Duke Dunsford (Expert) View all posts in this topic  
Tue Aug 19, 2003 12:15 am
IBR: Back from Florida - Latest on Day 8        

Were back home from checkpoint two. I must first thank my lovely wife Heather for being such a trooper. After several trips to the Lake City Wal-Mart, willingly playing phone messenger & official photographer, putting up with Florida's incredibly torrid heat and humidity plus mucho testoterone & B.O. of lots of men who hadn't had a bath in several days, she did great. We took a couple days for a mini-vacatin on the way home, and now we're back at 'command central'.

Thanks also to Wes for doing the updates while I was out of computer range. That boy can type.

Leon made it to Maine around 10am today. Check-in was 4-6pm so he had some time to sleep. He made all the bonuses he was planning on the way up, and was even able to add one because he was ahead of schedule. For those of you who've been to the Deal's Gap area, Leon made a late night pass over the Cherohala Skyway and a visit to the Deal's Gap store on the way toward Blue Ridge Parkway. All very familiar roads to him. He also made a bonus in Manhattan (NYC) where he said he had a blast. He reported he could fly through the traffic, lane splitting, cutting across rows of trafic, parking the bike on the sidewalk while grabbing a bonus, all the typical NYC stuff. He said he had a local rabbit he was able to follow. I hope he writes about it someday, he sure made it sound cool.

Leon called back late this afternoon to tell me that at least most of the red route riders (as others have mentioned, it's hard to understand him on the cell phone) were in Maine, and that he still holds on to 24th place even with most of the red riders in. Way to go Leon! Reviewing the bonus possibilities, there are about 50,000 points available in Alaska for red riders who chose that route. They will skip the Florida and Maine checkpoints and we won't know real scores until Friday when it's over.

OK, now things get difficult for Leon. The last leg for the blue route has bonuses that far exceed all the previous bonuses combined. Leon's currently on his way to Nova Scotia for the first part of a monster. After that he has a sleep bonus and then big miles begin (as if he hasn't done enough already). Don't want to spoil the pie, but if he does what he's planning he'll be THE man, regardless of what place he finishes...stay tuned.

As for the Florida checkpoint, it was by far the most impressive display of tricked out BMW / Honda / Et al. hardware I've ever seen. We figured at one point there were at least 200 LD bikes there. Considering nearly all of the riders were in some variation of Aerostich outfit, quick addition showed some serious cash sitting in that Holiday Inn parking lot. We arrived Friday evening and riders were beginning to trickle in from the rally. About 10:30 pm one particular Harley rider rolled in. He'd been wearing some of those goggle-type sunglasses with an open-face helmet. He had the worst case of racoon eyes I've ever seen. Long day(s) in the saddle.

We decided against checking Leon's valves. In an apparent fit of paranoia, he had pulled the valve cover to check clearances in Colorado due to some rough performance in the mid-range. He found they weren't off even a bit. He also had switched carburetors, from the dial-a-jet units to standard carbs. Apparently the dial-a-jet carbs are older and he feels unreliable, so he's sticking with his standard 'good' carbs. He's running 105 mains by the way. I believe the problem he was having in Colorado was purely a rich issue from high altitude.

So I went to work changing the oil in the parking lot, drawing lots of attention. Several comments came my way of, 'Boy, you're a brave man!" I had to keep telling them, "The nutso riding this thing is in the room asleep". This guy [Frank Brown] pulled up right next to where I was working on Leon's bike and got off. You'd have thought he hadn't spoken to another human being in weeks. Maybe he hadn't. A very nice guy, but I finally had to encourage him to head to check-in. This thing obviously takes it's toll on the riders, and it becomes very real in person.

The oil that came out of Leon's motor was black as tar. Other than a drink of new oil and a filter, it didn't need much help. The chain oiler got refilled, the tires brought up to the right pressure (front only had about 20 lbs in it?), rear shock brought up to correct pressure. And our very own umbrella girl took care of cleaning all of the clear parts and uncovered the license plate from whatever gunk had built up there. I started the motor a couple times to get the oil level correct and it still sounds great. No clanking or knocking at all. Very smooth. the rear tire is beginning to get square after 4700 miles of the journey, but I account some of that to the extra load and the extremely hot conditions out West. After some major whacking on my impact wrench, I got one of the bar ends off my bike and replaced the missing one from Leon's right handlebar. (Yes, he now has one red bar end).

With all of the attrition in the 'hopeless' class this year, Leon's equipment is holding out well. The zipper on the left leg of his aerostich is toast. As Wes reported he stopped at home to get his 'lined' 'Stich. He said he about froze to death in Colorado. He had on all of his clothes including his parka and electric vest and still was cold. (he was wearing his unlined 'summer' suit) I think more than the zipper, he wanted warmth for up North. We heard one rider say that after the hot desert heat, he got cold in 85 degree temps.

Once the next leg's packets were handed out Saturday around Noon, the motel parking lot cleared out quickly. Leon was one of the later riders to leave after spending about 30 minutes planning out the leg back in the room.

By the way I did see Mike Kneebone with my own eyes. There was no time to say hello, he was pretty busy.

That's it for now. Somewhere way up north is an incredible rider flying through the darkness on one tough little bike.

Go Leon, Go...!

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