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Old 01-29-2015, 08:38 PM   #1
tlub OP
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My SaddleSore 1000 on my 42 year old R75/5

After many years, I decided to try this. I had, way back in my youth, like 35 years ago, done several days close to a thousand miles, and all of them 2-up. Back then it was known as the 1000-in-one, and it was informal. My brother had ridden from west of Glacier National Park to Chicago in one stretch, about 1500 miles, back in 1982 on his R60/6, but I had not done anything that long. The most I had done was Riverside, CA to Indianapolis, IN, in 74 hours, (2-up and camping) in 1978, to get to the Christmas at Indy BMW rally (we got the long-distance 2-up award). That was only about 2000 miles, though. So after reading Hopeless Class by Joel Rapport, and familiarizing myself with the IBA rules, I decided that if the day was right, and if I felt like it, and I could get prepped, I would try this.
For this I needed a decent headlight, and I wanted to be able to use my Gerbings electric jacket liner, so the 6V R69S, even with the halogen bulb from Bench Mark Works, did not meet the bill. Maybe when it’s warmer. So I decided on the same bike I put all those miles on many years ago, and rode from Riverside to Indy on- the Green Machine, my 1972 R75/5. Now sans Windjammer, with low S bars and a cheapo café fairing, it’s been my main ride since I bought it with money from my first job after college, in February of 1976. No saddlebags necessary for this trip, since the Harro Elefantenboy (40L), along with the small rear box, should hold everything I need.
Prep involved replacing the H4 bulb with a Sylvania SilverStar version, and replacing the taillight with an LED version- with only one light, I did not want to risk it burning out. Other than an oil change and going over the bike, that was it. I have a Bill Mayer Saddle custom seat on the bike, and I don’t think I could have done it without it.
For my route, I decided to go around Lake Michigan. When mapping it in Google Maps, I had to stretch the route to be sure I had at least 1000 miles, and I wanted the option of ending either back in Madison (which would make it a “Lake Michigan 1000”, or to end at my sister-in-law’s place near Kenosha. They both were nearly the same miles, so the choice would depend on whether my wife would be visiting her sister that day, as I needed someone to sign the start and finish forms. This is the route I eventually took: The lettered pins indicate my eventual fuel stops, and they dictated the official mileage.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:40 PM   #2
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It begins

I started packing the bike several days before, and then unpacked it and placed everything on my workbench, checked everything, added things, and figured that everything except my rainsuit and lunch would go in the Harro. I carried 2L water, spare cables, spare bulbs, LED headlamp, tire pump, spare tubes, my multimeter, some spare wire and connectors, (these last few are superstition items- the only time I have had electrical issues with this bike was the ONE time I did not carry a multimeter.) I also had the normal full BMW toolkit and all the extra items like spark plugs, sockets, wire and fuse under the seat. I had a cigarette lighter adapter to charge my cell phone, and paper maps.
For gear I had of course a helmet and earplugs, the Gerbings jacket liner, long underwear under my leather pants (1985), my leather jacket (1986), Red Wing boots (1987), Hein Gericke gauntlets (1983) and silk liners, and a rain suit (Dry Rider, maybe 1987). I also had tinted safety glasses for daytime and clear safety glasses (with reader lenses) for night. The reason I like safety glasses is that I am safe and legal if I ride with the visor up. They also keep my contact lenses from drying out. Here is a picture of me set to go (safety glasses in my right hand):
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:42 PM   #3
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First leg

I finally set out at 6:35 AM, later than I wanted to, and just before sunrise. I filled up at a gas station near our house, and by 6:42 was officially on the way with my first receipt. I got on the Beltline, and headed east to pick up I-39 south. The sun was right in my eyes. I had to shield my eyes and ride one-handed. I pulled off at US51, before I-39, because I could not see. In a few minutes the sun was just a bit higher, and I got back on and travelled the mile or so to the I-39 exit. Not an auspicious start, I thought. 7 miles from home and I have to pull over. But that was keeping with the attitude I decided to adopt for this ride. I would try for an SS1000. But if it seemed unsafe, or if I wasn’t having fun anymore, I’d just stop for the night and say I had a nice motorcycle ride. That way I kept my mental state prepared to stop at any time safety dictated it. I decided it would be just like when I fly my plane somewhere. If safety says to land, I land, and work out the details on the ground. I was carrying whatever I needed to stop for the night, just like when I fly I carry food, water, and a little alcohol stove in case I land out somewhere. I think having this attitude at the start of the motorcycle ride kept the pressure off and was one reason why I succeeded.
I-39 is not an interesting road. It is flat south of Madison and flatter yet in Illinois. But I purposely planned the trip in this direction to cover this road, and the hectic and crazy I-80/90/94 near Chicago, early in the day when I was fresh. I had also planned the gas stops for about 180 mile intervals, but I needed to define the corners of the route as well. The first gas stop, just where I-80 heads east from its junction with I-39 came very quickly. It was not yet 9AM. I fueled up and took a picture, drank some water, got rid of some processed water, and was on my way.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:45 PM   #4
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Now the sun was high enough so that heading east was no problem. I hoped to be far enough along in the evening so that the setting sun would not be a problem heading west. I anticipated some delays and traffic hassles in the interstate system south of Chicago and into Indiana. But there was nothing. Traffic was moving at 65-80 mph, and I generally put myself in the ‘slower half of the faster half’ that I find comfortable to travel in. The R75 has no problem with those speeds, of course. It was on this stretch that I found I had to really start watching my speed, as given the state of the economy of Michigan, I did not want to be tapped for a contribution by one of Michigan’s finest. One characteristic of my dual-plugged R75 is that it really smooths out at 80 mph. So when things got silky smooth, I knew it was time to slow down. I once found myself doing over 85 without realizing it. (Not bad for a 42-year old bike). The day was just gorgeous- perfect weather for a ride like this. It was in the mid-60s, so I had to use some low electric power to not get a long-term subtle chill, and there was no danger of getting warm enough so that hydration would be a major challenge. This stretch was the longest between stops that I did the entire trip. I went 210 miles and put 4.8 gallons in when I got to Saugatuck, MI. By now my stomach said lunchtime, although the clock said it was already past 1 PM. My stomach was still on CDT. I like to pack a lunch, as it allows me to eat better, and not have to search for a place to eat. I probably saved an hour on this ride by packing my food. I ate a sandwich I had made, had some fruit and cookies, and was on my way, after a quick pit stop (and a pee color check that I was hydrated OK).
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:46 PM   #5
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Beer, Booze, Bait, and Bullets for a party

