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Old 09-20-2014, 06:41 PM   #1
SafariPacific OP
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Location: Charleston, WV
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Long Ride on a 1982 Honda XL500R

I did a trip across the USA last month. It wasn't a grand adventure of sorts, but my first long moto trip none the less.




This year I had itchy feet to take on another challenge. I have been stagnant for quite a while in the travel department and needed to get out on the road again. With reality weighing in constantly, I knew I wouldn't be able to completely escape as I did in 2007 for my big North America trip. I had customers that I needed to keep happy and my servers to keep online. A friend of mine on the East Coast, that owns an alarm monitoring company, needed some PHP software development work done. Which I might add is what I specialize in. I flew out to Charleston, WV for a couple weeks initially to start working on the project. As the days passed we realized the project would take much longer and I would need to be in town for a good amount of time. Other obligations required me to fly back home for a short duration before I could continue work on the project.

During my flight back to California I started playing with the idea of riding the 1982 Honda XL500R I had recently bought back to West Virginia. The idea was exciting and scary all at the same time. I have never done any multiple day trips on a motorcycle before, let alone riding across the whole country. Needless to say I had my own reservations about doing the trip. My friends and family also kept pushing me to just take my truck or fly back. Gas for the truck would be over 1000 bucks while the bike would only be about $200. The price definitely enticed me. Going back through photos of my North American adventure I remembered the similarities. Everyone was nervous and was essentially trying to get me to change my mind. Coming to that realization I knew I had to do it or I would never have another opportunity to take a bike across the USA. Sure, its possible I may later, but I never want to take a chance. With life the way it is, you never know.

I started to prepare the bike. Researching online for any other adventurers who've done a trip on an old bike was first on my list. What did they use? How did they load their gear? I parsed all sorts of forums and blogs then condense down to what would work for me. First thing first, I needed a way to strap my sleeping bag and a tent to the back of the bike. Being cheap I used a piece of 3/4 inch EMT pipe. I cut to length and flattened the ends for bolt holes. I bent the pipe in a sharp bend to fit the width of the rear seat. Bolting the front to the seat mounts and attaching the rear with some hose clams along the fender support. Not ideal, though should work with light loads. I made a trip to the store to grab a tank bag and dry sack. I found a cheap five dollar lunch box that, after some modifications, worked out for a tank bag. I did get lucky and found a 30 liter Seal Line dry sack on clearance for 17 bucks.






At my brother shop I started to organize my gear then loading it on the bike. I went through a few times and kept getting rid of things I knew I would never need. Then I realized I didn't have any tools or oil. I took an old tool bag and repurposed it as a front fender bag. I bolted it into place directly on the fender. Converting handles into cinch straps, I was able to keep the bag tight around the tools. Scouring my tool set I packed smaller bags with sockets and small wrenches. Next I moved onto the headlight. It was stock and very dim. Although I didn't want to ride at night, I did want a brighter light. Reusing one of my old Hella Rallye 4000 lights with a 50 watt bulb fit the bill. I created a new bracket to hold the housing and wired it up. Over a few weeks I worked on the bike and even replicated the classic XL500 sticker in a newer fashion. I did a few test runs up into the mountains near Idyllwild, CA and was happy with how everything turned out.

The day before departure I unpacked all my gear, double checked everything and repacked it. I also got rid of stuff I wouldn't need to eliminate weight. Most of the day I had a knot in my stomach. I knew the feeling from before. My big North America trip was the same. Its the gut feeling that you are about to leave. Many travelers will tell you the hardest thing to do is to walk out the door. This feeling is what they are talking about. To me its such a strong feeling of the unknown. You are about to take a big adventure and there is no guarantee. The instinct reaction is to cancel the trip, as if the trip will end badly or something will “happen” while you are gone. As strong of a feeling this is to stay and not take the adventure, the more you have to force yourself to do it. At least that's how I felt this time around. Usually a few hours after you leave you'll start to relax and the feeling goes away.


