Monday, December 13, 2010

Embarking on an Epic Journey

I have been so fortunate in life and have had many incredible adventures. However, probably the biggest adventure of my life is about to begin. Wait, you ask, how can it get any better? Maybe South America? Maybe Africa? Heck, maybe around the world?

Well, you'll have to keep guessing for a little bit longer before I spill the beans! Just know that it is going to be huge, wonderful and awesome.

More to come.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Zion Boot Run

Moving from the Goldwing to the BMW F650GS I found my feet not at all happy. They got wet and cold, very, very cold. With all the protection along with the venting of engine heat to the feet, I was totally comfortable with my old riding boots on the Goldwing. Never got wet or cold even in the worst conditions. Not so on the BMW. No foot protection equals very cold feet. So, I purchased new boots. Oh yeah baby, some really hot, smoking Italian boots. Officially, Dainese Women's Grace D - Waterproof Boot. Oh boy, waterproof and insulated and very fashionable too! Bitchin boots.
I put them on as soon as they arrived and danced around the house the rest of the afternoon. Occasionally, going out to the garage to sit on the bike and make motorcycle noises. Gee, this was big fun. New boots!

Well, the next day was brilliant. Sunny and warm and I was headed out to meet my motorcycle gang, the Drifters, for lunch. [side note: I'll blog about the Drifters some day - suffice it to say, we're all old but still love to ride and especially love to eat] Since it was so beautiful out and I had new boots, I decided to ride to lunch. I got all geared up and headed out. Right away I noticed that feeling for the shifter was entirely different with new boots. The Dainese boots are much heavier and thicker than what I had been wearing. Okay, this is going to take a bit of getting used to.

Lunch was fun. I think about 20 folks showed up and we all had a good time. Some of the Drifters hadn't seen the new BMW so it was show-off time. New bike, new boots, it doesn't really get much better :-)

After lunch, I decided it was much too nice outside to go to work, so I aimed the BMW toward Zion National Park. A very pleasant ride, virtually no traffic and nothing but sun. When I arrived at the park entrance, I had a nice chat with the Ranger as we both watch a big doe walk across the road right behind my bike. Hmmmmm......

I took the lower canyon which is open to traffic from November until the end of March or thereabouts. I ride here alot so was cautious as I entered areas I knew to be deer fields. Imagine my surprise when I had to stop for this - a turkey crossing. Heck, darn, there were probably 40 big, dumb turkeys!!!

Okay, no problem. Plenty of time to stop and watch the silly birds. After they finally all got across the road, I proceeded with caution. Maybe 30 - 35 mph and constantly sweeping my eyes from side to side to catch any movement. Yup, sure enough, there they were. About a BAZILLION of the little suckers.

Yikes! Several were on the road, so close I could have touched them. On high alert, I proceed down the canyon to the end. Oh, so incredibly beautiful. Zion, at any time of year, is a wonderland. The next few photos are at the end of the lower canyon. This is an area where the rare California Condors nest. I've seen them here a few times and it is simply spectacular. Not today though. Pretty much had the park to myself. A few visitors and surprisingly, no other motorcycles.

Heading back out of the canyon, I stopped to take some scenic shots. Too bad I'm not a great photographer with a good camera. But these will have to do :-)

Zion is simply fabulous anytime of year. I'm very fortunate to live so close.

I simply refer to it as "The Park." There are still many places in the Park that I have yet to discover. One day, I'll actually get off the motorcycle and walk around, maybe even......heaven forbid.....take a real hike into some of the Park's wonders.

On the ride out of the lower canyon I spied even MORE forest rats. Ten Bazillion more. That old wives tale about deer coming out in the morning and late afternoon is just old wives tale. They are everywhere, all the time. And boy, are they STUPID. I wish I had a wide angle to show you just how many deer there were. Just about every turn revealed another bazillion deer in a field, oh, and on the road. Dumb animals.

Blurry picture, but between the trees is a pretty big buck. Nice rack. (See girls can say that too).

Exiting the park, I snapped a few more photos. What an incredible place. I hope everyone gets an opportunity to visit Zion.

