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Topics - Bajakirch

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General Motorcycle Discussion / Music video uses some cool retro bikes
« on: January 30, 2018, 07:42:48 AM »
I just stumbled across this video for Castro's 'Automatic', which features some cool vintage bikes:

And the song's not too bad, either.

General Motorcycle Discussion / 'The Pace' to return in 2018...supposedly
« on: December 30, 2017, 05:37:01 AM »
I'm an avid podcast listener, and subscribe to several motorcycle-themed 'casts. I was disappointed when one of my favorites, The Pace, essentially went dark without much explanation over a year ago.

I liked The Pace because of it's relatively no-nonsense approach to the format; I've heard it referred to as "the NPR of motorcycle podcasts". The general tomfoolery of WheelNerds or Cleveland Moto can be fun, but sometimes you just want to hear stuff straight-up.

On the last episode of WheelNerds, they had James from The Pace on as a guest and he stated that the show went into hiatus primarily because his co-host, Chris, took a new job that was causing him to work crazy hours, leaving no time to record -- much less edit -- a regular show. According to James, they have a plan to bring it back in 2018, using a slightly modified format that will fit better into his co-host's busy schedule.

I have my fingers crossed...

General Motorcycle Discussion / You'e got $5k...what do you buy?
« on: December 01, 2017, 02:23:10 PM »
I heard this topic on an old episode of a MC podcast, and thought it could be a fun forum topic.

If you were gifted $5,000 and had it spend it something motorcycle-related, what would it be?

The rule is that you don't magically get anything else -- no more space in your garage, no more time to ride, etc.

For me, I think I'd actually put the money into building a heated shop in my garage so that I could more comfortable work on my bike during our mandatory maintenance season.

I don't necessarily think I'd put the money into another bike because A) the V-Strom does pretty much everything I want a bike for (distance touring, mild off-road, commuting), and B) I don't use (nor, honestly, maintain) my current bike as much as I want to, so having another bike in the garage isn't necessarily an advantage.

Your Ride Reports / Sliimey Crud Run - Fall 2017
« on: October 03, 2017, 06:00:52 PM »
It was a beautiful day for the fall rendition of the twice-a-year Slimey Crud Run, and aycaramba and Poligrafovich joined me for the day.

Here are a few shots from our outing.

aycaramba came in the day before and stowed the NH before the beers started flowing.

Poligrafovich (left) and aycaramba (right).

The crowd at the start of things in Pine Bluff.

Poligrafovich gassing up the VFR.

Taking a break and a stroll in Leland.

The Wee chillin' for a bit.

A final shot before we all went our separate ways.

General Motorcycle Discussion / Tryin' to help a bruthuh out
« on: September 17, 2017, 09:59:29 AM »
Driving into work today, I came across a motorcyclist stranded on the roadside. I've had people help me when I've been the stranded one so, with some available time before I had to be at work, I decided to pay it forward and extend a helping hand.

The rider explained his front tire went flat and he was looking for a ride to a nearby gas station, where he'd already confirmed they had some Fix-A-Flat in stock.

I gave him a lift, waited for him to buy the FAF, and then drove him back to the bike. Unfortunately, after emptying the contents of the can into the tire, it was still quite flat.

I offered to give him a lift somewhere else so he could arrange to get the bike picked up, or help him move it to a nearby parking lot if he wanted to stay with it (though I didn't think he had to be too worried about someone stealing his '83 Yamaha LTD).

But he told me he decided that he could "baby it" and ride it back to the gas station, where he would try airing it up enough to get home.

Ummm...okaaaay...  whaaaat3

I advised him that I wouldn't recommend trying to ride the bike with a flat front tire, even on the shoulder at slow speed. At best, he was likely to destroy the tire. But he was resolute and, with a shrug of my shoulders, I left him to fend for himself.

Some people I just don't get.

General Motorcycle Discussion / New Bike Hauler
« on: September 04, 2017, 08:48:45 PM »
My cage for the last 4 years has been a 2007 Nissan Xterra, an SUV I chose because it had enough towing capacity (5000 lbs) for our boat.

I bought the Nissan used and, right from the get-go, it started to have fairly significant mechanical issues. After replacing the clutch twice, brake issues, valve issues and more, I was about done with it. Then the 'Service Engine Soon' light came on and my mechanic advised that it needed a new catalytic converter. At about $1000, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I started looking for a replacement for the Xterrible.

