Monday, December 26, 2016

Motorcycle Images

A while back I was working on a book project where I needed images of motorcycles.  Not the whole machine, just enough for the reader to appreciate how a motorcycle is designed, built, assembled.

Visited a local BMW motorcycle dealer who also had several old bikes on display. Here is a small collection of images from that project.  

Happy Holidays to you and your family

May your 2017 riding season take you to new horizons as I am hoping mine will. 
See you out on the road.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Late September, rode the KLR Grey Phantom rig 300 miles
through east Texas to central Louisiana.

Peaceful Texas vineyard and cattle grazing

The grapes are almost ready for harvest.

The 600 mile round trip to Bunkie, Louisiana was for an annual gathering of friends and neighbors.

Although the day before the trip, preperations were interrupted by a small gathering of ONE unwelcome intruder!


The 2016 Bunkie Boucherie was our annual regional sidecar rally 

Visited with old friends and made new ones.
The sidecar community is alive and well in Texas - Louisiana.

Here is a short video of some of the sights, rigs and the activities.

As the Acadians, or Cajuns, love to say:

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

The good times do roll with a sidecar

Grey Phantom ran great, no problems cruising at 60-65 mph 
in spite of the larger 49 tooth rear sprocket. 

Am starting to like the car tire on the rear of the KLR. 


Friday, September 16, 2016

Villa de Leyva, Colombia

During our time in Colombia, we drove four hours from Bogotá to visit a Colombian National Treasure, Villa de Leyva. 

Founded in 1572, the preserved and protected colonial village is located 
high in the mountains at 7000 ft.

Selecting a midweek time to visit was ideal, few tourists and pleasant climate. 
Our only challenge was trying to walk on the cobblestones without turning an ankle. 
The food was delicious, the people friendly and the photo opportunities spectacular. 

Here is a YouTube video of our visit. 

Hasta luego,

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Snapshots from Colombia 2016

Just returned from a visit to Colombia for a family gathering. Here are a few snapshots from our two weeks there.

                       Modern commercial and residential skyscrapers are very common in Bogotá. 

Close up of building workers. 
If you doubt Colombians sense of patriotism, the colors of the country's flag are yellow, blue, red, 
the same colors and in the same order as the three buckets the workers are using. 

One can still find colonial tile roofed stucco homes scattered among the modern high-rises. Because Bogotá is ringed by mountains, the demand for buildable land is insatiable. Land prices are rapidly appreciating as the city population continues to swell.

Typical lunch of chicken, beef, maiz, papa, yucca, arepa y sopa.

If that looks unhealthy, Colombians eat flavorful fresh fruit every morning.

Since traffic congestion is the daily norm, walking or bicycling is the fastest way to your destination if not going too far.  Special bike paths were established to facilitate the mobility.  Lane splitting by motorcyclists is the norm.

In spite of overcast clouds and light rain, everywhere one looks are color and points of interest. 

Street jugglers hoping for a few coins

Am still playing with the B&W photos seeking the right elements. 

A different corner, a different juggler.

Transit policemen ride in pairs on a Kawasaki KLR250. In Colombia, you must have your motorcycle license number on your helmet in large letters.

Stuck in traffic next to the abandoned train track. 

Water on display

And more drizzling outside. 

As the Colombians say...

Hasta luego, Vaya con Dios.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Random Shots

Visited one of my favorite spots to snap a few pics the other day.

 The Grey Phantom and Leo the lion. 

a B&W shot I like

Returning home - A Texas sunset.

Did not mention in the previous posting about the wheel problems experienced enroute to New Mexico.  A hot sweltering day, stranded 70 miles south of Amarillo in a rest area on Hwy 285. 
Hmmm...  a not unfamiliar predicament to be in. 

However this time it was not the sidecar rig that had the wheel problem, but the borrowed trailer the rig was riding on. A wheel bearing overheated and welded itself to the axle.  Generated a lot of smoke as the trailer fishtailed back and forth until I could get it stopped.  
A good samaritan 70 miles away in Amarillo opened his heart and shop to repair the trailer and get me back upon my way, on a Saturday night, hot and humid Fourth of July weekend.  Thank you Jeff. 

Some people know how to train a good dog.  Me, I just feed them and scratch 'em behind their ears. 

Speaking of training, three year old Adrian has already picked out "his" helmet 
and wants to adventure with Abu.  Soon Adrian, soon. 

