A little background.
A couple of years ago while working in Athens Greece, I saw lots of various types of bikes/scooters. Within the numerous bikes were three specific ones. An Africa Twin and a TransAlp (there was another one but I can't remember the name; Varanado?). When I got home I found those bikes aren't for sale in the states. A V-Strom seemed to be the closest. Having one of each show up at last years WCRMII and having Rita's friend's boyfriend own a TransAlp (they're in Tucson) locked in the brands.
So I popped in on http://www.transalp.org from time to time and watched as the occasional TransAlp was sold, generally before I had a chance to investigate.
Since then I've found myself taking my street bikes off-road. Sort of toe-in-the-water. Unlike many folks who ride, I never road dirt bikes as a kid. The trip to Labrador (pics up at http://www.schelin.org/20060610/day01/albuma.html but ride report still being transcribed) had several folks telling me I was crazy. I was looking for a Wee-Strom for the trip but plans never jelled so I went on the 'busa. I still enjoyed the ride as I always do. I think I might have been able to make the ride to Cartwrite had I been on something more appropriate for the road (I would have made it on the 'busa but for the lateness of the ferry).
Anyway, two weeks ago after Rita found her Ninja 250, I spotted a KLR650 down in Salida for a good price and it had loads of extra gear. I made arrangements to go see it on Saturday but in the mean time, Blake spotted a Honda TransAlp that had just been posted in the classifieds on http://www.advrider.com (http://www.maduko.com/transalp). I was on time, it was within my price range and Rita gave her ok :)
I contacted Rex, got more info and told him I was interested. I posted a request to see if anyone from STN happened to live in Tulsa or were close enough to hop over and check out the bike for me. I had a couple of volunteers however we never got together. But it so happens one of the folks I work with lives in Tulsa and he was more than willing to check it out. He went over, checked over the bike for mechanical issues and it passed the disinterested third party check :)
Friday, with a backpack with minimal gear (two books, camera, flashlight, food, music/autocom, batteries), my Joe Rocket jacket and helmet, I hopped on the local bus and headed downtown. I caught up with the Greyhound bus about an hour early, got my ticket and sat down to wait for the bus.
A bus station is always an interesting place :) Screaming kids (and I mean smack-him-and-his-parents-in-the-back-of-the-head screaming), people who haven't taken a shower in weeks, and just lots of interesting folks :) The line was most of the way across the terminal (jeeze, am I going to have a seat). The bus was 15 minutes late and they came up to make an announcement. "If you're going to Colorado Springs, line up at door 13. If you're going to Pueblo, line up at door 9." Now it's not like your ticket didn't say which door to line up behind but about half the line went to door 13.
I had a seat partner for the first part of the trip so it was a little crowded. I read one of my books (Heinlein's Expanded Universe). When we got to Colorado Springs, the across the aisle seat picked up a rider. He had halitosis so bad it was like a physical bubble, man! In Pueblo, the guy in front and his two kids left and my seat partner shifted up there. Now I have the whole two seats to myself, woo-hoo. Unfortunately the kid behind me has been kicking my seat. I can hear his dad telling him quietly to knock it off. Ultimately the kid goes to sleep.
The bus driver likes to yak. The bus is a sleeper to Amarillo so no video. Please keep it quiet for the comfort of the other passengers. We're going down 52, a little scoot across the Oklahoma panhandle and south to Amarillo (bunch of stuff about connections). While we're not scheduled for any stops, she can't go 6 hours without going to the bathroom and she is sympathetic for the smokers. We'll be "stopping" three or four times for various reasons so there's time for a very quick break.
I snag my JR jacket and use it as a pillow. Because of a couple of young kids who are playing somewhere behind me, I also snag a pair of ear plugs. The guy in front of me (former seatmate) has been giving the kids the evil eye, I guess he's trying to sleep but isn't prepared. Since I have two packs of the foam plugs with me (both less than half full), I give him a pair. I guess he's never seen earplugs before. I started to explain what to do with them but he pops one into his mouth before I get the chance :o
At around 11pm, she had to drop off a couple of packages. Several folks hop off for a quick "light and put it out" break. After we leave, she says that she has to maintain a schedule and that people weren't supposed to get off. If she hops off like this and people aren't on the bus when she closes the door, "you'll be waiting for the next bus." At about 12:30am, we stop at a truck stop for one of the "unofficial" breaks. It lasts about 10 minutes and we all get back on the bus. About 2am we stop for another drop off a package/pick up some papers and we head out. Unfortunately the guy who was across the aisle didn't make it back on the bus His gear was still in the seat so I know he didn't leave and it was still there in Amarillo so I'm pretty sure he didn't make it back on the bus.
