My New Ride

Picking up my brand new 2016 BMW R1200GS Triple Black at MAX BMW on 4th of July weekend. After selling my beloved Triumph Tiger 800XC, and taking a brief detour on a sport touring bike, I am back where I belong, on and adventure bike. Best bike I’ve ever owned! But then again they’ve all been the best bike I’ve ever owned, when I owned them 🙂

 

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Surrealchemist has his first bike

During the LLS ride, I gazed upon Mr. Furious’ gorgeous new Moto Guzzi V7 Racer and thought: “He’s going to sell that within six months.”

I was wrong. He got rid of it in three months.

Why? The Guzzi V7 is a great machine, but it’s only 55 HP… at the crank. Probably closer to 40 HP after the shaft drive takes it’s power tax. Furious needs triple-digit horsepower to be satisfied. Meanwhile, Konrad Urban put a crowbar to his wallet and bought a new BMW R1200GS, which made his Triumph Sprint redundant. Furious had rode on the Sprint and pronounced it Full of Goodness, but Furious also has no garage to keep two bikes.

Along comes Surrealchemist, with his freshly-minted motorcycle license. He was looking at the usual suspects – Suzuki SV650, Kawasaki EX500, maybe even a Ducati Monster 620. Knowing that he was in need of a forgiving bike but tempted by more enticing machines, Furious made Surrealchemist an offer he couldn’t refuse: $500 off the public asking price of the V7.

Test rides were taken

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And so a deal was struck.

Clown rule number one was triggered.

The weather report for yesterday called for a pick thunderstorms, and it was correct! However it showed that the thunderstorms would not be coming through our area until the afternoon. This gave the opportunity for Josh and I to drive up to Mr. furious’ house and pick up SC’s bike. Mr. furious is on vacation in upstate New York, but he graciously left the bike unlocked and ready to roll with all of its paperwork and extra parts so that we could pick it up without him being home.
SC came to my house around 10 AM, and I threw my gear into his Volkswagen GTI. We were at the furious ranch before 11 AM. Of course several cats greeted us and demanded attention. The motorcycle was exactly where it was supposed to be, in his shed along with a box of parts extra fender, and The original fly screen. Like some drug deal on breaking bad, SC put the cash in the secret place, locked the door, and collected the pre-signed title. I hopped on the bike and negotiated the treacherous gravel driveway and we were off.
This turned out to be an excellent chance to test and evaluate the biker. I had meant to get a test ride when we were down in Maryland for the leukemia and lymphoma Society charity ride several weeks ago. But I never got the chance. The short answer is that the bike is in excellent ride! Is it superfast? No, absolutely not. But it all works, and it is an excellent bike for a first-time rider like SC.
Some observations:
Motor: at first I was a little bit disappointed with the power output of the transverse air cooled pushrod 750 cc V-twin. (Ha! Siri just corrected “cc” to mL) it does have a remarkable amount of torque starting from idle. You can easily roll away just by releasing the clutch and not giving it any throttle at all. But at first it seemed a little bit wheezy. Like it had half the horsepower that it should. As I got more comfortable with the bike I realized that it was because the throttle has a huge amount of travel! If you keep on rolling on the throttle, you keep on getting more and more power. This means that you need to adjust your wrist position a little bit so that you can twist the throttle further than you would expect. Maybe I have just gotten used bikes with a more hair – trigger throttle. This kind of throttle behavior is great for a beginner rider! There are no surprises. The engine gives you what you ask for, when you ask for it. Once I got used to the throttle the bike is an incredibly torquey fun ride! It has something over 50 hp at the crank, which translates to something less than 40 hp after the shaft drive takes it’s toll. I deem it a worthy motor.
Brakes: pretty much the same as the motor. The bike only has a single front desk but it is also a fairly light bike at something around 425 pounds. The brakes are progressive and predictable, which is excellent for a new rider. The rear brake in particular actually works better then many more expert level bikes. They are not what I would call “amazing”. They just work as they’re supposed to without risking throwing you over the handlebars. Again I am used to bikes with hairtrigger brakes, so just because I say that these brakes are not spectacular does not mean that there is anything wrong with them. In fact they are much better for a beginner rider because just like the motor, they give you the braking power that you want when you ask for it. They are not “one finger brakes”. You do need to use a little bit of hand muscle in order to get The stopping power that you want.
Chassis & suspension: when riding  someone else’s bike, I am not about to risk it at 9/10 level. But from normal riding on back roads and on the highway I can say that the chassis and handling are indeed up to snuff with modern café racer type bikes. The bike feels nimble and light and eager to turn. Again excellent choice for the new rider because they handling is confidence – inspiring and predictable.
Dealership experience: apparently, Josh forgot to check off the “provide more than 6 ounces of fuel” option to this used motorcycle dealer :-). The low fuel light started blinking as we were driving through downtown Newton New Jersey which is only about 12 minutes from the furious ranch. It was full-on by the time we got onto New Jersey Route 15. No problem! There are ample gas stations on route 15 and this gave me a chance to stop and be sure that everything was cool with Josh.
When we got the bike to my house, the weather report showed that we still had about an hour before the skies would open up and drench us. So I offered to take SC for a local backstreet training ride so that he could have a chance to get used to the bike being led by an experienced rider (hah!). It helps that we both have Bluetooth helmet intercom systems so I was able to lead the way and listen to SC and give him pointers. We rode around my neighborhood and the old Greystone psychiatric hospital which are good, safe roads. They are mostly 25 mph zone’s with one section of 40 mph. I do note that SC is a little bit tentative on his speed and tended to fall back even when I was riding just below the 25 mph speed limit. Not surprising for somebody who is taking their first tentative steps of actual road riding.
There was indeed one puckering incident: in one 90° left-hand turn, SC got a little bit of target fixation, and ran wide. I heard rather distressing noises over the helmet intercom. But no crash. I was stopped at a stop sign, and looked into my rearview mirror. SC was on the lawn of the house on the outside of the turn! He was watching the trees and the curb instead of the road and hence ran wide and onto the grass.  So SC got his first taste of off – road riding!
After maybe 40 minutes of riding, it started to drizzle. So SC got to experience his first rain ride as a motorcyclist as well! But discretion is the better part of valor and I decided that we should park the bikes. As it turns out I do indeed have enough room in my garage to park three motorcycles. SC and I had to do a little bit of cleaning up, but we were able to move the Buell towards the back of the garage and put both Italian bikes at the front.
The Guzzi will live in my garage for a few days until work schedules allow me to shuttle it down to SC in Highland Park. Probably should plan to visit SC at lunch time over the next few weeks when our schedules permit, so that I can take him on a few more guided rides. But I expect him to be totally comfortable with this bike within the month!

