Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bring it On - The Soap, Sponge and Hose

Out gathering Tons and Burgs and just couldn't resist. According to a person sitting there these girls were 3rd in the Nationals in Florida

Working up a lather

Rinse Cycle


Thursday, July 29, 2010

IBA National Park Tour #2

When MeAsWe got her certificate the other day and I did not receive mine, there was a bit of concern. On her list of recent finishers my name was listed. Of course I started to scan back in my memory pushing some of the cob webs out of the way, maybe I put N Uxbridge down and the IBA association had mailed it to Uxbridge. Dang this was gonna take a while to straighten out and I already bought a frame for the Certificate.

This morning that yellow card was in the box. When I walked out of the post office yesterday, MeAsWe said "didn't come?", to which I said "it will show up, no big deal". Well that was a cover up. I don't know what it is, but there is something meaniful behind that piece of paper.

Number three is well underway in it's plannng stage, ready for execution beginning September 9th.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MeAsWe Gets Iron

Yesterday MeAsWe went to the post office like any other day, she spun the dial and put in her 3 alpha character code and open up the door. There it was, the Postmaster's yellow card, indicating there was a package to big for the slot. The Postmaster retieved her package and prominently displayed on the address label was Iron Butt Association.

MeAsWe received her certificate for the National Park Tour we completed last year. I asked her what her thoughts were when she opened up the package and saw the certificate. A sense of excitement, making her grin ear to ear, and the feeling that comes from someone recognizing what you had accomplished. In the motorcycle world the Iron Butt Association is about as good as it gets



Monday, July 26, 2010

Tons of Angels

During our trek across PA we had a couple instances worth memorializing in writing.

Incident One
Some place in the Kills of NY we were traveling along when the car in front of us starting laying on his horn. At first I thought it was simply a case of New York rudeness, when out of the corner of my eye to the right I saw a car stopped halfway into the intersection. I grabbed a fistful of the right lever and came to a screeching halt. ABS really does work. I have been in situations before requiring a heavy dose of brakes and managed to keep the front tire slowing but still turning, which I understand is a good thing. I could feel the on and off of the brake as if there were little bumps in the road. Now whether or not the outcome on the Connie would have been the same I do not know, but I surely appreciated the assist from Yamaha and impressed with ABS

Background to Incident Two
Recently there was a thread on the NER forum about loud pipes, loud horns and lousy drivers. My thoughts were, somehow I have managed to put on well over 100,000 miles in the last 4 or 5 years and do not recollect any situations where I wanted to curse out any drivers. I was commenting to MeAsWe, maybe I have been lucky or I am aware of the situation around me and have managed to stay clear of those types of event. With that said, on Saturday we were riding behind a pickup truck in heavy traffic. From the left was an On and Off Entrance / Exit ramp to another highway, quite possible I-99. There was a line of traffic coming off the highway with a white car, driven by a middle aged woman, with brown hair. She did not have a cell phone or a cigarette, but looked intent to getting off the exit ramp and be on her way. How do I know she was middle aged, her hair was not particularly neat and I figure if it were a 20 something or younger it would be all nice a prissy (hows that for stereotyping).

Incident Two
As we were perpendicular to the exit ramp, I saw an out of place movement out of my left eye and some white object much closer to me that I wanted. MeAsWe is coming over the Cardo headsets with”OMG we are gonna be hit”. I remember feeling those ABS brakes again, acceleration, brakes and acceleration again. What happened was pure instinct, I am not chalking it up to skill. I was targeting an exit path keeping a non contact distance between us and the white car and us and the rear end of the pick up truck we were following.

Long story short we made it thru that small slice of earth and turned away from the traffic onto a street where there was no traffic to gain our breathe and to calm the senses down. MeAsWe watching the whole thing said we came within literal inches of being tagged by the white car in the front and then again in the rear. Funny thing is even after it was over, my heart was calm and my hands we steady. We made a midstreet Uwey and continued on our way.

