Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch

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

  1. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Pre-prep and general mid-trip maintenance...

    Having no choice but to forfeit my ascent of Pikes Peak this week (closed the last six miles due to snow), I endeavoured to use the time wisely to prepare the for the Iron Butt ride - scheduled for Friday 29th May.

    Now you might think there was not a lot to it, just get on your bike and ride - over 1000 miles, in less than 24 hours - seems simple enough right? - and I certainly intended to use this format as a way to get a lot further east more quickly than what might otherwise typically take me three days riding (I like to stop and smell the flowers, and drink the coffee ;o)

    Of course if you actually want a certificate (plus the all important patch and pin badge) from the IBA (the Iron Butt Association - try putting that on your resume, it ought to make for an interesting few moments in any subsequent job interview ;o) then there are certain rules you need to abide by, but essentially you need a start witness, a time, date and location receipt to confirm your start position (typically a gas station receipt), a log of your refuels (similar receipts) to help confirm your route, and a similar witness at the other end to confirm your arrival...

    Fortunately I was scheduled some mid-trip maintenance at the workshop of Motominded in Colorado Springs. For those of you unfamiliar, these are the guys who make the headlight conversions for dual-sport/enduro bikes to typically mount some pukka LED lamps in the OEM masks, dramatically improving the lighting performance of your bike. Their most popular design is incorporating a Baja Designs Squadron into the stock KTM headlight mask, which is something that works particularly well on the KTM 690 for example.

    Chris who runs the company also shares the workspace with Ned (Neduro) who as many of you will be aware produces the excellent Double-Take rear view mirrors, that utilise the RAM ball mounting system, allowing you to multi-position the mirror and easily fold it out of harms way for more gnarly going - although at the same time, they are pretty near indestructible anyway!

    I already use these on a couple of my own dirt/rally bikes, and while the stock CB500X mirrors had stood up to a handful of tip-overs so far, I thought it would be a good ideal to try the Double-Takes for the rest of the journey, particularly the return leg on the Trans-Am Trail. The initial impressions are good (baring in mind the typically higher road speeds I'll be riding the CB), with just a little more vibration compared to stock - the flip-side of course is they won't come loose and spin round (this has happened with the stock mirrors on rough ground!) or potentially break in the event of a fall.

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    The other thing I added was a pair of BarkBuster Storm hand-guards. Again these are my personal favourites these days, with a nice deep hand shield to keep the weather off you (this would pay dividends during the second half of the Iron Butt, believe me!), and a strong aluminium backbone to protect the levers and your hands.

    Initially I/we have been a little concerned about how well the supplied mounting brackets fit around the front brake hose particularly on the CB500X, but I have to say that the supplied kit that includes replacement bar-end weights (meaning the hand-guards mount a little further out now) actually fit pretty well if you mount the inner clamps this way around:

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    All this prep is primarily to help protect the bike during the return leg, which will see a lot more off-road riding than I'd immediately be experiencing on my final blast to the east coast. However, the primary reason for the scheduled stop (other than socially, and for an excellent hamburger with the boys) was to finally fit the production fork internals to Giant Loop's US demo bike...

    To recap, to ensure we had the bike built in-time for the Overland Expo on the 15th May, we sent just the longer damper rods themselves for the stock forks (together with the longer TracTive springs) but without the all-important valve shim stack fitted. Once the production parts were in John's hands, he built-up a second pair of forks (which we had, and was the simplest way for me to change them somewhere on the road), and sent them to Motominded as they have the perfect workshop facilities, that did I mention, is only a stones throw from a excellent gourmet burger restaurant ;o)

    Swapping the fork legs over was the perfect opportunity to also install some protection for the exposed stanchions - and while initially we considered some neoprene sleeves, personally I don't like the way they fit very tightly against the stanchions - as they can trap any dirt behind them and potentially scratch the chrome... Instead I invested in a pair of old-school rubber gaiters (a bargain at 16 bucks!), which if nothing else ought to endear us to the KLR crowd ;o)

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    The final prep was to install a neoprene shock boot around the otherwise exposed TracTive rear shock. Similar to the radiator guard (and their very neat Tail-tidy conversion), Rally-Raid are more than happy to recommend the R&G Racing boot as a suitable measure - although ultimately I believe John is considering designing a more traditional dual-sport kind of hard mud-flap (the main problem is the lack of suitable mounting position on the non-ABS bikes).

