- Meeting so many people I’ve only known online through BonnevilleAmerica.com and seeing the people again who rode out to the Southwest Triumph Festival in Arizona last year.
- Northern Georgia is spectacular
- The cabin was awesome (and cheap!)
- The people of Georgia are super nice (well, there was that one grouchy lady working at the Exxon)
- The roads are incredible. Didn’t do the Tail of the Dragon, but we did the Cherohala Skyway and Richard Russell Parkway (someone else’ video of part of it), plus several other twisty roads.
- The look on Mike M.’s face when I rode up to Chy and Di’s house. I think he was the only one who was truly surprised. My attendance was the worst kept secret ever.
- Cinnamon Girl, the bike I borrowed from Jim (Moe), ran like a top. The D&D pipes are loud but not at all bad with earbuds.
- I lucked out on the two flights down, with empty seats next to me on both.
- Wow Florida is flat. And humid. And there’s that one asshole Mazda driver who tailgated me for a long time then flipped me off when he passed me on the right. Did I mention it was humid. But at least it was hot. Southern Georgia wasn’t much better.
- At some point on the group ride on Thursday, Cinnamon Girl’s headlight stopped working, so I was just using the driving lights. Later at Chy’s, Jim fiddled around with it and restored the high beam but not the low beam. This wasn’t a problem until Saturday night, riding back to the cabin up Blood Mountain in the dark and pouring rain.
- The plane from Denver to Helena had no air conditioning. Can you say flying sauna? I knew you could.
- Didn’t take very many pictures. This is pretty typical for me but I blame it on getting sick.
- There’s not a lot of “bad” because the Ugly trumps just about everything else.
- On the Thursday ride with the cabin group I got sick. It had to be some kind of bug. It started during the ride and abated a bit after I popped some Advil at one gas stop. By the time I got back to the cabin it was back with a vengeance. Went straight to bed for about 24 hours. I had a fever and at one point was shaking with chills. But the dry heaves interrupted that. Thankfully the worst of it only lasted that 24 hours.
- Most people who know me have heard by now, but about 160 miles south of Dahlonega, GA, the rear tire on Cinnamon Girl blew out at about 65mph. The only good thing about this, besides the fact that it happened on one of the few straightaways in the area and I managed to get the bike stopped without crashing, was getting experience the helpful nature of rural Georgians.
The Ride Back
Jim used his GPS and created this map of the route back to his house, with the center point being where I stopped after the blow out.
These are pictures I took and those that people took of me.
As a (not so) huge surprise I flew out to Orlando, FL, and borrowed a motorcycle from my friend Jim. Together we rode up to Dahlonega, GA, to meet up with, and hopefully surprise the shit out of several members of BonnevilleAmerica.com, my forum. Only a few people knew I was coming, besides Jim. Not even all my moderators knew.
I decided to fly out for the rally because I don’t have enough vacation time to ride to Georgia and still make it to Arizona and California later this month. On balance the flight was cheaper than the gas and motel rooms going both ways.
This is the route Jim planned for us. At 574 miles of non-superslab it’s going to be quite the push. The bike I’m borrowed is Cinnamon Girl, Jim’s cardinal red 2002 Bonneville America, which is certainly familiar territory for me.
Update: I would love to be able to tell you where we rode on Thursday, but it’s kind of a blur. All I remember is tons of twisty roads, Tennessee, North Carolina, the Cherohala Skyway, gorgeous scenery, food poisoning and a fever (I was so out of it I’m sure I would have perished on the Tail of the Dragon). Speaking of the Tail of the Dragon it seems a shame to come all this way and not ride it, but I’m not going to do it on a borrowed bike. I’m already paranoid enough about stacking up Cinnamon Girl.
As I type this I’m doing laundry while everyone is out riding. I’m so sore from the last two days of riding that even if I wasn’t sick I probably would’ve stayed at the cabin. I’m hoping to feel good enough to ride tomorrow and make the trip back to Florida on Sunday. After I get back I probably won’t touch a bike until just before leaving for Arizona, not to mention a trip to the chiropractor.
Apparently the only type of blog post I can do anymore is a general update.
Arizona-California Trip Update
My workload at the day job has increased through June such that I need to trim up the second half of my Arizona-California a bit. So this means no stop over in Vegas, only a couple days at my Dad’s in California, and three days to get home from there, max. I still plan on seeing friends in Torrance and San Diego those two days in California for lunch and spending dinners with family. My friend Devon is coming along on his Yamaha and we’ll be splitting up in California until we leave for home. The map is shaping up like this now. I wish it was more relaxed. There’s even a chance I’ll be taking my work laptop with me. :: sigh ::
Averaging over 400 miles per day between destinations. We will be staying in Sedona (D) 2 nights and California (E) 3 nights.
