Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bowling - off topic

Yes, this is sotra out-of-the-blue... but I have started bowling as a pastime to share with my singifacent other.   And we enjoy it.  Three times each week.  Pretty much Sunday, Wedesday and Friday.  Friday is with a group which is a weekly gatherig, but not a league.

Being my techie-self, I'm getting into the stats and tracking everything that I can.  Every roll documented.  Where did I stand?  Where did I hit the arrows?  Where did the ball hit the pins?
My tally sheet (which I will post) I record everything.  

So today, about 10 weeks into our experience, we bowled at Southern Il Bowl and find that the lanes are bone dry... NO oil at all.   (Bowling alleys now groom lanes like golf courses groom the greens.  Daily oil is spread in an interesting pattern that coats the vinyl 'boards' to withstand the impact of th balls, and make the balls track in a more complicated pattern that the historic wood lanes.

We could insert  a book of dialog here, but let's just jump past that to say that the lanes had tremendous grip and the "hook" was unreal.

Anyway... adding bowling to our lifestyle is something we think is going to be portable and a way to meet more people as we travel...   We also have a bocce ball set for fair-weather days.

Nice to have variety!    Happy Trails!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy Straps

Have you heard these mentioned?  Do you know
the real reason they keep you happy?

For the most part, people think that the fabric straps used to secure your tie-downs to your bike are called "happy" because they are soft and cushy and they don't a)scratch the chrome, b) crush or rip off the nearby cables and wires or c) keep the tie-down industry suppliers happy because you must spent another $x.xx's on a product that everybody has but you are clueless as to why...

After 40+ years of hauling bikes in everything from trucks to bumper hangers (1976 Bultaco Sherpa-T on my similar vintage Mercedes diesel sedan...) My buddy Michael Manns showed me how these straps are to be used to keep you and your bike happy.

At the GS Giant Stampede rally in the Big Horn Mts. of Wyo this summer, Mike's bike met with a rock and limped back to camp in 1st gear.  Being 150 miles from the next destination in Billings, MT, and knowing that I was hauling my BMW G650GS on the deck of the toy-hauler... Mike Gave me a hug and asked, "Kurtz, old buddy, old friend, (assumed, regardless of actuality) Can I borrow your bike tomorrow?"  I inquired about the details of how he suddenly loved my dirt demon... he explained his delima.   

So my, now highly esteemed, bike moves to Michael's domain and he rides his bike up onto the deck.  His first question was, as he stared up the ramps, "You think it will hold me?"  I, of course, answered "Sure!"  (turn on the cameras...)   Mike pops the clutch and launches his bike up the 36" lift in 7.32 ' and onto the deck.

We then proceed to add the tie-downs and Mike comes around the trailer to show me how it is correctly done!  I had found a sturdy frame piece on the bike and hooked an s-hook over it.  Then I anchored the other end of the ratches strap to an anchor point on the frame of the trailer.

"STAND BACK," Mike utters...   He then proceeds to re-route the "happy straps" to loop over and around the s-hooks.  The strap around the bike was not his concern...   The S-hook was the secret.

Given heavy bikes, rough roads, bouncing trailers and suspensions that give...  Mike showed me how an s-hook could fall free from it's purchase (anchor point, mount...) and leave the cargo unattached from the trailer.  Here's how he routed the straps:

 Long version:  These straps have a loop at each end of the strap (photo to be added.)  After wrapping the strap around the handlebars/frame piece, anchor point, put both loops through the "eye" of the s-hook.  Then pull the loops far enough through that they can be hooked over the s-hook itself.

Now the tension on the strap(s) can be completely released by bounces or jolts and the connection will not come apart.  As soon as whatever josteling of the cargo has finished, the straps and hooks are secure and the load is restrained...

Keep your straps happy, and that, my dear, keeps you, your bike and the American public happy.

Also:  If the straps are pulled over or around a square corner, be certain to cushion trhe corner with a rag or cardboard to prefent fraying of the strap.  (Yes, the yellow straps in the images are cheapo... sorry)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Started working on my presentation outline for 2016. Will see you first at Americade in June, Lake George, NY.

2016 - Two-up and a toy hauler - Relationship Management Thursday 10AM - Friday at 1 PM

Full-time MC traveler meets non-rider g/f to take on the challenges of sharing the road(s).

The story of how we spent 15 weeks and 10,000 miles of 2015 sharing scenery, friends and much wine, while managing to evolve from six-wheels (one Toyota and one bike) to ten-wheels and combinations there-of.  To be discussed: traveling vs vacationing and vehicle management.

Jeff Kurtz retired into a life of full-time M/C touring, only to find that the missing relationship was only 53,000 miles ahead.  As a retired engineer (gadget-guy) turned photojournalist, he blogs at and enjoys BMW dual-sporting where ever the gravel leads him.  This is his third year at Americade with new stories and his girlfriend in tow (figuratively speaking.)

To be continued.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Travel Planning - Winter I

Working from tourist guides and address books... We ar mapping out a trip to the Southwest for January and February.   Will depart in about a week, maybe the 12th after Donna's book club meeting (she picked the book this month...) and will be out about 4 - 6 weeks.

Will keep updating the map (live view<<<) with destinations and finish with doing dot-to-dot to choose the routes.  This trip is in the truck with the bike on board.  

Along the way will put notes together for this year's presentations titles "Two-Up in a toy hauler", the story of a relationship with a non rider.  A constant evolution with many interesting discussions.   

Recent topics:  Take Romeo or not?   Take camper or not?  Set an end date or not?  Does Donna learn to drive the truck? 


  • Romeo stays home so no concerns for pet-friendly requirements.
  • Camper stays home.  Not going to worry about weather with a tornado magnet in tow.
  • Length of stay... to be determined.  I just canceled a conference in MD for mid-Feb.  
Target places:  Tourist stuff, BMW Dealers, friends, photo opps.

Using the My Google Maps tool, we're making "layers" for categories of destinations.  It's a handy tool for several reasons.
  • Search function uses google to pinpoint locations and allow them to be added.
  • Uses layers to post similar locations by type or purpose... Has icons for different types of locations.   Each layer can be turned on or off as needed.
  • Directions can be mapped into the page, again, by specific layers.

Will update this thread as things progress.  Map updated 1/10/16.  Route coming together.  Planning first three nights in Memphis.  Musical Historic bus tour goes at 10:30 am.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Day ride, 2016

Just to get myself back in the habit... I headed out at 11:00 am (35 degrees) figuring that the frost would have left the pavement and the heated gloves would do the trick...  Yes to dry pavement.  Yes to heated gloves, until about 3PM.  Lithium batteries kept the fingers toasty until my fuel stop.  After that I could feel a chill working its way into my body, but not enough to spoil the afternoon.

One of the things I wanted to do was follow the "wine trail loop" that I had mapped on google maps last month.  Some of the route I had seen from the car.  The others I found on Google Maps by connecting the dots between wineries and landmarks.   Worked pretty well... except for leaving home with only one gallon of fuel in the tank.  Adds to the adventure, and the reputation...

As long as I was traveling somewhere new, I turned on a bunch of tracking devices to see how they would compare... and let my honey see where my phone was... just in case.

Here's the original plan...   Heading from home in top right counterclockwise and finishing in the middle of nowhere... until further planning.

Here's the actual result, as shown on the BackCountryGPS app.  Results can be filed directly in your Google Drive account. Tracks with waypoints and photos are also stored and can  be downloaded from your phone to your computer. 

I also used my Spot Tracker, RealtimeGPS phone app and Rever phone app. 
BackCountry (imho) gives me the best visual result of where I have been. You can change the backgground from topo to mapquest and others, depending on your need.  When hiking the topo gives you good perspective on the mountains and valleys ahead.  BackCountry takes some time to learn.  Check the online training to get yourself started.  I'm using the paid version which is about $12. The maps can be downloaded in advance in case you loose cell service.  The app will run off-line using GPS and stored maps.

 Rever is really easy to use.  I have the free version.  Paid app is about $5/month.  The resulting map is pretty accurate and it lets you see your data while you're traveling.  The resulting maps are stored in the app and also can be accessed to "ride this route" later.

Spot Tracker

This shot is the result from my Spot Tracker.   One position every ten minutes.  No trail, but it has live online viewing by your friends and several pre-programmable message settings for emergencies or "all clear"  info to your contacts.   The GPS positions can be downloaded for use in other programs, but it's clumsy to do that and only accessible online.   Spot tracking is a out $150/year.
Where am I

This view is from .

This online service takes your Spot Tracker data and connects the dots.  It's a way to see where you have been but, as with Spot Tracker, doesn't tell you how you got there. The service is free.

Last on my list is, which has the RealTimeGPS app. (free) It runs an online track in real-time that is great for spectators to follow riders during an event.  It updates every 10 seconds or so as long as your device is moving.   What you see here is the 4 hour trail that comes with the free version.  There's not much history at the end of the day, but when viewers click on your icon they not only see your GPS location but your MPH speed and time at that location are shown.  We used this data to follow riders on the LA-Barstow-Vegas event for two years now.   One rider lost his phone in the mountains and a guy went out a week later and tracked it down from the data.

There you go...   My vote goes to BackCountry for the best to have in your hand and to Rever for simplicity.

That being said... here are the photos from the day!  

Travel safe.   and Happy New Year!!!!!!

Pomona Natural Bridge (gravel in and out)

Boderline out of gas

Little Grassy Lake

Flood at Pomona Winery

Stone Fort Bluff