Friday, November 23, 2018

Stahlratte sails from Panama to Colombia...without me

Thanksgiving Day. Bit of a sad day. Yeah, I’m surrounded byfamily, enjoying some great food, watching the Macy’s parade.  But there’s someplace I’d rather be.

You see, today is the year’s final sailing from Panama to Colombia on the Stahlratte. And I was supposed to be on board. Ah, well...

As many of you might recall, I retired, moved far away and was looking forward to a motorcycle adventure to Ushuaia, at the tip of South America. And all was going according to plan...when I busted myself up in Baja. The doctors asked me to give it a year before trying anything crazy.  That pretty much scuttled any plans I had for a 4-6 month ride around Latin America.

So as I said goodbye to family and packed up the leftovers, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret at not being on that boat. Ah, well...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tampa Triumph Rocket Riders Head East in Search of BBQ

I don’t know what it is about seeing a row of Triumph Rocket III motorbikes lined up waiting to roll out, but I sure do like it. And that’s the sight I witnessed this morning in Ruskin/Sun City Center, Florida: Three nice Rocket III Tourings ready to go. 

It was brisk when I rolled out to the meeting place—not even 60 degrees yet. The sun was out and the skies were blue—the makings of a perfect day to ride!

I met PreStaged and PaddyO at about 9:30 and my wife rolled up to snap a couple photos. We we’re in the road after a brief discussion about tires and oil (just kidding!). 

We departed the Home Depot parking lot in Ruskin/Sun City Center and headed east on the 674 through towns such as Wimauma, Balm, Ft. Lonesome, and Streamsong. This is truly “Old Florida.” Lots of phosphate mining in that area. 

We turned north on Hwy 37, then east on Hwy 630. Almost immediately, we turned north on Old Highway 37 and passed through the tiny little town of Bradley Junction. 

At Pierce, we went east on Pebbledale Road, them almost immediately turned north on Bonnie Mines Road.

We continued north on Bonnie Mines Road until we hit the 60 and went east for a few miles then turned south on Agricola Road/Hwy 555 right before Bartow. We crossed SR 640 and then turned east at the 630 until we hit Highway 17/98 at the small town of Historic Fort Meade. We rode south for just a few miles to the town of Bowling Green where we stopped to eat at Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ. 

It was there that I apologized for all of the railroad crossings—we must’ve gone over a dozen or more! That’s phosphate mining for ya...

Leaving the BBQ place, we went south toward Wachula, turning west onto the 62 and rode across toward Parrish at Hwy 301. That was 40 miles through some cow pastures and citrus groves. Really nice. 

We turned north at the 301 and ended up back in Sun City Center at the 674. We all filled up at the WaWa gas station there and said our goodbyes.

This was a nice ride with little traffic, truly great weather and miles and miles of farmland and citrus orchards The entire ride took us under 3 1/2 hours for the 120-mile loop. I enjoyed it very much and I hope they did, too. 

I headed home as the other two mapped out the Tail of the Gecko ride. Can’t wait to hear about that!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A nice Sunday ride through some south central Florida backroads

Took the KLR out for a nice Sunday ride today. Only 140 miles round trip...all pavement...through some truly spectacular South Central Florida backroads. 

Filled up with Ethanol-free gas before I left. It was .65 cents more a gallon than unleaded fuel, but maybe worth it as the ethanol causes grief in my carbed bikes.

Saw little towns like Wimauma, Balm, Fort Lonesome, Mulberry, Bartow, “Historic” Ft. Meade, Wachula and Parrish. Stopped in Zolfo Springs for some tacos. Not too shabby. 

Just beautiful country, and nice weather...a perfect combination for a Sunday bike ride.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Big Loop: Florida to California and back: June 2018

I have a little time “between jobs” so I planned a little unplanned ride. A bunch of my motorcycle enthusiast friends—mostly recently retired guys with time on their hands— inspired me to get my bike out on the road. So I threw a leg over my big Triumph yesterday morning and left Tampa Bay for a 5k + mile ride to CA and back.

I had a little scare when my rear tire got squirrelly at about 60 MPH in a lightning storm. Pucker factor 10! So that first day I only made it 600 miles, to Gautier, Mississippi, before stopping to get out of he rain. My rear tire fishtailed in heavy rain and heavier traffic so I decided to call it a day. My iPhone was soaked and that was a $1k ordeal.

The next day I made it 680 miles to Kerrville, Texas. It was a hot and uneventful ride. I’d left Mississippi early and went right through Louisiana. I missed Houston traffic but caught the late San Antonio traffic. The weather wasn’t bad at all. A little warm at times but tolerable. Stopped in Kerrville, Texas for the night.

I was so wet from the Florida to Mississippi soaking that my jacket didn’t dry until Houston and my gloves finally dried out in San Antone! Good times.

On the 3rd day, I was feeling so good I thought I’d just ride until I got tired. I made 600 miles by the time I arrived to Deming, New Mexico but I kept rolling along. By the time I stopped at my friend Dave’s place in Escondido, I’d ridden 1,240 miles. And I felt great. #IronButt

I was able to relax and hang out with some very cool friends and family for a few days. Doug and Daisy put me up for a few days and I met fellow riders almost every day. I was able to see my mom and little brother but missed seeing my dad by only an hour. On Sunday the 17th, a friend and I rode down to Ensenada for fish tacos. We entered Mexico at Tijuana and exited at Tecate. A quick, easy and fun half-day ride.

On the 22nd, I hopped on the I-8 east and rode 400 miles out to Mesa, Arizona to see my friend, Steve. The next day, he rode up to Prescott with me, stopping to see the Granite Mountain Hotshot memorial and the Kirkland Restaurant and Bar on the way. I then rode the rest of the way to my friend Jon’s house in Paulden. The following day I got on I-40 east and rode out to see my brother and his wife near Albuquerque.

I left the following day with no plan as to where I’d end up. I passed through Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas before stopping for the night in the Ozarks. That was a 750-mile day with some nice scenery. The next day I intended to ride 1,100 miles home, but a flat tire in Montgomery, Alabama kept my riding to 600 miles for the day. I’d passed through Mississippi and Tennessee without even seeing the border signs.

I was up early on the 27th, my final day of riding, with just 500 miles to go. I headed south on Highway 231, a connector to I-40 and I-10. The skies threatened rain but I didn’t get any until I was close to Tampa.

When I rolled into my yard at 2pm, I’d done over 5,300 miles in 15 days. The bike performed well and the weather cooperated for the most part. It was exactly the kind of ride I needed.

Now...I suppose it’s time to get back to work.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Motorcycling: Lifestyle or hobby

I read an article on men’s hobbies this morning and motorcycling was mentioned. I sure do enjoy the motorbike lifestyle. I’ve met some of my favorite people on bikes.

Whether riding cross-country or tinkering in the garage, plenty of men enjoy being a motorcyclist. This hobby is sure to reward its practitioner in more than just gas mileage and technical knowledge, though — books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Shop Class as Soulcraft argue for the many mental and philosophical benefits of motorcycling as well:

“In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” — Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance