Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Electric Motorcycles.........Oh Goody

Is there just no escaping the "greening" of America!? From our "Community Organizer in Chief" to the maniacal recycling eco-thug brats of Cub Scout troop local 9, it seems that everyone is out to "modify" my behavior when it comes to carrying out their environmental jihad to save this great big blue orb from.......well, from me....and you. Jeez.......people, can we just give it a rest?
The huh?
Apparently not..........if the "we know what's best for you crowd" gets their way (and enough fat government grants to fund the madness) electric motorcycles will be coming to an outlet near you, and soon. Oh joy. Yup, companies like Zero (could they be referring to my interest in their product I wonder?) and Brammo are busily toiling away in a selfless quest to break our "addiction" to oil and the inherent evils of internal combustion. Really?

Before we examine the dubious benefits of electrified two wheeled transport, may I just take a moment to reflect on the utter idiocy of that whole "addicted to oil" argument that human hating lefties, and their handmaidens in the lamestream media feel compelled to beat us over the head with? Fact is, all modern economies are petroleum based, oil is the lifeblood of the world as we know it........nearly all technological advances of the last hundred or so years, our standard of living, individual liberty, even our very personal health depends in no small measure to the availability of cheap (relatively) and abundant in the form of oil. Do we say humans are "addicted" to food, water, and shelter? Of course not, they are simply fundamental elements critical to our is oil fundamental to our "economic survival" for the foreseeable future. Wishing it otherwise won't make it so, sorry Sunshine.

 Besides, where are we gonna get all this wonderful "clean" go juice anyway? Think about it, we've got a president and CON-gress that couldn't organize panic on a sinking submarine in charge of formulating our nations "energy policy". The result so far? No new oil, no new natural gas, no new coal, and no new nukes. Let's see, that leaves us with bovine flatulence, left-over organic cooking oil, sun-light and warm breezes. Perfect. All of those aforementioned "green alternatives" account for less than 10% of the nations total energy grid. And the best minds on the planet say that it won't be possible to get that number above 25% in the next twenty years, regardless of policy or technical breakthroughs. Groovy.........guess we'll be burning a lot of candles in the meantime (if it's not a Spare the Air Day of course). There isn't a lack of oil, there's a lack of will. Are there any grown-ups left in DC?

Transformers................get it, Transformers!?
Oh, and just wait until the backpack and flip flop set realize that the feds are gonna have to make up all that lost gas tax revenue somewhere..........hmmm, a kilowatt/hr tax maybe, how about a miles driven tax (CBO's already on that one), or perhaps a "plug-in" surcharge..........that sounds nifty. Perfect "motivation" for getting all us sheep on those bullet trains to Fresno don't ya know? Remember, it's not about the environment at's about the good of the collective trumping the rights and liberty of the individual. I'm just saying..............carbon credits anyone??

But what about electric motorcycles? What indeed. The fundamental issues with electric bikes is the same one that has plagued cars for years, and why you're not driving one right range, charging time and power. Given the current state of battery technology you can either have power (and to be honest, electric motors are very efficient in terms of delivering gobs of instant power) or range, but not both. Want maximum top end? You're only gonna get twenty minutes of run time. Want to ride for three hours? Well then prepare for a top speed limited to about 20mph. It's just the way it is..........and more so given the design imperatives of a motorcycle........there's only so much in the way of battery weight that's practical. Which brings us to many of us are going to want to ride for 30 minutes, only to have to spend the next two hours charging the bike? Yeah, I thought so.

The only environment where I can see current technology having even a remote chance of success would be in a highly dense urban setting. Short trips, lots of time to charge........if you can actually find a charging station that is (and no anarchist punk is gonna make it his life mission to snip all those charging station cords, no way.......heh, heh, heh). Scooters.........that's your motorbike EV of the future. Maybe.

As for larger machines.........say an electric Harley Dyna, I dunno. As Yogi Berra said, "prediction is hard, especially about the future". I for one have very little interest riding a machine that could have been built by Kitchen Aid......A proper motorcycle should possess just a bit more character than say, my fridge.

I want the clatter of valves, the rhythmic slamming of pistons, the reassuring cadence of a V-Twin exhaust burbling at idle.........not the soulless whine of a blender. I want the sensory overload that is four stroke internal combustion........suck, squeeze, bang, blow.......just as God intended. Keep the appliances in the home........not on the open road. Let's just hope that if the enviro-nazis get their way, and it's electric bikes for all, Apple will come up with a "moto-sounds app" so I can at least still hear what a motorcycle used to sound like..........let's see, here's a good one; Harley Dyna, straight pipes............dammit the future sucks...........

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sturgis By The Numbers....And Some Random Stuff

Total number of miles ridden - 3,341 (this is my mileage, "door to door", other folks in the group would have slightly different totals)

Number of states visited - 6 (Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and South Dakota)

Number of times the group (or members of the group) were pulled over by the law - 2

Quarts of oil burned on the trip - 0! (Take that all you Harley Haters......that includes a nearly twenty year old machine too!)

The number of times the group had to breakout the rain gear - 0 (it was a charmed trip, no doubt)

Total number insects sacrificed by our chrome and steel - 376,987 (this is only an estimate)

Motorcycle accidents witnessed - 1 ( the dude survived)

Random Thoughts -

"As much as the Harley crowd takes flak for being "posers" (after twenty years in the business I can tell you that Harley riders don't have a monopoly on that charge), once you get waaaaaay out on the open highway, the vast majority of the machines you see are indeed Harley-Davidsons; apparently there's a fair number of "real riders" among the Harley fraternity."

"Once you get within about a 200 miles radius of Sturgis, the whole "rider wave" thing goes out the window. It's not that folks don't want to throw a welcome wave to their fellow's just that there are too damn many, your hand would never be on the bar.

"When coming into Sturgis always avoid exit 32, instead head down to the Deadwood cutoff (I think it's exit 30) there's far less traffic. And the first chance you get bear left, and try to use Williams or Park street, plenty of parking and no traffic."

" A good number of folks that attend the Rally are new or "low mileage" riders.......keep your head on a swivel, cars aren't your only concern."
Uh oh, looks like Nate got busted

"If you look like a Hollywood stylist put together your "biker duds", you'll probably never be mistaken for the real deal"

"Chaps...........for cold weather folks, if the mercury is over, say 65, leave them in the saddle bags."

"It's super cool that many of the local hotels/motels provide towels to wipe down bikes.........not cool that some are poly blends (only use 100% cotton), very bad for the finish."

