Archive for Bike Related

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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

 

BOTACade 2014 – Thynk1ng clearly

Its always better after the drugs kick in.  A few bats, a lizard man, each punctuate the surreality of modern life, an inflatable suit to soften the centurion’s spear.  Maggot trip.  Meeting BOTA, but no drugs this time.  I was going to have to slay this dragon, meet this challenge without chemical support.  Soon, I’d be a suit again, trading the currency of my life for plastic trinkets on the Isle o’Manhattan.

Working furiously for the previous two days to finalize my chariot, I’d finally used olive oil to lubricate my over-sized digits penetration between the forelegs of my steed, installing a new H7 night vision subsystem.  No more blinding those who had the misfortune to meet me upon the highway.

Sallying forth that day felt like the 1915 Dawn Patrol, what adventure!  I-95, well known territory, little did I know that I would immediately be challenged.  A late model Altima, a cell phone, and a moron all converge in time and space, trying to bring my day to an abrupt end.  Unsurprisingly, my cat-like reflexes. 40 years on a motorcycle, and an over strong latte served me well.  Avoiding death like a piece of well-chewed lobster roll on a gravel driveway, I persevered, arriving at 32 Carman apace.  Surprisingly, the Prince of Pause,  seemingly having turned over a new leaf, was sans Annie and ready to rock.

Immediately, we sallied forth.  The throbbing bassline of Congo Man punctuated my highway ride, conjuring visions of sunshine and new beginnings in my overactive hippocampus.  Unfortunately, my new reality included all manner of overcrowded roadway.  Finally entering New Jersey, my GPS squawking incessantly as it tried to guide me, it finally threw up its hands, screamed ‘I don’t know,’ and sent me spinning down Route 4 while BOTA helplessly continued down the obvious path.  ‘In 8 miles, continue straight’ it said.  BOTA was going to have to find his own way I figured, and continued, cracking the throttle because THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS GOING TO GET THERE LATER THAN HIM.  This little bit of confusion actually was one of the luckiest parts of the ride, no only did I immediately shed the traffic of the Jersey Pike for a more bucolic thoroughfare, but I actually made Chatterbox before anyone but Mr Furious!

Our destination – always a trip – played true to form.  An initial circuit, displayed a fine selection of decrepit ‘faces of meth’ rejects, guinea tees, and bodybuilders, all strutting with their particular pose near the rides which defined them. Sliding into my personal space, next to a tricked out Ol ’55, with skulls, ‘Perfect’, I thought.  I dismounted and sought a private place to drain a vein.  Emerging, relieved, I spied BOTA dismounting and chuckled softly to myself.  ‘Its gonna be a good day.’  It seems BOTA’s cigar scent overtook Pagan on the road, and these fraternal brothers rolled into the venue as one. Soon, Conrad Urban, with Mr Furious arriving in his Vette, now with gas and our lunch group was complete.  Oh, except for MJ.

Eating at the Chatterbox is like a dystopian nightmare, fueled by the ketamine dreams of Bloomberg’s City Minister of Soda Sizes.  Health food it ain’t.  It does however, provide ample media for artwork.

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‘Where’s MJ?’  ‘Fuck it, lets order.’  ‘She’s a big girl.’  Such was the tenor of the conversation, showcasing the extreme ‘we will leave no maggot behind’ ethos that permeates the maggot mindset.  Shoving lobster rolls and pierogies down our respective pie-holes, we finished, burping and wishing we could fart less circumspectly.  Finally MJ arrives and we kindly suggest she meet some local outside and finish her lunch while we suit up.  Again, its just the care we all take with each other.  MJ don’s Pagan’s mantle, finds the most toothless possible compatriot to bend her ear and wolfs down her medium rare burger standing in the parking lot.  Fine dining at its most elegant!

We are off!  We wend our way through a beautiful scenic, although extremely circuitous hour long ride, the 20 minutes ride to the palatial BOTA estate.

Surprisingly (not!) we arrive and Scrounger and Annie (the two bitches) have prepared a most excellent appertivo, as the hours ride has allowed us to digest our Chatterbox repast, and craving alcohol we proceed to eat for another two hours.  I had selected James Pepper 15 yo 100 proof bourbon as my light accompaniment to the Plan B Cookies.  It was a welcome and effective stress-reliever.

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Feeling peek-ed, we collectively realized that the what we really needed was some divey-bar action.  Driven by passion, I mounted my bike, while all the ladies piled into Annie’s designated driver-mobile. Unable to negotiate the 25 steps to the cars, and seeing that he drove a similar marque, Mr Furious invited Scrounger to pilot his jalopy.

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Maggots Ho!

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Leaving the bar, and feeling as though there had been of dearth of ingestion, and not wishing to feel weak, we decided to head home to continue the fasting, where we could at least allow Mr Furious to uncurl from the fetal position, and hose the vomit off his chin.  Reminded by his spittle flecked cheeks, punctuated by tiny, tiny bits of carrot and lobster, our appetites returned – luckily as the bitches had prepared a worthy feast – which lay spread before us like the dark expanse of Kansas as you leave Missouri.

More alcohol.

Its all dark, as I lay, heart pounding, headache, a twisted feeling in the pit of my distended stomach.  Fitfully, I turn.  A light.  Turn it off you idiot!  What the fuck!  Its like a glowing section of rebar, heated then shoved into my eye.  Its Pagan.  I knew it!  The closeted motherfucker finally showing his true colors, while I lay helpless.  Thankfully, the darkness envelops me, and I am back in the womb, oblivious to any violation, real or imaged.

