Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Prez Sez, by Gary Johnson

Hello Autobahners! Wow, it will be July when you read this, and we all know how fast summer disappears after the 4th. I hope all of you had a good 4th.

I'm planning on riding to Chippewa Falls, WI., for the BMWRA Rally. The BMWMOA Rally is just too far away for someone with little vacation time and even less money! I have the new front tire on the old RT and will be putting in the Autolite 3923's and hope everything else holds together for the trip.

I guess you all know about the Hawes' 80th Anniversary coming up (has it really been that long?) That should be fun. It will be a good time to see old and new friends that I haven't seen in awhile. Wow, 80 years! :)

It has been a busy summer, with too little riding time. Too much rain, too much mowing, too many other distractions. Maybe July and August will be better. Keep riding, keep smiling, stay safe.

See you soon. Gary.

Member Profile - Scott Taylor

I’m Scott Taylor – a recent member to the Autobahn Society. I joined last spring after purchasing a blue and white 2004 BMW R1150GS. I’ve been working at Wells Fargo for the last 12 years as a programmer in student loans. My wife, Marcelle, and I and our two children Autumn (5 years) and Mitchell (4 years) live in Brandon, SD. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I graduated from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1996.

My first bike was a 1992 Kawasaki Ninja 600R, followed by a new red Honda CBR600F4 in 1999. At the time, I had the choice between the CBR600F4 and a red 1999 VFR800 Interceptor. Eventually, I grew to regret not buying the VFR800 because of some of its advantages over the F4. It was more Sport Touring orientated, had a center stand, EFI, and single-sided swing arm. I sold the CBR600F4 about the time my wife and I were expecting our first child. I held out a while, but eventually bought a 2002 Victory V92C in the spring of 2008.

I’ve been interested in cruisers, sport, and sport touring motorcycles for some time, but my focus has since changed to adventure sport motorcycles after reading numerous books and articles and (most notably) watching the “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” documentaries with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.

The BMW GS has been the favorite motorcycle I’ve owned for a number of reasons. It’s large, comfortable, has heated grips, the saddle bags are great, and it is one of BMW’s most popular models so aftermarket parts and accessories are available. As mentioned earlier, I also appreciate having the center stand which my first bike had and I’ve missed ever since.

I haven’t had much opportunity to tour yet, aside from a trip to the Black Hills in the summer of 2010 for a fresh set of tires at Sturgis BMW and a quick tour through Custer State Park. As I write this, I’m planning a trip to Minneapolis for service at Moon Motorsports and on to Duluth, MN, to visit the Aerostich Rider Warehouse. I plan on purchasing a pair of Darien Pants and (if budget allows) maybe the jacket too. I may also do the North Shore drive along Lake Superior. I look forward to meeting you all in the future.

Little Flock, Dave McBride & Arkansas, by Tom Meister

“What the flock” do these words have to do with each other?? “What the flock” in deed. I will try to explain.

Dave and I have known each other for over thirty-five years but have never ridden together – anywhere. Dave has a history of dirty, non-shining motorcycles. I on the other hand I like clean, polished motorcycles. So why Dave did this to me has me puzzled??? Was he jealous of my much older but much shinier BMW or of my brand new silver riding jacket? ”What the flock!”

We were both attending the Missouri BMW Rally this last weekend at Crane, Missouri. I wanted to go to Bentonville BMW in Bentonville, Arkansas, to ask some questions and maybe spend some money on my Shiny Red RT. I have never been in this area in my life so I rode down in a group ride. We rode over 90 miles on nice, clean, curvy, PAVED ROADS.

Bentonville BMW served grilled brats and hamburgers. Life is good! I wanted to ask the parts lady some questions about my Shiny Red RT so I got in line – a long line. Finally it was my turn. Parts lady didn’t know the answers about my Shiny Red RT so she put me in 1st place in line #2. Waited some more. Mean while the group ride leaves to return to Crane, Missouri, without me. NOT GOOD. After speaking with the shop manager and not buying anything, my biker buddy Dave walked up and wanted to know if I wanted to ride back with him to Crane. “Why the flock not”, I said to myself, because I really could not have found my way back because of all the different roads – PAVED ROADS - we took to get to Bentonville.

