Wednesday, August 24, 2016

10 personal comfort thoughts about Iron Butt Rides

I wanted to post some thoughts on long distance riding, particularly the Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000.  The Saddle Sore is the first 'level' of certification rides.  It requires that you get affidavits filled out at your beginning location, gas receipts with correct time and mileage written on them, an affidavit at the end of the run and for the rider to submit a log, maps, etc. to prove they did the ride.  I've done two of these and, on top of that, the Bun Burner 1500.  I regularly do rides of 700 plus miles as well.  Along the way, I've noted a few things and will share them here.  I decided to focus on the bike and rider comfort vs. equipment to bring.  Many people have made suggestions about this and I've made several myself.

1. Synthetic clothing is the biggest load of crap out there, except possibly during the winter.  I've heard all the claims of advanced wicking of moisture away from the skin and seen all the fancy diagrams and videos.  Bull puckey!  I've tried more than one brand and they all behave the same.  They are constrictive.  They act like a second layer of skin and trap heat and moisture.  After several hours of 90+ degree riding, you'll be desperate to get it off your body.  During the winter, however, it will provide another layer of warmth in the same way tights would.  Unless you're using this product for that purpose, I highly recommend that you go back to natural fabrics that you like.  The biggest requirement is to make sure there are no seams anywhere where your body contacts the seat.  That's it.  Be comfortable in what you're wearing.

2. You can't put on enough talcum powder, anti-butt powder, etc.  I put on the powder on generously from knees to waist.  I reapply during bathroom breaks while I'm riding.   I get it all over the place too.  I don't care.  I dump some in my pants as well.  The whole idea is to get your clothing to slide over your skin instead of being attached to it.  It's also to minimize the effects of sweating.

3.   Athlete's foot.  Ride long enough and you're going to get it.  Your boot is like a well insulated oven and your feet are right next to the engine; over a hundred degrees hotter than the rest of your body.  Your feet will sweat and your boots make for the perfect environment to grow fungus.  I happen to like Lotrimin.  I put the cream on my foot and wipe the excess off in the inside of my sock.  I also take the Lotrimin powder and dump copious amounts in my boots, hold the top shut and shake.  That should kill any athletes foot growing in the boot.  Being able to deal with this problem on a vacation that starts with a long distance ride is a good thing.  Failure to deal with it will surely make your feet very unhappy.

4.  Your saddle is critical to your comfort.  What it won't do is stop the burning, rash type feeling that happens at all points in contact with the saddle.  What a properly fitted saddle will do is prevent pain on the tailbone and ischial tuberocities...the bones you sit on.  I suggest working up to 1000 miles.  Being comfortable in your saddle at 250 miles is no indication of what you're going to feel like at 1000.  My recommendation is that you should feel comfortable with a 10 hour ride before you try a saddle sore 1000 and address any 'pressure' you feel on your tail bone or ischial tuberocities before trying the ride.  After all, it would be nice to walk when you're done.

5.  The geometry of your bike is going to effect how your back feels when you're done.  Let's take the Honda Goldwing as an example.  If you are 5' tall or greater and have an inseam greater than 25", you will have no forward lean.  This means no pressure on the lower back as a result of your core muscles holding your upper body in place.  (It is a bad idea to use the handlebars to take up the weight of your upper body.  Doing so puts lots of pressure on your spine right between the shoulder blades and will result in discomfort over the long term. )  That being said, your weight is now concentrated straight down, requiring more attention to the saddle.  In contrast, let's look at a sport bike, the Kawasaki Ninga.  At average heights, that bike sports a 22 degree forward lean, way too much for a comfortable long distance ride.  Even if you lay your chest on the gas tank the whole way, your neck won't like the stretched position required to see adequately.  The good news is that there is substantially less pressure on the saddle.  That's probably a good thing since sport bike saddles are generally very thin.  I ride a BMW K1600GT and have about a 5 degree lean angle.  It took me a little while to get used to it; but, it is very comfortable for me now.  Every bike and rider combination is going to provide a different geometry. will help you approximate what yours will be.  Even still, non-standard modifications will change these numbers, such as elevated handlebars or modifications that move the bars closer to the rider.  The good news is that if there are any geometry concerns, they should be evident by the time you've got 10 hours in the saddle.

