Thursday, April 30, 2009

Norm! -an

Tivo has been "suggesting" Cheer's for me to view. And I am a sucker and did enjoy the show. As well as the name "Norm -an" meaning more to me as that is one of my father's names. No, I am not a test tube baby with multiple fathers. But I'm not explaining any more then that! ;-)

C, Mr. Oilburner, had Friday off for his compressed work schedule. As the day was GORG-E-OUS we were on the bikes. Of course it was also supposed to be the hottest day of the weekend. But I still think that Saturday won that distinction.

We didn't have any particular place in mind, but felt a good starting point would be Jefferson...where we left off when the bike started reeking. We hopped on the freeway and made it to Jefferson right quick.

I had come through here a couple days before, from the opposite direction, and liked the roads. So I navigated us up some of those roads and enjoyed the scenery. We stopped to fill the tanks at the main (and only) intersection of Ila, Ga.

As we staked out our little piece of sidewalk, I again received chit-chat from a few people. One lady stared at my bike as she walked past. Then asked if it was a Harley BMW mix of some sort. We cleared her up that the bike sitting next to it was a Harley, but this one was all BMW. one looked at Mr. Oilburner's Harley. :-)

Another gentlemen pulled up on his little Piaggio three wheeler. I've seen these on the road, but never really up close. So he joined us and we chatted for awhile. He rides this little thing as a commuter vehicle 60 miles one way a couple days a week.

After refreshments we headed off again. We decided to work our way down to Washington, Ga so Mr. Oilburner could check out Talk of the Town. But on the way we spied a little town by the name of Norman. We just had to go!!

On our way, we found ourselves in Elberton again. This time we quickly veered off to see the granite war memorial park we had missed before. This was an impressive little place considering where it was. The land was orignally deeded to the ladies of the Service Star Legion of Elbert County from Ora Eugene Tate in 1923. From 1923 thru 1984 the park was managed by those patriotic ladies of the Service Star Legion. Early development included a large landscaped raised star in the center with five walkways to each point, a tall flagpole placed in the center of the star, a planted magnolia tree honoring President Woodrow Wilson and oak trees placed around the perimeter honoring the soldiers of WWI. In 1984 the park was donated and deeded to Elbert County.

The oaks remain, but nothing else does. I would have enjoyed seeing it's original layout. There are many more memorials for the wars that have come since then. And each has their spot of interest.

Back on the road...and the gps again takes us down gravel roads. Feeling confident, I show Mr. Oilburner just how great I am, and continue on. He is duly impressed for the mile we are on gravel. We veer onto pavement for a couple hundred yards and again are told to take a dirt road for 3.4 miles. This road doesn't look quite so nice or well traveled. We look to the GPS' to find that if we stay on the paved portion we will be at the highway in 0.7 miles. No brainer!!

We finally arrive at a our small community that at least has a sign!! If not much else...

We have to stop and document this! And then head on our way to Washington. With the temps in the mid-80's we jump into the air-conditioning of the cafe. Hey, at least there isn't any humidity to speak of. That will come soon enough. And even with the temps Mr. Oilburner orders soup. But I sorta pushed him into it since the Roasted Red Pepper with Gouda sounded absolutely scrumptious! And it was.

I opted for the daily special Pork Tenderloin sammich. I am not normally a pork eatin' individual, but this was delicious!

Feeling fat and happy after the meal, we walked around the square a little and determined it was time to book it home. It was getting a little late and we had plans that night. We stopped over at the hotel coffee shop to get some "wake-me-up" juice. Then high-tailed it home without incident.

In all, it was 232 miles of beautiful weather and great scenery and fun.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Group Ride South Around Atlanta

C introduced us into a riding group last year that we have enjoyed getting together with. In the beginning I wasn't experienced enough to go on many of their rides as they generally rode freeways. So C would ride with them on routes that interested him and I agreed to go to the "coffee and chats" across town at Starbucks.

Time has moved on and I am good with just about any ol' route they want to take, except severe twisties. I'm still working on those. So when the organizers finally created a day route C and I gave it some thought. This route was going to start in our neck of the woods and take us south, east to west. This was appealing because we hadn't been to this area of town. We felt the 245 miles was a bit ambitious as they enjoy stopping or long breaks every 40-60 miles. But we decided to join the ride knowing that we could break off when we wanted.

13 bikes in all showed up and I volunteered to ride tail during the pre-ride meeting. I volunteered knowing it wasn't going to be easy, but also knowing that I wouldn't have to worry about any bikes riding up behind me. If I can't keep up with the group at all times I am only hurting myself and not everyone behind me.

