Monday, July 30, 2007

Farkle Shelf for Maria

Temps in the low to mid 90s and sunny.

An eventful day today, I finished one work contract and starting a new one tomorrow with United Airlines. I said my goodbyes to my teammates and left shortly after lunch, finishing off the day from home.

On a more interesting note for you readers I am sure, the BMR Accessory Shelf that I bought from a guy on the IBMWR mailing list arrived today! Took me less than 30 minutes to mount all the stuff up, most of that time trying to figure out how things went in terms of the additional mounting pieces he threw in for a modest amount on top of the price of the shelf itself.

Leftmost bracket is for an XM Radio

Center pedestal-looking mount is supposed to be cellphone tongue for under the shelf but will use it here instead to hold the Nokia N800 till I decide on a more permanent RAM solution

Rightmost bracket is for a Valentine V1 Radar Unit, I imagine it'll work fine for most radar units. I don't have one right now.

I am most pleased with this set of farkle shelving/mounts for Maria, got a good deal of hardware for a very good price I believe. Now for some ram mounts......

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My first attempt at movies while riding....

Overcast skies, temps from the mid 70s in the front range to mid 60s in the mountains and later 80s back in the front range.

About a 150 mile loop today, I took the 470 slab over to Wadsworth Blvd and took my favorite entry road into the foothills: Deer Creek Canyon.

Once at Fenders, I headed North on Turkey Creek Rd, past Tiny Town until I got to US285 which I headed North on for a little bit until I could get on the road towards Evergreen and Kittredge. This was a decently winding road which eventually got me to CO74 and Kittredge which I took towards Evergreen.

Once past Evergreen, I made my way towards Bergen Park and from there took part of the Lariat Loop Trail by getting on CO 103 or Mt Evans Road. This is a very twisty and steep at times road leading up to Echo Lake, the Echo Lake Lodge, and the entrance to the Mt Evans road that leads to the top of the mountain itself.

I'd been up there before on Maria so I instead donned my jacket liner since the temps were now in the 60s and it was chilly. I rode down CO 103, past Echo Lake:

Shortly after Echo Lake park, I spotted this sign which of course I had to photograph Maria next to, they really do mean it by the way, steep and twisting. A really nice ride down.

On the way down, I put the camera which was mounted on the steel shelf mentioned in previous posting into movie mode. It shoots about 33 seconds worth of video at the push of a button so I thought I'd see it'd do while on a moving motorcycle. Below are the best ones of the lot I shot while winding my way down CO 103.

Sadly, the camera I was using only shoots movies in 33 second increments so you only get a brief glimpse of the curves one negotiates while making one's way down the mountain towards Idaho Springs and I-70.

I think any future movie attempts on my part will have to wait until I get the BMR shelf in place on Maria and work out a way to prevent the reflections you can see of the handlebars on the windshield.

I took the 70 slab eastward and got off on the CO 6 exit towards Golden, another winding road with some tunnels thrown in. The road follows a creek which winds its way down some pretty tall canyon walls, very nice and scenic ride. Once in Golden, I headed on south and got back on the 470 slab and back home since I'd filled up the capacity of the media card on my camera.

A nice little ride, with many twisty roads to liven things up.

Friday, July 27, 2007

An Ad-Hoc camera mount for this weekend's riding

Funny how one thing leads to another in terms of farkle for the motorcycle.

It all started when once again I got the bug to get an accessory shelf for Maria. The one I had finally settled on was the BMR Shelf for an R1150RT. I had spotted this shelf on a RT at the West Bend Rally in Wisconsin:

This is not Maria, but shows the shelf I wanted

Some shopping around and I found the price to be $135 from the manufacturer. So out go the postings on the various bike forums and mailing lists I am part of. The very next day, I get an email with an offer to sell the shelf at a good price and I snapped it up. It should be here early next week! Can't wait!

So, what's this got to do with this weekend you ask? Well, while shopping around for the BMR Shelf, I had found another site where they made shelves for Big Mak tankbags. They only made them for the shorter bags (up to 3" in height), not the big honker like the one I have though. However, a look at their pics and I was able to replicate their design but taller to fit my tankbag.

