Birthday ride 2014

18, Aug, 2014

Every May my wife and kids get out of school for the summer. Their work is over but mine is gearing up. They need me to spend time with them and entertain them. Yes, they find stuff do (quite a bit actually) but still need my time too. School starts in August and then my birthday comes right after. I take the day off work and celebrate getting some of my time back.

This year I decided to take the day riding east. I was thinking mostly Arkansas but was open to some Missouri if I ended up that direction. I started out heading up to Spavinaw, Summerfield Road, etc. then east on highway 20 out of Jay. I turned south and east through farm country until I got to Rogers. I missed the turn to highway 12 (which is a nice sweeping drive over the lake and through the trees) and ended up stuck going south through Rogers which turned into Springdale (later the edge of Fayetteville). I worked my way east and south until caught up to highway 16. I decided to take 16 to the Pig Trail (Highway 23) and get to the Oark cafe for lunch.

It’s a Monday morning so traffic is really light so you can get in a rhythm through the curves and enjoy. I wasn’t in a hurry so I rolled off the throttle when I caught up to a pickup on a curve with double yellows. I figured there’s a passing zone in a bit and I’ll go around then. He pulls to the edge of the road, sticks arm out the window and waves me around. I can see it’s clear and roll back on the throttle.

I turn south on to highway 23. After a little while, there’s a white car following me. He’s keeping up but staying back. We get half way through the mountain stretch and close up behind a semi. The semi immediately dives onto a gravel turn out and lets us pass. The pavement is built up so the trailer bounced pretty good when it dropped off the pavement. Good thing it was empty (or mostly). I’m thinking: “He didn’t really need to do that” but gave him a wave when I went on by. The turns got tighter and the white car was getting closer so I pulled over on the shoulder and let him go by. I’m still a bit rusty and this is the first serious trip on this bike since I put knobbies on it. I’m almost to my turn off anyway.

Turn east down highway 215 to Oark. Another beautiful ride along the Mulberry river and the clouds were keeping the heat away.

Special of the day: BLT with cucumber and tomato salad. Wash it down with an iced tea. It’s much quieter than the weekend. You can tell most of these are regulars.

I’ve been to the Oark Cafe 5 or 6 times and finally saved enough room for their world famous buttermilk pie. Mmmmm. I was halfway through before I remembered to take a picture (close call).

There was a couple from England riding coast to coast on dirt roads on TAT (Trans American Trail) when I went outside. They asked if I was local because they had a couple questions. I explained that I was out on a day trip but have been through the area several times. I tried to point them in the right direction. We talked for half and hour then it was time for everyone to get back on the road.

This guy was riding the TAT using some updated GPS routes. There’s a surveyor that’s helping Sam (TAT creator) update the outdated parts of the route (especially the western parts). He’s testing the updated route out. He’s been riding off and on with the couple from England.

I headed south just outside of Oark on highway 103. It’s a fun road that drops down into the valley. Any road that says “Steep and crooked road for next 9 miles” has to be fun. I stopped at the top of the biggest drop in elevation on the route and took a picture. I took the same shot with my SV650 the first time I rode 103.

I rode by a lake road sign and turned back to explore the road. About 1/4 mile later, I was at a small lake and the road halfway around the lake. It was a nice day so I parked and relaxed for a bit. It was nice feeling the wind, hearing the birds and faintly in the distance was Steve Perry singing. Steve Perry? Someone really must have been a big Journey fan to have it cranked up enough for me to hear it upwind with them far enough into the trees to not be seen.

I saw a gravel road heading back into the forest and headed down. I passed some houses (one of these probably was playing the music) and the trees got heavier. A fawn deer that had mostly lost its spots saw me coming and scrambled farther into the trees. I followed this road a little longer past some fields, more trees and some houses (some lived in and some abandoned) until it dumped me right back on to the middle highway 103.

I didn’t want to backtrack across the highways I just rode down. I was thinking about how to get across at some other road when I realized that I was heading at a 10mph cautionary switchback at 40mph. I grabbed the brakes and brought the bike to a stop in the opposite lane part way through the turn. I decided a little backtracking wasn’t so bad and got settled down in the next couple miles. I figured I could head south at highway 23 to the interstate if I wasn’t feeling it.

The rest of highway 103 was feeling good and I turned west to go back down highway 215 west of Oark. Halfway down 215, there’s a fawn with spots running down road in front of me. I roll off the gas and watch it try the rock wall before scrambling under the guard rail toward the river. A little farther down the road, run into the mowing crew that was taking lunch when I came through a couple hours earlier. Get past the mowers and run into some gravel in the middle of the road. I dodge it until there’s some more across the while I’m leaned over in a turn. The front wheel skids, I hang off the bike more to stand the bike up a bit more and keep rolling without letting off the gas.

The intersection of highway 23: South to the interstate or north back into the mountains/forest after all these issues? NORTH, no doubts. I’ve shaken the rust off, am focused on the ride and loving it. Best riding of the day from here until highway 412 (which was fine for a straight road heading home).

It tried to sprinkle a bit in Fayetteville but didn’t actually get rained on. I saw some damp pavement and puddles beside the road on highway 16 and highway 412 in Oklahoma. My wife asked me how much it rained on me today and was shocked when I said I didn’t get rained on at all because it poured for a while at home.

