Me and My Connie: My First Overnighter

Not mine, but I’m generally an over packer.

A few weeks I joined my riding buddies on a modest 300 mile overnight trip to the Northern California town of Cloverdale where my rock and roll band was playing. This was my first way-out-of-town trip on MyConnie, and before the trip I was wondering about what I should check on the bike, and how I should pack. Generally, I’m an over packer, so I knew this will be a challenge. Luckily, the Concours Owners Group Forum had some great resources that suggested what to pack in terms of tools and spares.

The interesting conundrum for me was that since my band was playing the first night of my ride, it was mission-critical for me to arrive on time, and unscathed. Now, it’s not like our band’s performance is on par with a space shuttle launch, but an ill-timed flat tire would mean that I’d have to leave MyConnie on the roadside and ride on the back of someone else’s bike to the gig. Ugh! And then face riding back to the scene of the crime the next day to deal with the problem. Double-Ugh! This might lead those of fainter hearts to drive their cars to the performance, but not me. Our group was going for broke. With a bike that I had less than 500 miles riding at the time, I just hoped that “going for broke” didn’t mean…well…“BROKE.”

We were staying overnight in a hotel, so I didn’t need to carry camping gear. I was more worried about something breaking that I could fix on the road, but not if I didn’t have the tools, parts or the time. Reading all about common broken solder joints on the Concours fuse block, or “weeping” petcocks, or sidestand interlock switch failures had me a tad spooked. But I just needed to think good thoughts and bank on good karma points to carry the day.

On the first day of the trip, my brother-in-law, Rich, and I rode off on his “Bonnie” (2011 green Triumph Bonneville T100) and my “Connie” (2001 blue Kawasaki Concours) to meet up with the other two members of our group at a Starbucks off of Interstate 80 in Hercules, CA. In the end, I opted to travel light and only pack a couple of crescent wrenches, a tire plug kit and electric air compressor. That’s all that could fit after I put my band clothes and toiletries in the MyConnie’s saddlebags.

We arrived a bit late to the Starbucks, much to the consternation of Mr. Triumph Speed Triple (Des) and Mr. BMW R1150RT (Jim), but after a quick and justified chastising session, we were off. Without making this post a turn-by-turn travelogue, I’ll just give you the highlights.

The Bikes
The Bonnie was a champ, doing a brief spurt over-the-ton on I-80 just to see if it could. The Speed Triple is an awesome machine, especially in the twisties. And the Beemer is an extremely civilized, yet capable, sport-tourer. MyConnie performed exactly as I expected her to…flawlessly—plenty of power, very comfortable, equally capable in the twisties and on the superslab.

The Concours 1000
It’s precisely what it claims to be, a compromise bike that isn’t highly tuned for one kind of riding. In fact, some criticize the Concours for not doing any one thing extremely well. But the Connie’s shining value is that it does it all. It’s motorcycling’s “liberal arts degree.” And, it is a platform that has not changed much since it was introduced in 1986, with only one major upgrade in 1994. That is until the Concours 1400 was introduced in 2006, which is a completely different bike. That means that there is a huge community of Connie owners whose base of knowledge of the bike and its idiosyncrasies provides new Connie owners with a wonderful support group. And, there are many aftermarket manufacturers who produce upgrades and accessories that are tailor-made for the Concours. I don’t mean to go all fanboy on you. But for the bike I needed to get back into motorcycling after 25 years absent, MyConnie is the perfect blend of cheap, good and easy.

The Ride
All in all, we rode about 370 miles and a total of 8 hours in the saddle. It was a great success and really proved out MyConnie as having been a great choice for my get-back-into-motorcycling ride. Highlights of the ride were Hwy 178 from Kelseyville to Hopland. Wow! What a ride!! Coming home on Hwy 12 through the Napa wine country couldn’t have been a nicer end to the trip. We are so lucky to live in close proximity to so many wonderful and varied roads. But, instead of writing more about them just now, I think I’ll go plan the next ride!

Our route: San Mateo to Coverdale and back

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