Friday, October 10, 2014

Harvest Rally

I had prepped my bike a few days earlier for the Harvest Rally. Here is what it looked like once it was ready.

It looks a bit cooler in the dark

Also knowing what kind of weather we would be up against I decided to pick up a 3/4 cover for the bike to keep the frost off. It would have been nice all these years to keep the dew off the bike too and I don't think I will do much traveling without it in the future.

Friday morning I woke up and got ready to head into work. I could hear all night that it was pouring out. I took a look outside and realized that I would be taking the truck to work for the first time in 5 months.

My original plan was to go into work for a few hours and then take off straight away for La Crosse WI to meet my nephew and then Hutchinson MN where the rally would start and finish. Sadly I didn't want to get all my gear wet before hitting the road so I took my truck to work and would need to return home for the bike.

Once home again I triple checked with my nephew that he still wanted to do this since the weather was taking a turn for the worst and the were predicting snow where we were going.

I headed out at about noon and had good weather for the first hour. After that I started getting into the rain and the temps were falling. I left home when it was 64 degrees, by the time I got to La Crosse it was in the low 50's. By the time we left La Crosse it was in the low 40's. Thankfully once I got to La Crosse it had stopped raining. We headed out towards our destination, you could tell once we got out of the protection of the bluffs that line La Crosse as the winds picked up to 30+ miles an hour with gusts into the 40+ mile an hour range.

We just dug in and didn't stop until we reached our destination. We pulled into the hotel parking lot and went to check in. I let them know that I had a reservation but they could not find me in the system and there was a wedding in the hotel along with a dog show. Thankfully they had a smoking room available. I wasn't a fan of it being a smoking room but at least we had a room. I later found out that I made the reservation in Hutchinson KS and not Hutchinson MN. I politely asked for my no cancellation fee to be returned, we'll see what they do.

Once checked in we headed down to what was to be the finishing point of the rally since the rally master said he was going to be there signing riders in.
Once there it was a bit awkward since they all seem to be good friends and we are a bit of the outsiders but we got our paperwork filled out and got a couple of burgers and then headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.

The next morning we headed over to the start.

They had quite the spread of food and drinks available in the morning.

The set up was really nice, they had tables and chairs for everyone to sit at to do the planning. This was a bit different than the Bonzai Rally as they didn't give us the "Bonus Packet" until an hour before the start and then you had that time to plan your route.

When I planned the Bonzai Rally I had time to prepare and do research. This time we had an hour.

We still plugged away at it like I did the last one... just a little faster. We went through the list and entered each Bonus point.

I had CJ reading off each point while I entered them into BaseCamp. It was going pretty smoothly aside from the fact that CJ kept falling asleep on the job. We didn't realize that there were so many bonus points until about half way though one of us looked to see the total. I don't remember off hand how many it was but it was around 60 or more.

We started hesitating at that point because of how extensive the list is but kept plugging them in. Once they were all in we started making a circle route and came up with this.

 We decided this was close enough and headed out. They give you a start time when you head out the door. Ours was right around 7:20 am, 20 minutes after the start time

We got out to our bikes and did some fiddling around to make sure everything was in place and were finally ready to hit the road at about 7:40 am. These times will be important later.

Somebody snapped this picture of us heading out.

We headed to our first stop which was to find and count how many windmills were seen from a certain mile marker off the highway. We got there and counted 12. You write this down in your packet and move on to the next point. A couple miles down the road from the first point I notice that CJ is not behind me anymore. Fearing a break down I turned around and started heading back. I met him halfway back holding my packet here I had left my tail box open and my packet had flown out of it. Good thing I wasn't running this rally solo.

Now I could go on and on about all the stops we made and some of the frustrations of not finding certain points but that would be a pretty boring post.

A couple of cool things we had to find were a new and old Volkswagen Bug and take a picture of it with our bikes.

Also note the nice pumpkin on the back of the bike, we had to bring one back for a set amount of points. It could be any size but I figure go big.

We also had to find some harvesting.

We saw a lot of harvesters sitting in the field but this was the only one we found that was actually doing anything. Turns out that it didn't matter if they were working or not.

There was also this cool little church that was on our list. It is the only thing that I actually took pictures of that I didn't need to.

We got back to being near the end of the rally and there was one more stop at a park a block from the finish. We went for it and it was awful. I didn't realize that it was such a large park and we needed to find two different pieces of information while we were in there. Lucky for us we were directed by some other rally goers otherwise we probably would have never found them or we would have been late.

We pulled into the parking lot with a finish time of 6:50 pm and 458 miles.

It is amazing how much tension is lifted off once you get that finish time. While we had fun the entire time you could tell we were getting tired towards the end.

They had a lot of hot food and drinks waiting for us when we got into the restaurant. We sat down to total up our scores.

