My Motorcycle Blog: Memorable Rides
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law
* November, 2006 blog *
* October, 2006 blog *
* September, 2006 blog *
* August, 2006 blog *
* July, 2006 blog *
* June, 2006 blog *
* May, 2006 blog *
* April, 2006 blog *
* March, 2006 blog *
* February, 2006 blog *
* January, 2006 blog *
* December, 2005 blog *
* November, 2005 blog *
* October, 2005 blog *
* September, 2005 blog *
* August, 2005 blog *
* July, 2005 blog *
* June, 2005 blog *
* May, 2005 blog *
My 2007 Lone Star Rally Run
November 4, 2007:
This was my third time to attend the Lone Star Rally in Galveston. Last year, John and I had planned to attend, but his Harley picked up a flat just a couple of blocks from my house, so he had been unable to go with me. This year, I was determined that we would make it to the Rally together. I mean, what were the odds of bike problems two years in a row?
My planning for the ride began as I neared mile 5000 on my bike. I did not want to hit mile 5000 at the start of our all-day outing, so I pushed hard to get to mile 5000 on the Tuesday before the Rally. That way Stubbs could get it serviced before any last minute rush by other bikers. I also emailed John to see if he was interested in a Galveston ride, and whether he preferred Saturday or Sunday.
John and I settled on a Sunday run. Maria and I were out of the house most of Saturday. When we got back home, there was an email from John asking me if it was okay if Nadine joined us. Around 9 p.m. I emailed John back that I would be happy to see Nadine, but that we would be a threesome, not a foursome because (1) I had not yet purchased a sissy bar (one of Maria's requirements for two-up riding); (2) even if I had made the purchase, I was not going to make my first two-up trip be all the way to Galveston; and (3) Maria was going to spend Sunday at the Quilt Festival.
I reminded him not to forget that the time changed at 2 a.m. Sunday as we fell back one hour to standard time. My mistake was in not telling Nadine, who I later learned, arose at normal time, got dressed, and asked John why he was delaying getting ready. Only then did she realize that she had arisen at the new 5 a.m. instead of the old 6 a.m. Oh well.
We planned to leave at 7:30. Because of the time change, I spent my extra hour that morning at a leisurely pace. I checked the air in the tires, pre-positioned the bike in the driveway, started coffee, and even managed to go with Maria on a short walk with Sarah, our golden retriever.
John and Nadine arrived right on schedule from Kingwood. Either John is an excellent judge of time and distance, or they circled a few blocks to coordinate their arrival time. Anyway, Sarah announced their presence by happy barking and much tail wagging. John and Nadine had had their own golden, named Cody, but he had passed recently. Nadine gave Sarah many hugs and commented on how much she had missed having a dog around.
After John and Nadine had finished their coffee, we headed for the bikes. John showed me how easy it was to use the detachable side rails for his sissy bar/luggage rack combination. He also showed me the new mirrors he had for his bike. They included a regular mirror, plus an additional convex circle to increase the field of view to the rear. Neat.
It was 7:50 by the time we rolled out. I told John to take the lead, and that I would follow. We had decided to eat breakfast at the Mosquito Café , 628 14th Street, in Galveston. Normally, when John and I ride to Galveston, I lobby for breakfast at the Hotel Galvez. Until recently, they made a great eggs Benedict entré that I much enjoyed. Sadly, they have converted to a "made to order omelets" operation. John, who had tried it recently, was not impressed with paying eleven dollars to stand in line for his breakfast. Thus, I had to come up with a new venue for breakfast.
Of course, it was Saturday night before I found the time to do my search. It reminded me of the saying, "If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done." Anyway, I googled "best breakfast Galveston" to see what the internet had to offer. Two restaurants kept coming up. The first was the Mosquito Café . I immediately liked the reviews, especially those praising their version of eggs Benedict. The second restaurant was Apache Mexican Cuisine, at 511 20th Street. This time, eggs Benedict beat out huevos rancheros, so our route was settled.
We agreed that we would get on I-10, merge onto I-45, and take Broadway to 14th, go toward the Strand and stop at the Mosquito Café . My decision to let John lead the way was based upon the fact that he was carrying a passenger. I figured that he needed to set the pace and have first dibs at lane placement to insure the safety of Nadine. So off we went.