6.  Knees must move to be happy.  Highway pegs are a great thing.  I wish I could use them on my bike.  Highway pegs allow you to straighten out your legs.  Knees that are stuck in the bent position for hours at a time will be sore.  If you can put highway pegs on your bike, do so.  If you can't, you still have to get your legs out of that bent position frequently.  If you are an experienced rider and comfortable with the idea, you might want to try dangling your feet off the pegs.  You have to be very alert to the road surface; much more than normal.   If your foot hits anything at highway speeds, it will hurt and could cause serious injury.  Don't even think about kicking rubber retreads on the highway, cones, etc.  It will hurt.  Also, most roads have reflectors in the pavement that stick up a little from the ground.  These will also hurt if you kick one.  I also recommend having your feet on the pegs on milled road surfaces, uneven surfaces, bumps, dips and curves.  There is danger in this, particularly your legs getting caught up under the saddlebags or in the rear wheel, so do so at your own risk.  The best option, bar none, is to make frequent stops and walk.  That is the option I recommend.

7.  Every stop (gas, food, bathroom) is a hydration stop.  You could argue that you're doing nothing but sitting and therefore aren't getting dehydrated.  You're wrong.  Sitting in the sun all day is much different than sitting behind your computer in an air-conditioned office.  Chances are, you're dehydrated there also.  Most people don't drink enough to begin with.  Even if you feel like you're not sweating, you are dehydrating all the time.  It's a process.  The sun and probably the wind accelerate it.  Drink water.  Another really good drink for the road is Pedialyte.   It tastes like crap; but, it has all the right stuff to keep you fresh as a daisy and not even close to the amount of sugar as Gatorade.  Gatorade is fine and readily available in every gas station and convenience store.  Cut it in half with don't have to mix it; just drink half and then an equal amount of water.  Drink more and you'll feel better and more alert.  Enough said.

8.  Plan to pee.  If you don't have to pee regularly, you're not drinking enough.  See #7.  Don't even try to reduce your water intake so you'll pee less.  If you have a bladder the size of a golf ball, look into catheter systems.  I understand that long haul truckers use them and I've also heard that some bikers will rig up the tubing so urine comes out directly to the pavement - no bag.  Whatever you do, please don't try to hold it or drink less to avoid the need to pee.

9.  Sunscreen never goes around or above the eyes.  On my first IB run, I made this mistake.  The afternoon heat was making me sweat and my waterproof sunblock ended up in my eyes.  The only option is to get off the road, flush your eyes with clean water and wash your face.  In the mean time, you look like a 5 y/o after a crying jig.  At that time, I was wearing a skid lid and goggles.  Now, I wear a full face helmet and I don't have any issues with this anymore.

10.  Music or an intercom make the ride much more enjoyable.  I used to be a 'hard core' Harley rider without a radio of any sort, no helmet, etc.  My music was the sound of the engine and blah blah blah.  Now, I want less noise and more entertainment.  I have a bluetooth headset and custom ear plugs...which I don't use all the time.  My bluetooth is hooked into XM Satellite, navigation, FM radio, Weather, my iPhone and ham radio.  Most of the time, I listen to music while monitoring the ham radio.  I usually ride alone, so it is nice when you can talk to someone during the ride.  I can talk to another traveler, or have a short conversation with someone as I pass their base station.  If there is another ham operator at the front of that multi-mile traffic jam, I can make an informed decision to wait it out or seek other options.  Mostly though, I listen to music.  I tend to listen to 80's on 8; but, after hearing the same programming for the third time, I will switch to 70's on 7 or a playlist on my iPhone or even talk radio.  I've caught up with family and friends and many are happy to keep you company on the ride.  On a 1000 mile ride, you're going to be riding for 3/4 of the day.  Have some entertainment options for those long straight boring sections of the ride.  That being said, I will turn all that off when the scenery is the entertainment.

Good luck on your first Iron Butt ride.  I wish you roads free of traffic and calamities.

Monday, August 15, 2016

20160815 - Florida to NJ and back

Now is a great time to do a trip.  I'm at a point in my job interviews where nothing is scheduled; for the week of the 15th and there are a couple of opportunities that may become real jobs.  If they do, I will need to get right on it and start.  If they don't, I will need to double time my efforts to find my next job.  So, now is the time to go see family and friends.

Day 1 - 800 miles:  Spring Hill to Blacksburg VA or thereabouts.  The original plan was to leave at 5am and perhaps make it a 950-1000 mile trip.  That didn't happen.  When the alarm went off, I just wasn't able to pull myself out of bed.  I knew the penalty for that was going to be in miles.  No matter what, I was going to be  riding in hot temperatures...90+ all day.

I finally got on the road at 8:30 in the morning and things were fine right up until I was 3 miles from I-16 in Savannah Georgia.  Things were very gray and the lightning in the distance became lightning up close with heavy rain...the heavy rain that is not just high frequency drops; but, big drops.  Right at that point, I saw the I-16 sign 2 miles sign.  I-16 runs east to west and there were blue skies to the west, so I-16 it was.  It was probably about 25 miles before I was out of the rain and could pull over to consult a map.  I would need a new plan because the storm was large and fierce.  There was no way I was going to make it back to I-95 and up to I-26, even if I waited half the day.

I was in Pembroke GA and it looked like I could take 67 north to 25 to 77 and resume my path.  I would go through Augusta GA, Columbia SC and Charlotte NC.  I ended up losing about 4 hours of time with this routing; but, it had to be.  I could not ride the original plan.  The night before, the route forecast showed some minor showers.  Again, the weather guessers guessed wrong.

The ride to rejoin my route was nice; but, I had to stop in Columbia SC to let some thunderstorms pass.  Fortunately, that was only about 30 minutes of stopping time.

It was nice riding in the evening.  The temperature dropped into the upper 70's.  I wish I could stay awake longer and make it further north since it would be hot again in the morning.  Safety first.  I decided to put the kickstand down at around 11 pm.  I was just north of Roanoke.

On Friday, it was an easy 400 miles to my first stop.  I arrived by 12:30 and spent the whole afternoon with Dave and Crystal.  That evening, I rode up to Hazleton and grabbed a room.  Pickens were pretty slim.  I ended up paying $180 for a room at the Hampton and I was lucky to get it.  It was the last room.

On Saturday, I needed to get to NJ in the morning to see my nephew play football.  I thought it was ridiculous that they were playing in the 90+ degree heat; but, they were.

That's my nephew - #18.  His job is to contain the play to the inside and he's done that.  He's 8 and this is his first year of contact football.  He's learning very fast.

After the game, we went back to my sister's house for a pool party - a very needed cool down from a hot football game.
The ride back:

1160 miles, 18:45 with 2 30 minute stops for meals, 4 or 5 gas stops and Rt 301 was shut down while
the fire department put out a car fire on the side of the road.  All in all, that's not bad time at all.  I have to say that I thought I was done at the 800 mile mark.  The heat was getting to me and I didn't drink enough.  I stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel and drank lots of fluid.  When I got back on the bike, I felt refreshed and since it was still daylight, I kept going.  When darkness fell, I had 2 or 3 hours to go.  How do you stop for a hotel room when you're that close to home?  I couldn't do it.  That being said, I had to deal with a thunderstorm around Jacksonville Fl. and if the skies were more violent, I would have taken the hotel option.  Here's a picture of the route.

Here's a picture of all routes over 250 miles to date:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

20160810 - Oil problem update

I am still having trouble with oil consumption on my motorcycle.  I don't believe I should be losing half a quart between oil changes.  I've asked several dealerships and they say it's normal.  I have a hard time believing that Mr. BMW would design a motorcycle that consumes this much oil.

My friend Scot went through he whole motorcycle repair curriculum and has been wrenching on bikes for years.  We talked about the break-in process and I told him that I departed from the manual a bit.

The manual calls for the first oil change at 600 miles.  I changed my oil 2 times before that because I read an article about how motorcycle engines shed the most metal in the first hundred miles or so and it was important to get rid of it.  Scot though and I agreed that maybe the quick oil changes didn't allow the break in to happen and we agreed to try an oil change with non-synthetic oil of the same weight just for 3,000 miles to see if things improve or not.

