Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finally, an (almost) incident-free ride

This past weekend, I made my third attempt at a 1000 miles < 24 hours. My first was my first ride with Hoagy's Heroes nine years ago, as a wet-behind-the-ears 22-year-old with a pretty red Triumph under his ass. That ride left a numb spot in my right ass cheek for three days, and a love of long-distance ridin' that still gets me chompin' at the bit to this day.

My second attempt at the 1K in '09 resulted in a blown rear tire that damn near got me killed, but left me with a great story. I thought I'd posted that somewhere on here, but I can't find it at the moment, so I'll have to publish it again sometime. Regardless, I got the bike fixed and managed to get off about 700 miles that day, but I fell short of the 1K.

I've done a handfull of 500 < 12's and one successful and one failed attempt at the 2000 < 48 in the years since my first ride, but I always liked the 1K. It's longer and more satisfyin' than the 500's, but with the same relatively relaxed pace. This past weekend, however, would be my first time ridin' any long distance by myself. The goal was to make it to Hoagy's house in Glen Dale, WV by 6pm for a dinner celebration in honor of Hoagy's Heroes' 10th anniversary.

I drew up the route myself and pored over it on Google Maps for several hours, so I felt very confident that I wouldn't get lost or anythin' silly like that. My route took me from Gettysburg to Chambersburg, PA on US 30W; I-81S from Chambersburg to Knoxville, TN; I-75N from Knoxville to Dayton, OH; I-70E from Dayton to Wheeling, WV, then a few miles south to Hoagy's house. Total distance as per Google was about 1,030 miles.

I was up and ready to go late Friday night, in preparation for my departure from my startin' point a little after midnight. I had prepared well, and was definitely feelin' good as I kissed my lady and headed out the driveway.

By midnight, I was fuelin' up at the Sheetz in Gettysburg, my chosen startin' point. A friend of mine from the local PD arrived a few minutes later to sign my witness forms, and I took off about 12:20am.
From then, it was just gas 'n go for almost the entirety of I-81. I hit a little bit of weather, but nothin' heavy enough to justify stoppin' and puttin' the raingear on. The other good thing about hittin' the interstates at a decent speed is that you seem to ride outta the weather about a quick as you ride into it.

I made my Knoxville gas stop with no problems, and was headed north on I-75 through the hills of Kentucky that things went south.

To preface, I've been havin' a bit of a fuel delivery issue with that bike when the tank gets on the lower side, which sometimes causes a miss. I was about 40 miles from my next scheduled fuel stop when she bucked a couple times. I thought it was my low-fuel miss, so I decided to keep goin' as long as the bike would let me before I hit my reserve tank. After a few miles of this, the bike bucked, and then revved freely as the bike lost all power to the rear wheel. I got the bike off the side of the busy highway, thinkin' that I had blown my clutch. It was somewhat of a relief then to notice a few minutes later that the chain had come off the sprocket.

What I'd thought was a miss over the last few miles was actually the chain loosenin', then skippin' over the sprocket. So, that left me with a bunch of bitched-up sprocket teeth and a chain that was damn near outta adjustment.

I tried to make a few phone calls along the highway, but the noise was overwhelmin'. I finally just loosened everythin' up, put the chain back on, buttoned everytin' back up then babied the bike to the nearest exit and jumped on a quieter side road.

Five phone calls to four local Kawasaki dealers yielded no new sprockets in stock, so fixin' the problem then and there just wasn't in the cards. I finally just said "To Hell with it," buttoned everythin' back up, and got back on the highway, bad sprocket and all. I figured I'd just go until it wouldn't go anymore, then worry about gettin' a chase truck.

At that point, it was warm enough to ditch the gloves and coat, and Kentucky's a helmet-optional state, so I opted to strip down and ride light for a little bit. Ditchin' the gloves meant that I finally got to use the old digital camera that was tethered to my tank bag. It's a dinosaur, but it has a regular shutter button that I can feel with an ungloved hand, so I can rely on touch and not sight to take pictures on the road. I figure if I point the camera in a subject's general direction and hit the button enough times, at least one of the pictures might come out the way I want it, all without havin' to divert my attention from the road.

Now that my sprocket was pretty much shot, I opted for a much easier pace than I'd been settin' earlier, which meant gettin' much better gas mileage as well. Even with spendin' almost an hour stopped while dealin' with the sprocket issue, I was still on schedule to get to Hoagy's house in time for dinner. By this time, I'd ridden into beautiful weather, so I was enjoyin' the slower pace. I couldn't take quite as many pictures as I'd have liked to though, as the highway was reasonably crowded for most of the afternoon.
Somewhere along I-75 in northern
Kentucky. God Bless America.
I made it to my Dayton fuel stop with no trouble, and with my newfound slower speed, I was kickin' ass on fuel mileage, so my Dayton fuel-up wound up bein' the last one. I did the last 200 miles to Hoagy's place without stoppin', except a brief stop at the WV line to put my helmet back on, as per their laws.
Hittin' my thousand-mile mark in eastern Ohio on I-70.

Seventeen and a half hours and 1,032 miles after leavin' my Gettysburg startin' point, I parked my bike behind Hoagy's neighbor's garage with ten minutes to spare until dinner. An awesome dinner, a shower, and a few too many cold beers made my journey all the more sweeter. A great time was indeed had by all, and we all stayed awake way too late spinnin' yarns about great rides we've had over the last ten years.
I don't normally drink that kinda water, but options were limited.
I slept well into Sunday mornin' and woke up feelin' great. I visited with Hoagy and his wife a little bit, then began to get my things together.

I was plannin' on headin' to Pittsburgh to visit my cousins on Sunday, then ride home Monday, but I decided to just head straight home. I figured that if my sprocket finally gave out, I'd have better luck gettin' a chase truck on a Sunday than a Monday.

Many folks from my area depend on the PA Turnpike to get from one side of the state to the other. I feel like I'm gettin' raped every time I pay the exorbitant toll to ride that shitty, borin' road, so by trial and error, I've settled on US 30 as the best means of gettin' back home. It's a few more minutes and few less miles, and it's a helluva lot purtier, plus no damned ol' toll. Sunday was no exception, as the traffic was light and the weather was just right. I took my time and was able to snap a few more pictures along the way.
One of any cool murals along the Lincoln Highway.
Some of the wind towers in the Laurel Highlands along US 30.
There are several sections in the Laurel Highlands where the
road just stretches on forever...
I was about 80 miles from home when the chain started skippin' over the sprocket a little worse. I just kept pluggin' along, doin' my best to get as close to a chase truck as possible. It got worse and worse with every mile, but she still kept movin' so I still kept ridin'.

After a particularly nervous ride up a hill that I damn near didn't make it up, I decided to stop at the summit for a beer at an ol' biker bar. I've passed The Mountain House uncountable times over the years without ever stoppin', but with time on my side, I decided it'd be a good day to do that.
Yes, that's a 911 Turbo S I'm parked next to. Damn sexy.
Purty awesome view for a bar.
I finished my beer and hit the road again, takin' it as easy as possible. Twice, I had to stop and put the chain back on, but she kept goin'. Somehow, I made it the rest of the way home... the sprocket gave completely out about halfway up my driveway.

Two days and 1,282 miles later, another awesome adventure came to an end.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hoagy's Heroes 10th Anniversary RTE

After many hours of preparin' a fun route and a few more hours of wrenchin' on the bike, I'll soon be en route on my third thousand-miler in under 24 hours in support of Hoagy's Heroes. My last attempt resulted in a rear-tire blowout  and one helluva good story, so I'm lookin' forward to finishin' this ride without much excitement.

This is the tenth anniversary for this awesome group of dedicated riders, so Hoagy is hostin' an anniversary RTE (Ride To Eat) at his place to tomorrow night. It won't likely be an all-night rager since almost everyone there is ridin' at least a thousand-miler to get there, but it'll undoubtedly be a damn good time for as long as we can stay awake.

