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Hot Stuff (not the Donna Summers song)

NOTE:  Once again, the length of this post will require that I break it into two, more readable, posts.  As always, I am thinking about you, the reader.

Hey!  Let’s take the Gold Wing somewhere REALLY hot, and then ride around in the heat for a few days!

That sounds like a great idea, Sweetie!  Can we make sure there is a lot of wind, too, just to make sure we REALLY feel the heat?

To be fair, it has been almost a year since we took the trip that I am now writing about, so my memory of that conversation may be a bit off.  On the other hand, I can’t think of any other way that we would have looked at the weather forecast for the four-day trip, noticed that it was going to be damn hot, and then still decided to head in that direction.

The trip we had in mind, minus the ridiculous heat, was to head from our home in Wyoming down to Grand Junction, Colorado, and then play around in that area for a few days before heading back home.  The trip was to take us to, or over, several places that my wife and/or I wanted to visit in western Colorado and eastern Utah.  Those places include:

  • Switchbacks on US 191 north of Vernal, Utah
  • Douglas Pass, US 191, Colorado
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • US 550, Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
  • Durango, Colorado
  • Moab, Utah (and surrounding area)

I am happy to say that we made it to all of those attractions.

Day 1

The first day was innocent enough, at first…  During the first half of the day’s ride to Grand Junction, my only annoyance was the chip-sealing of the switchbacks north of
Vernal, Utah.  I have been on this stretch of road many times, a few of them were even on a motorcycle.  I really enjoy this section of road, because, well, twisty-turny roads are AWESOME, but was disappointed to see the road construction signs as we approached the fun part of the road.  Imagine the feeling the Griswold family had after driving across the country to visit Wally World, only to find that it was closed.  Yeah, that kind of feeling…  (If I used emoticons in my writing, I would have a few of the frowny face things here, but I don’t, so there aren’t…)

After passing through Vernal, Utah, we started to get a glimpse of the weather that would be waiting for us.  That day’s high temperature in Vernal, Utah was 99 °F.  It was a good thing we took the Gold Wing, we were going to need the factory-installed air conditioning before the trip was over…

Douglas-Pass-looking-SE

Looking southeast from the top of Douglas Pass, Colorado

Douglas Pass, Colorado, is another place I have always wanted to ride a motorcycle.  I have driven over the pass many times as well, but this trip was the first time I was able to ride over it.  At an elevation of 8268 feet, the temperature at the top of the pass was much cooler than the lower elevations on either side of the pass.  It would be several days before we felt temperatures that cool again.  While we were at the top, we stopped to take in the sights.  There aren’t may sights, but we took in what we could.  For those of you that have not been over Douglas Pass, you should know that the road on the eastern side of the pass just kind of hangs on to the side of a mountain.  It’s not vertical, but it is enough to give some people the willies.  A careful eye will also pick out the remains of various land slides that have hit the area.  I don’t have any good scary pictures of the road, but here is a photo of the valley on the east side of the pass.

As we figured, the temperature heading from Douglas Pass into Grand Junction, Colorado was still warm.  We would end up seeing a high of 105 °F before we got the the hotel and called it a night.  In addition to the heat, there was an increasing southwest wind as we approached Grand Junction.

Wind Chill

We made it to the hotel, the condition of which could be its own post if I wanted to give them some free advertising, while it was still daylight, and still quite warm.  For those of you that have never tried, believe me when I tell you that there is not much of a cooling effect when riding 65 miles-per-hour in temperatures over 100 °F.  In fact, according to the wind chill calculator on onlineconversion.com, the wind chill actually goes up for that combination.

The day ended with me walking to the convenience store next door and buying two extra-large lemonades – one for each of us.  At the time, I couldn’t imagine a more refreshing way to wash down the day’s heat.

Day 1 Map

Day 1: Home – Vernal – Grand Junction

Day 2

It’s one of the nation’s most spectacular drives.

Forget standard driving safety measures like guardrails and shoulders, there aren’t any on this stretch, so swerving off the road is not advised!

The two quotes above are from the Million Dollar Highway’s page on DangerousRoads.org.  This highway, also known as U.S. Highway 550, was our goal for the day.  Sure, we had a place in mind that we were heading to, but that wasn’t the point of this day’s ride.  The plan was to ride from Grand Junction, Colorado to Durango, Colorado.  As was the case on Day 1, the temperature on Day 2 was forecast to be, and actually was, above 100 °F.   Yep, another hot one…

The trip between Grand Junction and Durango can be broken down into three sections:  Grand Junction to Ouray, Ouray to Silverton, and Silverton to Durango.  The first section, Grand Junction to Ouray, goes through relatively flat farm land.  This section was the warmest.  We reached Ouray about noon.

Leaving Ouray, the road snakes up the side of a mountain a couple of times before heading south into the mountains.  I’ll be honest, I can try to describe the view and the road, but I think the following six-minute video, shot by Jim O’Callaghan (thank you very much, Jim) will do a much better job, especially if you like smooth jazz…

The second section, from Ouray to Silverton, is, in my opinion, the most spectacular of the three sections.  While we were riding this section, I don’t think anything negative happened that was worth writing about (I’m trying to cut this down a bit).  This section goes over Red Mountain Pass, elevation 11,018 feet.  I think this is the highest elevation that this bike has seen.  Frequent readers will remember that we took a Gold Wing up Pikes Peak several years ago.  We were on our first Gold Wing for that trip, so my previous assertion is still true.  With any luck, we will head to an area with roads that are even higher up this summer.  Right now, I’m thinking either Rocky Mountain National Park or Glacier National Park.  Both are high on my riding wish list.  With a little more luck you may even be able to read about the ride this year…

Hwy-550-Tunnel

Silverton, Colorado is the break point between the second and last sections of Hwy 550, at least for the purpose of this write-up.  It’s a nice little town, nestled in a flat valley surrounded by high peaks, but unless you actually stop and look around, you just won’t see much of it because the highway just skirts the edge of town before heading back up into the mountains.  As we headed back into the mountains, we were left with a great overlook of Silverton, assuming that we wanted to turn our heads like an owl.  We would have a better view on the way back.  The rest of the trip into Durango was also largely just a post-card view-fest.  We ran into a little bit of road construction, and a little bit of rain found us, but neither were worth more than the passing mention they are receiving here.

Durango is a neat town.  Like many of the places we visit, I have been there before, but never on a motorcycle, and I have never just walked around the town.  Once we rolled into town, we made a couple of passes up and down the main streets (either we were looking for a place that looked good to eat, or we just wanted to make sure that EVERYBODY could see that we were now in town).

After our main street passes, we parked and walked around for a bit, still looking for a good place to eat.  For lunch/dinner, we settled on Steamworks Brewing Company.  Because it’s been a while since we were there, I can’t remember the specifics of the food we had, other than we both enjoyed it, and I think it was a bit spendy – though still worth it.  After lunch, we walked around the downtown area a bit more, and then mounted up to retrace our route back to Grand Junction.

Thinking back on the walking around we did I realized that many of the places we visit have a glaring similarity.  I have found a common theme that connects these tourist-trap towns:  T-shirt shops.  I have a strong feeling that if people stopped buying and wearing T-shirts, then many towns, to include Durango, West Yellowstone, and Sturgis, would go out of business.  I know…  I know…  You are yelling back at your monitor something to the effect of “But these towns have bars, too!  The bars will keep the towns up and running.”  You may be right.  The way I see it, if T-shirts go out of style, the country will have to go one of two ways;  either the country will become better dressed, better mannered, and more sober, in which case these towns may be doomed, or the country turns the movie Idiocracy into a documentary, resulting in an anarchistic hell-hole, complete with the electrolytes plants crave…

Sorry about that – where was I?  Oh yeah…  Leaving Durango, retracing, yep, here we are.  Again, we ran into rain, construction, a great view of Silverton, roads seemingly holding onto cliffs for dear life, and heat while we headed back to our hotel.

