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SOUTHBOUND AND DOWN– New Jersey to Key Largo, Part 1

November 2, 2010

 

 

November 30, 2009

Motorcycles and the road.  It’s an addiction.  I constantly find myself thinking about my next trip, driving past a long rider heading the other direction and wishing it was me, sitting at the computer creating “what if” ride tracks, wasting time reading ADV rider trip reports, etc. By this point (I had been riding non-stop for most of the year) I had been on the road long enough to become relatively independent.  My phone stopped ringing, my e-mails dropped to zero and I no longer had a pre-determined agenda for where to ride and a pre-defined place to stop.  It’s the going that was important, not the destination.  I did not last long in Missouri.   Although I enjoyed my parents company, I wanted to get going.  The weather was getting colder and it was already snowing in Omaha, and the Dakotas.  I was in a constant panic that the weather would close in and leave me stranded.  So for a few weeks in November, I stewed about what to do and where to go.  Most of  my spare time was spent in a public library in Kimberling City, MO planning and plotting.

About this time I started thinking about buying another motorcycle.  At the top of the list was a new Kawasaki Concours 14.  A good choice for long distance sport touring and seriously fast too.  I ultimately decided that it was too close to the Futura – to be an interesting choice. I decided that this time instead of a sport touring bike, to go with an Adventure style motorcycle.  Adventure bikes are the Land Rovers of the motorcycle world.  Made to go off-road and cover zillions of highway miles.  In the adventure motorcycle category the entire segment is virtually owned by BMW’s superlative GS1200 Adventure.  There are other bikes in this category – Ducati’s Multistrada, the Suzuki V-Strom and the Moto Guzzi Stelvio.  Like the Land Rover Defender, none of these motorcycles conjure the same immediate lust as the BMW. 

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I found my motorcycle on the apriliaforum.com  Aprilia produced an adventure motorcycle called the Caponord.  It was an extremely high quality adventure bike that was vastly underrated.  Mostly because of a few critical flaws.  The most significant problem being limp front fork springs, plastic fuel connectors and a handful of small easily fixed problems. 

The previous owner was an absolute fanatic about my new Caponord.  He kept extremely detailed records of mileage and maintenance.  When I picked up the bike we loaded a ton of spare parts, the stock low saddle, the stock windshield, brake lever, spare coils, etc.  I checked the air in the tires and it was perfect to the 1/2 pound, the chain was immaculate and recently lubricated, the oil was fresh, and the brake fluid was crystal clear.  In addition, the bike had virtually every aftermarket part available.  A Leo Vince exhaust, metal quick fuel disconnect upgrade, Hyperpro front and rear springs, a flash to pass module, green light trigger, Givi tall windscreen, Aprilia tall saddle, locking tank bag ring, Givi monokey top box with luggage rack and back rest, RAM mount, GS hand guards, and about a zillion other additions and modifications that don’t immediately come to mind. In short, it was a perfect motorcycle.

After making a few small changes and modifications I hit the road south from New Jersey to my destination – the southernmost part of the United States, Key West.

Obama Land in the distance.

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Sitting in a massive traffic jam on the beltway.  They sure make interesting bridge structures.

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Freaking FREEZING!

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I’m not so sure at this point if this is a good idea.  It’s FREEZING!  Thank God for Gerbings heated clothing!  Over the course of the last year I had several pre-conceived ideas go by the wayside.  “real motorcyclists don’t listen to music” and “real motorcyclists don’t need fancy schmancy electric clothing”  Wrong, and wrong!  I absolutely LOVE my Gerbings jacket and won’t travel without it.  Trust me, if you ride in any sort of cold or wet weather – get one.  You won’t regret it. 

I also love listening to music to pass the time.  I bought some $20.00 JVC earphones and plugged them into my iPhone for a few hours a day.  I just recently bought a Sena SMH-10 Bluetooth system and it’s awesome.  More about that later.

Nice weather for a 15 hour motorcycle ride!

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Pedro Says “You are one crazy Gringo to be riding in this cold, Amigo”.  I think Pedro was right.  Of course I stopped to buy post cards and use the bathroom.  It was still FREEZING.  I’m amazed that my hands were doing fine.  I was wearing SPIDI Penta gloves and they are not insulated at all.

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I was pushing myself pretty hard at this point.  I was into Georgia now.  It was cold and dark and I was getting sloppy on the road.  I decided to stop playing “Just one more exit” and find somewhere for the night.  I saw many signs for $29.00 motels.  At the next exit I saw The Country Hearth Inn on the right side of the road and decided it looked pretty good.  I put down the kickstand, took off my helmet and walked into the office.  There was a dishwater blonde woman smoking an unfiltered Camel watching a tiny color TV with aluminum foil on the rabbit ears.  “I thought everything was digital these days?”  She just gave me a blank look and took my $29.99. 

I’ve tried to keep an open mind about hotels but this one was an absolute dump.  The door had been repaired several times after apparently being kicked in.  The rest you can see for yourself in the picture gallery below.  Very scary.  Hell, I was cold and the bed looked to be free of critters so it was good enough for one night.

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The next morning.  Can you say Frosty Freeze?  It’s still 30 degrees and a hard frost had settled on the motorcycle.  From what I recall, this is just north of Savannah Georgia.

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FINALLY!  Now we are getting somewhere.  North Florida.  Oranges and Grapefruit by the dozen!  Getting warmer.  It’s in the 40’s now.

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South of Miami and life is good.  I’ve removed my Gerbings jacket, the quilted inner liner of my Fieldsheer Adventure jacket and opened all the vents.  NOTHING is better than riding from freezing temps to middle and upper 70’s in two days!  Fantastic!  Heading into the Keys now.

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This (the picture below)  is a day later and I’m in full squid mode.  I don’t recommend this, but I just had to and I kept my speeds under 35mph for this short ride in Key Largo.  The weather is fantastic and in the 80’s now. 

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The first day on the Ocean in Key Largo.  Amazing!

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Heading to Key West!

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NEXT – Key West and Captain Tony!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank Gorshin permalink
    November 11, 2010 12:20 pm

    Sout of the Border brings a tear to my eye…breathtaking on the level of Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City….

  2. November 20, 2010 4:30 pm

    Jealous! Lookks like a great time on your aprilla

  3. tom dubeau permalink
    September 18, 2011 10:48 am

    trying to put a ride together to the southern most point in k.w in either april or may..
    have a 2006 harley fat boy that i will make a few alterations to for the ride…
    trying to avoid 95 as must as possible…. can’t wait…

    • September 18, 2011 5:28 pm

      Where are you riding from? Staying off 95 can be a challenge. If you can try a trip from east to west across Florida. The diversity of the scenery is amazing.

Trackbacks

  1. Ride Report - New Jersey to Key West! - Ducati.ms - The Ultimate Ducati Forum
  2. Singlesided Swingarm Story Archive: « Singlesided Swingarm

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