Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bad Start but Good Results

The first leg today, Jacksonville to Chicago had no crew. After waiting almost an hour after it was supposed to leave, I went to the counter to inquire. A nice fellow sent me on a delta flight to Minneapolis...first class. I should make the connection to Prince George. 

The Longest Day: Cannonball Starts

Today begins the journey to compete in the Scooter Cannonball Run. And today, hopefully, will be the longest day.

I was up at my usual pre 5:00 waking time.  Glanced at the Scooter Cannonball website, Followride to see where Rocket is, and checked Modern Vespa to see if Froggie Position got off on her Iron Butt ride. All is well as Rocket is in Canada and Froggie got off early, around 3:30.

Now I have to do my time sheet to pay for all of this and send a drawing to a great client that has been patient as I spend too much time thinking about this big scooter ride.

Then I begin the trip by flying to Prince George, BC at 3:00.  The first leg stops in Chicago, then to Vancouver, then arrives in Prince George at midnight.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with another great client, we are designing a 5,000 s.f. riverfront house for them, and the contractor and interior designer.  The contractor, a good friend, had a Cannonball support gift for me.  It was a mock paint can with a hand drawn map and scooter as artwork, filled with goodies.  They are seen below.

My Facebook page is busy too with well wishers.  I am feeling good today.

I will use much of this on the ride

Friday, May 30, 2014

Detroit and Chicago Ride

With tomorrow being the day to fly out of Jacksonville for Prince George, I had just one more long ride to post before the longest ever for me begins.

That was a ride I did to see my son Sam last October.  

I had wanted to visit with him when he lived in Detroit, and scheduled an Iron Butt ride to incorporate into the effort.  It was just over 1000 miles from my house to his in Berkley, Michigan, making for a perfect Iron Butt ride.  But the two weekends I scheduled had weather issues that stopped that. So, when I purchased my Honda NC700X, I wanted to take it on a long ride to see how it would do.  Then I heard that Sam had to go to Detroit to pick up his Suzuki SV650S after the sale fell through.  So I decided to ride to Detroit, meet him and ride with him to Chicago.

Day one started early in the Jacksonville morning, around 4:30 if I recall.  I took I-95 north to I-26 around Columbia, then to Charlotte on I-77, just like my Iron Butt beginning.  This time I continued north from Charlotte into Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio to my scheduled stop in Columbus.  Day one totaled 830 miles and included a very uncomfortable butt due to the Honda seat.  I ended up stopping a couple extra times just to walk around.

I had a nice meal in Columbus, talking to another motorcycle enthusiast about rides and such.

I left Columbus before dawn to head to Detroit.  All went well until I hit traffic at a dead stop on I-75 heading into Detroit.  I got off the highway and negotiated my way to Berkley without coverage by my GPS map.  It was slow but I made it.

I met up with Sam at a bicycle shop on Woodward Avenue.  He had a friend with him, riding a Triumph Sport Bike, and the three of us rode to Ann Arbor for lunch.  From there Sam and I had a long, somewhat rainy ride to Chicago.

I spent two nights with Sam and his girlfriend Sara.  The third day consisted of me riding through the city, only 15 miles, then lunch, seeing the town with them in the car and dinner.

I left early the fourth day for the long ride home.  It was 47 degrees and wet when I left.  When I hit northern Indiana, it got drier but windier and colder at 41 degrees with a big crosswind.  I hadn't prepared for the cold so I wore my rain suit with layers of shirts and sweaters to keep me warm.  It worked except the pants flapped so much on the windward side that it wore a blister into the side of my leg.  One well placed rubber band stopped the flapping and made the ride much more comfortable.  I turned off of I-65 in Louisville to head to the Western North Carolina mountains, spending the night in Newport, Tennessee after a 600 mile ride.  

The last day started a little later than the others after breakfast.  I then had an uneventful 500 mile ride home.

The seat to butt problem got better after day one.  I still want a new seat but might be able to get used to this one.  It was a very fun ride for me.  The Honda makes for a very nice touring bike.

2500 miles in five days.

