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This is a small introduction for Project Oxcart, and a bit about myself.

This summer (2020) I'm riding my Blackbird around the entire US to go see every SR-71 Blackbird (and all of the variants). There are 29 of them spread out all over the states. I am departing right after the Memorial Day 'Rolling to Remember' ride in Washington DC (formerly Rolling Thunder). From there I am headed south, down to Cape Canaveral, Fl and hopefully watch a rocket launch. Then back up florida and head west, across Texas to Southern California. From California I will head north up along the west coast all the way to Seattle. Then I will snake my way east all the way to New York City. Then finally, back down south to Virginia. I'm guesstimating it will take about 3 months and about 10,000 miles. I am just going to go at an easy pace and if it takes longer or shorter than I planned, then that's cool either way. It's all about the journey and the adventure. Not how quickly I need to get back or how many miles I need to do in a day. That will drain the enjoyment out of just being on the road and living on a bike for a summer.

The how's and why's. That's what I get from family and friends as I told them that I'm quitting my job to go ride a motorcycle for a few months. Why am I doing this specific trip? I have a love of aviation. I've been working on helicopters my whole adult life. At some point in my mid 20's I started to get into motorcycles and I bought my first bike. 2007 Buell XB12Ss, the Buell Lightning. I love that bike (still own it). Then I got inspired...I watched Long Way Round. Maaaaaaan, that just looked like the trip of a life time. I day dreamed about doing something like that for years. Watching more documentaries and then things REALLY picked up when more and more people started Moto-vlogging on YouTube. That itch was getting real bad to go on a crazy motorcycle adventure. However, real life and responsibilities always seemed to be in the way.

I don't remember date's or how I put all the pieces together. I think I was showing someone a map depicting every location of every SR-71 in the US. I got to looking at it and it made a decent loop around the lower 48. There it was! My unique trip of my very own! One day I will ride a motorcycle and go see them all. Now, more and more day dreaming. The plan started to come together one piece at a time. But, I needed a bike to do it on. As much as I love my Buell, it is not a long distance touring bike. What to ride.....What to ride..... Hmmmm. Sure, I could go for a big comfy land cruiser like an H-D or Goldwing. I considered them as options and they would probably be the smarter way to do this. And then I remember a coworker telling me about this rocket his brother had. (cue the drum roll) A Honda Blackbird. That was it. There was no doubt in my mind (ok...there was some doubt). I was going to ride a Blackbird to go see every Blackbird.

More day dreaming and more planning. By this time I was working in Japan. Kind of difficult to start a trip like that while on the other side of the world. Then I got an opportunity to move to Canada on a short term contract. That was finally it. Everything seemed to line up. No more saying 'I will do it one day'. I moved to Canada and started making preparations. Most importantly, buy a bike. I found a great guy on here and bought his bike in July. I spent the remainder of the short Canadian summer getting used to her. I decided to wait until after the Christmas holidays before I really got the ball rolling with preparations for this summer. Now it is time to get the bike and myself all ready. These next 4 months are going to fly by. I can't wait.

Thank you everyone for reading. I'm looking forward to hearing from you all and sharing Project Oxcart with you,
Darrell
 

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As we say your ducks are lined up. Go for it! How apt. Ride safe, report back and most importantly we want pics.
 

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Stop by and See Beestoy near Phoenix. He can put on an electronic cruise control and it will look stock. I think it is around $465. It sure made the remainder of my trip more enjoyable or relaxing. Search for my thread "Getting ready for a three week trip" it has other things that I did. Riding in the southwest you are actually cooler with all your gear on. I know it doesn't sound right but you are. Visit LDComfort.com for hot weather stuff. Their riding shorts are well worth the money and so are their cool sleeves and the cap with the flap on the back that you wear under your helmet. Also buy a cooling vest too. The suspension upgrade was also great for reducing road fatigue by smoothing out the ride.
I look forward to following your progress. Stop by when swinging down around Lake Michigan. I have spare rooms or camping space.

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If your in the neighborhood give me a holler or swing by. I can share a couple fun roads here that make the bird even more fun.
 

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Nice! A trip like that HAS to be done on a Blackbird. I commute past the March Air Reserve Base every day on I-215 (one of several SR-71 locations here in SoCal), although I've never visited it. So if you want some company for that visit, let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I picked up one of beestoys cruise controls from him recently. It will be going on soon. XXGuy, I had read through your three week trip post a couple times, lots of great information. The southwest is going to be brutal. I will probably be reaching there sometime in late June/early July. I was considering a cooling vest, but I will have to work on my complete cargo load out and see where I am at on that before adding more things. The forks were already upgraded by the previous owner. I am considering a Nitron shock for the rear. Once I have to load figured out I will weigh it and see if my budget can handle the rear shock.

Along this trip I plan on linking up and riding with some of my old Army friends. Once I get on the road I will try to post where I am at/heading to next. I would like to link up with fellow bird riders also. SoCal has the largest concentration of Blackbirds in that small area.


I'm going to take the bike to a Honda dealer to have a lot of maintenance done on the bike. I want the bike to be in tip top shape and ready to go. It has about 18,000 miles on it currently. Here is a list of things I plan on having done by Honda. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know.

New Tires
Oil change
Coolant drain and flush
Replace coolant hoses with Silicone ones
New Chain
New Brake Pads and change brake fluid (Maybe new brake lines, but I'm trying to decide what route I want to take for my handlebars. That will determine how long new brake lines will need to be)
New Air filter
Check/Clean Fuel System
New Spark Plugs and Wires
 

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I would change the fork oil, brake fluid, clutch fluid. Put on a chain oiler. I like the cameleon plus. Put steel "T" valves in and put on an inexpensive TPMS. $55 on ebay. Tvalves are about 12 bucks each. They allow you to adjust tire pressure without taking off the sensor. Also I had a rubber one splitting with a sensor on it!!!!
I have a Vario windshield and find that I mostly have it in the low position. Only when it gets cold do I raise the lip up. Reduce your clothing requirements (hence extra baggage) by getting good outer gear. Well ventilating but also water proof. Then a heated jacket liner and some heated gloves. Now all you need is a few long pants, some shorts, tshirts, etc. The LDComfort shorts, tights and shirt I would wash while in the shower then hang to dry. Or rinse off if camping. Heated gear really helps if going into the mountains at all. The Rockies or the Cascades they can (will) be cold in July and August. I have found at 60° or lower and riding a ways that knot at the base of the neck and between the shoulder blades comes around. Put my heated jacket liner on and adjust to a nice level and the knots go away. Good pair of riding boots. I carry a set of moccasins (or tennis shoes)and my riding boots for footwear and that's it. I waited 30 yrs before I got good riding boots and heated gear and outer... and I ask myself why???? Because they didn't have stuff like they do now and it always seemed like an extraordinary expense when they did start having it. I have a thread on here looking for a good set of riding boots. Or something like that. Lots of input from many people. Anyway, I would get this stuff early in my riding career now. What a difference in comfort and safety.
Put some power sources on your bike so you can charge the phone, camera, Gopro, drone batteries. Many have integrated voltmeters in them now. I have a large expandable magnetic tank bag. Stuff I need to charge goes into that. Also my visor cleaning solution and microfiber towel. Keep your mirrors clean and your visor. You'd be surprised on how this reduces fatigue at the end of the day. Put soft stuff in that bag and then rest yourself on it from time to time. I'd put the CC on then ball up a fist on top of the tank bag and rest my chin on my fist. Perfectly relaxed and seeing just over the windshield in calm air. When doing 500,600,850 mile days you find different positions!
I use synthetic Amsoil as they state that you can safely double the manufacturer's oil recommended intervals. Just remember that if you are um ah going to be riding at 85 to 110 mph for extended periods it will dilute your oil with fuel. I had my oil analysis done after my trip and it was fuel diluted at 10,000 miles. I thought of my FPR until I read that running at high speeds could cause that.
Figure out where you are going to need tires and find a dealer there and talk to them ahead of time. You'll get a better deal most likely. Walk in off the street on a trip you'll get charged msrp for the tires. Good hot weather gloves and some cold weather textile waterproof gloves would be on my list.
I have a Sena20S and listen to tunes, family can call if on the high way ( not in town) and for gps instructions while my phone is tucked away in a waterproof pocket.
I ride with ear plugs to reduce wind noise to preserve my hearing.

That was long, sorry. Hopefully you can glean something from it.

Guy

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I wouldn't change plug wires unless a cylinder is not firing and then I would check the coil first. Never had a Honda wire go bad but have had two coils go bad after 30 years on my 84 wing.
I always got Michelin PR4 GT'S recently on the advice of Beestoy and another forum rider I switched to Bridgestone Evo T31. They said that they were getting excellent milage and good wet weather performance. I bought a set for what a Michelin rear tire costs. Check out americanmototire.com. even if you don't purchase them there I use them to see if the dealers will match or come close to that. They usually match.
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Good advice from xxguy imo.

If you are looking for tips, I would suggest a mesh, light-colored riding jacket and wearing a cotton t-shirt soaked in cold water underneath while in the SW. As you say, it will be brutal in those months down here.

Be prepared to split lanes in SoCal (everyone else will be) as traffic is always bad here; otherwise you run the risk of yourself or your BB overheating.

Sounds like a great trip. The holy grail would be a pic of your BB next to an SR-71. I wonder if that's possible.

I would try and change your oil and filter half way if you can.
 

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If you get to my neck of the woods and need tire and or oil change you can do both here. Second the heated gear and LD Comfort. Also agree on the chain oiler. If lubes correctly you'll get 10,000 plus on chain and sprockets. If you changing out I highly recommend super aprox stealth rear. Got one here with over 100,000 on it and only changed it because the new wheel has a different carrier. As for cool gear tech niche cool vest. It's water evaporative and is easily recharged by dropping it in water. If your running in warmer weather have fabric jacket that breathes not an open mesh. That way the vest will keep you cool for about 2 to 3 hours at speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all for the input.
1) I forgot to mention I planned front forks and clutch fluid replacement.
2) I am planning a chain oiler. That one I can do on my own here. I was planning on getting the Scott Oiler system. I will do some research the chameleon one and see if that will be a better option.
3) TPMS. I have considered that. Garmin has some that are VERY expensive. Around $160'ish for the pair. But they link up seamlessly with the Garmin GPS. That is really nice. Then there are much cheaper options on Amazon. $60 for the pair and monitor. But that will be one more additional item to attach to the bars and occasionally charge. Then option 3, good ol tire pressure gauge. Which I will have packed up anyway. So, I'm weighing out three options free, mid range, expensive with the bells and whistles.
4) Vario winshield installed when I purchased the bike
5) Riding gear. I have most of that sorted out. I'm going Hi-Vis for two reasons. One, for safety. I want to help people see me on the road and that helps to slightly bring down the chances of any incidents (the tiniest bit always helps). The second reason.....Well, stay tuned for that. I'm an all the gear, all the time person...with the exception of riding pants. I never found a set that I liked. I have been looking for a pair of orange pants that I like for this trip.
6) Tank bag. I'm still shopping for one that I like. Ideally I would get one that can take a camelbak water bladder. I can just grab the hose and get a drink while riding. Got to stay hydrated. That's a big factor that kicks peoples butts while riding. Your body is sweating and the wind immediately evaporates your sweat. If you don't stay hydrated, you will get exhausted a lot faster. (former military people have this drilled into their heads. 'DRINK WATER!'....'Beat the Heat Drill Sergeant, Beat the Heat!')
7) I have had a Sena 10S for a long time. I have always just swapped it from helmet to helmet. That will be the one I use on this ride.
8) Thanks for the input on the plug wires. I will take them off of the list of parts to replace. (maybe that cost savings will help me decide on those fancy Garmin TPMS). Also thank you for the tire option. I will look into those and compare.
9) Rear sprocket, I will add the Aprox Stealth to my list of things for Honda to replace.
10) Regular maintenance like oil changes and tires will be done as needed. I have factored most of that into my budget already. I really don't have a set location that I will do maintenance, it will be done as required. More expensive that way, but that will be the proper way to do things. Bees, if I am in your neighborhood I will take you up on that off if I'm getting close to any of my required servicing schedule.
11) Blackbird with Blackbird pics. It will be possible at some locations, especially the outdoor ones. I intend to email every museum director that I can and see if I can work something out where I roll my bike inside (before or after close of business if needed) and get a picture with the airplane. I know some of the more prestigious museums probably won't let me, but I'm going to still ask. The worst thing that will happen is that they say no. Down below will be a pic of my Buell with a Blackbird near the Richmond airport. This plane has since been moved into a nice museum.
Buell.jpg


