Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

This year we're having a late Christmas, my youngest son is in the Navy and can't get home till next Monday so we're holding off and going to celebrate when he gets home. We can't wait! We haven't seen him since September so we're all really looking forward to it.

Right now, I find myself wishing I could ride, lol! Two weeks ago we had a blizzard roll through dumping 15" of snow on us, today we have a much smaller one giving us more snow along with high winds. I guess I won't be riding for a while, lol. At least I have a small garage and both bikes are inside wishing they could be ridden. First chance I get at clear roads they're coming out! I don't mind riding in the cold, I've got decent cold weather gear so if it's around 30 degrees and the roads are clear, I'm riding!

When I can't ride I spend alot of time on the web reading and occasionally posting on motorcycle forums. Does anyone know of any good, open minded, HD forums? Alot of the HD forums I've found tend to do more metric bashing than I care for or is that just the way it is? I'm active on a couple Vulcan forums and there's very little HD bashing going on, most respect what people ride, but on a couple of HD boards if you own a metric, you're immediately an outcast. I don't get it. IMHO, all makers have some great offerings, how can one limit themselves to only one make? Hell, if I had the financial means I'd have something from every make, I love motorcycles! Ahhh, but the world would be a boring place if everyone was the same. The ones that really make me laugh are the ones that have all the HD labeled clothes, hats, boots, etc. but don't even own a damn bike! Around here there's a few die-hard HD owners, the kind that say, "I'd rather push my HD than ride some piece of jap-crap!", but they're saying this as they're getting into their Honda Civic!?!? Gimme a break! I guess I'm not a biker, just a motorcycle enthusiast that would rather spend my time on 2 wheels than in a cage, that's fine with me, lol! Anywho, this turned into a bunch of ramblings, lol! Ride what you love and enjoy the wind!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

There's a Harley in my garage!?!?!

After nothing but metrics since I started riding, December 1st I pulled the trigger and bought my first Harley Davidson! After my wreck I started searching for a bike. There's were several things I was looking for in a new ride, but I was determined to keep an open mind and look at everything I possibly could. For 3 weeks I looked at, sat on, and rode everything I possibly could that fit in my budget, from sport bikes to Harleys and everything in between. Finally, I came across my Harley, an '06 Sportster XL1200C, lightly used with only 5300 miles at Frontier Harley Davidson in Lincoln Nebraska. As soon as I sat on it I knew it was a good fit, kind of surprised me, lol! It was already outfitted with first things that I would have to buy, windshield, forward controls, sissy bar, and luggage rack. It was by far the best bang for my buck out of the choices I had available and it had that "feel". I had about a 120 mile ride home from the dealer, it's definitely a change from what I'm used to, but change is good! It was a great ride, but I've learned that the first thing I'm going to change is the seat. The stock seat is awful, 30 minutes into the ride my tailbone was killing me. I still couldn't quit smiling though, lol! Since I do plan on putting alot of miles on her a seat is a must. Here's a pic as we left the dealer-

I've got to give Frontier HD a plug, these guys wanted my business and were willing to work for it. I've been to every dealer within 150 miles of my home, HD and metric, and none of them acted like they wanted to sell a bike at all and if they did talk to me at all, once they found out I wasn't using their credit company and had a limited budget they had no further interest in my business. Frontier was just the opposite, they treated me like I was buying a $30,000 CVO harley regardless of my budget, they knew their product and they knew the metric side as well. They were able to answer any questions I had and went out of their way to earn my business.

Time to put some miles on her! I got up today and it was sunny and 30 degrees, time to ride! I've got some decent cold weather gear so I geared up and hit the road, the high was a balmy 45 degrees, but I still managed about 100 miles. I've got to say, I'm really enjoying my Sportster!

Who knows what's in store for my sporty, this is all new to me, so for now I'm just going to enjoy the ride!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, a day late, lol! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For the 1st time in 20 years my wife and I celebrated Thanksgiving without traveling and without our sons. While it was different, it was kind of sad as well, not having our sons around on a holiday is going to take some getting used to. There are so many things to be thankful for, I have a wonderful family, friends, regardless how I feel about my job at least I have one, there are so many things, too many to list. One thing that gets forgotten is our troops, don't forget these brave men and women, without their sacrifices we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms we have. My youngest son is learning that first hand. He's a sailor and while folks were enjoying Thanksgiving yesterday he was on watch. While it did kind of get him down, he's proud to be a sailor and even prouder to be Seabee. We're very proud of you too Jayson!!!

Black Friday. I'm not one to go shopping today, I just don't like shopping and the crowds get to be too much on a day like today. However, I'm going to break my tradition of not shopping today, since I've settled with the ins. company over the wreck, I'm going bike shopping, lol! I've got a couple bikes on my short list, but one of them is total surprise, one I never thought I'd be looking at. A Harley Davidson. Now, I've never had anything against HD's, they were always out of my price range, except for the 883, and after riding a friends 883 I knew it wasn't for me. After alot of searching I came across an'08 Sportster 1200 Custom, black(my favorite color), 1100 miles, and remaining factory warranty for $6500. It seems like a screaming deal to me. Here's where the problem is, I've never owned one and have no experience with HD's. So suffice to say I have alot of questions. I guess my biggest question would be, how does it handle 2-up riding, lots of it? My wife rides with me alot, almost 15,000 miles a year. How will the Sporty handle that? Being air cooled how will it handle those 110 degree days? If anyone reading this owns or has experience with the 1200 Sporty's drop me a message and enlighten me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What a f'ed up day. After spending way too much time on the phone with ins. agents here's what I'm looking at, the bike is totaled. Official estimate= $7758. State Farms value of the bike= $7500. By Kansas law if the damages exceeded 75% of the value of the vehicle or if there's a safety issue the vehicle is totaled. Well, we exceeded the 75% . There's a couple other things that the ins. co. must pay me for, taxes and registration, bringing the grand total that they'll give me $7993.

Option 1- Buy it back and fix it myself. Buying it back will cost me $2000, leaving me with $5993 to fix it up. There are 2 things that bother me about that option, there's a very good chance the frame is tweaked, there is spot on the frame on the left down tube that took some of the impact and bent the left front engine mount. There's also a chance that the input shaft from the shifter is bent, the left foot peg mount and shift lever are bent to hell. If there's any internal damage to the tranny then that'll eat up a chunk of the 5993. Other considerations are that once totaled it must be re-registered with a salvaged title and in order to do that it must be inspected by the Kansas Highway Patrol. While this may or may not work to my advantage, I'm not real comfortable with the cons or continuing payments on something I'm not sure of.

Option 2- Pay off the bank and put the remainder as a down payment on another Mean Streak. The dealer has an '08, red, 800 miles, pipes(V&H I think)hypercharger, aftermarket grips, vista-cruise, sissy bar, windshield(not sure what kind) for $7500. I haven't even seen it yet, but I ran the numbers by my banker and she said she'd do it.

Option 3- Pay off the bank, save what's left, add to it over the winter and have a good chunk of change for a Mean Streak come spring. It also saves me from having payments for a few months. I can feel fortunate in the fact that I still have my VN900 I can ride on the few nice days we'll have between now and spring.Right now those are my options, I haven't committed to anything, more options may present themselves. I also have a few more calls to make.

I'm beyond pissed right now, words can't begin to describe it. You work hard, put a lot of time, effort, money, and yourself into something and to have it taken from you in an instant and get screwed. The ins. industry is the largest unregulated scam in America(like we didn't know that already). They told me on the phone, "We just want to get you back to where you were before the accident" EXCUSE ME? WTF kind of statement is that? I told them then find me a bike exactly like mine or repair mine to what it was before your client hit me. Response=We wish we could but we can only give you fair market value, blah, blah, blah. The conversation went back and forth for 45 minutes. I stayed calm, didn't yell or cuss, but heatedly debated everything. Finally, when she couldn't answer my questions she basically said that by law they're only required to go so far and that's all the farther they're going.

Sorry for the rant, but I just had to vent. I've been down before, but never in this situation and had never had to deal with ins. like this, talk about an eye-opener.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Crashing sux!!!!

WARNING! This post contains foul language and a hatred for old blue-hairs that have no business driving. If that offends you, oh well, don't read any further.

Well, it happened. Anytime we get on our bikes we know the risks involved, we know that there are 2 kinds of bikers, those that have been down and those that will go down. The crash is inevitable. I can't say that before this incident I'd never been down. Growing up on dirt bikes and getting into sport bikes before my hiatus to raise a family, I had tasted my share of dirt, mud, gravel, and pavement. Since my re-entry to riding in the spring of '08 I have been fortunate, a couple close calls, but no crashes. Last Friday morning, November 6th, at 9:06am that all came to a screeching halt....literally.

It was a beautiful November day, it was supposed to top out at around 75 degrees with little or no wind(a rarity in Kansas)so I figured I had better take advantage of one of the few wonderful days we'd have before the cold settled in. I had a general route in mind. Head east to Kansas City and check out highway 5, from rumors I've heard it's considered one of the twistiest, most challenging roads in the state. I've been wanting to ride this road for well over a year but never had the chance. Today was my chance, my wife just wanted to sleep in and relax, so I got up and headed out at 8am ready for a good 400 mile day.

About an hour east into my ride I was rolling though Seneca, Ks, doing the speed limit(35mph) minding my own business when a westbound Buick decided to turn right in front of me, no signal, nothing, just turned into my lane! It happened so fast there was no time for anything evasive, I grabbed a handful of brakes, thought "fuck, this is going to hurt" and then impact all within the span of about a second. I remember going over the handle bars, twisting a bit, and hitting the windshield squarely with the back of both shoulders and the back of my head. After that things got blurry for a couple seconds, I don't remember hitting the pavement, my last clear memory was hitting the windshield, then I was on my feet heading towards the car from about 20 or 30 feet away, I was pissed and I was ready kick somebody's ass. Then I saw the driver of the car getting out, an old blue haired bat of at least 80 years. Not wanting to go to jail for assaulting a senior citizen, I stopped in my tracks and the verbal assault ensued, I made sure to keep a good distance between us so there was no way she could say I physically threatened her. Me(screaming)- "You stupid fucking bitch! What the fuck is wrong with you!!
Her(stuttering)-"I didn't see you"
Me(still screaming)-"That's bullshit! You didn't look! Stupid fucking cunt! You shouldn't be driving!"
At this point, even though there was at least 20 feet between us and I was making no move to get closer to her, she took off running. I guess she thought I was going to kill her and she ran and hid in a bank near the scene until the police arrived. There was a couple sitting on their front porch having coffee and saw the whole thing, along with several other motorists that saw the accident all came over to make sure I was ok. They also waited for the police to get there so they could make a statement that I did nothing wrong and she was completely at fault. One of the witnesses was an EMT so she did a quick check to make sure I wasn't more seriously injured than I appeared. The willingness of the locals to stop and help a total stranger, a biker none the less, was awesome and very appreciated. The police responded very quickly and were at the scene in what seemed like just a few minutes. After taking pictures, statements, doing his report, and getting her insurance info, the cop came over and gave me his name, badge number, and phone number, and said, "if her insurance company gives you any shit, just have them call me, you did nothing wrong and she is completely at fault".