"Score a shirt from Pee Wee' me, way better than the tons of "official" souvenir crap you'll find on Main Street."
Stunting Sporty, don't see that everyday

"Bike Week is in Daytona, Sturgis is a Rally...........there is no Sturgis "Bike Week"..........better toss that t-shirt!"

"I'll just never get that whole "Boss Hoss" thing...........a V-8, OK, so what."

"Hands down the best breakfast of the trip was had at "The Cowpoke Cafe" in Lovelock, if you're going through town, stop in and say hi to Rosa."

"If you have any interest in American Firearms, the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody is a must.........give yourself some time."

"The Full Throttle Bar has some of the best bartenders in town, forget the fact that they're all incredibly hot, they're friendly too!"
Mark, Nate, Vince, JP, and Hank....until next time!

"There are few experiences in life that can rival a 12 day road trip with close is short, round up your buds and get out and ride. I'm glad I did, thanks guys.........especially Vince, you made it happen."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sturgis Or Die, Day Twelve....Home Again

Last day. It's a hard admission to make, I don't want this thing to be over, to be done, not just yet. The five of us have jelled, we're a unit, we ride as one, and we're riding well, we're ready for whatever the road and circumstance throw at us. When we're not riding we're laughing, or eating......both activities that a sane person can't really get enough of, and I don't want to give that up.  But the cold truth is....last day, time to ride home, back to our separate, "real world" lives. It's sunny, perfect really, but not my mood. I'm gonna miss all of this. Riding everyday, new people, new sights, new adventures........we were explorers, men on the move. Damn.

We've got some miles to throw down, nearly 500, so there's no time for a leisurely breakfast, it's 7:30am and we're firing up the machines, Nate gives JP a shove and the Dyna chugs to life, they got this bump start thing down! We pull out into the cool, high desert sun, it's not blazing yet, but it will be.

Nothing fancy today, it's pretty much highway 80 straight west across Nevada, up and over Donner Pass, down through Sacramento.....homeward bound. No long stops. We cruise along at about 80mph, there's little traffic and we only see one trooper. Gas and go. Breakfast today is in Winnemucca, a sort of casino/diner joint. Local kids are playing around the entrance while their parents throw down nickels and quarters hoping for the "big" payoff. No beautiful people here, the place is a last chance, last hope for folks without much of either. It could be me, but there's something just a little bit sad about the whole scene. We walk into the diner, friendly servers, lots of food....pretty good too. A hostess, probably a babe during the Kennedy administration, strode up and asked, ".....whose jacket is that on that Harley?" We look through the window, it's JP's. "You know, kids here are just like kids anywhere". We get the message, JP walks outside and removes the temptation. Nice lady.

I have to say that throughout our odyssey I was struck by the number of people, and not just fellow riders, that admonished us to "be sure and ride safe". Genuine concern, it was nice, and it happened a lot. No sideways glances, no disapproving stares.........for the most part the fact we were bikers started folks talking, our motorcycles initiated smiles, thumbs up and approving nods. We were, for a brief period of time the embodiment of freedom and adventure, and people recognized it. It was humbling and very cool, all at once.

Finishing our last real meal together, maybe we take just a bit more time, tell just one more story, laugh about something dumb one of us did. Last day kind of stuff. The check for each, we finally got that down, only took ten days! Fueled up, body and bikes, we roar west. Strong crosswinds make themselves felt all the way to Reno, but we're seasoned high mileage veterans now, no big deal. We're making good time. Good I guess.
Vince, JP, Nate, and Mark....last stop

It's "Hot August Nights" time in Reno, there's hot rods everywhere, I'm gonna have to come up and check this out sometime. We decide to pull into Reno Harley Davidson to have a chat with their techs, just to see what they thought about the Dyna's current "issues". Good chance for a cold soda too, and a gander at the bikes, never a bad thing. Their service manager tells us what we already know, it'll take hours to diagnose the "stumbling" problem, and even if they can, they aren't going to have the parts to fix it (the Dyna's almost 20 years old fercrissakes). If we wanna get home today we're gonna have to steal a line from Vince's favorite biker comedy and "just ride!" (the name of the movie has been deliberately omitted by the author simply because I hate it, so there!). So it's gloved fingers crossed and west we go......

We gas up in Boomtown before we begin the accent up the pass. Only 20 miles to the summit, if JP can keep the Harley moving, we're in the clear. We decide on a more mellow pace, no more than 65, we don't want to push our luck, or the Dyna. I take point, Nate on my six, Vince and Mark flank the boy. We're a unit now.

The miles click off, JP stays fixed in the rearview, so far so good. Not much farther, Donner Lake to the left, we're gonna make it, no "mechanicals" this trip! Up and over the summit, just an easy roll home now. It's cool at this altitude, feels great. It'll heat up again soon as we descend into the foothills. In a day filled with "lasts", we stop in Auburn for one last gas stop. This will be the final time of the trip that we'll be able to talk to each other (OK, Vince and I have the Chatterboxes, but you get the idea), share a laugh, just hang out. We have some cold drinks, snap a group pic, and it's time to go. Handshakes won't do, it's hugs all around, it's been a hell of a trip, better than any of us (including the Sturgis Vets in our group) had imagined. The weather, the roads, the bikes, the scenery, was all perfect. An adventure of a lifetime.........but not quite done yet.
Nate's Road Glide front and center

Still some miles to under our wheels. Head west on 80 through Roseville, skirt the edges of Sacramento. Mark stays on 80 as the rest of us turn south on "the five", he's heading to Winters. It's funny what a trip like this can reveal about others and ourselves. I've know Mark for years, well over twenty to be honest, and yet I had no idea about his encyclopedic knowledge of western history, but it sure enlightened our journey. Funny what you learn.....

Down 5 we go, boring, lots of traffic, smells like cow shit......I could be done with this. Exit onto highway 12, straight shot to Rio Vista, then left on 160, we're nearly there. It's super windy, it's the delta, welcome home. Vince and I talk a bit, I tell him what a great job he did in planning the route, hell, he planned the whole adventure! Great job my friend, great job. Over the Antioch bridge, I take the Brentwood exit, so does Nate, he's got some friends to see. One last glance over my left shoulder, Vince and JP motor pass and wave, on to Pittsburg and home.

