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Old 05-12-2010, 12:42 AM   #91
T.H.E OP
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We took a successful test drive in town and on freeway to see how the bike handled with the two of us and all of our gear loaded up on it, and discovered that we would have to continue to pare down our meager belongings to reduce the weight as the bike was quite unwieldy to maneuver. We also needed more air in the tires as we were sitting pretty low. At one point, with a little too much throttle after stopping at a light, we almost popped a wheelie! So we made the final kinks and tweaks to setting up the bike fully loaded for two.

We only have 2 pairs of pants each and aside from our riding shoes, 1 pair of flip-flops each. This is not a fashion tour to say the least! And in practicing the art of minimalization, we follow the adages that “what’s mine is yours,” as well as “sharing is caring” as we not only share deodorant and toothpaste but toothbrush as well. For those interested, the following is what made our short list of actual belongings that we could fit on the bike.

2 sleeping bags and 2 sleeping pads
1 four-season mountaineering tent and tarp
2 seven pound bags of clothing for both of us
2 pairs of riding gloves, 2 helmets, 2 pairs of cold weather gloves, 2 riding gear sets (jackets/pants), sunglasses and riding glasses
1 skillet, 2 camping pots, 1 hatchet, 1 multi-fuel stove, 2 plates, 1 cup, 2 spoons & forks, P31 can opener, fire flint, washing sponge, Zip-lock bags, lighters
1 box mixed spices, 1 small bottle olive oil
Video camera, photo camera, batteries, 10 in Netbook, chargers, 2 cell phones
2 boxes of tools, 2 microfiber towels, 1 can of Pledge, fishing pole and reel, assorted fishing tackles, can of Neverdull, oil filter, flat iron
Medicine and first aid kit, 1 toiletry bag, 1 very small camp towel
1 book each, 1 journal each, 2 headlamps, 1 small flashlight, sunscreen, bug spray, and a shit shovel, toilet paper, 2 pens, maps, compass, GPS

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We made our maiden voyage today under a sunny sky and warm breeze. The road from Bakersfield to Barstow was windy as usual and trying to get the beast under control in the wind made for a good challenge. Cynthia is a great passenger, and we sync perfectly on the bike. We left a little late in the afternoon and by the time we got to Barstow, the sun was already setting. We were both exhausted fighting the wind so called it good for the day and settled down. The closest store was the 99 cent store and luckily the grocery section was quite accommodating. Writing some emails and dosing off to a movie capped off the night. Next stop: Arizona.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:53 PM   #92
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Cynthia was quiet and all I could hear was the spinning of the tire. I turned my head to look at her, but a cloud of dust was all I could see. The rear wheel finally stopped spinning and I felt the bike disappearing underground. We were stuck in the deep soft sands of the Colorado River bed. It was already dusk and not a soul around.

That morning we had departed Barstow headed for the Grand Canyon, but the wind didn’t ease up. And neither did the temperature which kept sky rocketing to 98 degrees by only midday. I grew up in desert and seeing triple digit temperatures is not alien to me, but wearing two pairs of pants, a black riding jacket and a giant helmet is not exactly hot weather attire. Sweat kept coming down my forehead into my eyes, and I could taste the salt every time I licked my lips. We stopped in a shade to get out of the heat for even a second, and Cynthia almost passed out from exhaustion.

We had over 7 hours of riding to the Grand Canyon, and we had to make a stop in Phoenix to see my friend, Laura Blackwood, and pick up the new windshield and our bank cards. We also had to be at Albuquerque, NM on the 10th so abandoned the thought of visiting the Grand Canyon for making better time and took the opposite rode for Lake Havasu City in Southern Arizona. We arrived in Lake Havasu City around 5pm and stopped to get some water. Lake Havasu City is home to the famous original London Bridge which was relocated from England to the United States in 1964. We did our grocery shopping and headed south again with hope of finding a camp spot before dark. Highway 95 follows the Colorado River south for the most part, and both side of the highway is desert with cactuses and the occasional hill.

We found a nice campground on the river close to the Parker Dam but at $26 a night, my immediate reaction was to turn around and look for a free site on the opposite side of the highway which was all BLM lands. We took the first passable dirt road that we could find off the highway. The road started with hard packed dirt, turned into loose gravel which grew larger, and then turned into shale. At that point Cynthia wanted to get off the bike as we were fishtailing all over the place. In the distance I saw a scraggly tree, more like a large shrub which I hope would provide a smidgen of shade, and a relatively flat spot so I stood on the pegs to ride the bike down to the good spot. I was all happy until I tried to put the bike on the kickstand and get off. My feet started sinking, and I knew then and there we were in deep shit.

With a block of wood under the stand, I got off the bike and started unloading our gear with the hope of making the bike a little lighter, and I aired down the tires a few pound for better floatation. All I had to do was to cover 100 yards of a loop to get back up to the solid ground, but the ground turned into powder that swallowed everything. With all my might I completed the loop almost home free, but the last section was the worst, and the bike didn’t move an inch forward but kept on sinking down.

We were almost a mile from the highway and no one in sight. The bike went so far down that the rear wheel stopped spinning, and the exhausts were getting buried in the sand. The good thing was that the bike stood upright without needing the kickstand so I could get off of it. Cynthia suggested that we should dig the bike out of the sand. I looked at her like she was crazy and told her so. It seemed like the sand went all the way to China. My master plan was to get AAA to come and pull us out, but that all ended when they informed us they are not responsible for anything more than 100 feet off the closest paved road. My next plan was to go back to the main road in the morning and find someone with a truck to pull us out. Cynthia kept insisting that we try to dig it out. I told her that if you want to dig it out go right ahead, and I got on the phone to talk to commiserate my woes to my friend Andy.

27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="500" height="405" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0">


When I was done with my phone call, I noticed that Cynthia was on the ground under the bike with a flat rock digging out sand. She was covered in sand and dust, but to my astonishment she dug the whole tire out and kept on placing small rocks under the tire to give it some traction. Finally I agreed to give it a shot and after spinning the rear tire on and off and digging it out a few more times, we managed to get the bike onto semi-solid ground. Cynthia got a Girl Scout badge and was honored a medal for saving our butts. I made up for the efforts for setting up the camp with the most comfortable sleeping pad (check out the picture). It looked hillbilly but hell it was comfortable. It’s hot out here; by 7 a.m. we were baked out of the tent. We need to get out of Arizona soon. Stay tuned.

















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Old 05-14-2010, 02:27 PM   #93
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Parker Dam to Phoenix, AZ is about 170 miles, but we took the back roads and that made it an 8 hour ride. I’m convinced that Arizona has the best highways on the planet. The asphalt is flawless, and the scenery is spectacular. That’s why a lot of people migrate south from the northern states during the winter months to bask in the sun and enjoy this beautiful state. The open roads and sunny skies of late were calling not only us, but many other motorcyclists to the road as I have never seen so many motorcyclists on as in I did in Arizona. There were motorcycle gangs and solo riders everywhere we looked. As long as you stay in the shade, the temperatures are actually not too bad but. No wonder you don’t even see bugs out in the heat of the day.

On our way to Phoenix we stopped at a cool little Western town called Wickenburg with hitching posts and statues of people in old-fashioned attire. The town almost looked deserted but it was clean and we found a great shady spot by some fenced off train cars next to the Chamber of Commerce. We were really dehydrated and some lady kindly gave us a cold bottle of water and filled up the rest of our bottles. A friendly local guy named Scott, who was a rider as well, came over to see the bike, and since my trusty Garmin GPS had just stopped working for some odd reason, he gave us some good directions to avoid the Phoenix rush-hour traffic.

