Thursday, October 20, 2016

Extra fuel and water storage system - any bike!

I have a need to carry extra fuel and water with me when I ride sometimes.  I've had more than one occasion where I was very close to being stranded for lack of fuel.  With plans to ride the Dalton Highway in Alaska and be more adventuresome in Mexico and Canada, extra fuel is really not a luxury.  It's a necessity.  I hope I never need to pour fuel into my tank from my reserves; but, I'm ready if I do.

This solution is nice if A) You don't want to or really can't fabricate a metal backing plate to mount your fuel cells; or, B) you want a system that is easy on/off and can be used on different bikes.  In my case, I'll probably ride my K1600GT to the Dalton, rent a dual sport, do the ride to Prudhoe and back and get back on my K16 for everything else.  This fuel solution will work with any bike as long as you can tie things down.

The cooler is an AO 48 pack off road cooler.  I bought it at Chaparells and payed less than $100 for it.  The fuel cells are Roto-Pax 2 gallon cells and the water cell is a 2 gallon Roto-Pax water cell.  There is just enough room to squeeze a couple ice packs in there, if you wanted to keep the water (and fuel) cool.

The plan is purchase some webbing plastic side release buckles that are the same size as the ones on the bag, as well as nylon webbing and anchor the webbing under the seat for quick on and off.  We can also put another webbing/ buckle on the back of the seat to keep the bag from moving forward.  Since there is a trunk on my bike, the bag moving backward isn't an issue.  Even without the webbing attached to the bike, tie down straps will easily do the job.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

20160922 Redlands, Tombstone, Flagstaff, Kingman, Redlands

I had been back in California for no more than a week and it was time to get my riding fix in.  The first person on my list to call was my friend Paul.  "Paul, I'm back in town.  Wanna ride this weekend?"  Paul asked his wife for permission to come out and play with his long lost friend and just that quick, we were planning a trip.

My first choice was Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.  It is my favorite park.  The thing was it's too early in the season to be riding in the cold and with highs of 55 and lows of 33, I decided that there would be plenty of time to do that when the temperatures were warmer and in the mean time, we could enjoy some riding while temps were more seasonal.  Since I had recently watched Tombstone, I thought Tombstone would be a good destination.  Paul also suggested Sedona and I hadn't been there.  Couple that with a trip to Kingman to visit his dad and we had the makings of a route.  All that was left was to assure that we got plenty of time off the super-slab.

There isn't much in the way of roads in southern Arizona, so really, we only had one choice and that was 85/86, loop back up to 10 for a short distance and then 82/83 to get us into Tombstone.  Paul noted that 80 out of Tombstone and up 191 would make for a fine route to Globe on 70 for the night or possibly Payson, just up the line a little.  The next day was to be Sedona, followed by Jerome and then Kingman to see his dad.  After that, it was to be some of 66 and then the I-40 super-slab home to California.

The plan was to leave at 6 and make our first stop in Gila Bend.  That would put us in good position to make Tombstone by lunch and get up to Payson.  Of course, who can work when thinking about a ride?  I was getting anxious and asked Paul if he could leave by 1700.  His day was moving right along, so the plan was to be kickstands up at 5.  At 16:45, I started getting ready and at just about 1700, I was out the door, never looking back at my computer.  Paul was not near his bike.  A few minutes went by and Paul came out to tell me he got last minute tasking and we'd have to leave later.  No problem.  We went up to his office and waited for some processes to finish.  We didn't get on the bikes until 1830.

The plan was still to get to Gila Bend, even though we'd get there pretty late.  Traffic on I-10 was pretty light.  There was a minimal amount of splitting lanes we needed to do to make forward progress just east of Yucaipa; but, other than that, we were doing well.  We decided to get off the super-slab in Indio and start south on 86.  This would get us to 8, which gets us to Gila Bend.  Evening temps were perfect and other than being disappointed that we couldn't really see Salton Sea, we had a really nice ride.  We decided on a Cracker Barrel for dinner and had some really good sandwiches.  Can anyone identify this thing on the wall???

We pulled into Gila Bend after midnight and stayed at a Best Western that had a space theme.  The Space Age Inn I think it was.  Entering the main office, this is what we see:

The next day begins with breakfast at the Space Inn:

...and we're off to Tombstone.  Tombstone is a small place.  Blink and you miss it.

We didn't stay long, we had plenty of riding ahead of us and other than the obvious tourist places, it seems like the place was largely modernized.  It wasn't the wide dirt rode with sparse buildings on either side that I had hoped for.  I was also hoping to see several cowboys and horses, and maybe a gunfight or two breaking out in the street.  There was none of that.  There was a modern fire station though and I thought I'd grab a couple pics with the bikes and some apparatus.

It would seem that we can't help but find interesting things at lunch.  Does anyone want to tell me what the hell this is?  It is in Tombstone.

We had 4:30 hours of riding ahead of us before we would call it a day and were pretty jazzed by the fact that we would get to a hotel room at a reasonable time, have a relaxing dinner and perhaps catch up on some of the sleep we missed the night before.  That didn't happen.  We finally made it to Payson and decided to have dinner before checking in for the night.  We stopped at a Chilli's in Payson.  During dinner, I thought I'd call for hotel reservations and perhaps get an Internet discount.  The obvious choice in Payson was the Knight's Inn we saw on the way in.  It was $94/night.  When we got there, I went to check out the room since the outside of the place looked pretty run down.  Well, the inside was pretty run down as well.  I could just imagine the bed being nothing but springs, no hot water and having bed bug bites all over me by morning.  We passed.  That was the beginning of a long night.  We went up the street and found a Days Inn.  They wanted $269 for a room with a king size bed.  No thank you.  The Comfort Inn was sold out and it was at that point we realized there must be some convention in town.  Well, there were like 3.  We tried calling the Days inn back; but, they sold the room while I was on the phone with them.  The next town up the line was Camp Verde.  I made several phone calls there and those hotels were sold out.  The same went for Sonora.  The next place was Flagstaff and I struck out there until I found a Doubletree in by Hilton.  They had one room left - 2 queens for $254.  Without hesitation, I gave the guy my credit card and we headed up there.  When we thought we were done for the day, we needed to ride another 115 miles to get to a hotel room.  Instead of a realizing evening and extra sleep, we ended up getting in at 0030hrs - 30 minutes earlier than the night before after a chilly climb to 7000 feet.

Getting into the room, I dropped my stuff and started charging things.  The Sena died in Camp Verde and so did my iPhone.  So I put those on the charger and flopped into bed.  I didn't realize that the lamp I plugged into was controlled by the switch by the front door.  My stuff got about 10 minutes of charging time the whole night!  Paul to the rescue.  Being always prepared, Paul pulled out his XP3 battery charger...
With this bad boy, I was able to plug my sena in, put the battery pack in my jacket and get a charge while we rode.  I didn't have to be tethered to the bike at all.  My iPhone went right into the USB port on the bike, safely tucked away in the lower cabinet.  By the time we stopped for breakfast, my Sena was fully charged and the iPhone was at 83%.  Over breakfast, I finished charging the iPhone on the XP-3.  When both were done charging, the XP3 was still at 75% capacity.  I have to have one...although, maybe the XP1, which will charge a laptop.  Pics from breakfast.  I don't always wait until someone is ready for the picture.

My kind of place:

So, from here, we decided to take I-40 to Rt. 66 and into Kingsman Az., where we visited Paul's dad; a very nice man with rich experiences to share.  He's a retired Marine with a very nice gun collection he was very willing to show off.  Paul's step mom is also a very nice lady and she did a fantastic job decorating their house.  After a couple hours visiting, it was time to pull up the kickstands and head home.  It would be 8 or 9pm before we got back.  That didn't mean we were going to do the super-slab the whole way.  We jumped back on 66 and went through some of my favorite parts of 66 through Oatman, where there is a little town that has borough's that come down off the mountain at around 1630-1700 to visit with the crowd and get some treats.  Here's some of the twisties leading up to the town and, of course the boroughs we found there when we arrived.

Excellent trip.  Fun was had by all, and of course, I'm ready to go on another trip right away.  Some notes...Paul turned 72,000. on his LT.  I am just about to turn 56,000 on my GT.  As always, here are the maps:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

20160828 - 54,250 Maintenance and Cost of Ownership

This service takes a requires some explanation.  My bike is consuming oil.  You can look at my other posts about that.  The dealerships I've spoken to all say that adding a half quart between oil changes is within normal specifications.  I did a service at 51,000 and used non-synthetic oil.  You can see the post about why here.  This service was to change back to synthetic and get back on the normal maintenance schedule.

