The Trip

Ron Brown /

This grew a little bigger than I expected, sorry


I left Michigan late on Thursday, March 22, on the principle that if I did not leave the house, calls from customers would keep me from ever leaving.

Because of my late departure, I decided to superslab it down I75. Dressed in my thinsulate snowmobile suit and mittens, I headed south.

I stopped for the night in Botkins, Ohio as I was becoming Hypothermic.

On Friday, still dressed for the cold, I continued down I75 to Dalton, Georgia where I spent the night. The trip was uneventfull except that my odometer quit in Kentucky. It was now registering about 1/100th of the distance travelled. Cheap shit jap crap, only 30 years old and it quit already! This really screwed up my gas milage, but on the brighter side, I figured my next scheduled oil change would be in 2010.

On Saturday, still snowmobile suited, I continued south. In slow traffic through Atlanta, I finally started to overheat, so at the next gas stop, about 1.2 miles from the last one, I stowed the snow suit and full face helmet and changed to leather jacket and open face. This felt great, I think the last time I wore my open face was last October.

I had an interesting experience on this leg of the trip, an expensive SUV, a lexus or the like, passed me with the rear wiper going. Not only was it not raining, but I had seen this same SUV about 3 hours before and the rear wiper was going. Feeling compassionate, I pulled up alongside the passenger window and found an older woman driving and a guy asleep in the passenger seat. Before I could get the woman's attention, slow traffic made be drop back. I got alongside again in about a mile and finally got the womans attention. I guess I need to work on my one handed signal for "your rear wiper has been going for at least 3 hours" because she took one look at me and accellerated out of sight. I'm sure her husband explained to her how much he enjoyed replacing scratched rear windows, on his brand new $30K+ SUV, after he woke up.

I left I75 at the Leesburg exit, continued to Eustis and tried to figure out where I was going. Naturally, I had left my mapquest map and directions, along with all relevant phone numbers on my coffee table. My first attempt was to get the phone number of the guy I was going to stay with. Information never heard of him. Then I asked for the number of my neighbor across the street in Michigan and they never heard of him either, even though he has been listed in the local phone book for the last ten years.

Then I called a friend in Sarasota and he got my neighbor's phone number off the internet. I guess the phone company does not have internet access?? Then I could call my neighbor and get the local number I wanted by having him run across the street and retrieve it from the coffee table. Now I could call and get directions to where I was headed. That worked, I only got lost twice but recovered nicely.

I spent the next couple of days basking in the sunshine and warmth, while cleaning up and servicing a '91 Zephyr 550 and a '77 KZ100. Of course, they required extensive "test rides" to make sure I was doing a good job.

Thursday, A friend from Sarasota rode up on his BMW cruiser and we rode back to his place. Sarasota was interesting, especially as we had a record 24 hour rainfall while I was there. No problem though, it rained mostly at night. Oh yes, it was night when we arrived there. That would explain why we were so wet.

Sarasota was fun, a bit touristy, but some good riding on the coast and keys. Actually, after winter in Michigan, straight and flat freeways felt good, even the rain felt good. Must have been the heat.

On Sunday, March 31 I headed back to Eustis. I ran into a '66 T-Bird broken down along the highway, an 88 year old was driving his 84 year old wife to Jacksonville for an MRI on Monday. Figured this was a piece of cake, points, condensor, all simple stuff. We tried really hard, thought we had it running a couple of times but the fuel pump just could not pump enough to keep it going. Cheap shit Detroit crap, only 35 years and it quit already. Of course, this was wonderfull for his gas mileage, he had a tow truck take him to Jacksonville. However, I think his overall cost per mile went up a little.

Monday, April fools day, I went back into fix it mode. A mower, edger, garden tractor, weed whip (failed), two bicycles and a smattering of computer problems later, it was Friday and my hosts left for the keys in thier motor home. I immediately went into goof off mode and did some serious riding on the Zephyr and the KZ over the week end. A warning to those who follow, the dirt roads in this area are really made of sand. If you get lost and hit a dirt road, turn around and stay on the pavement. I did not and discovered that a KZ1000 with street tires is not a good off road vehicle. I didn't drop it but I came really close.

After a couple of days of fun, by noon on Sunday, April 8, I was packed and ready to leave for Michigan. I rode I75 to Macon, Georgia, where I spent the night.

On Monday, I headed up US129 to US441 headed for Knoxville Tennessee. Any of you familiar with the area, or who peruse a map, will realize that this took me through the Smokies, nice riding day. All I can say about Gatlinburg, Tennessee is, amazing. I arrived in Knoxville late and spent the night.

Tuesday, still seeing lots of bad weather on the Weather Channel between me and Michigan, i got back on I75 and made good time to Ohio. I stopped at the first rest area in Ohio, (free map) and when I tried to start the bike, the starter was sluggish. Without thinking too much about it, I just kick started the bike and headed up the road. Going throug construction in Dayton, the bike started to sputter so I switched to reserve, no effect. I was parked on the 2 feet wide left shoulder of an elevated section of freeway, on an apparently dead bike, in heavy traffic. I turned off the lights, kicked it, it started and I took off. As soon as I cleared Dayton, I stopped for gas. So far, I had not seen any bad weather, although I had ridden on some damp roadway. After getting gas and a drink, I noticed an approaching thunderstorm. Must have been the almost simultaneous lightning and clap of thunder. I looked at the storm and decided that if I took off immediately, I could get north of the storm before it crossed the freeway. I could get a job as a weather forcaster on TV, as soon as I got back on I75, I was hit by a gully washer that soaked me to the skin in about 5 seconds and reduced visibility to a few hundred feet. My bike started to die again and I realized I had not turned the gas back on when I left the gas station. I turned the gas on and then noticed my lights were off. Visibility being what it was, I immediately turned them on. My bike continued to slow down so I signalled to the car behind me that I was slowing down and as soon as the semi on my right got by me, I pulled into the right lane. Being a slow learner, it was just now beginning to dawn on me thet maybe my battery was not as good as it might be. I turned the lights off again and the bike ran better, but not well. I took the next exit and the bike quit on the ramp so I rolled into the first gas station with a dead engine.

I had intended to ride all the way home, but now I was soaked to the skin with a dead motorcycle so the Motel opposite looked really inviting. A couple of young guys in the gas station had to go to the auto parts store at the next exit to pick up a battery and volunteered to take me with them. Having rested a while, my battery started the bike so I checked in to the motel and changed into dry clothes, then walked back to the gas station for my ride. The auto parts store only had a big time battery charger so I picked up a 600 ma, 12 volt transformer and a full wave rectifier at Radio Shack. Back at the motel, it was dark allready so I just pulled my battery and ignored the chaging system. In my tool kit, I had a single alligator clip lead, a test lamp with an alligator clip on one end and a set of motorcycle jumper cables. I up-ended the ice bucket on the bathroom counter under the shaver outlet, put a stack of upside down plastic water glasses on top and used a wrapped bar of motel soap as a heat insulater to set the transformer on. This allowed me to stuff the 4" tinned end transformer leads into the wall outlet. I used the clip lead to connect one side of the transformer to the full wave rectifier and the test lamp alligator clip to hold the other side directly to the rectifier. The jumper leads completed the circuit from rectifier outpu to the battery. Fortunately, the maid never came into my room and saw this arrangement, or I might still be explaining to Troy, Ohio's finest that I was not the next Uni-bomber. After hanging/standing all my wet gear on the room heater, I quit for the night.

Wednesday morning, I checked the charging system and found that the alternator windings were shorted to ground. The rectifier and regulator seemed ok. I did not want to disassemble the alternator so I decided to ride home on the now re-charged battery. I found out later that Ohio requires motorcycles to have headlights on. But you don't have to wear a helmet, go figure. Anyway, I packed up and left without lights on and never did get stopped. Next time I needed gas, a few miles south of Bowling Green, I stopped for breakfast. I had been riding on wetter and wetter roads the whole time and thought they might dry a bit while I ate. After breakfast, I headed up the road again and within 4 or 5 miles, the temperature had dropped what seemed like 10 degrees, must be getting closer to Michigan. I exited at Bowling Green and suited up in the snowmobile suit and full face helmet for the rest of the ride home, which was cool, but uneventfull.

A thought for those of you who wonder about these things, and I had a couple of hundred miles to ponder this question. When running an old points ignition system bike on battery, do you draw more current by going faster? After much thought, I came to the conclusion that the ratio of the time the points were closed to the time the points were open, does not change with rpm, therefore, riding faster may get you home before the battery runs down again, officer. Just kidding about the officer.

By the way, the next day I found a short to ground, in the alternator harness under a cable clamp, easy fix.

Re: The Trip

Ataristyle /

Wow! Thats a trip alright. I never riden my bike on the highway nor intend to. I'm surprized you didn't get hit(You did ride in a lane? By reading how you got onto the shoulder after the semi passed you.) What is your top speed by the way when riding before the speedo broke.

Re: The Trip

Ron Brown /

What do you think I am, Stupid? Crazy, maybe, but not stupid!

I was on my Honda 500/4. It has no problem keeping up with the freeway traffic.


Re: The Trip

Ataristyle /

Never thought you were stupid. I didn't read that you were driving a motorcycle(thought it was a 'ped). Glad to hear that it keeps up(500cc should ). I'm going to be purchasing a 1971 Yamaha R5-B 350(2 stroke). The bike doesn't run but ran last fall. It will need some work. I plan to use this when traffic is way to fast to travel with a moped on.

Re: The Trip

Ron Brown /

No offence taken, I was just kidding about the crazy/stupid.

You are going to have some serious fun on that Yamaha.


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