Sunday, November 19, 2006

Front High-Fender installed!!

FINALLY! More content! :)

It's been a long summer and nasty fall. Shortly after my return from Laguna in July the bike went up on jack stands to start some maintenance. It was there until... today. Other projects have come and gone in that time (primarily this one). Today it was time to get the KTM back on it's tires and finish up something I started buying parts for back in June! How busy one can get, is amazing.

My intent is not to do a full-featured writeup on this modification, just to cover the highlights. That will have to wait for another day. For now, just some photos showing the new home-brew high-fender conversion, how the brake lines (all stock KTM parts) routed and how much better it looked on my bike that on other's I've seen similar conversions installed. I can't wait to try it out!

Above shows the brake line routing. One line for the left caliper, one for the right. Originaly there was a single line that ran down the left fork tuble attaching via a stacked banjo joint on the left caliper. From there a crossover line went to the right caliper. In this installation I have a pair of stock left brake lines installed on the master cylinder. I was able to re-use the stock stacked bolt from the left caliper. The bolt from the master (a single banjo bolt, not stacked) was then re-used on the right caliper. In the end, crossover hose was replaced and I was able to re-use all the stock banjo/bolt hardware for the new system. After re-filling with ATE Blue racing brake fluid it's ready for testing!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Relaxing on the California Coast

After meeting my buddy John in Modesto Sunday night, we packed up the bikes and ran (and I mean RAN) for the coast to get away from the head (108F when we left Monday afternoon). It was too much for me, I guess the Californian in me has been replaced by a Pacific Northwesterner.. LOL.

Right now it's early Thursday morning, the fog is just starting to lift off the landscape. It's going to be another incredible day. It's also the beginin of the purpose of this trip. Tonight we reach Monterey, the home of the United States round of the MotoGP. Last year was just fantastic. We had general admission passes (last minute purchase since I was not sure I would have had the time off last year).

This time around we are going VIP, or semi-VIP with the HCRA Chalet package ($400 a pop but I'm sure worth every penny as the sun beats down on us). Can't wait to get down there and start checking out the happenings at the track! Trucks, teams, riders should all be arriving in town by this morning. The place will be crazy!

Also tonight we'll be meeting up with some of my Seattle friends that rode down a different route. We'll be having dinner at The Blue Fin down on Cannery Row. It's always a fun place to hang out, get some food, play some pool and watch the general mayhem down on CR that happens every year around the races. I doubt this year will be much different.

I havn't taken too many photos around Santa Cruz in the 3 days here. I guess.. it's such a familiar sight to me that I just didn't think about taking many pics, although I snapped off a couple yesterday.

Shot of the Boardwalk along the beach:

Odd sight, at least to me. The freight train rolling literally right down the main street amidst the hussle and bussle:

That is all for now. I'm to re-pack and get down the coast. I'll post more as time and internet connections allow!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Day 4 of the journey

Today is for resting. It took 2 hours to reach Modesto from Napa yesterday. There was no traffic to speak of and everyone had the hammer down. How quickly I forget how people drive down here without the over-bearing presence of the State Highwayman we deal with up north. As far as the highways go, WA is, by all accounts a 'Police State'. In 3 days here, I've seen only 1 CHP car, it was undercover (well very unmarked) and it was blasting along in traffic with everyone else.

Getting back to the story. Hwy 12 out of Napa was the ticket. Followed that to 680 south for a few miles then caught Hwy 4 East, then south to Tracy and finally down to Modesto arriving at 7:00pm. Waiting for me there was cold beer, a swimming pool and 101F tempurature (but, it's a dry heat... so they tell me).

It was not long before we started up the BBQ and discovered the beer supply was woefuly lacking. So.. into my buddies Porsche and off to the store, the long way. What a hoot.. I really do need to get me one of them thar Porshy thangs. :)

After a great meal I was able to convince John that a trip out the the Lazy-A lounge was in order. Of course that did not require much arm twisting. Much to our surprise the place was packed on a Sunday night! Oh.. and the enterainment... wow.. that was by far the best set of entertainers old man Antonio has ever had in there! We stayed until closing time, came back to the house, dropped into the pool to cool off... watched a replay of the MotoGP race then passed out some time around 4:00am. It was a grand way to wrap up the 'weekend'. :)

This computer is borrowed so I don't have the latest pictures I took available for upload at the moment, however more will soon follow. For now.. it's time to re-pack the bike and get ready to head back to Santa Cruz on the coast.

More to follow.....

Sunday, July 16, 2006

3 Days in California

Well, it's Sunday afternoon and the riding has been INCREDIBLE!!! I could write for days! However I will not since I'm in the middle of a busy internet cafe in downtown Napa. There are some wineries I want to visit before I head south on the final leg to Modesto.

Friday saw me leaving Salem early and riding I-5 into Yreka. Weather was getting warmer and warmer. This time I would not hit any snow on Hwy 3. I would also not hit ANY traffic! Zip, zero.. nada. All the way to Weaverville! I WAS FANTASTIC!

Hwy 3 really is one of the best riding highways. Technical in places, loose and open in others and the best part is nearly every foot of it's 100 mile run from Yreka toWeaverville is textbook book canyon carving.

Stayed the night in Weaverville (rented a room with a hot tub, it was SO nice to soak after a longday). Hit the local eattery (La Grande - Excellent!!!), then 'The New York' (their version of a night-club... interesting... really!) then it was back to the motel/hotel (I walked, it was nice out!) and some sleep.

Saturday was all curves. Hundres of miles of curves. Words cannot describe the incredible oddesy 'The Lost Coast' became with the heavy fog, weird people on the road... and the views.. OH THE VIEWS! And the road too. What I planned to take about 1 hour took more than 3, and I was not sand-bagging!

Hwy 36 out of Weaverville is just spectacular! Much better than 299 which is the alternatvie route I took back in April. 36 is just about one of the best roads.. when combined with Hwy 3 *AND* the Lost Coast all in one day.... it completely defies my skills to relate.

I took a lot of pictures on the way down, including a number of my signature self-portaits and on-road action shots. I don't have time to go into it all righ now so I'm just going to upload some of the pictures and let them speak for themselves... ah.. what a wonderful trip and it's just started!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Off to the MotoGP in Monterey, CA

Final prep for the MotoGP.

The time is upon me again to finalize departure plans for the MotoGP in California.

Bike saftey checked - CHECK
Bills paid to end of month - CHECK
Emergeny Contacts notified - Uh.. NOT YET
Bike packed - CHECK
Tickets purchased - CHECK & CHECK
New helmet - CHECK
Lodging arranged - SORTA

My plan for the last month was to depart tonight for Portland (arriving around midnight) then to Yreka by 2:00pm and Weaverville by 5:00pm Friday night to meet up with freinds. At this point I'm not sure that is going to happen. Work on my current project is slightly delayed, just enough that I will likely not be able to leave until tomorrow. This is me quite dissapointed.

However, this does mean that I will be able to travel with a lighter mind and really enjoy the two weeks on the road.

This time around I'm planning to post updates from the road instead of waiting to get home like I had to do last time. We'll see how that works out. When I get into full-travel mode it's unlikely that I'll want to stop to jot things down, I'll just want to RIDE.

Time (and this blog) will tell. I hope to read some interesting comments from visitors as the trip progresses, and if I can I'll upload some pics along the way. Maybe I'll see some of you on the road. If you see my big old KTM give a wave (honking the horn can be rather startling for a biker).

- OUT.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

North Cascades - Season Opener Ride

It was a cold and stormy night. Actually, it was none of that.. but I was up late the night before. Regardless, a 7:15 am departure was made, for points north and hopefully to still catch up with the main body of the group in Arlington.

Seattle to Arlington
Our small group of 4, Fritz, Pete, Chris and myself endourted the uber-alb of I-5 for what seemed like hours, evntually arriving in Arlington. Weather was not bad, a bit chilly. The rest of the group was going to meet us here, an hour earlier. Fortunatly for them they did not wait around for us.

After a quick break and purchasing some supplies we were OFF!
Arlington to Darrington

Once off I-5 the roads were a lot more interesting, not great but interesting. Heading east on SR-530 towards Darrington the payment previous night indescressions (it was Cinco de Mayo afterall) was finally over. Fritz was riding point a spirited by appropriate pace, getting us to Darrington in good time.

It would be another 70+ miles until the next services. We feuld up the bikes while making a quick trip to visit with the Wizard of Ooze.

Some of the trips highlights!

  • Darrington to North Cascades Highway
  • Meeting at Washington Pass
  • Ripping the road fantastic
  • Burgers in Winthrop
  • Wind dancing along the river
  • Blown on Blewit
  • Thick as a missed Brick

In the end... we rode 450 miles, home by 5:30pm. No tickets, no downs and despite man valiant attempts by deer to commite suicide-by-bike, none suceeded. Once again the KTM not only performed but performed in an excellent fashion! Two thumbs up.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back from California

Back from California (Santa Cruz beach)

Wow, what a great wonderful wacky and friend filled trip.

Monday - Left Seattle at 9:30pm. It was dark, rainy and I was in a bad mood from moving out of a really awesome house because my ex-wife up and left me holding the bag. Passed through Portland, OR half-past midnight. Found a motel just 25 miles south of the state line and called it a night.

Tuesday - Got up early to see thick fog and went back to sleep. Eventually got on the road around 9:00am. My mood was much better and quickly found myself in touring mode and loving it (except having to deal with Oregon to get to California). Reached Yreka around 2:00pm and decided I would eaily make Weaverville (my target for the day) so I took a great back road (about 100 miles or so) through the Trinity Alps, over a 5400 ft. pass covered with snow, and down into the valley. It was wonderful. Found a really comfortable hotel in town for $60, went to the only bar in walking distance and got a good buzz. Called it a night around midnight.

