Monday, April 30, 2007

What does the Kiddo think?

Picture: Lisa at 6 on the KIDDO hack.

Lisa was on school vacation last week. She was away at my Aunt's house on the Cape. I sent her a survey to discover what her thoughts are about the trip. Here are the questions and her unedited replies. I think we're in good shape.

Thinking about the trip we have planned this summer, please complete the following sentences.
  1. I think the best part of about riding across the country will be Seeing all the cool sights and stuff. I will be able to tell all my friends about it, but then again they probably might not really understand, and not care as much. It will be very interesting to see other places, since I’ve on done riding in the New England area. It will be cool to see other terrain and surroundings, like; desert, snow cap mountains etc.
  2. I think the hardest part of the trip will be… Packing maybe, but that will all be done quickly. Staying on the bike for a long time may be a bit boring, and painful for my big oddly shaped head. Oh yah, riding on the rain, Ugghh! Not much experience, and don’t really want it.
  3. I’m a little concerned about… Forgetting things, getting lost, camping, being board while riding across the desert in North Dakota, not being able to order lunch in Canada.
  4. I think that riding all day on the motorcycle will be… Tiring, sometimes boring, sometimes fun and exciting. It depends on where we are and what we’re doing.
  5. Some of the things I can do when I get bored: Listen to my music, think about stuff, sing to myself and look at the scenery.
  6. After a long day on the road I’ll want to…RELAX on a comfy hotel bed and eat a brownie lol
  7. I hope my mom will… Have fun with me
  8. I hope my mom doesn’t… Get lost, crash, die, get mad at me, cancel the trip, drop Garmin, not be able to find a hotel
  9. I’m looking forward to seeing… Glacier National Park, new environments, that guy Ara’s dog.
  10. When we get to the rally I think I’ll feel… Nervous and weird cause I don’t know many people.
  11. Other thoughts and ideas not included above: I’m kinda worried about camping at the rally, I REALLY hope it doesn’t rain when we’re there!

Friday, April 27, 2007

What's the Plan?

The trip counter I have over in the right column is very powerful. It has the power to make me feel nervous, excited, panic stricken and even happy.

Planning, how much is enough? How much is too much? We can only answer that question for ourselves. I fancy myself to be organized and not easily ruffled. I think I am planning just enough. But sometimes I glance at that counter and think “OMG, I haven’t planned a thing!” Then I examine the details and think I’m doing ok.

My planning falls into a few categories:
Mechanical Stuff:
SPARE has not been out this spring; it remains undercover in its winter spot in the garage. That will change in the coming week; the GT is out of service with its brake issues. I’ll order new sneakers for it shortly, and bring it up to Jim’s for a once over. I’m so grateful to have a mechanic who treats my bike as if it where his own.

Kevin has volunteered to upgrade the auxiliary lights and ensure that the 12v power supply is going to be reliable. Garmin will have the socket most of the time, except when I need to charge my phone – although I could bring the desktop charger and use that at night. I think I’ll end up running tunes from Lisa’s old Zen. It’s only 512mg, but I have a 60g hardrive on the Toughbook, so I can bring my music library with me…I’ll have to test this idea out.

Travel Stuff:
I have my departure location set. Rob Nye posted a nice route on MOA for getting to Canada, I may use that. I finally received my updated maps from Garmin; they came complete with MapSource which I can now use to plot out some routes. I will be comfortable to know where we are going the first couple of days, then we will check the map in the evening and make plans for the next day. A friend has picked out a Pacific landing point for us, I’ll post pics shortly. There are four fixed dates-locations we need to hit: Glacier, departure from the West Coast, arrival to West Bend for the Rally, and get home date. Lots of flexibility, not much planning in between. Lisa and I have started discussing the types of places we’d like to go to in between. State capitals and other Nashua’s are two such types. I have several offers for rides as we get closer to the Rally site. I’m settled on the dates for Glacier and have located the motel that I stayed in 2004. I’ll book rooms there. It’s right across from the Huckleberry Pancake place, so we’ll know where our breakfast is coming from!

In the coming weeks, we’ll be shopping for a helmet and riding gear for Lisa. I’m still on the fence about getting myself a new helmet. I think the Shoei is just too loud to run helmet speakers – but I’ll test it out on the K75 before deciding. Then, once I have Lisa’s gear, we’ll test ride our first day route. She needs a little enlightening on what a day is going to be like!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Long Days in the Saddle

Picture: Scored rear rotor on GT
I spent some long days in the saddle this past weekend, it was the first long weekend ride of the season. Usually by this late in April, I’m pretty much in shape for the long ride. Not this year. I was reminded that it takes time to get in shape for the road.

