KLR650 update

It appears that I have licked the hesitation problems.

I now have about 1500 miles on the last updates.

Wow, what a finicky carburetor.  Or, maybe it was just that fucked up.  The previous (first) owner did manage to destroy a perfectly good engine at 6000 miles.

I took the KLR out to the Santa Rosa – Clovis area to run down some more roads that I hadn’t been on before.  I found windmills, Historic roadside signs, roadrunners and ruin porn.  Pictures in my photo albums.  I ran about 650 miles in one day without a single hiccup.  That’s about 3 tanks of gas.  Maybe it just needs to be ridden more.

I’ve chronicled my frustrations and work with the KLR over the last couple of years.  It really has taken that long to get this thing sorted out.  I do have another bike to ride, so that does contribute to longer stretches between fixes.  The frustration piles up and it’s easier sometimes to just park the broken bike and ride the other one.  This time, the VStrom has the worn out chain and front tire and is waiting some of my time to remedy, so the KLR gets exercised.

The hesitations were coming solely  from the carburetor.  There doesn’t seem to have been another source.  Briefly, a bad chain added to my searching and I had a complete failure of the stator.  Those were easily fixed.

The carb, on the other hand just needed to be cleaned over and over and over again, the interior parts changed out, some twice.  I went with an aftermarket needle and jet kit which gave me a much too large main jet, which I didn’t figure out for some time.  I replaced the float needle, but the crap gas builds up on that quickly when you don’t run the bike often enough.  The float always seemed good, but the last hesitations were banished when I replaced that as well.

I did replace the stock needle kit with the KLX adjustable needle kit.  I should have done that in the first place.  I now have a 142 main jet with the klx needle on the second clip.  The 142 is for stock exhaust, stock airbox, high altitude and the KLX needle.

The bike is running very smoothly now.  The only vibrations are from the tires as I went to a more aggressive Kenda K270 tires.  I have one rear and three fronts, so I’ll probably be using these for awhile.  I probably would have chosen another tire, but I have a bunch of these on the shelf from the previous owner and I might as well burn them up.  They do grip well off road and the on road behavior is acceptable, even at 75mph.  I really liked the Shinko 705 for the road, but off road, they really aren’t much good for anything but graded roads, unless you like to slip all over the place.


When I left off, my KLR was rideable, but it was still randomly hesitating.  Very slight, very random and a long time between, but still there.

I put another 500 miles on the bike with no noticeable change from this randomness.  I was starting to get used to it, when the bike just stopped running again.  No warning, it would start, but it wouldn’t idle, then it wouldn’t accelerate, then it wouldn’t run.

Here we are again…  I’ve got to admit, I’m getting more that a bit frustrated with this pig.  So, off with the carb again.

I clean it, and clean it and clean it.  Put it back together and nothing good.

So, I order parts:

  • I had changed out the stock idle needle for an aftermarket part that has an outside knob on it so adjustments are easier.  I order the stock parts.   I’ve heard that the aftermarket part can cause some problems.
  • The float seems fine, but my lack of gas at high speed might be a float problem and the float is original as far as as I know, so I order a new float.
  • The float needle was replaced a couple of years ago, but I don’t know what the local fuels are doing to it, so I order a new float.  This one does seem to stick a bit, anyway.
  • I order a new idle jet just because.

So, all the parts came in 2 weeks ago and off the carb comes again and clean, clean, clean.  All the parts in, hit the start button and it idles!  Yeah!  After some off/on with the carb to get the float right, the bike actually runs too.

Sunday I ride off on some mixed roads.  50 miles in, it starts spluttering again – fuck!  Oh…. time for reserve, I’m out of gas.  230 miles and everything is running quite well again.  Nice.  Bike is smooth.

Monday morning, I come out and start the bike for another ride.  It won’t idle.  Fuck!  It won’t rev.  Fuck!  1 hour later, I find that mud daubers have plugged the overflow line from the carb.  Clean that out, change the oil because running the bike has pumped gas into the airbox and flooded the bike, cylinder and airbox:  bike runs fine again!  Yeah!

Yesterday, another ride.  250 miles of mixed roads.  No problems at all.  Bike is smooth, 215 miles to reserve – all good here.

I hope this stays good.  I’m changing gas stations just in case the one I’m using doesn’t have a good detergent in it.