Parting shot....  

Someone posted a picture on the internet of a sidecar I would love to own.
A two wheel drive Ural with a BMW K engine. Ural ruggedness and BMW reliability. That engine is known as the velvet hammer, smooth and strong. You could go anywhere in the world with that. 

Only to sadly discover it's a photoshopped picture. No such rig exists....yet.

Ahhh, one can only dream, right? 

and that's what life is all about... 

Dreaming...  then pursuing your dream. 


Monday, July 18, 2016

2016 USCA Sidecar Rally

The USCA National Sidecar Rally was held in Hotchkiss, Colorado in early July, so rode the Grey Phantom from New Mexico up following a portion of the Continental Divide Trail.

Here is a 12 minute video of the ride and rally for those interested..

The beautiful green and cream Indian sidecar rig belongs to my friend Muzzleflash. Three of us rode URAL sidecar rigs coast to coast following old Route 50 two years ago. Now he rides in style and faster with the Indian.

Am still studying and learning iMovie editing. This is my third video, but the first using the SONY Action Camera. In future videos I hope to see improvement in smoothing the panning and editing. Was surprised at the amount of memory video editing requires. 

The ride itself?  KLR handled the trail well, no issues with the bike. Still sorting out a few issues with the sidecar: mounts and placement of weight. Weak points were revealed, excess and repetitive tools will be removed and solutions to a few remaining issues is being sought. 

Issues to resolve: 
Replace the PVC tool tube/foot rest. After hitting a rock it shattered, leaving sharp pointed ends sticking out.  Removed it on the trail as being too hazardous. 
Where and how to carry drinking water
Constant vibration of sidecar board
More secure strapping of gas cans
 Some nuts and bolts thought they wanted to be free. Constant vibrating will do that. 
Apply loktite to ALL nuts and bolts, no matter the size.

Thanks for following along.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Grey Phantom

Finally, everything is transferred from Da'mit over to the Grey Phantom. Dammit will be restored to a two wheel status and sold.

Now let's go play a little...  with a camera and the iPhone camera. Though we live in the suburbs of the fourth largest US city, are only five minutes away from narrow country lanes and pasture land. 

Oops,  lost a load!

To a motorcyclist, loose hay or straw is like ice on the road.  If you hit it you are going down.
For a sidecar rider, it's not so bad.  Sidecar don't fall over easily so one can ignore loose gravel, sand or mud on the road. 

 Note the small horizontal light below on the left front of the sidecar.  That LED light really doesn't enhance the safety factor as I wanted. The biggest danger to motorcyclists is drivers do not see us.  I wanted a second light on the front so as to be seen by other drivers. 

Swapped out that small light for a larger five bulb LED light. If nothing more, it attracts other driver's attention and makes them wonder what the heck is that? LED lights draw so very little amperage, one does not worry about overloading the bike's electrical system.

Okay, which of the these three photos do you like best?  

Number One above... Bright Orange Sunset.

Number Two below... Hazy Sunset.

Or Number Three... Black and White Sunset..

Ode of Life
I refuse to be a puppet
Made to dance and twirl
At the whim of some hidden master
On the stage 
Of Life

I shall pull up my pants
And tighten my belt
For today I will ride
My three wheels
Of life

Choosing my bearings
I accelerate freely
Awakening the senses, seeking
A fresher breath
Of life

Life may be short
Or life may be long 
Freedom of the road bodes well
A natural prolonging,
Of life.

The Sidecarist magazine was generous enough to publish another one of my poems in their March/April 2016 issue along with one of my sidecar photos. 

Really need to take a long road trip, the creative well is running dry. 
The Grey Phantom is ready, summer is upon us. Time to ride and write.

Ride safe, ya'll


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Times keep a-changing

Goodbye Da'mu!

Da'mu is leaving us for new adventures. He will soon be exploring the historic Civil War battlegrounds with his new owner this summer.

Da'mu was a great rig. Together we visited all 48 states in nine and a half days. A superb highway cruiser. Sad to see him go, but there is only so much room in the ole Man Cave and a new rig is in the works, soon to be heading our way.

Far up north in a small Pennsylvania town, where sidecars ideas are created and brought to life...

is the home of Freedom Sidecars LLC. 

The mad genius behind this operation, Claude Stanley, rules over the creation and birth of beautiful sidecar rigs for round town cruising or round the world riding. Bring your dreams and ideas to Claude. With his team of expert welders and fabricators they will bring it to life.

