Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

...and the Oscar Goes To...

The riding year is quickly coming to a close, I think there may only be about 10 good days left before everything freezes up. As the season ends, I've started to reflect on some of the high points I have enjoyed this year. My season will end up being a total of seven months, seven weeks of which I lost due to being out of town or other uncontrollable circumstances. I'm not counting days that I lost due to bad weather because that is just part of a season. Anyway, this takes me down to about a five month riding season.

Overall, I would rate the season as very good. I wish I had more time to take longer rides but I enjoyed all the rides I was able to take. During my five months I rode five different types of motorcycles with varying weight and power specifications. In each case I was able to adapt and learn how to control a new bike in a short amount of time.

The Most & Least Favorites of the year…

Favorite climate for riding: Fog. To me it is the most enjoyable type of weather to ride in especially first thing in the morning. Gliding through it feels like flying through the clouds without an airplane. It is awesome. Someone once told me that dogs like to hang their head out the window in a car because it makes them feel like they're flying, riding in fog must be what it is like. And yes, I know it is the most dangerous weather phenomenon to ride in, it hides deer, obsticles and stopped 18 wheel trucks.

Favorite road segment: The northernmost section of Skyline Drive, the parts where I shot the video.
I hit it at the perfect part of the day, I had the most energy and the most confidence in myself and the bike. It
was definitely exciting with S turns, switchbacks, and nice wide curves. The speeds may have been low by regulation, but the road difficulty made it worthwhile.

Favorite night ride segment: The furthest north section of the circumnavigation of Lake Michigan. My son and I hit it late at night, the sky was clear and the only drawback was the cold. It was a fantastic way to bring in my 51st birthday.

Favorite highway on-ramp: In Grand Rapids, when you go from Highway 131 to the road that takes you to Benton Harbor there is an on-ramp that has to be the biggest curve I have ever seen on a highway. Not only is this thing long, it is well banked and you can take it at significant speed to make it a lot of fun. I almost turned around and went back to do it again.

Favorite group of fellow riders: The group of investment bankers I met at the southern part of Skyline Drive. These guys fit in totally having dropped their normal persona for the freedom of the road and except their Blackberries would never know what they did for a living.

Most memorable person met: Crystal at the Texas Steakhouse near Milwaukee. I don't often get flirted with like that, it was very flattering.

Favorite good omen: After I had been riding for a week or so I started to notice more and more things around me. One of the things that I started to notice most of all was that on almost every ride I took, I was accompanied by hawks in the sky above me. From that point on I almost always saw them flying with me. That is a good omen. Thinking about making a hawk my next tattoo.

Favorite morning view: A few weeks back I was lucky enough to catch the moon setting as the sun was rising. The sky all around the moon was lit up and almost glowing. It was so awesome that I pulled my bike off to the side of the road and sat and watched for a while. I really wish I'd had a camera with me that day.

Favorite saddlebags: Between the bags on my Silverwing, the bags on the Road King, and the ones on the GoldWing.... I like the ones on the GoldWing best for opening and closing, but the Harley bags were the best for actual loading because they loaded from the top. The bags on the Silverwing are good but they load from the side which can make them almost impossible to arrange stuff inside and slam shut without losing a finger.

Favorite aftermarket item: Non Tech: Kuryakin highway pegs. They made riding so much more comfortable on the Silverwing. Tech: Scala Q2 Bluetooth headsets. Simply awesome for riders who want to communicate with each other.

Favorite band to listen to while riding: Bob Seger. Old, new, or anywhere in between Bob understands the feeling of the road. Honorable mention: the Allman Brothers Band.

Least favorite road surface: Gravel. Close runner-up, sand.

Least favorite thing seen while riding: The "Closed at Sunset" sign that was posted on my favorite make out spot on the Colonial Parkway. Seriously depressing.

Favorite place to take a break: McDonald's. Quick, inexpensive food and a nice place to sit and relax for a minute. Also the bathrooms are clean and they have free Wi-Fi

Favorite sexy biker chicks seen: All of them. Are you kidding? Have you seen these ladies?

Favorite chili: The restaurant at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Seriously spicy.

Favorite thing about organized rides: The people. I have met some of the friendliest and warmest folks while on organized charity rides. They're all about enjoying the ride and sharing the joy they find in riding.

Favorite guilty pleasure while riding: I like to “move” with the music I am listening to. It gets worse if I am stopped at a stoplight – although it has never gotten so bad that I have dropped the kickstand, gotten off the bike, and broke into outright dancing. There is a legitimate reason for it; I found it helps me from getting stiff on long rides.

Favorite wingman to ride with: My son. The longer we ride together the more skilled we both get at cruising through traffic and working with each other to make the ride smoother and safer.

Already counting days to riding season 2011.


Monday, October 18, 2010

I Am "You People"

While on my Virginia Adventure, I used McDonald's as my place of choice to take breaks when I was riding. It was extremely hot and I could always count on McDonald's to give me a few things I needed when on the road: an air-conditioned place to sit, free Wi-Fi, a big drink for only a buck, and a clean restroom.

As I cruised from the end of Skyline Drive to the eastern seaboard where my son lived, I stopped  at the McDonald's in Fredericksburg to grab a drink. After getting my drink and the yogurt, I sat down and as I was sitting there writing an e-mail, a man walked up to me and spoke.

“I don't know if you would be interested or not, but my church has an event tonight for you people. There will be music and lots of food. You are welcome to attend.”

I thanked him for the invitation and let them know that I was just passing through. Then it struck me, I have never been one of  you people before.

I was sitting there with my riding boots on, jeans and chaps, leather jacket draped over one of the chairs, and wearing a bandanna. My helmet sat to one side of the table along with my gloves. It was obvious that the Road King in the parking lot had arrived with me. But really, you people?

To be fair, the gentleman was just trying to be nice and I don't think you meant anything derogatory by his comment; he just wanted to let me know what was going on. And that it was going on for you people.

I have never considered bikers to be a subset of society just a group of folks with a shared interest. Like fishermen, or guys who play basketball, I can't think of anyone that would need to be called you people.

Even now, a few months later, when I recall the encounter I am wondering if I should be insulted because I was seen as one of you people, or carry it as a badge of honor because I consider myself one of you people.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Jump On Your Bike & Ride!

Can we take a look at the odometers Johnny....



Total miles: 2361 + 702 (Road King) +1149 (GoldWing)  = 4212 Miles

Total miles = 2248


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Quest for More Cowbell II: The Trip Around Lake Michigan Part 2

North (Cont)

This section of the ride was actually somewhat boring. There doesn't seem to be much between Milwaukee and Green Bay except for flat. The clouds did finally clear and we got some sun that warmed us up. Up to that point we've been riding and about 60° weather and with the riding wind-chill it felt like 50 or less.

One stop we made along the way was briefly in Sheboygan. As explained previously Sheboygan was almost a quest all of its own. The one bad part about being in Sheboygan was the lack of a sign that said "Welcome to Sheboygan". After a 20 min. search, I gave up looking for one and we settled for this sign in front of the museum as proof that we had been to Sheboygan. With that mission accomplished, we jumped back on the bikes and rode.

The sun went down, and we stopped for dinner. We enjoyed a nice meal and grabbed some coffee to warm up. After dinner, we made a brief stop to pick up an extra set of gloves for my son, as his hands were getting very cold.

This day of the journey was going to be the longest because there was no good place to stop what you get north of Green Bay and start coming back down the other side into Michigan near Mackinaw City. What we didn't plan for was how long it had taken us to get to this part of the journey. We were almost 200 miles from where we were going to stop for the night, the sun was down, and it was getting colder. Between where we were sitting and Mackinaw City there were few places and even fewer that would be open late.

There is a section of road as you move from going north to heading west, that is part of a National Forest. As you enter it in informs you that in the next 128 miles there will be only 12 places available for you to pass. As I said, it was dark and as we rode past that sign, I looked into the gully on the right side of the road and saw three deer bounding along in the same direction we were heading. My only fear was that anyone of them would make a left and go up onto the road. None of them did so it was just a nice observation. Somewhere in the first few miles, we went from going north to going...


As we cruised this part of the road, it got darker and the moon came out. The temperature continued to drop first to 50 then to 45 or so. To the right we could see through the trees and sometimes directly Lake Michigan. The moon was behind it and shining on the lake. It was actually very beautiful. If we had taken this part of the route during the day, we would not have seen that, nor would we have seen the stars when they came out. They were magnificent, millions of them since there was no city light nearby.

My son and I kept talking as we cruised through the night, occasionally he would want an update as to temperature and how much further until we were done with this section of our ride. At one point I told him it was 12:15AM and he wished me a Happy Birthday. I kept hoping for something to be open along the section of the road and there never was. Somewhere around three quarters of the way through, he asked if we could stop for a while so he could move around to warm up a bit. I looked out of the temperature it was now 38°. So, we pulled over to the side of the road.

There were no cars on the road as he did jumping jacks and other exercises on the side of the road trying to warm-up. I stretched my legs and arms and tried to get feeling back in my fingers. I was actually lucky because the bike had handgrip warmers and a seat warmer but the wind stole the heat as quickly as it came out. We were both wearing summer weight gloves, which also left our hands cold. He finally came up with an idea to put shorts on over his chaps and jeans to try to keep the part of his body that the chaps weren't covering warm. He said later it worked and helped a lot, although it did look funky.

We jumped back on the bikes and continued to ride. The road itself was very smooth and nicely laid out, the curves were wide and easy to navigate. It was actually fun riding except for the cold. Finally, the miles ticked away and we entered Mackinaw City. The first thing we had to do was fill up the bikes and directly in front of the station was a small café called "Family Food" that seemed to be the only place in town open. So, we went in and sat down.

Because the time zone change, it was way after one but even so, we both ordered coffee. I actually had to open up the creamer for Matt because his hands were shaking so badly. He held onto the coffee and warmed his hands and I did the same. We ate breakfast and drank about 4 cups of coffee each and finally the chill of the road went away.

We mounted our bikes and headed over the Mackinaw Bridge. This is one part that I'm glad we did at night because construction had taken it down to a single lane; I can imagine what the wait was like during the day. We crossed the bridge and then made a right to start heading...


As we were almost out of town, we came across two separate cops who had people pulled over with lights flashing. That warning kept us at the speed limit as we went from there to Cheboygan where our hotel was. We were just over 500 miles for the day.

While on the road, both here and during my Virginia trip, every hotel I ever stayed at was nice enough to allow me to park my bike almost anywhere I wanted around the lobby for security purposes. I always thought this was very nice and tried to be as considerate as possible when parking it so I didn't block any thing or anyone else. This hotel was no different as we parked our bikes just beside the main entrance.

We slept late the next morning and missed our free breakfast. My son had seen a big welcome to Cheboygan sign, so we went there on our way out of town to take a few quick pictures. From there we went to McDonald's and had breakfast, then we hit the road. This part of the trip was a little rushed because we needed to be home by specific time so we could meet up with some other family for dinner.

The rest of the ride was uneventful but also some of the best riding we did. The road was somewhat crowded with many people heading home after the weekend but the traffic moved at a fair pace and we didn't have any problems maneuvering through it. The sun was out, it was warm, and the road had enough curves to be interesting. I shot some video along this part of the route:

My son did this video,  a little more creative than mine and fun to watch:

Overall, this year's Quest for Cowbell was better than last year's. Next year’s will be even better. Isn't that what a quest is supposed to be? Oh, total miles: 1149.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Quest for More Cowbell II: The Trip Around Lake Michigan

Before I talk about how great, the trip was or what a fantastic time I had, I need to talk about the equipment that I used on this particular trip.

I did not ride my Silverwing, I chose instead to rent a GoldWing so I could road test it. What I got was a 2008 GoldWing 1800. It weighed in at just under 1000 pounds and had many toggles, bells and whistles to make a trip smooth and fun. The 1800 engine had power to spare during the entire trip. In addition, even though I did not take it all the way there, it boasted a top-end of 140 miles an hour. You would expect the bike that weighed that much and had that much power to be clumsy when it was sitting still. However, it wasn't. The weight was remarkably balanced and the bike handled at slow speeds just as well as it handled it fast. One additional "geezer guy” feature that the bike had was reverse gear which I found very handy when parked and having to back it out of his parking spot that was on incline. Overall, it was smooth, and quiet, and very easy to handle. Very enjoyable.

Recently, I had picked up a pair of Scala Q2 headsets. The headset allows intercom between up to three motorcycles, a hookup for an iPod, FM radio, and the Bluetooth for your cell phone. This was without a doubt the best accessory I have ever bought for riding with my son. This allowed us to carry on an almost constant conversation during our entire trip. It made the trip more like a joint journey than to individual journeys that happen to be going the same direction.

In addition, for the first time both my son and I would be wearing all of our riding gear. This means, that we were both wearing chaps and our leather vests in addition to our normal safety gear. Later in the trip, all of that leather clothing would come in handy not only to protect her skin but also to protect us from the unexpected cold.

Now on to the trip, once we got on the highway we headed…


The first major destination on our trip was Chicago. It was around 156 miles from the house to Chicago and he gave us a good chance to shake down the bikes and for me to get used to riding the GoldWing. A lot of the ride was interstate riding but it was very enjoyable just the same. The weather was clear and the temperature about 70°.

We were briefly in the state of Indiana; by briefly I mean I think that we were only in the state for about 20 miles before we entered Illinois. Nevertheless, we do get to count it out on our states visited board.

We entered Chicago just as rush hour hit. We actually got very lucky considering it was a Friday. The traffic never totally stopped and we continued to move even at its worst points. It was getting extremely warm though sitting still under the sun. Eventually we got to the far side of the city without incident. The next highway took us…


We exited Illinois and then entered Wisconsin. The biggest difference I noticed between the two states was the fact that we stopped paying tolls every 15 miles. I had been paying the tolls for both bikes whenever we hit one of these stops. However, at the last stop Matt decided that he would pay the toll for us. Therefore, after stopping at the booth I pulled through while he paid. That was when he discovered that he couldn't find his money. I pulled over and parked on the side of the highway then walked back to the toll booth as he held up all northbound traffic until I got there and paid the toll booth guy the three dollars. Fortunately, that was the last tollbooth we had to go through.

Our final destination for the evening was Milwaukee, but as we cruise northward, we passed by the most wonderful aroma of cooking over a mesquite grill and forced us to turn around, go back one exit, and sit down and have dinner. I am not sure why I thought that it would be quick for us to get into a restaurant on Saturday night, but somehow I thought it would be okay. However, when we got into the restaurant it was going to be a one-hour wait. So, we went to the bar and hoped for some seats open up. After about 15 min. to folks left, their chairs and we quickly moved into them.

We ordered dinner and somehow ended up in a conversation involving a pregnant woman and her family on the opposite corner of the bar (who was celebrating her birthday) and a couple that was sitting next to us. Because of the way we were dressed, conversation quickly turned to bikes and riding. With a couple next to assuring their recent adventures and a planned charity, ride the next weekend. Everyone that I have met while riding has been open, friendly, and very helpful. The lady that was sitting next to me had been at the bar for a while and had obviously had a few. It was a little embarrassing as she kept putting her arm around me and her face close to mine -- She didn't meant anything by it she was just being a little too friendly.  By the way,  this is where we spotted our one and only cowbell of the whole trip.  Anyway, eventually our meal came and we chowed down, then went back out to the bikes and headed north again.

The hotel we stayed at was on the south side Milwaukee by the airport. The first day we had written a little over 350 miles and had encountered highways, interstates, Chicago would rush hour, road construction, and tollbooths. At least we were getting some variety.

The weather report for the next day showed a 40% chance of rain. At some point in the middle of the night, I woke up to the sound of thunder and flashes of lightning as the bottom fell out of the clouds and drenched the city of Milwaukee. I woke up early the next morning but because I could hear the rain still falling I laid in bed until I went back to sleep and woke up at a more reasonable hour. Finally, I decided that rain or not we needed to get moving so I woke up my son and jumped in the shower.

We went down, ate our complimentary continental breakfast, and then asked the front desk for a couple of extra towels so that we could dry off the bikes. We went out to the parking lot and dried the bikes off. Neither bike seemed worse for the wear. After we went back, grabbed the last for stuff out of the room, and loaded it onto the bikes the rain started again. Therefore, we pulled up under the overhang in front of the hotel and went back to the Continental breakfast bar have an extra cup of coffee.

After about 15 min. the rain stopped, we mounted up, and went out to hit the highway to go north again. It seemed like the entire interstate in the Milwaukee area was under construction. As we were entering the interstate, my son hit a metal grate in the road, which caused his bike to slip. He and the bike were just fine, but it did cause a slight delay as he took some time to gather his composure before we continued. I remember trip so that we would avoid the interstate, and any more construction. As we were about to head out of town the routing did take us onto the interstate for one brief section. When we were on that section, we saw the sign for the Harley-Davidson Museum.

The Harley Museum was quite impressive and the buildings are beautiful. I liked the fact that if you were on a motorcycle you could park right up next to the front door. It surprised me to learn that there was a wedding going on in one of the conference rooms of the museum. However, I guess for some folks it is quite appropriate. We didn't have much time to spend there, so we didn't enter the main museum area but we did have lunch in the restaurant. Their chili is excellent. If you ever go by there, try it -- that and the peach cobbler. Anyway, with no more time to waste we headed out.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wind Therapy: Deep Reflective Insight into the Psyche of a Man and His Passion For Two Wheeled Freedom

Happy Birthday to me. Today I turn 51. I have been at this blog now for a full year and I have been riding again just a little bit less than a year. In that time I have added five states to the total number that I have ridden a motorcycle in, I have ridden about a dozen different types of motorcycles and I have experienced the thrill of several thousand miles of wind therapy.

This year I added Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana to the list of states that I've traveled through on a motorcycle. I could've added Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia by making a simple turn and going a few miles, but I wasn't going to take the easy way of crossing those states off. Each of these states has their own set of motorcycle laws covering things like helmets, safety gear, and pipe volume but other than that it was the road condition and the intelligence of the other folks on the road that made each one unique.

This year I rode these Hondas: Silverwing 500 & 650, Shadow 700 & 750, and GoldWing 1800. I also put a few miles on these Harley Davidson's: Elektra Glide Ultra Glide, Road King, Street King Ultra, Cross Bones, and Trike. Each bike had their own pluses and minuses. Each brand also had their own quirks. Most of this diversity in riding was not due to the desire of adding numbers but more to give me a flavor of what bikes were out there to help me choose my next one. The three bikes I had the most time on for my Silverwing, the GoldWing 1800, and the Road King. In the end my choice matrix actually adds a bike I have never been on into the mix purely for chrome reasons. So, my narrowed down list is: the Honda GoldWing 1800, the Honda Valkyrie, and the Harley Electra Glide Ultra Glide.

To the best of my estimation I am somewhere over 4000 miles of riding for this season. The variety of roads I've been on is massive. Busy cities (including Washington DC and Chicago), out in the middle of nowhere country roads, well-known motorcycle touring routes, not so wide known motorcycle touring routes, agricultural areas, historical sites, lakeside, oceanside, tunnels, bridges, and my own driveway. Surfaces I have ridden on include blacktop, pavement, concrete, cobblestone, chip and seal, and the one I hate: gravel. in all those miles I suffered one fall, at very low speed, and with minimal damage due to gravel.

I have met some really nice people both online and on the road who generously shared their knowledge, experiences, and advice. I have met a number of people willing to provide mentorship on-the-fly and to be supportive when I needed it. There are some really great folks doing it on two wheels in that environment by itself tends to create an immediate commraderie between riders.

I now ride in Harley boots, leather chaps, Cordura and leather jacket, have a leather vest with colors, a helmet with Bluetooth intercom and connectivity, and gloves. None of which I even owned a year ago, but all of which have proven their extreme value every time I mount Blue Highway Spirit.

I think one of the most remarkable comments I've had made to me in recent days was from somebody who's been reading this blog since the beginning, but whom I have never met face-to-face . It was after my Virginia Adventure when I got an e-mail from them that said that I had dramatically changed since I started all of this. They went on to tell me that I seemed more at ease, more relaxed, and happy. I thought that was a pretty deep perception for someone who's never met me but only read the words that I leave here.

So as I start my second year, I look forward to getting a newer bike with a bit more power and to the new roads that are waiting for me to discover them. But then, I still have at least a month left of this riding season for some really intense wind therapy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I Got a Fever, and the Only Prescription...Is More Cowbell!!

A little big for a cowbell,
but we were desperate.
In a little over two weeks, my son and I will depart on the Lake Michigan Quest for More Cowbell, From Sheboygan to Cheboygan. However, before we get to that I think I need to take a minute to explain the East Coast Quest for More Cowbell.
If you have never seen the Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken as the producer for Blue Oyster Cult, please see the links at the bottom of this entry.