Some pics from my ride, these are from north of Ojo Caliente in NM:

Metal Chair in the woods

Road Ends

Ruin Porn

Ruin Porn

Along the road

Ruin Porn

Nice Valley above Petaca, NM


I have a few other articles about my problems with my 2005 KLR650.  It all started as a intermittent but persistent hesitation under load.  It would idle fine, run wide open throttle fine, but under about 5200rpm it would randomly and fairly rapidly hesitate, like it had dirt in the fuel that was catching in the jets.

It really felt like a carburetor issue and I focused on that at first, but made no headway.  To eliminate other issues, I moved on to the ignition system – no love there – the wiring harness – all ok there – the safety switch system – nope – the chain – yes, but didn’t fix all of the problem – bearings, nope, brakes – rear brake dragging and fixed but not the whole problem.

I’m back to the carb and it now appears this is my problem.

Some 10,000 miles ago, I bought a Moose Racing needle and jet kit and installed it.  I never really checked into the jet size, thinking they sell a lot of these things, they must know what they are doing.  The bike ran really well for 9000 miles.  Even got rid of my decel popping.  I dismissed this as my problem as it worked for 9000 miles.

I don’t know what changed, but this was my problem.  The Moose Racing kit has a 150 main jet, the standard KLR needle and I added a #4 stainless washer under the needle to give it a bit richer run – called the .22 cent mod.

I was out of ideas, so I ordered a KLX needle kit for the KLX offroad motorcycle from Eagle Mike.  I live at 6000 feet and normally ride at higher altitudes, so Mike included a 138 main jet – his kit normally includes the 140, 142 and 145 jets, but for high altitude he substitutes the 145 for a 138 main jet.  The KLX needle has four positions and a clip for you to choose the position of the needle, where the stock KLR needle has only one position and no adjustments.

I set up the bike with the 138 main jet, the needle on position 2 (from the top) and one washer under the needle.  The idle screw turned out 2 full turns.  99% of the hesitation is gone.

I still have an occasional slight hesitation here are there.  It’s annoying because I’m sensitive to it.  I’m not sure anyone else would notice.  The slide is also not returning quickly and I think my diaphragm or slide isn’t operating correctly.  I have a new one of those as well, so will install that soon, to see if that last of the symptoms go away.

At least my KLR is rideable again!

Being Thankful

I’ve been reading on Facebook about interesting/odd experiences that people have had as kids while visiting their friend’s houses.  One of those stories brought back a memory of my childhood:

I grew up in a family that went to church on Sunday, but wasn’t overtly religious.  At times, my parents had to travel for my father’s job.  I was usually farmed out to a relative or friend of theirs, some of whom had kids my age.

I had stayed with this particular family several times, but never over the weekend.  Their farm was isolated and at least 20 miles from town.  They had two boys and two girls, I was in the middle, age wise.  They went to a different school than I did so I didn’t know them all that well.  Their daily family life seemed normal to me and not that much different from my own at home.

One trip, my parents were going to be gone for over a week and they agreed to take me in for that week.  The week went normally, with the only difference between our family life being farm chores, where I was a town kid.

Sunday came and, as usual, I expected to go to church.  That’s where my education on how different churches and beliefs are came into my awareness.  Our family’s church was fairly generic.  Not a lot of hellfire and brimstone, a few songs, a sermon, meet and greet with cookies and milk afterwards.  Took about 50 minutes.

Not this one.  This was my introduction to an evangelical church.  Church started early, went late, there was sunday school, separate adult meetings and lots of scary stuff about hell and fire and sin.  It was all new to me, so I just took it in and saved it all for later processing.  The differences in how each church system interpreted the same book was rather eye opening.

Later, back at the ranch, life went back to mostly normal.  Necessary chores, big mid afternoon meal and relaxation.  Not a bad way to spend a nice summer afternoon.  As the later than normal supper ended and the dishes were put away and it was time for bed, we were all called into the living room where everyone in the family took their positions kneeling before a chair.  We never did this at home, but I followed suit and did the same, figuring out that there would be a prayer before bed.  We never did this at home, but no biggie.  Then the lights were turned out – pitch black.  OK, that’s different.  Silence.  More different.  We didn’t do this at home, I had no coaching, I had no idea what to do, so I simply knelt there quietly.  Then the father started a prayer.  OK, something to listen to.  He was talking about thankfulness.  I started zoning, just like I did at our church.  As he wrapped up, he asked that we go around the room and say what we were thankful for – silence.  No one talked.  One of the kids gave me a big nudge – apparently it was guests first.  I stammered out something, the youngest followed and up the line back to Dad.

I got a few odd looks on the way to bed, but nothing was said.

What strikes me now, thinking back on this, is how their family just assumed that I would know what to do and when.  That all families did this at home.  It set in my mind that not every family lived like mine.  I knew that different households had different rules – you could raid the fridge in some people’s house, but not in others, for instance.  I knew on some level that the rituals between churches were different.  I had been to the Catholic and Lutheran church services as well as my own.  The rituals were different, but the messages were mostly the same.  But I had never been in a household where church rituals occurred at home, where religion surpassed daily life in some ways.  Where the families assumed that I would automatically know how to join their daily rituals and just know their rules.   From their standpoint, they seemed confused that I didn’t know what to do – even the parents.  That speaks to the isolation of their living and the inexperience of a young man.



I’m having problems with the 2005 KLR650 again.  The last time I had a slight hesitation while under steady throttle it turned out to be the stator/pickup coil.  At 20,000 miles the pick quit running and wouldn’t start again, there was no spark.  In doing my checks, the stator and coil pickup tested as failed.  I replaced both the stator and the pickup with used parts off EBay and the problems went away.

The engine is stock.  The exhaust is stock.  The carb has one washer (.22 mod) under the needle and the slide is drilled.  UNI filter.  The airbox is stock.  The petcock is manual and flowing.  The Vacuum line has been blocked off.  The chain and sprockets have been changed out recently.  The brakes and rotors are in good condition.  Wheel bearings are in good condition.

At about 21500 miles the hesitation came back.  This is a fairly random pattern that usually starts at around 3000rpm and stops at about 5200rpm.  The bike starts and idles normally and runs flawlessly at 5500+ RPM.  The hesitations aren’t noticeable on trailing throttle or under acceleration.  It happens in all gears.  It was only happening when warmed up, but now starts almost immediately upon startup.  The tach doesn’t seem to move under steady throttle.

I have pretty much ruled out carb issues.  There is nothing in the carb that I haven’t been through three times.  It was rebuilt with a Moose Racing rebuild kit at 16,000 miles.  The float is set properly with the fuel level just above the bowl to body line.

So on to ignition system.  The battery is charging and the regulator (yellow) wires ohm out at .7 each pair. No open circuits.

The Pickup Coil shows 113 .  It’s OK.

The Exciter Coil shows 130 .  It’s OK.

The Primary Coil  Resistance shows .2 to .3 .  It’s OK

The Secondary Coil Resistance shows 4.5 .  It’s OK

The Cap Resistance shows 5.4. It’s OK.

the diode shows 6/6/6 vs infinity/infinity/infinity   It’s OK

The CDI box: I=INFINITY  Number in Brackets is from Clymers

W                 R               R/G                  L/R               B/W                B                     Y/B

W                          I (I)            24(I)                7.4(I)             7.4(I)              I(I)                 7.4(I)

R     I(10-55)        X             5.7(5-25)         5.7(5-35)          I(I)             5.6(5-25)        5.7(20-90)

R/G   I(2-10)      .9(2-10)         X                   2.6(1-6)           I(I)               0(0)                25(10-50)

L/R    I(4-20)      7(4-20)     2.7(1-6)               X                  I(I)               2.6(1-6)            27(10-55)

B/W      I(I)             I(I)             I(I)                   I(I)                 X                    I(I)                     I(I)

B         8(2-10)      3.7(2-10)    0(0)              2.6(1-6)           I(I)                   X                    25(10-50)

Y/B     I(15-80)     .9(15-80)  24(10-50)      27(10-55)     I(I)                 25(10-50)               X

That’s a lot of measurements that are off.  This may likely be my problem.



My Motorcycles

I tend to keep my bikes for long periods of time.  I’ve never had enough extra cash to constantly go for the shiniest and flashiest new bike out there.  I agonize over each purchase, sometimes for years before actually seeking out a good used example and pulling the trigger. None of the pictures are of my actual bikes.  Just Web representations of what I had.  Most of my bikes have scars on them and look well used.

My parents weren’t all that interested in my having a motorcycle as a kid.  They didn’t object to my riding other people’s though, so my first ride was a Briggs and Stratton engined mini bike that probably got all the way up to around 12mph.

My bosses’ Honda 90 was the next step – and a step through –  and I did manage to put more than a few miles on that orange beast.

College gave me some saved cash and the freedom to choose.  I really didn’t have any experience with motorcycles and there was no training.  I didn’t even have my motorcycle license.  Dead of winter in Wisconsin, I visited a motorcycle dealership.  In those days and that part of the country, the used bikes were kept in the back room and you had to ask to go see them.  This dealership had about 30 used bikes back there and I poked and prodded and looked and touched.  There was no internet back then so information on how to ride, what to ride and the differences in types of bikes were pretty much non-existent.  You had to have experience or friends who wouldn’t lead you astray.  I had neither.

