Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ride report: Saturday, 22 February 2014

The weather so far this year has been pretty chilly (more than a few days in single digits). I’ve only been out for a ride once, and that was in January. Connie hasn’t been riding since last year. So, when it became obvious that we were going to have decent weather over the weekend, I got about planning a couple of rides (one for Saturday, and another for Sunday if I could trade riding for chores). We’re engaged in the Big Money Rally 2014, so I selected from that big list of bonus locations to plan Saturday’s ride.

image

The planned route is in red; the dark cyan is the track.

We got started early (well, earlier than I often get going on weekend rides), and headed for the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge, just east of Annapolis, Maryland. There was a big wreck on the outer loop of the Capital Beltway (surprise!), so we did a little detour to get onto U.S. 50 East.

Clear days are an especially nice treat while on the bridge, because it’s the highest point around. I like stealing glances of the ships at anchor, just south of the span. The traffic on this chilly Saturday morning was light; fast forward just a few months, and the weekend traffic can be daunting.

The major theme of this ride was libraries – our mission was to find specific libraries, then get a smartphone photograph of a library sign (free standing or on the library itself), our rally “flag”, and the bike. It’s great when Connie is along because, in addition to being wonderful company, the flag is in the right place in the photograph.

We had a late breakfast at Southern Grill in Seaford, Delaware, a little mom-and-pop diner.

In addition to taking a lot of photographs of libraries, we stopped to do one virtual geocache.

We completed the ride by heading south on I-95, all the way to Virginia.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ride Report -- end of the 2013 Tour of Honor: 26 and 27 October 2013

The 2013 Tour of Honor ends on 31 October 2013, so I had just a few days left to visit memorials and do a little sightseeing on a beautiful fall weekend. I crafted a nice route that would allow me to complete the four New Jersey memorials (Connie and I had previously visited the memorial in Camden, NJ) and visit the memorial in Manhattan. While I was at it, I wanted to do a little geocaching along the way to add a few more counties to the count.

This was my planned route for Saturday, 26 October 2013:

image

With my propensity for dawdling, I wanted to get on the road and head more-or-less straight for my first planned stop in Bayonne, New Jersey. I stopped for a brief lunch at Perryville, Maryland, then got back on I-95.

image

My first [planned] stop of the day was the To the Struggle Against World Terrorism monument in Bayonne, NJ.

I took a somewhat circuitous route to and from the monument so I could take in the local scenery. The Military Ocean Terminal has been repurposed, somewhat. There’s a cruise ship terminal there now, along with a ship repair / graving dock facility (you can see the graving dock on the southern-most of the two long piers in the map, below).

image

These two gigantic piers are constructed of fill, and stretch quite a way out into the Upper New York Bay.

image

My second planned stop of the trip was the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site. There was a little traffic on the approach to the Holland Tunnel – I had a nice chat with some motorcycle (and cigar) aficionados while waiting. My track is ratty because of the tunnel and multi-path in Manhattan. The trip to the site was uneventful, if not a bit slow because of Saturday traffic.

image

I was in a bit of a hurry to get the photograph, then get back to my bike, so they’re not the best photographs I’ve taken this year.

I had great parking while at the preview site. When I pulled up, I read the sign as saying that spot was reserved, but it was only reserved during the work week. So, I was all set. At the moment I took this picture, all the tourists who had been milling about at the site had moved on.

From here, I wanted to head uptown to grab a few geocaches. My planned route uptown was a mess, so I chose to ride north through Chinatown and the Bowery, which is always colorful.

My next stop was the virtual geocache at the Ralph Kramden statue located at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (the traffic was fierce, so I didn’t stop for a photograph).

From there, I wanted to head north to Central Park to snag a few more geocaches, but the roads in the lower part of Central Park were closed that weekend because of the New York Marathon. I bailed on the rest of Manhattan, and headed for some geocaches in Queens. My track to and across Queens was predictably interesting. I did see a R1200GS while crossing the bridge into Queens, so that was nice.

image

I had planned to do a little geocaching at Flushing Meadows – Corona Park I got one cache, then decided to press on.

The light was growing dim when I took this picture, but the graininess of the photograph helps hide some of the more significant flaws of these three observation towers at the New York State Pavilion (which are in serious need of a little needle-gunning, primer, and a good paint system).

