MO on Tour : Okanogan Co. : part two
OKANOGAN CO. BIKESHIPPING
HEADCASES HELMETS FUELINJECTION
Speaking of helmets, a full-face helmet is possibly the most difficult piece of riding gear to transport. It's big, clumsy and requires some protection. The best solution is to store it in your bike's hard luggage. This isn't an option on the Guzzi nor is it an option on most cruisers or sport bikes. Enter Hazardous Sports - a sponsor of an American Le Mans Series racecar.
"the Case carries itself with an understated air of seriousness"
[hazardous-sports.com | 866.HAZ.GEAR]
Hazardous Sports makes a clever piece of luggage they call a Head Case. It is a rugged, well-padded helmet carrier. It makes a suitable carry-on or can be strapped down next to your bike in a Forward Air container. The bottom of the Head Case is ringed with mounting rings. My helmet survived the trip from Chicago to Seattle and back without drama. I've grown to love the Case. With its impressive style and bold textures the Case carries itself with an understated air of seriousness. From its elastic netting to its beefy rubber handle, the build quality is top shelf. No half-assed biker would own one. This is for the serious enthusiast who respects the sport and his equipment.
The dome protector of choice for this trip was the Harley-Davidson "System Full Face" helmet (p/n 97212-02V). This one complete with bitchin' ghost flame graphics. This lid is of HJC origin and is a very civilized accessory. Construction is solid and fit and finish is what we have all come to expect from world-sourced equipment. I chose it because it offers the incredibly useful flip up feature. Having your face stuffed in a helmet for hours can get old. It is a real pleasure to be able to flip up the entire front of your helmet for a moment of fresh air. The only drawback to the flip-up is a bit of added wind noise. At higher speeds every joint and gap adds to the din.
Through the deserts of eastern Washington another Hazardous Sports product became required riding gear: their high tech, water wicking shirts. These things are amazing. Though it took me a while to fully appreciate what they have to offer.
In a breeze they are cold. In the sun they are hot. Why the hell would you wear one? Ah... under a leather jacket they are wonderful. Your body magically attains a steady-state equilibrium. Riding in a 90-degree desert environment I should be melting, but I'm not. I'm O.K. I'm definitely warm, but not uncomfortable.
Another unexpected benefit comes from the texture of the fabric. It's slick, so it slides against the lining of a jacket. A cotton t-shirt gets damp, sticks to your skin, and does not slide against the liner. So not only are you hot, you are uncomfortable. Constantly twisting and
tugging at your jacket. I suspect a Nike dry-fit soccer jersey might have similar qualities, but they don't offer the cool biohazard logo!
[Todd Eagan | firstname.lastname@example.org | guzzitech.com]
After picking up my Guzzi from the Forward Air warehouse south of Seattle I find myself blazing east on I-90. Traveling from (quite literally) sea level to over 3000 feet in 45 minutes. I've hit Snoqualmie Pass. No snow or skiers this time of year. Just some skate dudes riding some really wicked looking all-terrain skateboards. I stop for H20 and marvel at how well behaved my fuel injection has been performing. From stop and go city driving at sea level to 90 mph highway riding straight up a mountain. Damn. Having a torque monster of an engine doesn't hurt of course, but the real trick is the DynaJet Power Commander.
Off the showroom floor the Guzzi was not a well-behaved beast. I suffered though everything from bucking bronco fits (3000 RPM) to flat spots (4000 RPM) to stop light stalling (1000 RPM). If I weren't totally and absurdly in love with this moto it would not have lasted a month in my garage. Luckily a bit of online discussion with fellow Centauro loyalists revealed the solution.
Custom chips are a step in the right direction. But once you've upgraded the mufflers, the crossover and ripped out the constricting air box, you need to get serious about re-tuning the fuel injection mapping. My new friends at GuzziTech in southern California provided my salvation: a uniquely built DynaJet Power Commander module. Limited product bikes like the Centauro don't warrant high production aftermarket products. So GuzziTech approached
DynaJet for a limited run of the Power Commanders designed specifically for the 4-valve Guzzi engine.
The ability of the Power Commander to smooth out throttle response is a thing of beauty. Unlike some aftermarket fuel injection modules, the PCIII can add or subtract fuel from the fuel-air mixture. It transformed an unruly halfman-halfhorse into a stallion. GuzziTech furnish me with a custom map built around my exact set of engine mods. It's still a bit rough around the edges, but it is so superior to stock that I almost dare not complain. One day I'll pay a visit to a Power Commander tuning center for a proper O2-sniffer tuning. Until that day I'll be happy and ride.
Down the eastern side of the mountain we go. The trees and undergrowth slowly thin out into the sparse desert forest of the O'Hop valley. I'm in Cle Elum stopping for an espresso and some gas. The bean juice from Pioneer Coffee Co. is unexpectedly excellent. The gas seems to be all right as well. I swap super slab for a two-laner - Highway 97 heading over Blewett pass. This road is fun. A serious grade, loads of curves and best of all, slow-traffic-move-right lanes every few miles. I am loving it. The Mandello twin lives to climb hills. It is quietly cursing its flatland existance in Chicago.
Blewett Pass is a respectable 4102 feet. After racing over it once I turn around to find a rumored "Old" Blewett Pass road. At one time it was probably two lanes, but with all the rockslides and overgrowth I'm lucky to get a single clear path. Want a guardrail? Get back to the main highway girly-man. I'm alone up here and at one point I realize that if I go over the edge I'm gone and no one is ever going to find me. I play it safe and get down the other side.
Into apple country I plunge. Towns go by; Pashastin, Dryden, Cashmere and Wenatchee in rapid succession. The evergreens are all but gone now. Replaced by sagebrush and apple orchards by the hundreds. Irrigation water from the Columbia River does amazing things to a desert. At Wenatchee we head north and follow the river. More small towns; Entiat, Chelan and Pateros. A solid hour of river running enjoying long arching curves, dynamite-blasted paths through solid rock and the ever-present curiosity of a massive river running through a desert.