Goldwing Road Trip - June 2005
07/02/05 - Today ended a great vacation with its share of thrills. I intended to leave on June 15 or 16. But as I was leaving work on June 14th, a block from work the front tire was wobbling severely. I honestly thought it might come off at only 20 mph. I headed back to work. The wheel could move nearly 1/16 of and inch along the axle. The only thing to do to avoid more possible damage was to tow it home. So I hitched a ride with my boss back home. I rented a Ford F-250 truck and an 8 foot trailer. After $300 for straps and rental fees, the bike was safely in the garage. It turned out that the axle nut was just not torqued properly. But since one bearing had a little slop in it, I decided to replace them both and the seals too. That took a day for them to arrive from Reno on Thursday. Here is a shot of the wheel being heated thoroughly enough to remove the pressed in bearings. Here's the bike awaiting the front wheel in my garage. One of the front disk brakes got new pads as they were about 60% worn. After getting it all together, I started a test ride and noticed that the dash had no lighting. A fuse had actually mechanically failed. It was not blown, but open circuited after 20+ years.
So I ended up leaving town on June 17th tired and sore from getting the bike packed and repaired. But I was finally going!!! I took several friends phone numbers with me that live in Sacramento just in case of more problems or even fatigue on my part. It rained on the way to Sacramento. As it turns out, I rode long and well that day. A fuel and stretch stop in Auburn and I was ready to tackle the Sierra's. Here are some pics of a beautiful drive coming down out of the Sierra's approaching Reno. 1, 2, 3. There are some antique railroad trestles and tracks on the way. Here is a closeup of a covered portion of the railroad tracks against the mountainside. The temperature was very cool. Maybe 40 degrees at the top of Donner. All I had to do was crank up the heat on my Gerbing heated jacket and enjoy the scenery. There was snow everywhere except the roads were dry.
Things warmed up in Reno nicely. I pushed on toward my goal of Winnemucca Nevada. When I got there mid afternoon, I called my dad on the cell to let him know my progress. I felt good enough that I headed out for Elko Nevada, 128 miles further. I arrived there early evening, tired and with a screaming headache. The helmet was pressing on my forehead, making me very uncomfortable. My back was killing me too. Oddly enough, Elko had a biker rally full of Harleys and I arrived on a Honda. I fueled up and I stayed at one end of town at the Hilton Garden Inn. I needed the pampering as I was beat! Saturday morning I got up and refilled my cooler with ice. The cooler had a CamelBak bladder in it for sipping water while on the road. Got the idea from an old time Goldwing rider at Road Rider in San Jose. Worked oh so well! I had no luck finding a better fitting helmet at the first bike shop, so I headed off to the local Yamaha shop to see if they could help. Bruce, the service fellow, and I took the handle of a hammer and reshaped the forehead of my helmet interior so it would not press on my brain to hard. Worked perfectly the rest of the trip. Bruce said that was his first helmet "adjustment". A great thanks to Bruce at Yamaha of Elko for saving my bacon. Left at 9:30 am Saturday morning.
Saturday, the ride went well. It was only 430 miles. Nevada had such strong winds that at one point I had a hard time breathing inside my full face helmet when the wind was blowing in from my left. It was like sticking your head out the window of a car at 100 mph. I had to turn my face into the oncoming wind so I would not choke. Cruising through Utah, I noticed that they had the most beautiful red rock formations right next to the highway. Here's the view of a nice reservoir at a Utah rest area. They had built highway 80 around Salt Lake. I was looking for the Goodyear store that was so helpful 19 years ago when my car seized a wheel bearing. But the bypass was swift and efficient, so I never got to see any of Salt Lake City. Here are some shots of the Great Salt Lake itself that highway 80 passes right through the center of. 1, 2, 3. It's just incredible to me that old time explorers trekked across this land on foot. Wyoming by far had the warmest weather of the ride. So I had to put on my summer gear at a fuel stop some distance past Rock Springs. Much better! Now I can enjoy the incredible clear air and blue sky that they have there. Just before my destination of Rock Springs, there is a tunnel that I tried to honk my horns in. They sounded very weak. I though they might have been packed with the tiny green bug splatter marks that were all over the front of the bike. I headed to a car wash to rinse them out. Didn't help. So after I checked in at the Comfort Inn, I took the horns out and retuned them to resonate correctly. They have worked great ever since. I was spread out in a 3 bedroom apartment. It was old and not that great, but the space was great. The AC was weak. Nice computer set up in the lobby for internet use though.