So, this is the first time this bike has had anything except BMW 20W40 oil in it.  When I get back from my Florida to NJ to Florida trip, I will change the oil back to synthetic and see if that makes any difference.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

20160726 - Ham Radio Setup

About 2 years ago, I met a friend up in Minnesota that was into ham radio.  He, like me, was an avid motorcycle rider.  We talked about how sometimes, particularly in the mid-west and west, you're nowhere near a cellular tower.  Those are bad places to be without communications.  Actually, in a pinch, I could press the alert button on my Spot tracker; but, that is a one way communication and the person on the other end really doesn't know what's going on.  Enter ham radio.  At the time, he was able to carry a portable radio in his saddlebag; but, nothing more.  I thought about that conversation often and while I had some down time, I decided to study for the Technician exam and get licensed.  I started studying  the week before field day, 2016 and during my study, I learned that there was a field day.  I sent a quick message to one of the local club members and the next thing I know, I was helping set up antennas and listening to guys chatting with folks all over the country.  It didn't take them long to convince me that I needed to get my Technician and General, so I started studying for that.  The next weekend, I sat for both exams and passed.  Introducing KM4VGK, a General.

I've been trying very hard to wrap up projects and not take on new ones until I've wrapped up old ones; but, that did not happen in this case.  I've been working on setting up the motorcycle so I could use ham radio while riding.  Several other things have been put to the side...finishing the carburetor rebuild on my Harley, home repairs, maintenance and decor for the new house, selling some stuff I want to get rid of and more.  About the only other project that's survived is cutting the lawn and keeping up with the weeding.

So, there are really 3 parts to this project - mount an antenna, mount a radio and connect the two.  Simple, right?  Not exactly.

I started out trying to build my own mount.  My idea was to use the luggage rack and mount the antenna to the side of the trunk mount.  My metal fabricating skills are non-existant.  Even still, I didn't do a bad job.  The only thing was that the antenna wasn't exactly rigid and moved around too much.  I couldn't have that.

So, moving right along, I decided the best way to do this was going to be to mount the antenna directly to the trunk lid.  It was clear to me that in order to provide some stability to the antenna, I was going to need a piece of stainless steel on top of the fiberglass and one under it to support the leverage produced by the antenna moving in the wind.  I can drill holes in fiberglass and in stainless steel; but, I can also wreck a 1,000 trunk.  The other complication with this is that the trunk is not flat.  It has some contour to it.

Living in Florida, I have access to boat stuff.  Boat repair people know about fiberglass and mounting things on fiberglass.  Boat repair people deal with grumpy people who are very particular about their toys, so quality workmanship is expected.  I brought the trunk, antenna and mount to Hudson Marine and explained the project to them.  They said they were equal to the task.  Actually, they said "hell yah, we can do that."   Well need to put some stainless steel top and bottom and rivet the two together to make it stable.  Well also need to waterproof it.  Well, the first part I thought of, the last two parts I did not.  A couple days later, I got a call that it was done.  It was harder than they thought.  The contour of the trunk top gave them some issues.  They would not explain to me the trade secret of how they bent the metal to match the contour of the trunk.  Here are some pictures:

The antenna is mounted in this one; but, blends in with my house.

I am very impressed with the job they did.  the only thing I don't like is that the trunk lid isn't even all the way across (the gray piece in relation to the lower black piece).  This could totally be my fault as this bike did fall on it's sign and could have taken the trunk out of alignment; and I just didn't notice.  I brought it back to them and they said there was nothing there to adjust it with.  I believe them.  The other thing is that inside the outside rim is an inner rim that is sealed with a gasket.  I'm confident that my belongings aren't going to get wet.  I'm also going to test with a garden hose.

So, moving right along, we have an antenna.  The second piece to this project is mounting the radio.  I don't have many choices.  I exchanged emails with Ram Mount as they have many options for motorcycles.  I saw a picture of a K1600GTL Exclusive with a tank mount base and inquired about that.  They said it will fit my bike.  They also said that the handlebar mount will work.  I liked the handlebar mount better, so I ordered that.  It did not fit.  I then ordered the gas tank mount and it should arrive either tomorrow or Thursday.  I'm betting that it will not fit either.  The GTL Exclusive had screws on the gas tank filler plate.  It is those screws that this mount attaches to.  My filler plate has no such screws and I'm not about to start drilling and tapping on an expensive bike.  Update forthcoming.

So, getting the antenna and the radio connected is the third piece.  The antenna cable fitting is not the same as my radio, so I bought an adapter cable.  That works.  The cable is routed under both seats.  What I don't like and can't change is that the wire travels within inches of the battery.  I don't know if that will have any bad consequences for the radio signal.  Also, the full cable length only gets me about mid way up the gas tank toward the filler neck.  It is unlikely that the cable will reach the radio if I were to mount on the gas tank as planned or have a local metal shop build me a custom mount for the handlebar.  I'll need another extension cable.  I think the extension cable I bought for this occasion was $40 something dollars with shipping, which leads me to a short rant.

I hate doing business by mail order.  Order something, pay ridiculous shipping costs and then wait a week for it to arrive.  If the part is wrong, you get to re-order and wait again.  I would much rather drive or ride hours to get what I need the same day.  If it doesn't work, you can take it right back in and exchange it for what does work.  Not all Internet things are good.  Rant over.

OK, so Ram sent me the gas tank mount.  They said it would work.  I trusted them.  Bad on me.  The problem was as I described above.  Thinking through this, I thought there might be an easier way, Velcro.  My gas tank has a gentle curve to it, so Velcro isn't going to provide as tight a fit as it would on a flat surface; but, I wanted to give it a shot.  So, off to Walmart I went.  The end product really is not bad at all.  Everything is stable, particularly the radio (and the Gerbings thermometer, bottom).  The least stable thing is the Sena SR-10 at the top.  This is where the most curvature for the tank is.  I will ride it like this for a little while to see if I like it.  If I don't, I can mount it on top of the gas tank filler plate.  There is enough room up there for the handlebars to clear it.  Not pictured is the PTT switch on the left hand grip.  It connects directly to the Sena.

Monday, May 30, 2016

1464572476 2016/05/29 - Fernandina Beach (almost) and back

Originally, the plan was to ride with the Tampa Bay BMW group.  They have a Sunday ride.  I didn't leave until late and the ride is supposed to leave at 10:30.  I knew I'd be late and they would probably be gone.  I went anyway; thinking that they might leave late.  As luck would have it, I got there at 10 till 11 and they were still there.  They were just sitting and chatting.  They weren't planning on doing a real ride today.  Almost everyone was going to do something else.  The temp was already over 90.  2 people were going to ride through the Florida National Cemetery for Memorial day and asked if I wanted to join.  Of course I did.

There were 3 of us for the ride.   Frank leading, his wife and me batting last.  Frank had a new Yamaha 400CC bike with a kick start and he was breaking it in.  He said he wouldn't be doing more than 45; but, we were at 60 several times.

The Florida National Cemetery is a very big place.  I rode through today with a couple friends.  I really had no idea just how big it is.  There are rows after rows of grave stones in fields after fields.  It goes on for a long time.  I understand that there were several fields that we didn't even ride past.  At first, I thought all these people died in battle; but, I was told that any military person from Florida can be buried there.

After doing a little research, 624,999 service people have died in combat since and including WW1. That does not include all the wars that preceded that. The number since and including the American Revolutionary War would be 1,319,943, including Afghanistan and Iraq. There are probably a few more to add to this total for Syria and probably even more for casualties that occurred during black ops. That is the number of American troops I hope you are thinking about this weekend ... like before you order your Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks and before you start debating the merits of who can use which bathroom at Target or anywhere else. These things we would not be part of our lives without the people that made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

The Florida National Cemetery, as of now, has 129,000 interments.   I didn't see them all and that is only 20% of the total from WW2.  It's sobering how many people have given their lives.


After the cemetery, we parted ways.   My friends were planning on getting on their boat and relaxing on the water.  I was planning to put some miles on the bike, although, I didn't have a destination.  The first order of operations was lunch though, so I decided to go back to The Yearling and get a Shrimp and Alligator Po' Boy.  Willie Green was there, singing the Blues again.  I talked to him a little bit after I was done eating.  He's having some heart troubles.  He's still happy to be singing the Blues though.  I wished him well, having created a plan to ride up to Fernandina Beach in the far NE corner of Florida.

I chose Fernandina beach because I like the northern tier of Florida better than much of the rest of it and I'd never been there.  I also knew there was a river crossing ferry up that way, so I thought I'd try to find that.

I forgot to take off my fanny pack after lunch, so I stopped right off Rt. 301.  Right there, there's an old fire truck.  I took a picture of it with my bike.  There's always a reason to take a picture of the bike with a firetruck...old or new.

