Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JMo (& piglet), Apr 29, 2015.

  1. Clem Kevin

    Clem Kevin Nude With Boots

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    Take him up on this offer. Especially if you're good at cleaning out refrigerators of outdated food.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hee hee - you obviously know something I don't Clem ;o)

    Thank you Throttlemeister!

    Certainly the second half of this trip is likely to be a lot more fluid with timing and schedules, so I may very well be in touch a little closer to the time once the TAT starts to unfold...

    Right, I'd better get to the airport!

    Toot toot!

    Jenny x

    ps. I've just seen over on the RRP Vendor thread that things are hotting up in Bend:

    Looking sharp already eh? - "I'm Batman!"
    #42
  3. garfey

    garfey Scruffy Adventurer Supporter

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    Based on having been there in late April (DVNR), there may be WiFi at Panamint Springs Resort (fuel stop - highest prices in the US?) if you pass thru when their bandwidth hasn't been used up and there definitely will be good beer and plenty of it! Cell phone coverage in DV will be spotty at best and dependent on the carrier. AT&T seemed to be best; forget Verizon.

    Nice folks and rock-solid WiFi at Denny's in Pahrump, 24/7. It never did work at the Nugget Hotel & Casino the 3 days I was there so I contributed to Denny's bottom line frequently.

    Attached Files:

    #43
  4. N111KX

    N111KX Adventurer

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    I'm getting THIS close (that's the small space between my pinched fingers) to getting a CBX for a conversion!
    #44
  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hee hee - in 24 hours time, I'll be at the Giant Loop HQ helping to put the finishing touches on the bike... if that doesn't get you reaching for your chequebook, nothing will ;o)

    Jx
    #45
  6. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    So after a couple of fraught days packing back home, I had a very pleasant flight over on a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 yesterday (a nice new plane compared to the 747 that usually flies this route (earlier in the day), and it was barely half full too - which meant there was plenty of room to spread out over a couple of seats and try and get some rest)...

    [​IMG]

    I got a fabulous view of the bay and San Francisco itself as I came in early evening - you can just make out the new section of the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge which I shall be crossing in a couple of days time to kick off the coast to coast journey east - after a stop on the Marin peninsular for the ubiquitous photo of the bridge with the city in the background of course! ;o)


    Nerdy tech in Silicone Valley

    I've spent today going through my cameras and other tech (photos and a more detailed description to follow shortly) - the plan is to try and travel as light as possible, with minimalist kit to reduce weight and general liability...

    Certainly a significant change from the last time I undertook a similar journey (back in 2009) is not only one extra cylinder on the bike, but the availability of far more compact and modern tech... I'll be using an iPad air to keep in touch with you all (rather than the clunky old Dell Mini 9, that while having the same size footprint, was 6 times as thick and 10 times as heavy it would seem!), and I'll be exclusively using my Panasonic Lumix LX7 which can produce excellent results from a compact camera, with far more creative control than the simple Fuji compact I used before (and ultimately lost somewhere in the Moroccan desert, during the Heroes-Legend Rally later that year).

    I have also added another gadget to my arsenal this time - or rather John has - in the form of a Garmin VIRB video camera. This is Garmin's equivalent of the GoPro type of fixed lens rugged digital camera, but has a few nice additional touches - the battery offers up to 3h of recording time, and is actually the same type as fits the Garmin Montana GPS I'll be using - which means that there should always be a fully charged battery available for the camera, as the GPS will be hardwired to the bike (allowing continual charging) of course.

    Not only can you select between filming in either wide-angle or a range of zoom levels, but together with a range of mounting options (including a neat RAM ball adaptor), the physical shape of VIRB also makes it far simpler to place on a rock or glove to get a nice stable ride-by shot. It will also sync to my Garmin Montana GPS so I can take video and still photos remotely - when the camera is mounted on the bike or helmet for example - and it even has enough range (around 20ft) so that I can set it up as still camera and be in the shot on the bike without resorting to the self timer and running back and forth!