I’d left a little later in the day than originally planned, so I wound up leaving Queens somewhat later than planned. I decided to head directly for The Rockaways to snag a couple of geocaches in Queens County.

image

The virtual geocache I wanted to find at Fort Tilden was closed, so I headed west to Coney Island (Defending the Honor of American Popular Culture?!). I’d hoped to find a geocache while there, but I just couldn’t find it.

I did, however, have time to stop for a couple of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, straight from the source. It was a beautiful night to eat outside…I only had one panhandler come by to check on the spare change supply.

I wanted to ride to the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge to do a little geocaching and to get some photographs of the bridge. My initial route had me riding over the bridge both ways to get a cache on the southern end of Manhattan, but I was always willing to drop that if I was running low on daylight.

My traffic-enabled zūmo 665 determined that the Brooklyn Bridge was closed, so all of my subsequent routing went out the window. I knew basically where I wanted to go, so I just headed north to a pair of geocaches adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

image

I got to see impromptu street racing in Brooklyn, and arrived at the scene of a pedestrian-vehicle collision immediately before the emergency vehicles arrived. Wow. That ride north through Brooklyn was awesome.

There’s a geocache across the street from Steiner Studios (which is located at the former Brooklyn Navy Yard). There’s another geocache outside the gate of Quarters A at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I was able to grab both. image

I’ve never before been to the Brooklyn Navy Yard (or any of the nearby sights), so seeing that area was a real treat. The neighborhoods of Vinegar Hill, Dumbo, and Brooklyn Heights are definitely worth a return trip.

I had wanted to see the Brooklyn Bridge at night, so I found a nice spot on John Street in Brooklyn for a photograph.

It was past 2200, so it was time to head back to NJ to find a place to stay for the night. Before getting back on I-278, I wanted to do a little more sightseeing. I took this photograph at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 along the East River.

I was nearly across Staten Island, when I decided that I just HAD to stop for a geocache in Richmond County, NY. So, I did.

image

I didn’t have a particular location to stay, so I figured I would get another couple of geocaches in New Jersey, then figure it out. It was a beautiful evening, and the traffic was light, so I just enjoyed the ride.

image

This is the Quick Stop Groceries in Leonardo, New Jersey, featured in the movie Clerks (the store location is also a virtual geocache).

I also visited a spring that Henry Hudson used to re-provision his ships, but it was far too dark to produce a good picture.

I found a La Quinta hotel in West Long Branch, NJ to bed down for the night.

I got going in the morning, with both geocaches and Tour of Honor memorials in my sights.

The first stop was a marker for Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place (which marks the general location of Deborah Lincoln’s grave).

image

My next stop was the Carranza Memorial in Tabernacle Township, NJ. What a place to visit (especially on a sport-touring motorcycle)!

Next, was a Revolutionary War memorial near Port Republic, NJ.

Next up: Brigantine, NJ.

image

This monument is located outside the Atlantic County [NJ] Library in Brigantine, NJ. It’s a virtual geocache.

My next stop was the New Jersey Korean War Memorial in Atlantic City for another virtual geocache.

My last stop in Atlantic City was the Greek Temple Monument (the World War I Memorial), where I was to take a photograph of Liberty in Distress, and my Tour of Honor flag. This stop was also good for a Iron Butt Photo Tag photograph.

I was running out of time to catch the last ferry from Cape May to Lewes, so I decided to head directly for the ferry terminal.

image

I got to the terminal with enough time to spare that I could ride back to McDonalds for a quick bite.

There was a brief wait back at the ferry terminal, long enough for a few pictures.

I was the first to board, so got a nice spot at the front of the ship.

The sun was setting just as the crew was making preparations for getting underway.

And now we’re underway!

It’s about an hour and a half to Delaware…just enough time to sit down and do a little reading. I had so much cold weather gear on that I spent much of the trip on the weather decks just to keep comfortable.

My only stop in Delaware was the Rehoboth Veterans Memorial.

The ride home was uneventful…I made it back to the barn about 2230. This was an awesome trip.

image

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Late-October 2013 ride

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Got on the road about 1000. Headed right for Bayonne, NJ. Stopped for lunch at the outlet store place. Bayonne was amazing...you really need to know where you're going to find that memorial. Great views.

