Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Farkle 500 (725) is in the books!

OK, so this one is made up.

Kate and I had a rare weekend, which had nothing planned.  No rallies, no shooting, no boat, no work, nada.

Twisted Throttle was having their open house scheduled for Saturday.  Cool.  Less than 200 miles from home and good opportunity to go look at some gear.  Looking into this further, it appeared that White Horse Gear was having their open house the same day.  Some people lamented this, so TT offered some free swag to anyone who went to both Open Houses.  The Farkle 500 is born!

White Horse is 350 miles from our home.  It is also about 210 miles from Twisted Throttle.  Open house started at 8:30 at WH and ran until 4PM at TT.  So we had to get to WH in time to do some shopping, and leave ourselves time to get to TT.

WH is about a 6 hour ride.  From there to TT is about another 4.  So we decided on an arrival time at WH of 10AM, spend 30 minutes and then off to TT for a 2:30 arrival.  To do this, we planned on leaving home at 4AM.  Key word here is "planned".

We left at 4:30 and took a leisurely pace up to WH.  Typical New England drivers had us going 5 under the limit for the last 70 miles or so.  End result was us showing up at WH around 11:30.

We spent about 30 minutes shopping and met with some friends.  We then got on our bikes and headed down to Twisted Throttle.

Got to TT at 3:40, with 20 minutes to spare.  550 Miles of riding.  We won the long distance riders awards and got interviewed and earned $25 gift cards, which was cool.

Spent some money at TT and then headed home.  got home around 8, having covered 725 miles.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MD 20/20 The Battle for Lexington

Next on the Rally Menu is The MD 20/20.  This is another 24 hour rally (actually 32 hours), hosted by RM Rick Miller.  The MD 20/20 is a premier rally.  Rick is known to have fun with his riders.  This year is no exception.

The Bonii have been distributed, a week ahead of the rally, but the rally book will be distributed 1 hour before rally start.  AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Rick has been toying with the riders for the past few days, with vague answers, cryptic responses, and general innuendo.  That being said, I have designed a route.  It has one tight window, but beyond that is very doable.  There are questions, however.  What will the mileage cap be?  There is one, but no answer from RM until 1 hour before the ride.  What does "have you met your match?" (sub title of this year's rally) mean?  Will there be paired bonii that are not on my route?

Nobody knows, except the Shadow.

So with some consternation, I am ready to head out and make an effort.  We shall see what I can pull off.  I have my goals.  We shall see if I can meet them.

Before I get back, you can watch my progress here.

The rally starts at 6 AM Saturday and ends 2 PM Sunday.

Will post up Monday or so.

Wish me luck.

Update 5/28/2013

Well, I came in 8th.  My worst showing so far.  My route was solid, but I made a few bad choices and there you have it.

All the hand wringing related to mileage caps, and what does "Have you met your match?" were for naught.  There was no mileage cap, so no need to change my route.

The match thing was interesting, however.  In this rally, we were given both the questions AND the answers.  The catch was, that when you got to a location, you had to figure out which question went with that location, and obviously you had to get the answer after that.  With 48 locations, that was a lot of options.

The beginning of my route went well.  It was very cold, but about 300 miles in I was 30 minutes ahead of schedule.  Then I got to one location that sucked 45 minutes out of my time.  I could not figure out the question.  The bonus was worth big points, so I stayed there until I came up with the question and answer, but I was well behind at that point.

I then had a dueling GPS situation and ended up dropping an 800 point bonus, that I was all of 5 minutes from.  Rats.

After that, I made good time, and managed to pull off a personal goal, which was to grab all 3 daylight bonii in the counter clockwise route.  I got the last one with about 5 minutes to spare.

I then entered South East West Virginia.  This was mistake #2.  I could have ridden about an extra 50 miles, but all highway, but instead my route took me through the mountains, where I was behind a never ending string of slow cars.  What should have taken 90 minutes too over 3 hours.  I was well behind at this point.

I then headed up 81 and started grabbing bonii.  My plan called for me to rest outside of DC around 3, then get into DC around 6 and Baltimore at 7.  I was comfortable going into the cities at those hours, but no later.

Well, my plan had not worked and I had to make a decision.  That decision led to me dropping DC, getting to western Baltimore at 5:30, and Inner Harbor Baltimore at 5:50.  I had to start my documented rest bonus by 6AM, or be a DNF.

I managed to pull it off and started my rest at 5:54 AM.  Pulled over, pulled out the roll mattress, and the dump trucks started rolling at 6:05.  Right next to a construction facility.  Awesome.  SO I did paperwork and did not get any sleep.