Long story short, my wife found a sweet deal on a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado LT at the dealer where we bought her Buick. I reached out and, within a few days, we came to a deal:

I've talked for years about getting a truck, but the practical side of my brain always took over and I ended up with SUVs. But now I'm officially a truck-boy, so we'll see how it goes. I'm digging it so far.

Your Ride Reports / Mississippi River Run
« on: August 13, 2017, 10:55:16 PM »
A friend and I planned to take a weekend trip over to the Mississippi River and ride the Great River Road as far north as we could get in a day, then come back down the other side on Day 2.

The best laid plans of mice and men...

The day before departure, my friend let me know that he wasn't going to be able to do the overnighter and had to stay within about an hour of home (he just listed his house on the market and had to be able to head home if an offer came in). So we modified our plan:  We met for breakfast, road a bunch of the Alphabet Roads in southwest WI for the rest of the morning, then had some lunch before he split for home and I headed over to the River.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to write up a full ride report. So here are a few photos I took on my outing.

Lunch stop at the Red Rooster Cafe in Mineral Point, WI

Lunch was a 'pasty' - basically a Cornish pot pie.

One of numerous river towns.

Shoreline, scenery, curvy road, blue skies -- not much more to ask for on a ride.

Lots landslide evidence from recent heavy rains.

About the last hotel in La Crosse, WI, with an available room.

La Crosse's Oktoberfest grounds taken over for the weekend by Irishfest.

When in Rome...

Enjoying a great performance by Skerryvore; I guess I'd call them Celtic country-rock.

Finished up Saturday in a classic Wisconsin tavern watching the Brewers win a good one.

A foggy, misty start on Sunday.

The road to and from the Cut is the closest we have to switchbacks in these parts.

Used the 'curvy' route option on my Scenic nav app for the way home and came across this ski jump in the middle of nowhere.

I made it back home by 12:00; enough time to get some projects done around the house.

One thing of note about this ride -- the incredible number of bikes out on the roads. I don't know if it was the weather, the area, or what, but I literally got tired of doing 'the wave'. I don't think I'd be exaggerating to say I probably came across around 500 other riders.

One of the motorcycle-themed podcasts I listen to is the Cafe Racer Podcast. The latest episode features an interview with a custom builder that used a '91 NH as the base. Beware, purists, as not much of the original bike remains. But it's not a bad looking result, in my opinion.

For reasons I can't fully explain, Copper Harbor, MI, has been my own personal El Dorado.

Ever since hearing about the great roads and scenery in and around this Lake Superior town, I've had a strong desire to make my own discovery of the area. After two previous attempts failed, I finally succeeded this summer.

First, the geography. The Keweenaw Peninsula juts northward into Lake Superior. On the northernmost tip sits the small community of Copper Harbor. It's probably best known as the jumping-off point for ferries out to Isle Royale, Lake Superior's largest island and a big tourism destination. It consists of maybe a dozen resorts, a few shops, and a state-run harbor. Population is just over 100 people.

My first attempt at a visit was during my Lake Superior Circle Tour three years ago. My riding buddy and I included Copper Harbor as part of our route and actually started making our way up the Keweenaw, but ended up waiving off about 90 miles shy of it because we were behind schedule for the day.

The next time I tired was last year, when I planned a quick up-and-back over the Labor Day Weekend. Sadly, a death in the family caused me to turn around only a few hours into that trip.

So this year, I blocked out 4 days to finally make it to Copper Harbor, as well as visit a few other spots in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin.

DAY 1 | 7/20/17 | 382 Miles

The start of my trip, on a Thursday, was my big-mile day. I packed the bike the night before and hit the road around 7:00 a.m. Given that my new bike, a 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650, has side bags that are almost half the size of my Kawasaki Concours, packing efficiency was important. The smaller Givi bags quickly filled up with rain gear, tool roll, power cords, etc. Clothes and toiletries were in a backpack that fit nicely into my top box. All my camping gear fit (just) into a single dry bag I strapped to the pillion seat.

Orange is the new black.

Not long after crossing the border into Michigan, I ran into my first significant bit of road construction.

Forced break time.

