Archive for Bike Related

New Maggot S# takes the MSF course

Preparing for the (hopfully) upcoming ride to the Grand Re-opening of BOTA’s Crossroads Tavern, S# takes the MSF course. With any luck both he and SurrealChemist will be riding with the Maggots in a few weeks.

Very nice bike that the MSF foundation so graciously provides, complete with real word dents and the finest in 1960’s brake technology (drums on both ends!)

The dewey-eyed riders get their instructions from seasoned professionals (note dopey grin on S#’s face! This must be fun!):

Staging for one of the MSF’s complicated drills:

And away we go!

One full lap:

Looking very good! Clearly he has not forgotten the motorcycle skills from his yoof.

 

 

Bike Shopping with the man formerly known as SSNJ

He was SSNJ in my Autocross post, but I am informed that he prefers S#. Scheduled to take the MSF course in September, so it is now open season to shop for bikes.

See if you can name the modles…

Motomaggot larva ride report June 17, 2017

If we are ever to get the larval maggot Josh elevated to full biker status, he is going to have to get more comfortable in the saddle. As his mentor, I have been very busy this Spring and thus delinquent in forcing his training regimen.

Both Josh and I were free this past Saturday morning, so during the week we locked in a plan to do some ride coaching from 9:30 to 11:00. I did not look at the weather report.

On Saturday morning, I got up and prepped the Buell to meet josh. I did look at the weather report, and it showed a slight chance of rain (10%) up until Noon, then a Very Serious Chance of rain after that (like 80%).

So I says to myself “If I get there by 9:30 and we ride for an hour, I’ll be able to make it home before the deluge.”

I did not look at the weather radar.

Got to Josh’s garage early, maybe 9:10. This time, the bike had a fresh battery and his Sena helmet communicator was fully charged. We were set to go with no delays.

But…

There was something funny with the self-storage garage unit where he keeps the bike. The roll-up door seemed stuck, and once it was up it was not stowing properly. It was flopping down inside the garage unit.

Being brilliant engineers, we decided to go inside the garage and pull the door down so we could get a look at the mechanism. We did not bother to remember whether this door had an automatic latch which would lock in place once the door was closed.

So we close the door, using the headlight of the running Moto-Guzzi for illumination. “I see yer problem right here… the coil spring which is used to operate the spool that helps lift and store the roll-up door is broken.”

Okay, let’s open the door and tell the storage company they need to fix it.

Lift… nothing.

Yank… nothing.

Grrrr, *strain* *grunt*… no budge.

Is… this… door… latched now? Neither Josh nor I can recall.

Are we locked in a garage with a running motorcycle breathing carbon monoxide? Ummmm, yes.

Shut the bike. Pitch darkness.

Well, at least we have cellphones and we can use Google to get the phone number of the office for the storage company so they can walk 50 yards to let us out.

But one last try to lift the door, with both of us this time. THIS time it budges. Of course! No recoil spring = no assistance lifting the door, so it only felt like it was latched.

We breathe the outdoor air as Free Men once again.

Now, what to do for a training ride? This storage unit is on the corner of a pretty nasty pair of roads in Metuchen, just across from Cross Country BMW. I suggest we start by going there and doing some parking lot practice. Josh is not so keen on that. Uh-oh. That’s like 100 yards away, with a traffic light. If that is too scary, then where else can we go?

I suggest an alternative: we can make a right turn out of the storage lot, head to Route 287, ride for 5 minutes on the highway and then hit the extremely large parking lot of Telcordia on Centennial Road in Piscataway. I figure this will also be vetoed because it is much farther and involves highway riding.

However, with minimal encouragement, Josh agrees. So I coach him through the turns and de-rusting his clutch skills, and we make it to Telcordia lickity-split.

This turns out to be a brilliant plan. The Telcordia parking lot is MASSIVE and empty, and has a private ring road connecting the front and the back of the building. We practice clutch work first, then move to left and right turns withing the markings of the parking spaces, then circulating the ring road to run up and down the gears, and finally figure 8’s and tighter turns.

we do not look at our watches

We do not look at the sky.

