Friday the 13th Ride Report

What’s one to do when the weekend weather forecast is for showers and thunderstorms?  Take the Friday off, and go ride while the weather is great!  Knowing that the weekend would most likely bring about a depression from not being able to ride due to inclement weather after putting in tons of hours working this week, I decided to join up with some friends and go hit some curves for a period of relaxation.

Jeff S and Aaron put a notice out on Facebook to all their friends regarding a ride they had thrown together over the last few days, and invited anybody that could sneak out of work that wanted to participate.  Although we knew that this morning would be in the high 30s to start the day temperature wise, I made the plans to join. And, so did a few others.

In what we called the Jeff convention today, I made plans to meet another Jeff…Jeff C, and to ride with him to our initial meeting point with other people playing hooky today from their employment.  When leaving at 8:15, the air temp had warmed up to a very balmy 39 degrees.  While the temptation may have been there to ride out of the driveway in shorts, tank top, and flip flops, I donned all my leather over the top of my thermal underwear and set out into the increasing sunshine.  The ride to meet with Jeff C wasn’t bad at all, although traffic was heavier than usual…must be from all the other people that were running late for work.

Being the first to arrive at the Shell gas station we agreed to meet at, a quick look at the fuel gauge showed I’d need to put some running juice into the motorcycle.  Jeff C pulled up as I finished topping off my Hog’s fuel tank, and together we made small talk for a few minutes.  We had put out a message onto the wonderful world of Facebook that we’d do a satellite ride from there to Brownsburg, where the main group would meet up.  Not many of our fellow riders live around the area, so at 9AM, we headed over to I-465 and joined the daily commuters on the asphalt.

The ride to Brownsburg was uneventful, and traffic lightened up once we got away from the main areas of Indianapolis.  Brownsburg is a growing town on the west side of Indy, with plenty of construction both on buildings and roads that never seems to end.  Dodging the uneven edges of the streets riding surfaces, we pulled into CVS in the middle of town to await the rest of the group.  First to arrive were Aaron and his wife Etta, followed soon afterwards by Ellie, Sid, Jeff S, and Sherry.  The planned route was quickly discussed, in which lunch was mentioned to be around 1:30PM.  Never missing a chance to eat something, I proceeded inside the pharmacy, where I found a Snickers bar calling my name.  “Really Satisfies” is one of their marketing slogans, and after putting it to the test, found that it was true enough to hold my appetite until lunch some 3+ hours later.

Leaving CVS, Aaron took the lead heading south down IN-267, which took us past the neighborhood that Phil and Diana live.  They were eagerly sitting by the side of the road waiting for our procession to appear, and they quickly jumped into the pack as we all continued heading to our next stop…Harley-Davidson West.  A medium sized dealership just off of I-70, we pulled into the parking lot to find Dan and Marcy awaiting our arrival.  All riders now accounted for, we found that 11 bikes and 12 people were joining us for the trip today.  As we prepared to leave, Ellie mentioned that she was having some bike issues, but still wanted to ride with us.  Throughout the day, we continued to ask her how her Hog was working, in which she told us it was puttin’ along fine.

The first 30 minutes of our ride with the main pack was eventful to the point that something bad could have occurred, but did not.  Without naming names (not yours truly though), one person had helmet issues and had to work on getting it tight while sitting at a stop sign.  Another rider had issues due to the fact that their tour pak wasn’t shut, and later, found that after the stop at HD West, they had left a saddlebag open.  All easy fixes which required extended stops at intersections in which we had to wait for passing traffic anyways.  Other than these problems, the rest of the day continued without additional issues.

I posted the ride route earlier today on my blog here, so I’ll refrain from doing a turn-by-turn evaluation every road that we took.  One of our destinations was Lake Lemon, outside of Bloomington, Indiana.  Indiana is definitely a screwed up state…there’s a Lemon Lake near the NW corner of the state, and Lake Lemon south of Indianapolis.  I wonder how many people have ended up going to the wrong lake to meet friends or family, only to find out that they are on the opposite side of the state.  I’m sure it’s happened.

We found and then rode around Lake Lemon, and came out on IN-45.  This road is full of both fast sweeping and tight curves, and we all found it very enjoyable to ride.  After a few turns, we found our way to Bean Blossom, where we proceeded down IN-135 into Nashville, Indiana.  I’ve written about this town before…it’s a tourist town, with tons of stores that sell wood good, knick-knacks, and crafts.  It’s so crowded on the weekends, it takes forever to usually find a parking spot.  Even on a work day, the town was still busy, but parking was found easily after a few turns on the side streets.

The eatery of the day was chosen to be The Hob Nob.  Located in the middle of town on the SW corner of the main stoplight, we walked over to it, and after a 15-minute wait, were seated inside.  Even though the temperature had warmed up by this time (around 1:30PM), most of us kept on our leathers and chaps to find that they offered the perfect layers of comfort.  Once seated, we all found ourselves to have gotten thirsty over the last couple of hours, and we all happily downed our glasses of ice tea, water, and other ordered drinks with abandon.

