Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Road Trip Planning

Updated 10-4-15

I'm working on the itinerary for my October road trip and am at the point I can share most of the details. Getting a decent road trip in during October is a good idea because it always seems that after Halloween it's all downhill into the Holidays with so much going on. Then it seems difficult to get back out of the state until like May again (usually headed for the Smoky Mountains).

Anyway, the Barber Vintage Festival is in early October and is a great kick off for a road trip. The Fest starts next Friday (October 9) and runs through Sunday (October 11) in Leeds, Alabama, just to the east of Birmingham. I plan on attending Friday and Saturday.


On Friday, I'm planning on visiting the world-famous Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum first thing in the morning. Barber has so many vintage motorcycles that they can't display them all; rather, they rotate motorcycles, making every visit a little different. Here's a SLIDESHOW LINK to my last trip up to the museum. After the museum visit, I'm sure all the swap meet booths will be up and running, so I'll run through those. Then it'll be vintage motorcycle racing and whatever else they have going on until the end of the day Saturday.



After Barber, I'm planning to head west to pick up some rides I haven't been on in a long time, and some sites I want to see, and ride some more in Arizona and New Mexico. In fact, I was just out that way in July, but had a family emergency that required me to beline from Colorado Springs over to Dallas. From there I needed to head back home. As a result, I missed out on all my plans and sites in Arizona and New Mexico. Similarly, when I was coming back from my Alaska trip in 2011, I was planning to ride in some of the National Parks in Arizona and New Mexico. I made it to Utah (Zion and Arches), but my legs gave out and I had to head back to Florida. So maybe this time, I'll get the planned rides/sites in.

Here's a look at the tentative loop covering about 4,600 miles.


I've updated the map to add a desert loop in New Mexico that I read about online that looks interesting. It runs Roswell, northwest to Willard (just south of Albuquerque). It looks to be placed at a point where I'll definitely be looking for a break from the highways. Here's a look at the revised loop covering over 4,800 miles. This is based on my Tyre Travel Mapping Application that works in conjunction with my TomTom Rider SatNav.



From Barber (Birmingham, AL) I'll ride about 525 miles to the Ozark Mountains in northwest Arkansas, just before Fort Pierce, and spend the night somewhere in that vicinity. Then, the next morning I'll head into the Ozarks and ride the Ozark Pig Trail (aka, the Arkansas Dragon) and a few other road I haven't been on in a long time. I've got some nice routes mapped out on Tyre and should be emerging from the Ozarks near Clarksville, AR before heading on west.


Once done in the Ozarks, I'll track through Oklahoma and over to Albuquerque, New Mexico [after a brief jaunt down to Roswell] where I'll find something to do for a couple days.

Then on to Arizona. When I get to Arizona, I'm going to try and pack in:

  • Grand Canyon, Lower Rim, Only
  • Meteor Crater (near Winslow, AZ)
  • Petrified Forrest National Park
  • Apache Trail + Superstition Mountains (near Phoenix, AZ)





From there, I'll head back through New Mexico and down to San Antonio for a couple days.

A little to the Northwest of San Antonio proper is a famous riding loop called The Three Sisters (aka Twisted Sisters). It's 131 miles of mountains, canyons and lots of curves. I have only been on this road once and then only part of it, probably only 40-50 miles at that. It was some of the pavement work on an adventure challenge that ran from Junction, Texas to Del Rio, Texas and back. I remember it being very curvaceous and am looking forward to riding the entire deal.



I'm going to need something else to do after the Sisters, so maybe I'll ride over to the Alamo and check in the basement for Pee Wee's bicycle.

After San Antonio, me and the BigV will head on back to Florida. Egad! I'm dreading I-10 from San Antonio back to Florida, particularly through Mobile where it gets all bunged up by that stupid tunnel.

If I don't get distracted, I think we'll rack up over 5,000 miles on this trip. Amazing!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Seat Lock Issue

All this talk about seats got me thinking about the one unresolved warranty issue that I have with my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. The seat doesn't stay locked down; hasn't since the day I got it on April 1 (almost six months ago) and hasn't magically corrected itself after 13,000 miles ... not that I should expect it would.