New bike for SCIENCE

The Ducati 916 was my dream bike when it came out. When it was introduced in 1994, it was unbelievable. The design alone was stunning, groundbreaking. It took the motorcycle world by storm and other manufacturers eventually copied it for their open class sportbikes. It was Massimo Tamburini’s magnum opus, and sealed his position as the greatest motorcycle designer in the world.

At the time the 916 was out of reach for me. It cost something like $17,000 in 1994, about twice what other liter bikes cost. Absolutely out of my reach. But I bided my time and in 2008 I acquired a 2001 996, and my dream bike was in my garage.

996 in Connecticut

But as Spock said: “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.” What i found was that the 996 was exactly what the motorcycle press said it was: a pure track machine with a horrifically punishing riding position. Aggressive almost to the point of being useless on the street. It was my second bike, my garage sculpture that I took out on occasional Sundays for a half day ride (even though I did do a 1,500 mile long weekend tour on it… once).

Maybe I came to feel that it was becoming a bit too much of an object of art and less of a riding bike. But I planned to keep it, maybe forever, as an icon to the purest sportbike ever made.

And then Surrealchemist passed his MSF course and started looking for a bike, And i went to help him pick a model. And so I visited a used bike dealer. And they had my OTHER dream bike sitting there, in pristine condition. Right there on the floor was a 2010 Ducati Streetfighter S. Essentially a naked version of the Ducati 1098S, the direct descendant of the 916/996/998, but set up for street use rather than track use. This was one of the bikes that I fantasized in my ideal 5-bike garage. It too was prohibitively expensive when new ($18K for this “S” version), just not quite as bad as the original 916. Also, it had been discontinued for 2016, so now it was a potential endangered species.

The model in the used bike shop had 3,200 miles on it and not a scratch. The asking price was about $500 below the blue book value, and they made me a decent trade-in offer on the 996. And so I pulled the trigger on the trade.

Streetfighter with Redhead

And there it is, in my driveway, with my standard daughter for scale. Here are some of the details:

CF farkles

Carbon fiber EVERYTHING!

Brembo stoppers

Brembo stoppers

Brembo Radial Monobloc brakes. Currently the best brakes in the world.

Streetfighter front view

Slim profile as only a Ducati twin can have. Note the bar-end mirrors, installed by the previous owner (the only mod he did).

Other items not shown:

  • Ohlins suspension front & rear (that’s like $3,000 worth of shocks alone)
  • Forged alloy Marchesini wheels (another $3,000 at least if I bought them myself!)
  • 155 HP Testastretta motor
  • Traction control (it NEEDS it!)

I will be adding some of my own mods Real Soon Now. Look for further posts.

New Bike Ride July 2016

Konrad Urban. Thynk3r, Gary Miller, an I went for a jaunt through the black earth of Pine Island NY today. The theme was “show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” New bike, that is.

Emerald Point panorama

The meetup was a gentlemanly 9:30 AM at the Chatterbox on Rote 15. Mr. Furious joined us for the first hour on his vintage 1967 Triumph.  Ah, the smell of classic motorcycling: unburned fuel and neets foot oil!
Emerald Point bike parking
We rode through Stokes forest, being careful of the moss-covered slimy dark patches. Then High Point to Pine Island, Warwick NY, and finally the Emerald Point on Greenwood Lake (a favorite Maggot Sunday ride stop). Lunch and 2 beers and great company. Surprisingly few bikers, which is to say we got a seat in the shade without any waiting.
Emerald Point Batman shot
Upon leaving the EP, Konrad and I exchanged bikes. That new air/water cooled BMW Boxer is a damn fine ride. Shockingly upright riding position after the Streetfighter. Gobs of torque, and the pro-shift “no clutch” feature is really cool. Almost like automatic transmission. It matches revs on downshift, slick as snot!
Long shot of Emerald Point Parking
There was an inkling of a plan to head to Piscataway and support Josh in his MSF testing, but Konrad pointed out that such a visit could be more stress than support. Plus it would be over an hour on the slab, so we chose not to.
East to ride, ride to eat
A good ride. Good ride indeed. No hardships, sonit will soon be forgotten and never spoken of again.

LLS Charity Ride, June 2016

The Weather Gods had mercy on us.

I have a three day rule: Don’t start getting freaked out about the weather report for a motorcycle ride more than three days ahead of the event. The accuracy of the weather report is *still* not worth having a panic attack over until you get within the three day forecast timeframe.

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With the ride planned for Friday, I looked on Tuesday… or I was going to when Bota beat me to it. The outlook was grim. 90% chance of rain Friday in NJ and MD. 20% on Saturday (small consolation), 80% on Sunnday. In other words: potential drenching on the days when we would have no choice but to do a 4 hour ride down and up. The “travel days,” where the motorcycling is potentially more of a chore than a joy. I am a bit weird in that I like the ride to and from the main event, as long as I am riding with friends. Especially the ride out. The anticipation builds and if things are right you are not in a hurry and can enjoy a simple ride. But if it is a monsoon, that sucks the fun out of it. Then it is a task that needs to be done to get you to the event, and I will deal with that, but it loses the magic.

Then again, this ride might have some maggot magic regardless of the weather. Mr. Furious had just acquired a Sena bluetooth helmet intercom, and he had convinced me to do the same. Konrad and Marcus already had them, and put them to good use a few years back on the Banjo Run. Later on we found that MJ and Thynk3r also had compatible units. So if the blurb on the box for my brand-spankin’-new Sena 20s was to be believed, we would be able to set up an intercom group between up to 8 riders!

….remember those words: “up to” 8 riders. 😛

I made sure my bike was fully packed and ready to roll on Thursday night. On Friday morning I would need to dial in to a meeting for work. I was on vacation, and I had a co-worker acting as my backup, but I’m a tool that way and I wanted to hear what was going on for at least the first few hours of the meeting. So I was ready to roll as soon as the maggots started arriving at my house.

First up was Marcus at 9:45. That was fifteen minutes early from the planned time. It had been raining hard all morning, but I was checking the weather radar. We were under a band of rain that was just about to peter out. After that was clear air out to Pittsburgh. More important, the next band of rain was a blobbly line running from the Southeast to the Northwest. My eyeball forecast told me that if we got into that rain gap, the further South we went, the further away the rain got. In other words, if we got moving SOON we could ride in a patch of dry weather!

I was starting to get antsy by 10:15, fearing that we would miss our gap. But Mr. Furious and Konrad showed up around 10:20 and so I calmed down.  The plan might just work!