At 8:57, I ended my rest and started the end of my ride.  It was all of 200 miles.  And it was the hardest 200 miles I have ever ridden.

The end went as planned and I got in with 30 minutes to spare.

Did my paperwork and got scored.  I made an error at one bonus which cost me, the 800 point dropped bonus cost me, and I made a faux paux error.  All told, about 1800 points.  Not good.  I ended up at 15,186 or so.  Well short of a win.

Long Haul Paul presented me with my trophy for the MS5000 ride, where I had come in second.

Dinner was great.

I went to bed at 10PM on Sunday and had been up since 4:30 AM on Saturday.  Rode about 1600 miles.

Monday, Bruce, Kate and I went to Centralia PA and witnessed how badly humans can mess up the earth.  We also stopped at a religious grotto off St Anthony's Way.

Got home and went straight to bed.

The End.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5,000 miles and $2,000 for a Cure

So Long Haul Paul Pelland challenged we, the LD riders, to go out there and ride 5,000 miles in 50 days. As an added bonus, we were challenged to help raise money for a cure for MS. Being the giving and competitive guy I am, I jumped right on it. I set a personal goal of raising $2,000 and riding 6,000 miles. I have accomplished one of those, having ridden 6,150 6200 miles so far and looking to break 7,000 in the next 5 4 days. As of right this second, I am at $1705 $1915 $2,037 (I really want to get over $2,500) raised for the Cure.

Here is a map of my riding over the past 40 days:

 That big loop going west, then south, then back to NJ was accomplished in 3 days and accounted for ~2,600 miles.

So I am asking, as a friend, acquaintance, enemy, or indifferent observer, can you help me break my $2,000 goal?

Here is where you can donate, and any amount is appreciated.

Here are the bike miles.

Consuela Miles                                                                               Captain USA Miles


 So far

 Consuella is actually at 36,635 right now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Evolution of Herbert


Kate rode Herbert 13,000 miles in 30 days this past July and set a record doing it!

Read more here

Kate, my wonderful and adventurous girlfriend, took up motorcycle riding 2 years ago.

She took the MSF BRC.

I bought her a Rebel 250, which she rode for a week.

She then jumped up to a BMW F800ST, affectionately named "Snotrag".  She put a bunch of miles on the ST and loves it.  Great bike.

Last year, I bought Captain USA.  I had sold my glider, and wanted another toy.

Bad move.  Kate decided she needed an adventure bike as well.

So after much research and hemming and hawing, she bought Herbert, a 2013 F700GS, in silver.  Herbert has a standard height suspension, but a low seat, perfect combination for Kate, who is fairly petite at 5'3".

Of course, one does not simply buy a new bike.  One must obtain and install farkles.  Certainly one does not merely pick up a stock bike and ride.

So when we got Herbert, he had the following installed, from Max BMW.  (Best.  Dealer.  Ever.)

Touratech Panniers and Top case, in brushed aluminum
BMW Skidplate
BMW Engine Crash Bars
Touratech Radiator Guard
BMW Large Hand Guards
Touratech Quick Release Headlight Guard

We picked up Herbert and I got the privilege of riding him home.  Here are my impressions of the F700GS.

The bike has ample power and a linear power curve, on acceleration.  On deceleration, I did notice an odd behavior.  When rolling off the throttle, there is a smooth, linear deceleration directly proportional to throttle input, up until the very end of throttle let off.  At that point, somewhere around 5-10% of throttle, there is an abrupt cut off and engine braking engages very aggressively.  This effect is a dramatic one, to the point of giving the impression the brakes have been applied.

Speaking of brakes, the front brakes are amazing.  Very strong, if a bit grabby.  The rear leaves a lot to be desired.  The rear is excellent for control during low speed maneuvers, but almost ineffective for slowing the bike from speed.

First gear is tall and any maneuvers less than 15 MPH will require clutch fanning.  It interferes with attempts to observe the sky without looking up.

The ESA has a noticeable effect on the ride.  I could feel a distinct difference between each of the three modes and they each served their purpose well.  As I was highway droning, Comfort was excellent at absorbing bumps and smoothing the ride.  Normal was used when I was on the Taconic, where there are road imperfections, and curves.  Again, well suited.  I used Sport mode when doing some off ramps and a few twistier roads.  Very effective and well sorted.

