Category Archives: motorcycle enthusiast

Gas got expensive all of a sudden!

Gas got expensive all of a sudden!

I will admit to feel a little bit of schadenfreude when I fill up the scrappy DRZ when gas is so expensive.

(please note the not-yet-replaced plastics from the front of the bike. I lost 2 screws, and can’t put them back on. this is why I don’t have a bike with lots of chrome.)

At 59 mpg I’m so happy I can commute by motorcycle… but I can’t help but wonder: how high WILL it get this summer?

Sunday 4/17/10 Ride

After sleeping nearly 12 hours straight and thanking our lucky stars we were out of the rain on Sat. night, on Sunday morning Mike and I headed out to meet friends for brunch.

I was on my DRZ (natch) and he was on his 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic – which he had to hose off before we left. Cruisers always look worse when they’re dirty than other motorcycles. it’s the fault of the CHROME.
We also had to change the air in the tires before going too far. First day out and all that.

it was a gorgeous day for a ride!

We planned to meet up with Michelle and Steve at the Birdsall House in Peekskill NY. We headed out across the Bear Mountain Bridge (of course I have no photos – I was riding!) and got there in good time.

(oh hey look at those handsome motorcycles in the background!)

Michelle and Steve, on the other hand, were stuck in the parking lot that was the flooded Sawmill Parkway on their way up from Brooklyn. So we had to eat with out them.
Delicious deep fried soft boiled egg over polenta, wilted spinach, and roasted mushrooms.
ZOMG maple bacon ice cream with apple butter and a cornmeal waffle.

After we ate, we hopped (being a relative term which does not adequately describe the rolling motion required by our very full bellies) back on the bikes and headed down to Sleepy Hollow, where Michelle and Steve had stopped for their own Thai lunch. and then after chatting for a good long time we headed home. We took the direct route back when we got a glimpse of the imminent black cloudiness only to be rewarded by an icy cold super windy rain storm that may have included some hail. Mike was about to complain about how much the rain hurt his hands (it was that icy needles kind of rain for a bit) and then he remembered that I didn’t have a windshield and was being struck in the chest by these same horrible needles and bit his tongue. Of course my armored gloves kept my fingers from feeling anything horrible – an unexpected benefit from extreme safety gear.

By the time we got home the rain had cleared up and we saw a rainbow! And we headed in for some hot milky tea, tomato soup, and cheese and crackers. The perfect dinner after our amazing and excessive lunch.

Such a nice ride out. I can’t wait to go back to the Birdsall House – they cure their own meat! in house! and have a charcuterie plate! and use local farms for their food! Excitement!


Momo Mileage

The (incredibly awesome and highly recommended) motorcycle forum I spend most time at has started an annual mileage competition – it’s all in good fun, so you post your mileage at the beginning of each year, and you get to see how far you’ve gone.


IMG_0815 photo


The first photo is from 4/4/10, and the second is from 4/10/11. Amazingly I’ve put almost exactly 5,500 miles on the DRZ! and I say amazingly only because it’s such a nice round number. In all actuality, I would have put way more on but my poor bike didn’t turn on one sad morning in late July. I mean, it turned on fine… but it didn’t turn OVER. and I took it apart and did everything you’re supposed to do to the spark plugs and air filter and all kinds of things but couldn’t get the carb apart to clean it out, and it turns out that there was a PIN HOLE in the tube that goes between the petcock and the carb. so I don’t know if I’d have figured that out anyway. And THEN we were so busy through August and September and October and November (which was still pretty nice) that I missed out on probably about 25 at least ride-to-work days which would have given me an easy extra 2,500 miles.

Oh well! this year will be massively better. for sure.

the one about all those motors

I mentioned, I think, that my DRZ has been out of sorts. for AGES. And I really tried to fix it, y’all – I wrenched the heck out of it, and that included getting the carb out and reading lots of articles and manuals and taking a deep breath and starting to take it apart…. only to find that the screws were too soft, and I didn’t want to have to learn how to disassemble a carb AND drill out and replace screws all in the same day. And then it was winter, and we had four feet of snow piled up in front of our canvas sheds, and all was cold and sad.

The  poor motorcycle sat and sat and sat until Mike and I asked Rick to come over and drive our poor motorcycles to the shop a couple of weeks ago – and he came, like the white knight in a pickup that he is, with a lovely trailer, and just like that our bikes were at the shop.

It wasn’t until we went to pick up the bikes I ran into that ugly wall – you know, the “is everything going wrong here because I’m a GIRL and they’re not listening to me,” or is this just a tough nut to crack, and because I’m so AWESOME I only bring hard problems to the pros. They  had cleaned out the carb, replaced the screws, put on a new rear tire, and gave me a stern talking to about the effects of ethanol in gasoline and how I should always use an additive.

But this is what happened that set me on edge: When I was paying for it and carefully reading the list of things they’d done to my motorcycle, a note about the chain gave me pause. It was “stretched and stiff in places.” I turned to Mike and said: hey, when do you replace a chain? Oh, when it’s stretched and stiff in places. Right. So I asked when my chain needed to be replaced, because, you know, this is my primary commuter, and I have a 100 mile/day trip, and they went back to ask the guys, and they came back with “sooner rather than later.”  Which kind of infuriated me because firstly a broken motorcycle chain can be dangerous and catastrophic, secondly because y’all, call me! I will pay you to fix the chain while you’re doing everything else to the motorcycle, and thirdly, what kind of a lazy answer is that?