As much as C and I enjoy riding alone or with our own little group it is enlightening to ride with a larger group that typically rides faster. It just gives you a little more of a challenge that you might not push yourself into otherwise. At times I was forced to ride faster then the group to catch up from either my sightseeing or the "slinky effect" that occurs in group riding. This in turn made me take those curves faster then I normally would and didn't give me time to psych myself out of them. So I walked away with more comfort and experience, but didn't enjoy the ride overall since I didn't get to do much sightseeing!

We did stay with the group the entire day...but only when they changed and shortened the route after lunch. And even then the route was shortened halfway through once again. This change of plan brought us near the freeway allowing us all to hop right on and book north towards Atlanta.

In all, the route from our house and back was 247 miles. To date this is my longest distance in one day and I wasn't feeling too bad. I'm not posting any pictures of the ride because I didn't take any! We only stopped for fuel and lunch. And I just don't enjoy taking snaps of people standing around near bikes. I will try to do better next time. :-)


Thursday, April 23, 2009

First Time Gravel

Hopped on the bike and headed towards Franklin, NC. The temps were wonderful at 65 degrees, but there was a foul, chilly wind blowing that sliced through the clothing. I hadn't anticipated the chill, so hadn't dressed warmly enough. I intended on taking the main highways up and the scenic mountain passes back.

I stopped in Toccoa for some water. But the chicken smelled wonderful. I settled into my little chunk of sidewalk and enjoyed small conversations with the passers-by. After I warmed up I decided to take a shorter route home that didn't involve higher elevations. Looked at the GPS and headed for the interestingly named town of Erastus.

The roads were scenic and wonderfully empty. Happy things cannot be said for the GPS. The algorithm seems to be a little flawed in route calculation when it sets non-highway to have higher priority over unpaved roads. So the route kept trying to take me down dirt and gravel roads instead of over the a highway. Go figure...

However, I swallowed my fear and ventured down one of those gravel roads. It was only going to be a mile. It was wide, well paved and populated with many houses. So I felt confident that if I dropped the bike and needed help, there would be plenty of help to get. I kept the speed to a safe a cautious 15 mph.

About half way down the road was a concrete overpass for the interstate. I stopped and had to take a picture to prove to C that I had indeed ridden on gravel.

I was disappointed reaching Erastus to see there wasn't any town or community sign. Just a house and a crossroad...

Continued home and took it easy. BTW, no bad bike smells and no gravel incidents. Yay me!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tour of Nothing

It was a nice day and Alex has a new bike. What other excuse is needed to ride??

We generally plan and lead the rides simply because we want to see new and interesting places and have the GPS'. So we determined that it was Alex's turn to plan and lead since he does have GPS software installed on his phone. Hmmm...didn't turn out as planned.

We headed towards Buford to see a guy about reinstalling the firmware on C's power commander for his bike. C tried to update the firmware version and didn't have it powered properly. He wound up wiping it clean. He was hoping this guy would be able to reinstall and update. Unfortunately he wasn't able to.

That put us in Buford to meet up with Alex for breakfast.

During breakfast we discussed a possible ride: Lake Lanier. Hmmm....C and I looked at each other and tried to figure out "where" around Lake Lanier. It isn't a bad lake, but it highly developed without many scenic roads in view of the lake. So much for someone else planning this. So C lead and we headed out.

I was sorely disappointed at the roads and lack of scenery so convinced C to head towards Hwy 441 and Lake Rabun. C didn't need much arm twisting since he was itching to ride those small twisties at Rabun and Seed lakes.

Absolutely nothing exciting happened on this ride. We rode, we gased up, we took a short photo op after the twisties then headed home.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Riding Between the Storms and Thumbing Your Nose at the Devil

After the rains came rolling back on Friday it was questionable if we would be able to ride on Saturday. We waited a little while to see if the rain would continue to sprinkle down or if it was safe to ride. Determining that it was "safe" just cool, we suited up, hopped on the bikes and headed northeast. We rode the freeways for a little while just to get out of town. But we veered off somewhere and took roads that lead to someplace.

We took turns at random and just marveled at the large spread ranches and cattle just a few miles outside of town. As always, there was some "in-fill" going on. But at least these places still had some land and room.

We happened past a small county park and had to double back to take a look at it: Sells Mill Park.

There is a small parking lot, a small picnic/covered area and an old mill that ground corn and provided electricity into the 1990's. It looks like the mill has been restored, but I'm not sure if tours are available. Couldn't get to the mill and not much information on the web.

We enjoyed a little stretch and some photography ops.

Once we headed out again it was one adventure after another. As C passed a small housing tract this dog the size of a mini-horse came shooting out into the street chasing him at full speed. Luckily C was oblivious and not affected. But it presented me with a problem of yet another dog gunning for me. This dog was running across the street full tilt and would have been mown down if there were any cars. Once he missed C he turned and put me in his sights. I slowed...wondering what this dog was going to do. He started towards me, but I clutched and revved the engine and started heading right towards him, slowly. He decided that I wasn't worth it and trotted past me as I gunned it out of mouth-range. I just wanted to go and kick its owners where it hurt. This could have been disastrous if I had been riding any closer to C.

