Sunday, July 10, 2011

Motorcycle Stuff

1981 R100 in Oakes, ND
1968 R60 at Newport, VA
I have been enjoying the riding so much and have not been sharing the bike part of the trip enough, so for all my rider freinds  here are some thoughts about two wheels and one great view of the road.

I have to start by comparing my experience with what it would have been like on the bike I planned so long to ride, the 1968 R60/2.  For day 1-3, the ride to St Paul, Minnesota, the slash 2 would have been not so good.  They were long days at high speed: the technical description is "NFR" for Not Fun Riding, except for West Virginia which is always fun.

The rest of the days would have been really nice on the old bike.  Yellowstone is a perfect setting for the properties of that bike, moderate speeds with sweeping curves.  My right hand would have been tired from the heavier brake application pressure, but I would be OK.  Beartooth highway would have been a tiny bit slower, but also a good ride.  Gas stops would have been more frequent, meaning I'd have spent a lot of time talking to folks at gas stations about riding an old bike.  The R100 looks modern enough that it does not attract many questions or comments.

But those of you that know me realize that these casual encounters of the bike kind are one of the reasons I take these long rides, and with the addition of my Not Alone connection, it would have given me a way to let more people know about the way they can become a part of the solution.  I also lost the chance to get coverage in a high quality paper magazine because the R100 is just another motorcycle - making the trip on the R60 would be interesting to the readers.

The 1981 R100 that I am riding just went over 164,000 miles and will have close to 170K on it in Maryland on July 30th at our warp party.  The last day's ride is scheduled to start in Winchester Virginia and conclude at Ocean City, Maryland followed by a short ride back to Easton, Maryland for what I am calling a wrap party at the VFW hall.  I invite any and all of you to ride the day, or meet me in Ocean City or Easton.  More details are coming, keep an eye on the blog.

The R100 has enough power to be effortless at speed and climbing mountains and has good enough brakes.  Keep in mind that I never have had a bike with great brakes, but compared to the R60, this thing can really stop in short distance, like when the deer and fawn got in front of me yesterday or I thought the coyote was going to cross the road and instead just trotted along the edge of the pavement with me for a while.

It is also longer, making packing it easier.  Weight in the back beyond the rear axle alters the weight distribution in a bad way, so having everything over the axle on the bigger bike is nice.  Riding in dirt is easier on the R60, and I spend a lot of time entering and exiting dirt and gravel turn-outs on the Beartooth highway and in Yellowstone.  There were also many washed out roads along the way patched with loose rock and soil - some were challanging.

I hope to hear some comments from you riders out there.  Ask any questions that come to mind. If you have not traveled this part of the country Montana comes highly recommended.  Great people and wide open spaces.  Yellowstone was also much better than my expectations.  North Dakota not so much.  Let me tell you the Detour Story.  In chapter 6 Pirsig mentions a Detour sign, near the reservoir we both slept at, Shadehill near Lemmon, South Dakota.  This is just below the ND border, appraoching Mobridge (get it: MO Bridge as in bridge over the Missouri River).  Anyway the road is closed for construction or washout or whatever and the sign says take a left.  I expect detours to take me 6-8 miles at most off the planned route.  This detour was 21 miles out, 24 miles south again and 20 something miles back into town.  I almost ran out of gas out there.

Lesson Learned: North Dakota detours may be large - gas up!

I have been getting 45-50 mpg.  My worst mileage was on the really hot days running at 70mph with my jacket vents open creating more drag when I saw it drop to 40mpg.

I did have the fortune to meet a group of CMA members in of all places a McDonalds in eastern Montana and they reminded me of Bob Clement in Roberts, Montana.  They knew his phone number be heart!  And they were riding Harley-Davidsons.  That peaked my interest as I poked the number into my phone. Bob is a well known BMW mechanic and I knew him from small ads in BMW magazines and the great comments he gets on-line for tranny repairs.  I called him because my front tire was wearing a lot faster than I had expected.  I called him from the parking lot and asked if he had a tire, and arranged to stop there the next day.  Meeting him and working alongside him was a high point of the trip.  I got a new tire, a new friend and someone to send a tranny in need of healing and got to witness a business that is serving the customers and his community.  Bob comes highly recommended by the old bike rider.

I ordered a new rear tire to be sent to Portland where I will be spending  couple of days and will get it mounted there as well as change the oil.  One the R60 I'd be changing oil every 1000 miles - 7 oil changes in total done on my hands and knees in parking lots, not much fun.  On the R100 I will do only one in the field. That is a big difference.

So in the end the pluses for the R100 are brakes and power and brakes and gas tank capacity (about 250 miles compared to 125 miles).  But I have been trying to ride the 1968 ride on this portion of the trip which means keeping my speed down to what they might have ridden in 1968 on a Honda 305 two up.  I aim at 3000 to 4000 rpm in 5th gear which is 59 - 65mph.  This works well.  In Yellowstone I never even got to these speeds: 25 - 45mph and less was the rule.  But I didn't want to go any faster, I was there to see everything, not just ride through to say I'd been there.  So at these speeds the brakes on the R60 would have been just fine.

Once I get out in the US-50 portion I am sure I will stretch the legs on this bike as that dessert ride will be a hot one for sure.  Some of US-50 is now interstate so keeping up with the cars will be important.

Lastly, my body is holding up well.  The butt is fine and the knees are fine and the right wrist is only slightly sore.  I forgot my gin-soaked raisins, but I got a box of raisins and eat them as snacks when I stop each day.  I don't know if they do anything without that gin, but they can't hurt.

OK, got to get loaded up and on the road again.  Today I will make Lolo pass where the original riders camped alongside the road.  I don't think I'll be doing that, but it looks like National Forests and there should be some good campgrounds.

Thanks for riding along!  Sorry you have to go back to work tomorrow...


Indelible John said...

Love reading your updates each day. How do you think the Ascot would fair on a ride like this?

jack said...

I finally got time to read all of your posts from the trip tonight. Thanks for keeping us all informed about what the adventure is like, and a visit to Yellowstone sometime sounds awesome :)

Mom A said...

Hey, your looking a little scruffy...