We made it to Phoenix rather late at night with no place to stay. Cynthia convinced me that we should try to send out a last-minute request on couchsurfing.com to see if anyone would put us before we tried to find a cheap hotel. We’re on a rather strict budget and try to use hotels only as a last resort. Around 9:15 p.m. we got a call from Ryan who welcomed us to his home in a beautiful Mesa suburb. We were his first couch surfers ever, and Ryan turned out to be a first-class host. His home was immaculate and comfortable. Ryan helped us do our laundry and feel human again after riding in the desert for the past few days with no shower. After sleeping in, we woke up delighted to be on the receiving end of Ryan’s delicious cooking and enjoyed the gourmet breakfast that he had waiting for us before we went on our way. Thank you, Ryan, for opening up your home to us at the last minute.

We found shade and a place to work on the bike at the local Wal-Mart service bay where the employees helped us a lot with providing degreaser, rags, and washing container for me to clean the dusty clogged air filter that was making the bike choke and replace the windshield. My friend, Laura Blackwood, met up with us with a refreshing frappuccino in hand to cool us off and brought us our mail and the new windshield from National Cycle which had been shipped to her for us to pick up. National Cycle generously replaced the cracked windshield at no charge. National Cycle is one of the leaders in the motorcycle windshield market, and they make quality shields for a broad range of motorcycles. I’ve been very happy with their products and will continue to use them. Thanks to Steve at National Cycle for assisting me with taking care of this problem.

Laura is multi-faceted woman with many interests and talents. She has worked in radio and is a great story-teller thanks to her background in radio and education in English. After chatting for a while and reviewing maps with Laura, we said our good-byes and left Mesa for Northern Arizona’s high country. A big thank-you to Laura for her assistance in helping us out with bringing our mail and for the frappuccino. We gradually climbed higher into cooler climes and the cactus-covered land gradually gave way to full-fledged pine forests with rivers and creeks. We stopped in Payson, AZ to pick up some groceries and pushed on to find a place to camp in the woods with nightfall rapidly falling. We found a very nice campsite by the river amidst a stand of tall trees. Cynthia is petrified of the dark and was constantly shining her little bitty headlamp light in every direction for the boogeyman that is supposedly out there. I enjoyed scaring her to death by throwing rocks into the dark and pretending to hear something outside of the tent every once in a while. I hope she gets over her fear sometime soon as we will be camping in much more scary places than peaceful Payson, AZ. Stay tuned.





























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Old 05-15-2010, 12:41 PM   #94
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Meet up with us!

Hi fellow riders! Anyone in Albuquerque? Meet up with us at the Main Library in Albuquerque at 501 Copper NW today. We have a display set up outside with the motorcycle and will be doing an educational lecture and slideshow from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Would love to see you there!
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Old 05-20-2010, 07:20 PM   #95
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May, 16th. Albuquerque, NM


We would like to thank Sarah Jennings and Cheryl Gibson as well as our anonymous donors for their generous donations.

The cool air by the river in the Payson pine forest campsite tempted us to linger a little longer as it was a welcome relief from the heat from earlier in the week. Reluctantly we packed up camp and loaded the bike to get on the road again. The process takes at least a good 30-45 minutes. We started back on the 277 to Albuquerque, enjoying the dramatic and changing scenery from pine trees to cactuses to beautiful red rock cliffs. The open road was especially windy. Highway 40 was even shut down shortly after we passed through it due to high winds. The road seemed never-ending and by nightfall, we still hadn’t reached Albuquerque but wanted to push on to our couchsurfing hosts, Janice and Dan Kostelnick.

We arrived late with 4 layers of shirts due to the wind-chill and were grateful to be met by Janice’s warm and welcoming hospitality. She kept a delicious dinner waiting for us and made us feel right at home. Janice is an exuberant, straight-shooting, creative soul who loves art. She was working on an amazing mosaic project on the wall around her house. Her husband Dan is an engineer and has a calm steady demeanor and sarcastic wit. The two make a good balance for each other. Dan had an awesome garage with every tool imaginable and helped me do some maintenance on the bike.

We are grateful to Yvonne Scott, another fellow couchsurfer, for writing about our World Hunger Exhibition on her blog. Yvonne lives and works in Albuquerque, NM, enjoying her granddaughters, mountains and year around motorcycle roadways. She is a landscape consultant and freelance writer on everything from Mongolian embroidery to her other passion: solo travel on the cheap.

