If I hadn’t said it, yet, we’re back home. The good news is that our VW-Winnebago made the whole drive without any major catastrophes. We did have a minor catastrophe, a rear tire blow-out just out of Des Moines, but the transmission (no thanks to Volkswagen’s “service”) and major driveline bits all got us 2,000 miles home. We’re still assessing what we’ve learned from our Winter 2013-2014 experience.
The tire event was an adventure in itself. If you look at the picture (left) of the shredded tire, you’ll notice the entire tread vanished. It came off in one heavy, fast-moving piece, bouncing into the middle of the 3-lane traffic behind us. It was a Monday, on a slightly cool day, so none of the usual Iowa motorcycle suspects were on the road. Lucky for them. Anyone tailgating us would have been clobbered. Anyone unable to make an emergency avoidance maneuver would have been hit, too. When the tire popped, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw what looked like a whole tire bouncing down the road.
A day after we got home, it snowed. Wet, heavy shit that took 3 hours to clear from the driveway, paths, and porches. Two days after that, I got started on the reason we came back in April; my income taxes. Six days later, taxes are done and I started tearing apart my “office” for remodeling. I’m still on that task. If we luck out, winter will eventually turn into spring (it snowed last night, so I’m only holding out a little hope for summer).
Over the 8.500 miles we’ve owned the Winnebago Rialta, we averaged 18.08mpg at 55-70mph highway speeds and a whole lot of local driving in New Mexico. Not bad. If we sell it for about what we paid for it, our total cost-per-mile will amount to about $0.65. Not great, but that includes a whole lot of camper improvements, all of the stuff I did to the driveline before we left, new tires, and the cost of repairs on the road. It’s possible that the next 50,000 miles could be event-free. My wife is telling everyone who asks “Never make your transportation your home. The two should always be separate.” Not a great sales pitch, but I think it is one of the lessons we’re going to take away from our experience. The Rialta is for sale, or will be when we finish cleaning it up for sale. The snow will have to melt and I need to finish with the office remodeling before that begins.
The bikes and WR took a beating this winter, including getting buried in ice and suffering mesquite, goatheads, cactus, and other assorted pointy or abrasive New Mexico obstacles. I have not taken Elvy’s bike or the WR down from the trailer and won’t until I have time to do serious maintenance. The WR’s tires are shot, the chain flops as freely sideways as it does in the direction it was designed to move, the sprockets are spiked, and the bike needs a general clean up and inspection.
So, the V-Strom officially has more miles on it for 2014 than it got in all of 2013, which isn’t saying much. I rode the V-Strom exactly 76 2013 miles. Embarrassing, but the WR was my go-to bike all last summer and, obviously, our primary local transportation this winter. A brand new battery, which had been sitting empty and uncharged all winter, in the V-Strom and two bumps on the starter and off we went for a couple of local rides last week. I do love fuel injection.