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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Scenic Roads #1 - #5

This is part 2 of 2 about my choice of the top ten scenic roads I have ridden.

Part 1 of 2 - Scenic Roads #6 - #10 post        video

As stated in part 1 - "Scenic Roads" are roads with great views and/or wildlife viewing opportunities.  These views are worth slowing down for and/or parking the bike to enjoy the surroundings for a moment.  Some of the "roads" I have chosen are really combinations of roads fitting together as one ride/route.

5) Tennesse 165/ North Carolina 143 a.k.a. Cherohala Skyway  - Map -  43 miles.  The Cherohala Skyway runs from Tellico Plains, TN (860 feet) to the Santeetiah Gap (2,660 feet) north of Robbinsville, NC.  The Santeetiah Overlook is the highest overlook of the Skyway at 5,390 feet.  The Skyway has a great combination of twisties and sweeping curves.  There are numerous overlooks along the road, each provides an awesome view of the Smoky Mountains. The Skyway runs though the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests and very little signs of civilization are seen, other the road and the vehicles on it.

Cherohala Skyway on the NC side

4) Yellowstone National Park roads - Map - 310 miles of paved road.  The roads in Yellowstone National Park provides the most diverse and unique scenery of any road I have traveled and of course home of the world famous Old Faithful.  The park roads run through Lamar Valley, known as America's Serengeti because the amount of wildlife in the valley (the valley is home to bison, elk, wolves, and has the highest concentration of grizzly bears) and Hayden Valley, also home to a large amount of wildlife. Eagle Peak (11,358 ft - highest peak in YNP) and Mt. Washburn (10,219 ft) are two of the many awesome mountains in the park.  Geysers, waterfalls, rivers, canyons, valleys, mountains, wildlife, wildflowers are all park of the experience as you ride through the park. The 45 mph speed limits and "bison jams" (everyone stops when they see wildlife) means there is not any knee dragging or floorboard scraping, but the views are great!
 Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is spectacular
I really struggled on the order of the top 3 on my list.  I kept switch them back and forth.  I finally just had to make a decision - here it goes.

3) Colorado 550 a.k.a. Million Dollar Highway - Map - 70 miles.  The official Million Dollar Highway is the 25 miles between Ouray and Silverton, but most people refer to the entire stretch from Durango to Ouray as the Million Dollar Highway.  The road transverses (south to north) Coal Bank Pass (10,640 ft), Molass Pass (10,910 ft), and Red Mountain Pass (11,018 ft).  CO 550 cuts through the Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests and runs along the Animas River on the southern end.  With steep cliffs, high road grades, narrow lanes, hairpin turns, sweeping curves, and a lack of guardrails caution and care is vital.  The mountain peaks are plentiful and high.  There are 13 mountains over 14,000 ft in the area.  The historic towns of Ouray, Silverton, and Durango have a lot to offer including the famous Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  The views are breathtaking, so pull over and enjoy, there is not a lot of "forgiveness" on these mountain roads.
Million Dollar views and curves on CO 550

2) US 212 (Montana and Wyoming) a.k.a. The Beartooth Highway - Map - 67 miles (Red Lodge, MT - Cooke City, MT).  Beartooth Highway crosses the Beartooth Mountains from Montana to Wyoming back to Montana with about 34 miles in Wyoming.  Passing through parts of Shoshone National Forest and Custer National Forest the road zig zags up the mountain to the 10,947 foot Beartooth Pass and spectacular vistas.  Some of the switchbacks are really sharp, but quite enjoyable.  Near the pass the road levels off on a plateau offering views for miles (on a clear day)!  Numerous lakes can be seen from the road including Beartooth Lake at 9,000 ft.  Bear, wolf, mountain goat, and various species of birds have been seen in the area.  A great place to stop for refreshments is the Top of the World Store and Resort.  Enjoy a cold drink from the porch at 9,400 ft and soak in the view.
Oz leading the group on Beartooth Highway - July 2010
1) US 34 Colorado a.k.a. Trail Ridge Road (TRR) through Rocky Mountain National Park - Interactive Map - 64 miles (including Bear Lake Road and Moraine Ave).  The combination of wildlife and views propelled Trail Ridge Road to the #1 spot.  The amount of wildlife I have seen while traveling this road exceeds all others.  Bighorn Sheep, elk, dear, coyote, and fox are common.  Not as common is moose, but my son and I have seen three moose northeast of Grand Lake in the Kawuneeche Vallwy on two different occasions.  TRR ascends above timberline to an altitude of 12,183 feet giving US 34 the distinction of being the highest continuous highway in America.  TRR crosses the Continental Divide at Milner Pass (10,759 ft).  TRR passes the Alpine Visitor Center which sits at 11,796 ft and has a restaurant, snack bar, gift shop, and restrooms, it is a great place to take a break and enjoy the surroundings. TRR overlooks west of Milner Pass provide views of the Colorado River Headwaters, Mount Ida (12,880 ft) and Kawuneeche Valley.

The sights are too numerous to mention all of them.  This road is well traveled, but well worth the time.  I think you find all 10 Scenic Roads great rides and you will take a lot of photos.

Link to video of Scenic Roads #1 - #5 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scenic Roads #6 - #10

Since I started seeing the world from the seat of a motorcycle I have notice rivers and mountains are the two best road designers and when they collaborate the resulting road is awesome.  When planning rides I look for the roads near rivers and/or mountains. 
Mountain roads are never straight for very long
I have ridden in only 22 of our 50 great states; however, I have developed quite a list of roads that I would love to ride time after time and I would recommend to fellow riders.

I had hoped to develop a "Top 10" list, but I found it very difficult to narrow it down to just ten.  Some roads provide awesome and/or breathtaking views while other roads provide great curves making it impossible not to smile.  Both types are great, but difficult to compare, so I have developed my "Top 10 Scenic Roads" and "Top 10 Twisty Roads."

Scenic Roads #6 - #10
Scenic Road #1 - #5                     
Twisty Roads#6 - #10
Twisty Roads #1 - #5
          Links will become "live" as I complete each post.

"Scenic Roads" are roads with great views and/or wildlife viewing opportunities.  These views are worth slowing down for and/or parking the bike to enjoy the surroundings for a moment.  Some of the "roads" I have chosen are really combinations of roads fitting together as one ride/route.
The views are just better from the seat of a motorcycle
Disclaimer: I realize my experiences are not as vast as many riders; however, I hope the information provides useful. It is not an exhaustive list of the thousands of great roads in the USA, but it covers a decent amount of this great country.

10) Colorado 65 a.k.a. Grand Mesa Scenic Byway  Map - 63 miles. - The Grand Mesa Scenic Byway starts about 17 miles of Grand Junction on I70 (exit 49) and ends when it intersects CO 92 near Delta, CO.  The Grand Mesa is the largest mesa in the world!  The road has numerous great curves and rises almost 6,000 feet to 11,000 feet and the temperature drops as the elevation rises.  The visitor center sits at 10,200 feet and has a great view of Island Lake.  Winding down the south side of the mesa CO 65 runs through the neat small town of Cederedge. 
Island Lake seen from the visitor center
9) Pine Junction area to Woodland Park, Colorado - County Road 126 & CO 67 - Map - 47 miles.  With Mt. Evans near the northern end and Pikes Peak at the southern end riding either direction provides a great view of two of the 53 14er's (mountains with peaks at or above 14,000 feet) in Colorado.  The route runs through the Pike National Forest and crosses the South Platte River at Deckers, a good place to stop for a drink, snack, and the view.  When in Woodland Park my son and I have to eat at our favorite Colorado restaurant, the Hungry Bear,!
Never Summer Range as seen from CO 14
8) Colorado 14 a.k.a. Cache La Poudre Canyon Road - Map - 89 miles.  The road runs between Walden, Colorado and the CO 14/US 287 intersection on the west side of Fort Collins.  Carving through the canyon CO 14 runs along the Cache La Poudre River, through the Roosevelt National Forest, over Cameron Pass (10,276 feet), and through Colorado National Forest (east to west).  This area, known as North Park, is the "Moose Capitol of Colorado."  While on my 2010 summer trip we say two bull moose and two cows!  Be careful and watchful especially during dawn and dusk.  The road is surrounded by the beautiful Medicine Bow Mountains and snow capped Never Summer Range. 

Mountain Goat beside the Mt. Evans SB - keep your eyes open!

7) Mount Evans, Colorado - Squaw Pass Road (CR 66 and CO 103) and Mt. Evans Scenic Byway  (CO 5) - Map - 32 miles.  Squaw Pass Road, starting at the intersection of CR 66 and CO 74 a few miles south of I70, has a lot of curves as it climbs up the side of the mountain towards Echo Lake and the entrance to the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway.  Squaw Pass' elevation is 9,807 feet and offers great views.  The Mt. Evans Visitor Center sits at about 10,600 feet and is near beautiful Echo Lake.  From the visitor center CO 5/Mt. Evans SB climbs to the summit parking lot (about 14,150 for parking and the summit is 14,264).  Mountain goats are a common site near the summit.  The view of the surround mountains is incredible!  One can see the tops of other mountains and on a clear day Denver can be seen.
Mesa Falls is worth stopping to see.  My son taking picture of Jerry at the falls
6) Grand Tetons, WY - Map - 261 miles.  I am kind of cheating on this one because it includes multiple roads, two national parks, and three states but it is a route we rode one day during our Yellowstone trip.  The route : West on US 20 from West Yellowstone/ MT through Island Park, ID (great breakfast place) turn south on ID 47 a.k.a. Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (beautiful - worth the ride and time) to Ashton, ID, turn east on ID 32 a.k.a. Teton Scenic Byway to Tetonia, ID, turn south on ID 33 to Victor, ID continue on ID 33/WY 22 a.k.a. Teton Pass Highway to Jackson, WY, turn north on US 191/US 287 through Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park back to West Yellowstone.  The views of the Tetons from both the west and east side are incredible.  The mountains seem to just rise out of the surrounding flat land.  The opportunities to see deer, elk, bison, moose, antelope, and even bear are plentiful.  (I will post about the roads through YNP later).  There are numerous places to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
View of the Tetons from SH 33 near Driggs, ID
Check out this link to view video of Scenic Roads #6 - #10. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

You gotta stop here! Lake City Bakery

If you read many of my posts you know that I love to eat, especially when it comes to local one of kind establishments.  There is something special about the service, atmosphere, the people, and flavor at those places.

On the recommendation of my youngest sister (I have seven - for real), I made plans to stop at the Lake City Bakery while riding the Silver Thread Scenic Byway in southwest Colorado.  I was really looking forward to riding the Silver Thread, I had heard a lot about the historic road and towns. I was not disappointed.

I left Montrose, Colorado early June 27th, but I did not eat breakfast because I was going to stop at the bakery.  The ride was great.  I saw a cow elk as I ascended out of the Grand Valley on my way east on US 50.  At the east end of the Blue Mesa Reservoir I turned south on CO 149 and rolled on the throttle.

With very little traffic, a lot of curves, and plenty of elevation change the FJR was singing, I was smiling, and the stomach was growling. Officially the Silver Thread Scenic Byway does not start until Lake City and runs south 75 miles to South Fork, CO, but all of CO 149 is great.

As I neared the small town of Lake City I started looking for the small house bakery on the west side of the road.  I saw the occupied tables and chairs in front of a small white with blue trim building and knew I had found the bakery.

Cozy little Lake City Bakery welcomes customers


While parking I saw a steady stream of morning customers entering and exiting with big smiles.  The customer area is very small.  Three adults will fill up the space, but the aroma of fresh pastries makes the cramped quarters enjoyable.

There were so many options.  Donuts, muffins, pastries, breakfast burritos, sausage rolls, and more!  Being a lover of blueberries I chose the blueberry cheese pocket.  I sat outside and enjoyed every bite.  It was so fresh and tasty.  I found it difficult not to go buy more stuff!
 Blueberry cheese pocket
 I continued on the Silver Thread to Creede, CO before turning around and returning to Montrose.  On the way back through Lake City I ate lunch and could not resist the pull to stop by the bakery one more time.  I bought the Blueberry Crunch to take with me.  I was going to enjoy it at an overlook of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Blueberry Crunch!
While enjoying the scenery at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison I savored every bite of the Blueberry Crunch.  I was very impressed with both items from the bakery.  I know that the next time I am in Lake City, Colorado I will be stopping by the Lake City Bakery!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
If you are in the southwest area of Colorado make sure to ride the Silver Thread and enjoy some great food at the Lake City Bakery.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Visit Texas for good food, good riding, and world class racing.

We are excited here in Texas about hosting MotoGP races on the new track in Austin, Texas - April 19-21, 2013.  More info
New track in Austin - photo from twowheelmania.com
This will be a great race at a great venue.  Austin is in the heart of Texas and is the state capital.  It is also on the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country, home of some of the best riding in the south.  Here is a link to some of my posts concerning the Hill Country.  The Three Twisted Sisters is the premiere route in the Hill Country.
 The Hill Country has a lot of twisties
and a lot of ups and downs!
There are a lot of great places and roads in Texas - Link

If you want information concerning tickets for the MotoGP races you can find it here.

Ride, drive, trailer, fly, sail, or come by train, but come and visit us in Texas.  You will enjoy the hospitality, the roads, the food, and the races.  Maybe we can even all meet up and enjoy some great Texas bar-b-que or Tex-Mex.

Let me know if you are coming and if you need some suggestions on routes, restaurants,... just let me know.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Luggage for the Ninja

Quality motorcycle luggage is important for multi-day trips.  Soft motorcycle luggage is never quite as "water-proof" or durable as hard luggage, but often time is more economical and convenient.

This spring I was planning out the trip to Florida that my son and I would take.  This would be the first time he would be riding his own motorcycle, a Ninja 250.  I knew he needed some luggage for the trip, but I new there is not a huge selection for the Ninja 250.

While at the Maxim Honda (Allen, TX) Open House I spoke with a representative from Cycle Case who was showing a new line of Hi-Viz luggage.  After checking it out I bought some for my son's bike.
The color of the bags will catch the cagers' attention
Installation was easy.  The adjustable  (hook and loop) seat strap connecting the two saddlebags was easy to customize to the appropriate length for the Ninja.  The trunk fastened to the saddlebags using quick release type fasteners.  We ended up using some bungee cords to secure the truck so we could move the trunk back and not crowd the rider.
Rain cover looks good, wish it was also "Hi-Viz"
The saddle bags are equipped with an attached "waterproof" rain cover conveniently located in a zippable small pocket on the bottom edge closest to the bike.  The convenience is nice, but the covering does not cover the side closest to the bike and does not have a draw string to tighten the cover securely on the saddlebag, instead it has an elastic strap sewn into the opening of the cover.  We found this to be a big problem.  Water eventually soaked through that side during a long period of riding in the rain.  The cover had a tendency to blow off after a period of time.  At one point the left side cover came off and was chewed up by the chain and sprocket.
Rain cover storage on each saddlebag
The attached straps for the trunk are neatly tucked away at each corner on the bottom.  The rain cover for the truck is stored inside the trunk, but does not have a designated storage area.  The trunk's rain cover worked fine.  It was easy to place on the trunk and secured with the elastic band sewn inside, although the cover needed to be pulled tight and tucked under the back side of the trunk.
Truck straps tuck into pockets on each corner, loops for alternative securing are provided
The bags are well made and a good value for the price.  The visibility is top-notched.  The mounting and securing is easy and convenient.  If you don't ride much in the rain these are great economical bags.

