Friday, May 6, 2022

Riding Marco Island and the San Cap Islands with my buddy Julio



My good friend Julio asked me a few years back if he should buy a motorcycle. And since he had two young daughters still in the house, I said it would not be a good idea and I recommended against it. 


Well, fast forward to 2021: He ended up getting not only his motorcycle endorsement but he bought two motorcycles in rapid succession. 


I should mention that he’s currently working and living in New Delhi, India, and he rides a Royal Enfield Meteor. 


I’m amazed that in the short time he’s been riding, he’s done some truly incredible rides all over that part of India, to include some serious mountains.  


He sometimes rides with a large group of coworkers and sometimes just by himself. I gotta say, I’m extremely impressed at how he’s taken to the Motorcycle Lifestyle. 


Anyhow, he called me a couple of weeks ago and said he’d be in Florida for a cruise and suggested meeting up for a ride.  I readily agreed so he rented a Harley Ultra Classic in Miami and we planned to meet somewhere in the middle.  


I rode down from Tampa and met him near Everglades City this morning.  When I rolled up, the smile on his face told me he’d already had an enjoyable ride on old Highway 41 (TaMiami Trail) and was ready to ride some more.  


We continued west on the 41 toward Marco Island.  It started out being a pretty nice day, actually— not too hot at all—but it was soon to hit 90° plus.  


Sadly, just a few miles up the road we came upon a motorcyclist we’d earlier seen gassing up at the station where we met, a female who had dumped her bike and had been taken to the hospital.  Her mangled Sportster was on its side and nearby were her helmet and the clothes they had cut off of her.  Very sad to see that but a sobering reminder of what can happen.  


We stopped at a small bar and grill—a dive bar, really (The Sand Bar), on Marco Island and had an early lunch. We laughed a lot as we caught up on work and old friends and other things…but mainly talked about motorcycling.  What a great time.  


I had roughly planned out a ride for us along the coast but I hadn’t done a very good job of it and it turned out that the island I wanted to ride over to was not 20 miles away like I had thought —it was more like 75 miles away.   Julio said he had the entire day so we took the 41 part way up and and then I-75 north the rest the way up to Sanibel and Captiva (San Cap) Islands.  It wasn’t too busy so we rode all the way through Sanibel and over to the tip of Captiva where we stopped at another bar and grill near the water.  


It was a pretty day but a hot day.  We ordered cool drinks and enjoyed the air conditioning while we talked about the day’s ride.  I told him I was amazed at how good of a rider he was since he was such a new rider.  He explained that riding a motorcycle in India is like a baptism in fire: If you can rider there, you can ride anywhere! I suppose that must be true because he really is a competent rider.  


I had 125 miles to ride to get home and Julio had almost 175 to get back to Miami.  We gassed up near Ft. Myers and said our goodbyes.  It was a full day of riding and I sure didn’t want it to end. As I was leaving, he reminded me of his invitation to visit he and his wife in New Delhi.  World class riding, indeed and it’s definitely on my bucket list.  


Ride safe, amigo.  








Tuesday, March 22, 2022

You call this a Ride Report? (Canada/Alaska 2022 pre-ride planning)







I’m met Steve in late 1988 when we were both working down on the border in South Texas.  I had been in Laredo about a year when he arrived and we became fast friends and we’ve been close ever since; we’ve both moved all over the country— and actually lived in the same city in North Carolina for about a year way back when.  


We’ve done some rides together, most recently a nice Baja adventure a couple years ago.  So, he and I had planned to travel to South America on our KLR 650s when I retired in 2018 but I broke my leg on a Baja ride just a couple months before we were supposed to leave and that kind of scuttled that plan.  Then, after I recovered, COVID shut the borders and made most of our trip impossible.  Then, I once again became gainfully employed and had to take a two-year break.  


So here we are in early 2022… We’re both free and available now and the urge to ride down to Ushuaia— although still on our minds— is not as pressing as it once was.  however we still wanna do a long-term ride.   


He recently asked me about Saskatchewan or Newfoundland or somewhere else in Canada and I mentioned the ride I did to Alaska in 2014 and that it might be something I’d want to do again.  He readily agreed so the planning commenced.