Three BMWs in front of us turned left after leaving the dealer’s parking lot. Dave and Shiny Red RT turned right. “What the flock”, I thought. Oh, well, Biker Buddy Dave has been here many, many times and has a GPS to guide us home. The road ahead looked good, not much traffic, curves, this could be fun. Soon the road narrows and starts to become rougher. Dave pushes on with Shiny Red RT behind him. Then to my horror the road turns to gravel, rough gravel, dusty gravel. Shiny Red RT does not like gravel. I do not like gravel. Dave and his confused companion press on. The ride continues. The road gets rrrrrougher and bbbbbumpier. I am eating dust – Biker Buddy Dave’s dust. We came to a dead end! A “flocking” dead end with a GPS???

The ride continues. Came to an intersection with gravel in all four directions. Biker Buddy Dave is peering into the GPS like it was a magic “flocking” crystal ball. Companion on Very Dusty Red RT wants to use his boot to adjust the GPS or Biker Buddy Dave on the pick of roads. I yell at FORMER Biker Buddy Dave, “Where in ‘flocking’ hell does it say GS on Dusty Red RT???” We continue on for more miles and finally come to a paved road that I remember. Yes, we are on the same road & going in the same direction that we took to Bentonville. The sign ahead of us says we are very near Little Flock, Arkansas, not Crane, Missouri.

Confused rider on Very Dirty Red RT and no longer clean new silver riding jacket wonders “where in the flock” is Little Flock, Arkansas? After many more miles former Biker Buddy Dave turns onto a road I recognize going back to Crane and the rally site.

After arriving home Sunday night I drained all my oils and removed my saddle bags. I have custom made limited edition mufflers on Dirty Red RT. The left one was ready to fall off. If I ever go riding with Biker Buddy Dave again it will be with a “flocking” GS. And Dave can follow me.

Motorcycle Trip to Alaska for the Summer by Gary Pedersen

(Ed.Note: Gary lives in Chester, SD,and spends his summers in Alaska working as a guide.)

I left Chester May 26th for this year’s trip to Alaska. I found a new short cut and my first stop was the Spam Museum in Austin, MN. The museum is on the “should do list” for anyone going to or from the Money Creek Rally. It is actually interesting - for me anyway. But then I do keep Spam in my tank bag.

After the Spam Museum I headed south to Anamosa, IA, and the National Motorcycle Museum. This museum is a definite MUST DO for anyone reading this article. There is a Super 8 Motel across the street and Wapsipinicon State Park is nearby for those who prefer to tent it. I spent three hours in the museum and then headed in the general direction of Indianapolis. I spent most of the afternoon on roads that weren’t on my map and spent the night in Rantoul, IL. The best part of the day was the absolute lack of wind. I had no idea how much trouble the wind would be for the next several days.

I got to Indy on Saturday at noon and helped with the preparations for the Saturday night party. The people that I stay with live about a mile from the front gate of the Indy 500 Track and Saturday night is a big deal. The race was great as always with several of the antique race cars used as honorary pace cars this year.

I left Indianapolis early May 30th and headed back to Chester. By 10:00 am the cross wind was terrible. I had no idea that the cross wind would last until Missoula. I stopped at a couple of rest areas to ease the pain in my neck from hanging onto the handle bars. My mileage had dropped to 45 mpg, and that is very bad for an F650GS. I know what Gary Johnson was dealing with.
I had just worked my way through a large group of lemmings as I was coming to Iowa City (lemmings: a large group of vehicles traveling as a pack on the Interstate at the same speed). I noticed a DS (DS is the politically correct abbreviation for a dumb s--t) in a four door S10 Blazer on the ramp with a box spring and mattress on the roof with one orange tie down on it. The DS will get to the Interstate in front of me if I don’t speed up considerably. As the DS gets under the overpass and hits the wind the box spring and mattress pop up at about a 45 degree angle to his roof. When I get far enough ahead to check my mirrors, sure enough, the tie down breaks and the box spring and mattress each land in a lane. In my mirrors I see vehicles in the ditch, the median, the word FORD (reversed) on the tailgate of a pickup, and lots of dust. I did not stop.
I spent the day riding west until my neck got stiff and then north for a ways, then west, then north. I finally ended up on I-90 and was out of north. As I was coming to Blue Earth, MN, I could see a huge black, green and blue wall with lots of psychedelic light flashes to the west. That can’t be good. It was 5:30 pm so I stopped at a Dairy Queen for something to eat and to check the news and weather. No radio, no TV, but one of the other customers had an I-Phone and checked the weather for me. The radar screen on his phone was also wild and the voice on the phone was talking about grapefruit sized hail and wind gusts in excess of 80 mph east of Mitchell. I knew I couldn’t make Chester before the storm so I stayed in Blue Earth that night.