I wouldn't call this a big issue. It's not as though the seat is going to blow off and it doesn't even appear to be unlatched when it, in fact, is. Honestly, it has not slowed me down once. It's just that every so often out on my travels, I find that my seat has come unlatched. Unlatching seems to be very random and here's the kicker ... I can not replicate it. I've shook it violently, bounced up and down on it, pressured it forward and backward, nothing; I have never once been able to make the dang seat come loose or unlatched on purpose!

Am I the only one with this issue? Apparently not. I was surfing a Versys 1000 thread on Adventure Rider and some guy from South Carolina reported the same issue. Then, others responded that the issue was addressed in an MCNews Article. I have yet to find that article or have anyone point me to it. Okay, so that's only two known guys with the issue, me and this other dude.

So, it's obviously been a long time, but I did report this to my dealer very early on and it was taken up to Kawasaki as a warranty matter. Kawasaki's response? It's adjustable ... adjust it ... lol. Well, it's now been to my dealer twice for "adjustment" and the seat still comes unlatched. I'll discuss this so-called "adjustment" in more detail later.

As mentioned earlier, this issue is so close to being a non-issue that it may not even warrant a post (certainly not one this long; oh, and no pun intended). All I normally do is push it down a little and, click. I even reach around and do it on the fly. Here's my biggest concern that keeps me personally focused on the problem: very simply, someone could pick up my seat and walk off with it. Maybe then sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Hey, it goes for $318 new at Bikebandit! Don't ask me how some scurrilous bastard would ever know the seat is not latched; however, I do furnish plenty of opportunity given how many "el'cheapo" hotels I stay at while traveling. And, in fact, it's been more than a couple times that I forgot to check the security of the seat before crashing for the night, only to find it unlatched as I load up the next morning. Crikey!

Anyway, I think it's safe to say that my dealer isn't going to get this problem remedied, or at least anytime soon. As I prepare for another considerable journey early next month, I'm looking at some of these minor issues that are more on the annoying rather than substantive side (e.g. the Rattly Side Cases) with an eye toward getting them taken care of.

So let's take a look at what we're dealing with ...

Here's a shot of the underside of the seat pan. As you can see, it has eight rubber pads and a couple hooks in mid-length. I do think the pads require some consideration in this matter. The main locking clasp, to which the locking mechanism grabs onto, is toward the rear.


A closer look at the locking clasp. Not much too it. Is this whole issue fixed with a bend of that clasp? Maybe bending it back a little, but bending it a fraction too much and the seat won't be able to be removed. It may get stuck on the locking striker. I'd rather not mess around bending things. Alternatively, shimming the clasp could result in the same disaster so I'm not going to mess around there either.


The locking mechanism is located in the tail area under a panel. The locking cylinder (that to which the key is inserted from under the tail section) connects to the locking mechanism via a simple sheathed cable approximately 10cm in length. The bracket on the seat pan (above) slides into the oval where it is locked in place by the Striker (that is, the latch).


Here's a peek at the locking mechanism, cable and locking cylinder from under the panel.


Key turns locking cylinder, locking cylinder pulls cable, cable pulls striker, striker releases seat. Woo hoo! Pretty simple.

So now the question is, "Where are those adjustment points that Kawasaki believes to be present?" Okay, to be straight, I asked my dealer this question since they adjusted it already. They advised that the point of adjustment was the bolts where the locking mechanism connects to the belly of the panel ... an adjustment procedure that I didn't find in the Service Manual.

Hmmm....not seeing that.



Maybe they meant the locking clasp was adjustable. Nope, that doesn't appear adjustable either.


So, I've found no adjustments on the locking clasp, locking mechanism, locking cylinder or the cable. Let's just conclude that the dealer has maxed the adjustment range. But the seat still comes unlatched, so now what?

Well, my next step was simply to examine the operation of the locking mechanism and then working back to all the individual components and how they operate. Ya know, just sorta looking for something loose or seemingly missing or just plain not right. Remember, this problem occurs totally randomly while the bike is being ridden and, after many attempts, I have never been able to replicate it. So, no matter what, I'm still going to be in "hit-or-miss" mode.

The first thing I noticed, while blindingly obvious, is that there is absolutely no way for the seat to come unlatched when the Striker is positioned forward. In that position, the angled tip of the Striker is situated through the locking clasp bracket preventing the seat from being lifted. The angle is on the top, so that has nada to do with it.

The next thing was to look a little closer at the locking mechanism itself. Not very complicated, but I do have some useful observations.


Above, Striker/Spring is relaxed (locked position). Below, Striker/Spring is being depressed by my finger (unlocked position).


Observations:

  1. The Striker Spring imparts very little tension on the Striker itself. It's a small spring with an infinitesimal spring rate. To put it in perspective, the rate of tension on the spring in your ball point pen is probably five time the spring rate of the Striker Spring.
  2. The Striker itself doesn't fit very well in its slot/slide on the locking mechanism. See second picture up ^ showing the Striker literally at an angle inside the slide. At the tip where it locks, it can move side-to-side.
  3. The point where the cable connects to the Striker is a total phucking engineering disaster. I don't even know where to start. 
  • First, the anchor is not the correct type; rather, its the cylindrical type that you'd have on the end of a brake or clutch cable. The anchor does not fit this type of application. In fact, all it is is a hunk of metal on the other side of a slot in the Striker. (SEE ADDITIONAL INFO AT THE END OF POST)
  • Second, the anchor is a frigging huge hunk of metal for this application. It's more in the way of itself than an effective component of a locking mechanism.
  • Third, and this is a biggie, the anchor ISN'T ANCHORED; it's just sitting there hanging on by a slot in the back of the Striker and it doesn't even move with the Striker. Look at the photo directly above. The anchor/cable doesn't move with the Striker when I push it back; rather, it only pulls back when the locking cylinder is turned. 
  • Fourth, in addition to not being anchored, the cable itself is too long resulting in a ridiculously large gap between the anchor and back of the Striker bar when at rest.

Okay, I think we may have found the problemo or at least part of the problemo.

Basically, I do not believe that there is enough tension on the Striker to keep it from recoiling backward from the effects of rough pavement coupled with the rider imparting downward force on the seat from either rider weight or from the rough roads themselves. Together, I suspect it's only a split second of movement and the locking bracket on the seat is able to pull back through the oval hole in the panel.

Further, I believe that the limited tension, in and of itself, would be substantially (if not entirely) mitigated if the cable anchor was actually anchored to the Striker and the cable itself was the correct length. Had the cable/anchor been anchored to the Striker, the only way for the Striker to move backward (unlocked position) would be if the locking cylinder was turned using the key. The scenario in the previous paragraph shouldn't have an effect. Viola! Oh wait, there's that big gap to deal with. Snap!

Here's a good angle showing the gap. It should be noted that I can't do anything on the other side (back side) of the Striker bracket because the mechanism needs every bit of the travel of the cable to pull the striker back when using the key in the key cylinder.


I don't think we have an impossible situation here. Rather, here are what I think the corrective actions may be to get back on track:

First, the gap between the anchor and the back of the Striker needs to be filled, removing all of that initial play when the cable pulls back on the Striker. I have some hard rubber and vinyl bits (washers and such) that I believe I can use to slide in there and close that gap. Note that doing so will result in a shorter key turn to unlock the seat, but I don't think that should be an issue.

Second, the cable anchor (and newly introduced gap filler) need to be anchored/affixed to the back of the striker like it should have been in the first place. That action is going to take some thought. Could some epoxy glue be the simple answer?

Okay, let's take a crack at this...

Below is my rubber bits drawer. Everyone should have a rubber bits drawer, don't ya think? Of all the litter washers and things in there, I found a vinyl washer that fit the gap perfectly.


