I left my motorcycle behind when we moved from Langley to Castlegar. Our move was in March: that’s an impossible time to ride a bike through mountain passes. And after much thought I decided I preferred the idea of riding it to its new home versus trailering or shipping it. So into storage she went.
The conditions aligned such that I was able to take a few days off at the beginning of June to go pick up my motorcycle and ride her to the new homestead. Things went well, but not perfectly- especially not for one mid-sized grey bird, who had a really awful day.
Getting out on my bike has become less of a common thing the last couple of years. The reasons are not terribly interesting: disruptions in health, work pressures, depression. But I still build up a need for two wheel therapy, probably even more so than when I was riding every weekend. And so I’ve focused on ‘long form’ road trips to get my motorcycle fix, and this year was a biggun’: a ride to take my 2011 Road Glide ‘back home’ to where she was born: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Life is full of surprises: some good, some not so good. I don’t deal well with surprises, but to counter that I’ve adopted a ‘seize control’ mentality that sometimes kicks in and gets me past the unexpected. My motorcycle road trip for 2015 is essentially a case history of that adaptation of mine, and I’m not sure whether to be proud or a bit sheepish. Either way, here is my accounting of the Journey of Unexpected Turns. Wherein I was supposed to be going to Reno, Nevada, but ended up going somewhere else entirely…
I decided in December of 2013 that 2014 would be the year I upgraded the performance of my 2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with my bike’s get up and go. But after over 65,000 kilometres of riding, I felt I knew better what I wanted when I rolled on the throttle. And I had driven some steep roads at American highway speeds i.e.: somewhere around 130 km/h (85 miles per hour), and there were times where I felt the end of the throttle looming.
I was lucky to be able to enjoy a second “significant” motorcycle road trip this year. My brother Colin and his son, Troy, came out to the coast from Alberta on their motorbikes. Colin had previously ridden up the Sunshine coast and wanted to share that with us, and it sounded fantastic to me. I asked Colin to be our road captain, since he knew the route and I don’t really care to lead unless I’m riding solo. We set out on August 14th on a trip that ultimately looked more or less like the map below:
My first “real” (i.e.: more than one day) motorcycle road trip of 2012 began on July 30. Myself, my nephew Shane, and our good friends Jeff and Tim set out on a journey to buy Shane a T-Shirt. Yes, that was the only actual specific, tangible objective of the trip. Everything else that happened was purely incidental…
I will state this now very clearly: Harley Davidson motorcycles built since the late 1980’s (i.e.: those with the Evolution motors) do *not* habitually leak. These engines are generally as tight and well-designed as any, albeit with a different aesthetic than the finely balanced Hondas and BMWs of the world.
That said: my beloved Road Glide began to leak about a week ago. The leak was a very small amount of quite clean lubricant, dripping from some generalized location on the bottom of the engine. I say “generalized” as it wasn’t a single spot: generally, wherever the engine was lowest e.g. towards the kickstand side. In other words, there was no obvious source of the leak. And when I say “small amount”, I mean about one drop every three or four hours. Placing a clean paper towel under the engine for 24 hours would result in a spot no larger than you might get from resting your Egg McMuffin on the same paper towel for a few minutes.
Regardless of the size of the leak, *any* leak is frustrating, even if it isn’t critical. My bike is scheduled for its 32,000 km service next week, and the measurable fluid levels were all “in the zone”, so the leak wasn’t critical. But I wanted to be able to clearly point the service guy in the right direction to solve the problem. So I began digging. I washed the bottom of the engine, towelled it off , and got out a flashlight. From here on, I started to get a bit of an education regarding the engine of the bike I love. And I also have a tip regarding avoiding the leak I experienced, so read on…
It occurred to me shortly after I bought my first motorbike last year that video taping my rides might be kind of interesting. I started investigating the various options, ranging from duct-taping or velcro-strapping an off-the rack home video camera onto my bike, through custom-built video rigs specific to motorcycling. What I settled on was probably overkill for my needs, and turned out to have some unexpected frustrations: the Race Optics EVO-HD Camera system.