I felt I was in “mental” shape. I didn’t have any problems staying focused on my riding. The more challenging the roads the easier I find this. On the trip back, we had to hoof back on the highway, the windy conditions provided a challenge; as did my lack of brakes. I was riding 500 miles home with essentially no rear brake pad and a badly scored rotor on the GT. Every off ramp was a challenge, as I used the engine to slow me down, progressively dropping down gears until I was going 10 mph before using the brake. I felt like I was competing in field trials as I feathered the clutch through stop and go traffic conditions. It was sort of fun, I’m grateful that I did not encounter any emergency braking conditions. It was also essential that I was not riding alone. Kevin rode behind me most of the way; he provided the brake lights to the cars behind us, knowing that I was going to be dropping speed with out showing brake lights.

The physical challenges of a 14 hour day are many. First I have to say that my chiropractic investment is paying off. My lower back held up great, I had some muscle soreness at the end of the day, but the joint pain of last year was gone. My wrists and shoulders were unhappy with the weight I put on them. I tend to lock up my left arm to counter the right side pull of the GT. It’s like doing a 14 hour pushup. My knees were unhappy campers late in the day, I made several rest brakes just to straighten them out. My neck muscles are still sore 2 days later, this is definitely something that improves with the season, I don’t know of anyway to get them in shape, except by riding more.

I’m keeping all this in mind because Lisa will be in far less “shape” than I am when we set out. But she has more going for her, she won’t have the wind to deal with, nor throttle control. I think her biggest challenge will be her buns falling asleep and hoisting a helmet on her little neck all day. I am looking to test run our gear for at least two 8+ hour days. And I still don’t have her new helmet.

I was reminded how much I want to resolve the entertainment portion of our ride. I’ve decided to try the helmet speakers offered by Aerostitch, I really could have used some tunes this weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sherpas, they're not just for Everest anymore.

Picture: My old K1100LT packed for two up camping. Wacky Hat Camp Out 10/2004

Last year the MOA National rally was in Burlington, VT. We decided to camp but riding 2 up with camping gear is a challenge. We have pulled it off in the past, with the LT, but I wanted to bring more stuff – so I opted to ship our gear ahead. This turned out better than expected as a couple of friends ended up picking up the gear and setting up the tent for us (thanks Joe and iRene!). This enabled us to head up a day early, with no concern of getting in late. What a luxury.

I could ship ahead this year but shipping back is a hassle so I’ve opted for a more simplified option. I’ve reserved my tent ahead of time. Imagine how easy this is? The tent will be set up ahead of time in a little tent village with other “renters”. We will have a two person tent, air mattress, sleeping bags, pillows and chairs, plus a clean towel every day; all for less than the price of a hotel room. This wonderful service is offered by Mayberry’s Sherpa Service. A round of applause to Ted for offering a valuable service to those of us who want to be on the camp grounds with our friends, but just can’t manage to pack that much on our bike!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Miles and Journeys

Hampton Beach, NH on a cloudy cool April Day. This is where we'll start our trip, hopefully with blue skys and higher temps!

April 14th was the opening day for the 2007 MOA mileage contest. This is the 5th year in a row that I’ll be entered the contest. If it weren’t for the mileage contest, I might never have journeyed to Spokane, Washington in 2004. If I’d never ridden to Spokane, I’d never be planning this trip with my daughter.

At the beginning of my second riding season I poured over the names and numbers of MOA members who had completed the mileage contest during the previous year. I could not imagine myself in that company. The average miles winners had upwards of eight thousand miles in a six-month season. Eight thousand! That seems unattainable. But then again, it was only a little more than a year ago that a motorcycle endorsement seemed unattainable. What I imagined I could accomplish grew with each mile on my odometer.

Three more seasons went by before it occurred to me that I should sign up. My first year, 2003, had me finishing better than average with close to 13,000 miles. The following year my love of numbers lead me to tracking miles and setting goals and in 2004 & 2005, I finished in the lists of top 20 women riders. By now I saw my name amongst new found riding friends.

Late in the summer of 2003 I learned that the National rally would be in Spokane, Washington. I wanted to go there. I wanted to ride clear across the country. But I quickly became discouraged when my local friends and associates not so subtly dismissed the idea. “That’s nuts”, “who would want to ride a bike that far” and “your butt will be killing you” where typical comments. I needed new friends. I found those friends online in the MOA Forum; people who where out there riding their motorcycles to place that I’d only read about. They were redefining for me what high miles and a long day meant. I wanted to be one of “them”.

