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Victoria Art Car Parade

14 Oct

Pull out your calendar and write this down.  No questions — just do it.  “Victoria Art Car Parade,  May 2015.  Bring camera.”

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Two of my favorite scooter mates, Lonnie and Hudson, joined me for the three-hour ride from Austin to the annual Victoria Art Car Parade and Festival.  No offense to anyone, but traveling southeast towards the Texas coast totally bores me, so let’s skip the ride and get there already.

There was plenty of room for everyone and their lawn chairs to find a place along the art car parade route.  Found a sweet spot and settled in with the sun to our backs.

We were afraid this might turn out to be some dinky small-town parade with a few cars, but that was definitely not the case.  I guess there might have been 40 cars, maybe more, maybe less.

“Lady of Transportation” led the parade.  I don’t know which I liked better, the car (semi-truck!) or the driver/artist.  (You’ll see what I mean when you watch the video.)  Artist Amber Eagle says she received her inspiration from the patron saints of Mexico when she created this amazing art car.

Hundreds of hours went into creating the minute details in each work of art.  The crowd loved it all!

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The parade wound around the town square and past the courthouse, and it was fun to hear the crowd cheering from the next block over.  The route ended in a parking lot, where we met some of the artists and admired the art cars up close.  Here is Hudson showing some respect.

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Clearly, some of the artists have a sense of humor.  If you’re prone to creepy-clown nightmares, perhaps you’ll want to overlook the next picture.

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I couldn’t begin to fit everything into my Victoria Art Car Parade video, and it only shows a few of these impressive works of art.  Be sure to watch it through to the end and feel your jaw drop when you see the last “car” from Mark “Scrapdaddy” Bradford.

We finished our adventure with a late lunch at Pump House Riverside Restaurant.  The historic building was interesting and the food was pretty good, but it seemed strangely low key after the art car festivities.

If you dislike crowds and standing in lines, but enjoy small-town entertainment, the Victoria Art Car Parade is exactly the ticket.  See you there in May!

Peace on the Road!
BT

P.S.  In spite of the long absence, your Auntie Biketrash has definitely not retired from riding.  In fact, she is four events behind in her stories and videos, including last month’s week-long trip to Arkansas that does not yet have an ending.  Stay tuned, slowly but surely. . . .

Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Slideshow/Video

10 Oct

Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride slideshow/video is hot off the press and can be found further down the page.

To learn a little more about our ride, check out my earlier DGR write-up.

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For those of you who like to read about this sort of thing. . . .

This was the first time I used my new GoPro Hero 3+ Black, and I must say I’m impressed.  Making the jump from a Hero 2 is quite a leap!  The second video clip shown facing backwards was done with the Hero 2; everything else was with the Hero 3+.  The Hero 2 does okay, but the Hero 3+ is much better.

I tried to use both cameras with one Wi-Fi remote.  It worked the night before, but not on this day.  While I don’t know what the problem was, in the future I’ll use two remotes.

Hard-mounting the GoPro to the handlebars is a vibrating mess, and my body seems to be the best shock absorber.   I’ve found that it helps to pull my shoulders up a little when the cameras are running.  I’m still experimenting with image stabilization software, but have yet to find the perfect solution.

As shown in the following picture, I put both cameras on my helmet facing in opposite directions, and it seemed to work well.  Of course, when I put the helmet on, the cameras will be at the correct angle.

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Here is my slideshow/video from our DGR breakfast gathering and short ride through Austin.

Peace on the Road!
BT

Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

7 Oct

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride “is all about dapper, classic bikes, laughter and men. It is a motorcycle ride that takes place in over 110 cities worldwide on the exact same day. In 2013 the money raised . . . will be split between charities that focus on Prostate Cancer research and awareness that showcase preventive procedures.”   (From the website.)

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Yesterday I joined several gentlemen and a few gentlewomen for the first annual Austin DGR.  I never miss a chance to wear a fake distinguished mustache, and Evelyn (my yellow HD200) even caught the spirit by donning a black tie.

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We met at Full English for an authentic English brekkie.

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A few of the dapper gents.

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And a few of the bikes.

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Auntie Biketrash (or is that Uncle Biketrash?) would like to invite her dear readers, if they are so moved, to contribute a few quids to the health of our guys.  If so, here is a link to the donation page for my mate, Lonnie the Lonster.  Donations will be accepted for a few more days.

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And who do you suppose won the award for most distinguished gentleman?  The prize was an awesome t-shirt.  In fact, I love the t-shirt so much, that if my left hand could pull in a clutch lever, tomorrow I’d accessorize with a Triumph Bonnie  as soon as the doors open at Lonestar!

