Sunday, 17 April 2016

Leaning a little to the Left

My bike is now 12 years old. After a while things start to not work, break or or just need replacing. Most of the last 4 years has been simple maintenance and upgrades. Unfortunately the last six months has seen a few items in need of replacing. The brakes needed flushing which is a hugely complicated affair involving removing the 30L gas tank and flushing multiple circuits since the bike has servo(power) brakes. I sensibly jobbed it out to the dealer and they discovered the rear caliper bleeding screwed was fused to the caliper. BMW's answer to this $10 part is to buy a new $500USD caliper as they don't sell the bleed screw separately!! Fortunately I found an after market bleed screw for $20!! Next came my left indicator switch which started to fail. Once again a $20 microswitch which BMW would prefer you replace the $300USD switch assembly. An EBay search found a used switch in Sweden for $12o shipped. I had a new rear tire put on in the Fall. Ever since then the bike leans quite a bit to the left when on the side stand even with my hockey puck epoxied to the bottom. Recently it has become even more pronounced in that with a full tank of gas it is had to get off the sidestand. After showing the bike to my service manager he pronounced my sidestand bent! It did in fact look buckled and was rusting at the pinched point. Once again in BMW Land nothing is inexpensive, so $300 later I have a new sidestand and all new bushings and bolts to mount it. So how much of a difference is there you ask: I have now had to remove the puck from the sidestand as with it the bike was too upright!! So if you are at the point you need to add a puck to your sidestand you might want to consider the fact it might just be bent!!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Full Circle.

Well as some of you know things didn't work out as planned.  Conversations with Vancouver started after my house went up for sale in January.  When I was in Vancouver in March for my parents 50th wedding anniversary I went in to our Vancouver office to make sure all was still ok.  The IT department was also informed when I set out May 1st.  My journey out to the West Coast was faster than expected, so I arrived a week early.  Even so I was a bit surprised when going into the office and discovering nothing had been done to set up for my arrival.  In fact they weren't even sure there was actually enough room for me.

I am a commission employee, so when I am on vacation I don't have any income.  So 3 weeks on the road, and 2 weeks in Vancouver waiting around for my IT department to do the monumental task of putting 2 computers on a desk was my limit.  Knowing I still had my computers on my desk in Toronto, I made a heart wrenching decision to ride back to Toronto.  So after a very painful departure from my parents I headed out first thing Thursday morning, and rode 4500 kms in four days!!!  I arrived in Toronto Sunday evening, and was back at my desk Monday morning. 

My route was the fastest, most direct, line possible across the top of the USA.  So the silver lining was I rode through a bunch of States I didn't think I would, and got to fill them in on my map:

So the ride out there, 11,000 kms in 3 weeks was fantastic.  The ride back, 4500 kms in 4 days was absolutely brutal!!!!  Not something I want to repeat ever again!!!  I think my days were: 1000kms, 1250 kms, 1250kms and 1000kms.  Most days were 11 or 12 hours riding, and heading East you lose an hour a day crossing time zones......

So after a chaotic few weeks of scrambling to find a place to live, including spending 2 weeks at a Bed & Breakfast in The Beach, I am now safely ensconced in a rental condo a block from the water, and beach volleyball mecca, (at least in Toronto) in The Beach.  

There was quite a startling difference in reception here at work compared to Vancouver: all my 5 computer monitors were covered in "Welcome Home Dom" signs!!!

So that is the end.  16,300 kms of riding over 4 weeks, give or take a day.  My plans to ride to Alaska have been put in hold, maybe the East Coast..... while I am still out here.....                                                                                                                       

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Farkles and the Barcalounger......

It sounds like a seventies rock band....  farkles are accessories you purchase for a motorcycle.  Some are completely useless add-ons that aren't worth the money you spent, others are expensive, but worth it, others are inexpensive and offer an increase in comfort, usability, or reliability well in excess of their cost.

Some of mine were:

Pivot Pegz and adjustable gear shifter.  A larger foot peg is great when standing off road, and since you shift thousands of times a day, depending on the terrain, having the gear lever hit your boot in the right spot is extremely important.

The infamous Tobinators, without which I would have a migraine headache after a few hours of wind buffeting my helmet around, and would have made the whole trip a disaster!! They allowed me to find a setting that put the windshield in a position to ride in quiet, and calm, comfort.

Easily the two most inexpensive and worthwhile farkles, a crampbuster and a cruise control.  The crampbuster uses the heel of your palm to control your throttle, since gripping the hand grips for hours on end causes huge muscle pain.  The cruise control you rotate round onto your brake lever and the friction keeps your throttle in one spot.  Very helpful for huge highway miles.  Each cost less than $20!!!!! 

 Jesse aluminium panniers.  Extremely strong, and hold a HUGE amount of gear.

TomTom GPS and crossbar pad.  I don't know how you can ride, or drive, long distances these days without a GPS!  The motorcycle version is more expensive than the car version, mostly due to it having to be waterproof, and be able to accept commands while wearing gloves.  Connects via bluetooth to your cell phone, for those all important phone calls while riding off road, and to the bluetooth speakers mounted in your helmet.  The crash bar pad is just a safety item in case of hurtling forward....

 BMW stock 1150GSA top box, worked really well.

 Footpad enlarger for the side stand, so the bike doesn't fall over when you park in soft sand.

Handguard spoilers, add a bit more wind and rain protection.

Bottle holders,  The left one held a one and a half litre fuel bottle for
my camp stove.  I bought a multifuel stove, so it used gasoline, so I it meant I always had a bit more in reserve if I ever needed it.  The right one held a large aluminium water bottle, that plus the 2 litre Camelback meant I could make dinner even if there was no water around.

Finally the Barcalounger, or as it is really called a Russell Day Long seat:

The stock seat for the 1150GSA is a single motocross style seat, that while it works really well as an offroad seat, isn't really conducive to long distance comfort.  The Russell is what all the long distance riders swear by, and I would have to agree.  I bought mine used for half the price, and it was definitely worth the money!!!  Even after a nearly 1000km day I never once had pain in my posterior!!

And finally a waterproof cover for the leather seat, by King of Fleece.  Absolutely mandatory to protect your investment, and absolutely waterproof.  It is stretchy, so is a perfect fit. 

Not an inexpensive set of equipment, but since I plan on keeping the bike for a long time,and most of them hold their value really well, they all were a really good investment in my future travel.  I don't believe that there  is a gold plated toilet seat in the bunch.  They were all used, and all performed at least as well as the cost to acquire them.

So unless something else pops into mind that is the end of this journey.  So until next time, so long and farewell.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Der weg ist das ziel......

I have BMW Motorrad t-shirt with that expression on the back.  It roughly translates to "the journey is the destination".  When riding a motorcycle long distance cross country, it isn't so much where you end up, as the experience along the way.

The places that I stopped at and took the time to visit were fantastic.  I saw everything that I wanted, and visited everywhere I had planned.  Due to the time of year and the weather the time I spent between locales was as brief as possible.  If I was traveling with  someone else I might have chosen a different timeline, but for me it worked.

In the end I rode 11,098kms, I had estimated 10,000kms, not including side trips, so my guess was right on.  The length turned out to be 21 days instead of a month, but mostly due to my speed between waypoints.

So the before and after pannier map photos are:

One new province, Quebec, and 20 new US states!!!!!

After my last trip I said that I had thoroughly enjoyed it but that I would never do another one.  Obviously in hindsight that was a rash decision.  This time I know that I will do another trip, in fact I already have one in mind: either a trip to the top of Alaska, or a Alaska, Yukon, and North West Territory loop!!  If I end up staying in Vancouver there will be another trip in the Fall, and one not nearly as fun: driving across Canada in U-Haul...... wow is that something to look forward to????

