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Thread: Teaser- "Adventure is taking inappropriate Equipment to out of the way places"

  1. #46
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Yep. I stand corrected.

    This is them! He sure was tall - so Dutch is right! (And Azure was adorabe)

  2. #47
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Just ahead of a flat line
    Quote Originally Posted by Beemer01 View Post
    This is them! He sure was tall - so Dutch is right! (And Azure was adorabe)
    They mention your meeting on post 12

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
    I am too poor to buy cheap stuff, I need it to last forever (tewster2)

  3. #48
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Day 18 on the Road to Quesnel -

    We rose early, I wandered around outside,in the dirt parking lot there were perhaps five guys shifting stuff around on a trailer that was hitched to an overloaded pickup truck. 'Turns out that they were taking this load of lumber and heavy plastic bins to a clearing outside Hyder for a chopper to ferry the load in a series of runs to a gold mine abandoned for a century...they were going to reopen it and buoyed by the still high gold prices, start mining again. I looked over the load, a lot of stuff, including a big Honda Generator, fuel, lumber, steel angle iron, boxes of nails, food... I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Choppers were the only way to get to this mine... whatever roads or trails there had been were long gone, swallowed by time and the elements.

    You gotta love the Northcountry, second gold hunting crew we'd met in the past days ...all going out there on a wing and a prayer... not a geologist in the bunch.

    Faith based mining.

    I think we skipped breakfast that morning still weighed down by the fish and chips from last night. The ride out was as magnificent as the ride in... Fran stopped to spread some sacred ashes across from the Glacier .... we made good time.

    Well, it was about time for me to have another fuel crisis and it happened just ten miles from the nearest fuel station as my Beemer coughed to a stop...I know this because the small REI fuel bottle on the back of my right pannier provides me precisely ten miles of additional range...riding very conservatively. I pulled into the gas station, coasting almost to the pumps, not even on fumes. I had to push the bike that last five feet to the pump.

    I topped off everything again, both gas cans and the fuel cylinder on the back.

    There was a largish group of bikers taking pictures next to that famous sign that seem to show up in most Alaska trip reports. Fran and I walked over and started chatting, joining in a couple of group pictures. We compared notes... one of the couples actually lived up in Deadhorse year around, he was a member of their fire department. I had to wrap my head around this ... I guess conventional fire department methods that would involve either fire hydrants or tanker trucks wouldn't work up there - if I'd had more time I'd have developed a bunch of questions....though I'm very sure that spill containment and Haz-mat are a big part of their concerns.

    We headed off South again bound for Quesnel, where we found a really nice restaurant and had burgers and fries in the little town center.

    We fueled up and the girl at the station directed us to a VERY nice campground.... they even had a private gated entry... though I cannot imagine why this was needed. (Keep the bears out?)

    We pitched our tents on the lush grass and Fran tackled an electrical problem around his taillights. The PO had installed an LED bar that never seemed to work quite right. Fran systematically tried to figure out the unconventional wiring that guy done. As always, when dealing with complex electrical problems....I leave and go for a walk.

    Three hours later the circuits still didn't work properly - actually worse -and out of the blue I suggested that he verify the ground connection? Bingo. My fifteen minutes of fame. Fran buttoned up the revised wiring with a prayer.

    Remember this moment, the problem is not only not solved, it's going to get a lot worse.

    That night we slept well, the inflatable pad was almost unnecessary, the grass was so lush. Tomorrow the steep grades I'd heard so much about going out to Bella Coola .... reportedly amazing views, with fantastic costal fjords.

    Yeah right.

  4. #49
    Registered User REBGEN's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Clive, IA
    Thanks for the latest I got my fix for the day!

    Love the pacing of your story and the foreshadowing of whats to come.

    98 R1200C Canyon Red

  5. #50
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Day 19 ? Lucas, Price of Darkness (and wild horses) appear

    We rolled out of our respective tents early, packed up and then discovered that Fran's battery was dead. Kaput. Muerto. Toast.

