Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day Ride to Dublin Texas

Day Ride to Dublin Texas

My wife’s uncle invited me to go on a ride with some of the members of his church. They were going to be leaving from North Richland Hills Baptist Church after a Leading Man Breakfast meeting this past Saturday morning. So, I was up early Saturday getting my V-Star 1100 ready for the ride. I tightened up the slightly leaking oil line fittings going to the Oil Relocation Kit filter housing and put the half quart of Amsoil left over from the recent oil change in the saddlebag. Then I added a small tool kit and organized the contents of the saddlebags a little better. Lastly I gave her a much needed bath.

I draped myself in my leather boots, chaps and jacket and headed to my wife’s uncles house. It was very overcast and there was some slight sprinkling going on here and there. I put on my riding sunglasses with the yellow lenses which brighten up dreary days making it look like a sunny day. The forecast was for 30% scattered showers and lots of wind. I had checked the news radar before leaving and all the heavy precipitation, thunder storms, was to the west of D/FW. I was not sure at that time which direction we were going to be riding in.

I stopped and filled up the fuel tank on the way to my wife’s uncle’s house. I arrived and he got his riding vest on and backed his Honda Goldwing out of the garage and we were headed to the church to meet up with the other riders stopping on the way to fuel up the Goldwing. The bikes were all lined up in a row and we were now ready to go. I found out there were a total of five of us going on this ride and we were headed to Dublin Texas.

We had an interesting collection of motorcycles going on this ride. The lead bike was a brand new Yamaha V-Max. What a beautiful piece of technology, it literally purred when started. He was followed by a Honda Goldwing, my V-Star 1100, another Honda Goldwing and riding drag was a Suzuki Volusia. I put on my Airflow gloves and we rode out of town staggered fashion and headed west. We battled the normal Saturday morning traffic as the winds picked up enough to keep you on your toes.

We made our way through Fort Worth and ended up headed East on Interstate 20 to 281, where we stopped for fuel. I was glad I still had my leathers on because it was still cool in the late morning. After refueling we headed south on 281 and from there I completely lost track of the directions, and just enjoyed the ride.

The ride down was refreshing. I’m sure we did not take the most direct route because for the most part there was not much traffic and we turned onto other roads several times. There were a lot of twists and turns which made the ride fun. The scenery was gorgeous, Texas farmland, the start of the Texas Hill Country, huge beautiful older homes with wrap around porches, antique cars, Texas Longhorn cattle, dairy farms, goat farms, old buildings and barns. The odor from the dairy farms is one memory I do not relish.

We arrived in Dublin to get stuck in a long line of traffic. It tuned out that we had arrived just after the Cowboy Culture Celebration Parade. The proof was on the ground in the road left over from the horses and added another element of dodging to the mix. We turned off a side street and parked across the street from Old Doc’s Soda Shop. The Texan sun was starting to come out a little now and it was starting to heat up so I removed my leather chaps and stored them in my saddle bag. In the field next to Old Doc’s there was a line of horsemen that, after looking at the itinerary later, must have been the Ft. Hood Mounted Calvary.

It was 11:55 AM when we went into Old Doc’s for lunch. We had traveled a little over 103 miles from North Richland Hills, according to someone’s GPS, to get to Dublin for lunch. I had a smoked turkey sandwich and a large Dr. Pepper. Of course, real Dr. Pepper made with the original recipe and Imperial Pure Cane Sugar, is what Dublin is famous for. And Old Doc’s, serves them up hand mixed, soda jerk style. Several riders had another soda bar specialty, Frosty Peppers, a Dr. Pepper float made with another Texan favorite, Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream. The food and drinks were very good and the small town nostalgia made for excellent ambience.

We did not stay around for any of the tours this trip. I will have to make a trip back for that though. Lunch over we geared up and hit the trail. I decided to ride without my gloves, which later may have proved to be a mistake. I switched to my Oakley sunglasses for the ride back because the sun was out some. Honestly, I’m not even sure we took the same route back or not.

The ride back was fairly uneventful. We stopped one time for fuel. The wind had picked up and it was pretty bad. It was a constant struggle the keep the bikes upright. You would lean into the wind and then it would suddenly die down and you had to quickly correct your lean again. Some of the gusts were extremely strong and we battled this all the way home. It made for a tiring very ride and I was exhausted when I arrived home at 3:30 PM.

