IT’S NOT A TUMOR! (and a few other updates)

I don’t post personal stuff that often so here is one not about adventure on two wheels but the back story on why its almost October and I’m not back on the road yet.
I had a medical close call that was drawn out over most of this summer. When I was down in the desert Southwest earlier this spring, I noticed a little lump on the outside of my jaw , about the size of a jellybean. When my yearly check up came along in early June, the referral went through to the Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist where they did a biopsy and came back with a “likely cancer” diagnosis and “we need to get it out sooner then later”🥴. I offered the surgeon my pocket knife to get it out right then and there 🤭 but he wisely suggested we do it the following week in an operating room the right way….. whatever 🙄😉 Surgery was supppsed to be about 3 hours but ended up being 5 due to some suspecious looking lymph nodes under my jaw (which were removed too) I was eating bacon and eggs for breakfast in the hospital room the next morning asking when I can go home, so feeling pretty good. The only thing that really slowed me down was the “leash” of a drain tube that was only supposed to be in 3 days but stayed in 14!

After a full dissection and review by the pathology lab, it was determined NOT to be a tumor! 🙌🙏🙌🙏 The cyst needed to come out so the operation had to happen one way or the other. The scar would have been the same either way, luckily I can hide most of it in my beard. Currently about 4 weeks post op and still just enough swelling not to get a helmet on, at this pace it will be thanksgiving before I’m riding again🥴

I want to send out a huge thank you to Elsa for letting me recover from surgery at her house in Arlington and the cabin on Lake Bronson. Also for the funky brownies🤭😉 that kept me sedated and just stupid enough not to pull out my drain tube for those two weeks! Wouldn’t have made it through without your caring and support❤️ THANK YOU!

A few other things happened this year that are worthy of mention….. I’m down about 50 lbs after switching to a Keto’ish /low carb/clean eating diet. The food in South Louisiana around the holidays is always hard to avoid and the last few years have been rough. I made up my mind that I needed a change and just did it. The transition took 6-7 months so it was the slow and steady approach that worked for me.

Its actually been pretty easy going with just diet modification. I started cutting out 95%-98% the bread and gluten, then alcohol and starches like rice and potatoes. High fructose corn syrup and just about all other forms of sugar went too. I do put a teaspoon of honey and tablespoon of 1/2&1/2 in my morning coffee though. Another big piece was the processed oils and fast/fried food. Keeping it clean with whole, real food without all the additives and preservatives really makes a difference!

All this weight loss had a side effect of needing new gear🥴🙄 that actually fit me. My pants size dropped from a 38 to a very comfortable 34. New smaller Klīm K-51 riding jeans and a Klīm Carlsbad jacket from Revzilla were the first to be replaced as they will get used the most . The old jacket went to another T-7 owner in the PNW while the fat pants and several moto jearseys went to Heidi at Cruise in Consignment in Vancouver Washington. She’s a great lady that does good things within and for the riding community, worth a stop when in Vancouver. She has a cool patch making machine too!

I’ll finally be back on the road here in a couple weeks after my last 2 medical appointments🙌 Can’t wait!

Heading SE stopping in Denver to attend the grand opening of the new RevZilla store there where a few of my Colorado friends Brady and Tana will be working. Then its off to Arkansas to book the bulldozer guy for the driveway and parking pads on the property. Can’t get my van to the property without a good road back there.

Thanks to everyone that reached out through social media and text wishing me well for a quick recovery, staying positive throughout this entire ordeal really made a big difference!
One last thing….. if you feel a lump where one isn’t supposed to be GEAUX GET IT CHECKED OUT!

Clutch plates sticking?

Over the last little while, when starting my ride, there would be a rubbing/friction type sound for the first few feet of travel. Nothing major, but it did get a little annoying. Asking around to several knowledgeable contacts, they all said it was likely the clutch plates sticking until the oil pressure builds up inside the motor. When it went over to Kyle Plancich for its 3rd oil change at 15,000 miles, I told him of the issue. He wanted to find out for himself so he removed the cover and found a few of the inner clutch plates stuck together and as he called it “Atacama Desert dry”.😲😬
All the plates were removed, cleaned and soaked in an oil bath overnight. Putting it all back together and a test ride confirmed no more issues.
I have talked with Yamaha and other qualified technicians and they all say that is the correct corse of action to take. Because the clutch plates are a wear item, they aren’t covered by the warranty so I’ll want to get the maximum life out of them as I can. Thanks to all that passed along input for this seemingly minor issue. So if your T-7 starts off a little cranky😑 this is something that’s easily checked and corrected.

Thanks Kyle for digging into the motor to figure it all out!

Happy Birthday Tenere 700!

Happy 1 year birthday to the T-700! 13,500 miles across at least 15 states from coast to coast. It has been a great year!

Someone from a social media post suggested I list 10 things about this past year that were most memorable or my tips about the bike for the road, so here goes.

1 Seth Laam custom Seats

Watching a craftsman at work is always a treat. Seth started building seats as a teenager as an apprentice and now has almost more work then he can manage all by himself , mostly from word of mouth and social media. Which to me is a true measure of the quality of his work. Let’s keep him busy!

2 Cyclops Adventure Sports Aurora lights and turn signals

Darryl and Sandra VanNieuwenhuise of Cyclops lights in Kent Wa. are known across the industry for some of the best customer service in the business. Their lights are top notch, and when they aren’t, they want to make it right. I’ve had their lights in my bikes for almost a decade now. Super friendly and very approachable if you see them out at the rallies. You can’t go wrong with Cyclops!

3 Camel ADV Anti bobble head,Gut guard, Camel Toe sidestand, Camel Tank and High fender kit. After 20+ miles of a washboard road recently in Utah, my entire instrument cluster, headlights and windscreen would have shaken off without Cory’s ingenious design to reinforce the entire front end of the bike. I was also lucky enough to receive one of the first 1.3 gallon/ 5 Liter Camel Tank that was made for the T-7. After testing it twice by running it to empty(read the blog posts here and here ) I now can trust my range to 275 miles knowing I have a few miles to spare. Thank you Cory Hanson!

4 Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail
Last fall I completed the “T.W.A.T” with the help and support of many within the riding community, and several were even able to join me! Chad Barger designed the route across Wisconsin more than a decade ago and still provides the routes. He was kind enough to host me in his driveway while he and a few of his buddies showed me his favorite section. I also used Bunk a biker to find driveways to park in while I day looped each section from north to south. What is normally a 600 mile route took me more than 1200 miles…. and I enjoyed every single one! I want to thank everyone that helped me on my way🙌🙏

5 Dragon Slayer 160/ Backroads of Appalachia
The little town of Lynch Kentucky is struggling like many in the area with a shut down coal mine on their main street. However tough times are, there is a great community that is coming together to promote the glorious riding both on and off-road. The “Dragon Slayer is a 20ish mile section of super twisty pavement that goes all the way into Appalachia Virginia. It’s run by a non profit that’s staffed a group of great ladies. If you are anywhere near South East Kentucky, go see what they are all about and if you can hit it when the trees are turning, even better!

6 Arkansas
I rediscovered Arkansas this winter after being stationed there 27 years ago. Totally blown away with the great riding both on and off road. The land is pretty inexpensive too, I was able to purchase 10 acres of land that will be used as a travelers rest area, campground for overlanders and ADV riders on the Trans American Trail that’s not too far away. Access will only be through me until I can get it up and running, more to follow on that so stay tuned! Just watch out for the green slime on the low water bridges! 😯🤭

7 Jay Masterson
If you travel enough, you will find others that share your passion, Jay is one of those special people. If you are ever down near Big Bend National Park in Terlingua Texas, you should look him up. He’ll likely join you for a ride or at least a good meal. You can follow him here at Super bee ADV Tell him hi for me when you do!

8 Steve Loster
Steve and Patty Loster have been kind enough to host me a few times as I cross the country over the last several years. Steve is a PNW native that searched for warmer weather in sunny Tucson, he’s also a master level motorcycle mechanic and service manager at Arizona Kawasaki KTM and Triumph . He’s now helped keep both my bikes running as I’m on the road. A huge thank you to Steve and Patty also for the Keto diet tips! Y’all have stepped up my eating habits.

9 South Eastern Utah.
I don’t have much to say about that part of Utah other then it’s extremely beautiful and you need to set aside several weeks to ride it all! Go ride SE Utah!

10 Twisted Throttle, Denali Electronics
The great folks at Twisted Throttle were kind enough to let me try out a set Denali Electronics D7 4.5” multi LED lights and B6 brake light. I am really impressed at the amount of light these things put out! WOW! The B-6 brake light is even brighter then my OEM tail light! Thank you Erik and your crew!

2 Wheeled Dynoworks

In the last week or so, I’ve made 2 trips out to Kirkland Wa. to see the guys at 2 Wheeled Dynoworks . The 1200 Super Tenere had a stock muffler put back on and members in the PNW Tenere group advised it get re-tuned. While there, I found out they were running a sale on all their flashes so I returned with the T-700 to get it flashed.

