You would think that whilst living in Ohio, I would be used to long winters. Unfortunately, I don't think I was quite prepared for the length of this winter. It did not help that with my job, I changed locations, leading to a longer commute to work.
We had more snow this year than I can remember. I believe that Columbus, Ohio averages some 18 inches of snow per year. This year, so far, we are almost at 60! As you can imagine, there have been weeks this season, where I have not been able to ride. On the days I was able to ride, the lowest temperature was 6 degrees.
From a warmth perspective, I do have Hippo Hands on my handle bars. These motorcycle muffs are so good, that I have been able to wear my spring/fall Held gloves all winter. The Hippo Hands block the wind, while the thinner leather on the palms of the gloves, allow for my hands to feel the heat from the heated grips without the wind chill from the moving air. I hope to be able to take the Hippo Hands off soon!
Additionally, I picked up an Under Armour Infrared Jacket to completely block the little wind that comes through my Klim Latitude Jacket/Pants. With my normal business dress, Under Armour Jacket and Klim over gear, I have just enough cold weather protection for a 20 mile commute. Any further and I think I'd need a car!
There was a period, where the bike had to sit for a few weeks and I placed it on a battery tender. Unfortunately, when I went to start the bike, I ran in to a couple of issues. Not least of which, was that my key was no longer recognized by my bike. In continuing to try and start the bike, I drained the battery.
First step was to replace the battery. Next step was to research the immobilization ring around the ignition of the bike. From a great deal of reading, I understood that the failure of this ring was prevalent. I purchased the part and while it was in transit, I did find an article about the plastic key that comes with the bike. There are 3 keys you receive with the F800. Two "normal" metal keys and one plastic key. Each has a chip in them, which is recognized by the bike. Only a key that is matched with the bike can start it. Both my metal keys would no longer start the bike.
Thinking that the plastic key was only to secure a replacement key, I never bothered to try it. When I did get around to trying it, the bike started right away. I then tried again with the metal keys and low and behold, they both now started the bike. Somehow, the plastic key also can reset the system. I kept the part I ordered just in case and now have the "plastic" key in a secure spot on my jacket.
Finally, on March 7th, which may be the first time since mid-November, I was able to ride to work in above freezing temperatures. I note that for me (and it could be related to age), the colder the temperature, the longer my reaction times and things just appear to be in slow motion. Even at 33 degrees, I could feel my level of confidence and reaction times increase exponentially.
Looking at the long term forecast, while we may not be out of the woods yet, I don't see many lows in the 20's or teens. That makes me smile!
Now to finish planning for a trip to Barryville in May and our summer trip to Nova Scotia.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
After Barryville this past spring, I noticed that my Kelty Gunnison tent had sprung some leaks. I spent a good amount of May and June, trying to figure out the best tent for my needs. While not backpacking, I wanted something small enough to fit in to the panniers. This was a lot more difficult and a lot more expensive than I thought it would be.
Eventually, I settled on a Nemo Obi 3p tent. It looks great. It's easy to set up. Because its a 3 person tent, it is definitely larger than my previous tent...though I think 3 adults would be a really, really, really tight squeeze.
The second thing I was looking at was my panniers. With the bare aluminum, everything was getting so dirty. So, I ended up painting the inside with some truck bed paint. This chipped the first time I put anything in to it, so I am pretty sure that post trip, I am going to need to repaint the interior again. Next time, I think I will try the rubberized paint.
Other camping modifications made...I downsized my camp bed. I had been using a self inflating REI bed, which was 3.5 inches think. It was really, very comfortable, but it only rolled up and ended being about 20" wide. Fine for my roll top dry bag, but too big for the pannier. I wanted something I could fit in to the pannier. I ended up with the Therm-a-Rest Neo Air self inflating. A little less think at 2.5 inches thick, but the R-Value is just as high at 4.5. Packs to 8 inches in width.
Next up was a new camp chair to replace the Larry Chair. The Larry chair will still be great for the pool, but for trips on the bike, it's just too big. Again, I wanted something to sit in the pannier and for this, I ended up with an REI Flex Lite chair.
So, everything will fit in to my pannier, except for my clothes, which will remain in a dry bag on the back of the bike.
Two additional "farkle" items purchased. On a trip a few weeks ago, I lost my GoPro camera. I had it attached to the engine guard and it broke off. I didn't want to risk losing my Nikon camera, so I purchased a Ram Camera mount.
The biggest new farkle item was the purchase and installation of a Garmin Montana 650t GPS and a lockable Touratech bracket. Talk about a bear to install. The first time through though, I had the wrong cross bar mount. I purchase an F800s bracket instead of a F800gs bracket. Once received, I began the installation. The bracket itself was fine to instal. The GPS to the battery was fine to install. But the lockable bracket to the mount and then the GPS charger in to the lockable mount, were compete bears to install. It took almost 3 hours to install. Some of the components were so small and fiddly and I ended up losing screws and nuts in to the engine area of the bike. Finally completed though and everything looks and works great.
