Friday, December 18, 2009

Moto Guzzi 500cc V8 Racer – Otto Cilindri

Very cool. Check it out!

Moto Guzzi 500cc V8 Racer – Otto Cilindri: "- Original article from: - The Kneeslider -
One of the fascinating, but lesser known, vintage motorcycle engines is the Moto Guzzi 500cc V8, built for racing from 1955 to 1957. It was a 90 degree DOHC with 8 individual Dell'Orto carburetors. In 1955, it produced 68 hp at 12,000 rpm and in [...]"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Super-Realistic Predator Motorcycle Will Definitely Cause Some Accidents [Predator]

Your next bike?

Super-Realistic Predator Motorcycle Will Definitely Cause Some Accidents [Predator]:

How'd you like to see this coming up behind you in the rearview mirror? It's a motorcycle built by Pitstop Motors that's covered in skulls and topped with a horrifying Predator head. If only it could turn invisible!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

USA: Ducati Gift Site Ready For Christmas

In case you wanted to know what to give me for Christmas...

USA: Ducati Gift Site Ready For Christmas: "
Ducati Gift Shop On-line
Ducati logo
Ducati have teamed up with one of their main dealers in the USA, Pro Italia, and created an on-line gift shop, ready for the Christmas season.

If you need anything for your motorcycle, or for you, or for someone else, this is a good place to buy stuff for Christmas.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Ducati Multistrada

Being a very (VERY) satisfied owner of the first generation Ducati Multistrada, I've kept an eye on its development over the years. The engine, originally the 1000-cc, dual spark plug, air/oil cooled, two valve desmo motor with dry clutch, grew to 1100-cc in what I call the 2nd generation model. A closed loop fuel injection system and wet clutch also distinguish the 1100 from the 1000. (I understand the drivers that motivate going to a wet clutch, not the least of which is longer clutch life, but desmo valves and "clackty-clack" is the heart and soul, respectively, of a Ducati.)

Next Monday, Nov 9th, the 1200-cc MTS debuts with some fan fair. Ducati has been teasing the world with a peek at the front of the MTS only--check out their ingenious web site for its unveiling: click me.

Here's what I know:
The lines of the bike (well, at least the lines of the front of the bike) lean towards the current stable of non-Terblanche designed Ducati sport bikes--not surprising and in the minds of some, a good thing. The 1200-cc engine is reportedly the liquid cooled, 4 valve motor which should make the new MTS a thrill to ride. But alas, not an engine that will be particularly easy to maintain--valve adjustments can be difficult for backyard mechanics for the 2-valve motor and hair-pulling for the 4-valve water cooled version. But this is unlikely to dissuade the die hard Ducatisti.

Most importantly, and what distinguishes the Multistrada line from other Ducatis, is its sit-upright riding position (relatively speaking--it's no cruiser). Admittedly, this is what caused me to cave in '04 and buy one. The new 1200 promises to continue this design feature.

Ride often...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

General Motorcycle Knowledge Quiz #05

I took all 5.
Here's my scores:
Test 1: 70% not bad.
Test 2: 70% ditto.
Test 3: 90% genius!
Test 4: 60% uh oh.
Test 5: 60% had to turn in my motorcycle license!

General Motorcycle Knowledge Quiz #05: "
Web Article
Quiz #05... test your general motorcycle knowledge.

That's 50 questions I've managed to get... not bad. If you've got one, send it to me, but please, also send the answer...



Rumormill: Volkswagen interested in Ducati... still

Is this good or bad?

Rumormill: Volkswagen interested in Ducati... still: "

It's a well-known fact that Ferdinand Pich, Chairman of Volkswagen's Board, wishes that the German automaker had purchased Ducati back in 1985 when the Italian bike manufacturer was in dire financial shape.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Never too early to start planning next year's rides - Towns with odd names

Expanding on a suggestion from my riding partner, I'm making plans for "themed rides" for summer 2010 to visit "odd named" towns. Recall in 2008 I canvassed VA for suspension bridges (check out the Archive for May 2008 and on thru the summer months) and had a blast finding and photographing them.

Looking for towns with odd names is a bit different:
First, there's the issue of what constitutes an odd name. For this exercise, an odd named town is a town with a name that I consider odd. (How else are we going to do it?) There's a web site that is collecting odd named towns but it's worldwide (check it out). It occurred to me I might be able to find the names of US Post Offices listed somewhere (I did here). I realize there are probably a host of places with odd names that don't have a Post Office, but I endeavor not to let this riding theme make my head hurt. So, I culled through Virginia's 700+ Post Offices and found 14 that fit my definition of odd named town.

So, be on the look out for future posts.

Keep riding, it's only October!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dilemma haiku

The commute today.
Choose motorcycle or car?
Two wheels make it right.

-- Post From My iPod touch

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beginner bikes -- a good article

Motorcycle Cruiser magazine posted a good piece on cruisers that are sized and have a power delivery that make them good for new riders. Check it out: Click me.

-- Post From My iPod touch

Friday, September 25, 2009

Motorcycle Touring Guide

I'm soliciting comments about a web site I stumbled across: Motorcycle Touring Guide.
If you have experience with it, please share.

I plan to check it out over the next few weeks. I was frustrated this last summer not having a "theme" to focus our weekend rides (the previous summer I focused on suspension bridges in VA). Maybe this web site will be just the ticket for next summer?

Keep riding...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Electric Motorcycle Sets Speed Record

It's happening...

Electric Motorcycle Sets Speed Record: "Mission Motors, an electric motorcycle startup based in San Francisco, said Tuesday that its prototype vehicle had set a world speed record for battery-powered bikes of 150.059 miles per hour at the Bonneville Speedway in Utah."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Motorcycles that don't require you to squeeze the clutch

I mentioned in a previous post that electric motorcycles may be the future. Between then and now the ongoing efforts to eliminate manually using a clutch to shift gears will likely come to the fore. See below a posting about Honda's latest auto shifter for the next generation VFR. An interesting development that, I assume, is thought to help some potential motorcycle buyers who are uncertain about shifting manual transmissions. I'm not sure I'd ever buy one, but I would like to ride one of these modern marvels.

Honda Dual Clutch Transmission – Automatic Shifting for Big Engine Sport Bikes: "- Original article from: - The Kneeslider -
Honda has announced their “Dual Clutch Transmission” for use in large displacement sport bikes. I read through the description of this new bit of technology and it’s pretty interesting, one clutch for odd gears, the other for even gears. Each clutch engages the next gear [...]"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The adventurous grasshopper

During my last morning commute, waiting at a stoplight I noticed a grasshopper sitting on the roof of the car in front of me. He was towards the rear appearing to have his right foward leg holding on to the base of the car's roof mounted radio antenna.

This will make for an interesting experiment: At what speed will the grasshopper be blown off the roof of the car? My guess was something around 35- to 40-mph.

The light turned green and I kept an eye on my speedometer and the intrepid grasshopper as I shifted up through the gears. In no time I was up to 55-mph.

The wind buffeted the grasshopper side to side. But he remained steadfast. I imagined hearing a small scream above the din of road noise. I was impressed. This continued through 3 more lights and I watched the brave hopper hang on as the car continued north when I turned west.

I thought about that hopper for the rest of the day. It occurred to me that he had probably settled on the car's roof hoping to rest for a while. Instead of resting, he had to hang on for dear life heading to places unkown. Suffering hardship along the way, he is no different than any adventurer of any age. The only thing that would have made his experience more fitting would have been to do it on two wheels.

Ride on brave hopper!

-- Post From My iPod touch

Monday, August 31, 2009

Indian Motorcycles Offers Cash for Clunkers


Not that I'm trying to throw cold water on these nice folks from North Carolina...

At least this attempt at resurrecting the Indian moniker includes a proprietary engine...

But the $3K trade-in amounts to a 10% dent in the $30K MSRP for these bikes. I guess it's nothing to sneeze at, but $27K for what appears to be more or less a Harley-clone with valanced fenders seems high to me. (In fairness, $27K for any 2 wheel vehicle seems high to me.) If I were (the new) Indian motorcycle company, I would focus on making a modern version of the inline 4 engine used in the 1928-43 models (1940 Indian Four). Such a bike would stand out as something truly different among the cruiser crowd.

Good luck Indian.

Indian Motorcycles Offers Cash for Clunkers: "Indian Motorcycles has its own version of the Cash for Clunkers program, offering a $3,000 trade-in toward the purchase of a 2009 Indian Chief."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The future of motorcycling approaches?

Check it out:

Electric motorcycles. To be, or not to be. That is the question.

Have hybrid and soon all electric cars made electric motorcycles inevitable? Electric bike makers have, I believe, a bigger challenge than auto makers.

First, most motorcyclists are performance concious. 30 mph for 2 hours sounds too much like a kids toy. The bike in the link above is being built by a fomer Tesla engineer. Tesla Motorcars is making waves in the auto industry with it's $100k high perforfance, all electric coupe that is said to have exhilarating acceleration and practical range.

Second, motorcyclists are style concious. An electric bike that looks more at home with a kid's Hotwheels collection is going to have little mass market appeal. The bike above is too way out in some futuristic style to appeal to a wide riding audience. Why can't electric bikes look more like standards or cruisers or even touring bikes?

So, what will a successful electric motorcycles need to be successful? Just like with today's fossil fuel burning bikes, there will need to be a variety to appeal to the myriad likes and dislikes of riders:

For the performance enthusiast, the bike above may not be too far off the mark.

For most cruiser riders however, the bike above doesn't cut it. A more laid back riding position with a seat lower to the ground and handlebars that reach back to the rider rather than the other way around will be needed. A nice fat rear tire will work. A raked out front end will be a nice touch.

But, even if it had all these, it will still be missing the all important aural component. No self respecting cruiser rider will ever ride a two-wheel vehicle that makes no sound. So, a successful electric bike for this crowd will need to include a separate electric circuit devoted to a 500 watt amplifier with Dolby Surround 5.1 speakers embedded in faux exhaust pipes to blare out a motorcycle engine sound track. Nice features will include audio jacks to plug in an iPod and a sound mixer to overlay music with the engine soundtrack. Remember, loud pipes save lives.

For me, an electric sport tourer would fit the bill. Something with the lines of a Kawasaki Concours or Honda ST or even a BMW RT. I'm happy to zip silently past traffic so no need for a soundtrack for me. I look forward to the future.

-- Post From My iPod touch

Friday, August 28, 2009

Retro Motorbikes Gone Wild

I really am resisting the urge to re-post existing pieces elsewhere on the Internet. Really.
But this one struck me as particularly interesting because:
1. It's retro. I'm of the age where retro is interesting.
2. It's from the Wall Street Journal. See! I really am sophisticated enough to read the WSJ.

Click the link in the article for the full text.

Retro Motorbikes Gone Wild: "

The Wall Street Journal has published a fun piece on retro motorbikes called “Riding Retro Style.” Here’s the lead

From Chrysler’s PT Cruiser to Chevrolet’s new 1969-style Camaro, retro styling has been used by carmakers to generate buzz and spur sales.

Now motorcycle companies are following the auto industry’s lead, sprinkling the market with midsize, beginner-friendly models that evoke the 1970s.

Harley-Davidson, Triumph and Moto Guzzi are among the makers pushing retro bikes. Moto Guzzi’s V7 Classic has clean, delicate styling typical of bikes from 35 years ago. Matte-black paint and an aggressive rumble give Harley’s Iron 883 an old-school outlaw feel. Triumph’s Scrambler has the wheel spokes and off-road styling of a ‘70s trail bike.

The bikes all have two-cylinder engines between 700 and 900 cubic centimeters in size–midsize by modern standards. Indeed, some riders would consider them small. But each looks and sounds faster than it is and has enough style and attitude to mask the fact that they are mildly powered machines meant for green riders.

They all cost less than $9,000. Yes, it is a lot of money for two wheels, and yes, you could buy at least three nice used motorcycles for the same amount. But in today’s market, bikes under $10,000 get stamped with the “affordable” label.

Here’s the slide show.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Intorducing The eniCycle… [video]

I'm getting one of these....really!

Intorducing The eniCycle… [video]: "

Aleksander Polutnik, an inventor from Slovenia has created the eniCycle, which is an electric unicycle that operates with an electronic gyroscope to help balance and stabilize this one-wheeled wonder. Just like a Segway or the Uno, leaning forward or backward will put the eniCycle in motion and the shifting foot pegs will steer it depending on which direction you want to go.

The top speed is 10 mph and will work for three hours on a full charge, Polutnik, claims that the average user will learn how to ride it in less than 30 minutes, unlike the most frustrating traditional unicycle…

Watch it in full action after the jump.



Motorcycle Stolen Over a Five Year Period

Now that's what I call patience!

Motorcycle Stolen Over a Five Year Period: "

Zhang, a Chinese factory worker admitted that he started stealing parts back in 2003 and assembling them at home over a five-year period. When the motorcycle was finally completed, the worker was pulled over almost immediately when police noticed he had no license for the bike. Zhang, was ordered to return the motorcycle, fined $725 and put on one-year probation.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A reverie while riding

Most of this summer has been all Valkyrie all of the time. I've ridden it almost exclusively to work and most recently on a 1350-mile 5 day jaunt. It's showing its age, but still a great ride. Nothing feels like rolling the throttle of 6 cylinders.

Yesterday and today I commuted to work on my Multistrada. I had forgotten what a pleasurable experience riding a light weight bike can be. The MTS is about half the weight of the Valk with almost the same horsepower. (This isn't entirely accurate but close enough for this analysis.)

The MTS's combination of light weight and good power makes riding on even the most mundane roads an exhilarating experience. Traffic moves into the right lane. Stop lights are always green. Highway patrols are unnecessary. All is right with the world.

