Monday, May 25, 2015

Carry fuel or learn to tow!

Earlier this spring, as Dewayne H. and I were picking our bikes up from the pavement of left lane of the 4-lane, 200 yards and across the oncoming traffic from the fuel depot, it occurred to me to do an article about the importance of carrying extra fuel (this was my THIRD outtage in fewer years...) or practice getting towed by another motorcycle.

It was an easy day... 250 miles across Florida, Steinhatchie to St Augustine.   My low-fuel indicator hadn't come on so I figured I was good for about 75 miles before stopping... and everyone was already lined up for the photo-op...   Famous last words...

We (a group of 80-something GS Giants and ADV Rider Forum members known as "CADS" ((Crazy Ass Dual Sport")) people) left the first checkpoint and headed north on 1st Street.   Right on "XYZ" street to a dead end...   Back to checkpoint to find another 1st Street.  One mile later my "fuel low" light blips on and I remind myself that I'm certainly good for 45 miles, if memory serves and I don't twist the throttle too much.

Most of the morning was jeep trails through swampy but not difficult woods.  When it comes to the sand sections Bill tells us, "I'm going to take the longway here.  We'll be late for lunch but it's all new territory."  So much for staying off the throttle.   There's only one way to ride through sand... lean back and roll on the throttle...  mps around 40-45... distance? 35 miles,,, 40 miles,,, "Guys, I'm 5 miles from empty!" "No worry, Kurtz.  The fuel stop is only 8 miles away..."   Great  logic.

Please keep in mind, being Florida,  there must be petrol stations on every intersection, right?  Not THIS Florida.   I think the weekend invitation mentioned something about seeing "Old Florida."   Most of the gas pumps I saw that weekend displayed flying horses or Phillips 66 and were in antique shops.   Go figure.

We turn off the sand trails and onto a 4-lane and someone gives me thumbs-up and signals something like, "Almost there!"  Now, being CADS (refer to acronym above) everyone figures the best way to the fuel stop is wide open throttle...   and I'm nursing fumes.   I hunker down behind the wind screen and force myself to lag back at 55 MPH.  GS Giant buddy DeWayne was faithfully trailing behind, in case I didn't reach the goal.   45 miles... 47 miles, 51 miles,  51.04 miles and I see the fuel station ahead on the left.

Suddenly the throaty roar of the engine became wind in the willows...   Fuel injected,,, no reserve,,, Trusty carry-on 1.5gal bottle back at camp because, after all,,, this is Florida!~  I coast to a stop on the shoulder.  Try restart and no go.  Traffic was light, but at 75 MPH they didn't seem particularly concerned about my delima.   I start to push the bike.   That lasted all of 10 yards.

Dewayne yells that he has a tow strap.  "Hook it around a foot peg and  stand on it.  If we get tangles up just lift your foot."  He rolls on the throttle and (with all of 4" between his rear wheel and mine) we start creeping along the highway.   An open spot in the traffic and Dewayne signals that we're going to move left, across the two northbound lanes.

 This is where practice would have come in handy.   Or a Go-Pro.   Dewayne moves left and I don't follow exactly in line.  Tow strap finds a handy place in his rear knobbie and climbs up under the fender.   My bike reaches the aforementioned knobbie and considers doing the same.   Crunch... both down and scrambling.

My bike was sorta on top so I pick it up and, forgetting that I am out of gas, hit the starter.  Varroom!!!   What gives?  Who cares???   Oncoming traffic was clear so I hit the throttle and launch across the median grass, cross two lanes and coast into the fuel station.  Dewayne grabs his bike and follows...  traffic behind up must have seen the tangle and spared us.   Hand me my heart pills.

The balance of the day was great fun and, although much more sand than I had anticipated, very energizing.

Moral of the story... There is never a fuel stop within reach... and get some training on how to tow bike-to-bike.  Travel safe!   Jeff

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ramps extended

Running up a birm or getting some air when cresting a ridge is one thing...  Loading the bike onto the toy hauler is something I really want to make simple... why take a chance of a spill with all the neighbors watching, and spoil a weekend adventure off-roading (where the fun belongs!)

I guess I should preface this by explaining that I (we) recently purchased a toy-hauler.  The object of this change in my travel habits is to get my non-rider friend Donna to the same destination as my bike and I.  Companionship has its benefits!

Video first time up the ramp...

 It's a 30' trailer which had an 18' camper section and an 8'x8' diamond plate deck in the front.  #4,500 empty and GVW at #9,500.  Google Forest River Wolfpack Cherokee.

 While at the ADV Rider Land Between the Lakes weekend I had a hane to give it a good first trip.  My 650 went on at home in the driveway...   Killed the engine but managed to get loaded without mishap.  Then unloading realized that the 30 degree ramp was even steeper in the uneven terrain of the campground.   The ramps that came with the rig are 6' and can be attached at either side of the trailer so I can ride on and ride off... no need to back down.

In the above image there is a BMW 1200 that had keyless ignition problems and we hauled to Memphis for David.  We had plenty of people to assist and also were able to borrow an 8' ramp from one of the other riders.   we used my 6' ramps on either side of the 8' ramp and pushed the bike right up into position.   I need to re-mount the tie-down brackets on the deck... they look like they are mounted with pop-rivets... jeesh.

Now, in the comfort of my garage, I have assembled two 12" tall ramp extensions that make the ramp angle less than 18 degrees, down from the original 30 degrees.  That should take the challenge out of the loading operation!

 Pictured at the right is the ramp in it's original configuration.  I have hooks that attach the top lip of the ramp to the trailer edge and need to rig a tie-strap to the truck to insure nothing shifts in the process.

Tips and suggestions welcome!  Travel safe this weekend.   Jeff

Sunday, May 17, 2015

MSF BRC1 and ERC in IL

Drat... two weeks just sailed by and I haven't posted anything...   Will have to get

back to editing pics from the ADV Rider Land Between the Lakes weekend.   This week was a 5-day morning class at Southern Illinois University with their Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider course.


had taken the course three years ago when I bought the BMW but now took it to make it easy to transfer my drivers license to IL from PA.  The course was free and only about 10 miles from home.

Long story short... the class went well, give or take a few rain drops.   8 of 11 riders finished the course and all who attended all five days passed.  My only demerits were 4 points for exceeding the stopping distance on the panic stop test.

Then yesterday I was able to take the Experienced Rider one-day course.   All the same tests but on my own bike.   Did well, specially in the slow crawl test and the figure 8 in the box test.   Having taken the Ride Like A Pro class this winter in FL was a big help in that regard.

There was a great variety in the bikes and riders attending.   Sport bikes , Harleys and two enduro/dual-sport bikes.  Pics to follow.