August 19, 2013:
On the 87TH day of the KURE2013 ride, I am in Edmonds, just north of Seattle, enjoying a visit with Dan and Linda Wilds, friends of my wife for many years. The Wilds live on the Puget Sound, and, during those days of good weather, which I am told may be not often in the northwest, the view is nothing short of stupendous – ships of all types sailing by, beautiful land masses, and spectacular sunsets. My wife, Lynda, visiting for the second time during the KURE2013 ride, and I enjoyed a wonderful visit with the Wilds, particularly when we discovered that the Wilds, like us, were “into” Newsroom and our dinner was cut short to be sure we got back to the home to watch episode 6 of season 2 – what a great time enjoying an energetic show with two opinionated friends who like to discuss all issues, both sides. In the morning, Dan Wilds invites Lynda and I to a breakfast where 2 of his friends, Ra and Na [short for Ramond and Nadine] Cruikshank, also are invited. Ra is an 84 year old retired dentist who has ridden motorcycles for 50 years and is interested in the KURE2013 ride – he wants to join me for the ride to Reno, a ride of about 750 miles that I was planning to leave on that day or the next. Wow – what an honor to join this fine gentleman on such an endeavor, and what an honor that he wants to join me. We talk strategy of when to leave, how long it will take, which route to take, and decide that leaving early the next morning would be best – Ra, very excited, leaves to pack, and Lynda and I head back to the hotel to retrieve the BMW bike and then to the Spurrell’s home to also pack up. I take Lynda back to the airport – no incidents of airport police on this trip, in fact, did not even see a policeman at the airport on this trip – for her flight back to Los Angeles – it was great seeing her and we both very much enjoyed our time at the NW District Meeting.
August 20 - 21, 2013:
I have packed the KUREmobile the night before and am ready to head out for Reno early this morning. I arranged with Dr. Ra to meet him on the I5 South, at the weigh station just past the intersection with Route 18. I mention, as I normally do, that I think [in other words, I do not know for sure] it is just past Exit 151, which turns out to be too much information, as my kids often tell me. My riding partner only hears exit 151 and as I sit at the weigh station, having arrived right on schedule at 5:30 a.m., he is stopped somewhere near exit 147, thinking that he has missed the weigh station because it was not right after exit 151 – turns out, the weigh station is further south, near exit 135, which is the exit for Route 18. To confuse the situation more, my phone is failing – like a phone before this, it is not able to be charged and only periodically works. What is even more confusing to me, as I walk around in the weigh station area, there is a motorcycle at the far end, but no one around, so I think maybe Ra has arrived, and is in the portable head or something – he was not. We finally connect via texting, and he advises me he is at or near the sign for exit 147. Thinking it is south of me, and that Ra has passed the weigh station, I head out, only to discover that exit 147 is actually north of the weigh station. I locate an off ramp that has an IHOP restaurant, park and go into the restaurant and revive my phone, make a call to Ra and advise him where I am, then I stay put. About 20 minutes later, he roars up on his Yamaha 1100 and we finally connect. We ride, uneventfully, for 460 miles that day, all the way to Ashland, Oregon, just north of the California border. At that point, and it being almost 6 p.m., we still have about 290 miles to go to Reno – some 4-5 hours – and we conclude it is best to get a place to stay for the night. The Rodeway Inn, right next to the gas station, is a good choice, so we stop there for the night, grab a little dinner at a near bar and grill, and then turn in to prepare for what we do not know at that time is going to be a very active day addressing some mechanical disaster that will befall my bike. Oh boy!!
The following day, August 21, 2013, the 89th day of the KURE2013 ride, starts very early – we are trying to get to Reno a few hours before I have to appear at the local Kiwanis club’s meeting at noon – we have a 4-5 hour ride, so we depart at 4:30 a.m., hoping to arrive around 9 or 10 a.m. The ride starts well, even with the sun not being up – the lights on the BMW are incredible, and they move with the bike, something that is not done on any other bike that I am aware of. That means when I turn a corner or go around a curve, the light will turn toward that corner or curve and light the way. It is a very cool attribute of the bike, and makes a night ride that much more comfortable. Dr. Ra is right behind me, as we head south on I5, cross into California, stop at the seemingly useless “agriculture inspection station” [what in the world is their purpose?], and enter into an area of the interstate where construction has limited the road to one lane with very little area to pull off if need be. I have the GoPro on as we traverse the moonlit terrain, and it can clearly be seen that shortly after entering the construction area, a bright red warning light lights up on my dashboard, saying “low tire pressure” – at the same time, the tire pressure menu comes up and registers that my rear tire is at 29 psi – it should be at 42 psi, so 13 pounds of pressure had, in just the short time of 15 or 20 minutes riding from Ashland, disappeared – something therefore was horribly wrong and I needed to pull off the road, but there was very little room, due to the construction, to do so – all of this, as I said, is being taped by the GoPro. Finally, the side of the road opens up into a dirt area, allowing me to put the bike further from the traffic lane – not much further, but 5 to 10 feet verses 1 to 3 feet. As I pull off, my rear tire registers 19 psi. Had my gauges not registered this tire failure, I would have been travelling 75 miles per hour as the tire failed and I assume would not have noticed much of anything until the tire was either just about to totally fail, or had totally failed. I hear that a blown out rear tire is not as bad as a front tire failure, where you usually will lose control and the bike will go down – a rear tire failure usually allows you to continue to drive the bike to a safe stop, but I also hear such a failure, when the tire rips apart, will normally damage much more than just the tire, including many items in the rear tire well that assist in operating the bike – I actually have some type of warranty to repair such damage if that were to occur. The warning system clearly prevents that from occurring as I am aware of the imminent tire failure and take steps to pull off the road before the full and potentially very damaging tire failure actually totally occurs. Now the question is, what do we do?
Safely off the road, I notice that the slop of the area is not good for leaning the bike in the same direction as the road, so I try to place the bike perpendicular with the road on what seems to be a sufficient angle to keep the bike upright. I do not consider, however, that the tire is continuing to lose air, and while we are both assessing the next step, we both watch in horror as the BMW slowly capsizes toward its right side – it falls fully over on its side, luggage and all. We quickly fluids leaking and areas of the bike being damaged by sitting on the road] – Dr. Ra grabs the back area of the bike and I grab the handle bar area – we try to lift its 700+ pounds [the bike is 600 pounds but I have 100+ pounds of luggage on and it the bike], but it doesn’t move an inch. Becoming pretty alarmed and concerned, I decide to remove all the luggage on the back seat, which gives Dr. Ra a better angle and grip of the bike – we try again, and this time, the bike rises to about a 45 degree angle – we are not there yet. I prop my leg against the gas tank to keep the bike there, Dr. Ra advises me that he is about to lose feeling in his legs, and we make what turns out to be the final effort to right the bike – with adrenaline pumping, I am sure, both of us heave for what seemed like an eternity!!
I now move the bike to what I hope is a better angle and go back to the “what do we do now” part of our ride. I thought I had prepared for every contingency, but now my phone is totally dead – turned out its charging unit broke or failed – and it is pitch black out. I get out the tire repair kit, but realize that if the tire has a puncture or hole, which is the most likely thing, I doubt after spending the time learning how to use this kit that the effort will allow me to ride the bike to a repair shop. Luckily, I have a guardian angel with me – Dr. Ra – and his cell phone is newer than mine, all charged up and ready to go. I call AAA first – turns out I should have called the BMW Warranty line first because all this was covered under my warranty. AAA asks for my “location” – yah – no mile marker, no exit in sight, and the only thing I can say is that we are north of Yreka and south of the border with Oregon. That is not good enough for the clerk on the phone – she needs, because her computer asks her for – a location and she cannot proceed without that – I tell her that the nearest town is Yreka, so just call for a tow truck there – she will have nothing to do with that simple effort. She wants, and will probably never change that want, an exit, a mile marker, or a route, none of which I can give her. She suggests, much to her credit [usually, as you will see below, they just say “no” or “cannot” and make no suggestion to overcome the obstacle], that I hang up and call 911, and