Here piggy, piggy, piggy…

160620_1991-900-650You may remember a few months ago I told you about a Model 70 Winchester I bought for the specific purpose of chasing pigs, and now it’s official:  My lifelong buddy Paul and I are hunting boar in September.  I’ll use that gorgeous curly maple Model 70 you see above (it’s a .30 06), and Paul is using his magnificent pre-’64 Model 70 in .270 Winchester.  That’s a rifle with a real pedigree:  It was handed down to Paul by his father, and this particular one is rifle royalty.  It doesn’t get any better than Paul’s pre-’64 Model 70, and the .270 Winchester cartridge is the quintessential chambering for it.

The Model 70 story is one I’ll tell you about some other time, but for now I’ll just mention that this particular rifle (i.e., Paul’s .270) was my very first exposure to the wonderful world of high-powered, long-distance marksmanship.  Paul’s dad used to fire that rifle across the fields behind our house, but before he did little Pauly would always knock on our door to tell us all hell was about to break loose.  That was mighty neighborly, as an unexpected bark from a .270 Winchester would have scared the bejesus out of everyone (I’m not sure what bejesus is, but I like the word so I’m using it here).  Paul and I were next-door neighbors back in those days.   We’ve literally known each other all of our lives.

Okay, back to the pig thing.  Back in the 1910s folks imported Russian boar into California so guys could hunt them without having to buy a boat ticket to Russia.  Then something happened that surprised everybody:  The Russian boars loved it over here and the population proliferated.   Then, being pigs, they cross bred with domestic hogs.   The bottom line today is that most of the US has a runaway wild pig problem…a problem guys like Paul and I are only too happy to help solve.

Here piggy, piggy, piggy...

Here piggy, piggy, piggy…

In preparation for our hunt, I’ve been working up a load for my Model 70, and yesterday I found the Holy Grail.   Two of them, actually.   Here’s how it worked out…

Loads

Model 70 magic...

100-yard Model 70 magic…

The deal on these kinds of development efforts is that you experiment with different powders, primers, bullets, and charge weights to find an individual rifle’s sweet spot, and I found two.  Over the course of two days, I fired all of the above loads at 100 yards at my gun club, and the ones in yellow are the ones I’m going with.  I’ll be using 150 grain Winchester jacketed soft point bullets (I bought a bunch of them about 7 years ago when it looked liked reloading components might dry up altogether).   You can never be too thin, too good-looking, or have too many bullets under your reloading bench.

It was brutally hot when I tested the loads in the above table (we’ve been having horrific heat here in So Cal), and the horseflies were out in force while I was shooting.   Under better conditions and with more-carefully-crafted reloads (trimmed brass, individually weighed propellant charges, etc.) I’ll bet the groups sizes will shrink even further.   My Model 70 is a sub-minute-of-angle rifle now (it will shoot into less than an inch at 100 yards).   That’s outstanding from a factory rifle, but I think it will do even better.

I’m pumped up.  Going pig hunting again is a bucket list item for me, and hunting with my good buddy Paul will make it even better.  I’ve been out for hogs before, but the only thing I ever got on those earlier adventures was poison oak.  I’m hoping to bring home the bacon this time.   Stay tuned, and you’ll read about it right here.

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Your thoughts?

Hey, we thought we’d put this out there…we’re discussing potential future RX3 improvements, and we’ve got our ideas about what we think would be cool upgrades for future versions of the RX3.   But we don’t want to do like the other guys do (that is to say, drink our own bathwater).   Nope, we’re interested in hearing from you.   What would you like to see us incorporate on the RX3?   Send your thoughts to  info@cscmotorcycles.com, and thanks in advance.

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July 8th: Crystal Lake!

There’s nothing like a ride in the San Gabriel Mountains, and July 8th, we’re riding to Crystal Lake up in the San Gabriels!   We ordinarily ride on the first Saturday of the month, but that would put us firmly in the 4th of July weekend…so we pushed our ride out to the following week.  Mark your calendars…we’re riding on the 8th!

You’ll need to be at CSC before 9:00 a.m. with a full tank of fuel.   We’ll have coffee up in Crystal Lake.   It’s going to be great.    You can sign up for the ride on our Meetup.com page here.

