Monday, June 26, 2017

Shaft drive oils

Original recipe: ACC-SHAFTD-EX-OO
New and what now?: ACC-SHAFT-PL-32

Sunday, June 04, 2017

What the fork?

Prior to last year's epic failed-to-launch CO trip, I'd purchased fork springs and rear suspension to match my weight.  With this year's epic CO trip looming, I finally got around to installing the fork springs.  But alas, this bike is not spacer-under-cap as all the other bikes in which I've swapped springs.  This bike has the cap screwed to a rod with a jam nut.  To remove the spring, you first have to compress the spring enough to reveal the jam nut, which is under the white-colored spacer in this out-of-focus pic:

The careful observer will note that there is some paracord tied on each side.  That's 50% of my spring compressor.

I looped one side of the spring wire with a bowline hitch.  The cord then goes down the outside of the shock tube, thru the axle hole, back up the other side, and is tied with a taught line hitch to a point opposite the bowline hitch.  The taut line hitch allows you to snug down the cord as much as possible, then take up slack after an initial stretch.

The other 50% of my spring compressor is a quick clamp, configured as a spreader.  It's placed between the two lines so that actuation will force them apart, like drawing a bow string - well, maybe like drawing two bowstrings in opposite directions.  1000 words' worth:

...which reveals the prize:

The problem with this approach is that the clamp has a trigger release.  That means that all that tension is let go instantaneously when the trigger is pulled.

It seems like there's a possibility for injury - altho the coils are opening, so pinching is not likely; and the spring is secured by the line.  It pops back to full length violently, but the cord keeps it from shooting out of the fork tube, bouncing, or any other such craziness.  As long as you don't have any meat around the top of the spring when it lets go.  Anyway, I managed to pull this off four times in a row without drama (old spring out, secure new spring in, x2 forks).

The 2014 stock Supere Tenere spring is on top (progressive wound), the Sonic 1.0kg is on the bottom (straight rate).

I made several changes during this maintenance - front brakes, handle bars, and pegs.  Also, I hadn't ridden for several days.  So that said, I was surprised that the upgraded, stiffer, Sonic springs initially felt WORSE than stock.  I had noticeably more brake dive.

I'm not sure if there are other factors at work: the new brakes may be grabbier than what they replaced, and having not ridden for several days, I was hammering the throttle pretty hard.
I wonder if maybe my weight had the progressive section of the stockers coil bound all the time, such that the straight rate section was always the only factor in play.

After a few days of playing, I don't really notice a difference.

2017 Romney Cycles Camp and Ride, May 5-7

Wednesday after work, I campered and hitched up for the annual 15 hour slog to WV.  I managed to roll into a rainy spot right next to Ann and Mike around 10PM Thursday, having left home around 6AM. 

Friday morning started rainy.  I don't go to WV without a rush up and across Dolly Sodds.  This time I detoured enroute for Smoke Hole Road.

I hiked up the hill to get a better pic of the bike in the curve.  The greenery in the foreground screws up the shot, but there was a waterfall running down the fold in the hills here.  I had visions of turning an ankle halfway up and ruining all that driving.

Further on I popped around a curve and thought I recognized this spot from prior years' ADV photos.

Still on Smoke Hole Road, Eagle Rock.  I would later notice - for the first time - that mohawk of rock which runs just below the ridge.  This formation runs for miles, forming the backbone of the ridge east of Dolly Sods.

Smoke Hole dumped me out on 220, which leads south to 33 and the pass to the Germany Valley overlook.  I've taken this pic a few times now.

On the other side of the gap, 33 heads north to Seneca Rocks.  I stopped at Yocum's for a ramp burger and a gallon jug of water.  From there it's a quick rip up to Dolly Sods.  Sitting on Bear Rocks is always a profound experience for me.  On the trek back to the bike, I wondered at this rock.  I expect the grooves and bores are man-made, but it seems odd that nature would sculpt that turtle's head.

I decided to get back to Romney Cycles and see if I could ride a demo DR650, but the last rides of the day were just leaving.  I ate some supper and headed back out, finding a short run of dirt at Fort Mill Ridge.  I rode it down to the river, where a few tent campers gave me some dirty looks.
Back at "camp",  I set up a chair and hung out with Mike and Ann, which is always entertaining.  The weather led to a low turnout so there was less ruckus around us.

Friday night it rained - hard.  Every night in the camper feels like being a kid at a slumber party, but staying warm and dry in hours of downpour ups the ante.

Saturday morning I hung out under the tarp with Ann and Mike again.  The dirt bike class, which Ann had taken the previous year and highly recommended, was decimated with weather cancellations.  With no prior plan, at the last minute I decided to take the class.  I was rider #4.
The class was a few hours of drills on Romney's field (in the rain), then lunch, then out for some off-pavement "practicum."  The first dirt we hit:  Fort Mill Ridge.  The tent campers were gone.  We dirt some turning around and bike handling drills, after which we were led back out onto 50W to (I think) 220S.
The rain, taking a class, and not planning to take the class until a minute before it started meant that I had no phone and no GPS - so, no pics and no idea where I was.  I'd guess we turned east off 220 a few miles south of 55.
Most of the ride was fast and fun, until we hit a few slick, muddy spots.  We stopped a few times for breaks, teachable moments, and photo ops.