But the Equipment Gods were not going to let the Weather Gods show too much mercy. Just as he dismounted from his bike at the end of my driveway, Mr. Furious experienced a freak mishap: He dropped his helmet. Onto the pavement. Hard.   Snapped off one of the visor retainer panels. Feck! He called for the box ‘o repair materials that he had given me as a gift last year, plus some packing tape. Jerry-rigged driveway repairs ensued and the visor was temporarily re-attached.and we were on our way. Next stop: Molly Pitcher Service Area on the NJ Turnpike, to meet Bota, Annie, MJ, and Thynker.

Before we even made it to the highway, mishap #2. At a traffic light (corner of E. Hanover Ave and Ridgedale), Konrad told me we had to pull in to the gas station. I vetoed that (wrong side of the street) and we pulled into the Agway. Mr. Furious had dropped his (prescription, transitions) glasses in the street. He and Konrad went back to search for them, while Marcus and I fiddled with the Sena headsets to set up communications. After maybe 20 minutes Konrad and Furious returned. The glasses had been found… crushed 🙁

Since we were there we took the time to set up the Senas for bike-to-bike intercom. Remember the promise that you could connect up to 8 headsets into an intercom group? We were never able to get more than 4. Pairing two was dead simple. Adding in a third also easy. Getting the 4th to connect? Well… we did it. Several times. But nobocy NOBODY could figure out what dance we did to get it to work. We would just tap in the first three, then everyone would randomly hit buttons until the 4th joined. Very frustrating. Maybe we should spend some quality time with the manuals but I suspect the issue is version compatiblity. Konrad and I were the only ones with the most recent 10s/20s models. Furious had a 10u which was a special one designed to integrate with Arai helmets. MJ and Marcus had older models, and Thynk3r was from another manufacturer. I have a sneaking suspicion that more than 4 headsets in an intercom group requires A) the latest firmware on all headsets, B) only recent Sena headsets, and C) a more complicated dance of buttons, since it is only the Sena 20s that supports that. The 20s has 2 full Bluetooth chipsets wired together, and apparently must act as the hub for 2 groups of 4 somehow.

Regardless, we departed once again, now about an hour late. Weather was holding at “overcast” but not raining.

With the communicators working, Furious called for a stop to make further helmet repairs. We were on Route 287 close enough to the NJ Turnpike that I asked if it could wait for 10 minutes. Furious said yes, so we stopped at the toll plaza at the entrance to the NJTP. Helmet communicators do indeed have a great deal of utility. Text messages were sent and received. If I recall, other maggots were already at Molly Pitcher and we were still more than 30 minutes away.

The stop lasted maybe 15 minutes while Furious adjusted his packing tape repair. We were off again and onto the Turnpike. The weather worsened slightly and we had some light drizzle. Not enough to harm us in our rain gear. Mr. Furious started his signature battle cry for this trip, shouting “PENIS” into the intercom whenever asked for a check in.

Bota, Annie, MJ, and Thynk3r were all waiting for us at Molly Pitcher. I started my tradition of blowing my stack for the weekend whenever someone asked me why we were late, or why we hadn’t left yet, or why we weren’t taking a different route. In fact, I was on edge for some reason the whole weekend. It did not take much to set me off. I blame work stress.

Most of the bikes in the group had large gas tanks, and we were slated to meet Scrounger about 60 miles away so only Marcus filled up at Molly Pitcher. So of course when we got on the road, ten minutes later Mr. Furious calls out that his reserve light just came on and we need to stop for gas.

The Moto Guzzi V7 Sport is a gorgeous bike. I love it. I respect it. I want to have sex with it. Mr. Furious is a FUCKING HERO for riding this beautiful Italian lady on a maggot ride. Dark grey with a fabulous red frame (not just ubiquitous Ferrari/Ducati Italian red… a deep rich red like arterial blood). The engine on the Guzzi is out and on display for everyone to see, and it is a mechanical sculpture representing purpose and simplicity. Did I say I love this bike?

Oh, it also has a tiny gas tank. From this point on Mr. Furious was careful to fill up whenever the opportunity presented itself, and there were no more low fuel lights.

But it did mean that we made another unscheduled stop at the next rest area. Those who had not fueled up at Molly Pitcher all did so here because… why not?  Since the NJTP rest area gas stops are notoriously congested we ended up close to 90 minutes  late at the end of the stop.  Also, at this gas stop Bota asked if there was a Harley dealer nearby. My answer was A) Why are you asking me? B) There is ALWAYS a harley dealer nearby, and C) Okay, yes. I happen to know that there is Famous Mike’s HD in Newark DE right on our route. So a stop was planned. At the same time MJ asked what we were planning for dinner. Wut? Why do you ask?  Because there is a BBQ joint near Famous Mike’s and she wants us to pick up food for tonight. I am watching my schedule sink rapidly to the bottom of the ocean, drowning.

At the end of the NJTP we lose track of Thynk3r. It is assumed that he has no EZPass. Knowing that EZPass is needed again in 5 miles to cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge, we use the helmet communicators to plan our stop. We pull over and wait for Thynk3r after the bridge tolls. It turns out that he thought that WE were behind him, and had stopped to wait for us. Another 15 minutes delay added to the schedule.

Famous Mike’s (now Rommel’s) HD is only 3 miles past the bridge. We pull in and Bota goes in to get… A snap chain for his leather vest. THAT’S the crucial part we had to stop for. To save time, MJ heads off to the Sunset BBQ and Crab house to place our order. By the time Bota is done, Thynk3r decides he needs fingerless gloves and just as we are getting ready to saddle up to join MJ he goes into the store.

How do you spell “conniption?” Is it “kenipschen?”  Whatever it is, that’s what I have.  We are now well past 2 hours behind schedule. Scrounger texted us that he got sick of waiting for us and went on to Bing’s. By the time I calm down enough to ride, Thynk3r is back out of the shop (no gloves purchased… never asked why but that problem got fixed later). We head over to meet MJ.

The Sunset BBQ and Crab Shack is indeed just over the overpass from the HD dealer. it’s also a garden center. From seeing the proprietors, I think it’s also a Blues Heritage Site. The place and the owners look like they belong in Mississippi. Or at least South Carolina. Which is to say it is a really heavyset black woman and her silent but friendly husband. MJ has ordered a few dozen crabs, a few racks of ribs, and some sides. The crabs take some time to steam, so we settle in and wait. While waiting, Konrad and I decide we also need pulled port after the woman behind the counter came out and gave us all samples. We ask for hot sauce, and she insists that we have to taste it before she will put it on the pork. Hah! I scoff. I have survived Tincture of Flashbang. No so-called “hot” sauce can bother me. But to humor her I taste it. HOLY SHEEP DIP! It’s not flashbang, but it’s too hot for general consumption. Mild sauce, please!

Schedule completely thrown to the wolves, our next problem is where to put all the food. Nobody expected to need to take on extra items, so everyone was pretty much void of extra luggage space. MJ was able to consolidate and clear one saddlebag, and I was able to squish my sleeping bag. Others did likewise and we fit the food.

Under ideal conditions we would have gone overland and found our way to Route 13 so as to save time and avoid the building Route 95 pre-rush hour traffic. But after getting directions from BBQ lady and the Blues Man, I decide discretion is the better part of valor and put the maggots back onto 95. The alternative route from the BBQ folks was too full of “turn Left at the building where the old Dairy Queen used to be.”

Did I mention the weather? Other than slight drizzle at Molly Pitcher we had no rain. Weather radar showed our gap between showers continued.

Bota with Slingshot

And so we made it to Bing’s by around 6 PM. About 3 hours later than planned. Bikes were parked. Rooms and couches were claimed (it was a BIG crowd, even for Bing’s house). Ccarl arrives. Bottles are cracked open. A crab & BBQ feast is laid out. Bing and Brenda’s new French Boxer dog (Olive) is adored and petted. You know, the usual.

LLS Bikes

The Weather Gods had smiled upon us. Probably because Mr. Furious made multiple sacrifices to the Gear Gods.

Bing was the voice of reason and forced us to bed by 12:30 AM. Unlike the normal maggot trip, we had a hard schedule to keep to on Saturday. We had to be at the LLS Charity ride by 8:30 AM, or else. So we had to be awake by 7. So beddy-bye for all.

…Only to be awaken at 7 AM by Bing blaring the full-house audio system. Yesyesyesyes Dad. I’m awake. I have a “level 3” hangover (moderate headache, mouth like a toxic waste landfill, but no nausea) which is taken care of with some Advil. We saddle up, get breakfast at the former Holly’s (now a boring Royal Farms gas station/convenience store with the worlds slowest service). Then we head to the Poker Run meetup site.

This is where we see the magic of Scrounger’s borrowed Polasis Slingshot in action. It draws an instant crowd wherever it parks. Custom Chopper? Nobody interested. Boss Hoss? (the former king of drawing a crowd) ignored. Wherever it goes, people ask to take PICTURES of it.

The Poker run? It’s a poker run on the Eastern Shore of MD. Which is to say the roads are straight but scenic. The weather is perfect in the morning. Cool, dry, partly cloudy. As part of a Poker Run we move at a… measured pace. Some maggots might complain that it was too sedate. I say that a motorcyclist should be able to enjoy the ride without an adrenaline hit sometimes.

There is a beer stop on the Chesapeake Bay at Noon. For the last 30 minutes leading up to that we are apparently riding in the middle of some major Triathlon. There are runners, bikers, and probably swimmers everywhere. Police directing things too. The Poker Run gets separated into two groups and mine ends up at the wrong bar. So we go off-road to cut across fields, through people’s back yards, and over tiny foot bridges to get to the right place.

It’s a good stop, right on the bay. I’d go here to hang out on a Saturday in the summer. Watched Cigarette boats pull in and fuel up. Pitchers of Fat Tire are shared. I have that and some kind of Shandy because I don’t want to get wrekt.

Then it is off to lunch which is at a marina on the C&D Canal. That was nice. But I’m getting tired of typing and making up shit.

The final stop on the Poker Run is The Jetty near Bing’s house. Another nice dock bar on the bay. By now there is live music and a big crowd. We have some traditional MD bay drinks (Orange and Lemon Crushes). Listen to music, and find out that Mr. Furious won the Poker Run raffle!  A lesser man would say that this was righteous payback for all his gear troubles the day before. But Mr. Furious is by no means a normal man. Instead, he donates his winnings back to the LLS charity and adds ANOTHER few hundred dollars of his own. The rest of the maggots bask in the reflected glow of his magnanimity!

But the weather has changed. Normal people would say “for the better,” but 90 degrees and bright sunshine can be bad for people in ATGATT motorcycle gear. It’s getting uncomfortably hot and so the maggots want to head back to Bing’s to switch into shorts and drink.

Annie had different ideas. She wanted to go to the supermarket to get food to make for dinner (Annie demands the formalities be observed regarding the entertainment of a party of 12 bikers) and the liquor store for Bloody Mary and Sangria fixins. Since I know where the supermarket and liquor store are, I am drafted to lead. Also because Bota is… in a state. A state of dubious fitness to ride. Konrad and Furious come along because… reasons.

It quickly becomes clear that the reasons for Konrad and Furious coming along are insufficient. So they leave after a few minutes hanging out in the supermarket parking lot. Meanwhile Annie is stocking up and Bota is shopping like a 3 year old. He is grabbing random stuff and throwing it in the cart, which Annie has to put back. When they come out, Annie sees me all alone and has a minor freakout. Because she has a full banquet of food and was counting on 4 bikes for transport. My bike has full saddlebags BUT I had half of them filled up with gear from other Poker Run riders (rain gear, cameras, etc). We were so short of storage that Annie had to carry some bags in her arms on the ride back.

The rest of the evening is another great party night at Club Bing. The only abnormal event worth noting was the giant hissy fit that I threw. The less said about this, the better. Suffice to know that it involved me screaming “FUCK YOU” over and over, and stomping my way out on the porch to be alone and stew. But by the end of the night I had calmed down.

MJ and I win the “stayed up latest” award. For me, that award was also the “sleep on the small couch” award. Bing’s house was FULL. Bota and Annie in the bedroom with the full size bed. Scrounger and son Ben in the twin bed room, and MJ in the other bedroom. Konrad and Marcus on the full couches in the basement. Furious in the full couch in the office. Bota fell asleep early and claimed the big couch in the rec room (That’s MY coudh!). So I got one of the 4 foot couches. So did Thynk3r so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I had nightmares because I looked at the weather report. 100% chance of rain on Sunday. Crap.

In the morning we got up and I checked the weather report. Still crap. Check radar… Hmmmm… There is another one of those gap-in-the-showers things. So we plan our travel around it. And I’ll be damned… it works again!  Marcus left early, but Bota, Scrounger, MJ, Thynk3r, Konrad, Furious and me all head out at the same time. Maggots peel off as necessary to get to their own homes. But other than a slight mist on the Delaware Memorial Bridge, it is dry all the way to the last split off. I head on 287 while the NY/CT riders stay on the NJTP.

For my final leg, around Piscataway NJ (30 minutes from home) it turns foggy and cold. It had been hot and muggy at the last gas stop, but now it was zip-the-vents-closed chilly. And foggy, which sucks for keeping the vizor clear. Ten miles later it is pissing drizzle in the cold fog, which is a visibility nightmare on a motorcycle. It does that all the rest of the way home for me. A whole 20 more minutes 🙂

The Weather Gods needed to show me that although they can be merciful, they are not to be trifled with. They smiled benevolently on us for this trip, which could have been a living hell on Friday and Sunday. But although we did not have perfect weather on those days, it was still not bad. Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you get what you need.