On the way back, we traversed Red Mountain Pass, again.  For me, it was just as awesome as the first time.  For my wife, well, I don’t want to put words into her mouth, but I feel safe to say that it was just as, uhhh, something for her as is was the first time, too.  No matter…  I was driving, so I decided to stop at the top of the pass this time around and get a picture.  Some guys like to take pictures of their family members at the places they visit;  I like to take pictures of my bikes in the places we visit…

Gold-Wing-Red-Mtn-Pass

I will say that the temperatures had cooled a bit by the time we dropped out of the mountains into Ouray, so while it was still warm, it wasn’t enough to make you read any more about it.  I don’t remember if it was windy or not that afternoon, leading me to assume that it also wasn’t windy enough to comment on.  Once we got back to the hotel, a little after 8 PM, we had two more lemonades as night-caps and easily fell asleep.

Day 2 Map

Day 2: Grand Junction – Durango – Grand Junction (336 miles)

 This is the end of the first part of this post.  I will publish the second part – eventually.  If you want to be notified when the second half is published, enter your email address into the box about the “Follow G26 MotoBlog” button at the top-right of this page, then click on the “Follow G26 MotoBlog” button.

And then there were five…

After a long wait, I have a short post this time.  Don’t worry, I will make up for it with the next post…

In an effort to reduce the amount of stuff we have, I sold my CBR500R.  I never did ride it much, so I won’t miss it nearly as much as I will enjoy the extra garage space.  With the CBR gone, we are down to five motorcycles.  There are still a couple more in the garage that don’t get much love, so I may be looking to unload those as well.

Goodbye, CBR…

CBR500R Fire Hole CanyonGold Wing and CBR Tetons

 

Link

Lane splitting law progress in the U. S.

I had the chance to split lanes legally, or not illegally at least, in California a couple of years ago.  If proper technique is combined with general motorist acceptance, I think lane-splitting will work here in the U. S.

http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/motorcycle-lane-splitting-laws-crawl-along?src=SOC

And now, Part II

Note:  This is a long post.  Pack a lunch…

Due to a time-consuming side project (plotting world domination) I haven’t had much time to finish off the two-part post I started last, uhhh, off hand I can’t even remember when I posted the first half.  Let’s just go with last year.

As we left the last installment I was about to talk about a motorcycle rally that both my brother and I took part in.  The rally was the Menage-a-Trois Rally, starting in Salt Lake City, UT at the end of last August.  The three or four of you that actually read this blog may remember my mentioning it once or twice.  If you are unsure about what this rally is all about, feel free to read up a bit here: 2015 Ménage-a-Trois’ Rally Information.

As I mentioned above, this rally started in Salt Lake City, Utah.  My brother and I shared a room for the event.  I was really hoping that sharing a room with my brother on this trip would go much more smoothly than in years past.  There was a time, many years ago, when we shared a room.  Some days were better than others in that shared room.  I don’t remember many specifics, but I have a general recollection that some of the nights just weren’t peaceful.  I’m sure that our parents can back me up on this.  At any rate, we shared a room and our parents will be glad to know that as we both approach the half-century mark, we can finally share a room without waking up the whole neighborhood.

The first night, a Thursday, was spent catching up with my brother and meeting the other participants.  This event brought people from all over the country, each of whom had a different level of riding experience.  In our other rally together, my brother and I were both riding in our first long distance rally.  This time was much different – this time we were both in our second rally.  We were experienced…

I’m not sure what my brother thought, but after talking to several of the other riders, I didn’t feel that my “experience” was going to be worth a whole lot in this event.  Actually, I’ll take that back a bit.  I did have a general feel for what was going to happen and knew, this time, how much I didn’t know.

MaT-Rally-Towel

My Rally Towel

Friday was spent prepping our bikes, finishing up administrative stuff, and, if there was any free time, getting a bit ahead on our sleep.  The admin stuff included picking up our rally packets, filling out forms, completing our mileage checks, and making our rally towels.  For this rally we were given a blank white golf towel along with instructions to make a towel that was uniquely ours.  My rally towel is shown on the right.  Yes, that is all my own design and development work.  Some of us were better prepared for this step than others…

The last admin step was the rider meeting.  It was at the meeting that we learned that riders who had signed up for the 36 hour rally were also eligible to participate in the 24 and 12 hour rallies, but they would be able to use all 36 hours to gain points for the shorter rallies.  This annoyed (yeah, I’ll stick with “annoyed” even though it doesn’t really do the actual reaction justice) a few of the riders that were signed up for only the shorter rallies.  My brother and I thought it was great.

Without looking for the actually schedule of events, I think the rider meeting took place at 6 pm.  At 8 pm we were free to leave the hotel and start the rally.  The time in between was spent first at the rider meeting and then in our room planning our route.  We had the list of bonus locations, and now we needed to figure out where we were going to go.  I mentioned earlier that I did a lot of researching.  Much of the research was looking at bonus locations from previous rallies and planning possible routes.  Based on the bonus locations in our rally packets, it turns out that almost all of that time was wasted…

It also turns out that while my brother and I generally have a great time riding together, we make a terrible rally team.  First off, neither one of us want to be subordinate to, or take direction from, the other.  That was obvious pretty much from the start when I wanted to take off north to Glacier National Park and he wanted to head to the sauna…  OK, he didn’t really want to go into the sauna, he just didn’t want to head north.  I guess that his thin southern-border blood just can’t hang with my thick Wyoming blood (Little bro, I realize that I just called you out, but this is my blog and my story.  You want your version posted?   Write it up and I’ll post it…).  As the clock approached 9 pm – an hour past start time – we were still in our hotel room doing a north vs. south version of this:

Finally, I realized that with my bigger fairing and heated hand grips, my bike may be a bit better equipped for colder weather than my brother’s bike, so I gave in.  No glaciers on this trip.  That decided, we left the hotel and headed off into the sunset towards what, during daylight, would have been the most boring part of the ride – the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The flats weren’t our destination, just something we had to cross as a part of the initial loop of our route.  This loop would take us west along Interstate 80 as we skirt the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake, across the Bonneville Salt Flats, and into Nevada.  One nice thing about crossing the flats at night is that because it is dark I can at least pretend that I am riding past something worth looking at.  Another is that there is very little traffic, of any kind, on the 40 mile stretch of interstate that is straight as a ruler and sports a posted speed limit of 80 mph.  I think I have mentioned it in other posts, but cruise control comes in very handy along this stretch.

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

This is a picture from a previous crossing of the flats while riding a bike I owned a while ago.  As you can see, there just isn’t much to see.  To further demonstrate the desolation of the area, I was standing in the middle of I-80 when I took this picture.  I had time to take several pictures without worrying about traffic.  Back to the rally…

Once we crossed the salt flats we stopped at a casino in West Wendover, Nevada so we could try to get our first real points from a bonus location.  In this case the points would be from a keno ticket or lottery ticket.  We tried to find a parking place close to the casino entrance but couldn’t find one.  We ended up parking a bit farther away from the casino than either one of us really wanted to walk.  We also spent the next ten minutes or so trying to decide if we were going to go in or head down the road and get those points somewhere else.  The fact that it took longer to decide what we were going to do than it would have taken to just go in and get a keno ticket just reinforces my feeling that we just don’t make a good rally team.  In the end we left without any keno tickets, got some gas, and continued on into the night.

About thirty miles west of West Wendover is an interchange that, on a map, looks like a small town called Oasis, Nevada.  We didn’t see a town.  We turned northeast onto highway 233 and headed towards Idaho while bucking an increasingly strong crosswind.

This was a relatively uneventful stretch of road, mostly because we could only see what our headlights were illuminating, and that was just the road ahead.  We crossed back in to Utah at about 11:30 pm with about 180 miles under our belts.

Somewhere around 1 am on Saturday morning we turned onto a long, empty, flat, straight stretch of road with the wind to our backs.  I’ll give you a few seconds to put that all together.  Yep, race time.  For those of you that are worried that we participated in an illegal drag race, rest assured that to the best of my knowledge we only raced to to posted speed limit.  My brother’s bike got off the line first and took an early lead, but my newer bike with more horse power stole the show with a top speed of, uhhh, 70 mph or so.  Yeah, we’ll go with that.