My favorite places are still Utah and Arizona, especially the area of Page and Moab.  I would go back there again, for sure.  Some of the cities I bypassed, like Boston I think are a better weekend destination to see the life downtown.

My motorcycle performed phenomenally, and the new tires I put on before I left still have some life left in them which is very surprising.  I am currently typing on my new laptop, a brand spanking new Samsung, light, thin, and very fast.  The hard drive on the previous Dell was retrievable, as it turns out it was the mother board that got shaken to pieces.  So I was able to transfer all my valuable data over.  I will be much more careful with this one in the future!!

Thanks to everyone that followed with me through my blog.  Take care, and drive safe!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Back in Canada eh????

You know you are getting close to Vancouver when you wake up and it is raining outside!!!  I think if I had pushed on last night I might have made it in the dry....

So 400kms to go, and the only thing between me and the border is Snoqualmie Pass.  As I already knew it was raining, I also figured if I get up high enough I was going to see snow.  Sure enough, in the valley before Snoqualmie the sign said the temperature was 45F!!  The ascent takes you right up to the bottom of the clouds, and at that level there is still snow on the side of the road.

Thank goodness for heated hand grips, unfortunately at +1ookph they can barely overcome the wind chill...  So it was a pretty horrible last day riding, cold, windy, and rainy.

I am not sure the border guard appreciated my response to the question "where have you been?"  "everywhere...."

So back in Vancouver a few minutes past my estimated 2pm arrival. Glad to be under a warm and cozy roof among family.  So tonight I will ponder the whole trip and do one final summation of my thoughts tomorrow.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Almost there....

So with only one thousand kms to get to Vancouver I decided to take two days to do it rather than have one huge riding day. So a 60/40 split should work as I have to get through the border on the last day.

It was a perfect day for riding:  cool, calm and barely a cloud in the sky!  An hour into the day I overcame the lure of passing an A&W and dropping in for breakfast.  You can tell when you get back to civilization when you finally see a Starbucks!  I couldn't resist the siren call of a Grande Latte!  There are quite a few well known stereotypes for Harley riders, the most well known for BMW riders is that they hang out at the local Starbucks!!  So who am I to go against tradition?

I had been told that all gas stations in Oregon are full serve, so I thought I would try and hold out until I got to Washington state to get gas.  I missed my goal by one mile!!!  I had to stop 1 mile from the state line as I had been on reserve for a while: 445km and 6.45 gallons into my 7 gallon tank!!!  It turns out the next gas station wasn't for another 40kms so I am glad I quit when I did!!

I have never been through western Washington before.  I was amazed at the number, and size of the vineyards I passed.  It reminded me of the Okanagan, or even Napa Valley.

So I am now half a day from ending my trip.  I am looking forward to not having to figure out where to sleep, what restaurant to eat in, and what the weather is going to throw at me today!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

From salt to potatoes

I woke up a bit later than I had hoped but I was still out the door by 6:30am!  I headed back to the Salt Flats to catch pictures of the sunrise.  Unfortunately my hope that it had dried out over night was proved wrong.  It turns out there had been another rain storm during the night, so it was good that I had been in a hotel room, instead of the KOA down the street.

Taking photos into a sunrise is not the easiest thing.  I should have taken them at dusk last night, but the storm got in the way:

After a quick departure from the hotel, as another storm system looked like it was moving in, I headed out, destination Boise Idaho.  My dad's cousin Susan and her husband Mark had invited me to stop by if my route took me into the neighbourhood.  Sue had a preplanned  family picnic, so asked if I wanted to tag along.  It was great seeing people that I hadn't seen in years and a few little ones I had never met.

So after a discussion on the possible routes to take to get to Vancouver, I have decided to take the faster interstate route, instead of the twice as long scenic route.  So with 1000kms to go I should be there in two days time.