Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Review System: Gear Wrap-Up

2004 Moto Guzzi Breva V750 IE

The Breva V750 is a terrific all-round bike. For my taste, it meets all the requirements of a fun ride: it's exotic and Italian, it's a v-twin, it's light and nimble, has a comfortable seating position for touring and comes with optional hard bags and touring windscreen. It's sporty enough for peg-scraping, handles well on all road surfaces--including dirt--and can run all day long in top gear with the optimistic speedo reading 100 mph. All the while consistently getting upward of 50 mpg. One of the most appealing aspects is that the Breva comes with the option of a low profile seat for the vertically challenged! The only drawbacks I could find are that it is quite fussy about it's break-in miles and oil consumption. Additionally, I experienced a consistent weave when negotiating high-speed sweeping turns, but you shouldn't be going that fast on the street anyway!

MSRP: $7,990
Moto Guzzi Breva

Hein Gericke G-Line Bonzai 2-Piece Ladies Riding Suit

The Bonzai suit comes in two colors; white (w/red) and black, and is part of the new 'G-Line' of ladies' riding gear from Hein Gericke available by mid-summer. The Bonzai is constructed of lightweight leather with perforated panels making it a great street-riding suit for the warmer months. Thin Hiprotec® removable armor in the back, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees provides some protection without adding bulk to your figure. Jacket and pants zip together for added protection and a snap-in liner is provided for those chilly evenings on the road. Stretch panels in all the right places make this suit really comfortable, while the ultra-hip graphics and feminine styling make a bold contemporary statement. There's no way you'll be mistaken for a guy wearing this suit!

Pricing and web site information will be available soon.

Alpinestars Stella SP-C Sport Riding Glove and S-MX3 Road Racing/Touring Boot

The Stella SP-C provides full protection in a ladies' glove that fits. It's one of the only ladies' gloves that has dual carbon fiber knuckle protectors providing excellent abrasion resistance and impact protection. If you're small like me, give these gloves a try.

The Stella S-MX3 Road Racing/Touring boot is one of the most comfortable ladies' sport boots I've owned. Durable Lorica construction with injected PU protection of the shin, ankle, calf, toe and heel provide protection for maximum impact and abrasion resistance. They come in red, blue and black.

Alpinestars Stella Gloves
Alpinestars Stella Boots

Vanessa Road Line 25/50 Liter Side Panniers for Sport Touring

Since the optional hard bags didn't come with my Breva test bike, I used the Vanessa Road Line panniers available through Galaxy Eurosport. They are top loading for easy access and have electrically welded inner pouches offering better waterproofing. These bags are universal and mount easily to any bike. I especially like the reflective stripes and their durable construction. Rain covers are included, although I've ridden these bags all day in the rain and not used the covers.

MSRP: $272.00 US
Vanessa Road Line Panniers

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Final Day: Moto Guzzi National Rally, New Cumberland, WV

After riding clear across the country and miraculously not hitting one lick of rain, today it was pouring. Figures. Those of us who've been coming to this rally over the years can count on one hand the times it DIDN'T rain, and of course we huddled together in our rain suits and talked about just that. “Hey remember the year it was so stinking hot?” “What about the year of the flood?” Guzzi riders are a hardcore bunch; standing around in mud up to our valve stems with rain drizzling down, talking bikes and rides is just what we do. Ain't no thang.

We're also a very small group. Guzzis don't appeal to everyone; so we're either an extremely elite club or a handful of hardheaded weirdoes, take your pick… probably a bit of both, I'd say. There's no way to describe seeing folks I hadn't really been in touch with since I moved to the left coast. My friends Cathy and Dave Blake are now grandparents three times over. The 'Lemans Parking Lot' I'd organized 10 years ago is still holding strong, although not everyone was still riding Lemans'. Barb Nowell was riding her Brutale, Dave Dilworth was on a Convert, and his son Will was now riding his own bike, an MZ. There was a touch of sadness to the rally as we remembered Buck Bush, each in our own way.

Dinner and door prizes done with, the campfires and tall tales come to life. After a few laps around the camp visiting, it was time to head on over to the VFW for some dancing. Cuttin' the rug in our mud-covered Tingley's is another tradition I was surely not going to miss. Chugged beer and danced to everything from Joan Jet to Patsy Cline with my old pals until last call and my husband Ed dragged me out of there by my hair.

Sunday morning was a beautiful sunny clear day, giving everyone good weather for the ride home. I said my goodbyes knowing that I was also saying goodbye to an important era in my riding history.

