My Honda Rebel 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 *
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"Twenty-one for Twenty-one: Part One" (December 30, 2006)
Earlier in the month, John Huval, my riding buddy, sent me a cryptic email suggesting a ride on December 30, 2006, to celebrate a mileage milestone of his. Even though it was weeks away at the time, I accepted.
I didn't hear any more about the ride until after Christmas. I sent him an email, asking if the ride was still on, and he replied that it was. Unfortunately, rain was expected the Friday before the ride, so we had to keep the appointment "tentative."
On Friday night, the 29th, the rain had arrived, and was expected to continue into the morning hours on Saturday. I don't like to ride the freeways in the rain, so we arranged to call each other on Saturday at eight to see what we were going to do. I asked John what the mileage goal was, but he said I would just have to wait and see.
Around 3:30 am on Saturday, I got up and trudged down the stairs to the computer. I checked the windows. The streets were damp, but it was not actively raining. The weather radar at Weather.com also showed that we were between rain cells. However, there was a gigantic cell perched over Austin, and moving our direction. I went back to sleep.
At eight o'clock, the rain band was still in Austin, and the streets in the Heights were dry. Unfortunately, it was wet in Kingwood, so we decided to make it an 11:30 am departure, assuming that a deluge did not hit. Which it did not.
Just before 11:30, John roared up on his Harley Softail. . There is no mistaking the comforting rumble of a Harley. I had already checked the air in the Rebel, and given the bike a much needed bath. John announced that he needed 42 miles to reach his goal, and that he had brought both a digital camera and a camera phone to record the odometer. He was still keeping the actual mileage secret. I decided to pack my camera also.
We had both gotten gas earlier. So, without further ado, we headed out. John decided that a ride to Galveston would get him where he needed to be. I pointed out that Galveston was farther away than 42 miles, and that he should make sure he wasn't on the Causeway when the big mileage event rolled around, or he could forget the pictures.
John has a favorite hamburger joint in League City, and that became our goal. It was agreed that I would take the lead until we got onto I-45, and then John would take over. He could then exit as needed to make sure we were on residential streets when it came time to preserve the big moment.
When we went out to the bikes, John pointed out his new Boss Bags . He had replaced the H-D saddlebags with a set of really neat black leather bags. They have almost twice the carrying capacity of the H-D bags, and looked really substantial. The sides were reinforced so that bag-sag was eliminated.
I took John over to the Rebel. When I had picked it up from Stubbs after getting a new set of tires back on December 8th, Maria had followed me home. She noticed that I was almost invisible at night. This was due to the fact that the tail light was out.
But I couldn't find the tail light. I don't know why. I found the license plate light. It worked. The rear blinkers worked. And, with Maria watching, I applied the brakes and the brake light came on. Now, I know what you're thinking. The tail light and brake light are the same blub, just with dual filaments. I "knew" that too. It's just that, for reasons unknown, I somehow thought that the dual filament bulb was in the blinker housing. I had taken one of the blinker housings apart, and been puzzled to note that the bulb had only a single filament.
All of this was going through my mind as I brought John over to look at the situation. I started to say that Honda had made the bike without a tail light (which was totally unlikely), when I "saw" the tail light. It's like it just jumped out at me. John was too kind to question my sanity (out loud, anyway), so I just made note that I needed to get to Stubbs pdq to get the bulb.
After that interlude, we hopped on our bikes and headed out. I got us on I-45, and John took the lead. At this point, I must share a secret with the readers. As I later found out, John had been working hard to get within striking distance of his goal, so he could be sure of making it on the 30th. I also had been working on a goal. I decided I wanted to have 21,000 miles on the bike before year end. Constant rain and the holidays had made that goal elusive. But I put on two good runs on Thursday and Friday, and I was exactly 100 miles short of the 21,000 at the start of Saturday's ride.
So, all I had to do was look at my odometer, and I could tell at a glance how close John was to his goal. My odometer would read 20,942 when John's big event came up. And I figured I would easily make my goal as well, because it was unlikely that he could get in his 42 miles without me getting in my 100th mile on the way back.