Wednesday - An old friend met me at the hotel around 10:00am and we sat and had some wine, talked about good times and bad, laughed about the silly turns life takes and just enjoyed the company. Checked out at noon and ripped along the river canyon out to Eureka on the coast. Yee ha! Headed south into Avenue of the Giants where I took some pics, tried to buy a sticker (no luck). Needed gas by Leggit and ended up paying $3.50 a gallon for it! %(OI*&(I&#$. Once out of the park it was 101 all the way to San Francisco. Reached the city by 7:00pm and managed to get clear of that cluster-**** and to my destination of the night (San Jose) before 9:00pm. Stayed up talking until midnight.

Thursday - Off to Santa Cruz and meet my buddy John at the beach. His kids were at the boardwalk riding rides and he'd staked out a nice central location on the beach to have a few beers and take in the sights. Yee HA! We dropped the kids off at the condo with is wife and went down to The Ideal for some dinnner, which turned into a night of Jeagermiester shots and we all know how those turn out. Met his very very cute neighbors. Had a lot of fun.

Friday - Woke up early (as I always do) but a bit sluggish from the night before. Around noon we took it upon ourselves to quest for some Gerbing heated clothing accessories (I needed a patch cord for my jacket liner so I could use it on the bike). Found those 30 miles south in Watsonville at a Beemer dealer of all places (*puke*). Headed back over the hill that night to have dinner with my family in Campbell and see my nieces.

Saturday - Back on the road again back to Santa Cruz too meet up at the condo again and then out for a ride with Johnny and his brother-in-law Tom. Had a kick-ass time riding those big bikes in the forest, down steep roads, meeting dopers out in the woods and getting stuck in big mud shoots on the older mountain fire roads. Later that night it was off to the Catalyst to watch a Led Zeppelin cover band, get more trashed and go looking for some friends at 'The Red Room'.

Sunday - Up early, again. Everyone was meeting up to hit The Ideal for a killer breakfast but I knew I needed to hit the road to get back here to take care of business first thing Monday morning. So at 9:15AM I lauchend out of Santa Cruz, CA heading north. By 9:00pm that night I had crossed the Oregon/Washington border and was heading north like a bat out of hell. The house where I'm renting rooms was not totally read yet and I needed to be in Tacoma (quite a distance south of the house) so I grabbed a room in Centrailia at 11:30pm.

Monday - Up early on the road to Tacoma. Got to the client's office later than I had hoped but they were glad to see me. Worked a full day, then back on the bike for the final leg home to Seattle.

What a GREAT trip. When I get my home office reset I'll upload some pictures. Sorry none of the neighbors but maybe next time.. LOL.

Maybe I'll see you on the road soon.. I'm always looking for a good excuse for a road trip!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

East to Roslyn - KTM 950 S first ride

my latest brrreeeport
It was a dark and stormy night. Well.. more like a dark and stormy morning of working on bikes until.. 5:00am! Not exactly the way you want to start off your first ride on a beast a machine, a brand new one at that.

Regardless, I'm not one to give up to easy and after an hour of convincing I was able to get Colleen sold on the idea. No sooner was it 1/2 past noon as we were out the door heading east into the.... white abys? If only we knew...

Time was short so we made it a quick dash north to the city then out east 50 miles to Snoqualmine Pass and the ski resort (Summit Ridge).

There was a little mishap along the way (right Colleen) so I found myself stopped on the side of the road waiting for a while. It seemed like a great opportunity to dig out the camera and take a few couple of pictures.

It was a cool morning. The nighway information signs where showing the temp at 35F here (about 15 miles west of the pass). As we rode higher it dropped to 30F at the top and did not seem to get any warmer at all as we dropped down onto the easter platue.

With Seattle to the west and our desitnation to the east it wsa time to stop and check maps. It had not been since last spring that I was in Roslyn (an annual pilgramage it would seem) and my brain cells on 5 hours of sleep were not at all up to the task of recalling which road to take. We'd finally decided (primarily me) that the next exit was the one we wanted, when a local pulled up along side in his pickup truck with an incredulous look.

"Are you guys riding those things out here today?". Hm.. well.. no sir. We've just trailered them all the way out here, unloaded them, and hid the truck *just in case* someone comes along so we can pretend we are out for a Sunday ride. He was a nice enough guy and saved me some embarassment by saying it was the 2nd exit that we wanted (and he was right).

Within 15 min. we rode into the heart of Roslyn and straight to certainly the most famous spot in town.