In our defense, Josh was having a huge amount of fun. This was working out well.

Until the first drops of rain hit. Then we decide to head back. Before we even get half way to 287 is is coming down like Bangkok in September (or whenever it rains like a mofo in Southeast Asia). In 30 seconds everything not warded by Gore-Tex is soaked through. For me that means my pants and gloves. For Josh, that means everything except his helmet and boots, but they fill up from water dripping off his pants.

We looked for a parking lot to stop in, found a company lot and then discovered they had absolutely zero awnings or overhangs, so we took partial refuge under a tree.

THEN we checked our watches and the weather radar. The storm had not come early; we had lost track of time while riding, and it was in fact 11:45, right up against the predicted deluge. Weather radar shows no mercy, so we Cowboy Up and ride in blinding rain back to the storage unit. It’s only about 10 minutes, and even the cars on the highway were creeping along at under 40 mph so while I would not do this for fun, it was not life-threatening.

Of course we were super drenched by the time we parked. Weather radar showed that the downpour would be over in maybe an hour, so we decided to go grab lunch. After checking out some places, we settled on a Taiwanese street food place in Edison. This area is very asian, and you can count on Chinese restaurants that cater to real immigrant Chinese people. Places where they don’t even speak much English. In this one, the waitresses were accent free, but the food was absolutely native. Meaning not a single item you’ve ever seen on your local Chinese restaurant menu. Good stuff, but best not to think about the ingredients too much.

By the time we were done, the rain was over. My ride home was saved by the heated grips which kept my hands from seizing up from the wind blast on soaking wet gloves. My torso was fine (thanks, Aerostitch!) but my legs were also coated in sopping-wet denim exposed to 70 mph wind. I’ve had worse rides, and I’ve had better rides.

But the key thing is Josh got in some major practice. If we can do this again (minus soaking) next Saturday, I think he should be able to do it alone without and escort. A little bit more after that and he should be safe to ride in a Maggot palaton.

 

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!

 

Ride Report – Texas SoloCade

Stevadoo got back into the MC world earlier this month by buying a 2005 Yamaha FZ6 from a coworker.  It only had 3,996 miles and cost $3,200.

Stevadoo’s wife was in Maine for her sister’s *surprise* second marriage, so he took the opportunity to go west.  The plan was to head towards Fredericksburg and the Texas hill country.  But first he had to negotiate the Katy Freeway, aka I-10.  Recently expanded, I-10 is big – really freakin’ big.  26 lanes big.  That is not a typo; in each direction there are 4 service lanes, 6 main lanes, and 3 HOV lanes.  Getting to an exit from the HOV lane is an ordeal that looks like this:

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Signal, look, turn.

Turn right onto your cross street.

 

RF_-_Houston_Texas_IH10.1.jpeg

 

Luckily the I-10 was pretty empty at 7 AM on a Saturday, so Stevadoo had the HOV lane to himself (motorcycles count, yay!).  But needless to say, riding on the superslab sucks.  Even if you are going 75 MPH minimum (that’s the speed limit!) dodging the F-350 duelly super cabs is not fun.

The first destination was 135 miles away:  Buc-ee’s in Bastrop, Texas.  Buc-ee’s is a Texas institution and was voted the #3 best awesome roadside eats by Jalopnik.

http://jalopnik.com/5848526/the-ten-most-awesome-roadside-eats/

They, like Texas, are big.  The newest one has 60 (count ’em sixty) gas pumps.  Inside it’s 68,000 square feet.  Note that most large Wal-Marts are less than 99,000 square feet.  It has all your normal c-store goodies and sodas, plus a slew of Texas memorabilia up to and including $1,000 smokers and BBQ grills.

Stevadoo just had a sammich.

 

photo 1

Just past the Bastrop Buc-ee’s the plan was to get off the beaten path.  This side of Austin is not really the Hill Country yet, but even highway 71 is basically an interstate highway.  But at least you get to drive by La Grange.  I do not mean Joseph-Louis Lagrange, the scientist who developed Euler–Lagrange equations for extrema of functionals.  This was the city in Texas where there was a really good brothel, as heralded by the musical “the Best Little Whorehouse” in Texas and ZZ Top’s eponymous song.  The Chicken House, doncha know.

