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Author Topic: Six weeks, a tent and a VFR  (Read 42662 times)
Olive
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« on: May 27, 2011, 08:51:45 PM »
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I had been watching the weather all week, and not feeling overly impressed with what I saw.  Rain.  Rain.  More rain.  Torrential rain.  And Rain.

There were a few things that I wanted to do before I set off on the trip.  An oil change was at the top of the list.  My plan was to have it completed before I left town.  At least I followed that plan.  This morning after the rain let up a bit I headed outside with the tools necessary to pull off the fairings and take care of maintenance.  As soon as I started pulling off the fairings the rain picked up.  By the time I removed the fairings and drained the oil I was drenched.  I used a plastic bag to shelter the funnel as I filled the bike up with fresh oil, and then reassembled the bike.  Well, almost reassembled the bike.  There was one stubborn plastic push clip that didn't want to cooperate.  Although it might have been my hands that weren't being cooperative: they were red and very aware that the temperatures left a little to be desired.

After I finished changing the oil, I grabbed my push mower and ran it across the lawn, then headed inside to wring out my clothes.  After I dried off I finished last minute packing, clipped the luggage on the bike and headed east.

It was a later start than I had anticipated, however it didn't make sense to wait for tomorrow morning's promised thunderstorms, so I set off in the rain.

As I headed out of Calgary I did a mental inventory of all of the things I needed that couldn't be conveniently picked up at a Walmart.  Whups!  Time for a U-Turn.  I headed back home for my glasses.  I had put in contacts just before leaving, and my glasses weren't occupying their traditional location on my nose.  While I prefer to ride with contacts, I am completely blind without my glasses, and it is one thing that I can not possibly leave behind.

My second trip out of town was uneventful.  The highway featured rain, potholes and some construction.  People were driving fairly decently given the weather, and I pulled off for my first gas fill of the day as the rain picked up.  As with most gas stations located on the highway the apron around the pumps was paved, but the area between the road and the apron featured small lakes, craters and lots of slick mud.  Not my favourite terrain during a rainstorm.  I was a little nervous taking the bike across this, especially given how easily the pooled water could hide a feature that would take both me and my bike horizontal.  After I topped off with gas, I carefully picked my way back to the road, and pulled onto the highway.

A few hours into the trip I pulled off for a coffee, and an opportunity to warm up.  The rainsuit I was wearing over my gear was doing a reasonable job of keeping me dry, however I was quite aware that my gloves were drenched, as were my socks.  While I had remembered to close the vents on my riding boots, they are sadly not waterproof.  As I type this my socks are hanging in my tent drying.  My gloves are vented and also let in a lot of moisture, and I am hoping that they also dry out by morning.

I continued on to Medicine Hat where I pulled into Gas City Campground and rented a tent site for the evening.  The rain held off while I set up the tent, but is now gently falling outside.  There is only one other tent site occupied today, but quite a few RVs are set up for the night.  The tent is rapidly cooling down, so I am going to crawl into a sleeping bag and settle down for the night.

Tomorrow my plan is to continue to head east, and hopefully post up a few pictures of today.

« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 08:53:14 PM by Olive » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2011, 02:48:23 AM »
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Even the longest march begins with a 1st step








Wishing you a fun trip and warm nights.....  headbang
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2011, 08:43:03 AM »
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So you're away, I was wondering if the fun was gunna start Friday icon_biggrin
Good luck O, hope the weather picks up in a good way, we'll be closely following your adventure...be safe  Wheels
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2011, 09:12:18 AM »
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Well at least you just forgot glasses and not your wallet  laughing7 laughing7 laughing7


Im no one to talk, had to stop at Walmart to buy riding boots when I forgot mine in Tucson a couple years ago 


See you in a few weeks Nik, be safe  headbang
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2011, 09:14:29 AM »
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Hey O !   It may be raining now, but just wait 'til you get to the east coast and Florida ! ! !   Sunshine, heat, humidity ...  the exact opposite.  But that's part of touring.  Enjoy trip and be safe.    icon_salut  
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2011, 02:56:27 PM »
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Hey O !   It may be raining now, but just wait 'til you get to the east coast and Florida ! ! !   Sunshine, heat, humidity ...  the exact opposite.  But that's part of touring.  Enjoy trip and be safe.    icon_salut  

Ya..touring...should have come south 1st cuz its only 99 here right now, by the time you get here its gonna be hot 
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2011, 03:04:47 PM »
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Hey O !   It may be raining now, but just wait 'til you get to the east coast and Florida ! ! !   Sunshine, heat, humidity ...  the exact opposite.  But that's part of touring.  Enjoy trip and be safe.    icon_salut  

Ya..touring...should have come south 1st cuz its only 99 here right now, by the time you get here its gonna be hot 

