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Balls of Twine Ride

I was signed up for the How the West Was Won rally in Colorado for mid-August 2018.  But, the rally was cancelled.  I still have approved vacation that I needed to use and there is no use throwing that back in the pool.  Might as well make the best of it.  So, where to go?

I have a couple of problems with my current motorcycle gear.  My Aerostich Darien pants are shrinking.  They still fit, but barely.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t middle age spread – its got to be the pants… Right?  My third TourMaster jacket has also seen better days.  The zipper doesn’t zip quite as well as it should, it’s not even pretending to be waterproof anymore even with sealers, the Velcro isn’t Veling anymore and it looks like it has 80,000 miles on it, which it does.  TourMaster makes a great jacket at a great price, but it’s time for a new one.

So, my first stop is Aerostich in Duluth, Minnesota for a bigger set of britches and a new jacket.

That’s not enough for 6 nights out, so I ask Ruth what else I should do.  She says right back, why don’t you look for a ball of string or something.  Turns out there are three big balls of twine on the way to or near Duluth, Minnesota.

The first is in Cawker City, Kansas.  It is, as they say, a big ball of twine.  They are proud of it.  It’s got it’s own place right out on Main Street, a hotel and museum across the way.

It is a big ball of twine. Taller than I am and too big for my shrinking britches as well.  A visitor driving from Maine to Utah snapped my picture.  There is always a caveat with these things.   This ball of twine was made by multiple people.

Onwards to Darwin, Minnesota.

I arrive in Darwin after midnight local time.  As I turn off the main highway onto Main street, I pick up  the local sheriff as a shadow.  He’s not following me directly, just shadowing me a block away.  Really, now!  What else could I be doing in town at 1am?

Darwin’s ball of twine is big.  Perhaps even bigger than the one in Cawker City.  But what constitutes big?  Weight?  Amount of twine?  Type of twine? Height?  Weight?  I’m not sure, but this one has its own pergola.  Unlike the one in Kansas, this one is protected by plexiglass.  This ball of twine was made by one person.  It turns out that he dies from emphysema.  Perhaps because of all the twine dust he inhaled over the years?

The lights are still on when I get there and I snap my pictures.  As I put my camera away, the lights go out and I see a reflection of a police car moving down the street a block behind me.

I ride another 40 miles before finding a Super 8 with a room.  At this point, I have about 1040 documented miles on the day.  Another SaddleSore1000 is in the bag.  1000 miles in 24 hours or less.

I’m up early and on the way to Duluth.  Aerostich is a great place to visit.  They have plenty of help to fit you to the suit you want.  I try on everything in the store, but decide to stick with the Darien pants that I already have – but a little wider at the waist.  If I gain weight, I have some room.  If I lose weight, I have the existing pants.  Win/Win.  I try on every jacket in the place and every size too.  I put on my undergarments, liner and electrics to make sure and in the end, pick a matching Darien jacket.  Aerostich will make my suit and then ship it to me.  My ST1300 outside of Aerostich’s warehouse.

 

I grab some lunch at a local BBQ place and head for the third ball of twine.  This one is being made by one person and is at his home.  My GPS gets me there and it takes me a bit to find the ball.  It’s under a pergola at the back of his property.  No signs, no path to it from the road and I really don’t want to trespass.  This is the best picture I could get of it.

I’m at loose ends again.  I still have 5 nights left and I’m out of balls of twine.  But, it’s football season and the Packers aren’t far away.  I’m a Packer’s fan.  There’s no home game this weekend, but I can take a tour of the stadium.  So, I’m off to Green Bay, Wisconsin.  On the way, I pass by my alma mater, The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.  I’m not all that interested in touring campus, but I do drop in on Water street to see if my old apartments are still there after 30 years.  They were old and decrepit then,  I wonder about now.

Eau claire has grown and changed in 30 years.  Lots of new stuff.  It takes me awhile to get my bearings, but I find my old apartments.  Both have been updated since I lived in them and the neighboring McDonalds, laundromat and pizza place are gone, but these two houses are still student housing:

That’s all I really have time for, except to fill up with the most expensive gas of the trip.  I’m off to Green Bay.

I’ve never been here.  I decided to stay downtown.  Nice place.  Right on one of the rivers, so I get to watch ships pass through the drawbridges.  Breakfast is always good at Hampton Inns and I’m off to the stadium.  I’m about an hour early for the tours, but I get there at opening.  Their retail store is huge.  Just about anything you can imagine has a Packer’s logo attached to it.  I buy a sticker for the bike.

