Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Toy for my Blog

Here is the first attempt to put a Google Map into my blog. I am in the serious planning stage of my Spring Break ride to Seattle and weather is playing a more important part than I thought it would. Subfreezing temperatures and the very real possibility of snow has caused me to change my route. I will now spend some quality time exploring the scenic roads of California as I make my way toward Seattle.

This is the day one route that I will take on Sunday, March 9. It covers 696 miles and should be easy to cover without riding for eighteen hours. I plan on not riding more than twelve hour days or more than 700 miles. As my plans are today this is the longest day I have planned. But, I still have the final 2 - 3 days to plan.

The purpose of inserting the map is to add the feel of the ride to those who see this blog. Just reading and seeing pictures is great fun, but being able to look at the route adds to the experience. Plus, with the Google Map, the viewer is in control of how involved they want to be. It allows a person to get up close and personal with the route I have chosen and get into it and see if they would make changes if they went in this direction. Everyone has their own theories about what makes a great ride and I hope this adds to that.

So, this is my Day 1 plan. It will show up again when it is in real time. Today was just a test to learn how things work and I must say it really was easy. I will continue to play with it, as I know there are more things to discover. Who knows the maps might even become more interesting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Learning to Post a Video

Todays ride was to Union Hills and 83rd Avenue, north to Carefree Highway, a short jog to the left onto New River Road. This is a great way to reach Interstate 17 North and miss all the traffic through Anthem. My purpose in todays ride was to have breakfast at Bylers Amish Kitchen in Black Canyon City and to make a video to put on my blog.

This is my first attempt at making a video. I am heading north on New River Road toward I 17. Making the video was simple enough, I just pulled off the road, took off my gloves, pushed a button, put my gloves back on, and rode off. Watching the video I noticed the camera picked up the radio as well as the wind as it came around the windshield. I might need to move the mount to the other side which would mean loosing the cup holder. Also, because I am running a smoked screen the picture is darker than it really was today. You can also see the reflection of the fuel cover in the screen. Because of that I might need to go back to my clear windshield for my trip.

This second video is going south down Yarnell Hill, also known as Arizona 89. This is a road that gets a ton of motorcycle action every weekend. The sport bike riders race up and down it like crazy and many of them have less skill than brains. No, I'm not saying they are smart. The sheriff's office spends quality time writing tickets and reports after they fall off and skin themselves up.

It was a 250 mile day today. The weather was very pleasant, if a bit overcast. Just outside of Prescott the ground was snow covered and the Watch for Ice signs were open alerting would be speed demons to be careful. I took video of that part of the ride, but it was too long for U Tube and I couldn't post it. All in all it was a great day and I learned some about making and posting videos. Every day we learn something new is a good day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting Back to Riding

In memory of my little brother H. Lloyd Malone; December 13, 1957 – February 8, 2008.

Having spent most of the past two weeks at the hospital and then making the final arraignments for my brother, there wasn’t any time for motorcycling. Family and the love for my little brother were more important. So, I made Wednesday the day to return to riding.

I just wanted to get away and ride in the solitude of slower paced two lane highways. The problem with that is I also wanted to be out for an extended period of time. That would require some Interstate traffic and I had to make a decision if I wanted that traffic early or late. I choose early as the best option.

I left home at 8:45 and headed to the Loop 101. Traffic was surprisingly light for a Wednesday morning. Merging onto Interstate 10 west I went right to the left lane, set the cruise at 70, and rolled out of town without ever having to slow at all. That is a feat when going through Avondale and out toward Verrado, a really nice planned community 25 miles west of Phoenix. Exiting on Arizona 85 south I headed to Gila Bend and a fuel stop. About six weeks ago I went to Yuma for lunch and had real fuel problems. Like only 20 mpg and just barely getting the 118 miles from Yuma back to Gila Bend. I made it on less than fumes and put 5.3 gallons on gas in a five gallon tank. I was thinking I was going to use up my call to HOG in the first month of the year. I had switched from my loud pipes back to a stock set and just couldn't dial in the PC III. So, I went back to the Pythons, made an adjustment, and was hoping for better results.

The day was cloudy, but the tempreture was in the high 50's. Imagine riding in February in high 50's at 9:oo am. The reason to live in Arizona is the nearly perfect weather. After making my pit stop to gas up it was on Interstate 8 west for the boring part of the day: 118 miles to Yuma. Boring in respect to it being Interstate riding.

This is a view looking north from Interstate 8 about 35 miles west of Gila Bend.

Getting into Yuma I made the decision to take US 95 north to Quartsite, Arizona. US 95 is a well traveled, well maintained road that is mostly in a flash flood area. That is important to know on rainy days and more so as you see the number of snowbirds, winter visitors, who dot the landscape in their motorhomes along the 80 mile trip to Quartsite. I'm not sure how they would get out in a flash flood.

This was an enjoyable part of the ride. Very light traffic, cruise set at 65, warming into the mid 60's, and mild rolling turns. The perfect reason to ride a motorcycle.

After a pit stop in Quartsite it was back on an Interstate for about 11 miles heading home 125 miles from Phoenix. I thought of just rolling the super slab, but my desire to just cruise got the better of me and I exited on US 60 to Wickenberg. It was now 158 miles to home, but a relaxed two lane with perfect weather and no traffic at all. It was the perfect choice to make and the added milage didn't make a difference at all.

I arrived back at home just before 4 pm, averaging 36.4 mpg, and feeling like I can live with that. Most people claim to get around 35 mpg when touring on a Harley and I know when I pull the trailer it will drop some. My front brakes started to squeal a bit and I need to change the pads tomorrow. But, it was a good day to ride. A good day to ride and remember and think about my little brother. Rest In Peace, Harold Lloyd, I love you.