Monday – 05/30/2005
Gear. Did you know there are thousands of pages of motorcycling adventures chronicled on the Internet. Pashnit.com/sport-touring.net/Motorcycles Touring Forum and gazillions of personal home pages. Information. Experience. Knowledge. All very good stuff to have with me as I planned my way around the US. Why should I put myself through hell, when others have done so before me? We all would do this a particular way and I’ll do it mine, but I’ll borrow strategies from everyone.
I started shopping for all manner of farkles. I settled on a Garmin 2610 GPS as it can hold all of the USA and Canada in 1.6Gb of memory. I elected to use two 1 Gig cards, with a duplicate set of maps on each. I found that cutting out the Northeast corridor from Boston to Virginia reduces the total load size dramatically, such that I can get the entire trio on the GPS in less than 950 MB. I already have a Valentine 1 radar detector, and found a suitable mount. The other wiz bang I added only a few weeks ago was a Sirius radio. I love swing and they have a great channel for that as well as several others I really enjoy. There is a lot of feedback on both Sirius and XM out there to read. I’ve connected all the audio, including the cell phone, through an AudioBoss AB-1 from Motocomm. It is one neat and capable rig for the money. I’ve modified the speaker enclosure a bit (calls lawyers to copywrite and patent the idea) to assist in noise blocking and comfort. That is about all the farkle I have, expect this weird light up pen from Intel. It Might make a decent tent light. Film at another point.
I started on good gear soon after getting my bike, but prior to getting my permit or license. I have since passed the BRC and ERC and have read a few books, so I’m obviously prepared for this trip…. Yeah right!.. pigs eye and all that… I have an awesome and heavy Leather Jacket, but it doesn’t look like it’ll make the trip. I love to wear it. It has great padding and is thick and warm… but I’m not likely to encounter the need for all that much warm, so I’ll stick with the suit. Aerostich makes a great suit. I picked mine up on eBay for about half retail, and lucky me it fits well enough, especially after inserting the ellipse between the pants and the jacket. Add to this the Evapodana or a Wind Tringle for great neck warmth. Elkskin Leather Gauntlets are my choice for a glove, I’m modifying them to use a Velcro cuff closure to get a better seal from wind. I suppose they’ll stay put better in a crash that way too. They feel soooo good. A cheap Rain suit will/has done well to take heavy rains, and the Aerostich Vulcan rain gloves are awesome. It needs a rain wiper though and the company sent me instructions, in fact they went so far as to send me Velcro for the Elkskins and complete instructions for adding a wiper blade to the rain glove AND said they would attempt to figure out a way to do it in production as something the glove should just have on it. Did I mention the nice collection of stickers? Good people.
The one item I think I value on the bike more than any other, are the electrics. I’m talking about the heated vest arm-chaps and gloves. I trial by fired my gear last week by taking the ERC in the rain… all day rain… not mist or fog, but not deluge either, but rain all day. I was the only one with electric gear and I was comfy all day. A few other veterans had proper rain and warmth gear and did well too. Widder and Gerber seem to be the biggest names and Aerostich has a great product. My biz partner likes his heated Darien. If I were to buy a new (Ka-ching) riding suit, it’d be a Darien and it’s be heated. But I have a used RoadCrafter and I bought the Widder setup. I like the arm chaps and the simplicity if I use the three in combination. I practice; I use just the vest down to 45-50 and all three any colder. The gloves also make good chilly weather gloves, but they also are likely to not fair as well as leather it a get off. The Wind Triangle is awesome from retaining heat and preventing neck exposure. Wearing a Balaclava has also been a good move for me. Be careful the one you buy doesn’t have a knotty seam right in the center of the forehead, ouch! Boots will be played by Oxtar Matrix’s. Not full armor, but durable and enough protection.
Last fall at the New England Rat Raid a latecomer stopped by the parking lot and I noticed his articulated helmet, and I was shopping for one. Jarow/Justisimo Mono X2 is a couple of the names it is sold by in the US. They are made in Italy and have been coming into the country by a few different agreements, making supply and parts spotty, but they seem to be getting a handle on the issue too, which is good, because I like the helmet. It meets the EU safety standard for helmets, which is comparable to both the Snell and DOT requirements from what I understand of it. The issue for me is that wearing glasses and a helmet don’t go together well. A “flip-face” means I don’t have to set down/pick up my glasses every time the helmet goes on and off, and putting glasses on through a full face is a pain in the patience. “be with you in a sec guys, I gotta put on my glasses”.. guess where we ride.. The flip down sun shade is very welcome, especially in the northern lats where we get that low angle sun in the spring and fall…. We get it in the winter too, but that’s some tough sleddin’!