This one dusty, black machine way back in the corner caught my eye.  It was only four years old at that point and had very few miles on it.  It was big and bold for the time with a really cool LCD dash and a huge fairing on it.  Better still, it had an affordable price on it – to everyone else, it was an ugly duckling and most unwanted.  It was a 1983 Yamaha Virago 920.  Japan’s early answer to Harley Davidson’s dominance in the cruiser market.  I rode that bike everywhere, though 2 hours at a time was all the seat would allow.

Soon enough, college was over and I had a job with enough money for a new bike.  It wanted more speed, better handling and I found another used bike to drool over.  Again, all I had were motorcycle mags and a few friends who all rode Harleys.  Even then I just didn’t get the Harley thing.  I wanted something sportier.  I rode a used Honda with a Kerker sport can on it.  Wow!  That thing barked!  It was a Nighthawk S.  700cc’s of pure power with a scream at the high end.  It was fast!  At least from my experience at the time.  It looked good, in fact it’s still one of my favorite motorcycles from that perspective.  Unfortunately, I soon found that what sounds great on a test ride gets droningly, excessively irritating after about 1/2 an hour – proof to my ears that the Harley loud pipe thing wasn’t going to do anything for me..  Still no internet and finding someone who still had the original four into two exhaust system in their garage was almost impossible at the time.

First marriage puts a bit of a hold on my motorcycle life.  Divorce brings it back.

My new job and my first and so far only impulse buy.  A shiny, brand new 1999 Triumph Sprint ST!  955cc of three cylinder power.  To me, the fastest, most powerful bike I’ve ever owned and to date of this writing, still have every owned.  What a bike.  I rode that thing everywhere.  It went to every state and province west of the Mississippi and several East.  It took me to Alaska.  It carried me to 100,000 very satisfying and extremely reliable miles.  I loved that bike.  Even the stock seat agreed with me.  I didn’t change anything about it and it became the source for my love of Iron Butt riding.  Riding Long Distances in short periods of time.

During this period, I became interested in old bikes.  I had a nice shop with lots of tools and good knowledge of how to do things.  At breakfast with my motorcycling buddies one Sunday morning, I was introduced to my next obsession:  Vintage BMW.  I found a 1974 R90/6 with the S fairing and most of the important stuff already done to it.  Awesome.  It was as different from the Triumph as anything I had ever ridden.  I would get on either bike and go, yeah!  This is why I ride.  Completely different reasons, but each gave me a thrill every time.  It really was a nirvana of riding for me.

During this time of two bikes, there were some forays into other worlds:

Honda VFR750,




Suzuki VStrom 1000,




Honda Shadow 500,




Triumph Tiger 955,




Suzuki VStrom 650.




Finally, my Triumph had enough miles on it to be moved on and I went to one bike for the first time in many years.  Eventually, finances forced me to give even that one up.  It just took too much money to maintain and I was left with the VStrom 650.

Aside from its funny name, the VStrom is a competent bike, but really not very exciting or overly exceptional at anything.  Initially, it was one of the more uncomfortable bikes I had ever owed, the Honda Nighthawk being the worst.  I would start squirming after 30 minutes and I couldn’t stand to ride more than about 1.5 hours at a time.  Luckily, the VStrom is very affordable so I could afford a custom seat, bar backs, heated grips, luggage, protection bars, different windscreen and a few other goodies.  I have now done several 1000 mile+ days with three 1500 miles in 24 hour runs and a 50cc Quest – New York to San Francisco in 50 hours.

The VStrom supposed to be competent enough for dirt riding, but I have found it high strung and not fun on the dirt.  So I bought a KLR650 to remedy that.  Much, much better.  I ride the KLR for my dual sport stuff and I ride the VStrom for the out of state stuff.  Though I’ve taken the KLR for more than several 750 mile + day rides.

That seems to be my mantra.  Buy a cheep bike, the KLR was purchased for a bit over $2000.00, outfit it for comfort – another $2000.00, then ride the crap out of it, fix it as necessary and shovel another one under all of the accessories when the first one isn’t worth fixing anymore.  It sure beats a $20K BMW or $30K Harley.

So, that’s it for now.  I am riding the VStorm 650 (78,000 miles) on my long distance adventures and my KLR650 on my in state adventures (20,000 miles)

I’ve Been There!

A listing and commentary of places where I have ridden a motorcycle.  I have been to many other places, but this is primarily a motorcycle blog:

The Continents:

  • North America
  • Europe

The Countries:


The States:

Alabama:  Muscle Shoals – where music lives!

Alaska:  I have a lot more exploring to do in this, our largest state with the fewest roads.  I’ve been to Hyder.  A very long ride, but more manageable that heading further north and it is Alaska!  Prudhoe Bay is on the bucket list.

Arizona:  Most would list the Grand Canyon here and it surely is impressive, but Arizona offers much more to see.  From Organ Pipe NP, to Flagstaff.  From Chiricahua NM and tombstone in the SE to Hoover Dam in the NW.  One of the best riding roads in the country and perhaps the world is old route 666, the Devil’s Highway (now route 191).  Arizona has a lot to offer motorcyclists.

Arkansas:  Especially northern Arkansas.  Pick a road, any road, you will enjoy it.

California:  I’ve biked to Hollywood and Pink’s, San Diego,  Death Valley and Sacramento and the northern forests.  I’ve been to alphabetically last Zzyzx.   My favorites are the deserts, though they are more hospitable in air conditioned comfort outside of February and March.

Colorado.  Anywhere north of New Mexico and west of Denver.  Just do it!

Georgia:  I didn’t have a lot of time for exploration, but there do look like some interesting roads in the north of the state.  I’ve stopped in Atlanta.

Idaho:  Hands down the Craters of the Moon is the place to visit.  You think you’ve seen stark, barren and remote – and you have just driving to the Preserve, but the place itself is out of this world.  You’ve just got to visit once.  Don’t forget to peer through the fence, from a respectable distance, at the Navy base along the way.  Yes, a navy base in the middle of Idaho.  And not a lake, sea or ocean in site!

Indiana and Illinois:  Just gotta endure these to get to better places.  I’m sure there are things to see here, but I haven’t found them yet.

Iowa:  The future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk!  Yes, that would be in Riverside, Iowa.  I’ve been there in the off season, but come Summertime, there are some grand celebrations.

Kansas:  Nothing to see here.  Keep moving.  If you like odd places, Lebanon, Kansas has the geographic center of the US.

Louisiana:  I’ve visited New Orleans by car.  I’ve been through Baton Rouge by motorcycle.

Maryland:  Just passing through.  Looks like it could be an interesting place to explore.

Michigan:  Everyone should do the Mackinac Bridge in gale force winds on a motorcycle just once!  Beside having it’s own beauty and several of the great lakes, Michigan is a portal to Sault Ste Marie and Canada!  You’ve got to try it once.

Minnesota:  Land of 10,000 lakes.  Not that other states don’t have more lakes, Minnesota just advertises their better.  The northern forests are pretty cool and while water doesn’t always make for good motorcycling, it is pretty cool up there.  Polaris and Victory are also headquartered here.

Mississippi:  Also just passing through, but will be back!

Missouri:  Barbeque.

Montana:  Hands down one of the best motorcycling roads in America runs south into Wyoming from Red Lodge, Montana.  The Big Horn sheep were out on my last run through there.  Yellowstone, Glacier, and Prairie Dog State Park are here also.  The Rocky Mountains take people’s breath away, but the plains, the badlands and the Missouri Breaks have hidden treasures as well.

Nebraska:  I’ve been through here many times.  Never stopped anywhere….

Nevada:  the loneliest highway in America!  Aliens – and not the ones from the southern border either.  Las Vegas.

New Jersey:  Overnighted here for my 50cc Quest IBA ride.

New Mexico:  I have ridden most of my motorcycling miles here.  I still haven’t seen it all though I’ve about run out of pavement to try.  The KLR650 will help there.

New York:  Upstate New York looks interesting.  I’ve yet to get there.  Coney Island – check.  New York City – check.  Manhattan – Check.  Staten Island Ferry – Check.  Statue of Liberty – check.  Ground Zero – check.  I’m not a fan of big cities.  Even the traffic at 3am is horrendous.

North Carolina:  This will require a good week of exploration, just for the roads.

North Dakota:  You have to get off the freeways to see anything here.  People are bored and over educated so just keep your eyes open and you will see stuff like this:

Ohio:  The AMA museum is worth the visit and the river roads of the East and SE are pretty awesome too.

Oklahoma:  Not much for riding other than riding through.  Go see the Cowboy Hall of Fame museum in Oklahoma City.  Well worth the ride.

Oregon:  Crater Lake has been the highlight so far.   What a picturesque place!

