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Old 10-10-2010, 02:53 PM   #1
Dr. Greg OP
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NEW Mexico to NEW England on Dr. Greg's NEW Ducati Milledue

No, not "mildew"...milledue is pronounced MEE-lay-DOO-ay and means "1200" in Italian. More on that later...

This is the beginning of a ride report chronicling a 3-week, 6,000-mile trip I took from New Mexico to New England (and back) during September-October of 2010. Starting with this posting I hope to post one day of riding every day; therefore this whole thing should be finished in about three weeks.

Today is the preface; the first day of riding starts tomorrow...


PREFACE

As a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Mexico, I have been tied to the academic calendar for 34 years (yes, I've worked there that long). And the fall is my favorite time of year to ride. BUT my sabbatical request for the Fall 2010 semester was approved, so time to plan a fall trip.

I'm a Westerner born and bred (born in rural SoCal, went to college in NoCal, came to New Mexico for the prof job) and tend to exclusively ride in the Western US. However as one gets older (I'm 63) it's good for the ol' brain to shake things up, right? So...this fall I headed out East.

#1 son lives in NYC, so this trip is a good excuse to visit him. I was planning on leaving in late September, but #1 son (aka Paul) is on the "best men's roller derby term in the country" (according to NPR): the New York Shock Exchange (NYSE). And their next "bout" was on Saturday, September 18 (vs the "Harm City Homicide" from Baltimore). I found this out on Friday, September 10...the next "bout" after that was another month off.

So if I wanted to see the derby bout, I had to be in NYC by Friday, September 17. Hmmm, if I left on Monday, September 13 I should be able to make it.


Dr. Greg's New Bike!

After putting 85,000 miles on my two '06 Ulys (first bike hit a deer at 55,000 miles and totaled himself, second one is still my commuter) when the news broke that BMC was history I started thinking of the Uly's successor. I test rode all logical candidates, the last being the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200S. After an 80-mile test ride on the MTS 1200S---which included about 20 miles of semi-rough dirt road---I knew that IT WAS THE ONE!!

Don't wanna go into the reasons I didn't like the others, although in the case of the 1200GS it was just too darn big for me (I'm 5-9, 140), while the Multistrada 1200S fit me like a glove.

So on July 16 the '06 Uly got a stablemate, a red Touring model (#4 son's '91 Honda Hawk in background).


Since I was planning on taking camping trips with it---and I don't tend to travel especially light---I also ordered the top case, and the larger side case lids (and they are WIDE).

While some riders are satisfied with the stock windscreen on the MTS 1200, I wanted a little more protection, so---based on prior experience---I fitted a Laminar Lip (now secured with their bolt kit).


The LL makes a HUGE difference for me. But everyone's taste differs. I have been told the LL looks hideous on the Multi, but hell, I'm an engineer and form follows function, right? Plus I don't think it looks that bad.

Gotta have a decent tank bag, and this one fit perfectly (with SW-Motech gas cap mounting ring).


Mount my Zumo 450 (it survived the deer strike with minimal damage at upper left), and the "visor-cleaning" sponge (lotta bugs back east, right?), and I'm almost ready...


To test out the handling of the loaded bike, I took a weekend "shakedown cruise" camping trip down to the Gila Mountains of southern New Mexico, here's a pic of the loaded bike at a Burger King parking lot in Socorro, NM. Remember, I said I didn't travel light (for example, I take a full-size pillow---no more sleeping with my head on a stuff sack full of smelly clothes). Plus for the East Coast trip I had to take some decent clothes in case we went to a classy restaurant in NYC (which we did).


Although I had previously tweaked the suspension setup to suit my weight (I figured whatever Ducati used for the "nominal" rider had to be heavier than me). So I took two turns of preload out of the forks, then a couple electronic clicks out of the rear preload, and likewise for F/R C/R damping. Seemed to work just fine. That was in both TOURING and SPORT modes, but for "RIDER ONLY." As I found out on my shakedown cruise, with the bike loaded, the stock settings for "RIDER plus LUGGAGE" seemed good, so I left them alone. Maybe all my gear made up for my weight.

