Sunday, July 22, 2012

Well, I'm Home

I'm home.  Wednesday I rode about 200 miles from Norman, OK to Mckinney, TX and Friday I rode 237 Miles from McKinney, TX to My Garage.  My total mileage? 2384 miles.  I really wanted to hit the 2400 mile mark but I think I'm close enough.  So here are my wrap up thoughts.

I had no problems and that was weird.  This is the first trip I've ever been on where something didn't Go Wrong.  No exploding transmissions, slipping clutches, broken saddlebag straps, missing motor mounts, overheating motors, blown knees, malfunctioning house alarms, Credit cards that stopped working....nothing.  I was fully prepared for tragedy and never had to pull out the big guns.  Go Me, that was really cool.  All I had to contend with was one night of tears from exhaustion and loneliness and one day of a horrible crosswind when I realized my new helmet really really sucks in the wind.
That, my friends is an incident free ride.  I didn't even have to add oil along the way as I apparently have the only BMW on the planet that doesn't burn oil.

I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible starting with  my beloved old bike Skylark who sat at home while younger sister took me on a ride.  Without the lessons she has taught me, I would be a much poorer rider today.  She taught me that many issues can be dealt with at speed and if you can fix it without turning off your motor you should.  Bike suddenly cuts off because of a random electrical short? (Skylark did this for the longest time before she suddenly stopped.) Don't pull over, what if you can't get her to start again?  Downshift, pull in the clutch  and let it back out.  She'll start from a roll better than from a stand still.  You're ready to roll but the bike isn't quite warm enough?  Just use your back brake at the first stop and keep a little throttle on otherwise, the bike will die.  Nightingale only does this when she's too cold but Skylark did it all the time for no reason I could fathom except for the fact that she's thirty years old and cranky (I should have named her Slappy Squirrel).  Bike makes a weird  noise when you turn on the electrics?  Well, does it still run ok?  Yes?  Don't worry about it then, I'm sure it's unimportant.  It was by the way.  A consultation with Mr Man that evening showed me that the noise was the sound of my fuel pump priming and so if it sounded oddly anemic then it was most likely already primed and if the bike ran ok, I really shouldn't worry about it.  All these lessons and more I learned from traveling thousands of miles on an older bike struggling to pull a heavy sidecar and delivery past her abilities every single time.  Enjoy your retirement Little Girl, you going to come out of it all too soon.

Of course, I could not have done this without Mr Man's support (both emotional and financial).  I also deeply appreciate the rest of my riding family: Zippo, Sypderman, and our newest member whom you have yet to meet Union Jack, and The Billy Goat Gruff (names are subject to change as they ride with us a bit).  Everyone providing me support and  humor that I felt 2000 miles away.

If I were going to do it again, would I do anything different.  No, not really.  My route was a good and I had a good about of time on the bike versus time off the bike.  I do wish I had left my pair of long riding pants at home and brought a second pair of bike shorts.  I also wish I had brought more underwear but other than that, I packed well and smart.  I have plans of bringing everyone to Colorado with me at some point.  Not the exact same trip but close.  I would love for Mr. Man and I to meet my brother and his family in Durango one summer for a day of train rides and shopping and then push one to ride some amazing roads.  I would also love to spend a week in Ouray with Mr. Man riding passes and acting idiotic.  Not the mention taking my above mentioned riding family with me to to explore the roads of Colorado is on my must do list.

I'm not sure what my next riding adventure will be yet.  Mr. Man and I are talking about doing a ride on Labor Day.  Right now, I happy to unpack and do laundry.  Once laundry is done, all I'm going to be able to think about is when can I do this again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You Can't Stop the Beat

300 miles yesterday from Pueblo to Dodge City. 270 today from Dodge City to Norman, OK.  I'm almost home.  Lets discuss yesterday first.

It was hot, windy, and flat.  I rode three hundred miles on one road with no turns.  Now let's move on... wait,  I did actually have something fun happen yesterday.  I met another sidecarist on the road and we road together about 70 miles.  Know what?  When  he pulls into towns and slows down he stands on his pegs to stretch his legs out.  I totally do that!  Thought I was the only one.  Anyway he is out of California heading over to the BMWMOA rally.  His rig can be found on the Boxer Metal page on Facebook.  Just look for the album titled 1976 R90s Ural Sidecar.  For those of you who wonder, my older sidecar, Skylark is a R90/6 Ural sidecar.  I'm not cool enough to own a "S"

It was very cool.  The rest of the day was hot and miserable.

