Mid Atlantic Riders’ Rag November 2003 BMW MOA Charter 280 The Monthly Newsletter of the Mid Atlantic Riders Dave Cowgill President (302) 378-2682 Pete Mazzella Vice President (302) 645-0619 Dan Davis Secretary (302) 697-9421 Paul Reburn Treasurer (302) 737-8668 Bud Heberling Webmaster (302) 398-4008 Ed Lombardi Editor (302) 453-8666 From the President T he season's winding down but there's still time for some great rides. Along with a noticeable chill in the air and the change of colors on the trees come the added hazards of wet leaves on the roadway and lots of downed branches and twigs. They all add up to acting like grease or ball bearings under our tires, so keep a sharp eye out and make sure you signal to your buddy behind you that there's a hazard at hand. Speaking of hazards, a friend at work is recovering from a close encounter of the ugly kind while riding his Kawasaki Concours earlier this season. This took place on 495 east of Wilmington, but could happen anytime, anywhere. He was running 65-70 in the right lane, with a buddy close behind and off to his right. A vehicle just ahead and to the left struck an Next Breakfast object that was lying on Our next breakfast will be at Dover’s Best the roadway, kicking it up and out towards the Diner at 9 AM on Saturday, November 8. first rider. He caught a glimpse of it and thought it was a piece of cardboard. WHAM!!! It was a short length of 2" steel pipe! Fortunately, it struck the fairing first breaking out a large section. Next, it completely tore off the left footpeg and bracket, trying to take the riders foot along with it! He managed to keep the bike upright and coasted off to the shoulder almost passing out from the pain. The pipe missed his buddy who stopped and called for an ambulance. It turns out that, amazingly, nothing was broken except the motorcycle, which has since been repaired. His foot was badly sprained and contused but still attached! Four months later there is still pain and discoloration but he's riding once again. Total elapsed time of the incident? About 1-1/2 seconds! Please, friends, be careful out there. On another note, your committee is busy making plans for different events and activities to keep you all active and involved with your club through this fall and winter season. Please give them your full support whenever and wherever possible. From the Editor A lmost all of the members have the newsletter e-mailed to them; five don’t have an e-mail account and they need a paper copy. I’ve been asked several times if I could send a paper copy to everyone because it’s easier to read a printed copy then trying to read it off of the monitor (where it’s usually quickly scanned and deleted). The August issue taught me what’s involved in printing and mailing a newsletter to every member. The August issue was the largest so far; it ran ten pages and had a lot of photos. I did it in PhotoShop, which made the files much too large to e-mail so I snail-mailed it to each member. I tried several tricks to shrink the file but none reduced it to a manageable size. Mailing a 10-page newsletter to 26 members (at that time) meant printing 130 double-sided pages. Kinko’s and Staples wanted a budget-busting $416 for the job, which was completely out of the question; the only other choice was to print the newsletter myself. After taking a deep breath, I started printing. The job took 13 hours and used about ¾ of a color cartridge and half a black cartridge. Printing and mailing costs came to $1.43 per newsletter, for a total of $37. I switched to Word after the September newsletter because it generates files that are easier to e-mail. So please, I know some of you are very busy, but hitting the “Print” button isn’t as much trouble at your end as it is at mine. My printer and the club treasury will appreciate it! This is the largest newsletter ever! We have a lot of (I hope) interesting articles. A month of begging, cajoling and generally making a nuisance of myself has resulted in several members stepping up to the plate and contributing very good articles. There’s an interesting article in this issue on what automobile insurance companies are thinking about doing with GPS. Although the article deals with automobiles, the plan, if successful, will almost certainly be applied to motorcycles as well. MARS is starting a winter mileage contests, our first, and the details are a little farther down in the newsletter. I should warn all of you that our club president rides to work every day, so he will be the one we’ll have to beat. (Maybe if we ask him, he’ll take a 3 handicap.) We’re keeping this year’s contest simple, and if there’s enough interest and participation we have ideas for future contests. We hope that you can attend this year’s Blue Knight Run (see Upcoming