    The other significant difference is the GPS I'll be using. I'm still old school in that I prefer a dedicated GPS unit rather than software on a smartphone - and for years was very happy with my aged Garmin 2610 that saw me all over the USA (twice) and around Europe and Morocco. It was the perfect on-bike device in my opinion, other than the fact it had no built-in battery, so had to be hardwired to the bike and meant using (and therefore carrying) a mains adaptor if you wanted to programme it in a hotel room for example... it was also unkindly referred to by friends as 'a brick'.

    While the Garmin Montana is still a physically large device, it offers the option of a dedicated Li-ion battery pack (that can be shared with the VIRB camera) or using AA batteries in an emergency. Ultimately, perhaps the nicest thing about the Montana is not only it's rugged construction, but the large touch screen and customisable menu/home page that works really well on a bike.

    I bought the version that includes the built-in US TOPO maps in 100K scale, and have supplemented it with their City Navigator mapping for the whole of the country - allowing me to navigate in the traditional routing manner when hunt for hotels, food and fuel as required; while it still has a huge amount of dirt-road data which can also be routed along in exactly the same way. Alternatively I can switch to the TOPO maps for additional detail, and of course the TAT route maps that I have are a simple track log, that will work with either mapping set.

    In addition to the Garmin which I'll be using for day-to-day navigation, I have a series of digital maps in my iPad to aid with route planning, although I admit I still prefer a paper map of each state, and a handful of highlighter pens for working out my initial route.

    Therefore I'll be taking some key paper maps (Utah and Colorado particularly) with me, can buy additional ones on the road, and will post any back home any I no longer require - helping to keep weight and clutter to a minimum.

    Before I leave for the official start on Monday, I'll post up some detailed photos of the gear I'll be carrying before and after it's loaded onto the bike...

    This will include my tools and spares, camping, comms and camera equipment, and those few personal effects I can cram into whatever space is left in my luggage system.

    Piglet of course get's his own papoose ;o)

    More soon!

    Jenny xx
    #46
  7. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    Welcome back to the States, and California Jenny! the weather should be improving rapidly for your departure. Keep us posted where u and the bike may be this Saturday.

    Juan
    Nevada City
    #47
  8. SloDon

    SloDon Hey...where am I?

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    Ditto on the welcome back!

    Looking forward to following along........I have been watching the project developement with interest.

    Also enjoyed your posts/insights during the Dakar coverage.

    Onward.........I'm in and ready for pics and video.......be safe and enjoy!:ricky
    #48
  9. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    As you have probably gleaned from the RRP Vendor thread, it's been a pretty hectic couple of days up in Oregon...

    For me it started with a bit more of this:

    [​IMG]
    leaving San Jose for Portland OR

    Swiftly followed by some of this:

    [​IMG]
    flying over the Three Sisters on the way into Redmond/Bend

    ... Although there was a slight delay at Portland while president Obama took off in Airforce One after a visit, causing the airport to lock-down for half an hour... Unfortunately I'd already boarded my plane which meant I was denied another Starbucks while waiting!

    Right, that is probably enough about planes for a while now - I hope not to have to see another until at least the end of June and the end of my trip, and am now free to travel with a washbag full of liquids, scissors, and not least a tool kit - having had to forefeit all of these during my transfer up to Oregon; and I have to say it is rather nerve-wracking riding a newly assembled bike over 500 miles with not so much as an allen key in my possession, but hey, I'm getting a little ahead of myself already...

    Harold met me at the airport and I was soon introduced to the rest of the Giant Loop crew over a couple of huge pizzas for lunch, and later a few beers too - well, we had a big task ahead of us that afternoon!

    [​IMG]

    Yes, there was still a little work to do shall we say, before I would be able to ride away the following morning en route for the official start point on the west coast, San Francisco.

    Cont.
    #49
  10. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Cont.

    So to cut a long story short, Harold and I completely assembled the bike over the next 24 hours (pausing for precious few to catch a little sleep) from my memory, calculated guesswork and only a couple of phone calls to John - rest assured this process is all part of helping to produce the step-by-step instructions that will be dispatched with the customer kits - and once the finish touches of graphics were applied, we were all set to go by lunchtime on Saturday 9th May...

    [​IMG]

    I have to say, I really like how the stripe kit works on the all-black bike!