Trying new things comes part and parcel with traveling around the world. In all my 28 years I’ve never even heard of a Flowbee, much less had my head shorn with one by an Italian ex-hippie. But thanks to our next hosts, Katherine and Bob Riolo, I can now cross that off my list! They were contemplating moving to work with the needy in another country after having gone to Nicaragua for one month. Inspired by the movie, The Bucket List, Katherine wrote her own list and was actually going to shave her hair for cancer at an event for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

During our stay in Albuquerque we had two slideshow presentations and lectures scheduled at the Albuquerque Main Library as part of our World Hunger Exhibition. We also had a display outside the library to spread the word about the expedition and fundraise and were able to meet Harry, a physician, who had gone to hear the presentation before ours by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontičres). We are grateful to Joani Murphy, the library manager, for her assistance in coordinating our events at the library.

At the end of our stay, we met Steve, a kind-hearted and free-spirited guy and got to stay in his very cool bus/RV. Steve is a talented wood-working artist and photographer who travels around the world selling his art and enjoying other cultures. He rides a BMW 1200RS that smoked our ride by miles when we went out cruising together.

All told Albuquerque was very kind to us and we enjoyed our time there and the people we met. The flavors of the Southwest have been delightful thus far and we look forward to more.















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Old 05-20-2010, 08:25 PM   #96
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My only regret is that you were a few hours of me, but i didn't find out until I got back from Washington and you were a day farther out.

I would have loved to meet you two.
Well, maybe one day.

Good to see you are on your way and so far the road is treating you well.

Keep smiling and keep going!
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ad·ven·ture n.
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2. An undertaking of a questionable nature.
3. An undertaking of a hazardous nature.

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Old 05-20-2010, 10:57 PM   #97
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When we were passing through Barstow, We were actually going to go north for Vegas but somehow we didn't. We might head north from Santa Fe tomorrow and if we do, i will definitely stop by on the way out to Mexico. I have some big news which i'll PM you shortly. Good to hear from you.
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:19 AM   #98
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If you do make it to Vegas, I have some tent space available for you guys.
(Only one bed and one couch though.)

And if you don't, but get within 150 miles of here again, let me know. I'll swing out and buy you guys dinner or something.
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ad·ven·ture n.
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3. An undertaking of a hazardous nature.

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'86 LS650 Milady's bike
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:43 AM   #99
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May, 21st. Santa Fe Inspiration!

The ride to Santa Fe along the Scenic Byway 14 unfolded like a picture-postcard. You couldn’t have ordered a more beautiful day. The layers of endless white clouds billowed around us in every direction. We stopped in the artsy little town of Madrid, which was once a historic mining town and ghost town, for a pit stop, and then continued on until reaching, America’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, or “the City Different,” as it more aptly nicknamed, is loaded with flavor with charming and interesting architecture and art engaging your senses everywhere you look. The city is home to a host of art galleries and museums for art lovers, including the famed Georgia O’Keefe Museum. We landed at the historic Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza which has retained some of the original adobe walls of the 350-year old home of Santa Fe’s “first family,” the Ortiz family. Many thanks to Suzanne Lehman at the Hilton Santa Fe for sponsoring our first night in the beautiful hotel.

We are still on our fundraising portion of our expedition before turning south for Argentina. It’s hard to put the word fun in fundraising as taking off helmets and riding gear every five minutes to approach another business is not a pleasant task, but the creative vibe of Santa Fe must have rubbed off on Chris while we were there as he had a eureka moment of EPIC magnitude which has been taking up a lot of time in planning. The plan is to set up a charity ride. But not just ONE charity ride-try 50 simultaneous rides in all 50 states!!! This unprecedented event will take place in late August (stay tuned for the exact date and locations as we sort through this). This ride is a nationally and internationally sponsored event, with lots of cool raffle items and entertainment. We are looking for volunteer ride leaders in every state so if you are interested, please send us an email and we’ll put you on the list.