More to come...

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Old 09-20-2014, 06:46 PM   #2
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Unable to sleep most of the night I ended up getting going later that I wanted. I hit the road around 7 am and hit the highway around 7:30 am. It was a surprisingly cold morning, which was nice knowing I would be crossing the desert soon. From Beaumont, CA I took interstate 10 East through Palm Springs and into the barren land of nothing. The trip to Blythe was fairly easy and I didn't get tired like I thought. I had ear plugs to muffle the exhaust and was drinking plenty of water. I also had some electrolyte chews.

Stopping near Chiriaco Summit for a break.



I stopped in Ehrenberg, AZ for lunch and to take a break. After lunch I headed up the road a bit to the Texaco gas station I usually stop at my trips between Arizona and California. I intended it to be a quick stop so I only took my helmet off. I went inside and had to wait to put money on the pump. After the trainee finished with the few people in front of the line and myself I headed out to pump gas. I topped off the tank and went back to get my change and some water. Another wait ensued. Finally I got my change and started getting on the bike. I realized my helmet wasn't strapped on all the way and had to pull my gloves off to redo the strap. Then I noticed my jacket wasn't zipped. Finally I got everything sorted and felt I was getting hot. I started kick starting the motor but in my frustration I couldn't get it started quickly. Finally I got it thumping. Popping the shifter in first gear I slipped on the clutch handle. The bike lurched forward. As I regained my grip on the clutch, I re-engaging it. The motion threw me of balance and I started to drop the bike. Thankfully I caught it, killed the motor and set it back on the kick stand. I realized I was overheated and being stupid. The early signs of heat exhaustion. I got off and pushed the bike over to a parking spot and quickly started to shed my gear. I went back inside to where the restaurant side was and got a water. Even though I was drinking a liter of water per hour, wearing a jacket in the 100 degree heat still got me. I should of taken off the jacket initially at my fuel stop. Heat stroke was my biggest concern with this leg of my trip. I tried to find a ride-share to skip it, though nothing came up in my search. After I cooled off I realized just how loopy I had gotten. I'm glad I caught what was happening and stopped myself from trying to ride in that condition. Definitely a reminder to take it slow and pay attention to what you're doing. The rest of the day I made sure the first thing I did when I stopped was to strip down immediately.



Four or five hours into the trip things went smoothly again. Then I hit the front of a storm system moving through the desert. The wind was pretty damn strong. Strong enough my fender was touching my front tire. The extra weight from the fender bag probably didn't help. I made a stop off the highway to make a quick fix. With paracord I tied the front of the fender bag back to the handle bars. This helped keep it from flopping around too much. I took the time to take another break and move some gear from the fender bag to by backpack. Down the road my exhaust got louder. I didn't pay much attention since my ear plugs had worked their way out before. On my next stop I noticed my supertrap baffles and end cap were got. The motor shook them off somewhere on the road.

With the wind my legs started getting tired. I have never been on the interstate for long stretches with a bike before. So this was all a new experience for me. The wind was pulling my legs out and I was fighting to keep them in. I started stopping more to give myself a break. I wasn't in a rush and I knew it was a long way to ride on a bike. Most of my friends thought I was crazy for doing it in the first place. I'm glad there was a storm crossing California and Arizona for most of the day. It made for a less hot ride. Finally I made it to Phoenix, where the blast furnace kicked on. Heat radiated from the motor to my legs too. Freaking hot. And to think, I lived here for 17 years. I can't do the heat anymore apparently. I stopped at a coffee shop once in town to wait for my friend Tim to get off work. I planned on staying at his place for a couple nights to rest before I continued into New Mexico.



I got a message from Tim that Starr, his wife, was at their apartment. I walked outside to suite up and head over and noticed a haboob coming my way. No, not talking about breasts here. Haboobs are big dust storms that hit the Phoenix area, which I think are pretty cool. That was one aspect I do miss not living in Arizona anymore. Really they are called monsoons, but for some reason everyone started calling them haboobs. Its a technical term with Arabic origins, that also happens to include boobs. I think its become an excuse to say boobs within a conversation and no one can get mad, because its a real word. “Look at the size of that haboob.”

