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My Honda Rebel Blog for August 2006
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

* 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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August 31,2006:

Today is the last day of August, and it was wonderfully cool this morning. Well, maybe not cool, but the humidity was low, and that made all the difference. Sarah was happen to be on her walk, and I was happy to be on the road.

While she ate, I suited up and headed out. I added a touch of air to the front tire, then did my warmup ride. Next, I entered I-10, heading west. My goal for today was to get in three circuits, adding the Highway 59 extension to each. Traffic was fast, so that was no problem.

Temperatures were nice, and very conducive to thinking. I was on the road for about an hour, and I enjoyed almost every minute. Okay, there was that one guy who changed four lanes without signaling, but other than that, it was a great ride.

No close calls, and no adventures to report. When I pulled up to the driveway, I had logged 17,672 miles on the bike. Tomorrow, with any luck at all, I should make my goal of 17,700. Stay tuned. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 30,2006:

An August cold front came through last night. It's not that it made the temperatures especially lower, but it sure worked its magic on the humidity levels. Our morning walk was the most pleasant in months. Sarah tried to linger at every smell point, stretching out her fun. Because the morning was so pleasant, neither Maria nor I minded.

When we got back, I fed Sarah, and suited up. Because I had put the license plate back on last night, all I had to do was check the air in the tires. I then headed out for the warm up portion of my ride.

Once I reached the feeder for I-10, I entered the freeway, heading west. My original plan was to put in a single circuit on the freeway so I could test the license plate, to see how it was doing. However, once I got on the freeway, and experienced the wonderful effect of low humidity, I changed my mind. A long ride seemed to call me.

Traffic was neither heavier nor lighter than normal. Still, the lack of sweltering heat made the ride fun, fun, fun. And the fact that the four wheelers were well behaved meant that I could get in some nice thinking time. Which I did.

I turned mile 17,600 on this trip. I missed watching the roll over by two tenths of a mile. So I decided to make up for it by trying for mile 17,700 by the end of Friday's ride. I am now at mile 17,614. Stay tuned to see if I make it. And stay tuned to see if I find more time in which to think.

* * * * *

August 29,2006:

Because I didn't have the license plate issue totally under control, I decided to stay off the freeways until I could get to Stubbs to pick up the needed part. So, after taking Sarah for her walk, and serving her breakfast, I suited up, added air to the front tire, and headed out.

I took the long way to the twisties on White Oak, stopping every so often to make sure the plate was still attached. It always was.

Even with the stops, today's was a easy and enjoyable ride. No close calls, but no high speeds. A fun ride, nonetheless. I now have 17,570 miles on the odometer.

At lunch, I headed for Stubbs, and picked up the backer plate where the inspection sticker is placed. Tonight, before bed, I put everything back together, using flat washers, lock washers and double nuts. I made sure all the parts were properly in place, and extra tight. I then came inside to type this blog before retiring for the night, with visions of fast, banked turns dancing in my head. See you on the road, weather permitting. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 28,2006:

Once again, I am in trial mode. I got up at five and showered. Sarah and I then got the paper and her breakfast. While she ate, I checked the air in the tires. I then let her in and headed off on a post office run.

Even though it was only 5:30 a.m., and even though the round trip to the post office and back is only two miles, it was sufficiently hot to require a rinse off shower when I got back. But only after Maria and I took Sarah for a quick walk. I even had time to write this short blog entry. And, oh yes, I added a big two miles to the odometer. I am now at 17,562. Off to work.

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August 27,2006:

Well, I had two strikes against me as to any kind of long ride today. First, I am still in trial mode. That means I will spend the vast majority of the day at the office. Second, I am still having license plate problems.

I think the J-B Weld did the trick, but I have added washers to distribute the load over a greater area when I (over) tighten the bolts holding the plate to the bike frame. So, I need longer bolts. And, although I found two in my pile of nuts, screws and bolts, one had a screwdriver slot, which I found aesthetically unpleasing. So, I need to make another trip to the hardware store. Unfortunately, I probably can't fit a trip in with today's law schedule.

Anyway, after getting the paper and feeding Sarah, I put the plate back on the bike. It took longer to do that than it did to repair the darn thing. Mostly, the time was spent in hunting for proper length bolts and nuts that matched the threads. When I was ready to hit the road, it was already 6:40 a.m. A late start.

But compensated for by the fact that I didn't want to get on the freeway until I had the proper bolts in place. So I headed for the twisties on White Oak. Taking the long way around, of course.

Whenever I would come to a stop sign or red light, I would stand up and look at the plate, to make sure it was still in place. It made for a weird ride. I wanted to get in some serious thinking time, but I was only halfway successful on that. And no problems were resolved.

I did manage to rack up ten miles during the morning run. When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 17,560 miles on the bike. And I was still on schedule. Tomorrow I will still be in trial mode, and probably have to content myself with a post office run. Oh well, such is life.

* * * * *

August 26,2006:

Today I am in trial mode. As I will be tomorrow. What that means with regard to my riding is that I have to content myself with relatively short rides and spend inordinate amounts of time at my office. Which I hate doing on the weekends.

Anyway, after adding air to the front tire, I managed to get on the road only a little later than I do during the week. Even though I could not go for a long ride, I didn't really relish the idea of doing the normal workday circuits, even though this was going to be a "work day."

After warming up, I decided to head for Highway 59. I got on I-10, heading east. Traffic was minimal. Clouds were not. They were everywhere, and looked like they were full of rain. They also looked like they were hovering over Highway 59, right where I wanted to ride. However, as I approached the exit for 59, the clouds turned out to be farther to the east than they looked. Things appeared dry to the north.

I took the Highway 59 exit north. In the middle of that curved exit, the odometer rolled over to 17,500. I missed it. I have always found curves to be distracting. Even the ones made of concrete. Anyway, by the time I was through enjoying this one, I noticed that the odometer had rolled over just three tenths of a mile back. C'est la vie.

I proceeded north on Highway 59. My goal this trip was the eastbound curve from Beltway 8 to Highway 59 South. And to get to mile 17,550.

I had decided on an interesting route. When I got to the Beltway, I took the exit and headed west. This was not the curve I was interested in. I proceeded west on Beltway 8 until I came to the exit for I-45 North, which I took. I then rode to the first exit, which was Airtex. I u-turned and headed south on I-45 for a short distance.

When I came to the exit for Beltway 8, I took it toward the east. My goal was ahead. But so were rain clouds. It looked like I would be riding into a heavy shower right on the desired curve back to Highway 59. That didn't sound like fun. I watched the exits on the Beltway, so I could take one and head back to I-45 if the rains came. I also watched for sweeping windshield wipers on the oncoming cars. That would be a good clue that wetter times were ahead.