6am Sunday.  Time for the news.  Uh-oh, unfamiliar cable setup, and my hungover state allows no inspection nor reasoned analysis…fuck it.  Netflix.  Comedy.  Certainly, one of the bitches will appear and make coffee, I’m still hoping to be rich one day too.

2014-05-18 12.21.38

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Maggots awake, its clear that my dreamed and expected Sunday AM ride will go unrequited.  Barely conscious after our recent fast, we can only think of breakfast.  Time to turn the bike around, move the cars and let the home-bound maggots, eg those with ‘responsibilities,’ make a vain attempt to meet them.  Elegantly, with the wisdom borne of years of riding, I seamlessly navigate my steed as required.

The remaining Maggots, achieve our morning meal, return AB to her support vehicle, and BOTA, Conrad U, and I set out on our our homeward ride.  Another adventure under our belt, our shared experience having strengthened our brotherly commitment.

Banjo Run 2013

DSCN1705 DSCN1706 DSCN1698 DSCN1716 DSCN1693 DSCN1714

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whats more to be said?

 

thynk3r

2013

 

 

 

Kiss in the Catskills

20131005_183317 Colors was a fun time, rode the new GT and the GTL, George, Conrad Urban and Wetsuit served up kick ass rides, MJ poked her head above ground, and swilling cold Octoberfest beer we watched the usual antics from Teach McNeil.

I missed the part where she told him to kiss her ass…

 

thynk3r

Oct 2013

 

Dragon

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dragon_20130722_bI did cough up a few bucks via my unemployment check to buy some of the (ahem – Cheesy – I guess) pictures from killboy etc.

BOTA

Held airflow gloves: Sometimes, an Held ain’t a Held

I have been a long-time wearer of Held gloves. I got my first pai of Held “Steve” gloves back in the day when you could only get them from Helimot in San Jose, and it wasn’t even called the “Steve” because Held only made one model of glove.

Now Held makes a dozen models for a hanful of different usages (pun intended). About two years ago I picked up a pair of their “Airflow” model. Actually, I can’t even recall what the model name was, and Held has since discontinued the model in favor of the Agadir and Namib models. In case anyone can identify them, here is what they look like:

P1020339

These gloves are only two years old. My Steve’s are about 18 years old. I had come to expect that Held gloves are built to heirloom quality. They are certainly PRICED to heirloom quality! However, these gloves seemed like a huge bargain… they were only $99!  Compare to $199 for my other favorite Held gloves, the Warm ‘n Dry. The selling point of these Airflow gloves was Summer use. They are highly perforated and vented. For $99 they seemed like an excellent addition to my riding gear.

After two weeks, I found out why they were so much cheaper:

P1020340 copy

Almost immediately, both gloves developed a small tear on the wrist leather near the base of the thumb. Virtually the same spot on both hands, at the seam between the solid leather and peforated leather. Oddly, the tear is on the solid leather, not the perforated.

Also, you may notice from the picture that the solid black leather has faded a great deal. It is not gray-green.

On the one hand, this is extremely rapid deterioration for a Held glove. On the other hand, it’s pretty much what I would expect for a low-end summer glove (there I go with the puns). If these were $40 gloves, I wouldn’t be surprised.

What I think I have here is a pair of $40 gloves outsourced by Held and sold trading on their name for twice as much.

So the moral of the story is again “you get what you pay for.” Held discontinued these gloves (yay!) but still has a few $99 price point gloves in their expanded product line. I note that when checking out other Held gloves on motorcycle gear websites, the retailers make a point of saying something like “made in the same German factory as Held’s other gloves”, attached only on their more pricey models. I take this as code words for which models are the true Held quality units.

 

Spark plugs vs. Helmets

There are Maggots who have said “The one who has the most spark plugs wins!”. I presume me means spark plugs that are actually installed in cylinders and firing combustion in a functioning engine.

But I say “The one with the most HELMETS wins”

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Maggot Art

So I am sitting at the bar, trying to cure my already raging hangover and hitting on the bartender’s girlfriend (:-)) A very talented artist. She said she would draw a maggot piece of art. I bought her a pizza in return.

Maggots

Her version done in pen and ink, I added colors when I got home.

Cycle World calls the Maggots “Freaks fo Nature”

I just got this month’s Cycle World (Nov. 2012), and in the “Roundup” section there is an article by Peter Jones entitled: “Can I Test Drive Your Personality.” In it he claims that there is an unbreakable rule among motorcyclists which makes it unthinkable for a motorcyclist to ask another motorcyclist for a test ride of his bike.

If that’s the case, then we Magotts are total freaks of biker nature. We ask to ride each other’s bikes all the time, especially if it is a new bike, or if the owner had done some performance mod, or if it’s a type of bike we don’t normally ride. Every time Scrounger adds a new farkle to his Electra Glide, I like to sample it. I’m still waiting for him to fully sort the Race Tech suspension upgrade so that I can see how it handles. This past May we pretty much all swapped bikes for the last push back from the Delaware Phoenix to the Alpine Club.

Considering how difficult it is to get a test ride from a dealer (virtually impossible!), and the truly lame nature of test rides at current bike ralleys (BMW and H-D being the only exceptions), borrowing a friend’s bike is one of the only ways to try out a different brand or style of bike.

So I say, if we are freaks of nature, then let there be more freaks! It will help the motorcycle industry.

The Turn Hole Tunnel Near Jim Thorpe PA

Rode out to Jim Thorpe Pa on Sunday with a few other dudes to check out this old tunnel. It was really a cool place especially if you dig trains and train history. There are a lot of great twisty roads in the area too. Scrounger has been there before and can attest. Maybe some others have seen it already?

If you are ever in the area and looking for a cool day ride destination, I’d definitely recommend it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turn_Hole_Tunnel