Monday, July 30, 2012

Arkansas Ozarks

Today was another hot one.  It was 100 by 10:30am, so it was not a comfortable day.  But there were no run-ins with the law, so it was a good day.

I spent a fair amount of the morning riding in Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains.  These mountains are not as high or distinct as our Appalachian mountains, but more like our Uharrie mountains near Asheboro.  Long sweepers dominate, with only an occasional tight turn.  No hairpin turns in the areas I rode.  I had a good time riding in this area, and hope to come back again.

Needing to move on homeward, about half the day was spent just making miles towards home.  Nothing to really report, except that much of the ride was in the 105-112 degree heat.  As I got nearer to the Mississippi River, the temperature decreased, but humidity increased, making it just as uncomfortable as the more extreme heat. 

Crossed the mighty Mississippi, and noted that the water level was much lower than last year when Barbara and I went out west.  We need lots of rain to halt this severe drought.

Stopped at an auto parts store along the way to pick up a relay for my Motolights.  Installed it in the parking lot at the motel, but it did not help.  Will do some troubleshooting when I get home.

Stopped for the night at Dyersville, TN.  Today's ride was about 425 miles or so.

Tomorrow--ride across Tennessee to my buddy's home in Asheville.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Wow, what a day!  It's not one that I ever want to repeat, but all turned out okay.  I'm writing this, aren't I?

The day started very early.  I woke up at 4:30 to use the toilet, got back in bed and fell back to sleep pretty easily.  At 5:00am, the alarm clock from the room went off!  Damn whomever did that!!  I hope someone does it to them sometime.  I tried to cut it off, pushing every button I could feel on the clock, but it kept ringing.  So, I grabbed the cord and yanked as hard as I could.  It came unplugged and shut up.

By that time, however, I was awake and would not be able to go back to sleep, so I gout up and started getting ready to go.  I had planned to leave early to beat the heat, but not that early.  It was still black outside.

About 5:45 I started the bike and pulled out of the motel.  There was no traffic, so going through town was a piece of cake.  I got on to the highway and noticed that I couldn't see the road very well.  At first, I thought it was my eyes, but decided to check to see if the Motolights were working.  I turned them on and off, but it made no difference in illumination at all.  They weren't working at all.  I've never had both bulbs to fail at one time before, so I think it's a fuse or something.  Maybe the extreme heat had something to do with it??

Then I flipped the high beam on and off, and that made no difference either!  The high beam was burned out.  So, out of a total of 5 lights on the front of the bike, only one low beam was working.  Not good...  I rarely ride at night, but today I was driving in the dark and I had only one bulb working.  Drat!

After a while, the sky began getting lighter, making the headlight issues less worrysome.  Traffic was very light, so I was just riding and enjoying the cooler temperatures (mid-80s).  It was a nice ride so far.

In Harper, I came across an open restaurant, so I stopped for breakfast.  With it being Sunday morning, and with most towns being so small, I was surprised to see the restaurant open and it had quite a few people having breakfast.  It was very good.

Leaving Harper, headed towards Wellington, I was riding along, not in a hurry, running at about 71mph (speed limit was 65), when I heard a noise behind me and looked in my rear view mirror.  It was full of blue lights and highway patrol cars!  I had just taken a couple of pictures of the road in front of me and the fields on the side, so I had to put the camera away and slow down and pull over.  When I got stopped, I looked back in my mirror, and there were two policemen out of their cars, with guns trained on me!

They were yelling something, but with the helmet on and earplugs in, I could not hear any of what they were saying.  I pulled my helmet off and pulled out my ear plugs, and they were screaming for me to get off the bike and to lay down face first on the pavement.

I did!

In a few seconds, one of them ordered me to put my left arm behind my back.  I did.  I felt some kind of fastener close around my left wrist.  Then another order to put my right hand behind my back.  I did, and felt something close on that wrist.  I learned later that they were handcuffs; the first time in my life that I had worn handcuffs.

I had no idea what was going on; as far as I knew the only thing I had done illegal was to speed 6 miles over the speed limit, so I was totally confused and very scared.

They left me laying face down with my hands cuffed behind my back for a few minutes while one of the partolmen moved his car so the  road had one clear lane of traffic.  They head the whole road blocked!

When he came back, he told me to roll over and to get up.  I could roll over, but with my hands behind my back, there was no way I could get up. So, he grabbed me  and he pulled while I pushed.  It worked, and he pulled me to the side of the road.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, they quizzed me about where I had been, where I was going, how long I had been riding (this morning), and many other questions that I can't remember now.  I had recently read an article in one of my motorcycle magazines about how to behave when the cops have you. The recommendation was to answer their questions, keep quiet, and to be polite.  So, I did.

