Another Rookie Went to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by 72 Yamaha RD350, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    If you are unfamiliar with the area, we had ridden the 28 miles from the north end of Duluth to Two Harbors and taken the scenic old road which put us right at the water's edge most of the time. The road is also curvy although the speed limit is often 35-45 mph. The view is beautiful but the image of November gales off the lake is never far from mind. Summer is definitely the time to be here.

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    MN-61 continues north of Two Harbors alongside the lake for 120 miles all the way to Grand Portage at the Canadian border. It would have been a great day to ride it but our turn-off was only 33 miles away. There are three tunnels on MN-61 in this section and their unique shape provided aural feedback from the Milwaukee Eight that I had never heard before.

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    A large taconite loading plant is the signature facility of Silver Bay. The University of Minnesota developed the process of refining taconite containing low-grade iron ore into commercial grade iron ore pellets which are also called, confusingly, taconite. The pellets are shipped on Great Lakes freighters to the various steel mills in the region. The Edmund Fitzgerald was loaded with over 26,000 long tons of taconite when she went down near Whitefish Bay. In this satellite view one can easily pick out the harbor and the loading facility at higher magnification.

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    There happened to be a ship at the dock being loaded the day the satellite took this overhead picture. (The boom sticking out to the right is used for unloading the pellets but it needs to be out of the way during loading)

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    We turned left onto MN-1 shortly after Silver Bay and left the 72F comfort of Lake Superior behind us.
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  2. Samspade

    Samspade Been here awhile

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    I really enjoyed our stop at Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. It gave us a realistic perspective of how dangerous Superior can be in November. We learned that steel mills pay double for a November shipment. Hence why so many boats risk it. It’s also why 90% of the shipwrecks are in November.
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    (Sorry for the hijack)
  3. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    No apology necessary. It's on topic. I enjoyed our visit to the museum to (in 2018). I was emotionally moved by seeing the bell.
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  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    We weren't two miles onto MN-1 when I began to sense the temperature increase rapidly. We stopped in Finland to top off our fuel tanks.

    Finland.jpg

    The curves shown on the map were real. What isn't apparent on the two-dimensional map is the elevation changes. If I had known the road was going to be this good I would have started an elevation profiler on my smartphone. In retrospect, the elevation changes along MN-1 are what make it possibly the best motorcycling road in Minnesota. Most of our curvy roads run alongside rivers which are obviously flat. This road has a variety of curves with no landscape features to indicate the radii. There is no river, river bluff, or mountainside in your peripheral vision to suggest how tight or wide the curve is going to be. The road is largely cut through a forest without adjacent clear-cutting. This is a road where you cannot see into the curves - only a sign warning you of a curve and the pavement ahead disappearing to either the left, right, up, or down.

    I wanted to charge hard into the corners, but I knew better. Many of them are tight with 25 and 35 mph warning signs and no hint of where the apex might be. Others are discernibly more broad with 45 mph warning signs. Some curves are at the crest of a hill while others are at the bottom of a narrow valley. One would have to run this road a few times to become familiar with it.

    This is moose country. RGU ran a quarter to half mile in front of me so that I could record the ride on my GoPro. He later said, "I was riding with my eyes peeled for deer!" I told him, "This is moose country and my plan was to low-side underneath one if it stepped out in front of me!"

    I asked RGU how many frost heaves he hit hard - and he said about a dozen. I hit about a half dozen hard enough to remind me of the AlCan and on one of them I felt the suspension bottom out and the rear rim hit the asphalt. I should have dialed in three or four turns of pre-load to offset the load I was carrying. Fortunately, none of them were in the middle of curves where upsetting the suspension would have created a brown pants moment.

    The further north we got in this one-hour run the hotter and muggier it became. We had left a comfortable 72F in Silver Bay and the temperature was clearly achieving the 88F forecast for this area. Also present was the smoke from adjacent forest fires. The sky was gray and dense enough to hide the sun - the air had a slight scent of smoke but not enough to burn my eyes.