And then I went outside to start the bike and it clunked, chugged, and didn’t start. So, I’m feeling off-set already because I ALREADY feel like I haven’t gotten the kind of service I would like to expect on the motorcycle, and then I find out it doesn’t start? And I had to go inside and say: “oh hey my bike still won’t start,” and they send someone out who tries everything I do to start it, and then finally DOES get it to start by putting the petcock on prime and jamming the throttle, and then he takes it to the back and I sit and sit and sit and FINALLY he comes back and explains very carefully to Mike how a carb works, and what maybe the problem is, and how they’re going to look at it some more. And this whole time Mike is looking over at ME, frequently! breaking the sincere eye contact that very-helpful-and-I’m-sure-nice dude is making as he explains petcocks (not as fun as they sound) and carburetors and how MY MOTORCYCLE works – to Mike. I mean, he did show up on the SV650, which has fuel injection, so perhaps helpful-guy thought maybe Mike didn’t understand carbs like I so clearly do? Perhaps.

Anyway, the moral of the story is this: I rode home on the back of Mike’s bike, they kept my bike, put on that freakin’ new chain, and after a couple of days they were able to find a pinhole in the vacuum tube that runs between petcock and carb. Which they fixed for free, because it was the right thing to do.

Suffice it to say, as infuriating as this exercise is it happens all the time to me – but knowing that I rode my motorcycle home from the shop this weekend and plan to ride it into work this week softens the edge on the hassle. I hate to admit it, but I’ll put up with a lot of guff to ride.

now this is quality service –

we got this xmas card from the motor inn we stayed at during our awesome Eleven States in Eleven Days motorcycle trip. So sweet! I highly highly highly recommend the Gear Head Inn.

Eleven States in Eleven Days: Spring 2010 Motorcycle Trip


Eleven States in Eleven Days
Total Trip mileage just about 2520

I’m going to put up some back-dated posts about our Awesome! Trip! It was a wildly fun trip.


Things I learned from the trip:

  • If you’re using an intercom system with foam over the microphone, you might want to remove the foam and clean it every couple of days.
  • Bring a couple of different models of ear plugs with you in case of ear canal fatigue! I prefer to use non-disposables (I’ve used these in the past, and am now using something like these) but by day 8 I had to switch to some disposable foam jobbies because I just couldn’t get the non-disposable ones to seal properly in my ear.
  • Sunglasses that fit awesome under your helmet for 1 hour may be intolerably uncomfortable by hour 3.
  • When you’re traveling with 6 other people, trust that everyone will be totally honest with what they need and want to do.
  • Pack everything you need, then take out at least 30% of the clothes.
  • Except for warm clothes! you’ll need those.
  • On a long trip, just plan to do laundry every 3-4 days. it makes things way easier!
  • Bring SNACKS. multiply the number of snacks you’d normally bring by the number of people on the trip: not to share, but because the amount of downtime and slow-to-get hungry stomachs will be increased by about that much! If you do share, you will be a hero to everyone at stops.
  • Converse to a reasonable person’s assumption, the bigger your underpants, the more they will hurt you on a long ride. wear your smallest underpants to prevent under-thigh chafing.
  • Pee every time you stop.
  • Drink water every time you stop.
    • PRO TIP. Bring a reusable bottle and refill it in the bathroom or water fountain or soda fountain every time you stop.
  • Get gas every time the person with the smallest tank needs it.
  • If you wear a white motorcycle jacket you will look tough as nails by the end because of the sheer amount of road filth you’ll have picked up. Promise.

and an anecdote!

our first destination was Myrtle Beach Bike Week, which was a total bust while we were there. One of our stops was at the HD dealership, and there were some big classic scary harley dudes sitting on a bench in front of the dealership – arms crossed and a deadpan 50-yard stare checking out everyone. I’m pretty sure I saw a lip curl when I parked my scrappy bike right in front of them.

so as we were leaving, I was gearing up with my jacket and earplugs and helmet – and as I was putting on my sunglasses and starting my bike, I rang my bicycle bell – and boy that kind-of-snarly harley dude LIT UP. his eyes got big and he smiled real wide and he nudged his neighbor and we had such a friendly conversation about the bell. “I’m gonna get one for mine!” he said. “you should! women and children love it!” said I. HILARIOUS.

which is all to say – you meet the nicest people when you’re motorcycling… regardless of how intimidating they’re trying to look!

now, myself, I just gave up on looking intimidating. Here I am in that same HD parking lot:

Erik Buell is the lone ranger of motorcyclists.

“People should feel guilty about driving big, fat SUVs. Whether it has an electric motor or a gasoline motor, you know, if you’re riding in luxury with multiple screens around you and air conditioning and it’s padded and you’re driving by yourself, you should be embarrassed.  I think people are going to start thinking, ‘This is stupid, we shouldn’t be doing this.’ There’s plenty of other things to be using our resources on, we should be using them to go to the moon or feed the world instead of cranking out more freaking Hummers.”


