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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We made it to Michigan and back without a major incident; some might say this was a minor miracle. This trip actually started last fall when Dianna and I were about to ride up to Eureka Springs for Thanksgiving. About a week before we were to set out I noticed a very slight noise in the engine that I had not heard before. I swung by the shop that had just done the 36K mile service a couple of weeks before to see if something was amiss. The mechanic put it on the dyno and then out for a extended test ride and came back saying he didn’t hear anything and that it seemed to be running quite well, which it was. I headed home and about half way (10 miles +-) it sounded like someone was beating on the case with a hammer. I shut it down, had it taken back to the shop where they tore it down to find the big end bearings shot. After 8 months of looking for parts and gathering the substantial sum of cash required; I packed the bike up and took it to Jeff Nash at AMS. After disassembly he found this:

Not good, everyone was surprised the engine was still running, Jeff said it looked like the bearings had gotten so thin that it allowed the pistons to contact the valves. In about two weeks he had built me an engine from the one out of my bike combined with parts from a spare ’03 engine I took up to him; along with a new set of case/con rod bearings. I picked the bike up on Fri 24 July and Duckman and I went out for a 250 mi shake down ride on Sunday. After not riding for 8 months I was a little sore but it felt good. When we got back to his house we used his fancy little tire mounting rig to swap out the Pilot Powers (about 30% used) for a new set of Pilot Road 2’s. During the next week I rode it to work a couple of times, mounted the pannier racks and then changed the oil on Thursday night. Things were ready to go for Friday.

Day One, Friday 31July09 ~ Home to Hot Springs, Ark. ~ 484 mi

Started with nice weather but hit rain by Woodville and rode wet for about 2 hrs. Salvation for the morning came in the form of Hwy 87 from Indian Hills to Milam, about 30 miles of good surface with plenty of curves to scuff the tires. Just before reaching the state line I hit a piece of metal in the road and bent my front rim slightly, can’t feel it rolling and it doesn’t loose air so no problem; keep rolling.

We stopped for lunch at the Tower restaurant (corner of 126 & 505) outside of Dodson, Louisiana. I highly recommend the fried catfish. Straight north from there takes you to Hwy 7 near El Dorado, Ark. stayed on 7 all the way to Hot Springs. Just south of there (@ I-30) I stopped for gas and experienced the start of what would be a worrisome three days on the road, as I pulled away from the station I noticed that my oil pressure light did not go out. I stopped, killed the engine, waited a few seconds and then restarted; it still didn’t go out so I turned around and headed back to the station. With the image of those big end bearings still fresh in my mine I was not a happy camper. By the time I got turned around though the light went out so I proceeded on to Hot Springs with no further fault indications. That evening we rode into town to grab some dinner stopping at the Pompeii Rest., good eats with friendly service, I noticed that the light would stay on for 1 to 2 seconds after start but would then go out and stay that way. Unfortunately this all took place after AMS had closed so I wasn’t going to be able to reach them until Tuesday.

Day Two, Sat. 1Aug09 ~ Hot Springs to Mountain Home ~ 246 mi

Woke up to wind, rain, lightning and thunder so we slept in and had a late breakfast by 10:00 we were in our rain gear and ready to go. Even in the rain Hwy 7 was fun and the PR2’s handled it with aplomb. By the time we got to the turn-off for 123 the rain had diminished to an occasional sprinkle so we were able to ride it without too many worries. Riding that road downhill is a real experience though, when you hit the switchbacks they are so tight and dive so sharply downhill that the first one or two are a little spooky. From Mt. Judea back over to Jasper 74 is a more relaxed ride. We stopped at the Cliffhouse Rest. per Rick Miller’s recommendation and yes the catfish is very good but I have to give the edge (a really close call though) to the Tower in Dodson. Go try them out Rick, see if you don’t agree. Ran 7 on up to a short bypass (206) around Harrison then 62/412 over to Mountain Home and called it a day.

Day Three, Sun. 2Aug09 ~ Mountain Home to Washington, IN ~ 432 mi

Nice cool clear morning, looking good! Got a descent, not early, start and as we were clearing town noticed that my Throttlemeister was causing my throttle to drag a little so I pilled over and fiddled with it until I got the throttle to snap back as it is supposed to. Unfortunately I must have loosened the wedge anchor that secures it to the handle bar tube and about 30 miles later I noticed that it was gone. The road into and out of Mountain Home (62/412) is a really nice road, the eastern segment being a little twistier though with a slightly less consistent road surface. At Salem we turned northeast toward Mammoth Spring on 9, another twisty 2 lane with the occasional area of asphalt patches.

Riding north into Missouri we got on 19 and headed for Alton & Winona.
To Alton it’s you typical sporadically twisty 2 lane through the hills but after that and increasingly as you approach Winona it becomes a real roller coaster. It’s a hoot to ride but if you’re riding heavy you better have your preload set to it’s max or you will bottom in the abrupt little valleys between hills, just check out my exhaust.

I got some video of this road on the way home. We jumped over to Rt. 34 by way of 60/21 and continued to head east. From it’s tie in at 21 to Piedmont; 34 is a lot of fun too, some up and down and a lot of curves of different types with a good surface. I shot some video of this section on the way back as well. We stopped in Piedmont and had lunch at the Zephyr Café, now there is down home style cooking. We continued on 34 to Cape Girardeau and then across southern Indiana on 146 which doesn’t have a lot in the way of curves but you do pass through a number of nice old small towns and farm land so the scenery is good. At Vienna we took 45 north then 1 up to I-64, which again were a pleasant roads with the occasional curvy sections. Thirty miles east on I-64 then back onto 2 lane at 57 and up to Washington for the night. Had dinner at Bobe’s, the pesto sauce was quite good but the pasta was slightly overcooked but then I don’t really expect most mid price restaurants to understand al dente.

Day Four, Mon. 3Aug09 ~ Washington to Jenison, Mi ~ 362 mi

Another cool clear morning, I like it. Not a lot to say about the roads on this day, they were in decent shape with the occasional curve and fairly flat till you get into Michigan where you start picking up hill country again. Called Throttlemeister in the morning to get then to ship a new bar end up to my destination in Cedar Springs. Had a difference of opinion with an Indiana sheriff about the appropriate speed for a section of road, he won; I get to make a contribution to their local coffers. The worst part of it was when I pulled the key out of the ignition to unlock the seat (I keep my insurance card under the seat) it slipped out of my hand and fell down between the fairing and engine. Dianna and I got to practice our roadside bike stripping skills, we had the left fairing panel off and back on in about 15 minutes and only lost one well nut, not bad. Cooled our heals at Dianna’s sisters house for the night with plenty of cold beer and some excellent pork loin.

Day Five, Tues. 4Aug09 ~ Jenison to Cedar Springs ~ 32 mi

Had a lazy morning, drank coffee and sat around, I am on vacation you know. Called Jeff Nash at AMS and talked to him about the oil light coming on, which it had continued to do, taking longer and longer to go out as time went on except when the engine was cold then it would go out quickly. He assured me that it was most likely the sending unit going bad because it had excellent oil pressure when it left is shop 2 weeks before. He had one on the shelf so he express mailed it to me. Went to pick up my RZ67 that I FedExed up ahead of time and ended up running all over town because they didn’t hold it where they were supposed to, turns out it was the clerk on the Houston end that screwed the pooch. He instructed me to ship it ground and the only way they ship and hold is to ship express. Live and learn. Got over to the in-laws house a little late but no sweat. The parts from Throttlemeister had beat us there, when I showed it to Dianna she said “Oh, that must have been what hit me in the foot about a mile out of Mountain Home” she thought it was something that had kicked up off the road. Upon opening the box I also realized that it didn’t come with the little wedge anchor that held it in place, the intent was to reuse the OEM piece. So now I had the bar end but no way to attach it. We went to a place called Reds in Rockford (supposedly because of their extensive list of red wines) for dinner, the food there is excellent and I can’t speak for their wine list but the variety of local, national and imported beers was something to see. I had a locally brewed porter that was very good and a brown ale that wasn’t quite my cup of tea but it didn’t go to waste.

Day Six, Wed. 5Aug09 ~ Cedar Springs to Omena ~ 142 mi

Denise and Tom came up in their 325xi (nice little car) and we chased them up to Omena on the Leelanau Peninsula above the 45th parallel, most of the roads in Michigan are faily straight but once you get on the peninsulas they start to bend a bit so we had a good time.

