Thursday, August 5, 2010

Weather and Motorcycle Decisions

Well,'s 5 days until I leave for Denver CO and the bi-annual IBA Meet and I'm facing hotter-n-hell weather and a bike that's been in the shop for a week and still no word on the status of the wayward sprocket set we ordered last Friday.

I'm doing a Bun Burner Gold (BBG) to Denver and want to do it on the FZ6. I've done one on the BMW - a piece of cake on that more-than-capable machine - but want to do one on a more sport-oriented bike, one not typically set up for LD riding. So I made an appointment (!!) to bring my FZ6 in to the Yamaha dealer for its 24,000 mile service (a biggie) and to fit those Dunlop StreetSmart tires I won from AMA two years ago (finally!!).

"Not a problem," I was told. Bring the tires on by and then bring the bike in on Thursday and we'll get it done. This is LAST Thursday I'm talking about. I drove the tires over there, spoke to the service writer, spoke to the Parts Counter guy and then rode the bike over there first thing the next morning. I figured I'd have the bike back Friday, Saturday at the latest.

No word from them on Saturday, so I called them first thing Tuesday morning (don't you just hate that "Sunday-Monday motorcycle shops closed" thing??). Well, the UPS delivery usually arrives at 11:00 AM, takes a couple of hours to unpack and "invoice in" the parts, and then we should be good to go by the end of the day. No parts on Tuesday. The Service Writer called me to inform me of this, and said he called and was told the parts should be in by Thursday.

Well, it's now 5:00 PM on Thursday, so I guess either the parts didn't arrive, or they didn't get the bike done in time to pick it up. I'm really hoping they'll get it done Friday early, so that I can pick the bike up and put some "shake down" miles on it in case it needs to go back to the dealer for some adjustment. See, it's a really major service: Valve adjustment, new chain/sprockets, new tires, flush radiator, oil/filter change. Lots can go wrong with all this work and I'm looking at a VERY LONG one-day ride on Tuesday night, i.e., 1500 miles in less than 24 hours through some areas and at some late-night hours when help won't be available should something go wrong.

As a back-up I always have my BMW, which had a major service 5,000 miles ago and just got back from a trip to the BMW rally, so I know she's running very well. But I've already done a BBG on a BMW. I want to do it on the FZ6!


Now, let's add to this the fact that the extended forecasts for the Heartland of America - and my primary route to Denver - show it will be at least 100 degrees with a heat index well into the 110's. A check of the extended forecasts for a more southerly route showed relatively lower temps in S. Texas and NM and 20% chance of rain along this route which always mitigates the heat. So I spent a good part of yesterday re-routing this ride to take a southerly route through TX and NM instead of my original route which would have taken me north up to Oklahoma City then west toward CO.

When I plan an extreme Iron Butt ride such as this, I always like to plan the gas stops as well. Anal -maybe - but it eases my mind knowing that the GPS will tell me when to get off the interstate and get gas so that I don't have to worry about the gas gauge. Plus while planning the route, I can slide the gas stops around to maximize my bike's fuel range, for optimal efficiency. In the case of I-10 across TX between San Antonio and El Paso, this is important. I find that my maximum efficiency is obtained if I get gas on the east side of San Antonio, then I can get to Sonora on a tank and then I make two shorter-than-range stops, one at Fort Stockton and one at Van Horn, before pressing on to Las Cruces NM. It's the only way with a 200 mile range bike.

I also like to use Google Satellite view to check out the gas station situation. Microsoft Streets & Trips doesn't always show all of the available gas stations, so a "fly-over" of a proposed gas exit gives me the information I need to plan the stop. A quick street-level view confirms the gas station is actually there and open for business. I've learned that the satellite view is getting "dated." For example, it shows a gas station at the corner of the street where the IBA event hotel is located, but a street view shows that the gas station is no longer there, torn down, sodded over, and now part of the landscape for a new business tower.

So all the work I'd done on the more northerly route through OKC is out the window, and now I have a finely honed route through TX and NM instead. It should be cooler. I should actually be able to make better time, with the higher speed limits in western TX compared to what I'd experience on I-35 heading north toward OKC. I'm familiar with all of the first half of the route, having ridden it many times.

Now all I need to do is get that FZ6 back into my hands, get her out for that shake-down ride over the weekend, and then pack for a middle-of-the-night departure on August 11.

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