|Summer 2020||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Greetings! I hope this finds you well! Since I published the Spring edition in March, life has changed considerably for most if not all of us. More than 180,000 Americans have died and millions are out of work. I count myself extremeley lucky to be able to write about my hobby.
STAR 2020 and six regional MSTA events have been cancelled. However the usual suspects, our little riding group consisting of 6 MSTA members from 4 different states was determined to burn some rubber. A trip to Utah originally scheduled for April was called off due to pandemic related travel and dining restrictions. After some restrictions were eased in May we rescheduled for June in place of the original STAR 2020 dates. See Tony Crowel's Part One write up on this trip. Also in this issue are my two tales of woe: my lost Givi topcase and aborted Red River Gorge Rally. But First, Tony concludes his saga of last years Alaska Trip. Enjoy!
Day Fourteen. Crawford, NE to Hays, KS
After the storms of the previous afternoon, we awoke to the slightly wet roads and the cool, clean smelling air of western Nebraska. Turning due south from Crawford, we cruised down Nebraska highway 71, which turned out to be very scenic with hills, a few curves and even some trees. We were headed to Alliance and a stop for breakfast and fuel.
The fuel stop is where things got interesting. Chris and I took off east. Scott followed with Kevin just behind. Before they got up to speed, Kevin saw something fall off Scott’s Pannier then saw what appeared to be MONEY flying over the streets of Alliance! Scott had placed his wallet on the pannier, and it blew off just after departing. Scott soon realized he was missing a wallet and looked back to see Kevin chasing money all over West 3rd street! Scott stopped to help Kevin chase money, all the while entertaining the folks at the local Ford dealer who had all run to the window to see, what was probably the funniest and most exciting thing to happen in Alliance in a while.
After the excitement of the money chase, we headed east on NE highway 2. This would take us to more of the Nebraska sand hills. Unlike the flat farmland of much of the state, these little hills come with a fair number of curves. We had a very enjoyable ride all the way to Ogallala and our next gas stop. Chris decided to strike out on his own from here and headed to Wichita. Kevin, Scott and I continued south into Kansas. At Oakley, I needed gas, so Scott and I stopped for food and fuel. Kevin continued on to Hays aboard the Supertanker.
After refueling, I noticed a steak house across the street. Always game to eat a dead cow, I suggested a mid-afternoon snack. This is where the second comical incident of the day occurred. After our meal, we tried to mount up for the last miles to Hays. Unbeknownst to us, while we were dining inside THOUSANDS of small bees swarmed our two parked motorbikes. In order to put our helmets on we had to step about 6 feet away from the bikes to avoid them getting inside. It seemed they were interested in snacking on the many dead bugs that were now plastered to the fronts of our bikes. I will never know how it was we did not get stung by the little bastards. I guess the bugs tasted better than us.
We made it to our slightly run-down Baymont in Hays without further incident. Kevin, Scott and I would have our final meal of the trip together at Freddy’s Frozen Custard next door. We would lose Kevin here as he was scheduled to leave about 3 AM the next morning. Scott and I had planned on leaving about 5:30 but something very interesting happened that woke us up early.
Day Fifteen. Hays, KS to Highfill, AR
At about 3 am, a 4.5 earthquake centered about ten miles north of Hays shook me awake! I was sound asleep and at first thought it was a thunderstorm until I realized that a thunderstorm would not be causing my bed and the floor to shake. Since we were both up, we decided to pack up and beat some of the inevitable heat that we would feel on the way from Hays to Scott’s house in NW Arkansas.
Riding now in the cool air south on US183. No traffic, just Scott, me and a few deer and rabbits. With very few cars on the road I was able to use high beams plus driving lights to light a nice path south. As we turned east on US 54 the sun was coming up which made it a struggle to see as we were looking directly into it for at least a few minutes. After stopping for gas near Wichita, we jumped on the Interstate south for a few miles until turning east again onto US160. 160 would take us into the neat little town of Winfield. Then we sort of stair-stepped our way across southern Kansas to US166, through Coffeyville and then south into Oklahoma on US59.
About the time we hit Oklahoma the first real heat of the trip started to creep through our riding gear. No big deal really as we only had about 2 more hours until we reached Scott’s place and head straight for the swimming pool!
Scott’s Alaska adventure was now officially over as we made it safely to his place. I had 2 more days to go and little did I know the most exciting day of the trip would be next!
Day Sixteen. Highfill, AR to Texarkana, AR
I left Scott and Eileen's with just a sprinkle...HOWEVER, 3 hours of hard rain had created a lot of water on and over the road. My first water crossing was only about 4 inches deep. No problem.
BUT...the next was a little trickier. I came across about 6 cars and 5, 18 wheelers stopped on the road, with drivers standing outside looking at a 20 foot- wide stream flowing swiftly across the roadway.
I rode around the line of cars to investigate. The water here looked to be about 6 or 7 inches deep. Plus... there was all type of debris and logs floating across the road. I was fairly certain I could ride through the depth of water but was unsure if a log might take me down. So...I had to time my crossing just right.
I made it through to the other side with only one, 6 foot-long log going by my rear wheel as I came out of the “river”.
After making it out safely, the truckers loaded up and went through. I guess they figured if a nut on a motorbike could make it through, an 80,000 pound truck and trailer could.
I made it to a nice convenience store near Sallisaw, OK that had outdoor tables perfect for shedding my rain gear. As I sat there contemplating the recent events, it occurred to me that I failed to video what was THE most exciting part of the entire trip. I had the camera mounted on my handlebars and COULD have filmed it all. I was so worried that I might not be able to cross the torrent that I completely forgot to reach up a turn the camera on. DAMN IT!!!
I continued down US59 to US259 crossing the Talimena Scenic drive which is always fun. South of there I ran into a long line of stopped traffic in Hokatown, just north of Broken Bow. I searched my google maps for a bypass around the mess and finally found a dirt road that came out ahead of the traffic near Broken Bow. A few others had also found the same road, so I had to endure a huge cloud of dust for about 2 miles. By the time I reached the highway again, I looked like the dusty motorcycle- dispatch rider in the movie “1941”.
After a stop for gas in Idabel, OK, I decided that I had enough excitement for the day and booked a room at the Holiday Inn in Texarkana, AR. By now I was fully ensconced in the heat and humidity of the south and decided that after a good rest, I would depart about 3 AM and make the rest of my journey to Baton Rouge in the relatively cool early morning air.
Day Seventeen. Texarkana, AR to Baton Rouge, LA
Mother Nature would change my plans for my last day on the road. My plan to beat the heat was cancelled about 2 AM when a monstrous line of heavy thunderstorms rolled through Texarkana on the way to Louisiana. I woke up and turned on the TV to try and ascertain the route of the weather system. It appeared to me that If I waited in Texarkana until about 10 or 11 AM, I might be able to slide in behind the system and ride storm-free all the way home. I got up about 8 and had a leisurely breakfast then went back to bed for about an hour and a half. About 10ish, I turned on the weather channel and continued to watch the line of storms that was heading southeast along my intended route. This plan just might work out! I departed about 11 AM heading southeast on I-49 toward home. Just nipping at the tail of the storms and making it home with no further drama. After 7400 miles the trip was done. I hope to make it back someday, but next time go all the way to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean. Me and the boys had a great time on a trip that will not soon be forgotten.
I sometimes have 2 or 3 trip plans in the works at one time. For example, I’m currently planning a 2021 trip to California and 2022 trip to the Pacific Northwest. I started planning this Utah trip in the summer of 2019 after returning from Alaska.
As with most of my longer trips, I am joined by my long-time riding buddies; some of whom still work, so that creates planning hurdles to deal with. You want to plan a trip to take in the most roads and scenery, but you must be mindful that others need to be back at work. I love a challenge! But most of all I’m just glad my friends can join me on these epic adventures.
