Today turned out very well. The heay rains and subsequent really sticky weather went away and we had very pleasant riding weather: sunny but not hot or particularly humid.
There were two starts, the first at 7am at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel, the home base for registration and tech inspection. This hotel is immediately adjacent to a new, huge and very modern building for Orange County Choppers. Although I didn't have the opportunity or time to take a look, they were helping out riders in any way they could. Team HMS (1929 BMW R11) discovered that they didn't have a tool to remove the rather bizarre 8 sided jam nut that holds the left side rear wheel bearing to the frame. They went in and fellow at the counter had a correct sized hollow cut on their water jet, then welded to a backing plate with a 3/8s drive socket for a ratchet. (My bike has the same item, but I just use a big Crescent wrench. Now I'm envious of their special OCC tool!)
So, we were supposed to line up at the hotel for a sort of a parade start, each bike leaving at 15 second intervals beginning at 7:00:00. My time was actually supposed to be 7:01:30 (as compared to the 7:01:45) I reported earlier, but there was no official at the hotel to organize or oversee the event, and a few minutes after seven there was a general rush to the exits.
The second start was at 9am at the Motorcyclepedia Museum, about 4 miles away. In between was a hosted breakfast and time to view a bit of the enormous museum. They seemed to have one of every Indian and a heckuva lot of Harleys. I did see an R69S bunched together with some British and Japanese bikes in a corner.
The second start was only slightly more organized than the first, but eventually everyone got going. The route involved 12 pages of instructions, but was very clear and, other than missing a turn that occured 0.15 miles after the previous instruction, I had no difficulties.
The big bikes cruised along, although it was clear that some riders were more practiced with the arcane controls of their bike than others. Speaking of which, I must give a shout out to Peter Nettesheim, who explained to me how to double clutch my bike so that I didn't clash the gears everytime I shifted into second. With his clear explanation, it worked great, and I'm making a lot less noise and probably removing a lot less steel from the two second gears. (On these older BMW transmissions, 1st and 3rd are in constant mesh, but when you shift, you are actually moving second gear on the output shaft back and forth and forcing it into mesh with its counterpart on the input shaft.)
The R52 ran great and did the entire route with little drama. Maybe the biggest problem was that one of the knobs on my routebook holder came loose. Don Cameron successfully sealed the nose of the final drive, so that messy little leak is over with. Samantha followed me the entire day, and I really appreciate that. Even after she had drained her camera's battery, she was still back there running her flashers and keeping the regular traffic back a bit.
Tomorrow is a long day, 320 miles, and it also includes a 62 mile stretch of I-90 from the east side of Cleveland to Sandusky, OH, our destination. There is an option given to us by the organizers to declare tomorrow morning that we will end just before Cleveland, and our chase vehicles can then transport us to Sandusky; but it isn't a free ride, we lose the 60 points that represent those miles. I have decided to go for the full ride instead.
Here's a quick preview of the R52 in action:
Things are looking up! The Sprinter spent Tuesday and Wednesday at a local shop. They replaced the fuel filter and the "turbo resonator" (a device that muffles the output of the turbocharger, is made of plastic, and has a poor reputation because it splits along a molded seam, as mine did), and now the Sprinter runs fine again.
Our hosts in the greater Newburgh area, my friends Jeff and Samantha, let us borrow their pickup and trailer to take the R52 down to the hotel on Wednesday to get registered and put the bike through tech inspection. It was raining cats and dogs, so I decided not to do the 42 mile test ride. Instead, we hung around a bit and I was able to pigeonhole Lonnie Isam, the organizer, and get a few details worked out.
Jeff Wu had a last minute crisis and couldn't make it out to New York, so Samantha is taking over for him, taking some video mounted from her R1150R. She will do this out to Milwaukee and then Jeff will rejoin the team in Sturgis.
This morning we got the Sprinter back and we loaded things up and reorganized so that the bike can be loaded and unloaded without having to unload a lot of other stuff. We got out to the hotel around noon and after a while of meet and greet, I took the R52 out on the test loop. Things went very well: I was able to use my home made roadbook holder easily and the bike ran well. Samantha said, and I also saw on my electronic speedo, that the bike attained a bit over 60 mph at its fastest, which is very adequate. I have to tweak the front tire circumference in the speedo as it lost a couple tenths over the course of 40 miles. The only real problem was the rear brake adjuster knob fell off, but Sam saw it and grabbed it. (Losing that means not having any rear brakes.) Oh, and the large doe in the middle of the road we saw as we rounded a downhill righthander, so I was trying capture some momentum for the coming uphill.
On return, the bike had a couple of its persistent weeps in evidence. Where the cap on the front of the final drive meets the body, there is a flaw in the mating surface, and it usually drips a bit of oil. This makes a terrible mess and oils the sidewall (but not the tread) of the rear tire. So we pulled it off, cleaned things up, and then tried to goop it up a bit more. Tomorrow we will find out how well we did. There's also a small weep from where the magneto mates to the top of the crankcase, which results in a bit of oil on the right floorboard, which is also an annoyance. I'm inclined to ignore that unless we have some further reason to have to remove the mag, which seems to be performing very well (as is the integral generator, which powered my headlight and taillight for the entire trip).
There was a riders' meeting in the afternoon, which went over a variety of topics, then the opening dinner banquet, which was very nice and lots of fun. At the end of dinner the rules and regs were emphasized and then a lot of people retreated to the bar, but we headed back to Sam's house for an early evening.
Tomorrow morning we have to be lined up at the hotel, ready to go on our assigned 15 second intervals (mine is 7:01:45). We are actually only riding 4 miles over to the Motorcyclepedia Museum, where there will be a two hour breakfast and display for the public. Then we line up and leave at 9am. 210 miles later, hopefully, we will pull into Wellsboro. The route sheets indicate that much of tomorrow's ride will be over US-6, especially in Pennsylvania. A lot of questions will be answered tomorrow, I hope I like them.
Well, we made late last night to NY. Crawling up all those hills in the Alleghenies at about 40mph really had me watching my mirrors. The Sprinter is at a shop this morning and I'm hoping to hear back soon what the problem is. In the meantime, Steve and I are recovering from four long days of sitting still. Don will be here in another couple hours.
Jeff Wu won't be able to be here at the start, so we are abducting our hostess, Samantha Lucas, to be our camera bike rider through to Milwaukee. Team Boxer Rebellion is rolling with the punches!
Well, Steve Woodward (my chase van driver) and I are in South Bend, IA this morning, after three long days of driving. Our goal is to land, late tonight, at my friends' house in Amenia, NY.
However, the trip has not been without incident. The Sprinter, which has its quirks but has not given me any troubles, put up an engine check light when I fired it up Friday morning to leave. So, we drove over to the shop that has worked on it and they the codes -- two weak glow plugs (out of 5). They reset the code and said it shouldn't be a problem for us unless we had to cold start it on a cold morning.
So, we were on our way. Over the Sierra Nevada mountains and into Reno for fuel. But out on the highway again, the engine check light popped on for no discernable reason. Then, the van lost power and went into what is referred to on the Sprinter forums as "limp home mode", which limited us to about 65mph and pretty slow acceleration (even for the Sprinter). We stopped in Salt Lake City for the night but couldn't find anyone who could even read the code on Saturday morning of a three day weekend. So, we limped along to North Platte, NE and South Bend today and hopefully NY tonight. Tomorrow we will try to find a shop with some Sprinter savvy so Steve doesn't have to limp all the way back across the continent.
Otherwise, things are going well -- neither of us yet wants to murder the other! Don Cameron, our chief mechanic, is riding his Gold Wing from Deming, NM. Last night he stopped in Kankekee, IL, leaving him 800 miles from Amenia. He'll do most of that today, we might even see him on I-80, but will stop for the night somewhere short of Amenia, and will roll in tomorrow.