Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Major bike repair in Mesa (near Phoenix), Arizona 8-21 Jan 2015

Once upon a time ...
Photo by LA Times (taken by Mark or Chris).
Remember what happened on December 10th 2014? My sidecar broke down on the Racetrack Valley in Death Valley, CA (USA). Even though we rode from Las Vegas to Phoenix plenty of repair was still to be done.

We made it to the Los Angeles Times magazine. Read the story here (our part starts at the bottom of page 6).

My days in Mesa were fully focused on getting my sidecar back to order. Skippy was busy with her studies and making some food for us. Brant - a blacksmith running his own company - added some metal to my trailing arm. Let's hope that it will last now. At least I got his “warranty” that he will come and fix it independent of where ever I would be in case this arm will go broken again – excellent “customer” service ;)
Start of strengthening the stock trailing A arm.
Two here...
... and one here. Some paint and ready!
Brant having fun.
Painted and installed.
Two days later the trailing arm was fixed, painted and installed. The rear shock repair started somewhat slow since weekend was coming and some shops are closed on Saturday whereas others are closed Sunday and Monday. As we were waiting for answers, parts were ordered and delivered it took in the end almost two weeks to get the rear shock fixed. Wow!
Morning walk with Brianna, Lyra and Ulpu.
Brianna's heart-breaking look.
Winnston - king of the house.
The couch - center of the dogs lives.

Gretchen, Brant, Skippy, Brianna, Winnston, Lyra and Ulpu. Brutus was hiding again somewhere.
Another thing was to investigate the clutch of the Beemer. Something was not right. The last couple of days the bike shuddered when leaving e.g., a traffic light. Besides that the clutch had suffered a lot on this trip. Since it was obvious that the rear shock would take its time, I thought I investigate the clutch and a few hours later I had the clutch parts in my hands. Here were my findings:
  • The diaphragm spring was out of center when I took it away from the bike. Now that was suspicious and in order to avoid another failure I decided to replace it with a new one. Most likely this was the cause for the extremely odd behavior lately.
  • The clutch plate measured 5.5mm inside, 5.3mm in the middle and 5.1mm outside. That kind of uneven wear appears to be normal based on Siebenrock guys in Germany. As a new plate is 6.5mm and the plate had now some 60+ tkm used, I calculated that I would face trouble in South America assuming a linear usage. Therefore I decided to replace it now as well.
  • The pressure and housing plate had some clear markings of abuse but I decided to go with them and only polish them a bit.
Wolfi likes to screw around.
Clearly visible the center piece is somewhat out of center.
Old clutch plate.
Suffered plates.
and the other one looks similar.
New clutch plate (Siebenrock oil-resistant) and diaphragm spring (it felt more sturdy).
Wolfi walking with Brutus and Brianna (or other way around...)
Even Skippy managed to hold them ;)
All maps arrived - let's go.
We also got few free concerts :)
Skippy stretching...
and doing her exams with the required anti-alien medicine.
Brianna's way of sitting.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ULPU! (She got 7 years old)
As the bike was standing there I realized that the exhaust muffler also suffered in the past and started to disintegrate. Fixing appeared not feasible since the inner pipe was broken from too deep inside the muffler. The poor man's option would be to let it be or remove the part so that it would not fall out one day during riding and potentially even hit Skippy (or somebody else).
More broken things - Remus Revolution exhaust muffler disintegrated.
Once more I asked for help in ADVrider and DaveBig jumped in, sent me a stock silencer for free and even paid for the shipping. Thanks a lot – I really appreciate it! Even tough the BMW silencer is a bit heavier (the Remus weighs almost 4kg and the BMW silencer weighs 6kg.), the positive effect was that it was not as noisy as my Remus Revolution (especially since my bike had the Y-pipe instead of the catalyst). Brant got a piece of pipe and welded the extension piece on so that it does not heat the sidecase neither makes it all black. I was happy.
Wolfi got a vegan burger at The Cutting Board

While waiting for my shock I had plenty of time to check the Suzuki. It was time for some yearly (30tkm) maintenance like changing the cooling liquid, fork oil and brake fluid. Besides that I noted that the rear shock was also leaking. Oh no! Another two weeks somewhere? This time I decided to order the seals by myself and figure out later where I would go to get the shock fixed.
Almost all is fixed - mission accomplished.
Fruits from the front yard. We were allowed to take as many grapefruits as we wanted. Skippy fit 25 in her sidecase.
New muffler came.

Brant added the extension.
Fits perfectly!
What was supposed to be a 3-4 days stay ended up to be a two weeks invasion to Brant and Gretchen's house. We really really thank you for your patience and hospitality!
Track from Las Vegas to Phoenix (about 1000km).

And some more material in the next version of our travelogue by Skippy.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Yuma, AZ 5-8 Jan 2015

Due to this major shift in direction, I needed to prepare the bikes for the new route and some of the bigger maintenance on both bikes needed to be done before entering Mexico. There were also a few items which appeared to be worn out but as long as we were in “civilized” country with BMW and Suzuki dealers always nearby, there was no sense of urgency to fix those as long as we rode in the US.

Our next stop was in Yuma where we got invited a long time ago by Doug and Darian – Thank you VERY much! We stayed at their other trailer. An excellent practice for the upcoming tiny house lifestyle :D  Doug also served as a mail hub since he had an important letter for me from Rudi (Thanks Rudi).

The required maintenance on both bikes plus the required repair on my bike caused once more a little bit of thinking, logistics and arrangements. We decided not to do any repair at Doug's place instead waited for Phoenix where we got invited by people via the ADVrider tent space page. It seemed that once I start working on the bike I can take care of several issues in parallel. Once the Beemer would be ready I'd start with the Suzi.
Play and food break on our way to Yuma.
"Home" for the next few days.
We all loved it and my kiddo was all excited :D
Wow! They do not maintain the river beds and ATV trails - how disappointing ;p
Sure! Remember, I felt really young when going grocery shopping. Maybe this tiny bump could cause a heart failure, better be sure and put up a sign!
Really cool sand dunes and this time the temperature was perfect for a hike (compared to Africa).
Doug and Darian took us there.
Neighbor lot - electric, water and grey-water sewer hook-up is all one needs.
Girls liked it also a lot.
Doug and Darian - thanks a lot for your hospitality!
Some more reality show. Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Our New Years resolution in Lake Havasu, Arizona

Our ride from Las Vegas to Lake Havasu brought us once more into the solitude of a desert. There was not much to see compared to what we saw already and the road was as straight as it could be just going up and down the lifted elevations (would not call those hills). Once more we also tried to escape the snow which was announced to fall on Las Vegas in a few days. Course South it was then.

We changed our original plan to go back to Death Valley for the New Year because my rear shock was still not fixed and Skippy did not wanted to get stranded again there :D
Now one must admit that I do listen to Skippy. If it would have not been her pushing me I would have gone back to Death Valley – what could possibly go wrong this time?

We checked in at Motel 6 in Lake Havasu, our room was a closet and the bed would be just fine for me ... alone. Luckily we could change the room the following day to something bigger with two beds, at least that guaranteed I got some sleep (Skippy does snore!).

The snow finally caught us in Lake Havasu and the temperature was -2C in the night (I checked Helsinki and they had same temperatures over there .... why did we come to Arizona????).
We entered 2015 without even noticing it. Somehow our travel changed our perspectives to New Year very much. In Finland 2015 already started many hours ago and the first just woke up from their hang-over, folks in New York toasted HNY two hours ago and 500m from our motel to the East – just across Colorado River – there was California and they would still need to wait for one hour to do the same. That was too awkward and so we focused on our little time bubble and watched another episode of Castle from our laptop :)
Snow in Lake Havasu, Arizona is exceptional.
Lake Havasu / Colorado River

Lake Havasu channel and Lake Havasu
"Downtown" from London Bridge.
I felt that I had been too long in the motel and it was time for another ride. Since Skippy already drove a few kilometers of the Route 66 it was now my turn. My plan was to make a day ride from Lake Havasu via Oatman to Kingman and back to Lake Havasu. A peaceful ride on paved roads (my rear shock was still leaking a bit, thus no gravel this time).

The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the temperature was manageable (+8C or so). Oatman appeared to be full in tourist mode. Plenty of gift shops advertising their stuff and cars parked all over. The main road was blocked by cars and I heard from some other folks that they just had a “shoot out” there :D
Yeah - I did hear some shots from far away. As I waited for the street to clear, I admired those burros going back and forth all over the village and coming to people's car as soon as they saw a hand ... there might be some food. Some kiosk even sold burro food. Maybe not the smartest choice?

A few miles later the road was closed ... WTF? Why would the road be closed? No info of why anywhere! All cars but one made a U-turn or took the gravel road to Boulder City. The purpose of my ride was to ride along Route 66 or at least the Byway. Taking such a detour made no sense. Thus the only choice was to keep on riding passed the “road closed” sign and following the one truck which kindly ignored the sign as well.
Road to Oatman
Burro party :D

After a short while there was a segment where half of the street was covered in snow and ice. That might have been the reason for the closure or it was the consequence of it. A mile later I saw a bunch of guys, asked them and they confirmed that snow and ice was the reason for the closure. USA! What would Finland be if roads would be closed during the 6 months of winter? I even still had a winter tire mounted on the back :D
Nasty ice on the road.
... and some more.
Lunch break at the summit (about 1000m above sea level)
Of course I went and it was all fine. No worries at all – maybe in the night when it is dark it might be a different story.

The road was real fun and soon I reached the other road closure sign. After that it was all open and straight letting me reach Kingman in no time. Mission accomplished!
Snow behind the power house.
LGB - another dead dinosaur.
Been there - done that!
Oh no!
Went to see the movie "Wild".
Cactus Garden at Lake Havasu Statepark.
Breathtaking sunset. This picture does not even come close to its real beauty.
Go Vegan with Vegenaise!
Already for a few weeks I got more and more restless and some inner voice in me (and Skippy) told me that it was time to move on. Looking at the things we still wanted to see and do in Canada and USA, taking into account what we experienced so far, looking at our financial situation, calculating distances and costs we both had the same feeling: it was time to head south and experience Central and South America!
Rough Plan for Central and South America (about 30tkm).

Skippy had energy to make another travelogue. Welcome to our reality show :D