Thursday, May 28, 2009

I just LOVE the Florida Keys!

These took for ever to load up and I ran out of computer time today..... I'll post more soon..... and give some more details about them too!

Keep your mind empty, and your knees in the breeze!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Motorcycles Suck!

I can't stop thinking about this past week.....

There was a girl, Lori (I don't know her last name), who was riding the Stampede Ride from Barstow, CA to Rockingham, NC. She was riding with her boyfriend of 13 years when a Semi-Truck & Trailer hit her from behind on the I-40. She didn't even know what happened. According to Brian (her boy friend) and other eye witnesses, it was all the trucker's fault! She and Brian were riding 400cc motorcycles like they have for the past 3 years on the stampede race. This happened at night and in Oklahoma.

My heart goes out to Brian and her family! I can't imagine having to go through something like that!

But I can't stop thinking about the "biker life." How its always on the edge fighting the "cagers" through every mile on the roads...... when we are not on the road, its the people in the stores, on the sidewalks, at the gas stations, at work, etc..... its the lowbrow looks we get.... its the comments that we receive along with the disbelief tone in their voices when they say "really?" when I tell them about the way it is when you are travelling on two wheels. Sleeping in the parks, on picnic tables, heating the cheeseburger up on the engine & Exhaust pipes..... "Why would you want to do that?

.... BECAUSE I'M FREE!!!!!

Its the saying "If I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand!" But its so true!

In a sense I really admire people like Lori, Indian Larry, James Dean, Steve McQueen..... they "got it"..... the Living in the now, on the edge, being able to grab the world by the balls and to have the ability to love every single moment of it!..... Its kinda like the Spartan Warrior..... they lived to fight the battle and it was an honor to end the life in battle.....

I pray for Lori and all the others that have gone to ride the great highway in the sky! I hope your roads are smooth, you hit no bugs, and witness amazing views that we can't even begin to imagine!

I've only been on the road for a couple of days and the ride is going quite well, but its still missing something...... I don't know what...... Hell, I don't even know what I'm looking for...... but I hope it finds me...... I think I have to get the idea of my destination of hitting all 48 states outta my mind and just go for a ride.... but its hard having the thought in the back of my mind of knowing that I have to be home at a certain time.

The epiphany will come..... I just have to clear my mind!



A few more bumps....

It's been a few days since I've last posted anything.... so here is a little bit of a recap.....

The day off never happened..... remember those electrical problems I was having? They reared their ugly head once again..... The good thing is that there were only two more things left to fix and/or replace, the Stator and the Rotor. These two parts work just like an alternator on a car except in the reverse order.

I know this isn't going to mean a lot to most people, but at least Dad & Zack will appreciate it.....
The alternator on a car has stationary wire coils on the outside housing while several magnets rotate and passing very closely to the inside of the coils. This action creates the electricity it generates..... (in real basic terms)..... and the Stator is just like that except the wire coils are mounted stationary on the inside of the rotating magnets.... so it is the same thing except in reverse....

I think it was the 2nd gas stop when my bike started having a bit of a problem.... when I tried to start the bike, it started pretty hard. By the 4th gas stop the battery just didn't have enough juice to turn the starter.... So, it was another day of hurry up gas stops and no breaks... unless it was at a station with a hill....

We made it into town at about 2:00pm, which still wasn't bad time at all.... Charlie The Nomad was already at the hotel along with the other Stampede Riders. (The Stampede Ride is an annual unofficial race that is held from Barstow, CA to the Smoke out. - Charlie mad the ride in 30 hours and 10 minutes!!!!! - That's haulin ass!) We checked in and went to lunch at a local Thai restaurant, my favorite! We borrowed a phone book and found a Harley Davidson Dealership that was only about 10 miles away.... so we called.....

"We are really busy right now, There is nothing that we can do for you until tomorrow afternoon." I hate doing it, but Hammer said that it was okay.... so I told them that I was Traveling and worked for the magazine holding the event in town.... I'll be damned, if that "tomorrow afternoon" didn't turn into "Hey bring it right in and let us see what we can do!" HAHAHAHA!

I brought it in and they ran some tests on the electrical system and confirmed that my new battery was almost completely dead, and that there was a problem with the stator or rotor.... They were to diagnose it, but in all honesty, they were really busy and couldn't work on it at all that day..... SO instead of leaving me hanging with a broken bike and no ride, the Service manager recommended that I take it over to this guy's house and let him work on it for me..... What could go wrong right.... we put a brand new charged battery in the bike, bought a new stator, rotor, voltage regulator, and all the gaskets needed for the worst case scenario and rode it over to Mark's house....