Then I did one final suspension tweak: I figured if there were situations where I wanted my feet closer to the ground---at 5-9 I tippee-toe the MTS 1200, just like the Uly (both with stock seats, not lower ones), so I set up the URBAN riding mode with much less rear preload. That way if I wanted more low-speed stability (e.g. paddling with feet) I could just switch 'er into URBAN mode and I was closer to the ground (still couldn't flat-foot, but better). This electronic suspension stuff is pretty cool!

Did an oil change, and filled with Mobil-1 15W-50, my personal favorite. Although the capacity is listed as 4.33 quarts, I put in 4 quarts and the level was a little bit above the "full" line on the sightglass. I figured it would use some oil on the trip and drop a ways. How wrong I was.

Oops, one more thing. With 4,291 miles already on the bike, there was no way the rear Pirelli Scorpion Trail was gonna hold up. After back-ordering one from my local dealer (who sells tires as a loss leader) I finally found one online, and barely got it in time. Since I mount my own tires, I figured with that single-sided swingarm getting the rear wheel off oughta be easy.

Well, you gotta remove a fair bit of stuff, so it's not THAT easy, but it's not THAT hard, either. Always a trade-off, it seems. Here's proof that I got it done...whaddya think of that hideous exhaust plenum?

As I get older I find I like QUIET better and better, and---for me---the stock system sounds just right. And I don't mind the hideous plenum, etc. Like I said, form follows...

So by Sunday afternoon I was all loaded and ready to go. Then my buddy Tom Rolland (of Ducati belt buckle fame) dropped by on his BEAUTIFUL new 1990 Ducati 851 Superbike (hey, it says so!) Man, that thing is GORGEOUS...and it's 20 years old. Wow.


After yakking with Tom for a while, he left. Then I began to get cold feet. Never having been back east (except in airports and conference venues) I tried to convince Mrs. Greg that I should go west instead. But she finally got me straightened out, with a plea to photograph the house she grew up in in State College, PA (her dad was a Penn State professor at the time). OK, okay, I'll go east.

And so I did.

One of my characteristics is that given enough time I tend to forget all the bad stuff about any activity. This applies to the East Coast Trip, as you will see in time.

I had contacted several folks on the "Tent Space" list for the outbound leg, and planned on staying with them. For the return leg I was gonna mainly camp, weather permitting.

So if you're still interested, tomorrow's segment will be from Albuquerque, NM to Dodge City, Kansas.

Oh yeah, regarding the "mildew" thing. In the promo vids, some of the Italian Ducati personnel referred to the MTS 1200 as the "Milledue" (remember, MEE-lay-DOO-ay) which I think sounds a lot classier than Multistrada or "Multi" (or---heaven forbid---"Mutley" which the Brits seem to love calling it). So Milledue it is.

--Doc
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Old 10-10-2010, 05:31 PM   #2
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Laugh



Subscribed, Good Luck on your Ride, that you already took. Watch out for the "Stinky Feet and Cheese".
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:46 AM   #3
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Eagerly awaiting the rest of the report...
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Old 10-11-2010, 09:57 AM   #4
Dr. Greg OP
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Monday: Albuquerque, New Mexico -- Dodge City, Kansas

As you recall from my "preface" yesterday, on the outbound leg of this ride I had hoped to stay with inmates on the "Tent Space" list. However...there are NO inmates in Western Kansas, which was my general direction. In fact there's NOT MUCH in Western Kansas, as I was to discover on my return leg.

Now I grew up watching "Gunsmoke" on TV (when it originally aired), with Marshall Matt Dillon, Chester with the limp, Miss Kitty, etc. As I recall, that show was set in Dodge City, which became my destination for the first night.

There are two general ways to get from ABQ to Dodge City: (1) I-40 east, then northeast on US 54, or (2) I-25 north, then northeast on US 56. The I-40 route is a little shorter, but I-40 is LOADED with trucks. So I-25 it was.

I got up about 0530, had Mrs. Greg's usual good breakfast, rolled the Milledue out of the garage, thumbed the switch down to wake up the electronified beast, and hit the starter button. Everytime the starter motor makes its "voltage-sucking" sound I think the thing may not start. But it always has.

Mrs. Greg dashed out of the house and got this pic of me with her iPhone:


FWIW, my helmet is a Shoei Hornet-DS; love those DS-style helmets!

I-25 heads north through Santa Fe, then as it bends northwest it skirts the flanks of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains. It's much nicer scenery than the grim high plains of east-central New Mexico on I-40.


