Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Gladius as a Dual Sport?

At first the plan was a day trip to Coos Bay to see my mom and surprise my brother. After looking at maps Troubadour thought it would be fun to stay overnight and play on some of the back roads in Southern Oregon since we aren't down that way very often.

There were a few routes we could take to Coos Bay and Troubadour opted for the less direct more twisty route. I was hesitant about the route. The first part was over Wolf Creek and I'd only been that way once before and it was riding pillion on the America. I didn't have fun that day. The road was real twisty up and down and there was a nice cliff on one side. Those kind of roads have always scared the bejeezus out of me.

DAY 1:

I hadn't been on the bike in a few weeks so I wasn't as fast through the twisty route as Troubadour thought I could be but I made it in one piece and that was my main focus. The second section of road was Smith River Road and it was much nicer. One lane through the forest and not too rough. Few pictures were taken before we arrived in Coos Bay since we were racing the clock. We were going to take my mom out for lunch and didn't want to run too late.

We arrived in Coos Bay without incident. Two things I learned from riding on Wednesday:

1) The tinted face shield was not the best option for meandering roads that are switching between brilliant sunshine and dark forest overhangs. I hadn't brought a clear shield as a spare so I rode with it up a little so I could watch for debris and road hazards; and

2) I'm pretty good at navigating. If we are outside I can tell you which direction we are heading and get us where we need to go. If I was inside a mall, it would be a different story. I get all turned around inside.

We had a nice visit with my mom. Turns out my brother was out of State on business so we didn't get to surprise him. I guess the surprise will be he missed our visit.

DAY 2:

Thursday came and we headed off about 9:30 am or so. The roads heading towards Powers were fine. There was a bit of road construction and the one section that we were guided by pilot car was more difficult. Gravel, wet road surface and ruts in the road. I really had to pick my lines. Second gear and steady on the throttle. Just passed Powers we stopped for snacking and shedding some layers. We started out with jeans under our riding pants and switched to shorts and I also took the quilted liner out of my riding pants.

This was one of our favorite spots to soak up some sunshine.

I even tested the self timer on the Canon. We've had it for over a year and I don't think we'd ever used that feature.

Back on the bikes we went. At this point I was having a blast and the roads were great. I knew we had a turn off onto the forest service road and thought the road might be like the ones we had ridden on Wednesday. I was in for a bit of a surprise.

To say that they were rough and twisty would be an understatement. When Troubadour said his Tiger would eat those roads up and love them he was right. I found them a little tedious and annoying on the Gladius. The suspension on the Gladius is made for nice smooth surfaces. It is not set up for rough roads full of dips and ruts, chip seal, big bumps, frost heaves, sections of gravel and debris. I was bouncing out of the saddle for most of the day. Sometimes it was just a matter of holding on tighter to steady the bike and at other times I was to gripping the bars as my butt had once again bounced clear off the seat.

The seat on the Gladius is tilted slightly into the gas tank so every bounce drove me a little further into it. I had to push back with both my hands on the bars and my feet on the pegs. This also proceeded to drive my bony knees into the hard armor of my riding pants.

For a couple of miles the forest service had come by and cut down the brush and tree limbs that were overhanging the road. They left the debris where it fell in the road. The Tiger ran right over it like it wasn't there. I was trying to pick my lines over the smallest bits of branches. Every once in a while the front tire would slip sideways but always grabbed right away. One limb I clipped the edge of came up and smacked me in the foot.

Luckily Troubadour took pity on me so there were lots of stops along the 57 mile stretch. Stops also meant photo opportunities.

We eventually made it to Glendale. I was so glad to be off the mountain. I had been riding with a numb right hand for many miles so it was nice to stop. My arms were achy, my shoulders sore and my knees felt like they were bleeding from rubbing on the armor. There were no gas stations in Glendale but they had a little grocery store. Troubadour managed to find a bit of shade across the street and consulted the map while I went inside for cold drinks, Advil for him and Aleve for me.

We were a few miles from I-5 and we knew Wolf Creek Lodge was about 4 miles south on I-5. The map showed no road linking the two locations except for I-5. The GPS on the other hand had other ideas. It showed a road linking the two. We gave it a try.

A little ways up the road it turned to rough road and then eventually a steep uphill narrow dirt track. Troubadour radioed for me to stay put while he scouted it out ahead. Judging from what I could see I knew we wouldn't be going further and attempted a left hand u-turn. I say attempted because I didn't get all the way through the turn when the bike got a little high centered on a hump and stopped. I made the exhausted rookie mistake of putting my left foot down (on the low side). The ground was too far away and by the time my foot touched it was too far leaned over to save it. Max had had enough of the day and decided to nap then and there. It seems even gladiators get tired after a long day.

It was easy for me to get out of the way, but man was I ever ticked at myself. All those forestry rough roads and I dropped the damn thing less than 10 miles from our destination. I'd like to blame the GPS for leading us down the primrose path, but I know it was me. I radioed Troubadour and let him know my bike was on it's side and I didn't mean the side stand. My first thoughts were "oh crap, he isn't supposed to lift more than 40 lbs". Luckily I knew enough to grab under the seat and bars and walk it to stand it up. Troubadour assisted and it was easier than I thought. I didn't get any pictures but wish I had at least got one of where it occurred.