Day Seven, Thurs. 6Aug09 ~ Winery hopping ~ 91 mi

Spent the day running up and down the Leelanau and Mission Pens. hitting a number of the wineries, it’s a good thing only take a sip of each one at those tasting counters. Did a video of the coast road that runs down the east side of the Mission Pen. It’s really pretty country up there and if you like cherries, blueberries and raspberries you’re in hog heaven. After spending the last two days trying to find the wedge anchor for the bar end or some reasonable facsimile and having relayed my problem to Duckman, he very kindly offered to pull one off of his ST3 and express it up to me. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! We were going to slab it most of the way back due to time restraints and I wasn’t looking forward to doing that without a throttle lock.

Day Eight, Fri. 7Aug09 ~ Back to Cedar Springs ~ 193 mi

Took a different route home, ran down the west coast it was a little longer but a lot more fun. Spent the evening down in Grand Rapids listening to some live music and checking out the museum with the in-laws, went back to the house and some beers and chilled.

Days Nine & Ten, Sat. & Sun., Class & Family reunions / Birthday parties

Manage to get out to the bike between the family reunion and the birthday party for Dianna, Denise and their Dad, the girls are twins and all three birthdays fall on this weekend, I installed the oil pressure sending unit, the Throttlemeister, adjusted the suspension (per a conversation I had with Jordan @ AMS, those guys have been really helpful) and tightened the oil filter to stop the seepage that had been going on since I left Texas. No more oil pressure light problems all the way back home.

Day Eleven, Mon. 10Aug09 ~ Cedar Springs to Piedmont, Mo. ~ 603 mi

Weather has warmed up significantly; I thought we were going to get away with at least one cool day on the way home, no such luck. At least it was cool and nice while we were running around Michigan. The bike sat out in a rain storm all Saturday night and it apparently did in my power supply to the GPS mount so I get to ride home without it, fortunately I know most of the way especially from Piedmont south. We ran the slab all the way down to St. Louis, took a couple of turns around the Arch since I had never seen it before and then got on 67 south down to 34 then over to Piedmont. Except for the last hour that was one boring day on the bike.

Day Twelve, Tues. 11Aug09 ~ Piedmont to Hot Springs ~ 351 mi
Even hotter today but at least the roads will be a lot more fun. Retrace my tracks back as far as Yellville, Ark. on Hwy 62 where we turn south on 235 which is a really nice road with a few pavement patches every now and then. Jog over to 123 on 65 then south toward Mt Judea 123 is fun on both ends. At Mt Judea we stopped to have some water and setup the video camera for the ride up the hill, unfortunately I must have bumped the lock button as we headed out because when we checked the tape later we had nothing. The ride up was definitely fun though, there was one 180 degree right hand bender that I was rolling through at about 55 leaned over so far that we scrapped the leading edge of the muffler can, we was having some fun!
We stopped at the top for a photo, I should have checked the video then.
We got back on 7 and headed to Hot Springs, just north of town we stopped for a breather and took this.

Day Thirteen, Wed. 1`2Aug09 ~ Hot Springs to Home ~ 391 mi

Hotter than hell today, dropped down to I-30 on Hwy 7 and just blasted home, not much you can say about that.

We had more pictures but they got dropped from the camera memory somehow, we’ll do better next time.
 

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Retired Pipe Polisher C2H6O+
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Man, you can go to jail for mess'n with Texas like that! It's backerd!



"IMPASSABLE HAIRPIN TURNS AHEAD" ! I've got to make it a priority to ride 7 before I die. It's really great how you and the wife were able to take the adversities in stride and enjoy what must have been a great trip.

Everytime I look at those mains and crank my wallet gets cold chills :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yea we walked up from the wrong side, it was weird,took me a second to figure out where I was. I'm pointing at Texarkana out point of entry in case you were wondering what I was up to.
 

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Now you're pointing at Texarkana. :)



The picture of the twisty section of 7 is fantastic. That looks like more fun than a track day.
 

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Now you're pointing at Texarkana. :)



The picture of the twisty section of 7 is fantastic. That looks like more fun than a track day.
Agreed. It is one of my paramount regrets that I haven't been down south on my Duc yet. Better start saving because this new inspiration has got me all impatient. Thanks for the sharing.
 
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