They said that I had blown by one of the patrol cars at a high rate of speed (which I hadn't done), and that he took off in pursuit, and that because I didn't stop, he believed I was trying to get away from him.  Then he called in the other patrol car to help in the pursuit.

The two patrolmen were very different from each other.  Think good cop/bad cop.  The younger one was very nice, polite, and in charge (I guess it was his arrest).  The other one was older and convinced that I was a terror on the highways, saying things like "Cone on, admit that you were trying to get away"  and "You've got a fast bike--how fast were you going".  In my view, he was an absolute asshole, very antagonistic and wanted to take me in very badly.

I told them that I was riding at 71mph, and did not hear their siren or see them.  The bad cop replied that I was lying, that he could see me in the mirror looking at him.  They said they chased me for about 4 miles.  I never saw them or heard them until the end.  I explained that I wear earplugs to save my hearing.  The good cop asked if ear plugs were legal.  I said they were in NC, but I didn't know about in Kansas.  He said he didn't know either.  I explained that my duffel bag on the passenger seat blocks some of my view to the rear (I had been thinking about getting some better mirrors for a while, and just decided to get some before leaving home.  I had hoped that I could find some at the MOA rally, but didn't.  I will find some now!).  

The bad cop said that they were going to take me to jail for trying to elude the law, for not stopping for blue light and siren, for excessive speed, all of which were felonies.  I was in deep poo poo and hadn't done anything wrong except speed a little.

The bad cop backed off to call in my license number, plate number and whatever else.  While he was busy with that, the good cop started talking, commenting on my being cooperative and polite, and asked if I could see why they were so excited in stopping me.  I replied that I did, and, under those circumstances, would feel the same way.  He had seen the glint of the camera in my hand when I was taking pictures, and thought it was a gun.  I told him that I was very nervous and scared, and he said he was as well.  I apologized for not seeing or hearing them, but I just didn't hear or see them.

I could tell that he was beginning to believe me and what I told him.  I told him that I was a grandfather and had no reason to try to elude the police, and I was not in a hurry or traveling faster than 71.  At one point one of them said I was going over 80 and they had to drive over 85 to catch up with me.  I don't know what they were seeing, but this was one time when I was just riding along, not in a hurry or trying to drive fast.  Glad they weren't there when I topped 100 a week or so earlier!

The bad cop kept interjecting comments that were very abrasive and argumentive.  It was hard, but I decided to keep my cool and to answer any questions honestly.  

At one point, the good cop asked if I had any weapons.  I replied that I had a handgun in the glove compartment, that it was loaded, and that I had a carry permit from NC.  He responded that Kansas and NC shared an agreement on concealed carry requirements.  He got the gun, emptied it, and remarked that he had one just like it.  I told him that I travel a lot alone and wanted to have some protection if needed.  He asked me if I had shot a newer model of the same gun, and I told him that I had not.

After what seemed like hours, they took the handcuffs off and the good cop said that he believed he would give me the benefit of doubt about trying to elude them.  But he said he had not decided whether or not to give me a speeding ticket.  I was happy to hear that my charges were now just for speeding.  I could handle a speeding ticket, but I have no idea how to get out of jail!

I told him one last time that I was riding at 71 and no faster, that the cruise was set on it, and that's what I was doing for quite a few miles.  Then he said "Well, I've decided not to write a ticket, but you had better take it easy".  I responded that I would for sure!  He added that when he called in for support, it was broadcast in a 100 mile radius to all law enforcement folks, and that they would be on the lookout for me.  I decided to not ride faster than the speed limit until I got out of Kansas.

The good cop and I shook hands, and we parted.  Whew, that was scary and a close call.  At one point, I believed I was going to jail.  The bad cop was just like those portrayed on TV that cajole and torment people to admit to something just to get them off their back.  Even as they were leaving, the bad cop said to me "Comeon now, you really were putting the gun into the glove box when we were stopping you, weren't you?"  I responded that the gun had been in the glove box for days prior to this incident.  I feel for people like him that live lives as assholes.  Gotta be a miserable human.

I really don't know how long all of that took, but it seemed like a long time.  In the meanwhile, the temperatures had jumped almost 10 degrees to 98.  Then it got hot.

The rest of the ride was slower and uneventful.  I did see several cop cars along the way, and, while I can't be sure, believe that they were watching me.  Might have just been paranoid, but It felt like they were keeping an eye on me.

The temperature got higher and higher, running from 105 to 113 as I rode west, with quite a few miles at 110.  It was hot the rest of the way to Springfield MO, where I stopped for the day.  I rode about 425 miles, not so far, but the events of the day left me pretty beat.

All of the pics were taken today, and offer some proof that I'm not the criminal that they thought they had.