Meeting the boys at the bicycle shop after a 250 mile ride from Columbus.

The three bikes in Ann Arbor

Lunch in Ann Arbor.  UM had a football game that day.

Sam's bike with mine at a stop to put on rain gear in Michigan.

Sam and Sara's place in Logan Square.  They live in the basement.

Sam and Sara at lunch.

The standard Chicago Bean shot

Fuel and lunch in North Carolina.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dinner in Gainesville

Tonight I drove 70 miles to Gainesville to have dinner with my wonderful daughter, Kylie. We went to a little storefront Vietnamese restaurant for Pho. When I dropped her off at her restaurant workplace, she handed me a bag of notecards she made by hand for me. One for each stop. 

There appear to be notes in each one. I was instructed to open them at each stop. 

She is special. 

Keeping it in the family, I called my son Sam in Chicago on the return home.  I was in the noisy Miata, it has a small pinhole in the top right at my forehead making it even noisier, but we were able to communicate for ten minutes or so.  He rode his bicycle in a charity ride from Ann Arbor to Chicago over the weekend.  He is special too.

Rocket on the Road

In looking at this morning, checking out Doug's location, it looks like Rocket spent the night in Nashville and is now on the road in southern Illinois.  They are on the way to Omaha to pick up Frank, then to Prince George to meet up with me and Mike.  That will be Sunday morning.  Doug is 96, I am 41.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Whole Fish for Lunch

I had lunch today with a client, Shawn, and the contractor of his new house, my good friend, Rusty.  Shawn was giving Rusty a hard time about his usually skimpy lunches he has on these lunch meetings.

So, Rusty ordered the fish.  A whole fried fish.

When I saw it I was certain that the fish, with two great sides, had to cost $50.00.  It didn't.  It was a real bargain at $15.00.

Rusty holding his fish before consuming

And after.

Two Dudes

Last night, for the weekly Tuesday Dinner Ride, we chose to ride to Two Dudes Seafood at Atlantic Beach.  It is one of our favorites as the food is fresh and well prepared, all for a good price. 

The ride out was typical of heading to the beach at 7:00.  I led, and we headed out Atlantic Boulevard.  Traffic lights mostly worked for the 9 of us but we did get separated once.  We regrouped and made it safely to the beach.

The food was great as I had grilled Flounder with mixed vegetables.  Tanya had spectacular looking Scallops, everyone was pleased.  I rode the 20 miles home solo, enjoying the freedom to ride my ride.  I love leading this group but it is fun to go it alone occasionally.  I plan to ride the Scooter Cannonball mostly solo so I should get my fill of that over the next two weeks.

Bikes at the warehouse.  My NC700X is smaller than the big scoots.

Still within a mile of the warehouse, preparing to turn onto the Acosta Bridge.  Me leading.

Me and Tom

Fine food and good value.  One of our favorites.

Six of the nine enjoying a fine meal.

Spot Found

I am not sure what it is, but this Scooter Cannonball Run has become so important to me that I go crazy if something doesn't feel right.  

I am so concerned that I will forget something important that I probably will because of my current excited state.

Yesterday I looked all over the house and guest house, where we are sleeping these days because we are preparing our house for sale.  I couldn't find my Spot Messenger and almost went into a panic.  Then, later in the day realized that I didn't know where my Garmin was either.  So, with both missing, I backtracked and found both in the guest house on the bottom shelf of a small bookshelf.  I never put anything there but did when returning from Tennessee.  Probably put it there so I wouldn't lose it.

So, everything is found.

By the way, the spot is really cool.  I turned it on for the group ride to Two Dudes Seafood last night and it tracked us there.  Then I had it on in the guest house and that is where it placed me for the night.  I am glad that I am not a spy, or wanted by the law for anything.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Spot missing

In heading to work today I looked in my backpack that I used for the trip to Tennessee.  That is where I had my Spot, but it wasn't there.  So I looked in all of the usual places and it wasn't there either.  Texted Mike to make sure that he didn't have it in his car.  He checked and not there.

I hope is shows up soon.

I also didn't see my little Canon camera.

