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Old 08-09-2014, 03:19 PM   #1
woolfman OP
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"Ya didn't get such a pretty round mouth eating square meals" - Funemployed on Hondas

This may get wordy at first. Either get over it or go read about yet another BMW GS trip. This is a tall tale about a bunch of 23 year olds riding $1000 35 year old bikes cross country on a peanut butter sandwich budget. We can’t even afford the jelly.

As most great ideas do, it all started over pizza and beer.
My friend Nick and I were out having a few, and as it always does, the conversation drifted to motorcycles. Within a pint or so we both decided we wanted to take a long bike trip this summer. Despite a significant lack of long distance motorcycling experience (none at all in fact), what could go wrong? The only problem was Nick was bikeless, having recently relinquished his trusty CM200T back to his uncle, and all I had was a worn out CB360 that puked oil along with some project bikes. We didn’t care, we were going to make this happen. We both were itching for another road trip, both of us were ready to quit our jobs, and we really didn’t have much in the way of obligations. Why the hell not? So the plan was to sell off all of our stuff, find some bikes, and take off. We don’t have a plan for coming back, not sure if we even will. We pretty much plan to ride until we run out of money, find work and make more of it, then take off again. I’ve done similar stuff in the past in an MG, but never on a bike, and never without a place to return to. So yeah, we’re young, dumb, naďve, a little crazy, and its going to be a lot of fun.

Nick started looking for a bike, any bike, in the $500-600 range. He must have looked at a dozen bikes all over North Carolina that were total piles of shit, usually with title issues, and would have required untold amounts of time and money to get roadworthy. About a month went by and though his budget was growing, he still didn’t have a bike, we hadn’t talked about the trip much, and I wasn’t sure if it was still going to happen. I sent him an email one night with a couple links to bike videos, and told him straight up that if he watched them and wasn’t inspired to sell all of his stuff and hit the road then he was just another wannabe pansy-ass bitch poser. The next day he was in 100%. Nothing like some name calling and peer pressure…

He kept sending me links to Craigslist ads and one morning I woke up to one with a 1981 Honda GL500 Silverwing for $1100. It was utterly hideous, with a Vetter fairing and a trunk on the back that was the equivalent of a motorcycle hemorrhoid. In other words, it was perfect. He picked me up straight from work that evening and we went to downtown Asheville and checked it out in the middle of a freak late spring snow shower. It was semi-hacked up with the wrong tank on it and a front wiring harness that looked like spaghetti vomit, but it only had 5000 miles on it and fired right up. We didn’t even take it on a test ride but I told Nick if he didn’t buy it I would. Again, gotta love peer pressure. Nick handed over $1000 and since he didn’t have his MC endorsement yet I rode it back to my house for him. It sat in my driveway for about a week and the more I looked at it, the more I convinced myself that it was so ugly it was cool, plus it was cheap. All in all a great buy. I was more than a little envious, as we were hoping to leave in a month or so and I still didn’t have a good machine for it.


Nick riding his bike for the first time:








A friend offered me his 650 Nighthawk, a great bike, but it was more than I wanted to spend and just didn’t feel like the right one. I became a Craigslist bike hound, checking it five or six times a day all around the Asheville area. One night as I was scrolling through the thumbnail pictures I saw a familiar shape in the background of an ad for a Harley Sportster. It looked like a Silverwing. I emailed the guy and sure enough it was for sale too, he had to sell one of his two bikes. We played phone tag for a week or so and then one night he called me up desperate to sell a bike that weekend. It was only a couple miles from where I lived so I went and looked at it only to find out it wasn’t a Silverwing, but a 1980 CX500 Deluxe with a Vetter Windjammer fairing on it. A similar but still totally different bike. It was love at first sight. It was really clean and just stupidly original, I was able to get the full history of the bike, and it came with a box of new parts, a manual, and some old Bates sidebags. I rode it home in a rainstorm for the princely sum of $1050. Nick came over and we celebrated over a couple beers, both of us realizing that this wasn’t a fantasy anymore, this shit was going to really happen. I never thought I would own a bike with a Vetter fairing, but the more I looked at the bike the more it grew on me…








Nick had been talking to an old friend of his, Ben, up in Boone who was about to graduate from college and was thinking about a trip to South America afterwards. Nick told him about our plans and forwarded him the same email I had originally sent. Ben didn’t want to be a wannabe pansy-ass bitch poser either, and all it took was watching a couple videos and he was in too. Not a week after I bought my bike he had located a 1979 CX500 Standard about an hour away. Nick and him went and looked at it. Cosmetically it was a bit of a pig and it needed some work, but it ran great. Ben picked up his diamond in the rough for just $650.



Not excited at all:








Dig that King & Queen!







A month before none of us even knew what a CX/GL 500 was, we never planned on having similar bikes either. It all just sort of happened. We were just cheap bastards and these happened to be the best bikes we could find in our $1000 budgets.

First time getting all three bikes together for a work day:












Where the bikes lived in my driveway for a couple months:






A little more background before we get to the actual trip. Here’s the three of us, from left to right, Ben, Nick, and Me:




Nick and I lived on the same floor freshman year at Appalachian State up in Boone, and a few years later we both found ourselves in Asheville and would hang out sporadically. Though Ben and Nick were friends in Boone, I never knew Ben, and only met him once before this whole trip started, on the day he brought his bike down for us to work on it. Now while Nick and I have been riding for the past few years, Ben had basically no motorcycle experience at all. In fact, he didn’t ride his bike for the first time until a week before we left on the trip, and put more miles on it the first day on the road than he had in all the time before that. Dude has balls.





During the month of June, Nick and I quit our jobs and started saving up. He moved out of his house, and in a weird twist of fate, started hanging out at the house across the street from me, where his friend Megan had moved into. At this point we knew we weren’t going to be ready to go until the end of July. Not wanting to go out and spend money, we started porching it hard, spending hours upon hours hanging out and scheming about where to go and what to do. This is where Megan entered the picture. Our nonstop chatter and excitement must have been contagious because one day she pulled him aside and simply said, “I want to go”. And just like that our group grew to four people on three bikes.





The month of July flew by, dialing in the bikes, selling off our stuff, moving out of houses. I loaded up my precious BSA M20 and put it in the back of my spacevan to be stored at my uncle’s place a few hours away. Nick, Megan, and I each sold a car too. Living across the street from each other, we basically woke up in the morning, walked outside, and starting hanging out getting stuff done during the day, then drinking a few beers at night. It was a nice routine, and if we weren’t sick of each other by the time the trip rolled around, well surely we could spend even more time together... For the final few weeks before we left we turned Megan’s basement garage into an impromptu bike shop, doing everything from carb and igntion work to new tires.











Ben finally showed up a week before we left, and we really hit high gear. I was Craigslisting my stuff and junk and things away every day, Nick was taking care of last minute side work, Ben was dialing in his bike, and Megan was packing up her stuff. At this point we had all been hanging out nonstop for about 3 weeks. Megan and Nick’s friend Anna had been there all along, and she was starting to catch the road trip fever. Only three days before we were going to leave, she decided to come along for a few weeks too. And just like that we had a full on motorcycle gang. Five people on three bikes.

The last week is still a blur. This is pretty much how things went down:













Notice that sweet sissy bar? Nick and I ran a load of scrap for some spare cash and while there found an old stepladder. A little drilling, hammering and chin-scratching later it was the most badass sissy bar of all time.






We did roll in to the Wedge’s Wednesday bike night and got to finally show off all three of the bikes that we had been talking about for weeks. (Speaking of which if anyone in Asheville reads this, can you make sure Earl gets a link to this ride report, he’s the man, and we didn’t get to see him off). 2 days before we left we tore the bikes down. Nick did the steering head bearings on Ben’s bike and I did the front forks on all three of the bikes, then we all worked until midnight getting them back together.















