Sunday, May 19, 2013

A ride to the deer camp

With the MS5000 coming to an end, I needed to stack on a few miles to get past the 5,000 mile mark. I was able to combine the need to add miles with a friend’s need to go to the deer camp to retrieve cameras and batteries. So a plan was hatched! We’d ride out to the property, collect the stuff and then ride 2 of the “3 sisters” on the way back and stop for pie in Medina.

John and I met at our usual Exxon station just before 6am, topped off the tanks and paired our Sena headsets. Then we headed out of town. John’s Fat Bob isn’t set up for big miles yet so we planned to stop around every 140 to 150 miles for gas. The first stop was in Luling at the Love’s truck stop. We looked at his receipt to see if it would work for normal ride certification and the answer is still NO. Love’s just doesn’t seem to put the complete location information on their receipt.

We cruised through San Antonio with ease and stopped in Kerrville for gas and a bio break. This leg of the trip John enjoyed better mileage as we had a tail wind once we left San Antonio. I didn’t look at my miles per gallon, I just filled the bike with 7 gallons of gas, recorded the odometer and stuffed it in my receipt box.

An hour later we were pulling up to the camp house. While the GS is made for gravel roads and mildly rocky roads, a Harley Davidson Fat Bob isn’t. But to John’s credit he motored through and got to the cabin. We tried to start the camp jeep without luck. Since all the things we needed to pick up could be collected from 1 road, we opted to ride the bikes down the road/trail until one of us decided it was time to walk the rest of the way. We ended up visiting all the camera locations along the way without incident. And the Fat Bob did great. Once again, I found myself in an environment that I think the GS is well suited for and there’s a Harley motoring along. It was like the Haul road in 2009 all over. LOL!

Once we finished up at the deer camp, we eagerly returned to the pavement. It was starting to get hot and standing around in riding gear wasn’t the greatest experience, rolling down the road at 70mph felt much better. Since we had gotten to the camp quite a bit earlier than I had planned we now found ourselves ahead of schedule for the day. So we took FM336 south to Leakey.

Upon arriving in Leakey, I took John over to the Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop for a burger. We enjoyed the scenic views and cool breeze for a little while. I was concerned about his range so we stopped for gas in Leakey before riding FM337 over to Medina. On this day there was automobile traffic along the road that detracted from the overall enjoyment of the road. But John enjoyed the ride none the less.

In Medina we stopped for pie at The Apple Store. In my opinion this is another one of those don’t miss places when you go to the hill country. We got our apple pie and apple ice cream just before a large group came in. After our snack we collected a few things to take home and departed. We now had 272 miles to finish the day. As we passed through Bandera, it dawned on me that we probably could have stopped there for gas instead of Leakey. Oh well, it’s not like we were on the clock or anything.

We followed 173 south out of Bandera until we reach Hondo. Then the slog on Hwy 90 toward San Antonio began. Traffic was mild and it was easy going. I just set my cruise and listened to an audio book. As we rolled into San Antonio traffic increased but it wasn’t bad for a Sunday afternoon. I started to plan for the next gas stop. It would either be on the east side of town at I-410 and I-10 or Seguin or Luling. Anything besides Luling meant we’d stop one more time before getting home.

Shortly after passing the I410 option, John came on the headset and said he thought Seguin should be the next gas stop. We agreed on the Exxon at Hwy 46. I topped off my tanks while we were there. Looking at the GPS it looked like I would get home about 7:30 so I let Reagan know where I was and what time I’d be home. She was surprised that we were so far along on our ride at this time.

As we continued east along I-10 the traffic started to build. We encountered one accident scene in which an SUV had gone into the median and tumbled a bit. There were 2 ambulances on site and I saw some children in child seats. But it looked like the family had survived reasonably well. The delay was minimal and I don’t think my feet touched the ground once.

The closer we got to Houston the more aggressive and erratic drivers became. Since I was riding with another rider, I opted to spend more time in the right lane and let the crazies go on. When exit 720 to Seally finally arrived it was a welcomed stop and we left the interstate for the day. While at the Shell station filling up  John’s tank, my bike found itself at the center of attention for some young men. They were intrigued with the Valentine 1, hydration system and all the electronic gadgetry.

The ride down Hwy 36 was pleasant and we soon found ourselves back where we had started, each of us turning towards our respective homes. Both bikes now had another 650+ miles on their odometer. It was a great day’s ride.

This ride gave me a chance to test out a few things I’ve been working on for this summer’s rally season. In particular I had a new tank bag from Twisted Throttle as my custom made bag had to be cancelled after a 7 month wait. I went with the electrified version of the Bags-Connection “GS” EVO. I like the bag, but HOLY COW!!! It’s large. I should have no problem rallying completely out of the bag.

I also tested my Bluetooth set up further. My phone is now the center of my audio entertainment. I had an book, MP3s, XM streaming music and a few shoutcast feeds of radio stations around the country. Using the phone directly required a change in riding gear, so I acquired some RevIT Neutron gloves which have material in them to be touch screen friendly. Once I got used to them, they worked pretty well. I believe once I get them broken in they will be ALL DAY comfortable. I sure hope so because they will soon need to be 11 DAY comfortable  :)

As part of my new audio/communication set up, I wanted to have a way of taking dictation while I’m on a ride. That way I can record notable events along the way and better recount them in the blog. It’s not a big deal for a 1 day ride. But for something like an 11 day ride I think it will be invaluable. I found a free app called Philips Dictation Recorder which works great with my Bluetooth setup.

Besides the benefits of multiple audio entertainment sources and the ability to use a dictation program. I found pairing my Sena headset directly to the phone has increased the call quality considerably. I’ve made/taken multiple calls while in motion and the caller on the other end simply doesn’t know I’m rolling down the road on my motorcycle unless I tell them. With the Zumo in the mix, people always knew I was on the bike, even if I was talking to them at a stop. The Bluetooth stack in the Zumo is just inferior. I’m inspired to try out the Sena SR10 with my Valentine 1 again but that may have to wait a week or so.

I leave for the Mason Dixon 20-20 rally on Thursday morning. Between now and then I need to do a full service to the bike. But other than that, it’s ready to go. And this trip helped to prove that.

No comments: