Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Found a Horseshoe...

Life is full of surprises, some good, some, ah interesting.

A curious piece from the world of sidecars came into the Man Cave, 
a UNIT leading link front fork... 

now before you ask WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? 
Well, it's from a defunct British company

Okay, here is a photo.

So still asking...   WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? 

It's a leading link. Okay and...? well it's a modified front fork commonly seen on a motorcycle being used for sidecar duty. It stabilizes the steering and handling as well as reduces front dive when braking.

I feel like the guy who found a horseshoe and a bay of hay. 
Now I need find a saddle and build a stable before the horse arrives.

So a new build thread starts. Don't exactly know where it is going, what it is suppose to be,
nor when it will be completed. It will be interesting, puzzling, frustrating, busted knuckles , adult words in multiple languages, promised ever receding rewards, sleepless nights, internet shopping, long hours waiting for FedEx deliveries, lots of trial and error, and maybe a working sidecar rig in the end. If not, who will shovel out the stable?

With everybody contributing ideas and suggestions, thus adding twists and turns to the process will keep it challenging.

Will have a million questions... like how does one know if a found horsershoe is for the front or the rear?


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Latest Photography Projects & Competition

Have not been writing or riding much lately, May was spent preparing the USCA National Sidecar Rally for the first week in June. As Rallymaster there were many details that needed addressing.

The Rally itself was a great success, our largest gathering in over ten years, 280+ attendees. Two out of three riding days were sunny and clear. so everyone had the opportunity to explore the backroads of southeast Arkansas. Forty sidecar rigs braved the rains and made the Saturday morning parade happen. Thanks to them, the townspeople thought you were great to ride inspite of the gloomy weather.

Did not take any rally photos myself. We had an official rally photographer who took a lot of great photos for the Sidecarist magazine. 

Little by little this year have been pushing myself to improve my photography skills, either in how I take the photo or how I edit and print them. Have entered many of them in the monthly competition of the Northwest Houston Photography Club.

Following are some of my efforts so far this year. You may have seen some of these in pre-production form, that are now finished.

After the storm, northern New Mexico. no ribbon but I like it.

Backwater Bayou, Caddo Lake, Texas, 
took home a first place ribbon

Jefferson Boardwalk, Texas, brought home a third place ribbon
Not bad for an iPhone photo.

Fallen Brother, yet to be displayed, 
Did you know that aspen trees share a root system. Every tree you see here is part of one root system. So they are all brothers, or sisters.

Naked Aspen, took a first place ribbon
Had mixed feelings on this image, but the judges liked it.

Spanish Moss, Caddo Lake, Texas, another first place ribbon
A bird photographer suggested I crop tighter on the bird.  Explained this was an environmental shot with emphasis on the Swamp moss, the bird is a character on a stage adding interest. 

American Gothic, a work in progress
Many times I will print an image, pin it to the wall and think about it.  I like this image but am still considering how I want to finish it.

If I were King..., another work in progress
I really like this image, but might try printing in black and white...?

Black Sand Beach, Iceland, took home a first place ribbon
Was a cold January morning in Iceland when this shot was taken. Up before dawn to be at this location. 

Houston's Lifeline, Bridges, a work in progress
The assignment is Houston Bridges. 
Everywhere you go in Houston you see the eighteen wheeler trucks. 
A photo without them would not be Houston. 

Sand Mountain, Nevada, garnered a first place ribbon
The Sand Mountain Recreation Area on US Hwy 50 in Nevada is a playground of white sand. 
Hwy 50 is also known as the loneliest highway in America. 
There were a few dim lights in the parking/concession area on the right that illuminated the scene.  


Last year I did a photography portfolio, a series of people's faces focusing on their eyes. 
This year the subject matter will be the many facets of the two hundred year old San Francisco de Asis Mission church in Rancho de Taos, New Mexico. All the photos will be in black and white. 

Here is a sample from the upcoming portfolio. Presentation to be in October.

Stay safe, stay healthy, see you on down the road.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sidecars in the Smokies, North Carolina

The month of April found us going in circles on the backroads of North Carolina trying to find the Iron Horse Motorcycle Campgrounds. Today was the first day of the 10thannual Sidecars in the Smokies Rally and we did not want to be late.  


Arriving late Thursday, the weather was nippy, even frosty. 

But Friday morning we awoke to warmer temperatures and a promise of sunny riding weather. A group ride was organized for a lunch run to the The Bistro at the Everett Hotel in Bryson City.

Bryson City is a small town in North Carolina, also known as the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with its wildflowers, streams and winding roads.

Jean Flagler from western New York state is scooting along on her Harley hardtail rig 

Leading the charge through the Smokey backroads  is a Harley with a Sweet sidecar

Dan Ingle on his BMW/Freedom sidecar rig. Dan also has a MiniMate camper like what is mounted on my Rocket/Sidecamper, but he pulls his as a trailer. 

An HP rig (High Performance) with center hub steering
 and exotic European sidecar

After lunch there was a lot of tire kicking in the hotel parking lot, as we admired the customized rigs and made new friends. With a bright sky and dry pavement waiting, everyone soon scattered to ride their own special winding road.

Sadly I could not go with them. My BMW/EZS rig had picked up a self-taping screw in the rear tire that morning, darn those Dragon Tail screws. With the help of fellow sidecarists, Friday afternoon was spent attempting a plug and seal on an stubborn steel belted car tire. Unfortunately neither the pig-tail plug nor the fix-a-flat could convince the tire to hold air.

Check out the sky in this photo...  
you know what's coming.

Not all rides go perfectly as planned, but then that is part of our adventure. Glancing at the sky then the weather forecast, I decided to load the rig back on the trailer for a planned trip further north to Cleveland, Ohio Sunday morning before returning to Texas mid-week. There is a new rear tire waiting on the shelf back home in Texas for our return.

Grabbed some snapshots of the rigs parked 
under cover for the night.

The Iron Horse campgrounds is very motorcycle oriented, dedicated to serving the motorcycling community with a campground layout that caters to two and three wheel riders, offering fuel, air, lodging, camping, RV hook ups, ice, restaurant services and rider merchandise. Their location near the infamous Tail of the Dragon and many lesser known but equally great motorcycling roads makes this a perfect relaxing hideaway and base camp for motorcyclists.

Early Saturday morning, the rains arrived in the form of a cold slow drizzle with low clouds lingering over the campgrounds for the next twelve hours. If not already under a carport, rigs were covered with tarps, tents were checked for leaks or flooding. The cold steady rain hung around until late afternoon. Making for a lazy kick back time for socializing and getting to better know our fellow sidecar pilots. Though it was sad to see all those beautiful sidecar rigs not being ridden, the roads were too wet and too slippery to ride at any speed.

A homemade custom rat rig under tarp, not staying much drier than the contents of his tent.

Even the high dollar factory Hannigan rigs sat idle due to the steady rain. While the passenger would stay dry in that car, the rider would be soaked.

With a break in the rain, asked a couple of the riders to pose with their rigs for shots I needed for the Sidecar magazine. Rain or no rain, they needed clean sharp photos from the rally.

Bob Thibodeau on his 1999 Kawasaki Nomad 
and Motovation sidecar.

Todd Trueblood rides a 1985 BMW K100RS 
with a Dutch EML Tour sidecar.

Relaxing with a cigar, Todd reflects on riding 
the Carolina winding back country.

That's all from the road. 

We're looking forward to the USCA National Sidecar Rally coming up the first weekend in June in Mena, Arkansas. Over 250 sidecar rigs are expected at that event.

See you in Mena, 
ride safe y'all.


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Texas Sidecar Open House

There are two winter photos I could no longer ignore...

In Rancho de Taos, a snow covered Holy family...

...and,  aspen shadows falling across waves of snow...   caught my attention.

Okay, no more snow photos until next winter.


In March the Texas Sidecar Company held an Open House at their new facility in Donie, Texas. Mid part of the State.
Rode the Warthog up, spent the night and rode back home the next day, 250 miles round trip.
 March is nice weather for riding in Texas even if a few showers find you.

Near Donie is the Limestone Power Plant, built across the road from a large open pit coal mine.  Unfortunately the lignite coal in Texas is the high sulfur type so they have to bring low sulfur coal in from a northern state on railroad cars.  

Once someone figures out how to transport coal in pipelines, the railroads will suffer financially.

Arriving at the rally site, set up the sidecamper then walked around, admiring the various rigs there.

Met Rex Cummingham who has been on the road pulling a small camping trailer with a motorcycle for three years now. Rex explained he is raising funds for the Diabetes Association. Rex's son was killed in a solo car accident after blacking out from a diabetic episode. Rex offered to drive his son to work that day but his son claimed he felt fine. nContact LoneStarRider.com for more details.

Inside the new and larger TSC shop, there are sidecar rigs in various stages of completion. And more motorcycles waiting to fitted with a sidecar. Business is very good for sidecar builders this year. 

Out in the yard, various sidecar rigs rode in for the open house. Harleys...


a modern Wing and an older Sportster. 
Sidecarists don't care what brand you ride, as long as you ride three wheels. 
But don't mention trikes.

Though not a sidecar rig, a local gentleman RODE his 1926 British Royal Enfield motorcycle to the gathering. Today the Royal Enfield motorcycles are all produced in India. 

Was very cool listening to him explain the procedure he has to go through to start the bike. I could not remember all the steps so will not try to relate them...
 there were some words to the effect of tickling the fuel...

And what is a sidecar rally without someone having to wrench on their bike. A flat tire was the reason Eric had to break out his tool kit to attend to his Ural rig.

Come night fall, the ole sidecamper looked awfully inviting. Warm sleeping bag and soft pillow. 

Sleeping outside in the cool night air, Texas stars, coyotes singing in the distance, 
what more could a man ask for...

Ride safe y'all


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Cold Snow, Cold Photos

Wednesday morning temperatures were in the single digits... like 5 degrees when I went out. It had snowed all night so I knew everything would look different. 
Drove up to 9400 ft elevation to see the vistas

Rather than more details, the snow covered most everything. Places I had driven to a day earlier were now beyond the reach of my all-wheel drive truck. Being alone, and no other vehicles up here, decided not to risk getting stuck in this remote back country with freezing temperatures. So I stuck to roads that were...  semi-plowed. 

Had to make my own details in the snow.  By trudging across an open field...
(Was wearing my thirty-five year old Alaska insulated snow boots. Hope the seams hold).

 ... to capture the back side image 
of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Chapel.

Drove down to Rancho de Taos to the San Francisco de Asis Church, 
but the snow was falling harder there.

Was careful to protect the camera lens from wet flakes.

And for the color shot of the day, 
mule deer were out foraging for grass under the snow.  You can see the snow on their muzzles where they had rooted deep for food.

That wraps up another day in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Have not decided exactly when we'll return to Texas. So much depends on how fast everything returns to normal there after the infamous power outages and now limited water supplies.

Stay awake and healthy my friends,


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Fresh New Mexico Snow Brings Fresh Images

During a fresh blowing snow front, captured a few more photos in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. Practicing and learning how to control the exposure and focus when it's single digit temperatures with a hard blowing wind. Blowing so hard my tripod toppled over several times. In order to work the camera dials glove free, kept a pocket warmer in the jacket so I could jam my bare right hand in to thaw the fingers between shots. 

Wind whipped dry snow created a mystical effect,
at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Chapel in Angel Fire.

By wandering across the snow covered fields,
 discovered a new view of the chapel.
Am liking this angle.

Below looks like dust on the lens, but 
its the camera capturing the swirling snow as the wind whipped it around the buildings.

Off to a different location, 
have taken dozens and dozens photos of this old cowboy line cabin. Some close up, 
others from a distance trying to capture its abandoned character. 

A line cabin was where the cowboys could take refuge from a storm or nightfall when working the remote sections of a cattle ranch. Back before the valley was developed with a ski resort. 

As the sun was setting, experimented with several different techniques with snow and shadows.
Am not yet satisfied with the results. More work to be done, settings to try.
Since there is no one perfect way of doing anything, its the journey of discovery that satisfies and entices.

Revisited the rusty barbed wire gate. Blowing snow was accumulating 
along the fence that stretches across Moreno Valley. 

Finally for a color shot, 
seeing the white snow on this ristra of chili peppers inspired me to capture this image... 

Fire and Ice

That wraps up another day of photography. The forecast is for more snow tonight, so hopefully I can still get out in the morning and see what we can find interesting to shoot.

Stay safe and healthy my friends, 
hot cocoa by a roaring fire sounds perfect right now.