* * * * *
November 12, 2006:
It was 47 degrees when I woke up at five. Way too cold to go riding. I rolled over and went back to sleep. It was still 47 degrees an hour later when Sarah let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she was ready for breakfast. So, we went downstairs, got the paper, and got her breakfast. I confirmed the temperature on the house thermometer. Ugh. No early ride this morning.
Even at seven, the mercury had not moved much. Maria and I had a nice breakfast, then bundled up and took Sarah for her walk. By the time we returned, it was 64 degrees. I decided to shower, suit up, and head out.
Today is my 20,000 mile run. I decided to do a circuit that would take me to Chappel Hill, Independence and Bellville. I mapped out my route, checked the air in the tires and let Maria know I would be gone for around four hours, depending on the temperature.
I was in full winter gear. I had on long johns and my PolarTec Windblock shirt. I wasn't sure the temperature justified the PolarTec, but I didn't want a repeat of yesterday's cold ride.
After warming up, I headed for the Shell station to top off the tank. I managed to get most of the gas inside without sloshing anything on the outside of the tank. I didn't want to have to smell gas for the first part of my ride. Still, that meant I could not fill the tank to the brim. And that decision would come back to haunt me. I zeroed the tripometer and headed east on I-10.
I took I-45 north, and the North Loop to the west. I then got on Highway 290, heading for Chappell Hill. I was watching the mileage, and trying to calculate where I would be when mile 20,000 came around. Traffic wasn't too bad, all considered. There were lots of cars, but everyone colored within the lines.
I noted that it took me sixty-three miles to reach Chappell Hill. That left me with about twenty-five miles to my goal. I headed north on FM 1155. This is one of my favorite section of twisties. I just wish it didn't take an hour to get to it.
It has been a while since I had been on this section of highway. And it has been a while since I have traveled on a stretch of hills and curves. What a great combination. And the surrounding scenery always inspires me. Horses everywhere. Very pretty country.
I took FM 1155 to FM 2193, which I took to the west. I know I have logged at least one big mile turnover on this stretch of road. Today, that was not to be. As I came to the long descending hill on this road, I noted that I was a dozen miles short of my goal. Oh well. I used the opportunity to do the bird as I sailed down the hill, nonetheless.
Shortly thereafter, I came to Highway 105, which I took north until I got to Scenic Highway 390, which I took to the west. This has to be the best stretch of hills and twisties I have yet to discover around here. I really wanted to do the bird for mile 20,000, and I had a car on my tail. I speeded up, all the while watching the mileage roll by. I began to worry that I would catch mile 20,000 at the stop sign for Highway 50. Wouldn't that be exciting.
And that is almost what happened. As I rolled up to the stop sign, I had under one mile to go. I scooted across the Highway, and laid on some speed. I was approaching a complicated "S" curve, on the uphill side. I have never done the bird while going uphill. And I didn't think I could do so, because my right hand would be off the throttle, which would be needed to continue against the force of gravity.
But, I lucked out. Just as I reached the top of the hill, I encountered a (very short) straight section. Which was level. So, I added a burst of speed, extended my arms straight out from my sides, and watched the odometer roll from 19,999.9 to 20,000.0. I was barely done when the sharp curves started up again. I grabbed the handlebars and continued on my way.
It felt good to have mile 20,000 under my belt. And it felt especially good that I had not missed watching the odometer roll over. That done, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. I was alone on the road, and I began to test the limits. I took the curves as fast as I could, watching my lines, and skirting the limits of traction whenever the opportunity presented itself. I was doing pretty well until I came to a hard right hand turn that was posted at 20 mph.
I headed into the curve at a conservative 40 mph*. The curve was every bit as sharp as the sign had indicated. My momemtum took me over the centerline by about a foot. A little too close to the edge on that one. Still, I was having a great time.
When the next ninety degree curve came alone, I slowed down to 30 mph* for the 20 mph turn, and did much better. And so it went for the remainder of Highway 390.
Burton is the last town on the west end of Scenic 390. When I got to Highway 290, I took it to the west for a couple of miles until I came to FM 2502, which I took south toward Bellville. The road sign said "Rough Road Ahead." I'm not sure what they meant, but the curves and hills continued.
I came to the intersection with Highway 109, and I began to have doubts about my navigation. I pulled over to consult my maps. My hand drawn map clearly showed Highway 159 as my next turn. But I was beginning to doubt that. Maybe I had labeled it wrong, and it was really 109 instead. My tripometer read 137 miles, and I remembered that I had not been able to fill up the gas tank. And I had been running close to the limits of the Rebel's speed all morning. I didn't know how much gas I had left in the main tank, and I didn't know how far it was to the next station. I got my torn out page from The Roads of Texas book. Unfortunately, the book split the page at Brenham, so I was off the edge of the map. Here there be dragons.
