Monday, September 8, 2014

Awards to the road, and the transtion to life off the road

I've been back in Michigan for about 4 weeks, waiting to hear the final verdict concerning my bike.  The verdict is in - Roadside Assistance is cutting me a check, and I get to keep the bike.  Now how I bring that machine home, that is the question.  No matter what, it's going up for sale.  Those that have followed me through this blog should not be making me offers.  Trust me, I'm doing you a favor by not selling it to you.

After living out of a very small backpack for 2+ months, being back home to a full closet of clothes has surprisingly changed my choice in dress very little.  I seem to still be wearing the same 3 pair of shorts and 5 t-shirts I had packed for the road.  Having a TV at my finger tips has also not changed my viewing habits from the road.  Rarely have I turned on my TV.  Returning to all the warm welcomes from friends and co-workers has been cool.  All are happy I made it back in one piece, as am I.  I encountered some very intense situations with weather and the road that had my inner voice screaming at me to pack it up and head home....If I made it through.  I even contemplated bagging the West coast portion of my ride to hang in a safe and warm environment with friends.  I'm supremely lucky a wise gypsy soul came to my aid, which gave me the gift of strength to push on and finish what I started.  This should be a goal of everyone.  Finish what you start.

Being home, hanging with friends and my 2 dogs has been heart warming.  Having the being my partner for this ride was instrumental, and now I look to support them and all their work in other avenues off the bike.  I'll be shaking up my life again here in the near future, but for now I'm happy and still at peace.  

A man far wiser than I said "We can't help everybody, but everybody can help somebody".  Help somebody.  Another man far wiser than me said "Tomorrow is a promise to no one".  Do something to help someone now, as tomorrow may never come.  Finish what you start.

With that I give you my - Awards from the road:

Worst Roads Award - I'm sorry California, you win.  While Michigan roads are terrible, your drivers, patchy construction and grooved pavement take the cake.  While lane splitting is legal in CA, and I did it, I prefer to stay off the white lines and out of traffic.

The Dalmatian Award - Dinosaur Colorado.  This award is being given due to the freshly paved blacktop and all the unidentified white splotches on the road.  Little did I know they were Prairie Dog splotches.  You see, these little creatures are cannibals (or so I was told) and when one unlucky Prairie Dog meets his maker by way of a car tire, the others come out for dinner.  As is the circle of life, those Prairie Dogs also often meet car tires of their very own.

The Best Road to Ride Award - The Blue Ridge Parkway.  I'm almost sorry I had the chance to ride this road.  It shows me what I have been missing all the years I've been riding.  I shall return.

Most Talented Riders Award - The Lonestar BMW Riders club.  These boys and girls were tough cookies to keep up with and I'm thankful their anchorman had a gracious soul.  Thanks for keeping me on the road Chris!

Most Beautiful City Award - Salt Lake City. This was a tough one, as so many cities had so many wonderful attributes.  Super nice people too, even if they were looking to convert me to the LDS lifestyle.

The City Most in Need of Liquor Regulations Award - Kayenta AZ.  I was in this town twice for a total of maybe 15 minute.  Both times I could smell the firewater in the air, and on it's residents breath.

The City Most in Need of Liquor De-regulation Award - Salt Lake City UT.  Any beer poured out of a tap is 3.2 ABV, and you can't buy kegs.  3.2 beer is a good way to get fat minus the buzz.  Personally, I'll stick with Taco Bell for my extra calories.

The Arch Nemesis Award -   My Garmin Nuvi GPS.  This little bugger got me to where I was going, but it calculated an estimated time of arrival.  At first calc, it could be disheartening.  Even more disheartening was how the time increased as I stopped for gas or water.  Somehow a 5 minute water stop added 15 minutes to my arrival time, every time.  I chose to just shut up and ride.

Worst Weather Award -  Texas.  Between Denton and Graham.  This one surprised me as Texas is normally pretty dry in the Summer, it soaked me good and added some nice hail to spice it up.  Even padded up it felt like I was getting hit with 12 gauge buckshot.