Now I headed more or less north, before I would jog over and eventually get on I-75. Although traffic was moving fast on US131, I did slow down since it was not limited access all the way, and the speed limit was not 75.
I needed to get fuel on the jog between 131 and US 127, to establish that route for the documentation. I stopped at the first town, Evart, and found that they really do party hard in this part of the state. If you look at KC’s Party Store in the background, they sell “Beer, Booze, Bait and Bullets”. After leaving here, I found myself somewhat perplexed as to where I was. Not because of the sign, but because of the lack of them. I wanted to stay on US10, but it was not clear I was on it. There were no signs. Maybe the parties with the “Beer, Booze, Bait and Bullets” had taken them all down, or blown them away, I thought. The road headed more southerly than I had anticipated, but I couldn’t see where I could have missed US10. There also were no turnoffs anywhere- I seemed to be in a part of Michigan that had relatively few people. After what seemed a really long time (time slows down when you don’t know where you are), I came to the intersection with MI 115, where there was a sign also indicating I was still on US10. Whew.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:50 PM   #6
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A quick check of the map in the map window of the Harro, and all was clear.
I soon headed straight north on US127. This road was faster than I thought, I was expecting a 2-lane highway, and it was mostly 4, and definitely moving fast. If I didn’t do at least 70, or maybe 75, I was in the way. This was a lot faster than what I would have encountered on a similar road in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa or Minnesota. I came to the conclusion that Michiganders drive fast. As fast as Chicagoans, or faster. Including the time on US 10, which was not fast, I averaged 70 mph to the next stop in Mackinaw City, at the tip of Lower Michigan. Now it was supper time. Supper was the other half of what I brought for lunch. I ate it while checking over the bike, and sorting out maps, and walking around to stretch my muscles. If you look closely, you can just see the Mackinaw Bridge sticking out of the windshield on my bike.

The scariest part of the trip was to come. All this time, there had been strong winds from the west. They were about 20 mph or so, maybe gusting to about 30. For a lot of the trip this was either a tailwind or I had trees lining the roads, so it was not that noticeable. But now I was going to cross the Straights of Mackinaw, several hundred feet in the air, on an open framework bridge fully exposed. There were sign warning campers and other tall vehicles of strong winds on the bridge. I also knew that there was a metal grating surface in each direction in one lane, and hoped that the alternate smooth surfaced lane was open. I was not looking forward to high winds and a metal bridge. But, as Mark Twain said, “Worry is interest paid on a debt you don’t owe”, and although the crosswinds were certainly something to be reckoned with, the slow speed limit and other slow vehicles kept it manageable, and the surfaced lane was open, so I did not have to deal with the metal grid. Once across, I picked up US 2, and headed west. It was going to be a race to see if I could get off it before the setting sun was in my eyes. And I knew this road was one that is patrolled heavily, since it is straight, and apparently in the middle of nowhere, so it makes an ideal speed trap. I saw several LEOs, but kept my speed down and almost made it off the road before sunset. The problem was that now I was travelling down the western edge of Green Bay, at night, on a 2-lane road. This is an area that people really like to deer hunt in. Because there are a lot of deer. I stopped for gas in Escanaba, MI, and decided to put on my rainsuit to further block the wind. When stopped, I bought some convenience store food since I was out of sandwiches, and wanted to save my water, bars, and cookies in case I needed them for some emergency. I think it was some hot dogs. Maybe a burrito or two. Whatever it was, it was not memorable, but I do remember the chocolate covered donut and coffee. This was my first and only coffee of the trip. While I was suiting up outside, I had several people ask me where I was going. I told them that I was doing a thousand mile day around the lake, and had left Madison that morning and was now on the home stretch, almost. One person thought I was lying. One thought it was a great idea.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:51 PM   #7
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The finish line

After I left Escanaba, it was dark. Definitely dark. This was my first test of the SilverStar bulb. What a difference it made! I like the H4 (the R75 was upgraded years ago to an H4), but this was like having 2 headlights. Also, I noticed that whenever an approaching car had on its high beams, one flash was all it took to get them dimmed. I liked this.
All the way from US 2 to Green Bay was familiar territory. The previous summer, my son and I had travelled to Quebec and back over this route; me on the R75/5 and he on the R69S. That was a great trip and I’ll post it someday. For the leg from Escanaba to Green Bay, all I can say is that there were no deer that I saw, and it was dark, with a hole bored in the dark with my new bulb. I was rather surprised and pleased with the lack of traffic, it being after Labor Day and most of the tourism done until deer season.
I had a gas stop planned in Green Bay, and I did it. More questions about me and the ride. I guess in my rainsuit, looking like I was definitely on a mission, people wanted to know. Someone on a Harley thought I was nuts, but believed me at least. For me, I could still definitely say I was having fun. I was; this was great. It had been a while since I had enjoyed a ride this much. I started recalling how on the trip north through Michigan, I could tell I was going to a different climatic zone, as the trees and vegetation, and the houses changed, especially relative to Illinois, the most southerly part of my loop. And now I was heading out of the ‘North’ back into the part of Wisconsin that is between ‘North’ and well, Illinois.
After Green Bay, there is a stretch of I-43 that is like a void, at least at night. Between Green Bay and Port Washington, about 80 miles, there was virtually no traffic and no lights. I saw a few cars around Manitowoc, but this stretch was just droning on the slab. After Port Washington, traffic picked up, but was still light. After I made the curve south to join Wi-57, then I was essentially in Milwaukee traffic. Not bad for a Saturday night, but I knew I had to be on my toes because there were more than a few drunks, for sure. This was also about the time that I started to feel just a bit tired. It was about midnight by now, and I was glad I had the city traffic to keep me alert, rather than the dark void I had left. And this was all very familiar ground.
I had one more fuel stop to make, to get a receipt to establish my time and miles for the end of the day.
That was done a few miles from my sister in law’s house. I called them from there, let them know where I was, and in about 5 minutes I walked in the door. As you can see by the photo, I was having a good time.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:54 PM   #8
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1000 miles of bugs

The next morning, I took a few photos of the bike, with all the bugs. This is what 1043 miles of bugs looks like. Notice that most of them are mosquitoes. I was in mosquito country, after all. The next day I rode back to Madison, about 95 miles, and it was interesting to reflect that this was a short ride indeed.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. I had fun, why would I not have fun again. For those that have not done it, the keys are starting early, and well rested, preparing everything the night before, spending maximum time moving and not stopped chatting or sitting down to eat, and keeping the right attitude. If you get too tired, stop, tell yourself that you had a nice ride anyway, and do it some other day.

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Old 01-29-2015, 11:11 PM   #9
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Nicely done! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 01-29-2015, 11:32 PM   #10
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well done.Nice old bike,and a somehow very pleasant story!
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Old 01-30-2015, 04:30 AM   #11
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This is awesome! Super cool that you did it on an old airhead

You have me wondering about the color of your bike as I too have an R75/5, mine was built in 1972 and is a toaster, LWB. Mine is metallic green and definitely looks different than your color, do you know what it is?
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:22 AM   #12
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Great Ride!! Very well done!!
What time did you arrive at your sister in law’s house?
Or did I miss that.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:34 AM   #13
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Yeah, congrats! I've entertained that idea more than once on my R75/5. What was your total time?
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Old 01-30-2015, 03:35 PM   #14
tlub OP
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Color is a mix of old and new, actually

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
This is awesome! Super cool that you did it on an old airhead

You have me wondering about the color of your bike as I too have an R75/5, mine was built in 1972 and is a toaster, LWB. Mine is metallic green and definitely looks different than your color, do you know what it is?
The color of the rear fender is original. The front fender, tank and fairing were all re-painted, with a matched color, but I think if you look closely, the match is not exact. A friend of mine at a body shop did it for me. The original color is Green Metallic- (not Nurburg Green) I have the touch-up stick I got with the bike in front of me. I think Nurburg Green was for the /6 bikes, but not certain.
Part number 51 91 1 233 217 on the side, but that brings up nothing in google.
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Old 01-30-2015, 03:43 PM   #15
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Time of trip etc.

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Originally Posted by Beezer Josh View Post
Yeah, congrats! I've entertained that idea more than once on my R75/5. What was your total time?
The total time was 18:36 and I arrived at my sister-in-law's at 1:18 AM. Not bad, really.
This is her R75/5, by the way:

And this is her sister's (my wife) R90/6, and my R75/5, with all of us at Slimey Crud. I think that's my wife on the left (They are identical twins):
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