We would also like to thank Jean Salisbury at Lamplighter Inn and Brian Womach at Holiday Inn of Santa Fe for sponsoring the rest of our accommodations while networking and getting the charity ride off the ground. We enjoyed their clean and comfortable rooms and their top-notch hospitality. We both agreed: Santa Fe, NM is a really cool place. We loved it there and bet you will too.

Stay tuned: a motorcycle safety awareness feature and adventures on the road to Denver coming up!















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Old 06-01-2010, 07:47 PM   #100
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May, 24th. Las Vegas, Baby!

As we rode up the 25N, we felt a little bit like we were in the twilight zone, each of us privately musing over our recollection of US geography and wondering how in the world Las Vegas could be on our route. Hadn’t we left that back West, miles ago? But sure enough, sign after sign kept pointing towards Las Vegas. Turns out there is another Las Vegas, in New Mexico, although this one doesn’t come up in the first five pages of a Google search, if you just search for Las Vegas instead of Las Vegas, NM, but it should given its colorful and storied history.

Las Vegas was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings which could serve as fortifications in case of attack. Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed, “Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas.” Among the notorious characters were such legends of the Old West as: dentist Doc Holliday and his girlfriend, Big Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Hoodoo Brown, Durango Kid and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler. A number of films were made in this town, and Patrick Swayze, American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter, had a ranch in Las Vegas.

After grabbing some New Mexican grub in Vegas, we headed out into the fierce winds, like 2 bugs on a bull. The wind was blowing around 45-50 mph. and pushing us back and forth all over the highway. Sometime during the ride, the plastic cradle for the GPS which was mounted on the front left side of the bike broke off. Luckily, Chris was able to grab the GPS before it fell and smashed to bits on the highway. We pulled over at a rest stop to get a reprieve from riding in the winds. Chris latched his helmet onto the front left pannier as he had done hundreds of times before, and the rack supporting the pannier sheared completely off and fell to the ground with the pannier.

Thankfully a friendly family traveling in their RV came over to chat and gave us some rope to help strap the box to the rear left pannier. It’s important that the weight on the bike be properly be balanced and distributed so as to ensure the maximum safety while riding. We were already having trouble riding in the wind but after having to re-position the left front pannier to the back, we were wobbling back and forth in the wind.

With miles to go until Denver, Colorado, we were trying to make good time to reach our couch surfing host, Paul Cornelius, but had to ride between 45-65 miles per hour. This slower place made it easier to spot the antelope dotting the plains as we drove by. The sun set gloriously against the mountains, and we still were hours from Denver. We threw on more layers to help beat the wind-chill and pushed on until we arrived exhausted at Paul’s doorstep. Paul opened the door before we even dismounted from the bike and came out to welcome us. Although our stay with him was short, he took the time from his busy schedule to visit with us and share stories about life and travels around the world. He’s traveled all over Central and South America as well as lived in Europe and will be leaving shortly on a back-packing trip to Asia and Africa for the next 2 years. The next morning we lucked out and found the coolest guy on the planet with more tools that I could care for. We’ll be fixing the bike here in Denver and get on the road. Stay tuned!











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Old 06-01-2010, 09:59 PM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T.H.E
May, 24th. Las Vegas, Baby!


Well, ya got me there with the Las Vegas header. lol.

As for the leading boxes, those racks are rated for about 10lbs total load.
I imagine you could put up to 20 in smooth riding conditions, but that includes the weight of the Box and bolts to mount it too.
While I think the idea is a good one in spirit, you have to much weight up there for them to survive.

What you need to do is either to get them down to a total weight of less than 12 lbs or have them remade out of stronger square stock.

It wouldn't be hard to take a second set to use the clamps off of, and cut the old square stock off the current ones and the new ones.
The add stock that is the next size thicker for the base.
Next add the second set of clamps an inch lower than the first and add a brace from the second clamps up to the front of the main support.

This would allow much more weight. maybe even more than you would Want up there.

