Thursday, December 18, 2014

April 2013: Tour of Honor Saddlesore 1,000 Extreme

With Nikki's prompting, I took a wander around Kansas in April of 2013 and seemed to have picked up all 7 Tour of Honor sites, pending approval. While I was riding, I went ahead and got receipts and stuff; turned out to be around 1,040 miles round trip and took right at 23 hours - that qualifies for an Iron Butt Association Saddle Sore ride.  Combine them both and it's a Saddlesore Extreme.
The Tour of Honor is a Summer long grand tour, where you ride and take photos of your motorcycle with various memorials to veterans, police and other service organizations. If you get 7 sites in any combination, you're  a 'finisher'.

I Rolled out on the stock CBR at 11:20 AM from Overland Park, KS. Rode out to Ft. Riley, Abiline KS, then Colby KS on I70. That was a *push*, keeping up with traffic, uphill into a headwind. One of the best memories was on I-70.  I'm flat out redlined, laying down on the tank, going downhill.  At the bottom of the hill, there was a highway patrolman.  I sat up, never let off the throttle and waved - I was turning 10,000 RPM and making 74MPH.  He looked at me, looked at his radar gun and just shook his head.  I can only imagine what he was thinking!

Colby at Sunset was gorgeous - unfortunately no good photos.  Abiline was a fantastic town and I can't wait to go back and explore more.

After Colby, I turned South to Sublette, KS then back East across US160 in the dark to Anthony KS. From there up to Wichita, over to Girrard KS and back to Overland Park by 10:20 AM on Sunday.

1040 odo miles, 23 hours should qualify for the Saddlesore, and I've been listed as a finisher on the Tour of Honor site. Now, what to do next weekend?

A few photos:

Loaded up for the start. Fieldsheer Eiffel tank bag, Tourmaster Cortech tailbag. Beadrider seat beads.

Loaded up and ready to go. by kcsporttour, on Flickr

Exactly 2,000 miles at the start of the ride:

Rolled over 2,000 miles at the start of the SS1K by kcsporttour, on Flickr

M65 Atomic Cannon over Ft. Riley, KS

2013_284_M65 Cannon at Ft Riley 2 by kcsporttour, on Flickr

On I-70 Westbound:

Road Shots are Fun by kcsporttour, on Flickr

Buffalo Bill Statue near Oakley, KS by kcsporttour, on Flickr

2013_284_Anthony KS 1 by kcsporttour, on Flickr

Really cool helicopter in Girard, KS.

2013_284 Girard by kcsporttour, on Flickr

1040 miles later, back in Overland Park, KS

Final milage - 1040 miles, 23 hours and 1 minute. by kcsporttour, on Flickr

The Map:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sharp Aquos Crystal First Impressions

As part of the Sprint Product Ambassador team, I have the opportunity to try out new phones from time to time and blog about them.  Usually it's something new and cutting edge - this time though, it's the Sharp Aquos Crystal.  Quietly released by Sprint in October, this interesting handset design from a non-typical Android company is a pleasant surprise.

With a 5" bezel-less screen running 720p resolution, the phone is a full size midrange value.  The Aquos has a very clean, excutive appearance, free from extraneous branding.  From looking at it, you would think 'Seiko', not 'Sharp'.

What's in the box?  The usual phone and charger - a basic 800ma brick, suitable for your phone, but not reusable for tablets or other big battery devices.  No headphones are included.

The Aquos has a removable back panel for access to the SIM card (included) and a MicroSD slot capable of supporting up to 128GB chips, but unusually, a fixed 2040mA battery. The back panel has a fine pebbled texture for improved feel and grip.

Once it's activated, we'll test out the Harman Kardon sound and patented Clari-Fi™ technology. Sharp (or Harman) claims that the Clari-Fi technology restores compressed digital music to "its full glory for crisper, wider and more dynamic audio through your headphones or accessories."   We'll see how that works out with standard lossy MP3 files -- I should still have some low-bit rate 128 files somewhere . . .

The Aquos supports the latest LTE band aggregation (Sprint Spark) so it should offer great download speeds and long battery life in upgraded Sprint markets.  With Bluetooth 4.0, it should also provide great connections to both my calling headset (Plantronics Voyager) and my music headset (Moto Buds).

For calls, the Aquos uses a 'Direct Wave Receiver' - since it has no bezel, it has no where to put the typical speaker for the handset.  Essentially, it vibrates the entire display area for calls.  Early reports show a less than stellar sound quality, but I'll mostly be using a bluetooth headset, so not a huge factor for me.

Wrapping up the first look at the handset, you'll find the USB port on the bottom, with the volume rocker on the left side.  On top is both the 3.5mm headset jack and power button.

“Disclaimer: The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond in an official capacity. #sprintemployee.”