they will place me by the cell phone, then use that placement to call back AAA and they can then complete the process. I dial 911 emergency [although I believe we are in a continuous dangerous location with trucks speeding by some 10 feet from us], but we need our location. She gets it – ½ to 1 miles south of exit 76 which is route 796 and 10 miles North of Yreka. She offers to contact AAA for me, but she is contacting us to the Northern California AAA [yes, they run by different rules and procedures, even part of the same state] and this AAA refuses to help because I “do not have motorcycle towing coverage” – looking at my card, and remembering that I have had motorcycle and motorhome towing for 20 years, it is right on the card, so I politely advise the AAA lady of this and she tells me that her system only has me with a “regular” membership and so she cannot help – she makes no suggestions. The CHP lady, listening in, expresses her utter amazement that AAA [Northern California] will not help a Southern California member of AAA, not even transfer the call to someone in the southern section. I thank the CHP lady, curse AAA Northern, and make a call back to the number on my card, which routes me to AAA Southern – with the new location information, a tow truck driver from Yreka [where I had initially suggested they call to] is dispatched, estimated arrival within 45 minutes. It is now heading toward 7 a.m., more than 2 hours since we left for the rest of the ride, but now, at least, the sun is up and we can see what we are doing. While waiting, I look through my warranty material for the bike and find that I have “tow and repair” service on the warranty – I call them and they confirm that they would also send a tow truck, but it may be a different one, and they advise me that the closest BMW dealer is in Medford, Oregon, about 40 miles north of where we are. I get all the information about what benefits I have through the BMW warranty, but decide to leave things as they are. The AAA tow truck driver calls and says he is on the way, and arrives within an hour or so, and after a pretty complicated and active effort of securing the bike to a winch to pull it up on a flat bed, the bike is safely secured on the flatbed truck and ready for the 45+ miles ride to the BMW dealer in Medford. After all this, I make a call to my wife in La Canada and ask her to call Dave Granish, our project supervisor and ask him to advise whomever at the Reno Club that I will not be able to make it to the meeting at noon this same day, and I call my mom, Eileen Burlison, who we will be staying with in Reno and who is a member of that club, to advise her of the situation and ask her to go to the meeting and explain what occurred. Between the two of them, the message gets to the Reno Club, so we never get to make our presentation to the Reno Club, but the offer to make it some other time is extended and we will do that.
Because of the construction and where we are, we have to travel south about 8 or so miles to find an exit, then we have to drive some 40 miles to Medford – to enhance the experience, the tow truck driver almost runs out of gas, so we have to stop and get gas! Dr. Ra rides his bike right behind us – I and my luggage get to ride in the tow truck. We arrive at Hanson’s BMW dealer just short of 9 a.m. when it is opening, along with about 3 other bikes coming in for service. A very concerned looking gentleman comes out to great us, saying that he is really “booked” today and will do whatever he can to address our issue. It is customary for BMW dealers, and probably all motorcycle dealers, to give preference to riders “on the road” – they usually will get us in and taken care of first, pushing us in front of the others. Hanson’s is no different and within 15 minutes, the bike is off the tow truck, rolled into the service stall, and the issue is assessed – I have a nice hole in the tire, probably caused by construction debris on the road – it is not large, but it is a hole and Hanson’s says that my tire repair kit would have done “no good”. The tire is a Continental with about 5,000 miles on it – Hanson’s does not have Continental tires, but does have Metzlers, which is the brand the bike came with. Dr. Ra and I walk about 1/8 mile to Debby’s Café and have breakfast and by the time we come back, all is good and the bike is ready to go. Of course, I have to Annell, a most friendly and delightful Sprint retail store clerk who not only takes the phone and diagnoses its issue, but then gives me all the options in a clear, concise and direct manner. Better than that, Annell, who apparently has 2 boys for children, is well versed in recognizing two men bikers who have little reverence for anything “normal”, and when Dr. Ra starts throwing out every type of comment and joke, she follows right along, wraps up what is said, and throws it right back at him. Of course, I am totally quiet and say very little!!! We get so friendly with her that every time she blasts whatever Dr. Ra says, she puts out her arm with her hand in a fist to “fist her” – of course that means to tap my fist on her’s, which I do with glee. It is, without a doubt, the most fun I have ever had in a Sprint store – she spoke perfect English, was clear and concise, and gave me some real deals. I have to buy a new phone, so I elect the Galaxy4 – Dr.Ra is jealous since he has the Galaxy2. Annell’s crew dumps all my “stuff” from my phone on the new phone and I get a new charger since my old one got broken while in Seattle. I am ready to go. We do not get on the road, however, until about 11:30 a.m., but we are set and ready to ride.
Our miles now, with the addition of the 40 miles north, is 330 miles – now about 100 to Shasta where we turn east, then about 140 to Susanville, where we then turn south, and then about 90 to Reno along 395. Off we go. The next thing that hits is a thunder and lightning storm, with some rain – neither of us are in rain gear, and I actually am only wearing a tee-shirt because it is hot. About ½ way to Susanville, we find an RV place with little cabins that have porches – it is raining, off and on, lightly and then pouring, so we are somewhat soaked, but we change into our rain gear – a wet suit type jump suit that really keeps the water where it should be – off our clothes. Once suitable attire is on us, we ride to Susanville and stop at a McDonalds when it is still raining, but when we are done, the rain has stopped but the dark clouds persist. We are about 90 miles from Reno, and it is about 6 p.m. We complete what I think is the most beautiful part of the ride that day – along the eastern edge of the Sierra Mountains, at dusk and sunset. We enter the suburbs of Reno around 8 p.m. and are at my mom’s condo, just outside of downtown Reno, about 8:30 p.m. – she opens the gate for us and we ride the bike into the sub-terrain garage where we then unload the bike and take everything to the 10th floor of the building. We are, finally, done with that 750 miles ride from Seattle, and, being somewhat exhausted, not a minute too soon.
August 22 and 23, 2013:
Today I am scheduled to attend the East Sacramento Midtown Kiwanis Club, in Sacramento at the UC Davis Medical Center’s Kiwanis House. This House is run by the local Kiwanis club(s) and has been in existance for more than 20 years, in various stages of development. The house accommodates about 150 persons who are family members of injured or sick patients of the medical center, and who reside more than 35 miles from the medical center. The charge for the accommodation is very reasonable and so the facility is usually 100% occupied, as it is when we get there. I had hoped to stay in the Kiwanis House, but there is “no room at the Inn”, so the club puts us [my mom and I] up at the local Marriott hotel – both are very nice accommodations. Gary Christianson, one of the Kiwanians active in the operation of the House, gives us the 25 cent tour – it is quite a project and one that all Kiwanians should support. I and my mom attend the Kiwanis meeting, and President Charlie Bussy runs are very informative meeting. I try to use my PPT that I used in Seattle, but it now has a virus, so I use the original one. We then return to Reno for a few nights to prepare for the last part of the KURE2013 ride to San Francisco and down the coast to La Canada. I enjoy spending some time with my mom, who still works as an Administrative Law Judge for the feds in Reno – we walk along the river walks and take in a wonderful Mexican restaurant. We also bid Dr. Ra adieu as he decides, on Saturday, August 24, 2013, to head back to Seattle.
August 24, 2013:
This, the 92nd day of the KURE2013 ride, finds me still in Reno, but packing up to head to San Francisco. I try to get going by 8 a.m. so that I can get to the City by the Bay by noon – about a 220 miles ride – but chatting with mom, doing laundry, etc., keeps me from leaving until about 10:30 a.m. I plan to stay with my daughter, Joanna, in San Francisco, who lives with 2 wonderful roommates, all of whom have just this year graduated from University of San Francisco. I have smooth “sailing” until just outside of Sacramento, where I run into pretty heavy traffic on I80. This time, however, it is not a problem because, remember, I am now back in California, the only state which allows “lane splitting” – i.e., motorcycles may travel between the cars when they are going slowly, like in traffic, so when the traffic hits, we riders keep going It is not only efficient and helps me keep up the pace to get to my destination, it is exhilarating – while we usually are going only about 30 to 40 mph, that’s sometimes a lot faster than the traffic and it is pretty cool whizzing by stopped cars. Most motorists help out by moving aside to give us room, but some hug the line to make it more difficult for us to maneuver through – there are always close calls, particularly when two large trucks, with big mirrors that stick out, are side by side – that is when you just wait until they are not side by side, and weave on through. I arrive in San Francisco about 3 p.m. and thoroughly enjoy visiting with my fourth child and her roommates, Sarah and Amy – lots to talk about since I have seen her since she graduated in May.
August 25, 2013:
This day is for R&R and just visiting. We take a drive out to Treasure Island for a swap meet, do some walking around the city, and mostly just veg out and visit. I get to park the bike in a garage, so it stays dry and comfortable. I finish my log and my blog and again get to watch Newsroom – this episode, the 7th I think, is just unreal, and is where Genoa is revealed to be a false story – oh boy, what a thriller and fun to watch with the whole gang here. A new and final week begins tomorrow.
The final numbers, as of August 25, 2013, the 93rd day of the ride – we have now travelled 13,122 miles, and are now past the Guinness World Book record by 1,750 miles. I have met with 59 Kiwanian functions in 48 states, plus meetings with Kiwanians from the 2 states we could not physically go to, Alaska and Hawaii. Thanks to all for continuing to share this experience on Facebook at “facebook.com/KURE2013” and on the web at “KURE2013.com”, and for supporting the effort with your contributions. It is truly a humbling experience as “The Eliminator”!!