Grtechguy MegaDork
9/11/16 4:58 p.m.

Well, another forum member (he can introduce himself) invited me to go on a ride south.

I couldn't turn down a road trip to this beautiful area.

So, Tuesday morn'n I start my trip to VA.

If you see a loaded Bandit along this path, give me a wave.

singleslammer UberDork
9/11/16 9:24 p.m.

Looks fun. I hope your roads are curvy and your traffic lite!

9/20/16 10:45 p.m.

Looks like a Blast!Hope you are having a good time

Grtechguy MegaDork
9/22/16 10:25 a.m.

Day -1 (Sunday):

Inventoried all tools I figured I would need for emergency roadside repairs. This included a variety of sockets, tire patch kit, etc. Being the I'd be riding solo for ~640 miles I'd better be prepared.

Took the bike out on this evening, gave her a fresh tank of premium. Packed the sidebags with clothes and sleeping gear. Tankbag was filled with cliff bars and quarters for the toll roads that I couldn't avoid.

Grtechguy MegaDork
9/22/16 10:27 a.m.

Day 0 (Monday):

For some obscure reason I didn't take this as a vacation day and went to the office.

Nothing can scream lack of motivation for a 1 day work week. Unable to start anything and was only there for the weekly meetings.

Last day of driving the cage for the week. Woohoo!!

Grtechguy MegaDork
9/22/16 10:39 a.m.

Day 1 (Tuesday):


House is quiet. Wife and kids are still sound asleep and I haven't slept great all night. Must have been excited to get on this ride and escape responsibility for the week.

the joys of not having to "Adult"

Slip into the kitchen, grab a quick cup of reheated coffee and then gear up.

As I push the bike from the garage, I can appreciate the calm, cool September air. Subdivision is quiet and the roads are near empty as I pull out and start my decent south.

First 150 miles are quiet....dark...smooth. I made way out of Grand Rapids, South to Kalamazoo and slightly east to Battle Creak.

Starting to feel a little chilled as I entered Indiana and was thankful when I could see the sun breaking on the horizon.

Continuing down I69, I stopped just outside of Fort Wayne, IN for a quick gas stop.

Stretched my legs, called home to say good morning to the wife and kids, and then proceeded towards Ohio.

At this point, I wasn't looking forward to the flatlands of North Western Ohio.

But the road was quiet (I30/I33) and I kicked my feet up on the highway pegs and listened to the podcast playing in my helmet.

Google maps definitely will provide some interesting choices. Running mostly on 55-60mph posted roads it made for a nice morning running through farm lands and one decent sized wind farm.

Grtechguy MegaDork
9/22/16 11:10 a.m.

(Still Day 1)

Scenery hasn't been much of anything to report at this time and I'm still comfortable on the bike.

2nd Gas stop was roughly 30 miles outside of Columbus and traffic had started to pickup.

Running on the reserve, I got off at what looked like any easy exit for a fuel stop.

Sigh...the entire road was under construction with a flagman directing lines of traffic.

1st station I see is a Kroger. While it looks's still under construction. Crap. Back out to the flagman, construction and another 1/2 mile down the road.

Oh well, life goes on. Fuel up, empty the bladder, eat an energy bar and good drink of water and off I went.

I know from this point on, the road will be come quite a bit more entertaining.

US35 to 64 actually starts to make turns and elevation turns. I'm in love with the old steel and Iron bridges in this area.

This is the crossing in to W. VA from Ohio.

Gas stop for mile 465ish is near Fraziers Bottom, and I was getting a little nervous about fuel. Came accross a tiny little Ma & Pa style corner station to fill up.

Choices? 87 unlead or Diesel. Hope the bike likes regular unlead. Friendly place and definitely getting southern in the hospitality department. While it was a prepay(in-store only) the clerk saw the bike and told me to fill up and then come back into pay.

Crossing through Charleston, W.VA is this as well. Not as nice as the last bridge, but a great view of downtown.

bluej UltraDork
9/22/16 11:12 a.m.

Nice! That IS a great destination!

Grtechguy MegaDork
9/22/16 11:36 a.m.

(Day 1...still...ass starting get tired of bike).

Headed south out of Charleston on I64. The 1st toll rode of the trip south. I remember know what a pain toll booths are when on two wheel and dressed ATGATT. Quarters, tank bags and motorcycle gloves are far from the best combination.

But, I'm less than 200 miles from my destination for the night and I'm finally in the mountains. It's now a bright, sunny, warm (73ish) September day and I have no thoughts of work in my head.

Well...while climbing one of the hills, my bike started make a sound.





louder and louder.

Then..a loud POP followed by some very loud exhaust sounds and significant drop in power.

E36 M3...

This is one of the times where you can't pull over, there's a semitractor right behind you, and no idea what happened to the 500lb monster betweeen your legs.

E36 M3...

Well, the bike was still rolling, pulling the throttle still gave (some) acceleration and I was able to maintain a healthy speed. The right choice? maybe...maybe not. But I didn't get run over or drop the bike.

Next chance I got to pull over to inspect the machine was about 30 miles down the road.

Pulled off into a small town and into a BK parking lot. Ripped the seat off (after untying a sleeping bag) remove the tank and inspected the engine.

What happened? Oh...ejected the number 2 spark plug back on that mountain pass.

Lucky me did remember to throw an extra plug under the seat. Score!

What I did not pack was the thin wall 18mm socket. damn-it all.

Decided to continue on. Bike was running (albeit loud and slow). So I trudged on. Figuring I could assess the situation more at camp that night once everything cooled down.

On I77 South, there are two tunnels to pass through. Big Walker and East River Mountain Tunnels Now, here I am on a bike that is exiting exhaust partially through the #2 cylinder head spark plug hole. LOUD in the tunnel. But, at the same time, very fun and cool.

Once cleared of the tunnels, Google informs my of a major traffic accident on I-81. This is my next turn and 25 miles from camp.

I'm able to run about 1/2 the distance on I-81 before Google detours me on to a faster moving side road.

As I sit in a nice traffic jam, I notice a scooter rider coming in from a side road. Think not much of it, but wonder if it's one of the guys that's part of this Scooter Meetup I'm tagging along on.

Sure, enough, a few moments later, he pulls up along side me and greats me with a big smile.

What are the odds of meeting the one person you know (who lives several states away) in a traffic jam?

Next few miles are uneventful and slow, but make it to the Hungry Mother Campground with out issue.

Very happy to find "home" for the next few days. 5pm. 11.5 hours on the bike today.

As people trickled in the camp, I meet several great new people willing lend a hand and tools. As much as I tried to thread the spark plug in to the head, the hole was stripped and in need of a Helicoil.

But, too late at night and I had a beer or two. Decided to wait until morning and see what could be done.

When I retired my bunk, passed out almost immediately and slept soundly till morning.

Grtechguy MegaDork
9/22/16 12:18 p.m.

Day 2:

Woke up with my cabin mates to the sounds of cabin mates awake and the smell of fresh coffee wafting through the air. Way nicer than the daily alarm clock reminding of responsibilities.

Took my time getting up and around. Called a couple localish places to find the right sized helicoil without success. Google says there is a Suzuki dealership within 60 miles. So I call them up to see what they can do, explaining my situation (Traveling and a few hundred miles from home).

Gentleman on the other end of the line says to bring it up if I can't find the part closer and he would see what he could do.

So, I gear up and ride to the local town first to see if it can be taken care of sooner rather than later. Two small repair shops and all four parts stores, it's not happening.

I start the commute to the local Suzuki shop I called earlier.

My sense of time vs distance is quite off in VA compared to living in Michigan. 48 miles does not mean 45 minutes down here.

It has to do with the roads looking like this: This is a section of VA80 between I80 and US19.

Pretty uneven, rough paved and extremely twisty. At the top of the mountain, I pulled over and was talking to some locals who admitted that it was a rough road to ride and suggest a couple other routes for my return to camp that evening.

Soon enough, I pulled in Mountain Suzuki on US19, Rosedale VA.

Never have I been so thankful to have a dealership and service bay. Walk in and introduce myself as the guy who had called earlier. They immediately opened the garage doors and had me pull the bike in.

I helped by stripping the bike down for access to the damaged spark hole while they finished up another service request.

for the next two hours I had a couple great guys working on the bike and giving me updates.

But, they successfully tapped and installed the new helicoil and I was 100% road worthy again.

Pricewise? They were extremely fair and if you are in the area, I would strongly suggest them. Great crew!

Nothing felt better than to grab a fistful of throttle once I left and have the bike lunge forward as it should.

Returned to camp via US19 and VA16 (back of the dragon). Video is not mine, but a member of the scooter club I was with next day. But, beautiful scenery.

Video of VA16

Once back near camp, I figured I was ready for a beer or few. Found this in the local store and it seamed to fit the situation of the day previous. Perfect for sharing around the cabin porch.

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