I put a slice in the vinyl washer so I could slide it on the cable between the anchor and Striker. The slice isn't so big that it'll slide back off. In hindsight, I may of been able to fit it overall a little better by squaring the sides. The locking mechanism and key cylinder function perfectly.


Now the issue is keeping the whole assembly anchored to the back of the Striker. This may take some trial and error, so I'm starting with the easiest approach .... glue.


Even though I used super glue, the Loctite brand still required 24 hours to fully cure before I reinstalled the locking mechanism and I gave it all that time. After installation, I found that the level of tension on the Striker was much higher, as in perhaps four or five times. If the glue actually holds, I think I've got this problem nailed because I can't see any bump moving that Striker under the new tension level.

However, we need to hit the road and make sure my remedy works. I don't have any major plans until next week and then I'm off on a 4,600 mile trip. It may take awhile to report back on this, but the seat is going to have a lot of opportunity over the next several weeks to come unlatched. Hope it doesn't.

UPDATE:

The seat stayed locked down the entire 5,300 miles of my recent trip out west. On that trip I had 22 miles of washboard surfaced dirt roads that destroyed my GPS mount, but the seat stayed locked. I think I have it fixed.


_____________________________________
Additional Info:

I mentioned in the thread above that the type of anchor on the cable is incorrect. I'm subsequently advised by an expert that, "yes it is incorrect," and that type of anchor is called a barrel-nipple anchor. The correct style of anchor for this application that requires alignment with a hole, grove or fork looks like the one in the photo below. It is called a pear-nipple anchor. There you go!


The expert is my son who operates a mobile bicycle repair business when not working his regular job as a plumber. He sees his fair share of cable repair and replacement.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Seat Options

As a general rule, I'd guess that aftermarket seat options are second in popularity among bikers only to aftermarket screen options. So far, we've had a considerable number of aftermarket screen options for the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. However, the seat options have been slow in coming.



I noticed that Corbin was quick to come out with a seat for Yamaha's new FJ-09 and expected them to linger in the wings for another provider like Sargent to take the plunge on the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. However, in just a few short months since I saw the FJ seat on Corbin's site, reports are popping up all over about their new V1000 seat.

Now that Corbin is out with a seat, I thought I'd start a log on seat options among the remaining usual suspects.

Corbin ($452), website

I can't say that I'm digging the looks of the Corbin. That's not a bike seat for a sporty motorcycle. That's a seat for a stumpy cruiser or maybe it's better suited to throw over the back of a Shetland pony. Although they missed the mark on this one, Corbin is more than capable of designing sporty seats. Check out their 2015 Kawasaki Z1000 seat. Why couldn't they have lines like that on the Versys 1000 design?


More important, Corbin seems to have eliminated a lot of room in the butt area to move around on. It's important to be able to move around to change pressure points. Seems to me, you sit in a big hole on the Corbin and have no place to go all day.

Admittedly, Corbin isn't the top of my hit list when it comes to aftermarket seats. I've had a few of them and I never found myself falling all over myself like some people do about their corbins. In fact, one of the worst aftermarket seats that I purchased was a Corbin for my 2009 Harley XR1200; although, I have to admit that I could never find a seat that worked on that bike. However, unlike Corbin, at least the other full seat makers take returns when their seats don't work to the liking of the customer. Bottom line, I don't think this new Corbin is for me.

Seat Concepts (your pan, $169 +$20 installed), website

Seat concepts is not a complete seat. They ship a foam and a cover for you to install or you can send your pan and they'll install it for an additional $20. I really dig the lines on this Seat Concepts Seat much better than the Corbin. They only have the seat pictured on their site. I'd like to see one installed on the V1000.


Well, I sent an email requesting photos to Seat Concepts. Ask and ye shall receive, photos of their seat installed on a V1000.



It really does a good job toning down the Lake Placid-like ski slop/jump in the front while, apparently, not reducing (or increasing) the seat height.

Yeah, I'm still kind of digging the Seat Concepts  package. Having experience changing out foams and seat covers, this could be a real economical option for folks looking for some modification to the seat, particularly up in that forward dip.