Shortly after starting back up after a stop, I was heading downhill around a sharp right-hander on gravel/ dirt.  I wasn't really settled in yet, and found my attention landing on a ditch at the far side of the road.  I targeted myself right into it and wound up rolling a few feet down the hill while the bike came to rest on its right side in the ditch.  The wheels were higher than the tank - I felt initially screwed and had visions of an expensive tow truck winching my ruined bike out.

I grabbed the back rail and pulled until the wheels slid down the bank into the bottom of the ditch.  From there, I tried to mount it but the seat was below knee-level, so I started it and walked it a few yards further along the ditch until I found a spot I could mount and ride it out.  A quick check for damage found none.  NONE.  Days later I found a few faint scratches on my right crash bars, but otherwise the bike was COMPLETELY unscathed.  All the money I'd spent on protection seemed suddenly the best spent thus far.

We pressed on to do some log jumping and a little more riding.  With tired legs, and humbled by my crash, I opted to bail on extended riding following the class and tagged back to Romney with another rider who'd had a long, hard, day picking up a DR650.  I also hoped I could squeak in that demo ride, but I again arrived just in time to watch the last demo group leave.

I loaded up and decided to get some miles behind me after the Romney-provided supper, which was country fabulous.  I rolled out in the gathering dusk and made my way across rt50 in fading daylight.  I made it down 81 to 77, across the gap and pulled off in a rest stop just across the NC border, where I fell into bed in the camper.  In the darkness, I attracted some other moto trailers, awakening to this:

..the last known pic of my tailgate and trailer's license plate, which were not present at my first gas stop in GA hours later.

I love WV, and there's something to be said for establishing traditions - but this is a long, expensive, slog.  More than 30 hours driving and $300-ish dollars of fuel, and halfway thru that drive I always think about how I could be arriving at 7 gaps if that were my destination instead.

It's sad to think that this was quite probably my last hurray in Romney.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

2016 Romney Cycles Camp and Ride

4/29/16 - 5/1/16

Being a veteran of Romney , and living on a sandbar for most of the past year, I decided to take a vacation day and drag a camper and motorcycle from central FL to Romney, WV to attend the 2016 Romney Cycles event.

Fourteen hours, 750-ish miles, and two brief stops later, I gave up and overnighted at a Walmart in Staunton, VA, 150 miles from Romney.  I was sick with dehydration and from running exclusively on Cliff bars.

An early start and lots of shifting along rt 50 brought me thru the fog to my destination, deploying the bike in the Romney parking lot by about 9:30AM.

Expecting a large crowd, I parked close to the only other "RV" yet to arrive to allow room for other would be later-comers who never materialized.  I needlessly crowded Ann and Mike from Ohio, whose company I would enjoy for my whole stay in Romney.
Having spent more than a full day driving to come to WV to ride, I got right to it.  I headed SW, in the general direction of Dolly Sods, with no particular course in mind.  In short order I was between a pair of sheer rock walls with a creek to one side of the road.  I pulled off to absorb the place for a while.  I listened to the birds and smiled up at the rock faces for at least a full 15 minutes before a single car went by.  The solitude and pace of this place is restorative.

Still not having really eaten much besides a few Cliff bars since breakfast yesterday, I stopped at a Sheetz for fuel and a sandwich.  I parked next to pair of cruisers and chatted for a bit with their friendly riders, who'd both come some distance to meet here and start a trip together.

On to Dolly Sods.  I have nothing but fond memories of the long, easy, gravel roads that lead up to and along the wilderness here.  I've traveled them two or three times, so it's officially "tradition."  I don't go to WV without climbing up here.  I crawled out onto some of the Bear Rocks, took some pics, and spent another half hour just being there: watching the hawks, guesstimating distances, feeling small, and contemplating the unfathomable time and forces involved in such a place coming into existence.  For another half hour, I did not see or hear another human or their machinery.  If there was a drug that made me feel like that in "real life", I'd be an addict.

On the way back to Romney, I passed thru a cut which wouldn't have merited more than a smile for most of my life.  Living on a sandbar denies one any sense of "vertical" and "geology."  I stopped here, shot some GoPro riding thru, and picked at the frangible sandstone layers.

Another overlook on the highway back to camp.  Pictures.. justice.. had to be there.

A roadside cut just outside of the town of Romney.  Again, mountain folk are probably oblivious to this sort of thing.  The little green band on top is a forest.  If those trees are 20-40' tall, how big is this cut?

Back at camp, the food concessionaires fed me well, and I was cordially invited to hang out with my neighbors under their canopy.  I eventually turned in to a warm, dry, camper, which - despite having no hookups - had a half tank of Florida water and a house battery to pump it.  The difference in luxury between a truck camper and a tent approaches infinity.


