Look in the Blog Archive in the box to the right for past ride reports going back to 2006. New material posted as rides or other motorcycle news occurs. Thanks for reading. Comments always welcome, be sure to log in below. Comments will be reviewed. Please note the disclaimer below.

About Me

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Motorcycling has been a life changing experience. I hope sharing the info and pictures on the Blog gives you some idea how impressed I am with the experience, travel and the people I have met. Made new friends especially among Riders here in Orange County. Special recognition to Johney (Wrench)-helps with all the maintenance stuff+rides, plus other great riding friends: Ken Y., Luis V. & Minita, Chuck & Patty, John R., Joe, Carolyn, Gregg, Charlie & Carol, Rick, Stan P., Ed & Susan P., Barry, plus Terry, Bob B., Brian H., Glenn, William & Daveta Jo, Bob (Concho) and others. ************* DISCLAIMER: This is my personal write-up (Blog) of motorcycling news, rides and events that I am involved with in some way and not affiliated with any group, organization or club that might be mentioned herein. There should be no confusion regarding the fact these are my personal comments and not those of any other entity.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.
Monument Valley, Utah-9/2011 photo by Johney Harper!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SCRC-First ride and I bail!

This is ALMOST the route for the May 2 SCRC ride through Anza-Borrego and beyond. I MADE IT AS FAR AS JULIAN AND BAILED OUT!

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Turns out the ride became a twisty road festival, but not for me.
We met up at 74 and the 5 Fwy at 8 am with Gregg, Lim, Bill (Rhino) and me. We take off and I'm following Gregg on his new SV 650. He generously offered to show me what he had learned at the Road Skills school. I gain a new appreciation for Gregg and his friendship on this ride, thanks Gregg! I did fine going up to Hell's Kitchen on Ortega, but then Gregg took off at his more normal speed as we headed down to Lake Elsinore. We were joined by 5 other riders from Southern Cruisers Riding Club with 3 lady riders and 2 other guys. Well I started falling back as we headed down into Lake elsinore and while they were patient in waiting for me, it never got better.

Our route took every side road you could think of with all kinds of turns and switchbacks. Getting on the 15 fwy we raced to keep up with the leader (Rhino) who seemed to forget that there was a string of motorcycles behind him. No such thing as back fill lane changes, hand signals or staggered riding to speak of. Turning off at Rainbow Valley we hit another stretch of back country twisting roads that led us to Hwy 76 and Pala Casino where we stopped for gas. One lady rider did drop her motorcycle in the station but no damage to speak of.

Ahead of us was our first BIG part of the ride, the trip up to Mt. Palomar via the South Grade road-a real spaghetti road if ever there was one. Absolutely unbelieveable and I could not even attempt to keep up. They waited for me and the two other riders I was holding up behind me and we got to the a stop near the top. It's definitely getting colder but I left the wind breaker on so no problems.This is just a sample...decreasing radius turns, switch backs all up hill.

From our stop at about 5200+ ft elevation we head down via the East Grade road.
A little less steep but still a doozy! Once we get back to Rte. 76, do we head for Julian? Not on your life. Instead we go through Mesa Grande Indian Reservation. The Indians purposely made these roads crazy just to keep the early settlers out and here we are riding through this. I am definitely getting tired.

Back on the Road to Julian and AGAIN we find another back country road to zip around on. I am about done. At least I made it with no real incident, no near miss or anything like that so I'm happy with the result but not the trip.

Arriving at Julian, parking is tight but we all head for the Rongbranch Restaurant and lunch. I am done and decide this is not for me. Ahead the route was going down into the Anza Borrego Desert and then back up some really tight uphill grades. I give my notice after lunch and surprised to learn that another rider, Charlie from Corona decides to go with me and just bail. I know the way back and he follows. He and the other Harley cruiser riders all did quite well and I realize my skill level is below what it might be. Gregg recommend the StreetMasters School and I might consider it, but following him from one side of the road to the other to anticipate a turn made me nervous.

The ride back was going well and we stop in Warner Springs for a quick rest break. Getting back on 79 we go 50 yards and traffic is stopped. A hay truck overturned and there is no estimate of how long it will be before it opens except "20 minutes to 4 hours" so we turn around and head back on Hwy. 76 past Pala Casino. The trip back is actually enjoyable after all the twisting, and I appreciate Charlie coming along. No idea how many miles, but enough.

It has me thinking about my skills on these group rides and I can see there will be fewer groups rides with STAR or others, although it did make me more appreciative of how STAR operates on the road. I still don't like the nit picking and over emphasis to detail by some in STAR leadership. CLICK THE PICTURE TO SEE THE ALBUM...


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Trip to 2009 Laughlin River Run with STAR 230

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when you reach the end of this article, click the picture to open the Picasa album for the slide show. Just click the slide show option....

DAY ONE: 6:00 am Thursday, it's chilly and dark out but I'm all packed up and ready to go. The Sissybar bag is loaded with clothes, there's lots of bottles of water and Cranergy drinks stuffed in the side pockets and some in the saddlebags, a pair of Nike sneakers, my STAR vest, and everything else I could think of. My riding gear for this trip include my mesh jacket with liner, the yellow and black rain/wind breaker and a sweater, plus the under armour type base layer under my jeans and knee/shin guards. Planning for cold to warm weather is difficult, but with the wind breaker, heavy winter gloves and liner I can stay fairly warm down into the 40 deg. range. My room-mate Ken and I meet up at Denny's for breakfast while the rest of the crew meets at Coco's. Coco's does not open til 6 am so they are not ready until after 6, where Denny's is open 24 hours and always ready. Who ever picks these, please take notes.

It's Kick-Stands-Up at 7 am but since their breakfast was slow we left a few minutes late. The cast of this crew includes Dan our Pres. Terry-VP, Scott, Don, Ken, Myself, a couple on an FJR-Michelle, Larry and Lela on that green and yellow shiny Harley, Keith, and off we go. Our route will take us through Yucca Valley to a tiny town called Amboy on the old route 66

and then to I-40 for the rest of the trip to Kingman, AZ and the Days Inn motel where our lavishly appointed suites await. I can't really describe the towels, but lint on sandpaper would do the same job. Coming in to Kingman I realize that I had been here before on a trip with another couple in their van and we stopped at the Cracker-Barrel restaurant and that's right where we are heading for late lunch before checking in. There are no Cracker-Barrel's in California for some reason.
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Let me explain my take on group riding as practised by STAR and Chapter 230. In a group ride everyone rides in a staggered formation with about a one second separation between you and the rider on your left or right and about 2-3 seconds separation with the rider directly in front. On this ride I thought I was observing that separation but on arriving at our first stop was told to back off a bit from the couple on the Harley off to the side of me. OK, no problem, then at the next stop I was told that I was staying too far back and to keep it tighter. What the heck was that about? Further on I then heard that I was not staying in my portion of the lane which generally is either the right or left 1/2 of the vehicle lane. I strongly disagreed with that assessment as I make a point of trying to observe lane integrity, but for some reason was getting these comments when I thought I had been doing reasonably well. There is more to this story but will leave it to another discussion. Suffice to say I later decide not to attend the STAR trip to Billings.
It occurred to me later on that some of the best rides I have been on were the ones with just 2 to maybe 5 riders where there was no hard and fast rules about lanes, separation, and making unscheduled stops along the way. Structured rides are designed to take a bigger group to it's destination safely but it's tiring to observe all the rules. It made me more aware that STAR rides are quite structured, and if you don't fit their pattern of riding can get you some static or helpful advice, but other riders back up my impression that I do reasonably to quite well in these group situations and have increased and improved my riding skills over the past year. It's my Blog so I figure I can rant any way I want to.
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Now back to the trip. Arrived at the hotel, checked in, Ken and I decided to go somewhere for dinner and wound up at Kentucky Colonel's for chicken. Friday morning we are leaving at 7 am to Laughlin for the STAR meeting and breakfast at the Aquarius Casino and Hotel (formerly the Flamingo).

FRIDAY: We start out and pick up additional STAR groups from other motels and suddenly we are in a group of maybe 70-80 motorcycles 2 abreast heading down the road. I was blown away with the spectacle and wished there could be video or pictures of this "rolling thunder" group on the road. It was thrilling and made the trip worth it right there. Breakfast was entertaining, I won a key chain but gave it to Dan for a drawing prize. This is where to meet up with old friends and new including Joe Dagley from Yamaha.

The parking lot of the Aquarius is filling up with motorcycles of all kinds and Ken and I decide to take in the sights and exhibitors. The Laughlin River Run is a BIG motorcycle event with thousands of motorcycles and riders, poker runs, contests, exhibitors, sellers of all kinds of merchandise and who knows what else. We are just observers basically. We eventually head back to the motel in Kingman but on the way out just before turning to go across the bridge a car zips out in front of me and I hit the brakes leaving a 4-5 foot skid mark and wonder why isn't this thing stopping. It does and I stay upright "whew". Glad I have the gear on. Also notice a few vehicles towing their motorcycles in rather than ride. I bet they tow it in to the hotel, dress up in all the appropriate vests, jeans and short sleeve T-shirts and go styling into town.

SATURDAY- A new day looms ahead and after getting some directions and good advice from several members, Ken and I take off north on Route 66 in front of the hotel and head for Grand Canyon Caverns. At the caverns we run into Art from Chapter 415 (L.A.) and he and I head down the elevator with another couple and the guide. After the tour of the caverns which is interesting, all three of us continue on Rte 66 toward Seligman, AZ and lunch. At Seligman, Rte 66 connects back to Interstate 40 further east from Kingman, but we decide to return via the way we came on good old 66. By the way, I came to California in 1952 with my parents and brother on this very highway and they got as far as Pasadena and said that's far enough. This marks my furthest point east on a motorcycle up to now.

After returning to the room, Ken was talking about getting a commemorative pin like the one I found in Laughlin so we geared up and headed out the 40 miles or so into Laughlin. On arriving at the Colorado River before we turn onto Casino Drive the temperature zooms up about 15 deg and it's hot. Traffic is now a moderate nightmare but we make it to the hotel and can't find the pin anywhere. I take off while Ken is busy feeding a slot machine and eventually find the pin. We stay for dinner at the Aquarius but the wait for Outback restaurant is 85 minutes so we head for the coffee shop. It's getting dark by the time we arrive back in Kingman. Ken tells me in passing a truck on I-40 I hit over 90 mph-good grief. Later that night I take his V-Star 1300 out on the highway for a 10 mile or so test ride.

IT'S SUNDAY. That's it for Laughlin and Kingman in the morning we leave bright and early for So. California and home. It is however 330 miles or so before we get there. Going back we encounter a number of other motorcycle riders returning home as well. Some are just plain nuts. Two riders on Harleys (not that it's important) zip past us doing maybe 80 mph and they are side by side in a side wind with gusts that can cause a swerve possibly leaving no margin for error. Other riders just zip in and out of our group with no respect for the fact we are in a formation. Takes all kinds. We make it back with just a breakfast stop in Needles (Need-less?) CA and a couple gas stops. Total 988 miles for the 4 days. I am beyond tired when I get home. I can't imagine there were any complaints on my riding in formation on the return trip even though I thought it was similar to how I rode going up there. Oh well that's it. Click the picture to go the the album on Picasa...


Sunday, April 19, 2009


Group Picture by Lynne Shapiro

11 Riders from STAR chapter 230 including one guest head out to Riverside as part of a Veterans Appreciation Parade in downtown Riverside. We arrive and the staging area is nearly full. Lots of motorcycles, bands, trucks, tanks, cars, dancers, military people and floats.


Is that a gorilla sitting on my motorcycle? A gift from Jenny.
There's Lynne taking more great pictures.
Flirty and Cin two girls from Lynne's entourage. Lynne found these 2 volunteers from another group to carry our Chapter 230 banner.
Pins and rockers and patches!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A very ambitious ride-Meet BBO members in Durango Colorado

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This would be THE most ambitious ride/trip I have considered so far, especially if I wind up doing it on my own. Time will tell. Scheduled departure would be June 3, 2009, not too far off actually.

From Placentia to DURANGO, COLORADO, a trip of 770 miles one way! Will I be able to do it and then what about the trip to CANCELED!***STAR days in Billings Montana? Not even sure about that trip either. At least that will be with a very seasoned group of riders, and it's 1200 miles one way.

Two days on the road up to Durango and at least two days there in Durango, and two days back unless I do some sightseeing. Stay tuned, and check back to see what happens. More later.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Our regular monthly Saturday ride with STAR and this time it's to Pioneer Town in Yucca Valley (in the middle of nowhere), then on to Big Bear via the back route coming in from the north on Highway 18. As usual we meet in the Best Buy parking lot and go over the route, and conduct a short meeting plus introduce new riders.
V-Star 1300 with custom brake lights-nice, owner Chuck has done a lot to his V-Star.
Nearly brand new Harley-a retirement gift to himself.

On the left is Tom who had shoulder surgery recently but is back riding-glad to see him on this trip.
Only thing missing are altimeter and flap controls and this would take off.

Our trip will take us out the 10 Freeway to Yucca Valley where we turn off the main road to an old western movie set built out in a place called Pioneer Town.
Our first stop off the 10 Fwy at Cabazon about 100 miles into the trip.
Looking toward the mountains, there's snow up there.


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The road from the 10 Fwy, is often windy, but today there is little or no breeze to be concerned with and we arrive at Pioneer Town no concern at all. Our group pretty much fills up the place, Lunch is good and I take a quick sightseeing trip through the old western town.
Not much here except the restaurant and an old western looking street. I ordered a hamburger and it was kinda pink.

Does anybody actually live here?

Lined up and almost ready to go.
This is Chuck with his V-Star 1300
Pictures of the road ahead including a closeup.

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After lunch our three groups take off toward Big Bear where it's going to be colder- probably in the mid 40 degs. via Hiway 18 with some 10 mph posted switch backs. This is on the road to Big Bear-Google Earth is amazing...
Not only that but while I thought we were going to return on Route 38 (the back way) through Redlands we are actually heading back down to San Bernardino on Route 330 a much steeper, twisty road. I was not able to keep up with our group leader in some of the curves and he has a PASSENGER! Jerry our former president on a Stratoliner is really good at handling the curves. I did reasonably well all things considered and we made it down to the 210 Freeway where it was in the high 70's and stopped to take off several layers of gear including jackets, liners and chaps. END OF THIS RIDE...About 300 miles all arrived safe.