Breakfast in Payson

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May in Phoenix has been simply amazing this year. I’ve been taking full advantage of the weather by riding as much as I can so naturally for a long weekend, some buddies of mine planned a nice ride to soak up these pre-Summer temps.

Originally, three of us were going to ride but the one guy who wasn’t riding a Victory had to cancel. So it was just my buddy Jacob and me along with his passenger, Echo and my girlfriend, Jenn. Jake rides a Victory Hammer. He loves the bike but admits the creature comforts I get along with my Cross Country like music, and saddle bags are really appealing to him. He hated it every time I plugged my phone into the bike so listen to my tunes. He was able to attach his windshield and put some saddles bags on but he told me it wasn’t the same as having a fairing like I have on my VXC. I will say this though, that fat rear tire on his Hammer is pretty boss and like the majority of Victory’s bikes, I think they can be proud of that design.

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We got a late start but it didn’t matter because the day was so beautiful. The high in Payson was going to be 75 degrees. You typically see me write about the cities along the 89A but today was all about the other side of the state and the 87 straight up to Payson, AZ. The 87 is also known as the Beeline Highway and it takes a North Easterly direction out of town past Scottsdale, Mesa, and Fountain Hills.

I set up my Victory app off of my iPhone before we took off. The app has been taken over by RiderX and all in all I give it a “b”. It’s a good app, better than average which is why it didn’t get a “c” but still needs to get the kinks worked out. The tracking isn’t bad and it’s fairly easy to attach a picture to a waypoint but little annoyances like unresponsive buttons and the counter intuitiveness of labeling things make the app cumbersome.

There wasn’t much traffic as we began to head East. Jenn has always told me she really enjoys how comfortable the detachable back rest / luggage rack is for her passenger seat. She has no problem being the envy of other passengers who don’t have that comfy seat. There was just little wind and the skies had a few clouds with plenty of sunshine. It’s two lanes all the way up. The majority of the road is about 65 mph and curvy at spots. There is only one major curve where you need to mind your speed but the most part I was able to cruise comfortably at about 75 mph up the hill and pass the majority of other cars. We were able to climb the 77 or so miles to Payson in about an hour and 20 minutes according to the Victory app.

Riding with another bike in your crew is something I take a little seriously. I am conscientious about spacing and speed. I try to lead by maintaining a line on the left side of the whole lane which is easy when you’re just going straight. But throw on a passenger which adjusts your typical center of gravity and some high speed curves and I wan’t able to be quite as disciplined as I would’ve liked. But Jake was very cool about it and a great rider so we worked well together as we climbed the hill.

Our destination was The Pinon Cafe in Payson. IMG_4513I belong to a Facebook closed group of Victory riders who live in the Valley. The group is made up primarily of people who bought their Victorys from Arizona Kawasaki Victory in Mesa which is a sister business to the store I bought my bike out of in Apache Junction. I posted a question to the group about which restaurant to hit in Payson and got few responses. Other non riding residents of Payson said Pinon was the best so we decided to save the Crosswinds restaurant at the airport for another time. As we arrived and walked in, it felt cozy, and very much like a traditional small town diner. I knew I was in the right place when I saw two metal signs on different walls for Indian Motorcycles. Breakfast was delicious, conversation was great, and soon we were headed back out to find a gas station. IMG_4512 IMG_4510

The ride back wasn’t nearly as open as the ride up because other travelers were heading back to the Valley with their toy haulers. And you could certainly feel the 90+ degree heat as the elevation dropped getting closer and closer to Fountain Hills. IMG_4525The heat off of my engine wasn’t bad at all unless I was stopped. Then it was an oven but that’s just the way it is when you have a 106 cubic inch engine between your legs. One thing I did notice which I thought was cool was on the way back down the 87, as we were cruising through a left curve on the highway, I noticed I could hear the sound of my exhaust pipes as the rumble bounced off of the concrete highway divider. The sound reflection brought a smile to my face.

As the heat of the end of our ride caught up with us, Jenn and I ended up taking a quick detour to a gelato place in the San Tan Marketplace called Frost. It was an almost perfect end to a long, hot ride. I finished my peanut crunch and cookies and cream combo in record time. IMG_4526

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Hard to be humbled

The sun was beating me down as I exited the I-17 highway at 7th Ave. in my boots and dark jeans. The music was blaring and the bike felt good as I was stopped at the light waiting to make a right. I was feeling like a bad ass.

But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Pride comes before the fall. I think I’ve even written it.