“I don’t necessarily believe that a 1,000cc sportsbike is practical transportation, but compared to a Hummer? Maybe it’s not the most green thing on the planet, but it’s not bad. I hope we don’t come to a world where we’ll all wearing IBM suits and riding Segways to work. God help us. The bikes I want to build, I want them to be fun and capable and cool and work. I don’t want to be in the mundane transportation business.

From the article at Hell for Leather Magazine, which you should probably subscribe to posthaste if you like motorcycles. Or even if you don’t. It’s good stuff, and is for darn sure getting me through my winter of sub-40 deg temperatures and oh did I mention my carb is all ganked up, won’t come apart for me to clean it, and I can’t even start my darn bike anyway?

A good policy for the holiday season (and beyond!)

I am, however, smart enough to follow simple direction. Followed by some effort. Like this quote from Mother Teresa.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Thanks, Musings of an Intrepid Commuter, for a great quote.

Day 11. Hancock MD to HOME

The last day!

May 16.

We started groggily with hotel continental breakfast, and to the sad realization that it was really cold outside – it was in the low 50s, and when you have to factor in the wind chill of riding at 65ish MPH, you need to dress for bout 40 degrees. Our solution: put on all of our clothes and hit the road. Our plan was to get home as quickly as possible, so it was mostly highway all the way. We were home before dark.

Final states:

Did I mention we took this trip to ELEVEN?

Most of the directions we used:

and final mileage:

We had so much fun on this trip. Can’t wait until next year!

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 10 Ceder Bluff VA to Hancock MD


May 15.

The next morning was dry, thank goodness, and the Timberline Lodge looked just as respectable in daylight as it had the night before.

After our breakfast, we headed out. We were all getting really tired, and we still had two long days ahead of us  – we were till over 600 miles from home! Today, though, we were going to make a silly and arbitrary trip into West Virginia for the sole purpose of picking up ELEVEN STATES in ELEVEN DAYS. we couldn’t resist!

[[As per all long trips and second children, there aren’t as many photographs on these last days as there were at the beginning. It’s tragic, but it’s human nature (and did I mention that we were so tired?)]]

This ride was really pretty, I wish we had more (any) photos of it.

Highlights of the day: Checking on the funny oil leak Janice’s bike had developed (we didn’t have any Harleys with us any more, so hers was compensating?)

Stopping in WV to tighten Mike’s chain

and the friends we made there:

Things we should have taken pictures of:

  • When we stopped for a map check in WV and ran into a passel of motorcyclists who had trailered their sportsbikes in from Ontario. We had a nice talk with a few of them, and this this, well, old guy in a well worn ‘stitch comes barreling over and starts saying stuff like: “Eh, you couldn’t get away from your wives for a ride?” What’s a girl supposed to do? I looked him in the eye and said: “Wanna Race?” It was amazing how quickly his buddies were apologizing – in the funniest ways! “he’s old!” “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about!”  (Did they think he would get housed by the young lady on the DRZ SM? not at 40-odd horsepower he wouldn’t have. Though I am scrappy.)
  • The Awfully Nice Guy we met at a gas-and-lunch stop in West Virginia – he was on a moto guzzi and we bonded over our small light flickable bikes, and I emailed him the link to our travel tumbler right away.  He’s involved with the WV Moto Guzzi Owners Club and I hope we can meet up with him on our next trip down to WV!

We did manage to find (nestled in some mountains) a DMV motorcycle testing course, and rode around in circles for fun and u-turn practice.

We ended the day in typical Flying Circus fashion by overshooting our hotel and accidentally getting onto a highway before finding our way back to the room, and making several U-Turns on our way to a Hardee’s for dinner. Not the smoothest way to end the day, and it’s much funnier when Mike S. is the one leading us on U-Turn adventures.

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 9. Whittier NC to Cedar Hill VA


May 14.

This was the day we started our trip north. No! we don’t want to go home! Happily we had some more highlights ahead of us.

We started out with a change of plans – Kerry’s dad lives in Limestone TN, so we were able to stop in and see them for lunch. We headed north and mostly motored, so I didn’t get a chance to take many photos.

You can see on the map where we had to cross over the Smokeys National Park  – that road, whatever it was, was a HUGE highlight. It was split between following the coves through the mountains and some strong up and overs. We had to stop and double check where we were at trout stream – you can see the water behind the sign.

It was full spring here in the mountains, and the flowers were thick and the bugs were enjoying it. Something big and hard bounced off of my chest and got me all gutty – I hope it was a big beetle and not a hummingbird – and I think it hit Rick on the way down after it struck me. Yuck!

Once we made it over the mountains we stopped in to see Kerry’s Pa. Limestone is so pretty, it backs up against the hills.

We had a nice stop with lunch and some dogs for belly scritches.

After that, we split off from Mike S and Mike F – they were headed back to Delaware to the dealership where Mike S got his motorcycle.

We took off headed north. Note to everyone in the world: Avoid Rt 11 unless you’ve done the google maps view to make sure it’s not all stopped traffic and big box stores. We had some problems through Kingston and Johnson City. We were really cruising, and then around 7PM the skies got dark and ominous and we ducked into a gas station to put on our rain gear. And not a moment too soon.