Don't really think she'll have much trouble handling your heat, Cruz.  For a Canuckian, she did real well in the 105 temps we were touring in on some of the BBB2 trip !   ...  At least she gave us that impression....   dontknow   These women can be pretty introverted and illusive when necessary !   .....    laughing7
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2011, 04:09:59 PM »
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Ya..touring...should have come south 1st cuz its only 99 here right now, by the time you get here its gonna be hot 

Decided to ride in 37F temps this am, and then spend a couple of days hanging out in Swift Current where I know nobody and there is very little to do.  My bike found a really nice sheltered place with friendly folks...  Why go south when I can stay on the prairies?
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2011, 04:16:53 PM »
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Hey, you got the time... might as well milk it !  ...  occasion14
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2011, 10:37:46 PM »
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Woke up this morning with the birds.  They started before the sun came out.  I hunkered down in the sleeping bag trying to stay warm for a little longer as it had gotten cold overnight.  Eventually I decided it was time to get up.  As soon as I started packing things up I discovered that the tent had gotten a little damp overnight.  My sleeping pad kept my sleeping bag dry, and my gear was on the higher side of the tent, so it remained dry as well.  Perhaps it is time to pick up some weatherproofing for the tent, although it was rather wet during the wee hours.  Wet tent packed up, I was still on the road a little after 6am. 

Stopped for gas, and then headed for Swift Current for my morning coffee.  A really early start to the day, and I was eager to put some distance under my wheels.  I headed out in weather that was much more promising.  Open roads lay ahead!

Coming up on a car, I decided to pull out to pass.  Checked my mirrors and did the customary head-check, and pulled out.  I glanced down at my speed, and didn't register anything unusual on the dash.  As I started to signal my intention to move left I caught sight of something that could have been smoke.  Hey, whazzat?  I quickly checked again - copious amounts of white smoke seemed to be coming from my bike.  It didn't take me long to pull onto the shoulder and park the bike.

The sight of oil dripping off of my bike, and steaming as it hit hot exhaust was not the sight I hoped to see.  At this point I decided to take off my gloves and helmet, figuring that I was going to be parked for a little while.  There was significant oil gathering on the ground under the bike - not consistent with a minor issue like a crush washer.  What was rather evident was that the bike would not be going anywhere under its own power without an intervention.

I walked around the bike, and when breaks in traffic allowed I hunkered down on the road beside it to check the obvious.  The bike still had an intact drain plug, and it was tight.  The exhaust was still quite warm.  Oil continued to drip on the road.  I tried to check out the oil filter, but access was limited.  The highway where I had pulled over was not conducive to removing fairings and trying to troubleshoot in more detail.  The available lighting wasn't adequate to see what was going on.

This is the sight that originally greeted me:





Oil trail behind bike



Check out the oil on the rear tire - significant.



I weighed out my options.  I needed a garage, and probably could use a pair of helping hands.  VFRD has always been good for members helping members, and I thought that would be the best place to look.  Once I realized that my Blackberry could read but NOT post to VFRD I phoned Daisy and asked him to post up a call for help detailing the problem.

AMA (Alberta Motor Association) includes motorcycle towing with the appropriate level of membership, and I realized that I could do nothing at the side of the road so I called for a tow.  While waiting I continued to try and figure out anything I could, as well as where to take the bike.

Another helpful member from VFRD emailed me the info on the Powerhouse Dealership in Swift Current (also suggested by the tow truck driver), and since I didn't have any other options I opted to have the bike taken there.  It surprised me that there was a local Honda motorcycle dealership with service, but I wasn't going to question my luck.  I exchanged emails with a couple of people, and took the opportunity to shoot a few pictures of rural Saskatchewan.

Reed Lake



Blue Skies



I got very familiar with this patch of highway



As I waited a few freight trains rolled past



Darker clouds started to roll in



I took a few more photos of the bike



Eventually the two truck showed up.  Time during something like this is always subjective.  I hadn't checked my watch when I had called for the truck, and I didn't check the time when he arrived.

A large flatbed.  Hmmm... I've loaded bikes on pickup trucks and U-haul trailers, but the flatbed looked a little intimidating. 

After a brief discussion with Brent from Low Cost Towing (who had been dispatched by the AMA), we determined that the slope was too much to walk the bike up, especially with the oil slick on the tire.  He had me straddle the bike while he very slowly winched it on the bed.  I was rather nervous about this, as my contact with the ground seemed rather tenuous as soon as the bike started up the ramp, and wind from large trucks was pushing me around a lot.  I was on tip-toe with calves that were cramping as I tried to reach the ground to stabilize the bike.  It definitely made me more than a little nervous. Just as soon as we got the rear tire on the flatbed, Brent helped stabilize the bike while I got off.  We set the bike on kickstand, and I stood on the platform while he gently brought it to horizontal.  That was a very odd feeling ride.  He hopped up and we wheeled the bike to the front.  He carefully secured it to the truck, and we were off to make a U-turn and return to Swift Current where I had previously stopped for my morning coffee.

I have to admit that I didn't expect to be posting this picture on day 2 of my trip:



The bike really looks dwarfed by the truck.



After a short drive we reached Regier Honda, the Powerhouse Dealership in Swift Current.  Wayne helped us unload the bike from the trailer, and it was sliding a bit with the oil soaked tire, and the oil on the flatbed deck.  I was very relieved when we got the bike safely on the pavement, and rolled it inside the dealership.

Wayne was good enough to lend me a flashlight so I could take a better look under the bike.  I would have loved to pull the fairings to see what was actually going on, but that's bad form in someone else's shop.  The pattern of oil on the top of the oil filter caught my eye.  The front of the oil filter had some oil on it, around the nut (K&N), but not at the side of the filter (oriented to the top).  This has me suspecting perhaps that the filter had an issue.  I tried to get a picture of it, but was not very successful.  I could see it, but trying to get the camera to focus on it was a totally different story.



The bike made itself comfortable in the service bay.



As it was a Saturday, I wasn't surprised that Reiger's service department wasn't open.  Wayne promised that he would have Alex, his service manager look at the bike as early as possible on Monday to determine the problem.  This seemed very fair given the circumstances.  I was pleasantly surprised by the service that I received - Wayne even loaned me a phone book and personally chauffered me and my bike luggage to a motel.  This seemed prudent given the circumstances.  While I had located one campground it was out of town, and I didn't have any transportation.  Given that I dry-camp, it was preferential that I stay in town where there were some facilities and access to groceries.

While I was standing inside the dealership Wayne had a phone call come in.  What caught my attention was the phrase "She is right here, would you like to talk to her?".  Since I was the only other person in the showroom, I did a double take. I was completely mystified when the caller hung up without leaving a name, nor speaking with me. Later I found out it was Cogswell from VFRD looking for options for me, assuming that I was still on the roadside.  (What a thoughtful guy!).   

In his own words, "I called the Honda dealer in Swift Current, Reiger Honda 306-773-3535 to find out about a MC retrieval service, and the manager asked why, and I mentioned that we have a stranded rider on a 2008 Interceptor with an oil leak somewhere near. His reply was "she's here". Yeah! This was as of Noon Pacific. Hopefully they'll get her taken care of and back on the road. Hang in there Olive!"

I thought this was incredibly thoughtful of him!  He was looking out for an absolute stranger!  But that seems to be part of the bike fellowship, especially on motorcycle forums.  I am incredibly grateful to look at the responses to the thread asking questions, making suggestions, providing advice and wishing me well.

After dealing with the bike, I checked into the Rainbow Motel.  It looks to be a family run operation, nothing fancy but my needs were simple:  low price, reasonable distance to dealership, access to internet. They offered very fair rates, and were conveniently located just off of the highway, walking distance to restaurants and the dealership.  After checking in I hung the tent over the shower rod to dry, and will pick up something to weatherproof the seams tomorrow.  At least I will be doing something productive!



It looks like I will be hanging around Swift Current for a couple of days, but I'm optimistic that the issue will be resolved quickly.

Given the amount of oil on the rear tire I am very fortunate that I caught it as early as I had, and didn't encounter problems when I pulled the bike to the side of the highway.  The amount of oil on the side of the tire could have made for a nasty lack of traction.  While it is frustrating that the bike is parked for another day, the situation could be much worse.  At least I am at a location where it is possible to do something about the problem, and I do have plenty of time for this trip.  Stories like this are always memorable, and are part of why riding is such an adventure.  I met a lot of people today that I would not have met otherwise, and have had an eventful day. 
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2011, 11:07:17 PM »
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I sent you a text to see how things are going, but I see your safe and sound. Keep us posted on what happens and I hope its a minor and quick / easy fix and your out of there Monday am first thing.
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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2011, 03:51:55 AM »
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WOW.  Damn good thing you were on those long straight roads!  That is a lot of oil on your rear tire.  Glad you noticed it when you did.  Enjoy Swift Current!
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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2011, 05:41:20 AM »
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WOW.  Damn good thing you were on those long straight roads!  That is a lot of oil on your rear tire.  Glad you noticed it when you did.  Enjoy Swift Current!
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Olive
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2011, 03:49:57 PM »
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The oil was everywhere - and that is a good sign, because it meant that I caught the issue early.

A few really astute comments from folk on the other forum about cleaning the tire, or considering replacing it (the argument is that rubber is porous and you want a tire you can trust), as well as checking the rear brake pads.  Both excellent points. 

Hopefully I will be back on the road tomorrow.  It's a little embarrassing to be on day 3 of the trip, and look at my  average miles per day... 
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2011, 05:23:50 PM »
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Good thing you were still in Canada!  National holiday on Monday in the US.
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