I couldn't tell what to do. I decided to go with my hand drawn map, and continue south. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't find a gas station until I got to Bellville, and I hoped I would get there before running the reserve tank dry. But if I didn't, what a blog entry that would make!
After a few more miles, I hit Highway 159, just where it was supposed to be. I took it on in to Bellville, and I stopped off at the Shell station on the west end of town to fill up my tank. Once replinished, I continued on in to Bellville, and I stopped at Newman's Bakery.
Newman's is a Mecca for all bikers in the area. I have never been there that there wasn't at least one other bike present. Today was no different. I pulled into the parking lot, and changed into my do-rag. I went inside, claimed a window table, and ordered a glazed donut and some coffee. From my chair, I watched dozens of motorcycles go by. Shortly after I sat down, a leather-clad couple entered, in matching jackets. The man was older, and he was accompanied by an athletic woman in short, red hair. They proceeded to place their orders, and sat down next to me. We acknowledged each other as fellow road travelers. A few gestures conveyed much information. We were all of the band of two wheelers. Not much more need be said.
I finished up my coffee, and headed back to my bike. I noted that the couple was riding a Gold Wing, and that they had matching white helmets. I also noted that about half a dozen bikers had stopped at the hamburger joint across the street, and they were pulling out. We exchanged salutes as the rode by.
I started up my bike, and continue toward Houston. I had one last stop on this trip. I headed east on Highway 529. This is a nice stretch of road, with sweeping curves and a rural setting. It has a few hills, but nothing like Scenic 390. Still, it beats Highway 290 hands down.
It very much felt like I was on the downhill side of this trip. I rode most of the way behind a white Sebring convertible, and I made no effort to pass the driver. I was content to ease down the highway, spending quality time on the philosophic problems of the day.
Before I knew it, I spotted a Half Price Bookstore! What a surprise. I couldn't ignore such luck, so I pulled in. I spend a pleasant half our going through the phychology and philosophy sections. And I even found a couple of books to add to my small collection at home.
Leaving the Half Price, I headed north on Highway Six, giving Cynthia a couple of toots of my horn as I passed her apartment. I then took Highway 290 back to the Loop. I missed watching the odometer roll over to mile 20,100 by about a mile. Oh well.
At the exit for 610, I took the North Loop to I-45, then headed south. I then took I-10 west to the Heights exit, and headed for the house. Maria was working in the garage when I rolled up. It was just after four. I had been gone since 11:30 a.m., and had logged 208 miles. It was a good ride. I now have 20,120 miles on the odometer.
This is my last regular entry of this blog. It has been a fun run, but the time has come to wind it up. I have enjoyed the last eighteen month of riding and writing, and I hope you have gotten some useful tips from all this. I know my riding skills have improved just by the act of making my daily riding adventures come back alive through analyzing them and putting them on paper.
Of course, I don't intend to stop riding. And, if one of my rides produces information I think would be useful, I'll post it under a new section called My Honda Rebel Blog, Miscellaneous. I don't know if these additional postings will be weekly or monthly, but they won't be daily.
So, as I bring this eighteeen month blog to a close, I will leave you with a final salute:
See you on the road. And don't forget to think.
* * * * *
November 11, 2006:
Today, I got to take a bath and read some before hitting the road. (And Sarah had to wait till this afternoon for her hitting of the road.) It was 54 degrees when I got up, and John was scheduled to arrive at 7:30 a.m. After some pleasant time in the water, I got up, got the paper, fed the girl, and checked the air in the tires.
The front tire was down a half a pound. The back tire was down a quarter pound. I decided to leave the pressures alone, figuring that the cold temperature accounted for the slight loss. I next went back inside, collecting Sarah on the way, and fixed some coffee for John's arrival. And turned on CSPAN-2.
Every weekend, all weekend, CSPAN-2 broadcasts Book-TV. You get the chance to watch and listen to an author talk about the author's latest book. The talks are usually at bookstores. There is almost always a question and answer session after the talk. Some talks are long, some are short. Most are very interesting, if you like ideas. Which I do.
Anyway, this morning the author was a Mr. Gallagher, who was talking about a Civil War battle. But, instead of a bookstore, the talk was in the battlefield. I am not a Civil War buff. But I am a book buff, and this guy was great. I learned things about the Battle of Antitiem that I had never known. And that, my friends, is why, when I have a few minutes to watch TV, I prefer Book-TV to all other selections.
