It’s gone

It’s final. It’s official.

I have sold my motorcycle.


She’s been sitting in the garage for a long long time. I haven’t been riding for numerous reasons, but if nothing else… it’s just not a priority any more. Maybe someday it will be again. And in a way, I hope it will.

But for now, this is ok.

In fact, I’m happy about the buyer. Young guy (tho not too young); comes off as responsible, trustworthy, and a good guy (I was able to check him out a bit and when I discovered his day job well… that made it easy to know a lot of good about him). He’s just getting into riding. I remember what that was like… this was my first bike too. Plus he’s going to do his own wrenching, so I threw in all sorts of stuff like the jack and special bike tools. I also gave him a jacket, Draggin Jeans, a bunch of DVD’s (the Ride like a Pro series), a bunch of books on riding technique and maintenance. I mean, he got a ton of stuff and quite a deal. He’s pretty well set to start riding. 🙂  Yeah, I could have sold all that stuff on its own, but eh… it helps him get started, and really… I don’t have the time/trouble to sell it all individually and I just want it all out of here so I can reclaim space and get on with other things.

So I’m happy. The bike’s got a good home, good owner. She’s meant to be ridden, and it looks like she will be.

This chapter closes.

2011 Star Stryker

Just received an email from Star Motorcycles announcing the release of the 2011 Star Stryker.

Wow. I gotta hand it to Yamaha. They’re really working to evolve their line of cruiser motorcycles. So we start with all the technology that went into the Roadliner/Stratoliner series (the frame, the exhaust system). That begat the Raider, which was basically a ‘Liner but with custom chopper styling out of a major-factory bike. At the same time, the V Star 1300 came along to take over the aging 1100 series, providing classic cruiser/tourer styling in a mid-line bike (and also, water-cooling). So now the Raider and the 1300 get together and form the Stryker: the frame and exhaust and styling from the Raider, the engine from the 1300.

So now you can get custom chopper-like styling, with a good engine (hey, 1300 is still pretty damn good), good handling and road performance… and a mid-level price.

Star Motorcycles is really evolving their product line and I think putting out some of the better cruiser-style bikes. But hey.. I’m biased. I own a 2006 V Star 1100 Classic. 😉

If I was in the market for a new bike, I’d be buying a Stratoliner Deluxe. But I gotta say, Mama-Yama is working their product line well.

Deer and motorcycles just don’t mix

A motorcyclist survives a collision with a deer.

He hit the deer at 70 MPH and was thrown over his handlebars and slid 100 yards… a football field.

He wasn’t able to walk away — he fractured his ankle — but that’s really the worst of things for him. Why did he survive?

The back of his heavy duty protective jacket was completely shredded, while the road cut deep grooves into the side of his helmet.

He was wearing gear. Proper heavy jacket, and a full-face helmet. I don’t know if he was wearing any protective pants or gloves, but likely so.

This is why I’m a fan of ATGATT — All The Gear All The Time.

When you ride in a car, you’ve got a giant steel cage to protect you. When you ride on your motorcycle, you have nothing to protect you except for your riding gear.

I happened upon a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago, before police and EMT arrived. Guy and his girlfriend were thrown off their Harley when a car pulled out in front of them from a side-road. They were pretty messed up, I helped on the scene with first aid, and after EMTs arrived I left. I assume they survived. But based upon what I saw, if they had at least helmets on — even DOT-approved half-helmets — they would have fared a lot better.

I’ve gone down. I’m glad I had gear else I would have been hurting afterwards. The gear took the brunt and I had little more than sore muscles and a bruised ego.

I totally understand not wanting to wear gear. It’s a pain to suit up. It’s bulky. It’s not always comfortable. It can be restraining. And damnit, it’s just not as free! It feels awesome to ride without any gear. Especially here in Texas where there’s a long riding season, and it’s hot… very hot… and gear doesn’t always help with that. So I do understand.

And while the best way to avoid going down is to ride defensively and conservatively, sometimes things just come out at you and there’s nothing you can do… like hit a deer. There’s so many whitetails here in Texas that when I’m riding on the backroads in the mornings, I’m always nervous about deer. I’ve encountered a lot of deer as I’ve been riding, but thankfully no close calls. I’ve hit a couple of birds (they were in the road eating something, didn’t get off fast enough, one bounced off my knee and the other off my windshield). I had a very close encounter with a buzzard on the side of the road that decided taking off right in front of me would be smart… you don’t realize how big those guys are until they’re right upon you. Point is, shit happens.

How does the motorcycle saying go? There’s two kinds of riders: those who have gone down, and those who haven’t gone down yet. It’s not “if” you’ll go down, it’s “when”.

To wear gear or not is a personal choice. It can’t stop everything, but it can prevent a lot of things. My personal choice is ATGATT.

Black and blue

I’m not really a sport bike guy, but while doing some Google searches the above image came up. A Honda CBR600RR. Apparently some sort of limited edition paint job available only in the UK. And it’s the paint job that I like. Mostly black, splash of white, then the ice-electric blue… especially in the wheels.

Just looks awesome.

God, I needed that.

OK. The sun is up. Time to get going.

Shit. It’s 40º out. Damn weatherman said it’d be in the 50’s. Oh well. Doesn’t matter. I’m going anyway.

Don my coat, get the keys, and into the garage. A small feeling of guilt comes over me because I haven’t taken her out in months. Will she fire up? That Battery Tender, Jr. was a good investment. Open the petcock. Put in the key and turn her on. There goes the fuel pump, hungrily pumping gas into the carburetor bowls. Choke on full. Press the starter. Starts right up. Drop the choke to half and let her idle for a bit to warm up. While she warms up let’s check on things. Lights working. Brakes and brake lights working. Signals are fine. Shocks good. Visual once-over. Looking and sounding good. Kill the engine. Hrm…. tires need some air… pull the pump out of the saddlebags and let it run. Bike seems in good shape. I vow to never again let this much time pass between rides.

Go back in the house to suit up. Full leathers and some extra insulation. 40º air temps and 65 MPH winds make it feel like 20º or less. Where’s my helmet’s air damn? Ah… left it in the saddlebags. Go fetch. Install. That will keep the chill out of the helmet. Take off my XD. Slip the snub in the jacket pocket. Rearrange the wallet and iPhone for easier access. Kiss Wife and Kids good-bye.

“Where are you going?”

“Lockhart run.”

Wife smiles back. She knows “Lockhart run” means bringing home the best damn BBQ in Texas.

Back to the garage. Climb on. Out of the garage and fire her up. Man, those Roadhouse Classic pipes sound great; I’m so happy I bought them and installed them myself. Make a gut check… it’s been too long since I’ve been on. Pull out of the driveway and it feels good to be on 2-wheels again. Damn cold air. Sure the Pinlocks are great for the helmet visor not fogging, but my damn glasses still fog up. *sigh* Crack the visor open until things even out.

Getting my legs back under me. On the way out of the subdivision practice a few emergency braking techniques. Remind myself it’s Super Bowl Sunday and there’s likely to be more people on the road on a Sunday morning due to the need to prep for parties. That also means they’re going to be distracted and not paying attention. Keep your guard up.

Get gas. Man, I’m so glad I use Seafoam as I’m sure that’s what kept the fuel in the tank happy.

OK, let’s head out to the highway.

Man, this feels good.

Hrm. Lots of scenery has changed since I last did this run. All that SH-130 construction I guess. Man, can’t wait until they finish that.

Wow, things really have changed. I wonder what this will look like once the highway is in. Yeah sure there’s still some fields and farms and cows and such to see, but all this construction and stripping of the earth will just be concrete eventually. Certainly not as pretty. But well… todays’ run is all business. It’s too cold to stay out for hours and take the backroads.

Sure enough, even with all my layers, the cold is creeping in. Dang. I should have put that balaclava on my neck. Fingers getting the worst of it as usual. Need to ask Larry about those deflectors again.

Ah, Lockhart. Black’s BBQ. They always treat me right. Let’s see… I’ll get the family pack, brisket of course but throw in a couple sausage links for Oldest. Mac & cheese (for Daughter), pinto beans (Wife), and potato salad. Oh heck… get a pint of banana pudding too.

“Can you guys wrap it all up in foil and plastic bags so it doesn’t get all in my saddle bags?”

“Yes sir, not a problem.”

Oh yeah… don’t forget to grab plasticware. It’s nice to just have the meal with zero cleanup.

BBQ into the saddlebags. Helmet and gloves back on. Let’s head back out. No more leisure riding, gotta get home before the meat gets cold.

Man… why is seeing all of this construction bothering me so? Loss of the pretty scenery I guess. Oh well, need to crank it home.

OK, onto the FM road to get over to I-35. This guy’s going too slow, dashed yellow line, open that throttle and pass. Man, I love opening the throttle. Getting pressed back into the backrest from all that torque is wonderful.

Settle into a groove, speed limit dropping as we come through this one area…. bank to the left… and holy shit this asshole is passing me on the curve! Double yellow lines, cars coming at him, and he’s passing me like this? Holy fucking shit you asshole! I don’t care if you Darwin yourself, but damnit don’t put my life in danger like that. But let it go. Don’t flip him off… does no good. Yeah he’s a asshole, but don’t let it ruin the ride. Just let it go.

Back to the highway… damn I hate being around 18-wheelers when I don’t have the protective cage around me. No matter. Just ride on.

Stop light. Damn. Didn’t realize how cold my toes had gotten. Fingers certainly stiff and cold now too. Light’s going to change soon so no chance to warm them by the heat of the engine. Almost home. Home… warm home.

Into the garage. Kill the engine. Sit there a moment and savor it.

God, I needed that.

Riding is my therapy. I need lots of therapy right now. V-twin therapy.

Time to eat some brisket.

Park Road 1C

The weather was too nice this morning to not go for a motorcycle ride. A little chilly at daybreak, but no big deal there. Just wear the right gear and off you go.

I took a bunch of back roads to go from Austin to Smithville, Texas. It was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful scenery. I was in no hurry. When I got to Smithville originally I was going to head up FM 2104, cut over US-290 to TX-21 back into Bastrop as I love driving through the Lost Pines area that TX-21 cuts through. As I came upon Buescher State Park I remembered how it connected to Bastrop State Park by way of Park Road 1C. Click for Google Map goodness.

If you are a motorcyclist within riding distance to this road, you need to take it at least once. I have always wanted to take it and today marked my first day to take it.

You will need to pay $2 “drive through” fee to the park, but that’s fine as I am a supporter of our State Parks. The road is about an 11 mile run and is just wonderful. It’s quiet (only encountered a few other cars), the scenery is awesome — I love riding through all those tall pine trees, and areas where the trees are so dense and grow over the road like a canopy. The posted speed limit is 30 MPH but I found myself just staying in second gear and going 15-25 MPH most of the time. Why? Again, no hurry and enjoying the ride.

That said, it really is a road you should take slowly. There are many twists and turns, many blind corners and a few blind hills. Signage is almost non-existent (no signs to say slow down, blind curve ahead, etc.). While the road is technically wide enough for two cars, there are many places where there is no shoulder. Furthermore, build up of leaves and pine needles may have built up on the side of the road effectively narrowing it by 6-12″ on a side, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you’ve got a truck coming the other direction and they’re not on their side of the road. The road surface isn’t always the best, plus I encountered areas of water, wet leaves, sticks and branches (had to even pull over once to dislodge a small stick that had caught under my bike’s frame). I almost hit a squirrel, but was surprised to encounter no deer (what with the rut starting and all). So while I certainly could see in an ideal world this road being awesome to fly down in a sport bike, I personally wouldn’t recommend it give the nature of the road. But then, I’m more of an old biker than a bold biker (lots of old bikers, lots of bold bikers, but not many old bold bikers).

Besides… the ride is so beautiful, why would you want to go fast and miss all of it? As soon as I came in the back entrance of Bastrop State Park, majestic is the best word to describe it. Big trees, as far as the eye can see. Words cannot do it justice; you just need to experience it yourself.

After coming out in Bastrop, stopped into John’s Guns. They are quite friendly folk so we talked for a while. I picked up a couple .50 cal ammo cans for storage (they’ve got some of the best supply in the area), some .38 Special practice ammo, and headed home.

Life is good.

Harley Davidson kills Buell

Wow. Harley-Davidson kills the Buell line.

From Erik Buell (if the YouTube video is pulled, you should be able to also view it on the Buell website).

Watching that hurts. You can hear the sadness in the man’s voice. 😦

Hopefully there will be a way for things to carry on. Maybe in a different form, maybe under a different name, but the same people and passion driving the development.

Ride on, brother.

New laws in effect

Being September 1, a bunch of new laws go into effect here in Texas.

Here’s the press release straight from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Some highlights:

HB 55 makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone unless the vehicle is stopped or a hands-free device is used. Cities or counties wanting to enforce this law must post a sign at the beginning of each school zone to inform drivers that using a wireless communications device is prohibited and the operator is subject to a fine. It is a defense to prosecution if the operator was making an emergency call.

Why? Because talking (or texting) on the phone can be very distracting and render you a more dangerous driver, less aware of your surroundings? distracted from your primary task at hand? If it’s bad enough to avoid doing this in school zones, why isn’t it bad enough to avoid doing this everywhere?