The Paintball Award - Texas.  A double winner as a state.  After getting drenched from Denton to Graham, I had the pleasure of riding through a huge swarm of grasshoppers (maybe locust?) somewhere outside of Haskell TX.  My machine, windscreen and helmet became so covered in grasshopper parts, I couldn't see without pulling over to scrap them off.   This prompted a stop in the next 'real town' for a bike and gear wash.  It required $6 in quarters to clear a majority of the guts from the bike and I.

Worst Road Food Award - Tie (Gas station food/Hooters)   If you're eating food prepared at a gas station or Hooters, you better be packing toilet paper and be ready to use it.

Best Road Food Award - Anything not served in a gas station or Hooters.

Best Bathroom Award - Any Laundry Mat. Strange I know, but these place always had top notch crappers.  Honorable Mention goes to Buc-ee's Truck Stops.  Not that I stopped at one but plenty of other people spoke Buc-ee's praises for having bathrooms cleaner then the ones in their own homes.

Worst Bathroom Award - Hooters.

Best Sunset Award - Tie - All.

Best Sunrise Award - Tie - All.

I've been struggling with writing this last blog, because the Ovarian Cancer fight continues for so many while my eye opening ride has concluded.  September is Ovarian Cancer Month but I know women continue to fight year round with their friends and family members walking beside them in the battle.

I have passed this effort onto others I met and rode with along the way.  I have asked for donations to the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance (If you haven't yet, do it) Tell them Matt and Wendy sent you.

Time to ask one more favor:
Share the blog or Facebook page with your friends and family - Ask them to like the
If you didn't like the blog or the page, share it with your enemies (ala' David Lee Roth).

Any day you see a sunset is a good day. You made it, you win.
Any day you see a sunrise is a good day.  You made it, you win.
Everyday you wake up, you made it, you win.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Last Stop - Vegas the hard way

Crashing with my gypsy friends Jim and Kelly in Ventura CA was a good time.  Getting an opportunity to see them and be absorbed into their life for a few days was great.  Southern California isn't just a place to live, it's a whole style of life.

The day came for the gypsies to head off to Portland, and it was time for me to head to my last stop on this ride, Las Vegas.  Meeting up with what has become known as the 'Gator Crew'.  While we're not all Florida Gators (A graduate from the University of Florida), they are the majority in this bunch.

I departed from Ventura early in hopes of beating some of the Mojave heat, but even by 6:30am the road to Vegas got hot.  The ride started as normal, but when I rolled in for a gas stop 180 miles out of Las Vegas, something went wrong.  After 8000+ miles, I've learned what my machine should sound like.  I feel this is true with my body, as well as my other 4 wheeled machines.  With my body, I know when something hurts, my body is telling me address the problem.  With my bike I know what it sounds like going down the road.  After the gas stop, I made it another 1/2  mile onto the highway, and I heard an (the) issue.  The final drive went bad again.

I limped the machine to the next exit which luck would have was not far, and pulled into a gas station.  I looked at the back rim, and sure enough, another puddle of gear oil was pooling.  6000 miles ago, I had the final drive replaced with 1 of only 2 final drives left in the world (or left in the world of BMW Service).  The part had to be ordered from Germany and the repair took over 2 weeks to complete.  Standing at the gas station in Victorville CA, getting cooked by the early morning sun, it became apparent the machine was finished, as is the ride. 

I feel very lucky that this issue happened in Victorville, because 5 miles North on I-15, and I'm in 'no country for old men' style desert.  No cell or internet service, plus 105+ degree heat.  Add to this mix an extremely unhelpful roadside assistance plan, and that might have been all she wrote for me and the bike.

It took 4 hours for the roadside plan to finally locate a towing service then another 2 hours for the service to show up.  The main problem here was that no company was willing to tow me the 180 miles to the BMW dealership located in Vegas.  I finally conceded and took a company willing to tow me to Riverside CA.  I have not yet received an explanation as to why Progressive Roadside was able to tow me from Monroe LA to Dallas TX (250 miles) for free, but couldn't find a provider to tow me 180 miles to Vegas for less than $1600.  I will be following up.

The tow company arrived and after figuring they brought the wrong style of tow truck, they got my bike loaded up.  I had some time to chat with the first driver, and after flashing some cash, sweet talked them into towing me to Vegas.  Funny what having real cash on hand will get you sometimes.  When you have a face like I do, having an extra $400 bucks in real American green goes a long way. 

The drivers strapped down my bike on the flat bed, but something didn't look right to me.  I was assured that the bike was secure, and off we went to get gas (from the tow yard pumps).  Well 500 yards away from the tow yard, I looked back and the straps had come undone.  The bike was still up, but ready to go over the side of the truck.  The driver pulled over and I jumped on the flat bed to check any damages.  From the looks of the bike, it seemed the kick stand was bent.  It wasn't a good decision, but the driver agreed to let me stay on the back of the bike on the flat bed to hold it upright while he drove to the gas pump in the yard (again, only about 500 yards).  Well this drew some attention from the manager of the yard.  After the driver filled up the tank and took a reprimand from the shift manager, we were finally on our way to Vegas.

We pulled into BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas 10 minutes before they closed.  I had spoken with the Service Manager and explained my situation.  His name is Miller, and he was more than helpful, and cool to boot.  The tow driver and I unloaded the bike and pushed it over to Miller and his crew of techs who were in process of rolling all the bikes into the shop.  Miller took one look at what I thought was a bent kick stand, and gave some very grim news.  The stand wasn't bent, the sub-frame of the bike is bent.  How bad is this news?  They cannot bend this back as it could crack the weld, which would mean they need to total out the bike.  They have to disassemble the entire bike, and replace the sub-frame.

The final drive will be replaced under warranty, and the tow company will be on the hook for the sub-frame, but both of these repairs will take some time.  The dealerships best guess, is 3-4 weeks.

After hanging out in a gas station for 6 hours, and then a 180 mile tow, I was ready for a shower and to see the Gator crew.  A very nice gent by the name of Gary gave me a lift to the Mirage, and I put the bike and all that had happened behind me.  The dealership will call me with the estimate once they have fully inspected the bike, and I'll deal with the tow company on their portion of the repair.

I'll have to scrap my intentions of meeting up with my buddy PJ and Hans on my return trip home.

Vegas was the last stop on this ride.  The bike now sits in Vegas awaiting full prognoses.  The machine gave me a good ride, and didn't strand me anywhere life threatening. So I will count my lucky stars and keep in mind that the bike can always be replaced, while I can't. 

I've got 1 more blog left in me and a follow up article for BMW Owners News.  I'm happy and at peace with the world.

Cheers to the road

Going to Vegas - pre sub-frame bend.

Miller pointing out the bad news.  The bent sub frame

Saturday, July 26, 2014

On to Ventura - This summer Gypsy meets some real Gypsies

My visit and subsequent stay in San Jose was phenomenal.  While it would have been ideal to have my good buddy Jack there to show me the way, I had a wonderful time.  I don't know if I have a unique skill or I'm just damn lucky, but good people seem to find me, and I them.  I was again fortunate to meet some amazing folks in San Jose.

Being in San Jose put me real close to Racer Gloves USA headquarters.  Mr. Lee Block operates Racer Gloves here in the US, and prior to me leaving on this ride, we corresponded online and chatted on the phone.  He came across the article which BMW Owners News published and reached out to me.  His wife is also fighting ovarian cancer, and he is walking with her every step of the way in the battle.  Lee took notice in a few Go-Pro pictures I took that I was missing gloves, and provided me with 2 outstanding pairs.  So being I was in riding distance of his shop I paid Lee a surprise visit, and found he is even more amazing in person.  Lee wrote about it Racer Gloves Status.  Keep kicking ass Lee, and keep your wonderful wife happy.  Happy wife -happy life.

The clock kept ticking and the time came for me to leave lovely San Jose to hit my next stop - Ventura. Meeting up with my old guitar playing buddy Jim and his lovely wife Kelly.  I met Jim in Orlando Florida, when the band I was playing in needed an extra guitar player to cover some additional parts we added in the studio.  I found out Jim and I had more than just music in common.  Jim is a Michigan boy as well (Mt. Pleasant and Ann Arbor).  True to his nature though, he came to FL via Ventura CA.  Jim and Kelly are about as close to Gypsies as I've ever met.  Truth be told I have actually met someone with more Gypsy spirit...But that's for another time.

