Sunday, April 30, 2006

Clearfield, PA to Chicago, IL

My travel alarm woke me up at 6:00AM. After a shower and some packing, I walked over to the lobby for the continental breakfast. They had a waffle machine there where you could make your own waffle, so I did. Some people were getting ready to go for a group ride, I was undecided with what I should do. On the one hand I wanted to check out the roads and take some pictures but on the other hand, I was 600 miles from home, so did I actually need to put on any extra miles this morning? After some discussion, two groups formed, one that was going to ride some fast twisties, one that just wanted to go out and take some pictures and do a short ride. I was in the second group, I really wanted to take it easy this morning, in order to have enough energy to get home tonight.

Scott, Holly and I pulled over to take pictures

There are a lot of very nice roads here

A bunch of us took off after 9:30AM, but soon there would only be three, Scott, Holly and I. We were riding a relaxing pace and taking pictures. The roads were very twisty so even a bit over speed limit the bike still leaned. The temps were cool in the beginning of our ride but they warmed up quickly. Then we ran in to two more riders, which we followed up to Hyner view.

Hyner View 1940 feet above sea level

Hyner view, way high up there

We only wanted to do half of the route, but since it was a loop, we decided to take the other way back since it was supposed to be faster. We were now running late for the lunch at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, since we took our sweet time this morning.

Many bikes showed up for lunch

When we arrived Scott decided that it was going to take too long to order food at Denny‘s, so him and Holly decided to ride to Arby’s and eat there and grab me a wrap sandwich. They got back and I was done eating before Rick, Jay and Yosh even got their food, which they ordered an hour and a half earlier. But that’s what happens when 75-100 people show up to lunch at the same time. It was great seeing so many bikes in one place and meeting some of the STN members.

Denny’s parking lot, 100 or so bikes, that's my pretty ST3 up front

That's the restuarant back there behind all those bikes

The guys ate their food and at 3PM we took off. The first delay was in town at a gas station, only one bathroom and a line. It was in the mid 70’s now and we really wanted to get moving to cool off a bit. We got on I-80 and within minutes something was wrong with Rick’s back tire. I though the tire was looking funny, he was right in front of me. Before I could figure out what was wrong with it, he started swerving and pulled over to the shoulder, I got on my brakes and followed. The whole group pulled over and realized, Rick’s back tire had a hole in it and was completely flat.

Plugging up the hole

Handy mini air compressor

Yosh pretending that she got pulled over, the police car was actually there to keep the semi’s out of the right lane.

We are no amateurs though, Rick was prepared with a flat tire plug kit and a portable mini air compressor, it took about 45 minutes, but him and Jay got the tire plugged and we were back on the road again. So now since we left way late and were delayed twice, there was no hope to arrive home at midnight as planned, unless we decided to …. speed a little. Both Rick and Jay had radar detectors and we agreed that the sooner we got home the better, so we went for it. The traffic was moving at 85-90MPH anyway, with the occasional rabbit to follow.

I was feeling really tired now, it was about 4PM when my body decided on a siesta, I barely made it to the next gas stop, I needed some help if I was to continue. I needed my wings, I needed a cold and refreshing Red Bull. Before the Red Bull, I was thinking “no way am I gonna make it another 500+ miles” but after the Red Bull I was A-OK. I got some energy and the temperatures began to cool off. We continued, at a good pace while taking shorter breaks.

Finally after sun set, at the Ohio/Indiana border we felt moisture. First it was just moisture in the air, followed by slight drizzle, followed by light rain then heavier rain. We were expecting it and waiting for it and now it was here, we slowed down just a bit. The heavy rain didn’t last long and at times it would stop completely, we kept going and my energy levels only dipped after 10:30PM when I decided that I needed a snack and a cup of warm coffee.

I had all my layers on for a while, with the vest and heated grips on but I was still cold. The group didn’t want to rest, they just wanted to get home, so I ate and drank my coffee as quick as I could and we got on the road again. I again felt rejuvenated. We entered Illinois, the roads were still wet in places but the storms must have already passed through, there wouldn’t be any more rain tonight. The construction through downtown messed me up and I had to take an exit to turn around and get back on to get on to the next highway.

I arrived at the house just a bit after 12:30AM and I was in bed by 1:15. And amazingly, I was not sore after riding 750 miles today and 650 miles yesterday. The ST3 is a great bike and very comfortable.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Chicago, IL to Clearfield, PA

My Alarm went off at 3AM this morning, I had planned on going to bed early last night, I finally got packed for the trip and was in bed at 9:30PM, but since I’m not used to going to bed that early, I probably didn’t fall asleep until 11PM. So let’s just say that I was not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3AM. I was on the road by 4:15AM, my brain was operating on a single can of Red Bull. There was already a bit of traffic on the road slowing me down and my I-pass didn’t work on the Skyway, but I finally made it t the meeting spot, the Portage, IN rest stop were Rick, Jay and Yosh were meeting me. I was already 25 minutes late but when I arrived and they were not here.

