Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quick Video

Here is a link to a quick video I made with clips taken on my iPhone.  Please excuse the crappy "iPhone behind bug covered windscreen" quality.

Here is the video

Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 8-Wrap up, Detours, Fender Benders

Day 8 was another day of long stretches of straight desert highways. I think in a 100 mile stretch I saw 4 cars. It was actually very relaxing not having to worry about anyone else being on the road. I guess I was so relaxed that I failed to notice I inadvertently made a pretty significant detour. That's right, another wrong turn in my scooter cannonball trip. This one was, by far, the largest "wrong turn" of them all. Have you ever seen those pictures where there is an intersection in the middle of no where and you can go one of two ways? Usually one is labeled the "right path" and the other "wrong path".  One intersection for 100 miles and I choose the "wrong path". Typical. All I can figure out is that when I was loading day 8's gas stops one of the checkpoints was removed from the route. It was still "there" but for some reason the Garmin recalculated to "shortest route" which was AROUND the Joshua Tree National park down the east side of it to interstate 10 and then on to the Salton Sea. It was when I reached interstate 10 I realized something wasn't right. I zoomed my Garmin out and sure enough the north entrance checkpoint was flagged, but no magenta route line through it. Boy was I pissed about this. I knew our points were awarded by leg and so even if you have a problem on one of the legs, as long as you complete it you get a minimum point award for it.  I knew what I had to do, enter the park at the south entrance, head north to the northern entrance and get the photo to officially complete the leg. While heading north through the park I passed a lot of cannon ballers that left an hour before I did. I just gave them "the wave" and continued on my way. I heard a lot of funny theories by these individuals about what they were thinking at the time I passed them going the wrong way. On the bright side, Joshua Tree is definitely worth seeing twice.  The roads were fun to drive and the scenery was awesome. Once I hit that northern entrance I booked it south through a great boxed canyon and an oasis in the desert surrounding the Salton sea. Patrick, the other SYM HD200 rider caught up to me, pulled up close and give a "fist bump" as we crossed the 2nd checkpoint, 200 feet below field elevation. Both of our GPS's tried taking us down a dirt road that dead ended in the desert, so we turned around and found another path. His SYM is a bit faster than mine so he took off.

I made another climb across a mountain range through the twisties which I have grown to really enjoy. It's fun and challenging to ride these roads on two wheels. At the bottom of this range I approached a stop sign behind a line of three cars. The intersection was an awkward position as crossing traffic approaches from behind your left shoulder and is partially obscured by some trees. The car in front of me pulled up and started to move. As this was happening I looked over my left shoulder for traffic and saw a car coming. I guess the car in front of me saw it as well and decided to stop. Crunch. I drove right into the back of this guys Mercedes. He threw it into park and started flailing his arms. I was expecting to get an earful, but when he got out and saw my front fender was all cracked up and no apparent damage on his car HE apologized to me. No argument there, especially since I was probably a bit too close. The whole thing was done in less than a minute. As I followed behind him a little further down the road, I noticed in the right light you could definitely see a dent in the metal above his bumper. He'll probably never notice.

I was pretty annoyed with myself at this point not only for the "fender breaker" but the detour as well, to the point I probably didn't enjoy the drive and scenery as much as I should have. All I wanted to do was finish this thing and have a beer. Someone even accused me of doing all of this on purpose so I had something to write about!  It does make for a good story, but I wasn't that desperate to material.

To cut off sometime I met up with I-8 and took it the rest of the way to San Diego. The finish line was at the facility. They threw us a great party with beer, BBQ and prizes.  As it turns out, my consistent riding throughout the last 8 days saved me from my day 8 detour. I finished 6th out of 50. The prize, a cool cannonball run hooded sweatshirt. We all eventually drove our scooters back to the hotel, which is when my scooter told me it had had enough. It won't idle anymore and stalls out at every stop light. After talking to some people I have a fairly good idea of what I need to do to remedy this. It will get some love when it gets home from shipping, perhaps the folks at second city scooters can help me out?

The cannonball run was a great adventure. Aside from the first couple hours of the run, the weather couldn't have been better. I saw so many parts of the country I've always wanted too and a lot I never had any intentions of seeing.  All of the people involved were great and very helpful, especially David (who also created the followride website). He's been putting up with a barrage of daily emails, texts and instant messages with my newbie questions. Everyone is asking if I'd do this again. As of right now I don't feel the need, but as time goes on and another scooter cannonball approaches two years from now, I bet I'll want too.

Thanks to everyone for following me on this thing, it was great to see everyone's interest. It forced me to blog daily which is something I think I will be happy I did years from now.

Scooter next to a Joshua Tree

The beginning of the second trip through JTNP

Entering the "boxed canyon" just south of JTNP

Last checkpoint before San Diego

My first fuel up of the CBR was with this gas can (not planned).  I did,  however, plan to use my last gallon of gas as my final fill up of the CBR,
Something is not right here......
Final check in photo of the 2012 CBR
The party hadn't started yet, I got there a bit early

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cross country complete!

I've arrived. I have some stories of a dumb ass named Patrick. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The best day yet!