In the spring of 2009, my son and I were considering taking a trip to visit my father over Spring Break. Somehow, during the planning we also added a side trip to visit my other son in Virginia. We also wanted to see things along the way and by the time we were done adding it all we were covering 9 states and almost 4000 miles in under a week. In addition, we were going to take a long MacBeth, who was about five months old time, because he had never been on a road trip. Finally, because our car was not big enough to hold MacBeth's crate, we rented a Ford Explorer for the trip.

MacBeth takes his turn driving
On the first day, we started calling our trip to Quest for More Cowbell. Therefore, as I posted updates on Twitter I started referring to it as the More Cowbell Trip or just the Cowbell Trip. Along the way, we took several pictures of real cowbell so we happen to come across.

Our first stop after leaving home was the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. We happened to be there on induction day, so we got in free and had a great time looking at all the exhibits. We hid the road in ernest and all three of us shared the driving duties.  From there we headed across West Virginia and into Virginia to visit my other son and his girlfriend.

Asking Thomas Jefferson about
the location of more cowbell. 
TJ says he does not know of any.
We all had a great time and even discovered a new eatery Five Brothers Burgers. From there we dipped south and went to Georgia to visit my father. Then we headed back north and went via Gatlinburg to Indiana to visit family there.  Matt even took time to ask folks about where to find more cowbell.

From Indiana, where we spent Easter, we headed on home. It was a great trip all the way around. The car had a satellite system so we listen to comedy channels during the entire trip and even founded a request or two. We also decorated several locales where we stopped with stickers that said "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" or "AYBABTU". I will not begin to try to explain that here; you can look around the web to find out more about it. Suffice it to say we were saying that we had been there.

At the Hard Rock in Gatlinburg,
MacBeth picked out a souvenir
scarf that he was proud of.
Anyway, from that point on we started calling our annual road trips a Quest for More Cowbell. Therefore, as we come to the end of the riding season and it becomes time for me to do my last major test that I set for myself it is only appropriate that it become a quest for cowbell as well.

Our route will take us all the way around Lake Michigan covering a little over 1000 miles. Originally, I planned to do this 24-hour period. Nevertheless, when I gave it more thought, I decided I really was not trying to prove how tough I was but how well I had learned to ride under many different conditions. In addition, originally I was riding alone with my son trailing me in a car. Now, he was going to ride as my wingman. So, we will divide this up over three days and in the middle, we will stop and see the Harley-Davidson Museum as we pass through Milwaukee.
Cheboygan and Sheboygan? When my son was very young and we would watch cartoons together, he heard them refer to a place called Cheboygan. Now my son not being that familiar with American geography thought it was a made-up place not a real one. Since we are doing this kind of trip, I figured we would hit not only Cheboygan but also Sheboygan. I plan to look for a T-shirt only get there that says something along the lines of "I've been to Cheboygan, yes it is a real place".

Anyway, the trip is planned to take place over my birthday weekend so I will spend my 51st riding. How appropriate.

More Cowbell the Skit

Here is more background on the skit and the true background on the song.  This link is better quality than the one on YouTube,  but both have the full skit.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Wheels Go Round & Round

Can we take a look at the odometers Johnny....


Total miles:  2196 + 702 (Road King) = 2898





Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trying Out the 2011s

It isn't often that you get a chance to test drive brand-new Harley-Davidson's. However, our local dealership was lucky enough to be on the list for something called Harley Days that is where the HD Corporation brings out all the new models and let you test-drive anything you want to. Since I am still undecided about what I want to get next, the opportunity was perfect.

The test track was 8 miles of diverse road. You went through residential, city, country roads with a few good curves, a little highway, and then back on a city street.

The Street Glide

The first bike that I got on was the Street Glide. I was comfortable sitting on it, the wait was fairly balanced, and the controls were well-placed, except for the radio. The radio set in the fairing up front but it was at such an angle that while you were sitting on the bike you could not see the display. The other thing about the bike that I did not like was it had an electronic throttle. I would roll power on and nothing would happen, because there was a lag time. Therefore, I would give it a little more and about then everything would kick in. Not very happy with the way that acted; although I know, they can probably adjust it if you buy the bike.

The Elektra Glide Ultra Glide

The next bike I tried was the one I was actually thinking about buying, it is the Cadillac motorcycle. It was very comfortable, easy to control, well balanced, and the dashboard was easily readable and accessible. Even though this had the same type throttle on it had been adjusted a bit tighter and I didn't have the same issues that I had on the Street Glide. If I buy a Harley, I want this one.

The Crossbones

I tried something called Crossbones. It is a stripped down bike with a springer front end and seat. I did not like the way it acted. The springer suspension made the front-end balance and then seconds later the seat would balance. It reminded me of a rocking horse I had as a kid, it had four springs on it, and one at each corner and you would rock back and forth on it or bounce up and down. I swear, that is what riding this thing felt like.

The Harley Trike

The final bike I rode was a trike. I had to watch a video and then cruise around the parking lot a little before we went out on it. I know the purpose of the trike is for older riders or people who cannot handle the full weight of the bike or want something more stable. They probably serve that purpose very well. However, when I rode the trike I wanted to lean into curves, which you don't need to do. I wanted to put my feet down when I stopped, but if you do that, you run over your own feet. I was surprised at how rough the road but that was because it had the extra wheels without car style suspension. Trikes have their place; I am just not ready to ride one.

Well, the test drives did not change my mind about which bike I eventually wanted to get, again if I get a Harley. I will say that Harley makes a very stable and well-built bike. I like some things about some of the bikes, but they're things I just don't like about the bikes too. To bring in younger riders, Harley has started putting skulls on everything where they used to have Eagles. I'm more of an Eagle kind of guy. I like having a tachometer and a majority of their bikes don’t. A lot more to consider before I get to the point where I plop down cash to ride out on something bigger.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Colonial Parkway - Deer, Hedgehogs & Varmints But No Making Out

Once I finished visiting my son and his girlfriend, I hopped back on the Road King and headed west. Sunset was coming on but I still felt like riding a challenging road on my way to wherever I was going. After crossing the bridge-tunnel from Norfolk into Hampton, it occurred to me that the Colonial Parkway might be a nice diversion.

I had gone to high school in this area so I was quite familiar with it. One of the places that I liked to go was to something called the Colonial Parkway in Yorktown. It is a 23-mile stretch of road from Yorktown to Jamestown. The Parkway is windy and tree covered as it meanders down the coastline from one historic site to the other. When I was in high school, I would end most dates at one of its many pullouts overlooking the ocean. It was romantic to high school kids who didn't have their own apartments.

As I rolled down the highway and started to go toward the Parkway, I quickly realized that all the landmarks that I knew were gone. New shopping centers and strip malls had taken their place. The other problem was that I had never been out here in the daylight; that was not a big help either. I was about to give up and break out the GPS when I saw a sign that saved me. We all know real men and bikers never get lost.

Right before I turned onto the Parkway I was treated again to the ballet of hawks in the sky above me, not sure if this was an omen or not but it was pretty. When I got to the Parkway from the road I noticed something else I'd forgotten about it -- -- the Parkway was not concrete, blacktop, or cobblestone; it is a blend of concrete and pebbles which has a slippery surface because the years of use has worn down and smoothed the pebbles. I was leery but not overly concerned.

The ride was a blast. I'd forgotten how pretty the scenery and ocean view was. Then I saw a sign that broke my heart. My favorite place was no longer usable as a make-out spot. After all, nobody goes to make-out before Sunset. Very saddening.

I saw herds of deer and many hedgehogs and other small varmints near the road as I cruised through it. I pulled off at a few more places to enjoy the various views of the bay and then when I reached the end I jumped back on the highway and proceeded west until I got caught up in the traffic jam of people leaving Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Actually it wasn't a full up traffic jam it was just a few miles of very slow going. After I was beyond the traffic it was smooth sailing until I reached the hotel.

When I climbed into bed that night, I realized how sore I was from sitting in the same position for several hours over several days. Nevertheless, it was a good sore.

The next morning I woke up and since I had to turn the bike in that day, I did not travel far from the turn-in point. I spent all the time I had left cruising through old neighborhoods in Richmond. I was enjoying the sunshine, and the feel of a good bike under me. This had been a great adventure and I loved all 702 miles of it.

A gentleman named Paul helped me get the bike turned back and I transferred all my stuff from the saddlebags back into a suitcase. I then jumped in the car and headed north to the airport. As I looked at the traffic coming towards me, going south, I would see the occasional motorcycle and my hand would want to wave, but I wasn't a rider for this part of my journey.