Eight of us sat at a group of tables pulled together, and the other four took up residence a few feet away.  We all seemed to order different things, and the general consensus was the food was excellent by most of the riders.  Marcy ordered the chicken salad plate, and was surprised to see it arrive with a curry and apple seasoning that she liked very well.  Aaron, our food connoisseur who knows where to find the best food in the state at the most off-beat places, recommends the Reuben sandwich.  I, the expert of breaded tenderloin sandwiches who is forever trying to find the ultimate version, found their sandwich to barely made an average grade.  Too much of a taste like a pork fritter, and not a good fit for the homemade bread that accompanied it as a bun.   The service was excellent though, and the waitress kept our glasses constantly full without waiting for us to have to call her over.  I noticed the tips on the table left by the others in the group shows that they also noticed the great service.

Having had just an “average” lunch, I couldn’t shake the memory of the four choices for dessert I had seen on the menu earlier.  Strawberry shortcake, chocolate temptation, peanut butter pie, and bread pudding.  Everybody seemed full from their meal, but I kept talking about the peanut butter pie enough to get a few others interested.  To our table came a couple slices of the pie, and some of the bread pudding.  The pieces of pie were offered to others at our table, and the general consensus was that it was simply divine.  The best part of the entire meal for me, and something I’d recommend to anybody that is down there shopping and just wanting a snack at a table some place.  Sweet, but not overly sweet…and had the consistency of a superb made cheesecake in texture.  Rich enough that it feeds two, and tasty enough you’ll talk about it later.

What…this blog is now a food review site?  No…got a little sidetracked.  Here, look at this pie…tell me it’s not worth talking about!

After we all waddled back to our bikes like a pack of stuffed penguins, we quickly decided to re-rendezvous at a gas station down the street to plan our way back home.  Sid offered to take the lead from Aaron as he was well aware of the area, and took the other 10 of us a extremely interesting ride out of Nashville through non-stop curves.  If you click on the ride route I uploaded in the posting underneath this, you’ll see that we all discovered areas of the county we had never been before…and a route I’d recommend to anybody to ride.

We all made one final stop in Bargersville, where after a rest of about ten minutes, we decided to say our goodbyes.  A weather front was approaching Indiana, which we all knew would be hitting this evening.  While we do ride in the rain, we prefer not to…so after saying goodbye to the friends, the group divided into two initially as one group headed for the west side of Indy, the other to the east.  Jeff C took the lead of myself, as well as Dan and Marcy.  I-465 was packed with after-work traffic, and once we were able to merge onto it behind dozens of semis, we picked up speed and had an uneventful trip as each of us slowly peeled off into our own directions home.

As what is becoming customary and very welcome, it was a great day of riding, with good food, a adventurous trip, and great friends.  There are going to be some great trips this year out on the asphalt, and I will continue to keep a record of it here.

Friday the 13th Ride

Bike maintenance nearly done for 2012 season!

The 2012 riding season started earlier than expected with the warm weather that graced this part of the country the last month or so. The Ultra Classic is close to passing my maintenance inspection to ready it for the entire riding season. At just a shade over 24,000 miles on the speedometer, we’ve been making sure to check the entire bike for issues, in which quite a few things required being remedied.
Over the past few weeks, the bike has seen replacement and maintenance of a number of items, including:

  • New Dunlop E3 tires
  • New front brake rotors
  • New fluids in all three holes
  • New brake pads checked from last fall, great condition
  • Clutch adjustment checked
  • New driving and passing lamps
  • Every bolt checked for tightness
  • Every line checked for leaks
  • New 4-way power port installed in the tour pak to charge phones, camera, GPS, etc
  • Fairing braces checked
  • Kickstand retightened
  • Amp, stereo, and speaker connections checked and tightened
  • And lots of other stuff checked for the riding season

All that’s left to do is a simple spark plug exchange, K&N air filter cleaning, and swap out the fuel filter…all projects that will be done over the next week as I find time. I’m also getting ready to order a special brace that allows mounting of the CB radio under the stereo inside the fairing, as it was removed previously to make room for the Arc Audio amp that drives my speakers.

Looks like there will be a ride on Saturday with the local HOG chapter, known as the breakout ride. Kind of an organized ride that encourages everybody to bring out the bikes and kick the cobwebs off their bikes if they haven’t rode it over the winter months.

So, another riding season is officially starting up, and we are excited to get out on the asphalt as much as possible this year. Preparations are still ongoing for the Ride to the Wall in Washington, D.C. in May, and it appears even more people are planning to tag along both for the primary ride, as well as our breakout ride heading down to the curves in Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. I’ve been playing with the video camera as much as I can during the short motorcycle rides so far this season, and think I have mastered both recording placement and it’s internal controls. Looking forward to writing about at least the major rides again as I did in 2011, and sharing the sights and stories as they are encountered.

Why Best Buy is slowly failing

Today, the journey on asphalt took me to one of the “great” electronics stores, Best Buy. My wife had surprised me last fall with an iPad 2, which replaced my desktop and laptop needs for about 95% of my computer needs. Needless to say, the present became a daily activity, and my wife would make comments about wanting one as well. So, I decided to surprise her with one of her own.

