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Archive for September, 2009

US342Street Vibrations is a 4-day event that brings two-wheel enthusiasts from all parts of the country to show-off customs, parade the vendor booths and enjoy the entertainment.  Oh did I mention the local rides?  Yes, there are plenty from Virginia City to Lake Tahoe as well as the various poker runs.

The weather (mid-90’s) really made for a positive experience this year.  Our entourage spent time riding out the Virginia City loop, but mostly we stayed in downtown to mingle with the crowds, talk motorcycles with riders and vendors and take in all that the casinos had to offer up in terms of entertainment.  The vendor booths were busy with crowds most all day long.  Of course there was the monster jump at the Grand Sierra Resort by Ryan Capes who broke the (ramp-to-ramp) record on a motorcycle.

Left Of Center

Left Of Center

And there were lots of bands with some top tier talent, but I enjoyed the non-headliners more. There was Saddle Tramps on the Jagermeister Super Stage and most notable was Left of Center who played the Brew Brothers pub at Silver Legacy on back to back nights.  Our group also caught a comedy club act in the Catch A Rising Star lounge which made the $15 per ticket expense seem like a bargain after all the craps table losses!

The motorcycle festival didn’t pass without incidents, however.  There were several motorcycle accidents including one fatality which I posted previously HERE.  In fact, on our ride back from Virginia City we came upon a motorcyclist who lost control and struck a wall on Griner’s Bend, a sharp curve at the south side of Virginia City on State Route 342.  In addition, Police reported there were 72 arrests made at Street Vibrations even though it was considered one of the more peaceful events! Most of the arrests were alcohol related, including 23 for public intoxication.  The police also issued 77 traffic citations and responded to six reports of stolen motorcycles.  It was a busy weekend for LEO, but what I most appreciated was the lack of SWAT teams armed with semi-automatic rifles marching in Virginia City and other areas.

tat_SSBack to the rally.  I missed the roller derby battle between the Rose City Rollers and the Battle Born Derby Demons, but you have to make a call since you can’t take it all in!  The sponsors brought back the firework display which had disappointed many last year when it was cancelled.  And then there was the tattoo expo which put body art on display and inspired one of the posse to get inked.  A big shout out to Randy Burke, owner of Road Shows who puts on Street Vibrations because it was a great event and the rally was kept fresh with some new activities.

Posse Dinner

Posse Dinner

On Sunday morning we were up early because it was all about miles and putting on as many of the 546 miles we needed to do before the heat baked the day.  From Susanville we took CA-44 through Lassen National Forest.  We headed up toward Old Station and then took CA-89 toward the town of Mount Shasta.  I like riding this route. The road is good and traffic is moving fast for a two-lane road.   It has a varied and interesting scenery.  About 60 miles south of Mount Shasta there was a forest fire in early August that raged through the area.  I believe it was the Hat Creek Complex.  More photos HERE.   We didn’t know it at the time, but there was another forest fire filling the air with smoke.  A thin layer at first, but it increased through-out the day.  It was from the Boze fire, an 11,000-acre fire near Tiller, OR and with the southerly trade winds blowing it meant we rode in it nearly all day long!

I-5_SunsetWe entered the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, rolled onto I-5 and pressed on through beautiful scenery.  Arriving at the Oregon border we crossed the 4300 foot mark at the Siskiyou Summit which is the highest point on I-5.  We then dropped down in the Rogue River valley through Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass.  Occasionally, I’d catch a whiff of toasted brake lingering in the air, proof that not everyone enjoyed the ride as much as we were!  We traversed the three passes of the Umpqua Valley and after Roseburg it was back to rolling hills.  We continued to deal with forest fire smoke.  There was a small mechanical delay which baling wire fixed in short order with a shift linkage, but otherwise we were all about miles and stops were limited to fast food and fuel.  It took just under 12 hours to make the trip home.

It was a good and safe Street Vibrations trip!

Road Trippn’ to Street Vibrations 2009 — Part 1 HERE; Part 2 HERE.

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posse_lkviewAfter an early morning continental breakfast we brought the bikes to life in the motel parking lot and after a quick fuel stop we shake, rattled and rolled down the US 395 trail.