Today it’s cloudy, with chance of showers, as it has been for the last month in Maine. SO is off to a 12 hour shift, good for the $$-flow, bad for the days off before I go. Sunday I hauled all my ***** to work, where the bike lives in a garage, and performed a 90% test pack. ***** them bags get heavy when they get loaded down. I had a list of *****, which I sorted by type, then I transferred those to the list of where on the bike they would go, and then tried packing the bike this way. *****. It worked. It all fit. I was rather shocked, as I had expected much consternation in the effort, but it proceeded very well. I cranked up the preload on the rear and reset the rebound. Hopefully tomorrow I can get to the transfer station for a weigh-in. I test rode the bike for about 10 miles after also pumping up the tires with the 12v mini pump Jim (biz part) has. The ride went well. I can feel the weight back there, but the bike is still very responsive and feels well balanced over all. The left hard bag is at least 8-10 pounds heavier than the right, but I can’t tell. The added weight can certainly be felt at stop with any amount of lean. I’ve got it packed with the heaviest/lowest. I imagine adding a g/f on the back as pillion would be bargish, might have to get a goldwing for that.. n’yuk n’yuk.
The Sony A-190 laptop, it’s a large thing, is too big for the trip, so I’m now using the shops 2.0Ghz system. More powerful and better battery life will be welcome for adding content to the journal after each day. The “sniffer” software is installed so I can ferret out available high-speed connections to the web for updates email and the like. We have Vonage at work, so I can also use a high-speed link for phone calls.
What?.. Oh, yeah I suppose. They want to know *where* I’m going. I start on June 2nd, with 4 days to get from Maine to Orlando via the Blue Ridge Parkway etc, where I join the throngs to imbibe in huge software conference until Friday. Then it is off to Ft Myers FL to visit family. This whole section of the trip was tacked on to the beginning of what I had already planned. I could have elected to fly to the conference, but I’d loose time in the process. The original plan was to beeline it for Colorado, and run a clockwise tour of the west through Grand Canyon, Bryce, Monument Valley etc, then jump over the desert to Sequoia and Yosemite. Next up the run up Hwy 1 from SF to Ave of the Giants and then 39 West to where ever… All of the above comes off the fingers so easy, yet it will consume days and days. On the way down to FL, I hope to see Deals gap but I won’t go on the weekend, so it’ll be a get there on Friday afternoon or don’t go. I will run sections of the Park and a few other roads and wander my way through the Appalachians around Atlanta and some slab to Orlando. It’ll be a good warm up, not mention a wake up of sorts. Much to learn might be just how I’d describe it.
Evaluating the list
In order to get down to brass tacks, I needed to really trim the trip as envisioned, into something actually doable or at least a lot more realistic. Advice from all over can be had on mileage that one can expect to cover in a day. We’ll see how I do. I also needed to create and hone a packing list. Again, there are so many good lists out there through the online motorcycle community. Bicycle shorts seem to be a high priority item for many who have extended seat time. I’m no fool, and dunn I looook sum sexy baaaaaby… oh, excuse me.. Perhaps that was TMI? A Promise, you will not have to look at my anything in this post series. I took a long time to research my trip, including time spent reading through others trip report to find out what works and doesn’t for them and why. It is from that collective that my own list emerged. I’ll post it at some point, but I’m not apt to get to it before leaving.
One of the last issues to deal with was tent or no tent. Money decided for me. Tent it is, at least for as much of it as weather and my stamina/stench allows. I’ve got a hotel room in Orlando for the conference, but otherwise have no reservations. I gave up trying because I didn’t want to have the pressure of needing to be somewhere. Wisdom encourages going in a direction as opposed to, to a point. I am now looking forward to camping on the fly.
I just finished up lunch and starting the photo album on http://www.Triumphrat.net
where you are likely reading this, or perhaps on http://www.pashnitforums.com
, or even http://www.sport-touring.net
. The rest of the story will be on TriumphRat.Net as it’s where I have upload and forum duties. Hopefully it will inspire others in board to document their trips to share with everyone.
Planning the route.
