Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fun Motorcycle Flicks: Bike Movies for Enthusiasts!

Fun motorcycle movies in no particular order:

On Any Sunday

A very fun motorcycle documentary by Bruce Brown (of Endless Summer fame) following the lives of motorcycle nuts. Shows actor and bike enthusiast Steve McQueen. Not to be missed.

Why We Ride

Interesting bike documentary very reminiscent of Bruce Brown's most excellent flick. (Description from the film): A story about who we are. Individuals with a desire to dream, discover and explore. Seeking a life outside our daily confinements and sharing those moments together. It’s a story about the journey, not the destination. Motorcycles represent the milestones of our lives. From a kid’s dream come true, to a retiree’s return to freedom. From a family riding together on the sand dunes, to hundreds of choppers carving through the canyons – the bond is the same. It’s about the passion of the riders and the soul of their machines. Your senses will heighten as the world rushes in, your heart will beat to the pulse of the engine, your mind will race and set you free. Once you let a motorcycle into your life, it will change you forever.

Here are three movies my Indian film maker, adventurer and high altitute motorcycle enthusiast Gautav Jani. Both are filmed on or around the Changthang Plateau.

Riding Solo to the Top of the World (Documentary 2006).

A unique experience of a lonesome traveler who rides his motorcycle to one of the remotest places in the world. Indiscribable beauty and subtle toughness in this amazing and harsh environment. Beautifullycapturestheplacesand people.Themotorcycle aspect is what brought me to this film; the cinematography kept me spellbound. Super.

One Crazy Ride (Documentary 2009).

A motorcycle expedition on uncharted roads across the Himalayan state of ArunachalPradesh, situated in North-eastIndia. Butmore than anexpedition,it'sa film on friendship, camaraderie and the "never say die" attitude of five motorcyclists in the face of unforgiving terrain. Shot in the same format as "Riding Solo To The Top Of The World" with no back-up vehicle or film crew, in parts of India hardly seen, filmed or explored, the documentary captures the interactions and experiences of the riders who are trying to chart a route, which according to everyone does not exist.

Motorcycle Changpa

A film about the journey which Gaurav did for almost an year exploring ChangThan plateau, another virtually unexplored region in the Himalayas.

I salute to the courage & determination of Gaurav.

His films, along with others of this genre (watch the most excellent trailers), can be found on this site:

Long Way Round/Long Way Down

These are some extremely enjoyable documentaries...buddy flicks, really.
For all the bashing and bad press these flicks received, they're really just two friends--Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman--on a motorcycle trip around the world. The two friends travel through Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Alaska before ending the journey in New York. The filming is done by on-board cameras and one ride-along cameraman. Sure, they have a support crew, but that's such a small part of the story. The interaction of the two pals as they encounter beautiful people, stunning countryside, frustrating setbacks and potentially dangerous situations with senses of humor is fun to watch. These guys capture the passion of traveling, riding bikes with your mates and best of all, friendship through it all. They're both "must watch" movies (LWR is a bit better than LWD, IMHO).

Cycles South

A 1970's movie about 3 American dudes traveling south from Denver to Panama on some reliable Japanese 2-stroke motorcycles. Tight budgets, no real time limits and no specific reason for their travels. More of a "mockumentary" than a documentary, with laughs and good times a-plenty. The boys have a great time in any circumstance they run into. Bobby Garcia provides comic relief throughout. In his words, this movie is "Muy Bueno." You will love this flick for several reasons.

The World’s Fastest Indian

Based on the true story of New Zealand bike racer Burt Munro, depicted by Anthony Hopkins on an Indian motorcycle. At the time of the record attempt, Munro was 68 years old riding an Indian motorbike that was also 47 years old. That record still stands to this day.

Wild Hogs

Don't hate me for this one, but this is a fun flick. It's a story of four middle aged friends (John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macey) who take their Harleys on a memorable cross country ride. The HDs featured in the movie include a XL1200C Sportster Custom, FXSTS Springer Softail, Black Fatboy and a Screaming Eagle Fatboy. And Marisa Tomei isn't too shabby, either.

Easy Rider

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper seek freedom against a backdrop of the hippie movement showing that there is no better way to see the USA than from the seat of a Harley Davidson.

Dust to Glory

A 2005 documentary on the Baja 1000, the annual off-road race held in Baja California, Mexico that attracts hundreds of racers and thousands of fans. The cameo of Mario Andretti is icing on the cake. A film by Dana Brown, Bruce's son.

The Girl on a Motorcycle

A 1968 gem with Marianne Faithfull as a married woman who leaves her husband, hops on her motorcycle and speeds off to see her lover. Sure, reviews will state that his is a "pretentious and nearly completely pointless film and "a rather unintelligent piece of psychedelic excess that won't entertain anyone but those who enjoy this kind of kitsch." Sure, that's fairly accurate.

Electra Glide in Blue

Robert Blake is an Arizona cop who rides a Harley Electra Glide. Some fine cinematography of Monument Valley and other places you might've ridden your cruiser.

One Week

Ben Tyler (played by Joshua Jackson) learns he has terminal cancer with a survival rate of 1 in 10. On a whim, he buys a 1973 Norton. His girlfriend tells him something all of us has heard: Riding a motorcycle is the height of stupidity. Yup.

Knowing he will die soon, he hops on the Norton (hearing jeans, a tight leather jacket and an open-faced helmet. OK!

He leaves Toronto for British Columbia to see big things along the way. You know, BIG things. Along the way, we are treated to a lot of beautiful Canadian roadside. You might like this flick.

The Motorcycle Diaries

I'm conflicted on this one. One one hand, there are some great scenes of two guys hopping on an overloaded bike and exploring the world. On the other hand, it glamorizes the scumbag killer, Che Guevara. I dunno.

21 Days Under The Sky

If you enjoy motorcycle flicks, and I'm guessing you do, you'll like this very cool documentary.

Available on Netflix, This 1:10 minute flick goes back and forth between a recent cross-country ride by 4 friends on their way to a New Jersey chopper rally and old video of the El Forastero Motorcycle Club doing the same thing in the 60's.

Worth watching...unless you really don't like watching Dope-smoking hipsters doing their thing...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bikes I've Owned

I've been riding since the age of 12 or 13. I've had more than a few bikes. I sure wish I still had a few of them.

Here they are:

It all started with a 1975 Honda XR75...

Soon followed by a Honda SL100, circa 1977

My mom somehow came into possession of a 1980's Kawasaki KZ LTD 250

I acquired two bikes from friends while in the Marine Corps.

A 1984 Honda XL600
And a 1980 Honda 500 Shadow (that I still own...looking good, Pops).

I then bought the following bikes in rapid succession:

A 1981 Honda Goldwing 1100

A 1981 Yamaha TT500

A 1987 Yamaha TT600

A 1986 Yamaha XT600

A 1978 Suzuki RM400

A 1987 Yamaha YZ490 (widowmaker!)
A Kawasaki VN1500 Vulcan Nomad 1500

A 2005 Yamaha Raptor 660 quad

A 2009 Triumph Rocket III Touring (a 2300 cc monster bike)

A 2004 BMW R1150GS dual sport

A 2011 Kawasaki KLR650

Hmmm, what's next?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Selected Motorcycle Quotes

Motorcycle Quotes: Here are some gems about riding motorcycles for those of us who enjoy being on two wheels, headed somewhere; maybe nowhere.

Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle.

One of the things that make motorcycling so great is because it never fails to give you a feeling of freedom and adventure. - Steve McQueen

"Dad, can I get a motorcycle when I grow up?"
"Son, you can't do both."

I'd rather be riding my motorcycle thinking about God than sitting in church thinking about my motorcycle.

I spent all my money on motorcycles, guns, rock and roll music, whiskey and women...the rest I just wasted.

If I could marry my motorcycle, I'd roll her right up to the altar.— Flip Wilson

Love is the feeling you get when you like something as much as your motorcycle — Hunter S. Thompson

You can't go faster if you're wrapped in plaster.