I'm gonna attempt to use a GPS tracker on my phone, so if you are interested in seein' a somewhat real-time trail, feel free to check it out.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The first major house project

One of the first big projects around the house was one of the most important... the roof. It wasn't leakin' that we knew of, but since it was the original roof on the house when it was built in '85, it was time to get it done. I think they call that preventative maintenance, or somethin' silly like that. The girl decided that last weekend needed to be the weekend that it happened, and since I spent most of the previous month turkey huntin', I wasn't inclined to argue much. We got lucky with Momma Nature, and drew a pretty clear weekend. We did battle a few raindrops here and there, but nothin' too substantial.

It'd been about 20 years since I'd worked on a roof, and I didn't have much of a plan to go about it. Thankfully, the girl's ol' man, Dave, had a good idea of what needed to be done, and I'm damn glad we had him to ramrod the outfit. He was there every hour to lend his expertise and sage advice. Her brother Josh was right there with us the whole time as well, and we had some welcome appearances by Tater and Joe, and the girls also pitched in their fair share as well.

We got started bright and early Friday mornin' by strippin' all the old junk off. That was the easy part, and we pretty much had it wrapped up by the early afternoon. We took a run into town to get all the supplies we needed to put the new roof on, and called it a day.

Meanwhile, Tons of Fun Worthless Sadie took up residence in the spare bathroom tub. She ain't much like the supervisors over at Sunnybrook Farm. If us bangin' around on the roof wasn't skeery enough, she's deathly afraid of Tater after he spent the night sawin' lumber on the couch one night a few years ago. His snorin' is damn near enough to wake the dead. She's runnin' for a hidin' spot before his truck is halfway up the driveway anytime he drops by.

Saturday, we started off bright and early with layin' the new stuff. We worked on the scary side of the roof first, so we were inclined to take our time.  I ain't necessarily afraid of heights, I'm just afraid of the big damn splat I'd make if I hit the ground.

Regardless, it was slow, tedious work. And then it got hot to boot. Brutal sun, and not a cloud in the sky. We worked 'till dark on Saturday, and it just wasn't lookin' good to get the roof done by the end of Sunday.

We did work a little quicker on Sunday... Unlike Saturday, there was some sporadic cloud cover that helped keep us a little cooler. We were able to navigate most of the ridges and valleys a little quicker than I thought we would, and we made pretty decent time. We finally knocked off after dinner when the rain started, and by then almost everythin' was done except for the chunk over the breakfast nook and gettin' the roof vents back on. Needless to say, we were all ready to go back to our regular jobs on Monday so we could get a break. We were whooped.

We picked at the last of it on Monday afternoon, and Tuesday afternoon, I was finally able to put the finishin' touches on it. Let's just say I was damn glad to finally get offa that roof.

T'was one helluva project, that took a lot of man hours and patience. I'm very thankful for all the help we got, and even more thankful that it's done.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Body Count '14 - #7

I aspire to have a post or two with a little more substance this week... there's been a lot goin' on, and a lotta neat stuff to share. That said, it's all taken a lotta time, so there ain't been much time to hover over a keyboard. In the meantime...

I was workin' on some stuff on the back 40 this afternoon and decided to take a quick stroll back the trail into the woods. Lo and behold, this little booger had the same thought about the same time. I held tight 'till he wandered outta view, then made the mad dash back to the house. By the time I got back, he had made it into the neighborin' bean field, offerin' a nice open shot. I don't even remember puttin' the gun to my shoulder. That ol' Charles Daly is damn near automatic sometimes...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shitty music

The only problem with moonlightin' at a bar is that I'm constantly regaled with loud, heavy doses of some of the most God-awful dance, rap and pop-country shit that has ever disgraced a set of speakers. It's the kinda shit that gets stuck in your head and shows up at the worst times.

I mostly enjoy the gig, but that part of it pretty much sucks.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Body Count '14 - #6

Caught another on sneakin' around the shed at home while I was lookin' out the window of the breakfast nook. His mad dash back to the shed as I stepped out onto the porch with the ol' 12-gauge proved to be a futile effort.