Here's what gave me the idea from the Manic Salamander Website:

I did a proof of concept on it before I bought the BMR shelf too, it proved that with my Nokia N800 GPS unit in place, it blocked my view of the telltales and I did not like it. My tankbag is too high you see, the bag above is only 3" tall. My bag is closer to 6" tall!

So there I stood today, with what I thought was a useless metal shelf for the tank bag. Then lightning struck, I recalled an email exchange I'd had with a fellow rider about taking pics while riding. I dug out my small camera tripod, secured it onto the front of the metal shelf I'd created and voila, camera mount for Maria while moving!

Took her out and found the mount, which rests on the tankbag's support frame and platen, shakes quite a bit. I'll have to work on reducing the bouncing but as you can see, it takes pictures within the bearable range:

Why do this? Just doing a proof of concept as to usability of the metal shelf I fabricated for my tank bag, and to see how easy and safe it will be to mount the camera on my incoming BMR shelf next week for a more permanent type solution. I can see some real potential for this metal shelf in addition to the BMR shelf which will be permanently bolted onto Maria's cockpit.

Here's some pics of the metal shelf, holding the tripod, on my tankbag and motorcycle:

So, this metal shelf will suffice until I get the BMR shelf next week. After that, who knows, perhaps it'll serve as supplemental farkle parking space. Perhaps it'll join the other items I've bought for my motorcycle which did not quite work out. That's half the fun though, isn't it?

Ice Cream Cake and a Motorcycle

It was my loving wife's birthday and I decided at the last minute, almost, to get her an ice cream cake from the Dairy Queen for her birthday celebrations.

There was only one hitch, the decision had been made while I was at work, and I had commuted to work on my motorcycle as I normally do whenever possible.

No problem I said to myself, I am sure the cake will come in a square box which I can lash to my cargo rack on my motorcycle!

So I leave work later, get to the DQ, and nope....they don't come in boxes anymore apparently, they come in plastic, roundish covered containers. The owner of the DQ was kind enough to hunt around for a box but they only two he found were either too small for the cake or too large for the motorcycle. No problem.

I carry these small bungee cords on the motorcycle and they sure came in handy today:

As you can see, pretty secure though it did tend to make my Big Mak Airbag a bit top-heavy! : )

Got the cake home just fine, just took it real easy on the curves on the way back to the house, trying to not lean over too much.

Where there is a will, there is a way!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A set of amusing Motivational Posters

I found the link to these motivational posters in the Rounders Discussion Board I tend to frequent. I thought some of them amusing enough to post the link to the whole set and a couple I liked a lot:

Full list of posters is found here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Building my own manometer

As alluded to in my previous post, I gathered the materials to build my own manometer out of materials readily available at your local hardware store.

It took me less than 30 minutes to put it all together, most of that time getting the oil to settle into the loop. I used the "suck on one end with the other end of the tubing in an oil container" method to add the oil. I used some leftover 10w40 engine oil for my motorcycle. I thought about adding food coloring but as you can see, you can read the level of the oil easily enough.

Materials involved:
1 x 4ft Metal Ruler from Lowes: $6
1 x 20ft Length of 5/16 Clear Vinyl tubing: $2.39 from Home Depot
8 x 12" Wire Ties @ .06 cents each.

Total: $8.87, and apparently based on some postings on discussion boards I frequent, more sensitive/accurate than a Twinmax Carburator Synchronizer that comes ten times more! Such a deal. Almost makes me want to take Maria's fairings off and do a throttle body sync, almost but not quite. : )

A Bungee cord will hold it suspended near the motorcycle next time I do a TBS.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Got my Rustic Roads Patch

Wow, talk about quick service from the Wisconsin agency in charge of their Rustic Roads program.

I sent them an email on Monday applying for the patch and attaching pictures of the ten Rustic Road signs I had managed to find. Not only did I get a confirmation email from an actual person but today got the patch in the mail!

When my loving wife saw the envelope with the forbidding return address boldly stamped "Wisconsin State Patrol", she says "oh oh" in tones of "What did you do!?"