They wouldn’t just leave me behind and there were no messages on my voice mail, meaning, they haven’t gotten here yet. I went inside to wait for them since it was chilly outside. The temperatures were only in the upper 40’s. A bit after 6AM I saw a few bikes ride up, it was them. We all gassed up and left shortly after. The plan was to continue on the slab all the way to Sharon, PA.

Amish family at a rest stop

Even when the sun came up, the temperature stayed chilly. I was running my heated grips and Widder vest until about 10AM and we only stopped every 100 miles or so. I finally started shedding some of my many layers around 11AM. It was supposed to be a beautiful weekend in Pennsylvania, sunny and in the 70’s, but the rain was moving in to Chicago this morning, we left there just in time. The rain was supposed to stick around all weekend too so eventually we would have todeal with it on the way home.

Today the plan was to meet some people from ST.N for lunch in Sharon, PA at the Quaker Steak & Lube. We got there a bit late, and on top of that we lost an hour heading east entering the Eastern Time Zone. But since the group was not in any real hurry, we got to grab some lunch. I had devoured a bagel with cheese and egg mid morning at a rest stop and washed it down with another can of Red Bull, so I was not very hungry. I ordered a cup of clam chowder and a Funky Monkey banana and chocolate smoothie. It so happens that the monkey I tour with is named Funky Money so naturally I had to order it. It was tasty.

Quaker Steak and Lube in Sharon, PA

My Funkey Monkey drink is on the right

Yosh and Rick clowning around

The gang got the wings and they said they were the best, so I had to include that in my ride report even though I don’t eat chicken wings. The temperatures warmed a lot up while we were having lunch. It was around 70 degrees already. I still had on my spandex under my leather riding pants and a thermal under armour turtle neck, the liner was still zipped in to my Marsee jacket. I didn’t want to go through the trouble of de-layering too much, I figured it would be cooling off soon enough.

We got ready to leave and I started to wrestle with the ST3. I had to get it turned around and out of the small motorcycle only parking lot so that others could exit behind me. I was sweating, getting over heated now, feeling a bit tired after a long break. Then what followed next can only be described as “whoopsie” yep, the ST3 decided to kiss the pavement. So you ask, “what happened?” Well, let me start with saying I have never dropped a bike in a parking lot before, I was really close to dropping a bike many times but I always saved it, always, until today.

Basically, heavy bike + the fact that I can’t flat foot + maybe I was tired + I was slowly moving the bike, handle bars turned to the right, going around some light pole, the back tire went over a big dip in the pavement which apparently upset the bike and it just fell. It JUST fell. It happened so quick I still don’t really know what happened. All is good, lets just say I’ll be shopping for some silver touch up paint. And the ball that’s on the tip of my brake lever fell off. Some miner scratches on the mirror, the side case took most of the fall. I guess it had to happen sooner or later, right?

I love the old architecture of the eastern US

Our leaders

Waiting for Jay, he stopped to take some pictures

So we take all back roads to Clearfield, PA, the roads are awesome, mostly sweepers running through forests, very little traffic, just beautiful. We have a blast doing the 200 or so miles of twisties and arrive at the Days Inn just before sun set. The day ends with 650 miles for me.

Days Inn Clearfield, PA

Yosh and I check in to our room and unpack. There are a lot of people at the bar that's located at the Days Inn, but after further investigation we realize there is not a lot of food to choose from there so Rick, Jay and I walk over to the Dutch Pantry. I score a pretty good and cheap meal of fish, clams and shrimp scampi. Scott and Holly, also from ST.N are sitting at the table next to us, we all exchange road stories. Then, we finally make it over to the bar.

Dinner at the Dutch Pantry in Clearfield, PA

Yummy seafood platter

I’m pretty tired so I only manage to drink half of an Yngling beer. I’m in bed by 11PM eastern time. Tomorrow is another long day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

6000 mile service is done, my ST3 is back

It was 32 degrees this morning, raining, hailing and snowing. Thank goodness the mess was gone by the time I got up to Power Motor Sports in Palatine to pick up the Duc from the 6,000 mile valve service.

As I rode it home at around 7:30PM it was about 40 degrees and windy. Funny to think that since last week the temps have been in the 70’s.

The odo reads 6089 miles

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Review: Five RFX2 gloves

I ordered size extra small (size 7) and I received size small (size 8), which were too big. I sent the gloves back and I got the correct size last Friday.

The extra smalls fit me perfect, these gloves are so soft, the most comfortable gloves I’ve ever owned, which I’m not sure is a good thing actually, having such soft gloves in a crash maybe hard on my hands, although they have carbon fiber on the fingers, knuckles and the side of the palm.

I don’t like breaking in new gloves and these didn‘t need any breaking in. I put them on and they felt as if I’ve had them for months. Took them out for 100 mile ride, and after the ride I just have to say that I love these gloves although I‘ve never heard of this brand FIVE before. I saw these gloves on the website that sells Dainese and IXS gear, but found the best price on for $105.

Very soft leather, very pretty looking and the most comfortable gloves I’ve ever had. All fingers are the correct length for my small hand even though these are men’s gloves, on some gloves the thumb is too big and I have small thumbs. Since these are men’s gloves, the carbon fiber knuckle protection is wider then on my ladie’s gloves, but the width of the glove is perfect for me.

Maybe the leather is too soft, even though it says cowhide they feel like soft lamb leather.

Lots of carbon fiber

The silver/black/red matches my Teknic jacket perfectly

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Virgil, IL - riding gravel on a sportbike

The weather was awesome today, a tad bit warm for April, temps in the low to mid 70's. Since I was already geared up from riding the ST3 to the dealer earlier to drop it off for the 6K valve service. I just changed jackets, took some layers off and took off towards Virgil, IL.

There are a few roads that have curves here

Was this a bank years ago?

There are a lot of small farm roads here. I usually stay on pavement, but today I ventured on to the gravel roads. Most are very short and connect the paved road. They can be used as short cuts. Today I found some longer gravel roads.

This way too big to be called gravel, arn't these small boulders?

Then all the sudden, one of the roads I was on, turned from small gravel that was easy to ride, to huge gravel that was also deep. I had a really hard time getting through that. I had to continue because turning around would have been even harder for me.

Bigger gravel is not so fun

I think I'm all alone out here

Well, riding on gravel was a good experience. Small gravel is good, large gravel is not so good for riding. I did about 100 miles, only about 10 miles were gravel. Traffic was light and I found myself alone on many of the roads.

Time for 6K mile service on the ST3

I dropped the Ducati ST3 off in the morning for the 6K mile service and since I was here, of course I had to look around some. Since riding the 996 last week and being amazed at how nice it rode and how comfy it was, I’ve been thinking if next year the 954RR should be replaced by maybe a Ducati 999?

I think I sat on one two years ago at the motorcycle show but I didn’t remember what it felt like and since the Ducatis are always propped up on back stands at the international motorcycle show, I never really know how heavy the bikes are or how far I can reach to the ground on them.

I can reach the ground, awesome!

It's comfy, is this my next bike?

All I have t say is WOW! What a great looking bike and not really tall either, with some suspension adjustment I think I could get it at least half inch lower and the guy said there is a lowering option for the 999 too, although I don’t think I need it, it’s sits very similar to the 996.

I‘d need to put Heli bars on the 999, will make the bike way more comfy, the only thing that is not comfy is the pointy gas tank, but once I bring the clip-ons up that shouldn’t be a problem, I‘m kind of laying on the tank now. Little person = short arms.

And I really thought that my next Ducati was going to be a Mulistada 620. Maybe not. Today was the first day that I sat on one and the bike is so tall. I was barely on my tipie -toes. I’m sure I could soften the suspension some and shave the seat a bit too but it will still be taller then my ST3 and for a dual-sport I’d really like to have the bike as low as possible, I’d like to flat foot it. This sure is a pretty bike and not even that expensive, I’m a bit disappointed, the 620 is almost as tall as the multi 1000.

This multistrudel is as tall as a horse

I guess I’ll have to get a BMW F650 GS like everyone else that is my height or shorter, which isn’t that bad actually since I like that bike also and it has a lower seat option that I have already tired and I like the way the bike sits.

I think I have caught a new bike bug this spring.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Review: Teknic Lightning gloves

I ordered ladies size small based on their size chart, I think I messed up, the size chart was not ladies sizes just mens, so I exchanged them for ladies medium. They arrived today.

The mediums fit snug, the leather is thick, so they will have to be broken in, maybe in a few more rides they will feel better. I don’t like breaking in new gloves. They look like quality gloves and cost $72.

I took them out to bike night today and did a 30 mile ride with them. The temps were warm, it was still 62 degrees when I got home, maybe I should have wet them a bit to break them in quicker.

Thicker leather, snug fit, all fingers are the correct length, on some gloves the thumb is too big and I have small thumbs, like the carbon fiber knuckles

The pinky finger has a lot more padding on the side of the finger, it’s hard to bend it

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Review: Roadgear gloves

Still looking good after 2 years of use

I’m throwing these gloves away, they are done, their time has come. I checked the site and these gloves are no longer available, mine are size small and the fit was great. I think I paid $70 for them. I bought them in Spring of 2004 and I toured with them exclusively until end of last year. They have totally fell apart in the last few months, although I have at least 40,000 miles on these gloves and I‘ve never treated the leather.

Leather was thick, it took a while to break these gloves in. Good looking gloves, I like the yellow carbon fiber a lot. Quality stitching, the top side of the gloves still look great, it was the leather that fell apart, too much wear and tear. Great fit and very comfortable.

The palm was made of carbon fiber fabric, which was thin, so you could feel the heated grips nicely but I prefer the feel of leather on the palm, more grip, this was the only thing I disliked about these gloves.