Posted by: nativeiowan | July 26, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… liv’n on SLC Time

Sunday in Salt Lake City, Utah. Home of The Church of the Later Day of Saints…

Saints… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints

We got here yesterday after noon and our first stop was the Local bike shop. My bike has had some gravity issues. I broke my front-left foot-peg way back in California. It has been a bitch without it. I took my right-rear peg and put it in the front and it’s OK but not right, I rode almost 1000 miles. But it not right, AND, I don’t have my rear peg to stretch out on. Which is a bitch.

I tweeked my back and shoulder on the first day. Nothing major but enough to create some arthritic inflation in my right shoulder and my lower lumbar. Riding without the rear peg to adjust my weight linearly has been rough.

The only peg the dealer in SLC had, that would fit my bike, is from a sport-adventure bike. It’s not like mine, but it will do. It cost me way too much but I was not in a position to be fussy. I needed the peg – ANY peg.

So after we got our hotel yesterday, and got our bellies filled, it was early to bed for me. The boys were planning a ride into the foothills. They had discussed good rides with fellas at the bike shop and had a number of recommendations.

They boys were up early. I spelt until 830am. They dropped off their laundry as they prepared for their ride. I wanted to stay back, clean my bike, sort the new peg out, n get my laundry done. I was happy to wash their gear as they went for some vroom time.

So my bike is right. I went to Walmart n bought a few things. Washed the bike at a car wash right next door. Sat under a shady tree n sorted my bike out. She’ll be fine for another couple thousand miles. What a sweet, sweet bike.

I came back and got the laundry done. Soon I will start packing my bag. Look forward to the road in the morn…

Where we going? Looks like the boys and I have set a pattern… ride less distance each day, stopping every second day for two days to recover and look around and launder-up.

So we are heading into the southwest of Utah and should be sleeping in Colorado tomorrow night…

SLC copy

Vroom

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 25, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Long Riding through the US

And doing it naked.

I am riding my Thruxton – WHAT A MACHINE -, and the boys are riding new Bonnevilles.

We left Santa Rosa at 6am, rode through the Napa Valley, and hit Interstate 80. We had decided to simply ride west. No prebookings or real targets. Just ride west. Grab a hotel when we were ready. I write this sitting in a hotel bed in Elko, Nevada.

elko 1 copy

Elko is a cool place. I stayed here a few years ago. The story begins at the end of the day… about 15 miles out of Elko we got nailed but a high country, Nevada storm. Heavy rain, some hail and almost zero vizz-ability. Not terribly fun. And cold. Did I say COLD?

When we came into the hotel and made a huge puddle at the front desk.

So I am in bed warming up. All my gear is very wet and I have put it under the heat-lamp in the shower. The boys are in their room, I am sure, doing the same as I.

We’ll meet later for some food but we are all a bit whacked. The mountains and the high desert and the whole scenery-thing was amazing. I had forgotten how beautiful the Sierra Nevada Mountains are. I need to write more but I am tired and cold so, sore hola, as they say in the islands.

tomorrow… a visit to speed-mecca – The Bonneville Salt Flats – …. yeee.

elko 2 copy

Tomorrow won’t be a huge day, We’ll be tourists a bit. Which is good, again.

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 23, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Dancing on the RAZORZZ EDGE…

A WOW moment in today’s ride

A big, BIG WOW moment…

A fucking huge, BIG WOW moment…

We started the “Boy’s From Rocky 2015” ride this morn, The last few days have been filled with heaps of BS conversations, getting the rental bikes, getting my bike serviced and basically, between beers n burgers, get ready for the road.

La Strata…

early morn…IMG_2497

San Luis… IMG_2499

Solodad… IMG_2500

And again… IMG_2501

And again… IMG_2502

And SanFran… IMG_2503

In Santa Rosa… IMG_2504

So by 6am we are on the Ventura Highway, California 101. It basically all city miles for the first 100 miles. After Santa Barbara it become costal, then agricultural.

First stop was Santa Barbara, second was San Luis Obispo, and third was Solodad. Fourth was Sunnyvail-Snail.

Then we drove through SanFran.

Now the MOMENT I refer to took place about 40 miles out of Solodad. We had travelled some 300miles so far and had the city and then the short drive to Santa Rosa…

Running about 75 – 80 MPH in the left had lane of the northbound lane. We are 3 lanes and traffic is not busy but it is constant. I am riding point, as I do kinda know the road here.

One thought I have as we ride today, as we cover the few hundred miles, is that there is heaps of rubbish on the road. There were pieces of plywood, plastic, cardboard boxes n more along the road at all stages. It was not a tidy highway.

So 40 miles out from Solodad, I am on point; Graham is in my right mirror, Gary further behind in my left. An average sedan is in the lane to our right. I spot of bunch of “something” in that lane; the sedan does a jimmy-step and hits the bundle of something. I see a bundle of wooden stakes about 3foot/ 1 meter long, a number of wooden stakes, the kind you would stake up tomatoes with… A bundle of stakes all packed tightly in a plastic hessian bag.

This bundle of stakes comes shooting out from the sedan to my right, flies maybe a foot/ 300mm off the ground, straight into my path. All in a nanosecond, my front wheel hits the bundle square on the side. I do not have conscience thoughts of the impact but I know I had fuck-all time to prepare and simply held onto the bars and kept the bike stead… IMPACT was a jar but within no time my bike banged down to earth. I recall thinking I have to keep my feet on the pegs, OH SHIT I need to find the pegs, I found the pegs…

Very little memorable thoughts. But heaps of memorable emotion,

I racked my shoulders on impact and my back and neck on landing. I landed hard enough to jar my mirrors miles out of shape. I need to loosen the fasteners and straighten them. I need to have a panadol before I sleep. I feel good and rode the rest of the day after but my neck is sore. I’ll baby it a bit and all will be good.

But… The MOMENT… came so fucking fast it was over and I was alive, on my bike and as far as I could tell my buddies were OK too.

As soon as I landed and got back in the seat, I checked my mirrors and found them useless, I tweaked the left hand side and saw both Graham and Gary behind me. My back n neck are sore but I shifted a bit and knew I was OK. My bike had lost speed so I noted I was at about 65mph. I assessed the bike… tires/ tyres felt ok, I looked and saw to dangling spokes, the pressure felt good as I did a little weightshift to see how she rode. All was OK. I didn’t smell oil, no lights were coming on… DAMN! What afuckign rush…. WHAT A FUCKING RUSH…. Damn, DAMN…

So I was OK. I could see the guys were OK. SO I rode on without stopping. When we hit Solodad we discussed it. Graham reckoned I was a foot/ 300mm off the ground, both wheels at the same time. Gary saw my fly up n land but was a ways back and it happened so fast. I think we are all a bit surprised… it’s a WOW moment. I make me feel real, real, real lucky.

So, a WOW moment…

More to come but lets use our positive energy and ward-off any further brushes with gravity… as we dance on the razorzz edge…

VROOOM

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 18, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Rid’n Naked 2015 v1.2

Saturday morn in Pasadena. My apartment is clean and ready for the Boys from Rockhampton. They arrive tomorrow morn. I rose early-ish to get a few things done in the Apt, go wash my bike – it is filthy from the ride north- and get some supplies.

And it is raining.

Isn’t there a song about it never raining in Southern California? Glen Campbell, I think…

So I’m watching the weather. I’ll go out once the rain abates. And in the mean time I shall discourse, eloquently, on the art of riding naked…

2015 HAS STARTED WITH A BANG…. My ride to Missoula/ Polson, Montana was great. Amazing. Spectacular. I no longer take picts while running. This pict can perhaps beckon one to go have a look for themselves… IMG_2450

Perhaps I should take more pictures… I tried the GoPro but found it a bit of a nuisance. You gotta really be into editing footage if you intend to make a GoPro meaningful. I use to always take picts. Or I tried to. Less so any more.

I have learned to snap a shot as I stop to refuel while on the road. Mainly a snap helps me remember where I stopped. It sounds strange, even forgetful, to be unable to recall where you stopped for 15 minutes while driving 600 miles and stopping no less than 7 times, in a day.

missoula copy

So Saturday the 11th I hit the road at 7am. Stopping every 100 miles or so I traveled down 210 to 15. My first stop was for fuel only, somewhere north of Victorville. Interesting point about that stop was a guy who had been on the highway and noticed me, came up and had a long chat about the bike. He was a savvy bike guy and asked about the engine and how she rode. I love the fact that the bike gets so many comments.

I think I get comments because I don’t look like anything most folks have seen. (in more ways than one) And when I tell them where I am riding, they think I am mad. I have discussed it numerous times, but I ride light, low and fast.

This is my bike dressed for a long ride: IMG_2471

I posted before about the gear I wear… The bright yellow jacket, my riding pants, boots, gauntlets, and helmet. I am waterproof and well protected.

A minimalist approach to the highway… In my bag I have 3 changes of compression gear, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a pair of swimming trunks, 2 pairs spare socks, my toilet kit, and that’s about it. I do not pack a lot of clothes because i wont need them. I ride, I eat, I drink, I sleep, play it again… and again, and again…

So north of Victorville, Barstow, again south of Vegas, again further north of Vegas. St George, Beaver then stop for the night at Nephi. All on Hwy 15.

I prefer to not fill my belly up when I ride. All the vibration and required exertion can be harsh by an upset stomach. I have ridden feeling unwell and it sucks. A nervous stomach is very bad, trying to get my leather pants off, in a hurry… a drastic hurry, is never easy. I eat simple food, normally a fried egg breakfast at a road side stop or an IHOP or similar. I do not drink much coffee. Water is best. I tend to stop between 10 and 12 depending on how good the ride is going. I use to try different foods but when traveling that may not be wise. As well, its hard to screw fried eggs up.

I like to munch almonds. They keep my stomach happy. But I eat little. Have a V8 or a bottle of water, each stop, to stay hydrated. Try to look for a good salad and a beer at the end of the day. The beer is east to find. The salad not always so easy.

Did I mention that having “gas” while riding is bad. Gas can distract me inordinately, and farts can be dangerous at 100mph… so very simple food is best.

Highway 15 can appear rather dismal. And it is in the lands between LA and Vegas. And even north of Vegas, it is dreary at best. Loads of traffic, way too hot this time of year, but it is a very good corridor out of the populated areas of the Vegas/ LA region.

I have found that the speed limit is not technically enforced. If the speed limit is 70mph, traffic can often be traveling at 80 or 85mph. I travel the speed of traffic, plus a bit. I hate getting “bottled up” in traffic. And we know that death on 2 wheels oft-times comes from behind. So I ride with the intent of having space around me. I am prone to using my speed to get out of traffic quickly… but that’s a philosophical point I shall address later…

After the I70 junction, 15 becomes very quiet. The north leg beyond I70 has so little traffic I was often riding all by myself. And riding at 100mph for long stretches of road. I love those long sloping, well cambered curves that say stupid shit like “65”… you turn into the curve and hold it for what appears like ages. For most of the stretch from I70 to Nephi I got to be a high-speed racer… the highway to myself, I could use both lanes like you do on a race course. Shift in tight for the approach, hang hard into the left-hand turn at 90mph, come out n slingshot out of the inside lane and into the outer, gaining speed then power into a right-hander… some of the highway had multiple curves, downhill or up… so I got to race from one curve to the other unimpeded. It was great.

From Nephi to Salt lake City (SLC) to well beyond Ogden is all urban riding. Pick a lane, I prefer car-pool lanes, and just ride through. Don’t try to be quick, ride the speed of the traffic and, in the car-pool lane. Pull out if someone gets anxious, and wants past, let them past. Then come back and set your speed. Trying to move fast or being in a hurry in traffic is no good.

But once past SLC and into the open road you get the same as before. But longer. Pretty much all the way to I90 it’s open and free, Lots of altitude changes and long gforce curves,

Most of I90 is easy to ride, good traffic and good drivers.

Of course, Montana is simply heaven on earth for 2 wheels. The air is clear, clean n crisp. I had to pull over and zip my air vents on my jacket up. It may just be me, but Montana is sooo great, sooo good, n soo magical.

I think much of the allure is the fact that Montana is froze shut for 8 or more months each year. It’s window of opportunity is minimal, weather is sketchy n prone to violent change. It can be hot, rainy, dern cold, windy as a cyclone, humid as the tropics… all in the course of an afternoon.

Morning in the mountains are generally cold. I learned this last year when riding through Flagstaff on my way to Albuquerque. Up at 4, on the road by 5, and dying in the saddle. I had to stop within my first half hour to warm up. And until about 8am my time on the road was painful. So, if in the mountains, plan to sleep in. Get a later start and enjoy the ride more. Sure, in the desert or the plains, wake real early and get a couple of hours of road-time in before the temps bust 100degrees. But in the mountains, sleep in.

Some thoughts n tips about riding…

Wind is your enemy… if you know you are going to be facing stiff or gusting winds, prepare mentally and physically. Winds take the fun outta riding quick-time. The constant batter of the winds take a lot of energy to manage and control. One point riding back south from Montana, a big gust nailed me and I felt a muscle in my neck pop. It hurt, still does, but it could have been a stopper if it was worse.

I hear the peanut-gallery… get a ferring, hide behind a windshield like all the other lard-assed ol-fart pussies out there… sure, good idea… if you’re  a lard-assed pussy.

I like riding naked. For me that’s what is all about. When I retired I bought a full dress BMW R1200RT. A really nice bike… DSCF8909 copy But I never rode it much. I found it too heavy, not “fast” enough, made me look like an ol fart on a “Granny-Glide”… It simply did not suit my style. And I did not know what suited my style until I found the Thruxton in 2013. That’s when I knew what and how I prefered to ride.

And everyone is entitled to their preferences. So… I am mad, a bit touched, maybe deranged… and I like to ride long, low n fast.And Naked!

I like to know my head is in the slip stream, if you move to fast or look sideways without thought, the wind will twist your neck. Sound fun? I am part of the whole process of the ride. My body is part of the machine. I use my head to steer. A move to the right of the head and the bike’s balance responds. It is very close to flying.

Maybe it is flying? I’ll write more about this…

When I am in cities I see a lot of “Urban Warriors”… they ride very fast through very thick traffic. They ride  the centre lines and use the shoulder a lot. I had the shit scared outta me by a Ducati passing me on the left as I was in a car-pool lane through Vegas… the guy passed me with  a change of gears and a roar of that distinctive Ducati V engine. He was riding very, very fast (I was going 7o mph) and he continued through traffic, left to right, right to left… he must a been in a hurry.

Urban Warriors are a breed apart from myself. They ride daily through traffic and have a different skill-set to what I have. There is something to be said with doing thousands of miles a year in urban conditions. You learn to ride between vehicles that are traveling fast and close. You learn to cut in and out of traffic. Of course the reason one rides a bike in city conditions is for efficiency… it is normally cheaper than a car, faster than a car, easier to park and much easier to maintain. And no fun to sit on when traffic stalls. So you drive round and through it all.

But as a Long Rider I can ride through cities but do it with a sense of dread. I see so many close calls in traffic. I see so many opportunities for death. One of my main skills is being able to see all around me. I am constantly in my mirrors, twisting my head to look side to side, making eye contact with people. If I can see them they normally pose no threat to me.

Death from behind… It’s like the deep-blue… it’s the shark you don’t see, the one that comes from behind, that will get you.

I see it all the time: Bad drivers who can only look at the licence plate in front of them, who tail-gate to the point where no room for error exists. I wrote about a mishap on I10 heading to Phoenix, last year, where I got whacked at 70mph by an old dude in a white mercedes. He was coming up from behind me, should have seen me, but the first I saw him was a white phlash in my mirror, the next thing I know my left hand mirror has been whacked outta view and I was riding my bar-end down the side of his car. It was as close as you can get. I heard the ol fart’s wife scream. And he just steered hard into my lane. I rode down the side of his car, let him to get in front of me. had a quick look all round, and gunned it and got the hell outta Dodge.

I have had numerous front-end close calls. Where I am moving and all of a sudden the vehicle in front of me has locked his brakes up. I have nailed the front brake hard on several occasions and know how to manage a skid (no ABS on my Thruxton). I prefer to power out and turn past, if possible. I did this just the other day, in traffic, lights go on in front, I am in the far left lane so I have room to simply steer past. Quick and easy..

My main gig is long distance. I like the endurance, the change of scenery, the isolation. I aim for as many miles under my wheels as possible. I set very hard goals. I like rides that are on the edge of my physical and time alloted ability. I want to ride all day, for several days, without much interruption. I want to see the scenery change and go from sea level to 7000ft, from desert to snow, from civilization and big roads to wide open nothingness.

The Urban Warriors can’t do what I do. Their skill set is not developed like mine. Their bikes are wrong. I, admit, I can’t do what they do. It scares the shit outta me!

I have learned a few tricks about riding naked, long, and fast…

Compression gear… A few years back i found compression gear. I found that as an old fart, a lot of my body juggles n shakes as I move. All this jiggling and shaking, on a long, long bike ride, causes fatigue. So I seal it all up in a tight package. getting into and out of my compression gear is not a pretty sight. At the end of the day it can be a struggle. But since I started wearing the gear I do notice a huge difference. I no longer wake up tired. Sure, I get sore and tired when riding but no longer do I carry from day to day the same fatigue.

Advice on compression gear is to buy gear that does not hurt or pinch. I have tried different types and have settled on one that fits me without leaving marks. It holds well, compresses tightly and is a bitch to get on n off.

Helmets… Maybe I am still searching for the right helmet. I was recently wearing a Shoei open face with attached visor. I can see well in it and it is lighter than my full-face models. But it shifts in the wind. The airstream gets into the helmet and pulls it back. I am constantly distracted by it needing adjustment while riding. I think this is a great urban helmet in that is offers huge viz. But as a highway helmet it is not a wiener. I’ll try my old BMW full-face lift up. It has always been my favourite so we’ll see if I remember correctly.

Being Seen… I really dig my yellow jacket… IMG_2443

I notice a huge difference since buying this a year ago. I have less close calls, and I can see people seeing me. I have traditionally noted that semi-drivers don’t see bikes. When I pass a semi I try to get away and into the driver’s mirror-view. I have in the past noted that drivers decide to pull into my lane without looking. So many times I have almost been run off the road, but my speed keeps me from trouble… simply speed up and get the hell outta Dodge.

This past trip I did not have a single semi try to kill me.

So, Ride 1 of 2015 done.

Do look forward to the next couple weeks.

Vroom

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 16, 2015

Review: 2014 Triumph Thruxton: Cafe Racers rejoice

Originally posted on The Native Iowan:

Day 5 in the saddle behind me. Let’s see… It’s my best “distance-day” yet. As a ol style Cafe Racer I do indeed rejoice…

day 5 copy

546 miles from 630am to 330pm. 9 hours of effort, I’d say a total of 7 hours riding giving 2 hours to refuelling, breakfast at Emma Jean’s in Walnut, drink n pee stops. A bit under 80 mph average. A good, good ride.

I am thinking that I can simply do another “big” day tomorrow n see where it puts me…

day 5.5 copy

The Thruxton is so easy to ride. It is so comfortable and light that once you learn how to ride this bike, you will ride more, ride better and get that long distance-rider bug. Most people believe these mid-weight bikes are too light for cruising. And I may agree if “cruising” means riding with more than 10/12kgs or 20/ 25 lbs… I’d say the Thruxton is not…

View original 482 more words

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 15, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Utah in the eve

 Left Flathead Lake about 7am. Rode through quite cold temps into n through Missoula. Montana is magnificent country… Which led to Idaho and I which lead me to Utah…
I was going to sleep but if I snooze now I’ll wake at 4 n it’ll be too cold to ride until 6 so I wander across the street to a cantina where Joanne waits my table with a cheeky smile.

1832 mile trip as of my last stop. Did another 120 miles before I tapped out  for the day…  
  

My Thruxton is a champ. Loves running the ton for long distances. 

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 13, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Monday morn Montana Time

Stopped off for coffee in Polson, MT.  

 Woke not too early n geared up n went rid’n round the lake. Weather looking a bit wet so may head back soon. But this is purty, purty country. A full package of sensory happiness…

Vrooom 

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 13, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Livn on Montana Time

1301 miles over 2 days if riding… And I am here….  

Sitting in a Uncle Ted’s house on Flathead Lake. 

  
930 pm over the Lake.   

All very clear comfortable….

  
It is pretty country  
  

My bike and gear performed wonderfully…
  

Many stops on the road

  
Ride one hundred miles n stop refill n per n drink n ride another hundred miles  
 

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 12, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… 2015 v1.1

First day of long riding under my wheels. On the road at 7am. Ran 100 miles n stopped for fuel at Barstow. Ran 100 miles n stopped before Vegas then again north of Sin City. I stop, refill, take my gear off, pump the bilges n drink a bottle of water, gearup n ride another 100.

I am in Nephi, Utah. 

The day went better than I could have hoped. Traffic was comfortably fast. I was cranking an easy 15 over, 85mph n this big 4×4 highway patrol smoked past me. I’d seen them a ways back in traffic. I tend to ride out of traffic quickly. I’ll use my speed to get the hell outta dodge. If I was averaging 80 he was well over 90.

My neck is tired. I’m wearing a new, lighter helmet and it makes a difference. All my gear is working well. My Thruxton is a dream machine. What a bike. 

I hear questions out there… Why ride light, low n long? What not ride heavy n comfortable? And all I can say is, I ride very comfortably. The wind was howling all day but my low profile and slim line means less work for me.  Less weight to balance.

600 miles on 2 wheels is no mean feat n doing it light n fast is my preference. But I am beat.

Doubt if I’ll make it until sundown. I think I’ll be up bright n early. See if I can be in Missoula tomorrow eve.

Vrooom 

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 10, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Rid’n Naked 2015 v1.

It’s that time of the year… time to hit the wide open highways of the USA.

Going to be a lot of miles this year. I am just packing up for my first ride.

IMG_2439

My armour is all cleaned n polished. Helmet, jacket, pants, gloves, boots – all up 20 lbs. My tank bag has the essentials and weighs another 15 lbs. I ride light and fast. Each year of long-riding I do I get lighter. On the road, all up, I am managing 350kgs/ 750lbs. I am waterproof, comfortable, well padded – just in case, and am looking for a fair bit of road-time in the next few days…

My ride:

missoula copy

Vrooom…

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