At about 4am we arrived in Amarillo. We were about 30 minutes late but my bus didn't leave until 4:50 so I was cool. I walked around for a good bit and then got in line to get on the bus. Unfortunately there were more people than room on the bus. As I finally got up to the door, the bus driver said he would let me get on the bus but if I couldn't find a seat, I'd have to get back off. I shuffled back, spotted a lady with a gigantic bag (check the damn thing), another woman who was sleeping across two seats and at the back, a guy who had a large bag in one of the three seats on the rear bench. I snagged that one. The lady behind me woke up the sleeping woman and got a seat. The last guy apparently didn't have enough balls to tell the guy I was sitting next to to move his bag or to tell the woman at the front to store her bag so he got off. I used to ride the Virginia Railway Express to DC every day. I've sat down on newspapers, peoples briefcases and have had no problems in waking up idiots taking three seats on the commuter train so I know I wouldn't have been adverse to waking up or having bags moved. Too bad for that last guy though. (I might have even sat down in the toilet if I was that desperate to get to Tulsa :) )
I've been sleeping on the bus pretty well, earplugs help a lot. Still, it's just two hours here and one hour there because of stops and the transfer. On the ride to Oklahoma City, I was able to sleep again but the bench seat is right over the engine so I was pretty hot. When I woke up, I checked the time and found I'd only slept for 30 minutes (turns out it was actually 90 minutes as I forgot to take into account the timezone change in checking my clock).
Finally I made it to Tulsa and boy was it hot. Especially since I had my JR jacket on (in mesh mode). I called Rex and left a message then we spotted each other across the parking lot. "Carl?" "Rex?". Shake hands and we head off to his place. Lots of sportbikes around the bus station. Some sort of extreme biking going on downtown.
Rex has a GS now which is why he's selling the Transalp. I get a couple of pics of "my new bike" :D
Rex: "Use this wire to jump start/charge the bike"
The bike wouldn't start. *tick* *tick* *tick*. We attach the charger and let it charge. After a few minutes, it's ready to go.
Charger wires on the ground.
A ride around the block to kick start the battery and it's ready to go. We transfer the funds, title and bill-of-sale.
Posing for the camera.
Can you see the grin :D
Rex and his wife are very nice. I'm invited inside and get a glass of water and relax for a couple of minutes. We talk about his new GS and the other bike he just sold. Unfortunately I have a ways to go before I get home so I excuse myself with handshakes, throw my gear into the Givi trunk, hop on and head over to meet with the guy who checked out the bike for me.
We made arrangements to meet at a local Mexican place (Chimi's). I met James' wife Marcie and we spent 45 minutes or so talking about my bike, his bike, recent trips, and various other things you chat about while eating :) By 2:40pm I was on the road and heading home.
First, gas. I stopped at a Shell and topped off the bike. With no gas guage, I needed to revert back to the tripmeter and Res. I got directions to 412 west (and promptly dicked it up) and headed off in the wrong direction. Perfect start. I headed west on 44 and got off at 66 south. Stopping at a gas station had me picking up a map of Oklahoma. Now I didn't think I was going to need a map is it's a straight run to 412 from Rex's place. Turns out it's a straight run on 244 not 44. After consulting with a map, I turned on 33, north on 97 to 51 and on to 412 west.
In the mean time, the bike seems to pick it up without much trouble for 600cc's. The Givi wind screen is a tad low (or high) which gives me some buffetting. The seat's got a weird shape to it I'll have to get used to. It's more upright so I have to remind myself to sit up straight from time to time. Still, it's just what I expected :D
I make the turn north on 35 and at 130 miles on the tripmeter, I feel the familiar shudder. I reach down and turn the petcock to "Res" and start looking for a station. I figure I have 20 or so miles before I need to worry but at 9 miles I spot a station and pull off.
Ultimately I'll go about 750 miles and get an average of 38.78 miles per gallon.