The overall ride of the bike is well sorted.  It is very nimble, even with the bags, etc.  It tracked well on the highway and held its line in turns.  No long leggedness or squirrelishness noted.  On bridge grates, I did notice the skinnier tires wandered a bit more than I am used to.  Nothing terrible, just a little more movement.

Overall, great machine.  Kate is going to enjoy it and I would recommend it to other smaller stature riders.  The only caveat being, with a tall first gear, grabby front brakes and that throttle drop off, anyone who purchases this bike should spend some time in a parking lot practicing slow speed maneuvers.  Those three things, in a tight turning or parking lot scenario, could very easily end up in an oopsie.  Those concerns disappear after 15 MPH.

 One thing of note is the complete lack of wind protection.  This may be a great thing if you are back woods bashing, but Kate and I do a lot of Long Distance rallies and riding, which includes highway riding, and a windscreen was definitely needed. Windscreen was delivered on a Friday.  We had a rally coming up that Saturday, Hammy's Trouble With Triples, and Kate wanted to ride Herbert.  We live in a condo, so all my MC work happens in the abandoned lot across the street.   You can't ride a rally without a GPS, and no bike is complete without some RAM Mounts.  Of course, the secret rally weapon needed to be installed as well.

The rally and the install are captured in words and pictures here.

The rally was a success, the windscreen works like a champ.

But damn, poor Herbert is nearly blind.  How do people ride at night with just one measly headlight?  And a non HID headlight at that?  Time for some auxiliary lights!


ADV Monster sells a set of lights that I am a HUGE fan of.  Here is a link.  Those lights turn the night into day.  I LOVE them.  Of course, I can't leave well enough alone and I have played with several controllers trying to get the most fun out of the lights as possible.  And of course, those experiments have ended up with success and failure.

Herbert and Kate do not like experiments.  So I went with a tried and true LED controller solution, the Skene 175.  This controller allows for individual low and high beam settings for the lights.  You can also put one or two other settings in place with the use of a switch, which we have not done, and I am not sure we will.  Additionally, the controller has a flashing sequence for those times when an extra special idiot cuts you off, looks like they may turn left in front of you, etc.

In a stroke of pack rat brilliance, I found a set of handle bar mirror clamps that I had lying around.  Those worked perfectly for mounting the lights to the crash bars in a very solid fashion.

Also threw on another necessity, a hard wired USB connector for phone charging, etc.  I have 2 of these on Consuela and one on Captain USA.  Snotrag has 2.  I have seen these go for up to $30, but I bought a 10 pack from a Canadian company for $6 each.  They work great for keeping the phone charged, running an automobile GPS or charging our SENA headsets.  This is a must have, for long distance riding.

So Herbert is growing up.  Gotta get some more crap, I mean farkles.  He only has 1 ball (Ram Mount), and needs a couple more to make him feel like a real boy.  And where would we be if we couldn't mount a waterproof phone case?

Herbert has more RAM mounts now, one under each mirror.

Additionally, he has gotten Touratech Uppers attached to his BMW lowers and they look and work great (been tested with no damage)

He also has a fresh set of knobbies on him and they worked very well too!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why I should not be left unspervised

I chatted with Verizon support yesterday

here are the results

My name is Adrian, how may I assist you?
 Anthony: Hello, this being Anthony
 Adrian: Hello Anthony!
 Adrian: How can I help?

 Anthony: i am trying to figure out best plan for me and Kate
 Anthony: we would both like to have mobile hot spot
 Anthony: limit of 1500 messages
 Anthony: 700 minutes
 Anthony: shared
 Anthony: but when I do shared plans, the cost goes up and no hot spots
 Anthony: i am being confused
 Anthony: hello
 Anthony: dis being anthony

 Adrian: Okay, Anthony, I'd love to help out.
 Anthony: wow
 Adrian: Please allow me a moment to access your account.
 Anthony: i was just hoping you would be happy to help
 Anthony: loving is better

 Adrian: For security purposes, may I please have your billing password?  Your billing password is up to 5 characters long.
 Anthony: how do I know you work for verizon?
 Anthony: is this a spam phishing thing?
Adrian: No, definitely not. You contacted us, Anthony.
 Anthony: seems suspicious
 Adrian: I would need your password in order to look into your account.
 Anthony: I would like to confirm your identity
 Anthony: who is the mayor of North Dakota?
 Anthony: Adrian?
 Anthony: if that is your real name.....
 Anthony: ?
 Anthony: Adrian?
 Anthony: or should I say, comrade?
 Anthony: I put on my Robe and Wizard hat
 Anthony: Come on commie, tell me. Who is the Mayor?
 Anthony: any real American knows that
 Anthony: OK, that's it. I cast level 1000000 penis of the mighty on myself

 Adrian: Anthony, is there anything I can help you regarding your account?
 Anthony: tell me
 Anthony: who is the mayor
 Anthony: I don't trust you
 Anthony: is this a Nigerian scam?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hammy's (Hamy's) Trouble With Triple Rally

This past Saturday, May 4, was Hammy's Trouble With Triples Rally.  (BTW, the Tribbles reference was lost on me until after the rally was over and I was cruising home.  Kinda shameful for a geek to miss that.)

Here are our Rally Flags.  Notice the Bacon on Kate's?

This was designed to be a fun, informal rally, running 9 hours, 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.  There were bonus locations in NJ and Eastern PA.  As an added bonus, you were allowed to start from anywhere, so naturally, we all picked a route and started 5 minutes from our first bonus locations.

Kate and I decided to ride together, and we built a route together.  Lots of discussion on how long stop times would be, which route was the best, etc.  In the end, we decided on a route that had 4 triples.  (The bonii were organized into triples, Propeller had 3 airports, for example, and if you got all 3 of the bonii, your score for all 3 was tripled.  History buff had 3 bonuses worth 2 points each, but if you got all 3, which we did, you got 18 instead of 6 points)  In addition to the 4 triples, we had 4 individual bonuses in there worth an extra 7 points.

Hammy gave us an extra 10 minutes for the start window to allow for a bad receipt, or in my case, an overly aggressive and competitive nut job (me).  In order to get to our first bonus location by 8:20, we needed to leave the house by 6:30.  So naturally, I told Kate we had to leave by 6:00.

We had planned on the following stops:

NJ Motorsports Park
Spitfire Aerodrome
Philadelphia Art Museum
Nitro Girl
Atco Raceway
Flying W
Monmouth Battlefield
God Bless America
Bowman's Tower
Sky Manor
Easton Centre Square
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Kauffman's Bar-B-Que
William Penn Fire Tower
Hopewell Furnace
Maple Grove Raceway

Which would put us at Rally HQ at around 5:10 PM.  For my style of route planning, this was a TON of space.  I normally route myself with an extra 30 minutes to be made up on the rally, so my normal route planning would have me coming in around 6:00 PM.  Glad I made this change, you will see why in the gripping tale that follows.

As payback for my 6:00 AM departure announcement, I had to work on Herbert, Kate's new 2013 F700GS, on Friday night.  Installed a new windscreen, GPS mount and RAM mount.  Here are some pics.

Here is Herbert with his sad, small, no protection stock windshield.  He compensates with huge boxes.
 Here is the new, amazing, windscreen, that protects The Mallorine from bugs, road grime, wind and random Bigfoot strikes.
 New 665 Mounting bracket in place, and wired!  Thanks Touratech!  We have these mounts on all our bikes, allows us to move the 665 from bike to bike, and keeps the GPS safe by being lockable.  This particular mount was put in place by jury rigging a mount designed for an F800ST to the F700GS.  Stayed in place and is solid.
 A RAM mount.  Very exciting, I know.

The cockpit.  Road Book holder in place, for maximum rally efficiency.

Some day I will share that strategy, but as Dikembe Mutombo says, "Not today, ha ha ha"

Of course we live in a Condo and have a rental garage, so no working in the garage.  Did all this fun in the street, where I do all my work.  I have the best spot picked out, in an abandoned parking lot, that is flat, has a functioning, solar charged light, and a minimum number of rats and homeless people.
Yep, I said that.

As per my plan, we head out at 6:32.  I rode Captain USA on this ride, as Consuela has developed the Connie Shudder, which is when you are riding your C14, squeeze the front brakes, and your fillings fall out from the violent pulsating caused by one of the following:
  • Warped Rotors
  • Thick Rotors
  • Thin Rotors
  • Dirty Rotors
  • Clean Rotors
  • Old Pads
  • New Pads
  • Sticky Buttons
  • Loose Buttons
  • Wrath of the Gods
Funny thing is, no one knows the cause, including Kawasaki.

You can fix the problem in one of the following ways:
  • New Rotors
  • New Buttons
  • New (or Old) Pads
  • Clean the Rotors (Everything from Scotch Brite, to Steel Wool, to a soft baby wipe has been suggested)
  • Let the Rotors get dirty
  • Lube Buttons
  • Glue Buttons
  • Make a Sacrifice to the Gods, most theologians agree sacrificing the C14 will work, but that kinda defeats the purpose.