Riding in a car is like watching a movie. Riding a motorcycle is like starring in a movie.

Anybody can jump a motorcycle. The trouble begins when you try to land it. —Evil Knievel

Never dress for the weather, always dress for the fall.

Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

A motorcycle functions entirely in accordance with the laws of reason, and a study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself. That's all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. — Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

It didn’t look that far on the map...

Riding a motorcycle isn't a matter of Life or Death. It's much more important than that.

Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death. —Hunter Thompson

And I to my motorcycle
Parked like the soul of the junkyard
Restored, a bicycle fleshed
With power, and tore off
Up Highway 106, continually
Drunk on the wind in my mouth,
Wringing the handlebar for speed,
Wild to be wreckage forever.
James Dickey (Cherrylog Road)

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.

Respect the person who has seen the dark side of motorcycling and lived.

Young riders pick a destination and go... Old riders pick a direction and go.

There’s no such thing as bad riding weather, just bad riding gear.

The best alarm clock is sunshine on chrome.

A friend is someone who'll get out of bed at 2 am to drive his pickup to the middle of nowhere to get you when you're broken down.

Calling upon my years of experience, I froze at the controls.– Stirling Moss

There's something ugly about a new bike on a trailer.

Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don't. Some can't.

Only a Biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

"Oh crap!" is usually the moment when your plan parts ways with reality.

Got a $5 head? Get a $5 helmet.

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. - Robert M Pirsig

If you think you don't need a helmet, you probably don't.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a Ride! —Hunter S. Thompson

Never trade the thrills of living for the security of existence.

A zest for living must include a willingness to die.

NEVER argue with a woman holding a torque wrench.

The only good view of a thunderstorm is in your rearview mirror.

Pie and coffee are as important as gasoline.

Sometimes it takes a whole tankful of fuel before you can think straight.

Riding faster than everyone else only guarantees you'll ride alone.

Never hesitate to ride past the last street light at the edge of town.

A cold hamburger can be reheated quite nicely by strapping it to an exhaust pipe and riding forty miles.

Never do less than forty miles before breakfast.

If you don't ride in the rain you don't ride.

A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.

I want to leave this world the same way I came into it: Screaming and covered in blood.

A good mechanic will let you watch without charging you for it.

Sometimes the fastest way to get there is to stop for the night.

Two-lane blacktop isn't a highway it's an attitude.

When you look down the road, it seems to never end, but you better believe it does.

A motorcycle can't sing on the streets of a city.

Keep your bike in good repair: Motorcycle boots are NOT comfortable for walking.

Remember to pay as much attention to your partner as you do your carburetor.

Well-trained reflexes are quicker than luck.

Learn to do counterintuitive things that may someday save your butt.

The twisties, not the superslabs, separate the riders from the squids.

Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 70 mph can double your vocabulary.

If you want to get somewhere before sundown, you can't stop at every tavern.

Practice wrenching on your own bike.

Don't argue with an 18-wheeler.

Never be ashamed to unlearn an old habit.

Maintenance is as much art as it is science.

A good long ride can clear your mind, restore your faith and use up a lot of fuel.

No one ever complains about the cost of their second helmet.

If you can't get it going with bungee cords and electrician's tape it's serious.

If you ride like there's no tomorrow there won't be.

Gray-haired riders don't get that way from pure luck.

Do not mix whiskey and gasoline.

There are drunk riders. There are old riders. There are NO old, drunk riders.

Thin leather looks good in the bar, but it won't save your butt from road rash when you go down.

Always replace the cheapest parts first.

You can forget what you do for a living when your knees are in the breeze.

Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end. —Ursula K. LeGuin

Middle age starts when you have been warned to slow down, not by a motorcycle cop, but by your doctor.

What do you call a cyclist who doesn't wear a helmet? An organ donor.

Remember folks, street lights timed for 35 mph are also timed for 70 mph.

If you want to complain about the pace being set by the road captain, you better be prepared to lead the group yourself.

It takes both pistons and cylinders to make a bike run. One is not more important than the other.

If the countryside seems boring, stop, get off your bike, and go sit in the ditch long enough to appreciate what was here before the asphalt came.

It’s a world with 20,000 television channels...get as far away from it as you can.

Work to ride and ride to work.

Burn rubber, not your soul, baby.

Sometimes the best communication happens when you're on separate bikes.

When I finished high school, I wanted to take all my graduation money and buy myself a motorcycle. But my mom said no. See, she had a brother who died in a horrible motorcycle accident when he was 18. And I could just have his motorcycle.

I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.

Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get really interesting until about 150.

That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. — Robert Pirsig

Time spent riding a motorcycle is not deducted from your lifespan.

The wet, cold and miserable days are the ones when legends are born.

You can go as fast as you like on a motorcycle - just never hurry on a motorcycle.

Saddlebags can never hold everything you want, but they CAN hold everything you need.

Life without pleasurable pursuits is hardly worth living, and while the best things may be free, some pretty excellent ones cost money and have wheels. — Paul D’Orleans

A good rider can overcome marginal equipment. However, even the best equipment can’t overcome a marginal rider.

I have to lead...I'm allergic to dust!

Sometimes I get off the bike before it has come to a complete stop.

Ride a BMW'll make your butt look smaller.

When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour. — T.E. Lawrence

Get your kicks on Route 66

The lyrics of this very fun road tune are all about The Mother Road: US Highway 66.

This is still very rideable, if only for nostalgia's sake. I've ridden parts of this historic stretch of road on motorcycles, though it's now paralleled by other major US highways. Its demise is glaringly apparent and extremely sad. If you're riding along a major US highway, and happen upon a Route 66 road sign, it might be worth a quick detour.

Once the larger highways were built, businesses along The Mother Road were no longer needed and all that's left are abandoned homes, closed-up stores and the occasional souvenir shop (Seligman, AZ is a nice stop).
The famous road sign is often the only reminder that the traveler is on the legendary road that once carried hordes of post-war travelers West, from Chicago to LA.

US 66 was officially removed from the US Highway System on June 27, 1985 after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System.

(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, often rendered simply as "Route 66", is a popular song composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup. It was first recorded in the same year by Nat King Cole, and was subsequently covered by many artists including Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode. The song's lyrics follow the path of the U.S. Route 66 highway, which used to run a long distance across the US, going from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.

The song mentions the names of towns and cities on the highway that Route 66 passed through, celebrating the romance and freedom of automobile travel.

St. Louis, Missouri
Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;
Amarillo, Texas;
Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona
Winona, Arizona
Kingman, Arizona;
Barstow, California
San Bernardino, California

Length: 2,451 miles

Existed: November 11, 1926 to June 27, 1985

Of the eight states that the actual route passes through, only Kansas and its cities are not mentioned by the song.

Winona is the only town out of sequence: it was a very small settlement east of Flagstaff, and might indeed have been forgotten if not for the lyric "Don't forget Winona," written to rhyme with "Flagstaff, Arizona."
I've Been Everywhere, Man!
Well, here's an interesting idea: take an old travel song, identify the cities and towns along the way, then visit them all! It would be fairly easy to visit the places mentioned in the very fun road tune (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, but how about the sites in "I've been Everywhere" by Geoff Mack?

The song (as originally written) listed Australian towns. It was later adapted by Hank Snow for North American (predominantly US) place names. There were four versions from the original record: Great Britain, USA, New Zealand and Australia.

Are you up for a challenge? Well, here's a fun contest for people who want to do just that. One of my Long Distance Rider heroes, Ron Ayres, was able to document visits to 75 of the 92 sites.