After checking into the motel, I rested a bit and then went to Lambert's, the home of the Throwed Rolls.  It was good, and they do throw rolls across the room if you want one.  It was quite a show, and the food was good.  After dinner, back to the motel and this blog as I watch the Olympics on TV.

Tomorrow, I have no idea what I'm going to do except to continue heading east towards home.  So far, I've traveled 4,025 miles, with about 1,000 to go to home.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Goin' East

Today marks the first day of my ride home.  I've decided to take it easier and to rest more, so I was in my motel room by 4:30 tonight.  I'm in Dodge City, KS, a ride of something like 350 miles.  It got hot, so I stopped!

There wasn't anything special about today's ride.  I left Kevin's home and headed south to Pueblo CO.  There, I took US 50 east to Dodge City.  Once I started east, the Rockies were shortly out of sight, now riding on flat plains lands of eastern CO and southern KS.  So much wheat and corn, some of it looking healthy, and some completely burned up from the heat and drought  Farmers are having a horrible lyear in so many places.  We'll pay for all of this later.

Had dinner at the Dodge House Restaurant.  It was very good; chicken fried steak, baked potato, baked beans and a salad.  All of it was good!  I'd recommend the place.

Today's heat was in the low 100s from about noon until I stopped at the motel.  It probably heated up just a bit after I got inside since it was earlier than usual.

I'm going to post some pics taken along the trip; none were from today, but I wanted to share some of the beauty and this is a good day to do it since I don't have a lot to say.

Tomorrow, ride to Ozark MO and dinner at Lambert's (home of the Throwed Rolls)..

Friday, July 27, 2012

Great Riding

Well, tonight's post is a threefer, my first of this type.  I've just been busy or tired, so there was no time to write.  I'll combine the last 3 days into this post.

On Wednesday, at the Unrally, we did a group ride.  There were about a dozen bikes, some two-up and some singles.  We left at 8am and returned at 5:15pm, and covered a little over 300 miles.  It was a great ride, and included several high mountain passes, including Independence Pass, at 12,095 feet.  While the temperatures in the lower areas were hot (lower areas are at about 7-8,000 feet), it was 46 degrees on top of Independence Pass!  I had to put on more clothes!  The other highlight was seeing the Gunnison area of Colorado. Huge gorge, deep colors, rivers, and high mountains.  Just gorgeous and amazing.

Wednesday's rides (there were several taking place at the same time) included at least 3 bikes going down.  At one traffic circle, one bike ran into the bike in front of it, and both riders went down.  I heard of another one, and we saw one of our riders and his bike on the side of the road being supported by other riders.  I had no  issues, but others did.

When I got back to the hotel, my friend Kevin was there.  We visited with each other, had dinner, and turned in for the day.  I had not seen him in almost a year, so it was good to see him.  One item we discussed was whether to stay another day with the rally, or whether to ride together on Thursday and to stay at his house Thursday night.  After thinking it over, I decided to leave the rally and to ride with Kevin and stay at his house.

Thursday morning, we got up, packed the bikes and were riding by 7:30am.  For the most part, we were headed to his house just south of Denver, but we took interesting roads and 4 high passes.  A great ride!  The highlight was riding up Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America.  14,240 feet high.  It was an awesome ride, with road surfaces ranging from silky smooth to roller-coaster.  Scenic views overlooking lower mountains, and seeing vistas for what seemed like thousands of miles.  Incredible!  At the top are the remains of an old restaurant that burned some time ago.  It's a "Don't Miss" item, and I'm so glad Kevin took me there.

We did 4 high mountain passes, each one very unique, and so pretty.   Words can't do justice to all of the beauty I've seen out west, on this trip as well as other trips.  I can't describe them; and I'd highly recommend folks reading this to go west if they haven't done it already.  I am already looking forward to another visit to Colorado to ride the roads.  I think it is my favorite riding state of all.

Today's ride was shorter, but awesome as well.  As a bonus, his daughter rode on the back of his bike.  She was a good passenger, it was obvious that she had been on the bike a fair amount.  It was good having her with us and I enjoyed picking with her.  We went north of Denver on roads that were amazing to ride.  Two of the roads had just been resurfaced, making them so nice to ride on.

The other highlight for the day was going to The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.  It's an old white hotel that was the basis for Stephen King's "The Shining" movie and TV series.  Neat old place.  We had lunch there in the Cascades Room; very good!

On the way back home, thunderstorms came up, making us damp but not wet.  Got back home around 4:30pm.  I was tired, so I took a short note before dinner.

New phone arrived while I was in Salida, and it is now pretty much set up to use.  Glad I brought a spare phone so I would not be without telephone service along the way.

All in all, the Unrally was a bit of a disappointment to me.  I'm glad I went, but found that outsiders like me were't truly welcomed into the group.  They weren't cold, but it was clear that there were a number of groups of people who knew each other very well, and it was awkward trying to join in their group.  I doubt that I'll go to another one unless it's very close by home.

I think I've decided what to do when I leave Kevin's tomorrow morning.  I had considered a number of options, but have decided to head  east towards home.  But to make Ozark, MO a waypoint going east.  Ozark has a restaurant I want to see and to eat in, the place famous for it's Throwed Rolls.  It sounds like fun and good.  And doing that will keep me off the Interstates at least into MO.  After there, I don't know yet.

So, this concludes my threefer post.  More tomorrow, I hope.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unrally XI

Today was quite an adventure.  It started normally enough, at 5:45am (way too early).  I woke up, checked my email, and started packing to leave.  Got some coffee and a bagel, and hit the road about 7:45 or so.

Headed northwest on US 64, the same US 64 that runs through NC.  I had picked out a route to bypass Capulin  Volcano, going around it on the back side.  Unfortunately, I folded my map in such a way that I could not see the road numbers, so I missed most of the loop and instead rode the same road Gary and I rode in 2007.

Saw some antelope along the way, and got a picture of one way down the road.  There were several packs of them off to the side in the pastures.

Since I was riding right past the entrance to the park, I decided to ride in, ride to the top, take some pics, and head back down.  I did exactly that, missing a deer by about 10 feet on the way up the volcano.  I was going very slow, so it didn't scare me or even get the heart racing.  Pretty much "Oh yeah, there's a deer".

Along the way, I crossed a number of cattle grates.  Out west, in a lot of areas they don't use fencing to keep the cattle in one contained area.  They are essentially free range cattle.  But the fences always do come to the road at one point, with fences on both sides of the road terminating at the edge of the road.  Because a gate is not practical on a public road, someone discovered that cattle will not walk over a grate.  So, they build these heavy-duty grates and put them on the road where the fences terminate.  Keeps the cattle in!  Here's a pic of one.

From the volcano, I got back on US 64 and rode to the next town, Raton NM.  There, I wanted to do a loop that would bypass the Interstate and take me to the next town, Trinidad, CO.  So, I found the road I wanted and rode down it about 15 miles.  At the Colorado line, the road turned to dirt.  Since it was at least 10 miles of dirt, I turned around and retraced my route back to Raton.

Since it was gettign towards lunchtime, I decided to eat there and to check to see if my phone would get a signal.  Lunch was good; a cheese omelette with toast and hash browns.  Breakfast is always good for lunch!  While waiting on the food, I played with the phone, but could get a signal only for a few seconds right after restarting it.

The night before, I called Verizon to see if they could help me to get a signal.  After several attempts, nothing worked.  Finally, they suggested that I go to a place with a known good signal and to see if it would receive the signal.  If that didn't work, they said to do a factory reset.  So, when I got no signal, I decided to go to a Verizon store so they could check it for me.  After eating, I asked for directions to Verizon, and took off for the store.

When I could not find it, I stopped and asked someone else for directions.  The lady I talked to told me that the store had just moved, and she didn't know where.  So, she called the number and discovered that they had moved--out of town!  Darn!

I decided to go on to the next town, Trinidad to see if they had a Verizon store.  About 20 miles later, I turned off the Interstate and into Trinidad.  Found the store and went inside.  The service rep worked on the phone, repeating most of what I had done last night; nothing changed.  Then he did a factory reset.  Nothing changed--still no signal.  So, he called Verizon service and, after about 15 minutes, told me that the phone was broken and they were going to give me a new one (actually refurbished).  So, it is being shipped to my motel in Salida CO, where the rally is being held.  Hopefully that will work out okay.

Luckily, I had carried my old phone with me, just in case...  So, I took it into the store and they re-registered it so that I'd have cell phone  coverage and email.    It worked just fine.

From there, I rode west and north on a smaller road to do a loop before getting serious about getting to Salida.  It was fun!  Went over a pass at over 8,000 feet--the air got cooler and it was a very pleasant ride.  Went through one shower, and the temp lowered to 60 degrees, the coolest temp of the trip.  Got a little damp, but it felt great.  However, in about 5 minutes, the temp was back in the 90s.  The high for the day was 100, with most in the mid 90s.  Not as bad as earlier on the trip.

The road to Salida was uneventful except I came up on a BMW rider and decided to follow him to the motel.  He rode a lot like I do, so it was a fun ride.  Got to the hotel at about 4:45 and picked up my registration packet.