I make my way through town, turn down my street and park in front of the house, and just like that it's done. Over 3,341 miles in 12 days, an adventure of a lifetime with four of the finest people a guy could ever know. Last day? No way, we're gonna do this again...........there's no "last" about it!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Maybe It Is Just A Club Afterall

Spend enough time in the Harley world and the topic of "motorcycle gangs" or more correctly, clubs is bound to come up. From cheesy B-movies (Quentin Tarantino's "Hell Ride" being a notably exception to a generally awful's deliberately campy, sexy, and it works, put it in the queue), the latest best selling "undercover" expose', high profile busts, rival club wars, to the local charity poker run, motorcycle clubs have played an integral role in American biker culture for over sixty years.

I'm thinking this is one bike you'd want to leave alone
 Whether many of us want to admit it or not, the mere sight of "outlaw" bikers is enough to evoke a multitude of sometimes conflicting emotions; fear, envy, loathing, and if we're really honest, on occasion, a desire to tell the man to #&$ off and join up ourselves. And why not? The "outlaw" biker is free, living life on his terms...........they don't bother conforming to the norms and conventions of the typical suburban square. They make their own rules........taking what they want, when they want, the rest of us be damned.

Respect. The "outlaw" biker's very existence demands it.........and we give it, if for no other reason than we know they won't abide by our overly PC notions of civility, so we may just be in for some trouble if we don't. Had one too many at the local watering hole, and want to test your sand.......while I wouldn't advise it, the gents with the colors over in the corner will oblige you every time. It's a very grown up version of the school playground, only these guys never back down. Show them respect, and you'll get it. Stay out of their business (and trust me, they're so not interested in the slightest in yours), and they'll stay clear of yours. It's as simple as that.

But here's the deal, where does a club end and a criminal gang begin? Are all club members, regardless of their individual records (and more often lack thereof) worthy of seemingly endless local and federal investigations, harassment,  and surveillance merely because they chose to join an organization a bit less benign than the Kiwanis  I'm not so sure. And I'll tell you why.
Simply put, the case against the clubs just doesn't add up for me, at least not all of it. For starters, if one were going to consistently engage in act of criminality, why wear a "uniform" that tells John Law just exactly who you are? Typical crooks like to be a bit more stealthy don't ya think? I can't recall members of the Mafia sporting "La Cosa Nostra" stick pins, or seeing them meeting in clubhouses with a giant logo over the door. I'm just saying. If our "outlaw" friends are all really criminals, they must not be too bright, which brings me to my next point.

Club members strolling on Virginia St. during Street Vibrations
Drug Money. Read any article about motorcycle "gangs" and inevitably you'll come across statistics of the amount of drug activity, prostitution, and extortion rackets they control, the figures are always in the tens of millions of dollars. In my home state of California, the biker clubs are high profile targets....... it's claimed that the clubs control over 75% of the meth trade! Wow, that seems like a lot (warning, on the topic of drugs, your humble scribe is waaay out of his depth, having never done any drug stronger than Advil), at least it would surely bring the club a ton of dough. Right!?

It doesn't seem so. During my years in the motorcycle business, I've had the opportunity to work and interact with more than a few members of the various clubs, both as customers of the business, and as promotional partners for various events. And here's the shocker, I've yet to meet a rich club member, as a matter of fact, all the ones I know have day jobs, some really difficult jobs, some well paying, but mostly blue collar. Never seen one driving a Bentley, none that I know live in tony neighborhoods, and most don't even have high dollar custom Harleys. That just doesn't conform to my ideal of drug kingpins that are knocking down millions of dollars a month!? Where's the beef...........when you're pulling down big money, it shows.......especially in the world of the average drug dealer. I know, I've seen Scarface, come on, not even a mansion!?

Lastly, it seems that no matter how extensive (which is code for damn, that cost the taxpayers a ton!) and sexy the undercover sting, it never really nets anything. You know, like actual convictions. A few guys get carted off to the joint, spend the night and are back out on the street.....waste of dough. Well, except for the book or movie deal the undercover cops manage to score, but that's another story. The fact is that in the vast majority of cases, the allegations are never proven out......unlike in other areas of organized crime investigations.

Boozefighters boogie at the Full Throttle
So what's the story, are all club members just misunderstood choir boys relentlessly hassled by the man? Hardly. No doubt there are individual members that do their share of criminal deeds, and let's face it, club culture is gonna be much more tolerant of such shenanigans.....these guys are not saints, and they'll tell you so. I'm just saying that the high visibility of the average club makes them by far an easier target for law enforcement "attention", more than their actual "crimes" would warrant. If this weren't the case, I think we'd see far more of the aforementioned stings resulting in major jail time.........seems logical.

Looks like the "truth' is once again occupying the middle of the road along with that white line and dead skunk. For the record, the average club member is one bad hombre, best to steer clear. You and I, no matter how romantic it may seem, will never be club member, and that's for the best. The very fact we're not means it wasn't the life for us.........and that's fine. But what it doesn't mean is that all those folks that willingly choose the "outlaw" biker lifestyle and join a club are criminals. Not by a long shot. Sometimes a club really is just a club...........

Sturgis Or Die, Day Eleven

By the looks of the parking lot and the bikes (with the exception of was covered this time!) it had rained quite a bit overnight. The sky is grey, but the forecast isn't calling for any rain, which is a good thing because we've got some miles to do today (420 to be exact) and some high mountain passes to climb. But first thing first as they say. Need food.

With Vince still in full hibernation mode, I struck out with the lads to score some grub. Nothing fancy, just something to get us going until lunch, last nights fantastic Mexican food feast was still keeping any serious hunger pangs at bay. Just a snack. We stop by the Harley Shop to score a cool "Jackson" t-shirt. The joint was staffed by an amazing array of young lovelies…….coincidence, I think not, and don’t care. Only wish I had my camera handy!

Doughnuts, that would be good.....the lads stop at a Taco Bell (no breakfast burrito for me.....not enough Zantac left), I hit a gas station convenience store for some tasty powdered doughnut gems.......sweet. I also pick up a travel mug that Vince had spied the night before..........he's been adding to his collection throughout the trip. Hey, everybody's got to collect something right!?
Our crew, plus one, at a gas stop somewhere in Utah

Walking back to the hotel, looking at the surrounding mountains, clomping along the wooden sidewalks, catching the friendly waves of locals and tourists alike, I'm thinking this is a place I have to get back to for a more lengthy "look see". Jackson is an amazing place, might even be a place where one could move...........just maybe. Oh, and in case you were as confused as I was; "Jackson Hole" refers to the surrounding area, whereas, "Jackson" just refers to the town itself. There, just thought you should know. Whatever the name, I'll be back, there's no doubt about that.

