Sunday, May 25, 2008

Baumgartner's, etc.

We haven't had a proper ride in quite a while. By "proper ride," I mean more than about 40 miles.

So a couple weeks ago, I decided it was time for me to do my part and lead a ride for my buddies at We were originally going to do a brewery tour at Huber Brewery in Monroe, WI, then have lunch at Baumgartner's, then have a nice ride up to Spring Green.

However, Huber Brewery is now Linhas Brewery, and new management has decided that they didn't get enough interest on previous Memorial Days to warrant being open this Saturday. A big thumbs-down to that!

So we had brunch at Baumgartners, then went for the ride. It was 340 miles all told, and the lovely FJR returned 41.5 mpg on the first tank, since a lot of it was at 80 mph and 43.7 mpg on the second tank, since we spent a lot of time going 50-70 mph. Kate was with me too, and was kind enough to take most of these pictures. (the ones that feature us were taken by Ben (redCBRRider at STn)

Baumgartner's is a German/Swiss style cheese store/tavern. It is the oldest surviving cheese store in Wisconsin, having been in business since the early 1930s. We tried cheese curds (brick) for the first time, and we love them. They remind Kate of the "cheese logs" that are sold in the mountain town of Zakopane, Poland. (but not quite as salty, she says) I had a Braunschweiger and brick cheese sandwich and a cup of chili, Kate had a Ruben. The Ruben wasn't that good, as they neglected to butter and toast the rye. The sandwich was dry, and I forgot to put condiments on it, even though they had Dusseldorf mustard on the table in a squeeze bottle. The chili was great, as usual. I also had a Huber Bock beer; VERY good. This store sells the whole range of beers brewed at Linhas Brewery. I bought a mixed 6-pack of Berghoff and managed to stuff it in the Givi V56 topcase. One of them leaked and spilled in my jacket liner and Kate's jeans. :(

The roads were mostly in good shape; only one tiny back road had sand all over it.

On the way home, Bob led us on roads that were even better than the ones I had picked. I'm glad we followed him.

Kate was wearing her orange/yellow ANSI Class 2 reflective vest, and I loaned my green one to Jim to bring up the rear. That way, I could tell at a glance back that we hadn't lost anyone in traffic or in the ditch at the turns. That worked out pretty well.

I tried to lead the pack at a pace such that the fastest riders wouldn't be bored in the twisty bits, and the slowest riders would catch up on the straights.

I only saw one speed trap the entire time I was in WI, which was 90% of the time. In IL, we saw 3 or 4. They're predatory here, and we have artificially low speed limits to help them get revenue for the state. They only way to have any fun is to get the hell out of town and mount a good radar detector. My Sensoro Traveller saved me on two separate occasions today. Of course, I don't speed that much on the expressways and busier highways, because that's where the cops have the easiest time. They can't be bothered to go out to some twisty back road, where the best turns are. Most people don't speed there, they speed on highways and in town.

All in all, the day cost about $70: $35 for gas, and $35 for food. Not too bad, but expensive enough that I couldn't do this all the time. At least not on an FJR. Maybe on a Ninja 250 (75 mpg) with a bag lunch... ($5)

Today, we're going out for brunch, and I'm going to honestly get working on finishing my nightstand. Maybe a beer or three later.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thinking of selling the FJR

Well, folks, the time might be approaching. I've found that in order to really enjoy this bike, I need somewhat smooth roads, (which we don't have around here) which are twisty, (which we don't have around here) and without too many cops. (which we do have around here)

I went for one of my first solo rides of the season on it yesterday. I still had the rear tire inflated to 42 psi, since I usually ride the FJR when Kate is coming along. I should have deflated it to the recommended 36 psi, or maybe a little less. Man, it was just punishing on my back. That, and I was continually frustrated when I couldn't get past a cager in an SUV who was going 35 in a 40. (which I would normally ride at 70)

Sometimes, I go on rides and I return thinking: "Man, this is brilliant. Why would I ever want to sell this?" Other times, I'm thinking: "What a beautiful bike. Too bad my back hurts and I'm always inches away from getting arrested." (Region 4) has rides all the time that would take advantage of this bike's abilities. But I have to ride about 100 miles northwest in order to get there, and to be honest, it's getting old. Maybe I'm just a wimp, but with gas at its current $3.80 a gallon and 45 mpg, that is $17 in gas just to get there and back; that doesn't even count the fun riding, which would be another 200-300 miles.

Burgertime, on the other hand, gets 60 mpg most of the time, and doesn't tempt me into triple digit speeds. It is relaxing to ride, rather than exciting. Riding on rough roads in the suburbs at legal speeds is no big deal. No engine heat and no clutching in traffic. But if I sold the FJR, Kate would miss it, as it is the superior 2-up bike, and it is just so exciting.

Now, I'm getting ready to go, and can't decide which bike to take. The FJR for fun in the few twisty roads, excitement, and effortless power? Or Burgertime and just take it easy? We'll see. But one thing is for sure, if I don't start riding the FJR more, it's gone.

Still thinking of a KLR, as it seems to address all the issues. Better suspension for crappy roads, not as much power & speed to get me in trouble either.

I think I'll take Kate's advice: Keep it for at least one more year. (we may have a baby next year)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Snuck in another ride on Burgertime today

When I got out of work today, it was sunny and 52°F. I had only one thing on the mind. I got home and got Burgertime out and put at least 50 miles on him. I was freezing by the time I got home, it was only 47°F at that time.

Now, they're talking about snow again tomorrow night, as well as Thursday & Friday. Crapola.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Nice Break from Chicago Winter

I had a factory trip out in Carlsbad, CA to do some testing on a commercial door operator. I managed to finish the testing in one day, so I got to spend the other day visiting with my sister & brother-in-law in LA.
After much deliberation, I decided to go ahead and rent a new Kawasaki KLR650. I've had my eye on these ever since they came out. It seems like a perfect bike for potholed roads and a guy with a heavy wrist. (see previous post on it)

Look at those photos for a minute: See how tall the thing is?! That means long-travel suspension, which soaks up the bumps. The hand guards protect one's hands from the wind, even though the bike has those goofy wide handlebars. (remember, I'm used to the FJR) Another cool thing about it being so tall is that there is a TON of legroom. I had a ride on the FJR today, and it was quite cramped by comparison.
Onto the ride. Boy was it ever nice to have sunny weather that never seems to get colder than 60°F.

At the cycle shop, I also picked up a little map by MadMaps called "Get Outta Town Los Angeles", and picked the longest ride on it. 250+ miles in the mountains and "National Forests". (National Forests is in quotes, because they don't really have forests there. They're all dried up shrubs.)

Anyway, the ride was beautiful. Here are a couple more shots:
I tell you what, it was damned hard to get off the plane at O'Hare the next day to cloudy and 30°F. I was coming up with ways in my head the whole way home of how we might move there.
Today, we had a "warm" day. It was 47°F when I got home from work. "Good enough!" says I. I pulled the blanked off the FJR, dusted off the sawdust, checked the tire pressure, bundled up, and went for an hour-long ride. It was fun, but the bike never seems to wake up. It is so damned fast & competent, but so hard to stay under 70 mph. Not that I'm complaining, I just really liked that KLR, and I'm getting funny ideas.
The garage only has room for two bikes, and I think Burgertime is here to stay. I thought the FJR was here to stay too, but I'm not so sure any more. The KLR is better suited to our (crappy) roads, and is less likely to be radared at triple digit speeds with me aboard. Just thinking.
Kate says I need to keep the FJR at least one more year, so we can have a bunch of good rides on it. She is confident a KLR wouldn't be as good two-up. (she's probably right too)
Oh well, thanks for reading this rant.