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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Running Errands on the Bike

Alright, so this morning I found myself reading forum post after forum post about motorcycles when I realized it was 80 degrees outside and not a cloud in the sky. Why was I sitting there in front of the computer when I could be out riding a real motorcycle instead of reading about riding a motorcycle. I decided to ride into town and look for some replacement wire to try and fix the Aerostich heated vest I acquired. Of course VDOT has graveled every road around me, I had to head Northwest in order to avoid gravel to get East to Rocky Mount. My first stop was Radio Shack and even though they tried, they couldn't come up with the Nichrome Resistance Wire I needed. I then went to Lowes to try and find some Snake repellent. This morning as I was warming up the Vision, I saw a snake skin on the roof. It appears that someone was going to make a home in the soffet of my log cabin. The only snake repellent that Lowes had advised not to use the poison in an area where the snake was already confined. This would cause the snake to live deeper within the confined space. "Deeper within" translates inside my house. So, strike two... Off to Shively Electric to see what they say about my Nichrome wire. Shively had some additional recommendations, but couldn't send me out the door with what I needed.

So back home I was headed. I took off on Franklin Street (Route 40) West into and through Ferrum. I followed Rt. 40 to Shooting Creek Road North. It seems that Shooting Creek has gotten very bumpy since the last time I was on it. Shooting Creek to The Blue Ridge Parkway to Five Mile Mountain Road. Of course Five Mile Mountain Road is covered with Gravel. No leaned over switchbacks here! All in all, a very good 70 Miles of fun, despite not getting anything I needed while running errands in the bike.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Another Switch on the Dash

I tend to ride a lot at night, usually coming home from work on back country roads and I hate deer. I recently found an article on line describing how to make your own, cheap, auxiliary lights for your motorcycle. When I went to Wal-Mart, I couldn't find any of the items to try making my own, so I went over to the automotive section to see what I could see. I found a Wally World Special... $14.00 Off Road Driving Lights on sale for $9.00. I figured for $9.00, even if it doesn't work at all, it's worth a try.

I made some brackets out of an old CB Radio Mounting Bracket I had lying around. I used the fabricated brackets and mounted them between the fairing and the stalks for the front turn signals. All I had to do was cut the mounting bracket in thirds and drill a hole larger to fit the threaded end of the turn signal.

With the lights mounted to the new brackets, it was off to the wiring. I cut a new hole in the plastic dash, which was the only modification made to any Vision parts, and installed the illuminated switch that was included with the Wally World lights. These lights are designed to be installed on the front bumper of a car/truck, so the wiring was all the wrong lengths. For example, the "hot" wire to the battery positive was about 6 inches too short, I had to lengthen that wire. The wire from the switch to the driving lights was about 4 feet too long, I wound up wrapping that in a big ball of electrical tape and securing it to the frame, under the fairing. There are three ground wires for this set up, one for each light and one more for the switch. The ground wire for the switch is only 4 inches long. I grounded the switch to the mounting screw for the dash (It's actually a bolt that was swiped from Mutt's Vision in exchange for the screw he needed to resecure his ignition switch at Deal's Gap). One light was grounded to the ignition coil bolt on the left side and the other light grounded to the ignition coil bolt on the right side.

With the bike all put back together, it was time for a test ride. The Vision continues to charge without any problems. The lights are Halogens and are advertised on the box as "Bright White/HID Like Lights". The lights are a lot brighter than my stock high beam light on the bike. As these are only $9.00 lights, I am interested in seeing how long they are going to last, which is one of the reasons why I didn't cut any holes in the fairing to mount the lights. If the lights do fail to work in the future, I can easily remove them and put the bike back to stock (or upgrade the lights to some PIAA model at a cost of upwards of $250.00 or so). I just figured I would try the $241.00 cheaper route first.


This post is not about motorcycles or motorcycle riding, but it still only involves two wheels. Heather, my wife, and I were introduced to Dirt Surfing. Heather might be working on an editing job for a new publication all about Dirt Surfing. So we went to find out more about this new sport. We met with the CEO of Dirtsurfer USA, Brian Duvall. Brian gave both Heather and I some quick lessons on how to ride the Dirt Surfing board. The board consists of a platform between two bicycle like tires. The front of the board has a swing arm that will turn the board when you lean to one side. The back has a calf operated brake. Heather and I started out slow, using one of Brian's boards, on a small hill in Waid Recreation Park. Even with just the small hill, this thing is fun. Watching Heather roll down the hill with a huge smile on her face was just fun to watch. I only wish we had brought the camera with us. One of the coolest things about dirtsurfing (is it one word or two... I dunno), is that they can be run on the street or off road just like a mountain bike. Summertime ski resorts would be great for these boards.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gas Mileage

I finally went through my gas receipts from my trip down to Deal's Gap. The final tally from my gas mileage calculations are as follows:

Average Gas Mileage for the entire trip was 40.6 MPG

High Gas Mileage was 47.6 MPG

Low Gas Mileage was 33.5 MPG

Some of the calculated gas mileage was estimated as I found some of the gas receipts did not list gallons on the receipt.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Shot and a Beer

Thursday, April 27th

I left the house on the Vision with all my camping gear, tools and extra parts, stopped at the A&A Market in Callaway and filled the bike with Gas. Then it was off to Deal’s Gap via the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was to meet Bill (AKA Mutt) in Deep Gap, NC at 12:30 PM.

