By Mark “Buck” King — It seems impossible to fathom that this Big Ride was the fifteenth time we have hit the road on an annual quest for adventure on two wheels. Time has a way of moving so quickly that it catches us unaware of just how many years have passed. In the early days we were proud of ourselves for riding 500 miles in one day. Now we are all accomplished Iron Butt members who don’t bat an eye at a 1,000 mile day. Even though physically we have more aches and pains, we have learned to ride longer by learning how to make the ride easier. Bigger touring bikes with back rests, cruise control, and multiple foot and leg positions are a big part of increasing our endurance.
Clearly we cannot keep doing Big Rides forever. There will come an end to this, for some of us sooner than others. But that only makes each ride from this point forward even more precious. Most of us know that there are more miles behind us than lie before. So every mile counts more now. Now it is important to check the things off our bucket lists that we have always wanted to do. That’s why this year we decided to do the Big Ride just a little differently.
Instead of a ten day ride with every night in a different place, this year we decided on a destination ride where we could stay for a few days and do things out of one location as a hub. The best place we could come up with was Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With the Tetons, Yellowstone, and the Beartooth Highway close by it was a natural choice. We also built in a day to go fly fishing on the Snake River. Fly fishing was on that long list of things that we all wanted to do, but to this point in our lives had never made time for.
Initially we were planning on seven riders, but three succumbed to the pressures of life and responsibilities. Obviously, they need to reassess their priorities. So this year the Big Ride would be four riders: Buck, Stinky, Smokey, and Road Dog.
I hope you enjoy this account of another spectacular Big Ride.
To read the rest of the story please download the PDF file here: Big Ride 2014 – Jackson Hole – draft v2
By Mark “Buck” King – Over the past fifteen years the small group of guys I ride with have coined a term used to describe our annual, all-guy road trip. This break from the pressure of normal everyday life has simply become known by all of us as the Big Ride.
Big Rides are normally 9 to 10 day adventures that are laced with the things that guys like to do: ride motorcycles, wear the same clothes multiple days, fart without apology, smoke cigars, poke fun at each other and just enjoy not having anyone tell us what to do for a few days.
We often say that on a Big Ride, for at least 10 days, no one is going to ask you if their butt looks big in what they are wearing and no one is going to ask you why you are wearing what you are wearing.
What could be better?…..
To find out, download the file by clicking below:
>>Full Story PDF File<<
By Mark “Buck” King — About a thousand or so years ago Terry Elliot talked me into buying a trials bike. Together with several others, we “posed” as trials riders for a few months back in the early 70’s.
They didn’t call me Buck back then – they called me Crash. It was a well-earned nickname. Not having anywhere near the keen sense of balance needed to ride trials I soon realized that my real gift was twisting the throttle and running fast through the woods.
After trading my Honda TL125 for an Enduro bike, I began a decade long adventure in riding Enduros all over the southeast. My favorites were the Little Harpeth held right here in Middle Tennessee and Lonesome Pine around Bristol Virginia. We also ran a two day reliability race patterned after the ISDT in Tellico Plains. Other races near to us in middle Tennessee were in Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Florida.
We were all inspired by the movie, On Any Sunday that featured Malcom Smith and Steve McQueen among others. This movie is still a cult classic and I bet many of you have it in your collection of DVDs.
For those of you who are not familiar with Enduros, here are some of the basics:
- Enduros are long races. Usually at least 100 miles and up to 150. Every mile is new, there are no laps.
- Timekeeping plays a major role in an Enduro. Overall, riders must average 24 mph over the entire race course. There are many ‘checkpoints’ along the course at unknown positions. You are penalized if you are late to a checkpoint, BUT you are penalized MORE if you are early. The objective is to go through the checkpoint on your exact minute which is set by you starting time.
- There are many ways to knock yourself out of the running besides being off-time. Crashing, breaking things, and getting stuck in the mud were some of my favorite.
The race route was usually well marked with arrows. In addition each rider was also given a route sheet which could be cut into strips and loaded into a roll chart holder mounted on the handle bars.
Notice the super big watch on my wrist. This was long before computers. In Enduros you could use the route sheet mileage, your odometer, and the watch to mentally calculate whether or not you were ahead or behind time. I set my watch read 8:00 (the official race start time) when I began racing. Therefore, when my watch said 10:28, I could look at the route sheet at that time and compare the route sheet mileage to my odometer. If my odometer read less than mileage indicated on the route sheet, I was running behind. Or vice versa. Simple, right?? And all this while you are trying to avoid trees and ford streams!!
