Sunday, October 9, 2016

When Your Ride Needs Juice

Ecuador information will be forthcoming, but in the meantime...a teaser. 

The GS was laid up and half apart in an attempt to ready her for the Multiple Sclerosis ride.  So what to do when we want to ride?  Take out the R!

Since Oilburner hasn't ridden her to work this year, the R12R has been a little neglected.  Unfortunately she wasn't on a battery tender and had to be jumped. That didn't put a damper on our day, we merely packed the jumper cables and took off.  I had my hopes that the ride would put the juice back into her and things would be fine.

Hopes but not expectations. 

We didn't have a firm destination.  Thought we would head south to Monticello and see what restaurants remained. Taking tons of backroads that we had never seen, we meandered around and yimmed and yawed.  Hunger was taking over and we spotted a Firehouse Sub that would fill the void. 

Filled the voids in our tummies, but not the belly of my beast.  She wouldn't start. Barely turned over.  Time to get that cable out, but decided to perform that quick surgery on a level area, rather than the slope we were on.  I let her coast backwards.  Gave a couple bunny hops to start our way across the parking lot, and decided to try and bump start her.  A couple more mph and it might have worked.  There just wasn't enough oomph.  However, whatever the move did, it gave her enough of something that she fired up quickly.  Wasn't going to dare shut her down though.

But we needed fuel...  :(  The gas station next door was one of many that were suffering from the pipeline issues, and was out of fuel.  We'd get fuel elsewhere, but turned the bikes back north to hit the dealership and get a new battery. We calculated it out, and figured the battery had to be 6-7 years old. It had done us well.

Nothing exciting to report.  Good day, decent ride, new battery, saw the techs I hadn't seen in awhile.  Couple dollars poorer, but the R is worth it.  It was great riding her again. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Is this a better clue?

By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Looking forward to something

As (thankfully) you listened and put up with my last ruminations, we were trying to figure out how to take a vacation.  We desperately need time away to clear our heads and try to get ourselves back together.  We've tried to figure out a block of time that wouldn't inconvenience work.  (Why is work more important that my mental health?!?!)  We thought we had come up with a good 3 week period.  But then there was a shakeup at my work.  End of year separations, people not promoted that felt they deserved it, lost motivation, emergency family situations necessitating leaves of absence.  I wasn't sure I could pull it off.  Oilburner's boss was giving him a guilt trip.  Telling him he could have the time off in October...oh but'll be on an audit that won't work.  Sigh.

We considered our options.  Would we go back up to Maine and possibly hit Labrador this year?  Should we do something unexpected and go to the Pacific Northwest?  Rent some bikes and force ourselves on Trobairitz and  Troubadour?  Go visit Vancouver Island?  Or do something completely off script and go to Iceland?  New Zealand?  Ecuador?

Or were we going to give that up and just put our heads down and work and figure out the mental health thing later.

Trying to make the decision weighed heavily.  What to do, what to do.

Oilburner cut the guilt trip and pushed for a 2 week vacation.  I bit the bullet and solidified the dates at my job.  Now to decide what to do.  We decided we want to do something completely unexpected, force us out of our lives and do something that would shake everything up.  Since Rogey was out of the country, we could wait on New Zealand.  We did a search on a motorcycle tour we have been researching the past couple of months.  We sent an email request.  We got an answer back.  And suddenly we are leaving deposits and booking international flights and trying to figure out how to pack our riding gear and get out of dodge in 8 days.

Wanna know where we are going?  I'll give you a clue...

Now this...this we are finally excited about.


Monday, August 15, 2016

One Hit Wonder?

Well...I've spilled my soul, written a first post after too long a time, haven't done much riding...what am I supposed to write about now?

I guess there are a few things to get off my chest...

I tend to keep things bottled up.  Unless, of course, you go by the handle of Oilburner.  Then you get to see the crazy come dancing forth in all its rainbow and unicorn glory.