Returning to the hotel, Vince and Mark are loading up their motorcycles, it's just about time to hit the road. The grey is giving way to more sun, and the temperature is cool, this promises to be a good day. we'll be long gone by the time the predicted afternoon thunderstorms appear. Ready to go, Nate gives JP's Dyna a push, it fires right up. It seems that the new battery didn't fully cure the machines starting issues....something in the starter itself is hurting. But no worries, as long as Nate's legs hold out we're all good.

We head west on highway 22 and over Teton Pass (8,431 ft summit). It's an amazing road with plenty of breathtaking vistas, sheer cliffs and forest........some of the grades are 10%! On the lower portions of the pass, on both the east and west side are some of the most amazing homes I've ever seen.............guess other folks have found out what a fantastic corner of the world this Jackson Wyoming place is.....damn. We cruise along drinking in the scene as it unfolds curve to curve.
The bikes won't get much rest today....too many miles to cover

Dropping into Idaho the temperatures begin to rise, off come the jackets, on go the vests, some opt for just a t-shirt. Our luck with the weather gods continues! Our luck with the mechanical gods, is giving us just a bit of a test however. On a gradual upgrade along highway 30 just west of American Falls, JP's machine begins to lose power and bog. My Chatterbox squawks a warning from Vince, a quick glance in the rearview confirms it, headlights pulling off to the side of the road. Dammit!

Nate and I are stopped about a mile ahead of JP, Mark and Vince, with no way to turn around we wait. I can hear Vince talking to JP trying to diagnose the issue with the nearly twenty year old Harley. "It just started bogging out" was JP's response. There's not much we can do here, we need to get the thing moving and see if we can get it looked at in town......any town. Staying cool and calm Vince tells JP we're gonna have to do the best we can and "ride around the problem" until (and if) we can get it repaired. Time to suck it up. A quick push and the Lowrider fires up, we're back on the road...........but nervous, this is no place for a serious mechanical. JP rises to the occasion and keeps the bike moving, heading west.
JP hoping that the Dyna goes the distance

Next gas stop; Rupert, Idaho. Rupert is a special place for us,  it's the home of one Cal Rayborn II (yeah, the son of THAT Cal Rayborn). Cal raced for us years back, and gave us lots of wins and championships at Sears Point Raceway in the AFM Formula Pacific series. Too bad we won't have time to look him up. Gotta figure out what's up with JP's machine. Pulling into a gas station we assess the situation.

Taking a closer look we find that the petcock appears to be cracked, and is leaking a fair amount of fuel. This could be the least it's a problem we can deal with. A quick application of some Super Glue, fingers crossed, we think we may have saved the day. Time and miles will tell. Heading west we see what could be the first serious weather threat of the entire trip. Fairly active cells are developing with lots of lightening and precipitation. We might just have to break out the raingear after all.

By the time we hit Twin Falls, it's looking really grim.......the good news? JP's bike is keeping pace and running well......all hale Super Glue!! We're on the edge of a thunderstorm and taking some hits.....hail hurts when you're wearing fingerless gloves! Off to the south, and not too far away, it's pouring waterfalls of rain....same to the north, but the road directly ahead is eerily free of serious downpours....charmed we are. A few miles more and we turn south on 93 at Twin Falls, across the Snake River is that thing that a golf course down there!? And what's with the wind sock on the bridge.......just then we get smacked with a sucker punch of cross wind....guess that's why.

All the while the weather is clearing and we remain dry. JP's Harley hasn't missed a beat. It's all good. Motoring south on 93 we cut a swath through the high desert of northern Nevada.......sage brush, rock and sand for as far as the eye can see. It's desolate and beautiful, and with the exception of Jackpot, a border town just south of the Idaho state line, there's very little evidence of civilization. We "two lane" it all the way to Wells, where we hook up with highway 80 for the short hop to Elko. It's been a great day of riding; amazing scenery, some fun roads, and just a little drama. One more to go and we're home.........

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's Time To Give Something Back.....Earthquake Relief For Japan

Any of us that have had the privilege of toiling in the motorcycle industry (yeah, like that's really work, but I won't tell if you won't) know the debt we owe the Japanese people...........quite simply, if it were not for the "Big Four" (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki) the powersports industry in the U.S.A. would not exist as we know it today. From technical innovation to mainstreaming the sport of motorcycling the Japanese have been at the forefront.

Even if you've never thrown a leg over a machine from the land of the rising sun, they've influenced your ride (and most likely for the better) in some form or fashion. Your passion for motorcycling (yes, that means you too, Harley-Davidson riding badass), has been fueled by the good folks in Japan, and now they're hurting.

We've all seen the horrific images of devastation; massive debris fields, upended cars and homes, scores of newly homeless victims and the lurking threat of a smoldering nuclear power plant. It's easy to be overwhelmed, or worse yet desensitized by the none-stop news feed. But the fact is, the Japanese people need our help, and the help of the world (Japan's status as a first world country does not preclude the necessity of outside assistance..........think Katrina)

My suggestion would be to give what you can to the American Redcross ( or Samaritans Purse ( , as they have been an active partners in organizing relief since the quake struck. You can be absolutely confident that your money will go where it should and do the most good. And the next time you ride, you'll feel just a little bit more connected to brothers you never thought you had..........

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bug Off, It's Spring Baby!

Moments before impact
Ahhh the telltale signs of spring; chirping birds, income taxes, new Real Housewives of the OC episodes, trying to remember where the gym is.........and bugs, &%$# bugs!! Apologies up front to all you Chromies still mired in snow, dealing with early flooding, and coping with freezing temperatures........but you bought your ticket, you knew what you were getting into so deal. It's sunny out here on the left coast ("left coast" appropriate is that!?) and we're riding my friends.......well, actually, we never stopped, but I don't want to rub it in...........heh, heh, heh.

Insects, bugs, the flotsam and jetsam of the air, big liquidy puss sacks of splatter and rock hard exoskeleton armoured mini missiles, winged suicide angels..........infinite in number, less intent on survival than your average jihadist, they lurk just out of sight, hovering in the shadows, waiting for the opportune moment to grimly carry out their singular "mission" to extinguish their pathetic, fleeting existence just that much sooner. Preferred method of execution?

Death by motorcycle.........whether they off themselves on your faceshield, jacket, or really doesn't matter, they'll find you, and when they do, they'll pull you into their macabre dance of doom.......we're all powerless against their fanatical fatal onslaught. We can only hope to deal with the grim aftermath as best we can.