Getting old is hell.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Real Rocket

On the way back we stopped for lunch near Tifton, Georgia.  There we saw the real thing, a real Titan Missile from the 1960's next door to the local Krystal Restaurant.

It was so big that I couldn't get it all in the photo.

Rocket to Tennessee

Time had come to get Rocket to Tennessee to get on the big trailer to Prince George so Mike came to my house late Friday.  Saturday we loaded up his trailer and car for the long ride to Kingston, Tennessee.  We had lunch at a Waffle House after sitting an hour in stopped traffic on I-75 just south of Macon, Ga.  We got to Doug's house at around 7:00 and off loaded the stuff, had a nice dinner at a lakefront restaurant and off to the hotel for a well deserved rest.

Waffle House.  Waffle and two eggs for lunch

Doug with Rocket safely tucked away in his garage

Mike dealing with the bags

Friday, May 23, 2014

Race Shocks

Boris installed the new Malossi rear shock absorbers tonight.  It took one hour and then we went out to dinner.  I took a little ride around the neighborhood and they felt quite firm.  Then a quick ride on I-10 at around 70 mph and they felt perfect.  I hope that this is everything.

The Master at work

Spot Tracking

I got the Spot set up and it is now working.  I will have it on for the ride so you can see where I am at any time.  There are two places to follow my tracks.

This one is better as it shows where I am in relation to the others on the Scooter Cannonball

Bookmark these for up to the minute locations.

Spot and Shocks

The Spot Satellite GPS Messenger arrived today.  I was quite excited until I opened it and found the instructions all in Spanish and Portuguese, not my native language of English.  I then tried the website to activate it and got near the end and found it needed an activation code.  How do I get one of these??

Edit:  I found the activation code inside the battery area with the other number needed.  It is activated now but I don't know how to turn it on.

The shock absorbers came too.  Boris will install them tonight if all goes well.  Just in time to get Rocket on the trailer heading to Tennessee.  Lets hope is goes well.  I showed the bottoming with a gentle bounce to Russ at lunch.  He said that I have no rear suspension at the moment.  How did that happen so quickly, and with such bad timing?

My little Spanish Spot

And now I have racing suspension

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rear Shock Failure...Now??

On Tuesday night I rode home very quickly from dinner with the club.  On the very smooth Butler Boulevard and I-95, I noticed that the rear was bottoming out on small irregularities in the pavement.  I had never felt that before.  Then, yesterday, I washed it and rode it to take some pictures of the clean machine.  On that ride it bottomed a couple of times. Then, just sitting still and lightly bouncing on the seat, it bottomed each time.  Great timing, as I am scheduled to take it to Tennessee on Saturday to get onto the big trailer for the ride to Hyder.  

This morning I took it to another mechanic, Mike, who replaced the spare tire with a new Michelin and while there I had him adjust the shocks to the firmest setting.  It made no change.  Rats!

So I have been talking to George the owner of Scooterpartsco.  He has a set of Malossi rear shocks that he can send overnight for Boris to install Friday night.  

Another $400 for the Cannonball.  It should be worth it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

That Warm Feeling

Preparation is starting to take me over.  After looking at the weather reports and knowing that I want to leave early every morning when the temperatures are low, I decided that I needed more cold weather gear.  And wet gear too.  So I went over to Cycle Gear and bought glove liners, shoe liners and a face shield.  Also a FrogTog rain jacket and warm, waterproof gloves.  I hope that this solves the problem.

That Feeling of Panic

With Mike coming in two days to pick up both me and Rocket for the ride to Tennessee to join the group heading to Hyder, I am starting to panic about preparations.  I thought I would just ride like normal and be able to compete, but it looks like the decision to not use an auxiliary gas tank was a bad one.

I ended up buying a 1 1/4 gallon spare tank that fits well on the rear rack.  I should only need it on a couple of runs where the gas stations are far apart, but I will have to stop twice on normal days where the gas stations are spaced well.  I can plan on 130 to 140 miles on a full tank, plus an extra 80 using the spare.  But using the spare costs me one extra stop unless I can get super mileage.  I still want to finish well, but it will be behind the fast guys and girls who can run the entire day without stopping.

