Full Ride Report (Part 1)
Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000 Ride Report - Reisterstown, MD (near Baltimore) to Gatlinburg, TN, November 5, 2009
2009 Kawasaki Versys
Tony Tontodonato, IBA #24737
hdatontodo at yahoo dot com
I had recently bought my 2009 Kawasaki Versys, on the same day that I sold my 2008 GoldWing to a gentleman who flew in from Kansas City. The GoldWing hadn't been getting much use due to the toddler and tough rush-hour traffic in the Baltimore/DC corridor. I felt better having a $6K bike sitting on the trickle-charger than a $15K one. Plus, I found that I could fit the Versys and my car in the garage together--great for the winter.
I liked riding the Versys during my 40 mile commute which is largely on back roads. The V-Strom DL1000 that I had two bikes ago was never this comfortable, despite having bar risers, a gel seat, and an AirHawk pad. I could tell that the bike would be good for long distances with some mods.
I installed an XXL CalSci windscreen that handles wind great and prevents buffeting around my head.
Having done 1,500 miles in 24 hours on my prior 2005 Harley Davidson Electra Glide, I knew that a Crampbuster throttle paddle was great, but, I needed more; I added a Kaoko bar-end throttle lock which replaced the bar-end weight. (The GoldWing was my first bike with an electronic cruise control. It was suprisingly convenient.)
I added JC Whitney highway pegs to the SW Motech crash bar. Since the T.T. U-clamps for the pegs had been sliding around, I added some rubber strips that were sticky on one side to the crash bar.
At the recent 500-mile service, I had a 16 tooth front sprocket installed to replace the stock 15 tooth one. This made for a 5% difference and had the added benefit of making the speedometer correct.
The new Bladwin tall seat with gel pad insert is great. The stock seat was one of the worst I had ever used. On top of the new seat, I had my Alaska Leather sheepskin pad. I'm 6'3" with a 34" inseam. This is one tall bike. I can flatfoot it, but getting on and off with bulky clothing is a balancing act.
I installed SW Motech rack mounts and a Givi trunk and bags.
Handguards help with the wind protection.
Foam grip covers that I had never put on the V-Strom made their way on at the time of the throttle-lock installation.
My winter clothing consists of LL Bean fleece-lined jeans, a TourMaster Jett jacket, Gerbings heated jacket liner, outer pants, inner-soles, gloves and dual controller. Instead of using the jacket-liner connector for the gloves, I ran a cable down the sleeves
and used one of the controller connections. I used a 1->2 cable to connect both jacket-liner connectors to the other controller
connection. I like to leave the gloves on max, and the other parts on medium. I wear glove liners and use a neck/chin gaiter. I have some uninsulated Harley pull-on boots that I'll replace some day with something warm.
I had bought a Garmin Nuvi 500 GPS. It is waterproof, can take an FM traffic power cord, and has topo maps for when I'm using it in bicycle mode. A marine 12V outlet in the dash provides power.
I mounted my Valentine1 radar detector in a waterproof LS radar detector case on a RAM Mount. I mounted the hardwire power adapter underneath with velcro. The electrical farkles are connected to an auxillary fuse box under the seat.
I added mirror mount extenders and replaced the mirrors so I could see behind me.
I had a small magnetic tank bag with safety strap. Another holdover from the V-Strom.
My HJC Symax flip-up helmet has a Cardo Scala Rider Q2 bluetooth headset with an FM receiver.
The Hoon Hardware Roady Holder (a holdover from my Harley) sits on a RAM Mount for my Roady XT XM Receiver with FM transmitter. (When I wear earplugs, I can't hear it or the Cardo when moving.)
A 100oz CamelBak water resevoir with hose extension sits on my left passenger footpeg. I generally use a retractable ID badge holder for the bite valve end. A Nalgene Canteen water bag sits in my left saddlebag.
A Fenda Extenda is on the front fender, and there is a lot of reflective tape on the bags and frame.
Since my wife had an evening event, and Grandma would have the toddler, I decided to do an SaddleSore 1000 ride. Living in Reisterstown, MD, NW of Baltimore, I thought about going to South Carolina, Kentucky, or Tennesee. I was going to ride 1,000 total miles through New Market, MD, New Market, VA, and New Market, TN. Then, I decided I wanted the T-shirt and opted for the Hard Rock Cafe in Gatinburg, TN, a 1,050 mile roundtrip.
The night before the ride, I was up late loading and prepping the bike and hanging the Formotion 12V outlet near the seat in case I needed to charge my headset while parked. I didn't make it to bed until 1AM. The alarm was set for 4AM for trip.
4AM came pretty early, and I suited up and did my final packing. I made sure my PowerBars and Gummi Bears were in the tank bag. It was 37 degrees as I headed to the local Exxon for my fill-up and starting receipt. The pump didn't issue one, so I had to go inside for my $0.42 recipt just so I had a date, location, and starting time for my paperwork. I numbered this recept #1 and logged its info and the odometer reading, and the reset GPS trip meter.
I went a short distance to 795, then 10 minutes to 695, the Baltimore Beltway, then down 10 minutes to the start of I-70, where I headed west an hour. I took it past New Market, MD, and into Frederick MD, where I picked up 340W toward Harpers Ferry and Charlestown (track and slots.) Traffic was light and the only scents were skunk and cow fields. My right thumb was cold, so I went to move it horizontal, but accidently hit the kill switch. It took me a few seconds to identify and correct the issue. I was extra careful afterward. At Harpers Ferry, you go through 3 states (MD, WV, and VA) and cross bridges near the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. People go tubing in the summer, and the Appalachian Trail HQ is there. There's a nice hike on the MD side to Maryland Heights, where there was a Parrot gun and charcoal-making during the Civil War.
I picked up WV-9/340S for 20 miles and then took VA-7W 13 miles to I-81. There is a lot of truck traffic on this divided highway with 2 lanes each way. I went 40+ miles and stopped at 7:00AM in Edinburg, VA for 4.5 gallons of gas, some OJ, a poptart, and a pack of wax covered chocolate donuts. This leg covered 134 miles. I had expected to get better than the observed 30 MPG since I normally get 50 MPG going to work.
South, I continued. Cross winds started gusting up to about 25 MPH. I went down I-81/W64 toward Lexington/Roanoke. At 9:15am, I was in Troutville, VA. 106 mile leg. 27 MPG. So far, 241 miles down--a little less than 1/4 of the trip after 4-1/4 hours.
There were leaves billowing into the air over the highway. The trucks were taking turns passing each other as one was going about 5 MPH faster and felt the need to be in the left lane. It was still cold outside. I would move my feet between the peg sets, lean forward jockey-style, lock my throttle when I could, and do other things to try to manage comfort. My destination was southwest, so I didn't need to wear sunglasses. I do have a strip of black electrical tape at the top of my visor to help block the sun, but didn't need it.
I carried an extra gallon of gas just in case, but ended up stopping about every 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours for gas and a much-needed stretch. With the mountains, trucks, and wind, my right hand needed a break since I was constantly having to work to maintain my speed.