I also get the last ticket for the first tour – 10am.  The tour is nice.  Lots of interesting tidbits about the Packers.  Our first stop is an enclosed box.  we are sitting over the tunnel where the Packers enter the field.  These cost about $90,000 or so a year and you can use them any time of the year.  You get an extra bill for food and drink and you can’t bring your own stuff in.

We take an elevator to field level and walk past the hallway that goes to the Packer’s locker room and out to the field through the where the team comes out onto the field.  They even turn on the music and lights for us.  Fun.  The field up close looks small.  Sidelines are really narrow.  This surprises me.  It looks a lot bigger on TV.

There is a Farm and Fleet sales event at the stadium.  Far too many people here buying stuff they don’t need.  It is Wisconsin, though, so there is lots of fried food in the parking lot.

I need work cloths and there is a Duluth Trading Company outlet in Oshkosh, Wisconsin just down the road.  I pick up 10 long tailed – no plumber’s crack here – t-shirts and 4 pairs of fire hose pants for $210.00, shipped for free.  Nice!

At this point, I have a choice.  I can continue south as I had planned, or head North into Canada.  I decide to stick to plan.  I’ve never ridden a motorcycle in Kentucky.  Every state around it yes, but not in Kentucky.  So I head for Paducah, Kentucky.  Nice town.  Right on the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers.   I have to sit and watch the tugs for awhile, then I visit a local music shop and a railroad museum.  Lucky I can’t haul a guitar home as they had several I would have liked.  The railroad museum had a diesel simulator that was interesting.  You sit in a mock up of an engine and the video moves as the controls are manipulated.

I had one of the best club sandwiches I have ever had nearby and I’m off again.  This time for Branson, Missouri to visit a high school friend.  Couch surfing is nice.

For my final piece home I decide to run Oklahoma south of I-40.  I have slabbed I-40 too many times to do it again and I have 2 days to make it home.  I have to say that this portion of Oklahoma is about the most boring ride I have ever done.  I thought I would run into something I wanted to stop and see.  Nope.  Not one thing.

I hit Texas panhandle with the temp showing 98F.  But it’s a dry heat!  Damn, that’s hot.

Home by 5.  About 3600 miles in 7 days.  Not even a personal best.  But it was a great trip.

Ride Around Kansas

I’ve suffered a brief three week hiatus from riding for one reason or another.  I have some maintenance to perform on the bike and I’m off for two weekends and the week between on a non-riding trip away from my motorcycle.  I really needed to get out on the bike.

I didn’t want to just get away, I wanted to see if I could challenge myself and dig up a new personal record for riding.  That would mean a long distance trip.

I could do several trips in the two days I have.  I could do a BunBurner gold – 1500 miles in 24 hours.  I could do an instate 1000 in 24 hours on secondary roads.  I could go out and collect roadside information signs in New Mexico.  I could go explore the mountains in Colorado.  I could do a 1000 miles out in one direction and another 1000 back for a Saddlesore 2000 (48 hours).  Or I could combine a couple of those and do something I haven’t accomplished yet:  Put together a Saddlesore 2000 Gold ride (2000 miles in 36 hours) nested with a BunBurner Gold (1500 miles in 24 hours).

So, I pulled out Google Maps and start looking for a run that would do just that.  What I found was this 2141 mile run:

https://goo.gl/maps/kLEbHymtcEC2

It’s a Ride Around Kansas!

  • Santa Fe, NM to Cheyenne, WY is 500 miles.
  • Cheyenne, WY to Nebraska City NE is 491 miles
  • Nebraska City, NE to Alma, AR is 423 miles
  • Leaving 728 miles back to Santa Fe.
  • I would hit 1500 miles, going clockwise from Santa Fe at Henryetta, OK.
  • I would hit 2000 miles about 20 miles West of Tucumcari, NM

At no time would my wheels touch the state of Kansas – a perfect ride!

I would pass through parts of 9 states, all on Interstate Roads, but for a few miles from Lincoln to Nebraska City and another short stretch from Clines Corners north to Santa Fe in New Mexico.

  1. New Mexico
  2. Colorado
  3. Wyoming
  4. Nebraska
  5. Iowa
  6. Missouri
  7. Arkansas
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Texas

I have Sunday and Monday off work this week.  After a good look at the weather for the entire trip, I decide to take off when I wake up Sunday morning.  I plan on being home in 36 hours or less, so there is no need to lose sleep by setting an alarm.

It’s time to ride:

As usual, my eyes come open around 5am.  At 5:48AM Sunday, I have my start receipt from the nearest Giant Gasoline and Convenience Store and I’ve pointed that 18″ front Honda ST1300 wheel into the rising sun.  Yes, my first hundred or so miles is largely to the East on northbound I-25.  We have to get around the mountains.

It’s a bit chilly heading north in the wee hours of the morning.  Even as the sun comes up, I am grateful for my heated vest and gloves, though I haven’t had to turn them on.  The extra padding and windbreak is enough this July first morning.  My 300 mile fuel range means I’m gassing up in Pueblo Colorado before I know it.  The extra clothing is packed away in the saddlebag and my vents are open already.

Denver flies by on a Sunday.  Traffic is a bit heavier than I thought it would be, but manageable.  My second stop in Cheyenne, WY is a corner – a must get receipt to show I didn’t take any short cuts.   A BunBurner Gold 1500 miles in 24 hours means an average overall speed over 24 hours of 62.5MPH.  The 80mph speed limit in Wyoming is awesome.  All too soon, though, I see a 75mph sign indicating I’m in Nebraska.

A mid point gas stop in Gothenburg, NE is quick and to the point.  But, I’m getting a bit tired in this afternoon heat.  30 minutes on a concrete picnic table at a rest stop gives me a great boost.  Say what you will about riding across Nebraska and I-80, they have really nice rest stops every 50 to 80 miles.

I’ve traveled all the roads before, so far.  Lincoln Nebraska shows me a new road.  A four lane that cuts off a few miles and Omaha to the north.  This is my second corner and I stop for gas a few miles short of Iowa.  The Missouri river  marks my entry into the corner of Iowa.  The sun slides down the horizon and I’m relying on my lights now.

I notice that my high/low beams aren’t playing by the rules.  High beams work fine, but on low position, the left light stays on high beam and the right light dims while the high beam blue indicator stays lit.  Somethings wrong with the relays.  Oh well, I’m back on interstate highway and no one is flashing me, so I’ll just keep pushing on.

This stretch of my route, with Kansas City in the middle, is the most scenic part of the route.  I am, of course doing it in the dark.  awesome planning on my part.   But the road is smooth and fast.  There aren’t many cars as I cruise south out of Kansas City around 2:30am.  I’m still doing well on the fatigue front.

Alma, Arkansas comes up and it’s time to start the home I-40 stretch.  I’ve got about 80 miles left to get that BunBurner Gold.  If I reach Henryetta, OK, I will have a 20 mile cushion on it according to my maps and the GPS odometer.  My ST odometer tells me I’ve already made it by the Oklahoma border.  My GPS tells me I’m running out of time.  The sun is up and I’m going to be very close to 24 hours when I hit Henryetta.

The time stamp on the receipt tells the truth.  6:48am.  Exactly 24 hours.  5 minutes later and the McDonalds next door, their receipt machine shows the same:  6:48am.  Also exactly 24 hours.  I have 1520 miles.  I made it.  I now have 500 miles to go and 12 hours to cover it for the SS2000Gold.

I’ve been munching on beef jerky along the way.  It is almost pure protein and the salt in it helps with the 86 degree  heat I’d been experiencing the day before.  I’ve drunk about a gallon of water and my bladder is still filling regularly requiring emptying every couple of hours.  That’s good, because today is going to by around 97 for the western Oklahoma part and some of New Mexico.  Right now, It’s 90% humidity and 76 degrees in the post dawn morning.  Welcome to Eastern Oklahoma.

I’m nodding off again by Oklahoma City.  City traffic and road construction keep me alert enough.  Once on the other side, I look for a place to rest again.  I find some shade in the corner of a truck stop and put my head on my tank bag.  3o minutes later, the alarm tells me to get going again.  Fatigue hits again around Amarillo.  I either need to sleep for a bit or get some caffeine in me.  I don’t have that many hours to the ride anymore so I opt for a cup of coffee.  That will be good for about 3 hours.

Tucumcari has a Chester’s Chicken at the Loves Travel Stop. I really like Chester’s Chicken.  Another dose of caffeine because I’ve got only 20 miles more to go for my 2000 miles in 36 hours!  Easily made.  Gas Receipt in Santa Rose with about 40 miles extra for cushion.  My ride is officially over.   It’s 2:37pm.  I had until 5:48pm to finish this part of the ride.  I will be home in Santa Fe before that deadline.