SCIENCE’s Buell reviewed by Regular Car Reviews

in mid-summer, I offered up both of my bikes for the Regular Car Reviews YouTube channel.  Mr. Regular, who is based in the Kutztown PA area, was glad to have my 996 to review. But…

He thought it was a Porsche 996, not a Ducati 996. I get that all the time!

once I corrected the confusion, he opted to do the Buell, since he had just reviewed a Ducati 900ss (a bike I once owned).

so here it is:

If you watch Regular Car Reviews, you know he can be pretty brutal. IMO he was fairly complimentary to the Ulysses. I pretty much agree with the majority of what he says.

Note that he threw me a HUGE favor on the tires. I had not bothered to look at the tires since Catskillcade 2015 (write up still pending). My rear tire was bald to the cords, victim of harsh Catskills roads and owner neglect.  Mr. Regular lied for me, saying something about commuting every day, which is the kind of thing that will mollify rabid internet bike complainers.  Thank you!

 

Cars & Croissants Cedar Knolls NJ November 7, 2015

Non-ride Report: Cars & Croissants Nov. 7, 2015

Shop Rite parking lot, Cedar Knolls, NJ

As usual, there was an amazing variety of vehicles at the Cars & Croissants meetup. These pictures are only the ones that I deemed “interesting.” There were tons of pedestrian Porsches, BMWs, etc.

Countach

Lamborgini Countach

 

Pantera 1

DeTomaso Pantera. This was my dream car when I was in high school. Mid-engine American V8 meant to show those EuroTrash how an exotic car could be built.

 

Pantera 2

The Pantera’s wing is a beuty of 1970’s excess!

 

American 1

The Morris County C&C has everything, not just european exotics. Here is something ‘Murrican. There were a lot of Corvettes, Mustangs, SRTs. Oddly not a single Camaro!

 

Steamer

Not only “modern” cars either; this Stanley Steamer was driven in from 20 miles away under it’s own power. It burns Jet fuel! (closest thing to the whale oil it was originally designed to use, apparently)

 

Panoz 2

This is a Panoz… Roadster? Not an Esperante. They use a Ford V8. There was a Saab dealer about 10 minutes from here that actually sold these things new a few years ago.

 

Panoz 1

IMO the Panoz is so ugly it’s cool.

 

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Obligatory Cobra. This one is a Superformance.

 

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SBV8

 

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What is this? It looks a bit too long to be an…

 

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An MG? I guess. Is it stretched?

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Holy crap! Yes, it’s stretched. To fit a Jaguar 4.2L V12! No wonder it sounded like Satan’s Chariot!

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This MG is an unbelievably beautiful FrankenCar. THIS is why I come to C&C!

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Ferrari…

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Ferrari…

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Ferrari… (yawn) there were a few others… not worth posting photos.

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(snore) another Ferrari WAIT WHAT?!?!?

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This is apparently real. Not a replicar. That is an honest-to-god ~$3 Million original Ferarri… ummm… Daytona or something? Sitting in a Shop Rite parking lot along with other more pedestrian cars.

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Obligatory Ferrari motor shot.

Below: a bevy or britcars. By no means a comprehensive photo list. There were several Austin-Healys.

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HOLY UNICORNS! An Ariel Atom?

Noooo. It’s actually a Superlight sometin’ sometin’. Made in the USA and shockingly street legal in NJ.

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Engine bay shots. Forgot to ask what was inside.

More British Iron:

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That’s a TV-fookin’-R

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TVR Engine bay.

No Britcar section would be complete without a batch of Lotii (Lotuses?):

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Early Esprit

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Later Esprit Turbo

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Exige

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Who brought this POS 2007 Elise Type 72D with a Sector111 Katana-2 Supercharger? It looks filthy, like it was autocrossed two weeks ago and not cleaned.

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Aston Martin Vantage

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The Aston has a gorgeous leather interior. I want to roll naked on those seats.

Here are some of the other cars I found interesting. This is by no means comprehensive; the turnout of diverse vehicles was truly amazing!:

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Something American that I didn’t identify, but it had…

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FABULOUS WINGS!

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NSX

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Lancia. There was at least one other Lancia and a few interesting 1980’s Alfa Romeos (one GTV6 that I recognized from previous C&C events, that had been race-prepped)

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Something old I didn’t identify. Scott Colby said it was a Rolls, I think.

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Another Unicorn: Tesla Roadster, pre “Model S” era

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Tesla batteries.

What is more American than a Dodge Viper? I Dodge Viper with a fuckin’ squinting eagle painted on the inside of the hood!

 

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Nicely race-prepped BMW M3

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Fiat X-1/9. I have a soft spot for these. Love mid-engine 4-cylinder rust buckets.

 

That’s it. It’s amazing how many interesting cars live in the Morris County NJ area, and how cool a plain C&C event can be, even on an overcast November day. Sure, when they run it at Paul Miller Porsche they get a bigger turnout, but it’s mostly plain-jane Porsches and Ferraris.

 

 

 

Ride report – Samosir Island, Indonesia

 

 

 

In March of 2013, Stevadoo (who was living in Jakarta, Indonesia at the time) took a trip to Lake Toba.  Moto content:  He rented a scooter there so here is the trip report.

Lake Toba is in Sumatra, it’s the donut-shaped lake just above the words “North Sumatra” in this map.  It’s known for beautiful clear water and great scenery.

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Here’s a close-up of the lake.  We stayed on Samosir Island in the middle of the lake at the area called Ambarita.  The ride took us to the south and then up the mountain in the middle of Samosir.

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Here is an aerial view.  The ride started at the central top of this map and continued south while climbing the ridge.

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Mrs. Stevadoo came and seemed to like the trip.

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A ferry dock.

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The village market.

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In the foreground is our trusty steed, a 125 cc something-or-other.  It was adequate.  But the picture shows a warung or combination market / cafe sitting on the top of the mountain.  Great views!

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The roads were ok but at times you had to watch out for the rutted edges.

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The further up you went, the more the roads were washed out.

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By the way, this was our hotel.

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Here are some traditional houses we saw.

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And the mountain we climbed.

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It was beautiful.  You should go.

