Monday, June 16, 2008


Vigilance in summertime is paramount

No amount of law or law enforcement will keep you safe from stupid teens this summer, as this story illustrates:
"Cellphone bans for teen drivers are difficult to enforce," added McCartt. "Drivers with phones to their ears are not hard to spot, but it is nearly impossible for police officers to see hands-free devices or correctly guess how old drivers are."
And they're ignoring the rule most blatantly in my hometown. One of these days, society is going to wise up and raise the driving age. Until then, keep your mental radar set to '11'.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The day frustration turned into moto-misery

It's been over a week since Memorial Day, and only today do I finally feel like writing about what a miserable motorcycling experience it was for me.

I met my good friend Rodger at Midland International Airport around 9 a.m. that morning, where we lined up to participate in the annual Veteran's Ride to Remember. It's a 1000-bike excursion from the airport, into Midland, east down I-20, and then up the hills into Veteran's Park near Scenic Mountain in Big Spring.

The morning ceremony:

Here we are, lined up and ready to go:

Here's a small section of the line:

The ride over was just fine. The roads and highways were closed for the procession from beginning to end, which allowed the gargantuan group to stay together. It was actually great fun. It wasn't until we reached the park in Big Spring that the trouble started.

As the immense line of bikes slowed on the highway for the turn into our destination, I began to notice how hot the day was getting. Normally no problem, but by the time we made it to the top of the hill and into parking, the Rex was overheating in a major way. Coolant had filled the expansion tank and was pouring all over my back tire and swingarm. In the midst of all those straight-piped Harleys, I hadn't been able to hear that the Rex's fan wasn't operating. Strangely though, neither was the temp light. At that point, I immediately knew the radiator's thermo-swtich had failed.

I spent a few minutes, and used an entire package of Windex wipes, cleaning my rear tire:

After letting things cool down, we got on the road for home, but took a wrong turn shortly after leaving the park and needed to turn around. We found a cul-de-sac and stopped to talk for a moment about where we needed to go.

That's when it happened.

As I put my feet down, I quickly realized that my left boot was still slick with the coolant I had walked through while cleaning my bike. I lost my footing to the tune of about three inches, but that was just enough to send me past the point of no return. I held the bike with all my strength for what seemed like forever, but eventually resigned myself to my own failure, and eased the Rex onto the ground as gently as I could. It went down to the left, marring the pulse cover and busting the front turn signal lense. There were also minor scratches on the grab-bar and bar-end. But thankfully, the tank, bodywork, and levers were all spared.

The damage was admittedly minor, but as I picked the bike up, I quickly made the realization that, for the first time in 18 years of street riding, I had dropped a streetbike from a standstill. I could've punched myself, I got so mad at my own stupidity.

At any rate, the Rex did just fine on the way home with a 75-mile per hour wind blowing through the radiator, but I didn't enjoy a single minute of the ride. I just wanted to get home, drink about a gallon of water, lay down -- and cry.

So fast-forward a week, and as of last night, I have most of the marred parts sanded and repainted. I've also installed a manual fan switch that runs in parallel to the new thermo-switch, which is still on order, along with a new lense, pulse cover, and cover gasket. In addition, I've ordered myself a set of frame sliders just in case -- Lord please forbid -- I should ever drop it again.

Hat-tip to Rodger and Mike for all the pics. More to come as I get my new parts installed.

We're discussing this article at Two-wheeled Texans