    Of course we couldn't sign off until project manager Piglet had also given his approval - and he particularly liked his new papoose!

    [​IMG]

    So with a cheery goodbye and the well-intentioned promise to take good care of the bike, I finally hit the road around 1.30pm this afternoon, to embark on an initial appraisal and shakedown run prior to the start of the west-east leg of the coast to coast trip, on Monday (11th May).

    I will write in more detail on the vendor thread with regard to how the bike felt and handled, both on and indeed off the tarmac... Yes, I'd barely gone 100 miles south on hwy 97 (initially rather dull if I'm honest, although it was lovely and warm and sunny, which makes any journey immediately more tolerable of course...) before the temptation to get some dirt under the tyres overtook me ;o)

    I had originally planned to ride via the rim road around the west side of Crater Lake on my way south, but unfortunately the gates were still closed until next weekend (at the earliest) because of snow. Still, I know I'll be back this way again as the last section of the TAT passes close by, so fingers crossed I'll get another bright and sunny day to make the most of the surreal scenery up there...

    Recalling there was an easy dirt road that ran parallel to the highway a few miles west, I poked around with the GPS on the fly and potted an interesting alternative that would allow me appraise the new suspension over some fast sandy and washboard gravel.

    [​IMG]
    Yep, turn right Clyde!

    Everything was going swimmingly, and the bike was comfortable at 30 and even 40 mph (I didn't consider it prudent to try and go much faster, especially with not tools or puncture kit with me), until I noticed the headlight and fairing seemed to be vibrating rather more than it ought to over the washboard surface...

    [​IMG]

    Sure enough, when I stopped to look it dawned on my that I had forgotten to torque up the two bolts that hold the support frame to the headstock, and the nuts had worked loose and together with both the bolts now, had disappeared.

    I rather sheepishly limped a few miles further until I could eventually pick up a smoother dirt road back the main highway - still, it meant I got a fantastic view of Mount Scott (a volcano on the edge of crater lake) in my mirrors!

    [​IMG]

    I ultimately hit the highway for another hundred and fifty miles before passing by the spectacular Mount Shasta once I'd entered northern California (at over 11,000ft above the surrounding plateau, you can see the peak from around 100 miles away - And I have to say when it initially appeared on the horizon while I was still in Oregon it was breathtaking...) This photo was taken from much closer, as I descended towards the junction with the interstate and decided it was time for a comfort break at the comically and appropriately named town of Weed. And I did!

    [​IMG]

    So to end the day, I now find myself holed up in a Motel 6 near Redding - with some reasonable wifi, strange noises coming from upstairs, and a little over 200 miles left to San Francisco in the morning...

    Then it will be time to pack properly, and for the trip to officially start at 8am on Monday, from Alice's Restaurant - where Skyline Boulevard crosses, most appropriately, La Honda road...

    That is where the fun really begins!

    Toot toot for now ;o)

    Jenny xx

    Miles travelled today: 0 - 286.4
    #50
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  11. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Just one further update - while I might not be able to update the thread with words and pictures every single day, I can confirm I will have a SPOT tracker with me for the duration of the Trans-Am 500 trip, so you'll be able to follow my progress/route each day via a dedicated link...

    We are currently just testing the signals/messages are all relaying correctly, and then the link address wil be live to coincide with the departure on Monday morning!

    Jx
    #51
  12. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    So just a quick update as I haven't stopped all day today...

    Spent the night in a Motel 6 in Redding last night, and ploughed on early this morning, well after the requisite stop for a morning brew of course ;o)

    [​IMG]
    It must be a genuine 'adventure' bike, look how seamlessly it bends into it's natural habitat...

    Then it was a long shlep down the I5 towards San Francisco... fortunately the weather wasn't too bad on the coast and I was able to get the rather hackneyed but at the same time 'essential' west coast shot of the bike, and piglet of course - at the official start of the Trans-Am 500 today, 1.30pm on the 10th May 2015.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So a few observations from today... the bike storms along on the freeway, although personally I'm happier at around 70mph rather than pushing 80+, as it seems to start drinking fuel at higher speeds - not helped by strong headwinds all day unfortunately.

