17 January 2014

Been a Long Time

sorry, life does have a tendency to get in the way once in a while.  This article is not deep thinking, just a quick note about a ride I took the other day.

I was out doing a couple errands and found myself at the edge of town.  In my new location (AZ) when you find yourself at the edge of town you are at the edge of a town.  It seems like when the buildings end there is an abrupt change from town to desert.  This isn't like other areas I've lived, you have a lot of buildings, then a bunch of buildings, followed by some buildings and finally a few buildings before you get to nothingness.  Here it seems (in the majority) to just end at one point.

Anyways, I had just finished and said to myself "Hell I got some time, let's get the bike out in the desert and stretch it's legs a bit".  I head over to AZ60, twist the throttle and it's off to Wickenburg for lunch.  Traffic is nice and light in the early afternoon on a weekday.  A few lucky souls (like me) are out on their bikes and don't forget to pay attention to the blue hairs in their cages.  I believe they are out to hit anything they can some days.

I know my evening meal isn't going to be very healthy so I pick a Subway for lunch, they have good sandwiches and while all that bread isn't the best thing one of their sandwiches is better than a greasy burger.

After a quick bite to eat I head into town remaining on AZ60, I see a bunch of little shops here and there, mental notes are made to check some of them out when time permits.  This isn't a far ride and can be easily done within a few hours (including stops).

I come to Vulture Mine Rd and hang a left, heading south on this road leaves the sun warming your front side for most of the trip.  Granted it doesn't need a lot of warming when it's 68 degrees outside.  This road while it doesn't have the inclines like some of the other twisties around here (those are mountain roads) it does have twisties and some dips here and there.  It actually makes for a fun road to ride, of course the speed limit is a little slow at 40 but push it a little, limited traffic and it's safe.  I can't guarantee of course that you won't get pulled over but I find it worth the chance.

After many miles of this, oh and when you get behind some camper going just at 40 and a little under in some spots, wait for a good straight section before passing.  There are legal passing zones on this road, but many many blind spots.  So after many miles of twisting back and forth, rolling the bike through the curves it opens up a bit and you have some nice long straight sections.  Yep, you guessed it, twist that throttle back as far as it will go and see what it's got.  Pushing 100+ would be no problem in these sections.  Again, I can't guarantee you won't get a nice hefty fine but it is doable and fun.

The limit raises after a while and the twisties become sweepers which are easily taken at 70+.  Not bad for a two lane blacktop, with desert scenery to enjoy along the ride.

I came to the end of that road with a stop sign, took a left and just a couple miles took a right onto 339th Ave.  This leads me to I-10 and back to the homestead.  A nice after noon, just over 100 miles and nothing but sun shining on the face, wind in the hair and music blasting over the MP3 player (gotta have music and mounted speakers these days).  Don't be an asshole like I've seen and use earphones, well if you are an asshole go ahead cuz you'll just help clean out the gene pool.

Ok, so there are some very nice rides out here in the desert wihout having to head up in the mountains.  Even though they are so close (about 1.5 hours away) a round trip of 1 hour is sometimes all that you can do.

Take it easy.

11 August 2013

Group Riding - Yarnell

Group riding is like wearing a helmet, it is a personal preference. I know some people who really dislike group riding, some who enjoy just a few fellow riders with them and those who say the more the merrier. Just because the other biker doesn't share your opinions on group riding doesn't mean they are wrong, just like helmets it is the biker's preference.

We started a local riding group with a couple other friends. It has grown in the past few months to over 30 people, all walks, all levels and all types of bikes. The big thing with this group is not to be a club or have colors of any kind. We just want to get out and ride and enjoy each others company. So far so good, there of course like anything else with a group is a small learning curve that we are going through right now. How does this person ride, how does that person ride, who needs help and who is willing to help. When you ride in a group try to remind yourself that not everyone has the same level of experience and while you should watch out for unsafe practices you can also help those with less experience on how to ride in a group.

We've take a few rides up north, the heat in Phoenix right now is triple digit for the last month+ so riding a motorcycle here is not something you want to do for very long.

