long story about last years ride
We went to a friends house at 0400 hrs to get our SADDLE SORE 1000 paperwork witnessed and signed. After that we went to top off our fuel tanks. I didnít know about getting the starting gas receipt. I had topped of my tank 3 days ago before parking the bike. At 4 in the morning, it was already 75 degrees out.
The SADDLE SORE 1000 was an afterthought for me. Bruce saw this trip as a chance to do 1000 miles in a day. I was going to a birthday party. I figured since I was going the same distance as Bruce, I might as well get my SADDLE SORE 1000 as well.
The whole thing started in 2004 when one of my internet riding buddies (Bob) was hit by a deer while on his bike. The deer hit him from the side sending him into the rock cliff face. His bike followed him, pancaking him and causing massive damage. He was not expected to live. There was damage to his heart, internal organs, a great many broken bones, and he lost one leg below the knee.
Not only did Bob live, but he conquored. Yes there is still damage, but he started riding his bicycle several miles a day to rebuild heart muscle. Then, several months ago, he blew the dust off of his Triumph ST and started riding it again.
I was impressed with this guy. He had come back from almost certain death. Then I heard that his 60íth birthday was coming up. The accident would have felled most 20 year olds I know, and he was 59! I had to meet Bob in person.
I also had to show up on my bike. It just wouldnít do to show up in the minivan. What a shame too, the minivan has air conditioning. This would be a huge advantage as we would be riding on the 30íth of July. The party was 31 July, and then we would return home on the first of August. Did I mention that I live in central Oklahoma and Bob lives in Phoenix? This was going to be hot weather riding at itís toasty best. The thermometer had been in the 100+ range for weeks and showed no sign of changing.
My friend Bruce who was riding with me is a mileage junky. He rides to Dallas for lunches. He rides to Georgia for dinner. He is also one of the best riders I know. When he was going to a ride in the Carolinas and his bike was not available, I tossed him the keys to my R1100S and told him to have fun. Bruce is far better rider than me.
Bruce now has an ST and was ready for a ride as soon as I asked if he wanted to go. When I told him this party was for Bob, he was even more excited about going. His Triple would eat the miles just as easily as my K1200S, possibly better since he had put a seat pad, and a few other ďcomfortĒ touches on his bike.
My bike is fresh from the 600 mile service. The only modifications were the sheep skin seat pad and the tank bag. Those hardly count as modifications. The bike did not even have cruise control. BMW could have avoided a great deal of cursing if they had offered a cruise control on this bike. Now that you know the background, here is the story.
Our route was pretty simple. We ride north on I-35 to Oklahoma City and turn left. We stay on I-40 till we got to Flagstaff, then turned left again. We would have saved some miles by getting off of I-40 at Holbrook and going through Payson. If we did that, we would not make 1000 miles so we had to go via Flagstaff.
The trip up I-35 was fast. The first 17 miles goes by in nothing flat when dealing with a ride like this. We got to OKC and headed west. We were in Sayre Oklahoma before the sun was completely up.
The fuel range on the K bike was pretty much an unknown for us. The literature said it had a 5 gallon tank. I had done a few rides showing it would get 40 MPG on the freeway. This gave me a theoretical fuel range of 200 miles between stops. That gave me an effective range of 120-150 miles before stopping. You only push a bike once before you learn not to try pushing your fuel to last for one more stop.
I used to have a V-65 Sabre with a 6.7 gallon tank and I missed the range that bike had. With a full tank, I was a member of OPEC. That bike also had a fuel gauge that read full till Ĺ the tank was gone. After that it would drop pretty fast.
In comparison the K bike fuel gauge shows a steady decrease in the fuel level. There is no tendency to save all the bad news for one time. Having said that, the fuel gauge only reflects 4 gallons of fuel. The low fuel warning comes on at 120 miles and indicates you have 40 or 50 miles of fuel remaining. That only gives 160 miles per tank. 40 MPG means there are only 4 gallons showing on the gauge. If there is a fifth gallon in reserve, I never found it. I was not willing to risk being stranded on the road in 100 degree heat. A larger tank or a gauge that monitors the whole fuel tank would be welcome.
We alternated taking lead with each gas stop. Bruce started out in front. In the dark he was going pretty quick. These were roads we both travel often and 85-90 seemed to be his comfortable pace. At times he would go faster but the 80+ speed was very comfortable. I spent a lot of time talking to the inside of my helmet, ďBruce, lets go, faster darnit!Ē Bruce was right and I was wrong. His pace was just what we needed not to wear ourselves out.
We switched lead at Sayre. I lead us into Texas and the roads instantly improved. People who have been through the area know what I am talking about. Oklahoma highways are in worse condition than the highways in most of our neighboring states.
