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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Florida trip with son continues

As mentioned in an earlier post day one of the trip was great.  Days 2 and 3 were both overcast with just a few sprinkles.  The temperatures stayed under 86 for all but the last half of the 3rd day.  It was on the third day that we learned an important lesson.

Day 2 started off rainy as we were packing up and eating breakfast.  By the time we were ready to load the bikes the rain had stopped, but it was very cloudy.
Rainy morning - day 2
All went great as we rode through Mississippi and into Alabama.  We were traveling on US 84 a.k.a. El Camino Corridor.  Most of the highway is divided 4 lane although there were stretches on 2 lane.  Louisiana and Alabama had the least amount of 4 lane.

I was wanting to stop at state lines and get photos, but there were not any big signs or good photo locations, so we just kept riding.  We were trying to make it to Valdosta, Georgia before stopping for the evening.
Taking a break in Repton, Alabama
After stopping in Enterprise, Alabama for a very late lunch we made it through Dothan, AL making great time.  We gassed up near Gordon, AL and that is when I noticed the chain on the Ninja was really loose and needed to be tightened.

I will readily admit that I am pretty ignorant concerning chain driven motorcycles.  I have never owned one and we were trying to make sure it was lubed well during the trip.  With the help from the service station mechanic we adjusted the chain and decided to stop earlier in Bainbridge, GA.  (I did not think of getting a photo of our roadside adjustment, but it would not have been a very exciting photo.)  I was concerned and wanted to have someone check the chain the next day.  We decided we would turn south the next day and ride to Tallahassee, FL and let a bike shop check our work.  405 miles for day 2 - not bad.

We rolled into Red Hills Powersports in Tallahassee and service manager Charlie Blount inspected the chain and all was good.  He told us to check it often and keep it lubricated.  Leaving Tallahassee we rode down US 19 to Chiefland, FL and then east on US 27 to Ocala, FL to meet up with father-in-law Larry who would lead us on some back roads to Altamonte Springs.

He led us on some nice roads through the Ocala National Forest to Alexander Springs, a natural spring that is a favorite for snorkelers and families looking to abate the summer heat.

Larry and Richard (on left) looking at Alexander Springs
Alexander Springs remains near 72 degrees year round
I had been checking the chain regularly during the day so I checked it again.  It was loose, but did not seem too loose (I have some things to learn about chains).  We were about 50 miles from home so I figured we could get home and then adjust the chain.

Experience is a great teacher, but the tuition can surprise you at times. About 20 miles down the road as we turned left and began to speed up the chain broke.  Appears I should have tightened the chain.  The short version - we got the bike home and then to Seminole Powersports the next day.  My wife brought the sprockets from home on her flight to Orlando.  I had to purchase the chain, but the bike is now fixed and we have learned about chains.

Now we are enjoying our time in Florida and will be much more diligent with the chain on our way home.


  1. Now that couldn't have been a fun lesson to learn - having the chain break on you while riding.

    I am glad things turned out okay and you are enjoying yourself.

  2. Hope you, your son & all the other Bikers have a great ride.....

    All the best TT

  3. When I'm on the road, I lube my chain at the end of every long riding day. I changed both the chain and sprockets on my Ninja at 30,000 miles. I know they could have gone longer, but the chain was starting to make cracking noises. Now it's smooth and quiet. A little loose is better than even a "little" too tight!