With our brief childish folly behind us we pulled in to Snowville, UT for some fuel and then continued on towards Malad City, Idaho.  Again, this part of the trip was largely empty and dull, though at one point I had to hit the brakes hard as I rounded a curve in order to avoid three small deer that were lounging in the middle of the road.  We hit Malad City about 2:30 Saturday morning.  This is one of those towns that just rolls up the sidewalks at night.

After Malad City we hit Interstate 15 and headed back to the hotel in Salt Lake City to finish the first loop.  Fast and smooth, this leg got us back to the hotel by about 4:30 am for a few hours of sleep.  The first loop took us seven and a half hours and covered about 420  miles.

BMW-Shop

The real Saturday morning would be the start of what we considered to be the main part of our rally.  Friday night had been mostly about padding our miles to ensure that we got the 1632 miles we needed to cover by the end of the rally.  The sun was now up.  We wiped the sleep from our eyes, jumped on the bikes and headed towards the first bonus location of the day – a shooting event not far from the hotel.  Without going into any details, we got our bonus points and then went to breakfast.  After breakfast we stopped at an independent BMW motorcycle shop for some more points.  At this shop I had my first lesson in making sure that I have all of my stuff before leaving.  As I was climbing on my bike my brother asked me if I planned on grabbing my rally towel before we left.  It was still hanging on the side of the building after I took the bonus picture to prove that I was there.  Leaving my rally towel behind would have been a big problem.  I’m glad my brother noticed that I didn’t have it.

From this point on the ride becomes mostly about riding.  We left the Salt Lake City area and headed towards the southeast part of Utah via Provo, Price, Green River, and Moab.

A little side note here:  Riding in this part of the state in late August gets a bit warm.  In order to beat the heat (and to get a few more bonus points) we both purchased LD Comfort riding skivvies.  I was wearing the Long Sleeve Top and the Men’s Riding Shorts.  I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first.  Wearing a thick long sleeve shirt under my full windproof riding gear on a hot day didn’t seem right.  After riding all day in temperatures approaching 100 deg F and following the instructions provided with the garments, I can say that they work as advertised.  Thumbs up from G26 MotoBlog!

While I am on the subject of the weather, I need to add that the weather for this ride was much better than it was when we participated in the Land of Enchantment 1000 Rally back in 2008.  During that rally I would estimate that we had some form of precipitation during about 600 of the 1000 miles we covered.  Some of the rain was very heavy.  It was much cooler then as well, with daytime temperatures ranging from the high 50’s to the low 70’s instead of the mid to high 90’s.

Shortly before pulling in to Moab, Utah, we took some side trips to grab a few more points.  This time we needed pictures of our rally towels with the Canyonlands National Park sign and the Arches National Park sign.  Although I have been to Moab several times, I have never stopped at either one of these two parks.  Honestly, I still haven’t REALLY spent any time at either park because all we did was stop, take some pictures, and go.

Two-Bikes-Canyonlands-Sign

I was going to post the actual picture that scored points, but I just realized that I have barely mentioned either of the bikes we rode, and don’t have any pictures of the bikes up other than the one at the top of the post, and that doesn’t show much.  I was riding my 2014 Yamaha FJR1300 – the red bike.  My brother was riding his 2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250.  Both are great bikes that are well suited to riding long distances, though my FJR is just a bit better.

Once we made it past Moab we continued south to Monticello, Utah and then headed east to Cortez, Colorado (state number 4 if your are counting).  Somewhere between Moab and Montecello I was able to take the picture below.  This shows my brother on his Bandit riding south on U.S. Highway 191.

Lonely Road

We stopped for fuel in Cortez and almost made it out of town without having to mention it again until we had two conversations in the gas station parking lot.  I had the first conversation with a guy that parked next to us on his motorcycle.  The conversation made little sense, and after it was over my brother was wondering if I was actually having the same conversation as the guy I was talking to.  More interestingly, however, was the fact that he had a small pet carrier strapped to the back of his bike.  Something was in the carrier, but I could never see what it was and I didn’t really want to ask.  All I know is that whatever was in the kennel would sit quietly for a while and then move around frantically for a bit, and then calm down.  It could have been a small dog, it could have been a small chupacabra

The second conversation was between my brother, me, and a local.  It was more of the “We don’t like your kind around here” and “Don’t get caught around here after sunset” type of conversations made famous by cheesy westerns.  The conversation was civil, but the two sentiments listed above were present, though veiled.  In retrospect, he could have been implying that chupacabras are in the area and can be dangerous after dark, but I doubt it.

Fueled up, confused about the critter on the back of the first guy’s bike, and not really caring what the other guy really meant, we headed southwest out of Cortez to the Four Corners National Monument.  We made it to the monument at about 5:30 Saturday afternoon.  While the approach to the monument is paved, the parking lot is not.  Both of us were hoping that nobody spilled a box of screws that were now hidden in the gravel.

Four-Corners-National-MonumentAs I have mentioned several times, my brother and I make a lousy rally team.  Aside from the fact that we can’t seem to agree on anything route related until we absolutely have to, we also generally end up just being brothers out for a ride.  That means that it is difficult, at best, for us to stop, do ONLY what needs to be done, and then get going again.  We always seem to end up doing some sight seeing, taking pictures, or some other type of goofing off.  This is great for general purpose riding round, it’s not so great for timed rallies.  As evidence, I present the photo above.  This had nothing to do with the rally and I didn’t need to take it, and yet, here it is.  I will give two points, redeemable for absolutely noting, to the first person that can tell me which state my brother is standing in.

We left the Four Corners Monument and continued west into Arizona, bringing our state total to six by adding New Mexico and Arizona in short order.  Again, riding around this part of the country is a bit dull and monotonous, more so if you are used to this kind of landscape.  Our plan was to, or at least my plan, was to go past Lake Powell and then run up past a few of the National Parks in southern Utah before heading north to Salt Lake City.  Somewhere in Arizona we figured out that we weren’t going to have enough time to take that route and make it back to the hotel in time to qualify as finishers.  About 80 miles into Arizona we decided not to worry about the points and just get back to the hotel in time and with enough miles to be considered finishers.  At Kayenta, Arizona we turned north on U.S. 163 and heading back into Utah.  This route would take us through the Monument Valley.  At this time it was 7 pm on Saturday.  It was still light out but we weren’t heading into the sun.  The roads were still long, generally straight, and empty.  We were making good time as we passed Mexican Hat, Utah and were a few miles from reentering Monticello, Utah.

I was the lead bike and crested a hill about three miles south of Monticello.  At this point it was about 9 pm and mostly dark outside.  We had been riding without problem for some time now and were fairly liberal with the throttles.  I don’t remember how fast I was going, but I am confident I was going all of the posted 70 MPH, if not more, when I saw a fresh, full-sized deer carcass sprawled across my lane.  Between the speed I was traveling and the short distance between me and the dead deer I didn’t have any time to swerve around the deer.

dungeywinThe description of the next few seconds is a mix of “I think”s from my mind and descriptions after the fact from my brother, who was following me.  First, let me step back a bit and say that I spend a lot of time riding my off-roadish bike, a 2009 Kawasaki KLR650, off road.  I have learned how to occasionally adapt to unexpected obstacles, and recover from unstable situations.  “I think” that some of this knowledge came in handy as I hit the deer.  I would like to think that I slowed down as much as I could before hitting the deer, then stood up on the pegs and leaned back a bit while I goosed the throttle to lighten up the front wheel.  What I do know is that I hit the deer at a good rate of speed, went airborne with the bike, and did a heel clicker over the finish line as flames shot out from the finish line banner supports while the crowd went crazy.  It was awesome!!

Wait, that doesn’t seem right.  That may have been the ending of the last Supercross race that I watched.  The fact that we had been riding for a while mixed with the eight months or so of time between…  Anyway, I remember now.  I did hit the deer. The bike did go airborne, though only eighteen inches or so (that’s still about eighteen inches higher than an FJR is supposed to go), and I did land on two wheels.  How?  I don’t know.  The running commentary in my head went something like this:

I see the deer, “What’s that?”

I approach the deer, “Shit!!  Oh Shit!!”

