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Riding the River Road

30 Jan

Riding the River Road is my second video from The Long Scoot Down.  What is the Long Scoot Down?  It’s a scooter trip I went on with four friends last October.  Stay tuned for a detailed account about that trip.  (I know I said that exact same thing two months ago!)

In case you missed Riding the Big Bend, my first video from the Long Scoot Down, here it is.  If you’ve never been to Big Bend National Park, you won’t believe this is Texas.

GoPro Video Notes to Myself

Still frustrated about how much quality and color is lost when I download to Vimeo.  The quality is good when the subject doesn’t move much, but not going 40, 50, 60 miles an hour.  There has to be a site that will download at a high bitrate.  Not even sure that’s what I need.  More research.

Experimenting with vibration-damping (Yes, that’s spelled correctly!) materials and different ways of hard-mounting the GoPro to the scooter.  Two e-bay packages this week with various types of rubber and other options.  Thinking about cutting up a Tempurpedic pillow.   There has to be a better way than the helmet mount.  Determined to solve this problem — or at least make it better — before Capital City Rockers vs. Mods coming up at the end of February.

This picture shows Lonnie and Hudson flying — that day it seemed more like effortless floating — down the River Road.  That’s the Rio Grande and Mexico on the left.

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Peace on the Road!
BT

Riding the Big Bend

13 Dec

Riding the Big Bend is the first video from The Long Scoot Down, a scooter trip taken with a group of friends in October.  Stay tuned for a detailed account about that trip and a second video, Riding the River Road.

There is usually a huge disparity between the awesome videos we see on the GoPro website and the videos put out by us regular people.   I think most of us don’t care about “looking professional,” but we do want to put together a quality video that our friends will enjoy.

To that end, Auntie Biketrash would like to discuss GoPro issues from time to time.  Although 98 percent of her readers have no interest in that subject, she cordially invites the remaining 2 percent to chime in with their own tips and tricks.

I’ll start with two of the most obvious lessons learned from Riding the Big Bend.   Aargh!

1)  Clean your GoPro housing every time you take a break!
2)  Don’t let your tether flap in the breeze behind your helmet!

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Now, if I can only come up with a vibration-free mount.  Any suggestions?

Peace on the road!
BT

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

Scooter Grand Prizza

8 Dec

Last month Austin, Texas, had the honor of being the host city for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.  News media and fans from all over the world poured into Austin and headed over to the new Circuit of the Americas state-of-the-art race track.  Most of the Downtown Warehouse District was blocked off for three days.  It’s been five years since an F1 race has been held in the USA, creating an especially exciting atmosphere.  We’re told half a billion people watched the the race.  It was a really big deal!

In honor of this major event, the The Pizza Bistro hosted its own Scooter Grand Prizza — free pizza and reserved parking for anyone showing up on a scooter.

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John Kinnaird, owner of The Pizza Bistro, and his staff greeted us at the door.  With Vespas lined up for outdoor seating, their enthusiasm for scooters was immediately apparent.  When asked about that, he said,

I’m sure you know that scooters are the preferred method of transportation all over Italy.  There were thousands and thousands!  They were wonderful:  functional, colorful, beautiful!  As we were working on design ideas about how to ‘fuse’ Austin and Italy together, we decided that one great way to do so would be to include scooters in our restaurant floorplans.  We think that they add spirit, a dash of fun and help connect us to Italy.

As for the pizza?  Bravo!  You get to choose style, size, sauce, and toppings.   I ordered thin crust with perfectly seasoned Marinara sauce.  John said they import many of their ingredients from Italy, and it shows. Of course, there are many other items on the menu.   Great service.  I’ll be back!

I wasn’t about to let this event go by without an Austin Scooter Club ride, so I linked up some of our best hilly, curvy roads for a fast 42-mile ride through West Austin.  At least in my mind, the Grand Prizza lived up to its name!  The video speaks for itself.

GoPro fans, I used my new Hero 2 for most of the ride footage.  Right now you can pick up a Hero 2 for a good price.  With the latest firmware download, it’s an economical upgrade from the Hero.  While I haven’t made a side-by-side comparison, it does a noticeably better job of handling motion and low light.  I see a Hero 3 Black in my future. . . .

Peace on the Road!
BT

P.S.  Joy is everywhere, Funiculi, Funicula!

The Rally With No Name 2012

25 Oct

This year’s The Rally With No Name has come and gone, and I’m pleased to say it was bigger and better than ever!

Over 200 people attended, making it “the biggest and baddest scooter rally in Texas.”  The rides on Saturday were cancelled due to heavy rain, but I didn’t hear one complaint from anyone.  That’s the scooter crowd for you!   Sorry to say I didn’t pull my camera out Friday or Saturday because of the weather.

With clearing skies on Sunday, we were able to make up for lost time.  As we rode from Mellizoz Tacos (best tacos in Austin!) through Zilker Park, the sight of over 80 scooters created a spectacle that stopped action on the soccer fields.  From there we went through downtown and over to AF1 Racing for the ghymkana and prizes.                

Here is a short video I put together showing a few highlights from Sunday.    

I can assure everyone that less than an hour after the rally ended, the organizers were already brainstorming about ideas for next year’s rally.  Be there!

Peace on the Road!
BT

Wednesday Night Scooter Ride

24 Aug

So here I am back in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Yes, I took the cage!)  Fortunately, before leaving Austin, I was able to squeeze in a Wednesday night ride with the Austin Scooter Club

We met at one of my favorite eating joints,  Top Notch Hamburgers drive-in restaurant — a nostalgic venue for the baby boomers.  

About 16 scooters crowded into a few parking spots under the drive-in canopy.

By the time everyone had their fill of hamburgers and tots, the sun was setting, temperature was dropping, and it was time to roll out for an in-town ride.

It was dark when we arrived at Kick Butt Coffee, just in time for the comedy open mic.  Without, ahem, commenting on the comedians, before long we ended up outside for some more socializing.

Here are a few sights and sounds from the ride.  

 

As always, I had a great time with my scooter friends.  We need to do these midweek rides more often!

Peace on the Road!
BT

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