I completed the Team Strange Airheads Grand Tour today.

The goal of this tour was to spell out the phrase "Team Strange Airheads 30" by visiting cities that start with each letter in the phrase.

Here's a link to my photo album showing my bike and rally flag in front of post offices in the cities I used:


I did the first block of five or so with local cities on my way to work a few weeks ago. The second big block was part of the Fall SaddleSore ride to northern California. I finished off the remaining ones today, with stops in Azusa, Artesia, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, and Alhambra.

I rode in the 2014 Park 'N Ride rally today. I had a good route plan, but there were way too many traffic issues throughout the day, and I had to cut bonuses out one by one to keep with the schedule. At the end of the day, I was faced with the decision to either head straight back to the barn, or risk missing the hard-and-fast 3:00pm deadline by stopping at the Crystal Cathedral. I had a feeling that skipping the Crystal Cathedral would remove any chance I had at winning, so I made the stop.

But that extra stop caused me to miss the deadline by 3 minutes, causing a 50% deduction in my points. My friend Erik Lipps had the winning ride in any event, and earned his victory.

Installing LEDRider LR4 auxiliary lights

I took the day off of work on Friday -- use it or lose it, and in my cranky old age I'm increasingly reluctant to give back earned vacation time -- and started installing a pair of LR4 auxiliary lights, from LEDRider. I finished up on Saturday -- the actual install time was about 2.5 hours or so, but I took my time and went into the house at regular intervals to escape SoCal's 105F/41C heat.

I had a set of Hella FF50 installed, but the switch setup was half-assed (at best - it was embarrassing to take the bike to Hal for service), and the light output was underwhelming. Last May, on a BBG in central Nevada (at the Team Lyle Silver State Round-up), I had a revelation -- these lights were just not good enough for the appointed task. When I got back home, I ordered a pair of LR4s, along with Justin's dimmer. I finally got around to doing the install starting yesterday on a day off of work.

Removing the Hella's was straight-forward, and I took the opportunity with the B and C panels off to remove some obsolete wiring and clean up the remaining runs behind the dash panels. I chose to hook the dimmer up to my high-beam circuit, which is pretty cool -- when the high-beams are off, the lights use the dimmer setting, and in this mode they work great as conspicuity lights. (My dimmer is set to about 30%)

But when you turn on the high beams, the LR4s go to full, awesome illumination, with a very high lumens-to-power ratio, which is especially helpful on Gen I's with their limited electrical surplus.

Since it's mostly a set-and-forget install, the dimmer sits in the glove box, and per Justin's recommendation I put a 2A fuse between the dimmer and the high-beam circuit, for extra safety.

For the ninth time in a row, and fourteenth overall, I rode 1000 miles on the first day of a new season. The Iron Butt Association will send you a "SaddleSore 1000" certificate if you document a ride of 1000 miles or more in 24 hours with receipts from gas stations and witnesses at the start and end of the ride.

Starting with Spring in March, 2010, my buddy Doug and I did 1000 mile rides on five straight season days, but then I had other commitments and wasn't able to do the Summer ride in 2011. I took a few seasons off, but started again with Fall in September, 2012. I haven't missed one since. The goal/plan is to get 18 in a row - which would give me four straight calendar years with all four seasons, like a 4x4.

I'm also doing this year's Team Strange Grand Tour. I have to spell out the phrase "Team Strange Airheads 30" by visiting cities whose names start with the letters in the phrase. (Temple City for T, El Monte for E, Arcadia for A, Monrovia for M, and so on.) You take a photo of your bike, your rally flag, and the name of the city on its US Post Office building to show you visited the city.

For the "30", you have to take a photo of your bike in front of a sign for a state or county highway numbered 30.

Since I was going up north to visit with Justin for my Fall Season SaddleSore, I came up with a route that would get me a bunch of the cities I needed for the Team Strange tour, and even found Tulare County Hwy J30 in Exeter, east of Visalia. (I checked with the Team Strange folks, and they the "J" in the highway designation was okay by them.)

I left home around 6:30am, and headed north to Exeter for gas, the Post Office, and the J30 sign. From Exeter you go through Visalia on the way to SR-99, and then it was just a short run up to the Goshen Post Office. (I had been chatting with my buddy Cory about my ride plan, and he's the one who mentioned Goshen. He grew up in nearby Lemoore.)

On the way north I stopped in Elk Grove, and then met Justin for lunch at the Claim Jumper in Roseville. We caught up on his job and housing situation.

There were huge wildfires east of Sacramento that were generating a lot of smoke, so my original plan to head north-east on I-80 had to be changed. In a car, the smoke is manageable, but on a motorcycle -- even with a helmet -- my eyes were watering, and it didn't make sense to ride into the heavier smoke further east.

So, I consulted with Justin, who knows the Bay Area traffic situation really well, and we came up with an alternate route. From Roseville, it was south on I-5 to Santa Nella, then west on SR-152 to Gilroy. (We needed pomegranate juice back home for Carole's protein shakes, so I stopped at Casa de Fruita and picked up 4 bottles, which is all I had room for in my side bags.)

From Gilroy I went south to Paso Robles. Along the way, my buddy Ted hunted me down using my SPOT track, and pulled up along side me on his Gold Wing. We pulled off US-101 just before King City and had a nice roadside chat. Based on his suggestion, I decided to head east from Paso Robles on SR-46 and head over to I-5.

Because of the route change in Roseville, I was short of the miles I needed to get to 1000, so when I got to I-5 I headed north towards Harris Ranch, then back south. The stint from there back home was quick and painless, with very little traffic.

I pulled in around 1:30am, with more than enough miles, and a few post offices to use for my Team Strange tour.

A fun day all around.