SCB Day 9 Taking a Toll

It felt really good to get into the “mountains”, okay compared to the Rockies the Ozarks aren’t much in the way of mountains but curvy forest roads are far preferable to flat plains in this rider’s opinion. This was one of the most enjoyable days on the scoot since we left Pinedale. There were moments on days 6 & 7 that were lots of fun. Maybe it is  just the contrast with the last couple of days with flat and boring, or high winds, or sleet and snow but it was a great break from the bad weather.

day9-1-6However, if I thought yesterday was bringing out problems with the modern scoots today is much worse. The scoots needing work were all gathered under the portico so they could work in the shade.

Earlier I passed Eric on the side of the road. The California support truck was with him and there was little I could do so I continued on without stopping. When I rolled into the Super 8 in El Dorado, Arkansas I found out that he had plugged a tire leak only to be hit with some sort of fuel delivery issue a few miles after he got back on the road. Eric was trying to either get it running again on the roadside or he’d have to trailer it the short distance to the hotel. Which is what he ended up doing with a plan on getting it running hopefully with assistance from Mike Smith – Helix guru and Hank, the other Helix rider in the cannonball in time to go back to where he was trailered from in time to finish the last leg before midnight.

day9-1-4Bill’s scoot also came in on a support truck with more serious issues. Mark (Maroy), Doug (Old as Dirt), Binh (DaBinChe) and several others worked with Bill to get frozen parts off his GT. Tom (Bagel), the crazy guy who did an Iron Butt on his way TO the cannonball start allowed Bill to take parts off his no longer running GT to get back on the road. Tom was extremely generous allowing his GTS to supply parts to several folks once it was clearly going to be on the truck for the rest of the trip. Never fear though, Tom had a spare GTV in Austin he managed to get friends to truck up to Norman so while he was out of the cannonball competition he was still able to ride most days.

Being the last night the plan was to go dinner as a very large group. Kudos to Dave (Feb31st) who tends to leave at the crack of dawn well before anyone else for securing space for such a large group at a downtown Mexican restaurant – one that did serve margaritas. Winking smile

In the meantime more work went on in the parking lot.

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Vintage repairs were often the most creative. I believe I was told that is a bathroom fan duct taped to Greg’s (Wire89) 1964 Vespa GL150 (newer 1983 engine)

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None of the modern scooters including Linda (Teacherquinn) replacing her lost tail light with a trailer light reached quite that level of creative repairs IMHO.

Not all of the scooters needed work.

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Soon it was time to head off for dinner. I think even those who still had work to do were glad of a break.

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It did take awhile for everyone to get served but that’s what happens when you have a group of 40+ people show up for dinner on a few hours notice.

day9-1-15Everyone to the back row table in this photo except the guy in the green shirt bottom left is either a rider or providing support for a cannonball rider. Well except for the guy on the left with the gray shirt. That’s Mike’s son who came over to visit with his dad while he was more or less nearby.

day9-1-17It took 5 tables to hold us all.

day9-1-16You could tell the riders from cities where helmet theft is a problem since they all carried their helmets inside the restaurant with them.

day9-1-18Eventually it was back to the hotel where work on the scooters continued well into the night.

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By the time Eric got his Helix running again it was too late to return to where his scoot went on the trailer to finish the last leg of the day. Ed tracked down his short and Bill was able to get his GT running again. By morning only Bagel’s GTS was still on the truck since David (Cochid) left the cannonball when he was unable to find replacement parts in time to get back in. Pity he wasn’t able to get running again or find a second scoot to finish riding the cannonball with like Bagel was able to do. We hardly had a change to get to know him.

Tomorrow is the last day with this group of fine folks before we start scattering back across the US and Canada, bittersweet.

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SCB Day 8 Oklahoma

day9-1After yesterday’s punishing wind it was wonderful to wake up to only a light breeze for the remainder of Kansas. One thing I have to say about the western part of Kansas is that it must be the feedlot capitol of the world. I only saw one actual feedlot and a few signs but you could tell by the smell whenever one was nearby.

Best thing about today was how pleasant it was to have a warm sunny mostly wind free day. This allowed most of the cannonball riders to get into Norman Oklahoma early in the day and do a little catch-up on their rest.

day9-1-2Even Binh was able to get out of his crouch. By the end of the day when everyone had rolled it it had become apparent that days of hard riding had taken its toll not just on the riders but also on the scoots. day9-1-5

It wasn’t just the guys riding vintage that were having serious problems. Some of the folks were able to get parts they needed from the Yamaha dealership across the street from the hotel. While others, namely ChuckTX with his Kymco People were told “we don’t work on or sell parts for ‘Chinese” scooters. Never mind that all he wanted was a generic brake cable and to have a tire mounted on a 15” rim. One he was willing to bring to the dealership off the scooter for mounting. Let’s just say nobody was impressed with the Yamaha dealer in Norman’s attitude.

Chuck’s front brake went out and he rode most of the day with just a rear brake. He got some help from Doug (Old as Dirt) and George (Motovista) in locating the problems and getting them fixed. The biggest issue was sourcing a new brake line.

day9-1-4 The DOT connectors on each end were the issue when he found a company that could make brake lines but only for off road vehicles. Fortunately, George located a scooter shop willing to take a brake line off a used scoot and even stayed late so it could be picked up. So I’ll give Harkey’s Machine Scooter Shop a plug for going above and beyond. Thumbs up

I went over to Best Buy and picked up a new battery for the Canon that has been giving me battery issues. Hopefully that will mean no more missed photos because of a message that says “change your battery” instead of taking the photo.

Tonight I got my adult beverage over at BJ’s Brewery.

day9-1-6Almost forgot we had some visitors from Modern Vespa waiting for us when we rolled in. Thanks for the welcome to Oklahoma.

day9-1-7Only two days left before we roll into New Orleans for the end of the 2014 Scooter Cannonball. I don’t know about everyone else but I’m not sure if I’m ready for the cannonball to end but I will say I’m ready for a day when I can just stop and smell the roses, check out some of the interesting diners and cafes I’ve seen and do a leisurely 350 mile day instead of splash and dash. On the other hand I’m not sure that I’m ready for this trip to end either.

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SCB 2014 Day 7 Wind

day8-1I woke up this morning to discover 1/4 inch of snow on my balcony. 
Something that didn’t surprise me considering it was snowing when I went to bed last night. I was just glad that it wasn’t more. A quick look at the road and I saw that it was mostly clear. Figured that give it another 1-1.5 hours for the sun to clear the mountain tops and the roads including Hooiser Pass would be free of snow and/or ice.

Downstairs for a hot breakfast then I grabbed the handlebar muffs out of the support truck and put them on the scoot. Learned my lesson from the day before. Then it was off to Dillion to the official starting point for the day. I passed a couple of cannonball riders heading south down Highway 9 as I went over to the Best Western. I was actually surprised to see wrenching going on when I got there.

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In retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was definitely not the weather to be working outside on a scoot when folks rolled in yesterday. I had offered my garage if folks wanted to make the 17 mile trek but I guess warming up by a fire at one of the brew pubs nearby was more appealing. Laughing out loud

I did hear that at least one cannonballer worked on his scoot inside the lighted California support trailer. Kudos to the California crew for thinking/planning ahead for adverse on the road conditions. Guess that’s one of the advantage of having participated in previous cannonball, both the rider and support crew have a good better idea of what to expect.

While I headed off to Dillion Steve went up to Hoosier Pass to see if he could catch some of the cannonball riders crossing the summit. At 11,542 ft (3,518 m) it is the highest elevation we’ll be crossing during this cannonball.  Steve missed Feb31st and a few others who left starting at 5:30 in the morning when there was still ice/snow on the pass but he was able to catch several of the riders. Including Maroy not once but twice as he went back to check on another rider.

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As the sun warmed you can tell there is less ice with the road drying off quickly once it melted.

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Binh was the only one who stopped and posed for his photo.  Once you crested the pass climbing up the switchbacks it was all downhill from there with a long mostly straight with a few sweeping curves into the valley.

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Once we reached Checkpoint 1, the intersection with US 50 it was goodbye to all that gorgeous scenery as it would soon disappear from our mirrors. Eastern Colorado has far more in common with Kansas than it has with the Rockies we’ve been riding through.

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If I thought yesterday’s ride through sleet, snow and fog over Rabbit Ears Pass was as bad as it was going to get I was wrong again. As far as I’m concerned I’d have chosen Rabbit Ears again IF I could have my handlebar muffs and/or my lost Alpinestar gloves over the 50mph cross winds of eastern Colorado and Kansas. I figured Mike Smith would have had it easier with the extra stability of his sidecar rig but Mike told me it was equally brutal, just in a different way. Mike should know since he has more miles on two wheels with or without a hack than anyone I’ve ever met. Binh on the other hand looked pretty much like he always does in the photo Steve took of him on the road. How he managed so many hours in a tuck I’ll never know.

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He wasn’t the only one in a serious tuck today. day8-1-12

Doug (Old as Dirt), Lostboater (Ken), Will (support), Steve (my very supportive husband), and I forgot who else went to the most popular with the locals Mexican restaurant for dinner (according to both hotel staff and the number of cars in the parking lot). Sure was looking forward to a nice BIG margarita only to discover that they didn’t serve alcohol. Apparently the only two places in Ulysses, Kansas that served adult beverages were Pizza Hut and the Iron Horse Bar & Grill. If we’d only known I suspect the Iron Horse would have had all the cannonball riders but who would have thought it would be so hard to get a margarita with your fajitas?

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SCB 2014 Day 6–A cold day in …

day7-1-3Okay, maybe today wasn’t a cold day in Hell and it started out really well with light clouds and more or less moderate temperatures in Pinedale, WY.

Wyoming continued as with the day before to be a pleasant place to ride without much wind and decent enough road surface.

We did have a couple of long stretches between gas stations.

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My GPS send me the wrong way through Rock Springs (kept trying to tell me to go through some sort of plant to connect to Wyoming  430 S. Mine wasn’t the only GPS to send me that way since Frank on his Stella was right there with me. Despite the time lost I was feeling pretty good about the day’s riding.

Now for what I expected to the challenge of the day. Today was the last day for scheduled dirt roads. Having ridden many dirt roads both in Wyoming and Colorado over the last few years I figured as long as it didn’t rain the dirt sections wouldn’t be a problem. Fortunately, I was past the approximately 30 miles of dirt without any issues. While I took it easy in the curves I was able to ride at or occasionally above the posted speed limits unlike the dirt on day 2. So far so good.

This was one of the days my camera decided to act up. Photos I know I took like the one where both Bill (Wleuthold) stopping for Ed (Ejp) ran out of gas many miles from the next gas stop. Ed was reluctant to accept gas from either of us because of the distance to the next station so we each gave him some from our spare cans. Heck, I’m wondering if I accidentally erased them since I could have sworn I saw and even downloaded two photos from when we stopped. If I did,  I don’t know what happened to them. Anyway, both Bill and I made it to Maybell, the next town for gas. There we discovered that the gas station didn’t have restrooms. Bill decided to follow the attendant’s directions back to the town park with its public toilets while I went on to Craig. By the time I got to Craig it was apparent that rain gear would be needed and soon as drops started to fall.

Pulled into McDonalds to use their restroom and put on rain gear out of the rain that was starting to fall. Here was my second mistake of the day. One reoccurring issue I had was leaving the scooter key in the seat lock. For the last 6 years I’ve primarily been riding my GTS or another scooter (Scarabeo or BV 500) that uses a button to open the seat. The Sports City uses the ignition key to open the seat. I don’t know how many times I left the key stuck in the side of the scooter. Well, I did the same thing at McDonalds without realizing it. Walked back to the scooter after using the facilities, reached down to my belt loop where I always clip my key ring’s carabineer to discover it wasn’t there. Ah carp, must have dropped it in the restroom I thought. Go back, no key. Return to the scooter and look in the ignition, no key, in the top case lock, no key, now I’m starting to get worried. Back inside scouring the ground as I walk back, no key. Asked if anyone turned in a key, no. Back to the lady’s room, still no key. Peel off my rain gear in case the key was caught between the layers of clothes, nope.  Nice woman in a Harley jacket helps me look. I emptied the trash (dirty diapers, eww)  still no key. Now I’m starting to panic a little. As I’m walking back to the scoot the nice lady and her husband are out where their Harley and my Sports City are parked looking around as well. Fortunately, we had a break in the rain. This time I walk completely around the scooter and there I finally see the keys in the seat lock. I don’t know if I’m more relieved or feeling more  stupid. The Harley guy tells me he’s left his key in the Harley before and not too feel too bad. Thanked them for their help in looking for the key. Then get back on the road.