So, to wrap up, the new boots are awesome. I've had them on all day both riding and walking (and sitting during lunch) and not a complaint. They fit well and kept my tootsies warm. Well, it wasn't really COLD out so I guess the cold test will have to wait. And, I have no idea if they are really waterproof. Again, that test will have to wait. I have high hopes though. They are very comfortable not to mention stylish and hot. They go well with my silver/black gear. Duh, they are black. LOL.
I only rode about 120 miles but every mile was a huge smile. I'm loving the new F650GS and the new boots.
Stay turned - next blog will probably be Farkle Fest I.

Monday, November 22, 2010

BMW Shakedown and Pink's Ride To Eat

Thursday, November 18, 2010 - My sweet new ride finally arrives! Think I look happy? (Not to mention fashionably color coordinated!)

2011 BMW F650GS delivered with 12 miles on the odometer.
Fresh off the delivery truck just waiting for me to get geared up and hop on for a ride.

Sean, from San Diego BMW Motorcycles drove all the way to my home in Ivins, Utah to deliver the bike. We spent a bit of time setting up the XM radio (I must have my tunes) and tweaking a few things. Before I knew it, I was ready to ride. Well, I had to ask a few questions (no, I didn't read the manual) and then I was good to go. I was headed to Los Angeles for the Pink's Bite the Wiennie ride to eat via San Diego for a first service at 600 miles. So, off I went for a ride around the neighborhood. I was also participating in the Ride the Wiennie Rally where the goal was to gather city names, use the first letter of each city, and spell something clever.
My first stop was a parking lot where my riding buddies had gathered to see the new ride. Hahaha, they were sure surprised to see what I rode up on. I don't think they had any idea of what I was buying or how I was dressing it. That was big fun. They all had to poke at things, push buttons, sit on it, ask questions, poke some more. Then, I was off to start my rally. First stop was Dammeron Valley for breakfast at the Red Dog Cafe. Yum yum, Monte Cristo sandwich with hashbrowns and coffee. That's the way to start your day. (Never did use the "D" in my clever saying, but at least I had it if I needed it).

Next stop was Veyo, UT.

Then New Castle, UT.

Followed by Enterprise, UT.
Then, my hometown, Ivins, UT.
Stopping at my hometown, my friends Tom and Pam hopped on their Goldwing and followed me for more bonus hunting. We headed down Highway 91 and stopped at Beaver Dam, AZ.
Then Mesquite, NV

Back to Ivins for a sleep then up early the next morning to pursue more bonus locations and get to San Diego for that service. Heading out, I picked up Maopa Valley, Logandale and Overton.

Then, back to I-15 to haul down the highway. Huge traffic jam just before Primm, NV. They had the freeway down from 3 lanes to 1 lane for road construction. I got lots of slow riding practice for many miles. This ate up a lot of time, however, I quickly learned to be aggressive with the new ride to keep my place in line. Moving on, I stopped at Yermo, CA for a bonus shot and a late lunch at Peggy Sue's Diner. You must stop here at least once. Old fashioned diner with 50's & 60's music playing. A life size Elvis and more music and movie star paraphenalia than one can imagine. Oh, and decent food too. I'll definitely stop here again. Plus, the waitresses are all dressed in 50's style uniforms and little caps. Good fun here!
After Yermo, it was getting a bit late, so I quit bonus hunting and high-tailed it toward San Diego. I ran into traffic issues in San Bernardino and Temecula....oh well. Going over Cajon pass, I had an interesting moment. I have a CB radio on the bike and I heard a trucker say, "Look at that European sport bike with the Storm Trooper wearing a matching jumpsuit. Just drives me crazy, those futuristic looking dudes on their sci-fi motorcycles". Jeez, I didn't, but I really wanted to say, "First, it's not a sport bike, it's a dual purpose bike (but of course they wouldn't understand) then say I'm not a dude and then say, the matching gear was not intentional, it just happened, have a nice day". But, I didn't. I figured if I pissed them off, they were way bigger than I was :-).
Moving on getting closer to my goal is where I had a seat issue. The stock seat on the F650GS just plain old sucks. My butt hurt! I tried shifting around but eventually, I had to take the next exit and get off the bike. Wouldn't you know, the next exit put me in a low-rent trailer park area. A bit shady would be a nice description. Oh well, I could not ride another mile. So, pull over and off the bike to walk around, smoke a ciggie or two, rub my buns all while watching it get darker and darker.

