West and North (Canada incl. Dempster) - 1972 Moto Guzzi (Video added 08/08/2019)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by nick949eldo, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Ha! You fancy the idea of being stuck at the side of the road fighting with ancient bits that have given up the ghost do you?

    I have to admit, it adds a little spice to travel...

    I hear the new ones are moderately reliable though.
    #81
  2. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    In the door at home at 6pm. Details to follow.

    Nick
    #82
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  3. Mapco

    Mapco Been here awhile

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    Hey Nick! Alaska Evan here. Great writings and it was good riding with you those two days!

    You're in some of the pics I posted up on my Facebook: www.facebook.com/cold.ride

    I keep my cards close but I crave social interaction when I'm traveling solo with my bike! Until we meet again!
    #83
  4. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Hi Evan - great to hear from you and stunning pictures. I heard you had a little tyre trouble but were able to fix it. You stood out as one of the serious riders. Good luck with your planning for southern places.

    Nick
    #84
  5. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    The skies were heavy when I left Nipigon, but the bike was still holding together, I had a full tank of fuel, and I was riding a road I like. The Lake Superior coastal route may not have the jaw-dropping scenery of the Rockies or the sense of remoteness of the Ogilvie and Richardson Mountains along the Dempster, but it does have a magnificence that is entirely its own. I wasn't too far along before I saw a Harley stopped at the side of the road. I slowed, then pulled up, just as a large white SUV arrived facing the rider. I assumed it was a local work crew looking to see if they could help - them I noticed the dark uniforms of the two occupants and the piece of paper being handed to the rider. I called out,
    "Do you need gas?"
    The rider indicated that he didn't, and I got out of there before the police became too interested in me.

    Some time later I was stopped at the rear of a line of vehicles at a roadworks traffic light when the Harley rider rode up along side. Using language that I won't repeat here, and which, of course, would never pass my lips, he explained that he'd just been given a $375 speeding ticket for 139kph in a 90kph zone. I'm not sure I'd ever believed that a Harley would go that fast before, but here was the evidence. The rider had all kinds of excuses to explain why his speeding was completely justified - something to do with following a truck that was getting his pants dirty - and had no sense that the road was anything but his personal race-track.

    As the light changed and the traffic started forwards he moved right up behind the other vehicles, blipping his throttle (loud pipes, of course) making a total prat of himself. As soon as there was any space he raced by everything and disappeared to his pressing appointment with an ambulance or the police. I have no antipathy towards Harleys. Some are fine, even vaguely interesting motorbikes (in the same way that Ford F150s are interesting), and I have met some excellent people on them - but this jerk confirmed all the stereotypes.

    After the obligatory stop for a coffee at Tim's in Wawa, I headed south along the lake shore, stopping briefly to say hello to my son in the park at Pancake Bay. Almost as soon as I left the rain started. This was not just any rain. The skies over Batchewana Bay were heavy with thunder clouds and I ran right in to it. There was little to do but tuck down behind the windscreen and carry on. Many cars had their four-way flashers on and the road was awash in water in seconds. Astonishingly, although the coil was sitting out on the side of the bike, exposed to the worst of the rain, the bike didn't falter during the worst of the deluge. Only later, just east of Iron Bridge, once the rain had settled into a less biblical downpour, did the Guzzi splutter and eventually die. A quick spray with WD40 and we were soon running again.

    Eventually I arrived at Ken's place. My fix of the exhaust leak had done stirling duty since Edmonton but, as these things often do, it had reappeared so the Guzzi was back-firing and spluttering as I arrived in Webbwood. It was oddly appropriate as, if you remember, I'd left with the bike misbehaving too.
    #85
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  6. Brenski

    Brenski Adventurer

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    Great ride and story, as usual! I will look forward to the next book.
    That Harley rider would have been in a real flap if the dark uniformed officers had not given him a break. 139 is suspiciously 1 click shy of stunt riding/driving in a 90 zone!
    #86
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  7. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    A few facts and figures:

    ONTARIO
    Inverary On to Webbwood: 673kms (418 miles)
    Webbwood to Terrace Bay: 705kms (438 miles)
    Terrace Bay to Rennie MB : 782kms (485 miles)

    MANITOBA
    Rennie to Roblin: 556kms (345 miles)
    Roblin to Viking AB: 796kms (474 miles)

    ALBERTA
    Viking to Edson: 337kms: (209 miles) (included stop in Edmonton)
    Edson to Pink Mountain BC: 769kms (477 miles)

    BC
    Pink Mountain to Watson Lake YT: 742kms (461 miles)

