Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Romance, Riding & Rounders at Niagara Falls

Ripleys Niagara Falls
Nothing says romance quite like King Kong hanging off the Ripley's Believe It or Not building. Right? Some quick research on Google reveils that Niagara Falls does not show up on anyones list as a honeymoon hotspot. I have to wonder why I had the impression that it did? Perhaps glory days of the 50's and 60's? As a natural wonder, it is a must see, but plan a day, two at the most. A week would be my idea of hell.

Oh so why was I there? The Rounder's got the high season in gear by holding their 4th annual round up this weekend - nicknamed the RUIN - Rounder's Unite in Niagara. 22 of us snuck through customs and rode into the Canadian side of Niagara, enjoying the beauty of the falls and the silly tackyness of the city. We came in from NH, MA, OH, PA, MD, MI, IN and maybe a state or two I missed.

This is the way to walk to dinner... reservations for 22 in the Elvis Room at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Rounder's Group Picture 2008

Hard Rock Cafe Niagara Falls

Silly Tacky Frankenstein!
Frankenstein Burger King

Kevin and I hooked up with Xaque and Leftlane for the trip out. It takes a long winter to forget how long the Albany to Buffalo shuffle is. But we really didn't have much to complain about, no raingear was needed for the trip! We saw a couple of drops from heavy overcast in Syracuse and then we were home free. We started the trip by taking our favorite route over Hogback Mt. in Southern VT. We opted for NY & MA Rte 2 for the trip home, both fun options.

Obligatory Diner Shop - I'm working on more artsy shots this season, I even removed the EZ Pass on the winshield for this one.
Peterboro Diner

Essential Water Falls Shot - the tulips and daffodils were in full bloom
Niagara Falls

Daffodil Days

Here is Xaque catching a few Zzz's at a rest stop. The nice thing about the NY Thwy is there are plenty of places to take a break!
Napping Xaque

More rest area sillyness as Dennis mimicks our leaning K75 bikes.
Leaning Dennis

I tend to need more rest stops in the afternoon, 900 miles is pretty ambitious for the first long ride of the year. Everything was a little stiff and sore - and I had a sore throat. I needed one more cup to make the last 2 hours home.
Bikers and Donuts

We're on our way to another great season, hope you are too!

Segway Motorcycle Hybrid

It's a bird, it's a plane, I don't know what it is, but the UNO looks like fun!

Bite Me

Isn't this just the best T-shirt Offering ever? You don't have to be a rider to love this dog's attitude!

If you don't follow Ara & Spririt's blog, you are missing some awesome pictures and adventure. But even if you skip all that, check out the Bite Me T-shirts, and mouse pads they are offering.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shopping for Tires

New K75 Tire
My Dad was a tire man. It was his second job; he was the proprietor of Country Tire Rebuilders. He retreaded tires. The smell of tires always brings me back there. I can recall a sign that hung above the door, it showed some eggs and bacon and a diner, and had a message to the effect that you wouldn’t bring your food to a diner and expect them to cook it, so don’t bring your tires here and expect him to mount them. While I remember the sign, the message didn’t sink in. I tend to shop around for tire prices, and I am lucky enough to have a mechanic who is okay with mounting them. If you are not inclined to learn how to mount your own tires, finding someone to do them is the first obstacle to buying tires online.

Recently my obstacle has been finding the tire size I need. It seems the smaller size touring tire I need for the K75 has fallen out of favor. 120/90-18 Rear is not a popular size. For 10 years I’ve been running a Metzeler, ME88, ME880 come to mind. Last summer I tried to reorder a new rear tire, as my cross country trip left mine quite square. While I was able to find the tire, my orders continued to be cancelled as Out of Stock. Jim tried his resources and came up blank too. I put the square tire back and finished the season.

With spring in the air, I began my search again, this time expanding my search. I wanted to stick with brand name tires. I ran across a review from an airhead owner who switched from the Metz to the BRIDGESTONE-BATTLAX-BT45. After some looking around, I decided to try it out. I have used several online vendors over the years, they seemed more or less the same to me. This time I went with the oft recommended Southwest Moto Tires out of AZ.

My tire was at my door in just a couple of days, I was very impressed with that, I expected a week. The rear tire is super easy to take off the K75. I brought it up to Jim’s, parted with twenty more dollars, and before you know it, I’ve got a slick new sneaker on.

I took it out for a test ride, it was a glorious sunny and 55 day. Do detailed tire report here...I was more interested in enjoying the sunny spring day! I'll probably take the K75 to Niagara Falls next weekend, I'll let you know if I notice any performance difference - odds are I won't!

Hope you have a chance to get out this weekend. I'm stuck in a hotel conference room all weekend - it's the quarterly BMW MOA Board meeting. I vote no more board meetings if it's sunny at home!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Every Long Trip Starts With the First Step.

Is there a more sedentary pursuit than motorcycle touring? There is opportunity for occasional rushes of adrenaline, and you may feel a lot of aches and pains the next day, but let's face it, you are not getting any exercise on a bike. Think about how very still you are on a bike? And we do this for 6-8-10-12 hours at a stretch, nary moving a muscle. A couple of seasons ago, I took to stretching more at gas breaks, rather than setting Indy records for quickest fill up and take off. This helped somewhat with sore achy knees, back and neck. The better shape you are in off the bike, the more comfortable those long days in the saddle are going to be.

This is my 10th season of riding, I've logged over 100,000 miles in that time. That is a lot of sitting around, compounded by a 40/hr a week sitting around job, along with 2 hours a day commuting...the only thing I'm in shape to do is mouse on the computer.

Thankfully I've not let myself go completely, but I'm beginning to get bothered by the 40 something aging thing, and my sedate lifestyle does not feel healthy. When I scored a job close by my home, I knew I wanted to ride my bicycle to work. Oh, I don't have a bicycle. Nor have I ridden a bike in 15 years. But I do remember fondly my younger years of bicycle enthusiasm. Never a competitive thing, just a get out of the house and tool around town thing.

Some times the Nike commercials are right you've got to just DO IT. I went to the bicycle shop last weekend. I had a nice salesman who listened to my requirements and hooked me up with a fairly entry level hybrid Trek bike. We brought it home this week , and I've been out on it a couple of times. I'd guess I'm a month of practice away from riding it to work. But I know the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Maybe I could only do two laps around the condo complex first time out. That's ok, the first time I rode my motorcycle, I went to the end of the cul-de-sac and dropped it! Where you start is not important. What is important is that if you want to accomplish something is that you do start, set some goals for yourself, and remember that you've overcome challenges before. I've ridden thousands of miles around this country, surely I can pedal 7 miles to work.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Female Motorcycle Police

I ran into this picture on Flickr and it's my new favorite. What a positive presentation of women and bikes! Thanks Steve for letting me borrow it!
New Recruits
Female officers with the Metropolitan Police who have motorcycle licenses were invited to a day at the Mets training facility in North West London with a view to recruiting them into motorcycle duties with the Met.