I am basically a private person, not looking to air out the laundry.  I don't want to complain about my problems because everyone has problems.  Many that are worse than mine.  I also tend not to talk about my successes because I don't want to boast. So that makes me a very good listener, question asker, and shoulder to cry on or vent to, as well as being your biggest cheerleader.

This also means that I tend to get stuck in my own head.  Oilburner still gets to carry the brunt of that issue...

However, there are a couple of things that have been weighing heavily for awhile now that I need to get out. 



Trobaritz and All Things Rogey were of the basic sentiment "Bloody Hell Bob!"  Even two years later I'm still not ready.  He's gone too soon and too suddenly.  I am still very upset with him.  And may be one of the reasons I have avoided the blogs, as his name kept popping up with new posts as Skooterbob has made its travels.

Bob and I had been texting back and forth shortly before he left us.  He and Yvonne would be in Knoxville as Oilburner and I were heading north on our vacation.  I put forth the idea that Oilburner and I would adjust our route and swing by to meet for dinner.  It was only going to be 4-6 hours out of our way.  No big deal at the start of our vacation.  He declined.  As we had never met in real life he wanted to reserve our first meeting to his retirement trip the following year.  His reasoning was that he couldn't stand meeting for just a few hours over dinner.  He wanted to wait until we could spend lots of time together to talk, ride, and eat.  Days later and it was no longer an option.  We had been texting the night of his death because Oilburner and I had made it to Mike and BRWs.  I was sending him teaser pictures that we were taking the lodging accommodations he had occupied the year before.  He was appropriately jealous.

The next day Oilburner and I went to Nova Scotia and didn't have good data coverage.  So I didn't think too much about additional messages.  I started to question things when we returned to the US.  I pinged him a few times, figuring their vacation was going great.  But I started to get concerned when another week passed without any responses.  It was never like Bob to not respond.  But we all know how that turned out.

Anyway...I'm still having difficulty in letting go.  Therefore, one reason I withdrew from the blogs.  As much as I would like to host Scooterbob, I still don't think I am ready.

Around the same time we also went through a major personal upheaval by leaving our house of 13 years, to purchase a new home to share with my mother-in-law.  We were collapsing two households into one, with one lady being very unwilling to part with anything from a home she had lived in for 50 years.  I can't blame her, but I also can't condone keeping 25 year old towels riddled with holes.

I tried.  We tried.  We weren't prepared for her actual conditions, abilities, and needs.  We weren't prepared for the emotional and mental impact.  The toll this would take on communication, day-to-day living, interactions, everything.  We weren't prepared.  You would like to think you are, but you can never be prepared for this.  It was difficult to overcome.  And we spiraled down.  Everything we were used to in our lives had been downgraded and we were facing just existing and making it through each day.  Everything suffered.

Only now are we beginning to emerge.  Trying to get our heads back together and pull the strings of our lives back.  But now we have an entire new crop of questions.  Questions I am sure everyone asks themselves.
  • What am I doing with my life?
  • I don't like my job, but do I move on?  If yes, how and to where??
  • Should we move to a place that will make us happier and healthier?
  • Where would that be to balance winter and snow and motorcycle season?
We don't have any answers.  We are still trying to figure out even how to answer.  We are still mired in the mud that has sucked us down, and trying to figure out how to get out.  Any suggestions?  :)

This is all a very long-winded explanation of why I withdrew for the last two years.  I hope you can overlook this transgression.

I've still got my wanderlust.  I've picked up many motorcycle adventure tomes.  Even managed to read a couple of them when the veil lifted every so often.  I give serious thought to chucking all responsibilities and going on an adventure for a year.  Oilburner and I talk of this repeatedly and weigh the possibility versus the hit our responsible adults lives will take. We don't have any answers here either.  Rather depressing...

I'm really hoping to reconnect with you and life and everything that we found enjoyable.  Hoping that will give me the connections to start feeling responsible...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Is there anybody out there?
Just nod if you can here me.
Is there anyone at home?