Saturday morning, the food vendors again fed me well, and again I was cordially invited to eat breakfast with my new friends next door.  We talked about riding plans and ultimately decided the three of us would do the Green Ridge loop.  We set out for what turned out to be a long, slow, somewhat boring slog.  At a gas stop we all expressed disappointment at the lack of "off pavement" travel this supplied route included.
Eventually, tho, we reached the muddy part.  Very early on, we passed an abandoned rail tunnel in the woods.  We stopped for pics and a look around. Before we started moving, I set up the GoPro.

I was soon confronted by the first of what would be several mud/ water crossings which were a bit intimidating for a 600+ lb bike with no crashbars, active financing, and a rider used to riding solo and turning around when the possibility of a big drop with expensive damage looms large.  Gentle encouragement from Mike and Ann saw my courage up to passing thru several situations which seemed as simple and effortless on the way out as they seemed dicey and potentially disastrous on the way in.

My sudden short stop here caused Ann to fold up behind me and drop her bike. In my mind, the bottom of these puddles was somewhere between greasy (lose traction and dump it) and squishy (bury the back tire to the axle).  Alone, as equipped, I would absolutely have turned back here after psyching myself out about dumping it in BFE.  The bottom was solid, the crossing uneventful.

The three of us sloshed thru the woods for rest of the route, stopping at a scenic overlook for some pics which I now can't find.  After crossing the wooden toll bridge back into WV from Maryland, we split up and I sprinted back to camp, where I was again fed, and again supped with Mike and Ann.

My "street cred" from the morning's festivities would later get largely washed away by the rain.

After lunch, Mike loaded up his GPS with the "easy dirt" route, and I headed back out under threatening skies.
The route was dry and rocky, affording much faster travel than the morning's unpaved sections.  My confidence boosted from earlier successes, I started sliding the back around corners and wringing it out a bit.  It's still a 600lb bike, but I begin to see where a confident, skilled, off-roader would push this bike.

At some point along the route, I passed an abandoned homestead along the side of the road.  A house and several weathered outbuildings in the slow process of collapse and overgrown with trees beckon the imagination to invent details of the lives of the people who must have lived here.
Their story inexorably ends when a tipping point between being able to maintain the property - or maybe being worth it - is crossed, and nature slowly reclaims the land.
Places like this are an homage to the mercilessness of time.  People sat on that porch, slept in those rooms upstairs.  People lived their lives here - possibly for generations.

With waning light and threatening weather, I again pointed my bike towards Dolly Sods.  I climbed up from the Bear Rocks side into dense fog and limited visibility to birth another tradition: the threat of running out of gas on top of Dolly Sods.  When I reached the other end, I clutched in and coasted the 5 or 6 miles out of the clouds and down to the highway and gassed up at the first town I came to.  A high-speed slog back to camp up rt 220 - my gear did a fair job of keeping me dry as the rain started about 30 minutes out.

Back at camp, I was fed the "free meal", with cake.  Again I ate with Mike and Ann sheltered from the rain under their canopy, reviewing the day's highlights.  Rain pushed the raffle and speeches into the dealership.
In the dying light following the formal rally activities, I decided to load up and put a few hours behind me.  After securing the bike on the trailer, I went next door to say my goodbyes and thank-you's.  Not surprisingly, I was invited to sit down and ended up talking to Mike and Ann for a few more hours.  Intermittently, "squeaky Pete," a drunk KTM guy from DC with the noisiest boots ever made, would slur something derogatory about Mike's KLR or ask how things were going from the campfire nearby.  I tried to be delicate about expressing some of my crazier opinions.

Sunday morning I got out before 7AM and rolled many, many miles home in intermittent rain and fog.  Somewhere in GA a strange noise revealed that the camper's siding had succumbed to the wind and was being peeled off.  I wedged our outdoor mat between the roof of the truck and the camper overhang to prevent further destructive flapping and made it the rest of the way home without further incident.  

Somewhere along the way, I was passed by a truck with a heavy equipment load. Someone had strapped down a Tonka truck on the empty half of the flatbed trailer.  I wish I could meet the person who did this.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 PBR - Saturday

2016 PBR - Friday

Thursday eve, camp set:

Rich leads a mapless group of noobs and easy riders:

Surreal shot approaching the pavilion for Friday night cook-out.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

It's Winter up there = DAY 3

1/2/16 was the last of 17 straight days off.  I thought I should get a few hours of riding in before the long ride home.  I put the down jacket I should have had the prior day under my riding jacket and headed for the Blood Mt Wilderness.

A great map loaned by my campsite neighbor is apparenlty available at the Turner Store.  The "good" roads are all listed.

A depressingly short way down this road, I was confronted with a water crossing.  I stopped to survey and couldn't see a path that would put me in less than 12" of water.  Not wanting wet feet first thing, or to capsize a cherry Super Tenere in a rocky stream, I chickened out and turned back.  I would love to attempt this very tame, do-able crossing... not at 40 degrees wearing down.

With limited time, I figured "go with what you know," and headed back to Duncan Ridge Rd. off rt180 west of Vogel SP.  In a fit of confidence, I road up a faint two-track to a campsite on a bluff near the spot I'd stopped at two days ago to air down.  Rooty/ rocky, hard to turn around on, but the bike doesn't care as long as it's moving.