New York to Texas and back
Shortly after I bought my ’06 R1200RT I took my first long motorcycle trip. I rode from my home in Albany, NY to Lisle, IL, a Chicago suburb. It’s a trip I’ve taken several times by car so the outbound trip didn’t require any planning; I just rode the 100% Interstate route I’d traveled before. Coming home I took the Lake Express ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon; I then rode across Michigan to Port Huron and over the Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia, Ontario. I was a novice at motorcycle navigation but I did OK. I just put a list of cities on my route in the map window of my tank bag and followed road signs.
I dealt with road construction, Chicago traffic and heavy rain without a problem. The biggest hassle of the whole trip came re-entering the US at Lewiston, NY. The enormous backup and long delay left me with a very negative opinion of US Customs and Immigration.
Other than the border delay it was a good trip. I discovered that my RT’s bags easily accommodated all I needed to travel comfortably. It was a joy to ride all day long, sleep, then get up and do it again. I immediately began thinking of a longer trip and picked Austin, TX as my next destination. Floods in Austin forced me to cancel in ’07 but I made it this year.
I spent eleven days on the road. I had a general idea where I was headed but I never made firm plans more than a day in advance. I brought a small laptop computer with a cellular broadband card so I could make hotel reservations from almost anywhere.
I’d wondered if I could do 600-mile days. I’m not an Iron Butt candidate but I wanted to cover the 1700 miles from Albany to Dallas in three days. I did it, but I ended up riding by places I would have liked to stop. I decided I’d take four days going home.
My second night out I stayed at Sam’s Town Casino Hotel in Tunica, MS. The hotel was on one side of the casino and a parking garage was on the other. As I parked my bike in front of the hotel a security guard in golf cart came over. He told me there was reserved motorcycle parking in the garage so I moved inside. There were assorted bikes there including a K1200LT. The LT rider had different ideas about security than me. He had a disk brake lock on the front wheel but left his GPS in the mount. I took my GPS with me but relied on the fork lock to secure the bike.
The next day started out good with a couple of hours of state highways in Mississippi and Arkansas then onto the Interstate for the run to Dallas. In the afternoon I rode through some heavy rain near Texarkana. When I checked into my hotel in Dallas I discovered that my tank bag was more waterproof on the bottom than the top. I carried the bag in with me and when I sat it on the counter water gushed out. My paper maps were mush but they were backups to the GPS so I could live with the loss.
Day four began with a visit with an old friend at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field. They have an RF-8G Crusader that I’d been the Plane Captain for when I was in the Navy. The plane’s been restored to new condition. Now I need to find a way to make me look like I did forty years ago.
I rode west from Dallas on I-20 to Cisco, TX then headed south to Fredericksburg on state highways. That was great riding, well maintained roads, light traffic and a 70 mph speed limit. On the down side it was hot! Every day I was in Texas the temperature peaked at over 100 degrees. I developed a sore throat breathing the hot, dry air.
Next I headed for Austin. On the way there I had motorcycle problems; the brake failure light began flashing! I still had brakes but they didn’t feel right. I guessed correctly that the ABS had failed; the speedometer and cruise control were also dead. I stopped for a visual inspection and saw nothing. When I restarted the bike everything was functioning but I was pretty sure that was temporary. I set the GPS for the nearest BMW dealer and headed for Lone Star BMW in Austin.
The people at Lone Star were great. They took the bike in almost immediately and diagnosed the problem. The ABS control module had faulted. They cleared the fault and told me that may or may not be a fix. It wasn’t, it failed again after a couple of miles so I headed back. The next step was to replace the module but they didn’t have one in stock. They ordered one to be shipped overnight and one of their technicians volunteered to work overtime the following evening to install it. I had to leave the bike overnight for the repairs but it wasn’t a problem; I’d planned a two-day stop in Austin, plus having an air-conditioned rental car was a welcome relief from the scorching heat.
Friday morning I picked up my bike and did my best to express my gratitude to the people at Lone Star. I told the tech who had stayed late to fix my bike that if he wanted to ride the Northeast he was welcome to come up and borrow the bike.
The Republic of Texas biker rally was beginning the day I left. The hotel was filling up with people there for the rally and the place was catering to them. Half the parking lot was cordoned off for motorcycle parking and there was a wash station set up with hoses, soap and towels. I was able to head for home on a clean bike. If I’d known about the rally in advance I might have considered an extra day or two to visit it.
My destination for the night was Vicksburg, MS. Leaving Austin I rode north on I-35 for about an hour then turned off onto state highways planning to hit I-20 near the Louisiana border. Again the state roads were good but on US –79 there was a lot of truck traffic. While passing a line of trucks with the throttle pegged in 5th gear I noticed the “5” on the gear indicator flashing. I’m not sure if that means I was approaching the red line or the sound barrier.
After two days on the road I did a short day. I rode from northeast Tennessee to Roanoke VA and spent the afternoon at the O. Winston Link Museum and The Virginia Museum of Transportation. If you’re a photographer or a rail fan the Link will interest you, if you’re both it’s a must see.
After the museums I rode a couple of hours to Harrisonburg VA for my last night on the road. At the hotel I parked next to an R1200GS and a Honda cruiser. Later I met the riders, a father and son who’d been touring West Virginia, dad on the GS, son on the Honda. Their stories convinced me I need to visit WV.
I think I made my trip one day too long. The last day’s ride was a relatively short 477 miles but I ran out of ass before I got home. I just couldn’t get comfortable on the bike. As I swung onto the New York Thruway about an hour and a half from Albany the temperature dropped 20 degrees. Looming clouds and headlights on the oncoming traffic let me know I was in for some weather. I made the final pit stop of the trip to put on my rain gear. It was a good change. The cooler air and the additional padding of my overpants made my butt feel better.
I rolled into my yard glad to be home but also glad I’d done it. My GPS showed 4120 miles at an overall average speed of 60.7 mph and a moving average of 64.7 mph. I stayed within my $200 a day budget spending $351 on gas, $1289 on hotels and meals, and around $250 on other stuff.
This trip has me thinking about two things for the R1200RT. The first is a new seat. I’ll probably ride the rest of this season on the stocker but I’ll upgrade it before I make another long trip. The second is an extended warranty. The $2300 repairs in Austin were covered by BMW but the factory warranty ends in March ’09. I’ll have to look into the costs and benefits of an extension. I haven’t seen a bike I like better than the RT so it’s going to be in my garage for a while.
Last edited by Charlie_K; 06-28-2008 at 07:38 PM.
Reason: spell check
sounds like a great trip... if you do plan another trip before you change your seat, get yourself a bottle of Anti Monkey Butt Powder. it does help a great deal. I'll be leaving for Gillette in a couple of weeks on my RT. I have a Sargent seat, and an Airhawk...but I still will take my Anti MOnkey Butt Powder.