Red Wing 971
So, here's some semi-random things that I've done with/to my FJR since the last post:

  • While riding about two weeks ago, the right V-strom hand-guard fell off on the freeway, so I removed the left side one. The box that holds the switch for my aux lights was mounted to the left-side hand-guard, so I had to rig up a new mounting using cable ties to the wire harness that comes off the left bar.
  • I bought a Bagster tank cover and tank bag from a guy on the Forum.
  • Last weekend I gave the bike a good cleaning, which requires removal of the tank bra. I'm running the tank naked right now (although it always has the protector film on the lower surfaces) while I decide when/if to put on the Bagster.
  • My Zumo 550 died, and I sent it to Garmin in exchange for a $150 refurb unit, which has worked well so far, with one exception: the battery on my old unit used to last 90 minutes or more with no problems, but the refurb only goes 15-20 minutes before it starts complaining about a low battery. (I also replaced the bike mount about 3 months ago -- the old one had become too temperamental.)
  • Justin ordered one of those big, 6" locking carbiners to use as a helmet lock, and he really likes his. I got one myself, which mounts nicely on the Pelican case handle, and keeps my helmet away from the exhaust pipes.
  • After ordering, receiving, and returning three separate shipments of motorcycle boots from NewEnough, each of which was way too narrow for comfort, I bought a pair of Red Wing 971 motorcycle boots. I really prefer non-laced riding boots, but there just doesn't seem to currently be any wide boots available, and the 971's have worked great. After some professional fitting work by the store manager, I wound up with 11½ EE's, and have been very happy with them so far.
  • I've been riding to work off-an-on for a few weeks, but am now planning on riding four days a week through the summer and into the fall. Wednesday's are big meeting day at work, so I'll drive that day, and do errands on the way home.

I've been having a blast with the Big Money Rally - a four-month event where you collect points for various bonuses. To reach "finisher" status, you need to collect 121 points for various bonus types - 2 each for select Post Office locations, 3 for "summit" signs, 3 for National Parks, 3 for selected museums for the oil industry, 5 for various memorials, etc. The rally ends next week, so I need to make hay while the sun shined.

I started the day with 87 points, so I needed 34 to reach the "finisher" level. I had an ambitious day planned, but didn't get started until just after 9:00am. (Motorcycle rides are like fishing -- the earlier you start, the better.) First up was the Pearblossom, CA Post Office, about five miles east of CA-14. The GPS said to take I-210 to I-5 and then CA-14, but I debated taking the twisty short-cut up Angeles Crest and Angeles Forest Highways. When I got up to La Canada, I decided that with the cloudy weather it made better sense to stay on the freeways.

The wind was up all day, so I had a few struggles keeping the rally placard in place at the Littlerock P.O. Next up was Pearblossom, a few miles east on Pearblossom Hwy, followed by a tank of gas and then on to Randsburg. This required some jogs to get to US-395 at Adelanto, and a "spirited" run up to Randsburg.

The GPS told me to turn off the 395 at Osdick Road, which I did, and then head west on a dirt road -- which I did. When the voice told me I'd arrived, there wasn't anything anywhere close, so I backtracked and rode north on 395 to the Trona cuttoff, hoping to use my phone to find out where the Randsburg P.O. actually sat. There was no data coverage out there, so I wound up calling my son Justin to tell me where to go. He said to head north another couple of miles, then west on Red Box Randsburg Road. Once I got to the scenic and rustic town, I had to drive the length of the main drag and back before I found the P.O.

Next was a long stint up US-395 and over CA-178 to the Lake Isabella area. The wind was still running high, and there was a lot of sand and gravel in the corners -- also normal for this time of year -- so I dialed back a little.

The Weldon PO was quick, followed by Lake Isabella. I stopped for a sandwich at a little place on the north side of the road, which was quite good. I hit Bodfish, then filled up again on the way to Wofford Heights and Kernville.

As I climbed into the hills of the southern Sierra, the temps dropped a bunch, but not enough for me to stop and put on my jacket liner. As I crested a rise and started down the far side, I happened to glance in my rearview and noticed a sign layout that looked like it could include a summit sign. I made a U-turn and head back up, and sure enough there was a sign for the Greenhorn Summit. In the BMR, there's nothing better than stumbling on points you didn't expect to find! (I rode east a little to see if I had missed a sign going westbound, but there wasn't one -- only the one sign on the eastbound side.)

The ride from there to Glennville and Posey was a great example of what makes the BMR a fantastic rally. I might have missed the opportunity to ride these great motorcycling roads if I hadn't needed to use them to get BMR bonuses.

After Posey I headed back down to Woody, and ran into a couple of different groups of free-range cattle sitting on the roadway on CA-155. They looked at me, I looked at them, and after a couple of minutes they wandered off.

From Woody, I headed down to the Central Valley and on to the Oil Museum in Taft. From there, I took CA-33 towards the two bonuses in Santa Paula. It's possible I exceeded the posted speed limit on the straight section of CA-33...

I was enjoying the twisties as I climbed up the mountain until I found -- another surprise summit sign! Pine Mountain Summit has no shoulder to speak of, so I got over to the side of the road as much as possible, and did a quick shot of the sign -- but I waited to actually send the photo until I found a better parking spot.

The rest of the ride down CA-33 was a blast -- I was felling good, the bike was handling great, and the weather was just about perfect. I stopped for more gas in Ojai, then headed west to Thomas Aquinas College outside Santa Paula. A few more miles got me to downtown Santa Paula and the California Oil Museum, which I would have enjoyed visiting if I'd been here earlier. The had Main St. closed off west of 10th for a classic car night, which looked like a lot of fun.

So, I found myself with no more bonuses to hunt, sitting in downtown Santa Paula at 7:30pm, after a staggeringly fun day of riding. I called home to check in, put the liner back in my jacket, and had a nice chat with a guy in a Prius who asked about all my gizmos, and finally headed home, where I pulled into the driveway at 9:45pm.

550 miles -- a great day, and a great rally!


  • On Saturday, October 22, I rode in the Discover Kern County rally, but had to drop out after a battery failure early on.
  • On Sunday, October 23, I put in a new battery... Mileage was 71300.
  • On Friday, October 28th, I removed my old, non-working throttle lock, put on new Grip Puppies, and put on a new Bead Rider seat cover.
  • On Saturday, October 29, I rode in the Park 'N Ride Rally, finishing 6th.
  • On Thursday, October 27th, I ordered a wind shield from Cee Baily - 19", +2, reverse countour. They'll call me when it's ready for pick-up.

My PR2's were getting a little long in the tooth, but I thought they had another 700-1000 miles left in them. When I got back from Kauai, the rubber valve stem on the rear had failed, so it was time for a new pair.

I found a great deal on a matching set from an online retailer - no sales tax, free shipping - and it took a week for them to come in. While I was at it, I ordered a pair of 90 degree aluminum valve stems from Bike Effects - it's really a pain to get the air hose onto a standard front stem. They came in on Thursday morning while I was working on some repairs for our asphalt driveway.

Later that afternoon, I pulled the wheels off the bike, and took everything up to Pasadena Yamaha. Kel gives me a great deal - $20 per wheel to mount and balance a tire. I could have waited for them, but told Kel to take his time and I'd pick them up the next afternoon.

Friday after work, I stopped by and they had everything ready. The rear had a couple of balancing weights taped on, but the front was completely untaped. I talked to the head technician, and he said he was able to balance it perfectly by finding the right orientation. Very cool.

With the rear wheel off, I found a lot of gunk on the inside of the pumpkin. I sent photos to my buddy Hal for advice - Hal knows (almost?) everything about DIY bike repair and maintenance. He hadn't seen anything like my gunk before, and suggested I use carb cleaner to clean up the whole mess. It worked like a charm. I regreased the geared area, and mounted everything up - front and rear - late this morning.

Thanks, Hal!

The mileage at the tire change is 70,272.