I hit the deer “Ouch, it’s gonna get worse…”

I land again, “Don’t crash, don’t crash, don’t crash…”

I don’t crash, “Wait, what??  DUDE, I ROCK!!”

At that point I pulled over to continue rocking on two feet instead of two wheels (or in the air), and to check out the bike to make sure it wasn’t damaged.  I didn’t see any major damage but I wasn’t quite ready to ride.  My brother suggested that we try to move the deer out of the road so some other idiot doesn’t hit it, too.  We rode the bikes back up to the deer, parked in an entrance to a side road, and illuminated the deer with our headlights.  Before we could move the still-intact deer off the road a car crested the hill and turned the deer into a pile of goo.  My brother ended up grabbing the deer by the ears and pulled it off the road.  I couldn’t find any other solid places to grab, so I let him do all the work.

The car that hit the deer didn’t fare as well as I did, suffering some body damage as well as some damage to the suspension of the right front wheel.  Neither person in the car was injured, but the car was going to need a ride home.  A state patrol officer happened to drive by the scene and checked on us.  After we assured him that I was somehow OK and didn’t need to write up an accident report he went to check on the car.

In later conversations, my brother would tell me that he saw the back end of the bike go up in the air, come back down on two wheels but also leaning hard to the left, wobble left to right a bit, and then straighten out.  He didn’t see the deer until I had hit it.  Fortunately, he didn’t hit it as well.

Front-Wheel-Fur

Lower-Fairing-Fur

Rear-Wheel-Fur

We left the scene and went into Monticello, where we stopped so I could finish unpuckering.  I checked the bike over again and found lots a hair and some blood on the bike.  The only damage I found was a small crack along the bottom right side of the fairing.  The smell of burning fur stuck with the bike for some time, however.  While we were looking for damage on my bike we happened to take a look at my brother’s rear tire.  The tread along the center of the tire was gone and metal strands were starting to show through in a couple of places.  Concern shifted from my what-could-have-been to my brother’s what’s-going-to-happen-with-this?

I though we were done with the rally at that point.  I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go on, at least not at the pace we were riding in the dark.  Eventually my pucker-con (compared to Def-Con) returned to normal and my brother decided that as long as we stopped to check his tire out every fifty miles or so he would be fine.  Against most forms of logic we decided to head off into the night.  Before we left we decided that we had probably lost too much time to get the full 1632 miles necessary to “finish” the 36 hour rally, but we could still end up with an Iron Butt Association Bun Burner 1500 certification as long as we completed over 1500 miles in the 36 hours of the rally.  Game on…

The route we chose would take us back up through Moab to I-70, and then west on I-70 to I-15, and then north back to the hotel in Salt Lake City.  That route would cover about 460 miles.  It was 10 pm, we had about 10 hours to make it back, we had to stop periodically to check my brother’s tire, and we were already pushing sleep boundaries.  Logic?  We don’t need no steenkin’ logic!  Let’s ride!

Aside from the periodic tire checks we didn’t have any problems.  In daylight, parts of I-70 through Utah are gorgeous to drive through, as long as you stop in either Salinas or Green River, Utah for gas.  These are the end points of a 110 mile, or so, stretch without any services.  This doesn’t come into play on this trip, I just mention it because it’s there to be mentioned.  The sun started to come up on Sunday morning as we approached Provo, Utah.  This has historically been when I have the hardest time staying awake.   We were stopping more often now, both to stay awake and to check on my brother’s dwindling tire rubber.  It was showing metal threads through the rubber more that half of the way around.

We made it back to the hotel at 7:10; we had 50 minutes to spare.  The odometer check as we checked in told us that we didn’t have enough points to be considered finishers in the 36 hour event, though we did have more than 1500 miles, so the Bun Burner certifications and the shorter rallies were still good.  We were able to get a couple of hours of sleep before we hit the scoring table.

I mentioned a rally we participated in back in 2008.  The end result of that rally is that I came in next to last, while my brother came in next to next to last – just ahead of me.  During that rally he ran out of fuel and I had to double back to give him a hand.  The way that rally was scored meant that because I had more miles than he did, he had a better score even though we had the same amount of points.

After the scoring we got some more sleep and then went to the rally dinner to see how we did.  This time around, due to different ways that we chose to apply our similar points, I came out ahead of my brother.  I ended up in fourth place for the 24 hour rally and my brother came in fifth.  That, alone, was worth everything we had gone through.  OK, that and the fact that we had fun and somehow made it back safely, but mostly it was finishing in front of my brother…

Back-Tire

At some point on Sunday we loaded my brother’s bike on the trailer he used to bring it up.  In hind sight, that was a great plan because his rear tire would not have made the ride back to his house.  I loaded my stuff on my bike and headed home to Wyoming.  That was a measly 200 mile daylight drive on the interstate, hardly worth mentioning after the ride we had just completed.  My brother spent the night in Salt Lake City and drove home in relative comfort the next day.

Now that some time has passed, we have both received our Iron Butt Association Bun Burner certifications.  Over the course of the ride we each covered more than 1,500 miles in less than 36 hours, visited 6 states, saw many deer, and just generally had a great time riding with each other.  I’m sure that as time passes the stories will get better.  In fact, I fully expect the dead deer that I hit to become a live elk, or even moose, sometime in my next 15 to 20 years.  The weather is surely to go from fairly warm to either “well over 120 degrees and not a cloud in sight” or “worst blizzard ever, and in August no less”.  By then I may even have hit the moose/elk and gone airborne over an oncoming RV.  I will be approaching 80, so I may even believe it myself…

BB1500 MaT0001

I know it’s been a bit of a journey reading this thing.  Thanks for sticking with it.

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Summer is over, time to reflect – Part I

NOTE:  This was going to be one post, but I just keep typing.  The two rides will be split into two posts for the sake of any poor sap that starts to read this and then realizes that I just keep going on, and on, and on…

Wow, I knew it had been a while since I wrote up my last post here, but almost three months?  That, in my book, is too long.  I will say that it has been a busy summer.  Most of my days off were consumed by large-scale family events/projects.  My last set of days off, however, was pretty much all about riding.  Two bikes, two different rides, two different riding partners, eight states, and one injustice set straight (more about this in Part II).

The two rides consisted of a ride around the Black Hills with my wife on our Gold Wing, and a 36 hour/1632 miles rally called the Menage-a-Trois Rally with my brother on the FJR.  I believe I have mentioned it before.

Blsck-Hills-SignFirst was the Black Hills ride.  This ride came about somewhat unexpectedly.  My wife had mentioned that we should take a ride on the Gold Wing this summer – several times.  Finding the time was the tough part.  It looked like we had a weekend free in August so my wife, once again, mentioned a ride.  This time she had details and a destination in mind – the Black Hills in South Dakota.  Don’t get me wrong, here, I am always willing to go on a ride with her.  I was just a bit surprised that she seemed excited to go on a four day ride.  I didn’t argue.

The plan was to ride up to Gillette, Wyoming the first day, spend the second day playing around the Black Hills before spending the night in Deadwood, South Dakota, visit Devil’s Tower before spending the third day heading back to Gillette for the night again, and then head back home on the fourth day.  The trip went largely as planned, though Devil’s Tower was replaced by an air show at Ellsworth Air Force Base featuring the Thunderbirds.  I currently owe my wife a trip to Devil’s Tower.

Days one and four were pretty much travel days, with nothing exciting going on other than riding, so other than to say that day one was hot and day four was cold, I won’t say much about them.  Day two, the trip to, and around, the Black Hills was also quite warm.  We left Gillette at a reasonable time in the morning (that means we didn’t get up at some God-awful time in the morning, and I wasn’t chomping at the bit waiting on anybody else before we could leave) and headed east through Moorcroft and Newcastle, Wyoming to Custer, South Dakota.  In general, that portion of the trip was as dull as most riding is in Wyoming.  Yes, I know that there are parts of Wyoming that are great to ride through, but by no means should any of you that have never been to Wyoming believe, not even for a second, that the entire state is awesome, beautiful, or even scenic.  Just… Don’t…

16A-OverpassA quick side note.  The Black Hills are in southwest South Dakota.  Within the Black Hills are Mount Rushmore, Black Hills National Forest, Custer State Park, and a few other areas that are much more scenic than the adjacent areas in Wyoming.  Also in the Black Hills is a road called U.S. Route 16A, a great road to ride a motorcycle on due to all of the twists, turns, tunnels, switchbacks, and pigtail thingies where the road circles around to go over (or under) itself.  At this point I was going to put in an image that I was about to shamelessly steal from another website, but the site had several good pictures of the area so instead I will post a picture that my wife took and also put up a link to that page, instead.  Please visit Dakotagraph.com to see some other great pics of the area.

