My friends tour
This should be my most challenging trip to date, I plan to ride a loop through the lower 48 states solo on a Hyosung GT 250 visiting friends along the way. Confidence among my local friends that the bike (AKA Marvin) will be able to make the entire trip without a major meltdown is low to put it mildly. OK so the bike had a few problems the first 2 years requiring the replacement of 3 magnetos, 2 rectifiers, 4 batteries, 1 rear shock, 1 fuel sending unit, 1 fuel petcock, 1 CDI module and 2 engines. I figure those were just Marvin’s rebellious teenage years. So why would I want to use the 250 when Suzi the 1200 Bandit is ready to go you might wonder. The 250 gets an average of 65 mpg (44 mpg for Suzi) loaded giving me a 270 mile range per tank and if I happen to drop it I can pick it up by myself. Having just finished a 1,500 mile trip with it my confidence is optimistically high but that’s not to say I won’t be coming back on a Greyhound bus. Let the planning begin, launch is Labor Day.
The route has been planned out to include 14 friends and 1 family member along an 9,000 mile journey lasting 30 days. Each color is that day's ride.
Well I made it…barely. Some things didn’t quite go as planned but then they never do and it’s all part of the adventure. During my review I will be using my friend’s web sites nom-de-plume only to protect the guilty. The dotted lines on the map are course corrections I had to make due to circumstances fate handed me along the way cutting out 2 planned stops in Vegas and Denver.
I left out at dawn in warm but comfortable temperatures making my way along the Florida back roads, Marvin seemed content to run along at 65~70 mph so I let him at it. By the time I got to central Georgia it was mid 90’s and humid, finding a copse of trees for shade I pulled over to take a break.
Alas my break would be short lived as I was assaulted by a large group of relentless commando gnats. I motor on and arrive at VFRgirl’s place without further incidents. While servicing the chain I notice the heel portion of my shifter is loose, tightening the bolts takes care of it. The next day was a planned visiting day giving Marvin the day off. The following morning at first light I’m on the road again with an escort. VFRgirl has decided on a short road trip and joins in on the day's ride.
Mid-day and we find a boat ramp to stop and devour the sandwiches she prepared that morning for us. She goes to the water’s edge and wonders about the sign warning against swimming in the lake or eating any fish caught there.
Marvin handles some nice curvy back roads in Kentucky with ease despite the load and we arrive in Richmond where I’m due to have dinner with a friend. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it after getting stuck at work. The next morning I head north aiming for Lima Ohio and VFRgirl heads south into a waiting thunderhead, my weather would prove to be made to order with blue skies and cool temps. Out of Kentucky I cross the Ohio river.
The Buckeye state welcomes me.
Arriving in Lima I have some time to kill as Cyclonemike isn’t due to be home yet. I pull into a McDonalds to use the restroom. After the deed I go to wash my hands, I have a rule where I always turn on the water first but here there was water splashes all over the sinks and thought nothing of going right for the soap. After a thorough soaping I reached under the automatic faucet and …nothing, no matter what I try I cannot get the water to flow. Maybe I can just wipe the soap off, no dice. My hands are sticky and must be rinsed, looking around I find the only other source of water in the room, the urinal. I hit the flush lever and proceed to rinse my hands, it’s really not so bad once you get passed the idea that you’re rinsing your hands in the pisser. Of course once back at the bike I made liberal use of my hand sanitizer. I arrive at Chateau Cyclonemike and pull right into the garage.
He has a nice place most of us could only dream about.
And plenty of running room for the puppies.
We spent the evening telling war stories over pizza before retiring to a good night’s sleep. The next morning we bid farewell with plans to meet again and I ride off into a foggy morning.