SB 129 goes into effect. I never heard of “neighborhood electric vehicle” before.

Relating to concealed handguns:

HB 2730 amends numerous provisions regarding concealed handgun licenses (CHLs), including eliminating student loan defaults as a disqualifier, to clarify that DPS must suspend or revoke a license when the licensee becomes ineligible and mandating that a magistrate suspend a CHL held by the subject of an emergency protective order.

There’s actually a lot of stuff in HB 2730.

HB 2664 provides a defense to prosecution if a concealed handgun license holder carries a concealed handgun into an establishment that gets 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages, but has failed to post the statutorily required notice that it derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages. (Under current law, a concealed handgun licensee can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for doing this.)

This is welcome. I’ve been in a few places where I was surprised to discover a 51% sign was posted, but because it was posted improperly I didn’t learn about it until I was technically in violation of the law.

HB 2730 removes DPS authority to suspend a concealed handgun license (CHL) for the holder’s failure to display the CHL to a peace officer on demand. It removes associated penalties and suspensions for the failure to display.

I still think it’s generally sound advice that, if you’re carrying and a DPS officer requests identification (e.g. drivers license) that you include your CHL too. But the law is improved.

SB 1188 went into effect, bringing Texas out of the dark ages.

Drivers license related laws went into effect. HB 339 increases the number of hours a teenage student must have behind the wheel. I’m not so thrilled about state requirements, but to drive is a privilege. Frankly, I think the more the hours the better anyway… driving is something you need a lot of practical experience with.

SB 1967 changes things for motorcyclists. Now to obtain a “class M” certification on your drivers license you must show successful completion of a motorcycle rider safety course. I think those courses are very good things to have and data has demonstrated that riders that have taken those courses, as opposed to learning to ride by themselves or via family/friends, are safer riders. To arive alive and in one piece is a good thing. Again, driving is a privilege. The helmet law was improved; if I am reading this right, you don’t need to prove the extra health insurance and have the proof sticker any more to ride without a helmet. I think that’s reasonable, just don’t expect anyone else to pay to put your brains back in your skull if you choose to ride without a helmet.

My new motorcycle

What do you think of my bitchin’ new motorcyclebike?

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Another class – post mortem

Helped out with another Basic Pistol 1 class today.

There were 10 people in the class, 6 were female. Wide range of ages of folks too.

The class was good. People got to learn a lot, set a solid foundation, and try out a bunch of handguns to figure out what worked best for them. One of the best things about this course is the smorgasbord of handguns you get to shoot, because it helps you figure out what works right for you. The biggest issue is gun fit and being able to find a gun that fits you, thus you’ll be able to shoot well. You walk out of that class with the knowledge of how to be able to shop for a gun, how to buy ammo for it, and the basics of how to shoot it with good technique.

In today’s class, I happened to have my Springfield XD-9 Subcompact with me. I let people shoot it next to a full-sized XD-9 so they could compare and contrast. My point? I wanted them to see that you will shoot a large gun better than a small gun (all other things being equal, but for size). Larger guns have more frame to grip so you can get more  hand on them and better control them. Larger guns have a longer sight radius, so you can be more accurate. Larger guns are a little heavier, so they will absorb recoil better. This isn’t to say you can’t shoot a small gun well (more in a moment), but as a beginner you’ll find more success if you start out with a larger gun. Smaller guns are more concealable, but with the right strategy you can conceal a full sized gun without much problem.

On the small gun note, I actually did some shooting with my subcompact today and was quite pleased with the results. I don’t shoot that gun a lot, but because I’ve been improving my skills on the larger guns, all that came back down here. The only thing that wasn’t fun about shooting the subcompact was it has the factory sights: big fat front sight that fills up most of the rear notch (little light on the sides, harder to get things lined up), 3 white dots although I did black out the back 2 dots. I just like my Dawson Precision sights. Nevertheless, I was shooting some timed drills and did quite well because while I knew I had to shoot fast to make time I didn’t sacrifice good form for time… I didn’t rush just to get the shots off in time. I even recall a few times distinctly withholding the shot until I had the proper sight picture, my eyes focused on the front sight.

Speed is important, but I’d say accuracy is more important. No one cares about the first person to get the wrong answer, to miss, to screw up. Use good technique. Watch that front sight.

And I got to ride my motorcycle to and from the range. Gosh it’s hot out. 🙂  I’ve been having thoughts about selling my bike, but I enjoyed the ride too much today. I may not ride as much as I used to, but I think I’d be unhappy if I sold her.