I arrived in San Diego around 5:20 pm. It was dark by the time I got there, but I knew I didn't have to ride another mile so I was happy. I had well over the 600 miles required for the first service, so I checked in and gathered my gear. San Diego BMW Motorcycles is absolutely a first class operation. Within minutes of my arrival, I was warmly welcomed, service detail written up, issues and needs discussed and a ride to my hotel waiting. I really can't say enough good stuff about this dealership. From management, to sales, to parts and service (and the IT guy as well), everyone was awesome in their welcome, friendship and service. I'm so glad this is where I decided to make the purchase.

Shortly after checking in, I was in a toasty car being chauffered to my hotel. Got checked in and tucked in. Life is good :-)
Next morning, Chris Ogden met me at my hotel where we had a delicious breakfast and hung out for a bit, waiting for a call saying my bike was ready. Around 1:00 pm we returned to the dealership where the mechanics set about working on the ergonomics for me. There was a lot of tweaking here and there to get things just right. I already mentioned Sean who delivered my bike, but Bruce (the mechanic) and Tony the Service Guy also took very good care of me to make sure everything was perfect. We actually spent quite a bit of time getting things right, but that is okay. I wanted everything to be right.
I have to mention that Saturday was miserable weather in San Diego. Huge thunder storms and boat loads of rain was the plan for the day. I'm kind of glad the service and tweaking took longer than expected. That kept me out of the rain for several more hours than anticipated. Finally everything was as good as it was going to get and we departed. Unfortunately, my aux lights had not arrived nor had the throttle lock. So they will have to wait for another day. I also decided on the ride down that I must get highway pegs so I can have more options on riding positions. Again, another day for that. I was as good as I was going to be and I was mighty happy with what I had going on.
The best part, my custom Cee Bailey seat was waiting for me in San Diego. Whoopee! No more stock, cut my buns seat. Cee Bailey is well known for their after market windscreens, but have recently entered the custom bike seat market. They have been doing airplane seats for a long time so they know what they are doing. My seat looked wonderful. I couldn't wait to try it out.
Chris and I left just as a huge downpour was slacking off. Into the rain we rode. I still needed two W's and an E to complete my rally. From San Diego, it was an easy ride to Escondido. The E was in the bag.

In and out of rain showers, in and out of traffic. All of a sudden it was dark and rainy and lots of traffic. Nice :-) Off the freeway now and on to little two lane, dark, wet, rainy roads to score a W with Wildomar. Back on the freeway for a bit to another little two laner to score the final W with Walnut. I would post the pictures but they are dark and you would have to zoom in to find the names, but hey, I got them...Woohoo, mission accomplished.
We made a dinner stop and then headed toward Los Angeles and to meet at Pink's Hot Dog Stand in Hollywood for the Ride to Eat. Lots of freeways. I'm sure glad Chris was leading because he lives there and knows the freeway system. ICK....dark, wet, traffic and freeways. Thanks Chris!!!

Arriving at Pink's we find a number of riders already there. Oh, what good fun! Many folks I had met before and then meeting new people. Really cool to meet someone I had interacted with on the Internet but not met in person. It was just fantastic. Heidi Still was the only participant in the farkle your bike contest, so I guess she won hands down! She did an excellent job.
Our Rally Master, Jerry White arrives on his new to him Goldwing!
Two of my buddies, Heidi and Chris !!
Hanging out in Pink's parking lot, Doug Barrett and other LD Riders.
Two of my very favorite people, Wendy and Mike Crockett.
Waiting in line at Pink's to order a gourmet hotdog (and onion rings!)

