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Abbreviated Road Trip

ReadyToRollSept2019
Ready to Roll

After too many years without a long ride, I was anxious to get back out on the road. A friend invited me to a small gathering the weekend after Labor Day, about an hour north of Montreal; I’ve wanted to explore New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for some time, so this seemed the perfect opportunity.

I scheduled a 10 day vacation, starting a few days before the holiday weekend. The plan was to head south to visit friends & family, then reverse course and head for Canada.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Before heading out on the for a long ride, I usually only have the vaguest of plans, deciding most things as I go. This decide on the fly approach is one of the things I love about road trips, but it does invite the possibility for things to go off course.

In this case, a number of forces conspired to derail my plans. First, HVAC issues at home pushed my departure date from Friday to Saturday, then from Saturday to Sunday. At the same time the trip was being delayed, Hurricane Dorian’s track was being updated, looking like it was going to hook north to make landfall around Georgia or the Carolinas. (This was before it was clear it was going to stall over the Bahamas – help if you can.)

With the possibility of driving into a serious storm and my bank account taking a hit from the HVAC repairs, I dropped the first portion of my trip and decided to focus on the ride to the event. As a straight shot, it’s about an 8 hour drive to the event, but I’m allowing 2 days on either side for wandering and sight seeing.

Mostly packed, and with the Vision freshly washed, I’ll be heading out tomorrow. It should be a fairly leisurely ride thru some beautiful country.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Yellowstone Wrap-up 2016

Time: 10 days

Distance: 4922 miles

So much amazing riding, but missed opportunities to visit friends.  Normally my road trips are a mix of scenic riding and visiting folks that I do not see any other time; on this trip I was focused on the riding and missed some opportunities to visit people.

The Vision

On my first long road trip, I was worried about everything from where I would stay to running out of gas.  At the time, I had plenty of riding on the Kingpin, so that was one aspect that was not a concern.

Since the Vision is new and focused on touring, a big focus was how it would perform: it was amazing.  I’m really happy with the tweaks I have done and the one thing remaining is to do something about the grips: the Kingpin had comfort grips, but changing the Vision grips would mean losing the heating elements.  Still trying to find the right solution.

Destinations

Yellowstone was amazing, but my favorite part was riding US-14 thru Bighorn National Forest.

I originally planed to turn south leaving Yellowstone, but because I started late and took longer to cover the distance, I had to drop that part of the trip.  Even though I returned home a day early, that extra day would not be enough to include a southwest loop.

Looking back on the trip, there are several things I could have done differently, particularly visiting friends, but was just not where my head was at during the ride.  Even with the missed opportunities, this was an amazing trip.  I’ve been home for three days and would be ready to start another trip tomorrow, but have to go back normal life, at least for a little while.

Visuals

 

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Slideshow, Touring, Vacation

 

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Road to Home

Day 7: 447 miles (to Rapid City, SD)

Even though it was all interstate riding, this was still an enjoyable day.  I met a number of other bikers at rest stops and realized I am on the younger side of the motorcycle touring demographic.

Day 8: 518 miles (to Albert Lea, MN)

I’ve become somewhat frustrated with online hotel reservations (I’ve been using Priceline).  It seems that about 1 in 5 nights, there’s a problem: no room available or wrong type of room (smoking vs non-smoking).  I’ve heard similar stories from other people, especially people on road trips.

I’m not sure where the fault lies – with the hotels or the online service, probably some of both – but the uncertainty causes stress I do not need when I’m on vacation.  I suspect the services are better for traditional vacations, scheduled well in advanced and with fixed destination.

For the end of this trip, I used the Motel 6 app, which worked well.  In the future, I’ll probably continue to use that app or locate hotels with Google and call the front desk to schedule a room.

Day 9: 528 miles (to South Bend IN)

One unexpected bonus on my ride home was the Enterprise Rest Area.  I pulled over for a quick stop, expecting basic, hopefully clean, facilities, but what I found as basically a small and beautiful park.

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Day 10: 677 miles (to Abington, PA)

This was the longest ride of the entire trip – I normally try to keep riding days in the 400 to 600 mile range, but stopping 77 miles from home just didn’t make much sense.  At least the second half was all PA Turnpike; I driven this road so many times, it feels like home the first time I pull into a service plaza.

It was almost midnight when I arrived home.  I was exhausted it, but it was a great trip.

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Posted by on July 2, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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Yellowstone

Day 6: 442 miles

Rode to Yellowstone via US-14, thru Bighorn National Forest.  I picked the route because I had enjoyed riding thru the forest the day before.

Back thru Bighorn

All the highway signs recommend US-16, but I preferred US-14.  As I closed in on the western side of the forest, I mounted the GoPro Session on the outside of the Vision’s fairing:

Yellowstone

The road to Yellowstone is quite scenic including the area around Buffalo Bill Reservoir.

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I arrived at Yellowstone’s eastern entrance early in the afternoon.  My route thru the park would travel around to Old Faithful, then turn north, exiting to the north, into Montana.

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With stunning views around ever corner, it took a couple of hours for me to arrive at Old Faithful.  The site is a large complex with a lodge, general store and a huge parking lot.  Old Faithful was just erupting as I walked up – sorry no pictures, but here’s video (not mine):

After walked the path around the geysers, I continued on my ride thru the park.  The park speed limit is 45 MPH as the roads are generally small and winding, with many blind turns – you never know what will be around the next bend: bears, buffalo or an RV blocking the road.

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I recorded more video with the Session, but haven’t edited it yet – coming soon!

Rest

The park is huge so it was just getting dark as I reached the Montana exit.  For anyone planning a visit, I would recommend staying in (or very close) to the park so you can start your journey early in the day.

