Archive | August 2012

Ride West: Day 7 to Chadron, NE

Wichita was dark when Jon and I rolled out of town at 5:45 and headed north at the beginning of a 12 1/2 hour, 630 mile ride. But dawn wasn’t far behind. I think sunrise may be the best time to ride a motorcycle: the air is cool, the smells are fresh and colors explode off the few clouds dotting the horizon as they did today. All the colors in the red/orange end of the spectrum made an appearance this morning as the sun rose to begin baking, once again, the Midwestern landscape. What a magnificent way to start a day.

Road trips are best when serendipity intervenes from time to time. Riding along US 24 in northwestern Kansas through small towns where residents depend largely on nature for their livelihood, I spotted just the kind of sign that turns an ordinary day into something unique. “World’s Largest Ball of Twine Ahead”. Any time you have a chance to witness an international superlative firsthand, you should seize that opportunity and add the experience to your storehouse of memories. So we stopped. I dismounted and stared at the World’s largest ball of twine. I wondered,”Why?” But having no suitable answer, I remounted my bike, content in the knowledge that I, unlike so many other people, had at least seen the World’s largest ball of twine.

Beyond the adventure of the sisal twine, the real highlight of today’s ride was seeing Mike and Diane Mawby again after a gap of several years. Our friends from our time in Tullahoma, Tennessee, are still the great people we knew years ago and continue to be one of hardest working couples I know. If you happen to go to see the twine, please continue on to Kearney, Neb., and stop by “Come and Git It Barbecue” for lunch at the friendliest place you’ll ever find. And be sure to have the beans. Tell them Dr. Dizzyhead said hi.

After lunch, the temperature quickly climbed to triple digits again. (It was 102 when we went through Oglala.). The six hours we spent on the bikes after lunch were not nearly as enjoyable as the six before noon. We got to Chadron and a very motorcycle-friendly Best Western, cooled down and started preparing for tomorrows ride to Sturgis and Rapid City.

Sorry for the late post. Everyone stay safe.

“I can’t wait to get on the road again.”


Ride West: Day 6 in Wichita

Jon and I made final preparations for tomorrow’s long ride (620 miles) that will take us toward Sturgis and the bike rally. There wasn’t really much to do. Both of have been anticipating this trip for so long that besides loading the bikes there wasn’t much to do. For those of you who don’t know, Jon is riding my previous bike–a 2007 Ultra Classic that I put almost 100,000 miles on. It still seems to be in good shape and should make about 4,000 miles in the next ten days without any problem. We’ll see.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that this trip will include seeing old friends and tomorrow’s ride will include a stop to see Mike and Diane Mawby, our best friends from our Tennessee days. I’m really looking forward to that.

Once again, thanks for following along. Everyone stay safe and we’ll try to do the same.

“I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Ride West: Day 5 to Wichita

Today’s ride was a short one–less than 300 miles. Started at 7 though to avoid the afternoon heat.

Hadn’t gone far when I met an Oklahoma state trooper. Officer Jeremy Tolman. Nice young man. Turns out he rides an ’05 Road King. We talked briefly about motorcycles and the joy of the open road. He asked if I was aware that I was exceeding the posted speed limit by 10 mph in a construction zone. I admitted, candidly that I suspected I was going faster than the traffic laws of Oklahoma allowed but wasn’t aware of my exact speed. He showed me on the control panel inside his patrol car that I had, in fact, been riding faster than the traffic engineers deemed safe and appropriate for the conditions. He asked if I would go slower, at least until I got to Kansas. I assured him that I would. He provided me with an official report of our encounter and we went our separate ways. As I pulled SLOWLY back on to the highway, I could almost swear I heard him humming “on the road again.” I put Foghat’s “Slow Ride” on the CD player and cruised uneventfully to Wichita.

Spent a relaxing afternoon with mom and brother Jon. I did, however, see that all Frobishes seem to be afflicted by a malady that causes all 15 minute home repair jobs to take at least an hour. We had to move a refrigerator out of his house. Jon carefully measured the appliance in question but despite his best measuring effort the unit would not go through the door he had chosen for egress. So then both doors of the refrigerator had to be taken off and the water line and wiring to the freezer had to be disconnected. Eventually the job got done, but not before my brother completely wasted 60 minutes of my 28-day road trip. Oh well. That’s what family is for.