Jim and Kelly are professional photographers.  They have traveled the country shooting photos, speaking at photography seminars and hunting the perfect shot.  Ventura is only a 5 hour ride from San Jose, and is the perfect stop for me, prior to hitting my last stop (Las Vegas) and heading home.  It was natural that I paid Jim and Kelly a visit.  With the help of Lee, I took the route less traveled and made it to Ventura in 7 hours. While it was a hot ride, it was fantastic.

I have the pleasure of staying in Jim and Kelly's studio.  It's filled with modern equipment, and equipment from days long gone.  It's amazing. Hanging out with Jim and Kelly are Rocco and Ella (their dogs).  Makes me miss my 2 knuckleheads even more.

True to gypsy nature, Jim and Kelly are preparing to make a  6 week trip to Portland Oregon to pick up some additional work.  They're packing up their dogs, 2 small backpacks of clothes and some equipment into a Fiat (a very small car) and are bailing on Thursday.  When they return, they will not be hanging around Ventura for long.  Next stop for them will be Palm Springs.  It could be for a month, it could be for years. They don't yet know.  They just know they're doing it.

You should do yourself a favor and check out Jim and Kelly's work.  You don't get this talent by accident:
Jim's site Jim Mimics
Kelly's site Kelly Segre

I've offered them my bike, if they can use it in a photo shoot...but it might be too dirty for even their talented eyes.

Best gloves in the world...Racer Gloves!

The Santana - Like Winter Park FL or Birmingham MI

You can't turn your back on a setting sun - A wonderful overlook in San Jose

Tesla store - These cars are everywhere in San Jose

Jim and Kelly on Taco night!

Cheers to the road

Friday, July 18, 2014

From Seattle to San Jose

Apparently I do know the way to San Jose, or at least my GPS thinks it does.

Leaving the Loeding's I headed for the Pacific Coast Highway (US 101 or US 1 depending on where you're at).  Being that I was heading for San Jose, but I knew it would take 2 days in California traffic, I shot high.  I went up towards Puget Sound, and not doing as much homework as I should have, the GPS got me there, and then said "board a boat".  At least it was right from that aspect, there was a ferry there, and for $7.85 I boarded and took a 30 minute boat ride.  Well, about a hour after debarking the boat, I was on 101.

Highway 101 had some very nice twisties and some very nice views.  While it is revered as a piece of Americana, the traffic really caused it to drop in my list of Top 10 Rides.  Being stuck behind Winnebago's towing Jeeps and underpowered mini-vans pulling pop-up campers was normal.  I'd pass them when I could, only to run across the next turtle a half mile down.  The speed limit was 55mph on the 101, but I don't think I ever hit it.  I would guess my average speed was about 45mph, if I was lucky.  After a long day doing 45mph, I rolled into Nepwort Oregon.  An overcast sky had rolled in which prevented me from catching the sunset.  I figure I have a few good sunrises, and I was due to catch a sunset.  It wasn't to be that day, but I'll catch one before I bail.

The next day I started off on the road around 6:00am.  Instead of following the 101 any further, I headed for the interstate, I-5.  Getting there took me through a heavy fog in the mountains, which was something new.  The fog mixed with elk crossing signs had me again cruising along at 45mph, until the sun finally burned off the moisture around 7:15.  By 7:30, I was on I-5 doing 80 and enjoying the space.  By 8:30 I was surrounded by traffic but still doing a respectable 70.

70 was good until I hit California.  California maybe the only state with more road construction than Michigan.  There was more "left lane/right lane" closers than in all of the states I've been in combined.  The crummy thing about these closers, is I rarely saw any humans working on the roads.  There would be some equipment around, but nobody running the machines.  Also, it was hot.  Stuck at a dead standstill padded up with road gear in the blazing heat boiled me like an egg.  So much so I didn't hit my destination of San Jose.  I made it to a town called Red Bluff, and pulled off for the night.  Funny thing about Red Bluff.  I saw 4 motorcycles there.  3 of them BMW's.  One of them was a BMW R1200C, which was the first real bike I ever owned.  This one was very tricked out though with gorgeous saddle bags.  The bags I had were nice, but nothing like these.

