Thursday, April 18, 2019

GSA/EZS Last Day Wrap Up


The last ride day on the road was a long slog across a swath of Texas. 




Started early in Sanderson before most people were up. The streets and town were strangely empty for a Tuesday morning. The schools buses were not even out yet. 


From Sanderson, only 132 miles to Del Rio via Langtry, Home of Judge Roy Bean of Old West Frontier Justice fame. Near the border in Del Rio turn left and head east for Uvalde. Only 54 miles away. Dash gauge shows I've only ridden 135 miles on this tank of gas. Another 54 miles should be no problem. Remember I calculated on the second day that this rig has a 220-250 mile range...
Passing the 24 miles to Uvalde sign, a light on the dash flashes, signaling I have 18 miles of gas left.... Oh, oh... Hmmm, not so good. 

Maybe the gas gauge goes through the second half of the tank faster than it does the first half. 
Or calculations of range when riding a leisurely 55-60 are not the same as when riding at 75+ mph?  
Ya think?

Make note to self... start carrying a spare gas can, preferably full of gas. 

Riding strategy time: stay in sixth gear, drop the rpms to 3000 and hold the speed around 45 in order to maximize fuel economy. Done.

Every 'miles to Uvalde' sign passed says more miles to ride than what the dash information is telling me the bike can do. 

At the border checkpoint, guards ask questions, want to know all about the cool rig. When I ask if anyone there can sell me a gallon of gas. Sorry Charlie, not today. 
Oh, by the way, "Are you a US citizen?"

Spotting a railroad service truck, swing over to ask if they have gas. 
"Sorry, all of our trucks use diesel fuel."

Nursing the bike along, hoping and praying. We finally roll pass the Uvalde city limits sign, coasting into first gas station encountered with 2 miles remaining of fuel. The station is old and run down. Since BMW recommends using premium fuel I select that and try to start the pump. Hmmm... seems no one comes to this station to buy premium as the lever is stuck, difficult to move to open the position. Oh oh, there might be water or contaminants in this stale premium fuel. Decide to pump just enough to get me across town to the newer stations where I can buy fresh premium fuel. 

Back on the road we roll on, passing through heavy congested San Antonio traffic, merging onto Interstate 10 to Houston.

Moving along fine at 75+ passing the eighteen wheelers, pickups and cars for 40 miles until traffic slows down to a crawl... Finally coming to a complete standstill.  Is there an accident ahead? Why the back up?

Sitting on the hot pavement of the Interstate with a 75 mph speed limit, we are moving along at zero mph. Soon the sound of the bike's radiator fan is heard. Engine is heating up, not enough air flow.  

Only later as traffic pokes along do we finally reach a sign that says left lane closed ahead, merge right. Road construction...


By 4:30 that afternoon I ride up the driveway at home in Cypress. With just enough time to unload the rig, clean up, and go to the monthly club photo competition night. 

Took one of my favorite Black and White images, came home with a third place ribbon. Tough competition that night. Were many great entries in all three categories.


***********************

Rode 1881 miles from the Pacific coast of California back home to southeast Texas.  The electric heating jacket was needed several mornings and well as sunscreen in Big Bend.
Drank lots of water to stay hydrated. 



Nearing home, took some photographs of the rig's three tires to study for wear.

Rear car tire looks to be wearing evenly across the face.



Looking straight on at the front tire, it appears to be wearing a little more to the left due to the slight lean out of the bike. That is considered normal.



The sidecar tire viewed from behind, indicates a little more wear to the outside, away from the tub. That doesn't seem right but will check with the experts before making a final judgement.


Overall am very pleased with the GSA/EZS sidecar rig. 
It is everything I hoped it would be and more... much more! 
Feels very planted on the road at all speeds. 
Easy to steer and handle.
Comfortable for long hours in the saddle.
Very well built and solid subframe.
The bike has more than enough power to do anything you ask of it.
The sidecar is aerodynamic giving little wind resistance.
The tub body is thick fiberglass, sturdy with a steel cage around it.
The BMW GSA is a huge machine, larger than the GS or any other BMW model, 
but handles smoothly, with little effort.

I can see this rig giving me many, many, many miles of riding pleasure. 

That may be this rig's well earned new name...

Big  Ezy

Ride safe and long my friends,


CCjon




Monday, April 15, 2019

GSA/EZS - Part 5


Rode a lot of miles but didn't get much closer to home. One of those bucket list roads to ride for me has been the river road between Presidio and Terlingua. Today we rode it.

Left Van Horn going southeast to reach Marfa, then go south to Presidio. There turn left and follow the river road to Terlingua. In Terlingua you can turn left and go north to Alpine, or go straight into Big Bend National Park.
  
This slight detour, looks like a big dip on the map,  but well worth it.



But first, near Marfa sits a famous landmark, the Prada store.


But to really appreciate this storefront (sculpture), you need to see what's around it.


That's right. Miles and Miles of dry West Texas dirt. There is Prada merchandise in the display window but the doors are never open. No hours posted either.

Who says the desert can't have fine art?

A little further, around the bend, up pops a larger than life cut out of James Dean.


Next to a young Elizabeth Taylor...

Plus a studio built mansion complete with director and actors.


The film GIANT was set in this area of Texas. What was surprising was, when I turned off the rig and pulled my earplugs, there was music coming from the yellow convertible's radio.


Turning on to Route 170 in Presidio, the river road follows along the Rio Grande to Terlingua.  This road is infamous for its many twists, turns, ups and downs, and very narrow bridges. There is no road on the Mexican side of the river.


Here is a better view of what little water divides the US from Mexico. In one narrow spot, there was a small herd of cattle grazing on both sides and standing in the river. The water was no more than a couple of feet wide and shallow. 

A fence would not be needed along this section as on the Mexican side are rugged desolate mountains. There are easier places for illegals to sneak across than way out here. Then on this side is the park with miles and miles and miles of nothing but desert to cross. 



Riding Big Bend was hot, hot, hot... and dry today. The risk of sunburn was real. 

Finally stopped for the night in Sanderson, Texas. A very small town with a convince store that sells gas and one motel. 

Ride safe and far my friends,  tomorrow we head a little north and then east.

CCjon



Sunday, April 14, 2019

GSA/EZS Part 4

Today Sunday, left the mountains of Globe, AZ, through the Apache Reservation, crossed part of New Mexico, dropped down thru El Paso only to land in the low scrub brush waste lands of Van Horn, Texas. 

Previous memories of Van Horn are not positive. The final drive on my 2002 BMW disintegrated here trying to complete an Iron Butt 1500 miles in 24 hours ride. Was 925 miles into the ride, all going according to plan, when the rear wheel bearings gave up the ghost. The rear wheel started wobbling and wiggling.  Had to rent a U-Haul truck to carry the bike home for repairs.


Route 70 east out of Globe crosses the Apache Reservation, winding along ridges, high plains and mountains. No cactus here but more desert flowers in colorful bloom. These are the state flower of Texas, Bluebonnets. They only bloom for approximately a month each spring. 


Looking to the south towards Tucson, there is a mountain range, not sure of its name.... 
but what is the white spec on top?


Riding closer, we get a better look-see. 



We are in the dry hot deserts of southern Arizona, and further south are snow capped peaks.


Maybe we need to rethink our travel plans. Was planning a swing up north and stop in Angel Fire, NM for a day or two, after all, this is April. Checking weather.com, temps this week there are a low of 28, not getting above 40 until close to noon, with a high of 52. Hmmmm...

Well, northern NM is out.  I did not bring my heavy Alaska riding gear for this trip. I did bring the electric jacket which I have used most mornings.

Let's look at the map.
Option 1. Swing north at Las Cruces going up as far as Alamogordo and then due east thru west Texas to Waco, but have done west Texas many times.

Option 2. Ride Interstate 10 all the way back to Houston. Dreadful thought. Shoot me now!

Option 3.  Stay on I-10 as far as Van Horn, turn right and go south thru Big Bend National Park.  Haven't been to Big Bend in many years.  Option 3 it is. 

Now to get to Van Horn. the western access to Big Bend. 

 In Lordsburg, NM we get on I-10 east and roll on the throttle. The GSA/EZS gobbles up the miles cruising at 75, then at 80+ after we cross into Texas. Strong side winds coming north out of Mexico try to blow me out of the saddle but have no affect in the rig. It tracks where I point it and holds the line. No wander around. 

Stopped at a NM rest area to re-hydrate. The thin mesquite trees do not provide much shade. They keep their small leaves year-round.


Spotted two different coyotes crossing the road today. 

Overlooking Las Cruces, NM in the valley below, is a large bird that seldom flies. It can fly but prefers to stay on the ground... the roadrunner.

You can make up your own story about Wylie Coyote and this giant roadrunner.


Tomorrow, Big Bend...

Ride safe and far my friends,

CCjon

Saturday, April 13, 2019

GSA/EZS Part 3

Today rode from Parker, AZ on the California border to Globe, AZ, only 250 miles. GPS said it should take about four hours. Six hours later I finally arrived in Globe. The last hour was great twisting mountain two lane road. 

Decided to get off the road early though. The stress of riding through Phoenix on a beautiful Saturday when everybody was out and about was a bit much. Posted speed was 65, everybody was doing 75 +, and the highway patrol parked roadside did not seem to mind.  

The two previous nights I had to stop at several motels before finding a room. There was enough stress getting through Phoenix without having to worry about where I was sleeping tonight.  By getting off the road before 3 pm on a Saturday night assured me of getting a decent room. 

There was a comment made about how easy it is to fly the EZS chair because they are so light. This rig has given no indication that the chair wants to fly. I tried to fly it several times but to no avail. 
David the PO said he put 70# of lead shot over the sidecar axle. Plus the added box of OEM goods he gave me, plus my gear, plus a small ice chest to keep the water cold... there is enough weight to hold the chair on the road in the twists. 

One of the reasons the sidecar is so securely mounted to the bike is the rear upper strut is bolted through the top section of the main frame (red circle) and not attached to the rear subframe like so many other builders do. The bike's lighter rear subframe is held on by a smaller diameter bolt (green arrow). 




The lower sub frame is mounted in several spots tying the frame pieces to each other and to the bike. 



Today was mostly desert riding. Naturally we're in Arizona. 
A young single stalk cactus.



A grandpappy multi-branched cactus





Taking a tip from my friend Dom in Colorado, went looking for a good spot to catch the sunset in Globe. The directions from the hotel manager proved mis-leading, but found the Copper Rim School high on a ridge just as the sun was dipping below the horizon.










Tomorrow we set out for New Mexico, staying south of the freezing weather further north,
 paralleling Interstate 10 further south.

Ride safe and far, my friends,


CCjon





Friday, April 12, 2019

GSA/EZS - Part 2


Got as far as the Arizona Border before calling it a day, only 350 +/- miles. 
Tomorrow we traverse Arizona, again avoiding the interstate highways as much as possible.

Ride safe and far my friends,


CCjon

p.s. The back is holding up quite well. This machine smooths out the bumps and jolts. Am loving it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

What makes the GSA / EZS rig special? Part 1

This 2015 GSA-EZS rig is a new experience in driving Dutch. I say Dutch because the EZS sidecars are made in Holland. Very few of them are imported to the States, but they have a great reputation. Looking to learn what they're all about then pass on what I learn; both the good and the not so good. . . 

 Over the next couple of days, we'll ride together from coastal California to East Texas. So let's explore what it is about these rigs that makes everybody think they are so special

Part I

After David picked me up at the airport, found GSA/EZS patiently waiting in a garage in Santa Barbara, serviced and ready to hit the road. Needs a better monikor than EZS Adv?
Any suggestions?



David had sent several photos of the rig before we made a gentleman's agreement. If I would be a fine gentleman and send him a deposit, he would hold the rig a few weeks until I could travel out there. 

The California sun sure makes a rig look sharp.






Of course, I had to take a few of my own...




David mounted the tank bag for me, we added the Airhawk and Alaska Buttpad for the ride home. Other than that, David had it ready for a road trip.

Only rode about 50-70 miles today, before getting a room for the night. 
Have been up since 2 am CA time. 

Initial impression is the rig is solid, the bike and the sidecar work together as one unit. No twitching or flexing. Ground clearance is generous. It doesn't have hydraulic leveling, but doesn't seem to need it either. 

David thought it pulled slightly to the right, but when cruising Pacific Coast Highway 101 at 75, I felt no pulling at all. 
Tomorrow we'll put more miles on it crossing California then into Arizona with observations noted. 
Is getting around 34 mpg, that is a very positive note.

Now for one last photo with a glimpse of one of David's other rigs. Behind that one in the garage is a 1200RS with a Rukko(?) sidecar and center hub steering. It is beautiful, but not quite for sale. At least not yet..... David will let you know when he is ready...


Ride safe my friends, more to come as we make our way back home to Texas.

CCjon











Thursday, April 4, 2019

Out to Pasture goes Nikon

Have always traveled with either one or two cameras when going anywhere. Various small point-n-shoot pocket cameras has always been on board on all my travels. But when the trip calls for it, a larger DSLR camera for landscape shots with sharper details is carried too. 

Last weekend, was the wedding of our youngest son Sergio and Amanda. A professional photographer was hired for the wedding, but not for the rehearsal. Knowing they would have a pro taking wedding photos, I left the DSLR at home. Then seeing no one was taking photos at the rehearsal, out came the old reliable Nikon point-n-shoot.

The preacher explaining tomorrow's ceremony to Serg and Amanda.



The wedding venue is on a high cliff overlooking the green valley of fields below.  
Late afternoon light filters thru a canopy of leaves as mother of the bride watches over the rehearsal.


This Nikon point-n-shoot has been the old reliable camera for discrete street photography as well as quick snaps of people, places and events when the larger DSLR would attract too much attention. 

The other night, I took a few candid pix with the old Nikon at the photography club meeting. I noticed it was not getting the sharp details like before. Okay images but not great.





This pocket camera is a Nikon Coolpix S9900 with a Nikkor 30X power optical zoom lens. While it can still capture a decent image now and then.... it could do much better.


Now over the past week or so, I realized this camera has been banging around with me on motorcycles, sidecars, trucks, cars, trains and planes over the past six years. Been to Alaska several times, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, South Africa and many trips in between. 
Looking closer, it is showing its age...


Has a few nicks and dings... then noticed the guide letters are worn off. Who remembers if the shutter priority or manual mode was before or after the aperture priority? I don't!


Looking at the quality of recent photos and the condition of the camera itself, I realized it's time to open the wallet and find a replacement. 

Before reading volumes of camera reviews and recommendations, first is to decide what are my requirements in a point-n-shoot replacement. 

Not necessarily in order of priority...

1). Pocketable - no big lens sticking out, must be lightweight and fit in a side pocket
2) Discreet - people don't like having a big camera lens stuck in their face. Nothing chrome or flashy. In some cultures people demand payment for taking their photo or refuse completely.
3). Quality lens and sensor, extreme telephoto not needed. The DSLR camera handles that work.
4). Fast autofocus - some great photo opportunities only last a second or two, then are gone.
5). Better light gathering capabilities in low light situations
6). Captures great details for Black & White photo work
7). Easy to handle and use with one hand while riding a motorcycle
8). Durable to withstand bumps and drops
9). Proven design for quality photos and reliability
10). Affordable so not to worry too much about dropping in a river.

Then spent several days reading the various camera reviews, descriptions and reader comments to narrow down the camera field. Finally I selected a known brand that am already familiar with... a SONY.  Ordered one of their small point-n-shoot models... amazoned it.

The old Nikon Coolpix S9900 will soon be retired. Its replacement is in the mail.

On an upcoming Fly-n-Ride from California back to Texas in a few weeks, will put the new SONY through its paces. The photos taken during that trip will determine if the pocket SONY RX100 V was a good choice or not.

Ride safe ya'll

CCjon