And so, it was…that we planned to leave for Utah in April. However, Corona virus closings along our intended route thwarted those plans and we ended up going in June. The weather in the deep south in June is already starting to get miserable. Not as bad as July and August but hot and steamy, nonetheless.
Day one: Baton Rouge to Mt. Pleasant,Texas. True to form, as I departed my house at 4:32 A.M., it was indeed hot and steamy. My destination was Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Due to the heat I was going to break the ride from my house to Scott’s in North West Arkansas into 2 days. The plan was to leave Scott’s house on Saturday along with Bob Chappuis who would also be meeting me there. Except for some early morning fog, my ride to Mt. Pleasant was uneventful. I arrived about 1 p.m. before the heat became unbearable and settled into the Holiday Inn.Day two: Mt. Pleasant to Highfill, Arkansas. On the road at 5:55 A.M. Or should I say on the wrong road. I’ve stayed in Mt. pleasant many times on my trips. So…I should have remembered to cut through the gas station and turn right onto Bus 271. Instead, I just rode onto the street in front of the hotel thinking IT was 271. IT… was just a small Farm to Market Road that got smaller and rougher as I followed it north. It parallels 271 so it took me a few minutes to wake up and realize my mistake. Oh well, I just continued north avoiding the biggest potholes until I finally ran back onto US271. It pays to be fully awake before starting a trip.
After a stop at Denny’s in Paris for breakfast, I rode on to Hugo and then Antlers. My intent was taking OK2 through Moyers and continue north to I-40.
OK 2 was a very nice and scenic road with some great curves between Yanush and Wilburton. Continued up OK82 and OK10, both great roads. When I got to US412 west of Siloam Springs, I knew I was only minutes away from Scotts place, but I was a little early,(he was still at work). I stopped into a sandwich shop to kill some time and cool off. Apparently, it wasn’t far from Scotts office, he called and said he would meet me there. I was almost finished when he arrived. Soon, we were heading towards his place. Bob was coming in from the east and wasn’t far behind me, so I waited for him before donning swimming attire and hitting the pool…Ahhh.
As is always the case, Scott and his wife Eileen treated us like royalty, and we had a very relaxing stay at their beautiful place in the NWA!
Day three: Highfill to Canadian, Texas. On Saturday morning, Scott, Bob and I left NWA for points west…namely, Canadian, Texas. We were to meet Chris Laderer in Canadian on Saturday evening and meet up with the final member of our group on Sunday in New Mexico.
We had a nice ride across Oklahoma until we reached Fairview on U.S. 60. By then the heat and wind had started to build. Luckily for us, we only had about 2 hours left until Canadian. The highlight of this last 2 hours was riding alongside the longest train I have ever seen. I have ridden across the prairies and out west for years and have never come across one this long. It had two engines in front, 2 in the center and 2 at the rear. I don’t know exactly how long it was, but I know it could have been measured in miles, not feet.
As we pulled into the Best Western, Chris was just arriving from the south, having ridden up from Houston. We all checked in and got cleaned up in anticipation of going next door to the Stumbling Goat Saloon. We had been there on a previous trip and found that it was THE place to be in Canadian. Unfortunately for us Covid had claimed the Goat and it was closed. The Cattle Exchange WAS open though. A very good restaurant if you are ever in Canadian. After a great meal we walked up the street to the Palace Theater, an old theater that has been beautifully refurbished and has regular showing of the latest movies. The lobby has all the refreshments you could want so that’s where we had our dessert. The owner gave us a tour of the place and told us a little about its history. If you are ever in Canadian, I highly recommend a trip to the Palace!