Off the next day, early, and found out just what traffic was like in the greater Bay area.  California traffic is not good.  On top of that, their roads are a patchwork of good and evil.  Some of the roads are pristine new blacktop, and on the flip side are pot hole riddled grooved payment stretches.  If you don't ride a bike, grooved pavement doesn't bother you.  On two wheels, it's fairly treacherous.  Nothing quite like riding down the road and feeling your machine shimmy for no reason what so ever.  Poorly maintained grooved pavement really jumpstarts the inner voice.  When the wheels are wobbling, it's tough to tune that little bastard out.  To also get a little pet peeve off my chest, when there is a sign "motorcycles use extreme caution"…That shit isn't for motorcyclists!!  We're always using extreme caution.  If you see that sign as a driver, and see a motorcycle, give the bike some room.  We're doing our best out in that shit, give us some space.

I arrived in San Jose in one piece at my buddy Jack Clyne's house.  Very nice house, for a very upstanding guy.  Upon arrival, I took off my road gear and got into some shorts.  I also took a look in the mirror…I looked rode hard and put away wet.  It was time for a shave and a haircut.  Upon leaving Michigan, I had my head shaved.  Well, it was looking pretty funky by this time.  Jack took me an odd little barber in the middle of a warehouse and the dude gave me a cool new haircut and a hot shave.  My barber had a few more tattoo's than your average 1% biker club member.  I was cool with this, as I figured he knew his way around a blade.  When I got up from the chair, I looked and felt 10 years younger.  Might be due to all the gray hair that was trimmed off my face?

Jack is a music guru, and has probably the biggest heart of anyone I know.  I was planning on hanging out with him through the weekend, but family affairs required his attention.  I arrived on Wednesday, and Jack needed to fly out on Thursday.  He simply tossed me the keys to his new BMW convertible, and passed along his late father Ken's warning "Don't burn the house down".  There was something else about "you crash it you own it…." but I wasn't paying attention as I eyeballed and slighlty drooled over the keys he had just tossed me.  I offered to watch Jack's dog Murphy, but Murphy was headed to the doggie spa, and I hear last time she was there, they didn't want to give her back as she is such a sweetheart.

So I'm San Jose bound, with keys to the house, keys to the car, and nowhere to be.  I'm a curious creature, and I've already found a few fun spots around town.

Give bikes some room to work please

Mr. Jack Clyne

Murphy and Jack - Murphy is going to the spa

This photo was not John or Ponch approved (CHiP's anyone?).  No California  Highway Patrol officers were aware of this photo.

This machine looks like my first real bike, only with more sassy saddle bags and a nice back seat.  Red Bluff CA.

Cheers to the road

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Pacific Northwest, and Pacific Standard Time

Call it a combination of eating too much questionable food on the road, and tonight eating way too much fabulous food…I've given myself a serious case of heartburn.  Zantac has it's work cut out this morning.

I departed from my Lone Star friends after the night in Burley ID, and started the hike towards my good   friend, and former guitar player/lead singers pad in the greater Seattle area - Mr. Erik Loeding (and his lovely wife Elyse) invited me to stay with them for the weekend in Snoquaimie WA.  From where I was in Idaho, I decided to make a stop off in Yakima to skip arriving at Erik's house to late on Friday and waking up their 2 children.

Erik is very unique, in that even though he might be a Pacific Northwest transplant of only 2 years, his Detroit shines through in how he already has Washington wired.  A true Detroiter will prevail in damn near any situation.  Though he wasn't able to join me in Yakima, he let me know a couple of friends of his were playing a gig that night.  2 Pacific Northwest cover bands - Jar of Flies (an Alice in Chains cover band) and Outshined (a Soundgarden cover band).  For those of you that aren't familiar with the 90's grunge scene, Alice and Chains and Soundgarden are 2 of the big 4 bands to come out of Seattle (in my humble opinion).  The other 2 big boys are Pearl Jam and Nirvana.  My standing offer to Pearl Jam still holds….If Eddie and the boys ever need a backup bass player, call me.  I'll be waiting.