The show was still playing when I heard John's motorcycle. After exchanging pleasantries, we both watched for a while, while drinking a first cup of coffee. John showed me his tire kit, which he had brought with him this time. He was ready for most tubeless mishaps. He even had three very small CO2 cannisters to reinflate the tire. They certainly took up less room that the aerosol can of tire inflator I carry on long trips. But my can is claimed to work on the tubed front tire of the Rebel. I was glad we didn't have to test any products on today's ride.
When we finally left, it was still cold. I lead the way to the Shell station, where I fought the pumps to get in some gas. Once again, the new rubber shrouds on the handles caused me to be less than precise with my pumping efforts. Once again, I spilled gas on the outside of the tank as the force of the stream sloshed gas everywhere as I neared the top of the tank.
After filling up, we headed for breakfast in Galveston. I felt like a small plane pilot. They are known for firing up their charges, just to fly somewhere for a meal. Galveston was a far ride for breakfast, and I was loving it. Well, except for the temperature.
We took I-10 to the East Loop, then cut south over the Ship Channel Bridge. Next, we continued on to Galveston on I-45. Because of our coffee, it was after eight in the morning. Traffic was very fast and very heavy. The trip required constant concentration to stay away from the metal monsters zooming all around us. Mostly, the cars and trucks were well behaved, with little erratic lane changing.
As we got near the Island, I could smell the sea air. And, more significantly, I could feel the sea air. As in cross winds. The sea "breezes" felt very hard. I was buffeted all over the freeway, and I crouched down on my bike to decrease my cross-sectional area. That helped a little with the strong gusts, but it was still a wild time. I kept having images of a strong wind lifting me off the freeway. Yikes. Maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but it sure felt like it was.
And did I forget to mention that it was cold? Even though it actually warmed up a little as we crossed the Causeway, it was still much colder than I like. I headed straight to 61st Street, then straight to Seawall, then straight to the Galvez Hotel.
We parked our bikes on a side street, and donned our do-rags. Helmets in hand, we headed for the Hotel entrance. The Door Man greeted us with "You guys are a week late." It was a reference to the fact that last weekend Galveston was awash in motorcycles at the Lone Star Rally. I'm sure the Hotel Galvez got a new appreciation of cyclists last weekend. I bet it is not every weekend in November when the Hotel is booked solid. And I bet it was booked solid last weekend.
Anyway, he let us enter, and we made our way to the warm restaurant. I ordered Bernardo's Benedicts and John had The Texan. And, of course, we had several cups of the hot Starbucks coffee that they serve. It was delicious, as was the breakfast fare.
After a very pleasant time (at a table in plain view of the Hotel guests), we headed back for Houston. I had decided we would go on back to the house and get the PT to take to the CycleWorld Show at Reliant Center. That way, if we bought something, we would have a way it get it home. You see, John had custom ordered a new (and larger) set of saddlebags, but he lacked some part needed to make them fit his Harley, so he didn't have saddlebags this trip. And I had never purchased them for the Rebel. So we had no easy wayto deal with bulky purchases.
A glance at the tripometer revealed that it is almost exactly sixty miles from my house to the Galvez. And a glance at some of the wall art in the Hotel revealed that it (and my eggs Benedict dish) was named for Bernardo Galvez, who I assume "founded" Galveston. Or, at least, they named the island, the Hotel and the egg dish after him.
The trip back was marginally warmer, but no less windy. If anything, the trip over the Causeway Bridge seemed windier than on the way down. I still had to concentrate on dealing with the side winds, and the traffic was still pretty heavy.
Although the cold and wind (and cars) resulted in less than a normal amount of thinking time, the trip was lots of fun, and the food was terrific. I highly recommend the Hotel Galvez for a breakfast run. Just be sure and dress appropriately. For the temperatures, I mean.
During the trip back, I watched the odometer roll over to 19,900 miles. I had missed the earlier roll over to 19,800, so I was happy to catch this one. We were right at the Broadway exit on I-45 when it happened. Otherwise, after we got out of the Island winds, nothing else of significance happened on the return leg.
Back at the house, we warmed up our fingers. I changed out of my riding gear and John and I piled into the PT Cruiser and headed for the motorcycle show. There was free parking if you were riding a motorcycle, and I recommend that mode of transportation for future shows. The whole area was so crowded with people attending other shows, that we were channeled to a parking area that was at least a mile away from our show. I noted that the motor cycles were all parked right next to the show entrance. Oh well, live and learn.
We walked from the car to the motorcycle parking area, and gawked at the wide variety of rides. There were as many bikes to admire in the parking lot as inside the show. And several manufacturers were offering free demo rides if you had gear and a helmets. Which we didn't. There were no long rides for the demo rides. You got on, and a manufacturer's rep led the way, and a manufacturer's rep led the rear, just to make sure no one wandered off. Some tours went on freeways and some just did a big circle. It was a way to get a small taste of how a bike handles. The Harley guys were not offering rides on any of the bikes I am considering, so I was not too disappointed that we had come in the PT.
The show itself was really neat. There may have been more bikes outside than inside, but you got to sit on the inside bikes. I have not perched on most bikes offered for sale in the US. That includes Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, ducatis, BMWs, Buells, Victories, Kawasakis and, of course, every variation of Harley Davidson.
You can't tell everything by just sitting on a bike, but you can tell a lot. You can get a feel for the bike's height, weight and layout. The crowds were thick, but I had no trouble sitting on scores and scores of bikes. It was a very valuable experience, made all the more useful by John's experienced comments.
Interestingly, I think some of the same ladies that were in Galveston were back in their bikinis, modeling leather chaps. I didn't catch anyone custom fitting the outerwear, however.
I got lots of literature, and spent lots of time ogling the bikes. John bought a set of tie downs that looked neat, and we both watched some hot doggers putting their dirt bikes through some fancy moves. It was a very pleasant time.
We headed back home, where I loaned John the DVD The World's Fastest Indian in honor of the fact that we got to check out the world's (currently) fastest motorcycle, which was at the show. It was vaguely reminisent of the shap of the motorcycle in the DVD. I was surprised to see little pieces of duct tape in various strategic places on the bike. Ah yes, what would we do without that stuff.
Back at the house, we recapped the day over cokes and tea, and John headed back to Kingwood. I rechecked my odometer, and noted that I now have 19,912 miles on the bike. Tomorrow should be my Twenty Thousand Mile run. I won't be taking it too early, as mornig temperatures are supposed to be in the forties. Stay tuned, nonetheless. And, whatever the temperature, don't forget to think.
* * * * *
November 10, 2006:
Today I had to get moving fifteen minutes earlier than yesterday in order to make it to my seminar in time. Unfortunately, yesterday had been a long day, culminating in a meeting of the Houston Rose Society last night. I did not get to bed early.
And I slept until the regular five-thirty alarm went off. Even so, we were on the road for Sarah's walk at the regular time. Which was fifteen minutes late today. Sarah did not seem concerned. After she finished her walk, I hurriedly suited up, checked the air in the tires (it was fine) and headed out.
During yesterday's ride, I figured two more of the routes I ran on Thursday would get me to 17,800 miles. Sadly, I couldn't figure a way to get in thirty minutes of riding this morning. So, to begin with, I contented myself with a single twenty mile circuit.
However, as I approached the exit for the Heights, I began figuring how many extra miles I could get if I rode to Washington on I-10, u-turned, and came back. I just needed four miles each way to make my goal. So, even though I was in the "exit only" lane, I whipped out of it at the last minute and continued on west down I-10. I passed Shepherd, then TC Jester, then came to Washington. That's the last exit before the Loop. I took it, even as I realized that I had not logged nearly enough miles to make 19,800. Oh well. There was just no way to get in those last few miles.
I headed home, lamenting the fact that I had come up short. When I rolled up to the driveway, I had 19,796 miles on the bike. So close, and yet so out of time. I quickly showered, dressed for success, gulped some breakfast and headed out. And yes, I made it to the seminar with minutes to spare. Thank heavens for light traffic on Friday. And, tomorrow looms brighter on the motorcycle horizon. John and I are scheduled to ride to Galveston for breakfast and then back to Reliant Center for the CycleWorld show. Stay tuned.
* * * * *
November 9, 2006:
It's weird, but my legal seminar starts fifteen minutes earlier each day. Wednesday the seminar began at 9:00. Today the start time was 8:45. Tomorrow it is 8:30. Ugh. This is messing up my riding times.
This morning, Sarah still got her walk. I don't know about tomorrow. But for today, she had a good time. When we got back, I fed the girl, and quickly suited up.
The air pressure was fine. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was pretty light. We had rushed Sarah through her walk, so I was a little ahead of my normal workday schedule. I decided to add a second circuit, so I could rack up some extra mileage. But, since the seminar started at 8:45, I opted for two of the fifteen mile circuits instead of the longer Highway 59 extensions.
Traffic continued to be light. There was lots of clown action, but it all happened far enough ahead of me that I didn't even have to react. That is a good thing.
I got in some nice thinking time, and temperatures were perfect. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to the house. I had 19,771 miles on the bike. And I was still on schedule.
* * * * *
November 8, 2006:
I am attending a Continuing Legal Education seminar on Civil Trials this week. That means I need to be on the road early today, tomorrow and Friday. So, I made sure we started Sarah's walk around six, and that I was back from my ride before 7:30 a.m.
