Showing posts sorted by relevance for query arizona. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query arizona. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Riding in the Desert

Flying in to Phoenix, the roads wrap around the
mountains like ribbons.  Riding them you'd
seldom be upright.
I'm still having culture shock over going to Arizona.  They have "buckle up it's the law" signs everywhere but most motorcyclists ride around without a helmet on.  They do things different in Arizona.

I was gutted to learn that Eaglerider was closed on the one day I wasn't at the conference I was going for.  I ended up in the desert in a cage.  I still had a great time hiking in the heat, but Arizona really is built for bikes, especially in the spring when it's hot but not too hot.

I took the route I was going to take anyway if I had the bike.  The only part I didn't enjoy was 87 back down to Phoenix where everyone was thumping along at twenty over the limit in massive pickups towing boats.


The ride out of Phoenix was smooth and the road quickly went down to one lane and got interesting.  Soon enough I was working my way up into the Mystic Mountains.  If you're riding from Phoenix a nice place to stop is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum on the right of US-60E about an hour out of Phoenix.  It's a lovely place to stretch your legs and smell the desert blooming.

On towards Globe it gets switchbacky and a dream ride for a bike.  The roads are smooth and never dull.  Turning toward Lake Roosevelt in Globe, the road takes on a less frantic vibe and has you taking long curves at speed.  I stopped at the Tonto National Monument.  It's a sweaty hike up the hill, but another interesting stop for a leg stretch.


Take 88 back to Phoenix, 87 is fast
and crowded.
I then pushed on up to the intersection at 188/87 at the top of the lake which I'd classify as a mistake on a bike ride.  There is a much more interesting road, the Apache Trail/US88 that follows the Salt River out of the Mystic Mountains and down to Apache Junction on the outskirts of Phoenix.  Had I been on two wheels I would have taken that one without a second thought.

Arizona begs to be ridden on a bike.  When I was out in the desert hiking I got a real sense of how wide open it feels.  Being able to feel that all the time on two wheels would be wonderful.

There will be a next time now that I've seen how easy it is to get down there.  From Southern Ontario I flew out of the tiny and quick Kitchener Airport into Chicago and on to Phoenix.  I was travelling for about five hours, but with the time change I left at 6:30am and I was on the ground and ready to go by 10:30am Phoenix time.  With that in mind, I'm now thinking about what a week in the desert on two wheels would look like.

Voila, the Desert Ride.  ~1765kms/1100 miles.  I think I could comfortably do it in a week.
The route: Phoenix up the road I missed, on to Sedona and some vortexes (!).  Then the Grand Canyon and 'Vegas before orbiting back to Phoenix through Yuma.  If I left on a Sunday morning and came back on a Sunday night it would be seven days of riding with the pickup and return of the bike on consecutive Sunday mornings.  252kms of riding per day minimum, more if I get lost, should be pretty manageable.

It was about $800 to fly down return, $1118 to rent a Harley Fat Bob for a week (7 day discount!) from EagleRider.  A couple of hundred a day for food & lodging... $3320 for a week riding in the desert.  That's not crazy for a chance to ride when I can't at home and shake off the winter blues, and an adventure bike would probably cost even less.

Now that I know how close and easy Phoenix is to get to, I think I'll be back.

google-site-verification: google687e0f8862d63de1.html

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Riding In the Desert On an Iron Horse with No Name... for reals this time

I've been through the desert on a lousy rental car with no name,
now I'll do it properly on two wheels!
I landed a free trip to Arizona a couple of years ago for an educational conference.  I'd never been to the desert before, it was a great trip but the cunning plan to rent a bike fell apart when I discovered they don't rent over the Easter weekend when I was flying in.

Ever since driving a lousy Nissan rental car through the Superstition Mountains, I've wanted to go back and do it properly on two wheels.  My time has come!

We're doing a family trip to Arizona over the Christmas break.  Opportunity never knocks twice, except when it does, like this time.


Eaglerider's selections look all of a kind,
a kind that doesn't really grab me.
Eaglerider has a huge selection of bikes, but AZ Ride has exceptional customer ratings.  I'll end up looking into both and seeing which grabs me.