Today started out later than I would have liked.  I was just so exhausted from yesterday that it took me a while to get up this morning.  I popped my canal phones in my ears and took off towards Oklahoma and that's when the music gods got busy.  Today I pulled up my music on my Garmin and told it to sort by album and to not shuffle.  I like to do this sometimes.  I like to sample albums start to finish to get a better view of the entire body of work, the shape of the album if you will.  It's geeky, what can I say?  I started my day with A Hard Day's Night singing at the top of my lungs.  Nothing brightens up a boring road like The Beatles.  That was followed by Abbey Road, it was interesting to hear them at the beginning and end of their career back to back.  Then there was Rufus Wainwright's "All Days are Nights" and me bellowing out "Give me what I want and give it to me now.  Don't be such a holy cow!"  Yeah, I"m classy.  As I pulled into Woodward, OK (not exactly a thriving Metropolis of liberal thinking)  Greenday's American Idiot started.  I cracked up and almost fell of the bike laughing.  Sometimes, Garmin has a great sense of humor.  I rolled along through what I had from American Idiot.  The whole album isn't on my Garmin but I highly suggest you sit and listen to it start to finish.  It is an Album in the the oldest and best sense of the word.  If you don't understand what I mean by that go listen to it.  Or Abbey Road.  Or much of Pink Floyd, Or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band.  Some things should be taken as a whole but I digress.  As I hit the rolling scrub brush of Oklahoma Johnny Cash came on and his American Albums kept me company though out a lot of my day.  He was the perfect musical accompaniment to the scrubby countryside of Oklahoma.  As I pull into El Reno for lunch I had Patty Griffith's "All Creatures of our God and King."  A hymn I have always found a great sense of the sacred in.  After lunch I had Joan Jett playing as I hit the interstate to head toward my hotel.  The symbolic moment there?  Her lovely rendition of the Theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show.  I thought it was rather pertinent to my trip, especially the second verse,

"How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you're all alone
But it's time you started living
It's time you let someone else do some giving

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all"

Then as I pull into the Hotel parking lot it was the Flatlander song "Thank God for the Road."  I was thinking, indeed Lord thank you for the road.  Thank you also for the end of the road and for the shower and the bed that are waiting for me inside.

Tomorrow I'm heading to McKinney, TX to see my brother, sister-in-law and my two nieces.  It's a short trip so I'm sleeping in, having breakfast, a long lunch in Denton...I'm curious to see what the gods of Garmin Road Music have in store for me tomorrow.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Random Thoughts on the Ride

Today I rode 260 miles from Ouray to Pueblo.  The day started out cold and rainy in Ouray.  It was a morning where everything I tried to do was hard.  It took me almost 30 minutes to load the bike as I wheezed my altitude sick self up and down the stairs.  I had hoped to take everything in one load but it would up being two.  Then the ground was muddy so I struggled not to get mud everywhere as I mushed my wet and muddy bike cover into it's little compression bag.  Two bikes had parked on either side of me making accessing my tub difficult and I had to repack one of my bags to get it into the panier.  Needless to say, after breakfast when the rain started I just wanted to cry.  Instead I saw an acquaintance from Austin who was in Ouray with his daughter.  Mr. Man and I had ridden with him at TAR.  It was odd to see a familiar face so far from home and it cheered me up.

I stayed almost the entire day on HWY 50 heading east.  HWY 50 is an interesting road, either long, flat and boring or "Oh God, Oh God we're all going to die."  As I rode I thought about all the twisty mountain roads I had been on this trip and felt that I had diminished some of my fear of twisty mountain roads by this point.  Next year we will be taking about 6 bikes into Oatman, AZ up Sitgreaves Pass.  I had been very afraid of this road but honestly, I was doing some very similar riding all this trip.  I'll just talk everything at the posted speed and let all the Ducati's pass me going 90 and I'll be fine.

Once I broke past the Mountains the chill and the raid went away but then the heat started.  The high here in Pueblo is 104.  104 degrees in Pueblo, Co.  I think that's just wrong.  Tomorrow will not be much better in Dodge City.  I was thinking to myself during the ride today that I love to travel but I absolutely hate leaving and coming back to Texas.  I just don't think there is any pretty way to do it.  Except maybe coming from the northeast.  Going to Arkansas can be pretty almost the whole way.  Maybe that's why we end up going there so much.

I loved staying at the El Rey Inn in Santa Fe and at the Ouray Hotel in Ouray.  Neither are chain hotels and both are charming but lacking in upscale amenities.  I had booked myself into the Mariott here in Pueblo because there was one here and I have to say, walking into the uniformed tasteful blandness of my room and finding a room service menu and bell hops to take away my luggage cart....It was great.  It's an entirely different type of relaxation.  I think I'll even order room service for breakfast tomorrow.  That way I can eat while I pack everything up and then be ready to go. 

I have a new goal for tomorrow.  I'm going to eat lunch.  I skipped lunch today trying to beat the heat into Pueblo.  Do you know what that got me?  Hot and hungry.  Tomorrow, I don't care how late it puts me into Dodge City I'm eating lunch.

Lots of rambley bits in my head today.  I think that's all of them.  Now to unwind before I fall into bed.  Tomorrow is a long, hot, boring ride to Dodge City.  Did I mention how much I hate riding back into Texas?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

I've always been told that my sidecar handles more like an ATV than a motorcycle.  Today I got the chance to find that out for myself.  I'll cut to the chase and tell you that they are mostly correct.  I remember thinking at one point in the ride that a sidecar is all the fun and twice the terror of an ATV.

I had rented and ATV and went on a guided ride with a local company here in Ouray.  That means that I had someone riding in front of me with more experience and who knew where they were going.  I had chosen to do a half day ride to Yankee Boy Pass because it was considered an easy ride.  Since it was my first day on an ATV and since I have to ride to Pueblo tomorrow, I didn't want to push myself.  It was a glorious ride, the scenery was wonderful, the weather was cool, and the road went from easy peasy to just challenging enough.  After we did the pass my guide offered to take me to an Alpine Lake.  The trail would be more technical that what we had been doing but he let me know if I got into trouble to just stop and he would come back and help me out.  I didn't need any help.  With the ATV, I could go places the sidecar can't.  However, it is an easier machine to handle than the sidecar is so I actually was a bit ahead on my skill levels than another novice ATVer.  Like I said, all the fun and twice the terror.  I enjoyed my day and  would like to ride an ATV again.  Is it better than my sidecar.  Nope, not by a long shot.

I did get some pictures from my ride but haven't processed them yet, they'll be up soon. Tomorrow, I start my homeward run.  I'll be in Pueblo tomorrow and it will be hot (like 101).  So I want to leave early.  See everyone in Pueblo.

By the way, although I don't want to get into the details here, this was a very significant date for me.  Not just Bastille Day. Today three years ago I lost the most important woman in my life.  Today's ride, today's new experience, was in honor of her.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Nature of Adversity

I'm in Ouray and surprisingly I have Internet so the blog continues.

I expected solo touring to have it's own set of difficulties and it certainly has.  The loneliness that I had avoided set in last night and today I've been thinking about why and what it teaches me about myself.  Let me begin by telling you that my ride from Durango over Lizard Head Pass to Ouray was everything one could want except for the traffic construction that kept holding me up.  It was exciting and long and towards the end, hot.  When I got into Ouray I was not in the best of shape.  Ever since Santa Fe, I had been battling with the altitude.  It caused me to tire easy and be short of breath and caused my heart to pound rather alarmingly.  Durango was lower so it was better there but Ouray was higher than I had been so far and it was much worse here.  So, tired, hot, out of breath and facing hauling my luggage up a set of stairs to my room.  I then went across the street to the very excellent Ouray Brewery for a burger and a beer.  It's a great little joint and I really wanted Mr. Man there.  I think he would like it.  The food is good and simple and not fancy, the beer is very excellent and the music was really really great and people kept singing along to the music.  Not is a weird Karaoke way just in a I like this song way.  I think this is what started the lonely.

I was lonely but the amazing crying jag I had that night was really about being tired and being upset with  myself for not handling the altitude well.  Loneliness was just an easier emotion for me to feel.  I don't always deal well with tired.  I don't always know when I'm tired and my five year old takes over.  And take over it did.  As for the altitude problems, that actually goes back farther than this trip.  I've never been in great shape, even when I was 110 pounds and a size 3.  I am certainly no longer either of those things.  Recently I've moved away from my decade long hunt to loose weight and be thinner.  I've begun making changes in my life that make it easier for me to do the things I want to do.  I've been in the gym with a trainer in order to make this trip easier.  It has, I can tell a vast improvement in my performance on the road and in my endurance.  When I get back from this trip I intend to work with a nutritionist in order to rethink my food for the same reasons.  I've given up my fruitless journey to be thinner and am working on a new journey to live a fun-filled and exciting life.  That being said, such a shift in my thinking can't happen all at once and it's easy to fall back into believing that my problems are all because I'm fat and out of shape.  Fat I may still be but out of shape does not really apply anymore.  I was having a hard time remembering that last night.  I felt like if I had worked harder then I would be breathing better, my heart rate would be lower.  I mean I had done all this hard work to make the trip easier.  Why was it so hard?  It must be my fault, I hadn't worked hard enough, I was too heavy, too lazy, too useless.