With enough gas from my Santa Rosa fillup to get home, I only need one more receipt from Santa Fe, just for grins and giggles.  I get that from the Giant Gasoline and Convenience Store to close the travel loop around Kansas.

It was a good ride.  I’m tired, having only slept 1 hour in 36 hours.  But, I feel really good about it.

Takeaways for improvements:

  • My butt made it on the stock seat.  But, I really need a Russell Day Long Saddle
  • I didn’t drink enough water through the night.  When I hit the heat I had expected in Oklahoma, I wilted.  You can’t catch up once you are dehydrated, you have to stay hydrated.
  • I almost didn’t make the 1500 miles in 24 hours.  I dawdled a bit here and there.  Can’t do that if you are on the clock.
  • Other accessories that would be nice are bar backs, highway pegs, a water cooling vest,
  • Wearing a full face helmet makes eating on the bike difficult.  I need to find a flip face helmet that will work for my head.

I certainly wouldn’t call this ride easy.  But, it is getting easier to ride like this.  Most of that, I think, is familiarity with the process and the pace.  I have more to learn, but I’m getting there.

My GPS stats:

  • 75mph moving average
  • 62mph overall average
  • 2147.6 total miles
  • 34:33 hours total time
  • 28:41 hours moving time
  • 5:52 hours stopped time

 

 

 

June 3-4, 2018

I didn’t take much time to plan this one.  I was looking to burn off some stress and bad energy and there is nothing like a BBG to do that.  I had originally though to do one of the out and back trips I have researched before.  I’ve completed two BBGs:  Santa Fe, NM to Buffalo, Wy and back for one, and Santa Fe, NM to Green River, WY for a second.  For this one, I decided to do the big square I’ve been looking at for some time:  Google Map

  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Salina, KS
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Santa Fe, NM

This route offers some challenges.

  1. It requires two extra receipt stops to prove I didn’t take any shortcuts.
    1. It is 320 miles from Santa Fe to Colorado Springs.  I need to get a receipt very close to the corner at Woodmen road and I25 as the total route is very close to 1500 miles.  There is a shortcut rim road south of Colorado Springs that shaves about 6 miles from the route.  320 miles is at the outer limit of the ST1300 range.  A headwind means I don’t make the gas stop.
    2. From Limon, CO to Oakley, KS is a shorter southern route.  Even though it is two lane and slower, especially with towns to slow down for VS the northern I70 route, I have to prove I took the northern route, so an extra receipt stop.
  2. There is a toll road From Wichita, KS to the Oklahoma border.  Not a big deal, but paying tolls on a motorcycle is a PITA.  You have to stop, take the ticket and put it somewhere, stop, take your glove off to get your money and the ticket on the other end.  But there is no easy way around on this route.
  3. Oklahoma city traffic east to west can be a PITA at certain times of day and they always seem to have constructions on this route.  Also have to get a receipt as close to the corner as possible as there are short cuts.
  4. Oklahoma has a 70mph limit on their interstates.
  5. Highway 24 from Colorado Springs to Limon is 2 lane with several small town, but only about 60 miles.

A few good things about this route:

  1. I planned the route to avoid Denver, turning east at Colorado Springs instead.
  2. I started at 3am, northbound so the sun would be up before turning east.
  3. I ran on a Sunday – low traffic day most places, usually no construction crews working.
  4. I did hit Oklahoma City at about 3:30, borderline bad time, especially with I40 construction,but it was Sunday so it worked out this time.
  5. It was going to get dark by the time I got to Amarillo and I would have to ride into the setting sun, but that part of I40 runs kind of SSW and this time of year, the setting sun is a bit north of west.
  6. It’s 95% interstate.

The Bun Burner Gold is an Iron Butt Association ride.  It is an extreme ride and is easy to fail – failure usually means a BB Silver (1500 in 30 hours) or a Bun Burner (1500 in 36 hours) so long as you complete the ride.  It is 1500 miles in a single 24 hours period.  Before you all go, that’s impossible, do the math:  1500 miles divided by 24 hours equals 62.5 mph overall average.  Easily accomplished within typical US speed limits IF you limit your stops.  Documentation is done by getting dated business receipts with a printed name of company, address, city, state, time and date on the receipt.  Gas stations, ATMs, other places that take credit cards and print receipts work just fine.  The two most important ones are the first gas receipt that establishes your start time and therefore your end time, and the final receipt end establishes your end time.  The remainder of the receipts prove your route – that you didn’t take a short cut – and shows your corners and/or turn around points.  Plug the receipt addresses into Google Maps and you have your route.