I’ve mapped this trip so many times my head gave up months ago and it has been an autopilot journey of adding and changing and removing waypoints ever since. Microsoft’s latest Streets program is called MapPoint, and I use that to speculate and test routes and other ideas. I have three categories of waypoints in the GPS; Destinations, Roads and Triumph dealers. I have almost all the dealers in the country loaded. I’ll try to export it to a file if others want a copy. I’ve set up a few static routes, enough to present the map I posted as the Anchor for the photo folder. I have a pile of places that I want to see, and these destinations are loaded as a group and few great roads rise above destination status to must see riding. I’m going to slab out of the Northeast (midcoast Maine) to VA with the hope to get to the northern end of the Skyline Drive by the end of day one. We’ll see is what the other brain says in return, we’ll see how far we make it.. gollum… What? Why? Now is the time. I have never taken a journey before. Trips I have taken, but they were just that. Preset itineraries for compressed adventure. Cruises, trips to the relatives etc and on and on. I’ll turn 46 in Orlando on the 9th, or I may be enroute to Ft Myers by then.. we’ll see. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the WE’LL SEE tour of America”… So a journey it is. I anticipate sore body, overloaded retinas, breath taking vistas, time in my head, and time out of routine, time. It is time. Time for me. Selfish? Yes. Necessary? Yes.
I started shopping for a tent late in the game. I finally settled on a Kelty Gunnison2. It had good height and an enormous vestibule. Order and poof, no stock I am told, “in fact we checked and we won’t have them until July sometime” Eeeek!! Backorder from hell!! Shame on Kelty!... The tent of choice then became the Eureka Timberline4. It has no vestibule, but being a 4-body tent it will have room for me and the gear. The foot print is 8’8”x9’2” as is the cheapo drop cloth to protect the bottom of the tent material. The tent is a good value and has a good reputation and at 8 pounds it is light for its price and size. It seems to be a compromise in tents, in that to get ultra light weight the cost goes up. Hell I think I could get the whole bike it the tent if I had to, but the bike has a tent of its’ own in a Aerostich black lightweight cover. It packs small and the bike becomes invisible on a dark night, or at least it doesn’t stand out. I have a LLBeans sleeping pad, extra long for us 6’4” types. A pillow from “space foam” that will double up for tank pad for using the back pegs and laying down. A basic camp sleeping bag completes the ensemble. Toss in a portable camp stove that runs on unleaded and a mess kit and away we go.
Another personal farkle I got last winter is a Black Diamond head band light. It has 4 white LED’s that put out what I think is a blue light. It has three brightness settings and a blink setting for psychedelic encounters I guess.. actually it’d be nide to have in an emergency situation. Looking into the lights is not pleasant, so they should be nicely visible. I’ve thought of using it as a tail light in the fog. I’ve used it for all sorts of non cycle related endeavors so far, so I suspect it will be a daily pleasure to have with me.
Well Yeah… A Triumph Sprint ST, new to me in August of 2004, a leftover model in Blue. The panniers came with it. I recently added a Triumph Rack and a Givi E52 top case. The Triumph Tank Bag also is relied upon. I haven’t done anything to the bike from stock other than adding the ProOiler chain oiler. A guy named Pablo makes the kit and is a pleasure to do business with. It uses rotational wheel count as the basis for application of a std amount of oil, a plus/minus remote pad is then used to activate an increasefrom the base amount. The base amount can be changed to a pile of different tables that start at 1/900 drops to revolutions, up to 1/5000. There is also a limp mode of several levels for using it when there is no signal from the wheel at all. I’ve found driving in steady rain can require heavy usage, but otherwise the rig works. There is some tach interference in the display. We’ve tapped into the speedo signal to the display to get the 4 pulses a rotation.
Immediately upon taking delivery, in fact before, I had ordered the HeliBar kit through the dealer. Spendy, but in the end worth every buck. There was a recall of a piece, but the way it was handled was effective and no incidents occurred as a result of their fast action to recognize and react to the potential for an incident. There are three axies of rotation that connect the three pieces of the HeliBar kit, thereby making adjustment a nightmare or a dream, you pick. I’ve played a ton and am apt to do it again in search of the perfect layout of the two bars. Only the first point of rotation moves both, the other two points you need to make the same by eye and it can be challenging. It’s only a pain in that it can take time. There’s that word again. Time.
I also lived with the stock screen as short a time as possible. The Triumph touring screen would be fine for someone in the 5’8” range(I am guessing here), above that the buffeting is murder. I now have a Cee Baileys 17” screen and may elect to buy a 21” plank ( I call it the plank because it looks so ***** huge, buts looks take a second seat to function in my book.) by the time I get near California. “Just make it boys, I’ll swing by and slap it on in the parking lot and you can mail me the short one.” The 17 eliminates the buffeting, but there is still a fair howl of wind when I ride upright. Leaning down on the bag reduces wind noise a bunch, but I still may want the plank. Visit them at http://www.ceebaileys.com/triumph/
. Time to go shopping. It’s been a nice quiet day in the camp. Moved the generator, cleaned up for the Propane tank guy, Vacuumed, dishes, etc etc … and got a bunch of typing in. Perhaps more later, but off to Market!
[ This message was edited by: JasonS on 2005-07-02 13:07 ]