I pulled in the drive way and Mark was waiting in front of his garage..... I was pretty surprised to see that his garage was set up like a very professional shop.... a wall of well organized tools, a professional bike lift, numerous used bike parts hanging on the walls displayed as trophies.... I was impressed... Its pretty hard to work on a bike when the engine is hot from riding, so we talked a bit while it was cooling down on the lift.... I don't it was 90 minutes later and I was riding my bike back to the hotel with only the new stator.... and he only charged me $80... so I flipped him double that for doing it fast, at the last minute and cancelling the date he had with his wife to help out a stranded biker. It would have cost me a lot more if the Dealership was to do the work....The rest of the parts we didn't use were returned for a full refund.... the Dealership was pretty cool about my situation....

The next morning was Friday.... I left for the event to get set up early and ready for the bike show registration.... When I got to the event, I needed to call Hammer and noticed that My phone wasn't in my pocket..... if fell out when I was riding the bike there! UUGH!!!!! NO PHONE!!!! Good thing I had insurance on my phone..... I borrowed the Hotel's house phone and filed my claim for a new phone.... $50 and the next day, I had another phone.... but since I didn't have phone service at the hotel, I had to wait another day to get it programmed and started....

The event went extremely well and it was pretty much the best Smoke Out I've been to in several years.... Only one arrest - only because the guy did a motorcycle burn out against a cop car! hahaha..... the Officer didn't take too kindly to his actions.... other than that I didn't hear of another incident....

Well, I'm tired, and I'll write more about my trip and riding with the infamous George the Painter......

Keep the knees in the breeze!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Almost every road has a bump or two.....

Today was a good day!

Yesterday was still a good day, but not as nice as today...... Yesterday morning, we left the Oklahoma City hotel with the skies threatening us with a sever rain storm.... we left about 7:30am - 8:00am and it was about 60 degrees... but it just wasn't soon enough.... as soon as we left the gas station, the skies opened up.... of course, we didn't put our rain gear on... if we did, then it wouldn't have rained hahahaha! Well, we ended up running out the storm at about 12:00pm but every time we stopped to get gas the rain just caught up to us! It was a "Rabbit and Hare Race". We did get lucky though; the last storm that was following us, was a pretty mean one! I could see the spectacular light show Mother Nature was providing us..... I don't know if it was outta anger for not catching us or if it was her way of saying Congrats on our victory?.... The nice thing about getting caught in the rain on a bike is that if you keep riding, you're completely dry in about 15 - 20 minutes.

So, the day before yesterday, I had swapped out my battery..... well, yesterday My battery died again..... it just didn't have the amps to crank the starter..... If it wasn't for gas stations at the top of hills, I'd still be somewhere in western Tennessee!!!! (I'd put the bike into 4th gear with the clutch pulled in, start rolling down the hill, once I got up enough speed I'd pop the clutch.... she'd fire right up and I'd be down the road... until the next station)

Last night, we arrived at about 9:30 pm after a long 680 miles pulled into Nashville, TN... We parked the bikes and went looking for a steakhouse.... The Blackstone Grill & Brewery was the place we went and it was great! I suggest the Shepard's Pie with their award winning Porter... its to die for!!! We were back at the hotel at 11:00pm and the last thing I remember was laying back for just a second before I took my boots off. The next think I know is that it 4:30 and I'm still dressed and almost falling off the bed! I was soooooooo tired!!!!!


Enter this morning.............

I was up at about 7:30 and was to meet everyone at the bikes at 8 am..... no problem - everyone was there and on time.... My bike was still dead, but it was the first time we actually had the time to run some tests to confirm our suspicions of what was wrong..... After a few pokes with a multi-meter, it was confirmed that the Voltage Regulator was bad.... when this goes bad, the battery is slowly drained by the head & tail lights..... the function of the bike's alternator is to supply enough "juice to keep the bike going using all it's electrical components AND to keep the battery charged..... the voltage regulator only allows a certain amount of "juice" to go back to the battery - if the battery gets too much juice, it can fry the battery... One of two things can happen when the voltage regulator goes bad:

1. The regulator stops regulating and "Cooks" the battery
2. The regulator loses an internal connection and starves the battery

....both resulting in a dead battery....