At this point a gentleman of probably 55 or so came up to me and asked where I was from and how I was getting home. I told him about an hour west of here and I have no idea how I'm getting home yet. He said, "I'll take you and your bike home, I used to ride, my dad still rides, and I have a motorcycle trailer, I'll go get it and be right back." I thanked him and he said, "It's the least I can do, that was my mother-in-law that hit you." Talk about irony!!

I'm relatively ok, stiff, sore, bruised up, but no bleeding and nothing broken. I am so thankful my wife decided to stay home! The cop that was on the scene looked at my bike, looked at her car, then looked at me and said, "That your bike?" I reply,"yup". As he's shaking his he says, "you've got to be one of the toughest SOB's I've met, you shouldn't be walking." I say, "not tough, today I'm one of luckiest SOB's alive." My guardian angel was definitely riding with me that day.

My Mean Streak got beat up pretty bad, although I don't think it's totaled. I've looked it over several times and I can't find any obvious frame, fork, or triple tree damage. All the tins are fubared, so new paint is definitely coming. So far the damage list includes, tins, mirrors, left side foot peg, left side motor mount, left side rear cylinder spark plug, and headlight are all I've found so far. I called her insurance company and they told me to take it the shop of my choice, so this week it goes back to the dealer I bought it from as they have a good mechanic and they had the custom paint done before I bought the bike. For now I feel very fortunate to have walked away from that, thankful that my wife was not with me, and thankful that I have another bike to ride while my Mean Streak gets a make-over.

While I'm at it I may as well put up some pics of my Nov. 1st ride. It was a beautiful Sunday morning so I was to meet up with another member of the Southern Cruisers for a nice 350 mile day trip. To make it to our meeting point on time I had to leave the house at 6:45am which led to this pic of sunrise on a back road in Kansas-

My trusty steed for this ride was my '07 Vulcan 900 Classic-

Our lunch stop was in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. They have and awesome little cafe that has the best chicken fried steak I've ever had. The main drag in Cottonwood Falls-
Ride safe!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

15 days!!!!

15 days smoke free!! We are going to beat this! Is it getting easier? Not really, I think if anything it's gotten a little harder. The cravings seem to be a little stronger, but nothing that can't be dealt with. The things I've noticed though are I no longer cough and hack when I get up in the mornings. That one happened amazingly fast, within a week the smokers cough was gone, I don't miss it one bit! The other thing is smell, my sense of smell is improving dramatically, everything smells stronger and it's easier to identify different odors. My sense of taste however, is slower to improve. I have noticed two things though, coffee tastes much better now, I loved coffee before, but it's even better now and Mountain Dew now tastes awful, I don't even touch it now, lol!

On to obligatory motorcycle content! With the colder months setting in I decided to get a windshield mounted on my Vulcan 900. Now I'm not a fan of windshields, for me personally part of my love of the ride is the wind and being in and a part of it. With being said, if adding a shield can extend my road time for the year, I'll gladly use one. Several months ago I was given a shield by a friend, he bought it for his Vulcan 1600 but it wasn't what he wanted so I ended up with it. No mounting hardware, just a shield. We have no idea what it came off of, but we know know it's from a Vulcan by the emblem.

With a little research it appears this shield came from an '05 or earlier Vulcan as Kawi changed the logo in '06. Since it came with no mounting hardware the challenge was to figure that out. The bottom mounts were close to the stock light bar mounts, but that put it too low and the bottom of the shield was hitting the blinkers.

As you can see in the pic above, the stock shield brackets were too wide as well. I didn't want to use spacers so I took it to work, removed the brackets from the shield and fired up our press brake. I tightened up the bend a bit, drilled some new holes just above the factory ones and the bottom mount is done.

Now the top mount doesn't line up with anything, except maybe the handle bars, hmmmm...maybe I can make this work.
After a quick trip to the hardware store for a couple 1" clamps with rubber isolators, a piece of 1/4" all-thread, and some nuts and washers, the top mount was done.

The finished product-

I did this at the shop I work at and had about a 15 mile ride home, it was 40 degrees, a 20mph wind, and raining, a good test. It's very solid and works well although there is some buffeting at the top of my head, but not too bad. It kept the rain completely off my upper body, except for some on my helmet. The wind pressure on my upper body was completely gone, now that was different, in cold weather that will be very welcome, but the shield will come off this spring as I would just as soon feel the wind.
Some may call my mounting set-up redneck, I prefer creative, lol! I searched for some mounts, but at $100 for a mount set up I'd rather save some cash and build my own. I've got a grand total a $5 in this windshield and mount set-up, it works well and doesn't look too bad. I can live with that. It looks like my Vulcan 900 has become my winter solo ride as my wife hates cold and refuses to ride in it.
Ride safe!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day 3

So far, so good. Today will be my 3rd day as a non-smoker. So far I can say it's not as hard as I thought it would be, of course there are moments, like when I'm having my coffee in the morning or right after a good meal, but so far the cravings have been dismissed with relative ease. The only "crutch" I'm using is Tic-Tacs and Werther's hard candy. I'm trying to stay away from junk food and snacks, I refuse to trade smoking for weight gain. Just to make it easier to see what happens, I weighed myself on my last day as a smoker. I tipped the scales at 199 lbs, less than what I thought I weighed, but more than what I want to weigh considering I'm only 5'8".