AZ has the Indian Scout, which tickles a fancy (riding in the desert with an Indian Scout, c'mon!), along with the ZG1400 Concours, which I'm curious about for obvious reasons.  

Eaglerider has a lot of Harleys and a smattering of other very heavy offerings from other manufacturers.  In other locations they offer Triumphs but not in Phoenix.  Scraping floor boards doesn't make me think of spirited riding, it makes me think of a poorly designed motorcycle.  Lugging a massive hunk of iron that can't corner around the desert doesn't strike me as a good time.

Looking at what's on offer, and taking into account the customer ratings on Google, I think I'll be giving AZride a go.  They're both up the right end of Phoenix to get to easily, so location isn't a factor.  I'll be aiming at a Concours if my son wants to come with or the Scout if I'm solo, then it's off into the Superstition Mountains for a day... or is it?



309kms/192 miles, with that many bends should make for a good day of riding


The road to Roosevelt is something else.  I skipped it in the Nissan rental car, but on two wheels it might be reason enough to live in Phoenix.  It's about 80kms of serious switchbacks through breathtaking high desert, except it's a dirt road!  All my day dreaming about riding switchbacks of smooth Arizona tarmac aren't happening unless I go the long way around and stay on paved roads.

Once up on the plateau I'll make a point of stopping at the Tonto National Monument, which is a magical place.  The ride back down the other side offers a couple of nice stops, but also some tedium.  If that road to Roosevelt is as magical as it looks, I might just come back that way.






How do you say no to a road like that?  AZride has a BMW 800GS Adventure, but a ride like this would be the perfect time to try the new Triumph Tiger Explorer - alas, no one rents it.  I've been eyeing the 800XCx as well as the new Explorer, but no one rents 'em.  There is a Triumph dealer in Scottsdale.  Think I could convince them to let me have a 300km test ride along that crazy road?

***
 

In a more perfect world I'd rent bikes I'm curious about owning.  A short list would include:

The new Triumph Bonneville with the Scrambler package (favourite classic) - It'd also look awesome in the desert!

Kawasaki Z1000 (favourite naked bike), though Kawi just came out with a Z800, which I'd also like to have a go on - but I'd be trapped on pavement.



The Kawasaki H2 (because it's bonkers) - but not so good on a dirt road in the high desert...

The Ariel Ace (because it's sooo pretty) - but I suspect it lacks off road chops.








I'm in a conundrum now.  I really want to ride out of Apache Junction on the Apache Trail, but the bikes I want to ride are all pavement specialists while the adventure bikes I'd want to rent aren't available to ride.

Meanwhile Triumph cruelly taunts me with their lovely new machines.












Damn it!

FOLLOW UP

Instead of turning left before Globe,
head on towards Show Low.  The
roads be magic there!
All is not lost.  If we're on pavement for the ride there is a nice triangle that'll make for a fine high-desert ride.  The road north out of Globe into the higher mountains looks like a corker too.  I don't think I'll be suffering too much if I can't ride the Apache Trail.  Either of those would be a blast on a big Connie.

Now to find a day when the weather is cooperating and see if I can make this happen.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Doing a Dangerous Thing Well (or not)

The rolling hills mean short sight lines and lightened
suspension. Patchy pavement means a rough ride.
Lots of corners means you're depending on the sides
of your tires. The Bush Highway is a demanding ride. 
After our horse ride in the Arizona desert we took the rental SUV down the Bush Highway and into Apache Junction for dinner.  Over one of the many hills we came upon a dozen emergency vehicles with lights blazing.  The road was closed down to one lane.

As we crept past we cleared the ambulance in the middle of the road and a rider came into view.  He was sitting in the middle of the pavement my son and I had ridden down a couple of days before, his GSX-R a pile of broken plastic and bent metal on the gravel shoulder.  He'd obviously been thrown clear of it.

He was sitting up because he was wearing a full helmet, armoured leather jacket, pants and boots.  ATGATT meant this was an expensive crash, but not an overly injurious one, he looked winded and freaked out, but paramedics won't have you sitting up unless they've ruled out a lot of more serious injuries.

Helmets are optional in Arizona.  If this guy had come off at the speed he was travelling (he ended up a good sixty feet away from the bike) without a helmet he wouldn't have been sitting up.  He also would've left a lot of skin on the pavement if he wasn't wearing armoured gear.  As it was he looked cut free.

There might be a sport bike argument to be made here.  Cruiser riders may ride around in t-shirts and no helmet in Arizona, but then they don't try and tackle the bumpy, undulating Bush Highway at high speed either.  If you're going to ride a sports bike aggressively, full gear seems like an obvious thing to do.  Exploring the limits of said sports bike on a bumpy, poorly maintained desert road with a patina of sand on it might not be such a bright idea either; that's what track days are for.

I didn't start riding until my forties.  I could have started in my twenties when I had fewer responsibilities and much more free time, but a bad crash at work put me off it again.  Every time I see a rider down my heart jumps into my throat.  I want them to be ok, but I also don't want it to be the result of a stupid decision they made.  Every time that happens someone like me is shaken off the idea of riding, which means they are missing out on a magical experience.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Riding an Iron Horse in The High Desert

Since missing the opportunity to ride in the desert last time I was in Arizona, I'm aiming for a day out on two wheels over this Christmas holiday.  Since the adventure bike I want isn't available, I'm looking at a pavement orientated trip.  That doesn't mean I'm suffering for choice in Arizona though.


Route 60 from Globe to Show Low has fantastic reviews and offers a winding way through the mountains.  The views are so spectacular that I won't tire of seeing them twice.  You see different things riding the other way anyway.  The section of sweeping switchbacks on the way down to the bridge over Salt River look fantastic...

...though I hope I can keep the bike in my lane unlike Sparky in the streetview above.


Route 60 over Salt River looks special.



Phoenix to Superior on the edge of the mountains is about an hour, then it gets even better!
From Superior, AZ into the mountains it's beautiful riding... easily a hundred miles of sweeping curves and glorious high desert scenery.  It's only about an hour from AZRide on lightly trafficked, arrow straight roads to get to the good bits, and even there you're in the desert surrounded by massive saguaro cactuses soaking up the heat.


Once into the mountains, the roads are interesting and the views astounding.
A nice thing about not doing a loop means that we'll know when enough is enough and turn around.  I was knocking myself out in BC to make sure the bike was back on time.  It won't be an issue on this out and back excursion.

I'm hoping to get the new Concours from AZride.com sometime between Dec 24th and the 30th for a foray into the high desert, hopefully on a weekday when the roads are quiet.  It'll handle my son and I with ease while making mince meat of those twisty mountain roads.


The latest generation of my twenty year old Concours.  It looks like a rocket ship and is nuclear powered.  Hope it's available!


Tuesday, 17 December 2019

The Great Escape

This time of year always feels like Groundhog Day - go to  work, go to sleep, wake up, do it again.  It becomes so repetitive that it leaks into your mind, filling your thoughts so there is little room for anything else.  This year it's amplified by the negativity surrounding my work.  All that combined with no riding for dark months on end and it's hard not to get jammed.

If I time it right I can sneak out of Ontario on an above zero, dry road day.  You can still find double digital daily highs in Cincinatti and south.  A plugged in electric kit bonzai ride to Cinci and I'm out of the snowbelt.  From there it's a less ragged ride south to New Orleans.  From Cinci I'd angle over to Memphis and follow the Mississipi down to the Big Easy...





After reading books like Todd Blubaugh's Too Far Gone and watching Austin Vince Mondo Enduro the planet, I've often wondered what it would be like to get lost on the road.  Once out of the snowbelt, I'd be in no rush to be somewhere.  Without that very Western time fixation, I wouldn't have to get wound up over deadlines.

If I'm not fixated on a destination the daily goals might not be that linear.  With local knowledge I'd hope to find things off the beaten path as I meander...





Off the top of my head, I'd leave New Orleans along the Gulf, visit Austin and then ride the Twisted Sisters in Texas Hill Country.  Austin's also the home of the only North American MotoGP race, so if I timed my return with the race, I could be passing back through Austin on the way home in early April and catch Marc and the rest of the aliens doing their thing.  The goal on the way south would be to get familiar with Austin's weirdness for the return stop.

