When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Homeward Bound

Our plans after Detroit have changed dramatically.  We had spent 5 days and a thousand dollars more in Detroit than planned.  Our original plan, when leaving Niagara Falls, had been to head north out of Detroit towards Frankenmuth, a Bavarian themed town, and on north to the "Tunnel of Trees", a famous riding road in Michigan.  Then we would go over the Mackinac Bridge and follow the north shore of Lake Superior back to the USA.  After that we would border hop our way to British Columbia and friends in Kelowna before turning south and home in Washington State.

In late August we had promised my 91 year-old mother that we would be home about the 22nd of September.  We had promised her we would organize her move into a "Independent Living" complex that was being built.  It was about done and she was getting anxious about us.  With the five unplanned days in Detroit we were now about out of time.  Not only that, with the cost of our New York City visit reaching over $1,200 for the six days and the unplanned thousand for a starter, we were running short of money.

So we set the GPS for home and let it pick the fastest route.  Of course this was all freeway but there was no help for that.  We had 6 days until the 22nd and 2,400 miles to go.

The roads were reasonably straight.  After all we are in the "Great Plains" of the USA.  I think the road designers have an easy job.  They just have to decide they want a road from this city to that city and then get out a map and a ruler.  They use the ruler to draw a line between the two cities and then go build the road.

There is some rise and fall to the road but not enough to change the direction to accommodate a lesser grade.

The speed limits on the freeway are now 80 miles an hour.  That's faster than I want to go.  The bike gulps too much gas at those speed as well as the very long stopping distance I have with the trailer pushing me.  I am comfortable at about 70 mph.  That is the speed limit at home in Washington State where most people are doing 72-73.  That is alright, I just stay in the right or center lane and do 70.  In nearby Oregon it is 65 mph, but most people do 70.  In California it is 75 in places and I'll push it up to the low 70's.  But 80 is too fast for me.  And it was too fast for many others.  Although there were drivers doing the 80, many were doing in the mid-70's.

We had just passed through Omaha, Nebraska when I noticed a rhythmic vibration in the bike.  I knew we had a tire problem.  I knew the rear tire was very low on tread so I slowed down and pulled off at the next exit.  

We put the bike on the center stand and rotated the tire and found this  The tire still held air and a quick peruse of the GPS showed there was a motorcycle shop about 3 miles away.  We rode verrrry slowly to it and asked it they had a tire.  They said no, but there was a shop about 100 yards away.  He called and they had a used tire to fit.  We rode over there and they had two used tires to fit and he had found a new tire also.  A Dunlop Elite III Multi-tread.  That is exactly what I have on the bike.  I said "I'll take it" and had it installed.


This is a small independent shop named Gretna Cycles and does mainly dirt bike work.  In fact the owner races dirt bikes and had been to the races near our home.  I know we pushed our luck with this tire and got even luckier when a nearby shop had a new one for us.  So another $300+ dollars and we are on our way again.

That afternoon we started having problems with the starter, again.  Same old thing, it doesn't want to turn over or groans.  We are running long days and don't have time to investigate the problem.  The next day it quits starting and we are left with pushing it to start.  When we start it in the morning we don't shut it down until we are in camp at night.  Getting gas or food we just let it run.  It is acting the same as before at its worst.

As we get across Wyoming we are starting to get some contour and interest in the road.  We have had a substantial headwind all across the plains.  It has been terrible for our gasoline mileage.  We drop out of the Rocky Mountains and into Utah and turn north on I-84.  Again the road is flat and straight.  But now we have no headwind, in fact, no wind at all and we make 660 miles this day.  This has been a boring 5 days but now we are back in Oregon and have some trees and more mountains.  We camp for the last night in a familiar place.  We push start it one last time and head for home on the 21st of September.  We arrive about noon and pull into the garage.



We have a starting mileage of 69076 and an ending one of 93393 for a total of 24,317 miles by the odometer of the bike.  This is less than 1% difference from the GPS.


The GPs shows 24,457 total miles.  And there were a couple of runs to the grocery store from camp or such that are not included.  I tried to use it every time the bike moved but forgot a few times for very short runs.  I feel safe calling it a 24,500 mile trip in seven and a half months (actually 220 days).  That is an average of 111 miles per day.  And there were times we did not move the bike for days, like when we were in NYC for a week or Washington DC for two weeks.

Also shown on the GPS is a maximum speed of 88 mph.  I will go that fast if needed to pass someone in a safe timeframe, but don't run that fast as a norm.  Our moving average was 44 mph and overall average of 22 mph.  Other than the week spent in/near the Great Smokey Mountains we almost always had the trailer attached for these miles.

I kept all my gas receipts and wrote the mileage on each of them with the idea of calculating the average when we got home.  But that is not going to happen.  I have a huge pile of receipts and am not that interested in the actual average.  I estimate we were in the high 20's to low 30's depending on the wind, road and speed.

For those interested I did weigh the rig on a truck scales that was closed but keeps the scales live.  There is a reader board where the driver can see it.  It is in 50 lb. increments.  The total weight was an even 2000 lbs.  That is the bike, trailer, the two of us, all our clothing and our camping gear.  The trailer weighed 700 lbs alone.  We had 400 lbs on the front tire and 1050 lbs on the rear tire.  Our tongue weight varied a lot depending on how much soda, water, beer and ice we had in the cooler, but it ranged from 35-60 lbs.  We had no problem handling that hitch weight.  We only had a problem with the rear tire overheating once at 70 mph on a hot day.  Getting off the freeway and slowing down took care of that.  My tire pressure monitor (SmartTire, no longer available) gives temperature as well as pressure.  At 185 degrees F it flashes a yellow light.

We had a good time and enjoyed ourselves immensely, but it is nice to be home too. Now we will rest up during the winter season.  We will take small rides of which the next scheduled one is the Polar Bear Run on January 1, 2015.  That will be posted next year.

Are you curious about the starter?  I got out my shop manual, took the bike apart and checked each part of the starting system.  It seems that the sticking starter switch in the handlebar module was causing the two starter solenoids to stick closed activating the starter all the time.  Even when going down the highway.  I had noticed some time ago that I had to lift the switch back out into the open position because when the starter switch is in it shuts the headlights off.  To turn them on I had to lift the switch.  When the mechanic replaced the burnt out starter he didn't replace the solenoids and switch.  Two days after Detroit the solenoids gave out completely making the bike impossible to start with the new starter.  At least they didn't burn up the new starter.  I bought new solenoids and an entire new handlebar module.  Mother Honda does not sell just the switch separately, just as a complete module.  (That is true for either module.)  After putting the bike back together again it starts just fine every time.

Thank you for coming along on our trip, see you next year.

Ride safe.

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