Rides). This run draws about 200 riders, so for those of you who have been put off by the Philly and other toy runs that draw thousands, this is a much smaller scale with room to move. The ride benefits disadvantaged kids, so lets all turn out for this one; it will give our motorcycling sport a great public relations shot in the arm. Dave Back has produced another outstanding article that will be of interest to us. In this month’s article on winter maintenance tips, Dave mentions that fuels in our area are oxygenated and in the winter the amount of oxygenating agents is increased, resulting in a 20% reduction in fuel economy. I’d be interested to know if anyone noticed a drop in fuel economy during the winter months. I never have, but now I’ll be sure to check. Dave also mentions in that he can get us a good deal on a top-of-the-line battery charger if he gets at least an order for at least ten. If you don’t have a charger, or if your present one is getting a bit long in the tooth, be sure to contact Dave to order one of these spiffy Yuasa maintenance chargers. Dave’s e-mail address is email@example.com and his phone number is (302) 762-0777. I want to thank our secretary; Dan Davis for his excellent article comparing all many of numerous motorcycle roadside assistance plans being offered. Dan could list many more plans then he did, but he chose to include on the major ones. Did you now that Nextel (yes, the cell phone guys) also offer a motorcycle assistance plan? From Our Secretary S ometimes during a perfect ride, Fate, the gods or just plain bad luck conspire and we have a mechanical breakdown along the road. Although we possess a fine tool kit, a Haynes manual and Yankee ingenuity, we are defeated by this marvel of German engineering. There’s nothing left to do but reach for our cell phone and call our roadside assistance plan for help. At the Editor’s request, I put together a list of assistance plans that offer nationwide coverage. We would like to hear from any of the members who have had experience with these or other plans to offer their recommendations or comments. Plan BMW Roadside Assistance Contact Cost www.bmwmotorcycles.com $35/year Comments Available through BMW dealers 4 BMWMOA Platinum www.bmwmoa.org (636) 394-7277 $22/yr plus $32 membership fee (to join BMWMOA) $25/year plus $39 membership fee (to join AMA) $79/year AMA MOTOW www.ama-cycle.org 1-800-262-5646 RV RoadHelp www.rvroadhelp.com 1-800-214-5135 MTS Towing www.mtstowing.com 1-800-999-7064 Gold Wing Road Riders Association www.gwrra.org 1-800-843-9460 Covers up to three motorcycles. Flatbed truck or motorcycle carrier. Towing up to 35 miles $40/year $50/year, nonmember $25/year for members Offered by KOA and Allstate. Unlimited towing and no dollar limit. No limit on number of motorcycles. Other plans $15 – 22. Towing up to 50 miles. Other plans are available but they did not seem to be as good as any of those above. If any of you have had experience with others, we’d be glad to hear from you. Let’s hope that our only experience with any roadside assistance plan is paying the annual fee. The Local MARS Group Rides to Bob’s BMW for Oktoberfest By Dave Cowgill S aturday, October 11th, was a beautiful Indian summer day! We had a nice turnout for our monthly northern breakfast at Damon's with sixteen attendees and three new members joining the club. After we stuffed ourselves and exchanged some friendly banter over another cup of coffee we headed outside to launch on our respective rides: Two members were heading to the Lancaster, PA area to check out a BMW dealer; several others were heading south on Rt. 9; I was leading a group to Bob's BMW for his First Annual Oktoberfest. This turned out to be our largest club ride to date as we had ten riders headed to Bob's. We proceeded in fits and starts: first, we had agreed to meet at the Texaco station at Mt. Pleasant in order to top off the tanks and re-group for the ride south on 301. Next, we had to stop again at the 301 Truck Plaza to gather up two more riders and then a last potty break at the Maryland Welcome Center. 5 Finally, our gaggle of Beemers headed for Bob's in earnest. My son, Brian, from VA joined up with us at the 301/97 junction, and we rolled into Bob's 11-strong! Bob had the party in full swing with a large turnout. His staff was outfitted in Bavarian folk-style fashions-guys in lederhosen and the gals in Dirndl dresses. Outside, the local Blue Knights Chapter had the grills going, featuring bratwurst and knockwurst sandwiches along with kraut, fixins and German chocolate cake for dessert. There was an "oompah band,” German folk dancers and door prizes, too! Bob was also featuring special sale prices on selected merchandise with discounts on every item in stock. I didn’t get to linger as long as I would have liked as I had pressing commitments waiting back in Delaware. We left for the return trip in groups of twos and threes. All in all, it was a fun day with lots of good folks sharing a good time on a great day! RIDING AS THE SATELLITE FLIES My review of the Garmin StreetPilot 2610 GPS Receiver by Bud Heberling / 2002 BMW R1150R Rider T hree intrepid MARS club members recently found themselves in a sea of cars, pickup trucks and SUV’s. We were going nowhere fast on a nice Saturday afternoon on Route 896 near Lancaster, PA. Having become bored with staring at SUV butts, I decided to take action. I told my new Garmin StreetPilot 2610 I needed a route to Newark, De. Just give us some back roads – no Tolls or Highways, I told it. I was, after all, riding BMW’s best handling motorcycle, the R1150R Roadster! Within less than five seconds, I had our new route. I motioned to my friends to follow me. We were soon riding on some nice twisty and, more importantly, SUV butt -free, roads. Schedules dictated that we eventually return to Route 896 but we could have ridden back roads nearly the entire way to Newark. The Global Positioning Satellite system is truly a marvel. Thirty-two geostationary satellites send timing signals to the GPS receiver. By superimposing a pointer over a map, the GPS receiver provides the user with a moving map display. Unlike most things these days, usage is free – once you purchase a GPS receiver you are ready to navigate! I’d been drooling over moving-map type GPS units for quite some time. My $100 Garmin eTrex had served me well for several years of mountain biking, hiking, and 6 kayaking. With each manufacturer’s release of their latest model, I always found a desired feature or two was missing. Finally, this past September, Garmin released their StreetPilot 2610. It appeared to have every feature I wanted. Most importantly, it used readily available CompactFlash memory cards for map storage instead of their previous proprietary (read, expen$ive) cards. The touch screen display was an added bonus. I generally don’t like touch screens. However, I find it much easier to use than the normal joystick / keypad combination – especially beneficial for motorcycling. Being physically smaller than Garmin’s previous offerings was another plus. Also, Garmin’s probably the top GPS manufacturer. I ordered my StreetPilot from GPScity.com for $800. A RAM mount (another Great Product!) was an additional $40. In addition to the main unit, Garmin includes the following accessories: CityNavigator (2 CD’s - USA & a bit of Canada) Remote Control Mount– Beanbag temporary type Mount Bracket – permanent or semi-permanent adhesive type USB Cable Cigarette style power plug / speaker AC power plug (for home use) 128 meg CompactFlash memory card So, how does one use the StreetPilot 2610? For navigating, since it’s auto-route capable (not all GPS units are), you can simply key in the address of the city, address, attraction, cursor point, etc. to which you want to travel. The 2610 will offer the quickest route according to time or distance. You can also specify a route via particular location(s) en route. Through voice prompts, directional arrows, text, and highlighted roadways displayed on the 3.3" x 1.7" screen, you are directed to your chosen destination. The StreetPilot accounts for your speed by adjusting turn prompts as your speed changes. Miss a turn and you’ll be notified that you’ve gone off route. A U-Turn is initially suggested; keep traveling and the unit will almost instantly recalculate a route revision. Imagine you’re in an unfamiliar area and suddenly have a craving for, Oh - some General Tso’s Chicken. You punch in FIND / DINING / CHINESE. Your 2610 lists several Chinese restaurants ranked by those nearness to your present location. Select one and hit GO TO; you’ll be munching your fortune cookie in no time. Your StreetPilot’s prompts will have taken you right to the restaurant’s parking lot! The 2610 also allows you to: mark waypoints (a waypoint is simply a particular location you want to find your way back to); save Routes (favorite travel routes that you want to be able to repeat in the future); check your speedometer’s accuracy (mine reads 5 mph too fast! – so much for German precision!). I’ve set my StreetPilot’s information tabs to display: Current Speed, Direction of Travel, Local Time, and Roadway name. Tab two is Destination Distance and Arrival Time. 7 Distance to Next Turn and Time to Next Turn are on tab three. The fourth tab shows the name of the next road I’ll be turning onto and if it’s a right or a left turn. After loading the included mapping software into my home computer, I selected Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and part of North Carolina to be loaded onto my 2610’s 128-megabyte