Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ribfest 2014, Centerville, TN

This was a great weekend with the (mostly) GS Giants from the midwest and east.  MO, IL, MI, PA (me), TN, GA and points else...  Clayton Anderson made it in on his way back from a summer job as a motorcycle forest ranger in Idaho!  Several families took the occasion to bring younger riders and we had a great mix of talent and spirits!

Lets start with arriving on Thursday to find that the setup crew was still finishing the bridge installation.  This is an annual job since the creek is strong enough in the spring to move anything not planted by nature... and a few things that are.  Last year the event was canceled due to host Lee Wagoner being stuck down by a mosquito... west nile virus...   Welcome back Lee!

The plank bridge was an interesting experience.   The planks look like big 4x12's strung on a cable across the creek.   As bikes and trucks drove across, the ground crew worked on adding gravel and trying to change the flow of the creek.  Lee dredged the stream below the bridge in hopes of lowering the pool of water at the bridge...   that seemed to help, somewhat.

Mostly, adding gravel on top of the planks seemed to be the winning ticket.   The bridge served thru the weekend and was then removed for another year.
 I was lucky enough to be the first bike to cross...  I made the comment that speed helps and launched my 650 toward the decking.  The first part was fine, and must have been in shallow water.   The second half of the bridge was floating and, dumb luck, I was going fast enough that the planks didn't have time to sink beneath me.   Walt, on an 800, went second.  Everyone cautioned him to go slow and, sure enough, when the planks sunk beneath him he killed the engine.  In the course of the weekend Walt had a number of interesting attempts (vs. accomplishments).   I'll leave those stories to Walt.

The rally committee was great!  Then welcomed us in, passed out meal and door prize tickets and directed us up the hill to the grassy campsites.   Tents were strewn up the hill, with the early arrivals from Alabama claiming the only FLAT spot in town...   By roll of the dice the guys near my tent were Jordan (Snore Monster), Walt and Don.  We each took our own rides over the weekend and enjoyed the poking fun and potential of riding again.

Here's the link to photos from the weekend... I don't want to post everything here.

Let me add that food was abundant!  After all,,, it's called RibFest for a reason.   The late night guys on Friday were preparing hickory coals for the two grill pits.  Definitely more that you could eat.   I had two sides of BBQ chicken that was done just the way I like it... messy.  Didn't take any food pics.   drat.   Contributions welcome. Also thanks to Mr. Don and his excellent choices for breakfast servings.   Sausage, veggies and eggs are a sure hit!

The weekend was perfect fall weather for being on the backroads of TN.  Streams were down but not empty so we all did some water crossings.  The Saturday sport activity was the GS track that saw about 15 bikes take on the challenge.  From two young men in a "youth" division to the regulars like Dan Dickie and Blair Young, everyone had a good time.  Revit offered donated great door prizes and items for the event winners.

Here are a few photos of the competition...   Other than that I was busy eating and sharing stories and didn't shoot much.   Ribfest is definitely a great weekend...  and take the opportunity to include your kids!

 As with most rallies, the evenings included entertainment and
Contributed by GSG Jim Bean!
beverages (BYO).   Somehow on Friday (or maybe it was Saturday by then) I woke to laughter and headed back to the pavillion to explore.   Finding hald jar of potato 'shine', I hung around and shared the remaining brews and story telling... lucky for me the other guys were further gone and didn't remember whither I had told the same story earlier...  Always a good time.

This just in (11/2/14):  Jim Bean caught me in action staging for the Slow Race!  I was already several beers into the cooler but it didn't seem to help my skill.   The high point of the competition was Lisa Goff outdoing her son in the slow race and yelling, "Who's your mommy?"

Big thanks, again, to Lee Wagoner for hosting the show on his property.   and thanks to all the participants who continue to be Giants!

Travel safe,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ADV Riders Loose Nut 2014

I first heard of this ride while at the S.A.R.A. Trail of Tears Rally back in September.  Organized by Big Dog of the ADV Rider Forum, they have scouted out two 250 mile loops, each with a launch point at Fernne Clyffe State Park, Goreville, IL.

This is great country for small town, history back into the early 1800's and glacial shaped landscape.   Lots of state parks and the Shawnee National Forest.   When I was a boy scout we camped at most of the locations, then known as the Ozark Shawnee Trail.

 Yesterday I went down to see what things look like for camping.  Donna and I hiked back to the waterfall... Ankle deep in autumn leaves but not much in the way of water.
Will add notes as the weekend progresses.   People should begin showing up tomorrow, but most will arrive on Friday.   

Monday, October 27, 2014

4-wheel Vacation

Here it is, folks!!!   10 days planned in a motorhome!

Working on a 4-wheel plan with Donna in a Rent America RV!!  Down through MO into AR and choice recommended parks and scenic byways.   No rush, just time to see how life in a box with two of us works...   Then start planning winter.  Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Things that fall off...

Happened again on Saturday... and I just found out! We were driving back from Grassroots BMW and when arriving home Donna told me that she thought she saw something come off of the bike.  She said it was black like a piece of a tire.

This morning I went out to the garage to put my GoPro camera into the helmet enclosure and discovered that the enclosure had come unglued from the helmet!!   ARGHHH...   At least the camera wasn't in it.

You know,,, last night I was in the kitchen and said to myself, "That electric skillet is in an aqward position..."  Five minutes later I knocked it to the floor...

I have been telling myself, ever since my last came off of my glove strap, that this thin needs a lanyard.   I even cut a piece of monofilament to tie the camera enclosure to the helmet strap but "never got around to it."   Obvious problems need to get a higher priority in my life.

Before climbing out of bed today I was thinking back thru things that have come off my bike... and other people's stuff that I have watched leave to become road-kill trash.

My stuff:
Baseball cap & pair of gloves (on BMW Gypsy Tour 2013), high-viz vest (wrapped around the axle on the BRP), Canon elph camera ($175), PVC canister caps (6"! - One on FL Rt 75s near Ocala, one in front of Cliff Looseat some rally), Daytona Bike Week travel mug (Rt 10n, GA), food cooler (left with canister cap on Rt 441, Lake City FL), side stand (GA Rally), numerous bottles of Mt Dew and water (bungies don't cut it!), SPOT GPS Tracking device on Rt 411N Greenback, TN) and now GoGro Camera enclosure.

Other people's stuff:
Black leather M/C jacket off a Harley (I81N, Nanticoke, PA), Cliff's hand held camera in small town WV, Randy Owens socks (several days in a row), Cliff's (and Clayton's) top-boxes (I have video of Cliff's launch).

Stuff seen on facebook:  Front wheels, rear wheels.

Trust me... if it's bolted, glued, velcro'd or welded... it will STILL come off.  Back everything up with lanyards or safety chains.   And make sure the safety chain isn't going to reach as far as your spokes!!

Travel Safe(er)!

Feedback:  Dan Stys (GS Giant, CA):  Great article; I need to get on that.... lost two gloves, both right handed size large if you see them out there, a Motoboss Jacket that blew off as I was pushing a /5 off ramp to Gas Station (Death Valley Rendezvous aftermath), three hats which means I am running low on hats... anyway, strap it, tuck it, teather it, glue it, lock it; just don't stop it.

Related Facebook conversations:

From Jason Adams:

ADHD and blogging...

I'll write this chapter when they put me on meds... :)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

5 rear caliper failures?

Somehow in the course of 50,000 miles of roads, gravel and sane, (both FL and Mohave Desert...) and all the scheduled service calls up to 36,000 miles, no one has mentioned maintenance required for the rear caliper on these bikes...   Now in the last month I have witnessed 5 instances of the rear caliper locking up on a variety of BMW's.   What's wrong with this picture?

Actually, the first time mine locked up was in central FL last year at about 10,000 miles.   I had been on sand and gravel roads two weekends around Daytona Bike Week.  One trip was cross state with Dixie Dual Sport and the other was with the ADV Rider group.   Both treks were from Daytona to Cedar Key and back.   More sand than I could ever have imagined and definitely dropped the bike a couple times as the front wheel plowed when it should have planed...   The learning curve on sand riding is pretty challenging when you are knee deep in it the first couple times...

So the following week I was down toward Sugarloaf Mt (no mountain to be seen, but that's what it's called...) and heading back to Wildwood after lunch with a friend...   on pavement going thru some little town I stopped at a traffic light and found the rear brake had fully engaged while I was stopped...   Attempting to move on, my bike wouldn't budge...   I called some kid from the sidewalk to help me DRAG the bike out of the street and up onto the center stand...   The brake pedal was stuck (so it seemed) and the rear break tighter than a rock and burning hot...   The day before I had made an adjustment on the lever position in order to have a better angle while I was standing... apparently the adjustment was too extreme and caused the pads to drag enough to start heating the system beyond it's design.   I called BMW Jacksonville and they told me how to un-adjust the lever until the brake released.   Then it seemed fine, but I took it in for inspection.   They replaced the hose and caliper under warranty and I was on my way again.

