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The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:12 pm
by HomeMadeSin
Ever have one of those vacations that you need an immediate follow-up vacation to recover from? Well, this was one of those trips. But in addition to wanting…wait…needing a grace period before slipping back into work zombie form, I had to take a sabbatical. Put this trip on the backburner and let is stew for a bit before putting font on screen. So with that teaser, I also offer my apologies for the delay in writing up this trip report.

Now please do not read into the intro anything deeper than what is offered. It was indeed an epic adventure…on so many levels as I will do my best to portray. And the storyline plots and twists were as good as or better than the typical made-for-repulsive reality television. Hmmm, The Real Goldwings of Inuvik? Even a bit of Queer Ride for the Straight Guys (trust me…wait for it).

Perhaps the extended cool-off period before writing this could be explained as a wait-and-see effort to determine if the (Candid) cameras were secretly filming us and we didn’t notice (yes, I recall the original show with Allen Funt). It was beautifully surreal at times; frustratingly Groundhog Day-ish at others. But in the end, I wouldn’t trade it for anything…just don’t ask me to do it again or I might throw a sucker punch. It’d be reflexive of course.

Leading up to this monster trip, I initiated a prelude report here: https://www.ngwclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=65385

When I last left off, I was struggling to get the final pieces of the bike together. The ignition was giving me fits, or so I thought. Turns out a short in the wiring (needle in the haystack) was the cause. More on that later. But I went ahead and installed the Dyna kit and removed the C-5 ignition. Plus the HD-style LED headlight assembly was giving me some fits, so I left the popsicle turn signals on in case I had to revert to them.

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31 May 2018. All the last minute work squashes any bravado plans to ride from Savannah to Denver. The bike is simply not ready. Nor do I care for solo riding these days with the cell phone zombies anyway. So I’m forced to use a shipping service. I called several, upscale and reputable services but they aren’t set-up for last minute schedules much less a rough-but-ready 1979 GL1000. After all, this ain’t no chromed-out piercing Harley. So, I decide to give uShip a shot (apologies to any professional drivers out there).

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Since I have some logistical hurdles to get outsiders to my house, I chose to meet the uShip driver outside the development. Ford F-150. He’s pulling a boat as well (for another uShip customer). It would be entertaining to see him take a sharp corner with the tailgate down pulling a boat, but I have to prep my own gear for the trip. Please make nice-nice with the wife who completely doesn’t get what we do.

For this trip, I re-used a faux Givi top case from my Ducati and that shipped with the bike. For other storage, I opt for soft side dry bags from Ortlieb, which worked quite well.

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Only one other dry bag tucked behind me and I should be good to go. I think I’m lean and mean… :8)

Truthfully, I’m a little nervous that the bike may not make it to Denver. The whole thing seemed sketchy at best. I was supposed to get regular updates on the shipment, but nary a word since it left. Scheduled to arrive on 3 June…not a lot of room for error with almost 2,000 miles to cover.

Fortunately, my fears are put to rest as the F-150 arrives at my company’s place on a bright and sunny Sunday. The bike looks EXACLTY like it left. Now it’s really crunch time. T minus 3 days to the planned departure for Saskatoon to meet the other riders. I still haven’t found what’s causing the ignition issues, nor do my lights work well. Signal light? Pfft. And a trip to the far reaches of northern Canada on the horizon…easy peasy.

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I could go into detail here, but suffice it to say that each evening after work I was going back and forth to car parts stores, motorcycle stores, home improvement stores – you name it. I just could not figure out why it ran great for a while then quit. I didn’t take many pictures and was thinking I might have to buy a local Gen1 Goldwing on the spot to make the trip. It was getting close…but then I (thought) I found the gremlin- bad ground in the headlamp assembly. Timing done. New battery. Plug wires replaced (wrong end on one, but I get it to work). New bulbs. New fuses. She’s running and sounds AWESOME with the short pipes.