My friend and fellow KLR enthusiast Jeff in Illinois (Spiderman), put together this fine video: I've Been Everywhere video


I was totin' my pack
Along the dusty Winnemucca road
When along came a semi
With a high and canvas covered load
If you're going to Winnemucca, Mack
With me you can ride
So I climbed into the cab
And then I settled down inside
He asked me if I'd seen a road
With so much dust and sand
And I said,

Listen, Bud I've traveled every road in this here land

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
'Cross the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel, I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

Been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma
Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo
Tocopilla, Barranquilla, and Padilla, I'm a killer

Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana
Monterey, Ferriday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa
Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa
Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake
Grand Lake, Devil's Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete's sake

Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika
Shefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport
Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond Du Lac, Davenport
Idaho, Jellicoe, Argentina, Diamontina
Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean, sir

Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravellburg, Colorado
Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, Eldorado
Larrimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chattanika
Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika
Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City
Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
'Cross the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel, I've had my share, man
I know some place you haven't been
I've been everywhere

Here's a map: Google Map

So, all a rider needs to do is visit these places and snap a photo. Easy!




La Paloma




Santa Fe
Glen Rock
Black Rock
Little Rock

Spirit Lake
Grand Lake
Devils Lake
Crater Lake

Costa Rica

Fond du Lac




Kansas City
Sioux City

Cedar City
Dodge City


(BTW: I've hit 46 of these places.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Asphalt Adventure with Exciting Photos!

I thought I'd add a little story about my high-side "get-off" earlier this year. I'm patched up and so is my bike, so here's what happened:

While out with some friends on Sunday, March 13, at about 2 PM, I took a pretty good spill on some beautiful California backroad asphalt.
I was on the S-22, about 4 miles west of Borrego Springs, heading up the Montezuma Grade at about 50 MPH, when my rear wheel lost traction while in a steep right hand turn.

These photos show the turn, post-accident. The terrain, road conditions and weather are shown pretty clearly.
I might’ve hit gravel, a stone or oil. Might've been those ultra hard Dunlop E3 tires. Whatever it was, the bike fishtailed and I was thrown fairly violently into the oncoming lane. I was extremely fortunate that no cars were approaching or I wouldn't be writing this. I went airborne, landing on my back and left side. I was able to immediately stand up, though the wind was knocked out of me. My helmet and jacket sustained considerable damage.

My Triumph Rocket III Touring ended up facing the other way; it wasn't totaled but couldn't be ridden: Bent handlebars, broken clutch lever, scratched sidebag and tweaked crash bars.
The tow truck arrived 3 hours later while I picked up bike parts and nursed my wounds.
I was sore but nothing was broken. Busted up foot, back and shoulder. Road rash on my back and both legs. My Joe Rocket helmet, Triumph jacket and Sidi Canyon boots took most of the damage. I was sore for a while.

The wife was understandably upset that I didn't tell her right away, but understands now. She doesn't like me riding, but understands.

The bike sustained surprisingly minimal damage. It was actually less than $1000, and that includes new chrome parts and some painting. My mechanic, Ivan @ Ivan's Fast Bikes, took care of everything as I recuperated. He replaced what needed replacing, fixed what needed fixing and contracted the paint work. The total ended up coming in about $200 less than his initial estimate! How do ya like that? There was no frame damage, so the repairs consisted mainly of replacing the crash bars, handlebars, clutch lever and some cosmetic repair to a side bag. Since I didn't tweak the frame or forks, it wasn't an insurance job.

I arrived home about 5 hours after the accident and cleaned up, hoping to dodge a hospital visit. Unfortunately, the pain was progressively worse, and I had banged my head during the fall, so it was off to the ER at 10 PM; we were there until 5:15 AM, as I suspected would happen. The kind medical profesionals at Kaiser ran a full battery of tests to rule out head, neck, and spleen damage. Lots of road rash and bruising--and a sprained ankle--but nothing broken and all tests looked OK.
Bottom line: The old guy was very sore--everywhere--after a near-disastrous 50 MPH get-off. I doubt I'd have been that sore at 25 (years old or MPH).

I was in a temporary cast pending an ortho visit to determine if a hard cast was needed or not; on crutches and some great pain meds. I was back to work after a couple of days' rest. My pride required physical therapy but recovered... nothing was broken except my ego. Road rash and soreness all over.

The safety equipment did its job. I was fortunate. I'll take this as a wake-up call to slow it down in unfamiliar territory.

My family and friends came through with calls and texts and much-appreciated prayers.

So, a question for the peanut gallery: Is it true that there are two kinds of riders? Those who have gone down and those that will? Ouch...

My bike gave me a few problems (as you'll see from ride reports since the accident) and I'm wondering if the fall and subsequent repairs had anything to do with it. Regardless, I'm back on the old steed and ready for new rides.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Motorcycle Writing: Selections for Armchair Riders

Is your bike put away for the winter? Are you recuperating from a "get-off" while your mechanic puts your bike back together? Looking to do some riding in far-off lands and doing research on how to best go about it? Do you just love motorcycling and enjoy reading about it when you're not in the saddle? Well, if any of these examples apply and you have some time to read about what you'd rather be doing, then I have some recommendations -- for and against, as it were. Please enjoy my motorcycle-specific book reviews.


Jupiter’s Travels: Four Years Around the World on a Triumph: Ted Simon A snapshot of a 70's ride around the world by a journalist (not really a motorcyclist at first) with a jones for adventure travel. The author holds little back, documenting his experiencing unwincingly (I winced often as I read this book). No support team, no real plans, no fear. Quite a book. Quite a man. A true pioneering motorcycle adventurer.

One Man Caravan: Robert Edison Fulton Jr. Not too bad for a 1932 motorcycle ride around the world. I've gone through a few of these motorcycle books in the recent past (see my other reviews). Some were really good, others not so much. This book by Robert Fulton is not too shabby for a 1932 account of a 'round the world motorcycle ride. And not as dated as one would think. I kept thinking to myself as I read this that the stories aren't that unfamiliar and sound like the author might've just finished the ride.

Some may cringe at Mr. Fulton's very non-politically correct manner of describing foreign cultures. I wasn't offended in the least and accepted his descriptions as "snapshots" of the past. Hey, the guy doesn't like monkey meat or the manner in which the animals are prepared for cooking -- and he said as much. If you are prone strict PC reading or easily offended by those that aren't, perhaps a more modern telling of a motorcyclist's travels would better suit your needs. If you want to read about a pioneer's experiences in an easy-to-read style, this book is for you.

One thing is certain--the author respected and admired the people he met as he sojourned through their lands and obviously enjoyed each experience without being patronizing. As well, he's one lucky dude. He lucked into many situations that could've ended or severely hampered his travels.

All in all, I enjoyed this much more than some of the other comparable -- and more recent -- books on the subject.

Long Way Round/Long way Down: Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman With all of the grief these boys have received from critics, it's a wonder that anyone reads the books and watches the video series. But indeed they do. A lot. These series are extremely popular. So they're actors with huge budgets, extensive support teams and unrealistic goals. So what? Their narratives are extremely entertaining and human. Both books document the ride, but more importantly, they show the logistics of taking on such a feat -- warts and all. Blood, sweat, tears and fears -- it's all there for the reader to see, to judge for themselves. And in the end, both books show down-to-earth friends accomplishing what they set out to do.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values: Robert M. Pirsig I enjoyed this profound novel on life, fatherhood, friendship, slipping-away sanity, love and, of course, riding and caring for motorcycles. Not unlike James Joyce's Ulysses, this may be difficult to follow at times, but will be worth the effort. This book has remained with me over the years.

Against the Wind: A Rider's Account of the Incredible Iron Butt Rally; Going the Extra Mile: Insider Tips for Long-Distance Motorcycling and Endurance Rallies; Against the Clock. These three books by Ron Ayres are made for the long-distance rider (LDR). Dry writing but exciting details. Like the title of the first book states, this is an accounting of the infamous IBR by long distance rider extraordinaire, Ron Ayres. Although he was a first-time competitor in the IBR, he managed to do very well, finishing in the top 10. Not too shabby. The last book is a fascinating read describing Ron's Guinness World Record ride visiting the 48 contiguous US states in 6 days and 31 minutes, then setting a new record by adding Alaska in exactly 7 days and 20 minutes. There was some serious teamwork involved, and it was a testament to Ron's character that so many other folks assisted him in achieving this seemingly impossible feat. I enjoy Ron's writing, for the most part -- he writes what he knows and the reader feels as if he's right there on the ride. He can be a bit tedious, explaining every little action in minute detail. He can also come off as curmudgeonly, but maybe that's understandable. These books are three of my favorites in that they show how a mere mortal can overcome apparently unattainable odds to...ride a motorcycle unbelievable distances.

