Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"You get what you pay for." How many times have we heard that phrase? We usually hear it (or say it) during a discussion of some inferior product that failed sooner than we expected.

Yet, the idiom is true both ways, for high quality products as well as no quality products. I am testing it again myself in regards to motorcycle tires.

In about 22 months of riding I have watch Lady's odometer turn past 28,000 miles. Not too bad for an Ohio rider where there is only about 6 or 7 months of riding weather. But like many riders in less temperate climes, I ride all year, as long as the temps are above 25ºF and there's no ice or snow on the roads.

In the course of those miles, I replaced the original rear tire, an IRC brand 170/80 15", at about 18,000 miles. I put on a Dunlop K-555 of the same size and had to replace it this week after about 10,000 miles.

The K-555 cost around $120 and the tire I replaced it with is a Metzeler ME880 at a cost of about $175. I'm hoping I can get at least 45% more miles from a tire that cost about 45% more.

We'll see.

Of course, the trade off with a longer lasting tire, is a less sticky rubber and less traction. But since Lady is a cruiser that spends more time on interstate highways (my daily commute) than on a grand prix road course, I should be OK.

Ride Safe!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

After two and a half days of hard riding and one day of sight seeing, John, my traveling companion, and I finally made it to Gillette, Wyoming where we met up with the 20 riders and 12 bikes that had traveled from California. Our destination for the next day was Spearfish, South Dakota by way of Devil's Tower.

John knew this area pretty well, and was coaxed into leading the group. It was a task that he later admitted was extremely nerve racking, making sure everyone was still together and that his speed (usually 4 or 5 mph over the limit) wasn't too fast for the group.

We made a loop around the formation and then meandered to Spearfish, SD where we checked into our hotel. This would be home base for the next couple of days.

We visited several historic towns, places I call "show towns", including Deadwood, Lead, and Keystone. I label them "show towns" because several times a day actors in 1890 period costumes stage gun fights or will fire their six shooters to get tourist attentions.

Saloon No.10 in Deadwood is an establishment of some notoriety. Wild Bill Hickok, the town's lawman, was murdered there while playing poker. In his hand he held a pair of aces and a pair of eights, what became known as the dead man's hand.

Even though our visit was nearly 2 weeks before the Sturgis Bike Rally, motorcycles were everywhere. One that caught my eye was this custom paint job honoring the US Air Force.

And then there was this piece of chrome we saw at the Rapid City Harley Davidson dealership.

Oddly enough - or perhaps not - the bike's owner is from Ohio.

Mounted on the front of the forks is a chrome plaque dedicating to bike to his brother.

John, myself and Kenny, from the California group took the time to visit Mt. Rushmore...

And the Crazy Horse Memorial...

Then, just like that, it was time to head for home.

The weather for the return trip was dominated by a Canadian high pressure area that kept temperatures cool, barely reaching 70º F. The first day of the return trip was sunny but cool. The subsequent days of our return we rode at the edge of the cold front that brought the cooler temps and didn't see the sun again.

Here are some stats for the trip:

Totals miles: 3,396 miles
Longest day: 622 miles
Average per day: 450 miles
Food: $148.00
Fuel: $206.00
Hotels: $258.00 per person

Spending a week with friends on 2 wheels: Priceless

I had only one small issue with Lady. During the return trip, one of the riders to my rear moved up beside me and asked if I had lost my cell phone. Knowing that my cell phone was packed away, I answered, "No."

Forty miles later I stretched out my left leg and started to place my foot on the highway peg when I realized the peg was missing. That was no cell phone! That was my peg!! Should have used blue Locktite!

I'll replace the peg this week, but if anyone finds a large Kuryakyn ISO peg near the 25 mile marker of I-80 in Iowa, drop me an email.

Finally, a couple of thoughts about a trip like this...

1) Like Irondad said to me before I left, "enjoy yourself."


2) Like Peter Fonda said to the Wild Hogs at the end of the movie, "Lose the watches."

Ride Safe!

You can see the entire album by clicking the slide show above.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It is obvious now, looking back at some of the pictures posted by the riders that started their trek in California, that the best part of the trip was the west coast. But I didn't have 2 weeks to dedicate to the trip. I had only 1 week. So I made the best of what was available to me and spent my week traveling to Gillette, Wyoming to meet the 12 bikes and 20 riders near the end of their trip.

To get there, it was a mad dash on interstate highways, mostly, over the course of three days. There's a whole lot of country side between Columbus, Ohio and Cactus Flats, South Dakota and most of it looks the same. The wind farms west of Des Moines, Iowa were interesting, having never seen one in person before. But the scenery was painfully similar for nearly 1,000 miles, no offense to Indiana, Illinois, or Iowa.

The most exhilarating part of the trip was riding through the worst thunderstorm ever in Sioux City, Iowa. You know the weather is bad when cars start pulling over to the shoulder!

Afterwards, the skies turned blue, the sun came out, and we motored on to I-90 west. We traveled I-90 until we arrived at Cactus Flats where John and I toured the Badlands National Park.

The route through the park took us about an hour and a half including several stops for photos of vistas and desolation. When we exited we were just minutes away from Wall, South Dakota, our destination for the night. We had the entire next day to travel 100 miles to Gillette, WY and meet up with the rest of the group. Some sight seeing was in order.

On the way to Sundance, WY

The Sundance, WY city jail. The locals said it was the jail where the Sundance Kid was held but since he and Butch Cassidy died in Bolivia in 1903, this wasn't the same one.
We hooked up with the California riders later the third day in Gillette, WY, about 40 miles away. It was good to see my friends, hear their stories, and tell a few of our own.
After dinner and a good night's sleep we headed for Devil's Tower.
To be continued...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Home, Safe and Sound

I'm finally home , safe and sound after 3,394 miles to Gillette, WY and back. What an incredible trip, a great learning experience and an absolute blast.

I'll have stories and pictures as soon as I find my card reader - arrrrgh! - but for now just one word of advice: make this trip with good friends. You'll want someone to share the "ooos" and "aaahs."

Ride Safe

Friday, July 10, 2009

More pics from my homeward bound friends...

Somewhere near Mount Rainier.

I bet they'll welcome the warmth of the Midwest after experiencing the cool beauty of the Pac Northwest.

I leave today sometime around 3:00pm and hope to get most of the way across Indiana before calling it a day. The distance we need to travel sorta dictates when we leave. If I could be on the road right now, I'd would. But, I need to complete some last minute work at the office.

So, my neighbor John and I will leave this afternoon. The bad thing about leaving at that time is the rush hour traffic in Indianapolis and driving into the sun from about 7:00pm on. I never thought I'd say this, but it's good that there is a high probability of precipitation in Indiana this afternoon and hopefully the clouds will keep the sun out of our eyes.

My Facebook friends should look for blurbs each day. Everyone else, I'll be back in 8 days.

Ride Safe!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More pics from the road...

Someone said they had big trees in northen California...

The Oregon coast

Kelli says this picture is of the Oregon coast but I kinda doubt it; the sun is shining! Her posts to Facebook say the weather is improving for them which means warmer and dryer. My outlook always improves when the sun decides to shine.

Four days until I leave for Gillette, Wyoming where I'll meet up with them. Can't wait.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Don and Kelli are the sweep riders of one of the two groups of six bikes, bringing up the rear so to speak. Kelli has a mobile device and is providing pics for those of us not fortunate to make the trip or even ride at all.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The streets of San Francisco

At one of the meetings prior to their departure, the riders were strongly encouraged to maintain the same riding positions. That way you become familiar with the riding habits of those around you. So any of the riding pictures Kelli takes will probably be of the back of Curt and Sharon's heads.
Curt and Sharon are the riders that ran into a deer near Marietta last year. No deer on these streets, though. They did swap their half helmets for full face models. A wise decision, I suspect, plus they have a really cool bluetooth intercom. I love toys like that.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Picking up the 12 bikes from the San Jose HD dealer. The adventure begins...