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Embrace middle age - RT fly-and-ride... CA/OR/WA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by jconli1, Jun 3, 2021.

  1. jconli1

    jconli1 from the land of pleasant living... Supporter

    Sep 26, 2004
    North Bend, WA
    Hard to think of a better bike than the CB500X Rally Raid, especially for where I live. But lately our Jeep's been doing most of the off-road duty as it's been more fun to bring my wife and/or dogs anyway, since we don't get much time together during the week. That also got me thinking how much I missed our weekend rides when we were a little younger and more adventurous (and when I could borrow a full-dress touring BMW from my old work whenever I wanted). In a slightly manic spiral, I started scouring Craigslist from Montana down to Arizona and west to the coast, because I also have a habit of doing some kind of fly-and-ride for cars or bikes every few years, and it was getting to be that time again.

    Not unlike houses and cars, bike prices and availability seem... unpredictable these days. Maybe not the best time to be looking, for any of those things, but... here we are. I had always regretted selling my Tiger 800... but none came up (at least in my current budget). How about the 1050 or even 955? Nope. I've got a love-hate thing with Zook twins, but if I'm honest, the Strom 1000 sourced my favorite long distance memories, and that 2014 refresh looked worthwhile. Any? Nope. Maybe time to finally embrace the 12GS? Negative. Looks like the affordable end of the ADV segment is pretty hot on the west coast. Big surprise.

    What if I let the reality of middle age wash over me and start looking at the comfier end of the spectrum? I won't dwell on the demographic realities of why, but - here were the bikes. Tried an FJR locally... not bad, but needed too much work. Love Honda V4's, but most ST11/1300's I found were roached. Then found an '02 R1150RT... fairly low miles, garage kept, farkle-free (thank God), very reasonable price, "up to date on all services", right outside the Bay Area, where I'd been itching for a good ride, and in my favorite BMW color (Siena Rot). Winner.

    Flight landed at 10am, friendly seller picked me up at the airport, quickly thumbed through the service paperwork, looked in order, the bike itself looked brand new... I gave it my first fill-up, checked the tire pressures, and hit the road by noon.


    Memorial Day weekend so I wouldn't dare go near the coast... started by checking out a region I'd never been to, following CA-160 as it wound north along the Sacramento River through some small towns. Getting some uneven shakes and pings from the boxer but chalked it up to a warm day with heavy stop and go traffic in a few spots.

    100 miles later, it's north on 5/99/70 all the way to Oroville, finally getting some breeze on the heads, time to really open it up... and... it's BUZZY. Way more than an 1150 should be. Quick lunch stop and I pull the paperwork out for closer inspection... the services had all been done at the correct mileages, but I hadn't looked close enough at the dates. Turns out it's only done about 1500 miles in the last 6 years, and not exactly clear how those miles were distributed. That would explain a bit (I should have been a bit more explicit in clarifying beforehand.) But no use obsessing, it's a nice weekend in paradise, and I've got miles to go before I sleep and all that... throw a bottle of Techron in, take it relatively easy, and hope for the best. It can be sorted out once I get home.

    (As a side note, one thing stuck out to me at the end of my lunch break... on road trips I almost always get a table that faces the bike so I can mindlessly ogle it while masticating. It wasn't until the end of my meal that I realized I wasn't even near a window. Hmm.)

    CA-70 finally starts getting into the foothills, and I'm trying to strategically dodge some huge thunderheads moving through. Feather River Canyon was AWESOME, especially the double bridges at Pulga. Picked up CA-89 over to Lake Almanor and Chester, sun going down, roads straightening out, me staying dry... descended into Susanville then turned north on 395 to scorch through the high desert for the last leg before Alturas where I had a room booked. Barely another soul on the whole route... it was other-worldly. Despite the rough running, the RT was supremely comfortable and effortless through this 400 mile stretch (especially compared to the CB500). Wicked it up a few times, but still got some pinging under load, so just took a steady freight train kind of pace maintaining momentum vs. really pushing it into the corners.

    As the sun started going down I realized the low-beam had also burned out at some point between the pick up and now... thankfully the RT has those integrated fog lights, so I switched them on just seconds before the only highway patrol I saw all day drove past in the opposite direction.







    Didn't sleep that well the night before, so as I pulled into the old Niles Hotel & Saloon in Alturas I used my last bit of mental energy to order a great burger and strong porter. Was still a little numb and didn't realize I was wearing my ADV tshirt until some inmates called out... really nice folks doing some work with the BDR (ostensibly on the northern CA route?). Realized we had a number of mutual friends from my old BMW shop days and chatted a bit about our respective routes (if you're on here - apologies for my initially being out of it - the porter got me sorted out quickly enough)

    Good sleep.

    Started the morning with a fruitless look around the small town of Alturas for anywhere that might have carb sticks... or an H7 bulb for that matter. Forgot it was Sunday on a long weekend. Best I could do is a little more Techron. Just before leaving, had a vacationing motorcycle cop walk up, and absolutely gush over how good this RT looked and how much he misses the 1150s. The newest water-cooled 1250s just don't have the same soul, apparently. I trust that opinion.

    Pointed it north on US-395 and just went... the whole highway was basically made for this bike. Oregon continues to be my favorite riding state by far. The gorgeous desolation at Lake Abert transitioned into the sweepers and eventual evergreen-flanked twisties. If I had another free day I'd just zig zag around the state... I can't explain how much I love riding in Oregon.





    Pulled into Pendleton with 400 miles down and 300 to go... a little later start than I wanted (but the sleep was worth it), and a particularly road-ragey dude in a Silverado slowed things down the last 30 miles, swerving and absolutely refusing to let me pass... figured it was best to just hang back since there was really nowhere else to go and I couldn't confidently haul ass if I needed to. Decided I'd scratch the more scenic route options over the just-opened Mt. Rainier or through the always-entertaining Yakima Canyon and just beeline it home on the interstate. 19 bikes and I've never really had a full sport tourer before - is the freeway comfort worth all that extra weight and plastic?

    Goodness, it might just be. Ostensibly the Techron was doing its thing, and the engine was getting a little punchier and less pingy on load... soon found myself naturally drifting up toward triple digits and having to consciously pull back, all while just sitting comfortably in my bubble of smooth air, not really thinking about anything at all. I could get used to this. The drone along I-82 to I-90 felt like it took about 1/3 the time it normally does, at least up until I inevitably crossed Snoqualmie Pass to find nothing but Seattleites clogging the left lane at 10 under the limit on WB I-90... as always in western WA, the far right lane became the passing lane for my last 30 miles. One last strafe up the twisty road home and I pulled into the driveway to find my wife grilling steaks. I win.

    New fluids, valve check, air filter check, throttle body sync... I've already done a few commuting runs and it's quite a lovely daily. It definitely doesn't excite or fascinate me like many previous bikes... but it lives up to its defining purpose so well, and I didn't have a single sore neck/shoulder/back muscle the next day - avoiding pain is important in these golden years. :)

    Is it a keeper? Well, at bike #19 in 23 years of riding, are any of them? It was definitely worth it for the excellent trip alone, and we'll give it a go as a 2-up weekend touring mount shortly. Might start to miss gravel competency (there is just so much good gravel out here), but this definitely extends the "comfortable weekend trip range" quite a bit father than the last few bikes, so might as well take advantage of it.

    havabusa, cmcteir, Hikertrash and 6 others like this.
  2. manshoon

    manshoon Been here awhile

    Mar 10, 2009
    Well three bugs for every mile of road, makes for allot of bugs. Nothing like a fly and ride to start you off to bigger and better things. Enjoyed your ride report and glad to here thew running issue worked it self out some as probably a case of bad gas.
    jconli1 likes this.
  3. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Twistin' Throttles to get to Pedalin' Places

    Sep 27, 2011
    Bellingham, WA
    Congrats on the Beemer,
    Looks beautiful!
    jconli1 likes this.
  4. tday

    tday Adventurer

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ardmore ,OK
    Great T.R. Jeff. Your pictures are amazing .
    jconli1 likes this.