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A cool note from Will…

Our good buddy Will sent a cool note to me late last night.  It would seem Will found a new use for his RX3…

Joe,

We have started our traveling life and I had to use the RX3 as my tire shop runner this morning when I woke up to a flat in New Orleans. Who needs a pickup?

WillRX3I emailed previously about Baja ’18. Please put me on the list. I am ready to go.

Thanks,

Will

Will, that’s a new application for an RX3!   Glad your travels are progressing well.  You’re on the list for Baja and I know you will love it.  It will be our fourth CSC Baja expedition, and take it from me, Baja is the best riding in the world.  I’m looking forward to it as much as you are!

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Never say never…

What a week it has been…Singapore, Chongqing, and after a long haul yesterday, back in the good old USA.   It’s 00:38 hours here in Los Angeles right now, and I’m still on China time (which would be 3:38 tomorrow afternoon over there).

Yep, I’m wide awake.   I’ll be out of kilter like this for another 3 or 4 days.  Trust me on this…this ain’t my first rodeo and that’s how long it takes.   I thought I might as well take advantage of my jet lag and post a few photos and tell a story or two about this most recent adventure in Chongqing.

First, a few food photos from the Business Center at Zongshen.   You guys and gals tell me you love food photos, so here we go…

170614_1761-650170614_1762-650170614_1763-650170614_1764-650170614_1770-650170614_1771-650Okay, enough food photos for a bit (I’ll show you a few more later in this blog).  Back to the story.  On Friday afternoon, my good buddies Sean and Robby (and I) hopped in Sean’s Chinese-manufactured SUV.  It’s a nice vehicle that reminds me a lot of my Subaru CrossTrek.

I grabbed a few photos from the passenger seat on our ride through the Chinese countryside outside of Chongqing…

170615_1920-650170615_1924-650170615_1928-650170615_1930-650170615_1919-650Robbie, Sean, and yours truly were on our way to lunch.  Sean told me we were going to a restaurant known for its chicken.

First, a photo of Sean, me, and Robbie…

170615_1953-650And a few photos as we entered the restaurant…

170615_1935-650170615_1940-650The way it works in China is you select your dinner, and then you get a fresh chicken.

Now, when I say “fresh” in the context of this blog about our lunch a day or so ago in China, it has a different connotation than how we think of “fresh” in the US.  When we say fresh, we mean maybe it’s not been frozen for too long.

When the Chinese say fresh, well, see for yourself…

170615_1936-650170615_1939-650Okay, so maybe the day didn’t go so well for the chicken.

The lunch sure was good, though!

170615_1945-650170615_1944-650170615_1947-650170615_1946-650170615_1949-650After that memorable lunch, Sean drove us to General Chiang Kai Shek’s home (one of his four homes, actually).  It’s located high on a mountain top overlooking downtown Chongqing.  It was a tough hike to get to the very top and it was hot and humid, but the climb was worth it.   We were rewarded with a commanding view of downtown Chongqing, where the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers join.   You can just make out the city through the haze…

170615_1968-650It was a cool thing to see.  The first time I ever visited Chongqing about 5 years ago, I knew it was a special place and I always had this idea I wanted to come back and photograph the city.  I could spend a month here doing just that.

Chongqing is an amazing place.  With a population of around 34 million people (that’s larger than the state of California), Chongqing is one of the world’s great megacities.  The city is centered where two of the world’s great rivers (the Jialing and the Yangtze) merge.   It was the capital of China during World War II in an attempt to get the seat of government further away from Japan, but the Japanese bombed the hell out of the place anyway.   The Chinese built a series of underground caverns and tunnels to protect their people from the bombing (just like the British did in London during the war).

I feel incredibly lucky just having had the opportunity to visit Chongqing.  Like I said, it really is an amazing place.   Surprisingly, most Americans have never heard of it.

After the visit to General Chiang Kai Shek’s home, it was back downtown for us.  Here’s a photo from Sean’s car as we crossed the Yangtze River on one of Chongqing’s many magnificent bridges…

170615_1975-650We were headed to Shir’s motorcycle accessories store, teahouse, and moto gathering spot.  You may remember my description of Shir’s place in Riding China.   Shir is something of a mystic, a soothsayer, and a prophetess in the Chinese moto world. Yep, I’m completely serious when I describe Shir that way. Our ride leaders consulted with Shir prior to our leaving on the China ride last year, and they did so the night before the ride. The other guys told me it was for luck and to get Shir’s blessing for our ride, and I guess it worked. We had a great time, nobody crashed, and all went well on that wonderful adventure. It was kind of funny…Joe Gresh and I thought both Shir and her teahouse were magical, and one of us commented that we’d probably never see it again.

Well, never say never.  It can come sooner than you might think. Here I was headed to Shir’s teahouse again, and this time it was for an interview.

When we arrived, my good buddy “He” was waiting for me. He’s name is not pronounced like it’s spelled. It’s pronounced “Chwah!” and the pronunciation has to be very forceful to sound right. He is the guy who created the video of our ride last year.

Sean staged a photo of He and me arm wrestling…

170616_1898-650The arm wrestling photo is kind of funny in the sense that during the ride, He (“Chwa!”) always wanted to stop to get more video footage, and I always wanted to keep going.   I thought the whole video thing was a first class pain in the butt while we were doing the ride, but that just goes to show you how little I knew.  When I saw the finished video my good friend He had created, I was blown away.   It was first class in every regard and I was grateful that they had done it.  On the off chance you’ve never seen the video, here it is again…

It seems our ride across China made Gresh and me famous in China, and a Chinese news outlet wanted to interview me about the differences between riding in China and the US. They were also very interested in Riding China, and I had an opportunity to plug the book.

Imagine that!

170616_1899-650170616_1904-650 170616_1917-900-650That’s it for now, folks.   It’s nearly 2:00 a.m., so I think I’ll try to get a little sleep and get back on a US biorhythm schedule.

Later, my friends!

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Time travel, electric bikes, and being No. 1…

Wow, lots of miles in the last 7 or 8 days.  I say “7 or 8” because it’s a little hard to keep track of.  When you fly to Asia, you get there 2 days later.  When you fly home, you actually get back before you left.   China is 15 hours ahead of California and it’s a 12-hour flight.  I left Beijing at noon on the 17th, and I landed in California at 9:00 a.m. (also on the 17th).  Like I said, it’s little confusing.

Anyway, I had a couple more interesting notes from our good buddies Greg and Andy.   First, the note from Andy…

Hey Joe,

I hope you recover well from what sounded like a very plesent trip to China. I am glad to hear you guys looked into shoehorning a TT250 engine into the mini bike even though the results are unfavorable. An electric “Grom” would be wonderful. Actually any electric affordable bike would be great. I assume it will be easier to import an electric being emissions free and all but perhaps not since it might have to meet electrical standards depending on if the charger is internal or external. Let me know when I can put a deposit down for one, I am very interested!

Andy

We hear you, Andy, and you can be sure we’re giving this topic a lot of thought and a lot of analysis.  Personally, I’d like to see it happen.  It’s partly the P&L and partly the passion, and as you know, at CSC we’re passionate about motorcycling.  We’ll see how it all pencils out.

And hey, I also had this nice note from my good buddy Tucson Greg.  Seems like we made the Motorcycle.com “best bikes” list again, and this time, we’re No. 1!  But don’t take my word for it…read the article yourself!

http://www.motorcycle.com/features/10-best-beginner-motorcycles.html/2

Greg and Andy, thanks for writing to us.   We sure do enjoy hearing from you and all of our riders.

Oh, and one more thing:  All you Dads out there have a happy Father’s Day tomorrow; I know I sure will!

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A nice note from Bob…

My good buddy Bob wasted no time in letting me know his thoughts on today’s blog…

Hi Joe,

I’m reading your blog posts with earnest.  Glad you liked Singapore (great city, very clean, good food… don’t chew gum), and I see that you’ve made it to Chongqing and the Zongshen factory.

I think CSC might do REALLY well to bring in the electric scooters and the CinEco.  The scooters are a staple around college campuses, and not having to get a motorcycle license is a huge plus.  I would think you’d sell a good many of those!  Heck, even in the urban sprawl, an electric scooter (with a torque peak at zero RPM) would move along with traffic smartly and get most people to the office and back economically and a lot faster than in a cage.

The CinEco seems like a no brainer also.  Bring that and the College Boys (and Gals) that don’t want to be seen on a scooter, can get around campus fine on a Electric Monkey Bike!  I think you’d do extremely well with those… especially with all the colleges/universities around Southern California.