After this improvement, the next failure point would likely be with the crash bars themselves. lol.

To make the repair easier, you might try finding square stock that just fits Into the old stuff. but you would need to have it welded to the clamp to do any good, so you would be cutting the top and sides off and leaving an inch or so on the bottom to help with alignment. at the clamp.
The cut the bottom and most of the sides off the platform leaving about an 1/8" to help with alignment there.

If you are redesigning them, you should also move them as close to the crash bar as possible. giving the box less leverage would make it stronger too.

Glad to hear you made it safely to Denver.
I have always loved playing with the wind. though most MC riders don't seam to share my joy with it.
Must be my sailing roots.
__________________
Peace in your heart & Light on your soul.
>^..^<

ad·ven·ture n.
1. Participation in exciting or hazardous experiences.
2. An undertaking of a questionable nature.
3. An undertaking of a hazardous nature.

'83 GL650swi "My Little Grey Lady"
'86 LS650 Milady's bike
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:31 PM   #102
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Rocky Mountain High

Early dawn found us packing the bike grateful for a few hours of shut-eye out of the wind. We said good-bye to Paul as he had to head to work and found a Wal-Mart to buy the replacement rack for the bike. Then we camped out at the Golden Arches as per usual, when we need Wi-Fi, to try to find some place to work on the bike. I posted an SOS on the GS Resources forum to see if anyone from the Denver area could help us out. After a few hours we were relieved to get a call from fellow GSer, Tom Kent, who invited us to his home in Littleton, CO. He met us with lemonade and invited us to his granddaughter, Amberlynn’s birthday party down the street where we met the rest of Tom’s family.

We love meeting new people on our trip. So many people have gone out of their way to help us or to make us feel welcome, and Tom’s family was no exception. Tom and his lovely wife, J’Amy, graciously welcomed us into their home, along with their son, Thomas, and cat, Tweak. They made us feel like part of the family while we were there. We were even able to attend Thomas’s graduation. Congratulations Thomas!

Tom is an airline pilot with a love of restoring old bikes. He has a fully-stocked garage and was even in the process of adding a shop to work on his projects. Soon we were swapping stories and chatting like old buddies. Two heads are often better than one, and as we parleyed ideas for the bike, the original project of fixing the rack for the pannier evolved into a multi-faceted task. A three hour job turned into a 4 days of fabrication.

The main problem with the hillbilly racks was that they were aluminum and were not designed to hold anything more than 10 pounds. They broke from the weld joint every time in the same spot leaving the whole rack useless. The cure to that came from a metal scrap yard where we bought aluminum stocks and sheets to make our braces. Two semi V shape brackets on sides, and two on the top did the job but the aluminum tube of the rack was so thin that you could barely put any force on the bolts. We cut aluminum tubes to go over the bolts and keep the main tube from crushing under the force. To make it even stronger, we fashioned four steel tube braces to go from the engine mounts to the boxes to keep the boxes from swinging left and right. To cap it off, we changed the oil and added two 55W Halogen fog lights to the front to fix the lighting problem.

I lived so long with the pain of the old and bent-up side-stand that I almost forgot what a good side stand would be like. Not any more. Tom is the master of fabrication, and all it took was two aluminum hockey pucks and two machine screws to put an end to that old pain. He even welded the backside of the stand to make it sturdier and now I have a fully functioning side stand. Tom promised me to burn that old block of 2x4 I hauled around for under the stand along with his Harbor Freight Sawzall!

We bid farewell to Denver in the late afternoon with plans to head to Laramie to stay with some couchsurfing hosts there. Taking a scenic route through the Colorado giants, we soon encountered breathtaking views and snow along the road. We entered into the Rocky Mountain National Park enjoying peaks at antelope and elk along the way. We had to go slowly in several sections of the road where there was gravel or there were workman taking down trees ravaged by the rampant beetle kill. The light started fading just as to our dismay, we reached a road barricade with no hope of passing through. There wasn’t a soul in site and the official campgrounds we passed on the way had all been closed. We would have to go a long ways back to make it out of the park and into a town, and at this point I was nervous about hitting an animal in the poor visibility. I’ve already had some close calls in the past in my Jeep and wasn’t eager to press my luck, as one wayward deer would likely make road kill out of us on a bike. We tried to call our couchsurfers in Laramie to let them know we can’t make it and soon realized that neither one of us had cell phone reception. We walked around the hillsides trying to get a signal but the cell phone gods were not on our side.

