Monday, October 26, 2009

Rob and Dan's Land Speed Bike - Chapter One

Rob and Dan set out earlier this year on an interesting senior thesis to complete their BA degrees in mechanical engineering. Take a bone stock R100RT and set a land speed record. You read that correctly. After much toil and essentially stripping every possible non-necessity piece off the old 2 valve boxer they set off last weekend for El Mirage dry lake bed for the base run. Essentially what they're trying to do is get raw data from the stripped bike, stretch the frame, built a streamliner body, heavily modify the engine and do another run. As it pertains to the thesis they'll need to document what modifications resulted in what gains / losses and why.

Save for spending a few nights over the last 6 months drinking beer in the garage while Rob and Dan worked I've done nothing in support of the operation. So it comes as no surprise that I had to be present for the fruits of the labor. Sunday morning after an interesting (to say the least) night of camping we packed up and headed for the lake bed. Rob and Dan already had the bike staged in the rookie lane and were first in line to run. Then the wind started. A steady 40mph crosswind that seemed to pick up every available grit of sand and lodge it comfortable between our incisors, eyelids, inner ear and um...

Finally, after 90 minutes delay the promoters deemed conditions fit for fast. The wind didn't seem to have died down in the least but the massive dust clouds we no longer sweeping across the track. Probably because there was no more loose sediment lest to be picked up and hurled into any available crack or crevice. In any case Rob suited up and began giving the bike the once over. It is at this point in the blog post that I'm going to illustrate a few important facts:

1. If you've got dreams of grandeur that Rob and Dan have built the next "Worlds Fastest Indian" you should probably close your browser window and go back to Law and Order. The R100 in question is about as mechanically sound as one of those Ralph Nader edition Corvairs. The "tech inspection" the bike was put through consisted of a salty looking 60 year old man in an "I'm with ugly" T-shirt asking Rob if he was "bored and rich" or "poor and stupid?" The "insider scoop" was one of the veterans (I assume he was a veteran because he didn't look a day under 80) asking me for a cigarette and mention something about not hitting any birds. Deadman kill switch: yarn tied from the zipper of Rob's leathers to the ignition coil wire.

2. The chase vehicle. 1977 Dodge Tradesman van with optional CB radio, 312,000 miles (didn't look a day over 400,000) and creepy 70's curtains on the side windows. All the character this classic holds doesn't stop Donny from dropping the hammer when the starter says "go" and blitzing a whoops section that runs parallel to the marked course with a trailer in tow. As soon as the 340lb sliding side door on this baby opens Steely Dan's Aja album starts playing from somewhere in the heavens.

The way the SCCA runs the event, every participating vehicle must have a chase vehicle, typically a pickup truck, that drives to the end of the speed trap and retrieves the bikes and cars that are actually participating in the races. In our case Donny Angel of Sonny Angel Motorcycle fame volunteered his van, time and experience at El Mirage. Rob fired up the bike, 6 of us piled in the van, Rob stabbed the R100 into gear, dropped the hammer, Donny did the same in the van and we were off.

First gear seemed relatively uneventful. The bike has almost no muffler to speak of so we were easily able to hear the missed shift into second. On his second try Rob got found the gear and grabbed a wristfull of throttle. His roost cloud started hitting the van windshield so Donny pointed the van off to the left. About the time Rob got 3rd gear he was quickly gapping the chase wagon off our starboard bow. As Rob shrank into the distance we could hear the boxer raising hell. A con-trail of dust rising from behind as bike and rider began to resemble a Bavarian asteroid streaking across the horizon. Seconds later, as Rob reached the 1.3 miles mark of the 2.6 mile course he disappeared from view. Donny continued along the parallel access road toward the catch area at the end of the lake. Not a word was spoken as we all listened intently to the CB for a speed announcement from the control tower. No announcement came and as we approached the end of the lake with no word on the run over the citizens band and no sign of Rob a nervous atmosphere formed among the Mopar's disco interior. Then, just as another chase vehicle pulled off the course and out of our view, there was Rob. Sitting atop the R100, a grin on his face, helmet resting on the gas tank, time ticket in his hand.

"Well? How fast?" the 6 of us inquired in unison. Rob's smile took on more of a wince. "68 miles an hour. The bike started breaking up REAL bad as I was entering the trap. By the time I got to the far end it was barley running." Everyone jumps to action and gets the bike on the trailer. We had set up a secondary camp at about the 1/2 way mark and had Donny drop Tedd and I off there to retrieve tools, another car and the timing light. Tedd began running through a list of possible causes as I drove back to the starting line. "It's gotta be fuel." he said. "I fired the bike up this morning on the trailer and the timing was good. It revved to the moon on the trailer without a problem. It's gotta be fuel." I slid the car to a stop in the parking area and we too off on foot for the starting line. Donny had Rob and Dan pulling air tubes and checking for blockage or a collapsed air filter. Todd set up the timing light, popped the plug and fired the bike. "Timing's spot on bro. Pull the fuel lines." Rob chimed in "Air filters fine and we can't run in this dust without a filter." Donny confirmed we'd need the air filter and checked that the fuel cap was venting. "Cap's fine kids." Dan pulled the fuel line off the carb on the right side and not a drop came out. Nada. Todd puled the left inline filter and open it. Upon finding it completely blocked he said: "Rob. Where did you get this tank? This filter is packed with sediment." The action stops and all eyes are on Rob... Rob lowers his head and mutters one word "Ebay."

All is still for a few seconds until the announcer chimes in "First call all bikes. This will be your final run as the winds are picking up again. First call all bikes." Another mad scramble ensues. Tedd tosses the screens from the fuel filter housings in the tool box and reassembles fuel lines. Rob and Josh are jamming the air tubes back into the airbox and carbs. Donny is hooking the ramp back on the trailer and pulling off the tie downs. Dan shoehorning himself into the leathers. Me, I found Rob's cooler and was pulling nervously at a Tecate.

Once the bike was off the trailer and Dan was suited up in the leathers Todd and I headed back to out mid-course secondary camp. We arrived to find the wives and girlfriends tuned into the CB waiting for Dan's number to be called. Todd filled the girls in on the repairs and how poorly the bike worked on Rob's run but that Dan was about to make a second and final run. Minutes later Dan's number was called and everyone turned toward the starting line. From where we were now standing we should see Dan pass by about 300 feet before the start of the speed trap. If the bike was going to start breaking up we'd definitely be able to hear it.

With a cloud of dust from the starting line we could see Dan make his launch. The Dodge in hot pursuit confirmed it was our guy. Poof. Another cloud marked a much cleaner shift into second than the previous run. Now the van was headed off the course in our direction toward the parallel road. A break in the wind gave an opportunity for us to hear the firsts sounds of the 1000cc boxer winding and churning it's way toward another shift. The third dust little dust cloud confirmed 3rd gear and now the con-trail was forming nicely. The engine spooling up was becoming more audible as the bike drew nearer to our point on the track. RPM's climbing, climbing, climbing.... Each millisecond creating more anticipation for the money shift into 4th gear. The gear that would carry Rob and Dan's Motorrad Rocket through the timed trap. Dan is almost directly in front of us right now and the engine is at it's full and terrifying roar. The Dyna ignition, fuel feed and slightly modified intake working together perfectly. Nay a spudder, only the smooth and precise audibles of the now pristine running boxer. As smooth as if it were electronically assisted and just as he passes in front of us Dan pops the transmission into 4th. The RPM's drop back into the meat of the powerband and in a final grunt toward the speed traps. Dan is folded up tighter than a Marine Barracks bed linen, his helmet nearly resting on the fuel tank. The dust rises furiously with every inch he streaks along forming a wedge into the sky with the R100 on the bleeding tip. Now as he slips into the speed trap the cloud begins to obscure him from view. Less than a second later the only sign that the bike is still powering along is the scream from the engine emitting from the megaphone exhaust.

Donny and Josh blaze past in the chase van.

5 minutes go by and no sign of our guys. 10 minutes still nothing. I find another Tecate. Finally after 15 minutes the van appears in the blowing dust, a smiling Donny seen through the windshield. Before they're even stopped the sliding door is open and Dan announces "96.77 miles an hour! Not a bad starting point considering the wind." "Well" Donny follows up "You didn't break the ton mark but I'd say it was a pretty respectable first time."

Stay tuned to the blog for updates on this little endeavor and as always thanks for reading.
-Sean DeAngelis

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zelda II - Trade in of the week

Many of you are familiar with Zelda the Green Hornet, my previous 1999 R1100RT in Boston Green. I put 90,000 miles on her, most with Kit on the back, and in many way she's responsible for me getting the job here at San Diego BMW as riding experience is definitely a consideration here. Well Zelda sold to a mechanic at BMW of San Diego, the car place, because I had the gone through the check list of mechanical ills that afflict RT's, gearbox and clutch, ABS pump, service history and she was in pretty nice cosmetic shape for 90k even if I do say so myself. Here she is after her last big trip to Guadalajara.

Well Zelda II was traded in last week built 155 bikes after mine, same year, same bike but with only 22,007 miles and in outstanding condition, fresh major 24k/annual service, unmolested, that is bone stock. And it's not going for four times the price either with only 1/4 of the miles.

So come on over and snap her up and you too may be lucky enough to land the best job in the world after 6 or 7 years and 70,000 miles as I'm not gonna' be around forever, not that I'm not gonna' try and be around forever, it's just too much fun here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

All time great bruises....

From Mark and Hannah,

"We got rear ended in a small town (loreto) right when you think your riding smart, trying to turn off to find a room beautiful spot on the Cortez side a day ride away from la Paz and the ferry to the mainland. And then things changed. Unbelievable!!!
We're both ok, 18 hours of Mexican healthcare. 2 broken ribs, some stifffff necks, some road rash and a BRUISE to write home about. Oh and 700$ dollars.... Going to try to get the bike running after a day of rest. To be continued...."


Epic Forklift FAIL!

Hey Everyone and welcome to a spontaneous addition to the SDBMWMC blog. This is Stan Lundeen failing in a big way. How NOT to operate a forklift. You see, a 7500lb forklift, with smooth urethane tires, doesn't exactly have a lot of off-road prowess. Matter or fact, it would appear that if so much as one wheel slips off the paved surface you get stuck, in Gary's flowers.

So now, as I type this, we've got 200 feet of tow straps and tie-downs wraped around every conceivable place on the forklift and at the other end, our pickup that has needed a new transmission for ....oh.....2 years. I think what Stan is going for here is 2 fails in one morning. High center forklift in Gary's beloved flowers - check. Grenade tranny in Gary's beloved shop truck - check. Or perhaps a "TRIFECTA of FAIL" if he's able to spring the forklift loose only to clean out the 3 demo bikes parked just off to the left in the last picture!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thursday Trade In of the Week

Hello Everyone and welcome to another exciting edition of our "Trade In of the Week" segment here on the SDBMWMC blog. Today's feature comes a day early because, quite frankly, this bike will probably be sold before the sun rises tomorrow morning. What you're seeing here is a MINT condition 2006 Harley V-Rod VRSCSE2 Screamin' Eagle!

Lets pretend for a moment the you were tired of turning heads wherever you ride. You have the polar opposite of "Look at me" syndrome. You crave stealth, a low profile, less-is-more. You want to depict that strong, silent type of motorcycle rider. Well then THIS is the flaming chicken for you! From the subtle "surface of the sun" yellow to orange paint scheme to the ninja-quiet 472lbs of chrome....whatever, this bike was designed to walk softly and carry a big tow strap. But it does not stop there. Owning a Harley Davidson means you own the very LATEST in 1970's technology, handling, ergonomics and design. That's right, look out Bultaco...there's a new king of motorcycle innovation and design prowess...and it's called the VRSCSE2.1-Alpha;YT2X(charlie) dot-dot-dash sierra victor!

This bike comes fully loaded with:
-a seat
-4 turn signals
-decorative rear shocks (Harley Davidson and it's affiliates make no claim the these shocks will dampen or in any way improve ride quality or control of the motorcycle. Hit bumps at your own risk. Always wear a helmet and approved safety gear.)

You all (or Y'all as Jenni and Gary say) better hurry down here and get a look for yourselves because like I stated earlier, I can't imagine this bike is gonna last long. The first $16,977 takes this chic magnet on down the road! .38 Special 8-track cassette not included with this sale.

Thanks for reading,
-Sean DeAngelis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet Igor Brezovar

Meet Igor "Mans Game" Brezovar. Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor look like choir boys commuting to grade school on Puch mopeds compared to this guy. The closest thing to a chase vehicle Igor has is his girlfriend riding pillion for the Alaska to San Diego portion of his journey. Igor is a native of the Czech Republic and he set out 3 years ago on a round the world trip on his 1999 BMW R1100GS. It had been a lifelong dream of his to travel earth on a motorcycle and now he's San Diego to the southern tip of Argentina away from completion. Hey Igor! Jed Clampett called, he'd like you to help him pack his rig next time.

As for the gory details of his travels I don't have a whole lot as my Czech isn't what it used to be. I was able to figure out that in 96,000 miles he has not had a single mechanical failure, Americans pay way to much for a pack of Marlboro Light's and that apparently, people in Oregon call the highway patrol when you urinate on the side of the freeway. Mans Game has been through a LOT of countries in his travels but unless you care to count the stickers we'll not know the exact number. Here's to you Igor! For sucking less and doing more.

Thanks for reading,
-Sean DeAngelis

Monday, October 5, 2009

See You at the Crosswinds

Hey Everyone and welcome to another SDBMWMC blog update. Today's post is a simple ride report from yesterday.

1800 hours Saturday. A quick glance at the showed PERFECT conditions in the desert. Time to break out the G650X/C for the first of many Superstition Mountain visits. I quickly threw together the logistics. Get home, load gear and tent on bike, hit ATM machine, get to the desert before 2300 hours and prepare for a Sunday filled with rocks and sand.

1832 hours Saturday. Gear, tent and smaller belongings strewn about the living room floor. Amos, my 14 year old bassett hound has made himself a nice nap pad out of my iso-mat and sleeping bag. Ruggy, my 2 year old korgy-shepherd (no joke on that one, odd doesn't begin to describe what this mutt looks like) is making an effective chew toy out of my tent poles. Clearly, I'm rusty at getting it together last minute for these trips. In between wiping bassett hound drool off of my sleeping bag and locating an actual dog toy for Mr. Ruggy my phone rings.

"Hey Sean it's Cormac. Your cousin's best friend from college!"
"Um...oh hey Cormac. Long time no see. What's up?"
"I'm in San Diego for a Ear Nose and Throat Convention downtown. Figured I'd call and see if you want to hang out."
-Quick notice here to all you doctors reading this: While the vast majority of the Medi-ignorant public typically leap at the chance to spend time with you and hammer away questions about our aches, pains, growth's and eligibility of medicinal marijuana prescription...LEAPING AT THAT CHANCE WILL NEVER HAPPEN ON THE FIRST DESERT WEEKEND OF THE SEASON. Refer to the aforementioned shameless link to my favorite weather site for that information.
"Um...Yeah Cormac. What day were you wanting to get together?" I already know the answer to this one. He's a doctor, he deals with punctuality and appointments EVERY DAY, of course he wants an on the spot, unannounced consult with his best friends cousin.
"TONIGHT BRO! I love this town! Wooooooooo!!!!!!!! We're already at the bar bro!"

1945 hours Saturday. I'm navigating my Madza 3 around downtown looking for parking.
2038 hours Saturday. Actually find a spot a mere 3.25 miles from where Cormac is staying.

0600 hours Sunday. At home throwing all my overnight gear back in the spare room and gathering the bare necessities for a same day desert trip. Hop on the bike hit the gas station and head east.

0900 hours Sunday. I meet up with Gary Kepple and we set off for the Tecate divide. Gary has been playing around with google earth and loaded some exploration tracks into his GPS. We're looking for a GS-able route from roughly the Boulevard area down to the desert floor without getting on the freeway. As we near Golden Acorn Casino we're greeted by a 40-50mph crosswind from the south. This tie of year this crosswind is expected and not really an issue for me. I normal slow down a bit and keep cruising. But, because Kepple is in front of me I'm able to actually see just how FAR out bikes are being blow off line and what kind of lean angles the wind is creating I start to worry.

1030 hours Sunday. We've been down a few trails and washes but the underlying theme of this gusting crosswind is ever prevalent. It's just NOT letting up. Each time we crest a rock formation or ridge we're struggling to keep the bikes upright while doing our best NOT to slip off the trail into a gorge or heaven forbid over the cliff. It's pucker factor 8 nearly the entire trip down toward the desert floor. At one point we're riding on the old highway through the mountains which takes us along a cliff overlooking the current freeway and the cars heading west back toward San Diego. Kepple is standing tall on the footpegs of his HP2 riding along and looking over the edge. My brain raises pucker factor 8 to 8.59 and makes ready at the kill switch. I on the ther hand am riding as far from the edge as I can get pretending to also be taking in the view to avoid the ridicule that accompanies a terror of heights, or rather falling from them. That old familiar panic is setting in as I watch the Kepple weave left to right along the drop. My brain initiates Lamaze breathing to control the heart rate and assist is preventing me from pooping myself.

1310 hours Sunday. We've ridden through a drainage culvert under the eastbound Interstate 8 and stopped at the Texaco for fuel and snacks. Wind, still blowin!

I'll sum up the rest of the ride in a few short words as I'm told these blog posts are supposed to be brief. It was windy. Particularly crossing the Pine Valley bridge where the wind sock was at full suck. In closing, these early weeks of desert season are much anticipated, and help shake the cobwebs off the knobbies. But the weather...while unable to squash the fun factor....can make for some tense moments.

Thanks for reading,
-Sean DeAngelis