Tomorrow: final preparation for ride to Sturgis.

“I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Ride West: Day 4 to McAlester, OK

Left Kenner this morning at 6:30 knowing I had a long, hot day ahead. Hilary saw me off but the girls were sacked out. Probably easier to say goodbye while they’re sleeping anyway.

The morning ride–all interstate–was cool, comfortable and as pleasant as a ride on a straight highway can be. I didn’t see my first 100 degree temperature reading until after lunch when I was headed north in Texas. When I saw a thermometer at the 104 mark, I remembered that the day I did an iron butt ride (1000 mile) it was 107. That memory, however, didn’t make me feel any cooler today. I drank about a gallon of water and kept my mesh jacket and neck coolie on all day and the 10 hour ride wasn’t really too bad.

One of the best things about riding cross county (or even around town) is stumbling on a great little eatery at the end of the day. Tonight was one of those stumbles. A little, 12-table, one waitress, mom-and-pop home cookin’ kind of place. The appeal isn’t just the food which is often good but not great. It’s kind of like Cheers without the bar. Everyone’s friendly, most of the customers are repeats, and you order desert (blackberry cobbler and ice cream) just so you can hang around longer. It’s a good way to cap off a ride.

If you want Four Seasons, go to New York. If you want Americana, look for local license plates and 18-wheelers.

Tomorrow: A short ride (6 hours) to Wichita for two days with family.

“I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Ride West: Day 3 in Kenner, LA

Good news on the speedo front:  It seems to be fixed and working as it should but it was like pulling teeth to get it done.  Here’s the story–

Woke up to heavy rain this morning, a lugubrious entry to a day I knew required some minimal wrenching on the bike.  By10:30 the rain passed and I had an offer to use my son-in-law’s father’s garage to change the battery.  The starter was slow in turning the engine over before it fired up, but when it did I rode over to George’s house and pulled into the garage.  Removing a battery isn’t hard because Harley Davidson includes a strap that loops under the battery so you can pull it out.  Of course it’s more difficult when the battery is installed at the factory sitting on top of the strap that is supposed to loop to the top of the battery.

George Marse demonstrates the tools of his trade.

No way to grab the battery to pull it up.  Unless, of course, your garage host also happens to be a retired orthodontist with “extraction forceps” used for pulling teeth.  Dr. Marse locked on to the battery posts like they were rotten molars and yanked the battery out with nary a scream from the patient.

Took the battery to the HD dealer where it was tested and found to be “normal.”   But I’ve seen several two-year old batteries go bad lately, so I bought a new one anyway.   (George eyed several bikes while we were at the dealership and locked in on a Tri-Glide.  Now that he’s an uncertified HD battery replacement mechanic, there may be a ride in his future.)

Went back to the bike, dropped the new battery in and hooked up the wiring.  The first thing I noticed was that the speedometer needle had dropped from 70 to 0 (a good thing because 70 mph is too fast to be going in a garage).  And the odometer window had numbers that I recognized.  Things were looking up.  Buttoned up the bike, took it for a spin on the street and much to my delight the needle went up and down just as it was designed to do and the mileage digits increased every tenth of a mile as expected.

So …  either the speedo had gotten wet the day before during the storm I rode through and developed a short of some kind OR a dying battery has some negative (no pun) influence on the electronics of the speedometer.  I will let the answer come from those who know a lot more about it than I do.

Hilary, Juliette and Bella in the Marse’s pool.

Spent the rest of the day enjoying the hospitality of George and Vera and watching my granddaughters swim in their pool.

All in all, a MUCH BETTER day than its predecessor.

Tomorrow:  About 600 miles through Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.

Ride West: Day 2 in Kenner, LA

I wish I had good things to say about the speedo fail, but I don’t.  Talked with several HD dealer service departments today, and the description I gave elicited pretty much the same response from all:   The problem is likely to be the speedometer, which must be special ordered and set to what the mileage was on the existing unit before it went out.  Apparently it’s a two-three week process.

