Archive for November 2010
One thing I wanted to do before the weather got too cold this year, was to replicate a trip I had made many times before, back in the 1970′s and 1980, on my Triumph Bonneville T100. That trip would be to ride from San Diego, Ca to Houston, TX and return on a standard motorcycle, not equipped for touring. I had done the trip before on the following motorcycles: 1972 Yamaha R5C (350cc), 1973 Kawasaki 500 H1, 1975 Kawasaki KZ400, 1978 Honda CX 500, 1979 Honda CB 650 and a 1978 Yamaha XS650. None had windshields, and none had some of the modern conveniences available today, like GPS, heated hand grips, cruise control, sound systems, etc…
My goal was to leave for Houston on Tuesday arriving by Thursday morning, spend a day with family there, then ride Friday morning 300 miles west to my son’s home, spend the night and then leave Saturday for the trip back to San Diego, hoping to arrive before nightfall on Sunday.
Here’s what the Triumph looked like before I left on Tuesday:
And here is the mileage: Marc at Rocket Motorcycles here in San Diego had the 6000 mile service performed on the Saturday before I left. I really like the service they provide, and they let me bring in my Amsoil oil and filter that I like to use for the service. Marc noted my tire would not last for the trip, but unfortunately they had none in stock. I went to my regular tire guy on Sunday, Mike at Full Throttle Power Sports in Santee and he installed a taller tire (140 vice a 130). This alone dropped my RPM’s down 600 at 75 MPH.
I loaded up my Fieldsheer soft saddlebags, which I have owned and used for 2 years with some chain lube (used 6 times) and wrenches required to adjust the chain (never had to), some underwear,extra pair of jeans, some socks and 2 tee shirts, and 2 long sleeve shirts, water, toothbrush, and a camera. I also packed some bottled water and my Teknic rain suit. I wore my trusty Cortech jacket that was about 4 years old and a pair of water proof Frank Thomas boots that I have had for about 5 years.
The trip started out really well, my basic need was to see how far I could really go on a tank of fuel and hope there were plenty of gas stations within that range. I soon found that I could easily go 135-140 miles per tank and still have a gallon or so left. That worked out to an average of 46.36 MPG for the whole trip. I found my MPG would be up to 50 when I keep the speeds below 75 mph and would drop to around 42 when I cruised at 80 (the speed limit in Texas).
The Triumph performed flawlessly and never skipped a beat. The seat was very hard and by the end of the 1st day, my butt was pretty darn sore. On the way back, while I was at my son’s home, I spoke with a fellow RiderCoach, Wally, over the phone and he said he often wore the padded bicycle shorts on one of his bikes that had a harsh seat. That gave me an idea, why not wear all my underwear? That did the trick for the rest of the trip. The other issue was the cold mornings. My leather gloves (Triumph Portlands) are great, but as I headed east, the weather did get colder and colder, especially in the mornings. In Houston, my sister bought me a pair of ski gloves and some thermal underwear. The ski gloves were a bit better than the leather gloves, but it still was not as good as I had wished. While at my son’s home, my daughter in law, Angie, said she had some “Hot Hands”, little packets that lasted for 10 hours that she put in my grandson’s gloves on cold days. She gave me three pairs and when I left Saturday morning, I was in heaven! I actually thought I had heated hand grips! The trip progressed really well after that.
I had spent my 1st night on the east side of El Paso in an Americana Motel, which was nice. I covered my Triumph with my $15 Bike Bandit cover (which I did every night on the trip). The motel was nice and clean and had a good shower. The next night, I was between San Antonio and Houston and had been riding in the rain for about 5 hours (never got wet, thanks to my Teknic rain suit and waterproof boots), and stopped at a motel called “Grumpy’s”. What a dive, but I was tired. The place stunk and the shower sucked. I got up pretty early the next morning and rode on in to Houston. I spent the night at my sister’s home in Humble and had a most enjoyable visit with them, and also went down the road a ways to see and old friend (Larry) whom I have not seen since I came back from my 1st Vietnam tour in 1972. The next night I spent at my son’s home in May, TX. Had a very good rest, and my grandson Ian made some home made chocolate chip cookies for me to stash in my saddlebags. When I left May, TX, my goal was going to be Las Cruces, NM. I made it just as it was getting dark and this time, I wasn’t going to skimp on my lodging, so I splurged (after all, it was my last night on the road) and got a jacuzzi suite at Holiday Inn. I left very relaxed the next morning with all my underwear on, and 2 hand warmer pouches in each glove as it was really cold, I think 38 degrees.
By the time I got to Tucson, I started shedding some layers as it was getting warm! I made it home about an hour before dark and this is what my Triumph looked like after 3129 miles:
The Cortech jacket worked well, but the Velcro neck band would not stay in place for some reason when I was going 70 mph or faster. After I left Casa Grande, a bee got inside and stung me on the chest. Made for a few moments of excitement. From now on I will look for jackets that have a snap for the neck band and not Velcro.
Fieldsheer Saddlebags: These are two years old and have been very well used. I did pick up about 7.5 pounds on each side of some precious cargo while in Houston and even though I have carried much more weight before (tools) in them, the seams started to rip. Although I made it back without loosing anything, it did cause me to have concern enough to have to check at every stop to make sure it wasn’t ripping worse. Here is what it looked like after I got back:
My Frank Thomas waterproof boots did their job in the rain and still looked nice enough when I went out to eat with my sister and brother in law.
So many people made positive comments on my Triumph at gas stations, rest stops, and even the 19 mile traffic jam I was in, between Las Cruces and El Paso on the 1st day.
90% of Texas drivers have a cell phone glued to the side of their heads. It is only illegal to talk on a cell phone in a school zone.
Truck drivers sure seem to be texting all the time while driving on the freeways.
Texas roads are the best! Very smooth and good pavement.
New Mexico roads are pretty good too!
Arizona and California roads suck by comparison. Too many ruts, uneven lanes, and too many different textures of pavement.
Rest stops: Texas has the nicest, but also had too many “picnic” areas, which are useless with no rest rooms. Arizona’s were okay, did not recall seeing any in New Mexico and, I guess because of state funding, most of the rest stops in California are closed.
Chevron gasoline stations: If you just want to slide your card in the pump and get your gas and go, forget about it if there is a food mart or store in the station, the screen will tell you you have to go see the cashier. I guess it is their way of getting you inside so you can buy their junk food or souvenirs or what have you. I caught on after a while and just started going to other stations, where I could gas up and go without having to visit inside with all the tempting chocolate treats!
In summary, I was able to do again, what I had done 30 years ago, without all the creature comforts, and survive. Crazy? I guess so, but I am glad I did it. I gave thanks to God for watching over me as I traveled, and I also thanked my wife Tina, for her support even though she was not too keen on the idea at all. Everyone tells me I am too old to be doing things like this, but you know, once you get an idea in your head, you need to act on it, so you can never have any regrets. I’ll remember this trip better than all the others I have had, and share my story to whoever would want to listen.
BTW, I spent a good hour or so today (Monday) cleaning up the Triumph, and except for the miles, you would never guess what adventure it had just been through in the past 5 days.