The fog was short lived and I soon rode out of it. Across the rest of Ohio and Indiana I made good time with comfortable weather and little to no traffic, and then I got to Illinois. As a rule I try to avoid eastern Illinois, no good can come of it but since my next stop was Milwaukee I had no choice. I made a point of giving Chicago a wide berth to no avail, traffic permeated like the plague everywhere I went. Turning north I ran into construction, one of the two lanes was closed off and for the next 8 miles under a merciless sun I could not get enough speed up to let the clutch out in 1st gear. Slip the clutch, stop and wait, slip the clutch, stop and wait, no way to exit the road or turn around I endured the 8 miles taking longer than it took me to cross Indiana and at the end were three “workers” (I use the term loosely) staring at a pot hole. I finally arrive at my hotel in Milwaukee and the only rooms left are on the second floor. Nothing like a good workout after a day in traffic hauling all my gear to the room. Once settled in I call Tiggeress for our dinner date, we talked bikes and common interest. The next morning she shows up on Roo, her Honda CB250 Nighthawk to provide me an escort as far as lunch.
After lunch we bid farewell as she returns to Milwaukee and I motor on under clear blue skies to Viola Wisconsin to visit with some long time friends. In Viola I service the drive chain and make a minor repair to the power feed for my music setup, Marvin then has 2 days of rest while I visit and catch up. Leaving out after the 2 days it’s time to make tracks, I run a nice country back road out of Wisconsin and cross into Iowa. The trip across Iowa is straight forward under clear blue skies and cool temps. I arrive in Sioux Falls South Dakota and my first choice for a motel turns out to be a complete dump, even the doors to the rooms were homemade from cheap plywood, I go to plan B and stay at the Microtel, a very nice place for the price. The next morning with another full day planned I head out at first light with the morning dawning behind me.
40 miles from Pierre I pass up a gas station even though I’m low. I know I’ll have to refuel in Pierre regardless since I’ll have 180 miles of nothing between Pierre and Sturgis. What I didn’t count on was turning west into a strong head wind. I had reservations there for a while but I made it to Pierre taking on 4.15 gals in a 4.2 gal tank. I check into a motel in Sturgis South Dakota and study the maps for the next day.
Morning comes and it looks like another perfect day of cool temps and blue skies. Into Montana and as in the past deer are everywhere probably averaging one every quarter mile, some are resting by the road numbering in the dozens and don’t even look up when I pass, almost as if they were domesticated. Some of course are travelers like these that crossed right in front of me.
Just outside of Broadus Montana a sign brings back memories of a past trip.
In Livingston Montana I take a motel for the night after a perfect day’s ride. The next morning is chilly but without a cloud in the sky I know it will be warming to pleasant temps in short order. I get into some nice mountain sweepers and Marvin eats up the miles. When the road comes to a 'T’ I can't help but notice that no one will ever blow this stop sign.
Montana has some wide open big sky country with a flare all it's own.
And some places where you can dial up the wick a bit, with care.
Soon the Rockies appear in the distance.
Turning west I notice a faint exhaust leak sound, I had a bracket off the muffler welded some months back and I’m wondering if the weld has broken. Something to check on later. I arrive in C’oeur D’alene Idaho at the Bates Motel, it’s a dive but I have to spend the night there just to say I have.
Morning time and it’s on the chilly side at 43°. I jump on the interstate to get past Spokane, my welcome into town was to get scanned by a local deputy with laser but with Marvin it’s a moot point. I press on into Washington and find some pretty farm country.
Arriving in Seattle the exhaust leak is bad, I check into the hotel and look for the leak. Somehow the down tube on the front cylinder perforated leaving a fair size hole, recycled Korean beer cans make poor exhaust systems.
I call my friend pacnwfoto and he drives out to take me on a tour of Seattle. From high up at a golfing resort we can see the Seattle skyline.
After a tour of some local curvy roads and a trip through downtown Seattle we end up at his house for some fine wine and steaks on the grill.
After making a pass at the auto parts store for some muffler patch I get back to the hotel and bid pacnwfoto farewell thanking him for a fine evening. I follow the directions and patch up the hole in the pipe but I have doubts as to weather it will hold. Further inspection shows the shifter is loose again, that explains the missed shifts earlier. I tried tightening up the bolts but this time I snapped one off. Bailing wire to the rescue to get me through the next day. I leave the Seattle area happy to have finally met pacnwfoto but sad that I did not get to meet Mikimoto, another from the same area. In southwest Washington 101 shows off some seaside beauty.
From there the road turned inland, traffic increased as well as the temperature and my exhaust patch has melted and fallen down the pipe giving Marvin a sick Ducati sound. I get to Salem Oregon but the address I’m looking for is surrounded by construction. A quick cell phone call and I get directions to the back of Olequa’s house by a small alley. By now I’m hot and a little dehydrated but happy to have arrived. Olequa cleared a special place in his garage for Marvin.
The next day is a rest day which affords me the time to pay Lowes a visit for tools and hardware to fix Marvin up. The shifter is fixed up and I fabricate a patch for the pipe from a tuna can and a couple of hose clamps safety wired not to come loose, this repair would prove true and last through the rest of the trip. I'm also feeling a weekness telling me the previous day's heat took more out of me than I expected.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing with Olequa and his 3 little ambulatory shark baits.
Time to make tracks and Olequa plans to escort me as far as Bend Oregon. It's a cold start to the morning and it wouldn't warm up until we got past the mountain passes and into Bend.
At Bend we say our farewells and I head south. By the time I got to weed California the temperature had soared to 88°. A short 2 hours later it was 105° with 17% humidity. I drank all I had but the heat just seem to suck all the moisture out of me in short order. This heat was intense, like a cooking heat. I’ve crossed Death Valley at 120° and it didn’t feel as bad as this, with all my vents open I was literally being cooked like vegetables in one of those hot air cookers they advertise on TV. I arrive at Redding California and get a hotel, severely dehydrated and weak. After cooling off and drinking enough to drown a fish I check the weather channel. The wind is coming across the desert and off the coast. They’re calling for upper 90’s in the mountains where I’d planned to ride the next day and without a sea breeze the coast was equally as hot. With heat everywhere I reluctantly decide on the I-5 interstate to get as much ground covered as possible. I would also find out I’d lost my cell phone so the little bike that no one thought would make it has become my lifeline out of the desert. Leaving at sun up the next morning I made tracks, by 1030 AM it was 108° and 5% humidity. Once again I stopped and drained all 4 water bottles.
I find a hotel off some exit by noon but by then the damage was done, I was once again severely dehydrated and a complete loss of appetite making this the second day without food, I couldn’t seem to drink enough to make a difference. 1 more day and I would be in Los Angeles and a planned 2 days of rest at my niece’s house. The next morning still feeling quite week I load up and head out. By 10AM the triple digit temps were back then mother nature threw me a curve ball in the form of a sand storm. I had to close all the vents just to breathe. Ever been camping and wrapped a potato in aluminum foil then tossed it in the fire? I now know how that feels. It took 40 miles to get through the sand storm with no place to turn off or wait it out. I’m in a bad way, I noticed that I’ve stopped sweating and my vision is swimming, my arms respond to commands but they feel like they belong to someone else, I’m into heat exhaustion and dangerously dehydrated but close to LA so I push on. Just a little farther I tell myself. In LA on the 405 I need to make a right (west) on the 101 Ventura freeway but when I get there it’s labeled as north and south (the only intersection where they’re labeled that way) and they both turn to the right. Of course I take the wrong branch and immediately find myself in stopped traffic, in my current condition all the auto fumes are not helping matters. I make my way to the next exit splitting traffic where space allows and double back. A couple of miles later I find my exit and my niece’s house. When I took off my helmet she recoiled in shock, I was drained and a pale grey in color, she wanted to call me an ambulance but all I needed now that I’d arrived was rest and sustenance. I had not eaten in 3 days nor had I peed the last 2 days. With what strength I had left I lowered the kickstand and made my way inside the guest house.
