• Category Archives Biking
  • Why I don’t Ride with the ALR anymore – Part II

    OK… I said I don’t ride with them anymore, but this past weekend they decided to do a ride up to Lake City where the Laky City American Legion was hosting a chili cookoff. Well, that was enough for me, so I went with them. Hey… it’s chili.

    Of course, this just reminded me of why I don’t really want to ride with these guys anymore. First, they ran late. The email said to meet up at the post at 10 am for the ride, as the cook off was going to start at 11 am. When did we finally get rolling? An hour later! I had to stand around waiting for these guys to get their butts in gear and ready to go… and three of them, long standing members of the Riders, didn’t even bother with riding their bikes… they instead drove their big truck instead. So add to the list of reasons why I don’t want to ride with them is that they are tardy as hell, which is surprising given the nature of ex-military personnel who are accustomed to fifteen minutes prior to fifteen minutes prior.

    And then the ride. This really reminded me why I don’t go with these guys… because they are dangerous to their own. I chose to ride at the back of the pack, so that I can see what is happening in front of me and so that I don’t have idiots to my rear… and it turned out to be a good idea, because the bike in front of me, who has been riding for dozens of years, apparently never learned how to ride in formation with a group of bikes. No, instead of riding staggered the way it has been taught to every riding group I have ever been a member of, a lesson which has been put out to this very group many times before, a lesson that he HIMSELF has issued to others, decides to ride the entire way sitting directly behind the bike in front of him at the far right edge of the lane. So if the bike in front of him has to slam on the brakes, he is screwed, because he doesn’t have time to maneuver around, doesn’t have time to get on the brakes himself before hitting the bike in front of him, and frankly due to his age barely has the reaction time left to maneuver around things that come up in front of him normally. So he puts himself, his pillion rider (wife), and the rider in front of him in peril.

    I chose to ride home solo instead of riding back with them.

    Oh, and the chili wasn’t all that good either. I need to learn that these chili cook offs that are hosted by Harley Davidson or Veterans groups are being hosted by old people who apparently don’t know anything about making things spicy. They instead cater to the lowest common denominator, which means bland as hell. Once, just once, I need to cook for one of these contests and put up a sign reading something along the lines of “This chili is spicy. It will burn your dick off. You have been warned.”

  • Why I don’t ride with the ALR anymore

    OK, so here is the deal. I used to ride with the American Legion Riders on my motorcycle. Not often, but enough. However, I have stopped doing so. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the primary ones are that I am not a huge fan of group riding in the first place. Couple this with my desire to keep riding after more than fifty miles and the riding styles between myself and them simply diverge heavily.

    I ride a lot. I ride for very long distances, and see a lot of stuff. I could care less where the next bar is to visit, because I would rather be riding. I sometimes ride further before breakfast than some of the rides that the ALR will do in a full day. Couple that with what I consider to be unsafe riding habits and I simply won’t ride with them anymore. I won’t go into what those unsafe habits are here, because I don’t want to call anyone out.

    In general the ALR is kind of disappointing to me as well. They are using the riding as an excuse to fund raise. I get that. But that is ALL they do these days. There is no riding for the enjoyment of the ride. There is also the issue of where the funds go from these fund raisers. No, there isn’t any bad stuff going on…the money is going towards good causes. They just happen to be causes that are not very high on my priority list. I think that the funds could be used towards other causes that can use them better. However, I am not one to judge.

    So yeah. I was planning on making this entry a lot more caustic, but as I wrote it I just can’t do it. There are some things that I could say that would probably blow some people’s stacks if they saw them, but it isn’t in my nature to bad mouth people.

  • Triumph Daytona 250 in the works

    There is news that a 250 cc single-cylinder sportsbike is being tested in Spain, made by Triumph! Apparently there will be two different versions of this bike, a fully faired version modeled after the Daytona, and a naked version.

    The sportbike version will have features such as twin headlights, a single front disc brake, and 5-spoke wheels.

    The bikes are expected to be manufactured in Triumph’s new factory, located in Narsapur, central India.

    It is not known at this time if the bikes will ever make their way to the United States, however. It would be quite nice if this were the case, since it would put in some nice entry-level riding that would compete with Kawasaki and Honda.


  • New Harley-Davidson Street models

    OK, so a couple of weeks ago at the Milan motorcycle show Harley-Davidson announced that they were coming out with a pair of smaller engined bikes. No doubt this is in response to the fact that they no longer have any small(er) displacement bikes in their lineup (the smallest at the moment is the Sportster 883, I believe) combined with the new licensing requirements of the EU that are going into effect for new riders (the A1, A2, and A licenses).