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Here is a slideshow/video of our ride.

Peace on the Road!
BT

To Tour, or Not to Tour

29 Aug

That was the question!

A while back one of my riding buddies told me he’d like to ask some questions about cross-country touring.  Said he has a couple of trips in mind, but is wondering if he can do it.  Now, my friend is a big, strong man and a capable rider.  There are no outward reasons for self-doubt.  Clearly, his reluctance (perhaps fear?) has to do with the unknown.

Of course, my response to him was to tour — and that’s a convenient segue to the rest of my tale.

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While I haven’t toured for a couple of years, I’ve taken plenty of long rides and been on a few overnighters.  During that time I’ve grown a little older, lost some strength and stamina, replaced a powerful bike with a not-so-powerful bike.  Those changes eroded my confidence and conjured up doubts, questions, reluctance — and perhaps even fear about my ability to complete a cross-country trip.

The antidote for that fear was to tour in spite of my doubts. . . so here is Pearl (Suzuki Burgman 400) earlier this month loaded and ready to leave on a trip to Des Moines.

IMG_3420I rolled down the driveway at 4:15 a.m. and by 4:20 a.m. was filled with the sense of freedom and exhilaration that comes from moving forward on two wheels.  Lingering doubts?  Reluctance?  Fear?  No, no and no!

Texas was hot, even in the piney woods, but when I reached the Boston Mountains in Arkansas, the temperature began a steady drop.  Severe weather and flooding in Missouri forced me to take an uninteresting detour via superslab, so let’s skip all that and pick up with the ride back to Austin.

Headed south from Des Moines on secondary roads, looking forward to some good ole Heartland scenery.  While the Midwest has lost almost all of its prairie land, Iowa and Missouri roadsides, fence lines, and ditches are covered with native grasses and wild flowers.  I saw tons of chicory, prairie clover, sunflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, ironweed, coneflowers, and many others I couldn’t identify.  All morning a steady, light rainfall softened the light, but made stopping for pictures difficult.

One weird observation is that it seems like every time I’m in Missouri it rains.  What’s up with that?

In Springfield, Missouri, I searched out the World’s Largest Fork.  Pretty good roadside attraction and worth taking the  time to find it.

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South of Springfield, the road turned into a narrow Ozark state highway with plenty of twists, turns, and changes in elevation.  What a relief and joy to lean into the curves and knock those rubber doodads off my new rear tire.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

I’d called ahead and made reservations at The Trails Inn, a mom-and-pop hotel in Eureka Springs.  It was reasonably priced, had all the basics, was exceptionally clean, and the owners were friendly and helpful.

But here’s the kicker.  When I pulled in, the hotel parking lot was full of Burgmans, Silverwings, a Pacific Coast and Helix, and a few other types of scooters and motorcycles!  Note the custom-yellow Burgman 650.

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Turns out a group of scooter-loving friends come to Eureka Springs each year to ride and b.s. for several days.  They immediately walked up, introduced themselves, and invited me to their cookout.  Had an awesome hotdog and was put on the mailing list for next year.

As always, unknown friends are found in every turn of the road.  If that doesn’t boost sagging confidence, nothing will!

After an early good-bye to my new friends, I couldn’t wait to get onto the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, which gets its name from wild pigs that carved trails through the thick forest.  Being a weekday morning with little traffic, the road belonged to me.  The best word I can think of to describe the Pig Trail is enchanting.  Love it!

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The Ouachita Mountains and Arkansas River Valley are not technically part of the Ozarks, but in my mind it’s all the same.  While the Ouachitas, located in Western Arkansas, seem less rugged, they’re every bit as scenic and green as the Ozarks.  Magnificent riding.  All I know is the drive through Arkansas went way too fast!

Crossed the Red River and entered the piney woods of East Texas.  Spent the night a few miles outside of Alto with my good friends, Lynda and David.  I dislike the fact that they moved away from Austin, but am happy I get to visit their rustic hideaway in the trees.

Coming home the next morning, I reflected on my 2,200 miles on the road with Pearl.  I had to admit my touring life has slowed down a bit and, yes, there have been changes and adjustments.  In the end, though, the mileage and scenery are the same, no matter how fast or slow I travel.  Isn’t that what really matters?

So to get back to the original question. . . .  The answer, most definitely, is to tour!

Peace on the Road!
BT

Capital City Rockers vs Mods 2013

12 Apr

This year’s Capital City Rockers vs Mods rally was a blast!  No hooligan fights broke out and there was no property damage.  In fact,  Austin Pets Alive received the profits.  Jeremiah did a good job putting this together, and I’m already looking forward to 2014.

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Jeremiah, our leader.

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Ginger Spice, a mod, came along for the ride.

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I love the clean, simple look of the café-style rocker bikes.  Basically, anything old or vintage captures my definition of cool.  Still partial to a blue Yamaha.  Notice the taped-on headlight.

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For more information about the Rockers vs Mods so-called rivalry or mystique, check out my Rockers vs Mods 2012 post.  You’ll find an interesting interview with my friend, Martin, who was a real-life Mod back in England in the sixties.  He sets the record straight about the “riot” in Brighton.

Martin’s scooter at Down Under Deli.

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Here we are getting ready to leave on the ride on Sunday.  I found this picture on Facebook and don’t have any idea who to credit.  Sorry!

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Here is my video showing some of the fun we had.  (Can anyone tell me why there is so much noise and “stuttering” after downloading to Vimeo?)

“It isn’t the bikes, is it? It’s the people. . . . I don’t want to be the same as everybody else. . . . I mean, you gotta be somebody, ain’t you? Or you may as well jump in the sea and drown.”
–Jimmy, Quadrophenia

I have to say I agree with Jimmy, and I’ll bet everyone shown in the video agrees.  Yes, in the end it’s the people.

Peace on the road!
BT

So Long, Old Friend

12 Feb

I did the unthinkable. Now I need to confess, so let me come right out and say it.

I traded in Lizzie, my beloved V-Star 1300. Lizzie is the loyal friend who took me on all the adventures you see in the right sidebar. Yes, I do feel like a dirty, rotten traitor!

Here’s the thing. At 725 pounds (unloaded), she was becoming too much to handle. During the 64,000 miles we were together, not once did I drop her or even bump her into anything.  Let’s just say I ain’t gettin’ any younger and the time was coming. . . .

I was vaguely aware of all this a year ago, but refused to admit it.  A strong desire to avoid reality is the real reason I didn’t ride much in 2012.  You see, to me, she was never “just a machine.”

This is one of the last big adventure shots of Lizzie, taken in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2011. She’s at her best here — dependable, loaded, and raring to go with an easy turn of the key. Totally sweet ride!IMG_1997

I traded her in at Whiteside Motors, a longtime neighborhood business down the street. They treated me well and were glad to take her, even with the EFM Auto Clutch. In fact, one of the guys at Whiteside has ridden with an auto clutch and thinks they’re great.

I thought long and hard about replacing her with a smaller motorcycle and installing an auto clutch, but decided to go with a maxi scooter for a few important reasons. 1) An auto clutch is a bit pricey to have installed; 2) no clutch lever on a maxi scooter; 3) for my purposes, a maxi scooter can do everything as well as a motorcycle; 4) a maxi scooter is extremely easy and fun to ride; 5) you don’t feel engine heat on a maxi scooter; and 6) you don’t get pummeled by updraft on a maxi scooter.  The only real negative is that I hate the term “maxi scooter”!

For more information on the EFM autoclutch, I review my experiences in this series of articles.
EFM Auto Clutch — First Impressions
EFM Auto Clutch — Almost-But-Not-Quite-Final Impressions
EFM Auto Clutch — Final Review
EFM Auto Clutch — One Year Later

I’m now the owner of a pearl white 2009 Suzuki Burgman 400. (Don’t let that “400” fool you into thinking it can’t handle highway speeds.) At 450 pounds, it feels like nuthin’ to move around. Major relief! While the change has been painful, it’s for the best.

So far my only out-of-town ride on “Pearl” was to the Hill Country Cupboard in Johnson City with my friend, Byron. Here she is with Byron’s 1992 BMW K75RT.

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So there you have it. I feel much better, having confessed. Now to get that Burgie set up for some long rides!

Peace on the Road!
BT

This Other Road

31 Dec

My license to practice shorthand in Texas courts expires tonight at midnight.  I gotta tell you, it seems strange.

Actually, my career ended a few years ago because of arthritis in my left hand.  I’m used to it now, so that’s not what feels strange.  Admitting I’m “old” enough to have arthritis and, therefore, letting my license expire is what feels strange.  How and when did that happen?

I was among the first group of reporters to be tested and certified (not grandfathered) back in ’78 — when you could still find plenty of old-school judges and lawyers around the courthouse.  The profession treated me well for 31 years, and I’ll bet you can’t find one other reporter in Texas who can make the claim of being assigned to three nice and slow-talking judges!  

Here is my only on-the-job “action” shot.

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What does this have to do with riding a motorcycle?  Not a thing, yet everything.  When all is said and done, it’s merely one part of the journey to reach my destination, isn’t it?  Yes, for me it’s always about the journey.