I can't believe it's been two years since I've last updated anything here. I guess it shouldn't surprise me too much given everything that has been going on, but it is still eye opening how quickly time passes.

Our lives are undergoing another drastic shift and we find ourselves trying to pick up the threads where we left them off a couple years ago. Sadly to say, we really haven't been doing much riding. (Or anything else for that matter.). Soon after getting the big red machine in the last post, we took them on a road trip to Maine again to see our dear friends Mike and BRW. We also took the newly opened ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth and spent a week in Nova Scotia. GORGEOUS!! Coastlines were beautiful, rode the Cabot Trail, overloaded the senses with scenery, and even smuggled some single malt back over the boarder from the distillery that makes the only single malt in Canada. After that we kinda parked the bikes. We took a few day trips, but we had so many other responsibilities that the thrill of riding had turned into the agony of preparation.

So....nothing of note has been going on with regards to the bikes. Hopefully that will be changing. We've already made steps forward and used the extended July 4th holiday to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) again!

We had 4 crazy days to ride the 471 mile parkway, plus the distance to get to the top, starting off point. We had done this in the past, in 3 days. This time we were giving ourselves more time. Wheee... :)

Itinerary: Thursday night - Atl to Bristol, TN, the half way point; Friday - Bristol to Waynesboro, VA, the top most city at the start of the BRP; Sat - Mon - completely open to stopping wherever we want.

Of course, nothing goes as planned...

We were waiting for a package to arrive Thursday afternoon that would return our riding pants, as we had sent then in for minor repairs. Of course, they didn't arrive until 7 pm. Traffic, laziness, packing, procrastination, call it what you want we left about 7:30. We had been hoping for 6. Well, we made it about 90 min up the road, stopped for fuel and to check radar. We had been seeing the clouds cover the sky, and they were trading lightning back and forth regularly.

Radar showed a heavy cell coming quickly, so we decided to take the opportunity to have dinner and hope the storm passed quickly.

Oilburner and I agree that it was nice to miss out on the drenching rain that made a lake out of the parking lot at the Huddle House where we had taken refuge. (What do you mean Taco Bell closes at 9 pm on a Thursday?!?!). But we still aren't sure if we would have been hit if we hadn't stopped. We were right at the convergence where the storm was moving NE and we were going NW. We might have dodged it.

The benefits of stopping was the food and laughter. The drawbacks was that the rain was so hard it seemed to have compromised my waterproof buttons because my escort/blinking lights shorted out and could not be turned off. These things run like 6 million candle watt power and were annoying Oilburner something fierce. So annoying, that 4 miles up the road we were pulling over to figure out some solution. He wanted to cut the wires. Ummm..... NO!!! Doesn't he remember how difficult these were to wire up? And besides, they come in handy when you are fogged into some mountain top on the BRP and fear getting hit. I refused to let him cut the wires and we settled on trying to just cover the lights up. We were somewhat successful, with first aid gauze and surgery tape, but I hear they were still pretty visible. Didn't bother me much, not sure why Oilburner was so annoyed. I felt he should have just ridden in front if he didn't want to look at them. ;)

Ultimately, I loved riding until 2 am, after the rain the weather was cool. Cool enough that I enjoyed turning a little heat in Gerbings on. The ride was beautiful on empty roads and the front lights turned the road to daylight.

Bonus was the hotel let us park the bikes directly next to the door and checkout wasn't until noon. SCORE!! Since we only need to ride about 4 hours the next day, there was not rush.
In all, the trip was wonderful. Spent more time on the bikes, both per day and one trip, than we had in 2 years. And boy our butts let us know now it!