After waiting about 15 minutes for access to the single-lane through the construction zone, I discovered its purpose:  Seal-coating, bane of motorcyclists everywhere. For those who live in areas where this isn't common, seal-coating (or chip-sealing...I'm sure there are other names) consists of spraying down a solution of sticky oil on the road surface, then covering it with pea gravel. It's a relatively inexpensive way to extend the life of asphalt roadways. They then leave the gravel in place for a few days to let traffic 'seat' the gravel into the oil. Usually, they'll come by later and brush the loose gravel to the shoulder.

The immediate result -- what I was dealing with -- was 8 miles of loose pea gravel. For a 99% pavement rider like me, it was a tense ride. On the up side, I'd just installed a new Shinko 705 dual-sport rear tire, and reviews said it was pretty good in gravel. I'd have to agree, though I don't have a lot to compare it to. At the very least, the bike stayed on its wheels, despite the rider's inexperience.

I rolled into Copper Harbor, after a very pleasant ride through the woods, around dinner-time. I grabbed supper at a resort restaurant and tried to call home. No cell service, but that was OK; I used the resort's wi-fi to access my AllStays Camp & RV app and found some nearby campgrounds. I discovered one less than 2 blocks away from where I was, and they had space available.

Little House in the Big Woods

After setting up camp, I tried to call home. Still no cell service. I walked to the campground office and learned that there was no cell service in the entire town. Yes, such places apparently still exist in this world. They said my only shot was to go to the top of nearby Brockway Mountain, where I may be able to pick up a signal from the other side of the peninsula. Plus, I'd catch a nice sunset.

Off I went for the 5-mile ride up the mountain. The road was actually pretty well-maintained, as I think this is one of the other tourist attractions in the area. I had some fun with the switchbacks and was rewarded not only with a gorgeous view, but a weak cell signal that at least allowed me to call home.

A Hazy Shade of Summer

With my home check-in and sight-seeing boxes ticked, it was time for some end-of-day relaxation. Luckily, there was a bar within 1 block of my campground. I parked the bike at my site, walked down and settled in at the bar. I only planned on a couple of drinks, but people are friendly in the North. After several games of pool (where I was continually schooled by a Floridian) and far-ranging conversation with a Minnesotan mountain biker, I ended up closing the place down. I walked...OK, kind of staggered...back to my tent and settled in for the night.

Up next, Day 2...

General Motorcycle Discussion / Surprising conversation
« on: July 16, 2017, 07:43:32 AM »
This past week I had to do some traveling for work. I was flying home on Friday and started having a conversation with my seatmate on the plane. I found out she and her boyfriend (seated in the row behind us) were traveling to visit her dad in AZ. She mentioned she was picking up a motorcycle from her dad and bringing back home to OH.

I mentioned I was a rider too, and she asked if I wanted to see a picture of the bike. Given her age, demeanor, speech, etc., I prepared to be politely complimentary of a big, shiny cruiser. Instead, she pulled up a photo of a strikingly blue Triumph Daytona 955i. She then said her boyfriend had just purchased a Ducati 1098. Turns out they and her family are all avid sport bike riders.

I of course reciprocated with photos of my new bike, and we spent most of the 50-minute flight swapping bike stories.

It just goes to show you can't always trust those first impressions.

General Motorcycle Discussion / Scariest ride ever
« on: July 14, 2017, 09:24:10 PM »
I'm less than a week out from a multi-day ride up to and along the southern shore of Lake Superior and, earlier in the week, I came to the decision that my rear tire was too far gone to put another 1000+ miles on it.

Normally I'd order a tire online, pull the wheel off myself, and take it to a buddy with a tire changer that will swap out my rubber for $25. The problem was that I had a business trip from Wed-Fri this week, so there was no way I'd have time to do all that. So I called a shop that's done a little work for me before to have them do it.

Well, it turned out that most of their mechanics were going to be gone Fri-Mon for a race. They said if I could get it there Wed, it'd be done when I returned on Friday. Otherwise, they couldn't fit it in.

I got up Wednesday morning to ominous clouds. Walking out to the bike, the rain began. By the time I was 10 miles from home, I was riding through probably the worst downpour I've ever experienced on the bike...and I still had about 15 miles to go.

Not only was the rain bad, but I was also getting blasted with side gusts that had me fighting to stay in my lane.

All of this with a nearly bald rear tire. I arrived with a nearly terminal case of pucker-itis. Oh, and my 'weatherproof' riding gear...yeah, not so much. Pretty heavy leakage on my arms, legs and feet. I didn't feel fully dried out until the afternoon.