The last time I rode up there was for 30 days in July and August 2014 and the weather and traffic were fine so we are planning for those months.  Looks like 45 to 60 days riding through Canada and Alaska…and this time it’s personal! 😬 Though we are not shooting for Inuvik or Deadhorse this time, we do want to see a lot of what Canada and Alaska have to offer.  


He’ll be on his 2020 Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L and I’ll be on my 2018 BMW R1200GS Adventure.  We have unlimited time and fairly unlimited budgets.  We plan to camp as much as possible.  We are flexible as to the route and mileage though we don’t plan on really long days of riding; I’m an Iron Butt guy and he isn’t.  


My main concerns right now are the routing and whether to use hard or soft panniers.  I took soft side bags and a hard top case on my KTM 990 Adventure last time and that worked well.  But these big aluminum side panniers sure are convenient.  I’d travel a lot lighter with soft bags.  His main concern is….absolutely nothing: He just wants to ride.  


So, we have over 3 months to plan, and I want to make this ride as enjoyable for my buddy as possible.  With that in mind, I endeavored to seek out the coolest places to see and spend the least amount of time on roads that weren’t that fun…hence, nixing the Dempster and Haul Road.  I reminded Steve we’ll still ride plenty of dirt, gravel, bad pavement and muddy roads—due to construction or just cool places (McCarthy, Skagway, Valdez, etc.).


Yes, we’re actively planning this ride…but we’re also taking a “whatever happens, happens” approach and play it somewhat by ear.  We’ll see how that goes.  


Some of the places we plan to see:


Banff 

Jasper 

Dawson Creek

AlCan Highway

Fort Nelson

Muncho Lake

Liard Hot Springs

Watson Lake/Signpost Forest

Campbell Highway

Carmacks

Dawson City

Eagle

Top of the World/Taylor Highway

Chicken

Tok, AK (Thomason’s Eagle Claw campground)

Richardson Highway (The Old Rich, between Valdez and Fairbanks)

McCarthy (60-mile dirt road, one way in/out)

Valdez

Edgerton Highway (between the Old Rich Junction to Chitina)

Wrangle—St. Elias Nat’l Park

Fairbanks

Coldfoot (?)

Parks Highway

Denali

Anchorage

Kenai Peninsula

Seward

Homer, AK (The Spit)

Palmer Highway

Denali Highway (Hwy 8), 140-mile dirt road

Tok (again)

Destruction Bay

Haines Junction

Whitehorse

Hyder

Cassiar Highway

Smithers

Irkusk

Dease Lake (take the road out to Telegraph Creek)

100 Mile House

Prince George

Pemberton

Cache Creek 

Lillooet 

Duffy Lake

Whistler

Kamloops

Highway 16

Highway 97/Alaska Highway 

(Just south of Clinton take a right at 99 to Lilooet, the Duffy Lake road to Pemberton, Whistler and down to Vancouver. A must see.)

Fraser River gorge/Hells Gate area

Sumas (exit Canada?)







Sunday, March 13, 2022

St. Patty’s/Sarasota Humane Society Poker Run

It doesn’t get much better than getting out on a Sunday and riding with your friends on a perfect day… but it sure didn’t start out like that!


It’s was 37° when I woke up this morning and it was only supposed to warm up a little bit. But I had committed to riding this poker run with my friends and doggonnit I was going to do it.  So I put on my warmest clothes and I rode down the I-75 south to Sarasota to meet up with everyone. 


There were about a dozen of us and we were all bundled up like Floridians who don’t know how to dress warm.  


We headed to the first stop, and the real reason today’s ride: The Humane Society of Sarasota. In addition to news crews and many other riders, we were treated to coffee and donuts.  


I bought 3 poker hands and drew my cards.  Then my friends and I took a look at the stops along today’s route…a bagel shop and three Irish pubs!  Erin go bragh, indeed.  


The sun was out and it had warmed up to the low 50’s by 10:30…just perfect riding weather.  


