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Sunday, July 11, 2010

360 Miles--some smart--some not so smart

A couple weeks ago I had the weather and the schedule to allow me to ride to work pretty much every day.  Rather than take the straight shot home each night, i delved off onto some of the back roads to get to my house.  Each day I felt a bit more confident on the roads--i knew where the gravel seemed to be accumulating, had a sense of the traffic--and started upping the speeds.  Found the bike sliding in some sharper corners but I attributed it to dust on the road.  Turns out, as a co-worker pointed out to me, my front tire was showing the tread wear bars.  The back was center-worn from all the highway rides to and from work, but I hadn't really noticed the front getting that bad that quickly.  so....a few calls around town and i lined up some tires from my local shop.  Continental Conti Motions...$253 installed...a pretty good deal.

Yesterday I rode down to the shop and had them popped on...left the shop and head to Madison to meet Marcia as she had a class down there over the weekend into next week.  I had about 40 miles on the tires and took a really nice 270 degree, slightly downhill, positive camber freeway exchange.  Felt like the bike was going to lean forever, i instantly liked them.  The ride from La Crosse to Madison is about 135 miles of boring highway.  there are better ways to go, but I was on a time schedule--so i substituted with getting on and off the highway on the interesting looking exits.  The new tires stuck really well.

Took one side cut into Madison through Barraboo.  The road has some really nice, fast bends and a shot through three traffic circles (when times are tough you get your corners where you can).  The fast sweepers were so easily dispatched at 100mph it was scary.  The Concours has always felt like it handled well, but the new tires took it up a level.

So...the ride down was as good as I could make it--for a straight shot make some time ride. But, preparedness is something we motorcyclists are supposed to take seriously--and i blew it.  See I forgot to bring a clear face shield for my helmet and my two and a half hour ride would see me heading home in the dark for the last 45 minutes or so.  now if you don't live in Wisconsin you probably don't get to see the hundreds of dead deer along the roads that we Wisconsinites do each year.    That thought reminded me of a ride home from Sturgis i did with my friend Dave Withrow

Here is the short version--We rolled out of Spearfish at about 9 am...expecting to do a 500-600 mile day and find a hotel when we got tired.  Sometime just after Denver where the temperature was about 60--a sharp contrast to the 90 degree temps of Spearfish when we left, we found out that Colorado was pretty much sold out of hotel rooms.  There were about 10 different festivals going on and hotels were a commodity.  but about the 750 mile mark in the day darkness had come upon us and we were coming through the fairly unpopulated part of the state.  I dropped speed dramatically and at the next gas stop Dave starts yelling at me the minute my helmet came off "why did you slow down?  I was going crazy behind you going that slow!"  I said "didn't you see the hundreds of deer on the side of the road?" Dave suddenly smiled and said "um, no.  Notice the dark face shield i have on?  I can't see anything but your taillight.  OK, you go ahead and set the pace"... we ended up finding a hotel at about the 900 mile mark, at about 3 a.m..

In my case it wasn't quite that ad, I have a taller Cee bailey shield on the Concours that allows me to put it all the way up and keep my face shield open...but considering that I have saddlebags, it wasn't so smart not packing the clear shield.

More tire reporting to come....now I have to go wash about a billion bugs off the bike