COLD rider!

Today, it was time to get the Mistress out for her ride; and to give her some much needed attention out on the asphalt.  With all the work recently done, I needed to verify that the work was done correctly before we rip apart the front half of the bike, do the work, and not be able to isolate a issue on a test ride if one was found.  Only one problem…temperature was around 28 degrees…and the wind was a-howlin’.

If you are a fan of Grease 2 (the movie or musical), there is a song called “Cool Rider”.  It’s a song that one of my co-workers uses when she walks by my office…always throwing her hands in the air, revving the imaginary throttle, and singing as she moves down the hallway.  Today, I took the blue Ultra out into the 28 degree weather with two friends…LJ and Mitch.  We were COLD riders…but had a blast!  We got looks from all those people around in cars and trucks that were priceless.  Bundled up to protect our aging skin, we probably looked like the Michelin man with all the layers we had worn.  It was a beeline to a gas station about ten miles away to fuel up the bikes, and to grab a quick breath (but no coffee…how could we possibly not even had gone into the building to find something warm???)  It was obvious we were each suffering hypothermia and could not think straight.

I had the camera, I get to take the picture

Smart people would never have ventured out into the cold with such a bad temperature and wind chill awaiting those who braved the weather.  Even dumb people would have immediately turned around and went back home.  But, we are Harley riders…and we don’t like our bikes sitting in the garage when we can ride them.  So…we rode some more, and found some curves to throw the bikes around on as we ventured back towards Mitch’s place (or, as I like to call it, my bike’s rest home for the next couple of months).

Eventually, we found ourselves at a stop sign, and we decided it was time to head back.  Did I mention it actually got COLDER?  It was 25 degrees when we returned!  The three of agreed that we are not getting younger, and would like Santa to bring us each heated gloves for Christmas.  I have been really good…I should get heated gloves, a heated liner, and a dual temp controller. *Hint Hint*.  Seriously, I will be picking up this set of heated gear soon enough on my own; I know it makes cold winter riding actually really enjoyable.

So, how did the bike ride you asked?  Well, I am glad you are so inquisitive.

The Progressive 444 shocks are amazing.  Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and most other brands, come with shocks that “suffice” from the manufacturer when the two-wheel machines are built.  They function, but they still feel like rods of steel are entering your spine on many bumps and potholes.  Not so with the Progressives that we installed.

Oh, you still feel the bumps with the 444’s…but they feel “comfortable”.  I told my co-riders that it now like being seated in a Lexus.  You feel it, but it’s not at all uncomfortable any longer.  The bike just glides over them, without the intense feel that you usually get.  All I can say is:  If you have the opportunity, money, or ability to get Progressive shocks installed, DO IT.  I am not kidding…it must be a ten times improvement going to the new shocks.  Just remember to set your sag setting to 1″ before riding (mine was set to 7/8″, close enough for my needs).  And, I’m using the 444HD (heavy duty) since I do ride two-up and carry quite a bit of gear at times.  These shocks are totally adjustable too, and you get rid of all the air lines and such too when installing these.  If you want the same shock that lowers the bike an inch all the time, then get the 944’s.

So, the bike rode very well.  The brakes seat very well by the time the ride was over so they are doing their job with stopping, and I can tell the tire is new as it is a little slippery into the curves.  Generally takes 150-200 miles to get the brakes, tires, and bearings to play well with each other, so I’ll take it easy for a few more rides before running it through some more advanced play.

Thanksgiving week is coming up now, and both Mitch and I have plans that keep us from starting to tear apart the front of the Ultra this coming week.  So, one more week off, and then we will shock and amaze everybody with what is actually under a Harley fairing, as well as what a motorcycle looks like when the whole front is missing.  Pictures to come when it happens.

No test ride yet

Have some commitments in the evenings the next couple of days, but am trying to get over to the Ultra soon to test ride it after the rear work has been finished.  Hopefully I can get this done before the weekend, as it looks like the high temp Saturday will be around 34, and Sunday will be 29.  That makes for a cold test ride, especially since I do not have heated gear (yet).