Get about 1 hour north of here and you are starting into the mountains and cooler temps, of course you also get a higher chance of rain but that is usually welcome as well. We went up US60 through Wickenburg and then AZ89 into Yarnell. That town was hit hard by a wildfire in June, 19 firemen lost their lives fighting that fire and the community has really rallied together for the cause. The biker community also got involved heavily when it was reported that the idiots from WBC were going to protest a memorial service, never heard that they ended up showing up. Anyways, the first roads we road are very smooth, straight and we can crank up the speed. Once we hit the foothills of the mountains the sweeping curves start, with some great scenery of desert changing over to high desert. Once a little farther north and it starts to turn from high desert into pine trees and green grass. The switchbacks start, the awesome overlooks in this valley or that valley. At one point I swear you could see all the way back to Phoenix but of course being the driver I don't get a long look without stopping. <G> The roads seem to go and go and go, bank the bike right, then a quick upright then bank it left. Follow that with a hard switchback and a couple more tight turns and you keep going up and up. The air pressure is changing, your ears start to pop but whoa don't look at that edge of the cliff where there is no guard rail too long or you may end up in the other lane or worse miss that turn.

Stop at a small mom and pop diner, or greasy spoon for a good meal, right inside of Yarnell is a great little joint. The place is a bit small, no flashy names just dam good food at a reasonable price. If anyone ends up there save room for desert, or do what we did and stop on the way back down the mountain for some pie. If you are really hungry order the cobbler with a scoop of ice cream. You won't be sorry and you won't be hungry.

Back into the valley and the high heat. Luckily it wasn't a long ride back to the house were the bathing suits go one and into the pool to cool off.

I'll write again soon about another ride I took alone a couple weeks after this one. Wether in a group or alone the riding out here is really good. It may take ½ – 1 hour to get out of the valley and heat of the summer but these long straight roads do also offer some excellent riding opportunities.

Take it easy,

19 May 2013

AZ Bike Week

We picked up and moved across the country, some say to a place where even though there are an average of 335 days of sunshine a year, one still can't enjoy 3 months of that year due to the heat. Yep, we moved to the southwest desert area named Phoenix.

Is this bikers heaven with all the sun shine, open straight roads with speed limits that are well maybe just a suggestion in the outer lying areas? Even with the triple digit heat, and we've seen some so far it is different for different people.

Like I've told people many times, every place has it's positives and negatives. Phoenix is no different in that respect.

One of the first things done on the bike was venture to Arizona Bike Week. It seems more and more places are trying to cash in on the biker community spending money at week long rallies. This was a pretty good one, not too small and not too big. They really had events going for 1.5 weeks, the main location being a western spread in the northeast corner of the valley (Phoenix metro area). The site was laid out with a main tent in the middle, local bar setup shop inside the tent on one end and a stage on the other for concerts. On each side of the tent were vendor areas (can't have a biker event without them for financial support). One side had an area sectioned off where dirt bike riders did jumping exhibitions, the x game style of jumping, they were pretty good considering their limited space to work in. On the other end there were the food vendors and another demonstration area for a few different things, the day I was there had safety and a stunt show.

Through out the bike week there were 2-3 concerts per day, many poker rides and other events at outlying sites (like the Harley dealerships). Let's say that being a biker in Phoenix during these two weeks you will not be left with nothing to do, like me having my bike washed by some young lovelies in bikini's.

I was pretty amazed at the amount of people that were drawn in by a ride with two actors from the Sons of Anarchy show, Jackson didn't show but Bobby and Opie did, they also had 2 long ass lines (200+ each) of fans waiting in hot sunshine for an autograph.

It isn't anywhere near as big as Sturgis or Daytona but it is big enough to have a good time, the bands were good and the food was, well fair food which is good just not good for ya. :-)

If you get a chance I would suggest spending some time in Phoenix during the Arizona bike week, less it gets too big then the crowds might be hard to fight and make for a frustrating time. If that happens get on your bike and go for a ride.

Take it easy.


02 April 2013

Ok, well, I know it just didn't seem to work out to well writing about the biker lifestyle and rides while in the Atlanta area.  I have moved across the country to the Phoenix area so maybe this will help give some more to write about.  Hey, I never said I was a professional writer.

I have done one ride since arrival, went down Hwy 85 to Gila Bend, it isn't so much of a windy road with gentle sweeps or even switchbacks, but it was Mar and 80+ degrees, so that made up for the road being pretty straight.  Sometimes it is good to crank the motor up to 75+ mph, put the feet up on the pegs, the body back on the nice back rest behind ya and cruise down the road. 

After a nice cruise, being able to watch the mountains, seeing a little wildlife, finding the motorcross park for Buckeye and of course some state pen we arrived in Gila Bend around 1230 or so.  Getting a little hungry we saw this old style place displaying a space ship on it's roof.  The sign in front of it was white with big blue letters "Space Age Lodge" and the building next to it with the ship on top was the Space Age Diner.  Sitting down with a salad bar and a decent sandwich all being washed down with some Iced Tea made for a good rest stop and refueling.