I really feel good about beating this addiction, I know I can do it, it's not nearly as hard as I thought it'd be. However I may think differently when I have to deal with a bunch of idiots at work tomorrow, lol!

My wife is hanging in there too, although it's not as easy for her. She's had a couple really tough moments and is very edgy, but she's tough and is hanging in there. It looks as though the weather may cooperate today so we'll have to go ride.

Ride safe!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A new beginning....

Today is the day, the 1st day in a new chapter in my a non-smoker. Smoking became a daily addiction for me at the age of 14, 29 years ago. Why quit now? I'm tired of it, I'm feeling the health impact, I have no endurance, I run out of breath quick, the cough is starting, I'm tired of being broke. Don't let anyone kid you, smoking is an expensive damn habit, it always has been, especially since the liars club decided to try and tax it out of existence. My wife smokes too, so double the numbers. Several years ago she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and has done very well in her dedication to her medication as well as quitting things that are part of the cause. She's managed to cut down on her smoking considerably and is going to quit with me! The real numbers, just over $4300 a year spent on smokes, between my wife and I. Now that's one hell of a yearly bike trip!!

So far so good, I'm about 2.5 hrs into my 1st day as a non-smoker. Do I want a smoke? You'd better believe it! Will I have a smoke? Hell no! I'm tired of it and I'm ready for a new chapter in life. Usually by this time in my day I've already smoked half of a pack. This will be an hour by hour, day by day fight that I intend to win!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Winter is coming.......

As much as I hate to say it, winter is definitely on it's way. With highs in the 40's and lows in the 30's it's most assuredly an indicator that colder times are ahead. Time to winterize the bikes? Absolutely not!! I've managed to pick up some decent cold riding gear and will ride any chance I get over the coming winter, about the only thing that stops me is snow and ice covered roads. Fortunately, here in Kansas we've had some mild winters in the past and I'm hoping for another one.

So what does one do with the extra down time in the winter? You plan a trip, that's what! In September of '08 we were fortunate to be able to take a 5 day trip on bikes to Arkansas and enjoy the roads and scenery that the Ozarks has to offer. It was an absolutely incredible feeling for those 5 days to be able to do nothing but ride and explore. Each day we looked forward to getting up early and hitting the road and just riding, no real schedule, no real destination, just riding. '09 wasn't as cooperative, between family, work, and the economy a trip just wasn't in the cards this year. However next year one thing will change it up a bit, we'll officially be "empty nesters". Our youngest son was 1st, he joined the Navy and is now well into his adventure, our oldest son will be finishing college next May and then onto his life. My wife and I decided that we would treat ourselves to a bike trip.

The next question was, "Where to?" and "How long?" Now, my wife is Korean, there are many things in America that she hasn't seen, even though she's been here with me for the past 19 years. Between both of us working and raising a family there was never the time or the money for extravagant family vacations. A weekend here, a weekend there, was about the extent of it, our '08 trip to Arkansas was the closest thing to a family vacation we've had since a family reunion in the Black Hills in '97. My wife has always wanted to go to the mountains, I mean real mountains, so our trip heads for Colorado first! It's a good days ride to Ft. Collins so that where we head 1st, hopefully in July of '10. From there we'll meander south by southwest traveling whatever roads we feel like while riding to such places as Mt. Evans, Pikes Peak, and Royal Gorge. The rough plan is to spend a week in Colorado and as long as we're heading southwest we may as well make the ride to the Grand Canyon. From there we'll make our way east through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and back home to Kansas. We'll have 18 days to complete our journey and it'll cover around 3000 miles. Since saving money is always a concern we've decided to mix staying in motels and camping. We are so excited for this trip!

Now onto the more difficult question. How to fund this trip? Even with saving some back from our weekly(or should I say weakly, lol!) checks it won't be enough to cover the trip. I'm also putting in as much overtime as my boss will allow(not alot in this economy), and taking on cash and weekend projects. Either way we're determined to make this trip a reality!

How determined one might ask. Determined enough that I am considering giving up one of the most enjoyable bad habits I have left, smoking. To some, it may sound idiotic that I would call it enjoyable, but the truth is, I do enjoy it. I like the smell, the taste, how satisfying it seems after a good meal. I know it can kill me, I know and feel what it's doing to me right now. I'm in decent shape, my line of work is physically demanding every day, I've been doing it for 20 years. Facts are facts though, I have very little endurance anymore and I run out of gas quickly. The "cough" has started. A couple years ago I tried the medication method of quitting, Chantix and then Zyban. With Chantix the side affects were hell, I constantly felt bloated and had extreme heartburn 24/7. Zyban on the other hand did absolutely nothing, zero, zip, nada. The only way I'm going to quit is cold turkey, make up my mind and just do it. The money side is also a motivator to quit. Smoking costs me just over $2000 a year, now that's a chunk-o-change!

Anyhow, enough rambling for now.

Ride safe!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall is coming

Fall is definitely on it's way, with a departure time yesterday of 9:30am it was an invigorating 50 degrees and sunny. An absolutely beautiful morning, but still a reminder that colder months are coming. I really can't complain, we've had wonderful riding weather this year and if last winter is any indication of this year I should be able to get a couple rides in every month throughout winter. I've got some decent cold weather gear so I never winterize my bike, it's always at ready in my garage for that unexpected nice ride.