I love the way that RK150 looks, especially the exposed Trellis frame.  Depending on power output, it might be a genuine competitor to the Grom.  Your friend told you, “Does the world need another Grom?”  Well, Kawasaki seemed to think so when they brought out the Z125.  If the RK150 has more horsepower than the Grom or the Z125, and it’s priced lower, I think you would have a winner there.  Plus the 150cc would allow the RK150 to be freeway legal… something the Grom and Z125 can’t claim to do.

Hope the trip goes well, and like Dan, I would love to hear about the parallel twin 400 or the RX450 when you can talk about it.

Now… back to cleaning my (new to me) Sino-Soviet “Ghost” SKS.

Bob

Thanks for your inputs, Bob.   All great food for thought.   We really do appreciate hearing what our customers think.  And hey, with that SKS, you’ll have to join us for one of our monthly milsurp get-togethers.

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Zongshen!

Riding new models on Zongshen’s test track.   A visit to the super-secret Zongshen R&D facility.   Seeing things I can’t photograph or tell anyone about.   Seeing old friends again.   A fabulous lunch and a fabulous dinner.   A special WeChat welcome just for me.  What a day I had yesterday!

Wow, it’s 3:47 a.m. over here in Chongqing and I’m wide awake.   No sense fighting it, as I’ll be struggling against the time change yet again when I return to California in another day.   Nope, what I’ve found works best on these short secret missions is staying tired and then sleeping for about 30 hours when I get back to the US.

I took a bunch of photos yesterday, and the best two (I think) are of my good friends Tracy and Sean from the Riding China adventure.    I bought copies of the book with me so that I could give one to each of these great guys.   Here’s my good buddy Tracy…

170614_1756-650Tracy was a lot of fun on our ride last year.   The guy has a great sense of humor and he always had a way to make us laugh, whether we were freezing on the Tibetan Plateau or sweltering in the heat and humidity of Luoyang.  I like the guy.  I told Tracy yesterday I’m going to PhotoShop his hair on my head.   I might just get around to that later today.

This next photo is of Sean, our mission commander on the ride across China.  He’s another good buddy.   His tagline in the mornings on that trip was always “I have a surprise for you,” and then Joe Gresh and I would spend the next 30 minutes wondering if it was going to be a good surprise or a bad surprise.   Sean is a great guy.

170614_1759-650Everybody over here is on WeChat (it’s their answer to Facebook), and Sean had done something especially nice on WeChat for me.   He contacted all of the riders on our trip last year and they all posted short “welcome to China” videos (they live all across China).  It was really nice.

Zongshen has a massive manufacturing campus in Chongqing (it’s several hundred acres), and Mr. Zuo Zongshen (the founder) lives on a hilltop overlooking it all.   The company built a luxurious Business Center on that same hilltop estate and we had lunch up there yesterday.   Here’s a photo showing (from left to right) Mr. Ma (the marketing manager), Hugo (who rode with us on the 5000-mile Western America Adventure Ride 2 years ago), Fan (my good friend and original contact at Zongshen), Sean, Robbie (our primary contact at Zongshen), yours truly, and Mr. Deng (a Zongshen vice president and general manager).

170614_1774-650I spent the day yesterday in meetings, visiting Zongshen’s ultra-secret and ultra-advanced R&D center, and riding new models.   Some of what I saw I can tell you about and some of it I can’t.  But I’ve been to the inner sanctum and I’ve seen (and ridden) amazing machines.  I know; I am one lucky guy.

Let’s get to the things I can talk about.  The first is a new line of Zongshen electric scooters.   You will recall from my blog posts during the Riding China trip (and in the Riding China book) that I discussed the tremendous electrification of China, and how they are way ahead of us in fielding electric cars and scooters.   Electric scooters outnumber gasoline-powered scooters by something north of 20 to 1 in China.  It’s a huge market.

170614_1812-650It felt strange but cool riding the new electric Zongshen scooters.  And it was fun!  It’s like being on a sailboat or riding a bicycle downhill.   These little things get up and go quickly and quietly, and then you ride in total silence.  You kind of feel like you’re getting away with something.

I enjoyed zooming through the Zongshen motorcycle assembly areas on my electric scooter (you might say I really got a charge out of it).   The electric scooter’s range is about 60 miles and the top speed is about 40 mph, so they are strictly “around town” affairs.  The fit and finish was absolutely first class.   Here’s the cool part…the sell price on these machines would be something relatively low, even compared to a TT250.   So, you guys and gals tell me…do you think they would sell in the US?

Here’s the one I rode…

170614_1789-650Here’s what the dash looks like on an electric scooter…

170614_1817-650In addition to the electric scooter line, Zongshen manufactures a very nice line of gasoline-powered 125cc scooters.  I rode one of those, too.   Check this out…

170614_1801-650My problem when I visit Zongshen is that I fall in love with everything I see and everything I ride.   I thought the electric and the gas scooters were both great.  I’d buy either one in a heartbeat.   They are just flat cool.

You might remember that I told you about the new small bike from Zongshen that looks like Honda’s Grom.  I saw one of those yesterday.  It’s a 150 and it’s stunning…

170614_1822-650The problem for us is we don’t know if there’s a US market for a bike like the one you see in the photo above.  As my good buddy Michigan Mike put it, does the world need another Grom?   We had looked into selling these with the TT250’s 250cc CG engine, but it’s not feasible from an engineering perspective.  Still, the bike looks great and I would love to own one.  The fit and finish on all of the Zongshens is as good or better than anything from Italy, Japan, Austria, Germany, or the US.  These guys have it dialed.

Here’s a copper Cafe Racer, and it’s another beautiful Zongshen…

170614_1823-650By the way, finalizing our US Cafe Racer configuration (you might call it the Cafe Americano) is one of the main reasons I’m over here.  It’s coming, folks, and you’re going to love it.

These are RX1 motorcycles headed to the UK.  I like the matt gray finish.

170614_1824-650170614_1825-650I grabbed a photo of brand new Zongshen ZII 125cc motorcycles being prepped for shipment.  It was grand fun riding around the assembly building on my electric scooter yesterday, taking photos in the motorcycle factory.  Good times.

170614_1828-650Zongshen makes an Anniversary Edition of the iconic RX3 motorcycle (I love using that word, iconic, when describing the RX3).   Iconic.  It just fits.  These Anniversary Edition bikes are particularly distinctive.

170614_1829-650Check this out….the Z-Road.  Not the Z-Rod or the V-Rod, but the Z-Road.  You have to admit, these guys are not without a sense of humor….

170614_1831-650Zongshen also has an electric version of their Grom-sized motorcycle, and I rode that one, too.  Here’s a photo of it…

170615_1753-60Of all the motorcycles and scooters I rode yesterday, the electric bike in the photo above impressed me the most.  It was stable, it was sure-footed, and it was very, very fast.   It’s not as inexpensive as the electric scooters, but it would still be inexpensive.  I liked it a lot.

170615_1754-650I rode other things I can’t talk about, and I saw many more things in the R&D center I can’t show you (and that includes way more than just the RX4).  And on that topic…

  • Yes, I rode the RX4.
  • No, I can’t show you the photos.
  • Yes, the RX4 is awesome.
  • No, the RX4 is not happening any time soon (if you’re holding off buying an RX3 because you want the RX4, you’re going to miss a lot of riding).
  • Yes, I’ll tell you more about the RX4 when I can, but that’s not now.

What I can tell you about my visit yesterday was that it was all fascinating.

The good news is I get to spend another full day with Zongshen.  These guys have arranged an interview later (not a job interview, although if I was 40 years younger and just starting my career, I would love working for Zongshen).  The interview today is with a media company and it’s about the Riding China adventure.  It’s going to be fun.  But it’s all fun over here.

That’s it for now, folks.   As always, there’s more coming.  Stay tuned!

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Chongqing!

170614_1716-650

The view from my hotel room window a few minutes ago. I’ve seen the sun shine in Chongqing, but it doesn’t happen often!

Whoa, Chongqing!  After a 2-hour delay last night getting off the ground in Beijing, I finally touched down in Chongqing at 2:00 a.m. today.   But that’s okay; all was made well with the outstanding coffee at the Le Meridian Hotel’s dynamite breakfast buffet a short while ago.   And Joe Gresh, if you’re reading this:  Yes, they had baozi, and yes, they were exquisite.

For our Facebook friends…there’s no Facebook in China.   I think it has something to do with improving workplace productivity.   You’ll need to check the CSC blog for all of our updates.

I’ll be in the Zongshen plant in another hour or so.  Right now, it’s a quick trip to the gym, a quick shower, and I’ll be back in action in one of the world’s great manufacturing organizations…which is where I was meant to be!

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Sitting in Beijing, catching up on my email…

Wow, what an airport!    I have a 4-hour layover between Singapore and Chonqging in the Beijing airport, and as it turns out, that’s a good thing!  There was an incredibly long line getting through Chinese Immigration in the Beijing airport (after spending a little over 6 hours on the flight from Singapore to Beijing), then I had to take a shuttle to another terminal, then I had to get in another long line to get a boarding pass for the 3-hour flight to Chongqing, then I had to go through security again, and from there it was a good 20-minute walk (all in the terminal) to get to my gate.  I’m sure glad I have my laptop and I’m sure glad they have free Wi Fi here.   It’s making the time go quickly.

My blog the other day on the Grand Garands elicited a couple of nice responses from our readers.  Here’s a great note from my good buddy Johnny B in Nevada…

Hello Joe,  I remember it well, the mighty M1.  I started basic training at Fort Ord, California about April first 1962.  We were issued M1s, and I remember that I only shot to the Marksman level.  I also remember our commanding officer saying at our graduation that we better be able to throw rocks at the enemy!

When I got to my permanent posting with the 124th Signal Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington I was assigned to be the commanding officers driver and was issued the M3A1 .45 cal Submachine Gun (grease gun).  It was great fun shooting this little automatic.

We did not get the M14 until sometime later.  My memory does not give me a more exact time frame, but I think it would have been sometime in 1963.  I also do not remember the M14 having the selector switch for full/semi auto.

As a younger person before the Army, I had a Winchester Model 69A, bolt-action clip fed, .22 cal rifle good for tin cans and such.  Then I found my way to the Remington Rolling Block single shot rifles.  I had two of these: one was a junker of a .43 cal and the other was a 7mm and a fine shooter. Great fun was had with all of them.

Thanks for your great blog, I look forward to reading it every day,

Johnny B

Thanks for the note, Johnny B!   If I recall, you are indeed correct:  Not all of the M14s had the full auto capability.   I think one or two riflemen per infantry squad were equipped with M14s that had a selector switch for full auto.  I believe this was a measure to conserve ammunition.   I can’t get to Google here in Beijing, but when I return to the other Peoples Republik (i.e., California), I’ll check it out.   And on that M3, well, I only had an opportunity to fire the M3 Grease Gun once when I was in the Army, but like you, I loved it.  Fierce little beast, that one was!

And hey, guys and gals, here’s another note from my good buddy Marty B just down the road from us in So Cal.  Marty’s note is on the Mini 14…

Hi Joe,

You might be interested to know that the Mini 14 is the lethal weapon in the arsenal of California’s prison towers. An escape is considered so dangerous to public safety that officers are trained to use lethal force if inmates have escaped from the perimeter of their yard and are headed for the outer perimeter. I know an officer that had to take that shot and the inmate took a non fatal wound to his rear end. His inmate partner in the escape proned out on the spot. We have a range on the grounds at Chino and it’s close enough that the inmates can hear the officers training every day. I’m sure that gives them something to think about. 

Marty

I did not know that, Marty.  That’s interesting.  The .223 cartridge is plenty potent, and if it keeps the bad guys where they belong (i.e., behind bars), I think that’s a good thing, too!

You know, it’s always amazed me how many riders share common interests.  I’m trying to recall if I know anybody who rides a motorcycle who isn’t also interested in firearms, and I’m not coming up with any names.  Another common interest is photography…that’s a topic that often emerges when I get together with any group of riders.

Well, that’s it for now.   Another hour or so and we start boarding, and then it’s 3 hours and 5 minutes to Chongqing (I’ll get in around midnight).  And then I get to see my friends from the Riding China adventure, the grandest ride ever.  While I was in the air traveling from Singapore to China earlier today, I played with the map thingamajig on the seat in front of me, adjusting the scale so I could get all of China on the screen along with the names of the major cities, and it hit me once again:   Riding China was one hell of a ride!

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