About the "Unrally".  I'm not sure why it's called that, but I plan to find out.  I think that they called it an unrally because there are a lot of genuine rallys, and they wanted to call it something different--hence the unrally.  This is the eleventh one.

Today's ride was about 370 miles--not too far, but I'm tired.  I think all of this going is catching up with me.  Early to bed tonight.

Tomorrow a group ride of about 300 miles.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Long, Hot Ride

Another twofer; I'll try to write tomorrow night so that it won't be a twofer for each post.

Yesterday I got up early and rode to the rally to meet up with my Motorcycle Travel Network host, Colt, so I could follow him to his house for the night.  When I found him, there were 4 others riding, so we had a small convoy of motorcycles headed to southwest MO.  He lives on the southern edge of MO, just a few miles from OK.

The ride to his house was about 219 miles, and parts of it were fun.  I had hoped we'd have lots of good roads, but because it was so hot, he decided to ride home the fastest way to beat the heat.  All in all, that was okay since it was about 100 outside.

He lives on a ranch, with a driveway that runs through a huge pasture for almost a mile.  His family owns about 500 acres, and he's in the middle of it with 40 acres for his place.  The house is a log home, with high vaulted ceilings and an upstairs loft and bedroom.  Also a full basement with bikes and tools.  Two others stayed overnight; a friend from Germany and an old friend from TX.

His son and another friend also joined us for a while after dinner, where we gathered in the basement to talk bikes and rides.  It was a very good evening.

Got up this morning, had coffee, and hit the road about 7:45am.  Colt recommended riding across OK rather than KS, to end the day in Clayton NM.  Since the roads were generally north-south, east-west, it was not difficult to get to Clayton.  It is 560 miles from his house to Clayton, so it was a long ride.

And HOT.  Not frying hot, but simmering at 104-108 all day.  I tried out my new cooling vest, and I'm still not sure if it's helping all that much or not.  It helps some, but I'm just not sure if it's worth the cost.  I may send it back for a refund when I get home.

It's also very, very dry out here.  I crossed many "creeks" along the way, most with no water at all in the creek.  The "rivers" are almost dry, with just a small channel of water in many of them.  Crops are dead in the fields, and everything is brown.  I overheard some locals talking aboutall of the lost crops.  They are in deep trouble this year.

The roads are mostly 2 lane, with speed limits of 65 on most of them.  Where they are 4 lane, the limit is70.  Traffic was very low, with  it being very often that I'd see another vehicle about every 15 minutes or so.  And they are straight for mile after mile.  In some places you can see for probably 10 miles of road in front of you.  The landscape is flat or some small hills.  But mostly flat.  I did note that even though mostly flat, the overall elevation is now about 4,600 feet.  Weird to be so high, but level as far as you can see.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to set the GPS to take the shortest route to Clayton.  I figured it might cut out a few miles and be more interesting.  Initially, it was fun.  Two-lane farm style roads, straight, but NO traffic at all.  I went about 20 miles down one of it, and it turned to dirt.  I could see that I had a left hand turn in a mile, so I rode the dirt for a mile.  The left turn was on another dirt road. At one place, I had to cross a very small wooden bridge over a ravine.  No problem, but it's always interesting to do things like that.  In another mile, it turned back to pavement, so all was well.  It added a little interest to an otherwise boring ride.

I did have a little fun late this afternoon.  I was riding at about 70 mph and a Lexus SUV passed me like I was backing up.  I decided to follow him to see just how fast he was going.  I ran it up to 90 and it was still moving away from me.  At 105, I was rinning at about the same speed; at least it wasn't running away very much.  I did hit 109 for a short bit, but decided with the heat it was not smart to run that fast in the heat.  A blowout could be fatal.  So, I let him go.  But it was fun while it lasted.  I went about 5 miles at 105, and it was a rush!

Spending the night in a mom and pop motel just north of Clayton.  While it has some age on it, it's well kept, has a good bed, and all of the modern amenities, including satellite tv, Internet, and AC.  And the rate is less than half of the chain motel rate.  Oh, yes, it's clean as well.

So, that's the news of the day.  I've ridden right at 2,150 miles so far on this trip.  It's about 250 miles to Salida CO, where the next rally is being held.  I plan to do some fun roads along the way to Salida.

That's it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rally Days

This is another twofer post.  There's not much to report, except that I didn't win a prize!  No prize at all!!  I think they threw my ticket away; I want a refund....

I did forget in my last post that the bike blew another headlight bulb.  While it's the first on this trip, it blew two bulbs on the last ride with Gary.  And of course, it was the right bulb, the one that is impossible to replace.  You can either touch where the bulb is replaced, or you can barely see where the bulb is, but it is impossible to both touch and see at the same time unless you take the dashboard apart.  Horrible location; your hand takes all of the space, so you can't see beyond your hand.  I have a replacement bulb with me, but my plan is to ignore it unless the left bulb blows.  If that happens, I'll install the left one (it's very accessible) and ignore the right one until I get home.  These RT bikes are hard on headlight bulbs.