    All that futzing around last night had drained it to the point that his lights hardly came on in the morning, forget turning the engine over enough to start it. And fully packed, accessing his battery was another 30 minute project. I helped him push it over to the gravel driveway, walked over to my bike and produced a genuine authentic tow strap. Which I'd never used before. I wrapped the strap around my footrest and did the same for Fran on his bike, reading the instructions to him I informed him that when he gets up to speed, he should raise his foot, release the tow strap and pop his clutch, thus starting his engine.

    In theory.

    In practice, it's a bit harder especially on gravel with a car tire on the back that seems perfectly happy to slide.

    It took a few laps of the campground to get it finally right, after two fails, we put on our helmets, activated our Bluetooth comm system and it got a little easier to coordinate. Then all I heard Fran yelling was once again... "Don't stop, Don't stop - keep going!!!". Evidently English Bikes don't stop very well on gravel with oversized car tires on the back.

    We got Fran's bike started and had provided the campground with an amusing start to their day. I noticed some wives bringing out first aid kits from their Motorhomes just in case.

    We skipped Breakfast since we had dinner the night before and rode on down to Williams Lake where we turned onto Route 20 going West. A really scenic road, with broad valleys, high bridges, switchbacks, and what appeared to be great farming country, with devolved into higher forests and pastures. One thing that stuck in my mind were the casual fences constructed out of whatever wood, branches or trees were available. These were so casual that we'd of course entered open range country... the nuisance Black Bears of Yukon had been replaced by horses and cattle wandering Route 20.

    We stopped for fuel and water at a small gas station/bakery/restaurant/trinket shop, with me filling up all available containers. I queried the Garmin Oracle about fuel and it assured me that there was no fuel to be had anywhere to the West as we drove to the coast. The nice lady at the counter gave me five fuel stops that lay between us and breathtaking Bella Coola.

    Thanks Garmin.

    Reassured on the fuel front we continued Westward... it is, after all 300 some miles from Williams Lake to Bella Coola. A perfect day, mild temps, sunshine, bikes running well. Until one of them didn't.

    Run that is.

    Fortunately Fran's bike died right in front of the only bakery/towing service on Route 20. He coasted nicely into a gravel yard. I pulled in right next to him, put my kickstand down, and after affirming that we had a dead bike on our hands, went to go get a cup of coffee.

    Perfect and kudos to the Triumph for picking this place to croak.

    I had a nice conversation with the lady who ran the bakery, complemented her on her excellent coffee. chatted with a couple of local ranchers and took another cup of coffee and a cookie out to Fran. Fran was deep into the wiring - again - oblivious to the fact that a group of wild horses were gathering just behind him watching intently. I observed that his alternative transportation was awaiting.

    He wasn't amused, and I decided that I could be of most help by leaving him be for a while. I wandered back to the bakery, got come more coffee and tapped into her free wi-fi.

    Still no word from Thomas.. I pinged him again.

    I then googled "Triumph 1060 Sprint no start". The first thing I brought up was... check all fuses. I wandered back to sweating Fran and offered this tidbit to him. He snarled that he'd already checked them.


    He went back to his systematic diagnosis of a five wires, a weird LED bar and a lot of electrician's tape. I talked to the horses. The nice lady at the bakery was seen locking the front door and leaving with her husband who ran the towing service....the wi-fi was still streaming, but I had to sit next to the front door to get a weak signal.

    After a few more hours, the sun was getting lower and lower, the horses got bored and left and Fran was starting to look exasperated.

    I showed him the Triumph Forum entry on my iPhone and he grudgingly went back to recheck the fuses. The main Engine fuse was toast. Smoked. I happened to have one of these 20 amp wonders in my repair kit and donated it to the cause. In fact, I gave him all my mini fuses in the off chance that he'd need them.


    He got the bike running and repacked and we headed on down the road. Until the pavement ended with no notice whatsoever.

    Remember, I'd left my knobbie tire on the front and Fran had removed his? No bike likes running on rough gravel on street rubber, but it's geometrically worse when that bike in question is a sport bike with one blown front fork seal.