Incident Three
We are running Old Croton Lake Rd in NY (RT 129/118) at brisk pace, but not dangerously fast. It is early evening around 7pm and the sun is getting sleepy and ready to lie down for evening. The FJR is purring along in 3rd gear to keep the revs up to power out of the sweepers and corners. The bike is feeling awesome and I can feel MeAsWe legs tightened around my butt. There is very little traffic, if any, the road is in superb condition and the Shinkos are like little tentacles grasping and releasing the tarmac. I see the road changes from 129 to 118 out of the corner of my eye. As I enter the turn that is too tight for a sweeper but not a full blown corner, somewhere in between, I see the taillights of a car through the trees. I figure there is a traffic light and the car is stopped for a red light. Off the throttle and slow thru the final approach to the turn. The car comes into full view, no traffic light, but there it stood at a standstill. A deer looking at the car and then turning its head to look at the new arrival on the scene, US.

Well those three pitches must of been balls, because we made it home safely on Sunday. I thank (and I am sure I can say for MeAsWe a thank you too) those Angels that stayed with us all weekend. It is very much appreciated.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 3 - Three Ton Burg

Like yesterday, bright and early came at essentially the same time. This time we used both the motel alarm clock and the cell phone to wake us. We were up and about by 5am and on the road at 7:06. How do I remember the time, well I said dang 6 minutes late, but close enough. I love ridin early in the morning and ridin at 2am with a full moon out. It is so peaceful.

Today the roads will flattten out somewhat with gentle rolling hills as we roll toward New Jersey.

Some people may think we just hop from spot to spot, take a photo and then dash off to the next place. While the contests are fun, they also facilitate finding some greats places to visit. We rolled into Leighton around 11am. In addition to having the Ton and Burg, Call of the Wild waypoints loaded to the GPS, I also load places like Harley dealerships and National Landmarks. After taking the pictures of the Lehighton Post Office, I decide to head off for these 2 landmarks. They are only 4 or so miles away.

Jim Thorpe is a town rich in history centering around coal, trial for some the Molly Maquires and is known as the Switzerland of America. We grabbed phopps of St Mark's Episcopal Church and Harry Packers mansion. This is a neat little town to visit and one could easily spend an entire day here.

Back on the road we stopped back in Lehighton for some lunch. I don't know how this guy does it. Between the 2 of us, we had 4 dogs, 2 cans of soda and a bag of chips for $7.05. Oh I had 3 of those 4 with chili and cheese on em.

In the past 2 days I have always had a perception of approxmiately where we were in relation to home. In the Catskills, or half way across PA, etc etc. Today I did not have an anchoring and really no idea where we were. Not a bad thing, just a thing.

Most of the post offices have been spot on where I located them, but a few have simply not been where I thought they should be. In the Tons and Burgs hunt, you can either use the post office or the entering XXXX sign. In Johnsonburg, NJ I could not find the post office and did not remember seeing a sign for the town as we entered into the town. I pull over to do some look ups (just can't let this one go, since we blew right past one earlier in the day). I've got my list of Post Offices out, doing look ups in the GPS, when MeAsWe taps me on the shoulder and points

Somewhere along the way we came across this restaurant. Someone has a sense of humor

I am originally from New Joisey, however I have never been to the Statue of Liberty (not even on a school trip), but I have been thru the Lincoln Tunnel, the opening scene for the Sopranos. We are headed for Guttenburg, NJ Post Office, off track abit, the roads have become crowded with city traffic. We round the bend on JFK Boulevard and the New York City skyline is right there. This is another place I have never been to.

We have only 4 stops left before we high tail it home. Of special mention for those of you that are reading this, there is a small section of road in Cortlandt NY that is a great ride. Rt 129/118 to RT 100 Croton Lake Rd.