With that out of the way we rolled another block back down main street to the town's entrance and the 2nd most famous part of the town, The Brick. It was nice to get inside and have a warm meal. To my surprise the place was nearly full! All locals (save for us) since tourist season was still a couple months off. So.. it was the two of use, a few pretty drunk (loud) but happy seeming characters, and a lot of people going about normal life on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of nowhere.

As I pondered the particulars of small-town life my halibut cheddar burger and onion rights were delivered by a cute (although somewhat plump) waitress that seemed to warm up to us as soon as she saw that we were there to eat and not just 'look around'. Hot chocolate, coffee and food goes a long way towards girding one's loins for the return assault on the pass.

It was getting late in the day, we have places still to go and people to meet so we bid the town goodbye. But not before we noticed (and how could you not) this rather large mural on the side of a home of.. Marlon Brando (I'm assuming from The Wild Ones?). If you know who that is supposed to be for sure.. let me know!.

Well, it was just interesting enough for me to walk through the snow to snap a shot of it. Roslyn. It really is a quaint, odd little town. STILL successfuly selling it's suvenier wares from the town's modern heyday as the on-location site for the very successful, albiet weird (thus one of my few really loved TV shows) series 'Northern Exposure'.

The return ride promised to be a chilly but smooth ride back. With me in the lead we headed west into the setting sun. But we could not see the sun for the new clouds overhead. And in fact, it started to snow east of the pass. And then it started to snow harder. Finally it began to stick and I thought to myself. YES! This is the ride I came out here to have! But also I thought. YIKES! It's starting to look icey on the road and the highway information sign is telling me that it's below freezing. Press on though, we have places to go, and people to meet.

Once further west I let Colleen take over lead again and wind our way northwest to visit a friend on his last night of work and wish him well on the new job he was starting the next day.

Once it was all said and done it was a 400 mile day. Not too bad for a mid-winter ride over the pass to the edge of Eastern Washington. I completed my journey with a ride across the Tacoma Narrows bridge, an ill wind just starting to blow and more traffic than I expected on a Sunday. Regardless I made it home late, tired, out of fuel (myself and the bike) yet rejuvinated, at peace and fully enthralled with this new machine.

Thanks KTM!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Kid on the Block

It was a tough decision but I needed to take a serious assessment of the Gran Canyon's capabilities and determine if it really was the right tool for the job I need it to perform. In this case, make it not only to the Acrtic and back but all with way down to Cabo San Lucas as well. In one trip. Sadly.. I did not think the Cagiva was the right bike for the job.

My issues with it:
1. It's simply TOO pretty to subject the bike to the rigors and guaranteed crashes on the trip.
2. Aftermarket support. Letko in the midwest has all the stock parts one could need and only an overnight shipment away. BUT.. what I just could not find was pre-fabbed case/skid plates and super-duty luggage systems. There simply are not enough of them in this sort of service to make the market segment servicable.
3. It's too damn pretty.

After A LOT of anguish I decided to sell the bike and spend another $10,000 on the ULTIMATE (yes Beemer fans.. I SAID ULTIMATE) Adventure bike:

I honestly think this is THE bike for the job. I hope that I'm never proven wrong.

Yes, it is very tall.

Yes, it is covered in Saftey Orange.

Yes, it is a design few people other than it's mother can love.

So when it ends up on it's side on the AlCan highway... few will cry (perhaps other than myself, for a little while, I find it pretty in a very functional Austrian Origami way).

So the Adventure continues.. but on a new stead, a 2005 KTM Adventure S. Stay tuned for my on-going exploits aboard the bike I shall call....... (I'm currently accepting suggestions - vote early and vote often!).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Reno 2005 - Logbook unedited

Wednesday - September 14, 2005

06:15 - Bremerton, WA
35,118 Km
Awaiting departure. Plan to roll out 06:30 to Olympia via SR-3. Really looking forward to this trip and feel confident I
have not forgotten anything important. Next stop..? Perhaps Chehalis for fuel. At least 200 Km still in the tank.

08:20 - Shelton, WA
35,209 Km
Lots of fog on the way out. Sort of cold at 50F. Noticed that every bank along SR-3 was either 5 min. fast or slow. None even close to showing accurate time! Need to keep that in mind.
GPSMAP 76 working great on bike! Bike running well, smooth! Called home to say hello to Miranda before she went off to school. Back onto road after drinking my Rockstar Energy drink!

09:30 - Toutle River Rest Area, WA
35,314 Km
Some sun finally breaking through. Great riding so far, for a freeway anyway. Not much traffic. Semi trucks cause some nervous buffeting. Need to watch tanker trucks in particular, they seem to be the worst. Less than 1 hour until Portland!

