Friday, October 13, 2017

20171013 - Redlands to Sedona to Redlands

Sometime around Thursday afternoon, I realized I had a weekend ahead of me and no assignments due in the coming week.  This, of course, means a motorcycle ride was in the making.  These are the details of said ride.

At 3:45 on Friday, as soon as my customer had enough of me, I bolted out the door, changed into riding gear, threw the gear on the bike and started riding.  I knew I'd ride on Thursday, so I put my gear together, so all I'd have to do is tie it down to the bike and leave.  My destination was unclear and equally unimportant.  I considered that there are many wildfires in the middle part of California, so a northern route from Redlands wasn't going to be much fun.  Temps in Utah, specifically around Bryce, were already dipping into the high twenties in the evenings, so Utah wasn't going to be a good option.  The Pacific ocean stopped me from going too far west, so east it was.  I left the office at 3:45 and was packed and on my way by just after 4 pm.

I stopped for the night in Blyth California, after the sun called it quits for the day.  After gassing up, I strolled into the Comfort Suites and checked into a room.  I realized after stepping out for dinner that the room hadn't cooled down at all and had to pack up all my stuff and move to another room...and then another room.  The first two did not have AC.  They were controlled by wall thermometers that just weren't making the fan come on.  At 75 degrees F, there was no way I was going to sleep, and there was no way I was paying $89 plus tax for a warm room in the desert.  This hotel did something for efficiency where the occupant is required to slide their room card into a slot inside the room to get the lights to come on.  If the card is pulled out, the lights all go out.  The idea is that if you're not in the room, the room shuts down and saves electricity.  I'm wondering if the energy savings idea also means that the temperature is controlled at the front desk and management doesn't let it go over 75.  I'll never know because the nice young lady at the desk was helpful in finding me a room that had an airconditioner with independent controls.


California was hosting a Red Flag Alert up and down the 95 corridor.  For those not in the know, and I was one of those people until Google came to my rescue, a Red Flag Alert occurs when the government believes that conditions are ideal for wildfires.  I believe they were right because when I got off my bike in Blythe California, I noted that it was completely covered in ash and I was able to smell burning wood for several miles coming into Blythe.  I've done a lot of things on this motorcycle, and it did cross my mind to head up 95 anyway.  I mean, how many riders can say they outrode a wildfire?  Despite the temptation, I really didn't have a good destination for after Hover Dam, so I planned to have lunch in Sedona Arizona and come up with something from there.

My route took me to Brenda, Arizona where I picked up Rt. 60.  Brenda is just another desert town occupied by RV's.  There is nothing in all directions. I mean they probably had dial-up internet access.  Verizon isn't going to be laying down fiber anytime soon.

Rt. 60 is a straight road with lots of desert all around.  Soon enough though, I picked up Rt. 71 for more straight, desert riding.  Similar riding continued all the way into Congress, AZ where I encountered a single twisty segment followed by more straight road.  Eventually though, I was nearing Prescot where there were lots of twisty roads!  The speed limit was a souring 35 mph and to make sure I wouldn't violate that, Arizona placed an elderly lady in a red Kia squarely in front of me, doing between 20 and 35.  To make double sure, they also placed a state trooper in one of the turnouts.  The trooper was easily avoided because some nice guy on a Harley alerted me to his presence a few miles beforehand.  Someone should write to John McCain about that section of road.  There should be a law against having laws that detract from having fun.

Behold the lady in the red Kia:

From Prescot, I hooked up with 89A, and there are some nice twisty roads on the way to Jerome.  I shot a ton of video coming through Jerome.  Guess what?  None of it came out.  I have no excuse.  I'll do it again (  :-)  ).  Jerome was a happening place.  There was some burger place serving haunted burgers or something.  People came from miles around for these.  After that, the next real town was Cottonwood.  Cottonwood is not a destination, but it had gas, and enough of it to get me all the way to Sedona, maybe 10 miles away.

Sedona is a nice place and is obviously the gateway to the Red Messas.  I thought about deploying the drone until I saw helicopter tours being given.  I suppose if I get there first, I'm just as entitled to the airspace, but, being a pilot myself, I'm just not up for chancing a close encounter of the helicopter kind.  The drone stayed in its case.  Lunch was a very nice Greek Salad at some pizza place with outdoor seating.  I have to say that the weather in Sedona was perfect.  In fact, even in the desert portions of this trip, the weather was perfect.  I took a look at a map and realized that I barely had 500 miles in on this trip, probably due to all the low-speed limits and the red Kia.  I still had a day and a half in front of me, so I decided to stay in the Coconino Park, go back to CottonWood, take a left on 260 and follow that to the western edge of the state.  I thought I'd re-work the plan from there.