Fortunately, the rain stayed east of me. I was able to take what may be my favorite curve in all of Houston. I have described it before, but it bears repeating. I was proceeding east on Beltway 8, in the far right hand lane. I took the exit for Highway 59, south. This is a upwardly sweeping curve. At its apex, I always feel like I have riden to the top of the world. The view from atop my motorcycle is exhilarating. Make sure you take it, just as I have described the approach. You won't be disappointed.

I took Highway 59 all the way back to I-10, then headed west to the Heights exit. This was a high speed journey. Mostly, car were going 65 mph or faster. I completed the 55 miles in just over an hour. Once on the freeway, there were no stop lights on this trip.

Even though I had to go in to work, it was a great way to start the day. I got in some quality thinking time, and had fun doing it. Unfortunately, when I got back to the driveway (noting the 17,550 miles on the bike), I had a surprise in store. My license plate was once again hanging by a single bolt.

But this time the reason was not that a bolt had vibrated off. No, the license plate itself had cracked at the holes for the bolts. Both of them. I guess I over-tightened them after the last adventure. Anyway, drastic action was required, and time was short.

I took the plate off the bike and examined the damage. One side was just cracked. The other side was broken off at the tip on the upper left hand corner. I quickly decided that a trip to the hardware store to buy two mending plates would do the trick. After a shower and breakfast, I headed for C&D on my way to the office. I found the mending plates, and also purchased some J-B Weld to epoxy everything in place. I bought a quarter inch metal drill bit to enlarge the necessary hole in the mending plate, and eight washers to more evenly distribute the stress when I tightened everything up. Total cost: $13.07. Thus armed, I headed for the office.

Once I arrived, I read the instructions on the J-B Weld. They said to allow 15 hours of curing time. Ugh. I had planned to work till four. Friends are coming over at 5:30 p.m. That would give me time to clean up and get presentable. Well, as presentable as possible.

Anyway, I needed to have the eopxy mixed by three if I wanted to get in a six o'clock ride in the morning. And all my projects take a lot longer than I first estimate. So, I got home at 2:30 p.m. I drilled out the hole in the mending plate, to match the diameter of the one in the license plate. I used margarine bowls to mix the epoxy, one bowl for each plate. For once, everything went without hitch. Even as I type, the license plate, with stell reinforcement, is sitting in the garage, curing. Tomorrow will tell the tell. Stay tuned. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 25,2006:

There was no coolness in the air today, but no oppressive feeling of heat, either. Sarah enjoyed her walk, and she enjoyed her breakfast even more. While she ate, I suited up.

I added air to the front tire and headed out. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was much nicer than yesterday. On Thursday, I felt boxed in by other vehicles. There was no such sensation today. Which made for nice thinking conditions.

There were no rain clouds, either. The horizon was ringed with low clouds, but the sky's vault was bright blue. And Mister Sun was having no trouble causing morning glare.

All-in-all, it was a nice time on the road. Speeds were fast and troubles were few. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when traffic backed up once I got back on I-10 after traveling over the North Loop and Highway 59 South. This stretch of the Katy Freeway never backs up. And this back up was so bad that traffic came to a complete hault. Several times.

I was ready to decide to call it quits after a single circuit, because I figured the traffic would be thick all the way to the West Loop. But I wanted one last peek from the top of the Taylor rise before deciding. If I exited, it would be at Heights. And the lane to take Heights is an "exit only" lane. So, to keep my options open, I moved into the second lane from the right, just afer the Taylor exit.

All the lanes were slow. As I neared the crest, I saw a lone Kia in the emergency lane. It was a recent model, and looked to be in good condition. At least there was nothing to promote rubber necking.

I was behind a small, white pickup. Even though it was small, it was creating a definite view block as to what was coming up. We were traveling about five miles per hour, when we were moving. All of a sudden, the pickup lurched up and down. And up and down.

And the strangest thing appeared right in front of me. The pickup had run over a drive shaft that was laying perpendicular to the moving lane of traffic, and blocking off 80% of the lane. Because traffic was so thick, there was nothing to do but run over the drive shaft.

Which was okay, if you were a pickup. But those gears at the end of the shaft raised it at least three inches off the ground, and the diameter of the shaft itself seemed to be three to four inches. It made for a big obstruction. I don't know if the Rebel could have gotten over it. But, luckily, I didn't have to find out. Because speeds were so slow, I simply engaged in some drastic weaving behavior, and edged around the shaft.

Once I was past the metal, speeds really picked up. I was happily contemplating a fun second circuit when I passed the exit for Washington Avenue. It then hit me that I was committed to another circuit, and that I would come up on the drive shaft one more time.

I decided I could take the Taylor exit and avoid the problem. But, as I came up on the exit, I noted that there was no backup. Speeds continued at a fast pace. So I decided to go on and take the Heights exit. As I crested the hill at Taylor, I spied the Kia still sitting on the shoulder. And then I saw why the traffic was not slowing down.

The drive shaft was still on the freeway, but it had been knocked parallel to the moving lanes of traffic, and wound up on top of the stripes separating the far righthand lane from the one to its immediate left. Out of harm's way.

I took a closer look at the Kia as I passed by. I could see some damage to the undercarriage, so I'm pretty sure the car was the source of the drive shaft. Of course, there is always the possibility that it fell off a truck that was hauling scrap metal.

Anyway, I made it past the danger, and headed on home. When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 17,495 miles on the bike. Stay tuned to see what the weekend holds. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 24,2006:

We hit the road for the morning walk at our normal time. There was a coolness in the air. The weatherman described it as "rain cooled air." Whatever the cause, it made this morning's walk the most pleasant one of the week. Sarah seemed happy too.

When we got back, I fed Sarah and suited up. I had to add air to the back tire. After that, I warmed up and entered I-10, heading west.

The clouds this morning were big and thick. Not the thin cotton-like clouds of yesterday. In fact, Mister Sun was unable to penetrate the thick covering.

Traffic however, was way beyond heavy. Vehicles were going fast, keeping close, and generally making it difficult to relax. I felt that I had to devote over 90% of my concentration to keeping out of harm's way. This was not a usual ride.

It's hard to pinpoint why I felt so uneasy. The cars weren't driving erraticly nor were the drivers talking on cell phones (more than usual). It wasn't lane changers that caused my unease. But everyone seemed to insist on riding next to me, and I was constantly speeding up or slowing down to keep my zone of safety.

I guess every ride can't be wonderful. I was glad to make both circuits without any close calls. I just missed the normal thinking time. Oh well, tomorrow will be another day. I now have 17,655 miles on the bike. See you on the road.

* * * * *

August 23,2006:

Yesterday it rained in the afternoon, and again around ten. That rain must have cooled things off because there was a nice touch of coolness in the air during our morning walk. I don't think Sarah cared, but Maria and I enjoyed the pleasant temperatures during the walk. When we finished up, I fed Sarah and suited up.

I added air to the front tire, and headed out. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. The first thing I noticed about today's ride was the thin layer of clouds covering the sky. Clouds were everywhere. But not thick rain clouds. No, these clouds were so thin that the rising sun could easily burn through them. Still, the coolness present on our walk was still around as I proceeded down the freeways.

As I headed east on Loop 610, a black Mustang was proceeding ahead of me in the lane to my immediate left. Traffic was light enough that I could see a good distance ahead. So, when I spotted a large road gator in the right-hand edge of the lane to my left, I wasn't especially concerned. So, you can imagine my astonishment when the driver of the Mustang failed to swerve a little to his left, thus hitting the road gator. Which proceeded to bounce up, and toward me.

Fortunately, it came down fast, and I was in no danger of rolling over it. Still, it illustrates how crazy things can sometimes get. Any sane driver would have avoided the gator, and it would have laid there harmlessly as I passed by. Ugh.

In a batch of heavy traffic, I missed watching the odometer roll over to 17,400. When the Heights exit came up the second time, I took it and headed for the house. I was careful as I threaded my way around the remainder of the oil slick at the feeder road and Cortlandt. I didn't stop to see if the rain had washed the oil away. The dark stain was still present.

By the time I reached the driveway, I had 17,415 miles on the bike. The rain had stayed away during my ride, but the threat was ever-present. In fact, rain would hit just after lunch. And more showers are predicted for the next five days. Whether they come in the morning or after lunch will determine how much riding I get in during the rest of the week. Stay tuned. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 22,2006:

Everyone woke up early today. That is usual for Sarah and for me. But even Maria was ready to hit the road way before the alarm sounded. So, off we went. There was a slight coolness in the air, but nothing to write home about. Still, Sarah made no complaints.

When we finished our walk, I fed her, and suited up. I did not have to add air to either tire. So, after checking them, I headed out. I took my normal warmup route, and entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was medium, with a surplus of eighteen wheelers. There was the usual number of early morning road gators and cell phone talking lane changers. Still, all considered, I got in some quality thinking time.

I also got to hear the clicking sound that was ever-present just before I took the Rebel in for the 16,000 mile check up. At that time, Stubbs had decided the valves were out of adjustment. Sadly, last week I began noticing the occasional clicking sound, but with no regularity. Even today, the sound was more present during the first circuit than the second. We shall see. I don't like to think that the valves are back out of adjustment after barely a thousand miles.

Otherwise, both circuits went fine. I added the Highway 59 extension to each one, and enjoyed every minute. Well, except when I felt boxed in by the eighteen wheelers.

One thing that was ever present in my thoughts was the oil slick I slid through yesterday. I was worried that, somehow, I would forget it was there, and roar through the turn, and onto the pavement. But, when the time came, I remembered the hazard, and slowed down. I was able to avoid the slickened pavement entirely. Which was a good thing.

I rode on home, and racked up mile 17,375 on the bike. On the way to the office, I stopped at the scene of the near disaster and took some digital pictures of the spot on the road. It was still clearly visible. I had grabbed a bag of kitty litter we keep on hand for oil drips, and I sprinkled the stuff all over the oil. My theory was that the traffic would grind it in, absorbing the oil. On the way home from work, and once again later in the evening, it rained in the Heights. The water and kitty litter should be sufficient to eliminate the problem. Still, I am sure I will proceed cautiously over that turn for some time to come. See you on the (dry) road; and don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 21,2006:

Today, we were all three on the road on time. Much to Sarah's relief. The morning air had a little coolness to it, but the high humidity and lack of a breeze made everything steamy. August is in full force.

When we got back, I fed Sarah, and suited up. I added a pound of air to the front tire and a touch of air to the back one. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was moderate. I hadn't made it to the Loop before I got hit in the face with a flying rock. I guess one of the cars kicked it up. It hit right above my left eyebrow. Fortunately, I was wearing a full face helmet, with visor, and the only damage was to my hearing from the loud thud. I don't like to think about what would have happened if I hadn't been wearing a helmet. The impact was hard enough that it might have knocked me out. At the very least, it would have left an interesting bruise.

Because of my visor, I was able to continue on my way, unimpeaded. And, since my brain was still intact, I put the morning to good use, going with the flow (or just outside it, actually), and thinking nice thoughts.

Before I knew it, I had completed two circuits. I exited at Heights, and u-turned under the freeway to head for the gas station. I topped off the tank and got back on the feeder. When I got to Studemont, I u-turned once again, and headed west on the I-10 feeder on the north side. I took my normal Cortlandt exit off the feeder. And almost layed down the bike.

This is a turn I take almost every day. The street is wide enough that I can take it at speed. There is a pothole I always avoid, but its presence dictates my route on the turn. The feeder is 45 mph. I am usually going the speed limit. Today was no different, until I was well into my turn.

I was looking for the pot hole. I was downshifting one gear, and preparing to power through the turn. What I wasn't preparing for was the oil slick left by some driver.

I'm not sure the slick even registered on my brain at the time. Everything happened so fast. I was leaning into the turn when I saw a dark spot on the street. Like the damp color left over from a shower when most but not all of the street has dried. When I felt the rear tire let go, I knew I was in trouble.

Fortunately, the slick wasn't too wide, and the back Dunlop grabbed asphalt before any damage (except to my pride) was done.

Once I came to my senses, I pulled over, u-turned, and headed back to the scene. I parked the bike and walked over to the intersection.

I rubbed the darkened area with my boot, and confirmed that it was oil, and not water. Very slippery oil. I was glad the bike had stayed upright. There are several lessons here. The most important one is to not get complacent. Once I exit the obvious dangers of the freeway, and once I pass the drivers waiting to get on the feeder, I tend to relax, thinking that the "major" dangers are over. Which is clearly not the case.

Second, make sure your tires have lots of tread. That contact patch is keeping the shiny side up. Third, don't ride in the darkened areas of the road. Oil and upright behavior don't mix. And last, don't forget to think.

Lessons fresh in my head, I headed on home, racking up 17,336 miles on the bike, and ready for more riding as the week goes on. See you on the road.

* * * * *

August 20,2006:

I had another early morning today. Not as much reading time as yesterday, however. You see, Maria and I planned a visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences for 9 a.m. to see the BodyWorld 3 exhibit, which closes in two weeks. Nothing like waiting to the last minute. Anyway, I had to get moving to get in a ride before we headed to the museum.

Of course, Sarah was not interested in skipping her breakfast, so she and I went down, got the paper, got her food, and checked the air in the tires. The front tire was a little low. While Sarah did her rounds of the back yard, I added the air. We then both went back upstairs to let Maria know I was off. Sarah stayed with Maria.

I did my normal warmup, then headed for the gas station to top off the tank. I needed around seventy miles to make it to 17,300. I had decided to go north on Highway 59 to FM 1314, then over to Conroe, and back to the house.

To stretch out the ride, I entered I-10, heading east. I took it all the way to the East Loop, just like I did yesterday. And the traffic was even lighter than yesterday, if that is possible. I took 610 west, and exited Highway 59, heading north.

I like riding on Highway 59. Traffic is usually light, and the drivers don't seem to be totally Type A. This allows for plenty of thinking time. Which I used to good advantage.

Just past Kingwood, I took the FM 1314 exit, heading west. This is a pleasant enough stretch, although it has little to recommend it. It is a commercial highway, and often only two lanes. And no passing. Which is okay unless you get behind a Sunday driver.

But, even though it actually was Sunday, I had no problems. Traffic was pretty light, and very fast. This trip, I did not take the FM 242 by-pass to I-45. I stayed on FM 1314 until it intersected with FM 105, which I took into downtown Conroe.

When I came to I-45, I took a left, and entered the freeway, heading south. I-45 is often crowded. That was the case today, but the traffic presented no problems. I took I-45 all the way to I-10, and then I headed west. Just before I reached I-10, I watched the odometer roll over to 17,300. Steady progress.

I took the Heights exit, and headed home. When I rolled up to the driveway, the streets were still dry, and I had 17,305 miles on the bike. And it was barely 8:30. Still time to make it to the museum. Which we did. That's it for this week. Stay tuned for more riding and writing. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 19,2006:

Even though it was the weekend, I rolled out of bed at five in the morning. Actually, I had awakened even earlier, but I couldn't go back to sleep. At five, I gave it up and went downstairs and fed Sarah. I let her out the back, and made coffee. By the time she came back in, the coffee was ready, and I headed upstairs to my own B & B. That's books and bath.

I got in thirty minutes on a history book and thirty minutes on a novel. I had decided to get up, shower and hit the road. But, just before escaping the warm water, I heard a thunderclap hit nearby. Ugh. A look out the window did not reveal threatening clouds, however.

I quickly got dressed, got the paper, checked for construction, and told Maria I would be back around 8:30. I then headed for the garage. I added a little air to the back tire and headed out. After warming up, I topped off the gas tank and headed east on I-10. I needed around seventy miles to reach 17,200. Maria had asked me to stop at Panera's for more cinnamon crunches. That would normally be a twenty mile trip, each way. I needed a way to extend my path.

So, I stayed on I-10, all the way to the East Loop. Traffic was very light, and I got in some great thinking time, contemplating the ideas I had encountered in both books. There were clouds on the horizon, but rain did not look imminent.

Once I reached 610, I headed north, then west. Traffic was a lot heavier on the North Loop. I was surprised at how many trucks were out at 7:30 in the morning. Thinking time was concentrated on dodging passing metal behemoths.

By the time I reached Highway 290, traffic had let up a little. I settled back and returned to my thoughts on the two books. When I came to Highway 6, I took the exit and turned in to Mancuso's Harley Davidson for a look. As luck would have it, a Rider's Edge class was in progress.

I stopped and watched the students. It was a class of nine, with two instructors. My Rider's Edge class had consisted of ten students, only one of which was female. This class had four females and five males. I could tell the females even in their helmets. They were the ones with the pony tails. Now, I know male bikers often sport such extensions. But the gentle swell of hips left no doubt about the sex of these four riders. I was also interested to note that one of the instructors was female. This was the first day of actually riding the bikes, and I'm sure everyone was suitably intense. I wished them a silent "good luck," and headed back home.

When I got to the Tidwell exit, I took it, u-turned under the freeway, and headed for Panera's. I fear their cinnamon crunches are becoming a habit. But a most pleasant one. I just have to make sure I don't skip my exercise session today.

After paying for my purchases, I stuffed the three crunches into my jacket and headed back. I figured that if I took the long way home, I could make my mileage goal without difficulty.

Clouds were getting a little heavier, but I still had no forewarning of rain. Once again, traffic was pretty light until I passed the exit for Highway 59. By then, eighteen wheelers were everywhere, or so it seemed.

At one point I passed a two by four in the road. It looked like it had fallen off a trailer. It was right in the left-hand tire track, and perpendicular to the direction of traffic. Fortunately, it was in the lane to my right. Otherwise, there was little road debris. Even the road gators were sleeping late.

I watched the odometer roll over to mile 17,200 as I got back on I-10, heading west. As the event unfurled, I noted that the Houston skyline was coming up on the western horizon. It was a pretty sight.

I took the Heights exit and headed home. When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 17,205 miles on the bike. As I turned off the engine, I noticed--for the first time--that the roar of thunder was pretty constant. I guess the road noise had prevented my observing this condition while I was rolling. Now, I worried that I could not duck-walk the bike into the garage before it hit.

I had made it back by 8:30 a.m. In less than an hour, we were hit by a delug, that didn't stop for hours. And the lightning storm was all around. The electricity even went out once. When the rain stopped, I checked the gauges. We had received 2.7 inches of rain in short order. But I had escaped the storm, and had had a great morning jaunt. Stay tuned to see what the morrow brings. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 18,2006:

We got off on time for Sarah's morning walk. And feeding. But an early court hearing prevents my getting in a normal ride today. And rain is expected this afternoon. So, I opted for a post office run.

I had to add air to the front tire. I was then off to get the mail. Even though the ride was short, I did get in a little thinking time. Streets were empty, and riding was relaxed. Still, I was back befoe I knew it, with 17,142 miles on the bike. Oh well, the weekend is coming. Hope you get in some long rides. Time to leave for work.

* * * * *

August 17,2006:

I awoke much earlier than normal. Several work deadlines prevented sound sleep. Sarah got up with me in sympathy, but I waited till the six o'clock alarm sounded before starting out. No need to short-sheet Maria on her sleep.

It was a touch cooler than yesterday. A few clouds were on the horizon. Sarah didn't seem to notice the differences. When we finished her walk, I got her breakfast and then suited up.

The air was fine in both tires. I warmed up, then entered I-10, heading west. Not much to report on today. The only incident occurred on the first circuit as I was traveling north on Loop 610.

This is a dangerous part of the ride, because of all the lane changing that happens within a few short yards. Today, I neded to move one lane to the left. I checked my mirrors, confirmed the space with a head check, and started to change lanes. All of a sudden, a red Mustang roared by, like I was sitting still.

When I had checked my mirrors, I guess I had seen the Mustang. I must have noticed that it was coming on strong. What I know for sure is that I didn't get fully into the lane. When I realized the Mustang was not going to yield, I scooted over back into my lane. The Mustang roared by, oblivious.

I thought how fortunate it was that it was daylight. I think the movement of the Mustang registered in my mind when I saw an ever-increasing red blod approaching me. I would probably not have made such an instant assessment if it had been dark and all I could see was the headlights.

The whole affair made me glad for my rules on riding on freeways (and especially the rule about not riding at night.

When I finished the second circuit, I headed for the house. The odometer read 17,140 miles. Tomorrow I may have to forgo my morning ride because of an early, early, early, court hearing. But, weather permitting, I hope to get in a ride after work. Stay tuned. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 16,2006:

Our morning take-off was much closer to regularily scheduled time. Still, we were running a shade late. But that's the only shade we had this morning. The day dawned hot and cloudless. Sarah did not seem to mind. When we finsihed her walk, I fixed her breakfast, and suited up.

