Sunday, September 12, 2021

Badass - The End

Yesterday, amid all the dozens of shows in remembrance of 9/11, I was reminded of a post-9/11 occurrence that has happened almost every one of the many times I have flown since. The airport security line and the simple act of kicking off my shoes always made me think of how Bin Laden has changed our lives forever.  Sure we got him eventually but in the end he won immortality, just like Hitler only better in the sense that he seems to pop up more frequently. I guess another concept of heaven and hell I would wish for might be; at the moment Osama's heart beat for the very last time there was absolutely nothing more for him…but the rest of us will have some sort of consciousness of our families, friends, (and dogs yes) that will go on.

I know my consciousness of another meaningful part of life will at least go on until the end of my days and hopefully beyond.  I am referring to the times I loved riding Harley’s, handlebar to handlebar with my friend, Alonso “Coyote” Munguia AKA “The Last Gaucho.”  

Also yesterday, I found out Al has placed his Harley on consignment as he prepares to make a permanent move to the San Antonio/Austin area of Texas.  Over the past 20 years, the Coyote and I have ridden thousands of miles…to the 100th anniversary of Harley Davidson in Milwaukee, round trips to the Sturgis bike rally, to Street Vibrations in Reno Nevada, to countless charity runs in the local vicinity and to regular breakfasts where we would swap some great lies.  As testimony to the fact I absolutely loved those times, I was typically up before the crack of dawn for damn near all of them.  As further testimony, those of you who have seen my book, "Badass" know that Al was with me through most all of those experiences.

You might also remember the quote that has stuck with me for most of my years; “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”  I am so lucky Al has been with me through such a huge part of my childhood.  But now, as with most good things it has ended. Sure, I plan to remain a kid and may crank up the HOG in the garage to ride around the block once in a while in remembrance but the days of “Badass” are over.

It was one hell of a ride Alonso. Thanks and all the best to you and your great ICU RN wife, Norma on your new adventure.

The Coyote and I on Idaho's Snake River.
Headed for the Sturgis Rally circa 2003

I will always be your friend.

P.S. - Update March, 2022.  Yesterday, I sold my Harley ( to Jaeda.  As part of the deal I included all associated gear.  I am done riding at the tender age of 76.  I consider myself fortunate to have spent the greater part of 40 years riding dirt and street bikes safely and aggressively. (Can you say; "Ten over?")  At this age, I have wondered about my defensive riding skills and now...I don't have to wonder anymore. This is, I am sure, much to the relief of my forgiving bride of near 53 years, Julieann.  Jaeda was thrilled to inherit the "Black Queen" she has finely renamed "Onyx." If she has anywhere near the fine times I have had she will remain thrilled for years to come.

So this is it for this blog.  There will be no more entries here.  To those of you who have been here, figuratively and literally by my side for so many years, thank you for riding along. If you have the patience and interest for other stories about a "charmed" life, check out this blog:


Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Occasional Roar

It has been over 5 years since I last posted on this blog. Now the fire has dimmed to a pleasant glow as I do most of my riding on the 16 mile round trip to Capital Casino and back. It's a mission to engage in tournament Texas hold'em poker and I am fairly addicted to it...winning just often enough to keep a small poker stash and remain fairly even with Lady Luck.
Current ride: Badass IV
Pimped 2008 Street Glide
She's got a load because we're heading for Sturgis!

I have also turned into a fair weather rider in the past few years. Now I like to avoid the extremes of Mother Nature...extremes like rain and hot weather, especially hot weather as it seems we are getting more and more of it in the Sacramento area.

Nonetheless, I still get a kick out of punching that starter and hearing those badass loud Freedom Performance pipes on the Harley Street Glide. Plus, let's not forget I have written two editions of a book, "Badass - The Harley Davidson Experience" and posted more than 50 blog stories about my times on a Harley. That's the kind of love (read-fanaticism) most riders probably identify with.

The last couple of years I have thought about buying my "last" Harley as the look and technical advancements on newer models are getting damn fine in my estimation. Yet, I know my pal and bride of almost 49 years would strongly disagree as I am getting to the age where she would prefer that I not ride at all.

My "prettiest" as Julieann says.
Badass III, 2003 Road King Classic

Another, just as compelling reason to not buy a new one is that I have dialed my Street Glide in and it fits me damn near perfect. I have changed the seat twice and sent the latest one away to get custom fitted with more gel for comfort. I have lowered the front end to match the back and let me stand flat footed while the bike is stationery. This limits my cornering ability and I scrape the floorboards in turns more often but I am much more comfortable at stoplights now. I have changed the handlebars to give me a little more height and a more comfortable reach. 

I have added small aftermarket wings to the front fairing and below the seat for more temperature control. I have changed the mirrors to give me better, wider rear vision. I have more and brighter lights to make it easier for cage riders to see me. And to top it off, I have done a ton of cosmetic stuff. I have received a lot of compliments about the looks and in response I like to say "Yeah thanks, I have pimped it to the max." But....but I really love the looks and technology on the 2017/18 Road King Special so look out folks, the Fat Lady hasn't sang yet!

Badass II - 2000 Road King Classic
at Mark Twain's cabin
on Jackass Hill Road in Calaveras County.
I got her in Sturgis
and put a ton of great miles on her.
Now this may be my last entry on the subject as the passion ebbs. However I would not want that to happen without first mentioning how grateful I am to Julieann Marie for encouraging me to "check one out" over 20 years ago and then putting up with the worry about my safety as I logged easily over 200,000 miles indulging my admitted childhood fantasies. Also, I really appreciate the generosity of Art Jensen, my sister-in-law's brother for letting me use his Heritage during the 1998 Sturgis rally - that hooked me forever. 

I am grateful to have had the best riding pal, Al "Coyote" Mungia, who I think of and often refer to as "The Last Gaucho" along for almost all of my significant rides. Al and I are world's apart politically but when we are on a ride we are handlebar-to-handlebar partners with complete trust in one another. It's a rare thing I believe and I appreciate it.

To those who may stumble across this entry and fancy riding Harley's, or any motorcycle for that matter, I have three suggestions:
  1. Learn how to ride a dirt bike, in the dirt if possible - there you can learn instinctive moves such as getting away from the bike when you inevitably crash. Also how to counter steer...things that will keep you safer on the street.
  2. Take a motorcycle safety course, mandatory in many states.
  3. Go for it!  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Behind the Badass Book

First, editions.
Soon to be enshrined in the Smithson Bar and Grill
museum (seewhatididthere?)
of rare black, pebble grain leather bound books.
As the Badass book second edition
Enters its second year
There is news!
The buttery soft, leather covered
First edition sold out rapidly

(Although I have a hundred or so personal copies I will gladly part with for a princely sum.)

It became an international best seller
When, after just a few months in print
A person from Australia bought one.

Then, just this past year
After relentless demand
(Or maybe it was just my curiosity)
The second edition came out

This was an Amazon exclusive e-book with added chapters,
An expanded chapter, "Riders of the Purple Sage"
And some really astute edits... I think

The award winning (if it were nominated) interior design.
But then... back to the origins. That is, from whence it came...

Once upon a time, a Harley Davidson fanatic
Was also a travelling health care consultant
Who specialized in borrowing people's watches
So he could tell them what time it was

He spent a lot of time on long flights
Learning to obey crotchety stewardesses
And to help kill the time wrote a book
About his runaway fanaticism

Then, one day while
Browsing wares in Seattle's Pike Market
With his blushing bride Julieann

He came across an artisan and poet
Who bound his own works in leather
And also was a self-proclaimed publisher

The fanatic thought...
"Black pebble grain leather, like a biker jacket
Suits Harley riders to a 'T'
So that's how we are going to do it!"

His blushing bride, with a heart too kind, agreed

So the fanatic worked with the artisan,
Editing and re-editing, debating chapters,
Seeking reviews to include with the book,
Reequipping the artisan's fast failing manufacturing facility,
(A one room apartment)
Buying a few black, pebble grain leather cowhides,
And a few cases of paper

In the end, "Badass" was born
And sold via a web site
And sold via the artisan's table in Pike Market
And sold via pressure on close friends to "buy or else"
(Kind of like when your pal throws a Tupperware party knowwhatimeanVern?!)
And sold via postings on Harley Davidson Internet forums

So that is how it all went down.
It was an adventure unto its own self

The fanatic author is tickled at the thought others would
Want to read of his preoccupation with Harleys, and with life.

(Don't forget you can click on the photos for hi-resolution close ups.) can click anywhere on this sentence to check out the book "Badass."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

America's Loneliest Highway

Chapter 30 - “America’s Loneliest Highway” (574 Miles)

Al and I picked up US Highway 50 not too far south of Provo, Utah.  We knew it had a reputation for being a desolate stretch of road between Provo and Carson City, Nevada and we thought it would make a good ride on the home stretch of our great Milwaukee adventure.

This mentality is in keeping with the old adage “it is not the destination, but the journey” in reference to motorcycle trips.  If you don’t understand this, just try it.  Once. Beware though because it is like trying to eat just one potato chip, only better, much better.
Somewhere on Highway 50

Our run to Carson City would take us around 600 miles from the eastern edge of Utah to the western edge of Nevada.  It was our first afternoon of travel on 50 and it looked like we were going to get some heavy rain somewhere along the way.  There were dark cloud formations in the west and we figured they were heading our way.

Somehow we went whipping through them.  It was almost like the highway zigged and zagged on purpose, just to get us through the area dry.  Once, while dropping down off a mountain pass I felt a splash of water and that was it.  It had to be the briefest rainfall I have ever been in. It was like a cloud just burped or something.

A little later, while coming off another pass, we actually got into a shower for a couple minutes.  We didn’t pull off to put on rain gear because we had leather jackets on and our jeans got wet right away.  We were thinking we would just head for shelter when we got off the pass if the rain persisted.  Well it didn’t and by the time we got to the valley below we were dry.  Blessed again by the gods above!  This is just another bit of evidence to suggest He has a Harley Himself.

Highway 50 goes through several mountain ranges, so you find yourself generally in one of three situations:  You are either heading uphill toward a pass, downhill out of one, or on a 30- or 40-mile run across a flat valley floor with great views of the mountain ranges all around you.  I am sure we hit at least a half dozen passes of 6,000 feet or more on our run across 50.

Another feature is there is very little traffic. There is simply no one out there.  It’s like everyone is on the interstate or in a city somewhere and no one is on Highway 50.  If you tour on a motorcycle you know what I mean when I say, “this is perfect riding.”

The Gump Group

In that 600-mile stretch we did see a few small towns and what I call the four Forrests. Not trees mind you, but the Gump type– you know, like in “Gump. Forrest Gump.”  The first one we saw was a biker, as in bicycle, who was out in the middle of a 50-mile stretch of nowhere.  Next we saw a solitary jogger in a similar situation.

Then we were heading through some foothills into a valley and along the side of the road was another solitary figure.  He had two large garbage bags full of something lying next to him and he was sitting cross-legged staring out into the valley below.  Finally we were a few miles out of a little town and there was a guy clad in shorts and shoes only, heading for what looked like nowhere.

Now as I recollect these guys all had some things in common.  They all looked fairly old.  They all had gray hair and beards and they all were thin.  So what the hell does that mean?  Maybe it is this:  If you want to get old, turn gray and get thin, head for "the loneliest highway in America", Highway 50.

That night we settled in at an old mining town named Austin, Nevada. Austin had a handful of stores and three tiny motels.  The rooms were cheap at $35 and clean to boot.  We moseyed (That is what you do in an old mining town, right? You mosey!) up the street to the restaurant and bar and had a couple hamburger steaks with fries backed up by a couple damn fine tallnecks and turned in early in preparation for the last leg home the next day.

Just Stop… And Tip Over

While the Coyote and I were on our glorious run along The Loneliest Highway I had an attack.  It was rapture of the outdoors (a total surprise to anyone who knows me).  As a result, I began keeping an eye out for photo opportunities.  Somewhere on the remote route we passed a very scenic outcropping of rock.  I noticed it had an area right in front where the bikes would look great for a photo.   I happened to be in the lead at the time so I slowed down and gave Al a couple of hundred million signals to indicate we were turning back.  As we approached I left the highway to take a short gravel road to the site.

About the time I got the bike on the gravel I noticed a small almost dry creek was crossing the road.  It also had what looked like a pretty large muddy area I would have to cross.  I only had a split second to assess the situation and came up with zip… nada.  I mean, I could not tell how deep the mud was and I was not going to put almost a thousand pounds of bike, gear and person on it to find out.  So I grabbed a handful of brake, put my foot down to steady the bike, got no purchase in the gravel and gently laid the bike down.  What I mean is… I fell over.

If you remember the television show, Laugh In, you may recall Arte Johnson used to do that all the time.  Picture a full grown man riding around on a little tricycle, coming abruptly to a halt and falling over.  That is what Arte did and that is just what I did.  Thanks for the idea Arte!  So Al came up, laughed at me for a while and then began trying to help me get the bike out of there.

We couldn’t get the puppy up so we finally decided to unload my packs and try.  That worked and we were soon underway none the worse for the wear.  So much for the badass biker concept right?!

Falling over... it has happened to me several times while practically motionless. If it has to happen this is the best time as the worst development is typically a slightly bruised ego.  Conversely, if it happens while you are moving, there are an infinite number of very bad things that can happen.

“So what...” you say, “I have ridden for ten months or ten years or longer and it has never happened to me.”  Don’t worry it will.  As the old Brook Benton standard goes; "It’s Just a Matter of Time."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fake Hip On a Harley

From January 11, 2011

Today, in recognition of our one month anniversary
The fake hip and I went for a ride on the Harley

Only a few miles but I can assure you
Previously I would have shortly felt
Like I had a toothache in my ass

None of that today.  Nope.

So hide all your valuables
And protect your loved ones
The pillaging is about to resume!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Rode dirt bikes in the 70's
Nothing in the 80's 
(Too busy with kids and work AKA "Life")
Then in the late 90's finally...
In the great scheme of things
Was able to buy my first Harley
Wife's fatal words that day were,
"Why don't you go ahead and look?"*
That was my ticket outta' Palookaville

*The one sentence in our 40+ years together that she likely regrets. Well...maybe after "I do."

I immediately caught a serious case of fanaticism
"The Vest"
Notice autographs of Willie G
and his son Bill Davidson
For Sale: $1,000,000 or your first born
(I am looking for a grand kid)
Scouring catalogues and other bikes
For cool things I could do to personalize mine
Also for clothes, knick-knacks, you name it
Anything related to Harley-Davidson
Much to my wife's dismay
After all, how do you correct a kid
Who has hit his mid-fifties?!

I was traveling a lot in my work
That took me to a lot of cities
Throughout the US
I began looking up all dealers there
To visit...and to exercise my fanaticism
A habit likely related to my 
1/4 Chippewa origins
Counting coup as it were...
Except, rather than hitting my enemy with a stick,
Or a hatchet as my ancestors later preferred
I would purchase a dealer pin for my collection
Okay, that was a bad comparison
But I still like to think of it that way

At first I attached the ones I really liked to my leather riding vest
Along with pins customarily given to commemorate bike runs
I also pinned others to a cork board I purchased for my office
Then I ran out of room on my vest
In fact, it got so heavy I retired it from wear
Eventually I also had to buy a bigger cork board

After the first couple of years
I finally got a little more selective
Having noticed, in a very brief moment of lucid thinking
Some dealers stocked pretty pathetic representations of their logos

Perhaps I had the makings of a rational man after all.......
"The Corkboard"
I have been fortunate to visit every one of these, and more
Click on it to blow it up for astonishing detail... 
well, maybe not.

Now, I have more than a couple hundred pins
Give or take
They represent places I have visited from all over the U.S.
Texas to Florida, California to Ohio
Washington to the Carolinas (Didn't find one in NY City)
Even Florence, Italy and Cancun, Mexico
A lot of them are from biker Mecca, 
The Sturgis Bike Rally
And other biker events like 
The Laughlin River Run
And Reno's Street Vibrations

Pins... just one more way for a Harley rider to punch the old
Figurative fanatic's card
Like the t-shirt says 
(yeah I have a mess of those too)
"I Was There", counting coup in homage to my heritage of course...

Still, I am missing, not marbles...pins.
There is work to be done.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Veni. Vidi. Velveeta... (They don't make'em...)

Reno's famous Virginia Street during Street Vibrations they used to.

A recurring September event - dateline Reno circa 10 years ago or so

Veni (I came)
The Coyote, his bride and I
Were to meet early for our annual trek
To Reno, Nevada for the biker event "Street Vibrations"

Both had to work late
The previous night
So they begged off our departure time
I had to get there earlier as I also had
A World Poker Tour tournament
I wanted to enter
I left ahead of them
Had the Harley packed light 
Just for a couple of nights

I should have been forewarned things might be cockeyed that day
But I pressed on
There were warm temperatures on both sides of the Sierras
So I dressed light
T-shirt, shirt and light jacket
Figured I would endure the cold over Donner pass

The trip was smooth and uneventful
Set the cruise control on 80 and let'er rip...
I hit Reno in a couple hours with a little time to spare
So I headed for Chester's Harley Davidson
To present my HOG (Harley Owner's Group) fanatic card
And pick up my 'proof of life,'
A commemorative event pin for members only

Got that done then went to the wrong casino
To enter the tournament
They were both off the main strip
And I'm easily confused
But then repacked the bike
And found my way to the right casino in time

Vidi (I saw)
There I quickly paid up
And had a few moments to grab a bite
Went to the table a couple of minutes early
Sat in my assigned seat
And noticed a player there who looked familiar
I asked, "Is it possible I have seen you on the rectangular screen?"
He said "Yes."
This is TJ
He doesn't look mean at all in real life.
(It took a Poker Hall of Fame pro to knock me out of that
tournament... I'd like to spin it that way.)
I said, "Please forgive me for forgetting but you are...?"
He said, "TJ" and the dealer said his last name but I couldn't make it out
So I said something dumb like; "Well, it's awesome to be sitting at the same table with you."
He turned out to be TJ Clotier
My first genuine poker pro and I was gambling with him
Me and eight others that is

(I'm thinking; 'Wow, these are all pros here? I am in wayyyy over my head.)

Velveeta (OK, so I didn't conquer)
I broke (yes, a play on words) into tournament poker here in Sacramento a few months ago
And have played with some pretty tough hombres
So I was surprisingly comfortable with the table
Got about an hour and a half into the puppy
Was a couple thousand ahead

Then after small initial bets ("blinds"), TJ and I were head to head
After the flop I had a flush draw.
TJ was first to act and pushed all in with over 12 thousand in chips
There was a king in the flop
I correctly assumed he had another as one of his hole, or "pocket" cards
But was still surprised at the size of the bet

I knew I had a 15-20% chance, twice to hit the flush
It would be on the turn (sixth card) or the river (seventh and final) card
I had recently seen one of the top players in the world, Phil Hellmuth
Miss a flush in similar circumstances... three consecutive times in a televised tournament
So I had a little more vivid picture of my chances in spite of the odds

Yet, I had a chance to knock out a Hall of Fame poker player
I took the chance and called
It wasn't to be
My flush missed and I was out of the tournament

I again thanked TJ for the privilege of playing against him 
Wished the rest of the table luck
(Two had been knocked out before me)
And headed on my way with another precious memory
To tuck into the cranial treasure chest

In all, TJ is a really friendly person who plays fairly tight poker
(But I am truly unworthy of judging)
And entertains the entire table with short stories of his past adventures
(That part I CAN judge...)

As for the rest of the trip...
I had a $49 dollar room that night at Reno's Silver Legacy
Right on the strip and in the middle of the biker/vendor action
They close down Virginia Street
For bikes, spectators and vendors only
It was impressive how low key things were...
Not as many bikers and not as many vendors as years past

The recession has made it less than half of what it once was
But the Coyote, his bride and I still got a chance to mosey
Down the middle of the street,
Enjoying the night lights, a damn good Santana tribute band
A couple of beers and a couple of stogies
So it was...beat out of a tourney, a low density crowd and few vendors but great friends, music, and atmosphere

Cheap and cheesy.. just the way I like it... Velveeta
...and a little spam can't hurt either!