While I’ve been wrestling demons of my own making, Ben has been tweaking his ride to the nth degree. The man is focused. Hard working. And meticulous. He is the chosen one….He just didn’t have enough time to get the colors in harmony. But the final product is 1 million times cleaner than what he started with (a complete, frame off rebuild and piece together of more than one craigslist bargain). Also, his girlfriend must be a Saint. Job [sic] is no match.

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6 June 2018. Everyone is aware of my last minute (literal) prep. And although a last minute crush, Ben only got his ride dialed in a few days before as well. Bets are going around at work about how far the bikes will make it. I’m not even sure which side I would place my money….but Ben and I are packed and leaving for the far, far North. I’m hoping that I don’t obliterate the excitement with a mechanical failure along the way…the odds are NOT in my favor. To add to the pressure, we’ve only given ourselves until the evening of the following day to arrive in Saskatoon – roughly 1200 miles away. 20 hours riding - 6 hours the afternoon/evening and 14 the next day. On 40+ year old motorcycles.

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Things are running good. Smooth ride along I-25 north. Once we clear out of the congested north Denver area, traffic is light and flowing well. But it doesn’t take long for the first issue to show itself…just as we pull off to fill up near Longmont, my bike dies on the off ramp. I coast into the gas station. Fuse (ignition) blown. Certainly a fluke, right? Fill up, replace and get back on I-25. Next stop is just shy of Cheyenne, WY. Same thing happens again – she dies on the off ramp so I coast into the gas station. Same fuse blown. As it turns out, every time I hit the brake, POOF! So I buy every fuse the gas station has and we decide to muster on and rely on engine braking as much as possible. For those that aren’t familiar with I-25 North of Denver, this isn’t really a big deal. But I can’t use turn signals either so hand signals the whole way.

***Warning. Rant ahead. Proceed at your own risk.***

Barney Fife. For all the LEO’s that read this, I plead that you forgive my animosity. I have a long history with traffic citations. I’ve had coworkers make laminated cartoons of my misadventures with ticket-givers. But yet in 33 years of driving I’ve NEVER been the driver in an automobile (or motorcycle) accident with another vehicle. EVER. other than a 20 mph slide on a sheet of ice involving only me, my truck and the opposing curb – I’ve not had any road accident!!! And I’ve racked up well over a half-million miles on my own. So in my opinion 99% of the speeding tickets given are pure evil. Not safety related.

Well just as we are pulling into Gillette, WY after a long ride after a day at work - an opposing 5-0 flips his lights on and swings a 180 to come our way. We pull over well before he gets there and take our helmets off. Courtesy always. Man, just moments away from a warm room and a hot meal after 6+ hours of riding and a wicked storm daring us to continue any further. Do I look amused?

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Really?!? We have to dodge every other idiot on the road in cages doing their hair or checking their stocks or social media content that can’t wait for a safer place. It a mostly empty highway, clear weather, no storm or moisture (yet). Late 70’s vintage motorcycles riding in the right lane doing 79mph (in a 70 zone). BOGO ticket bonanza for the diminutive and nervous cop. He didn’t want us near the bikes, which is why we are standing clearly away from them per his request. Honestly, taking my speeding ticket history aside, I truly didn’t feel this cop should be patrolling the streets if he is that nervous around two tired, vintage motorcycle enthusiasts. We don’t have Hell’s Angels insignia on. We aren’t even riding loud, blinged-out Harley’s. And I don’t think we look all that threatening…

The only priceless moment about that is about 5 miles prior we were really stretching the bikes out. Thank God he didn’t pass us then. We would’ve deserved it then. And I would’ve owned it. A late meal and a quick crash at the nearest hotel in Gillette went over very well. Yes, some issues existing on my bike but she was running. Just. Don’t. Press. The. Brake. Pedal. Day 1 in the books.

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7 June 2018. The 1st morning on the road. the bikes looked good then. But we haven’t hit dirt yet.

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A bit chilly to start off, but fortunately we were blessed with an absolutely beautiful day to ride that Thursday. And there are few better places in the West to ride than through Wyoming and Montana. Big Sky Country is right!

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Somewhere in our picturesque pathway North, Ben decides to take his steed for a little rip. I’m cruising at a pretty good clip myself and am enjoying the peaceful and serene riding. Absolutely majestic. But as Ben passes me, his bike decides to make things a bit dramatic. I’m watching in horror as the wobbles increase steadily to something a frog’s hair shy of a full-on tank slapper. Déjà vu all over again. In 2009, about an hour into that trip to Alaska, one of our riders high-sides in front of a semi on a two lane blacktop (secondary) road outside Saskatoon. That rider went to the hospital as his trip ends and ours is just beginning. That trip report is over here: https://advrider.com/f/threads/santa-and-his-heartless-elves-do-alaska.481661/

Can this be happening again?!? Really?!? If only he could hear me continuously say to myself “Oh God no! Ben, no Ben, no!” There’s several expletives in my chant – omitted to retain this NC-17 rating. I start to slow down to prepare for picking up the pieces. But the wipeout never materializes. I truly thought although I had been taking pictures while cruising, I really shouldn’t capture this…right?!? And I didn’t. Man-code and all...

I have another flashback to our 2015 ride to the Canadian Maritimes (Bottom Gear 4848 write-up here: https://ngwclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=58586. Hyde was pulling a trailer on his Goldwing and it tried valiantly to toss the ride from the machine within minutes of kicking off our trip. Something about the early part of our trips is perpetually jinxed. But Hyde, being 360 lbs of manliness refused the trailer’s most aggressive moves. But Ben is not 360 lbs. Less than half that in fact. However, he performed an absolute textbook version of riding it out and stuck with it. When in doubt, ride it out. Truly amazing. He was channeling his inner Cap’n Sully. Or maybe Charlie Daniels… Here’s how far he was ahead of me when he finally banished the demons back to Hell:

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I hate to say it, but it would’ve been a beautiful place for a yard sale. But fortunately, he wasn’t selling. Yet unbeknownst to him, his bike was brewing up another problem. You see, all along we’ve been comparing mileage between the bikes. He’s a fit young man with absolute minimal baggage. One bag. I’m rapidly approaching the half-ton in age with the typical extra bulk and plenty of baggage (3). I feel like Imelda Marcos by comparison. Never mind the bright yellow side bags pretending to be sails. But I am getting slightly better mileage. A minor victory for the old fart!!! It certainly couldn’t be the symphonic Webers?!?

Vintage problems arise. At the last town prior to the Canadian border, we finally determine that his fuel pump is secretly jettisoning fuel and increasingly sacrificing the go-go juice to his right boot. Good thing Johnny Blaze didn’t make an appearance…

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Fortunately, my onboard mechanical fuel pump is just a dummy. A backup, ready for just this unlikely event. I’m using my trusty K&N electric fuel pump so the onboard unit is largely ornamental. So a quick swap of the top end (my diaphragm didn’t look at all worthy, but hey times were tough). And he’s off and running again toward Canuckistan.

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I do want to also communicate a significant near-miss incident that occurred along the way. Somewhere along that beautiful route, an absent-minded driver in a Ram truck pulling a decently sized enclosed trailer took a bee-line for the ditch. Our ditch. See, we were on a long left-handed sweeping two lane road and he was coming our way. I think he was giving his phone more attention than the road or two motorcyclists. If we were about 100 feet ahead, we'd have been testing our coefficient of restitution...me on the grill and Ben on the trailer. We didn't both to stop as we had a long way to go and it's the wild West. He was probably armed anyway...

We make to the border with little additional fanfare. And fortunately, the RCMP / Border Patrol wasn’t too bored to grill an odd riding duo so we officially reach the Province that rhymes with nothing at all. No guns Sir. No Sir, I said no guns. Or alcohol. Or drugs. No, no guns.

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Now in contrast to the green, rolling hills of WY and MT…SK is flat and very…Kansas-like. Nothing to see here, move along. I would normally skip this part, but I had my own excitement along this stretch of 2 lane tarmac. See this pic?

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Notice the Ram phone mount on the right bar? Currently not used in this pic, but since I was less familiar with the roads to Saskatchewan I decided to use Waze to guide me. Well, I didn’t have the rubber straps that help hold the phone in place. Recall where I inflicted a Kansas comparison? Well, the crosswinds were WICKED. Somewhere along the way, a serious gust of wind ripped the iPhone out of the holder and across the opposing lane and into the grass – too fast for me to respond. Grab a handful of binders and flip a U-ey. It took about a half hour, but we did find it. But it was the gnarliest shattered screen I’ve ever seen (no pictures). But it had power; just no more directions. And for all of Ben’s preparations, his AT&T phone would not function (on a cellular level) in Canada. Ever.

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The good news is that we made it. Cold and weary but undaunted. We had made our goal of reaching the “real” kick-off point: Saskatoon. And we had riding through at least 3 of the 5 curves in all of Saskatchewan already. To be continued. This is going to take a while...

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Z

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:37 pm
by RAT
Looking forward to the rest of this report :crosso

Gord

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:35 am
by sunnbobb
Great story. I used to visit Saskatoon about once a month for work. It's another world...

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:33 am
by Sagebrush
Quite the story teller. Thanks for the ride along.

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:56 am
by rcmatt007
fun story

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:29 pm
by 5speed
not surprised they asked you repeatedly at the border if you had any firearms on you. the number of Americans that attempt to cross in to Canada with a gun would surprise you.

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:46 am
by rcmatt007
the last time I went across the final question was , but you're from Oklahoma and you don't have a gun?

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:18 pm
by 5speed
rcmatt007 wrote:the last time I went across the final question was , but you're from Oklahoma and you don't have a gun?

I had a CBP officer ask me one time I crossed if I had any firearms.
Apparently our employer is part of the information that comes up when our passport is scanned..which I didn't know at the time.

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:34 pm
by rcmatt007
never owned one.... never had my kids play with toys... I was a pastor.... then my daughter was a probation officer, she is a darn (amn) good shot.... but now none of us have one

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:47 pm
by sunnbobb
So, looking forward to the rest of the story.

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:51 pm
by rcmatt007
and the cubbies

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:50 pm
by Jonesz
Fascinating story so far. Disappointed when it ended at Saskatoon some 555 Km to the west of our home place but something to look forward to next time I log in. Thanks for the ramble,will be back right away.

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 9:45 am
by Brant
I love a good ride report .

Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:50 pm
by HomeMadeSin
Thanks for the support everyone, especially for anything positive on the story. And apologies for the slow pace. More of a math/numbers guy. In fact, I had to take Remedial English when I went to college....I didn't even know there was an 050 level English class.

I'm also writing this for two sites. This one obviously, because of the classic Goldwing bikes (and two were truly 'naked'...that made for some fun as you'll learn later on). The other on the ADV site since we did crash their Dawson party on the way toward Tuktoyaktuk. So it may be a bit like Game of Thrones - you guys get the book, and they'll get the HBO version. I figure this site has a longer attention span and obviously high taste in bikes. Hope that's ok.

I'll leave you with a video when I was prepping in Savannah prior to shipping the bike to Denver. I simply love those Webers. And the shorty pipes were nice too. Pure symphony to my ears. Too bad I don't have NPR-quality sound recording ability...


Re: The Old Man from Tuktoyaktuk gets the Last Laugh

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:14 pm
by HomeMadeSin
8 June 2018. Ben and I made it to the DMZ; Dave’s Motorcycle Zone. Otherwise known as Saskatoon -an old First Nation word that roughly translates into “Does NOT rhyme with fun”. But in order to prepare you for the rest of this ride report, I need to describe Dave, aka Jeckyll.

As previously stated, he is a big man. During the ’09 Alaska ride, as we exited the West Rib Pub & Grill in Talkeetna, I overheard a Brit tourist uncontrollably blurt out “Oi, that’s a big bloke”. A native of Saskatchewan, Dave grew up on a farm so he’s mechanically inclined the in the same way a duck navigates water; it’s just in his DNA. You definitely want him in your group if something goes wrong. It matters not if it’s electrical in nature, a mechanical issue or pending bear attack (a safe bet you can outrun him).

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Dave’s also a bit of plus-sized kid with a distorted version of ADHD. Not the hyperactive, jumping-on-the-couch-sort (who weighs over 25 stone and jumps anyway?!?). More like the type that associates fun with the thrill of potential failure and random surprises, sprinkled with some pranks. Although stubborn at times and staunchly assertive often, he’s very smart and has a big heart. Like literally. It has to be huuuuuuge.

Now Dave is the principle instigator in these long distance, motorcycle trips. And the reason why we couldn’t just take a modern, efficient and reliable bike trip. That would be too easy. In 2015, we put about just under 5k miles doing the Trans Labrador trip on these same Goldwings (hence the FB Group “Bottom Gear 4848”). We even caught the attention of others: [url]advjoe.ca/2015/11/crossing-the-trans-lab-on-goldwings/[/url]. Fortunately, the Goldwings shined (mostly).

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After a respite in 2016, the next big trip was to tour Western Canada and set-up for the big push North. Unfortunately, both natural and unnatural forces in September 2017 dared us to follow the Yellow Brick road. Consider that much of the West was burning or burned. And an early unseasonal storm in the Canadian Rockies made for cold and wet/snowy conditions. Blown head gasket failures, family health issues and more drama made strong hints to the sane to cancel the trip. Personally, I was in the middle of moving across the country but had to fly to Venice, FL to evacuate my family ahead of Hurricane Irma (thankfully all ok).

Never-the-less, my bike was NOT ready to roll…especially since I donated my ignition to the Lone Wolf bike trying to solve its problems (ran when parked…ha!). So while I missed the trip, the others pressed on, but instead of reaching Vancouver and the beautiful BC coast most of the bikes settled for Saskatoon instead. A slight downgrade, perhaps, but it has lots of “personality”. Thanks to a coincidental script found somewhere along their trip, I am tagged for life since I “bailed”:

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Just a couple of shots of the trip I ‘bailed’ on atop Pike’s Peak:

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And if he-who-wins-has-the-most-toys, Dave could represent his country and medal easily. Several Ducatis, including a gorgeous custom 900SS and classic 750 Sport. BMW GS Adventure. Honda Dream 305. Monster quads with 33” tires and complete snorkel systems. Several sleds (obviously a mandate in Saskatchewan). And a genuine dyno via his shop (DaD’s Cycle & Sled Shop). Perfect place to store a bike or several for a year until the next adventure. One would think at least…
So while most of the bikes were stored in Saskatoon, the premise was that Dave would have plenty of time to get those bikes ready for this Tuktoyaktuk trip. A whole year for potential fixes, upgrades, etc...at…a…captive…bike…shop. Except Dave’s priorities have been altered a bit with his son Benjamin coming on the scene since most of these plans were made. So it didn’t get done like it otherwise would’ve in trips past.

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But what did get done you ask? Well in case you missed the 2015 write-up, for his first legitimate (or not) foray into motorcycling, Kevin pulled the trigger on a 1977 Goldwing with an award-winning paintjob. I’m certain that somewhere out there, a matching Custom 70’s Van still wreaking of Brut 33 and Mad Dog is eagerly looking for its forlorn offspring. Throw in a tidy set of matching lone wolf baggage and leather tassels and you have the ultimate lot lizard magnet. Ok, ok. I’m being overly harsh. It is a spectacular paint job. And no wizards were harmed to make it. But you can just sense that, for Kevin at least, form trumps function. Appearances are a clearly high priority. For the astute, you might have just now realized how an idea gets formed in the mind of an evil genius.

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I think you can see where this is going. Whoever bought Dave’s son the colorful trainset just needs to assume the real blame here. And since Kevin doesn’t arrive until 2pm, I get the ‘honor’ of transporting the running-but-not-altogether mobile canvas from Dave’s house to the shop ~20 miles or so. All without the benefit of my gear or a “proper” helmut. My biggest gripe? The windshield – I can’t stand that style.

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Not to pick just on Kevin, Dave had similar plans for Mike’s bike; a locally acquired vintage ‘Wing chosen just for this very trip. Mike looks pleased, right? I mean, who wouldn’t appreciate a fluffy, Barney bike?

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Ok, enough fun it’s now crunch time. It’s still Friday, but we’ve a ton of work to do. We’re pressed to get the bikes in marathon condition because the plan is to begin the sojourn in earnest the following day. But, dinner calls with the family and we enjoy a laid back evening. We got this, no problem.

9 June 2018. It’s pretty clear early on the kickoff is unlikely to happen today. Still no sign of a Pennsyltucky motorcycle license plate, nor the ornamental Jimmy Buffet vanity ring around it along the highway. We looked like convicts strolling along the highway looking in tall grass on the way to the shop.

On Mike’s fluffy Royal Purple steed, three different sets of carbs were trialed. First the stockers were found wanting and removed. Second was a chromed Chinese-made Solex knockoff that sputtered and popped and iced up quicker than Chicago in a polar vortex. Finally back to a mixed set from another bike that behaved acceptably. During the carb fiasco, we pulled his brand new C-5 ignition and put my prior model C-5 ignition in its place (ran like a champ, BTW – my apologies to Paul Crowe). Electrically, we had to repair the wiring harness and get the taillight and signals working. We also replaced the cam belts and idlers. Prior to today, he did get an upgraded stator, Led headlamp, valve lap job, gold valve kit, new battery tray and new water pump. And a reasonable cat bath and black paint. Oh and we tried to mount my fake Superbrace to his forks but it didn’t fit. But the skull lights look the part!

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As might be expected, Ben’s bike only requires ‘relatively’ minor maintenance. Clean the fuel system, jets and carbs. Synch the carbs. And inject the run-flat goop for the tires. I’m not sure, but I think he’s waiting on us:

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If only he could get his AT&T service to work…

Conversely, Dave’s bike is a bit behind the curve at this point:

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He had so much to do, I’ll edit this later when I get his account of the work...

My bike is finally getting the attention I couldn’t give to it prior. Tires and tubes fore and aft – note to future self: take time to install the inner tube carefully. Fresh oil. Carbs synched. New timing belts and timing set. Valve lash checked and/or set. New grips (no wimpy heated grips for me, I had Chinese handlebar muffs – FTW!!!). Remove chrome bezel cover. Pull the forks, drain, replace seals and rebuild.

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I finally discover the pinched wire/short causing all my blown fuse issues under the rear seat. Oh yeah, I pulled a motor support bolt from another carcass to finally remove any remnants of the atrocious fairing set-up. So to show you the “Social Network” 2 year challenge pics, it went from this:

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To this:

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Last, but not least the Rainbow bike. Kevin’s bike is colorful indeed but needs: heated grips, tires and tubes and associated run-flat goop. LED headlamp. Repair, clean and adjust carbs. Jettison the awful trailer hitch set-up and stabilize his baggage system. Correctly install Gold Valve kit in forks. Previously he did have his tank acid flushed and the rear shocks installed, so that was good. Oh, given the haste in the paint gag, his license plate was not adequately fastened. It fell off on the ride to the bike shop….nowhere to be found. We searched. And searched. And searched. Somewhere, there is a Pennsylvania plate on route 11 outside Saskatoon…never mind someone isn’t even endorsed (!).
Oh and Kevin added oil…more on that later.

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10 June 2018. we are still at this. But at least the bikes have been transferred to the kick off point. Time to pack everything. Warm, dry gear. Tents and food. Tools. Spare parts. Spare oil, fuses and gas. Oh and a generator. Can’t forget the generator.

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Finally, after a prolonged delay, around 4:30pm on Sunday we are ready to depart. Five Gen1 Goldwings: two lean, mean and naked, one bright and bottomless and two flaming or furry and fully faired. All are ready to start an adventure.

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It gets better. Much better.

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