After getting my leather jacket off and getting a cold glass of ice water, it slowly became apparent that this fair skinned large guy had forgotten one important item for my trip, suntan lotion. The exposed strip on my forehead, my face from below my sunglasses, my neck, earlobes, and the backs of my hands from my knuckles to a couple inches above my wrists were all turning bright red. I looked like a reversed exposure raccoon. I quickly applied sunburn lotion to all burned areas.

There were several other interesting side effects of this ride. First my rear end was very saddle sore not being used to being in the saddle for such an extended period of time. Even with a Corbin seat, I am no Iron Butt, that’s for sure. Both my hands had a slight buzzing sensation to them, like when you have held a vibrating object for too long. This and the sunburn is where those gloves may have helped. For awhile I thought I might get a blister on the inside edge of my right thumb, from gripping the handgrips so tightly, but it did not blister up. My ears were a little deaf from the wind, road noise and my Cobra exhaust. Also, despite using my cruise control on occasion, my right wrist and forearm were very soar from twisting the throttle so much, something I really enjoy doing.

We saw a lot of other motorcyclists on our 220 mile ride and I tried to wave when I saw them in time and it was safe to do so. We also encountered a lot of local police and State Trooper vehicles, most of which had travelers already pulled over. I learned a lot about riding in a group and my limitations on this trip. I also learned to plan a little better for the trip, like using SPF 99 sun block. There are also a couple pieces of equipment and accessories for the bike I would like to get that would make longer rides more enjoyable. Things like a cup holder would be nice. I forgot to pack my digital camera so the photos were taken with my Palm Treo phone. I can’t wait to get back to Dublin the try one of those Frosty Peppers at Old Doc’s Soda Shop and take a tour of the museum and the Dr. Pepper plant.

Ride on,
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thunder Roads Bike Night Texas

Thunder Roads Bike Night Texas

Thursday night April 23rd I stopped in after work to see what was going on at the Thunder Roads Bike Night Texas first bike night in the D/FW area at Big Shots Café in Bedford. It is sponsored in part by Texas Harley-Davidson, which is located right next door. They are going to have these every fourth Thursday of the month. They had some bike only parking set up outside and I got there early enough to use it. Live music was by the Justin Ross Band, and although I had never heard of him before, he sounded great. I really enjoyed his rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”.

When I arrived another guy backed in right next to me riding a Honda VTX 1300 with Vance & Hines pipes. We both walked in together and he asked if I was waiting on anyone else, which I wasn’t, so we decided to share a table. Turns out he is a Lead out at the Arlington GM plant and had just got the news about them shutting down for 9 weeks that morning. He said about two weeks ago they had them working overtime and Saturdays! He was not in a good mood to say the least.

We both ordered a Bud Light draft and he ordered a Quesadilla and I ordered the Chicken Fried Steak. The drinks arrived first, cold and refreshing. Big Shots Café was starting to fill up by this time. The food came out right before the Justin Ross Band took the stage and started tuning his guitar. We chatted about our bikes and riding and then the food arrived.

Big Shots Café being your typical sports bar style restaurant I was not expecting gourmet cuisine, so I was quite shocked at the large size of the plate and the Chicken Fried Steak that was on it. It covered almost the whole plate only leaving a small part of the mashed potatoes sticking out and a spot for the small bowl of green beans. Both our eyes got big and my new friend said he hoped I was real hungry. I replied that I was and would give it my best attempt. We chowed down and the food was excellent. The steak was great. The mashed potatoes were awesome, and I’m not a huge fan. They made them with the skins on, added onions, garlic and butter. On top of that they left them lumpy so you could still tell you were eating real potatoes. The green beans tasted great as well. The whole meal tasted like it was home made. I devoured everything except about two bites of the steak.

We finished up our meals and drank a couple more beers while listening to Justin Ross rocking the stage. The place was getting full and about 85% of the people there had a Boozefighters logo or emblem on. It was still early but it was time for me to go, I still had to get up early and go to work the next morning. On the way out I saw a few vendors had set up selling motorcycle paraphernalia. As I rode off I promised myself I would be back. Hope to see you there.

