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Vegas Baby!!!

What does Las Vegas have to do with riding my Harley? Nothing. Except I managed to visit both the local Harley-Davidson dealership and the Arlen Ness dealership. Wow.

The H-D dealer was larger than what I’m used to, so of course they had more bikes to ogle at. The used bikes were actually priced pretty well. When I’ve looked at used bikes, they’re mostly the same price as new – so why bother. I got a chance to check out some of the colors I’ve been looking at and the different models. I do keep coming back to the Heritage Softail, but my color choice keeps changing. When I first started, I didn’t like red bikes, I liked silver and black. Then I started lusting after the Denim Red on the Street Bob. Now they’ve got Red Hot Sunglo for the Softail, which has grown on me. They’re also coming out with a two-tone Merlot Sunglo/Cherry Red Sunglo which I want to see before I decide.

I also got a chance to visit an Arlen Ness dealership. I know the name, and have seen some of the custom bikes in online and in magazines, but I’m still pretty ignorant about the company. The custom bikes in the showroom were amazing. Hard to believe you could just walk in and buy a bike like that. Even got to go tour the back shop, the car bay, and the fabrication shop. Not as big as the Harley dealership shops that I’m used to, or maybe it was just laid out differently. Either way, the guys back there were awesome to talk to. Reaaly good guys. Fun to see the projects they were working on.

Of course the weather in Vegas is driving me nuts. Ninety degrees, sunny, and very little wind all week. Can’t believe there aren’t more bikes on the road. I’d be riding every day of the year.

And I decided that one of my bucket list goals now is to ride a motorcycle down the Las Vegas strip at some time. Not next year, but perhaps within five. Gonna be a big trip to make that happen, but it would be very cool.

Gooooooaaallll !!!!

Today was the day. The weather finally broke. After rain, wind and cold, with the last four days including snow, the sun finally came out and the temp crossed the 40-degree line. That’s all I needed to get the bike out and push for those last few miles to 5,000.

I was surprised at how smooth the bike felt tonight. The last time I had it out in the cold it was complaining a bit. Perhaps the SeaFoam made a difference, but it sure felt nice. I was grinning from ear to ear within two blocks of home. God it felt good to be riding! As I crossed Main Avenue I looked to the west and noticed that there were actually sundogs out. Usually you only see those on REALLY cold days, like -40, not +40. The sun, clouds, and ice crystals must have been just right to make them show up today. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that. Felt like a good omen for this ride.

Just did my usual loop around town, but it felt like I was on the bow of the Titanic. I wanted to stretch both arms out to catch the wind, but of course you can’t do that on a motorcycle. As it was, I laughed and grinned all the way around town. Was heading to Starbucks to celebrate, but I was still two miles short. So I added an extra loop and turned over the 5,000-mile mark in the neighborhood I grew up in. That too made me laugh out loud. It was just a fun night. And just before I reached Starbucks, I stopped at a stoplight and had a truck driver next to me roll down his window to chat Harleys for a second. He had three. So when I got to Starbucks I ordered “beer for my men, whiskey for my horses, and a grande nonfat chai for me.” I would have been happy to just hold the cup. After the 45-minute ride my hands were getting awfully cold.

I’m headed out of town again, but I can go in peace knowing I made the goal. I may get another ride or two in before calling it quits, but the pressure’s off. The weather is supposed to be better when I return, so maybe there’ll be another ride full of grinning and laughing.

Odometer: 5001 miles 😀

Determined

The weather has definitely turned for the worse. Seems like it’s been raining, windy, and cold for two weeks now. I’m so close to my goal of 5,000 miles that I can taste it. Was away from home much of the previous two weeks. Funny how as soon as I got home I headed out to the garage to sit on the bike. What the heck am I going to do this winter while it’s in storage? I did ask for visitation rights. 🙂