11:45 - Albany, OR
35,525 Km
Just south of Salem. Making good time. Nice weather and MANY host blonde babes in cars. :)

14:45 - Grants Pass, OR
35,811 Km
Food break. Warm! OR roads are so damn dirty!! Was hit with multiple objects including plastic bags, cardboard boxes and a huge black 'something'. Sucked!
These are the dirtiest stretches of I-5 I have ever seen! Bike running well, me feeling very good. Could have gone 500 miles easy but gas and food sounded like a good idea. PLUS NO COPS!
Trip stats
ODO: 426.8 miles
Stopped: 00:45:30
Moving: 06:31:49
Total: 07:17:19
Avg. Speed: 65.4 MPH
Max Speed: 92.1 MPH

Next stop?!?! 1 hour to California border.

16:11 - California Border
35,924 Km
Nice run over the mountain. Too many trucks but everything else fine. Saw 1 CHP on opposite side of road. No prob.
Yreka to Redding 98 miles (I-5)
Yreka to Weaverville 122 miles (Hwy 3)
Yreka to Redding 158 miles (Hwy 3 + Hwy 299)

17:30 - Shasta City, CA
36,002 Km
Stopped at KOA and rented space. Hot here, need shower. In search of some (crap.. can't read what I wrote!! )

Thursday - September 15, 2005

03:05 - Shasta City, CA
36,345 Km
What a long strange trip it's been!
Lost on FR-25 | Old man in broken pickup
Out of gas in Dunsmure at 2:00 am | Couple gives gas. Dude's son is in Navy stationed in Bremerton! Chic was hot, got her number too!
Oh.. and of course a freight train at 3:00am!!! Again.. this is ridiculous!!

09:35 - Shasta City, CA
36,345 Km
OK. What is it about me and camping + freight trains at 3:00am!?! Sheesh, that was nuts! Thankfully I slept fitfully but slept regardless and awoke at 9:00am. Showered up, got some coffee and feel GREAT!!

Trip stats for Day 1
ODO: 756.72 miles
Avg. Speed: 58.1 MPH
Max Speed: 87.1 MPH
Stopped: 03:30:00
Moving: 13:01:34
Total: 16:32:01

Some things to NOT forget.

- At point of desperation and concern spot lone tree with arrow and #3 hand painted on it confirming which way I was going. It was dark and many sideroads / forks. Devine intervention!

- Old guy in white pickup. Coffee Creek store closing right as we rolled in. Phone to get tow truck and ferry guy back to rig. This took over an hour

- Running out of gas in Dunsmuir. Shell station, Travel Lodge, and dirtbike chic (40 but looked 30, maybe!) with gas can to help. THANK YOU LORD GOD!!

- Wonderful view of Castle Crags from forest road 25 (picture)

This morning I look up and see Mt. Shasta looming overhead. Campground is quiet and can't think of a better trip. And it's only DAY ONE!

Couple more things to remember.

- Finding two deer in the middle of raod at 9:00pm YIKES!

- Hauling ass down Hw 299 (Weaverville -> Redding at 1:00 am). TASTEY!!

- Nice people at Coffee Creek and weird local in pickup truck full of crap.

- How well bike and myself handled some knarly fire road

Time to pack up and head out!

15:52 - Modesto, CA
36,844 Km
Made good time from Shasta City. No stops. Refuel in Williams CA, back on road. GS1200 - cool bike! Need to shop for some more camping supplies.

Friday - September 16, 2005

08:45 - Modesto, CA
36,844 Km
Packed and prepared for departure. Good sleep last night! Probably last good sleep for a few days!
Packed two military MREs for eating on the road and in the desert. Now they come with thier own heating packs! Pretty slick. GS1200 is loaded down! Looks like the pack mule. Found a soft cooler that happened to color match GS. Repacked GS, adding cooler and filled it up with beer & ice.

13:45 - Alpine Lake, CA
37,023 Km
Hwy 4 awesome! Lake nice and cool. 7000 ft. pass. Shitload of trucks. Now 1/2 lane road. Next stop, Nevada.

Wednesday - September 21, 2005

02:20 - Gee Rest Area, WA
38,851 Km
Milepost 11 in WA. MADE IT! Third chain adjustment. Started to skip again right after crossing WA border. Hats off, motor feels great! Can't believe the chain/sprocket still working since major problem in Redding, CA about 500 miles ago!

03:25 - Toutle River, WA
38,921 Km
BRRRR! Fuck. The free coffee is not being manned tonight!!! Shit, really could have used it this time through. Chain still OK. Looks a little more slack but will wait to next stop + 38 miles.

06:15 - Bremerton, WA

Monday, September 19, 2005

Reno and Return

It's been wonderfuly strange trip so far. I read somewhere that it is amazing how many things can happen in one day! I'm borrowing and internect connection so I don't really have time to properly document but here are some highlights. Pictures (many) to go along with some of these stories will be posted for the full writeup.

