Rally Time Again!

This Saturday, September 28th, Jeff will be participating in Team Lyle’s Garden State Rally, an 8-hour scavenger-hunt, photo-grab style rally that takes place entirely within the state of New Jersey. Follow Jeff’s movements on Spotwalla, and follow all the photographic action on the Garden State Rally’s Facebook Page; there are extra points for checking-in at the bonus locations, so you’ll be able to see where folks are as the rally progresses. For the best tracking of participants in real-time, keep an eye on the shared Spotwalla page, where most participants will be sharing their tracking feeds.

558675_355648311183909_864263148_nI have the Versys nearly packed and ready. This time, I’ll be trying out some new methods I learned the hard way on the Mason-Dixon 20/20 rally back in May. For one, I’ve laminated several 3×5 cards that list the waypoints on my two most likely routes. These cards will live in the map pocket on the arm of my Olympia X-Moto jacket, so I can make sure the GPS is on track to the proper point, and I’ve also noted what to look for (what the bonus actually requires) when I get to each location, so I don’t have to waste time pulling out the rally book. The cards also make it easier if/when I need to abandon the planned route(s) I have in the GPS for whatever reason; I can choose which points to skip and just set the GPS to go directly to the next one, without having to reprogram the whole route.

Taking a tip from Hammy Tan, I recently bought a telescoping monopod on eBay, which I turned into a rally flag rig by adding a First Gear pants hanger on the end (you know, the hangers that have the two clips to hang pants from). This will go in my tank bag, with the rally flag clipped to it. When I get to each bonus location, I can pull out the rig (with the flag attached), extend it, and hold it up in front of whatever I need to capture at the bonus location, and snap the pic while still straddling the bike. Not having to get off the bike and set up the rally towel should save me lots of time at each bonus location.

I’m going to need all the time I can muster. I have a route set for approximately 426 miles, going a bit north from the rally headquarters in Branchburg, to as far south as Cape May Courthouse, and most places in between. With an 8-hour limit, I’m going to need to maintain at least 53mph average speed, including stopped time. I did not work out a system yet for calculating how far ahead or behind schedule I am at any given point, so I’ll rely on the Garmin Nuvi 765t GPS‘s trip computer for keeping an eye on my overall average speed.

The weather is predicted to be sunny with high temps in the 70s, otherwise known as “perfect”. Look for lots of photos and a full write-up here, soon after the rally.

 

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Jeff’s SaddleSore 1000 Ride

I knew I would have to be awake for the next 24 hours straight. Not just awake, but I would have to be focused, alert, and able to react. Still, sleep eluded me. It was the night before my very first attempt at a certifiable endurance ride, and I was too excited to sleep.

Weeks earlier, I had chosen this particular day – the first full day in between three nights off from work – to try my hand at the Iron Butt Association’s “easiest” certification: the SaddleSore 1000. The SaddleSore certification requires the rider to not only ride a total of 1,000 miles within 24 hours, but also to prove it through detailed documentation. I had longed to prove my riding mettle with an Iron Butt Association (IBA) certification for years, but had never made the time to do so. With my buddy Todd and I scheduled to participate – indeed, compete – in the Mason-Dixon 20/20 Rally over Memorial Day weekend, I felt the need for a shakedown run, to work out any weaknesses in my abilities or my equipment. We had just participated in the Annual Moonshine Lunch Run in Casey, Illinois a month ago, and ended up riding over 700 miles home in one 12-hour stretch of highway, with little effort, so I felt ready for a thousand-mile day. Read more »

Categories: Ride Repots | 2 Comments

Moonshine 2013 – The Ride Out

Or, “Isn’t it springtime yet?!”

Our schedule allowed us a two-day ride out to Moonshine – a little over 700 miles from home for both of us – so we stuck with tradition and met at the Sheetz gas station in Breezewood, PA. Thursday afternoon, we both arrived at the Sheetz just off the intersection of I-76 and I-70 in south central Pennsylvania, the same place we kicked off our 2010 and 2012 multi-week trips. After emptying our bladders and topping off the fuel tanks, we headed west on Rt 30.

