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Grand Fall Ride 2008

Grand Fall Ride 2008

In preparation of this years Grand Fall Ride, I convinced Bill in Oklahoma that we should run a couple of passes in Colorado together. Nothing of the kind that the Transamerica Trail riders were reporting from CO, UT and NV but a couple of passes on gravel roads would be in order. I also mentioned that I wouldn't mind some nice switchbacks and fast sweepers ... since we are in the Rockies ... ! Bill took it upon him to put a route together that we would follow:

Starting the journey
The flat story
The Colorado Passes
Crossing New Mexico and Texas
Arriving at Ken's
The long way home

The trip starts here ...
I couldn't possibly go without tools and major spare parts. Not that I am superstitious or anything but I just feel better when I am prepared for whatever comes my way. We also wanted to camp a couple of nights, so all of a sudden I found myself mounting the Krauser luggage carrier and put the bags on. Very unusual for me as I like to travel light. Not this time though!

Here's the list of spare parts I packed:

spare electronic ignitionPoints beancan
timing light2.8Ohm dual coil
all electricals incl. relaisspare spark plugs
12 to 110V converterbattery cables
rear wheel balancing adapterwire material
front tube + tire pumprear tube
Diodeboardspare bulbs
Voltage regulatorspare clamps
stator and rotorductape
multimeterfork seals
spare throttle and clutch cablespare ignition lead and plug cap

I further packed zipties, several different types of glues, tire mounting lube and some other totally unnecessary things such as a battery charger, laptop, Blackberry, extra Xenon and H4 bulbs, a tent, sleeping bag etc etc etc. (Note to myself: take silicone next time as well)

Ready to go:

Some not very important pictures from the first leg to Kansas (unsorted): Click here for webalbum ...

Bill and I agreed to meet at his brothers house in Perry, KS which is just over a 1000mls for me. I decided to hit the Interstate 69 down to Indianapolis, and then I-70 to Kansas City, the quicker the better. First night stay in Cloverdale after 549mls. On the second day I covered 506mls to get to Jim and Bettys house in Perry, KS in the afternoon. Betty cooked a wonderful dinner for us and hers and Jims hospitality was second to none. Thank you guys!

We started off early in the morning for our first leg (382mls) through Kansas.

Here are just a few impressions of small town Kansas:

We came late into our first stop, Leoti, KS and after a good meal at the Mexican Restaurant, we decided to make camp on the village fairgrounds, just across the street.

The morning turned out cold and damp but after two cups of instant coffee cooked on my 20yr Coleman stove, it was much brighter in every aspect.

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The story of the 'flats' ...
What we didn't know was that this upcoming day was going to be a very special day which will be remembered for a very long time. This is also going to be the start of a long but rather "flat" story ... so sit back and relax. Let's start with the punchline: Bill had a total of 6 flats on the same rear tire ... 5 flats on this day, in and around Leoti and one flat a little later in Clovis, NM. Let me visualize that for you (and please mind the scale of the Garmin track, as it all happened in and around Leoti, no further than 12 miles away from the towncenter):

It sounds unbelievable and it was not (entirely) a result of workmanship but we spent a whole day and another morning fixing tires!

Flat No. 1

Flat No. 2 (6mls down the road)

It was there and then that I suggested to Bill not to carry on 50mls to the next town to get a better fix but to return to Leoti and try it there ... what a good decision that was.

Flat No. 3 (4mls further down the road towards Leoti)

We just about made it into town with the air that the tire was holding.

Flat No. 4

We had the 3rd fix on the tube done by a local shop in Leoti and it did not hold, so we had to count this as a flat, although we never moved the bike.

I truly enjoyed the day, despite all those flats.

Flat No. 5 (12mls West of Leoti)

It was just our luck that we had another flat when we were on our way (again). Fortunately, the tire stayed entirely on the rim, so we decided to limp the 12mls back to ... Leoti again.

