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Friday, October 6, 2017

Arai Helmet Review - are they work the money?

I have owned six full face helmets made by four different manufacturers over the years.  I have been very budget-minded when purchasing gear.  Many of my friends have worn more expensive helmets and I wondered if the money spent was really worth it.

In July 2016 I spent the most I ever had for a new helmet when I bought the Bell Qualifer DLX.  The helmet came with the awesome Transitions® Adaptive Shield.  In November 2016 I wrote a review on the Bell Qualifer DLX.
Bell Qualifier DLX
Earlier in October 2016 I attended an event with a silent auction benefiting CMA Run For the Son and I won the silent auction for a pre-owned (worn about 5 times) Arai Profile Hotrod helmet (Hotrod graphics).  The helmet had no signs of usage and reports were it had been worn very little.  For $85 I thought "how can I go wrong?"  This was an inexpensive way to get first hand experience and knowledge about a high-end helmet. The graphics are not what I would have chosen in a perfect situation, but the yellow stands out and probably is more visible to automobile drivers. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgX_co4_P_E
Arai Profile - Hotrod
I did not start wearing the Arai helmet until January, after I secured a second Sena 20S helmet mount.  I could now transfer the Sena 20S from Bell helmet to Arai helmet without having to move the mount and speakers.

At first I rotated usage of the helmets.  By March I was wearing the Arai for every ride.  The two major reasons for wearing the Arai full time were the ventilation and the reduced wind noise.  The helmet is one of my best buys!  Here is my full video review of the helmet - Arai Profile Video Review


I still live on a budget, but now I have added a savings jar for my next Arai helmet.  I fully understand why so many riders spend the money for high-end helmets. 



Monday, September 18, 2017

Thoughts on my first trip out of the USA

In October, 2016 I announced I would be traveling outside of the USA for the first time ever.  I would be heading to Europe for a three part trip.  I would be attending a MotoGP race in historic Mugello, enjoying 10 days of WW2 and castle sites with some friends and end with 7 days of riding in the Alps, both in Switzerland and Italy, on a rented BMW.
Breakfast with my son before heading to DFW airport
I left on June 2, 2017 and landed back in Dallas on June 26, 2017 with some amazing stories, photos, videos and memories.  In one word the trip was AWESOME.  There were a few moments of stress, but it all turned out good.
Beautiful lake in the Swiss Alps
The moments of stress included: trying to find transportation to and from the MotoGP races, having an older (with no service) phone pick-pocketed while on the train in Paris (I was using it as a camera primarily), getting to my Airbnb lodging one day and the host did not respond to messages or show up and finally loosing my passport (yes, that is right - I lost my passport).  Each situation worked out in fine fashion.
Italian love their motorcycles and scooters - Florence, Italy
The six mile walk to find a train station after the race provided me the opportunities to burn calories (I then could eat more gellato!), see the Italian countryside and meet a very polite and helpful young man from the USA who was in Europe for six weeks by himself after graduating from college.
The MotoGP fans were awesome - great energy at the races
No valuable info was on the phone/camera (although I took precautions and changed passwords...) and I learned to keep my valuables in a secure pocket and stay alert.  Airbnb customer service was helpful and quickly resolved the issue.
Enjoyed a river tour around Paris
The US Consulate General office personal are very friendly, helpful and prompt.  It was on a Monday I discovered I had lost my passport (most likely as I removed my phone from riding jacket to take pictures in the Alps somewhere between Lucerne, Switzeerland and Bormio, Italy).  I emailed the US Consulate General to ask about getting a replacement and I received a reply in about 30 minutes.  I highly recommend having a couple of photocopies of your passport and drivers license stored safely in your luggage - that sure helped me.
The Lion of Lucerne was a very moving memorial in Switerzland
I have been asked "what was your favorite part of the trip?"  There is no way to answer the question because it was like I took three trips: MotoGP, WW2 and riding the Alps.  Each part had special meaning and moments for me.
The gates at Dachau concentration camp were haunting, humbling and saddening
I experienced the intense energy and excitement at a European MotoGP, the humbling atmosphere on the Normandy beaches , the thrill of riding Stelvio Pass, the beauty of the Swiss Alps on Grimsel Pass, the genius and talent in da Vinci's "Last Supper" painting and so much more.

I will share more reviews and comments about the trip in future posts as there is too much for one post.  The trip was great and I hope to visit and ride in Europe again in not too distant future.

The road between Furka Pass and Grimsel Pass, Switzerland
West side of Stelvio Pass, Italy
Pizza!
BMW R1200RS and the Alps, Italy
Formation in the Dolomites, Italy
Pistachio gelato!
Duomo di Milano
Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Been busy, now about to leave for Europe!

I have been busy preparing for my first ever trip out of the USA and riding as much as possible.   Here are three of my latest video projects.

I fly out of Dallas on Friday June 2, 2017 and fly to Milan to start my trip.  (Post with trip details)  There are a few changes to the plan since my first posting with the biggest change being I will be riding in the Alps alone, although I suspect I will meet some riders and make new friends.
Updated details in the video.
Along with preparing for the trip I have been riding and enjoying the spring time in Texas.  Recently while riding the Honda VFR 1200 the odometer rolled over 35,000 miles and I thought it would be an appropriate time to do a "review" of the bike and give my impressions.
Review of VFR 1200 after 35,000 miles

This past weekend I had the honor of leading 20 bikes on a Memorial Day ride to a local small town veterans memorial and after some time of reflection and thankful prayer we rode to lunch.  Pilot Point, TX has a nice small memorial in the downtown area.  Just happens that my dad is from Pilot Point and his older brother was killed in WWII by friendly fire and his name is on the memorial.  It was after his death my dad decided to enlist (he had an agricultural exemption).  It is always humbling to take time to pay respects to those who gave all for our country.
Memorial Day ride, 2017
I have had a busy and fun spring and now looking forward to 26 days of traveling adventures.  I will be trying (no guarantees) to upload a video each day I am in Europe.  The videos may be "raw" and unedited, but hopefully they will show some of the great things I will see.  You can see the videos on my YouTube channel or search YouTube for Ordinary Biker Oz.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Historic Carpenters Bluff Bridge

With progress or growth comes change and some changes are not always the most desired.  Some changes are sad, but necessary.  The population growth of North Texas has brought a lot of changes in the roads, highways and byways and there is no end in sight to this growth.  Increase traffic has stressed and strained the actual roads as well as the drivers and riders on the roads. 

Road construction has been and is large scaled and far reaching in our area.  Fun, curvy, low traffic Farm to Market roads are more difficult to find than just a few years ago. One particular casualty to the growth is a historic one lane bridge crossing the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.

Bridge from Texas side
Bridge seen from the Oklahoma side.
The wear and tear can be seen under the bridge
Carpenters Bluff bridge was built in 1910.  Trains, wagons, horses and people paid a toll to cross over the bridge.  In the 1960's Grayson County was deeded the bridge and it was renovated for the modern automobile traffic.  Today one lane is for motorized traffic and a deteriorating wooden walkway on on the south side.  I have walked on it, but there are holes and missing boards.
Wooden walkway on the side of the bridge


VFR idling on the bridge for a quick photo
Part of the charm of the bridge is having to stop and make sure no vehicles were already crossing.  (See video below) The rusted iron bridge provides great views to the Red River while crossing; however, due to the age, condition and the increase traffic on the bridge the two states decided to build a new bridge near Carpenters Bluff bridge and close it to vehicle traffic while allowing pedestrian use.
One lane - two bikes - Honda VFR 1200 and Aprilia Tuono
New bridge under construction
The historic bridge is east of Denison, TX on FM 120 and west of Kemp, OK on Carpenters Bluff Road/Kemp Road.  FM 120 has multiple curves and is a fun road to travel.
FM 120 to bridge and ride on bridge
If you want to experience some history before growth and progress gates off the ride head to Carpenters Bluff soon.  Authorities have not release a date for the opening of the new bridge and closing of the historic bridge, but I suspect it will happen sometime this year (2017).
Update on Carpenters Bluff Bridge on Ordinary Biker Oz Youtube channel