As if I didn’t have enough problems I later find out I have 2 nasty bleeding pressure sores about 2 inches around and a ¼ inch deep. My niece playing nurse brings me fluids and soups on a regular basis, sweet girl that one. After the 2 days of scheduled rest the heat wave hasn’t let up and I plan for 2 more days of rest and heeling. On the 5th day it was time to move on, places to go and people to meet. Armed with a new cell phone I head back to the desert. By noon it was in the mid 90’s but I was already checking into a hotel at the California/Arizona line. The next morning I take off early headed for Phoenix. The Arizona desert must be pretty hot, even the plants try to stay off the ground.
Arizona has an arid beauty all it's own.
Running along I-10 we came into some construction that brought the traffic to a halt, new problem. The wind is gusting 20~40 mph from my side and in my weakened state I came to an un-ceremonial stop. Now sitting there with both legs out to steady the bike against the gusting wind the traffic starts to move but I’m in neutral and can’t balance on my right leg (the weak leg under normal conditions). I’m stuck. I wave traffic around me as I try to figure out how I’m going to get under way without ending up on the ground. As luck would have it I noticed that when a semi would go past he would block the wind so I timed a passing rig to balance on the right leg and reached up to kick Marvin into gear with the left. Phoenix is a very large and spread out area, nearly 100 miles across, I got turned around and ended up on the wrong end of the right road but some 30 miles later I finally arrived at Mike_on_the_rock’s place. A Hyosung enthusiast with a yellow GT like mine.
I had planned an oil change and he had everything layed out and ready for me.
Done with the service and the rest of the bike checked out Marvin was ready to travel.
We retired to talking about Hyosung and they're manufacturing then noticed many small animals in the back yard, it was like their own little sanctuary.
The next morning it’s time to motor on and Mike gives me an escort for the first tank full. In Payson Arizona we refuel and part company.
I just learned that Mike has passed away from lung cancer this past Sunday the 6th of February 2011, RIP buddy.
Some of the New Mexico landscape.
I arrive in Bloomfield New Mexico after a good days ride, I’m out of the desert area now and back in my element. The next day I get up to 31° with a forecast high of 55° but I’m prepared for it and Marvin seems right at home in the cooler temps. Around mid morning I spot a deer running in the ditch on the other side of the road and slow to match his speed just waiting to see what he’s going to do next, something ahead catches my attention and looking up I see another deer just standing in my lane some 50 feet ahead. I brake and he darts off the side.
Next came the mountains and what would turn out to be the most fun riding day of the trip, tight curves and plenty of them. The end of the day would find me in Guymon Oklahoma.
The next morning under blue skies I make my way south to pick up I-40, the best way through Oklahoma City, on the east side of town I drop south on country back roads. Approaching nightfall I find a hotel near the Oklahoma/Arkansas border, it’s a bit pricey but I’m too tired to look for another.
The next morning was cool with heavy fog, I would start before dawn in rain gear and make my way across Arkansas to I-30, taking the interstate north to Little Rock I picked up I-40 for the run to Memphis. Just past Memphis I get back on country roads for the ride through Mississippi where I would smack a black bird on the right handlebar, no self respecting road trip would be complete without a bird strike.
Into Alabama I get to Decatur. Decatur was due to be my stop for the night but with only 300 miles to friends I decided to motor on after some light shopping, I picked up 30 bottles of hot sauce at a surplus store. 4 PM and the decision was made to press on to VFRgirl’s place in Woodstock Georgia. I would arrive just after 9PM having covered 1072 miles, that day was not good for my saddle sores. I took the next 2 days to rest up and catch up on laundry.
Time to leave with one more stop before home, Cairo Georgia. I visit with Orange Appeal who’s still unpacking after a recent move but settling in.
I leave the next morning and head for home arriving around noon with temps in the low 90’s.
Not a single drop of rain on the whole trip and for once I had no discussions with the law.
Marvin was flawless in his operations even under the harshest conditions.
Total spent on hotels = $670
Total spent on fuel = $335 for 128 gals at an average of 63.5 mpg
Maintenance, cell phone and drinks = $161
Total trip cost = $1166
32 days on the road, 22 riding days to cover 8127 miles
Marving, the little bike that could.