Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Have I Got a Plan for That!

With most things I want to do in my life, I develop it into a plan and then work the plan. At this point in my life, I am a little too set in my ways to stop now.  So, I've given my riding familiarization and training plan a great deal of thought.  Here is how I see it:

Stage 1:  I will start by first riding around my own subdivision and the one right next to mine. Due to the number of curves and low traffic I should get some familiarization with how the bike feels, stopping and starting, and shifting without endangering myself or anyone else.

Stage 2:  I will expand my riding area to include the subdivision on the opposite side of mine. The subdivision is a little bigger, has several streets with stop signs, and a little more traffic. This will also help with familiarization on the feel of the bike as well as stopping and starting at actual intersections. Also, there are a few dogs and other small hazards that I know I will have to deal with there but again because the speed is slower I should be able to learn these things rather than learning by way of an accident.

Stage 3:   I will expand my riding area to include not only the three subdivisions, but also a small two-lane country highway that surrounds all three of them and also has a stoplight, a section of busier suburban street, and a hairpin turn. That turn has been in my mind since I started this, because it is a great learning opportunity:  it is on a small two-lane country highway and I do not have to take it at high speeds to avoid blocking other traffic or because I do not have sufficient time to slow down prior to reaching it.

Stage 4:   I will again  expand the riding area to include about 3 miles of busier semi commercial road. This includes several small businesses, gas stations, and fast food joints. The benefit of this section of road is that there is a complete square of it that includes four stoplights, a small section of road with curves, two sections of merging lanes, and two overpasses. The traffic when I will be doing this is not too heavy so it will allow me to take it slower and be careful.

Stage 5:  I return to the site of my motorcycle safety class and run through all the exercises that we did in the class. I would use a two-lane country highway to get there and city streets to return home. It's a pretty straight shot to and from so it should not be too difficult.

Stage 6:   This is where things get a little more interesting. I live a few miles from a freeway entrance, once I enter the highway I can travel for approximately 2 miles until I hit the next exit. That exit can be used to do a West Coast turnaround across an overpass and come back down onto the highway going the opposite direction and will take you to an exit that is directly opposite from the starting point. In other words a perfect square that allows me to practice getting on the highway twice and exiting from the highway twice. I actually used this when my son was learning how to drive and we did it many times over and over again until he lost his fear of merging.

Stage 7:   I intend to ride the motorcycle to and from my job. Not to go to work but just to get used to the route. The route itself has some two-lane country highway, suburban neighborhoods, a four-lane penetrator, numerous lights, railroad tracks, a high steep overpass that goes over another set of railroad tracks, and downtown two-lane traffic. A lot of obstacles but nothing I should not be able to handle by this point.

Stage 8:  I will do a 25 mile ride from here to the next largest city, eat a celebratory lunch, and return.

Stage 9:  I consider this my graduation march: I will choose one of the top 10 rides in Michigan and ride it.

You will notice that there are no dates or limits to each stage. I will have to evaluate each one to determine whether I am ready to go onto the next were not. I do not intend to get out of any one of them in under three days. It's hell being patient.

There are a few target dates that I do have: I want to participate in the Ride to Work Day on 21st of June, I want to do endurance ride by the end of summer with my son (700 miles in two days), and I would like to participate in some of the poker runs that happen locally. By fall, I would like to have completed five of the top 10 rides in Michigan.

Now back to the search for my first bike to do all this with...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lessons In Basic Math & Other Fun At The Motorcycle Swap Meet

So, one bright Sunday morning I went to the motorcycle swap meet. I really wasn't sure what I would find there because never been to one before. I was hoping to see some motorcycles that were for sale so I could familiarize myself with different models and what they looked like. What I found was mostly parts and apparel. I did find a stand selling Harley T-shirts for the low price of $10 each or two for $15. So, I grabbed one for me and one for my son. The transaction went like this:

Handing him two T-shirts and A $20 bill, I said "Here, I'll take these two."

Seller Dude #1 said "Oh, okay" he picked up the sign that said $10 for one, $15 for two, then put it back down. He counted the two shirts I had given him then turned to Seller Dude #2. "Hey I need change for this guy."

Seller Dude #2 looked up and said "What do you need?"

Seller Dude #1 counted the two shirts again and said "I need a $10 bill." With this, Seller Dude #2 hands him a $10 bill that Seller Dude #1 hands to me. He says "There you go man, thanks."

"Um, this is too much back" I said, being honest "I got two shirts you only owe me just $5." I then handed him back the $10 bill

Seller Dude #1 picked up the sign and looked at it again. He thought for a moment then said "Oh, you're right." then he turned to Seller Dude #2 "Dude, I need a $5 bill not this, he got two shirts." Seller Dude #1 hands #2 the $10 bill and the two shirts.

Seller Dude #2 then hand Seller Dude #1 back the two shirts, and motions for him to hand them to me, which he does. "Um, I don't have a 5, do you have anything smaller?" I handed Seller Dude #1 a $5 bill making a total that I had given him $25, he hands this to Seller Dude #2 and takes the $10 bill back from him.

