Monday, May 4, 2009

Riding Home

After the race ended on Sunday, we started riding home. We rode from Leeds, AL (track location) to just north of Atlanta. It was a good ride, with no rain, moderate traffic, and great riding conditions. We got to the hotel about 10pm (one hour time change).me

Monday morning dawned with light rain. I didn't want to see the rain, but it's a part of serious riding. So, we got into the mindset that we would ride a long way in the rain.

After getting dressed, we went to a McDonalds for breakfast. The rain had stopped, so our spirits improved; maybe the rain was over.

WRONG! About the time we went out to get on the bikes, the bottom dropped out. It was raining frogs! The wind was blowing like a gale, and the rain was falling sideways. Not a fun way to start a 400 mile ride home.

But we got on the bikes and started north on I-85. It rained HARD for a long time. About 100 miles of hard rain. We rode faster than almost all the cars and trucks, trying to make time and not take unnecessary risks. Fortunately, it was not cold, so it could have been a lot worse. But it was definitely a not-fun ride.

The Bumblebee let water in around the front of the collar, and my chest got wet. But that was all that got wet. It did it's job very well. I also wore the 3 finger gloves, which are designed for wet weather conditions, and they kept my hands dry. So, all in all, I fared pretty well.

After about 100 miles, the rain pretty much went away (we outran it), and the rest of the ride home was fine. Got home about 4pm on Monday.

The trip was good. We had no significant problems, and overall, the weather was good (with some exceptions). No injuries. No breakdowns (unless you count the dead battery). In spite of the few anomolies (above), it was a very good ride. Total mileage was 2,469 miles.

Superbike Races

I'm going to combine the two days of motorcycle races into one post. There were 3 races on Saturday and Sunday. Each race was good. Weather played a role, especially on Sunday.

Ok, enough said about the races.

But I will write a little about the weather, especially on Sunday. On Saturday, it rained hard on the way to the track, delaying the start of the first races due to oil and water on the track. After about an hour's delay, the races were run, and they were more competitive than usual.

On Sunday, it did not rain before we got to the track. Weather was very threatening, with severe thunderstorm watches and occasional tornado watches being announced. Just before the first race was to begin, a very dark cloud came from the direction of Birmingham (the track is about 15 miles due east of Birmingham). The wind got up a little, and a track announcer told everyone to find shelter in a permanent structure.

Well, the only permanent structure available to most fans is the museum. So, we headed for the museum. Even though the outside walls are glass, it has a basement to provide safety from the storm.

We went into the lobby to wait out the storm. It got darker and darker outside, and I was a bit dismayed to see the cashiers charging people to go inside the museum. I felt that under the circumstances, safety was more important than a dollar.

In a few minutes, over the intercom it was announced that a tornado had been spotted near the track and for everyone to head to the basement to safety. So, we did! Free! Got to see some bikes not on display in a garage area of the basement. So, it was neat.

After about a half hour in the basement, it was announced that the storm had passed and for everyone to leave. So, we did, not sure if the races would be run because it was getting late.

We walked back over to our bikes to see that they were safe (they were). After a little more waiting, the races were run. Each had fewer laps than normal, but they got all races run.

When the races were over, we rode back into Birmingham, had dinner, and went back to the motel.

52 miles each day.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Blog on Hold

Hello out there. My computer died last night, so I may not finish the blog until I get home. All is well; going to the races today and Sunday. Home sweet home on Monday.

Check in again next week....

Friday, May 1, 2009

Barber Motorsports Museum

Sorry about the delay in finishing the blog; the laptop I was using on the road died. And, while I could have used the computer at the hotel, I hate to tie the hotel computer up as long as it usually takes me to write and post nightly. So, I waited until I got home to finish. I'll start looking for a new laptop to use on the road.

I guess today, there were two significant events: Headlight repairs, and Barber Motorcycle Museum. I'll talk about the headlight repairs first.

We got up and went outside to the bikes, each with a burned-out right headlight bulb. Changing that bulb is a royal pain... We removed the right mirror so we could see under the dash a little. It's covered by a cup that makes the assembly waterproof. That was easy to remove. Then the wiring harness needs to be taken off the bulb. That was a little more difficult because where it's located, you can't see any part of the bulb. And the space through which you have to pass your hand is just larger than your hand. And, to make it even more difficult, it has to be done with the left hand.

After the wiring harness is removed from the bulb, there are two wire springs that hold the bulb in place. They have to be pushed to the front and to the outside to remove them. Then the bulb can be removed from it's place. Removing is not the hard part. Installing the new one is the hard part.

The bulb has to be oriented in a specific way in order to fit properly in its socket. And once the bulb is in its socket properly, you have to swing the springs down and pushed in to the front and then bent to the inside. Hard to do when you can't see what you're doing and can barely reach it with your bad hand!

While Gary was working on his, I started working on mine, which was made even more difficult due to the fact that the wiring harness had broken during an earlier bulb replacement. After fooling with it a while, I decided that I had to get more room and visibility, so I removed one of the fairings on the right side. That made it possible to see the area where the bulb was located AND to work on it at the same time. I also opened my tool kit to get some long needle nose vise grip pliers, thinking that maybe I could pull the wires off the bulb terminals. It worked!! And the pliers made it possible to put the bulb in place and to bend the springs to hold the bulb in place at the same time. I actually got mine done in about 20 minutes!

When I finished mine, I helped Gary to do the same with his.

I tested mine to see that the bulb burned properly; it did. Gary tested his, and the bulb-out light stayed on his dash. He thought it did not burn. Instead, the LEFT bulb burned out!! I don't know why, but the RTs are famous for blowing both bulb s at the same time. (It happened to me once).

So, another trip to Autozone to get anther bulb. We installed it in the parking lot; it worked pretty easy because you can see and reach it. That concluded our headlight work, a task that I don't want to deal with for a long time.

If there is a heaven for motorcycles, the Barber Motorsports Museum has to be it! I can't begin to describe the museum and how well done it is. A couple of statistics might help to explain: over 1,400 motorcycles from 1903 to today's newest. 700 on display. Buys 2 motorcycles and one car a week on average. Museum is 5 stories; all open-air and highly visible. Each machine is said to be able to run within 2 hours of the decision to run it. Machine shop in basement to die for. Clean. Bright. Every display is perfect!

I've seen it twice; the first time 4 years ago, when about 500 machines were on display. At the time, I thought it couldn't get better; yet, it is better today. If you're into motorcycles at all, this place is worth whatever trip you have to make to see it.

I'll post several pics on this post to give just a tiny taste of what's there. No matter how good I say it is, it's much better!

In addition to the motorcycles, Mr. Barber has a great collection of cars. Mostly race cars--Corvette, Porsche, Lotus, Ford, and other cars like Formula I and Indy cars. Quite a nice collection of neat cars as well.

One interesting thing they do is about once an hour, they start some machine (car or motorcycle) and rev the engine to make noise. Today they started a Harley drag bike and ran the engine about 2 minutes or so, pretty much wide-open. It was LOUD! The crowd loved it and clapped to show appreciation when the motor was shut down. The museum lives!

Rode 60 miles today. Also watched some bikes qualify, but the real show was the museum.

Tomorrow-day 1 of the Superbike races.