Got to Manhattan just fine. Took the Holland Tunnel. Lots of GPS bounce, but I knew where i was going. Great parking. Lots of people in the visitors center. Got inside and took the picture, then got back to the bike.

Wanted to go uptown. Nice ride...lots of jaywalkers. Traffic wasn't too bad. Lots of double-parking. Central Park South was a mess. Road into Central Park was closed because of the upcoming marathon. Decided to go to Queens. Saw a GS. Road to Flushing Meadows was interesting. Flushing Meadows has faded. Headed south to Far Rockaway, the to Coney Island. Went north so I could get some pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. Saw the big house at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Steiner's Studio. Brooklyn Bridge going into Manhaytan was closed. Where does Flatbush Avenue go? Saw a guy who'd been hit, lying in the street with a bunch of guys helping him. Ambulance hadn't gotten there yet. Before that, saw two vehicles driving recklessly.

Rode out over Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Stopped to snag a geocache in Richmond County, the headed into NJ. Got a couple of geocaches there. National Park was closed for the day, so i continued south. Stayed at a La Quinta.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Great sleep. So-so breakfast. Got on the road, heading south. Had a couple of virtual caches to get, and two stops on the 2013 Tour of Honor. Knew that the last ferry to Lewes sails at 1800, so headed for the ferry terminal. Got there with plenty of margin. Got dinner, took a bunch of pictures, and enjoyed the ride.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Team Lyle Garden State Rally

I signed Connie and myself up to ride the 2013 Team Lyle Garden State Rally eons ago…I knew that we wouldn’t be riding the Rendez-vous rally this year, and I wanted more time “on the clock” this year in preparation for next year’s Butt Lite 7.

The rally book was released a little early – I pored over it as soon as I could get some time on the laptop. The Team Lyle Garden State Rally is wholly contained in New Jersey. After a little pre-processing of the data, this is what the map looked like:

image

The purple icons have the highest point value, followed by red, green, and blue.

Additionally, there were two "combo” bonuses (if you visited all bonuses of a specific theme, you got an additional bonus). There was a Bill of Rights combo (which particularly appealed to me), and there was a law and order combo. The Bill of Rights combo bonus was worth an additional 30,000 points, and the law and order combo added 25,000 points.

I tried my best to find a route that made the Bill of Rights combo bonus fit within time and distance constraints, given what I expected in terms of Saturday traffic (the original mileage cap was increased to make the Bill of Rights combo bonus more feasible). No joy. I tried to get a good law and order route planned, but couldn’t find enough points to make what I thought might be a good rider points-wise.

So, I worked up a route that visited many of the northern New Jersey bonus locations – that route netted slightly over 69,000 points. I thought that route was  within my capabilities as a rider, and factored in what I thought was reasonable to expect in terms of traffic. I knew from the forecast that the weather would be gorgeous, so I didn’t have to factor in high winds or rain. I couldn’t know what traffic I would find around the state prisons, and I couldn’t predict the impacts of yard sales and festivals (those things are in every rally, and I’ve learned to just live with them).

I used Google Maps and Street View to check out all the locations in advance. I found one bonus location in Newark where I thought the coordinates were a little off, so I was able to correct that according to the street address given in the rally book. Spending those few minutes on Street View helped me to quickly identify the bonus location as soon as I arrived at the coordinates.

Friday evening, I rode to the Hyatt House hotel near the rally start. I got a later start than I intended, as I needed to spend a little time in the office mid-day, so I got to the hotel after sundown. I didn’t bring a laptop, since I knew I wouldn’t have time to develop a route on a computer after the rally books were issued – I would have to do that on one of the bike GPS receivers.

Now, on to the ride.

Here’s my track, showing the bonus locations that I visited (and showing two that I had to shed from my planned route, as I was riding). The start location is the blue icon near Bridgewater, NJ – I rode the rally in a counter-clockwise direction because I wanted the option to shed lower point bonuses later in the day, in the event I got bogged down somewhere along the way.

image

Map data ©2013 Google.

