Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Land of Enchantment Rally 2010

About three months ago, I asked Shelley (my wife) if she would be interested in going to New Mexico for a long distance rally. She was enthusiastic about New Mexico, less enthusiastic about the long distance. However, we signed up as a two-up couple, knowing that we were going to have fun and finishing was a secondary concern. We had just bought our Victory Vision back in April and have enjoyed riding it every since. We had ridden about 500 miles together maximum before this rally, so Shelley was nervous about the distance. She actually asked to withdraw as the passenger; but thanks to David Porter and his words of encouragement, she changed her mind and stayed in the rally. We talked about it and we said that we weren't in it for the competition. We just wanted to ride around, see some of New Mexico, and have fun. That outlook would change quickly.

When we got to the Western Skies hotel in Los Lunas, we met some great people. All of the rally volunteers were super friendly, especially Voni, and put us at ease about the ride. During the technical inspection, I put the Vision over on the tip over protectors so Steve could do a proper inspection of the tires. I think he and the other guys were pretty impressed with that. We were riding the only Victory in the field. Several guys came up and asked me questions about it. I showed off the tip over protection, the power windshield, and some of the other features. In the mass of BMW's and Gold Wings, the Vision really stood out.

It was cool to see some other non-comformists. There was one Moto-Guzzi, a Triumph Trophy, a Harley Electro-Glide, and a Vulcan 500. Two guys were on crotch rockets--a Hayabusa and a Honda CBR. I just couldn't see them riding 1000 miles on a sport bike, but they both finished. Hats off to those guys.

We milled around, talked to some of the other riders. I bumped into my personal hero, Jim Owen. He won the 2009 Iron Butt rally by riding over 12,000 miles in 11 days. Amazing. Shelley found her hero. I think she was surprised to find a few women riders in the rally. She met Wendy from California, who rides her own Yamaha FJR1000. There were several other solo women riders, one on a Harley Street Glide. Shelley made the comment that if these girls can make 1000 miles on their own bike, she would really feel like a wuss if she didn't finish by just riding on the back. Hmmm, I'm starting to see a little competitiveness coming out here.

At the riders' meeting, Ira stressed the importance of a safe ride. Shelley and I had already had a talk about this, that we were here to have fun and make it back safely. He said that there was a Hayabusa registered for the rally, and (not directed exclusively to the Hayabusa rider) anyone who was cited for excessive speed would be disqualified and banned from further rallies. There was no doubt that they were serious about the safety of the rally riders.

Ira then covered the point scheme, which was something totally different. Bonuses were going to have positive and negative numbers and the rider that rode at least 1000 miles, scored 9 bonuses--not 8, not 10, but 9 bonuses (this is how Ira put it)--and was closest to zero would be the winner. So this wasn't the normal get-all-the-bonuses-you-can rally. This was going to be a puzzle. Right before the meeting was adjourned, Shelley leaned over to me and said,"Don't talk to anybody, don't do anything, do not stop until we get to the room. We've got some planning to do." I looked over at what used to be my sweet little wife that said that we aren't competing, we are just here to have fun and see New Mexico. Instead, this woman that looked very similar to my wife, but with a fire in her eyes, a determined look, and a steady glare that said,"Just do what I tell you to and you won't get hurt." The meeting adjourned, we made a bee-line for the room, and started planning.

What a mess. We unfolded the paper map, started color coding and writing down bonus points. The positives were in the north part of the state and the negatives were in the south, or somewhat like that. I don't know what form of MIT calculus that these rally masters used to formulate the bonus totals, but it was really difficult. We had to balance out the negatives and positives to get close to zero. The first route had us down to 444 points, but it required between 18 and 20 hours of riding time. We planned to take at least a two hour rest bonus, plus stopping for bonuses and fuel would make this absolutely impossible. Finally after about 3 hours, we came up with a route that got us into the low 10,000's (some of the bonuses were in the high 100,000's). This would be conservative, but let us finish--IF we got all the bonuses. We went to bed to get about 6 hours of sleep. No worries.

The next morning we get out front and line up to get ready for leaving. Dave Hall comes over and does our pre-departure odometer check. We spend about 30 minutes checking the bike, checking our equipment, and warming up the bike. We turn on the Scala Riders, and get on the bike, and get ready to go. We're both excited and a little anxious. The guy who's lined up next to me is riding a Vulcan 500 with an external fuel tank. I bet he stopped for gas like once or twice.