The Cat God is not amused.

F It.  I am gonna go steal a new Connie and replace the whole bike.  That will do it.

On our 125 mile ride to the start location, the Low Oil light comes on on Captain USA.  NBD, any normal rider would say, open the fill cap, drop in some oil, and continue on your way.  Stupid rotten dirty BMW Oil Heads have a 3 prong fill cap stupid thing, which requires a special tool, which I don't have.  So we get to our start location, and I tell Kate to start the route and I will catch up.

15 minutes later, after having several lengthy discussions with the fine employees of the local WaWa Gas Station/Convenience Store, regarding where they stock oil (it is in the last aisle, next to the coffee filters, duh), I am standing next to Captain USA ready to put oil in.  Out come the tools and my considerable swear vocabulary.
The solution was to beat the cap off with a large hex head screw driver, put in the oil, and beat the cap back on with said hex driver.  Worst part was two Harley guys offering to help.  They were very nice, and genuine in their offer to help, but this is an "Adventure Bike" that you can "Tour the World" with, but don't go 2,000 miles without a case of oil, or you are screwed!  Now I know why GS owners put those huge panniers on their bikes.  The top one is to hold a case of oil, in case they want to go to the corner store for some milk.

Oil in the bike, skipped the fuel, off on the route.

I started 20 minutes behind schedule.  NBD, we had at least 20 minutes in slack in our route planning and I had not been overly aggressive with our stops, etc.

Got to  NJ Motorsports Park and took the picture.

Caught up with Kate on the way to Spitfire Aerodrome.  Ms Garmin wanted us to get on the highway and walk to the bonus location.  Figured that MIGHT be incorrect, so went into the airport entrance instead, got down the road a piece, and snapped the pic.

Next stop, and I do mean STOP was Philadelphia Art Museum, and you had to take a picture from the back of the Museum.  Getting in was easy peasy.  Maybe 5 minutes from the bridge to the back of the museum.  Getting out too almost 20 minutes.  Closed roads, detours, cops at every intersection, just UGH.  We were pretty far behind at this point.

Ran back into NJ and grabbed Nitro Girl and Atco Raceway.

Flying W airport was next, quick in and out, and we had made up some time on some back roads.

Monmouth Battlefield looked like a nightmare when we got off the highway into massive traffic, but luckily, we only had to go about 3/4 of a mile, and the entrance to the park was right there.  Neat looking visitor's Center.

Then I ran out of gas.  Yep.  That happened.  Luckily, I rolled about 100 feet from a gas station, then had the joy of pushing Captain USA to the pump.  Each step had be second guessing all the heavy crap I had put on the bike. Published Fuel Capacity of the bike is 5.3 Gallons.  Look at the receipt.

Off to God Bless America.  When we got off the highway, I saw the World's Largest Tooth that Fuzzy Galore memorialized a few weeks ago.  1/4 mile down the road was this impressive pair.

Back into PA and off to Bowman's Tower.  Fun ride up to it, glad we had our GSs.  Pretty darn steep, with lots of loose stuff.  Both Herbert and Captain USA enjoyed themselves.
Kids in the picture seemed to be having a good time too.

Sky Manor Airport was next. 

Then off to Easton where Kate and I got separated, with me following Ms. Garmin's instruction, and Kate having time to pull over to the side of the road, figure out a new route and get there BEFORE ME.  Stupid, Lousy, Dirty $700 GPS.

Hawk Mountain was 20 minutes and 2 points.  Penalty window was 3 points per minute.  We were still behind, so no reason to risk being late and Hawk Mountain was dropped.

Only Hammy could find a monster chicken statue at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

Finished off the ride and got to Rally HQ at 5:20 and 375 miles.

Had a wonderful dinner and got to see my home boy, Bruce.

I had thought we only did 3 Triples and Bruce told me he did 4 and 2 extras.  I was sure we were sunk.

Turns out that we did do 4 Triples, plus the extras, and some Triples were worth more than others. 

Our route was good enough for the win and Bruce came in second.  Grand prize was a jar of Apple Butter, which will join our other trophies, after we liberate the contents of said jar.

Our ride home was 139 miles.  Long 139 miles.

The day totaled out at 675 ish miles in 15 hours, with 2 hours spent at rally HQ.  Good training for Kate for the Minute Man 1000.

Here is a link to the Spotwalla, and below is the route.

Great time, great rally and lots of fun.

Hammy runs a lot of informal rallies and is considering another 1 day in August.  I highly encourage you to join in.

Next stop, MD 20/20 May 24.