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    photo. Boot is the perfect length to still allow access to the rebound adjuster.

    So, with the chain lubed and adjusted (and the head bearings simiarly snicked up as they'd started to settle after the past 2500 miles of hammering), the bike was ready to go... I guess all that remained for me to do was try and get an early night, and meet Chris the following morning as he had rather generously agreed to get up at 6am to be my start witness - thank you!

    Cont.
  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    The rain on the plain, started driving me insane...

    6 am. Having packed the previous night, all that was required was to stuff Piglet into his papoose, down a tepid and rather insipid cup of motel coffee, and head out onto the almost empty streets of Colorado Springs...

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    My official start time was 6.41am (Colorado/Mountain time), and Chris saw me off onto hwy 24, which would lead to Interstate 70, my home for the majority of this jaunty endeavour...

    [​IMG]


    There would be a lot of this to start with:

    [​IMG]

    Eastern Colorado is BIG SKY country. If you look at a map of the state, there is a mark'd line where the Rockies end and the plains begin - its almost as if someone forgot to draw the rest of the detail in!

    West Kansas is very much like east Colorado, other than a time change one hour ahead - more big sky, and little fluffy clouds...

    [​IMG]


    Once across the state line though, It seems the God-squad and anti-abortion activists had been spending their hard-earned subscriptions on countless billboards... I wondered if I should actually stop and phone the presumably not toll-free number to find out exactly what this 'truth' about the lord is - as I'm surprised a revelation of this magnitude has not made the headline news!

    Actually, it was kind of nice to see a jolly Jesus smiling along the way - it reminded me of a church sign I saw in Georgia on my last cross-country journey east: "Drive carefully - God wants you to get home safely".

    The anti-abortion crowd were a little more hard-hitting and direct: "Don't Abort, Adopt." is a reasonably well-meaning message... however, I admit I started to wonder with some incredulity at "Adoption prevents Abuse!" - what on earth were they implying?! (presumably not that the citizens of Kansas might abuse unwanted children!)

    I passed the halfway point (actually refuelled at mile 517) at Topeka KS, and planned to celebrate with a five-shot espresso in Starbucks, that shall henceforth be known as 'The Mighty Quinn'...

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    photo. "I would ride five hundred miles, and I would ride five hundred more..."


    The weather had started to cloud over by now, although thankfully it was still nice and warm; and I was happy enough bopping along with an eclectic mix of Eurythmics, David Lee Roth and Katie Melua.

    Kansas City was tedious however. I hit the city at rush hour, and endured endless tailbacks... goodness knows if they can allow lane-splitting in overcrowded California, they could certainly introduce it here (and everywhere!) I even did my best to demonstrate the procedure to the assembled masses a couple of times when frustration got the better of me ;o)


    Once I crossed into Missouri (with the requisite "I guess we're not in Kansas anymore Piglet" muttered under my breath - well, it still amuses me), the rains came. Biblical rain.

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    photo. Spitting rain soon became a torrential downpour...

    It was both torrential and tedious, especially with the truck spray as they thundered on down I70.

    For those of you familiar with the UK, I still had the equivalent of riding from Edinburgh to London, in the rain. The analogy is particularly apt as the highway east of Kansas City is two lane (each side) and full of roadworks. Oh, and just to make me really feel at home, they purportedly have speed cameras in the work zones too - not that I could actually ride much above the posted limit anyway in these conditions, and now with fading light...

    [​IMG]

    The weather got worse as I crossed into Illinois, and there was still 106 miles to go, it was dark, and we were certainly not wearing sunglasses by the time I filled the bike for the final stretch, at nearly midnight local time.

    Suffice to say I made the thousand mile mark at 1.07am on the 30th May, after a mercifully dry dash over the last 50 or so miles into Evansville, Indiana.

    [​IMG]

    Once I'd obtained my final fuel receipt (time, date and location of course), I had racked up a total of 1009 miles in 17h 35m - which included a good couple of hours of rest stops along the way.

    It's by no means a record of course, but a personal achievement none-the-less, as I have never ridden quite this far in one session.

