Fresno Motorcycle Safety Seminar

Motorcycle collisions are up nationwide and the Fresno area is no exception. The nationally recognized Fresno Police Department's Traffic Bureau will be providing free two hour lectures on proven motorcycle tactics so you can, "Arrive Alive" at your destination.

Information will be tailored specifically to enhance the unique concerns of the cruiser style rider, sport bike enthusiast and scooter transportation rider. This class will enhance motorcycle safety awareness for all levels of riders.

Dynamics of vehicle collisions will be provided by detectives from the Collisions Reconstruction Unit who investigate and reconstruct all fatal collisions and safety tactics taught to law enforcement motor officers by instructors from the Traffic Bureau's Training Unit.

Classes will be held at the Traffic Bureau's office at 1343 E. Bulldog in the "Stone Soup" Office complex starting on Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 10:00 am and will continue as often as is needed.

For additional information contact Sergeant Eric Eide at (559) 621-5052


Short Days and Hazard Lights

The days are getting shorter and I find myself riding in the dark more and more. My place of employment is about 28 miles away, if I take a direct route, and I usually try to be there between 7:00am & 7:30am. The ride takes about 40 minutes, which means I am leaving the house in the dark and get to the office around sun-up. This is a perfect part of the day to ride as I love watching the sun come up, but really, what part of the day is bad for riding?

For the most part, I like the controls on the ST, particularly those on the handlebars. After you figure out where they are, they become very intuitive. My wife's Honda Odyssey is very similar, once you figure out the multitude of buttons, (there's a lot, and they're everywhere; like flying the Space Shuttle), everything is in the right place. (I do, however, take exception to two of the 'environmental control' switches for the rear of the Odyssey. After 70,000 miles, they're still counter-intuitive to me.) Thankfully, the ST only has a few buttons and switches on the handlebars, all which are standard on every bike I've ever owned or ridden.

But... there are three non-standard buttons and a non-standard dial on the ST dashboard. Their uses are very straight forward though. The dial adjusts the headlight pitch. The headlights can be adjusted - raised or lowered - on the fly. There are eight increments on the dial that allow the rider to find that happy place. If you carry a passenger, or adjust you rear shock with too much preload, and your headlight is pointing in the trees or only shining 20 feet in front ahead, a quick turn of the knob and it's all good.

The three nearly flush-mounted buttons are placed to the right of the headlight knob, and control some of the information shown on the ST's dash board computer read-out info screen. The lower right button toggles between the two trip meters. The lower left button toggles between instantaneous fuel mileage (updated at ten second intervals), average fuel mileage, or just turns the mileage data off with one less piece of info cluttering the info screen. The top button is simply a brightness adjustment, with three increments, for the info screen. This top button I've been using a lot lately as I've been riding more in the darker hours. During the daytime, I like to set the info screen at its brightest. It's not absolutely necessary, but it helps when the sun glares on the dash. When the sun goes down, I turn the brightness on the info screen down, where its brightness about equals the backlights in the analog tachometer & speedometer.

Of those four controls, two of them, the headlight dial and the info screen brightness adjustment, are intended to make functional adjustments between daytime and night-time riding. As such, they are frequently used in low-light, to no light conditions. I think Honda could have made them a bit easier to use in these conditions if the buttons lit up, or at least had a light halo around them. As they are, they're black buttons on a black dash. At night, it's just a whole lot of black nothing. When I do want to adjust them, unless I pass under a street light at the right moment, I have to grope my way around until I find them. The knob for the headlights isn't much of a problem, but finding the right buttons with my winter gloves still involves some trial and error. I try to dim the lights only to find I'm toggling between my trip meters.

There is one other nit I can pick about button location, but I'm not sure if I can attribute the problem directly to Honda. I have a set of bar risers on the ST that lift the bars 3/4" up and 1" back. They do make the riding position much more comfortable than I believe the stock position would be, (The risers were on the ST when I got it) but they place me farther from the dash, making the buttons harder to reach. Now, I'm a tall guy - 6' tall - with a longer than most wingspan. I can reach about 6'4", but I've still got to lean pretty far forward to reach the buttons.

Now, there's another button on the ST that is standard on many newer motorcycles, particularly tourers and sport-tourers; the Hazard switch. The ST has one located on the top of the left hand control cluster. For comparison, my BMW GS has a hazard switch located on the right of the dash, opposite the switch for the heated grips. Honda put it closer to the rider, but it's still necessary to let go of the bar to activate it. The problem I'm finding with it's location, and this (minor) problem may be attributed to the bar risers, is that when I lean forward to grope in the dark to find the the headlight dial or the info screen brightness adjustment, my forearm hits the hazard switch and activates the hazard lights.

These aren't huge problems. They are relatively minor in the grand scheme on the bike. (I have lived with bigger problems on lesser bikes.) Once the switches are set in the proper positions, you forget them. During daylight hours, these problems don't exist, and using the buttons is simple and intuitive. But, their existing design and configuration seem to make more work than it should be at night. Work that I'll have to get used to as the days keep getting shorter.

At least the ST doesn't have that same upside-down 'environmental' switch as my wife's Odyssey.


Bicycle Community

A blogger in Holland has posted about how the bicycle is a staple in Dutch daily life. Cars are prominent, as are motorcycles, but bicycles are much more than they are here in the U.S. Bicycles (and motorcycles) are a commonly used, and accepted form of transportation. When I was in Amsterdam in 1985 (has it really been that long?) bicycles were everywhere, and there were places for them everywhere. The system of bike paths was as developed and intricate as the general roadway system used by automobiles, and finding a place to park your bike was often easier than finding a place to park a car. In many places, it was faster to go to your destination by bicycle than by car because cars were not accommodated as well, either in the route you'd have to take, or where you'd have to park when you got there.

The US has become such a car culture that we often overlook the bicycle as a viable source of transportation. The fact that many of our cities are so spread out, and that bicycles are only looked at as an after thought in many areas, doesn't help. Recent gas prices have been showing many people the usefulness of the bicycle for commuting and general errands. This is something they've known in Holland, and most of Europe, for years. It's amazing. Imagine what that would be like here...

Read their full post HERE.


'Cool' has limitations

I've lost track of how many times I've been asked by someone, 'Which bicycle is best for me?' I usually reply with a couple of questions, the first of which is always, 'What kind of riding do you intend to do?' Most people don't know what kind of riding they'll be doing, but they've usually already got an idea of what kind of bike they want. Often times what they want, and what they want it for are not compatible. Rather than bike built for their intended purposes, they want a 'cool' bike. 'Cool' usually has limitations.

One thing that has always interested me is long distance, self-contained cycling. Touring. I AM interested in long distance competitions, such as the RAAM, but I know better than to aspire to that. Touring I can do. Consequently my favorite bicycle (for 18 years now!) has been my long distance rig: my Cannondale Tourer. Racks, bags, fenders. The works. It's not particularly cool, but it does everything I want it to do. My Honda ST1300 is becoming a similar bike.

This past Tuesday night I rode the ST down to Bakersfield for a seminar. From Fresno it's about 110 miles of long, straight, flat, dairy-strewn Highway 99. I've had the ST on a few multi-hundred-mile days in the three an a half months and nearly 7000 miles I've had it, but a good portion of those long days were mountainous and twisty. Fun stuff. This was the first opportunity I had to really see how I liked it (or it liked me) when the miles just droned on.

The short of it: Wheeeee! :)!

The long...

I filled the tank the night before anticipating the long ride. I took my usual 27 mile route to work and then left the office about a half-hour before rush hour. After I got out of town, and onto the ribbon of concrete known as State Route 99, I was able to settle into a grove. The stock ST does not have cruise control, or even a throttle lock for that matter. I know there are many riders who swear by their Audiovox CCS but I've found that in my part of the world, where it's long & flat for miles & miles, a throttle lock works fine. I like the throttle lock on my GS and use it frequently on long highway trips. The throttle springs on the GS are heavy and demand that you give your right hand a break after a while. You could either lock the throttle, or get off the bike every hour or so and practice the carpal tunnel exercise instructions usually included in new computer keyboards. I expected a similar situation on the ST but it was not to happen. When I first test rode the ST, I noticed how much lighter the throttle was. There's not a lot of pull coming off the fuel injector throttle bodies on the ST as there is on the GS's dual carburetor set-up. What that turned into on this long ride was a wrist that didn't get nearly as tired, nearly as fast. My hand and wrist still got tired, but it was from being held in one position, not from fighting with a heavy throttle.

However, the lightness of the throttle does have at least one drawback: it doesn't take much of a bump in the road to jiggle the throttle, even a slight bit, in a way that makes the bike lurch or hesitate. On uneven pavement, it can become quite difficult to hold the throttle steady. The ST is somewhat known for having a 'snatchy' throttle, but I wonder if the lesser resistance in the throttle may have something to do with it.

One thing I've found about the ST is how much aerodynamics play a role it the bike's being. On a bicycle, 75%-85% of a riders energy is used just to move through the air and to move the air around the rider. That percentage is dependent on speed; the higher the speed, the higher percentage of energy needed, used, or wasted (depending on your point of view). Motorcycles are no different. Especially with the ST and it's large frontal surface area. The dynamics of the windscreen positioning I'd figured out fairly early on. The higher it is, the lower the mileage is. Not a lot lower, but noticeable. I like the windscreen about 1/3 of the way up, most of the time. (When it's hot, I can't get it down far enough.) At 1/3 of the way up, it deflects most of the air and bugs over my helmet, but I can still easily see over it. In that position. I can open my visor most of the way and not have a face-full of wind. It also doesn't seem to affect the mileage too much.

The slipstream created by the very forward rear-view mirrors is hardly noticeable until you let go of the bars and pull your hand out of it. The handlebars are wider than the windscreen, but your hands and arms feel virtually no wind at all because of the mirrors. Put your hand on the tank or your lap and your upper arm gets a big helping of wind blast. There's also nearly no wind at all down near your legs. The space between the lower faring and the saddle bags seems to be void of any breeze. I'm sure that lack of circulation doesn't help remove any of the oft complained about engine heat away from the rider's legs.

One thing I noticed, completely by accident, was that dropping your feet off the pegs, drops the fuel mileage. On one particularly long straight stretch, I dropped my feet off and pointed my toes toward the ground, just to stretch a bit. At the 75MPH I was traveling, there was enough wind to keep my feet from touching the ground. (At 65MPH, my toes would touch down.) As I did this, I saw the fuel consumption-o-meter scrub off 3-4 miles per gallon! I thought it may have been a fluke, but I tried it four or five more times at different times through the ride, with the same results.

Also on the subject of ST aerodynamics: it doesn't take much of a headwind to increase fuel consumption. Likewise, a good tailwind decreases the consumption crazy good. Drafting near a semi-truck produces similar results, but taking an already inherently dangerous activity and making it that much more dangerous by riding in, or near, the blind spot of a semi to save a few pennies is just plain stupid. So, don't be stupid; leave the drafting in NASCAR.

At the end of the day, I'd gone 277 miles. From home, to work, to Bakersfield, than back home. I did it on one tank of fuel and still had plenty to get to work again the next day, getting 306.3 miles out of the tank before I filled it. It took 6.699 gallons for an average of 45.72 miles per gallon. I think it could have been better, but when you consider that I did most of the trip around 75 miles per hour, that number gets more impressive. (Even more so when you consider that it was California gas.)

The more I ride the ST, the more I WANT to ride it. It's not as exotic (or yuppie) as the BMW R1200RT I was looking at (and really wanted), or as flashy as a Yamaha FJR or new Kawasaki Concours (and, man, those are suh-weeet looking bikes). The ST is certainly not as 'cool' as the others, but it's is doing everything I want a bike to do for me.

And that's what's important.


Bicycle or Drive?

A few years ago - 1988 to be exact - I needed to renew my drivers license. I rode my bicycle to get it done. I rode my bike everywhere; drove if I had to. I didn't know I'd be getting a new picture for my license. I'd bet there aren't many other people who are wearing a cycling jersey in their drivers license photo.

I was pretty proud of that. I still am.



Too much front brake can result in poor form.


Grizzly Century, North Fork, Ca

I have sort of a running joke with my wife in that she'll let me go in a 12 hour bicycle ride on a Saturday, but my motorcycle ride time on Saturdays is limited to about 20 minutes. Of course it's not really true, but I think she'd rather have me on the bicycle. When I'm on a bicycle, I'm getting exercise and helping the environment. A motorcycle just burns fuel and tires. The latter is justifiable for commuting, not so much for weekend free time.

I've learned that if I use the motorcycle for a bicycle purpose, I can get out the door rather easily. Saturday the 4th was one of those days. The North Fork Chamber of Commerce had its 16th annual Grizzly Century bicycle ride. One hundred miles of some of the most beautiful Sierra Nevada scenery there is. It is an unbelievable bicycle ride that I've done a couple of times. I really think that the ride is one of the best in the State, due to the route, scenery and support. I was able to help them out with rider support (aka SAG) as I have in past years. Carry some water, spare tubes, a first-aid kit and strap a floor pump to the bike, then ride the course and help any riders who may need it.

Most of the SAG drivers drive a truck or car. I ride my motorcycle. In professional cycling events, particularly road racing like the Tour de France, motorcycles are everywhere. In recreational events, they're a rarity. A motorcycle has some serious advantages over a larger vehicle on this type of event. A motorcycle can cover more ground quicker, it can pull off the road in less space, and it needs less space to pass the cyclists, and it can get closer to the cyclists safer (if you need to talk to them) than a car. One big advantage a car has is the ability to carry a rider down the mountain if there is a mechanical failure or injury. For the most part though, most SAG drivers only help with flats, hand out water, and head back down at the end of the day without carrying a cyclist. Theoretically, this is the goal of EVERY organized bicycle ride; to get every cyclist home on their own power.

I was looking forward to the Griz (as it's affectionately called by the locals) as it would be my first time SAGging on the ST. I was curious to see how it would handle the sometimes slow, close-quartered maneuvering that can happen in this type of event. I was not looking forward to the weather, however. Early last week, there were reports of an incoming storm to the Pacific Northwest and most of the west coast. It was to bring the first rains of the season to our area. The forecast had it hitting our area on Saturday. As the week went on, I kept watching, hoping really, that the rain would stay away for one more day, until Sunday. No such luck. As I was preparing the ST for the ride on Friday night, light rains began to fall on the Valley floor. I knew that in the mountains where the ride was to be, the rain would be falling much heavier.

Sure enough, Saturday morning as I opened the garage door, I was greeted with wet streets. Generally, rain doesn't bother me - either a bicycle or motorcycle (that's what proper gear is for) - but the first rain makes me anxious. First rains make the roads slick and drivers stupid. When there's a lot of rain, or if it rains frequently, the roads are washed. We haven't had rain since April so there's lots of slippery goo on the roads, and there certainly wasn't enough rain to wash it away, only to make a mess. So I geared up, and cautiously rode the 65 miles to North Fork and the Start/Finish for the Griz.

The ride from home to the event start in North Fork was uneventful. Light rain, most of the way. I was impressed at how much protection the faring and windscreen provided. Even the mirror shrouds kept much (not all) of the water off of my gloves. Pretty amazing considering how far in front of and below my hands the mirrors are. I found that if I raised the windscreen to where I was just looking over it, I could open my visor enough to just look under it, and not get wet.

I don't mind riding in the rain. I think it makes me a better rider. Nothing makes makes me more aware of how smooth I am with the throttle and brakes as a fresh rain. I guess it's probably more appropriate to say that I become aware of my lack of smoothness. I do think I am an able rider - I have plenty of miles under my belt - but I'm not going to make myself believe that miles makes a motorcyclist a good rider. There is always something to be learned and skills to work on and polish. Two of the things that show me where I need to work are slow speed maneuvers and rain. Saturday had plenty of both.

One of the main, off-highway roads to North Fork was under construction a few weeks ago when I was up here with a buddy. There were two or three miles of rutted and pot-holed, hard-packed dirt where there used to be asphalt. My buddy's VStrom loved the road. My ST would have liked to have been somewhere else. I was hoping that the road had been fixed by now as it was the shortest way to North Fork, but no luck there. I took one look at the very muddy road and I think the ST actually whined. And not in the good way that it's supposed to. So I turned around back to the highway to take the long way to the event start through Oakhurst.

I got to North Fork in the rain, checked in with the volunteers at the North Fork School (the event start), and after getting my supplies and loading my bike, I was back out on the road. Still in the rain.

The rain lasted most of the day. It was raining when I left home around 7:30am, and it was raining, drizzling, misty, or foggy (less than 100 feet at times) until about 4:00pm. Since I got the ST1300 in July, there has been no rain. Heat, yes. We've had lots of that. It was 95° barely a week ago. The ST is a warm running bike, no doubt, and a hot day just makes it worse, but I've haven't had a chance to run it in cooler or wetter weather. Today I was got both cooler and wetter and the ST was great in all of it.

The storm had prompted a route change. The planned route travels north from North Fork, up the Sierra Scenic Byway. A road known as the Grizzly cutoff connects to Beasore Road which takes the riders down to Bass Lake and then back to North Fork. The Grizzly cutoff from the Scenic Byway to Beasore Road was at an elevation that within the forecasted area for possible snowfall. Not a place to be on a bicycle. The change had riders leave North Fork to the south and travel between Kerkoff & Reddinger Lakes before turning north to connect to the Scenic Byway. The riders continued up to just past halfway where there was a rest stop waiting for them. From there, they were turned back around to North Fork again.

There were 600 riders registered for the ride. Just less than half checked in either the night before or the morning of the ride, presumably because of the weather. Many of the riders completed the lower portion of the ride, and then turned back toward North Fork when they connected back up with the Scenic Byway without making the climb up to the turn around. This cut about 50 miles off of their ride. There were many that did go up to the top. There were a few that missed some turns and a few that missed the turn around and continued their ascension toward the cutoff. There are riders who have done this ride before, who know the route, and who don't look at the map they've been handed.

After hearing that there may have been some rider that continued on toward the Grizzly Cutoff, I went higher up the mountain to look for them and turn them around. Twelve miles farther up the road and I got to the Cutoff. A few miles past that and I got to tha regularly planned Lunch stop. The thermometer on the ST dash said 47° and I didn't see any riders. I headed back down.

By the end of the day, the sun came out, all of the riders had been accounted for, and we all had a great meal waiting for us at the end. There were no major crashes, mishaps, or other injuries, and considering the potential for all of those due to the weather, it was a great day.

I'm ready for next year.


MPG and Gas Station Attendants

Regardless of how the computer on the ST calculates the mileage, or whether or not it gets worse mileage on a full tank, overall, the STs mileage impresses me. I pulled into the gas station this morning with 309.5 miles on the clock since my last fill-up. I went through the usual routine of handing the attendant $40 and said, "It'll only take about $30." I like watching the look on the attendant's face; she always looks out at the bike and looks back at me. Her eyes always say, "Yeah, right" as she hands me back $10.

Just trust me....

It took 7.23 gallons. At $3.859 a gallon, it came to $27.90. The look on the attendant's face always changes to one of awe (as she's getting me my $1.10 change).

"Does that bike really hold that much?"

I always reply "Yeah. It does.", but I'm thinking 1) If the bike didn't hold that much fuel, where would I put it? and 2) I've answered this question for you like a dozen times. Why are you always suprised?

I get the "Does that bike really hold that much?" question from other gas stations too. It's usually followed by, "What kind of mileage does it get?" With the price of fuel now, the non-motorcycling public is keenly aware that motorcycling community has something on them. On average, the ST gets about 42 miles per gallon. With this last tank, it got 42.81 mpg.


Two out of three...

I saw this on Killboy's (aka Darryl Cannon) website and thought it was a cool shot. I wonder how often the other wheels come up like that?


Curious Mileage

For the past few months (and 5000 miles) my ST has been averaging a solid 42 miles per gallon. Some tanks net a bit more between fill-ups, some a bit less, but their combined average is right at 42mpg. Three of those tanks have netted less than 36 mpg. One less than 33 mpg.

I usually let the tank run about 3/4 of the way down to near empty (and into the flashing bar) between fill-ups, with somewhere between 250-300 miles per tank. When I do put gas in it, I always fill it up. There have only been a few times - three to be exact - where I filled a mostly full tank, with about 100 miles or less on the bike since my last fill up.

I should add that I do the math the old fashoned way, with a pencil & paper. The fuel consumption average-o-meter on the bike is next to useless, and while the speedometer & odometer are generous in their numbers, they are consistent, which is key. That consistency is reflected when I fill up by filling the tank to the same point every time with the bike on the center stand. To take it one step further, most of my fill-ups have been at the same pump at the same station. (That may actually be an OCD.)

