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10.15.2014

Long Beach Hydrobikes...because sometimes you need to get away from wheels.

As part of a week-long celebration of the triumphs over my struggles throughout this past year, I treated myself to a hydrobike ride in Long Beach at the Alamitos Bay. From where I live, it's a very quick drive across the Vincent Thomas Bridge, through Downtown Long Beach, and right past Belmont Shore before hitting Pacific Coast Highway.

Just head all the way to the end of the bay and follow the signs. You can't miss.

The hydrobikes are right at the end of a dock. I got there for the first appointment at 11AM so they were all still parked.
Riding a hydrobike is quite easy. If you can't ride an actual bicycle, you'll still be okay...no balancing of the unit is needed. Just pedal away and point the bike toward your destination. You'll get there eventually.

The route that patrons are given will lead you across the bay and into the Naples neighborhood of Long Beach. Naples is modeled after the same part of Italy and is known for its romantic canals (yes, there are gondola rides too for you boyfriends looking for ideas). We rode in a counter-clockwise direction, and with no wakes or fast boats in the way, it was more of a pleasure cruise with a little bit of cardio involved.


What you see is me having fun. What you don't feel is that it was nearing 95°F on the water with a heat advisory and the sun blazing down on me at noon. I'm wearing a UPF 50 wicking shirt from REI. No burns here.



Naples holds onto its namesake quite well with actual gondola rides along the canals. The city of Venice (near Santa Monica) had the same thing for a while but the area is no longer as well-maintained as this place.
Pedaling for a straight hour is definitely a great workout! I was glad that I didn't bring my giant Nikon DSLR camera, holding my cell phone to take all these shots was enough of a challenge. Fortunately every hydrobike has cupholders and a cubby compartment for a small bag and your refreshments and personal items. I took the rehydration bit one step further and wore a my Camelbak, the same one I use on my motorcycle rides. It was hot, and I was drinking out of it a lot.

The name of this boat took the words right out of my mouth.
Tip: Wear athletic shoes, unless you want to try to fish your flip-flops out of the water. If you follow instructions, there's no real way you can fall off the bike.

After that fun excursion, I headed up the road to have lunch at nearby Joe's Crab Shack. I had wanted to try this national chain at least once while I still lived in Ohio so it made my personal victory even sweeter as I was making a mess of myself cracking crab legs and munching on hushpuppies. I even topped it off with a root beer float! For an escape of a Friday before heading off to courier work, this was definitely one of my more memorable adventures.

Joe's Crab Shack offered a wonderful view of the Alamitos Bay Marina. Why the hell did I leave California? Anyway, the reason no longer exists, and I'm a better person for it.
Steps for enjoyment. 1. Take a nice photo. 2. Destroy it efficiently.
For more information about Long Beach Hydrobikes, visit http://www.lbhydrobikes.com/. Bring your friends or go by yourself! It's all good either way...and go eat some crabs too. Because crabs are awesome.

10.08.2014

GUEST POST: Journey to Barber for Track Days in Alabama (Dewayne Jasper)

All right, here's another guest post about the Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.

If you're a motorcycle enthusiast and are interested in becoming a guest blogger on here, fill out the inquiry form on the right side of the page and I'll get back to you.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed within this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily held by Two-Wheeled Tourist.

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If you are looking to take your motorcycle on a long road trip with a purpose in mind, then going over to Barber in Alabama can be an excellent option. The Barber Motorsports Park is primarily a racing location for spectators to watch professionals compete against each other, but there also are multiple track days where you can try your hand at racing. In this case, the journey to Alabama is only half the fun, as once you arrive, you get to test your skills on a real race track and see what your motorcycle can do.


Track Days
Because the weather near Barber in Alabama is almost always temperate, there are track days throughout the entire year. That means that no matter when you want to go, you can probably pack up your bike’s saddlebags, hit the road, and head to the Motorsports Park. In fact, there are between 40 and 50 open track days throughout the year. Different hosts run them, but each event can be a great deal of fun. You can invite your friends along for a great road trip to the park followed by some friendly competition, or go by yourself and enjoy the relaxing trip to Birmingham.

The Course Itself
When you take your motorcycle for a spin during track days, you get to ride around the full track. The road course is 2.38 miles (or 3.83 kilometers) and includes 16 turns to keep you entertained and truly test your skills. This is the same track that hosts such events as the AMA Superbike, Vintage Racing Series, and Grand-Am. If you plan on taking a slower lap to get yourself used to the track, you can take in the large sculptures along the infield, including lions, dragonflies, and spiders.



Vintage Racing
Those who have vintage bikes as opposed to more modern ones may prefer to time their visit to Barber, Alabama, so it coincides with the Vintage Festival. During this event, you can watch the races, including ones that are for vintage machines dating back to the 1920s. There are even off-road races, including cross country and vintage trials competitions.



Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
No matter the time of year that you visit Barber in Alabama, you should check out the Vintage Motorsports Museum, right next to the track and within the Motorsports Park. This is a great way to give your muscles a break from constant riding, and you will find a wide range of vintage motorcycles. In fact, there are more than 1,200 motorcycles as well as racing cars, including both modern and vintage ones. The oldest motorcycle is from 1904, so you can easily see where the inspiration for the current one you ride came from.

Enjoying the Trip
As any motorcycle rider knows, simply having a destination in mind isn’t enough; you also need some beautiful and relaxing routes to follow along the way, making it well worth packing a motorcycle bag. One great option is the road that takes you from “Mini-Dragon” all the way to 29 Dreams. You start off on Interstate 20 when leaving Birmingham from the east, going for the Leeds exit, which is where the Barber Motorsports Park is located. Simply drive 3 miles through Leeds until you reach Highway 25 South. Then you get to follow this road for 9 miles and will end up at the 29 Dreams Motorcycle Resort. Along the way, you get to see many scenic roads filled with nature. The road is smooth but has enough curves to keep you entertained along the way. 

About the author:
Dewayne Jasper has been riding for over 6 years with his Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R; you can also follow him on Twitter and know about his riding.


10.03.2014

Quick Bites: Island Hut (Lomita, CA)

Right before I had to report for my courier shift, I stopped at this local eat to try out this restaurant's take on Hawaiian BBQ. Needless to say, if you're looking for a bang-for-your-buck, filling meal this is the place to go.

The location is right on the corner of Pennsylvania and Lomita Blvd. It's hard to miss and its exterior is quite welcoming.

During my quick stop there, I ordered their California Rolls and a main dish consisting of half chicken katsu and BBQ chicken. The rolls were quite big and actually required a couple bites to get through each one. The crab in them was fresh and flavorful, and I enjoyed the generous chunk of avocado in each one of them. These could be a meal in themselves!


The main course of chicken and rice was filling to say the least. It could easily feed two people with the amount of food on here. I found the teriyaki sauce to be a little strong so I didn't need the additional side of sauce that came with the plate. The katsu was fried properly and was tender and moist.


I'd like to return to try their other dishes and perhaps their Hawaiian-style shaved ice for dessert. Island Hut is located at 2387 Lomita Blvd. in Lomita (intersects with Pennsylvania Ave.) and is right at the corner. You can check out their whole menu at http://www.islandhut.net/. Support local business and gives these guys a try!

Island Hut on Urbanspoon

9.30.2014

Tales on the Motorcycle Courier Shift...how this all started.

After throwing on a few screenshots of my motorcycle courier shift status updates, I realized that I didn't share how this all started. I have to say, it was a bit of a learning curve, trying to figure out how to manage the streets of Los Angeles while managing my time in between dispatches. Practice made perfect, and fortunately I have the right bike for the job, complete with luggage and multiple places to strap things down.


Not every delivery was perfect. Sometimes, things would spill in transit or an order would get screwed up. It happens. I have to say though, one side effect of being able to order delivery was the large amount of customers who indulged in certain herbal products. I was so glad this kept them off the streets.


The convenience of getting "anything anywhere anytime" made delivery dispatches from the richer (and more isolated) areas of LA more commonplace. Because of this, I frequented mansions who would often order hundreds of dollars worth of food without blinking an eye. However, lots of the "normal" people utilized the service as well, even for little things...


Okay! Now back to normally scheduled programming.