Crazy-Horse-DuetUh oh.  It looks as though I have jumped ahead of myself (Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to earlier in that day).

OK, here we are.  The first notable stop in the Black Hills was at the Chief Crazy Horse Memorial, a couple of miles north of Custer, South Dakota.  I have been to this memorial before, but this was the first time for my wife.  While it is a neat place to stop, I doubt that many people plan to make this giant statue the cornerstone of their vacation.  In the picture to the left you can see a 1/34th scale representation of the memorial in the foreground while the actual sculpture is in the distance.  To be honest, I can’t see a difference between the way it looks now and the way it looked when I was there in 2008.

Burro-Blocking-TrafficWith the Crazy Horse Memorial now in the mirrors, we went back to Custer, turned left, and headed towards our next point of interest – the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop.  This stretch of road is exactly what it sounds like, a loop of road with a high possibility of seeing wildlife – and wildlife we saw.  I’m not talking about bunnies and prairie dogs here, though there are both plentiful there.  On the other hand, I’m not talking about lions, tigers, and bears either, though we were told that bears are in the area.  The wildlife we went to see, and did see, were bison (buffalo, and tatanka for you Dances with Wolves fans).  Custer State Park goes to great lengths to ensure that people visiting the Wildlife Loop know that the animals in the park are wild.  Visitors are warned NOT to feed, touch, or even approach the animals.  Apparently, the park officials forgot to tell the wild (feral, actually) burros, whose main goal in life seems to be to mooch food from visitors – and get their noses rubbed.  From what we saw, they love that…  They also really seem to enjoy loitering in the middle of the road and causing traffic to wait on them.

Wildlife-Loop-Bison The traffic finally made its way around the amazing wild (but still begging) burros, we continued down the Wildlife Loop, and we finally found a herd of bison.  In order to get a closer look at the bison we had to take the Gold Wing on a well maintained dirt road.  If you clicked on the link I provided for the Wildlife Loop, you can see that bison are large, and not afraid to hang out in and around traffic.  Simply put, cars don’t scare, or even intimidate these large critters.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these are the animals the park officials warned us about.  We weren’t the only vehicles that detoured onto the dirt to see the bison.  We were, however, the only vehicle that didn’t have two or four  metal doors, as well as windows and a roof to protect the occupants.  I was OK with this.  My wife, not so much.  We had to ride within a few feet of a couple of the bison, and then do it again after we turned around to leave the area.  As we slowly (due to traffic, but still too slowly according to my wife) rolled past the herd my wife took the picture on the left.  No zoom here, we were within six feet of the critter.  This was the only herd of bison that we saw.   We didn’t see any bears, either.  Later in the day we did see a couple of mountain goats along the side of the road, though.

Moving on past the wildlife loop we took the ride up U.S. Route 16A, also called Iron Mountain Road.  I covered that above, so I will just gloss over it now.  The ride was great, scenery beautiful, and we (my wife and I, riding together on our Geezer Glide) were able to push two guys in the curves after they blew by us on a straight section of road.  Anybody can ride fast and loud on a straight road, as these two road pirates demonstrated.  Once the road veered (a lot), either lack of skill or lack of maneuverability caused them to slow WAY down and they ended up holding us back, too (I hate that), though they would pull away when the road straightened out.  At some point I found my inner Zen and slowed down enough to let them pull ahead and out of view.  At two other points I had to look for that Zen as well.  In retrospect, if that’s the biggest thing I had to complain about on the trip then it was a pretty good trip.

Mt-Rushmore-FlagsThe fun road behind us, we motored on to Mount Rushmore.  This was one of the primary destinations of this trip.  It’s not real exciting to watch because Mount Rushmore is a fairly static display.  I’m sure it has something to do with the whole etched-in-stone thing.  Anyway, the park was full of the obligatory visitors, complete with unruly kids, bus tours full of foreigners wondering who these guys are, an annoying know-it-all that won’t stop spouting off trivia to annoyed listeners (wait, that was me – never mind) and, worst of all, people with selfie-sticks.  If you look hard you can actually see Teddy Roosevelt scowling over the use these new-fangled banes of society.  As I was ranting about them, my wife told me that we actually have a selfie-stick in our house.  OUR HOUSE!!!  What is the world coming to?  Sorry, I need a moment…

OK.  I’m back.  After I recovered from the trauma of my wife’s admission we got back on the Gold Wing and worked our way to Deadwood, South Dakota.  We would spend the night there.  The ride to Deadwood was pleasant.  Not much traffic, good weather, and great company.  I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but my wife and I have intercoms in our helmets that allow us to chat back and forth while we are riding.  This leads to some great conversations during the rides, and is much preferable to the old way of communicating – a hand smacking my helmet.  It’s even worse if I can’t differentiate between *Smack – look at that over there, and *SMACK – I have to pee, NOW!  I hated it when she had to repeat herself…  That’s all in the past.  We have intercoms, now, and when we aren’t talking we can listen to XM Radio if we want to.  Yeah, life is rough.

We spent the night at Cadillac Jack’s Casino.  The hotel was clean and comfortable and the food was quite tasty.  The casino was decent, though I’m not much of a gambler, so I’m not really an expert.  I was a bit annoyed that all of the penny slot machines were set to bet the maximum bet.  The fact that I both know this and am annoyed by it should give you an idea of what kind of gambler I am.

At some point during our stay in the hotel we heard that there was an air show at nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base, and that the U.S Air Force Thunderbirds would be performing.  Plans – sometimes they change.

Gold-Wing-Sturgis-SignAt the start of day three we left the casino a little earlier than we originally planned so we could get to the air show in time for me to wander around aimlessly for a while before the Thunderbirds started their show.  I can’t remember the last time I saw the Thunderbirds.  I know that I have seen them, but I can’t put a place and time on the last time.  If I had to guess I would have to say somewhere around 1981.  I grew up in an Air Force family, and air shows were a part of that life that I pretty much took for granted.  Once I left the Air Force fold, I’m not sure I ever made it to another air show, until this trip.

On the way to the air show we passed through Sturgis, South Dakota.  The rally had ended the week before, so while we had the chance to easily and quietly ride through (the now quite ordinary) town, we did.  The town looked almost deserted compared to some of the pictures that had come out of the rally this year.  No matter where we stopped, there were no lines to wait in.  I realize that we didn’t get full experience, but I’m OK with that.

Thunderbirds-Dakota-Thunder-2015The Thunderbirds put on a great show.  The sky was filled with smoke from fires in pretty much all of the northwestern states, as well as Canada.  The smoke didn’t stop the show, but it did keep the Thunderbirds from performing some of the vertically based maneuvers that I really enjoyed watching as a kid.  Still, I got to see the Thunderbirds and I was happy.  Due to the hour and a half that we spent waiting for the parking lot to clear after the show we had to postpone our side trip to Devil’s Tower until another trip.  I know my wife wanted to see Devil’s Tower, so thank you, Sweetie, for letting me see the Thunderbirds.  I owe you one.

We worked our way back to Gillette, and then back home the next day.  As I said, this is a boring stretch of road, so this is all you are going to get about it.  All told the ride covered just under 1,200 miles, a new record for my wife.  For the most part the weather was good.  Hot for the first three days, and cold and windy (at least in the morning) on the last day.  We hit a couple of quick rain storms on the second day, but it was so hot that the rain felt quite refreshing, so we didn’t bother to stop to put our rain gear on.

As much as I like to go on my ride-all-day-and-night rides, I actually enjoy riding with my wife more.  The rides are more interesting when I can share the whole experience with her.  Again, thanks, Sweetie!

