Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Getting Lemonade from a Lemon: Tampa to Perry and back, November 2022

The four of us had planned a 4-day ride to see Florida’s historic Highway 30A along the gulf coast just southwest of Tallahassee.  As well, we wanted to celebrate the life of Joe Bonacuse, a fellow rider who passed away recently.  Well, it all fell apart when one of the riders hurt himself and another rider had to leave town… so we postponed the ride. 

I’d booked hotels for three nights along the planned route but was only able to cancel two of them.  We all agreed to eat the cost of the hotel in Perry, Florida, which was to be our first day’s stop.  

While the four of us were having lunch the other day, one of the other riders asked why he and I shouldn’t just take an overnight ride up there anyhow, since we had hotel rooms already paid for.   While we both agreed that there wasn’t much—if anything—to actually see in the town of Perry itself, the ride would be nice.  

So we agreed to meet on Monday morning and ride to a Perry and back…just because.  

I met Paul at the first rest area after the toll booth on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Monday at 9am.  He was on his badass Harley and I was on my Beemer.  We’d both dressed for warm Florida weather but it was a bit brisk.  NOTE: 70 degrees is “brisk” for us!  We both donned sweatshirts and off we rode.  

Paul had planned the route up through St. Pete, Clearwater, Oldsmar and Odessa before getting on the Veterans Expressway (589).  

It turned out to be a pleasant day of riding and we reached Crystal River in time for lunch.  After some BBQ at a place where we’d eaten before, we headed north on the 98.  

This part of Florida is full of small towns that look pretty much the same.  While some are remain fairly vibrant—Chiefland is an example—most are slowly disappearing, victims of environmental events and lost industry.  

We passed through towns like Inglis, Otter Creek, Fanning Springs, Salem and Athena, the human populations erased and replaced by boarded-up shops, rickety houses and abandoned buildings. Towns once full of people are now dusty streets and empty structures surrounded by ghosts and the memories of what used to be.

Paul pointed out some mansions in various states of disrepair and I remarked that even now they look stately, evidence that there was once money in these parts.  What’s left are once-ostentatious houses and ubiquitous Florida Historic Heritage Site signage.  

We arrived to Perry by 3pm and settled in.  The famous seafood place where we intended to eat was closed so we chose the 5th best place….an unimpressive Mexican restaurant down the street.  

Later, over drinks in chairs outside of our rooms, Paul and I discussed past and future rides.  We spoke of motorcycles, golf and other stuff guys on the road talk about. We turned in early because Perry, Florida doesn’t have much of a night life.  

The next morning we grabbed coffee and pastries at a local place before heading back via Highway 27.  

Again, we passed through many small towns—or the skeletons of former towns—like Mayo, Alton, Fort White and High Springs.  At the latter, we turned south on the 41 and made our way through Newberry, Archer, Raleigh, Williston, Romeo (with its very cool and very abandoned charcoal ovens still visible from the 41) and Inverness before stopping for lunch in Floral City. 

We continued on the 41 south, encountering traffic in Brooksville.  We took the 54 east to the 75 south and reached home within the hour.  

My total mileage was right at 500 miles.  

A ride that wasn’t supposed to happen turned into a nice little overnighter through some Old Florida backcountry.  

Now…the postponed Historic 30A coast ride planning continues.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

To Panama…the Best Way: March 2024?

So here’s what I’m thinking for a dual sport adventure— possibly next year or more likely Spring of 2024:

I want to take a small group of guys on a ride from San Diego to Panama, crossing back into the US in Arizona, New Mexico or Texas.

I don’t have an itinerary or a solid plan yet but I just want you to put it in the back of your mind and think about it. 

How long, time-wise? I don’t know that yet and I’ve been asked.  I know for a fact that it could be done— Florida to Panama and back—in 10 days as some guys on BMWs just did it…but that’s just ridiculous. I’m going to try to do it in about 21-30 days total because I want to have fun without rushing.

When? Likely in the Spring. I’d like to plan for good weather and stay away from rain. I can ride in hot weather and cold weather but I’d prefer to not ride in wet weather if I don’t have to. March, overall, has the lowest percent chance of rain.  

Which bike? Unsure if I’ll take my trusty KLR or my big BMW…or something else.  But this is not a ride for a smaller bike. This would definitely be a dual sport ride because there would be an awful lot of dirt …however there’s also gonna be an awful lot of pavement. 

I plan to start in San Diego, go down into Baja. At La Paz we will take the ferry across to the mainland, landing in Topolobampo/Los Mochis. 

Once there, we cut into the mainland—maybe do Copper Canyon—then south through the decent parts of Mexico and the Central American countries. 

I’d like to move along at a decent pace but stop to see the pyramids, as well as good breaks in Costa Rica and Panama.

On the return, we can either follow the same route back north or hit the countries that we missed on the way down, such as Belize and/or Honduras. 

And since we’ll probably be exiting somewhere around Arizona or maybe even El Paso, I may plan Copper Canyon for the way back, going up the mountain instead of down it. But that’s to be decided. 

Some info about that: The elevation in Copper Canyon is between 1600’ and 7800’.  That portion of the ride is mostly dirt. Creel is about 400 miles from the Arizona border.  Then there’s the bridge at La Bufa and the towns of Batopilas and Urique. Definitely something I’ve wanted to do but maybe it’s just too much for this particular ride. 

And so far, that’s all I’ve done regarding the planning phase. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

10th Annual Arizona KLR Ride: Paulden, AZ

Just returned from attending the 10th Annual KLR ride that my friend Jon hosts near his place in Paulden, Arizona.  

This was the 7th ride I’ve attended.  

We usually stay at the Gunsite campground but we stayed at the Raven’s Roost Bunkhouse this time…and most everyone agreed it was a better location.  

There was a pretty good turnout, maybe 25 people in all.  There were three routes this year, led by Jon and two other local riders, Darrell and Charles. 

I arrived a day early and rode to Bagbad for burgers with a few friends. Pavement in, dirt out.  That’s  always a great ride.  

On Saturday, we had a scare as my buddy Doug had a front tire go flat at about 70 MPH.  He was able to save it with minor injuries and almost no damage to his bike.  On a related note, he won his year’s rider’s trophy!

Jon’s wife provided cornbread and chili on Friday night and a huge BBQ dinner on Saturday night.  

As usual, stories were told around the campfire and everyone went home happy.  

Some of the folks in attendance : Senior, Jeff, Craig (original attendees), Chuck B., Dennis, Sal, Charlie, Ray Ray, Darrell, Garrett, Guy, Charles, Brian, and the entire Kitchin Clan. Eagle Mike didn’t attend but sent out a goodie bag, to include the elusive 10mm socket for each rider!

More photos and lies….er, “stories”…to follow.