All this crashed on top of me last night and it just felt lonely.  It took me all night to unravel everything I was feeling so that I could look at everything.  Tired I could fix by going to bed so put that aside, it can be dealt with shortly.  The upset over the altitude had to be addressed.  I thought about the ride I had just done.  It was hard.  It was twisty and carved into the side of a mountain.  I was able to engage more of my body to navigate the curves.  My shoulders thanked me for the beating they did not take.  My back thanked me for the pain it was not in.  I had done well to prepare for this and I should be proud.  Altitude sickness effects people regardless of how in shape they are.  It was frustrating and unfortunate but not my fault.  Today I still felt like people were staring at me, staring and the fat chick wheezing her way down the street.  I wanted to yell at them, "I'm in better shape than you!  You're going to go home and sit on your couch in your size 8 jeans and eat ice cream.  I'm going to go to the gym with my trainer and continue to work on my strength and my cardio health."  Fortunately for me, I didn't have the breath to yell.

The loneliness was dealt with by a long call to Mr Man including seeing his face.  I also got up this morning and went down to talk to a man about renting an ATV.  As a result I'm going on a guided ride of Yankee Boy Pass tomorrow on an ATV.  Why an ATV?  Well actually I've always wanted to ride one and while my sidecar is a dual-sport, I have a street back tire.  With all the rain they've had down here, I don't think it's safe.  Also, I would be going off road alone and that is never a good idea.  This way I will still get some off road time in a safer manner.

So that's me, overcoming the daily adversity of solo touring and continuing on my way.  I'm stronger than I've ever been and my endurance in vastly improved.  I've got one more day in Ouray and then I'm heading to Pueblo for the start of the ride home.  The breathing problems will go away once I get lower and I'll feel better.  There will be video soon, I promise.  For now, I'm getting some sleep for tomorrow's adventure.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Things I've Learned So Far

Each trip on the bike is a rolling 70 mph classroom about coping and maximizing enjoyment.  Everyone travels differently and the only way to know how you travel is to travel alone.  I encourage everyone who tours to travel alone because when you discover your style you can then express that to riding companions and it is from that point that compromises can be made and happy group riding will occur.  Apparently I don't like to stop when I'm riding by myself.  I don't like to take pictures, I don't want to go see that neat thing over there.  I want to ride, my experience is the ride, my memory is the ride.  Also, I hate getting out of all my gear only to have to struggle back into it over and over and over again.  I did try to stop and take pictures on my way up to Durango....with my helmet still on because I didn't want to bother taking it off for 5 minutes just to put it back on.  I got ok pictures but my framing certainly would have been better had I taken my helmet off.  I don't mind stopping for lunch or to see the Big Thing/Museum/Natural Beauty that is going to take a while to see and if I'm traveling with Mr. Man I enjoy getting off the bike to take pictures every once in a while.  We can talk about the ride and talk about what we are doing next and talk about his crazy late braking he does going into a curve.  Seriously don't follow this mans brake points unless you also have the crazy.

I've also learned that I like to get up early and get on the road but I don't always leave as early as Mr Man does when he's alone.  I like and need a nice long breakfast and I take longer to get dressed and packed and loaded than he does even when I'm packed minimally.  I don't think its a girl/guy thing because I'm fast and I can get ready faster than at least one of the men we travel with on a regular basis.  I just think it's a me thing.  I prefer to move a tad slower.  But I can move if I need to, tomorrow I probably will be on the road earlier than usual because I do want to be able to linger on the ride and try to stop more and take some pictures so if I leave early, I won't feel so pressed I hope.

