Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Ride of 2007

One final ride to end 2007. Ms Hog planned a ride for Monday that sounded like a great idea, so I signed up. The plan was to meet at Ms Hog’s pen and travel to Mesa to connect with the east side riders. From there we planned to head out the 60 to Superior, Kearney, Winkleman, into Globe for lunch, and then back down the hill to home.

The morning was bright and sunny and the weather was glorious. I met Ms Hog and Diane at the pen and headed to Mesa just as planned. We met up with eight riders from the east side, introductions were made all around, the route was discussed, it was decided that I would be the sweep rider, we mounted up, and off we went. I pulled out of the parking lot, hit second gear, and nothing happened. I looked down and the heal/toe shifter looked like it had come undone. I honked and waved, but the other riders were in traffic, trying to merge to get on the freeway, so I made my way back into the parking lot to find out what had happened.

It seems that Petunia had decided today would be a good day for new chrome. The shift linkage had broken where it attaches to the heal/toe shifter arm. I couldn’t come up with a fix. As luck would have it I was about 1000 feet from Bikers Bay, so I manually put it into third gear, and rode over there. Damn, today was Monday and they are closed on Monday. Now, the group was fifteen minutes into the ride, they didn’t know I had a problem, and Bikers Bay was closed. Now what?

Well in ten months and 16,000+ miles Petunia has played naughty two times counting today. The first time was at the 10,000 mile service. I had an appointment to drop her off, but went on a 150 mile breakfast ride prior to that. I brought her to the shop to sign in and when the Service Writer came out to look her over he said, “You’ve got a flat.” That couldn’t be possible as I had just pulled off the freeway and there wasn’t any sign of a flat. But, I looked and it was as flat as it could be. I was in the process of shopping for tires and so I had the dealer put a set on for $600. I’ll never do that again, but when you’re sitting in their driveway with a flat and two days away from a road trip what else could you do? Then this today. As I was weighing my options I remembered I was only three blocks from a Harley Dealer. Now, I don’t know hardly anything about the east side of town, but I knew about that Harley Dealer. So, I slowly rode Petunia there and they fixed her up for $136 and an hour and a half later I was on the road again.

Now some folks would just go home, but I left the house to ride and so I rode. I went straight to Globe to see if I could catch them having lunch as by then it was 12:30. They weren’t at the place I thought they would be at, so I got gas and started back toward Phoenix. I thought if I stopped and ate they might pass by and I could catch up. I ate at Subway and no group. Just as I was walking to the bike I saw a group come over the hill and it was them. They waved and then recognized me, but in the traffic they couldn’t pull in. I hurried to get my helmet and gloves on and went after them, but got caught at every light in the city. I was just about ready to just ride home alone when I saw them sitting at a light headed back north. Long to short I followed them to a restaurant, they ate, I drank a soda, and I had a story to tell about having to go shopping for chrome. Ahh, yes chrome. Given a choice of the ugly old stock linkage with the brittle ball and socket or a nice chrome one that bolts on with a nut and bolt, I’m sure Petunia is pleased with the nice shiny part. Besides, she deserves the chrome one because she was so close to the dealer when she decided to be naughty. She takes care of me, so the least I can do is make her pretty.

The ride turned out to be as great today as I thought it would be yesterday. A guy can’t let a small bump in the road take away from the joy of riding in such great weather on the last day of the year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Brisk Morning Ride

Ambient air temperature: 32 degrees

Highway speed: 80 MPH

Wind chill: 11 degrees

Look on the faces of folks in their cages: Priceless

Why would reasonably sane people strap themselves on a motorcycle at 7:15 on a Saturday morning when it is 32 degrees outside and ride 130 miles south into even colder temperatures? Because this is Arizona and we have year round riding weather. Oh, and the Pima Air Museum down Tucson way.

Concessions I make for this type of weather? Well, cheap rubber gloves from Walmart, .97/5 pair painting department, as glove liners to stop the cold, sweatshirt under the leather jacket, thermal long underwear under the chaps, and a full coverage helmet. None of that fancy heated stuff here. Ever been in the middle of nowhere and lost all electrical power? I have, don’t even start…………. it wasn’t Petunia, and I won’t put anything that isn’t necessary to be seen into my electrical system. Well, I do make an exception for the radio sometimes, but it is off more than on.

The group for this ride consisted of nine folks from American Legion Post 29 of Glendale, Arizona, two others from Phoenix Area Cycle Riders, and two others. A total of 12 bikes looking for a good day of riding and a little history from our past. If you have seen any old war movies you have seen many of these planes. The museum is staffed by retired and/or discharged military personnel and they have a wealth of information to share about the planes.

Look close and you can see where the gunner sat.

Great old war bird.