I had gassed up at the end of Saturday's ride, so we proceeded directly to the feeder road for I-10, and got on the freeway. The outside temperature was in the mid 50's, with a steady rise expected. Because I don't yet have saddlebags, this presented a haute couture dilemma. I didn't want to wear long Johns or my Polartec Windbloc turtleneck all day long, especially when noon-time temperatures were predicted to be in the mid-80's. But I didn't want to freeze on the way to Galveston either. My solution was to fold a thirty-three gallon trash bag into a square and fit it under my jacket. My thought was that it would block the wind and keep my chest warm, and I could take it off when I arrived in Galveston. (John and Nadine both declined my offer to similarly equip them.) As soon as we reached freeway speeds, the bag proved its usefulness. I had donned glove liners, and, along with the plastic garbage sack, I was comfortably warm on the ride over.
Because it was so early, traffic was not too heavy. In fact, it seemed that the traffic coming from Galveston was about as thick as that going to the Rally. I almost got a case of tennis elbow in my left arm from giving the biker wave to riders headed toward Houston. I was surprised that so many bikers had arisen so early to return from Galveston. I had figured most bikers would sleep late. It made me worry that there would be no tables left at the Mosquito Café by the time we arrived.
The trip to Galveston was uneventful--which was a good thing. When we came to 14th Street, we turned left and found the Mosquito Café on the right. I was relieved to see empty parking spots in front of the restaurant. It wasn't yet 9 a.m., and there were plenty of tables left.
Once we entered, I immediately liked the setup of the restaurant. There were lots of tables inside, and a nice patio outside. You place your order at a counter, get your coffee mug, and find a table so they can bring you your breakfast. A variety of newspapers are available to read (including the New York Times). While we were studying the menu, several patrons recommended the Breakfast Bowl. I decided to go with vox populi and try the eggs Benedict on a later visit.
I was very pleased with my choice. The Breakfast Bowl consisted of fried potatoes, bacon, sauteed spinach, cheese, and a couple of eggs. On top of the bowl was an interesting piece of spiced toast. Very filling. The French Roast coffee was also nice. John and Nadine both had a quiche dish, and were similarly pleased. For the dog lovers among you, I also noted that at a couple of tables the diners were accompanied by their dogs--all of whom were well behaved. The dogs, I mean.
Just before ten, we finished up and headed for the Rally. As we were leaving, we came face to face with a common parking problem of motorcycles. When we had arrived at the Mosquito Café , I had been the first to pull in. Because the slots on each side of the open space I had selected were occupied, I just pulled in head first on the left-hand edge of the slot. John followed suit, parking on the right-hand edge. When it came time to leave, a problem presented itself. The parking spaces were slanted markedly to the gutter. That meant that backing the bikes out with leg power was difficult.
John, having brought an assistant, had Nadine push his bike while he reverse duck walked it up the incline. She did an admirable job, and celebrated by jumping on the back of the bike. That left me on my own to figure out how to get my bike up the slope.
First, I pushed back with all my might. The bike moved backwards about three inches. As I raised my legs to back up some more, the bike rolled back to the curb! I tried Plan B. This time, when I gained the three inches up the incline, I clamped on the front brake lever and held the hard-won ground. I repeated this over and over until the three inch increments added up to about three feet. By then, I was really feeling my thigh muscles. Fortunately, I was able to make a hard turn of the front wheel and accelerate out of the parking spot. It made me appreciate why bikers everywhere go out of their way to maneuver into a parking spot so they can get out under power. I resolved to permanently join their ranks--starting immediately.
When we left the Mosquito Café , I headed west. I wanted to check out Apache Mexican Cuisine. Unfortunately, because of the numerous blocked off streets, I was not able to wind my way to the 500 block of 20th from where we were. Oh well.
Instead, we made our way to the Strand, and parked on a side street (with our front tires facing the street) and headed for the vendor tables.
The downtown portion of the Lone Star Rally uses the Strand for parking and for the gauntlet you can ride down to show off your bike (and sometimes your passenger's fashion choices). The side streets are closed off for a block or two along the Strand, and vendor tents are set up. Most of the vendors sell t-shirts with various slogans on them, inexpensive leathers and lots of patches.
Each year I pick up a cloth patch and a metal patch for this Rally. I don't yet own a motorcycle vest, but I figure that when I get around to that purchase, I will have the patches ready to go.
This year, however, everyone was sold out of Rally patches and pins. All I heard was that they could be ordered from the website, Lone Star Rally.com.
I was generally disappointed by the quality of the vendors at this year's Rally. There were many t-shirt vendors, but few sellers of other merchandise--at least when compared to the last two years. I never saw Antelope Creek Leather, nor were the chaps vendors there with the chap-wearing young ladies to help you with a custom fit.