I've learned that I'm not lonely traveling alone.  I was a little worried about that but it hasn't been a real issue.  I do have people that talk to me through out the day and strangely I really enjoy the social interaction I have with waitstaff so I've tried to find actual restaurants to eat at and not just fast food.  Also, shopkeepers give me a lot of social interaction.  Once I'm in my room I'm fine.  I have netflix and I have my book and I can listen to my public radio via the internet.  I'm fine, I like my solitude.  I'm glad I chose today to wander around Durango and shop and see and eat.  I got a lot of social interaction from the woman at the wholesale jewelry place who gave me some hints about Ouray to the gay man who stopped to ask me about my bike and ask for hints on where to go in Austin.  It was enough interaction that I was ready to retreat back to my room to blog and then to order Chinese take out.  I'm eager to see friends and family again and would enjoy doing this trip again with company.  I enjoy the companionship you get during a trip as you soak your bones in a hot tub and laugh at each other.  I really love that.  But I love this too.  I love pleasing no one but myself.

I've also learned that I was so very wrong about Highway 84.  I thought it was boring hot road.  It proved me so very wrong the moment we turned north out of Santa Fe to head to Durango.  There were many hill I crested to whisper "Oh My God" as I involuntarily rolled off the throttle because it was that beautiful, the road was that exciting.

I've also learned how to charge my video camera so I should be able to take some video of my ride to Ouray tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are the pictures I did get at my one stop yesterday.

Also, I'm not sure what my internet connectivity will be like in Ouray so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to blog.  I'll see if I can find an internet cafe or something.  I'll be in Ouray for two days, three nights so I'm hoping I can find something.  If not, I'll post again from Pueblo on my way home.

Quick Edit:  I've been tacking my miles daily so I wanted to note that yesterdays ride was 227 miles.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Emercency You Plan for May be Your Own

Yesterday I did my second 300 mile day to Santa Fe.  Now I know that two 300 mile days is possible for me but I need a day to rest afterward.  Still, good to know.

I got gas in Clovis, NM as planned.  My next gas stop was going to be in Santa Rosa, NM about 105 miles away.  I have that range on my tank but I wanted to fill my auxiliary tank just in case I got lost (unlikely, as I had been on HWY 84 since Early, TX and would stay on it all the way to Clines Corners.)  I stopped as planned in Santa Rosa and had lunch and the fantastic Silver Moon Cafe on RT 66.  It was my first non fast food or pizza meal in three days and it was wonderful.  After I paid, the restaurant lost power.  I got on my bike and headed towards a gas station.  As my luck would have it, the whole town had lost power.  That meant no gas to be had because the pumps were all electric.  I realized this at my third attempt to get gas.  I had fifty and then some more miles to my next gas in Clines Corners.  I can maybe go 150 on a tank.  Maybe.  Not, however, going up and down hills in the wind.  So I emptied my 1.75 gallons of spare gas into my tank said a prayer and headed for Clines Corners.  My gas light came on about 18 miles out of Clines Corner.  Even though I know for a fact that I have two gallons left when that light comes on and an easy range of 50 miles I still counted down ever mile until a gas station.  I made it and still had a little over a gallon left in my tank.  Thats maybe 26-30 miles for me.  So that almost two gallons I put in my tank back in Santa Rosa certainly saved me.

Most of that day, I had been riding across the Llano Estacado, the Staked Plains.  An area so flat and featureless I kept hysterically thinking that I would Stake a Plain for interesting landscape.  The road however was surprising curvy for such a flat area.  Eventually I rode over a hill and the landscape that opened up below me made me think of words like "Dry Gulch".  Flat no more the land gave me small ragged valleys of red dirt and scrub dotted with cactus.  Like I had found the foothills of the foothills of the Rockies.  Santa Rosa rose up out of nothing suddenly.  One moment I'm riding in the landscape of desolate beauty that had been my companion for a while and then suddenly there was I40 and three travel centers and a line of charming building lining RT 66.  I40 was a nightmare of high speeds, high winds and counting the miles to gas.  Once I turned to go up to Santa Fe on 285 I was rewarded with gentle sweepers and hills all the way.

The hotel I've chosen is the El Rey Inn.  I've stayed here before with The Diva on our Route 66 trip in 2009 and it's as charming as I remember.  My only problem was the altitude here in Santa Fe has been giving me no end of grief.  I've never had problems before but my first night I got winded walking across my room.  Ten hours of sleep has cleared up a lot of it but I'm having to pace myself. Today I walked around the grounds with my camera a bit then rode to lunch.  Next I plan on sorting through some email and possibly watching a movie.  Tomorrow I head for Durango, Co.

