Changes.

So much going on. More than usual. Never let it be said that I’m lazy and/or boring.

Big Soddy Creek Bridge - click for larger

Big Soddy Creek Bridge – click for larger

I did, indeed, find the aforementioned new trail up through the area known as Big Soddy Gulf, and I made it all the way to – and beyond – the Big Soddy Creek Bridge and and the (now dangerously dilapidated) Deep Creek Bridge. Of course, I did my usual stupid and dangerous off-trail stuff, and basically climbed up the side of the mountain. And down a mountain. And back up a mountain. And back down a mountain. You get the idea. Only I can take what should have been a 6 or 7 mile hike, and make it nearly 14 miles. Hi, have we met?

click for larger, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Movescount data

There was some melancholy news. I sold my truck. I’m probably overthinking it and making a bigger deal out of it than necessary, but I’ve had it for a long time, and did all sorts of hotrodding to it. However, since I bought the Jeep, I just wasn’t driving it, so paying for insurance and what-not seemed kinda pointless, and because I believe that the Universe works in weird ways, I stumbled right into someone who wanted it. Really wanted it – and will continue the hotrodding of the thing. So, see ya later, Truck. Thanks for the memories. Couple trips to Florida, the drive-in, lots of adventures, taking the pups places – good times. I guess even the best of times eventually come to an end. Someone said to me that this represented the longest relationship I’ve ever had, and depressingly, that was accurate. At least the truck never lied to me or ran off with another vehicle.

click for larger

click for larger

Now, I had good motivation to sell the truck. I can justify having two vehicles and a motorbike, but not two vehicles and two motorbikes. That’s just too austentatious for me (surprisingly). You know where this is going, right? As promised (threatened?), I went motorbike shopping over the weekend, and the BMW I looked at – wow. Just wow. So, you know what happened…

Yep.

Yep.

It’s awesome. Sleek, fast, bells and whistles. Seriously, heated grips? Anti-lock brakes? On a motorcycle? That’s some real Star Trek sh*t right there. But most importantly, and the whole reason I bought it, is to head into the woods.

Which I did. Immediately.

Which I did. Immediately.

It is so dramatically different that the Phantom. Instead of a massive V-Twin like the Phantom has, the BMW has a single cylinder engine, for simplicity’s sake. However, it’s just as fast (maybe faster) because it weighs almost 200 pounds less. And – wait for it – it gets 74 MPG. Seventy-four. The Phantom gets around 55 (and for comparison, the Jeep has been getting 27, and the truck got 12 – on a good day, going downhill, with a tailwind). So, with the current $1.97 I paid this morning, for 7 bucks and a quarter, I can go about 275 miles. That’ll do, pig.

My second-longest relationship is with Amazon.

My second-longest relationship is with Amazon.

Of course, now I have to get online and really shop. I’ve already ordered an off-road helmet and purpose-made jacket and other gear. I ordered the “official” BMW tail bag; a soft trunk that goes on the back – I always carry loads of stuff when I explore. A tank pad – it’s basically a spongy kinda decal that goes on the tank so a tank bag won’t slide around (fun fact: the “tank” on a BMW isn’t actually that; that gas tank is under the seat [hence the rear filler] – where the tank is on a conventional bike is the battery and air filter). And some fun things: a patch for the new jacket (gotta find a seamstress) and a cloth keytag, like I have for the Jeep. I need crash bars and a skid plate. Aux lighting. Because it’s December, it’s going to be a couple of months (probably) before I have real adventures on it, so I have time to prep. But the adventures are going to be plentiful. I knew as soon as I got in the woods that it was the right call, and that was just a short ride on a cold, cloudy day. By the time April or May rolls around, I’m going to be crushing it in the middle of nowhere.


So, mountain biking, kayaking, drone flying, hiking, caving, Jeepin’, dog walking, street motorbiking and now off-road motorbiking. What’s left? Bungee jumping? Hang gliding? Hmm…

Oh, and I guess I need to update the Motorbike page.

Link:
Big Soddy Gulf Photo Album on Facebook

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“And that’s the wayyyyyy the news goes!”

tv-dinners-622
I guess there was a holiday or something, right? Dunno. They all look the same to me. However, holiday or not, the weather was nice enough to take the bike for a little spin.


