So I decided to take a gamble and go to California to retrieve the KTM I purchased 3 weeks ago. It is a 2006 KTM 950 Adventure with 4000 miles on the clock. The weather reports looked OK, if not stellar, but I have good gear, and I warned my boss that i might not get back into the office first thing monday morning. Friday flight to SFO and cab ride to Mark’s place, where the beast was being stored went with only the usual amount of drama associated with air travel these days. I had expected to receive extra attention during the “Security Theatre” as I was flying on a one-way ticket, but it was the normal routine.
Upon arriving at Chez Mark, Joe escorts me to the garage and there’s the beast. it’s even orange-er in person, if that’s possible. And it’s metallic orange, with green metalflake in it! the bike looks exactly as described, only better: this thing is basically brand new! if it had a new back tire on it, you’d swear it was right off the showroom. I’m very pleased, and set about getting my GPS and heated gear hooked up, with the help of Joe and his awesomely stocked toolbox. first trick: where do they hide the battery on a KTM 950 Adventure? Remove the seat, no not there. peer around next to the airbox, not there. hmm, there seems to be a lot of wiring headed towards the front of the skid plate. And the battery tender pigtail is in front of the rear brake lever. remove a couple of bolts, the skid plat pivots down and viola, the battery. some jiggery pokery to get wires routed (without removing the fuel tanks, which looks like a task), some zip-tie mastery, and everything lights up the way it should. I stuck a piece of dual-lock on the side of the GPS and stuck the heat-troller to it, and we’re good. A quick run to the shipping place to send the stock seat and stock windscreen home, then it’s off on the shakedown cruise, down to Los Altos and back, stopping to have dinner with an old friend I haven’t seen in 20 years. What a cool bike: feels a lot like my old F650, except it handles better and has twice the HP. wheee!
Joe writes down some route suggestions for me, and Mark primes the coffee maker. I’m the only one moving at 6:30 Saturday morning as I pack up and get loaded. I leave a scrawled ‘Thank You’ on the dining room table, go outside and start the bike. It’s only as I’m deploying the sky-crane to get my right boot over the seat that the front door opens and Mark appears, wishing me safe travels and a thumbs-up. And I’m off. First stop: a little town called Kentfield to meet a friend for Breakfast. It’s about 45 miles of mixed freeway and city driving, and the bike is pretty pleasant, it runs well, handles pretty good, if a little slow to respond to the tiller, but i put that down to the 21″ front wheel. It does seem a tad-lean on the pilot/needle transition in the carbs, hunting a bit at 35mph or so in 2nd/3rd gear.
Breakfast handled, I gas up (twin fuel tanks, and both will gush gas back at you if you’re not careful how you have the nozzle pointed when you pull the trigger). I realize I have no idea how much fuel it holds, make a note that it’s at least the 4 gallons I just put in, and hit the road in earnest, motoring up 101 under gray skies. In about 25 miles, my heat-troller is loose, flopping around in the wind, and my right earplug is killing me. OK, I can take a hint. I stop in Santa Rosa, remount the HT (black and white dual lock doesn’t play well together), reposition the earplug and motor on. 350 miles of awesome roads later, with only about 10 minutes of rain the whole way, I see the sign that says “welcome to Oregon, Michael and Judy, next left”. I motor up to the Giant Road Burrito and greet Michael and Judy. I think i see a smidgen of bike lust in Michael’s eyes. 🙂
Michael and Judy took great care of me, providing a hot shower, hot chicken enchiladas, and a nice port to round out the evening. A perfect way to end a great day of riding.
Sunday broke grey and damp, but not actually raining. A check of the weather forecast was inconclusive; change of rain most of the way up the Oregon coast. A check of the various passes over the coast range showed no anticipated problems crossing over to I-5 where ever I decided to. I get my stuff packed and while I’m doing that Michael makes me a ‘bronze’ mocha (in honor of a fallen friend: it’s a 20 oz. quad shot mocha); I thanked him and told him that if the bike didn’t start I’d just push it to Gold Beach. “One handed” sez Michael! I “Mocha up” and get ready to go. I get a recommendation for a restaurant to check out for breakfast (apparently run by an ADV rider) and hit the road. It’s about 7:15 AM.
A short ride to Gold Beach, search out the “Barnacle Bistro” only to find it closed. Oh well, back-track to The Cape Café and settle in with a coffee and the 2-egg breakfast. As I chow down, the sun breaks out and the sky turns a lovely blue. I gear up to head out, making sure to change to the tinted shield, and I’m on my way. For the next 3 – 4 hours, I work my way up the coast, from small town to picturesque bridge to small town. My GPS says Hwy 18 is the ‘shortest’ route home, and it leads through some of my old stomping grounds, so I go that way. Shortly after departing the coast, I have my only near-brush with Officer Friendly. We are climbing up the hills out of Newport, and there’s a ditz in a minivan doing 53.5MPH in a 55 zone, with 7 – 8 cars backed up behind her. We get to a passing lane, and she camps out in the left lane, so those of us behind (myself and about 6 cars) proceed to go around on the right. As soon as I’m clear, I shift left and get on it, hoping to get out of the clot of cages for the run to the summit. As we round a sweeping right-hander, with me pulling out in front the pack, at about 80 per, I spot Mr. friendly parked in the turn-out, with his testicle-toaster hanging out the window. I gently roll off the gas, as does everyone around me. Whew, no way he’s going to be able to pick me out of that pack. We gently motor past and my heart rate returns to normal.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, with two notable events; while stopped for my final gas stop in Chehalis, I put the helmet on the mirror (yes, I know better; I was getting tired) so I could move the bike away from the pump, and while pushing it, the helmet bails and lands face-shield down on the tarmac. ARRRGGG! Oh well, that shield was ready for replacing anyway. And the sun’s almost down, so I swapped it out for the clear one that I took off over 350 miles ago. Upon arriving home, I discover that I also cracked the side cover on the helmet, so I’ll have to fix or replace that. The other noteworthy event, even though wholly predictable, was the speed at which the temperature dropped after the sun went down; with no cloud cover to hold heat in, the mercury plummets! And I discovered that the heated grips on this bike are ‘california’ heated grips: Ok for taking the morning chill off, but not up to the job of keeping your hands warm in the northwest in feburary. I arrived home about 7:23 PM, feeling a bit tired but not beat up in any way and very pleased with my purchase.
keep those feet up, and the rubber side down.