day7-1-2Off to Steamboat Springs. Despite the rain that was now getting to be heavy I figured my troubles were over. Should have known better,  with two screw ups today there was bound to be a third.

So what was my third one? A couple of days ago my top case came open while I was riding. No big deal I thought at the time since it didn’t appear I had actually lost anything. I was wrong about that. What I lost was one of my Alpinestar winter gloves that worked so well in the snow between Jasper and Lake Louise. Turned out the other waterproof winter gloves I had with me – weren’t. Not nearly warm enough and were only waterproof for maybe 30 minutes at best. By the time I was in the sleet and snow at Rabbit Ears Pass they were soaked through. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had taken my handlebar muffs from the SUV and put them in my top case but did I do that – NO! Even then I figured I’d make it to Dillion without too much problem until the fog came rolling in. Nothing like riding a high mountain pass (9426 ft, 2873 m) in snow and sleet after a couple hours or so of rain but the fog came in as well dropping visibility down to something between 50 & 75 feet. By the time I dropped down to lower elevations and rain my fingertips were beginning to feel like frostbite. Despite the much warmer temps in Kremmling (elevation 7,313 feet) when I stopped for gas I decided to hell with time today and I went in for a cup of coffee. It wasn’t so much that I wanted the coffee to drink as to hold and return circulation to my hands. I was actually surprised to find my points for the day were better than Day 2, something I can only attribute to the fact that there were others who reached Rabbit Ears later than I when the visibility dropped even further.

After a quick check-in at Dillion’s Best Western, the official hotel for Day 6 I continued home to Breckenridge. As appealing as the fire at Pug Ryan’s sounded the siren song of my own bed was calling.  Steve peeled off when he got to I-70 to have dinner with his mom in Denver while I warmed up with a hot shower while I waited for Doug (Old as Dirt) and Will (TN_Sooner, support driver) to come pick up Will’s BV 350 from my garage. He’d dropped it off there the week before the Tennessee support truck left for Alaska so he’d have a scooter to ride at Amerivespa. Something about there not being room in the support trailer for more than the cannonball scoots on the way up. Hot smile

After they left it was dinner from the freezer by the fire for me followed by jacuzzi and early to bed while the snow was falling outside.

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SCB 2014 Day 5

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Ever wonder where your potatoes come from? Welcome to Idaho.

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IMG_4778-2Despite all the beauty around you there are reminders of just what can happen when you don’t pay sufficient attention to conditions around you.

It wasn’t too long before we left the valleys in Idaho and reached Wyoming.

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IMG_4874-2In Wyoming it was back to twisties and mountain passes with a long grade up and steeper turns coming back down to beauttiful Jackson Hole. I know a great little coffee bar there but alas on the cannonball I had to pass stopping instead for a quick fill-up and facilities break.

When I pulled into the hotel in Pinedale it was like déjà vu since it was the exact same Hampton Inn I stayed at in 2012 on my way back to Breckenridge from Amerivespa, Lake Geneva. Almost felt like old home week. 

Tomorrow is the last section of scheduled dirt. I’ve ridden many Colorado county dirt roads and am feeling pretty good about tomorrow. Unless we get a enough rain to turn it into mud the road should be well graded and capable of 50mph speeds for most riders.

I’m looking forward to spending tomorrow night in Breckenridge instead of the official hotel in Dillion. For some reason the thought of a night in my own home and bed feels very comforting right now.

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