If there is a spectrum on which the Multistrada and Valkyrie motorcycles lie, they certainly must be on opposite ends. And yet, both bikes are incredible rides.

I wonder how many motorcycles a person could own and still feel all are worthy?

-- Post From My iPod touch

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Best foot forward on a motorcycle

I was passed by one of those good looking Yamaha Star cruisers. The all black one with the wide rear tire and best proportioned, air cooled, pushrod, V-twin motor in any motorcycle.

However, the foot controls were so far forward the rider looked like his legs were sticking straight out in front of him. Styling considerations aside, this riding position looks very uncomfortable. It looks to be nearly impossible to use your legs to help support your body weight. This can make day long rides unbearable.

Maybe this is why some riders are so shocked to hear we regularly ride 300+ miles or 9+ hours per day?

-- Post From My iPod touch

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Motorcycle adventure - 5 days of mountain roads

Less ambitious than the last two summers, my wife and I took off last week for a 5 day trip swirling around the southern portion of the Blue Ridge and northern bits of the Smokey Mountains. A total of 1380 miles over 5 days averaging about 275 miles and anywhere from 6 to 9 hours a day. We got every weather type available during the summer months: hot, humid, hazy, rain, cold, foggy. Sometimes all the weather in the same day. Here are some highlights:

The route

View Larger Map

Monday - to Point B in Roanoke
We left in the heat via various back roads to Roanoke VA. The map shows a more direct route which was the plan, but we didn't feel compelled to follow the plan. I spent most of the day wetting down my mesh jacket which works quite well as a make shift "evaporative" air conditioner for a couple of hours--it works. We arrived in Roanoke in the late afternoon and relaxed in the pool until dinner time.

Tuesday - to Point C in Maggie Valley
Rain. Rain. Lots of rain. A miserable ride. This was the longest distance riding day and because it rained so long and we were so wet, we opted to get on I-40 through Asheville to make some time. It helped. When we arrived, the rain stopped (of course). We hung out in the hot tub anyway until hunger prompted finding a restaurant for dinner.

Wednesday - to Point D in Johnson City
Rain. Fog. The day didn't look promising. A bit down the road we found a place to stop for breakfast wanting to dry out as much as eat. Thankfully, the rain stopped while we ate. Ultimately, about midday, the sun came out. The heat turned up. And we decided to make a detour through the Dragon Tail, aka Deal's Gap: 318 curves in 11 miles. I rigged my small point & shoot Canon on my handlebars and took video of my wife on her trike. By the end of the day we were whipped. Too whipped to hang out in the pool. We ate dinner and hit the sack.

Thursday - to Point C in Glenville
Took US-19 north through West VA across the New River Gorge bridge, the highest vehicle bridge in this hemisphere. Cool. Unfortunately, it was hot and hazy. So much so, my photos of the bridge weren't exactly picturesque. Ah well.
From 2009 Motorcycle Trip

The hotel we stayed in was in a peculiar place: 10 miles from the nearest town near nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. If felt kind of weird.

Friday - to Point F home
We went north through WV to US Rte 50 and east back home. Nothing particularly exciting except some windmills. We stayed pretty much were on roads that we had been on many times in the past. But it was a nice leisurely and the weather stayed nice, though warm, the whole day.
From 2009 Motorcycle Trip

Overall a great 5 days.

But there's no place like home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Need another solution

Ok, so emailing to this blog is easy. But the formatting sucks.

So, I broke down and purchased a different blog posting app for my iPod touch--I'm using it now. I hope this works better.

Apparently, I can easily add photos too...

-- Post From My iPod touch

Affecting blog posting frequency

Clearly, I'm not doing too well in increasing the number of blog
posts. There are lots of reasons and I'll avoid the details. Suffice
it to say that, of late, when I feel most like blogging, I'm not
around a computer. And, when I'm around a computer, I don't feel like
doing much of anything much less write a blog post.

To wit: Last week we spent 5 days on the road riding through the
mountains of VA, NC, TN, and WV. I was motivated to write several
posts and did so on my iPod touch blogging app...which didn't work.
Now that I've returned home, I'm too busy getting back into the groove
at work that when I get home, the last thing I want to do is write.
Since I'm loathe to write junk (because that's what it would be if I
forced myself to write), I haven't written at all.

In researching solutions, I discovered I can email a message to a
certain address that will post the message here as a blog entry. In
fact, this message is a test of the capability as I'm writing it as an
email. (Probably everyone on the planet knew that feature exists
except for me.)

So now I'm more likely to be able to post when I feel like writing.
This is great! Stay tuned folks.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Braking distance - a case for using the both brakes

I'm catching up on my backlog of moto mags and came across an interesting article in the May 2009 issue (yeah, I'm that far behind) of Cycle World on Honda's latest motorcycle anti-lock brake system. I won't debate the good and bad of ABS on a motorcycle here, but just say that there's a compelling case for ABS for street riders and especially for novice riders.

More interesting to me was the difference in stopping distances with standard brakes when comparing using front & rear brakes versus rear alone. In general, over 2x the distance is needed when using just the rear brake at 30-mph and over 3x the distance at 60-mph, irrespective of road surface conditions or whether it was wet or dry. In fact, these data underscore another truism: good brakes & good tires allow you to stop in the wet almost as quickly as when it is dry.

Thinking about the number of riders I see using only the rear brake is scary. Those I've asked about it tell me they worry about flipping over the handlebars if they use the front brake. I'd be more worried about flipping over the car you might run into if you don't use the front brake.

Ride safe...

SpeedSurfaceFront & RearRear alone
30 mphdry bumpy38 ft89 ft
60 mphdry bumpy146 ft353 ft
30 mphdry smooth32 ft73 ft
60 mphdry smooth140 ft304 ft
30 mphwet smooth37 ft82 ft
60 mphwet smooth155 ft335 ft

Thursday, July 30, 2009

IBA Run playback part 5 - Final thoughts

The previous post was my last description of the IBA run itself. This post is a collection of my final thoughts about the ride. After this posting, I'm putting the IBA subject to rest.

Future posts, hopefully put up a bit more frequently, will focus on rides taken so far this summer. I've got some video to put up, maintenance woes, and I want to share experiences from an upcoming ride in mid August. Stay tuned please.

The Expectation:

Especially before the IBA run, a typical dialog of a conversation about my participation would go like this:
    Other person: "Why would you want to ride 1000-miles in 24 hours?"

    Me: "To see if I can."

    Other person: "What if you don't make it?"

    Me: "Then I'll know I can't."

    Other person: "What do you get if you do make it?"

    Me: "The knowledge of knowing I overcame physical and mental exhaustion."
    Me: "Oh yeah, I also get a certificate suitable for framing."

    Other person: "I think you might be crazy."

Maybe I am crazy.

I expected the ride to be a physical grueling experience with fatigue being a huge factor towards the end of the 1000-miles. I also expected to be mentally spent possibly unable to coherently decide to turn left or right or whether I was even on the route.

Further, my experience to date suggested I'd be utterly whipped before 1000-miles. My longest 1-day ride was about 600-miles, and I've done numerous 500-mile days. In every case, I couldn't even imagine continuing on to 1000-miles.

And so, my curiosity of how I would react and function under these circumstances drove me to give it a try. I believe a similar mental calculus takes place when I decided to take a ride when the outside temperature is below freezing.

Yeah. Maybe I am crazy.

The Reality:

Here's what happened:
  • I over achieved in route planning. I focused on route details down to predetermining when and where to stop for fuel. Almost the entire route was along interstates. These data were loaded into my GPS unit. A monkey could make this ride.
  • I anticipated nutrition needs; I stayed hydrated. Snacks, sandwiches, energy bars, and water. No hamburgers, french fries, or sodas. No stress to the upper or lower GI tract.
  • The weather was generally cooperative. Cloudy, overcast days are actually the best days for riding because they minimize the energy-sucking effects of the sun. Reasonably moderate temperatures and, for the most part, low humidity also helped greatly. No sweating like a pig.
  • Again, because most of the route was along the interstate, time estimates were grossly conservative and getting ahead schedule by several hours removed any sense of urgency. Mental faculties are less likely to be stressed where there is no need to rush. Flying low is good.
  • Strictly keeping to rest stops on a regular basis ensured staying fresh and alert. Even my butt didn't get sore.
And finally, the rain at the end of the ride forced me to stay hyper-alert. I think even subconsciously, I knew that I couldn't let my guard down for a moment while riding at night in the rain on the interstate highway.

I never got to experience the fatigue and exhaustion I thought I might until after the ride was done. I don't know if I was riding on adrenaline, especially at the end in the rain, or if it was all good planning and execution. I can say without hesitation that regimented stopping at set intervals for 15- to 20-minutes is a key to making long distance rides.

So, was it worth it? Yes.
Will I do it again? No. I've got it all out of my system. I'll stick to 300 or so miles per day for a while.

Thanks for staying with me on this. Post any comments you might have.

Ride safe...

Friday, July 10, 2009

IBA Run Playback Part 4 - or the final post

I've got to finish this up. Anyone that cares about these posts has probably passed away by now. It's been two months since the IBA run and 1 month since my last post. I am ashamed.


Turn around and go home
My last posting was at Waypoint 6 less than 100-miles from the turn around point on I-81 at exit 5 in Bristol. The requirement was to purchase something in Bristol (to have a date/time stamped receipt) and then begin the trek north on I-81 and then east on I-66 back to the start point. I've ridden this route scores of times making the 300+ miles of northbound I-81 a mind numbing experience, notwithstanding the picturesque mountains and grand scenes of the Shenandoah Valley.

So, I pulled into Bristol stopping at Black Wolf Harley Davidson for a soda. I passed on the food--though it sure looked good. Black Wolf and Redwing19 had done a great job of ensuring IBA riders had a nice place to refresh for the return run. Since I was a few hours ahead of schedule, I took more than my 20-min to stretch, look at bikes, talk to a couple of folks, and buy a bandanna for my "Bristol receipt."

A little after 5pm I mounted up to start north, but the sun was out and the humidity was rising noticeably. It was going to rain.

Rain + Dark = Can't be seen
And rain it did. Shortly after the sun set, the bottom fell out. Somewhere just south of Roanoke I entered a wall of water. My visibility went from not-so-great to zero immediately. My first thought was if I can't see, then I probably can't be seen. This was confirmed when a tractor trailer zipped around me because he saw me flashing my brake light at the last minute. Commonsense dictated I get off of the highway.

The next exit was nearing, I got off and pulled into the first gas station I came to. About 6 other riders were already stopped and a few more came in after me. The store front about 50 yards from the gas pumps had an overhanging roofed porch covering rocking chairs ala Cracker Barrel. The riders acquainted themselves with each other and we sat and discussed riding, the rain, the time, where we were from, how often we did crazy things like 1000 miles in 24 hours, and other niceties. Employing my famously known people interaction skills, I was done talking after about 3 minutes. That said, I found I had an affinity with a robust fellow I'll call Sherk because the plugs he wore stuck out a good 2" from his ears. (I never did get his name.)

After a bit, a couple in a car pulled up to the porch. The porch was about 3- to 4-steps high, so it was easy to see down into the car and notice the driver, immediately after stopping, reclined her seat to lay flat back. The movement was so sudden and so fluid that it must have been well practiced. Trading glances with Sherk, it was clear this was something worth discussing. However, before we could open our mouths, the passenger opened his door, got out, and quickly slammed it shut, after all, it was still raining pretty hard. As it turns out, he got the back of his T-shirt caught in the door. Rather than open the door to free it, he gave a couple of tugs and it apparently came loose so he scaled the porch steps to enter the store.

When he passed us, we saw his shirt had not come loose but was unraveling from the back trailing a string of thread back to the car door. Trading glances again, Shrek and I waited until the store door closed and decided we'd talk about him instead. We guessed he would soon be topless and mused over the meaning of his apparent nonchalance of losing his shirt.

I peered inside the store after a bit wondering how Shirtless was doing. But I got sidetracked when I discovered I was peering into a McDonald's--!!--I was expecting a convenience store.

Turning around intending to mention this latest revelation to Shrek, I was distracted by another rider coasting in on a 1970's vintage BMW R bike. What caught my attention was the rider's goggles: they were so utterly fogged that it must have been impossible to for him to see through lenses. He was busily wiping them clear and I realized they must have been prescription goggles as his eye balls were inordinately This guy worried me a bit. magnified and the lenses were very thick--but I only got a glance before the lenses fogged over again. If these goggles were correcting his sight, he clearly couldn't take them off. But they were fogging so badly that he couldn't see with them on either. I glanced over at Shrek and he was slowly shaking his head back and forth. I decided, rain or no, it was time to hit the road.

Wet wet wet all the way home...
The rain eased considerably but never stopped. I got back out on northbound I-81 heading for I-66. The rain and late hour pumped up my adrenaline and after a short time on the road I realized I had been gripping the handlebars as if hanging over a precipice. As much as I tried not to, I remained hypersensitive and alert for the remainder of the ride.

When I got to I-66, the more east I traveled the heavier the rain became. By the time I got back to the finish point, the rain was coming down hard. I rolled into the finish at about 1am. Even with the long wait in the twilight zone, I had about 5 hours to spare.

All done...and glad of it
I turned in my paperwork, got my certificate--suitable for framing by the way--and headed for home. The adrenaline high had passed and fatigue began to roll over me as I approached home. I pulled up in the drive way and actually had some difficulty getting off of the bike I was so tired. I pulled out of my completely rain soaked suit, took a shower, and hit the sack.

I'm really glad I participated in this run. I appreciate all of the work the Redwing19 volunteers did to make this a smooth operation. But I can honestly say I got it all out of my system and I doubt I'll do another. Look me up on the official finishers list: click here.

View Larger Map

Thursday, June 18, 2009

IBA Run Playback Part 3 - Interstate riding is fast

The Haulin' Phase.

As mentioned in the previous post, once on I-64, I was pretty much away from many of the IBA riders. With no worries about close encounters, and because strictly obeying speed limits on the interstate roads will get you run over--especially when on two wheels--I began to notice I was ahead of my admittedly conservatively estimated time table. By the time I had reached my 4th way point, I-64 on the west side of Richmond heading west to I-81, I was an hour ahead of my schedule. When I got to my 6th stop, heading south on I-81 down near Wytheville, I was two hours ahead. This included strict observance of my 20-min rest-and-relax at each gas stop.

It was about 3:30pm when I got to waypoint 6 having traveled approximately 600 of the 1000-miles. I was pleasantly surprised how pert I felt at this point given that around 600-miles is the maximum distance I had ridden on any one bike trip previously. This feeling continued to "haunt" me throughout the remainder of the ride...more to come.

The weather to this point included everything: fog, rain, sunshine, rain, clouds, and more rain. By the time I got to waypoint 6, the rain had stopped, the sun came out, and the humidity began to rise. To the south, the dark sky portended more rain to come before the ride ended. And it did.

View Larger Map

It's been over a month since the ride. You may be wondering if I've got a photographic memory or if I'm making all of this up. Neither: I left voice messages to myself at each rest-and-relax stop capturing thoughts, experiences, etc. Technology to the rescue.

Monday, June 8, 2009

IBA Run Playback Part 2 - I've got to get away

Arbitrarily breaking up the ride into phases, I'll call this the 'Escape Phase'.

I intended to get this posted earlier--much earlier--but life and making summer riding plans has been sucking up a lot of time. Here's the next installment of the saga of 1000 miles in 24 hours.

Just as dawn was breaking, 450+ motorcycles were unleashed under local police control to Rte 28 south and then on alone to I-66 east to the I-495 Capitol Beltway to I-95 south, around Richmond on I-295 to I-64 east towards Tidewater. My starting position had maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the riders in front of me when I left Chantilly and getting out to I-66 reminded me why I'm not a fan of riding in large motorcycle groups. Those of you who know me personally and those of you who have read some of my early blog posts know I'm not a motorcyclist for the comrade of riding in large groups. I don't mean to sound anti-social and I enjoy shooting the breeze with motorcyclists of all stripes. But most motorcyclists are weekend riders--not that there's anything wrong with that--and are not experienced in the knowledge of group riding. Even though it's part of the VA motorcycle license test, not riding in a staggered formation for some motorcyclists seems to be akin to driving in the left lane for some motorists. This coupled with the "urge to keep up" and the "sudden slow down" afflicting many newbie riders can make large group rides a hair-raising experience.

Thus, my primary goal was to get away from the crowd of riders as fast as possible. This was easier said than done owing to the sheer number of riders. And, many riders were clearly riding with buddies as there were numerous "sub groups" within larger groups. So, even at super-legal speeds so easily achieved on the interstate roads of the Washington Metro area, I never got away from a group of riders until I exited for fuel for the first time.

The First Stop Wasn't the Planned First Stop
I intended my first gas stop to be at I-64 exit 214. That didn't happen. Instead, I had to get off at exit 31 on I-295 and even then I had been riding on Reserve for some time. My planning for this first stop missed a few important factors:
  • I didn't account for the extra gas consumed at super-legal speeds trying to get away from the crowds. The Valkyrie isn't exactly what you'd call a fuel economy vehicle and with 6 carburetors sucking fuel at prodigious rates at high speed, it is even less so.
  • I didn't account for the gas used to get to the start/stop from my home--I filled up the night before so I wouldn't have to worry about finding a gas station at 4am. But to get from my house to the start point used nearly a gallon of fuel. That's about 20% of the fuel I carry.
  • And, I apparently planned the first stop too close to the ragged edge of how far I can travel on a tank of gas even under more ideal conditions.
All of this conspired to cause me to sweat a bit when I suddenly had to go on Reserve soon after getting on I-295 around Richmond. When I finally got off the interstate, the gas station was several miles away from the exit. Because I was determined to stick to my 20-min rest & stretch at each gas stop, I was off the highway long enough that when I got back on the interstate, I found myself in a "bubble" where most riders were either ahead of me or behind me. I only saw a couple of bikers when I got back to the interstate and no longer had to be hyper-ready for a bike to come into my personal space from the side or suddenly brake from the front or try to kiss my rear tire from the back. My poor planning for the first gas stop had the pleasant side effect of putting me in a place where most riders weren't. The ride started to be fun.

View Larger Map

An item of interest:
According to IBA, nearly 90% of the riders that started this run finished. I find that incredible. Especially considering one couple that passed me while I was zipping down I-95. They were riding a late model Harley, I believe a Dyna series. The small passenger seat was completely obscured by the robust young lady sitting on it. Thinking about her riding on that slightly padded postage stamp for a 1000-miles made me wince. I'm still wincing.

Furthermore, the Dyna owner had replaced the factory ape hanger bars for a set so high that when he turned his head side to side he could discreetly check his underarm body odor. How he could keep his arms in that position for the 20+ hour ride is beyond my comprehension.

This reinforced what I've known for sometime: Harley riders are a tough breed. I think it's reasonable to assume this couple were among the 90% of finishers. My hat's off to them.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

IBA Run Playback Part I - The smell of exhaust in the morning

While riding, I am able to mentally compose blog entries with such descriptive richness that a reader can experience the sights, sounds, tactility, smells, and even tastes of a motorcycle ride. Unfortunately, dismounting initiates a mental degaussing process that erases the elegant prose that moments before flowed like water. Some call this Adult ADD.

What follows in this post and a few subsequent posts will be a chronological description of my experiences and observances while on the 1K-mile trek. They will include comments about the weather, road conditions, other riders, and spurious thoughts that transpired throughout the 18-½ hours I was on the road. I hope you find these entertaining.

Dawn breaks with the smell of over 400 motorcycles
Having not gotten to sleep until after midnight--I kept wondering what I had forgotten to pack--I got up a 4am and peered outside. The sky was overcast with a hint of rain in the air. I decided a hearty breakfast was warranted and cooked eggs over hard with toast and juice. Conscious of gastric function, I carefully monitored the quantity of ingested food attempting to strike a balance between sufficiency and that which would require frequent stops. My goal was to synchronize nature calls with fuel stops.

The temperature was warm enough that I thought it prudent to open the zippered air flaps in my riding suit before heading off--they stayed open for all but the last 100 or so miles of the ride. I made some last minute adjustments to my packing by removing about half of the tools I squirreled away. I also decided to run back in and make some peanut butter sandwiches that I had previously decided not to take. I rolled out of the garage headed for the stop/start point in Chantilly at about 4:35am. It was dark. And as always when I happen to be out and about at such an early hour, I was surprised at the number of vehicles on the road--the Washington metro area never sleeps.