Ride Report: Stevadoo’s Saddle Sore 1,000

Here is the story of my Saddle Sore 1,000 ride on September 25/26, 2015.
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I wanted to do the ride 100% inside Texas because I live in Texas, Texas is huge, and there is a lot of the state that I haven’t seen.
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But first, here’s my bike.  It’s a 2005 Yamaha FZ6 that I bought second-hand from someone I work with.  When I purchased it, it was 9 years old and it only had 3,996 miles on it, an average of 444 miles per year.  That’s not nearly enough miles per year!
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It’s not the most exciting bike out there, but I didn’t want to drop a lot of money – I paid $3,200 for it.  And I wanted to try a smaller, nimbler lighter bike vs. the larger, heavier BMW I had before.  For day trips around Houston, it’s just about exactly what I wanted.  A Saddle Sore 1,000 is not what it’s designed for, but it’s what I had so it’s what I rode.
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I learned a lot from my previous Saddle Sore attempt in 2009 when I was living in California.  My plan was to leave the East Bay (Dublin, CA) and take I-5 north to the southern suburbs of Seattle (technically Olympia, WA then turn around and come back about 250 miles to get the 1,000 miles.  One reason I chose this route (vs. a 500 mile out-and-back) was so that I could cross both Oregon and Washington off the list of states that I’ve ridden in.  But I hit massive traffic in Portland, OR and lost probably 2 hours and a ton of energy.  By the time I got to the turnaround point, it was 8 PM, pitch black, and raining hard.  I was tired and worried about dumping the bike, so I got a hotel room and gave up after completing about 800 miles.  The next day I limped home. 
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Had I thought about it, if I had gotten on the road early after my Saddle Sore 1,000 disappointment, I could have salvaged the ride by turning it into a Bun Burner 1,500 (1,500 miles in 36 hours.) But I didn’t think of that at the time so I slept late and got home more than 36 hours after the ride first started.
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So for this SS1,000 attempt, I vowed to stay away from metropolitan areas, especially around rush hour.  I didn’t think this was a big problem because the secondary roads (they are called “FM” and “RM” in Texas which means “farm to market” and “ranch to market”) in Texas are uncrowded and very fast.  Most of them have posted limits of 75 MPH and in reality you can go as fast as you want.  They connect the smaller municipalities which seem to be spaced every 30 to 50 miles, so slowing down to 35 MPH when you pass through the towns is not a big deal.
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The route I chose was US 59 / 77 south past Corpus Christi to Riviera, then west to Laredo.  From there it would be 300+ miles on US 83 north to Ballinger then on some smaller roads in the Hill Country back to Houston.  The distance calculated by Google Maps was 1,028 miles which seemed like an adequate margin to make sure I got 1,000 miles in.  The bike gets 51+ MPG and has a useable tank volume of just over 4 gallons so the range is just over 200 miles but I planned no more than 140 to give me some margin.  When planning the route I scoped out all the gas stations to make sure there was actually a gas station in the town that I needed to get fuel in.  Plus I checked them out on Google StreetView to make sure that they were modern stations that would have self service card access, be open 24/7, and print nice receipts.  Believe it or not there are still plenty of podunk mechanical gas stations in rural Texas.
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The week before the ride I did all the maintenance I thought I’d need:
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     -Clean and lube the chain
     -Replace the headlights
     -Buy spare bulbs for the marker and brake lights
     -Check the tires with extreme prejudice
     -Verify all the fluid levels.
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I figured that losing a headlight is one of the things that could immediately kill the ride, so I bought new PIAA bright white bulbs for the low and high beam (H4 and H7) to carry as spares.  And then I thought ‘why should I carry the new, brighter bulbs when I can just install them?’  So I did, which is a good thing because the PIAA’s were a lot brighter than the 10 year old original bulbs.
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I don’t have any luggage for my bike except for an Ogio tail bag. I know that tank bags are preferred by many (and very practical because they often have a map pocket on top), but quite frankly I don’t like to look at it when I’m riding.  I like to see a nice, clean gas tank in front of me.  So I give up utility to suit my personal aesthetics.
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Here’s a list of everything I carried / wore:
  • The standard Yamaha tool kit, supplemented by a bunch of cable ties, a Leatherman multi-tool, an adjustable wrench, rags, and an LED headlamp with fresh batteries.
  • A spare headlight bulb, spare brake bulb and spare marker / turn signal bulb.
  • A clean shirt, socks, and u-trou in case I needed to spend the night somewhere.
  • A bandana.
  • My iPhone, iPhone cord, and a Battery Tender USB power supply that hooked into the bike’s SAE charging port.
  • Paper copies of my directions, a list of gas stations, Iron Butt Association witness forms, insurance card, registration, pens and note paper (sealed in plastic bags)
  • Four half-liter bottles of water, four bags of trail mix, and a bag of Jolly Ranchers.
  • A spare key for the motorcycle.
  • A 1.5 liter hydration backpack which I wore the whole time.
  • Advil and Tylenol.
  • Two throttle control devices (an Omni-Cruise and a Throttle Rocker)
  • Ear plugs.
  • My trusty BMW Gore-Tex motorcycling boots (11 years old now but still going strong)
  • My Joe Rocket Phoenix mesh jacket and rain liner.
  • First Gear leather gloves.
  • Shoei GT Air helmet.
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I set out everything I was going to wear (helmet, jacket, etc.) in the spare bedroom the day before.  The night before I took an Ambien to make sure I would sleep.  I tend toward anxiety so without it I probably would have been tossing and turning and not getting a good rest.  The Wednesday before the ride, I started getting up earlier so that it would not be as much of a shock to my system to get up at 4:55 the day of the ride.  I set two alarms and entered a chemically-assisted blissful sleep.
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I got up on time, made my grumbling wife sign the witness form, and hit the road at 5:15 which was 15 minutes before the planned time.  First stop was 2.3 miles away to top off the gas tank and get a dated starting receipt.  Then I jumped on I-610 which took me to US 59 heading southwest.  Getting out of Houston was no problem at this hour and the roads were very familiar.  The weather was perfect, about 72 degrees and dry.  Of course it was pitch black but that wasn’t a problem since the roads for the first 90 minutes were Interstate or Interstate quality.  Not much to see in the dark, though.  But there were a hell of a lot of bugs out.  At one point, just south of Ganado, US 59 crosses Lake Texana on a 1- or 2-mile long causeway.  I must have picked up 10,000 mosquitos on my face shield on that bridge.
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leg1
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The first gas stop was 112 miles later in Inez, which was chosen because it was the halfway point between Houston and my first turn at Riviera.  The bike might have been able to make it that full distance but a Saddle Sore is about reducing risks, right?  No problems there and I cleaned off the bugs which made a mighty bad smell.  The planned time for this stop was 7:13 but I got there 12 minutes early.  The rest of the way to Riviera via US 59 and 77 was uneventful, and I’ve made that drive several times before.  That leg was 139 miles.
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One of the things I’ve started doing when I ride is take pictures of water towers in small Texas towns.  It’s interesting to me because much of Texas is so flat you can see the water tower from miles away and it’s by far the largest structure in town, except for maybe a grain elevator.  So when I see a good water tower, I stop and snap.  Here is Refugio and Driscoll.
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At Riviera (8 minutes early now) I gassed up and turned west for points unknown, at least to me.  But immediately there was a problem – Texas 285 had construction and the road was down to a total of 1 lane for both directions.  So I had to wait 10 minutes for the incoming traffic to stop and the pilot car to guide us past the paving zone.  After that it was smooth sailing, it’s very flat in coastal Texas so the roads are straight and you can go pretty much as fast as you want.  Since the traffic was light, it was very easy to pass any slower-moving traffic.  I went the speed limit because it was 75 and any faster than that wears me out quickly on this bike.  It was only 109 miles from Riviera to the next turn point in Laredo so I didn’t need to gas up on the way.
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The Fightin’ Jerseys!  These apparently are my people since I am from New Jersey.  They would definitely not be referring to Jersey cows because fighting cows would be very strange.
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Ah, Laredo.  Laredo is a bit of a shit hole.  Starting about 10 miles out of town, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of junk yards lined up one after the other.  I can’t fathom why one city of only 250,000 should have so many junk yards.
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I planned to ride into the center of Laredo so that I could see it – after all it’s not likely I will go to Laredo again.  But this was the first planning mistake I made.  Even though it was only maybe 3 miles where the speed limit was less than 50, it was stoplight after stoplight.  My guess is that I lost 20 minutes by doing this vs. taking the bypass.  Also, Laredo is sketchy as hell.  It seems to embody all the negative connotations of being a border down.  I got my fill up and got out of there.  I was now 20 minutes behind schedule.  It was warming up but not so bad, maybe 85.  I was drinking water from my hydration pack all the time, especially about half an hour before the gas stops, so that I would stay hydrated but not have to stop and piss all the time.