Croton Falls is the last grab of the day and we make our way to I84 to complete the days journey. Today we will have clocked just shy of 500 miles capturing 21 Tons and Burgs. As we head into Hartford CT, I ask MeAsWe if she is hungry so of course a Pastrami on Seed Rye is the fare of the evening. We end many of our trips at this place.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 2 - Burg and Ton to Go Please

Bright and early came on Saturday, with the alarm set for 5am, however we ignored all of that and found ourselves waking up a 7am. This will prove to be a more intense day with a capture of 30+ tons and another 400+ day. Not a time to get a late start, but IIWII (it is what it is). The overall turnaround point for the trip is Tipton, PA which is just east of Horseshoe Curve a National Landmark. We were running behind schedule so HC will have to wait until another day. (Once again clickin on any photo will enlarge it)

The roads in PA are as good as they get. I am not looking for the most technical roads such as RT 78 in OH to ride, but I do enjoy the twists, sweepers, and rock n roll roads as much as the next person. Our route had us going up and over many of the mountain ridges (both the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains) in this area adding to the excitement, encountering many switch backs. One has to wonder what the folks in these mountains do in the winter with the ice. One section of the mountain roads was lined with rhododendrons plants. I can imagine how spectacular this is during the spring blooming season.

As we head into Wilburton, PA I catch a road sign that say Centralia 4. Centralia is a town in PA that has been burning since the 60’s and has been condemned by the Commonwealth of PA. IIRC the last person living here was forced to leave in the last year. MeAsWe reminds me that we have a lot on our plate today and Centralia will be here when we return.

As we approached the mountains to the left I pointed and said to MeAsWe those things just don't look right here. In Iowa, they get lost in the middle of the corn fields and don't look as much out of place. Here I just don't know ?

Coal being what it is has to be taken from the ground and not all of it are mines. Give it a couple of years and this town will no longer be named Shamokin. It will be renamed to Smoked.

You thought I was just foolin on the name eh

We passed a couple of these guys today being in the heart of Amish country in PA. The boy on the back waved to us and had a twinkle in his eyes and maybe will dream about having a motorsickle one day. Of course he will have to forgo baptisim when he is 16 or 17.

We found ourselves up and down mountain sides ascending steep inclines just to crest the top of the mountain and descend to the other valley. Note the switchback that is going to turn the other direction.

The Shinkos (tires) were grabbing the road, even as the local highway departments threw this stuff at us. In some ways this was more effective than the speed limit signs.

We finished up the day in Shippensburg, a few towns short of our goal, but we decided to make up the time tomorrow.

Today we captured 32 Tons and Burgs to add to our treasury.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 1 - Blitzin Burgs and Tromping Tons

across Pennsylvania, a weekend of 1310 miles and 3 days of running. Objective was to capture as many of the BT’s (burgs and tons) as we could. Result: we grabbed 75 more towns to the Titanic Tour list. But our journey isn’t just about the contest, we use the contest to facilitate visits to great little towns, ride some fantastic roads that would not be found and see never seen before scenery. One can click any photo to see it bigger btw.

Friday started off with a pistachio muffin and Sunday ended with a fresser pastrami on seeded rye. MeAsWe opted for the mac and cheese at this place. Our first town to kick the party off was Millerton, NY, which also adorned us with some rain. Not the pouring kind, but enough to keep the speeds down. While I have ridden thru Duchess County before, there was something special about the roads this time. A definite place to come back and explore.

Being on an agenda, isn’t conducive to stopping for every photo-opp, I couldn’t resist this place. I love these outdoor sculpture places.

When planning these excursions in MapSource, I don’t always understand where we are going and what direction we are heading. I just see little boxes that I connect with the yellow line to create a route. Out on the road we find ourselves heading down RT 97 in New York to Narrowsburg. It all of sudden dawned on me that there is a National Park VC there and this is the road that leads to Hawks Nest. MeAsWe and I took our first long trip 2 years ago to this exact area, some 40,000+ miles ago. Dang the roads fly by. We grabbed a pic of the post office, Hotel Arlington (NRHS) and got some INK. This is a great area to visit.

Ultimate destination for the day was Hazleton, PA just outside of Scranton. As we were headed for West Scranton PO to our right was Steamtown National Park, another great place to visit and get INK. I let this one go, and besides it was too late and they were closed.

Another irresistible phstop

Lunch at the Rainbow Diner. Check out the guy checkin out the waitress. Must of been a really nice shot.