I rode northeast on I-25 for about 120 miles, then stopped at Las Vegas, New Mexico (I hear there's another Las Vegas somewhere...) to refuel.


Although I could have made the full 190 miles to Springer, New Mexico (where I turn east on US 56) my body said 120 miles was enough. In normal highway riding the Milledue has a range of over 200 miles (with me riding, anyway), but my poor ol' 63-year old body has a total of TEN fractures (incl. femur) and THREE bad concussions (one for two weeks) and...well, 120 miles was enough.

So 65 miles later I got to Springer. The only thing I know about Springer is that it's home to the New Mexico "Boys' School"...as in correctional institution. But let's not hold that against it.

Heading east on US 56 one exits the mountains and enters the high plains country of northeast New Mexico. Having lived in Albuquerque since January 1977, I've never once passed through northeast New Mexico. So this was virgin country for me!


US 56 is signed as following the Santa Fe Trail:


Looking north I saw the last mountains I was gonna see for a while: Laughlin Peak (8,820 ft), and Sierra Grande (8,720 ft).


After Springer the only town of any size for quite a while is Clayton, New Mexico. I planned to stop there for lunch. Only thing I knew about Clayton is that there were some wind turbines out there. Main street looked a little quaint:


Mrs. Greg buzzed me with a #4 cowcatcher the night before, so no need to patronize Art's...he was closed anyway.


Unless there's a good reason not to, like many of you I tend to stop at fast-food joints while traveling, but there was apparently NOTHING in Clayton! I backtracked once, then tried a main-looking cross-street. After a few blocks there was a Pizza Hut. Not a big fan since they now try to be a fancy "sit-down" restaurant with a waitperson, tips, etc. But there was nothing else, so I got a pizza.

Even though I was still in the "arid West" I could tell that there was more humidity here. The humidity in Albuquerque (and much of the Colorado Plateau) is frequently in the single digits. I could tell my T-shirt was gonna be a little rank that night.


Text Message Archiving

I texted Mrs. Greg at almost every stop (we both have iPhones) to stay in touch, but---equally importantly---to have a record of my thoughts for this ride report. My thoughts at this particular time were: "NM is sure a beautiful state; don't realize it till you leave."

From the first pic you might tell I was wearing fairly warm textile riding gear; I had also brought a mesh jacket & pants suit, and the weather was warm enough to change. So I did.

Preparing to start again, I had an anxious moment when the bike key wasn't in my pocket!! Finally found it stuck to the front of the tank bag. No idea...but WHEW!

About 3:00 in the afternoon I was somewhere in the Oklahoma panhandle, and it was HOT! Saw a sign "roadside rest" so I pulled over. From the picnic table in the shade, this was the view to the north.


The Milledue has a fairly accurate thermometer, and yes, it was warm.


Sure felt good to take a break. Continuing on, there were huge crop circles of corn:



Entering the Twilight Zone...

Crossing the Oklahoma panhandle was the strangest experience. Almost no traffic, almost no people or towns... It almost felt like a Twilight Zone moment. Dunno...

Anyway, got to Dodge City uneventfully, and checked into a motel. My text message log to Mrs. Greg says:

"That Milledue was sure a pleasure to ride today. I think I'm substantially less fatigued than if I'd been on the Uly."

And it WAS a pleasure to ride. Going through those long lonely stretches gives you time to think. I don't wear earbuds or anything...just play music in my head (I've got perfect pitch) and think. Meditation, I guess. Relaxed awareness and all that. It's good.

Since I had all my camping gear, I fixed dinner in the motel room: Ramen noodles! And they tasted good, as always. And wow, the USC football game (I've got degrees from USC and Stanford...scholarships to rich kid schools for this poor boy) was on the TV, so I watched. And USC beat Virginia, 17-14. Don't care much for NFL, but I follow those two schools.

BTW, I'm in the same graduating class as O.J. Simpson; we even lived on the same street at USC (but his apartment was fancier). After we both left USC our careers diverged somewhat, though...

So---satisfied that the Milledue was running great, USC had won their game, and I had ADV inmate "superdutyGS" to stay with in Monroe City, Missouri the following night---I set the iPhone alarm for 0500 and went to sleep. It had been a good day, and my qualms about heading east had lessened somewhat. Somewhat.

--Doc
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Old 10-11-2010, 10:53 AM   #5
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Ha!

What a great beginning. I'm in!

I was hooked when you said you were getting cold feet heading east. Then you mentioned Dodge and I was wondering if you might take 56. In 2005 I rode my KTM950 from MotoGP back home to Boston. I hopped over the top from Taos and took 56 through Dodge to I-70. Strange road. RR tracks, grain elevators, and co-ops.

Looking forward to the rest. Surely you'll take one of my various coast/coast routes. I'll be interested in reading about riding through Manhattan too .

I've been meaning to test ride one of those new Ducs, but I worry about bending its wheels on rough dirt roads.

PS: I also follow the Cardinal. they are looking pretty good since they got Harbaugh as coach. My best friend played on Plunkett's teams so I sort of adopted them. Me...I want to San Jose State .
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Old 10-11-2010, 04:35 PM   #6
Dr. Greg OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantah
I've been meaning to test ride one of those new Ducs, but I worry about bending its wheels on rough dirt roads.
When I was mounting the rear tire I was flat AMAZED how light the rear wheel is (of course no sprocket nor disk)...the flip side of that is what you said...

Quote:
PS: I also follow the Cardinal. they are looking pretty good since they got Harbaugh as coach. My best friend played on Plunkett's teams so I sort of adopted them. Me...I want to San Jose State .
Yeah, I was a grad student at Stanford from '69 to '76 (a year off due to one of the big fractures and concussions) and fondly remember the Plunkett years, and corresponding Rose Bowl wins over Ohio State (or Michigan?)

--Doc
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Greg
BTW, I'm in the same graduating class as O.J. Simpson; we even lived on the same street at USC (but his apartment was fancier). After we both left USC our careers diverged somewhat, though...
--Doc
Good to know... That said, I'm not clear on the electronic suspension. Were you able to actually lower the bike?
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:56 AM   #8
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Good to know... That said, I'm not clear on the electronic suspension. Were you able to actually lower the bike?
Yes, to a degree. Maybe an inch or a bit less. But it is instantaneously selectable---if you want your feet closer to ground for some reason just select that mode. But it's not "lowering" in the usual sense.

I only set that mode up for low-speed maneuvering. For general riding I used TOURING and SPORT modes, which had "normal" preload settings.

If you're confused, just wait till you try to modify the settings!

--Doc
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:58 AM   #9
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Tuesday: Dodge City, Kansas -- Monroe City, Missouri

Dodge City, Kansas is on the Western edge of the Central time zone, so sunrise (0720) is a little late. Hard for me to get started before sunrise, even though this is the longest mileage day of the trip (a mere 527 miles, but...)

After getting back on US 56 heading east with the SUN RIGHT EXACTLY DIRECT INTO MY EYES WHICH WERE CRYING "UNCLE", within a few miles my eyes said "ahhhh" as I was greeted with this strange weather condition...virtually unknown to us New Mexicans:


I've heard it called fog, I believe...

Not much to show on US 56 through central Kansas...



Feels good to be back on a DESMO...

With not as much need to focus, my mind wanders down to the "Testastretta-11" 1198 with its smooth, loping, syncopated beat beneath me. Many of you have disassembled cylinder heads, and valve springs are STIFF! I teach classes in "machine dynamics" and we specifically analyze cam profiles, valve acceleration and jerk (time derivative of accel), and such. I've never liked the thought of the poor cam lobe having to push against that stiff valve spring.

But now that I'm back on a "desmo" that no longer bothers me...with no springs, the valvetrain is caressed by two complementary cams that gently bring the valve off the seat, accelerate and decelerate it to full lift, the caress it back to closure. MUCH more civilized, and I can't help but feel my blood pressure decrease as I bond with that beautifully-engineered desmodromic valvetrain. Yes, I'm an engineer...

Getting back to my surroundings, I'm always impressed by these courthouses, or whatever, in the smallish towns.


Seem to recall Pawnee Rock in one of the historical novels I've read in the past few decades:


Here's a good example of a feature I was to see many times on this day and in a couple weeks later on the return trip. Does the U.S. still feed the world?


Eventually US 56 hit I-70, and I morphed along with the rest of the interstate traffic. Nothing here, move along...

Now that we're in Eastern Kansas with civilization, I stopped at a burger joint in Emporia, Kansas for lunch. Much better than a pizza, IMHO. From here it was I-35 up to Kansas City.

