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Boxerworks Rally

May 17-23, 2006

Boxerworks Spring Rally May 2006

First things first, statistics for May 17-23:

May 17, 2006:
481mls - ON, MI, OH, IN
I started off early in the morning with the aim to reach Indianapolis where I would stay at Rob's place. The weather was very good for riding, not too warm and blue skies.

From Cambridge I rode 170mls to the US border. It took me only 20min to get my visa and I was on my way. Took the easist way through Michigan on the I-75 from Detroit to Toledo, OH. Here I changed over to HWY 24 to cut through to Indiana. From here on, I decided to take a couple of secondary roads to have some fun. By now, it was getting cloudy and I made out some black clouds further away. Too far away I thought! I cut through on the 49 and it started raining. Rain turned into pouring rain, dark the sky went in a very short time and I found myself stuck in a serious storm. I still saw "light at the end of the tunnel" and carried on. After all, I had waterproof riding gear on and a rain suit just in case it would get nasty. Needless to say, it got nasty: the storm turned into a thunderstorm and the lighting was coming very close. Scared, as I was, I stopped in Convoy, IN and found a restaurant with a very friendly bunch, TV, hot coffee and all sorts of information. It was 5PM by then and I called Rob's sister to make her aware I might not be coming and my wife to give her a heads up. 90min later, the sky cleared and the Doppler Radar looked as if I was to make the rest of the journey on dry roads. Not quite! I decided to skip the secondary roads and headed straight for the I-69 which I entered at Markle. The closer I got to Indianapolis, the darker it went (again!): end of the day for once and another set of very dark clouds. And then it hit me again, about 40mls from Rob's house: thunder and lightning, heavy rain, hefty winds, trucks .. you get the picture. At 10mls to go I was about to give up when a group of hotels was so conveniently close by, but overcame my weakness and carried on. I arrived at Rob's house at around 9PM, by now pretty soaked, but in very good spirits. Nothing that a warm supper and then use of a tumble dryer couldn't cure. I would be ready for the next day.
May 18, 2008:
400mls - IN, IL, MO
The next day came, bright and early and I was fit.

Rob had mapped out the two days riding down to Big Cedar, Oklahoma with a couple of very scenic rides, the attraction being the bridge at Vincennes crossing the river Lawrence, an old railway bridge converted to bridge used by cars and trucks. It also serves as the stae border netween Indiana and Illinois. On the bridge itself, wood planks were used to provide two tracks, crossplanks in the middle. You get off the tracks, you're bike is toast.

Crossing the bridge was quite a challenge with all those wood planks with gaps inbetween, some as wide as a tire width. But we both made it to Illinois. Nothing spectacular happened in Illinois ... almost. At one stage though, on some small road at N 37"34.324' W 88"30,138' Rob thought he had seen some gold

" Gold ... I saw Gold ... I swear!"

and just used his bike as a showel to dig into the ground. He even showed me the place where he saw that gold but it was nowhere to be found!

It wasn't all that funny in the end! Rob hurt his shoulder (turned out later to be a broken tip of his collarbone) but was able to carry on, with a lot of pain though. That little accident sort of took away some of the fun, but Rob "Crash" moved on! Missouri was just couple of miles away and I think we ended up spending the night somewhere close to Poplar Bluff, MO.
May 19, 2006:
381mls - MO, AK, OK
Our last leg was of course overshadowed by Rob's condition, but nevertheless, a nice ride cross country through AK with some beautiful roads around Lake Ouachita. In the late afternoon, we crossed over to OK and got lost on the Talimena drive, couldn't find the exit! At first! But finally, we found the exit from HWY 1 to HWY 259 and arrived at Ken's place and the Boxerworks Rally at about 6PM. We met all the girls and guys that evening and after a good meal and some gas talk I called it a day.

May 20, 2006:
Few Miles on Talimena and to downtown Mena
The main day at the Rally for me, it was hot that day and the day before and the day after: high 90's on the degF scale, mit 30's on the degC scale.
I brought a set of tires since mine were very old and I had the intention to change them at the rally. Unfortunately, I didn't think of tubes so I had to head down to Mena, AK in the morning to get some. Luckily, the second shop, a Yamaha dealer had both, the 400-18 and the 300-21 tubes available.

Back at Ken's place, I was allowed to use his amazing workshop and the three of us (Ken, Bill and myself) supervised ourselves in turns and got both tires changed in 1 hour. Plus half an hour for balancing the front wheel and it was all done and the bike back together in less than two hours.

Thanks to Duane suggestions, I ended up with only 40g of weights. Later I did a high speed test (ok, high speed for a G/S at nearly 160kph/100mph) which revealed a perfectly balanced front wheel. The rear obviously did not need any balancing at all and did not weave or do anything else stupid.
At lunchtime we drove up the Talimena Drive Lodge for lunch and had a nice one hour ride afterwards. Quite enjoyable riding area, that part of OK! Big barbecue in the evening and as a personal highlight, trying out Ken's new DVD player by watching "The World's Fastest Indian". A brilliant movie with a lovely Kiwi character, played by Anthony Hopkins. I think, we all felt with the hero, when he broke the world record to be The World's Fastest Indian.

Bill from Oklahoma (former Tulsa) and I went up to the sunset point at 9PM, but it wasn't that spectacular ... but a very nice ride through those hairpin curves.

Two further particular events/issues are certainly worth mentioning:

I brought 6 of these fine creatures, also knows as ticks home!

Don Roberts and his Scottish Smallpipe. Bit like coming home. Not that I am Scottish!

May 21, 2006:
480mls - OK, AK, TN, KY
Sunday came and it was time to pack up and head home. After all, it was a most memorable event and that calls for a(nother) big big Thank You to the organizers (too many to mention, but Randy, Ken, Joan, Princess and Kitty seemed to have been the driving forces) and all participants. It made me rethink my End-of-Seaon-Ride destination!

Rob "Crash" Valdez wasn't sure whether he would be able to ride back so he decided to take it easy and take three days home. I only had three days so I went on my own. I decided to take a different route. I went to Little Rock, AK the same way we came (Lake Ouachita) and then I took the fast route through AK on I-30 and I-40 to Memphis, TN. Crossed over the Mississippi River and took HWY51 North to KY. I stayed overnight in Fulton, KY.
May 22, 2006:
440mls - KY
It was raining all night and I thought I was in for another drive in the rain, but it cleared up before 10AM.

I had the most enjoyable day crossing Kentucky from SW to the NE, only on secondary or even lower class roads. Lots of horse farms, forrest, hills, twisty roads, an ideal riding area for my G/S. I could not get the grin off my face, such a nice riding area. I crossed the Ohio river and stayed in Ripley, OH for the night.
May 23, 2006:
Last leg - OH, MI, ON
Well, I crossed Ohio on HWY68 from S to N. Nice ride, but not as nice as KY. Flat and brown as opposed to hilly and green. I avoided all big cities and made good time, reached I-75 and head straight for Detroit. No problems at border crossing and home by 6PM. The last day was really the one to get home, all others had "fun" and "holiday" written all over.

Home again!

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