The thing I found interesting was that the three tanks that netted my worst mileage were the same three tanks where I hadn't gone very far between fill-ups. The tanks where I've netted the best mileage were tanks that I ran nearly dry, whether commuting or riding on longer day trips.

My riding style doesn't change from fill-up to fill-up. I certainly haven't changed it to see if riding slow vs. faster changes the mpg; I just ride it. I also haven't been riding with it loaded down one day and unloaded the next, or spent large amounts of time with the windscreen all the way up instead of down. The only thing that changed was the amount of fuel still remaining in the tank at fill-up time. Granted, this bike is still relatively new, with only 5500+ miles, and three tanks of fuel (out of 23) really isn't a lot to make a good comparison, but it seems like the ST gets poor mileage when the tank is full, and that the mileage gets better as the tank drains. This is only an assumption, but since the bike is averaging 42 mpg overall, I don't know what else to make of it. I know that a gallon of fuel weighs more than a few pounds, but I can't see the weight difference between 7.5 gallons and 1.5 gallons making a lot of difference to the 1300cc mill in the ST.


The First 5000 Miles.

This past Thursday I hit 5000 miles on the ST. Not 5000 on the odometer, but 5000 miles since I've had it. For those of you who may be counting, the bike had 376 miles on it when I got it, meaning I passed 5376 miles on the odometer. (Hey, I knew all that math I took in college would eventually pay off.) Since I bought it in the first week of July, those 5000 miles have happened in about 10 weeks, mostly commuting.

As a whole, I'm very happy with the bike. It's money well spent. I've found it to be comfortable and fuel efficent, which, at this point in my life, are two things high on the priority list. With so many options with the windscreen position, it's almost impossible to not be able to find a sweet spot for the wind. All the way down and you receive a full face blast of air from mid-chest up. Half-way up and the air is directed just over your head with a bit of back pressure on your shoulders. Put the windscreen all the way up and the world goes silent. Quiet enough to hear the engine valves ticking. In addition, the created back pressure pushes you toward the dash, which is a bit un-nerving the first few times you feel it.

The gas milage has been great. It's averaging a respectable 42 miles per gallon. Considering my GS gets in the low 30 MPG range, it's about a 33% increase. Most of the tanks have been fairly consistent, but I've had some oddball tanks in there too, with milages in the mid to high 30s. Interestingly, the three tanks with the worst gas milage, also had the shortest distance between fillups. The tanks that got the best mileage out of them were when I stretched the distance between fillups to 250-300 miles. All I can figure is that it has to do with the weight of the fuel. A full tank weighs more - a lot more - and the mileage suffers accordingly. The mileage increases as the weight of the bike decreases with the draining of the tank. If it's getting in the high 30s with a full tank, it would be safe to assume that it's getting hig 40s to low 50s when the tank is near empty. I don't know if that's correct, but the theory works in my head. Of course, the ST gets the best mileage on the freeway. One run to the coast and back netted 46.3 mpg over nearly 260 mostly freeway miles.

The STs powerband is scary linear. You don't really feel it coming on, but all of a sudden, there it is. All of it. I jumped around a semi a few days after I got it and the engine just burbled along. When I settled back into my lane, I looked down and saw that I was into triple digits on the speedo. The speed didn't scare me as the bike was rock steady; the fact that I got to that speed without realizing it did. Most bikes let you know you're going fast, either with the wind blast or engine noise. (Add semi-knobby tires, like on my GS, and you think you're going fast before you actually are.) Not so much with the ST. Between the lack of (traditional) engine noise and a monsterous pocket of quiet provided by the faring, I'm is fairly sheltered from the outside world. There's not even wind around my legs.

Some people do have complaints about the ST, but I find them to be fairly minor annoyances rather than things to really complain about. The biggest complaint I've read about was the engine heat that roasts the rider's legs. Well, the exhaust headers are located just in front of the pegs and the heat exhaust holes in the lower cowl do direct the heat toward the riders feet, but I wear boots and long pants every time I ride so the heat's not really an issue to me. I feel the heat more if the windscreen is up in a mid to high position. The low pressure vaccuum created by the unfurreled screen sucks the engine heat up toward me. I don't really think it's something to complain about- it's an interesting example of physics and thermodynamics - and I think in the winter, it'll be a nice way to keep warm. It can be annoying in the summer heat, but when the air coming over the windscreen is just as hot as the heat coming off the engine, it's kind of a non-issue.

Some of the other complaints I read about were the snatchy fuel injection and the bike's weight. It is a big, heavy bike. No doubt about that. The heft does disappear on the road, but at low speeds, in an uneven intersection, or just trying to push it up my driveway, I become painfully aware of what 750 pounds of bike feels like. It carries much of the weight low (except when it's fully fueled), and once I found out "where" the bike was, it became manageable. The throttle snatchiness is also managable, but it does require some thinking at times. Every fuel injected bike I've ridden has had some degree of snatchiness to it. Some more than others. The ST is on the 'more' side of that list. If the throttle is closed all the way during a ride, it will jerk a bit when you give it more gas, unless you use the clutch. If I roll the throttle back without completely cutting off the fuel, it doesn't jerk when the time comes to give it more. Use the throttle correctly in conjunction with the clutch and the ST is silky smooth. My only complaint about the throttle comes when riding over rough pavement. The throttle and fuel injection seem to be more sensitive to wrist input than on other bikes I've ridden. If I get shook around, and my throttle hand gets shook around, the bike sometimes begins to lurch making the rough road worse, making the shaking worse, making the lurching worse... and so it goes. A handfull of clutch stops it every time.

A couple of complaints I do have about the ST have to do with the rear "luggage" rack and the handlebars. Even thought the saddle bags are huge, the rear rack is next to useless. It's too small to be of much good and there are no tie-down points anywhere near it to strap a bungie to. A larger, aftermarket rack may have to be installed in its place. While I like the bars risers on the handle bars, and the sitting position they provide, I wish they could be rotated out a bit, maybe 2 or 3 degrees, to a more natural hand position. As they are, I have to ride with my elbows in a bit more than natural to keep from kinking my wrists too far. (It's not as bad as it sounds, but the problem does exist.) Also, I can seen the bars ends, or more particularly, the clutch & brake levers, in the mirrors. I don't know if that problem is created by the bar risers or not. I don't think so.

My biggest complaint, and this is a true complaint, is the speedometer/odometer inaccuracy. Comparing the indicated speed & distance with a GPSr found the ST to be 6%-7% generous. For Honda - or any company for that matter - to make such a high precision motorcycle, they should be able to figure out how to make an accurate speedometer & odometer.