Ride on,
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ride Texas Review

Texas is a big place. In fact, there is 261,797 square miles of it. Texas is second in size only to Alaska. It is also home to a lot of Texans and is second largest in population behind only California. As of 2004 Texas has 303,176 miles of public roads. Motorcyclists make up 2.5 percent of all licensed drivers in the state of Texas. This equates to nearly 4000,000 motorcyclists on Texas roadways. So, why not have our very own Texas and Southwest specific motorcycle riding magazine? Well we do, and it is a very informative one as well.

I had seen Ride Texas displayed in the better magazine racks for sale, but had never bought one or read one, until recently. A few months ago I was reading on a great forum called Two Wheeled Texans and ran across a thread simply titled, “Ride Texas Magazine”. The title piqued my curiosity and so I clicked the link and entered the thread.

The author of this thread was Pooh Bear, a local rider from San Antonio. He posted the question, “Does anyone recommend this for subscription?” along with a link to the Ride Texas magazine website. I quoted and commented to a reply made by weekend warrior, another Texan from Lubbock, and added that I’d like to peruse an issue also.

I was surprised when humanrace, who rides out of Bryan Texas, quoted me and offered to send me a couple copies of Ride Texas. I shot off an email accepting the hospitality of the offer and a short time later two magazines arrived in the mail. On top of that, one of them was the much coveted March 2009 Top 10 Best in Texas Readers Choice Awards issue.

Ride Texas is not a new magazine; in fact they have been in publication for over ten years since founded in 1999 as TEXMOTO. Their claim to fame is being the first and only motorcycle-interest publication in Texas at that time. Since its inception they have won numerous journalism awards, including those for photography, writing, graphic design and layout. They have also been featured in a lot of other media as well.

Pick up a copy of Ride Texas magazine, or RTM for short, and the first farkle that catches your eyes are the breath taking, glossily detailed, photos. From the front cover to the ads in the back there is a lot of candy for the eye to see. You can tell that this is a quality magazine by how well it is put together. From the organization of the content to the layout of the pages, everything is tastefully done.

The front covers of RTM tactfully catch the reader’s attention giving up tantalizing hints of the wealth of information to be found between its pages. I found all the content to be relative to motorcycling in and around The Lone Star State. In fact, some of the information unearthed inside these magazines would be relative to anyone traveling in Texas whether they were on two wheels or more.

The contents of each RTM is mapped out on the first couple pages, page two and page four. From there you can jump to which ever article grabs your front tire or, you can just read them front to back. The editor, Valerie Asensio, usually starts the articles out with one of her own in the section entitled ONWARD. Valerie gives a warm invitation in the classic letter from the editor style for the readers/riders to not only enjoy the articles but to participate by riding to the destinations outlined in RTM.

Along with Onward there are several other sections that are in every edition of RTM. BEING THERE by Gene McCalmont was one of my favorites. Gene writes of his many life and motorcycle related experiences. I really like Genes writing style. He writes honestly and truthfully despite how humorous or embarrassing it may be. Gene also authors the section called AFTER THE RIDE subtitled Good life guide, where he espouses about the finer things in life to enjoy when the riding is done.

The (Almost) TRUE STORIES section is really quite funny. RTM also has the standard LETTERS section where they print subscribers letters and comments. The RTM INSIDE section has all the News and updates. On top of all the core magazine content they have the FEATURES section.

The FEATURES part of the magazine is where different writers will document there travels to different destinations in and around the great state of Texas. They document the travel rout as well as the sites to see along the way. Sometimes they will detail the planning of the ride, traveling tips, and give various contacts or resources used. At the destinations they not only describe places to see and stuff to do but also give you lodging choices. Another great feature is the list of great places to grab a bite to eat. It is also interesting to read about the different people they meet along the way like the owners or workers at the many places they stop in.

A lot of the rides are planned around the almost endless events in and around the great state of Texas. Rallies, parks, scenery, nature, concerts, festivals, fairs, sporting events, shows, rodeos, exhibits, and cook offs, are all destinations that that wind up inside the covers of RTM. Lastly, or maybe more importantly, RTM has included easy TEAR & GO maps of each trip that you can remove and take along on your own ride with you.

If you live in, travel in, or ride in Texas I definitely think it is worth it to subscribe to Ride Texas. The articles are all relevant and well written. The magazine is very well rounded and is also filled with local advertising. In the Top 10 BEST IN TEXAS Readers Choice Awards issue I was elated to see that the V-Star 1100 made it onto the Top 10 Best Bikes list at number six, I’m just slightly biased because I ride one. My only complaint is that RTM is only published bimonthly, but hey, they make it worth the wait.

Ride on,

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Have a Spring Fling

Have a spring fling, spring time maintenance that is. Get your spring time maintenance done in time for summer riding. My Mistress was rapidly coming up on her 30,000 mile birthday. I purchased her used and was not sure when the oil had last been changed. I did know she had V-Twin Mobile One 20W-50 pulsing through her veins. I also new her front and rear brakes were about gone. Lastly, I wanted to change the final gear oil.

Spring time temperatures in Texas are like a runaway roller coaster. I have probably zipped out the quilted liner of my FMC leather jacket over a half dozen times, only to have to zip it back in a few days later. This last Saturday, yesterday as I’m writing this, I had to work a half day and it was going to be warm in the afternoon so I zipped it out once again. Now they are talking about a possible freeze next week. Any way, my plan was to ride over to Bikers Bay after work and pick up the supplies I needed for the motorcycle maintenance that needed to be done. Some was overdue to be done like the brakes and some was just coming due by mileage.

Friday night I had surfed over to the V-Star 1100 Riders Knowledge Base and printed out a list of supplies. They have a nice list of compatible oil filters and I have a Jardine ORK, (Oil Relocation Kit). I also printed out the specs on the rear differential fluid. I had already called Bikers Bay a couple of weeks previously to make sure they had the brake pads in stock and they did had the EBC brand for my bike in stock.

I left work around 1:00 pm and headed to Bikers Bay. I did not wear my Street & Steel chaps that morning because it was supposed to warm up and I had no room in my saddlebags to store them because I had some old uniform pants and shirts to take back to the store I worked at previously, I had recently been promoted and transferred. It was borderline too hot out for a leather jacket but tolerable once you got moving down the road.

Bikers Bay had three bikes parked out front in their bike only parking section and I slipped into a spot next to a vintage looking sportster type bike, stashed my helmet and put on a black, blue, and silver colored Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 baseball cap to cover up my helmet hair and went inside. I grabbed four quarts of AMSOIL 20W-50, one quart of AMSOIL Severe Gear 75w-110 gear lubricant and went to the checkout counter. I’ll not get involved in the great oil debate here.

At the checkout counter I asked for an oil filter and front and rear brake pads. The salesperson asked if my V-Star was dual front brakes to which I replied yes. He brought everything over and I did not recognize the oil filter brand and it did not appear to be the correct size. I informed him I had a Jardine ORK and got my oil filter chart out. I asked what brands they stocked and one was HIFLOFILTRO. The HIFLO HF303 was on my list, so I chose it and proceeded to the painful part of checking out. I had to extend the buckles on my Custom Classics Saddlebags to the longer length to get everything inside. That completed I headed to the store I used to work at to drop off some old uniforms. It’s not a long ride, maybe five miles or so. Taking off from the last stop sign before I get to my destination I start hearing a tapping type sound from my bike. I let go of the throttle and listened intently worried that it might be an engine noise. The sound continues and slows down with the bike so I revved the V-Twin 1100 a couple of times just to make sure it’s not the motor. I sped up a bit and it seemed to increase with the speed of the bike and it was coming from the front. I then started to think that I had procrastinated to long on these brake pads.

I made it to the store and unloaded my cargo from my passenger side saddle bag and stowed my leather jacket in its place. Then I visually inspected both front rotors and both sets of pads. They looked extremely low. I let it cool off while I went and visited my old coworkers. After a short visit I timidly took off and headed on the short ride home. I rode her home like an old lady, slow and cautiously, well as slow as you can go on the freeway. Fortunately, I live just a few exits down. I made it home fine with no troubles, parked the bike in the garage to cool off and went inside to nap.

Attempted nap over, hard to do sitting up on the living room couch with a grandson toddler over, I headed to the garage. I backed the V-Star into the driveway leaving the front forks unlocked. I located the correct Allen Wrench and removed the two bolts holding the right front brake caliper in place. I removed the old pads noting that there was hardly any brake pad left. I could not have waited any longer.

Next I removed the front brake master cylinder cover and used a straw to slowly remove brake fluid to lower the level of the fluid. This would make room for the fluid that would come back up into the reservoir as I pushed the caliper pistons back inside the calipers. Note that I did not suck on the straw, I just put the straw into the fluid and used my thumb to cover the top of the straw and then removed my thumb when I put the straw into the empty beer can I was using to catch the old brake fluid. I just invented a new reason to drink beer.