What made yesterday's ride even more special for me was that my oldest son, James, was riding with me! Between college and his girlfriend there's not much time left for riding. Also being your typical broke college student a bike is out of the question at this point in his life, so I try to keep my Vulcan 900 ready so he can scratch the proverbial itch.

3 friends and co-workers also had itches to scratch so the 5 of us met up and hit the road. There's not many pics from the ride, we just wanted to ride so there weren't very many stops. Kansas makes for some great, straight, flat roads, while the scenery can be unique in itself, it does get quite boring after awhile. Although, if one gets adventurous and gets away from the beaten path, twisties can be found, lol! Highway 99 between Wamego and highway 177 is one of those roads. While it may not be the Dragon or Arkansas, for Kansas this is a great ride of twisty roads through rolling hills and farms with little or no traffic. All totaled we got about 250 miles in yesterday and a stop at our local HD/Kawi dealer for some mandatory drooling, lol!
Here's the group at one of our stops overlooking Lake Wabunsee. Doug and his Honda Shadow Sabre 1100, my Meanstreak, Don's 1200 Sporty, James and the Vulcan 900, and Nate's Vulcan 900.
About the only things missing to make this a perfect ride was my wife, who opted out of this ride, and my youngest son Jayson who is currently at Sheppard AFB for his Navy A-school. Still a great ride though!
Keep the shiny side up!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Those that know me, know that I rarely drink. I may have an occasional beer in certain situations but that rarely totals more than a 6 pack in a year. Twenty-some years ago it was different, I drank heavy and often, and always suffered a violent hangover the next day. One day I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired so I just stopped. Fast forward to last Thursday night. A good friend and co-worked stopped by with a bottle of Tequila, one of my son's friends stopped by with beer and since none of us had to work Friday we proceeded to get completely smashed. Since all of us ride that was the topic of the evening, from watching YouTube videos of bikes we'll never be able to afford to planning road trips we'll never be able to do, we spent the evening at my house consuming entirely too much Tequila and beer. By midnight I was done, knowing that one more shot would have me worshipping at the porcelain altar, I was off to my spinning bed. The next day, yup, still get nasty hangovers. I was wishing that the guy in my head with the jackhammer would just stop, lol! By 4:30pm I was starting to feel human again. It's been over 10 years since I've drank that much and it'll probably be another 10 before I do it again. Friday was completely wasted in recovery mode, but today, I ride!

Keep the shiny side up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SCRC State Meet

We had a great evening ride to Wichita last Friday. It's about a 3hr ride for us so we left late in the afternoon and met up with some members of our chapter for the ride down. Once of the things I like the most about riding in Kansas is the lack of traffic, it made for a great cruise on the open highway. Our chapter is small and going through some reorganization so there was only 5 of us that could make it. Pictured is Frosty's '82 Honda CBX, my Kawasaki Meanstreak , Mouse's '07 Gold Wing, Sarge's '07 Yamaha Venture, and Azul's '8? Yamaha Venture, topping off at a truck stop in Junction City getting ready for the ride to Wichita.

Everyone hanging out hoping for their number to be called for a raffle item, lol!

It was a very good turn out for the 1st state meet with 60 or so bikes in attendance.

The meet was a great success and the Air Capitol Chapter of SCRC did a great job of hosting it, these guys put alot of work into it, my hat's off to them! Saturday afternoon there was a group run, it was very cool having that many bikes together. One of the best parts was when the group left the park for the ride, the hosting chapter had coordinated with the city police and we had an escorted ride, complete with traffic blocks, to the main highway. It was a short run, about 50 miles, but still fun on the backroads of Kansas. At the end of the day when all the raffle money and donations were counted almost $800 was donated to St. Judes Childrens Hospital, way to go SCRC!!

Some notes-
The streets in Wichita suck! They're rough and not well maintained. We stayed at EconoLodge, the prices aren't bad, $30-something a night, the rooms were pretty decent, cable, fridge, microwave, good sized bathroom, but I think the cleaning crew forgot how to vacuum, the carpet was nasty, but it was livable for a couple nights.

No run is complete without thanks. I've got to thank my brothers and sisters in our chapter, Rolling Hills 314, spending time and getting to know you guys was priceless, I am indeed fortunate to call you friends. Mouse, your generosity is inspiring, thank you. Chu and the rest of Air Capitol Chapter 277, thank you for all your hard work for putting this together, it was a blast!!

Ride safe!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ready for the weekend!

Why is it that when I know I can sleep in, I can't? We work 4, 10 hour days at the shop, 7am till 5:30pm Monday through Thursday, and with the current economy there's no overtime allowed(unless you're one of the owners "special" people, which I'm not, lol!). Work this week was especially chaoitic and busy, lots of orders, but that's a good thing, job security. My normal day starts with coffee about 5am, then off to the shop by 6 to get everything opened up and ready for the day. With the additional orders this week and being short on help, I grabbed my welding gear and jumped in the production process to help meet deadlines. By the end of the day yesterday(our last day of the work week)I was pretty beat up and ready for the weekend. I did a couple things around the house and by 8:30 I was in bed looking forward to sleeping in for a change, not! At 5 this morning I just woke up, no alarm clock, no reason, my internal clock just told me it was time to get up, so much for sleeping in, lol!

Maybe it was the anticipation of this weekend. I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while. Tomorrow is our state picnic for the Kansas chapters of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club. I really enjoy being a part of SCRC, family oriented, fund raisers for a very worthy cause(St. Judes Childrens Hospital)no bar-hopping runs(I'm not a big drinker at all)they don't care what you ride, and I've met some of nicest folks. After a lot of searching, I found a local chapter of SCRC and after a couple runs with them, I joined, it's a great fit. Our chapter decided to meet up this afternoon and head to the state meet a day early, and make a weekend out of it. We're all very excited about this, it's the first time our chapter has done a multiple day ride, we can't wait!! This is also the 1st time in over a decade that it's just my wife and I going, no kids! We've never been big on babysitters, I think we've used them twice when our boys were very young, but beyond that we never used them, we'd rather spend the time together. It's going to be a great weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Bee and the Biker

Woke up to a nice day so after some coffee and messing around the house for a bit I decided to take advantage of a wonderful day. My wife didn't want to ride ride today so I changed things up a bit, I rode my '07 Vulcan 900 Classic. Normally my oldest son rides it but since he was busy with other things I decided to take it out. It is a blast to ride! The 900cc mill pulls it along just fine on the highways and byways not to mention it gets about 50 mpg. I didn't plan on alot of miles today, just kicked back cruising the countryside enjoying the day, still managed around 170 miles.

The Bee

As I was cruising along a county highway I felt a bug impact on my chest, nothing major, in Kansas you get used to it and just keep right on rolling. A few miles later I feel something that's like a pin-prick on my side, then on my stomach, then on my side, it was a damn bee! By this point my left hand and the bee are playing cat and mouse under my vest while the rest of me is trying to find a safe spot to pull over on this narrow 2-lane road. By the time I finally caught up with the bee, I had probably been stung a half dozen times or so. I promptly squished the little bugger and got pulled over so I could clean it's entrails out of my shirt. Thank God I'm not allergic to bee stings!!

The Biker

I stopped in one of the towns later on my ride to get some coffee and stretch a bit. As I pull into the gas station I see a Harley sitting at the pumps, looked like a very nice Deuce. I pulled off the the side of the store and on my way in I ran into the owner. He was dressed much like me, blue jeans, chaps, t-shirt and vest, we exchanged hello's going through the door. In passing I noticed that he was wearing "MC" colors. This is where it got entertaining, as I'm going to the 2nd set of doors which have a mirrored tint to them, I see him turn around to see if I'm wearing colors(I don't, just a large POW/MIA patch)I got a chuckle out of that. I get my coffee and after I paid for it I'm heading towards the door and I see him take off on his bike, circle around mine giving it the once over, then goes and parks on the opposite side of the parking lot, making it very obvious he wants no part of a conversation. Each to their own, but I found it entertaining, lol!

A shot of the bridge over the Big Blue River with Blue Rapids, Ks in the background.

One of the few curves in our area, alot of fun!

Centralia Lake, our family used to camp and fish there about 12 years ago, very nice relaxing place, might have to go camping again!

Veterans Memorial Wall in Seneca, Ks.

I don't usually take gravel roads, but for whatever reason I decided to today and got these pics.

Marysville, Ks. The black squirrel city, cute little buggers!

The Washington County Veterans Memorial, the company I work for built this out of steel, had it galvanized and donated it to the county.
Keep the shiny side up!

Friday, September 11, 2009


After what seemed like months(actually a couple weeks)I finally had the chance for a relaxed, wandering ride. I left the house about 1pm with no real destination in mind and the only stipulation was that I had to be at a Southern Cruisers meeting at 7pm. Awesome! 6hrs to just cruise! After about an hour or so ride I stopped by the local Kawasaki/HD dealer just for kicks. They had some beautiful HD's there(as usual), but the one that really caught my eye was the new Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager, it was absolutely stunning! I've seen pics, but hadn't seen one in person till today, it's now on my short list for touring bikes.

On to the ride! After my stop at the dealer, I headed out onto Kansas backroads, it was a beautiful, partly sunny day right at 80 degrees, can't ask for much better than that! While the flinthills of Kansas may not have the twisties or jaw-dropping beauty of the mountains, it has a rural beauty all its own.

A high point of the SCRC meeting was seeing our 1st Officer up and about. He recently suffered a heart attack and had 3 stints put in and is now back on his Wing! After the meeting it was dark and I had about 70 miles to go to get home. I don't mind riding at night, but it also takes extra vigilance watching for forest rats. Once away from the lights of the city, I started noticing other lights to the north, the direction I was heading, it was lightning. Oh well, nothing to do but keep riding and hope for the best! About 15 miles from home the wind switched and started gusting from the north, the temp dropped and I could smell rain. As luck would have it I missed the rain and made it home. A great day of riding and was able to get about 230 miles in.

Keep the shiny side up!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


As I sit here in the motel having my 1st cup of coffee of the day before our road trip home I can't help but think how blessed I am. While I may not be rich in a monetary sense, in a family sense I am one of the richest men in the world. I have a wonderful wife that has stuck by me through everything over the past 22 years, my oldest son(20) is always willing to put his life on hold to spend time with us and always put our family 1st even when that means he's going to be way behind when he gets back to college tomorrow, my youngest son has always put family 1st and now has chosen to serve his country. I'm very proud of my family and I have also been very blessed to have such a family.

Ride safe!

Monday, September 7, 2009


For the past week my wife, my oldest son, and myself have had the opportunity to share in the welcome of 986 brave young men and women into the US Navy, my youngest son was among them. As he reached one of the most important milestones in his life, graduating Navy boot camp, I experienced one of the proudest moments of mine. There are few things more honorable than serving ones country. I would like to thank all of our vets, past and present, for all that you do! Here's my son-

He's now on his way to Texas for A-school and we're packing up and getting ready to head home in the morning. As amazing as it was to spend the past 5 days with my son, after living in a Motel 6 since last Wednesday night, it will be great to get home! Too bad we have an 11.5 hr drive ahead of us, lol! Fortunately for me my oldest son has done all the driving on this trip, to include an excursion into downtown Chicago! He's done an outstanding job of getting us around in the sometimes insane traffic, he's an excellent, safe driver.