I didn't make it all the way to Fernandina beach.  Traffic started getting pretty dense and I had no desire to stand on the pavement at traffic lights in 97 degree temps.  That was the OAT as displayed by the temp gauge on my motorcycle.  It was probably a bit hotter for me since I'm riding on top of the engine that is getting air at that temperature.  Anyway, there was no way I was going any further on A1A, so I scrapped the idea of riding the coast south and opted for less traffic and more of the northern tier of Florida for the return.  I was trying to select roads that I didn't think I'd been on before.  It's getting pretty hard to do that now.  While I was riding, I decided to that I wanted to find out if I'd ridden in all the counties in Florida.  I have the data to figure that out, so I think I will do that.

On Rt. 90W, coming into Macclenny, a turkey vulture left it's perch and started flying on a course that would cause me to hit it.  It came off the left side of the road, crossed traffic and was headed right into my path.  It was trying to climb and turn away from me.  I was going pretty fast at the time and had to grab the brake lever to avoid hitting it.  It was close.  The updraft created by my windscreen lifted it high enough that it barely cleared my helmet.  I don't think it would have been all that bad if we had collided; but, I can't believe that I've had 2 close calls with large birds in as many months.

I chose 129 S. to avoid intercepting rt. 19 and having to ride that all the way home.  129S is a nice road and took me all the way down to Chiefland Fl., about 2 hours from my house.  I stopped at a shrimp place in Ingress for dinner.  I needed to cool down, even though I was only an hour away from home.  I shot this video of their fish tank.  They have 2 plecos in their 40 gallon tank.  1 is 10" and the other is 12".  Too much pleco for that tank!

Here's the map of the route.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

20160515 - 50,000 miles - Willie Green with Shrimp and Alligator Po'Boys.

Today was one of those rides that you don't want it to end; but, at the same time, you can't wait to get home to start writing about.

When I got home the other night, I realized that I was about 250 miles from rolling 50,000 miles on my odometer.  My bike is 2 and a half years old and while that may sound like a lot of miles to some, it's not in the crowd I run with.  My 'peers' seem to be able to do that in a year and I am also aware of 1 guy who regularly rides 100,000 per year and gets a new motorcycle every year.  It has something to do with work.  I've also heard what I think is folklore - people that have ridden over 1M miles in less than 3 years.  I digress.  I wanted to cross the 50,000 mile mark this weekend and I couldn't think of a better way to do it than to take a run up to a restaurant I was introduced to in Cross City.  I knew that they had a fantastic Po' Boy sandwich and a blues singer that came in once in a while.

I always want to travel new roads, so I decided I'd ride 50 East to 19 North and then in Marion county, get off on some back roads to the restaurant.  I'd ridden the 50E part many times and some of 19, but the county roads in Marion would be new.  The route would also be largely through Ocala National Forest.

As Florida scenery goes, it was nice; but, nothing great.  I've seen a lot of Florida now and most of the landscape falls into 4 general categories - The Keys - a landscape all to themselves.  Nobody has more ocean.  Populated areas - all southern Florida from Orlando south along both coasts.  Horse Farm land - lots of it north of Orlando to the northern border and over grown vegetation growing in sand.  That would be nearly everything in the middle of the state from the everglades to the northern border except for over populated cities and horse farms.  Ocala national forest is that.  It lacks the magnificent views of the Appalachians.  It is very flat.  The perspective changes when buildings appear.  That said, I'll take overgrown forest over cityscapes any day.  I arrived at The Yearling Restaurant at about 2:15, only 30 miles short of my 50,000 mile goal.  The place was packed; cars everywhere.  Somehow, I managed to get a spot right outside the front door.  By the time I left, there would be 3 Harley's partially sharing my spot and extending down the row.