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I left Laredo on I-35 for about 10 miles, then split off onto US 83.  I considered this to be the “meat” of the ride because I was going to be on 83 for 324 miles (nearly a third of the trip) and I had never been in this part of Texas.  As soon as I got on 83 I could see the signs of the Customs and Border Patrol everywhere.  There were hundreds of pickup trucks and SUV’s patrolling the side of the road.  On the left (Messican) side they had cut a dirt road parallel to 83 and you could see that they were occasionally dragging what looked like a section of chain link fence along the ground.  I think this is so that they can tell when and where someone has crossed the dirt road on foot.  I knew that there was going to be a border checkpoint on 83 and was a little worried because the Yelp review of it said that there were often delays.  But there wasn’t much traffic yesterday.  I rolled in, got sniffed by a German Shepherd, and a CBP agent asked me if I was a US citizen so I was on my way.  As my wife said “well, you look like Whitey McWhiterson so they’re not going to hassle you, are they?”  True, I guess.
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The first part of 83 was a combination of ranches and oil.  I had thought that it would be more desert-y here but it was fairly green, even given the recent droughts.  So there were lots of ranch entrances although I hardly saw any cows.  It was noon by now, so maybe they were taking shelter from the sun.  There was also a lot of oil and gas activity, this is the heart of the Eagle Ford shale play, which is partly responsible for your lower gas prices now.  So from the oil industry: you’re welcome.  All that drilling and fracing took a ton of labor and machinery and it was all over the place on 83 – oil service company warehouses, machine shops, etc.  Interestingly they must have had big trouble finding housing for all these people because there were new trailer parks all over the place  However since the price of oil collapsed a year ago most all of this activity has stopped and the people are SOL.
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I stopped for lunch, a 6″ Subway sub, in Asherton. It was full-on hot as fuck now.  The weather forecast said it wasn’t going to hit 90 today but my bike said it was 96.  So I drank and drank and when I stopped I poured water all over myself.  I felt I was keeping up with it, but just barely.  The first gas stop after Laredo was in Uvalde, 136 miles away.
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By this point I was getting tired of seeing flat countryside, ranches and oil.  A few minutes outside Uvalde (now 58 minutes behind schedule) I got briefly drenched by rain.  It was a short storm and I was initially annoyed by this but I realized that the temperature had dropped to the 60’s so it was actually exactly what I needed.  But it was very intense; I was wearing a Joe Rocket mesh jacket and the raindrops hitting me at 60 MPH stung pretty hard.  Also, north of Uvalde the scenery changes.  Instead of being flat as a pancake it gets hilly.  This was the best part of the ride so far.  Sunny, cool (I think that the road climbed up 1,000 feet or so) and no traffic.  US 83 from Uvalde to Junction would make anyone’s list of great motorcycle roads.  That leg was 101 miles between fill-ups.
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It’s the Leakey water tower.  Maybe they should fix it, ha!
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Just before Junction, TX US 83 joins Interstate 10 for about 10 miles, and while the twisties are nice you realize how easy and fast it is to be on an Interstate highway.  In this neck of the woods the speed limit is 80!  I gassed up again in Junction, where I was now 1:03 behind schedule.  This didn’t worry me too much because the schedule was just a guideline and I knew I didn’t put much time in it for stops.  But this was the heat of the day, so I figured it was ok to stop for 15 minutes instead of 5.  I still felt good.
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Water tower in Menard, TX.
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The next 90 miles to Ballinger were nice but not as nice as the previous section.  Ballinger was one of the ‘corners’ of my ride so I made sure to get a good gas receipt there.  Now it was 5:45 PM and I was 1:12 behind schedule.  I was starting to get tired (muscularly, not sleepily) so I started the Advil / Tylenol regimen prescribed by Dr. Science.  It immediately helped and I probably should have done it earlier and not waited until mile 686.  But hey, I was at mile 686!  That’s 2/3 of the way done!
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From here onwards it was just a trip home.  That positive news was tempered by the realization that 314 miles is still a pretty respectable day of motorcycling, and hmmm 314 divided by 60 MPH is…nearly 6 hours.  Shit that’s a lot of riding left.  Also the ease of navigating the previous section (just stay on 83) would give way to lots of turns, maybe one every 50 miles.  Also since I would be getting closer to San Antonio, Austin, and Houston the towns would be getting bigger and instead of 5 minutes at 45 MPH it would be 15 minutes of stop and go traffic.  This was my second planning error.
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The next leg (from Ballinger) was 145 miles to Gatesville (the longest leg between fill-ups on the whole trip), and now things started sucking.  I was getting dark and I was in the Texas Hill Country, known to support a very prolific deer population.  That was my only real worry on the whole trip, and I was starting to play out the scenario in my head – if I see a deer that I can’t avoid, should I duck and cover, try to swerve, plow into him and hope that the snout of my Yamaha will bifurcate him?  This is not a good mental state to be in.  That leg was 134 miles and it took me almost 3 hours.  I missed a turn in Brownwood / Early and had to backtrack.  This was probably also a sign that I was losing my focus.  I hadn’t had dinner yet under the assumption that all that digestin’ would steal blood from my brain.  But I had some trail mix and I think that’s exactly what I needed.  It sharpened me up almost immediately.
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It got pitch black at about 8 PM, but there was a good moon that provided some ambient lighting.  Now the speed limit out there was typically 75 but the road was one lane each way without much of a shoulder so I was afraid for the deer.  Looking back I can say that I never saw any dead deer on the side of the road, so that means that the deer are too smart, too sparse, too well hunted – all good things.  Or they get picked up as roadkill before they get cold…
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From this point on, riding became a chore.  I got gas in Gateville at 8:41 PM, now just under 2 hours behind schedule.  I got seriously lost in Temple, TX and got stuck behind a freight train for 10 minutes.  This was the emotional low point for me and I was seriously thinking of getting a hotel room and calling it a day.  That was tempting in Temple because it’s a big city which actually HAS hotel rooms.  Many of the places out there don’t!  But I snacked some more and pushed on.  I mentally chopped the ride into 25 mile segments – “all I need to do is get to Cameron.  Once I’m in Cameron I’ll decide if I want to go further.”  That kind of reasoning helped me overcome the sisyphean task of riding for 4-5 hours in the pitch dark.  Finding US 190 outside Temple was a big mental boost, because I knew 190 would take me to 290 and that was terrain that I knew.  I can’t say anything about the countryside because it was dark.  Gatesville to Brenham was 129 miles.
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I finally arrived at my last gas stop (other than the finish) in Brenham at 11:34 PM, 3 hours behind schedule.  But I knew it was only 80 miles to home, on an Interstate-quality road.  My mental state was improving with every mile.  By now there was nobody on the road which was really nice.  The last segment was on US 290 which is being rebuilt in Houston, and I hoped that the road wasn’t going to be closed, because it occasionally has been on nights and weekends.  Well the road was open but the ramp I wanted to take (for I-610 north) was closed so they dumped everyone on I-610 south.  Not a big deal now, but at the time I considered it a tremendous insult by TXDOT.  So I went to the next exit, banged a u-turn, and made for the Texaco station near my house for my final gas receipt.  But that Texaco was closed.  DAMN YOU TEXACO!!!!  I violated protocol and got gas at a Valero because it was the only station directly between where I was and my house.  The final leg was 69 miles.
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After gassing up at the Valero at I-10 and Shepherd, I arrived home at 12:57 AM.  I had been on the road for almost 20 hours.  I made my grumbling wife sign the witness form and I was done.  The trip odometer said 1,058.1 miles.
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I should mention that the bike was completely flawless.  It never gave a hint of trouble.  The Yamaha engineers should be proud.
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I’m writing this on Saturday morning and I feel pretty good but certain bits are sore (hands, ass, back).  I should have taken three Advils just before I went to sleep because I was so achey that I didn’t get a decent sleep even though I was exhausted.
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A big shout-out to MJ for telling me to get a throttle lock.  I never had one before and if I didn’t have it on this trip I would have been completely miserable.  I’ll submit the paperwork to the IBA this week.
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Appendix 1:  Directions
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Appendix 2:  Gas stations (I did get gas in the cities listed although not necessarily the actual station shown here)