We did come across the Condor motorcycle support system. The product looked well thought-out and was offered at a fair price. It was set up to make it easy to transport your bike in a pickup or on a trailer. Unfortunately, they had no models for PT Cruisers. John was really tempted to get the stand, but, in the end, he passed.
Another nice booth was the Zooke lens cleaner system. I had seen these guys at previous shows, and was impressed by the anti-fog qualities of the product. Fortunately, my Arai full-face helmet almost never has any fogging problems. Still, the vendor demonstrated how clean the Zooke wax could make my glasses and visor. I sprang for a complete set of products, including a spray cleaner,cleaning wax and Zooke drops. All for the low-low price of $37.00.
With my wallet considerably lighter, we continued our browsing of the booths. Nadine's birthday is coming up, and John considerately made multiple offers to get her various motorcycle jewelry and apparel, and she just as considerately declined. I made it clear that we would wait if she wanted to try anything on, but my argument held no persuasive force.
Although the chaps ladies were nowhere in sight, I was impressed with the costumes of the lasses from Toxic Ink. And, although there were multiple tattoo and piercing booth in evidence, these ladies seems to confine themselves to sporty t-shirts with sometimes bold and sometimes esoteric slogans emblazoned across the fronts. Discretion prevents me from repeating most of the slogans. Suffice it to say that I learned the meanings of several combinations of initials I had not encountered before.
LoJack was present with brochures and coozies. We took some of each. I am sure John and I will get LoJack put on once we decide to do overnight trips. I don't think I could sleep well at night with my bike outside a motel room unless LoJack is on it.
We also came across the QWI Nerve Protection Gloves booth. This was a crowded booth. Many of us have experienced finger and thumb numbness. The QWI Nerve Protection Gloves come with soft gel pads that are supposed to decrease or eliminate finger numbness. Unfortunately, the gloves on display seemed to use very thin leather. I was not comfortable with their ability to protect my hands in the event of a crash. I passed.
My last purchase was of a Cruise Assist wrist rest. It is a piece of plastic that goes over the throttle grip and allows one to rest one's palm on the plastic and continue pressure to the throttle. It sounded like a good idea at the time, and was only $10. (Note: I tried this device out the day after the Rally and found it too awkward to leave on the bike.)
We also visited booths offering to paint your bike and ones offering to put on LED lights. And did I mention the t-shirt vendors?
After about three hours of visiting booths, John was ready to head somewhere for tea. I was ready for tea. Nadine was still thinking about a tattoo. Okay, not really.
We headed back to the bikes and rode to Seawall Boulevard. It was blocked off for the Miss Lone Star Rally contest. Which we skipped (darn), except that I spied a micro-bikini clad young lass on the back of a Harley, and assumed that she was one of the contestants. Seemed to have all the requisite qualifications, anyway.
John worked his way around all the blocked intersections to a Whataburger, where we stopped for lunch.
After a hamburger and several glasses of tea, we were ready to head back home. Normally, John peals off I-45 at Highway 59 and I continue on home. This time, I let him know that I had a fifty percent off coupon from Half Price Books, and that I would be following John and Nadine north on Highway 59 to FM 1960.
So we started back. Traffic was much heavier, but still not horrible.
As we traveled up Highway 59, I gave John and Nadine a farewell wave and accelerated away to FM 1960. I pulled into the parking lot for Half Price Books and spend a pleasant hour browsing the shelves. I purchased a few DVD's and enough books to tax the holding ability of my Vanson jacket. Fortunately, everything fit, albeit barely. I headed home well before five p.m.
When back on I-10, I took the Heights exit and doubled back to fill up the tank. I took three gallons of gas, and the tripometer had 150 miles on it. Not bad mileage, and a great day from beginning to end.
I headed home, ready for more riding to come. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.
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For the November, 2006, blog entries, click here.
For the October, 2006, blog entries, click here.
For the September, 2006, blog entries, click here.
For the August, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the July, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the June, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the May, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the April, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the March, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the February, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the January, 2006, blog entries, click here.
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For the December, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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For the November, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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For the October, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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For the September, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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For the August, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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For the July, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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For the June, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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For the May, 2005, blog entries, click here.
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*Note to Law Enforcement:
All statements of speeds on various streets are simple estimates, and solely for novelity purposes. Actual speeds vary, but are always lower. I'm sure that legal speed limits are never exceeded, anything in this blog to the contrary nowithstanding.