We let the bulk of the thunder pass by as we damply huddled in the over-air-conditioned mini-mart, but after about half an hour we decided it was time to move on. We got our rain gear tucked in as best as we could, and hopped back on the bikes. It may or may not have been hailing at any given time, the rain was freezing cold, and it got dark dark dark as the day ended. I think we lasted for 45 min. on the road before we started looking for a place to stay. After an extremely creepy hotel lobby evaluation (“oh, you only have smoking rooms? [thankgoodness!] We’ll move on down the road”) we picked the much nicer Timberline Lodge in Ceder Bluff.

The sign said 100% Quality, and they were right. I wish I’d snapped a photo of the furniture or the lobby but it was very cute. And across the street was a “Waffle and Egg,” where we enjoyed both dinner and breakfast.

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 8: Helen GA to Whittier NC

May 13.

This was a really full day. Mike and I were in charge of the trip routing from Myrtle Beach home, so we had spent a lot of time looking around for the best roads – like, a LOT of time. And if you know Mike and I, we can make a 15 minute trip to the grocery store into a three hour tour (a LOVELY one, but a long one).

We knew we wanted to start in Helen and end up in Whittier, because we’d found a cheap motor lodge that seemed charming and oh did I mention cheap? that is, AFFORDABLE. The group wanted to spend some time riding the dragon, and as we did more research it turned out that there were about a ZILLION other roads that were just as lovely in the area. It made for some exciting mapping sessions.

We got up pretty early, and headed out to find our way around the smokies. Bright and shiny and eager to go:drz400

Before we started we had a motorcycle kick-off talk – I don’t normally do this with our group, because we all ride well together – but we were going to be on some very technical roads, and we didn’t have a map to distribute to the whole group, and I didn’t want anyone to get in over their heads. We let everyone know that the twisties would be fast and frequent, and that some people would like to go faster than others through the route – if you want to go faster, signal to pass up to the front and wait for the group at major intersections. If you want to go slower, hang back, take your time, enjoy yourself and of most importance RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE, and trust that we will wait for you at major intersections.

I don’t know about everyone else, but laying it out like that made ME feel more confident that people would take care and ride at their own pace, and I was able to enjoy my ride much more for it.

Our first route was going to take us up Rt 348, but we found out that it was closed!

oh, that’s ok – quick iPhone re-routing to take GA129 up into NC/TN…. and OH MY GRACIOUS it was so lovely.

[[Disclaimer: some motorcyclists are great at taking photos while they ride. Some motorcyclists are great at stopping frequently and taking photos of where they ride. I am good at NEITHER of these. I am good at riding and riding and riding and having a darn good time and going back later and making google maps of where I’ve been.]]

This is my favorite road of the day – GA 129, up and over Blood Mountain.

Here’s a video I found on youtube that will give you the flavor of the road – basically, you’re going up a steep hill and there are turns! back and forth! not so deep that you had to slow down, but still challenging! you could see ahead of you on the road and all you saw were gorgeous corners ahead!


It was really FUN!

And this day, Day 8, is when it all clicked for me and I started to really understand why light bikes are so fun and how to use the brake to flick back and forth on twisties. SO GREAT. I also started to really appreciate how much work my friends on larger bikes had to put in to get their bikes to lean back and forth. Mike and I were on sportier bikes (He was on the SV650, I was on my DRZ supermoto) so we took the lead. It was phenomenal. Plus, I grew up in Eastern TN running around the smokies, and call me sentimental, but the smells and plants and flowers and terrain felt so familiar and welcoming to me. What a lovely place to ride motorcycles.

We took a break at Tellaco Plains in TN for some ice cream (I had a Mayfair Brown Cow ice cream bar – these were such a treat when I was a kid, I couldn’t resist!) and sodas, and cool water in great quantities. The temperature was fluctuating wildly between the cool of the shadowy mountains and the hot flats and coves in between the peaks – I was really happy to have the gear on that I did, it was very comfortable at a range of temperatures.


After Tellaco we headed out onto the Cherahala Skyway into NC – which would take us up over this ridge:

It was just gorgeous. We stopped at an overlook to get a good view of the smokies:

I think this is the road we came up on!


After that, it was on to Deal’s Gap! We stopped at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort for “lunch” – it had been a long day already, and we were stopping at 4 or so in the afternoon. I had a smoked trout sandwich, which was supposedly caught and smoked by a local guy. it was delicious.


To prepare ourselves, we walked out back and checked out the tree of shame:IMG_0901

here are a couple of my favorites:




“VFR vs Deer. Deer Loses, Rider Walks. ATGATT.”

The Dragon was closed for much of Spring 2010 because of a rock slide which not only covered a portion of the road at the bottom, but also created a dangerous overhang over the road, but it was opened for drivers and riders to go down and come back up again. Despite it’s cult status, Rt 139 is still used as a major cross-over between NC and TN. Check out these amazing old photos of the heyday when the speed limit was 55 MPH.


After that, we suited up and headed down the road. The Dragon’s Tail is really physically challenging. you really can’t go much faster than 30 mph (well, *I* can’t, anyway) and it’s a series of serious switchbacks – not even twisties. there is oncoming traffic and you have to stay in your lane. that said, it was so fun, and so challenging. I’m glad we had a chance to run it.

We stopped near the bottom – there was an outlook (we love scenery!) and there was a pace car ahead of us so we wanted to let it get out of our way before the final push down and back up.

I believe this is the Cheola Dam:

I LOVE this photo – doesn’t it look like we’re having an amazing time? (hint: the photos doesn’t lie!)

Hey, we made it to the bottom!


Killboy was there taking photos, and we ordered a whole bunch from them. They are super quality – I’m glad we got there in time to catch his regular shift, as it was pretty late in the day.


By the time we regrouped at the resort, it was getting late and we were definately tired. We still had one more stretch of road ahead of us before our hotel for the evening, which turned out to be my second favorite road of the day.

Rt 28 is charmingly called Moonshiner 28, and is definately a must-ride. After the athleticism of the Dragon’s Tail, Moonshiner was a nice mix of still pretty challenging but not so rough that you can’t enjoy the scenery. After the twisties rt 28 opens up into a 4 lane rural highway, and soon we were at our final destination –  the Gear Head Inn.


our hosts were so accommodating! They’ve just opened, and they’re redoing each of the rooms in the style of an old car or motorcycle mfgr, with posters and other paraphernalia.

We had the AMC room. the rooms are GIANT and the bathrooms are vintage and adorable.

The proprietors are really super and they were so accommodating. We ordered pizza delivery and ate by the pool, and they offered to run out and grab us beers if we wanted. so kind! They have lots of parking and plenty of spaces right in front of the rooms for cars and motorcycles, and a lot across the road for trailer parking. It was a great place to stay.

The pool is classic motor lodge – i.e., in the center of the parking lot, and we spent some time chatting with some of the other guests there. I had a funny conversation with one of them, he was a MSF instructor and I said something like: “you know how you start motorcycling and you’re just crazy about it for a couple of years?” he responded: “yeah, about *30* years?” So true.

After our pizza we all just about fell over from the sleepy. It was a long couple of days, and we had more long rides ahead of us to get home!

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 7: Myrtle Beach SC to Helen GA

May 12

This was a day of motoring. We had to make it all the way across the state in order to set ourselves up for our full day of smoky mountain riding tomorrow!

We had last minute plans to go to the BMW plant in Spartanburg SC – one of our group mentioned it at the beginning of the trip, and sounded really cool: they make cars, not motorcycles, but the building is also a super-efficient green building which I love. So we headed out across the state on small roads, with the plans to avoid highways as much as possible but make up time in some key areas. We got about 2/3 of the way to Spartanburg and were frantically trying to make up miles on the highway when the interested party said “oh hey, let’s screw it. I’ll do it another time. it’s too far away.” We all agreed that it was turning out to be too much work for vacation and happily, we hadn’t gotten too far out of the way, so we hung a left and went south towards our destination for the night.

It was hot going. We stopped to try some boiled peanuts – they are AMAZING with a can of coke.

The last leg of the trip was just twisty and pretty enough (after our long hot ride through some of SCs big highways) to perk everyone up. And I did have a surprise for everyone – we were overnighting in Helen GA , which is a bavarian-style town in the mountains of N Ga. I didn’t tell anyone about the architecture so when we pulled in and saw this:

It got even better walking to dinner:

Everyone was really surprised! it was super. I was a little worried Helen would be kitchy, or that we wouldn’t have enough time to enjoy it, but it was even cuter and more interesting than I had hoped, and everyone loved it and we all are secretly planning to go back another time for a longer stay.

We had an amazing meal at the (of course!) Hofbrauhaus.

And afterwards, we walked back to the hotel and turned in for another early start and a long day of twisties!

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 6. Wrap ‘er up, Myrtle Beach

After our excitement the night before we were slow starters and spent the day riding around checking out what little there was on display for the rally.

someone’s buddy on their motorcycle:

I’m pretty sure someone rode this into the HD dealership – I didn’t see any support vehicles, and it moved around during the time we were there!

there were some great paint jobs out there, and this one reminded us of the iconic three wolf moon shirt:

Although I don’t wear a leather vest, I love seeing the people set up to sew patches onto them. Mike and I are going to get one of these heavy duty sewing machines one day!

For those who have never gone to a rally, well, you might wonder what it’s for. really, I think it’s for walking around, looking at vendors, and checking out bikes. it’s nice to be in a place with a zillion other people on motorcycles, but that gets pretty weird when they don’t wear helmets (nutty south carolina!) or worry about safety gear in the same way you do! also the vendors at myrtle beach were pretty much all different versions of the same t-shirt guy, so it wasn’t that great. There were a lot of pretty bikes there, and of course there are the old hold-out vestiges of “biker culture,” like  suck bang blow, which is a bar where people do burnouts on old tires (no burnouts, poor turnout). There’s a bar called the rathole but we couldn’t find it at it’s new location – this is a more typical “biker” crowd with wet t-shirt contests etc. THAT part of the rally really ticks me off, to be honest, and I was glad to miss it. While there are a lot more women riding their own than there used to be (our group is really stellar in its equal representation) there are still a lot of dudes who need to prove to everyone else how tough they are by objectifying one group or another.

This was also the day that my very favorite photo of myself was snapped:

After noodling around, we all went back to the hotel to pack up. We had a long trip ahead of us! On the way back, I stopped at the store and bought some 2L bottles to try in my sweetcheeks –

And I even put them (empty) into the freezer before capping, so the ideal gas law would make them firmer to sit on. the next day I strapped it onto my seat and it turns out that… it wasn’t that comfortable. Maybe a 1L bottle would be better, this made the seat way too wide for me. So I went without on the whole trip.

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 5: Day Trip to USS NC

After our lackluster tour of the “rally” events we decided to head back up north to Wilmington NC to visit the USS North Carolina Battleship Museum. Our butts were feeling much better after our previous slow day! Wilmington is about 80 miles from Myrtle Beach, and on the way is Shallotte SC, where Beach House HD is trying to take up the lost crowds and revenue from the Myrtle Beach Rally.

We stopped at the HD dealership and crossed our fingers that no one would decide to buy a new motorcycle and checked out the vendors – there weren’t many set up, still too early in the week? but there was a delicious BBQ sandwich stand run by the local Volunteer FD and EMS, and also this very cool fire truck:

Then we continued on up to the battleship. This tour is SO COOL. it’s a self-guided walk through the entire ship, and it took us several hours to make it through the whole thing!

What is it about the fisheye camera?

Seriously, I was using some old film…

But every single photo is either totally unintelligible or it is SERIOUS.

Seriously Epic.

Exceptionally seriously epic.

The tour is so neat, you walk all through the ship and up and down and down and down and down –


as we walked out right at closing we saw this sign:

nothing reminds you that you’re in the southeast like alligator warnings!

after our visit to the battleship, we looked up the location of a Golden Corral and headed out for dinner. I wasn’t kidding, we ate there a LOT. Getting there required a Flying Circus Technically Complete U-Turn in Formation. Actually, I think we did a couple of laps around the neighborhood before we could find our dinner! We even stopped and asked for directions. Bellies full, we headed home to Myrtle Beach.

Unfortunately Mike F won our hero of the day award when he ran out of gas on the way home. It was pitch black and getting chilly and his fuel indicator light didn’t go on. Happily, we were really close to a gas station and it was just a slight derail of plans. Pro tip: if the gas station won’t let you borrow a gas can, buy some windshield wiper fluid, dump it out, and put a little gas in side. Easy to cap and bring back to your buddy, and just a little gasoline goes a long way when you’re motorcycling.

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 4. Rest and Rally.

We were tired after our trip down, so we took it easy on Day 4. I got up and b/c Mike was still so sleepy I figured I’d give him a break, and I went out for a run on the beach. It was great! It was also the only day I went out for a run! But still, great!

I got a call about meeting for breakfast while I was jogging and it was a hilarious conversation: Rick was all “Oh, are y’all moving yet?” and I was like: “yup, I’m out running on the beach!” he was floored.

We headed out to the bikes: would you believe we had a really hard time finding parking in the hotel garage the night before?


So we decided to cruise around and look at stuff today. Mostly, we spent a lot of time at Jammin’ Leather. They’ve made an effort to become rally “headquarters” and I am not surprised, people buy a lot of stuff at rallys and if no one is shopping for leather gear than it must be a giant hit to their business. We did our part – two of our group bought jackets (textile and leather blends, but no armor) and one of us got a vest and chaps. For the record: ALL CHAPS ARE ASSLESS. that is what makes them chaps.

As we were riding around, we didn’t pass many bikers. There weren’t many vendors set up the few days we were there, and permits were more expensive so everyone said that they would set up for the 2nd weekend, not the first (while we were there). All in all, though, it was fine! we managed to occupy ourselves just fine.

we had a very late lunch / early dinner at crabby mike’s, a seafood buffet that seemed appropriate, based on our heavy frequency of mike’s on the trip. also, check out the very creepy dead crab with halo art hanging in the dining room:

after our day out and about, we went back and met up with our two straggler Mike’s and went for a nice long walk on the beach. Definitely a nice evening with friends!

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 3. Ocracoke Island NC to Myrtle Beach SC

MAY 8.

The next morning we were up leisurely and on the 10AM ferry from Ocracoke Island to Cedar Island. Mike S and Mike F stayed behind for a rest day on Ocracoke, and the other five of us motored on to SC.

a note about these NC ferries – last year, I recall that there were blocks to put against your front tires. this year we didn’t have any of those at all. No tie downs either, on either of the ferries (though we didn’t have them last year either).


it was a gorgeous day for a boat ride. The Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry is about 2 hours and it was sunny and warm and I had to hide from the sun by the end of the ride!

When we got to Cedar Island, we got on the bikes and rode straight off of the ferry with no stopping until we got to a car wash where we could rinse the salt off of the motorcycles. And let’s be honest: some of our bikes (OK JUST MINE AND MIKES) were cleaner at this point than they had been for months and months.

and then we went to the first of many delicious meals at the Golden Corral.

For those of you not in the know, The Golden Corral is a reasonably priced buffet and the food quality is amazing in the south – but we can tell you that based on careful experimentation, the quality is quite patchy the further north you get from Delaware. Janice loves it. also: SWEET TEA.

The only problem with starting the day with a ferry is that you get up, get on the bikes and you hurry up and get started… to, well, wait for 2 hours. in the sun, and you get sleepy… and then you stop at a delicious buffet… so by the end of the day you feel like it’s really been a LONG TRIP. We felt that way for sure when we pulled into a rest area in south carolina at about 5PM. after a short stretch break we were on our way into Myrtle Beach. It was hot and we’d been riding through a headwind and we desparately needed a drink of water. We all stopped and texted exciting, pithy, and relevant updates to our official trip tumblr.

Bike Week in Myrtle Beach has been a contentious issue, lately. The City has been trying to chase out the bikers by passing things like helmet laws (there’s no helmet law in SC) and noise ordinances. And to be honest, while I’m in general supportive of these things (especially the helmet law, gracious!) I think that the City could have done a better job of saying: you know, we want your business, bikers, but we want you to be SAFE. but they were pretty clear they didn’t want the business of bikers so last year most bikers wouldn’t even pass through the City of Myrtle Beach, sticking to the activities on the north, west, and south instead. We stayed in Myrtle Beach and every hotel and restaurant proprietor was pretty clear that they were losing boatloads of money because of the drop in attendance (anecdotally, hotel bookings went from nearly 100% two years ago to about 50% this year) but at the same time the Mayor was reelected last year so who knows?

Personally we stay in the city, because we like hotels on the beach! Like this one, where we were happily ensconced for a few days:

after we got in we unloaded and went down to the beach-front bar for a drink, and then nearly passed out on our feet from exhaustion so turned in.

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Day 2. May 7th: Onley VA to Ocracoke Island, NC

We were up at a reasonably early time so we could get on the road – our goal was Ocracoke Island, to a hotel Mike S liked very much, and a restaurant we had all eaten at last year and enjoyed.

And look how bright and happy I am first thing in the morning!

I have to add that I LOVE MY DIRTBAGZ SADDLEBAGS. like, a lot. a whole lot.

They’re canvas and come off the bike super easy, so when we pulled in to our destination for the evening I would pop them off the bike, open the hat box and pull out a canvas tote bag, throw them all over my shoulders (as shown above), and hike into the room. it was so easy!

Besides proximity to Mike F’s friendly diner, the other reason we like to stop in Onley is that it’s only about 50 miles from the Bay Bridge Tunnel, so we were planning to have breakfast on the bridge (there’s a restaurant at the midway point). We got up and loaded the bikes and enjoyed our continental breakfast (but not too much!) and headed out to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Unfortunately the restaurant was closed! undergoing major renovations and due to open in JUNE 2010! We were a month too early! Which made us crabby!

Until we weren’t:

In Virginia Beach we practiced classic Rainmaker U-Turn Maneuvering Formation, and stopped to eat at a Waffle House. Delicious! However others in the party gave it mixed reviews.

After what felt like a long morning of fits and starts, we were finally off! It was pretty much gorgeous driving through VA and coastal NC and then there was a sudden (classic Rainmaker U-Turn Maneuvering Formation) u-turn and our party found itself in Kitty Hawk at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. You know what’s nice? being on a trip with a lot of other people and STILL being able to just stop off the cuff and check out a national park.

I’d been there before, but it’s such a neat place.

“By Dauntless Resolution and Unconcorable Faith”

The glider itself (or was it a full scale reproduction?):
And we thought *we* were overloaded!



oh the drama of the accidental double exposure:

After a couple of hours of walking around, we were back in the saddle and headed down to Ocracoke. Snacks were had by chipmunk riders everywhere.


We took the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island, and happily, it was a regularly traveling ferry which left every 1/2 hour, so we didn’t have to worry about schedules at all. How lovely! Our innkeepers at the Silver Lake Inn called us while we were on the boat to warn us of a police stop on the way into town, which was really thoughtful of them, and before you knew it we were at our hotels and walking down to the restaurant (The Flying Melon) for some delicious local fish. A really lovely day!

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

DAY 1: May 6th, Newburgh NY to Onley VA

We met at 10AM at the tandem trailer parking area on the NYS Thruway headed south at Newburgh. (um. we were supposed to meet at 9 or 9:30, but Mike had a business trip that week and didn’t get home until nearly midnight the night before. And we might have had to pack still that morning. At least all the oil changes had been taken care of ahead of time!)

We always joke that our motorcycle “club” name is the RAINMAKERS, and in typical fashion we started out in our rain gear. It was drizzling, but not too bad, and because it was a little chilly starting out the rain gear wasn’t such a bad thing.

After admiring each others bikes and packing jobs, we were off! This day was mostly highway, unfortunately – I-87 to NJ Rt 17 to the Garden State Parkway to the NJ Turnpike to … well, to LUNCH. in Delaware.

As we were peeling off our raingear at a rest stop in auspiciously sunny southern NJ, Mike S said: “Hey! let’s go to Mike’s Famous Harley’s for lunch. They’ve got burgers or something there.” OK, that’s sounds awesome! let’s go.

And then: MIKE S PROCEEDED TO BUY A NEW MOTORCYCLE. that’s right, he traded his in, and picked up a new one. and man that new one was SHARP:

We ended up hanging out for about 3 hours while he negotiated (he had to walk out 2x before he got the deal he wanted) – we had sandwiches, and sat in the grass, and talked, and drank lots of water, and waited….
and waited…
and waited…

but it was worth it!

and then we were back on the road! Our goal for the day was Onley VA, Mike F has a favorite diner there with a reasonable hotel right next door within walking distance. We pulled in at around 9PM, dropped our gear, and dashed next door to get some delicious dinner. Our last 50 miles or so was down dark US 13 in MD and then VA, and we picked up a lot of dead bugs on our shields.