A tad dramatic? Yeah, maybe, but cut me some twine here, how else am I gonna get you to slog through a missive about bug removal........really, how? In my former life as motorcycle industry insider (ah, those were the days.........) I had the opportunity to sample all sorts of goodies; from jackets to boots, chains to communicators, as well as, all manner of chemical and potion that passed itself off as "cleaners". Some of these products you've heard of, others never made the light of day, and usually for good reason.

I'm happy to report that most "over-the-counter" cleaners on the market do a reasonable job of living up to their claims, and I have no doubt that all of you have a particular favorite that has served you well over the years and miles. But when it comes to bug gut removal, yours truly has found one remedy that performs far better than all the none.

Wanna know just what that magic potion is...........wait for it, wait for water, and a 100% cotton towel. Yup, that's it, what, you were expecting some tiger blood and sulphuric acid elixir!? Look the fact is that nothing does a better job of clearing insect remains from your machine than hot/warm water (works even better when the bugs have had a chance to petrify before removal), just dip one end of the towel in the water, rub of the bug juice, and wipe dry. Done. No harm to the surface, painted, chrome or otherwise, which can not always be said of chemically based cleaners.

Don't ask me why, but the H2O method is less prone to streaking and really buffs up well on chrome, while common cleaners and waxes take much more effort to ensure they don't spot or streak. Just try it, and you'll see..........and if you employ my decidedly low tech (and so very "green", upon completing the task simply use the remaining liquid to water the foliage, you're feeling better about yourself already, huh!?) you'll be shocked by the results..........eww, starting to sound a little "infomercially", time to go.

So get out there and ride dammit, and the next time you're faced with buffing up the "killing fields" that is the front of your motorcycle, you'll know what to thanks necessary, just doing my job. Oh, one last thing, always resist the temptation to wipe a fresh kill from your faceshield while riding, I can assure you that whatever visual impairment you're suffering will be tripled by your me on this one..........

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sturgis Or Die, Day Ten

Been looking forward to this leg of the trip since Vince showed me the itinerary way back in December. Today will have us head west on highway 16 along the Shoshone River, enter Yellowstone National Park through the East Gate, ride through the park, then exit at the south gate for the final push south to Jackson Hole Wyoming The scenery and roads promise to be nothing short of spectacular. But first things first.
Main Street action in Cody, we're gonna miss this town

Today’s ride distance is only around 180 miles, so we can relax and take our time saying goodbye to Cody. Vince, Mark and I stroll over to the Laundromat to pick up our clothes (yes.....I've managed yet again to avoid washing clothes!), we pay by the pound (dry of course). The stuff weighed more than you'd think, but totally reasonable. It's back to the rooms to finish packing up, we've gotten into the habit of filling up with gas when we roll into town, that way we have one less thing to do when we're trying to jet.

The youngsters are still trying to recover from their little Hardin adventure, so we let them sleep a while longer. We've got some shopping to do! Oh, and we might sneak in some doughnuts's the one food group we haven't had the pleasure of consuming this trip. That would change today.

Since we started this trip Vince and I had wanted to pick up something to commemorate the trip, something lasting and meaningful. The tattoo thing was out, at least for a while, we needed to come up with a design that we both liked and then agree on an artist. I already have about seven tat's, but Vince has none, and he was apprehensive to just "dive into" a shop in Sturgis and have a go. Nate and I kept pushing, the old peer pressure thing, but no dice. We're thinking of using the Street & Steel Deadman's Hand skull design and having Nate at DV-8 (he's done all my stuff and is really talented) do the ink.........stay tuned.

OK, what else might signify our trip?? Matching knives, that might be good. Yeah, assuming you can agree on a style!  Cody has a number of great stores, we cruise around town stopping into the Custom Cowboy Shop, a store that Vince had spotted the night before. I'm leaning toward a Case straight blade beauty, but there's just one rub, the stock scabbard doesn't fit quite right. No worries, in the basement is one Gary Ray, master saddle maker, and he will craft a handmade scabbard custom fit to my knife. Sold! How cool is that? A local Cody Wyoming craftsman will be working up a one of a kind piece for my knife, I'm more excited about the darn scabbard than the blade........almost. But what about Vince? Still nothing, yet!

He ambles back to a sporting goods store we had checked out when we blew into town the prior afternoon. He had already spotted a likely candidate, but needed to make sure it was truly "Sturgis worthy". It was, purchase made. So we got our special souvenirs, each the same, and yet totally different...........kinda like us. We're stoked.

It's about noon now and we meet the boys at the Buffalo Bill Museum to finish the tour that we had started yesterday. It's really five museums in one, and all are extremely well done.......especially the firearms, Buffalo Bill and Plains Indians exhibits. If you find yourself in Cody, it's a must see attraction. Trust us on this.
East Gate, Yellowstone National Park

We hustle through the last of the firearms displays (I know some guys at work that could spend days just checking out the overstock guns in the basement) because we want to get on the road............this promises to be the last "easy" day of the trip, and probably the most visually stunning. We saddle up and head west out of town on highway 16 on our way to the East Gate of Yellowstone Park, just forty miles away. Right from the start we treated to amazing vistas, sheer rock canyon walls, climbing to dizzying heights on our right and left. Massive evergreens, sprout from impossible perches thousands of feet up the slate grey rock. Along the valley floor the Shoshone river marks the roads progress, occasionally changing sides, just to keep us guessing. Up ahead, lakes, ponds and waterfalls seem to appear at every turn……incredible.

The sky is a patchwork of white, blue and cigarette yellow. Oh yes, there are fires here too. As a matter of fact when we got up in the morning we were greeted with the acrid stench of smoke.....fires burning north of the highway, near the East Gate, but the road was open. And as the morning wore on the sky gradually cleared, so we thought the smoke eaters had done their jobs and the fires were well out. We were wrong.

To the north we see plumes of smoke, still comfortably in the distance, but close enough for concern. The road twists and dips, and turns back on's simply one of the best stretches of asphalt I've ever had the pleasure to traverse. It's sensory overload, do I gaze at each more progressively stunning landscape , or stay focused on the task at hand, riding the machine, and avoiding disaster? Honestly, I kinda split the's that good! The smoke continued to rise, and we see the first of the firefighting helo's that are sucking water straight from the river to our left and dropping the smothering liquid on the flames to our right. It's an amazing sight.
Yellowstone Buffalo, yes they're that big, and yes we were that close

As we continue we see plenty of evidence of recent fires, some still visibly smoldering. There are camps with firefighters right off the road........Yellowstone is burning, and we are witnessing it. Pressing on, thankfully the smoke is blowing away from us, we make it to the East Gate. Twenty bucks later and we're in the countries very first national park. The road snakes east toward Yellowstone Lake, along ridge lines with views that I'm simply not capable of describing.........