It was almost 11 PM when I arrived at my hotel and I was exhausted, but it was worth it.  This was most westerly point in this trip and I would be starting to head home in the morning.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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Bighorn National Forest

Day 5: 257 miles

Originally I had planned Buffalo, WY to be the jumping off point for my visit to Yellowstone, but when I discovered that would not work, I decided to explore Bighorn National Forest.  There are a number of signs along the highway (I-90) recommending US Route 16, so that where I started.

US Route 16

The spine of Bighorn is a mountain range running north & south.  In the southern region, Route 16 runs up and down the peaks with lots of twisty road and switchbacks with rock cliffs on one side and a drop off on the other side.

The views were spectacular, but the road also has some very scary parts.  I normally don’t pay that much attention to the yellow (recommended) speed limits signs, but in this area, they are to be taken very seriously.

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US Route 14

After surviving the US-16, and lunch in Worland, I decided to check out the unadvertised northern route, US-14 (I had to get back to Buffalo somehow).  As you head into Bighorn, from the west, the road winds along the bottom of a rocky canyon (this was my favorite part of the ride), then quickly rises up the mountains.  Unlike US-16, once you reach altitude, the road run thru the plateau for many miles.

The descent on the eastern side rivaled my morning ride for challenging switchbacks (and fear factor).  This routes seemed to be more popular with locals, which adds to the fear factor: since they drive these roads regularly (I assume), they run up & down the mountain at speed, leaving the rest of us nervous drivers to use pull outs to clear a path.  Don’t take this to mean the drivers are rude or obnoxious – people tend to be very polite –  there’s just 2 very distinct types of drivers on these roads.

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Next

Yellowstone! (finally)

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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Into Each Road Trip, Some Rain Must Fall

Day 2: 583 miles

Today was a good day of riding despite some heavy rain and stopping short of my original goal.

The Rain

I ran into the main storm as I passed Chicago; because of the size of the storm, I chose to ride thru rather than wait it out.  I had encountered some light rain near home and raising the windshield kept me dry, but this was a downpour.

At first, the windshield and fairing kept me mostly dry, although some rain did hit my forehead.  I suspect the lowering kit changed the bike’s geometry enough that rain deflected over the top was not going quite as high.  As the storm intensified, rain also crept around the edges of the fairing; ultimately, I ended up with wet knees, face & elbows.

The Vision did not live up to the “completely dry” claim some riders have made, but I was mostly dry.  At a rest stop, a few hours after clearing the storm, I met another rider who had come thru the same storm on a small sport / touring bike (with a headlight cowling); he was soaked to the bone (his words); if I head been on the Kingpin, I expect that I would have been in a similar state.

Conclusion: big win for the Vision.  It had no handling issue with the heavy rain & wet roads, while in heavy traffic.  Although I did get a little wet, by mid afternoon I was dry and comfortable; anyone who has been soaked while riding, knows that once the water gets thru all the layers, the only way to get comfortable is to change your clothes.

Spirit Lake

Tomorrow I’m heading to the Victory (and Indian) factory in Spirit Lake, IA.  It will be a 2-3 hour ride, so my original plan to sneak in with the employees will probably not work.  I suppose I’ll have to be up front and admit that I’m a Victory fanboy who must be given a factory tour.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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Vision: First Long Ride

Day 1: 527 miles

The trip began with a late start –  Tuesday instead of Monday and late morning instead of before rush hour – but it was a great day of riding regardless.

I covered about 520 miles in a little under 10 hours.  This matches previous road trips: my [effective] average speed tends to be around 50 – 55 MPH.  As the trip goes on, I’m hoping to improve by reducing the frequency of stops (now that I have the big fuel tank).

Vision Touring

In the weeks since I bought it, I’ve slowly been getting to know the Vision during my daily commute and riding around town, but today we bonded.  Power gushes from the incredible engine.  Rolling away the miles at 70-80 MPH it is even and civilized, but anytime you twist the throttle, it takes off with such ease, you have to check the speedometer to know how fast you are going (best to check the mirrors too).

The seat & set up is amazingly comfortable; you can adjust position to avoid wearing out and there are plenty of amenities.  This is the first time I’ve had a bike with a sound system (I made special playlist just for the trip) and didn’t realize it was connected to the throttle.  At least that is what I plan to tell the police if I get stopped: Radar Love” was on the radio.  What would you do?!?

Side Note

The Vision has been given couple nicknames (which seem even more appropriate after my first long ride): The Cadillac, from a number of different people, and My Precious, from my gaming group.

Suggestion for Victory

As much as I am loving the new bike, I do have a few suggestions for Victory:

  • The bubble mirrors are really help; the stock mirrors should be shaped with a bubble on the outer edge.  This is not a huge deal (and adding them is cheap), but it is one of those fine details I’ve come to expect on a Victory bike.
  • Improve the gas filling: the Vision has 2 saddle bag gas tanks – they sit low, on either side of the frame – which is great for the ride.  The engine feeds from both tanks with no issues; the gas gauge and fuel warning also across the tanks.  The tanks fill from a single spout, but as the gas goes in, it can take a bit to balance between the tanks.  The result is that you need to fill it slowly and occasionally stop for a second to allow fuel to move between the tanks.  This is not a huge problem – you get used to it quickly – but it still something that could be improved.

Tomorrow

My plan is to ride to Victory Spirit Lake factory (they also make the new Indian Motorcycles).  I’ve heard various stories about people showing up at the factory and getting tours or getting turned away (especially when the new models are coming out).  Not sure what will happen when I drop by, but there’s no way I could just drive by my baby’s birthplace without stopping.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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