After some personal business at the AT&T store in Bedford, we continued west on 30, as the two-lane meandered through the hills and dells of southwestern PA. Growing hungry, we stopped well before dark at the Fireside Inn. Bison and angus burgers were prominent on the menu, but Todd was able to talk the waitress into admitting the bison meat was frozen. I still tried the bison burger, but Todd opted for the fresh angus. Overall, the food and prices were more than acceptable.

After passing the spot where I dumped my VFR in the dirt in 2009 and the Flight 93 memorial we visited last year, we hit Pittsburgh just as night fell on us. City traffic took some adjustment after being on rural interstate and lonely two-lane all afternoon. Traffic was lighter than expected and we were out the other side quickly. Still, Pittsburgh is quite a scenic city, even at night, with the main highways looking down on most of the city.

Continuing on Rt 30 west towards the Ohio border, we planned to camp at the Kennedy Marina & Campground, where we stayed in 2009 on a long weekend ride. In 2009, I had already dumped the VFR in a ditch near Ligonier, PA, when we ended up in Newell, WV. Wanting to stay at the Holiday Inn in Newell, we were told they were sold out due to Big & Rich having a concert in the area. We ended up camping across the street at the Kennedy Marina.

This time, we tried the campground first, only to find it doesn’t open until May. There was a heavy thunderstorm predicted for the Newell area, so once again we tried the Holiday Inn. Once again, it was sold out for a concert – this time it was the Charlie Daniels Band. I started to wonder how this little town on the WV/PA border draws such big country bands. It was after 10:30 pm so the hunt was on for a place to sleep.

Read more »

Categories: Moonshine 2013, Trip Report | 1 Comment

2013 Equinox to Equinox Rally

Or, “The Pace Podcast has a rally. Take that, WheelNerds!”

Chris and James of The Pace Podcast have decided to start a worldwide photo-tag style rally this year. During the six months between the vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox, participants from anywhere in the world can accumulate points by submitting new photos of their motorcycle (and an official rally placard) in front of various general landmarks, as listed in the rally’s bonus locations.

Read more here, and register soon. The earlier you start, the more opportunities you’ll have to grab points on your rides. Good luck!

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Eat Sleep Moto

New decals are available from Todd’s business site: www.lamponedesigns.com

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1984 Honda Aero 125 (aka NH125)

So once I got my Aprila I started to really pay attention to scooters in general. One thing I have always kept far away from the Chinese knock-offs you see on Craigslist. I am sure they are great for the money (for a little while at least) but I was more interested in the ones I could cherish and one I could ride and appreciate their heritage. <-- is that weird? To actually say "cherish" and "appreciate their heritage" with regard to scooters? Surely a true motorcycle lover wouldn't dare stoop so low. Well yeah, I went there. Well, I began keeping an eye out for interesting specimens. What caught my attention was a 1984 Honda Aero 125. Now as far as the U.S. is concerned the model year (1984) is irrelevant. This is because if it's an Aero 125 it HAS to be from 84 because that was the first and only year they were sold here. And even then they were not sold in California or Canada. The most interesting thing about the Aero 125 is that it is a 125cc air cooled 2-stroke and is the largest 2-stroke engine Honda has ever sold in a scooter. It is a work in progress but the fact that I am making progress is amazing. Recently I removed the anemic stock 18mm carburetor with a Mikuni VM22. Tuning is going well and it will soon be ready for the street again. After all the mechanics are figured out the body panels will go off to paint and I will cut some custom decals. Here is what it looked like when I first got it: 20130304-001015.jpg

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Categories: Scooters | 3 Comments

2010 Aprilia SR50R Factory race replica

The thing is scooters are great! In the beginning I only ever got the SR50 for doing the Scooter Cannonball Run. Sure I hoped that at some point I could get it fast enough through modifications to commute on it to work but I ride the Baltimore Washington parkway. And while in theory the speed limit is either 55mph or 45mph I often find myself doing 80mph to keep up with traffic. I quickly figured out that it is unlikely my little SR50 would be taking me to work (for now) but around town these things are amazing! From traffic light to traffic light even my SR50 (currently modified) does the deed. And on a good day, on level ground (or even better downhill), I have reached indicated speeds of 60-70mph!

I guess I really don’t see why everyone doesn’t own a scooter. Most of the time people are just carting themselves around town, alone. And most of the time you’re not even hauling anything other than a bag, or just a wallet and a cell phone. What a waste! For around town jaunts I hop on a scooter. And if I need to carry anything of substance I am on my Aprilia. Hell just today I went to Walmart and got a 6lb bag of charcoal. It fit right under the seat. The selling point for me (not really a SELLING point at all as I already owned it) was when I fit a bag of take-out and a 6pk of beer under the seat. It had passed the test. In fact the most I have fit in the under-seat storage was two regular take-out containers and a 6pk of beer. That’s a lot of stuff! In addition to that there is a cubby for my wallet and phone, a separate lockable area for small tools and finally a hook for holding bags. Fun fact; this hook was the reason I was able to bring home a 12pk box of Coronas.

Thought: I’m seeing a trend here and wondering if I drink too much beer.

I love this with heritage, purpose, and background. That’s where the Aprilia falls. It has the Aprilia name behind it (currently owned by Piaggio) and is a replica of their race bikes but even among scooters it is an interesting breed. Most importantly the power plant is uncommon and very technologically advanced. Most scooters nowadays have all but transition to 4-stroke engines; even a lot of the 50cc engines are 4-stroke. But not the SR. It has always been a “special” scooter. No not “short-bus” special but different and always pushing the boundaries as a very sporty scoot with a lot of firsts. I won’t go into all of them. You can read about the SR50’s history and whatnot here. All you need to know is that the heart of the SR50 is a 49cc direct injected, liquid cooled, 2-stroke (of course with oil injection). Currently my SR50 is spec’ed out (aka: modified) with a 260mm (yes 260) front brake disc, Aprilia Racing rear shock, and a High Gain Tuning fuel pressure regulator. Upcoming modifications include a Malossi 70cc big bore kit and a Malossi gear-up kit. Once done i’m hoping for move my top speed into the 70-75mph range.

All of this utility, performance, and still consistently getting 75mpgs? What’s not to love?!

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Scooters

If you thought that MotoTourers was just about motorcycles, well, you’d be wrong. In fact we are all about everything motorized with two (and sometimes three) wheels. Specifically I have recently become addicted to scooters.

It all has to do with my obsession to do more with less and started a good many years ago when I laid eyes on the hottest little thing I ever saw; the Aprilia SR50. At the time I wasn’t all that impressed with scooters as they had always carried a bit of a stigma. Apparently THE saying was “Scooters are like fat girls, great fun to ride until your friends find out” (no offense to any larger readers out there; just quoting history). So I avoided them. Even now when I ride around town I get a bit anxious when I ride past a bunch of kids. I feel like they are all laughing at me. Pretty sad right?

Anyway, I digress, fast forward to the present where I am supposedly comfortable with who I am and I’m special, yadda yadda yadda. I stumble upon what I see as a magnanimous event; the Scooter Cannonball Run. Although dueto some in-group fighting Jeff and I have decided to take part in another similar event; the Scooter Gumball Rally. In fact I have already been accepted onto the planning committee and have started working on the route. And let me tell you it’s going to be epic.

The Urban dictionary describes a Cannonball Run as “driving from coast to coast of the United States as fast as possible, often to break a record”. Alex Roy has the unofficial record of driving from New York City to Los Angeles, 2800 miles, in a scant 31hrs.

In addition to my Aprilia I have also acquired a 1984 Honda Aero 125 and a 1984 Yamaha Riva 180.

On to the pictures:

My 2010 Apilia SR50R Factory Race replica

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Categories: Scooters | 1 Comment

2013 Mason Dixon 20-20 Rally

BATTLECOLORred2We couldn’t make the event last year, but Jeff and Todd are registering for this year’s Mason Dixon 20-20 motorcycle rally to benefit the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The rally starts in Martinsburg, West Virginia on May 24th, 2013. On May 25th and 26th, the riders will be out gathering points for reaching various destinations. Unlike last year’s photo-tag style of accumulating points at the destinations, this year’s event boasts a new style of proving that destinations were reached. Apparently, the actual method for scoring will be kept secret until the Rally Packs get sent out a week before the event.  A more comprehensive set of general rules are on the Mason Dixon 20-20 website.