It is also going to be colder than I expected and I didn't go for heated or super winter gear for the cold days.  So today, I looked to improvise by seeing if my Bilt rain jacket would fit over my old, armored mesh jacket.  It does so I am feeling better now.  I can layer up with a long sleeve tee shirt, turtle neck, sweatshirt, mesh or Alpinestars jacket with the rain jacket over.  That should work fine as I rode through northern Indiana last year in 41 degree weather with less to keep me warm and I was fine.  That was a 600 mile ride from Chicago to eastern Tennessee that was very cold for half the day.

Then I realized that I would like to use a Spot, so I ordered it today.  It should come in on Friday.  Now I have to get it set up. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday Dinner Ride. Brucci's Pizza

The club ride tonight was to Brucci's Pizza toward the beach. We had seven riders and two more met us there. I took my usual lead position and we headed out. The ride out was hectic as traffic was heavy and lights poorly timed. We got separated several times. 

The pizza was very good. I sat with Tanya, Russ and Geezer, so it was a good time. But Tanya offered a coupon for a free 12 inch pizza with a paid 16 inch one. When the bill came, those thinking that the were getting one for free found out that the discount was divided to all pay groups, so they didn't save much. They wanted the others to chip in.  Sorry, we said. They weren't happy.

But the evening's highlight was yet to come. I needed one more quick ride and the ride home offered a fine opportunity. I rode south to Butler Boulevard, then up I-95 to Park Street. Rocket was up to it as we ran an indicated 80 to 85 mph the entire way. I was passed by one car the entire way. I must have passed at least a hundred. It was a lot of fun. Rocket is ready. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Big Rocky Mountain Ride, Glacier to Denver

After leaving Many Glacier Lodge, where we had lunch and hiked a small trail, we headed back to Denver.  The first road we traversed was 89, heading south to Browning.  What a fantastic road for riding.  We will be bypassing this great road on the Cannonball, but can take it if losing 20 minutes doesn't matter.  I will take it if I am not near the top of the classification when we get there.  

From there we headed south to Great Falls for the night.  Nothing special there, but we did have dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  Not bad.

The next day we headed south through the Lewis and Clark National Forest, through Big TImber and Red Lodge, where we had lunch.  Red Lodge is at the north end of the Beartooth Highway, that we took to the junction with the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.  Both were spectacular with smooth roads and wonderful views.  Beartooth was twistier and more elevation change, ending at the pass at around 11,000 feet.  Chief Joseph was faster with less elevation change but still terrific.  My brother says that these are his favorite motorcycle roads in the US.

We spent the night in Cody and headed south the next day to Fort Collins to end the trip.  The highlight of this leg was a spectacular canyon south of Thermapolis.  We finally got bad weather after this and rode through spotty rain all the way into Fort Collins.  We didn't mind because it was so good to that point.

After sending Drew off to Kansas, I rode around Nederland and the hills and canyons back to the motorcycle rental shop where I dropped it off.  I put 2750 miles on it in 8 days.  The owner of the shop was glad that I got it home in one piece.  I believe that he didn't have confidence in my riding ability, but I proved him wrong.
You never know what you will find on the roads

Red Lodge, Montana

At a stop on the Beartooth Highway

Another from that stop

Me at the Beartooth Pass

A bridge along the Chief Joseph Highway 
Another nice view

Drew in front, riding along the Chief Joseph Highway

Autocross at Amelia Island Airport

Yesterday, my friend Drew and I entered my Miata in another SCCA Autocross event, this one at the Amelia Island Airport, about 40 miles north of Jacksonville.  It was the second time the local SCCA Buccaneer region has held an event there, but it is a location where my father took me and my brothers to the first auto race I ever attended, back in the mid 60's, watching drivers like Peter Gregg in his Porsche 906 Carrera.  It started me following auto racing my entire life.

