Monday, May 25, 2009


Ride to Remember 2009 (report and pics)

I'm pretty well convinced that this year's Ride to Remember, from the Midland Viet Nam Memorial to the Big Spring Viet Nam Memorial, was the biggest it has ever been. We showed up two hours early and were still positioned mid-pack.

There were rumors floating around when we destinated that the procession had been more than 10 miles long, and I don't doubt it. There were bikes as far as the eye could see from my vantage point.

Easily 1,000 bikes or more made it to the event:

Check out the green Rex in the center of the pic. I meant to talk to this guy and ask if he was a member of the ZRXOA, but I never found him after we arrived in Big Spring.

Bob tells an engaging story as we prepare to leave:

Once we were all lined up, it took a few minutes to get the procession moving, but everything went smoothly once we we were underway:

The only small glitch to speak of was that a few big rigs snuck into the parade on the Interstate, and had to be shut down in-lane by law enforcement. Otherwise, smooth sailing both there and back.

The best thing about participating in this ride is seeing all the old veterans (and others) who stand on the roadside as we pass, diplaying flags, waving at us, and offering their salutes. It gave me this warm, fuzzy feeling that's difficult to describe. It's nice knowing that our remembrance means so much to them.

When we got to the State Park in Big Spring, some dude was directing all the bikes to park in the dirt and weeds:

Like a few others in my section, I refused that suggestion and parked properly on the street:

We skipped the free food afterward and had lunch at a restaurant in Big Spring. When I got home, my Rex was still mostly clean and shiny, unlike my rain-soaked ZX-7R when I got home from yesterday's ride:

All in all, a fantastic day. Great job everyone. The organizers, law enforcement, and riders came together once again to make Ride to Remember 2009 a roaring success. See you next year.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Trail of Tears Ride Report (or 'Betting Against Rain and Losing') with pics

I'm very irritated with The Weather Channel. They said there was no chance of rain in West Texas today and that skies would be mostly clear.

They lied.

I almost took the Z-Rex on our Trail of Tears ride today, but as I walked out into the garage, this caught my eye:

As it turned out, I'm glad I made the decision to take the ZX-7R. It offers more protection from the elements with its full set of bodywork and Puig windscreen. Though little did I know I would need it at that point.

At any rate, we assembled in North Midland and headed to Big Spring where we picked up my buddy Curt, who I've been friends with since 1981 when we were just snot-nosed little kids:

From our meeting point in Big Spring, we headed south on Highway 87, shortly thereafter making the turn onto FM821, the first leg of the Trail of Tears.

The road was terrible. It had rained the night before, and we were dodging puddles, dirt clods, and mud spots at every turn. By the time we made the turn onto the Hyman Road, we decided to slow down to a below-average pace and just enjoy the scenery.

Our first stop on the trail was the old church at Hyman Settlement. Today was the first time I'd seen the old church since 2007, and it isn't looking very well. The old girl is starting to collapse. We were all kind of shocked at the sudden advancing of the decay:

The Gothic bell tower is seemingly about to fall:

We noticed that the gate to the cemetery next door was open, so we walked around and checked out the old graves, many of them going back to before WWI.

The view of the road from Hyman Cemetery was kinda pretty. Nettle and Thistle are blooming everywhere:

At Hymen is when we started to get our first inkling that bad weather was beginning to form:

To cut the trip short, we decided to take Highway 163 north to Lake Colorado City and have lunch at the Sportsman's Club, then head back to Big Spring. This actually suited me fine, since my wife and I had been invited to go see a minor-league baseball game with friends, and the abbreviated ride would get me back in plenty of time to see the opening pitch.

Ah, the good old Sportsman's Club. I'm sure glad they're open "year-round":

D'oh! Except for today:

Since we were already there, we decided to take a look around. This is the back yard:

The club -- currently not serving Tim, party of four:

Having airballed lunch at the Sportsman's club, we began the nine-mile eastern ride into Colorado City to search out another eatery. Unfortunately, Mother Nature turned us soundly away. About four miles out, we found ourselves headed right into the first thunderstorm of the day, and opted to make a 180-degree turn for Big Spring.

When we arrived, it seemed we had left the worst behind, and decided to have a little Chinese food at Hunan before going home. Dave killed 'em at the buffet:

After sitting around eating and talking for 45 minutes, Britt and I each received almost-simultaneous phone calls from our wives, warning us that it was pouring down rain in Midland. When we paid the check and walked outside, this is what we saw in the distance:

After doing a good job of circumnavigating bad weather all day, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were probably gonna get wet.

And we did.

Thankfully, we missed the worst of it, as most of the storm cells had moved on to the south by the time we got to Midland. Still, we hit a few showers along the way, and had to ride through the storm's flash-floody aftermath. Here's what my street looked like when I got home:

My poor, soaked ZX-7R, in dire need of a hug:

Luckily, the rain had delayed the start of the baseball game, and I had just enough time to halfway clean up the 7R, take a shower, and get to the ball park. I got there at the top of the second inning:

The storms were all southeast of Midland by that point, but were still dumping massive amounts of rain in the distance:

I hope the rain is done by tomorrow, because we're all participating in the Memorial Day Ride to Remember, and I'd sure hate to miss it. I'll have another ride report on that tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Enough with the lame 'fuel savings' justification, just tell her you want a bike!

I was waiting in line at Starbucks recently when a guy who had been admiring my and my friends' bikes through the window struck up some conversation.

"You guys sure have some nice motorcycles," he remarked.

"Thank you," I replied. "Motorcycling is a little slice of heaven on earth."

"I've just about got my wife convinced to let me have one," he said with a smile.

This remark always makes me cringe a little, and I never know exactly how to respond to it. But not wanting to shoot the wheels off the conversation, I made some innocuous comment about the fun factor and how much he'd love it if he got a bike.

"Yeah, I told her we'd save lots of money on fuel because I have to drive about 60 miles a day. I'm probably gonna get an Ultra Classic when I'm ready to buy."

"Well good luck to you. I hope to see you out sometime."

There ended the conversation, but what I really wanted to say was, "Dude, just tell her you want a Harley and stop using excellent fuel mileage as an excuse. Be honest with her."

Let's do a little rough math. We'll say that commuting via motorcycle cuts his monthly fuel bill in half. For the sake of argument, and to be generous, let's assume that means a savings of $50 per month. Okay, so he then buys a bike that sets him back $25,000 (before financing) to "save money". At $50 per month in fuel savings, it'll take him 500 months to recover the base cost of the bike alone. That's 41 years of riding. The guy was already about 60 years old.

Of course, assuming he sells his car or truck because he doesn't want it anymore, he could probably add a few thousand bucks back onto his bottom line. But honestly, who's gonna do that?

The point is, well, you know what the point is. Buy a motorcycle because it's totally awesome to own one, and is more than worth the cost. Forget all that "fuel savings" nonsense, because in all but a few very well thought out scenarios, you won't be any better off financially.


Motorcyclists: Always there for one another

One of the guys in our riding group, Blane, had a little mechanical trouble that sidelined our riding plans this afternoon, but the cool thing about a bad situation was how quickly and willingly the other riders in the group offered their help.

Around 3 p.m. we were rolling in a group of four bikes, heading to meet a few other riders, when the oil light on Blane's new Versys suddenly began to glow. He immediately clutched the bike, turned the engine off and coasted into a parking lot just off the road. I saw him fall away in my rearview mirrors, and turned back. The rest of the group followed soon thereafter.

We couldn't figure out if it was the sending unit, sensor, or oil pump that was on the fritz, so we elected to not move the bike.

A few minutes later, we made some phone calls, and Carl and Marie soon showed up with their truck and bike trailer. We loaded the Versys (which only has about 200 miles on it) and Carl was nice enough to take the bike to Blane's house.

About 45 minutes later, Blane met us at Starbucks on his other bike, a Bandit 1250, just as Rodger and Britt were showing up. We decided to go to Blane's house, load the Versys into Blane's truck, and take it to Rodger's house for a manual oil pressure check. Our buddy David even showed up to help.

We arrived at Rodger's house after having secured Blane's ailing Kawasaki into the back of his truck:

Rodger talks a little friendly smack about Kawasaki reliability as we prepare to unload the bike:

Brandon fiddles with the seat as Britt open's Rodger's gate in the background:

The problem is somewhere in here:

And yes, to state the obvious, the bike had plenty of oil in it. ;-)

We always have to take a moment and dig on Rodger's vintage stable. Feast your eyes on his awesome 1984 YZ490:

Anyhow, I'm sure Rodger will let us know his findings soon enough. I'm guessing it's a bad sensor.

The coolest thing about all this rigamarole is that it didn't seem like any trouble. Even though we were dealing with a problem, we were still having fun. We were working as a team and discussing the problem and its possible solutions. We were laughing and cutting up and having a great time despite it all. It felt good helping a friend and fellow rider. I guess that's a big part of what being a motorcyclist is all about, and I'm glad I was there to lend a hand.

P.S. Blane, if you read this, Rodger is the one who burned out in your driveway. (-=

Monday, May 04, 2009


Red Bluff Lake and Orla Ruins Ride Report with Pics

In keeping with our goal of making as many Spring 2009 day rides as possible before the heat sets in, Dave, Britt, and I decided last night that we would make a trip out to yet another place I had never been before: Red Bluff Lake on the Texas-New Mexico border.

Red Bluff Reservoir is on the Pecos River, about 40 miles north of Pecos, Texas near Orla. It extends into Loving and Reeves counties in Texas, and Eddy County in New Mexico. According to Wikipedia, the reservoir was formed in 1936 by the construction of a dam by the Red Bluff Water Control District to provide water for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The reservoir is also used for recreational activities.


This was the first day of Badlands Spring Tour '09® that I would classify as hot. When we arrived at Red Bluff Lake (139 miles from my driveway), the first thing we started looking for was shade. The morning had started off perfectly mild, but the early afternoon sun was beating down on the rough terrain surrounding the reservoir.

Britt took the pics today, as I forgot my camera. These are stills from his video camera:

We made sure to stay hydrated on this trip. As I mentioned above, it got hotter than we expected.

Me consuming H2O molecules:

Dave's too good for Nestle water -- he only drinks Dasani:

The lake itself is pretty big, but is shallow. AIUI, the depth only averages about seven feet:

The dam:

These knuckleheads in this boat kept going out for short, fast runs and coming back to shore:

The only problem was, their idea of docking the craft was to run it repeatedly aground on the rocks in the shallows. Oh, what a horrible sound was produced each time they beached. I kept waiting for the thing to sink:

Needless to say, we'd had about enough of Red Bluff Lake by that point, and decided to ride back into Orla, where there were some ruins we had passed on the way to the reservoir and wanted to explore.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you L&J Liquors:

The rest of the toilet was nowhere in sight:

No whisky in the jar-o, just empty shelves and Pripyat-esque dilapidation:

Alright, here's a question for you. Have you ever had one of those moments where you went from totally relaxed and halfway bored to an instant state of full-on, fight-or-flight adrenaline? Well, it had been a quite while for me. That is, until we decided to explore the building next door -- an old nightclub with a few surprises still left inside:

I slowly peeked my head inside, looking down and around for snakes, spiders and loose floorboards:

That's when it happened. Just as I decided that it might be a good idea to check upward as well as around, I heard a very faint grunt of a growl and some movement directly over my head. I instantly ducked as I looked up into the rafters to meet the angry gaze a 40-odd pound female bobcat, perched not two feet from my face!

Um, yeah. You could definitely say an adrenaline rush ensued. Just imagine looking up and seeing a mug like this one staring down at you from a superior vantage point:

Needless to say, I hauled *** out of there at Warp Factor 7, yelling at the top of my lungs like a pretty little girl, "Bobcat! Bobcat!"

Britt and Dave were exploring different entrance points when they heard the commotion and each moved quickly away from the building. We met at the front and waited, but the cat never came out. After a few minutes of silence, Dave -- never one to shy away from the opportunity to get rabies shots -- decided to go back inside and get a look.

"Hey guys, I think she's gone."

"Nope, she's still here! Look out!"

Luckily, Dave was spared and the bobcat sprinted away through the middle doorway out back:

Britt, being the crappy photographer he is, never got a picture of the ******* cat! Way to go, Eddie Adams! Give that man a Pulitzer!

At any rate, thereafter, we all needed a little rest and some time to calm down. We headed back to the bikes with our hearts still pumping:

Whew. Boneheads 1, bobcat 0.

Total mileage for today was 278, not counting running from the angry Felis Rufus. I got home about 6:30 and immediately had a beer.

Or three.

Thanks for reading.