The rain covers are a big negative to the bags.  First off, I don't understand why you cover hi-viz bags with black at a time when visibility is even more important - in the rain!  Second, the lack of options to tighten and secure the cover is a great oversight.

I think the company has a good product, but needs to make some changes to make it an above average product.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Great routes for the Fall

The following is a guest post with some great ideas.



3 Great Routes in the USA for Autumn Riding
In the United States, the fall season is one of the most-loved times of the year. The air is beginning to chill, but the sun is still golden with warmth during the day. The leaves paint the landscape with vibrancy, and for motorcycle lovers, the open road is the place to be. Temperatures and weather conditions are perfect for riding, and interstates are often free of congestion, as school is back in session.
 Bright Autumn colors (photo from www.wikimediacommons.org)
This year, find some time to take your bike out for a peaceful ride through the countryside or down one of these three routes, which often boast the best in autumn leaf colors and natural landscapes.

Interstate 93
New England is one of the best places in the United States for fall foliage, and I-93 is a great road to take to see the best of what the region has to offer. The interstate’s southern-most point is in Canton, Massachusetts, near Boston, and its northern-most point is near St. Johnsbury, Vermont. For most of its length, the interstate indirectly parallels U.S. Route 3, so if you feel like veering off the path and getting into more rural territory, you have that option. With a path that runs through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, I-93 also goes through the White Mountain National Forest and is just a short drive from Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

U.S.Route 23/Interstate 26
Beginning in Ashland, Kentucky, U.S. Route 23 winds south through the Appalachian hills of the eastern part of the state. Once in Tennessee, you’ll veer off onto Interstate 26, which will take you through the thick of the Cherokee National Forest and the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains. Keep traveling southeast through the hills of North Carolina, and you will have followed nearly the same route of many of America’s frontiersmen. This route is one of the best, yet least talked about, for fall colors and natural landscapes. There are also plenty of two-road rural roads to exit off and on to throughout the trip. Just be sure to bring along a map or GPS to find connections back onto the interstate. 
 Smoky Mountains near Tennessee/North Carolina state line
(photo by Motor Oz during 2011 summer trip)
The Scenic Byways of Yellowstone National Park
Fall in Yellowstone is quite different from the northeast and southeast parts of the country. Foliage is sparse, but the natural landscape as a whole is breathtaking. To get the most out of your Yellowstone experience, book a room at a lodge and plan to take a few days to complete all of the park’s scenic byways. Road options to travel include U.S. Route 191 (which links to Big Sky, Montana from the north and Grand Teton from the south), U.S. Route 212 (which runs northeast through Cooke City, Montana and Red Lodge, Montana) and U.S. Route 14 (which connects to Cody, Wyoming), among smaller routes in the center of the park.
 US 212 a.k.a. Beartooth Highway
(photo by Motor Oz during summer 2010 trip)
Stacy Holmes is a freelance blogger for www.MotorcycleInsurance.com. She’s been a motorcycle enthusiast since childhood and loves to write about purchasing and maintaining a bike and having fun on the open road. Please leave your comments or questions for Stacy below!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two years on the Yamaha FJR - a review

Early morning, after workout and before work
September 15, 2010 - I picked up my first non-cruiser, the Yamaha FJR (pre-owned with only 751 miles).  I posted my initial impressions seven days later.  I was impressed and excited about a new style of riding and a bike with a lot of power.

Six months and 6,000 miles later another "review" of the bike was posted.  I had taken the FJR on only one multi-day trip and I was still learning a lot about riding a sport tourer.