I’m hoping this hectic workload settles down in July so I can take a longer trip around the Kootenay RAT Raid.
My blog became infected with base64 encoded malware so I took it down. I was able to resurrect the database and import it into this freebie WordPress.com account for the time being. I nuked the entire old site from orbit and uploaded a simple bit of forwarding code under that domain name. I’ve got entirely too many irons in the fire so fixing this will have to wait. Life will continue on here and who knows, maybe I won’t go back to a self-hosted solution. Maybe I’ll just stay here.
Riding season is just about here and I haven’t done a lot of blogging. I’ve been keeping my three main bike pages updated, especially the Rocket page.
I feel like the Rocket needs a nickname, but I suppose that can wait until I have two and need some way to tell the difference between them in casual conversation (in my head).
My first bike is still dead, the odometer frozen in time at about 52,025. It’s half stripped, where I left it trying to diagnose its problems last Summer. Since then I’ve borrowed some coils and reacquired my original CDI (loaned to a friend so he could get home from British Columbia last year). No combination of these different parts let my bike fire up. Next up is the starter relay (acquired from Bikebandit.com). After that I start tearing into the wiring harness looking for damage there. Or I’ll just put it all back together and truck it over to Spokane and let the dealership sort it out.
Alive and well. I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve started calling this bike Old Faithful. I’ve put several items on this bike from Bollox, including the Corbin seat, Windvest and hard saddlebags. Last year I had ever intention of adding a set of loud pipes, the Specialty Spares mufflers I acquired from a friend, but it just runs so damned good and smooth. It has a nice mellow burble coming from the exhaust and it just hums right along. I’ve ridden it already a half-dozen times or so, weather permitting, this year and will continue to, mostly around Helena. That brings me to…
I’ve taken the Rocket out a couple times this year. I’ve been trying to conserve tire tread until I can get my new Bridgestones mounted (scheduled for 3/31). I’ve done more to the bike than I planned, went a little overboard on small upgrades. Most of it was comfort-related for long travels, the cruise control, the touring seat with backrest, pullback risers, cup holder, etc. I used my spare Windvest bracket and replacement screen for the Rocket, so I saved some money there. I wasn’t going to upgrade the suspension but a group buy came along on some shocks I had planned on purchasing anyway (necessary if I want to take anyone with me on the bike) so I jumped. One thing was absolutely necessary, a relay kit for the headlights to protect the ignition switch from melting, something Triumph should have fixed (and didn’t until the 2010 models). A few things I bought for looks/frivolity, the clear turn signal lenses and headlight eyebrows. To offset these costs I’ve been selling some parts leftover from my failed/canceled/redirected make-over on Bollox. It won’t quite balance out but the damage won’t be too bad.
An update of sorts on this post. This is shaping up to the be the Year of the Big Trip™ once again. Haven’t had a 3000+ mile since 2007.
Right after Memorial Day I’m heading south once again to Arizona for the annual Triumph gathering. The venue has been moved to Sedona from Prescott so that’s different. This year, however, I’m heading West afterwards to visit my Dad in California. From there it’s up for grabs. If I have a lot of time I may head north all the way up to Portland or Seattle. I probably won’t have that kind of time but I hope I can at least retrace my 2007 trip in reverse, up through Reno and Boise. Something like this (updated 4/20/12 to include Grand Junction, CO):
I’m still planning the Kootenay Raid in Nelson, BC, for the 7th year in a row. What’s in question is how long that trip will be. It can be three days or week and a half. I’d love to make it to Edmonton and Calgary, or head out towards Vancouver and Seattle, but that depends on my vacation balance and my work deadlines. This is still what I’d like to do:
Note to self: Self, next time you’re going through west-central Idaho, check this road out:
My friends and I road right past it (on 95) in 2006 on the way to Cambridge, ID.
- License plate relocation bracket
- Standard Rocket III Classic shifter
- Kuryakyn grips
- Breakaway cruise control (not pictured)
- Clear turn signal lenses
- Relay kit for the headlights that will help save my ignition switch
- Tank pad and knee pads (not pictured)
I already had the grips and cruise control that I had purchased for Bollox.
In addition, I’ve ordered up a new set of tires, Bridgestones:
- Exedra Max rear 240/55-16
- G701 front 150/80-17
The front is only rated to 130 mph but I think I’ll be okay.