I wanted to know exactly how much oil I am consuming so I could gauge whether the problem is getting worse or better.  When I did the last oil change, I added exactly 4.5l oil.  I ran the bike and did the oil change per the instructions in the rider manual.  That brought me to half way up on the dipstick...between the min and max marks.  Over the last 3k miles, I did not get a warning light indicating the need to add oil.  Again, wanting to know exactly how much oil I'm losing between oil changes, I ran the bike, let it cool a little and opened up the drain and sump.  I let the oil drain and drip all night long. I wanted to capture every drop.  I also dumped out the oil in the filter.  When my oil change was done, I measured it out.  I had 4350ml oil.  So, I'm consuming 150ml oil every 3k miles.  This indicates that the problem is probably not as bad as I thought it was...not that it isn't bad. During the warranty period, I was a bad BMW owner.  I never checked the oil.  I never knew that a 4.5l oil change only got you to mid way up on the dipstick.  I, being your typical American want bigger, better, faster and always the max.   When I got the first alert about the oil being low, I brought the level up to the max mark with 500ml oil.  I thought that was the amount I was consuming.  Still, I'm not happy with consuming 300ml every oil change.

Other news related to this came in yesterday when I posted "Dirty Little (Dealership) Secrets, Dirty Little Lies."  I plugged my blog on FaceBook's K1600 site and one of the readers indicated that he had a similar problem and indicated that on 2012 models and some 2013 models, the pistons weren't made right.  His BMW started smoking at 65k and he had to tear it down and replace 3/6.  Obviously, I'm now very concerned that I have a major repair coming and will need to be very careful about how far off the grid I take this bike.  I'm keep monitoring the oil situation and hope for the best.

As for cost of ownership, I'm at $0.61/mile.  Even if I do the piston replacement myself (above), should it be needed, I'm probably back to more than a dollar per mile to maintain this bike!

For reference, here's the 6k service checklist.  All these items were completed during this service.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

20160827 - Dirty Little (Dealership) Secrets, Dirty Little Lies

This is a short, well written rant based on a true story...

So there I was, riding along on my K1600GT when I glanced down at my clutch reservoir and took notice that it was significantly darker than the front brake reservoir on the other handlebar.  Being that I was well into a nearly 19 hour trip that day, I decided to ask Siri why that might be.  Siri is useful much of the time, like when I need a trivial fact or figure when I am riding and can't exactly consult Dr. Google.  This time, she basically punted.  She said "I found this on the web, take a look."  Well, I couldn't, so I waited until I got home and still couldn't resolve my question; but, I was preparing to do my 54,000 mile service, so I decided to change it.  Now you have the background part, the lying part is coming.

I consulted the Service manual to make sure I understood the procedure for changing the clutch fluid and, of course, there were a couple surprises.  The specific surprise I'm referring to was this:

Notice that little diddy about "Oder the bleed screw and dust cap through the electronic parts catalogue (ETK)."  I thought that is what you'd do if you broke it somehow.  That's not what it meant.  I removed the gearbox cover and guess what...there is a grubscrew there, and no bleed screw.  You have to purchase this little part to do this maintenance work.  So, off I go to the local BMW dealer to get this screw.  Since there are no specifications, I have no idea whether or not a standard bleeder screw would work and I don't want my bike down for a long period of time.

At the dealership, I worked with a parts guy to identify the screw.  They don't have this diagram, they have a parts diagram and on that diagram, this screw is called a vent screw.  Since it took me an hour to drive there and will take an hour to drive back, I asked the parts guy to verify this is what I needed with a technician or the service manager.  When he came back, he said that it is what is called for; but, he didn't have it in stock.  He also said that the technicians don't use it.  They believe that unless the clutch isn't working, you shouldn't mess with the fluid.  It's a pain in the butt.  What they do is pull the fluid out of the reservoir only and refill it with fresh.  ARRRRAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!  If you don't understand what I just wrote, let me say it another way.  The technician (some or all) charge 3 FTE's for this procedure and they do it in a non-standard, unauthorized way that results in the owner getting a mix of fresh mineral oil and old mineral oil in the clutch system.