I arrived at the start/stop point just at 5am. Riders, probably at least a ¼ of the total, were already staged and anxious to get going. As I found a spot in line, one of my good motorcycle riding friends walked up and met me. Having no need to seek the hidden zen of 1000-miles in 24 hours, he was not riding but only there to see me off. A good friend indeed.

At about 5:15 the first set of "special riders" were sent off. The IBA crew then combed through the staged riders collecting rider identification sheets, making note of rider IDs, license numbers, and odometer readings. I was off at 5:35 just 14-min before the sun was due to rise. Despite the overcast morning, there was soon enough light for motorists stopped by Fairfax police to count the 423 riders snaking their way towards I-66 heading east for the Capitol Beltway and then south towards Richmond.

I love the smell of motorcycle exhaust in the morning!
(Not really, but I can't think of another way to end this on a dramatic note.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

IBA Run - Complete

Did it. Rain and all I got back at midnight--5 hours to spare. Details coming.

Posted with LifeCast

Friday, May 15, 2009

IBA Run - Packed Up

Snacks, water, tools, and gear. Route laid out on the GPS. Full tank of gas. I can't think of anything else to do...except get some sleep.

In about 7 hours, I'll be staged out and on my way.

Good luck to all the riders.

Posted with LifeCast

Friday, May 8, 2009

Redwing19 IBA -- mini shakedown for Valkyrie: all systems 'GO'

Despite the threat of rain yesterday, I rode the Valkyrie to work to see if any issues, primarily with the brakes, would arise. Granted, a 20-mile round trip isn't exactly a test ride, but it poured rain on the return leg so I got a chance to see things work in the wet.

    Great! Stops right now. It's easy to forget how much different a new set of pads can make.

Front tire:
    I've scuffed off the preservative that makes new motorcycle tires slick requiring extra caution. The rear tire is essentially new (~1K miles on it). Confidence level on wet roads just went up several notches.

Desmog with valve & carb adjust:
    Wow! Backfire almost gone. I should have done this a long time ago. There's nothing like the sound of a slowing Valkyrie with 6-into-6 pipes at closed throttle.

New plugs & air filter:
    Since the world has gone to unleaded gas, spark plugs seem to last forever. The old ones looked worn, but not worn out. I've yet to see a worn out plug in over 130K miles. The air filter was dirty, but not overly so. Replacing these two items was more for peace of mind than anything else.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Redwing19 IBA -- Check on route; check on waypoints

Redwing19 sent out the rider's package via email 2 days ago.

After reviewing it, I see they've changed the route slightly in the Tidewater area. Instead of heading east around I-64 to the south side via the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, we'll be going due south on I-664 through the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel onwards to Rte 58 W. It's hard to predict traffic in that area early in the beach season, but in general, it's a good move to avoid the Hampton Roads Tunnel. Adjustments are in order for the GPS route.

(Just to be sure, I sent a note to Redwing19 to confirm what I thought was a route change. Their prompt reply showed there are no changes to the original posted route. So, my GPS route is loaded and ready to go as is. )

Also, the rider's package makes it clearer that the turn around point is at Black Wolf Harley Davidson in Bristol Va at exit 5. And, there's a requirement to purchase something in Bristol and get a receipt. No problem.

Short of packing and sorting, I think I'm ready. I hope the weather is cooperative.

Stay tuned...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Global warming interfering with motorcycle ride

Well, not really.

With recent temps suddenly in the mid 90os, my seasonal allergies have no chance to acclimate and I suffer acutely. Saturday came with the typical watery, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Sunday's symptoms included severely swollen eyes. These coupled with the malaise accompanying high doses of antihistamines stifled any weekend 2-wheeled jaunts.

I hoped to "test ride" the Valkyrie to ensure the front brakes, tires, de-smog, valve adjustment, and carb tweaks work without problems. If I can back off on the allergy meds, I'll give it a go this week. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And now the brakes

Front brakes are in the mail.
There isn't much left to fix or replace.
I'm looking forward to May.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flat front tire on Valkyrie -- ack!

Ok, last week I discovered the frayed throttle cables. This after changing the plugs, air filter, and adjusting the valves. I'm installing the throttle cables now and discovered my front tire is flat; the valve stem is leaking! It's almost as if something was conspiring against me riding the Redwing19 IBA in a few weeks!!

In 10 min the local motorcycle shops open. I'm going to try to find a new valve stem. If they have a new front tire, I'm going to buy that too. Then I'll take the wheel to a tire shop down in Fredericksburg, King George Tire, that will mount and balance for a very reasonable price. They are a long way down the road, but the guys there are easy to work with and get the job done right.

I hope I can find what I need.


Interlude - Latest visitor statistics

The Redwing19 IBA posts have boosted visits nearly 100% in the last 30 days as compared with the previous 30 days. The most common search term visitors are using is 'Redwing 19' and Twitter continues to be the #1 referring site. Visits from new cities in the last 30 days include Edmonton, Cape Town, and Newcastle. Very cool.

I appreciate all visitors. I urge you to leave comments.


Last 30 days:

Previous 30 days:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

2009 First Ride

Last Sunday April 5th, my wife and I took a short ride out to Marshall to eat lunch at the small Marshall Diner. The weather was great. The food was good. It was a nice way to spend a few hours.

(It was on this ride I noticed my frayed throttle cable.)

From Blogger Pictures

Let the riding season begin!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Throttle cables akimbo

Taking advantage of the nice weather, my wife and I rode our bikes west for a late lunch. On the way, I noticed one of my throttle cables has frayed.

Good thing I saw this now. I'd hate that the cable would break during the IBA run.

Now to hunt down some cables...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Redwing19 IBA Registration Sent - Am now committed

It's done.

I sent the registration earlier this week. I'm going to ride in the Redwing19 IBA 1000 miles in 24 hours in VA.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Redwing19 IBA - Rider prep

Another sheet to add to the ever expanding Google spreadsheet: A packing list.

What have I forgotten?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Redwing19 IBA time planning - Arrive & Depart

A little more work with Google spreadsheets:
It'll be easier to determine if I'm on or off schedule with waypoint arrival and depature times explicitly written down, especially in the early morning hours. I added another sheet to the previous planning spreadsheet using the Google Maps' estimate of transit time from one waypoint to the next and a 6am departure. I also added the 20-min "break time" I intend to take at each waypoint to refresh. Google Maps tells me I'll get back to the starting point around 2am the next day.

Hmmmm...just 4 hours of buffer...doesn't sound like much does it?


Here's what the additional sheet looks like. I'll print it and tape it to my fuel tank for easy reference.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Redwing19 IBA - Status update from their website

Redwing19's latest status update indicates they have the necessary number of riders to win the IBA record for the largest 1000 miles in 24 hours Saddle Sore ride in VA.

I'm keenly interested in the number of riders who will finish compared with the number who start. I hope those that don't finish do so because they opted not to. The alternative is an unpleasant thought.

Have happy thoughts...
...and ride safe.

Valkyrie On The Run-Today's Commute

The tuneup & desmog has my Valk running as good as ever. I wish I could say it fixed the backfiring, and it did except cylinder #2. As I mentioned, cyl #2 isn't right. At my next opportunity, probably not sooner than 2 weeks, I'm going to do a valve adjustment. I'll keep you posted.

Posted with LifeCast

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Redwing19 IBA - Bike Prep

In preparation for the 1000 miles in 24 hours IBA run, I purchased a set of spark plugs and air filter figuring to do a quick tuneup. But after getting the fuel tank off--required for air filter access--I decided to also remove the smog equipment.

The smog equipment on a Valkyrie consists of a vacuum actuator controlling a pair of reed valves that feeds air into the exhaust through tubing. A misguided attempt to reduce pollution through dilution, it also causes backfiring on closed throttle because the reed valves wear and leak.

Following instructions I downloaded from the Valkyrie Riders Cruiser Club web site, I began the job of disconnecting, removing, cutting, and filling. Though it took longer than expected (of course it did), I'm happy with the result.

I still have a bit of backfire on the left side from cylinder #2. I think I might have a worn intake &/or exhaust valve--though if I'm lucky a valve clearance adjustment might fix it. If it gets too bad during the 1000 mile run, I'll pull the spark plug wire on cylinder #2 and run it as a 5-cylinder!

Now, on to planning what I'll take along for the ride. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Interlude -- Visitors to Road2Ride


The number of visitors have doubled in the last month compared to the previous month. For the days between Feb 24th and Mar 25th, this blog had 123 visits of which 70% were new readers. Folks from 17 countries including the Netherlands, Portugal, Jordan, Nicaragua, India, and South Africa were among them.

The top 3 search terms bringing folks to this blog were:
  • road2ride
  • "cross country motorcycle rides"
  • all virginia iron butt 2009
Another interesting statistic for me is that was the second most popular site to refer folks to this blog ( was first). The popularity of Twitter is clear, though I don't think I can explain why.

Sincere thanks to everyone stopping by. Feel free to leave comments or send me an email.

I'll get back to IBA planning soon.

Ride safe...john

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Redwing19 IBA route planning -- GPS track & way points

Way points:
Using the lat,lon coordinates stored in the Google spreadsheet, I created a Google "my map" for each way point by entering its coordinates into the search field.

View Larger Map

After all of the way points were entered, I clicked the "View in Google Earth" link and saved the resulting KML file on my computer. Then, I went to GPS Visualizer to create a GPX file--the format my Garmin Zumo 450 GPS unit understands. I uploaded the KML file to GPS Visualizer and clicked the "Convert" button. I downloaded the resulting GPX file with my way points and transferred it to my Zumo.

For a 1000-mile-in-24-hours endurance ride, I imagine minimizing the need to use my brain to make turn decisions will be desirable, especially in the early morning hours. So, in addition to the way points, I want to have the IBA route also entered into my GPS unit. Most GPS units, certainly all Garmin units I have and seen, will automatically calculate a route between way points. GPS units determine the "best route" based on minimizing distance or time, which is generally what most folks want when going from point A to point B. However, when trying to follow a predetermined route, it can be difficult and time consuming with most GPS units to include necessary intermediate "via-points" to stay on the predetermined track.

So, in addition to the way points, I want to have the IBA route shown on my Zumo. Again, Google to the rescue. Using the same procedure for determining the 120 mile distances between way points, I created a map that begins and ends at the starting point with intermediate points (the white circles) placed along the IBA route. This essentially duplicates the map on the Redwing19 web site.

View Larger Map
Now, using the nifty GMAPtoGPX "bookmarklet" (you can get it here), I created another GPX file that has the track shown on the Google map. I transferred this to my GPS unit allowing me to display both way points and the IBA route.

I can do this.


In previous blog posts, I outlined the procedure for creating way points and tracks in a bit more detail. Click here, here, and here if you'd like to read them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Redwing19 IBA route planning -- Google to the rescue

I need to identify stop points along the 1000 mile IBA route Redwing19 has laid out. I know that my Valkyrie with a topped off tank and at semi-legal speeds will go about 120 or so miles before I hit reserve. So, I want to find specific stop points, aka way points, in the vicinity of interstate ramps or road intersections to increase the likelihood of being near a gas station.

Google maps and Google docs.

Fire up any browser. I use Firefox because it allows multi-tabbed viewing of different web sites simultaneously. In one of the tabs, I went to Google maps and entered the starting point address.

View Larger Map

Then, I right clicked anywhere on the map and chose 'Directions to here'.

View Larger Map

Google maps does just what you'd expect: It enters the address as the start point and the destination is where you clicked. Driving directions are shown to the left of the map (on the Google map page, not on the inset above). Pay attention to the distance traveled.

Zooming out a bit to show more of the map, I dragged the "B" marker along the designated route. When the Google route, shown as a blue overlaid line or track, didn't follow the designated route, I clicked anywhere on the blue track and dragged it back to the designated route. This puts a "via-point" along the Google track ensuring the directions and distance correspond to the designated route.

View Larger Map

Dragging the "B" marker down I-95 and around I-295 to I-64E, I found exit 205 to be about 130 miles from the start point. Perfect.

View Larger Map

Using the Google maps gadget Position Finder, I found the latitude and longitude of this first way point. Here's what I got: 37.51613o,-77.18977o. I'll use this information in my GPS unit later.

I need somewhere to store all of this information. I opened another Firefox tab and went to Google Docs. I created a new spreadsheet and stored the data in columns. In addition to the lat, lon, I recorded Google's distance and time estimates. Check it out:

To find the next way point, I switched the start and destination points and repeated the steps. The spreadsheet above shows all of the way points I'll be using for my route. You can see that summing all of the distances gives 1039 miles which is very close to the Redwing19's estimate of 1036. Google thinks I can do this distance in a bit over 17 hours. When I add my 20-min break times, I get almost 20.5 hours. If I left at 6am, I'll get back around 2:30am. Close to my previous rough estimate.

My next post will focus on getting this information into a format my Garmin 450 Zumo GPS can read.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Redwing19 IBA route planning -- rough estimate of time & speed

1000 miles in 24 hours....that's 42 mph. That doesn't sound too bad.

Let's estimate an average of 50 mph since most of the route is interstate roads. While on I-95 and I-81, I can probably do better than 50 mph, maybe much better. However, I've learned from experience--130K miles worth--that riding at high speed on my Valkyrie doesn't necessarily mean I can cover long distances faster because I end up having to stop more times to refuel. Keeping speeds at reasonable levels, I can expect to travel 120- to 130-miles before I need to switch to 'Reserve' on my fuel tank. So, I'll stop every 120 or so miles for gas. I'll allot 20-min at each stop to refresh. The math:

1000 mi at 50 mph equates to 20 hrs.
Stops every 120 miles means I'll stop 8 times during the 1000 mile route.
Taking a 20-min break at each stop adds 160 min to the trip for a total of 22 hrs 40 min.
Start time is no later than 6 am, meaning I'll be back at 4:40 am the next day.

