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Old 07-04-2010, 10:04 AM   #1
ScottDill OP
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Scodill's ride reports

I'm going to put together some reports from my travels over the past couple of years and post them here. Mostly North America and Europe, but Africa is coming up this fall

2010 Around the Lakes
2007 Black Forest
2007 London to Campania ............Part-2
2009 Ontario to Nova Scotia
2009 Ontario To Florida via Deal's Gap (TotD)
2007 Scotland
2007 Scotland & Ireland
2011 BYOB in WV and the new "Pyg"
2010 Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa
2011 Michigan's UP
2011 James Bay & Trans Taiga
2012 South Africa & Lesotho

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Old 07-04-2010, 10:11 AM   #2
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Around the Lakes

With the Long weekend coming up, and no real plans, I decided to head out Thursday morning (Canada Day) for a blast around Lakes Superior and Huron - roughly 2000 miles. Not a lot of pictures taken, but scenery was great. Here are my tracks as recorded by my Zumo 550 and displayed on Google Earth. Right at 2000 miles over the three days.

I considered taking the FXR, but 2000 miles in three days is a bit much on that bike I the Uly was the choice. Besides there were a few dirt roads I wanted to explore and the Buell can handle those faster.

Day 1 - July 1

I left the house at sunrise ~0600, and crossed the bridge at Sarnia into America. There was a bit of a back up and it was the first time that a border guard wanted to look in my saddle bags. Still pretty quick. I took the interstate though much of the lower peninsula as it's not that exciting of a ride anyway. At my second fuel stop for day, I noticed that the bike was leaning over way to much when I put it on the side stand so after fueling , I found a place to lean it against and investigated. Fortunately it was just that the two bolts holding the side stand to the crankcase had just worked themselves loose. No damage and a few turns with a 7/16 did the trick. Here's where I leaned it for the repair.

About a hundred miles south of the Mackinaw Bridge I got off the motorway, crossed into the UP at Mackinaw and took a bunch of minor dirt and poorly paved roads across to the shores of lake Superior. I then headed west along an unpaved forest road for ~30 miles. Very pretty but going was a bit slow as it was sandy. Not so bad but did have a squirmy front wheel in a few spots. Many of the side roads were way too sandy too attempt with this bike on PR2s though! I think that the FXR would actually be better at crossing the thick sand areas because it's so easy to put both feet down ad duck waddle it...can't do that on the Uly. Here's a shot of the bike on the maintained dirt road along the lake.

The park road ended in a closed for construction area so I had to back track. I tried and alternate dirt path for a bit but the sand was so deep that I decided it would be best to avoid and instead took the route around the forest. Spent the night in Marquette and ran into 3 older women who pulled up while I was checking in. They rode two Goldwings and a Softail - all purple - heading to Sudbury. Should have taken a picture, but their giant rigs dwarfed my little Buell as we commandeered the parking under the hotel awning.

Day 2 - July 2

Got on the Road early in the morning and took the back roads towards Duluth. Crossed into Wisconsin and realized it was the first time the that Uly had been there since it was shipped from the factory...a homecoming of sorts. I was pulled over by a Wisconsin Sheriff who said I was going 68 in a 55. He was a nice guy though and let me go with a stern verbal warning.....He was concerned that I couldn't convert from Kilometers correctly. I did slow it down from there least in Wisconsin.

Passing through Duluth, I had to make the Hajj to the Motorcycle Accessory Mecca .... Aerostich......

It is a must see and they welcome a lot of people, but it really isn't set up for it. Though, as I was wearing my Darien and CTB's it was like coming home :-) The catalogue showroom is a small room and browsing all the gadgets really isn't possible. It is THE place to try on a suit before you buy though and a customer care specialist (something like that) will help. They even insist on you wearing it out to your bike so you can get an idea how it fits while riding. I was looking at the one piece Roadcrafters and definitely wanted to try it on before I bought. Turns out a 42R with no mods fits about perfect. I was going to buy a grey suit with black ballistics if they had one in stock...they didn't so I ordered this and got the walk-in discount:

The orange ballistics are semi-custom, otherwise it's a stock suit. It should be completed in 4 weeks as they have a 60 suit backlog. My math says that means 15 suits a week (700 a year) is their total output......Hard to believe...more on that later.

I took the tour....they just grab a random, long-term employee (in my case the web-order stock picker) and off you go. It is an old warehouse that they've used from the beginning of the company. The ground floor is the catalog showroom, shipping and receiving...and a madhouse of activity. Next floor up is sewing, where all of the suits, courier bags and stuff like that are made. Instead of an assembly line, they use a unit construction process where a single worker sews an entire suit. For a Roadcrafter, this amounts to 10-12 hours as there are over 100 components. These are the same workers that handle the repair work as well. I asked about their output... how many suits they could make and no one really seemed to have that figure on hand, though they did mention the current backlog and how long it would take to complete so I guess 15 a week is about right.