F650GS (now with knobbies)

29, Jul, 2014

CA to OK on a F650GS

24, Oct, 2012

My last ride report was me giving my SV650 to a friend’s son to be his first bike. It’s gone on Wednesday and I have no idea when I’m going to get another bike. I’m making plans to take the family camping in the Jeep in the spring. I’ll find other fun while I figure out getting another motorcycle.

My brother-in-law contacts me the following Monday. He says he’s coming back to Broken Arrow to get his car that he left with his parents when he moved back to California this spring. They are living in an apartment and only have 2 parking spots. I think I know where this story is going. “You can have this bike if you come out and get it.”, he continues. Awesome!!!  I really was prepared for this process to take a while since I promised my wife I won’t get into the main account to make this happen.

I had spent the motorcycle fund getting the SV650 in shape (new chain, sprockets, oil change, brake fluid changed, etc.) and on the trip. I have a bike in CA but only $50 in my motorcycle fund. My wife says to go ahead and put the flight on the credit card now while the prices are reasonable and we’ll figure out the rest. My work switched to a September close and they were giving out bonuses now. Woohoo, I’m back in business with a couple weeks to go.

As the trip draws near, my wife asks, “Why aren’t you getting ready? You spent several evenings in the garage getting ready for a much shorter trip”.  I explained that my camping setup is already lined up and the rest of the time was working on the bike and tweaking my packing. I can’t do any of that until I get there so I’m just going to play it by ear.

Take the early Sunday morning flight to Burbank via Phoenix to get the cheaper price. I’m watching the roads flying toward Phoenix and wondered which of these roads I’d be on in the next couple days. I see I10 ribboning across as we get closer and know I’ll be on it tomorrow afternoon.

We land in Burbank and go to grab my luggage. My dry bag has a bunch of scuffs on it. It still looked new despite hauling my camping gear on my motorcycle for a couple years. What do with our luggage when they handle it?

My sister-in-law picked me up at the curb and said we are going to Porto’s Bakery for brunch. It was a very busy place, filled with so many great looking options. I decided on a Cuban sandwich and a guava and cheese rufugiado. It was delicious. A place with an orange juice machine that starts with a basket of oranges at the top can’t be all bad.

We get to Valencia and grab a Peet’s coffee  before heading over to their apartment. I check the bike out and grab the luggage off of it and take it back to the apt. My niece gets on Skype and talks to my son back in OK. I say hi and my daughter gets so excited to see me in California. I show her the toy leopard she sent with me and she smiles huge.

The side bags are the BMW Vario bags and I got online to verify how to expand the bags. I realized that you just undo the latches and slide it out to expand it. I spend the rest of the afternoon packing and repacking until I get everything loaded up the way I want for the trip. I couldn’t quite get everything in the hard luggage because of the extra stuff I brought for the flight. I throw the camping gear back in the dry bag and strap it down.

My brother-in-law makes it back into town and we go grab some Baja Fresh (I’m trying to avoid burgers/greasy until I get back to Meers,OK).  We take care of the paperwork and finish loading up. I’m riding the bike for the first time (I swapped bikes with my brother-in-law about a year ago on a ride so I’ve ridden it one other time) loaded down at night.

He says that he’ll lead me over to the hotel I’m staying at so we take off. The horn is above the turn signals (backwards to other bikes I’ve ridden) so I honked instead of signaling to turn a couple times. My hands are getting hot so I need to figure out if off is to the left or toward the throttle. My hands are getting really hot now, I guessed wrong. Off is toward the throttle.

The view of Six Flags Magic Mountain from the hotel across I5 freeway. I didn’t hear the traffic at all from my room.

Day 1: 700 miles

All packed up and ready to head out in the morning after a good breakfast. Let’s do this.

The plan is to stay off the freeways initially to get familiar with the bike then take I10 out to where I’m staying. The rest of the trip is going to be 2 lane roads to wander home.  I start down Soledad Canyon Road and stay parallel to Highway 14 for a while. It’s a fairly quiet drive when I get passed by a Concours 14. He gives a big wave and carves on down the road. I pull over to swap to my dark visor. It was dark and foggy when I started but the sun is coming out while I head toward it.

I turned down Pearblossom Highway and head toward I15. It was foggy and chilly when I dropped into the canyon. I turned the grips on low and enjoyed the scenery.

I stopped and bought some of the most expensive gas of the trip. There’s video running at the pumps talking about how cheap the gas is right before the elections. I like that they have a propane fill option here too. I get on the freeway for the rest of the day.

First full tank of the trip. I got 56mpg on this tank. This is going to be a great commuter bike. I go inside to pay and grab some more water. There’s a guy sitting in a chair looking like he wanted to ask something but I had gone in the far door. I came back out the near door to see if he really had something to say. “Having a good day?”, he asks. I replied that it’s a good day. “Do you have a smoke I could bum?”.  I replied “Sorry, I don’t smoke” and he went back to staring off into the distance.

I realized that I didn’t really need to take such southern route even in late October. I was wishing that I brought my perforated leather jacket instead of the solid textile jacket. I unzipped it to let some air through. Traffic was moving 85Mph+ for most of the day and my fuel economy dropped to mid-40’s (still loving it gets that good running that fast). I passed a V-Strom 1000 while going through the Phoenix metro. He sees me heading by loaded up and gives a big thumbs up and smile.

