May 16, 2009

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A Picture/Video Message!

A Picture/Video Message!, originally uploaded by tsilliker.

James Bay via KLR article - Motorcycle Mojo Mag

My article on riding the Route du Nord via KLR is in the June 2009 edition of Motorcycle Mojo magazine.

You can find it here.

May 14, 2009

Mileage Milestone

The Honda ST1100 recently reached a major milestone and it seemed like a good time to do a little review of where the bike and I have been.

Accepting the keys

I purchased the machine in March of 1998 from Hully Gully. I knew from my days with my Honda Shadow that I wanted to do more traveling, and the ST was my choice. I fell in love with the colour when I saw it on the showroom floor.

The bike was all I hoped it would be. Within a month, I had done my first SS1000 ride with the bike. It was a cold ride, and I thought I was prepared. I knew enough to have a heated jacket liner, but I was still frozen. It WAS April after all, and riding through the night was frigid.

I was successful, however. And I was hooked. It wasn't long before I was planning longer rides in the Iron Butt Association extreme category.

In 1999, I set a record crossing Canada in 65 hours and two minutes. The previous record was 84 hours and change by a fellow named Roy Eastwood. I assisted the IBA in setting this up as an official ride called the Trans Canadian GOLD.

I rode the bike to Edmonton in 1998, 1999, and 2000 to participate in the Alberta 2000 rally. This is an immense ride. 3500km each way, plus the event's 2000 km. All this is the span of six days.

I once again crossed Canada in even less time in 2001, using a fuel cell and a catheter setup. My elapsed time was 59 hours and 45 minutes - beating my own record. I also rode the Iron Butt Rally in 2001, placing in 32nd place with a gold medal. Very good in this competitive field.

In 2002, the bike was rear-ended hard on the highway and I was thrown off. There was over $6000 dollars damage to the bike, including a bent subframe. It was repaired with no apparent lasting effects. I had a sore shoulder but was otherwise unhurt, thanks to my armoured riding suit.

Many other trips followed. Including Mexico, Key West, and St. John's Newfoundland. I continued to do solo and competitive long distance rallies.

The bike was racking up big mileage but showed little signs of slowing down. Today, it uses somewhat more oil than when new, but I wouldn't hesitate in riding it across the country. Eventually, things were showing signs of wear. Parts I have replaced include: Steering head bearings, rear differential bearings, u-joint, one intake camshaft, all of the fork internals, three timing belts, water pump (not a failure, just on spec), water hoses, thermostat, clutch, and a couple of starter solenoids.

I was stuck on Cochrane, Ontario, when a starter solenoid failed, and had to take the train and bus back home in order to pick up my truck and trailer and drive 12 hours north to retrieve the bike. Quite an ordeal. That was 2002 when I was attempting a back to back ride of Canada. I had already completed the ride from Halifax to Vancouver and I was on my way back.

I successfully rode across Canada back to back on the clock in 2004, establishing a new one-way record of 59 hours and 36 minutes in the process.

I rode the Iron Butt once again in 2005. Increasing my place in the finishing order to 25th place and again with a gold medal. Very pleased with this finish.

Each winter the bike gets a thorough going over. All fluids get changed - brakes, clutch, coolant, rear diff oil, fork oil, as well as fuel filter, air filter, spark plugs, and of course a carburetor synch and valve clearance check. It's a lot to do, but it's worth it.

In 2007, I had the motorcycle tattooed on my arm.

Now I am looking forward to riding the 2009 Iron Butt Rally with this bike. The bike has been nicely updated with all the things previously mentioned. I even have a new seat courtesy of my friend Sal Terranova from Buffalo. I will be sure to post results and hopefully a few updates during the rally.

And so here it is, the latest milestone in a long series of milestones in the ongoing story of this motorcycle. I am so very impressed with this machine, the Green Hornet.