Freezing fingers and plastic shields

Around this time of the year, when the temperature drops and I take long(er) motorcycle trips, I'm usually able to stay comfortable with enough layers and leather.  My feet, stay relatively warm with thermal socks but regardless of how hard I try, at interstate speeds, the constant wind on my hands and fingers turn them into icicle digits.  I can't seem to find hand protection that can withstand  several hours of 70 mph blasts of 35 - 40° humid air defeating some really great ski gloves.

I've thought about heated grips, electric gloves, bat-wing fairings for the bike and all sorts of concoctions that either were non-effective, too expensive or simply too much trouble to deal with.

Recently, someone sent me a link showing some clear acrylic wind screens that would block the wind and looked like something I could deal with.  They were not too big, not all that expensive and didn't require batteries or electrical hookups, all for $89 plus tax and shipping.  I began thinking on these and figured, "What the heck?  I can make my own!"

Bouncing the idea off my brother-in-law and with a general design in my head, made my way to Home Depot for some materials.  There, I bought a pair of corner braces ($2.87), 3' metal strap ($6), box of nuts and bolts ($3) and a sheet of Lexan ($18) clear plastic.  The Lexan has more flexibility than plexiglas, relatively flexible, can be shaped with heat and most important, is not quite as likely to split or shadow when drilling or sawing it.

After settling on a general design, I cut out a rough draft on cardboard and mounted it on the corner braces that I had attached to the mirror bolts on the handlebars.  Applying masking tape to both sides of the plastic, I transfered the shape from my template with a marker and cut it out with a jig-saw.  The reason for masking tape is two fold; (1) the tape gives you something to trace the pattern to and (2) further reduces the chance of the Lexan splitting or shattering when the jig-saw starts it's cut.  After the shape was cut, I sanded the edges and drilled holes for the mounting brackets to attach the Lexan.  It should be noted here, I recommend using Lexan by brand because my first attempt was with plain plexiglas which shattered when I attempted to cut it out.  It was cheaper but not near as strong.  Add another $8.00 plus gas back to Home Depot on the cost.

It took a bit of time to adjust the angle to be aesthetically appealing and to be effective in blocking the wind  but I believe I have something I can live with for the next 3 months when the weather warms.  This coming weekend, I probably will refine the shape a bit more to remove a few flat spots and make it more rounded.

Hopefully, my new hand shields will keep my hands from losing all feeling on my next 500 mile ride in January or February.


Detroit again

My third run at Detroit will be a short lived version, lasting just two weeks.

Since the clocks have gone back to standard time and the days have gotten shorter, there has been little, if any, exploration time.  When I arrived last weekend, the trees were at their zenith in autumn colors and by mid week, the rain and wind had put most of them onto the streets and ground.  Now, the tree tops are virtually bare and the gray skies afford little to be excited about. There's even a little bite in the air that makes you glad you brought a jacket.

However, I have a need to get out for some reason and since I am one to always seek a bargain and the temptation of finding a unique lens for the camera at a low-ball price,  drives me to pawn shops and thrift stores. So, out I go with smart-phone in hand, Googling "pawn shops" and choosing one, I begin following the turn by turn direction of the provided GPS Navigator.

My first stop was the American Jewelry and Loan.  At 10 a.m., it was already a popular place and the crowded parking lot only sharpened my dodging skills as I avoided running over frenzied pedestrians.  A young clipboard wielding lady greeted me at the door and asked as I walked in, "What brings you here today?"  With a blink, I responded that I was there just to browse around.  With a cheeky smile, she beckoned me to just, "go on in!"   Wow, that's different.

I have to tell you, the patrons of this store aren't the high tea crowd and felt a little out of the place for being (a) noticeably non-local, (b) over 50 and (c) no visible body art.  As I made my way through, I saw an entourage of media people with at least 3 large format video cameras flanked by sound techs and boom microphone grips.

At this point, the lightbulb went off in my head and so I whipped out the Android again and googled "TV pawn store shows" and found myself in the beginnings of a taping session for the truTV's Hardcore Pawn documentary series where the obstinate owner regularly gets in it with his customers.  It's the cheesier knockoff of the more popular Pawn Stars filmed in Las Vegas.  The owner apparently had not arrived, so the crews were drifting around the store getting various shots of patrons.  I have an idea most were there for the TV hullabaloo except maybe a dozen or so lined up to either make a payment or to un-hock something of value they had previously taken a loan on.

Seeing nothing that sparked my interest and not wanting to be part of a TV episode, I made my way out through aisles of fur coats and jewelry cases toward the door.  Outside, I did manage to check out a way overpriced Harley-Davidson before getting out on the freeway to dodge refrigerators in the lanes and getting an eyeful of decaying buildings on the horizon.

This is not the garden spot of the world, especially with winter coming on.

 Lagniappe: Just for fun, since we're talking pawn shops.


Wild Hogs - Arkansas Style

With very little planning other than a desire to go, my friend Louis, my brother-in-law Gary and I fired up on a rather cool Sunday morning headed up to check out the leaves in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains in western Arkansas.

The players



 Yours Truly

I know, don't even start.  Louisiana is a beautiful state in it's own right but hey, it was October and we are not known for our four seasons.  We have the hot humid season and the not so hot humid season.  With that in mind, we figured we would put at least 400 miles on us the first day to get into curvy roads and into the hill country.  
As we began on Highway 7 in southern Arkansas the colors began to spring forth in a way we had not seen at home.  Highway 7 is a well known crooked little pig trail and following the Ouachita River north and was an adventure itself.

Reaching Hot Springs in mid afternoon, we found the city over run with hillbillies coming out of the woods to participate in a downtown Halloween fest.

Monday morning, we waited until an enormous fog burned off.  By 8:30 we were continuing on Hwy 7 toward the mountains.   The colors were even more vivid and somehow managed to distract our attention away from the endless collections of old camper trailers, abandoned refrigerators and old rusty Fords that had not moved in 40 years.  Somehow, the odor of the ever present chicken houses were not that bad.

Being a Monday, traffic was at a minimum and having to pass motor homes was not much of an issue even as we began to ascend Mt Magazine and Petit Jean Mountain.
While it was exciting taking the curves, hills and switchbacks, it was a lot of work that would later prove to be the source of sore shoulders and backs.  Imagine riding a beast 4 times as heavy as you are and guiding that thing by pulling on one horn and pushing on the other while clamping your legs around it's neck.  Nevertheless, I would and will gladly do it again.

Monday night, we found a hotel in Arkadelphia and turned in early.  The next morning, cold again, we rode down to the Waffle House to continue our quest to over-eat.  As we rode up, there was a dual sport motorcycle already parked there.  A "dual sport" is a bike that is basically a street legal dirt bike.  Finding the owner already in there, I engaged him in conversation and found he was from Illinois, had been on the road since June and had been to Alaska already this year. "Mark from Illinois" said he would probably go to the Gulf of Mexico then head back for home.  He said he just didn't like riding in the snow.  I can only imagine.

By the time we had arrived back home in South Louisiana, we had put just over a thousand miles on our bikes.

I say, it was a good trip that cleared my head of a lot of junk and will look forward to another "Wild Hogs Adventure" in the future.