The last day before we left was spent clearing out of our houses and figuring out how to pack our junk on the bikes. Ben picked up a last minute tank bag and windshield for his bike. He had picked up a cheap Vetter fairing but we didn’t have time or tools to engineer mounting brackets for it. We never even had time for a practice ride together.

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Old 08-09-2014, 04:50 PM   #2
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Awesome!



Enjoy.

Cheers,

JM.
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Old 08-09-2014, 05:19 PM   #3
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In! Sounds like a great trip and if nothing else I love the shape of your v twins, here is a picture of the bike I will tour on next year.


Good luck and have fun.
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:38 PM   #4
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this is what im talking about. subscribed
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:51 PM   #5
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:14 PM   #6
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You had me at: "Either get over it or go read about yet another BMW GS trip."

I'm a big fan of ambitious trips on cheap bikes, so I'm in.

And do I see a skateboard strapped on the big sissy bar bike? Rock on.
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:54 AM   #7
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Yes
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Old 08-10-2014, 03:45 AM   #8
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Thumb Hooray!

How cool is this! The possibilities with this kind of plan are ....... well, yet to be realized. Best of luck Amigos e Amigas and savor these moments
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:19 AM   #9
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Attitude is everything and you all have it! Safe travels and enjoy
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:33 AM   #10
hugemoth
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In. CX/GL500s are great bikes once all the bugs that accumulate after 30+ years are worked out. I've done many long tours on them and currently ride an 81 Silverwing Interstate. Looking forward to the rest of the report.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:41 AM   #11
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I love it! Lately I have thought a lot about things I should have done before getting a job, house, family, etc. This is exactly it. Looking forward to more updates.
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:41 PM   #12
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Saturday August 2nd rolled around. We wanted to leave around 10 in the morning. At 11:30 Nick was still asleep and Ben and I had my front wheel off the bike because my brake rotor was coated in fluid. I wasn't sure what was causing it at first so just cleaned everything up, scuffed the pads and figured I'd deal with it in the next couple of days. Nothing I could do at the moment, and we were leaving that day no matter what. Here's supermodel Ben supervising.
















By noon we had the bikes packed and lined up, and we headed up the street to Battlecat Coffeeshop for one last cup of coffee and to say goodbye to friends. Around 1ish we gassed up and finally hit the road.



Final parting shot:




We left Asheville and skirted by Marshall, going straight through Hot Springs and headed towards Tennessee. We had all been nervous about how loaded down the bikes were with gear, Nick and I especially each having a passenger, and the initial fear started to subside as we got more comfortable with the way they handled. Not exactly turning on a dime, but it wasn't like steering jello either. After about 50 miles we pulled over at an abandoned gas station to take a break.










The excitement in the air was tangible, and I think we were all relieved to finally be out of town actually doing it and not just talking about it. The hardest part of any trip is just leaving. You can plan and dream until you're blue in the face, but its not until you just man up and leave that you actually get somewhere.






We kept on trucking, filling up in Tazewell, TN where we found each bike was getting 55-56 mpg. Hell yeah! I had been lucky to get 40 around town on mine before, and that was by myself and unloaded. I had even done an 8 hour trip never getting a drop above 40 mpg. Whatever, I'm not gonna question it. Keeping the RPMs under 7k does wonders… We chowed down on some gas station grilled cheeses made with lots of butter and a little bit of love and got back to it.






We kept on backroads until about 6:30 or so, where we hopped on the interstate to knock out the final chunk of the ride to Nick’s uncle’s place in Berea, Kentucky. We pulled into Berea and were treated like rockstars. We pulled up this scenic gravel driveway right onto a huge field where there was a fire going, music blaring, coolers full of beer, a tent for the bikes to park under, and chicken wings just coming off the grill. Incredible. We gorged ourselves, then stayed up late around the fire with Nick’s cousin and friends, getting the full Kentucky experience. At some point during the whiskey-infused shenanigans a chair even ended up on the fire. Indeed a first night to remember…








The next morning we took our time getting everything packed up and visited Nick’s grandma, who was seriously impressed with how quiet our bikes were.