On to route planning...
Saturday, May 18, 2013
It seems that the more I want to post, the less time I have. Today, I watched a clip of a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace, called This is Water.
I wish he had given this speech to me, when I graduated some 32 years ago. Many things might be more in perspective and I might, just might, be a little less stressed. That said, I do try and live my little dream in riding my GS. Today was one of those days. I had planned to leave early, but didn't actually get on the road until 10am. That in itself, would normally be enough to frustrate. No tantrums this time.
Perhaps the steady rain would dampen my spirits? Surprisingly not. On the contrary, the rain felt somewhat cathartic. So here I was, leaving late in a steady rain, on what was supposed to be a 300 mile round trip ride.
I believe that there are two main parts of the Wayne National Forest. One in the south central Ohio, around Athens, and the other further east, just north east of Marietta. It was this latter, for which I'd set my eyes on for some time. The roads in this part of south east Ohio always look appealing. The problem is, it's 130 miles just to get there...I'll I give it my best shot.
First up gas. Premium. $4.05 per gallon. Even at 50 mpg, that sucks. Next...expressways. There are not too many choices for getting out of Columbus quickly, so the expressway is your best bet. Just 15 miles though. Not bad. East on I-70 to SR 256 in Pickerington...the home of the American Motorcyclist Association and Museum...I didn't stop. Pickerington is a sprawling town, but at the heart is Old Pickerington and like many things, it's much nice than the newer parts of the town.
East on SR 256, until it meets with SR 13 South. You intersect SR 37, which I will need to be on, but at this point 37 is headed dead south to Lancaster and then heads east. 13, takes an angled approach and after Baltimore and Somerset, I will pick up SR 37 in New Lexington.
The countryside here is some of the best in Ohio. Rolling hills. Old farms and old barns. By this point, the rain had let up for the most part and just a few sprinkles remained. As I approached SR 555, The Triple Nickle, I was tempted to turn right and head for the Ohio River. 555 is a complex, difficult and dangerous road when it's dry. Being on my own, with wet roads, I pressed onward on 37.
Oh, what could have been. Pressing forward on 37, you go through McConnesville, where you pick up SR 60, which follows the Muskingum River toward Marietta.
Quick bio break in McConnesvile.
In Beverly, I wondered whether Oliver was a distant cousin...famous enough to have a museum!
SR 60 is not a bad run and it takes you right in to Marietta. I think I have taken I-77 and flown through Marietta in the past, as nothing looked familiar. So maybe this was my first visit to the town...not bad. I liked what I saw and wished I could have stayed longer. I guess I could have, but I really wanted to find more twisties and some gravel.
I did have a break though and started to peel off some layers. The rain had completely stopped at this point. Still overcast, but beginning to warm up. I was looking for SR 26 and as I continued from where the bike was parked (I think this was called Front Street), I saw a sign for SR 7/26...choices for sure and if I had more time, I would have taken SR7, which follows the Ohio River up to Wheeling. I chose 26 and noted that the sign said 26 was the gateway to covered bridges or something. I found several and needed the photo op, to go with some of my other covered bridge photos. I'm really starting to get a good collection, which I think is up to 6 or 7!
A close up...
Fortunately no cars. It looks like the road leads too a campground in Wayne National Forest. Need to remember this...
SR 26 is a fantastic road. Not as challenging as 555. These are more sweepers than hairpins...the challenge here is in the speed. You definitely want to go faster and then you come upon a hairpin. You need to keep your wits about you and you cannot relax. The other difference is that there are plenty of opportunities to jump off on to some gravel side roads. I'm on it!
First attempt at gravel was disappointing. Two dead end roads, with no indication that they were dead ends...until they ended. I wanted to be pissed, but the roads were actually pretty sweet...I wish I could have made it through to another road though.
I am in the market for a GPS...however, I am afraid I will rely on it and I'll miss some of the mistakes I've taken. Often these mistakes have been the highlight of a trip. We will see on the GPS. With that in mind, I took another gravel road, but this one I'd traveled about 15 miles on dirt and low and behold, I came on SR26 again. I love how things work out.
East again on SR26 and then a left on to SR800...which is even better than 26! I could not fail today. As the afternoon wore on and by now it was after 3, I needed to start heading home. SR800 heads north and intersects with I-70. A straight hundred plus miles back to Columbus. The interstate just wasn't in my plans though and I decided to follow the old National Road.
Who knew Hopalong Cassidy was born in a town on the National Road. I didn't note the town unfortunately. Continuing west though, you jog under I-70 and then back. As I cruised leisurely at about 60, the world zoomed by at 75 and 80 on the interstate. Why was everyone in a rush?
On our family cruise vacation earlier in the Spring, I read a book about the National Road. I was fascinated by the book and the road...because, where else, could you see an S shaped bridge?
280 miles. I come home to a beautiful family. Wonderful evening. Beer on the porch. Happy.