This is the rant part.  I stopped taking my bike to the dealership for maintenance because they are simply not treating it with the white gloves that I expected of a high priced service department.  You can read my past blog about my 48,000 mile maintenance where I found stripped bolts and all kinds of other pain inflicted on my bike at a dealership.  Now, I'm learning that technicians are taking (authorized by the dealership or on their own) other short cuts.  I have no idea if oil has actually been changed, filters changed, etc.  Mr. BMW insists on a very aggressive and expensive maintenance schedule and who knows how many of his dealers are not doing the work as specified by the hard working engineers who designed and relentlessly tested this bike.  Right now, I'm trying to chase down an oil consumption problem that started right after my bike went out of warranty.  I have to include, as suspect, all past oil service and whether they were done correctly or not.  My utopian bubble has been further deflated.

All good cautionary tales have a word of caution.  Here it is.  Do the work yourself or reap what you sow.  You paid good money for a world class motorcycle.  Something excited you about this particular brand and bike.  In order to get the full lifespan out of this motorcycle you need to make sure the bike is serviced properly.  If you do it yourself...and if you don't know how,'ll be sure.  Another way is to take your bike to an individual you've known since you were both in diapers and have him/her do it.

I didn't name names here.  It is possible that I ran across one bad technician or one bad dealership and the rest of utopia is well, utopian still.  I have my doubts about that though.  Please don't ask me, I won't give up my source.  The idea isn't to persecute one dealership for being honest with me, it's to remind people of the harsh reality of the service world.

Safe riding!

Friday, August 26, 2016

20160825 - Spring Hill - Jacksonville - return

One of my friends posted recently about straight razor shaving.  I used to shave this way in college.  I can't say that I was ever really good at it; but, I used to do it.  I decided to get back into it again.  My knowledge of blades and sharpening is much richer than it was in college and I'm much more able to keep a sharp blade and an unscathed face now.  So, this trip was to "The Superior Shave" in Jacksonville to get a straight blade razor.  Believe it or not, there aren't many places that carry quality shaving products anymore.  Everyone seems to be content rubbing lather from a can of fat impregnated with tetramethylbadshit in it and spending $19 for a few razors that will last you no more than a month.  The flip side is you can get a subscription service these days where they take your money whether you need more blades or not.  I've never done that, so I can't vouch for the quality.  Shaving with a straight razor is just as much art as it is science.  Amazon doesn't seem to fit into the art part, so I thought a motorcycle trip to the closest specialty store, 4 hours away, was completely apropos.

I am not one to ride on the Interstate unless I'm really pressed for time or simply tired of riding.  I am also getting to know Florida really well.  Without looking at a map, I knew that my route would take me out 50 to 301 north into the Ocala National Forest.  From there, I really wanted to ride A1A up the coast to Jacksonville.  All I needed to do was connect the two segments.  I did that on BaseCamp and uploaded the route to my GPS.  Normally, I would take the time to put in about a billion waypoints to force the route; but, I really wanted to leave, so I picked 5 waypoints and decided to call it a day for the GPS.

Routing this way is truly not desired.  I think that if you don't have the time to properly force a route, just write down some waypoints and navigate by road signs.  My GPS constantly...I mean constantly was "recalculating," so much so, I just turned off routing guidance and navigated by road signs and what I could remember of the route.  If I got lost, I got lost.  As long as I made it there before closing, I would get what I needed and get back home before the clock struck midnight...which isn't important anyway.

When I got up toward Ocala, I decided to have lunch at Fat Boy's BBQ in Ocala.  I didn't see any fat boys though.  There were a couple skinny chicks serving.  I guess they keep the fat boys in the kitchen.  There I consulted a map...a paper the kind I'm always preaching about carrying on your bike.  It showed that 40 was my connector to A1A.  I thought I'd punch the address into the GPS when I got to Jacksonville and let it take me in the last 5 miles.  The plan was a success and the ride was wonderful.  It was great to see the ocean again.  The weather guessers were predicting a hurricane for the weekend, so it's possible that the coast could be pretty well hammered in the week coming.