I enjoyed the rally.  Got to see lots of neat stuff for the bike or riding gear.  I ended up spending too much money, bought a new cooling vest, a wicking tee shirt, some amber Motolight bulbs, and a few other items.  Got to talk to Tina from Motolights a few minutes; she remembers me!  That's amazing since she sees many thousand people each year at the rallys where she sells her lights.

Attendance seemed a little lower than last year.  There were a lot of people there, but it was not packed.  But the  other factor is that the fairgrounds are big, and with people spread out, there may have been more people than it looked like.

The GS Giant competition was fun to watch.  Riders ride over an obstacle course consisting of a mud trench, sand, telephone poles, a big hill, and some tight turns.  Many of the riders fall at least once, and some fall multiple times.  There's no speed involved, so they don't get hurt; only embarrassed.  It's fun to watch it each year.

Yesterday had good temperatures, the high was in the low 90s.  Today was a little hotter, with the high being 98.  Hot but not unbearable.  Tomorrow is supposed to be very hot; 102, with temps rising each day for the next few days.  Ugh, I'm ready for more moderate temperatures.

Riding back to the motel last night, a big raccoon crossed the road in front of me, and I had to brake and swerve pretty hard to miss it.   Tony almost hit it too.  Not sure what would have happened if I had hit it, but glad I was able to miss it. 

Tony left for home this morning.  he has young boys at home and felt like he needed to get back to the family.  So, he left early this morning.  Hope his trip home is good.

Tomorrow I meet up with my Motorcycle Travel Network host and follow him to his home in the southwest corner of Missouri.  Then he's going to lead on a good ride in the area.  Should be fun since he knows the area.  I haven't done any real riding for 3 days now, except for the daily commute to the rally (28 miles each way).  I'm ready to ride again and to try out my new cooling vest.  I sure hope it does a good job of cooling.  My other vest does some cooling, but it is soaking wet and  the water runs down my body into my pants.  Feels yucchy and clammy.  The new one is supposed to stay dry but still cools.  We'll see.

That's it for tonight.  No pics; there wasn't much to take pictures of, so I just didn't take any.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Ok, tonight's post is a twofer; two days in one post.  I was just too tired last night to post anything.  I'm much better tonight.

I'll start with yesterday's ride.  It was a long, hard, HOT ride.  The day started out pretty warm, and it just got hotter and hotter as we rode.  We rode many miles at 110 degrees.  From about 11am to 5 it was 100 or hotter, with most in the 105-110 range.  Air temperatures were in the low 100s, but the air over the road surface was hotter.

We stopped pretty frequently to get something to drink, and that certainly helped to keep us hydrated.  I think we did okay and didn't get dehydrated, but we were wet with sweat virtually all day.

Traffic was okay; we had some fun roads in the morning and then got on Interstates for most of the rest of the day.  St. Louis was a little busy, but not bad.  I did miss our exit in St Louis, and it resulted in getting into a construction area with very slow traffic for a few miles.  The road we were on was elevated, so we got good views of downtown St. Louis, so not all was bad.

US 50 was a delight to ride.  Good road, wide and with good sweepers along the way.  Good passing zones, and low traffic allowed it to be very enjoyable.  We stopped in Jefferson City for the night and had a very good dinner at an authentic Irish Pub. 

A tough day, but a good day overall. We rode about 485 miles.

Oh, and the tire held air all day.  I monitored it quite often, and it did fine.  Tire temperatures were very high; 122 on the rear tire, and 109 in the front tire.  Did I mention that it was HOT???

Today, we rode the 62 miles to Sedalia, where the rally is being held.  There were some light showers in the area, so it was a good and easy ride on US 50 to town.

Got in town, and found the Missouri State Fairgrounds, where the rally is being held.  The fairgrounds are pretty large, spread out over a mult-acre site. 

We picked up our registration packets, and I headed to the No-Mar vendor, who sells and mounts tires.  They didn't have the tire I wanted, but did have one I like, so I bought the tire, went back to the bike, removed the rear wheel, carried it to the tire vendor, and had it installed.  A bit pricey, but not too bad.

I decided to keep the plugged tire and to have it sent home.  We found the UPS vendor at the rally and have it being shipped back home.  Expensive; over $40 just to ship a tire from Missouri to Clayton!  But I'll patch it properly and then use the tire as normal.  I just couldn't throw away a $150 tire.  It's just money....

