It’s a pathetic thing to see cobwebs on your bike. Those lines around the front fender, fairing, and lowers are cobwebs. It hasn’t been ridden hardly at all over the last 5 weeks and now the spiders have decided to use it as their new home and highway system. That’s ok though, oil change coming tomorrow in preparation for the IBA ride. Were set to leave Friday morning at around 3 am. That will get those spiders re-evaluating making their new lair on my dormant bike!
Today is an unusually cold day where we live. A cold front moved in overnight and dropped the temperatures into the mid 40’s. It got so cold our bees even holed up in the hive to stay warm with no indication they even want to attempt flying out to gather pollen. That also means no riding for us. And, actually, I don’t even have the desire to ride.
I make it habit to plan rides far in advance, researching interesting destinations for day trips, weekend trips, 3 day trips, and even week long and longer trips. Doing the research far in advance allows me to plan some great rides that take us on exciting roads, great views, a purposeful destination, local eateries, etc. Some rides can take weeks to put together before I am ready to head out on the bikes and experience them. It’s enjoyable to spend the time and effort into putting the routes together. I can get as excited putting together a ride as riding it. At present I have about 30 rides planned and ready to go to choose from. All I have to do is decide how many days we have free, pick a ride, and take off.
However, for quite a few months I haven’t had the desire to do much riding. That initial excitement you get when an upcoming weekend is looking perfect for riding is no longer present. I haven’t planned a ride in weeks and haven’t had any ambition to do so. We have ridden a couple times in the last few months which I posted about and had a great time while we were out. For the most part though when the weekend nears, the antsy anticipation of taking off on the bikes is absent. I don’t know why. Even trying to get psyched up only lasts for moments. Whats even worse is Margaret is feeling the same. So the bikes sit idly in the garage plugged into their battery tenders quietly complaining that were not taking them out.
I had planned on doing the Iron Butt Association 1K ride this upcoming weekend with some friends. Now the forecast is showing rain so it might be a no go. I had requested the time off from work and if we don’t go due to weather it may be quite some time before I can get the time off from work to try again. I was hoping the IBA challenge would spark an interest in taking the bike out again but now the rain forecast might just fizzle my spark out. We could ride it in the rain but I simply have no desire to be miserable on that long of a ride in such a short time just to say, “I did it”. Getting caught in the rain while your already out is fine, starting out when its already raining is not. We’ll see what happens in the upcoming few days.
So what happened? Quite a few things possibly. We are trying hard to save so we can purchase land and riding takes a lot of money. Even a short 2-300 mile day trip can run you a $100 by the time you fill the tanks on both bikes, eat, and use a bit for whatever it is we rode to see. Do that just once a week for a month and we could have saved $400 towards the land we want. Spring also takes up a lot of our time. We keep an herb garden, vegetable garden, worm bin, compost, beehive, rain water system, etc. and spring time is action time for us to prepare and plant. So when you only have Saturday and Sunday available to work at the house, it cuts into the riding time. We also live in an older home that we are renovating in preparation to sell when and if we get to the point where we can buy land. Throw in time to do home improvements and now you are almost down to no time for riding. For us it comes down to a life priority decision and unfortunately having fun riding isn’t going to get us where we want to be and actually sets us back from our goals. Maybe that reality is affecting our feelings on riding.
Riding related events could be another reason for the fizzle. Taking a realistic look at bike related events, its the same old rerun of all the others. Rally’s have the same bike shows, cleanest bike, bike with most chrome, dirtiest bike, most custom bike, loudest bike, blah blah blah. They have the same vendors selling the same stuff, vests, gloves, pouches, bandannas, patches, jewelry, etc, etc, etc. I like to drink a beer or two but the overwhelming stench of spilled beer cooking in the sun, belching, and sweat just doesn’t sit well with me. The same run of the mill food, sausage on a stick, nachos, burgers, corn, funnel cakes, and such never changes. This applies to Harley Davidson dealer events as well, its just the same old replay. We are wanting to see and experience new sights when we go out, not a photocopy of an event with a new name attached. If you like people watching it can be all right until you start seeing the same people making their second, third, fourth, or more tour of the vendor stalls. Raffles are fine, but I would rather just purchase exactly what I’m wanting than spend money on a ticket in hopes of winning a prize I probably don’t need or wont use, just to say “YAY, I WON!”. So when a bike event is coming up I look at it and say to myself, “do I really want to ride a bit to get there, park the bike for the day, and experience the same copy-paste as the last 20+ events”? Maybe the way I’m feeling about riding right now is contributing to my attitude towards bike events…
Tour riding actually fulfills our riding desires. When you head out for a few weeks on the bikes, the sights and experiences are ever changing. When you return its very difficult to do day rides and experience the same feelings and emotions that the long trips invoke. You can chase that high with day rides but it falls short. The problem with taking longer trips though comes back to most peoples basic struggles, work and money. So once a year we can do something like that but for the rest of the year its pretty much one or two day rides. Eventually you begin to see the bulk of what your area offers in terms of how far you can ride out and get back in a day or two.
I assume this feeling happens to all riders at one point or another? I’ve heard of it happening and seen it occur to the point they even sold their bikes. I would hope it wouldn’t go that far. So whats the answer? I have none. I suppose we just keep on doing what were doing and hope the excitement to ride returns.
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It’s bluebonnet time in Texas, and its the height of blooms for those bluebonnets too according to the Ennis Garden Club. The Ennis Bluebonnet Festival is a yearly event to celebrate the Texas state flower. The Ennis garden club begins scouting around the Ennis area and doing their flower dance to determine when the blooming will be at its height. Once they determine the prime time, they put together a bluebonnet trail that you can follow which takes you past the most scenic of bluebonnet fields. It’s quite a ride and well worth taking. The fresh aroma of millions of bluebonnets can only be experienced during a couple short months before the bluebonnets fade away for another year so the time window opens and closes fast for the grandest experience.
The festival itself unfortunately has nothing to do with bluebonnets. There are no bluebonnet necklaces, blue pie, bluebonnet pictures or sculptures. I didn’t even see any bluebonnet seed packets for sale. So if your expecting a tribute to bluebonnets you wont find it at the festival. It’s your typical town festival with overpriced trailer food, vendors selling the same trinkets you find at every festival you ever go too. Most of those trinkets are the type you buy spontaneously, moved by emotion with the justification that your supporting something great, and will probably discard a few months later wondering why you even bought it in the first place. There was also a live band, and if your interested in that sort of entertainment, there is seating provided so you can stay all day and sit and watch. The band that was playing while we were there was pretty good though and probably would have been worth staying for if we had wanted to spend more time at the festival.
The festival usually has a small antique car show which is pretty good. This year they had an antique motorcycle show as well that we really enjoyed. Seeing some of the historic bikes renewed my desire to restore one someday. Probably wont ever happen but I can dream…
Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without a historical reference of the bluebonnet becoming the Texas state flower which is actually quite interesting. (Information gathered from State Symbols USA)
Texas designated the bluebonnet as the official state flower in 1901. Bluebonnet flowers were named for the blue color and sunbonnet-shaped petals (though not all bluebonnets are blue). Quote from Aggie Horticulture®; Texas Bluebonnets — Texas Pride: “In the spring of 1901, the Texas Legislature got down to the serious business of selecting a state floral emblem and the ensuing battle was hot and heavy. One legislator spoke emotionally in favor of the cotton boll since cotton was king in Texas in those days. Another, a young man from Uvalde, extolled the virtues of the cactus so eloquently, noting the hardy durability of the plant and the orchid-like beauty of its flowers, that he earned the nickname of “Cactus Jack” which stuck with him for the rest of his life. He was John Nance Garner and later became vice president of the United States.”
If you missed this years prime time for bluebonnets and the festival then put it on your calendar for next year. It’s worth the experience.
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We are getting some ride time in as spring bursts into bloom! The last 2 weeks in particular have been filled with great day long trips. I’m trying to get my butt hardened a bit before the Iron Butt Association 1000 mile in 24 hours ride. After not sitting in the saddle for any length of time over the last few months I found its necessary to acclimate to the seat again for longer rides.
I had a follower of my blog contact me in regards to doing the IBA ride with us so we met up a couple of weeks back and did some riding together, had lunch, and discussed IBA details. Bill and Toy are their names and it was a natural friendship that took place. They are a wonderful couple, genuine and honest and fun to be around. Its not often you find couples that you can get along with so easily and it is great to know them. Bill will be going on the IBA with us. That makes a solid group of 4 riders, myself, Steve, Bill, and Jeff. Margaret can’t do the IBA because of her back from surgery years ago. That much time spent on such a short amount of time on the bike causes her pain so I decided to make it a guys ride. Good chance to get away with friends for a few days.
We had lunch at Docs in Muenster, TX and nailed down the departure date and time, the route is completely set both to Phoenix, AZ andback, and fuel stops are planned. I’ll have to do an oil change before we leave as the trip will be 2000 miles in 3 days and will put me way over if I don’t.
We did some great riding into Oklahoma with Steve, Angie, Bill, and Toy a couple weeks ago. Put almost 400 miles in one day on the bikes. We did some riding up in the Muenster, TX area, through the wind turbine fields, then over the Red River into Oklahoma, over to Ardmore, OK, then around Lake Murray, back to Whitesboro, TX, and finally home from there. We stopped at Lake Murray to climb Tucker Tower that overlooks the lake and take pictures. Toy introduced us to Geocaching and even found one around the tower for us to see. I signed and dated the Geocache log book as Ride it Wrench it before Toy returned it to its hidden resting spot where it will await being discovered by the next geocache hunter.
This past weekend we did more riding southwest of Fort Worth, TX. Initially we weren’t even going to ride. I asked Margaret to get with Angie and see if they wanted to ride somewhere. My idea was if they didn’t we would stay home and flop around the house and be worthless all day. They did want to ride so we met up with them and headed out. This is where I believe in the providence of God. I don’t typically write much about my spiritual viewpoints but I do believe everything happens for a reason. We usually discover those reasons far afterwards but sometimes the situation makes itself evident right then.
While riding on a FM road by Glen Rose, TX on a particularly curvy area we came across a bike accident. There were 3 people, one couple that were riding 2 up and another rider, John, that lost control. No one had stopped yet to help and his friend was on the phone with 911. We pulled over and immediately jumped into help mode. First we pulled the bike away from him. We carefully rolled him onto his back while bracing his neck and checked for injuries. Steve and I began traffic management while Margaret, Angie, the other lady began using our first aid kits to stop the bleeding and treat for shock until EMS arrived. he was in bad shape and kept going in and out of consciousness. When EMS arrived they were concerned about moving him because he was unable to move his legs or arms so they called in Care Flight to fly him to an emergency center. As of the writing of this post, John has had 2 surgeries, broken ribs, and other internal damage, and is still unable to breathe on his own.
I know we ended up on that road at that particular time because it was meant to be. John needed help and we came by right after it happened. If we had decided to spend the day doing nothing at home the situation may have been worse for him.
After that we continued our ride, had lunch in Cranfills Gap, TX at the Horny Toad Bar & Grill, and then took the long way home.
So that’s the short story of events over the last couple weeks. I will have some new videos posted soon as well. They will be a series on installing LED brake lights, turn signals, headlight, and how to properly adjust the headlight on a Harley touring bike. Their actually already made but I will roll them out over the course of about a month so stayed tuned on the Ride It Wrench It You Tube channel for those.
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I wanted to put up a short post for this local event. The Combat Vets Association is having a poker run in Burleson, TX on April 15, 2017 to raise funds for local veterans in need. It’s for a great cause and it will be a lot of fun as well. We encourage everyone to support local events like this wherever you ride. Details are on the flyer below.
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With winter set in I thought it a good time to do a short write up on battery tenders and how they can prolong the life of your motorcycle battery. I’m constantly amazed at how many people don’t use a tender and even more amazed at how many experienced seasoned riders don’t use one and don’t know what positive effect a tender will have in keeping the battery working for a longer period of time. Prolonged life means less expense to replace the battery down the road. It also means you’ll be less likely to hop on your motorcycle to take a nice ride and find the battery dead, then have to take the time to remove it, purchase a new one, and install it. Some people don’t know what to do when their battery dies and will pay to have their motorcycle hauled to the shop, then spend even more to have the shop replace the battery for them. It just seemed a good time to dive into this topic with some information that can keep you on the road more with less expense and grief.
Why Do Batteries Discharge More Quickly in Cold Weather?
The electric current generated by a battery is produced when a connection is made between its positive and negative terminals. When the terminals are connected, a chemical reaction is initiated that generates electrons to supply the current of the battery. Lowering the temperature causes chemical reactions to proceed more slowly, so if a battery is used at a low temperature then less current is produced than at a higher temperature. As the batteries run down they quickly reach the point where they cannot deliver enough current to keep up with the demand.
Motorcycle batteries are designed to release a high burst of current, measured in amperes, and then be quickly recharged. They are not designed for deep discharge, and a full discharge can reduce the battery’s lifespan. So when a cold battery discharges faster which drains the battery it will cause a deep discharge thus reducing the life of the battery. A hot battery will simply not hold its charge as well which will also cause a deep discharge thus reducing the life of the battery. A battery tender will keep the battery at full charge during these conditions thus prolonging the batteries life by preventing deep discharge and recharge.
Bottom Line on the Effect of Temperature on Batteries
-Cold batteries hold their charge longer than room temperature batteries but will discharge faster when used at cold temperatures, thus causing deep discharge and reducing battery life.
-Hot batteries don’t hold charge as well, thus causing deep discharge and reducing battery life.
How To Install a Battery Tender on a Motorcycle
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There isn’t much going on in my world of riding right now. Due to a 3 week stint with the flu, cold temperatures, and the holidays, riding just took a backseat. I have taken the time to create a complete series on removing, mounting, spoke adjustment, and mounting of wheels on a 2013 Softail Deluxe though. The video in this post will close this mini series out and hopefully it will help readers who want to tackle this process. It might be some time before any more videos are rolled out though. Between work and the cold I just don’t want to go into the garage and spend a day working and recording with freezing fingers.
We are putting together plans to take on the 1000 mile in 24 hours Iron Butt ride this spring. Looks like there will be 4 of us taking on the challenge together. We have a tentative time frame of late April and as that time approaches we’ll start keeping an eye on the weather. If destination plans remain the same we’ll be riding from Fort Worth, TX to Pheonix, AR which is 1008 miles. After completion I have a beautiful scenic ride to get back that will take a couple days so we can see some new sites. We’ll definitely have some media for this ride when the time comes.
Other plans for the spring and summer are in the planning stages. Margaret and I won’t be taking a multi-week ride this year. We have goals outside of riding that we are working towards so the time and money it takes for a 2-3 week ride can be better used in other ways for us this year. We will be taking a few shorter rides that will be over a 3 day weekend though. So we will head out on Friday and return on Sunday. There are some places locally we have been wanting to return to and some other places locally we want to see. Locally for us reaches out to states surrounding Texas. As it stands now we will be riding the 3 sisters, FM roads 335, 336, and 337 in the Texas hill country. The Pig Trail, Mount Magazine Scenic Byway, and Talimen Scenic Byway in Arkansas will be another 3 day ride. Mount Scott and Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma is another place we’ve wanted to ride so that’s on our 3 day weekend ride agenda as well. Were still tossing around a couple more of these 3 days rides but haven’t come to a decision on which ones yet.
Anyways, hope everyone has a great new year and is able to take their bike on new roads!
How to Remove/ Install the Front Wheel on a Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe
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Back again to the Wise County Toy Run after missing last year! This was the 17th annual run making it quite a long history of toy runs. It was a cold one this time with temperatures coming in at 48 degrees. This meant we rode the hour to get there in a wind chill of 38 degrees, then the toy run itself, and the ride back home. We bundled up real good and it wasn’t all that bad once you settled into it.
Every rider probably has their favorite toy run in their local area. Ours is the Wise County Toy Run. Its more of a MC supported run than the others that take place in the area. It has strong community support from the residents of both Decatur, TX and Bridgeport, TX. People will park along the route in anticipation of the motorcycles coming through. Riders will decorate their bikes with lights and toys that they will be donating at the end of the ride. It’s a huge parade event with lots of waving, signs residents make in support of the toy run, and bikers tossing candy to the kids as they ride by.
This was the lowest turn out of the 4 that I have attended. Not sure if it was due to the cold or what but it was only half the size of the previous ones I’ve attended. Security was present in extreme force with local police, county sheriff, DPS, and some other officers dressed in camo type uniforms heavy laden with ammo, weapons, and vests. They even had a dog they were running by the bikes. Possibly for drugs or firearms? Most of the MC’s that usually attend were still there supporting the annual event. It was still a lot of fun and I met a lot of riders that I really enjoyed talking with. As far as I know there were no accidents or incidents which in itself brings a good ending to the toy run.
Feel free to download any of the pictures if you find one you like!
This post is an extension of the previous and continues with the links for removing, installing, adjusting drive belt tension, and aligning the axle. There is quite a bit of labor involved to this process and a lot of riders may not feel it worthwhile to perform this maintenance task. However, if you want to, these videos will be of considerable help in either making the decision whether to do it yourself and if so, guide you through the process.
How to Make an Axle Alignment Tool For a Motorcycle
How to Adjust Drive Belt Tension and Align the Axle on a Motorcycle
How to Remove and Install the Rear Wheel on a Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe
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It was time for tires! Sadly I have to admit I neglected the fundamental maintenance point of replacing tires on Margaret’s bike. We kind of glanced at them a few times but never really lifted the bike up to get a good look at the rear tire. The front was almost in the red for changing so I suppose for whatever reason I let the back one go. I decided to be honest about my neglect and post about it even though it muddies my face. All is good though, there were no incidents, and we got them changed.
This time we decided to remove the tires and take them to Swifty’s to have them mounted and balanced. In the past I would take the bike in and let them do all of the work but this time I was feeling adventurous. It seemed a good time to make a video of the entire process for both the front and rear tire replacement. This isn’t something everyone will want to do so I kind of held off on making a video of the process. It requires a bit more time, lifting the bike, and leaving it suspended while you take the wheels in to have a new tire mounted and balanced. You won’t save all that much doing it yourself either so it might be something most people will just avoid.
When you consider the time and effort involved to do tires yourself you really have to determine if its worth what your going to save over just taking the bike in and having your local independent motorcycle shop do the work for you. Labor will run you about .5 hours for the front tire removal and installation, rear wheel will run about 1.5 hours, so 2 hours total in labor. Depending on the rate your looking at just over $200 in labor. Mounting and balancing will run another $70 to $100 total for both tires. So call it $300 in the end to avoid having to do what is shown in the picture above. If however you decide on doing it all, I would arguably still take the wheels to your local shop to have them professionally mounted and balanced. There are some videos of “shortcuts” of different methods of mounting and balancing but its my personal opinion they are not good ideas.
Once I removed the wheels we took them to Swifty’s in Fort Worth, TX where we purchased the new tires and had them mounted and balanced. Eric was kind enough to do a video on the pros and cons of self mounting and balancing and even took us into the shop so we could photo and video the proper process. We hope the video will give a better insight into why you should let a shop do this part professionally instead of using some of the mickey mouse techniques I’ve seen online which could lead to issues. Not only did we compile a couple of fantastic information videos, we had a great time at their shop and made a fun video as well. Not only will your local independent motorcycle shop professionally install your tires, they will be more competitively priced than a Harley dealership, and you will be supporting local business.
We also had them adjust the spokes while they had the tires off the wheel. This is called truing and is really an art in itself. The process also requires specialized equipment to do properly. Spoked wheels should be checked every 5k miles and trued every time you need a new tire. It is an extra cost but, that’s what you get if you want to have spokes! We did a video on the pros and cons of trueing a wheel yourself as well. It will be a couple of weeks before I get that one published though so keep a look out for it.
This process provided a lot of video opportunities for us to share with you in regards to motorcycle wheels. I’ll be publishing them over the next month so make sure your subscribed to my You Tube channel and for a small fee I will also be putting them with more detail on my Ride It Wrench It SkillShare channel. For now though here are a couple of videos I have already published. Enjoy!