As we head out, we get out on 25 and turn north. Our first bonus is to get a least 4 hot air balloons in a picture with our rally flag. We see some off in the distance. Shelley has a great camera, so we pull off the road. I hold up my rally flag so she can get a couple of shots. As we're standing there, several other riders get the same idea. When we get going again, she looks on the camera and says that she can't see them all that well. As we turn east on 40, I pull over again to get a couple more shots, just in case.

We head up to Sandia Peak to get the shot of Albuquerque from the top of the mountain. We had originally x'ed this bonus out because it said to walk up to the peak. We weren't sure how much walking was involved and was sure it would be a sucker bonus. But it was close by, so we went for it. The ride up there was awesome. Twisty roads and switchbacks, it was a great ride. With Shelley onboard, I had to let a few guys pass me, but no worries. The Vision handled great, even two up. I put some more air in the rear suspension before we started. That really helped out a lot. We make it to the top, the walk up to the peak is not far. We get off the bike, I take the camera and head up to the peak with several other riders. One was Nick Bull (riding with his wife Jeanette) who passed me heading up. I see him get off the bike as we're pulling up. As I'm walking up, he's already running back down to his bike. Man, that guy's fast.

So apparently the theory of us just having fun, we're not competing, blah blah blah, has fallen by the way side. As I get up to the top, my wife is babbling in my ear through the Scala rider, asking me what I'm doing, I need to hurry up, etc. I'm trying to lay my flag on a tree in the wind, and getting frustrated. A nice older gentleman asks me if I want him to take my picture holding the flag, and I say yes, please, and give him the camera. Shelley is still rambling in my ear, telling me all kinds of things that she will do to me if I don't hurry up, so I say, "Just hold your damn horses". The man with my camera says,"Hey, are you talking to me?", and I say, "NO! No, sorry, my wife is babbling in my ear." I really didn't feel like getting my butt kicked that early in the morning, especially by an elderly gentleman, especially in front of the other LD riders there. But he said, no problem, took my picture, then off we went. The ride back down was great as well.

Shelley has a great warning system about letting me know when she is scared. It starts with a knee squeeze, then progresses to fingers in the ribs, then finger nails with a hard knee squeeze. I haven't gotten any further than that but I don't want to know what the next step is. She's a massage therapist, so she has the hand and finger strength of a gorilla. I don't think I'll push it any further. But she did lighten up as we got into a rhythm going back down the mountain.

Our next bonus was the Penitentiary of New Mexico, where the latest Longest Yard was filmed. We got behind James (fellow non-conformist) on his Moto-Guzzi heading toward Madrid, so we rode with him to the penitentiary. We stopped there, got the picture, I found a small corner and watered the plants. It's good to be a guy.

We got back out to 25 and headed down to 40 west for Grants. This bonus was the ranger station at the El Malpais national monument. The directions said to go down NM 89 about 24.3 miles, take a picture of the sign in front of the ranger station. We went down about 9 miles and found the station, so we weren't sure if this was right. The visitor's center was about 25 miles down NM 81. I called Ira and asked him about it, and he said that if it is a picture of what is listed on the bonus sheet, then it is good. So we took the picture and hoped for the best.

We went further west on 40 and got the bonus at Red Rock State Park. The bonus pack said take a picture of the visitor's center. The only building there was the Convention Center and the Museum Office. We took several pictures of that, then ate our quick lunch.

We then went south to Quemado. The bonus here was just a question--what is the mascot of Quemado high school? This was obvious, there was a pole with an eagle on top of it and a sign saying home of the eagles. Or was it that obvious? I was just sure there was some sort of trick here, so we stopped for gas and asked some of the locals. They verified that the high school was there and their mascot was the eagles. Cool.

Shelley got some great shots of the New Mexico landscape as we were riding.

We cut back east toward Socorro and to pick up the VLA (Very Large Array--what an unoriginal name) bonus. This was our "extra" bonus in case we couldn't find one of the planned bonuses. We were glad that we picked this one up. We hit a thunderstorm so I had to pull over and put on some rain pants. Shelley's gear was waterproof, so she lucked out.

We headed back to Los Lunas for the rest bonus. By the time we get back to the hotel, It's about 6 pm and we have about 600 miles so far. We wanted to do the majority of the riding and bonus finding in the day time. So far, so good. The rest bonus could be scored as a large positive, large negative, small positive, or small negative and you had to tell the rally volunteer right then which one you wanted. We took the small positive, went and rested until about 8 pm.