Today, 734 days and 33,249 miles later, I enjoy the FJR more than ever!
Actual miles - September 19, 2012
Here is a little background that has influenced my thoughts on the bike: 
(I live in McKinney, Texas)
Trip to North Carolina/Tennessee state line - seven days, five trips on the Tail of the Dragon, and a lot of miles in the Smoky Mountains
One trip to Florida
One trip to southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana
Four trips to Arkansas and the Talimena Drive
One trip to Colorado/Northeast New Mexico - Camping off the bike, several miles on gravel, numerous mountain passes, Million Dollar Highway, Silver Thread Scenic Byway, and Enchanted Circle (NM).
Five days in Texas Hill Country
A lot of days commuting to work
Numerous benefit rides, dinner rides, breakfast rides, ice cream rides (see a pattern :) )
Loaded down for the camping trip in Colorado/New Mexico
 There are several scratches and signs of use, but the performance has been nonstop awesome!

The acceleration of a 1,300 in-line 4 is exhilarating.   It has so much snap and torque.  As I have gotten more familiar with the bike and the riding style I have enjoyed the "take off" a lot.  The 144 horses provides so much power in every gear.  Passing a vehicle is so easy and quick,  I have to be cognitive that the riders following me may not be able to pass as quickly.
Following Hugh on the Honda Saber improved my gas mileage
The economy is good.  When on longer trips the highway mileage can get as high as 55 mpg.  This past summer my friend on his Honda Saber lead 90% of the time on the Colorado/New Mexico trip.  He did not accelerate aggressively and maintained a good speed.  Up until I had a day of riding by myself I was getting 54.5 mpg!  Most of the time with a mixture of city and highway miles I am getting 42 mpg.
Riding the Silver Thread Scenic Byway reduced the MPG, but sure was fun!
I get a lot of questions about the comfort of the bike.  I readily admit the FJR does not have the same creature comforts of the Venture.  I have a harder time extending my legs and the Corbin seat is harder, but I have done well on the trips and I am not ready to change.  The "grin factor" of the ride out weights any of the minor discomforts.

The adjustable windshield is great.  Being able to adjust it while riding has been very helpful, especially when encountering rain.  The detachable luggage is great.  I love being about to carry the saddlebags and truck to the room or campsite.  
It is fun to leave the bags at home and taking the FJR out with the sport bikes and it looks so good!
Hard to tell it is a touring bike
The handling is very impressive.  I am sure that I have not pushed the bike to its limits, but I have leaned into some corners at high speeds with easy.  When riding the Tail of the Dragon it was easy to maneuver through the curves, even when I had a passenger.  Several times the peg feelers kissed the pavement.  It took me a while to learn how to "shift a cheek and drop a knee" and roll through the corners, but the FJR makes it easy.  Best handling bike I have owned so far.
Enjoying the cornering abilities of the FJR
I added the J and M CB/Audio system, GenMar handlebar risers, grip puppies, and the Cobin seat.  The Corbin lowered the seat 1.5 inches which was good since I am only 5'6".

Maintenance has not been difficult.  Both the oil and final drive oil is very easy and straightforward.  The radiator flush and change took some reading and careful work with the fairing.  Spark plug change was not difficult other than learning how to remove the appropriate fairing parts.  When I changed the plugs (later than recommended) I found the plugs in great shape. They looked almost unused.  The engine is so efficient. 

I did not attempt the valve adjustment, that was too involved for me, but my mechanic friend said they were still in range.

The two major "cons" of the FJR for me are: high center of gravity, especially for a short guy & tire wear.  I do realize riding aggressiveness has a great impact on the life of a tire, but it sure is difficult not to "get on it!"

I love the bike and I hope to have her for years to come.  I highly recommend the FJR for anyone who enjoys touring and great performance.

On a personal note, I have been delayed in posting this past couple of months.  I am very blessed to have a mom that turned 92 in June and a dad that will be 88 in October, but as the years have gone by I have been spending more time visiting and assisting them.  I will try to not take so long between post.
An amazing and wonderful couple at the June, '12 family reunion.
I am so blessed to have them as my parents.




Saturday, July 28, 2012

A post to share a post.

Today I was catching up on my reading of the other blogs I enjoy.  Our Harley Days blog had a great post where he shared a video clip from a popular show in Texas "Texas Country Reporter."

I thought is was a great clip and I wanted to share it, below is the link to the blog with the video clip.

Check it out and for those not in Texas - come down some time and enjoy the Texas Hill Country.

LINK
Texas Hill Country

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Florida trip with son continues

As mentioned in an earlier post day one of the trip was great.  Days 2 and 3 were both overcast with just a few sprinkles.  The temperatures stayed under 86 for all but the last half of the 3rd day.  It was on the third day that we learned an important lesson.

Day 2 started off rainy as we were packing up and eating breakfast.  By the time we were ready to load the bikes the rain had stopped, but it was very cloudy.
Rainy morning - day 2
All went great as we rode through Mississippi and into Alabama.  We were traveling on US 84 a.k.a. El Camino Corridor.  Most of the highway is divided 4 lane although there were stretches on 2 lane.  Louisiana and Alabama had the least amount of 4 lane.


I was wanting to stop at state lines and get photos, but there were not any big signs or good photo locations, so we just kept riding.  We were trying to make it to Valdosta, Georgia before stopping for the evening.
Taking a break in Repton, Alabama
After stopping in Enterprise, Alabama for a very late lunch we made it through Dothan, AL making great time.  We gassed up near Gordon, AL and that is when I noticed the chain on the Ninja was really loose and needed to be tightened.

I will readily admit that I am pretty ignorant concerning chain driven motorcycles.  I have never owned one and we were trying to make sure it was lubed well during the trip.  With the help from the service station mechanic we adjusted the chain and decided to stop earlier in Bainbridge, GA.  (I did not think of getting a photo of our roadside adjustment, but it would not have been a very exciting photo.)  I was concerned and wanted to have someone check the chain the next day.  We decided we would turn south the next day and ride to Tallahassee, FL and let a bike shop check our work.  405 miles for day 2 - not bad.


We rolled into Red Hills Powersports in Tallahassee and service manager Charlie Blount inspected the chain and all was good.  He told us to check it often and keep it lubricated.  Leaving Tallahassee we rode down US 19 to Chiefland, FL and then east on US 27 to Ocala, FL to meet up with father-in-law Larry who would lead us on some back roads to Altamonte Springs.

He led us on some nice roads through the Ocala National Forest to Alexander Springs, a natural spring that is a favorite for snorkelers and families looking to abate the summer heat.

Larry and Richard (on left) looking at Alexander Springs
Alexander Springs remains near 72 degrees year round
I had been checking the chain regularly during the day so I checked it again.  It was loose, but did not seem too loose (I have some things to learn about chains).  We were about 50 miles from home so I figured we could get home and then adjust the chain.

Experience is a great teacher, but the tuition can surprise you at times. About 20 miles down the road as we turned left and began to speed up the chain broke.  Appears I should have tightened the chain.  The short version - we got the bike home and then to Seminole Powersports the next day.  My wife brought the sprockets from home on her flight to Orlando.  I had to purchase the chain, but the bike is now fixed and we have learned about chains.

Now we are enjoying our time in Florida and will be much more diligent with the chain on our way home.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Rider is Rolling Along!

In the last four weeks the young rider (my son) has gained some great riding experience and some superb maintenance knowledge.

He got his license on June 13, 2012 and on Friday June 15th he rode on his first "breakfast run" as a biker.   A lot of friends and McKinney CMA members surprised him at Bill Smith's Cafe for breakfast.
Breakfast with friends
After breakfast the group gathered around Richard and the Ninja for a bike blessing - asking God to watch over him and keep him safe.  It was a special time.  Afterwards some of us went for a 45 mile loop through the country.
14 bikers (not counting Richard and me) showed up to surprise and support the new rider (3 not pictured)
 After getting back from the morning ride we packed the bikes and rode 50 miles (mostly farm to market roads) from McKinney, TX to Denton, TX for my family reunion.  On Sunday we took the busier and more direct route back home.  We continued to add up the miles over the weeks.


