Monday, October 24, 2011

BMW MOA Rally by

RevZilla, a promoter of the BMW MOA Rally held in Bloomsburg, Pa.  They're holding a contest at and want to know what touring and adventure riding mean to me.

There is no better way to see the countryside than by motorcycle.  And it's even better when you see it from vistas and hill tops that the general public would never venture to.  Adventure and touring on rutted out dirt roads to cow paths and goat trails that crisscross the nation is where I enjoy riding.  For more information go to and to

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I’d been in the garage soldering the wires back together that had succumbed to winter’s fury, aka, road salt.  I was hot and cranky so I went down the basement to relax where it was cool. My butt no more than hit the couch when the phone rang, the voice from the other side told me to get my butt out side.  It was my good friend, Dr. Carl Peshoff of Northern Ohio Ducati in Akron Ohio. I went out and to my surprise sat a brand spanking new Ducati Multistrada 1200S Pikes Peak Edition with a whopping 32 miles on it!

The bike is beautiful with plenty of carbon fiber pieces including the carbon fiber cam belt cover complete with air duct to help keep the beast cool and a mini carbon wind screen that that has about 4” of vertical adjustment.  The fenders were also made from carbon fiber.  I liked that the turn signals are incorporated into the hand guards.  It  makes the bike a little more stream lined and removes one less piece to get ripped off the bike in a mishap.  I doubt too many of these bikes will be seeing heavy brush, saplings or tree bark, so I’m sure they’ll hold up better than fairing mounted signals. 

I was given a quick overview of key-less ignition and the controls for the suspension and engine modes.  There are 4 engine modes; sport, touring, urban and enduro that can be changed on the fly using the button located on the turn signal switch.  There is also a selection of suspension settings to chose from depending on whether you are riding solo, 2 up or if you are carrying luggage or not.  There are also a multitude of other screens and displays that show you gear selection, typical engine displays, gas mileage, miles until empty and more.  Once I thought I had everything covered, I hit the starter and heard the v-twin rumble to life, flipped down the visor and headed down the road. 

Fast! - I only had to go to the end of my one block long street to know, this bike was going to be a blast to ride!  The bike's weight is claimed to be 432 lbs, 40 lbs less than my 950 Adventure but felt even lighter.  Add the fact the motor has about 150 hp, 55 hp more than my 950 and you can only guess how fast this thing scoots down the road, and that was with me respecting rpm’s during the break in period.  With its 5.3 gallon tank and approximately 50mpg freeway rating, you should be able to get a good 4 hours in between fuel stops.

I was wondering what it would be like to ride with 150 hp in the dirt and gravel on a bike with the instantaneous throttle response this bike has and could see myself launching the bike into a ditch or worse yet, a tree.  I refrained from taking the Multistrada down my "short cut” Because I didn‘t want to be the one to put the first scratch on it or get it dirty.   I changed the engine mode to “Enduro” on the fly and immediately I could tell the bike would be far more dirt friendly using the Enduro Mode.  According to Carl, Enduro Mode reduces the horse power down to around 100 hp, a hair bit more than the 950’s 94 hp.  It may have reduced the power output but I also noticed the initial throttle opening became a bit smoother which should allow a little better throttle control riding off-road or in loose gravel.  In Enduro Mode, the bike is still quick but in sport mode, the bike is a rocket.

The engine seems smooth enough to ride all day without being buzzed or vibrated to death but a test ride longer than 20 miles would help me decide that.  We didn’t get to do a 2-up test to get Mrs. G's opinion of the saddle but I found it to be pretty comfortable even though I only got to ride it 20 miles.  There is more than enough power to haul 2 adults with full saddle bags comfortably down any freeway or back road.  The ergonomics didn't feel too bad even with the bars rotated back to fit Carl, but that's something anyone can easily fix with a wrench.  Unlike the other bike adventure touring bikes, the Pikes Peak edition has a smallish wind screen aimed more at protecting the instrument panel and taking a small portion of the wind blast from your torso rather than trying to protect your whole body. In some ways that is good as the larger wind screens can be intimidating as a guillotine when riding in technical terrain but a little cold if you ride all winter.  

The day before Carl showed up, I was out playing around at the local MX track on the 640 Adventure and I had been wishing for more braking power.  The Multistrada's Bosch-Brembo ABS system's dual 4-piston calipers and 320mm discs gave me all the braking power I could handle and I'm positive there is enough to spare for hauling down a loaded bike from speed.  Along with the ABS, this Ducati also has Traction Control as standard equipment.  Since I tried to ride the bike respectfully, I never felt either system activate and thankfully not the ABS.

