Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cambridge Ontario to Stayner Ontario and back

The sky was mixed this morning. Got the bike uncovered and headed out about 9:30 AM. After a stop to see Heather at work and another at Canadian Tire to get a small duffel back for the luggage rack, we headed north. About five miles out, we encountered some significant rain, so we turned tail and returned to the Fifties Diner in Cambridge for breakfast. On the plus side, rain protection on the Wing is pretty good.

After a fine breakfast, the skies had cleared and we headed north again. Guelph, Erin, Caledon and up 10 to Orangeville. From there we ran up the Hockley Valley to Airport Road and on to Stayner where we turned the bike (with only 400 km's on the clock) over to John for a change of engine oil and filter and the final drive oil. Also installed a J&M wind noise filter on the passenger headset line.

While John was doing this, we took the van for a wash and picked up the trailer complete with its new super duper safety chains. I think these could lift an M1 tank:-))

Back at J&R, we loaded the bike and puzzled over tie-downs. Six straps and, after the obligatory retightening, the bike stayed upright.

We returned to Cambridge and had supper with Heather before going to bed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

We rolled out of Sudbury just before 9:00 in the mini-van with the empty trailer in tow. Arrived just after noon at J&R Cycle in Stayner. There, out front, was a sleek silver GoldWing. And an ST1100 and a familiar face. Guns, a VROC friend from Toronto surprised us and presented us with a christening gift.

I paid for the bike and then test loaded it in the trailer to be sure it fit. It did with about 4" clearance in the rear. Unloaded it and gave John (the J of J&R) the Kuryakin Transformer boards to put on. We hauled the trailer down to Scott at the RV place to get the safety chains upgraded. Went into downtown metropolitan Stayner to register the bike with the MTO and move the VROC plate over to it. All went without incident.

We returned to J&R and got suited up. Checked tire pressures. Spent two minutes checking bike controls. Spent 30 minutes studying stereo, CB, intercom and display controls. Gave up on that and we headed out.

Stayner to Owen Sound to Cambridge. Only 260 Km's, but the temperature was dropping at the end. Arrived in Cambridge about sundown. Here's a picture earlier in the day.

First impressions? Smooth, powerful, nimble. It was a little too nimble at first when I had the rear suspension set pretty hard at 20. It got skittish in a strong gusting crosswind so, at one traffic light, I reached down and pressed the adjust button moving it down to 15. Then it hit the groove, and the handling became amazing. BTW, the first thing that drags is the outside of my boot:-))

Some time with the manual at Timmies helped me figure out the electronic controls. Damn, this thing even warns you if the bags and trunk are not latched.

Anyway, we will put some more miles on tomorrow and get it back for a change of break-in fluids. We'll be back here tomorrow night with the bike in the trailer and we will head west Friday morning.

Thanks to John, Rhonda and staff at J&R. It was a good first day.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Trip Preparation Continues

Today was a busy one. But first a little dental update.

When I was about twenty, I had my two top wisdom teeth pulled to make room for the bottom ones to come in. And they did. For years, my dentist has been telling me they should go and I have been studiously ignoring him. Last checkup, he said they had cavities and weren't worth fixing so he sent me to an oral surgeon. Had that appointment last week and decided to wait until the end of the bike season in October since I don't have many days at home until then and they weren't bothering me. Famous last words. Yesterday I started having throbbing pain I associate with an abscess and the right wisdom tooth seemed to be the culprit. Got in to see the dentist today and he gave me antibiotics to get me through the first trip which starts on Wednesday. He also told me he thought October was too late, so when I got home I called the surgeon and got a date on April 27th.

On the helmet front, I went into a local vendor and checked out the CL-Max. This is the only HJC helmet made without ear pockets for speakers. I looked at it and figured I could cut them in, however, I called J&M in Tucson for advice. Charlie got my call. Nice guy, Charlie, and he's been to Sudbury before. He also said to use any HJC helmet EXCEPT the CL-Max. Time for a rethink. Who wants a heavy modular helmet anyway. Sherm told me he was getting an HJC CL-33, so I checked it out. Sort of geeky after the manly half helmet, but it will look right with the GoldWing. And it has ear pockets. Wandered around town looking for CL-33's and came up empty until I tried the local Honda dealer. They not only had them, but they had them in silver. And they were the cheapest Canadian price I have seen. So we now have the helmets and I will install the headsets tomorrow.

Can't install Streets & Trips on the Lifebook over a network. That sucks, since the little computer doesn't have a CD drive. Tried copying all the files over and running install. S&T said to get lost. Looked around for a USB or PCMCIA CD Drive. They all want to read and burn DVD's these days. Much more than I need but probably what I will end up with tomorrow.

I have never had an MP3 player before, but I can plug one into the Wing and have it play through the stereo. Bought a little Rio unit and set the computers up to feed it. Selected about 200 good road songs, moved them to the Lifebook and loaded them into the Rio. So something is working right. And the Rio uses the same USB cord as my camera so I only need to carry one.

Tomorrow I get the CD drive, install S&T, install the headsets in the helmets, change the hooks on the trailer safety chains and we pack our gear.

Wednesday we will head south with the trailer to get the bike. Weatherman cancelled the Wednesday rain. For now. I don't know how these next days will play out but I hope to get several hundred miles on the bike and get the crankcase and final drive oils changed before we load the bike in the trailer and depart for Iowa Friday or Saturday. We'll also figure out the packing in the new spaces. We'll unload at a certain Iowayan's place and two-wheel it south from there.

So, all in all, we are on track and almost on schedule.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Good Progress

This morning the mailman brought a box from Calgary. It was the headsets and the Transformer floorboards I had ordered on Monday and wasn't expecting until next Monday.

I spoke to Rhonda this afternoon and she is in possession of a 2005 silver GL1800A with our name on it. Since this is Easter weekend, it probably won't get assembled until Tuesday, but we now know where it is.

Took the VIN number and called the insurance company for the bad news. Guess what? It will cost the same to insure a brand new GL1800 with full coverage as it would to insure a 2000 Nomad. Don't know what's up with that, but I am not going to complain:-))

The only down side is that I got confirmation that all the HJC CL-Max helmets to arrive in Canada this year do not have the recessed shell to allow for helmet speakers. This is disappointing because that was one of the features they were supposed to have and was a factor in choosing them. Looks like we will need to find new helmets very quickly.

Taken as a whole, though, the day was a good one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Good news

Got some good news today. Phil at Chrometoys in Calgary was able to come up with one more J&M Universal helmet headset so the headsets, cords, wind noise filter and the Kuryakyn Transformer passenger boards are being shipped as I type this. Paid a little more for expedited delivery so we should have these parts by the beginning of next week at the latest. Thanks Chrometoys.

Sun Life has also confirmed that I am, in fact, retired, and is transferring the cash from my savings plans to my bank account so I will be able to write a cheque to cover the bike purchase. It will be free and clear as all bikes should be.

On the negative side, the bike is still OTS (out there somewhere) and there was no word yet on whether the new helmets will be able to handle the speakers. Hope to get resolution on both of these soon.

As soon as the bike is in, I will be able to get the VIN and contact my insurance company. Since they are in Toronto, I may have to hustle to get the required liability slip. I also remembered today that I need to change the safety chains on my enclosed trailer since the current ones don't meet Ontario regulations.

Oh well, some progress has been made. The plans are afoot.

The First Trip Itinerary

I probably should lay out the itinerary for the first trip. The weekend of April 8th - 10th, a group of southwestern VROCers are gathering in Tempe Arizona in conjunction with Arizona Bike Week. We plan to ride the mountains around the area by day and seek out friendly watering holes in the vicinity of Tempe at night.

The following weekend, the Texas VROC crew are hosting another Hill Country Ride in Fredericksburg, Texas. As with the Az run, this involves spending the days riding the spectacular Hill Country enjoying the scenery and the evenings socializing.

Sandy and I attended both these events last year and enjoyed them so we're going back. I hope to get away around April 1st and trailer the bike to the home of our friends Auggie and Sue in Long Grove, Iowa. From there, we will ride to Holbrook Arizona by the 6th and then ride down the Mogollon Rim with Jack and Barb 4E on the 7th. Leaving Tempe, we'll ride across Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas on our way to the Hill Country. Then we'll ride back to Iowa and will haul the bike home.

These are the plans. How reality will turn out is anybody's guess:-))

Monday, March 21, 2005

The beginning

I have been riding motorcycles since 1971, and Sandy has been my co-rider since 1975. We were on Honda GoldWings for 22 years and then spent the last seven years riding Kawasaki Vulcan Nomads. In 1998, we discovered the Vulcan Riders & Owners Club (VROC). No dues, no leaders, no policies and (almost) no rules. Although VROC is an Internet based club running a private news server, the members decide to gather fairly regularly in many different places. Organization level is low and cameraderie is high. For the last few years, we have been attending as many VROC events as possible.

We spent 17 weeks on the road in 2004 and are planning an even more intense schedule this season. Last year, we sent Emails to friends and family on a daily basis. To simplify things and have a permanent record, I decided that we would try blogging this year.

The 2000 Nomad we ran for the last five seasons rolled over 82,000 miles last fall. Although the bike performed virtually flawlessly over its life, we decided we needed a little more power to haul a camper trailer (hotel costs were killing us) and a little more luxury. As a result, we decided to purchase a 2005 Honda GL1800 GoldWing and a Lees-ure Lite trailer.

The trailer has been ordered and paid for. It is physically in Omemee, Ontario although some accessories are still on order. We don't need it until late May. The bike, OTOH, is needed for a departure about April 1st and it is still languishing somewhere in a Honda warehouse. Rhonda, of J&R Cycle in Stayner, went looking for it Friday and tells me it should be in about the middle of this week. If it is and the weather holds, I should be able to get the 1,000 km's on it and the break-in service done before I have to leave. If I don't, things will get more interesting.

I was talking to Phil at ChromeToys in Calgary today to order some J&M accessories, primarily the headsets and filters. I also ordered a set of Kuryakyn Transformer passenger floorboards so Sandy could have her own cruising pegs. Phil is short one headset, but will tell me tomorrow if he can scrounge one for me in time. The alarming thing I found out from him was that the HJC modular CL-Max helmets we ordered from Rhonda have had a problem. Apparently the last two shipments he received did not have the recessed areas for the helmet speakers despite the fact this is supposed to be one of the features. Called Rhonda and she is looking into it.

So far we have no bike, no helmets, no headsets and we are supposed to be leaving in eleven days. But what is life without a few challenges:-))