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Old 01-21-2015, 10:55 PM   #1
vifferluv OP
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Joined: Dec 2014
Location: Green Mtns
Oddometer: 19
Houston to the Bay Area

As B. Franklin advised: nothing ventured, nothing gained. I needed a break. From the daily grind. From a failing relationship. From long work days & nights.

Too many years had past since I'd been on a ride not just hitting up some favorite roads on the weekend or after work or camping for a day or two within a day or two from home.

I thank this gent for showing the way:

Thank you Dennis!

And this gent for working with me to secure my dream bike for the ride:

Thank you James!

I'd also like to thank sstracke, vaara, wbbnm, and holckster for offering advice in my trip planning thread or via PM.

And since it's that time of year and i DID ride through LA, I'd like to Thank the Academy.
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Old 01-21-2015, 11:05 PM   #2
vifferluv OP
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Plan the Ride : Ride the Plan

What began as a trip to visit family with “a day or 2” of riding thrown in became a life altering journey reminding me of so much of what I take for granted while teaching me more than I could have anticipated.

Planning began in mid-December while working nights at my manufacturing partnership after surfing ADV earlier in the month and stumbling upon AntiHero's Round the World RR. I had been toying with the idea of selling off one of two strategically located 5th Gen VFRs in the spring and buying Honda's new Interceptor. The addition of ABS would be welcomed as would some rudimentary traction control for those heavy rains I seem to always find during spring riding, however the motobike I'd been lusting after for nearly a year was Ducati's Panigale S. After seeing and hearing a tricolore in Southern England in Feb 2014. Then in September while working a conference in Italia, my Pani (panty?) libido was re-upped. Next two-wheeled adventure would be on Ducati's SBK.

England Feb 2014


I started thumbing through ebay ads to get a sense of what was out there and what the choice mods were. I watched multiple auctions to get a sense of market pricing and how quickly bikes were turning over. One was a 2013 Panigale R selling no reserve for under 20k?!

James' Panigale peaked my interest as it was well modded (full Termis, reliable rearsets, tidy tail & more) and would place me in a warm enough climate to ride to my destinations.
We exchanged numbers, chatted, and came to an amenable deal.

Ten days later, I'd be flying out from the frozen tundra of the North to throw a leg over the most advanced motorcycle I'd ridden.

vifferluv screwed with this post 01-21-2015 at 11:20 PM Reason: fix formatting oddities
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Old 01-21-2015, 11:16 PM   #3
vifferluv OP
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Location: Green Mtns
Oddometer: 19
Uno Dia

I arrived in Houston around noon on Dec 26th. James picked me up in his modern hotrod (handling + boost), we had a quick lunch, then he introduced me to my mail order bride-to-be.

I've always been a sucker for redheads and this one's a knockout. I'd say at least a 33 out of 10. Those curves, that *ss, those primal sounds. She's a heartbreaker...

Not only was James fantastic to deal with during our business transactions, he was immeasurably helpful in ensuring Pani Bella was ready to carry me through the desert and into the mountains. This included such drudgery as:
a) reapplying adhesive to one of the Competition Werkes turn signals to seat it back onto its mount in the vent,
b) helping to install the T-rex sliders I had drop shipped to him which also required a run to Home Depot's Ducati Parts Dept as they were short the required M6-30s,
c) reinstalling the stock mirrors as the bar end ones would prohibit me from moving my hands to the end of the grips, something I've found vital for distance riding
d) helping install the Ducati tank & tail bags he included in the sale (no, really, it's a SPORTtourer)

It ended up being well after dark when I eventually set off towards Austin. James & his Lady bid me farewell as I headed off into the night to get the heck outta dodge.

There was some light precip in Houston in the afternoon and I found similar conditions enroute. James' directions were spot on, however I somehow missed my intended route and ended up rolling through Bellville and stopping in La Grange for the night. The guy in an open cutoff shirt who came out asked two poignant questions: “Did I need a room? And you're gonna wanna pull that bike inside, arentcha?”

Friendliness of the proprietor aside, this place was on the B list for the hotel scenes in No Country for Old Men. Many of the windows had been boarded up with plywood. Room was 42 bucks a night. Not sure how Walter came up with that sum but I was glad for the room & paid cash. After the financial exchange & handing me a key, Walter helped push the redheaded beauty over the threshold & into our honeymoon suite.
What does one do to toast such an occasion? Why drink Limoncello straight from the boot, of course!


My adrenals had called it quits for the night, so it was time to make eyes at my new crush and then shut'em for the night.

vifferluv screwed with this post 01-21-2015 at 11:25 PM Reason: fight format & win!
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Old 01-22-2015, 12:04 AM   #4
BadgerDog
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Holy crap, she's haaawwwwwttttt!!!

Just sayin.

Carry on.
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Old 01-22-2015, 04:28 PM   #5
Firenailer
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Location: New York
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I'm in, Beauty of a bike!
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Old 01-22-2015, 04:41 PM   #6
bluestar
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:56 PM   #7
Roland44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vifferluv View Post
As B. Franklin advised: nothing ventured, nothing gained. I needed a break. From the daily grind. From a failing relationship. From long work days & nights.
So true! Great report and bike, subscribed!
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Old 01-22-2015, 08:10 PM   #8
NONAME13
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Whoa yeah kick start my heart that bike is super sweet I'm in.
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:45 PM   #9
vifferluv OP
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Location: Green Mtns
Oddometer: 19
Dos Dia

Thanks all for your interest! Will do my best to keep it entertaining..

I awoke without hunger or want, invigorated by the adventure ahead. My svelte redhead only a couple yards away, shining back at me. Helpful to have her inside as I ran my hand over all the fasteners removed the day before. Sure enough one was gone and two had started to back out. Ran the hex key over all of the ones from exercised the day before and only the two visually in need of torque to take any. The missing fastener was one on the underside of the tail fairing, leaving only two on one side, so I took one from the left side and put it catty corner on the right. That should keep the tail in place, I thought.

Now what's that sound, open the door to see the proverbial cats and dogs:


This was actually when the deluge had started letting up. I'd found a breakfast spot in Austin to act as my next destination, Bouldin Creek Cafe, here I come!

I'd bundled up for what seemed appropriate for the wet and rising temps. The combo of rain/mist/rain and my raincoat directing water in my throttle glove meant I was cold when I arrived at the Cafe. Nothing a hot beverage and some good vittles couldn't sort out. Service was outstanding and food was even better. The maitre'D offered me the bar and when I asked for a table, she directed my attention to one just emptied awaiting a wipe down. This allowed me to a place to put my accompanying person worth of gear & backpack in the seat across from me. Wouldn't have felt like I was eating alone, however a friendly couple were seated adjacent moments later, so the company & conversation was nearly as filling as the eats:

This is their signature Bene and after an appetizer of Chipotle-pecan pesto (which I shared with the neighbor couple), it became two meals.

Place gets packed. There was a line when I arrived and still one when I left. Zipped both the pant and jacket insulation in as well as doubled up my wool socks before rolling out.

I had planned to spend the night in Austin the night before, but with the late departure and feeling the effects of leaving the house at 4:30am to catch my 6 o'clock flight, it was time to bed down when I did. Felt the allure of Austin but also had an opportunity to ride past the weather before a previously unforecast cold wave set in.

Goal for today was San Angelo, TX. While stopping in Fredericksburg to gas up and warm up, I met two friendly gents from the area, Waylin and Curtis. These guys had stories a'plenty. Waylin worked multiple positions at NASA for many years, including as a Chemical Engineer. He'd also owned & flown all kinds of General Aviation birds. Curtis had stories of his own to share and went out to his truck to get a picture of his son on a recently purchased S1000RR or "the monocle" as I like to call it, riding in Germany.

Reinvigorated by both the chat and drinking some hot liquids, I headed back out, transitioning from 290 to 87.

My next warm up / top up (still plenty of fuel) was in Brady. Cheryl was behind the counter and expressed concern for me pressing on. She was a local, recently back from living elsewhere in the SW. She later informed me of a couple recent two-wheeled deaths possibly due to icing roads or animals in the roadway at night as I insisted on helping her carry an extra bag of rubbish too large to fit on the push bin she was rolling to the dumpsters.

I was cold, tired, and hungry. Good time to head her warning and recommendation for the Inn next store. Norma, the proprietor, was under the weather but couldn't be more welcoming. Of the four restaurants in walking distance, she gave her blessing to the second closest, a cajun joint called Boondocks Seafood.

I tucked the Panigale in for the night in my 1st floor room and proceeded to dinner post haste. The clientele was mostly hunters either from the area or enroute to their prey. The husband & wife owners were welcoming and the food was as inexpensive (huge meal for under 10) as it was delicious!

Got Norma some fried pickles to go after filling up myself. Asked the owners about how this place came to be and they described working on recipes and building a staff over time. Thanked them again and headed home for the night.

Nothing puts ya to bed quite as soundly as a day well lived.

Goodnight, foxy red beauty:

(is it "hair up" or ears back?)

vifferluv screwed with this post 01-23-2015 at 07:29 AM Reason: typographical error correction
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Old 01-23-2015, 08:24 AM   #10
vifferluv OP
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Location: Green Mtns
Oddometer: 19
A Segue

The Panigale 1199S deserves discussion of her proclivities:
[caveat, I'm nowhere near the level of rider as this is level of motobike but I hope to learn her secrets well]

o steering feel and generally flickability / lightness are incredible; steering dampener offers fine-tuning of your preferred feel per your riding environment

o the electronic aids are remarkable as they're there working but not intrusive or really noticeable; in rain mode with the ABS & traction control at max and engine mapping at 120 ponies, she really is a pussycat; even the suspension becomes more plush (by default, also rider configurable)

o cruising at 80-85 is all day long comfortable in any power setting

o with the full beans turned on (195 hp), reaching triple digit passing speeds seems instantaneous and she settles right in at whatever the rider is comfortable with (for any law enforcement: or so I've heard, haven't had the bike over the speed limit)

o ergos are actually pretty forgiving, particularly with the tank bag acting as a chest cushion taking weight off the wrists while relaxing the core

o once I'd set the levers where I like them, the clutch & brake feel is light and easily modulated; the brembos are fantastic with a range of usability from shaving off a few mph pre-corner entry to holy $h!t there's a posse of armadillos crossing the road; the ABS does exactly what you'd expect, making braking on sub-standard surfaces a non-event (had some wet pea stone to test them out on when a truck came ripping down a side road and pulled right out in a posted 75mph, because rural TX)

o the sound, OH! the sound : if the subtle & sublime handling exhibits the finesse & composure of the Concierto de Aranjuez, the exhaust notes are as if the Carmina Burana was being sung by a young & virile Pavarotti in Vegas after a week of nothing but coca & street walkers
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Old 01-23-2015, 10:25 AM   #11
humancertainty
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Bouldin Creek is my favorite breakfast place in the world.
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Old 01-23-2015, 01:24 PM   #12
Blader54
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Always nice to see a long ride on a supersport!
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Old 01-24-2015, 07:21 PM   #13
vifferluv OP
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Joined: Dec 2014
Location: Green Mtns
Oddometer: 19
Bouldin Creek Cafe

Quote:
Originally Posted by humancertainty View Post
Bouldin Creek is my favorite breakfast place in the world.
I can see/taste why! Hoping to get back to Austin, perhaps for MotoGP or F1 races..
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Old 01-24-2015, 07:27 PM   #14
vifferluv OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blader54 View Post
Always nice to see a long ride on a supersport!
Thank you, sir. I've been riding VFRs for many years and appreciate their many talents, however the jack of all trades, master of none nature of their design left me wondering what it meant to ride an uncompromising SBK. Now I know
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Old 01-26-2015, 12:41 AM   #15
vifferluv OP
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Location: Green Mtns
Oddometer: 19
Dia Tres

I awoke with a simple goal, get the eff outta TX! Looking at the map & weather while enjoying the previous day's Bouldin Creek leftovers meant it was time to compromise. I had set the goal of minimal slab and while many of the alternate roads in TX supported making good time, I-10 was the ticket outta dodge.

From Brady, a quick zip over to 190 would put me on an intercept course with the ten. Also have me roll through Eldorado, whose streets were not paved with gold.

My original route would have had me in NM earlier, however the winter weather rolling in meant lows in the teens (F) with snow likely, whereas I had packed & planned to camp in lows of 30-40 (what the forecast showed at the time).

This is the best part of having no plan, running seat of the pants!

Not to be confused with runs from the seat of the pants...

When I went to pilf the continental breakfast, David & Joyce, an older couple heading into even more rural TX to hunt with their 4 grandsons, suggested the Cactus Inn near Belmore should I not make my goal and need to bed down for the night. Be prepared for the sidewalks to roll up at dusk, they admonished. I had seen them roll-in the previous night with their pickup & pop-up and shared in their road weariness from a distance, so it was a pleasure to exchange tales and goals. We bid each other safe passage upon parting ways.

Lubed the chain, loaded the luggage, and set the ride. Although brisk, the sun was insistent and the temps were climbing. Unlike the previous morning, I had on ALL my warmest gear. Easier to shed layers later...

While my lovely lightweight steed was returning near ~40mpg, the 4.5 gallon tank means stopping around every 140 miles. No problem, gas at the next station, until you pull off the interstate and find the seeding ground for the zombie apocalypse:


This was down below the interstate with nothing around besides other clapped out buildings. I'd have to backtrack about 5 miles based on what Gmaps showed was an active gas station. Here's hoping..

Set up on a hill, the Pani sputtered as I rolled in & was thirsty enough to take 4.4 gallons. Whew!

Gus, another patron, was surprised to see a motorbike and asked me what my story was. As I told him, he encouraged the Southern route with the impending cold front and wished me well on my journey. I thanked him and set off.

The quick on the interstate was uneventful other than my next fill-up on the outskirts of El Paso and as the ten headed N along the border, the West winds earned their reputation. Body positioned into the stiff breeze relaxed the ride somewhat.

Mission Accomplished!


Good to see mountains, rode the enthusiasm into the dark through Las Cruces. After an obligatory checkpoint / weigh station, Deming became my home for the night.

You know you're motorcyclist when one of your criteria for accommodations is:

Checking the threshold.

After John checked me in, I headed to my first fast food of the trip and hit up the Taco Bell down the street on foot. The cool desert air had descended hours ago. Only the drive-in was open, so I ordered sans voiture and carried my bounty back to my room. Two stops yielded no libations. Sunday blue laws caps consumption purchases to 9.

As I chowed down, I celebrated my near 600 miler and pondered the gap between our needs and desires. Looking over at the Panigale and her relatively light luggage; I longed to own her but once purchased, need so little to go along with her. Even the tent, laptop, bedroll, etc are superfluous. What does it mean to be alive, to be engaged in this temporary celebration?

For me, each day comprised of two-wheeled wonder encompasses it quite well: the experience of traveling across terra firma and the chance meetings of good people along the way are the threads of this fabric.

Rest is the day's reward.
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