Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: 2013


I'll see you next year, Ohio.

It was an unexpected gift from the people in my life who I can truly call my family: I'm leaving Ohio for the remainder of 2013.

Okay, so that's not a long time, but it is definitely enough time to be able to recollect my thoughts and try to start 2014 on a brighter note despite the weirdness and unexpected life changes that had haunted me through these occasionally somber holidays. With that being said, I'm heading back to my childhood home, and you can follow my travels via GPS by clicking the "Where Am I?" link at the top of this blog. If things go as planned, I will be riding a motorcycle all over my old stomping grounds of Southern California. You'll be able to follow my route and collect stats on my travels.

As I heard from someone out here, "May the best of 2013 be the worst of 2014." I hope that will be the case.

Stay tuned on Two-Wheeled Tourist for photos and reflections as I kick off a new (and hopefully much improved) year from a very familiar place.


Five Motorcycle Problems that California Riders Won't Understand.

I write this piece as a native Californian and a transplant to Ohio.

It is difficult to describe many of the freedoms that motorcycle riders have in California as motorcycling is pretty much a seasonal, recreational activity in the Midwest.

For me, motorcycle riding back home was not just for fun (although it sure as heck is). It was my most economical method of transportation and my time saver. It allowed me to travel to far away places very cheaply and explore the world in a whole different way. Although I can still do that out here, I am challenged by three things: the unpredictability of weather, traffic laws, and the mentality of cagers.

So without further adieu, here are several things many native California motorcyclists (who have never ridden anywhere else) will not understand...

A typical November day in Ohio. Not to worry, it'll be 65°F and sunny tomorrow.


In Memoriam: "Super Duper" Cooper the Rat (2012 - 2013)

Cooper passed away unexpectedly this morning. It was quite a shock as there were no outward symptoms that anything was wrong. Unfortunately, as intelligent and as awesome as they are, they don't have much of a shelf life. He was one of my all-time favorite rats and leaves behind quite a few memories.


How to un-suck the holiday season. Be the better person.

Frankly, the holidays can go bite my left ear.

Although my level of seasonal depression fluctuates from year to year, 2013 has reached an all-time high of super suck. Sure I may be having a good time for a couple days out of these several weeks, with the food, hugs, well-wishes, etc. But really, regardless of how much I'm involved, there comes a moment when I'm here sitting by myself in some state of loneliness wondering why everything had to crash down on me at once right before the holidays. Perfect timing, huh?


The 2013 Nerdy Christmas Wish List

Here on Two-Wheeled Tourist, I'm bringing back the annual "Nerdy Christmas Wish List." This is the first time it's appeared on this blog but it's been in other writings of mine on and off over the last decade.

This year, the Christmas season is going to be celebrated in a bit of a more unorthodox manner (my life's gotten a bit complicated as of late) so it's highly unlikely that I'll see anything under a Christmas tree, real or hypothetically, this year. And of course, being the geek and severe motorcyclist I am, my dream list is a bit pricey. But, it's a lot of fun to just dream about these things. Maybe someday when I don't have to decide between feeding my rats, feeding myself, paying the bills, or paying my rent, I can revisit these things again. Fortunately, fantasizing is free and is great for budget-desperate people. So here goes...

1. Portable Single-Sheet Document Scanner
This particular one by VuPoint catches my eye because it saves to a microSD card as well as run on batteries so it's great for those trips when you can't carry all those flyers, information sheets, business cards, and what-not home with you. Clutter sucks. Digitize as much as you can. Save the luggage for those random souvenirs. Check it out here.


Food Review: Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille (Mayfield Heights, OH)

I headed over to Fox and Hound based on a co-worker recommendation for the food. So far, I've been there a couple times and was a big fan of the food. I will have to admit, however, that the service might need a some work with keeping track of customers and making sure that all patrons are taken care of.

"Dog Bites" - Bite-sized corn dogs with a parmesan crust served with a twisted pickle dip.
Their version of a fish sandwich complete with a side of sweet potato fries. The fish is dipped in Newcastle beer batter.
Lots of places to hang out, watch sports, and play pool. Definitely will give you something to do aside from drinking beer at the bar.
I wonder if the low rating for the restaurant on Urbanspoon is more of a reflection of the quality of the service. If this restaurant could get that up to par, I could see people making this place a definite go-to for good food and hangout time into the wee hours of the morning.

For more information about this restaurant chain, visit

Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille on Urbanspoon


Feeling kinda dumped? There's a song for that [thought process].

This a left-field post for all of the people who have experienced being dumped in a relationship.

A long time ago, in a previous life, I would create a "Tribute CD" series to run through the emotions that one goes through whilst knee-deep in difficult times related to another person. I had done several of these for quite a number of reasons. Many situations had underlying circumstances behind them and one song may be more relevant than another.

Since CDs are so five years ago, I'll throw in a short music video montage that applies to my current state of mind. Maybe more of these will pop up in another thought experiment here on this blog. Enjoy your weekend, people.

In my ideal thinking, I would hope that this is the case.

In my own raw mind, this is what it feels like.

 But in my own heart, it feels like this.

So tonight, this sounds pretty appropriate.


Preparing to wrap up a 3rd decade of breathing.

So I'm 29 today. Holy moly...I'm just a year away from changing the number in the tens column. Time flies when you're living.

I can easily say that, by far, this year has been one of the more difficult ones to date. From the long commutes between Cleveland and Columbus to the consolidation to one apartment up here in the north to the job layoff from one motorcycle store to recall to new job (and I'll probably talk more about my new motorcycle store digs in a future post). I can't do much about an employer going out of business, but I am grateful that another place thought I had potential working for them.

And I get to add a wonderful friend dying, a wonderful rat dying, and other life messes that I really hope I won't have extrapolate on soon pending hopeful negotiations or some willingness to even head in that direction.


Sneak Peek: 2014 EBR 1190RX (Pre-Production)

Get ready to see some eye candy here.

Now, I'm a fan of the old Ulysses adventure bike from a few years back. I'm glad to see that Erik Buell is making a comeback with his fully-independent company and isn't held back by the restrictions of another corporate force (cough, cough, Harley, cough cough). So here you go, a pre-production version of the 2014 EBR 1190RX. This is the same bike that was first premiered at the AIMExpo in Orlando, FL earlier this year. Enjoy these exclusive shots right here on I hope to be able to ride a finished one someday, but this definitely brings a lot of hope for the future of American-made motorcycles.

Say good-bye to traditional headlights. It's LEDs for this model.
On-board computer is programmable and customizeable. No gauges to be seen here.
Super-adjustable Showa forks and Vortex clip-ons demonstrate EBR's attention to detail and search for quality components.

The placement of the fans for Buell's 1190cc V-Twin engine are in a more unusual place compared to other sportbikes. Did I mention that this thing delivers 185HP @ 10,600RPM? And those are just the numbers they had to officially post. Rumor has it this thing can top over 200MPH.
Triangular subframe combines both strength and lightweight.

Side profile of the bike still retains that unmistakable, trademark look from its Harley-attached predecessor of yesteryear.

Showa rear shock comes stock. Ohlins will probably be available as an upgrade.
Adjustable shifter peg will make riders of all shoe sizes quite happy.

The kickstand doesn't stick out like an eyesore as there is a special cutout specifically for this critical part of the bike to keep the seamless design intact.
One of two heatsinks for the front LED headlight.

Yes, that is an air scoop for the front brake rotor to help avoid overheating, ensuring the stopping power will be there when you need it.
For more information about Erik Buell Racing, visit


Day 15: Back to Eastlake...and the long THANK YOU LIST

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

I took my time and left Moline around 9AM and stayed in Peoria (less than 120 miles away) for the night, the same place where I started this whirlwind 15-day tour of the United States and the Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™.

US-150 through Northern Illinois does provide quite a bit of serenity in a straight line.
There are too many people to thank and I want them to know that they're appreciated. Here are some that I could come up with witty remarks on...believe me, if you're not listed I didn't forget you! :)

Thank you to...
Pam who did everything in her power and then some to make sure my tuchus made it to Billings, MT and stayed there. Thank you for paying, at times, a disturbing amount of attention to details that were both important and necessary to the success of this event. You're the only person I know who I can send out to find a needle in haystack and return with a dozen additional needles that were also missing.

My roommate Deana for splitting the room with me and not sending me to the looney bin after catching me having a conversation/staring contest with Annagator the Alligator, one of TWO Ride-In™ Animal Ambassadors one morning. I appreciate the tube of toothpaste and two-step with Roberta during Cris' American Idol audition during the opening ceremonies. JAZZ HANDS...!!!!

Speaking of which...Bert with the DIY Wisconsin maps of Oconomowoc for Closing Ceremonies and running that registration table LIKE A BOSS. Geography rocks, and that's the best use of a bingo dauber I've seen in a long least when one is not dealing with intoxicated college students.