I’m riding my new to me 2007 Honda ST1300ABS.  I bought it in early April of this year and this ride will put me over 10,000 miles on this bike.

I have Sunday and Monday off work right now and the weather on Sunday looked liked it would be good for the ride.  A bit hot in the late afternoon through Kansas and Oklahoma, maybe some rain in Eastern New Mexico.  As it was, I has temperatures ranging from 40F to 91F.  I ran through light rain from Amarillo, TX through Tucumcari, NM.  The wind was whipping from Santa Fe, NM through about Wagon Mound, NM.  In other words, nothing out of the ordinary for having traveled through a good portion of 4 large western states.

I lost track of time and got a late start on sleep.  I had intended to be in bed by 8pm, but didn’t get to sleep until 9:30 and then had trouble staying asleep.  I woke up at 2am and lay there for 10 minutes trying to decide if I really wanted to do this or go back to sleep.  I decided to do this.  I already had the bike loaded and my gear out.  All I needed was a tank of gas and my first receipt.

At 2:50am, I had my first receipt at the Giant Gasoline and Convenience store in  Santa Fe, NM.

Leaving Santa Fe was windy, but decently warm.  I though I’d be OK, but got cold about an hour later when the temp dipped below 45F.  Pulling over on a rural ramp, I put on my electric gear, close up my vents and watered the roadside plants. Raton pass rolled under my wheels and I got an early planned gas stop in Trinidad, CO.  There is a “shortcut” through Taos which is miles shorter, but much slower.  Better to simply have a receipt that says I didn’t go there.  I also didn’t have the range to make it to my Colorado Springs turn at Woodmen road without a splash and go somewhere along the way.

Trinidad to Colorado Springs is uneventful.  At Woodmen road, The corner gas station is inaccessible.  The police have the road west blocked off for a water main break.  I search for a gas station to the east and find one a block off Woodmen road close enough to the corner for it to count.  There is a bypass from South I25 to East highway 24 that knocks off about 10 miles.  This BBG route is tight and I wanted the extra miles to be sure I get 1500 minimum.

My gas stops are as short as I can make them.

  1. Locate the gas station – I usually do this ahead of time, looking at Google street view to make sure it’s going to work.
  2. check time
  3. get stopped at the pump with the correct side of the bike facing the pump.  You are going to get tired, don’t forget that fuels and water make the cement slick.
  4. pump gas.  This may seem simple, but overflowing the tank means extra time to clean up and putting diesel into your bike is going to stop your attempt.
  5. paperwork.  I keep a gas log.  I write the mileage on the receipt and take a picture of the receipt with my odometer.  No more lost receipts.  I have a clip inside my tank bag where the receipt won’t blow away and won’t get wet and stays out of the sun.
  6. Reset GPS.  Reset the gas tank mileage and input next stop, if it’s not already programmed.
  7. Reset ODO.  I use one of the trip meters for total trip miles and one for gas tank miles.
  8. Adjust gear.  One of the things I forget sometimes.  Change out gear that isn’t working, like gloves or a rainsuit.  Tie up that flapping strap the is annoying you.  Adjust your music or podcasts while you are stopped.  Check that tick or smell on the bike while stopped.
  9. Eat something out of tank bag.  Going inside for food is a waste of time.  I carry jerky with me.  It doesn’t spoil and it’s an easy snack.  Protein, not sugar.  Drink water.  Avoid caffeine and sugar drinks.
  10. Bathroom.  Staying hydrated is most important.  This does mean you have to pee.
  11. Go.  Get back on the road.
  12. Check time.  If the gas station is next to the road and I don’t have to go inside for a receipt or bathroom, then I can usually get back on the road in about 8 or 9 minutes.  Add about 4 minutes for a bathroom stop.  If I have to wait in line for the bathroom and the inside receipt, I could be standing for for an additional 5 minutes.

For this trip, I made  stops.

  • Santa Fe, NM:  Beginning receipt
  • Las Vegas, NM:  Bathroom and electric gear
  • Trinidad, CO:  Gas and receipt.
  • Colorado rest area:  Bathroom
  • Goodland, KS:  Bathroom, gas and Inside receipt
  • Salina, KS:  Bathroom, gas and receipt
  • Oklahoma City:  Bathroom, gas and receipt.
  • Amarillo, TX:  Bathroom, gas, rain gear, and receipt.
  • Tucumcari, NM:  Bathroom and Arbys.
  • Santa Fe, NM:  End receipt.

I didn’t need to stop in Tucumcari, but my butt was whining, I was hungry and I had plenty of time to finish at that point, so I made a quick stop at a truck stop.

As I get older, my bladder is less reliable.  Sometimes I can ride consistently between tanks without a bathroom stop, sometimes, I need extra stops.  This was a time when I needed extra stops.

I carry water in a jug on the seat behind me.  This particular one carries 2.5 gallons in an insulated bag.  I can drink while riding.  I generally take 2 or 3 mouthfuls of water every 20 minutes or so.  If you aren’t peeing, you are dehydrating.  I drank 1 gallon+ of water on this trip.  I carry my snacks with me.  I can live on water and jerky for up to two days.  After that, I need some more substantial food before going back to the jerky.  I also carry muscle milk, which doesn’t have an real dairy in it, for extra liquid and protein.  They help keep my stomach full and the protein helps keep me alert.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful.  No near misses, no animals in the road, no crazy drivers, no accidents along the way.  Very straight forward.

Boring rides like this are best.

I started out at just before 3am Sunday morning, my GPS taking me on a well worn path out to I-25, Las Vegas (NM) bound.  It’s windy out here.  I hope this dies down soon.  50F at the start, I didn’t expect to need my electrics, but I don’t ride anywhere without them.   Good thing as the temps dropped to 40F within the hour.  Cold, but the wind is done.  A quick side road stop fixed my full bladder and firing up the electrics fixed my shivering.  There are fires to the West in the mountains.  I’m expecting smoke on the highway, but the wind has kept it away.

Trinidad saw the sun up and my first gas stop.  At this point, I had been mostly the only traffic on the road.  No other bikes and I25 isn’t a major truck route.  It’s usually pretty calm until you hit Colorado Springs.  Today, being Sunday, and before church, I wasn’t expecting much competition for road space.  I wasn’t disappointed in that.  My gas stop in North Colorado Springs was closed due to a water main break.  I already knew that gas stations at this exit were sparse.  I needed to mark that corner to eliminate a short cut that took 10 miles from the route.  Each street I passed, nothing, nothing, nothing.  Then I spied a Conoco sign a block away – a u-turn got me there and the pump spit out a good receipt.

Highway 24 is the only 2 lane road on my route until 285 on the home stretch.  24 has three small towns on it and a lower speed limit, so this 30 miles goes slow.  I have enough gas to get to my next corner – Salina, KS.  I’m carrying 300 miles of gas and I need to stop for a receipt every 350 miles max.  I have to split this one and get gas in the middle.  Goodland, KS comes quickly and I’m on the road again in 12 minutes.

I see a Harley and a Goldwing with IBA plates as I’m leaving Goodland.  I’ve seen a lot of LD bikes or bikes that look like they are touring on this trip, especially on I70.  Harley baggers, Goldwings, BMWs are really popular, but there are others too:  KTM, Tenere, Star Baggers, Victory, Indian…  The more the merrier!  I didn’t specifically pick out any ST1300s or FJR1300s on this trip.

Salina is another corner and I do a quick pit stop.  It’s hot and I want cash for the upcoming toll road.  I get an ice cream but the card reader doesn’t give me the option for cash back.  Oh well, I’ll struggle with the quarters I have in my tank bag.  It’s going to be $2.25 and I have that sequestered in a pill bottle in my tank bag side pocket.

Wichita comes up 80 miles later and I pull a ticket from the toll booth.  Oklahoma isn’t far away, certainly not $2.25 worth, but there is no easy way around this toll road if you are heading this way.  I back up traffic at the next toll booth while I get my glove off, ticket out and money to the human taking cash.  Off I go again.

It’s hot now.  90-92 degrees.  The bike is trickling heat into my crotch through the metal gas tank.  I’ll have to put the tank bra back on – that seems to help some.  Drink more water.

