Saturday, August 27, 2011

BigTrip2011 - Day 12 - Jack’s Obstacle Course


I started the day (August 9, 2011) refreshed after a long sleep.  The clock radio had a headphone cord on the back! (Awesome idea) I plugged it into my phone, and turned it all the way up. This was a new hotel which was still being built, so I didn’t have any neighbors. The music really helped to spice up my oatmeal I cooked for breakfast in the in-room microwave.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FJ1200 Sidecar Ride

Recently, I was given the chance to ride in a "sports-sidecar" attached to an FJ1200 on a closed-course. I'm usually driving, so I don't get the chance to play monkey often. It was fun!

YouTube Video: FJ1200 Sidecar Ride

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SV650 in 3D

Get your 3D glasses out! Using my new GoPro 3D Housing, I can use my two GoProHDs to make 3D video. I don’t have a fancy 3D display – just old fashion red-cyan glasses that you can get for free or cheap. I’ve found the videos work best at full screen, 1080p, in a slightly darker room. YouTube has options to pick which type of 3D best suits your equipment (if any) by clicking the “3D” button. You can also turn it off and watch in normal 2D. My one complaint about using red-cyan is that it makes my SV look brown instead of red.

YouTube Video: SV650 in 3D

Monday, August 22, 2011

BigTrip2011–Day 11–A Trip to the Beach is the Cure

August 8, 2011. “Beep, beep” sounds filled the air, and I remembered it was my alarm. I didn’t want to get up. I was very comfortable in my sleeping bag. I pretended I didn’t hear it, but it just got louder. I left it across the room out of arms reach. I had to get up to turn it off, and then I was awake. George had mentioned he needed to be at work by 8am, so I planned to be out the door by 7:45. I didn’t want to delay him. We had a great time the night before.

BigTrip2011 - Day11 - NJ,DE,MD

Friday, August 19, 2011

BigTrip2011–Day 10– Gold at the End of the Slab

August 7, 2011 – I woke up to the sound of thunder. The plan was to leave early from John’s house and meet George at Bear Mountain in New York. Because of the rain storms, George had emailed me the night before and said his group had cancelled the ride. I was disappointed. I had heard it was a beautiful area to ride in. Looking back on it now, I should have just went by myself, but I wasn’t eager to get into my rain gear again.

I devised a new plan over breakfast. To head east to Rhode Island before heading to New Jersey for my overnight stop. The previous night’s storms were still going strong. John and I chatted the morning away while watching the weather radar closely.

At first the forecast said the rain would quit by 10am, then 11am, then noon, then 1pm, etc. By noon I became anxious and wanted to get going. I had 240 miles of grueling I-95 interstate waiting for me. I geared up and set off.

wet morning ride

It was raining pretty good about two minutes from John’s house. As I rode east on I-95, I caught glimpses of the west bound traffic. I would soon be joining them, so I was curious of the situation. A sense of dread came over me as I rode mile after mile, passing what looked like a stopped westbound I-95. RI was only 30 miles away, and I hoped the traffic would clear up by the time I turned around to head east.

rain into rhode island

The rain took a break just before I got to Rhode Island. Look at the wall of water from the oncoming lane. This part of I-95 was moving. I pulled off at the next exit to get gas, and then started to ride east. I made it about five miles before I was stuck in the backup I had observed from the eastbound side. It was very slow going. It rained pretty heavy for some time, but my rainsuit kept me dry.

Eventually I made it back to where I started and the traffic loosened up. Mercifully the speed increased, but so did the temperature. The rain had stopped, but the clouds looked dark. I thought for sure it was going to rain again. I rode another 30 miles before I couldn’t take it anymore. My rainsuit was breathing about as well as a squirrel under water. I pulled over, and  removed half of my rainsuit – tying the arms around my waist. The breeze felt great passing through my mesh coat while my legs cooked. Another 30 miles or so, and I stopped again to remove the whole suit. It was getting too humid. I asked my GPS again to route me around this mess by avoiding highways, but it kept me on I-95.

I crossed into New York state for the second time on the trip. The surface of I-95 got worse the closer I got to New York City.

crappy road in NY

Eventually I made it to NYC and got to experience their Sunday afternoon traffic as the interstate wound through the Bronx.

traffic sucks

The ride through New York City was spirited and probably my favorite part of the riding day. Nothing like a bunch of cars and trucks trying to run you down while you dodge surface hazards to wake you up.

At one of the toll stops in New Jersey I parked in the shade to relax and have a snack. I disturbed a large number of birds in doing so. While eating, I noticed what they were so excited about. There was a half hunk of chicken on the ground. The birds entertained me with their antics as they grew braver and braver trying to get the chicken just two feet from my front tire. When one would start to get close, two or more would start squawking causing the brave bird to fly away. This repeated for about 15 minutes before I was ready to go again. 


seagulls fighting over chicken

Just before I was close to George’s house I decided to get gas. I had forgotten that New Jersey doesn’t let you pump your own gas (there is an exception for motorcycles). The attendant was cross with me as I pushed my card into the machine and started filling up the SV.

I arrived at George’s place just in time for dinner. He came out to greet me and offered me some space in his nice cool basement. I dragged my bags down the stairs and changed into my swimsuit. He had been bragging about his pool on twitter, so I was eager to try it out.


George is @goldie05rides on twitter because he has a Gold ‘05 Kawasaki Concours. When I arrived, he had just finished changing the oil. The bike was in great shape.

BigTrip2011 - Day11 - NJ,DE,MD

His wife made a tasty dinner and we had some great conversation. George gave me many tips for the next day’s ride which I appreciated because I didn’t have much of a plan other than ride south along the coast. We went to sleep quite late.

Thanks again for your hospitality George!


About 250 miles

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Giving the SV650 Some Love… and a DR370

On my walk at lunch today, I had to stop and admire this cool looking old Suzuki. The badge reads DR370. I love the old scrambler styling. It looks like a fun bike, and I bet it sounds neat too. The owner was no where to be found. When I returned from lunch, it was gone.

Suzuki DR370 parked on the street. Looks fun.

The SV650 stepped in and did a great job (as usual) when the GS let me down before the trip. It continues to remind me why it’s my favorite bike in the garage – it’s reliable and a ton of fun.

The poor SV was in desperate need of maintenance, so I gave it some much needed attention.  I also hate having more than one bike broken at a time (silly GS!) The speedometer quit working on the way back from Chicago, the spark plugs, air filter, oil filter, and oil were all past due on being changed as well. I don’t really care about the speedo, as I can pretty accurately judge the speed from the tach, but not having the odometer is a pain.

The speedo had acted weird a couple times before the trip, so I ordered the part that most commonly causes the problem. It turned out to be a wise purchase. I’m tempted to order another one at $15 since they seem to randomly fail. The original one made it 35,000 miles, so I might just wait.

The new part on the left and the failed part in the sensor housing on the right.

speedometer sensor on SV650

The tabs have been chewed off, and you can see the black, dusty remains of the broken part here along the wheel bearings.

speedometer sensor on SV650

It was an easy repair. I didn’t even have to take the wheel all the way off. I’ll detail it in a future post.

The SV650 Oil Change was easy. A new crush washer was indeed needed!

New on the left, old on the right.

sv650 crush washer

Next, I replaced the air filter with a K&N I got for less than the stock filter. The K&N can be cleaned and re-used forever. Nice! My 1150GS and my wife’s GS500 both have a K&N as well.

K&N on left, stock on right

K&N air filter

Spark plugs were next:

new vs old. they needed to be changed! They had over 21,000 miles on them. The bike starts much nicer now.

changing spark plug on SV650

The plug locations on the SV650 are under the gastank and behind the radiator. Kind of a pain to do the one behind the radiator.

I used a socket on the stock tool to tighten the one under the seat/gas tank.

changing spark plug on SV650

then I used the stock tool with a ratcheting wrench, so I didn’t have to remove the radiator. I had about 1/4” of clearance to work. A very tight fit.

changing spark plug on SV650

I’ll write up a more detailed post on the plugs later.

Last was to clean and lube the chain up properly. It developed a nice black patina from the road trip. Some chain cleaner and now it is back to a nice shiny gold color.

Of course, I had to take the bike for a short test ride after all the maintenance! In my mind, it seems to run a bit smoother.


PS:  More trip posts coming soon.

PPS: Insurance check came for the house, so now we can finally start repairs!

PPPS: Parts for the R1150GS should arrive early next week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

vlog–Driftless in Minnesota

A short vlog to catch the youtubers up on my trip, and to explain my new camera setup.

YouTube Video: vlog - Driftless in Minnesota

Monday, August 15, 2011

BigTrip2011–Day9–Tanks and Meetups Galore!

For the first and only time on the entire trip, I used an alarm to get up. Today (August 6, 2011) started much too early. The plan was to get a quick breakfast and then ride south to Natick, MA for the WWII Military Expo which was about an hour away. Chris wanted to get there by 10am. It turned out to be an ambitious plan.

I slowly packed up my tent and put everything back on the bike. Chris’s two sons were ready to go before I was. I was moving slowly.

chris and kids on the dnper 

We had a nice breakfast at a local diner and then hit the interstate. We rode south in Massachusetts to meet another rider on a Ural.

chris and dnper on the interstate entering mass

We stopped three different time at three different spots before we finally met up with him at 11-something. It was a frustrating morning of waiting.