    And we were probably another 80 miles to Bella Coola... and the legendary steep grades on the Costal Range lay ahead of us. I was cool with going on, but Fran was about cooked....and continuing on to the mountain range with the bad handling on his bike overlaid with us having no idea why that 20 Amp fuse had blown....and if it would again...made us stop and think.

    Which is fairly unusual for us.

    We turned around, leaving the 18 percent grades, narrow roads and sharp switchbacks on gravel to be tackled another day.

    We regained the pavement and rode with the low sun at our backs, watching for wild life and farm animals on the road ahead of us.

    All we'd eaten this day was a cookie and coffee while Fran wrestled with the Prince of Darkness, so we were a little tired and dehydrated about now... and the large and Beautiful hand carved Wood sign on that two lane highway was irresistible advertising the Clearwater Lake Lodge... It showed a float plane taking off from a lake, advertising food, rooms, hot showers, camping.

    The hook was set.

    We rode down the steep gravel drive, around a corner and were facing a magnificent lodge set perfectly on a quiet lake with the sun setting to the West. And a somewhat concerned woman walking out to meet us.

    I raised my helmet and asked if there was indeed camping for two dusty (Fran especially) motorcyclists? With a strong German accent she said yes and pointed further down to a road that led to the lake, assuring us that there were camping spots available.

    We rode down and found a lovely point with a nice breeze and stopped our bikes by the fire ring. Our Hostess had walked down after us and she pointed out a sturdy shower building... she had ignited the boilers and we'd have hot water in a few minutes...she then invited us to come up to the lodge for food and good German beer.

    Right. Good priorities.

    We set up camp, got showered in the immaculate shower house and realized that we didn't actually have any clothing clean enough for that imposing lodge. Oh well, we left our dirty riding suits and boots behind and were at least clean enough.

    It turns out that the Husband and Wife who own and run this lodge are German... they came here to buy a business, looked at this resort over a decade ago, made an offer on the spot and bought it. 95% of their customers are German and Swiss who fly into Vancouver and then fly float plane up to this lodge. This place is so Germanic, that I got the sense that the wife was eager to practice her English on us!

    It'd been a long winter.

    We removed our footgear at the door and walked out to a fabulous balcony overlooking this pristine lake... German beer was decanted properly into a crystal glass for me, Fran had herbal tea.... and appetizers were produced as if by magic. Actually this whole thing was like magic, just a few hours earlier Fran had been lying in the dust being closely observed by a band of wild horses.

    The sun was setting, and we were invited inside. Mind you, we are the only guests here. I'm not even sure they are open for the season!

    They described their adventures up here, the age and origin of the lodge and their lives in general. We left after a second glass of beer and another tea, no cash had changed hands yet, we'd settle up in the morning.

    We walked back down to our point and called it a night. What a strange place.... we could have been in Bavaria or Austria.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 11-10-2015 at 01:12 AM.

  6. #51
    Cage Rattler wezul's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Glen Ellyn, IL
    Dang Bryan.

  7. #52
    Out There Somewhere ricochetrider's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Harrisburg, PA

    Great rr!

    I've read a LOT of really cool ride reports over the ages.
    This is right there among the top-o-the-heap RRs I've ever read.
    Certainly in the VERY top couple RRs ever posted on MOA.

    Now I'm hooked; have to try to get back here for the rest of the read!
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

  8. #53
    Out There Somewhere ricochetrider's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Harrisburg, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by garthw View Post
    Is her name Azure? Here is their ride report. He is Dutch she is American I think.
    Now you done gone and did it.
    I've subscribed to the ADVrider thread the couple is posting...
    Gonna see if I can subscribe to this thread to get reminders/updates.

    Double indemnity? Yep.
    Time vampire deux fois? Totally.
    Armchair adventure? Whatever.

    woo. freakin. hoo.

    I mean, it's not like I have anything -ahem- better to do.

    Keep it coming.
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

  9. #54
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Happy you folks like it -

    Gimme some Stars!

    And I haven't reached the parts of the story with blowing fuses, drifting hail, riding with that packed, right on full throttle sound in front of the advancing black clouds and violent storm fronts.

  10. #55
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Day 20 BC Bavaria to Idaho and camping next to an Idaho Honky Tonk

    We had promised the previous evening to come back to the lodge for breakfast the next morning. I rolled out of my tent early.. really early.. and added more oil to my final drive. I had no idea how much had leaked, therefore had no idea of how much to add. Right. 600ML felt about right.


    Better too much than not enough?

    I washed up and we walked up to the Lodge.. Gisela was waiting for us. She ushered us to an empty table next to the lakeside windows (all the tables were empty) and began to produce an absolutely astonishing breakfast. I had German coffee, Fran selected a herbal tea brewed from locally gathered plants... we had fruit garnished with local berries and finally a robust breakfast that featured fresh eggs, Bison sausages, grilled veggies, locally gathered herbs.. and I can't remember what else.

    It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

    I asked Gisela if she had been a chef back in Germany? She confirmed that she'd had quite a bit of formal training, pleased that we'd noticed. This wasn't just gourmet food, this was Foodie food... it would have fit in at the best hotels in Chicago, New York, London or Berlin. Wow.

    I settled up, the bill seemed reasonable and we headed back towards Williams Lake and thence South. This Southern area of British Columbia reminds me of the Wine Country North of San Francisco, not surprisingly this is Canada's wine country... the roads skirted beautiful lakes and dry hillsides. I know we rode through Kamloops and navigating purely by compass at this point eventually crossed into Washington State.

    Since I never planned this far ahead, I only had GPS, no paper maps. Fran assured me that when we crossed the border we'd find a Chamber of Commerce with free maps. No such luck... but compass riding is seriously underestimated.

    I did lose Fran somewhere North of Spokane, the details of his disappearance are forgotten, but we were able to eventually reconnect using cell phones, losing only 45 minutes or so.

    The arid countryside alternated with lush mountains as we rode East, crossing into Northern Idaho, through Sandpoint, down thru Coeur d Alene (really dramatic region with what looks like fantastic fishing) and Eastward from there on the Slab.

    We'd racked up 12 hours or so of riding and were getting just a little tired... and we'd also not eaten since breakfast. We spied a random off ramp and rode a half mile or so until we reached a rural crossroads with three restaurants/bars. Two of which were closed...but one had cars parked in front of it.

    Bingo. We have a habit of asking about camping options of the waitresses in the roadside dives we often frequent on these trips, they always seem to be bit more in tune than the folks who run gas stations...besides we owe them a tip, so we briefly have their attention.

    The young buxom waitress who served us was a bit challenged when we asked about camping locations...she wandered over to the kitchen and soon came back and asked if we were with the Poker Hand Riding Club since they were having a campout in the mowed area next to the bar the following evening.

    I announced that indeed we were, 'jus arrived a bit early. (I did hope that this wasn't some local branch of the Hell's Angels.... but Fran reminded me that we could certainly ride faster than any Harley if push came to shove.)

    She then smiled and said that camping was only $10 and we could use the restrooms in the bar/restaurant when they were open....which was pretty late into the evening.

    Roger that.

    We selected an area not far from the bar under a spreading Maple tree, pitched our respective tents next to our bikes, and watched as the locals began to pull in. This, it turned out was Jam night. Guitar cases began to appear and soon the sounds of country and old Rock 'n Roll began to drift out of the bar.

    I walked back in, grabbed a beer or three and enjoyed the show. During break time I wandered over and talked with the locals... one father and son team in particular were interesting ...good amateur musicians, they operated heavy equipment for a living...but they really lived for fly fishing the rivers and streams of Northern Idaho. Cell Phone pictures were produced and they sure seemed to know where and how to catch some of the biggest Trout I've ever seen.

    I went back to listen to the music, chatted with some pleasant locals and generally had a great evening... one guy asked how we'd found this place? Random Road Encounters I told him. Just pure luck and happenstance.

    On a wing and a prayer. Heading East.

    Directly into Storm Central.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 10-02-2014 at 08:49 PM.

  11. #56
    Registered User REBGEN's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Clive, IA
    Bout time you had a little respite from getting chewed up on the road. Beautiful lodge, hearty German breakfasts, and a community guitar jam at the end of a long day in the saddle beats playing dodgeball with fist-sized rocks and lacerated corneas every time!

    REALLY enjoy your road report!

    98 R1200C Canyon Red

  12. #57
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Day 21 Miles and Miles, dodging the storms and finding Sitting Bull

    "the engine responds beautifully... Seventy...Eighty...Eighty-five..we are really feeling the wind now and I drop my head to cut down the resistance...ninety. The speedometer swings back and forth but the tach reads a steady nine thousand...about ninety-five miles an hour...and we hold this speed...moving. Too fast to focus on the shoulder of the road now...I reach forward and flip the headlight switch just for safety. But it is needed anyhow. It is getting very dark.

    We whizz through the flat open land, not a car anywhere, hardly a tree, but the road is smooth and clean and the engine now has a 'packed' high rpm sound that says it's right on. It gets darker and darker..." Robert M. Persig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
    Published 1974

    We arose from our bar-side camp spot early, and left quietly. We had to log some serious miles today... the mountains we rode through were fascinating, and the roads often wet... we often found ourselves looking down on whirling clouds in the valleys.

    There were a few dicey moments on the wet mountain roads... painted lines can be scary when soaked on steep downhill runs. We stopped for lunch at a Mennonite cafe/gift shop somewhere in Montana...great value food... the entire operation was run by a family with an 11 year old boy manning the cash register. I think we spent $7 each on gigantic sandwiches, chips and tea.

    We passed on the homemade bed quilts.

    Friendly folks, the women wore bonnets and the men and boys simple clothing with suspenders. I guess I need to research these religions, they were completely comfortable in a modern building with electric everything, but dressed out of another era and time.

    The roads were dry now and we made time heading East...but there were some seriously strange weather patterns afoot with dark skies to the North and South of us and billowing white cumulus clouds above us. The wind picked up and then faded..

    We stopped for gas and I pulled out my Smart phone to check the weather...swirling bands of green, orange and red showed on the screen... moving fast from the Southwest to the Northeast. Fran turned to me and said we had to hit it hard if we were going to slip between these fronts...the biggest one still lay to the Southwest, but it was gathering speed and feeding off the land.

    We pulled out and entered the freeway throttle hands locked to full open... eyes on the road with occasional glances over our right shoulders. Faster and faster - certainly faster than Persig's run in front of the physical and emotional storms he was fleeing.

    And then the hail started... each pellet stinging like a bee sting on the backs of my hands...too fast...we simultaneously began to slow as the intensity of the storm increased and swept over us like a tidal wave.

    Fifty..forty...we suddenly found ourselves riding narrow strips of pavement with literal 2-4" drifts of hail pellets on the shoulders, in the center of the lanes and water-trapped by the ice filling and overflowing the tire tracks we were stuck in...spraying up in sheets. We had, at this point, zero options. There was a Semi behind me, a car to the front. If we'd tried to pull onto the shoulder we'd have gone down and off the freeway into the ditch.

    Or gotten run over by the Semi.

    Just like on the slick Calcium Chloride coated grades up North... all we could do was keep rolling, with no sudden movements of any type. I think I stopped breathing, praying that this section would fade away as quickly as it appeared.

    And so it did. As suddenly as we entered this disaster zone we left it. A wan sun reappeared and we began to slowly dry out.

    We reached Billings and took the spur that eventually took a Southern bend. I had programmed my Garmin to take us to Rapid City, SD... it directed me on to Rt 212 which would take us right through Custer National Forest and the National monuments dedicated to that fateful battle. Which, it turns out cuts about 70 miles off the freeway route...and is a lot more interesting!

    As I ride I usually listen to books on tape. As I rode these rolling hills, I was listening to a book on the history of Genghis Kahn and was struck by the similarities between Sitting Bull and the Kahn... a clash of Nomadic tribes against urban cultures. Custer was just a pawn in these battles.

    I highly recommend Rt. 212. A shortcut and a history lesson.

    We stopped for a break and I was struck by the vast open lands..and the cattle watching us. We stopped in Spearfish... about 800 miles this stormy day.

    Tomorow the Price of Darkness reappears. With a vengance.

    Last edited by Beemer01; 10-01-2014 at 08:02 PM.

  13. #58
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Day 22 Spearfish into the Darkness and Fran vanishes

    We spent last night in a cheap hotel and dined at a local fast food place - neither of us felt like riding to get food, so we walked. In the rain...which according to my smart phone would be with us for a while... in fact we'd get to pick which storm system would clobber us... I counted four on radar that evening.

    We rolled early ... aiming for Chicago this evening... an Iron Butt day of roughly 1000 miles. Fran's an old hand at this kind of mileage, I've done it before, but never got the certificate.

    And I wouldn't again today.

    The rain intensified as we got close to Rapid City, gusting from the South, the clouds curling over our helmets as the fronts collided. Somewhere about 20 miles East of Rapid City, Fran's Triumph went dark. Again. No lights, no engine. Directly on the narrow shoulder of the Freeway in the now pouring rain.

    I pulled up behind him, hit my flashers and offered to light a flare. I should have just lit it, but he declined to escalate the problem to flare status.

    Did you know that when a vehicle is pulled over on the shoulder with flashers on, you are supposed to either slow down or switch to the left lane? Evidently no one has updated the US Army manual as an endless convoy of huge Military lorries thundered by, just a couple of feet from our bikes.

    In the pouring rain.

    Fran was into the fuse box trying to make out which fuse had blown this time... he produced a blown ten amp fuse. I dug through the handful of fuses I've donated earlier and found a 15 amp fuse to replace it.

    I know ... a bad idea.

    But it got us rolling!

    For eight miles. And the Prince of Darkness struck again. Fran went dark and coasted to an exit ramp and then around the corner and into the parking lot of a RV Park/Tourist shop.

    And then the rain really commenced, and added hail and high wind to the mix, just for fun. I ducked into the tourist shop and was handed a cup of free coffee by the teenagers who worked there as I dripped onto the floor and waves of hail raked the metal roof of the building.

    Does anyone else think it's odd that foreign students (in the case Polish) are working summer jobs in America? Just sayin. Last summer it was the Chinese and French in the Black Hills.

    Back to the crisis of the moment. Fran was now on his back in the rainy parking lot and had decided that a bump in the road had caused a brief short in the circuit in the taillight area, and if he zip-tied up the whole mess so it couldn't move we'd be fine.

    I drained my coffee, tipped the kids running the shop and went out to my bike and saddled up.

    This time we made it ten miles...and no handy exit ramp. Again on the narrow shoulder, Fran produced another blown fuse... same fuse, this time it had popped the 15 amp model we'd installed the first time. The trouble now was that all we had left were two and five amp fuses, so these weren't going to work.

    I left Fran on the roadside in the rain, again not using a flare ...and took the next exit, so I could flip around and ride the 20 or so miles back to Rapid City. I picked the only exit in the entire State with no return ramp.

    WTF. Now I rode South to pick up a secondary road, and then took this road West back towards Rapid City.

    The rain was clearly getting worse.

    Somehow I found one of those mega truck stop things and they had a complete supply of mini fuses. I grabbed a box of assorted fuses and another box of 30 amp fuses, just in case the Prince of Darkness wanted to play hardball.

    I rode like the wind Eastward... eyes peeled trying to find the stranded Triumph and Fran. Nuttin.

    Fran later reported that a Police car had stopped and rebuked him for stopping where he did. No offers for a tow truck, no road flares, just a dressing down for stopping a dead bike there. Nice. So Fran actually had pushed the bike a third of a mile up hill to an exit ramp and then coasted down that ramp.

    I don't recall how I found him, but do recall doing an illegal U Turn on an emergency vehicle turn-around on the wet freeway, to go back after I passed him. Anyhow fuses were delivered. I discovered that Fran had started to take parts of the circuit out of the loop trying to eliminate the short that was probably somewhere on the back of the bike.