Then no problems with the brake for more than a year...  and I had not heard of anyone reporting brake problems.

At the SARA Trail of Tears Rally last month one of the guys on the dual-sport ride fell behind and we learned that his rear caliper had locked up...   and he had just made an adjustment on the pedal lever the night before...   sound familiar?   He was able to un-adjust the thing along the trail (mountain fire road) and caught up with is in about 15 minutes.

Next occasion:   About three weeks ago I was at Grassroots BMW in Cape Giradeau, MO for new tires.   I commented that my new boots (Sidi Combat Touring) seemed to position my foot so that I was depressing the brake when not intending to apply it.   The mechanic attempted to make an adjustment to allow the pedal to be in a lower position.    When I left that day I made it 9 miles into IL and suddenly (at 55 MPH) the rear brake started applying itself and I slowed to a halt in must a couple hundred yards...   tighter than a drum, the brake was hot as a pistol and locked up tight.   Calling the dealer, they came out with a trailer but the mechanic was able to loosten the adjustment so it appeared that the problem was taken care of.

Setting aside MY story, the next report came from Drew Corl on arrival to
Cherohola Mt Trails M/C Campground for the Ridge Runners Bootlegger Dual-Sport tour.  Drew lost his rear brake and it appeared that the rear caliper had frozen in the open position.   The opposite of the other instances.

On Sunday morning while we were breaking camp Drew pulled the rear wheel off of his bike and tried freeing up the caliper.   I believe he said that the bike was at 150.000 miles or so.   Drew is a motorcycle mechanic at Knoxville BMW and I figured he knew his stuff.   It appears that the floating portion of the caliper had hung up on the guide posts and wasn't going to budge....   Drew tried prying, hammering and applying colorful language, but the caliper wasn't going to let go.   Hence Drew undertook his two-day portion of our tour with no rear brake.

Fortunately, Drew's riding skill, throttle control, engine braking and body english were enough to get him through.   This on day one included more than 100 miles of gravel roads and fire roads in the Smokies.   I think it was Monday afternoon when he left us at Mile High Campground and headed home and to his dealership location to make the repair on Tuesday.   I'll have to send him a note to see how he made out.

OK, back to MY story...   At about 13,000 miles after my 36,000 mile checkup I had finished the week, and 1,200+ miles of dual-sport adventures and was headed back to So IL on Rt 24.   A sunny
brisk Sunday and many 80+ mph interstate miles found me in the HOV lanes through Nashville with plenty of early afternoon traffic...   I had slowed from the 80mph pace to about 65 going through the city and all of the sudden could feel an invisible hand starting to drag at my momentum...   Very much like the caliper lock-up from a few weeks back, but not as severe.   I could tall the bike was dragging but was able to apply more throttle and maintain my pace with the traffic.   I had my eye on the upcoming exit ramps thinking I may need to get myself off the road quickly...   then suddenly things released and I was back to "free wheeling."   The tug went away and the bike felt like normal...   normal, that is, until I was 50+ miles down the road and looking for a gas stop...   NO REAR BRAKES!!!

I had headed to an exit ramp and when I toed for the pedal it went right to the 'floor.'  Front brake was fine and kept things under control.  I made it to a fuel station and got off to take a look...   NO inside brake pad at all.   the inside surface of the disk was scorched, gouged and pitted...   the brake pad must have been dragging and then separated from the steel backing plate and wedged itself against the disk...   I'm lucky that it didn't just lock up the rear entirely at highway speeds!!

Nursing the bike on to my destination, (and new home), I called Grass Roots and took the bike in on Wednesday.   They stripped things down and reported that under the layers of grime they found the caliper must have been leaking and yes, the pads were shot.   They estimated $550 and a couple days to rebuild the caliper so I left the bike, intending to go back the following Tuesday.  They called Tuesday to tell em that they also found a leak in the brake line and had a part on order from Germany...   (same as when the system failed in Jax last spring.)

So... assuming that it all goes back together...   I guess occasional maintenance needs to be on the "MUST DO" list.   Shouldn't there be a warning label somewhere?

Sorta like when I drove all the way from IL to MN with oil pumping out over the side of the fill cap, only to discover that, "Oh, didn't we tell you?  You have to check the oil level with the system HOT!"   Where was THAT warning label?

OK... so now I will post on FB and the forums that I wasn't maintaining things properly and suggest that everyone take this story as a reminder to do an annual "clean and inspect" on the brake calipers...

Can hardly wait for the feedback on this one...

Here's a link or two that I found on the procedure:  Bike Bandit  MAINTENANCE LINK <<<


Note from Drew Corl about his caliper fix:  "
Drew Corl
October 5 at 3:20pm
Hey Jeff, Got the caliper working again, following removing the caliper from the bike, soaking the float pin in penetrating lubricant and then heating the caliper around the floating pin. A few solid hits from a hammer and the carrier FINALLY separated from the carrier. The years, 164k miles of pavement, dirt n gravel, and bunches of water crossings had led to corrosion of the floating pin on the caliper carrier, keeping the caliper from sliding and making proper pad to rotor contact. A little time on the wire wheel to clean everything up and some anti-seize on the floater pins and its working. In the long term I will be replacing the pins and probably the protective boots. Following my experience on this trip, my suggestion to everyone: (Especially if you do a lot of offroad) When your replacing your pads, pull the caliper apart from the carrier and clean and lube your pins and replace your protective boot if you find any cracks or tears. My boots looked good by the years miles dirt, grime and water crossings took a toll. Much as we wear our Dirt on our Adventure Bikes as a badge of honor... still gotta thoroughly clean em once in a while to keep moving parts happy! ;-) ~Drew Corl

Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy Day!   TGIF and all that...   

I'm going to share some planning and thoughts with a bunch of you people to see if you can contribute to the quality of my decision making,,, or can suggest purchase options.

Donna and I started out looking at RV's to travel this winter.   My dream setup would be RV with motorcycle rack and a towed cage.   

Being practical, we decided last week to consider the motorcycle options first...  Something we would both be comfy with and I can still take off road.   Looked at 1200GS's at Grass roots but the price tag is daunting and, any way you look at it, they are heavy bikes.  Pat Taylor showed us a 2015 F700GS (800CC 76hp) that looks pretty inviting.  I can flatfoot on it, more power, lots of storage options.  I don't really like the 19" front wheel, but not the end of the world.    All decked out with luggage, bash plate, windshield  and lights it's almost $16,000.   

Then I got thinking of what all is going to be included in this ultimate travel system...   Add headset communications ($500 for 4 user system) and add trailer.   Still haven't gotten to the Toy Hauler yet...

Remember the movie BEAUTIFUL MIND?    So what if no body goes for the blonde???   (I know, it's  a stretch...)  Maybe we don't even buy another bike yet...  We started out process by looking at motorhomes...   the biggest and most complicated investment.

But what if we start with the communications so Donna and I can be in touch whether on the bike two-up or she follows me?   A simple first investment and stick with the bike I have until we work out that this life style is even going to pan out for us as a couple?

Then go ahead and buy a trailer for behind the 650.  Motomule or Bushtek.  Take some weight off

the bike and have room for her curling iron...

So at this point I'm open for suggestions on trailer options and new or almost new BMW's.  

Your thoughts?

Thanks for being on my list of trusted and respected buddies!


Bootlegger Adventure Tour!

To be expanded this weekend!

This afternoon I downloaded pics from my phone and did some editing... more from other cameras yet to go, but I wanted to get these off to you.  The pics linked here are low resolution.  If you need something better shoot a note with id for the shot.

Have a great weekend... I am heading to Grass Roots to pick up my bike with new rear brakes tomorrow.   

Will get to videos eventually.   Yes, bought canvio drive that is Mac AND PC compatible.  seems to work fine.  Thanks for all the suggestions.


Getting back to a new home base and into blogging... Just back from 10-days of dual sport in GA, TN and NC.   Will post a ton of updates presently.   Still need to get organized for voice recognition and publishing more often.   Also trying to transition to a MAC for travel computer but the Dell laptop is still my main machine after two years of life on two wheels... it just hasn't died.

This week added Toshiba Canvio portable HD so I can move files between the two laptops.  Andre is suggestion a wireless system for faster file transfers... will investigate.

Now to get something posted about the Bootlegger adventure tour.

Travel save!