Yakima seemed very much like Orlando Florida.  One used car dealer after another, pawn shops, hot, and traffic lights that were timed terrible.  

After checking into a modest hotel, I cleaned up and headed out for some food.  While I was right in downtown Yakima, it took me 30 minutes walking to find anything more then a Jimmy Johns or Subway.  After locating a respectable bar grill, I struck up a conversation with the bartender who let me know the bands which I was going to see were playing at a biker rally call the Great Smokeout.  This rally was within a 5 minute walk.  After dinner I headed over to see what this was all about.  

Living out of a bag the size of a small backpack, I don't have much to choose from in the way of clothes.  This night, by total chance (and likely they were all I had clean) I was wearing my orange shorts, and my sliver and black Darkhorse brewery shirt. For those of you that don't know, orange and black are Harley Davidson trademark colors.  This ended up working out in my favor.

I wandered into this outdoor even which was in the heart of downtown, and it didn't take me long to realize I was in a 'color' event.  Color = Motorcycle gang friendly.  The club running the show was the 1% club, the Diablos (Diablos).  From my rough count, there was over 50 patch wearing members and plenty of their friends.  There were a few other clubs there too, but nowhere near the numbers.  The band Outshined was setting up, and while I was trying to blend in, I found out why it was called the Great Smokeout (pictures below).  The Diablos had their bikes parked within the event, and people were checking them out.  I too went over to check the bikes out, and saw a Harley very much like the one I own, a V-Rod.  This one had a custom paint job.  I liked it's looks and took a picture of it - Mistake.  Seems the Diablos didn't like this, and 3 of them came up to me to inquire what I was up too. My Detroit Rat skills kicked in, and within 30 seconds I had a picture of my V-Rod out to show these big boys that I'm a fan of the V-Rod, and own one.  The really big guy knew about my bike (only 1400 of my particular bike were made in 2007), and we started chatting about them.  Now I'm not really sure if it was what I was wearing or my Harley, but I was now ok to the Diablos, and they were ok to me.

The bands were stunning, and a good time was had by all.  I wrapped it up a little later than I would have liked, but being my body isn't use to Pacific Standard Time, I was back on the road to the Loeding's by 6:30am the next day.

Whatever road my GPS took me down, was stunning.  It's tough to explain what I saw, but Erik was right when he said "you've never seen anything like it".

Catching up and hanging with Erik and the family was great.  Erik and I are older now, but again time had stood still.  We laughed, shot the shit about glory days, and made some new memories.  Erik took me to catch some sights, and then took me to the very spot, where after he had his job offer, he made the decision to leave all he knew behind and start fresh in the Pacific Northwest (PNW as he calls it).  Bravo Erik, bravo.  It takes a very brave soul to throw caution to the wind and try something new in life…and you're killing it brother!

Just a few short days ago, I thought I had lost my edge.  I thought my mojo had left me.  I was wrong.  What in fact really happened is I have spent time with wonderful people, and I didn't want to leave.  In leaving, I felt drained.  When in fact, those good people are what is keeping my personal fuel tank full.  I'm very much blessed to reconnect and spend time with the good people in my life, and am lucky enough to meet some great new folks on the road.

One day very soon, I'll be back home playing with my dogs which I miss dearly, and getting ready to again throw caution to the wind myself...every chance I get.

A few pics:
Outshined - Just getting warmed up

View from the road to the Loeding's

The first ever Starbucks - This is where it all started.  

The view from where Erik decided to pack up the family and move to Washington

So this is why the event was called the Great Smokeout

More smoke anyone

The Harley V-Rod that almost got me skined

More smoke outs as the night went on

Cheers to the road

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Lone Star BMW riders and the hand off.