    For the time being neither of his rear blinkers worked, the rear plate lamp/brake light was out... but the LED bar functioned.

    We'd have to roll with this.

    We resumed our trip with me counting down the miles... once we exceeded ten miles on this 'fix' I figured we were in the clear.

    The cross winds and head winds this day were frightful and exhausting. Violent cross winds nearly blew us off the road and did blow us onto the shoulder more times than I could count...and when they rotated, they blew in our faces, dropping our speed and gas mileage sharply.

    We later learned that four tornados had been sighted in and around Sioux Falls during the time we were riding through. That explains a lot.

    But we ducked our heads and kept riding. Fran and I both wear one piece riding suits that are pretty good in the rain, but this day even these eventually give up the ghost in the face of continuous precipitation. These did somewhere in Southern Minnesota.

    Did I mention the wind?

    No breakfast, no lunch just riding and battling the elements..... and the Prince of Darkness.

    Somewhere as we descended into the Mississippi River Valley the rain picked up from a constant drizzle and morphed into a downpour. Again. This was also about the time that I noticed that the Triumph had disappeared in front of me ... or to be more accurate, the dim LED bar had shorted out, and I was now barely able to see Fran in the gathering gloom.

    OK, This is not a good practice for night riding in the rain.

    I radioed ahead to Fran that this was now officially a dangerous situation. We needed to stop anyhow for fuel in LaCrosse, so we pulled into a large Kwik Mart, fueled up and pulled over to a lighted and somewhat sheltered area to the side of the station.

    Fran went to work again on the mess of wiring, and I went to get a cup of coffee. And had a second cup. We went pencils down, and walked in the rain over to a local Burger King to do an assessment of our situation.

    1. Rain and no let up seen.
    2. 250 or so miles to our respective domiciles.
    3. It's dark.
    4. Fran hasn't a clue as to how to get any lights to the back of his motorcycle.
    5. We're exhausted. At least I'm exhausted.

    I therefore volunteered to get a cheap motel room in the flea-bag place across the street and we'd arise very early tomorrow and get back to Chicago for a late breakfast. Fran naturally declined and decided that though the lighting issues were probably not fixable for now, that he'd hang a blinking red LED on the back of his bike and keep riding.

    Fran is nothing if not stubborn, so away he went, quickly vanishing into the rain and darkness. I did not think this would end well... and there was still the latent matter of the engine fuse blowing at random intervals, even if he succeeded in not being run over by a Kenilworth.

    I collapsed into bed. And did make it back to Chicago the next morning. Fran, it turns out, made it home by around 3:00 AM. Safely. Against all odds.

    Coming up next - lessons learned.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 09-11-2014 at 05:32 PM.

  14. #59
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Chicago, Ill

    Lessons learned ?

    Group Chemistry is absolutely vital for any trip, but especially a grueling trip like this one. We all got along and never once did anyone grumble or complain. Three completely different personalities, all cooperated for the common good.

    Radio headsets are an important element in maintaining this good chemistry, at least for me. Being able to communicate beyond just hand signals really helps.

    Avoid time wasters, fueling stops for three bikes can be a ten minute exercise... not a 30 minute ordeal. Our group rotates who pays for the gas, so one CC fills up three tanks...faster and more efficient...and it all works out in the end. More or less.

    Everyone rides their own ride, but we stay relatively close together. NOTE ... when riding the dusty gravel roads we tend to spread out just to avoid breathing dust .. in these cases old fashioned visual connection takes over from the helmet comm systems.

    Any bike can ride any road - it's more the rider than the bike. BUT your odds improve up there dramatically if you are riding a bike specifically designed for rough terrain and bad gravel roads. If nothing else, the rider takes less abuse with that extra couple of inches of suspension travel. BMW has been doing this for a few years, but there are some other stellar machines out there as well. The smaller 650 sizes are actually better for the rough stuff ... but in my case I had to travel 10,000 miles of pavement to get there and back.