Seller Dude #1 smiles at me and says "Here ya go" and hands me the $10 bill and my original $20 bill. At this point I am $5 and two T-shirts ahead.

"Uh, tell you what, let's do this instead." I said, trying to be helpful without being condescending. I hand the $20 bill to Seller Dude #2, and motion for him to give me back the $5 bill -- which he does. "There, now everything is right."

Seller Dude #2 seems forward and points at Seller Dude #1 then says to me in a low voice. "He's not real good at math but I needed some help."

"Uh huh." I said "See you later."

I walked around the whole show twice, kind of disappointed, and then on my way out I looked over at that same T-shirt booth to see an older gentleman slapping Seller Dude #2 on the back of the head saying something about the T-shirts were supposed to be $15 each and $25 for two. That would've led to even more math fun for Seller Dude #1.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Still Too Damn Cold To Hit It On Two Wheels

Even though we have not gotten our usual dumping of snow this year, it bypassed us for the East Coast, it is still cold, wet, and icy. However, bikes have started to reappear for sale in anticipation of spring and I have started to peruse them again -- -- even though it'll be a least a couple weeks before I can test ride anything. While looking through the listings I came across this Goldwing complete with sidecar.

One of the first thoughts I had was that MacBeth could now go riding with me. Unfortunately, I think this one would be too shallow and he would be tempted to jump out when I stopped. I think if I could come up with one of the old-fashioned ones that was deeper and only had a body sized hole to crawl into MacBeth might like that okay, as he could lay down and snooze as we cruise down the highway.

I have seen a few nice Silverwings among the listings, but nothing to make me willing to brave subzero windchills just to perform a test ride. At least the inventory of good used bikes appears to be on the up tick, of course so are the prices.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

So, How Am I Doing?

Time for a status report

So, how high been doing all my projects and goals for myself? Overall, it could be better but I give myself a little leeway because I like me.

Weight Loss: D

I've actually lost only 5 pounds. Kind of depressing. But, during my most recent trip I was able to really motivate myself to get out of the sugar habit and into eating right. Also cut out a lot of carbs we will see how we're doing when I get back home in a few days.

Physical Fitness: B

I have actually been doing pretty well at this. I have been doing my Wii Fit Plus every night since I started. Before I left on this trip I was doing a full 45 minutes of yoga, aerobics, and basic calisthenics. So why the B? By now I hope to add some treadmill and free weights as well and I just haven't been motivated enough to do it.

Free Masonry: C

I have been doing some studying, but I need to do a lot more. Now that some of my other educational requirements are out of the way I should have more time.

Education: A-

It was a slow start. But in the past five days alone I've completed another governmental graduate-level class and a course in business research methodology for my civilian graduate degree. So, I'm thinking I rock this one.

My average is a C. But, it is on the way up and I feel pretty good about that. Overall I feel fairly positive about all my goals and the ability to meet them before spring rears its head. I just have to keep my head down and keep working. That was basically how I completed all the work that I did in the past week. Of course, I seldom did anything that wasn't education related for the past five days. Kind of boring, kind of mindnumbing, but I did do well and I accomplished a lot.


Monday, March 1, 2010

50 Greatest Motorcycle Riding Tunes

50 of the greatest tunes to listen to as you cruise down the road on two wheels:

Running on Empty - Jackson Browne

Stuck In The Middle With You - Stealers Wheel

Roll Me Away - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Higher Ground - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Call Me the Breeze - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Click Click Boom - Saliva

This Life - Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers

La Grange - ZZ Top

We Gotta Get Out of This Place - The Animals

Toccata - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi

Bad Company - Bad Company

Highway In the Wind - Arlo Guthrie

The Weight - The Band

The Joker - Steve Miller Band

Ramblin' Man - The Allman Brothers Band

Born to Be Wild - Steppenwolf

Born In The USA - Bruce Springsteen

Hotel California - The Eagles

Midnight Rider - Gregg Allman

Rockin' Down The Highway - Doobie Brothers

Ghost Riders In The Sky - Spiderbait

Freedom 90 - George Michaels

Flirtin' With Disaster - Molly Hatchet

Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett

Forgiveness Won't Find Me  - Iron Cowgirl Missy

Riders On the Storm - The Doors

Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller Band

Bad Things (Club Mix) - Jace Everett

The Midnight Special - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Rebel Yell - Billy Idol

Spirit in the Sky - Doctor & The Medics

Touch of Gray - Grateful Dead

Ohio (Come Back to Texas) - Bowling for Soup

Willin' - Little Feat

Keep On Trying - Poco

Slow Ride - Foghat

Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd

A Little Less Conversation [JXL Radio Edit Remix] - Elvis Presley

All Right Now - Free

Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Smooth - Santana

Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones

Magic Carpet Ride - Steppin Wolf

Something Beautiful - Robbie Williams

Jessica (Single Version) - The Allman Brothers Band

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

Layla - Eric Clapton

Runaway - Del Shannon

The Motorcycle Song - Arlo Guthrie