shortly thereafter the pair of us came into the Twin Cities region where - assuming Gary would never take a chance in the potential congestion of a cross town route - we diverted onto the ring road. Well what Gary does and what I think he'll do are apparently two different things, because it turned out that he'd stopped to wait for us somewhere in town, and we'd ridden right past him on the ring road. Establishing that this was indeed the case took quite a while however, since, unable to answer our phones due to the road noise associated with riding, we had arranged to use my wife as a point of contact, leaving messages for each other to intercept and, only at the next gas stop did we finally realize the realities of our current predicament; at which point we simply agreed to meet up later that evening in Regina - a decision that would have Gary riding the day's remaining 800-odd miles solo.
Joe (note: still with hands in pockets ) - possibly enjoying a satisfying fart after a leisurely crap - not the stuff that 60+ mph total averages are made of
Without our experienced shepherd to guide us, the perceived level of adventure increased slightly, but we continued in a generally North Westerly direction along the prescribed path in an essentially trouble free manner. As I recall, the mid afternoon temperatures eventually climbed to a fairly uncomfortable level, with the misery of the stifling heat being apparent even while moving along at our cruising speed. Water from the Camelback I was wearing came in useful as a cooling medium as, in addition to taking regular drinks, I sporadically squirted portions of its' contents onto the backs of my exposed hands which, although evaporating fairly quickly, did provide a measure of temporary relief.
'SIR: I have my riding suit on and am ready to go'
'What about yer helmet, you pathetic wonka. DROP and give me 20'
As we proceeded up through the plains of North Dakota, the increasingly rural roads were arranged in a grid pattern, where a period of riding through the farmlands along an essentially straight stretch would be suddenly punctuated by a ninety degree turn and then another featureless straightaway. At 800 miles and counting into the day's ride, a consistent level of concentration was certainly desirable. However eventually we came in sight of the Canadian border and after a long day of riding, we hoped for a smooth crossing. I said 'A SMOOTH CROSSING YOU CANADIAN MOTHERSUCKERS'. Watch this space...........
Ok, I like your style and this looks like an excellent lead-up to some serious masochism so... I'm in for the trip!
Ha! You're in for some serious masochism just reading this drivel, but - even though it's no doubt obvious I need little in the way of encouragement -thanks for indulging me.
hehe ... Phil you never disappoint