Black Friday sales are coming up soon, and I am looking forward to getting some of the remaining items off my gear list.  If you haven’t seen my post on how to save some bucks on Internet shopping, scroll down 4-5 posting and check out the links I put up for Ebates and FatWallet.

The cold weather is coming…really looking forward to getting the Ultra done soon!

Hashtag and Like Overkill

Today’s weather was bad enough that we had to postpone taking the Ultra out for the needed test ride to ensure that the previous rear end work has been performed properly.  In fact, Mother Nature treated my friend who is hosting the repair center where my Harley calls its temporary home to the amazing spectacle of a tornado, which he caught on digital tape.  Amazing footage, only a couple miles away.  Glad he and his wife survived without personal incident; there was quite a bit of damage from the string of tornadoes that touched down here in Indiana.

So while the weather prevented some much needed riding bliss, and caused all the local channels to constantly interrupt the broadcasted football games on the tube, I spent much of the afternoon both heading to and from our tornado safe area in the house when the winds got bad.  In between the jaunts of yelling for the two dogs to take refuge, I did some network backups and spent the time doing some online research.  All the while, many bored people around the grand Hoosier state that I know were also bored and spending their time online.

Which leads me to rant and rave about the things in social media I cannot stand.  So I give you my top problems with social media:

1.  Hashtag hell.  I follow a few Twitter feeds, and lately, somebody posts about six words, usually using acronyms I cannot figure out easily, followed by strings of hashtags to connect to other feeds.  Example:  “Wlkd dog, wtchg TV.  #TV #golden #retrievers #walking #outandabout #whatever.”  Seriously?

2.  The stalking reassurer on Facebook.  I am so tired of seeing people post something like:  “Pic of me and my cousin”, and posting a picture.  There’s 4-5 people I am friends with, that whenever they do this, 30 people need to Like it, and comment along the lines of “u r so pretty” or “still looking awesome”, etc.  Is it that the poster has deep routed insecurity issues, that they need to post something all the time to try to get the positive reassurance from others all the time?  The more compliments they receive, the more they keep posting pictures.

3.  Selfies.  Anybody else just ready to start smacking those people who seem to post nothing but selfies to the world?  It started with nine year old girls keeping the cameras as arm’s length, and kiss pouting their lips.  Now adults are doing it too.  I’m starting to think that they pissed everybody else off trying to get compliments online, and now have nobody to take their picture anymore?

4.  The online alcoholic.  Got any friends that seem to do an evening update, who take a picture of them holding a wine glass, a new imported beer, or a shot of whiskey…all the while talking about how they have been looking forward to sitting down and relaxing with it?  Am I the only one around, that if I was a employer or a loan officer and found your profile, would refuse to want anything to do with you?  How come people don’t realize just how much of an alcoholic they are making themselves to appear to others?

5.  The addicted liker.  Depending on how your account is set up on FB (hey, an acronym!), you can see when your friends like something.  Well, at about 2:35PM today, one of my online friends liked about 7,348 things in a row in just a few minutes.  Ok, not that many…but at least 15.  I can sleep better knowing that not only do they like the new Sandra Bullock movie AND they like the new Pampers that is being sold.  Did I mention that twenty seconds later, they liked a certain winery too?

Social media websites got really big in the early 2000s, and each new technology makes it easier for people to bug one another online even more…and to stay a little more distant from each other.  Last night, I spent time with a house full of friends.  OMG, it reminded me of the 1990s..where friends actually spent time together and conversed in person.  It was fun, LOL!!!!!  (Yes, I hate the tons of exclamation marks AND THE TYPING IN CAPS THAT SO MANY PEOPLE DO NOW.  STOP YELLING, EVERYBODY!
So, a few of my online pet peeves.  See?  Told you I needed some motorcycle riding today.  Oh well, maybe next weekend!

10 lessons for the journey

Awhile back, I answered somebody’s question online when they asked about riding their motorcycle in the pursuit of cleansing their soul.  They wanted to some basic tips about taking a journey, and how to make it the best that they could.  In response, I gave him ten tips (and a bonus at the end) to help him along.  I received his heartfelt appreciation for the words, and we have stayed in touch from time to time since.   I thought it would be a good thing to share with others.  Even for those that do not ride, I believe that many of the following can apply to everyday life or when soul-searching your direction.