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Appendix 3:  Totals

  • Total mileage per odometer:  1,059.1
  • Total mileage per Google Maps:  1,033.4
  • Average speed:  52.3 MPH
  • Gasoline used:  22.510 gallons
  • Average mileage:  45.9 MPG

My Hour-and-a-Half Tesla P85D Test Drive

On Friday I had a business meeting in Princeton, NJ, about 90 minutes from my house. My co-worker Brian had just bought a Tesla P85D – that’s the Performance model with dual motors and over 650 HP (going to 760 HP when the “Ludicrous Speed” firmware update goes in any day now!). On the way home, Brian let me… no insisted that I drive the car all the way back. Brian is a really trusting guy 🙂

 

 

That’s me, driving the P85D for the first time. The video does NOT do justice to the experience. I have driven or been driven in some very Hi-Po cars. 850-HP Mustang GT500, 750 HP Viper, and some heavily worked Grand Nationals/GNX, all driven very hard by crazy owners (or myself). I have taken a 150 HP motorcycle on the drag strip and wheeled the first 60 feet. NONE of that compares to the feeling of the Tesla. The key thing is that the Tesla produces peak torque from a dead stop, 0 rpm. So the first half second of the launch is like nothing a gasoline-powered vehicle could ever do (except maybe a purpose-built top fuel dragster).

Watch the video: when I punch it, you see the camera jerk. That is impossible to prevent. If your head is not held against the headrest, it will smack into it. You get the same sensation in your inner ear and in your gut as you get on a modern high-end looping roller coaster. I am not kidding when I say that there is a moment of dizziness as the car takes off.

I tried some fast turns, just to see how it feels. The specs on the car put it at way over 2 tons. It certainly does not feel like a sports car. It feels very… Solid. Like a really big Benz. Part of it is that the weight is carried very low. All the batteries are under the floor. So when cornering hard in a fast sweeping turn, there is zero roll and absolutely zero looseness. The car is very tight and the steering has no lash in it so it feels like a high-end GT sedan should.

The car itself is beautiful, in metal-flake blue with tasteful carbon fiber accents:

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And yes, here is proof that it’s a real P85D:

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It has a roomy trunk!

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The interior is absolutely worthy of the rather steep price. Reminds me of a high-end German car. Apparently it’s totally customizable, and the buyer gets to pick what kind of leather, headliner, dash accents, etc. It has by far the largest touch screen I have ever seen in a car for the dashboard management system:

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That is at LEAST a 22″ screen, and it controls everything. There are only maybe 4 physical buttons in the dash. The rest is software controlled.

And you can do amazing things. Like, you can control the suspension height and the car will remember the setting for that exact GPS location. So if you have a speed bump in your neighborhood that you need to manage, you do it once and the car will lift it’s skirt over that bump every time in the future.

You can also make changes to things like the degree of simulated engine braking. You may note in the video that I comment on this; Brian had the car set to very heavy “engine braking”, so you drove it like… an electric car (duh!). Lift the throttle past a certain point and it would go into regenerative braking so that for 90% of the drive I never had to touch the brake. And I was reassured that when it brakes harder than a certain degree, it also lights the brake lights so as not to confuse the cars behind you. It was a little unusual at first, but I got used to it quickly and I could see that you might want to set it that way.

If this is the future of electric vehicles, Bring it on! This ain’t your father’s crunchy-granola Birkenstock-wearing hair shirt suffering Electric Vehicle. The Tesla is totally amazing, and I think this was Elon Musk’s plan; build a car that people actually desire. Make it so cool that people see an EV as a thing to aspire to, not something you do because it’s good for you.

The Tesla P85D is like eating your steak, not eating your vegetables. And that is a very good thing.