Last stop for the day. I’m running out of daylight but call my wife to talk for a bit anyway.

 

It’s almost dark by the time I get off I10 and I still have the dark visor on my helmet. I just flipped up the visor and ducked behind the windshield since it’s low speed from here. I contacted a couple guys on Advrider.com on the tent space thread. Xskydiver said I could stay in his toy hauler (camper with a cargo area for bikes, 4wheelers, etc.) if I didn’t want to setup the tent. He texted directions and said he’d be home in a few minutes. They offered me fish tacos and we talked and watched TV until I was ready to call it a night. Xskydiver and his family are very friendly people. Thanks for having me.

It was a clear night and I could see so many stars looking out the window by my head. I woke up around 2:00am and the furnace was running but blowing cold air. It was 45 degrees in the camper according to my camp thermometer. I messed with it for a couple minutes and turned it down until it turned off. I was planning on sleeping in a tent so this isn’t a big deal. Crawl under the covers and go back to sleep.

Day 2: 425 miles

It was chilly so I stayed under the covers for a bit and listened to the Hitchhiker’s Guide radio on the ipod for a bit. It quickly warmed up so I got on the road. Today is a fun day. Highway 191 has been on my list of roads to ride for a while now and today is finally the day.

All loaded up and ready to head out

The road is 4 lane with the fun in the distance. I past a snake on the shoulder. Was that a rattler? Doesn’t matter, he’s long gone.  I went a little farther and saw a road runner on a rock. He took off as soon as he saw me. I didn’t get a picture but here’s a file photo.

I ran into some traffic construction with a flagman. I turned off the bike, put the kickstand down and patiently wait. The people in front of me left the car running and kept trying to inch forward for the 20 minutes we waited. haha  Why do I always find the flagman, one lane bridge with signals, etc. on my overnight rides?  Every time.

A missed turn in Safford, AZ adds a half hour to the day. I get back on track and head east. I saw a cotton harvester next to a palm tree and solar panels on a house. I found it an interesting combination and climbed into the canyons.

I stopped to snack on beef jerky, trailmix and gatorade in Clifton, AZ in the bottom of the canyon. I took a few pictures and hop back on the bike. I hit the starter and it goes “RrrrrrrRRRRRRrrrrrRRRRRrrrrRRRRrrrrrr”. I try to start the bike a couple more times and it doesn’t even try to fire up. I’m about as far away from help from family as I can be on this trip and wondering where I can find a uhaul to bail out of this trip.

I flip up my visor and reach to put the kickstand down to discover that it’s already down. I flip it up and “Vrrrroooommm”. Why did you let it crank at all, BMW?!!? Any other bike I’ve had won’t even crank if the kickstand switch is active. I breath a sigh of relief and get ready to climb out of this canyon.

A look back after a couple climbs and a tunnel (3rd tunnel this trip). There’s a bunch of 10Mph cautionary hairpins and I killed the bike on the turn right before this spot. Is there a tipover switch on this bike? It was a weird angle and it had plenty of gas. I’ll have to check it out later.

Highway 191 is full of stretches like this. It doesn’t disappoint if you like curves.

A look at another climb

It’s already later in the day and I’ve only made it halfway through this 100 mile of extremely twisty road.

The roads are starting to open up some but still lots of fun. I passed some burned sections of forest and some fun winding through. It’s a bit chilly and foggy. Turn the grips back on to take off the chill.

Turn east to New Mexico. The road has sweepers through a canyon along a river. Very nice view to go with the nice roads. The road turn straight and long with plenty of time to look around.

I thought this retro-fitted windmill was cool. Nice blend of old and new.

I drove by some large radio antennas on the way to my destination for the evening, Sorroco, NM. SirWrecksAlot on Advrider.com had offered a room to stay so I texted him. He was over at his shop so I met him over there. It was a real man cave. Alcohol, smoking, guns and guys sitting around talking about riding hard to control bikes with very little suspension back in the day. It was fun sitting around and listening to the stories of the evolution of bikes and enduro rides from 30 years ago. The party broke up and SirWrecksAlot took me to one of his favorite spots and bought me a philly. Thanks a lot for supper and the place to stay.

Day 3: 525 miles

A gorgeous sunrise briefly before it hides behind the clouds for most of the morning. I got on highway 390 and headed east through Billy the Kid’s stomping ground. I stopped to add a layer and turned the grips on high before climbing into a warmer area.

Roswell, NM didn’t seem to have too much alien decoration until you get to main street then it’s everywhere. I saw a bunch of the carved wooden alien statues at businesses everywhere. This place had creepy music playing outside from the speaker in the window.

I stopped for gas and hung my helmet from the passenger peg. I got back around the bike and the helmet was hanging low enough to touch the ground and roll off. There’s a big scratch right in the middle of my dark visor. Grrr

I knew the Red Bull Stratos landing was east here somewhere. I passed some bluffs that looked like the ones from the video and in the right place. I looked it up and it was just south of there. Stopped for a break a little while later near where the capsule landed.

I ride into west Texas and notice a lot of cotton fields. Several people have windmills but none of the ones I saw actually had a pump connected (just decorative).  The wind is blowing from the south and but I’m not getting blown around much.

I see a “circus today” sign in Brownfield, TX and circle around the block for a picture. A minivan drives by slow and does a u-turn to pull up beside me. “Excuse me but do you know when circus will be”, says the little old lady. I guess I look like I belong with the circus. I politely said that I was passing through and didn’t know but it looks like they are mostly setup.

I pulled up to fill up in Lubbock, TX next to a retired guy in a motorhome. I finish fueling up and he’s still going. “That still filling up?”, I asked. He chuckles and we start talking. He asks where I’m going and coming from. I tell him I started in CA day before yesterday and going to be in Tulsa tomorrow. We talk a little more and wish each other a safe journey.

A couple more hours of Texas then cross the Red River into Oklahoma. I pull into Altus, OK and find a motel on the south east side of town. I’m unloading my gear while a tall skinny guy with a handlebar mustache and a pony tail watched me intently. He finally walks over and asks, “Do you actually take it offroad or is it an expensive dirtbike?”. I explained that I just got it but have found some gravel roads already. He told me about a month long trip to Florida he took on a Harley a few years ago and about some other bikes.

I went down the street to Pizza Hut and got a salad and a sandwich, came back to the motel, took a shower and crawled into bed.

Day 4: 350 miles

The wind was howling when I woke up. It was a strong cold wind blowing from the north. Good thing it’s a short day because I’m going to get blown around a lot today.

I head into the Wichita Mountain Reserve. I thought it was 3 or 4 mountains but soon discovered it’s much larger. There’s signs warning you to steer clear of the free range Longhorns and Bisons.  I wandered around some of the side roads. I came around the corner and saw 3 mature Bison galloping right beside me in the ditch. I just kept a steady throttle and went down the road. I turned around got my camera out and went back to get a picture but they wandered back into the trees.

I found a dozen bison a little way down the road but they were much farther away.

The Meers Burger is supposed to be the best burger in the region. I was definitely aiming to come through here during a mealtime.

 

If it was’t the best burger I’ve had, it’s definitely in the top 5. A great burger and worth a drive if you’re anywhere near.

The trip from Meers to OKC was wandering 2 lane roads until I got on I44 into OKC. I went over and caught I35 and took it to Route 66.  I stopped at Pops Restaurant to pick up some drinks to take home. They have over 600 different drinks from all over the world. I grabbed 4 random drinks and headed down Highway 66 to Tulsa.

Here’s the drinks when I got home

I ended up riding right at 2000 miles from California to Broken Arrow, OK.  The Wunderlich tall seat is very comfortable. I felt like I could have gone much farther on it when I went 700 miles.

A crazy man gives a kid his first motorcycle

28, Sep, 2012

(As told from the crazy man’s perspective)

The story actually begins at this spot in 1986 but it doesn’t become apparent until a little over a month ago.

This is the spot when I was 13 years old, a friend of the family put me on their son’s 2-stroke Yamaha 125 and told me to try it out. I had driven 3-wheelers and a 4-wheeler a couple times in the past but this was a whole new ballgame. It took me 4 or 5 tries to give enough gas and let out the clutch slow enough to not stall it. I finally got it rolling, shifted up a couple gears and wound it up until I got into the powerband. I WAS HOOKED! The 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers were suddenly forgotten as a way to have fun. THIS is how to have fun.

This friend of the family took it upon themselves to go out find a similar bike for me. A few days later an ‘81 Yamaha IT175 shows up out at our farm. My father said “This is too expensive of a gift, you have to take it back” but after seeing how much I really wanted it, finally gave in. I wore the usual “full gear”: open face helmet with goggles, denim jacket, baseball gloves, jeans and hi-tops even if it was 100 degrees out. That 2-stroke bike would fly 80mph+ with a scrawny 13 year old on it all over the back roads I could find within a tank of gas. Everything was great for a while. I rode through rain, snow, etc. and loved every minute of it.

One day I was doing a top speed run and came over a hill to find a curve that I knew I couldn’t stop for. I grabbed the brakes, pulled hard as I could and finally was thrown over the handle bars. I slid to a stop on my back in a barbed wire fence. All of a sudden the bike flopped on to my leg and the rear wheel was a couple inches from my face (open face helmet, remember?) and still spinning fast in 6th gear. I was able to work out of the barb wire fence without getting cut up and got a few more inches away from that spinning knobby that wanted to grab my face. All of a sudden there was a pain in my leg. I looked down and realized that my leg was still pinned under the bike and the exhaust was burning me. I yanked my leg out, stumbled over to hit the kill switch and realized that the burn was the only real injury I got out of this wreck.