After the haboob passed, Tim, Starr and myself went to our favorite brewery. Four Peaks Brewery. I ordered an Oatmeal Stout and a margarita pizza. Enjoyed some time will beer and friends then headed back to call it a night.

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Old 09-20-2014, 08:46 PM   #3
luckychucky
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Nice Bike

I haven't seen that number plate sticker, must be a rarer one. I've seen on XL185s, but not the 500. Cool.
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Old 09-20-2014, 09:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by luckychucky View Post
I haven't seen that number plate sticker, must be a rarer one. I've seen on XL185s, but not the 500. Cool.
I created that one myself, though I got the layout idea from another guy's bike from PipeBurn. http://www.pipeburn.com/home/2011/02...ert-racer.html
I run a graphic/web shop so I had all the stickering capabilities and whipped something out.
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Old 09-21-2014, 06:14 AM   #5
zhu
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Nice job on packing lite. Had a twin shock xr 500 back in the day , great bikes . Best of luck.
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Old 09-22-2014, 12:32 PM   #6
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Nice job on packing lite. Had a twin shock xr 500 back in the day , great bikes . Best of luck.
Thanks!
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Old 09-22-2014, 12:33 PM   #7
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I packed up and began carrying my stuff out to the bike. While strapping everything down a guy was walking by and came up to me. I can't remember how we got onto the topic, though he was from India and was educated in Switzerland. He traveled quite a bit and through the events of his live landed him in the Arizona desert. With the temperature rising I quickly packed the bike and hit the road. Following highway 60 out of town I headed for Show Low, AZ. The ride up to Globe, AZ was nothing special. It was early still but was hot most of the ride. That and I've driven it numerous times having lived in area. Having skipped breakfast to get a faster start I stopped in Globe to grab some food. While there I rearranged my gear. My backpack was getting heavy to carry and my arms were going numb. I strapped the backpack over the yellow dry sack. I took my time to do this since my laptop, camera and other electronics were inside. I didn't want them to slide or fall off. Once strapped down securely I make another stop for gas and hit the road.











The temperature started to cool down and rain clouds appeared on the horizon. It was a much needed change from the past couple days driving in the heat. I didn't rain much on me, though I will say rain drops at 65 mph sting when you're only wearing regular pants. Probably need to invest in some riding pants soon. Overall the ride was great and not having the extra weight on my back made it much more enjoyable. I stopped for a while at Salt River Canyon to take a break.











Arriving in Show Low, AZ I stopped for a break and for food. My plan was to camp outside of town off highway 260. When I headed that direction I ran into big storm. The temp dropped a ton and I started shivering on the bike. I kept pushing on, though after a heavy rain started, I decided to turn back. I went back into town at stopped at a camping supply store. I hadn't purchased a tent by now, since I wouldn't need one until I hit Albuquerque, NM. And I hadn't planned on a storm rolling through. I bought a small Hi-Tec 1 man tent, aka bivy sack. It was small so I could pack it on the bike without much change. I also got a hydration pack since I wasn't carrying my backpack on my back anymore and couldn't use that one.





Temporarily packed up my new gear and headed off to find a camp. This time I only made it to Pinetop-Lakeside where I pulled into a maintained campground within town. The storm was closer and I didn't feel like testing my luck. I rolled in and found a spot. Then began the fun of learning a new tent with rain right next door. Turned out to not be that bad of a setup. Two hoops/poles and some stakes. Within 5 minutes I had the tent up and started moving my gear inside. I started blowing up my fancy air mattress. The one you buy at wal-mart for a couple bucks. Ok, so its not an “air mattress” but a pool float. What can I say, I cheeped out. Crawling on to my mattress, with integrated pillow, I call it a night. A few minutes after I zip up the tent it begins to rain. Lightning and thunder roll in behind the rain as heavy rain drops pummel my dinky tent. I was warm and dry, so I couldn't complain. Later on that kind of changed. My ass and back were getting cold. The floor was cold as if it were wet. Thankfully it was just the cold from water sitting underneath the tent and not inside. My brand new air mattress turned out to have failed me. The air cushion was gone and my ass had sank to the ground. I thought I sprung a leak, but either my body weight or my foot popped the valve open. Playing twister with myself and the air mattress I eventually got it turned around within the 1 man tent to put some air back in. It was pitch black and the only light was from the static discharge of the pool raft as I flipped it around. Once I got it all pumped back up I laid back down and started twister again in reverse. Once my game was finished I crawled back on and went to sleep. This time much warmer.


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Old 09-26-2014, 08:09 AM   #8
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Today I slept in. No, not to be lazy. I wanted to wait till the sun came out and pack everything up dry. Around 7 am I finally got up and started breaking down camp. I laid everything out on a semi-dry picnic bench in my camp spot. While packing up another camper came over. He was asking if I was doing a long or short trip. I told him I was headed to West Virginia currently, but possibly further if I can pull it off. Turns out the guy was big into travel and had been to Central America a bunch. He even talked about a backpacking trip through Spain that he wanted to do. He also took the train through Copper Canyon. We shared a few stories from our trips for probably an hour or so. He had to run off and get his wife to town, so I went back to packing. The sun was directly on the picnic bench now which was great. Packing up went faster. The tent took some time since it was soaked and dirty. Once all loaded up I headed to the check-in shack. With the heavy rain last night no one came around to collect the fee. So I stopped in to pay it. From there I headed out to top off on fuel and hit the road.





Once on the road I was headed in the same direction as yesterday. Again rain clouds were on the horizon. This time there was small scattered clouds and one massive one. I didn't think I would end up under it. Wrong. Rode right through the sucker. Temperature started to drop. Then sprinkles of rain. Then light rain. That’s where it stayed. Didn't get any harder thankfully, though I was freezing my butt off. I was again only wearing pants. I definitely need to get some riding pants or something I can toss on over my pants quickly. It got cold enough I was shivering on the bike. The rain lightened and the air slowly started to warmed. As I came out of the treeline into Round Valley I finally started to dry out. I rolled in to town and stopped to finish warming up. The next big city I need to get some rain gear.





I stopped in Eagar, AZ to get something to eat and charge my electronics. While there I talked with a local who had some property out in the sticks. I told him I was planning on going to a friends cabin 30 miles North of Pie Town on dirt. He mentioned it was probably muddy as hell and I kind of agreed. I would have to skip Jim's cabin on this trip. The ride into New Mexico was great. I got away from the rain clouds that drenched me earlier. The sun came out for a bit. I pulled off onto a dirt road to take another break, grab some photos and take a leak. I headed East again to the VLA, but not before stopping in Datil, NM for fuel. While there a guy came over and made a comment he had the same exact bike years ago. Its kind of funny how many people are coming up to me saying they had an XL500R. He had nothing but good things to say, which is good to hear. Rain behind me started rolling in so I head out. This time I wasn't able to escape. I was hit with light rain and got cold again. Nothing too bad though. I dried out fairly quickly afterward.



















Rolling into the valley where the VLA (Very Large Array) was I could see another storm cloud ahead. I stopped off the highway to take some photos of the VLA, then headed to the visitor center. Right as I parked I noticed an epic downpour coming up the rear. I wanted to get a photo of my bike and one of the antenna's, but I didn't think I'd have time. I quickly walked around the self-guided tour and snapped a few pictures. As I approached one of the antennas a loud clap echoed through the sky. This rain cloud was now arcing in a massive display of lightning. I quicken my pace, then abandoned the self-tour as the lightning became more frequent. I wanted to get all suited back up before the rain came. Right as I got back to my bike the rain started in. I hurried to get all my gear on. Jumping on the bike I attempted to kick start it. I had to give it a few kicks before it started. Usually I can get it in one or two, but in my haste I wasn't doing it right. I took off down the road at a good clip. In the back of my mind I thought I was going too fast. Turned out I was. I vaguely made out the shape of something crossing the road and slammed on the brakes. A group of Impala were making their way across. In my excitement of running from the rain I started acting stupid, which I should know better. I had to force myself to take it easy again and make it back to the highway.


