Texas to Pennsylvania by BMW


We had the bike, the fabricator and the design, but a week ago it dawned on us that we had to get the BMW up to Claude, whose shop happens to be in Pennsylvania. Great... right? 

I'm not sure what's happening, but the entire USA appears to be engulfed in a heat wave. Being from Texas, we are well versed in riding in an onslaught of sunshine and heat - at some point it just becomes unbearable. 

So, we came up with a plan: we would just ride 5 or 6 hours a day during the morning and take our time getting up North. Our route treks across a good chunk of the country while trying to avoid the heat. The Blue Ridge Mountains definitely being a highlight, both because of the sights and the climate reprieve.

It turns out that there is no where to hide...

There was quite a bit of highway riding to make miles. 

We stayed a night on the mighty Mississippi, though the shower was not quite as mighty. 

After I was stung by a kamikaze bee, I was rewarded with this amazing gift for my bravery.

After boiling for 3 days, the Blue Ridge Parkway greeted us with fog, rain and 65 degree temperatures.

We rode through a cloud for the first couple of hours and I don't think I've ever been happier to be riding through terrible visibility. As the day rolled on, the fog seemed to roll off the mountains above, across the road and finally took rest in the valley below. 

All in all, the parkway was magnificent. I got to have fun leaning the huge GSA over through turns and Kristen had a ton of opportunities for photos. 

Eventually we had to leave the parkway and hit the highway again to make up time. We rolled past Winchester, Virginia and Kristen's parents' first home (where Ryan was born) and finally to Claude's shop in Middleburg!

It should be noted that the first thing we came across when we finally arrived was an unbelievably cool sidecar rig that Claude had made specifically for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The rig was made for a 16-year old boy with muscular dystrophy. His father contacted the foundation when his son's condition started to worsen; eventually the doctors gave him the difficult prognosis of only having a couple of years to live. At this news, the father retired from his job and decided to fulfill his son's wish of seeing the world by motorcycle. 

The Foundation funded the entire build and the family will now be able to drive Nicolas' motorized wheelchair into the back of the sidecar. The rig itself is just insane. The amount of work that went into making such a heavy duty frame and car is really remarkable. It was due to be picked up very soon - we'll try to post some links when photos of their travels become available. 

We eventually made our way inside and had a dramatic reveal of our new sidecar in its early stages.

Claude has really been listening to our requests and somehow is making them a reality. This thing is incredible! Kristen was happy about her newly found leg room. I can even stretch my legs all the way out. I guess it's about time for Kris to take control of the bike so I can relax.

One of Kristen's ideas was to incorporate a lockable box located in the nose of the sidecar. It will be such a great location for her to store her cameras while riding. Claude wondered why they hadn't done it before.

The amount of storage on this thing is just crazy. I'm pretty sure I could get inside the trunk. It will definitely make packing and living on the road much easier. 

There is so much to be done (powder coating, racks, a few more additions to the body, building the frame, etc) but it's out of our hands now. We've made all the decisions we need for Claude and team to move forward! 

It's going to be a long 6 weeks!

A New Direction


Before all else, it needs to be said that Kristen and I love our Ural. Not only is it a fantastic machine that will take you where very few other vehicles can but the people surrounding the brand are hospitable and generous. We will never sell our Elga and she will always be well cared for and maintained and ready for riding. Our Ural really ushered us into motorcycle touring and our trip to the Arctic Circle is the cornerstone on which our love of motorcycles stands:

For the past 4 months, however, I have been doing research on other options that may suit our needs better in the future. The wealth of information available on site like Horizons Unlimited, ADVRider, and Soviet Steeds is amazing. I was able to connect with so many experienced riders that really knew what they were talking about. After many conversations and deliberation, we wrote a check for a brand new 2011 BMW R1200 GS Adventure!

Our main considerations for going with a BMW are based on the following:

  • I am 6'5". The Ural was definitely designed for someone that was a bit shorter than me. I was able to make it work with bar risers and a flat bench seat but it still gives me a pain in the back after a couple of days of riding. The GSA, on the other hand, is an absolute monster. It fits my body type pretty perfectly and is already proving to be a bit more comfortable. 
  • The power of the GSA is incredible. We don't ride very fast, in fact part of the reason I love the Ural is because she runs best at around 55 mph. But with the GSA, we will have the option to go faster if need be. 
  • Reliability: This is kind of a double-edged sword but from what I can tell, the BMW will hopefully have fewer problems that need to be constantly addressed. I'm not under the impression that it will always run flawlessly, but I am hoping that it holds up for quite a few miles. The downside is that if something does go wrong, there is no way that I will be able to fix it myself due to its' complexity. The Ural is a simple machine that can be fixed on the side of the road, at least by those who have the knowledge to do so.

So now we come to our plans for the bike and possibly the biggest deciding factor of the whole purchase. We are currently having a custom sidecar made by C Stanley Motorsports in Pennsylvania! After talking with him many times over the phone, I realized that we could design something that could potentially perfectly fit our particular needs. 

For the past month or so, Claude and Kristen and I have been designing our dream sidecar. We have never been a part of this kind of process and it has been a blast, mainly because he so accommodating. It is still in the early steps but as soon as it starts coming together we'll be posting some pictures of the build.

So what's in store for the future?

Kristen and I will be riding the bike up to PA to drop it off at Claude's shop next weekend. We're going to try and take our time and make it a fun ride so we'll be sure to post to BOMF as we head North. We have some pretty extensive plans past that but that will have to wait until another post... More soon!