I’m used to hydraulic clutches and the juicy clutch on the Ducati felt right at home in my hands.  The clutch is effortless and smooth but the transmission felt a bit notchy, more than likely due to being new and not fully broken in.  It also could have been the shifter being tipped down to fit Carl , but I had a little difficulty getting my foot under it.  However, the shift shaft has plenty of splines and the adjustable linkage will allow you to fine tune it to your foot.  All it will take is a few minutes of time and a couple wrenches to make it perfect.

The Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) by Ã–hlins is pretty sophisticated compared to what I am used to.  One of the things you will notice is the wiring coming from the tops of the fork tubes that control the suspension settings for compression and rebound.  The rear shock is also controlled by the same system however it also has an electronically controlled pre-load adjuster.  The ride was firm even though I had the suspension set up for one person with no luggage.  The initial stroke of the suspension was a bit harsh and my  guess would be as the seals and bushings break in, the stroke will loosen up to a plusher ride.  With the lack of a passenger and time, I didn’t get to mess with the factory pre-set settings for the rider and luggage combos I mentioned earlier or did I have time to figure out how to set the optional personalized settings to my riding style or weight which are slow and heavy by some standards.

Along with the firm suspension comes a very flickable and light handling bike.  Of the adventure bikes I have ridden in the past, the Multistrada by far turned the easiest.  It also had the most streetable tires (both 17") that looked like they’d be more at home on a Monster than an Adventure bike.  Speaking of tires, I also noticed there is more room between the rear tire and the single-sided swingarm than I remember there being when I rode my 1st Multistrada.  I remembered thinking how easily that area would get clogged with mud and debris, however this model has about 1.5” between the tire and the swingarm.  I’m not sure if the swingarm changed but the tire sizes are different or it could be my mind is feeling the effects of old age, either way, having more clearance is better if you plan to get this beast dirty.

Ducati claims this bike to be "A dream Ducati - 4 bikes in 1. A sport bike, long-distance tourer, urban and road enduro are only one click away."   I can easily see this bike being ridden all four environments as Ducati intended it to be ridden in but if I were going to be doing the long distance touring, I may want to find a way to put the windscreen from one of the other Multistrada models on the bike just for the longer trips.  As far as the "road enduro" goes, I'm not sure how adventurous you'll want to get during any off-pavement excursions with the front exhaust header hanging down and in harms way.  I think it will more than likely take quite a beating but I'm sure someone will build an aftermarket skid plate to help protect it.

The bike was a blast to ride and the Pikes Peak model is definitely aimed at the high performance sport riding end of the scale.  The bike feels the more like an adventurous sport bike or a big supermoto than the adventure bikes I've ridden.  There are 4 Flavors of the Multistrada to choose from starting with the standard 1200, the 1200 S Sport, 1200 S Touring and the 1200 S Pikes Peak.  Learn more about the Multistrada line here  or go to Northern Ohio Ducati and Triumph at 1915 Brittain Rd, Akron, Ohio 44310

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bad timing

Wanted so bad to ride a long ride on the 950 or 640 to Wayne or Allegheny National Forests but decided to give Makayla a ride to Camp then maybe hit some back roads to lunch someplace on one of the beasts.

On the way home, phone call: "Can you help me fix my bike"?, yeah, be there by 2pm.  Once home, a second call from a team mate,  "Can you help me fix my bike"?, yeah, be there by 2pm.  Person 1 makes it there by 2pm, 2nd person tales til after 3pm and the job took 3 times longer than expected but at least I found his freehub had come totally unfastened from the hub.  

Finally we get to ride around 4:30 instead of 2:00 and head off towards Charm, Ohio.  5 miles away, RAIN!  Change of plans, turn north and head to a closer place of putting on the feed bag.  

Well it happened again, the 2nd time in as mant weeks, the mighty 950 died roadside.  Riding up the road 2 miles away, the bike just shut off like the key was stolen.  Check all the fuses, still good, shirt the battery, still good. Try unplugging the relay, hear a "click".  Bike lights come on but go right back out.  Can't keep them on so I call for help.  Dicking around waiting, find corroded wire at coupler.  Falls apart in hand, focking road salt!!  Neighbor pulls up with van from heating and cooling job on his way home from call and has spare wire, slice things up and Varoom!  Call back my tow home and cancel.

Luckily it was just something simple, luckily it didn't happen in or on the way to WNF where I had planned to go.