This is a planning and navigation challenge, not a race, and not even a true endurance event thanks to the mileage cap and mandatory rest period. Up to date GPSes, well-maintained bikes, and a lot of luck will be the key to success. No matter what, it should prove to be a fun weekend.

We will be posting our preparations as the date grows closer. Also, we will have real-time coverage during the event, utilizing smart-phone streaming video, SPoT satellite trackers that update our position every 10 minutes, and regular posts to our Facebook Page. Stay tuned!

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Jeff’s MotoTour 2012 Equipment Review

Let me start by explaining how I’ve come to pack my motorcycle for trips.

When I first added hard Givi side cases to my VFR, I would take the cases off and bring them into the hotel room or tent with me. Eventually, I bought the appropriate bag liners from Givi, so I could leave the dirty, wet, bulky cases on the bike and just carry the light and clean liner full of stuff to where I need it. This led to dividing things up into the two case liners so that I only need to take one bag into a hotel or tent with me. The left case now gets filled with riding gear (liners, heated gear, extra gloves, etc) and some tools (Battery Tender Jr, electrical repair kit). The right-hand case is the one I take with me into the hotel or tent, and it’s filled with clothing and toiletries. Taking the right-hand bag with me leaves the bike unbalanced towards the left, putting more weight towards the kickstand. This left/right weight consideration was not important on the VFR, where I would usually park the bike on the centerstand, but since the Versys does not have a centerstand, it’s important to me that it leans on the kickstand firmly, especially on uneven ground.

For the 2010 trip, Todd and I looked around for a good bag to use across the passenger seats of our bikes to hold our camping gear. The bag had to strap to the rear rack, be at least water-resistant if not waterproof, have easy access to some stuff while on the bike, and be durable, while being able to hold all of our camping gear. I found the MotoPak GT-Roll bag on sale directly from the MotoPak website. We each ordered one and gave them a try for 4 weeks on the 2010 trip. The GT-Roll bag has a wide opening on top, which makes it very easy to stuff a sleeping bag and other large items inside. Zippered pockets on each end swallow up plenty of mid-sized items: tools, cans of chain lube, mess kit, camp stove, and lots of little things. The top flap covers the main zipper, and also has a few pockets for flat items like magazines or books and small items like extra guy lines and rain gloves. Two heavy bungee cords were supplied and are threaded through loops to hold them in place on the bag; I generally use these bungee cords to secure the bag to the rear luggage rack or the rear subframe. But, the bag also has two thick velcro straps sewn on, and they look like they could easily wrap around a backrest securely. Or there’s the multitude of sewn-on plastic hooks with which to use your own bungee cords; mounting options abound. It is made of durable cordura nylon which gives it some water resistance, but it also comes with a plasticy rain cover that goes over the whole bag and makes it virtually waterproof. With around 13k miles of use over the past 2 years, my GT-Roll bag is still like new. I would have expected at least one of the zippers to have failed by now, but even after repeatedly over-stuffing the bag and fighting to get the zipper to close, it still works perfectly. The main zipper has a few obvious kinks in it where it’s been stressed at times, but it has not failed me yet. This was probably the best value of any motorcycle equipment I’ve ever owned.

2009 Versys...Loaded

2009 Versys…Loaded

In the GT-Roll bag goes my sleeping bag, Therma-Rest pad, rain gear, mess kit, camp stove, chain lube, tool roll, and whatever assortment of small items I can’t fit anywhere else. This trip, I decided to strap my tent on top of the GT-Roll bag. The tent seems to get wet almost every time we camp, even if it’s just from the dew in the morning, so I didn’t want to continue packing it inside the bag where it could get my sleeping bag wet. Also, strapping it outside allowed it to dry as I rode. I didn’t worry about the tent in the rain, since I roll it up so that the waterproof parts are towards the outside. Even if it does get wet, it dries quickly while I’m moving. I also strapped my camp stool onto the GT-Roll bag. The tent and stool were secured with a pair of adjustable flat straps I found at REI for about $8.

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