Bill was still smiling and so was I. What else could we do? We ran out of fixable tubes and had another flat! It was Saturday and the motorcycle shops, e.g. in Garden City, 50mls away, would not open before Tuesday morning, not really the best outlook, so no putting the head in the sand!

Whilst Bill was scared 'flat' how he's going to carry on, I had my own little scare: my starter was playing up a couple of times, bad enough for Bill to need to push-start me! What the heck is going on there? I'll better have a look and used Bills Flat No. 2 for a quick check:

I found the planetry gearbox to be kind of loose as if a bolt was missing. I had nothing that fit the thread (M3.5 or so), so two big zipties had to do the job. Whether it was conincidental or not, I did not have another starter problem for the rest of the trip.

Back to flat No. 5: the next day, the decision was made to fabricate a valve stem out of the material we had (two defect tubes and plenty of silicon) and run the tire tubeless. Bill had experience with that and to be quite honest, it was our last chance to get out of town. It did do the trick and we were finally on our way to Colorado with nearly one and a half day delay.
The crosswinds at 35mph did not make riding a real pleasure but it was all over after the end of the day. Last impressions of Kansas:

More pictures from our Kansas adventures (unsorted): Click here for webalbum ...

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The Colorado Passes ...

Crossing the Colorado State line after all calls out for a little celebration!

Meanwhile, we had been approaching 3300ft and by the end of the day, we should have crossed the 9000ft mark between Wetmore and Silver Cliff.

The further we went, the more intimidating the clouds and mountains were getting and at some point, we fearwed we would be rained on.

Here's a (very amateur) video with a 360 view (~ 10MB): DSCF3743.AVI

We spent the night in Westcliffe, CO. A new RV park had been built and the owner was very kind, letting us have the two cabins. As we did not ask for any linen or towels, she made us an offer we could not refuse: $25 for each cabin. That beats sleeping in the tent by at least a mile!

The sunset: simply gorgeous ...

I needed to take care of a small mechanical problem in the morning: my custom sidestand rotated on the motor mount bolt (due to a quick fix at home) and needed a stop which cost me 40c and a washer:

The next 3 days, we criss-crossed through the Eastern and Southern parts of Colorado with the main direction South. Here's what we achieved:

What are the odds of meeting a couple from Guelph, Ontario right there on Marshall Pass, arriving only 2min later ... I should have played the lotto that day. Hello to Guelph to Meg and Lorenz! Good luck on your Continental Divide adventure.

Amazing pictures, true eyecandy:

It was a frosty morning with -4C/25F:

We did plan on this day to conquer, amongst others, the Engineer Pass. It had snowed days before but a local source mentioned that somebody did come through from Silverton. So, we made the decision to try and see if we could manage.

About 8mls (out of 28mls) from the summit, we met a local rider on a KLR650 who just came from the top: mud and snow was preventing him from getting through and looking mildly pitiful at our bikes, he was strongly suggesting to turn around as we would certainly not make it with our bikes. Although we couldn't see a lot of dirt (the bike looked nearly squeeky clean) we believed him. But we did not come all that way without having tried and seen the problem with our own eyes (and document it on camera). So, we carried on until we came to this point:

We could see the snow on the ground across the canyon where our road was heading into the woods and up. We weren't willing to risk tires or any other damage with the rocky road, so we turned around, just shy of 1000ft to the pass. Maybe next time!

We were now looking forward to a lot more eyecandy:

Many more Colorado pictures which didn't make it on the first page (unsorted): Click here for webalbum ...

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Crossing New Mexico and Texas ...
The scenery was starting to change as we head into New Mexico. It was getting hotter and more desertlike. We looked for and found Pipeline Road, that follows a major pipeline as a service road all the way to Los Ranchos.

The road was not in the best of conditions and again, the heavy loaded bikes made us skip the last 30mls and use "normal" roads. It was just as much fun. We were kind of very late when we arrived at a bigger town that had a hotel where we booked us in.