I must admit I was a bit worried but then we both realized it had to be the Rustic Road patch and there it was. : )

My First TBS + Riding sans Fairings

Temps in the low to mid 90s, thunderstorms forecasted for the afternoon/evening. Sunny most of the day.

Last night I changed the oil on Maria, it was quite dirty after only 3000 miles of riding, but it was some hard riding to Wisconsin and back!

This morning I removed her fairings, cleaned and oiled her K&N Filter (which was filthy), checked her valve clearances and found the exhaust valves on the left side a smidgen too tight so they were adjusted. The other valves were just fine so I left them alone. After I had replaced the head covers and remounted the front turn signal assemblies; I rode on over to a friend's house to learn to use his manometer to do a throttle body sync after my valve clearance checks.

Rob uses a setup similar to the one below, except that he had his rigged up for four carburetors which is what his 2006 Kawasaki Concours has. After some trial and error, he modified his manometer to be close to what is shown below and we used it successfully to ensure both idle and off-idle vacuum readings were even. This means that both throttle bodies are drawing the same amount of vacuum which means they're working in balance as I work the throttle. It makes for a smoother ride. Maria did seem a bit smoother during the ride home afterwards but then again I could be imagining it. : )

The manometer was sure easy to use and the guide I'd found on the internet on how to do it with a twinmax carburetor synchronizer came in handy as well even though we were not using a twinmax. Here's the guide.

I'll be building myself one soon, in time for the next 6000 mile service which will involve yet another valve clearance check and the subsequent throttle body sync.

Once I got home I realized that part of the 36k service is the replacement of the spark plugs. I dashed over to the dealer, maria still sans fairings:

Once at the dealer I got two for the main spark plug and two for the secondary spark plugs. Apparently the secondary ones burn a bit hotter than the main plugs, this to relieve some of the surging issues that earlier 1100s and 1150s had which BMW never admitted to even exist. One thing though, BMW is sure proud of their Bosch NGK spark plugs! I ended up paying $10 for the main plugs and $12 for the secondary plugs! Wow. I think next time, look online. I am all for supporting the local dealers but geez....$10 for ONE spark plug?

Part Numbers
Main Spark Plugs: 12-12-7-653-771
Secondary Spark Plugs: 12-12-7-681-415
Make sure you match the six digit(?) alphanumeric when you swap spark plugs, it's apparently important to have the hotter ones underneath.

I also managed to break the weird plastic spark plug connector remover tool. Had to use vise grips which marked up the connectors but not too badly. I'll have to buy a replacement next week, it's only $3 so what the heck.

Though tempted, I forewent the removal and replacement of the alternator belt since it looked to be in fine shape when I looked at it before the trip, I'll still have the spare with me in case it breaks of course.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Summary Notes re N800 and Navicore GPS Kit

Having completed an almost 3000 mile trip on my motorcycle while using the Navicore GPS Kit and software on my Nokia N800, I thought I'd post the lessons learned before I forget them.

Good Stuff:

1. Navicore software recalculates pretty fast when you deviate from gps-recommended route.

2. Screen is usable even in bright daylight if you:
a. Provide a sunscreen of sorts
b. Ensure you're at brightest display level, and make the mod on your N800 to allow a timeout of 60 minutes so you're not having the screen dim itself every five minutes.
c. Map screen is really nice and visible on overcast days.
d. The windshield mount, coupled with my adjustable windshield on the motorcycle allowed for minute angle adjustments to deal with glare, sometimes even while on the move if all it took was lowering or raising my windscreen a tiny bit. Properly mounted, it is quite sturdy and stayed affixed during the whole trip with no problem when the motorcycle hit bumps and rough pavement.

3. The gps receiver that comes with the kit worked flawlessly. It will take a couple of minutes to lock on to satellites for a fix when you turn it on but after that, no problems.

4. The voice prompt volumes are loud enough to hear on a motorcycle IF you're using earbud earphones. Don't count on hearing anything from the N800 otherwise at speeds greater than say, 30mph.

Not so good or "gotchas":

1. The USA maps are split between West and East USA. I happened to be traveling where they split (my guess is the missisippi was used as border). So when doing route planning, you have to remember which map to load, east or west USA. This causes the gps some confusion as well when you cross this border. Confusion such as not displaying roads, or trying to get you back to a road it actually knows about even though its wrong way to go. Oh, it also interferes with route planning since if your destination is an address on the other mapset, it'll not find it in searches. You have to get to the city first, then try it again once you've switched to the other mapset.

2. Wish there was a button to stop the nagging when you turn off the planned route for fuel. A bit annoying.

3. If you want the most direct route, pick "shortest route", otherwise it might not be the route you wanted. I kept forgetting to check which option was toggled and sometimes the route recommended was not what I wanted to use. Route recalculation comes into play here.

4. When you pick your destination under "find destination", the whole route flashes very briefly on the screen before returning to street level. I wish you had the option to look at it more thoroughly, THEN press a continue button for it to start guiding you at street level.

5. As with most GPS, not very good at giving you the "big picture" in terms of routing. It's best to carry a paper map with you covering several states around you. I did not, ended up taking a "fastest route" routing that took me way out of the way. See points 3 and 4 above.

6. The N800 is not waterproof, be prepared to put into waterproof bag/case when rain hits. At that point in my case, you're down to voice prompts. Which aren't bad, I just found that it helps to look at the map too when deciding to act on a voice prompt.

7. Halfway through the trip, the N800 would sometimes report "not charging" even when the charger was plugged in and supplying current. I had to, at those points, remove and put back in the charger plug, sometimes several times, before the N800 would report "charging".
Update: Turns out it was the charger I bought from ebay causing the issue, once I got the right one, no more problems with charging on the go.

8. Re the N800's Hildon GUI, to me the Navicore icon was virtually impossible to see in bright sunlight (it's black and red). Best thing to do at this point is try and click the home arrow at bottom of taskbar and select then from menu of open applications. Perhaps switching to new theme will help. No big deal either ways. This only came into play when wanting to switch between Navicore GPS app and my media player.

9. The N800 screen is responsive to a gloved finger's touch, some of the buttons in the apps are pretty small though. YMMV. Found myself wishing for a stylus attached to my glove's fingertip at some points.

10. The mount that comes with the kit is not lockable of course, so sometimes I had to de-rig my setup when going in for breaks and away from the motorcycle. Most times, I left it on the motorcycle, but with the zipper hiding it from easy view. A lockable mount would be really nice.

11. N800's screen not usable to me when using polarized sunglasses or dark helmet visor. YMMV.

Summary: Nice piece of kit, worked great to get me to addresses I'd never been to before. Loved the voice prompts for the most part, it would have been nice if the voice prompts said the street name that it wanted you to turn on but for the most part it was clear enough based it on displaying the name on the screen. Assuming of course if the glare did not make it hard to read.

I'll probably end up buying the Navicore kit for personal use once I have to return the trial kit back to the Womworld people. Hopefully upgrades by Navicore in the future will resolve some of the things I ran into in the gotchas above.

Still on the fence re the windshield mount, it works well, but aesthetically on a motorcycle, probably a different mount in the future for me. I think I found a sunshade for it but it'll have to wait till I decide on mounting hardware.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

BMWMOA Rally Trip - Day 7 Going Home

Mileage Start: 35732
Mileage End: 36364
Total for today: 632
Total for the Trip: 2963

Left Kearney, MO at 0547hrs Mountain Time and arrived back in Centennial, CO at 1556hrs Mountain time. Long day, specially the last hour or so as I neared home. Again, Maria did well though still idling rough even after I tried a bottle of fuel injector cleaner.

Not much to report on riding through Kansas, it's truly as boring as has been reported along the I-70 slab. The temps, like yesterday, were in the high 90s and I saw it go to 101 on my onboard thermometer! I was drinking water constantly, stopped several times to soak down my cooling vest and did fine. No headaches and only some mildly chapped lips.

Did not really use the GPS as I was sticking to the I-70 Slab and it was a straight shot to Denver from Kansas City.

Kept hoping for rain but the skies remained barely overcast at times, mostly it was sunny and hot. At least the heat was less humid in Colorado than it was in MO/KS, now those states were humid!

Home safe and sound, cleaned up Maria and dealt with the rough idling issue by turning what I believe to be the throttle adjustment screw 1.5 times to the left till the idling smoothed out a bit. I'll watch it the next few days for any issues.

Some notes about long distance riding:

1. Cooling vest, wicking shirt/shorts and camelback are key items. Don't leave home without them. The initial cooling effect once moving again is quite enjoyable even though it will fade.
2. I must remember to keep the pillion seat clear so I can slide back onto it to relieve sore points on my butt and also allow my legs to hang free and still remain clear of the pavement.
3. Standing up for a few seconds on the pegs really helps with the sore knees.
4. When the "gas low" warning light comes on, I only have 1/4 gallon left!
5. Don't overpack! My heavy and overpacked with unneeded items duffle bag is coming back with my wife on the plane.
6. Stupid cagers will pass you only to cut in front of you to exit shortly thereafter.
7. At least for me, eat lightly if at all during your stops, it prevents "food comma" where one gets sleepy while riding. I made sure to have some breakfast, no lunch, and a big dinner. Only got sleepy a couple of times in spite of this but simply stopped at that point for a few minutes. Drinking water helps keep you awake.
8. Keep some snack handy in your tankbag that you can grab with gloved hands, and that you don't have to unwrap to eat! Today is was Gummi Worms. : ) I am thinking JellyBelly beans next time I do this.
9. Consider some method to carry an additional gallon of fuel somehow. I almost ran out of fuel on the way to Kearney while in Iowa. Quite worrisome.
10. Border welcome signs can rush past if you're not paying attention! Never did get the one for Iowa!

Am now past 36k, Maria is due another valve lash clearance check this weekend along with an oil change I think. I will probably also replace the alternator belt and if the replaced belt is in good shape, will carry it as the spare.

BMWMOA Rally Trip Day 6 - Going Home by way of Missouri

Start Mileage: 35056
Mileage End: 35732
Total for today: 676

Started off early from Menomenee Falls in the midst of some light rain and wet roads. got sprinkled on a couple of times but nothing that lasted more than a few seconds. I was totally relying on the GPS to get me to Kearney, MO. I told it, probably mistakenly, to get me there via fastest route mode. I told it this from outside Madison, WI. Somehow, it decided that the fastest way was up towards Rochester, MN, THEN South towards Des Moines! On the plus side, I got to add another state to the list of states I've ridden my motorcycle in, on the negative side, it probably cost me an hour or two of travel time.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful, I resorted to all known methods of dealing with sore knees and sore butt. In combination, they made the ride quite bearable and in combination with tunes and digital books on my Nokia N800 helped the miles roll by and I completed the trip to Kearny in 11 hours. Long trip.

Maria's been running a bit rough on idle since yesterday, I am hoping it's the ethanol in the gas sold in Wisconsin. I'll try a bottle of fuel injector cleaner in her during tomorrow's ride.

Spent the night with friends that had moved to Kearney from Colorado. Thanks Gary and Sandy!

Friday, July 13, 2007

BMWMOA Rally Trip - Day 5

Mileage Start: 34755
Mileage End: 35056
Total for Today: 301

Today was the second day of the Rally being open, and last day for me as I must ride to Kearney, MO tomorrow on my way back to the Denver area.

The whole family went and it gave the boys a chance to look over some of the motorcycles in the parking lot. I could not get them into the vendor area but they seemed ok with it. They went off to visit more friends and I stayed at the Rally.

My youngest with a sidecar rig

I walked around a bit but there was really nothing new for me. I checked to see if my ticket number had won any of the daily prize drawings, nothing. Finally, after much wandering around fruitlessly, I secured a "Rustic Roads" book from the hospitality center (should have done that much earlier it seems) and went off in search of the remaining two Rustic Roads I needed to have ten total for the patch award.

In between the last two rustic roads, I rode by Lake Michigan and took these shots just north of the city of Manitowoc and before the city of Two Rivers.

Lake Michigan, that's Manitowoc in the distance

Finally, I realized that the state border with Michigan was way too far for the limited time I had and I turned back to meet with the husband of my wife's cousin Sarah: Steve. He's got a 1980 Honda Goldwing predecesor, not sure of the exact nomenclature, but it was the 900cc version. I got to his house near West Bend soon after 1600hrs and off we went for what turned out to be a nearly 70 mile ride through Dodge County.

Steve, on his 1980 Honda Goldwing Predecessor he bought from my father-in-law

Steve took me through some pretty scenic farm countryside roads, I even spied the spires of the Holy Hill Church which apparently is world famous. We did not get close enough for me to take pictures though, maybe next time, if there is one. We ended up the ride at Augustine Road which is Rustic Road 33 which I'd found yesterday! We made our way back to Steve's house and after some conversation I went to go back to my wife's relatives' house where we'd been staying.

I noticed as I turned the engine on that the brake warning light was on! Damn, I tried turning the engine off and back on, no go, the brake warning light was on. Double-Damn, I thought perhaps my brakes had failed, specifically the ABS. I tried the brakes as I rode out of the neighborhood and they seemed fine. So I kept going towards Menomonee Falls, all the time wondering where the nearest beemer dealer would be so they could check out the bike. About halfway to Menomonee Falls, it occurs to me it might be a fuse since the brakes were obviously working. Then when near the house I thought it might be the brakelight itself that was not working and so the working. This thought came to me since most posting I'd read about the ABS failing on these bikes resulted in a blinking brake warning light and mine was steady on.

Got home safely, went to check the brakelight and it was not working! I could hear the ABS servos working so that reassured me it was probably a fuse issue. I accessed the fuses, and could not find any that were burned out. I took out a few and placed them back in, then I unsecured the brake light assembly to check the wiring, everything seemed fine.

OK, I thought, multimeter time. I got my wife to actuate the brake lever while I positioned myself at the wires and damned if the brakelight didn't work! I replaced no fuses, moved no wires and now it was all working and the brake warning light was gone from the console. Damn.

I am thinking perhaps it was a loose fuse, at least I hope that's what it was. A loose wire would be a pain in the butt to troubleshoot while riding home 1200 miles! I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Planning to ride 600 miles tomorrow, should be in Kearney, MO NLT 1800. I'll be overnighting with a friend who used to be our next door neighbor before they moved out to MO to be closer to their families.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

BMWMOA Rally Trip - Day 4

Mileage Start 34660
Mileage End 34755
Total for today: 95

Today was the opening day for the BMWMOA International Rally in West Bend, WI. I've never seen so many beemers in one place!

The GPS got me there with no issues and it was quite near to where I was staying with family. You could spot the tents and scads of bikes from the highway so no problems finding the place regardless.

The rally was well organized, was registered with no problems, spent the day perusing all the vendors that show up at such things and found some good deals for myself. Got a new mesh jacket to replace the one on Ebay which has turned out to be not as satisfactory as I'd like. I got a Firstgear Tex-Mesh 2, gray and black, really nice. I am now officially an old man motorcyclist as well, have purchased and enjoying the use of a back support belt! Lastly, some yellow tinted clip-on lenses for my glasses for night driving.

As I mentioned before, hundreds, if not thousands of beemers in the parking lot and on the grassy areas amongst the many tents for those fellow riders who were camping at the rally.

Around 1400 hrs, I decided to go for a ride and hunt down some more "Rustic Roads" to add to the six I found yesterday. A little bit of internet searching of the WI DOT site and I set off towards the west away from West Bend. I managed to find two of the roads before I had to head back to the relatives for dinner.