Silly me didn't bring a charger for my phone, I left it in the hotel room instead so the one thing we were taking pictures with was just about dead. Lucky for us it made it until we were both scored. You can see me here using my iPad to total up my score because my phone was so dead I was afraid to use the calculator on it. Next time I will have a charger with me.

Going up to get scored is a bit nerve racking because once you sit down in the chair you are done fixing anything.  I went up first and found out that I missed a bonus that they explained in the morning.

Since I was already being scored I couldn't claim it anymore but I could yell at CJ and tell him to claim it which he did getting him a 2nd place position again and landing me in 4th again.

Gonna have to stop letting these guys follow me around.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Trip

Made my way to Ashland and back. Over all the trip was really nice and I had good weather by Saturday afternoon.

I left from work Friday afternoon and made my way to the cabin. I started off with my iPad navigating the way for fun. I also had my Spotify playing off of it.

I can tell you now that it doesn't work very well as the iPad overheats within a half hour because of being in an enclosed space.

This is how I packed the bike. 

The first three hours of the ride Friday were great. I then saw the clouds darken up and I knew I was in for some rain. I was hoping that I would make it to my next turn before having to stop and put on my rain gear... I was very wrong and I should know better than to wait.

Luckily I pulled into this driveway and the home had an over hanging porch on the front of it so I was able to get out of the rain and put my gear on.

I got geared up and politely waved at the folks peering out the window at me before I got back on my bike. 

The daylight disappeared very quickly and I found myself deep in the forest on fire roads that held on to most of the rain that fell. I took it slow and could feel the bike trudging through the deep floods. I finally made my way to the cabin driveway and got the bike in the garage. 

Once inside the cabin I tossed everything in the dryer ate a few snacks and drifted off to sleep in front of the TV.

The next morning I woke and it was still raining out. I grabbed all my gear out of the dryer and putted around the cabin wasting time as the radar claimed I would be out of the rain soon.

After waiting long enough and the rain wasn't letting up I geared up with the rain gear and hit the road. It rained on my for about two hours until I got close to Ashland and then it stopped. That was the last rain I would see for the rest of the trip.

Now that I was to my destination I set out to get a campsite at one of my favorite campgrounds. I knew it was going to be tough because of it being Labor Day weekend but I had my hopes up. 

Getting to the campground I rolled through the different sites and I found one that would work. I went up front and registered it for a single night and as soon as I did the camp host put out the Full sign. I guess I got the last site available.

After getting set up in camp I was off to visit my aunt and uncle whom I hadn't seen in a few years and spent most of afternoon with them. 

I took a ride into town to see if I could find another uncle but wasn't able to run into him. 

I rode around Ashland for a while and I found that they reopened the ore dock to the public. Now if you have read some of my older posts I know I have posted about the ore dock pre tear down and during the tear down of it. Here it is post tear down.

I was happy that one of my child hood memory's would be around for me to show my son one day.

After tooling around some more I headed back to the campground to enjoy a nice fire and get some good sleep.

The next morning I went and visited with a family friend and to do a bit of work on my uncles car.

Later on in the afternoon I hit the road for an uneventful 5 hour ride home.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Something Exciting Might Still Happen This Year!

Well this summer has just blasted right past without much of any real riding happening. Sometimes other things just consume your days away. But never fear! There is still a small ride in the works.

Friday I will be heading out for my only motorcycle camping trip this year. Heading to Washburn Wi for the Labor Day weekend.

I have been slowly trying to find and go through all my equipment this weekend.

This is my estimated route, we'll see how it goes.

I am really hoping to get my Spotwalla working for this trip but I been having issues with it so I'll see what I can figure out in the next few days here.

It will be interesting to test out my new "GPS" set up. I ordered a map pocket large enough for my iPad to fit in.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Twinkle Lights Concours 14

I picked up these LED lights from over in the UK from a place called BikeVis.

I don't know how well they actually help me stick out but I figure every little bit helps. The total install took me about 20 minutes. I do plan on running them to a different power source, currently I have them on the AUX power in the dash but I figure it can wait until I tear the bike apart again.

All I did was drill a couple of holes and they stick right on covering the hole. Then I ran the wiring up to the AUX and plugged them in. I had to remove the windshield and one side cover to access the wiring.

Some day I will have someone stand on the road and watch me come from a distance to see if it actually makes a difference.

The video doesn't show the twinkling action as well (I assume frame rate) but you can see how the warm up and then kick in with the twinkling.

I have said the word twinkle enough for one day.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Concours 14 Tire Change

This is the first time in years that I actually paid someone else to change my tires. I figure with the complexity of this bike it is best to just have them balanced correctly. It isn't like the KLR and doing 80 miles per hour is a rare treat.

