Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sitting Here in Juneau

This is looking off the balcony outside my room -

That white house on the right with the 2 chimneys and plastic sheeting on the front is the governor's mansion.

I'm looking forward to walking around the area, drinking some coffee and doing my laundry.

I think I might break one of my personal rules, "no bus tours as long as I'm ambulatory", and take a tour bus tour of the city and Mendenhall Glacier based on a recommendation from the desk clerk. She's from Juneau and learned a lot about the history of the city on the tour. She also said she worked for the bus tour company for two days...I wish I would have got the details but it was late.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Prince Rupert to Juneau

Picture of Ketchikan taken from the ferry as we approached -

It was after midnight so not much going on (actually nothing). We spent 4 hours in Ketchikan.

B&B in Wrangell -

We were in Wrangell about 1/2 hour, enough time to grab an espresso and snap a few photos.

Tying up in Petersburg -

I didn't get off the ferry in Petersburg since we were only there about 15 minutes.

I've got a lot of photos that look like this -

It was misty/drizzly/rainy all the way up to Juneau. No problem though, I'm used to the rain and wasn't expecting sun anyway. Nice relaxing ride.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Port Hardy to Prince Rupert

It's a 17 hour ferry trip from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. 15 hours traveling and 2 hours getting on board.

It's super.

I can't imagine anything else in the world like that inside passage. Miles and miles of water with mountains on either side and almost no people. There's an odd sail boat or fishing boat or light house here and there but pretty much just wilderness.

The B.C. Ferry I rode on is called the Northern Expedition. It was built in 2009 and cruises at 20 knots. It's like new. The people working on board were all really nice. I'm glad I had a cabin to stash my stuff in but I didn't spend much time in there.

Most people on the trip are from European countries - Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, England are near the top and interestingly enough the fewest people on board are from Canada and the U.S. (I got this info from the purser's talk about things to do in the area).

It was a sunny day and totally relaxing listening to the hum of the diesels and feeling the clean air.

I got into Prince Rupert just before 11 pm and it was still light outside. I'm kicking around here until Tuesday at 7 pm when I catch the Alaska State Ferry to Juneau. The trip up takes 26 hours, the trip back takes 33 hours because they swing out to Sitka.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On to Port Hardy

It's sunny and warm this morning. I'm not in any big hurry to get going - what the heck I'm on vacation. I have to get up early tomorrow morning to be in line from the ferry to Prince Rupert at 5:30 am.

I plan to meander up to Campbell River where one of my favorite authors Roderick Haig-Brown lived and fished.

It's only a little over 200 miles up to the Bear Cove Cottages I'm staying at in Port Hardy so I have plenty time...nice.


I'm hanging out at Serious Coffee in Campbell River now. I found a card reader that works for downloading photos from my camera.

I'd like to live in a place where you can burn your yard...

Inflatable Santa was out on his inflatable bike...

It's really pretty on Highway 19A going north, but I'm not taking pictures of the water and mountains, because I've found landscape shots unless they are really spectacular are usually kind of boring. Plus even though something looks spectacular when you see it - I can almost never capture the scene with a camera.

I tend to go pretty slow sometimes because I have to stop to take pictures of weird things...but I better get out of here. It's still 150 miles or so to Port Hardy and it's about 2:30 pm.


The road near Campbell River is really scenic riding along the water. Nice drive all the way to Port Hardy. You start to head inland but there's some nice snow capped peaks around you. The speed limit is 80 to 90 to 100 Kph in the isolated spots (which is most of the road once you head inland) should be 80 mph. The road is in great shape and hardly any traffic.

Three eagles swooped down in front of me while riding to Bear Cove. One of them had a fish in his mouth and dropped it out of surprise I guess. I waited around to see if they'd come back to retrieve it but I guess they got spooked by the near collision with my motorcycle. Here's a picture of the fish -

The road up to Bear Cove Cottages is steep and rocky. No place level to park until you figure out you have to make a hard right behind the cottages. Trying to maneuver a bike that weighs 700 some odd pounds on a steep rocky slope is challenging. I had to go up to the top of the hill and come back down to get into the parking area.

The cottages are more like luxury cabins that seem to be brand new - they have wifi (slow), satellite TV, jacuzzi, picture window overlooking the ocean and mountains, and lots of eagles.

I gotta get to bed early tonight I'm getting up at 4:30 am to be at the ferry. Luckily the terminal is about a mile down the road so not too long a drive.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hanging Out At Qualicum Beach

I rode from Sidney to Port Renfrew on the West coast of Vancouver Island. It's amazing how different some roads are when you are driving on them vs. looking at them on a map. I planned to make a loop going west on the southerly route and back east on a more northerly route. The route looked like main roads on the map. Not exactly.

