KDW (Regular) View all posts in this topic  
Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:29 pm
IBR Prolog        

How did I get here? That's a great question. Fall of '11 several years had passed since I completed my first Saddle Sore 1000. In the intervening years I had completed several other cross country trips on both a '03 Ninja 250 and '81 Suzuki GS650G. I had enjoyed each ride immensely. Each ride offered me an opportunity to see parts of the US and Canada that I would have otherwise not seen and more importantly meet a host of interesting people.

In '09 I found myself following the adventures of the IBR on-line. I was intrigued. More importantly I was living vicariously through the rides of others. The '11 IBR had me hooked, I was ready to ride again following the on-line antics of the riders. Some time while sharing what was going on with my wife and daughter. It was during one of our conversations that my daughter made the comment; "Dad you should enter the IBR before you're too old to ride it." OK that did it, I'm in. The first opportunity I to submit an entry I did. Not just one, but two entries were submitted.

The first entry was a standard entry I would be riding my '08 Norge. I really doubted that this was an entry that would be selected. While I had plenty of long distance riding experience, not much of it was documented. Add to that I had zero rally experience. I also had my doubts that the Norge would make the 11 day rally without some mechanical or electrical issue. All around I just wasn't confident in this being a viable entry.

The second entry was a "hopeless class" entry riding my '03 Ninja 250 in as close to stock condition as I could make it. I knew the bike wasn't hopeless, it had already been across the country twice and made routine trips from San Diego to San Francisco. I needed an entry that had a chance to be selected and this was my best hope.

The waiting began...

In December of 2011 Lisa Landry contacted me and asked if I was committed to riding the rally on the 250. I about jumped out of my shoes ... heck yes, I'm in and I was much more confident in being able to complete the rally on the 250 than the Norge. I've got about 18 months to get ready so I'd better start now.

Lisa strongly had encouraged me to gain some rally experience. I immediately set about attempting to find multi-day rallies that I could participate in to gain some rally experience. I hit my first snag. The majority of multi-day rallies were east coast rallies and Texas was as far west as most multi-day rallies came. Even 8 and 24 hour rallies were a good day's ride to the start. Finding a rally to get experience in and balancing that against my work schedule would prove to be it's own challenge. That's when I stumbled across a brand new rally "The Big Money Rally." Ok it wasn't a rally in the traditional sense but, all the traditional rally elements were available. It wasn't ideal but it allowed me to schedule around work and I could start from home and begin to get some experience, it was at the very least an opportunity (or excuse) to spend time on the motorcycle which was critical.

I continued to search for traditional rallies I could participate in and found the Low-Cal 250 and DKC 8 hour rallies. I also attempted schedule in the CAL24, Park-n-Ride, and No-Polio rallies but my work schedule didn't allow my participation in them. The '12 and '13 The Big Money Rally's were to be my only real opportunities to get multi-day rally experience and would be the proving grounds for how I would approach the '13 IBR.

I made an early decision to ride a mostly stock configured bike. What does "mostly stock" mean? It means that if a part was replaced in the normal course maintenance due to wear, that whatever part I would normally replace that part with was acceptable. The key is the part had to require replacement due to wear. Rather than being replaced because I didn't like the performance. The only parts that were not OEM parts were:

Rear Shock
Fork Springs
Brake lines
Front Brake pads
Chain
Rear Sprocket
Tires

The Ninja would have roughly 60,000 miles on at the start. 10,000 since an engine rebuild and chain and sprocket change. I was confident that it was in good shape to complete what I anticipated would be 8 - 12 thousand mile ride. During the course of the engine rebuild (July '12 - Mar '13) I realized that I would need an alternate bike for practice and at times it seemed that the '03 Ninja was not going to ever get completed so I might just need a back up bike as well, but that's another story. I added a stock '02 Ninja 250 to the garage and started routinely riding 1,000 mile weekends. my goal was 10,000 practice miles.

By this time we had been informed of the '13 IBR check points and were aware that the second check point approximated a Coast to Coast in under 50 hour ride (50CC) leg. My BMR practice rally miles would include a 50CC. At the completion of the '13 BMR I had put 11,000 miles on the '02 Ninja and 11,000 miles on the '03 Ninja. These miles were critical not just for seat time but also to determine what I needed to bring with me on the bike and how to pack rally supplies for each leg.

By the end of the "13 BMR the end I decided that riding a small bike as lightly as possible would be best for both myself and the bike. Losing 30 pounds of body weight would also help increase my stamina and reduce tire wear hopefully increasing gas milage as well. After listening to a host of IBR veterans at the Denver International meet and other venues I made several determinations about what I would and wouldn't pack for the IBR.

It was critical that two components operated in the best possible condition possible. Myself and the motorcycle. Anything I'd take with me had to be critical to the operation of either or be a rally requirement. I set out to determine what was and wasn't critical for each. The first decision that I made was that any item that was a backup item, could be purchased and set up on the road would be consolidated into a credit card. If I needed to resort to a backup camera, SPOT, GPS, or Motorcycle I'd head to the store and buy one.

For myself the critical items were water, food and gear.

My water system would be a 2 liter Camel-Back, which doubled as food storage pack as well. Over the course of the BMR I found that in a 12 hour ride 2 liters would keep me well hydrated and the Camel-back was easy to fill during gas stops, so even if I needed to increase my water intake it wouldn't be difficult. My primary food would consist of Cliff bars. I like the taste and texture well enough and I could carry a four day supply in the Camel back. I also packed Kind bars for quick and sustainable energy between Cliff Bar meals. An added bonus of the bar diet is that it tends to reduce the requirement for lengthy bio-stops. I was able to pack food and into a 2 foot long, 8 wide package, that seemed reasonable.

My gear was next. The gear I chose would need to be viable over a wide temperature range (40 - 110 F) and cover wet as well as dry day and night conditions. I suspected that I might see temps in the high 30's but I also knew from the BMR that I could ride in the 30's for up to 2 hours without having to stop and figured that if I saw temps in the 30's it would be between 3:30 and 5:30 am. Past sun rise the temperature would also climb quickly. My outer gear came pretty quickly more a result of this is the stuff I normally ride in. It consists of:

Cortech WP Air Boots
Aero-Stich AD1 pants
Olympia ASR Jacket
Shoei X-12 Helmet w/blue tooth setup
A pair of summer gloves and water-proof gloves and a separate liner should cover my intended temperature range.

All that remained was what to wear underneath. Fortunately I spent some time with Mario Winkelman at the IBA International meet. Mario convinced me that one set of LD Comfort tights and a small bottle of baby shampoo, to wash them was all that was necessary. I'd give it try as clothing takes up a lot of room. Mario was right and I tested several methods to wash an dry LD comfort and Dry-max socks on the '13 BMR. All my gear less the spare gloves, I either wore or it was folded flat in a pocket in the otter gear storage. Almost no luggage space would be used for gear, food or water.

The next decision that needed to be made was what items were necessary to keep the motorcycle running. I surveyed the under-seat OEM tool kit and determined with a few additions almost every took necessary to completely dismantle the motorcycle was in that tool kit. I added a couple of additional items an 8, 10, 12, and 14mm socket, a pencil air gage and lastly modified the 24mm spanner to include 5mm marks so I could gage chain sag when I was tired and had lost fine distance judgement. other than upgrading a few tools the kit was complete. Through the BMR I measured my oil loss and determined that i'd need to replace roughly a half liter of oil every 1,000 miles. that would mean carrying two liters of oil on each leg. If things got bad I could always use standard 20W-50 from purchased at a fuel stop. What other things might sink the rally for me? A broken chain. So I included a chain tool kit several rivet style master links and a small section of chain. basically that should get me to a shop where I could buy a new chain. A flat tire. A tire repair kit and air pump were added. Tape, zip ties and a multi-tool rounded out the kit.

As I surveyed what I had I could see that the 3100 cm2 of storage that I had in soft luggage was adequate with room to spare for some personal luxuries. the luxuries included; tooth brush, paste, soap, lotion extra LD Comfort and Dry-Max socks. The rest of my storage space was dedicated to rally supplies. Routing computer, rally flag, attachments, camera, first aid kit, phone and other minor miscellaneous items. I was set I just needed to get to the start and work through the check-points.

At the beginning of the '13 BMR I started experimenting with tires other than the stock Dunlop K630's. I had 50,000 miles on K630's and I was averaging between 4,000 and 6,000 miles on the rear tire and roughly 10,000 on the front. On top of that the K630's performance in wet conditions was not good. In fact they weren't that good in dry conditions. I estimated that if I used K630's on the rally I'd need to change the tires at every check point. That was not an acceptable option. I decided to test a Metzler scooter tire on my 50CC test run and return, which was roughly 6,000 miles. At the completion of that ride, which would approximate rally conditions the tires had 50% of the tread remaining. I purchased two additional sets of the Metzler's and a spare set of wheels to mount them on. My plan was to change them at the second check point. Additional checkpoint maintenance would include an oil and filter, spark plug and chain change if required.

To ensure my maintenance plan would work I needed to trailer the bike to the start. That would ensure that it was ready for the first two legs. I would also need to have the spare wheels and other maintenance items staged at the second check-point. My wife and I decided we'd make a vacation out of the entire IBR. I'd get to ride and she'd get to see the country which is something she wanted to do. However the 2nd check point being in Sacramento was a challenge. She wasn't thrilled by the prospect of making the drive across country in two days. That was my thing not necessarily hers. She was certainly willing just not excited about it. Fortunately the LD community is full of great folks and finding people local to help only took a single email. Doug Barrett offered to make the trip to Sacramento with my pit stop items and save the vacation for everyone!

I was as ready as I would get. On the 22nd of June with the bike loaded in the truck we departed for Pittsburg. We would arrive on the 28th, a trip I would make shortly twice in roughly half the time.

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