Less than 100 miles of riding today, spent most of the day at the Rally. Will probably head back there tomorrow for a little bit to see if anything new has shown up. I should get the remaining two rustic roads tomorrow that I need to qualify for the Wisconsin Rustic Roads Patch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

BMWMOA Rally Trip - Day 3: On to Wisconsin and I find six of its Rustic Roads

Mileage Start: 34445
Mileage End: 34660
Total for today: 215

Early start today, my army buddy has to be at work at 0600 so I asked him to wake me so I could not only say goodbye and thanks but to also escape the area before the morning rush.

I rode by the river, the St. Charles I believe. I relied on the gps to get me out of the area and northbound towards Lake Geneva, WI. The gps took me along several county roads all the way to the Wisconsin border and to Lake Geneva with ease.

I got on the net at the coffee shop and located six "rustic roads" that were either near me or on the way to today's final destination of Menomonee Falls, WI. For the most part the maps and info provided by the WI DOT along with the gps to put me on their near vecinity, made the six roads I rode to easy to find. The last one, #86, was missing its "rustic road" sign on the southern end but luckily the other end had one which I got my final picture of the day of.

An example of a Rustic Road Sign which was my goal

I then made my way to Menomonee Falls and dropped off my bag with my wife's Aunt and Uncle. I then went to the Milwaukee airport to meet with the wife and kids. Found out the hard way that they don't allow motorcycles in the regular parking garage. Of course, did they make obvious by posting signs BEFORE you're sitting at the damn automated ticket booth with cagers stacking up behond you? Noooooooo...

Finally met up with my family and got them into a rental cage and we got to experience rush hour in Milwaukee which apparently is in full force before 4pm. Fortunately, the weather peaked on the low 80s and although it was sunny there was a cool breeze through most of the state which made riding around most enjoyable.

1259 miles since the trip started on Monday. First day we racked up 685 miles, not too bad for a rookie like myself. I found Maria a bit short on oil this evening as I checked her out so she got a bit to bring the oil level to midpoint on the sight glass.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

BMWMOA Rally Trip, Day 2, Iowa and Illinois

Start Mileage: 34085
End Mileage: 34445
Total Miles: 360
Dave and I left West Des Moines around 0800 and continued heading east on the I-80 slan until we neared Davenport where we were looking for State road 1 to take us to Anamosa where one of the BMWMOA rally contributing writers had said was the home of the National Motorcycle Museum.

I was following the directions from the gps and it led me north from the slab on an expressway west of what we wanted. In fact, it could not even find Route 1 on the map! I finally figured out that I had to switch back to the Western USA map database and lo and behold there was the road we'd been riding on for several miles already! You'd think the Navicore software folks would have designed in some smarts into their gps software to invoke the right database when a user is traveling in the border areas!

Regardless, we get to Anamosa around 1100, secured the motorcycles and paid the $7.00 to tour what turned out to be quite the collection of antique/unusual/classic/unique motorcycles and related items. The museum is worth a stop is you're near it.

Here's some of the many motorcycles on display at the museum:

I liked this German Army Motorcycle


From the movie "Easy Rider"

A Steam-Powered Motorcycle!

We had lunch after the museum at the Anamosa Family Restaurant which had been highly recommended by the same author. Here both Dave and I tried the Reuben sandwich. We both found the sandwich a bit "wanting" and cannot recommend it. Service was good but whatever you do, don't get the reuben!

Here's Dave before he headed off towards the North

Here I am after touring the museum

We headed out of Anamosa using 64. We followed this eastward for quite a while until we reached the Missisippi river and crossed over into Illinois. Here's where Dave and I parted ways with him headed north to Wisconsin in search of pics of himself at Rustic Roads to hopefully qualify for a patch under that Wisconsin tourism program.

Bridge near Savannah, IL

I headed south on 64 which eventually turned into Illinois 26 and which took me south to the town of Polo. I tanked up here, got my bearings and pointed the gps at Batavia, IL where I had planned to overnight with an army buddy of mine and family.

I'd been watching storm clouds; over SE Illinois all afternoon as I got nearer and nearer to them. The roads I was on showed signs of recent recent rain and things cooled down nicely feom the beastly heat of the morning. Unfortunately, I managed to catch up with the storms and got pretty much rained on once I crossed under I-88 and started heading east on state 30. Had to stop in the town of Hinckley about 20 miles west of Aurora and seek shelter from the now pretty heavy rain. I used a self carwash place's empty bay, finished stowing away my electronics and followed my friend's directions into Batavia by way of IL47 to Main Street and my friend's house.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ride to BMWMOA Rally - Day 1: corn, corn, corn, corn....