Baldwin (your pan, $425 vinyl-$750 leather), website

Dang, that's some expensive kit when you go the leather route! Plus, you have to surrender your stock seat to them, like a core exchange program. For those dollars, it would be nice to keep the stocker to re-install upon resale and separately sell the Baldwin (i.e. get some of that $$ back).



Kawasaki (Pound Sterling 411.95 = $627.45 at today's exchange rate), website

Last, but not least, is an option offered by Kawasaki itself. However, this option does not show on the U.S. accessories offerings. The link is to Kawasaki's EU Website. It is a gel seat and I suppose if anyone really wanted one they could find a way to have one shipped from the UK. It's not a bad looking seat, but I think it's the same design as the stocker, but with a gel insert.


Other usual Suspects with no current offering:

Sargent Seats
Saddleman
Russell Day-Long (your pan)
Mustang

I contacted Sargent a couple months ago and offered my Versys for their design. They're based in Jacksonville. A few years back, they used my Yamaha Super Tenere for the design and construction of that seat. They advised that they didn't have plans for a Versys 1000 seat at that time. We'll see if that stands now that Corbin is out. Certainly my offer to use my bike stands.

Update:

I made a run at the Seat Options Foam and Cover. CLICK HERE for a link to my report.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rattly Side Case Fix

The 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT is factory equipped with 28 liter, side-opening and removable side cases. Nice cases, but I've found that they rattle incessantly! Normally I've got my ear plugs in, but recently I was riding brick-paved River Road in Savannah without my ear plugs and the rattle was extremely annoying. People at all the outdoor cafes were looking like "What the hell is that noise?" There have been other instances as well. Very embarrassing.


Does the case look a little different? See my Blog Post, Side Case Touchup.

Anyway, today I got focused on isolating the rattle.

The cases have three points of attachment on the motorcycle. The locking mechanism is in the upper forward point of attachment. The only buffered point of attachment is the lower forward point. That is, the two upper points of attachment are plastic-on-plastic.


The corresponding attachment points/post on the case (using the left case) are reflected in the following photo.


With the cases installed on the motorcycle, I carefully wiggled them to see if I could isolate from where the rattle was being emitted. It was clearly the rear point of attachment. The lower forward point was very secure and is buffered by the rubber attachment block. The upper forward point of attachment, even though not buffered, was also quite secure once locked. The only movement was from the rear post as shown in the photo below.


After trial and error with a number of different materials and thicknesses, I found that only a very thin buffering medium was going to fit between the rear post and its point of attachment on the motorcycle. I ultimately was able to fit the soft side of some self-adhesive Velcro strip.


I first put some of the strip on the very front of the post (over the orange triangle). That helped a great deal, but did not completely cure the rattle.


I then put another strip of the Velcro on the side of the post (facing motorcycle). Bingo! Now the cases go on securely and do not rattle at all. Case solved! (no pun intended)


Be advised that with those small strips of thin Velco the cases are now very tightly installed. Normally, installation and removal of the cases requires a little bump from the heal of your palm. It now requires a good deal of bump. I would caution (both without or with this mod) that the bump should be applied only to the back side of the case; not the cover the case. Given how tight the case is now installed, I'm concerned that a good bump on the cover could end up damaging the case hinges or other parts. So USE CAUTION installing and removing the cases (even if you don't do this mod)!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall Oil Switch-er-oo

As we close off the month of September, it's perfect time to change the oil in my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. It just so happens that I have a scheduled oil change at the moment, but I'd need to change the oil anyway as the season is changing.

In keeping with the oil recommendations of the manufacturer (and the manufacturers of most all of my past motorcycles) the viscosity should be measured against temperatures and atmospheric conditions. In Florida, our Summers are hot enough to call for higher viscosity oils, but our Falls and Winters are quite moderate. This prompts a change to lower viscosity oils or, a "switch-er-oo."  In addition to my Florida issues, rolling through triple digit temperatures in the mid-west this Summer made me glad I was running higher viscosity oil in my new "favorite" motorcycle.


So, as it goes, every September I change my oil from the Summer viscosity of 20W-50 back down to 10W-40 for the moderate temperatures. In April, I'll change back to 20W-50.

Another change that I've just made after 13,000+ miles is changing from a mineral oil to a full synthetic. Since purchasing the motorcycle on March 31, 2015, I've been running Valvoline 20W-50 4-stoke motorcycle oil.


For my recent Fall switcheroo, I picked up some 10W-40 Castrol Power Racing 4T fully synthetic. Both my mineral and synthetic oils are good brand names and meet the type requirements in the manufacturer's specs. As a firm believer in the adage "Oil-is-Oil" that's really all that's important. A good sale on oil isn't important but it's nice. My receipts indicate that I paid $7.99/qt for the mineral and $9.99 for the synthetic.


Generally, given the higher frequency that we need to change oil in Florida due to conditions, such as dusty air, synthetics generally aren't that practical. Area dealers recommend oil change intervals at half of the manufacturer recommendation ... mineral or synthetic. Even though synthetics typically hold their properties longer than mineral oils, we still need higher frequency changes when the oils get packed full of foul crap that's in our air.

So, why am I changing to a synthetic you ask? Well, the answer is nothing more than experimentation on my part. I really just want to see if synthetic oil produces any difference in engine performance and smoothness. In my experience, the 2015 Versys 1000 LT is already extremely smooth, both running and shifting, but there are a lot of reports that indicate the bike may run better on a synthetic. We will see...


UPDATE:

I just completed a 5,348 mile road trip with the synthetic 10w-40. I can't say that I noticed any differences, whether in shifting, engine temps, vibration, high-rpm, low-rpm. Nothing, no noticeable differences. I'll be going back to mineral.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Minor Luggage Casualty

In many photos I've posted on this blog you may note that I use a soft tail roll bag. I've chosen a roll bag over a top box because it seems much more simple to use. Normally, the roll bag contains everything that I need to take into a hotel room. That way I can leave the side cases securely on the motorcycle. Much more convenient.


This particular roll bag is a MotoCentric MotoTrek Roll Bag (Part No. 8601-102). The bag is made of vinyl and is 33 liters in size. It also has integrated bungee cords that make it convenient to strap/unstrap it to the tail rack. It's a great bag and I've had it for at least six or seven years. It sure has taken a beating; in fact, all the zipper tabs have long broken off, but no rips thankfully.

The thing about this bag is that it isn't waterproof, though. However, it did come with a waterproof cover. Kind of a pain, but I've learned to live with it.


Anyway, upon return from my Keys/Everglades trip I noticed that the cover had taken a turn for the worst, ripped at its rotting seams and was flapping in the wind. Bummer. You really get attached to these things that you've used for a long time. I actually used this very bag on a 12,500 mile trip up to Prudoe Bay, Alaska and back.


I thought it was going to be a lost cause and I'd have to replace the tail bag altogether ... and before the Barber trip coming up in two short weeks. Then good 'ole Motorcycle Superstore came through, selling Replacement Covers for only $4.99 (plus $6.99 shipping).


Woo hoo! My Motocentric Roll bag has new life. The moral of this story is don't give up too quick on these things.

_______________________

Awe Snap! The new roll bag cover blew off somewhere on my way out of Florida on my recent Fall Road Trip. Honestly!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fairing Rivets

Am I the only one who hates these things!? I've had to remove six of them three times now in connection with a lighting project and all I can say is first, they're a pain in the ass and second, I broke one today.


Here's how they work. Sometimes they actually do, sometimes they don't. Seems like things go astray during the removal process when they don't pop right out and you need to pry at them with a screw driver.


Oh, did I mention that they cost $1.25 each?

Nothing should be held together with fasteners of this design.

Keys-Everglade Loop Report

The Southernmost Point in the United States can be found in Key West marked by this Buoy. This is one of the points necessary to be achieved in doing the Four-Corners (of the U.S.) Tour. Perhaps someday, I'll give the Four-Corners Tour a whack.


Normally, I defer my annual South Florida Keys-Everglades Trip to the last week of the year. It's generally a good slow week for tourist levels and, more important, the bugs aren't as bad in the Glades that time of year! This year though, I thought I'd accelerate the trip to get a nice ride in before the Barber Trip in October. It worked out pretty well from a tourist perspective, as there really were as few tourists this time of year as the last week of the year. The bugs in the Everglades was an entirely different story!

Overall, the loop clocked three-days and about 950 miles. As reflected in the prior post, the loop map looks like this:


The first day of the trip was pretty much a beeline down to Florida City which is just a few miles from the Overland Bridge to the Keys. A fairly uneventful 5 hour, 270 mile ride, that I usually find ways to turn into a full day. One place I check on is an old dilapidated alligator farm attraction that I found many years ago doing minimalist travel on a 250 Super Sherpa. Still standing, although barely.


Here's a shot from back in 2009 on my Super Sherpa.


I booked a room at the Quality Inn in Florida City for $54. It's an okay place with free breakfast in the morning. When I got there I found that I booked the wrong date. I did the Florida City booking online the same time as I booked my room in Birmingham for the Barber Fest ... and booked it the same night as the first night of my Birmingham trip in Octobers. Snap! Fortunately, the hotel was kind enough to give me the special rate. I think they remember me I've been there so many times.


From Florida City, I got up and headed down to the Keys and all the way out to Key West. Not that I needed GPS help. There's only one road U.S. 1.


This guy is located in Islamadora, just past Key Largo. Damn lobsters grow big down there!


Once past Marathon, you'll need to cross the Seven Mile Bridge to get to the lower keys, including Key West. Here's a shot from the lower keys...


 ... here's one from the middle keys.


While in Key West I only dismount the bike to walk a little of famous Duval Street. That's were most of the interesting stuff is going on.






The Famous Sloppy Joe's!


There is another street, Whitehead Street, with some visual attractions also. This is Ernest Hemingway's home. That stone wall is a recent addition. I have photos of the house when the wall wasn't there.


From Key West, I rolled back to Key Largo to spend the night. Interesting but on my way into Key Largo I found that I'd ridden 260.1 miles on one tank of gas, exceeding my record of 247, and only put 5.137 gallons in. My previous fill up was on the mainland, just as I came off US27 on the road to Homestead/Fla City (Krome Road), but that road was slow going from construction, probably averaged only 40 mph. Then once on the Keys, U.S. 1 is mostly 45 mph with a few 55 mph here and there. Anyway, that resulted in 50.63 mpg, which still didn't match my best mpg of 51.6 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Onward...

I left Key Largo the next morning, crossed the Overland Highway Bridge back to the mainland and headed to Flamingo in the Everglades (not to be confused with the other Florida city named Flamingo). Without an airboat, there are a limited number of ways to get into the Everglades. This is the east side entrance using State Highway 9336; it's a toll road from October to April. It's one road down to the Flamingo Marina and one road out; however, there are a number of side roads to go exploring on. Many are dirt and you don't want to mess with them unless you're on a good dual sport.





You're equally limited to access to the Everglades on the west side, but you have a lot of good riding in the Big Cypress Preserve (good solid dirt/gravel roads) and Fakahatchee State Preserve (lots of lime dust) on the northern border of the Park. In addition, if you really want to test yourself and your bike, you can "attempt" Loop Road that bears off the Tamiami Tail (SR41) and reconnects 24 miles later. That's some gnarly riding. I took a pass given how wet it's been but it's worth a shot during the dryer months. Skipping the Loop, I rolled through Everglades City over to Chokoloskee Island shown in the inlay.


Overall, there's a lot of the same thing to see in the Everglades. It's a nice ride, but keep moving ... the bugs are terrible this time of year. In fact, this is the first time I've ever ventured into the Glades this early. Normally, I visit last week of the year. Here are some photos.







You don't need to look too far to find one of these.




There are countless airboat touring places!


Damn Vultures!

Hope you enjoyed.

Until my next adventure.