The next floor up is where they cut the material from the patterns and make the armor pads. Also up here is the "catalog design department" which consists of one young guy in a cubicle with a PC working away. It also has the "office": 4 desks - Andy (founder - not there), Kim (General Manager) + accounting & payroll. Also on this floor is the design department where they create the patterns and try new things. That's it. Everyone was really friendly and I think they like the attention from customers. It's always cool to see where and how a world famous product like this is made.

I had lunch at a restaurant by the lake and continued up into Ontario. Beautiful scenery the entire way and I didn't capture it effectively, but worth the ride just for the 1000 miles of vistas.

The border crossing was quick and painless. I continued up 61 (Highway 61 Revisited?) to Thunder Bay and then followed the Trans-Canadian Highway North and East. Was getting tired around 1900 so pulled up in Rossport. I checked into a very nice B&B, cleaned up for dinner and headed to the only restaurant in town. It was unusually busy I was squeezed into a large table with other single diners... European style. Had local trout and a couple beers while I enjoyed the conversation with locals and other blues as well. Rossport was quite the find.

Day 3 - July 3

Up early again and out. Beautiful riding, but not challenging so I decided to take the 667 off of the 129 and then down the "Sultan Industrial road" on my to the 114. The Sultan road is not scenic and is 40 miles of partially graded gravel with dust and an occasional truck. I averaged about 30 MPH and acquired a nice grit layer on everything. I would probably avoid it on such a trip in the future, but did add some "challenge" and practice for this kind of riding on a road bike. I did stop along the way to have a lunch of canned tuna and crackers I was packing:

I got home around 2100, but this time of year there's light until 2200 or so.
I was tired, but that's to be expected after 3 consecutive 700 miles days plus stops.

For next trip remember to bring toilet paper, eating utensils.
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:24 AM   #3
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2007 Black Forest

This is an old report I did in the form of an email to friends and family, just copied verbatim it is ....warts and all

Black Forest - May 2007 I had a long weekend so I decided to take the bike into Europe for the first time to experiment with continental touring. One of my original goals when I decided late last year to buy a new bike over here was to basically tour ALL of Europe. For my first test run, I took a 4 day run out to the Schwarzwold…the black forest…..It was a 1500 mile trip through 6 countries…..First day out made it through 5…gotta be a record…for me anyway.

The Picture below was added to the previous email because I thought that I lost the data but was indeed able to find it. My GPS units (Garmin Zumo 500) stores all trip data so that it can later be reviewed, converted to routes, shared, whatever… the less useful, but more visual features is that route data can be displayed on Google Earth, so below is my actual track as recorded by my Zumo.

Zooming in on a section of the black forest, one can get the idea of the road quality below

And zooming even closer, you can see where I ran off the road……Not really, GPS just doesn’t provide THAT much accuracy. But I am fascinated how the actual path is so well recorded…good stuff.

I started off by crossing the channel on the “Eurotunnel” auto transport train. Cost 40 for me and the bike and only takes 30 minutes to go from Folkston to Calais. As you can see from the picture below, they load all the bikes together so you have time to BS with like mindeds for a while. There were about 30 on this load…unusually high as it was a long weekend. That’s a very nice African Twin right behind me.

Let me clear one thing up…..the dead thing lying on my seat is NOT a seat cover…it is part of a sheep skin I picked up in the Southwest that I throw over the seat for long trips (only 8, so cheap too). It’s a European thing and it works really well fighting numb bum….good at regulating heat and cold as well. You don’t even have to worry about it getting wet as it never really penetrates the surface….rain doesn’t bother sheep does it? I think it looks pretty good in it’s rough state even if it is a bit soft and fluffy…..wouldn’t have a fitted one though…gotta just be a dead animal part…much more masculine J

After the crossing I decided to use the motorways to get through France, Belgium and Luxembourg, so I could start the interesting part of the trip at Trier. From Trier I followed the Moeselle valley. This is a winding road that follows the riverbed up to Koblenz, where it meets the Rhine. This is wine country and is very scenic. I ran into lots of cruisers, but not a lot of spirited riding. Wow was it hot, my on-board computer showed an ambient 32 degrees….that’s 90 in American…so pretty damn hot! Below is a pic of the river…typical scenery.

