Saturday, May 19, 2018

Maritimes: 2018

It was some time last fall (October or November) that I settled on wanting to ride to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec for the "big" summer adventure in 2018. Most of the hotel reservations went in during the first week of February (which turned out to be a good thing, for some of the more remote locations); the rest were picked up in early April. I've spent the past six months or so fiddling with the route, making sure to get on the coast roads as much as possible, and doing the research on the highlights that others have pointed out.

The bike needs a 12000 mile maintenance visit and new tires, and there are a few more things to adjust / add, but it's largely ready to go. One of the advantages of having the bike "rally ready" most or all the time is that the packing isn't a big deal, and the odds of forgetting critical things are low.

It's just over a month until launch.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

13 May 1966: North to Alaska

On this day, in 1966, we started the trip north from southern California to Eagle River. Paul, Maureen, Kim, and I left my grandparents home in Ventura, making the trip in our maroon 1964 Rambler (a car I was later to take to college in 1974).

I didn't know it at the time, but I was to leave years of respiratory distress behind, and embark on a new way of thinking about the outdoors and about myself. Living in Alaska had a profound shaping effect on my life.

I haven't been back to Alaska as much as I would like, but certainly as often as life and other priorities allow. My last couple of trips back were work-related; one to Anderson and one to Shemya, both in the winter of 2015. I'm planning a ride to Alaska in 2020; that's a lot of fun to plan for.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Emporia, Virginia Weekend Ride

I didn't get out to ride at all during February; the weather was somewhat uncooperative on each weekend, and it's tough to get motivated for a ride when it's cold and rainy. It looked like this weekend was going to be nice enough, though, so I planned a nice weekend ride to Point Pleasant, WV.

On Friday, Donna and I reassessed the Point Pleasant route in light of the distance, number of planned stops, and hours of daylight available for bonus hunting. The planned route was tight time-wise--that route should be a 2 1/2 day trip, not a jammed two day trip, so I offered a trip south instead.

We headed west to the Shenandoah Valley, then south through Charlottesville and Scottsville to Emporia. We stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn in Emporia, then headed east to Virginia Beach. From there, we headed north to home.

It was a bit chilly--the temperatures stayed within a 40 deg F to 55 deg F band all weekend, but we had a lot of sun both days. The direct sunlight really makes a difference--that, and the heated gear, made for a reasonably comfortable ride.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Alaska 2020

It's always good to have goals...goals certainly keep me out of the "lost weekend" syndrome, where I can fritter away large blocks of weekend time without producing anything meaningful. So, it's with that in mind, that I'm seriously starting to plan a nice ride to Alaska (and British Columbia, Yukon, and everything between Virginia and there) in 2020.

With a 2017 R1200GSA to ride, and much (perhaps all) of the gear needed to make that ride, already around the house, all I need is a plan and a good set of off-road/on-road tires.

Chilly weather

Some winters are better than others around these parts. This is one of the bad ones. We're caught up in a mass of cold air that covers much of the eastern part of the country. So much for getting out for a little winter riding!

The R1200GSA sits on its battery tender, waiting for an opportunity to explore. I have a lot of ideas of where to go this year, but I do need a little bit of cooperative weather. Highs of 20 deg F and lows of 3 deg F aren't conducive to adventuring (at least on a motorcycle)!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Farklefest: November 2017

With a living room full of parts, and a [nearly] stock R1200GSA in the driveway, it was time to take the new bike apart to find out why it worked. Midway through last week, the weather forecast was promising for Friday and Sunday, with showers predicted for Saturday. Temperatures were promised in the mid-50's...not too bad for November in Northern Virginia.

I got started mid-morning on Friday, as soon as it got warm enough to stand next to the bike for hours on end. I removed the body work and fuel tank. I watched ADVCityGuy's videos on the Denali SoundBomb and Clearwater Ericas to get an idea of how to best do those two installations, then watched Jim Von Baden's video on R1200GSA(W) body work and fuel tank removal.

I got all of the body work off, along with the fuel tank on Friday. I was prepared for Saturday to be rainy, and to finish up on Sunday. Saturday turned out to be pretty nice until about 1500; I was able to get the SoundBomb and Ericas wiring in and the body work and fuel tank re-installed before the rain started. I installed the Clearwater Billie Junior rear light, and its remote light (which I think I'm going to like quite a bit), as well.

Sunday turned out to be nice, as well, so I got everything wrapped up -- this kind of work always takes longer than it probably should, because I work very slowly. Haste can make expensive waste when doing these tasks for the first time. The fit is pretty tight on the R1200GSA to begin with, and to route that number of power and signal cables from the front to the back requires some careful thought and execution.

I'm thankful for all of those years of amateur radio "farkling" -- it ensured that I had every tool and spare part that I needed for the entire job.

Right before sundown today, I wrapped this job up and fired the bike up to do a little op-test. It's always such a relief to verify that everything works as expected. The Clearwater Ericas look great, and that Denali SoundBomb is deafening.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

First farkles

I rode with the new Sargent saddle yesterday, and installed the pillion saddle today.

I have a pile of farkles stacked up in the living room, waiting for time and weather to install.

In addition to installing the pillion saddle, I installed guards for the two stock fog lights. The Touratech guards were very easy to install, and look great.

I started the installation on the Altrider headlight guard, but ran out of weather. I'll get that finished as soon as weather permits.

Ginger cat Sonja

I was fostering / adopting an older cat from Fancy Cats, hoping to give Cinder a nice companion. Sonja turned out to be a bit high-strung, and a real hunter, so she didn't get along with Cinder. Cinder didn't appreciate being stalked, and spent all of her time upstairs, under a bed or under the desk. Not a good quality-of-life.

So, I had to return Sonja this morning. Though she'd only been in the house since 31 July 2017, she'd settled in nicely and was a lot of fun to watch. She was frequently stretched out on the floor in the "new" room, and liked to lay on the couch and knead the large pillow. She spent her days sequestered in the new room, sitting on the scratching post and watching the wildlife out the window. I'd let her into the remainder of the house in the evenings (and on the days I worked from home); she had built a small blanket nest on the chair near the dining room table, and was content to knead the blankets until she fell asleep.

It was really hard to return her, but Cinder's quality of life was taking a hit. I'm hoping that Sonja finds a nice home where she can get a lot of attention, but without the distractions of another cat.

Cinder has already been out during the day more than I've seen in months. I think she can definitely feel the difference already.

Friday, November 3, 2017

First [real] ride

The run-in period for BMW motorcycles is about 600 miles (100 km). It's +/- 50 miles to Bob's BMW, so I need to get about 500 miles under the saddle before the initial check. The weather for the weekend is predicted to be spotty, so it was important to get some riding in today, to get ready for the 10 November run-in check.

I laid out a quick 250 mile run, then added a few spots for geocaches (to sweeten the pot). The run-in needs to be done at varying speeds and loads, so I headed west. I ran out to Sperryville, VA to ride U.S. 211 over Shenandoah National Park, then headed to Harrisonburg, VA, with a brief lunch stop at Luray, VA.

From Harrisonburg, I headed east to Orange, VA then north on U.S. 29 to pick up I-66.

The ride was very good. Because I still don't have the side cases (BMW Motorrad stop-sale on the side cases for a reflector-positioning issue), I removed the top case as well. The GSA is remarkably nimble (at least at this weight), and the increased low-end torque is a noticeable difference from the 2010 R1200RT.

I have another short ride this weekend to finish off the run-in period.