Ten Lessons for the Journey

Lesson #1

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Don’t forget to look around and appreciate what you are passing as you continue towards that end goal. Sometimes what we do not see when we are in a hurry would have been even better to view than what awaits us at the end.

Lesson #2

On many journeys, you’ll meet some very interesting random people. On one journey, I met a person who has become a very close friend of mine now for years. It started with a simple “hello” as I got off the bike to pump gas into the tank. Take a second to be nice to another person or chatting with an inquisitive soul; fate may reward you with a lifelong brother or sister.

Lesson #3

Ride with a small notepad. You will eventually need it; whether to capture a name, phone number, or town name, you will want to remember something just hours later. Small flip notepads fit into any jacket pocket. Rite in Rain pads and pens allow you to take the notes in inclement weather conditions.

Lesson #4

No matter what kind of hurry you are in, document the journey. Take a camera (video and/or still) with you and use it. Years from now, you are going to want to have physical reminders of your memories. Just do not forget to take a moment to actually capture something about your journey as you go. Throw a note on a pink piece of paper and affix to the corner of your windshield as a reminder. Start a blog, like I have here. Write in a paper diary or a electronic journal in Microsoft Word on your computer. Memories get foggy over time; archive the adventure with pictures and words now.

Lesson #5

Hydration is critical. Even when it’s freezing outside, your body is losing precious water. Any time you stop for a rest or to get fuel, get at least a few swigs of liquids into you, and preferably a entire bottle. Did you know that around 90% of all headache are caused due to being dehydrated? Tylenol and aspirin are great for headaches by the way, but the water you swig down with them sometimes is what really makes it go away. Back on track here…keep the body healthier by drinking plenty of fluids. Even on timed Ironbutt rides, it’s okay to stop and get a drink and piss when needed.

If you can, install a water bottle holder on your bike.  That way the Gatorade or freshly squeezed orange juice is never too far away.  Get one of the water bottles with the one-handed openers on the lid.  Reach and drink only when safe to do so of course; keep the alcohol away from said container.

Lesson #6

Eating is important too. One of the best ways to fight off fatigue is to down an energy bar, or something with lots of carbs or sugar for a quick fix. Trail mix is an awesome energy booster, is very easily stored, and actually tastes great. Make it yourself and you can put in some caramel popcorn that no manufacturers seem to do.

Lesson #7

Sleep or rest when tired. Ever come close to falling asleep in your car while driving? It can easily happen on a bike too. You get fatigued and tired from your riding, the jacket you wear puts you at the perfect comfortable range of warmth, and the drone of the motorcycle exhaust becomes a beautiful hum in the middle of your brain. You suddenly realize you are going into a sharp curve at 55 MPH, and slam the bakes. If you make it out of the curve undamaged, it’s time to get off the bike for a while and take a break and rejuvenate the body with some sleep.

Research studies show that even a fifteen minute cat nap can provide up to a 172% boost in performance after doing the same activity for 7 hours.  There’s a reason why one of the foreign-owned factories I worked at many years ago had a mandated twenty minute quiet-time break period in the middle of our twelve hour shifts.  They even advised people to take cat naps during the time.  And it really worked to get you through the last part of your shift, and the manufacturer saw a very beneficial labor spike from their rested workers.

Lesson #8

Get the right gear. Whether you are riding for a few hours, or a few months, find the appropriate gear to keep you safe, comfortable, and able to continue. Backpacking ultra-light gear is very expensive, but durable and space saving on a motorcycle trip. Find jackets, boots, gloves, helmet, and pants that will provide the necessary protections you will require.

