Tuesday, May 19, 2009
13 May 2009 Wausau, WI
This blogging is going to take some getting used to. My departure date was scheduled for 11 May 2009 and was postponed due to motorcycle preparations that went pretty slow. When I should have been loading my bike I was getting my paperwork in order. My shipping paperwork didn't arrive until the 6th of May and my Russian Visa arrived a day later. Right down to the wire on those two items. After those items arrived they had to be scanned in and copies made. If you ever heard the expression cover your ass with paperwork..........that was what I was doing. To add insult to injury, my main work horse, our Dell home computer, had hard drive problems which at this moment is still under repair. As a result of this computer failure my Panasonic Toughbook was used with our printer/scanner. It could only scan and not print. I believe this was a software problem which Mary and I didn't have the skills to troubleshoot. We ended up making a trip just for printing hard copies of the documents. I wrapped up most of the paperwork on Sunday 10 May. 11 May 2009 I turned my focus to sorting out what I wanted to take and loading the motorcycle. Initially I wanted only one bag on my seat behind me. Well, that didn't quite work out. Between my computer, paperwork, and some clothes, my top box was full. I knew I was in trouble. Those saddle bags/panniers look really large but when you plan for 4 months on the road they became very small very fast. The tires I was planning to ship to Europe fell through. I was really bummed out. So I ended up strapping the rear tire on and leaving the front one at home. I have pictures of how my bike looks loaded up. A side effect of all this weight is the bike sets low on its suspension and when you put down the side stand it will fall over on the right side. It cannot stand alone. I put a stake under the right side foot peg to keep the bike from falling over. I also put it in gear to keep it from rolling. If you load up the bike on the center stand you can't get it back off because the bike is so heavy. I'm hoping to fix this problem once I get to London. I will lose three quarts of oil and 15 lbs. of bags that I will use to ship all my gear and clothes in. I will know for sure this trip is for real when I'm riding out of London on my red beauty. If you think loading this bike was an organized event, it wasn't. It was total chaos. I had my system worked out on my Harley-Davidsons but this Kawasaki was totally different. I would load it, look at, nope that will never fly, tear it apart and reload it again. That monkey business went on for close to 20 hours, just ask my girlfriend Mary. After I had it loaded it still took me another four hours to leave home. I got dressed, made sure I had my money and keys, reviewed all my last minute notes, talked to my mother, made a call to Mary, and guess what? It started raining. I put on my rainsuit. By the time I had my act together it stopped raining and the road was drying out. I left my rainsuit on knowing it would rain again. It was bloody 75 degrees and humid. It was a pressure cooker inside that rainsuit and it made me sweat profusely. Have a good laugh, Mary. Well, I was finally on the road. Everything went well until I drove past Menomonie, Wisconsin. I entered a downpour which lasted all the way to Wausau, Wisconsin. It was about a 100 miles. I gave Mary a call while I was eating at Subway. I described my fun drive in the rain and she offered to find a hotel for me, which was nice. Even with my new rainsuit I was soaked to the skin. I arrived at the Super 8 Motel, paid for my room and unloaded my bike. Guess what? The headlight would not shut off. I'm thinking it was too much rain for some electrical component. I flipped the switch on and off a couple of times and the light went out. The day just kept going downhill. I decided to put the bike on the center stand for the night. Even with the packs off the bike is still heavy. So I give a max effort to get it up on the center stand and I didn't make it. It came down off the center stand with the front wheel turned toward the left side and flopped over on the right side with me lying on top of it. Boy, I was madder than a hornet. I said "this is just great", and now my right saddle bag has a nice scar on it, not to mention how I was going to pick it up being so top heavy. I looked around for some help but nobody was available. So I grabbed the down side handle bar and a luggage rack handle and proceeded give another max lift. Of course I used my best lifting skills as taught in motorcycle safety class and backed that bike back up on its wheels and with another max effort, put it on its center stand. Having seen enough of that motorcycle for one day I went in and turned the heat up to the highest setting, hung my clothes up to dry, and took a shower. Next thing I hear is the telephone ringing. The receptionist tells me my headlight is back on. I go out, shut it off and disconnected the battery. That ended that persistent problem for the night. I went back into the room and went to bed. It wasn't totally comfortable with the temperature up about 80 degrees but I had to get my clothes and shoes dried out. So ended my first day on the road. I'm hoping to add pictures of my trip preparations.