Our night plan was to go to the ICE station Otto just north of Moriarty, then to Fort Sumner for Billy the Kid's grave, and back to Los Lunas. As we turn east on I-40, the roads start looking wet and what looks like snow is on the side of the road. Apparently, we had missed a major hail storm. The hail had accumulated on the sides of the road, making it look like we were riding in snow. Shelley was freaking out from this and all the big trucks we had to pass, but there wasn't anything to do except ride on. I just shut off my Scala rider so I could concentrate. We made it through with no problems. The Vision rode and handled great, even on the slick, wet pavement. No worries.

We get to Moriarty, ride about 6 miles per the bonus listing, and look for something with antennae and a sign. We are expecting some fancy looking building with lights. Nothing. Pitch black except for our lights and some on the horizon. So between cars, I weave back and forth, shining my light into the fields on either side of the road. Still nothing. Shelley uses her GPS (mine is mounted to my handle bar, hers is velcroed to my back) and finds an OTTO training station about 2 miles down this dirt rode. So we take off. Bad idea.

This road is a serious washboard. The Vision takes the bumps pretty well. Shelley even says the vibration makes her back feel better. Now I'm REALLY glad I put more air in the suspension. The washboard is not so bad, but then it turns into mud. We start slipping and sliding, but power through it until I can get turned around. On the way back, the rear tire fish tails, and I almost lose it, but recover and make it back to the main road. I'm frustrated and tense so we take a rest and drink some water. We see another rider on a BMW ride by slowly, looking for the same thing. We silently wished him luck, then rode on, leaving that bonus behind. Later, we found that guy and he said that he found that bonus about 100 yards from where we were. It was a small shack with some freaky looking antennae and an old wooden sign. Figures.

As we rode east on 40, we were both thinking about our point totals. The extra bonus that we picked up was a huge negative. If we went to Fort Sumner, Billy the Kid's grave was also a huge negative. We stopped in Santa Rosa for gas and pulled out the rally book. The Route 66 monument in Tucumcari was a large positive and was only 5o miles up the road. We could grab that bonus, divert south from Moriarty, and pick up the miles we needed to get our 1000. There is also a bonus on the way that we might can pick up as well. We decide to go that route. We rode further east, got the Route 66 memorial and headed back to Moriarty to head south. I think Shelley dozed a couple of times.

We turned off of I-40 and headed south from Moriarty. I could have taken a nap, that road was so straight. It eventually turned foggy, then we started seeing patches of hail again on the road. We slow way down, but we hit a huge water puddle at about 30 mph. Again, the Vision stays straight and true as I roll on the throttle and power through it. I'm scared that Shelley got drenched, but she tells me that she's ok, she didn't hardly get wet at all. Whew!

We get to Mountainair, find the Salinas Pueblo National Monument and take a picture.
Then we read it some more and see that the real bonus is 25 miles south on a small road. It's about 4:30 at this time. We have all of our bonuses we need to finish, we'll have our 1000 miles and we are both tired. The competitive fire has drained from Shelley and we decide to head back to Los Lunas. We get back to the hotel about 6 am and check in. When we get to the scoring table, we got all of our bonuses and 1051 miles, per our odometer.

The route on the left is our day route, and the one of the right the route we ended up taking at night.

Our final score was 11555 points, which got us to 34th place out of 54 riders, 9 of whom were DNF. The banquet was held at the Luna Mansion and was very nice with good food. We sat with Bill Norris and his wife. Bill rode the 500 Vulcan with the extra gas tank. Hats off to him. The final scores were very tight, much tighter than I would have thought. The winner was Jim Owen (no surprise) with 58 points. He rode almost 1200 miles and picked up 15 bonuses. Amazing job. The second place prize went to 2 two-up couples on Gold Wings. Out of 5 two-up couples, we were 4th.

Here's the link to the standings:
Here's the link to the LOE Rally site:

The Vision is a great bike to ride on, gave us no problems whatsoever. Both of us were comfortable the entire trip, at least as far as seat comfort. The wind deflectors kept my legs nice and warm from the engine heat. The heated seats worked great for both of us. The electric wind screen was nice; I could adjust it higher for the interstate, lower for the back roads. The floor boards gave me an infinite number of foot positions, which helped on those long intervals on the interstate. I can't say enough about the performance of this bike and our comfort on it.