Yeah, I kinda almost went boom there near the end of the video. It happens. I at least have some comfort in knowing that because I wear the Safety Gear™, if i do ever kiss the pavement, I’ll most likely just slide along. Until a truck runs over me, that is. There’s no amount of Kevlar jeans that will help with that. Hopefully, I’ll catch it on either my GoPro or my newfangled front/rear motorbike dashcam. I’m less afraid of dying than I am of dying and not getting it on film – that’s the world we live in.

And since we’re speaking of bikes, I’ve got a line on a bike I’m going to look at on Saturday. A BMW G650 GS. I’ve been wanting an “adventure bike” – that is, a bike that can be ridden legally on-road, but is designed to be ridden off-road. This one is only slightly smaller than my Phantom (650cc vs. 750cc), but smaller is good for bouncing around in the woods or whatever. BMW bikes are supposed to be about the best you can get for this kind of activity – I’ve watched enough motorcycling documentaries to know that there’s a reason people ride these bikes in particular on awesome cross-country adventures (if you have Prime, check out “The Ride: London to Beijing” – fantastic 6-part documentary). I’m not sure I’m actually going to get it, but I very well might, if I can make a decent deal (and, of course, if I like the looks of it). We’ll see.

bmw

It does seem a little odd that a luxury car maker produces a capable off-road motorcycle, but hey, who am I to judge? Honda also makes lawn mowers, after all.

Big Soddy Creek Bridge - click for larger

Big Soddy Creek Bridge, June 2017 – click for larger

There was a little hiking, as well. I returned to the Possum Creek Gorge segment of the CT, and Imodium Falls. I’ve been to Imodium Falls before, on a 15-mile hike coming in from the south at the Heiss Mountain trailhead (where bears can be found). This time, it was 11.5 miles, coming in from the north at the Retro Hughes trailhead, which completed this segment. Next, on to the Rock Creek Gorge segment, but before that, I’ve discovered a newly-mapped trail that will lead to the Big Soddy Creek Bridge without the 10-mile hike from Heiss Mountain Road (and bears) to get there. This was the “locals only” trail that the kids I encountered had come in on; evidently, now it’s an official spur of the CT, and it basically goes from “town” right up the side of the mountain, so of course I’m going to do that. I’ve also read about some climbing walls in the area, so there’s that to check out, as well. Anyway, I’m gonna do that first, then Rock Creek, then maybe back to Sewanee to do Point Disappointment. Unless I buy a BMW motorbike this weekend – if that happens, all bets are off, but there will be some awesome new footage on my YouTube channel.

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Sewanee, AKA The Domain.

sewanee-sign-622
Over the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been exploring the Domain of the University of the South, in Sewanee. I rode my mountain bike up here last year; just a short 18.5ish-mile ride on the Mountain Goat Trail and to a little coffee shop on the campus. For this year’s adventure(s), I started with a 125-mile motorbike ride (Movescount data), basically all over the mountain top and points beyond, including a return to the TGA; my first visit there since spring of 2017, which was in the boat. Just kinda wanted to get familiar with the area, for the adventures to come. It’s handy to know where hospitals and pie can be found, just in case. Since that ride, Mother Nature came on full force, and I haven’t been back on the bike. Maybe this week I can get out – it’ll be cold, but I’ve got the gear (including awesome new motorbike boots (of course)).


Then, hiking. About 75 miles worth, encompassing long trails, caves, waterfalls, topless coeds (noice), pie, injuries, and lots of adventure all over the 13000-acre Domain. More than I care to recap here – let’s just say that I learned a lot. I learned how to do some basic caving (and that my pack was woefully unprepared for such undertakings), I learned to never underestimate a trail, I learned that there’s potential danger around every bend – it goes on. But I’m still on two feet (mostly), and there’s still a little more to explore. You really think I can resist a cave called the “Horror Hole”? Yeah, not likely. There’s only one significant trail remaining that I want to explore, and it looks like it’ll be a tough one – I don’t think they’d call it “Point Disappointment” if it was going to be a walk in the park. We’ll see.

click for larger

There was also a significant adventure nearby, but away from the Domain, at Lost Cove Cave, AKA Buggytop Cave. A huge, spectacular, dangerous cave that was well worth the difficulty getting to it in the first place. After visiting it, I discovered you can actually travel through the cave and come out on top of the bluff that towers above; the cave is closed until May 1 (because bats), but as soon as it’s open, I’ll be back there connecting those dangerous dots. That gives me time to acquire some better gear – I discovered that the 2 flashlights I carry are nowhere near bright enough for a cave of this size.

just inside Buggytop Cave - click for larger

just inside Buggytop Cave – click for larger

Closer to home, there was Glen Falls, on the side of Lookout Mountain very near my old stomping grounds. Only I can turn an easy 1/2 mile trail into a 5-mile challenging hike up and down the side of a mountain.

I also discovered I’ve forgotten how to make my Suunto talk to my phone. Gotta figure it out before the next hike. The watch has all sorts of geotagging/photo stuff I’m not taking advantage of, so I really should re-learn all of that, considering how much I spent on the thing. And speaking of photos, there are lots, all linked below. Check ‘em out. And if the Google brought you here and you have questions about the trails at Sewanee, just ask – I’ve compiled lots of maps and even more experience up there. Not sure what’ll be next, but I have a few things in mind.

Oh, crossed over 35000 miles on my Fitbit, the AppleWatch streak continues, blah, blah. Stuff you don’t care about. And, of course, the Master Activity Map has been dramatically updated to reflect the adventures.

Links:
Sewanee Perimeter Trail Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Solomon’s Temple, Natural Bridge & Buggytop Cave Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Beckwith’s Trail, Piney Point Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Bridal Veil Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Armfield Bluff, Lake Dimmick Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Motorbike Ride Photo Album on Facebook

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Free Churro.

I’m kinda over this. But I guess I at least need to periodically add something here for the lookie-loos, or just so the rabid fanbase (and that’s a l’il joke) doesn’t think I finally stepped in front of a swifty-moving bus. So, here it is. Ta-f*cking-da.

floppyI guess what matters right now is a somewhat dramatic revamp to the Master Adventure Map. Because most of my recent adventuring has been far-flung, I had to significantly expand the adventure radius (more about those adventures below). This was a time-consuming, colossal pain in My Huge Fat Ass™. Additionally, I broke Photoshop. The map is now so huge, it exceeds Photoshop’s max file size, which is 2GB. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s about 3000 floppy disks. And if you’re keeping score at home, and you’re an annoying millennial, a floppy disk is what computers used to use to store stuff – imagine if someone 3D printed a “Save” icon. While I’m blowing your mind with the cutting edge tech, once upon a time, digital cameras used to use floppy disks. You could get 40 whole pictures on the Star Trek-like Sony Mavica, so, y’know, you wouldn’t be able to take an Instagram pic of every Chipotle burrito you ate.

Anyway, the map needed to be updated, and now it has been, Photoshop’s file size limitation be damned (pro tip: if you have a huge PSD file that exceeds the 2GB limit, create a plain blank layer in a single color and put on top of the other layers, then save – that will make the Bridge thumbnail a single color, which will cut the filesize almost in half. To work on the file, just make that layer invisible. You can also rasterize text and other smart objects, providing you don’t need to edit them in the future. Your welcome.).


So, adventures. Some cool stuff, I guess, although I’m not sure if any of it was particularly mind-blowing. Took the motorbike out for a pair of really long rides; 75ish miles up to the hang-gliding park (because I’m looking for a new adventure in the Department of Death-Defying) and 125 miles out to Hooterville, Bugtussle, and points north. No reason, just because I felt like it. Longest ride ever on this bike, and it did great. (Movescount data)

click for larger

click for larger

I’m kinda digging these long motorbike rides. It’s not like being in the Jeep – it’s just me, the bike and the wind. No GPS, no radio, no nothing. It’s very…centering. Of course, it’s kinda cool to group up with a random rider here or there. I’m not big on these large group rides I read about – just like hiking or mountain biking or whatever, when you get more than 2 or 3 people together, there always seems to be issues. But having a rider roll roll up behind me for a few miles is cool. I’m already planning my ride for this weekend (Mother Nature permitting) – should be another good one.

In other adventuring, there was a long hike at Fall Creek Falls; my first ever, which was somewhat profound. Only about 90 minutes away, yet I had never been here before. More specifically, was never taken as a kid. 7 year old me would have loved it. Or 12 year old me. Or whatever. Nonetheless, it was good hiking (Movescount data), and I’m glad I finally went. There’s plenty more to see there, so I’m sure I’ll be back (and the park’s extreme location to the north was one of the main reasons I had to expand the Master Adventure Map; originally, the map only went as far north as Savage Gulf).


Some other hiking, as well. Long hikes at Foster Falls (Movescount data) and Hemlock Falls at Denny Cove (Movescount data), as well as a very challenging hike at Laurel-Snow. I had already done the Snow Falls segment (last year), so this time, it was Laurel Falls (Movescount data), and up and over the bluff face to the Bryan Overlook. One of the toughest hikes I’ve ever done. And, as usual, stupid, dangerous stuff I really shouldn’t be doing. Don’t care. Recent very heavy rains made the waterfalls particularly impressive and the trails incredibly slippery and technical. A couple of the off-trail excursions – well, let’s just say I shouldn’t do sh*t like that. Because *splat*. Hiking in the mountains has always been one of my favorite activities, but I can think of better places to be; I think I could adjust to flat terrain, especially if a beach was involved. Among other things.


Oh, and I also finally did the complete Enterprise South Equestrian Trail (Movescount data). You’ll recall that I did some of the trail a while back, but I went back and did the whole thing, to the tune of 16 miles. It wasn’t an especially compelling hike, but I’m glad I knocked it out; one less thing for the bucket list, which is good, because that sand is running out quickly.

click for larger

click for larger

I’ve also been working on the Jeep, as usual. Replaced the chrome grille and hood badge with black ones, added front off-road lights, added bright-ass yellow brake caliper covers (which look amazing). I’ve got wheel spacers on order and a few other tricks up my sleeves. Awesome.

jeep-622

I still haven’t made my run on the Dragon. The weather has been lousy, and when the weather’s been good, there has been other things in the way. That window is closing quickly – the motorcycle resort closes for the season in November. We’ll see. I did hear that another person was killed on the road there this past weekend (Update: make that two. Sigh.). Is the Universe trying to tell me something? Dunno. Don’t care. Plus, I need to get some cool Killboy photos while I’m up there. Probably not in a bikini – you’re welcome.

killboy

There’s more. In the world of Fitbit, I’m over 53 million steps, and coming up on 35000 miles. I’m at 1045 consecutive days on my AppleWatch, and my 3-year AW anniversary is just about a month away. The leaves are falling, autumn is in the air, and another summer has come and gone, and – well – you know the rest of that. Doesn’t matter; it is what it is. Next summer will be different. One way or another.

Links:
Tree Toppers Flight Park Motorbike Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Fall Creek Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Foster Falls – Denny Cove – Hemlock Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Laurel Falls Photo Album on Facebook

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Tag-A-Long.

Once more, time has slipped away from me. Just too flippin’ busy. Work, adventuring, planning for adventuring, standing in the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart sobbing – the usual. I mean, have you seen those giant Crunch Berries? What about chocolate Frosted Flakes? Frick.

1000There’s been a ton of things happening, and not all of it is sh*t. Probably the most significant is that I finally earned my 1000 badge on my AppleWatch. Yeah, I know – who cares? Just me. But it was a big deal to me. I guess that shows some level of commitment or something. First, I crossed 50 million steps on my Fitbit by my 5-year FB anniversary in June (and FYI, I’m closing in on 52 million now), and now, this. The 1000 day badge is the highest badge the AppleWatch awards, so I guess I’m King of the AppleWatch Fiefdom now – I need to get a sash. That said, as of today, I’m at 992 consecutive days hitting my numbers, so, next Friday, I guess I really will be done. I’ll still go to the gym and what-not, but I think my crazy-ass fitness journey will be coming to an end – which means I’ll probably get run over by a truck.

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click for larger

In fact, I’m actively trying to get run over by a truck. That’s right, I found a trailer for the motorbike, which means I’m ready for my run on the Dragon. Well, almost. I have some rear-facing lights to install on the Jeep, and some running lights to install on the trailer, and all sorts of stuff ordered for the trip, but I’m ready. It’s mostly gonna be up to Mother Nature at this point. But really, I’m just thrilled – the trailer is motorbike-specific; a Kendon Single Stand-Up, and it’s plenty for my bike, without being too much. Pricey, yes, but worth it. So, I’ve installed the OEM trailer hitch and wiring on the Jeep, I’ve done all the work I’ve done on the motorbike, and now I have a trailer, all leading up to one of the most exciting (and dangerous) adventures I’ve been on. Can’t wait. My “dry run” loading the motorbike and driving around with it went perfectly, so brace yourself Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort, because I’m coming.


I’ve actually been kinda training for the ride, as well. Yes, you can train for a motorbike ride – basically, that consists of just getting used to being in the saddle for an extended period and dealing with your ass going to sleep. Or whatever. So, in this case, my training took me to Russell Cave National Monument, down across the Alabama state line. Great ride; about 90 miles round trip, with some fast roads, and some Hooterville-like back roads…


…it wasn’t all sunshine and farts, though – or at least sunshine. The downside to riding a bike is you never know what Mother Nature is gonna throw at you. So, you can be just bopping along in the sun, and suddenly, you’re soaked.


Life of a motorbike jockey. This was actually the first time – ever – I’ve had this bike in the rain, and she did great. Wouldn’t be my first choice, riding in the rain, that is, but at least I know the bike is up for the challenge. Oh, and those jeans? Those are Joe Rocket Accelerator jeans. Kevlar reinforced, internal pockets for knee armor, zippered pockets, reflective stripes. Designed for the motorbike. More expensive than my awesome Calvins, but at least if i go down, I’ll have some protection.

There’s been other stuff, as well, because of course there has been. Last weekend, I crammed more adventure into 2 days than I have in a long time. Saturday, I put the boat in the water, and returned to the Harrison Bay for paddling the old ruins, and hiking on Patten Island and the Bay Point Loop Trail.

It was an awesome day of adventure; 12 miles paddling, with about 1.5 miles in the middle on Patten Island, and then a 5 mile hike. It’s been a while since I did a two-sport day, and this was perfect – a new trail, another island to explore, and perfect weather. And wildlife.


But that was just half the adventure. Sunday, another two-fer, but this time it was mountain biking and hiking, both in new places.

First up, about 8 miles on the mountain bike trails at Booker T. Washington State Park. I grew up near here, and I’ve landed my kayak here in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to the park, and I certainly have never bicycled it. Not a lot of trails, and not super-technical, but still, a nice little ride to start the day.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

After that, a trip to the nearby Summit Knobs Equestrian Trails. I visited the trailhead a few weeks ago on my Enterprise South MTB Ride, but I didn’t actually go on the trail, since bikes are verboten (heh, get it? ESNP is part of VW, which is German – ah, never mind. And, “Klink, I need to be in Brussels in ze morning!”). Aaaanyway, the equestrian trail is about 16 miles R/T, but by afternoon and after an MTB ride, it was too flippin’ hot to do the whole thing. Still, 6 miles; not too shabby.

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

So, if you’re keeping score at home, that’s a long motorbike ride (partly in the rain), a new trailer, 2 hikes, a paddle and a pedal, plus getting the motorbike ready for the Big Adventure. And earning my 1000 badge on the Apple Watch. Therefore, when someone asks you “Who’s the most active person you know?”, you know what to tell them. Right? Right.

Links:
Russell Cave Motorbike Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Harrison Bay Paddle & Hike Photo Album on Facebook
Booker T. MTB Ride & Equestrian Trail Hike Photo Album on Facebook

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Get Off My Lawn.

Ready to be shocked? I’ve been motorcycle shopping. I know, you’re thinking, “Haven’t you been working on your bike for, like, months now?” Well, yeah, I have. I’m looking for something different. An adventure bike. With Harley-Davidson’s recent announcement of their first-ever adventure bike, plus my recent off-road adventures in the Jeep, it’s got me thinking again about how awesome it would be to have an adventure bike. This is a bike that’s street-legal, but is just at home on the trails. I suspect the Harley is gonna be hella overpriced, and besides, it’s not out for another year or two. BMW makes some decent adventure bikes, but I’m not sure I want to spend 10 grand or more on something I’m going to take into the woods and bounce off of trees and sh*t.

himalayan

Then there’s the Royal Enfield Himalayan (above). This is an odd little Indian bike (like, the country, India), but it’s inexpensive (about 5 large), and surprisingly, my local speed shop carries them. It’s a little bigger than 400cc (my Phantom is 750cc), so that’s enough power for what I want to do, and that is poke around in the woods. So, used BMW or similar enduro, or a Royal En. Not sure. But I’m watching the CL; you never know what might show up.

grom

Maybe I should just get a Grom. No, if you ever see me on a Grom, you have my permission to kick me squarely in the you-know-whats, even if I am pulling dank wheelies. Tiny, stupid looking little bikes. And 125cc? That’s just sad. I expect to see lots of them on the Dragon – I think there’s a rental place there or something. I’ll show ‘em what 750cc and straight drag pipes can do.