    With these two bikes, we will now see a 500cc and 750cc model, both of which are finally water-cooled. Harley-Davidson has finally stepped out of the 1940’s and has reached 1985! (Why did I pick this number? Because this is when Suzuki introduced the Suzuki VS750 Intruder, which quite frankly looks EXACTLY like the Harley-Davidson street)

    To be frank, I am not really impressed. There is certainly no way that I am going to be buying one of these bikes. They are going to be priced at $6,700 and $7,500 for the 500 and 750 respectively, and I think that people are still going to be paying the Harley tax on them. Rumours are that they are being manufactured in India, then put together in the US.

    From what I am seeing on other blogs and message boards, the Harley Snobs (I like that term… it describes them so well) aren’t very fond of the bike, with postings in the vein of “Get that Honda out of our parking lot!” It will be interesting to see how HD promotes and supports this bike over the next couple of years. I really hope that they back it properly and create a spot in their showrooms for it, along with ensuring that it is accepted in the community as a whole… but I’m not going to hold my breath.

    Street 750_11

  • Test Ride: Indian Chief Vintage

    20131116_125949So this past weekend the Indian guys came by relatively locally (only a forty mile ride south) with the demonstration truck. They had three different bikes available for testing out… the Indian Chief Classic, the Chief Vintage, and the Chieftain. They range in price from $18,999 to $22,999.

    The Specs

    This is the new Indian motorcycle, which was bought out by Polaris. The dealerships are mostly going into spaces appropriated by Polaris and Victory dealers.

    They have 111 cubic inch V-Twin engines, delivering 119 ft/lbs of torque at 3000 RPM. They have a wet clutch system with six gears.

    The Ride

    This is a big heavy American built cruiser. That is its only purpose. Getting on the bike I felt that the seating position felt very odd. I am coming from a sport-touring bike where the seating position is very erect, and this was forcing me into a much more laid-back position. The backrest on the bike was needed, or else I was going to be holding onto the grips in order to not have to maintain my position via my back and stomach muscles.

    Starting it was interesting. It is a keyless ignition handled by your typical FOB. Harley riders who have recent bikes won’t have a problem with this. The clutch was very smooth and I felt like I could start the bike out without actually applying any throttle. Idle speed is around 900RPM. Puling out of the lot, I found my foot position to be very far forward, and actually a bit uncomfortable. Again, I come from a sport-touring world where your foot position is just slightly forward of your hips, and this bike has your feet out a good 18-24 inches forward of your hips.

    Once up to speed, this bike is beautifully smooth. Almost no vibration, though I did find the ride to actually be rougher than on my Trophy when it came to handling bumps. The bumps were absorbed, but you still felt them.

    Power response was not a big thing on this bike. While it did have a nice throaty sound to it, I did not find the acceleration to be all that great. Talking to others, it seems like I never really hit the proper portion of the torque curve to really feel this bike leap out. I was typically burbling along at 2000RPM no matter what speed I was going, and only at the end of the ride when we got onto a 4-lane highway was I even able to get into sixth gear.

    Handling of the bike is…well…horrid. I felt like I was driving a boat. Part of that is probably due to the long wheel base (68 inches) and the rake (29 degrees), part due to the colossal weight of the bike (801 lbs dry!)

    The bike I rode had a windshield that reached high enough that I was looking through it, and I did not notice any problems with buffeting. Others I spoke to that had different height windshields were less happy about it, but that could just be because of their personal preferences.


    This is a big, heavy American cruiser that looks really pretty, will give you a great ride so long as you don’t have to turn, and will be a talking point wherever you go. I consider it to be a perfect bike for the kind of person that like to either bar-hop or cruise from one hot-spot to another.

    Looking at the configuration pages for the bike on the Indian Motorcycle website (http://www.indianmotorcycle.com) it looks like if you want to add any accessories (and you will) you are going to be paying out the ear for them. Here is the thing I am finding with this motorcycle: You are going to pay for the name just like you do with a Harley. There are metric bikes out there that have all of the nice things that this bike has for significantly less, but if you want American iron, I would say go with this over going with a Harley… at least this will be different!20131116_125938

  • Ride Report: The Forgotten Coast

    On Veteran’s day, I decided I wanted to do a bit of a ride along the coast. Living in the middle of Florida, I have a number of different coasts to choose from and get to within a short amount of time, so this time I picked on an area that is sometimes called the Forgotten Coast. It is in the panhandle of Florida, and extends from around Panacea out to Port St. Joe, and the road is US Route 98.

    I now ride a 2013 Triumph Trophy SE, a large sport-touring bike that is aimed by Triumph directly at the BMW R1200. This would be my first relatively long ride with the bike, so I was somewhat excited with the prospects of the ride.

    From Gainesville the route to get to the beginning of 98 is a quick jaunt on US 441 out to High Springs, then US 27 out to Perry. From Perry you can join 98 Westbound and just stay on it.