Investment Biker: (On the Road with) Jim Rogers Jim and his leggy model-like gal pal Tabitha made it into the Guinness Book of World Records by riding their BMWs around the world. The bikes were probably not the best ones to use, but, hey, he had money to fix and replace them along the way. And that's one of the issues I had with this book: Mr. Rogers threw money around like it was an afterthought and it apparently crafted the way in which he viewed his international experience. If the regular rider had the option of dropping $3000 to get out of a tough spot, he or she might have a different perspective of the "adventure." I'm not taking anything away from these two travelers, as they rode those Beemers through some rough terrain, to be sure, it's just the manner in which they did it that sticks in my proverbial craw.

And then there's his naive and very opinionated political observations. Since he's very wealthy, all of his views are skewed by mainly financial aspects (For example, "Oh, the USA would be so much better if they'd just keep their hands off my capital those french geniuses!"). Well, that kind of thinking really spoiled the overall feeling of the book. I kept saying to myself: "Just ride your dang bike and shut your filthy rich mouth!" But I say that a lot.

The author's persistence -- and that of Tabitha -- definitely pulled them through some tough situations. And it likely caused some of their grief. He seemed to be saying, "Don't you know who I am?" as he waved yankee dollars under the border guards' noses.

All in all, it's a good and entertaining read. Like many other similar books recounting worldwide adventures on motorcycles, it could've been so much better.


One More Day Everywhere: Crossing 50 Borders on the Road to Global Understanding: Glen Heggstad This book could've been so much better. I got the impression that Glen was a USA apologist who felt that ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE was better than America.

In many, many parts of the book he ridiculed silly Americans for visiting sterile foreign countries and enjoying themselves! And, for shame, they even spent capitalist dollars in ritzy restaurants!

His mantra of, "Why can't everyone be like me?" got old very quickly. While traveling through filthy, corrupt countries where he was robbed and threatened by the "wonderful" natives, he constantly reminded the reader of the evils of America. Classic example: the way he yearned to be back in his beloved California, while three pages later he tore down the USA's way of life as decadent.

No, Mr. Heggstad missed numerous opportunities to write about the facts and keep the America-hating vitriol to himself.

But, like others of his ilk, he just couldn't help himself and all the reader gets from reading his account is a bitter, angry "world citizen" who attempts to shed his American skin by celebrating the "rich" cultures of 3rd world countries.

Another beautiful and ironic example of Mr. Heggstad's naïve and misguided perspective: He ridiculed US State Department warnings as silly and intended to scare Americans from visiting wonderful countries. Hmmm, tell us about your experiences with the "wonderful" natives in Colombia. Were you treated like a world citizen? (SPOILER ALERT: Fore those of you who haven't read Mr. Haggstad's book about that trip, he was taken hostage and tortured by Columbian terrorists...just like the State Department warnings had cautioned Americans about.)

I sold this book for $1 and bought Jupiter's Travels. I have read--and prefer--One Man Caravan; I recommend those two books for those who loving adventure motorcycling AND love this country.

The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles: Melissa Holbrook Pierson A real man-bashing epic short on the motorcycling zen. Oh, what promise this book had and oh, how I enjoyed the first couple of chapters. However, the author's consistent criticism of everything white American soured the entire book for me. I sent it back to Goodwill Industries, from whence it came. Like other reviewers have commented, the start and finish show potential--it's everything in between that really sucks.

While it's apparent that Ms. Holbrook-Pierson has a motorcycle jones, she can't help but spew disdain for white, male, Harley-Davidson riding Americans. Her theme of, "Why can't we all be strong women-- without men-- riding Italian bikes in a true socialist society?" gets old really fast.

The tears she sheds for lost loves seem hollow after the considerable man-bashing dedicated in chapter after chapter of vitriol disguised as. "oh, poor me!" One wonders why she ever married a man and if she's still married.

I find it ironic in one chapter where, while championing her prison pen-pal--a black felon imprisoned for crimes the author chooses to leave out of her narrative--she chooses to further savage the white male motorcycle enthusiast, referring often to that species' penchant for yelling, "TITS" at any and all females.

I can't imagine what took place in this author's past to bring about such hate, but the motorcycle enthusiast would do well to find another source of motorcycle literature. The author's work will find its place not in describing the essence of the bike culture, but instead in joining fellow liberals in documenting/gushing over famous motorcycle lovers like Che Guevara's, "pre-killing-spree" cycling adventures.

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart I just don't know what it is about some folks who can't hide their distaste for Americans. They come to the USA, enjoy our beaches, ride on our roads, see the sights, then go home and spout anti-American nonsense. It's frustrating when the french do it, but, hey...consider the source. But friggin' Neil Peart? One of the best drummers from one of the very best rock and roll bands ever? That really stung.

Worse yet, I read two other books he authored (about cycling and motorcycling). It's apparent the guy can write. Nice writing style, wonderful subject matter -- horrible choice of attacking his core audience.

He's managed to turn motorcyce touring literature into a communist manifesto when there was potential for so much more.

Cases in point: 1) He goes on and on about staying away from fat, dumb, white Americans who seem to keep getting in his way! How dare they try to enjoy the Grand Canyon while SIR PEART is here! At every turn he is grousing about them Damn Yankees and our penchant for having a good time while he's trying to be an "artist." He constantly "lets it slip" that he's "someone famous" but remains perplexed as to why them stupid Americans won't leave him alone. To be fair to Mr. Peart, he carried that crappy attitude all over Cameroon and parts of Europe, too.

2) His political rants fall flat as everyone knows he chooses to reside in California, USA. He even married an American girl. For all the USA-bashing he does, and all of his snide comments about our politics, he somehow manages to leave his beloved canada and grace us with his presence. Thanks, Neil, thanks a whole lot.

Turns out Mr. Peart is just rotten inside, and I doubt that the untimely deaths of his wife and daughter caused it...he just seems like a miserable person altogether.

In a way, reading his books turned out to be like discovering there was no Santa Claus or seeing your hero without his hairpiece. It just ruins the experience and it's never the same. Now I can't even listen to a rush song without hearing the commie chant.

Stick to writing pop lyrics, Neil. And do it from canada if you really hate us that much.

Endless Horizon: A Very Messy Motorcycle Journey Around the World by Dan Walsh For the record, this is the US release of "These Are The Days." Same book, different title.

This piece of work should be on everyone's "not recommended" book list. Like Heggstad's "TWTT", how many times can one man boast of his prowess under the covers in one book?!

No one is going to put this guy in the same class as Ted Simon, and he can't be compared to any serious adventure motorcyclist. His lack of understanding of bikes, other cultures, basic history, politics, geography and social norms is astounding. I'm amazed that the editor didn't inform Walsh of the erroneous information he piled into this...pile.

Regardless, he ignorantly rides through some great parts of the world, blissfully unaware of the facts or anything interesting that he's missing. It's sad really, that he had such an opportunity but was such a putz that he drunkenly rode on by, jotting down his asinine observations between the many women he allegedly beds.

Truly not worth reading -- even if you find it for free.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Turning 45

The age of 45 qualifies as mid-life if you plan to live to 90. The minutes are ticking away and I'll soon slide from the tender age of 44 into the grand old age of 45. I can almost feel the AARP card slipping into my pocket, chiding me to ask for a discount at Denny's.

Unlike some of my friends who find themselves in similar circumstances, I'm going easy into the night. I'm not fighting it. It doesn't worry me or cause me grief. Nope, I'm not losing sleep over this milestone...if in fact this IS a milestone.

All things considered, I'd rather turn 45 than turn blue.