The Chicago area was a cool place to visit, but I doubt I'll return anytime soon. Between the traffic and the general over-crowding, this place is not for me. However, I did get to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe! Anyway, here's some pics of our trip-

My family at Bass Pro Shops-

My son dreaming of his next bike-

Hopefully one of my future blogs includes a trip to Texas to visit my son! Right now I'll be happy to get home and get some riding in!

Keep the shiny side up!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Maybe Monday's aren't so bad

Yup, this morning sucked, waking up to find out my good friend and club 1st Officer had a heart attack over the weekend. At least he's resting comfortably at home, he goes in in a week to get a stint put in and then another 2 weeks following. Thank God he wasn't riding his Wing when it happened! Hang in there Bro!!

But now for my big news of the day! I(actually, we, my wife and I)waited patiently close to the phone all weekend, waiting for the call. It never came, arrrrgh! A beautiful weekend of riding missed. Oh well, that's how things go. I forgot about the call today, work gets a little hectic at times. I was in the office on the phone dealing with tech questions from dealers, finished one of my calls and one of our ladies that works up front said I had another call. I'm thinking, great, another idiot that can't figure out how to wire the lights on a truck bed, but I was wrong, it was the call!! You see, my youngest son joined the Navy, 8 weeks ago he left for boot camp, we got one call from him and other than occasional letters we haven't heard much. I knew that last week was their finals, known as Battle Stations. The culmination of successfully completing Battle Stations is a ceremony where they are issued their uniform ball cap that says "Navy" on it. Until that point the hat said "Recruit", they were referred to as that for the entire time. That ceremony was the recognition of 8 weeks of hard work and learning to be a sailor. He called me at work, they had the ceremony today and he is officially a Sailor in the U.S. Navy!!! I am so proud of him! Words can't begin to express how proud I am. My son chose to do what I feel is one of the most honorable things that anyone can do, serve his country. I served(8 years, Army) my grandfather served(WWII, Army, POW) and many of my other relatives have served as well. I'm very proud that he chose to continue the tradition, it was never forced upon him nor suggested to him, he chose his path himself and we supported it, not an easy thing considering how things are currently. He graduates this Thursday and we're going! Wednesday morning we're off to Chicago(Great Lakes Training Center) to watch him graduate and spend some time with him before he ships to his A-school. Congrats Jayson!! We love you and are very proud of you!!

Mondays aren't so bad after all!

Monday's Suck!

I've never mentioned it here before, but Monday's suck. Almost always, without fail, Monday's suck. Today is no different. As I sit here having my coffee, I'm also checking various forums for news, the 1st one I check is the forum for the riding club I'm a member of, Southern Cruisers Riding Club, Chapter 314, Rolling Hills. Turns out that over the weekend our new 1st Officer had a heart attack! Don't know alot yet, but he's doing as well as can be expected, resting at home and has to go back in for surgery. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Trying something new

Well now, this is something different for me, a blog, lol! What can you expect here? Everything, anything, or nothing, all of the above. Mostly motorcycles, I love riding, it's the closest one can get to soaring with eagles. Very few things in this world can equal the feeling of the open road, the wind, the elements, and everything else that goes with riding. I guess you could call it my therapy as well, nothing clears away stress and gives relief from daily issues like a ride.

Why Blue Collar Rides? Because that's what it is for me. You won't find any globe trotting expeditions here(although I would love to have that opportunity), I probably won't be able to afford that in this lifetime, lol! What you will find will be more of my personal log of my rides and my life, you see, I'm about as blue collar as it gets. I've worked in manufacturing(welding)for about 18 years, started at the bottom as a production welder when I got out of the Army in '92 and have worked my way up to being the shop foreman/safety officer/robotics tech for the company I work for now. Sounds fancy, lol! Alot fancier than it really is, everything is self taught, no degrees(one of my few regrets), the pay isn't great, but we manage. My wife also works for the same company in quality control. Working for the same company has it's advantages, we ride to work together so we save alot on gas. Along with good comes the not so good, I'm her supervisor as well, sometimes that can lead to some interesting moments. Fortunately she is very professional and a perfectionist, so that makes my job easier.

