Shakedown Ride & 21 Days

Yesterday mid-morning I returned home from a leisure overnight adventure in which some curvy roads around the southern part of the state near the old Jefferson Proving Grounds were explored.  The Vstrom found no unexploded ordinance but a couple tanks of gas were easily expended throughout the journey.  The purpose of the ride was known in the touring world as a “shakedown ride”, in which a bike is loaded up exactly the same as it will be done for a long journey and all of the gear is utilized in a real life scenario closer to home in case of problems.

It is unbelievable how much gear this bike will carry.  Of course, with a top case, two side panniers, two crash bar bags, and a tank bag, lot of things find hiding place easy enough.  Anything that didn’t fit in any of these listed areas went into the 70 liter dry bag that strapped to the rear seat.  Everything in this bag were the contents that needed to find their way into a tent in a dry condition…clothing, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, and some electronics.  Backing the bike out onto the sidewalk in preparation to leave, it looked almost impossible that everything I would need for an extended journey to Alaska was on the bike ready to go.

Looks like just taking the 70 liter bag for a ride!

The bike has a ton of stuff packed away.  I’ll throw everything onto the floor in the next week or so and get a picture; it is just amazing how much stuff is actually going with me.

In addition to the gear I wanted to check out, I have been experimenting with proper video camera placement on the Vstrom.  This bike vibrates like my old Harley in certain places; those places seem to be in the best places to actually mount a camera.  Some of the past test video has come across pretty shaky.  The rear side panniers are actually a very stable location to mount a camera with a suction cup mount.  These types of mounts make me very nervous; trusting $400 in equipment to the holding power of a curved piece of rubber that is forced down into a flattened shape.  Besides running a custom electrical solution (it actually ties into my battery tender cabling), a removable lanyard consisting of a double ended hangman’s noose provides the security that if the mount gives away, the camera will dangle down versus being shattered on the ground.  Tested at 70 miles per hour, the camera held out for the two days of riding just fine without a single problem.

Video camera hard to see from this angle...easily noticeable from the rear.

One of the test videos can be seen HERE on VIMEO.  The perspective isn’t too bad and the vibrations are greatly reduced allowing for clearer imagery.  Many of the file sharing sites like Vimeo lowers the quality of the videos quite a bit; on the big screen TV at home, the video plays very smooth and is crystal clear.  The plan is to record many of the interesting places on the Alaska journey and to make a reminiscence video when I return.  That may take months to put together; a great project for a few months when I return home.

Anyways, I extended an offer to a friend named Allan to tag along with me, which he immediately accepted and made his necessary arrangements to take time off of work with almost no notice. As I’m now unemployed, the decision was pretty easy to get approved.  Allan also rides a Vstrom, same year and engine size as mine.  That’s great in case I have a breakdown; I can just steal parts of the parts bike that ended up following me around for a day and a half.

The meetup on Wednesday morning was done just west of Morristown in about 45 degree weather.  A quick stop into the Bluebird Diner for many cups of coffee and some biscuits and gravy with a solid fried egg on the top provided plenty of nourishment for this wanderer for the day.

Again, the ride meandered around east then south, then west then back to the east before proceeding to the night’s campsite at one of Indiana’s best kept secrets.  Quakertown State Recreation Area.  Connected to Brookville Reservoir, it hosts a very large campground that seems to be always be completely or nearly deserted every time I have visited it.  Wednesday evening was no exception.  Of the 50 or so campsites, only two others were occupied…by people on RVs.  Allan and my tents were the only fabric put up for the night in the entire campground.

We had 98% of the campground to ourselves but we ended up putting our tents less than five feet from each other.  The issue was that our phone weather radar apps showed rain for the night and we both jostled to get on the highest slope we could find in the park…just in case.  Nothing is worse than waking up and trying to clear camp in puddles or lots of mud.  So our desire to not be in any flooded area made us both immediate neighbors for the night.


After cooking up some dinner, a couple of hours were spent at a campfire and BS’ing into the hours of night.  Nothing beats sitting by a roaring campfire talking with a good friend.  We stayed sheltered under a large maple tree protecting us from the rain, which came down a lot stronger after we had found our way into our tents.

Thursday morning found temperatures again in the mid forties.  The night was actually pleasant…having good camping gear helps keep you comfortable and the lower temperatures did not affect either of us.  The camping trip did allow me to identify some things I need to make changes to when I had to the Last Frontier in three weeks though.

The shakedown ride was a success as I will make some modifications to the planned gear over the next week.  Looks like I’ll put my Mitas Dakar tires on this weekend; install a new throttle lock; manage another oil change; and do a tightened bolt check.  It is just days away.  The time has flown by very, very quickly over the past year.  I still feel like departure day will be here in what feels like just a couple of days.

I plan to put some entries onto this blog during the trip north but I realized that I desire to concentrate more on enjoying the trip for myself then trying to keep a running online journal going.  So I’ll update on the blog from time to time, but not to the extent I originally planned on doing.  In the evenings, when having a chance to stare into a blazing fire or to sit in the tent trying to blog without any type of Internet service, I think I’ll spend the time by the warmth of the flames.  I do plan to take scrupulous notes of things, takes lots of video and still photography as I go, and write volumes when I get back home.  It’s just for the main content, everybody will have to wait for me to write it up while sitting in my recliner in front of the television.  The trip tracker will be live though and there will be random pictures and words posted to the blog during the trip though.  We’ll just consider them teasers for what is to come a little later.

Oh, a congratulations goes out to my brother Scott and his girlfriend of quite some time April who made the surprise announcement that they have decided to marry.  Their engagement period will actually be very short as their wedding is slated for the end of the month.  This couple is perfect for each other; they work very well as a Yin-Yang and meld perfectly.  I look forward to seeing you both really soon at the wedding.

Enjoy your day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *