Sunday, October 2, 2016

Carlsbad: The final Stage

Sunday morning dawned to a beautiful morning. Enough  of nerves and emotions for everyone. What had started 2 years earlier as a quest, had reached the final day. One more mountain to climb.

After some minor clutch adjustments, my 8:30 start time rolled around, and we headed up route 74. Eleven miles of climbing right off the start. The Indian was running really well, and what a joy it was climbing out of Palm Desert. As the road twisted and climbed, you could look out over the valley, each switchback higher and higher. It was a glorious ride, cresting on a beautiful plateau. We turned on route 371, thru Anza, and followed it back down towards civilization.

We had one last scheduled lunch stop at Temecula. I got there early, and had over an hour before the departure time. We ate, talked to the crowd, each other, then finally headed for Carlsbad. The traffic was bad leaving Temecula, making the motors run hot, but we finally got out of town and on some open roads.

It was on on of these open sections, running along about 45 mph, that I heard the familiar sound of a motor exhaling thru the intake valve. I pulled off, and sure enough the rear intake valve was wide open. Pulling the intake dome revealed a broken valve spring, but the spring keepers were gone. Determined to finish, I changed the spring, and secured it with a large cotter pin I had. I didn't know where the spring keepers had gone, but I was willing to chance it. I buttoned the valve train back up, started the bike, and the front intake hung open. So back off the bike I came, and removed the front valve dome. Both keepers were in the front intake valve, so I removed them and started reassembly. By this time I had quite an audience, including the chase truck. In the heat of the moment, I cross threaded the intake valve tensioning nut in the dome, and despite all our efforts at chasing these
threads, my time had run out.

So there on the side of the road, 28 miles from Carlsbad, my 2016 Cannonball ended. After all the effort, help, highs and lows, I had come up just a little short. Some days the bear does in fact get you.

But what an incredible experience and challenge, riding a 102 year old motorcycle across this country. It's always the unexpected that stands out, whether a particular road, event, or personal interaction that stands out in your memory. You never know when it's going to happen, so you keep pushing on.

Doug Jones 2016 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Stage 14

Stage 14 started nice as we headed out of Lake Havasu into the desert. We had a hundred mile stretch with no services, so everyone was carrying spare fuel. My fuel tank had been leaking again the day before, and last night repairs were on my mind.

 It was a beautiful morning, on spectacular roads as we crossed into California. The grade kept dropping, and at about 50 miles we started across the desert. 100 miles of nothing, and I was glad it was early so the temps were only approaching 90.

We headed south towards Palm Desert, crossing thru Joshua Tree and the Painted Canyon.


The day ended with the bike running fairly well, but the clutch throw out bearing howling. These bikes are tired, they were never designed for this, and add a century of aging and it is pretty amazing we are even here. We serviced the clutch, repaired some brackets, and bled the oil pump. Now we only have the Sierras to cross in the morning.

Tomorrow we will end this journey in Carlsbad. Excited and a little sad to see it. Got to get there first, one more day headed west.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Stage 13 : Route 66

the day started out nice and cool, with a good ride down old Route 66. We followed the old route from Williams Az to Lake Havasu City. There is a lot of history along that old road, along with the remnants of days gone by. The thought I kept having was that I was riding a machine from an era even before Route 66. Kind of amazing.

Our lunch stop was hosted by Mother Road Harley Davidson, and as with all the previous stops the crowd was huge. The people really turn out to see the old bikes. I pulled in with Victor, only to discover my fuel tank was leaking again.

The road after lunch took us down from 7000 ft to 400 ft. Temperatures picked up also, as we head towards California. Still tracing Rote 66,

we got Havasu City by 4 pm, and had a reception with another large crowd.

Then it's back to the motel to get ready for Stage 14. Got to fix a broken rear fender, install another brake band, fix a fuel tank, load tomorrow's route, and whatever else we find. It all makes for a pretty long day. 

Williams Az

Getting  ready to head down from 7000 ft to 400 ft. It's 35 degrees, heading to 90. Gonna be a challenge. At least it's not raining.

Some pretty cool Michael Lichter shots

Probably the only thing I've passed

Climbing a Grade

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Grand Canyon

Durango to Page Az for stage 9 was a beautiful run. Southwest Colorado is a beautiful place, then the canyons of the Navahoe are special. You just can't ride thru without thinking of the history. We went thru four corners, then followed the high plains into Page Az. Crossed lake Powell on the way in. The bike really ran well with all the "adjustments". Valves seem to be seated well, and the domes are holding.

Stage 10 took us to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I was looking foward to today for many reasons, but the weather had another idea. The  rain and wind were so hard that it was hard to ride, and the canyon was completely socked in with fog. Made all the miles again for the 2nd day since all the valve problems.

The Grand Canyon 

Headed up the road 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Durango Colorado

its been a couple of tuff days for. Team 96. Leaving Dodge City, I completely blew the top off both intake valve domes. 13 miles into the day and I was done. Being early, I decided to take the penalty points and leave course with my support. We drove on to Pueblo and I rebuilt the top end in the back of the van.

Getting ready to run the following morning, it became obvious I had bigger problems. The valves

would not seal, and I would have to do a complete valve job. So we loaded the van and headed over Wolf Creek Pass to Durango. It was tough to be not riding on some of my favorite roads.

We got to Durango in time to make the repairs, and are ready for Wednesday morning.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Rest Day

The rest day. A chance to take a little break, get a few items sorted on the bike, and relax.
Not today.

We started around 9:30 am, and packed it in at 9:00 pm. 12 hours in the parking lot, trying to get things patched up. The rear tire was changed, along with repackaging the loose ball bearings. The brake band was bent, so a little time and some persuasion was applied. We then reclined a spare brake band with the new material sent from Dalton.

The valve pockets and heads were removed. All 4 valves were removed, cleaned, and lapped. The rear intake spring had collapsed, just like the front had done back in West Va. I was lucky it cost me points yesterday. We found some high temperature sealant to try on the domes, and are hoping it works. I got some new stainless springs for the intakes.

As of 10:30 pm, the bike is ready again. I think it is back in pretty good shape for the second half of the a Cannonball. We will find out starting at 8:00 am.

Headed to Colorado!