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Old 08-26-2008, 05:51 AM   #76
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Joined: Jan 2008
Oddometer: 376
Day 12

We awoke to sunny skies and no wind. The TV informed us that the tornado had passed just a few miles north of us, sparing Marquette but destroying 85% of the buildings in the next town over.

We packed our bikes and then headed over to the local diner for breakfast. Grizz said that his parents' home, in Salina KS, was also somewhat damaged.

We returned to our motorcycles and prepared to head out. All suited up, ready to go. I press the starter button and the bike cranks but doesn't want to start. Using the kick starter doesn't help. By now, we realized that this probably had something to do with my delayed throttle response issue. Off came all the stuff and the gas tank for a compression check.
left cylinder: 120psi, normal. right cylinder: 90psi, . We inform Grizz of the problem, and he immediately offers us the use of his shed, where he keeps his Harley. This man's generosity is endless.

My brother and I get to work on tearing the bike down, expecting to find the usual suspect on these 8 valve twins: a crack in the head between the sparkplug and the exhaust valve.

Sure enough, we find a thin crack, and immediately assume that it is the culprit. Now what to do? We already decided to spend the day in Marquette working on the bike, but if we couldn't find a new head, we would simply have to leave my bike for dead. We go to the diner, where the extremely helpful waitress helps us find some motorcycle junkyards and dealerships. A head is available in Salina for $350. Seeing as my bike cost 1/7 of this for me to buy, I decline. More calls don't turn up anything else. We call a local welder and ask if it is feasable to fix a crack in an aluminum engine head, and he says he is not equipped to do so.

The last resort: a 'new' motorcycle. I was prepared to do this all along, I had even brought my title along with me. As luck would have it, a local guy was selling a 85' Nighthawk 450 for $600. Enthused, we ride on over in the back of Grizz's truck. The bike is REALLY rough. holes in the mufflers, dented tank, etc. At least it runs right? I take it out for a spin and think "no way in hell." In any corner where the bike was leaned over a moderate amount, the handlebar started to shake a lot. When I return from the ride the guy selling the bike is already signing his part of the paperwork. I tell him thanks but no thanks and head to the bar. I fire up an old laptop, and using 56k, look at various Colorado craigslists. I figured I could ride two-up with my brother for a day or two until we got into a big city with a lot of bikes. At this point, my brother comes in, excited as hell. "Turn off that computer, lets fix your bike."

As a last precautionary measure, my brother did a leakdown test by flipping the head upside down, and pouring gasoline into the combustion chamber to see what was causing the compression loss. It wasn't the small crack after all! A bunch of gunk had formed on the intake valves, and was preventing them from forming a good seal when they were closed.

The only thing we had to lap valves with was Crest toothpaste, and as it turns out, it works pretty good!

My brother and I stayed up until midnight putting the bike back together, and then doing a bit of a tune up: valve adjustment and setting the timing, just to make sure everything was perfect.

We fire it up, and at first it's running a little rough. I'm a little worried, but dismiss it as the bike not being warmed up. My brother takes it up and down the street a few times, and we're in business. The bike is running flawlessly. And to think, I was going to donate the 500 to the motorcycle museum!
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:53 AM   #77
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Day 13

Everyone was restless to get on the road and burn some miles in the morning. We ate breakfast (oatmeal), thanked Grizz, and started riding. As we approached Claflin, there was a bunch of manure on the road that fell off a truck or something. I was third in formation on this particular day, staggered from Anton. Anton, perhaps not having noticed, or not caring, rode right through the shit. My close proximity and our speed caused this shit to splatter all over my motorcycle, jacket, gloves, and helmet. I didn't find it funny at the moment, and Anton apologized profusely, but the rest of the guys thought this was the funniest thing ever. It sure makes a hell of a story now, but at the time, wiping shit from my visor, I didn't think it was THAT funny.

We also chatted with a guy in the oil business, who did something with the rigs and transportation. he gave us a cool hat and we went our seperate ways.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, if pretty long (409 miles this day, one of the longest ones we did). I guess for some of you that seems like not that much, but for us on our bikes and never going on the interstate, it seemed like a really long ride. We stopped in Pueblo, CO.

To compensate for the mileage, we ate at a decent Mexican restaurant and stayed in a cheap hotel.

Didn't seem very colorful at the border.

Someone in a Prius got pulled over right as we were filling up. A Prius speeding? How ironic!
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:20 AM   #78
Buying more ammo
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Old 08-27-2008, 03:57 PM   #79
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Nice. I'll have to remember about the Crest.

/26er here too.
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:05 PM   #80
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:17 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by XS500RUS

Apparently we were going to get hit by a tornado.

Top notch story.
More please.
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:07 AM   #82
Joined: May 2005
Location: Central Texas
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Originally Posted by XS500RUS

As we were leaving, the guy in charge of the campground (who wasn't particularly thrilled about having 5 guys on bikes staying at his campground the night before) rode up on his golf cart and told us to be careful in a town called Cairo Il.

Funny. When the wife and I rode through Cairo we were told by the local LE not to stay there, it wasn't safe. He directed us over the border to Charleston,Mo.

Great story so far!!
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:18 AM   #83
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admirably resourceful.

keep going. its a great report.


Quo Vadimus?
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:56 AM   #84
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Day 14

After a hearty breakfast of microwaved burritos and coffee at a gas station, we hit the road and rode towards the Rockies. A little ways out of town we took some pictures:

As we ascended we could all feel the altitude taking a toll on performace. Up the steepest grades at 8-9k feet, I could still manage 50mph or so. At 11k feet 40 was more realistic. Even the Seca, with its 80hp engine(massive by my standards) was feeling the elevation.

We bought stuff for sandwiches at an extremely overpriced SafeWay, I guess it's more expensive to truck stuff out to Salida, CO than many other places. We turned off the road and went down an unmarked dirt track and found an excellent clearing in the woods right by an ice cold stream. We took our time eating lunch, and then wetting our feet in the water and drying off in the sun.

We reached the Continental Divide soon after lunch, and took a mandatory photo:

Brandon and Tom went to mass in Gunnison, and Vanya and I bought food for dinner (fried potatoes). We set up camp at a great campground positioned near an artificial lake.
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:44 PM   #85
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Excellent ride report. Sure wish I'd done something like this when I was at Cornell (class of '92)!

'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 29-31, 2015
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Old 08-28-2008, 03:20 PM   #86
dwj - Donnie
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Location: Traveling on the Moto or Escuitla, Chiapas, Mexico
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Cool ride guys! Makes you think about all those folks that think you have to have the newest $25,000 bike to ride across town!
Donnie - Retired & Riding - 2010 990ADV - 54,750 Miles - 2 Continents - 10 Countries
Return to Panama - SPOT
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Old 08-28-2008, 03:55 PM   #87
I Survived The '60s
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Location: Idaho Panhandler
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Wow!!! Can't wait for the rest of the travel report...
I too had an XS500C (Marge, as in Marge Brown, the official Yamaha color for 1976). Fun bike!!
'07 1250 Bandit, '06 650 VStrom, '78 SR500E
'68 Yamaha DT1, '78 TT500 and no money
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Old 08-28-2008, 04:38 PM   #88
Smiles when says dat
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Location: NJ
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Great report, lovin' it. You've got huge cajones for tearing into and fixing those machines. Hats off to you.
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Old 08-28-2008, 05:46 PM   #89
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See, that's all bullshit when people say they don't make kids like they used to.

More balls than brains (maybe), but they must be REALLY big if they're from Cornell.

I have an open Engineering Co-Op position in Newark if you need to earn some dough to make up for screwing off all summer.

Live while you're alive.
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:06 PM   #90
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Location: Tennessee
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Great RR! thanks for posting!

When you were at Sarge's in Columbia you were 4 miles from my house.

I did a similar ride when I was about your age. That was a few decades ago. i still cherish the experience.
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