Next, I put one of the old brake pads back on the caliper on top of the dual pistons and used a C-Clamp to evenly push the pistons back into the caliper, carefully using a piece of cardboard to protect the front side of the caliper. I installed the new pads into the caliper and installed the caliper back in place. The caliper bolts still had a nice thick layer of clean grease on them so they did not need any more lubrication. I repeated this procedure for the left side and noticed a shiny spot at the top of the inner pad where the metal backing plate had just started to rub against the rotor and was probably what was causing the rotational clicking type sound I had heard on my ride earlier. Lastly, I topped off the brake fluid reservoir and reinstalled the cover. After a couple pulls on the front brake lever I could feel the front pads seat and the lever now grabbed a lot further out.

Fronts completed, I went to the back and removed the two bolts holding the rear caliper in place. I had to work the rear caliper a bit to get it off the rotor and out a little where I could work on it. Removing the pads is a little bit trickier on the rear caliper because there are pins that hold the pads in place inside the caliper. First I spread the piston in by forcing a large screwdriver between the pads and applied slight prying pressure. The next step was to remove the rear plastic caliper cover by pressing down on one side and pulling up while I rocked it back and forth until it slid off.

Once the plastic cover is off the top or back of the caliper you now have access to remove the cotter pins or clip as the Repair Pro Manual calls them. These clips hold the brake pad pins, pads, and pad spring in place. Once the clips are off the pins slide out and the pads and spring come right off. The rear brake pads were worn down as bad as the fronts. I pushed both the pistons back into the caliper and reinstalled everything in reverse order. The rear brake fluid reservoir was about half down so I did not have to remove any fluid. After the new brake pads were installed it took a little finagling to get the caliper back on because of the brake pads clearance to the rotor, but it finally went. After everything was completed I reached over and depressed the rear brake pedal a couple of times and like the front felt the pads seat and the pedal grab higher up now. Now it was time to change the final gear oil. I located a 17mm socket and a drain pan. I could not get the ratchet with socket to fit in behind the Kuryakyn Chrome Phantom Rear End Cover to get to the fill bolt out and I could not locate a 17mm wrench so I had to remove the cover first. With the cover removed I then removed the fill bolt and then the drain bolt from the bottom of the final drive gear housing. I cleaned the drain bolt thoroughly and let the old gear lube drain all the way before reinstalling. Then I filled the final gear housing using a small funnel with the AMSOIL Severe Gear 75w-110 I had purchased at Bikers Bay. When full I reinstalled the fill bolt and the Kuryakyn cover.

I wanted to change the engine oil next. I removed the 17mm engine oil drain plug after re positioning my drain pan and standing the bike more upright using a brick under the kickstand. While that drained, I hand twisted the chrome Jardine Oil Relocation Kits chrome oil filter cover with oil filter inside off the remotely mounted position on the front of the bikes from down tubes. I located a small Allen Wrench that fit the three Allen head set screws that secure the oil filter inside and loosened them to remove the old engine oil filter. To my amazement, it was the exact same filter, HIFLO HF303 that I had purchased to replace it with. I cleaned out the chrome filter cover and installed the new filter inside carefully tightening the three Allen set screws evenly. Then I reinstalled the chrome housing and filter on the remote mounting fixture. I reinstalled the drain plug and filled the crankcase with three quarts of the AMSOIL 20W-50.

While I was there, I tightened the ORKs fittings because they had appeared to have been leaking slightly. I found it interesting that I was working on a metric bike and the Jardine ORK used American sized fittings which required another trip back to the tool box. After that I started the engine and let it warm up. Then I checked the oil level sight glass and then topped the engine oil level off with about another half of a quart. As soon as that was done, I got summoned in for diner.

Dinner over, I went out to put away all the tools and then take my Mistress out for a road test. She was purring like a kitten and stopped easily and with less effort on the brake lever and pedal. There was no more strange sound when moving. I think someone with medium mechanical ability can perform all these services by himself and save money on paying someone else to do it for you. Do not procrastinate when it comes to repairs or maintenance, there is too much at stake. Next weekend I hope to pamper her with a good bubble bath.

Ride on,
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