We stop at a gas station and souvenir store near Yellowstone Lake, a quick soda and look see for goodies. It was at this point that Nate asks if I saw the Buffalo? The what I?! Apparently there was  herd of Buffalo just north of the road about ten miles back (Nate has a knack for spotting critters/points on interest at amazing distances.....he'd make a great sniper spotter). Crap, I missed it. Guess I was paying more attention to the road after all.

We saddle up, and head out.........and I'm bummed. That is until we turn south on highway 191 and to our immediate left is a......herd of Buffalo!! These guys are enormous, and only about a 100 feet off the road.......and there's no fence, nothing between us and 2,000 pounds of potentially pissed off, unpredictable creatures. So we stop and walk was an incredible moment, trust me. Photos snapped and a stampede successfully avoided we continue on our way.

More  mind numbingly beautiful sights; sun dappled green forests, scorched tree trunks on barren rock strewn ridges, sheer cliffs give way to bottomless sun starved canyons, pungent sulfur ponds, and a geyser. Yup, we saw a geyser in full "go" mode. Not quite what I expected (although I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting really), imagine a fire hose underground pointing straight up, that's it......but warmer!

A quick note on spectacularly amazing sights...people lose their flippin' minds! They screech to a stop in the middle of the road, dive off to the shoulder, shove their way back, and just generally forget that they are not the only folks in the universe. Unfortunately motorcyclists aren't immune to the behavior. We keep our heads on the proverbial swivel.
The Grand Tetons in backlit glory

Any moose you ask? As a matter of fact we did see some moose some distance from the road playing in a can imagine the traffic jam that caused! Regaining our composure and pace we head to the South Gate, or 70 plus mile tour of Yellowstone has come to an end. No worries, we're no sooner out of the park than we enter the Grand Teton's National Park............Mother Nature worked overtime in this corner of globe.

To the east and west of us rain threatened, we still hadn't experienced any "real" rain on the trip, so we're feeling lucky. Rounding a ridge, the Teton's come fully into view, and grand they truly are. Other than perhaps the Austrian Alps, I've never seen anything quite like them. Mountain peaks of jagged shards of rock so massive and so sharp they threaten to gut the sky. Simply amazing. We stop for photos, we can't do them justice, but we try anyway. As we ready for the final few miles JP's ride won't start.....again. Even with the new battery, it won't turn over, we think it's a short. maybe the starter. A quick push, and it fires to life and we're down the road. But a little concerned......we don't need a "mechanical" at this point in the trip.
Vince, Mark, Nate, and Hank on the outskirts of Jackson

We avoid the rain, maybe a drop here, or a drop there, as we roll into the upscale winter playground of Jackson Wyoming.  Very cool place, wish we had more time to explore. we dump our gear at the motel and set out for some chow. A Mexican restaurant a block or so away will do the trick. The foods pretty good, but then again, we hadn't eaten since morning, and that's not our style.

We walk around the town, it's alive with folks checking out the shops and bars, rain is falling now, and lightning flashes in the distance. After some ice creams, dished up by a couple of the many eastern European students we found working at their summer exchange jobs..........guess there's American kids slinging stew in the Czech Republic as this is written?! We're tired, and I have to sort photos and blog.........tomorrow is a big mileage day, so no beers and it's off to bed.........

Rapp Star Shines At Daytona.....Again

Steve Rapp qualified his Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XR-1200 on the pole for this years Daytona opener of the XR-1200 Series, besting the rest of the field, which included "Mr. Daytona" himself, Scott Russell by over a second. The actual race would prove to be a bit more difficult to master, in the dash for the finish line Steve momentarily lost the draft and finished a respectable fourth, only .136 seconds off the winner. Way to go Stevie........way yo go!

A mighty Harley XR1200 much like the one Steve rode
Seems like only last week when my buddy Vince and I were putting down the kickstands on our sport bikes (that's right fellow Chromies, yours truly wasn't always low and slow astride American iron, no sirree, back in the day I was low and slow on some very fine there! Consistency is a virtue) in the parking lot of one of our favorite local diners........time to wolf down some burgers and charm the servers.

As we took off our helmets and began the walk in, out of the restaurant saunters this guy and his stunning gal pal. Both are carrying helmets so we assume they belong to the GSXR 750 we had parked next to. To be honest, our gaze was pretty much locked onto the fine Betty, nothing creepy, we were just appreciating the happy coincidence of a near perfect melding of random genetic traits, we hardly gave the dude a second thought.

That is until he said, "hey, aren't you Hank Desjardins?" Oh great, I'd been busted. The kid seemed nice enough, "yeah, that's me, who are you?"

"I'm Steve Rapp, and I've seen you up at Sears Point, you sponsor Dwayne Chung right?" I replied that we did, it was the first year of what would turn out to be a three year relationship. Rapp went on to say, 'I'm going to new rider school this year, keep an eye on me because I'm gonna be fast and you're gonna want to sponsor me." OK, another hot shot Kevin Schwantz wannabe (hey, I told you this was a while ago didn't I?), we said so long and I didn't give the kid, the hot eye candy, or his boast another thought.

Much later that season, I was toiling away in our pit at Sears Point, most likely applying stickers to some random piece of bodywork, (that was pretty much all the "mechanical" duties I was allowed, smart bunch, my crew) when up walks Mr. Rapp decked out in some rather second hand leathers. "Remember me?" he asked. Of course I didn't. "We met in the parking lot months ago." The bulb flickered and I stammered out some sort of affirmative reply...........probably on the lines of, "....oh sure, yeah, I remember you." Nothing if not quick on me feet...........oh, and I should mention at this point the lad at actually gotten a job at one of my companies stores, no doubt about it, I needed to get out of the office more!

No matter, Steve was in full lobby mode, " need to keep an eye on me, I'm getting faster every race, you're gonna want to sponsor me someday!" One thing you had to say for the boy, his unwavering confidence in himself, rather than being annoying, was starting to win us over.......OK, we're gonna watch the kid and see what he was made of.

Turns out, Steve Rapp had all the right stuff.............and it should have come as no surprise, he told us so all along. As with any good Hollywood tale, we did indeed go on to sponsor Steve. At the time we were running one of the premier amateur motorcycle roadracing teams on the west coast, winning numerous titles in the AFM series, including multiple overall championships with riders the likes of Cal Rayborn III, son of the legendary Cal Rayborn. No wonder Rapp wanted to showcase his skills on one of our machines.

