Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ride to McGehee Catfish Restaurant Part 1

It was Saturday 8-29-2009 as I backed out my garage in Bedford Texas and was on my way with a sense of adventure gleaming n my eye. I had my IPod Nano playing 615 songs randomly through my Ink’d earphones. I glanced at the Yamaha V-Stars’ trip odometer and I only had 34 miles on this tank. No need to stop for gas before leaving, I thought to myself. The ambient temperature thermometer mounted on my handlebars read 80 degrees Fahrenheit and felt nice and cool as I rode away. I was leaving on my motorcycle ride to Marietta Oklahoma and specifically to McGehee Catfish Restaurant for lunch.

On my head I was wearing a cotton dew rag under my HJC Helmet, and my Oakley sunglasses. I had on a pair of blue jeans, a full sleeve cotton shirt, (with the sleeves pushed up over my elbows), my black leather FMC vest, and my Bates boots. I decided to use the crumby FieldSheer gloves; I might as well get as much use out of them as I can, before they completely fall apart. This trip I also remembered to coat all exposed surface areas with 45 SPF sun-screen, so as not to become a sacrifice to the sun gods this trip. For the record I should have re-applied before riding home, my face and nose did get some red.

For personal protection I had my Springfield XD .40 Subcompact in a C-TAC holster inside my right waistband, my Kel-Tec P3AT .380 in my left vest inside upper pocket, and my Kershaw Leek pocket knife in my left front pocket. Too bad I didn’t have room for my Smith and Wesson Boot Knife in these Bates boots, oh well. I had my phone, a Palm Treo, in my right vest pocket and along with a pair of compact reading glasses stashed away with my P3AT it allowed me to post updates of my ride on Twitter. In a pinch I could also throw it at an attacker, or just throw it like I’ve wanted to do on occasion. I wondered; does this vest make me look fat? I probably looked like a cross between one of the characters in the movie Wild Hogs and one of the personalities from the TV show Sons of Anarchy.

I hopped on 121 Southbound, hung a right onto 183 West continued onto 820 West before turning north on I35 W. Before long I was passing Texas Motor Speedway on the left and then the University of North Texas on the right. I was in Denton. I decided to stop and get a drink and refuel Mistress. I topped off the tank with unleaded, downed a Red Bull, texted my wife and was off heading north on I35 again.

I was making good time traveling at ~~ mph. I did manage to keep it under triple digits, barely. There were a lot of other motorcyclists out going the opposite direction and I tried to wave or acknowledge them all. I was passed by someone with Oklahoma plates in a hurry to get home, so I tucked right in behind them. You will be pleased to know that I did see one Texas State Trooper en-rout to Oklahoma. Fortunately, everyone had slowed down with the tell tale brake lights warning everyone. He was parked off the right shoulder down in a ditch or culvert and there was an 18 wheeler between us anyway. Before I knew it I was on the bridge going over the Red River and passing a large Welcome to Oklahoma sign on my right. Casino anyone?

It wasn’t much longer and I had arrived at exit 32 and was in Marietta. It is about 100 miles from my house to Marietta and the ride took around an hour and a half. I pulled into the McDonalds, parked and went in to get something to drink. I sat down and enjoyed an iced coffee with caramel while I texted my wife, got to check in with the boss, and checked my phones Google Maps GPS and indeed I was exactly where I thought I was. After that it was time to take a short tour through town.

I drove through downtown Marietta and tried not to blink so as not to miss it. Then I came back around coming down a side street and saw a museum. I had time to kill so I stopped in. It turned out it was the Love County Historical Society Pioneer Museum. They had an interesting mix of antiques, historical records and photos all dealing with Marietta and Love County. The volunteer on duty went out of his way to tell me some of the history of Marietta, including some interesting stories and strange characters as well as pointed out items of historical interest. After some time of browsing, visiting, and emailing my wife photos of some of the antique quilts it was time to leave.

I had asked directions to McGehee Catfish Restaurant to make sure I was headed in the right direction and decided to take a ride out there to scout it out even though they were not open for lunch yet. So I continued heading west and turned south on US77 which parallels I35 and then east on E2150 / McGehee RD which dead ends at the restaurant. Most of the Google Maps are incorrect, unless you look for the one that says Airport: McGehee Catfish Restaurant; the restaurant is at the dead end, not in the city of Marietta itself.

The restaurant scouted out I rode back to the town and walked around several stores to kill time until they opened for lunch at 1:00pm. After drinking a Monster energy drink at the Carl Jr.’s, texting my wife again, and browsing some of the local stores, I filled Mistress up at the Valero and headed back to McGehee’s noting that it had gotten a lot warmer, hot in fact, outside. A glance at the temperature reading showed it was now in the mid 90’s.

