Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Statistics: How many visitors?

Using Google Analytics, another useful free service provided by Google to capture statistics for a web site, I tracked the number of visits (blue line) and unique visitors (orange line) for each month in 2008. Though the numbers are paltry compared to popular blogs, I'm happy anyone is reading mine. May was the best month with about 125 visits by almost 100 readers. And not surprisingly, the last three months have been on a decline. I hope to rectify this for the new year. We'll see....

Happy New Year folks. Ride safely.

I'm back!

After 3 months of silence, I'm back. Hopefully, back with a writing vengeance. Given the timing of my return, this may appear to be akin to a New Year's resolution. Not so. Technically, it's not yet the new year. (Yes, I'm anti-New Year's-resolution.)

It took 3 months for me to get over not making a post of our last suspension bridge ride in late August (I think it was late August). If you're wondering what that last ride was like, click: here, here, here, here, and here. By the end of the summer, they began to look a lot alike.

So, from now until about the spring equinox, I'm going to post more frequently on topics not necessarily related exclusively to motorcycling. Consider them topics associated with getting ready for the 2009 riding season. They will include:
  • What to do with motorcycles sitting in the garage.
  • Photography.
  • My ever vigilant effort to lose some weight.
  • Anything else that may come to mind.
One topic that I've been having difficulty with is coming up with a "riding project" for the coming year. Last year was VA suspension bridges. This year it will be ......
I solicit your ideas.

Feel free to comment. I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

1st Annual International Trike Riders Rally in Sikeston MO

Finally, my belated posting on the trike rally my wife and I attended in July. You can read earlier "diary posts" I made in near real time during the rally.

Out Bound
We left home on Monday the 21st planning to arrive in Sikeston on Wednesday, the day before the rally started on the 24th. Not wanting to retrace a previous route to MO (see Trip to Oz), we traveled through Ohio and Indiana into Missouri. Ignoring the 2nd morning of rain, the trip to MO was simply spectacular. Especially riding Indiana back roads among the myriad corn fields, the vivid blue sky, temperate weather, and relative lack of traffic made this portion of the trip almost magical.

Leaving home:

On the road wardrobe change:

Cooling our heels waiting on road work:

At the rally
Overall, the rally was enjoyable. It was not overly crowed--one rally official indicated about 300 trikes attended--and the facilities--the fair grounds adjacent to the regional airport--were good. We met a number of interesting trike riders including one trike-builder who rode in from Wisconsin on his 17th, home-built trike. His wife and son also attended on trikes he designed and built.

Only a few vendors showed up which was a bit disappointing--we were ready to buy stuff :). But this is the 1st rally and no doubt it will grow larger each year. A trike dealership from Kansas came offering test rides on a new line of 7/8th-sized trikes made by Ridley. These trikes are sized perfectly for smaller riders, inexperienced riders, and noteworthy in that they use an automatic transmission--no clutch, no shifting.

Less than half a dozen two-wheelers showed up, mine among them. I wasn't made to feel out of place and more or less was invisible. This is an effect I've noticed for some times since my wife started riding a trike: everyone is interested in the lady on the one cares about the dude on the bike. Nonetheless, the friendliness of trike riders and especially those that attended the rally is noteworthy.

We spent some time riding the flat terrain in and around Sikeston. I don't recommend the area as ideal for motorcycling. I don't fancy roads that travel off to the horizon in a straight line.

I do recommend eating at Lambert's where you're likely to get beaned by a flying bread roll. Please note that there's almost always a line waiting to get inside and the portions are so large that finishing a meal is difficult.

At the rally:

A triked Rune (!!):

It's a helmet!

Automatic, low to the ground, light weight, small size:

Yes, it does have air conditioning:

Long and straight (and boring) roads:

A local landmark:

Good Moments
Taking 3 days to return, we again made great efforts to not retrace a previous route. We left Sikeston for Chattanooga on day 1, north to Martinsville, VA on day 2, and then on to home on day 3. Over the course of the three days, we traveled through much more urban areas than our ride to Sikeston. While not as idyllic as the outbound leg, the return home was nice in that we got to see places we hadn't before. Plus, there's no place like home after being gone for a week.

To recap, here's a non-inclusive list of the good moments of this trip:
  • Riding
  • Talking to trike riders
  • Talking to trike builders
  • Stopping for a break once every hour
  • Seeing the country side
  • Eating a large chicken fried steak
  • No helmet law states

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Trike Riders Int'l Trip Summary -- coming soon

I plan to post a summary of our recent road trip with a collection of photos...especially photos of some of the unusual trikes. If only I could find a few more hours in a day :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Trike Riders Int'l Trip Day 8

250 miles to home.

There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.

Posted with LifeCast

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Repost Of Day 6

Something is awry with my original day 6 post.

Here's the gist:

350 miles in 10 hours does not a record make. But, our slow pace kept us behind a line of storms except for the last 10 miles.

Posted with LifeCast

Trikes Riders Int'l Trip Day 7

450 miles in 12 long, long hours.

Plus side: short day tomorrow.

Did Deals Gap. Police everywhere. Nobody went fast. But it was fun.

Posted with LifeCast

Friday, July 25, 2008

Trike Riders Int'l Trip Day 5

Definitely the hottest, most uncomfortable day of the trip so far. Mid 90s and high humidity are mutually exclusive to comfort on or off a bike.

More trikes have shown up and none of the hotels are without trikes in their parking lots.

It appears my wife and I are the youngest couple attending. There's a message in that. I wonder what it is?

Posted with LifeCast

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Trike Riders Int'l Day 4

Maybe about 300 trikes (?) on the first day. The vendor turn out was less than expected. We checked them out, and then hit the road for a ride in the area.

We road on the flatest, straightest, most anti-motorcycle roads we've ever ridden. One stretch was even without other vehicular traffic--eerie.

More trikers are expected tomorrow, the first full day of planned events.

Posted with LifeCast

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trike Riders Int'l Trip Day 3

Can't use rain as an excuse for the 9:30 start today. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful morning for riding. After 8.5 hours, we rode the 305 miles to Sikeston. All total, we've traveled 960 miles through VA, WV, MD, OH, IN, IL, and MO.

Under a vivid blue sky, we zoomed along the southern border of IN amidst fields of preprocessed ethanol. After passing one field, I noticed two deer on an intercept course with us if we maintained our speed. I signaled to slow down but my wife had already seen them and was braking. They noticed us just as the got to the edge of the road and turned back the way they came.

Tomorrow the Rally begins.

Posted with LifeCast

Int'l Trike Rally Day 2

Waiting for the rain to stop, we got off to a late start at 9:30 am. Nine hours later, we covered 335 miles to Clarksville, IN. We side stepped rain by changing our route to first head west and then south rather than the other way around. The nominal distance this route change added more than paid off by staying dry.

The run across Ohio was not as picturesque as yesterday. This was offset a bit by slightly lower temperatures.

We're looking forward to rolling into Sikeston tomorrow.

Posted with LifeCast

Monday, July 21, 2008

Int'l Trike Rally Trip Day 1

Off at 8:30am, we rode Rte 50 from WMA thru West VA to MD back to W VA to OH where we arrived at about 6:00pm. 321 miles, 72.2 max speed, 44.1 mph avg.

It's nice to see rural areas still exist. It's nice to know curvy mountain roads are still being repaired. If only it didn't tie up traffic so.

Time to crash. Planning about 350 miles tomorrow.

Posted with LifeCast

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Test Of Lifecast App

This is a test of the Lifecast app on the iPod touch. If all is well, I'll be using it to update the blog during the trip to Sikeston.

Posted with LifeCast

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Road trip to Trike Rider's Int'l Rally

No suspension bridges for the rest of the month at least. My wife and I will be heading west to Sikeston, MO to attend the first annual Trike Rider's International Rally. We'll be making the 850 mile ride over 3 days--could do it faster, but can't come up with a compelling reason to do so. We'll hang out at the rally for at least 2 of the 3 days and then take 3 days to get back home. If you see me with my red & white Valkyrie and my wife with her champagne colored Goldwing trike, wave.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Four bridges on July 12th

Initially thinking about Gettysburg Bike Week, we decided instead to continue our summer project of photographing Virginia's suspension bridges. Because of a tight schedule, we needed to make this a day trip. And since we've seen nearly every bridge that's an easy day trip from home, planning for this one promised to be a bit challenging. We intended to see a bridge in Strasburg, one that I some how missed on an earlier trip. Then, on to three others in the Williamsville area about 200-miles south. There was no way around this being a long ride.

Breaking our "no Interstate" rule, I traced out a route that included I-66 and I-81 to expedite getting to the bridge locales. We started at 7:30am heading for Strasburg. 12.5 hours later we rolled back into the garage having made a "side trip" to stop at a diner in Fredericksburg for dinner. Though a long trip, we had a good time and the weather cooperated (no rain).


There are three bridges along Rte 678. The photos are in north to south order.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A wet 4th of July suspension bridge trip

The luck from our previous two near misses with rain (June 21st and June 14th) was bound to come to an end. It did on July 4th. On our way to west central VA where nearly 20 suspension bridges are clustered, the rain and/or threat of rain forced us to change our plans of visiting at least a dozen bridges. On the 2nd day, a line of strong thunderstorms passed our hotel early in the morning with a second line forecast to follow. We decided to leave for home after the first line and ride at a pace that, hopefully, would keep is between the two. We succeeded in getting home without getting wet but also without visiting most of the bridges I had hoped to photograph.

View Larger Map

Looking eastward, a snapshot of Google Earth zoomed in showing our GPS track and push-pins of the bridge locales we were able to visit during our short first day in the area:

Rockbridge Baths
Our first stop was near the small town of Rockbridge Baths along the Maury River. Next to the US Post Office is a foot bridge crossing the river. In full downpour, I snapped a quick pic, did my requisite cross to the other side, and return. We hopped on our bikes and headed for Lexington to find a place to eat lunch and dry out.

Luckily, the rain stopped after lunch. Rather than go to the hotel, we decided to use the time to visit as many bridges as we could before it started to rain again or got dark. We planned a route that would loop us around passing several bridges. Our first stop was near the town of Griffith where two bridges are close together along state route 630. We were able to photograph the first bridge, walk to the second, and photograph it as well.

Goshen Pass

Looping around Rte 42 to 39 and just northwest of Rockbridge Baths is the bridge at Goshen Pass. This turned out to be the final bridge we visited on this trip.

Trip stats:

  • 435.5 miles
  • overall avg 32.5 mph
  • moving avg 44.3 mph
  • max speed 93.6 mph (whoops!)
  • total time 13 hrs 22 min (not including over night)
  • moving time 9 hrs 49 min
  • stopped 3 hrs 33 min

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 21, Another Rainy Suspension Bridge Day

I can't say that I remember when northern VA has had such a string of severe isolated thunderstorms. We were able to visit 3 suspension bridges (again in the Woodstock VA area), before we found ourselves trying to outrun wind, rain, and lightning. The speedy storm caught up with us requiring us to don our rain gear. Riding up the west side of the Blue Ridge was wet. Riding down the east side was dry. Thank you Blue Ridge Mountains.

Lantz Mill

This bridge is beside the rundown Lantz Mill. The surroundings make this one of the prettiest bridges we've seen so far. Alas, I didn't take photos of the adjacent Mill.

Fulks Run

Crossing what we learned was Little Dry River was this, clearly hardly used bridge. Somewhere up the road is Big Dry River.


Located in a beautiful park, this bridge doesn't have the charm of the other's not squirreled away in the woods!

Trip stats:
  • total miles ridden: 296
  • overall avg 27.8 mph
  • moving avg 42.4 mph
  • max speed 81.6 mph
  • total time 10 hrs 36 min
  • moving 6 hrs 58 min
  • stopped 3 hrs 38 min

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 14 Suspension Bridge Day Trip

Limited time had us planning a day trip to the Woodstock, VA area. Our plan was to see four suspension bridges in the area and the route would have us riding roads we hadn't before--a double plus. Unfortunately, the best made plans are not always successful. Of the four bridges, we were only able to locate two. One bridge, the Seven Fountains bridge, was nowhere to be seen. I'll need to do more research to find if this bridge still exists. We didn't locate another bridge, one of the two I designated as "Woodstock", because we couldn't find an access road down to the river. This one warrants another trip to see if access is available from another direction.