    I was enjoying the road immensely and putting as much lean and speed into the curves as I felt safe but the heat was draining me of energy. I was also feeling a pain in my right shoulder and upper arm - a rare but occasional reminder of fracturing my humerus in 2018 while skiing. I had not bothered to note the odometer or time when we left Finland. We couldn't be far from Ely now. I recognized the bridge over the Kawishiwi river from my canoe trip in 2004 and guessed that we were ten miles from town. If I had not been so tired I would have stopped to take a picture. Where I had comfortably paddled a canoe under the bridge in 2004 was a river of exposed rocks with little water.

    RGU dead reckoned to Motel Ely - our place for the night. We checked in at 4:13 pm and hauled our few things up to the room where he crashed asleep for three hours - clearly worn out by 300 plus miles and the heat. I held off a nap for a few minutes before likewise falling asleep.

    I rustled RGU awake at 7 pm for dinner. We walked down main street checking various restaurants before settling in at the Boathouse Brewpub. I captured only a couple photographs on our walk back to the motel

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    Ely.jpg

    Honda.jpg
  5. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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    Doing ok Bub? Things seem to be in the summer doldrums around here lately.
    That's what I get for going on vacation - Fall is the next best thing to look forward to
    Ick.
    :)
    PM me if you're headed our way anytime in the next few months !
  6. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Yea, I'm doing fine. We're still getting over the loss of Orson the Bernese Mountain Dog. He left a big hole in our lives. Thanks for asking.

    I'm waiting on something special in the mail for the next post in the thread. I was hoping it would arrive today but maybe tomorrow.

    On a separate note, all the pieces for the King Tour Pak for Elvis have arrived except for the King Tour Pak itself. I'm hoping it arrives next week.

    We've got a daughter getting married in September. We don't currently have any traveling or riding plans until after the wedding.

    Like always, I have thoughts rattling around in my head but we'll have to wait to see what falls out. I'm hoping for a big ride before the end of the season. Elvis hit 5,0000 miles already for this year so he got a brake fluid flush and a crankcase oil change last Friday. He's got enough rear tread and brake pad remaining to get us to winter.

    I should ride somewhere tomorrow because the weather is going to be perfect. Maybe Mrs.RD will suit up for a ride. We've had extreme heat and wildfire smoke this week but it seems to be blowing out finally.
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  7. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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    Good luck with the wedding - those things can get a bit stressful (Ok, so the women folk can get a bit stressed and that gets US stressed) :)
    We had a pretty fair amount of that fire smoke even this far east since we've been home from where the fires were.
    Seems to have subsided a bit but it was worse than I ever remember for quite a few days (I DID live away from here for the first 20 years of adulthood so it could have been similar / worse in the past)

    Awesome news on the King Tour Pak! Hope it gets there problem free and you get it all hooked up quickly.
    Will it have sequins and rhinestones and a big high collar? It is Elvis after all :)

    The "new" to me RT just went over 4,000 since purchase (only 1200 on the Wee Strom this year - the poor thing)

    I need to do all the services a BMW shaft bike needs. I am waiting until it cools off a bit for a while but won't go much past mid Sep.
    (Doing Oil and Filter sooner). It's all those things that supposedly got done by the PO (retired motorcycle repair shop owner).
    I just like to kinda have to create a "KNOWN to me for sure" baseline. (And it helps me get to know the bike as well)

    I'm waiting on a call back from the Indy (Noblesville) area BMW Dealer for my fuel pump recall work.
    They had to call it into BMW who then supposedly sends the parts, then they'll call me. I hope it's a ride it there and wait thing.
    It's over 70 miles away and I don't want to have to go back. PLUS, I-70 is closed downtown making 465 a big mess and I hated riding on 465 before it was a mess. (Planning to go via secondary road - Greencastle/Brownsburg/Zionsville/96th )
    We'll see what happens.

