Friday, February 23, 2007

Hawk's Nest, New York 97

The "Hawk's Nest" is a very cool, but short, section of NY 97 that runs high above the Delaware River northwest of Port Jervis. I've ridden it 5 or 6 times; a few times I've turned back after the road straightens out and rode the twisty section again. It's the kind of road that makes you smile inside your helmet. I believe I shot the photo at right in 2004. (Click to enlarge)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Icy Roads Suck!

We had a severe ice storm 5 days ago and the roads are only now just rideable (by my standards anyway) with only scattered ice patches. However, my driveway, which slopes down to the street, is still a solid sheet of ice, so my bike will be garage-bound for at least a few more days. So I'm stuck browsing pics I've taken during warmer days, like the one here, which was taken on one of those near-perfect riding days in June 2005 somewhere in the western Adirondacks of New York -- perhaps Indian Lake -- with temps in the 70s, sunny sky, and more critters than cars on my route. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

SOLAS Tape Tricks, part II

Here are two shots of the back of my bike taken in my garage, showing how a few strategically placed bits of SOLAS can increase visibility. The top photo is in daylight and the photo at bottom is in darkness with a flashlight shining on the bike from the rear to approximate a following vehicle's headlights. Using your fingers on your monitor screen, go ahead and cover up the SOLAS on the side cases...see how they just about disappear? That's not good, particularly if some bonehead driver tries to go around me a bit too close. The two "wings" that are lit up on my top case in the bottom photo are normally just red reflectors. The middle bit is where an optional brake light would be and so the lens isn't reflective. I removed the entire lens assembly and replaced the white paper backing behind the reflectorized portions of the lens guessed it: SOLAS tape.

Monday, February 12, 2007

SOLAS Tape Tricks, part 1

To survive out there among the "cagers", we have to assume we're invisible while at the same time making ourselves, and our bikes, as conspicuous as reasonable. Many commuters and sport-tourers know the value of adding retro-reflective materials to both motorcycle and rider. Originally developed for sea-going folks, SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) tape is the most "reflective-y" material I've found, seemingly bouncing back more light than hits it. It's the most expensive as well -- you can buy it in bulk from industrial suppliers (like this one) for a fraction of what motorcycle product vendors want for it, and then share the excess with your riding buddies.

For years I've put a thin strip of SOLAS on the top edge of my helmet's faceshield (and no, I don't see the reflected light from inside the helmet) and little bits on the rear as well. Those with artistic bent could get quite creative as SOLAS stretches well and cuts easily with an Exacto blade or scissors. Below are photographs taken in a dark room while shining a flashlight at my current helmet to approximate a car's headlights. (The furry object behind the helmet is one of my curious cats). In Part 2 I'll show how I use SOLAS tape on my bike.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

"First Sunday" Ride-In, Ephrata, PA

It's only a few more weeks until March 4th and my favorite recurring RTE ("Ride to Eat") event: the "First Sunday" Breakfast Ride-In in Ephrata, PA. The "First Sunday" event is held rain or shine on the (duh) first Sunday of the month, March through November, hosted by Ephrata's American Legion post. The Legion hall's parking lot is huge, and there is also a lot of parking available at the adjacent park, so one is never more than about 100 yards away from the hall, where a breakfast buffet runs 9:00 a.m. to noon. Bikes begin arriving as early as 0800 (that's 8:00 a.m. for you civilians), and coffee is served in the parking lot if one wants to get a jolt (or warm-up more likely in March) without paying or waiting for the buffet.

If you go, bring a camera! Nice weather brings out 500+ bikes of all sorts, from scooters to sport-tourers to choppers to vintage machinery, and even iffy weather will see a couple of hundred. Bimotas, WWII sidehacks with machine guns, mirror-festooned Vespas -- everything makes an appearance. I once saw a full-on, no-way street legal roadracer with slicks, leaning up against a wall (no kickstand). I snapped the picture above last year -- that's a Laverda RGS 1000 in front and a Ducati 860 behind; examples of the type of rare motorcycles often seen at Ephrata. A handful of vendors and dealers will have tents there as well, including my favorite Arai helmet specialists, The Service Pavilion.

From east or west, take your favorite route to US 322 to Ephrata (US 322 is Main Street in Ephrata) to Cocalico Street (there will usually be someone directing traffic), and follow the road to the American Legion Post. No website for this event, but for addtional info call 717-733-2576. My Ride Calendar also has details and directions. Gimme a shout if you ever go -- I'll be the only there one on a yellow ZR-7S with Delaware tags!

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Mapping Solution for Old Eyes

For years, I've used tank bags with map cases. Now that I'm 46 and my near-vision has gotten a bit wonky, I have a difficult time reading a map on the fly. My GPS doesn't have a mapping feature and I'm not sure I could read it well enough if it did. In retaliation, I've begun creating route sheets using large font and red directionals for turns. I've done maybe a dozen to date. Because I'm experimenting with formats, I'm using my common weekend-morning routes -- those for which I don't really need a map or route sheet. Format suggestions are welcomed! Once I'm happy with a standard format, I intend to do many more route sheets and make them available for downloading here. Generic tip for those who use map cases for any purpose: carry a grease pencil for plotting your route or noting mileages, or scribbling down locals' directions when your maps and GPS fail you.*

* Last resort only; a true sport-tourer is seldom "lost"...merely "exploring".

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Half-time report

16 - 14 Colts at halftime. OK, my 23 -18 score isn't likely, but my 5-point spread is looking good and Hester made me look like I knew what I was talking about, running the opening kickoff 91 yards for a TD. We're living in a new age for sure -- someone already posted that TD run on YouTube! Gotta go watch the halftime entertainment; His Purpleness sure beats Up With People or LaToya, eh? Oh yeah, it's Magic Hat's Blind Faith IPA now.

Super Bowl Prediction

We're less than 10 minutes to kick-off. Two great and very different teams -- hard to call this one. What does it for me is the Colts' 4 - 4 record this season when they're away from the cozy confines of their domed stadium. I wouldn't be an American male if I didn't have a prediction, so here goes: Bears 23, Colts 18. I'll also go out on a limb and predict that Chicago doesn't win unless their defense or special teams (watch for Hester!) scores at least once. Well, off to my comfy chair and nice Belgian Tripel-style Trappist-style ale by Koningshoeven...mmmmmm.