What’s even more amazing is the last time I had our Harley Road King, Blue II, out for a ride was on December 13th! Yes indeed, the weather and holidays have once again conspired to consume our available weekend riding time – for motorcycles as well as bicycles – since back as far as November.
As I think back to when I first moved to Georgia in 1991 I seem to recall that this type of harsh weather pattern seemed to be a norm for the first several years, well into the end of the last Century; boy, does that sound weird and make me feel old! For the better part of the next decade (2000-2010) we were treated to very mild winters, the kind of weather that I expected to have living in the Deep South. However, beginning in 2011 the winters seemed to be progressively more winter-like with cold, wet and sometimes snowy weather from December – March, and lots of wet weather into April and May.
Anyway, in anticipation of warmer temps and getting Miss Debbie out on Blue II for a couple of rides on Sat & Sun, I left the BMW R1100S Boxer Cup at home and took the Road King to work on January 28th just to get the cobwebs off. It felt really good to be back on the big touring bike vs. the sport bike, if only for the sheer joy of variety.
However, even though Blue II had been on the Battery Tender I was reminded the bike still has the OEM battery that was installed at the factory way back in June 2012 when it took her about 3 times as long to fire as usual. Remembering how modern batteries seem to give you very little warning before they crap-out, I went in search of a replacement for the OEM-spec 66010-97C battery. I considered putting in a ‘better’ aftermarket battery that would have more cold cranking power and be about 40% less expensive than the OEM 66010-97C, but my awesome service advisor Kelly at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta suggested sticking with the OEM model since I had an Extended Service Plan on Blue II.
It was, as always, sound advice. Moreover, I will volunteer that I was very impressed how the stock 66010-97C battery that’s been sitting in Blue II was still working quite well for a four-year old battery. The same model 66010-97C battery in Blue I had also been going strong at 3.5 years w/18,000 miles. So, I was not too worried about getting short-changed with the OEM 66010-97C battery I found on ebay for $125 with an Aug ’15 born-on date. Well, it actually turns out what I bought was a ‘Lot of two’ 66010-97C batteries so it was a great deal as my buddy Ryan and his ‘110th Anniversary Ultra can use the other one.
The day began as a work-from-home morning after I uncharacteristically slept in long enough that I didn’t even get to see Miss Debbie off to work. Once I had most of my work done I began to knock out a few errands: picking up my dry-cleaning, banking, getting a few things at Home Depot for small projects back at the house and a quick visit to Costco for other bulk quantity provisions. As we do on all of my work-from-home / off-Fridays, Debbie and I met for lunch at The Red Eye Mule: we are indeed creatures of habit.
My afternoon included a few more errands but it also included a short bicycle ride from the house and that was huge. It’s been rare for me to make time to get in a bicycle ride on an off-Friday so this was quite special. Of course, part of the motivation was having a chance to do a shake-down ride on a bicycle that I just recently assembled from a formerly retired frame and parts pulled from a frame that is going into storage. Details on the bicycle and shake-down ride are in my other blog. Friday afternoon also included a short work-out in the weight / exercise room after my bicycle ride and then work on the aforementioned small projects around the house before Miss Debbie returned home and then it was off to Loco Willy’s for our Finally a Friday gathering.
Willy’s was a good time as always and we deviated from our usual pattern by having ribs instead of the fajitas. It just didn’t feel like a fajita night and the ribs were out of this world delicious. From there it was home where we sat down, relaxed and watched Guardians of the Galaxy on the BluRay box.
Saturday’s first order of business was making the 50-minute drive over to the Great American Motorcycle Show at the North Atlanta Trade Center in Norcross, Georgia, an annual event for us. We tend to drive over instead of riding for a couple of reasons: (a) it’s 8am when we leave on typically cold January mornings, (b) it’s a 6-lane expressway ride across the top end of Atlanta and (c) we typically buy stuff that may or may not fit in the saddle bags. So, while it was actually not all that cold on Saturday, we opted to drive over for the other reasons, and arrived promptly at 9:00am as the doors opened.
The nice thing about getting there at 9:00am sharp is very few guests have arrived by then which makes it very easy to work our way around all of the displays, we get first pick of any close-out merchandise and we’re typically on our way home before 11:00am as the crowd begins to swell and things get crazy. The highlights from our visit this year included:
- Finding Debbie a couple of really nice Harley-Davidson women’s tops for about 60% off of MSRP; in other words, what they probably should sell for were it not for the H-D label & logos.
- Picking up a small women’s fashion item from Michele Smith – former host of American Thunder and a few other SpeedTV shows – who makes appearances at bike shows for one of the personal injury attorney’s who specialize in motorcycle accident claims.
- Picking up three pieces of Native American Indian jewelry, two older sterling silver bracelets with stones for Debbie and a newer sterling piece for me.
- Seeing the new Motus motorcycle offerings out of Birmingham, Alabama. The Motus bikes probably deserve their own blog entry, but it suffices to say that it’s a new very high-end, American-made sport touring motorcycle offered in a standard and “R” version. They use all top-shelf components and a new V-4 engine that puts out either 160bhp or 180bhp in the two different levels of trim. The standard model has an MSRP of $31k and the R-version with touring bags and the bigger motor at $38k. The thinking is, these bikes may appeal to the buyers who have been moving to the higher-end Harley-Davidson CVO models like Blue that retail in the $28k – $45k range. It will be interesting to see how the bikes are received by the media and consumers.
On the whole, the number of motorcycle dealers or no-kidding motorcycle builders and aftermarket firms with booths at the show was WAY down from previous years. Even the number of vendors selling the typical motorcycle show / bike rally crapola was down from previous years while the number of vendors selling things completely unrelated to motorcycles was up. There were only a handful of specialty vendors like Isa Fetish with higher-end fashion wear where we bought our Native American jewelry, and Isa and her husband live in the local area. The Chaps & Bags gang out of Panama City Beach and one other higher-end women’s fashions dealer who we frequently buy from weren’t there this year and a few other regulars that we look for were also absent. It would be interesting to know what they were charging for booths and how that pricing has changed over the years. I know that the folks we talk with each year at the Daytona and Panama City Beach rallies have seen massive increases in those booth fees that make it much harder to justify the expense as the number of people attending rallies and bike shows dwindles. Add to that, consumers are being far more selective in how they spend their dollars. We had a few friends who were considering the trip over to the show as well and were trading text messages on whether or not it was worth the visit. As you can tell from our comments, it was one of those things where if you have something else you should be doing, probably not. However, if you were looking for a distraction, perhaps something specific, nothing specific or wanted a people watching fix then it might be worth the $11/per person price of admission. We can kid ourselves that we came out ahead only because we think we received nice discounts, which is one of our favorite lies. After all, the only way you save money is by not spending it on unplanned, non-essential purchases.
Anyway, with our new acquisitions in hand, we were on our way out the doors at 10:45am and sitting at The Red Eyed Mule at 11:30 having a do-over of our Friday lunch date: just can’t beat that Jakes Big Daddy!!
Back at the house, the first order of business was getting out for 25-mile tandem ride. The weather was delightful and it felt really good to get out and be on the tandem again for the longer ride. I should note, Debbie continues to get out into our weight/exercise room and spend 40 to 90 minutes riding her bicycle on the resistance trainer about 4 out of 7 nights a week. She’ll skip the inside ride if we get an outside ride and one weeknight but that’s about it: you go girl! I should be so disciplined.
After a somewhat full morning and early afternoon we relaxed a bit, did some weekend chores around the house and then started to think about what we’d be doing for dinner. The default plan was to go to Loco Willy’s. However, one of the message threads we had running with Chuck & Julie came back to life around 5:00pm inviting us to join them for dinner at Bahama Breeze. We called an audible and told them we’d drop in to visit and have a cocktail, but to go ahead and enjoy their dinner. We arrived right after they finished their meal and spent a good hour and a half catching up on a wide variety of topics: just a great time! Debbie and Julie have fantastic chemistry and Chuck and I also have a very brotherly like bond, so it makes for non-stop conversation over a wide variety of topics.
As we left Bahama Breeze to make our way to Loco’s I received yet another message from the day’s earlier threads: this one was Bobby & Carrie Ann who were at some place called the Bourbon Bar inviting us to join them. We know they’d ridden over to the motorcycle show and weren’t sure where they were as they often time head into Atlanta and Roswell for dinner. When I looked up the Bourbon Bar is appeared to be in Buckhead, but then I saw where there was a placed called the Su Bourbon Bar & Social Club in Kennesaw on Summer Street: that had to be it.