Before I left, we pulled the fuse that runs the headlight and tail light, it was daytime, so I didn't actually need them (the brake light is under a different fuse). We did this to help save the battery!..... we also called around to different bike shops locally to find a new regulator... we found one for $91 about 65 miles down the road at a Harley Dealership (I don't remember where or the name of it)..... With the help of "Hammer" and "Fabricator Kevin" we had the old one off and new one on and working in about 15 minutes.... we were only stopped for about 30 minutes! It actually took longer to find the right tools than it did to actually replace the regulator!..... So far, I haven't had any more problems with it... at least today! (Shut it Richie!!!! LOL)

We made it to Asheville, NC at about 6:00 pm. It was an easy ride today..... It was only Hammer, Fab Kevin, and Myself.... we'd stop about every 50-60 miles to top Hammer's tank off..... his chopper has a pretty small tank and a huge engine! (124 cubic inches - The average Harley engine is only 88 cubic inches)..... We are a complete day and a half ahead of schedule and only 207 miles away from Rockingham, NC.... we are planning to meet at 6 am, having breakfast at "The Huddle Inn" (? I think that's the name) and be on the road before 7am..... If we keep the same pace as today, we'll be in Rockingham, NC around noon..... which is perfect..... if we decide to screw around, it'll be a bit later than that!......

I'm ready to have a day off! LOL We'll be in Rockingham until Sunday afternoon.... Then its off to, I don't know, maybe Key West, FL?..... we'll see!

I'm tired and going to Bed!

Until next time, Stay Dry and keep the knees in the breeze!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 2 of 3 "500 Milers"

Tonight, I exhaustively sit in a very nice hotel room in Oklahoma City, OK.....

Today we finished our 2nd 500 mile day.... yesterday, we rode through Arizona and stopped in Santa Rosa, NM, Right off of the Historic Route 66..... we ate at an original R-66 diner.... but it was pretty well modified to today's needs & comforts.... The food was great, but the atmosphere, just wasn't what I had imagined it would be for an Original Route 66 diner.

When we were getting on the bikes & ready to leave Hobo Joe's in Cottonwood Restaurant (the place we ate breakfast), I was asked to lead the pack out and through to Santa Rosa.... I felt pretty honored and pretty cool! Me, The Leader, riding Front Left in the pack.... how sweet is this ride gonna be..... See when you ride "front-left", its you that determines the speed, where & when we get gas & food.... basically you are the Road Captain", the Leader of the pack..... I graciously accepted.....

Now, when you are in a pack, you can only go as far as the Smallest Gas tank will allow. This particular bike can get about 70-80 miles per tank of gas... depending of a few things (traffic, head winds/tailwinds, etc). So being the leader you have to watch the odometer and speedo, and keep a mind's eye on where we are in reference to when we need to get gas and how far away the next gas station may be....

So, Here I am all proud to be up-front & left.... and I signal to exit for gas and the pack pulls into the Station like we've done it 1000 times before... we all fill up, some smoke their cigs, get the energy drinks, candy bars, stretch, etc.

It was all really cool! Then the fella with the small gas tank comes up to me and says "Boy I'm glad you are with us on this ride! Nobody else has a speedometer on their bike!"...... to say the least, it was a bit if an internal humbling experience.... thank goodness that I wasn't bragging about being up front! hahahaha!

Yesterday we left Cottonwood, AZ at 07:00 am.... right on time..... the weather was perfect for a nice long ride..... by the time it was 11:00am and we were in the high Sierra Desert, the air was thin (a lot thinner than Michigan's), and the air was Hot.... have you ever been in one of those Dry Saunas? Do you remember what it feels like to take a deep breath through your nose? It Hurts..... imagine that with every breath..... not so much because its hot, but because its dry!... See, that's what I love about riding a motorcycle.... you'd never be able to experience that in a car.... not to mention all the different smells of the desert.... the sage.... the dust.... the sunscreen & chap stick..... the exhaust of the bike in front of you, the faint smell of the spring flowers coming into bloom.....

I have never really thought that you could see the horizon like you can along I-40 in Texas and Oklahoma... LOL.... man you can see FOREVER!!!!! I've heard some people say that its boring and there is nothing to see.... PEOPLE, OPEN YOUR EYES!!!! LOL I wish object could talk.... like the old cars/trucks/tractors/fences/worn down & abandoned shacks that you can see out in the fields. I'd love to hear their stories!

Today, we had the same schedule..... breakfast at 6am and on the road by 7am.... I woke up a bit later than I wanted, but I still had plenty of time to get ready..... I looked out the window and the sky was overcast, but it didn't look too bad.... I got ready and was carrying my things down the hall when I turned to corner to walk out to my bike and the parking lot was soaking wet..... It had rained all night and was still raining!

by the time we finished breakfast it was done raining, but really foggy and it was misting pretty heavy.... we donned out rain gear and left at 7:00..... luck for us, it only misted about 60% of the day, mostly all in the morning.... but it never got warmer than 62 degrees all day..... who was complaining about the heat? LOL

We pulled into Amarillo, Texas to get gas..... of course I'm still leading... LOL.... everyone filled up and was ready to leave.... and my battery was D.E.A.D..... the good thing was it was lunch time and there was a MacDonald's right next to the station and an Auto parts place on the other side.... so I ended up buying a new battery, everyone else went to eat and when they were done, I had the new battery in and the bike up & running ready to roll out!....