I still feel 26, I just notice more gray hairs (though I wish there were a lot more of them). And my jean sizes have incrementally increased with the years. No, I don't wear a size 44.

I'm sorer now after a long walk or a short run, or when I use muscles I hadn't used in a while.

I wear glasses to watch TV and ride my motorcycle at night. But I don't alert any of my friends or co-workers of that fact.

I'm satisfied where I find myself at this stage of my life. In seasons, this would be late Summer for me. And I'm content.

I'm a resounding success by no means; neither am I a dismal failure. Unlike Ol' Blue Eyes, I have more than a few regrets; they're anchors I drag along constantly. I know I can't change things I've done, so I just live with the fact that my conscience will forever hound me like a deranged ex-lover. In 45 years, I have more good memories than bad, and that's what gets me through the day.

I've traveled around this great country on a motorcycle. I've seen Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and Central and South America. And I've seen them "the good way."

And I know I'll see even more of this world. The good way.

I've been 180 feet under the ocean and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane from a mile over the Mexican border. I've shook the hand and shared a laugh with a standing US President.

Sometimes I've snapped photos of the great things I've experienced, but I have cherished memories of many other occasions where no camera was available (and maybe that's a good thing).

Fun factoid: Google my name and you'll find that there are about 2,510,000 results. Only 3 of them are me, though. Oh, I wish that guy with my name at Woodstock in that great photo was me; alas, it's not...

Folks who knew me at 15 wouldn't recognize me. I'm a completely different person than I was at 25 (and that may be a good thing). I've changed quite a bit since I was 35 and my personality continues to evolve. I plan to be a much better person at 55.

I'm happy to report that I'm in a good place at this point in my life. I am fortunate to be in love with my wonderful wife, who joins me in putting The Lord at the top of our list of priorities. I have a semi-sane family that lives nearby, great health with some pretty good genes, a small circle of friends that I see often (but not often enough), two (count 'em TWO) ex-wives who don't hate me, a decent job, an open mind, a fairly bright outlook on life, a somewhat pleasant disposition (after morning coffee), and finally, I have true hope that the best just might be to come. Yes, good things are happening and I'm prepared to enjoy them.

Forty friggin' five? Eh, it's over-rated. Talk to me when 65 rolls around.

OK, it's 2 hours and 15 minutes until the big FOUR-FIVE. Let's do this.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Motorcycle Superstitions and the Habits of Motorcyclists

An interesting article on motorcycle superstitions:

Bikers like any other facet of society, have their superstitions and quirky things they do (or don't). Here are a few of them.

Blessing of the Bikes

Almost everyone has heard about the "Blessing of the Bikes." I know that the Christian Motorcyclist Assoc. (CMA) performs them, so I wouldn't call it a true biker superstition.

A Blessing of the Bikes is actually religious, and if you're religious it's not hard to understand why you'd want to do it. But there are many non-religious people, who for some reason, make a point to get their motorcycles blessed. And that's when it becomes superstition.

The method is fairly simple. The blessing God wants to bestow is on the Biker not the bike. God is interested in protecting and guiding us, and the biggest blessing available from God is the Blessing of Salvation available only through Jesus Christ.

We start by coming together and the speaker delivers a short message, always leading up to giving people the opportunity to receive the greatest blessing ever offered to man. And it is presented as just that – the opportunity to be eternally blessed by accepting the gift of Salvation through Jesus. After we pray together we ask people to go to their motorcycles where CMA members pray individually with each person. After we pray with the biker, we offer them the CMA “I’ve been Blessed” sticker and the CMA Biker Blessing handout. For more information please visit the Christian Motorcyclists Association web site:

Ride Bells

The little iron bell that hangs from a biker's motorcycle is supposed to ward off evil spirits. As the story suggests, these demons exist on all roadways, and when a motorcycle passes by, they grab on to it and begin chipping away at your good luck until finally you have a crash.

The tingling of the bell is said to irritate these demons and prevent them from hitching a ride on your motorcycle.

BTW, the bell only has its power when someone else buys it for you, otherwise it doesn't work at all. Some vendors argue that it actually has half-power if you buy your own, but this is likely marketing baloney.

Green Motorcycles

Supposedly, a green painted motorcycle is bad luck. The legend has it that the Harleys used in World War II were often sitting duck targets, and many military riders got their butts blasted off them. And since they were painted Army green, it eventually translated into modern folklore.

This one might actually be true. I've read of a guy who had a green Road Glide, and dropped it several times, one time injuring his leg. Then he got the bike repainted, with a different shade of green, and wiped out on it again. From what I could recall, when his bike still had the factory black, he never crashed it.

A Dead Man's Motorcycle

There's a saying that riding a motorcycle that belonged to someone who is now dead is bad luck.

It's not necessarily that that person was killed on the motorcycle, just that he's now dead. Supposedly, his spirit is still riding that motorcycle along the great highway in the sky, and if he sees you riding his bike in the physical world, he'll knock you off of it.

You don't even want to use parts from that bike.

The "Wave"

Ah, yes, the infamous "wave."

Those of you who don't ride motorcycles probably don't know this. Those of you who do ride probably do: Motorcycle riders wave to each other. It usually is a small thing - a simple raise of a few fingers or nod of the head in a lot of instances. In its simplest form, I guess it boils down to camaraderie of the saddle, and personal pride to say to the other rider: "Hey, this is a great sport and I am having fun... how about you?"

It has always given me a sense of community and never ceases to put a smile on my face. It means we're brothers and sisters on the road. Regardless of what some cynics say, the "wave" is not just for noobs. I've been riding for many years now (hardly a newbie) and still wave to other riders.

How many of you have "waved" or gave some other sign of acknowledgment to passing riders, only to have nothing happen in return? Are you offended or insulted by this? Do you "attain happiness" when a passing rider returns your gesture? Do you not wave at all, or is this mannerism completely irrelevant when riding a motorcycle? This topic almost borders on the question: "What is the meaning of life?" and my sense is that it may have the same philosophical ramifications.

I've found that although ANY rider will wave to -- or return a wave from --another rider, there are basically four categories in the laws of equity:

1. Brand equity. This means that if you both are riding the same brand of bike, the odds of a wave transaction are increased.
2. Style equity. If you both are riding the same "type" of bike, such as chopper, rocket or touring motorcycle, then your odds are increased as well.
3. Location. Meeting another rider in the Mojave Desert, on the Haul Road in Alaska or almost anywhere on Route 66 will almost guarantee a wave.
4.. Helmet equity. If you both are either wearing or not wearing helmets - odds increased again.

When riding in the city, or in heavy traffic, it's acceptable not to wave if you are too busy watching traffic and/or using the clutch. As well, waving is generally accepted protocol to passing riders only when it is convenient and safe, and that usually means "on the open road."

It's been said that Harley riders tend to wave only to other Harley riders. same with the sport bike crowd or "crotch-rocket riders."

For myself, I will always wave to the other rider, and always when it's safe to do so, for in that, we all share the spirit of the open highway.

Helping a Fellow Rider: Karma, baby!

Motorcycle technology has advanced to the point where one rarely sees another rider "broke down" on the side of the road, with the exception of an occasional flat tire. Think about that next time you wave to a passing rider. In time of need, the person you waved to may be the only one who stops to help you.

Today, though, it became a lot more - a reminder of what it really is all about.

This mirrors the issue of why motorcycle riders wave to one another. In many instances, we're all each other has.

I've stopped a number of times for riders who look like they might be in trouble. In most cases, the rider is fine and can handle the situation on their own. But I'm sure each of us would appreciate having someone who understood riding (or even just someone to make sure I was okay) there to have our six, so to speak.

I've stopped for lone bikers on the road and offered my cell phone, tools and a drink of water. Mainly, it's really just about the camaraderie, though: Having someone else there on a deserted stretch of highway or alongside a dark freeway.