So I wonder where this other road goes. . . .

Peace on the road!
BT
CSR No. 364 (Exp. 12-31-12)

A Ride Story at Last!

29 Jul

(To explain my lack of ride stories lately, this summer I’ve taken three 10-day cage (car) trips to Des Moines due to a family medical issue, and that’s left little time for riding.  Fortunately, the patient is doing well, and my last trip will be in August.  By the way, cages are for wimps.  It’s so easy to travel that way!)

Now for the story. . . .

This morning before daybreak, I pulled my trusted and dusty friend, Lizzie, out of the garage. . . at last.  With little wind and a clear sky, it turned out to be the perfect day for a Sunday drive.  

The Texas Hill Country is surprisingly green for late July, and it reminded me of springtime in the early-morning light.  Seemed like I was the first person to go down the road towards Sandy, and I had to slow several times to avoid open-range cattle, white-tailed deer, and even a few jack rabbits. 

It took several minutes to pull the camera out of the saddlebag and take the next two pictures, and not one other vehicle passed.  Nice! 

Just look at that dusty, neglected windshield.  Not acceptable!

Ended up at Willow City Loop, which meanders through a unique little ecosystem with lush vegetation, desert willows, and flowing streams.  I do believe this is the most scenic road in the Texas Hill Country.  Really, you have to see it to believe it.   Saw tons of sun flowers and other wild flowers, several roadrunners (one of my favorite birds), and hundreds of butterflies.

Didn’t take any extra time to get pictures at Willow City.  I wanted to be home by 11:00, before the heat and Austin traffic had a chance to spoil the mood.  In fact, the handlebar thermometer read 90 degrees by 10:00.  (It’s always so hot out on the asphalt!)

Heading home by way of Llano, as always, I loved cruising past Enchanted Rock and seeing the pink granite “mountains” in that area.  Man, it’s been way too long!  That new gas station on the corner of SH 16 and SH 71 sure saved me the headache of driving into town. 

Some rides are fun and all; but, like today, other rides — well, they filter down and settle in your heart.  Maybe it was the saturated morning colors, maybe it was reconnecting with Lizzie, or maybe it was the gentle reminder that my chosen home is here in Texas.  Maybe I simply needed a two-wheeled experience. . . at last.    

Peace on the Road!
BT

Capital City Rockers vs. Mods

31 Mar

My personal experience is that most of the motorcycle community tends to look down on scooters.  

So when I heard that a group of motorcyclists were encouraging all types of scooters to join them for the First Annual Capital City Rockers vs. Mods rally here in Austin, I didn’t know what to expect.   I decided to give it a try and am so glad I did!

All types of motorcycles and scooters were warmly welcomed.  There was something for everyone — classic, modern, cafe racer type motorcycles and both vintage and modern scooters.   I’ve always thought the coolest bike ever is the Triumph Bonneville, so you know I appreciated the look of the cafe bikes and the riders’ laid-back attitudes.  It was a perfect venue for the easy-going scooter crowd.

This next picture is an example of the wide variety of bikes at the rally.

If the seat on this old Yammie looks uncomfortable, that’s because it’s a skateboard!

The Mods were all about style, and Charles totally dressed the part. 

It took a few tries to get the video cameras set up properly on my new Sym scooter, but worked it out by Sunday’s ride.  Here is a short video/slide show of a few highlights from the rally.  As always, cutting the weekend down to a few minutes was difficult.  

This beautiful 1964 Vespa GS160 belongs to Martin, a friend of mine from the Austin Scooter Club.  If that scooter looks authentic, it’s because Martin actually was a Mod from 1959 until 1965, when he married and settled down.  As a Mod, he rode a 1958 Douglas Vespa 150 Clubman. 

Most of you have probably heard about the Rockers and the Mods subcultures and how they supposedly engaged in fights and started riots and created moral panic, blah, blah, during the sixties in England.  Turns out none of that’s true, but was hype manufactured and perpetuated by the news media.  Martin graciously agreed to let me record a short video about the background and real story about what went on — rather, did not go on during that time.

All the Mod hooligans and Rocker louts had a great time meeting each other, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s rally!

Peace on the Road!
BT

Lake Superior Circle Tour Video

28 Oct

Here are some highlights from my recent motorcycle ride around Lake Superior. Believe me, it was difficult to reduce the 1500-mile ride down to under four minutes!  My hope is that you’ll catch a glimpse of what it’s like to share the comradery and experience of motorcycle riding!

Find my Circle Tour Travel Journal in the right sidebar under Lake Superior Part Two.

Peace on the Road!
BT

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