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Old 02-24-2011, 10:33 PM   #1
gofargogo OP
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Transalp in Search of Snow

I've had my Transalp since 1999, when I inherited it from my friend Michael. Over the years I put tens of thousands of miles on it. It was my commuter, my project, and a nice reminder of all the time I'd spent riding with Michael. However, the transalp never had it easy.

Early in the 2000's it got knocked over by a drunk driver and destroyed all the plastic.

I put on a cheap Acerbis light and kept riding.

Then in 2006 it got stolen the thieves had painted the headlight with cheap spray paint, and put two small dents in the tank from the switch gear. I got it back, thanks to a moto-friendly sheriff, who'd remembered seeing the Transalps when they came out and knew it was pretty rare. He recognized it immediately, parked at the back of a lot next to a vacant feed store.

I checked it over, gave it a wash, and kept riding.

Then work, family, and buying a house became more important, and all my riding/wrenching time just slowly evaporated. Other than riding it to our new house and parking it in the side yard, I barely touched it for 18 months. Every 8 months or so, I'd change the oil and scare the spiders. But no real rides. No exploration.

The neglect had taken it's toll. The bike was fuzzy, grungy and decidedly sad looking. The headers had blooms of rust, the seat was stiff and faded, the fork boots were gooey. I didn't even know forkboots could get gooey.

From Transalp Adventures


I couldn't stand it anymore, either I'd clean it up and take it out for a ride or sell it and get something different. Something that you can still get all the parts for, like a DR650. So I decided to dig in an see how bad the bike was on the inside. I pulled apart the front end and replaced the head bearing, dismantled, cleaned and refilled the forks. Swapped out my old, cracked street Metzlers for some Michelin Siracs. I changed the oil (again! It probably had 20 miles on it since the last time), did a compression test and cleaned and repainted some of the worst-of brackets/bits on my decidedly down-and-out bike.

From Transalp Rebuild


From Transalp Rebuild



One morning when I was coming back from my local shop, I realized there was actually snow on the nearby mountains. We see snow here once every five years or more. Then the next day I realized it was still there! I can't ever remember seeing snow last longer than a morning around here, so I was determined to get my bike put back together and get up there to see what I could see. And I knew exactly which route to take. North and then east up to the Geysers into the Mayacamas Mountains. I figured it would be a good shake down ride for both the bike and me, and I had the afternoon free so if I could get everything put back together by 2 I should still have enough time to get up to the summit and back before it got too cold or dark. I hate riding at night with the feeble unfocused light of my Acerbis light. After flurry of tools and parts, I got everything buttoned up, and then dug out my riding kit from the back of the closet and suited up.

Riding the bike was familiar and strange at the same time. My riding skills were clearly as rusty and my bike, and I'd seemingly forgotten all those skills I'd spent years honing. But the bike was the same, same as it ever was, dependable, exciting enough (especially after so long out of the saddle), and eager. I've always thought the transalp had the soul of a middle aged retriever. A little over weight, perhaps, but solid, friendly, and willing to play all day long.

We (the bike and I), headed up 101 to just north of Healdsburg, then headed east on Alexander Valley Road until it became Pine Flat Road and began the climb up the side of the Mayacamas.

From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


Slowly I began to remember how to ride. I kept my speed way down, knowing I was out of practice, and the road narrowing to a single lane with many blind corners. But before long I was into the Madrone Audibon Wildlife Refuge and the scenery was stunning. Hawks, and vultures circled above me at first, until the incessant climbing of the road brought me above them and I could look down into the Alexander Valley.

From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


No sign of snow yet, but clearly this area had suffered in the recent storms. Parts of the roadway were slumping, and there were many branches and trees hastliy cut up and stacked on the side of the road.

I kept riding, getting more comforable on the bike all the time. The old muscle memory kicked in and I was standing up on the rough sections without a thought, and swooping through the relatively smooth corners with a big grin on my face.

Among the branches and downed trees I spotted my first bit of snow! Soon I came out of the woods and could see one of the peaks in the distance still dusted. The farther up I went the colder it got, and the worse the road got. I was climbing from near sea level to ~3600' in the space of 8 miles of very twisty road.

From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


As the road curved around onto the north slope, the snow was suddenly everywhere. This part of the forest had apparently burned fairly recently so I was driving through a eeriy landscape of dead black trees and white snow, but a few hundred yards on, green trees beckoned so I kept riding.

From Transalp Adventures

From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


Then I saw this:

From Transalp Adventures


Hmm...Icy. Let see, new tires, out of practice rider, running out of daylight (and now no headlight at all because the 11 year old fuse decided to blow and I didn't have a spare), on an unknown icy road...

KEEP RIDING.


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


From Transalp Adventures


So I did. All the way up to the radio towers. It was windy and my helmet filled with the smell of snow.

Maybe it's time to rebuild this bike and start having more adventures. Even if only for an afternoon.
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Old 02-25-2011, 01:49 AM   #2
asilindean
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Keep on riding! Enjoyed your story and pics, thanks
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Old 02-25-2011, 03:09 AM   #3
mikegc
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Transalp in Search of Snow

Nice ride report! Thanks for the "ride."

Mike
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:00 AM   #4
GB
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Nice ride and it's great to see the Transalp revived and giving miles of smiles
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:21 PM   #5
waylongway
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GREAT RIDE REPORT FOR BEING SO RUSTY !!!AH TO BE BACK IN THE SADDLE LOOK IN YOUR PM BOX...
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:26 AM   #6
Hoo Rider
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Quote:
As the road curved around onto the north slope, the snow was suddenly everywhere. This part of the forest had apparently burned fairly recently so I was driving through a eeriy landscape of dead black trees and white snow, but a few hundred yards on, green trees beckoned so I kept riding.

Nice ride and great pictures.

When I read "the snow was suddenly everywhere" and then saw your picture, I got a good laugh. The fact that I live in Wisconsin ought to explain why.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:32 AM   #7
Chris K
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Nice report ... and I like the look of the fairing-less T-Alp.

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Old 03-05-2011, 07:04 PM   #8
gofargogo OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by security6 View Post
Nice ride and great pictures.

When I read "the snow was suddenly everywhere" and then saw your picture, I got a good laugh. The fact that I live in Wisconsin ought to explain why.
Yeah, I figured you folks who get a "real" winter would like that.
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:09 PM   #9
gofargogo OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris K View Post
Nice report ... and I like the look of the fairing-less T-Alp.

Thanks! I'm working on making a pair of radiator shrouds for it, and it really needs a better light. That acerbis doesn't do so well on the backroads here.

Long term I'm also designing a rally fairing for it, but I may bin that idea if I can find a decent way of increasing wind protection on the freeway. I've been looking into what the DR650 guys use and might just add a MRA windshield or something.
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:46 AM   #10
BOBaloo22
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Great report gofar! I love my TA and hope you keep on enjoying yours.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:50 AM   #11
kwakbiker
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Good stuff, I had the same model and colour 'Alp, parts from the later alps will fit(swingarm with disc rear brake for starters), mine like yours just plodded on till the front sprocket shaft made an unwanted appearance one day
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:11 PM   #12
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Nice pics. Your bike looks pretty good without the plastics!
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:23 PM   #13
PacificPT
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The Transalp is a fantastic bike, still miss mine. Wish Honda would make more like it available here in the US.
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