Coconino is a very nice park.  I'd say that it's not exactly a park I'd plan a trip to, but it has some nice country views.  I had my sights set on Slow Low, Arizona to figure out my next move and I was a little surprised how fast I got there.  I was expecting more slow riding, but the speed limit was 65 in parts.  There is nothing much in Slow Low, except a gas station and a turn onto 60 to get me to the Interstate, where I would look for suitable lodgings for the evening.

About 10 miles out of Slow Low, the October sun was setting and at a horrible angle.  After getting gas, I really had to get off the road or risk an accident.  I could barely see at times, and I knew I wasn't being seen.  Time for supper.  I found a place called Judy's something or other.  I thought I could get a decent meal there.  I was wrong.  I had asked the waitress what on the menu was home cooked and she got this very befuddled look on her face.  She said, "Honey, nothing is home cooked anywhere anymore."  How distressing.  I had some reconstituted pot roast.  It was edible.  I was disappointed, but not surprised.  I did not expect to find fine dining, but I am always hoping to find memorable quisine when I get to a little town.

On the road again, I headed toward Mesa.  I was a little concerned with my chances of finding a room if I stayed too far west.  The first Best Western I saw was Gold Rush Best Western in Gold Canyon.  After the previous evening's fiasco, I was looking forward to an uneventful stay.  The room was nice, but it had this very faint smell of cigarette smoke.  It wasn't enough to set off my allergies or cause me to get a new room, but it was noticeable, particularly when going out of the room and coming back in.  The king size bed was comfortable though.  While I relaxed, I pulled up Google Maps to see what my next move was going to be.  I was 350 miles from Redlands, and it would take 5 hours plus stops to get back.

I decided that I would take a nice leisurely ride back in the morning and get some things done around the catch up on my blogging.  I was up at 6 am and on the bike by 7.  7 am seems to be my start time more often than not.  The plan was to take 60, circle the city to the north and pop out on 10 for a super-slab ride back home.  The ride was mostly uneventful.

Somewhere west of Phoenix, my check engine light came on.  I pulled off the highway at a Lowe's truck stop and consulted my GPS-911, which I carry on all long-distance trips.  It occurred to me right then that I might not have been able to use it if I hadn't brought my laptop!  I was considering leaving it behind.  Lesson learned!  The indication was that one of the coils was having an issue.  This is good news and bad news.  The good news is that if it gives out, I'll lose power (18%), but I'll still make it back.  The bad news is coils cost $200 each, before labor.  If one coil is going, it's likely the rest are going to go before too long; after all, my bike now has 74,000 miles on it.  All I could think about on the ride back was whether I should just get a new bike and forego dealing with the issues that come with a high mileage bike, or if I should just replace all of them ($1200 + labor), or if I should do the work myself ($1200 + time).  I needed a contingency plan knowing that I was just about to start a 3-hour trek across the desert and had a risk of being broken down, so I ran inside and grabbed an extra bottle of water before getting on the road again.

The ride through the desert at mid-day always sucks.  The air is so dry that your nose will water to stay moist.  Even though it was only 96 (112 the last time I went through), it was hot enough to zap every bit of energy from my body.   There was some split-lane travel required around Indio, but other than that, the ride back was uneventful.

Here are the maps:

I think my next gig needs to be in Dallas, or maybe Boise Idaho, so I can start filling in some of the empty sections.

Ah yest,  look what I discovered about my riding boots...

Time to see the cobbler.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

20170830 - 73,214 - Total Cost of Ownership


My bike is just off an annual maintenance and a huge front end repair.  I noted some wobble in the front end while on my last 6500 mile run, which I thought was a road issue.  Gateway BMW had another thought about it.  As soon as they put it up on the stand, they felt the front end shake.  I was able to get it back to my home dealer and wasn't about to attempt the repair myself.  There was something in there about needing head and a190 ft/lbs of torque on something or other.  I also thought that this would be better done with trained hands.  I'm a computer guy, not a mechanic.

While it was there, I had them do my annual maintenance.  I normally do that myself, but it was there, apart, and I was short on time.  The total bill for that service was $2985.65.

Always doing the numbers, I added that to my cost of ownership spreadsheet.