    Marginal installations and poorly designed accessories will give you headaches. My PIAA light bar, specifically designed for the R1200GS got loose and floppy at the machined slip fit connections as the constant pounding and my heavy lights took a toll. My fuel cans are a bit of a problem as well... see below. Fran experienced his problems with the electricals the previous owner had installed and his Aux fuel cell. Thomas' problems were just bad luck.

    Tire repair kits. Forget the CO2 cartridges... make sure you have an electric pump, and unless your kit is brand new, you should probably assume that the rubber cement in the tiny tube is dried up and useless. Take extra cement and gummy worms. Yes, it can happen to you.

    Learn how to ride gravel fast... someone ought to write an essay on techniques to master this, since this comprises a whole lot of the road surface up there. Loose hands, knees gripping the tank, look for the compacted lanes, ride the pegs, know how to ride Calcium Chloride flooded roads etc. etc. It's not easy, but is very, very rewarding.

    Tool kits... build a complete kit if you are heading up there. I thought I had ...but missed a bunch of key tools. It's worth the weight to carry it.

    Weight. Pack light. And then repack lighter. My entire kit, camping gear, stove, food and extra clothing was well under 40 pounds. Tools, extra fuel and spare tires are all extra.. and necessary... but keep your core gear light.

    Food... Backpacking meals are excellent, light and often necessary. Take more than you think you will need. High protein snacks often serve as meals ...Almonds, peanuts, PowerBars and for me.. Five Hour energy jolts... will keep you going. I wear a dorky looking Camelback which I fill every morning with water and Gatoraide powder to taste. And every evening it' usually empty. Stay hydrated my friends.

    Extra fuel ... I think we all agreed that Thomas' RotoPax was the best solution in the group. Compact and it didn't leak like my system. Fran's Auxiliary Fuel cell was a brilliant concept, but the mounting bracket system wasn't suitable for these conditions. My Pegpacker fuel cells were good, but on the rough roads there was an unacceptable amount of leakage at the cap due to sloshing in the plastic cans. This may be fixable with a better seal ... I'm working on it.

    Riding gear... Any time of year up there will provide you challenges. Heated gear, at least a jacket liner and gloves, are mandatory early and late season. Rain is a given, even though we selected that window where the weather is statistically the driest, we got more than our share of cold and rain. All of us wore Aerostich stuff.. it's expensive but reliable. Boots, helmets and a variety of gloves are important. There are Laundromats... so use them. Synthetic undergarments and socks are best... cotton kills.

    Time of year for this trip.. Before anyone asks why went so early in the season, permit me to list my reasons;

    1. Late May and early June are the driest weeks of the year up there statistically. Ride in steady rain for a few days and you feel like you'll never get dried out again.
    2. This is generally before the biblical level bug hatches. We found 'em, but nothing like they can be up on the Tundra later in the season.
    3. This is also before the armies of RVs arrive...for the most part. It's a lot harder to cruise on the paved roads at speed when you have to constantly be passing long lines of trucks and RVs. Add in the predictable road repairs and associated dust... early season lets you avoid a lot of this.

    I'm sure there are additional lessons and I'll add to this list as I remember them.

    Oh, one more thing. Thomas still owes me a write up on his separate adventures down in Dawson City. From a brief conversation after the trip, I understand that he had to pay $1400 to have the bike brought down from Eagle Plains - cash. And the RBS Bank refused to coorperate, so he had to have a fake bar tab created and paid cash out from that to the driver. It seems that he was 'adopted' by the town for a few days, the Mounties stopped by to see him - he was invited to people's homes for dinner, there were reportedly dancing girls, perhaps additional tatoos and more. In the end, he flew back and had his beautiful RT shipped back motorfreight to Bob's BMW for repair near where he lives. And no, I don't know how much this misadventure cost him - but we sorely missed his company after we parted.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 09-11-2014 at 09:08 PM.

  15. #60
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Thanks for taking us along, lot of head shaking on my part...both in "been there" and " oh no ,y'all are not serious"

    Great report
    Steve Henson-Mod Team and SABMWRA Prez

    Be decisive, right or wrong.The road of life is paved with
    flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision~unknown

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