Deciding to forgo dinner as we were too cold and tired to cook, we pitched camp, making sure to hoist our food up a tree a good distance away in case a hungry bear came around. In the morning we met a couple from Germany who was also waiting for the road to open. They said that it was supposed to open that day with a ceremony to start the season. We are heading up north for Montana for a few days. It’s raining and snowing hard in Teton and Yellowstone so we have to make our call…























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Old 06-20-2010, 12:15 PM   #103
T.H.E OP
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June, 4th. Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

First I would like to thank Frank Perreault of the GS Resources for his great support and generous donation.


As we stated earlier, we are still on the fundraising tour in the U.S. and also putting into place details for the charity rides. It helps to have a home base to work on the details and also looking to avoid tornados and flooding due south and east, we decide to keep riding north to my hometown of Helena, MT.

We continued on into Wyoming. The winds were with us again, a seemingly ever-present part of our trip by now. But each time they seemed to blow more viciously. When we would stop for breaks, it was difficult to walk in the wind. Sometimes Cynthia takes pictures as we whiz by some pretty scene on the bike, but the rabid winds hamper those photo-opt moments greatly, so mostly she just hangs on tight to my back. We have a very limited (close to non-existent) budget for hotel stays and try to camp, couchsurf, or get sponsored stays when we can. But with nightfall upon us, feeling exhausted and windblown, Cynthia put us up in a hotel with a free breakfast. After a good night’s rest and a hot breakfast in our bellies we headed for Teton and Yellowstone National Park.

The road through the park is kind of a shortcut but living in Montana has taught me a thing or two in the past; never trust the weatherman, and be ready for snow even in July! I was hesitant to take that route, but since Cynthia has never been to that part of the country and was really looking forward to it, I went for it anyway. After all it was sunny, and I didn’t want to chicken out prematurely.

The weather started out to be promising, but then all bet’s were off and we had the most intense, crazy riding day I’ve ever experienced: driving rain, sleet, snow, hail, poor visibility, freezing our assess off, you name it. The irony is that I was hoping to find “good” weather by heading north, and on this day, we happened to be riding in the coldest spot in the U.S. Unfortunately, due to the weather, all we could manage was a brief drive-by tour of Yellowstone, but Cynthia was elated nonetheless at each new mountain peak and animal we encountered. We actually were the only crazy motorcyclists on the road until we reached Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

At times we rode on with maybe 25 feet of visibility in a complete whiteout. My face was frozen, thanks to my open face helmet. Snow kept plastering my goggles and every time I cleaned them with my wet gloves, it made it worse. I had to take off my goggles to actually see where I was going, and our speed dropped down to 20 mph. Every time we stopped Cynthia was more amazed at the scenery, and I was more apprehensive of the situation. As a matter of fact, it was so cold that I had icicles hanging from my knees, and my cheeks were almost frostbitten despite of my ski mask.

It was pitch black and pouring icy cold rain by the time we made it out of Yellowstone. At a gas station in West Yellowstone, we were told that it would take at least another 2 hours to reach our next couchsurfing destination in Bozeman by way of Hyalite Canyon, and that it would surely be snowing. We sought shelter and Wi-Fi at a McDonalds but couldn’t get a connection. We finally started calling hotels from my GPS and were soon finding out that almost every place in town was sold out! Several places even ran out of food, including McDonalds! We lucked out in getting a last available room at one joint which turned out to be reminiscent of a hotel that would be used in a thriller or horror movie, but at least it was a place to warm up.
The next day we suited up and started off in the rain anxious to get to Helena, MT. As the miles rolled by the sky cleared up, and we drank in the spacious skies of the state that is aptly named the Big Sky Country. I never imagined that I would be coming full-circle in such a short time since staring my trip, but life has a way of bringing the unexpected, and sometimes it works out better than any plan you could make! Stay tuned!



