These are the numbers, by miles traveled:
Invoice 2985.65 0.51
Invoice 874.86 0.57
Invoice 348.87 0.55
Invoice 114.46 0.61
Invoice - Filter 27.73 0.64
Invoice - Oil 28.26 0.64
Invoice - Spark Plugs 135.6 0.69
Invoice - Cylinder head gasket 115.52 0.68
Invoice - Mouting and blanacing 98.67 0.68
Invoice 684.36 0.68
Z - Invoice 105.37 0.77
Z - Invoice 1373.89 0.88
Z - Invoice 793.89 0.91
Z - Invoice 1176.74 1.47
Z - Invoice 163.09 1.51
Z - Invoice 445.52 1.71
Z - Invoice 398.01 2.31
Z - Invoice 235.55 2.44
Z - Invoice 511.25 4.49
Z - Invoice 175.5 34.18
Z - Invoice 141.99 56.77
Z - Invoice 140.93 1452.27
Initial Cost 26,000 26000

It looks like I may be at an inflection point.  On this last trip, a check engine light came on.  One of my coils is going.  I may elect to replace them all vs. having another one go shortly after replacing this one.  I can do the job myself, but time is an issue.  Decisions, decisions!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

20170827 - Grand Junction Colorado to Redlands California

I'm doing this out of order.  Yesterday was a long day, and today was going to be even longer.  We arrived in Grand Junction before dark.  The last 30 miles were hard as we were riding through the desert.  Desert heat takes away so much energy.
Jim had Marriot points and used them to get us two rooms.  We were staying at a Residence Inn, so it was a shame that such a nice room was only used for one quick evening.

While eating dinner with Jim, I discovered that the ride home was going to be 750 miles, not 500 miles.  That was a game changer.  I was expecting 500 because when I looked a map a couple days ago, I thought I was going to make it past Grand Junction and get 250 miles closer to my destination before turning in.  That didn' happen.

750 miles of mostly super-slab will take about 10 hours, plus traffic.  Temperatures were expected to be over 100 for a large part of the ride.  As above, this is very hard riding.  I planned to be up at 4 am and start riding to get as many miles out of the way as possible before the temperature got into the 90's.

Surprisingly, when the alarm went off at 4am, I was able to jump out of bed, get ready very quickly and had the kickstand up at 4:20 am.  It was dark, and I-70 doesn' have street lights.  It does have an 80mph speed limit though.  The good news was that at that hour, there aren't many vehicles on the road, so I was able to make extensive use of the high-beams.  I don't think I saw anything except the road from Grand Junction until I was half-way to I-15.  When the sun came up behind me, it illuminated some fantastic landscape.  The elevation was no more than about 7,000' at the highest, but the temperature dropped down to 43 degrees.

I was on I-15 by 7:45.  The temperature was climbing into the 80's already, and I was headed into the desert.  I was quite aware that it was going to be a hot day.  As it worked out, I managed to go get into Las Vegas while the temperature was just barely making it to 100 degrees, but temps greater than 100 degrees would last all the way home.  The high temperature was 111 degrees.  I only stopped for fuel and had breakfast bars to eat.  The one thing that was quite clear on this ride is that a breakdown in the desert would be very bad.  At those temperatures, it would be miserable waiting for help.  Hydration would clearly be an issue.

I arrived home just before 1:30 pm PST.  Here are the customary maps.  I didn't take any video today.  This is the whole 6500-mile trip.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

20170826 - Salinas, Colorado to Grand Junction, Colorado

The morning plan was to get some breakfast and go to the Nissan dealer to find the part Jim needs for his Ducati.  We ate breakfast at a pancake house in Salinas.  The food was good and I'd go there again.

  The dealership, the dealership that Google said was in Salinas, wasn't there.   We rode across town a few times before coming to the conclusion that it simply wasn't there.  The plan was to move on to Durango and if there was a dealership there, get the part in Durango.

Words are insufficient to describe Colorado.  Gorgeous, un-polluted skies, crystal clear streams, and plenty of uneven terrain with enormous pine trees are everywhere.  Some of the streams are actually copper color; not the water, but the land the water runs through.  The water is crystal clear.  I also noted that there are a lot of fly-0-fisherman in Colorado.

When we arrived in Durango, we stopped for lunch in town.  It was interesting because when I travel alone, I don't venture in-town , and I should.  We were able to find parking and headed into a bar/grill.  I was nice to stop at some non-chain place for food.

Durango did have a Nissan dealer, and they had the relay Jim was looking for.  Jim bought 6.  They were only $2 each.  This brought up an interesting conversation between Jim and I.  Modern bikes can leave you stranded over a $2 part, and there are dozens of them on a modern bike.  Fuses, relays, switchesk, and computers can all leave a person stranded wi their bike in the middle of nowhere.  We talked at length about what should really be in the tool-kit.  Do you stop at fuses and relays, or do you search for other easily replacable parts that can break?  I plan to do some investigation into my bike top see what sorts of things can stop the bike from starting, or even turn it off while I'm riding.