Pennsylvania:  Just passing through, though I found a great model railroad museum and equally great apple pie in Shartlesville.  It’s not big enough to have two restaurants or even two museums.  Stop in anyway.

South Carolina:  A quick dip in the corner.  Beautiful.

South Dakota:  The Black Hills.  Sturgis, if you go for that sort of thing.

Tennessee:  Also looking forward to coming back with more time – roads in the east.  I’ve been to the blues clubs in Memphis by car.

Texas:  Too damned big and too damned hot.  I do like Big Bend area and the Hill Country, though.

Utah:  Where to start.  There are so many National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments and other places to hike, off road, on road, ride around, that Utah ranks high on my list of places to keep going back to.  One of my goals is to get to the Bonneville Salt Flats – I’ve ridden past, but not stopped.

Virginia:  Just passing through.

Washington.  I need to spend more riding time here.  Done Seattle, Done the deepsea salmon fishing thing, but I’ve only managed to ride a few great roads from north to South, seeing Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens from a distance.  Still beautiful, though.  Can’t wait to explore some more.  How can you stay away from a state that has such great town names as Yakima and Brewster.

West Virginia:  It was dark, but you had a great hotel!

Wisconsin:  Land of Cheese, Beer and people who have nothing better to do than figure out how to deep fry stuff.  Inventors of Deep Fat Fried beer, butter, snickers and pretty much everything else that might be edible.  Their county fairs and the state fair are great places to partake.  The great lakes are vast and interesting.  The House on the Rock in SW Wisconsin doesn’t look like much from the parking lot, but pay your dollars and give yourself a few hours to walk through this eclectic home/museum.

Wyoming:  Yellowstone is great, but not for motorcycling.  Too many cars and tourists.  Take in Hell’s Half Acre instead – it’s out west of Casper and I guarantee you will be the only person there. Devil’s tower is worth a visit as is the medicine wheel in the north central part of the state.  Wyoming’s western culture is barely concealed behind the facades of the old west towns dotted along the roadways.


The Provinces of Canada:

Alberta:  A foray into the western end.  Much more to see here.

British Columbia:  Beautiful.  Must go back again and again.  Vancouver is on the Bucket List.

Saskatchewan:  Spent many a summer as a kid up there.  I’ve motorcycled in the grassy plains of the south.

Ontario:  A must ride along Lake Superior.



Spring Trip 2015

I found an older write up I had on a Blogger site that I forgot I had.  Here is a write up of my Spring Trip in 2015:


I never seem to have exciting motorcycle trips.  The bike always works, I’ve never had to deal with a trip ending breakdown.  I’ve never been stopped by weather..  I almost never see anything extraordinary.  Not that I’m complaining!  Too much…

This trip was no different.

Santa Fe >> Kansas City, MO >> Tulsa, OK >> Fargo, ND >> Froid, MT >> Santa Fe

New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado

3609 GPS Miles

10 Days

Friday afternoon and Saturday:

I started in Santa Fe, NM heading north and East towards the corner of New Mexico.  A bit unusual for New Mexico in that I was in my rain suit before Pecos, only 30 miles into the trip.  A gymnastic feat I would repeat five times on this trip and once when I should have but got soaked before I could get pulled safely over.  But, most rain is nice for those of us who live in the desert.  As long as it doesn’t impede our progress, we usually welcome rain anytime it wants to visit.

I was finally able to leave work at 1:30, so a late start on the day.  I needed to be in Kansas City for a Ride To Eat (RTE) no later than 10:30 Central time on Saturday so a long day, short night ahead.  I had planned to stop for the night around Wichita but at that point, I was feeling pretty good about riding so I pressed on.  Following my GPS ended up putting me away from hotel opportunities and I finally stopped about 1.5 hour beyond my fatigue about 100 miles from the Missouri border.

The RTE at Snead’s Barbecue in Belton, Missouri was as good as last year, with about 30 attendees who appeared out of the wet remnants of the massive flooding the week prior in the Houston area.  As I left in the early afternoon for my 2.5 hour run to Tulsa, the humidity and temperatures spiked.  I arrived at my friend’s house in Tulsa with 95 degrees and 98% humidity.  Wow!