Ride on,

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tips for Riding in Dallas, Texas

The Texas Star, North America's largest Ferris...Image via Wikipedia
Tips for Riding in Dallas, Texas

First you must learn to pronounce the city name. It is DAL-LUS, or DAA-LIS depending on if you live inside or outside LBJ Freeway.

Next, if your Mapsco is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and buy a new one. If in Denton County and your Mapsco is one-day-old, then it is already obsolete. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. (Frisco has screwed everything up.)

Dallas has its own version of traffic rules... "Hold on and pray." There is no such thing as a dangerous high-speed chase in Dallas. We all drive like that.

All directions start with, "Get on Beltline," which has no beginning and no end. (It REALLY DOESN'T!!!)

The morning rush hour is from 6 to 10. The evening rush hour is from 3 to 7. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended, cussed out and possibly shot. When you are the first one on the starting line, count to five when the light turns green before going to avoid crashing with all the drivers running the red light in cross-traffic.

Construction on Central Expressway is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment. We had sooo much fun with that; we have added George Bush Freeway and the High Five to the mix.

All unexplained sights are explained by the phrase, "Oh, we're in Fort Worth!"

If someone actually has his or her turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect. Car horns are actually "Road Rage" indicators - and remember, it's legal to be armed in Texas ...

All old ladies with blue hair in a Mercedes have the right of way. Period. And remember, it's legal to be armed in Texas ...

Inwood Road, Plano Road, NW Highway, East Grand, Garland Road, Marsh Lane, Josey Lane, 15th Street, Preston Road all mysteriously change names as you cross intersections (these are only a FEW examples). The perfect example is what is MOSTLY known as Plano Road . On the south end, it is known as Lake Highlands Drive, cross Northwest Highway and it becomes Plano Road, go about 8 miles and it is briefly Greenville Ave, Ave K, and Highway 5. It ends in Sherman ...

The North Dallas Tollway is our daily version of NASCAR. The minimum acceptable speed on the Dallas North Toll Road is 85 mph, anything less is considered downright sissy. It also ends in Sherman.

If asking directions in Irving or SE Dallas, you must have knowledge of Spanish. If in central Richardson or on Harry Hines, Mandarin Chinese will be your best bet. If you stop to ask directions on Gaston or Live Oak, you better be armed... and remember, it's legal to be armed in Texas

The wrought iron on windows near Oak Cliff and Fair Park is not ornamental!!

A trip across town east to west will take a minimum of four hours, although many north/south freeways have un-posted minimum speeds of 75.

It is possible to be driving WEST in the NORTH-bound lane of EAST NORTHWEST Highway. Don't let this confuse you.

LBJ is called "The Death Trap" for two reasons: "death" and "trap."

If it's 100 degrees, Thanksgiving must be next weekend. If it's 10 degrees and sleeting/snowing, the Fort Worth Stock Show is going on. If it has rained 6 inches in the last hour, the Byron Nelson Golf Classic is in the second round (if it's Spring) - and it is the Texas State Fair if it's Fall.
If you go to the Fair, pay the $8.00 to park INSIDE Fair Park . Parking elsewhere could cost up to $2500 for damages, towing fees, parking tickets, and possibly a gunshot wound. If some guy with a flag tries to get you to park in his yard, run over him.

Any amusement parks, stadiums, arenas, racetracks, airports, etc., are conveniently located as far away from EVERYTHING as possible so as to allow for ample parking on grassy areas.

Final Warning: Don't Mess With Texas Drivers ... remember, it's legal to Be armed in Texas

Ride on,

Note: I shamelessly stole this off an email, finding it so funny and true. Plus, the fact that I commute daily here, I just had to pass it on.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nuances of Temperature Changes While Riding

Orchestrated cloudscape (36850003)Image by Shutterhack via Flickr

Riding a motorcycle truly utilizes all your senses. I have written about the sounds, smells and the effect of the sun while riding previously. Another one of the nuances of riding that I really enjoy is touch. You have a heightened feeling of temperature change as you ride.

While riding in a vehicle you are protected from the elements and will never notice the subtle changes in temperature that you can while riding a motorcycle. When standing, walking or running the changes are generally to slow to notice. There is nothing better while riding on a hot day than to take slight dip in elevation and feel a pocket of cooler breeze against your skin. I think that is one of my favorite things that I enjoy about riding.

If you ride on a regular basis you will pick up on patterns of temperature changes while you ride. This is because hot air rises and cold air sinks. If the road you are traveling suddenly takes a drop in elevation you generally can actually feel the drop in temperature as you descend. Since cold air seeks lower elevations, naturally you will find it along creeks and rivers. Of course, the opposite of this is true as well. In Texas you can sometimes feel these temperature changes on longer bridges and overpasses.