After wandering Texas I'd take a run up to the Very Large Array in New Mexico and do my best Jodi Foster immitation.  New Mexico and Arizona have a pile of strange sites to see, so the wandering would get intense.  Norman Reedus did a Ride episode in New Mexico that does a good job of showing what's on hand out there.

Even that far south the mountains can also catch you out with northern temperatures as we found out a couple of years ago in the Superstition Mountains just outside of Phoenix in early January, so not rushing and timing your rides is important when at altitude.  There are pile of old western towns and ruins in the US South West, along with some astonishing pieces of engineering.  Meandering from photo opportunity to photo opportunity would be a nice way to ease into this slow motion ride.

Tuscon is home of the Aeroplane Boneyard where thousands of retired air force planes sit in the desert.   A wander around there at sunset would be a glorious thing.  I've done the Phoenix area a couple of times and travelled from the north end of Arizona from Las Vegas, but haven't travelled as far south as Tuscon.  From there I'd head across to Yuma, another famous western US location, before diving south into the Baja Penninsula.  A desert riding tour would be a pretty cool way of seeing Baja.

Mexico is a whole other world.  Most riding-the-Americas types blitz through it looking for a fast route south,but Mexico (with a final lunge into Belize) is where I'd wrap up this great escape from the never ending Canadian winter.  Some crystal caves, Mesoamerican pyramids and Belize beaches during the deep freeze and then working my way back up to Austin for early April...


Seeing the Ozarks and the Tail of the Dragon during the weeks after the race would be a nice way to wind up this great escape, getting back to the frozen north just as it's not frozen anymore.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A Good Week for Self Publishing

If you read the blog, then you've already gone on our ride around the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.  Motorcycle Mojo picked up the story to run in this month's (August) edition.

I then got an email from the editor of noplacelikeout.com saying that I'd been included in their recent list of top 25 motorcycle bloggers.  It's always nice to get a compliment, and I'm in the company of some pretty major bloggers on that list (you'll find many of them in the blog roll on the right side of this page).


http://noplacelikeout.com/top-25-motorcycle-bloggers/
Top 25
Five or so years ago I stopped playing video games after wracking up 1000 hours on Left For Dead 2 (I was really good!), and then reading Chris Hardwick's excerpt of The Nerdist's Way on Wired.  Gaming never got in the way of my career like it did with Hardwick (the breaks I got involved manual labour in 100° warehouses), but that thousand hours spent shooting zombies had me asking myself a difficult question, "what the fuck are you doing with your time?"

Hardwick Nerdist Wisdom

I went cold turkey on video games. I'll occasionally play with my son, but a single game and not often.  What I did instead was kick off a hobby that I'd always wanted to do (motorcycling) and reinvigorate my dream of getting published as a writer.  A few less electron zombies have been killed by me, but the things I've done instead feel a lot more satisfying because they are, you know, actual things.

One of these times I'll find an angle and get the support to take one of the dream trips I fantasize about over the winter months...
http://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/04/a-year-of-living-dangerously.html
http://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/05/dash-to-ushuaia.html
http://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/05/wanderlust-travel-motorcycle-production.html

...or get a chance to ride one of those dream bikes I read about....
http://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/08/pretty-things.html
http://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2015/05/money-to-burn-wish-list.html

I do pretty well with what I make, but anything like those opportunities only empowers the writing, giving me more to explore and write about.  Where ever possible I'll keep pouring gasoline on the fire to make that happen.  It's easy when you love what you're doing, and what you're doing produces real world results.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Motorcycle Diaries: Win Your 2020 Dream Ride

Motorcycle Diaries is a website that shares rides from people from around the world.  I've posted a number of Ontario specific rides on there.  They currently have a 2020 Dream Ride contest going on until April 30th, so here's my pitch.

