Category Archives: Motorcycle

2016 Victory Vision

At the end of March, 2016, I traded the Kingpin for a new Vision.  I’d been thinking about the Vision of years and been on more test rides than I can count and the time finally came to pull t…

Source: 2016 Victory Vision

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Posted by on April 3, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring


Flight 93 Memorial

Flight 93 Memorial

For Monday, I had been thinking about riding thru the rural areas in Virginia & West Virginia, but, as I was riding north-west toward I-81, a different destination came to mind: the Flight 93 National Memorial.  The memorial is one of those things that is so close that I never stop, thinking I could visit anytime and should go somewhere more remote.  Since this year has ended up as many small trips, it was the perfect opportunity.

The Memorial

The ride to the memorial, along Route 30, winds thru beautiful, rural Pennsylvania.  As you enter the memorial on the access road, there is only one stop, over looking the nearby small town of Lambert.  The memorial is still under construction; currently only the visitor shelter, the memorial walk and the wall of names, on the border of the crash site, are open.

Memorial WalkMany of the additional structures, including a visitor center and the path around the crash site, are expect to be completed in 2015.  For now, you can approach the wall of names and look thru to the crash site, but not enter it.

Wall of NamesThe Experience

Walking along the path, everyone speaks in hushed tones, feeling the weight of the events.  Along the wall are nooks containing a few items of remembrance.  I’m not sure if these items are left by visitors or donations placed there by the park staff, but they are sparsely populated and arranged with care.  

Memorial NookWalking the path, pausing the at the nooks and reading the names along the wall provides a feeling of connection to the ordinary people who became heroes on that tragic day.  See all photos.


The memorial was moving and emotional, an appropriate lead up to visiting the 9/11 Memorial on Tuesday.  Riding home on Route 30 provided a mix of rural, highway and small town riding.  Just the day before I had ridden Route 30, from Philadelphia to I-81, so, when the opportunity occurred, I jumped back on the turnpike to make better time.

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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Flight 93, Memorial, Motorcycle, Touring


Preventive Maintenance – Fail

For road trips, my planning is generally vague: while keeping to a general plan, I still get the joy of deciding each morning where to head next.  My preparations tend to be equally minimal – almost agile.  Usually this works out well – with minimal constraints, schedules can be adjusted and plans adapted – but occasionally it bites me in the ass.  This is one of those times.

The Original Plan – Option 3

I scheduled time off from work, starting on Thursday, August 14th and returning Tuesday, September 2nd. Thursday would be dedicated to preparation, so I could leave bright & early Friday morning.  The first destination would be Boston, where I would be visiting friends; rather than taking I-95, I was planning a more scenic route, north out of Pennsylvania and thru New York state.

After spending the weekend with friends, I expected to take a scenic ride thru Maine, New Brunswick and ending up in Nova Scotia by the following weekend.  Something like this.  The second weekend, I’d take the Oak Island tour, then head back home via the fastest route.

After a day or so at home, I expected to spend the rest of the second week on a slow tour of Maryland and Virginia, visiting friends; this slow tour would end up back at home some time Labor Day weekend.  Overall the distance covered would much less than my previous trips, with the focus on visiting new places and old friends.

What Could Possible Go Wrong?

I had arranged all the necessary items – pet care, stopping mail, etc. – but one item remained outstanding: the state inspection for the Kingpin and it was overdue.  I stopped up at Trumbauer’s the weekend before the trip to see if they could squeeze me in on short notice – I have a bad habit asking for service at the last-minute, right before a trip, but they always manage to make time for me and this time was no different. (Thanks Lisa!)

Problem #1

On Thursday morning (prep day), I arrived a little late, but was feeling confident that all the pieces were falling into place.  I was reading the news while waiting for the inspection & oil change, when the first hiccup occurred: the Kingpin needed front brakes.  Not a big deal: it’s relatively quick job, and just one of those regular things.

Problem #2

A few minutes later, Lisa came over to tell me the throttle cable was sticking when fully open.  I rarely open the throttle all the way (that sounded sincere, right?), but the sticking might be an indication it was ready to fail.  Technical detail: the throttle cable, and most of the other cables, runs under the tank; in order to investigate, the tank would have to come off – this job just became much bigger.  I was beginning to feel a bit guilty as they were squeezing me into their schedule, but the work continued.

Problem #3, Uh oh

Front ForksAfter a few more minutes, I was invited over for a discussion with the tech / mechanic.  It started with the handlebars, which had a bit of play in them.  This, I knew about: on a trip to Sturgis a few years earlier, I had put the tie downs on the handlebars (they should have been on the triple clamps) which had stretched out the bushings that hold the handlebars.  The bushings are difficult to replace and the problem would not get any worse over time, so I had decided to let it go.

The next topic was much more serious: one side of the front forks was leaking.  I had not noticed the leak, but, apparently, they were overdue for regular maintenance.