We made parkway logistics more difficult then they needed to be on the first day. We didn't rush but didn't lolligag either, and wound up burning through 200 miles on the first day. We got lost trying to find a hotel in Mt. Airy, VA. No, we didn't see Andy Griffiths childhood home. The second day was great, moving in and out of the clouds. My blinky lights came in handy. :) We took it easy, tempted some fish with with warm string cheese. I learned the fine art of finessing a clutch to run in neutral downhill to see my "mileage to empty" actually run backwards. (I tempted the fuel gods, pleading for them to give me enough to make it to the next gas station 30 miles away. I started with 51 miles, rode 35, and still had 41 to go.) There was a stretch there I coasted for 9 miles, gaining 3 miles back on the computer estimate. Clutch fingers were a little tired, but it was fun calling out as the computer gave me time back.

Highlights: Enjoyed feeding the fish. Liked playing with the butterfly on my boot. Rode 1130 miles. Flipped 13K miles on the red machine. Danced with the fuel gods. Found new filters on my camera. Love the north half of the BRP with fields and farms. Love the south half for the curves. Great getting out on the bikes. Pretty flowers. Fell in love with the chocolate lava cake at Chili's. Redneck spelling.

Link to additional pics.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Now about that red bike

BMW seemed to make a lot of little changes that, on the surface, don't seem too disruptive or significant, but sure adds up to one brand new machine. The service manager at our dealership said that it took him comparing my '11 with the '14 to really see all of the little changes that had been done. I, myself, didn't notice them either until the night before I picked up the bike. Honestly, we had been waiting so long for these, and I was on the fence about buying the new one anyways, and work has been so hectic, that I hadn't been giving it much thought. So it took me researching the crash bars until I realized how much I did not like the new design in some aspects.

The biggest problem with upgrades like this is that they never seem to let you use the accessories you spent gobs of money on for the last bike, because they absolutely will not fit on the new one. In this case, they swapped the swingarm and the exhaust can. That required the purchase of new panniers, yet again. ARGH! (Though they have been redesigned themselves in the interrim, and they are somewhat improved.) Yeah, I don't love the plastic panniers. There are some better adventure ones out there. But I really, really like that these ones expand when needed. A lever inside the case allows it to expand another 1.5 to 2 inches. I like that for traveling. I can keep them compact for regular riding, and expand for long distance trips. Also, my helmet will actually fit in one of them. Therefore around town rides let's me hide it there, not having to carry it around everywhere.

Like the RT, this one has only been ridden home. So I don't have a lengthy frame of reference on the handling differences. I am going to have to reserve my judgement until I can spend more time on the bike. (This weekend!!!! squeal!!)

The engine is smooth. So very smooth. Just like the RT. The clutch is superb. Even though the GS doesn't have the clutchless shifting, the smallest flick of the clutch lets me shift. This model hasn't lost any overall weight, but it does feel lighter and easier. The seat has been redesigned, that even though the seat height is the same, I can actually flat foot this beast. By comparison, I could get one foot flat on the '11, with the second being mostly flat with my heal less than an inch from pavement. I didn't love that I couldn't flat foot it. I feel that is major for control in parking lots and such. I had gotten accustomed to it, and just recognized the situations when I needed to park somewhere else, or man handle the bike from the side. (Or ask Oilburner to move it.)

So I am disappointed in myself that I didn't instantly love this bike. People believe that is because I had ridden Oilburners and already understood the difference with the new engine. That I need more time on my bike to get a feel for it.

I plan on spending lots of time on it this weekend, hitting the twisties to break that engine in. I will keep you posted on thoughts and feel.

BMW really reduced the amount of paint on these machines. The darker silver here was red on the '11 model. They also blacked out much more of the frame and supports in the cockpit area, darkening the overall looks. I like it as it will probably enhance visibility of the instrument cluster. They added a little sacrificial tank pad down towards the seat/crotch to prevent scratches. Good thinking.

Yes, they have added the "dial" on the left hand grip. On this machine it controls the GPS only. On Oilburners machine it controls EVERYTHING! Even the heated grips and seat. I was breathing a sigh of relief to learn that the heated grips is still a button the right grip. One huge disappointment is the single turn signal lever. BLECH!!! My tiny hands and short thumb make applying the turn signal something that I actually have to think about instead of just intuitive.