In the end, yes, I did win the long distance award by riding 3057 miles cross-country on a Breva 750. However, to me, the more rewarding thing is that the youngest rider award went to my friend Jimmy Miller's daughter, Larissa, from near Philadelphia, also on a Breva. Someday I hope she makes a solo trip similar to mine, and I bet she does!

Farewell Bucky Bush and the West Virginia Big Country Rally. It was a grand run.

1976 850 Lemans Buck's rally Pins Finally Home

Friday, May 27, 2005

Day Eight: Huntington, WV to New Cumberland, WV

I knew it was too good to be true, and I was right. I’d ridden across the country without seeing one stray dog or dead dog, and I thought I was home free. But there it was, a fluffy gold-colored handsome dog, hunkered down and shaking with fear in the grassy median on I64. I already have two dogs I found on the side of the road, and there’s no way I could get this one on the bike. My stomach turned sour, my whole trip would be ruined with worry. What to do?

Pull of at the next exit and call local animal control, that’s what! The next exit happened to be a rest stop with a dog friendly attendant. He called animal control and then went off in his truck to see if he could get the dog himself. Hallelujah! I didn’t stick around to see if he was successful, but rather decided to press on knowing that I’d done my best.

West Virginia is one of my favorite states for riding. Only here will you pass through towns with names like Nitro, Institute and Big Otter. I put my head down and aimed for Fairmont. There I left the freeway and took one of my favorite roads, Rt. 250, which winds through the hilly forest and cuts through long-forgotten old steel and mining towns like Hundred and Littleton. After 50 or so miles of switch backs and dense foliage, the road opens up on the top of the mountain to wide grassy farms where you can see the shades of green fields forever topped by a bright blue sky almost as big as Montana.

RT. 250 curves down the mountain and dumps you out onto RT. 2, which follows the oHIo River, and back into local life and small towns. It also passes right through the center of the employee-owned steel mill in Wierton, one of the last working mills in West Virginia.

I arrived at the rally as I’d hoped, right in time for dinner. My old best friend Bill handed me a cocktail and we fell into conversation like we’d seen each other just last week. My husband, Ed, snapped my photo, gave me a kiss, and my trip was over, just like that.

Miles: Total 3057

Routes: I64; I79; Rt. 250; RT. 2

Seat Time: 6 hours

ostoria 3057 3057frog

Day Seven: Nashville, TN to Huntington, WV

Before leaving Nashville I had to go pay homage to the Nun Bun at Bongo Java. I was slow to leave Nashville since it’s one of my favorite small cities.

Back on the bike for the final leg of my journey, my thoughts now turned toward Bucky Bush and seeing old Guzzi friends. Too bad I didn’t have time to stay a night at the Wigwam Hotel. Ah well, that will be something for the next trip.

Covered some miles on the slab and aimed my front wheel for Route 30 in eastern Kentucky. I hit London, Kentucky, late afternoon and turned north. Route 30 is a fabulous road! Although I imagine it would be crawling with coal and logging trucks during work hours.

In Paintsville, I turned left onto the Country Music Highway. This area is rich in traditional music history and would be well worth exploring another time, when it’s not dark and I’m not tired and cold. Headed north to my goal for the night, Huntington, West Virginia. Ten miles from Huntington I ran into road construction which easily added another hour to my trip with some Rube Goldberg detour. Reached Huntington at 11pm. Had a delicious dinner of blush wine and microwaved burger at the Stop-N-Shop, yum.

Tomorrow I plan on arriving at the Guzzi rally by dinnertime, or at least before dark!

Country Music Highway

nunbun crazy reds

Miles: 425, plus friggin' detour

Routes: I65; Louie B. Nunn Pkwy.; Rt. 80; Rt. 30; Rt. 23; I64; Detour

Seat Time: 9.5 hours

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Day Six: Nashville, TN

This is my day off, whew. I was in Nashville about 12 years ago, and boy-howdy it sure has changed. The seedy downtown Broadway honky-tonk area has sadly fallen victim to the homogeny spreading throughout America like kudzu, although I did have lunch at Jack’s Barbecue, which seems to have remained the same. Gruhn Guitars is also mostly unchanged, as is Hatch Show Print. Buying a monoprint from master printmaker Jim Sherraden, manager of Hatch, was my reason for stopping in Nashville. You’ll not find his monoprints on the Hatch web site; you have to visit the shop and ask to see his personal work.

When in Nashville you can’t miss the "new" Country Music Hall of Fame. I was raised listening to my Dad playing guitar and ukulele with "uncle" Johnny on banjo, so traditional mountain music and bluegrass are two of my favorites.

After eating gas station food for the last two days I dropped a bill on a good dinner with a nice red zin.


Loews Hatch CMH

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Day Five: Ozark, AR to Nashville, TN

Blogging is a lot of work. Grr. However, last night I brown-bagged my cocktail and dinner by the pool and called it a day. Skipped the cellophane wrapped continental breakfast but did drink some coffee-colored water with powdered creamer, yummy. I let the morning pass a bit hoping that my ride would be free of critters and luckily only saw one deer trot across the road. Today I rode the Ozark Mountain’s Pig Tail, the winding road that leads up to the University of Arkansas, which was described to me as "dangerous" by the woman who owned the motel. Then again, she thought I was on a scooter since it wasn’t “as big and loud as a normal motorcycle.”

Finally out of the flatlands, I wound my way up through tree covered Rt. 23, and it felt good to be running on the sides of my tires again. I fell into the rhythm of the road like I’d never left eastern USA, left the bike in third and two-fingered the brake only when absolutely necessary. Like most other Guzzis, the Breva seems happiest running at 5-6 grand, so that’s where I kept it. I seemed to be making good time until I saw a box turtle in the middle of the road. I slammed on the brakes, hung a U-turn and went back to move the turtle off the asphalt. This was a Three-toed box turtle or Terrapene carolina triunguis: http://www.tortoise.org/archives/terrapen.html . Very cool since I had never seen this sub-species!

As this is the "no plan" trip, when I started to see signs for the Booger Hollow Trading Post and Café, I thought, “What the hell!” The signs were posted every few miles, just like Pedro urging you on to South of the Border. Being the sucker I am, I rode fifteen miles out of my way to eat at Booger’s. But dang, it was closed. After this small detour and removing at least 8 T. carolina triunguis from the road, I figured I’d better start making some time. Stuffed down some gas station food (no wonder people are so fat and sickly) and put my head down, aiming for Nashville and civilization by dark.

Routes: Rt. 23; Rt.16; Rt. 7; Rt. 16; RT. 64; I40

Miles: Heck, I dunno, let’s just say far enough. Probably 500 or so.

Seat Time: 10 hours

Turtle rescue: 8 T. carolina triunguis

turtleme booger dragbike

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Day Four: Dalhart, TX to Ozark, AR

Never could get the internet hook-up in my room to work. That’s what I get for being attracted to funky little places instead of well known chain motels. Oh well. Left Dalhart in a socked-in fog and a heavy, wet mist with a visibility of about 100 feet. The north portion of the Texas panhandle seems to be home of fertilizer production, with corporations like Monsanto having a big presence and the air thick with a sickly chemical smell.

"Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain." Ain’t that the truth. The bike was keeled over at least 2-3 degrees for mile after mile of straight asphalt running through cattle country. Someone wanted to know what I think about on these long stretches. ”Is that a cop? Did he slam on his brakes? Are those flashing lights in my mirror? Is 'cattle' singular and plural and is that a generic or specific term? What’s a 'heifer?' Does 'steer' apply to both genders? I wonder what happened to the other shoe, why is there always only one? I used to like this Boz Scaggs tune in college, but now I hate it and wish it would go away. I’m glad there haven’t been any stray dogs along the road because it would be tough to get them on the bike. Also, glad that there has been very little road kill. That’s an armadillo. That’s a skunk. That’s an opossum. Look, there’s my dinner.”

The stockyards are really disgusting. Chisholm Trail cowboy glamour is lost when you see thousands of cattle (?) standing around, knee deep in mud. I pulled onto the highway at Oklahoma City and was smacked with the slaughterhouse smell. If you don’t know what that is, there’s no describing it. You have to go find out for yourself and I’ll leave it at that.

Needed to get into Arkansas before I stopped for the day.

Routes: Rt. 152; Rt. 44; I40

Miles: Ha ha ha, 500 or so

Seat Time: 8 hours

Gas Mileage: 45.5 mpg with headwind

Artsy fartsy

Monday, May 23, 2005

Day Three: Los Lunas, NM to Dalhart, TX

I’d decided last night that when I left the hotel in the morning I’d jump on RT. 40E to make some time. Checked the oil, added about 1/4 quart, and headed out of the parking lot. Before I went the 100 ft. to the freeway, I changed my mind and headed north to Taos and the mountains!! Saw this bitchin’ "Saints and Sinners" sign in Espanola and had to have a photo. While snapping the pic some helmet-less loudmouth screamed, “IDIOT” at me as he drove by. At first I was pissed, but then I figured he was right; I was an idiot because I STILL hadn’t learned how to use the timer on my camera, I could’ve been a saint or a sinner, damn.

Followed the Rio Grand up to Taos, getting a snort full of sagebrush as the road snaked up higher and higher. Stopped at the Taos Inn for lunch where I got out the Cannon manual and learned how easy it is to use the timer. Took a nice photo in answer to the guy who yelled at me earlier. Take that, rude-boy!

Taos was crawling with tourists. So after a foofy southwestern lunch, it was time to ride. Headed northeast on 64 and then took a few random turns onto roads not marked on my inadequate map. Nailed a twisty country lane that lead me to a perfect dirt road. On my own I can do whatever I darn well please: no one to tell me what route to take and no sissies to whine about riding on dirt! Crossed a rocky stream and wound my way back to the paved road, crossed the stream again and then headed down the mountain.

Figured I’d better at least get my ass into Texas before calling it a day. Reached my new goal of Dalhart, TX about 9:30pm

Routes: I25N; Rt. 84N; Rt. 68N; Rt. 64NE; dirt road, side road; Rt. 64NE; Rt. 58E; I25S; Rt. 56/412E; Rt. 87S

Miles: Seems like I’ve settled in to about 500 miles per day

Seat Time: 9 hours plus SLOW foofy 2 hour lunch

finger bike1

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Day Two: Fountain Hills, AZ to Los Lunas, NM

Apparently there are many elk in the Apache National Forest, as indicated by this message spread across three different signs. What's it called when they do that? Anyway, I was thinking "smashed on grill"...elk burgers! Then I realized they meant the grill of your CAR.

Rebeka handed me off to Lady Biker Lynn. We met Lynn's hubby, Pete, for breakfast, got a tour of their dream home in Payson, and then Lynn lead me through the beautiful Apache National Forest on through to the NM state line. Nice to be in the cool mountains after yesterday's drive through desert hell. That was the first time that opening my face shield felt like sticking my head into a blast furnace; it was cooler keeping my shield shut tight.

With shield cracked open a bit and the pine scent filling my helmet, we leaned into the road and wicked it up. The Breva handles well through the sweepers fully loaded with gear, running in top gear right up to 7K for hours at a time.

Once into New Mexico the road straightened out and I was on my own. Check out the Very Large Array at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory: www.nrao.edu

For those of you who can't live without adding your two cents, I've opened up the comment section of the blog. Also, to see more photos click on my little face on the right where it says "See more of Alice's photos," duh.

Routes: Rt.87; Rt.260; Rt.60; I25
Miles: Not many... Less than 500
Seat Time: 6 hours

YinYang LHgarage vla1

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Day One: Los Angeles, CA to Fountain Hills, AZ

Like the moron I am, I picked the hottest day of the year to ride across the desert. 110 degrees. My first stop was to get a date shake and visit my big buddy. They wouldn't let me take a photo of the [illegal?]lady making my shake so I took a photo of the Colon Cleaner instead.

How many things can I stop and photograph and still cover any ground? I really should have snapped the smashed motorhome as they were winching it up onto a flat bed, on it's side, HA! Then there was the cement truck that looked like it had done flips down the freeway. It had been a very pretty truck with a bright red cab and a bright swirly yellow back, all slammed to hell, with a 5-10 mile traffic back up. Makes going slow even when you're splitting.

Pulled into Gary and Rebeka's was sufficiently beered, fed, and sent to bed with Gixer.
Routes: Slab! RT.91; I10; Rt.202; Rt.101
Miles: About 500. Gotta figger out how to work the dang trip meter, doh!
Seat Time: 7 hours

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Picking up the Test Gear

Yesterday was spent fitting the new Hein Gericke women's 'G-Line Bonzai' suit from Fairchild Sports and then picking up the Breva from Will Tate's California Speed Shop. Check out www.ca-speedshop.com

Then instead of coming home to pack I went to the 'Ride for Kids' benefit showing of On Any Sunday where I hooked up with boss-man Mitch B and shook hands with Bruce Brown and just about every one else who was in the movie. whoa! I'm supposed to be leaving NOW, but I guess I'm settling in to my 'no-plan-seat-of-the-pants' trip just as, uh, I had uh, not planned?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Aren't You Ready Yet?

Ok, things are rapidly moving along at a snail's pace as I struggle to get all my tech learning done before I leave. Here I am still in my PJs reading the digital camera booklet, I've never used the timer feature before, so what's the problem? Then I had to set up this blog , it took me all morning and some advice from my friend Erica. Additionally I still have to go pick up my new G Line Suit from Fairchild Sports and the Breva. I have no route planned, what was I thinking?