A number of places sell the iPads now, and since they are all the same price at the walk-in retailers, I proceeded to Best Buy since they were the closest. Even though the parking lot was near empty due to the fact that it was in the middle of a workday, my trip inside convinces me there is another reason shoppers may be buying their desires elsewhere. The Best Buy I visited today is much different than the ones I’ve visited in the past years. Online forums nowadays slam the attitudes of the workers in this electronics store, and today I saw exactly what they are talking about.

Walking in, the greeter at the door (actually, the person making sure you aren’t stealing on the way out) gave me a non-caring and bland hello as I walked past him. Returning his greeting, I turned to him to see he had feigned his interest as his nose was deep in a gamers magazine. On my mission, I walked through the store towards the computer area in the back. At least a half dozen employees were passed, and each asked if I needed help. It seems by my experience that they are “eager” to help when they can tell you are passing through their work areas, but as soon as you actually stop, they seem to disappear. Arriving at the computer area, this was confirmed when I actually went looking for somebody to actually help.

The first sales lady saw me walking towards her, and she turned around and went into the employee only area at the back of the store. Approximately two minutes later, a salesman came walking over, and started playing with the laptops. I walked over to him, stood next to him, and waited for him to acknowledge me. Ten or so seconds went by, and he finally looked up from the solitaire game on the screen and said, “Yeah?”. His exact word…real professional. It only gets better from here.

After explaining exactly what I was looking for, he just stood there looking at me. I asked, “well, do you have any in stock?”. The sheepish twenty-something piece of work responded, “I don’t know, I’ll have to look.”. With that, he continued to stand there and stare at me. I actually had to say, “then go look”. Those that know me can vouch that I’m easy going, have patience, but that I don’t deal with disrespect or idiocy very well. It gets my goat when I, as the customer, have to tell a salesperson what to do since they have absolutely no motivation to move their feet and work.

The iPads are stored in a steel cage near the ceiling of the store, requiring the employee to use a rolling ladder to retrieve them. The lazy salesman proceeded to three times make the journey up and down the steps as he continued to grab the first box that he saw, bring it down, and only then examine the label to identify that he had repeatedly grabbed the wrong model. With repeated sighs and exaggerated heavy breaths, it was comical to watch somebody get unneeded exercise due the fact he was attempting to exert the least amount of energy to conduct his job.

The dimwit finally realized he had the correct box, and stated such as if I was expected to drop down on my knees, kiss his feet, and recognize his superior skills. While the temptation was there to claim “hallelujah” and start finding the floor, I managed to retain my composure and simply responded, “good”. I reached out for the iPad box, which brought about an expression of near horror from the now awakened salesman. “Oh, no…no, sorry, I have to hold onto this until you are ready to pay for it!” was the immediate response to my actions. He went on to explain that it’s against policy to allow a customer to walk around the store with this type of item, in the event that they were going to steal it.

There I am, standing in business clothes, the only customer in the store, under the watchful eye of security cameras and a dozen bored salespeople, being insulted by a kid making $9 an hour who doesn’t know the meaning of customer service. I already have an iPad, and wasn’t necessarily in any hurry to buy another one. However, I was there and wanted it to surprise my wife, so I simply responded fine. I pulled out my wallet, counted it out to cover the cost and tax and handed it to the future abuser of our unemployment system when he finally gets fired. After counting my money incorrectly twice, the sales guy finally counted it accurately, gave me my chance, sealed the iPad in a special bag, and handed it to me. No “thank you”, “appreciate your coming in”, or anything. He simply walked back to the laptop he was on earlier, and proceeded to play his card game again.

Incredulous, I simply walked off with my purchase. I walked by the DVD area, and started looking for a blue ray version of “The Hurt Locker” since I’ve been wantIng to see it. Not finding it, I walked over two aisles and found a twenty-something lady stocking some music CDs with the enthusiasm of watching paint dry. I asked her if she had the blue ray, and she responded, “I have no idea”, and turn back to her stocking duties. With this, I was done. It’s going to be a long time before I visit a Best Buy store again.

Recently, Best Buy posted their financials, and their senior management cannot understand why sales are going down. They blame their need to close some of their stores on the fact their customers are leaving them and buying from their competition online. News for the Best Buy decision makers: your shopping policies and your employees are driving your customers away. When your employees don’t know the word customer service, they aren’t supervised properly by store management, they don’t know where the products are, and treat every customer like a potential thief, you aren’t going to be breaking any more sales records.

What really gets me is that some other big retailers failed for the same reason that Best Buy is going downhill. Circuit City, CompUSA, and others are long gone when their staff and policies turned odd their customer base. The writing is on the wall, Best Buy, perhaps someday you will see it before it is too late. We’ve spent thousands of dollars at Best Buy, but looks like this trend is coming to an end. We don’t mind supporting local walk-in businesses, but shopping online anywhere else would have provided a quicker and more fulfilling experience than what Best Buy seems to be offering lately.

I like to do motorcycle related reviews, but today, the review was of a store in the middle of my latest asphalt journey.