    I am sorry -- didn't mean to make my reply to your reply all about me.
    Anyway - have a great weekend!
    J
  8. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    @jdfog2: Your reply was fine except for the rhinestone part - now I have that stuck in my head. If I had ordered the Vivid Black without the Silver pinstripe I probably would have gotten it by now. But Elvis has a very subtle Silver factory pinstripe on the tank and saddlebags that give him a touch of class I find endearing. (Nine out of ten admirers would probably tell you he doesn't have any pinstriping.) The pinstripe is an extra $50 and possibly an extra few weeks delay during this Covid supply chain era. Whatever. It's been hot as Hades here and I can wait a few extra weeks for it.

    I ride a five-mile section of our outer loop every afternoon on my way home. (I ride a different way into work.) It's not my favorite part of the ride but it saves me a couple minutes and is likely a bit safer than the alternative.

    I don't ever remember fire smoke in Indiana when I was growing up. Just that sweltering summer humidity and those occasional thunderstorms that could turn day into night in the middle of the afternoon.

    I have in mind to do a hyper mpg run on Elvis in the morning to see how high of mpg I can get. He's a steady 43 mpg in mixed riding but I questioning how high it would go holding 2,200 rpm in fourth gear.

    I hope the RT is treating you well. They are such a great bike. Come to think of it... I'm really surprised the professor doesn't ride an RT. :lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3
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  9. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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    The RT seems fine except EVERY great once in a while (twice so far) she will flame out when approaching a stop after I have been "robustly" (cough, cough) applying the throttle. And she's hiccupped twice when taking off from stops, also after having just stopped after some spirited acceleration. Restarts right away but that's still akin to the feedback I once received from an Army Colonel who had a bit of a chapped ass because I wasn't wearing a hat in a flight operations area. (Which apparently he was confused about but once he stepped in he couldn't get untangled. )

    If I recall it was something like "less than optimal behavior and a bad example."

    I thought once I got off the WEE Strom that behavior would cease. Seriously, I hope the fuel pump replacement is related to this issue and solves that weird problem.

    I think the Prof may be more of an R with a windscreen kinda man.
    "Zippy, not overly done, a hint of scantily clad, but in a classy manner."
    Short version: "Exhilarating, yet presentable at a dinner party."
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  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    I'm a big fan of the R1200R series. I test rode a new one in 2016 at a dealer near me who had the factory demo truck. I know they don't sell many here in the US every year. And it is no surprise due to the price. A brand new R12R is listed at $19k. That's not a whole lot cheaper than a new RT.

    Speaking of said dealer. I was out yesterday morning to get a haircut and was passed by six bikes, all from the 1970's, on the curvy river road headed the opposite direction. Three were early 70's enduros and the other three were street bikes. I thought it unusual. And then in the afternoon youngest son and I were headed home from an Irish lunch and was passed by another 70's bike. It turns out referenced BMW/multi-brand dealer held a vintage bike day yesterday. The FB page shows 600 people interested in attending. I'm sure they had a huge crowd. Clueless to the whole thing, I spent my afternoon patching my garage floor with epoxy.

    I hope the fuel pump solves your issue. Intermittent electrical issues are so annoying.
  11. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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    Me too (fan of the R's AND hope the fuel pump solves my issue.)

    The Wee does the same trick - but a lot more often. And it doesn't matter how robustly or not you've been riding.
    Once it idles down and starts its low RPM loping rhythm it's like it forgets to keep going sometimes - or - one of the cylinders doesn't make it to TDC - it's coughs, then dies. There isn't any episodic coughing or sputtering really. Just one burp and it's done. Starts again instantly. Just weird.

    I am starting to think both bikes could stand a throttle body sync. But we'll see what this fuel pump replacement does for the RT first.

    I enjoy doing work and feeling a sense of accomplishment, but epoxy on the garage floor would be a task I would ONLY be happy to have finished. I don't think I'd find much joy in the work itself.

    Hope you got to ride today!
  12. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    I just came in from a two hour ninety mile ride through sweepers in the countryside. It’s a route I ride a couple times a year. It was mostly an mpg test run so I never hit 2300 rpm for a sustained period. The result: Range (on full tank) = 329 miles under those conditions.

    AF1E946F-FF55-44A3-90EE-582C7CD2B945.jpeg

    Elvis does 55 mph at 2150-2200 rpm in sixth gear. That was fine for the roads I was on tonight.

    My VStrom never had any issues in the 13,000 miles I had it. Yours sounds like it is cutting the fuel too sharply or a cylinder is missing an ignition cycle. I hope the throttle body sync works.

    I spent an hour today editing a video that I think you guys will enjoy. Elvis does a little bit of dirt and gravel on occasion. Had a good reason to record a half mile stretch. All in due time.

    I epoxied the garage floor back in 2015. And when I say I did it - that doesn’t mean I hired somebody to do it. I rented the grinder, bought the epoxy, and did it all myself. It wasn’t the worst job I’ve ever had by a long shot. But I did spend eight hours with that grinder taking a sixteenth of an inch off of 800 sqft of concrete. Now it only needs a little maintenance every year or two. Honestly, it was the best thing I could have done to save the floor from all the salt we get in the winter. The original owners never sealed the floor with poly and it didn’t occur to me until a lot of damage had been done (spalling and pitting).
  13. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    My apologies for the delay in the story. It's not the dog's fault.

    I spent a few minutes doing GoPro duties when we arrived in Ely. If you haven't done the GoPro thing, it's a bit of imposition and can cramp your style if you let it. I keep things in check since I'm creating neanderthal quality videos: only one camera with a few small memory cards and spare batteries. Apparently, even this is too much for me to manage. A hundred miles after leaving Ely , while on the bike rolling down the road, I realized that I didn't see the memory card I used the day before in the place I should have put it. Indeed, when I got home, it truly wasn't where I store used memory cards.

    We had stayed at Motel Ely. I called the new owner and explained that I left a memory card in the room. She called back to tell me they didn't find it. I was mildly distraught but chalked it up to my own failure. A week later she called me again. Someone has stayed in the room the previous night and engaged in some activities that required the housekeeping crew to move the bed. They found my memory card on the floor and the owner was gracious enough to mail it to me.

    I realize this isn't the rediscovery of a long-lost Hollywood epic. It's just my "nursing home" quality video (and that might be an insult to the people in nursing homes). I reviewed the files tonight and edited the first file. True to form - it's nothing great. But years from now it might be all I have left of the years I rode Elvis.

    If you've never been to northern Minnesota - maybe you'll see something that intrigues you enough to want to visit either on or off the bike. I recommend you skip the month of January... and take a five-gallon bucket of DEET for every other month of the year.
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  14. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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    RD. Anticipating this like a kid on Christmas Eve!
  15. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Elvis off-road will be several postings in the future.

    For now, let's ride alongside Lake Superior.



    Here are some pictures from prior visits to Two Harbors.

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    Also, if you are in the area and haven't been to the Rose Garden in Duluth - you should definitely make time for it if you have an inclination toward flower gardens. It is maintained by the citizens of Duluth and you can often find them there in season taking care of their pride and joy.

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  16. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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    Now I will be trying to figure out a way to get up there
    I doubt I'll make it this fall because I have my eyes on a few different destinations but this one looks like it will at least be on the list for the future.
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  17. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    The north shore of Superior is a comfortable place to be in the middle of summer. You can escape the heat as it rarely gets hot. The only downside is that hotel rooms costing less than $150 per night are rare and the average is closer to $200/night. Demand is high and the owners need to make most of their annual income in a short season. There is a municipal campground in Two Harbors, Burlington Bay, that is $48/night for RV's and tent sites are about $30/night. Yes - you read that right - thirty dollars per night for a patch of grass for your tent. Drag Joel or another buddy along to throw a second tent down and they add $10/night extra. But you are right on the shore of Lake Superior and within walking distance of anything you need. I suspect reservations have to be made far in advance. It's not my favorite place in the USA but you can do far, far worse. Mrs.RD would spend a week there every year if I didn't insist on more variety.
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  18. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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  19. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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  20. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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