On the way back we headed up Old Hwy 80, this proved to have less traffic and more local views.  Houses and ranches dotted the sides of the road with fields thrown in for good measure.  We did pass a solar power plant, basically a field with a huge amount of solar panels in rows.  We did find this road while the speed limit to be lower than 85 had many more curves, there also was a bridge by a dam and people fishing in the pond created by the dam.  That was a nice little find, we'll be sure to go back and have time to stop at the bridge and take a look around.

That's about it for now, more later as we have finished getting things unpacked and put away.

Yes, I'm still changing screen names until I find one that fits.

09 August 2012

Weather in ATL

Weather in the Atlanta area

Do real bikers ride in rain? Yes, of course they do; the weather to include the rain doesn't stop a biker from riding unless it is just too dam dangerous. Now, with saying that, it is probably also going to be determined on what type of ride is to take place.

I for one do not like to decide to take a leisurely ride during rainy weather. It was like up in Ohio, if it's too cold then a leisurely ride is not going to happen. You want to enjoy those rides to the best you can, doing it in inclement weather doesn't fit that bill. While riding the bike while being wet isn't real bad, it isn't all that grand either. Add in a little chill to the air and then you most likely will be down right miserable. When you stop for gas and enter the station to pay do people stare because of the snot-cicles dangling off your cheesy smile? While it is fun to see their expressions and I get a good chuckle out of things like that, getting to that point isn't fun. If I am out just for a ride to stretch the old legs and get in the wind I would like to be as comfortable as possible.

The rides that are must rides, Patriot Guard missions – planned trips to further away locations – vacations and etc. are those types of rides where the weather just doesn't matter. Get on the bike and get going, slow it down a bit, give yourself extra time and stop and wait out the worst of it.

I've noticed this year here in Atlanta that you can't predict it all that much. Just yesterday I was working from home and wanted to see what the weather was like. I could hear thunder but saw mostly clear skies out the window. I saw that there was a thunderstorm about 5 miles away but it wasn't moving at all. Checking the radar loop online as I was intrigued by this activity (or lack there of). The online radar loop showed that the storm had developed in place and stayed there. I have seen thunderstorms pop up here and there many times. In this area you just can't count on a clear sky staying a clear sky. Does that mean you stop riding, no, I just pay closer attention and am getting in the habit of giving myself some extra time in case I need to slow down or even stop to wait out a passing storm. Add in the humidity and once you get through a rain shower it takes forever for the drying out process, even at 80mph. Out west where there is low humidity I've seen where a totally soaked cotton shirt had dried in 10 mins.

So here in Atlanta it seems we must deal with the hit-n-miss rain showers, however we are lucky not to have to deal with the 6 months of so of winter and the not so fortunes of having PMS (parked motorcycle syndrome).

Bottom line for me is to deal with it just like the traffic around here, yea it's a headache at times but there are trade-offs. Give yourself extra time to deal with these things and stay off the bike in those 95+ degrees 80%+ humidity days and you can enjoy it all the same.

Take it easy,

16 May 2012

Day ride in north Georgia

Central North Georgia: Riding in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains.

A nice day's ride in the northern Georgia area is in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. The area we ventured into a couple of weekends ago was within north of GA-20, east of I-75, south of the state line and west of GA-400/Dawsonville. I am not saying this is the only area, however this is where we rode. Heading out using route 369, passing through some medium to small towns with mostly residential areas. The farther out one goes the more farms and old chicken coups you will come across. There are of course those areas where newer housing has been built, as with almost any area peoples land (usually 1-5 acres) are now dotted with a single or couple streets with new houses on them, packed in nice and tight so someone gets the most money they possible can. Yellow Creek Rd, route 53 followed by Emily Family parkway all are some nice roads, the conditions are excellent and the sweepers with just enough straight sections provide for a nice ride. Careful on the sight seeing though, I have to remember to keep my eyes on the road <G>. Take a left onto route 52 and venture into the Chattahoochee National Forest, the roads are wonderful, with as many twisties as needed (in my opinion) to make for a fun ride, the sights are excellent, make sure to stop at the scenic view by Fort Mountain, you can't miss it, a general store is on the south side of the road. You can see three different mountain tops from this location, just a short 6 mile jaunt further and you enter the sleepy town of Chatsworth.