The initial storm I was trying to avoid by stalling at the VLA.












Downpour started as I took this photo. Then headed back to the bike.




Eventually I caught up with the rain I was trying to avoid by killing time at the VLA. I was stuck between the two. I decided to say screw it and pushed on through. Daylight was burning and if I wanted to get dry again I would need to punch through the wet to get the last of the dry before night. This storm turned out to be way colder and way wetter. My feet were floating in my boots. Both pants I had on were drenched. I had to slow down to 45 mph to keep the wind chill down so I could partially stay kinda warm. I just sucked it up and made my way from the VLA to just outside Socorro, NM where the rain let up. I passed a decent spot West of Socorro on the 60 that I could camp, but I went into town to get fuel and food first. All topped off I headed back out into the rain to setup camp. I went probably 2 miles off the highway on a dirt road. The land was fairly barren with only a few bushes. I found a large enough one to hide the bike behind and stopped to setup camp. The rain let up and I was able to get the tent up and my gear inside all dry. My boots had partially dried out and my socks were still soaked. I also discovered my phone was almost dead. The charger I added on the bike wasn't working. I'll need to tear into that once the rail lets up.




The blood shot eyes & weary selfie...






Through the night a light rain came and went. I passed out for a few hours until around midnight. The sound of lightning overhead startled me awake. Shit! I didn't think about lightning at all. I was in a fairly barren area making my bike the tallest thing apart from a few hills near by. I couldn't go back to sleep after that. I was pretty scared to be honest. The lightning was intense and striking one right after the other. Mentally drained and physically tired I attempted to convince my self I should be good. And if not, well it will be quick. Yeah, a bit grim, but in a warped way it helped me relax. The storm slowly made its way North and away from me. Once it quieted down I passed back out.
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Old 09-27-2014, 06:00 AM   #9
Haven't Ben There
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Travis I am really enjoying your RR and the pictures are awesome. And extra points for just riding what you have and having a great time doing it. Thanks for taking the time to share your adventure.
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Old 09-27-2014, 07:06 AM   #10
acidman1968
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...another good RR to keep me occupied while work is slow!
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Old 09-27-2014, 08:25 AM   #11
delta21
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Good on 'ya! I love seeing old bikes doing what they love to do. I remember as a teenager dreaming about riding my DT175 across the country.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:51 PM   #12
SafariPacific OP
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Thanks everyone! Onto the next day...



Moonscapes were the view from my tent in the morning as the sun came over the hills. Not a cloud in the sky. Crazy considering it was going to rain heavy again today according to the weather report. So much for forecasts. I started my new daily routine of packing all the gear back onto the bike. After that I headed for breakfast in town and then back on the road. My original intention was to take US highway 60 most of the way to the East Coast. To me route 66 was over done and I've always ended up living near some portion of the US 60. Not to mention the 60 ran through downtown Charleston, WV. Which is where I am headed. Leaving Socorro I head out on the interstate. As I got closer to the 60 turn off I had an uneasy gut feeling. Something didn't sit well. Having learned my lesson from ignoring that gut feeling in the past, I continue on to Albuquerque instead.









I arrived in Albuquerque around 9 AM and wandered through town looking for a coffee shop. I needed to charge my phone and laptop. After a while I couldn't find anything. My dead phone was no help either. I stopped for gas and asked a few people where I could find a coffee shop. I was told on Central was where everything was. Eventually driving a few miles down Central I found a Starbucks. I spent my time there while waiting for everything to charge to get some work done. A few hours later I packed back up and hit the road again. I went east on Central which was Route 66, till I hit interstate 40. From there I stayed on the interstate till Tucumcari, NM.