I don't need to do that again any time soon.

General Motorcycle Discussion / Anyone else get the Aerostich email?
« on: June 20, 2017, 09:53:20 PM »
I saw an odd email pop up in my inbox today:

Dear Riders, Supporters and Friends,
I’m writing you today about an opportunity to work with us -- but not as a customer.
Over the last two years I've privately contacted a few of our best long-term customers, asking if they’d be interested in working with Aerostich in confidential financial areas. There were several positive responses, and I learned a lot from the experience, including the fact that reaching out randomly to potentially interested individuals is inefficient.
After thinking about the best way to find interested persons I’ve decided to just write everyone in our files and attach a short information-gathering survey.
If you would like to learn more about this opportunity, please click here, to participate in this short survey. You’ll be asked to provide a little information about yourself, and to download and sign a confidential information non-disclosure form. After you return the completed agreement I’ll contact you for a conversation about this opportunity.
Please note that Aerostich is not for sale, I am not looking to retire, and this isn’t an offer to sell equity or securities. Over the past thirty three years Aerostich has been profitable enough to partly self-finance its growth, but we have always also worked with a bank lender.
We continue to hold ideas about rider’s gear, motorcycling’s future, and business practices which are not common. I'd like to now find a few more persons interested in helping us move our objectives ahead a little faster.
This email was sent from an unattended mailbox. Only completed surveys will receive personal replies.
P.S. – If you would like to receive our regular commercial email announcements of new products and sale offers, or review your email preferences, please click here.[size=78%]Dear Riders, Supporters and Friends,[/size][/i]
I’m writing you today about an opportunity to work with us -- but not as a customer.
Over the last two years I've privately contacted a few of our best long-term customers, asking if they’d be interested in working with Aerostich in confidential financial areas. There were several positive responses, and I learned a lot from the experience, including the fact that reaching out randomly to potentially interested individuals is inefficient.
After thinking about the best way to find interested persons I’ve decided to just write everyone in our files and attach a short information-gathering survey.
If you would like to learn more about this opportunity, please click here, to participate in this short survey. You’ll be asked to provide a little information about yourself, and to download and sign a confidential information non-disclosure form. After you return the completed agreement I’ll contact you for a conversation about this opportunity.
Please note that Aerostich is not for sale, I am not looking to retire, and this isn’t an offer to sell equity or securities. Over the past thirty three years Aerostich has been profitable enough to partly self-finance its growth, but we have always also worked with a bank lender.
We continue to hold ideas about rider’s gear, motorcycling’s future, and business practices which are not common. I'd like to now find a few more persons interested in helping us move our objectives ahead a little faster.
This email was sent from an unattended mailbox. Only completed surveys will receive personal replies.
[I removed a P.S. line because it contained a solicitation to sign up for Aerostich's catalog/email list, which I felt may be a violation of forum rules]

Looks like there could be an opportunity for those who know finance and wouldn't mind a job in Duluth, MN.

General Motorcycle Discussion / Father's Day Rides?
« on: June 18, 2017, 10:01:25 PM »
Anyone else turn their free Father's Day pass into a ride?

I chose to do a day ride that allowed me to hit as many of Wisconsin Rustic Roads as I could.

Rustic Roads is a program run by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that promotes use of roads in out-of-the-way spots throughout the state. If I could string together at least 10 of them and get a picture of my bike with each of the signs, I can send in for a patch from the program.

I spent Friday evening stringing together a route that I could do in a day that would connect at least 10 of the roads. Even with a few navigational errors, I was able to hit all 10 and be home in time to go out to dinner with my family.

Good day.

Your Ride Reports / 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« on: June 06, 2017, 09:32:46 PM »
It's been a few years since I moved on from my Nighthawk ('83 550), and a new job about 5 years ago has me working longer hours than I had in the past. So I haven't been visiting the site as much as I used to. Even so, I was still on the call-around list for what's become an annual ride -- the Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally.

I had to miss last year's ride due to a prior commitment, but aycaramba reached out to me with enough forewarning this year and I was able to keep June 4 open for a ride.

This year, we decided to get at least a little taste of southwest Wisconsin's Driftless Zone which, IMO, is some of the best, most overlooked riding in the country.

Our meeting-point was just north of Rockford, IL, relatively equidistant from all of our home bases. I awoke early and had the Strom kickstand-up by 6:00 a.m. for the ride to Rockford

Ready to get my Strom on.