After the Bonzai Rally I noticed that my rear tire was pretty much gone. A couple of weeks later I was leaving my mothers house and was going to pull a small wheelie for a group of kids but instead my rear end broke loose. I knew that my tire was then done. Here is what I found when I got home.

Now my front tire at this time was about 90% gone also so I already had them ordered up and planned on replacing them both at the same time. I just wasn't sure how I was going to get them off at the same time.

So far so good.

If you ever need to get one of these front wheels off where they expect you to own the worlds largest hex wrench, it is the same size as a spark plug socket, just put the socket on the extension backwards.

I was thrilled to death when I took the front brakes off and found that the last person was nice enough to cross thread a bolt and instead of fixing it just ignore the fact that the bolt had to go in hard as hell.

Nothing a tap and heli coil couldn't fix.

Here is the Concours swinging like a 700 pound rocking horse.

All said and done it wasn't that bad and cost less than $75.00 for mounting, balance, and disposal.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


We rode in our first rally / scavenger hunt! It is called the Bonzai Rally When I say we I mean my brother, two nephews, and I. It was a family outing of sorts.

The rally / scavenger hunt consists of riding your bike from point to point finding items around the state and filling out the answer in your paperwork.
Here is an example:
"Weber Field. Located on the corner of Hwy 70 and School Rd. According to the monument,
where did William Weber make the supreme sacrifice for his country on June 6, 1944?"
Basically you write in the Time, Odometer reading, and the answer. Once you have all that you move on to the next one. You have 12 hours to complete as many stops as you can. If you are late you lose more points than you probably collected.

This was held over Memorial Weekend and we made it a three day show.
On Friday morning I received an email with the route information but it did not include the values of each question. This sheet was one of our first of quite a few mistakes. I will cover all our mistakes or things we could have done differently in the end. I went ahead and entered all the coordinates into my Mapsource program so we would have all the way points ready.
My map ended up looking like this:

Each red pin is a stop

Of course you would be hard pressed to get each one in the 12 hour window so that makes the values important when planning your route.

Saturday morning I rode up to  La Crosse to meet up with my nephew CJ. I had planned to take the long way up and enjoy some back roads but the bruise on my back side from the hit I took in March was bothering me so I headed the fast way up. We then rode up to Hudson together. It was a pretty generic ride up but it is really nice because it is along the Mississippi river. In the mean time my other nephew Doug was treking across the state to Hudson and actually beat us there by about thirty minutes. My brother Eric was going to cruise up the freeway and meet us there later in the evening.

Once there the situation got a bit awkward because we of course don't know anyone and they all seemed to know each other. We had rooms in the hotel that was also the start and finish of the rally so for a while we hung out in our rooms and then did some exploring. We first went cruising around the halls and found some interesting things including a stair well that... well we should have just stayed out of that stair well, it was made of nightmares. Then we found out that the hotel has a theatre in it. I asked them what time a show would be starting and they let us know that there were no shows this weekend... so we gave ourselves a tour of the theatre.

Working the lights

The "Garage Band"

Making himself at home on the sofa

We eventually got caught by one of the employee's who didn't seem to really care, they were more startled than anything.

Later on Eric arrived and we mingled amongst the people for a while before heading to Pizza Hut for dinner. 

By this time I was suffering from a massive headache that I thought was from dehydration so I of course started drinking water like mad. 80 ounces of water later I still had a headache and thought maybe it was a lack of food. Nothing was kicking it so I just worked through it. CJ and Doug ran out to the store and while they were gone I found that I forgot the USB cable that connects the laptop to the computer. Without this we were dead in the water as I had no way to transfer the routes over to the GPS. I called Doug and he was able to buy one at Walmart. Once they got back we went over a couple of possible routes and created them in Mapsource. Shortly after that I just couldn't stand my headache anymore so I just went to bed.

Sunday morning I woke at about 5:20 am and my headache was mostly gone and I was feeling fine. We had to be at the Riders Meeting at 6:00 am to fill out our waiver and get the points list for the bonus'. Eric and I headed over to CJ and Dougs room only to find that they were up and gone already. We met up with them and got to the riders meeting which lasted a whole ten minutes at most. They passed out the final route sheet and once we had the it we headed back to the room and got on my laptop to create a route.

We looked at a couple of things and then just made a circle on the pins, shrugged our shoulders, and went with it. 
Here is what our plan looked like:

The red is our main route heading counter-clockwise. The pink is a secondary route that we created in case we have any extra time.

I loaded it up in the GPS and we headed outside to wait for 7:00 am and the start of the rally.

Waiting for the start

Once the rally started just followed the route going spot to spot. There was nothing too exciting that happened, we had a couple of U-turns because I missed the mark on the GPS, a couple of hunts where we didn't find what we needed right away, and for the most part we just took our time. We ran into other riders the whole day here and there. I was more than happy to help a couple of them out to find an object a little quicker.
Towards the end of the ride CJ noticed that Eric's tire was showing some chords but it wasn't bad enough that he couldn't continue. We got to the final stop on our original route.