    The road is in good condition for the most part, though I did run into a small amount of construction work. You are within smelling range of the water a good portion of the time, and can see out over the Gulf of Mexico on a very regular basis.

    There are numerous places to pull over and take a bit of a rest, take in the sights, and smell the ocean breezes. It turned out to be a beautiful day for the ride for me, so I enjoyed it as much as I could.

    On the Forgotten Coast
    On the Forgotten Coast

    In Eastpoint I was starting to get a bit hungry, so I took the St. George Island bridge over and had a bit of lunch at a place called “The Beach Pit”, which serves barbecue and fried seafood. The barbecue was alright, but not really anything to write home about. A year ago, this place was called Fire House No. 9 Bar and Grill, so obviously there has been a change in ownership (and apparently a loss of their upper deck.)

    Finished with lunch, I continued down the road, crossed the bridge to Apilachicola (a cute town… nice little downtown area) and then decided to take CR30A out to Cape San Blas. This turned out to be a mistake, because the north-south portion of CR30A turned out to have been under construction, and while it was pretty much complete, was still under a 30mph speed limit that slowed everyone down.

    Once back on US98, headed up to Tyndall AFB and across the bay into Panama City. While I was passing through the base, I was lamenting the fact that my father could have been stationed there, and we would probably have enjoyed it more than when we were stationed at Homestead AFB back before it gone blown away by Hurricane Andrew. At least I got to see a couple of F-4 Phantom II’s sitting on the flight line. Most likely they are being used as drones these days, as the air force no longer has any F-4’s operational.

    Out of Panama City took US219 up to the Interstate and blasted my way home on the superslab. It was actually a very nice test for the Trophy, because I hadn’t really put it through any long Interstate riding up until this point. It performed admirably, with only one instance that had me concerned because the pillion seat on the bike had come loose. I ended the day with a stop at McDonald’s of all places, because they had an ad in the window that had one Big Mac at regular price, a second for just a penny. I hadn’t had a Big Mac in something like a decade, so I figured it would be something different. Now I don’t have to have one for another decade.

    Total ride distance by map was about 530 miles, but with other things that I sort of investigated it was probably a bit longer than that. Google maps says it should have taken a bit over 9 hours. I did it in 12 with the stops for food and stuff.

  • Conastogas Restaurant

    Went to this restaurant on Monday night as a part of an American Legion Rider’s meeting. Normally we meet at the legion hall and do our business there, but ’tis the season and all, and the president decided that the organization had enough money to treat us this time around by buying dinner for us all at the restaurant.

    The American Legion Riders is a sub-organization of the American Legion, and we ride motorcycles, do charity work, and represent the Legion and Veterans. You know, that sort of thing.

    So how many members (there were about twenty of us that showed up) actually rode in for this event?

    Me. Just me. It wasn’t even really raining! (It had rained earlier, and there was still wetness on the roads, which is why I showed up with wet jeans, and it did rain while we were inside again, but still…)

    Our group was seated in a large private room that still has a view on the street. Un-shelled peanuts in a bowl greeted us as we made small talk and the waitress got our drink orders. More small talk as we waited for the drinks to arrive and then our meal orders were taken.

    I ordered the “Stogie” Burger with Bacon and cajun fries. We then proceeded to talk for about another half hour before our food started to trickle out of the kitchen. It seems that their kitchen is not designed to handle a twenty seat order at once. Nor does the restaurant appear to realize that for a group of twenty, you really need more than one waitress to handle everything. I really do mean everything in this case. She had no help when it came time to deliver the food, when it came time to fill up the glasses of iced tea, which pretty much everyone had, etc.

    Finally, our food did start to arrive, oddly enough in reverse order of the sequence that it was ordered… oh well, no big deal in that regard. The Stogie burger is a 16oz patty on a decent sized bun with all of the usual accoutrements for a burger… lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese, bacon. I passed on the pickle, because American pickles are crap. The burger was done to specification, and was a good burger. I mean, there was nothing spectacular about it, nor was it bad. It was a large burger that comes from a Western themed restaurant… so it was what I would expect.

    Really, you are getting what you would expect from a restaurant such as this, and the value is there for the money. The one niggly little thing that I would bitch about would be their claim that they have the largest burger in the country, referring to some place in Oregon that serves a 36 ounce burger. So apparently this place one-upped them with a 48oz burger (basically three Stogie burgers stacked on one another). Whoo! Sounds like no one would be topping that, right?


    Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Pennsylvania has a number of different challenges… their 48 oz challenge is there, just like Conestoga’s, but they also have a 96 oz challenge (yes, that is SIX pounds). There are a number of other challenges that they have which are just scary to even look at.

    Anyway, that is my quick review of Conestogas Restaurant. I would recommend it if you want a typical Western style restaurant that serves burgers and steaks, as they do a decent job, but be aware that you are going to be swamped with a bit of kitchy western stuff along the way.