Thanks to a relatively unobstructed interstate highway, I rolled into the 8:00 a.m. meet-up about 30 minutes early.

Another fine dining experience for the NHF crew.

We had 5 riders this year, all returning veterans. The original plan was to be on our way by 8:30 but...well, you know how it is when we motorcycle folk get to gabbin'. Around 9:00 we headed out to the bikes.

Sing with me:  One of these things is not like the others...

Our planned route for the morning took us north across the IL-WI border to Beloit, then a relatively straight shot west to get to the best roads. Along the way we planned a little jog down to one of Wisconsin's Rustic Roads. These are roads throughout the state that are promoted as particularly scenic or interesting. Plus, you can take photos of your bike at the road marker and, once you've collected 10 images, you can send them to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to get a Rustic Roads patch. While we weren't going to have the time to collect 10 of them, I thought we could maybe knock out a couple.

Unfortunately, once we got to 'Rustic Road 90' we found it to be just a little too rustic:  20 feet of asphalt led to gravel, as far as the eye could see. A quick straw poll indicated no one was really up for some light ADV riding, so we turned back and carried on westward.

Continuing west, we made an unplanned stop at Beckman Mill County Park. This provided a nice break, as the day was already starting to heat up. We ambled around the grounds a bit, checking out the restored mill buildings and mill pond.

It ain't no Niagara Falls, but it's picturesque nonetheless.

A rare moment without wedding photos in progress.

Complete with 1870's-era parking lot.

We experienced another route hiccup as we approached Highway 78, which we intended to take north to some well-regarded twisties and another Rustic Road, but was closed for construction. After a quick confab in Gratiot, WI, we decided on an alternative route north. This turned out to be favorable, as we experienced some of the famous 'Alphabet Roads'; Highways M, D, and A, specifically.

This improvised route also provided us with an up close and personal encounter with another common Wisconsin I led the group and rounded a relatively blind left curve, a deer popped out of the left ditch and scrambled across the road directly in front of me. I was really glad I held out for a later-model V-Strom, one with ABS, as I put it to good use that day. The deer, the Strom and I all lived to fight another day. fans1 

We made it to our lunch destination in New Glarus by around 12:30. We chose the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant -- which I just learned hasn't been a hotel for years -- as our grub-hub. New Glarus is a small touristy town that takes its Swiss heritage seriously. The Alpen inspiration is all about, and the NGHR specializes in Swiss cuisine. Some of us opted for the Sunday brunch that was still being served, while a couple of us went for different versions of the rosti -- basically a cheesy hashbrown-like patty with a variety of toppings.

Chowing down, Swiss Family-style.

After lunch, we rolled our full bellies out to the bikes, which we'd wisely parked on a shady side-street.

Candy Bourgogne Red, Tahitian Blue, Gloss Black (x2) and Fox Orange, all in a row.

We rode over to a nearby gas station/convenience store to top off the tanks. Several of our crew also used this as an opportunity to stock up on the product of the nearby New Glarus Brewery, since it's only sold here in America's Dairyland ('Drink Wisconsinbly' is their motto). I originally thought about squeezing in a brewery tour, but learned they weren't available on Sundays. Oh, time.

At this point one of our riders had to peel off. Sonny and his missus had tickets for the U2 concert at Soldier Field that night, so he had to head back a bit early. We bade him farewell as we talked of plans for next year's ride.

Then it was back on the road for the rest of us. We'd planned a C-shaped route that would keep us skirting along the edge of the Driftless Zone's hills and dales.

The day continued to warm up into the 90s, and we found ourselves stopping a bit more frequently for hydration breaks. In a rare moment of foresight for me, I had thought to bring along my Camelback. Wearing it as a backpack and tucking the tube into the front of my jacket, it was really nice to be able to have a drink every 15-20 minutes and stay hydrated.

We reached Warren, IL, and another rider peeled off, heading for home in Iowa (wait...are we going to have to change the name of this thing?!). As we left for the final leg of our journey, our hapless navigator (yours truly) experienced some GPS problems. The upside was that we 3 remaining riders were treated to a fabulous tour of Warren's backstreets. But in the end, I righted the ship and we made our way to a portion of Illinois' scenic Stagecoach Trail. This treated us to several stretches of tree-lined, shady road, a welcome break from the beating sun we'd been experiencing all day.