The ride was pretty boring most of the day. A few clouds rolled in and rained a little. That is till the sun started going down. Then the heavy rains came. Once again I got soaked. Riding though the rain next to semi's was kind of sketchy to say the least. I was going slower to keep from freezing and keep people from ridding my tail.





I was planning to camp again tonight, but with all my gear wet and more rain on the horizon, I decided to get a hotel room. Which turned out to be a good idea to help get all my gear dry. I laid all of my stuff out all over the room, and with a spark of redneck ingenuity, even washed some of my closes in the tub. Once I showered I stepped out of the hotel to find some food. On my return a wall of musk smacked me in the face when the door to my room was opened. Dang! I can only imagine what the cleaning ladies thought in the morning...lol.


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Old 10-07-2014, 07:52 AM   #13
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Today I wanted to get through Texas and all the flat boring land. I fueled up the bike and hit the highway. Just before I crossed into Texas a trucker tried to run me off the road. He decided he wanted to pass another semi while going uphill. Needless to say he didn't bother looking. I specifically mounted my headlight to point right at a semi truck's driver window so this wouldn't happen. The scary part was the road had a lip on the left side about 2 inches tall from being repaved. I almost lost control when I went over the lip in my quick jerking reaction to get away from the truck. Having flashbacks as a kid trying to get up a curb with my bicycle, I knew I'd go down if I tried to get back on the road. Especially going 60 mph. I was stuck between the rumble strip and the lip, a spot about a foot wide. Five miles or so the road flattened back out so I could get away from the edge. I stopped off at the next gas station to calm down. Mostly from being pissed off.

The rest of the day was pretty boring. Just driving through the flat lands in 95 degree heat. I stopped frequently to get water and fuel. At one stop I pulled up next to a gas pump and pushed the kickstand down with my foot. As I move to prop the bike on the kick stand it keeps going down. The kick stand wasn't fully down and the bike was going over. I stopped it from falling with thanks to my helmet pushing against the pump. I got it on the kickstand and went inside to pay. After filling up I walked the bike over to rest. I was exhausted. I need to take a break first before getting fuel on my next stops. Checking the weather it doesn't look like it will be cooling off and time soon.

I stopped off to take a break on the same exit I had used back in 2007. Yep, I'd been here before and crossed the USA before. Though that was a much larger 22,000 mile trip I did that literally went from corner to corner of the USA and Canada. Arizona, Florida, Nova Scotia and Alaska to name a the farthest reaches of that trip. More about that trip on my site. http://www.safaripacific.com/categor...ca-expedition/ I was in a sense good to be back on a similar trip and crossing my old path. Though, the flatness continues as I ride on...



I stop at a hotel again since I was beat from the long ride and heat. As I'm unpacking my bike a 7 year old kid comes up and starts asking questions about my bike. Then ask how much each of my things are. Hmmmm.... I wonder what he's up to. More so who's coaching him. I bullshitted the kid for a while until I discovered my key doesn't work on the room. I carry all my stuff up to the front office as I didn't want anything stolen. I got a new key card and told the lady at office about the kid. She said she will let security know who checks in around 9 am. Mean while I head back to room and notice a sign. "We're not liable for theft". I said screw that. I rolled the bike into my room and called it a night.

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Old 10-07-2014, 09:22 AM   #14
Shooby
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Great RR SierraPac ! That's the most pristine looking XL I've seen in a long time. Nice bike! (had a '83 500r back in the day..)
How'd the seat treat you?
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Old 10-09-2014, 11:49 AM   #15
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Great RR SierraPac ! That's the most pristine looking XL I've seen in a long time. Nice bike! (had a '83 500r back in the day..)
How'd the seat treat you?
Thanks! Not too bad at all. If I got uncomfortable I just slid to another spot. Usually that worked or I'd stop to take a break.
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