I limped the bike home and blamed the bike for the wreck. I made up something about the brakes locking up and throwing me without saying anything about how I had just topped 85mph moments before on gravel in the hills. The mount between the tach and speedometer broke and my dad wired them back together. I rode it around like that but much slower. The friend of the family heard about the “accident” and said “We’re getting rid of that dangerous bike and getting something safer”. We went down the local Yamaha dealer and looked around. I really wanted an XT350 but they only had an XT600 on the floor. I sat on it and could get the balls of my feet on the floor but we all knew that it wasn’t going to happen. Then we saw a brand new ‘88 TW200 and knew that it would be great. They haggled on the trade in and final price but the dealer was overmatched and it went out the door far below MSRP. We took it home and my dad just said “I give up. You need to pay them back for this”. (I eventually paid half of it and got the title in my name)

I drove the TW200 everywhere that I took the IT175 but it didn’t go nearly as fast. It might not have been fast but it was stable and just wouldn’t quit. I tagged and titled it after a while of riding back roads and still had it when I got married. I’d probably still have it today if someone hadn’t taken it from our apartment complex (no insurance, planned on getting it going in the spring). I saw it a year later at a pawn shop. It was stripped down and repainted but still had the JB weld on the engine case from a nick in one of my many adventures (plus I checked the VIN).  I ran to tell my wife but we had a Valentine’s banquet to go to so it had to wait until morning. I ran down the police station to file the report but they told me it was already sold by the time they got there. “You have to go through the DA to sue the new owners to get it back” the officer told me. I just let it go at that point, wasn’t worth the fight to get a messed up bike back. My wife promised me that we would get another bike. “You had a bike when I married you and I know you’ll have one again”.

Fast forward to 2007.

I want a bike again, bad! I find a great deal on a used ‘06 SV650 in the off season (January). My wife agrees that I’ve been patient (10 years and change) and we get it. A few weeks later the dealship jacks the price up to the spring pricing on the identical other bike they had and I see how good the deal was. The next 4 years is slowly building it into the bike I want it to be. Upgrade shock and springs, top case, tank bag, wind screen, etc. I ride it to Arkansas, Missouri and haul it out to California on family vacation to ride Mullholland, Malibu, etc with my brother in law. February 2011,  somebody takes off with it in the middle of the day, out in the open, next to a busy street while I’m doing some computer work. The insurance is getting ready to pay it out a couple weeks later when I get the call that the police have my bike. The meth producer they caught had a warrant out for his arrest (should have been wearing a helmet and they wouldn’t have know it was him) and they had a 100mph+ chase before ending with a low side in gravel next to a theater.

After running the numbers I realize that I’m starting over from scratch with the money the insurance is offering. I go with the better option to buy the bike back with a clean title and take what’s left to put it back together. I had a trip planned with my brother in law but he didn’t want to ride halfway across the country with his back acting up (I don’t blame him). I took the trip money, insurance money and computer job money and used them to fix the bike up the way I want. I replaced the horrible stock seat with a Sargent, replaced the missing luggage, knock off adjustable shorty levers, usb power for GPS, etc. I also added some SW Motech side racks and bolted some Seahorse SE720 (similar size to Pelican 1520) cases to them.

Fixed up looks like this

I’m riding it again and loving it more than ever. There’s no worries about dings or drops. It’s already been through it all and still going strong. Sure there’s a few scratches and a couple dings but it still gets compliments. I go to bike nights and everyone wants to sit on it, ask about everything I’ve done to it and listen to the war stories.

More than enough back story. On with the idea and the ride.

My friend Mark posted a picture of his son holding a completed MSF motorcycle safety course certificate and how he’s a licensed motorcyclist. I thought it was really cool to see a new rider that was excited and was happy for him. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, why don’t I help him out like I was helped out over 25 years ago? I thought it was kind of a crazy idea but couldn’t shake it. I knew it needed a bit of maintenance (oil change, new chain/sprockets, etc.) to be ready to go and I was going to do that anyway in a couple weeks when a check comes in. I spent the next two weeks looking at logistics of this to see if I could pull it off and the idea wouldn’t die. I looked at routes and decided to go past a bunch of places I grew up.

I still had a big issue to figure out to make this work. How am I going to do a one-way trip 500 miles away from home? Then I realized that my mother and mother-in-law are coming down to visit for a conference at the end of September. Everything was figured out, now to actually tell my wife and start this. I talk to her and she wants to make sure this isn’t a deal to get a new bike. After she’s reasonably convinced that it’s not, I call Mark up. He’s a talker so there aren’t many times I’ve seen him speechless but the phone went dead for a bit after I told him I was serious about giving this motorcycle to his son. I get a text from Mark a few minutes later after he told his son, “he’s freakin”.

We go back and forth via Facebook to get details worked out. “I want to change the exhaust, front springs, rear shock, seat, etc.”  I informed him that I’ve already done everything except the exhaust (which I opened up a bit for a little more sound).  I put together a list of all the mods I’ve done to the bike and realized it was much longer than I thought it was going to be. I sent him the list and the advice to just put some miles on it before deciding to do anything. After a while it will become clear what he needs to change to make it suit him better.

I get the bike ready to go. Change the oil, change the brake fluid and change the chain/sprockets. The brake fluid is still factory and looked like dark maple syrup coming out. My wife was talking to me in the garage while I did it. She commented on it without being told what it’s supposed to look like (you know it was bad).  I had the bike loaded up and ready to go for a couple days before. I had some soft bags I was going to give to Mark so they could take a trip together. I threw those in an army duffle and strapped it to the rear seat. I’m ready to go except for plugging the GPS into the USB power plug. What do mean the center piece broke out of the USB plug?  Great, no power for GPS or charging my iPhone. I packed the iPhone and threw the SIM card into my old phone which goes days on a charge. I don’t really need more than phone and text for the next day or so and I’ll have charger access after that.

I take off at 6:50AM, fuel up and head to the expressway. I do this regularly on the bike but it’s earlier than normal and loaded down. A bit of caution getting through downtown Tulsa and now we’re really on the trip. The GPS is off because the battery doesn’t last long without the USB power. I had the first couple turns in the GPS and then planned on using it to check that I wasn’t on any dead end roads or going the wrong way. About here is where I realized that I didn’t double check the turnoff so let’s just turn here and see where we end up.  I ended up on the dead end at Zink Ranch with gravel going west.

I turned the GPS on and saw it went up to hwy 20 so that’s good enough. Turn off the GPS, head down gravel pushing 40mph, cross a cattle guard, see some “evidence” of cattle on the road and finally get to a blacktop road.  This road seems nice until I cross another cattle guard and the pavement runs out. A few more miles of gravel then turn onto the highway heading west.

It’s a beautiful morning with the sun coming up behind me. It’s a cool/cloudy day and there’s very little traffic. These roads are 65mph speed limits and I’m doing at least that. I come around the corner and there’s several quail just walking across the highway. I wait for them to move and they wait until the last second to fly. I instinctively duck but the closest one is 20 feet away. I laugh at being stupid and relax back into the groove. I stop and take pictures of a couple murals the next couple towns just to test out the camera in the tank bag and taking shots with my gloves on. I just flip up my visor and take some shots with the gloves on. This will work and I took a lot of shots sitting on the bike and back on the road in a flash.

It was pretty uneventful other than waiting to fuel up on the other side of town and then finding the station closed. I kept going and found the next town was unincorporated. They have a motorcycle shop but no gas station. I may find out exactly how far I can get out of this tank. I see a water tower off to the west and wonder how far over it really was and is there actually a town over there?  I decide to stay on this road and hope there’s another town (and that it has an open gas station).  At 188 miles on the trip meter, I found the gas station.

I get to Wichita, KS and am annoyed that I didn’t head west sooner or stayed farther east to avoid it. I’m in stop and go traffic a little before lunch time and it was annoying after all the smooth running earlier. I finally work my way over to the road to Hutchison and am making time again.

Just south of Hutchison, KS, I’m coming up on a slow moving horse trailer. I get closer and realize that it’s being pulled by a tractor. The driver is wearing a long sleeve shirt, overalls, wide brimmed hat and has a large beard without a mustache. I think I knew that Hutchison has a Mennonite population but forgot. I get into town and see a pizza buffet and decide it would be a quick place to get a bite. The tractor pulling the trailer catches up to me as I take my gear off and he gives me a big wave. I grab a couple slices of pizza and make sure not to over eat while on the road (I should be on the road a LOT more).

I pull back on to the road and meet another Mennonite and he’s pulling 2 trailers behind his tractor. He didn’t wave but just stared as I went by. I wander through town on every west or north major-ish looking road and finally find a street that looks like a highway (yeah, now I know I could have turned on 4th ave to get right back to the highway). I turn on 56th street even though it’s not marked as a highway but I see an over the road semi coming from out of town. I figure it must connect to some sort of highway before too long because those guys don’t venture too far from the major roads without a good reason.

It connects back to the highway and am rolling again. I come up to Nickerson, KS and see herds of zebras, ostriches and camels. Turns out that it’s

Hedrick’s Bed & Breakfast Inn and Exotic Animal Farm
. Who knew?

I see a lot of dark clouds in the north and decide that I need to make a bit of time in case I run into some serious rain. I head straight north for I70. I spend an hour heading west to Hays, KS. There wasn’t a lot of traffic so I didn’t get a huge amount of buffeting but this bike is really setup to be a lot more fun on secondary roads. I turned onto hwy183. I spent most of my early life living within a few miles of this road so it felt like I was getting close.

I notice some reflections on the edge of my visor that I thought was sun reflecting on bug splatters. There’s sun to the west but it’s dark overhead and to the north. It’s only a couple drops. I come around a curve and see one lane road for road construction. I turn off the bike, put the kickstand down, get off, stretch and take some pictures. Finally the pilot car comes over the hill and we can get through the couple miles of construction. We get to the other side and I see dry spots under the cars and wet pavement all around. It starts sprinkling and I think about pulling over to put on rain gear about the time it lets up. A minute later it’s even heavier and I’m starting to get wet. It lets up just as I’m looking for a spot to pull over. One more time but light this time and then the clouds lighten up as I see Philipsburg, KS in the distance.

I pull into a gas station on the corner as I get into town. I pull out the credit card and notice that there’s no reader. Fine, I can take a couple more minutes here. I fuel up and go inside to pay. The middle aged Asian lady asked me if I got rained on. I told her that it was lightly raining a few miles to the south and she told me how she rides with her husband on his motorcycle. Then she asked where I was heading. I told her that I was heading for Alma, NE for the evening. She asked, “You stay at Super 8?”.  ”No, I’m staying out at the lake. I have my tent with me”.  Her, “Oh, too cold for camping with motorcycle”. I thanked her and she told me to have a good ride.

I had option of turning north here or head into the dark clouds ahead. I really wanted to see the next leg so I pressed on and ran into some more brief light rain. I decided to stop to take a picture of this house I’ve been by a bunch of times growing up. I pulled into the drive of the field and took some shots. I almost drop the bike trying to get it out of the field. Hop back on the highway and find some fun sweepers through the hills coming into Almena, KS.