Our outing ended somewhat ignobly, at a convenience store in Rockton, IL. Our remaining 3 riders parted ways with handshakes and hugs (the macho, one-armed, half-sided man-hug, of course) and rode off into various sunsets.

For me, it was back to the I-system, as I shot north with hopes of being home in time for dinner. I have to admit that, even with the Strom's Russell Day-Long seat, my glutes were screaming for about the last 50 miles of our my 400-mile day. It looks like I'm not quite ready for the Iron Butt...yet.

I rolled the bike into my garage around 6:30 and made semi-serious plans of washing all the dead bugs off of it sometime in the next couple of days.

Another Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally under the belt...sharing space with some fine Swiss-inspired food.


General Motorcycle Discussion / Best/Worst Motorcycle Gifts
« on: November 16, 2014, 05:59:08 AM »
The holiday season is upon us (if the store displays are to be believed), so I got to thinking about motorcycle-related gifts.
What's the best and worst gift you ever received related to your motorcycle habit? And gifts you buy yourself don't count.
For me:
BEST - An LED headlamp someone actually got me because I do a lot of camping. Except I already had one I like for that. I tossed the new one in my motorcycle tool box and, since my garage is not well-lit, I use it all the time.
WORST - A couple of years into my love affair with bikes, a family member gave me a coffee-table-type book full of motorcycle pictures. Only they were all cruisers. This person -- who doesn't ride -- still occasionally asks me "did you get your Harley yet?" and seems convinced that I should someday aspire to that storied brand.

General Motorcycle Discussion / A GoPro with a mind of its own
« on: November 02, 2014, 09:40:07 PM »
I've heard some rumors about something like this -- imagine a GoPro camera that basically flies behind you and records your adventures:
Sounds like a winning product idea, if it works as promised.

General Motorcycle Discussion / Honest answers from a motorcycle thief
« on: October 19, 2014, 10:13:36 PM »
I was trolling around reddit tonight and I came across this AMA (Ask Me Anything) discussion from a former motorcycle thief and chop-shop owner.

It's surprisingly well-written and he comes across as genuinely regretful about his former life...though I didn't see anything about him returning all the bikes he stole.

I didn't have time to read the whole thing, but it contains a lot of good advice for keeping your bike safe.

General Motorcycle Discussion / Nice ride report posted on reddit
« on: October 19, 2014, 08:52:34 PM »
Looks like these guys had a great adventure:

Anybody ever seriously considered or done the Alaska ride?

General Motorcycle Discussion / British Superbike back on Velocity
« on: September 30, 2014, 07:13:27 AM »
For anyone that's a fan of motorcycle road racing, I just saw that the Velocity Channel is once again presenting the British Superbike racing series. The first race will be broadcast on 10/5 at 6:00 a.m. (ET/PT) and, as far as I can tell, they'll be showing the full series.
The actual series is, I believe, over for the season, so these will be delayed broadcasts.
For those that don't know about it, BSB is currently one of the top feeder series to both World Superbike and MotoGP (kind of like AMA Road Racing used to be). The grids are full and the racing is usually pretty good. Plus, you can't beat the entertainment value of a couple of announcers bandying on in Brit-speak.
And, as long as you're tuned in to Velocity, I see by their schedule that the BSB races are followed up by the European Rally Championship coverage at 7:00, World Touring Car at 8:00 and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge at 8:30.

General Motorcycle Discussion / New music source
« on: September 24, 2014, 03:41:22 PM »
For anyone like me, who likes listening to music while riding, I found an interesting new music source.
I have Spotify loaded up on my work computer and sometimes listen to it while I'm doing drudge work. Today I experimented in their 'Genres & Moods' section and found an area for 'Travel'. I opened it up and there was a playlist called Solitary Ride, with a photo of a motorcyclist. That was all the invitation I needed. I clicked and listened for about an hour or so. Not everything was in my style, but I heard some new stuff that I really enjoyed. And the music did seem well-suited for an enjoyable afternoon of riding.

This past week I spent a few days in central CA for work. Driving around the area, I saw several younger guys riding around on customized motorized bicycles. Very similar to this. It's the first I've seen of anything like this.
Is this some sort of up-and-coming trend, something for hipsters to out-hipster their fellow hipsters? Or is it just another one of the many motorcycle/scooter subcultures that's escaped my radar to this point?

Your Ride Reports / Lake Superior...An Epic Motorcycling Journey
« on: August 16, 2014, 10:36:37 AM »

In 2013, I embarked on what I consider to be my first long-distance motorcycle ride, a circle tour of Lake Michigan. Up to that point I’d done plenty of day rides, and even a camping weekend at the AMA races. But I’d never really traveled more than a day from home.

That trip went so well that, almost immediately upon returning home from it, I began planning to circle Lake Michigan’s big brother, Superior. That presented more of a challenge, not only because the trip would be nearly twice as long, but because I’d be spending a good portion of the trip in Canada.

To keep things affordable, I planned to camp as much as possible, moteling it only if weather dictated.

Another difference from the Lake Michigan tour was that this year I had a buddy. Several months back, a riding friend, Tom, expressed interest in accompanying me for his first big motorcycle adventure. I generally like to ride alone on longer trips, so I thought long and hard about it before finally agreeing that it was worth a try. Together we planned our route and schedule.

The night before departure, I laid everything out and wondered how I’d fit it all on the bike – even with the Concours’s big side bags and top box.

All my worldly belongings for 6 days.

Top Row:  Folding camp chair, bag containing tire repair kit and extra tools, tank bag with map pocket and state/provincial maps, first aid kit, bag containing miscellaneous camping supplies (backpacking cot, plastic tarp, rope), cook kit in mesh drying bag (aluminum mess kit, single-burner camp stove, 2 cans of butane fuel, coffee cup, fire starters, coffee, spork, mini-spatula, paper towels, dish detergent, lighter, 2 backpack meals), string bag containing Camelback bladder.
Middle Row:  Ziploc bag with power cords/adaptors and batteries; Ziploc bag containing owner’s manual, insurance card, registration paperwork and photocopy of my driver’s license; stock toolkit; 2 fleece sleeping bags; duffle bag with clothing; tent.
Bottom Row: Fleece jacket, TourMaster rain pants, Frogg Toggs raincoat

That was it. If it wasn’t here, I’d make do without it.
It took about an hour of packing and repacking before I had things where I wanted them for the trip. All I ended up strapping to the pillion was my camp chair and a dry bag containing my tent and camping supplies bag.

Adventure awaits!

Your Ride Reports / A Breakfast Rendevous
« on: July 12, 2014, 10:43:36 PM »
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So traveling more than an hour to get to it is completely reasonable, no?

This weekend, I didn't expect I'd be doing much, if any, riding. The original plan was for SOQS and I to travel to a racetrack in northern IL, where a friend would be racing on 4 wheels. We intended to stick around for a Saturday night party as well as racing on Sunday. Even had a hotel reservation in place.

Sadly, said friend contacted me Friday to say he was having troubles with his race car and would not be making the race.

This left me with an entire weekend with nothing planned. I recalled that the North Central Chapter of the Concours Owners Group had an event going on in my neck of the woods. The Friday-to-Sunday ride, known as the 'Gathering on the Green' was based in tiny Soldiers Grove, WI, a little more than an hour from my doorstep.

I still wanted to devote some time to SOQS over the weekend, so I knew I couldn't join the group for any riding. So instead, I made quick plans to be up and on the road early, to arrive in time for the 7:30 a.m. breakfast.

I was up at 5:00 a.m. and had the Connie on the road by 6:00. My route was pretty straightforward -- hop on US Hwy 14 a few blocks from my house, head west, and turn left a few miles from Soldiers Grove. Hwy 14 cuts right through the heart of the 'Alphabet Roads' of SW WI. So it has some nice elevation change and high-speed sweepers.

I arrived around 7:15 and easily spotted the motorcycles that took up many of the campsites in the Beaufort T. Anderson Park. I parked my bike on the road and made my way over to a promising group of hooligans.

The Soldiers Grove park is unusual in that it is actually the former site of downtown Soldiers Grove. The community is situated on the banks of the Kickapoo River (a popular canoeing destination in these parts) and, after suffering numerous floodings, the town fathers finally convinced Uncle Sam to foot much of the bill to relocate the entire commercial district to higher ground in 1977.

I introduced myself and found I was just in time for breakfast; over waffles, sausage, some locally procured apple cider (the non-alcoholic kind) and copious amounts of coffee, I gabbed with several of the 15-20 riders gathered at the campground.