The Su Bourbon Bar was previously unknown to us as it only opened in August and is located where we’d never see it just driving through Kennesaw as we sometimes do. That said, what a great place and a great time!!! We joined Bobby & Carrie Ann who were there with Jeanette and another couple – Tim & Sharon – who we’d not met before and who were the ones that knew about the Su Bourbon Bar.
Their specialty was baked oysters and coincidentally both Debbie and I were craving baked oysters on Friday night at Locos and had even asked our friend, owner and master chef Charles when they’d be back on the specials menu at Locos. Now, I’m not sure if the oysters were actually tasty or not, but the cheese, garlic, jalapenos and other topping sure made for a delicious eating experience. I think we plowed our way through 18 oysters by the time all was said and done. Best of all, they had live bands and a dance floor! So, our long-overdue opportunity to kick-up our heels finally arrived and we made the best of it. Debbie also had a good time showing off her recent acquisitions, e.g., a new top, bracelets, bling and things. Again, it was just a grand time and much-needed. I think it must have been a bit after midnight when we finally called it a night. Safe arrival text messages all came in shortly after we arrived home.
During our evening at the Su Bourbon Bar, much interest developed in Debbie’s new bling thing such that I volunteered to make an early morning return trip to the Motorcycle Show to pick up a few more. This was a dual-purpose trip in that it would give me a change to put my first highway miles on Blue II before I started making those trips with Debbie aboard. As for my departure time, my assumption was the show would open again at 9:00am and I was out of the house at 8:20. The ride over was delightful – thank you heated jacket & gloves — but when I pulled into the Trade Center parking lot shortly after 9:00am I noticed it was very empty; uh oh! Yup, it didn’t open until 10:00am.
To kill time I went back a mile or so to a QT gas station to top off Blue II’s fuel tank and enjoyed a mid-morning snack. I arrived back at the trade center around 9:45 and got into the growing entrance queue so I could get in, get out and be on the way home in time to pick up Debbie for our 11:45am lunch date with the kids and grandkids. It took me a bit longer to sort my way through the wide variety of blingy things that Michele had on hand, noting some of the colors I was hoping to snag just weren’t available. I probably over-achieved and was easily Michele’s biggest single sale of the weekend and that’s OK too. With my bag of bling in hand, I was back on the road by 10:20am and back at home by 11:00am.
Debbie and I were out the door at 11:30am and arrived at Olive Garden about 5 minutes late, but the kids had already checked-in and had their three little girls seated at the table. It’s always a joy getting together with the kids and today was no exception. I will confess to being a little a little groggy from the late night out and my early 80-mile round trip to Norcross so I probably wasn’t as engaging as I should have been. But, sometimes it’s just fine to sit back and take it all in.
Our plan had been to get back out for another tandem ride after lunch, but between the heavy lunch and very cold-feeling air we opted to pass on the ride and knock out some chores at the house. Our agenda for Sunday had two other competing events for the late afternoon and after clearing one to make time for the annual Tandem Club of Georgia ride planning event down on the Perimeter in Atlanta, we found that by the time we needed to leave at 4:00pm for the 5:00pm meeting we were just ready to relax instead of making another 30 minute road trip and socializing over another big meal. Yeah, I know… life’s too short to sit on the sidelines and as much as we missed seeing old friends and talking about tandem cycling it was probably the right call.
We finished-out the afternoon getting groceries, doing some at-home office work and then having dinner at home – my at-home hot wings, fries and salad — and watching the Pro Bowl in-between loads of laundry, catching up on Email, etc.
A good weekend, but we’re still lacking enough two-up time on Blue II. We’d hoped to get out but it just didn’t happen: there’s simply not enough time to get it all done and, sadly, my project list isn’t getting any smaller or less time-consuming: installing 1k sq ft of wood flooring, repainting the house inside and out, fixing some weather-worn landscaping problems, etc. So, a lot of my free-time for riding is going to be used for projects which will force us to make the most of the very few opportunities that we’ll have in the weeks ahead.