Fortunately, the last place had some shade as it was becoming a hot and humid day. He finally arrived, but was complaining of shift issues. Chris told him to take his tool kit out, and got down on the ground to fix it right there. As any Ural owner knows, it attracts quite a crowd when it stops, but when combined with the Dnepr it was something else. In less than 15 minutes, three separate guys walked over to offer tools and to ask the usual questions (what is it, how old is it, it’s a what?, who makes that?, etc). I love it when they ask original questions, but that is pretty rare.


Repair completed, and we were back on the road. I was following Chris, and the other Ural was behind me. Two of us had a GPS, but Chris who was leading did not. We got turned around a few times, and then he asked me to lead. Even with the GPS, I had a hard time finding the place! Many u-turns later, we eventually saw a small sign and followed it. We saw this truck and I got excited that we were probably in the right place.

WWI Military Expo

When we parked, someone in uniform came to ask us if we wanted to go down to be part of the show (referring to the Dnepr and Ural). Chris and the other rider both declined; a 2009 and a 1980s aren’t quite WWII. After we parked, then we saw these signs. Getting warmer (unfortunately literally). Way too hot!

WWI Military Expo

We walked into the vendor area. We got a snack and something cold to drink. Did I mention it was hot and humid?

WWI Military Expo 

Some great looking old machines were around. Of course, my favorites were the bikes.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo 

Some of the vehicles were for sale.

WWI Military Expo

I’d love to figure out how to get this recoilless rifle on the Ural. It’d be the perfect cure for traffic.

WWI Military Expo 

The bulk of the event was in a forest near a lake. An excellent place as the trees provided ample shade. All the vehicle are owned by private individuals and were driven or trailered to the event for the weekend.

The driver doesn’t look to be in the right costume.

WWI Military Expo 

I loved the wide variety of tanks and other similar vehicles.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

Most were in fantastic condition considering their age.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

It was impressive how much effort the hosts put into the event. Many were dressed in period uniforms.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

They were happy to talk and answer questions. This was the Russian tent.

WWI Military Expo

Did I mention I loved all the old motorcycles? Many of them were original, but some had replaced older parts with replicas like this BMW with a CJ engine.

WWI Military Expo

This Zundapp was my favorite vehicle of the show. A beautiful machine.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

There were various shows going on throughout the day including these three women singing. They had great voices, so I stopped and listened for a few songs.

WWI Military Expo 

On the way out there was even a modern Humvee present. Cool!

WWI Military Expo

I said my goodbyes to Chris and his kids. Thanks again for the fun times!

A short time later, I met up with Manny who I know through my work. We’ve worked together for almost a year; this was my first chance to meet him. He rides a ZZR with a nicely tuned sport exhaust. His bike was entirely too clean; he needs to ride more and polish less! :)

IMG_1695 IMG_1694

We retreated to a nearby restaurant to catch up over a cold beverage (iced tea) before I needed to hit the road again. I pointed the SV south and rocketed down the interstate towards the border. I crossed into Connecticut. Norwich was my destination. I thought I would get wet as the clouds kept getting darker and darker the further south I rode. Graciously, the temperature also dropped. I didn’t get wet.

connecticut state line

I arrived later than I wanted due to my mistake in the distance from Natick to Norwich. Norwich, CT is a small city. To me, it was dripping in the stereotypical new england look. (sorry for the bug on the lens of the GoPro). It was founded in 1659. I love this part of the country because of old towns like this.

beautiful norwich beautiful norwich2

I roamed around the city looking for my destination. The signs being flush with the buildings kept the historical feeling, but made finding the establishment more difficult. Eventually I saw a bright yellow/orange triumph and quickly pulled over.

fuzzy speed tripple

FuzzyGalore aka Rachael was waiting on the side of the road for me. (Sorry for being late!) I believe I captured her taking a photo of me with her phone.

meeting fuzzy

We had a blast chatting over dinner. She took the ferry across from long island just to meet me. How cool is that? Thanks again for dinner! We had so much fun chatting that she missed the 8:30 ferry, so I invited her to come with me while she waited for next one.

My destination was an overnight stay with JohnsAlaska. The original plan was to sleep outside in my tent. With impending thunderstorms, John offered me a space inside instead. I happily accepted. Thanks John!

He came out to greet us as we pulled up. We chatted for a minute and then he offered me some space in the garage for my SV. When I went to move it, I lost my balance on the sloped driveway and the bike started to tip. The bike normally weighs about 400lbs wet, but with the bags fully packed I couldn’t catch it.

I watched in horror as it fell over in slow motion. I was holding onto one handlebar trying as hard as I could to keep it from hitting the ground. I managed to stop the decent just an inch from the ground, and then I couldn’t move. Flashes of a broken sidecase or worse a broken rack flashed through my head. I tugged hard, but it wouldn’t come back up. I might as well have been trying to move one of the tanks. 

I called out for help, and John rushed over. We both tugged on it, but it wouldn’t come back. My arms were starting to get shaky and tired holding the weight of the bike. I was going to loose my grip and drop it. Rachael came to our aid and the three of us righted the bike. Disaster averted.

I felt so stupid. I couldn’t believe I nearly dropped my bike. I haven’t dropped the SV since I bought it. I was very happy to have John and Rachael around to help me lift it. I would have had to take the cases off if I was by myself. I’ve lifted the SV myself before, but it was extra heavy today. I beat myself up for a while. John comforted me with a beer. It helped.

The three of us started chatting, and all too soon Rachael had to leave to catch her ferry. She got caught in the rain on the ride home. Thanks for riding over Rachael. We’ll have to do it again!

John and I stayed up past midnight chatting. When it was time to sleep, I crawled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep very quickly. I was exhausted which was probably why I tipped my bike. It was a fantastic day fun filled day that wasn’t tarnished with the minor incident.


About a 200 mile riding day.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

BigTrip2011–Day8–Raingear to the Rescue

August 5, 2011, I opened my eyes to the sounds of birds and the neighbors kids playing outside.  The previous day’s rain and humidity were gone, and in their place was a bright blue sky with little wispy clouds. The air was crisp 52F which was much colder than I expected. Wearing a full mesh riding suit, even with the little windproof liner was not nearly warm enough. I pulled over and put on my fleece and my other shirt. I made it another five miles. It was cold. At 55mph, the wind turned that 52F morning into a ~35F morning. My hands enjoyed the heated grips, but the rest of me was chilled. I wished I had my heated vest.


My SV650 is the naked variety, so it does not have any wind protection at all. I love the naked setup.  I’ve tried many windshields, but they all make too much noise. I love the quiet rush of wind that a naked bike provides.

I put on the last pair of gear I had left – my bright, yellow, one-piece rainsuit. I felt ridiculous riding along in the bright sun without a rain cloud in sight wearing my rain gear, but I was warm. By noon, the sun had finally done it’s job and the temps had climbed into the 70s and my rain gear was back in my tank bag.

raingear in the sun

My route was to be along the coast of Maine on US1 riding towards my overnight stay in Manchester, NH.


I had hoped to see the rugged Maine coastline I had seen in photographs. What I didn’t realize was how jagged the coast was with tiny slivers of land piercing into the Atlantic like daggers. The road connected the hilt of those knives, and the trees covered most of the views.

typical maine coast on us1

Occasionally, I’d get a glimpse of the water while crossing a bridge.

atlantic from a bridge

The other thing I didn’t anticipate on the coast road was the numerous small towns. They were all very cute, charming, and touristy. That last bit caused an incredible amount of traffic. Which was mostly ok, as it gave me plenty of time to admire the scenery. One small town in particular was quite bad. The traffic was backed up for nearly five miles going south and double that on the north-bound side. As I crept along, was passed by a snail cruising past on the shoulder. Once I got to the small town, I saw the source of the problem. Two traffic cops stopping traffic to let the pedestrians cross as soon as one showed up which was five times a minute rather than letting a couple of them gather. What was the crowd for? Lobster of course. The signs advertised “lobsters boiled alive” which had the lines down the street and around the corner. This is Maine after all.

traffic jam on us1

Further down the road, I found this beautiful bridge. It is on the exit of Verona Island crossing the Penobscot River on US1/ME3.


The bridge was put into service in 2006 when the bridge to the right was retired.

beautiful bridge

I stopped again to admire another bit of the coast. Before heading into NH. The beachgoers looked at me like I was an alien walking around wearing my riding gear on the beach. I was quite comfortable and the high riding boots meant I didn’t get sand in my shoes. My helmet and gloves were back on the bike.


I arrived later afternoon at Chris Harris’s BMW shop – Affordable Beemer Services. Chris is an independent BMW mechanic and loves old military vehicles. When I entered his shop, I found him working on his 1980s Dnepr. It is very similar to a Ural. He painted his panzer grey to give it that more authentic look. He loves taking it off-road which shows with the generous coating of mud.


He was one of the first to graciously offer me space for the night. His backyard was a great place to setup my tent. It was conveniently located next to the firepit.


We started drinking mimosas shortly after I arrived. Chris has quite a stock pile of raw ingredients for his favorite drink. We didn’t stop enjoying the tasty citrus drink until the wee hours of the morning when we finally ran out of wood for the campfire.  I had a great time swapping stories with Chris and his wife around the fire. Thanks for a great time Chris!


Around 260 miles of riding today.

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