The Superior Shave store was right where the GPS said it would be.  It is a nice place with tons of soaps, brushes, razors, strops, scissors, nail care instruments and so on.  I spoke with the owner who is 6 years younger than me.  He made no bones about telling me he knew everything about Dovo razors and that there were only 3 such serious stores for this type of thing.  He was helpful.  He also has a problem.  Amazon is kicking the shit out of this niche industry.  He told me they hired 7 people to work this industry and since that happened, business is tanking.  He can't believe how much damage they've caused in such a short time.  It is a pity.  Big Internet giants continue to put the little guy out of business and soon, you won't be able to shop for anything in person.  I'm sure they want it that way; but, there are certain things you want to try or test or feel or experience before you buy.  You may also want to talk to an expert, etc.  It's a sad state of affairs to be sure.

With supplies in hand, I tucked them away on the bike and went to find dinner.  It was after 5.  Chillis was as good a place as any, so I went there, caught up on email, messages and whatnot while waiting for a salad to arrive.  Going home, I tried to wing it; but, before too long, I realized that the sky to the east was turning ugly and I needed to put miles between me and it.  I opted for interstate roads and watched most of the way home as the storm continued to build.  It seemed like it was growing parallel to my position the whole way.  When I got to Spring Hill, there was a thunderstorm going on not to far south of me.

It was a good trip and now, my bike is ready for its next maintenance cycle!

All Trips to Date on the K1600GT:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

10 personal comfort thoughts about Iron Butt Rides

I wanted to post some thoughts on long distance riding, particularly the Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000.  The Saddle Sore is the first 'level' of certification rides.  It requires that you get affidavits filled out at your beginning location, gas receipts with correct time and mileage written on them, an affidavit at the end of the run and for the rider to submit a log, maps, etc. to prove they did the ride.  I've done two of these and, on top of that, the Bun Burner 1500.  I regularly do rides of 700 plus miles as well.  Along the way, I've noted a few things and will share them here.  I decided to focus on the bike and rider comfort vs. equipment to bring.  Many people have made suggestions about this and I've made several myself.

1. Synthetic clothing is the biggest load of crap out there, except possibly during the winter.  I've heard all the claims of advanced wicking of moisture away from the skin and seen all the fancy diagrams and videos.  Bull puckey!  I've tried more than one brand and they all behave the same.  They are constrictive.  They act like a second layer of skin and trap heat and moisture.  After several hours of 90+ degree riding, you'll be desperate to get it off your body.  During the winter, however, it will provide another layer of warmth in the same way tights would.  Unless you're using this product for that purpose, I highly recommend that you go back to natural fabrics that you like.  The biggest requirement is to make sure there are no seams anywhere where your body contacts the seat.  That's it.  Be comfortable in what you're wearing.

2. You can't put on enough talcum powder, anti-butt powder, etc.  I put on the powder on generously from knees to waist.  I reapply during bathroom breaks while I'm riding.   I get it all over the place too.  I don't care.  I dump some in my pants as well.  The whole idea is to get your clothing to slide over your skin instead of being attached to it.  It's also to minimize the effects of sweating.

3.   Athlete's foot.  Ride long enough and you're going to get it.  Your boot is like a well insulated oven and your feet are right next to the engine; over a hundred degrees hotter than the rest of your body.  Your feet will sweat and your boots make for the perfect environment to grow fungus.  I happen to like Lotrimin.  I put the cream on my foot and wipe the excess off in the inside of my sock.  I also take the Lotrimin powder and dump copious amounts in my boots, hold the top shut and shake.  That should kill any athletes foot growing in the boot.  Being able to deal with this problem on a vacation that starts with a long distance ride is a good thing.  Failure to deal with it will surely make your feet very unhappy.

4.  Your saddle is critical to your comfort.  What it won't do is stop the burning, rash type feeling that happens at all points in contact with the saddle.  What a properly fitted saddle will do is prevent pain on the tailbone and ischial tuberocities...the bones you sit on.  I suggest working up to 1000 miles.  Being comfortable in your saddle at 250 miles is no indication of what you're going to feel like at 1000.  My recommendation is that you should feel comfortable with a 10 hour ride before you try a saddle sore 1000 and address any 'pressure' you feel on your tail bone or ischial tuberocities before trying the ride.  After all, it would be nice to walk when you're done.