My Moto-Bio:

I didn't come to motorcycling until later in life. When I was very young, maybe six years old?  I was at my grandparent's house in Sheringham, Norfolk in England one spring Saturday morning in 1975 when a group of vintage vehicles passed by on what was probably a rally.  I was the little blond kid standing on the railings by the side of the road waving at them as they thundered by, and many of them made a point of smiling and waving back, including a guy on a Triumph Speed Twin.  It was one of those flashbulb moments you never forget.  Nothing looked cooler than that bike and rider thrumming through the receding sea mist in the cool morning air.


Years later after immigrating to Canada, I was finally old enough to start considering driving and I immediately gravitated towards motorcycles, but my mother was strangely insistent that I not do that.   Even though we weren't well off my parents dug deep to help get me a car instead.  I got deep into cars owning a wide variety of vehicles, learning how to repair them and even pursuing performance driving courses and cart racing while living in Japan, but that bike itch was always there.

After my mum's suicide I discovered that my great aunt, with whom she shared a name, was an avid rider who was killed in a motorcycle accident a few years before I was born.  I also discovered that my mum's dad, who I was very close with growing up in Norfolk, was also an avid motorcyclist up until the death of his sister, which must have rocked the family since no one had even mentioned her to me.  I've never understood how an accident like that (an army truck accidentally pulled out into her, killing her instantly) warranted this kind of silence, but my mum's side of the family has always been... interesting.

Despite being a major part of the previous generation's lives, motorcycling had evidently became a taboo subject that left me ignorant to a deleted great aunt who I now feel a great affinity for and a love of my granddad's, who I thought I knew well.

I've been riding now since 2014 and I'm on my seventh bike.  I've taken multiple advanced off road training courses and done some long, international trips, including a trip to the last MotoGP race at Indianapolis that had us ripping down the back straight of the historic Brick Yard on our own bikes - mine being an $800 field find I'd restored in my garage.

I've made a point of expanding my familiarity with different bikes by renting them and riding in places ranging from Pacific tsunami zones to the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, usually with my son on the back.  We've had some great adventures.  I've also made a point of becoming mechanically proficient with motorcycles, having just finished my latest restoration.

That's my bio.  Here's the dream ride:


In discovering my family history around motorcycling I also connected my grandfather's rather incredible Second World War tour of duty to riding where, among other things, he served in the RAF's motorbike stunt team.

Bill served as an MP in the RAF and travelled with the British Expeditionary Force to France in 1939 in order to repel the oncoming Nazi war machine.  When it all went wrong, Bill ended up trapped in occupied France for a number of weeks after Dunkirk before eventually finding his way back to the UK just in time to catch planes that fell out of the sky during the Battle of Britain.  He then went on to fight in Africa for several years, but it's his time in France during the 'Phoney War' and once the disastrous Battle of France began with the allied retreat that is the basis for my dream ride.

After some exhaustive research I discovered Bill's path through France from the autumn of 1939 to the spring of 1940.  My dream ride would be to follow in my granddad's footsteps on a period motorcycle through Northern France in the springtime, just as Bill did.




From letters to my grandmother and military records, I discovered that Bill was attached to RAF Squadron 73 who operated across Normandy and up to near the Belgian border over the winter of the Phoney War before being chased south under fire around Paris and through Ruaudin and Saint Nazaire before he finally found a boat back to Plymouth out of Brest, nearly two months after Dunkirk.  In the process he failed to get to the Lancastria with the rest of his squadron, the majority of whom died on it as it was sunk by dive bombers in Saint-Nazaire.

Being able to follow Bill's chaotic retreat with his squadron through France while finding evidence of the great conflict and seeing things he saw between moments of terror and heartache, and doing it on an RAF Norton H16 or a period Triumph Speed Twin would be a heart wrenching and mind blowing experience that would connect me back to a forgotten piece of family history on a number of levels.

What a dream ride that would be.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Zero Sum Game: motorcycle restoration as a hobby

The Fireblade project motorcycle has moved on to its next owner.  It had been sitting in a garage for the better part of a decade before I got my hands on it; the result of a bitter divorce.  The fuel system was shot and had dumped gas into the engine.  It had just over twenty-five thousand kilometres on it, but hadn't been used in a long time.