I accomplished both feats. Channel 11 showed the temperature to be 53 degrees. We wore heavy coats for Sarah's walk. Even so, it was cold. I wore full gear for today's ride. Even so, it was cold.
Fortunately, trafic was light, and there were no back ups. I got in some great thinking time, and some nice speeds. I really wanted to add some extra time/mileage to the ride, but I could not figure out a way to do so and make the seminar on time. So it goes.
After a single circuit, I headed home. It had been a fun ride, with no close calls. I now have 19,741 miles on the bike. And lots of thinking under my helmet.
* * * * *
November 7, 2006:
Today it was 57 degrees out when we got up. The streets were still damp from yesterday's rain, during which we got three tenths of an inch. Sarah did not mind the wet grass, and I did not mind wearing a warm jacket.
When we got back, I suited up in full winter gear, and headed out. I had to add a pound of air to the front tire. I then warmed up and entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was very slow once I entered the West Loop. That is unusual. This morning, it was caused by a truck that had lost a load of PVC pipe. The kind used for irrigation systems. The kind sold in ten foot lengths. Some of which were still on the freeway. Others of which were shattered all over the place. It was like riding through a white mine field, with broken pieces of PVC everywhere.
Fortunately, I managed to weave my way through the debris without damamge to my tires. Speaking of which, I want to interrupt this narrative to update everyone on John's flat. As you will recall from my Sunday blog, John arrived with a flat. We added a can of Fix-a-Flat to the tire, and it held air well enough for him to make it from the Heights to the Kingwood. Today, the tire was still holding air. He rode his bike in to the Woodlands Harley dealership to have the tire repaired. They claimed that the Fix-a-Flat solution does not harden in a motorcycle tire like it does in a car tire. They said it makes a big mess inside the tire requiring a thorough rim cleaning before the new tire is mounted. They recommended a brand new tire. Ugh.
I don't know what I think of this. It doesn't seem reasonable to me that a motorcycle tire would be all that different from a car tire, insofar as Fix-a-Flat is concerned. It may well be that the Fix-a-Flat remains liquid in a tire, and that may cause it to be extra work to clean off the rim, but I am not convinced that a new tire would be required. Still, one needs to be aware of this opinion by professional mechanics. John decided to replace the tire. Fortunately, the extended warranty he had purchased when he got his Harley covered the tire replacement even with the Fix-a-Flat. Ot would have cost $200 to $300 without the prepaid coverage.
Back to my morning ride. I got to enjoy the rest of the morning circuit, and even got in some nice thinking time. Sadly, because of an early morning appointment, I had to content myself with a single circuit. I now have 19,721 miles on the bike. And, for the next three days, I have more early morning meetings that will also force me to take (relatively) short rides. So it goes.
* * * * *
November 6, 2006:
It was another warm morning. The thermometer at the house read 70 degrees. Once outside, we were confronted with cloudy skies. The radio had predicted rain would begin hitting Houston by just after six. That seemed very possible.
Sarah enjoyed her walk, which was conducted at a slightly faster pace than usual. Once back home, I fed her and suited up. I recalled the saying about "red sky in the morning" as I headed out. Fortunately, the air in both tires had been fine. I was getting an early start, but we had long ago used up the twenty minutes the radio had talked about.
I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was medium. As I approached the exit for 610, I noticed that the western sky was filled with lightning. And thunder filled my helmet. Once on the West Loop, rain began hitting. As I used my gloved finger to wipe away the drops from the visor, I noticed a beautiful rainbow to my left. The sun has to be behind you before you can see a rainbow. And Mister Sun was barely making an appearance this morning. But I guess there was sufficient light, even if he was peeking through a cloudy mist.
Once I headed east on the North Loop, I rode out of the rain. Still, the sky behind me was getting darker and darker. I wanted to log mile 19,700 this morning, and I would need twenty miles to do it. So, I added the Highway 59 extension, calculating that if the rain came, I would only be in it for a couple of miles as I headed back west on I-10.
As I rode south on Highway 59, I noted that the skyline was only partly visible through the clouds. But the streets were dry. I was worried about the backup that I often encounter at the intersection of Highway 59 as it feeds into I-10. Today, there was no backup until I was well down the I-10 roadway. And when it came, the rains had not yet hit, so the streets had plenty of traction.
By the time I came to I-45, the rain was hitting with full force. And the sky was alive with lightning and thunder. Exactly as I came to the Hieghts exit, I watched the odometer roll over to 19,700. I took the Heights exit and rode home on a direct path. Even so, I faced a pickup driver who started to run a stop sign to my left. And a guy who spun his tires from a too fast acceleration from yet another stop sign. I was glad to make it home. I now have 19,701 miles on the bike, and wet riding gear to deal with. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.