    It also feels rock solid in sweeping high speed bends, and carving around the on and off ramp slip roads at intersections - I can't wait to get it up on Skyline Boulevard tomorrow, and later hwy 198 which is an absolute corker in the area ;o)

    The suspension really is a dramatic improvement over stock - not that that was particularly bad, it's just now everything feels so much more controlled and stable - aided by the 19" front wheel over rough sections of road, and the general gyroscopic effect. It feels just like a factory adventure bike now ;o)

    I was also really pleased with how well the Giant Loop Coyote fits onto the rear seat, and the 'solo' luggage brackets are the perfect location for the lower strap clips, while the forward straps work really well around the subframe tube just above the pillion peg hangers. I've ridden the best part of 600 miles so far on the bike, and the luggage is totally unobtrusive - so I'm really going to enjoy the next few weeks in that regard I feel.

    So after the 'official' start today, I rode the grand total of 66.9 miles back to San Jose where I'll be staying overnight, before meeting Dave at Alice's for breakfast tomorrow morning - my preferred route is actually up Page Mill Road, rather than the usual Woodside (hwy 84), especially at that time of the morning, and the ride there ought to be great warm up to the day!

    I have also managed to cram all the personal belongings I wish to take with me on the trip (including a complete camping set-up) into my Coyote bag, while my tools, first aid, a spare tube and even a small can of tyre lube all fit neatly in the Klamath tail pack.

    To complete the 'three bag' system - essential snacks, Piglet and my iPad will stay safe in my Camelbak Blowfish backpack; while various pockets in my jacket provide safe stowage of regularly used items such as my camera/s, ipod, wallet and pocket journal book (yes, I'm still a bit old school in that regard ;o)

    I'm sure things will shake themselves down over the next few days, as is always the nature of a trip like this, but I really trust that this time I've brought nothing unnecessary, while at the same time allowing for unforeseen circumstances, and having the where-with-all to effect any repairs (albeit temporary) to keep me going on my way...

    I apologise I've not yet had time to photograph and put together a detailed inventory of what I'll be carrying with me - that will follow once I get some free-time* either at the Expo, or the following week in Moab.

    (*unlikely I admit.)

    One thing I am keen to appraise (and the initial feeling is good) is my new riding gear for this trip. Traditionally I have always worn Alpinestars boots and enduro gear, and exclusively Arai dual-sport and off-road helmets... However, I thought I would give various items from the Icon range a go this time, particularly as I like their new Raiden DKR jacket, and feel their Patrol boots could prove to be more appropriate for life on and off the bike, especially as I only have room in my luggage for one pair of sandals!

    I'll endeavour to profile my current choice of riding gear over the coming weeks for anyone who's interested... one thing I will say is the Icon Variant helmet feels very comfortable and quiet (well it did when I was back home on my road bike) - unfortunately, it appears that I am suffering the same wind-noise issue reported (or should I say argued) on the main CB500X thread recently - and while I never thought the OEM screen was particularly noisy with an open face helmet, wearing a dual-sport helmet with a peak (such as the Variant) creates a huge roar over 70mph... I tried standing up and the noise immediately disappeared, so I might experiment with the screen height or even an add on lip before my 1000 mile Iron-Butt attempt towards the end of this month...

    Stay tuned - it all kicks off tomorrow at 9am sharp!

    Toot toot!

    Jenny (and Piglet) xx


    Nerdy notes:

    Mileage so far: 577.7 miles since leaving Giant Loop HQ in Bend, OR.

    66.9 miles of which is my Trans-Am 500 route, from the overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge, to San Jose, CA.
    #52
  13. Clem Kevin

    Clem Kevin Nude With Boots

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    I'm sure you know it, but make sure you take highway 9 down into Santa Cruz, that's the best part of the ridgeline there.
    #53
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  14. ziroalex

    ziroalex Adventurer

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    I am also still using a Garmin 2610 and also found a way to use the stock remote control on my motorcycle:
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1059672

    I totaly love the zoom function and as far as i know there are no modern navigation systems with remote control?
    #54
  15. hillbillyhonda

    hillbillyhonda I'd Rather be Riding

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    Hey Jenny, I know you're a long way from Andrews, NC, but I noticed in your profile that you like the Honda NRX1800 Rune. Cherokee County Cycles in Andrews used to have one sitting in their shop on display. You might want to check it out, and maybe I could meet up there to check out the CB500X Adventure.
    #55
  16. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    Excellent report! Keep 'em coming.