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Old 07-14-2010, 04:43 PM   #104
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July, 13th. Short way round

What I heard the most in past few weeks was the question: “Are you back already?!!!”
I never thought that I would see Montana again, at least not for a long, long time, but here we are, back to where I started a year ago. Since I started this journey on my motorcycle, I have covered Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alaska, British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. It seems like forever ago but such a short distance, more like a shakedown ride to me.

I learned a lot about riding and more importantly living on the road. I met some amazing people, saw some beautiful places, and built a sophisticated touring machine out of a 1982 Suzuki. But my true discovery came in the form of a dawning comprehension of the struggles that go on every day on every corner of this planet: in particular, the travesty of extreme poverty and malnutrition.

Well actually that wasn’t it. I discovered that I’m not the only one, and there are hundreds if not thousands who share the passion to help bring relief to those suffering from hunger. This journey evolved beyond the scope of my one-man band, and eventually I founded and incorporated the Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp., a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization to bring together those with a similar passion and desire to give a helping hand to ordinary people during times of extraordinary tribulation.

This is not an impressive resume for a so-called adventurer. From the minute I got back to Montana, I had the itch to get back on the bike again and head out for the unknown. But you know how it goes, when the bike is ready, I’m not, and when I’m ready the bike is not. Since I had a warm dry garage, I figured to fix everything I could possibly fix and with that in mind, I tore up the bike to pieces again.

I had some problem with the steering head bearings (which turned out to be far more gone that I thought), the rear brake needed new pads, the headlight wiring had to be redone to fix the voltage drop, wire the new fog lights, add some reflectors to the boxes for more visibility, add more lights to the back to mark the width of the bike, hardwire my GPS, Install the new camera mount, sand and clear-coat the side covers (cosmetic only but they had been bothering me for a long time), fix the oil leak form the cam-chain tensioner, head gasket and oil pressure switch, Install an alarm system, change the gearbox and drive shaft oil and grease everything.

The bearing races were in awful shape; no wonder this bike wobbled a lot in low speed. I could run my fingernail across it and dig in deep in the grooves made by the roller bearings. The rear brake pads were almost to the metal, and they were so far down that I could barely see any brake fluid in the reservoir. After adding 5 relays, the electrical system is now in tiptop shape and the headlight is as bright as it can be. I also added a security system with a screaming siren to ward off bored and crazy kids in third world countries; it also gives me a peace of mind while sleeping as I know it will go off the second a bird lands on it.

By the time I was done with all these chores, the bike looked and felt so good that I didn’t want to ride it anymore! In the meantime, Cynthia went back to California to give her two week notice and quit her job for the long run. She has come a long way. To be honest I didn’t think that she would make it more than 3 days, but she braved the road for 3000 miles and 40 days and she was eager for more. She quit her job of seven years as a social worker to join a crazy expedition on a motorcycle around the world. I did the same thing, but this was my dream. She wasn’t a rider, nor had she ever camped out more than a couple of nights at a time in her whole life without being close to her familiar surroundings. That’s adventurous in my book.

I picked her up at the airport in Missoula, and we are packing again, this time even smaller. We’ll be on the road before you know it, and this time no return for at least five years…

















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Old 07-16-2010, 06:40 PM   #105
mpanther
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Soon, the road will stretch out before you again.
It is a wonderful feeling.

I love how it feels to start a trip on a bike that you know is in tip top condition and ready for anything.
and I am sure it will feel like a new bike with the replaced steering bearings.
mine sure did.

Looking forward to seeing you either on the road or here in Vegas if you make it this way. (both would be better. *grin*)

As always, best of luck and safe travels.
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ad·ven·ture n.
1. Participation in exciting or hazardous experiences.
2. An undertaking of a questionable nature.
3. An undertaking of a hazardous nature.

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