Edit: Just whiffed on another one. Little bastards are everywhere today. Hopefully I'll get another chance at that one...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Last-minute success

As we entered the final week of the spring turkey season here in PA, things were lookin' a little slow. Nobody had had much action since Ron dusted his second bird to open week three. Then, on Memorial Day weekend, we stirred the pot up at camp again. Our buddy Smitty tagged a nice two-year-old, and the ol' man came through again with another late-season afternoon hog of a longbeard. Joe had one dead to rights, but a misfire turned his hunt into a catch-and-release expedition.
17.5lbs, 9-1/2" beard, 7/8" spurs
23lbs, 9-1/4" beard, 1-3/8" spurs
I, on the other hand, was already lookin' into some new recipes for tag soup (the recipes I've tried before never taste very good for some reason).

Then, a groundhog assassination turned into an unlikely gobbler scoutin' mission on Wednesday after the mornin' milkin' at the farm, and things were lookin' up. I rounded up the necessary permission to get where I needed to be, and I had all day Thursday to go after 'em.

I got into the field early Thursday mornin', and after changin' my set-up a few times in the dark, I finally settled in for the long haul. A few minutes before six, a bird opened up in the woods on the other end of the field, about 400 yards away. He gobbled thirteen times in the next half-hour, then nothin'. With heavy eyes, I finally succumbed to a month's worth of short nights around 0700. When I came to a little while later, a hen had magically appeared in my decoys. She hung out close for about an hour, alternatin' between eatin' and preenin'.
Hard to see, but the hen is puffed out while preenin',
just in front of my left-hand decoy.
When she moved outta sight, I decided it would be a good time to stretch my legs, and I quickly figured out that she wasn't as far outta sight as I thought she was. With a few alarm putts, she headed off into the timber. Turns out that was prolly a good thing to get rid of her.

About twenty minutes later, I heard a gobble from the far side of the field. I hit him right back with an aggressive yelp and some cutts, then grabbed my binoculars. The bird had just crested one of the rises in the field about 300 yards away, and I quickly saw the long rope swingin' from his chest. Had the hen still been there, she prolly woulda headed right for him and led him off, but my decoys weren't movin', so he slowly started headed my direction.

After takin' his dear sweet time closin' the distance, he disappeared into a swale about 75 yards way, and never came out. I had long since prepped myself for a shot, and after five minutes I was just startin' to wonder what the hell happened when all of the sudden a jake walked outta the timber to my left and half-strutted into the decoys. That did the trick... That ol' longbeard mean-walked outta the swale and directly at the jake, ready to kick some ass. Grandpa's Mossberg 835 and the Hevi-Shot Mag Blends beat him to the punch, droppin' him stone dead at 40 yards.
Them Mag Blends are expensive, but damn, they perform.
Most birds flop around as they expire... not this one.
Old Indian Trick: binoculars make a good makeshift
camera bipod in a pinch.

This was my first Adams County bird, and the second bird I've got with Grandpa's turkey gun. I definitely felt Grandpa huntin' with me through that gun as I carried it this season. This will definitely be a special bird for the memory bank.

As an added bonus, I hit up the same area the next day after work, and after bein' set up for only a few miuntes, I called that same shittin' little jake in again. I ain't much for shootin' jakes, but with only minutes left in my season, I decided he looked pretty damn tasty.
13.5lbs, 4.5" beard (two strands to 6"), 1/4" spurs
I thought I was waitin' until the last minute, but Matt had to go and one-up me. He ain't hunted much this spring, and his six- or seven-year streak of harvestin' longbeards was on the line. Well, he made it up to camp for the final weekend and promptly put down a helluva nice longbeard. I ain't heard the story yet, but knowin' him, it was excitin'.
20.5lbs, 10" beard, 1" spurs
I gotta say, we usually do most of our damage as a camp in the early weeks of the season. It was definitely a change of pace this year by gettin' half of 'em in the last week. We took a total of ten birds, (and had a fair share of misses) includin' eight longbeards, a jake and a bearded hen. Definitely not a shabby season!