Nowadays there are computers like this one in the picture on the right that will do all the work for you.
To be honest, most average riders can’t maintain a 24 mph average in the woods while trying to avoid trail obstacles of all shapes and sizes. It’s basically impossible. Once a woods section begins, you’re mainly just riding as fast as you can and the roll chart ends up being used more as a tool to help make the right turns and not get lost out on the course.
Racers start in rows of four riders. In the black and white picture of me you can see my number 42D indicating I started on the 42cd row in the outside position.
Courses included sections of woods as well as some paved road from time to time. For this reason Enduro bikes must be street legal including a valid license plate. Most of the time I was so far behind after a woods section that if we broke out onto a dirt or a paved road I took off like a scalded dog trying to make up as much time as possible before the next woods section.
Races usually included two gas stops. And many times we were on our own in finding our gas cans. Doesn’t sound hard until you actually experience turning into a field where there a 500 gas cans set out. It can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Most races at least several hundred riders competing. The most popular did have 500 riders. By the time several hundred bikes have gone through a little mud puddle, the puddles grows into a swamp that can literally swallow a bike. I have personally been stuck up to the handle bars of my bike.
Enduro riders are generally pretty nice guys, and when trouble occurs out on the trail, many times two riders have to work together to get a bike unstuck or otherwise back on the trail.
Those were great years with many great memories. I can never thank Terry Elliot enough for helping me get started.
I’m sure some of you have or even still ride Enduros. I’d love to trade stories with you!
By Kent Skoug — We are rapidly approaching spring; however, as I look out my window and see snow falling, I’m wondering just why was it I moved to the south? Anyway, The BMW RA rally will be at Barber Motorsports Museum and Track the end of May (the 29th to June 1st.) It’s hard to believe that’s only three months away.
Barber Motorsports is one of the finest motorcycle museums in the world. Five floors of bikes with over 700 on display (and about double that in storage so they do swap them out occasionally). The rally fee includes full access to the museum as many times as you wish so there is no need to hurry through it. Also there will be a limited number of spots available, on a first come first served basis, to also take a guided tour of the lowest level where they do the restoration work. This is not normally open to the public but there will be no additional charge for this.
Keith Code will also be conducting his superbike school during the rally. The school is not part of the rally fee but if there are spots available and you wish to sign up…
Ian Schmeisser will also be handling all the GS stuff and there will be vintage displays organized by John Landstrom of Blue Moon Cycle in Norcross, GA.
By the way, if you are a BMW RA member you get $10.00 off the rally fee. If you are not a member you can sign up when you register for the rally.
Where and when can I register, you ask. Check out the brand new RA web site at www.bmwra.org. While there, check out the web site and see some of the new features. If you are taking a significant other to the rally, be sure to sign them up as an associate. Heck, we are even paying you to sign them up! It costs $5.00 for an associate and we’re giving them $10.00 off the rally fee! Also, we will be giving away a set of tires. The only people eligible for them are the people that are pre-registered!
The last thing I’ll mention is that I have thrown my hat into the ring for a Trustee Position on the RA Board. The elections are currently on the RA web site and will also be in the Jan/Feb issue of the OTL which should be reaching your mailboxes this week. I would appreciate your consideration for the position.
Thank you and hope to see you at the rally.
By Mark “Buck” King – Over the last two decades I have made several attempts to finish reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig. Finally, most likely because of the extra time my retirement has afforded me, I have been able to finish it.
The book was released in 1974 after 121 publishers turned it down – a record according to the Guinness Book of Records for any book published that later went on to land on the nation’s best seller list. The book has now sold well over 5 million copies and is generally regarded as an American cultural icon in literature.
The book is a narrative about a 17 day motorcycle journey Pirsig and his son, Chris, took from Minnesota to Northern California. The first nine days of the ride they are joined by close friends John and Sylvia Sutherland.
The narrative about the trip is punctuated by numerous philosophical discussions, referred to as Chautauquas by the author, on topics including epistemology, ethical emotivism and the philosophy of science.
Many of these discussions are tied together by the story of the narrator’s own past self, who is referred to in the third person as Phaedrus (after Plato’s dialogue). Phaedrus, a teacher of creative and technical writing at a small college, became engrossed in the question of what defines good writing, and what in general defines good, or “Quality”. His philosophical investigations eventually drove him insane, and he was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy which permanently changed his personality.
During the journey Pirsig deals with signs that his son was beginning to experience the same sort of emotional turbulence. Indeed, several years later, Chris was also institutionalized and eventually murdered in San Francisco.
Pirsig used the motorcycle trip mainly to illustrate the principles of his “Inquiry Into Values,” which he felt broke through the ‘either/or’ logjam of Western thought (emotion versus intellect, technology versus romanticism, subject versus object) by establishing the idea of Quality as the foundation for both sides.
In the last chapters of the book, Pirsig begins to reconcile himself with his past as Phaedrus’s personality begins to re-emerge in him. At the end of a long and dangerous journey, a twentieth-century odyssey, the narrator discovers that the only way he can live with himself and with his son is to embrace all that he is and all that he knows, regardless of what others may expect.
The book can be difficult to read sometimes as the author drives through Chautauquas that intricately and with painstakingly long discussions delve deep into philosophical thought. Still, I recommend devoting the time to read this classic book.
On the whole, what Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance tells us is that we won’t get to the truth about life through pursuing answers through the rational ways of thinking. Pirsig or Phaedrus hungered for a rational explanation for everything, but in the end found that both science and philosophy are not enough. Only in the love of another person, or in the experience of nature or in a feeling of closeness to God, can we access truths that can’t be broken down. The book makes you think about the technological culture we live in and where we can find room in it for ‘quality’ and things of the spirit. It shows how a life drained of gumption is not really a life at all.
The quest for meaning and identity is a journey filled with perils, wrong turns, and enemies to be defeated. For many of us the worst enemy is our own self. You must leave home and discover America in order to find yourself.
The AMA has kept us updated on the E 15 issue. In case you are not an AMA member, here is their last communication regarding E 15.
We have less than two weeks to tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that we support its proposal to reduce the total amount of ethanol required in transportation fuel nationwide in 2014.
The AMA supports this proposal because it could slow the introduction of E15, a gasoline formulation that contains as much as 15 percent ethanol by volume, into the marketplace. The AMA opposes E15 because it can cause engine and fuel system damage to your motorcycle or ATV, and can void manufacturer’s warranties.
You play an important role in convincing the EPA to change the 2014 ethanol mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
As of Jan. 17, the EPA has heard from more than 4,000 motorcyclists! But the EPA needs to hear from more of you to counter the pro-ethanol groups that want E15 to be sold throughout the country.
Use this link to send an e-mail to Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. All you need to do is fill out your name and address. The link provides suggested wording and will send your email to both senators:
Email Congress on the E 15 Issue
During this public comment period, you can tell the agency how this proposal will help protect 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in America — and the riders who depend on their safe operation — from inadvertent misfueling.
Don’t forget, the deadline for comments is Jan. 28! Act today to ensure your voice is heard.
For the latest information on the American Motorcyclist Association’s efforts to protect your access to safe fuels, follow this link.
By Mark ‘Buck’ King – This time of year the weather doesn’t offer us many days to ride. But it’s a good time to do some planning for some great adventures when the New Year turns to spring. Many times my riding buddies and I have likened the anxiousness we feel the night before a long anticipated ride to that we felt as children on Christmas Eve anticipating what all those beautifully wrapped presents under the tree held and of course, what the man in the red suit would bring.
I am anticipating some great rides and club activities next year. Not many of us realize how much work our Activities Director, Rod McDonald, puts into the rides and activities for the club. I guess he is sort of like Santa and the elves laboring on the North Pole so that all us little girls and boys will have some great memories to unwrap in the coming year.
So in honor of Ole Rod, I have twisted the words to what might be the most well know poem in American literature, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” first published anonymously in 1823 and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore.
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BIG RIDE
‘Twas the night before a Big Ride, and as I looked all around
Not a cycle was running, even the Chain Gang made no sound;
The Gortex was all hung by the footpegs with care,
In hopes that our leader, Ole Rod, would soon be there;
The riders were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of curvy road signs danced in their heads;
I slept in my helmet instead of my cap,
And I had just settled in for a long summer nap,
When out in the street there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new paved road
Gave the lustre of mid-day to all things that it showed,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a bunch of BMW motorcycles all loaded with gear,
With a fearless leader so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Ole Rod.
More rapid than 1600 GTs his riders they came,
And he honked and called them by name;
“Now, Eugenio! Now Nathan and Lee!
On, Steve! On Bob and Doug!
To the end of the street! To the highway came the call!
Now ride away! Ride away! Ride away all!”
As the dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So out to the back roads they flew,
All of the riders and Ole Rod, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the street
The rumbling of cycles so sweet to repeat.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the highway came Ole Rod without a sound.
He was dressed in Gortex from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with road dust and soot,
A bundle of gear he had tied on his bike,
And he resembled a peddler or the like,
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His funny little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the soul patch on his chin was as white as snow;
The stump of a cigar he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his helmet like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of his self;
A wink of his eye and a turn of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And with all the routes planned; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his hand upon the throttle,
And giving it a twist, there was no time to dottle;
He jumped on his Beemer, to his gang gave a signal,
And away they all rode – except for Doug who was late for the call.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he rode out of sight,
“Happy Big Ride to all, and to all a good-night!”
By Mark ‘Buck’ King — Wednesday, August 14, 2013, started off with great anticipation and excitement. It was the eve of my departure on a long planned and highly anticipated Four Corners ride. Several of my friends had invited me to have lunch with them so they could ‘send me off’. None of us knew at that time that the sendoff was really for the trauma unit at Vanderbilt Hospital.
I really do know better than to ride through Green Hills in the middle of the day, lunchtime traffic. To get back to Franklin from downtown Nashville I have always gone around Green Hills using Belmont Boulevard or Granny White. What possessed me to go right through the middle of Green Hills this day I don’t know, but it is now on a pretty long list of things in my life that I wished I had never done.
I was headed south on Hillsboro Road and had almost made it through all the traffic with only one more light to go through before I would be in the clear. As I approached the light at Hobbs road I was watching an old white Ford van in the left hand turn lane of the oncoming traffic. I had the green light and was on track to go right through the intersection. As always when I am on a bike, I was trying to anticipate what I would do if the van pulled out in front of me. I was playing through scenarios when to my shock and surprise he did actually that. In my mental game I slowed down as best I could and tried to dodge him to the left as the back of the van crossed in front of me. The way we plan things in our minds almost never matches up with the real world and that fact was painfully verified on this day. As I initially applied brakes and the van moved broadside directly in front of me I could then see the piece of reality that blew up my mental plan: The old white Ford van was pulling a long landscaping trailer.
At that point I remember thinking “Oh Shit, I’m going to hit the trailer!” Instinctively, I grabbed all the brakes I had. That was probably a mistake, but at this point you aren’t thinking, you’re just reacting.
The scooter slid down and from what witnesses said I literally tumbled head over heels down the street. The last tumble must have been a head first dive into the pavement. I was knocked unconscious.
I must have been out several minutes because when I woke up there were people all around and I could hear the siren of the ambulance that just pulled up. I had to ask the witnesses if I had hit the trailer or missed it. They told me that I had barely missed the trailer and that the person driving that van did not stop.
I laid on the asphalt face down until the paramedics got to me. I knew my shoulder hurt, but beyond that I wasn’t sure what my injuries were. The paramedics rolled me over onto a back board and at that point I knew from the pain that I must have a broken rib.
The first ambulance took me to St. Thomas mid-town where they determined that my spleen was bleeding. Because of that they transferred me to the trauma unit at Vanderbilt. The ambulance rides came straight from Hell. As those vehicles went over speed bumps, I sloshed around on the backboard with the broken ribs causing the worst pain I have ever been in.
At Vanderbilt my wife, Jerrie, and several friends were waiting for my arrival. While the doctors evaluated me, I was given enough morphine to make the pain go away. The drugs were strong enough that consciousness became sort of a game of tag. But anything was better than the pain. I remember one doctor coming in and telling me I had ten broken ribs and I asked him how many I had.
I spent three days at the hospital mainly so that they could make sure that my spleen stopped bleeding. The sum total of the damage was ten broken ribs, a broken collar bone, broken scapula, cracked spleen, a concussion, and some nice patches of road rash on my left shoulder, left leg and right hand.
Luckily, if that word is even appropriate, the broken bones lined up well and the doctors said no shoulder surgery was necessary.
Now three months past that fateful day, I am beginning to get back to normal. My friends have chastised me for this statement saying I was NEVER normal. So I guess the right way to say it is that I am getting back to being the way I was before.
The police never tracked down the guy that caused this. One of witnesses got a trailer plate number but the police said that number was pretty useless.
I was on my little Honda Elite 110cc motor scooter. This is my 92 mpg weapon against high gas prices. Many have asked if I would have been better off had I been on my Goldwing. The answer to that question is an unequivocal YES. First of all the Wing is bigger and the guy might have seen me and second, with antilock brakes, I probably could have gotten it stopped and stayed upright.
So what are the lessons from this? First of all always wear a helmet. Without the helmet I would have been much worse off, if not dead. Second, protective clothing can save your skin, but only if you wear it – I should have had more on. Third, I will be wearing a high-visibility vest the next time you see me on the scooter. The most often occurring motorcycle accidents are caused by people in oncoming vehicles turning left in front of us because they don’t see us. As riders our best defense against this is to do everything we can to make ourselves visible on our bikes.
The next question I get asked, mostly by my non-riding friends, is if I will continue to ride. My answer:
This story’s titled is adapted from one of our all-time favorite children’s books: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.
By Mark ‘Buck’ King - It is worth being aware of the government pressure to increase the allowable percentage of ethanol in gasoline. This is just another case of the government ‘helping’ in ways that just might have the potential to do us more harm than good.
Any delay in implementing this is good news for motorcyclists. Better yet would be a complete abandoning of the strategy, but considering the government ‘s capacity to do the smart thing – that is unlikely.
E-15 should not be run in motorcycles. Here is what Cycle World Magazine printed in a recent article:
ETHANOL IN GASOLINE: THE PROBLEMS
 Because ethanol contains one-third less energy per gallon than gasoline, adding ethanol to gasoline leans out the fuel-air mixture, possibly enough to cause damage. Several manufacturers of small engines have said they will not honor warranties if fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol are used.
Recent-model automobiles have digital fuel injection capable of automatically compensating for this leaning effect of E15 fuel. “Yellow-cap” or “Flex-Fuel” vehicles, which make up about four percent of the U.S. auto/light-truck fleet, are able to compensate for fuels containing up to 85 percent alcohol (E85).
 Metal fuel-system parts can corrode as a result of exposure to alcohol. Fuel additives are sold to inhibit this. Solvency of alcohol in certain fuel-system plastics, rubber and seal materials used in older vehicles can lead to softening and swelling. Fuel additives cannot prevent this.
 Alcohol absorbs water from any source (even from the atmosphere). Once alcohol that is dissolved in gasoline has absorbed sufficient water, it can separate from the gasoline and settle to the bottom of the tank. If this separated water-alcohol mixture is drawn into the engine’s fuel-system, the engine will run lean and may misfire or stop running.
 Some fear that the E15 fuel remaining in the blender pump’s hose and pump, when mistakenly mixed into the small fuel volume of a motorcycle’s or other small engine’s tank, might result in a mixture lean enough to cause engine damage. To prevent this, EPA will require customers using the E15 blender pump to buy at least four gallons of fuel. This will dilute the fuel that remains in the hose and pump enough to make it harmless to your bike.
And here is a link to a recent article in RoadRunner:
For more info on E15 check out www.epa.gov and www.americanmotorcyclist.
The Ribfest Rally has been put on by Lee Waggoner for several years and has over the past three years become an official event of the BMW Motorcycle Club of Nashville.
Lee fell seriously ill and was hospitalized on September 29th, 2013. Currently he looks to have a long stay in the hospital but, at the encouragement and full support of his daughter, Ribfest will continue and will be a fund raiser to help Lee pay for his medical expenses.
Lee played a key role in the organization and ultimate success of the rally. In his absence, Steve Page has graciously volunteered to be the point of contact for the Ribfest and he will be assisted by the club as well as the many people who have come forward to help their good friend Lee.
Here are some of the benefits we have already received:
- BMW Motorcycle Club of Nashville – is donating all proceeds of the rally
- Blue Ridge Adventure Training – donating fees for training classes
- GS Giants Club - donating prizes for the silent auction along with donations made for participation in the Woods Trials Course
- Adventure Kartell – Mexico Guided Adventure and item from vendors represented by the Kartell.
- We have items from Twisted Throttle, Giant Loop, and others and we’ll update contributors as they come in.
For more details on these and other vendors, please visit the Ribfest page.
Please join us for great riding, food, camaraderie but most of all to support our friend.
If you can’t make it to Ribfest, please consider making a monetary donation by clicking on the Donate button in the upper right-hand portion of the Ribfest page.