While pulling out of town we were lucky enough to get a free meal at his family’s restaurant... Thanks again! We weren’t going far, just 40 miles to Ben’s cousin’s place in Lexington. When we were stuck in downtown Lexington traffic behind a car with a “Mustache Rides – 5 cents” bumper sticker, I knew we were in the right place. We rolled in and unloaded all three bikes in cousin Maggie’s little one bedroom apartment, effectively doubling the amount of stuff in the whole place.
















After hanging out for a bit, we strolled around town, ending up at a bar called “Ole Hooker’s”.










It wasn’t until we found the glitter in the bathroom and talked to some people that we found out it was a gay bar and we were just the weird out-of-towners without a clue. We met a woman who was willing to turn lesbian for Kelly Ripa and watched all the helmetless biker thugs cruise by. We crashed on the floor back at the apartment, exhausted from doing nothing pretty much all day.

Since we did Ben’s steering head bearings just a day before we left, we knew we were going to have to adjust them along the way. The day before Ben said something about the steering feeling wonky on his bike, and without about 200 miles on them it was a good time to tear the bike down. A quick look around the parking lot yielded some cement pavers that made an ideal impromptu bike stand. The girls sat and drank coffee and made fun of us while we tore Ben’s bike apart, tightened them up, and put it back together.

















It was here that we first noticed an issue with his forks not lining up with the wheel, but we were able to get it back together alright. All loaded up, we headed an hour or two away to Louisville to visit Ben’s aunt and uncle. She had an amazing feast lined up for us, force fed us Klondike bars, and was just really thrilled with the bikes in general. Its nice to meet people that are just as into what you’re doing as you are.










We headed down Bardstown Road, filled up again, and headed North up through Indiana. We hit the backroad up through Paori and turned right before French Lick, and then we got into corn country.









Goodyear blimp:
















We filled up in the small area of Oaktown, met a yokel named James, and started to look for a good spot to crash for the night.






After about five miles I saw a good side road and pulled off. I started heading down the gravel road and didn’t get very far before I hit a patch of deep gravel and dumped the bike. Thankfully it was at really low speed. Megan was fine and and pretty much stood up as it went over. I gashed my knee up pretty well but considered myself lucky.






Yet another reason to wear proper gear. If I had been wearing some decent bike pants like Ben rocks then I wouldn’t have had a scratch on me. No pictures of the incident as we got the bike up really fast since it had a full tank of gas. The only visible damage was to my left rear saddlebag, nothing I couldn’t live with. The guy who’s house I laid down in front of came out with his kids and chatted for a second. He suggested a corn field not a mile away to camp at. Perfect. There is always a silver lining. If I hadn’t screwed up we wouldn’t have met him, and for all we know would probably still be searching for our dream cornfield campsite. We dusted ourselves off and went really slowly down a different gravel road before turning off into a cornfield. After we set up camp I cut the remaining chunks of flesh off my knee with a pocketknife, cleaned it up the best I could, and we all sat waiting for the children of the corn to come torment us.






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Old 08-10-2014, 07:44 PM   #13
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All the work and planning I sure hope this gang don`t puss out and run for home.
Point those Honda`s toward Wyoming and get after it !

Bad Lands of ND, Yellowstone, Tetons, Grizzly Bears, Bison, Hot Springs.

It only gets better.
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:25 PM   #14
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In. Man, there's a cat over on the inmates thread who wants to know what it's like to chuck it all and ride off into the unknown. He should read this report! Love the bikes and the ideas expressed. Ride whatcha got or can afford, but go! Sweet. Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:03 AM   #15
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Awesome ride report. Y'all be careful and have fun. If I didn't have so many obligations I'd do the same thing!

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