We arrived there at 5:50 pm. We got it and I looked at the GPS to see if there was anything close to us. I saw number 56 in White Bear Lake, MN 10 miles away and worth 250 points. I asked the crew if they were up for it and they all agreed yes. 10 miles away, what is the worst that can happen? We have an hour and ten minutes to get back to the hotel... no problem.
We ran into construction, CJ needed gas, traffic was out of hand, people don't know how to drive, and we were further from the hotel than I anticipated. This was a huge mistake. We bucked our way through traffic, fought with a man and his boat, and we may or may not have exceeded the speed limits by one or two miles an hour.

We made it back in time. We had about ten minutes to spare.

Our final route. The blue is the last one we went after that wasn't part of our plan.

Once back you pull up to one of the volunteers and they take your mileage and the time of your arrival. They then hand you a scoring sheet that you need to write your answers in and add up your points.

Once that is done you take it up to the meeting and get scored. They tell you what they came up with for an ending score and see if you agree with it. We came up with 3765 and so did the scorers. We figured we did a fair job, probably not too high but not dead last. We wandered around while everyone was getting scored.

Here is a shot from the upper patio.

Once everyone was scored they served us dinner and then got on with the awards. They announced the Novice class first which was our class. So how did we do?

We took 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. So we couldn't have done any better. They broke the tie by mileage. Apparently my odometer is a bit off compared to the rest because I ended up with 512 miles and 4th place while Doug got 503 miles for 1st. We were in shock about the whole thing and thrilled to death.

After the excitement of it all wore off we discussed it and wish they would have just given us 1st and let the other riders enjoy 2nd and 3rd but overall that would have made a mess of their scoring system.

Afterwards we hung out with other riders and chatted for a while. I then headed to bed by 10:00 as I wanted to get a good early start in the morning to beat the Memorial Day traffic on the way home.

The next morning I packed up and headed out. I filled up with gas and didn't touch the ground until I needed gas again.

Overall the three days I ended up with 1130 miles.

I can't wait to do it again next time.

Now for the learning lessons.

1. We had no idea what we were getting into and should have done a bit more research.
2. Running with a group of four people is slowing. It was fun but if you want to be more serious about it then keep it at one or two riders.
3. Our route took us a whopping 5 minutes to create. We didn't take the points into consideration at all.
4. We didn't even consider a route until Saturday night and even then we didn't know what we were doing.
5. We thought that all the waypoints they gave us on Friday were bonus stops. We didn't realize that they were the only stops.
6. We didn't fill up with gas the night before the rally so we needed to stop pretty quick after the start.
7. I didn't map it with the thought of position of the bike so we would come into a spot and then have to turn the bikes around before heading to the next spot.
8. Practally every stop consisted of us taking our helmets and gloves off, finding our papers, figuring out what we were looking for, finding it, having a bit of coffee or water and maybe a snack, chat a bit, put our helmet and gloves back on, and head to the next stop where we would do the same thing over again.
9. Make sure everyone in your group can get about 200 miles to a tank.
10. My last learning lesson, if you can go do Bonzai then go do Bonzai, you won't regret it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Slimy Crud Run May 4th 2014

Another Slimy Crud Run has come and gone and the only thing I got from it was a couple of pictures and a sore ass.

We left the house around 7:30 am. Originally it was planned to be my two nephews CJ and Doug and my brother Eric. Eric had to bail because his neck was acting up, it is an injury from a car accident.

The plan was to meet up in a town south of me and north of him. Even though he wasn't coming I decided to head down to the meeting spot anyways just because I had already created the map and didn't feel like redoing it.

It was cool out but not what I would consider cold. Maybe in the low forty's. I rode the Concours just because it is better suited for the colder weather with the large wind screen and the nice heated grips. We jumped on the freeway and headed to the meeting spot, it was the only freeway riding I had planned for. Once off the freeway we got to enjoy some nice twisties and all back roads. Over all the entire ride was pretty uneventful. I didn't have my GoPro because while I had charged it, I somehow turned the backpack on and it completely killed the backpack battery and half the GoPro's battery.

We arrived at the first town at 10:00 am and it was already packed with bikes.

The trailer is for his dog

Once of my favorite bikes

They actually rode this bike to the meet and to the next town

I have no idea what this is but it looks fun

KZ1000 Police Motorcycle had "Ponch" on the front fender like a CHiPs bike although I don't believe they had the full front fairing in the tv show.

The most people I've ever seen at the Slimy Crud

Fair weather brings out all riders

Parking wasn't everyone's strong suit

After an hour or so we made our way to the next town.

The only reason I go to the Slimy Crud Run is for the A&W on the ride home.