    And I have to say the little CB was amazing. There came a point when I stopped caring and just wanted to get there, and it never once complained. I was also [personally] very impressed with the stock seat. I admit I started to wriggle at about mile 700 or so, but I fear that was primarily due to the amount of rainwater that was pooling in my crotch area ;o)

    The stock screen also seemed to work well enough (in the low position, with a couple of 1/4" spacers on the upper mounting bolts to angle the screen more steeply). It's certainly not perfect noise-wise by any means, but bearable at 70-80mph, particularly when Katie Melua is crooning southing sounds in your earphones... Ahhhhhhh, Katie ;o)


    So, a few facts and figures for you number nerds out there:

    Official start time: 6.41am in Colorado Springs.

    My plan was to stop for 5-10 minutes every couple of hundred miles (so almost exactly each time I'd need to fill up), plus have a longer break of 20-30 minutes to roughly coincide with breakfast, lunch and wherever/whenever dinner may be...

    I admit I did not eat particularly 'well' during this marathon - McDonalds (free wifi) and Starbucks (tedious log-in wifi) sandwiches I am almost ashamed to say - but all useful (if somewhat empty) calories...

    The first big stop was at mile 177 for fuel and breakfast (30 mins).

    The time zone changed soon into Kansas, which meant my halfway point was a refuel at 517 miles, and a late lunch in Topeka at 3.49pm - so about 8 hours in total, and a little over 7 hours riding - I was kind of on-target still.

    Then came the traffic (Kansas City), followed soon after by the rain. And boy did it rain!

    I started to try and mentally break the remaining journey into bite-sized chunks, something I could relate to from back home, and that I'd all done with some regularity at some point or another...

    Edinburgh to London (400 miles)
    Newcastle to London (300 miles)
    Leeds to London (200 miles)
    Birmingham to London (100 miles)

    Having not elected to put my rain-pants on (although wisely had put my iPad in a ziploc bag in my backpack at least), I was soon soaked through to the skin on my bottom half - but at least it was warm rain (unlike the UK!) The only real problem was once it got dark and the spray from the trucks (mostly passing them, but some passing me), oncoming headlights, and the general surface water made things nerve-wracking to say the least!

    After the last refuel (and another 30 minute rest) at Mt. Vernon Illinois, I rode the last hundred miles with no music and no earplugs just to try and stay focussed...

    I finally hit the thousand mile mark a few miles north of Evansville Indiana at 1.07am local time (so 12.07am Colorado time) and collected my final gas receipt at 1.18am, 1009 miles covered in 17 and a half hours, with a riding time I estimated of a little under 16 hours - so in effect an average of 60mph*

    *indeed, according to my GPS log, the overall average was 57.3mph.

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    Now to submit that paperwork to the IBA - certainly that second half in bad weather makes me feel I really earned it!

    Jx
    rbrhsv and motocopter like this.
  3. wolftrax

    wolftrax Been here awhile

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    Wow, Jenny, all I can say is I'm impressed by both you and the Honda.
  4. streaks77

    streaks77 Been here awhile

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    Great job on the Iron Butt Jenny! I hope you've had a chance to get some well deserved rest.

    Out of curiosity, what did you use to mount the GPS? I thought at first you'd gone the RAM mount, but it seems like it's strapped directly to the handlebars, is that the case?
  5. ktmmitch

    ktmmitch Long timer

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    It's our own design of billet triple with top clamp that fits the Garmin Rugged Mount, and accepts our stainless power socket plate:

    http://www.rally-raidproducts.co.uk/honda-cb500x-cb500f?product_id=625

    [​IMG]
  6. Madscientist

    Madscientist Been here awhile

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    Congratulations on persevering through that ride Jenny. Cheers for your effort :beer. I really cannot imagine riding that far on a bike in less than 24 hrs.
  7. Mourist

    Mourist Been here awhile

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    Absolutely amazing, hats off to the three of you! (That would be CeeBee, Jenny & Piglet)
  8. streaks77

    streaks77 Been here awhile

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  9. tft

    tft Spends to much time on advrider.

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    How did the double take mirrors hold up to speed?
    Great Job btw!!! :clap
  10. N111KX

    N111KX Adventurer

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    How's the stock air filter holding up, Jenny?

    Regards,

    Kip
    Conversion kits 1-3 on order
  11. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi tft!

    The mirrors worked very well - as I mentioned above, there is a little more vibration than with the stock mirrors, but I wouldnt say it's bad - I've looked in OEM mirrors that are worse at 80+ mph.