Sunday morning I ate at Village Inn of Rock Springs. They had seriously slow service. Good food though. At least one business owner in Rock Springs has a sense of humor. As I was heading down the road I noticed that the speedometer was reading zero on the digital display. Crud. I pulled over at the next exit, found a shady spot, and figured out that the speedo clutch was just not turning the electronic sending unit. This was too big of a job to fix there. So off I went for 300 miles without a speedometer. Turns out I was going way faster trying to judge my speed by the tach, as proven by my huge decrease in gas mileage. I also had been noticing that none of the truckers would talk to me. Hmmm. Have to check out the CB sometime. Some distance before Laramie was this nice rest area closeup of the mountains. Here is the same mountain shot from the rest area parking lot. Climbing out of Laramie was interesting. I had to downshift to 4th to make the grade at a decent speed. Along the way I took these shots of some wind generators, to prove that even cowboys are high tech too! With the road construction, there was only 1 lane open in each direction. So the climb to 8600 feet was slow. Very nice countryside though. Green for miles!! Windy like you can't believe at times on the open prairie. Both hands were needed on the handlebars.
I arrived in Pine bluffs Wyoming where my sister Katt and here family live. We all spent lots of memorable time in that town as kids. Since there was lots of daylight left, my sister whisked me off to the local reservoir to hang with her kids and friends. That evening, I parked my bike in their terrific shop to work on the speedometer problem the next day. It was the speedo clutch as I thought. The metal drive ring was slipping across what was left of the plastic speedo drive gear. On the right of the image you can see the drive ring on top of the bearing with it's blue seal. The left side of the image you can just make out the gouging of the plastic drive gear where they are suppose to engage. I bent the metal ring upwards away from the bearing to more tightly engage the plastic part. It worked fine. But I ordered a new assy from Bikebandit.com and had it delivered to my Dad's in Denver. While in town I toured around and took pictures of my grandmother's old house and my cousin's old place. My cousin's old home had been meticulously restored. Gram's house had been purchased from the Gross's years before to house some of their ranch hands. Katt still has Gram's old 52 Chevy that still runs. To this day, people still pull clear over to the curb as my grandmother use to always drive right down the middle of the road! I hung out and ate with all of the Gross's at their respective homes. What a treat. Nicest people in the world. Even rode around on a huge wheat chopper with Greg for several hours. We caught up on old times. Here is their cattle brand put up on one of their ranch buildings. It's called the open box, reverse L. In 1975 Greg and I took this old 1946 Ford truck and carpeted the interior to make it warmer for the ranch hands. We used Liquid nails from a caulking gun. The carpet was still barely attached after 30 years!!! What an endorsement!
I had noticed that the bike's starter was turning over a little slow as well. My usual fix is to just dump out the carbon particles from the brushes wearing. When I reinstalled the starter, it was even worse. The second time I tore it down I had forgotten to install the front bearing! That produced a few extra aluminum filings. Now the starter was completely croaked. I tried assembling and disassembling it a total of 4 times. As the cliche goes "It's dead Jim!". I quickly got onto Ebay and verified that the fellow selling new starters could actually get it to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming overnight. He said he could, but it would cost $50 from UPS. I Paypaled him the funds. Sure enough the starter arrived the next day on Thursday at 11am. Man it spun that motor over faster than I have ever heard it in the past. I am very grateful for the use of Stuart's tools and shop while he was away. It made the work vastly easier. So Thursday in the early afternoon, I packed up. Before I left I got some great pictures of 4 year old Douglas Michael and 6 year old Melisa Kate on the Goldwing. They looked very comfortable on that bike. Here's a shot of me and Katt. I showed Mellisa how to use the camera and she took that picture of Katt and I. She also took this pic during her camera training. Here's the kids with scruffy old Uncle Mike. Here is the Fornstom family's happy watch dog, Milliken. He was named that because the kid's dad, Stuart, found him abandoned at a truck stop in Milliken Colorado. He's a great watch dog. He even barked at me for coming home late from Gross's looking like a Power Ranger in my bike gear.
I headed to the south end of Denver to see my Dad. It was an easy 2.5 hour ride. But the part of I-25 called T-Rex was a joke. Hot, slow and uneven. But at least I got there. Friday morning, the speedometer part arrived. Dad let me use his garage to take the front wheel off and replace the marginal part. By this time I was an expert at getting the front wheel and the brakes on and off without a hitch. The new part mated about 90% as well as the old one. So I'll have to look at it when I get back home. I spent the next few days eating and chatting with Dad and Judy. It was great seeing them again. Judy's computer is in the guest room, so I had web access. Dad has a thriving home business and Judy is working herself to death. In fact she was short of breath and had to have an EKG at the hospital. She was ok, but very tired from 6 day work weeks. Dad worked hard to finish the basement into his home office. Very nice. The upstairs was changed from 3 bedrooms to 2 bedrooms and a huge walk in closet.
Monday I headed over to stay at my Mom's for a few days. I missed seeing Brad as he was out of town. It was great seeing Mom. She had both knee's replaced and was quite mobile. Out front of the house was a rabbit that Brad normally fed every evening. Mom tossed him his carrot and we watched him munch it down. Mom worked during the day so I ran over to Dad's or Grandma Thomas's to visit. Gram was recovering and was needing food and hydration. So I got her some grape Gatorade. We had lunch. She liked her Pattymelt sandwich at the Village Inn. One evening all of us except for Gram, went over to see my sister Denise and her family. She made us a great dinner. Mom said I had an etticate problem :) It was great seeing us all together again. That night I stayed at Mom's and we just visited. We compared our sleep apnea dental devices. Now I know I'm getting old! She wants to get one like mine. The next day I went to see gram and then headed over to see my friend Dale and his family. We went to the old Casa Bonita with the cliff divers. Still good food. Sopapias are the best. Dale told me how easy it is to get a semi into the airport as the security is really not very good. I then dashed home to beat the darkness because my visor and shades were tinted.
Since the 4th of July weekend was coming I contemplated calling my boss to extend the vacation. But decided to be responsible and leave Denver on Thursday, June 30th. I decided to take the back way that my Dad and Katt had mentioned was so nice. It's mostly ranching and farm land. Here's a great pic of an old abandoned farm house that I made a u-turn to get the shot. Looks like the whole spread was left long ago. I arrived back in Pine Bluffs where we all hooked up for lunch and my final departure. Hard to hold the tears back for old Uncle Mike. Stuart suggested I stay in Evanston Wyoming. That was perfect as that would put me into Winnemucca and give me a 400 mile ride each day. That made the return trip nice and easy. Although the hotter it got the more my butt didn't like the sitting for long periods. That will have to be investigated. Later when I got back into Elko Nevada for fuel, there was a group of seniors driving old hot rods. Nice rides. 1, 2, 3.
The drive back to San Jose through Utah and Nevada was hot in the mid 90's. I kept my T-shirt under my mesh jacket wet with a pressurized mister. It worked ok. Next time I'll try one of those cooling vests with the crystals. Folks on the Motorcycle Touring Forum seem to favor them. Sounds like they are easy to make as well.
That ends the tale of my great adventure. It's the beginning of a period of competing against myself rather than against the whole world. So far so good....