Category Archives: Motorcycle

Two Lane Highways

Rookies Coming Into View

Today I left the interstates behind in favor of the two lane highways of Kansas and Colorado.

I started out on I-70, and at the first rest stop I ran into a local biker who was good enough to give me advice on my upcoming ride: for the most part, the roads are 65 MPH, but drop down to 35 or 45 MPH for each town; while the towns may be patrolled, the stretches of road in between are not.  The unofficial rule is that the 65 MPH sections are really unlimited.  (This is what he told me – I’m not responsible for your tickets if decide to test this advice and get caught.)  As I left I-70 for US-40, the sun was blazing and I was matching it, burning a path down the open road.

The scenery in Kansas and the first part of Colorado was not exciting, but I was loving the high speed ride across the plains.  I was struck by one aspect of the view: the fields were mostly brown, not green.  In many places the crops – which I’m guessing are supposed to be corn – were only about a foot tall.  Hearing about the drought on the news is doesn’t carry the same weight as seeing field after field of stunted or dead crops.

Eventually the Rookies came into view and the view changed from boring to spectacular.  The first time I came over a rise, and could see the mountains in the distance, I was struck by one thought: This is why I ride.

The original goal for the day was to make it to Cortez or Durango, CO, but that was overly ambitious (as usual).  Since it had been a nearly perfect day, I decided not to ruin it by riding thru the mountains at night: if I continued to Durango, I would have arrived around 11 PM.  I rode thru the Rookies in the middle of the night once before and it wasn’t fun, so I stopped for the evening in Alamosa, CO.

There are only a few photos from today, but they start here.

One final note: for the first time, during this road trip, it didn’t rain for an entire day.

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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring


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Travel Day 3

Into each day, a little rain must fall.

The decision: head back to I-80 to cross Iowa & Nebraska or continue south to pick up I-70 in Kansas.  A quick check of the weather forecasts made the decision easy: late in the afternoon there was potential for thunderstorms in central Nebraska.  (Nebraska’s helmet law made have swayed me also, but I don’t want to start that debate again.)

There was a downside to turning south: Missouri.  Every previous trip thru Missouri has been unpleasant – bad weather and cold or unfriendly people.  The southern route would require only a short time in Missouri and the weather forecast was clear.  Ultimately the trip thru Missouri and into Kansas went well: the weather matched the forecast and I even met a friendly biker during my only fuel stop – I tried hide my surprise when he struck up a conversation.

The traffic around Kansas City was heavy traffic, but it cleared quickly.  I-70 in Kansas is not exciting but it is a smooth easy ride.  The only thing slowing me down was the burning sun: I had put on sunscreen, but it was only SPF 30 – in the midwest, on a hot, sunny day, SPF 30 is not enough and I bear the marks.

Early in the afternoon, I decided to stop in Hays, and booked a hotel; since I had saved money the prior night, I decided I could splurge a little for a more convenient location and decent internet connection.

About 80 miles east of Hays, the sun finally gave me a break, ducking behind the clouds.  Unfortunately, they were dark, ominous clouds.  When I pulled into a rest stop, about 65 miles from my destination, I found out just what those clouds were packing: heavy rain & hail with wind gusts up to 70 MPH for extra fun.  This storm was supposed to be in Nebraska, what was it doing here?!?

I decided to wait it out at the rest stop and, over the next hour the front moved through the area.  Even though it had been rough in some areas, at the rest stop there were just occasional bursts of rain and some serious wind.  After about an hour of waiting, I made a break for Hays.  Behind the front with there were a few scattered showers, but it was only heavy for a few minutes and I was already prepared.

I would happier if I was spending the night on the other side of the Colorado border, but it was still a good day of riding, even with the rain.  Tomorrow, I need to make Cortez, CO to keep the current schedule on track.

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring


Travel Day 2

The drive across Indiana went well; Illinois, which is usually quick to cross, was a bit slow due to (holiday?) traffic around Chicago and construction.

Approaching Iowa, I was still thinking about when to turn south and a storm front moving in on Des Moines was encouraging me to take action sooner, rather than later.  I knew I would need to stop before Des Moines, but a search of area hotels yielded no rooms (in my price range).  I finally found a place to stay in Oskaloosa, about 50 miles east, and a bit south, of Des Moines.

