Here it is JUNE already. It's been a hectic spring so we've been lax at getting more "POOP" up on the site. John and Johnny II are in Salem this weekend, racing at the Western Reserve Motorcycle Club. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to write about our recent trip to Connecticut for Memorial weekend. John and I wanted to surprise my sister who graduated from University of Connecticut with her Masters on Thursday. What a perfect opportunity to haul out there on the bikes just in time to surprise her in the parking lot after the commencements!
Then I found out what bike John planned to take. It is a given that John is a dyed-in-the-wool vintage motorcycle enthusiast. This actually translates into "don't add anything to this bike that didn't come with it originally" (including luggage, throttle rest, anything that may help the comfort factor when trying to put 575 miles behind you in a day.) When I learned that John was riding his naked KZ1000 Mark II, I knew we were in for a potentially long and tiring trip. I did convince him to carry his own bag on his bike, and even a map pocket! Since we weren't going to camp, I did have room for everything on the BMW if need be. When it comes to touring, John and I have different theories about riding styles. I'm all about doing what it takes to keep comfortable while wracking up the miles. It's the little things that make a huge difference in stamina.
So we departed for Connecticut Thursday morning later than I had hoped. I find that's when the gremlins show up, just as you're leaving on a trip and you realize as you are ready to put the bike in gear that you forgot to do--whatever-- and it can't wait until you return. It makes me crazy and it happened all morning.
Since we were riding against the clock and had to be in CT by 8 pm, we decided to slab it heading East. We got out on I-76 and had barely made it to I-80 when John signaled to break for gas. Neither of us could believe that he was already on his reserve tank in 95 miles! The KZ was guzzling fuel at a rate of 26.4 mpg. (3.59 gallon tank). This beautiful bike is also a thirsty one. So this really was going to be a long ride. Stopping every 95 miles gave John a chance to rest his butt and stretch out a little more often, which was a blessing in disguise.
Aside from our multiple stops for gas, we stopped for John to put on his rain gear as we were heading into a pretty major thunderstorm around Lake Wallenpaupeck PA. Like I say with the right equipment, you can just ride on through and hardly notice the storm around you other than slowing down a bit for the slick roads and visibility. John's experience of this trip so far was far different from mine as you can imagine, fighting the wind and weather. During each stop, he cursed the seat he had on the KZ. I'm thinking at this point, had I packed my beaded seat or Airhawk just in case, he may just have taken me up on the offer to strap some non-original piece of equipment to his genuine Kawasaki to literally save his aching butt!
All in all it was a good trip. We didn't make it in time for graduation, but ended up surprising my sister at a Japanese sushi restaurant afterwards. She was floored. This alone made the trip well worth it.
Memorial weekend also marks the annual Charter Oak BMW Rally in Marlborough CT, hosted by The CT River Valley BMW Riders Club, a group I've been a member of since 1989. So while we visited we had a chance to drop into the rally, see a few friends, tell tires and kick some lies around. Pretty nifty.
While visiting with friends and family, we made a side trip to the local Kawasaki dealer, Midtown Kawasaki in Rocky Hill, to visit our friend Brian McCann, show off the KZ and peruse the parts inventory. John was in seventh heaven. That is, until I asked him (hopefully) if he had left his side cover back home in the garage for some reason because I saw that it was missing. The look on his face told me that the sidecover had blown off somewhere between my mother's house and Midtown. DAMN. I hadn't seen it blow off because I lead the way in my mother's car as Mom came along with us. So THIS is why you don't take precious relics on the road! Well, not if you're going to get so bent up about it that it ruins the trip. John was upset for a short while but hey, now he's got another quest. The bitter pill is that he just had the tank and sidecovers sent to Japan to be painted so this was their maiden voyage. Somewhere in CT on the Berlin Turnpike, or thereabouts, there is a KZ1100 Mark II sidecover kicking around. Please keep an eye out for it and let us know if you come across it!
We decided to take two days to return to Ohio, this way we could enjoy some secondary roads. We rode to Scranton PA via I-84, cutting North to I-81 then got onto route 6. My only fear was that we'd be encountering a lot of closed parade routes, but luckily this wasn't the case. We stopped at a favorite hangout for lunch along Route 6, the authentic "Wellsboro Diner." If you are into the real old fashioned diners, this one is a gem and the food is terrific.
Along about Coudersport, the skies opened up once more. (If you're riding with me, you're riding in the rain at some point or other!) We found a vacant Pontiac dealership in an old building that featured a covered carport, so ducked in there to get the rainsuit on again. I swear by my Aerostich suit. Rain or shine, you just zip up the vents and you're good to go, no stopping to don or shed rain gear. John's not so much into wearing heavy riding gear unless he's racing or it's cold. I got him a set of Frog Toggs for walking around at soggy swap meets, and this is what he wears on the road if I pack them. Even in this storm, John managed to get soaked through and between that and his seat, he was "done" with this secondary roads nonsense. He just wanted to get home. At this point we were heading south on PA 66 into Shippensburg, so I-80 was close at hand.
Our trip totaled +1,250 miles. Any trip that ends safely is a good one, IMO. It was great to get out on the bikes, this would be our first long distance trip of the riding season. I've decided this wasn't the year to ride to Redmond OR for the BMWMOA National Rally, as there is way too much going on. There will be other years for the national, and a slew of other rallies and meets to look forward to.
Thanks for checking in with us. When John returns from racing, I'll get him to inject some of his own perspective of the trip to CT, as well as some feedback on how he and Johnny II did at the races today. If you have some time, check out the new Movies page on our site. There you'll find YouTube movies we made of Hilo's H2 Superbike project. He's making great progress on it and it looks like he'll be ready to unveil it at Mid Ohio! Ride safe, and remember, beaded seats are not
a bad thing... --Robin