I got my first bike in 1975, a Yamaha GT80 enduro, being 9 years old I was in heaven! I grew up on a farm in Iowa so I had all kinds of open space to ride and fantasize that I was the next motocross champion, lol! For the next 5 years I beat the crap out that bike and it never let me down. By 1980 it had become way too small for me and it was time to move up. Convincing Mom was the hard part, she never has liked bikes that much, Dad on the other hand was much easier, he saw value in it as a tool. He raised cattle and a bike was very handy moving cattle from one pasture to the next(sometimes several miles)and it made the daily task of checking the cattle much easier. Since he would be using it too he agreed to pay half and I would have to pay the other half off by working for $1 an hour on the farm. Worked for me! Later that summer I had a Kawasaki KD125. I rode it hard for the next 2 years until I managed to blow it up. This time Mom won, no more least while I lived at home. 2 years later right after my 18th birthday I joined the Army, very eager to get away from the farm and from Iowa. My 1st duty assignment was Ft. Bliss Tx. As soon as I got there, Jan 1st '85, I realized that I could ride year round there and went to a local Kawi dealer and picked up a new-leftover '83 LTD 550. My 1st street bike! I rode that thing everywhere for the next 2.5 years until the Army decided I needed to be in Korea. I sold it not knowing what the future had in store and set out on my next adventure. After arriving in Korea I spent alot of time exploring that beautiful country and eventually met my wife there. While we were dating we were walking around the town close to the base I was stationed on and happened upon a Suzuki dealer. I couldn't resist, we had to go in and have a look. My Korean was spotty at best then but with my wife translating and haggling we left with a decent used Suzuki 125 enduro, let the adventure begin! We traveled all over Korea on that thing. In '90 the Army decided I needed to go to Ft. Riley, Ks. Here we go again, sell the bike and pack our stuff. We got to Ft. Riley, got settled in and what's the 1st thing I do? Buy a bike of course! I picked up a used Ninja 600 from a fellow soldier. What a fun bike! I'd never ridden anything that handled like that, it was like it was glued to the road! After about a year of that I had the itch for something bigger, so I sold it and picked up a GPZ900 Ninja. OMFG!! That thing was a monster! That thing was like a rocket on rails, the handling was amazing and the power and speed were mind-blowing(well for that time anyway, lol!) That bike carried me the fastest I've ever been on 2 wheels, 155 mph, yeah, yeah, I know, not smart, but I had to see what it would do. I never found out. I hit 155, with room to go, the reality of that hit and I backed off the throttle. It was probably the most intense rush I've ever had. In '92 I was on my way to work, on the bike, in the dark. Now for those not familiar with rural Kansas, we have forest rats(deer) everywhere and one must always be vigilant, particularly around dawn and dusk. I was about 15 miles into my 30 mile commute on a country highway at the speed limit when all I saw was eyes, everywhere, at shoulder level, damn forest rats! I rode right through a herd of them crossing the highway! How I manged that I'll never know, but my guardian angel was definitely watching over me! That entire day that incident was all I could think about. My wife and I had been married for only 5 years, we had 2 young sons, 3 and 1, the thought of not being there for them haunted me. The next day I did what I felt was the right thing for me to do at that time, I sold the bike with no intention of riding for a very long time. I wanted to concentrate on my family and raising my sons and that's what I did. Do I regret it? Not one bit. Fast forward to '05. My oldest son wanted a bike in the worst way, I was pretty easy to convince, he had to buy it himself and pay his own insurance. My wife on the other hand was not as easy, she liked to ride with me, but she also saw me busted up a couple times so she didn't want to see that happen to her son. When he agreed to ATGATT, she relented and let him get his bike. He found an old beat up Yamaha 400 street bike. I went with him to pick it up and since he had never ridden before I agreed to ride it home. That was the beginning of the end of my bikeless days, lol! In '07 he upgraded to a Ninja 500, that fall when he went to college I rode it a few times and everything about riding came rushing back, I knew I would have a bike. Now to convince my wife. She finally gave in with one condition, no sport bikes. I had to think about that one a bit, I love sport bikes, the speed, the handling, everything about them. But what I wanted more than anything was spend time riding with my wife. When we used to have bikes, she loved to ride as much as I did and if she was willing now, I wanted her to enjoy it as much as I do. She wanted to be able to sit back and enjoy the ride, travel a bit, and just ride, so we started looking at cruisers. Harley's were out, not because I don't like them, I do like some of them, specifically the V-Rod, Fatbob, and Rocker, but they cost too damn much! Because I had such good luck in the past with Kawi's, we went to a local Kawi dealer and in May of '08 settled on a Vulcan 900 Classic. After adding a backrest and a gell seat it was a very comfy bike. We spent the next 3 months putting 6000 miles on it. It's a great bike, but as usual for me I wanted something a bit bigger(yeah, I'm a bit of a gear head,lol!)My oldest son wanted a bigger bike and my youngest son wanted to get into bikes so we did some re-arranging. My oldest was riding a '82 Honda V45 Sabre at the time so he sold that to his brother, I let my oldest take over payments on my 900, and I went and got the bike I had been drooling over for the last year, an '07 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 MeanStreak. By the summer of '08 we were all on bikes and we put on alot of miles together, priceless memories! Things change, my youngest, being a senior in high school then, lost some interest in riding and wanted to spend more time doing what high school boys do, socialize and girlfriends, lol! After a disastrous 1st year at college, my oldest moved back home and was working for me at the factory. After almost a year of that he decided that welding was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life(thank God!!) and went back to school. Along with going back to college came the realization that bike payments were something he couldn't afford so I got my 900 back. I didn't really want another payment, but there was no way I would get what I owed on it so I have 2 bikes, lol! It makes things a bit tighter, but we'll manage. The big plus for me is that my oldest still likes to ride so we can still ride together.

The bikes-
My 1st bike after a 16 year break, an '07 Vulcan 900 Classic.
The day I brought it home-

Since then I have modified it into a solo cruiser for those occasions when my wife doesn't want to ride-

My main ride, an '07 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 MeanStreak-
The day I brought it home-

Now I'm not one to leave things stock for long, lol!

I've added-
CWI adjustable backrest
Kury ISO grips w/stiletto's
ForceWinder Intake
Wicked Bros 2-1 pipes
Dobeck TFI

Well, if you manged to hang in there and read this far, thank you! Now you have a little background about me. Who knows when I'll write next or what it'll be about. It's a wonderful day here, I think we're going to ride!

Keep the shiny side up!