Today was the trip from Show Low, AZ to Parker, AZ and it was an awesome ride!  Started out at the usual time, 5:50 am or so from Show Low. The temperature was 36 when I left. When I initially started the scooter in the morning it sounded funny in the variator/clutch area and that had me concerned. Finally, Dave said "it's just cold" and "even if there is something wrong you have no parts to fix it". Good point, so on I went. Turns out it sounded just fine after riding it for a while (Dave is usually right about things).  I had checked the forecast the night before and knew of the temperature drop so was ready. I dressed as follows from the feet up;

-long johns
-track pants
-riding pants
-under armor
-long sleeved shirt
-thermal jacket insulator
-wind breaker 
-putter shell of jacket
-rain gloves

The combo worked well, except for my hands, they were frozen. Perhaps if I do another CBR, I will invest in heated grips. Keep in mind I had all of this on as I descended into the 100 degree Arizona desert and at my last fuel stop I ditched as much as I could without eating up too much time.

The ride was beautiful. It was exactly what I was looking forward too on the CBR. High mountains, forrest, twisty roads and desert. The route went through some really cool towns. The most memorable of which was Jerome, I'll be going back there. I had caught up to two other riders and followed them through Jerome where we proceeded to get lost. The roads were weird and at one point we were heading back down the mountain. The views along the mountain ridge were awesome to the point where I had to stop and snap some photos and turn on the iPhone video camera, times be damned. 

It got really warm as I descended into the desert. As long as I kept moving I didn't get overly hot. The last 100 miles were straight and flat Arizona desert, but it didn't bore me like Texas and New Mexico did. I enjoyed the ride and the 100 miles was just long enough to keep me interested and keep me from getting bored. I made a performance enhancement last night that I didn't mention to too many people. Not because its some super secret enhancement but because I'm an idiot. It's the most basic thing in the book on any type of vehicle. Tire pressure. Of course I checked it before I left Chicago, but we had climbed and descended 9000 feet and had seen temperatures from 36 to 105. I was 10 pounds low on each. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Between the lower elevation and the tire pressure I think I gained about 3 to 4 MPH and probably at least a few MPG. Hard knocks university, that's exactly what the Cannonball Run is.

In the desert I saw what looked like smoke on the horizon. Turns out, it was a dust devil/tornado thing. I guess they don't only exist in the cartoons. Also, in the desert, a plastic bag I had stuffed under my wind screen flew up, covered my helmet so I couldn't see anything and acted as a sail and pulled my head back. I guess that doesn't just exist in movies/cartoons either. All of this at 65 MPH. Good thing I was on straight and flat road!

Tomorrow is the last day. We head south from here through Joshua Tree National Park. I've always wanted to see this and cannot wait. I think it will be another "times be damned" kind of thing as I will be taking pictures. We also go to -200 feet below sea level. 

I got some video of the twisted and am going to put it into a short clip and upload later tonight, so watch for that. 

Not sure I'll be able to do a wrap up tomorrow or not, big party at the finish line that is being put on by a big scooter dealership!

The beginning of the twists


Checkpoint number 2

One of those "stop for photo" places

The Arizona desert behind me

Dust devil

Desert scooter

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another David Bednarski Time Lapse

Highly recommend you check out the time lapse from the ride today. Good scenery! Bnski did another good job!

It's the latest post on his blog;

Day 6-Long, Windy, Cold

I'm very thankful the CBR gods reminded me of the temperature changes with elevation yesterday. Yesterday was chilly, today was frigid. Luckily with yesterday's experience I dressed warm. Started out in Roswell at about 5:50 am and 60 degrees, so I was a bit warm initially. About an hour outside of Roswell the temperature dropped and continued to do so for the next 3 hours and 5000 feet of additional elevation. On top of the cold temperature we had BIG winds. I think the temperature felt about 30 degrees, but the scooter liked it as it ran quite cool. What the scooter didn't like was the elevation. I lost a lot of performance in the high elevations but overall it ran normal. My top speeds at altitude without wind was around 50. With the winds, I was lucky if I could hit 50 going down hill. It was brutal.

I would say New Mexico redeemed itself in regards to scenery. Yesterday's scenery was wildly boring in eastern NM. West NM, however, was beautiful. Lots of hills, some twisty turns and mountains. But it wasn't without its boredom. The areas out by the Very Large Array and White Sands/Trinity Site had some very looooooong, flat and straight roads. I really enjoyed the ride though and hope to make it out here again to stop and see things more in depth than what I'm able too on the CBR.

I think I missed a fuel stop, but luckily stumbled across a random gas station that only had 87 octane gas. My scooter is supposed to have 90 or above, but I was on empty and rolled with the 87. There was another rider there in the same boat. Then we pulled out of the parking lot and about 100 yards up was a nice big modern Phillips 66 gas station with pay at the pump and everything. Oh well, the scooter performed fine with the 87.

Still no signs of the engine bogging down like in day 4, thankfully. Hoping the fuel filter was it. The only other variable that hasn't been present since that happened is the heat, which I'll get at the end of tomorrows ride. If it doesn't happen I can rule out vapor lock. Tomorrow is going to be about the same distance as today but it's going to be very twisty. It will probably end up around 8.5 to 9 hours vs today's 7 hours. Hopefully the twists make it go by faster, by making it interesting. The temperature when we start out will be in the 30s and when we end it will be near 100. That makes logistics a bit challenging in terms of clothing, but I think I'll go thermals all the way and sweat out the last 80 miles while we descend into Parker.

We had another scooter drop out today, he seized his engine. It's also a SYM, but a different model. It only has 6000 miles and is less than 2 years old. Kind of unnerving. Another guy is partially disabled because he got bitten by a brown recluse spider but he is still able to ride. Jacked his hand
all up. Those things freak me out.

That's it for now, I'll post again in Parker!