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Procrastination Works…

It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last “Look at the cool thing I did/bought/thought post”.  As the title of this post says, procrastination works.  If you remember that I just bought what amounts to the bike of my dreams, you (by you I mean the now four people who will admit to reading this blog) may be surprised that I waited this long to brag about it some more.  Fear not, here it is…

My last post pretty much focused on the fact that I rode out to California and traded in one of my bikes for a 2014 Yamaha FJR1300 and glossed over the actual trip.   To be fair, the first half of the trip took the same route as the first half of the trip I wrote about in my post Go West, (not so) Young Man…  so I won’t bore you with those details.  I have a whole new set of details to bore you with, instead!

A quick recap.  I wrote about the differences between the bike I really wanted and the bike my brother wanted.  That got me looking for good deals on the bike I wanted.  I found a good deal in California and my wife didn’t blink an eye when I said I wanted to go get it.

Now that you are up to speed…  I packed my V-Strom 1000 for the trip and headed west.  The weather was great, especially when you consider that it was the middle of March.  The trip was uneventful for 850 miles.  The problem is that my sister lives 875 miles away from me.  I stopped in Davis, California to get some gas and, with any luck, find a Wal-Mart or Target store that was still open after 11:00 pm so I could get some shorts – I forgot to pack a pair and didn’t think anybody wanted to see me in anything less.  I filled up without any problem and went in search of some shorts.  I found a Target, pulled into the parking lot and parked the V-Strom.  As I was pulling into the space I though I heard a strange sound coming from the bike.  I didn’t see any obvious problems as I got off the bike so I walked to the store and promptly forgot about the noise.  After buying a pair of shorts I got back to the bike, started it up, and backed out of the parking space.  As I backed out I hear an awful squealing noise coming from the bike.  It sounded like rubber squeaking under pressure.  Another quick check didn’t come up with anything.  I got back on the bike and started to ride out of the parking lot.  After 20 feet the noise started again.  It sounded like a real problem.  As I looked for a place under a light where I could take a better look, there were two thoughts going through my head:  “I am so close, don’t break now,” and “I’m glad I’m getting rid of this bike now.”  After dinking around with the bike for about half an hour I decided that the bike would probably make it the last 25 miles – that could have been my considerable (yeah, sure) motorcycle mechanic skills, or just wishful thinking – so I put the bike back together and finished the trip.  I made it to my sister’s house after about 14 miles on the road.

The next morning I woke up ready to go buy a motorcycle.  OK, you got me, I wake up every morning ready to bike a motorcycle.  That said, I was REALLY ready to buy a motorcycle.  Before I left my sister picked some oranges from the trees growing in her back yard and made some fresh squeezed orange juice.  There aren’t many ways to start a morning that are better than fresh squeezed orange juice.  Folgers has nothing on that liquid sunshine…

I have to admit, for a little while I felt kind of bad for my friends in Wyoming that were still waiting for what they consider “riding weather” while I was passing palm trees on a sunny, 70° day.  Only for a little while – I did have to ride almost 900 miles to get here.  At any rate, the ride up to Santa Rosa, California to buy the FJR was amazing.  I passed San Pablo Bay (the northern part of San Francisco Bay), through Napa Valley, and also through a town that never realized that the hippie movement ended about 40 years ago.

I made it to the dealer, Santa Rosa Powersports and introduced myself.  I was amazed at how friendly the staff was.  The sales man I was working with made a point to introduce me to just about the entire staff.  Maybe that is just a friendly store, maybe they don’t get very many boneheads that ride almost 1000 miles to buy a bike from them.  Either way I definitely felt like they appreciated my business.

At this point I feel that I need to mention that for all of the time I have spent pining for the FJR, I have never actually taken a test ride on one.  Somewhere between “Yep, I’m serious, let’s get started with this deal.” and “Sign here, please,” I took my first ride on an FJR.  I was not disappointed.  In fact, I was just a bit intimidated.  The FJR is a hell of a bike with much more power than any of my other motorcycles have had.

The bike passed the test ride so I signed on the dotted line.  The bike was mine…

A little side note.  When I sold my Honda VTX and bought the V-Strom I almost felt bad for getting rid of the VTX.  I purchased the VTX as what amounts to a new blank slate and over the course of several years turned it into my bike.  As I handed over the keys to the V-Strom I didn’t have any of those feelings.  I don’t know if it was because I never really modified the bike to make it mine, or because the night before I was lying in a Target parking lot with tools all around me, wondering what that damn noise was…

Being the picture-taking guy that I am, I had ideas for two pictures running through my head almost from the time I knew that I was going to California to get the bike.  The first picture would be taken in one of the Redwood tree preserves, Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

2014 FJR1300 in Armstrong Redwoods Natrual Reserve

2014 FJR1300 in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

The second picture would be taken along the coast, not at a beach (though I did get a couple of beach pictures, too) but along a rocky portion of the coast.  In the end picture was taken at Schoolhouse Beach, just north of Bodega Bay, California.  I suppose there was a beach somewhere down there, but this was still a rocky part of the coast.

FJR-PCH-Rocks-Waves-Web

2014 FJR1300 at Schoolhouse Beach, California

Avid readers of this blog may recognize this last picture as the featured image from the last post.  Good eye…  Actually, these two pictures were taken on two different days.  I didn’t have enough time to get to these two areas all in one day and still have time to spend time with my sister’s family.

While I was riding along the coast I had a hankerin’ (yep, I said hankerin’) for a bacon cheeseburger and some fries.  I had passed several places where it was likely I could get a burger, but they were about 10 miles behind me, and when I get a hankerin’…  Anyway, as I crossed the Russian River I noticed a small restaurant and decided that would be the place to get my burger.  Yeah…  Not so much.  The place served Indian (from India) food, and in hind sight, an Indian restaurant is not necessarily the best place to get a good cow burger.  Lesson learned.

On both of the trips back to my sister’s house I was reminded that it is pretty much impossible to get anywhere in a metro area of California after 2:30 in the afternoon.  Every road I had the “pleasure” of riding on when I was heading back for the night turned into a parking lot.  I don’t know how Californian’s do it, though I am starting to understand the need for mind-altering drugs…

That reminder led me to try something I have heard much about but never tried – lane splitting.  Lane splitting is a somewhat polarizing topic among those that know (or pretend to know).  My only knowledge, prior to this trip, was that it was legal in California and that, by many accounts, car drivers will do anything they can to prevent this legal activity from happening.  On my several trips to California I have seen both well-behaved lane splitters and idiot lane splitters.  On this trip I was actually getting quite warm while sitting in stopped traffic, so after the third or fourth motorcycle passed me I decided to give it a try.  I was not comfortable with the whole process at first, but as I realized that by moving at a reasonable speed (not fast by any means) and putting on my flashers I wasn’t bugging anybody – in fact, I was probably driving like an old man.  I was surprised to see that much of the traffic actually made room for me once they saw me coming up between the columns of cars.  Nobody tried to cut me off, nobody opened a door in my way.  I don’t think the killer car stories are all wrong, but I think they may have been a bit exaggerated.

The night before I left California I gave my niece and nephew each a ride on the bike.  They both seemed to enjoy their rides, and I was glad to have the chance to increase my stock as the “cool uncle.”  Top that, little bro…

I was able to redeem myself after my Indian bacon cheeseburger debacle of the day before when I stopped for fuel and an early lunch in Donner’s Pass.  I found Smokey’s Kitchen, went inside, and immediately loved the place.  The atmosphere was awesome and the food was better.  I you are passing through the area, I highly recommend it.

The day I returned to Wyoming was another great weather day, and looked like it would be all day, though it was going to be a bit chilly once the sun went down, when I would be in Utah and Wyoming.  As always, the Interstate between Reno, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah is pretty much the driving equivalent of going comatose, though with a faster bike it was a shorter coma.  The bike was fairly comfortable and had enough new gadgets to keep my mind from drifting off too far from the road.

