Exploration doesn't have to mean a 3 month trek to Antartica, or even a multiweek trip across the country. It can mean going as far as you can toward an unfamiliar destination within hours, or within a single day. Such was this saga to points north and west, but within 3 hours of the starting point. And what did I discover ? Some great roads, some interesting roads to go back and try, some interesting historical sites, and a great place for a Hoagie. I'll be back....
Great time on the 7 mountains ride. Gravel, sand, rocks, you name it. Here is a shot of me emerging from some deep woods and some rocky single track. It was no picnic on the big bike, but it made it through..
Suddenly, and without warning, my wrists began to ache after long hours in the saddle. Actually, they began to ache after a decreasing number of hours. After a period of denial, this resulted in adjustment of the stock bars (twisting really) to adjust the angle more than the distance. This did not make much difference, and I began to search the forums. Despite many interesting alternatives, the most positive reports were from installation of the Rox Risers. I ordered a set. These are very simple but clever billet aluminum devices that allow for the adjustment of height, distance, and angle. The first trick to installation is making sure that they are even and level. If not, you have handlebars that are not straight. I used an angle level to get them right. The second trick is to reroute the throttle cable so that it is not stretched too tight. It will seem fine straight, but not at full lock. The solution involves disconnecting the cable at the handlebar and then reconnecting it underneath. Once complete, I had two more inches of height/reach adjustment, and the same amount of angle adjustment as before. Changing the reach/height also impacts seating position more than you might think. While I am still experimenting with the ideal position, this was a simple and easy change to comfort.
Two hours of light remaining. Thick thunderous clouds to the west. Temperatures dropping. This combination might suggest a warm dry evening at home. Not !! Suit up, make sure the rain gear is packed, fall gloves, gas, hit the road. This engine always sounds great to my ears, and the performance is even better. I headed northwest, skirting the thick clouds and running in and out of patches of sunlight. The roads over the mountains are twisty and clear of traffic. I have not seen lean angles like this on the GS since the tail of the dragon run. Fantastic. Yogi waves from the top of a wooded mountain. All too soon, light begins to fade, and I make a beeline for the interstate to get back. Just a few hours and a few gallons, but worth every minute and every penny. I am restored.
Fellow BMW GS rider Todd offered to show me some new roads, and I was glad for the chance. The day began kind of chilly with temps in the mid to upper 30s. By late morning it hit 40° and we headed out. The cool temperatures turned cold as we climbed to higher elevations, and there was snow still on the ground. Once on the descent, the temperatures climbed 8 degrees in as many miles. A couple of the corners were still sprinkled with the fine gravel used to combat snow and ice. Gingerly....
Rolling through farmland with the sun out and miles of sparsely populated roads was just the prescription. We thought about some offroad, but decided that the trails would not be in very good shape at this point. The next day, I returned to tackle a few trails in another area and discovered why it was still a bad idea. Wet and muddy sections from snow melt made the going dicey at times. Even worse, icy patches required walking the bike around a few sections, and the R12GS is not a fun bike to walk around offroad. This was no fun after a while, and I was glad to get back to pavement. Lesson learned.
When I first saw a BMW GS, it was in the Paris Dakar race. It was equipped with some massive fog lights on the front of the bike. I was sure that the bike could light up half of North Africa, and it looked mean and purposeful. I have since seen guys pull up to rallies with bikes similarly equipped with massive CIbie or Hella foglamps on the front that would be the envy of a world rally car. That makes it really unfortunate that today's lighting puts out 10 times the light of those gigantic orbs, with about 1/10 the size for the unit. You don't get the same look of those. Rally bikes, but you cannot argue with the light output and the effectiveness of the new technology. I decided that the new R12GS should have the new technology, and that at some point I would look at some old-school lights for the R100 GS. The new lights are Denali LED lights from Twisted Throttle. They have both driving and fog lenses, but I opted for the driving lenses. I mounted them right above the stock fog lights. This puts them out of harm's way, and very visible.
Perhaps it is inevitable that the long-distance traveller in North America becomes an expert on roadside cuisine. Giant fast food chains have not yet killed off the tremendous variety of local mom-and-pop restaurants just off the highway. The diner in particular is a true piece of Americana. It suggests breakfast served all day, it suggests reasonable prices, it suggests friendly staff, it suggests a local specialty, it suggests downscale ambience. But beyond all of that, it suggests knowledge of the local roads, and knowledge of the local must-see venues. If it is time for a food stop, and you see a sign that includes the word Diner, try it out. On this occasion, the Pink Cadillac Diner is a sort of string of rooms which were obviously added one at a time to a main area. The memorabilia is as the name implies, 50s pop culture. Beats Starbucks !