Riding with the Lone Star BMW Riders, was a joy and a full on experience.  It is the longest ride I've done with a club, 4 days.  Hanging out with them before and after the ride, taught me that we're very like minded folks.  I learned so much from riding with them, I've become a better rider.  I've learned more about twisties in 4 days with these boys and girls, then I could have gotten from 30 years on Midwest roads.

Everyone of them that I had the privilege to follow, gave me a perspective of what a bike and it's rider can do.  If there was a slowpoke in the group, it was me...but I gainfully improved.  I will say I hung pretty good in the soft serve ice-cream like mud we rode in...but I also took advanced slow speed training with Midwest Motorcycle Police (  We had a few people join up and a few people drop off over the 4 days, as a few had other paths or commitments.  Me being one of them after day 4.

Being that I did get to hang with them, I thought I would give you an insight into who these Lone Star riders are, and I'll just say this now one more time - They are all amazing riders:

Willy - Our fearless leader.  Riding a tricked out Goldwing, and can carving up corners like I carve up tenderloin.

Miss Rebecca - Our only female solo rider.  She was on a very nice RT1200, and used 3 inch motorcycle boots to help keep the bike balanced at a stop.  However, she wasn't stopped much.  She flat out ripped. 90mph to her is like 25mph to me.  She showed me a thing or two as well in the corners.

Kevin - Kevin is a corporate airline pilot, and if he flies planes as fast as he rides, none of his passengers will ever be late.  

Ben - He may have been the fastest rider of them all.  I saw a cloud of dust blow by Willy, and never saw Ben till the next day.

Lance - Another Goldwing rider...His about as tricked out as Willy's (probably as much but I'm not sure). Lance had a great music selection going, and was generally in front of me in our pack.  He's fast and can carve a corner, but was being kind to me and letting me catch him on the straights.

Louis - The only gent in the group with a bike under 1000cc's.  It didn't matter, I could barely keep up with him.  Louis and his wife also put on a nice dinner for the Lone Star's just outside of Steamboat Springs CO, but my tail required a soaking in the hot tub, so I missed Brisket....Darn my sore ass!

Bill - The keeper of the Crown Royal and 7-Up.  He only touched the sauce after he thoroughly put his decked out GS1200 through it's paces.

John and Susan - John is a certified member of the Iron Butt Association (About the IBA).  He has what I consider to be the flagship of the BMW fleet, the K1600.  It goes without saying that he can ride it, and he was doing it as a 2-up (his wife Susan on the back)  Susan also rides, but decided this would be her 'vacation' and let John do the riding.  John also invited me to do the IBA 3000 with him this fall.  That's 3000 miles in 48 hours.  Once I have a seat that is composed of nothing but unicorn farts and fairy kisses, I'm all over that challenge.  Then again...Maybe in November John?

Chris - Our Anchorman!  His tricked out Goldwing was doing double duty: towing a trailer and keeping me on pace.  Chris, it was a pleasure and a honor riding with you.  No matter what I did while in front of you, you always got off your machine with a smile, like you just hadn't seen me almost dump my bike in a gulch 2 minutes before.

The stops we made starting from Gunnison CO, to Steamboat Springs CO, over to Rock Springs WY, to Burley ID...Oh the things we saw!  I'm positive that it can only be experienced  truly on a bike.

One of the best parts about this ride, is handing the ride off.  What is that you ask?  Well I'm riding across the US for Ovarian Cancer.  Through these 4 days, I found that many, if not all the folks I was riding with, were touched in one way shape or form by cancer.  One person on the trip was a survivor.  The Lone Star's are a big group (around 75 active members).  During our last dinner together I asked the group if they would do 1 ride are year as a club for the cancer charity of their choice. They agreed!  I shook Willy's hand, and let him know when they do the ride, I'll come down to ride with them, as a better rider.

Heck, I might come down sooner as this is one fun group!

More to come on the stop in Yakima and the Erik Loeding experience...As when you write anything about Loeding, you have to choose your words carefully.

Here's a few pictures too.

Fire Canyon - Lots of twisties here!

Anchorman extraordinaire - Chris Wilson! 