We spent most of the day going through the vendors.  I bought something for my son.  Bought the bikini cover that I wanted to pick up.  Renewed my subscription to RoadRunner magazine, and went to one seminar. 

Oh, it was hot today; temps at 100 outside.  Cool inside, though, so we spent most of our time inside.  Plan to do the same tomorrow because it's supposed to be hotter.

I apologize for talking about the heat so much, but it's just overwelming!  Step outside and the sweat rolls in about 10 seconds.  I'll be okay, but just wish it were 10 degrees cooler.  Natives tell me that it's abnormally hot now, it's usually about 90 this time of the year.  Bad timing, I guess.

I'll close this entry for yesterday and today.  Probably won't blog tomorrow night because we'll be at the rally until later evening.  But I will on Saturday night.

Tomorrow, more rally, seminars, and winning tickets (I hope).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flat Tire

Today's ride (7/17/12)  was, in a word, HOT!  After last year's California ride, I swore I'd not do another hot ride.  And that was my intent.  But, dadgum it, they schedule the good rallys right in the middle of the summer, so what are you going to do?  Ride and be hot, I guess.

Left home at 6:22am, before sunrise!  It was already warm; 76 degrees and very humid, but not too uncomfortable.  I had promised Tony that I'd meet him at exit 90 on I-40 at 10am.  And with it being 223 miles from my house, I had a ways to go to get there.

Fortunately, traffic moved through RTP freely and even through Greensboro.  Unfortunately, it stopped just east of Winston Salem.  A wreck had all lanes blocked for a little while.  But it cleared before too long and I was moving again.

A bathroom stop and a gas stop later, I pulled into our meeting spot at 10:03; not bad for all the distance covered.

We jumped on the bikes and sailed west on I-40, through Asheville and Knoxville.  In Knoxville, we took I-75 North.  Again, traffic was moving along pretty well and the ride was fine except HOT.  We did go through a couple of rain showers, and they helped cool things off quite a bit without getting us more than a little damp.

About 40 miles north of Knoxville, we got off the Interstate and took TN 63 west.  It was a fun road, with a lot of elevation changes and nice sweeping curves.  It was the most enjoyable road of the day.  At TN 27, we turned north.  In about 10 miles, we were in Oneida, TN, when I felt something weird either in a tire or in the road.  It was a definite bump, bump, bump for just a little, and then it got more and more faint to the point that I could no longer feel it.

Just about the time I decided it was some imperfections in the road, I glanced at my tire pressure monitor and noted that the rear tire pressure had dropped from 44 to 37 within a few blocks.  Damn; that bump, bump, bump was something in the tire!!  So, I stopped in a parking lot, put the bike on the centerstand and rotated the rear wheel.  There was some metal stuff sticking out of the tire,.  Not a nail or screw, but a combination of pieces of metal that had penetrated the tire just off-center from the middle of the tread.  Picture is of the metal thingey that gave me a flat tire. 

So, I moved the bike to some shade, unloaded it, got out my tire plugs and air compressor.  The metal came out of the tire ok; I reamed out the hole in the tire and inserted the black stringey plug into the hole.  It appears to be holding.  I kept checking as we rode another 100 miles or so, and the pressure did not drop any at all.  But I'll know more tomorrow morning when I go out to check the bike.

It was a new tire; $180, including installation.  I'm going to try to ride it with the plug.  It's safe; it just might leak.  If it leaks tonight or tomorrow, I'll get a new tire installed at the rally.  I seem to have way too many flat tires!!

The remainder of the ride went well.  Did I mention that it was hot?  Otherwise a good day.  I did 585 miles for the day.  We are staying in Cave City, KY tonight.  Had a good Mexican Dinner here in town.

Tomorrow, on towards Sedalia.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rally Ride Prelude

What a crappy title "Rally Ride Prelude".  Pitiful, but it's the best I could do tonight.  It's Saturday, July 14, as I write this ride introduction, and I'm drawing a blank on what to say about the upcoming adventure.

Guess I'll start with a 6,000 foot overview of what I'm doing this time.  I plan to leave home early on Tuesday, July 17 and ride west to meet up with Tony, a fellow environmental health friend.  I'm not sure if Gary, my usual riding partner is going on this trip.  He has a new grandson, and he may stick close to home until the little one gets a little older and more stable.

I'll meet Tony just west of Morganton, NC, and head towards Sedalia, MO, the location of the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association this year, for the International BMW MOA International Rally (now, that's a mouthful!).  Otherwise, it's called the BMW Rally, but officially, the BIG one.  They're expecting over 6,000 attendees for the rally this year.