From this point we elected to run 41 and 411 down south, mostly along side I-75. There are little towns with small shops and some interesting road side things to see. They sure do like their flea markets in that area <G>.

There are so many roads up in this area and off to the northeast that one can spend a few days of riding just to hit the main roads. Many scenic overlooks to stop at, a few bike shops here and there. This brings me to the crotch rockets, I usually will move over and let them go, for me the rides in these mountains is not to drag my pegs the whole way thru but to enjoy the flow of the bike with the road. Making sure that there is no oncoming traffic, ensuring I am ready to hard brake after brining the bike upright is not my idea of a fun ride. Every so often drag a peg, push it into the corner hard, however doing that on a continuous basis doesn't please my appetite for a nice ride. I prefer to take a more leisurely stroll through the winding mountain roads, with a few quick twisties and a couple straight aways thrown in for good measure. There are all kinds of roads, take the ones that may look a little less travelled and you may just find some very interesting things along the way. Maybe an old run down store that was in it's heyday in the 1950s or 1960s. A little side stop along a stream to take a break and relax a bit.

Those types of roads are all over northern Georgia, just an hour or two north of Atlanta. Get out and enjoy them to their fullest. Travel them often and travel them safely.

02 April 2012

Daytona Bike Week 2012

Daytona Beach Bike Week 2012

A weekend trip away is one of the premier bike events in all of the US, Daytona Bike Week. Being down in this neck of the woods one should put this on their “bucket list”. We did and made the trip last weekend, spending a 4 day weekend at Bike Week 2012 wasn't enough time but it's all we could manage this time around. We ended up heading out Friday morning, the sun glistening off the water on the roofs and cars in the driveways of our neighbors, the temp a mild 60 degrees (hey it is mid March)! We point the bike south on I-75 and pray for limited traffic, after getting around Atlanta on I-285 (if you can use the beltway around the city) we keep going south on I-75. The plan is to use all Interstate for this trip as time is of the essence. Nothing major happened along the way, although I was stretching the fuel mileage a bit to try and make a fuel stop just inside Fla so we can remove the brain buckets that GA makes riders wear (interesting thoughts on that which I'll leave for a not so distant future entry). We were about 2 miles from the state line and she starts to cough a bit, sputter a little more when we are 1 mile from the line. That is when I reached down and switched to reserve, first time ever on this bike I've had to do that (after 43000+ miles not too shabby). I keep watching the mile markers go by and the signs for exits and what services are available. I hate when they don't put services on a sign for an exit and when you pass the exit just beyond the trees is a nice new gas station. How hard can it be to put a sign, even a temporary one, saying there are services at the upcoming exit? Anyways, we fill up and are back on the road in 15 minutes, without the helmets! The rest of the ride, even on I-95 is pretty easy and pleasant.

We arrive at our friends house at exactly what we estimated, good job to the wife for that estimate. A quick unload of the bike, a look around the house and a nice talk on the enclosed patio of their house completes our arrival. Kinda like what the landlords did in Sturgis, our friend hands us a garage door opener and off we go to Main St. We go down Atlantic Blvd which is the main drag along the beach, the line to get onto Main St. isn't too bad, about a 5 min wait or so.

Main St during this week is like a parade, all kinds of vehicles go up and down the street at a crawl and sometimes stop, some do it to show off what they have, don't have or are just cruising the street. We saw all kinds of vehicles from bikes, cars, trucks, bicycles to homemade trikes. The cameras and video cameras are out in full force, keep it by the ready as you'll never know what is going to come next. The sides of the street are line with bikes parked, on lookers watching the parade on the street and those just hanging out and enjoying the scene. There is another parade of people on the sidewalks, sit back (or stand) and watch the people just like the watching the vehicles. You'll see all kinds of makes, models, sizes and types; but please don't bring your younger kids with you, they will see some things you probably didn't want them to see. We found a spot to park the bike right on main street, from what we've been told that was lucky as parking is premium on main street. There is off street parking, however it would cost about $5.00 to park in those lots. People make a few bucks by charging for people to park their vehicles in their yards. Walking the street we got to see most of the interesting people and vehicles, ending up at the beach and the Atlantic ocean. There is a little eatery right on the beach which was priced very well, compared to others we saw on main street. Unfortunately we weren't aware of this place so we ate before, paying about $10.00 for a sausage sandwich. It was good but not worth the money. The prices at these things are so jacked up that you either have to head outside the event area to get normal prices or bite the bullet and pay. We opted for the latter as we didn't feel like getting back on the bike after the 463 mile ride. Spending some time just watching was nice, seeing things you don't see on a normal day is a nice change of pace.