After Durango, we got on the Million dollar highway.  The name is quite apropos.  The views are breathktaking.  I'm going to let some video do the talking.

<<<<insert go-pro video>>>

While we were riding, we stopped a couple times to shoot some drone video.

<<<insert drone vvideo from the turnout>>>

This video waas taken from a pull-out about 1/2  a mile from where we saw some wooden buildings in a canyon.  We decided to stop and send the drone in for a look.  This was a little scary.  We knew what direction the buildings were in, but we kweren't able to see the drone once it decended below thetree line.  It sure was fun flying the drone by looking through the camera.  This was really the first time I did that.  Enjoy the video.

<<<insert drone video of mining buildings>>>`

20170825 - Castle Rock, Colorado to Salida, Colorado

The plan was to meet at 8 am, fly my drone with Jim and his brother for awhile, get some video, slide over for some breakfast and start riding.  We had trouble straight off.

Jim's rear tire was flat.  He needed a new one, and the nearest repair facility wasn't open yet.  When they did open, they were very accommodating and said they would take us right in.  We were planning to leave and go south, but we were definitely heading north into Denver.

While Jim checked in his bike, John and I made the rounds around this motorsport place.  They have a ton of bikes.  Everything you may have wanted to buy was there.   After check-in, we went to have breakfast at a local breakfast place, and before too long, Jim's bike was ready to go.  Jim was worried that this was seriously cutting into our motorcycle play time, but these things happen and must be taken care of.  I was glad to see Jim riding around on new sneakers.  In his words, he's a 'spirited' rider.  The old tires would not do.  They simply needed to go.

We left Denver for some spectacular riding through the plains.  Jim was riding a Ducati Multistrada.  The bike is a beast.  John was riding a 2000 BMW GS.  John has a bike that can't perform like Jim's Ducatti or my K1600, but he rides it like a beast.  For hours, we were having a good time.  The sky was a beautiful blue with some nice white puffy clouds.  All that hung above the incredible pine trees, streams, and mountain faces.  Breathtaking is one way to describe it.  Here's a quick 2 minute part of our ride...

Shortly after this clip, we came to a stop on the road.  We had to wait for a pilot car to take us through a construction zone.  We waited for about 3 or 4 minutes, and then followed the car slowly through the construction.  It wasn't long after that, I saw 10 red bars and a blinking exclamation point.  My bike was hot and needed a break.

Fortunately, I had a GS-911 and was able to plug in and get some real-time readings regarding temperature, fan status, etc.  We were able to determine that the bike was getting cooled and the fan was coming on.  We checked the cooling fluid, and it was normal.  We packed up with the plan to keep a close eye on it.  I didn't have any more problems for the rest of the day.  One thing is for certain; when I get back to California, I will be due for major service, and the coolant will be flushed and filled.  Hopefully, I don't have any issues before then.

We rode and about 2:30 in the afternoon broke for lunch.  Jane's kitchen was the place and it was a local, something better than fast-food place.  It was nothing to write home about.  From there, we said our goodbyes to John, who had to turn around and go back.  Jim and I left for Durango.

It wasn't but 30-45 minutes later that Jim's engine simply stopped running while we were doing 70mph.  We got it to the side of the road, and after a few minutes it started again.  We continued, but it stopped again.  We coasted to the bottom of the hill and Jim called his mechanic.  This had happened before and required Jim to have it towed in.  We happened to be in luck.  The mechanic sent pictures to Jim about what he needed to do.  Basically, he needed to switch out a relay.  We also were lucky in that a guy riding a BMW RT stopped and asked if we needed help.  We did.  We needed Allen keys and didn't have any.  Ron had a full set.  That got us back on the road.

It was late in the afternoon, and neither of us thought it was a good idea to continue on until we could secure a permanent replacement for the bad relay.  The town of Salinas offered accommodations and auto parts stores.  We stopped at the Gateway Inn and got rooms.

After checking in, we went and tried to get a replacement relay.  Neither auto parts store had it.  We found out that the Nissan Parts store is in this town and would probably have it.  We will see tomorrow.  We also went back to where we were pulled over on the side of the road.  Jim left the cover plate behind.  That has not been found yet.  More on this tomorrow.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

20170824 - Kansas City, Kansas to Castle Rock, Colorado

590 miles in this day, all of it super-slab.  Kansas is flat.  There wasn't a single elevation change until I arrived in Colorado; corners were elusive as well.  The good news is that it is gorgeous.  There was no weather to be had, but now that I'm in Colorado, the skies look like rain.  :-(  Hopefully tomorrow will be nice.

My route was Rt. 70 all the way to Rt. 86.  At that point I left the super-slab for 56 miles.  Colorado is simply gorgeous.  I can't wait to ride tomorrow and get some really nice pics.  My drone is charging now.  I may post a video of Castle Rock.  I need to make sure it's safe to fly around here first.

My today map and trip map are below.  So far I'm into this trip about 5,000 miles.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

20180823 - Beaver Creek, Ohio - Kansas City, Kansas

After yesterdays service, I realized my tires simply were not going to make it all the way home.  It seems like everything happens with 3 minutes left in business hours.  That was again the case when I found a BMW dealer on my path to Colorado.  I wanted an early start, so I picked Missouri to start looking found Gateway BMW in St. Louis.  I made an appointment for 2:30 expecting traffic in Indianapolis.  The plan was to get new Road Pilot 4.  I have to say, these RP-4's really suck.  I really want to try something else, but I'd also like to keep the front and back the same.

Traffic was light and primarily truck traffic.  While going through Indianapolis, I saw a lady in the number 3 lane come out of the lane like a NASCAR driver into lane 2 and instinctively, I knew she was going to keep coming.  I had just enough time to start squeezing the brakes before she was in my lane.  I was both slowing down and moving left toward the concrete barrier to avoid a collision.  I wailed on the horn, and it was only at that moment she knew I was there.  I could see she was a combination of terrified, upset, and apologetic.    One would think that would be enough for her to slow down and be cautious about her driving, but that didn't happen.  She was just as aggressive for the next 10 or so miles that we were on the same road.  3 minutes after that first attempt on my life, a second idiot did it, although not as aggressively.

The rest of the trip was very uneventful, and I pulled into Gateway BMW 2:30 early.  The GPS on the bike led me astray, but Google came to the rescue and got me where I needed to be.  Shannon greeted me at the front desk.  Shannon open carries in appendix draw fashion and had 2 extra mags on his weak side.  He also carries a knife on the front of his belt.  I asked him about that, and he said this was a very bad area, and BMW lets him carry, so he does.  We are definitely off to a good start here.

The next discussion we had was about my oil consumption.  Shannon said I was on the bottom end of normal oil consumption.  BMW won't even consider it a problem until it is 1.4L per 6k oil change.  He also said it is the oil, not the engine.  He said what is happening is that the oil is breaking down and that I'm burning more oil in the second 3,000 miles between oil change than the first 3,000.  HE IS SPOT ON ACCURATE.  That is my experience exactly.

We took a look at my bike, and the front tire is at the wear indicator, so the discussion ensued about changing that.  I told him if we were to do that I did not want to go back to MP-4's.  He said my experience matches every other K16 owner he's seen, and all of them are shifting to Dunlop tires.  As I write, I'm waiting for them to put a new set of Dunlops on my bike - front and rear.  Hopefully, these will last longer than the RP4's.

As much as I want to get on my way, it is lunch time at the dealership, and he's hoping he can get me in sooner than my 2:30 appointment.  So far, I'm very impressed with the folks here.  Not only did they get me in on short notice, but they gave me a better explanation of my oil consumption problem than I've had yet.  Note these signs at this BMW Motorrad dealership:

Things didn't exactly go as planned.  Shannon called me in to review an issue he found.  As he was putting the bike on the center stand, he felt a rattle in the front end and on closer inspection, felt the wheel bearings were in need of replacing.  He could shake the front wheel and get movement out of them.  I authorized that repair.  They had the wheel bearings in house and could do that easily during the front wheel change.  The problem was they would have to reuse the seals since they did not have those.  They said reuse shouldn't be a problem.

Awhile later, they called me back.  This time, the tech was working on the wheel bearings, and Shannon showed me that the rattle was still there and some spent wheel bearings.  This was a multiple problem situation.  Next up the chain are the ball joints,.  We could identify movement in the upper.  The lower was unclear.  They did not have ball joints in-house and I could not wait for them to get them.  With very little play in the ball joints, I elected to get that repair done when I got the bike back to California.  They said I should be fine, but to avoid aggressive riding.  Rodger that.

I didn't leave the BMW shop until after 5 pm.  This was a bummer because I really was hoping to get further down the road; however, this was definitely necessary, and in the scheme of things, I could accommodate it.

New wheel bearings made things different for sure.  I still can't decide whether the more responsive front end is due to the different tires or the ball joints, and I can't decide whether the 'hump' I feel like I'm transitioning over during turns (about 5 degrees of lean) is the tire or the bushings.  I'm sure I'm more sensitive to everything going on in the front end and will probably have to wait until I have the ball joints replaced to know for sure.  Either way, I'm definitely not riding as aggressively as I have been.