Archive for October 3rd, 2007

ArdysAre you the type guy who had his chromed-up noisy thang dialed in and drive to the bars? Or do you really go someplace – ride it to Yellowstone, to Glacier, to Laughlin?! Maybe you sit around worrying about the sub-prime market and seldom ride beyond the dealer due to high fuel prices?

I’ve ridden a fair number of miles this year through summer colors of green and acres of corn, beans and white, puffy clouds. The Road King is a wonderful way to be at one with nature. So whatever type rider you are, you know that fall has arrived in the Northwest and those “Dog Days” of summer are only a memory. Like the Chris Ledoux song — The nights are gettin colder, well, man you’re gettin older. Tonight I’m feelin my age…

Demographics have been on Harley’s side since the ‘80s. Japanese bikes are less expensive and built more like hot rods, attracting a younger set. Harley’s niche is cruising bikes…otherwise known as heavyweights and they’ve catered to the baby boomer demographic. But boomers range in age from 40 to 62 and the average age of a new Harley buyer is 45 years old. In last nine years that average went up 7 years! In the next five it might be as high as 50. Harley will have to re-name all the models – Road Geezer; Fatbaster; Ultra Geezer; Street Geezer etc.! You get the idea. Harley is challenged to attract a younger rider with the willingness to lay out a premium price over that of its competitors. Maybe the V-gReezer will save the day and pull in the kind of person who has the income?

What about the rest of us? You know, like the “Blue-Hairs” driving a 40 foot Holiday Rambler when is it time to put down the “Costco cheater glasses” and hang up the chaps? Spend time sipping chardonnay while polishing paint vs. riding? NO WAY!

Not me, I’m going to be like Ardys “Queenie” Kellerman (photo above). At 74 years of age she rode more than 80,000 miles in ’06 to win the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (Women) mileage contest. Clearly she doesn’t like to stay home! She started riding thirty-five years ago with a small Yamaha, stepped up to a Honda CB360. Since then BMW has been her motorcycle of choice. Queenie completed 4 Iron Butt rallies (11,000 miles in 11 days). Thousand mile days are routine for her. You can read more about her in the BMWOA article.

I don’t know what the great-grandmother’s secret is, but I hope I have half her ambition and riding skills when I’m the same age!!

Kellerman picture courtesy BMWOA.

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santanaBefore we closed out Saturday evening we enjoyed the sounds of a Carnival/Latino band.  They played Santana down to the exact guitar note and percussion crash. Awesome group. I got a fairly good picture of the band and thought I’d post it. If anyone knows who this group is let me know and I’ll update the post. UPDATE: Band is Caravanserai. A Santana tribute band who painstakingly recreate the sound. Photo is Hank Gibson (L:Bass/Vocals) and Leo Herrera (R:Guitar/Vocals).

Sunday was our return trip to Portland.  It was going to be a very full day of riding — Reno, Susanville thru Mt Shasta to Portland via I-5.  More than 550 miles in the saddle and the weather had turned ugly.
When I tour on longer trips I bring gear for temperatures between 30°F and 100°F and assume that it could be raining continuously (as in 24 hours a day). I try and do this no matter where I’m going and no matter what the time of year. It may seem silly to bring an electrically heated vest when touring in southern Nevada in September but it’s a habit and it’s been rare where I’ve taken a trip and didn’t use every piece of riding clothing that I brought at least once.  As was the case on this trip I used every electric piece of clothing I owned.

A full face helmet was needed to avoid an “ice cream” headache. Riding in the cold isn’t really the limiting factor – it’s the lousy traction conditions when you get rain or snow on the roads. We had 40°F with rain the entire way to Susanville, CA. The mountain range got a dusting of snow and by the time we stopped, up-plugged the gear at a local McD’s, it was just down right nasty. The additional effect – called wind-chill factor has a way of cooling everything and it is significant on a bike.  It has a way of finding any itty-bitty opening in clothing and making it worse. The faster the air is moving the faster it will cool.
susanville snow
Standing in line at the Susanville McD’s a dude told us of his departure from Reno only to find himself “wheels-up” after rounding a slick corner. Nothing major was hurt other than his pride and his significant other never stopped rolling her eyes and giving him the “if looks could kill” look! We up-leveled our body temp with some hot java and sausage biscuits. While we were eating the rain stopped. We redressed and departed and by the time we made another 40 miles the roads were dry and we were making quick tracks to Mt. Shasta.
Mt Shasta
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.  This route is good and fast with varied and interesting scenery.   When we stopped in Mount Shasta for gas and started peeling off clothes as the sunshine started making the day look better.

We hit the on ramp for I-5, stopped once for a quick gas-n-go and then landed in Eugene at a local truck stop for dinner. We made it home in a little over 11 hours and only a slight ear buzz.   Another terrific and safe trip!

There is a difference between travel and a vacation. We choose the itinerary for vacations, but our motorcycle travels lead us on a journey…

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