Without Bruce in the lead I did not have a pace vehicle. I found myself doing 95 when I saw Bruce falling further behind. I looked down and saw the speedo, DOH! Watching the speed was a constant for the whole trip. The K12 rides very smooth. You donít know you are speeding till way too late.
By 8 we had gone through Amarillo. It started heating up after that. By the time we stopped for fuel in Tucumcari I had drunk an entire 2 litre Camel Back. I brought 2 with me. One was on my back, and the other was in the tank bag.
We stopped for fuel and lunch in Albuquerque. We ended up across the street from the Triumph dealer. While we ate and took care of the other rest stop functions, I refilled both of my Camel Backs with ice and Bruce did the same with his. Having the ice on my back was nice. It acted as a heat sink. Once the ice melted, I drank it.
The New Mexico highway patrol are pretty serious about speeders. A woman in a non-descript 4 door passed us while we were doing about 78 MPH or so. As we approached a bridge overpass there was a New Mexico Trooper parked in the shade. I thought we were going to get tickets as we were on bikes and she was in a car that most people wouldnít look at twice. She got pulled over for going just a bit faster than us. We took the hint and watched our speed both directions through the state.
The temperatures had gone steadily higher since we started but it had been morning. When we left Albuquerque and got slowed down in single lane construction traffic, the heat got bad fast. I heard the cooling fan on Bruces bike come on as well as my own. The traffic eventualy improved, but the heat didnít. We got rolling and our fans kicked off, but from then on we were hot.
I had removed my big gauntlets and put on some thick cloth gloves. I could get a little air flow through the cloth to my hands, and more importantly I had access to the velcro closure on my sleeve. Now I could open up my sleeve and stick my arm out into the wind stream. There is an area of fast moving air spilling off the rear view mirror. I would put the open end of my sleeve there to catch the fast air and funnel it up through my jacket. The vents in the back of my jacket were full open and the air going through the jacket would pull the sweat off of me for very nice evaporative cooling. That was my big strategy to manage the heat. Lots of fluids (1/4 - 1/2 strength Gatorade for electrolytes) and evaporative cooling. It worked well as even in the worst heat I never felt stressed.
Talking about heat, The K bike makes huge amounts of heat. The motor has better than 13:1 compression so there is lots of heat being generated. My old K 1 would roast you alive in traffic. Even on the freeway you needed to baste your left leg. With the K12, I never found where all the engine heat went. There were a few times when my hand was cold. I reached around trying to find the engine heat to warm my hand. I never found it. How did they duct all the heat away from the rider? I donít know. I never found all that waste heat.
For you old K 1 riders, the cooling fan on the K1200S sounds exactly like the fan on the K1. There are a lot of differences between the two bikes. The brakes, the throttle, the instruments may all feel different but when the cooling fan comes on you know that you are right at home.
If the road from Albuquerque to Gallup was bad, the first hour west out of Gallup was worse. The sun was higher, the road had more time to get hot, and the air was just dead.
Fortunately there was a big storm to the south of us and as we moved west, it was moving north. The outflow of the storm started cooling us off before we got to Flagstaff. By the time we got to Flagstaff, it was actually cool out. We had seen a few isolated rain drops and knew that when we headed south we would be going into the heart of it.
While stopped for gas, we put away the riding jackets, and broke out the rain suits. I had my trusty BMW suit. Many of you have the same one. It is one piece, yellow with grey and reflective on it. Bruce had tried a new rain suit called FROG TOGS. This was a safety yellow collored Tyvek 2 piece system. I donít know if it zips together or has elastic. All I know is that as he put it on, the seem in the crotch let go. There goes your waterproofing. I do not know if this is a common problem or not. I just know that the suit had not left the parking lot before it failed.
We headed south on Highway 17 and it started to rain. The road signs had me worried. Fresh Asphalt, Loose Gravel. These are just what you DONíT want to see in the rain. The road will be slick and braking will be tricky. Then I remembered that I had ABS. Pffffft, no problemo. Bruce on the other hand, he had his hands full with wet slipery pavementÖ.and a wet crotch.
The mountain road was gorgeous even in the rain. Maybe the rain added to it. I certainly didít miss the heat. There was more traffic in this stretch of road than we had seen the rest of the day. People were tailgating with only 3 or 4 car lengths between vehicles. The traffic did not let up and while this stretch of road was gorgeous, it was not enjoyable. Too many cars driving aggressively will ruin the beauty of the best road.
The rain lasted most of the way to Phoenix. It did not let up and start getting warm till we were in the valley and traffic had come to a standstill. Dead stop traffic, and 90 degrees is not fun in a sealed up rain suit. We bailed from Highway 17 and went east a few miles in order to catch the loop around Phoenix rather than sit in stop and go traffic.
We made it to our destination with rain suits open for ventilation. My friends Steve and Debbie were our hosts. Both of them ride, participating in track days, morning fun rides, and as much 2 wheel fun as their 3 kids allow. They signed off as witnesses on our 1000 mile ride and made room for our bikes amongst their in the garage.
We had made it in 16 hours. We had the fuel receipts and witness signatures to prove it. We both felt pretty good and could have gone a few hundred more miles if needed.
Sunday morning dawned bright and warm. This was the day of the party. The morning was spent getting the cake from the bakery, etc. The party itself was held very close to a tiny place called Tortilla Flats. Those who know it, know what a great motorcycle road this is. The road is mountain curves with a few short straight patches thrown in.
Bruce was in front of me for this ride. He loves twisty bits and I swear I could hear him giggle as we went through the second and third gear stuff. We caught up to the cars in front of us and pulled over on the shoulder to let them get some distance again. When we got back on the road Bruce was gone! I think this road alone made up for the traffic the previous day on Highway 17. Again we caught up with traffic, but there was only a short distance before we were at the party site so we did not get a chance to play till after the party.
The party was supposed to be a surprise to Bob so the revelers did not ride to the event. A large number of bikes that he rides with would have been a dead giveaway. The air conditioning in the restaurant was a blessing even though it was only 12:30. Bruce and I came in, parked our helmets, and got introduced to everyone while we waited for the birthday boy.
We ordered lunch and many glasses of iced tea or ice water. The restaurant is located in the marina for a lake. The scenery was beautiful. Out one window was the deep blue lake, and out the opposite window was the mountains of the dessert. I was so busy looking at the scenery I didnít see Bob come in. He came around the corner and saw all of us there and the surprise was total. Later on Bob said he was a bit overcome by it all.
Bob came around to all the tables talking to his friends (the Arizona Scratchers). When he got to Bruce and I he made introductions and asked if we had really ridden in from Oklahoma. ďyup.Ē He assumed we were in town for some other reason as well. Later on, after the party we told him about riding out the day before, attending the party, then riding home the next day and he was really floored that we had come out for the party, and the party alone.
We got to know Bob and his sister as well as some of the people who Bob, Steve, and Debbie ride with. One guy who did ride to the event had Mississippi plates on his bike. (And I thought we rode a long distance) Turns out, he has a home in Mississippi as well and just has that bike tagged there. I spoke with him and it turns out that he and I were stationed at the same base in Mississippi while in the Navy. We were there 30 years apart but we were there. What a small world it is.
A few of the party goers started to leave and the cake got cut before any more people left. The cake was (yet one more) inspiration of Debbieís. It was a landscape with a black asphalt road going through it. Debbie had found a small model of a red ST like Bob rides. She cropped a photo of Bob leaning up against his bike, and propped it up against the little red model. The scale was perfect. The cake had Bob leaning on his bike next to the road and it just looked great. For the finishing touch, she made a traffic sign with a deer and the circle/slash showing NO DEER. The humor was a bit dark but Bob loved it. Debbie was the person who put together the party and most of the details surrounding it. As all things I have seen her do, it was flawless.
After the party broke up Bruce and I went to ride the rest of the Tortilla Flats road while Steve, Debbie, and the kids went home. I had been through part of this road before in a car, but had not seen all of the road. Roughly 8 miles past Tortilla Flats is ďend of the pavementĒ or EOP. I thought the first part of the road was good. This last 8 miles was even better.
For tight twisties the K12 is too much bike. There is too much power, too much weight, and too much heat. The cooling fan was on most of the time. For the downhills, I would put the bike in neutral and coast. I couldnít turn the bike off or I would lose the servo assist on the brakes. Bruce had made the jump to lightspeed and taken off. I swear I heard mad, crazed laughter coming from his helmet as he left.
I made it to EOP and Bruce was there setting up pictures and grinning. The cactus were fruiting and the small dark red fruits looked too good to pass up. Bruce thought I had lost my mind at first but tasted the fruit and said it tasted like wild berries. (Desert survival school pays dividends long after getting out of the service) A nice man and his daughter rolled up on a Goldwing and the 4 of us talked a bit before heading back.
Again, Bruce ran away from me as I gawked. This time, going down the mountains, I hit the kill switch, but left the main switch on so I still had electrical power for the brakes. Then, I took both hands off and coasted. (donít try this at home kids, we are trained professionals) Here I was with both hands at shoulder height, no motor, and having the best time of my life as I coasted through these twisty mountain roads. Every now and then I would dab at the rear brakes but even so there was one spot where I coasted through at 60 mph. I can just imagine what the people in cars though as they saw me going through the turns without hands. All too soon I was going uphill and needed the motor. There went the beautiful silence. Some miles up the road Bruce was waiting for me. When we linked up again, we headed back to the home of Steve and Debbie. Steve was snoring on the couch. (Smart man)
Monday morning, 0300 hours local. My watch started beeping. I had set the alarm clock on my cell phone, then set my watch as an afterthought. Good thing. My cell phone had reset itself to local time. Had I not set the watch, we would have been 2 hours late getting on the road.