I had a terrific time and submitted my rally paperwork. Guess what I spelled? Go figure from the earlier photos - I spelled "I love my new BMW". hahhahaha How appropriate. I do love my new BMW, especially with the Cee Bailey custom seat!
Stayed in LA that night then up the next morning for yet another bonus. I met my friend Gail (along with Chris) for breakfast. The fun thing is, I've known Gail for years as a business person via the telephone, but had never met her. We finally get to meet. That was terrific good fun. Lovely breakfast, hanging and talking. Whee...Then, after some Cycle Gear shopping, I'm back on the bike heading toward Victorville, CA. Chris is kind enough to ride with me and boy, do we go through some horrific weather. Fortunately, that ice rain and hail turns to sunshine (although still very cold). Chris and I part at Victorville. He heads back to LA and I check into a hotel.
Funny side note - the hotel owner noticed I was riding a sweet new bike and suggested I pull my bike into the room. What???? Yes, you heard that correctly. I couldn't believe it. Yes, he says. Pull that sweet ride right into the room. Huh??? Well, I just locked it up and covered it up and went to bed. But, gee, how cool is that? He really wanted me to pull the bike into the room! All was good and no issues in the morning.
I would have carried on toward home but the forecast was for snow at Mountain Pass, CA which was still on my way home. So, hotel and early night was a good call. I got up the next morning, geared up and headed out. Brrrrrr.....cold. 32 was the low and 52 was the high. Winds the entire ride home. When I finally got to Mountain Pass, there was snow and ice on the shoulders and outside lanes. The center lane was dry and clear so that's where I stayed. Glad I didn't try that route the night before!
Also very glad I had my electric gear on. That kept me toasty. I didn't even think about the seat, so the Cee Bailey gets huge thumbs up for me. If I didn't think about it, it was doing it's job. Yay. I think I love the seat. No sore buns on the ride home. Fortunately, there was little traffic and absolutely no issues on the way home. I just got on I-15 and rode on. Lots of LEO's but I was not pushing it so no issue for me. Stopped in North Las Vegas for lunch then punched it on home.
I'll post another day about all the farkles and how things are getting worked out. For now, I'm loving the ride. Light weight, responsive, quick, lots of power. Comfortable now that I've sorted things out. I'm thinking I'll really be happy with this new little ride. Big thanks to all who have helped me in this endeavor and who have enjoyed the journey.
Cheers, Cletha

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Visit to See My New Ride

Since I was already in Southern California, I decided to go another 150 miles and check out my new BMW F650GS which is currently stabled at San Diego BMW Motorcycles. Following my 200 mile test ride several weeks ago, I pulled the trigger and ordered a 2011 with all options except the tire pressure monitoring system. Now, I'm second guessing my decision on that! Oh well. The bike arrived at Gary Orr's dealership and is staying there until all the farkles and goodies are installed.
I can hardly wait to get it home and start putting on the (s)miles.
The photos show a bare bike, waiting to be well dressed. To that end, I'm adding a boatload of extras. Well, to be honest, almost everything is an "extra" for this model. I want it to be a comfortable long distance mount so I'm having a custom seat made by Cee Bailey. Yes, they do more than windscreens! Hopefully, the seat will be finished and returned to San Diego for installation prior to delivery.
A list of some goodies:
BMW aluminum saddlebags and topcase (I love that rugged aluminum adventure look)
Bag liners
Heated Grips
Taller V-Stream windscreen
Mirror extenders
BMW hand-guards with spoilers
Mounting cradle and wiring for Zumo
Spot tracker mount
CB Radio
HID High and Low beam conversion
HID Running lights
Headlight guard
Engine protection guards
Skid plate
Throttle Lock
J&M audio integrator with cables
LED brake light with harnessFront mudguard extender
Heated clothing harness
Volt meter
Pivot pegs
Bar Risers
Everything is either already at the dealer or backordered. Gary's terrific parts guy, Sean, has taken good care to see that I'm getting everything I ordered. We spent a lot of time going over various parts and scrutinizing different ideas on how to best set up the bike. I'm pleased to say that San Diego BMW did a lot of research to come up with the best solutions. Of particular importance is the low electrical power output compared to the goodies I wanted to add - i.e., heated gear plug, HID light conversion, aux lights, Zumo, XM, CB, etc. And, of course, I want to run all the power gear at the same time! Gary and Sean came up with excellent solutions and we added a volt meter just so I can keep tabs on the power output.
Another area we spent quite a bit of time discussing was the ergonomics of the bike. Thus, we added bar risers to bring the handlebars closer to me and pivot pegs to lower the pegs a bit. We also added the taller windscreen and custom seat. I think I'll be happy with these modifications at the end of the day.
Once I get the bike home, I'll be adding a 4 gallon aux fuel cell to be mounted over the pillion seat using a custom (to be fabricated) bracket. Once complete, it should be an ultimate Long Distance machine.
I'm terribly impatient and want it NOW, but I hope to take delivery sometime after November 11. I'll post an update and more photos when I actually get to throw my leg over the saddle and ride into the sunset.