May 31st I got to Chester about 10:30 am for my scheduled pit stop. I changed the oil and filter, changed the chain and sprockets (yes Toto, this BMW has a chain), changed the rear tire, did laundry and went to supper at Buffalo Trading Post. This is a culinary delight that I suspect many of you have missed. Tuesday nights are 50 cent taco nights at Buffalo Trading Post and the tacos are a reasonable size and quite good. Bet you can’t eat just one. I spent Wednesday getting the house ready for summer and visiting my mother-in-law and my folks.

June 2nd I left for Portland, OR, another shortcut on my way to Alaska. Our youngest son had called and wanted to know if I could detour through Portland. He had just bought a 2005 R1200GS and wanted to ride to Alaska with me. Another BMW convert from the sport bike set. Yes! The wind was again against me as I headed west. I had also tried 511 on the phone for some non-interstate roads and every road that I was looking at was closed due to flooding. I spent a boring day on I-90 noticing a lot of high water and stayed in Gillette, WY, that night.

June 3rd my 650 decided to have issues. It didn’t want to start cold, and once warmed up it didn’t want to idle. I had again checked 511 and again the roads I wanted to take were closed to either flooding or too much snow. I started at 6:00 am to get out before the wind, but it didn’t work. The wind was already up. I hate wind. I stayed on I-90 all day and spent the night in Missoula.

June 4th, the 650 was having issues again, but what a great day to ride. Lolo Pass is open!!! I got to do Lolo Pass for the 4th time and I finally got it right. The first three times didn’t count. Why? Twice in my mega cage (motorhome) and once in my little cage (Saturn SL) really don’t count. I found myself doing 60 to 65 mph several times coming out of corners which is not good in a 45 to 50 mph speed limit area. I have always seen ID Highway Patrol Cars on Lolo Pass, but I was lucky and did not get a formal written welcome to ID. I got to Graingeville, ID early in the afternoon and was able to spend the night with a retired friend and fellow BMW rider from Alaska.

We left West Linn Thursday afternoon, June 9th, and stayed in Seattle that night at his girlfriend’s apartment. We went from Portland to Seattle on back roads and probably beat the I-5 time by hours.
June 10th was on to Canada and the land of good roads. When we got to Cache Creek, BC, we almost didn’t get a place to stay. There was a weeklong celebration in progress call Graffiti Days. There were 300 to 500 hot rods and race cars in town, along with what looked like a very large RCMP convention. We each had “some” beers with supper and then went out to look at the cars. There was a gathering of the owners under our motel window and the owners wouldn’t take no for an answer. We had several more beers. The Canadians are a friendly bunch, eh.

June 11th we were back on the road and stopped at Smithers, BC, for the night. We had supper in a microbrewery/restaurant. They made four beers on site so we ordered a sampler. Each sample was a 12 oz. glass. Great place. We stopped about 90 miles short of Watson Lake for about an hour for a forest fire. At Watson Lake, my favorite place, The Air Force Lodge was full so we ended up in one of the more questionable motels.

June 13th was a long day, 640 miles. When we were getting gas at Destruction Bay there were 2 Harleys out front and 2 riders in the dining area. One was from Faulkton, SD, and one was from Willow Lake, SD. We had supper at Burwash Landing and got to watch a guy catch 2 very large lake trout from the dock. My son ordered the 24 oz schnitzel that he was sure was caribou. We got to Tok, AK about 11:00 pm. I normally wouldn’t have ridden that far, but we had reservations at the Golden Bear Motel and putting the frost heaves between Burwash Landing and the border behind us was good.

