Thursday, August 14, 2014

Penn's Peak

Last weekend I rode with the Knights of Lusitania, a Portuguese riding club from Philadelphia.  I had seen their ride on Facebook and even though Philadelphia is an hour and a half away from my house I noticed they were riding north to Penn's Peak.  I looked at the map and realized I could ride about an hour west and meet them about an hour's ride north from Philadelphia. After a few messages to arrange a meeting point I decided to wait for them by a Starbucks near Doylestown on route 611.  The group arrives and we continue north along 611.


I'm in the back with a red jacket getting ready to join them

One of the fellow riders was riding a Honda Ruckus 250 which unfortunately had a puncture.  The whole group pulled into a Wawa and the tire was promptly fixed, the puncture hole was pretty large and required two plugs.   His helmet is pretty cool, I was told it came from a fireman in Brazil, definitely not DOT approved.




We made a stop by a river to rest and a little later ran into trouble again.  One of the guys riding a Harley stopped at a traffic light and the bike just died.  The engine would crank but not start.  We all pulled into a nearby gas station and things started coming apart.


From all the cranking the battery died too.  Soon we had jumper cables running from a van from some guy that had stopped to fill up.  Now the bike was cranking but still not starting.  Spark plugs were pulled out, there was spark but it didn't appear to be any fuel going.  The Harley is carbureted.  After closer examination someone noticed there was a rubber tube disconnected.  It turned out it was the vacuum tube running to the petcock, it had come off.  Without vacuum, petcock does not open, no fuel to the engine.  Connected the hose and the engine fired right up.


While at the gas station this old guy pulls up to see what all the commotion was about and to offer ideas to troubleshoot the problem, I suspect it might have been Fidel Castro.


After fixing the Harley issue, our next stop was at Penn's Peak, at the beautiful Roadies Restaurant & Bar on top of a mountain with great views all around.  The road leading up to the restaurant winds through the forest.   Everyone was starving since the two problems had delayed our arrival. 



The restaurant is on two levels with lots of outside tables but we were a large group, they had to sit us inside.  Music was playing on the lower level, the band playing a mixture of Blues and Blues-rock.







The view is truly magnificent and this panorama shows it pretty well.   We managed to get one of the security guys to take a photo of the group.  I'm the one with the camera around my neck.





The ride home was uneventful, I managed to pull the camera out and snap a few shots including another great helmet selfie.  The Ruckus kept up pretty well with all the cruisers, adventure and sport bikes.





We made another stop to rest and talk bike.  It was getting late in the afternoon, some guys decided to take the faster way back using the PA Turnpike, a few of us decided to continue down route 309 and once we got to I78 I split from the group and headed east to NJ.  I still had a little over 100 miles to go.


This Suzuki with its V-Twin engine sounds amazing and so does the Yamaha R1 even though this one is pre-crossplane.  The R1 with the crossplane engine is still my dream bike.



After I crossed into NJ I decided to beat the traffic and take route 31 south towards Trenton making the trip a little longer but without having to deal with weekend traffic on the I78, I287 and the Parkway.  After almost an hour on the saddle I stopped at a Wawa after having passed this guy.  A few minutes later he pulls in and I walk towards him to inspect the bike.  He was an older guy riding a 1979 Harley Davidson that I suspect had never been washed.  It was rusty, broken and with missing parts but it worked.  I laughed when he asked me how fast I was going when I passed him, he said I passed him like a rocket, I was doing about 75mph and he was doing a leisurely 55mph.  We ended up chatting for almost half an hour, I told him about my Alaska trip and he told me a little about his life, it's amazing how different we are but at the same time have a common denominator.  We parted ways and I continued on my way south.


As I approached Trenton my reserve light started flickering at a little under 200 miles and the computer starts counting up from zero to show how many miles I travel on reserve.  I know the reserve is good for another 50 or 60 miles and I was about 40 miles away.  For anyone that has watched Seinfeld, I was like Kramer when he took a dealer car for a test drive and decided to continue and see how far they could get before they ran out of fuel.  I decided to go for it and as I approached home I was counting the miles and cheering, I'm going to make it home.   245.5 miles since I last refueled, the indicator had been flashing for almost 50 miles.  It's a little disconcerting but I knew I was almost home and I suspect there's still more than a half a gallon in the tank.  I will have to see how much it takes when I refuel it.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Yamaha Super Ténéré Gathering

In 2012 I was planning my ride to Alaska when I found out the first Yamaha Super Ténéré gathering was going to be in Whitehorse, Yukon.  Plans were changed and I combined the trip to Alaska with a stop in Whitehorse where I spent 5 days riding with friends on some of the most beautiful roads the area has to offer.  The event was outstanding and I made lots of new friends.

I'm standing in front of the Yukon Yamaha sign with black jacket


When the 2013 gathering was announced in Ouray, southern Colorado I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  It was a long way out for me, a little over 2000 miles from my house, but my brother had recently moved to New Mexico and now I had a reason to visit him.  Plans were put in place and I rode to Las Vegas, New Mexico were I picked up my brother on his BMW GS and then proceed north to Ouray riding the Million Dollar Highway before arriving in Ouray.  The even was just as good as the first, saw some old friends and made a few new ones.  The Ouray area has some outstanding roads and mountain passes.

I'm standing in the middle with the grey shirt and giving the one finger salute like everyone else

The 2014 meet was announced a while back but I wasn't sure if I could make it due to a new job and family vacations.  The event this year is in Marble Falls, Arkansas, smack in the middle of the Ozarks.  The Ozark Mountains have some of the most scenic rivers, valleys and majestic lakes in America.   There's an old folk saying about the Ozark Mountains: "It's not that the mountains are so high, it's just that the valleys are so deep."



Today I got approved for my 2 week vacation from work and now plans are in place for my trip south.
I have never ridden a motorcycle in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas and with the rally in Arkansas I started thinking about the possibilities and locations I could visit.  Plans have been made and now I have a rough route I plan on taking before arriving in Marble Falls.


I will leave NJ and head south towards Atlanta where I will visit a friend.  I will then head to Panama City in the Florida panhandle where I will make a right and continue west. I will ride along the coast through Pensacola, I will visit Mobile in Alabama, Biloxi in Mississippi, New Orleans in Louisiana and make my way to Galveston in Texas.  I will turn north in Galveston and ride through Texas country through Houston and Dallas.  I plan on leaving around lunchtime straight from work on a Friday and then spend the next 16 and a half days on the road.
Hopefully I will be able to do some of this in Arkansas.



Friday, May 23, 2014

Yamaha XT

In the early eighties I bought a Yamaha XT 250, my first motorcycle.  I was in my last year of college and didn't have much money, a used bike was my only option.  I ended up buying a used bike with very low mileage.  The previous owner already had installed a Supertrapp exhaust and it came with a brand new Yamaha jacket and an AGV helmet.  I had never ridden a motorcycle but the day I picked it up I mounted the bike and rode it home, no license or insurance.  I was young and taking risks was no biggie.  I later got a permit but never got my license.  A year later I got married, sold the bike and soon thereafter moved from South Africa to the USA.
In 1980 the first generation XT 250 had a 4-stroke, single-cylinder, 249cc SOHC air-cooled, 2 valves/cylinder with 22HP @ 8600 rpm.   The second generation released in 1984 had its top-end output reduced to 17HP @ 7,500 rpm due to emissions control considerations.  The XT had a single shock running up the center under the tank.  This photo is from the Wiki page


In 1982, the movie "First Blood" hit the box office starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo.  In the movie when Rambo flees from prison he rides a stolen Yamaha XT 250.  Most people didn't notice but if you listen closely the bike sound is from a 2-stroke engine.  The director obviously decided the 2-stroke screaming sound would fit better with the hectic atmosphere of the chase scene.


I had so much fun with the little XT 250.  I rode the bike everywhere I could night or day, highway and dirt roads.  I was only 22 and felt invincible. This is a scan from a badly deteriorating photo and yes, before you ask, I was going out to a party and was wearing red corduroy pants and nice shoes. It was the early eighties, corduroy was in style.


Last year I rode to Ouray, Colorado for the second Yamaha Super Tenere gathering and at the end of the meet I went north making a stop in Aspen.  While walking around town taking photos I come around a corner and right there in front of me was a Yamaha XT 250 exactly like the one I had.  I couldn't believe my eyes, same color and same generation.


Seeing the XT 250 again 30 years later brought back lots of good memories.  It wasn't in the best shape but with a little TLC it could still be turned into a good motorcycle.  I didn't have a chance to see the owner.


A few weeks ago, I am returning home from my parents home and came upon a XT 500 for sale.
The Yamaha XT500 is a twin-valve single-cylinder enduro-adventure motorcycle made by Yamaha from 1975 until 1981.


The bike was a big success and it laid the ground for the later range of XT bikes ranging from the XT125cc to the current XT660Z Ténéré (the 660 is not available in the USA) and XT1200Z super Ténéré.  The XT series contributed largely to Yamaha's image.
The XT proved its performance and reliability by winning the first big African rallies, which were on the rise in the late seventies. It started with Paris–Abidjan-Nice and then the Paris–Dakar Rally, which confirmed the supremacy of the XT 500. Wiki
The old and new XT


The owner came out and started the bike for me, it was great to hear the thumping sound of the big 500, the sound bringing back good memories of my XT 250.   If I had the money I would have bought this bike but with three bikes already in my garage I don't think my wife would have been happy.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gathering of the Norton's 2014 - 2

As promised here's some of the other bikes present at the Gathering of the Nortons at Washington Crossing Park in Pennsylvania.

A beautiful MV Agusta F3 800 with a Ferracci Carbon Fiber slip-on.   Lists on Ferracci website for $1180.
These F3's sound awesome and the Ferracci makes it even meaner.



The Triumph X-75 Hurricane was a 'factory special' motorcycle designed by fairing specialist Craig Vetter. It was ultimately released as a Triumph model in 1973.


There was a time when I was younger that all I wanted was the Kawasaki Z1 but I was too young and couldn't afford one.   The Kawasaki Z1 was a motorcycle introduced in 1972 by Kawasaki. The Z1, along with Honda's CB750 from 1969, introduced the four-cylinder, across the frame, disc-braked layout to a wider public.   The bike was also known as Kawasaki 900 Super Four



The Honda CBX was introduced in 1978 as the first production Honda motorcycle with an inline six-cylinder engine.  The twin-cam 24-valve engine produced 105 bhp and sounded amazing.


This is a custom motorcycle with a Yamaha 750 twin engine


The Kawasaki ZRX1100 (nicknamed the Rex in the UK and the Z-Rex in the US).  I would love to have a Kawasaki ZRX1100 or the later 1200 with this green color


The MV Agusta was the motorcycle upon which Giacomo Agostini, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read won 17 world MotoGP (then 500cc) riders championships


A beautiful Triumph motorcycle, love the exhaust and the paint job


A 4-cylinder in-line engine Indian motorcycle.  In 1940 the Indian 440 cost $1000 while a typical Chevrolet car cost about $700


A little Honda 300cc in immaculate condition


There was a time I was seriously considering buying the Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX before Yamaha announced the Super Tenere was coming to the USA.  This is a beautiful motorcycle.


Not sure what motorcycle this is.  I have asked people on my Google Plus circles and no one could tell me what makes it is.  I loved the helmet.


There were lots more motorcycles at the show.  It seems the show keeps getting bigger which is great for any motorcycle motorhead.

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