By now, in my 5th riding season, chasing mileage goals, I had no qualms about doing 10 or 12-hour days, riding all over New England. What, I wondered is the difference between one 12-hour day and 5 of them in a row? I was confident enough to ride alone and had faith that my bike was not going to let me down, so why not string 5 days together. After 6 months of contemplation I made my decision to go. The difference I decided was a bunch of hotel rooms and a GPS.

I arrived in Spokane bursting with pride over my accomplishment, my self-confidence at an all time high. I realized that I had been the only one setting limits for myself. Most people will never understand why I want to do the things I do, but that will never again be a reason for me not to undertake them. I rode home that July knowing that I must come back and share this with my daughter. And I knew I would find a way to make it happen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

If you are not a motorcyclist...

Picture: Lisa takes it easy at the 2006 National Rally in VT.

Word about my trip is getting out at work. The reactions are amusing.
Here is a Typical response:
Me: I’m taking 5 weeks off at the end of June, and most of July
Them: Oh, that’s nice. I could never take that amount of time off.
Me: Well, that’s why I’m a contractor.
Them: Are you doing anything special.
Me: Yes, my daughter and I are touring the country on my motorcycle.
Them: Oh. I think we’re going to the Cape.

The concept of touring the country is so inconceivable that many listeners can not even pull together a reasonable response; or they compare my trip, with the same-ol-same-ol that they will be doing.

But once in a while, like today, someone will respond to the trip, and actually ask questions, indicating that I should go on and describe my trip in more detail.

For the benefit of my family and friends who do not ride, here is the non-motorcyclist description of what’s going on:

On June 16th Lisa and I are hopping on the bike and heading to Hampton Beach, after we gather a little beach sand to bring with us, we are heading West…for a couple of weeks. We are taking the Northern route. Some of it will take us to Canada, but for the most part, we will be traveling on US 2, heading toward Portland, OR. I did a lot of this route myself when I rode to Spokane, WA in 2004. After taking in some Pacific Ocean views we’ll be heading to the motorcycle rally in West Bend, WI (just outside of Milwaukee). In between we hope to have some great adventures, meet interesting people, and visit some sights. Lisa will get the hands-on geography lesson of her life.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Plenty of time, right?

68 Days 'till we leave? Isn't that a little more than two months? Ack. That makes me nervous – for a minute. The snow we received this past week had a de- motivating effect. And I’ve been a little busy responding to election questions over on the MOA board.

Good news in the luggage category. It looks like I’ll be borrowing Kevin’s Kuryakyn Full Dresser bag. It will sit ok on the small rack behind the passenger’s seat. I still need to test it with Lisa and a load (when it get’s above freezing around here) Using it will save me from buying something more custom, and/or fabricating more of a shelf back there.

I learned from Voni on the MOA forum that the Going to the Sun Road may not be open until July 1. My initial schedule has us rolling in the last week of June. Now I need to think about the possibility of flipping our route. I’ll need to check back often to see how work is progressing.

I’ve been pulling the atlas out more often and reading about other people’s route ideas. There is a very useful article in the April ON about coming to the rally from the West. I appreciate that Jackie and Chris Hughes put this information together. I can remember pouring over ON issues in 2004 for the very same reason; I carried them with me in my travels. Authors never know who is benefiting from their work! I would have missed out on the Huckleberry Pancakes!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A New Look for '07

I'm sporting a new look this season, thanks to Rose for bringing the REV'IT line to MAX BMW. I've been riding for 8 years now, this the first women's gear I've ever owned.

At 5'10", men's wear has been my only choice. I tend to tune out when I hear the phrase: "made for women". That has always meant "made smaller". Rose talked me into trying the women's pants and jacket. She explained that the REV'IT line is from The Netherlands, where the women are larger! She was right.

I walked away with the Angel jacket and matching Factor pants. Finally pants made for women with an inseam long enough for a BMW! So far, I'm impressed with the attention to detail. I find myself waiting to get caught in the rain in this suit. It seems that REV’IT has been listening to some 'Stitch owners. There is a gusset behind the zipper on the pants; no way is water getting to you! Even the hand pocket zippers are rubberized. More details as I get a chance to test this suit out. But for now, I'll just enjoy looking like a woman on the bike!

Link to 10/23/2007 Follow up Review Here