I've had others stop for me, too. I'll always remember the two gruff-looking Harley riders who stopped to ensure I was OK on the Ortega Highway years back. I was riding an old Yamaha dual sport and had stopped to adjust a loose side panel. I was amazed that these two bikers took the time and effort to get off their bikes and walk back to see if I was OK. I've tried to repay their thoughtfulness by stopping to assist other bikers over the years.

So if you ride - thanks. Thanks for being a part of that family that takes care of each other. It'll come back to you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I had such a good time when I rode the USA 4 Corners Tour ( in 2010 that I always planned to ride it again.

Now the SCMA folks have created a new "X Pattern" version. Riders are still required to visit the 4 corners of the USA, but they must do so by crossing the country and the geographical center of the US (Lebanon, KS) three times. Wow!

I like this idea because it cuts out the hottest and coldest portions of the US (the I-10 in Texas and the I-90 up north).

The rules allow 21 days for the regular tour (I did it in about 10) and 26 for the new X pattern. I thik I can do it in 12, and that includes the return to San Diego.

I'm leaning toward repeating the regular version, though I may still roll through Kansas (once).

Sounds interesting and I may do this in March, April or May of 2012.

Here's the info:


There is a new choice, do the normal USA Four Corners Tour or the "True-X" pattern. The rules of the USA Four Corners Tour remain the same, except for an addition of 5 days: from 21 days, to 26 days to complete the tour. The extra 5 days allows for the additional travel to the Center City, Lebanon, KS.

All riders must pass through the center city three times; three photos, three gas receipts, and three completed Center City Maps (see below for explanation) are to be mailed from the Lebanon, KS post office. All photos, printed on 4" x 6" paper, may be mailed to me after the return home.

The riders are to start at the first of the USA four corners: Madawaska, ME; Blaine, WA; San Ysidro, CA; or Key West, FL. The riders are to take the required photo of the corner map items and mail the gas receipt with the 1st corner map in the logo-stamped envelope provided for your convenience.

The riders are then to proceed to Lebanon, KS the Center City (CC). Travel one mile north and one mile west of town on K-191 to the historical geographical center of the 48 contiguous United States. Take a photo of your motorcycle in front of the stone monument, then go to the Cenex gas station, and obtain a gas receipt. Please mail the first CC map with gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided, at the Lebanon, KS post office. The riders are then to proceed to their selected second USA Corner City. Once the requirements are met at the second corner city, mail the second city map with the gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope. The riders will then return to Lebanon, KS to the CC. This time the riders will take a photo of their motorcycle in front of the Cenex gas station. Please mail the second CC map with the gas receipt, in the logo-stamped envelope provided, from the Lebanon, KS post office.

The riders are then to proceed to their selected third USA Corner City. Once the requirements are met at the third corner city, mail the third city map with gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided.

The riders will then return to Lebanon, KS to the CC. This time however, the photo must be taken of their motorcycle situated at the Lebanon, KS post office. Please mail the third CC map with gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided, from the Lebanon, KS post office.

At this point, the riders will ride to the final USA Corner City. The riders must complete the requirements, and mail the final USA Corner City map with the gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided.

After returning home have all photos processed 4 x 6 inches and mail those to address below.

Once the above is completed, the riders will have officially finished the true "X" pattern USA Four Corners Tour.

The USA Four Corners Tour is operated by the Southern California Motorcycle Association (SCMA). The cost of the Four Corners Tour is $100.00.

If you have any questions email Chairman

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

San Diego roundtrip: Julian, Engineers Road, Palomar Mountain (2-15-10)

San Diego roundtrip I-94, Julian, Engineers Road, Palomar Mountain 2-15-10

How's this for a lazy holiday ride? I received a call from fellow Rocket III rider George on Presidents day morning. The sun was shining and it was 77 degrees.

We met at San Diego's Fun Bike Center where a few folks stopped by to admire our bikes and ask how they, too, could be so cool. George has a black 2005 Classic, I have a blue 2009 Touring. I’ll do the math: that’s 4588 cc’s…

We departed on the 52 to the 125 south en route to the I-94, entering the I-94 east at Campo Road in La Mesa. The I-94 is a really nice route and was the perfect starting point for the day’s ride.

We turned onto Lyons Valley Road at Indian Springs, stopping briefly at Diamond Jacks RV Ranch and Store. Continuing north through the Cleveland Forest our road became Japatul/Lyons Valley Road for a while before becoming Japatul Road (if you're not a local, it's an Indian word pronounced Hop-uh-tool). We went under the I-8 where the road became Highway 79. Where the road splits to Old Highway 80, we remained on the 79 and headed to the Cuyamaca area.

As we circled around Lake Cuyamaca, George pointed up into the hills to the left. I thought: “Up there? There’s nothing up in those hills.” I was wrong, as we soon turned onto Engineers Road. George correctly called this a “get to know your bike” road. Suffice it to say there are some changes in elevation and a few tight curves. Wow.

Engineers Road dead ended into Boulder Creek Road, then we turned north onto Blue Jay Drive. The entire area is picturesque and one can expect to dodge small animals and ride through shallow water flowing across small dips (never deeper than 2-3”). Turning left on Pine Hills Road took us north to Julian Road and the 78/79. After a pit stop for beef jerky, a cold drink and gas top-offs, we headed west a couple of blocks to the 79 north located conveniently at Dudley’s Bakery (popular with bike enthusiasts for pie and motorcycle camaraderie). We hung a left on Mesa Grande Road and the peg-grinding began. Sparks were flying as we traveled through the tight turns “at speed.”

At the 76/Pala Road, we turned left and rode past Lake Henshaw. Have I mentioned that it’s really pretty out here? Well, it is. County Highway 7 (S-7) turned into East Grade Road and that led us to Palomar Mountain. Mother’s Kitchen at about 5000’ is a nice place to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee (there was snow on the ground). We didn’t have any coffee, however, as George was ready to race down S-6, also known as South Grade Road, also known as Palomar Mountain Road. And race we did. Virtually no traffic in either direction allowed us to push it a little bit. My big Tourer couldn’t keep up with George’s Classic. I heard scrapes and saw sparks as he put his bike though the paces. That went so well that we turned right back around and did it again. I think going up the hill was even better. The bike got squirrely when I hit some slick spots going into a couple of the corners “a little fast” but nothing too exciting. The adrenaline was pumping to be sure…

We took a short break at the top before heading down the South Grade Road again. You’d think by the third time I would have had the turns down pat but I was still surprised to hear the satisfying sound of floorboards scraping as I turned into the tight curves.

Heading toward home on the S-6, we passed Harrah’s Rincon Casino on our way to the I-15 at Escondido. The traffic on I-15 south was heavy but moving and we made time heading down the slab.

George peeled off near Mira Mesa; I continued south to La Mesa with a smile tough to conceal. THAT was a day of riding!

I rolled into my driveway 6 hours and 200 miles later wondering how many other great undiscovered rides (by me, anyhow) are still out there? Thanks to the twisties, my pegs were considerably more scraped. I was a bit tired but happy with a great ride.

OK, where to next?

Ride Report: Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks (2009)

Ride Report Yellowstone Glacier Parks 2009

(OK, I didn't write this one --my friend Randy did-- but I participated. Enjoy!)

This ride only included one SoCal Member (Randy Love) and two of his old friends from work (David Talley and Dan Diego). Dave and Randy headed out of Orange County on Sunday, June 7th at about 8:00 am and met Dan on the Cajon Pass at around 9:30. We cut off on Hwy 395 in route to Mesquite where there's a great breakfast place on the right just over the bridge. After breakfast, we got back on I-15. It was a straight shot from there to Mesquite, stopping only for gas. We only had two meals a day on this trip which consisted of breakfast after about an hour on the road and dinner once we stopped for the night. No lunch stops. Hey, I lost 4 pounds on this plan!