Our bikes loaded, we tried to leave the house as quietly as possible. We got gas and the all important fuel receipt, and headed up highway 87 into a mist/light rain.
The road was beautiful even in the dark. Gentle sweepers, nice pavement, the smell of the wet trees and dessert. Again, Bruce pulls away from me. I see him a few turns ahead pretty consistently. As the road straightens a bit he looses interest and slows. I catch up then the road gets fun again and off he goes. This goes on till we hit Payson. We catch the road to Holbrook and a bit later the sun is giving the sky in front of us a gold color.
In Holbrook we grab a fast bite and hit I-40 moving east. Our fuel stops are staggered a bit from the fuel stops on the way out. We get to see a little more area, but lets face it. Fuel stops when you are in a hurry all look pretty much alike.
I am having some trouble with my right wrist and elbow. Again, BMW really REALLY needs to put cruise control on this bike. That would allow a person to move their arm every now and then and work the soreness out of it. Finaly, the Ibuprofen kick in and I can go more than 70 miles at a shot. My arm costs us time but soon we go through Albuquerque and head into the hot section of eastern New Mexico.
The little thermometer I bought freaked out when it hit 114 degrees f. If I were smarter, I would find a room with air conditioning. Instead, I take another drink and find a quick truck to follow.
East of Santa Rosa New Mexico the velcro holding the top section of my tank bag closed is working loose and I donít know it till I feel something fall, hit my leg, and dissapear overboard. I look around and see a package of sugar free gum leave the bike. A granola bar follows. I smash the flap closed and try to think what i have in that pocket. Keep the things you use the most in the easiest place to access. Granola bars, gum, glasses cleaner, remote controll for the GPS unit. Thatís not good.
I worry about what is missing till we stop again for fuel. My worst fears are confirmed. The remote is gone. I check all the other pockets. No remote. That hurts. If anyone finds a remote for the BMW/Garmin GPS in New Mexico, please let me know.
We hit Amarillo just at rush hour. The good news, we donít hit rush hour till after we pass the stockyards and feed lots. The thought of sitting in 9 mph traffic in 105+ degrees while smelling feed lot is not my idea of fun.
We do see a few interesting things during the ride. Every Hells Angel and pledge in 4 states seem to be on the road and flying their colors. I donít know what the event was, but they were everywhere.
I saw someone towing a trailer. On the trailer was a replica of the submersible HUNLEE. I donít know what it was for, but maybe the Discovery channel will tell us soon.
Another time I saw someone moving a trailer home. The front escort vehicle was behind the first section of home though. The front truck had lost a wheel. The escort vehicle was trying to bump the still rolling wheel off of the highway. Talk about scary! Being hit by that wheel would make Bobís deer strike seem friendly.
Texas has a nasty trick going. They put up road signs saying ROAD WORK NEXT 62.5 MILES. They do some road work for the first 4 miles, then nothing. Speeding ticket fines double in road work zones. They use the extended road work zone as a revenue generator. My wife got ticketed in just this manner several years ago in Groom Texas. She was 40 miles from the nearest road work. Bruce and I waltzed through without anyone giving us a ticket but I still think itís a pretty cheesy way to do things. Be aware the next time you go through the panhandle of Texas.
We crossed into Oklahoma and the road conditions went down noticeably. Even so, we were glad to see it because it meant we were 2 or so hours from home.
We got to the south side of Oklahoma City and per previous agreement, Bruce and I parted ways. I was going a few miles east then heading straight south towards home. Bruce still needed another 50 miles to get a second 1000 mile day. He headed to a little town named Purcell, then home. I made sure to call his wife when I got home and let her know that Bruce was about 20 minutes out. I was home, had done 1000 miles in a day, and the bike had performed flawlessly.
A few last thoughts on the trip. Our friends Steve and Debbie were great hosts. The Arizona Scratchers riding group was great for making us feel like part of the group. The K1200S needs cruise control a larger fuel tank, and possibly a different fuel gauge to monitor that last gallon in the tank. (BMW, Are you listening? Dr. Robb, you are from Texas and understand the distances involved. We WANT cruise control.) Most important, at times I may bitch about Bruce and his pace, but there is nobody in the world I would rather ride with. If anyone has a GPS remote control they arenít using, lets talk.
Bob turns 61 next year. I wonder what the weather will be like.