apes1

Now, in the aforementioned poking of Craig and his List, I’ve seen some things. Not just there, but in all the reading and research I’ve been doing turning my bike from a normie to a rocket. And there are things I just don’t get. Look at that picture above. That’s the same model as my bike. Now, bikes are made to be customized, I get that. What I don’t get are those ridiculous handlebars. They’re called “ape hangers“, and they are about the dopiest thing I’ve seen. Motorcycles are inherently dangerous in the first place, and the fine folks at Harley-Davidson, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, et. al. had their most skilled engineers design handlebars that were comfortable and (relatively) safe. Then some squids come along and put the most unsafe, uncomfortable handlebars they can find on the bike. I don’t get it. Get off my lawn.


Then there’s highway pegs and/or forward controls. These are footpegs that are far forward of the “normal” footpegs, with the intent being that when on the highway and shifting and braking are less frequent, you can stretch out. Jesus Christ, look at that video. Ape hangers? Check. Forward controls? Check. A face-bandana as if he’s about to stick up an old-timey train carrying the silver mine payroll? Check. Does that look even remotely comfortable? It’s like the Marquis de Sade designed a motorbike. On top of it being stupid uncomfortable, you’re also going to throw off the center of mass of the bike, and have a much longer reaction time to potholes, road gators (that’s what we cool people call truck tires that have come apart and are laying in the road – and they are death to a motorcyclist) and other obstacles. But hey, at least you look (allegedly) cool, right? Screw those engineers that designed your bike for the optimum riding position. And get off my lawn.

saddle

Lastly, in the video and the photo up top, what else do you see? May not be as obvious to a non-rider, but it’s clear to me. The saddle. Both of those bikes have what’s called a “solo saddle”, for obvious reasons. Hey, the whole reason you learn to ride a motorbike in the first place is to meet girls (well, unless you ride a Grom). Seriously, don’t give me that, “Oh, it’s all about the freedom” or any of that bullshit. It’s girls. You know it, I know it. They know it. You’re just embarrassing yourself if you claim anything else. So, what’s the point of meeting them if you can’t take them for a spin? Seriously, that I don’t get. In the photo immediately above – that’s my bike – you can see that not only do I have a passenger seat, I replaced mine with that crazy-ass-expensive one that’s dramatically more comfortable than the stock seat, and even added a backrest for comfort and safety. It’s like the Dooney & Bourke of motorbike saddles. So, line forms to the left, ladies – just stay off my lawn.

And in something unrelated to anything – but cool, nonetheless – A Flock of Seagulls just reunited and re-recorded their 1982 hit Space Age Love Song; one of my favorite tunes from the New Wave. It’s awesome – a full orchestra makes almost everything better. I want this played at my wedding. Or funeral. Something.

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Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub.

Too busy. Too much going on. I’m not even sure I can cover it all here, so I guess this is just going to be the abridged version. You’re welcome; no one wants to hear me babbling anyway. But we’ve got kayaking! We’ve got mountain biking! We’ve got motorbiking! We’ve got Jeepin’! We’ve got it all, kids, courtesy of me, the Most Active Person You Know™.

Nightfall

Finally got to hang out with the cool kids.

Maclellan Island

A little paddling (the first actual paddle of the season), and a first-ever flight here.


Links:
North Shore Paddling Photo Album on Facebook
North Shore Paddling Map on MovesCount

Williams Island Paddle

Two days, two paddles, two islands.


Links:
Williams Island Paddling Photo Album on Facebook
Williams Island Paddling Map on MovesCount

Tennessee/Alabama Cycling

The Jeep had a mystery noise (turned out it was a drive shaft bearing; new drive shaft installed under warranty), so while it was being mended, I rode from South Pittsburg to Bridgeport to New Hope. Not a bad ride.


Links:
Tennessee/Alabama Cycling Photo Album on Facebook
Tennessee/Alabama Cycling Map on MovesCount

Enterprise South Mountain Bike Ride

38 miles from ESNP to Harrison, my old neighborhoods, and points beyond, plus some actual MTB trails. Side note, there’s a pretty interesting article about the munitions plant that was where Enterprise South and VW currently reside – read it here.


Links:
Enterprise South Mountain Biking Photo Album on Facebook
Enterprise South Cycling Map on MovesCount

Insurance Bluffs

Some driving around in the woods at the PCSF, plus some good flying at Insurance Bluffs.


Link:
Insurance Bluffs/PCSF Photo Album on Facebook

That was a pretty succinct recap, even for my hydro-electric squirrel factory.

bike-filtered-622

There’s been other stuff, as well. Notably (to me, anyway) is that I finally got the lighting working the way i want on the motorbike. I think I mentioned that I was going to have to replace the bucket to install LED lighting; well, I did it, and it worked better than I could have hoped. In conjunction with the LED light bar I installed, when I hit the “bright” switch, I can be seen from space, which was the exact goal. My motorbike peeps wanted a detailed how-to, so here that is.

I’m sure there’s more, but really, most of you have probably nodded off by now, so I’m just gonna call this “updated” and leave it there. Lots of activity coming though – watch this space.

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Fixing a Hole.

I’ve been busy. Not with adventuring, but with adventuring-prepping. As I’ve mentioned, a trip to Deal’s Gap is in my very near future (where, sadly, there has been 3 motorbike-related deaths in the past 2 weeks). So, I’m missing the hiking trails, and I’m really missing putting the boat in the water, but this stuff is important. To me, anyway.

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You’ll recall that part of the plan was to put a new hitch on the Jeep, so I could trailer the motorbike. Well, it’s done. And surprisingly, no major screw-ups. It was a project, though. Step one, I bought a tent, so I could work in the shade, or if one of the frequent pop-up showers occurs. Smart move. It didn’t rain (although it threatened), but the shade was awesome. Worth the 80 bucks.

Then, I had to take the entire back of the Jeep apart, and remove the factory bumper and the aftermarket hitch I added last year. Not a huge deal, just methodical. What was a huge deal was cutting a hole in the bumper fascia – you know, a big-ass hole in my still-practically-new-Jeep. This was one of those “you get one chance to do it right” things. Stunningly, I did it right. Not even a lot of swearing. After adding the new hitch, and putting everything back together, just a matter of doing the electrical work. Also not especially hard, just time-consuming. And, like the adding the hitch, everything worked on the first try – it was a chore, though, requiring taking apart much of the interior and dash in the exact right order, and putting it al back together in the exact right opposite order. Since I had to go to all that trouble anyway, I went ahead and did the wiring for a rear-facing dashcam, just like the one I have up front. The new camera will be here tomorrow, but I have no reason to think that won’t work.

I’m still toying with the whole brush guard & winch thing. I’d like to add this, but it’s just so flippin’ expensive – right around 2 grand, including installation. I may never actually need a winch, but that one time, it could save me if I’m deep in the woods. I dunno. Gotta kick that around some more.

cherokee-kl-front

I did go ahead and order some mudguards for the Jeep, as well. It’s one of those things that’s been on my list. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of variety out there, and it looks like they may be a little bit of a pain to install, but I’m all cocky now, so I’m sure I can handle it.

I art things.

I art things.

Then, there’s all the work on the motorbike. I’ve done so much recently, I can’t even keep it all straight, and the UPS/FedEx/USPS people must all think I’ve either hit the lottery or lost my mind (here’s a hint: I haven’t hit the lottery). The Mustang saddle, the Road Burner pipes, the luggage rack, the LED glow lighting; it never ends. My most recent additions have been the Kuryakyn floorboards (awesome), and I’m working on the forward lighting. I replaced the driving light bulbs (the small lights on each side of the main headlamp) with more powerful LED lights. I also added an LED light bar below the headlamp (not pictured), which I wired up to come on when I hit the “bright” switch. Really cool, if I do say so myself. Then, of course, things got complicated. I intended to add a very powerful LED light in the main headlamp, but the thing wouldn’t fit. LED mains have a heatsink, a fan and a ballast, and all of that wouldn’t fit in the Phantom’s bucket (the headlamp assembly). So, I have a new, larger bucket on order; everything will definitely fit in it, and it looks cool – it’ll just be a matter of whether or not I can figure out a way to mount it. We’ll see when it arrives.

There’s been a few other things – building out my tool kits (so I don’t get stuck on the side of the road), tinkering with my GoPro mounts, adding some leather brake/clutch covers. There’s one or two more things I’d like to do before the Dragon, but really, nothing else that’s necessary. So, within a few weeks’ time, I’ll be heading north – hopefully, not to become another statistic.

Link:
Jeep Hitch Install Photo Album on Facebook

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Five Years and a lot of Flippin’ Steps Ago…

Welp, today is my 5-year FitBit anniversary, which is going to somewhat signify a standing down of my constant, obsessive number tracking. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to go to the gym, I’m still going to eat healthy, but my competitive days are done. I’ve left all the FitBit groups I was in, “unfriended” FitBit friends who I didn’t actually know IRL. I think I accomplished what I set out to accomplish, and now seems to be as good a time as any to dial it back a little.

So, without further adieu, here are the totals.

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I really don’t have anything to add to that – I think the numbers speak for themselves.

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I’m still going to chase the AppleWatch goal, just because I’m so close. The “1000 Day” badge is the highest they have, and I’m only 58 days away from that. Furthermore, only 70 days from doing 1000 consecutive days hitting all my numbers. I can do 70 more days standing on my head. Once I hit that, then I’ll really start standing down – so, watch this space until August.

And in a last act of numerology, today was my 1234th check-in at the gym. I’ve been much more that that; Swarm didn’t become a thing until well after I started that regimen. Still, a little synchronicity.

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In other, more exciting (to me) news, the new Road Burner pipes I ordered finally showed up today. Miraculously, I was able to install them without too much fuss, despite it being about a million degrees out there today. My initial impression is that I love these pipes. Love. Them. They look awesome, and they sound like…well, they sound like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Fo’ realz. By the time I was done, I was too wiped out to get out on the open road; the open road will still be there in the morning. But really, I’m super-pleased. Not just with the pipes themselves, but that I was able to install them single-handedly. Having mad skills is one of my less tangible qualities – I guess. I’m handy with a screwdriver, anyway.

Tomorrow, I’ll get the LED glow lighting I ordered, and with that, the bike will be ready for the Dragon. Of course, I still have to install the new hitch on the Jeep; I guess that’ll be a project for next weekend. See the aforementioned mad skills.

In the meantime, if it sounds like the world is about to end, don’t worry – it’s probably just me.

Link:
New Pipes Install Photo Album on Facebook

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Hitchin’ A Ride.

I’ve kinda been on a shopping bender lately. All the stuff I’ve previously mentioned for the motorbike (and the new drag exhaust will be here this Friday – evidently, it took longer to fabricate than originally expected; but it left LA yesterday), and stuff for the Jeep. Everything with the target of riding the Dragon in a month or so.

I made the decision that the aftermarket trailer hitch I bought last year when I first got the Jeep just wasn’t going to cut it. Sure, it works OK as a place to mount my mountain bike carrier, but if I’m going to pull an actual trailer with my actual motorcycle on it, something better is required. Plus – as I found out this past weekend – the aftermarket one just hangs too low; I drug it several times while crawling over rocks and stuff.

Aftermarket and factory.

Aftermarket and factory.

So, I ordered the factory hitch receiver, wiring harness and bumper fascia. As you can see from the (generic stock) photos, the factory hitch is so much better. It sits inside the bumper, versus hanging a good 6 inches below, and because of the way it mounts, it’s dramatically stronger. That said, it’s going to be complicated. The dealer was going to charge in the neighborhood of $700 to install everything; for that, I’ll do it myself. Basically, the entire back end of the Jeep has to come off, as well as many of the interior panels to run the wiring harness for the trailer lights (and because of that, I also ordered a hard-wire kit for an eventual rear-facing dashcam like I installed in the front so I can do it all at once). Not going to be easy, but I love a good project. I already received the fascia bezel; the hitch will be here today, and the wiring later this week. I’ve had many of my Jeep peeps ask me for a detailed post-mortem, so I’ll probably just document everything here.

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But first things first. The new pipes for the motorbike. I’m excited to get them put on, not just because it’s another hands-on project for me, but it’s going to (hopefully significantly) boost the horsepower, which will be great on the Dragon. That, and they just look so much better than the stock chrome pipes. From what I’ve seen on YT, they sound better, as well.

Speaking of YT, this:

I bought some new GoPro mounts for the trip. A 360 degree swivel mount, so I can rotate the camera while driving, and a mount to put the camera on the new crash bars, for an interesting perspective. I’m pretty pleased with the results so far.

So, the next week is going to be busy with my projects, and superbusy™ with work. The big show is coming up, as well as a major evolution at the Dallas datacenter that’s too complex to explain, but is going to result in some all-nighters. Hopefully, by July, things will be back to normal, and I can start making concrete plans for my adventure. Fingers crossed.

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