June 14th, the last day out, we only had 330 miles to go and only about 30 of those were under construction. We talked to another father and son group from IL at Glenn Allen when we got gas and coffee. We had lunch at Sheep Mountain Lodge and then rode on to Eagle River and the end of a great trip.

I must say, to ride with an ultra-marathon runner who happens to be a professional photographer was interesting. At each gas stop he was on his cell phone with his work, had to eat a large meal, and photo stops were always at least 30 to 45 minutes. To take this trip with one of my sons was the best motorcycle trip I have ever taken.

Notes From A Rally Virgin (Hiawatha Rally) by Gordon Courbat

On Friday, June 3rd, Jerry Zeeb and I met Dale Nordlie, Izzy Szkok and his wife Deb at Pilot and we headed out for The Hiawatha Rally at Money Creek Campground in Minnesota. At 8 am the weather looked pretty promising with the usual 30+mph winds. For most of the way I was following Izzy who was pulling a trailer with his R1200RT. When I saw him suddenly lurch to the left or right I braced myself for a turbulent gust of wind and did my best to ride through it. As I have mentioned to some of the coffee crowd since then, it is a strange and tense feeling when you are passing a semi while battling strong cross winds. As you approach them from the rear there is a sudden turbulence that grabs you and tries to push and pull you back and forth. Then as you near the back of the cab it sucks you in for a few seconds before blowing you in the opposite direction as you speed on past them. Hang on and throttle up was my best way of dealing with it. Man, dirt track racing was relatively safe compared to this. Was I having fun yet? Well, I kept telling myself, “I think I am”. All was going along pretty well until we neared the I-35 crossing at Albert Lee when it started to sprinkle and then it turned to rain as we rode into Austin. It’s kind of fun riding in the rain as long as you can see where you are going. I got a kick out of people’s expressions as you passed them in their cars. They look at you like you are “nuts”! And, it occurred to me that maybe they were right?! Oh well, as long as you get a little rush and have some fun, right?

Somewhere after leaving I-90 and turning onto Hwy. 16 we stopped for lunch at Tootsie’s. After eating we stepped outside and the sun was now shining bright and the humidity had shot up quite a bit. From here on the roads got more interesting as we wound our way around the twisties leading into Money Creek. The campground and facilities were really nice and pretty well filled up as we arrived. The Autobahn group was camped out right near the entry so we didn’t have to look for them.

(I’ll try to shorten this up for all of you who have attended these rallies and know the routines.) Pitch the tents, take a break and have a beer, discuss the day’s journeys, drink some more beer, etc., etc. and look forward to dinner time. Vege soup and hotdogs……. and some more beer. Worked for me, although I’m not a big drinker. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just don’t handle it well. Especially when I’m around bikes. Great people, enjoyable conversation and just a relaxing good time.

Sunday morning I woke up about 6am looking forward to some hot coffee and a little breakfast to start the day. As I headed toward the pavilion I met some people returning from there who said an electrical breaker had blown during the night and those big urns of coffee were stone cold. Wouldn’t be ready for quite a while yet. Oh well, go back to camp and start getting things together was my next thought. Back at camp I grabbed my towel and toilet items and headed for the shower. By the time I got back to the tent some of the others already had tents torn down and their bags packed. How did they do that so quickly? I expected everyone would be sitting around drinking coffee, shooting the bull and getting ready for the day ahead. Wrong! These guys were packed up and ready to roll?#* What was the rush, we had all day? Maybe I’m just a slow starter.
In summary: Naturally, after I get home I pull out the program prepared by the BMW Owners Club of Minn. and learn about all the events that I missed. Polish Cultural Institute, Ed’s Museum, Harmony Toy Museum, etc., etc. And I am told, let’s not forget that this is the area where the world’s SPAM is made! There was one opportunity missed .

All in all a great time, wonderful people and a lot of neat bikes. I realize I was caught up in the mechanics of the thing (how to tie all that camping stuff on this damn bike, I just bought an air mattress but no pump, will my saddle bags leak in the rain, how do you keep from having such a sore butt and so on). With a little more practice I can figure this thing out. Hope to see you at another rally one day soon and I’m always open to your helpful suggestions. Enjoy the wind in your face, the beautiful scenery flying by and the comfort in knowing that the next gas stop is coming up soon. Be safe and enjoy the ride.