* * * * *
November 5, 2006:
We had a late night on Saturday. The Rouses, from down the street, had a house concert. It was after ten when we got home. And Sarah was still demanding her walk.
This morning, I woke up at four, and decided it was way too early to get up. It seemed like only a second between the time I decided to catch forty more winks and the time I checked the alarm clock again, only to discover it was already five. I got up, showered, checked for the paper (it was too early), checked my email, fed Sarah, and checked the air in both tires. They were fine, as was the temperature. It was 67 degrees out.
I got the coffee ready for John's arrival, grabbed a book and sat down on one of the front porch rockers to await his arrival. John had offered to meet at the Shell station, but I persuaded him to come by the house. He was concerned about awakening the neighbor with his Harley. As I sat on the porch, I could hear the distinctive exhaust of his bike when he was at least two blocks away.
When he rode up, the mufflers were quieter, due to the fact that John was coasting into the cul-de-sac. I was pleased with his efforts, but as he stopped and took off his helmet, I could see a frown on his face. Even before he got to the sidewalk, he announced that he had gotten a flat, only minutes earlier. I looked at his rear tire, and it seemed fine. It did not have that squashed look one sees when a car tire goes flat. I asked him how he could tell, and he said the bike was behaving a little squirrelly. He asked me to get the tire gauge. I did so.
I watched as he tested the pressure. The gauge did not move. I retested it myself. Although the Dunlop rear tire did not look flat because of especially strong sidewalls, I could only register two psi on the gauge. Wow.
John duck walked the bike while I looked for a screw or nail in the tire. I could not see anything. I then got on the bike and duck walked it while John looked for the culprit. He also came up empty. I brought the air tank and added air to the tire. I got the pressure up to about 30 psi. Then, I would readily hear the air hissing out from somewhere. Using my hand, I moved it along the tire until I felt the air coming out. The hole was in the recess of one of the thread patters, close to the outside sidewall.
John asked me to get a can of Fix-a-Flat. I asked him where his tire repair kit was. He said he had left it at the house. I said that I though he kept it in the saddlebags. A glance at the bike revealed that they were also missing. John is planning to sell them, and he had taken them off the bike for cleanup and photographing. So, I went for the Fix-a-Flat. I got a can and shook it up. I then screwed it onto the rear valve stem, and emptied the can's contents into the tubeless tire. We had to move the valve stem to the twelve o'clock position so the Fix-a-Flat would screw onto the valve stem. A six o'clock position is recommended by the manufacturer. A can with the extender tube would have been more useful for a motorcycle. On a car, the cheap can (without the tube extender) is fine. On a bike, the fender and disc brake can make attaching an aerosol can difficult.
Nonetheless, we got it done, and the contents into the tire. I wiped the threads with a tissue, then retested the psi. A can of Fix-a-Flat brought the pressure to 16 psi. I added more air through the air tank. Then John when for a short ride to distribute the sealant. The can says to drive a couple of miles immediately, which he did.
I tested the psi when he returned, and there was no loss of pressure. And the hiss of air was gone. I suggested we have some coffee to see what happened with the passage of time. We sat on the porch and enjoyed some freshly brewed Starbucks House Blend while we waited. Then, John was ready to head for home. He didn't want to chance a ride to Galveston on the bad tire. I didn't blame him. I retested the psi, and noted that he was losing a pound every ten minutes. I pressured the tire up (adding a little extra for insurance), and off he went. I could tell he was not happy about missing the Lone Star Rally.
I went back inside. Maria was fixing breakfast. She convinced me to have an egg and waffle at the house. She said it would not delay my arrival at the Strand anymore than I would be delayed if I ate in Galveston. So I joined her for breakfast, foregoing the Eggs Benedict I had planned to have with John at the Galvez.
Breakfast was good, but I noted that rain started to fall while we ate. Rain? It was not supposed to rain until this afternoon! At least it was a light rain. But, by the time I was suited up and ready to leave, the bike seat was wet, as were the streets.
I warmed up, and entered I-10, heading east. The freeways were totally soaked. Fortunately, traffic was light, and I was not too concerned. The rain continued as I traveled south on I-45. The skies were gray for as far as I could see. It looked like rain all the way to Galveston.
It turned out that the rain stopped by the time I reached Telephone Road. After that, the roads were dry. Which was good because I was riding with only one hand.
It seems that many bikers were leaving Galveston for home, even early on Sunday. I almost got tennis elbow from giving the biker's salute to oncoming bikes. I did omit the wave while traveling down the wet roads. But most of the ride was in the dry, and it seemed like I passed several hundred riders on my way to Galveston.