Friday, February 10, 2017

Loving the view from Independence


Beat The Heat Tour parked at Independence Pass overlook.
In July 2016 I led some friends on a motorcycle tour based out of Breckenridge, Colorado.  One of our days of riding included a trip to Aspen via Colorado Highway 82 over Independence Pass.  At 12,095 feet Independence Pass is the third highest pass in Colorado.
 
Eastern view from overlook
We turned onto CO 82 heading west from US 24 quickly passing Twin Lakes and gradually gaining elevation. Just past the lakes there is a small community with a little "surprise" as travelers enter town.
The sudden appearance of police car can make one grab some brakes
I am sure the old police car and mannequin gets the attention a lot of travelers on CO 82.  I know I grabbed some brake as I came out of the corner approaching the little community. 

From US 24 to the Independence Pass Overlook is 23.5 miles.  The road has nice curves and long sweepers until the last five miles where there are three very sharp switchbacks which require low gears.  The views a long the way are awesome!
 Video of riding down west side from Independence Pass
Sign at overlook warning riders and drivers
View from overlook - watch on YouTube
We left the overlook and continued about 19 miles to Aspen.  The portion from the overlook to Aspen did not have as many switchbacks, but still had curves, sweepers and elevation change.

We did not stay long in Aspen, it was crowded.  We stop in Leadville for lunch at High Mountain Pies.

We greatly enjoyed the ride, the lunch, the views and the fun.  I look forward to riding the area again.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pizza in the Rocky Mountain town of Leadville

If you perform a quick search for "pizza" on this blog you will find I like pizza and two of my favorite pizza restaurants are located in Colorado.  Well, I found another place in the Rockies that serve up great pizza.


Our annual Moto Oz Beat The Heat motorcycle tour (we leave Texas when the temperature get high) in July of 2016 was based out of Breckenridge, Colorado.  On Thursday of the trip we rode to Aspen and I experienced my first ride over Independence Pass - CO 82.  Wow, what a fun road!  It is also a road on which one cannot afford to let his/her concentration slip.
Of course we had to stop at the overlook of Independence Pass and check out the view.  The short walk up the small hill is worth the time.  The view of the Collegiate Range with Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest peak at 14,439 feet, was breathtaking.
After making it to Aspen and  looking around for a little while we wanted to get away from the crowd.  We  decided to ride back to Leadville for lunch.  I had read reviews on High Mountain Pies and decided we should try the pizza.  Once in Leadville it was easy to find High Mountain Pies.  The place was one block west off the main road, US 24 on 4th Street.
High Mountain Pies - 115 W. 4th St., Leadville, Colorado
The small blue building had limited seating inside, but several picnic tables outside.  There was a good crowd at the restaurant even after 1:00, which signals people must like the place.
Due to the size of our group we commandeered two picnic tables and ordered some pizza, salads and drinks.  The outdoor seating was a nice atmosphere and we enjoyed the crisp mountain air.

The pizza was handmade to order.  We did not mind waiting the 20 or so minutes.  We relaxed in the shade sipping our drinks.
 Being a bunch of guys we ordered the all meat pizza with thin crust.  The pizza arrived fresh and hot.
Hot meat pizza from High Mountain Pies

By the end there was no need for a doggie bag.  All the pizza was eaten.  The ingredients were fresh, the spices were flavorful and the crust was a great base for all the toppings.  I love it!  If you are riding through Leadville, Colorado and it is time to eat stop by High Mountain Pies - you will not be disappointed.