Anyhoo, Stevadoo took route 21 which was a pretty good motorcycle road to the southwest.  There was a little rain, but nothing more than a few big raindrops that soon stopped.  Stevadoo was surprised to see signs for the Circuit of the Americas, where he will be going in October to watch the Formula 1 event.  And hey, they were giving tours!  So he ponied up his $25 for a 1 hour bus tour and got on with the show.

 

 

photo 2

 

The first thing he noticed was that at turn 1, there is a huge elevation gain.  He’s seen both F1 races that happened on this track, and this wasn’t really shown.  But it’s a big hill!

 

 

 

photo 3

Stevadoo’s seats will be in the turn 12 grandstand, just to the right of the tower.  In the foreground is turn 1.

photo 4

View from the tower.  You can see above the red stripe that there used to be some Texas stars painted on the pavement.  Well it turns out that Bernie Ecclestone didn’t like them, so he forced the track to paint them out.  Jackass.

photo 5

 

Next up Stevadoo continued south on 21 to San Marcos.  Fortune smiled on him again has he ran across a Commemorative Air Force (formerly Confederate Air Force, but the Northern Aggressors Yankees PC patrol didn’t like that name and they forced them to change it because hey, didn’t we win that fucking war?) hangar.  They had a bunch of interesting planes, none more so than a flying B-25 Mitchell. You know, the kind that Gen. Dolittle bombed Tokyo with.  There was also a pair of AF trainers that had been painted up to look like Japanese zeros for the film Tora! Tora! Tora!  Some very nice guys there, too.  If he had $425 to blow, he’d go for the B-25 ride on July 4th weekend…but he doesn’t.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

 

Next up was a little stretch on I-25 South to Braunfels.  This is one of the larger towns started by Germans who emigrated to Texas.  As the story goes, they came here and saw tremendous fields of waist-high grass, so they moved with their cattle and pigs.  Turns out that the soil was very fragile, and after only a couple years the animals had trampled it down to the limestone.  Whoopsie.

Route 46 over to Boerne was nice, but route 16 up to Kerrvile was sublime.  This was the real hill country with actual hills.  Worth all the super slab riding.  Route 16 up to Fredericksburg was fast and scenic, but at this point Stevadoo was over 300 miles for the day and he’s fragile, so he was getting pretty tired.  The finest room at an EconoLodge was procured and he slept the sleep of a tired, happy motorcyclist.

Sunday AM he headed out to Johnsonville, the town near President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s ranch.  It was founded by his uncle, Mr. Johnson.  It’s not very big so Stevadoo didn’t get to see a big Johnson, other than the one in his trousers.

But for historical edumacation, Stevadoo stopped in to see the Texas White House and took the tour.

photo 5 photo 4

 

LBJ had a Ford that he used for hunting on his ranch.  Note that there is a wet bar in the back seat.  His favorite drink was Cutty Sark and Fresca.  Really!

photo 3

He also had an Amphicar!  As the story goes, he would drive it into the nearby river and frighten his unsuspecting guests.

photo 2

He spent about 25% of his presidency here.  This was facilitated by the runway on the ranch that could handle a Lockheed JetStar.  Not a bad way to commute.

photo 1

 

After visiting the LBJ Ranch, Stevadoo had to start making for home.  He made some good travel road decisions (route 165 / 2235 from Blanco to Wimberly and route 159 from La Grange to Bellvile), some bad ones (Route 290 / 71 from Dripping Springs to Bastrop) and some terrible ones (route 529 / 290 from Cypress to home – seriously, route 290 is a big fucking road why should  it be ‘closed for the weekend’?!?!)

Home, tired Sunday at 6 PM.  625 miles on the clock.

 

update:  maps

 

Fredericksburg Ride

Fredericksburg Ride 1

Fredericksburg Ride 2