Cris, I still wonder how you pull this stuff off. Then again, fourth time is a charm? Are you going for 5th or 6th time, because I still need some practice. :)

Patti for the donation of cherries, an apple, crackers, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt on Tuesday evening so I didn't have to order takeout at 11PM. after cleaning up the Opening Ceremonies. Those were tasty. The extra toothpaste? I didn't eat that, but it was great for cleaning my teeth.

All of the ladies that hung out with me at the merchandise table and let me play with their smartphones (and teach them a think or two) in between transactions. Hope your stuff works now. If not, you know where to find me. :)

Whoever had the integrity to return my wallet completely intact on Tuesday night, you're awesome. Besides, you couldn't do much with a single dollar, a credit card with a pretty low limit, and an ID that doesn't look at all like you anyway. Still though, that probably wasn't the motivation for your honesty, or so I'd like to think.

The California gals for bringing a little of that sunshine with them to Billings. You could've left some of that heat at home though. And all the ladies who I've had the chance to have meals with. I could go for another one of those breakfast burritos.

Carolee for reminding us that "woo-hoos" will suffice when announcing that one has won the carnival games raffle, not the recitation of the Preamble of the US Constitution. Thanks for taking away whatever composure I had left during the Closing Ceremonies. Can you do it again another year?

And Rebecca for putting up with me for 1200 miles and six states. It was an honor and a privilege to be your sweep rider. Thanks for letting me have at it on the Beartooth Pass and Chief Joseph Highway; I do apologize for the carbon cloud when I really opened the bike up on a straightaway. Eleanor says "excuse me." She needed to let it all out.

My friends are so freakin' awesome. :)


Quick Bites: Ohio City Burrito (Cleveland, OH)

Matt and I took a Downtown Cleveland riding tour a few weeks ago just to try something new. I had to show him the West Side Market, a place I had visited several months ago with another friend. For dinner, I requested to try something new in the Ohio City district, so we made a stop at Ohio City Burrito, a couple blocks away from the West Side Market and just around the corner from the Great Lakes Brewing Company. Needless to say, we were very impressed by the extreme flavor and authentic flavor of these selections. Here are a couple of their dishes.

Matt had a "25th Street Taco" consisting of a hard taco shell inside of a flour tortilla pasted together with refried beans, with chicken, cheese, lettuce, and specialty sauce inside.
I had a Brother’s Burrito which consisted of a flour tortilla filled with rice, a choice of beans & meat (I went with the shredded beef), lettuce, choice of salsa, guacamole and sour cream. This is their signature burrito, also known as the "silver bullet." I had this with their homemade iced horchata drink.
The decor gives this hole-in-the-wall store even more of a homey feel.
If this store was a chain, it has the potential of giving a certain, other Mexican Grill a popularity run for its money in this region. Yeah, they're that good. For more information and to see their menu, visit

Ohio City Burrito on Urbanspoon


Day 12-14: The Long Haul, Mother Nature's Free Bike Wash, and a Return to Peoria

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

We left Buffalo, WY a little after 5AM and powered on toward Pierre, SD with absolute minimum stops for food, stretching, and biological needs. The first stop for gas in the morning is usually the longest because of breakfast. The tchotchkes I come across in the middle of nowhere are quite amusing.

Because motorcycle?
Several of our stops for stretch/bathroom breaks were quite amusing because of their outdoor art. Like this one in Wasta, SD (mile marker 100 on I-90 eastbound).

Stopped by a teepee. Because we had to go pee pee. It's crude. It rhymed. Deal with it.
We stopped in Pierre, SD for the evening. Check-in at the Super 8 there was a bit weird because it turned out the front desk had thrown out Rebecca's hotel reservation that she did online on her phone during breakfast (which was faxed from the reservation center afterward, and seriously, how do you do fail that?) and of course, they had to put us in a 2nd floor room on the other side of the building, far from where our bikes were parked. Anyway, good, authentic Mexican food makes it all better, and Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant just happened to be next door.

Surprisingly good Mexican food in Pierre, South Dakota right next to the Super 8 we were staying at. The service here? Great. The service at the hotel? No comment. Let's just say that my co-rider was *this close* [pinching fingers really close] to dropping a biotch.
We left at 4AM the next day to get as much ground covered before the sunrise. About 35 miles into the ride, we pulled over in Reliance, SD to put on the rain gear after watching a eeringly beautiful lightning show in the distant eastern skies. We then headed right into a hefty rainstorm that blew us around for 100 miles and leaked rainwater in every possible orifice on our bodies and our bikes. After stopping in Mitchell, SD (home of The Corn Palace) for an extended break and breakfast, we continued on through the remainder of South Dakota for another couple hours and into southern Minnesota where we were able to finally shed the rain gear later that morning and let the sun naturally dry us out. It was a straight shot through Iowa and then across the Iowa-Illinois Bridge back into the Land of Lincoln.

It was another hard-riding, 700-mile day, with short stops and long distances in between fuel tanks. Considering we were both on top-end touring bikes, getting through the straightaways was comfortable but quite boring since we didn't have any radio communication between the two of us. So waving and intermittent rounds of hand puppets and rear-view mirror Rock, Paper, Scissors had to do. Perhaps I'll get a CB radio installed on my bike when I grow up, or find more friends to ride with full-time.

We parted ways after a night stay in Moline, IL in the Quad Cities area, about 120 miles from Peoria, my second-to-last destination before heading back to Cleveland. Rebecca rode into the night for the long haul to Pennsylvania and then eventually back to Massachusetts. And if I had to mention one additional thing I learned from this very spirited trip, a well-timed bottle of Corona Light is a good thing after riding hours. Until next time!

When one rides a Honda Goldwing, bugs are never an issue. Eleanor, however, eats them up like cookies and likes to share them with me. Thanks for the adventure, Rebecca!


Quick Bites: Lure Bistro (Willoughby, OH)

I had wanted to head over to Lure Bistro in nearby Willoughby for their seasonal All-You-Can-Eat crab leg special. I finally was able to make one and had my fill. Lure Bistro is also known for their special seafood-based dishes, but for this visit I was scarfing crab legs. I'll go back for the sushi and the lobster nachos another time. Meanwhile, here is a preview of some of the goodies.

House salad with several types of lettuce and an original vinegarette.
Sorry about the mess. I managed to nearly fill a beer bucket of crab pieces. There was cole slaw and french fries included too. I have no idea where those went either, but they were sure tasty.
I even managed to score a "Cookie Monster" dessert which consists of two freshly-baked chocolate cookies with dulce de leche gelato sandwiched in between them.
I did enjoy the ambiance of the outdoor bar and it's on my wish list for a nice romantic dinner if someone *cough cough* would take me there.

For more information about Lure Bistro, visit Did I mention they offer free valet parking?

UPDATE (9/29/13)! I had the chance to revisit this place with a friend where we went for a clambake with clams, crab legs, sushi (spicy tuna roll and crunchy eel roll), and complementing sides of mashed sweet potatoes and a Crème brûlée cornbread. Super fresh seafood and surprisingly addicting sides. Let this photo add to your temptations. I have a feeling I'm going to frequent this place.

Lure Bistro on Urbanspoon


Day 11: Beartooth Pass, Chief Joseph Highway, and (Re)Conquering US-16

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Pretty much wiped after the last few days of running with my hair on fire (for a good cause, might I add) I slept in a bit and took my time leaving the hotel, saying goodbye to the friends and fellow riders who didn't leave at the crack of dawn to return home. That actually worked out quite well because, frankly, I didn't have much of a plan in place on my return route back. My strategy was more of the "keep heading east until Ohio shows up." Not a bad plan, but it wouldn't have been as fun as tagging along with my friend Rebecca for a few miles. Okay, fine...more like 1200 miles.

It turns out that she needed to return home to Massachusetts by Tuesday for work and was heading in the same direction as me. She also likes scenic roads and was cool with splitting costs on a hotel room for the night, so it was very much a win-win situation for both of us.

We headed out of Billings around 11AM and headed to the Beartooth Highway with the plan to connect to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. As soon as we made it out of civilization, that's when the fun really started.

That's a different Columbus, but eastbound is the general direction I'm heading.


Food Review: Sabor de Cuba (Frederick, MD)

Thanks to a very impromptu ride to Maryland last weekend to see a relative who happened to be in town, I had the chance to try out this restaurant in downtown Frederick, MD. Nicely settled in a very old portion of the city, this venue adds even more cultural flare to an area that takes pride in its history. And after sampling several of their dishes, I need another excuse to make it out here and have another go at this place.


Days 8-10: Getting to Work on The Main Event - 27th WOW International Ride-In™

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

So now I actually get to talk about the main reason I rode to Montana, not that hanging out with several of my good friends isn't a good reason in itself. (Thanks, y'all, by the way.)

Just for starters, here is a giant pancake topped with strawberries and cream from the Billings Hotel and Convention Center's main cafe that I enjoyed on that Monday before the Ride-In™ mayhem began.

A ceremonial pancake/waffle for me is important before starting any official WOW business. This stems back to the waffle machine at the Super 8 us WOW Board of Trustees members stay at in Lincoln, NE.


Quick Bites: BurgerFi (Mentor, OH)

Brand new burger joint here in NE Ohio! And it's ahhhhmazing! If you're here in Mentor, check out Burger Fi (8748 Mentor Ave.) for super-thick frozen custard, burgers made from naturally-grown beef, and fresh fries. Very delicious. Enjoy the eye candy.

That's just a regular cheeseburger sitting next to some Urban Fries (fries sprinkled with parmesean cheese and doused in garlic aoli sauce). Good grief. That's not even right.

Drag your friends in for food you'll be talking about for several days!


Western New York Adventure - Buffalo/Cheektowaga/Batavia/Le Roy/Niagara Falls (August 9-11, 2013)

Of course, just because I'm only halfway through recapping my huge July trip to Montana doesn't mean I can't continue going on other random jaunts in the meantime.

Earlier this month, I headed eastbound on I-90 to Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo, NY to join the Women On Wheels® Mz. Behavin' Chapter as they helped out with "A Salute to Sturgis" at the Peregrine's Landing Senior Community. The activities director there, who happens to be a motorcyclist and a member of this chapter, has held this event for the last several years and many of the residents look forward to a chance to hang out with bikers and dress up in motorcycle clothing. This particular year held the record for the most motorcycles to show up at the event and even included neighbors from Canada who rode over the border to join in on the fun.


Day 7: The last stretch to Billings...

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

I returned to Minot after my visit to the International Peace Garden and spent one more night at my friend's house. The next morning, I was off to finish the last 500 miles of my ride to Billings, MT. It was pretty uneventful doing the flat slabs of US-2 and I-90 for most of the way. The increase of the speed limit from 65MPH to 80MPH was a bit of a help, though. Despite all that, I had to stop more frequently than usual out of sheer boredom. Wide open skies are quite beautiful, but the straight line for several hours can be a severe turn-off, especially after being on the road for nearly a week.

Yep...just keep following the signs.
Travelling solo is a double-edged sword. The benefit of doing this includes making your own schedule, stopping whenever you want/feel, and not having to ask for permission to take detours to absurd places. Alternatively, it can get boring when the view doesn't change and it does get to the point that the drone of PSY's "Gangnam Style" on loop for the umpteenth time from the GPS can't even keep you from dozing off. It doesn't make you any weaker of a motorcycle rider if you decide to pull over for a break. Curb your hubris and think about your body's need for rest and a stretch. All the experienced and safety-conscious riders do.

Thankfully, I did get to ride most of the way back to Ohio with a dear friend (you'll get to hear more about her later in this series).

I don't think I'll follow that sign.
I did try some tasty, locally made ice cream by Wilcoxson's that I snacked on at that Conoco gas station (I still have my clothes on at this point).

This is a visual reminder to eat ice cream and ride safely, just not at the same time.
Long story short, I survived the entire way to my final destination. Man, this state is huge. See you at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center in the next post for some WOW action.


Day 6: Give the International Peace Garden a chance. It's worth it.

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

The International Peace Garden is one of the most extensive tributes to the peaceful relations between United States and Canada, two countries who share the longest undefended border in the world. I learned about this place from a fellow rider friend who had traveled there more than 20 years ago. Out of curiosity, I had to make this a part of my journey to Billings. It was so worth the detour.

For reference, Minot, ND is just a short, 100 mile ride from the Canadian border. The town of Dunseith is the "gateway to the garden" and has its own special sights (which you'll see at the end of this post).

Imagine this for 100 miles. Nothing but open skies and flat straightaways. Beautiful during the day but can be eerie at night.
The entrance to the garden is pretty obvious. Note the small white sign that says "Leaving the USA" at the bottom right corner. That'll play a role in why I had to prove my American citizenship leaving that place. Fortunately, I always bring my passport, because being out in these parts, you never know when you'll accidentally end up in Canada.


Two-Wheeled Tourist has now leaked over to Tumblr!

Be afraid. Be very afraid. You can now read all the same posts of Two-Wheeled Tourist on...

As a way of getting this blog out to the rest of the world, there is a concurrent version of this blog on Tumblr that synchronizes with this original site. For those who prefer to use that service over Blogger, you can head over there and read all about my shenanigans. Additionally, the Tumblr side of things is also attached to my Twitter feed so there's even more randomness on there.

Head over to or even better, Enjoy.