- being hit by debris on Oreagon highways (filthies highways I've seen)
- getting lost on the forest roads of Northern California
- helping an old man with a broken truck on Hwy 3
- seeing some old biker buddies in Weaverville.
- enjoying the heck out of Hwy 299 into Redding (wonderful!)
- running out of gas a 2:00 am in Dunsmuir (where everything is closed)
- chancing up a nice woman at 2:00am that did not mace me and had a can of gas
- find out that her roomate's sun is in the Navy, in the small town where I live!
- seeing Mt. Shasta in the rising morning light over my campsite
- making amazing time from Mt. Shasta City to Modesto (down I-5 boring!)
- replacing my helmet with a Concept 1 due to damage coming though Oregon
- heading over Hwy 4 to Nevada
- stopping at Alpine Lake for a lunch. Really neat lake
- crossing two mountain passes (8000 ft. and 8700 ft.)
- NOT crashing on Cadillac Corner
- being tossed like rag dolls near Carson City due to nasty sidewinds on Hwy 395
- unpacking and repacking at friends house before going north to camp at Stead
- reaching proposed campsite at midnight under a full moon (how fortunate!)
- setting up and having borrowed tent's poles break and discover broken zippers.
- got a good night's sleep, gear working out OK despite tent.
- awake to the sounds of aircraft blasting off the runway
- getting a good location to watch and shoot pictures in the pit area
- giving Canadians next to us a hard time about the Snowbirds (it was hard to resist)
- retiring to camp for MRE's and tequilla.
- meeting neighboring campers that had been coming to airshows for last 20 years
- checking out an abandoned mental health facitliy near out campsite at midnight (spooky)
- rising early to get into show for coffee and breakfast
- saw some really strange old and new aircraft in the static display area (is the F-18/F a Super Hornet?)
- watched some great racing
- decamped and headed for south Reno
- took some shortcuts through the desert to avoid the nasty traffic backup (good test of bike and skills - no crashes)
- exhausted, tired, filthy, getting a shower and a bed on Sunday night at friends in Reno

So far.. a really awesome trip and I still have another 1000 miles to go before I return home (if I return home, hahahah).

Bike performing flawlessly. Discovered the joys of having a camel back drink system and found that the Concept 1 helmet is one of the most comfortable and quietest helmets I've yet owned (and I only bought Shoei and Arai in the past) at 1/2 the price of my last Japanese helmet.

I also need to get a real, net, tent. Less to self, thank those that lend you things but respectfully decline unless you know for SURE it's in top-notch condition. Thankfully I did not have to stake my life on the functionality of the tent! Not sure what to replace it with but I should buy something for the return legs of the trip.

As far as the return legs, I'm will tryin go figure out what I want to do. I was planning to return to Modesto with my buddy but that means about 5 hours of relentless super-slab to get back to Northern California. Thus I'm considering taking 395 north out of Nevada into California and nighting over near Mt. Shasta again, to return to Bremerton some time Tuesday afternoon. We'll see how that all works when the day is over.

More to come upon my return.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Packed and ready to roll: T-Minus 11 hours and counting..

Bike is packed and ready for departure. Estimating time of arrival in California at 7:00pm PDT. Shooting for a night over in Redding or Shasta then continuing onto Modesto on Thursday. Laundry then first light to Reno with John on his very new BMW R1200GS. God willing I'll make the trip without a hitch. Bike has new oil and chain lubed.

Some additions to the load this time around are a camp chair (more like a stool) and a proper 30F sleeping bag and for the first time in my life a proper self-inflating sleeping matress! Since I will be camping for a bout 1 week off the bike I figured the extra expense and weight would pay off in better rest.

I'll see how that plays out in the real world of MC camping. One step closer to Baja!!!

I'm breaking the trip into three segments. The first will be the longest of the legs getting out of OR and WA and as far into CA as I possibly can. Tentative stopover near Shasta (picked Redding for lack of a better place to mark on the map). Will try to night-over at a KOA or something simlar, testing out my ability to camp.

Next leg will be to Modesto. This should be an easy ride depending on how far I get on Wednesday. Goal here is to stay at my buddy John's place outside Modesto on Thursday afternoon/evening. Do some laundry (he does not konw *that* yet) refuel the body, bike, do some maint and get ready for the ride on Friday to Reno, the final leg of the trip to the races.

Plan is to get to Reno and meet up with our buddy Steve for the annual Reno Air Races heald at Stead Field just north of Reno (more about that in a previous post). Initially we could take I-80 and get there PDQ but looking over the maps I thought it might be better if we take a somewhat more scenic route into the Sierras and really give the bikes a good thrash.

Once arriving in Reno the plan is to camp Friday and Saturday night at the end of the main runway at Stead, soaking in the desert air mixed with the fumes of JET-A.

