Thursday, July 30, 2015

Another Newsie gone

jack averitt boxed

Jack Averitt, former State House reporter for The Indianapolis News, died this morning.

Jack lived in Dublin, Ohio. He was 91.

Jack understood Indiana tax law so well that legislators ran their proposed bills past him before they submitted them.

He crewed on B-24 Liberators in the China-Burma-India Theatre in World War II. I think he said he was a radio operator.

That qualifies him for hero status in my book.

Godspeed, Jack. You were a class act.

BMW Motorcycle Rally Pin of the Day

bmwmoa pin billings

Here’s the official pin from the 2015 BMW MOA Rally earlier this month in Billings, Mont. It’s the 23rd BMW MOA national rally I’ve attended since Laguna Seca in California in 1986.

Just for the record, here’s a list of all of them since ‘86. The ones I attended are bold faced. Put another way, I’ve only missed 8 in 30 years:


2015 - Billings, MT

2014 - Minneapolis, MN

2013 - Salem, OR

2012 - Sedalia, MO

2011 - Bloomsburg, PA

2010 - Redmond, OR

2009 - Johnson City, TN

2008 - Gillette, WY

2007 - West Bend, WI

2006 - Essex Junction, VT

2005 - Lima, OH

2004 - Spokane, WA

2003 - Charleston, WV

2002 - Trenton, Ont.

2001 - Redmond, OR

2000 - Midland, MI

1999 - Rhinebeck, NY

1998 - Missoula, MT

1997 - Fredricksburg, TX

1996 - Morganton, NC

1995 - Durango, CO

1994 - Moodus, CT

1993 - Oshkosh, WI

1992 - DuQuoin, IL

1991 - Flagstaff, AZ

1990 - Rapid City, SD

1989 - York, PA

1988 - Madison, IN

1987 - Escanaba, MI

1986 - Laguna Seca, CA

Brookland to Billings to Brookland

garmin 01

garmin 02

garmin 03

Here’s the tale of the GPS. I rode 2,873.2 miles in 45 hours and 13 minutes for an average speed of 63.5 mph. I hit 111 mph while passing a couple of cars.

The total time and time stopped are meaningless because I usually turn off the GPS when I park the bike to eat or sleep.

And it’s 89.8 miles from the Cenex gas station in Thayer, Mo. to home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another BMW brother heard from

badlands jeff

This is Jeff Vestal, a BMW GS rider from North Carolina I met at a gas station/convenience store at the Badlands exit on I-90.

We waited out a hellacious thunder/hail storm there. I wheeled my bike around to the lee side of the store when incredibly strong winds threatened to blow it off of its sidestand. Jeff’’s GS was wisely pointed into the wind and didn’t require shelter.

He sent me an email last night from his motel room in Bloomington, Ill., saying he didn’t get onto the road yesterday until 11 a.m. because of a huge storm and spent the day racing it with the prospect of more to come today.

Those Vistaprint calling cards come in handy.

A morning of frustration

I spent 3 hours and 15 minutes assembling this kitchen cart.
But I never could get the cam lock connections to fasten securely, so it may collapse.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bath Matt

dear guest

Apparently, the management at the Springfield, Mo. Comfort Inn & Suites has a problem with guests stealing stuff from the rooms because I found this notice on the desk in my room.

They must think Bath Matt is short for Bath Matthew.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Two days on the road, one to go

perkins in mitchell SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – I left the rally site around 8’ish with plans to rendezvous with Ray Kaufman in Mitchell, S.D. and share my room with him. He was traveling with Theresia Shearer and they left about 45 minutes before I did.

I rather expected to pass them at some point, but it was not to be.

I rode down to I-90, stopping at the west edge of Rapid City for gas and a Subway lunch before pressing on.

I overtook a nasty looking storm at the Badlands National Park exit and listened with alarm to reports from westbound travelers about golf ball-size hailstones and torrential rain. A BMW GS rider from North Carolina named Jeff and I shared a bench on the porch of a convenience store and studied the weather radar for a break, but the intense storm cell seemed parked across the interstate about 5 miles east of us.

I ended up waiting more than an hour before it showed signs of weakening and rode off in the direction of a horizon-to-horizon rainbow. I got into a few miles of heavy rain, saw a BMW rider being treated by an ambulance crew and finally made it to the motel in Mitchell sometime after 9 p.m. I caught up with my friends at the Perkins restaurant next door and had a light dinner before checking into the motel and unloading.

Ray and Theresia and I enjoyed a free motel breakfast at 6 a.m. today and they hit the road immediately afterward. I took my time and rolled out of a nearby gas station with a full tank at 8:08 a.m.

I was grateful for a thick cloud deck that spared me the ordeal of riding into the rising sun, but had to pull off to don rain gear just west of Sioux Falls. The rain was short-lived and I tuned south and away from it at Sioux Falls.

The rest of the day is was blur of gas-and-go, highlighted by a gas stop at Elk Point, S.D. where I finally got around to checking my oil sight glass and found there was no oil showing. Fortunately, I had an unopened quart of BMW motor oil. Unfortunately, the paper funnels I stashed under the seat years ago fell apart because the glue was cooked and dried out. Fortunately, the clerk had a couple of paper funnels, one of which worked perfectly.

The stressful low point of the day was the slog around the north, east and south sides of Kansas City in torrid heat and blazing sunshine. By the time I got off the interstate and onto U.S. 49, I was fried. I had some ice cream and took Wayne Garrison’s advice and tried a bottle of 5 Hour Energy before phoning a reservation in to the Comfort Inn & Suites on the north side of Springfield, Mo.

The elixir swept away my fatigue and gloom and made the last 120 miles of the day rather pleasant, despite the 101-degree heat index. My LDComfort shirt did a splendid job of evaporating my perspiration and keeping me surprisingly cool.

I checked in with Maria, showered and had a cajun pasta dinner next door at Ruby Tuesday before returning to my room to blog and crash.

Just for the record, I rode 533 miles yesterday and 590 miles today.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday morning rally report

billings mcd2

BILLINGS, MT – I was just settling in for the night in my tent last night when a drunk on a bicycle hit one of the guylines, shaking the tent violently enough for me to think there might be serious damage.

I charged out yelling obscenities and found myself facing off with a flabby, sloppy, helpless looking drunk babbling apologies and beseeching me to be calm. I told him he had just triggered my fight-or-flight mechanism and I wasn’t inclined to run away. He introduced himself as “Buddy” and helped me reset the line and its tent peg before stumbling off walking the red mountain bike he foolishly had tried to ride through a crowded campground. It’s miraculous that mine was the only tent line he hit.

This, friends, is what you have to expect if you camp next to the Airheads club campsite. Never. Again.

I made it to McDonald’s again this morning for breakfast and Wifi and found myself sharing a table with Rick Nelson, who was doing the Sudoku puzzle in the local newspaper.

I think I’m ready to get back on the road. I just hope it doesn’t rain tonight or tomorrow morning because I hate packing a wet tent.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday morning rally report

billings mcd BILLINGS, Mont. – I arrived at the BMW MOA rally site in Billings around 1 p.m. Wednesday after a relatively pleasant ride up from Belle Fourche and found the Indianapolis BMW Club campsite in turn 3 of the fairgrounds racetrack infield.

The area is apparently subject to afternoon windstorms – the one on Wednesday nearly folding my tent double before friends helped me stabilize it with loaner guylines and tent stakes. Dinner was at Subway about a half-mile uphill from the venue.

I slept well Wednesday night despite or because of two or three brief showers.

Thursday morning I was chagrined to see that my online advance registration was rendered pointless by the fact that the line into the registration area did not segregate pre-registered from non-registered people. Deb Parsons helped me short circuit the process and avoid the block-long line.

I searched out audiologist Marilyn Navia who determined that the solder connection on my right in-ear monitor was faulty. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the equipment here to repair it, so I’ll ship it to her when I get home.

We’re camped next to the Airheads club who are somewhat notorious for their late-night revelries. They retired relatively early Wednesday night but carried on loudly until about 2:30 a.m. last night. Wayne Garrison explained to me this morning that we got paired with them because both clubs require access to electrical power – us for our CPAP members and the Airheads because of their lights and bike lifts they use for motorcycle maintenance.

It appears that Sprint never heard of Billings. I had better cell service in Burkesville, Ky. last May than I have here. The BMW MOA Wifi is also spotty and weak outside the vendor building.

At this point, I’d rate this rally a C for venue and organization, but I remain hopeful that things will improve.


After struggling with the kinda-sorta Wifi in the MOA internet cafe, I gave up in exasperation and suited up to ride to the nearest McDonald’s.

Roc Shannon, an MOA ambassador from Bloomington, Ind. and a longtime acquaintance told me the IT guy who was supposed to set up the rally Wifi was in an accident and we’re stuck with something slightly slower than dial-up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 2 – 584 miles

i90 rain BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. – I did another 584 miles today, 4 miles less than yesterday but way easier despite encountering rain.

My day started with free breakfast at the Crossroads Best Western Motel in Council Bluffs. There were no empty tables, so I asked to join a guy who turned out to be a pipe fitter named Kip from Kansas City who rides motorcycles and used to have a BMW. It was a pleasant start to a good day.

The weather was clear and cool through the morning, but began to warm a bit by the time I got to Chamberlain, S.D. where I had a cheeseburger at Dairy Queen and called in a reservation to the Econo Lodge in Belle Fourche (pronounced Bell Foosh).

Back on the road, I noticed rain on the western horizon and nursed the hope that it would track south of I-90. It didn’t and I pulled under an overpass on a surface road east of Belvidere to pull on my Frogg Toggs rainsuit top and wait for the rain to slacken. Presently a couple of guys joined me. The were brothers – one a Harley rider from the Bakersfield, Calif. and the other a Gold Wing rider from eastern South Dakota. They were headed west too – aiming for Bakersfield.

Presently the rain slowed to a drizzle and I headed off again, but ran into heavier rain a few miles on that forced me under another overpass for a few minutes.

The rain was made worse by a strong crosswind from the south that amplified the windblast from trucks at stretches where construction routed eastbound traffic into one of the westbound lanes.

Somewhere along the line, I crossed into the Mountain Time Zone and arrived at the motel at 5:15 p.m. MDT, rather than the 6:15 p.m. my watch and bike clock and GPS registered.

Dinner was a so-so chicken enchilada at the American West Bar & Grill next door to the motel.

Barring any surprises, a four-hour ride should put me at the rally site in Billings around mid-day tomorrow.