By the time I reached Iowa, the storm was over Des Moines and rapidly moving east.  Getting to the hotel before the front meant pushing ahead forward at speed, directly toward the front.

There were a number of options for turning south toward Oskaloosa, but would aid my efforts since the front stretched beyond Iowa’s southern border.  About 90 minutes from the hotel, I realized I was not going to win the race and donned my rain gear.

The rain hit just as I was turning off of I-80 onto US-63.  US-63 might sound like a major throughway, but it is actually a twisty little country road.  In daylight, without the rain, it would have been fun ride, but after dark, with a light drizzle, no so much.

The hotel was in the middle of no where – Oskaloosa is a small rural town, but the hotel is actually outside of town.  Even with the location (and spotty internet) the hotel was clean & cheap, making it a good place to rest up.

The next morning, I would have to decide whether to continue south or go back to I-80.

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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring


Travel Day 1

The day started slow, but finished fast.

My plan was head north to I-80, then turn left and ride as far as possible. Based on the forecast, this should have kept me (mostly) north of the rain. Things went as planned with two exceptions: as I headed up I-476, I hit steady light rain; heading west on I-80, there was more rain in central PA. For the most part, the rain was light, but there were a few times when it was heavy & steady.  Hitting rain in central PA has become something of a tradition: nearly every road trip, I hit rain somewhere before I get out of PA.  By 1 PM, I had cleared the rain, but my clothing was consistently damp. All things considered, it wasn’t bad, but the morning was slow going.

Late in the afternoon, approaching the Ohio border, things really started to pick up.  I have driven across Ohio many times, on both I-70 and I-80, and it’s always a fast ride; today was no different. I was able to cover enough ground to bring the average for the day to almost 60 MPH; my typical average is 55-60 MPH (this includes stops for rest, food & fuel).

For day 2, I will be crossing the “I” states: Indiana, Illinois & Iowa. The big question will be when to turn south. Google’s directions keeps to I-80 until reaching Colorado, but NWS shows a chance of (light) rain for the Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. I’m considering turning south near Des Moines and heading toward Kansas. This would take me thru a small section of Missouri (aka Misery). After my trip last year, I said I would never drive thru Missouri again, but I may have to make an exception.

From Toledo, Des Moines is 558 mile ride – that’s a little more than I covered today. The “I” states are tend fast rides, but I may postpone the decision about when to head south until Tuesday.

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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring


Planning the Long Ride of 2012

I like to at least one long ride every year.  For this year, I had planned to attend the American Victory Rally, then continue onto Glacier National Park & Yellowstone National Park; the trip would take about 2.5 weeks starting around August 15th.

Unfortunately, I screwed up the scheduling with work, so my trip had to be postponed until the start of September. This left me with a quandary of whether to stick with the original plan, minus the rally, or return to the southwest US to visit friends and see sights I’ve missed on previous trips.

The main reason for reconsidering the northern trip is the weather: Glacier is on the border with Canada and fairly high altitude so the weather can change sudden & it might get snow, even September.  I contacted the National Park Service for both parks with questions and received responses within a few days.  The responses were great, but confirmed what I already suspected: the weather is great right now and visiting a little later in the year will help avoid crowds, but there are no guarantees when it comes to the weather.  A variety of friends on Facebook said the same thing.

Ultimately, I decided to play it safe and go to the southwest.  I was swayed by the uncertainty of the weather and I just love the desert (even though that feels strange to say).  Now it’s just a matter of completing all my prep before I leave September 1st.

Today I picked up the Kingpin from Trumbauer’s.  (Thanks to Dan, Linda & Sam for rides to & from.)  Trumbauer’s does pretty much all the work on my Kingpin and they always take good care of me, including checking out the bike before big trip.  This time they inspected it, installed new tires & brakes, and generally tuned it up.

Other preparations completed: my trusted travel computer – an aging 13″ Macbook – got a little more life with memory upgrades and new battery; I’ve ordered custom earplugs so the wind won’t make me deaf; and Mike is going to take care of the cats. (Thanks Mike!)

I still have to get some stuff to prep the house – pick up cat food, mow the lawn pretty short, etc – but the big stuff is ready to go.  Now I just have to get thru what looks to be a very busy week at work.

