Autumn 2016 Trip: Route Planning

I’ve ridden North a lot in the last ten years. There are basically three ways to do it, go up Highway One along the coast, take 101, or take 5 and kill yourself from boredom.

I wanted to shake it up a bit and ride some roads I haven’t ever, or in a while. One of the biggest advantages to this trip is that I’m flying solo, so I can do whatever I want and I can change my mind as I go.

So I opened google maps and started clicking on things.These are my first drafts for the two days. I am sure they will change, almost certainly day two since it’s a little much even for an old iron butt like myself. (Especially since I’ll want to be home early enough so I can function the next day.)

Day One

Day Two


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Motorcycle Projects: Getting Stuff Done

A few weeks ago I shared a list of projects that I was putting off getting done on the Motorcycles in my garage.

They had been on my list for months and I figured if I shared them it would help motivate me to work on them.

I did work on them since then so either it worked or I finally had time.

First I replaced the lens on the FrankenMonster’s headlight. It was cracked from a rock over two years ago on my Spring Trip to Portland.


It was a relatively easy fix, even though the last time I took it apart was over six years ago.

The trickiest part is getting all the tension wires things back in while not having the lens slip out of the rim. Didn’t take me too long, and only had one false start.


I then spent a bit of time trying to track down the reason my right rear turn signal isn’t working. That wasn’t met with the same kind of success. I hunted wires down, checked connections and it still didn’t work. No idea, where the problem is, and I was not ready to take the entire thing apart without consulting a professional first. Wouldn’t want to do a bunch of work that might not be needed.

The last thing I did was replace the rubber pads on the footpegs on my friend’s ST2. This was a relatively easy fix as well, but felt good to get done.

Some Before and after of the ST2's foot pegs

Some Before and after of the ST2’s foot pegs


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Autumn Motorcycle Trip

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I was going to do a solo motorcycle ride. It was about a week after I started planning the Spring 2017 trip and I was bogged down by all the details and stuff that needed to be sorted out. Which is of course not very easy and a bit of a headache. I’ll still do it and all the planning will be worth it, but that fact doesn’t make it any easier.

Travelling solo means I can just last minute (ish) plan a trip. I don’t need to see if my schedule is free with more than my wife and my work.

I did that and now I’m going camping, and heading to somewhere where the roads are epic and I can go as fast (or slow?) as I want.


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My Gear is Worth A Lot More Than My Motorcycle

IMG_4255One of the things I like about my insurance company is that they include my protective gear in the case of a crash. I was talking to a co-worker about this today and telling him to make sure that he asked his company about this.

Later I realized that my gear is worth more than my motorcycle, and probably has been for a couple of years. Certainly the replacement value of it is, not hard though considering my bike is worth only about a thousand dollars on a good day. My gear is easily worth twice that.

It is of course worth every cent.

I just hadn’t thought about it in a while, but quality gear isn’t cheap and there are several pieces that are not very cheap on their own and add up to a princely sum together.

The point of all this?

I’m not sure, maybe I’m just trying to justify a new motorcycle, or more likely make sure your insurance company covers more than your bike should the worst happen.

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The Next Motorcycle: Looking over the options

I daydream about what bike I would get next a lot. For years this was simply a mental exercise since the money for a new motorcycle was elusive. Now though the money is hopefully going to be there, which is good since I think the FrankenMonster is rapidly becoming a bike I should stop putting money into.

My criteria for my next motorcycle is the following:

  • Enough Horsepower and suspension to make riding with a passenger and light luggage easy and fun.
  • Something good for touring, but doesn’t need to be that good on the freeway since I rarely do more than an hour at a time on freeways.
  • Idealy it won’t look stupid with a top case, and still make my heart race a little when I see her.
  • I need to commute on it, so decent (mid 40’s at least) gas mileage is desired.
  • I’d also like something that weighs 450lbs and definitely less than 500lbs.

Most of my criteria would point you toward a bigger capacity bike than I really want though. They tend to get heavy and the bigger capacity engines get bad gas mileage.

So I went to each major motorcycle manufacturer (Aprilia -Yamaha) and looked at what motorcycles met my criteria.

This is what I found. (in no real particular order)


Triumph Tiger 800 XRx


Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT

2016 Honda Africa Twin DCT

Honda Africa Twin


Yamaha FJ-09


Honda VFR800 Interceptor


Suzuki V-Strom 1000

And then there is this one:

Ducati HyperStrada


Don’t make a bike that meet criteria: KTM, Aprilia, BMW*, MV Augusta, Harley, and Moto Guzzi

*BMW might actually make motorcycles that meet my criteria, but were omitted for obvious reasons

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Spring 2017: Death Valley, The Final Attempt (?)

I’m already planning. Dates have been picked out, and the basic plan has been penciled in. Now for the hard part, the actual planning.

Same group as before, looking at doing a much longer and adventurous trip than last year. Planning will be for the same levels of skill, and working on making sure I’m less stressed than I was. (ie. leading from the rear etc.)

Pouring over maps trying to make the routes work.

The basic idea is to ride to a campground and meet with our wives/girlfriends and my parents who will have the 1940’s teardrop trailer with them for real cooking. Stay there for two or so nights and move to another basecamp and repeat.

My parents are busy refurbishing this vintage hand made 1940’s trailer that’s been in the family for ages.

The only question is if I can find good enough base camps that have fun riding close enough that I can loop around to and from them.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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MotoCynic Theory: On why the ST2’s battery was dead for Laguna Seca

Since you’re here reading the blog I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the ups and downs we’ve been through with the battery on the Ducati ST2 that is in my garage.

The latest drama was that it was completely dead again when I went to try and start it the night before Laguna Seca. Which was surprising since it had only been a few months since I rode it last. (The wife’s Ducati Monster 620 goes longer fine)

Luckily it wasn’t really needed, though it would have been nice to let a friend borrow it for the weekend, instead of making him drive a car.

Since it was fine for the Spring Motorcycle Trip I was hoping it would be fine while I commuted on it while the FrankenMonster was in the shop for it’s 100,000 mile service.

Long story short: It was great if a bit loud.

The real test was when I left it at my parents for a week due to last minute motorcycle swapping. I had high hopes that it would start after a week of siting idle. Luckily for me and my friends I was meeting to ride with it started easily.

So what happened to the Battery?

I have two thoughts:

One, is the USB charger that is rumored to drain batteries over weeks or days, that was left on the bike probably did drain the battery.

Two, I will have to get the bike out after a month or so and see if it starts to prove the above .

The suspect. Which couldn’t mess with the ST2 since I moved it to my bike when mine died.


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