I hope that I'm able to get some sleep tonight. Probably should just start out now and ride till I'm tired, camp and continue onto Modesto on Thursday. Best part is that I've no ridgid plan other than departing from Motown on Friday morning.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Maintenance and trip planning

Tonight I completed the first oil change on the bike and will be sending the sample to Blackstone Labs for analysis. I keep records of the oil analysis on all my vehicles so that any sudden increase in wear metals can be addresed hopefully before a problem causes a breakdown. Plus it's a great way to get a picture of the health of a vehicle that was purchased used. I should have the results by the time I return from Reno.

Also started test fitting the side bags and packs. I added some more gear to my camping kit including a self-inflating mattress. I'll take pictures of it in use on my first campout in a couple of days and post about how well it works (or does not work.. yikes).

Along the way down I'm considering KOA Kampgrounds. One reason is they are a known quanity with graded camp sites, laundry facilities and some have wireless internet! Oh.. yes.. I am a propellor head.

Actually the laptop must go along so I can offload the pictures I take each day. I have several gigabytes of memory cards but the image files are large and I can only get about 100 photos on each card. I take a lot of pictures. Last year I had 1100 photos from 2 days of Air Racing. I suspect this year will produce a similar batch.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Planning annual pilgramage to Reno-Stead. RAR 2005

The Reno Air Races will soon be upon us again thus time to make final plans for my trek to the best, more exciting and dangerous motorsport in the United States. Aircraft pylon racing with super-charged, nitrous burning WWII (and now jet!) aircraft buzzing the deck at speed exceeding 500 MPH!!! 4 straight days of high-test burning, ground shaking excitement.

Most years I've flow in and the few occasions where I drove I was still living in California so the journey was not that long (about 260 miles from San Jose, CA to Reno Stead airport). This time the journey, if I do decided to ride it (and I don't see why not) will be just shy of 750 miles taking approximatly 13 hours of saddle time.

This would not be a personal record (distance wise) for me by any stretch. My personal record is 970 miles in 16 hours on a Honda VFR. My record for (sheer insanity) proving something to myself was 870 miles in the same time from Modesto to Bremerton on a Ducati 998 superbike. Many said I was nutz but I enjoyed it very much and then backed that up with another 250 mile joyride to the Olypmics. So.. 750 miles in the very comfy Cagiva should not be much of a challenge unless it breaks down which will be more challenge that I really care to have. :p

The route I planned out using Micro$oft Streets and Trips is the one I had envisioned before even checking the maps. Making a super-slab dash to the California border, over the mountains and then heading east though the Sierras and finally across the border into Nevada. 4 states in 1 day.

However, I might extend this little journey into two days just so save myself, my equipment AND to give my camping gear (OK and myself) a REAL test. It will be interesting. Really looking forward to the time off, time on the road and time with my good friends. My hope is that I can put it together and make it all work.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Camping gear - spec and test day.

Fun stuff. Once relieved of duties I set about test fitting some of my old soft luggage to the bike in combo with it's single hard case and the tent I borrowed from next door (thus, picture 1). Not too bad. The borrowed tent is still larger than I'd really like to have. It's a 3 person tent (NOTE: for kicks I bought a small 2 person kids tent that is 6' long, just a tad longer than I am tall and guess what, that tent compressed is only a very tiny bit larger than the 3 person tent.. so.. well I guess the kids have a new tent!) but that could work out just fine down the road, never know when you might need to share it, right!??!

Rear shot showing how fits with the exhaust. Better fitting than my other bike that's for sure but still, needs some work and probably some sort of protection from the pipes. They are carbon fiber but I'm sure the end caps will still get VERY hot as they did on the SBK and could melt parts of the bags.

What I really need are a set of hard cases from Motor Sport Panniers but the set for the CG are.. gulp.. $900!!! Man. That's about 1/4 the price of the bike! LOL. Well.. if I need them, I need them and complaining about the cost won't change that much. But first to check on eBay. I don't need pretty new ones. I'm not trying to win a fashion show I'm planning to survive the desert from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Pre-scratched/dented is VERY OK with me (and if you are reading this and know of a set.. let me know!!).

But that is not all I was working on today. On Friday I stopped by the REI store in Tacoma and purchased an MSR Whisperlite Internationale compact stove. Also pricey but really.. what economy having it fail or not be able to find the fuel? This thing runs on almost anything. Camp fuel (white gas), unleaded, diesel, pure kerosen.. and.. Jet fuel! Well, I think even in the middle of Baja I should be able to find enough of that to cook some food (still need to source some coffee gear, I'm going to be in BIG trouble without coffee... have some suggestions.. e-mail me!).

So today I wanted to test out the stove. Filled my 22oz fuel can with some left over white gas and followed the starting instructions. At first it was sort of scary. There is a primer cup under the burner that fills with the fluid and you need to light that. Well, I guess I did not understand the instructions right and allowed WAY more than 1/4 tablespoon to flow and have fuel running all over the place. Broke down the stove and moved it 10' away from the toxic spill and tried again.

This time it lit and wow. Sort of scary.. it's just a pretty good sized ball of fire rolling up from that priper cup in the bottom. It said to let it burn nearly all the way down then turn the fuel back on. Whoosh/whisper.. it lit and wow did it start cranking out the heat!! Having done it now, it's really a piece of cake but for a short while there I was wondering if I was going to be the 2nd civilian into space...

Let it cool down and re-packed it in the supplied 'stuff sack'. It' quite compact. I've still not figured out how to safely draw the pressure off the fuel bottle so it still has the pump installed.

Along with all this I picked up an inexpensive bag. I was going to pony for a really good one from REI but if it get's stolen down in Mexico I don't want to have to cry about it. So it's not such and expensive one but it did come in it's own stuff-sack and it's *supposed* to be rated down to 30F (-1 C). But you konw.. it's probably good to 40F which I think is a safe temp for the desert at night. Besides, I can always toss on a few layers of clothing if need be. I put it inside the kiddie tent (which I setup in the garage to test) crawled in and zipped everything up (thank goodness I live in the boonies or I'd feel like a REAL dork if my neighbors were watching me test all this stuff out!).

I *can* fit in the tent with the bag and still have room for some gear but it's not a 5'x6' square tent as I'd hoped ( because on the diagonal that would have given me over 7 1/2 feet.. no such luck). But I could fit in it if required. But as I said before when packed down it's just a hair smaller than the larger 3-person tent (wacky, yes?) so.. I think I'll stick with that. I'm not carrying this stuff on my back afterall so size/weight is not THAT critical. At least the kids now have a new tent, just in time for.. winter...

GPS mounting Rev. 2.0

Well, basically, version 1.0 was not very reliable. The reason it started flopping around I found out this morning when I checked it was that the ball bracket cracked! Thank goodness my GPS did not fall off the bike! Grrr. Not totally impressed with RAM's plastic parts. For some reason on all the websites I'm thinking Aluminum.. BBBRRZZT. I mean I knew that when I bought them at the store they were not. Erg. Digressing. System 1 did not work so I was back at square 1 (or square zero not having a clue what to do).

Then.. it dawned on me. Oh.. how simple! I had picked up some scrap aluminum plate at Navy City Metals on Friday for the car's camera mount. And there was more than I need for that project (I think). So then I thought I'd bend a bracked out of it and mount the GPS to that! Excellent. But not sure how to attach the bracket to the bike. Standstill.
Then.. epiphany number 2. I don't need no stinking bracket. That stainless U-bolt that I bought for system 1.0 could be used on the handle bar as before but instead of some arm/mount system I would bolt the GPS cradle right to the bars. And guess what right in the center there was just the right amount of room. So that's the first picture you see here.

Bolted it up and popped it in. Perfect. Now it was just a matter of adding the power wire cable to the bike so I would not have to run off batteries. There is a channel in the base of the cradle for the power cord to plug in the back. Man, I'm a genious! I.. er. drilled the hole and put the fastener RIGHT under the plug. I could not have done a better job of putting it in the wrong place if I'd done it by design. Nice work.
So this is how we come to the next picture. Remove the bracket and re-drill another set of holes. But now I'm thinking it's going to just crack down the center under the vibration (and twins do vibrate after all) and fail.

Then epiphany number 3! That plate I was going to use to bend up a bracket could be cut to become a nice large backing plate for the cradle so there would be less need for it to flex and even if it did crack the likelyhood of it coming off the bike would be very low indeed! So hacksaw and pen at the ready I re-drilled the holes so they would NOT interfere with the plug this time, drilled the backing plate, bolted it all down on the bike and viola! Problems solved, GPS mounted, power plug fits... the world is a grand old place. Except.. now I need to figure out how to wire it into the bike.
This now brings us to photo number 3. The rocket scientists at Cagiva saw to it that there was constant power to the dashboard at all times, in the form of power to the clock! YES! No need to rip apart the entire bike (too bad I'd already done that) to find some power for the GPS. I wanted it to be on all the time so I could turn off the bike while still checking possition or updating waypoints etc. It will draw 1 Amp MAX and I carry bike jumper cables anyway. I hope I never regret this decision.

Once again, digressing to the topic at hand. They also saw fit to place the power to the clock on it's one seperate pair of wires (red hot, blue ground) so they were super easy to find and even easier to solder my new Garmin GPS power wires too! The world had come back to center, all was good and I could go out and test ride the bike.. except.. I have the kids today and I can't take them on the bike for a test ride. Grounded.. no flights today.

All was not lost though, I did get out the DRZ250 and putted both of them around the yards for about 15 min. I think the oldest (Miranda) had the most fun giggling and such all the way up the gravel side-road. In the end it turned out to be a more perfect day than I had planned. Now.. I just need to get them some proper helmets (the bicycle helmets are just not really designed for that use).