    I've had good luck with the OEM 'tall' windscreen blasting 80mph down the freeway (6500rpm) and a Shoei mx helmet and sunglasses...maybe try the 'tall' screen...

    Post a pic with u in all your gear on the loaded bike.

    Enjoy the ride thru sunny Ca!

    Juan
    #56
  17. Ladukebob

    Ladukebob Spaceark

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    Subscribed :thumb

    Safe travels Jenny
    #57
  18. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Trans-Am 500, Day 1: San Jose to Ridgecrest CA.

    Miles today: 418.7

    While yesterday afternoon marked the official start point of the west to east coast to coast leg, the Trans-Am 500 ride really got underway today at 10.10am this morning, after an overlong breakfast at Alice's Restaurant south of San Francisco, with my riding partner for the next couple of days Dave Lin from Bay Area apparel company ADVaddicts.com

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Joining us for breakfast, and indeed very generously buying for us too - thank you! - was ADV inmate Sparky831 who had ridden up on his own CB500X to see the Adventure conversion, chew the fat in general, and ultimately see us off by joining us in a spirited ride along hwy 35 (Skyline Boulevard) in and out of the morning fog.

    Dave and I then took in more twisty roads via Santa Cruz, Hollister and Colinga where we filmed our spirited on-road antics; before sucking up a few miles of Interstate 5 in a effort to stay on some sort of schedule...

    [​IMG]
    Dave setting up the GoPro, on hwy 25 just before we turned on to 198 - two fabulous and traffic free roads in the region ;o)

    [​IMG]
    Dave's shiny new 2014 model 690 Enduro complete with some choice RRP parts has been enlisted as the photo-mule for these initial couple of days...

    Unfortunately, Dave's optimism with regard to the fuel range of his stock tank was ultimately all in vain when he coasted to a halt just a few miles short of the next service station at our turn off... Doh.

    [​IMG]
    I soon realised what must have happened and pulled over to wait...

    Thankfully he had seen fit to fill his Rotopax can fitted to the soft-luggage racks, and it wasn't too long before he was on the move again... Phew!


    Soon after it was my turn to have an 'issue' when my brand new GPS decided to freeze up as we entered the sprawling metropolis of Bakersfield. Fortunately I am now pretty familiar with the various routes through and around town, so rode on unguided until I was able to reboot it by removing the SD card and refitting it...

    The upshot of suffering these various delays was that it was rapidly approaching evening now, so we elected to forfeit the planned Lake Isabella to Jawbone Canyon dirt-road sector today, rather stay on the stunning scenic hwy 178 and head straight for our scheduled stop-over in Ridgecrest - which is the last big town en route for Death Valley and the first big off-road test for the CB500X Adventure tomorrow!

    Obviously if I didn't have to absolutely be in Flagstaff on Thursday morning, then we might have elected to camp along the trail and continue in the morning... But needs must for these first few days of the Adventure I'm afraid...

    So while today was all about some twisty highway riding (and I have to say how utterly impressed I am with the way the bike now rides) and bagging some bike-to-bike video footage; I'm also delighted to be able to link you all to the SPOT tracking page that Giant Loop have set up on my behalf, where you'll be able to track my progress daily for the duration of the Trans-Am trip: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0Oy8eVNlAf8Qh6nDYVfW2CpZXE6MfxNFm

    [​IMG]

    Obviously things are likely to look a little more interesting once I start to travel off-road in the coming days and weeks...

    More soon!

    Jenny x
    #58
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  19. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    I do, and we did ;o)

    And it was wonderful!

    Jx
    #59
  20. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Juan - thanks for the tip, I'll look into that as an option for sure...

    Photos above show the bike complete will all my luggage (yep, I'm travelling really light this time), and I'll have time to put together a more detailed packing list once I'm settled at the Expo...

    Jx
    #60