When I opened the door, awesome blues music spilled out.  There sat Willie Green strumming his guitar.  Willie had many fans there and he knew it.  I had to wait for a table; but, it was worth it.  I was seated just to the side of Willie - a front row seat.  What is particularly notable is his voice.  It's fantastic.  I love the blues and this was a very nice treat.  Here's 10 seconds of Willie:

In keeping with the plan, I reviewed ordered a sweet tea from Jamie, my waitress.  I also noticed that Willie didn't have anything to drink by him and asked her to get him whatever he wanted to drink.  She said that he drinks water.  He's a diabetic.  I remarked to her about what a fantastic sound he has and then Jamie gave me the story.  Willie lives in a nursing home fairly close by.  They pick him up and take him to the restaurant, where he plays and plays and plays.  They pay him something.  He also has a tip jar and you can buy his CD's there.  You can also buy T-shirts.  Largely, he was covering recognizable songs by Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke and BB King.  Sometimes, he would riff on something I had never heard before.  He plays guitar and mouth harp at the same time.  I bought his first CD and am listening to his music as I write.

More pics:

After a while, Jamie came back for my order.  Actually, it was quite a while.  I had a sweet tea in front of me and I wasn't complaining.  Had I been at a chain restaurant, I would have lost my patience.  [Sidebar:  I am requesting a complete refund on my education.  I was advised by a 6th grade teacher friend that patients and patience are two different words.  I only knew of the first one.  This is the second time in less than a month that I found out something I should have known a long time ago.  Maybe I'll only get a partial refund.  After all, I can make change and do other nifty things with my education..perhaps some in the upcoming generation can't do.]  Back to ordering.  I ordered the Shrimp and Alligator Po' Boy.  On the menu it's one or the other; but, you can get both.  I wanted both.  I ordered that with cheese grits (something I'd never had before) and a cup of New England clam chowder.

 The New England Clam Chowder is so thick they should just call it New England Clam Casserole

 I'm going to get my southern on today!
How about with the cheese peeled back so you can see all the tasty morsels in there.  I think this would be better if none of it were breaded and fried...use the same seasonings and broil it.  That said, it was fantastic.

So, I'm finishing up and two ladies walk in.  They had clearly been here before and came to see Willie and after we started talking, I found out they also come in for the 'Sour Orange Pie.'  What????  Sour orange pie?  I didn't know such a thing exists.  They said that one time they got here and only 1 piece was left, so they had to split it.  Now, they order it first and then order their meal.  They said I had to try it.  So I did.  Jamie asked me if I wanted that with chocolate syrup on it and whip cream.  How should I know?  I never had Sour Orange Pie before.  I considered it for a moment and I couldn't think of a meal that would be simply ruined with chocolate syrup and whip cream, so I said yes.  I should have taken a picture and I did not; sorry.  It was very tasty and now it would seem that my meal at The Yearling could be cemented in place.  Then again, there are other tasty things on the menu.  A return trip is in order for sure.

Back on the an hour or so later, I decided to do a compass run back - just follow the compass.  I know I need to go south and west.  Florida is easy to navigate.  Since I live on the West coast, I am going to run into one of the major highways  that will get me to Spring Hill ... 19, 41, 75,  301, 33/19 ...those would be US highways and 75 is an Interstate.  All the major east/west highways are numbered between 40 and 70 for most of the state.  I prefer county roads though.  Those are all 3 digit numbers and it's anyone's guess where one goes, other than odd numbers run north and south and even numbers run east and west.  That said, I follow the compass on county roads.

Let me tell you about road engineers.  Federal road engineers - Interstate architects are very uptight people.  They don't like more than 10 degrees of turn.  They like wide lanes and unified direction of travel.  They like consistent, predictable entry and exit points.  The signage is impeccable.  All Interstates either take you directly through a major city at some point or around it, like a beltway.  If these people weren't engineering interstates, they would be doing some other job that required tedious attention to regulation and standards.  These people are no fun and would not be expected to show up to a Saturday night dance..under any circumstances.  Should something happen that they accidentally tripped and fell into the room and couldn't get out, they would be stuck fast to the wall paper.  Boring people.  State roadway engineers are slightly more fun.  They are happy to design a road with traffic moving in both directions, passing zones, and an occasional sweeping turn; but, are also very moody and will slam a blinking light or traffic sign right in the middle of things.  They will run their road right through a town, keeping the market space for 25, 35, 45 and 55 mph speed limit signs alive and well.  These engineers, with much trepidation, would be dragged to the Saturday night dance and when they danced, they would barely move their feet, be stiff as a board.  We'd all be glad they are there because we can dance better; his/her significant other...not so much.   Then there are county road engineers.  These guys architect roads while smoking weed.  I can clearly hear the conversation.  'Dude, let's put a giant sweeping turn right here, and then another giant sweeper going the opposite way right after it.  We'll put a 45 mph speed limit sign on it to make the bureaucrats happy; but, every motorcycle rider will love us.  They'll come from miles around and go around these curves with their helmets on fire.'  These are the guys that will come to the Saturday night dance.  They will have fun.  Their significant other will have fun and everyone near them will have fun.  I like county road engineers.  I imagine Tommy Chong.  None of this applies to road engineers from Montana.  I'm convinced all of them are smoking crack.  I've been on two lane windy roads in Montana posted at 75mph.  These guys go to the dance and rig the equipment to play the music double speed.  Everyone becomes confused.

