Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sport Touring, What is it really?

I know that each rider has his own definition of what a sport touring bike should be. Some would say that it should be a sport bike with some bags thrown on with a back pack. Others would say that it should be a heavy weight bike that can pack on tons of miles, with plenty of power, wind protection and two up ability. Others just feel any bike that can be enjoyed in the twisty roads, no matter what type of machine, is a sport touring bike. I have to agree with most of them. Sport touring is a state of mind, more so than a specific type of machine. With that being said, let me give you my definition of a sport touring bike. And believe me it has changed over the years. 

In my early 20's and 30's I was all about the "sport" in sport touring. I logged over 40K on a GSXR 750 with nothing more than soft bags and a tank bag. It did not hurt, that at that time, my father was riding a Goldwing. He had graduated from his sport touring days on his BMW 90/s. He could help with any packing that I could not fit on the Gixxer. Hard to pack tools and camping gear on a bike like that for a week or longer journey. 

I have to step back and tell you all how I became addicted to the sport touring genre. My father was always doing trips and riding with friends. He would come home and talk about riding in the mountains without a care in the world. His eyes would light up at the thought of the next journey. 

I know that there were times when I got frustrated with my dad
for being gone all day on a Saturday, but as I grew older I could understand the attraction. It was his get away from the stresses of life. I wish I could have seen that at an earlier age. he deserved those trips. My dad always had the touring thing going on no matter what machine he was riding at the time. 

I loved those trips with my father and I did together. I wish every single day that I could ride with him again. He gave me his love of motorcycles and I will always love him even more for that. My father loved riding his bike. He loved that he could escape and not think of anything except the machine and the road he was on. I am sure all of us that ride a motorcycle can appreciate that. 

As I grew older and got bigger, I decided that I really liked the added comfort of having a bigger, more powerful machine. I wanted to be able to ride longer than a few 100 miles without feeling like my wrists were going to fall off. So I started riding bigger machines. I also needed to have a bike that could handle two up adventures. My wife loves riding and she wanted to spend more time doing the touring thing. 

I have to say that the reason I ride a motorcycle is three fold. I love the journey. I love the fact that I can travel the globe, listening to the sounds of the universe. I can smell what the world has to offer, both good and bad. I can see this beautiful land from the back roads while never running into another soul on the road. 

The second thing is the thrill. Yes even at my age of 50, my motorcycle still gives me a thrill. Nothing is better than zipping down a twisty road with all of your attention focused on the next curve. Not a care in the world, just trying to hit the apex, brake when needed and accelerating out of corners, feeling your bikes tires griping the road. Nothing makes for better mind clearing therapy than a good couple of miles on a fun serpentine road. Its still makes me smile just thinking about it. 

The last thing is probably the most important thing. The building of relationships. I love the fact that my life partner and I can enjoy the bike together. I am sure we get different things from the ride, but we both seem to enjoy the feeling of being on the bike. The way we smile at each other after a nice fun spirited ride. The secure feeling I get when she leans into me as we speed down the road, not a care in the world. Riding the bike has played a large part in our closeness and it has given us a glimpse of what our future will look like when the kids are gone and we can spend more free time together. 

It also about all of the great friends we have made while riding the bike. We have some of our best friends in our life because we ride a motorcycle. The relationships we have built on journeys has been irreplaceable. Nothing beats enjoying a day on the bike and then ending the day kicking tires and enjoying good friends. We have made many memories while riding the bike and look forward to making many more. 

So back to the initial question. What is sport touring? My definition is this. Now remember 5 years down the road or even a year from now this might change, but at this day and time sport touring to me is this. Riding a machine that has enough power for two people to have a spirited ride on a good twisty surface. Preferable in the mountains with excellent pavement and no traffic. (yes I know I am dreaming, but it is my definition.. right? )  Riding a machine that can log many miles while still having the ability to get your attention when the fun starts. 

It must have enough capacity to handle a good 3 to 4 day journey with no issue. It must be reliable and it must be fun. It needs to be able to go 200 miles on a tank of gas or somewhere close to that number. It would be beneficial to have some decent wind protection for those times when slabbing is a necessity. The seat has to be good, it has to be comfortable to ride at least 400 miles a day without complaint. 

Nothing else is needed, except good friends, twisty roads and enough time to go out and enjoy this thing we call sport touring. 

I am already looking forward to our next journey. So until then, stay safe my friends and enjoy the ride. 

Versys getting some great reviews

The Big V is making a big impression on all of the moto magazines. It seems that everyone has something good to to say about the bike. The Motorcycle Consumer News gave it high praise, as do the guys from motorcycle daily. You can read that article here on the web

I am also writing a larger review of the bike from the real world prospective of two up motorcycle touring. We have almost 4000 miles on the Big V and we enjoy it more and more. It is a great machine. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

East Texas with the Lone Star Riders - Good & Dry Times!

Wow! What a fantastic weekend. The weather reports started off looking rather ominous. Jamie and I decided that come hell or high water we were riding. We needed some time away and besides, the place we were staying had a non cancellation rule, so we did not want to eat the money. lol. We are so glad we decided to ride. Some of the club decided to join us in the cars. (That's how bad the forecast looked.) The weather was AWESOME! It never rained on us and we got to log a good 780 miles with no precipitation. Good times indeed. Here is our ride report from the weekend. Special thanks to the Lone Start Riders for making Jamie and I feel so welcomed. Great folks to spend some time with and we look forward to our next journey with them. If you do not want to read the report you can view all of the pictures here: East Texas Event - Lone Star Riders

Thursday April 9th - Prep day

Jamie had to work today, so I was in charge of getting everything ready to go. I went to the local dealer (Plano Kawasaki - Suzuki) to get the 12v adapter installed on the new Versys. I could have done this myself, but felt bad about cancelling the top case form the dealer so wanted to inject a few funds back to them. They have taken great care of me and I want to keep that relationship in a good light. They installed it in less than a half hour and the rate reflected this. 

I then headed home to clean up the bike and pack it for the journey. On Wednesday evening Jamie and I went to REI and purchased some compression sacks to help with the packing. The bags on the Versys are not as easy to pack as the C-14. the shape is different and the size just a little smaller. The bags are not cheap but they sure made packing a lot easier. I think we will buy a couple more for longer trips. I got the bike packed and then packed up our dog to take here to the Pet Resort. She loves going and I never feel guilty taking her there. 

I cleaned up the house, had the bike loaded, the dog dropped off and in enough time to catch some of the Master gold tournament. It was a nice way to start a long weekend. 

Friday April 10th - Let's Ride!

What a great morning for a ride. Jamie and I got up early and took our time getting ready. We were meeting the group for breakfast about 40 miles from the house. We did not want to have to rush as we would be managing some traffic along the way. (Poor suckers that have to work. haha). We were meeting at Alfredo's Steak house. They serve a mean breakfast. We had 8 bikes show up to ride. The rest of the group took cars and would meet us later in the day. 

Mark had mapped out a fantastic loop and the day of riding was awesome. We did not have any issues, the rain stayed away and it was a great day to log some 230 miles. It is always fun seeing the smiles of the group. We stopped and had a good lunch and just enjoyed the great East Texas riding. We had a great collections of motorcycles. There were BMW's a Kawasaki, Triumph, Honda, Yamaha and even a Moto Guzzi.

It was a little chilly riding, but no one seemed to complain. The weather cleared later in the day and we even saw the sun. Again no rain. It was predicted at an 80% - 90% clip so we were very happy to juts be a little chilly. 

We rolled into the Pine Creek Lodge around 3:30PM. It was a beautiful afternoon. The rooms were good and the service was impeccable. It would be a nice place to stay the rest of the weekend. The rooms were very clean and the entire facility was very cozy. Our group had the entire complex, so it was setting up to be a fabulous weekend of good riding and better friends. 

Jamie and I got checked in and decided to back track and take a few pictures.The colors were awesome and the day was too good to let pass without more time on the Versys. We stopped and took pictures on a small country road, we did not take our helmets off as the mosquitoes were out in force. We got a few pictures and then rode into town to pick up a few supplies. Dinner was being served at 6pm and we wanted to be cleaned up and ready to enjoy the evenings festivities. 

We finished up the day with a great meal prepared by the Lodge. We had some awesome lasagna and carrot cake. It was a great way to end the riding day. We all headed down to the pond to tell stories and drink a few adult beverages while enjoying smores and a bon fire. Fridays do not get any better than this. Good friends, Great roads and my wife right beside me for the journey. 

Saturday April 11th - Colors everywhere!

We awoke to a great forecast and even better we had a nice 280 mile loop to ride today, breakfast comes with the room rate and damn it was good. Home made waffles and all of the fixins. it was amazing!

We set off around 9AM and spent the rest of the day exploring some of the best roads in East Texas. We saw lakes, country roads and many flowers scattered along the way. We were probably a week to early to get the full blown effect of the wild flowers but it was still a great day of riding. 

I love the fact that my pillion loves to ride, loves to take pictures and from time to time loves a good spirited go along twisty roads. I am so lucky to have her as my wife but best of all she is my best friend as well. I had to laugh as she tried to take a selfie on the bike. Too funny. 

We finished up the evening like we did on Friday night. We had a great meal, some more adult beverages and a bon fire. It was another great day. Again no rain. The weather Gods were with us. 

Sunday April 12th - I guess we have to go home. 

It was warm this morning as we packed up the bike and got ready to ride back to Plano. It was a great weekend with fun people. The weather held out and we never got a drop of rain. I felt bad for some of the gang as they drove in cars fearing the worst. The bike did so well. In fact I will be writing a little article about the new Versys. We have over 3500 miles on her and we are so happy with the bike. It has already lead us to some great times and we look forward to many more good miles on her. 

We stopped for Lunch in Ben Wheeler and then took our time getting home. We rolled into the door around 3:30. We logged almost 780 miles for the weekend. Till next time everyone ride safe!