Unfortunately, the surface we have to drive on is asphalt that has been baking in the Florida sun for at least 40 years.  I did poorly on it last time and repeated that this time.  We didn't stick around for the results, but we had similar times that were a second and a half slower than my friend Larry had driving a similar Miata.  I just can't come to grips with this surface.  The first two runs felt good but I hit at least one cone on each.  Then I spun twice.  Drew did too. Before our last runs we noticed that the right front tire was corded, but we ran anyway.  I got all of 6,000 miles out of that set.  Dunlop Direzza ZII tires.  Very good for autocross that will probably last 20,000 miles in normal use.  We wear them out quickly.

Edit:  Got results yesterday.  I was second in EStreet out of five.  Drew was third.  Overall Pax (with the handicap multiplier) I was 14th and Drew 20th out of 60.  The real disappointment was that my fastest time was on my first run.  That never happens as the first run is to see the course to find where to go faster.  It progressively got worse.  Not sure what it was, tires, surface or just driver.

Drew driving sideways.  Very slippery.

Spare Wheel

Because I have my friend Leslie's GT while she is living in Italy, I decided to use her rear tire as my spare for the Scooter Cannonball.  Saturday was a good day to take care of the last remaining items to prepare Rocket for the ride so I decided to take the wheel off in my garage.  The rear wheel removal on these involves removing the exhaust and the rear swing arm, both of which came off easily.  I couldn't get the wheel nut off using my standard socket set, just couldn't develop the force needed.  I considered having Boris come over with his tools and strength, but he just gave me his 24" breaker bar to use.  The nut came off easily using the leverage from the tool, so I went out and bought a cheap one at Harbor Freight.  Now I have confidence that I can do most of the work that might be needed on the scoot during the ride.

I did notice that her Pirelli tire was showing its age.  Over 4000 miles on it along with being around 5 years old.  So I ordered a new Michelin City Grip for the spare.  I am running a City Grip, 120/70/12 on the front and a Michelin Power Pure 140/70/12 on the rear.  I got a 130/70/12 as the spare as it is great for the rear and will work for the front in a pinch.

The other need was for a spare fuel tank to get me through the long runs in Canada where gas stations are rare.  I bought a five liter tank and found a way to secure it to the rear rack using strong bungee cords.  I am fine for 200 miles between stations now.
Now it sits in my garage like this until I return

The power of the breaker bar did the trick

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Scooter Cannonball Logistics

Will, the support truck driver, sent instructions today.  They are quite detailed and very fair for everyone involved.

I will be taking Rocket to Tennessee with Mike, from Fort Lauderdale.  Mike is driving and using a borrowed or rented trailer.  We go up Saturday, May 24, returning the next day.

The truck and trailer leave Tennessee on May 27 with five scooters and three people.  They pick up Frank in Omaha on May 28.

Mike and I are flying separately but will meet them in Prince George, BC.

I found out in the message that there is no room for me or Mike in the truck so we will be riding the remaining 440 miles to Stewart BC./Hyder, AK. in two stages.  One is to Smithers where we spend the night, the next to Stewart.

I will send as much of my stuff as possible on the truck, leaving a carry on only for the flight.  It all has to be light because I will be bring it all home on the scooter from New Orleans at the end of this adventure.

It is getting real now.

Glacier National Park

The destination of the big Rocky Mountain ride was Glacier National Park.  Drew and I arrived there after four days riding.  We stayed in Kalispell, Montana, about 30 miles from the west gate.  We got to the hotel early enough to venture into the park the first afternoon and took an unusual path.  Drew wanted to try some dirt roads so we headed north for a few miles until it became apparent that the road was no fun.  

So we headed down the Going to the Sun Road with a destination of the Lake McDonald Lodge.  That worked well as the conditions were perfect and I took some wonderful photos of the lake from the dock.  Also had a Huckleberry Beer.

From there we rode to a Brew Pub in Lakeside, the Tamarack Brewing Company for dinner.

Another long but wonderful day on the bikes.
On the way to Kalispell

The dirt road wasn't very nice...

But the views were great

Lake McDonald 

Road under construction.  Dirty bike.

Along the Going to the Sun road

iPhone panorama at a stop along the Going to the Sun Road

Tamarack Brewing Company.  Nice way to end the day.