The only damage to Max was the long peg feeler broke off the left foot peg and the left hand guard is a little cracked on the bottom. The frame sliders did their job and the rest of the bike doesn't even have a scratch.

Back on the bikes and out to I-5 we went. We arrived at Wolf Creek Inn/Tavern and managed to secure a room. Dinner wasn't great but we wandered around a bit after and stretch our legs and took a few pictures.

The benches on the front porch looked inviting so we stopped to relax and enjoy the wildlife. Well, not so much wild since it was just a hummingbird drinking from the crocosmia.

Three things I learned while riding on Thursday:

1) A Gladius is not a dual sport;
2) If your GPS tells you there is a road connecting two points, but it doesn't show on your map - go with the map; and
3) Shit happens and all bikes will nap eventually. Suck it up and move on.

DAY 3:

Friday we woke just after 6 am and puttered around until 8 when the Inn started serving breakfast. It was included in our stay so we thought we'd check it out. Vegetarian options were limited, but the server was nice and let us switch out the bacon, sausage, ham option with our french toast and substitute in hash browns. It was nothing to write home about.

We went back to the room, gathered our gear, loaded the bikes and headed out.

I felt much more alert and was ready for the day. Troubadour assured me the worst of the roads was behind us and he was correct.

He was really interested in Cow Creek Road so we went back up I-5 to Glendale, turned onto Cow Creek Road and stopped for that now famous sign. I knew it wouldn't be a long break so I didn't even take off my helmet.

It was a great road and a lot of fun. We zig zagged down roads going across I-5, trying to avoid the interstate as much as possible. We made it to Highway 99E only to find it went through a bunch of towns. When we found a Starbucks in Roseburg stopping at all the stoplights and slowing through towns was worth it. We'd been looking for a coffee shop for more than a day with no luck. After a nice iced coffee and another look at the map we headed off. We decided to make up some time and booked it onto I-5 for 10 miles or so.

The other place he wanted to find was the Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park. We wanted to see some peacocks. Apparently they aren't as attracted to Triumphs and Suzukis as they are to Yamahas since many more surrounded Dani when she visited.

It was a welcome break even though there wasn't much shade. We managed to get a few pictures.

There was even an interesting tree. It seems when your wood is this big and old you need a little support.

From there we did a few more miles of I-5 then meandered up Territorial Highway to Veneta. With 150 miles on Max I needed petrol to get home. We realized it was after 2 pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. Must have been the iced coffee sustaining us. We ate some vegetarian jerky,almonds, a granola bar, and guzzled a liter of water between us. We rested for about a half an hour and were off again.

We made it home by 4 pm. Basil was happy to see us and ready to go outside. We brought all our gear in and relaxed until I finally made some dinner about 7 pm. Salmon burgers and sweet potato fries tasted really good at this point.

Two things I learned on Friday:

1) Twisty roads are much better when rested and alert; and
2) It is important to stop for snack breaks and to stay hydrated.

That said, we had a great 3 days. It was nice to see some new places and ride some roads we'd never been on before. Yes I would do it again. I had a lot of fun, but I don't think I want to put knobbies on Max any time soon and turn him into a dual sport. Although, it sure felt like he was one on Thursday.

- Au Revoir

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." ~ Frank A. Clark

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Goodbye Summer

Goodbye Summer, we enjoyed you while you lasted.

Not sure where the warm dry weather has gone, but it sure didn't stick around long. Maybe it headed East. I hear they are having droughts and heat waves in that direction. It seems that Mother Nature is a bit bipolar the last few months. I really think it is time for her to up her medication and become more stable. I'd like a summer this year.

Not much to blog about as we haven't been doing much except working. No riding on two wheels as we wait for Troubadour to recover. We are hoping that tomorrow the surgeon will clear him for take off.

The rain has returned. Not as bad as it was in Spring but still makes us all a little grumpy and moping around like sad pandas. The one good thing about the rain returning is that we don't have to water the yard.

We haven't taken many pictures lately. We are still researching cameras and haven't actually purchased another yet.

Basil has decided he doesn't like the rain either. Rather than go outside he prefers to lay on the area rug between the coffee table and sofa and hide his eyes to block it all out. I'm inclined to agree with him.

Right now the weather is about 20˚F below our average. It is 61˚ out there now and we are used to over 80˚ at this time of year. The weather man says the warm dry weather will return by the end of the week. I won't hold my breath.... move over Basil, I think I'll join you.

- Au Revoir

"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy." ~ Anton Chekhov


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hot Weather and Hot Cars

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. After riding to coffee a group of us rode over to Philomath to wander around their annual Classic Car Show. It was 11:30 by the time we arrived and the sun was high in the sky. I am not complaining after the spring we've had, but it would have been nice to ease into our hot weather instead of going right from 65˚ to 90˚.

We stored our gloves and buffs in the tail bag of the tiger, took off our jackets and donned ball caps to protect our noggins from the sun. We carried our jackets around since we had no way to secure them to the bikes and didn't trust all the riff-raff wandering around.

What follows are some of the photographs I took with the Fuji camera. I actually took 125 photographs in about an hour and a half. Bobskoot would be proud. Some came out fine, others needed a little doctoring, but at least you get the idea of the kinds of cars represented.



(This Saab is the owner's daily driver)


(This truck just looked odd with the hood slightly up)



(For you Irondad - I took another picture of "that guy")

- Au Revoir

" Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it." ~ Russel Baker