I watched the odometer roll to 19,600 miles on the way down. I continued on all the way to 21st Street. I took 21st toward the Strand. As I neared the rally point, the street was blocked off. I turned right, and parked on a side street near 19th and Mechanic. Fortunately, the parking meters were not in effect on Sundays. I took off my helmet and locked it into the helmet lock on the bike. I then walked to the vendor area.
It was not yet ten, and several of the booth were still closed. I walked around until most of the booths were open. I then visited each and every booth. It was clear that the turnout at the Rally was good, because many of the booth were sold out of certain items. I bought a ptch and a pin showing that I had attended the Rally.
As far as I could tell, the most popular purchase (after tee shirts) was custom fitted chaps. I talked to one booth owner who said he didn't think he could stand to sell another pair of chaps. You see, to custom fit them, the salesman has to get on his knees to measure the fit. He said he didn't think he could bend down one more time. Lots of bikers were buying chaps. I watched one sales lady as she trimmed the fringe on a female pair of chaps to a pleasing 45 degree angle on each side, coming to the apex in the center. Of course, the purchaser was wearing the chaps at the time. It gave me a new appreciation for the trouble some vendors would go to to make one look good in this particular form of riding apparel. In fact, I estimate that around twenty per cent of the attendees were in chaps. Some of the booths even featured bikini clad ladies wearing the particular brand of chaps that booth was featuring. It seemed an effective sales technique. Still, the Lone Star Rally is very tame compared to Sturgis or Daytona. Or so I have been told.
I spent the next three hours wandering around looking at the people and motorcycles. I then went back to my bike and took 21st to Seawall Boulevard. Once at the ocean, I headed to East Beach. The surfside ride seemed a fitting end to the whole experience. I then came on back home.
Traffic was much heavier on the way back. Still, everyone was well-behaved, and the streets continued to be dry. I stopped off at the Half-Price Books on Westheimer at Waugh and bougth a philosophy book.
Next, I headed to the Shell station to fill up with gas. I once again had problems topping off the tank because of the new nozzles that seem to only have two settings: Off and Too Fast. Again, I spilled gas outside the tank because of the force at which the nozzle emitted the gas. Even with this stop, I was home by three.
I noted that there are now 19,680 miles on the odometer. I headed for the bathtub to relax with my new book. It seemed only appropriate to sip a beer after the Rally. I picked a Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. After soaking for a while, I got out, dressed, and went back outside to rinse off the salt from my bike. So ended a great Sunday of bikes, booths and people watching, not necessarily in that order. I was sorry John had had to miss the fun. But I had had a great time. Don't miss the next Lone Star Rally. And don't forget to think.
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November 4, 2006:
We have a full plate today. So, unfortunately, I had to treat this morning like a work day morning. That meant I got up before 5:30 a.m., grabbed a shower, got the paper, fed the dog, and suited up for an early ride. It was 45 degrees at the airport and 50 degrees in the Heights. Maria opted to take Saturday off from walking Sarah. I did not opt to take Saturday off from my ride, especially since it was a sultry 50 degrees out.
While Sarah was doing her business in the back yard (and looking resigned to foregoing her walk), I checked the air in both tires. Each read 27 psi. Down a pound from yesterday's cold reading. I added air to bring them both back to 29 pounds.
I then went inside and checked the Chronicle to see what treats the road construction crews had in mind. Things looked clear on my normal workday circuit, so I decided to get in at least one round, regardless of the cold.
And cold it was. The thermometer may have read above forty, but my eyes still watered from the cold wind, and my fingers chilled through and through. The winter gear I was wearing kept the rest of my body warm. Or at least not cold.
I got in some nice thinking time because traffic was light. Because we skipped Sarah's walk, I was on the road half an hour earlier than normal. And, coupled with the fact that it was a Saturday, the freeways were pleasantly empty.
We had to be at Southwest Fertilizer at 8:30 a.m. Thus, I had to be satisfied with one circuit. The cold made that choice easy. Still, due to the early hour, I decided to ride to the gas station and fill up my tank. John and I are getting an early start to the Lone Star Rally tomorrow morning, and I wanted every drop of fuel possible. That was not to be.
The Shell station near my house has "modernized" its pumps. Now, a single nozzle is used for all grades. And that nozzle was surrounded by a rubber sheath whose purpose is to trap errant gas fumes. That works great on an automobile gas tank--which has a neck. It doesn't work so well on a motorcycle tank. I had to pull the rubber shroud back forcefully, just to get the pump to work. Then, it seemed that the pump had gone binary on me.
By that I mean that there were only two settings, "off" and "full speed ahead." "Full speed" worked okay when I started filling the tank, but it was not so great as the gas level neared the top. Before, I would have drizzled the gas out till the level was almost even with the opening. Today, that was not possible. I released the trigger as the tank was getting full. I then tried to shoot in some extra fuel. It rushed out. Or gushed out. Or, more accurately, it spilled out all over the outside of the tank. Repeated attempts to get some extra fuel produced more gas outside the tank. Ugh. I gave up. Frustrated by government yet again.
I will have to figure out some type of Plan B. For now, I rode on home, happy to have 19,558 miles on the bike and a toasty house to return to. It is supposed to be much warmer tomorrow morning. Good. Look out Galveston, here we come. See you (and 300,000 other riders) on the road. And don't forget to think.
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November 3, 2006:
When I awoke this morning it was forty-five degrees out. And that's without wind chill.
We have a rule that at 45 degrees or below, we don't take Sarah walking. And I was not eager to get on the freeway and manufacture a wind chill on top of the forty-five degree temperature. So, to get in my thinking time, I got up, drew a bath, picked up a book, and enjoyed the extra time.
Sarah notwithstanding, I was not about to give up my morning ride. So, about 6:30 a.m., I got suited up in full winter gear, and headed out.
Both tires were a pound low, but I decided to not add air. I was pretty sure the low reading was a function of the temperature, and I wasn't going to get on the freeway anyway. So, after thumbing on sufficient choke, I headed out. I was immediately cold.
I ran the back roads off of Sixth. Even at thirty miles per hour, I could feel the extra cold, especially in my fingers. And, although I had closed off the helmet vent, my chin and cheeks were also feeling the effects of our unseasonably cold temperatures. Still, tough guy that I am, I decided to put in a full four miles before heading home. No simple post office run for me.
After about fifteen minutes of riding, I was back at the house. I had 19,536 miles on the bike, and ten popsicles at the ends of my wrists. Lucky for me that I had gotten in my thinking time before saddling up. Let's hope tomorrow has warmer weather.
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November 2, 2006:
Yesterday, they predicted forties for this morning. Now, they predict forties for tomorrow morning. Even so, it was 56 degrees when we got up. And the mercury was falling. I decided to put on my long johns for Sarah's walk. When we went outside, I was glad at the decision. The wind was stout, to say the least. And there was still rain in puddles in the street. I had not even realized that it had rained during the night. Sarah was not bothered by the cold, or the rain, or the wind.
When we got back, I fed Sarah and suited up--in full winter gear. That included the Polartec Windbloc shirt and the balaclava. I did omit glove liners.
Fortunately, the air pressure in both tires was fine. I put on more choke than usual, and started out. After warming up (and remembering to thumb the choke off), I accelerated onto I-10. And immediately came to a halt.
Traffic was horrible. All the lanes were backed up. For most of the way from the Studemont entrance to the Washington Avenue exit, I traveled less than ten miles per hour. And I was in the fast lane. The traffic in the two far left-hand lanes was going even slower. The only consolation was that the slow speeds kept me warmer than normal freeway speeds would have.
Weirdly, once I got past Washington Avenue, the speeds picked up to normal. Well, that is true if you ignore the fact that the winds were so strong that I was buffeted all over the place.
The cold temperatures had another effect. Most of the cars were not running all that well, and the smell of exhaust fumes was everywhere. Even the strong winds could not dispel that odor.
Once I got on the Loop, I was able to get in great thinking time and wonderful speeds--until I approached I-10 on Highway 59. Then, traffic came to another stop. At least it gave my fingers time to thaw out.
I had an early morning conference call today. So, with all the delays caused by the traffic, I had to call it quits after a single circuit. And it remains tobe seen what I will do tomorrow if the temperatures are really in the forties. Ugh. I now have 19,532 miles on the bike. Stay tuned to see how many miles I add on Friday.
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November 1, 2006:
The temperature fell all through the night. When we got up, it was 62 degrees. Even worse, Channel 11 was reporting that it is possible that we will fall into the forties tonight. Ugh.
Anyway, it was dry. Sarah enjoyed her walk, and the cooler temperature. When we got back, I fed her, then suited up. I added air to the front tire, and off I went. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west.
Today the traffic was back to normal. It was fast, but not too heavy. Everyone was well behaved. I got in a quick forty miles, along with much needed thinking time. I rolled over to 19,500 during the second circuit, but I missed witnessing the event by exactly one mile. Oh well.
No close calls, and nothing exciting to report on. It was just a pleasant ride. I'm not sure what will happen tomorrow. I am not looking forward to being on the freeway if the temperature is in the fifties, let alone the forties. Stay tuned to see what the mercury reads. And, cold or not, don't forget to think.
For the August, 2006, blog entries, click here.
For the September, 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.