December in Seattle. Wet and cold. I found myself daydreaming about a spring motorcycle trip. As if by magic, my fingers
started typing email to Arkansas-based W&G reader Tom Overbey. I'm sure I was more
diplomatic, but it went something like: "Hey Tom, you keep crowing about
the great riding in northwestern Arkansas.
How about giving Peter Wylie [a Seattle-based mutual riding buddy] and me a
long-weekend tour this spring? We'll let you plan it, supply us bikes (with fresh tires of course), feed us, house us,
keep the booze stocked, and so
on. We'll return the favor by showing up. So how 'bout it Tom?"
There were a couple minor concerns, such as timing; Tom and his wife Sallie were in the midst of building a fantastically-cool new house and it seemed a little rude, even for us, to show up on their doorstep at the same time as the sheetrock. We selected a date that was a solid month after the scheduled completion date. We assumed there would be no problem.
What did they say about assumptions? Something about them being the "mother of all screw-ups"? (This line, with more colorful language, is from a 'guy movie'—if you think you know the one, cruise on over to the Discuss tab above and scribble a brief movie review in your own words—who knows, you might win something.)
Back to the new house. When was the
last time one was completed on time? So we may be helping Tom and Sallie do a little furniture moving while we're there. Sawdust just
makes the floor a little softer, right?
Now I happen to own a very similar LC4-engined KTM so I know the touring downsides of the breed all too well: seats that are measured on the Rockwell hardness scale and engines that have two levels of vibration depending on how hard you're pressing—pretty-bad and blurred-vision. If you ride a KTM single for any distance, you want your proctologist on the speed dial.
Peter immediately laid claim to the relatively commodious Duke, so it was looking like I might be riding the 625, basically a hard-core dirt bike with a license plate zip-tied to the rear fender. A great dirt bike, but darn it, we weren't doing any dirt.
The 625 would have worked out fine I'm sure, but it just so happened I was in the market for a new bike. Could I kill two birds with one stone? For some time, my stable had been missing a big GT bike like Gizmo now has with his Honda ST1300; something big, powerful, and comfortable to complement my trusty BMW R1100S. Yamaha's superb FJR1300 kept bubbling to the top of my list. Could I locate an FJR in Arkansas, use it for this spring trip, and then ride it home? Making this plan seem even more attractive was my experience doing the same type of fly-out/drive-back trip when I bought a new Mini Cooper S a little over a year ago; the drive home from Texas was one of the nicest road trips I'd ever enjoyed. There is something about a one-way trip this is uniquely satisfying; it's like skiing without having to use the lifts.
Yamaha makes buying the FJR surprisingly difficult. The story goes that Yamaha got burned a few years back building way too many sport-touring bikes that languished in dealers' showrooms for years before finally being unloaded at huge discounts. The first FJR's were introduced to Europe in 2001, but Yamaha withheld them from the U.S. market for a year. Yamaha then decided to stick a cautious toe into the water by only building bikes that were already pre-sold. Under their euphemistically-named "Priority Delivery Program," once a year they'd take orders, build only that number of bikes, and deliver the bikes to waiting customers six to nine months later. To make the PDP even more customer-unfriendly, the order period was in the spring and delivery was in the fall, so buyers had the privilege of not riding their new FJR during the best riding weather. Brilliant marketing.
Obviously a September FJR wouldn't work for a spring trip to Arkansas. But I must have been living right, for just as this trip came together, Yamaha announced they were doing a second spring-delivery PDP for the 2005 FJR; I could order a bike in December for March or April delivery. A little clicking around on the internet, a phone call to a friendly Texarkana-based dealer (Yamaha Sportscenter), and my new bike was in the pipeline.
So here's the plan: I'll fly out on a Wednesday, pick up the FJR on Thursday,
and give it a proper break-in with a weekend's worth of chasing Tom and Peter
all over the
will ride the Duke and we'll occasionally trade bikes to spread the KTM's seat
time over more than one seat. I'll start
my solo trip home to Seattle early the next week when I'll start my daily
reports from The Road. I may do a report over the weekend—it depends on the level of
drinking and the availability of a broadband connection.
Finally, one cool new feature is the "Discuss" tab you see at the upper
right of your screen. In the past,
Gizmo and I have always
welcomed your participation and often manually copied your prose over to these pages so all could enjoy your eloquence. What I'd like to do now is get
the heck out of your way, and let you make direct comments into these pages that all can see. Each
daily report gets a
separate little discussion thread and I'd particularly like to hear if you have
any thoughts or background on the places I'm traveling through. Fire away, but please
keep it civil. I don't want to get
into moderating flame-fests from The Road.
© 2005 By Whizmo and Gizmo, All Rights Reserved
Powered by FieldJournal Ver. 1.15.11292007