Monthly Archive May 2011

2011 GTASportriders Victoria Day trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway

I signed up for the annual May long weekend ride with the GTASportriders, the plan, to ride for four days, two down and two back from Toronto down to Salem Virginia and back again, but via the twistiest most fun filled squiggles on a map that we could find.

Day 1
Scott, Karen and I met up at a Tim Horton’s in Richmond Hill conveniently located next to the 404 highway, and we headed south, next stop, Fort Erie border crossing.

A wee camera malfunction, but I like it!
Karen pulled her breakfast out of her tank bag and I pulled out my camera when I saw that she had written her name on the banana. Apparently her fiancΓ©e Scott enjoys banana’s too. Luckily for her, he’s literate with a guilty conscience. πŸ˜›

And here we are with only an hour down and a whole lot more superslab until we get to Springvillie New York.

Around Milton the clouds that had threatened rain decided to become a dense fog instead.

Fort Erie border crossing! Whoot!

Uhoh, an old timer’s traffic jam. They wouldn’t pull over, so I found myself with some free time…

Darlene is leading our pack, but stuck at the tail end of their slow moving pack. Think of us as the wolves. We’ll begin to prey upon the weak and lame as soon as the road opens up a bit for some passing. πŸ˜€

Minutes away from Renovo to our left and East.

Coal cars on the rail siding. 

Mark, joins Rich, Darlene and I for lunch at Yesterday’s in Renovo PA
Yesterday’s, Renovo PA

It’s a wonderful little gem of a restaurant that we make a point of visiting each year on our way home from our trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway. There’s a link below, and let me tell you that if you’re looking for great riding roads, then try Route 144 South to Renovo, have lunch here, then hit 144 South again and head up and into Sproul State Forest.

An excerpt from their website follows:

“This building use to be the old YMCA and was the home
to many Pennsylvania Railroaders. You can go back in time
in the Railhouse Lounge. There are numerous pictures and
railcars on display.
Then Pete Kingsley bought it and renamed it The Old
Kingsley Inn.
He then sold the business and it was renamed again to
Yesterday’s and converted into a 50’s-60’s theme diner.
Greg Lucabaugh and Gina Brooks then bought it in March
of 2008 and have kept it as Yesterday’s.
Greg and Gina moved here from York PA. Gina was
born and raised here. Greg has a camp in Cross Forks and
loves coming to the “mountains,” so they moved to the
Greg also has his own business called Lucabaugh Remodeling
and Gina works full time as a Nurse in a Doctors office. So to
say the least they manage to keep quite busy.” 

The view of the West Branch Susquehanna River looking East. πŸ˜›



Some gas station near Altoona I believe.

Me and my shadow!
Is she practising for offroad or is her bum as sore as mine? 
Day 2

Scott and Karen take a little while to warm up…

Here’s the gang enroute to New Market VA on I-81. Notice how their highways are so much prettier than ours? Do take note MTO. Please.

I was trying a new fender bag to carry a spare tube, patch kit and  CO2 cartridges, but while fine for the highway, I think it overloads the fender for dirt roads and off road. I think the fender hit my front tire a couple of times, and the bag needs to be safety wired on so it won’t vibrate loose.

Darlene having fun in the Shenandoah valley

Is she nervous or is she taking the weight off of her sore bits?

This is rural Virginia. Horse country to be certain.

The Shenendoah mountains in the distance.

Simply terrified? She’ll be screaming in her helmet soon…

Water crossing! I wimped out and took it easy (2,000km from OHIP!)

Viv and Geoff wait for us to finish fueling

Rich is saying “There’s wild turkeys here!”

Sudden curve ahead may cause rider to fall off of the rainbow


Every corner you turn has a new vista to offer. It truly is a wonderful experience.

Kenda 270 with about 1,000 kilometres on it.

And the front…

These tires have been sticking like glue to the twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the mountains of Pennsylvania. I back it off by 20% when the roads are wet, but I’ve full confidence in these tires until I hit deep sand or muddy ATV ruts. πŸ™‚

I made it!

Roanke Virginia has a lot of riders, especially with the Blue Ridge Parkway only a half hour away!
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Scott is working feverishly on Karen’s bike to repair the electrical system.

“Is it fixed yet?”

Somehow I think this is not helping. Hahaha!

Here is the culprit! A resettable circuit breaker that has been bouncing around too much and has  tripped itself.

Geoff and Viv help out by getting more beer.

Day 3
“Whaddooya mean this is my wake up call?!”

Route 311 takes you back and forth across the state line. Hahaha!

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The Hollah – Revisited
I’m on Catholic Church Road in West Virginia when I came across this…

That’s Friar’s Hill Knob up yonder.

The Hollah is left yo…

Cross the creek…

Around the bend and up the hill…
The pavement gets a bit rougher as you climb…
But eventually it levels out and there is a farm or two.

When the pavement turns to gravel, just keep going…
Now if you were on a sport bike, I’d think twice about climbing this hill past the washed out bits…

I’m taking a break, I thought you’d like to see how I got this far…
The tires day three are looking used now, but I’ve been a bit heavier handed on the throttle.

Yep, I have to set it to offroad to continue. That’s a good indication that the route is going to be lots more fun!

It’s a groomed access road for the wind turbines.

We’re still climbing Cold Knob WV, and the scenery through the trees is beautiful!

The road is getting worse. Potholes, large rocks and a few muddy bits with standing water from last nights rainfall.

Somebody took the time to sign the road, and there’s been alot of vehicle traffic along this stretch, it’s much better groomed than Cold Knob road.

Wind mills in the distance disrupt an otherwise beautiful shot.

For scale, that yellow bar between the blades is about belly height. These things are huge, and this one sports damage on it near the tip.

Well, the fun’s over now. Asphalt. πŸ™

Lines again! The road must be wide enough to support more than one and half cars. πŸ˜›

Coal mining operation of some sort with weigh scales and a railroad siding.
They have two things in West Virginia, Moonshine and Coal.
He’s heading back up into the mountains for more shine.
Drinking ‘shine in Rupert WV

I see these ads, usually weathered and old on the sides of barns all over Pennsylvania and West Virginia

These two brothers, one from Tennessee, the other from North Carolina are enroute to Canada’s province of Nova Scotia 

Sadly, I had to be the one to tell them that the Cat ferry from Bar Harbor ME to Yarmouth NS no longer was in service and they’d have to continue up the coastline to St. John NB.

Extreme “I’ve done this all day long and this is an easy corner.” touring lean angle, where you give it just enough to make the corner without losing your speed and putting your luggage over the line and in harms way. Darlene makes it look so easy.

Here’s another ad on brick. I’ll get a better shot next time around.

Kevin is left to his own devices while our resident RMT destresses from a long day of riding.

Day 4
It rained last night, but it looks like it’ll be a great day.

Rich says “Fare thee well!”

Scott forgot about his gel seat on the bike, and it got soaked last night . DOH!

There’s always someone who enjoys talking bikes, no matter where you go.

On our way home we encounter other riders. I bet these guys on the adventure bikes are ADVRider’s too!

There is a lot of moisture in the air, it’s heavy and taking it’s sweet time clearing away.

Is that the sun?! Hooray!

This is what happens when the oversize crane gets ahead of you in the 3 mile long uphill construction zone.

I think somebody should have stayed behind that crane…

I decided to preride the route to the restaurant, so Rory blesses me and the bike with emulsified meat snack.
On my way back to Renovo PA again, but this time there is more fog, so I took another shot.

The gang will be coming up this road, but my lens was dirty so I blew on it to clean it off and the next video is foggy but well meant.

And I’ll leave you here, on Route 144 in South Renovo just before lunch as I’d filled the memory on my card and that was all she wrote for pictures.

It was a great adventure, and I’m looking forward to doing this again next spring, where I’m thinking I may return to the “Hollah” and try that Richwood road from Cold Knob this time. πŸ˜‰

My Fork Seals are Leaking!!!

The and I have been planning our annual ride for Canada’s Victoria Day weekend, and I’ve had some problems with the bike that had to be sorted out before riding away on a two thousand kilometre trip down south.

My fork seals started to leak on the left leg, so I ordered in a set of aftermarket seals from , the “All Balls” line that they carry. The advertisement reads that they last three to five times longer than OEM seals, so I thought I’d try them as I’ve gone through seals before.

If you have a slow leak, have a look down at the bottom to see if you can save yourself some trouble by using a quick fix called “Sealmate”.

’87 – ’07 KLR650 Fork Seals

The big thing was I was going to have a stab at replacing them myself. I did some research and found a method on the internet that allows you to unseat the seals and blow them out using compressed air delivered by a bicycle pump, compressor or shop air.



Messy business.

To start off, I needed to remove the fork legs so I got the bike onto
it’s stand and trussed it up to the roof of the garage and the sides
so that I could work without fear of it toppling over on top of me.

Once the fork legs are off, I cleaned them up so no dirt would find
it’s way into the internals of the forks, and proceeded to open the
drain holes at the bottom and drain both forks. This was the messy
part. The oil dribbles out slowly, so you think to speed up the
process by compressing the fork, and instantly a three foot jet of oil
launches itself across your garage floor, straight over top of the oil
drain pan you were aiming for. Okay, there’s another way to skin this
cat!!! I hooked up my air compressor to the top of the Schrader valve
and turned on the air while aiming the drian hole directly at the oil
basin. Success! A last blast of oil and I was done!.

Now I replaced the drain screw and made sure it was nice and tight,
then removed the fork seal retaining ring, and wrapped a rag around
the shiny fork tube with a tyrap to hold it in place, then slid that
down on top of the seals. I turned on the compressor again and watched
the gauge as it began to pressurize the seals, 20 pounds of air, then
50, now 80 and near 100 I heard a telltale hiss of escaping air. Sure
enough they’d risen in the well and I was able to carefully prise them
out with my snap-on hook set and a very small screwdriver.

Now I ran into a problem, I had purchased a fork seal driver for the
newer 2008 and later model of KLR, a 41mm fork seal driver, so when I
moistened the new seals with fluid and slid them over the tube, I
couldn’t apply sufficient pressure to drive them home into the well so
I could replace the retaining clips!

I posted a question on a couple of the boards I frequent, measured the
diameter of the fork leg, put a new seal in my pocket and went to Home
Depot to look for a piece of PVC pipe that would fit over the inner
fork tube, but fit within the well of the outer fork leg completely
clearing it’s edge by 1 milimetre at least. I found that the 1-1/2″
PVC DWV pipe was exactly what I needed so I bought a precut four foot
length and headed home to find that my question had been answered:

“invert the pvc pipe and thump the whole assembly into the ground.”

so in essence, use a bigger hammer. Now we’re talking!!! I placed a
chunk of old 2×4 on the ground which I’d had laying around for a dogs
age, and proceded to have a go at thumping in the seal and dust cover
in one go.

Mission success! With one massive blow that left a ring gouged into
the soft spruce 2×4, both seals had set and I was able to easily
install the retaining ring on my test leg. I reinstalled the fork
legs, then was in for a brand new adventure, removing the springs and
refilling with oil. In anticipation of this job I’d ordered in a tool from Yamaha XS650
that would make it a precision job to both accurately measure the
fluid and to level each leg identically.

Fork oil level gauge

 Basically it was a hollow
tube with a ring nut attached to a syringe via a plastic tube. You fill the fork leg, set the adjustable ring to the correct depth on the hollow tube, and set the tube into the fork. The ring sits on the top edge of the fork, and you easily draw out the excess fluid into the syringe and deposit it back in the container.

My next gaff was after removing the springs, was to attempt to fillthe fork leg while still at full full extension! It kept sucking back more and more of the fluid, and as I’d odered it online from New
Dundee in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, I didn’t think my chances of getting another litre bottle would be good so riding was out for the foreseeable future. Darn it! πŸ™

I took a break, had some dinner, then decided it was time to RTFM
(Read The Freaking Manual) where I found that the fork fluid was
measured at full COMPRESSION, not extension. Whew! I headed back out
to the garage and began to compress the fork leg, to find that I’d
obviously overfilled it and should have raised the leg a bit more
slowly as I lost a dribble or two over onto the tank and onto the
muffler. Doh!

Okay, that fork done and set at 188mm below the top edge which seemed
a middle of the road compromise at the time with no previous
reference. I sport tour and get into the dirt once in a while, so I
wanted a good ride over lousy pavement, but great handling mid corner
as well as being able to take a trail without bottoming, and this
seemed like a middle of the road safe guess.

One of the fork caps was a bit cross threaded so I had to clean up the
soft aluminium thread with a needle file before it went home and
sealed properly.

Now to put the wheel back on and clean up this unholy mess! I’ll do my
own seals again, and maybe even go for complete fork dissassembly, but
I’d prefer to pay someone else to do it and work some overtime to pay
for it. πŸ˜‰

Did I mention it’s a messy job?

2012-12-29 Update:
22,000 kilometres and the Trans Labrador Highway later, and they’re doing fine, thank you very much. πŸ˜‰

Are your forks dirty and now leaking slightly? Perhaps you can salvage your seals by cleaning out grit and dirt that might be letting oil slip through. It’s a ten dollar fix that might be worth a try, or you could cobble something together with a stiff piece of plastic from an old set of window blinds or something…

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