Thursday, January 15, 2015

Salton Sea Day Ride

Decided to take a long day ride yesterday as the weather forecast was great. After looking over the area maps, decided to go around the West shore of the Salton Sea. We've traversed this same route numerous different times, but never get tired of the scenery. 
                   (left "click" on photos to enlarge)

Decided to run the Gold Wing for this ride as it is by far the most comfortable highway cruiser I I wanted to run some more miles with the recent single carb conversion. The bike performed flawlessly and hit an average of 40.2 MPG. Speeds varied from 45 mph to 80 mph on the freeway stretches.
I ran the bike with the windscreen and soft saddle bags....and the always present tank bag. 
 Encountered some pretty heavy cross winds on I-8 to El Centro CA. The big Gold Wing is quite stable in windy conditions due to its' weight. Much more stable than my R75/5 in cross winds.

The Salton Sea is a large body of water covering approximately 350 square miles and sits 234 feet below sea level.

Stopped at Desert Shores for a quick break and bite to eat, packed some snacks as did not want to take any time at eateries. Very nice day with mid 70's temp. and the wind died off earlier in the morning.

Crossed over to Mecca CA. and the East side of the Sea. Then up to the "Box Canyon Road" which cuts through a 25 mile section of twisty roads. Always have to be alert on this road as when storms hit, the roadway becomes a river. Quite often there is debris and sand on the roadway so diligence is needed. Today was pretty good with minimal rubble on the road. 

 Not much traffic, but a few bicyclists were sharing the road.

I always enjoy riding this section of road. Have seen sand and rocks on the road more often than not.

The most boring section was the I-10 from Joshua Tree National Park to Blythe CA...about 70 odd miles of Interstate. Stopped for a minute at the old location of Camp Young which was Gen. George Patton's Desert Training area during WW2.

 Some newer tanks sitting about, a small museum and gas station / convenience store.
The town of  "Desert Center", a few miles from Camp Young, used to have a store, gas station and some activity. Now it appears pretty much abandoned with no store, food or gas available. Only a few hard core inhabitants remaining, so it appears from the freeway.

Turned South at Blythe CA. after a fuel stop and traveled the route down to I-8 and home. Arrived home just at dusk. About 350 miles in 6 hours.
Was a nice day ride and the single carb conversion worked well. Still have the "lag" at take off, at low RPM's, right when the clutch is dis-engaged. I simply counteract this trait by giving the bike a tiny bit more throttle which counteracts the issue. Not really a problem now that I'm used to it. Once moving, the throttle response is better than the stock OEM four carb set up. Acceleration is awesome on the highway.

I'm still a hard core BMW fan, but the Gold Wing is a joy to ride on the highway, and handles well on the two lane twisty roads too.  The upgraded suspension contributes to the better handling, but sacrifices some comfort due to the harshness of the stiffer "Progressive" suspension.  My Wife does not like riding pillion due to the "stiffness" of the ride. I find it quite effortless to ride 350 - 500 mile stretches with minimal fatigue. The bike is much heavier than the R75/5 and braking is much better with the triple disc brakes. All in all a great road mile eating cruiser!
I guess as I age I appreciate the comfort afforded by the big Honda, but nothing still compares to road riding on an old BMW /5..... Completely different "animals".

Friday, January 9, 2015

World Travelers Visit

Last Summer I had met a Finnish couple at our campground in Wall South Dakota in July or so. They are on a multi year "around the world" adventure on a sidecar and motorcycle. The sidecar seats their dogs which are their constant companions. When we met is SD, they had three dogs, sadly one of the pooch's passed away a few weeks ago.  A link to their Blog:
We had a short visit in South Dakota and I gave them my Yuma AZ. information in case they wanted to stop by for a visit when they got to the Southern US. A couple of months ago they contacted me and were planning on passing through our area so we invited them to spend a few days.

The sidecar rig is a special construction rig which "Wolfi" had built in Germany.  The sidecar door is a fold out ramp for the dogs easy entrance. Wolfi recently braved some of the rough back roads of Death Valley and had a catastrophic failure of one of the BMW OEM front suspension components. Luckily he was at low speed on a dirt road when the steering failed. He had to abandon the machine and return the following day to retrieve it. The story is covered in their Blog.

                       (Left "click" on images to enlarge)

 The below photo was taken in South Dakota last Summer, showing the dog ramp.

 The stacked aluminum container system straps down to a rear rack. Tons of storage between the two bikes. He also has a light duty electric winch mounted to the front of the sidecar frame.
 "Skippy" is riding a Suzuki on their adventure.

We decided to show our visitors the "Dunes" area West of Yuma, just inside California. 

 The little dogs had an absolute blast and ran and ran and much energy!
 It was a beautiful day with a little breeze which was slightly moving the sand around.
The couple now have headed over to Phoenix to continue preparation for their adventure into Mexico, Central America and South America. Wolfi estimates that they will spend at least a year traveling through South America. He suspects they'll need 6 weeks to be fully prepared to cross the Mexican border and continue Southward.
 The dogs are right at home in the sidecar.
 We thoroughly enjoyed the 3 day visit and hope they will come back and spend a few more days before they depart to the South. We don't have many Winter visitors.

On to Phoenix! Happy Trails!

Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.