In case anybody is wondering, the stretch of I-80 that crossed the Bonneville Salt Flats is still 40 miles of absolutely mind numbing straight.  You could use this stretch of road as a long ruler…

By the time I reached Salt Lake City, Utah it was dark out.  By the time I reached Park City, Utah it was dark and cold out, with temperatures hovering in the low to mid 30’s F.  Yep, I was glad to still have heated hand grips.  I made it to my house, parked the bike, shook off the cold, and started to bore my family with the story of the FJR.  Gather around, my family, for I have to tale to tell…

As always, here are some pretty pictures:

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I don’t care what I just said…

In my last post the last paragraph started with the sentence “In all honesty it will be some time before I even start to seriously think about replacing the V-Strom.”  That was on March 11th.  Six days later, not even full week after I sent that thought across the internet as it if was carved in stone, the V-Strom has been replaced by a new motorcycle.  Was it a BMW R1200RT, you know, the one I was most recently pining for?  No, it was a 2014 Yamaha FJR1300 – my long time fantasy bike.

Yeah, I know that I said that it would be a while.  I know I said that the BMW would probably be more comfortable.  I know…  I KNOW!!

To make a long story short (I’ll do my best), after I wrote that post I innocently started looking at nearby bikes for sale at a reasonable price.  There were none, I was safe.  Soon I was looking farther away, still safe.  It turns out, however, that Chicago had a new 2014 FJR at a great price.  Damn…

I called the shop and talked to a salesman.  The bike had been sold.  Sweet…  I was safe again.  So why was I looking again?  Uh ohhh, there was another bike for the same price in Santa Rosa, CA – a little more than an hour away from where my sister lives.  Now I was in trouble.  Wait!  There is no way my wife will let me take four days out of my already limited days at home to ride to California to go by a new motorcycle.  I might as well have been asking if I could get drunk and go oil wrestling with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.  It just wasn’t going to happen.

“Sweetie, can I…”

“Blah, blah, blah, I’m going to be busy then and you won’t shut up about getting a new bike.  You can visit your sister while you are out there.  Have fun…”

Wait.  What just happened?

Next thing I knew I was setting off from Wyoming, on a motorcycle, in WINTER TIME, to buy a motorcycle, and as far as I knew there wasn’t going to be a divorce waiting for me when I got back.

What?  Short?  Right, I remember now.  I will write about that trip in another post.  For now, here is what I bought:

FJR-PCH-Rocks-Waves-Web

Thanks, Sweetie!

Lustful Fantasies (motorcycles, not women…)

Usually I write about bikes I currently own, or at least used to own. Today that changes a bit. As the title of this post implies, this is about a bike that I may, someday, God, if you are listening, please let one of these bike just come over and talk to me, own (Yeah, I still remember those feelings from junior high school, or high school.  OK, I don’t remember those feelings so much as remember the fact that I used to have feelings that seem like they should have felt that way).

2015 Yamaha FJR1300ES

Anywho, the point is that for a long time now I have pretty much lusted over a bike.  Not just any motorcycle.  Either of the two of you that say you read this blog somewhat regularly already know that I already have a harem, of sorts…  No, this bike, the bike of my dreams since about 2007 or so, is a Yamaha FJR 1300.

The FJR isn’t a chrome covered noise maker, nor is it the fastest, or lightest, or most powerful bike out there.  As far as the general riding population goes, it’s not even close to the most popular bike on the road.  For many years, though, it has been the benchmark motorcycle for one niche of riders – middle-aged guys with more money than sense that live at my house.  OK, another niche is the community of long distance, or endurance, motorcycle riders.  Among that group the FJR ranks very highly.

Now, to be fair, I wanted an FJR before I got into my current long distance riding phase, so this isn’t just trying to keep up with the Jonses.  Besides, I never really tried to keep up with them; I find that just hanging with them works just as well in most cases.

Shortly after I bought my 2006 Honda VTX1800S I took one of those highly scientific and well thought out (and proofread) quizzes on Facebook that was supposed to tell me what kind of motorcycle I should ride.  I knew that my VTX was the right bike for me, but I took the quiz anyway.  The result of the quiz?  Yamaha FJR1300.  “What the hell is that?” I asked to myself.  A little research told me, in effect, that I would need another, if not a replacement, motorcycle.

Since then I have started to get (peripherally) involved in long distance riding, and have purchased eight more motorcycles, though I have sold a few of them.  During that time I traded off the VTX for my current V-Strom 1000.  In summary, it has been about nine years, with eight new (to me for a few of them) motorcycles, and still no new FJR 1300.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always wanted a new FJR since they first came onto my radar, but I never had a good reason to get one.  When I replaced my VTX with a Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom I was even more comfortable on long trips.  I have since taken the V-Strom to San Francisco, California and Tucson, Arizona, among other smaller trips.  It is easily capable of taking me where I want to go in most of the comfort I want.  From a logical point of view I don’t need a new FJR 1300.

That said, I want one.  If I am going to try to spend way too much time riding way to far in a finite amount of time, I might as well spend too much money to buy a bike that has a large percentage of the bells and whistles that I think all motorcycles should have.  Yep, I want it all…  In reality, I want a bike that has Anti-lock Brakes, and heated hand grips, and an electronically adjustable windshield, and a thermometer built into the dash display, and…

BMW_R1200RT_in-the-wild

2015 BMW R 1200 RT

Fast forward to the last six months or so.  My brother has a bike that he wants to replace.  While I was helping him do some research he kind of fell for a BMW R 1200 RT.  At first I thought it was a nice looking bike and that it would probably do all of the stuff that the FJR of my dreams would do, but at a higher price.

This would probably be a good place to say that while I personally rank BMW touring bikes well above any Harley-Davidson product (including H-D dog T-shirts that are sized to fit a chihuahua) in usefulness and value, I feel that the two companies are just different sides of the same coin when it comes to marketing and general customer brainwashing.  Again, nothing against their products, I just think brand loyalty can only go so far before it gets annoying…

As I said, I thought the BMW was a nice bike, just not my cup of tea.  One day I was goofing around online and started to put various motorcycles into the Motorcycle Ergonomics Simulator and found that it was the BMW that most closely matched the riding position of my V-Strom – you know, the bike I don’t really need to replace…

RT1200RS-vs-FJR-1300-head2headweb

As you can see, the two motorcycle look very similar.  I actually like the looks of the FJR 1300 more, but I have generally been a function over form kind of guy, so I will pass up a better looking bike in order to have a more comfortable bike.  Beyond the appearance (and cult-like following behind the BMW) both bikes have roughly the same capabilities.  I haven’t looked to see which bike has the higher top speed, horsepower, or torque.  I rarely push my bikes to their limits, and because both of these bikes are built for occasional two-up (having a passenger) riding, they should both be more than capable of giving me the performance I want.

In all honesty it will be some time before I even start to seriously think about replacing the V-Strom.  It still runs great and it is still comfortable.  I like having the the thought of getting a new bike, and like the thought of having to choose between two of them even better.  Somewhere in this post is some sort of metaphor for a middle aged married guy looking for change, but I’m not touching it – my wife may actually read this some day.

G26

2015 Ménage-a-Trois’ Rally Information

In my last post I mentioned a rally that I have entered called the Ménage-a-Trois’ Rally.  I might as well tell you right now to get used to reading about the rally here.  It will take up a bunch of my motorcycle-based brain time and will also be my main excuse for going on longer rides and buying what would look, to the disinterested observer (my wife…), like useless toys and crap.

Anyway…  In an effort to obtain any slight advantage, I have been doing some deep research into possible routes, bonus locations, riding techniques, equipment reviews, and anything else I can claim as productive work instead of wasting time on the internet, but have come up with almost nothing directly related to this rally.  The following memo-type thing was sent out by the Rally Master (I’m guessing he’s kind of like a D&D Dungeon Master, but with a motorcycle instead of a dragon) as information to a prospective participant.  In an effort to make this information more widely available, here is the memo.

OVERVIEW OF THE RALLY:

The 2015 Ménage-a-Trois’ will have three separate rallies. The 12 hour rally will cover a minimum of 544 miles. The 24-hour rally will cover a minimum of 1,088 miles. And to be a finisher in the 36-hour event, you will need to cover a minimum of 1,632 miles.