Sunday afternoon and Monday:

With Temps and Humidity at near record levels for early June, I left for cooler climes in the north.  My goal for Sunday afternoon was somewhere in South Dakota.  Keeping to US75 meant not having to go through any major cities, though on Sunday that wouldn’t have been all that terrible.  Sioux Falls winds up it’s sidewalks very early though and the only food I could find at 10pm was gas station pizza.  The hotel was clean and quiet at least.  Monday noon found me at my Aunt Karen’s house in Minnesota near Fargo, ND.   A home cooked meal with pot roast and all of the little comfort foods I remembered as a kid put me to sleep about as fast as I could get into bed.  The last time I was here was 9/11/2001.  This time, we left CNN off.

Tuesday and Wednesday:

Traveling days.  Lunch with my Aunt Karla in Fargo and an overnight with my Aunt Trudy in Devil’s Lake, ND.  Great lunch sandwich and grilled steak with garden veggies were the fare.  Final stop in my original home town of Froid, MT.  Seeing my 97 year old Aunt Lil the highlight of my last planned stop.

I had been warned about traffic in the Williston Oil Basin and was expecting a lot more than I found.  The price of oil is down and there are a lot of rigs idle right now, but I can certainly see that the boom created a lot of new stuff in an area that usually doesn’t change much.

Thursday and Friday:

Visiting days.  Tim, my childhood minister, my Aunt Lil a couple of times, staying with high school friends and seeing a high school classmate for the first time since graduation.  Friday night with my best friend for all of these years.

Saturday and Sunday:

The 1100 mile push home.  Fighting fatigue and plugged up ears the whole way, I made it to Denver finally.  Ignoring the dark cloud until there was no opportunity to pull over was a large mistake.  At least it was a warm rain.  The Castle hotel in Castle Rock was a nice, quiet place to overnight and the final half day went very fast.  Breakfast buffet at the family restaurant in Raton, NM capped off a great, but uneventful week.

Sept 12

The rally is over, but we meet for group pictures and a dip into the Pacific Ocean.  My boots are still waterproof.  Breakfast afterward and I’m off for home by noon.  I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge last night.  Today, my GPS decides to take me through the middle of San Francisco downtown to the Bay Bridge.  At least I got to go over both bridges, but it take over an hour to go through the downtown traffic.  Good thing I’m not on the clock.

My third bridge and I’m off for Sacramento again.  Instead of taking the interstate back up, I’m going to take highway 50 back to Utah.  The California part is twisty and fun, except for the long one lane construction runs nearing Lake Tahoe.  It’s taken more time to get here than I anticipated and even with my late breakfast, I’m hungry.  Near the Nevada border I find a bar with a grill, excellent burger.  I catch part of Monday night football and I start looking for a hotel.  Everything is sold out in the middle of Nevada, so I end up laying up short in Fallon where I can watch the end of the game.  The Packers won yesterday, even if I didn’t get to see the game.  I have a longer ride tomorrow.  Nevada’s Highway 50 isn’t called the loneliest highway for no reason.

Sept 13

Nevada is full of wind again.  Then rain.  Then Thunder and lightning.  Then more rain.  Wind is still from the North, but it’s on my left now, so wearing out the other side of the tires.  Utah sees the wind blow somewhere else and the sun comes out.  It is so beautiful here.  I really need to come back with more time to do hikes in this area.

My plan is to stay in Moab, but there is a music festival and there are no rooms.  Same for Monticello.  I get one of the last rooms in Cortez, Colorado.  Cell phones with data are very handy.  I’m tired and Cortez is too far for tonight, but I do it anyway.  Hotel is welcome.  Bed is comfortable and I sleep well.

Sept 14

Last day of the trip.  The weather is beautiful and I’m up at dawn and on the road.  Homecoming is sweet and at 11:30am.  I have time to take a nap before night.

Sept 15

Back to life.

  • I have traveled 7200 miles total
  • The rally travel distance was 2946 miles
  • I was out 12 days and had 3.5 non riding days.
  • I succeeded in getting my 50cc the hard way from the Iron Butt Association
  • I rode through 26 states.  I rode a motorcycle through 15 of these states for the first time.  I visited 9 of these states for the first time.
    • New Mexico
    • Texas
    • Arkansas
    • Louisiana
    • Mississippi
    • Alabama
    • Georgia
    • South Carolina
    • North Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Virginia
    • West Virginia
    • Maryland
    • Pennsylvania
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • Ohio
    • Indiana
    • Illinois
    • Iowa
    • Nebraska
    • Wyoming
    • Utah
    • Nevada
    • California
    • Colorado

NotSupermanRally – The Rally

Sept 10

I’m up at 2:30am Eastern time.  I had put most everything on the bike last night.  I only have one trip of stuff to the bike.  Dressed and packed, I’m at the bike with everything on it by 3:00am.  The GPS is set for the Mobil station at Coney Island.  25 minutes later I’m fueled up, checked in and eating a banana and the first of my twizzlers and beef jerky.  I’ll be living off this stuff for the next two days.  Our pilot car is ready to take us out of New York state and to I-80.  After that, we are on our own.  I’m third in line out of the parking lot.  I keep the pilot car in sight all the way to I-280, half the bikes got lost in traffic lights and lane changes.  We are all big boys, they will have to follow their GPS.

We are on our way.

It funny how a few minutes can make such a difference.  The front 10, of which I’m a part of, get a few sprinkles.  Behind us, I find out later, the back end of the pack get a fair shower to send them off into New Jersey.  No worries, we’ll all get more of that on the way.

This rally is pretty much all pre-planned.  My stops are all planned.  I have to stop for a receipt every 350 miles maximum.  My stops are:

  1. Clarion, Pennsylvania
  2. Howe, Indiana
  3. Tipton, Iowa
  4. Lincoln Nebraska
  5. Ogallala Nebraska
  6. Laramie, Wyoming
  7. Rock Springs, Wyoming
  8. West Wendover, Nevada
  9. Lovelock, Nevada
  10. Golden Gate Bridge

I have to make 9 stops for gas, so I’ve made the first few as close to 350 miles as possible.  As I get in to night riding, I’ve narrowed up the stops to give me more time to rest.  It is all about sitting and twisting the right wrist.  Keeping the speed constant, not stopping unnecessarily and minimizing the stopping time when you have to stop.

Big clouds ahead in Western Iowa.  Radar app on the iPhone says rain ahead, it’s time for rain gear and I’m not anywhere near a gas stop, so I have to make an extra stop.  I find a roadside pull out and take advantage of the easy on/off.  Another rider pulls in as I shrug into my rain jacket.

The rain is minimal, but I’m glad I put the gear on.  It would have soaked my outer jacket and my gloves.  Makes for an uncomfortable ride that way.  By Joliet, the sun is out just in time for sunset in a couple of hours and I take my rain gear off at my Iowa stop.

Traffic falls to minimals and it’s night driving.  I haven’t seen any of the other riders and Ruth says I’m in the front third of the pack, by the SPOT tracker for the group.  I’m making good time.  I slide through Omaha.  Lincoln is my next gas stop where my dinner partner from a couple nights ago pulls in.  We ride together for a couple of hours, but he pulls off before I’m ready.  Ogallala and I’m past halfway there.  It’s 1:00am central time and I’m on the cusp of Mountain time zone.  I’m making good time.  I’ve gotten 1598 miles of 2935 miles total in 22 hours.  I’m on track for an easy finish.  I can probably go farther, but finding hotels is going to get increasingly difficult so I take a room in Ogallala.  I set the alarm for 3 hours but I’m awake on my own in with 2:45 of sleep.  I’m feeling good.  I see another rider at the gas pumps, but I’m gone before he finishes.

Sept 11

The sun is up and the beauty of this section of Wyoming reveals itself.  The bust of President Lincoln seems out of place until you remember that this is the Lincoln Highway.  Lincoln himself was surely never in what is now Wyoming.  I’m awake and on my 30th hour of NPR podcasts.  I can’t figure out why my TedTalks won’t play and I won’t stop to find out.  I have lots of Wait Wait Don’t Tell me and Ask Me Another.  At least they are humorous.  I would like to engage my brain more, but I don’t have time to fix the problem.

Wyoming blends into Utah and Nevada brings wind.  400 miles of wind.  Mind bending, bike moving wind.  It’s coming from the North, so every pass means dealing with the turbulence around the trucks.  It’s not fun.  Even the top dog veterans complain about this kind of wind.  Fortunately, I live in the west and wind like this is often normal.  I don’t like it, but I’m used to swearing at it and just pushing through.  The sun sets in my face as Reno fades into the mirrors. I’m in California.  I’m on track for a 10 to 11pm Pacific finish.  I have no need to rush.

I pull into the overlook at the Golden Gate Bridge at 10:30Pacific.  I had until 3am Pacific.  I’m in good company with a middle of the pack finish.  The first finishers made it in 38 hours.  I’m in at just under 47 hours.  The drop dead finish time is 50 hours.

I hadn’t planned on getting here so early, so hadn’t procured a hotel room.  Good thing I called ahead from the last gas stop and got a room where some of the other are staying.  They told me I got the last room.  Four of us order a pizza.  We are tired of twizzlers and jerky.  Sleep.  The rally is over.