Wednesday, February 22, 2012
#112 September 2011
Elsewhere in this fine publication, Hammer details the bullet points of our recently completed 5,000 mile road trip on our rigid Shovelheads. As I read what he wrote, it almost sounds like one disaster after another, but in reality it was no disaster. The story doesn’t describe the thousands of miles just blasting down the road, there’s no real way to describe that and even if there were, we’d need an entire issue to get all the details in. The problems we had with the exception of the Death Valley adventure, all seemed to happen at the end of the day’s riding. The issues that cropped up with the bikes never made us more than an hour and a half behind our self-imposed schedule. All told, we stopped right around 80 times between Detroit and New Orleans. Problem arose at the end of the day, problem was solved (sorta), back on the road the next day. We did have to take an extra day in Vegas over our planned stay there, but it wasn’t that hard to convince us. Plus, we got to see the other side of Vegas, Jeffo took us to a cool Vietnamese sandwich shop, the eats were good and everyone was dressed normally (you just get used to seeing everyone looking like they were headed to the prom in that town).
We had some discipline, we set fairly early wake-up and set-out times and stuck to that. The worst part of the trip was dragging all the stuff from the room and bungeeing it all to the bikes. I had a large leather backpack with all my clothes and stuff in (in giant ziploc bags), a separate leather roll that I kept my tennis shoes in (best part of each day was taking the boots off).
There was just something so cool about riding across the country like that, the changing scenery, the way we were treated by everyone... Bike-wise, we were like a slightly updated Wyatt and Billy, Hammers Longbike Shovel with the long Springer, Me with my shorter WideGlide rigid. Hammer reasoned that Wyatt and Billy were too old for this shit, I have admit, this trip would have been easier when we were in our 20’s, but I’m pretty damn glad we got to do it. I would venture that a lot of our readers would love to do this also, and I encourage you to get out there and do so. When we arrived in New Orleans (which I considered the ‘finish line’ of our trip) we were tired, hot, dirty and pretty shaggy looking. The next morning we were strolling around the streets of The Big Easy like it was any other weekend. Hammer and I have around 110 years between us, I like to think we could do this again and again if we had the time and the bikes held up. I can’t imagine doing this on a bagger, with its insular (minivan) feeling. When we were flying down the road on Highway 74 in Arizona, no helmet, no jackets in the middle of nothing but desert, it was exhilarating.
On the evening before the ACO ride in Rockingham, I found my clutch pack was one solid lump and the magneto had about an inch of water in it. Luckily there were some helpful souls in the parking lot of the hotel there with some tools and they were a big help in getting me going again.
Examining the Shovelhead upon our return, it’s in pretty good shape, once I cleaned off three weeks worth of grime. The headlight burned out on me, which wasn’t a surprise and I had grabbed it out of my 1961 pre unit Triumph project some months before. I had to replace the gas line in Santa Rosa, but only because I broke the inline fuel filter trying to clean it and had no way to join the remaining two pieces of line. There was the plug thread problem, detailed in Hammer’s story, as well as the front wheel thing. Apart from the hot restart problems, the bike ran absolutely great! I’m gonna need a pair of tires before I take it out of town, but I suppose that’s to be expected. I adjusted my drive chain before I left, and it was pretty much at the same adjustment when I got back, that amazed me. I put the old, stock kicker back on, I guess I need to save for a Fab Kevin Strong Arm. Some new tires and I’ll be ready to hit the road again.
The hardest thing about a trip like this, is to come back home and try and get back into the old routine. It’s tough to convince yourself that you need to go exercise, get in the shower and get to work on time, you feel like you should just be getting up, packing up and rolling down the road again.
It was great, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.