Until then, here are some pictures I got today:

Nightingale in front of my room

Flowers and fountain from around the grounds

Views from the hotel grounds

Saturday, July 7, 2012

So This is Life on the New Bike

My mileage was off.  I had calculated that I would do 280 miles today but I actually did 299 and a little bit.  Lets just call that 300 miles.

300 miles is a big number for me.  At one point on Skylark it was limit of what I could do in a day and I would fall off the bike and drag myself to the hotel room by my knuckles.  Today, I was certainly ready to be done and my sit bones are sore from the seat but....I'm good.  I walked to the room, took a shower, watched a movie, ordered pizza, covered my bike, ate, watched some Netflixx.  I'm good.  If this hotel weren't so isolated, I'd almost consider going out for coffee or something.  I'm not particularly sore or tired.  Part of this is because of the all the hard work I've been doing in the gym but part of it is the bigger, stronger and more ergonomic bike that is Nightingale.  Please don't get me wrong, I love Skylark, she is a fantastic bike.  She is more nimble the Nightingale by...well...a lot and her engine sounds more sexy.  I think next year we may spend some time turning her into a hot little road race.  However, a 300 mile a day bike she is not. 

Today was great.  I mean it's a boring flat ride but I got out early enough that I avoided the heat.  I got to ride under the Windmills that always make me think of the hammers in The Wall.  I saw either a massive dirt devil or a column of smoke from a fire.  I dodged about ten blown tires and dead animals.  I got briefly lost in Abilene when I didn't notice that HWY 83 and HWY 84 had split.  However, it was easily rectified.  Tomorrow I head to Santa Fe.  I need to check the weather as I hear I may have some rain.  Then I think some more Netflixx and then bed.  Tomorrow doesn't have to be quite as early as today was but still, I'd like to get on the road by 8.

Hopefully I'll have some pictures tomorrow and maybe I'll shoot some video.  I've got 270 miles to go unless I miscalculated the mileage again.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Not Quite Day One

Today is more like day .5.  I left work and rode about 130 miles to Early.  This sets me up to make it to Littlefield tomorrow in under 300 miles.

I don't think this trip feels quite real to me yet.  Right now it's all pack and load the bike and then ride in the heat and count the miles to AC and dinner.  No fun at all.  Tomorrow it will be how early can I get out of here to beat the heat.  Again, no fun.  I think it will hit me about Santa Fe.  Maybe I'll be riding and suddenly I'll be like "Shit!  I'm going to Colorado for two weeks on my own.  WooHoo!"

I know I'm excited somewhere inside.  Maybe it's the underlying trepidation I have about the trip that just needs to shake free of my boots.  The small fear that my bike won't make it.  I'll kill the transmission, I'll fry the clutch.  Of course, issues like that were the entire reason I bought the newer, bigger bike.  So far, she's been a trooper.  My poor R90 broke down on me the first two weeks I had her.  I have faith in the bike, faith in the set up of the rig.  I have faith in my abilities to navigate.  To strike the right balance of printed map, written route and GPS.  I just have to shake my doubts loose from me and let them melt away like the dishes I forgot to do before I left.  They serve no purpose for me, they should be ejected from my psyche.

I'm anticipated the excitement starting tomorrow night, when the hard riding is done or perhaps the day after when I pass Clovis, NM and the wasteland that is New Mexico South of I40 where I'm riding. 

For now, I'm checking my route for tomorrow and planning on an early night.  Tomorrow is Day One and I want to be ready.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hi, I'm leaving soon

So on the 6th of July I'm leaving for a two week solo trip to Colorado.  I'm super exciting and a bit nervous.  After all, it will be my first long trip alone.  I'm sure there will be many blog posts to come regarding my adventure but this one is mostly about my itinerary.  The plan is as follows:
Friday 7/6:  Leave after work and ride to Brownwood, TX
Saturday 7/7: Depart to Littlefield, TX (just outside of Lubbock).  There is not way to make this leg fun.
Sunday 7/8: Make the hot and boring trek up to Santa Fe.  There is not way to make this fun either.
Monday 7/9: Burn a day recovering in Santa Fe
Tuesday 7/10: Ride up to Durango, CO
Wednesday 7/11: Explore the Durango area.  Most likely on foot although I won't rule out a bit of riding
Thursday 7/12:  Ride up the long way to Ouray, CO.  I'm not doing the obvious route of taking the Million Dollar Highway.  I mean, I want to ride it someday but it's two lanes on the side of a mountain with large trucks using is.  I'll wait until I'm not alone to do that one.  Instead I'm going over Lizard Head Pass.  I'm hoping it's a cool as it sounds.  I also have the option of taking a dirt road called Last Dollar out of Telluride.  I'll make that call when I'm looking at the turn off.
Friday 7/13: From my home base in Ouray, I'll ride the lovely Owl Creek Pass up to Cimarronn and back to Ouray.  It's dirt and I'm excited.
Saturday 7/14:  Be a slug in Ouray.  There may be a spa day at this point
Sunday 7/15: Head to Pueblo, Co
Monday 7/16: Ride to Dodge City, KS
Tuesday 7/17: Get the Hell out of Dodge and ride to either Yukon, OK or Norman, OK.  I'll see how I feel about that later
Wednesday 7/18 Head to McKinney, TX  to see my Brother, Sister-in-Law, and my fabulous nieces.
Thursday 7/19: Spend the Day in McKinney/Dallas.  See some friends maybe, rest, relax.
Friday 7/20: Head back to Austin.  Fall down
Saturday 7/21: Spa Day (can they do full body paraffin treatments?)

That's my plan folks.  Lets see how it unfolds.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Got My Bike Blessed and Then This Happened

What can I say about today except that it was close to perfect.  The weather was cool enough that I wanted some layers but not so cool that I was uncomfortable.  We checked the radar this morning and saw that bad weather was coming in from the North so we swapped our routes and rode tomorrow's ride today.  We went South so we missed the storms.  We had a little rain this morning first thing but then it was done.  I got to play with half a dozen water crossings today and the rig did fantastic.  I also got to bounce through rocks and the rig again did fantastic.  My shoulders are killing me right now but the rig did great.  I concentrated on maintaining  speed today and I'm very pleased with myself.  I ran a fairly steady speed of between 25-35 miles an hour over just about all the terrain I encountered.  We didn't see any deer and no animals tried to kill themselves in front of my bike.  My bike did not break down and the sun was not glaring down on my helmet.

Yep, this was a perfect day.

For me at least.  Two friends of ours did not check the radar so they went north.  And got rain.  And hail.  And cold.  One of their bikes did break down and while she managed to limp it into to parking lot, she couldn't get it started again.  Two wonderful guys from the CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) came over and performed parking lot surgery.  Apparently the main jet on her carb fell out.  I have never seen a parking lot of grown men turn so pale so fast and then look at the bike and yell "are you kidding me?"  Nope, jet fell out.  I was never screwed in apparently.  After that was fixed, the bike started just fine.  Go fig

Mr Man got plenty of video today so I'm sure than when he has it processed, I'll be posting the You Tube link.  Now for some rest so I can do it again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dear Jesus, Please Don't Run Me off the Road Anymore

Today as I was riding to Junction with Mr Man in my sidecar I saw a billboard.  I can't remember the quote exactly but it was basically "I love you and I'll make sure you have everything you need .  I love you, Jesus".  Wow, I thought, I like that.  It's simple and sweet and not too preachy.  I smiled to myself and felt a moment of peace like Jesus was really smiling on me.  Then I looked at the road and saw that the car in front of me was stopped so they could turn.  "Jesus Christ!" I thought to myself, "Could you maybe not run me off the road with your message of love.  Love, Me."  I may be going to hell a little for that one.

So yes, Junction, TX.  Here we are.  I'm surrounded by overweight older men on BMWs and sprightly older men on KTMs.  Some have their wives driving their support trucks.  Their wives are wearing make up.  I am not and I have my husband navigating for me in my sidecar.  I feel a little like a fish out of water, and a little bit like I'm right where I belong.  The dual sport community is decidedly white and male.  However, they share my gimlet eyed mistrust of the valve cover scraping turns that Mr Man loves so very much.  We spent the day hanging out in the parking lot looking at bikes.  Mine got a lot of attention.  At least until the second sidecar showed up, she had a dog.  That makes her considerably cooler than I am.  I'm OK with that, I don't have to be the cool one.  I have run into a bit of sidecar prejudice.  I've had a few guys absolutely not believe that I could ride off road with the sidecar.  Again, fine with me.  I don't require their acceptance.  I'm just here to ride.  I'll prove the doubters wrong by out riding their asses across the James River.  After all, I have everything I need.  Jesus said so right before he ran me off the road.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting Dirty

It's the night before the Texas Adventure Ride.  We are packing up the last little things and I am testing out posting with my little tablet.  I've been thinking about Dirt and why I love if so much.

Let's all get something clear, I'm very new to dirt.  This is my second big ride involving dirt but I know I love it.  I loved it from the first time I nudged my tire onto something that wasn't concrete.  There is something....primal about off road riding.  Something Zen that invites you to exist inside the flow of life and yet demands that you have control of your bike.  Not too much control though, too much will land you on your butt in the dirt.  You must let the handle bars be easy under your hands and accept the fact that the mild fish tail you are feeling is perfectly normal.

None of my riding friends are dual-sport riders.  That makes me a little sad sometimes but it's ok.  It's scary, it's not for everyone I get it.  Then again, I think twisties on concrete is terrifying and yet I find myself on them quite a bit.  Mr Man and I were talking about dirt and how much it terrifies him.  I know there are risks to adventure riding but they are risks that make me happy.  Just like his risks make him happy.  That's the trick I think, to mesh your risks with your joys.  I love the soft organic feel of dirt, the gritty roughness of gravel.  I love the unknowable destination I sense every time I see a dirt road; this almost overwhelming urge to know, "What's down that way?"  It overcomes my fears, my stress, my everything.  Just let me point my front tire down a dusty road I've never been and let me answer the great question of "where does this go?"

I always hope the answer is "Nowhere"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Like a Boy Scout

When I first started this blog, I intended it to be a travel blog.  Unfortunately since I don't travel all the time, it doesn't get updated as much as I would like.  So I think I'm changing my idea of this blog into a blog about motorcycles and traveling in general.  I'm really going to try to update it more often.  Since I don't deal well with absolutes, I hesitate to give myself a deadline but once a week would be awesome....although probably ambitious.

As I type, we are getting ready for a trip out to Junction, TX to the Texas Adventure Ride (or TAR).  Mr Man is currently walking around the house muttering "ok....ok" while he gathers up electronics to be charged, bagged, and packed.  I am doing laundry (ok so my washer and dryer or doing the laundry but I helped by putting in clothes and adding detergent.)  Yesterday we changed out brake pads and tires and sat at Ihop and routed on paper maps and computers.  All of this drives home to me one of the reasons that Mr Man and I work so well together and that our marriage works so well: We both believe in the mantra "Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance."

Sometimes it looks like we have no plan.  I've watched Mr Man get on his bike and take off with no destination.  That's not the same as not planning.  Planning doesn't always involve Lists and spreadsheet and color coordinated maps.  Planning just involves a Plan.  Our last trip involved a Plan that went as follows:  we will get on our bikes and go traveling in a Northeast direction.  We want to ride around 250 miles a day with some pretty scenery.  We would like some opportunity to get of the bikes and get some pictures but that is not the focus of the trip.  We would like a burn day when we need one of if the town presents something of interest we both want to explore.  We would like to be back home with two days to recover before going back to work.  Added to that plan was the knowledge that my bike was the limiting factor for gas stops (I comfortably only have 150 miles on a tank) and that our bikes were equally matched in power but his had more speed around the corners.  That was the Plan.  It was enough for that trip.

Planning is, at heart, an understanding of expectations.  For our last trip that ended the planning.  In July, I am going to Colorado for my first two week solo trip.  For that trip expectations are only the beginning.  For our TAR trip some parts are list intensive some are not.  I'm spending no time on a packing list.  It should be simple and I've done this enough that I don't need to think about it.  I do, however have to do Laundry.  I did spend a little time on the list of things the bike needs.  It works out well because it marks items off of my to do list for Colorado.  I now have containers for extra fuel mounted and know how I want to proceed with that for the even more fuel I'll want in Colorado.  I have an air compressor for my ties and a tire repair kit.  Usually we pack and load the bike early enough so that we can look at what we've done and then unload and repack and reload....twice.  This time, Mr Man is riding in the tub as my Monkey so there is only one way the bike can be loaded....mark loading the bike early off of the list of things to do.

Now the Routing, that's serious for this trip.  We've looked at google maps to get us to Junction.  Then we've copied maps out of our Mapsco and highlighted out possible off road routes for the weekend.  This morning Mr Man took the copies and had them laminated so that if they got wet (in a water crossing perhaps) we could still use them.  Last night we took the off road routes and made the GPX files to be imported into my Garmin.  My head hurts from the routing.

And that is the sound of the dryer.  My next blog will be from TAR!  BTW, if you want to know, you can find TAR Info here

Texas Adventure Ride