I didn’t know what it was at first. Something just fell from the sky and made a splash. It happened so quickly. And then I looked down at the left side of my motorcycle gas tank. I’d been bombed. Some POS bird had nailed my bike and the shrapnel off the bird shit had speckled the bottom of my left pant leg as well as my boot from the knee down. Yup. Just when I was feeling like a total bad ass I was reduced to just another vehicle on the road that got pooped on by some bird who doesn’t know me from anything else.

Lesson learned. Well played, God. Well played.

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Pain(t)

This post is about inevitable heartbreak.

The love affair began when I was on the phone with the dealer. The two of you who are my audience members have already read this but for posterity’s sake I will reiterate. After making the decision to buy a Victory Cross Country, and knowing the paint schemes for the 2013 year models, I really expected to buy a black bike. That was, until Ricky, the Victory sales person, said he had an “orange” one and he was willing to sell it at or below the equivalent price offered for black XCs by other dealers. And there I was, on my old bike, riding down the highway to the dealership in Apache Junction to snatch up the orange Cross Country.

Suede Nuclear Sunset. That is the color name Victory gave to the matte finish paint job on my bike. I already loved orange. I love the color. You might even go so far as to say it’s my favorite color. Because it’s reflective of my personality. To those of you who own black bikes, I don’t have a problem with that at all. Black is cool. No doubt about it. My last bike was black. But orange– orange is unique and to have a bike painted orange you had to have the right shade, the right tone, and the right finish. Not everyone will agree but in my opinion, Victory nailed it.

“What color is that?” “Is that a matte finish?” “Is that a stock paint job?” The color is almost more defining than the brand or the model of the bike. I might even argue, the unique color is what draws people to find out about the brand for the first time. It’s eye catching for sure. I have fellow riders tell me they don’t know anyone else who has the same color bike. Most say it with affection. Some just plain think the color is too much. I don’t care about the haters. They are absolutely entitled to their opinion. I, myself, love Suede Nuclear Sunset. And 2013 was the only year Victory made XCs this color.

But doesn’t pride always come before the storm?

The roads and highways of the Valley of the Sun are strewn with rocks. Ask any driver here — the windshield replacement companies make a fortune out here. If you don’t believe me, consider that Safelite Repair, a windshield repair company in town, is a major sponsor for the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball team. Their company replaces windshields. Their company sponsors an MLB team with a 48,000 person capacity stadium. So yeah, the Valley has a lot of road debris.

I went years without any issues. No chips in my paint. Then, one day, getting off of the VXC, I noticed this:left saddle bag chip

The agony! The anguish! The horror! I know, there is plague, famine, war, pestilence and death in the world. But look at this scratch in my paint job! I mean look at it! For the love of all that is holy, can you even believe this?!?!!! Ugh! And then, as if the pain and loss and suffering wasn’t already enough, when I cleaned my bike I discovered this:IMG_4320

NOoooooooooo! (picture me looking to the heavens with my arms raised in the air screaming as the camera looking down on me quickly zooms out)

Okay, okay. So I’m a little dramatic. But you get the idea. I told my girlfriend, this is God’s way of making sure I understand the priorities and importance of truly significant things in life. And I do. Sure it sucks but, I figure I’ll go to the dealership and the parts department or service will order a touch up can of paint and I’ll get a body shop to make the restorations. I’m confident this isn’t the last time this will happen. So from here you will see follow up posts about the ongoing saga of chipped paint repair. Because, hey, what doesn’t make an exciting blog but the step by step process of repairing scratches. And you wonder why I don’t have a larger audience.IMG_4322

Exhaust sound comparison

These are the stock pipes on my 2013 Victory Cross Country:

Be sure to turn up the volume on these 10 second clips 

In August of last year (yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve purchased the pipes in relation to this post) I was able to get the one and half Gs required to purchase the Victory exhaust upgrade. Here is their site to purchase the part: Victory Tri-Oval Stage 1 Exhaust for Cross Country. For those of you not interested in visiting the site, aside from pictures, here is the meat of what you need to know:

  • Compliant with the SAE J2825 sound standard
  • Does not void the factory warranty
  • Meets EPA and CARB emissions limits
  • Dealer installation required
  • Kit Includes: Performance air filter, EFI recalibration by authorized Victory dealer and Victory Performance pipes
  • Fits all Cross models

Note the required dealer installation. That was about $500 give or take. But there isn’t a way to hear the “richer, throatier exhaust note” off of the website. Which brings me to the main purpose of this post. Take a listen to the pipes installed on my bike that same day:

The “note” was obvious to me right away. As was the look. As was the performance. I was already very pleased with the stock performance of my bike but now the extra power and responsiveness of the throttle make it impossible for me to ever turn back. I took a sporty stock cruiser and made it into a beast on the street — using their stock Stage 1 Exhaust. If you couldn’t already tell, I’ve never had a bike with upgraded exhaust.

I know there are other louder, “better” exhausts out there. And I know this isn’t the loudest of all the pipes on the road. Here is where you discover something about me: I’m boring. I don’t want obnoxious, annoyingly loud exhaust pipes on my bike. The argument posed to me has always been: “You know, loud pipes save lives.” And to that I say, prove it. Sure conventional wisdom says if motorists can hear you from their cars then you’re safer because your more noticeable. And sure, there are riders out there with their personal anecdotes about how their complete lack of any muffler alerted some driver of their existence and saved their lives. But other than conventional wisdom and this rider’s story, what evidence do you have? I googled it and I couldn’t find anything proving loud pipes help. Maybe you can. If so feel free to send it to me. Let me ask you this though: Have you ever been in a police car responding to an emergency with their lights and sirens on? I have. And with bright blue and red lights and a penetrating loud siren, people still had no clue of the existence of the police car. So your argument that loud pipes are going to make a difference in my safety on the road is going to be a hard sell. But to each their own. Have the loudest pipes ya’ want.

As for me, I’m in it for the deep sound as I roll on the throttle and the responsiveness of the Freedom 106 engine with the recalibrated EFI and performance air filter. I didn’t think it was possible to make the bike feel better than it already did. I’ve been riding with the pipes for about eight months now and I love them. Couldn’t be happier. No buyer’s remorse. Yeah they were expensive but anyone will tell you, passion comes with a cost.

Defintion

NMX with dad

Note the Indian Motorcycle shirt

Each year my dad and I go on a trip together. This year was a little special because he just had a successful prostate cancer removal surgery at the beginning of the year and this was our first chance to get together since. Since he is the one loyal reader that I have, he thought it would be a great idea to head to Vegas for the New Media Expo.

What is the New Media Expo (NMX) you ask? That’s a great question and one I had as well. Not really sure how my dad even finds this stuff. But, NMX is a convention for bloggers and podcasters. I will reveal my inner nerd when I say that I am a big fan of podcasts, as is my father. But neither of us are interested in starting or having our own podcast, which was different than the majority of the attendees. But there was very useful training and in regards to Passion106; I think it helped the author.

NMX helped me because I got to see who else had blogs and was blogging. I got to see my “peers”. And in seeing my peers I got a much clearer definition myself. And the clearer definition of me leads to clearer definition of Passion106.

Let’s start by saying, I’m a fan. I’m not a blogger. Yes, I have a blog but I don’t write it for anything but a celebration of the motorcycle I love. I’m not here to build a loyal audience. I’m not here to make money off of ads. I don’t have any cooking tips. I can’t tell you any anecdotes about my baby diaper changing stories.

I’m a guy who likes to write and rides a Victory Cross Country with a really sweet paint job. Which means I’m not relatable. And not being relatable means not having followers or an audience. I might possibly appeal to a quiet niche of nerds who are into the brand of Victory motorcycles. There might be one or two more guys out there like me. And if those guys think this is worth reading then I would be happy about that. But they aren’t why I write.

I’m passionate about the way the bike feels and where it takes me and the experiences I have when I ride. That is why I write Passion106. Sure it’d be nice to get recognition from the company but if that did happen, I have to be honest, it would also suck. If Polaris suddenly deemed me worthy of some minor spotlight (which I just can’t ever see happening) then there would be all this pressure to meet deadlines and post on a schedule. As it is now, this is the first thing I’ve written in this blog in about five months.

Which kind of circles back to definition. I’m a fan. I’m not a writer, or a journalist, or even the best speller for that matter. Which puts me somewhere below Snookie and her podcast on the scale of people who create things which they have no business creating.

In a prefect world, Passion106 would be a conversation. I would have those one or two audience members who weren’t related to me provide info or tips or perspective and we would pass that along to others in hopes they could learn more about the bike and the brand. Because being a fan also means that I’m not an authority. I know all too well how much I don’t know about the brand and about my own bike and about riding. If I didn’t have a life, I would bring in guests from my local area as well as anyone of significance I could grab over the phone and have them weigh in. But not only do I have a life and a job I have to tend to but I don’t have an audience so …

OK, so that’s my rant. I’m not going to apologize for the content of the blog. I accept it and so should you. If there was a point to this it would be so you know the purpose of Passion106. And I hope you know, I’d really like for you guys to weigh in. Comment, criticize, share. Hopefully it’s constructive. Regardless, I’ll be here, if I hear from you or not, trying not to beat myself up to bad for not posting enough because I’m out riding in this amazing Arizona Spring weather and not inside in front of a screen.

Ride safe.