There will be no main or suggested route for any of the three events. Riders will be handed list of possible bonus locations prior to the start of their respective event. It is up to the rider to decide which locations they are going to visit. There will be a non mandatory checkpoint in each event. When we say non mandatory we mean riders are not required to make the checkpoint within a specified time window. If however they do visit the checkpoint within that specified time window they will earn substantial bonus points.

Bonus destinations may leave paved highways, and may require the use of a Polaroid/Digital camera and/or a GPS. It may also require tracking, trapping, and survival skills in order to earn the points. If you’re still using a Polaroid camera, approximate film use should be no more than one package of Polaroid film for each 12 hours of your event. If you’re using a digital camera, you’ll need only one memory card. Now, if your photographic skills leave a lot to be desired, then you should plan to bring substantially more memory cards or Polaroid film.

Because there is no main or suggested route on this event, there will not be any alternative routes for you to choose from. Your bonus listing will offer you far more choices than you will ever be able to complete within the specified time of your event.

The bonus listing for the 36-hour event will be handed out Friday evening 30 minutes prior to the start of the rally. You may take as much time as you like to develop you winning route, but please remember after 30 minutes you will be on the rally clock. The longer you stay at the hotel, the less time you will have to ride and earn points. For the 12-hour and 24-hour riders, you will receive your bonus listing on Saturday morning 30 minutes prior to the start of the rally. Like the 36-hour riders, you may take as much time as you like to develop your winning route. For those of you that will require divine guidance to come up with your winning route, we will have our Shaman, our resident psychiatrist, a rabbi, and a priest available for general counseling and guidance.

To be eligible for a finisher’s award, the participants must travel at least the minimum mileage of the main route of their respective rally, and arrive back at the finish line within the allotted time of their event.

You must finish the rally on the same motorcycle that you started on, and all motorcycles will have only ONE operator during the rally.

An odometer check is required prior to the start of the rally so that we can calculate the actual mileage the rider travels during the event. That mileage figure is then certified and forwarded on to MERA so that any of you that are looking to get your rides certified, well all you’ll have to do is apply. The mileage figures are also available to other organizations that may require them.

The Ménage-a-Trois’ will continue the MERA tradition of being a competitively scored rally. The top three (3) positions in each event in the single rider category, AND the top three (3) finishing positions in each event in the couple’s category will receive position plaques. All other finishers will receive a finisher’s award.

That’s all I have for now.  Any new information I get I will try to post here, unless I decide it is proprietary information, then you all can wait until after the rally…

If this has piqued your interest in the rally you can find the application here:  Ménage-a-Trois’ Rally Registration Form

2014 In Review

Another year gone.  For G26 MotoBlog, this is the end of the second year of publication.  For me, this was not a big riding year. It was a great year as far as getting new toys goes, though, unless you take my wallet’s point of view…

Back in January I wrote my first year-in-review post.  In that post I stated that after a year of writing this blog I had not been told that I was wasting my time.  That still holds, though I have seen a few people roll their eyes at me when this blog manages to come up in conversation.  Their loss.  As I write this sentence, this blog has had 1,968 views from 70 countries.  Roughly 1400 of those views were in 2014.  There are even a few people that ask when new posts are going to be published.  By a few, I mean my father.  Thanks, Dad!

The biggest news of the year would have to be the swapping out of two of my bikes.  First, my 2007 Honda Gold Wing was traded in for a brand new 2013 Honda Gold Wing.  If you have read this blog before you couldn’t miss seeing a picture of this bike; I have plastered it all over the last several posts.  The other bike change was trading in my 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 250 for a brand newer (than the Gold Wing) 2014 Honda CBR 500R.  This change was not widely, or even narrowly, announced.  Here is a picture of both bikes in Grand Teton National Park:

Gold Wing and CBR Tetons

As fun as the CBR looks (It’s the white one), it is not my favorite bike.  In fact, though at the start of this blog I wrote that my 2004 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 was my favorite bike, my tastes are starting to change and now I find that I like riding the new Gold Wing more than the V-Strom.  This could be from my brain trying to justify the fact that I bought a bike that cost more than my first four cars together.  On the other hand, as I mentioned in my last post, Let there be lights, the fact that I am able to build this into MY bike is actually making me enjoy riding it more.  Either way, this Gold Wing just seems to feel better than both the V-Strom and the old Gold Wing.  Around town, the CBR is quite fun, but on the open road, up around highway speed, I get too much wind on my body.  You wouldn’t think that would be a problem for a guy that is somewhat addicted to motorcycling, but it is.  I have spoiled myself way too much with bikes that have large, barn-door style windshields.

The other bikes did manage to get some time out of the garage, too.  The V-Strom didn’t get many miles this year.  I’m not sure what the future holds for that bike.  It is still in great shape and is still my primary local-ride (pronounced grocery getter), but I find myself riding the Gold Wing solo more and more.  I put many more miles on the 2009 KLR650 this year than I did last year.  The longest ride for that bike was around Flaming Gorge Reservoir, though I wasn’t the one riding it; one of the kids was piloting it for that trip.

That thought brings up something else that I find cool.  This year, two of my kids took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse™.  I took the course with them, though I doubt that I will be invited back – something about too many high-speed passes through the orange cone slalom (“Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full”).  After taking the courses, both of the kids were qualified to ride on the streets with me, though only one of the two has gone on to get a motorcycle license.  That should change in 2015.  I really enjoy riding with the kid that does have his license.  I’m not sure if it’s the fatherly instinct of passing on the things I enjoy, or just the fact that now I have a captive, on-call riding buddy.  Either way, it’s way cool!

Shortly after getting the CBR, my wife and I took the Gold Wing while the kid took the CBR up to Grand Teton National Park.  That is when I took the picture of the two bikes shown above.  For a new rider he did quite well as we dealt with wind, rain, traffic, and Jackson, Wyoming.  Nothing like a trial by fire!

At the start of 2014 I posted the mileage for the bikes I had in my garage at the time.  I will the same thing again this year, but just with the bikes in the garage.  I am out of town right now so I don’t have the ending mileages for the bikes I traded away.  When I get that information I will update the total yearly mileage.

The grand totals for 2014:

  • 2014 CBR500R:
    Starting Mileage – 0 miles
    Ending Mileage – 993 miles
    Total Mileage – 933 miles
  • 2013 Goldwing:
    Starting Mileage – 2 miles
    Ending Mileage – 3,266 miles
    Total Mileage – 3,264 miles
  • 2004 V-Strom 1000:
    Starting Mileage – 43,231 miles
    Ending Mileage – 44,515 miles
    Total Mileage – 1,284 miles
  • 2009 KLR 650:
    Starting Mileage – 1,048 miles
    Ending Mileage – 1,733 miles
    Total Mileage –   685 miles

The total mileage for these four bike was 6,226 miles, though for the first time I can’t claim all of the miles for myself.  The kid put miles on both the CRB and the KLR.  Sharing a house?  Fine.  Sharing motorcycles?  That’s gonna take some getting used to…

In 2013 I rode 8,907 miles, including the miles my wife and I put on a rented Gold Wing.  I am going to guess that I will have about 7,000 total miles for 2014, about 6,250 of which I put on the bikes.  Not quite as much as in 2013, but still not a bad year.

One of the joys I have on motorcycle trips, aside from the riding, is taking pictures.  On any random trip out of my home area (and some in the area) I may take upwards of 500 pictures.  Of those, I may actually like about 10.  That said, I will now shamelessly show my favorite pictures from 2014 – in many cases, again…

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All and all, 2014 was a good year.  2015 should be interesting, as well.  I have already registered for the Menage-a-Trois rally, basically a 36 hour/1500 mile photo scavenger hunt that will take place in late August, in and around Utah.  I also registered for the 2015 edition of the Big Money Rally.  This rally is also a photo scavenger hunt, though it takes place from 1 Jan through 23 May, and is pretty much area independent.  One final note, there is no Big Money involved in this rally.  Yeah, I knew that before I started…

One more way that 2015 should be interesting is that another one of the kids may start riding.  This one is fairly adventurous, so the riding opportunities may be photo worthy.   Whatever happens, it should eventually show up here.  Until then, thanks for reading and please check back every once in a while.

G26

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