We finally get back to the road that started it all. I gave the throttle a good twist and threw some gravel on it for old time’s sake before the sprinkles got too much heavier.

Long Island, KS. I went to JR High here. Our track coach made us run over 3 miles every day and lift weights twice a week before we did anything else. I talked to some kids in other HighSchools and they didn’t do that much. No wonder Northern Valley went to State year after year.

I stop for the evening at Harlan County Lake just outside of Alma, NE (where I was born). I found a spot under some trees since I wasn’t 100% sure if it was going to get nasty or not later.  I’m setting up my tent and see another motorcycle pulling in and looking for a spot. He waves and drives on through before coming back around to pick a spot across from me near the water. I finish setting up and walk over to say hi. He tells me that his name is Clee and he’s riding his BMW K1200GT to see as much of the country as he can. I didn’t get exact figures but he’s been on the road for weeks and isn’t done yet. He started in Fort Collins this morning and will be eating BBQ in Kansas City tomorrow. We talk for a while then I decided it was time to head into town to find some food. I went to a cafe that my grandmother always loved to go to. It has a different name and the food was fine. It was sprinkling again but quit by the time I finished eating my pizza burger and hash browns.

I didn’t fall asleep very early so I didn’t get up at 7:00 when I woke up. It was cloudy and quiet so I fell back asleep until I got up at 8:30. I’ll have to cut a couple things off my loop since I’m starting later than I planned originally. Clee is packed up and pulling around the campground when I get out of the tent. He gives a big wave and I wave back. He should be able to make KC for a late lunch and then on whatever is next after that. I start the stove for some coffee and start tearing down camp. I went over to do the self pay for the campsite while the french press is steeping. Mmmmm french press coffee was good. I finished packing, cleaning, taking pictures and then lube the chain.

Orleans, NE. We took swimming lessons here growing up. I used to live at the pool during the summer. Ride 10 miles on my bicycle, swim, play basketball during breaks, stop at my cousin’s house on the way home, play more basketball and finish riding home. No wonder I used to be in great shape. Need to get a little of that back.

This old stone house was on my great grandparent’s land. I spent nearly every day riding here with my cousin in the pasture behind it. We’d see something that looked like it was too much to tackle. The sun would set and we’d almost always be right back there trying it in the dark/semi-dark by headlight.

What kind of animal leaves these tracks in the soft sand? I had to pull up a ways to find a place that the kickstand didn’t immediately sink in.

The booming town of Stamford, NE (pop 200-ish). No matter where we moved around growing up, we always called this home and tried to find a way to get back closer.

I don’t remember seeing this before even though it’s right on the end of the main street. I’m sure I have but don’t recall noticing until now. Crazy

My grandfather bought this garage and Ernie (the mechanic that ran it) lived in the apartment upstairs rent free as long as he did all of my grandfather’s maintenance.   I think Ernie got the short end of this because grandpa didn’t touch anything. “Take it down to Ernie’s, he’ll take care of it”. I’m glad someone bought it and fixed it up. I always thought it had potential to be one of those cool garages you see at garagejournal.com or someplace like that.

I went on down the road to Beaver City to visit my aunt. It’s been several years since I’ve been up that direction so I stay and talk with her for a couple hours. Then I head outside of town to stop by my father’s grave. He passed away a couple months before I turned 20. I realized that our relationship had changed after I got a job and moved out. I miss him more these days now that I have my own kids. I finally understand a lot of what he said and did now that I’ve been there. I wish my kids could have known him more than a handful of stories told about him (I need to tell them more of the stories). I wondered what he would have thought and said about this trip I’m on. It was good to come out and get some perspective.

I ate my first bacon cheeseburger at this place when I was 18 (yeah, I know). It was green and called the Derby Cafe then. I’m across the street at the last fuel stop for this trip. I make a call to my mother to let her know when I’d be in town so she can meet me and send some texts to let them know what the schedule is since I’m heading direct on the last leg of the trip.

More two lane roads with combines and trucks out in the fields. The crazy weather has people cutting corn for silage, picking corn, picking soybeans, drilling winter wheat and it looks like the milo still isn’t ready yet (I know I lost the non-farmers but just know it’s crazy). I did a stretch on I80 (where 80 isn’t just the name, it’s the minimum speed) where I had enough wind blast and truck turbulence to tide me over for a while. I pulled off the interstate and checked my phone for texts before turning onto the highway. A minivan with an SLR camera, telephoto lens and lens hood suction cupped to the hood passed by me. Makes me wonder what other people are out on trips today too.

I pull into my friend’s work. He comes out and tells me that his son was at work but is on his way. We go inside and fill out the paperwork to get the title and bill of sale out of the way. His son shows up and we start going over all the details on the bike (upgrades, issues, stories, etc.). I start pulling out all the camping gear and motorcycle gear and setting it on the sidewalk. They couldn’t believe how much stuff was actually on the bike. I just wanted my camping gear and motorcycle off the bike and the rest is going to him (luggage, GPS, camera ‘not the SLR’, air pump, etc.).

I called my mother to see how far out she was since we were mostly wrapped up. “Uh, just left town” (it’s 1.5 hours away). This is pretty typical for my mother (my brother and sister can vouch for this) and I wasn’t too surprised. We used to tell her something was a half hour earlier than it really was and we’d be 5 minutes early or sometimes right on time.

He’s standing around listening to his father and I talk. I look over at him and say “Why don’t you take your bike out for a spin?”. I found out that he works at a motorcycle shop in town and he was the only employee without a bike. They told him that he could take a bike home for lunch if he’d get his license. That’s what started the MSF course and license in the first place. It was 5 minutes to closing and he wanted to go show it off. He was off like a shot. The bike was leaned over and he had good form taking off around the corner. He’ll be fine.

I took my mother out to a local steak house and we drove back to her house. The next morning was a stop at McDonald’s for breakfast and interstates/turnpikes for a few hours. Not much to say or see about this part of the trip.

Here’s the empty spot. Much better empty spot than when it was stolen 19 months ago. My son’s bicycle is currently parked here.

Here’s the route (minus a bit of running around). Click to open in Google Maps.

His father posted this on Instagram today. Glad to see the smile is still stuck on there. He took out for a couple spins before I left town and the smile kept getting bigger.

List of mods on my SV

16, Sep, 2012

I figured it’s finally time to look at the collection of mods that I’ve done to this bike as I get ready to send it to its new owner in a few days.

I bought this bike used in the end of January of 2007. It’s an ‘06 model that had been purchased the August before and traded in with 4506 miles (It will have 29k miles when the new owner gets it). There was another SV650 with the same age and mileage. 6 weeks later they bumped it up to the spring pricing of $800 more than I bought mine for. Pays to shop early. It came with a fender eliminator, license plate bracket in front of the rear wheel, LED front turn signals and some clear surface mount rear signals. I didn’t like the plate where it might get me hassled so I moved the plate to the back of the bike again. I swapped bikes with my brother-in-law and noticed those rear turn signals were close to worthless. That’s where the changes started.

Here the mods on it currently:

  • $10 license plate bracket off eBay with turn signal mounts
  • Shorty arrow turn signals with orange lens (carbon look). Clear looks cool but doesn’t shine out very well.
  • Napoleon bar end mirrors. Huge improvement over looking at your shoulders with the stock mirrors.
  • Changed the right mirror mount out for the S model mirrorless mount.
  • Ram mount in left mirror socket and Ram mount on the right side. Lowrance XOG GPS on the left and camera mount on the right.
  • ‘06 ZX10R rear shock at 22k miles. 1/2” higher in the rear and lots of adjustments. Why did I wait so long to get rid of the pogo stick in the rear?
  • .85 Sonic Springs and 20w fork oil. Really firmed up the front and got rid of most of the fork dive.
  • R6 throttle tube. Same size as stock but larger cam so it takes 1/5 turn instead of 1/4
  • Exhaust. I modified the exhaust by drilling eight 1/8” holes around the baffles. It makes a little bit more noise but still can be stealthy. It also dropped 3mpg. Probably make me think twice about doing it again.
  • Trackside heated grips. Replaces grips with larger diameter grips with heater built-in. The adjustable controller is mount on the left side of the bars.
  • Bikemaster Superbike bend handlebars. Lower than stock and more comfortable wrist angle. Black looks good too. I cut 1” of each side to keep it around the stock width.
  • eBay adjustable shorty levers. Black with red adjusters. The black faded to silver in a few weeks but they work well. Quality is hit and miss on eBay with Hong Kong items. I won’t go into the Rizoma knockoff mirrors that broke instantly.
  • USB socket. Great for GPS or charging a phone. Direct connect (fused) to the battery with SAE connectors. Unplug it and connect the battery tender or grab the Slime air pump under the passenger seat. Very useful setup.
  • Sargent seat. Massive improvement over the stock seat. Matching cover for the rear seat.
  • Quick release seat mount. It extends the mounts so you can flex the seat to take it off. Got this from svrider.com.
  • Quick open gas cap. Replaced the damaged one and now have a replacement stock cap too.
  • Go Cruise throttle lock.
  • Spring loaded shifter. The stock shifter was ruined in the crash. This should hold up better.
  • T-Rex frame sliders and spools
  • SW-Motech rear rack with Givi Monokey plate.
  • Givi v46 top case
  • SW-Motech side racks with locks
  • Seahorse SE720 cases with keyed locks bolted directly to the side racks. Flat straps for retention and 1/16” steel cables for the lid stays.
  • Rapid Transit Recon 19 liter tank bag with hydration pouch. Awesome tank bag.
  • National Cycle F16 touring screen (light tint). I cut it down to the sport height after the bike was stolen and recovered because it buffeted my new helmet(Shoei RF1000) than my old helmet (Caberg Solo 104).
  • Alarm. I got this from a friend (not sure the model/brand). It was on the bike when it was stolen but not armed. It just flashes the lights and sounds the siren but that probably would have been enough. I always set it now if I’m going to be out of sight of the bike.
  • Quick release for the side panels. The bolts were lost when the bike was stolen so I bought this off of svrider.com instead of buying new panels (the only way to find the special bolts).

I didn’t realize quite how long this list was going to be when I started it. I shouldn’t be surprised because I spent a lot of time piecing this together and still have more plans for the future ( tank grip pads, TL1000s shift arm for shorter throw, etc). He’s going to have to start his own list of where he wants to go from here(I gave him a couple good suggestions).