Shakedown cruise to Panama City

The actual ride to Panama City from Gainesville is an easy 240 miles of varied riding that takes less than 4 hours to include gas stops and a rest stop. Had to start somewhere on a shakedown ride with the trailer and this was almost mandatory prior to the run in on the 9th of October for a 1,200 mile run in 30 hours to Cambridge, MA.

Was hoping for an 8 hour sleep prior to the run but ended up packing and repacking more than once. Was trying to figure out what was really needed and how to order the packing so it could be unpacked in the rain and into a tent without ruining the electronics while keeping clothes dry. Also, had to consider what to pack in the trailer as it did not have shocks and the slide projector and computers could be damaged in route. Ended up with this configuration.

One of the nice things about a classic motorcycle is that the command center is simple. As you can see from the photo there is not much to track on. A speedometer and a GPS. Everything else comes through the senses. It is almost as if the rider and the bike becomes one. Some of the more expensive bikes have stereo systems, reverse gear, communication phones between the driver and rider as well as who knows what else.

As the proud owner of a VStar 1100, could not pass on this complement for Harley Davidson motorcycles. The  best product the Harley Davidson motorcycle company ever came up with was this plastic kick-stand support system and it only goes for about $10. Would not think of going anywhere without it.

Simplicity has its drawbacks. For example, the trailer weighs just under 200 pounds and maybe there is another 200 pounds of load. That is four hundred extra pounds that has to be pushed with foot power when backing up in a parking space. We have not even computed the basic weight of the bike which is over 800 pounds. Not to be ignored is the process of backing a trailer up to go where you want it to turn towards. That means parking spaces are chosen with great care so that reverse does not include an uphill push. Took a photo to demonstrate the considerations of choosing a parking space in what may not even be a consideration in a car. Click on the photo to see what place you would choose.

On the way out, stopped for gas and the door was opened in the gas station where they filled the soda pop glasses. Looking at the behind the scenes of the soda pop in cardboard boxes and the visual from the front snapped my mind back to the article I had seen in the Wall Street Journal on a study where soda pop was linked to obsity in the US. Took a close look at all the gas stations on the route and came to the conclusion the only thing sold was sugar, gas, beer and condoms. There has to be a nexus but for now it is beyond my reach.

‘…A huge, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans has yielded the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying a person’s risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity alone….’Studies strengthen the case against sugary drinks as culprits in obesity epidemic

The front tire felt mushy and out of control on the lawn. Also, the engine seemed to be straining as I have never heard it howl before. About 20 miles into the ride there was a rest stop on I-75 and decided to pull of and drop the water. I had two 2.5 gall jugs of water to simulate the weight of gas pack in the cooler. Everyone in the rest stop wondered what kind of craziness I was into but draining out the 40 pounds or so of water made all the difference in the world as to the strain on the engine and handling of the bike. The Dragon Princes lifted up her tail and attacked the highway at at highway speeds plus without batting an eyelash. Will have to figure a way to trim 40 pounds of weight so I can haul gas in Canada.

It is pushing 2400 hours and batteries are down. So, will close with this note of insight. I am often asked why do those who ride wear vests. This is not a cult thing but a thing well grounded in practicalities of life on the road. You see, there is no other place to store bagels on the road. So, we stick them inside the vest and then when the hunger stricks on the road, you simply pull one out and munch.

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