Mileage Start: 33401
Mileage End: 34085
Total Today: 684 in 12.5hrs including stops.

We departed Centennial, CO at 0705 and arrived at west West Des Moines at 1940 mountain or 2040 central, almost 12 hrs of saddle time. Dave was my riding companion for the day, he rode from the Bay Area in California. He rides a 99 r1100rt, black and farkled up. He must have been getting 50mpg or better because he said he could go 300 miles on one tank! His bike has a six gallon tank vice mine which only has 5.5 gallons worth of capacity.

We made good time thru NE using the I-80, insert your favorite corn fields joke here. The morning temps were mild once we got out of Colorado, it was in the mid-50s when we started off! It got warmer and more humid as we made our way eastward, curiously we both also noted how the height of the corn stalks seemed also higher as we moved eastward.

My butt and knees did pretty well and I got in some long distance riding testing for the Navicore gps software on my n800 internet tablet.

Besides the issues with glare from the sun, discovered a couple of other behaviors on the part of the gps software that one should be aware of.

1. It apparently defaults to using the shortest route setting when you have it find a route to the day's destination. This was Des Moines, IA for today's ride. We wanted to slab it the whole way there but that apparently is not the shortest way. Each time I neared an exit the gps would prompt me to exit and take the county road nearby! Finally realized why it was doing this and I was able to switch the settings to 'fastest route' and that caused the prompts to quit.

2. Found out that although the gps poi listing permitted me to find a motel for the night while we were having dinner in a Cracker Barrel restaurant near Omaha, it proved a bit difficult to bring up the utility gui to designate our motel of choice as a waypoint. I also tried to designate it as a favorite but in that I was unsuccessful. Still, it directed me surely to the motel I had chosen.

Almost 12hrs of saddletime today, Maria did great as usual. No cager incidents to report for me though David did have a close call with some idiot cager in Omaha which we manage to hit right at rush hour!

Dave and I go our separate ways after we get through the rest of Iowa tomorrow. He'll head North to Wisconson to explore some of its designated Rustic Roads and I head over to Batavia, IL to see an old army buddy of mine and spend the night at his house.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Packing for the BMWMOA Rally Trip

Final day before the big trip to Wisconsin. I worked till 0400 this morning helping out with a network change which went well. Got up around 0930 or so, started work on packing the motorcycle up. Tried strapping the duffel bag down lengthwise at first and took her out for a ride. Found the duffel shifted to the sides a bit too easy, so tightened the straps down when I got home after tanking up for tomorrow.

The bag is claimed waterproof but I found that my camelback which I had strapped to the top of the duffel had leaked, and water got in via the zipper! That's why everything worth keeping dry inside is in plastic bags. I am using the special bags you can squeeze all the air out of so they and their contents take up less space.

Had some second thoughts and ended up strapping the duffel bag cross-wise on top of the pillion seat, supported on the ends by the system cases. I was then able to cross the securing straps and I think it's a more secure and better looking arrangement. As I tightened things down and took the pictures below, the thought came to mind that if Maria could talk, she's ask me: "Does this make my butt look big?" : )

I'll be taking her out for a short test ride with the duffel in this configuration later but I think she'll be just fine.

The white tape on the bag is Solas Reflective Tape, same stuff used in life rafts.

More Solas tape on the bag, the system cases are using the black tape that lights up as white when hit by light, in this case from the camera's flash.

Looking forward to using the duffel as a backrest of sorts while riding, should help me get some riding in as I add a few more to the list of states I've motorcycled in.

I am riding with a fellow beemer rider who rode from California. We're meeting up at 0700 in the morning at a local coffee shop, we're slabbing it via I-76 to Nebraska, I-80 through the cornhusker state witha overnight stay near Des Moines, IA if all goes well.