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Around US and Canada

1720 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Enduro
Well finally ready to leave on a little trip with the F650GS thumper. It's somewhat of a US-Canada perimeter ride. General route will be up to Newfoundland, down to Key West, up to Jacksonville, across to San Diego/Tijuana, north to the Dalton and Prudhoe Bay, down and back up the Dempster to Inuvik, and then home on the northern Canadian highways. Distance should be around 18,000 miles.

Assuming things go well going to try to embed in the ride a USA 4 Corners Tour, 50CC (Atlantic coast to Pacific coast in under 50 hr.), Border to Border (Mexico to Canada in under 24 hr.), Ultimate Coast to Coast (Key West to Prudhoe Bay), and just maybe on the home stretch a SaddleSore 2000 Gold (2000 miles in under 36 hr). Leaving tomorrow and I’ll try to update this as I can.

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WOW! What a trip. That sounds great! I'll be looking forward to the updates.
That is a nice looking bike you have for your trip. Especially like your cases. Hope it all goes without a hitch.

dthogey said:
WOW! What a trip. That sounds great! I'll be looking forward to the updates.
Been 2 weeks already since I got back. Clearly didn't keep up with this post. Sorry bout that.

Total mileage was 18577 miles including somewhere around 2300 miles of dirt, 6 weeks and a day, 2 sets of tires, 3 oil changes, 92 gas fills. Within the trip I did the USA 4 Corners (Madawaska Maine, Key West Florida, San Ysidro Ca., Blaine Washington), IBA Ultimate Coast to Coast (Key West to Prudhoe Bay Alaska), IBA 50CC ( Coast to Coast in under 50 hours) Jacksonville to Ocean Beach San Diego. For dirt roads I did the Dalton/Haul road, Fairbanks to Prudhoe, Dempster Highway, Dawson Yukon to Inuvik Northwest Territories, Campbell Highway, Top of the World Highway, and about half the North Canol (70 miles each way)

Along the way there were some minor disappointments, minor changes to the plan, and all kinds of constant challenges, mechanical issues, heat, cold, wet, mud, dust, rock through tire in the remotest of remote areas, forest fire, broken finger, washed out roads closed for days, bike drops, where/how to get oil/tire/gearing changes.

This is a pretty close actual route map:

I’ll detail the trip in major segments in subsequent posts as I get the pics edited and on photobucket.
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The plan for the first part of the trip was to head northeast up through the Maritime provinces, on the way back down go through Madawaska Maine for the first corner of the USA 4 Corners ride, then down through Quebec back to my house for one day to change out sprockets, chain, and both tires. Started out with fresh oil, my old but still good tires, and a chain that I knew was bad but figured it would get me back home from that first 2800 miles. By getting those 2800 miles on the old equipment gave me a higher level of confidence that the new stuff would allow me to finish the trip without an additional enroute change.

Actual route taken

That first day/night I made it to Calais Maine about 704 miles. Late in the evening I was on Maine Rt 9 between Bangor and Calais, road was basically empty but I did come up behind a car and followed it for a bit, when we came to a passing zone I started to pass. As I came alongside the car he flashed his lights, I looked more closely ahead and saw the backside of a moose as it walked diagonally away across the road. Wasn’t a serious situation and I don’t think I even left off on the throttle as it was walking off the road to the right, but it was a wake-up call to never take my attention off the road riding late at night.

Gates along highway in New Brunswick that allow moose to get off the highway but they can’t swing in to allow them onto the road.

Next day I made my way up through New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, planning to be on the late night ferry crossing to Newfoundland so I didn’t need to get a room for the night. Had hellacious winds near the northern coasts that day. Found my lightish bike combined with a big high mounted top case and big panniers made it real vulnerable to high crosswinds. In 40 years of licensed street riding I’ve never been blown across the road into the oncoming lane but it happened twice in about 10 minutes. If the timing was wrong undoubtedly I would have been killed but the other side of the road was empty at the time.

Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island

Was taking a pic of the very impressive Welcome to Nova Scotia sign while stopped under the pole with the no stopping sign on it because you can’t get off the roadway at that point. Was sitting on the bike with the camera up, a gust of wind knocked me right over, the bike fell, I rolled into the traffic lane, my camera slid into the lane. I looked to see if anything was coming and there was, jumped up stepping on my camera and picked up the bike, put my head down toward the tank because I thought my camera might get run over and I would get hit with it. It didn’t and I and it were fine.

Got the pic next to the no stopping sign on the pole.

Up to this point I “HAD” to adjust my chain twice a day because it would just get too floppy. I knew this was excessive but still figured I‘d be good to get back home. Crossed on the ferry and spent the next day riding around southwest Newfoundland. By the end of the day I was shocked to find my chain adjuster was totally maxed out at the number 2 on the adjuster. Visibly there was still about ¾” of adjustment left on the axle and I “assumed” I would be able to adjust it down to “0” on the adjuster, but no, not possible to go beyond 2. Now I was worried because I still had about 1500 miles to go and at the current rate I would NEED to adjust it at least 2 more times.

Loaded on ferry to Newfoundland

Crossed the ferry overnight again. Was going to do a bit of the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia but decided not to because of the chain problem but also because visibility was near zero with heavy fog, mist, and light rain. This was one of the disappointments of the trip, but it’s not that far from home and maybe someday I’ll get to do it.

Some views on Newfoundland

On the way to Madawaska now, a full day of riding with no chain adjustment, as I turned to enter customs the chain spun on the rear sprocket. Checking after customs the sprocket literally looked like snake fangs, they were all bent over at right angles, very long, very thin, and very sharp. I tried to adjust but couldn’t, no movement left. Just a few miles later at Madawaska I checked again and now the sprocket teeth were short and sharp sticking straight out like they should, all the fangs had broke off. Late in the afternoon now I took my required 4 corner verification pics. Decided to cancel going into Quebec because my phone doesn’t work in Canada, didn’t want to break down in Canada, and I figured Max BMW in New Hampshire was my best chance to get this fixed.

Four Corners park in Madawaska, only one of the 4 corners to commemorate this ride.

So not going over 55 and being VERY easy on the throttle I limped back to Houlton Maine late at night. Called my Good Sam’s emergency road service. They said it was about 235 miles to a dealer in Portland Maine (if they had the parts) and may require up to 5 pass off tows to get me there. I said we’ll deal with it in the morning. In the morning I called the Portland dealer and they said they probably didn’t have the parts, Max said they definitely have them. Told them I would be trying to make it.

It was a bright sunny day so I headed out on the freeway. As I rode I thought is there any way I can make this better. The light bulb went on and I thought screw (forget) the adjusters. There is plenty of play left in the axle. So I stopped, loosened the axle nut and pulled the wheel back keeping it as aligned as I could, held it in place with only the tightness of the axle nut. I knew this was going to work as I could have adjusted it several more times doing it this way.

Big Kudos to Max, got there 4pm on Friday before Memorial Day weekend, closed on that Saturday. They had the parts, squeezed me in, and I was on my way home by 6pm with new chain and sprockets. At my request they even set me up with a master link so I could remove their stuff at home and put on my stuff keeping theirs as a spare. Was home that night.

Next day at home swapped out the chain, sprockets, and put on new Tourance tires. For sprockets I went from the stock 16/47 gearing to a higher 17/45 since the next several thousand miles would be freeway.

Some more pics here, I’ll be adding to them as I select and edit for the rest of the trip:

To be continued!
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A day at home, new tourance tires, X ring chain, and higher than stock 17/45 gearing. Changing the tires at home I realized there is no way I can do this in the bush with the tools I was going to take. Front tire no problem, rear I couldn’t break the bead. The C clamp I used on the front wouldn’t fit around the rear, the next larger clamp I had was just way too big to be practical to carry. VERY CAUTIOUSLY I precariously balanced 100% of over 400 lbs of the bikes weight on one side of centerstand up on the top edge of the tire, no rear wheel on the bike and front wheel up in the air, and me pumping up and down as best I could, quite a balancing act, and the bead still didn’t break.

There is a product made in Washington, BestRest Bead Brakr, decided I needed one of these. Left all my tire tools at home and would pick up a bead brakr when I went through Washington. With a new tire and all highway miles very unlikely I’d need to do a roadside tire repair before then. And if I needed to I would just use my emergency road service.

So late that afternoon I head south for Key West, the 2nd of my 4 corners and also the start point of the Iron Butt Ultimate Coast to Coast (Key West to Prudhoe). This part of the trip is like auto pilot for me. Done it quite a number of times going to Biketoberfest and visiting my daughter near Lakeland, also bought my LT down there and rode it home. But I needed to make time as tropical storm Beryl was aimed at northern Florida for the next day. Left at 6pm, crashed for awhile on the concrete sidewalk of a rest area in South Virginia about 3:30am, at 6am I was on the road again.

For whatever crazy reason, on every trip south I have to stop at South of the Border and take this pic.

About 2 pm I was at the Florida visitor center putting my rain gear on, I was hitting the outer rings of Beryl. Also realized it was Sunday Memorial weekend. I checked online at the visitor center and of course there weren’t ANY rooms available in the Keys. Slight change of plans, I’d visit my daughter near Lakeland before the keys rather than after. It was a little early at 4500 miles but I took the opportunity to change my oil that night at my daughter’s. I wanted to have fresh oil when I made the HOT high speed run from Jax to San Diego for the 50CC.

Leaving my daughter’s looking tired, Buddy looks tired too.

Beryl wasn’t a factor this far south so off to Key West early the next morning, about noon I was getting close to Key Largo, OMG! YIKES! the traffic backup coming out of the keys(Memorial Monday) was unbelievable, a complete standstill for 10’s of miles in oppressive heat, must have taken several hours to get through it. Fine on my side, at that point I knew I’d be staying the night in the keys which I originally wasn’t going to when I left my daughter’s. I just love the natural beauty of the keys, definitely one of the gems of the US.

It was DARN HOT! getting to Key West, got gas for my mandatory IBA and 4 Corners gas receipts, took the mandatory verification pics, went to the Fire Department to get some witness signatures, and mailed a letter from the Key West PO to the 4 corners people as required. Looked around a little and decided to put just a few miles behind me and rode to Marathon Key to look for a place to stay. Traffic backup was still somewhere out in front of me yet but there were warning signs posted about it. All the motel class places were saying $89. Stopped at the Blackfin Resort motel, he said normally 89 but I’ll give it to you for 79, I said OK, then he said, tell ya what, since you’re alone I’ll make it 69, I said Thanks! What an incredible sunset that night.

To be continued!
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