A good night's rest in a nice location (friend's house) and we were ready to roll again. This time our friend's joined us for the days ride and acted as our tour guide. We rode the loop which is a two lane blacktop that winds through some state park/national park type of areas, trees build a natural canopy over the roads, what looks like some swap land, maybe a small forest, some housing areas and of course the beach scene. We saw some houses that were rather large and expensive, right on the water. I am not the type for the larger houses, too much to maintain for my taste, nice to look at though once in a while. A break from riding was taken at a waterside restaurant which had a pier for fishing and docks for boaters to tie up to. Just of shore was a long sandbar, people pulled their boats up to that and either were sun bathing on the sandbar or some were playing with their dogs. That was an interesting to see, people enjoying the “beach” out in the middle of the water.

Back in the saddle again we continued south and made the southern end of the loop in Ponce Inlet. They were having a bike show in the parking lot next to the well kept lighthouse, the second tallest one in the US. We headed back north along Atlantic blvd. for the return trip. After making our way back to the house we decided time to eat dinner, heading to a sort of Irish type place as it was St. Patty's day. A good meal with corned beef, sauerkraut, potatoes, potato pancakes and carrots ended the days riding on the right note. A little more site seeing, our excellent guides showed us little know land marks and of course some of the big ones like the speedway and such.

Another good night's rest and we were ready to go again. This time we ventured to outskirt types of places, the cabbage patch, iron horse, 1st turn grill and back to main street again.

The cabbage patch is a little ways outside the beach area, it used to be a cabbage field, hence the name. A little house like building is the bar, the remaining items they have are temporary outside vendors. These vendors create a large square around what look like a cattle pen in the middle, this pen is about 150ft x 150ft with a large mound of dirt in the center. Yep, that is where they do the coleslaw wrestling, we were there at midday on the last day of the event, no wrestling for us to watch. We were told it can get a bit crazy and definitely crowded when the wrestling takes place. We walked the vendors, got a couple of items then settled down for a cool drink by the band playing. There was a lady with the band who sang just like Janis Joplin. Back on the bikes and off to the Iron Horse Saloon.

There was a larger crowd at the Iron Horse, where after you pull in you park mostly under the boardwalk which is approximately 20 ft overhead. You can walk around on the ground level where there are plenty of merchandise items for sale, bars to get a drink from, bikes to admire or a stage to listen to live music. We ventured up on the boardwalk first, two or three bars one of which is made out of an old school bus. We checked out the merchandise then headed across the street to other vendors to see what was there. Coming across some guys packing up some older bikes, a 1917 military Harley to a 1954 vintage Harley and an old Indian (not sure of the year). There used to be a bar on this side of the street however it had burned down a couple of years prior. Never having the money to rebuild the bar never went back up, they did however have and extra building next door and used that during the two bike events, the bar stools were old toilets. Like most areas at bike events this location was setup for some type of live music with a stage and sound system in the back of the property. Back at the Iron Horse we stayed for a few songs from David Allen Coe and his wife, still does a good tune.

We had lunch at the 1st Turn Bar and Grill, named due to the speedway and Daytona's association with stock car racing. A sports bar which during bike week add outdoor bars, seating and vendors. A stage for live music was in the center of the outdoor area. We opted to eat indoors with the air conditioning as there was little to no activity outside.

We ended the day with another evening of people and vehicle watching on main street. This being the last day of the bike event we were seeing more spring break type of people on main street. What we call kids in bathing suits walking the streets with a bunch of bikers was yet another different scene we hadn't seen before. Of course some of those young college girls in bikinis could have picked a better place to parade their stuff.

We ended up back at the house for the night, sitting in the covered porch chatting with our friends about the days activities and just life in general. We turned in early as the next day was to be another 460+ miles of riding to get back home. The trip back was uneventful and free of major traffic, leaving the day after the event ended was actually a smart move, we heard the freeways were jammed with bikers and trailers heading north but our day was pretty clear of that mess.

All in all a good trip, our first time to Daytona Bike Week and we enjoyed it. Sights to see, people watching and of course some really nice riding made the four day weekend complete. If you ever come across one of these events I recommend you at least experience it just to see what it is like and what kind of screwballs you can see cuz you will definitely see some. They say it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, get thousands of bikers together and you'll see plenty of those kinds.

Take it easy.