I can do this.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can I ride 1000-miles in 24 hours?

For sake of argument, let's say I'm going to do the Redwing 19's Iron Butt Association's Saddle Sore 1000--1000 miles of riding in 24 hours or less. First, it'd be good to know the route.

From their web site:

Start / finish is in Chantilly VA. The route heads south to Richmond, east to the shore, west and then north back to Richmond, west to the mountains, south to the tip of VA, and return to Chantilly. The estimate is 1036 miles. Nearly all of it is interstate roads--not exactly the most desirable for motorcycle riding but certainly the best for making time.

So, it all distills down to 1 question:
Can I ride 1000 miles in 24 hours?

I've ridden several 500-mile trips and came to the conclusion that 500 more would be nigh impossible.

Hmmmm...still's certainly for a good cause!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Snow melting--warm weather promised

Despite sub-freezing temps, the sun beating down on dark macadam is generating sufficient heat to melt the snow away. Yea!

Weekend temps promised to be in mid-60s or higher. Yea!

I'm optimistic bike reading season is just around the bend. Yea!

Gotta pull maintenance on the Multistrada and Valkyrie. Boo!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Big snow = no mo...


At least I hope it doesn't. Today's unofficial snow fall amount, measured on the top of my car, is 6" thereabouts. Motorcycles and snow don't mix well. Drive your car or stay home. Trust me.

I've seen intrepid motorcyclists ride in the snow--I've done it myself. But it's not to be condoned; especially so for new riders but for experienced riders too. Unlike rain, good tires and good riding technique (see tip 9 in my 9 tips post) cannot compensate for the loss of traction in snow. A motorcycle, unlike a car, is inherently unstable. It can go down in the snow even when not leaned over. Coupling this with generally poor visibility--including when it warms enough for road spray to be a factor--suggests motorcycle riders should exercise their car driving skills when the ground is white.

If you really can't stand not riding when there's snow & ice on the roads, then make sure your life insurance is paid up and be prepared for some puckering experiences.

Be careful = be smart.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lava lamps akimbo

In a previous post, I mentioned purchasing a lava lamp and using it to stimulate pleasant thoughts.

Well, I love it so much I got another. The first is a "blue" lamp: blue water & blueish white lava. My new one is a "black" lamp, which is more accurately described as a chocolate lamp. Very cool.

If I'm not careful, I'm going to have one in every room!

Have fun...john

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Summer riding plans firming up

I might have found a theme for this summer's rides. Recall that my last summer's theme was photographing suspension bridges in VA. This summer might be a run to see how many weird and wacky travel sights we can visit. Check this out: click me.

I'm open to suggestions if you have other ideas. Please pass them along.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Motorcycling Malaise Ended?

Something is not right. Today marks the 5th day in a row that temps have been above 50oF. Very unusual for February in the Washington metro area. Earlier in the week, temps were nearing 70o! Yet, I felt no compulsion to ride. On the contrary, I drove 4-wheels every day but today. What's going on?

I hesitate to be too introspective asking 'Why'...I'm concerned I might not like the answers.

However, this morning, I donned my riding suit and rode my Valkyrie to work. Cold air, stinging eyes, numb fingers...and yet, a most excellent commute. The stars aligned and I was forced by traffic to slow down through a sweeping right hander in time to give a respectful nod to a uniformed radar operator.

All is well with the world.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Saw no motorcycles today

I think the high of 14 oF (that's -10 oC for you folks outside the US) kept riders inside. Not only was the temp low, but the wind was blowing too. The apparent temperature (aka wind chill) was below 0 oF at times.

Man am I looking forward to warmer weather.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How to: Increase the power to weight ratio on my Ducati

Any vehicle's acceleration, be it a car or motorcycle, is determined by its power to weight ratio. I think its a bit more intuitive to flip the ratio giving weight to power, that is, a number indicating how many pounds each horsepower has to move.

Some examples:
Dodge Viper
  • 10 cylinder engine
  • 450-hp
  • 3500-lbs
  • power-to-weight ratio = 0.129 hp/lbs
  • weight-to-power ratio = 7.8 lbs/hp
So, for the Viper, one hp pushes almost 8 lbs down the road.

Ducati Multistrada
  • 2 cylinder engine
  • 90-hp
  • 500-lbs
  • P-to-W = 0.180 hp/lbs
  • W-to-P = 5.6 lbs/hp
That is, each horsepower on the Multistrada pushes less than 6 lbs down the road.

Now we see why even relatively small-engine size motorcycles blow the doors off nearly any automobile.

But wait...
Neither cars nor motorcycles drive themselves. So, we should factor in the weight of the driver/rider to be a bit more precise. For most cars, the weight of the driver is relatively negligible compared to the weight of the car. For example, for the Viper, a 200-lb driver (yeah, a portly dude) amounts to less than 6% of the car's weight. So, the 7.8 lbs/hp becomes 8.3 lbs/hp...not much change (6% change to be exact).

What about the motorcycle?
The 200-lb rider is a whooping 40% of the weight of the bike. Thus, the most excellent 5.6 lbs/hp raises to a Viper comparable 7.8 lbs/hp. So, now this Ducati won't stomp the omnipotent Viper.

So, how do I increase the W-to-P ratio of my Ducati?

Control portion size.
No late night snacks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Motorcycling and the zen of a lava lamp

An impulse buy. I bought one of these and set it up on my desk at work. Brings back that slow up & down motion of the head with the unfocused eyes and slightly open maw threatening drool--a look that was prevalent in the 1960s among certain crowds. One that I didn't experience personally by the way.

The slow, methodical movement of the "lava" (what is the lava anyway?) got me to thinking about pleasant things like motorcycling. Now that we're on the "right side" of the winter solstice, I'm anxious for longer days, warmer temps, and cycle rides with friends and family. Alas, here in the Washington DC metro area, we're in for more colder weather before warm weather arrives.

Things to do before spring:
  • Put fuel stabilizer in all bikes.
  • Change the plugs in the Valkyrie.
  • Change the plugs in the Goldwing trike.
  • Change the front brakes on the Multistrada.
  • Replace brake & clutch fluid in all bikes.

All of these could have been done during the holidays...none were. The holidays turned out to be a black hole sucking time into oblivion. My winter-a-zation for our bikes is minimal (click here) owing to much experience in what works and how much really needs to be done. Different folks in different places must adjust their winterizing accordingly, especially north of here.

Despite the less than ideal riding conditions during the dark months, the number of motorcyclists, and definitely the number of robust motorcyclists, is clearly on the rise. I've seen more riders out and about during this holiday season than I can remember. Many riding with open face helmets sans a face cover. Tough dudes! (I didn't notice any dudette riders, but there may have been some who wisely donned full face helmets making it difficult to determine gender.)

Comments solicited.

Tip: Don't shake a lava lamp. The lava bursts into tiny bubbles taking hours to coalesce disrupting its soothing properties.