I added air to the front tire. The back tire was fine. After my warm-up ride, I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was lighter than yesterday. That made for good thinking time and good speeds. Both were appreciated.

I had a good two circuits. The only incident worthy of the blog occurred when a small pickup truck driver decided to behave erratically. We were both headed south on I-45. When things happened, I did not realize he was coming up fast behind me, in the lane to my left. A car pulled out of one of the center lanes, and I signaled, head checked, and moved into the space. I am always worried about another vehicle trying to move into such spaces at the same time I do. But I was sure, this morning, that my move was safe.

I had just settled in, when I heard that most horrible of sounds, the squeal of tires on concrete. The sound was coming from behind me. A check of my mirrors revealed no problems with the driver directly following me, or even the one directly following him. But I did see a pickup in the next lane. By then, the driver was finished stopping, and was now racing ahead of me.

I watched as the truck pulled past. It was pretty beat up, and looked like someone had used cheap gray spray paint to color the metal. I cut my speed a little to increase the distance between us. I feared the driver would be making new dents in the body work at any moment.

The pickup changed lanes once again. To the left. And with no signal.

The driver laid on the speed, and moved one last lane to the left. He was far away from me by now, and increasing the distance each second. I was happy to take the exit for I-10, and get away from him. As I rounded the curve, I halfway expected to hear the crunch of metal on metal, but I didn't. Just as well.

When the Heights exit appeared, I took it on home. Just before I pulled up to the driveway, I watched the odometer roll over to 17,100. It was good to get home in one piece. The only things that cause an adrenaline rush like the squeal of tires are the sound of cars hitting, or the sudden appearance of rapidly stopping vehicles directly ahead. Fortunately, such situations are rare, and can be dealt with if you don't panic. So don't be afraid to get out there and ride. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 15,2006:

We were slow hitting the road today, which put us about 15 minutes behind schedule. Sarah accepted this without complaint. Still, after walking her, feeding her and suiting up, it was almost seven by the time I added air to the front tire and got started on my ride. I quickly warmed up, and entered I-10, heading west.

Traffic was a lot thicker than yesterday. On the first circuit, I was following a pickup truck along I-10. I was in the left-hand tire track. The pickup was blocking my view of the road ahead. All of a sudden, the driver swerved to the right. I followed course. There immediately appeared a chunk of metal about the size of a toaster. It was in the left-hand tire track. That's why the pickup swerved.

This incident illustrates the fact that in the early morning, stuff may be in the moving portion of the freeway, because it has not yet been hit enough to bounce it out of harm's way. By the second circuit, the metal piece was gone. I didn't spot it, but it was most likely on the side of the road. And all within 15 minutes.

I continued on my way. When I took the I-45 exit south, traffic really slowed down. On the second circuit, traffic was so thick on I-45 that it back cars up clear onto the Loop. Ugh. I realized this situation when it was too late to head for the Highway 59 extension. But, although it was stop and go riding for a while, everyone behaved themselves, and no one was rear ended.

Traffic picked up speed just as I reached I-10. This gave me the opportunity to goose up the throttle for a couple of miles of high speed riding before I had to take the Heights exit and head home.

It was an enjoyable trip. I now have 17,070 miles on the bike. I am already looking forward to tomorrow's ride. See you on the road. I'll be the one deep in thought.

* * * * *

August 14,2006:

Even though we were on the road for Sarah's walk just after six this morning, there was no hint of coolness in the air. Houston was back on "normal" for the summer. And "normal" is hot. Even in the predawn hours. Sarah didn't seem to mind. She was happy to romp around from smelly spot to smelly spot, adding her own evidences of territoriality as she went.

When we got back, Sarah ate while I suited up. The tire pressure was okay in both tires. I warmed up, and entered I-10, heading west. Today was the first day of school for the Houston Independent School District. I expected traffic to be heavier than it was. I didn't see many moms dealing with their kids, but I did dodge more than the usual number of lane changers jockeying for better road position.

When I rounded the corner on Loop 610, I was faced with a glaring sun, just on the horizon. Fortunately, my visor has a "sunglass" strip across the top, so, by lowering my gaze just a little, I could block the worst of the sun. However, when I exited Highway 59, and got back on I-10, heading west, I noted that the sun's glare completely obliterated my view in the left-hand mirror. As I have noted before, if the sun is wiping out your view in your mirror, it is probably also preventing the four-wheelers from seeing you in their mirrors.

Things went pretty well, all considered. On the second circuit, I ended up behind a pickup and trailer. The trailer was full of small equipment, and it didn't look especially well attached. A red flag was waving off the fender of one piece of equipment, warning of the load.

I don't like getting behind such vehicles. I always worry that something will come loose, and head straight for me. Today, I decided to pass the pickup/trailer on the left. Just as I was accelerating around the combo, the flag came loose from the fender, and flew at me. I was able to dodge it. And I was especially glad that what came loose was just a piece of cloth, and not a big hunk of metal.

When I entered I-45, heading south, traffic quickly ground to a halt. I was able to safely stop in time, as was the car following me. We proceeded at a slow pace for over a mile, with cars weaving in and out of my lane--usually without signalling. Ugh.

When I got to the Heights exit, I took it on home. As I pulled up to the driveway, I noted that the odometer read 16,040. I had been a good ride, with some nice thinking time. I parked the bike, got my can of chain lube, and lubricated the chain links, which I do every 500 miles. I then went inside to grab a shower and some breakfast. It was a good start to the day. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 13,2006:

Today I got an earlier start than yesterday. At least as far as getting up was concerned. But, with no morning appointments, I was not under the time pressure I faced yesterday. Still, it seemed a waste to let such an early start go to waste, so I decided to go for my 17,000 mile run. That meant I would need to log at least 203 miles on today's ride. An early start would help in that endeavor.

I think Sarah figured out that my early start did not entail an early walk for her. Lest you worry, be assured that she did get in her alloted walk once I got back.

After I showered and shaved, we went down, checked for the paper (it was too early), and got her breakfast. While she ate, I checked to make sure the skies were clear. They were. We both then went out the back door. While she explored the back yard, I check the air in the tires. I added a little poundage to both tires. I then returned upstairs to tell Maria I was going for my 17,000th mile, and that I should be back between nine and ten. Sarah stayed upstairs, as I headed out the back door for the second time.

I decided to head west on Highway 290 again. The causeway to Galveston was scheduled to be closed this morning, and I did not want to face that problem. There was also road construction on Highway 59, so a trip to the Sam Houston National Forest was not in the cards. Interstate 10, as always, was under construction. Almost by default, that left Highway 290. Which was fine with me.