Today's Time trial really sucked.  My 1st outing on the single speed resulted in major pain and a total muscular bonk finishing 4th in age group.  While changing bikes, refreshing drinks and getting a gel for outing 2 in the 2 man team event, I hear "Gorman, your start time is up"!  Billy Slutz and I make it to the line with 3 seconds to spare.  We're off, like a heard of turtles suffering as much as before.  I figured we'd either be the only team or totally blow up.  We did come close to blowing but eeked out a win over 2 other teams.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mohican 100.7 - 6/4/2011

This was my 7th attempt at the Mohican 100, twice on a Trek Fuel 100 with gears in the 100k  ('05-'06), twice on the Gary Fisher Rig single speed in the 100k ('07-'09) and twice DNF the 100 mile on single speed, once from going out too fast ('08) and the 2nd (last year '10) from back and leg pain.  This time I was back to the 100k because over the winter I had my L5 fused to my S1 with a chunk of Donor bone, 4 lag bolts and a couple chunks of Titanium rod.  Basically, I had my butt bolted to my back and adding to the Ti collection in my knee and foot and my fitness sucked.
All I've been doing is riding with the occasional dedicated workout with the Eastern Block guys.  I was pretty much doubtful I'd have a good day, figuring I'd sit around at aide stations resting to make it the full distance.  There was no way I was going to quit unless my bike totally failed or I crashed my brains out (known to have happened a time or two).
In typical Mohican style, the start was straight up the biggest hill in town, a smaller version of the stair case hills of San Francisco, with a $100 prime at the top.  This year Mr. O'Dell decided to split the fields giving the 100 milers a 15 minute head start which meant us 100k folks had to fight our way past all the guys and gals that were just there for the challenge and not "in it to win it" which truly is a challenge.
As soon as the siren blew, I never saw so many people with no chance to win a prime ride so hard.  Usually I can be in the top 25 or 30 over the top of the hill but this time I was bottom 25 or 30 at the bottom of the hill!  Panic started to set in knowing from past experiences, passing in the 1st 20 miles is very hectic and frustrating.  As luck would have it, all the speedsters caught up in the moment of the start all went backwards up the hill.  I was weaving in and out of riders so fast, I'd swore they were walking which filled me with a fear of going to hard.  At one point I could hear Tim screaming incoherent gibberish and lots of heavy breathing. By the mid-point of the hill, I'd passed about 50% of those in front of me and by the top I think I had made up another 25%. One match burned...
One thing hasn't changed, mountain bikers need to do some dirt bike racing.  If I pass you because you are slower, don't get mad at me, learn to ride technical trails faster! BTW, what the heck is a "%#@* Dickerhoof"?  That's what some guy called me when I went over a boulder between him and a tree leaving him plenty of room.  If you leave a gap open between you and the next guy, I will feel obligated to fill it.  For the most part though, when asked, everyone moved over.  I'd let them pick the spot then jump.
I caught Chris Huck and a congo line between the top of 7 mile hill and the descent to the covered bridge.  Some guy was in the back complaining about the pace which wasn't bad at all.  Same said guy pulled off the road after the covered bridge and just stopped.  It looked like he was in no hurry to fix or do anything so maybe the pace was too fast for him?
Mt Doom, everyone hates that climb from the covered bridge to the fire tower but me.  I don't know why I climb that thing so well.  Maybe because it requires you to be in the red longer than normal like in time trials.  In the past, the only person I couldn't out run up that section of trail was John Lorson.  This was about the time my bike started to get really annoying as it creaked and moaned in protest of carrying my 200lb carcass up the hill.  Caught and passed lots of guys and gals up this hill and that is when I met up with this fast chick just as we crested the very top at aide station 1.
The fast single track was up next and this is where I was introduced to my new friend Michelle Peariso from Wisconsin whom I followed over the top.  She asked me if I knew the trails and when I said "yes", she informed me she was "sticking to me"!  I did my best to make sure nothing snuck up on her knowing she probably couldn't see around all the donuts I ate this past winter.  She was doing a good job at it but as Keith says, "nothing goes downhill faster than a middle aged white man" and that was the only time I was able to get any distance on her.  Any other time she'd pedal her way back to me.  Once the hill top rock garden started around mile 25, I didn't see her for a while.  Then at the trail crossing after the big hike-a-bike, all I heard was Tim screaming incoherent gibberish again as he was waiting to cross.  Timmy, remove that word from your vocabulary!!
Once out on the roads to trail section 2, I just spun my brains out like in years past.  I'd pass people up the hills, try to draft those I caught as far as I could down them and out onto the flats. I did poach a few pulls from passing riders, one of which I think was Jason Fischer from Wadsworth, Ohio.  He and I passed and re-passed each other throughout this transfer section.  About a mile or so before "Big Hill Rd", Michelle came motoring by me way faster than I care to mention!  I tried to jump on but it was futile, my gearing only allows a 16-17mph max at high rpm and she was on a mission.   I caught back up to her at the top just before going into the wilderness trails and all was going well until I fubarred and dabbed on the downside of the trail and almost sent myself on a roller coaster ride to some serious pain.  Michelle was smarter, she dabbed and fell to the up-side of the hill! She was ok so I motored on.
I'd blown through Aides 1 & 2 and by the time I reached 3, I had been dry for about a half hour so stopping was a must.  My lack of paying attention caught up to me here. The lady said she had water so I filled up my bottle and another gent filled my camel back allowing me to gulp down a couple cups of coke.  Michelle, who had stopped at Aide 2, came blowing by onto the next transfer section as I was mounting up.  As I cruising along I knew (thought) I had enough in the camel back to get me home so I dumped half the water over my head and down my back.  After my nice walk up part of Valley Stream Hill, I noticed a faint odor of vanilla, or so I thought.  A quick sniff to my jersey confirmed the odor was indeed from me and not something in the air.  The light goes on, I take a swig from my bottle, HEED!  I'd dumped a half bottle of Heed sports drink all over me, what a 'tard!  What the hell, it felt good so I took another swig and showered in what was left.
I could see Michelle up ahead but all I could do was watch her pull away.  I couldn't spin any faster so I concentrated on keeping the next guy behind me.  This section of road was lonely, hadn't seen a soul except Michelle since the aide station and all I could do was sit, spin and listen to my bike cry out in pain like a spoiled brat at walmart (Ohio's red neck embassy). I knew something was wrong but couldn't figure out just what "it"** was.  We hit another short section of trail, a short road section, past Aide 5 then into the State Park for the finally in the camp ground.  I caught up to Michelle about half way through the final section and just settled in to her pace.  
I knew there was no time left to catch anyone, I was tired, and yes, out of fluids, again.  I'm sure in hind sight, that Heed would have been better served inside me and not on me.  I think at this point I told her she was on a very fast pace and more than likely had the over all. We were only 15-20 minutes behind my fastest times from previous years when I finished in the top 5 overall.  She wouldn't let relax and I didn't really want to go any faster so she pulled over and forced me up front claiming she was slowing me down. (only if I were on my KTM)  If it hadn't been for her being bait, I'd probably still be out on that last section of road some place putzing merrily along.  I gave her one last warning about a bad sign* before she cramped up and slowed a bit.
I did pass one last guy who was totally cramped up and in pain as we entered the camp grounds then almost caught 2 others but they were all on geared bikes so I didn't matter much.  I ended up finishing 4th Single Speed, well down in the overall.  I was satisfied with that because my back never became an issue the whole race.
Congrats to all the Orrville and Soup Can racers, Gilmore for his 2nd full 100 miler, Julie Lewis for beating half the men's single speeders, Jason Supan for a great 100 miler and Lorson for once again kicking my ass.
If you ever get to ride or race in Wisconsin, please look up Team adventure 212 or visit their Adventure 212 blog.  I spent some time with Michelle, her Husband Chris and their friends/team mates after the race and they are great down to earth people.  I wish the both of them a successful 2011 season.