Day four: Canadian to Chama, New Mexico. Up at the crack of dawn, bikes loaded our new team of four left the hotel looking for a good breakfast. Those dreams were dashed when we found out that; at least in the Panhandle, there are almost NO breakfast places open on Sunday morning. My riding buddies know that breakfast is VERY important to me. It’s my favorite meal of the day. Always has been, always will be. So…the day was starting off bad for me. I knew there were no good places open on our route so that left us with no alternative but to stop at the McDonald’s in Dalhart. I was off the bike into the store like a shot. We had been riding several hours and I needed to sit down, relax and have at least a semblance of breakfast. No one was more surprised than I to see ALL the seats at McDonalds roped off with what looked like crime scene tape. Apparently, the management thought that if you walked to the counter, ordered food and SAT down, that we would somehow infect his 10 employees who were standing around doing nothing but drive thru service. I of course was furious and refused to buy anything. The others didn’t feel like Michael Douglas in the movie “Falling Down” and ate the crappy food.
After refueling, it was into NM and onto US56 at Clayton headed west. About halfway to Springer, I called Kevin on my Cardo to see where he was. He had left Amarillo earlier, so he had a bit of a head start on us. It turns out he was about 30 miles in front of us. We met him at a gas stop in Cimarron, NM. Now the group to Utah was complete. It was also just west of here that the good roads began. US64 across northern NM is curvy and scenic through much of the Land of Enchantment. We were soon riding the way the bikes were supposed to be ridden.
All was well until….(insert record scratching sound here), we saw Kevin pulled over by the Man! The rest of us rode by the sorry sight and pulled over at a wide spot in the road about a mile away. Kevin eventually showed up and told us he had only received a warning. Oh well…back on the gas headed west to Taos.
Lots of traffic in and around Taos, I wish they would build a loop around the place. The riding really got good once we passed Tres Piedras. We had U.S. 64 to ourselves and the weather was great! Just before Tierra Amarillo the good road petered out, but we were only a few scant miles from our motel in Chama. We stayed at the Chama Trails Inn in Chama, a nice little Mom and Pop place next to a restaurant…THAT WAS CLOSED! It seems just about everything in NM was closed.
We ended up walking across the street to the grocery store and having a picnic in our rooms. This trip was starting to worry me.
Day five: Chama to Hanksville, UT. The fifth day started off with cool and beautiful weather that saw us crossing into Colorado in about 20 minutes. I would not be denied breakfast this morning as we found a great restaurant just at the entrance to Pagosa Springs. The ride from Pagosa to Cortez was uneventful with decent scenery but no fantastic curves. Just south of Cortez, we took a shortcut to Utah. County Road G was a great little road that was freshly paved for about 15 miles, then got a bit rougher until the Utah border where it changed to Ismay Trading Post Road. Next stop was for gas and refreshments at the Sinclair station in Bluff. It was the only game in town and the rudeness of the workers was quite evident. Not my favorite place, but because of its location, got to see lots of motorcyclist. Mostly, ADV riders taking advantage of the great off-road riding in Utah.
Out of there and not far down the road we turned onto Utah 261 which would take us up the Mokie Dugway and out of the rapidly building desert-floor heat. This road has been on my bucket list for a long time. Even the stutter bumps and biggish rocks didn’t dampen my joy at riding it. Beautiful views of Southern Utah can be had from the top. Only about 2 miles are dirt but just as you get to the top, we turned left on another bucket list road to Mulie Point. The point is atop high cliffs that overlook the San Juan River with stunning views. This road was super smooth for dirt and 70 mph speeds could be easily achieved. After a lengthy photo session, we backtracked back to Utah 261 and headed for our lodging for the night in Hanksville.
261 runs into Utah 95 and about the time we got to that intersection it was starting to get cloudy and cold. We layered up a bit and continued north for our next camera stop at the Hite Crossing bridge. The bridge crosses the Colorado River here and provided us with awesome views and photo ops! It was down in the 50’s now and we could see it snowing on the mountain tops to our west. Just as we rolled into Hanksville, the road turned to gravel, sometimes deep. I was praying that tomorrows route would be gravel free so we could enjoy the curves. As it turns out ….it was. That was the last of the deep gravel.
We spent the night at Dick’s Slickrock Cabins and campground. A bit pricy, but it was my personal favorite of the entire trip. Very nice cabins located just behind a great restaurant…that served BREAKFAST!