Ok. Take a break at the next stop sign to stop the shaking and noticed a burning electrical smell coming from my bike. Take a look/sniff around and see that the sleeve for one of my lights is touching the head and melting a little. We zip tie it up and off we go.

Reach a little town called Jefferson, but stopping for the stop light and I realize the burning electrical smell is getting much stronger. We pull into a gas station and have another sniff-fest over the bike. Taking the seat off we conclude it is near the battery...we think. But nothing is hot. So we give in and just turn around to take the bike to the dealer.

Once there they immediately start dismantling the bike. They remove the tank and think it is the ZF controller. But it isn't hot. Then it seems the smell is strongest at the ABS unit. But the diagnositics show that it is fine. For interest, they remove the starter. Whoa! Overwhelming smell of burnt electrical. I'm also wondering what the fine black powder coating the gears means.

So...left my baby at the shop for the weekend. Don't have an answer yet for what the problem is. C believes it is the clutch... Hmmm....

Hopefully my buddies at Blue Moon will get it fixed soon. Would like to ride this week!

Moral? Don't thumb your nose at the devil and tease C for his morning mishaps. I just knew this was gonna happen.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Another gorgeous day came peeping through between uncharacteristically cool days and another big storm front. With nothing else to was time to hop on the bike. I was torn between going out or doing nothing much at home simply because I wanted a riding partner. I just have to concede that isn't going to come my way anytime soon.

So after running some morning errands and coming home and eating breakfast it was time to face the bike. I combed the house for all my gear. And even had to clean the truck out of our hiking gear to find it all. The day was fine for sitting in the sun but was a little chilly to encounter at speed on a bike. Layering was necessary and I needed to find the layers! After suiting up and getting the equipment found, attached and programmed it was time to be off.

I am just now learning of the love of not really requiring a destination. It has taken me a long time to learn, and I desperately need to practice it. Learning to ride, I have always focused better when I have a specific goal (i.e. destination) to show as my definitive end point. It meant that I had "made it". But with my comfort level increasing so much I am learning to just enjoy taking any old road. The older the better. I decided on a direction that I haven't been to...and headed for Washington, GA.

I'm not quite sure what is up with my GPS, but I let it lead me despite me not having a clue which route it was ultimately going to take. Once it insisted on south, tho, I knew it was leading me to I-20. The long way to Washington. Why? I don't know.

I let it take me where it would, meaning that I was going to have to go through heavily traveled Conyers and Covington...and ride on the interstate. But I'm getting much more comfortable and confident with it.

Once on the highway, it was a straight shot for 50 miles. I had fun dodging the semi's. :-) I was also able to sit back and enjoy the scenery a little and not have to worry about anyone either leading or following. I was able to take this in on my own and start to really understand being at one with myself on the bike. It was liberating and relaxing.

When I reached my exit I stopped at the nearest gas station and filled up, the bike with fuel and myself with water. Took the time to call C and let him know where I was. But he didn't answer! ;-)

I continued on my way and wanted to make a little detour to find an elusive Revolutionary War memorial that I had read about the night before. I found the first turn without incident, but the second turn eluded me. No problems. Just meant more riding for me on the empty back roads.

I loved the communities I was riding through. The people were friendly and waved from their vehicles. They even waited extraordinary times for me to pass, instead of turning in front of me. Turning onto this tiny road that one wouldn't expect to see much traffic on...and up comes a police officer...waving. I passed a well tended farm house and barn with a nicely restored Model T poking its nose out. Something I wished I had stopped and taken a picture of: fire hydrants...with a sign posted next to each reading Fire Hydrant. I'll get one my next time through.

I actually made it to Washington and stopped into the Visitors Center. C and I had visited the Robert Toombs State Historic Site about 8 years ago and haven't been back. I was able to pick up some interesting information and a walking tour map. First order of business was to eat! The nice lady at the visitor center recommended Talk of the Town across the square. YUMMM!! I tried the special turkey breast sammich and fruit.

This is where the trip was fated. The restaurant even called them sammiches!!!

And my turkey sammich was wonderful!!

After stuffing my tank I walked back across the square to visit the restored Fitzpatrick Hotel. This hotel has an interesting history, originally built in 1899 with the hotel starting service in 1902. The hotel was closed in 1952 and remained vacant until 2002. 50 years of deterioration! There are "before" pictures showing roofs caved in, rooms open to the elements and trees actually growing on the second and third floors! The hotel was purchased in 2002, restored and reopened for business in 2004. It sports 16 lovely rooms with tall ceilings, tall doors, stained glass windows and period furniture. Nice, nice, nice.

I took a quick walk around the square and snapped a few pictures. But didn't do anything of the walking tour.

Time to head home. Decided to take the "shorter" route and made it in 2 hours. Just in time for C to roll the garage doors up and let me drive right into the garage. Now I just need to clean the bug remains off of the windshield. My little 215 mile route was great! Can start planning that cross-country trip now... ;-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's been rainy and cold here. The reprieve came on Saturday. The rains let up early Friday, the clouds cleared out a little, the sun came through and the high pressure helped it all. Saturday was looking to be a perfect day to get out on the bikes and stretch the legs. The high was supposed to be 74 and all sunny all day.

Alex traded in his Sportster on a V-Rod and hasn't had the chance to really take it out. So this was a mercy ride... Yeah. Right.

Even though the day was going to be warm doesn't mean it started out that way. We awoke to temperatures of 44 degrees at 8 AM. This was going to be a cold start today. We were planning to meet Alex at 10 and were hoping to take a little ride on our own before then. We suited up, readied the house and dogs, started the bikes and promptly discovered another pre-ride problem: the rear exhaust pipe on the Sportster was detached.

It brought back memories of my mother and Henry building the house in Arizona. There was a time when we came to expect a vehicle would break down just prior to a trip to Arizona. I would have to ask my mother for a list as I don't remember them all. I just remember a break down could be expected. Oddly, my car was the only one that could regularly be relied upon. Once we even had to abandon plans to take the van and transfer everything to my car at the last minute. And mind you, I drove a 1963 Dodge. It was a wonderful car.

So far we have pulled the bikes out of the garage and had to perform 3 surgeries, last-minute, on C's bike: 2 battery jumps and 1 exhaust repair. My bike has always started and run flawlessly.

This time C discovered that his rear exhaust pipe was loose. Last month C took his bike in for warranty work on his exhaust pipes. The manifold between the pipes was broken. What is so annoying is that the mechanic that fixed the bike never re-attached the rear exhaust pipe. So C has been driving the last couple hundred miles with a problem.

C quickly fixed the exhaust problem and we were on our way. But we had to go directly to Alex's.

We planned a short route to keep Alex on the prescribed "break in" on his engine. And for a change we planned the route for the west side. Ok. We cheated a little and had it go a little north, but not far into the mountains. Actually just barely nicked them and headed south again.

Thought up this route a couple weeks ago when I was hoping that Kim could also go. If you remember, Kim and I took our first motorcycle class together and rode together when we could last year. Unfortunately she hasn't been riding since Thanksgiving and she needs a break in ride too. So I wanted to keep this on their side of town and easy. Looking at the map I had my inspiration seeing the town name Funkhouser. Seemed interesting...

Unfortunately there really isn't a Funkhouser. We rode right through and there wasn't anything there but an intersection and a house. Didn't even get a town sign to document the area. So we stopped a couple miles down the road in Fairmount, got some gas and told some tall tales. We hadn't seen many bikes on the road, but we sure saw lots of them pass by as the weather warmed up.

We all had evening engagements so headed back towards Alex's. After dropping him off we headed towards the lake for the rare ride of just us two. Our first glimpse of the lake revealed that the storms we have been having definitely helped Lanier. The lake has recovered about 8 feet, but still has 10 or so feet to go.

We stopped at an old boat launch, snapped some promo shots (mostly of my bike since I was doing the snapping) and soaked up some sun.

C and I enjoy talking with people about the bikes. We especially enjoy determining which camp they belong in. We've discovered that people wanting to talk with us are either Harley lovers or BMW lovers. Once they reveal their preference we internally laugh at the blind eye turned to the other bike.

Once again, laying in the sun at the boat dock, someone walked up and asked how I like my R bike. My general snicker and fool's grin always tells the truth. He is a K man from long ago. Owned 4 and would love to have any one of them back. Used to sell beemers at the dealership that I work with. Never once laid eyes on the Harley, nor acknowledged it was there. We've had the similar encounters of the reverse, but we always have fun. This time Beemers 1, HD 0.

And as far as those pre-ride break downs, I know I am not above having problems. I take care of my bike and keep on top of issues. Little things happen to everyone and I am certainly not above them. Something stupid can happen to my bike just like C's. And as for that car...when it did fail right before a trip to Arizona? It was an absolute doozy. I just hope the beemer doesn't have a similar breakdown.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Introducing: The Ride

Meet the baby.

2007 BMW R1200R

This wasn't my starter bike...but it was the bike that I certainly wanted.

I brought the bike home in August, but really fell in love when the bar risers were installed in September.

Each day the ride feels better and the grin grows bigger.