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A long report about my little fall ride...


Emerson00

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I mentioned previously I was obligated in Anderson, SC yesterday at 11:00 (Sunday, 22 Oct 2006). I agreed with my wife that taking the bike would make an otherwise boring drive more enjoyable (yes, she’s great). So I planned to ride from MD to SC – but not a direct route on the way down. I originally had (naïve) high hopes of riding down Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and perhaps hitting Deal’s Gap and taking 2 days to do it…

 

Why SC? Because this little bug is now 5 months old and was to be christened. That’s Uncle Matt holding his hand the day after he was born:

 

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Then I found that Skyline and the BRP are horribly slow this time of year (leaf peepers) and that I could only take Saturday and Sunday for the whole trip. That meant one long day Saturday of enjoying my progression southwards, and a high speed transit home Sunday as originally planned… so no BRP, for sure, and no Deal’s Gap. I still wanted to try Skyline, simply because I’d not ridden that before…

 

This was a big deal for me. I’ve not done a long ride before, and not been out overnight on the bike, either. Taking the bike was a given – no way I’m sitting in a car the whole way in complete comfort, bored, and wishing I was that guy on the bike! So even though the entire trip was only 39 hours, door to door, and 1200 miles… it was a lot for me. Please excuse the length. It’s a long way of saying I had fun, was miserable at times, enjoyed it, my butt hurts, and am glad I didn’t take the easy way out. Feel free to what I learned at the bottom.

 

Saturday morning started a bit late – wheels up at 07:00 instead of 05:00. Friday had ended late trying to figure out how to pack the suit and basic clothes, a few very basic tools (Allen wrenches, vice grips, elec tape, and a multi-tool), map, and the obligatory wallet, watch, keys, camera cell and Palm. Not to mention getting home late due to traffic:

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Originally I packed, of course, too much, and tried putting a duffel on the back… switched to the old standby back pack… still pissed because my beauty looked like a rat bike. Nothing irritates me more than over-packing, but I start out doing it every time. So then I started dumping all the niceties and extra crap… the book was gone, the dress shoes gone (who says you can’t wear boots with a suit!?), the extra pair of shorts and T-shirt gone… everything I could possibly accept not taking was gone… So I stuffed the suit in the tank bag when it was expanded, and used the expansion zippers to compress it all down to nothing-size… Put a sleeping bag on the empty top case rack, and headed out. Very nice to be so lightly loaded:

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I headed to Front Royal and the entrance to Skyline drive, in the Shenandoah Park. Got onto Skyline around 9:30 or so and after an hour and 45 minutes had only covered 30 miles of it.

 

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When I got to 211 I made the decision to skip the balance of Skyline and head west on 211, since I’d heard a lot of good things about that road. It was fun, I enjoyed really learning how to lean the bike, and making better time – even if west rather than south. Skyline was beautiful, and I managed a few pictures, but they don’t look as good as the images in my memory. The entire road was bathed in a beautiful yellow-orange, and all the leaves were brightly colored, as they tend to do in that area. Saw one deer – up close and personal. She was feeding next to the road, and just looked at me with those big eyes. I’m sure most will disagree, but I don’t worry about deer on the road. I figure what will be will be. I am ever vigilant of their presence, but I have none of the common hatred for the creatures so common on 2-wheel internet forums. I think they’re beautiful creatures. So, I enjoyed the encounter with a quiet critter on the side of a quiet road in the mountains of Virginia.

 

At the 211/81 junction, I ran into Mark (AKA Ghola, over on another forum) by pure chance as I stopped to get some batteries and a warm drink. How amazing, to me, to run into another Multistrada in nowheresville, Virginia. Mark suggested 33 West as a great motorcycle road, and I decided to take his advice. Proof of the strange encounter:

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Thank Goodness I did - 33 is motorcycle heaven! I followed a van full of a family nearly to the base of the first turns before making a legal, but emphatic, pass. They didn’t mind, the kids in the back were quite happy to wave hello and ogle the Duc. Towards the first crest, I stopped for a picture, and the van passed me again… DOH! But, they were good enough to pull off the road at the first opportunity on the way down to allow me to get a free use of the road. I waved thanks and realized the car ahead was even worse than the van. A Subaru who wanted to do 10mph through the downhill turns… I decided I was short on time and made a slightly sub-legal pass on a short straight. Then it was game-on and I focused strictly on the road and learning to lean properly, and adjust entry speeds to avoid using the brakes. I have a serious tendency to target fixation, and worked that out – I realized that when my corner speeds felt too high I focused heavily on the entrance to the turn – the point of curvature in the pavement trying to slow down “enough.” I found, Saturday, that I did need to moderate my speed on the straights, but I really needed to learn to lean the damn girl over, and deal with my speed before getting to the turn – rather than braking into the turn and risking running straight. I started to get a real feel for it. Sounds simplistic, but hey, I’ve got no teachers, and they don’t cover higher corner speeds in the MSF BRC course… Point is I felt like a safer, if not better rider by the time I got off 220 – a short distance, with a lot of learning squeezed in. Just getting to the start of amazing mountain roads:

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I’d previously been advised to take 219 South all the way from far western Maryland to North Carolina at least; it was described as a real fun road north to south, and intended to take 33W to 219S. By the time I came across 220, I decided I needed to make some southerly progress. It was after noon, and I was still pretty far north for an 8pm arrival in Anderson, SC…

 

220 was OK, a few cars to pass, but a lot of fun sweepers (I’d decided police be damned, I’m going to ride my ride). Eventually came to Monterey, WV, stopped for gas and asked how long to the interstate. I was getting restless to make progress, and they suggested follow 220 to Warm Springs, make a left onto 39E and then a right onto 42S…

 

On 39 or 42:

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Finally found the interstate around 2pm/14:00. My wife was expecting me to turn south on 81 off of 211, rather than head west onto 33 and into WV, so I had some catching up to do before calling in. 64E towards 77S was a nice wide open road and speeds climbed steadily. I got a few pictures while rolling of the beautiful foliage.

 

The interstate travel is not worthy of description except to say the Multi ran at speeds from 5-10mph (darn Virginia Tech fans! ;) ) to well above… ahem, 90mph. The GPS recorded a speed slightly above stupid, but… it wasn’t maintained, honest. The highest maintained speed on the highway was an indicated 95mph. I found the GPS indicating a 5% difference roughly, so I was running 90 at the time.

 

A dirty bike on the way home in not-quite wet weather:

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And for Joey!

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Lessons:

 

Sunday on the way home was strictly by interstate, and nothing really interesting except the boring stretches of 85 in NC and VA suck (!). I hit 4 separate traffic backups Sunday… decided lane splitting was my only way to maintain sanity as the Duc was having trouble maintaining idle. She kept stalling with clutch lever fully squeezed, while in first gear – this happened in all four traffic backups. It happened Saturday night as well, within 15 miles of my hotel… I can’t explain it, except that I’m thinking my dealer adjusted my valves, and perhaps belts, but didn’t deal with the valve guides.

 

I got 140-150 miles to the tank, and put in as much as 4.03 gallons for 152 miles. Mileage was down from what I expected… averaged barely over 40mpg. I’ve run these speeds in comparable temperatures, and averaged over 50mpg.

 

I was running a Gerbings jacket liner at up to full power in the evenings. I wonder if this caused the stalling, and if it could have had anything to do with the poor fuel efficiency. I turned off the jacket before even applying brakes when I saw a back-up, but still the bike died… could it have been eating up that much battery?

 

The hand guards, Acerbis Rally Brush with spoilers, were a wonderful thing. I wore Held summer gloves the whole trip, and my hands were tolerable at all times once the Gerbings was on. Without the guards, I can tell you from experience I’d have turned around before Front Royal. For $73 all told… the Acerbis were a really cost efficient improvement to cold comfort. With better gloves, I could have survived without the Gerbings… without the Acerbis, I couldn’t have tolerated the cold my hands would have been subjected.

 

39 hours, 1200 miles, and my ass hurts. No I mean it really, truly, badly hurts. I’ve put 9-10 hours in before, but never had this bad a case of monkey butt.

 

Next trip, I will have an Airhawk pad and a Sargent seat. I will have my Sirius hooked up and providing something better than my miserable memory of old songs to keep my ears occupied. I’d like to have proper luggage, (top case was ordered 3 weeks ago!), including saddle bags. At a minimum, my butt must be made happy, and I need the distraction of music to shut me up… The bike was great. She was fun, handled like an absolute dream, never missed a beat at speed (only when idling), and made me happy every time I saw her. I think she’s a fantastic looking bike.

 

Last rambling thought… I found it interesting how much a bike can become “home” on a trip like this. If I’d stop and get food, or use the restroom, then every time I came back outside and saw the bike it was like a connection. The bike represented my little world for a couple days.

 

My home for two days this fall: what a trip!

 

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-The wordy, but happy, rider

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I hit 4 separate traffic backups Sunday… decided lane splitting was my only way to maintain sanity as the Duc was having trouble maintaining idle. She kept stalling with clutch lever fully squeezed, while in first gear – this happened in all four traffic backups. It happened Saturday night as well, within 15 miles of my hotel… I can’t explain it, except that I’m thinking my dealer adjusted my valves, and perhaps belts, but didn’t deal with the valve guides.

 

I would have hoped that Ducati had fixed this issue by now, but check whether your clutch slave cylinder is leaking. It's a common problem. The ST4 I had needed a new cylinder before it hit 1000 miles. Superior replacements are available in the aftermarket.

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Sweet report and nice bike too thumbsup.gif! No matter how bad the monkey butt.. lmao.gif

In any case, don't spend the $$ on a Sargent, just get the Airhawk. I ride a stock GSA seat with it and I wish I had it before my summer trip... dopeslap.gif Oh well....live and learn I guess.

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Thanks for the report; was interesting reading about a ride coming south, "reverse" to most those I take.

Tried the Airhawk but could not get use to the squirmy feeling. Best accessory I have ever bought was an Alaska sheepskin. Looks dorkey but it really improves the comfort level even with a Sergents.

See ya. Bill

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AdventurePoser

Thanks for the great ride report and pix. As a western guy who works in a school, I won't be able to witness the turning leaves of the East until I retire, so Thanks again!!

 

Steve

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