It was a pretty crappy day today too. Actually woke up out of town, but got a call from my son that put my tail in the car immediately. He was pretty sick. Missed out on my work commitments, but I could tell he was really feeling bad. Got home, took him to the doctor (strep & pneumonia), got his meds, and put him to bed. Had seen only a couple of bikes out today, but looking at the forecast, it looked like my best chance to get the last 40 or so miles in. Need to run up to the office anyway. Just over 50-degrees (F) when I started, but I did a loop around town twice and it had dropped into the 40s by the time I was done. Should have done one more loop, which would have put me over the top, but my hands were getting cold, it was getting dark, and the Twins were starting the baseball playoffs. Headed home, but determined to get those last few miles in come hell or high water. Since it looks like I’ll hit my mileage goal I may trailer the bike to the dealer at this point rather than try to ride it out there myself — unless there’s one more nice day that pops up in the next week or two.

Odometer: 4987

High, Well Actually, Low Adventure

I finally got to strap the camping gear on the bike. It was just a short overnighter with my son’s Boy Scout troop. They left Friday, but I had a bunch of boxes to get out of the living room before I could join them. So Saturday afternoon, I strapped on the T-Bag, tent, sleeping bag, and pad. It was only a 30-mile or so ride out to the campsite, but the headwind made it seem longer. I probably made quite an entrance. The Scouts were camped out at Fort Abercrombie, so I rode down the ditch and around the grass field trying to find my troop. Could not spot them, so rode back across the road and parked in the parking lot of the interpretive center. Saw a truck of one of my ham radio friends there and went and tracked him down. (Not hard to do, mind you, just look for the antennas.) Talked with some folks there and they clued me in on where to find the troop. They had camped BEHIND the fence. No wonder I couldn’t find them! Well, it did make for a grand entrance, circling the camp like I did.

Had parents and boys oogling the bike all weekend. Got to explain how to operate it several times. Given that it’s a stock bike, there wasn’t a lot of bragging to do on it. But I was doing my best to recruit future Harley riders. 🙂

The ride home was quick and easy. Tail wind this time. Could have rode all day if I could have kept going north. As it was, I actually opted out of riding the Harley to Bismarck. It would have been a pretty good crosswind, with a forecast of rain and cooler weather. On another day that wouldn’t have bothered me, but I think I’m more tired than I know from moving. I’m just not up for 4 hours of a crosswind. Discretion is the better part of valor, isn’t it?

Odometer: 4894 miles

*AAACKK*

Snuck out this morning to get a few hours in before facing the reality of packing up the rest of the house. Went north yesterday, so decided to go south today. Stayed on the Minnesota side down to Breckenridge, about 45 minutes away. (Now there’s a road that could use some stimulus money repair!) Was keeping an eye on the time as I wanted to be back by noon, but I was doing okay so I headed west on Hwy 13. Nice road, but I think I’m going to call it the “killer highway.” Had three close encounters within 14 miles. I’m not sure what was up. Was it the sun? The new road? Something about me? The time of day? I dunno, but first I was nearly taken out by a touring bike passing a car. Then the next was the most “interesting.” Stinkin’ white sedan would not get out of my lane. I slammed on the rear brake and did quite a nice skid. Still wouldn’t pull back into his lane. Mofo then decided that he was going to take my shoulder and I got to thread the needle between him and the rest of the oncoming traffic. (Once again, no adrenaline sweat. Wassup with dat?) Third time was just some old guy casually passing and once again I slammed on the brakes and came to nearly a complete stop until he pulled back in. Him I wanted to flip off. 🙂 Luckily, there was no traffic behind me so I didn’t have to worry about being rear-ended in all of these encounters. Once I got past Wyndmere, all the oncoming traffic tapered off and it was (mostly) empty roads once again. Phew!!!!! Headed on to Gwinner before making the turn north for the return trip.

From there it was a short jaunt up to Lisbon where I stopped for some gas and string cheese. Got to remember to pack string cheese, it’s a great road food. Lisbon is really pretty, nestled in a valley like it is. On the edge of the Sheyenne National Grasslands too, which is where I headed next. I have a co-worker that lives near Colfax, so I headed that direction and then slid up the North Dakota side of the river for a bit before sliding back into Minnesota for the last leg back into town. Only about 4 hours and, except for the 14 miles of playing chicken, a good ride with some pretty good sights.

One other thing that I noticed this morning is how I’ve gotten used to the wind. The winds have been 15-25 mph all weekend with gusts over 30 mph. I didn’t even notice. Well, I guess I did notice that there was a head-/tail-/cross-wind, but whatever. No longer bothers me like it did at the beginning of the summer. I was saying back then that I had better get used to it. Apparently I have.

Odometer: 4674 miles (597 for the weekend) <==I think I might make it!!!

Open Roads

Well it’s Labor Day weekend, which means panic sets in. In this part of the country everyone knows that the opportunities for summertime activities are numbered come this time of year. People go a little crazy trying to get in that one last activity – fishing, boating, camping, or motorcycle riding.

Me? I’m busy moving this week. Well actually, for the next couple of weeks. Have a 16-day overlap between the old place and the new, and since they’re only 4 blocks apart I can take my time. Which is why I snuck out of town today.

Hit the road shortly after sun-up. Wanted to get to the missile command post that I didn’t make it to last weekend. It’s about 100 miles away and I wanted to be there when it opened. It was a bit cool, but a pleasant ride. The point of today was to get on roads I’d never been on before – either in a car or on the Harley. Pretty uneventful trip to Oscar-Zero, except that both times I topped off the gas, I managed to spill some. Jeesh.

Oscar-Zero was pretty neat and definitely worth the trip. It’s an old missile command post and since I was the first one there, I got a private tour of the facility. Really interesting to see how they functioned out there. While it was a nice place to hang out on a gorgeous day, I can imagine it would be a bear in the middle of the winter. Much less all the security processes and duties. While it was a great tour, I’m kind of glad it’s services are not needed anymore.

Didn’t really have a destination in mind once I was done at Oscar-Zero. Just wanted to get some miles in. I’ve got a map of the state that I’m marking all the roads I’ve taken the motorcycle on, so I decided I’d just color in some more. Headed up to Devils Lake and that was a good choice. Really pretty back there and lots of lakes along the way – including one dry one. Stopped for lunch and gas in Devils Lake and once again needed to figure out which way to go. Didn’t feel like taking the main highway and wanted to get some extra miles in so I went some 25 miles further north to find another back road. It was starting to get warm out. I’m cold-blooded and can wear long-sleeves and several layers even at 90-degrees. But I decided to lose my hoodie and gloves as I turned the corner going east. Glad I packed the empty T-Bag along. I’ve got the little stow-a-way, and it’s perfect for rides like this since I don’t yet have saddlebags. About 50-miles later I made a bold move and changed into a short-sleeve (nearly sleeveless) shirt and the vest. First time riding with bare arms. Glad the sun was shining, but even so I’d find myself with goosebumps every now and then. Didn’t matter though, the wind and sun on skin felt good. Rode all the way back home that way, even though the sun was getting pretty low. I’m usually the one to yell at the kids to wear their safety gear riding bicycles and skateboards. Gonna have to bite my tongue now.

Had one interesting little encounter near the junction of Hwy 18 and 200. Had nothing to do with the intersection, but a pickup decided it liked my lane better than theirs and was maybe 500-400 feet in front of me before it decided it should return to its own lane. I saw it coming and pretty much slammed on the front brake (didn’t get my foot on the rear brake in time). It ended well, even if I was in 2nd gear. And what was really notable, I didn’t even get an adrenaline sweat out of it. Not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad sign, but I’m just glad I wasn’t tomorrow’s news.

Was also a bit surprised by how few bikes I passed today. Saw more this afternoon, for sure, but really not as many as I expected on such a gorgeous day. Their loss. Most of the roads I rode were pretty empty, which I love. Then I can take my time and enjoy the scenery rather than watch the speedometer and rear view mirrors.

Really wanted to hit the 4500 mile mark today in the big push for 5000 this season. Fell 15 miles short. Sounds like an excuse to get up in the morning and go for breakfast in some small town maybe 30-50 miles away…

Odometer: 4485 miles