    Of course this was on smooth highway (but again, that is more likely when you need your mirrors anyway), and I understand that on prolonged rough roads (eg. fast washboard) the RAM balls can start to slip a bit unless they are really snicked up tight - I'll be reporting again once I get back on the dirt ;o)

    Jx
  12. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Kip!

    Hmmmm, I suppose I ought to take a look at it?!

    To be honest, I've not really been riding in anyone's dust so far, so I imagine it is perfectly fine.

    I've just passed the 4000 mile mark since I collect the bike, and I'll be checking everything over once I reach the east coast later today... It is certainly going to need fresh tyres now, but the oil looks good and clear still (bearing in mind it has 8000 mile change intervals on this bike), and similarly I don't expect the air filter to require maintence or replacement at this point...

    Jx

    Ps. I can just see John reading this and saying: "Don't touch it! - let's prove it can go coast to coast and back again with no maintenance at all!" - and to be honest, I've no doubt it could!
  13. ktmmitch

    ktmmitch Long timer

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    Ps. I can just see John reading this and saying: "Don't touch it! - let's prove it can go coast to coast and back again with no maintenance at all!" - and to be honest, I've no doubt it could

    Dont go getting all crazy hi-maintainence on me, we're on a budget here, don't you know there's still a recession on!!

  14. TheWalkman

    TheWalkman Adventurer

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    Jenny,

    Enjoying the travelogue. I'm in Richmond, VA and was hoping to say hi but it appears you are a woman on a mission and blown by RVA.

    If you get this soon, splurge for dinner at the Lynnhaven Fish House in Va Beach. Fantastic offerings.

    Safe travels!

    Champe
  15. ShenandoahRider

    ShenandoahRider Been here awhile

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    Be careful of the powerful rainstorms passing through Virginia tonight. In fact, all this week there could be powerful -- but hopefully sporadic -- thunder boomers in the afternoons.
  16. OldnoGPS

    OldnoGPS Just a sightseer

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    The Blue Ridge Parkway looks like it's going to be cool and potentially damp starting tomorrow. Dress warmly, looks like low to mid 70's here (about 20 miles NE of the North end), it will likely be 55-60 in some of the higher spots.
  17. Jud

    Jud Long timer

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    Not to go off topic but that looks alot like the Shoal Creek crossing in Dawson Forest????
  18. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hee hee - thanks for the tip Champe!

    Would you believe I was riding around the north end of the peninsular this evening, and saw the sign! I U-turned and stumped up the price for a nearby hotel (rather than slumming it further inland and downtown), and got a table just as they were taking last orders...

    It was well worth it, thank you!

    Jx

    Ps. As I'm trying to avoid retracing my steps on this trip, I always intended to stay south of the main highway heading towards VB, as I'll actually be coming past/through Richmond on my way back to the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway - the plan is during sometime tomorrow (Tuesday), I''m just trying to find somewhere that actuall has some TKCs in stock - as I wasn't sure if I'd need to change them just yet or not, which is why I hadn't ordered ahead...

    However, I can confirm they are pretty shagged both rear and front now - and I'd rather have fresh tyres to make the most of the next few days on the Parkway...

    Shoot me a PM, and perhaps we can grab a coffee/lunch depending on timing?

    Jx
  19. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Ah yes, I've already been caught in a few of those these past two days as it is - although fortunately my route this afternoon skirted around the worst of one huge one!

    Thanks for the heads-up - although it makes me smile - low to mid 70s is a good summer day back in the UK ;o)

    I have to say its been a joy to ride with my jacket undone for the most part these past few days through Kentucky and Virginia - what a beautiful time of year to be here, and a beautiful part of the country too... Some of the best biking roads I've ever ridden infact: traffic free and and scenery reminicent of rural France for example... Who knew?!

    Jx
  20. OldnoGPS

    OldnoGPS Just a sightseer

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    I thought about that when I posted. I was thinking more about the temp drop on the BRP. I ride there routinely, used to work in the mountains. Just meant that, after a number of days in the sweltering flatlands, it can be a bit of a surprise when it's damp and breezy for folks who think that the BRP isn't all that high in elevation.
    Wish I could help you with tires. If you can't find anything down there try contacting AB13 on here. He has a shop about 4 miles west of the BRP at Buena Vista/Rt.60. Harley shop but he's a KTM rider also, sells some dual sport stuff and may have something you can use.
    I'll keep an eye on your Spot, maybe wave at you on the Parkway :D
    JMo (& piglet) likes this.