I spent the night in Koblenz…nice small city with scenic river fronts. The main feature is that this where the Moeselle meets the Rhine. So the next morning I started following the Rhine southward towards “der schwarzwold”. The scenery (and temperature!) were similar, but the really neat thing about the Rhine valley is all of the old castles that are perched on the hilltops over looking the valley. It’s a B road so minimal traffic, but with typical German efficiency, there weren’t a lot of easy spots to stop and take GOOD photos. Below is a pretty good one to give the idea:

I followed the river and when I completed the scenic “castlely” portion, I had to ferry across to continue on towards the Black Forest. So I loaded up for another crossing…a truly multi-model trip.

Wow…The bike’s ass really looks big in this picture…don’t tell her OK?

So I meandered down into the forest and the roads starting getting very winding and technical in places. Lots of bikes, lots of BMs, the K1200s were the best ridden. Below is a typical road….this wasn’t like Scotland…the roads were twisty and seemingly remote, but they were German smooth….I don’t see how there could be better roads to ride on. I wish I had a better picture as this road isn’t really representative, but the ones that are more typical are fast and either I wouldn’t think of stopping for a photo, or there really wasn’t a good place.

I stopped in Frieburg, which is considered the southern gateway to the Black Forest and turned out to be a really nice city/town so I decided to stay Sunday night there as well and just do some local exploring the next the day.

On Sunday Morning I headed out towards Switzerland and really passed through some beautiful roads…the B500, B31 & B315 Deutschland highways are highly recommended for anyone in the area. I crossed over the Rhine into Switzerland on this picturesque bridge. Since I was leaving the EU, I expected some sort of passport control but was just waved though. Even if the border guard was an attractive young blonde girl, she was still a German with a machine gun, so I was on best behaviour J. Funny thing is I never needed my passport once…until I crossed the Dover straights back into England.?!?

Over is Switzerland here they have the Rheinfall which is supposedly the largest waterfall in Europe

Frieburg is fairly interesting town. They have little canals (like 1 foot wide) running down the sides of the streets by the shops. Supposedly these provided the medieval shops with non-potable water and they have remained for aesthetic reasons. Lonely Planet describes them as genuine “tourist Traps” as some drop a foot in them. The town is in a valley and a local hill/mountain provides a nice view if you’re ready for a bit of a climb…I was.

On Sunday night the rain started and on Monday morning I headed back in the down pour. No longer having worry about the heat, I got a bit chilly, but full credit to my Hein Gericke – Gore-tex riding suit….I stayed nice & dry. I started over the Alsace mountains…very technical in the wet conditions, but overall a nice ride. I then picked up the N roads and by the time I got to Nancy the rain had let off. I decided to take a break in Metz and it turned out that in addition to having a nice cathedral was quite a nice town in it’s own right.

So after getting warmed up and a little rested, I was ready for the penultimate leg through Belgium and into Calais to catch the train. An uneventful ride brought me to Folkston at about 6PM in in what seemed like a hurricane. I rode all the way back to London at what seemed like a 45 degree angle due to the wind. The GS could handle it and once again my gear kept me dry…so not too many complaints. I later found out that the weather had been real rough all weekend in “old blighty”….good time to be away.

The trip worked out really well and showed me that I was ready for longer tours in the continent. Italy, Spain…(maybe Greece?)....and Scandinavia beckon. The idea of riding up past the artic circle seems particularly tantalizing right now for some reason. It’s only about 1500 miles so a lot easier to reach from here than from anywhere I lived in North America….we’ll see.

I have a week booked off at the end of June and originally planned to run over the Alps and deep into Italy, but have decided to attend a GS rally up in Scotland over the first weekend they have dubbed “The Gathering of Clans” so will probably make due with another short continental run….may into the Alps or Pyrenees but no real far.
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:37 PM   #4
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Old 07-04-2010, 06:54 PM   #5
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Looks good... Did you get the "I Rode There" t shirt when you were at Aerostich?

The Euro report looks very interesting...
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Old 07-04-2010, 07:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
Looks good... Did you get the "I Rode There" t shirt when you were at Aerostich?

The Euro report looks very interesting...
Hmmmm......NO...they didn't mention that...would have been nice

I'm working on my favorite Eurpoean trip report right now...London to Campania....will post before I turn in.....HINT: It includes the Ducati Factory tour
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:38 AM   #7
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Sounds like a successful trip, Scott! This is something I wouldn't mind doing in the future. I still need to decide what I'll be doing for my vacation...
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:33 AM   #8
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Excellent stuff, Scott.

Keep it coming!

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Old 07-05-2010, 11:52 AM   #9
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Nice reports Scott - you've done some great rides... I'm jealous

Enjoy the Africa ride
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Old 07-06-2010, 07:07 PM   #10
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Scott, that was a real blast around Superior,
2000 miles in three days,
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