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring


Grand Canyon of PA 2012

Below are the photos from the road trip that started it all.  In August of 2002, I travel from my home in Abington, PA to San Jose, CA.  After a few days a conference I started my tour of the southwest US, visiting the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde and a number of other sites.

Yosemite Pull offTurkey ManEbay Parking LotEbay Parking LotDowntown San JoseDowntown San JoseRidge WineryRidge WineryRidge WineryRidge WineryRidge WineryRidge WineryRest Stop Heading into YosemiteRest Stop Heading into YosemiteRest Stop Heading into YosemiteRest Stop Heading into YosemiteRest Stop Heading into YosemiteStanislausDSCN0295.JPGDSCN0296.JPGDSCN0297.JPGRest Stop Heading into YosemiteRest Stop River ViewDSCN0302.JPG

Southwest Loop 2008, a set on Flickr.

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Motorcycle, Slideshow, Touring


Sturgis 2011

In August of 2011, I finally made a pilgrimage to the motorcycle Mecca: Sturgis.

I traveled by RV, with fellow bikers Bryan and Sam; we traveled by in Bryan’s RV, trailering the bikes.  For Sam & I, it was the first trip the legendary motorcycle rally, but Bryan had been before.  Sam & I both owe a debt a gratitude to Bryan for: organizing the trip and doing (nearly) all the RV driving.  Sturgis is quite the event to attend and the area has some amazing sights.

Even though it was a great trip, I think I’m done with rallies for a while.  I’ve developed a preference the open road and constantly changing scenery to the massive events.

Show BikesCustomizedDevil's TowerDevil's TowerDevil's TowerCustomized
Devil's TowerMount RushmoreCrazy HorseBMW w SidecarBike BuildoffBike Buildoff
Bike BuildoffBike BuildoffCB900 in DeadwoodBadlandsBadlandsBadlands
BadlandsBadlandsBadlandsBadlands - Version 2BadlandsBadlands

Sturgis 2011, a set on Flickr.

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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Motorcycle, Slideshow


New Mexico 2011

In the Spring of 2011, I traveled to New Mexico meeting up with my friends Linda & Dan, and visiting with Jane.  We spent a day in Santa Fe, then a few more days in Albuquerque (where Jane lives).  In just those few days, I feel in love with Albuquerque and hope to move there eventually.  Many of the photos were taken by Linda, check out her site!

Next I traveled to Houston, TX.  When I was a kid, your neighbors & close friends moved Houston.  It had been around 30 years since I had seen them, but (thanks to Facebook) we were able to reconnect and get reacquainted.

After Houston, I made my way back home.

Around Santa FeAround Santa FeAround Santa FeAround Santa FeAround Santa FeAround Santa Fe
Around Santa FeAround Santa FeAround Santa FeDinner with the MorrowsDinner with the MorrowsDinner with the Morrows
MadridMadridHello Kitty ScooterHello Kitty ScooterNuclear MuseumNuclear Museum
Nuclear MuseumOld TownOld TownOld TownBiker JaneCarlsbad Caverns Caverns

New Mexico 2011, a set on Flickr.

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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Motorcycle, Slideshow, Touring


Outer Banks Bike Week 2010

First BreakfastBryan Makes a FriendKite BoardingKite BoardingKite BoardingKite Boarding Kites from the TowerFrom the TowerFrom the TowerKites from the PathMonument TowerTower from Kite FieldFirst Flight Markers
Outer Banks Bike Fest 2010, a set on Flickr.
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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Motorcycle, Slideshow, Touring


Thunder in the Smokies 2009

Jonathan Creek Near ParkCabin DeckCabin DeckTraditional VillageMonumentMonument
MonumentMonument Panorama2Clingmans DomeClingmans DomeClingmans Dome PanoramaJonathan Creek Near Park
Jonathan Creek Near ParkJonathan Creek Near ParkJonathan Creek Near ParkJonathan Creek Near ParkMoutain Farm RestoredMoutain Farm Restored
Moutain Farm RestoredMoutain Farm RestoredMoutain Farm RestoredMoutain Farm RestoredMoutain Farm RestoredMoutain Farm Restored

Thunder in the Smokies 2009, a set on Flickr.

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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Motorcycle, Slideshow, Touring