The entire ride to Deep Gap was wet. Although I didn’t hit any actual rain, the roadway was very wet and the sky was quite dark. I saw a lot of turkey on the parkway. At one point, I could see blue sky to the West, but it didn’t last long.

I arrived at Greene’s Grill (Now known as The Blue Ridge Diner) right at 12:30 PM. I thought to myself that it looked like I beat Bill to the rendezvous point. I waited for an hour or so and he still wasn’t there. I know from weather reports that he was going to be riding his Vision through a lot of rough weather, so I wasn’t too concerned. After the second hour went by, I called my house to see if there were any messages from Bill and there were none. Somewhere near the third hour, I called Bill’s house and talked with his Mother-in-Law who hadn’t heard from him. I went into the Diner and had a BLT and some Fries, trying to pass the time. I went back outside and waited some more and then somewhere near 4:00 PM, Bill rolled in on his Vision.

Apparently, he had to wait out some thunder storms and had one heck of a ride across North Carolina. Bill grabbed a bite to eat and we were on the road South before 5:00 PM. The weather had completely cleared by this time.

We continued on the Parkway until about Little Switzerland where we ran into some detour signs advising that the parkway was closed until Ashville. We ran into a guy who advised that he drives the parkway a lot and he gave us some better directions than where the detour was sending us. So, we decided to follow his directions and head East on Rt. 226. Well, I immediately made a wrong turn and ended up on Rt. 226A. It may have been a wrong turn, but wow was this Rt. 226A an incredible motorcycle road. Perfectly paved with tight twisty curves. We eventually made it back to Rt. 226 and then South on Rt. 70 and West on I40, back to the parkway.

Now, we are on the parkway, heading south from Ashville and it’s starting to get dark. We put a couple of miles behind us and after the sun went down, it got quite cold. We decided to take a break at one of the overlooks and try and figure out where we were. It turned out that we were at one of the highest points on the parkway and the temperature was a very cold and windy 39oF. I have heated grips on my bike, plus I had on my winter coat over my mesh riding jacket and I was cold… Bill was considerably colder than I was. Bill tried to get warm, but it wasn’t working, plus it was getting very late. We got off the parkway to get gas at the next exit. After getting gas, we decided not to get back on the parkway and look for an alternate route to Stecoah and The Kickstand Lodge.

We made a quick run down Rt. 441, to Rt. 19 and then to Rt. 28 and finally arrived at the Kickstand Lodge at 12:30 AM. When we arrived, we found a note on the door to the store that read "Fred & Mo are out back". Bill and I walked around Back and couldn’t find anyone. While we were walking back to our bikes, Mo walked up behind us and introduced herself. She invited us into the store and asked if there was anything we needed. Bill, joking around, said "A shot and a beer would be nice". Mo then walked us into a second room, where Bill and I thought she was going to check us into the campground and assign a campsite. But instead, she pointed to a refrigerator and advised that the beer was in there and then pointed to a shelf outside the back door and said that there was some Crown Royal and other liquors there and to help ourselves. I guess we found the right place.

Bill and I then proceeded to set up our tent in the dark and then went over to the campfire and met some of the Yamaha Warrior Riders. We had some good talk and some fun jokes and then finally went to bed, sometime before 4:00 AM.

Friday, April 28th

Bill and I woke up from our little tent at about 9:30 AM and found that when we had set up the tent in the dark, we set it up on an incline. We also found out that we were sleeping facing down hill, with our feet higher than our heads. This turned out to be quite uncomfortable. We wandered over to the store at about 10:00 AM to hunt down some coffee and found that Fred had cooked everyone breakfast and we missed it. I guess you snooze, you lose.

The Warrior Guys had rented a drag strip for 5 hours today. The drag strip was somewhere in Marysville, so Bill and I were going to head over to the Dragon and then head to Marysville and try and find the Drag Strip. Apparently, Yamaha was going to do a photo shoot of the Warrior bikes at the drag strip. We thought this was cool and wanted to watch.

We got to the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort, where we stayed last year and putzed around the gift shop for a while and watched some of the stupid people (For example, a stretched ‘Busa on the Dragon has got to be just about worthless). We then took a spin across the Dragon and stopped at the overlook. While at the overlook, we saw a guy eying our bikes pretty hard. In talking with him, we found that he had just given away an ’83 Yamaha Vision to his neighbor. Turns out, his neighbor wants to sell it as he doesn’t want it either. We told him about the Riders of Vision website (That he didn’t know about) and he asked what we thought our bikes were worth. He lives somewhere in Pennsylvania, I don’t remember where.

Off to try and find the drag strip in Marysville. We asked several people if they knew where it was and nobody knew. That is until we met a postal employee who knew exactly where it was… "Right down this road, about a mile on the Left, Big sign, Can’t miss it". Well, it turned out, that postal employee was a liar. He had no idea and wanted to have some fun with us… Asshole. Bill and I decided to go back to the Dragon and run that again.

We ended up back at the campground at about 5:00 PM and found that Fred and Mo had cooked a huge feast for all the campers. We had BBQ Chicken, Ziti with Sausage, Salad, Garlic Bread, Potato Salad… Oh man did we eat! All Fred and Mo asked for in return was a donation in the tip jar. One of the campers had his birthday on this day and Fred and Mo provided a huge birthday cake with a motorcycle on top. This Kickstand Lodge is incredible! Then off to the campfire for some more motorcycle chat and some far fetched stories.

Saturday, April 29th

On Saturday, we woke up early enough to take a shower; clean ourselves up a bit and still make it to one of Fred’s great breakfasts. After breakfast, Bill made the mistake of joking around with his Vision and said to her "come on baby, please start for me". He then put the key in the ignition and pressed the starter button and got nothing but a click. Yup, that’s right, Bill’s starter filled with oil or the brushes had gotten worn down beyond use. In trying to remedy the situation, Bill grabbed a rock and started tapping on the starter, Vroom, the bike started. Bill now had the official "Starter Rock".

Bill and I then went geocaching in search of the Sacred Visions of the Cherokee geocache. We found the caves and the geocache and appeased the "Little People". We then started Bill’s bike with a rock that we borrowed from the Little People and then took the long way to the Dragon.

Back at the campground, Bill was complaining of a slight head shake on his Vision. We removed the gas tank and started looking at the head stock when we found that his ignition switch had come loose. We swapped some bolts from my bike and securred his ignition switch. We then put a couple of ¼ turns on his head lock nuts. After a test ride, Bill advised that his head shake is a lot better.

Saturday night, most of the Warrior Riders had left to go home. Apparently, they are allergic to rain and they heard a rumor that it was going to rain on Sunday. With a smaller group in the campground, there was no massive meal prepared by Fred, so Bill and I rode into Robbinsville and found a place called Lynn’s Diner. The food at Lynn’s Diner was pretty damn good. I had the Teriyaki Chicken and it was exceptional.

Back to the campground and early to bed after a short visit to the campfire.

Sunday, April 30th

We woke up early enough, again, to have a nice hot shower and another great breakfast from Fred. We worked on Bill’s bike again and got rid of the head shake completely. We spent some time around the campground this morning and then wandered up to the Motorcycle Resort to do some people watching for a while.

We decided to head to Marysville to grab some lunch. To get to Marysville, we had to run through the Dragon. This was one of the slowest runs we had. We got stuck behind an RV towing a trailer. We spent the time rolling through the Dragon, sight seeing… Did you know there is a waterfall somewhere along that road? All the times I have been through there, I never noticed. It’s actually a pretty place when you go through slowly.

We had lunch at a place called "Backyard Burgers"; this is a good place to eat. Fast food that doesn’t taste like fast food. We realized it was getting later and we were on our way to Dave’s house (DaveTN). We got to Dave’s house at about 4:30 PM (or so). I stopped to take one last look at the directions, when Bill spotted the bright yellow Vision in the driveway two houses away. Dave made some… I mean Dave’s wife made some pretty damn good burgers. Wow, another great meal! We sure did eat good on this trip. Bill, Dave and I talked Visions for a couple of hours. Lucky, from the ROV Forum, called while we were there. We all talked for quite some time. We talked in the kitchen, the computer room and the garage, it was great.

Bill and I decided we had better head back to the campground as it was starting to rain. So about 10:00 PM, we left Dave’s house and ended up running the Dragon at night in the rain. This was not fun! It was the type of rain where you couldn’t see the lines in the road, man that sucked. We took it real slow and got back to the camp at about midnight.

Monday, May 1st

Monday was the day to head home. Again we got up early enough to get our last taste of Fred’s breakfast. We hung around drinking coffee and shootin’ the shit with Fred for a while. Then we packed up our camp site and loaded our bikes. We gave Fred the one beer that we had left and he said he would put it to good use. Bill and I stopped at the closest gas station and filled our tanks, then said our good byes. Bill then headed east toward Raleigh and I went north looking for the Interstate.

I slayed the Dragon one last time and then hit I40 East to I81 North. About 6.5 hours later at 70 -75 MPH and I was home. Watched my Son play a scrimmage little league game and thought life is pretty good. My little Yamaha Vision ran flawlessly and carried me everywhere I wanted to go.

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