SiKing

February 26, 2012

Loop around Area51

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 10:00 pm
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CeeJ and I have been mulling around riding the Extraterrestrial Highway for a while. This weekend we made it happen.

Day 1

The plan was to start early afternoon (after CutiePie’s swim practice). Unfortunately, CJ’s Shadow made it as far as the end of his street before it took a dump and would not start again. He had to push it back up to his house and change bikes, obviously moving everything he packed the nigh before from one bike to a backpack. We left Vegas probably around 3 in the afternoon.

The ride up the 95 went by pretty uneventful. CutiePie took some pictures from the back – of her gloves, her pants, the asphalt – and filled up the camera memory. Mental note: the camera memory is not a good backup storage. 😕 CJ reported that CutiePie was occasionally practising her synchro moves on the back of the bike – too bad we don’t have any video of that. Beatty was the first gas stop, next to The candy store of course. 🙂

Onwards through Goldfield up to Tonopah. Both of these are quickly becoming ghost towns, leftovers from the gold-rush days. I was actually very pleasantly surprised how well maintained the town centre of both towns was.

Day 2

I woke up the next day around 8 (we did say no rush, right!), with both CJ and CutiePie both staring at me like: can we go yet? After the continental breakfast (mmmmm bacon! :razz:) we took a short walk around Tonopah. One, we wanted to gauge the morning temperature, and two, we wanted to see the town in daylight. If you are going to stay, I recommend the Mizpah hotel – it still has the old charm to it. We did not get a room there (no vacancy), but did have our dinner there. Eventually opted for for the winter riding pants, since I brought them along, but not the extra sweat shirt.

We got on the road probably just before 11. By this time I was sweating like a pig! About 40 miles out of town, I decided to pull over on the side of the road to zip up all the vents on my jacket and pants. The temps were getting below freezing, before the wind chill factor! A state trooper just happen to drive by, and pulled over to ask us if we were OK. On a whim I asked him if we are heading the right way towards the 375. He told us that we are headed exactly the opposite direction! We need to go back through Tonopah, and take the 6 towards Ely. The freaky thing is that about 5 miles back we passed a rest stop, where I was originally thinking of stopping to zip up, and where the trooper would have never seen us. By the time we were back in Tonopah, I had to gas up again, especially considering the next gas after that was going to be in Alamo – about 160 miles away; my bike has a range of 150 miles, riding 1up, down hill, with a good strong back wind. And off we were again, this time in the right direction.

The first stop we made was at the turnoff to the Tonopah Test Range airport – apparently this is where all the testing for the Stealth fighter was done. Half-way to Ely is the turnoff to the 375 – the Extraterrestrial Highway. As soon as we turned onto the highway, I remember seeing very tall mountains on the horizon, completely covered in white, and thinking that sure I sure hope that is not where we are going. 😮 The mountains stayed to the horizon all the way. 🙂 CutiePie kept up with her synchro workout on the back of the bike, and was freaking out the local Air Force as well as the UFOs: “What’s with the crazy air traffic controller chick?!?!” 😀

About half-way down the 375, in Rachel, NV, you actually come to the a sign that declares this to be the Extraterrestrial Highway, right before the Little A’Le’Inn – most people pronounce it little alien inn. As CJ said: you cannot pass up the opportunity to have lunch at a dive in the middle of nowhere! 🙂 This is where you can also find maps and photographs of the super-secret-illegal-to-photograph Area 51! The Eastern end of the highway even has some neat twisties – overall a really fun ride!

Last stop was the Alamo, NV. Brings back memories of bygone days, when I got almost abandoned by Bonnie and almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer! This time I heeded the “No gas for next 75 miles” sign, a filled up.

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To find Groom Dry Lake on the map, where the actual Area 51 is located, is left as an exercise for the reader.

May 1, 2011

Rt89A in Arizona

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 8:00 pm

I had been neglecting my blog for a while – it is not for lack of riding, I blame entropy. 😛

This past weekend some friends and I hit up route 89A in Arizona.

I hooked up with my friends in Phoenix, and Saturday morning we took off towards Wickenburg. If you get a chance – we didn’t – I highly recommend stopping by the Hog Trough Smokehouse BBQ for some great food. Just outside of Wickenburg you pick up highway 89 towards Congress. There is nothing much of interest en route until you get into the mountains climbing up to Prescott. This is a beautiful ride: twisty, very well-built, and wide roads, which allow you to often check the eye-catching scenery.

Prescott is a pretty town worth stopping at and stretching your legs in the picturesque downtown. But don’t waste too much time there.

After our break, we continued climbing the twisties. Jerome is a place worth stopping and spending some serious time in. The town reminded me of some seaside European village, with small brick buildings propped up on the steep hillside, and people and cars navigating the precariously narrow streets – minus the sea of course. Make sure you have reservations well in advance! We had a Haunted Burger, and walked through the town long enough to find out that there are no rooms available for that night.

Onward through the twisties, this time downhill, towards Sedona. That’s where we met the pirate!

pirate

There be pirates in them thar' hills, arrrgggg!

Sedonais another place that I would have like to spend a little more time than just one night. It has all the typical red-rock desert mountains, right in the middle of the town, licensed ATV running down the streets, plenty of tourists, and the whole place shuts down by 10pm to get some decent sleep to start another great day the next morning.

breakfast

A little piece of home?

March 13, 2011

Stop at Nothing

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 8:00 pm

Nothing, AZ

I got a purdy new bike, in Arizona, and on the way back we stopped at Nothing. 😀 It’s in the middle of the desert, and there is actually nothing for miles around.

With my luck, the next day the bike died. 😦 It was only the primary wire from the battery that rubbed through and shorted against the body, so no biggie, but still a bummer.

The guy who sold me the bike really loved it; he almost cried when I was taking her away. He forwarded me some sites that I do not want to lose:

January 15, 2011

Death Valley trip

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 8:00 pm

What an absolutely fantastic weekend for riding! I did not have my GPS, but Google thinks the whole route was 370 miles.

We started with 9 riders and 8 bikes, and headed to Shoshone for breakfast – good food, lousy gas prices. We were joined by 3 more riders and two more bikes there. After breakfast half of our initial group headed back via Pahrump … stressing out about long rides, wind, light, dark, heat, cold, noise, coffee, sugar, and soon to be missing license plates.

First stop for the adventurers was Badwater.

parking

everyone finally relaxes

me

some dork at Badwater with a very cool looking scarf

sea level

that sign stuck up on the mountain says: "Sea Level"

Next was Dante’s View. The ice patches on the ride up freaked out those of us who were on hiatus for the past four months, but we all made it in one piece and the view from the top was awesome.

looking down

this is looking down towards Badwater - essentially the spot where the above picture was taken

Next was Furnace Creek. Those who are not storing as much reserves 😛 had to do lunch here. Last stop was Beatty for candy, and back home by 8 or so.

Additional report and pictures.

November 6, 2010

Oatman the long way

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 9:14 pm

Another awesome ride! :mrgreen:

Google’s approximation:


My GPS says we did 336.5mi, in 6:23 hours, at 53mph. I loved the meandering route 66 around Oatman – points D to F on the map.

As I mentioned at some point in the past, I am not much of a photographer, but here are some snaps that I took:


Downtown Oatman – route 66.

I like the sign with the background.

The end of the windy road out of Oatman.

I think this is the only time that we all parked as a proper biker gang! 🙂

We took a little detour north on the way home.

Some more pics (and discussion) can be found here.

October 24, 2010

Frank Thomas gear mini-review

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 3:57 pm

Even before my bike arrived I wanted some rain/winter gear. One of the local shops carries Frank Thomas – I like being different from everyone else. :mrgreen: Since I was buying all this stuff in the summer, I got a very good deal on the winter stuff. Recently we got some good rains in Vegas, and so only now did I get a chance to try all the gear out.

Professional review:

My review:

The jacket is the FT XTi nylon waterproof. It does exactly what it says on the box: cozy warm (I had it at 70mph in 60°F without the inner lining), completely dry even in a serious downpour. Elbow, shoulder, and back guards. The inner lining has full sleeves, not just a vest. It does have vents in front (right above the nipples 😮 ), back, and on the sleeves, but if you take it out even in mild summer you will cook in it! About the only complaint that I have, is if you close the sleeve vents and do not tighten up the sleeves against your wrist enough, the air rushing in will balloon up the jacket – very minor complaint, and an easy workaround (gloves – more below). If you’re a pockets freak and like to carry a lot of crap on you, you will be disappointed by this jacket: two regular jacket pockets, one breast pocket inside, and one pocket also inside for a phone.

Ft jacket

the jacket

The pants are the Aqua Ride trousers. They are surprisingly comfy! Guards only on the knees. If you have a nylon seat, your ass will slide all over the place – I got rubber and no problems; I would suspect that leather would also have no problems. Breathing vents only on the front, so your lower body is completely sealed once you zip and velcro everything up. The inner lining is just shorts, however, most of the time I wear them with jeans underneath, so that I can take the pants off when the temperature picks up. Couple more complaints with these, but all very minor. When I was trying these on in the store, I actually first tried the 2010 model and first thing I noticed that they have a snap at the waist, which was already broken off. The older model does not have the snap, only a velcro “belt”, which I thought is a much better solution. There is a little rubber grabber, but after only three uses, that ripper off. The bottom of the legs does not shut tight, so if you are riding through the rain, you will get water up the pants! That is, unless you install some after market parts – couple of rubber bands will do. Only two front pockets.

FT pants

the pants

FT snap

broken belt strap

The pants and jacket also zip together. There are actually two zippers, and you have to be at least half-way dexterous to be able to zip up both of them. You must do the outside smaller zipper first, and then pass the inside longer zipper around your back. I did try to zip them together before putting them on, but getting into it that way I suspect would eventually rip the zippers out.

FT zippers

zippers

FT mismatched zippers

mismatched zippers

I continued with the FT theme when looking for gloves – actually I continued with the deep discounts theme, but whatever.

The summer gloves have only guards across the top knuckles. Lots of breathing space. You cannot close them tight, but they will not come off easily. The velcro strap comes apart after some use (they got some fancy wire mesh built into it), which I corrected with some crazy glue.

 

FT summer gloves

summer gloves

The winter gloves have the same protection – guards only across the top of the hands. Very warm. The gauntlets also nicely solve the problem of air rushing inside your jacket sleeves. Weird thing: the summer gloves size large fit perfectly, the winter I had to get X-large to allow circulation to flow into my hands.

 

FT winter gloves

winter gloves

Bottom line: I am quite happy with FT line of gear, especially at 50%+ discounts. 😀

September 6, 2010

Carlsbad run

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 9:00 pm

Finally did a serious ride! 😎 Las Vegas -> Carlsbad, NM and back in three days.

According to my GPS, we covered 1792.8 miles in 30:05 hours of pure ride time averaging 60 mph.

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day 1 – Friday

Due to the long weekend, they kicked our buts out of work at noon, so we were on the road at 1pm instead of the planned 4pm! The target for the day was Flagstaff, AZ, but due to the extra time we pushed all the way to Holbrook, AZ (marker B on the map above).

I took a couple of pictures like this, at 70mph:
faceface
but when I showed them to Bonnie, she said that if I wreck and she finds any more of these on my phone she will not even call for help. 😀

day 2 – Saturday

What we made up the first day in riding, we lost the second day sleeping in. We continued down the I-40 (the top route on the map). The target for this day was Roswell, NM, but we arrived at 5:10pm – ten minutes after closing – so we pushed all the way to Carlsbad, NM (marker C) and decided to do all the site seeing on Sunday.

Saw lots of trains on the way too. I think I want to be a trainchaser someday – although that can (should?) wait until I hit senility. Got too many plans that I will still need my wits about me for. 🙂

Had my first decent meal that night: ½ order of ribs and Sam Adams.

day 3 – Sunday

Started with a 2-hour tour of the Carlsbad caves. Both my photography skills and my phone-camera suck, so all the pictures from the caves turned out like crap. However, it is something you must see first hand anyway; pictures just cannot do this place justice!

After that we rode back to Roswell (marker D) and did the obligatory UFO and all things conspiracy museum.

One thing that I definitely wanted to see on this trip was the Very Large Array (marker E). This was pretty late in the day, and we were riding straight into the sunset. Combined with the amount of bugs that I had splattered all over my windshield, I completely missed the turnoff! We stopped just as the sun set beyond the horizon – closing time. I was thrilled anyway just to see it even at a distance, and by this time tired beyond caring about not being able to walk up and touch it.

We made our target – the Arizona border (marker F) – just before 10pm. It was the only time that I got to use my riding jacket for what it was actually intended for: riding and protection from the elements.

day 4 – Monday

The target for this day was to just get back home in one piece. In Kingman, we (and by “we” I mean Bonnie :razz:, because I was just too tired to care at this point) decided to avoid all the tourists, so we cut over to I-15 via Searchlight (marker G) and Nipton (marker H). Bonnie did not tell me that we would be going to another state on the way home! 😯

Maybe just one more:
faces

things I learned

  • drink the sports drink before you hit the road, not after you are dehydrated – you’ll never catch up at that point
  • if you’re going on the Arizona highways, make sure you first practice high-speed tight slalom; just trust me on this one 😆
  • find several comfortable positions on the bike; any single one will become excruciatingly uncomfortable within a few hours
  • Bonnie is the coolest biker babe ever! Thank You for taking me on this trip Bonnie.

August 23, 2010

Shoshone “breakfast” run

Filed under: places,rides — SiKing @ 10:49 pm

Went for breakfast to Shoshone on Saturday.

On the way, right after the turnoff to route 160, we saw a turtle in the middle of the road:
turtle on the road

Bonnie stopped, I flew right past her; not only does she have a faster bike, but she can stop faster that I can too. I turned around, came back, and I knew exactly what it was about: let’s go save the turtle Bonnie. 🙂

Had breakfast in Shoshone, bought a lottery ticket – you have to leave Nevada to get that (did not win anything) – and rode back through Pahrump.

Nice little ride.

August 19, 2010

Scorpion EXO-100 mini-review

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 8:48 pm

I got into a new hobby recently: motorcycle riding. Actually, it is more than just a hobby, it’s a whole lifestyle. 😎

One of the first things that I needed was a helmet. After some advice and a little browsing around I ended up with the Scorpion EXO-100, Tribal black. The helmet looks great! It has a removable earskirt – earmuffs? – and a flip down visor that retracts into the helmet itself. My initial reasoning was that in Vegas temperatures often get over 100°F so I don’t wanna cook my melon, and in the city there generally isn’t that many rocks flying around.

Even thought the manufacturer recommends the XL for me, I eventually had to trade my helmet in for a XXL – the biggest size they got – to fit my planetoid.

Well, it has been close to two months, and I had already taken a highway trip with this helmet. At first I was worried about the wind noise. At speeds of 50mph with the earmuffs removed, the noise is quite significant. For the highway trip I put the earmuffs on, which significantly cut down on the wind noise. The earmuffs also have a built-in area where you can insert your own speakers that can be connected to your mp3 player or whatever; mine aren’t that good, and the sound quality sucked. This I found to be too distracting, but that is a personal thing and has nothing to do with the helmet’s design.

On my bike I have a wind shield, and so over the weekend trip I only took two small bugs in the forehead and no rocks.

Bottom line is: with the earmuffs attached the remaining wind noise is more bearable than cooking my head inside of a full-face helmet, at least to me. Perhaps I will change my mind after I go through the first decent rainstorm, but I hope the visor will take care of that too.

❗ There is one complaint that I did have: the helmet has a design flaw.

The inner lining is made from several parts. There is one strip that goes around your head, and another that goes over the top.helmet lining

The part where the sewn seam meets the helmet protective lining has no place to compress or hide. So right above your ears there are two pressure points that hurt like a bitch! I simply took the back-end of a ballpoint pen and made a dent in the foam lining of the helmet. Voila, problem solved!dent for the lining

August 15, 2010

Caliente run

Filed under: places,rides — SiKing @ 11:25 am

I am backporting this post, as I wanna keep track of all the rides I did.

Went up to Utah this weekend to a friend’s family reunion. Met some nice people saw some wonderful country! There was a property for sale: something like 320 acres, comes with a herd of cows and wild horses, for $65k! 😯

The part from Enterprise to Caliente (points D to E) is an awesome ride – I had to consciously remind myself to keep my eyes on the road, and off all the beautiful scenery. I’ll take some pictures next time; I’m just not a camera-kinda guy. 🙄

Had one scary moment: just before getting off 93 back onto 15, I did like 20 miles on just gas fumes, through the desert. Kept looking around me the whole time at the endless desert thinking: I could die here! Also found out that my bike tops out just a little over 90 mph – which agrees with some of the reviews that I found on the Internet.

July 18, 2010

3 states in a weekend

Filed under: places,rides — SiKing @ 7:16 pm

Managed about 300 miles (480km) in 100°F (38°C) temperatures this weekend, and loved every minute of it!

Day 1

Arizona
Nevada

From Las Vegas, over to the Hoover Dam, to the Willow Beach and back. Yea, that second state does not really count. 😛 Rode 130 miles this day, half of it on the highway.

Day 2

California

Went to Sandy Valley (could this be my next cave?), to the Red Rock, and back home. Rode 160 miles this day, even did a stretch at 90mph.

July 15, 2010

It’s finally here!

Filed under: rides,vegas — SiKing @ 6:36 pm

The new bike finally arrived!

bike in Vegas

Actually, it has been here for a little over a week, but I only now got around to getting the obligatory picture. 😎

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