*Bad sign - This sign took out both my team mate Joe Lautzenhiser and the woman who was running 2nd over-all.  Someone said it was vandals who moved it but I truly believe that the sign was never replaced and was still there from the start to direct you to the state park trail.  Those who didn't know the area, didn't know  that the sign caused them to repeat the loop.
**Wounded warrior - Stripped the bike down to her nakedness after I found out she had a fracture in her right rear leg.  By races end, there was only about 5mm of aluminum and the chain holding the chain stay on.  Loaded her up in the dead wagon hauled her away to be recycled into a beer keg.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feeling Deflated

Tried to get a nice pedal ride in with the touring club SCBC but at mile 7, I flatted, fixed and then we chased and at mile 14, I flatted again. I fixed and started chasing again and I joked about getting one every 7 miles and not enough tubes and CO2 to get me home.

We caught and passed a few stragglers when I jumped onto the rear bumper of a truck to see how far I could ride the draft out. Unfotunately the front wheel started sliding around and guess what, it was mile 21, I was flatting for the 3rd time.  

Called the wife and said come get me, I'll be limping home on a half flat tire as far as I could. The group turned to continue so I started hammering along watching the tire get lower and lower and about 4 miles down the road I hit a rock and popped yet another hole in the front tire and ended my ride when what air was left rushed out instantly.

About 3 seconds after hitting the rock I hear "You know how long I have been chasing you?" I look back and it is our club president (OCC). He had been chasing us since we turned onto the road but didn't see the others turn. We BS'd about club business (I'm the VP) than the familiar FOrd Fusion of TGorman pulled up.

Then I get this email...

Amazing, after turning west, I too had three flats, and called the boss to pick me up in her Fusion...I was 3 mi from home with no more tubes & no more CO2. If it weren't for the cleats I could have walked home.


Must be the aliens

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC

I received the honors of getting to ride a brand spanking new 2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC from Northern Ohio Ducati and Triumph this afternoon.  I'm a dirt rider and pretty much use the pavement to get to and from work and the dirt trails so my opinion of this bike has no comparisons to pure street bikes as the only pure street bike I have is an 1100 Honda Aero that handles like a boat full of bowling balls and is only a few inches shorter than my F-150.  The rest of the fleet are Dual Sports and Cross Country Off-road.

Unless it's some Kymquat made in Tiwang Chung, I don't care what kind of bike it is, I'll take it for a spin.  Ask me if I want to ride a sweet bike like the Tiger XC and there's a good chance you'll be waiting quite a while for me to return.  When I got a phone call telling me there was a new Triumph Tiger sitting in front of my house waiting for me to ride it, I couldn't get out of there fast enough to see if it what I had just heard was true.  Heck, it's not every day someone drops off a bike with only 40 miles on it on your door step!

The bike has a nice fit and feel even though the seat was set at the lowest of the two settings and the bars pulled back for a shorter person.  The seat can be raised by simply using the key to remove it and moving the attaching bar on the seat from one slot to the next.  The first thing I noticed was how quiet and smooth the 3 cylinder motor was as I looked through the crystal clear wind screen that gives you a good view of the road.  The second was how torquey that motor is when you let out the featherly light clutch lever.

The motor pulls nicely though the gears all the way to sixth and it was nice to see your gear selection printed out on the dash as well as the fuel level.  The motor has a 10k rpm redline and even when I took Turra with me on the 2nd loop, I never had the need to go over 4k rpm as we accelerated to cruising speed.  Right from the start, I felt comfortable with how the bike felt and handled both at low and highway speeds.  

I included a few bad roads with twists and turns just to see how the suspension felt and from a preliminary ride, it felt really good.  Being new, and my pocketbook not all the padded, I decided not to take it down the local abandoned rail bed I usually cruise down on my own bikes.  After almost looping a brand spanking new 350SX out over a double last fall, the last thing I wanted to do was return the bike beaten or broken.  When I hit the freeway to do all four loops of the clover leaf I spotted what appeared to be a dual sport bike with some big panniers on it so I chased it down.  It was a waste of time, it was just a Buell.

I found the front brake to be very strong when I did a panic stop to make a turn I missed.  When I did dive into the turn, I was glad the 21" front tire gripped the road very well.  BTW, I like 21" front wheels, there is a wider selection of true off-road tires available compared to other sizes.  I'm no knee dragger so I have no need for some fat squatty tire.

I only had time for a couple more miles to take the wife for a ride so she could see how the rear seat felt.  She found it to be comfortable and offered more real estate than the current crop of bikes we have.  In fact, the rear seat is separate from the front allowing you to remove it and replace it with a rack if you are riding solo and need it for your camping gear, don't have anyone who trusts you enough to ride with you, or just prefer to be by your self all the time.  Speaking of the seat(s), the front saddle covers the battery, relays and  the fuse box.  The rear covers the tool kit and leaves a little space to lock your wallet, spare gloves or any other small items you can fit into the small area.

The motor looks to be pretty much out in the open and easy to service for oil changes.  And, depending on how deep the spark plugs are into the head and valve covers, you may be able to replace them without removing the tank but I doubt it.

Would I buy one?  If I had the money and was in the market for a new bike, there'd be a good chance I would.  There wasn't anything about the bike I didn't like except the shifter felt notchy but it only had 40 miles on it so that isn't even really fair since it isn't broken in.

A big thank you to Carl and Carl at Northern Ohio Ducati and Triumph for the test ride.    Now I just need to wait for a chance to ride it all day, say maybe at the Cabin Fever Road Enduro next Sunday?