I've long been interested in long distance riding, particularly in long distance bicycle touring. My Cannondale touring rig is very capable of tirelessly chewing up hundreds of miles at a time, however the CDale's motor (me) needs a break now and then. The ability to travel long distances, where the ride is more important than the destination is very appealing to me. I like to be moving. With that in mind, I've wanted to become a member of the Iron Butt Assocation for a number of years now. The GS seemed like a logical choice to do an IBA ride on, but it never happened. With the motorcycles I had prior to the GS, an IBA ride was not an option. At least not a smart one. The ST, like my C'Dale, is a very capable machine. An IBA ride will be happening soon. With a sister that lives just under 500 miles to the east, and a cousin who lives about 750 miles north, I have two turn point around destinations for a 1000mi/24hr or 1500mi/36hr ride. (Both my brother-in-law and my cousin are motorcyclists and understand that it's about the ride, not the destination.)

I have been suprised by the amount of comments I've received from other people about the bike. I'm used to getting comments about the GS. It's an odd bike and most people just want to know what it is. But I expected the ST to blend in and not be noticed as much, but I've found the opposite to be true. Many people think it's a BMW R1200RT, then do a double take when they see the Honda wings on the tank. Some ask if Honda is copying BMW. Maybe, but this is the second iteration of a bike Honda's had since 1990 when BMW was still producing the R100RT. The early ST was radically different from the RT of the same period. I don't think Honda or BMW copied each other, as much as I think that they just ended up in the same place from two very different directions.

I've got a list of add-ons that seems to grow continually. Headlight and radiator protectors, driving & fog lights for the front, LED Brake lights and reflective panels for the sides & rear, and a sheepskin seat cover for my rear, to name just a few. Tires will be needed eventually too, but right now, the Bridgestone Battlax BT020s seem to be wearing very well.

It's safe to say that I'm looking forward to the next 5000.


Bear vs. Bike

After reading these articles about cyclist Jim Litz, I won't complain about the suicidal squirrels I encounter as much.
(Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian )


From Wendmag.com blog posted September 24, 2008

Bicycle commuting in a city can be dangerous and frustrating, no doubt about it. If we endure a honk or middle finger from an obscenity-spouting motorist we grumble about it for the entire morning. Hell, we might even let it ruin our day. But the next time you think you have a rough bike commute, try to imagine that of Jim Litz, a 57-year-old science teacher in Missoula, Montana, who collided with a 300-pound black bear on his way to work earlier this month.

The Commute
Litz was on his typical morning ride down Bear Run Creek Road, a veritable bear gauntlet, where he regularly sees (and avoids) the bears that cross the road or hang out to eat the berries and bear feed on the side. He was going at a good clip - 25 mph - to Target Range Middle School, where he teaches science to seventh- and eighth-graders.

The (Bear)icade
As he crested a rise in the dirt road Litz saw a massive black bear in the road 10 feet in front of him. The bear was likely not paying attention, as it didn’t run off the road and out of sight, as, in Litz’s experience, they always had. Litz didn’t have time to stop and slammed directly into the animal, T-boning its broad side.

The Crash
According to a report on the Missoulian, “the bear rolled over Litz’s head, and its mass cracked his helmet. As the duo toppled over one another, the bear clawed at Litz’s cycling jacket, scratching his flesh from shoulder to buttocks before scampering up a hill above the road, where it stopped and whined.”

The Aftermath
Litz’s wife picked up her husband and took him to the doctor. He immediately called Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to report the accident. Wardens reported that the bear, like Litz, was likely suffering from bruised ribs but otherwise fine.

The Moral
Some motorists might be loud-mouthed pigs, but at least they aren’t bears.


And from the Missoulian, posted September 10, 2008...

Bear vs. bike: Teacher riding to school runs into bruin above Miller Creek
By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Missoulian

Jim Litz has a broken bike helmet and bruised ribs to show for the 25-mile-per-hour collision with a 300-pound black bear Monday morning while riding his bike to work from his home in upper Miller Creek. “I was lucky. I was truly lucky, because I accosted the bear and he let me live,” Litz said, while recovering from his injuries Tuesday afternoon at his home.

Jim Litz is accustomed to pedaling past 300-pound black bears on his morning commute to work.

“I've come close to them this time of year,” Litz said, clutching his side and grimacing. “I know bears. The entire creek bottom is just hammered by bears. That's the beauty of living here. But typically, they're crossing the road and I have plenty of time to avoid them.”

That wasn't the case during Litz's Monday morning ride down Bear Run Creek Road, up above Miller Creek. The 57-year-old man passes slender serviceberry branchlets and dogwoods festooned with bear feed, and frequently spots the animals noshing berries on his way to work at Target Range Middle School, where he teaches science to seventh- and eighth-graders. Usually, the animals barrel off the road and out of sight.

This time, however, Litz was clipping along the dirt road at 25 mph when he came upon a rise, spied a massive black bear 10 feet in front of him, and pedaled directly into the animal, T-boning its broad side.

“I didn't have time to respond. I never even hit my brakes,” Litz said.

He tumbled over his handlebars, planting his helmeted head on the bruin's back, and man and beast went cartwheeling down the road.

The bear rolled over Litz's head, and its mass cracked his helmet. As the duo toppled over one another, the bear clawed at Litz's cycling jacket, scratching his flesh from shoulder to buttocks before scampering up a hill above the road, where it stopped and whined.

Litz's wife drove by soon after and took her husband to Community Medical Center, and he immediately called Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to report the unusual collision. Game wardens told him they didn't think the animal was seriously injured, but was more likely suffering from some bruised ribs - just like Litz.

“Yep, that's my bear story,” Litz said Tuesday afternoon, too sore and bruised to go to work, but certain that he'd be back in the saddle by Friday. “That day it just happened to be on that particular corner of the road, and all the stars were lined up against me.”

The rib contusions are painful, and the scrapes down his back aren't pretty, but Litz figures he made out on top given the circumstances.

Litz's wife rides her bike to work, too. But she drives down past the feeding gauntlet on Bear Run Creek Road and parks along Miller Creek Road before pulling her road bike off the roof of her car.

As for Litz's bike, a cyclo-cross, it survived unscathed aside for the front wheel coming slightly out of true. But pointing to his cracked helmet, Litz hopes the story inspires his students to wear their helmets.

“I was lucky. I was truly lucky, because I accosted the bear and he let me live,” Litz said. “I truly respect them. They're beautiful creatures.”

Tour of California

The AMGen Tour of California is coming to Clovis in February, 2009. I've signed up to volunteer at the event. I don't know where they'll need me yet, but I'm hoping to be a course marshall, or better yet, I'd like to ride the ST alongside the peloton, (maybe with a cameraman on the back).

From the Tour website:

"About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2009 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race presented by AEG that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding, recently expanded, 800-mile course from Sacramento to Escondido from February 14-22, 2009."

For the past ten years, I've volunteered with the Fresno Cycling Club for the Climb to Kaiser event. After riding in the event in '96 & '97, I worked as SAG support - support vehicles for the riders - between 1998 & 2007. I was the first person to use a motorcycle as a SAG vehicle in this event and that number has grown from one motorcycle on the course to as many a 15. (In 2008 I worked in the kitchen feeding the riders as the came in from the course.) I'm hoping that I'll be able to use some of that experience here.

See: http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/ for info.

Dates of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California:
Stage 1: Saturday, Feb. 14 – Sacramento
Stage 2: Sunday, Feb. 15 – Davis to Santa Rosa
Stage 3: Monday, Feb. 16 – Sausalito to Santa Cruz
Stage 4: Tuesday, Feb. 17 – San Jose to Modesto
Stage 5: Wednesday, Feb. 18 – Merced to Clovis
Stage 6: Thursday, Feb. 19 – Visalia to Paso Robles
Stage 7: Friday, Feb. 20 – Solvang (individual time trial)
Stage 8: Saturday, Feb. 21 – Santa Clarita to Pasadena
Stage 9: Sunday, Feb. 22 – Rancho Bernardo to Escondido

The 2008 Tour went through Modesto


Bike Balance

Here's an interesting bicycle accessory, or accessories. It's called the BikeBalance. The main unit looks like a pair of bicycle forks with a third leg. The forks attach to the rear dropouts of a bicycle and the third leg attaches to the seatpost. (The attachment is similar to a rear rack.) Once attached, there are a multitude of components that can be used on or with the bike.

The component on the company's website front page, and the component from where the company got it's name, is a handle attachment to aid beginning bike riders called the Training Handle. From the website: "The Training Handle is the original Bike Balance attachment. It can be used either with training wheels to create a stable, safe bicycle platform for very young children or can be used as an attractive alternative to training wheels for an older child learning to ride a bicycle for the first time."

With the Training Handle removed from the main unit, other components can be attached, from wire baskets, an integrated surfboard carrier, a dog jogging attachment, and a collapsable utility trailer which can carry surfboards, kayaks, and even spare bicycles. (The thought of carrying another bicycle along on a bike ride is very intreguing to me. No more spare tube, tires, chain breakers, or dirty hands.)

The various components seem to be well thought out, although, many of the accessories put the weight of anything you're carrying high on the bike, causing potential stability issues. The components seem to be reasonably priced, but when I looked at the order page, virtually every component and accessory was presently out of stock.



Odometer/Speedometer Error

When I bought the ST, I knew there were some inherent errors in the speedometer. Much of the discussion on the Internet says that it's in the range of 6%-8% generous. I know that when my speedometer shows 80 mph, I'm actually only doing about 75+/- mph. That works out to be about 6%-7% for me.

Although all the discussions I've read have been about the speedometer, I've read very little about the odometer. That's not to say that the discussions aren't there, I just haven't seen or read them. Today I went on a ride with a few friends and decided to bring my GPS along. Bringing the GPS along is actually a regular occurrence, but today I wanted to compare GPS distance to the odometer distance; I hadn't done that before.

At the end of the ride, my odometer showed a trip of 151.7 miles. The GPSr showed 145.1. An increase of about 4.5%. I asked my riding buddy how far his trip meter showed: 144.8.

I've heard that motorcycle manufacturers make their speedometer with an error on the plus side. Apparently it's for safety purposes. If we think we're going faster than we are, we'll slow down sooner and not get hurt. I'm not sure what the logic is here: motorcycle manufacturers have created some very powerful, highly refined vehicles, why can't they get their speedometers and odometers to measure correctly. And, if they don't trust us to know how fast we're really going, should we really have, or should they manufacture. a bike that can go that fast anyway?

Saturday Ride

I went on a ride with some friends today. My friend Chuck was getting together with some buddies of his (from the National Guard base where he works) for a ride and he invited me to tag along. I'm glad I went. Saturday rides don't happen very often for me. I'm usually a weekday commuter with the motorcycle and any weekend riding (if any) happens on the bicycle.

We met at the Guard base near the Fresno Air Terminal. There ended up only being four of us. We were quite a different looking bunch. I was on my ST and Chuck was on his dual-sportish VStrom. The other two were on dedicated sport bikes although one was a 2007 and the other a 1990. No matter - they all worked - and we headed towards the hills. through Clovis, up State Route 168. Sample Road got us to Humphrey's Station for breakfast. From Humphrey's Station in Tollhouse, we were planning on heading toward Auberry. The original plan was to take Lodge Road, but I suggested we take Tollhouse Road to the top of the Four-Lane on SR168 and cross over to Auberry Road to decend into Auberry. Both routes end up in Auberry, but the high road is much more scenic.

Between Clovis and Humphrey's, I was between the sportbikes. I was able to hold onto them, and the ST liked to run, but I was right at the edge of my comfort zone. I prefered things just a bit slower. I kept watching Chuck get farther and farther off the back until I didn't seen him anymore. When we left Humphrey's, I got in the back, behind Chuck. The others took off.

When we got to the turn in Tollhouse, Chuck turned right up Tollhouse Grade and I followed. We enjoyed the scenery and the pace on the way up and were met at the top of the hill by about 15 cyclists. I immdiately thought I'd brought the wrong bike. I needed my Vitus, not the ST. Among all the cyclists, we expected to see the others we were riding with, but they weren't there. Chuck and I looked at each other and figured they'd headed down Lodge road when we turned up Tollhouse Grade. No matter; we'd catch back up in Auberry.

Down to Auberry through Alder Springs and still no sign of them. After a quick trip to Mom & Dad's, we headed down Powerhouse road to complete the chosen route. Toward Northfork to road 200, then toward O'Neals. That road had a surprise for us: new pavement. Construction was still in progress and the new asphalt was silky smooth... until it ended. Then there was no pavement. The road became a pot-hole marked, hard-packed dirt and gravel travelway for about 3 miles. Chuck's VStrom was the perfect bike for the road. The ST, not so much. But we made it through to O'Neals.

Road 200 took us to the remnants of the community of Foothill and from there went to Four Corners and the north end of State Route 145. After a quick stop in North Madera for a drink, we headed home.

151 miles total. It was good for both of us to get out.

View Larger Map


Low Fuel?

I filled up before work this morning after a slow, fuel-conserving ride into work. My fuel light came on last night on the way home. It's designed to flash when there are four or five liters (a bit more than a gallon) left. The info center on the dash then begins a countdown of how many miles you have left before you run out of fuel. When I run on the freeway, I can really stretch out the fuel consumption. Pick the right gear and engine speed and it'll tell you it's getting 55+ m.p.g. Pick the wrong gear, or get caught in traffic, and the countdown drops a lot faster than the amount of miles you're actually traveling. The first time I saw the countdown in heavy traffic, I watched it drop 9 miles from the timer in only 2 miles traveled. This morning, I got stuck behing a line of cars (30 maybe) going through a four-way stop at a construction zone. All the stop & go and idling sucked everything out of the timer. By the time I got through, it said I was out of fuel. No miles left. Game over. And I was nowhere near a gas station as I got on the super-slab freeway. I took the last 14 miles to the station near my office at a very law abiding pace to get everything I could of any fuel I had left.

It took 7.015 gallons. The manual says it'll take 7.7 so apparently, I still had a ways to go. But from that 7.015 gallons, I got 305.3 miles! That works out to 43.52 miles per gallon. Cost wise, it worked out to $0.091 a mile. Nice!

I'm liking this new bike.


Better Than Drafting

I've seen a lot of things happen in bike races I've attended over the years. Tacoed wheels. Missing saddles. Guys running with their bikes to stay in the race. But I've never seen this. I got my October 2008 edition of Bicycling Magazine today and this pic was on top of page 34. I sure got my attention. The short article reads:


"American Pro Billy Demong, 28, found a new way to finish a bike race when he completed stage two of July's Cascade Classic in Bend, Oregon, sitting on the saddle of Astana's Chris Horner - while carrying his own broken bike. Jason Gay spoke to Demong, a world class skier who races bikes to stay in shape, about the incident.

"What happened, Man?"
"I crashed with about three kilometers to go. I took one look at my bike an knew it was torched. I ran about one kilometer and some guy said, 'Get on my bike and we'll go'. I was like, 'Hey, Chris.'

"Did you hesitate?"
"There was a spit second where I thought: I can make it on my own. But I was psyched to have that ride. Running in cleats is not my favorite thing.

"Was this, um, legal?"
"Don't ask me man. I have no idea. As far as I know, we're the only ones who've ever done it. But the officials were cool.

"What did you and Horner talk about on the way to the finish?"
"Not much - we were just enjoying the day. He'd pedal 10 times and then we'd coast. The marshals radioed ahead and said, 'Get some cameras ready - you guys aren't going to believe this one.'

I never would have.



I have a cover for my bike that I use when I leave the bike outside for very long. It's nothing fancy, but enough to keep the sun and a bit of the weather off of it. It's fairly lightweight and it doesn't take much of a breeze to have it filled and/or blowing around everywhere. The bottom of the cover is a heavier, heat-resistant material that can lay against the hot exhaust pipes without any trouble.

This morning when I got to work I went through the usual routine of putting the cover on the bike. I hook the back of the cover over the luggage rack on the bike, pull the front down over the faring and front wheel, then pull the back of the cover over the saddlebags and exhaust. This morning as I was snugging up the front, a breeze blew the cover off the back and down to the side of the bike. The lightweight, non-heat-resistant top went right for the right-side pipe and immediately melted.

Now I've got a fist sized hole in the cover and a blue, gooey, smelly mess on the front of my exhaust can. That'll take a few months to burn off. Nice.


Lance Armstrong Plans a Clean, Victorious Comeback

as posted September 10, 2008, 10:38 am on the Wall Street Journal

He retired in 2005 after winning seven consecutive Tour de France titles. He’ll probably always be known as the tour’s best rider ever.

And he’s baaaack.

Lance Armstrong, the Texan who beat testicular cancer in 1996, vows to compete in five races next year, including the Tour de France. His reasons: He wants to raise cancer awareness, and he wants to become the oldest winner of the Tour de France. At 37, he’d be a year older than Belgian Firmin Lambot was when he won the event in 1922. And despite Armstrong’s consistently clear drug tests in the Tour de France, he’s all too aware that there are many skeptics who believe his victory in 1999 wasn’t clean.

Maybe we should have seen his return coming. Mr. Armstrong finished second last month in a grueling 100-mile mountain-bike race in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. He’s also been inspired by 41-year-old swimmer Dara Torres, the Olympics silver medalist from the Beijing Games.

While Armstrong’s drive to win and compete can’t be questioned, he admits in an interview with Vanity Fair that his back tires more easily than before, and it’s harder to get out of bed. “But when I’m going, when I’m on the bike — I feel just as good as I did before,” he tells the magazine.

“But at age 37?” writes Douglas Brinkley. “A 2,000-mile, 23-day race, much of it uphill? By next July? I asked him, rather ungraciously, if he wasn’t too old to get back into shape that quickly. He laughed. And he was off and running.”

Fort Worth Star Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton isn’t surprised by Armstrong’s comeback. “A part of him, Armstrong admitted, wants to return to lay the last of the doping rumors to rest,” Mr. LeBreton writes. “The cynics and critics still wonder how Armstrong won the Tour seven times, while so many of the others who finished second, third and so on have all confessed or been banned as doping cheats.”

In the Chicago Tribune, Philip Hersh writes that Armstrong raises more questions than he answers by returning. The biggest challenge will be mental, Robbie Ventura, a cycling coach, tells Mr. Hersh. “Physically, Lance can definitely do it,” Mr. Ventura says. “The hardest part will be to go back to the mental discipline of training, eating and sleeping with 110 percent commitment. Snapping your brain back into a mode of being perfect all the time is difficult.”

But the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins, who has written two books about the cyclist, believes Armstrong can raise the funds and mobilize the science to defeat cancer. “Lance’s enemies and critics, who are legion, will sneer that his accomplishments were dope-fueled and that his comeback is vanity-driven, and even some of his admirers will question whether it’s sensible to try to add to his record of seven Tour de France victories after three years away from the bike,” Ms. Jenkins writes. “But the fact is that cancer and improbable odds are the keys to his fierce personality, they’re what propelled him over 2,300 miles and up mountainsides in the first place. ‘Watch, I’m gonna win it again,’ he said, after the first one. ‘Know why? ‘Cause everyone says I can’t.’”

4000 Miles and Counting

This morning on my way to work the odometer on the new ST hit 4376 miles. I bought it with 376 miles on it. That gives me 4000+ miles since July 3rd. I know for some riders, that's not much, but when you consider that I ride more for utilitarian purposes (commuting) rather than for fun (weekend rides to the coffee house), that's quite a few miles in nine weeks.


R100GS For Sale

1993 BMW R100GS Bumblebee, 69,670 miles. $5500

Central California bike, daily driver, always garaged. Engine, transmission, & drive shaft are tight with no leaks. Very little off-road use; fire roads only.

Less than 100 miles on newly rebuilt transmission (new bearings & shift forks); work done in August. In June, the neutral switch and clutch switch were replaced and a full Service 2 performed. In April, the voltage regulator, throttle cables, and air box breather hose were replaced. In March, it got new steering bearings. The pushrod tubes and head gaskets were replaced in late summer 2007. Progressive fork springs and new a fork tube was installed in fall 2006. All parts were new OEM and the work and service was performed by Cycle Specialties BMW of Modesto.

Almost completely stock with two-tone, two-up seat and hard touring cases. It has a rebuilt (and rebuildable) starter, a newer, non-stock alternator, volt meter, throttle lock, and exhaust extension. Dealer installed options include heated grips, hand guards, handlebar pad, and a tinted windscreen. Tool kit, service manual, and owners manual included.

Contact kewaneh[at]gmail[dot]com for more info and links to detailed pics.


Two Bikes

Well, I got the Beemer back from the shop. It only took six weeks and a large chunk of change. They ended up replacing the shifting forks and all of the bearings inside the transmission. (sigh...) I found the ST the day I dropped the BMW off at the shop and while it was there, I bought the ST and managed to put more than 3500 miles on it. Most of those miles were just commuting.


Road Trip

Yesterday, we went to the beach for a last day of summer for the girls. On the way home, we stopped and ate at a resturant in Gilroy. Lora brought the camera in with her but she thought I had it when we left. I'm still trying to figure out why Lora would think that I had the camera in the first place. She took it into the resturant, one would think she would take it out. While we were there, I even asked her why she brought it in. (I know, it sounds funny. It sounded just as funny when I was asking it. She doesn't go ANYWHERE without it.) But somehow, since I was the one who left it behind, I was the one who had to go get it.(?)

I figured I could make a ride out of it on the new bike. The fact that the new ST gets better than 40mpg made it an easy decision. I'm not one to ditch church, but I really didn't want to be riding accross the Valley floor on a near 100° summer afternoon, so I headed out in the morning.

I got to the resturant right at the noon rush and met a harried manager who would have been happy to have one (or six) less things to deal with at that moment. I told him who I was and he quickly told the hostess, "I'll be right back. I gotta go get this guy out of the doghouse." (What did Lora tell them on the phone last night?) A moment later, the manager was back, he tossed me the camera over the counter (literally), and I'm out the door.

As I'm getting on the bike, a quick look at the GPS reminds me that I'm only 6-8 miles from the top of Hecker Pass. This is the pass between Gilroy & Watsonville, and while it's short, it's twisty and one of the prettiest roads in the State. Since I was right there, I ran up to the top, just in front of a local Mustang car club. I snapped a few pics and headed back down.

On the way back, I stopped in Casa de Fruita for a moment. While I was sitting there, two more bikes, a Yamaha FJR and a Harley Fat Boy, each with two riders, pulled up and stopped next to me. The guys & I talked bikes for a while, and I overheard one of their wives saying how funny it was to be out on a trip with two Kevins. I looked at her and asked if her husband's name was Kevin. She said "Yes" and added that both of their husbands were named Kevin. I raised my hand and said, "Well, so am I!" She then asked if my middle name was Wayne. When I said it was, she yelled at her husband (the FJR rider) "Hey! This guy's your twin!" It was his middle name too. When she asked the other Kevin (the Harley rider) what his middle name was, he declined to answer.

Over Pachaco Pass, past the San Luis Reservoir and B. F. Sisk Dam and through the Valley's inversion layer. Up in Gilroy, the temperatures were in the 70's. Headed into the Valley, the temps were climbing into the 90's. The wind was very strong blowing into the Valley; between the downhill grade and the tailwind, my fuel consumption gauge was showing 60-70 MPG! Very nice. I stopped at the San Luis Drain visitor's center on top of the dam to look at their exhibits about the dam construction. (Interesting to me, probably not so much for the girls.) The water was very low behind the dam, so low, in fact, that the dam power plant intakes were exposed. They're usually under 50 feet of water. Interesting to see. After a short visit, and a few pics. I was on my way again.

By the time I got to the Valley floor, it was afternoon and well above 90°. Just where I didn't want to be and the reason why I left early in the morning. No matter. It was fun to get out on a second road trip in two days. I may have to start leaving things behind on all of our family road trips.

Total trip: 260 miles.
Average fuel: 46.3mpg.
Camera: returned (with a few extra pics).
Lora: Relieved and Happy.

Mission accomplished.



How observant are you? Can you pass this test?

Just for the record, Lora & I both failed.


Mid-Life Crisis

I've been planning a mid-life crisis for a few years now. The planned answer/remedy was to be a new BMW motorcycle, particularly a R1200RT. During a recent visit (of many) to the BMW dealer who services my 1993 BMW R100GS, I started seriously looking at them. While I was well aware of the price of admission for one of them, the thought of actually chewing on that high price - nearly $19,000! the way I wanted it outfitted - almost triggered a crisis of its own. No new RT this time around. I'd have to make due with the GS.

On the way home, I made an unplanned stop at Madera Honda Suzuki. I was in the neighborhood and had never been in. Being a bit depressed from the above mentioned BMW shop visit, I went in to take a look. I walked around, looked at the bikes they had, and was headed for the door when I saw this 2006 Honda ST1300; Honda's version of the BMW RT. Comparable to an RT in purpose of design, the differences are mainly in engine architecture and electronic gizmos. Another difference is the price tag. I had walked right by it when I came in and didn't see it. I had never thought about an ST, but this one caught my eye.

It was used, but not much. The previous owner had bought this one new to replace his ST1100. He had the dealer trick it out with a few after market items before he even picked it up: a Heated Corbin saddle and Corbin Smuggler trunk (that's what really caught my eye first), Helibar riser with attached RAM GPSr mount, dual power outlets, Honda tank & knee pads and saddle bag liners. Being more than a year old, the price on the sticker was less than a new one (and much less than a BMW). The price would have been worth it if the bike was bone stock, without the after market add-ons, but the add-ons were there as well as the stock seat. And most suprising was the mileage: 376 total miles! The bike hadn't even had it's first service yet and still had two years left on the factory warranty! I suprised the salesman by looking for him, handing him my card and telling him I would be back to ride it.

I left the shop and spent the next 20 minutes driving home figuring out how to tell Lora I found a new bike. That conversation obviously went well.

I'll post more about living with the bike later.

See many more pics of my first week with the bike HERE.


Morning Commute

I miss commuting by bicycle.

I used to commute everywhere by bicycle, particularly when I was in college. Then I got older, and married, and the commuting slowed. The miles didn't slow, just the commuting. A few years ago, I lived about 7 miles from work, and commuting was great when I was working in the office. (My life as a surveyor had me out of the office more often than not. Commuting by bicycle was not always an option.) Then I moved out of town. Not far, but farther; about 17 miles. Still doable by bicycle, but less likely.

Then I changed employment.

Now I live 26+ miles from work, if I take the freeway. (Thank goodness for motorcycles. I can still be on two wheels.) The bicycle requires surface streets and is nearly 30 miles, one way. Well, today, I rode that 30 miles. I was suprised how I felt at the end of it. It was good. Unfortunately, or thankfully, I got a ride, in a car, back home.

I need to do this more often.


Multiple Vehicles In Fog-bound Crash East of Kerman

Multiple vehicles were involved in a pile-up on Whitesbridge Road, near Floyd, Monday morning, Feb. 11, in dense fog. About 10 or 15 vehicles were involved in the incident, some remaining on the highway and some winding up in the ditches to either side. Apparently the accident was triggered when one or more eastbound vehicles stopped in the fog at a railroad crossing. No fatalities were reported. Most damage appeared to be relatively minor. Paramedics responded to the scene but no serious injuries have been reported. Traffic was diverted for some time while the scene was cleaned up. (Reported in the Kerman News for the week of Feb. 11, 2008.)

Kevin's daily commute takes him through this intersection. He went through this morning about a half hour before the pile-up. For those of you who don't know, Kevin commutes by motorcycle.