Albuquerque to DC in April
Generally, I would not post a ride report involving all Interstate, but I think this one has some interesting lessons in it which may be of use the next time you cross the US to attend a rally, ride an Iron Butt SS50, you know - any time you take on one of motorcycling's little challenges.
I apologize for not taking any pictures - I usually do - but you will get an idea from the context that I had my hands full.
Sunday morning April 20, 2008 and I am sitting at my home office desk with a hot cup of coffee watching the thunderstorm pass over - rivulets are forming in the front yard and we are under a flood watch here in the Virginia suburbs west of Washington, DC, with an inch of rain expected today and another inch tonight. Good thing I got home last night on a beautiful 83 degree afternoon before the front blew in.
So I want to share some notes from the motorcycle trip I just completed - just some things of possible interest I want to share. First the circumstances.
Over the past winter I had not been able to ride my 06 GS ADV much at all, and was really starting to question having that bike. I had done just a little bit of light trail riding and for that I was sacrificing weather protection and a reasonable ride height. So when Don Alejo from ADV Rider told me he was passing through DC on his way back from Argentina to take up a sales job at BMW of Santa Fe, I asked him if he wanted to ride my bike out there. He's a crazy guy, leads motorcycle tours all over the world, so he was up to the task and he rode the bike out to Albuquerque and Sandia BMW, parent dealership of Santa Fe BMW. On the way out, the final drive on the BMW blew up and he had it changed at BMW of Little Rock. That was when I decided I would not go out and recover the bike - I would sell it in ABQ and pick up a new bike here. I had 30,000 miles on the ADV, one final drive failure, and a number of electrical issues including replaced ZFE under warranty. I had looked at R's and RT's at Bob's BMW here in the DCand was kind of thinking along those lines.
Then I called Dean Jones. Dean is a great guy - very professional and experienced sales manager at Sandia and an experienced motorcyclist who loves the sport. I asked Dean to price out a new RT for me with the GS ADV in trade.
Dean called me and told me that he would do that, but did he have a deal for me. An exec bike purchased by the dealership last Fall and fixed up and ridden by the dealership staff as a daily rider and to sales and service meetings, down to Phoenix, stuff like that. Not a demo bike, but a bike for the staff. As such, they had farkled it up - full Remus with graphite can, black powder coat on the wheels and cylinder heads, new BattleAx's front and rear, just completed 6K service - all the stuff I would have done and all the factory stuff you can get on the bike. Lots of folks had offered to buy the unique bike, but Dean made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
The only thing I needed to do was go out and pick it up, a problem for me because I really have no time. So sitting in the First Class lounge waiting for my flight to London the previous week, I just bought myself a ticket to Albuquerque. Last Wednesday I flew out there.
I arrived in the afternoon on Wednesday with just a little bit of gear - some riding pants, light summer riding boots, and my Held Steve gloves. I had never met Dean but he came out to Albuquerque Sunport in a beautiful new 535i twin turbo (dealer demo - Sandia is a car/bike BMW dealership) and picked me up. We went back to the dealership and looked at all the cool stuff - brand new M6, stuff like that. Then a couple of locals from the ADV board came out to meet me and after that I bought a new HJC flip-face helmet, completed the transaction, and went over to the hotel next to the dealership to repack and rest.
So as I repacked I watched the Weather Channel. On Monday it had looked like a clear ride, but now I could see a front forming over the great plains that I would be riding into. I had a Gerbing jacket I was going to return for Don Alejo to another guy in the DC area and I discovered that the controller/BMW plug was not in the stuff I picked up at the dealership. Uh oh, going to be a cold ride. I had an old BMW Kilimanjaro jacket and the non-functioning Gerbing and that was it - yikes - I had to hope the bike's weather protection, heated grips and seats would keep me warm enough as I left the next morning in the pre-dawn darkness.
I awoke the next morning as snow fell just to the north. I loaded up the bike, and at 0445 pointed it East - it was bitterly cold and I looked down at my RID to see air temp at 37 and the little "snowflake" frost warning blinking at me.
To be continued.