Lastly, as soon as the weather cooperates, I’m going to try out the 14×14″ Windvest, currently on Reboot, and see if it provides enough protection from the wind. If not I will be scouring ebay for a 16×16″ version. That’s likely to be the end of my expenditures on any of my motorcycles this year.
In short, it was another great year with only a few hiccups along the way. This post is not restricted to motorcycles only. I don’t do these every year, at least not this formally. I did one for 2010 but never published it. Not sure why. [EDIT: Found it. Published.–FJ}
- I don’t generally talk about my personal life, but I started dating again in the Spring, truly putting my last girlfriend behind me once and for all (after having about 9 months off). Met some unique characters but ended up finding someone I’d like to keep around for a while. Nothing super serious. Distance is a bit of an issue at 230 miles. But so far it’s worth it.
- Purchased another Triumph Bonneville America, and although it is a good thing it was for a bad reason (see below). The specs and story are detailed elsewhere, but in short, it’s a great bike. It runs really good, it’s rock solid and gets great mileage. I christened it “Reboot,” as it is the same exact bike as my first America, right down to the original color.
- Finally found the “right deal” on a Triumph Rocket III. I’ve wanted one badly since they debuted in 2005, but was unwilling to sell my original Bonneville America to get one and either my health and/or financial goals always seemed to get in the way.
- Paid off my last credit card. It is quite seriously a weight lifted from my very soul if there is such a thing. I was on track to pay it off in a year or so anyway, but a generous gift from my dad accelerated that process nicely. I have my mortgage and school loan left to be debt free, the latter due to be paid off in 5 years, though I plan to accelerate that as soon as my house is done. I’m somewhat ambivalent about the school loan since I’ve already paid most of the interest. Still, I’m sick of keeping it around like a pet.
- After a couple “issues” late last year, the tankless water heater went in January. It has been a bit of an adjustment but overall I think it’s worth it. Eventually I may add small point-of-use water heaters in my kitchen and bathroom to help with the extra lag in flow. I don’t like standing there for 20+ seconds just to rinse out coffee mug.
- Very late in the year, finally started my bathroom remodel. Work will spill into 2012. The tub was replaced with a shower, the subflooring replaced and a new toilet and floor tile were installed before New Years Eve. The new vanity, sink, faucet fixtures, paint, trim and tile above the shower are slated to be done close to the end of January.
- I inherited BonnevilleAmerica.com, lock, stock and barrel, and migrated it to my ISP successfully. That was followed by a complete redesign of the homepage using WordPress and the “usual” process I use for my side business clients. It hasn’t all been wine and roses, however. Again see below. But the member’s patience and generosity during the process has been exemplary.
- A couple of great trips related to motorcycles. The Southwest Triumph Festival (my second attendance) in Prescott, AZ, and the Kootenay RAT Raid (my 7th) in Nelson, BC. I say ‘motorcycle related’ because I only rode my bike to one of them, the latter. But saw lots of great friends, many of whom I’d only known online until then.
- I still have a job.
- Sold my 1994 VW Golf to a friend in Billings. Thankfully it’s still running, so any new problems crop up on a car that old are the new owner’s problem.
- No major (new) health issues. Had a gall bladder scare but the surgeon talked me out of it. My close friends and family have stayed healthy, for the most part.
- Late last year I started seeing a chiropractor for the first time, and continue through the first half of this year. Seemed to help quite a bit but if you don’t keep up with it the benefits don’t last.
- My freelance consulting business keeps going at a low hum. At some point I streamlined my business site, pretty much reducing it to just the homepage. Added a few new clients:
- Started donating my time to Splashes of Joy, Inc., in the capacity of Technical and Social Media Advisor to the executive board.
- Created a site for Old Miners Dining Club, which I liken to a reincarnation of the old version of the Marysville House, a formerly legendary restaurant in the mountains near Helena.
- Created a site for Mind Body Spirit, provider of yoga, meditation and massage services.
- I continue to support several existing clients.
- One of my dogs died, Tobi, my chow-malmute. She was 14 and died in her sleep in the middle of the night. Poor Sammy, my 15 YO black lab/blue-healer mix can’t quite figure out what to do with himself.
- I was without a running motorcycle for the Triumph event in Prescott, AZ, in late May. Bollox was dead (see below) and Reboot hadn’t arrived in time. So I drove down to Arizona and rented a Harley. When I talk shit about Harley I’m usually referring to the riders, the RUBs, the posers and the yuppies. But this Heritage Softail was a POS. I’ve heard the dyna-based models are much better and I really, really hope so, but I won’t be buying one any lifetime soon. I’m not in it for the lifestyle, I’m in it to grind pegs in the corners.