Another factor that comes into play is the location of cover. Trees and buildings also block the wind and as the day warms up they will hold the cooler air at bay. There is a small wooded area with a creek in it by my house and usually on a hot day I will feel a nice cool section of the road while riding through the area. I don’t know why it feels so invigorating but I guess it just makes you more cognisant that you are alive.

Some temperatures are just not comfortable and you better have the correct riding gear to compensate for it. Hot weather gear for summer, cold weather gear for winter and rain gear for the rain. It is fun to race a storm to your destination before it starts to rain, or to stay out in front of a storm. Tornadoes, lightning or hail is not something you wish to tangle with on the back of a motorcycle.

Having your senses bombarded with information is just one of the things that make riding a motorcycle so exciting and enjoyable. Feeling the temperatures change as you ride is quite exhilarating and is definitely one of the reasons I prefer to ride.

Ride on,
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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Skull Candy Ink’d Earphones Review

Do You Ride with Ear Plugs or Earphones?

Being a music aficionado with extremely eclectic tastes, just a few months after getting my bike I wanted to be able to enjoy listening to music when I rode on my daily commute. I had acquired an Apple IPod Nano a short time back which I had won in a contest at work and did not use very much. I had filled up the Nano’s four Gigs with great music including Oldies, Classic Country, Classic Rock, Contemporary Country, Blues, Disco and, Jazz genres. I still have a hard time keeping just my top favorites on the Nano’s limited storage space, there are still other music and genres I would like to include.

One of the things I did not like about the IPods was those uncomfortable ear buds that came with them. They are large, bulky and extremely uncomfortable. Since I ride with a half helmet I decided to look for some comfortable earphones so I could listen to music during my work motorcycle commute. I had heard of earphones with active noise cancelling and since I have Cobra exhaust I figured that feature would be helpful. I found some at Wal-Mart and they did have active noise canceling that required a double A battery to power.

I rode with them on to work and home one time before I donated them to one of my teenaged sons. It was not that they did not work; it’s that they worked way too well. I cannot even remember what brand they were. The problem I had with them was that I could not hear anything. I couldn’t hear my exhaust nor could I hear the sound of the vehicles on the freeway coming up along side me. My motorcycle, a V-Star 1100 Classic does not come with a tachometer and without the sound reference I could hardly tell when to shift.

Part of the problem was at the time I was a fairly new rider. Not being able to hear the traffic around me really scared the beJesus out of me. It almost scared me as bad as the time on the way home late in the day on a two lane freeway. A vehicle passed me on the left lane and its shadow followed it on my right. I happened to be passing an onramp on my right at the time. I about jumped off the bike catching the shadow to the right in the onramp lane in my peripheral vision, overtaking me.

It’s been a year and a half now and I decided to try again with non noise cancelling ear buds. I guess you figured out I live close to a Wal-Mart now. I picked up a pair of Skull Candy Ink’d Earphones. Here is the description with specs from their website:

Ink adds permanence. It forces the visual representation of an idea, concept, ideal or experience, and tangibly commemorates it. Like a tattoo, graffiti, or stretch marks. Until you're really ready to commit, go with the INK'D ear buds. Big sound, little price, no visible scarring.
Speaker Diameter: 11mm
Magnet Type:
Frequency range: 20 -20K Hz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Max Input Power: 100mw
Cable Length: 1.3m
Plug Type: 3.5mm Gold Plated

Accessories: 3 Silicon Gel Sizes

They came with three gel ear bud sizes and the middle size worked perfectly for me. I had started off with the larger size but they kept the body of the speaker housing out too far. This distorted (lessened) the sound and made the wind rush around them louder. The gel part makes cleaning the Ink’d earphones easy enough. Just hold the gel ear cup upside down, slightly squeeze and shake. I cannot believe I’m writing about earwax.

Sound quality is not too bad for MP3 files playing through small earphones. I did have to turn on the IPod’s bass boost setting, found in the EQ section. This helped with the trebly tinny sound inherent in small speakers. Then I dialed in the sound level to the desired comfortable level. I have the level set to where I can enjoy the music and still barely hear the traffic and Mistresses Mighty V-Twin purr.

I am fairly sure I would not want to ride a motorcycle with all the sound blocked out by ear plugs. I feel you need to use all your senses when guiding a metallic rolling horse down the rode. Skull Candy did a real good job with these Ink’d earphones. They are small and compact, extremely comfortable, size adjustable, and sound good. On top of all of that, they come in numerous colors and are inexpensive on the pocketbook. Torch gives the Skull Candy Ink’d Earphones a M.M.M. rating of 8.

Ride on,

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Torch's List / Directory of Motorcycle / Biker Magazines

Torch's List / Directory of Motorcycle / Biker Magazines

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