First Ride of the Season, No Fooling!

I finished my lighting updates (well, mostly, still waiting for the brake lights in the license plate frame) and buttoned up the Wee.  The weather was pretty nice at 55F and partly cloudy, so I decided to take it out for a ride.

I filled it up with premium ethanol free gasoline, and off we went.  Took it easy, as I had not ridden since October.  It felt good, and the bike handled really well and the ride was fun.  I wore my new riding pants for the first time too.  They were comfortable, and provide good protection.  It was a good choice.  I just hope they hold up, as I plan to spend a lot of time in them this year.

I stopped for a picture at the public boat landing on the Wendigo Arm of Pokegama Lake.  As you can see, winter is letting go of its grip on the landscape.  We might be ice free in a couple of weeks!

Wee at Pokegama Lake

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Getting the Driving Lights Ready

I purchased a set of LED driving lights last fall, and now that Spring is not too far away, it’s time for installation. I also got an EB  3CS fuse/circuit solution with relay for the VStrom. This made the job of providing power pretty easy.

I wanted to mount the lights on my crash bars , but they were narrower than most standard mounts would fit.

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Getting the Wee Ready for the Big Trip – Part 1

The spending has commenced…

I’m getting ready for the big trip to Alaska this summer, and and have to make sure the Wee is road worthy.  The Suzuki V Strom DL650 is the perfect machine for this trip, but being 8 years old, I want to make sure the critical components are ready for the eight thousand mile adventure.

So, I’ll be doing the following maintenance before I leave in late June: tires, brakes (pads and fluid), chain and sprockets, coolant change, oil change, and some lighting improvements.  My good friend Dan has offered to help with the tire and brake stuff, and I will tackle the rest by myself.

So far, I have acquired:

  • Mitas E07 front and rear tiresTires: Mitas E-07, front and back — with cross-ply construction and a chevron tread pattern that grips both pavement and gravel surfaces.  I considered a couple of contenders, including the Shinko 705s and the Heidenau K60 Scouts, but after doing lots of research and checking with other riders that have done this trip on my style of bike, I settled on the Mitas.


  • DID X-ring ChainChain: D.I.D. 525VX Chain – length: 118 links. D.I.D’s Patented X-Ring design has the best sealing properties of any O-ring chain, D.I.D X-Rings keep the dirt out and lubrication in for the longest wear life.  The X-Rings twist between the side plates instead of being squished to reduce friction and minimize power loss.  Marketing crap I know, but still rated well in the rider community.


  • JT Sprockets 15/47Sprockets: These high carbon steel rear sprockets are heat treated for maximum durability and long life, countershaft sprockets are made from chrome-moly steel for superior strength and durability.  The front is 15T and the rear is 47T — Standard gearing for the bike.


  • Galfer Brake PadsBrake Pads: Galfer Semi Metallic Brake Pads front and rear.
    • Great feel and modulation for OEM replacement
    • Long lasting and very little rotor wear
    • Good in wet and/or dry conditions
    • Overall a very versatile compound for almost every need


  • Brake Flasher and LED lightsLED lights  and flasher for brake light modifications.  One of my biggest concerns whenever riding, is being rear-ended by a car or truck.  Especially in the era of cell phone talkers and texters.  So, in an attempt to be more “seen” I will add a series of bright red LEDs and a flasher on the back of my bike.  I have not yet decided where to install them, either on the top box, or on a light bar above the license plate.  I might even put them in my side bags, who knows.  I’ll post pictures and a video in a future blog post.


  • Action CameraAction Camera: I thought it would be fun to record some video of my trip, and considered buying a Hero.  The cost of those things scared me off for a while, but then I found some cheap knock off units.  Again, after lots of research, and reading reviews, I settled on this little bugger for only $60.  I’ll post an example video after I get a chance to ride my pedal bike in a couple of weeks.  (I have high hopes that this thing will suffice.  I don’t expect Hollywood quality movies, and think 4K video is overhyped.  This camera will shoot 1080P, but I plan to record in 720P to reduce file size (for editing) and extend recording time.)