And shine he did, winning an overall AFM Formula Pacific title for himself the following year. But Steve wanted more, much more, and the confident kid from Lafayette CA was ready to strike out on his own. He bought a new Suzuki GSXR-600 with grand plans to compete in the national AMA series. The only problem was, I couldn't convince my boss that a national effort, even a limited one, was in the best interests of the company.

Steve Rapp, Daytona 200 winner, nice
No worries, we'd do it ourselves, so the entire crew dug deep, tapped credit cards, borrowed dough and we set off on a limited schedule of events. Once again, Rapp came through, big time. In our first national at Sears Point, Steve nailed the hole shot and lead the first lap, no easy task, as in those days all the factories were fielding teams with some of the best riders on the planet (Duhamel, Crevier, Bostrum, James, and Picotte to name just a few). Eventually finishing in the top ten, the lad was on the map.

The rest of season was a mixed bag of results, a fair number of crashes, and some decent finishes, but the most important outcome was the offer of Suzuki support for the next season. With dough in hand, we went back to the powers that be, and got the OK to go racing, if we could secure additional sponsorship to cover the costs. Oh goody.

As luck would have Steve had a contact that knew "a guy" that owned a water company, and presto, San Gabriel Mountain Spring Water Racing was born (we'll just forget the fact that the company was actually some sort of tax dodge fake and that we never did get most of the promised and learn, lose money). We loaded up and went racing........all the way to a national 750 Supersport championship. Or so it seemed. Last race of the year in Vegas, comfortable series point lead, ESPN2 in our pit ready to commit the thrill of victory to film when, uh oh, looks like Steve is slowing on the back stretch..........WTF!? Only DNF of the season.......two laps to go. We waved good-bye to the film crew.

But for Rapp, and us, the journey would continue, only in separate directions. Steve had impressed the racing community enough with his utterly fearless "crash or place" riding style, that offers came in from various factory teams. He had to make the jump, no question. And jump he did, straight to Yoshimura Suzuki, one of the top Supersport efforts in the country. What a change, a real factory contract (I was flattered that Steve would enlist my help in navigating the negotiations process for his first few pro contracts, it was quite a learning process to say the least!).

I suppose the rest, as the cliche' goes, is history. Steve went on from Yosh to race for Vance & Hines on Ducati Superbikes (I can still remember sitting in Terry Vance's office and swearing to him that Rapp's crashing days were behind him.........and I can also remember Terry leveling a death stare in my direction at Elkhart Lake right after Steve had completely destroyed one of his precious mega-buck Ducs in a spectacular shunt. Don't think Terry's spoken to me since).

From V&H Steve has raced for a number of teams; Jordan Suzuki, Corona Suzuki, Attack Kawasaki (with whom he won the Daytona 200 no less) and others. The brash kid from Lafayette CA did exactly what he said he'd do that night in the diner parking lot........and much more. He's one of the good ones in the sport, a true professional, and I'm proud to have been a part of his story..............

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crash Psychology 101

A few weeks ago I was hanging out at McGuire Harley-Davidson (, which come to think of it is a more regular occurrence now that I find myself immersed in the role of powersports marketing pro without portfolio.......sounds soooo much more impressive than, well, let's just say the alternative.

Anyway, I was chatting away with one of the techs (just an aside, they have an awesome crew, everyone of their wrenches is a top notch me on this) who's absence I had noticed in a couple of prior visits. Seemed he had taken a tumble commuting from work (being a real rider, his motorcycle is his only form of transport) and had been at home recovering from his up close and personal asphalt interface. Fortunately his recovery seemed to be moving along enough so he was back at the salt mines.

So what happened, I asked, wanting to zero in on the exact cause of the accident, like some obsessively demented NTSB investigator, if for no other reason than to prove to myself, beyond a reasonable doubt, that whatever misfortune had befallen my friend, the same fate, in no way, was going to befall your humble scribe. Call it denial, call it whatever you will..........but all motorcyclists do it. Whether it's a gnarly smash up at an intersection, or a single bike highside on a deserted mountain road, doesn't matter, we want all the details, no matter how grizzly, so we can piece together a plausible scenario wherein through our own superior skills and maybe a dash of luck we would come out of the exact same situation completely unscathed with nothing more than a "beer worthy" war story to tell.

So why this ghoulish obsession with accidents? Simple really. No matter how you slice it, riding a motorcycle is an inherently dangerous exercise, one that offers up some potentially grievous consequences for even the slightest incidence of brain-fade, "pilot error", or just plain bad luck, whether on the part of the rider, or the countless dim bulb cage pilots cluelessly hurtling to soccer practice only inches away from our nearly totally exposed bods . The fact is, in most any mishap, the odds aren't exactly on our side. So it's no wonder that if one were to give into the notion that our fates were in the hands of, well, the fates, it's doubtful we'd even stick a toe out of bed, let alone ride one of those damn death machines. It's only by creating the illusion of total situational control that we delude ourselves enough to convince our rational selves, and random loved ones, that we're gonna be OK. We've got it covered.

I'll call it the "ain't gonna happen to me" syndrome. I've read that it's common among test pilots (another less than totally safe and secure activity), who when after one of their own auger in, run countless scenarios in their minds about how they would have done it differently, and presumably better, thus surviving the incident that claimed their buddies life. This is true even when considering mechanical failure....."not gonna happen to me", and if it did, why I'd give it more throttle and bingo! Happy landings..........No need to worry. When it comes to the art of denial, it's kinda nice to know we have something in common with the "Right Stuff" crowd, huh!?

Now back to the crash. Seems our man was minding his own business cruising in the diamond lane (that's the fast lane for you good folks that are fortunate enough not to live in a large metro area, or The Peoples Republic of Kalifornia) during the evening commute when a woman, who was stuck in the "crawling at a snails jog" middle lane, decides she's had enough of the slow going, and without warning literally turns into bike and rider. With no time to react, and thoughtfully nudged by 3,500 lbs of steel, the Street Glide and its pilot are instantly separated, left tumbling along Highway 4. Upon coming to rest, after hitting everything but the lottery, we're happy to report that rider turned pedestrian made it safely to the side of the road with no further damage. His Harley would have to wait for the hook.

As we talked I could tell we were both engaged in the same mental exercise, although obviously he had had way more time to dissect the incident from every possible angle, still the "not gonna happen to me" (or in his case, "not gonna happen to me, again") game was on. How fast were you going, I asked? Where were you in the lane? Did you have any clue to the drivers intention prior to her fender smacked your saddle bag? On on it went. And you know what? We actually came to a useful conclusion.....