Bear Lake...Utah

Cheers to the road

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Meeting of the LoneStar Club

Monday July 7th, it was time to get moving again and meet the Lonestar BMW club in Gunnison CO.  The original plan was meet them in Dallas, but like the road and the weather, plans change.

I was up fairly early, with enough time to get the bike packed and shower.  Shower, yes, a rare event for me prior to leaving for a 400+ mile ride.  Something just wasn't right though.  The GPS was not calcing a route, my helmet was fogging up.  The bike felt stiff and was fighting me on corners.  I took I-15 South and finally pulled over past Provo to give my GPS another shot.  As I was sitting there at a Starbucks (by Provo...very heavy LDS influence, and the good LDS folk don't drink coffee.  Cheers to the not so good ones!), I had a thought....I lost my edge.  My mojo done disappeared.  Maybe a few days eating good food and sleeping in a comfortable bed with a fluffy pillow drained me?  Maybe catching fireworks and Kenny Rogers show helped drain out some deep outlaw spirit?

Just then, my GPS finally calculated a route, I downed my coffee....Tuned out that stupid inner voice and tuned in an amazing ride.  I saw a Moose 50 feet from me on a very isolated road.  That is one big animal, and he saw me well before I saw him (her?).  No where to pull over to get a picture, but go google Rocky and Bullwinkle if you don't know what a moose looks like.  This is moose #2 I've come across, but moose #1 was 'sleeping' on the side of the road....and I'm pretty sure the car/truck/rv that put it to sleep was totaled. 

50 miles out from Gunnison, the mountain rain hit.  I pulled over, got my rain gear on without a peep, and got back on the road.  Mountain curves, rain and traffic, sure why not.  I was a little slower than your average bear in the twisties, but I made it to The Alpine Inn.  Just as I pulled in, there were a pile of the LoneStar boys and girls.  Me in my rain gear, looking like I know what I'm doing, I introduced myself.  They allowed me to park my bike, and we chatted a bit more, then off to dinner.  Nice little town Gunnison, I mean, if you like breath taking views and high mountain air.

Today (July 8th) I again was up too damn early for my own good.  Not being able to sleep, I took a short bike ride in the pre-dawn hours.  Well, I'll be damned if Gunnison doesn't have a metric shit ton of deer on the move.  I made it about 4 miles, and avoided at least 3 herds of moving deer.  Time to make a U-turn and get a shower in, which would make 2 in 2 days....Could be a record?

The LoneStars and I left at 7:55am on the long route to Steamboat Springs...Which included a jaunt down 20 or so miles of dirt, mud, gravel and graded road.  Not to mention that we made it through some 3 miles of magnesium chloride spraying.  Not sure why they're laying that down on dirt but was pretty tricky to ride. We come around a corner, and next thing you know, we're surrounded by sheep and 3 or 4 sheep dogs tending the herd.  I've never seen anything like that in Michigan.  Once we cleared the dirt/mud and hit a quick bike wash, it was a rip roaring ride to Steamboat.  These boys and girls can ride....Flat out, ride.  Took just about everything I had to basically keep up with them.  It's true, that a poor musician blames his instrument....Well my BMW 1200CLC is in company with decked out Goldwings, R1200's and even a GS1200 hiding in there.  My 800lbs CLC is outgunned....But thanks to our formation anchorman, Chris, he kept my mojo working.  Seems everyone made it safe.  We had a few folks breakaway to see some specific sites.  Me, I was just happy to be riding in a group.

Group riding brings a whole new aspect to the road.  You have safety in numbers, as cars are far more likely to see your group.  Plus it's nice to let the other folks lead once in a while.  Even though everyone has thoughts and opinions in a group, these boys and girls have a very relaxed yet detailed demeanor.  Today was a pleasure, and I'm sure the next few days will be as well.

Here's a couple of pics I've uploaded at a Hampton Inn...I'm not staying here, I just know they have free internet and don't ask a lot of questions...and yes I did park my bike under the check in canopy. 

Yes - If you have the chance to see Kenny Rogers, do it.  I know it sounds funny, but do it.
That is one big bird - Gunnison CO

Sheep - They were all over the place

Sheepdog, barking us off the herd

We are dirty

Cheers to the road