Now my bike wasn't the first causality of the road..... of the 6 bikes in the pack mine was the 4th to have a Problem.... 2 are out and riding in the trailer.... One ignition system wend bad, and the other was a super bald tire and very unsafe to ride!

It rained a lot today so the camera stayed packed away where it was dry...... Tomorrow should be a better day! I'll do what I can to get some good shots!

Until next time..... keep the eyes open & your knees in the breeze!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

The last night of the Smoke Out West 2009....

Well, the Smoke Out West is in its final hours..... and the turn out this year is way down from the years before.... an unofficial guess on my part puts the attendance at almost 2000 people, and thats being generous!!! The food vendors were great, Rob Zombie (Rock Star & Movie Producer) and Glen Danzig (Rock Star) were rumored to show up but it didn't happen....... The temperature was hot, but not too unbearable..... but we are in the desert and it was windy so the dust was horrible! but at least its better than sand blowing everywhere!

But, it doesn't matter what anyone says, getting together with "true friends" from around the country is absolutely one of the best things about these events..... It's the only thing I expect when I come to these events..... Yeah, the bike are really awe inspiring and mechanical masterpieces, the women are scantily clad (if clad at all :-D ), the music is great, all the shows were tons of fun (Roller Derby, bands, boxing event, wet T-Shirt contests, etc.), but its really about the friendships and acquaintences that I make during these events that makes it everything worth while!

Tomorrow, we are leaving at 06:00 local time to meet for breakfast and will be on the road for the "Long Road Ride". Its a group ride that is starting in Cottonwood AZ, and stopping in Rockingham, NC for the 2nd half of the event..... Our first stop is in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. That's a 506 mile ride through the desert along I-40 and will take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours of riding (depending on weather and how many stops we need to make).

I do ahve to apologize, but I have been so busy helping work the event, that I haven't been able to take any pictures..... but I'll have my camera in my pocket tomorrow for the first leg of the Long Road.....

Of course, Until the next time, Ride hard & keep the knees in the breeze!


Friday, May 8, 2009

In Cottonwood, Arizona....

Yesterday, I landed in Phoenix, AZ at 11:15 am (local time)and it was 97 degrees.... By the time we arrived in Cottonwood, AZ at about 2:30 pm, the thermometer was reading 112 degrees! Holy Crap!!!!! It was freakin HOT!!! They are calling for a high of 97 today, I hope its not as hot as tomorrow. I'm gonna have to make a trip over to wall mart and pick up a cheap set of those "Wife Beater" tank tops..... Oh yeah! For all of you that say "yeah but its a dry heat!" Well, I say, so is a Pizza Oven!!!!!!

I'm working the Smoke Out Chopper event all weekend until Sunday Morning. We leave for North Carolina Early Sunday! If you can & are in the area... come to the event, go to the information booth and ask for STOGIE..... they'll know where I am!

Let the festivities Begin!

Until next time keep the knees in the breeze!!


Monday, May 4, 2009

Its Almost departure time....

Well, I've been busy as hell lately.... Trying to get the bike in order, mechanically, and everythign packed.... I've been running all over Michigan trying to find a good set of saddle bags, my old bags not only didn't fit the new bike but they were starting to fall apart..... not a good start to a 14K mile trip! LOL

Last Saturday, I rand the bike down to The Horse Backstreet Choppers World Head Quarters in Macomb, MI and wouldn't you know it..... I forgot to pack my helmets.... Oh well, guess I'm gonna have to wear it on the plane along with my surgical mask to prevent the SWINE FLU! LOL..... I was told by the magazine owner that "since you have a passenger seat on your bike, one of the models will have to ride with you from AZ to NC..." Oh Dang! I really wanted to ride solo.... but I suppose I can make an exception! :D

Well, the night before last along with last night, I have the infamous dreaded feeling that I'm going to forget something to pack or due..... I haven't gotten to the point of dreaming that I forgot how to ride the bike or forgot how to change a sparkplug..... but the closer I get to departure, I'm sure those dreams will start!

Today & tomorrow, are my running around days getting the rest of the essentials for my trip.... hopefully its not gonna be as bad as my Saddle bag endeavor.

Until next time Smile for the bugs and keep the knees in the breeze!