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  • Robert Farago

Random Thoughts About Random Rambling


My new moving buddy doesn’t have onboard GPS. Charley’s navigation system operates via the BMW Motorad Connected App.


It’s not Apple Mapstastic, but BMW’s software is good enough to get me from here to there. Wherever there is. Unless… I lose cell phone coverage.


A thought that occurred when me and my box-fresh BMW K1600 GTL found ourselves on a desolate road outside of Austin.


Setting aside Texas Chainsaw Massacre breakdown paranoia, I wondered: how do I navigate my big ass Bimmer in the wide open, cell tower-less spaces of the great American outback?


According to BMW’s boffins, “the navigation will still function with the map data without access to a mobile network.”


Assuming, that is, you follow Munich’s motorcycle mavens’ “recommendation” and download your route’s map data using a broadband internet connection – before setting off into the great unknown.

That kind of planning is antithetical to my Travels with Charley Ridiculously Random Motorcycle Tour. How random can a journey be if you have a set destination? If I stay true to my school, I don’t need no stinking nav app!


Or do I?

The Connected App has an extremely valuable function for a two-wheeled wandering Jew determined to take the road less travelled: it can create a route with maximum snakiness that avoids highways like the plague blessing they are.


How about this? I’ll use the Connected App occasionally.


I’ll punch up coordinates when I need to find my way back to my hotel/motel. I’ll use it in conjunction with Dice Therapy; I’ll write down six potential destinations and let a roll of the die decide where I go Good=">Good" Luck,="Luck," Bad="Bad" Who="Who" Knows?="Knows?</a></em>">.

More often, I’ll fly by the seat of my Klim motorcycle pants, relying on the sat nav’s compass to head in a general direction. Which jibes perfectly with my overall travel strategy.


Head north when it’s too hot, head south when it’s too cold, head west when I’m finished with the east coast, head east when I’m finished with the west coast. Reserving the right to do nothing of the sort.


No surprise: my non-plan plan surprises and delights those who hear it. Who doesn’t want to cut footloose?

Kick off their Sunday shoes! Which is just as well, as I’m blogging my trip.


All that said, I admit it: I do have three potential destinations in mind…


The Tail of the Dragon



By its promoter’s boastful admission, the Tail of the Dragon is “not a road for the squeamish.”

Something to do with 318 curves over 11 miles on a two-lane road with significant drops, no guardrails and the possibility of a chance encounter with a bear, turkey, deer or wild boar.


For cautious bikers like your author, it’s more to do with a close encounter of the oh shit kind with a semi, sports car or one or more of the crazy motorcyclists who set out to conquer the Dragon – at speed.


Make no mistake. YouTube is lousy with gnarly TOTD bike and trike crashes, not including fatal ones. Just so I know, from 1995 to 2021, the Dragon claimed 89 lives and an unknown number of ER visits (click here for the death map). Life Flight pilots need apply.


“Be ready to scrape your foot pegs in some of these wild curves,” the official website cautions/beckons. Again, no.


But I’m totally stoked about talking to the testosterone-crazed daredevils who consider the Dragon’s 30mph speed limit an ignoble impediment to bragging rights.


Nashville July 20



Listening to a Hammond B3 playing blues, rock or gospel is as close to God as I can get through music since Little Feat founder Lowell George kicked the bucket.


Yes, I have a major thing for a B3 played through a Leslie amplifier. So does Australian Lachlan R "Lachy" Doley.


Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, the organist from The Land Down Under will be kicking it in Nashville, 12 days after my 65th birthday.


While I have precious little desire to park-up in any urban conurbation on my travels, I’ve got a ticket to Lachey’s gig and a stiffie. Yes, already.


I’ll be there or be square. Or hobbling, if the Dragon goes wrong. (Best worst case.)


The Pacific Northwest

When I was a teenager, I went on a bicycle tour of the Cascade Mountains and surrounds. Despite a romantic interlude, it was miserable.


As Richard Betts proclaimed: rain, rain, rain. Waking up, soaked to the bone with Pacific Northwest slug slime in my hair. Worse: hills! Mountains! We spent entire days pushing our bikes up inclines.


I promised myself I’d return on a motorcycle, enjoying the natural beauty as God intended: blasting up and down hill and dale and around corners with minimal exertion, heading for the warmth and comfort of a motel, hotel or other slug-free enclosed structure.


Third Time Lucky?

And there you have it: three destinations I may or may not achieve in my effort to not have a destination. As for bike prep…


I’m putting yet another windscreen on the K1600 GTL, praying that the wider aftermarket design will stop the wind from pummeling my sides and pulling my head towards the dash.


Charley is just about ready for her 600-mile service. The next mechanical interval: 6k miles. I wonder how long it will be before she once again enriches a BMW mechanic. Watch this space.


Meanwhile, with what and how do you pack a K1600 GTL – ideally without the Dad bod top box – for a 200-day-plus trip that involves searing heat, bone-chilling cold and rain – and still have room for underwear? Enquiring minds want to know.

 

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