Traffic picks up some and I’m making the corner for the West bound home I40 stretch.  Traffic is heavier than anywhere else so far, but still, it’s Sunday traffic and there are no delays, even for the single lane on the West end of town.  A quick gas and bathroom stop and I’m on my way to Texas.  I ended up timing this just right.  This stretch has a lot of deer hits and it’s nice to not have to do this in the dark.  I figure the sun will go down around Amarillo, TX.

It’s full dark as I wheel past Cadillac Ranch west of Amarillo.  There’s an easy in/easy out gas station at the exit just West of Cadillac Ranch.  Image result for cadillac ranch It’s a common stopping place for me.  I seem to end up here a lot.  Lighting is flickering just South and the raindrops start.  I put my rain jacket and rain gloves on in the parking lot before leaving.  I’m hoping the lightning stays away, but it’s really, really dark to the West.  I head into the gloom.  The rain starts to wash away the bugs obscuring my view through the windscreen.  It reduces to spitting and keeps that up most of the way into Tucumcari.  I’ve been watching my clock.  I have plenty of time for the 2 hour ride from here.  I have enough gas to make it home.  I’m hungry.  Chester’s chicken – scratch that – closed – Arby’s here we come!  A splurge on a 20 minute stop.  You’ve got to be careful with long stops.  They can take your will away from continuing.  You get too focused on the ache in your neck, back, butt and arms.  Pop a couple of Advil and get moving.  You’ve only got a couple of hours left!

I’m very familiar with this stretch of highway.  I find myself on it quite often, especially after dark.  Few towns, a long distance between gas stations and 100 more miles before my turn to the north.  It goes fast.  What traffic there is is moving fast.  I run up on four trailers spread out over 10 miles with not trailer lights.  All I see is a black hole in the night in front of me.  You get used to this out here.  285 north, nice 2 lane road, no towns and usually no traffic after midnight.  You can open up a bit here.  It’s the home stretch, 50 miles to the gas station.  I pass my 1500 miles as I turn onto I25.

My last receipt comes from the same pump I used 22 hours ago.  No paper this time, I have to go in.  That’s alright.  My clock stopped when I hung up the pump handle.

I’m tired, but not exhausted.  I could go more, but don’t really want to.  I take stock of my willingness quotient – about 3 in 10 – for possible back to back BBGs  Two 1500 miles runs in two consecutive 24 hour periods.  I come up with – maybe later, not tonight.

My Honda ST1300 did just fine.  Considering it wasn’t running (MAP sensor and spark plug wire) just two weeks ago, I think this weekend’s ride along with 800 miles last weekend show that my repairs are good.  That engine does dump heat into the gas tank which heats up the gas and the metal skin.  That does get a bit warm on the crotch, but it’s not overly bad, at least at 92F.  While I went 1500 miles today in relative comfort, my butt requires a better seat.  I Russell Day Long will be on my Christmas list.  The lighting is good, but could use a bit more and my shoulders will appreciate bar backs.  Otherwise, this bike is about perfect.

I’m feeling good.  It’s 1:30am, I get a shower and I’m off to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honda ST1300

Buying a new bike is fun.  It takes a lot of research, soul searching and effort to try to find the right one.

I love my KLR650 and I hoped it would take me into the new to me realm of off road riding and it did, sort of.  I really ended up using it more as my instate road bike, a task it wasn’t fully suited for.  I do miss it, or at least the idea of it.  Maybe someday, I’ll get back to a dual purpose bike again.

My reality is that I ride long distance most of the time.  I rarely go on gravel roads – pavement takes me where I go most of the time.  I’m finding the VStrom650 underpowered and while capable enough, a tiring bike to ride some of the time, especially in strong winds.  I really need a bigger, heavier, more powerful motorcycle.

Looking through the catalogue, there are many bikes that fit the bill.  Honda Goldwing, ST1300 and Africa Twin,  Touring Harleys, Several BMW models, Yamaha FJR1300 and Tenere, Other brands VTwins, Triumph Trophy and Tiger, Ducati and KTM offerings, and a smattering of other bikes that could be made into touring machines.

I decided I wanted something proven, with a good dealership network that I wouldn’t have to work on too much, since I was going to one motorcycle, a bike in the shop would mean no riding until parts come in.

I narrowed it down to four bikes:  BMW GS/Adventurer, BMW R1200RT, Honda ST1300 and Yamaha FJR1300.  These four bikes plus the Honda Goldwing are often the bikes of choice for long distance riders, the exact type of riding I do most.

The Goldwing got dropped first.  I’m just not quite ready for a 900 pound bike yet. Because it starts out expensive, used bike prices are still somewhat expensive or the miles a just too high for me right now.

I rode the Yamaha FJR1300.  It’s one of the most reliable long distance machines out there.  It’s also one of the most reasonably priced new, a ton of them were sold and a lot are on the market for very reasonable prices.  It’s got gobs of power, but I just really didn’t connect with it.

The BMWs are really nice bikes and I will probably own one someday.  Entry price is higher on the used market, though there are deals out there.  Maintenance costs are higher than the Yamaha or ST1300.  I wanted maintenance to be minimal.  I dropped the GS early as they were priced out of my budget.  The RT stuck on to the end.

I ended up buying a local Honda ST1300.  They made them from 2002 to 2016.  2003 first year in the US.  It is a heavy bike, weighing in at 700 pounds.  It has great ergonomics, a full aftermarket for parts, easy to work on, minimal maintenance, a great following, lots of them sold and lots for sale at reasonable prices with low mileage.

I picked up a 2007 ST1300 with 28,888 miles for $6500.00.  I paid a bit more than I wanted, but it was local so I didn’t have to buy sight unseen, nor did I have to pay for a plane ticket.  The only farkle is an aftermarket top box.  I am going to need to put heli-bars on it to bring the bars up and back for comfort and I will need a Russell seat.

I’m at least the third owner.  My PO owned the bike for 4 years and put 1200 miles on it riding it to work occasionally.  It came with 4 year old “new” tires.  What I did find out was that he did absolutely NO maintenance.  He didn’t even put air in the tires.  I found 4psi in the front and 12 psi in the rear, even though he rode it to meet me for the sale.

Buying a motorcycle that has sat for awhile is risky.  I thought I was in the clear.  I rode it 50 miles home, did an oil change and rear end gear oil change, put air in the tires and complete a SS1000 the next weekend.  In 4 days, I had more miles on the bike than he did in 4 years.  In the next 5 weeks, I put 9000 miles on the bike from the day I bought it.

Preparing for a Missouri Ride To Eat, I washed the bike, rode it into town to warm it up, changed the oil and put two new Michelin PR4GT tires on it.  Starting the bike, the FI (Check Engine) light came on and it started to run rough.  Going through online information, which there is a lot of for this bike, I found out that there is a 5 way T in the V of the engine that gets gunked up.  Cleaned it out and the FI light went out, but the bike was still running rich and missing occasionally.  I replaced the MAP sensor which is at the end of the 5 way T and found and changed a bad spark plug boot and all four plugs.

300 miles into the repairs and the bike is back to normal!  While I missed my RTE and a Platinum finish on the Big Money Rally this year, I did learn a lot about this bike.

More riding tomorrow.

I like this bike!

 

 

I have loved owning, riding and wrenching on my KLR and my VStrom over the last few years.  Each has had its ups and downs.  Mostly ups for the VStrom and a lot of hands on for the KLR.  To be fair, the KLR did come to me with a used engine at 8000 miles.  There were bound to be problems.

I have parted with the 2005 VStrom 650 at around 96,000 miles.  I didn’t get much for it, wasn’t expecting much for it.  But, it’s still a good bike for the money and pretty damned reliable.  It’s easy to work on and nothing much goes wrong with them if you don’t abuse them.  It did take a lot to make it a comfortable long distance mount.  I admit it’s not even near the best long distance mount, but it took me everywhere I asked it to and helped me complete many Iron Butt rides including 1000 mile in 24 hours, 1500 miles in 24 hours, Brooklyn to San Francisco in under 50 hours and a lot of other places as well.  Underpowered, but willing.  The last repair surprised me – a loss of some power sent me looking for a reason.  I found it in stretched cam chains – about 5 to 6mm.  Not too difficult a repair, but requires taking the head and cylinders off.  The symptom was a ticking noise on the left side of the front cylinder and the right side of the rear and a fully extended, but not failed cam chain adjuster.  The chains were slapping the adjuster – tick – tick – tick.

I have also parted with my 2005 KLR650.  This is the first bike I have owned that I was able to completely farkle out to my taste.  It came mostly stock and I made it my bike.  That sure was fun.  While KLRs are reliable as a group, this one tried my patience.  I worked on it a lot.  I think my decision was made when I had to work on both bikes at the same time – neither would offer me a ride.  I exorcised its demons one more time and put it on Craig’s list.

I hope the new owners have as much fun with these bikes as I did.

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.