The real adventure of the day was when a moron, just into Tucson city limits, decided that he needed to cross over to the high speed lane. Put on a blinker, looked in his rearview to see a line of motorcycles, looked straight ahead for about an eigth of a mile, and proceeded to turn left right through that line of bikes at 80 miles an hour. Makes you wonder what would have happened if the folks riding weren't planning on him being that stupid. Can't you just hear him, "Yep officer I never saw all them there biker dudes until that there one fella done gone and ran right into the side of me. Ya know them damn fools think they own this here highway. Wadda ya mean I'm gettin a ticket!!"

The cold weather made this ride seem like more work than it should have been. I left my house at 7AM and got back at 5:15PM. For me riding in the cold is worse than riding when it is 11o degrees. But, I'm really glad I went. Meeting and talking to some of the Veterans that helped to make this country great was more than worth the effort.

12 bikes rolling down the highway in formation, brisk weather, plenty to talk about at the pit stops, reliving the history of military aviation made for a perfect Saturday.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Recommendation for repairs

I need to tell this story about tires. My last set came from the dealer and cost almost six hundred dollars. I was in a jamb, with a flat, and didn’t have a chance to shop around. This time I knew the rear was getting close and so I shopped. I bought a Metzler on line for $130 that included shipping. I heard that Bikers Bay would install a tire that you brought in without any problem. So, I strapped the tire to Petunia, went to Gilbert to visit Pappy, and then showed up at Bikers Bay twenty minutes after they opened on a Thursday morning. The customer service I got from these guys was just like the old days. They actually appeared to appreciate the opportunity to install my tire. The cost to remove, mount, balance, and reinstall the tire was only forty dollars and I was on my way in just under two hours. Try getting that kind of service at a dealership. I highly recommend Bikers Bay. I am currently on a Maintenance Contract with a dealer and every time they tune Petunia up they find additional things to fix. I will take her to Bikers Bay for a second opinion from now on and if really needed they will fix her for me. Over to the left is a link to their web site.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Picture of Petunia

Here she sits in the beautiful state of Utah. I needed to post a picture to see how it works. This was a short 1800 mile, back road, three day trip I went on in June. Utah has unbelievable scenery and the roads are very motorcycle friendly. Read that to mean they don't come close to being straight. I'll learn more about how this works and add some more pictures from the ride. Southwestern Utah should be a must ride destination.

A place to keep track of my adventures

Well, I thought I needed a blog. Why the hell does a 54 year old man need a blog you might wonder. The same reason everyone else does. Because it's there and I just might have something worth talking about and I need practice in my typing skills. The truth is, I decided this would be a good way to chronicle my exploits on my Harley.

Yep, Harley. Wanted one when I was seventeen, but got a Honda 175 instead. Pappy finally gave in because the son of his boss was selling it. Got off to a great start too, when I rear ended a car at the first stoplight I was supposed to stop at. A wild eyed kid on a motorcycle for the first time, the wind in his eyes, Dad and sister following in the car, mister Big Shot himself, and BAM!!! It was a good thing that car was stopped for the light or I might have gone right through the intersection and my riding would have ended before it started. Pappy roared around me after I finally got it going again and made my first left hand turn and shouted out the window, "I'll see you at home if you make it that far." I did and here we are today.

Over the years I've had five Hondas from the 175 up to an Aspencade, a Suzuki, and now the Harley. The Aspencade at a time had a two passenger sidecar and trailer. The whole family, dad, mom, and both daughters went on trips on the motorcycle. The worst part of that was it took an hour to get gas because of the crowds that came to see how four people could possibly ride one motorcycle.

Finally, last February I spent my money on what I had really wanted for 36 years. Some folks don't believe that I am a man of patience, but I think waiting 36 years for something proves it. So now I am the proud owner of a 2003 100 Year Anniversary FLHTCI. My Electra Glide was purchased after searching for two months, riding sixteen different Harleys, and knowing I would find a bike that spoke to me. Finally I found it on Craig's List and scheduled a time to go the 60 miles to look at it. Can you believe that the day I was going to go it rained for the first time in 119 days in Phoenix? Not a sprinkle, a full out rain storm that lasted two days. I had to wait four days to go look at it and called to see if it was still available. It was and when I saw it I was shocked it was still there. A 70 year old guy had bought it in Minnesota new, added spoke wheels, wide white wall tires, and about $3,000 of other accessories. He trucked it to Arizona and took it out two times, in Apache Junction, and had to go into full lock up both times because of Snowbirds turning in front of him. He said he couldn't get back on it. When I say this bike was perfect it isn't just talk. It only had 3,987 miles on it and the tires still had the factory tits on the edges. Now ten months later it sits with 20,000 miles, ten new states it hadn't seen, a few more needed options like cruise control and highway pegs, and a great big book of maps of highways it hasn't seen yet.

Yep, I think I need this blog to help Petunia, I call her that because she's a Hog, tell the story of searching for the best, most fun highways that we can. That is my aim. I guess I might have to write about other things like the greatest grandbabies in the world, but mostly this will be about the adventures of an old guy, a hog, and miles that haven't been ridden yet. Wave if you see me out on the highway.