Lesson #9

If your body and spirit are willing, get out of the motels and camp off the bike. One of the best things I have discovered about motorcycle journeys is the easiness of camping out with nature. Bring mosquito repellant and bear spray depending on location. There’s tons of portable cooking gear and methods, all easily packed onto a bike (see tip #8 above about backpacking gear). A decent tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag can provide many years of enjoyment; it costs quite a bit up front, but you get the money back quickly by not staying at that large chain hotel with the nasty continental breakfast. There’s something about waking up in the morning dew and sounds of a forest that just refreshes the spirit in a person.

Lesson #10

Remember, it’s about the journey. Elsewhere, millions of others are currently working, sleeping, or fighting with their kids over the fact they aren’t doing their chores. Take lots of deep breaths, really smell that fresh country air for change, and listen to what that wind is telling you as it merges into your soul while you ride.


Take the road less traveled.  When everybody goes left, go right.  Find what the world offers around that curve over there that nobody else explores.

Just remember:  Sometimes you just need to chase the dream that makes you happy for a change, even if it only lasts for a short time.  There’s always a tomorrow; but most of us will never experience what our soul seeks if we wait for the next opportunity that may never arise again.

Back half finished (me thinks!)

“Half” the bike work is now completed.  At least the rear of the bike has been 95% assembled, and we did not have any bolts left over.  It almost looks like a bike again.

Them sure are some purty shocks there!
The Mistress…almost back together

One of the upgrades I did previously to the bike is to remove the “quick release” pins that hold on the saddlebags, and replace them with a harder to remove unique torx head bolt and locking nut (both stainless steel and rustproof of course).  Since I have been riding and meeting people, I have heard many stories about people losing their saddlebags to a thief when parking the bike for a night.  Heck, on YouTube, there’s a video of a guy showing how to steal them…in less than five seconds…even with them locked onto the bike.  So, I made them a little harder to steal.  Since I have not cleaned up the back of the bike yet, I left the saddlebags and one of the side covers off at this point.

Oh yeah…seat is off, due to the fact I want to do some electrical work on the Ultra either while at my friend’s place or back home.  Have not decided where to do this yet, so the large cushion remains off.

The one curious thing that comes to mind so far about this work:  Why does Harley-Davidson recommend that most of the bolts we accessed were designed for only “one time usage” and should be replaced?  Most of these bolts are Grade 8, some of the strongest forged pieces of steel imaginable.  And the size!  Some of these bolts are thick, thick, thick!    While not cost prohibitive, everything does cost something and replacing all the bolts adds up over time.  $2 here, $3 there can amount to over a hundred bucks on bolts for the work we are doing on the Ultra in just this round of upgrades alone.  So, we replace bolts like the rotor bolts since those are a no-brainer…but reuse the rear sprocket bolts.

As seen in the last posting, we had to remove the Vance & Hines Monster Ovals exhaust pipes to do all the required work on the rear.  Both Harley and V&H recommends never reusing the same set of exhaust clamps once they have been removed from the bike.  The cheap person in my family, me, has reused them probably five times as I upgraded from one exhaust to another, or to remove the pipes to do other necessary work.  They have always worked well being reused with no exhaust leaks appearing.  But…since I was buying other replacement bolts, I bought the new muffler clamps as well.  eBay is full of motorcycle bolts for sale that were once used…and people are buying them…so guess where my used bolts will be going when I get time?

I need to get the Ultra out and ride her for an hour or two, to check out all the work we have done.  It would suck to do all the work on the front too, then end up with a wobble, noise, or vibration that’s hard to troubleshoot where it is originating from.  This way, only half the bike would have to get torn apart to try to fix any issues.  Saturday has us already busy with other commitments.  Weather for Sunday looks like 65 degrees; a very nice warm up and definitely doable riding temperatures!  However, they are also forecasting a 90% chance of severe thunderstorms (BOOOOOOOO!)  If I have to ride into a thunderstorm to get somewhere, I will (and have, many, many times).  But nobody (including me) really has any interest in pulling the bike out of a garage to face lighting, wind, driving rain, moms on cell phones not paying attention while they drive, and possible hail or worse.  So, the chance to climb on top of the Mistress after a week at work that had some high ups and low downs, and get some lovin’ back, is probably not going to happen unless the forecast significantly changes.