And on top of that, my 2 1/2 year-old battery seems to be giving out.  Not sure if that problem is connected to the speedo issue, but it’s possible that the failed speedometer may be putting a slow drain on the battery.  So, tomorrow, I will take the old battery out, put in a new one, and hope that gets me to Wichita where the HD dealership is going to at least try to trouble shoot the problem.  I’m keeping multiple digits crossed that it’s still fixable.

By the way, if you need to break down on a Harley, try to do it somewhere other than New Orleans.  The HD service department at New Orleans Harley Davidson sucks.  The service writer clearly didn’t have much interest in helping me try to diagnose the problem.  “We’re backed up for three weeks.”  “I’ll ask a tech…(30 seconds later)…it’s the speedometer and we’ll have to order it.”  “You could put a trickle charger on the battery….oh yeah, you’re on the road.”

Give me John Dunn at Adamecs anytime.  Good service there.

Oh well, in between bouts of speedo-battery blue funk, I did enjoy spending time today with grandkids.  And had a great sushi lunch with Hilary.  (Oh yeah, and got rained on again coming back from lunch.)

Another day tomorrow in Kenner, then I push on into Oklahoma toward Kansas.  And it’s supposed to rain again in Oklahoma after it heats up to 104 on Sunday.

Stay tuned to see what crap falls on my head tomorrow.

Ride West: Day One to Kenner, La

The first day of my 26 day Great Western Ride seemed to have a little of everything. Rode in a light fog for several hours (atmospheric, not mental), then under some clouds, then a mid day windy downpour that forced me under cover at a truck stop for about an hour, and finally, of course, hot and humid for the last 150 miles. I loved every minute of it. Other than some snow I may see in Colorado, today’s ride was a 570-mile Whitman Sampler of motorcycle rides.

It seems like I can’t ride any long trips without some troublesome issue. 500 miles into today’s ride I glanced down and noticed that I had lost my speedo. No, not my swim suit (please delete any unpleasant mental images).  My speedometer. Needle is stuck on 70 and the data window is empty. No mileage. No trip odometer. Nada. I can use my GPS to determine speed, but the problem may be more troublesome. Will try to track down a solution tomorrow.

Kenner (New Orleans) was selected as first stop so I could do the grandpa thing. Speedo became a minor problem when I got my Bella and Julliette hugs and kisses. They’re growing fast. Two-year old J likes my beard. Fuzzy or braided–doesn’t matter. Tomorrow will be quality time with Julliette and Elmo and Annabella and Wii.

By the way, thanks to all who sent email best wishes. Please feel free to comment on the blog.

“I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Willie Nelson Knows

Marilyn thought she’d give me a new look for my ride. Keeps my beard out of my eyes.

In 1980, Willie Nelson wrote and recorded “On the Road Again,” not about riding a motorcycle but about touring in a country music band.   Still,  what he sings about in that song easily, I think, applies to my favorite pastime.

On the road again –
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends
Goin’ places that I’ve never been.
Seein’ things that I may never see again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends.

To those of us who ride Harley-Davidsons, the growl of the V-Twin is symphonic and the camaraderie of bikers on the road rolling past unending vistas is hard to match.  Yeah,  Willie knows.

Tomorrow I “get on the road again.”  For a month.  More than 7,500 miles.  I’ll see family.  I’ll see old friends.  And I’ll make new ones.  I’ll go from sea level to over 11,000 feet.  I’ll ride in  110 degree heat some days and near freezing temperatures on others.  I’ll get wet.  I’ll get sore.  And I’ll get very, very happy.

Shackled by the unrelenting demands of gainful employment, Marilyn can’t ride  this trip.  We rode for a week with great friends in June and she and I  look forward to our Great Key West to Alaska Ride next summer with  granddaughter Hanna riding behind me for most of the trip.

If you followed along on my first ride blog in June, welcome back.  If you’re just opening this blog and going to join me vicariously for the next month, welcome aboard.  I’ll update the blog every day with something, including pictures and things I think about and stuff I saw and comments on the nature of the universe.  You just never know what thoughts a ride can produce.

My bags are packed.  My bike has a new front tire and front brakes thanks to the friendly folks at Adamecs Harley Davidson.  Today I adjusted the clutch, drained all the fluids in the bike and added Amsoil products to the engine, the transmission and the chain case.  The next month should be a good test for the new oils.

Tomorrow’s destination:  New Orleans and family.

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