So, back to the county roads.  I was on many and as a result, forgot to pull over when I hit 50,000 miles for the obligatory here's my 50,000 mile picture.  When I remembered, I was only slightly past it.  So, here's my 50,004 mile picture.  At the time, I was listening to 'Don't fear the reaper' and thinking 'I need more cow bell.'  As for the rear pressure indicator, my rear tire was not flat.  The bolt that holds the tire pressure sensor broke and it won't be replaced until I need to mount and balance new tires...hopefully in more than 10,000 miles.  2400 miles is the number of miles since I was at Scot's house doing the last maintenance and yes, I was in Dynamic mode grabbing lots of throttle through the twisties designed by someone that reminds me of Tommy Chong.

I found this great bio of Willie Green.  It's worth a read.  Here's are the maps.  It's all about making new lines on the map.

I think this looks like an apple.

Friday, May 13, 2016

20160513 - Rear ended and not a scratch on me or the bike

All good stories start with "There I was" or "This is a true story," so:

This is a true story.  There I was in Orlando.  The temp was reading 100.7 and I was on E. Colonial, a very busy road with lots of traffic lights and too many vehicles.  There are multiple lanes in each direction.  I was traveling east, GPS navigating to Starbucks to kill some time before I meet with friends for dinner.  In the previous 5 miles, I probably sat through at least 6 traffic lights, each 3-5 minutes.  I was hot, sweating and every time I looked at my GPS, it was telling me that the Starbucks I was going to was just another intersection away...and then it would zoom in a little more and put another 3 intersections between me and it.  It's safe to say I was hot and really wanted to get off the hot pavement.  It's safe to say that I had less patience for the situation than what was called for.

So, I'm in stop and go traffic, inching along and my GPS is calling for a right turn (into Plato's Closet).  I'm looking for the Starbucks and I can't see it...largely because the GPS had it on the wrong side of the street.  Not wanting to miss the turn, just in case I didn't see it, I looked right (much too quickly) and started moving into the lane to my right.  As I started crossing the line, I saw the front end of a burgundy / burnt orange car bearing down on me.  He, or she saw what was happening and locked up the brakes.  At the same time, I let the clutch go and added a fistful of throttle.  We did make contact.  I'm pretty sure of it.  There was no crunch of breaking plastic and it didn't destabilize my bike.  I pulled into the next parking lot to see what damage was done; but, the driver kept going.  I can't say whether or not I'm surprised about that.  It's entirely possible that he/she had no idea that our vehicles made contact.  I think when I wash my bike, I put more pressure on the plastic parts than that car put on my bike; but, I will say that it felt strangely like my dad pushing me forward when I was learning to ride a bicycle - just a gentle tap.

Now I suppose if you ride long enough, something like this is going to happen.  In all honesty though, that's not good enough and I need to own it.  An argument could easily be made that the car was going to fast.  Traffic was going 10 miles per hour or less in my lane and he/she was going much faster than that.  That said, I know that I looked to my right an appropriate distance for the speed I was traveling; but, did not look far enough back in the lane for the speed he/she was traveling.  I turned my head to look.  I did not check my mirror.  Perhaps if I had, I would not be writing this.  The fact is, I got damn lucky.  Had that driver been heads down texting or otherwise distracted,  I'd have to change the ending to this story.  It was both our reactions that contributed to a positive  outcome.

May is motorcycle awareness month.  I really need to thank motorists that are not distracted and who, I am now sure, have saved many lives by seeing and avoiding motorcycles.  I think a great many riders would like to place blame for traffic accidents with motorcycles squarely at the feet of motorcyclists; but, my experience in this case is that is not always right.