 

The rider’s meeting was at 0830 on Saturday – that’s where we received the rally book, and learned of the wild card bonuses. There were wild cards for photographs with LEOs, photographs with LEOs with emergency lights on, photographs of WRONG WAY signs, photographs of NO RIGHT TURN ON RED signs, and a wild card that allowed us to substitute another location for any one of the Bill of Rights bonus locations. I quickly recomputed my Bill of Rights combo bonus ride, accounting for the substitution wild card, but still couldn’t make it work for me. I made a couple of quick notes on my tank bag sheet of the bonus locations that weren’t part of my base ride, intending to see if I could work up a good substitution as I rode throughout the day.

With rider #28, I was in the last group of riders to leave the parking lot at 0905.

The first stop was a Frank Lloyd Wright house. I knew it was going to be difficult to get a picture, given the fact that the house was off the road (and was a private residence).

The next stop was the David Brearley grave marker. The gate was locked, so the best photograph possible was this sign. The area around the cemetery is interesting – while I was there with several other riders, local residents were conducting a fund-raising campaign.

From there, I was off to take a photograph of the dome on the New Jersey capitol building (the bonus location symbolizing the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). I knew this one would be tricky, given the proximity of the road and the resultant sight angle.

The next stop was a house that is surrounded on three sides by one of New Jersey’s state prisons. This was another very interesting neighborhood in Trenton – worth a return trip someday.

This pretty church in Jackson, NJ was a 1st Amendment bonus location. I had to get down on the driveway pavement to get the shot – I was worried that someone might drive by and see me lying on the pavement, next to my bike! This was one of the 1A stops.

The next garden spot in the Garden State was this prison in Rahway, NJ. There, I learned how many people visit the prison on a Saturday, and how well they can navigate while texting and talking on their cellular telephones.

I had been looking for a good Bill of Rights wild card to replace the County Courthouse that I wasn’t going to visit in south NJ, and I happened by the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, NJ.

Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth, NJ was the next stop. George Washington ate lunch here.

Northern State Prison was the next stop. The prison staff didn’t appreciate having motorcyclists stop by to take photographs of the prison guard shack from the public roadway. No Terry Stop for me, but not all riders were so fortunate.

Northern State Prison is a little challenging to get to, given the maze of roads and ramps in the area.

Next stop: the Star Ledger building in Newark. This is one stop where Street View was a huge help. This was one of the 1A stops.

There’s a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house behind this gate. Honest.

The State Police Barracks along this stretch of the Garden State Parkway in Bloomfield, NJ was next.

I knew, from watching my progress against my plan, that I needed to shed at least one of the planned bonus locations to get back to the rally headquarters with sufficient time margin. I dumped a visit to Wright Brothers Field in Moonachie, NJ, which gave me a little margin back.

As I rode north, I dumped a visit to William Paterson University for the same reason, and found that I had about 40 minutes of slack in the schedule to make the final half of the ride. I felt comfortable with that, given that the riding in the more congested part of the state was behind me.

I was very comfortable with the ride by this point – I thought the worst traffic, construction, and traffic lights were behind me and that I just needed to put in a solid ride back to the finish.

The next stop was Gun for Hire in Woodland Park, NJ, where I was to take a photograph of an employee holding my flag. This was the 2A stop.

Next stop, Parsippany, NJ, to the Livingston-Benedict house.

The county sheriff’s office in Newton, NJ was the 4A stop. This stop was a bit tricky for me – I had to backtrack a block to get into position for the photograph.

This sign in Blairstown, NJ was the 6A stop. I rode around the adjacent building to see if there were signs on the other side, but this was all there was.

There were three bonus locations in a very small area – two in Port Murray, NJ and one in Washington, NJ. The State Police Barracks in Port Murray looks like this:

The 3A bonus was this tank in front of a NJ National Guard armory.

We were supposed to stop at Washington Cycle Works in Washington, NJ to buy Ron’s Famous Peach Cobbler, but the shop closed at 1500 on Saturdays. No peach cobbler for me…or the Rally Master.

The final photograph of the day was of a mailbox in Lopatcong, NJ…this was a 1A bonus.

I was low on fuel, and still needed to find a few sign wild cards, so I headed back to rally HQ with my eyes peeled. I got fuel and three WRONG WAY bonuses with one [long] stop.

I got back to rally HQ with minutes to spare, then got my stuff together for scoring.

I finished with 79900, which I was very happy with.

I’m looking forward to next year!