Back Home in Riviera Beach
The ST1100 and I hit Interstate 10 at 7:30 AM today, headed toward Houston. A beautiful and balmy Texas day, a great day to be riding. Slightly over three hundred miles and I was in Houston. I truly hate riding in Houston, even on a Saturday. The traffic was terrible but I made it through the city safely and quickly. Headed south, I made a stop at El Campo Cycle to take a quick look at a 2009 ST1100 that they have in the show room. But my frugality prevailed and I did not yield to temptation. At about 6:00 PM tonight I arrived home. Only 556 miles today, but I was tired. The entire ride, over some 12 days, was a total of 3406 miles. A great trip! Maybe the rally was not all I had expected but I was able to spend time with several good friends and that is the best part of any adventure. This will be the final entry for this adventure, but there is a great adventure planned for June. I will let you know more later..
Denham Springs, LA

Rain, wind and more rain!   That describes my day until mid afternoon, when I finally rode into better weather just as I crossed into Alabama.  Leaving Ocala in the rain, I rode 625 miles today but it was a challenge.  At least I did not encounter the hail that reportedly was falling in northern Florida. 

I am pushing to get back to South Texas sometime late tomorrow, but that will depend on the weathe and the traffic in Houston.  After a long ride today, I just stopped for the night in Denham Springs, LA.  Although I am only a few miles northwest  of New Orleans, I am not goiing to visit the city during this ride.  Maybe sometime later in the year.

Tonight I am staying in a Best Western, which seems to be nice.  Most often I stay in a Hampton Inn but tonight the Best Western was $60 less costly, so the decision was easy.  Tomorrow I will depart early, by 7:00 AM.  If all goes well I will be home by dark tomorrow.

Riding Right Into A Wild Storm

Off to Pensacola at 7:00 AM, I planned to ride 600 miles.  After only two hours, I was into steady but moderate rain.  By 10:30 AM, the rain was heavy, with wind gusts.  Wrecks on the highway and traffic coming almost to a standstill.  I kept pulling into small towns and stopping for 30 minutes or so and then getting back on the road.

As I reached Ocala, I saw that the lightning was fierce and the side roads were flooding.  I found a hotel and gave up.  Only 250 miles but it was time to stop.  I am safely in a dry and warm hotel.  As is also my luck, within two hours the rain had stopped, the sky had cleared and I was itchng to ride.  But no!  My clothing, boots and gloves are soaked and I am going to wait until tomorrow and try again.  The forecast is for some rain tomorrow, but surely it will not be like today.

Visiting With Friends in Punta Gordo and Naples

Sunday morning was clear and warm.  On the bike early, I was off on a pleasant Sunday morning ride to Punta Gordo to visit friends, Patti and Kenny Peek, Jacob's parents.  Of course I also spent time with Adam and his finacee, Brandy.  Kenny treated all of us to lunch at a great restaurant near the coast and while there, as always, he made a long overdue adjustment to my ST1100.  How about that lunch plus motorcycle repairs!

I ended to spending the night in a hotel nearby and on Monday rode on to Naples to see my friends, John and Teresa Gribbin.  Lunch at their club and then a grand tour of Old Naples.  Dinner later that night in a nice quite restaurant in Naples and an early night to bed.  Tuesday was much of the same and we had a wonderful time catching up with each other.  Wednesday found us on a bus headed to a ball game (spring training) between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.  A rather slow and long game and the Rays won eight to 6.

We made an early night of it and I was up very early prepaing to depart.  By 7:00 AM, the bike and I were on the road headed north, hopefully to Pensacola.

More of Bike Week

Bike Week is definitely a "Spectacle".  But I seem to remember my mother's strong admonition to me and my brother to not make a spectacle of  ourselves.  I have not always followed that strong advice ------------but I certainly have never let it "hang out" like the bikers are this week in Daytona Beach.  The most innovative and beautiful bikes parading throughout the city but most noticable on Main Street.  Riders and  co-riders dressed in leather, tatoos---some just barely dressed.  And the noise, it is overpowering.

Thursday morning I departed Lake Mary in 39 F chill, headed to Jim Walkers Motorcycles in So. Daytona Beach.  Dale, one of the mechanics, had located an Avon tire that would fit my bike.  By 10:00 A.M. it was mounted and I was off to the International Motorcycle Show at Ocean Center.  After fully touring the show, I made my way to Main Street and the 24 hour continous parade of Bikes.  One hour later and I was off to a campground north of the city where the BMWMOA members were gathered.  More Importantly, the Beemer Airhead Group had a gathering, large tent with a burning fireplace.  Finally, I was back with folks that I both understood and appreciated.  I spent the rest of Thursday with people who, like me love BMWs  and long distance adventure riding.

Friday morning, I was off to attend the Motorcycle Auction in Deland.  I ended up spending several hours at the  Auction (great parts, tools and vintage bikes).  Later in the day I went to a huge "swap meet" at the Flea Market in Daytona Beach.

By the end of the day, I felt overdosed on Bike Week and ended up spending the the day with an old and close friend, MCPO Bill Ray Humphrey., Ret.   Billy and I go back some 36 years and it was great to be with this interesting and delightful old submariner.  We are both well past our prime, but you would not know it by the stories we tell each other.

Early evening and I am in a nice hotel in Kissimmee.  Tomorrow, I am heading south toward Naples with a stop to see other friends near Punta Gorda.  And the weather.  it is getting a bit warmer.  I will be back riding for much of the day, which is my first interest.

Daytona Bike Week Arrival
A balmy cool March day welcomed me to Daytona Beach.   Plus over 100,000 Harleys, all with loud pipes.  The number of bikes here is surpassed only by the number of vendors selling Harley regalia (leather goods, tatoos, chrome and all of the other essential wares required if one is really a full fledged "biker"). 

Upon my arrival in Daytona Beach at 1:10 P.M., I set out looking for a tire for my ST1100.  My desire was a Bridgestone in the correct size--160/70-17.  After stopping at every motorcycle shop I could find, I decided that the shops would not have one and I went to the Speedway where the bike and tire vendors were set up.  Once again no one had a tire in the right size and very few even had Bridgestone tires.  Suddenly I spotted a large trailer and tent--"The Bridgestone factory exhibit".  Fighting my way through terrible traffic, I finally arrived at the Bridgestone Exhibit.  No, they did not have one my size.  In fact they seemed surprised that I was even riding a ST1100.   Odd, but I have not seen another one since------I am not sure when, maybe since I was last in San Antonio.

I gave up at about  6:00 PM and rode in the cool evening traffic the 40 or so miles to my hotel in Lake Mary,  Fl.  A nourishing dinner at the local Krystal and I will be in bed early.  Tomorrow I will head back to Daytona Beach once again in search of a new rear tire.  Here in  the Sunshine State, the  forcast calls for morning temperature of 40 F.  I am going to have to go back to Texas just to get warm.
Tallahassee--Can This Be Florida?

Only 533 miles today in temperatures ranging from 39 F to a high of 46 F.  The warmest temperature today was when I arrived tonight in Tallahassee to the tropical temperature of 46 degrees.  Now I know why so many riders are trailering their bikes to Daytona.

Leaving Jennings, La this morning (in a light cold rain),  I enjoyed the bayous, rivers, swamps and the beauty of Louisiana.  Shortly after lunch, I arrived in Mississippi and quickly crossed both Mississippi and Alabama with the temperatures dropping steadily.  Finally arriving in Florida, I came upon Escambia Bay and suddenly the wind picked up, blowing in gusts of about 40 MPH. Soon I was on the long bridge crossing Escambia Bay and the bike jerked and leaned sharply in the cold wind.  Twice the rear end actually slid.  I desperately need to replace the now slick rear Bridgestone. 

Finally arriving in Tallahassee right at dark, I have a warm and nice room, and at a cost of only $40.  The forecast for ;morning is 39 F and cloudy, but at least no rain.  I should reach Daytona Beach by early afternoon.  I am on a mission.......one new rear tire.

Jennings, LA
Cool and damp?  No, actually I am cold and wet.  The temperature is 49 F, which only seems cold when I am riding at night in a steady soft rain. 

Only 470 miles from Riviera to Jennings, but it took me almost twelve hours.  I had a minor mechanical problem near El Campo, TX and I happen to know that EL Campo Cycle (Honda and Suzuki) is a world class facility.  So, I stopped in to see the great folks there and they immediately went to work on the Honda.  Nothing big, only the header on the exhaust had come loose but it took a while for the dealer to find the right sized nuts to reattach the header.  Plus, the ST1100 is a fully clad bike so they had to pull off the plastic panels and one whole side of the fairing.  In any event, they got the problem fixed and at a very low cost.  I asked them to mount me a new rear tire but they did not have a Bridgestone to fit the ST1100.  Looks like I will have to limp my way on into Daytona Beach and get a tire at the Rally.  I hate slick tires on a motorcycle, particularly when I am riding in the cold and rain.

I have seen only a couple of other bikes on the road today.  Probably the weather kept them at home..  And Bike Week is primarily a Harley event so most of the Harley owners either truck or trailer their bikes ...........actually that does not sound bad tonight.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be colder and will be raining as I get on down the road.  And I do this for pleasure?
Bike Week in Daytona Beach
Early Monday I will depart on a short and tame adventure headed to Bike Week in Daytona Beach!  Each year, America's largest gathering of motorcyclists occurs in and around Daytona Beach, always in late February and early March.  Motorcycle shows, bike races, the International Motorcycle Show and any number of marque rallies, hundreds of vendors  and over 100,000 riders all celebrating the beginning of the years riding season.  Over the past many years I have considering attending but ultimately decided that it was just not my "cup of tea".  It probably still isn't but I have to see it--just once.

The Goose and I returned from the Arctic Ocean last July and I have not been on a significant adventure since.  This ride hardly qualifies as an adventure, only about 3000 miles from my departure until my return in a couple of weeks.  On my 2002 ST1100 I will ride east through East Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and then into Florida.  The forecast is for cold morning temperatures with rain.  Perfect riding conditions.  Finally, arriving in Florida on Wednesday I will find sunshine and warmer temperatures. 

Bike Week is crammed full of interesting events.  The Cycle World International Motorcycle Show will be in Daytona Beach during the week and I can easily spend a day or two savoring the industries offerings for the coming year.  Also each year during Bike Week, the J. Wood&Company bike auction  is held in Deland, Florida at the athletic center of Stetson University. This years auction will be held March 6 and I expect to attend.

Later in the week, I will head 259 miles to the southwest towards Naples!   Close friends, good food and a warm and luxurious room beckons.  Once again visiting John and Teresa Gribbin who only one year ago were the first to welcome me on my return from South America.  John has tickets for us to attend a minor league ball game or two while I am there and I am sure we will visit some fine restaurants.

By midweek I will depart for the Texas Riviera expecting to be home before March 14.  A short and very cool ride, but at least it will help condition me for my next adventure beginning in late June.