But before that I stopped for gas in Olathe, Kansas, where my phone log said "I'm pretty tired." I remember Olathe from the book "In Cold Blood" in which Dick Hickok and accomplice Perry Smith stopped for something...to see family, or what? Anyway, nobody shotgunned me at the gas station, and I left for Kansas City, where I was greeted by a sign proclaiming...

...Road Construction for 30 miles! I missed a turn, then hit stop-and-go traffic...ARRGGHH! Get me outta this big city! The hydraulic clutch on the Milledue is pretty easy to work, but my 98-pound weakling hand (I have small hands) still got a workout.

Finally got through KC, and stopped at a rest area north on I-35, where I put on a brave smile for the camera...


At the rest area a guy walked over and asked where I was heading, "Albuquerque, NM to NYC and beyond," I told him. He was impressed, which made me feel good. This is a big trip for me, anyway. He also said I was going none too early for upstate NY (which I planned to visit); the temps were gonna be dropping there...

The immediate goal was Cameron, Missouri, where I turned east on US 36: four-lane but not interstate. Kind of a relief. And pretty country...greener than New Mexico. Just a beautiful day: blue sky, puffy clouds, no wind, warm sunshine...can't complain about that.


The shadows were gettin' a little longer when I passed this barn that for some reason I photographed...


After---for me---a long day of riding I finally found the abode of inmate "superdutyGS"...JR greeted me like a long-lost brother and immediately thrust a Sam Adams into my hand. My kinda guy! Took this pic on shutter-delay...didn't mean to shove my Sam Adams up JR's nose...


JR said that dinner would be ready shortly...here's what he had in mind:


I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! I forgot how much I ate but it was probably too much. Nah, it was just right. Man, what a host. JR has a wife and sons like me but his are all better looking and better behaved.

With a screen name like his, he oughta have a GS, right? And so he does. Here it is with one of his sons (Evan or Dane...I'm sure I'd get it wrong if I said which):


After dark you could even see stars! I didn't expect that, but we were definitely away from any major light sources, and it being nearly fall perhaps the humidity was down a bit. Mrs. Greg reminded me that when she was growing up in State College, PA that she could see the Milky Way. Not anymore.

I got the privilege of sleeping in one of the boys' beds that night, and slept like the proverbial baby.

JR's house is like a maze. I never did get it figured out, even though I stopped back by on my way home (to be described a couple weeks later).

BTW, the "superduty" part of GS's handle is visible in the pic. What a guy! Sure knows how to treat a fellow rider. JR's done many Iron Butts, and probably coulda played first base for the KC Chiefs (isn't that the baseball team?) if he'd wanted. When we shook hands my hand sorta disappeared inside of his big mitt...

Anyway, the next day---if the Ducati Milledue would start---I'd be on my day to Kettering, Ohio and legendary inmate Dingo Joe.

--Doc
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:21 AM   #10
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I know you're on sabbatical, but I think you should wake up earlier and continue the RR.
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:53 AM   #11
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YAHHHHHOOOOOOO about time, sure good to see that face and may I add, I AM IN!~!!

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Old 10-12-2010, 08:20 AM   #12
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"With no springs, the valvetrain is caressed by two complementary cams that gently bring the valve off the seat, accelerate and decelerate it to full lift, the caress it back to closure. MUCH more civilized, and I can't help but feel my blood pressure decrease as I bond with that beautifully-engineered desmodromic valvetrain."

Amen Brother!
I'm in
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Old 10-12-2010, 10:45 AM   #13
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Old 10-12-2010, 11:24 AM   #14
Dr. Greg OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NMEXPAT
I know you're on sabbatical, but I think you should wake up earlier and continue the RR.
Hey man, I'm workin' all of 1/2 time during my sabbatical as it is; you don't expect me to work overtime on the RR.

I put in my time gettin' to work at 0645 to get prepped for teaching those 0800 classes. Not no more.

But hope you're enjoying it; lots lots more to come.

--Doc
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Old 10-12-2010, 11:25 AM   #15
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Well howdy there Gale! Might drop by your place sometime this fall, although probably time's runnin' out...

--Doc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gale B.T.
YAHHHHHOOOOOOO about time, sure good to see that face and may I add, I AM IN!~!!

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