In order to replace / repair the forks, the triple clamps would have to come off, which amounts to disassembling the front end of the bike.  To further complicate the repair, the Kingpin has inverted forks that use cartridges (to hold the fluid, I assume) and these are a bit unusual.

To summarize: the tank & triple clamps needed to come off and front forks needed to be disassembled.  Since the triple clamps where coming off anyway, it made sense to replace the handlebar bushings.  This was no longer in the squeeze it in category.  Even if the service department was willing to disrupt their entire schedule, parts needed to be ordered.

What Now?

Although it would not be ready for the trip, I rode the Kingpin home [carefully] on Thursday as I didn’t have any other option.  I dropped it back off Saturday morning (thanks to Bryan for the ride), so it would be available as soon as the parts arrived.  I don’t have a specific E.T.A., but my impression is that the work will take most of a day and won’t start until everything has arrived.  I was promised it would be ready by Friday at the latest, but possibly sooner.

The folks at Trumbauer’s were quite apologetic about all the problems, but, of course, they are not at fault for my last-minute scheduling or failure to keep up on maintenance.  Truthfully, I’m grateful to them for finding the problems now, and saving me from a break down in the middle of nowhere.

The original plan will no longer work as I’ll be starting out a week later than expected (but I am getting some home projects done).  The trip was originally broken into two parts, so now one of them will have to be skipped.  I just have to decide which one.

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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Motorcycle, Touring


Back on the Road

Last year was quite busy with precious little riding (thus the lack of posts), but this year will be different: I am planning a three week road trip, departing around August 9th and returning home by September 1st (max. 24 days on the road).  The only question is Where to go?

Option 1 – Northwest to Glacier National Park

I have been talking about visiting Glacier National Park, and riding the Sun Road, for a few years so maybe it is finally time.  If I took this route, I could also visit Yellowstone since it is relatively close (close takes on a slightly different meaning out west).  When I originally considered this trip, I figured on hitting the American Victory Rally in Spirit Lake, but sadly it is canceled this year.

There would also be the possibility of stopping to see friends in Detroit, Illinois and maybe Montana, many of whom I rarely see.  (Sadly, I will not make it to Pennsic this year.)  On the downside, it will be 5 heavy riding days – 2,300 miles – each way, not counting detours and visits.  The other consideration is the weather, which could be anything and can change at any time; even now, some of the camping areas in Glacier are still closed and will not be clear of snow until June 13th.

Option 2 – Southwest to Monument Valley

Back to my favorite destination, and why not?  I could hit Monument Valley & Antelope Canyon, both of which had to be skipped on previous trips.  On the way out, I could hook a bit north to visit folks in Detroit & Illinois – this would add a hundred or so miles to the trip, but would also keep me far away from Missouri and that is a good thing.  (Sorry to any who live there & like it, but it has always been misery for me.)   On the way back east, I would come thru my future home town, Albuquerque, to see Jane & friends, and stop in Houston to spend time with the Doss family.  I could also revive the plans from 2012 to see my brother in North Carolina and visit with many friends in various parts of Virginia.

Overall, the focus would be on visiting as many friends as possible.  This would be slightly less distance than the Northwest option – minimum 2,100 miles to the most westward point – and have many more social occasions along the way.

Option 3 – North to Oak Island

A friend recently suggested riding up the east coast thru Maine, at which point I immediately thought of continuing on to Oak Island.  I originally learned about Oak Island via In Search Of, and, more recently, was obsessed with The Curse of Oak Island.

I have been on a ride as far as Connecticut, and visited Boston numerous times (by car), but Maine would be a completely new experience.  In addition, there are many folks in Boston I would love to see.  This would also be a relatively short trip – only 847 miles to Oak Island – so I could hit some other areas.  Possibly pick up the Virginia and North Carolina portion of Option 2.

Decisions, Decisions

Option 1 – amazing sights to see, but lots empty road to cover and weather concerns.

Option 2 – familiar, but also my favorite part of the country.  (Is it odd to say a 2,100 mile ride is familiar?)  Also, many, many friends to see.

Option 3 – most likely breaks down into multiple rides, never getting too far from home, but new areas to explore and plenty of visiting with friends.

I am currently leaning toward Option 2, but Option 3 definitely warrants more investigation.  It is unclear when I will make the decision (possibly in the driveway on August 9th) but I should probably get my passport renewed, just in case.


Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Blog, Motorcycle


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Long Ride 2012 Wrap Up



19 days
15 states, visiting 2 for the first time (Arkansas & Kentucky)
Starting Odometer: 16,413
Ending Odometer: 22,491
Rain Storms: too many to count
Friends & Good Times: also too many to count

Special Thanks

  • Jane for a great weekend in Albuquerque (and introducing me to my future home town)
  • Trumbauer’s for getting the Kingpin ready for the trip at the last minute, as always.  It ran like a dream.
  • Kristen for good times in Houston
  • Dan & Sam for rides to / from Trumbauer’s.
  • Everyone who sent encouragement & travel tips, so I never feel like I’m riding alone.