Other rider dreams are in progress ahead of mine.

  A yellow BMW awaits its new sidecar.

A Triumph has its chassis attached. Once the electrical wiring is complete, 
the tub will be bolted on.

My dream is to wed this blue adventure rig ( a 2007 Suzuki Vstrom 1000) with a Mini Mate pop up camper. Sleeping on the ground is getting old and the cost of motel rooms keeps rising. 
With this rig, plans are to explore the far reaches of Canada and Alaska, stopping when and where great photo opportunities arise. Being out in the wild when the sun comes up or watching sunsets from a deserted ridge are vistas that move man's soul.

Besides attaching the camper to the Vstrom, my wish list includes 15" car tires on all three corners, a ten gallon auxiliary fuel tank, a winch front and back, space for spare tires, parts and tools, driving lights, high ground clearance and rugged enough for hundred of miles of gravel, pitted washboard roads. 

Oh...  try to make the camper more aerodynamic too. 

Claude sent a photo assuring me that fabrication has started. Since this is the first time for them to mount the Mini Mate as a sidecar, it is a cut-fit-weld operation,  piece by piece by piece until complete. 

While Claude and his crew cut, weld and fabricate up north, 
back in the Man Cave progress is slowly being made to move the cargo sidecar 
from the red 2011 Da'mit KLR to the digital Grey Phantom KLR.

Da'mit the red KLR will be returned back in its original condition and sold off as a two wheel motorcycle. The Grey Phantom will acquire a cargo sidecar for exploring mountain passes 
and beyond.

Yes, times are a-changing in the Man Cave. 
Riding season is here so no time to waste.

Ride safe
Ride long


Monday, April 18, 2016

A Little Water

Normally I park my truck in the driveway near the garage every night. But last night, with a 14 ft trailer attached, I parked in the street for an early morning departure for Baltimore. Around 3 AM my neighbor calls to tell me my truck is disappearing under water. All the rain that fell in the Houston area last night, added up to 14 - 16 inches in our immediate area. 

Today was spent wet vacuuming the carpet then placing fans inside to dry it out. 

 Meanwhile back in the Ole Man Cave garage, Da'mu the big white whale is on the market. Was a tough choice to make but something had to go to make room for a different adventure rig coming soon. 

 Posted her for sale a week ago,  have had several interested and one gentleman come see her.  Is being sold with a ton of extras that I had accumulated for this Wing. She is ready to go across town or  across the country today. In fact I was signed up to ride her from Jacksonville to San Diego this week on another Iron Butt run. That ride will have to wait for another time. 

As much as I love the smoothness and power of Da'mu, she is not the right rig for an adventure ride I am planning for 2017. Have discovered by trial and error, (mainly by error), a task is easier to accomplish if the tool you are using is the right tool for the job. 

Da'mu is not the right tool for the proposed ride.

So what about the new KLR sidecar rig?? Well, the new KLR has been branded with her name: 
Grey Phantom

The week the 2016 KLR came to me, Paul Ryan died suddenly at the age of 66. Paul collaborated with my riding friend Tony DePaul on the Phantom series for newspapers and comics. Tony wrote the storyline, while Paul illustrated the Phantom  He did so for the past twelve years.

Tony obtained permission from King Features to allow me to use one of Paul's illustrations.  Then Tony's daughter Laura helped by creating the "Grey"  lettering to complete the name for the KLR. Thus the Grey Phantom (GP) was branded.

Once GP reached 600 miles, the first dealer service was completed. Now the process of transferring the cargo sidecar from Da'mit to GP is in progress. When that is completed,  Da'mit will move on to new pastures and the Man Cave garage will be back to normal with one rig on the lift and another in the warehouse. 

* * * ** * * 

Before the motorcycling bug bit, for many years my hobby was big game handgun hunting.  Have finally admitted that those days are past and not likely to be revisited, so my hunting handguns are for sale on a Texas site. Here are a couple of samples. 

RUGER stainless Super Blackhawk 44 mag, a Magna-port custom

RPM XL Hunter stainless single shot, 30-30 Improved with scope, super accurate

Thompson Contender, stainless single shot, 375 JDJ caliber with scope 
for African Safaris or Kodiak bears

Life continues on,  we adjust to our interests and abilities. 

Ride safe, live fully