Remember that prior to the accident our man was motoring at a fairly decent clip on the inside of the fast lane (this would put him and his machine fairly close to the very cars he was passing) while traffic barley idled along to his right. The theory being, by hugging the right side of the lane, he would be more visible to the cars he was passing should they check their mirrors. It's an old school tactic that was taught for years in some circles, and has served my pal well for years (remember, this fellow rides everyday, rain or shine and has racked up more miles than you and I will ever see). Unfortunately it has a couple of flaws. The first being that the average driver rarely, if ever, uses their mirrors, can't be visible if they ain't lookin'. You're lucky if they even signal, let alone check their mirrors before barging into your slice of the roadway. We all know the skill set of today's driver ain't what it was twenty years ago. Not even close.

The second problem in this case is proximity to other vehicles in the lane to the right, which has the disadvantage of significantly cutting into reaction time should said soccer mom decide she's had enough of the slow crawl home. Given enough room good things can happen; you can maneuver out of the way, the wayward git in the car may actually spot you and dive back into their lane. You never know, I say dare to dream.

This is why I've always tried to more or less "ride in a bubble" (I can hear you laughing, knock it off), because accident avoidance is all about time and distance. Simply put, you need time to react to a threat, the more time the better. As luck would have it, distance can provide the time necessary to carry out whatever disaster mitigation plan you've managed to concoct in that tenth of a second you have available to keep from being the guest of honor at the nearest ER. Trust me, the bubble is you friend, keep the cages safely on the outside, and you just might make it home in one piece.

Had our intrepid commuter and his Street Glide been on the far left of his lane chances are he would have had more time by virtue of the extra distance and could have responded to the idiot move that was about to befall him........certainly a better plan than depending on the kindness and road manners of strangers. And the cool thing is our little "not gonna happen to me" conversation led us both to the same conclusion.......we looked at the incident, thought it through and I'm certain we're both going to be much more aware when we find ourselves in similar situations in the future.........ain't gonna happen to us!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sturgis Or Die, Day Nine

Today's going to be an easy day, relatively short mileage through some really choice scenery. If only we could get out of Hardin! Seems the lads, Nate and JP, never actually left Shawna's Casino/Steakhouse, at least not until around 2:30am, at which point they scurried off to an after party (do they really have "after parties" in Montana?) put on by Shawna herself, and some of Hardin's hardiest revelers. From all indications they had a hell of a time; for starters they didn't get back to our hotel until after 4am, Nate had been challenged to a friendly fight by one of the local toughs (no fists were thrown, they ultimately threw down drinks like brothers........apparently duking it out is their way of getting to know ya), JP found a "friend" and was AWOL for  an hour or two. It was only after Nate began searching house to house, revving the piss out of his mighty Road Glide, did the younger buck stagger out into the street. From there it was back to the Super Eight.

Needless to say they were in no condition for an early morning launch............that's cool, we were young once too (I'm pretty sure, don't remember though), so we let them sleep until checkout. We wipe down the Harleys, get organized, watch some news. Once the "undead" regain consciousness, we fire up the motorcycles and head east to Garryowen, a small village near the Little Big Horn battlefield. As a matter of fact, it's the place where the actual battle began. There's a small store and's very interesting, and Mark augments the displays with a many "fun facts" about the period, he's extremely well read about western folklore and history. He has really made this portion of the trip far more rewarding......his knowledge has enlightened our experience, even the kids.
Nate's roadside repair, good as new......almost

From Garryowen, we hook a one eighty, and head west back down Interstate 90 to Billings. A quick breakfast at a Flying "J" truckstop, holy smoke, the amount of chow they served up was staggering.......and it was darn good too!  At our gas stop Nate asks for a bungee cord, seems his left saddle bag mounts have busted, and he needs an alternative mounting system (never leave home without bungee's, they're almost as handy as duct tape). Interesting story behind the dangling saddle bag.....and sorry Harley haters, not a factory defect indicative of crappy craftsmanship, but rather the busted bag is the result of getting butt ended by none other than JP'll have to get the details on your own, it didn't happen on this trip.

Full of food and fuel, we head back out on 90 to Laurel, where we turn south on highway 310. Soon we find ourselves in the country on fantastic two lane. It's warm, but not oppressive, thankfully humidity is mild. The traffic is light so we maintain a good pace. We're traveling right on the eastern edge of the Beartooth Mountain Range.....stark, jagged and utterly beautiful. Rain clouds are building to the west, with streaks of sun forcing their way through the leaden clouds. Will we get our first real rain of the trip? It sort of looks like it. We cross over the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone river at least three times. It's hard to focus on the road, the terrain is so compelling, this is a road you want to ride, trust us.
A little Cody history

We continue south, snaking along the valley floor, still no least not on us, it's pouring up on the peaks. One of the neat things about riding motorcycles is the little things you notice, that you'd never be aware of in a car. For instance, the tiny temperature changes that you feel with the change in cloud cover....might be only a degree or two, but you notice.

Before we know it, we're dropping down into Cody, Wyoming. Cody is a quaint, authentic old west town surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen. We cruise in, stopping off at a gun store (hey, can you ever have enough high cap mags?) before we fill up with gas (less to do tomorrow) and check in at the Comfort Inn. Once we unload the bikes we head off on foot to take in the town.........which is pretty easy considering it's about six blocks long! We spy a re-enactment of what I think was the gun fight at the OK Corral, not real sure as the production value was, well, kinda "off". The costumes were nice though.

Nate and JP
We amble down to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and Museum. Totally first rate, with the largest collection of American firearms in the world. There are five museums in the complex, we only got through some of the firearms section when they began to close up for the day. We're gonna see the rest tomorrow before we head out of town to Jackson.

Since today is the old mans birthday, that would be Vince, we take him to an Italian restaurant for one of his After way too much food...........a constant theme on this trip, we stroll back to the hotel. Time for a serious laundry session..........which is a pretty big challenge for me (whatever, I have other skills.....). The good news, we found a Laundromat that would wash, dry and fold the clothes for $.50 a pound. Sweet, I'm saved.....I'll be seeing Dixie tomorrow after 9:30 am to pick up our fresh duds. I like Cody.

For those of you keeping track, we've traveled over 2,200 miles so far. One of the cool features of Vince's itinerary is that we don't backtrack on the roads we came east on until Elko (and after that, who really cares?!), so it's new sights and roads everyday.......I highly recommend that strategy, makes the return way more enjoyable. Oh, and the lads, well they're asleep as I write this........guess they'll have to sample the Cody nightlife on the next trip.