Most Memorable Moments

Moving Map Slideshow

Music by Boogaboo.  See the video here.  Buy it here.

Nice Day to RideIowaIowaStorms near Hays, KSRaccoon TanKansasOpen RoadOpen RoadSugar CitySugar CityRookies in SightWolf PassThru the RookiesRoad to Wolf PassWolf PassWolf PassWolf PassWolf PassWolf PassOne of these things is not like the othersRoad to PageRoad to PageRoad to PageRoad to Page

Long Ride 2012, a set on Flickr.
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Motorcycle, Slideshow, Touring


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Last Leg

I’ve ridden between Columbus and home many times, but there were two important differences on my previous rides: it was summer and the ride started before noon.

When I’m on vacation, I almost never set an alarm, but generally wake up at a reasonable time.  This Wednesday, for some unknown reason, I didn’t wake up until after 11 AM and didn’t get on the road until almost noon.

I reached the PA turnpike very late in the afternoon and the temperature was dropping rapidly.  The line of storms, which I had spent so much time avoiding, was the leading edge of a cold front, so I had dressed for chilly riding: Grand Canyon sweatshirt, riding jacket & gloves.

As night fell, I was still in central PA, almost 3 hours from home.  The problem with riding in the cold is that it is can be quite draining and I could feel myself getting drowsy.  I could have ridden for another hour or so, but it was clear I wasn’t going to make it home that night, so it didn’t make sense to continue riding.  Central PA is a rural area, but I was able to find a room in Chambersburg.

The extra stop created a real problem as I had used up all my extra time for this trip and was supposed to be back at work Thursday morning.  As soon as I got to my room, I emailed the office to let them know I would be a day late.

My company, MEI, is generally understanding about my road trips and allows me flexibility on the schedule.  They are so amazing that in 2008, they let me ride cross country as part of a business trip.   On this occasion, however, arriving late was a problem as my boss would be on vacation the following week; I needed to meet with him on Thursday to get updates and prepare to act as his backup.

It was critical that I get to the office as early as possible so I set the alarm, got on the road at a reasonable time, kept my stops to a bare minimum and went directly to the office, rather than going home.  I arrived a little after 1 PM which allowed me enough time to take care of business.

Even though this has been a great trip, I have never been this far off schedule.  My plan contained 3 slack days (including the decompression day) and, at the half way point, I was expecting to be home Monday evening and back at work on Wednesday (a day early).  Avoiding the weather, cost me about 1.5 days, but the rest of the time was spent at various locations and with friends.  The plan for my road trips tends to be vague so I can make changes on the fly, but in the future, I’ll have to keep closer track of the time remaining and how far I am from home.

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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring


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The Road Home

I arrived in Nashville late Sunday afternoon, checked into the hotel, then drove around town a bit.  I think I need to come back to Nashville with friends and more time to go out & about.  Ultimately it ended up being just a stop along the road to Geoff’s place in Morrisville, NC.

Watching the weather last night and again this morning, it was clear there was some nasty weather in the area.  My trip to Geoff’s house would take me close to coast, then I would travel home via I-95 on Tuesday.  The problem with this plan was the line of thunderstorms between me and Geoff; this was further aggravated by the forecast for Tuesday: thunderstorms, heavy rain, high winds & damaging hail, along the I-95 corridor.

Though it was disappointing, I decided it didn’t make sense to continue to Geoff’s place in Morrisville.  To make matters worse, this is the second year in a row I’ve planned to visit my brother and had to abort.

Choosing a new path, I momentarily considered heading back to Albuquerque, but that was just wishful thinking: I’m planning to move to Albuquerque in the near future, but need to make many arrangements before that can happen.  I decided the best path was to head north, and a little bit west, to break thru the storm front and find some dryer weather.  It was a soggy ride with steady light rain, interrupted by some heavy downpours.  By the time I reached Illinois, I had cleared most of the weather.

Riding in the rain isn’t too bad if you are prepared, but there are a couple of annoying points: bathroom breaks take a while as you have to remove most of the gear; all the plastic gear gets that sticky damp feeling.  Even though my gear worked, I’m still going to look around and see if I can find something better for future road trips.

Tomorrow, while the east coast is getting the heavy weather, I’ll be riding I-70 into Ohio.  It may be a bit chilly and I’ll have to be careful not to drive back into the storms which are moving east ahead of me.

Today’s detour will cost me my decompression day: at the end of a long trip, I like to have a day at home to get back into the swing of things before going back to work.  I had planned to get home on Tuesday night, but my arrival has been postponed until Wednesday afternoon.  Even though I will need to be at work the next morning, it’s still better than riding thru a massive storm.

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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring


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