I wasn't going to mention that town or that hotel at all, but there is a story to tell: the next morning, my bike started just as normal, but, Ohmygod, only 12.3V on the voltmeter -> No Chargo El Machino Alternato! It took a while to unpack at the twon's gas station. First check (becasue it is so simple) was to replace the regulator -> to no effect. Measured resistance on rotor and stator -> all in spec. Remains the diodeboard to be checked and this is what I found when I removed it to replace it:

The second phase seemed to have sparked and caused the contact to come loose. That is good enough an explanation to go for! We measured the diodeboard and it was all good, so I just fabricated a new cable and spliced it in. Problem solved! (... I thought, but more later).

Since the scenery wasn't changing much from here on, I just made a random picture every hour or two:

Everything looks the same, even after hours of riding. Wasn't I here before?

Clovis, NM was as good a place to stop for a break than any other place. Lucky choice however.

Doesn't that look familiar?

Bill is smiling, but don't be fooled. He's not enjoying a Dr. Pepper in the shade under his motorbike ... he deals with Flat No. 6! That's it! Enough is enough! You will not fool me again! Strike 6 -> you're out!

This is the end of the line for the Shing Chen tire that has given Bill so much trouble!

At the end of the day ...

I would like to mention that this morning, again, the charging system would not work. I assumed the same problem and removed the diodeboard right away.

Well, the problem was not obvious: the cable that had sparked before was unscathed, but Bill looked at the board in detail and believed to have found a brocken track on the diodeboard. So I just replaced it there and then and off we went. (Worth mentioning, that I repaired the broken track at Ken's, put the fixed diodeboard back in the bike and ran home without further incident)

The last leg to Ken's, the last day before the rally, again random photos along the way ...

Some more New Mexico / Texas pictures (unsorted): Click here for webalbum ...

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Arriving at Ken's ...

Made it ... again ... in one piece ... and had plenty of fun. Thanks, Bill.

For a "Decidedly Unorganized Boxerworks Rally" it is very organized! The workshop is clean and prepared for whatever needs to be done (Many thanks, Ken), softdrinks and beer are plentiful and cooled (Thanks go the Joan and Ken and all the other little helpers) and there is always enough food, either freshly cooked or snackside (Big Thanks to Joan). And I am with Ken, this isn't just a rally, it is more a bunch of friends coming together for a bi-yearly reunion. We talk gas, boast about our many great achievements in the past 6-12months and truly enjoy each others company. Here are just a few snapshots that I borrowed from Randy's website, as I was too busy socialising. I did not even manage to take one picture! Shame on me.

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The long way home ...
It is Sunday morning and my wife's wishes were for me to be home by Friday. As my GPS gave up a couple of days ago, I would have to navigate home by means of papermaps. I brought them all except for Indiana, so I will have to improvise there. Plan was to ride straight North through OK mainly on Hwy 82, then cross Missouri and Indiana and catch I-69 or I-75 depending on how it goes and whether the weather will be catching up as a huge rain front is following me. I reckon, I am looking at about 1300-1400mls home so I should be home by Wednesday.

On the road, I came through ... name of the town excaped me ... and this Mexican restaurant was painted very nicely:

The last miles and it is getting darker ...

The last day of riding through Ohio and Ontario was a rain day ... all day.

Back home after 15days and 4800mls/7800km

Bike is back in the garage, looking well used but not abused, dirty, oily ... just like a real Airhead:

As to some other interesting revelations of this trip: this tire (left hand side) has run 7500mls/12000km! When it was newer the wet performance was very good, with the kind of wear shown here ... you don't want any rain!

Casualties were my Garmin GPS (dead, kaput), the centerstand (bent, not usable with luggage) and the sidestand (bent but usable at all times) ... apart from the diodeboard.

GPS track data and routes: GPS data folder
More pictures from the last leg home (unsorted): Click here for webalbum ...

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