Kind of on that subject of seeing them all. There are 30 aircraft that survive today (quite a few lost to crashes). The 30th on is in the UK. That may have to be for a future trip, lol. Number 29 here in the US. That one will be a tough one to see. She is currently in Langley Virginia....CIA headquarters. I'm not going to be able to just roll up to the gate and say 'Im here to see your Blackbird'. That one is going to take some work to gain access and see her.
 

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My riding suit...
It would seem hot but I keep all the vents closed until around 75F or 80F. It vents well. Rode in it in 113F in the south west. Had a cooling vest and cooling sleeves. Rode to Beestoy's house 30 miles a way in a tshirt just to test the theory that you are cooler in your gear. I knew within a mile they were right. It was 103F.
This is an Aerostich Roadcrafter.
They have two piece suits too. Bought a cooling vest when Beestoy took me to a cycle gear (?) Store.


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I was looking into that chameleon oiler system. I did a youtube search for 'chameleon oiler blackbird'. Someone with the user name XXGuy had a good install video. lol

This is the jacket I'm going to be wearing...
jacket.jpg

It is an Icon Anthem. I'm going to go with Hi-Vis orange for reasons...……..
Blackbird pilots.jpg
 

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I think I did a second one where I drilled the swing arm.

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Another very good unit is the pro oiler like the chameleon it can use any oil you desire. I run the factory 90 weight gear oil they recommend and works great.
Second on keeping closed up here when it's hot as Guy has found out it is measurably cooler. With the cool vest on and the afore mentioned textile style jacket the air bleeding inot the jacket is enough to cause the vest to flash off your body heat but at a very controlled amount allowing the vest to last the 2 to 2.5 hours in 100 plus degree ambient temps. If your existing rig has a water resistant or proof liner run with it out and you'll get the extended cooling effect. just leave all the vents closed up.
 

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When Kelly Johnson/Lockheed won the CIA's contract for a next generation spyplane, he won it with the 12th variant of his study/proposal design he called Archangel (since U2's code name within the Skunk Works department was Angel).
So when CIA gave the A-12 project a green light, they gave that project a code name Oxcart.
 

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As part of your maintenance list (I didn't see these things mentioned in this thread anywhere) you'll want to check/address two known mileage/time related issues with the Birds'. The cam chain tensioner (recommend replacing with a manual tensioner) and the wiring loom fix. This site had much info on both these topics. With 18k miles your Bird is coming right into the mileage window where both these issues occur.

Also, If it doesn't already have one, I'd get a Power Commander 3 (or 5 if they're available in the near future) and get a good fuel map on the bike. The Birds' are known to be factory tuned quite rich so pulling some fuel out will help the bike run better and oil will stay cleaner longer.
 

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I've always been fascinated with the SR-71. The first time I saw one in person was on a family trip at the Udvar-Hazy Museum in VA. (the space shuttle is so big and cool!) Subsequently I learned that there was a specimen at Air Zoo in Kalamazoo MI. I thought it would be great to take Redbird to the Blackbird. So I corralled a couple of riding buddies, one who is retired Air Force, and off we went. Great trip. We took the scenic route up from Chicago. I didn't enjoy the return trip as much because we took the interstate and I felt rather exposed. I won't do that route again. Maybe its time to find another to visit....

BTW -- I am a member of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. I learned that I could have gotten free admission through reciprocity had I brought my membership card. If you are going to visit 29 of these this could save you some $$.
 
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