- A Motorcycle Ride Report /w Pics - Sturgis 2012' -
Saving vacation is possible after starting a new job, so after a year of doing nothing adventurers, I’m feeling the need to ride off into the unknown, even if its just for a short while. Heidi thinks I’m weird, every so often she will tell me “You know you’re different,… don’t you?” I think I’m like everyone else, I like adventure and I like fun. Maybe this ride will shed some light on the topic, we will see.
Transforming a motorcycle from one mode to another is a joy to the highest degree, especially when you’re doing it for a specific ride. I had a company in Oregon custom make me a 1972’ king/queen seat from a photo I sent them. It’s a great seat and it will transform the cavebike back to it’s roots as an ‘Adventure Rat Chopper’ Oh Yeah!
The big aluminum saddlebags have to come off. “they won’t look right with the king-queen seat” Heidi tells me. And I have to agree, plus the width of the aluminum panniers cause my rear to wobble at high speeds, anything over 80MPH, not good. While riding solo, going fast is part of the joy…
That’s more like it, the only thing missing is some knurly off-road tires, but that will be another ride.
Our old leather saddlebags are small and warn out so I pick up a set of extra large bags, on sale for cheap. Proof again that ‘ya get what ya pay for’, everything is cheesy, chincie and poorly constructed. And Heidi does not like all the studs, I thought it made the bike look old-school but she says they look dorky. When the studs started rusting after the first week, I had to agree, studs suck. But at least these bags are larger, I can ride faster if I feel the need and they make the bike look more ‘cave’ like, those are the important things, right.
OK, time to get serious, the bike needs more work and I’m the guy who is going to do it.
A hunk of the motorcycle fender fell off and that was holding the license plate. I fabricate a lightweight holder made out of aluminum flashing material and strapped that to the blinker assembly. As long as the blinkers stay attached, the plate should stay attached Plus, I like the way it looks.
Performing maintenance, fabricating parts and modifying a motorcycle that will take me on adventure is a joy that is hard to match. Riding a motorcycle that only ‘other people’ have worked on cannot be as much fun as the way I do it, I’m sure!
The saddlebags are already sinking into the shock springs so I rig up a plywood bracket to help keep them out.
The new tires arrive. The grass needs cutting but this is more important (and fun). Changing your own tires is an empowering feeling. I know I can do a tire on the road if I have to because I have done it at home several times. When you are far away it’s a comforting feeling knowing you can to do it yourself, where ever when ever.
With an inexpensive motorcycle-jack I do all my own tires now. Of course changing a tires only adds to the pleasure and I know its done right. Saving $50 a tire change doesn’t hurt either.
I use lots of soapy water. A good thing to keep in mind as you’re changing a tire is that if it is hard and you have to cuss, you probably are doing something wrong. Slow down, think about it, and then do it, one side at a time making sure the bead is in the well.
It’s all about technique, the logs are so I don’t bend the disk. And the bead breaker is the best tool for changing a cycle tire. You can buy one at www.happy-trail.com . I bring it on all long adventures, if I have to stick in a tube or fill the tire with grass and leaves, no problem, can be done, anywhere anytime.
Heidi and I installed these tires in Panama City Central America. It’s nice seeing them side by side and thinking about the miles we all rode together. I love motorcycle tires.
A cycle-jack, the best tool.
After changing the rear break pads and seeing how badly warn they were, I decide to replace the front pads. When I tell Heidi about the warn pads she immediately gives me crap “Of course the breaks should he replaced after the Panama ride, what were you thinking!” I must have been in denial and not wanted to think about it, the ride being over that is. Anyway, I feel a new spark now, like this is what was needed, a new ride, a new purpose to ready the bike and myself for adventure. I have the tingle back iside.
All right! new tires, new breaks, everything lubed, large saddlebags. Heidi and I enjoy an evening around the campfire talking about ride logistics, preparedness and riding protocol. I love the pre-ride talks we have. When Heidi is riding along it’s at a different level but when I’m solo she acts as if she has the same vested interest, meaning the successful completion of the ride and me returning home. Everyone should have a riding partner like this.
Heidi mentions road food. I’m carrying peanuts combined with roasted soy beans and tropical trail mix packed in two large baggies, freeze-dried peaches in another baggie and ten mega proteins bars, and of course some fine ground Columbian coffee for my new espresso pot. A good portion of this ride will be in Iron-butt mode meaning I will be stopping only long enough to just eat and hydrate, so packing road-food is a must, and this is the way I like to ride anyway. When I’m on a ride, all I want to do is ride, not hang around a gas station or a restaurant. A country field with a shade tree beats that any day. When Heidi and I ride, our goal is to have food ready for the morning. If we put food and liquid in our guts first thing in the morning, we are ready to ride. The thought of having to locate and sit in a restaurant in the morning just kills me, I just want to Ride….
Road food is all about finding places along the road to stop and chill and eat and hydrate, I look for creeks, a good view or just a farm field with some type of shade. That is a great activity, the art of finding a good spot to pull over and experience the land your riding through while resting. I don’t want to just ride through an area, I want to feel it if. Heidi is into this type of travel also, we have hung-out and enjoyed a meal at some of the most beautiful places on earth this way. Sometimes we plan it ahead of time by buying food at a gas stop or store and then head off purposely looking for ‘the spot’ to pull off and chill. I seem to ride no other way now.
Ok! Sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad, emergency tarp, survival gear, pac-safe, tools, personal headlight, maps, stove, fuel, espresso cup, camera, hiking hat, extra sponge rubber pads, raingear bag, down vest bag, etc, etc… CHECK.
Its 5:50AM as I’m rolling right past the Rice Lake Harley Davidson shop with a blown wheel bearing and a severe rear wheel wobble. I’m only 50 miles into this ride and No Way I am going to put my tail between my legs and park the bike in front of the Harley shop door waiting for it to open and hopping they can help me. That could take all day and they may not even be able to fit me in today, the ride could be jeopardized if I relied on someone else to fix this! I have a good wheel with good bearings at home, I just need to take an old tire off that good rim and put a new tire on, then swap the wheels on the bike, no problem, right?
I am not making any of this up. Heidi has the day off and has an appointment in Rice Lake, just where I am. Later that morning she picks me up, we stop at the Harley shop for a new rear tire. I drop her off at the mall, drive back home with the new tire, remove the old tire from the good wheel, install the new tire then ride back to Rice Lake, oh yeah!
The bearing race hardened onto the drive shaft so the drive shaft will not pull out, ouch! I have the right tools to pound the shaft out but I cannot get it out. I clamp a large vice-grip to the shaft for Heidi to pull and twist while I pound. What a girl, she holds up the drive shaft in a victory pump after pulling it out.
This breakdown cost me just over four hours, unreal. When it first happened, I thought the ride was over, instantly thinking about needing to stop my vacation hours. A victory like this is a Great way to start any adventure, right.
Hwy. 53 south, west on Hwy. 8, south on county road O, west on 106th, south on Hwy. 24 all the way to I94 west into Minneapolis. 494 west around Saint Paul, I35W south, west on 19 West, 169 south to 14 west blasting towards South Dakota. These are great biking roads with tons of small farm communities and interesting things to see and photograph. I could have stopped all day but I’m in Iron-Butt mode as long as I’m in Wisconsin or Minnesota. The mode is ride, stop, hydrate, eat, chill, and chill only long enough to partially recover, then continue riding hard. I think all big rides include some form of Iron-Butt riding. To me, it’s about throttling it up to get to where you want to throttle back and explore. And it just feels good to push my own physical and mental limits, a Zen type experience for sure.
A typical rest spot, a farm field with a rough path leading into a couple shade trees. I have been practicing looking for roadside spots like this nearly my entire life. I don’t believe there is not a farmer on this planet that will not welcome a weary traveler on a motorcycle the use of their shade tree along the road.
The cotter pin on the rear axel broke when I changed the tire, I stop at a hardware store somewhere in southern Minnesota and buy a couple more pins.
Hwy. 14 west through southern Minnesota. At around 8:00PM I’m close to the South Dakota border. There should be another hour and a half of daylight left but it is getting darker and darker ahead. Soon there are sprinkles and some serious lighting action, straight ahead. This requires immediate action so I turn on the first paved road pointing south and blast it hard. The storm is bringing bolt after bolt right in the fields next to me as I race away, and it is a race. I make it twenty miles before the storm overtakes me with serious crosswinds and lighting. Passing the only farmhouse in miles, I see a few small trees right at the edge of a cornfield. I do a 180, drive off the road and straight to the trees next to the field. My emergency tarp is always at the ready but I had not attached any new cords lately. I calmly locate the camp rope, a knife and begin to cut perfect lengths of rope while tying three Bolen knots to the tarp. The tarp is secure to the bike perfectly now and all is good.
The rain pours and the lighting lights the sky for an hour and a half. I’ll tell ya, spending time under a small tarp attached to a motorcycle in a severe electrical and wind storm is an experience to say the least. I actually admit to Heidi later that I was almost a little afraid, the lighting was happening so rapidly it sounded like a freight train, and that is the sigh of an approaching tornado, and sitting on the up-side of a motorcycle in a tornado is not a good place to be.
After lifting the tarp to look and listen, I did conclude that it is just rapid-fire successions of lighting, not a tornado. Whoosh, I’m a happy guy.
Hold on! Much more to come...
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