We plan to arrive on Thursday, July 19, and will stay to the end, on Sunday, July22 in the morning.  He and I  will see and do as much as we can, and I plan to bring home a new BMW motorcycle when I finish my complete ride.  They sold raffle tickets to win a bunch of really neat things, including 12 new BMW motorcycles, tours all over the world, and world-class riding gear.  I'm going to win something this year!

And, of course, there are many, many vendors of motorcycle-related stuff there.  I hope to find a bikini cover for the bike (don't get excited; it just covers the top and a little of the sides, unlike a full cover that covers the whole bike.  A bikini cover will be handy to keep the sun off the bike during days on the road and  dew off the bike overnight where I stop.  There are a few more items I may buy, if I find them.  But for sure, the rally is the best collection of vendors (especially for BMWs) anywhere.

On Sunday morning, Tony heads east, back home, and I head south with a Motorcycle Travel Network (MTN) host to stay at his home in extreme southwest MO.  The MTN is a motorcyclist Bed and Breakfast arrangement where members stay at other members' homes for $15 a night.  The fee includes a clean bed, a bathroom, and breakfast the next morning.  A great deal, and most of the time it's a very enjoyable evening talking bikes and trips with the host.  This guy will be funny, based on our emails back and forth.  I'm looking forward to meeting him!

Monday morning, I'll hit the road, heading west towards Salida, CO, for the BMW Sports Touring Association's Unrally being held there.  This is a group of guys (and girls) who have joined the BMWST Forum.  They get together once a year for a rally.  But because there are so many motorcycle rallys, they call it the "Unrally" to make it different.  I've been a member and contributor to the forum since 2007, and have gotten to "know" several of the guys through posts and purchases (the classified ads have added to my bunch of junk considerably).  One of the members, Whip, hosted Gary and me last year on our ride to California.  He and his wife live just outside San Antonio, and we stayed with him two nights while we were going through the area.  He also took us on a ride through the famed "Texas Hill Country" so we could see what people were raving about.  They were right to rave; the hill country has some great riding, and thanks to Whip, we saw the best of it.

I've digressed from the overview....

Since it's about 700 miles from my MTN host's home to Salida, I'll stop at a motel somewhere along the way   on Monday night.  I should arrive at Salida on Tuesday.  I haven't been to an Unrally yet, so I don't know exactly what to expect there.  I don't believe they have vendors, but I do know that they do planned rides in the area.  I know Whip is coordinating an all-day ride on Wednesday that I plan to join, and I think there's an all-day ride on Thursday.  If so, I hope to do it too.

In Salida, I'll meet up with Kevin, my friend from Denver.  Kevin and I have ridden together twice, once on the Lighthouse Tour that I sponsored three years ago.  It covered all of the lighthouses in NC.  And I spent about a week with him and others last September on a ride of the Skyline Parkway and Blue Ridge Parkway.  He and I will share a room for 3 nights in Salida.

The Unrally ends on Friday morning, so he and I will leave the event and do some riding in CO.  I want to ride Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America.  Since he lives in the area, I'll ask him to lead and take me to good roads in the area.

I'll stay at Kevin's home on Friday night.

Saturday morning, I'll leave Kevin's and probably do some sightseeing in Colorado.  I've seen parts of it on other rides, but being alone will let me wander wherever I want.  I'd like to see Durango while in CO; people say it's a neat place to visit.

I don't know how long I'll stay in that area, or what I'll do.  But it will give me a chance to explore to my heart's content.

At some point in time, I'll head home.  I may swing south to visit some friends in the southeast, but I'm not sure if that will work out.  Or I may go through the mountains of GA to ride some of the good roads on the way home.

On the way out west, as well as riding back home, I hope to stay off Interstates as much as possible.  I've planned an interesting route to Sedalia that includes about 50% Interstate and 50% two-lane.  Should be fun!

Changing gears from the overview now.

The bike is ready to go.  New rear tire and fair front tire.  New oil and oil filter. Full of premium fuel.  New primary spark plugs (secondary ones require taking the fairings off the bike and I'm pretty lazy, so they'll be changed the next time I have the fairings off).  The only significant remaining "to do" is to pack my clothes.  I've done a packing list, so packing should be pretty straight forward.  Oh, and I've gotta get cash--lots of it for the trip!

So, this is the first post of my next adventure.  I'm beginning to get excited, a bit, but I'm not as excited as I have been in the past.  I think the fact that I've now done so many significant rides over the past 7 years, that it's just a lot easier to get prepared.  I've bought everything you can think of for the bike, so there's not much to do to get ready now.  I'll have a great time, but it's a little "old hat" now.

Oh yeah, I've posted a few pics on this blog just to have something to look at.  None of these pics have anything to do with the ride ;-)....  But each has it's own story..

Next post will likely be on the road to Sedalia.  Stay tuned....