End part one
More Pictures From the Utah Trip
By Ninja Bob
I've been using Givi luggage for many years. I had E360 sidecases and an E460 topcase on my 1999 Blackbird and on then on my 99 VFR800 when I lost the Blackbird to a garage fire. The plastic luggage works very well and is very tough and durable. I can't say the same for Givis mounting hardware. On my first long trip on the VFR the Givi side case mounts cracked on day two. It was easy to see the problem: the the mounting frames were assembled with tack welds, a quicky semi automated welding technique and not REAL welds with an actual metal bead fusing the two pieces of steel together. The tack welds had cracked and the cases were barely being supported, another couple hundered miles and they would have just fallen off. Luckily we were in I Amarillo for the night, no shortage of welding shops in this rugged city. I found a good one a couple of miles from my motel (recommended by the checkin lady at the Big Texan Motel) and I soon had case mount hardware that would last a lifetime. A few years later I would have a similar issue with the Givi mount for my Suzuki SV650, repaired by Bellues Welding in Baton Rouge. But I digress.
Fast forward 15 years or so and I am on an 3500 mile adventure with 4 buddies to Utah on my 2017 Ducati Multistrada 950 equipped with a Givi V47 topcase mounted on a plastic SW-Motech adapter plate mounted to an aluminum SW-Motech rear rack.
The aluminum rack is stout and attaches to the Multistrada rails with stout cast aluminum clamps and strong hex bolts. But when I first saw the way the plastic adapter plate attached to the aluminum rack I was concerned. Three spring loaded quick cam locks: you insert the three steel pins and give a half turn to snug them down. I would much rather have the four M8 bolts and lock nuts used on all my previous Givi plates. But once installed the quick cams felt solid and after a couple thousand miles without problem I forgot about it.
And all went well for the first 7 days of our 10 day trip, including some rough riding on the Moki Dugway. But on day 8 we rode New Mexico 456 in the remote northeast corner of the state, including a 17 mile unpaved stretch. We had stopped for brunch in Trinidad, Co then headed east on US 160 for about 40 miles before turning south onto Colorado 389 and into New mexico. During this strech the road was wide open and smooth and I stretched the Multistrada's legs. The Givi V47 topcase does not enhance the Multistradas aerodyamics and generates a weave at about 110 mph. But this time was different and I easily hit 120. After turning south we crossed into New Mexico after about 12 miles then turned east again on NM 456 which follows the Dry Cimmaron River. 456 was a bit rough. We reached the unpaved section and the more capable off road riders had a pace I wasn't eager to ride. I dropped back to let their dust settle. When I arrived at the end of the unpaved section Kevin was taking photographs.
With the group back together we continued on into the Oklahoma panhandle and stopped in Boise City for gas. This is when I notice my topcase was gone. I told the guys I was gonna back track and look for the lost Givi. I had not gone far when I got a text from Chris. I was already thinking what was I going to do if I found the case and the mount was broken, how would I would I bring it home? Chris's text said that Kevin had looked at his pictures and the case was missing when he took photos some 40+ miles back in New Mexico. And I remembered that the usual instability the topcase caused at high speed had been absent more than 100 miles back. I gave up and turned around. I would have to make the remaining 3 days without rain gear or tire repair tools.
The remainder of the trip would be uneventful, the weather hot but no rain and no flat tires. I did not make a full inventory of the the contents of the topcase that would need to be replaced but reckoned all together the loss was about $1000. In addition to rain gear I had also packed heated gloves and a heated jacket liner and a rain liner that were needed for cold mountain mornings since most of the days called for a mesh jacket. I had also packed a spare Zumo 395. I chalked it up to the cost of a great hobby and decided to just enjoy the rest of the trip. We stayed in Amarillo that night and had a great dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch.