Saturday July 7th we took in another breakfast at Bill Smith's and were honored with Ninja 250 Guru "Doc" Yeager (check out Doc's Blog with some great info).  Russ, who's 15 year old son has a ninja, and I asked Doc to give us and our sons some lessons on Ninja maintenance, we bribed him with a high quality breakfast.
Doc & Russ getting ready.
After breakfast we rode to Russ' garage for a day of wrenching.  Doc got the boys busy quickly.  He taught the basics of a 4 stroke engine, how and when to lube the chain, etc.  After the basic lessons it was time for valve adjustments.  Doc had the boys taking off the fairing and getting things ready to check the valves.  
Naked bikes!
Doc instructs Richard on how to check valve clearance
Father and son working on the bike
Getting his fingers dirty
After both Ninja's valves were adjusted Doc helped the boys add power plugs to the bike so they could charge cell phones, etc when on trips.  The boys learned a lot.   Thanks Doc!

With the Ninja serviced, the boy licensed, and some miles in the saddle the time arrived for the big summer trip - McKinney to Orlando, FL!  We left the house at 6:08 AM and headed east.  282 miles later we enjoyed lunch in Natchitoches, LA (a post about Papa's Bar & Grill will be coming later),
Taking a break in Logansport, Lousiana
Prior to lunch we enjoyed overcast skies and cooler than average temps.  After lunch we rode through off and on rain, mostly a light drizzle.  After 510 miles our day ended in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

He rode like a rider with a lot of miles under his belt (I may a little biased, but he did not make any noticeable mistakes).  

Today was a great day and I am looking forward to tomorrow as we head to Valdosta, Georgia and many more miles with my son.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

He is legal!!

It took longer than I thought, but it is done - Richard is now a legal licensed motorcyclist. 
Arrived home ready to show off his paper!
Getting a motorcycle license for a 15 year old takes several steps (at least in Texas, but I suspect most states are very similar).  We opted for the parent taught program.

Steps:
1) Obtain a drivers permit (allowing a driver to drive when accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old).  This required the first 6 hours of "classroom" instruction and passing the state "Driver's Permit" test.  (3 hours at the DMV to get this done)

2) Complete and pass the Motorcycle Safety Course.  He completed and passed the course even with the test portion taking place in some light rain. 

3) Complete the remaining 26 hours of "classroom" instruction.  This took some time because school was ending and there were a lot of activities and tests.

4) Pass the Class C test.  (3.5 hours of waiting just to take the test!)  This was accomplished Monday (June 11). 

5) Schedule a riding test and then pass the riding test (scheduled test are 6 weeks out!  Collin County has one DMV to service a very populated area).  So how did he get to take the riding test so soon?
Ready to take the test
Here is the story behind getting scheduled so quickly.

After he finished the test on Monday the lady finalizing the paperwork mentioned she was a new employee.  She never mentioned to us anything about scheduling the riding test.  Once out of the building I checked the paperwork.  She had issued a class CM license (which is the designation for a motorcycle license)!  I called a friend in the sheriff department and told him what was on the paper.  Sure enough it was legal.  We were pumped that we would not have to suffer through the long lines.

Later I got a message - the DMV had caught the mistake and I needed to call them first thing Tuesday morning.  I called at 8:00 when they opened.  Since it was their mistake they would give him the test as soon as I could get him and the bike to the DMV!   "We will be there at 8:00 tomorrow morning", I said.

We arrived and were assisted as soon as they opened.  He was taking his first legal ride home by 9:00!

On the way home as a licensed biker!
We are both stoked!  He followed me home.  We stayed off the main roads, but he did great! 

He will only ride when I am riding for now.  I will ride with him to youth group tonight (he is ready to show his friends) and we will start riding a lot.  He needs to get some miles in the saddle before we leave for Orlando, Florida on July 11th.
Proud dad and new biker
Let the adventures and awesome memories begin.