Our trip was cut short by bad weather: isolated thunder storms. In a few short minutes, the sky went dark, lightning flashed, the wind kicked up. It happened suddenly enough to freak out the weak hearted...we were undeterred. Being close to I-81, we broke our "no Interstate" rule and headed north just ahead of the rain. We gained enough on the rain that when we turned east onto I-66, we were able to avoid it all together. We made it home in record time (the only benefit of breaking the no Interstate rule) without donning our rain gear.

All in all, a fun ride.

Seven Fountains
No joy. We couldn't find the bridge.

Again no joy. Gravel roads didn't appear to offer access down to the river. So far, two-for-two no-shows. Not a good start.

Woodstock 1

Finally! On one side, we found the remains of a bus that appeared circa 1950s or earlier. Unable to imagine how the bus got there, we imagined a horrific accident where the bus careened off the mountain side road to its final resting place with the driver, long since a picked clean skeleton, still behind the wheel. Our skill at filling in the missing details of the mystery obviated any need to look into the bus--who are we to disturb a resting skeleton?

On the other side of the bridge was a deer who seemed only slightly bothered by our presence. Alas, no deer photo.

Willow Grove
This bridge was noteworthy because of how high it was off the water. Funny was a sign that urged caution if water was at the level of the bridge.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Memorial Day and 5 suspension bridges

I identified a suspension bridge in Buchanan VA (if you click this link, then click "Places") that was just about the right distance away from home for the inaugural Summer of 2008 Suspension Bridge Photography Project. This bridge would be our primary goal and I picked a route that had us passing 4 other bridges combined with a 50-mile stint along the Blue Ridge Parkway, We made plans to stay the night in Waynesboro and headed out just after lunch the day before Memorial Day. We returned before dark on Memorial day having ridden a half mile less than 500-miles.

Here's a map showing the location of the bridges and the route taken. These data were entered into the Garmin Zumo GPS I use.

After the requisite ride up & down the Blue Ridge on Rte 211, we headed south east on Rte 522 and almost immediately south west on Rte 231 to Rte 642. We rode into the small town of Criglersville from the north. A idyllic spot in the road with white buildings on expansive farm lands. Turning west on Rte 670 and traveling less than a mile brought us to the first suspension bridge that crossed a small stream that parallels 670. On one side of the bridge is 670 just east of a small church and on the other side is a house.

Criglersville boasts two suspension bridges. Back at the intersection of 642 and 670, another, smaller suspension bridge crosses the same river. Here, a concrete pad is just below the water's surface and cars pass through the water to get from one side to the other. The suspension bridge allows pedestrians to do the same without getting wet.

From Criglersville we continued on secondary roads to Waynesboro where we spent the night. Making a rather late start of it on Memorial Day, we headed for Buchanan. I mistakenly thought the Buchanan suspension bridge allowed vehicular traffic. It, like all of the others we saw on this trip, are pedestrian bridges only. The Buchanan suspension bridge is large. Spanning the upper end of the James River, it is attached to the Rte 11 roadway bridge on one side and crosses to a residential area on the other.

After eating, we started in the direction of home intending to see the suspension bridge in Tyro. Because all of VA's suspension bridge locations are stored in the GPS, it was easy to see we would pass right by another bridge near Marlbrook, VA. Less than 10 miles north of Lexington on Rte 11, we turned southeast Mackeys Lane, a little jag through the town of Donaldsburg continuing southeast on Midvale Highway to the town of Midvale. Traveling north on South River Road and about half way between the towns of Midvale and Marlbrook is a suspension bridge with South River Road on one side and nothing on the other. A bridge to nowhere--perfect!

Continuing north to Vesuvius where we turned southeast on Rte 690, we headed for the last suspension bridge we planned to see on this trip. Crossing over the Blue Ridge Parkway (where we had been the day before) to about half way between the towns of Nash and Tyro is another small bridge. This bridge is not visible from the roadway and had it not been for the GPS coordinates provided by the Bridgemeister, this one would have gone unnoticed. We parked and made a little hike before finding the bridge. Well concealed now, it may be visible--assuming you know when to turn your head and look--during the winter months when the trees are bare. This small bridge was our favorite because of its seclusion.