It was 5:40 a.m. when I left the house. I warmed up, topped off the gas tank, and entered I-10, heading east. I watched the odometer roll over to mile 16,800 just after entering the freeway. I stayed on I-10 till the exit for Highway 59, which I took north. I then got on Loop 610, heading west. Traffic was every bit as light as yesterday. Plus, it was just as dark as yesterday.

And, just like yesterday, there was fog by the time I hit Waller. Once again, I looked north and saw an area of fog that looked just like water. Some farmer had cleared all the brush and trees from a wide area, so the fog just lay there, as far as the eye could see under the dark conditions. Really neat.

Today, I took the Highway 6 exit once I reached Hempstead. Going south, I headed for the old commercial district. I turned right on old Highway 290 (Business), looking for FM 1887. I spotted the old railroad station for Hempstead to my left. I kept going. I ran into FM 159, which was not the road I wanted. Once again, I had missed FM 1887. I consulted my map, and headed back east. I quickly came to 1887, right at the old train station. I took it south.

I had hoped that 1887 would offer some nice curves. Unfortunately, the fog was everywhere, which slowed down my speed. And the curves were not all that pronounced. I stayed on 1887 for about 15 miles, until it intersected with FM 359, which I took back to Hempstead. I stopped for gas, then went inside a convenience store to get breakfast, and wash the visor of my helmet. It was covered with night insects. They were small, and had made no noise when they had hit. A guy suggested that I must have run through mosquitoes. I have no idea, not having thought to examine the bodies before washing them off. After washing my visor, I purchased a bottle of chocolate milk, hoping the protein would balance out the sugars.

A look at my odometer revealed that I needed about 120 more miles to reach my goal. Clearly, the sixty miles it would take to return to Houston would not be sufficient. I decided to head for Chappell Hill, and the curves of FM 390.

At Chappell Hill I took FM 1155 till it intersected with FM 2193. These are great roads. Hills and curves abound. Thinking time is easy to come by.

And, since the roads were largely deserted, I decided to do an experiment in turning. I waited till I had got up some speed, and was on the top of a hill, with a curve coming up. I think took both hands off the bike, extended them all the way, and tried to steer the bike through the curve using only body motion (lean).

I was able to turn the bike using only body lean, albeit not sharply. Still, I did not have to counter steer to make a turn. I have read the debates on this issue, and I am a strong supporter of counter steering. I don't think there is any other way to make a sharp turn. However, my experiment proved to me that one can turn a bike without counter steering, since my hands never touched the handlebars. Not that I recommend anyone else try this experiment without lots of miles under their belts.

When I reached FM 105, I took it north till I came to Scenic FM 390. This is one of my favorite stretches of road in Texas. I had a great time, thinking, riding and turning. When I got to Independence, I u-turned and retraced my steps back to Chappel Hill. Louis L'Amour wrote several novels wherein the characters noted that when you retrace your route, everything looks different. I can confirm that is true. The reverse ride was every bit as much fun as the western route.

At Chappell Hill, I got back on Highway 290, heading east. My ride was essentially over, or so I thought. The trip back was uneventful until I passed Beltway 8. Then, a pickup truck pulled up next to me, and the driver repeatedly pointed at my back tire.

I felt nothing out of the ordinary, but I did pull off at the first opportunity. I turned in to a strip center parking lot. No cars were present. I rode my bike near the front windows, observing my reflection to see if anything appeared to be amiss. Nothing did. I stopped, and killed the engine. I got off the bike and immediately saw the problem.

One of the bolts securing my license plate had gone MIA. The plate rotated about 60 degrees, and appeared about ready to fall off. I checked the remaining bolt, and it was tight. I got back on the bike, and reentered Highway 290. About five miles later, a guy in an SUV also signalled to me about the plae. I pulled off again and rechecked the bolt. All was as before. I decided I could make it home without losing the tag.

Which is what I did. I took 610 east, then I-45 south. The odometer rolled over to 17,000 just as I approached the exit onto I-10. I did a quick bird, due to the heavier traffic. I then took the Heights exit, stopped off to fill the tank with gas, and headed home. When I rolled up to the driveway I had 17,005 miles on the bike, and it was not yet ten in the morning. Thanks to everyone who is keeping up with my adventures, and especially to those of you who write to let me know. I have enjoyed my first 17,000 miles on the bike, and I look forward to many more. And, of course, to many more miles of--you guessed it--thinking while I ride. So, enjoy your bikes, and don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 12,2006:

Today, Sarah awoke at 4:40 a.m. Because I was going for an early, early morning ride, I got up with her. I showered and shaved, while she impatiently watched. We then went down for the paper. It wasn't here yet. I served her breakfast, and I got suited up. Her walk would have to wait for a more civilized hour. But not my ride.

Earlier in the week, Maria had set us up with a vet appointment for Sarah's annual checkup at 9:30 a.m. And Maria had mentioned that the Panera's Cinnamon Crunches would be nice for breakfast, if I was riding anywhere near a Panera's. So I had planned my route with these two requirements in mind, plus a third one.

Yesterday, I had ended my ride with 16,663.6 miles on the odometer. Today, with a little connivance, I planned to turn mile 16,666.6 while on the warm-up portion of my ride. I just hadn't planned on it being so dark out.

I checked the air in the tires, and headed out, camera in my jacket. It was 5:35 a.m. And it was dark. I decided to get in my warm-up miles as quickly as possible. So I headed for Studewood. I went north to 11th, then west to Heights, then south on Heights, then east on 11th, then south on Harvard. I was a few blocks into Harvard, when the odometer rolled over. I pulled to a stop, removed my right-hand glove, got out the camera, and snapped away. I am not sure the odometer is legible. In ambient light, it was too dark. With a flash, there was glare on the speedometer glass. Oh well, at least I saw the event.

Having wasted enough time on pictures, I headed for the gas station to fill up the tank. After doing so, I got on I-10, heading east. It was about ten till six. Traffic was almost non-existent. I had no trouble working my way over to the far left-hand lane, and entering I-45, heading north. This freeway was also pretty empty. I headed west on 610, and took the Highway 290 exit.

It was fun being out so early. However, I was reminded of the special problems of riding the freeways in the dark. When all you can see in your mirrors are dots of lights, it is very hard to estimate speeds and distances. Which creates its own risks. Fortunately, traffic was so light, the dark wasn't a problem.

I continued west on Highway 290 for several miles. Just outside Waller, I saw a falling star streak to its firery death. And then I was in fog.

Temperatures were not especially hot or cold for most of the trip. But every so often I would hit a fog bank, and it seemed the temperatures would drop twenty degrees. I was reminded of winter cold, if only for a short while.

Another thing about today's fog: Because it was now in "first light," the large banks of fog made the surrounding countryside look like it was covered in water. There was fog, as far as the eye could see. But its uniform nature made its distant manifestation seem like water lapping up onto the "shore." It was very pretty, and made prettier by the fact that, except in short stretches, the road was clear.