Over the winter of 2019/20 I rebuilt the carburetors, resealed and sorted the fuel tank and got a new petcock, all of which conspired to put the otherwise eager Honda back on the road again.  When I checked the valves they were exactly in the middle of spec and some of the cleanest internal parts I've ever seen (thanks to the gasoline in the engine?).

Once the fuel system was sorted and the bike had a few sympathetic oil changes and other maintenance addressed (like new tires and a K&N air filter), it was licensed and put on the road where it performed flawlessly for a year.  When I sold it the odometer read just over twenty-seven thousand kilometres, so two thousand of them were mine.

The 'Blade was a lovely device.  If I didn't live in such a tedious place and ride-on track days were a possibility (they aren't anywhere in Ontario - the rare track-days that do exist are for rich people who trailer in race prepped bikes), I'd have hung on to this remarkable thing and let it do what it does best: explore the more extreme limits of motorcycling dynamics.

Trying to do that on the road makes no sense.  Ontario's roads are in atrocious shape thanks to our brutal seasons and lack of sane governance.  If you can find a piece that isn't falling to pieces, it's arrow straight because Southwestern Ontario is also geologically tedious.  We had a Californian trip a few years ago and drove up to Palomar Observatory outside of San Diego in the mountains.  Those are twelve miles of the most technically demanding roads I've ever seen.  That I had to drive them in a rented Toyota RAV4 is a crying shame.  If I lived anywhere near roads like that, owning the Fireblade would make some kind of sense, but I don't.

In our tedious, conservative province, this Honda Fireblade makes as much sense as owning a lion.  In three seconds it can take you from a standstill to jail time.  I only just discovered what happens to it at 8000RPM the week before I sold it.  Up until then I was astonished at how quickly it accelerated, but if you keep it cracked the madness becomes otherworldly.  The Honda Fireblade's athletic abilities make it a perilously expensive proposition in our police state and there is nowhere you can let it off leash to do what it was designed for (without buying a truck and trailer and stripping it back to being a race bike).

I was hoping to put racing stripes on it and really do it up, but then you have trouble selling it around
here where individualism is frowned upon.  Am I sad to see it go?  I honestly wrestled with the idea of waving off the buyer and keeping it, but instead decided to aim my limited space  toward another bike that would not only be more generally useful in the bland vastness of southwestern Ontario, but would also make me a better dad; the Fireblade is an inherently selfish thing.

If Practical Sportsbikes thinks it's the number one 90s
sportsbike, then it is! They helped me sort out the fuel system!
I bought the sidelined 'Blade for $1000 and then paid an extra hundred to get it delivered to me.  The new tires ($400) and a set of replacement carbs ($250) that I mainly needed to replace hard parts, along with the carb kit and other rubber replacement parts as well as multiple oil changes and filters, and some replacement LED lights for the broken stock ones, pushed my cost for the bike up to about $2000.

It cost me $500 for insurance for the year - mainly because I don't think my company (who doesn't usually do bikes but do mine because I've been with them for over 30 years) didn't realize what it was.  I sold the bike for $2500 as is, though it's currently fully operational and road legal, which means I got to ride the best bike of its generation and something I wished I'd owned in university when I was younger, fitter and more flexible for no cost.

That (of course) doesn't consider my time, but this is a hobby and if I can make it a zero sum hobby then I'm much less likely to feel guilty about it.  I'm going to miss the Fireblade, it was a lovely thing that spoke to me.  Having a 23 year old Japanese super-model whispering in your ear as you ride along was thrilling and I'm going to miss it.  Should I eventually find myself living somewhere where a sportsbike makes some kind of sense and where I can exercise it as intended on a track, I'll be quick to rejoin the tribe.





***********************************

In the meantime I contacted a fellow in Toronto who has a latest-generation Kawasaki Concours 14 that he couldn't sell in the fall (I was in-line but the 'Blade failed to sell so I didn't go for it).  He still has the Concours and we're lining up a cash sale for next weekend.  My first three bikes were Kawasakis and this would be my second Concours.  I've owned a first gen C-10 and my son and I rode a first gen C-14 through the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, but this one's a gen-2 C-14 Concours, which makes it one of the only bikes out there that can comfortably carry my now-adult-sized son and I two up.

I've always been drawn to Kawasaki engineering and I like their style.  This one is very low mileage (only about 30k) and needs some TLC (the owner is older and dropped it while stationary which is why he's moving it on).  Once sorted this Connie will have a lot of life left in it.

What makes it particularly useful to me is that it's a capable sport-touring machine that's built like a brick shit house, can cover the endless miles we face in Canada and can still entertain in the corners.  It also happens to be powered by the same motor that drives the ZX-14R hyperbike.  It may sound juvenile but I grew up in the 1980s and they had me at Testarossa strakes!

One of the side benefits of Concours ownership is that they have one of the most active and engaging clubs around: the mighty COG (Concours Owners Group).  I got stickered and t-shirted up with them as a full member when I got my first Connie, but have since been exploring other bikes.  I'm looking forward to re-engaging with them when I'm a Concours owner again.


Kawasaki Heavy Industries has weight in Japan!


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Daydreaming: Winter Road Trip to New Orleans & Key West

It's an 11 hour drive down to Knoxville, Tennessee from here.  If I took the bike that far south in a van to dodge the snowline, I could then do this!



With two weeks off over Christmas it'd break down like this:

Dec 24th: (van) Elora to Knoxville in the van 1147kms
Dec 25th: Knoxville to Talledega 271 miles the interesting way
Dec 26th: Talledega to New Orleans 420 miles
Dec 27th: New Orleans!
Dec 28th: New Orleans!
Dec 29th: New Orleans to Panama City 304 miles
Dec 30th: Panama City to Tampa  339 miles
Dec 31st: Tampa to Miami   252 miles
Jan 1st:   Miami!
Jan 2nd:  Miami to Key West to Miami   155 miles there and back
Jan 3rd:   Miami to Jacksonville via Daytona Beach 346 miles
Jan 5th:   Jacksonville to Greenville 388 miles
Jan 6th:  Greenville to Knoxville 212 miles via Deals Gap
Jan 6th:  (van) Knoxville to Dayton 304 miles 1/2 day
Jan 7th:  (van) Dayton to Elora 410 miles home mid-afternoon
Jan 8th:   chill out day before going back to work

Van mileage:  2300kms / 1440 miles
Bile mileage: 4500kms / 2812 miles

I could probably arrange with our Knoxville hotel to park the van somewhere safe and then head south on two wheels.  The Tiger could totally handle the job one or two up, but there would be more specialized tools I'd select if given a choice from the new 2017 bikes:

One Up 2017 Minimalist Bike Choice




Kawasaki's new Z900 looks like a lovely, light weight device to explore some corners with.  It's an upright bike that would be easy to sit on for long periods of time.  It's a minimal machine but that would be ideal for riding into the sub tropical climates down there.





It's a brand new machine but the Z650 it shares parts with already has some luggage bits that might work.  Keeping with the minimalist vibe, I'd try and do the whole 3000 mile / two week odyssey using only those two expandable panniers.  If I have to expand half way through I could always throw a tie down duffel bag on the back seat.



One Up 2017 not-remotely minimalist Bike Choice

The opposite of the tiny, lithe, naked Z900 is the absurd, over the top and abundantly present Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress.  It comes with its own panniers so that's not a worry.  It's also the kind of bike that would swallow many high mileage days in a row without batting an eyelash.  And it's so pretty.


Two Up Touring Preference

A large, comfortable bike that Max and I could ride the southern triangle on would be the goal here.  My default is always a Kawasaki Concours 14.  We rented a last gen model last year in Arizona and it was a rocket ship that was also big and comfortable for both of us.  The fact that it comes in candy imperial blue this year only encourages me to put it back at the top of the list again.




A more touring focused choice would be the Goldwing F6B which is a more stripped down version of the full on bells and whistles Goldwing.  It's a big, comfortable bike that is surprisingly nimble for what it is and comes with built in panniers.  It'd cover the miles with ease while keeping us both in excellent shape for when we arrived at each stop.