October 18, 2014 / Madison, CT
I’ve been bitching all summer that I haven’t ridden enough. Well, I got my share this weekend for sure! I had to attend the yearly Ski School orientation at Stowe Mountain. Held in mid-October, on Sunday – why on Sunday? What a pain in the ass! Anyway, enough whining about one day a year administrative stuff, lets get to talking about the ride.
How about great fall weather and foliage? Nope. The forecast called for rain, overcast skies and snow in Vermont. Fantastic. I kept looking at the Audi and thinking this is going to absolutely suck. More than 500 miles in horrible weather….. But, anyone who has been reading this blog over the years knows that I usually just go. I toss a leg over the bike and make the best of it.
Also, I’m testing gear. I’m still loving my Held Cardona Gore-Tex Pro jacket. It’s supposed to hold up to the worst weather and I was a little excited to test it in the “wild”. Don’t get excited about a long and technical evaluation of the jacket – Held does not make that model anymore and I’m pretty sure I have the last one sold in the USA. The Cardona is however, the finest motorcycle jacket I’ve ever owned. The fit and finish is impeccable. Whomever designs the jackets at Held is an artist. I’ve never had a garment that is so perfect for riding. Some jackets billow up, or fill with air, or act like an airdam. Some immediately leak water, break zippers, have cold spots, etc, etc. Not with the Cardona. You put it on, zip it up, and that’s it. It’s perfect. The Cardona is really a great compromise between Adventure Touring and Sport Touring jackets.
Well, perfect within reason. The Cardona is hot in the summer and not setup for really cold weather. However, in-between those two extremes it’s excellent. For really nasty cold weather I go into the closet and get out my old Fieldsheer Adventure jacket. Here’s a photo of Clement Salvadori wearing the Adventure jacket. As you can see the most important part of this jacket is the zip on high neck collar. Clement’s review is here. I’ve had this jacket for about five years and bought it for $99.00 from www.motorcyclecloseouts.com. To me it’s the absolute GOLD STANDARD cold weather riding jacket. And of course, you can’t buy that one anymore either…. I sense a theme here.
Anyway, enough about jackets. On with the trip. I wandered around the house on Saturday killing time. That’s unusual as normally I’m itchin to get out riding. The occasional burst of sunlight through the clouds was enough to get me packed and ready. Somewhere around noon, I hit the starter button and started north. Madison to Stowe is a little over 250 miles. Today I’m concentrating on making time. There ain’t much to look at. Grey skies, looming dark clouds and wet roads were my companions. Pretty soon I crossed into Massachusetts, I-91 and i-89 North are good friends of mine. They’ve taken me to Stratton for years and Stowe for over a decade. As far as riding goes these highways are a mixture of good and bad. Both are usually lightly traveled, and you can usually run around 80 MPH without too many worries. Occasionally they are pretty with foliage or cloudless blue skies. Then again, the police are expert at hiding along these empty stretches of road and it’s mostly flat, straight Interstate slab. I imagine it’s Deer country too – that’s always a worry.
Crossing the Massachusetts border, the skies were considerably darker, it looked like the rain – ahead somewhere, how far? Should pull off to put on my rain pants? Not yet. And then there was gas – I’d been running on reserve for a long time and beginning to worry about running out. As I recall, the reserve is something like 40 miles and right now I’m 38 miles into the reserve……….. I hope the new ECU flash (Thanks Catfish!) gave me better MPG.
Finally, I arrived at Exit 26 off of I-91 North. Gas and fuel. I rolled to a stop, side stand down and climbed off. I had to release the tank bag and swing it aside to get to the fuel door. I put just over five and a half gallons into the tank. Whoooo, that was running pretty close to completely empty. There was a rundown KFC/Taco Bell next to the station. I wandered inside and ordered up some greasy goodness. I was finishing my meal when a FJR 1400 rolled into the parking lot. The rider dismounted and clearly this was another long distance rider. Beaten up gear, bug splattered Aerotsitch Roadcrafter suit and a weary sort of look. My kind of guy! I regretted that I had to get moving and just nodded in his direction as I pulled on my gear and headed out into the cold.
I arrived in Stowe uneventfully. The only exception was a I pulled into Kevin and Gabriella’s driveway, I almost lost the front end in the slimy mud. That would have been a fitting end to a long day! No thank you! As you can see from the photos it was “a bit chilly” up in Northern Vermont.