I came away feeling like we did great for our first rally. I was delightfully surprised at how well Shelley did and even more surprised that she has caught LD rally fever. We are looking ahead to other rallies and hopefully being able to make it back for the LOE rally next year. What a great experience. Thanks to all the folks who gave us tips and tricks.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tail of the Dragon, et al

So my long time friend and riding buddy Matt approaches my fiance while I'm at work and asks her, " I know you'll be getting married in a couple of weeks, but I'd really like to borrow Chris for a weekend." My wonderful fiance (now my wife) was very gracious to let me take a motorcycle trip with Matt and his friend for the weekend, even though it was the week after we got married. She was very supportive, and I really appreciate that.

On Thursday night, we got our bikes together and were doing some last minute alterations to Adam's bike. He rides a '78 Gold Wing. He took the letters off the tank and put DOOMONU, which is Vietnamese for "go screw yourself", with another word in place of "screw". Matt's brother is there helping out (actually doing most of the work). We try to install a horn in my bike, but just no go. No worries. We get the GPS wired up, which is the main thing. Matt rides a Kawasaki Vulcan. His pipes make me miss my old Jackpot a little bit.

The next morning we start out a little after 7 am, stop for gas, then onto the interstate. I have my Saddleman backrest bag, so I'm set. Cruise control, tunes on the radio, nice cool morning, nothin' but awesome. We stop for breakfast in a little town somewhere northeast of Little Rock at a McDonald's. We're not in a hurry, we take our time. Both Matt and Adam have to take a crap. I guess McDonald's runs right through them. My body is used to junk food, so no worries with me.

After breakfast, another fuel stop, then on again. We have to stop about every 110 to 120 miles for Adam to refuel. This a good interval for a butt break. We have great weather all the way to Memphis. We run into some traffic in Memphis, but this is expected. I follow the GPS and we get through it with no problem. As we pass through Tennessee, the scenery is great. I love the hills of Tennessee. Even the interstate is good riding.

We pull up for gas at a place past Nashville and look at the GPS. We know there is a rock slide on 129, which is the Tail, so we have to maneuver around that. A friendly lady tells us that there is a rock slide on another highway, so we have to go through Tellico Plains, TN and take the Cherohala Skyway. We were planning on riding this anyway, so no worries. I program the GPS to take us to Tellico Plains, then I'll just route to Robbinsville, NC from there.

As we're riding, the sun goes down and it starts cooling off. We turn onto the Cherohala Skyway. When I look at the GPS, it says 55 miles. 55 miles!? Wow. So we ride for a while, and it REALLY gets cold. We pull over and put on a couple of more layers. We start up again, and it is pitch black night and the road is seriously curvy. I'm leading, but I'm worried about my companions. We pull over again, see that everyone is good. I guess I'm just paranoid, they were having a good time. I find myself looking in the rear view constantly for two headlights. With all the curves, sometimes, it takes for ever for the one in the rear to pop up.

Anyway, we make it to Robbinsville. We pull into the service station to get a bite to eat at 10 til 10. They see us and shut off the lights. Jerk off's. So we go to McDonalds for a bite. We call the Two Wheel Inn because I'm confused about what my GPS is saying, but it's right and the directions that the lady at the hotel gives us are easy. We get there and the lady is at the desk. She's really nice and opens up the garage for us to park our bikes. She takes us up to the apartment, which is sweet. After a little liquor, it's bed time. We're all tired, but it was a good 700 mile day.

The next morning, we get up and head to Deals Gap and the Tail. We get there, pull in and park. Even though it's early, there are many bikes already there. Cruisers, crotch rockets, Tourers, etc. One guy comes up and says, "Is that a space ship?" So I show him the Vision, lay it down on it's tip overs, and some other guys take pictures with their phones. Pretty cool. Several other guys asked about Adam's DOOMONU. Poor Matt, no one asked him about his bike. They just need to hear it.

So we take off up the Tail with Matt in the lead, followed by Adam, then me. It was nice to take a little break from leading. The curves are great and the Vision handles great. The scenery is nice, except for the two TN trooper cars there. One of the guys we talked to before setting out got a ticket, so he gave us a warning. We weren't in a hurry anyway.

We get to the blocked off area before the rock slide, so we turn around and head back. We run into a couple of packs of crotch rockets. They go down, turn around, then get behind us. We pull over to let them buy and they fly past us. I never considered buying a crotch rocket until then. They looked like they were having a blast.

We get back to Deal's Gap and take some pictures. The Tree of Shame is a tree where bikers have donated parts of their wrecked bikes. We have a great lunch and buy some souvenirs. A BMW rider suggested that we ride down Hwy 28. So we did and he was right, it was a nice ride.

We went back into Robbinsville, then headed to the Cherohala Skyway. It was much better riding during the day. Some of the views weren't quite green yet, but some were and they were spectacular.

As we were riding, a volunteer fireman came up behind with his lights going, followed by a State Trooper. I hate seeing that, because it usually means a motorcycle wreck. Sure enough, a little later, we come upon a medevac helicopter being loaded. We ride a little further down and see a Harley Electra Glide folded up in a ditch. I hope he/she/both of them were ok.

We ride up to the highest point at 5390 feet elevation. We pull over and talk to a guy on a BMW sport tourer. He is nice enough to take our picture. We ride on a little further, and we stop so Adam can take my picture with the Vision tipped over so it looks like I'm screaming around a curve. Cool picture.

It's getting to be early evening, so we head back to Robbinsville for some Brats cooked on a $4 disposable grill. They were great.

The next morning we head out to Athens, Alabama. My GPS takes us in the wrong direction, or at least the direction we didn't want to go. We stopped at a lake to see which way we wanted to ride, then headed out. Stopped for gas at a store, and talked with several other bikers. The weather was sunny and beautiful.

We pass through this canyon with a gorgeous river flowing. Even though it was cold and the water had to be freezing, there were tons of kayakers, canoers, and rafters out. We stopped and Matt took some pictures. That was a great stop and great scenery. The area is where they held the water events for the summer Olympics one year. The flags are still up.

We headed on to Athens. I think Adam's butt was seriously hurting by the time we got to the Stenske house hold. I needed to head on home, but Michelle was cooking fajitas for dinner, so I had to stay. They were great! She wanted to take a test ride on the Vision and on Matt's bike, so we did some around the block rides. I think she wants her husband to get a bike for them, now.

I headed out after the great dinner. The GPS was trying to take me to the closest interstate, so I kept fighting it. I did ride down a little bit of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which was really nice.

When I got into Memphis, one of the big signs said that all lanes were blocked a few miles up ahead due to an accident. As I approached the stopped traffic, I took the exit and had the GPS reroute me. It worked great. Sometimes that GPS is frustrating, but this time, it routed me perfectly back to 55. Headed across the Mississippi bridge and headed home.

The stretch between Memphis and Little Rock is pretty boring, but the tunes kept me straight. I got gas in West Memphis, so I didn't expect to have to get gas until I got home. However, I had left my key on at the Stenske house, so my battery had died. After the jump start, I guess the computer had to reset, so my mileage was not very good for a while. So I had to stop one more time around Cabot.

I arrived home around midnight, tired, but not sore. The seat on the Vision was very comfortable. The back rest bag was great. I feel like I could have ridden another 500 miles without a problem. I think I'm ready for the big SS1000. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wedding Ride--Branson--April 2010

My fiance was never really sure about what I was excited about the most when I got home--getting my new bike or getting married. I'll never ever say that I was more excited about the new bike. I was very happy to be getting married to my true love and soul mate. I was really glad that we bought the Victory Vision together and we both rode on it together first on a test ride. It was truly our bike and we were riding up to Branson to get married.

We sent off Shelley's dress and my dress clothes by Fedex to the Hummingbird Inn in Reed Springs, a little community just north of Branson. We packed everything else in the trunk and hard bags of the Vision. We managed to stuff it all in there with little room to spare. We wore our red helmets that matched my Jackpot, but they didn't look too bad. They are very comfortable Gmax helmets.

As we started off, we rode the interstate up to Conway. Shelley hates the interstate, but we didn't really want to dilly dally on the way up there. The weather prediction was showing some rain in the late afternoon or evening, so we didn't want to waste time. The interstate ride was not too bad and Shelley wasn't as nervous as she was on the Jackpot. She said that she was very comfortable.

We exited in Conway and headed up Hwy 65. I really waited too long to write this so some of the ride is sketchy due to my poor memory. I do remember the weather was great, we didn't have a bit of problem. Until we got a little farther up north toward Clinton, then the wind started blowing. Shelley gave her special signal for me to slow down (dig her nails into my ribs or shoulders). The bike was solid, but we did get blown around a little. No problems with other traffic, just a little blustery.

Shelley and I made it up to Reed Springs. I spotted the sign for the turn off a little late, and didn't see the guy behind me that almost rear ended us when I came to a sudden stop. Whew, that would have really screwed up our wedding plans. God was looking out for us.

The road was off the main path, then a light gravel driveway to the B&B. What a gorgeous place. You could tell that the owners really took care of it. I think Shelley was ready for a break by the time we got there. We got unpacked and went up to our room.

Our room was fantastic. Two person jacuzzi, beautiful view, awesome place. We hopped back on the bike to go into Branson to pick up some crackers and cheese and mustard for a light dinner. The store was a little Amish bakery place. On the way back, we stopped for gas. I got into a conversation with a guy about the bike. Nice guy, a little talkative, but friendly. It started getting a little chilly on the way back, but no problem. Put the windscreen up a little, turn on the butt heat and no worries.

The next day couldn't have been any better. We slept late in that marvelous bed. The weather turned out to be absolutely beautiful and the wedding went spectacularly. Shelley was absolutely stunning in her dress. She was and is the most beautiful woman I know.

So the next day we decide that we want to ride back along Scenic 7 through Jasper, Booger Hollow, then on to Russellville. The GPS helped us make it where we needed to go to get out of town. The weather was perfect and the ride was great. Northern Arkansas is spectacular and no matter how many times I ride there, it's always just as fantastic. We stopped at the Arkansas Grand Canyon and took a couple of pictures. A nice lady took our picture there.

We rode past Dogpatch, USA which has been shut down for years. I have some fond childhood memories from there. We planned on stopping in Booger Hollow, but it was also closed down. What a shame, economy is being felt all over.

Still a gorgeous ride. We were both very comfortable and the Vision handled like a dream. I only got the secret signal a couple of times when I forgot Shelley was back there and took a few corners like I was solo. Sure was fun, though. :)

We got to Russellville and went to the original Feltner's Whataburger. I remember eating here when I went to college in Conway 20 years ago. They have huge burgers and a huge order of fries. Shelley and I shared a single order and it was plenty. The burger is still one of the best I've ever had. My mouth is watering as I'm typing this.

We get back on the bike with plenty of time and plenty of day light. Shelley wants to get off the interstate, so I get the GPS to route us the back way from Morrilton to Benton. That was a pretty ride as well. We were probably in the saddle about 6 hours that day and neither of us were uncomfortable. I was glad to get home , but the ride was great.

As we go into the house, it kinda hits us that we are now a married couple, husband and wife. What a great feeling. The last three days could not have been more perfect. It was obvious that God had smiled on us.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Rides

For someone who doesn't know me and is reading this from a totally outside perspective, I should cover a few bases. I work on an offshore drill ship overseas, 28 days on/28 days off. However lately, I've been working a lot over. This time especially I did almost 5 weeks and the ship was in the shipyard. Very busy. I was glad to get out of there.

When I got home from work, I had motorcycle and marriage on my mind. Shelley and I were going to go to a place just north of Branson, Missouri and be married. I was excited about that and getting my new bike. Shelley thinks I was more excited about the bike, but that's not true. We were purchasing our new Victory Vision. We had test rode it last time I was home and we both really enjoyed it. So now it was time to pick it up. I wanted to go by the shop on the way home from the airport, but we had more important things to do. :) Plus we were going to Dallas for the weekend. So it'll be next week. Oh well.

So I go to the bank and they tell me that it can be up to 48 hours to get a loan. 48 HOURS!!! I wanted my bike that day! Well, the lady was very nice, everything was in order and she could probably get it done by late that afternoon. Too late to get the bike that day, but I could pick it up the next morning. The Gregory brothers at Bryant Polaris made me a really good deal, taking my Victory Jackpot as a trade. They've always been great to deal with.

The next morning I go get it and they have it shined up, sitting out front ready for me to take it. So I get on it and ride it through town. Wow, what a great riding bike. Got the stereo going. I made a Ride playlist on my mp3 player, so I was blasting the tunes out. What a great day.

The next day, I pick up Shelley at her work. We run some errands and end up at Wal Mart (how did that happen?) We bought some stuff and were worried about room in the trunk and bags. No problem. Plenty of room. Even a trip to Walmart was made better with the Vision.

So the next weekend Morgan (my 12 yo son) comes for a visit. I promise to help my best friend's brother move, so Morgan and I ride out to his house. Morgan loves riding with me and he always wears the proper gear. We had a great day, rode about 120 miles round trip, beautiful weather.

These little rides were good, but the whole reason I bought the Vision is for big rides. My first big ride is to get married. How appropriate--starting a new life with a great woman on a great bike.