Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Washington's SR 20 Opens Today at Noon

From the WSDOT North Cascades Highway Update, "Nine feet of snowfall in March and a record seven-and-a-half feet in April on the western slopes of the Cascades kept avalanche control technicians and snow clearing equipment on Stevens Pass until the avalanche threat eased and allowed the team to move up to the North Cascades. There, they found SR 20 buried in snow as deep as 75 feet. This is the second latest opening of the highway surpassed only by the June 14, 1974 opening."

I think I'll skip the opening this year, since the weather forecast for today is mostly cloudy with a chance of rain this morning...then rain likely this afternoon. Not that riding in the rain bothers me but I'd rather do that particular ride on a sunny day.

Maybe I'll change my mind later - I would like to get one of Tootsie Clark's cinnamon rolls, for the first drivers at the gate.


I got up to the gate about 11:30 but Tootsie was all out of cinnamon rolls. I did get a couple of free granola bars and a double espresso at Cascadian Farm on my way which helped make up for no free cinnamon rolls. I spent an hour or so in Winthrop and got an offer from an old guy to trade my ride for his ride (a cane). That's one thing I like about being on a motorcycle - your out in the open which tends to make human to human interaction much more likely than in a car. No rain until just outside of Twisp and then it rained all the way home. I took Highway 20 east and came back west on Highway 2. Coming off Stevens Pass on 2 was interesting because there was ground fog and rain. Nice ride and as always good to get out on the road.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Motorcycle Maintenance - Removing Frozen Bolts

I spent last weekend getting my Concours ready for summer trips. I ordered new brake pads from Murphs, but after taking the old ones off and inspecting them/cleaning up the brake calipers I decided to hold off changing them since there's still plenty of pad left. One tool that was indispensable for removing the frozen bolts on the rear caliper was an impact driver.

This is a 3/8 inch drive Lisle impact driver. It's a very well made tool and simple to use. You put it on the fastener you want to remover, twist it counter-clockwise (unless you have a reverse thread...which is rare) and then start whacking it with a hammer. I sprayed some penetrating oil on the bolts first and would have tried some heat if necessary.

I changed the rear drive oil, engine oil and filter, air filter and spark plugs; so that bike is ready to roll.

The crimp-on connector on the ground wire to the left coil broke when I was tightening it so I replaced that. The engine seems to be running smoother - not sure if it's the placebo effect, the new plugs or if that ground wire wasn't making a good connection for some time.

The Connie really likes being out on the road. It's a great interstate bike. It's not the best for driving around parking lots with the top heavy 7 1/2 gallon gas tank full or weaving through traffic with it's slow response to turning inputs. I have the wider Dunlop Elite 3 tires on it so that may have something to do with the sluggish turning. The Elite 3's work fine for what I use that bike for - I've ridden it in the rain a lot with no traction issues and I can scrape the pegs in the twisties.

I'm looking forward to better weather and some time off from work so I can go check out some new roads and old familiar roads that I like. I'm still planning on taking the trip to Juneau and a trip to Minnesota this year. When I have more time off I'd really like to head south into Mexico and Central America. I'll have to research the best time of year for that trip - I'm thinking late fall or winter might be better than mid summer. I'd like to go up to New England and upstate New York in the fall too...ride across the U.S. on highway 20, around the world - etc. etc. etc..