Going west to Port Renfrew the road is pretty good - lots of one lane bridges as you get further west, and a fair number of frost heaves - or whatever makes the road sink/rise in that area.

There is logging in the general vicinity but on Saturday no trucks. There is gravel on some of the turns which can be interesting. It's not intended to be a gravel road but logging trucks rear wheels pull gravel off the shoulder onto the road.

The road east out of Port Renfrew was pretty much deserted - except for a guy who lost a boat off a trailer. There are signs that have what looks like a sawtooth on them - indicating the road is bumpy.

There's no centerline, no road markers and lots of one lane bridges. You can't get going too fast, especially in the corners because the gravel or bumps will throw you off line. Add in some rain and a little fog and it's a slow go.

I was wondering why the kid at the museum in Sooke told me that trip would take so long. It's because you spend a lot of time at 35 mph and below. It's a nice ride - not great and I wouldn't recommend it as a good motorcycle road. It's a road you take to get to the fishing spots, beaches, parks, surfing areas, the hotel in Port Renfrew - or if you want to get away from the traffic around Victoria and the East coast of the island.

Port Renfrew is pretty, people are nice and the hotel there is clean. Sooke has a really cool museum/visitor center with old machinery and other esoteric odds and ends. Super nice people working there. There were a couple of young backpackers hanging out in the yard from South America. One of them was playing the harmonica tunelessly - I can't understand Spanish but I think his buddy was telling him to learn to play. Looked like they were on an adventure.

I was north of Port Renfrew on a fishing trip out of Ucluelet years ago. We flew in for that. With typical fisherman optimism we planned to catch our limits and bring home some whoppers. It was the wrong week for fishing. I still remember our puny little packages of fish coming off the baggage ramp. It was fun - we caught enough rockfish to make some good fish and chips plus we got to ride in a pickup, ferry, bus and small plane.

Unfortunately any pictures I took with my camera will have to wait until I get home - unless I buy a USB cable. Forgot that darn thing. I ended up getting a memory card reader at London Drug, which does the job.

Bikes running great and I have a comfortable place to rest for the night. Plenty of time to nose around on my way to Port Hardy tomorrow.

Here's a couple of photos from the visitor center/museum at Sooke -

I'm Outta Here!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

All Ready to Ride Next Saturday

View Summer 2011 MC Trip I in a larger map

I've got my travel booked on the BC Ferry out of Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and on the Alaska State Ferry from Prince Rupert to Juneau. Lots of interesting places to see and stop at on the way that I've never seen before. I'm leaving early Saturday June 25th and returning Thursday July 7th.

I disassembled the front end of the Concours to check the steering stem bearings on Friday - they were fine. Tightened up the slack on the bearings to get rid of a little wobble at 50 mph. That was a lot of pieces of stuff to take apart - but at least I know the bearings are fine and have fresh grease on them.

If you happen to have a C10 Concours and want to adjust the steering stem bearings you can use this wrench from McMaster-Carr.

6975A16 Fixed Hook Spanner Wrench for Slots, for 1-37/64" to 1-21/32" (40mm to 42mm) Circle Diameter

I need to ride the bike around a bit this week to see if anything falls off :-) after taking the forks, front wheel, handlebars, fender, brakes..etc. off of it to get to the bearings. I generally don't like to do anything major maintenance wise before a trip but I needed to get that shimmy squared away.

I'm getting a Fork Brace from Murph's kits this week and will install it before I go. That thing looks like a piece of cake to install.

I'm getting excited - and love the planning stages of a motorcycle trip...thinking about the ferry rides, the mom and pop motels, hot springs, mountains, roads, people...lots of fun!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sportster Cutting Out At Wide Open Throttle

I was having a problem with my Sportster cutting out at 60 - 70 mph when I opened the throttle up. I cleaned the plugs and air filter, tried some Techron, made sure the carb slide wasn't sticking and eventually put in some new NGK 3932 plugs - but that didn't do it.

There are three electronic components that could be causing the problem - MAP Sensor (inside the carb), Crank Position Sensor (on the front of the crankcase) and the ignition module (under the seat). The 2005 Sportster has some diagnostics that can be read by using the speedometer reset button but it wasn't showing any fault codes. I didn't feel like replacing electronic components based on a guess.

I thought it might be a fuel starvation issue so I pulled the gas tank and removed the petcock so I could clean the fuel filter. The filter had some sand-like crud on it so I washed it out with Dawn and then gas. The bikes running fine now.