I planned to take FM 1887 south to FM 529, then take FM 359 back to Highway 290. That would let me get in some curves, without stretching out the ride too long. Unfortunately, when plotting out my route, I had not paid sufficient attention to detail.

I completely missed FM 1887. When I looked at the map later, I realized why. It's not really called FM 1887 at the point it intersects Highway 290. I'm not sure what it is called, but one gets to it by taking the exit for Highway 6 in Hempstead, and going south. Which I did not do.

Anyway, by the time I hit the bridge over the Brazos River, I realized I had missed my exit. And it was really too late to do anything about it if I was going to stop at Panera's and still have time for breakfast and a quick shower before heading for the Vets.

: So I u-turned and headed back. The ride was still fun, albeit straight. I got in lots of peaceful thinking time, which I put to good use. Still, I missed those curves. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Back in Houston, I took the Tidwell exit, u-turned, and headed for Panera's. If you haven't tried their Cinnamon Crunches, I highly recommend you do so. I don't know what the calorie count is, but the pleasure count is way up there.

After paying for my loot, I got back on Highway 290, and continued home. When I pulled up to the driveway, it was just at eight o'clock, and I had 16,797 miles on the bike. And I was still on schedule, even though I had taken a couple of minutes at Panera's to sample the Cinnamon Crunches--just to make sure they were up to par.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Check back to see what I do on tomorrow's ride. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 11,2006:

We got an inch of rain yesterday afternoon. This morning, the skies were mostly clear, with just a scattering of clouds. Temperatures were still hot. And Sarah was still ready to walk. So, at six, we were up and off on a morning stroll. When we got back, Sarah got her breakfast, and I suited up for my ride.

I had to add air to the front and back tires. I then warmed up and entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was fairly light for a Friday morning. And fairly fast.

I had an enjoyable two circuits. Lots of thinking time. And, because of progress at work, I even had brain cells to spare on fun thoughts. Mostly, the four wheelers behaved themselves, and the road gators stayed home.

I did encounter one large piece of plywood. Fortunately, it was dead center in my lane, and I was traveling on the right-hand tire track, both circuits. I hardly had to swerve.

I really enjoy those mornings when everyone is moving at a good clip. Of course, I have to keep up to go with the flow of the traffic. And I still get a charge every time I round a banked curve at sixty-plus speeds. And, no matter what the morning temperatures, high speeds keep things cool.

I have enough work today, that I had to content myself with two quick circuits. Enough. Enough now. But the weekend is coming and, rain permitting, I plan to get in more than thirty minutes at a stretch both days. When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 16,663 miles on the bike. I lubed the chain, and went inside to get the camera ready for tomorrow. If I can rig it, I plan to snap a picture at 16,666.6 miles. I only need three miles to make the milestone, and I should be able to accomplish the feat during the warmup section, assuming I don't forget. Keeped tuned, and don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 10,2006:

We took Sarah for her walk at the normal time. But, unlike yesterday morning, there was no coolness in the air. Yesterday, during lunch, I noticed that the thermometer in my car registered in the triple digits. Today started like it could see a repeat of that situation.

Sarah's position was that she would not be out at noon, and was ready for her walk now. So off we went, hot air notwithstanding. When we got back, Sarah was hungry. I fed her, and suited up.

Tire presure was good. So was my warmup ride. I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was pretty heavy. There were lane changers everywhere. And not just the kind who need to exit. No, these folk were jockeying for position to hurry on their way. Drivers like this are a real threat to motorcyclists, because such behavior is not always predictable. One driver who was behind me changed into the lane to my right (which was an exit only lane), accelerated around me, then switched back into my lane instead of taking the exit. I was watching, and ready for such craziness, but it sure made a relaxing ride an impossibility.

I am also up against a big deadline at work, and I have to admit that most of my spare thinking time seemed captured by those work problems. I almost headed home after the first circuit. However, I decided I needed my ride more than ever, so I continued on.

I was back on I-10, heading west, when a car ahead of me hit a road gator so hard that the gator flew into the air. It dropped harmlessly to my left, but it did give me a start.

I continued on down I-10, and took the exit for the North Loop. When I got to I-45, I took it south. Almost immediately, traffic came to a stop. It was slow going all the way to I-10. No close call, however.

When I got to the Heights exit, I headed on home. By the time I rode up to the driveway, the odometer read 16,633 miles. Rain is predicted for the rest of the week, with chances increasing all weekend. Well, we need the rain. And I got in my morning ride on dry streets. Stay tuned to see what tomorrow morning holds. And try to squeeze in some time for thinking.

* * * * *

August 9,2006:

It felt good to be back in the saddle again. And Sarah, who has been at the kennel, was happy to be on the road again. Even though they are saying it will be blazing hot today, there was a touch of coolness in the morning air. Which Maria and I appreciated. Sarah just seemed happy to be on a long walk!

When we got back, I fed Sarah and suited up. The air was barely down in either tire. I headed out, warmed up, and entered I-10, heading west.

Traffic was moderate. It has been five days since I tested the freeway waters for any extended period of time. Fortunately, my riding habits were still firmly in place, and no problems were encountered. Well, no "unexpected" problems, anyway.

Once, when I was changing lanes, I discovered a sheet of plywood in the transition portion of my path of travel. There was nothing to do but make a quick decision that there were no nails, and roll over it. It was far too big to swerve around, even if I had had the spare traction.

The first circuit went without further incident. On the second circuit, I encountered heavy traffic on I-45 South, causing me to quickly slow down to around 30 miles per hour. I was watching the odometer, and figuring I would roll over to 16,600 just as I got back on I-10. In fact, the magic happened just as I was completing the curved exit off I-45 onto the Katy Freeway. Traffic magically cleared, and I was in the process of accelerating up to a memorable speed when I noticed that a police car had slipped in behind me. Oops. I let the throttle go, and continued at a more sedate pace.

Even with the distraction in blue, I watched the odometer roll from 16,599.9 to 16,600.0. I then took the Heights exit and worked my way back home. When I rolled up to the driveway, I had 16,603 miles on the bike, some great thinking time under my belt, and the memory of some nice freeway speeds. It was good to be back on the road. Don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 8,2006:

I'm back! From the belly of the beast. Yes, I have spent the last few days in Washington, D.C. I endured the Gestapo mentality of the TSA, and all the metal detectors that are in most of the government buildings in D.C.

Upon reflection, I have decided not to add the planned twenty paragraphs on why I hate being treated like a criminal by the US Government, the denigration of the Fourth Amendment and the reversal of the presumption of innocence. Because this blog is about the freedom of riding a motorcycle. And so, back to business.

I arrived back at the house by 5:30 p.m. After unloading the car, and feeding Sarah, I suited up and headed out to check the air pressure in the tires.

First, the good news. The back tire was down less than half a pound. The front tire, however, read 25 psi. That means it lost one pound for every day since I had inspected it on Friday morning. I don't know what this means. I added four pounds of air to the tire, bringing it back to the 29 psi it is rated for. Thus inspired, I headed out.

Because I had not ridden for three days, and because I was starving (a half a turkey sandwich on the Continental flight does not count as a lunch), I decided to spend the ride getting my sea legs back.

I did a long warmup on the back roads off of 6th Street, then took Shepherd to 14th Street. I headed east to Houston Avenue, then took the twisties on White Oak. Next, I headed for the feeder road for I-10, and filled up with gas. I then u-turned, entered I-10, and got in a little high-speed riding before heading home off of TC Jester. Oh yes, I stopped at the post office to pick up the mail.

All in all, I had a great ride. I am ready to face the freeways tomorrow morning. And I may even spend some of that riding time reflecting on the depravity of that center of power just north of Richmond.

For now, let it be known that (1), I rewatched National Treasure, and (2), I now have 16,568 miles on the bike. And my disposition is steadily improving. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 4,2006:

This will have to be a short entry, because I have an out-of-town hearing at nine, and I have to leave by 7:30 a.m. To give me more riding time, I aired up both tires last night. This morning, I was relieved to see that the tire pressure held, and no additional air was needed.

I was on the road by 5:30 a.m. It was dark. I warmed up and entered I-10, heading west. The main issue of the day was whether I could fit in one circuit or two and still make my court hearing. A side issue was what effect the dark riding would have.

The first circuit went fine. There was no backup anywhere alone the route. So, glancing at my belt watch, I decided I could get in fifteen more minutes of two-wheeled pleasure. I went for the second circuit.

Even though it was a Friday, traffic was pretty light. I guess that was because I got an early start on my run. Because my route was familiar, I did not encounter any problems with riding before first light. However, I totally knew my route, where the problems usually arose, and how ofter I would have to change lanes. I still do not recommend night riding for beginning riders.

Anyway, I got to enjoy thirty miles of high speed pleasure. And thirty miles of high octane thinking, even if most of that thinking was devoted to those special problems caused by riding before dawn. It was a great start to the weekend.

I now have 16,555 miles on the bike. Because of certain matters, I will be away from the computer for a couple of days. So don't worry at the absence of blog enteries. I'll get back on track as soon as possible. In the meantime, enjoy your rides. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 3,2006:

Today we went for Sarah's walk at the regular schedule. Which is not to say that Sarah didn't lobby for an earlier departure time. However, once we got started, Sarah got in the groove, and enjoyed her walk. She also enjoyed her breakfast.

While she ate, I suited up. I checked the air in the tires, and headed out. Warmup went fine. I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was fairly light. Speeds were fairly fast.

I missed watching the odometer roll over to mile 16,500 because it came while I was merging onto the West Loop from I-10. This is an especially hazardous stretch along my morning circuit, and I usually pay so much attention to the lane changers that I don't have mental capacity for anything else. And that was the case today.

Fortunately, I was soon through the gauntlet, and able to think of more pleasant things. Work has been especially hectic lately, and that occupied some of my thoughts. But I did save room for other areas, and other concerns.

I was pleased that nothing untoward happened on this run. No road gators attacked; no cell phoners wandered into my lane, and no police officers pulled their radar guns. It was a pleasant start to the day.

When I completed the ride, I had 16,525 miles on the bike. I have a busy Friday, but I am still hopeful that I can get in a nice ride. Keep your fingers crossed. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 2,2006:

Today Sarah decided we should get an early start. As in 4:30 a.m. I agreed to get up, but only if I could have a book and bath. So, it was nearer six o'clock when we started out for her (much delayed!) walk. After completing her circuit, I fed Sarah, suited up, and headed out to complete my circuits.

But first, I had to add a pound of air to the front tire. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was fairly heavy. I had to concentrate to make sure no car was traveling next to me. When I got the the point where I had to decided on I-45 or the Highway 59 extension, I glanced to my right and saw a backup on I-45. So I took the extension. It turned out to be a wise choice. There was no similiar backup on Highway 59 south. I was making good time.

Before I knew it, I was back at the option point of I-45 and Highway 59. But this time it was a no brainer. Traffic was backed up all the way onto the Loop from people taking I-45. I decided to take the extension. And I was happy to note that, once again, there was no backup on my chosen route. Traffic was a little too heavy for much contemplation time, but the speeds were fast, and that made the ride enjoyable.

I took the Heights exit and headed home. Wehn I rolled up to the driveway I had 16,495 miles on the bike. Right on schedule. And a fun ride under my belt. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

August 1,2006:

It is the first day of August. Sarah decided it would be good to celebrate with a morning walk. I agreed. So off we went. When we returned, I fed the girl, and suited up.

Once again, I had to add air to the front tire. After that, I headed out for my warmup run. Today, I thumbed the choke off at the first stop sign. That was too early. The engine ran rough for three blocks. At the third stop sign, I killed it when I accelerated. And I was right in front of a young lady walking two dogs. The dogs were taking particular offense at my presence, and she may not have heard me restart the bike over the melodious sounds coming from her canine companions. Even so, I decided to put the choke back on.

Within another three blocks, I was able to thumb it off without ill effect. Oh well.

I got on I-10, heading west. I took the West Loop north to the North Loop. I decided to add the Highway 59 extension. Traffic was light and speeds were fast. Great thinking conditions. The book that had given me so much trouble yesterday, had taken a nice turn, and pleasant thoughts ensued.

Those thoughts were put aside as I got on that portion of 610 between I-45 and Highway 59. This section is newly routed because of continuing construction. There are two lanes going east, and a single lane that is isolated from the other two by concrete barriers. It is sort of like being in a contra flow lane. Yesterday, I took it without ill effect. Today, I swerved to the left. The reason was that a big Budweiser delivery truck was directly ahead of me. It would totally obscure my view of the road ahead. Plus, with little maneuver room in the isolated lane, road gators became more of a problem.

First, I couldn't see around the truck to give me any warning. Second, the truck filled up the lane, and I had no idea where any of the wayward retreads would bounce. It was not worth the risk.

I took Highway 59 south to I-10, then headed west. I was cruising along at about 65 mph* when, all of a sudden, a gigantic road gator bounced up in the center of the lane to my left. I hadn't noticed what caused it to appear, but it shot straight up its full height. Which had to be at least eight feet. It must have been an intact eighteen-wheeler retread. The gator appeared so suddenly it was as if it was a sea monster, spurting out from Loch Ness. A red Mustang was in the lane next to me, and it hit the gator smack on. The monster flew over the Mustang's hood, and bounced to my left.

All of this happened on the first circuit. The second circuit was uneventful, other than the fact that I noticed road gators everywhere I looked. But they were mostly on the shoulder or in other lanes. I had plenty of thinking time on the this circuit, and no close calls. When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 16,457 miles on the Rebel. A good morning's pleasure. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

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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.

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