At the next stop, I park next to a couple on a Harley and head in to grab a soda. When I come back out, a guy on a V-Strom has stopped for gas and we all chatted for a few minutes. VSG asked about the Transalp and we talked about dirt roading. The HDG talked about a poker run they were returning home from. He didn't have a shirt on while the VSG was in full gear and I had the JR jacket (in mesh mode though). He mentioned watching a friend of his getting overcome by the heat and falling while riding. We said that we believed we were cooler since we weren't exposed to the sun and the sweat was cooling us on the rides. He seemed open to the info. Don't know if he'll switch though.
Just a few minutes after getting back on the road, I had to go to reserve for the second time. Hmm, 10 miles shorter (120 miles). I pulled off and grabbed some fuel then back on the road.
Since I had a rough idea now where reserve was, I generally made a gas stop at around 110 miles indicated and a rest stop at about 60 miles.
As I reached Salina, I started looking for a Wendy's. Mainly for the chili. A sign said one was up ahead even though it wasn't on the services sign. I made the turn, saw the Wendy's sign but no sign of the actual Wendy's. I didn't want to compromise so I decided to continue on until I found one. Who knew there isn't a Wendy's on 70 from Salina to Denver?
Making the turn at Salina, the sun was pretty far down towards the horizon but I'm still wide awake so I decided to continue on. When I got to Hays, I had my first "problem". The bike wouldn't start. Err, probably the battery has finally bailed from the heat. I was on a slight decline so I pushed the bike and jump started it (no kick starter). Hmm, worked just fine. I'd pulled off in Hays to grab something to eat but it was 10pm and all the highway food places closed at 10. I'd spoken to Rita and she'd found a Wendy's farther down 183 and she wanted me to stop for the night. Still being wide awake and with the place apparently closing down for the night, I decided to just continue on (I also figured the places were charging an arm and a leg, one of the reasons I prefer to camp).
My biggest concern now were deer or other small animals. As the dark gathered around, I found myself slowing down to 65 (speed limit was 70) and following semis or other vehicles as they passed. I wasn't interesting in doing 85 since there were so many cops out (I passed three stops and a couple sitting on the side of the road since the turn onto 70). That's why I would find myself slowing back down. I didn't want to be too close but also didn't want to get a ticket. It seemed to work. Several times I passed "hidden" cops in the median without issue.
In Oakley, a semi driver and I chatted. He wanted to know if my Transalp was new :) "Well, new to me." He wanted something that'll be road worthy but still be able to access dirt roads for his hunting (he baits bears). Since he wanted something new, I suggested he check out the V-Strom or KLR (I did mention that the KLR was more of a dirt friendly bike that can still access a street; sort of the opposite of the V-Strom or Transalp). He liked the BMW but he thought it was way too expensive.
The temps were dropping. I put the shell back on the JR jacket and ducked down behind the windscreen. To maintain comfort, I found myself shifting my butt back on the passenger seat, my feet on the passenger pegs (much lower than on the Hayabusa) and was just about in sportbike position (the arms were too wide). I was using the heat of the engine to keep my legs warm. The position also kept a majority of the bugs off of my face shield so I could see better. It also kept things quite a bit quieter. I might check out a Laminar Lip (sp?). Unlike the 'busa, perhaps a little more wind blockage would make it a more comfortable ride :) Oh, temps dropped to around 64 degrees.
When I got to the Colorado border, I'd intended on stopping in Burlington to gas up. Somehow I missed the signs and didn't see the gas station I normally see. At this point I figured I was way too tired to be out riding and at the rest stop I pulled in, parked the bike, locked up the backpack and lay down on a park bench. Within seconds I was out and slept for 2 hours.
I woke up at 2:30am, headed over to the bike (wonder of wonders, it's still there :) ), got all set back up, push started the bike (which did wonders for waking me back up) and headed on again. I stopped several times for breaks and one more gas stop.
At 5am Sunday, I finally rolled up the driveway. Home again. I dropped all the gear off in the house. While I was finishing up, Rita stumbled downstairs (she walks Henry at 6am while it's still cool out). I took a short nap.
When I got up, I checked out the bike. The battery isn't one of the sealed ones I'm used to nowadays but one where I can put water (distilled of course) into the openings and it drains out through a hose. Shoot, I could have fixed this in Hays. I filled the holes and let it sit for a few minutes. Installed it back on the bike, push started it, ran down to the gas station and it started right back up with no problem. Going to have to keep an eye on this, maybe get a sealed battery.
And that's it. Hope it wasn't too boring :) Most of the time I write these so I can remember the events, things that might not be generally interesting to everyone :)
Have a great week and ride safe.