I got up Sunday morning and rode over to Stowe. It was cold but clear. There were huge snowbanks already in the parking lot. Maaaaaaaaaaaaybe riding up wasn’t such a good idea after all. I went inside the building and hung up my gear. Orientation goes for most of the day and of course, when I walked out of the last session at 3:00 is was snowing lightly. Dammmm.
Looking at the sky I thought – I better get riding south RIGHT NOW.
Heading out of Stowe, I dialed up the Gerbings heated jacket and cinched my gloves tight to the jacket sleeve. This was going to be a difficult ride. Cold, black boiling clouds and light snowflakes not my idea of a fun ride. I made it to Waterbury and carefully rode down the exit ramp onto I-89 South. Shit, it was absolutely BLACK to the south. I-89 climbs a bunch as you pass through Barre, VT. Over the years, I’ve seen some brutal weather there. I was not excited about riding into something that might put me into the hospital or worse – the morgue. The weather got colder and darker, heavier snowflakes now. Slush was accumulating on the road now. My immediate thoughts were to get to an exit ramp and maybe ride on a secondary road. The thinking was that while the road conditions might be equally bad, I would have the option to manage my speed down to 35 MPH – and maybe, if I went down that was an acceptable speed.
Then again, dealing with the off-ramp would be an issue. Less traveled, perhaps iced, and if there was a car behind me bad things could happen. So, no exiting I decided. Just keep it upright, no sudden throttle or steering input. Heck, I’m heading south, at some point this has to pass. Just for a laugh, I put my boot down to the pavement to see what the road was like. Slick, nice. The part that really freaked me out was the amount of ice/slush on my boot – couple of inches. Whoooooooooo boy. Not good.
PHOTO: Not me, no way. This guy is crazy.
Finally, after a sold three hours fueled by terror, and the same level of grim determination I imagine possessed by a B-17 waist gunner on his second mission over Germany, the weather improved. It stopped snowing and the slush was gone from the highway. I pulled off the interstate for fuel. If it were possible to dissolve into a puddle, I’d have done it after I stepped off the Caponord. I’ve been in some nasty weather but nothing like that. Rolling back into Connecticut, I was greeted by bright sunshine and temps in the 60’s. Like it never happened……
I was very glad to put the bike away that night and relax on the deck with a bourbon and a fine cigar.
Longtime readers of this Blog might be surprised to see a for-sale advertisement here. Especially one for a Harley Davidson. Hey – I’ve never said I don’t have a ton of respect for their riders and dealerships. And, a full dress Harley is a thing of beauty. My good friend Garrett B is selling this absolutely flawless Road King. If you visit Cycle Trader or other online motorcycle selling platforms you will see that Garrett’s price is squarely in line with the market. What you won’t know from those bikes is the actual condition. This bike is, in my opinion flawless and significantly better than new. Biased review? Hell yeah! But I’ve put eyes on the beauty and think the price is right.
Upgrades include a PowerCommander, Chassis Stabilizer, upgraded saddle, a Garmin Zumo GPS, a windscreen leather pouch with a HD Classic logo and custom designed handlebar grips. Internal Saddle Bag luggage is included as well as the HD Tour Pack.
The Road King Classic has 58,000 miles and has been kept in a special temperature controlled environment when not in use hooked up to a battery tender. Regular oil and all fluid changes. There was also a new cruise control mechanism installed. Want to buy it? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The bike is located in the NY/CT area.
