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).

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Working out the GPS mount

The local boating supply (of all places) had RAM mounts in stock. And they had one for the GPSMAP76 (and not many more). Lucky me so I picked up the cradle an a universal ball mount and started to figure out a way to make it mount. Then the cheese insued. :(
After fiddling around with a couple of different mounting locations on the bars I selected an area close to the center of the bars. Moving further out it would come close to contacting the windscreen an in a crash I'm concerned it would pop it right off and I'd suffer further humiliation/damage. In the center it might have a fighting chance of surviving should I screw up big-time. I also considered placing it in the center actually over the keys but though that it would just be too big of a hassle even if I could fabricate a mount.

So here is how I did it. Pretty cheesy looking huh? Well it works. At least the mount to the bars works. The ball mount however (even with the tightenting screw I added) is just way too lose. I'm not at all happy about how that is working (or not working) out. I sourced a stainless u-bolt and drilled an offset hole in the lower plastic mount and bolted that to the handle bars. This mimics RAM's mounts for the bars but the base they use for the ball obviously is different than the one I purchased. Rats. Regardless after trimming down the threaded section it all went together.
I then purchased a pack of small stainless machine screws and nuts to use on the upper section of the ball mount to tighting it up. It sort of worked, for a while but after a 100 mile test trip (not even on any dirt roads being midnight and riding alone.. why push it) it was loose and floppy. Not to my liking. So now I need to come up with something more robust. No way do I feel like it would stay on the bike on a trip to Baja!

Back to the drawing board.