The PNW Tenere group go way back with 2WDW, all the way back to 2015 when Nels showed up with his Dyno trailer at our tech day one rainy November morning on the Olympic Peninsula. He flashed and/or dyno’d over a dozen bikes that day. Check out that blog post here. It was a great day!

Pulling up to the shop yesterday I was ready to get the bike offloaded from the Joe Hauler but the “Grand flash master”😉 Nate said that wasn’t necessary and he could reflash the bike where it was… SCORE! All it took was a plug connection under the rear fender to a laptop and 5 minutes later, all done! That simple…

To say they have been busy is an understatement, even pertaining to just the Yamaha Tenere 1200 and 700. Nels and Nate say they are doing dozens of 1200’s a month while the same number of T-700’s a week! Wow! The guys use social media quite a bit to get their word out, especially over at Tenere
I mentioned they are running a sale this month (June 2021) for the flashes so send in your ECU for a quick turn around to get a little more power, smoother throttle response and you’ll run a bit cooler too. All around great guys that run an excellent full service motorcycle shop for all your performance needs! Make sure you tell them hi for me!

US 191 from Douglas Az. to Bozeman Mt with a few side loops

Douglas to Bozeman

Douglas Arizona is where this post starts, this was after riding around the area with friends Steve and Mark for more than a week. ( see my earlier blog post ) US 191 starts at the historic US 80 and parts of it was once numbered 666 but it was changed years ago, read more about that here . The first loop off of US 191 was the National Black Hills back Country Biway, a rocky and twisty gravel road with huge views.

The biway ends just before the town of Clifton and the Morenci mine then heads up to Alpine for 100 miles of some of the best motorcycle pavement in the US. ( but watch out for the livestock in the road)

North of Alpine the scenery drastically changes to very flat and straight but as you approach the Utah border, rock formations start appearing as you get into the “Monument valley” area. Or put another way “Where Forest Gump stopped Running” ( that’s not actually US 191 in the movie but only a few miles west on US 163)

I pulled into Bluff Utah for a night just so I could go ride the Moki Dugway and see the “Mexican Hat” again, Having done it on the 1200 Super Tenere in 2018, I wanted to revisit it on the T-7.

From there it was out to the ferry across Lake Powell to the Bullfrog Marina in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. With the lake so low, you really need to call and check if the ferry is running, I got real lucky but still drug the hitch carrier on my way off the boat in Bullfrog because of the angle of the bank.

This side trip off US 191 was to do the Burr Trail from just outside the Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell to Utah 12 in Boulder. I was told it’s about the perfect mix of twisty pavement, gravel and dirt switchbacks, so I needed to go check it out and wasn’t disappointed, all the tales were true!😍

After the Burr trail – Boulder- Torrey- Capital Reef NP -Old Notom Rd loop, I loaded back up and headed to US191 the long way around through the Glen Canyon. It’s over 100 miles with the first 50 or so riding through the steep walled canyon before crossing the Colorado River.

Onward to Moab to meet up with my sister Sarah and brother-in-law Jimmy whom are also full time #vanlifers in their class C. It was so cool to meet up with them! They were waiting on their reservation to get into Zion a few days later.

The original goal of going back through Moab for me was to ride and complete Longs Canyon Rd and “Pucker Pass”. A road I didn’t finish my last time through in 2018 on the Super Tenere. This was as far as I made it because just past this boulder, it climbs 600’ in only a hundred yards or so. Hence the name “pucker pass”.

I decided to first try to see what it looked like if I were to start at the top and work my way down. Here was my view at the switchback about 600’ up in elevation from the big boulder (down on the left just out of view). It was also too steep for me on my T-700 , if I’d have had a Yamaha TW-200, then I might have tried it😉

So from that spot, I decided to go back all the way around on the pavement and come up Longs Canyon Rd. The scenery is breathtaking!

After a couple nights with Sarah and Jimmy, I continued north through Vernal. Near there, is a turn off to “9 mile canyon” I’ll be returning there after the summer to explore that area on my way to Arkansas. That night was spent in Rock Springs Wyoming after going through the Flaming Gorge area, where more scenic vistas awaited. I stayed with former veteran and current game warden Andy Roosa. Thanks Andy for letting me park in the driveway for the night.

North across western Wyoming is pretty boring until you stop for an ice cream at the Farson Mercantile, order the baby scoop, your blood sugar will thank you.
That night I hung out with old friend and classmate (since kindergarten) Jen Holmes and her daughter Melanie in Pinedale . Always good to catch up with old friends!
On the road early continuing north through Jackson was the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks with beautiful blue skies and quiet impressive scenery.

On the north side of the park there were a few bison in the road, then more and more came sauntering down the pavement not giving a care in the world about the vehicles. Slowly making our way past them, in the other lane, was a line of cars heading south that was 3-4 miles long at a dead stop. Wouldn’t want to have been stuck there, that’s for sure!

Rolling through the town of Big sky Montana, I noted it was aptly named…

Not much farther was the end of my journey north in the town of Bozeman. There I hopped on Interstate 90 west to Washington after a “Bunk a biker” stay with Dutch and Shirley. Thanks guys for the great steak!

Not sure how many miles it was and I lost track of the days it took so I oddly don’t have those numbers because I was really enjoying the entire ride up. The parts I did on the bike were excellent and view from behind the windshield were just as spectacular. This one highway stretching across the country has to be one of the most scenic! Get out and make your own adventure!

Twisted Throttle and Denali lights

So, working with many of the motorcycle aftermarket parts companies, I’ll occasionally get asked to try out products, good gig, huh?
Old friend Erik Stephens from Twisted Throttle and his marketing director Marisa McInturff offered to let me try out a set of their Denali D-7 4.5” flood lights. Hard to say no to an offer like that? Right!?! ( I gladly accepted)
Because I was already on the road and heading west, I had them sent to my friends Steve and Patty Loster’s house in Tucson. Steve and Patty both work at the Kawasaki, KTM and Triumph dealer in town. Steve is the service manager and Patty is the financing manager. Since the shop is also a Twisted Throttle dealer, Steve was more then qualified to do the install. He was able to do the install in his garage while I was out getting my hitch carrier upgraded at Joehauler in San Marcos a few weeks back. The install is the simplest form, the D-7’s are hooked directly to the battery and controlled by a single switch that’s activated when the key is on. It’s all 15,330 lumens on or off, there isn’t a dimmer wired in. They are mounted to the SW Motech crash bars tucked in as far as possible to avoid being knocked off in case of a tip over. THANKS Steve for the seamless install!

Here is the product description of the Denali D-7’s from the Twisted Throttle website

At over 15,000 lumens the DENALI D7 light kit is one of the brightest LED lights under 4.5 inches period. A pair of D7s feature 14 high-intensity 10-watt LEDs that are focused through a proprietary single-piece optic specifically engineered to create a full bodied spot beam that can reach over 1500ft at an intensity of 1.0 lux. A pair of D7s will outshine 14 D2 lights and produces more than twice the light output of the D4. Not only are the new D7s incredibly bright but they’re strong too. The robust heatsink and Active Thermal Management work together to keep this high-powered lamp cool enough to maintain maximum light output when you need it most. 

Because the new D7 has so much power there’s no need for a selection of optics. The standard optic set benefits from the raw power of this array to have best-in-class spot coverage at a distance perfect for picking out wildlife way beyond the range of your motorcycle’s normal high beam. With lumens to spare the D7’s optics were designed to preserve a near-flood-beam pattern resulting in an amazingly wide (200ft) beam that helps illuminate the sides of the road. In a way the combination of incredible intensity and optics that are neither too distance-focused or flood-oriented is the best of both worlds. 

I can say without a doubt that these things put out lots of light!
When taking pictures for this post, it was difficult to take night shots because of a mount of lumens these things produce. I also haven’t fully mastered taking good pictures yet 🤭😉

In addition to the D-7’s, I had requested a Denali B-6 license plate brake light. The B-6 normally mounts to bottom of your license plate but because of the Camel ADV tail tidy and the angle the plate sits at, Steve thought it best to mount it on top of the plate. It gives the LED’s a more direct rear facing mounting point. The double brake lights along with the Cyclops multifunctional turn signals all together, make a VERY visible rear end in full daylight or at night.

I hope this little post helps sell a few Denali lights , it’s all really good products from a company I’ve done business with for over a decade. Heck, even the founder of the company has hosted me twice at his house, thanks Erik! Also, personally knowing most of the people behind the scenes that run all the companies I’ve mentioned here makes me want to help out where I can.
Twisted Throttle , Camel ADV, Joe Hauler and Cyclops Adventure Sports

The Desert Southwest of the USA

These past 3 weeks have been pretty good! Meeting up with old friends and new, helping others and being cared for by more than a few. What a wonderful adventure motorcycle community we have! So grateful to everyone in it❤️

So to: Steve and Patty, Joe, Sherry, Jay, Sterling, Marsha, Rachelle, Mark and lastly Lisa and Jeff. THANK YOU!