And don't ask me why the crash bars are different shapes between left and right. I only just noticed and will now have to go and look. Jeez I hope they can remove the valve covers without having to remove the bars.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The other contents...

In case anyone was wondering...

Let me tell you all about the new RT(W). From an RT perspective, I can appreciate the full fairings when it comes to long distance traveling, in rain or cold conditions. Those fairings are very nice at blocking lots of environmental issues and letting you sit in a little cocoon of air behind that wind sail they call a windshield and all that plastic. (It also blocks air during high temps of summer, not allowing as much cooling air flow.) It might be pointing out the obvious that while I can appreciate the bike and its features, the bike doesn't really appeal to me.

This is now the third RT that Oilburner has owned. His first was the 2009 demo bike that he was able to purchase after its "year" service with 2600 miles on it. I did not ride that bike too often. I was still new to riding and too afraid of dropping the darn thing and scratching up all that expensive plastic. I did ride it a couple times in the winter when I was underdressed and a long way from home. Comparing it to my R1200R, the handling just felt a little "off". Almost like it wasn't tracking well. Hard to imagine with only two wheels. We mentioned it a couple times to the dealer, and they did some research and measuring but never discovered anything.

After totaling that bike, he wasn't sure what he wanted as a replacement. Weeks of researching what he might want next, we were in the BMW dealership and his eyes completely lit up when he saw his second love in the form of a 2011 model. He was so distraught over the loss of the first one, he was having a difficult time thinking of any replacments. So when I saw how excited and happy he looked for the first time, I urged him into buying it then and there.

To give you a little history and tradition, when our little group first started riding, Oilburner's years of riding prompted a tradition of him riding everyone's bikes home from their maiden purchase. No one did that for Oilburner, since he was the backbone after all. And he seemed to have poor luck with his bikes. That meant the purchase of this brand new 2011 meant that we wanted to enforce tradition and have someone else ride his bike home! who would that be...

The difference in handling was night and day. I was still scared of dropping the thing, and wanted to be careful. But I was very impressed with how smooth it was compared to his '09. So while I still would never convert, it was a nicer bike in my opinion.

Fast forward to last Saturday. We bounced back and forth with tradition again and discussed riding each other's bikes home. It was a moot point since he has been so terribly ill that he wasn't capable of riding his home, and the GS wasn't ready. Be default I again rode his brand new 2014 R1200RT(W) home.

Wow. WOW!!!!!!!

The new oil and water cooled engine is fantastically smooth. That might also have something to do with a wet clutch. Oh my. So far, all our our BMW's have been dry clutches. This was a nice change. Oilburner also sprung for the "Pro Shift Assistant" that allows up and down shifting without the clutch. I didn't have the guts to try it. Then again, I was only on the bike about 7 miles.

I'm generally reluctant to do much horseplay or "feeling out" on bikes that are not mine. So it is quite surprising that I was flipping the bike through its paces, zigging and zagging across the lane to get a feel for the balance and handling a block away from the dealer. I tried to reign it in, but failed in another block when I goosed it to avoid having to stop for a very yellow light. Oops.

Another couple of blocks brought me to the larger thoroughfare. Saturday, time of day, empty roads. Just how did I get up to 70 mph?

This bike is fun. They managed to shave about 40 lbs of weight from the bike. They lowered the bars just a touch. It all added up to lighter weight, more flickable, lower center of gravity, and FUN! Don't get me wrong. I'm not a convert, but I caught myself daydreaming about a cross country ride behind those fairings. (It only lasted a second. I swear!)

Poor Oilburner, he had to watch me ride his new motorbike home. (He swears he didn't mind.) And as of the time of this post, he has only pushed the bike a few feet and ridden it exactly 12 feet in a forward direction. Unbelieveable.