Distinguished Gentelmen’s Ride 2015

Unfortunately, I won’t be doing this ride this year. But, you can still contribute! Via Jeff Remsburg’s page.

Jeff and I chatted a little at last year’s ride and rolled out on our Triumphs a few weeks afterward to get a nice fall ride in.

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Bikers For Babies, Kansas City

Last year’s Distinguished Gentlemen’s ride marked my first organized group ride. This is definitely not a part of bike culture that I tend to be involved with.

Yesterday I got a text from Dave about riding with him and his friends at Bikers for Babies. I had a good time with these guys riding out to Greaserama, so I grudgingly agreed and signed up online.

We were meeting at Dave’s at 8:00 a.m. I was there just a hair before and just hung out outside. Jorge and Justin rolled up with a bit more throttle jockeying and Dave’s mom looked out the window and informed us that he wasn’t there. Apparently, Dave took to partying last night. Jorge, Justin, and I went on to the next spot to meet up with some other guys. After the, “hi new guy” festivities, we headed out to Kansas Speedway for the ride.

IMG_0201Registration gave us all packets that included some coupons, a patch, a pin, and not a map. Thankfully Doug noticed this and grabbed some maps. Some road resurfacing caused a last minute change and the new maps hadn’t been put in all the packets.

We meandered around the grounds for a bit looking at vendors stuff and half watching the opening ceremony. I wan’t interested in too much of the stuff the vendors had. I did see and Indian Scout in the flesh, and I am definitely intrigued by this motorcycle.

That's a lot of bikes!There were a ton of bikes! Way more than I really had a concept of. My jaded eyes didn’t like most of the bikes, but it’s pretty awe-inspiring to see 4,300 bikes all ready to ride together.

The first bit of the ride was a little sketchy with everyone leaving at the same time. Our group got invaded by the Harley version of a squid on some temp-tagged, fat-tired noise maker. I just backed up and gave the asshole some space because I don’t want to be around that at all. Luckily, we peeled up for a pit stop and were able to keep a good spacing between our group and the rest of the riders.

Pit Stop!From that point on the ride was nice an uneventful. Just a group of people riding together enjoying some amazing midwestern weather.

Barbecue.We got back to the Speedway just in time to snag some of the last of the lunch. Some barbecue, some liquids, and a little time out of the saddle and we were all ready to head back to Dan’s place to have a few beers and hang out.

I’m still warming up to this idea of group rides, but the last couple have been pretty positive. I’m still anxious about riding with people I don’t know, but I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in to groups of good riders.

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Victory Demo

I’ll say right up front, I don’t like cruisers. The way I like to ride and the ergonomics that I like are anathema to the way cruisers are designed. But, I love bikes and will take any opportunity to ride something new or different.

This demo was on a Tuesday so attendance was pretty light, which made getting the bike you wanted easier. Other demos made you sign up for a certain bike at a certain time. Here, you put your helmet on a bike to claim it.

This is the only demo I’ve been on that hit the interstate. It made for some interesting problems trying to stay in a group of 10-15 bikes while avoiding the other interstate traffic.

victory - 1The first bike I rode was the Gunner. Once I sat down, I was immediately reminded of a Honda VTX 1300. Everything was very nicely put together and felt well built, but it was not really exciting. The motor sounded really nice and had the typical V-twin cadence. Everything felt oversized, the grips, the lever the pegs the pedals. Even the throw of the shifter was big and heavy.

Like all low cruisers, I would change a few key things. First, get the ass in the air. This is just too low. I’ll happily give up “flat-footing” at a stop for better handling and visibility. Second, I like the pegs under me. The foot forward position kills my back makes me feel like I have less control.

The motor felt nice. It’s not a paint shaker like a Harley (good and bad) but it’s got a familiar laid back gallop. Power was surprisingly good, it really reminded me the V-rod. A good, powerful motor that needs a chassis.

victory - 3Next up was the Hammer 8-Ball. Basically the same bike as the Gunner, but dressed up a little different. Especially at the back with a ridiculous 250 mm tire.

I’d never ridden one of the super wide rear tires. I don’t like the look and I couldn’t imagine they would handle well. I was right. By the time you’re leaned enough to get to the radius of the shoulder, boots or pegs are dragging. It’s like wrestling a bear to get off the center of the tire … and then it get light and loose feeling once it gets over. I about tapped out after the first few turns as I didn’t feel like I had control over this thing. I stuck it out, but I didn’t like it at all.

Somewhere deep down, I want to like cruisers. It’s what I grew up around and some of them seem pretty cool. I just can’t seem to find one that works the way I think a bike works. This is my hangup as there are plenty of people that ride these bikes and love it. Maybe I’ll slow down and relax as I get older. But for now, I’ll pass on this class of bike.

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Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride – Kansas City – 2014

I’m not a fan of group rides. Three to five close friends is the most comfortable group size for me. This ride was different.

I wore a charcoal suit, white shirt, red argyle socks, and Doc Marten’s wingtips. The ride to the ride was surreal. I’m used to being ignored or abhorred by car drivers. Riding around in a suit changes that. Waves, smiles, thumbs up … all manner of accolades.

The dress of the other riders varied, but in spirit with the ride. Suits, steampunk-esque goggles, tweed blazers, selvedge jeans. It was great and varied. Just like Kansas City.

Also like Kansas City, we were inclusive. The official rules are somewhat limiting on what type of bike is allowed. This group, eschewed those rules to good end. We raised a good bit of money and the people one the “wrong” bikes were there in the “right” spirit. I did not take part last year due to the rules and not having the “right” bike.

The route started at Coffee Girls in Waldo and headed out to Blue River Road. That’s not populous, but it’s a damned good road to ride on. From there, we headed into the heart of the city as we made our way North to end up at Grinder’s in the heart of the Crossroads.

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