The ride leader knew his way around Sarasota and we rode along the beach and through the tourist areas.  The brisk weather wasn’t keeping anyone home on such a beautiful day.  


After reaching our final destination and drawing our final poker hands, we submitted our sheets and hoped for the best.  Not sure a pair of 10s would win me anything, I held out for low hand! 😆


As we all said our goodbyes and headed home, the temperature had crept into the 70’s... typical Florida!


A good time was had by all and it benefitted a worthwhile cause.  Even filling up with $5+ a gallon gas couldn’t dampen todays mood.  🤭 














Saturday, January 15, 2022

GibTown BikeFest 2022: Tampa Bay, Florida






I’ve made a goal of attending all of the motorcycle shows in Florida. And to that end, some motorcycle enthusiast friends and I have been to the Daytona (twice), Arcadia and St. Pete motorcycle shows.  






The two shows that I’ve really been wanting to see are Leesburg and GibTown.  So today a bunch of us rode up to Gibsonton —between Gibsonton and Riverview, just south of Tampa, Florida— and took a look at what they had.   


The event is hosted by the International Independent Showmen's Association, known to most as the "Gibtown Showmen's Club.” They’re  one of the largest organizations in the carnival industry and opened this facility in 1966. 




This was a 3-day event opening on Friday. We had intended on going Sunday but the weather folks are saying we’re supposed to get some hurricane-style weather tomorrow so everybody rearranged their schedules and decided to go today. 


The place was packed with bikes of every make, model and style and, of course, lots of fellow motorbike fans. I think last year they had 9,000 people a day in attendance and I’m guessing there were probably 10 to 12k people there today.  


There were two stages with bands playing southern rock and some of the Carnies were putting on freak shows …they had snakes and all sorts of stuff like that.  There was a hypnotist there, too.  


But one of the biggest parts of the show—and something I really wanted to see, and unfortunately I missed it this year— was the CAGE OF DEATH!  Oh, how I wanted to see that.  They had a stunt spectacular that didn’t start until later and unfortunately I had something planned for later in the afternoon so I left a little early.  




But anyway, we had a great time; we ate some fair-food, bought a bunch of knickknacks, leather goods, patches, pins, shirts and stickers and everybody left happy. 


Now, on to Leesburg!














Monday, January 10, 2022

That’s a lotta “IF’s” (Ushuaia again)



Ushuaia.  I’ve missed riding to the tip of South America twice now; maybe thrice. Various issues have hampered my attempts: A broken leg, a job, that pesky Chinese virus.  


But I still yearn to travel through Latin America by motorcycle.  And I ain’t getting any younger.  So what’s a guy in his mid-50’s to do? Well….


IF I have no employment responsibilities on July 1st, 2022 and IF my wife is OK with my extended absence and IF the borders in Central and South America are open and IF Covid isn’t expected to severely keep travelers from moving freely between countries and IF I can find a feasible way to traverse the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia and IF I have a riding partner who can travel with me for 4-6 months….well, I may attempt to head south for a few months and be in Ushuaia by New Years Eve.  


I told you there are a lot of IF’s…but nothing’s impossible, nothing that can’t be overcome.  


Roughly 10k miles through some extremely fascinating scenery.  Now, the planning…



Monday, November 22, 2021

St. Pete (Florida) Bikefest: November 2021

 Rode over to St. Petersburg with some friends yesterday.  Not a lot of people, not too many vendors.  I’d say there were more law enforcement officers there than there were vendors.  

This was the first year of having this event at Bert’s Barracuda HD and not at the beach resort   

Looked inside OC Choppers but it was really more of a restaurant than a OCC museum. We all had burgers.

The weather was nice though it threatened to sprinkle.  The band (Phoenix) rocked.  Only 4 event t shirts for sale…only 4 total.  One rack.  None in XL.  Just weird.  

Walked across the street to Quaker Steak and Lube.  Also a good live band.  About the same number of vendors.  

I guess the best news is that there was no $10 charge to enter because that would’ve sucked.

Since there’s not a lot happening this time of year, we’re riding to all of the bike shows, big or small.  And as my buddy Joe reminded me, it’s about riding with your friends, not so much the show itself.