We split up after that night,(June 10) With Scott and Chris heading in different directions, Kevin trailering and Tony preferring to beat the heat by riding at night. On June 12 on my way to my days destination in Greenville, TX I got a Face Book message on my smart phone from a woman named Sibylla. "Hi. Just wondering if you lost the top case off your motorcycle in the past couple of days. There were personal items inside - if you would like to give me your phone number, we’ll give you a call about it. Thanks." I was able to gather enough information from her FB profile to satisfy myself that Sibylla was not a scam artist but was puzzled that here location was listed as Washingto State. I answered her message, providing my telephone number. A few days later I got a call from Rudi the Rancher, Sibylla's father. My case had fallen off on NM 456 about 35 miles from Folsum, NM and 25 miles weat of the Oklahoma border. It had come off as we passing Rudi who was at work on his ranch riding his four wheeler. He picked up may case and chased after us to return it but could not catch up. The case had come open and he examined the contents looking for identification. He found a gas station receipt with my name on it. He recruited his daughter's help as she has a business with an Internet presence and was Internet savvy. Her search located my profile on Facebook.
Rudi speaks with a European accent, and I'd guess he is German and in his late sixties or early seventies. I did some research and his cattle and hunting ranch is 6,255 acres which has "hosted CEO's and celebrities for its incredible scenery, seclusion and trophy-class game animals". I did not ask Rudi to send the topcase back. Shipping would have been about $40 dollars and there was a good chance the case was ruined if it had come open. I asked him to mail back the GPS and my MotoPump and my spare Ducati key. I figured I would not bother him about the inexpensive rain gear. At the time I forgot about the electric gear and a few other comtents! He agreed but made no promise as to when, his ranch is 40 miles from the nearest post office! I of course offerred to reimburse him for postage but he declined, saying he'd keep my tool kit and that would be his payment.
A few days later a USPS Priority Mail box arrived in my mailbox, containing my Zumo, my Ducati Key and a Zion National park shot glass and a set of earrings I had bought for Stacie at the Zion Gift Shop. I had forgotten about these but Rudi's partner had seen them and included them in the box! I called to thank him abd we had a nice chat.
This was not the first time a topcase has become detached from its mount. It happened twice with a Givi Maxia on my Concours 14 but both times because the case was connected by a wiring harness for an auxillary brake light it did not fall of. These detachemnts were due to worn parts - 100,000 plus miles of worn parts on a 10+ year old motorcycle, not a less than three year old bike with relatively low miles. In this case I belive the quick-release cam lock system was to blame. I am not the only one this has ahppened to. An online review: "The three locking cams that secure your top case to the bike are not designed well. It caused my nice Givi top case to go flying down the road and nearly caused an accident. This is simply not a good product. It needs a total redesign to stronger bolts or less slack.". I purchased a replacement and plan to investigate a way to re-engineer the attaching system with bolts and lock nuts instead of the cam locks. But for now the topcase is replaced with a Cordura soft tail bag!
Dissapointed by the cancellation of STAR 2020 I decided to attend the Red River Gorge Rally hosted by our club president, Pat Mogavaro. It was being held in Mt. Sterling Kentucky and promised some great roads to ride. I made a reservation for two nights at the event motel in Mt. Sterling and booked a room in Corinth, MS on the way up to Kentucky. My plan to avoid the heat was to ride thr Natachez Trace from its southern terminis in Natchez, MS as far as Tupelo, MS. Much of the Trace runs through the woods and is shaded for a good portion of the day and cooler than your typical highway.
On Thurdsay July 9 I headed up the Blues Highway (US 61) to Natchez and hit the Trace. All but the most northern section of the Trace is made up of gentle sweeping curves, nothing really twisty but it is scenic and there are interesting historic pull outs every few miles. I was on schedule to arrive at my motel before "check-in" time so I stopped a couple times and had some nice chats with fellow travelers. Traveling solo has drawbacks but I have noticed strangers have much more of a tendancy to engage in conversation with a lone biker than a group.
I left the Trace just North of Tupelo and rode US 45 up to Corinth. I pulled into the Econo Lodge at 3:00 PM after a 381 mile day. This was an unusually large and nice Econo Lodge but the usual Covid-19 restrictions were in place. The pool was closed and ice machines were turned off. But there was a Mexican restauarant open for dine-in within walking distance. In the evening I enjoyed a margarita and a good Mexican meal.
Friday morning I set out early for a 407 mile ride to Mt. Sterling. I was quickly into Tennessee heading northeast on highway 22 and rode through Shilo National Military Park and wished I had time to visit. I turned east for a while on US 64 before continuing northeast on 128 and then 13. These roads were mostly through the woods and the temperatures were not bad and there were even some nice hills and curves. The only traffic I encountered was in Clarksville and I was reminded of the Monkees' 1966 hit Last Train to Clarksville, written by Boyce and Hart. Crossing into Kentucky I soon had almost 200 miles on my tank of gas and decided to fuel up at my next opportunuty. Which was Russelville. I stopped at a busy Murphy's near a Wal Mart. After filling my tank I pushed the Concours KIPASS knob and turned it to on but when I pressed the start button the dash went blank and there was no cranking. I have read at least a 100 forum posts that this symptom is almost always a bad battery ground connection. In 200,000 miles on 3 Concours 14s it had never happened to me, but...
I pushed the bike out of the gas lane and in front of the pump staying in the shade of the cover. It was about 11:00 and the sun was blazing. There was no shade in sight so I went to work there between a steady stream of cars getting fuel. I got my tool kit out of the topcase and realized I had left my socket set on the Multistrada. Although I was 100 feet from the Wal Mart's automotive entrance it was locked up and I had to walk 200 yards to the Covid-19 entrance at tye opposite end of the building! I bought a compact 1/4 inch drive socket set and a multimeter and a cold gatorade.
I got the battery cover off and quickly saw the problem. The negatove battery cable teminal had actually broken off. Earlier this year I had replaced a suspect 14ah batter with a 16 ah upgrade. The problem was it was a tiny bit bigger. It fit in the battery box ok but it stretched the negative cable such that it was under stress right at a corner of the metal frame where the terminal bolted on. I had not noticed that at the time but apparently over time the vibration fatigued the copper terminal and it cracked and broke.
I walked back to Wal Mart and bought the smallest automotive battery cable they had. It was about the right gauge just 8 inches longer than needed. The battery has to come all the way out of the box to access the negative post so that meant disconnecting the positive cables as well. I managed to get the new negative cable and all the other leads hooked back up and tight, I thought. Routing the extra length of #2 gauge negative cable so the battery box door would fit was the challenge. With a good bit of pushing and shoving I managed to do it.
I hopefully tried the starter. No start and an error message on the display: "Immobilizer Error"! WTF! I tried several more time, same result. I was baffled. I pulled out my AMA card and called the roadside assistance number.
A rep answered right away, and after verifying my membership the hep went right to work finding the closest suitable repair shop. The free towing only covers as far as 35 miles. Russelville is not big, about 7000 people. There were two indepedant bikes shops in town. We called both and both admitted they were not equipped to work on KIPASS, Kawasaki’s Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System. It would have to be a Kawasaki dealer. The closest one was in Bowling Green 32 miles away. Now to find a towing company. 10 minutes later the roadside assitance rep texted me that Clays Autobody and Towing would be there in 10 minutes. They were there in 9. Ricky Hankins and his teenage assistant in a big drive-on tow truck. We got the Concours loaded and tied down and headed for Bowling Green after a quick run back to Clays to drop off the assistant. Ricky Hankins IS Clays Towing. He does it pretty much full time, enjoys it and says he makes good money. We were friends by the time we got to Lost River Powersports. Ricky said he would wait for me while I went inside and verified the service arrangement.
I spoke to the Lucas, Service Manager and explained my situation. He said they were extremely busy with 91 customer bikes but would try to get to the Concours as soon as possible. He asked if I had any owner info that might be helpful and I told him what I knew about the bad ground connection issue. Ricky and I unload the Concours and parked it at the service entrance. Ricky offerred to drive me to the closest decent motel. We found a Staybridge Suites just a mile up US 31 at the corner us US 331 with several restaurants within walking distance. Again Ricky said he'd wait until I was sure they had a room. They did, the only thing availabe was an effciency and a bit pricy but actually no higher than the Rally venue motel I had canceled. I thanked Ricky for going above and beyond and offerred him a twenty dollar tip to show my appreciation but he would not take it.