5.  The geometry of your bike is going to effect how your back feels when you're done.  Let's take the Honda Goldwing as an example.  If you are 5' tall or greater and have an inseam greater than 25", you will have no forward lean.  This means no pressure on the lower back as a result of your core muscles holding your upper body in place.  (It is a bad idea to use the handlebars to take up the weight of your upper body.  Doing so puts lots of pressure on your spine right between the shoulder blades and will result in discomfort over the long term. )  That being said, your weight is now concentrated straight down, requiring more attention to the saddle.  In contrast, let's look at a sport bike, the Kawasaki Ninga.  At average heights, that bike sports a 22 degree forward lean, way too much for a comfortable long distance ride.  Even if you lay your chest on the gas tank the whole way, your neck won't like the stretched position required to see adequately.  The good news is that there is substantially less pressure on the saddle.  That's probably a good thing since sport bike saddles are generally very thin.  I ride a BMW K1600GT and have about a 5 degree lean angle.  It took me a little while to get used to it; but, it is very comfortable for me now.  Every bike and rider combination is going to provide a different geometry. will help you approximate what yours will be.  Even still, non-standard modifications will change these numbers, such as elevated handlebars or modifications that move the bars closer to the rider.  The good news is that if there are any geometry concerns, they should be evident by the time you've got 10 hours in the saddle.

6.  Knees must move to be happy.  Highway pegs are a great thing.  I wish I could use them on my bike.  Highway pegs allow you to straighten out your legs.  Knees that are stuck in the bent position for hours at a time will be sore.  If you can put highway pegs on your bike, do so.  If you can't, you still have to get your legs out of that bent position frequently.  If you are an experienced rider and comfortable with the idea, you might want to try dangling your feet off the pegs.  You have to be very alert to the road surface; much more than normal.   If your foot hits anything at highway speeds, it will hurt and could cause serious injury.  Don't even think about kicking rubber retreads on the highway, cones, etc.  It will hurt.  Also, most roads have reflectors in the pavement that stick up a little from the ground.  These will also hurt if you kick one.  I also recommend having your feet on the pegs on milled road surfaces, uneven surfaces, bumps, dips and curves.  There is danger in this, particularly your legs getting caught up under the saddlebags or in the rear wheel, so do so at your own risk.  The best option, bar none, is to make frequent stops and walk.  That is the option I recommend.

7.  Every stop (gas, food, bathroom) is a hydration stop.  You could argue that you're doing nothing but sitting and therefore aren't getting dehydrated.  You're wrong.  Sitting in the sun all day is much different than sitting behind your computer in an air-conditioned office.  Chances are, you're dehydrated there also.  Most people don't drink enough to begin with.  Even if you feel like you're not sweating, you are dehydrating all the time.  It's a process.  The sun and probably the wind accelerate it.  Drink water.  Another really good drink for the road is Pedialyte.   It tastes like crap; but, it has all the right stuff to keep you fresh as a daisy and not even close to the amount of sugar as Gatorade.  Gatorade is fine and readily available in every gas station and convenience store.  Cut it in half with don't have to mix it; just drink half and then an equal amount of water.  Drink more and you'll feel better and more alert.  Enough said.

8.  Plan to pee.  If you don't have to pee regularly, you're not drinking enough.  See #7.  Don't even try to reduce your water intake so you'll pee less.  If you have a bladder the size of a golf ball, look into catheter systems.  I understand that long haul truckers use them and I've also heard that some bikers will rig up the tubing so urine comes out directly to the pavement - no bag.  Whatever you do, please don't try to hold it or drink less to avoid the need to pee.

9.  Sunscreen never goes around or above the eyes.  On my first IB run, I made this mistake.  The afternoon heat was making me sweat and my waterproof sunblock ended up in my eyes.  The only option is to get off the road, flush your eyes with clean water and wash your face.  In the mean time, you look like a 5 y/o after a crying jig.  At that time, I was wearing a skid lid and goggles.  Now, I wear a full face helmet and I don't have any issues with this anymore.