After breakfast, a familiar face showed up. 'Dave' was the ride-guide for a couple of previous COG events I'd taken part in. But he showed up in a truck. As he walked over to us I noticed a pronounced limp. And that's when I heard that he'd crashed his bike on Friday. The truck belonged to his brother, who lived nearby (and was also in attendance on his Gold Wing trike), and he would be using it to tow the disabled bike home on Sunday.

Dave's Triumph Spring GT had over 70,000 miles on it, so it was sad to see it in this kind of shape. It sounds like Dave's plan is to buy another one and use this one as a donor bike. It turns out the crash happened just a few miles from my house. I'm very familiar with this stretch of twisty, windy county well as the sand and gravel that can accumulate in the corners. That's what took Dave out -- he actually recovered from his rear tire washing out, but couldn't regain control before the next curve came up; he ended up in the ditch with the bike on top of him. Bummer of a way to spend a weekend.

After a bit more jaw-jacking, I noticed someone had brought a Suzuki V-Strom 650 (aka, the 'Wee Strom'). This interested me because I've lately been thinking that, when it comes time to move on from the Connie, the Strom is currently one of the two strong candidates (the other is the Honda NT700V). One of the things I was curious about with the Strom was the seat height -- I'd heard it was a problem for shorter riders. I'd been wanting to throw a leg over one for some time, so I seized the opportunity. I asked the Strom owner's permission and he gladly consented.

I quickly and pleasantly found that I had no problem with the Strom's height. I was able to almost completely flat-foot it on both sides, about the same as with my Concours. Another rider strolled up (he'd brought a Ural to the gathering) and he was a Strom owner too. He stated that he's owned over 60 bikes and the V-Strom 650 was the best of them all. Strong praise, for sure.

I know I see fully kitted-out, later-model, low-mileage Stroms for sale on my local Craigslist all the time in the $5000 range, which is my likely budget for the next bike. I think the Strom just shot to the top of the list.

I sure would miss that shaft drive, though.

I mentioned earlier that Dave was an experienced ride planner. I took this opportunity to consult with him on potential ride routes in SE WI for the upcoming WI/IL Mini-Rally. He was the right person to talk to:  Not only has he planned dozens of rides throughout the area, he happens to live right in the middle of where we'll be riding. He pulled out a spare map he had of SE WI and, within 10 minutes, had sketched out a ride route for me. Then he just gave me the map and told me to have fun.

By around 9:30 rain was beginning to fall and I knew more was on the way. I decided to hit the road to stay ahead of the precipitation so i wouldn't have to throw on my rain gear. I also wanted to be back home early enough to do some things with SOQS. My return ride was pretty similar, though I hopped off of Hwy 14 to ride County E for about 15 miles.

My plan worked, and I stayed dry for the ride home. I rolled back into the garage before 11:00.

The motto of COG is 'Come for the bike, stay for the people.' It's fitting. Every event I've taken part in has been welcoming to me and riders of all abilities. Strangers share food and lodging at the drop of a hat. And everyone loves to ride.

Reminds me of another group I'm part of...

Here's the back-story.
A co-worker recently told me her husband purchased a long-desired motorcycle. Naturally, it was a Harley and he quickly joined up with a local motorcycle club. It's one of those groups that styles themselves on the outlaw clubs, but is really mostly made up of accountants and bankers. Standard gear, as you can imagine, is their 'colors'. Protective gear is pretty much non-existent.
My co-worker started riding pillion with her husband and found that she really enjoys it. To her credit, she did get a helmet. It's a half-shell, and she doesn't wear any other safety gear, but I'm working with her on that.
When she finally gave the OK for her husband to get a bike, she had 1 rule:  Wear a helmet. Well, that hasn't happened. He keeps saying he will, but the MC culture he's part of just is not a helmet crowd. At this point, the likeliehood is slim at best.
She doesn't want to be the nagging wife, and she really enjoys riding with him. She's looking for some way of getting him more gear-focused.
Honestly, I'm a bit stumped, so I thought I'd see what advice the Interwebs had to offer.

Today I received the latest issue of Rider magazine. Flipping through the pages, what did I see but a brilliant red Nighthawk. It was the star of an article titled 'Colorado Roots in the Rockies: Family history and winding roads at high altitude'. Author is Kathleen Kemsley.

After reading the article I was disappointed that the only mention of the bike was in the first paragraph: "Out rolled my motorcycle on a sunny day in August,...". No mention of it being a Nighthawk.  ddg1

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