2011 Needed More Cowbell and Motorcycle

I was checking up on my fellow bloggers while awaiting New Year’s Eve to roll in and found Fuzzy Galore has taken time to compile a retrospective article about her highlights of 2011 over at her Girlie Motorcycle Blog.

I was inspired to browse back through my archive and relive a few of my own adventures as a result.

It took over half the year to really get revved up for some reason, but July found Robin and I preparing to travel to biker mecca.

I had originally planned to ride from Grapevine to South Dakota, determined to be one of the proud few who “rode my bike to trailer week.” But the trip turned into a two family vacation with a large rented RV and I relented to become one of two conscripted bus drivers for the journey, my brother Mike being the other guy whose big Yamaha Road Star Silverado kept BB company on the back.

We passed through some incredibly beautiful country once we got north of Kansas…everything in the southern half of the mid-west being scorched by months of drought and beating solar radiation.

South Dakota had awesome sights to behold, but Sturgis wasn’t one of them. I think I might have enjoyed the rally 20 years ago when it was grittier and dustier. What we found there in 2011 was a crowded, noisy, smelly place with over-priced merchandise, mediocre food and overdone marketing.

The ride from Rapid City to Sturgis was nice, though.

Obviously, the Buffalo Chip and Full Throttle Saloon must be the real attractions in the area, but I’m just too old and set in my comfortable ways to enjoy much rowdiness any more, and Mike and I have a classic Frazier intolerance for loud-mouths, so it was best we stayed away from folks who demand respect that they haven’t earned.

Mount Rushmore was pretty spectacular, but I was glad we saw it before we saw the Crazy Horse Memorial. By comparison, Mount Rushmore is a hill when you contemplate the sheer size of the Crazy Horse Memorial. Add to that the fact that not a single tax dollar has been spent to carve Crazy Horse and it becomes even more of an inspiration. Mount Rushmore would have been a disappointment if we’d seen those two monuments in the opposite order.

When the long journey was over we had racked up well over two tons of miles on the RV and hadn’t ridden the bikes more than 150. By the time we got home I was as frustrated as a pyromaniac in a petrified forest. Had we stayed in Grapevine that week instead of going to “Biker Paradise” I probably would have ridden more.

So the very next Friday I barreled out of the office parking lot, swung by the house and strapped a one man tent to the Triumph, then lined the Ozarks up between the handlebars and headed north in the blistering 103 degree Texas summer afternoon.

A mere three hours later I was crossing the Okalahoma-Arkansas border and the air had cooled to around 80 degrees. The trees and grass were tall and green, with a few red and gold specks of an early fall hinting.

It was getting dark when I rolled into Queen Wilhilmena State Park and claimed my lonely tent site. The following morning I rode the Talimena Drive solo, and with hardly another vehicle on the road I was able to get just a little crazy on the curves until a deer crossing the road around high noon reminded me that luck has its limits and skill disappears completely if you you abandon common sense.

That day-and-a-half journey (I was back home by Saturday evening) more than made up for missed riding in Sturgis. I even had the great fortune of the rear Metzeler I’d bought only a month before springing a leak as I rolled into McKinney on the way home. I say fortunate because that incident was the last straw for me with sticky high performance motorcycle tires on my torque monster Triumph Rocket 3. A week later Mike and I installed a car tire on the rear and I’ll never go back to a motorcycle tire on this bike again.

Just for the record, it’s approaching 3,000 miles and I can’t see any wear on it yet. A Metzeller Marathon would be half eaten at that point.

A month later I would return to Talimena, with Robin and Mike and Shelby this time, for another weekend mini-vacation. We didn’t do the Talimena Scenic Drive, but we still rode from Broken Bow to Mena with the girls on back, which was a fun and rare occurrence.

That was also MoonShine’s first outing, transformed to a white and chrome fat bottomed girl from her former scheme of “Blood and Bone” (AKA “BB”). Fortunately Mike was able to help me track down the remaining minor electrical issues I’d inadvertently created during reassembly after the paint job.

In October we pulled the trigger on the final bit of overhaul for our little late 70’s era Ranch and started a total kitchen renovation, including the replacement of a load bearing wall with a hidden beam and all new appliances.

Despite the fact that we hired a general contractor instead of taking our typical DIY approach, there was no time for motorcycle adventuring after that in 2011.

Just as all songs are better with more cowbell, 2012 will be better with more motorcycle.

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