memory card. Using my previously purchased USB card reader, it only took a few minutes. I recently purchase a 256-meg card for $40. I’ll soon load it with other states I may want to visit. ISSUES? Water resistance – The manual says it’s “Rugged; fully gasketed; IPX-7 waterproof. IPX-7 waterproof is a European standard meaning the item is immersed in 3’ of still water for ½ hour with no ill effects. I’ve read reports of a 2610 ceasing operation until the USB port was thoroughly dried. I don’t know why Garmin didn’t supply covers for the USB and external antenna port. Perhaps the below mentioned Motorcycle Kit addresses that… Screen brightness – I don’t know that any color screen (or monochrome screen for that matter) would be bright enough to see clearly in the brightest sunlight. However, I’m satisfied with the 2610’s auto-adjusting color screen. In the brightest sun, I can always make out the display. In less than bright sunlight, it’s excellent. I mounted mine so that it juts toward me from the handlebars; it’s close to my face and thus easier to see. It also means none of my gauges are obscured. Voice Prompt Volume – I can always at least hear the British Woman’s voice (you can pick from several) has spoken. I can hit the voice key for her to restate her previous command or I can simply view the onscreen text version. At reduced speeds, say 35 mph, I hear her fine. Garmin’s soon to be released $40 “Motorcycle Kit” includes a hard wire with an earphone jack and a specialized motorcycle mount that addresses an issue pertaining to mount security. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions about this great device. The more I use it, the more pleased I am with my purchase. Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this typing has made me a bit thirsty. I’m going to run outside and punch in FIND / DINING / IRISH PUBS and see where my her voice leads me… ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A much better written review can be read at gpsinformation.net/sp26xx/sp2610rev.html. www.GPScity.com has videos showing the StreetPilot 2610 in action. For an excellent tutorial showing how GPS works, see www.trimble.com/gps/index.html. RAM Mount photos can be viewed at www.cyclegadgets.com 8 From the Big-Brother-is-About-to-Watch-You Department T he story below appeared in Wired Magazine (an on-line news magazine) on October 3, 2003 and should be of interest to all of you GPS-on-bike aficionados out there. Insurance Rates Driven By GPS By Will Wade Auto insurance companies have long been willing to cut drivers a deal with better rates if they manage to avoid the unwelcome sight of flashing police lights in the rear-view mirror. Now, an academic study may one day provide insurers with the technology to increase their rates for people with unsavory habits behind the wheel. The Georgia Institute of Technology is sponsoring a study using global positioning systems to track the movements of cars and monitor the motoring habits of their drivers. The most immediate result could be a better understanding of Atlanta's traffic patterns, a city known for its increasing sprawl and congestion. The long-term goal is to evaluate GPS technology as a method of computing mileage-based auto insurance rates. Proponents say the technology is an egalitarian and efficient way to determine insurance rates, but civil libertarians counter that the tracking scheme is an invasion of privacy. "We are looking at how drivers interact with their vehicles," said Randall Guensler, an associate professor at Georgia Tech who organized the Commute Atlanta project. Over the summer, his team installed GPS units in 500 Atlanta-area vehicles from a randomly selected cross section of 285 households. For the next year, he will use information from the tracking boxes to create a detailed log of where every car went and when, how fast they traveled and the places they got stuck in traffic. Plus, 350 of those machines are collecting engine performance data, which can determine when drivers are shifting gears, when they are slamming on the brakes and when they are putting the pedal to the metal. Guensler said this will be one of the most detailed traffic-pattern studies ever completed, and the information he gets will be far better than the trip diaries that have been used in the past to evaluate local driving conditions. The diaries depend on individuals manually filling out logbooks every time they get behind the wheel, and are notoriously inaccurate. 9 The data will help city planners determine which streets need more stoplights, which are notorious choke points and which are becoming popular shortcuts. "We will be able to find out whether the transit system is sufficient to support the level of expected growth in the region," he said. After collecting driving information for a year, Guensler plans to move into a second stage of his study, which will use the baseline driving habits of participants to determine auto insurance rates. Although that phase is not currently funded, and may not be carried out as originally planned, Guensler said his research could give the insurance industry consumer response to the concept. For example, if the GPS box records a daily slog to creep through 20 miles of traffic during rush hour, and the driver begins to carpool and eliminates that high-risk commute, the driver might receive a discount on his insurance rates. Guensler said that could provide an incentive for consumers to support mileage-based pricing. Conversely, if the tracking device documents a habit of speeding through neighborhoods with schools or retirement homes, the insurance company would probably think twice before lowering an individual's rates, and might even raise them. "I think the insurance companies would be interested in this kind of information," he said. "It can make pricing more efficient, and anything that makes pricing more efficient is good for them." However, David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, warns that if mileage-based insurance plans become common, the insurance companies may not be the only ones looking at the tracking data. "Once that information is collected, it is very hard to control access to it for secondary uses," he said. The government might be very interested in tracking the movements of specific individuals, under the mantle of homeland security or law enforcement, Sobel said, while marketing organizations could spot residents from wealthy areas who regularly pass by a specific shopping center. "Subjects may consent to the primary use of the data," he said, if they think they will get a lower insurance premium. "But they may not have any idea of the secondary uses of the information." Guensler agrees privacy is a significant issue in mileage-based insurance plans. If the idea becomes a reality, he suggests an independent agency could be created to warehouse the information, doling it out only to insurers, and only on a need-to-know basis. "The question is who owns the data," he said. 10 In the case of the Commute Atlanta project, created as a confidential academic research project, he said Georgia Tech owns the location information, but is obligated to protect the privacy of every participant. "It would take a court order to get these logs, and even that would go through a number of appeals," he said. If the insurance industry does pursue mileage-based premiums, it remains unclear whether GPS will even be a necessary component. "Our attitude is that there already is a way to measure how many miles you're driving," said Patrick Butler, director of Cents-Per-Mile Choice, an Austin, Texas, advocacy group in favor of pay-as-you-drive insurance pricing. "This is a technology that has been available for years: the odometer." Keeping Your Beemer Fit in the Off Season By Dave Back I t seems a little unusual to perform an engine oil change just as Mother Nature begins to limit the amount of use our motorcycles receive. Sure, there are those who will ride until frost forms on their face shield, and all through the winter months, but for the majority of us, we tend to limit the amount of riding we do or we put our favorite mount away for the season. The reason we should change the engine oil before we store our bike or limit our riding is that the oil captures the contaminates that are the byproducts of the burning fuel from the combustion that takes place as the engine runs. These byproducts form acids in the engine oil, which are counteracted by the additives in the oil. The reason engine oil is changed is because the additives become depleted, so changing the engine oil before stowing away our ride removes these potentially harmful metal damaging acids that collect in the engine oil. It's also a good idea to top off your fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer such as Stabil® to the fuel. Whether carbureted or fuel injected, unprotected, the fuel will gel over time, especially the fuel used in this part of the country, which is oxygenated to help with emissions. Also, the amount of the oxygenated agents in the fuel is increased during the winter months, which many will notice about a 20% reduction in fuel economy. The reason for the winter fuel is that engines have a longer warm-up period and the fuel is designed to ease the emission levels. So often overlooked is where it all starts, the battery, and there are many reasons for this. I'm sure that more than on one occasion, after a long winter's wait, on that first warm day in March or April, when the ignition key was turned the lights didn't come on, 11 were dim, or when the starter motor was engaged all that could be heard was a subtle clicking noise. I can certainly empathize with those of us whose escape from cabin fever was foiled by a dead battery. Over the years that I worked in motorcycle shops, many a frustrated customer would come into the dealership complaining about their battery having gone dead and yet the motorcycle was still under its manufacturer's warranty. Well, I can tell you their mood didn’t get any better when we sat down with "MOM" (the motorcycle's owner's manual) and carefully read the warranty. Warranties cover defects in workmanship or materials, and a battery is considered a maintenance item. Left uncharged for a three-month period, a motorcycle battery can fully discharge and become totally unrecoverable. Warranty does not cover a failure due to the lack of maintenance. BMW got wise to this and countered by offering battery chargers with their models a few years back. Because the batteries are relatively inaccessible on some of our mounts, it’s understandable why they don't get their fair share of maintenance. Ideally, during the riding season, the fluid level should be checked once a month and topped off as necessary with distilled water. Also, it's very important to make sure the battery vent tube is properly installed and not kinked. The tube should protrude out the bottom of the bike so the air rushing underneath the motorcycle can purge any harmful vapors. There are several quick checks that can be done to verify a battery’s condition. The best way is with a hydrometer and a load tester, however, a voltmeter can quickly give one a general idea of the battery's condition. With the ignition key in the off position, a fully charged battery should have 12.6 volts; at 12.4 volts the battery is considered 75% charged. Another check that can be done with a voltmeter is to check the battery voltage while cranking the engine over with the starter motor. During this test the battery voltage should not drop below 9.5 volts. A couple words of warning, the battery is filled with electrolyte, a mixture of water and sulfuric acid that is extremely corrosive. Should your scoot ever be involved in a minor mishap (hey let's face it sometimes gravity wins) be sure to thoroughly douse the underside around the breather tube area with water or a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize any potential spilled battery acid. This is one advantage the gel batteries have over the lead acid batteries is that they are self contained and there is no risk of spilling if the battery is tipped to the side. The other issue is that when batteries breathe they give off hydrogen gas, which is extremely explosive. Batteries can blow up under the right conditions, so when charging a battery, make sure it is charged in a well ventilated area free of sparks or sources of ignition. If the battery vent tube is kinked the battery can overheat and self-destruct as well. During the off season, if the bike is not ridden, the battery should be charged at least once a month at no more than 10% of it's rated amperage rating. Most of the beemer batteries are rated around 18 amperes, so the charger should not exceed 1.8 amps 12 otherwise the plates in the battery could overheat and short out, permanently damaging the battery. It’s perfectly OK to charge a battery at a lower amperage rate, and this reduces the likelihood of doing any internal damage. The problem with a conventional charger is that it produces a steady electrical current so there is a risk that the battery's fluid level could drop below the safe limit, which will also cause the plates to overheat and short. The best solution is to obtain a charger that is designed to maintain a battery. There are several that I have tried with excellent results. While at the Pocono Cycle Jam a few years back, I met the gentleman who designed the Battery Tender® who now works for Yuasa. He incorporated some of the technology that was used in the Battery Tender® into Yuasa's version of a battery maintenance charger, which he claimed had some advantages over its predecessor. In addition to the maintenance charger, Yuasa offers a charger that can revive some dead batteries. I have not used their charger, but I have used the Optimate® battery charger/maintainer/restorer with very good results. These chargers can be used both to maintain and to revive a sulfated battery. I have recovered enough batteries to justify the cost of the charger and I would say the success rate over the past few years has been better than 50%. From my experience, I can surmise in saying, better a cheap battery and a good charger, than a cheap charger and a good battery. By the way, we can make a bulk purchase of the Yuasa maintenance chargers for $20 plus shipping if we buy ten or more. To date I have only six requests. Traveling On US 61 & 52 By Pete Mazzella S uper-slabing it across North America can get a person from Lewes, Delaware to Coos Bay, Oregon in a hurry, but it sure becomes a bore. There are little roads along the way that are so much more fun and they are really worth examining. Two of those roads are US 61 and US 52. What a neat little stretch of road! US 61 runs along eastern Iowa, north from Bettendorf at I-80 to Dubuque. In Dubuque, US 52 takes over. The blue line on my map turned to orange after leaving Bettendorf. The number of trucks and cars gradually decreased until there was no one riding with me. Right away I discovered that the availability of different octane levels was reduced to two: 87 and 90. Sometimes, 87 and 89 represented the only choices. In addition, ethanol was the higher rated octane. So, I crossed my fingers and pumped the higher rating. The rationale was that I was going to burn it up right away, anyway. I was making about 650 miles that day and this was close to my last little bit of road. 13 The relief of finding this little stretch was tremendous! Starting on I-70, just west of Columbus, OH and traveling through Indianapolis, IN to I-74 was a bit tense. On I-74 outside of Le Roy, IL, I watched a funnel cloud form above me and begin to drop to earth within a quarter mile of me. Not a lot of fun, but Iowa was a different. The sun was out and I had the road to myself. The Rand McNally Road Atlas lists US61 as a multi-lane highway. It is, but it is also very quiet. In Dubuque, US 52 connects with US 61. US 52 is shown as a red line (Rand McNally refers to this as a principle highway). This low-tech research typified the trip. Picking up US52, the traffic thinned further and I had the road to myself. What a beautiful two lane, rural road! In Guttenberg, IA, I stopped for gas (91 octane, thank you very much) and ran into folks from Huron, South Dakota. Those folks knew my inlaws for many years and had been in touch with them recently. While refueling, another rider stopped to fill his tank and spoke very highly of the part of US 52 that I had skipped. From what he said, US 52 comes into Iowa from Illinois at Savanna and is listed as a scenic road by Rand McNally. Sure enough, it is. Actually, I-80 could have dumped me on Illinois 84 to US 20 and on and on…that looks like next year’s ride. Little towns dotted my path: Monona, Postville, Castilia, Ossiah, and Calmar. I stayed the night in Decorah. There was a great little Comfort Inn that let me park the bike on the front side walk so the night staff would always see it. The following day had its own adventures, but for now the glow of the end of the day and that peaceful ride gave me a great night’s sleep. Next summer I am going to take that trip again. This time the route will take the smaller county roads and sights rather than distance will be the object of the ride. Anyone interested in going along for the ride? MARS Announces Its First Winter Mileage Contest A s most of us are awere, the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association sponsors a yearly mileage contest which runs from the spring through the fall. Most of us, however, ride much longer than that and MARS wants to start it’s own winter contest. This year’s contest will be the first and if there is enough interest we’ll do it every year and maybe add some variations, like being able to include the total mileage on multiple bikes, awarding a prize to the member who traveled the farthest distance from home, etc. If things go well, we’ll start another contest in April that will run to November. Here are the simple rules for this year’s contest: 1. The contest starts at our next breakfast on November 8 in Dover. You must register your starting mileage with our secretary, Dan Davis, at the breakfast. 2. The person accumulating the most mileage by our breakfast on April 10th will win a $50 gift certificate from Bob’s BMW. 3. You must bring the bike to both the November and April breakfasts. 14 The bike you register for the contest does not have to be a BMW. Upcoming Rides If you go to an event, please take your club business cards and try to get a new member or two. Sunday, November 9 – The Blue Knights Toys for Tots Ride to Benefit the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter. Registration is at the Mill Creek Fire Hall at 3900 Kirkwood Highway (Rt. 2, just south of Wilmington) from 9:00 to 11:00 am. Admission is one NEW toy for a child from infant to age thirteen. Canned goods and cash will also be accepted and there’s a $5.00 admission fee. For more information, call the Blue Knights’ chapter president, Mike Pollinger at (302) 838-7278. If you need specific directions to the fire hall, call the hall at (302) 998-8911.