I can’t even imagine the horror of riding through that without some strong plexiglass between me and the innocent swarms of gnats and mosquitoes.

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]

Spring 2010 Trip: Prep and Introductions

The last few years, my partner and his friends (now my friends as well) have been riding down to Myrtle Beach for bike week. Last year was the first year I went, and I was passenger on my partner’s bike. This year was my first year to ride my own!

Here is my ride:

My awesome DRZ-400SM, which I souped up with a larger gas tank (Clarke 3.9 Gallon), a spitfire windshield, dirtbagz panniers, and a givi hat box. I didn’t get around to putting a new more comfortable seat on it, though I did get a sweetcheeks (but never used it) – you can see it strapped to the back against the hat box. More info about farkling the friendly and competent DRZ-400SM is here.

and our gang:
from L-R –
My partner Mike, me, Rick, Janice, Kerry, Mike S. and Mike F.
That’s right: three Mike’s, two “Kari”‘s, a Rick and a Janice.

We updated while on the road using tumblr, our trip page is here.


I used my lomo fish eye camera on the trip – I haven’t used it much, so I was pretty much experimenting with it as I was going. I think there’s a filter or app that will stretch the shots out to make them less rounded and more wide angle, I’m going to look for that for future experimentation. I also snapped a lot of shots with my iPhone 3, and sometimes I used my panasonic lumix digicam.

And as far as packing, I think I brought maybe 30% too much stuff! we did do laundry 2x on the trip, which really helped.

  • 2 tank tops (icebreaker wool)
  • 1 long-neck zip up turtle neck (also wool)
  • 1 wool sweater/jacket that zipped up all the way
  • wool leggings
  • 5 pairs of underpants
  • 4 tshirts
  • 5 pairs of knee socks
  • flip flops
  • running shoes (I have big feet so I’ve been trying to use minimalist shoes like the nike 5.0 so they pack smaller)
  • running shorts and sports bra
  • swim suit
  • 2 skirts
  • a light weight long sleeve wool shirt (really it’s a wool long john top)
  • a pair of yoga style long wool pants (can be worn out at night or under my motorcycle pants as a layer)
  • shorts
Accessories and Accouterments :
  • 3 pairs of motorcycle gloves (mesh, plain leather with gauntlet, and cold weather gloves)
  • glove liners
  • turtle fur for my neck
  • snacks
  • film camera and digicam
  • 3 bandannas
  • extra ear plugs
  • a folding backpack in case we found something we couldn’t live without on our travels
  • rain gear – zip-in pants for my motorcycle pants, and an overjacket
  • extra sunglasses and my clear glasses for night
  • paper maps for everywhere we were going
  • motorcycle manual
  • my toiletry bag
  • and most important perhaps:
    • travel coffee cup that seals so I could chuck it in the top case while we were moving
    • my reusable water bottle.

In retrospect:

  • I would probably only take the 2 tanks and 2 tshirts, instead of the 4 tshirts.
  • I was surprised at how frequently I wore the shorts. I didn’t need 2 skirts, I only pulled them on for dinners or long days walking around away from the bike. Mostly I kept my riding pants on with my leggings or shorts on. I think replacing a skirt with a pair of comfy hot pants would be better for day-long rides.
  • I may have brought too many sweaters too, but I wore them all at different times (the zip up was nice to throw on when it was chilly for dinner, and the long neck sweater was great when it was chilly on the road).
  • for most of the trip I thought my winter gloves were overkill but it was really cold on our last day heading home, so I was glad to have them.
  • I did go swimming 1x and running 1x, so I’m glad I had that stuff with me, but it wasn’t strictly necessary.
  • I’m so so so glad I had my flip flops with me, though I would love to have a pair of really comfy compressible closed toe shoes to wear instead.
  • the maps were bulky but we did refer to them. a good road atlas would be a better option but I got the maps for free from better world club as part of my membership.
  • I need a compression sack to keep my rain gear in, because it’s really bulky as is. something that will store it flat will be best, so I can keep it with me every day in my
  • I sorted the saddle bags so I had one side with clothes that I would be wearing frequently, the other side with swimsuit/other stuff and the snacks right on top. the rain pants and rain jacket went on top of the stuff sacks stuff in each saddle bag. my hat box held the water and travel mug and my motorcycle clothing and toiletry bag and cameras and maps for the day. I used a canvas sack to bring items from the saddle bags up into the hotel when I needed it.
  • AND I also got waterproof stuff sacks for the saddle bags – and they fit almost exactly inside the saddle bags so I didn’t have to worry about my stuff getting wet! Every morning when repacking I would shuffle the things I needed up to the top, and things I didn’t need (and dirty clothes) down to the bottom.
  • even though I did bring a little more stuff than necessary, I was never cold, handled the wet just fine, and all in all it isn’t bad for 30 min. of packing the morning we were due to head out.

[[check out the summary post with lessons learned, and a full index to this ride report post.]]