The road encourages a relaxed pace and many of the trappings of modern travel are just not on this road.  About 40 miles north of Alturas, 395 reaches California and the confusing little town of New Pine Creek.  It consists of barely more than a couple of stores.

Goose Lake

Goose Lake

The California map says it’s in California, yet the Oregon map says it straddles the state line, which at least in practice, it does. The actual location of the state line is a bit confused and about 20 years ago, California officials reviewed the line and concluded that the line should actually be a bit farther north. But locals still don’t seem certain about where it is. Nonetheless local California residents have Oregon mailing addresses (that’s where the post office is), which confuses all sorts of bureaucrats, from cops to tax officials and the uncertainty about location prompts all sort of thrash to reduce taxes and other fees. It used to be that Oregonians had to sneak their kids into the local school, which is (probably) in California. The Oregon welcome sign is on the north end of the tiny town, but the California sign is right in the middle of town on State Line road, though that probably isn’t where the line actually is.  I know that I’m on the “line” — the Oregon/California border in New Pine Creek when I see the shop called “Just Stuff“.  Never a customer parked in front of the building, but it remains open after all these years!
Reno_Skyline
We continue on and nearby the Goose Lake State Park is a large shallow lake that straddles part of state line area yet it’s so remote reservations are not necessary.  We traversed around Alturas and through Likely, Ravendale and Litchfield.  Somewhere along this route we hit about 10 miles of the worst road surface I’ve encountered on previous rides. I dislike that tar base with loose gravel and the DOT thinking that we’ll let the vehicles drive over the gravel until the road is no longer loose!

At Standish we fueled up and avoid backtracking to Susanville by way of the cut-off road.

Reno_NeonThis area is nestled in a high-desert valley in northeastern California, bordered by both lush evergreen forests and arid sagebrush.  First a rugged trading post for Nobleas Train wagon trains, in 1854, pioneer Isaac Roop wrought the first permanent settlement by allotting a large piece of his land for the city, which eventually would be named for his daughter Susan.  The days it’s know more the High Desert State Prison with the high-security, lethal electrified perimeter fence.

We skirted Honey Lake and rolled into Reno by mid-afternoon.  The posse unloaded and enjoyed all that Reno and Street Vibrations could offer up in the form of some nighttime refreshments.

Road Trippn’ to Street Vibrations 2009 — Part 1 HERE; Part 3 HERE.

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OR31On the first day of fall the saddlebags were loaded and ready for another motorcycle trip.  This time the posse pointed our motorcycles south and headed toward some promised fun in the Nevada desert. Street Vibrations was the destination, but our journey through country roads and byway’s was the largest part of the reason that we ride.

The northwest weather provided a late summer blast of heat which was much different than previous years where the threat of rain was always looming.  There were two groups rolling and I was in the second group who departed at noon.   With a solid six hours of riding ahead of us until we reached our overnight destination we didn’t have a lot of down time.  It was gas-n-go and personal refection time would be experienced while we looked at the dramatic views of high Cascade peaks.  Our route was I-5 then connect with Santiam Pass Highway (US 20).  This is a well traveled route as we viewed the Cascade peaks which is made more striking by the contrast between black lava and white snow.  Traffic was light with few commercial trucks and we made our way to Sisters in record time.  Prior to reaching the summit we picked up forest fire smoke from the Tumblebug complex.  A 10,000-acre fire near Oakridge and the wind filled the cascades with smoke.

Arm_OR31We intersected with Oregon Route 31 south of La Pine and headed east.  The highway is a 2-lane, rural road for its entire length.  I never tire of the thrill of leaning into a corner and twisting the throttle out — straightening up the bike until you lean back upright and roll into the straightaway — it’s as much fun now as it was back in the early days of dirt bikes.

OR 31 is part of the Outback Scenic Byway and goes between La Pine and just past Lakeview at the California border. It passes multiple natural attractions like Fort Rock State ParkHole-in-the-Ground and Summer Lake.  This ~150 mile route starts in the Deschutes National Forest, through stands of lodgepole and ponderosa.  As you continue south the landscape has a lot to offer; including high elevation subalpine vegetation, colorful lichen encrusted rimrocks, lush meadows, deeply shaded mixed conifer old growth stands, and sagebrush/juniper covered rolling hills. There are seasonal wildflowers and the views are stunning throughout the route.  The air is filled with bugs.  So many in fact it was difficult to view the road from certain areas of the windshield.

OR31_RestWe arrived at the Best Western motel in Lakeview with time to watch the last of the sunset and clear the windshield free of our heavy bug collection.   Dinner was at a terrific restaurant called the El Aguila Real Mexican Food and we enjoyed post dinner refreshments with a few rounds of pool at the Eagles Nest Lounge…a local “elk-hunter” bar with a number of locals playing lotto slots and explaining how they are trapped in a go nowhere town.  Interesting group to say the least.

Walking back toward the hotel talk turned to nutrition — don’t ask me why — maybe the enchiladas and bean burrito overload at 9pm set it off.  Maybe it was being denied a maple bar at the just closed donut shop and our eyes turned toward the grocery cart return which glistened under the moon light.  It made for the perfect impromptu athletic competition.  No one in town seemed to mind the multiple grunts in the early misty morning.  As a result we now have a new “chin-up” champ.  Sure fatigue prevented a Lakeview world record, but in the off season and with enough high-frequency chin-up reps that record is set to fall next year, right Steve?!

Road Trippn’ to Street Vibrations 2009 — Part 2 HERE

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FreeOwners of motorcycles report being deeply attached to their bikes since the values of freedom are intrinsic parts of the owners lifestyle and resonate with an emotional bond.

Harley-Davidson continues to promote self-expression and a passion to escape the routine by releasing a new video featuring FREEDOM — in the form of thirty-four new 2010 models.  Buy one and you can become anyone you like is the marketing premise wrapped in this adventurous pioneer spirit reminiscent of the wild west days.  The video sound track is cool music by Rocco DeLuca and the Burden.  You can see/hear it on the YouTube channel HERE.

Mac's Shoutout

Mac's Shoutout

Do you feel like raising your voice about riding and living free?  You can do that HERE.  It’s your chance to make a statement (if it passes admin approval) and you can view several thousand others who have done the same.  Using your message and an image of a 2010 Harley-Davidson motorcycle of your choice, you can create a custom banner ad that can then be shared on social media (Twitter, Facebook etc.) sites or turned into a personal wallpaper for your PC.

It’s my view that this is the same ‘ol marketing promotion tactics we’ve seen from the motor company before, simply re-rolled for the new 2010 models.  There is nothing unique or innovative about this! Hey Harley-Davidson, how about something truly creative like an iPhone app?!  Take the cool web-based mapping software and make it unique/available for the iPhone or how about an app that advocates freedom to associate with other bikers — now we’re talking FREEDOM — or how about an app that allows users to contact members of Congress, identifying the users local Congressman via GPS and informing us how to easily contact them to promote motorcycle and rider issues/concerns?  No?  Okay, then how about a ringtone?

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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Two-LaneThe weather, the gambling action, the leather and the chrome all attracted higher attendance for Street Vibration 2009.  Maybe the lack of hype or the “sky is falling” press about impending club-on-club violence helped?  There was a positive “vibe” in the city which I’ve not observed in a couple years.  I ask and didn’t hear much from street vendors about the current recession is the new normal… yada, yada.

As I roared out of Reno yesterday on my way home I thought about this video — “Rockin’ The Beer Gut” — a bit of truth wrapped up in a humorous ditty that tells us even though we have dangerous unemployment and we may not be perfect, don’t work on Wall Street making millions, it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!  And fun at Street Vibrations we had!  The 546 mile ride back gave me plenty of time to try and recall what stood out from years past — there was that monster jump at the Grand Sierra Resort by Ryan Capes who broke the standing 254 foot (ramp-to-ramp) record and then turned around and broke his own new record by clearing 316 feet on a motorcycle, then there were the Motorcycle “Clubs,” more than a dozen all getting along, but mostly it was about the scenic journey on two-lane tarmac with green mountains to sage brush desert which was fantastic.  The weather (mid-90’s) didn’t hurt and put the FUN back into the experience.  As well as tens of millions to the local economy.  I certainly left my small share!

The event didn’t pass without incidents, however.  More riders often means more accidents.  First, there were several motorcycle accidents on US 395 related to the set up for the monster jump.  Then there was a lady who was on the Harley-Davidson demo bike ride and wrecked.  A couple on U.S. 50 who crashed just east of Spooner Summit which sadly resulted in the only fatality at the event.  Then on our ride back from Virginia City we came upon a motorcyclist who struck a wall on Griner’s Bend, a sharp curve at the south side of Virginia City on State Route 342.  It turned out that 6 people were injured Friday afternoon, two of them seriously, in four separate accidents all involving loss of control.  The Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) reported there had been 18 motorcycle accidents over the course of the rally weekend.

The final attendance tally and the economic $$ impact will be out in a few days, but from my perspective it seemed like more people and the street crowds were bigger.  Not as record breaking as a few years ago, but none the less significant.  I plan to provide an trip chronology and will post it up over the next few days.

UPDATE: September 29, 2009 — AP is reporting that there were 72 arrest made at Street Vibrations even though LEO consider the event largely peaceful.  Most of the arrests were alcohol related, including 23 for public intoxication.  The police issued 77 traffic citations and responded to six reports of stolen motorcycles.

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ObserveToday is the first day of fall and I’m on the road with the wind in my face.  Street Vibrations is the destination, but the journey is what it’s all about.

As I admire the scenery along the country roads of Oregon, I can’t help but think about the book, Crisscrossing America. It’s a story of one man’s journey across the United States — twice.  On retirement, John Gussenhoven, did something a lot people dream about doing. He bought a motorcycle, took a Rider’s Edge class and learned how to ride. Then he loaded up his saddlebags and made a two-year, two-leg journey crisscrossing the U.S.

In the book, John writes about his experiences on the road and some of the people he encounters along the way.  As a photographer I can tell you the book contains some beautiful pictures of the U.S.  It turns out that each night, John carefully recorded his thoughts as well as his GPS locations from the day. Then he shared these with his friend, Jim Wark, who took arial photographs of the same places. Cool photos with out a doubt.

I’m not doing a book, but I do appreciate the unique perspective of the landscape in our country.  I’ll be observing and reporting back from this road trip in a week, but for the next several days the comment approval process will be delayed.

Ride safe.

Photo courtesy of film web site.

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Delonte West

Delonte West

Do 3-wheeled motorcycle (“Trike”) owners carry more weapons than the 2-wheeled brethren?

Although there is no scientific research or poll which confirms the “packing” attributes of each vehicle type, the recent arrest of NBA player Delonte West is an indicator that we might want to give the 3-wheeled riders a bit little more distance in the future!

Turns out that Mr. West, a D.C. native-turned NBA player for the Cav’s was riding his Can Am Spyder and was pulled over in Prince Georges County, MD at 10pm for — now get this — cutting off a law enforcement canine unit.  After being pulled over for “making an unsafe lane change” he was arrested for weapons possession.  What was most impressive was the assortment and number of weapons he was carrying on the trike — THREE!  One for each wheel.  A Beretta 9mm in his waistband, a Ruger .357 magnum strapped to his leg and a shotgun in a guitar case slung over his back.  Police charged West with two criminal counts of carrying a handgun for the Ruger and the Beretta, and issued him a traffic citation for driving “in excess of reasonable and prudent speed.”

CanAm Spyder -- Shotgun "optional"

CanAm Spyder -- Shotgun "optional"

Either he’s been watching too much “Arnold” (Terminator) or Son’s of Anarchy on FX.  Or maybe its time to put down the PS3 controller and give Grand Theft Auto a rest because this is retarded behavior.

My parents always taught me to follow the rules.  Don’t run with scissors.  Don’t litter. Don’t talk with your mouth full.  Don’t swim right after eating.  And don’t stick a loaded weapon down your pants (at least with the safety off — right Plaxico!).  Clearly I was brainwashed.  We have been fed this crap all our lives, that role models are the “gangsters” or rouge professional athletes.  The rich and famous are the ones addicted to the drugs.  Jail should be full of famous people, but they are so abnormal, and so admired, that we let them go on reduced charges.

Tomorrow, instead of going to Walmart to get a life, I’m going to steal some gasoline from the neighbors and go on a motorcycle road trip.  I’ll wear a samurai sword, get a DUI, smack a girl half my size, jump up on the brew pub stage and give Beyonce a video shout-out.  I’ll be abnormal tomorrow… just like Delonte… I want to get noticed for impersonating an athlete.

Photo courtesy of Elsa/Getty Images.

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