2018 Makers Mark Mini Man Camp

~7 years ago, on another motorcycle trip, Alan (Dad), Kyle and I stopped at Makers Mark for a tour.  We were introduced to the Ambassadors Program, became ambassadors, put our names on a barrel, and followed it from birth to maturation.  

Fast forward to 2018 and our Bourbon was ready to be picked up.  It had probably been almost 4 years since I’d had a motorcycle trip that was more than a simple day ride so I was well overdue.  We put together the group, and added another friend (Carter).

Dad planned the weekend routes starting in Cincinnati, OH down to Lexington, a good ~400 mileish loop for Saturday in KY back to Danville, then Sunday to Makers Mark, then back home.  All via back roads.

Sadly when we departed on Friday the 20th the weather essentially consisted of this:

So, while maybe not the smartest thing we’ve ever done, we decided not to wimp out and went anyway.  Pretty much our entire ride from Cincinnati to Lexington on mostly back roads was completely wet.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… “That’s just dumb”, and “That had to suck”, and it was, and mostly did.  However.  Riding in the rain on a motorcycle isn’t nearly as bad as people think provided you can stay dry with good rain gear and have good tires.

We made it to our intended destination only to find that a large majority of the area was without power, including the hotel we we intended to stay. We didn’t check in, headed for dinner hoping that maybe they’d have power in an hour or so.  That turned out to not be the case.  We moved our accommodations to a Marriott on the north side of Lexington.  Everywhere was busy as lots of travelers were seeking alternate accommodations.  Marriott Platinum status won the day, though all-in-all the Marriott folks were more than accommodating for a large number of folks considering they had no internet, an no way to actually confirm reservations or charge credit cards.  As far as I witnessed, no one was turned away.

So Friday evening we spent drying out our gear, drinking bourbon, and catching up.

Saturday morning started our dry with a Ferry ride across the Kentucky River, on 169. Weather for the day was 80 percent chance of rain and it lived up to that expectation.

We spent the rest of Saturday around various back roads in KY, all of them great motorcycle roads, and some were even dry.  A Video of some of the excitement is below.

Full disclosure, I only spent about 15 minutes cobbling this together.  The audio sucks and watching people ride in the rain isn’t super exciting.  You’re about to lose 12 minutes of your life you will never get back.

Footage was captured with a GoPro Session and GoPro 4 mounted to my helmet.  This was sort of a test as I purchase these for use while scuba diving in an upcoming Grand Cayman trip.

Did I mention we got rained on? A lot? During one downpour we did embrace our inner Harley rider and hid out for 15-20 minutes.

More Video (if you’re willing to lose another 14 minutes of your life) of some of the smaller back roads, and mostly a dry section:

We finished up in Danville, and had a great meal at Guadalupe Mexican restaurant.  Saturday evening was filled with more bourbon drinking and story telling.  We of course evaluated some Jefferson Ocean that was quite good.

Sunday we slow played it trying to avoid the rain but that didn’t work out either.  Our trip from Danville to Makers, while short was also completely wet.

But we made it, took our tour, collected our bourbon, dipped our bottles and were happy ever after.

The rain stopped about long enough for us to take the tour and walk from building to building.

The tasting room, from left to right: White Lightning (pre barrel Makers), Makers Mark, Makers 46, Makers Cask Strength, and Makers Private Select, recipe #3.

The dipping of the bottles…

And More Rain…

All in all a very successful motorcycle trip and we’re looking to put together another one for the fall.  Hopefully a little drier.


Hey Dad!, You know that dirtbike in the barn?

(Back in late February 2018)

Matthew: Hey Dad!, You know that dirtbike in the barn?
Me: Yes, the one you’re not supposed to mess with?
Matthew: Yeah that one.  I haven’t been messing with it.
Me: OK, what about it?
Matthew: If fits me now.
Me: How would you know that?
Matthew: I might have sat on it a couple times.
Me: Uh Huh…
Matthew: It’s just my size, but the tires are flat, we can fix that, and it needs new stickers and I think the brake are frozen cause I can’t roll it very well.  I mean it rolls but not very well.