The petcock is interesting on that bike. It has 3 positions - off, reserve and main. It was built backwards - so the reserve is actually main and main is reserve. It's also vacuum operated so you can't easily drain the tank without a vacuum pump. That gave me an excuse to buy a Mityvac and play with that a little bit. You could drain the tank by pulling it off the bike and then removing the petcock. That would be a little messy - but I could see doing it with a funnel and a gas can to save the gas your draining out.

HD built in protection to guard against hydrolock on that bike; the petcock with dual redundancy - off position and vacuum operated, carb overflow tubes and a built-in fuel filter to keep crud out of the carb which could cause the float or float needle to stick. The idea is you want gas to flow when the engine runs. In the event of a failure where the the petcock and float stick you want gas to run out of the overflow tubes and not into the cylinders. It's a good design. In this particular area I'd say the HD design comes out ahead compared to a Kawasaki C10 Concours or KZ1000P where there is no off position on the petcock, no fuel filter and no overflow tubes.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Riding in The Rain

I like the recreational aspects of riding a motorcycle on the weekends, after work and on the occasional longer trip. That type of riding is generally the most fun if it's sunny or at least not raining - although running into rain is part of the deal too.

What I really like though is just riding a motorcycle anytime. For that reason I've become a utility rider - meaning I use a motorcycle to get to work and run errands whenever possible, which is any day when there's not snow, frost or ice on the roads. In the last couple of years I've probably driven a car to work about ten times, so I'm pretty lucky.

Living in the Pacific Northwest and wanting to ride a motorcycle as much as possible means you'll be riding in the rain. That's really not a problem as long as you have the right gear and keep in mind some basic safety rules - the main one being to adjust your speed for road and traffic conditions. In the MSF operators course they recommend not riding immediately after the rain starts. The reason for this is the oil, transmission fluid, diesel, etc. that leaks out of vehicles onto the road can combine with the water to create some extra slippery conditions.

P1010226 by Jack Crossen
P1010226, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

This is not usually much of an issue in this area (particularly in the fall/winter/spring) since the rain tends to last for awhile and will wash the road relatively clean. Yesterday was an exception.

There was a light mist that caused the road to be wet but not enough rain to clean it off. There's a right hand curve shortly after the parking lot where my bike had been sitting for the day. As I pulled out of the lot and accelerated to get in front of cars approaching I entered the curve. The tires started to lose traction causing a sideways slide and I ended up crossing the center line which was not catastrophic since there was no on coming traffic and the bike stayed upright.

It was a good reminder though. I'm not sure if I picked up some oil on the tires in the parking lot or if it was on that corner - but in any case it was more slippery than I anticipated. I've ridden around that corner hundreds of times and have a good idea of how fast I can ride it - except for yesterday. This is the second time fairly recently that I've learned how slick the pavement can be when it's wet. The other time was coming to a stop sign at a slow rate of speed immediately after having the bike parked on a rainy day. I was surprised that even moderate braking caused the bike to slide. This was another case where vehicles had left a nice slippery spot of oil/diesel from sitting at that stop sign.

I'm amazed sometimes when riding in urban areas to see how much oil/diesel/transmission fluid, gear oil (or whatever it is) is left on the road. I'm not sure how vehicles keep running when they are dripping fluid that leaves spots a foot or two in diameter every twenty feet or so. Whoever is driving those must be adding fluids on a regular basis.

One other consideration when riding in the rain is visibility - seeing/being seen. Riding at night in the rain is a no-no for me in general, although if I have to I will, for as short a time as necessary. I don't like to ride in heavy high speed traffic in some rain conditions - particularly when the temperature is causing ground fog, or my visor/glasses are fogging up or then there is a lot of fine spray from cars moving in adjacent lanes that tends to stay in the air and compound the difficulty of seeing/being seen.

The bottom line is there is no reason that riding in the rain can't be safe and enjoyable - just be aware of road conditions, your bike's capabilities, your riding skill and adjust your speed and following distance accordingly.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Belize and Guatamala

Never been there.

But it sounds great. Spent the evening with Rachel hearing about her trip. She got to see a manatee (cool), overgrown pyramids, the inside of a huge cave that you have to swim into - with stalactites, stalagmites and bats. There were toucans, monkeys and she ate a lot of seviche. Not sure exactly where in Belize but they stayed at a resort for 20 bucks a night that included meals and access to canoes and kayaks to explore the river. Eco-tourism is big biz in that area and the locals are friendly. Sounded like an educational trip and a lot of fun.