Having to gas up in Pittston I made some calls to places to stay and firmed up there were available rooms at the Comfort Inn. We pulled in to CI and there was actually daylight left in the day, very unusual for me, and something that MeAsWe so graciously puts up with. We were gonna head out and grab a bite to eat, but that first beer at the motel bar tasted so good, we shrugged our shoulders and said heck we might as well just stay here. Dinner was a blackened steak for me and a BLT sandwich for MeAsWe.

So our take today was Millerton NY, Clinton Corners NY, Staatsburg NY, Bloomington NY, Rifton NY, Fallsburg NY, South Fallsburg NY, Forestburgh NY, Lake Huntington NY, Cocheton NY, Narrowsburg NY, Prompton PA, Scranton PA (4 different sections), Pittston PA, West Pittston PA, Hazleton PA.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


You might have heard those stories of motorcycle riders chasin down people trying to get away. Well it happened again today. At the Wrentham Outlet mall, it seems this Kawasaki Concours turned into the pedestrian alley and chased down its first victim, a mother with a carriage and her son. The young boy had the look of terror as he looked over his shoulder and was tuggin his mothers hand, but then he knew he was going to be safe. Who was that unmasked man. The rider suddenly stopped, dismounted, thru his trusty orange cape over the tank, leaped off, flinging open one of the retail location doors and stepped back. He fired, one shot, then another and another. An on-looker with his family gives him the thumbs up. He grabs the cape, jumps back on his iron horse and heads off in the sunset. Well not really, it was morning and he had to turn around. He was gone as fast as he came, with the Outlet citizens wondering where was Tonto and did Dale and Roy really have happy endings or was that trails.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FJR gets a new pair of Sneakers - Shinko

The FJR was approaching 19,000 miles and in need for a set of new sneakers. Coming up in September we have the beginning of your Silver National Park Tour starting in Salt Lake City, UT. It always seems that the big trips always start while I am part way through a set of tires. Not enough miles to throw them away, but not enough miles left to complete these large trips on them. It’s July and between now and August 23rd, we will put on around 5000 miles going here and there. The trip out west will be around 4,000 miles so trying to do the tour on these tires would put them at the limit of the tour of duty.

While the FJR is new to me, tires are not. I have run Dunlops, Michelin, Metzler and Bridgestones. Bridgestones came on both the FJR and Nomad and are not particularly well thought of in the cycle community, commonly referred to stones. I had a set of Metzlers mounted to the Nomad and IIRC they were better than the stones. Well I had a Stone on the rear because the Nomad has a weird size and didn’t have a comparable Metz. On the Connie I have had Dunlops and Michelin. Dunlops seemed to be a quicker handling tire than the Michelins. On the Connie the Michelin developed a vibration to the tires right around the 7K mark, however the tread seemed to have a ton a miles left in them. The vibration was so bad, I went with Dunlops as the preferred choice, even thou the Michelins seemed like they would provide more mileage. Added miles are useless if the tires just don’t feel good.

As a reader of the FJR Forum one tire had reared its name, called SHINKO. Just the name might keep some people at bay. The more I read about Shinko Ravens and given the situation I was in knowing I would replace the tires no matter what before going to Salt Lake City, what the heck I said I would give them a try. If I hated them the cost was not so large to make you get your money’s worth.

Michelin Road Pilot 2 for front and rear will cost around 453, including mounting. Shinkos will be about 296. Given the expectation of the Michelins to be about 9,000 miles, if the Shinkos go 5,888 miles it will be a push on cost.

First impression of the Shinko (keeping in mind I had Bridgestones mounted) are silky smooth. They turn into a corner quick and without surprises, kept their line thru the corners effortlessly, and instill confidence thru the corners. On the highway they tracked nicely, not effected by what the road throws at you. No bobbing or tracking unwanted lines that may be in the road.

The Stones seemed to have to be worked thru the corners forever wanting to stand the bike straight up. Shinko’s simply went where you wanted them to. Point them and they go. For now I am giving the Shinko’s an A. Time will tell if the stand the test of time.