    YUKON
    Watson Lake to Pelly Crossing: 719kms (446 miles)
    Pelly Crossing to Dawson City: 250 kms (155 miles)
    Dawson City to Fort McPherson NWT: 587kms (364 miles)

    NWT
    Fort McPherson to Dawson City YT: 587kms (364 miles)

    YT
    Dawson City to Teslin: 708kms (439 miles)
    Teslin to Tatogga BC: 568kms (353 miles)

    BC
    Tatogga to Burns Lake: 646kms (401 miles)
    Burns Lake to McBride: 436kms (270 miles)
    McBride to Spruce Grove AB: 501 kms (311miles)

    ALBERTA
    Spruce Grove to Saskatoon SK: 550 (341 miles) (included stop in Edmonton)

    SASKATCHEWAN
    Saskatoon to Portage la Prairie MB: 695kms (432 miles)

    MANITOBA
    Portage la Prairie to Nipigon ON: 890kms (553 miles)

    ONTARIO
    Nipigon to Webbwood: 811kms (503 miles)
    Webbwood to HOME: 673kms (418 miles)

    22 days, 13,981 kms, 8687 miles.

    (PS. These mileages are derived from Google Maps. Actual milieages are probably slightly higher - not that is matters at all).
    #87
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  8. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    In all my descriptions of the various problems that I encountered I haven't talked much about the clutch. Back when Yves was putting my engine back together after replacing the pistons, cylinders and oil pump and I was there to pick it up, he picked up the clutch intermediate plate (it's a three plate, car-like dry clutch) and said he didn't like the look of how it was showing wear.
    "Oh that will be fine" I said (or something to that effect). "It was working well before. Just bolt it up."
    So he did.

    To cut a long and dreary story a bit shorter, as the miles went by, the clutch increasingly started to give me trouble. Most of the time it didn't matter. Riding across Canada involves hours when you don't ever have to touch the clutch or gear lever. Get it into fifth and just cruise. Problems only arose through town or while stopping for the interminable road-works.

    At first all was fine. Gear changes could be a bit clunky, but it's a Guzzi, so nothing new here. Eventually though, it became difficult to find neutral at a standstill. Wait - I'll rephrase that - it became impossible to find neutral at a standstill so I had to make sure I was down through the gears and into neutral before coming to a complete stop. This is all very well for the occasional road-works, but through Edmonton morning traffic it was a nightmare. I didn't mention it to Jim - he'd have wanted to rip the clutch out right then.

    To compound these issues, the clutch became more of a light switch than a rheostat. It had two positions: on and mostly on. If I pulled the lever to the bars it would disengage the engine, but if I sat for more than a few seconds, the bike would start to move forwards without any input from me. This can be a trifle disconcerting.........

    But......with careful management it got me home, and honestly, I only have my cavalier attitude to mechanical stuff to blame. It's certainly not a Guzzi problem. The clutch has always been excellent and reliable over many miles.

    clutch.jpg
    #88
  9. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Then there's the brakes. Did I mention the brakes? I thought not. Some things are best left unsaid until you're safely back in your own domain and the bike is parked in the garage.

    The Eldorado has drum brakes. Stop rolling your eyes now - they are actually pretty good when they are properly set up, especially the 4 leading shoe front brake which can be quite effective. When I left home the brakes were working well. The rear came on softly and predictably and was strong enough to lock the rear wheel with only a moderate amount of pedal pressure. The front was a bit more aggressive. The first part of a lever squeeze didn't do much, but pull a little further and the front of the bike would start to dive and progress would slow rapidly. I'm not talking about twin-disc braking power here, but certainly enough to safely slow the bike.

    When Rhode Island Sam and I changed the rear tyre at the Pelly Crossing campground, this meant removing the rear drum as it's built in to the rear hub. Once the tyre was changed and the wheel was back on the bike, I adjusted the brake rod and assumed it would be fine. Not so! There was far too much travel at the pedal and what little braking there was, was pathetic. I gave the adjuster screw on the brake rod a few more turns which brought the pedal resistance to where it should be, but had little effect to increase its power. Perhaps I'd been a bit too liberal in my application of WD40 to the tyre and wheel parts. Perhaps I'd got some of that slippy silicone liquid on the brake shoe. Oh well, it will wear off eventually, I thought, especially when a bit of gravel dust from the Dempster makes it's way in there. That, at least, was my logic.

    It never did improve. A soft rear brake is not a bad thing when riding on dust and gravel so I barely gave it another thought. As for the front brake, if it had become a bit grabby that didn't bother me at all. Using too much front brake on gravel is a sure recipe for landing on your ear.

    On the way home I 'managed' the brakes. By keeping my distance from other vehicles, staying alert and aware of the road conditions and traffic around me (when there was any at all), I could slow the bike using the gears (see above) and rely on the brakes for those last few yards to get me stopped. Easy on the front brake though. I won't pretend it was always easy, and it did cross my mind that I'd be in serious trouble if I ever needed to do an emergency stop,

    Management of deficiencies seems to be what riding old bikes is all about. I grew up on a host of bargain-basement two wheelers with raggedy cables, useless brakes and worn out tyres, so learning to accommodate problems has become second-nature. By the time I was back in Ontario the Eldorado had more-or-less become unridable - at least by most people's standards: dragging clutch, minimal brakes, noisy exhaust - but we struggled on putting in some decently long days through inclement weather. Looking back on it, a wise person would have at least taken the time to adjust the brakes properly, but when you're close to home after a long trip wisdom doesn't always take first place.

    Over the last few miles, back on extremely familiar roads, I gave myself a talking to. 'You know Nick, most accidents happen close to home. People get careless." I deliberately slowed down, watched other road users, looked for people emerging from driveways and side roads and obeyed all the speed limits. After many untroubled and accident free days and so many miles it would have been stupid to crash close to one's own front door.

    At 6PM I rolled into my driveway, shut off the engine (before it disturbed the neighbours), gave the old girl a pat and walked into the house. I was home.

    DSCN6163.JPG

    Thanks for following along.

    Nick (July 2019)
    #89
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  10. hansen

    hansen airhead addict

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    Thanks Nick!
    Absolutely loved the whole RR, brought up memories of my trip to the arctics in 1991.
    #90
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  11. 1854cc

    1854cc n00b

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    So you like Guzzi then hey, don't ask me how I know :)
    #91
  12. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    I have been reading 'Rollin's' thread about returning to the Dempster ( https://advrider.com/f/threads/back-to-the-arctic-tuktoyaktuk.1396549/ ). Great thread, great pictures - very sorry to hear he crashed and extremely glad he's OK.

    As someone riding an 'unsuitable' bike at a slower pace on that road, I had plenty of opportunity to witness the general riding behaviour of others as they passed me in a swirl of dusk. Modern ADV bikes feel stable and secure (I've ridden them in some pretty shitty conditions, so I do know what I'm talking about ( https://advrider.com/f/threads/avoi...bruary-riding-in-the-uk-now-complete.1288030/ ) but it's too easy to get lulled into a false sense of security by their balance and power. You may feel like a Master of the Universe, up there on your pegs, the bike dancing away beneath you, the sophisticated suspension soaking up the bumps and ruts and your Heidenau's scattering the gravel - but you're not. I don't care how skilful and experienced you think you are, the laws of physics apply equally to all motorcycles and at speed there is not enough time to react to sudden changes in road conditions or other hazards.

    So, instead of racing from Tuk to Dawson City as if a Grizzly was on your tail, take it easy. Slow down. Enjoy the scenery. It is quite wonderful.
    Those emergency runways are there for a purpose. Don't be the guy that gets them brought into use.
    It's not a racetrack for dirt bikes - it's a territorial highway and one should ride accordingly.

    Nick
    #92
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  13. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    Saw you, I believe, last Wednesday between Dryden and Ignace(Almost dead center between Winnipeg and T-Bay) Havd been scanning your thread and made my day.
    Rode the Dempster on my "Modern ADV" last August so can relate somewhat.
    #93
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  14. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Front tyre. This tyre was on the bike when I left home. It never fit properly (not completely round from the factory) even though I inflated, deflated and beat it numerous times to get it to seat. I should have sent it back but it only cost $60 so I left it on. It's only showing a little wear. front on return.jpg

    This is the bargain basement rear tyre I bought in Edmonton because it was all Alberta Cycle had in stock in my size (4x18). I wasn't looking for a knobbly. I put it on at Pelly Crossing fully expecting it to wear out before I got back to Edmonton.
    It didn't. God knows what it's made of, but it carried me all the way back to Ontario (fighting with the front tyre all the way), and still has plenty of life left.

    rear on return.jpg
    #94
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  15. Flying D

    Flying D Adventurer

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    #95
  16. Flying D

    Flying D Adventurer

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    Great stuff! Along for the ride :)
    #96
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  17. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    What were you riding? There weren't so many bikes that I might remember seeing you.
    #97
  18. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    Was working actually, helping out a friend. I was driving a tri-axle gravel truck; Big blue one! That's why seeing you made my day!
    #98
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  19. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Oh well, someone has to be on multi-wheels some of the time. I was 'in the zone' so if I ignored a wave (which I try not to, whatever the source), apologies.
    #99
  20. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    A very brief video of a few moments along the Dempster Highway. Road conditions were excellent - I was lucky.

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