The traffic was really heavy on I-45. I don't usually get on that freeway after ten in the morning, just for that reason. And we were riding into storm clouds. At about mile 35, John took an exit from the freeway. We rode for quite some time on back roads. The streets were very wet. All the vehicles were kicking up muddy spray, and my bike quickly became dirty. As did my visor. I was afraid John would have to take his pictures in the mist. Ugh.
I don't pretend to know where we ended up, but I think we crossed Delesandri Street and Lawrence. I was pleased to note that we had ridden out of the rain. After circling some streets, John pulled into a parking lot for a Target. He told me he was almost there, and that he was going to ride some circles until the rollover. I have been there and done that when I took the picture of my odometer at mile 12345.6. I pulled over and got out my camera to wait for him to end up back where I was parked. He took off.
I toed my bike into neutral, left the engine running, got out the camera and looked up. I couldn't see John. I had figured he would do some tight circles and pull up for me to read the odometer. But he disappeared on me. I looked and looked. It seemed to be taking a lot longer than it should have for him to reappear. Surely he hadn't been clipped by a car. I was beginning to wonder, when he zipped by, giving me the thumbs up. He made a hard right turn and pulled up along side me. He cut his engine, but left the odometer showing. I walked over, camera in hand.
I looked down at the odometer, and noted that it read an even 12,000. The last time I had checked it out, he had 9,000+ miles on the bike. He had done some hard riding. It was a great accomplishment. We both took a bunch of pictures of the odometer, then rode a half a block to a Chili's restaurant for lunch. His treat.
As we rode into the parking lot for the Chili's, John pulled a move that I really liked. He spotted three empty parking spaces in a row. He pulled into the first one, made a hard right-hand turn, and was facing outward in the spot as he turned off his motor. Very smooth. I made the same move, and parked next to him, also facing outward. If you have ever had to duck walk a motorcycle in reverse, you will understand the advantages of this maneuver.
We both took off our helmets and donned our do-rags. Thus attired, and helmets in hand, we entered the Chili's. There was a waiting line. The greeter was asking for names and the number in your party. When it got to be our turn to tell her, she just looked at us. asked usif we wanted "smoking" or "non-smoking" and said it would be just a minute. She did not ask us for a name. Indeed, the wait was not long. As she escorted me to our table I asked her if she had just written us down as "Biker Boyz, Party of Two." She only laughed.
At lunch, he told me how he had taken a trip to Lafayette, and several to Galveston, all in an effort to get to the mileage goal by the 30th. I was impressed with his efforts. We had a great lunch. Good food and great conversation.
We headed back to Houston. Before leaving the restaurant, I told John I wanted to stop by Stubbs to pick up the light bulb. He was game. He lead the way back to I-45, thank heavens. I'm not sure I could have found my way back without a map.
Once we got on I-45, I took the lead to get us to Stubbs. I took 610 to Telephone. We pulled into the parking lot of Stubbs, and I went inside to get the bulb, and a can of spray lubricant for my chain. (You need to lubricate the Rebel chain every 500 miles, and my first can of spray was all but gone).
We then walked over to the Harley section of Stubbs, and admired the 2007 colors and looked at some of the jackets. John offered to help me put the bulb in, but I told him I had that covered. We headed for home. John told me he was going to take the Highway 59 exit north when we got to it.
As we approached the exit, I saw a car at the side of the road. The driver's side door was open, and the driver appeared to be halfway out of the vehicle. I thought it was an odd place to be parked, and stayed in a lane to the left. John was in the right-hand lane because of his exit. Due to the traffic, we were both going well below the speed limit. Which turned out to be a good thing.
The car was a police car, and the driver was halfway out of the car because he had a radar gun trained right at us. We both escaped unharmed. John let go with a blast of his horn as he headed up north, and I continued on home. When I pulled up to the driveway, I noted that the odometer read 20,979. Irony of ironies. I needed exactly twenty-one miles to make mile 21,000. No sweat, I thought. I could make it easy tomorrow, the last day of the year. And, if I waited till around ten to head out, I could go by a Half Price Books to celebrate the big even. Seemed like a good plan. And the rain was supposed to be gone. So, I foolishly thought, nothing could stop me from reaching my goal. No sweat. Time to relax, wash the bike, take a bath, and do some reading. Which is exactly what I did.
"Twenty-one for Twenty-one: Part Two" (December 31, 2006)
The last day of the year dawned clear and fairly warm for December. I had a relaxing morning. I squeezed in another bath (and more reading). We fixed a nice breakfast, took Sarah for an extended walk, and still made it back to the house just after ten. Half Price was now open. Time to go on that ride.
Because it was 65 degrees, I decided I did not need full winter gear. I suited up, added air to both the front and back tires, and headed out. I had about 82 miles on the tripometer. I decided to top off the tank before getting on the freeway.
I pulled up to the gas station, filled the tank, and turned the key to start the bike. All I got was a whirling sound. I tried again. And again. And again. Nothing but a sickening sound of a starter not starting. I flipped the brights off, to conserve the battery. I duck walked the bike over to the area where one adds air or water, and tried again. More nothing. And more. And more.
A glance at my odometer revealed that I needed twenty miles to make my goal. Does pushing count?
I reflected on the fact that if I hadn't stopped for gas, I would have faced this problem at Half Price. But I would have logged my 21,000. Ugh. And double ugh.
I kept trying to get the engine to start, even though there was not external reason for optimism. I tried rolling the bike and hitting the switch. I tried backing up the bike and hitting the switch. I tried changing gears. I tried everything I could think of. At one point, I lowered the kickstand, turned the key off, removed it, counted to ten, and then started over just like I was starting up for the first time of the day. I tried no choke and little choke. Nothing was working.
I tried turning the key on and off quickly. I got a different sound, but not one of the engine starting. I backed the bike up some more to get away from freeway sounds so I could hear better. Not that there was much to hear.
I kept turning the key on and off. Giving it gas, giving it choke. Some new sounds occured every so often, but not the sound of a motor starting. I gave up and pushed the bike over to the parking lot of the Adult Bookstore that is next door to the gas station. The bookstore parking was uncharacteristically empty. But I guess the Rebel was happy to be there. As I continued to turn the key, the motor caught. Mile 21,000 was back in the picture.
But, Half Price Books was out of the picture. I decided that there was nothing wrong with the bike, other than that the starter was not catching. Which should not be a problem so long as I didn't stop. And I had no intentions of stopping until the odometer read 21,000, not even at a Half Price Books.
So off I went. I got on I-10, heading east. I took I-45 north, toward the airport exit. Traffic was medium. I got on Beltway 8, heading east. My goal was to be on the great exit off Beltway 8 onto Highway 59 when the mileage turned over. And I almost made it.
I was four tenths of a mile from the exit as the odometer rolled over from 20,999.9 to 21,000.0. Fortunately, I was on a straight section, with no cars near. So, to celebrate the event, I did the bird. I extended my arms out to the side, and glided through the mileage milestone. Yeah. Life is good.
I grabbed the handlebars and swung into the curve at the top of the world. As I headed to Highway 59 South, I could see distant horizons, including the magnificant Houston skyline. I had made it.
I decided to not press my luck. I headed directly home. Well, almost directly. I did take the North Loop west to the West Loop. Then I took I-10 east back to the Studewood exit. I noted that the Adult Bookstore had a full complement of cars by this time. Satisfied customers all, I am sure. I gave a silent salute to the parking lot where I got my engine restarted, and continued on home.
As I pulled into the driveway, I resisted the urge to turn off the motor and retry it to see if it worked. Time enough tomorrow for that exercise. I noted that I now have 21,025 miles on the bike. Stubbs doesn't open till Tuesday. I hope the repair isn't too big a deal, what with ordering parts and all. I don't want to miss my daily rides.
So, even though I don't know what the next week holds, I will close this segment with my standard sign-off. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.
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.