10.  Music or an intercom make the ride much more enjoyable.  I used to be a 'hard core' Harley rider without a radio of any sort, no helmet, etc.  My music was the sound of the engine and blah blah blah.  Now, I want less noise and more entertainment.  I have a bluetooth headset and custom ear plugs...which I don't use all the time.  My bluetooth is hooked into XM Satellite, navigation, FM radio, Weather, my iPhone and ham radio.  Most of the time, I listen to music while monitoring the ham radio.  I usually ride alone, so it is nice when you can talk to someone during the ride.  I can talk to another traveler, or have a short conversation with someone as I pass their base station.  If there is another ham operator at the front of that multi-mile traffic jam, I can make an informed decision to wait it out or seek other options.  Mostly though, I listen to music.  I tend to listen to 80's on 8; but, after hearing the same programming for the third time, I will switch to 70's on 7 or a playlist on my iPhone or even talk radio.  I've caught up with family and friends and many are happy to keep you company on the ride.  On a 1000 mile ride, you're going to be riding for 3/4 of the day.  Have some entertainment options for those long straight boring sections of the ride.  That being said, I will turn all that off when the scenery is the entertainment.

Good luck on your first Iron Butt ride.  I wish you roads free of traffic and calamities.

Monday, August 15, 2016

20160815 - Florida to NJ and back

Now is a great time to do a trip.  I'm at a point in my job interviews where nothing is scheduled; for the week of the 15th and there are a couple of opportunities that may become real jobs.  If they do, I will need to get right on it and start.  If they don't, I will need to double time my efforts to find my next job.  So, now is the time to go see family and friends.

Day 1 - 800 miles:  Spring Hill to Blacksburg VA or thereabouts.  The original plan was to leave at 5am and perhaps make it a 950-1000 mile trip.  That didn't happen.  When the alarm went off, I just wasn't able to pull myself out of bed.  I knew the penalty for that was going to be in miles.  No matter what, I was going to be  riding in hot temperatures...90+ all day.

I finally got on the road at 8:30 in the morning and things were fine right up until I was 3 miles from I-16 in Savannah Georgia.  Things were very gray and the lightning in the distance became lightning up close with heavy rain...the heavy rain that is not just high frequency drops; but, big drops.  Right at that point, I saw the I-16 sign 2 miles sign.  I-16 runs east to west and there were blue skies to the west, so I-16 it was.  It was probably about 25 miles before I was out of the rain and could pull over to consult a map.  I would need a new plan because the storm was large and fierce.  There was no way I was going to make it back to I-95 and up to I-26, even if I waited half the day.

I was in Pembroke GA and it looked like I could take 67 north to 25 to 77 and resume my path.  I would go through Augusta GA, Columbia SC and Charlotte NC.  I ended up losing about 4 hours of time with this routing; but, it had to be.  I could not ride the original plan.  The night before, the route forecast showed some minor showers.  Again, the weather guessers guessed wrong.

The ride to rejoin my route was nice; but, I had to stop in Columbia SC to let some thunderstorms pass.  Fortunately, that was only about 30 minutes of stopping time.

It was nice riding in the evening.  The temperature dropped into the upper 70's.  I wish I could stay awake longer and make it further north since it would be hot again in the morning.  Safety first.  I decided to put the kickstand down at around 11 pm.  I was just north of Roanoke.

On Friday, it was an easy 400 miles to my first stop.  I arrived by 12:30 and spent the whole afternoon with Dave and Crystal.  That evening, I rode up to Hazleton and grabbed a room.  Pickens were pretty slim.  I ended up paying $180 for a room at the Hampton and I was lucky to get it.  It was the last room.

On Saturday, I needed to get to NJ in the morning to see my nephew play football.  I thought it was ridiculous that they were playing in the 90+ degree heat; but, they were.

That's my nephew - #18.  His job is to contain the play to the inside and he's done that.  He's 8 and this is his first year of contact football.  He's learning very fast.

After the game, we went back to my sister's house for a pool party - a very needed cool down from a hot football game.
The ride back:

1160 miles, 18:45 with 2 30 minute stops for meals, 4 or 5 gas stops and Rt 301 was shut down while
the fire department put out a car fire on the side of the road.  All in all, that's not bad time at all.  I have to say that I thought I was done at the 800 mile mark.  The heat was getting to me and I didn't drink enough.  I stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel and drank lots of fluid.  When I got back on the bike, I felt refreshed and since it was still daylight, I kept going.  When darkness fell, I had 2 or 3 hours to go.  How do you stop for a hotel room when you're that close to home?  I couldn't do it.  That being said, I had to deal with a thunderstorm around Jacksonville Fl. and if the skies were more violent, I would have taken the hotel option.  Here's a picture of the route.

Here's a picture of all routes over 250 miles to date: