Taking inventory

So, we leave for Alaska in just over 6 weeks. I think that I’m mostly prepared (by which I mean “vastly overprepared”). Forgive me as I have a bit of a public brain dump here.

me.

  • Eyes: I got contact lenses two weeks ago, which, as far as I can tell, are a marketing ploy for the companies who manufacture eyedrops. Aside from that particular small fortune spent at the local drugstore, I really like the contacts. It’s so much easier to ride without the glasses shoved into the helmet. I think they’ll work out pretty well for the trip. I have really dry eyes, but staring at the computer screen seems to be a lot more uncomfortable than riding, even with the visor cracked open a tiny bit.
  • Wrists: Not going as well as I’d like lately. Peter helped me adjust my handlebars after doing my forks last weekend, and I really like the new posture…hopefully that’s not what’s causing the numbness/pain. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the relatively large amount of typing at work lately is the culprit instead. I see the chiropracter again tomorrow, and I’ve been doing weight lifting for my forearms to try and coerce them into shape. I need to find some accessible and roughly 3-lb item that I can use on the trip for forearm exercises. Hrm. I can’t think of anything that heavy that I’m bringing along anyway.
  • Random other ailments that don’t affect my riding: The biggest pain in the ass right now is assembling all of my prescription medicines into border-crossing-friendly containers. This means keeping the original prescription containers, some of which are inexplicably huge. I hate the thought of using up valuable saddlebag space for monstrous pill containers. Rarrrr!

the bike.

  • General maintenance: I’ll be doing the 32k mile service within the next few weeks, which will cover all of the general maintenance that I’ll need to do before the trip. Gotta make sure that bolts are tight this time — the section of any given service that I’m most likely to skip or slack on.
  • Fuel system: Running well. I’ll sync the carbs at the 32k service, but other than that, everything’s good.
  • Electrical system: Seems to be fine, after replacing the voltage regulator. I’ve been putting the bike on the battery tender overnight about once a week, but I don’t think that’s strictly necessary. I’m waffling about bringing a small tender on the trip. Thoughts? It’s almost heavy enough to also use as a weight for those forearm exercises….
  • Cooling system: Also doing fine. I’ll top off the coolant (well, water wetter) during the 32k service. I don’t think we’ll be in cold enough weather to have to swap out the water wetter for “real” coolant.
  • Suspenson: I just did the forks, and the shock will be fine for the trip. Tony’s recent suspension adventures have me wondering whether I should replace my shock, but that’s definitely a post-trip mod. The 10w fork oil seems to be working pretty well — I need to do the ol’ zip-tie trick and measure the dive to see if I need to add more or anything. Maybe I’ll try to remember to do that tonight.
  • Brakes: My front brakes are still not working as well as I’d like. They feel really squishy. I may just need to put new fluid in them again — I did a no-no and used an open bottle of DOT 3 when I just bled the system. I thought it might be OK as I’d recently opened the bottle, but maybe not. I have sealed bottles at home, and it’s not like it takes that long to flush the system. I should do that this week, so that I can continue investigating if the brakes still feel squishy after that.
  • Tires: I think the current tires will be fine for the trip. I usually get 9k-10k out of a pair, and these will have about 2k when I leave. Assuming a 6k trip on marginally shitty roads, I should be fine until we get home, at which point I’ll replace the tires again. As far as flats go, both Tony and I have plug kits for our tubeless tires. Steph has tubed tires, which makes me a bit nervous; I need to remind her to photocopy the pages of her manual which go over removing the rear wheel (Steph, does this count as a reminder? *grin*).
  • Misc: I ordered handguards from a KLR650 yesterday, which was the last aftermarket part I needed for the trip. I’m anticipating having to dremel them a bit so they’ll clear the windscreen; we’re going to be talking the world’s ugliest handguards here. But I won’t care one bit so long as they keep wind/rain/gravel/bugs off of my hands.

gear.

  • Jacket(s): I’ll definitely be bringing the Kilimanjaro jacket; I’m waffling about bringing the Helimot leather one. I love that jacket, but it’ll probably be too thin for most of the ride. I have an unnatural attraction to Evil Robot pictures while touring, though….hrm. I’ll obviously also bring the Gerbing electric vest.
  • Pants: No-brainer; all I have are the Helimot leather ones.
  • Boots: Again, a no-brainer: the Daytona LadyStars. Gotta remember to clean and waterproof these again.
  • Gloves: Helmut was making noise about giving me a pair of their new gloves to review on the trip. Must remember to call him and ask about that. My Held gloves are in decent shape, if that doesn’t pan out.
  • Helmet: Still doing well. It’s starting to get that loose feeling from the cheek padding gradually compressing, but I don’t see any reason not to bring it on the trip.
  • Rain gear: I’ll bring my two-piece TourMaster rain suit, though I’ll most likely only wear the pants. From all accounts, the Kilimanjaro jacket is waterproof, so I won’t need a rain jacket on top of that. In fact, I’m contemplating bringing the rain jacket only if I also decide to bring the Helimot leather jacket. My gear is sort of turning into a Choose Your Own Adventure here.

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9 Responses to Taking inventory

  1. Alex says:

    Carolyn,
    Regarding your brakes (even though I know you just replaced the pads), you might look at
    A.) Stainless steel lines, or
    B.) EBC HH+ Pads.
    I replaced my front brake pads, and I got exactly what your speaking of. They stopped, but it required a good amount of force, and it was “squishy” rather than a hard focus point in the lever.
    Just for grins, I switched out the OEM replacement pads with the EBC HH+ pads. Just that alone seemed to get rid of a good portion of the squishyness. Feel much better in general.
    Now I just have to figure out how to get these stainless steel lines on. Go get some so I have a tutorial to follow! j/k :)

  2. carolyn says:

    Oh, I wish. If I could find stainless steel brake lines that were within my pre-trip budget, I’d be all over that.
    The new brake pads are EBC, but they’re Kevlar, not HH+(sintered).
    I hope it’s just the fluid. I haven’t had any “oh shit” moments from hard braking or anything, but it definitely takes more effort/space to brake than it used to. Very disconcerting.

  3. B says:

    What do people like Greg Frazier do for jackets? They can’t possibly be riding around the world with more than one “good” jacket with armor. Those things take up lots ‘o space!
    What’s your accessory wiring look like? 12v for the iPod and the GPS and the vest? Geez, starting to sound like my SV. :-)
    Re: brakes; you put new pads on? Are they bedded in yet?
    Do you have the Kilimanjaro Air jacket? I was looking at one of those this weekend.

  4. tony says:

    It’s a little hazy now, but I definitely remember reading a reader’s letter in a moto mag (MCN? Cycle World? Rider?) chastising one of the editors when he suggested consolidating prescription pills into smaller containers. The reader stated emphatically that putting prescription drugs into anything other than their original container is illegal in all 50 states. There was no mention of keeping the labels. The magazine printed the letter, and offered no rebuttal of the reader’s claim. Just FYI.

  5. carolyn says:

    That sounds familiar to me, too, Tony, now that I think of it. Some of the kids on ST.N recommended asking my doctors/pharmacy for smaller travel-sized “legal” pill containers (apparently they keep some around for just this purpose — who knew?), so that’s the current plan.
    I’m planning on bringing copies of the prescriptions, though, just in case. One of my pill containers opened up in my tailbag once….on a night that I rode home from Peter’s old house in the rain. I ended up with pill sludge all over my tailbag, and a month’s worth of asthma medication ruined. If something like that happens on the trip, I want to make sure I can get a refill in the next big town.
    I realize that it probably sounds fairly odd that I’m so concerned about the medication aspect of the trip. I don’t talk much about the fact that I take eight different daily medications, any of which would make life unpleasant were I to stop taking them for any reason (loss, confiscation, whatever). ;-)

  6. sharad says:

    Wow, looks like the travel plans are in full swing.
    Did you say you put DOT 3 fluid in your brakes? I thought that Suzuki required DOT 4 in the SV… at least that’s what I use. I guess the only real difference between DOT 3 and DOT 4 are the boiling points, so that shouldn’t be a big deal.
    Definitely make sure the brakes are well-bled; I just replaced the fluid in my front lines and until I got all the little air bubbles out, the brake feel was high on the squish factor.

  7. sharad says:

    Oh, and regarding contacts and the various and sundry solutions required for them: don’t forget the eyedrops for rewetting them when they dry out from the wind!

  8. wookiee says:

    Huh. Maybe too much typing is why my wrists bother me on long rides.

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