June 8th, We left Mesquite and stopped in Saint George for breakfast and Radio Shack so I could purchase an AC charger for my MP-3. It's nice to have music on those back roads. After breakfast, it was off to Zion with a stop in Springdale to check out a few of the shops. We decided early on that this was to be a "NO RUSH" trip. We planned this trip to take in the sights at a slow pace and planned to stop anywhere something interested us.
After leaving Zion, we continued through the Zion tunnels and on to Mt. Carmel where we picked up scenic Hwy 89. We stopped in Panguith for an early dinner. It's a great little Texas style BBQ place we found on the 2007 Brice, Zion, Grand Canyon trip. After dinner, me mounted up and headed to Richfield for the night. This route gets 5 stars for scenery with it's lush river valleys, meadows and ranch country.

June 9th, I screwed up leaving Richfield as I-70 splits off of Hwy 89 in Salina Utah. I had planned to continue up 89 and really should have been using my GPS because there are no signs whatsoever directing travelers towards Salt Lake City or Provo in Salina!!! By the time I realized my mistake, I had taken the group 60 miles towards Green River Utah on I-70!!! We decided to continue on to Green River because it would have taken longer to go back. We took a butt break in Green River and gassed up. Dan fired up my GPS and I led the guys down Hwy 191 to Hwy 6 and eventually made it to Evanston Wyoming before dark even though my screw up probably took us over 200 miles out of the way. It was a beautiful ride though and we would never have seen it if I hadn't screwed up. It started to rain about 50 miles from Evanston and rain fell heavy all night at the hotel in Evanston.

June 10th, We hit the road (in the rain) the next morning taking Hwy 189 all the way to Jackson Hole. This was the most rain we saw on the entire 13 day trip and we were in full rain gear all day on June 10th. Although we had some rain nearly every day in Wyoming and Montana, the showers were brief and light and we never needed the rain gear again. The last 50 miles coming into Jackson gets another 5 stars for it's rushing Hoback river which crosses under the highway several times prior to coming into the Jackson valley. What a beautiful area. We checked into the Motel 6 (which I would NOT recommend) and kicked around in Jackson for awhile. Very neat little town although a bit pretentious with it's fufu high dollar cowboy/western stuff. It was still early so we rode out to the Tetons for a pre-dinner run. We then found a great little Mexican place for dinner in Jackson and went back to the hotel.

June 11th, It's back through the Tetons this morning where motorcycles pay $20. That price includes both the Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park for a 7 day period. We took the scenic route through Tetons NP checking out all the lakes, rivers and nature centers. A 7 star scenic area!! It's time to head for Yellowstone.'s where it gets rough, the sign said, "pavement ends 5 miles ahead, loose gravel, flagmen, expect delays." Loose gravel my A@@!! Try sloppy, muddy, wed muck with some gravel mixed in. 11 miles of it!! By the time we hit pavement, our bikes looked like mud pies made into the shapes of motorcycles. You can imagine how crazy that made me! We pushed on to Old Faithful just as it was doing it's thing and then crossed the park to the West Yellowstone side and our rooms at the Best Western, Westin Inn. What a neat little town West Yellowstone is. I would call it a counter culture cowboy town. Several great restaurants and unique shops. There's even a bike related shop that carries all kinds of T-shirts, quality leather gear, biker sunglasses and several types of motorcycle oil. We booked three nights here in West Yellowstone. There are three Best Western's in town so make sure you book the BW Westin Inn if you go. Very nice and there's a full service launder-mat next door.

June 12th / 13th, There are 2 large loops in Yellowstone Park and we toured one each day checking out all the thermal features. One of the loops reaches 11 thousand feet and we experienced our coldest day up there, 41 degrees. Everything but the road was covered with snow and cars were stopped to watch a bear on a hillside. As cold as it was, we passed on bear watching.
As we were leaving the park each afternoon, we were confronted by large herds of bison crossing the road. We had just spoken to a ranger at the Fishing Bridge Nature Center that told us a large bull bison had charged a couple on a Harley a few weeks prior. The couple jumped clear but the bike sustained substantial damage and had to be towed out of the park.
The next day was especially scary as a group of 12 to 14 mature bulls decided to cross the road right in front of us. These things weigh in at over 2000 pounds and they look pissed off all the time.
One extremely large bull was getting agitated by all the cars and became unpredictable. He started putting his head down and posturing for attack. We edged our bikes alongside the cars to use them as a shield. A ranger then pulled up and started honking at the group of bulls in an attempt to get them off the road. This distracted the bull nearest me so I gave the bike full throttle and went around him.
The day before, a younger bull came directly up to my bike and just stood in front of me. I was looking eye to eye with him and bracing for the worst. He finally lost interest and changed direction. Very scary in deed! I'm not sure I would want to take that chance again. I'm thinking about a rental motor home for next time!

June 14, We headed for Helena on Hwy 287. Another 5 stars for scenic beauty passing near the turn off for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. Folks have gone in there and never come out.
A friend at work has a sister that lives in Helena and we stayed at her home for the night. She informed us of a road closer within Glacier Park that made us modify our plans. We had planed to take the east entrance into the Park the next morning and follow the famous "Going To The Sun Highway" across the park to the West side where we booked our hotel avalanche had blocked the road a few days before. Travelers could enter the park on either side but could only get as far as the barricades which were just about dead center in the park.

June 15th, We are now headed to the WEST entrance of Glacier which turned out to be another beautiful ride on highways 12, 141 and 83. We booked at The Village Inn at Apgar. The hotel is just steps from Lake McDonald and our accommodations were right on the lake. You open the door and there's the lake. 7 stars for shear scenic beauty. It was still early so we headed up Hwy 2 (inside the park) to check out the east side with it's glaciers but...the sky was black up ahead and bolts of lightning were flashing through the skies. Dan pulled over and said, " do you guys feels about riding up the west side of the park as far as the barricade?" We turned around following the river all the way. We parked the bikes at the west barricade and took a hike into the forest on nature trails. We saw a white mountain goat perched on a cliff about 700 feet above us. The sun doesn't go down up there until about 9:45 pm. It really looks like you're in Canada with the jagged snow capped mountains in the distance and the lakes and rivers in the foreground.

June 16th, We're taking scenic Hwy 93 this morning in route to Salmon Idaho. Hwy 93 goes all the way from Montana to Las Vegas Nevada. We had breakfast and gassed up in Kalispell. We then came upon Flathead Lake. I don't know the exact size of this lake but I would wager it's 3 times the size of Tahoe. It took almost an hour just to get around the west side of the lake. It's also every bit as beautiful as Tahoe. We then hit Missoula. Getting through Missoula on 93 was a bit of a pain with several long signals. I thought I was back in Orange County and then, you'll never guess.... another construction zone!! Basically 15/20 miles of dust, uneven mud and gravel. There was a payoff though.
As you wind into the hill country between Pinedale Montana and Salmon Idaho, you are following the Salmon River in an area that turned out to score a 10 for scenic beauty. I would live up there if I could afford to. This was the most beautiful country on the entire ride. We saw a herd of big horn sheep right next to the road. It's all ranch land, wide valleys, grassy meadows, pine wood mountains and the rushing Salmon River following you all the way. Breathtaking country! We stayed in Salmon idaho at a hotel that was right on the river, found a great place to eat and turned in for the night.

June 17th, We headed for Twin Falls today and stood on the big bridge where only a mile upstream, Evil tried to jump the Snake River in his rocket powered thing-a-ma jig! Naturally it crashed. It said Harley Davidson on the side of it so, what did he expect? We continued on to Jackpot Nevada and stayed at one the Casino's for the night. Prime rib with all the fixings - $5,95 but the scenery is starting to fade into your basic bland! We are in Navada after all!

June 18th, We headed out and got as far as Hwy 93 and I-80 and stopped for breakfast. This is where Mr. Talley said goodbye and headed west on I-80 to Napa where an old friend of his lives. He would then take the coast to Monterey to visit his X-wife. Dan and I continued on to North Vegas and booked a room at Lucky's Casino. It was now 99 degrees and the scenery in the last 100 miles was a big "0." We did see a few pronghorn antelope along this stretch though. I don't know how they live in that heat!