I am anxious for some nice weather to make its way to Northern Minnesota so I can pull the Wee out into the garage and start working on it.

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Crashed the Wee

I was heading home after work on August 31st, and decided to avoid the busy intersection of Pokegama Ave and Hwy 2.  The left turn lane which I needed to use was full, and I did not want to risk getting rear ended in all of the congestion.  So I proceeded a block further West, to a less buy intersection.

The traffic was backed up, in the oncoming lanes, but the drivers left the intersection open (as they should).  I proceeded to take my left turn, and just as I was half way through, at truck in the right lane started to proceed.  The painted concrete brick pattern surface offered little traction as I braked, and down I went at 20 MPH.  At least I did not hit the truck, and he avoided me.

I was wearing my helmet, gloves and armored jacket, but regular work pants.  I went down hard on my left shoulder, and broke a rib, but had no other road rash or damage on my upper body.  My knee was dragged across the pavement, so it got scrapped up pretty bad.  My left boot blew up too.  Sure wish I had armored pants on my legs.  Next on my list.

Emergency responders were pretty quick to the scene, and were amazed that I was not hurt worse.  Good gear paid off.  Better gear may have paid off even more.

The Wee got scraped up pretty good on the left side, and my left turn signal was broken, as well as my windshield.  Luckily I had a spare windshield, and was able to tape up the turn signal.

I got back on the mule, and rode it home.  A little shook up, but the stiffness did not sink in until later that night.  What really scared me was that I had planned to ride to SD for the labor day weekend.  I hoped I would be in shape for it.

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NE Mn Circle Tour on the Wee

My good friend Jack and I went for a one day circle tour ride through NE Minnesota. We decided to take a trip to Ely, then over to the North Shore of Lake Superior, and back home. We started out on MN Highway 38, which is narrow, curvy, and lined with dense forest and lots of lakes. Effie MN was our first waypoint.

From Effie, we headed East towards Cook, and passed through Togo. This was the first time I have ridden this road. We passed a small correctional facility way out in the boonies, but the highlight of this section of road was the two wolf pups that crossed the road right in front of us. We slowed down and got a pretty good look. They did not pause for photos.

This section also had a few twisties, but there were a half dozen or more 10 mph 90 degree corners. Mix in a little gravel from intersecting roads, and you’ve got an interesting maneuver. No spills, we exercised a little caution!

It was a little cool and overcast when we started out, but the clouds started to break up about two hours into the trip. I was getting a little chilled and by the time we got to Ely, I was down right shivering.

We stopped for lunch at the BoatHouse BrewPub. Nice little place, and they make great beer too. I had a flight of beers. (Four 4oz samples). I really enjoyed the peanut butter chocolate porter.

Jack let me borrow an extra sweatshirt he brought along, and we headed off to our next destination — the North Shore of Lake Superior. We continue along MN Hwy 1, and it is one of the twistiest roads in the state. Narrow, windy, hilly, rough, and close quarters with trees and bedrock outcrops.

My Wee on Hwy 1
The scenery approaching Lake Superior on Hwy 1 is breathtaking. My spouse grew up in Silver Bay, so I have seen this area a lot. Sorry I did not take any pictures here to post. We drove though SB, and took the back roads to Beaver Bay. Then, down MN hwy 61 towards Two Harbors.

We stopped at Betty’s Pies (if you are from Minnesota, you’ve heard of the legacy) for a treat. The line was way too long for anything by pie to go, so that’s what we got. Yum! I ordered two slices, one for immediate enjoyment, and the other for later. Jack got a whole caramel apple pie, at a slice from it, and my Bestem pod safely got the rest of it home.

Castle Danger Brewing’s taproom is only 7 minutes from Betty’s Pies, so off we were. We arrived at about 3pm, and got their before it became too crowded. We each had a flight of their beers. Sorry, no pics. Dang!

Scenic stop on old Hwy 61 South of Two HarborsTwo Harbors is a small town, and the North Shore of Lake Superior is a huge tourist destination. That spells TRAFFIC. We got through it, and headed towards Duluth. There is a divided 4 lane highway from TH to Duluth, and most folks take that route. But, the original highway (US Hwy 61) ran along the lake as a two lane road. It is now considered the Scenic Route. We opted for this more leisurely way. Glad we did too. The lake was beautiful today.

We got through Duluth and decided to take a more scenic route home, and avoid US Hwy 2. Hwy 210 through Jay Cooke State Park was our chosen route, and off we headed. Unfortunately , heavy rains earlier this month caused a road closure, and we did not know in advance, so we were committed to finding an alternate way. Mrs. Google’s maps application came through, and we found some County roads that would get us back to MN 210.

We encountered a little light rain, but didn’t need to suit up. Nonetheless, it looked ominous at times, so we high-balled it the last 80 miles.

Total Trip distance 389 miles. 11 hours. 7.645 gallons of fuel (premium)

I am sure glad we didn’t let the 50-60% chance of rain in today’s forecast dissuade us.

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First long ride on the Wee

I took my first long (500 mile weekend) ride on the Wee this weekend.  I rode to New Ulm from Grand Rapids to join my HS classmates at their monthly mini-reunion.  It’s cool that they get together so regularly.   Usually there are not very many folks there, but it is still fun.  I try to make it once a year.  This picture is at a little scenic overlook by a heron rookery off HIghway 15 just South of Dassell, MN.

Pigeon Lake Scenic Overlook

It was a perfect weekend for a ride.  I’m sold on this motorcycling!


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I bought a motorcycle.

I’ve been wanting one for a while, and my friend Dan helped me pick this one out.

Suzuki V Strom DL650.

2009, 20K miles

Can’t wait to get used to riding it.  High hopes.

My New 2 Me V Strom

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Cayamo 2015 – Day 5

Wedensday, January 21, 2015

Another day at port. This time St. Croix, the port at Frederikstat. Beautiful island, not much to do for a tourist like me. We were hoping to take an island tour, but all they had were 15 passenger vans. I would have been so uncomfortable and would barely be able to see our the window, so we passed.

We hiked around a bit, wandered out of the main street but quickly chickened out as the area looked pretty depressed.

We found Polly’s at the Pier to get Internet access, paid the minimum bill to get the password, and immediately discovered that the signal was poor, and the speed was worse than poor 300 baud dial-up. I gave up!

The ship was scheduled to leave port at 4pm, so we did not spend a lot of time on shore.  We headed back to enjoy some time on the sun deck reading a book. I finished two so far. 13 1/2 and Personal (Lee Child)

She started things out on the pool deck. Same songs she sang with John Prine . Not much to say. Afterward we took a nice long walk on the promenade deck and then headed to our headliner show…

He’s an icon, and everybody loves him. Most of his show was super loud electric guitar and base and drums. We’re talking eat plug time loud. But he did perform three songs with his ccoustic guitar. That was a real crowd pleaser. I really enjoyed them. Barely tolerated the rest. Sorry Richard.  It was physically painful to my ears.

in the Spinnaker Lounge… We saw part of his show here the first evening, but had to leave early to see Lyle Lovett (believe me, it was hard to leave). So this time I was looking forward to the full gig.

Noah started out with his full band and he let them loose to do an ear piercer.  I think he does it to let them blow off some energy.  After that, it pure beauty.  He played several songs from his newest album, and some traditional folksy songs.  It was really nice.

I did not get a good video of Noah and his band on the boat, but here is a live, in studio performance in Seattle..  Enjoy.

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Cayamo 2015 – Day 4

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Today we stopped at Saint-Barthélemy, (St. Bart’s) an island in the French West Indies.  Its capital is Gustavia, which also contains the main harbour to theDSCF2919 island.  The language, cuisine, and culture, of this island are distinctly French. The island is a popular tourist destination during the winter holiday season, especially for the rich and famous during the Christmas and new year period.

We’re here for just the day, and we are definately not rich and famous.  So, there is not a lot four us to do on the island (we did not take the Tender to show until after lunch, as we spent the morning reading). Here’s a little slideshow of some scenes from St. Bart’s..

This evenings concert schedule is a little light. We start our with a little bit of Holly Williams in the pool deck at 6pm, then shifted into the Spinnaker Lounge to see Sierra Noble. After that a quick dinner,a little book time and then back for more music.

We saw him the first time on Joe Purdy’s late night round robin. Edwin is a great songwriter and a pretty good vocalist. And a darn good guitarist too.  He was joined on stage by his sax player named Craig Shields and lead electric guitar player Larry Chaney.  They’ve been paying together for many years.  I don’t know why I’ve never heard of him before. I wonder if KAXE has his music in their library. If not, we need to get some.

It was his birthday, and some guys cut into his monitors from off stage and started singing way off key. We did not know what was going on but then a parade of his friends rolled down to the stage with a huge cake, clowns and balloon figures. They roasted him a little. It was really cool.

Jill did a set in the Spinnaker at 11pm. She has such a beautiful voice, lots of range and control, it’s an instrument in itself. It is too bad the she or the sound guy want to distort it and bury it under electric guitar riffs and drums way too loud for the venue.
She did a couple acoustic pieces, but they too were over mic’d for my taste. The band is great. Sound was overboard. Chose to leave halfway through. Too bad.

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Cayamo 2015 – Day 3

Monday, January 19, 2015

Started out the day with a nice walk on the deck. The ship captain’s log said the seas were ‘calm’ but it does no account for the mild pitch and roll caused by decent swells.  One has to walk consciously, it is not automatic today.

We spent a little book time early today while listening to the Skyline Motel Band playing on the pool deck.

Joe played another set in the Spinnaker Lounge and I took it in. Chris John Hillman and Luke Bulla played with him. Joe is fun to listen too. He tells good stories, and is so natural.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Joe epitomizes the folk/troubadour tradition, and I really love his music and storytelling.

More book time on the pool deck, listening to this rock band from Ohio.  They are really good, and the sound was great on the pool deck.

These folks play in the Spinnaker Lounge at 7pm.  I was not sure what to expect. I have seem some of their music on YouTube and got some music from noise trade, but only a limited amount. Turns out they are really good. I’m enjoying their concert immensely, as they didn’t try to blow the paint off the walls.

Great stage presence and music.

We signed up for this year’s trip on the boat last year, and all of those who did so were enrolled ‘The Blind Faith Society’  This entitled us to a special show on the boat for members only. An was it ever special!The StarDust Theater was packed, first come, first seated. We got there early, and choose seats 9 rows back dead center.

There were two chairs on stage, a pair of mics, and three guitars. Two of the guitars looked familiar. And then…The little guy stepped our from behind the curtain and we knew we were in for a special treat. Then a young woman stepped out and John Prime introduced her as Kacy Musgrave.

They did an amazing show for us. Just the two of them and their acoustic guitars.  They alternated and sang a few JP songs together.  It was tons of fun.  Made the whole trip worth it.  here’s a little of the show, compliments someone who had a better recorder than me.

I had listened to a few of Kacey’s songs on YouTube before the trip, and I must admit that I thought she was just another disney girl. But this young woman is talented.
Jill did a set in the Atrium lounge.  Her first song was solo acoustic, and I was hopeful, but knew there would be a full band. It was, and they were good.  She did my favorite of her songs.  But is was nothing like I had grown accustomed to listening to online.  In that setting it is difficult to pick out the range of her voice

Amy Speace played in the Spinnaker Lounge at 11:30pm.  She had a small band with her, a violinist and a guitar player.  She did a solo, then ‘the killer in me’  after a couple more, John Fulbright joined her to sing ‘the sea and the shore’.  Very nice, we were hoping that he would join her, so that was a treat.

It was a nice way to end the evening.

John’s family was in the lounge to watch. I would have liked to say hi to his parents, but we left a little early.

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