Checked into my room, I contemplated the situation. If Lost River Powersports got to the bike first thing Saturday morning and there was a quick fix I'd be ok. But if not, they closed on Saturday at 4:00 pm and would not reopen until Tuesday. I didn't want to cool my heels that long and decided I better check out rental cars. There were only a few agencies in town and all had limited hours due to Covid-19 and none were answering the phone. Enterprise would be open Saturday from 9:00 til Noon. I downloaded their phone app and reserved a Hundai.
I walked next door to the CVS and bought some masks and a six pack. I had left my masks in the topcase on the bike. There were signs everywhere saying masks were required for entry. That evening I walked across the highway to the Cheddar's Cafe that Ricky had recommened. It was a popular spot and I had to wait in the parking lot with many other mask wearers spaced six feet apart. I ended up having a very nice meal six feet away from other customers and served by staff wearing masks.
In the morning I Ubered to Enterprise and picked up my car. I called Lost River soon after they opened and asked for the service manager. I was put on hold for several minutes and then asked to leave a number. By 11:30 I had not been called back so I got in my rental and drove over there. Lucas told me that the tech assigned to the Concours had run into problems completing the job he had been on but would get to it soon. I pretty much gave up hope at that point. I was going to have to drive home in the rental car and come back later with my trailer. I left and went to lunch at a Mediteranean Restaurant and had a Gyro sandwhich unlike I have ever had before. The gyro meat was pretty similar but the bread was not flat.
I returned to the motel and and was planning my route home when my phone rang. It was Lucas the service manager. He said "come get your bike, it is good to go." Nothing more than a lose positive battery connection. Although I had made certain that connection was good it apprently came loose when I moved the battery around trying to fit the oversize negative cable. Either that or I was just too stressed out and frazzled to do a competent job. Although the problem was not actually a KIPASS failure, the erroneous immobilizer error is a major design flaw, in my opinion. .
I Ubered to Lost river and picked up the bike. The charge was less than $60. Lucas assured me that after getting her started the tech had done a through test ride over some bumpy streets and then did a dozen starts with no problems. I rode back to the motel a very happy man. The Rally was all but over, it was too late to get there in time for dinner and I hated that I missed it but was very relieved not to have to come back with a trailer. I had a Mexican dinner that night washed down with couple of margaritas.
The Car rental place opened at 9:00 and I was there at 8:45. I could have gone earlier as they had an after hour drop off box for keys. My destination for Sunday night was Tupelo just 270 miles away so I was not in a big hurry. I mostly backtracked my earlier route and arrived in Tupelo a little after 4:00 pm with never a hint of trouble from the Concours. Monday I rode the Trace from Tupelo to Natchez. I stopped by the Pig Out Inn but it was closed for Covid-19. I decided to give Moos a try; a new BBQ place on the corner of Canal St. and US 61. A decent rib plate but not quite as good as the Pig Out. I arrived home at 2:15 after a 333 mile day.
This was just the third interupted motorcycle road trip in 40 years and the other two were due to crashes that were my own fault. And this one was a mechanical failure that was actually my fault as well. The first thing I did when I got home was order a custom made negative cable half an inch longer than stock. It is now in place and all is well with the 13 year old Concours.
I hope everyone is staying healthy and getting in some good rides. There are still 5 regional MSTA events scheduled for the rest of 2020. Coordinators are adhering to State Covid-19 mitigation guidelines and some very successful rallies have been held despite the restrictions.
Click HERE for the event schedule
Next years STAR will be at the CANAAN VALLEY RESORT and CONFERENCE CENTER, just south of Davis, West Virginia from June 13-17. Make plans to attend!
Have you had a good trip this summer or gotten a new bike? I would love to hear about it and include it in our next newsletter.
Hope you enjoyed this issue!
Keep riding & smiling