Fast forward to today:

Had a little work to do:

  • Carb rebuild kit: $30 (or I could just buy one for $23) so that’s what I did.
  • Air Filter, it’s no longer a home for Mr. Mouse.
  • New Plug
  • Oil Change
  • Cleaned out the tank (lots of crap in there).
  • Cleaned out new carb (yes in that order).
  • New petcock and fuel line
  • New brakes front/rear (it stops now).

Ready to ride.

In the meantime, I picked up this for myself:
KDX200 2-Smoke of near equal vintage.  I had a 220 previously.  I should be able to follow him around on this.  🙂

Looking forward to some summer fun this year 😀

I drummed up some LEGACY web content from the pre-blog days.  Believe it or not people are still searching for some of it on this site now and then.

All my X-dirtbike trip reports, and maintenance and mods for KDX are back here: Super-Legacy-KDX-And-General-Dirtbike-Content


2013 Trip out west

I am currently out riding out west, in somewhat of a repeat of the ride we did in 2008. Riding with Dad, Kyle Hayes Sr, Joe and Steve. We’re traveling a more northernly route, and Joe and I will turn around somewhere after Montana, while Dad, Steve, and Kyle Sr. will ride out to Salem, Oregon to the BMW MOA Rally.

I”m not blogging and posting like I used to but our location should be tracked below using my iPhone and Google Latitude which is about to be kicked to the curb by Google in August. Which is sad.

[iframe src=”https://spotwalla.com/embed.php?id=73da51dd64453960c&width=600&height=600&scale=on&zoom=default&refresh=no” width=”100%” height=”480″]

As I write this we’re in day two of 10 or so days. Currently in Buffalo, MN.

We’re headed to Bismark, ND then on to the good riding.

Sena SMH10 Redux

Back in June of last year I evaluated the Sena Bluetooth SMH10 and panned it here.

Back then, prior to 4.0 firmware, Sena had some issues with this product.  Sound quality and volume were in a word absolutely horrible compared to the Starcomm I was using.

This now that Sena was up to firmware version 4.2 I thought I’d reevaluate them.  I knew I was also picking up a new helmet this year and waited before installing the.   I added the Sena to the Nolan N104 the day I got it.  Which was a bit disconcerting since you have to cut a slot for the mounting tab in the bottom of the helmet.

My primary reasons for wanting the Sena were bike-to-bike intercom.  But since that represents less than 5% of my riding I wasn’t willing to give up any audio quality to get that which is why I passed on them last year.

Once mounted up, the speakers dropped (or pressed) right into the helmet where the Nolan BT stuff would normally go.   I used it for a few days.  

Again, I wasn’t happy.  Sound quality blew, and volume was probably 80% of where it needed to be.   I wear earplugs when I ride, wind noise over long distances is very fatiguing.  For a definition of a long ride see the prior post: Mason-Dixon 20-20 Rally Report.  Again I was disappointed in the audio quality with my Zumo 665 via bluetooth and again, phone quality with the iPhone 4s paired with the Zumo was equally bad.

After poking around, asking on some boards, reading blogs, etc.   It became clear that this is more likely a problem with the Zumo Bluetooth and not the Sena.

Even with the Garmin Zumo 665 paired as the phone so that it uses the higher quality A2DP bluetooth magic, it wasn’t always good.   It was good sometimes, sometimes it seems the Zumo would just choose to use the Hands Free Profile or basic headset profile.  When using those modes, again, audio sounded like listening to an AM radio through a pillow.   Not good.

After discussing with Sena Tech support, I paired with the iPhone directly as a phone.  Wow, audio quality was there.   The volumes wasn’t quite there, but audio quality was.

I then paired the Zumo as a multi-point device, and GPS Audio turn directions were good enough.   Not high quality but that didn’t matter.

So we’re making progress.    More research indicated that the low audio volume problem is well known.   One solution is to use good earbuds instead of speakers.   So I switched up the mount to the Sena Earbud mount and put together a pair of EarFuze custom ear plugs.   Yep, the volume was there.   Now we’re cooking.   The Earfuze are good but not great.  Upgrading those to a pair of Westone UM2’s and we’re there.   Awesome sound quality from the iPhone and more than adequate volume.

So now phase two, intercom testing.   My riding buddy put a Sena on his helmet, we paired them up and went for a ride.   Impressive.    I never had really good luck with intercom with the Starcomm even though that’s what it was designed to do.   It always picked up too much wind noise and I spent way too much time trying to ‘tune it’.  But for single rider use it was pretty awesome.

With the Sena, I can’t wait to ride with my wife or one of my kids and have the ability to chat with them at the same time.

But I now had new problems.   Manipulating an iPhone while riding with gloves on isn’t an easy task.   Yeah the Sena kind of does that but I didn’t find it to be super-reliable.   I’m really hoping they fix that with Firmware 4.3 (hint hint).

A buddy turned me on to a small inexpensive bluetooth remote.   This one.   It works as advertised.

So now I get:

  • Really good, high quality audio through the iPhone with the ability to listen to podcasts, something that I couldn’t easily do with the Zumo.   Getting them, converting them to mp3’s was a pain.   Then Zumo didn’t know the difference so when you’d shuffle music you’d get the occasional pod cast or audiobook.
  • Good enough GPS audio for turn by turn directions.
  • Really good phone call audio.
  • Rider to Rider intercom that actually works, up to about 1/4 mile.

Now using it for the first 800 miles was pretty good.   But there were a couple of problems.

1) I could initiate an intercom with my buddy but he couldn’t “usually” initiate the intercom.   I was streaming audio from the phone and I think the Sena doesn’t know it’s not a phone call so it takes priority.   He was using audio piped in via the mp3 jack, from his mixit so that he’d have music (from an older zumo) and radar.

This wasn’t a deal breaker though, inconvenient yes but not a deal breaker.  He could wave and point to his helmet and I could always call him.   GPS directions from the multi-paired Zumo interrupted the intercom.

2) At the end of our initial ride, my buddy’s Sena just died.  Wouldn’t charge and won’t charge up.  We rode through a crazy amount of rain.  But these things are supposed to be water/rain resistant. 

Luckily we were able to borrow one for the rally ride and for 1440 miles we had the ability to communicate and that was huge.

I’m in the process of testing their warranty at the moment and will add how that goes.   But for now I’ve pulled all of the Starcomm stuff from my bike and plan to use the Sena from here on out.

We got a good 14 hours of use before charging was required.   Thankfully they work while charging so a portable battery in the breast pocket of my jacket kept us going through the rally.  In the future I’ll have one in the tank bag charging or charged and I’ll just swap them.

So as of right now I’ve found a good compromise.   I am disappointed with Garmin and their Zumo 665 BT stack.  This was allegedly broken with the Zumo 665 2.9 firmware update.   I’ve downgraded to 2.8 but that didn’t seem to fix it.  Maybe I’ll roll back to 2.7 and see if that helps.

For now, the Sena dual pack at $300 average retail if you shop around, it’s a bargain.

Read the folding bike reviews for more info.

2013 Mason-Dixon 20-20 Rally Report

If you already know what a Motorcycle Endurance Rally is.  Maybe because you read my report from last year (2012), or (2011) or (2010) or (2009) you can skip this section and go straight to the Ride report.   Otherwise, the basics are explained in the (2010) report.

This years theme was the Battle for Lexington.

Mason Dixon 20-20 2013 Info

Unlike previous years, this rally would not be a Photo-Bonus Rally.   Meaning you don’t go somewhere, with a flag, and get a picture.  Instead you’ll be answering questions about what’s at the location.   The very first Mason-Dixon I did was mostly this.   You show up at a place, read, for instance the historical marker, and answer a fill in the blank question about the content.

This year however it was worse, way worse and we’ll get into that in a minute.

Also unlike previous years, there were very few boni compared to previous years.

48 to be exact.


Starting in Martinsburg, WV

We had the opportunity to visit lots of great places.   In order of importance, the Purple values are the highest, followed by Red, then Blue, then Green.

On the map the circles are available 24 hours, the Squares are defined as daylight ONLY bonuses, and the 3rd type as some sort of time availability.  There were few of these, but they are something like only available Sunday from 10am to 12pm.

Almost all of them have some sort of ‘”Lexington” Tie in.   Maybe they all do but it seemed to me only about half did.

This was the fewest number of boni that I can remember.   After reviewing the data, it became pretty clear, there’s really only one route:


Now one of the things that’s always amazed me about rallying is the different approaches, and different views, and the different ways people get things done.   What I feel is the best route usually isn’t that far off from (quote)The Best Route(unquote).   I said usually.  There have been rallies where we completely missed the obvious, or didn’t think something was possible, yet it got done.

This year the ‘Clear Route’ is what you see above.   You could choose to run it clockwise or counter clockwise.  Each had it’s advantages and disadvantages.   We ran it clockwise.

*Disclaimer:  Clear route to me, is the highest points I could obtain within my riding parameters.  Including MPH average over roads and with the knowledge of the areas we’ll be riding in that I have.  That might not be the same for you, or anyone else.  If you chose a different route because this one wasn’t obvious to you, that’s perfectly acceptable   I’m not saying or trying to say that everyone should have chosen this but cause that’s never the case.

The obvious “wild cards” in my mind off the base route are highlighted.  The winning route got two of them, the upper two.  Because we ran the route the direction we did, the highlighted red Square (Daylight Only) bonus wasn’t available to us as it was the middle of the night when we were riding by.

We ran the route the direction we did for a couple reasons.

1) Riding good twisty roads, the kind we we like, is best done in the daylight hours.   Certainly traffic might slow you down but even with big ass lights, we prefer to ride these in the daylight.

2) We double-stacked the bonus at Jim’s grave.  The winner went there 2nd, then did the loop, then went back to get the second opportunity at the same location.   He rode 1640 miles in 29 hours, we rode 1440.

We both slept for about 3:20 so really we had 28.67 hours available to us.

Now it may not be the right approach, but that’s how I’ve learned to do this.   Take the available riding hours, in this case the rally is a 32 hour rally, minus the mandatory 3 hour rest and you get 29 hours to work with.

Take an average that you’re comfortable riding, knowing the roads, and locations, traffic, times of day, all that stuff, and you get something like this:


For us, that 50MPH average, that’s TOTAL average, including stops, not just riding average.   For us (me) 50 is a good number.   It represents driving at or about ~5MPH over the limit in the ‘safe zone’.  It’s not crazy.  We know we’ll spend 3-7 minutes per stop.

The Top rally rides don’t spend that much time.  If it’s a photo bonus, they may not even get off the bike.

So we built our route based upon that number 1450 miles was in our “Wheelhouse”.

The winner rode 1640  miles, while we rode that many miles in 2011, it was 97% highway miles.

Given that this was a non-photo bonus rally, meaning you had to read, interpret, think, and write, we expected each stop to take longer, and take longer it did.

The other monkey wrench, is “usually”, when you complete the rally, you have a few hours to get your ‘crap together’ and organize your paperwork.

Not so this year. The rally ended at 2pm, if you got back at 2:01 you were DNF (Did Not Finish), you had to be in line, with paperwork ready to be scored by 3pm.    Ugh, this meant that your paperwork had to be pristine throughout the rally.  Some guys jumped off their bikes and took photos of the stuff to figure out the Q and A later.   I didn’t feel that was the right way to go, given the small paperwork window we had.   Our route was tight enough (for us).  But that’s exactly what the winner did.

This year there were two wild card bonuses. 1) Get a package of un-opened, Pepperidge Farm Lexington Cookies.   2) Get a business card that had the word ‘Lexington’ on it somewhere.

We killed both of those in one stop at Target in Lexington, both the cookies and the card.

So how was this rally different?

As I mentioned earlier, in previous rallies you might roll up to a Highway historical marker something like this:

In a Question/Answer rally, the book might say something like:

How far away and in what direction is the home of William Gause Jr.?     And you would write in “four miles south”.

This year, our chief rally bastard did us one better.

Instead of giving us the question, we had a double sided sheet of paper with 48 questions.   So we’d show up, check the rally book, find out that we were at a historical marker, hopefully the right one, read it, then scan the page for the question that fit.  The Question for Bonus location X01 was not Q01, they were all scrambled.


Then scan another page, double sided, with 48 answers and put the two together.

That was bad enough, but some of these bonus locations were simply jacked.  One had us looking for a ‘Sign’, but it turned out we needed to be looking for a Fire Hydrant.

Another was a block away from where the way point that we were provided was.  Yeah, the address was there, but we weren’t provided with a list of addresses to put in our GPS, we were given Lat/Long Info.

Some of the questions and answers weren’t right.  They were close but not right.

I’m not trying to sound bitter, or angry, I’m tired. I recognize the work that goes into this and other rallies and nobody is perfect.  But when we (as riders) are held to a high standard for ‘attention to detail’ and rider comprehension, it’s very frustrating when things that are supposed to line up don’t.

Of course we had the normal Rally bastard Chesedickery, where you’d roll up and there were (4) historical markers you had to read and process at one location, and some of the signs are double-sidded. 🙂   And I know Cheesedickery when I see it because I now have a Masters in Cheesedickery.


And the best part, we were given this awesome Mug as SWAG:


A big ass heavy ceramic mug, a mug that you had to carry with you to get signed at a couple of the locations.  Brilliant! Smile

I don’t know how many folks didn’t get their mug signed because the just left it at the Rally hotel but I’m sure there were a few.

Lastly, the wild-cards.

If you obtained the wild cards, you could use them in place of a question or an answer.  If you obtained both, you could plop those in as a Question and an Answer for a bonus that you didn’t ride too.

The highest point bonus was in Toluca, IL.   Too far to ride for 1414 points because you’d sacrifice so many others.   But, getting those two wild cards (as most people did) they were able to claim that bonus (and most riders did).

We took a little different approach.  We scanned the questions and found a question that mentioned the Toluca railroad or mine or something.   So we used that Question and use a wild card for the answer, then we went down the list, and eventually found another ~800 pointer that we felt fairly confident we had the right Question/Answer.   So we used that and rolled the dice.  It worked, mostly.

My failure was that I knew the answer, it was actually a Pancake house who’d been serving food since 1937.   That answer was A20, but A21 was what I wrote down.   That mistake alone coast me 66% of those points and 2 or 3 finishing places.

Kyle didn’t drop any points at scoring, and was awarded with the Jim Young Memorial Rider Efficiency trophy which was pretty sweet.

It was another fun rally, the new hotel location worked out well.  Staff was friendly as always.  Next year’s theme is ‘Get Crabby’ or something like that, which means probably a whole lot of east coast stuff.   But then again, I thought the Mountain Doo-Doo was going to be all mountain roads ;0

I continued to be amazed at what people can “Pull-Off”.   Josh (the winner) is a machine, most of the guys that do win this are machines.   They can sit there and twist that.  They  must have huge bladders or a much better strategy for dealing with waste than we do.

We had a great ride.   We planned our ride and rode our plan, minus my paperwork snafu, we got the results we expected.

So until next year…