Sport Touring and Long Distance Riding

Category: Uncategorized

2017 Annual Gathering of American Mensa

I have made program for this year’s Annual Gathering available electronically without the need for the “AG App”

Download the entire program directly into your online calendar (.ICS format) using this link:

The PDF version of the entire program can be downloaded here (79 pages):

Both versions, but for individual days:

Calendar PDF
Wed, July 5 Import Download
Thu, July 6 Import Download
Fri, July 7 Import Download
Sat, July 8 Import Download
Sun, July 9 Import Download

2014 Winter projects

Does anyone really care that they name winter storms?  Well Cody is dumping about a foot of slush on me today, and the bike’s tucked away in the garage.  I won’t dare take a bike that bike with tires like that in the snow, so it’s time to make plans for winter projects.

I loved riding in the Void 9 rally last month, and want to ride in more rallies next year, with a desire to ride the Butt Lite 8 in 2016 and, eventually, an IBR.  The FJR needs very little to go the distance in these rallies, mods and accessories are generally for the comfort and convenience of the rider.  Here’s what I’ve got lined up for the winter while the bike’s in the garage:

Aux Fuel cell – I’ve admired Dean Tanji’s tank for the Gen1 FJR since I first started looking for safety and comfort mods.  Don’t you love when good engineering looks like art?  It’s not likely that I’ll create as fine a product as the twenty Dean produced back in 1994, but I’ll have help. My new combo TIG/Plasma unit just arrived, and this will be my first significant project of any kind. Continue reading

The Void 9 (2014) – Take aways

What I did wrong…

Nearly DNS because of a slip between the 4 & 7 buttons.
Lesson learned: Triple check contact – emergency, rallymaster, destination(s) – phone numbers.

Thinking the back pouch on the Alpinestars jacket was a good place for my rally book.
Lesson learned: Devise better – weather proof, easier to access – storage for rally book.

Failing to preload waypoints into GPS.
Lesson learned: Absolutely load waypoints into all GPS’s being used (including phone/tablet)

Using GPS with “direction of travel” UP
Lesson learned: 1) set the smaller, more portable GPS to NORTH UP orientation (like paper maps) to maintain a frame of reference. 2) Print out smaller maps around bonus locations, highlighting inbound and outbound segments.

Failure to add in time for the actual stopping for collection/photo/log/fuel
Lesson learned: Add stopping time to my ride plan (duh!)

Poor photo composition/lighting
Lesson learned: 1) Be very familiar with camera controls, practicing to learn best settings for conditions.

I really need a nap (and a receipt!)
Lesson learned: 1) Learn to rough it and sleep wherever I can. 2) get a receipt, THEN worry about the actual rest.


What I did right…

Continue reading

The Void 9 Ride Report

And we’re off!  Arrived at the Sheetz gas station I had previously scoped out around 8:45, to be sure I had time to spare.  After some final checks that things were secured where they needed to be, I pulled to the pump and with 5 fresh gallons on board, I had my start time of 8:51 a.m.  Fire off the start text to the rally master, and head west on Rt. 30 for about 30 minutes to York, PA.  On the exit ramp, I check for the SMS reply acknowledging the start text… and there isn’t one.  Call the Rallymaster and get generic voicemail.  Uhm, that’s weird.  Let’s not take a chance and call the other RM phone number.  Gary says that Scott’s phone is very busy, but when I recite the number I had programmed into the phone, I’m referred back to the rally pack.  Fair enough… DAMN!  mistake #1, I programmed the WRONG phone number into the phone!  Copy & past the text into the right number, and almost immediately get the “K” response back at 9:18 a.m., less than 2 minutes before incurring a penalty.


A few turns from the first bonus, The Shoe House, and I see some other riders headed in the same direction (this is a good sign) and park so that I stay out of everyone’s way.  I didn’t want to be “that damn rookie” folks trade stories about at the end.

Mistake #2, thinking the back pouch on the Alpinestars jacket was a good place for my rally book.  Picture a large man doing a comedic imitation of an emperor penguin trying to get a “Kick Me” sign off his back.  I’ll be taking this jacket off at least twice more to get at the book; must start thinking of alternatives during the next leg.

Mistake #3, failing to preload waypoints into ANY GPS.

2014_Void9-02-6-TAP Continue reading

The Void 9 (2014) – Results

When in doubt, put the ODO reading on everything!  I had lost the Rest Bonus wildcard for lack of an ODO reading on the hotel receipts.  More humiliating, I had not put the Rest Bonus wildcard on the Yahtzee score sheet!  Much ado about nothing.

After the much needed shower and costume change, Virginia and I head down to the ballroom for the Void 9 banquet.  The points I left on the road and on the table haunt me as I wait for the result to be announced.  Scoring 292 of the 314 points I had originally planned should have me placing well, possibly even a podium finish.

Of the 38 Lancaster starters, 3rd place was announced with Jon Good & Ande Bergman’s score of 296, 2nd place was had be Don Stadtler with 305 and Billy Connacher finished 1st with 328 points.  I still can’t imagine how he pulled off 328 points; I hope the RM’s will post the Yahtzee score sheets of the podium finishers (I understand the privacy concerns around the logs themselves.)

When the full results were posted at the end of the banquet, I saw that I had placed 4th.  The lost points had actually cost me a podium finish, but this was a remarkably good finish for my first event.  It also strengthened my desire to do this again, so I will be signing up for a couple of east coast events in 2015.

The complete results of the 2014 Void 9 rally were:

Continue reading

Getting my feet wet (depending on the weather)

I may have spoken too soon about the appeal of long distance riding. I specifically referred to ‘hard-core’ events like the Iron Butt Rally. I read and researched what I would need to do physically, mentally and mechanically to prepare for a a very long lap around the continent and guess what? I became completely immersed in the world of these people.

At first, I focused on Wing3Stuff027accessorizing and augmenting the hardware – better lighting and a more reliable, robust electrical system, GPS navigation system, communication – and figured I would learn from the masters of “farkles.” The term, farkle, well known in the sport touring community refers to an add-on that offers “function” and “sparkle” (some have suggested the acronym F.A.R.K.L.E. — Fancy Accessory Really Kool Likely Expensive is more accurate, some long distance riders’ machines are as tricked out as a modern fighter jet.)

I wanted to know what worked, what didn’t, and why. Ride Reports are commonplace from many enthusiasts, whether detailing the preparation and participation in a rally, or just a day trip to enjoy the open space and vistas. I looked for reports highlighting the success (or failure) of new ideas, but the more I read, the more I wanted to get involved… now!

Then it occurred to me – golf tournaments were scheduled weeks in advance, planning for these days afforded me more chances to play; upcoming one and two-day rallies were the incentive I needed to start taking those rides. So I signed up for one – The Void.

Rallies are akin to a scavenger hunt on wheels; given a long list of locations (sometimes located hundreds of miles away from each other) received just before the start, select a route that includes the locations you will attempt to visit, take pictures of your steed (and a flag with your ID# on it) in front of the landmark or collect a time-stamped receipt, converge on a checkpoint and add up the scores. The Void Rally is being held for the 9th time this October. It’s a chance for old friends (whom I’ve yet to meet) to use a very large map as a playground. It starts on a Friday morning in (for me) Lancaster, PA, and ends 31 hours later in Fredericksburg, VA. There’s a clever twist to the scoring of this rally; typically harder to get to locations are more valuable (on a large scale of points.) This rally’s locations are worth 1-6 points, and you have those 31 hours to fill out the best Yahtzee scorecard you can. This should be fun!

In preparation for what some consider a “nice little rally,” I read the book Against the Wind by Ron Ayres. Written in 1997, it’s out of date technologically – discussing the advantage of a cellular phone, and the German who built a computer into his fairing to use SATNAV (GPS) signals – but it is an excellent account of the determination and tenacity these riders display.


Most long distance riders are asked why they take on such grueling challenges for up to 11 days at a time (Jim Frens finished the biennial Iron Butt Rally with 14,185 miles in 11 days!) and Ayres’s answer is succinct:

“Endurance riding is as far removed from traditional motorcycle touring as mountain climbing is from hiking well-worm paths through national parks.”

I’d like to think I have the fortitude to accomplish what others have, and this rally is dipping my toe into a world known to just a few. It’s a big country, why ride across it? Because it’s there.

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