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!).