Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Free Shooting Introduction

First, I'd like to admit upfront that I've stolen this idea from Armed Canadian, to the point that I didn't even see much need to rephrase his words much.

In the effort to promote firearm and rights awareness, I make the following open offer to any resident or visitor in the Hampton Roads area: If you have never shot a gun and would like to try, I am willing to take you shooting free of charge. I will provide the firearms, ammunition, eye/ear protection and I will cover your range fees. I guarantee if you are on the fence about gun ownership and usage, you will not be at the end of the session. You will have fun and learn a little in the process. I am certified by the NRA to teach the NRA Basic Pistol and NRA First Steps classes, and would be delighted to do a formal class with you if you think you'd like to pursue this farther.

I would also be more that willing to post contact information for anyone else who would be willing and able to help people in their area learn that people in the shooting sports can be friendly and outgoing. Just give me the following information, either by emailing me or posted as a comment, and I'll add it to this post.

1. Name
2. Email address
3. Name and location of the range(s) where you would meet interested parties.
4. Preferred nights, if any.

I'll start with myself here, and hopefully I'll have more people to add as time goes by.

Brian A.
Superior Arms; Virginia Beach, VA
Sunday through Wednesday

Gregory Morris
Shoot Straight; Tampa, FL
Any evening

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Hampshire and the 8k mile mark.

Friday, 10/19, was the start of my first real trip since I bought my BMW. A friend I used to game with was throwing an Octoberfest party at his place up in New Hampshire, and I thought it would be appropriate for my first big trip to be one to visit friends from my last obsession.

At 6:25am, I pulled out of my garage for what was supposed to be a single day, 680 mile trek to Center Sandwich, NH. I had over-packed a bit, but not so much that it made riding unwieldy. I had tried to cut back on what I brought. But, having never taken a trip this long, this close to winter, and having never used a lot of the gear I have on a run this long, it was hard to reduce too much without taking some risks that would make me uncomfortable. With forecasts of rain, as well as the possibility of having to deal with temperatures in the 40s, I'd rather have too much gear than too little.

The first picture was taken around 10am at a gas station in Dover, DE. At that point, the trip was still going quite well. I was making good time, and the predicted scattered showers hadn't materialized yet. Sadly, when the rain did show up around 11:30, it was a bit more than scattered showers.

New Jersey was when the fun started in full force. First the downpours came. Then I discovered that the "waterproof liner" in my pricey Rev'it brand gear wasn't all it was cracked up to be. By the time I had reached a rest area, and was able to put on some proper rain gear over top of my Rev'it stuff, it was too late. I was already wet enough to make the rest of the trip less than pleasant. My next joyful experience was hitting the G.W. Bridge into NYC around 2pm.

From there, it pretty much consistently went downhill. Apparently, traffic
is always bad around there, despite was a co-worker who grew up there tried to claim a week prior to this. But the torrential rain that was sweeping the northeast that day had created almost total gridlock.The true suffering hit when I crossed over into Connecticut. I-95 basically stopped at that point. Over an hour, I covered about 14 miles. I thought that getting away from the coast might help, but Rt 15 and I-84 both ended up being just as gridlocked as I-95.

By 5pm, I had spent nearly 3 hours barely moving, and I was stuck in horrible downpours for most of it. I even got ankle deep at one point on Rt. 7 (that's ankle deep while riding...not standing), while heading towards I-84. I was damp, miserable, and cold.....and then I saw a Chili's. An hour, and two bowls of hot chili later, I was good to go again. Danbury to Hartford was another 2 hours of 25-30 mph on average. Fortunately, things started to pick up at that point. The roads had cleared and, despite the continuing rain and the darkness, I started making good time. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. My Garmin indicated that I wouldn't reach Jeff's place until around midnight, if I didn't stop anymore, which was unlikely. In addition, I had already hydroplaned twice and my legs had started getting cold. It was time for a hotel, and Andover had plenty of them.

Day 2
Saturday morning was everything I had hoped the previous day would be: pleasant temperatures and clear, sunny skies. The fall leaves were peaking in that region, and I got to enjoy every second of it. After about an hour on the interstate, and another hour of winding, tree covered roads, I was at Jeff's place. Seeing the 400 foot gravel/rock ascent that is his driveway made me very happy that I had gotten there in the day time.

Once I got there, it wasn't long until I had changed, and the eating and drinking commenced.

Day 3
I had intended to take a few hours riding some more of the beautiful New Hampshire and end up hanging out in Boston with a friend at the end of the day, with Monday being the real ride back. So I left Jeff's at noon, and spent 3 hours exploring some of the twisties in the area. At 3pm, I was at the Mass state line, and got the voicemail from my friend letting me know he had spaced and went golfing for the day. Given the choice between trying to find a way to kill time for three or more hours, only to have to sack out two hours later, or just seeing how far I could get before I was too tired, I chose the latter.

Long story short, I hit the 8k mark near the I-93/I-495 interchange, and I pulled into my garage at around 3:30am. With sunset being so early, but still having moderate traffic, I was able to do 15-20 mph over the speed limit all the way to Wilmington without any real fear of a speed trap. Once I hit Rt.13, I had to do the speed limit again. But I was almost home at that point.

Outer Banks and 7k miles

October 13th was the day of the Adventure BMW open house, which I followed with a ride down to the Outer Banks with David, one of the guys I met from the local BMW club. The plan was to head to Duck to figure out where Baldy's is located, a burger dive where my step-nephew works. Then we headed south to a little shy of Jockey's Ridge before doubling back for home. I'd have liked to have made it farther south, but my wife had made dinner plans with another couple for that evening.

The one notable thing from the trip is that I hit the 7000 mile mark within about 100 feet of the stop light in front of my old neighborhood in Moyock, NC.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Catching up

The last week or so has been pretty busy, so I've fallen pretty far behind on my bike trip logs. The first weekend of the month was the local BMW rally out near Knotts Island. Sadly, I didn't take many photos. I was too busy taking in everything while I was there to think to snap some pics in the process. The best thing about BMW rallies is the fact that so many of the riders there enjoy doing really long trips. I learned a lot of good tips to keep in mind as I get more and more off the beaten path on trips of my own. I may have also found a few riding partners for my longer hauls.

I also managed to break one of my new system cases while I was there. The owner of Adventure BMW had warned me when I bought them that I'd probably break the tab that keeps them locked. It's even bright orange to make sure you can see it if it's not out of the way. Unfortunately, that bright orange color isn't as noticeable when you're messing with your luggage at 9pm, in a dark campground, with a flashlight squeezed between your head and shoulder. I've definitely learned that I need to keep some hands-free lighting available on my bike and a spare key around to make it easier to keep both bags open at once when needed.

The other fun event that weekend was a long ride on Monday. I met a guy at work with a Suzuki V-Strom 650 (a.k.a. The Wee-strom) who is in a Kawasaki Concours owners group. It turns out that they head out about once a month for a weekend motorcycle camping trip. They also try to head out for day long rides when they can get time away from their wife and kids. So, I spent Columbus Day tailing along behind them as we rode around SE Virginia.

This is the route we took.

And this is a picture of all of our bikes.