June 19th, It's 8:30 in the morning and it's already 90 degrees in Vegas. It's Vegas to Laguna Hills for me this morning. Dan has to make it all the way to San Diego. It was 101 degrees in Baker and the fun is over folks! Back to the smog, crowds, stupid drivers and THE worst stretch of highway on the planet. Are they EVER going to fix all the deep, basket ball size pot holes on the Cajon Pass and the 91 from Riverside to the 55???? I don't think so.

My total was 3,640 miles (with a couple of screw up's). The other guys did more with different starting/ending points.

I have to put in a plug for the Goldwing here. Not only did it live up to it's reputation as the finest touring bike in the world, it also handled the mud, gravel and dusty roads every bit as well as the BMW GS1150 which is designed for off-pavement conditions. I got 58.6 MPG between Helena and West Glacier at 65 mph with an average mpg of 48.2 over the entire trip. I love that Goldwing : )

See ya'll down the road!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dual Sport Ride: Noobies and knobbies and veterans and carnage. Oh, my.

Well, I asked for it and I got it. Tossed out an idea for a new-to-dual sporting ride on the San Diego Adventure Riders (SDAR) website: Soon after, a veteran rider offered to lead a group of newbies (noobs) on a local ride, just to "break us in" to the local area.

So, on Sunday August 7, at 7AM, we all met at the Carl's Jr in Alpine. Expecting no one but the ride leader (Bike Slut) and two other noobs on big dual sport bikes like my BMW R1150GS, I was surprised to see 9 bikes...5 of which were hardcore dirtbikes (XRs, DRZs, KTMs, etc.). Not fair!

Here's the ride report from the veteran who led us on a 75+ mile ride of the SD area, with a good mix of side roads, dirt/gravel and tough trails:

Wow! This is my first SDAR ride where I didn't know first...

I already KNOW I forgot some names... We had a guy on a KTM 525, that seemed to ride very well; he was there with a buddy on a XR650R...both sporting knobbies and looking like they knew which side was up

We had two GS's... An 1150 (Dan) and a 650 (Aaron)...both on some sort of anakee/tourance tire.

Steve and his buddy Fred (who coincidentally I used to work with) were on new KLR 650s.

We had a guy waiting approval on a 600R with knobbies.

We stopped often (maybe too often for some) and re-grouped...Victoria, Viejas Grade, 79, Pine Creek, Deer Park, Sunrise, Buckman, Morena Stokes, Kernan, then back home.

Great riding, no serious crashes or

Here's Dan Diego at Carl's Jr- beautiful bike... one of the few that didn't taste dirt today... well; he "tasted it"... he didn't "eat it"

He's quite the looker himself, but NOT GAY.

On the Viejas Grade and Pine Creek.

Here's one of the re-groups.

And then... the carnage ensued.

The last one technically isn't from this ride but I like the picture.

All of those last wrecks were from the Kernan Trail at the Corral OHV riding area. I wisely stayed clear of it on my big yellow pig of a bike.

Steve, one of the newer riders, proved to be a tough guy! He must've dropped his KLR 5 times... every time picked it up, got back on, and tried the same obstacle that tossed him... and it was HOT... the bar-end caved in and was stopping his throttle from returning to idle, resulting in a bit of a flip... THAT resulted in a bent clutch lever. His bar was actually bent at the end, which meant we could even remove the bar-end to fix it. but he soldiered on...

After Bob got done beating everybody up he put us in detention.

We all had to take a manners class before riding.

A couple of captions- the upside down XRR- he was going up Kernan...on one of the steep ups, he either hit a rock or ledge and/or grabbed some throttle- bike went forward, front end up, then to the side- impressive indeed...he did injure his ankle a bit, but confirmed he was ok before I snapped a pic- his bike was upside down, facing downhill and tangled in first I couldn't figure out why it was so heavy, but there were vines holding it down.

The fire fighter pic- they stopped us at the top of Viejas Grade...pick-up truck had slammed into a utility pole...he told me "pole is about knocked over and it is too dangerous to proceed." I told him "we are San Diego adventure riders...we laugh in the face of danger...we are riding dirtbikes with street tires...stand aside and let us through"

He sized us up, and figure he should let us pass...said something about some guy named "derwin" as we rode away

It was nice to have so many new members along, and I hope everybody had a good time...

Had a great time today... learned a lot and really appreciated the ride leader's help and pointers. Looking forward to future rides and building skills.

A rider from another group commented that he met the crowd coming down from Four Corners and had an "almost" moment with a Yellow Hippopotamus. Glad I was hugging the inside line. (That was me.)

Steve on the KLR... in retrospect, he probably should not have ridden Kernan, but as he put it "that's why I got a KLR and joined... to push the limits and learn some stuff".... I am sure he learned a lot, and saw a little of what the KLR can do. Once his bar bent, he had his hands full, then when his clutch bent he was really handicapped. I offered to switch bikes the rest of the way up, but he sacked up and said "nope; I'm going to do this." I really did not expect any carnage, but we ride dirt bikes... stuff happens

I want to jump on the bandwagon of those thanking the ride leader for a great ride. Your experience and patience were much appreciated. Actually, there were some really great riders (everyone but me, really) and everyone was nice and welcoming. The route you picked was top notch and I know I'll be getting out there again soon. The Kernan? Maybe not quite yet.

BTW: The way you chose to ride the day with street tires for a couple of noobs was classy.

responds the Ride Leader: Ok, everybody keeps beating me up about the Kernan...The Kernan was absolutely not the plan...but we had 3 guys with knobbies that could obviously ride dirt and aspiring dirt riders on bikes totally capable of the Kernan. I "suggested" that Dan not attempt Kernan on his 1150 and double-checked with Aaron (GS650) and Steve (KLR650), then let grown men make up their own minds...I rode sweep and helped pick up a few bikes and coach where appropriate...I offered to ride back down with an injured rider and offered to ride another riders bike through a steep uphill and a rock garden. For anybody that wants legitmate "teaching" I'll be the first to admit I am not a good teacher. Some things that I do well, I have no idea what I am doing.

Some things I do poorly, I don't even know why I do what I do...for every "tough" dirt section on this ride, I had a very pleasant and easy alternative route.

There was NO peer pressure whatsoever (as far as I saw)...

And, as the Paul photo proves- even experienced, talented riders can get upended at times...everybody seemed in good spirits at the last check and Steve wasn't crying about bike damage or dehydration...he was contemplating taking a rawhyde class (carguy and ride-orange teach also)...

All in all: I will call the ride a success...bubbagums was the rider on the 525...I let him lead most of the dirt sections and he did great! His buddy on the 650 rode well, other than one fairly bad tip...

Ray on the 600R overcooked the TIGHT left turn on morena stokes...could happen (has?) To anybody...

So: lesson learned for time, I'll give a little more warning on is a tough call with people you don't know- they had all navigated Deer Park easily, but maybe Kernan was a little too big of a next step. Next week-intermediate dirt ride

Says the new guy with the (once) clean and new and undamaged KLR650: No complaints from me whatsoever, and I'd do it again -- but hopefully a little better the second time around. I didn't buy my KLR to ride to bike nights looking like a poser (like those raised trucks that have never seen the dirt) -- I do want to get out and explore and build my skills. I accept
that I'll drop the bike now and again and all that comes with that. If I stay entirely in my comfort zone then I won't improve as a rider. The scenery riding up the trail (Pine Creek?) to Sunrise highway alone made
the entire morning worthwhile. I'll get a more experience before tagging along on an intermediate ride so as not to slow others down, but I'd be
game for anything up to and including what we did on Sunday. My KLR still had the original tires (about 50% worn) and I'm getting some more aggressive tires to put on before the next outing. Not sure if that really would have made a difference on this ride, but I think I'd have been more
confident in what the bike could do with my limited experience level and perhaps helped with the mind over matter in the more technical parts. Can't say enough to thank the ride leader for a great ride and his patience and help!