- Aside from the few mentioned above, I haven’t developed much in the way of new business with my freelance consulting. Most of my efforts outside the day job focused on BonnevilleAmerica.com and a few prospective clients that I had leads on didn’t actually materialize.
- Speaking of BonnevilleAmerica.com, the forum software has really needed an upgrade for a few years. The software I inherited is cludgey and hard to work with. I purchased a different software package but haven’t had the time or motivation to get it migrated over.
- Two of my debit cards (info, not the phyiscal cards) were stolen. The first in June, went to Alberta, Canada, charging up almost $900. The second just before Christmas, went to Iowa, charging up $500. I caught the first one when I got an email alert on my phone that my overdraft protection had been activated. The bank caught the second one and called me. Both were handled cleanly and efficiently by each bank, and the biggest inconvience was waiting for replacement cards. From now on I will not use a debit card if it has to leave my hands. I will use my one credit card for almost all purchases from now on.
- My first bike, my 2002 Bonneville America christened “Bollox,” has been suffering multiple electrical problems since it died on me of Fall of 2010 in Washington. A couple friends with more electrical knowledge than I helped with a few of the problems this year but the bike basically succumbed to it’s issues, causing me to purchase “Reboot.”
So, considering the only thing I put in the ugly category is a dead motorcycle, it was a pretty good year. I didn’t put the death of my dog in the ugly category because she was old, slowing down, deaf and arthiritic. Her passing was inevitable, though it did hit me harder than I expected. I have no idea what it will take to fix the bike. I’ve already replaced most of the typical electrical components that cause these problems. I fear my only solution, if I want to get it running again, will to be to leave it with the dealership in Spokane, along with my Visa card, or rewire the sucker from scratch…
The Year in Cities
The rules: In a nutshell name every city you’ve slept in this year (nod). In no particular order. Go.
- East Helena, MT
- Thompson Falls, MT
- Billings, MT
- Missoula, MT
- Glendive, MT
- Forsyth, MT
- Miles City, MT
- Havre, MT
- Great Falls, MT
- Livingston, MT
- North Salt Lake, UT
- Can’t remember on the way down to Prescott, AZ, in Utah…probably Springville.
- Prescott, AZ
- Trail, BC
- Nelson, BC
I traveled quite a bit across the state of Montana this year. Biggest surprise? The eastern half (which I’d never visited before) was not completely desolate. Wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s pretty in its own right. Of course, that was right after the torrential ongoing Spring rains…
I did manage to ride the Sunday after Thanksgiving, about 45 miles. The roads were clear, the sun was shining and the temperature approached 50 degrees. Now the snow and cold have returned. I’m trying not to spend too much on the bikes until Spring (the shopping list for each is listed on their respective pages), but I did pick up some special wrenches ($24) for adjusting the play in the front end of the Americas (actually, not sure if they will work on the Rocket but I suspect so) and a license plate relocation bracket for the Rocket (brings the license plate up and tucked under the rear fender, brings the turn signals in closer and eliminates the reflector), for $29.
That’s me, last of the big time spenders.
Lately I’ve been eyeing trikes like this one from TrikeWorks.com and sidehacks like this Ural Patrol, complete with sidecar, and two-wheel drive in the rear. These would be for cold, slippery weather. I’d really like to be able to ride all year. But they aren’t exactly cheap (I’m sure those custom trikes are pretty expensive). Studded snows on a motorcycle, oh yeah… cabin fever is in effect…
You can bet your ass I’m going to take that new Rocket III all over the place. I’m looking forward to blowing out the Travelogue section of this here revamped version of my website. I have two semi-epic rides in mind for next year, one centering around the SouthWest Triumph Festival in Prescott, AZ, the other around the Kootenay Raid in Nelson, BC. The exact routes are still up for change, but here is the general idea. For the former I want to swing out to Riverside to visit my dad. For the latter I want to swing up to Edmonton, AB, to visit friends. Timing is also an issue. Not sure if the “swing” portion of the trip will occur before or after the event in question.
This trip could be in essence a reversal of my 2007 trip, with a little side trip to Prescott. But if I have the time a run up the coast could be very cool. Or down the coast, as it were, depending on which direction I do the loop. I tend to think I would do California after Arizona. The SWTF happens mid-late Spring and I would want to do a straight shot south if the weather is sketchy. My first SWTF experience in 2008 was the last time I road in snow, over Monida Pass on I-15.
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Alberta-British Columbia Loop
View Larger Map
As far as my other bikes, Reboot will be a local/commuting/backup machine, and Bollox may not leave the Helena Valley under its own power again.