|Harley-Davidson’s profilation of this bike|
|Get in the saddle of a Road King® and instantly you declare there is no horizon too distant. The bold profile hits you first. FL forks. Full fenders. Big chrome headlight and nacelle. Everything here is fit for a royal journey. Like an air-adjustable suspension and refined chassis. Detachable windshield.|
|Model:||Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King|
|Category:||Custom / cruiser|
|Price as new (MSRP):||US$ 21,000. Prices depend on country, taxes, accessories, etc.|
|Engine and transmission|
|Displacement:||1442.15 ccm (88.00 cubic inches)|
|Engine type:||V2, four-stroke|
|Torque:||116.61 Nm (11.9 kgf-m or 86.0 ft.lbs) @ 3500 RPM|
|Bore x stroke:||95.3 x 101.6 mm (3.8 x 4.0 inches)|
|Valves per cylinder:||2|
|Fuel system:||Carburettor. 40mm constant velocity carburetor with enrichener and accelerator pump|
|Clutch:||Multi-plate clutch with diaphragm spring in oil bath|
|Fuel consumption:||5.34 litres/100 km (18.7 km/l or 44.05 mpg)|
|Greenhouse gases:||123.9 CO2 g/km. (CO2 – Carbon dioxide emission)|
|Exhaust system:||Chrome, cross-over duals|
|Chassis, suspension, brakes and wheels|
|Rake (fork angle):||26.0°|
|Trail:||157 mm (6.2 inches)|
|Front brakes:||Double disc|
|Rear brakes:||Single disc|
|Physical measures and capacities|
|Dry weight:||327.9 kg (723.0 pounds)|
|Weight incl. oil, gas, etc:||342.0 kg (754.0 pounds)|
|Seat height:||704 mm (27.7 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting.|
|Alternate seat height:||744 mm (29.3 inches) If adjustable, highest setting.|
|Overall length:||2,380 mm (93.7 inches)|
|Ground clearance:||130 mm (5.1 inches)|
|Wheelbase:||1,613 mm (63.5 inches)|
|Fuel capacity:||18.92 litres (5.00 gallons)|
|Color options:||Vivid black, black cherry, black pearl, fire red pearl, deep cobalt; glacier white pearl, two-tone rich sunglo blue and chopper blue, two-tone chopper blue and brilliant silver, two-tone black cherry and black pearl, two-tone fire red pearl and vivid blac|
Aprilia generated big news at EICMA. First, the Tuono V4 1000 evolves into the Tuono V4 1100 to increase “drivability” and quality of throttle response, making the engine more flexible and pleasant in everyday use on the road.
The extra cubes come from enlarging cylinder bore from the original 78mm to 81. In this number, there is an extra meaning: This is the maximum bore allowed for four-cylinder 1000cc MotoGP engines, and next year Aprilia will be racing in that series with a bike powered by a dedicated version of the 65-degree V-4 sporting an 81mm bore to take full advantage of the rules.
A byproduct of the R&D work that the Romano Albesiano-led technical team has been doing to develop the MotoGP engine, the updated V-4 makes a claimed 175 peak horsepower and 88.5 pound-feet of torque, numbers that should result in the strongest naked bike in production. (READ THE REST HERE)
We knew it was coming. There were rumors and patents coming out of Kawasaki over the last three years. Simply amazing! Supercharged, 300 HP, a carbon fiber dream machine! By the way, those “wings” aren’t for downforce. Rather, they direct air into the cooling and intake systems. I can’t wait to demo this monster. MSRP is rumored to be around $30 grand for the track version.
I just crossed over 100,000 readers! THANK YOU!
Tour of the Spectro Oil factory
Review of 2014 BMW GS Adventure
Review of 2014 Aprilia Caponord
Long term review – Held Cardona Jacket
Late May, 2009 – Lillian, Alabama
I got an early start that morning. I slept fantastically but woke up at 6:00 am and had a hankering to get moving. I wanted to visit the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola but did not want to hang around until they opened several hours later. In retrospect, I wish I had. But, these were early days in my long distance motorcycle wanderings and I was always in a hurry to get somewhere.
Gear packed, I rolled out of the KOA and rolled onto 10 East towards Tallahassee. Somewhere near the interstate I found a Waffle house, staggered inside and ordered a huge breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, hash browns, bacon and toast, and enough Iced Tea to make the 1775 British empire jealous. I needed good eating before hitting the road.
As you can see from the map below, this route was serious brain fart as the map shows a more interesting chance to ride along the coast through Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton, Panama City, Port St. Joe, etc.
Oh well, live and learn (I did). My journal on this ride is less than a paragraph. Basically it says “I rode and rode some more, and watched the Preakness race at a bar in a non descript Gainesville mall”
I rolled into Gainesville late that afternoon. It had been a completely boring ride – all slab interstate and crazed truck drivers. I checked into a La Quinta or Best Western and crashed. I know, I know, this is not the best travel writing or record keeping. Stick with me, It gets better as I got more experience.
UP NEXT – Gainesville, FL to Pompano Beach, FL and the Florida Keys!
Turns out that my favorite Bourbon (Rowan’s Creek) is made by Willett. As I’ve been trying different cigars lately, I decided to start branching out with Bourbon’s as well. Johnny Drum is pretty good stuff. Priced at $29.00 it’s an excellent value. One interesting thing is that it is exceptional on ice (assuming that’s possible).
Double Gold Medal, 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Three Stars/Recommended, F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal
90.5 Rating, Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible