Archive for April, 2007

Ramble Plan Kilo: Starring Sidewalk Dan

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Weather: 65°F (18°C)
Road Conditions: Dry and crowded with urban rush-hour traffic.

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Frogwing has some new friends: Sidewalk Dan and his KLR, at Lake Como.

Some of you may have seen Sidewalk Dan’s comments in both “The Baron in Winter” blog and RHR. Dan has been a friend of mine for a few years now, since I became active in the local KLR scene. He is a bright fellow; a professional civil engineer with several bridge designs to his credit. But he also has a wild side, as his nickname attests, and his background as a former Marine demands.

His nickname derives from the fact that, when faced with heavy State Fair traffic in the rain one day, he decided to bypass the gridlocked cages and take to the empty sidewalk in order to get where he was going.

“Improvise, adapt, overcome.” – These were the words that Clint Eastwood used to describe the Marine Corps approach to obstacles and opposition in one of his better films. It is an attitude that both Dan and I have taken to heart, in dealing with local traffic on our KLRs.

But enough of this jaw-jackin’. Dan wrote up his version of our Ramble Plan, and it’s time to see what he has to say. My comments will appear in italics… Those of you who watch “Mail Call” on cable will feel right at home.

Ramble Plan Kilo: The Bulldog N.E.

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Dan on the Sidewalk, sans KLR, outside “The Bulldog N.E.”

How fitting it is for Gary and I to begin our ramble from an establishment named “The Bulldog.”

For those of you not in-the-know, the bulldog is the official mascot of the United States Marine Corps. Currently this post is filled by Sergeant Chesty XI. Alas, I’m starting to hear Springsteen sing “Glory Days” somewhere in the background – so I don’t think I’ll go down that road today.

My past life in the Corps is, well, buy me a beer and I might tell you a story or ten…

The Bulldog N.E. sits on the outskirts of downtown Minneapolis, just
across the Mississippi River that divides Gary’s beloved Saint Paul – and
his not-so-favorite Minneapolis (a/k/a the other place…).

Near Nye’s, another favorite establishment that Gary has mentioned previously on his blog, the Bulldog is situated along Hennepin Avenue, a fairly busy road that carries the thousands of downtown workers to and from their homes to their various places of employment. I am one of them.

Be that as it may, I rarely stop once mounted on my bike during my commute home. I pass the Bulldog going home – but never stop to take a gander. A few of my coworkers gave me the thumbs-up; plus the local newspaper had a pretty good review too. I was liking our odds more and more.

We stopped in about 1630 – catching a window seat to do some people watching and hopefully catch some decent light for Gary’s well known dinner plate shots. The restaurant is known for their hamburgers, serving Kobe beef pretty much any way you like.

Gary chose a plain burger, cooked rare, with a topping of a truffle. Yes, that is not a misprint, a truffle.

Whoa there, Devildog! Truffles normally sell for between $400 and $1000 a pound. They wouldn’t bury something like that inside a cheeseburger, certainly not for ten measly bucks. What The Bulldog uses on their Truffle Burger is truffle oil. Big difference! Carry on… =gc=

I asked for a plain Jane bacon cheeseburger, cooked medium well. Your host was very pleased with his burger, as was I. There were no sauces, no drowning in tomatoes, onions, pickles, relish and the like. Just a plain slab (and what a great slab it was) of beef, topped with a truffle. Gary will have to chime in on his taste buds and his topping, but my bacon cheeseburger was simply outstanding. I believe he got some decent photos of his burger – maybe he will put one (along with his review) in here.

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Behold: The Ten Dollar Cheeseburger. Worth it? Read on…

Ah, the Truffle Burger… only ten-dollah, Joe. Did you ever think you would see the like? Oh, but this one is a doozy: They trim the fat off Kobe chuck, season it with garlic, thyme, salt, and peppercorns, and cure it overnight. Then they run it through the grinder twice to make it super smooth and tender. Grill it in truffle oil and top it with pure Wisconsin Brie, and present it on a fresh English Muffin. Hey, why is that olive staring at me? Let me give a special shout-out to our server Rachel. She was very patient with us jarheads and our uncouth table manners. =gc=

Well, now that chow was over (man, sounds like an Alpo commercial?) – on with the ramble. I had yet to reveal my route tonight, as I was going to try to get Gary in some local mud pockets that I had found in the days past. But he was weighted down with his traveling load as well as running his street tires – so he opted out of the mud. I did not.

It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t deep. But it was still fun. Ask your kids (or even hark back to when you were a young lass) why they play in the mud. The exact same reason I ride in it (but I can neither confirm or deny these allegations at this time).

Don’t let him fool you, folks. Dan is only barely removed from the kid stage. He’s been to college, and learned some fancy language, sure. But deep down he is still a curtain-climbin’ rugrat at heart. Thirty-three years old, and still playin’ in the mud… Oohrah! =gc=

Our route from downtown Minneapolis towards Saint Paul where we both live took us along the same Hennepin Avenue for a few miles of dreary rush hour traffic, to a couple quite sedate feeder roads in some of the local neighborhoods. This began a brief notion of supermotard. I found a nice, small steady LH curve – very doable at just a bit over the speed limit, followed by a hard RH turn that got us back to some main line routes.

It wasn’t much – and I never lost sight of his headlight in my mirrors. Keep in mind we were both on our KLRs – that had to be one heck of a sight. Not quite so cafe-racer-esque, but I did my best.

Exiting our motard event, we headed for the mud where Gary took it easy and I played for a bit. Next time we’ll get some pics okay Gary?

I was just coverin’ your six, Junior. Yeah, next time we’ll get some pics of you getting busted by the railyard bulls. =gc=

Then it was on to some uneventful riding to a lake near my house where my family and I walk and bike. I believe there were some more photos taken here. See the top of the page. =gc=

It was at the lake where Gary and I parted ways. He had a bit of ride to his hacienda – whereas I just live a few short miles away. I rambled here and there for another hour or so, as I had the kitchen pass tonight, which I was going to take full advantage to be sure.

Well, this is the end of Ramble Plan Kilo. I hope you have enjoyed my rambling as well.

And once again, many thanks to your kind host, Gary Charpentier.
Semper Fi brother.

Sidewalk Dan out.

Upgrades and Updates

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Weather: 47°F (8°C) Under cloudy skies.
Road Conditions: Dry and clean.

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A leftover shot from the Flood Run: Self portrait in chrome.

Busy, busy, busy…

A lot has happened over the past week, and I suppose I should bring you all up-to-date. The most obvious event was the changing of the color scheme for RHR. I got sick of looking at a black-and-white page, and decided to go with something more to my liking. Now that we have all the glitches ironed out, I would appreciate some reader feedback. What do you think?

Scooter News…

I wish I could tell you something positive here, but I’m afraid the Vespa deal is in limbo at the moment.

NOTE: This section has been edited. Kathleen from Cooper-Katz has been in contact, and the deal may still be alive. We are looking at early May now, hopefully. Wish me luck… and thanks to whomever it was that helped me out. You know who you are.

Replacement Rambler?

The next Ramble Plan in my phonetic alphabet progression is Kilo. For that, I let my friend Sidewalk Dan plan and lead the ride, right through the heart of our Twin Cities. We dined at “Bulldogs N.E.”, where I had a most decadent gourmet cheeseburger, and then he led me on a merry chase through sidestreet rush-hour traffic. But I’m going to let him tell you about it, later this weekend.

Another “Doohickey Day”!

My friend Paul Streeter is hosting another Doohickey Day at his house on Saturday. Members of the Twin Cities Dual-Sport forum will get together to perform scheduled maintenance and upgrades to their KLRs, and now we are even working on other makes and models of these most useful of motorbikes. Buster Brown and Sidewalk Dan will be there, along with a host of other eccentric characters, and I will be sure to document the ensuing mayhem for posterity.

Tunnel of Hate?

This is the term I have come up with for my morning Ride to Work(tm) on the freeway. Now that I have been granted this time at work in the morning to update my blog and answer your comments, I have forsaken my nice, slow morning ramble on the parkways in favor of mortal combat on the freeways.

Since it is still dark when I leave in the morning, and the freeway runs between huge retaining walls through much of its’ length, I have taken to calling this ride “The Tunnel of Hate”.

This is due to the Universal Loathing I feel for every single cage operator out there. All these fragile egos driving oversize trucks and SUVs, and even worse, the vicious little creeps in their hopped-up sh*tboxes, are out there wired on their morning coffee, lurching from lane to lane with their nuclear blue high-beams on, in a death-race to their commercial/industrial slaughterhouses.

I don’t know how much more of this I can stand before I do something Truly Heinous…

Spring Flood Run, 2007

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Weather: 80°F (27°C) and sunny.
Road Conditions: Dry and crowded with motorbikes.

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This guy was putting on a kick-start demonstration, unsuccessfully…

This year’s Spring Flood Run was bigger than I’ve ever seen it. The weather was gorgeous, and the bikers showed up in the thousands. I’m going to tell most of this story in photos, because I’ve got a lot of those, and not a lot of time. Life has gotten busy again…

The athletic fellow at the top of the page was too busy to chat. He was trying to get his high-compression, high-dollar custom bobber to start, so he could continue south on Wisconsin Highway 35 with the rest of the riders. It never even fired for the five minutes I stood there watching him. But he had plenty of guys stopping by to offer advice.

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Main Street, Prescott, Wisconsin, about 11 in the morning.

As many of you know, I’m not much into crowd scenes. I don’t like waiting in lines, be they in traffic or on foot, and that’s a large part of what people do at the Flood Run. The upside of that, of course, is that you get to socialize with people you’ve never met, but who obviously share some of the same values. This is usually a good thing.

But it seems that riders start showing up in Wisconsin for this event earlier every year. Again, probably a good thing, because it spreads the massive amount of riders out over a longer distance. There are statistics available relating to Flood Run attendance, but those are only for the ones who actually registered and paid a donation to charity in order to enjoy some of the special events. The majority of riders I met were simply showing up.

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From left to right: Wayne, Dave, and Jason.

I spoke briefly with the three gents in the photo above. But my notes got scrambled in my pockets, and all I retained were their names. Just three guys on interesting bikes, especially that Ducati 996 Monoposto. Victory was well represented at this rally too, and of course there were legions of Harleys.

But, there were also some scooters in attendance. I caught Don and Jacque Cody as they rolled into town on their Honda Reflex 250s. I also wrote down their phone number, so I could get further information, but life has kept me busy since Saturday, and I’m afraid I never made the call. If you’re reading this, Codys, I apologize.

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Don and Jacque Cody, Honda Reflex 250s.

In the last of my “Meet the Riders” images, we have Brad and Mason from Elsworth, Wisconsin. This was young Mason’s first motorcycle run, and both father and son were enjoying themselves immensely.

I wish I would have thought of bringing Emily along with me, but I’m afraid she would have gotten bored with daddy stopping to talk to strangers and taking pictures all the time.

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Brad and Mason from Elsworth, Wisconsin.

Frogwing and I only rode as far south as Maiden Rock this year, because I had to be home by late afternoon. The city I live in has decided to get all militant about code enforcement, and I have to scrape and paint all the trim on my house, or face Horrible Consequences.

Trouble is, once I have done that, they will send the inspector back out to find something else wrong with Ton-Up Manor. I’m sure my neighbors have already complained about the tarp covering the roof on my poor old shed. Like many of you real riders out there, landscaping and household maintenance aren’t exactly my number one priorities.