9.30.2014

Just a Nice Sunday Ride to The Airport Diner

On Sunday, I rode to the Airport Diner in Fredericksburg, Texas with a few Gruene HOG chapter members. We didn’t start out thinking we’d be going to the Diner but it’s where we ended up. Our original destination was the Alamo Springs Café for what is claimed to be one of the best burgers in Texas.  I say claimed because when we got there it was closed.  Apparently, the owners were leaving for vacation on Monday and had been trying to conserve meat…they ran out on Saturday.  This was my second foiled attempt to try their burgers.  On my first visit, they were closed because of a blown transformer and no electricity.
The great thing about riding is many times the destination is secondary to the ride itself.  It took about an hour and a half to ride the 70 miles from Gruene Harley-Davidson to the Alamo Springs Café.  Clear skies and cooler temperatures (mid-80s) made for a great Fall ride in the Texas Hill Country.  FM473 and Old #9 Highway Road were particularly fun with some nice curves and beautiful views. 

There were a lot of motorcyclists out taking advantage of the weather.  I saw an equal number of sport bikes and cruisers sharing the road.  Some shared better than others.  Sadly, stereotypes were likely reinforced based on our encounter with a couple riding sport bikes.  While cruising along on Old #9 Highway at or slightly above the posted speed limit, two sport bikes blew past our Sweep and cut into our formation right behind our Lead, then laid back on the throttle and blew past him on a tight curve. 

Not more than three minutes later we pulled into the parking lot at the Alamo Café.  Guess  who was there? The sport bike riders that had just past us.  Our Sweep wasted no time telling them what he thought about their riding and called them a few choice names.  I’m sure they walked away thinking Harley riders are assholes…while several in our group walked away thinking sport bike riders are reckless speed freaks.  Talk about awkward.

After everyone regained their composure, we decided to try the Airport Diner and off we rode.  Old #9 Highway was closed a mile or so north of the Alamo Café but the detour was clearly marked so we had no
The Airport Diner...Friendly Staff, Great Food
trouble making our way to US 290 and into Fredericksburg.  We cut across Friendship Lane to SH16 and rode southwest for a half-mile before turning towards the Gillespie County Airport.   As we pulled into the parking lot, I was impressed.  On the right was the Hanger Hotel and on the left another hanger that housed the Conference Center and Diner.  It was like walking back in time.  The Hanger Hotel resembled an old World War II hanger complete with large billboard graced by pretty pin-up girl worthy of being nose art on any WWII bomber.  The inside of the Diner was just as period authentic as the hotel with airplane art adorning the walls and models of WWII fighter aircraft hanging from the ceiling.

We sat down and were quickly waited on.  The menu was chock full of items with names like Bomber Burger, P-40 Warhawk,  Officer’s Club, and Flying Tiger.  I ordered the Officer’s  Club and boy was it tasty.  Everyone in our group was happy with their food, except one…and he ordered the Huevos Rancheros.  It doesn’t get much better than a great ride followed by great food.  I’ll definitely go back again.

Just Outside the Hanger Hotel
After a leisurely lunch punctuated by great food and service, I split from the group to head home by the most expeditious route available.  I picked-up US 87 and made a beeline for the super slab.  It’s amazing how fast you can get somewhere when you’re going 80 miles an hour.  I made it home in just over an hour and a half and that included a gas stop and a stop at Wal-Mart to pick-up some medicine for my granddaughter.  I may be strange, but I enjoy riding the Interstate almost as much as I like riding the back roads.  What a great day!

Where did you ride last weekend?  Wherever it was I hope you remembered to:  Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy.

9.16.2014

No Ifs, Ands, or Monkey Butts...Real Solutions for the Pain in Your Ass

Most folks are uncomfortable talking about their bums.  I’ve ridden with a lot of people and not one them has ever started a conversation with me about how sweaty and scalded their butt gets on a long ride.  I suppose it’s not the most appropriate topic of discussion while dining. Nevertheless, if we’re being honest, it is a problem most motorcycles riders have experienced at one time or another.

These Monkey Butts...Just Look Painful
I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve experienced monkey butt on a few occasions.  Most notably on Iron Butt rides when I’m in the saddle for extended periods…and on shorter rides when the temperature starts to climb.  On long rides especially, it can become so uncomfortable that I can barely stay in the saddle.  After my Saddlesore 2000 (2000 miles in less than 48 hours) in May, I told myself I had to find something to “fix” the problem.
 
While I may not have found the ultimate “fix”, I have found a couple of products and learned a few things that have helped tremendously…maybe they’ll help you too.

A Soft Saddle Is Not Your Friend

A soft and cushy saddle provides less contact area for your butt and doesn’t distribute your weight evenly causing increased pressure on your sitz bones (ischial tuberosities).   This increased pressure translates to an uncomfortable and painful ride.  A firmer saddle will provide more contact area and distribute your weight
Ischial Tuberosities (see blue dots)
more evenly allowing you to stay in the saddle longer without pain. 

I’ve ridden more than 20K miles on a Corbin Dual Tour and I can say without hesitation, the firmer saddle is more comfortable and less painful than my stock seat.  Unfortunately, a firmer saddle in and of itself won’t prevent monkey butt...but it will provide a good foundation to start from.

Moisture Is The Enemy

 A major causal factor for monkey butt is moisture in the form of perspiration.  With little-to-no air circulation your butt basically marinates in your own sweat (I know it’s not pretty).  The longer your sit in this marinade, the more irritated and tender your backside becomes.  The key to preventing this culinary nightmare (i.e. monkey butt) is to minimize moisture.

Spays and Powders


Sprays and Powders Absorb Moisture

Spays and powders are especially useful when the temperature and humidity are high.  Most talcum-based powders and spays will help by reducing friction and absorbing moisture.  Although I haven’t personally tried it, one such powder is Anti Monkey Butt Powder.  Anti-Monkey Butt Powder has received good reviews from other bikers and is available at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and H.E.B (if you live in Texas).  The main drawback of powders is they can be messy and if you use too much you might leave powdery butt prints wherever you sit. 

I didn’t like the idea of potentially leaving “evidence” behind so I tried Gold BondClassic Powder Spray.  Overall, the Gold Bond Spray did a good job of keeping me dry and I would recommend it.  However, be forewarned, the Classic has menthol and the burning sensation it caused in my nether regions wasn’t pleasant...in fact, it gave the Jerry Lee song, “Great Balls of Fire” a whole new meaning. If you’re into that sort of thing, use the Classic; otherwise, go with the Gold Bond Fresh Powder Spray. Gold Bond products are available at Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and a whole host of other retail establishments.



Wicking Fabrics

Another tool to minimize moisture is wicking fabrics. These fabrics help control moisture by drawing it away from your skin so that it can evaporate more quickly.  In the past, I’ve worn UnderArmor as it’s one of the better-known “performance” fabrics.  In cooler weather and on shorter rides, Under Armor works well and will help keep you dry.  However, on longer rides where you spend a lot of time in the saddle and when the temperatures start to rise, Under Armor doesn’t wick the moisture away fast enough…and eventually it becomes saturated.  Once saturated, it effectively losses it wicking properties.

LD Comfort
After reading numerous positive reviews posted by other long distance riders, I purchased a pair of LD Comfort underwear.  These underwear have a few unique features and have proven themselves in the Texas heat.  Unlike Under Armor, LD Comfort underwear is comprised of two-layers.  The inner layer stays dry while transferring the moisture to the outer layer where it has more time to dry through evaporation.   LD Comfort underwear also have a “roo-fly” (think kangaroo pouch) that makes pit stops much easier and more efficient.  Although they were a little pricey at $45 + $9 shipping/handling, they do work and I can understand why so many Iron Butt Rally participants sing their praises.  At some point, riding comfort becomes priceless.

One note of caution when it comes to mixing sprays/powders and wicking garments.  Don’t think like I did that using both the Gold Bond Spray and wearing LD Comfort underwear will result in a drier ride.  As the spray powder absorbs moisture it clogs-up the wicking material and negates its benefits…making it feel like you’ve got a tropical rain forest in your pants.  When wearing wicking underwear, spays and powders can make things worse.  Don’t do it.

Look For Improved Airflow

If moisture is the enemy when it comes to monkey butt, improved airflow just might be your best friend.  You’d think air flow would never be a problem on a motorcycle.  Except in this case, you’re sitting on your butt and there’s no space for air to travel between your pants and the saddle.  It seems logical that improved airflow when combined with wicking underwear or the use of spray/powder would increase the rate of evaporation and result in a drier and maybe even cooler ride.
BeadRider

While there are several products on the market that help improve airflow, several of my riding buddies say Bead Rider in one of the best.  I’ve ordered one and can’t wait to try it out.  The Bead Rider elevates you approximately a half inch, allowing air to pass between your butt and the seat.  You sit on a woven pattern of wooden or ceramic beads.  The company says, the Bead Rider improves airflow, helps to distribute your weight over a larger area, and keeps your butt from getting wet when it rains…all of which should help prevent monkey butt.

No Two Butts Alike

Preventing or minimizing monkey butt requires some trial and error.  What works for one may not work for another.  However, by using the information provided here you should be able to determine the best solution for you.  Remember, minimize/eliminate moisture with wicking fabrics or powders and spays, improve the airflow to your backside to aid in evaporation, and find a saddle that distributes your weight evenly.  When all these things come together properly, monkey butt will no longer be a pain your ass.

If you found this post to be useful and/or mildly entertaining, please share it…and as always, Live Free. RideHard. Be Happy!

9.02.2014

Casen's First Ride

My grandson, Casen,  liked his motorcycle rocker and I was proud of how it turned out.  I hope it will stay in the family for a long, long time.  I thought this was an appropriate way to commemorate his "first" ride. 

Who knows, I may have ignited a passion for riding in a whole new generation. 


video


This is what Living Free, Riding Hard, and Being Happy is all about!

8.29.2014

I'll Always Be Able to Ride, Right?

Recently friend and fellow moto-blogger Tina Walker asked herself the the question, “What if I couldn’t ride a motorcycle anymore?”  I asked myself that question  and then quickly dismissed it thinking, “I’ll always be able to ride.”   That thought may have been a little short sighted on my part because I found out earlier this week that I have moderate carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands.
 
You Can't Ride Without Them!
I’ve known for a long time that something wasn’t quite right because my fingers would routinely go numb and my hands would ache. Over the past few months, the numbness and pain have become more frequent and intense.  So much so, that I sometimes wake-up in the middle of the night feeling like my hands and forearms are on fire.  After more than a few restless nights, I decided it was time to see a doctor.   After listening to my “symptoms” and performing a quick exam, the doc said I most likely had carpal tunnel syndrome and then referred me to a neurologist for a nerve conduction study.

If you enjoyed putting a fully charged 9-volt battery on your tongue as a kid, you’d love a nerve conduction study.  I lay on the exam table for an hour as the neurologist placed sensors on both hands and forearms and used what looked like a mini stun gun to “stimulate” my nerves and muscles. It was a shocking experience, literally. It didn’t really hurt, but it was uncomfortable.  When the neurologist was finished, he told me my median nerve was damaged and that I would likely need carpal tunnel release surgery on both hands.  He referred me to an orthopedic surgeon to discuss treatment options.

I have an ortho appointment in two-weeks and to say the least I’m nervous about it.  It’s a little ironic given my last post was titled “Don’t Let Fear be a Factor forYou.”  At this point, my biggest fear is how surgery will affect my ability to ride.  I don’t know what the ortho folks will say but after doing a little research, I’ve learned it can take three months or longer to return to your normal activities after surgery.  Anything that requires heavy use of the hands is off-limits.  I think riding a motorcycle falls squarely in this category.
   
Being unable to ride for three months or more is a scary thought because it’s become such an important part of my life over the past few years.  I cannot adequately describe the sense of peace and freedom I feel when I’m on my bike.  It is truly indescribable. When I’m not riding, I’m obsessed with planning my next ride. Strangely enough, the prospect of not being able to ride makes me think of it even more.

I wish I had given Tina’s question more thought at the time, but even now, I don’t have an answer. The thought of not being able to ride makes me sad.  Over the next few months, I may have to face the realityof not being able to ride.  When and if that time comes, I’ll deal with it the best I can knowing it should only be temporary.  I hope my love of riding will serve as a motivator to get me back in the saddle as quickly as possible.

If you’ve dealt with carpal tunnel or had carpal tunnel release surgery, I’d really be interested in hearing about your experiences…good and bad.  You can leave a comment or send me an e-mail.  Your perspective is appreciated. Thanks!