Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Discussion of Distance Versus Value

Distance of an average Saturday afternoon ride: 100 miles

Distance traveled so far on this trip: 43 miles

Distance to destination: 7 miles

Distance from last town: 5 miles

Distance son has until empty: 0 miles

Distance I will get out of this picture: Endless


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another Secret -- Turning 50

Another great one I found on PostSecret.  I don't wish I had turned 50 years ago,  but I do agree it is very liberating.  It is a point where you are sure of who you are and know what you want to do -- and you do it.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Holy Cow Batman, This Stuff Works!

After I completed the Bikers for Boobs ride, I was heading home and on the main road that turns onto my street. Recently the main road had been chip and sealed; a process where liquid tar is applied to the road and then covered with loose gravel. The bad part about this is that a lot of the gravel is loose and as cars go by it flies off to the side of the road. For spots where a street intersects with the road that has been chip and sealed, the loose gravel tends to pile up across the street. This means that in order to turn from the main road onto the street you end up crossing a ribbon of gravel.

When I turned onto my street that day I noticed that there was more gravel on that ribbon than there had been previously. However, it was too late for me to reduce my speed further or to avoid that particular place. Therefore, when my front wheel hit that gravel the wheel lost his traction and started to slide sideways causing the bike to fall to the right.

I used the techniques I learned in safety class to try to recover from this and did manage to right the bike just as the back wheel hit the same ribbon of gravel, which threw the bike down on its left side. I could not recover that. Once I was on the ground, I was immediately able to get right back up and I turned off my still running. I felt pain on my left knee, but my jeans were not torn and there was no blood coming from it. My left hip was also sore, but again my jeans had not torn. When I inspected my hip and knee later, I thoroughly expected to have some serious bruises but I had none at all.

My son was pulling out of that same road and saw what had happened. He came over and was very upset because it scared him when he saw me go down. He helped me pick up the bike and I got back on it and rode it the rest of the way home. When we talked later, he told me how scared he had been and I told him that everything that we had done as a precaution had worked:

Gloves: The leather palms prevented my hands from being scraped up, when I instinctively reached out during the fall.

Cordova Jacket: Protected my shoulder and elbows when they hit the ground from getting a severe road rash.

Jeans: Protected my knee and hip when they hit the ground.

Crash Bar: This kept the bike from falling flat on my leg, which might have trapped it, or caused the exhaust pipes to burn me.

Helmet: I do not recall my head hitting the ground, but it must have based on the scratches that were on the helmet after the fact. If I had my head hit versus my helmet, I am sure I probably would have had at least a mild concussion and probably some good lacerations.

Boots: The boots protected my ankles when they were caught between the bike and the ground. I don't think I would've broken the ankle, but I probably would've sprained it.

As far as the bike went, the damage was really somewhat limited because of the highway pegs and the crash bar; these prevented the bike from hitting the ground except at the outmost contact points. The peg was scratched and had to be readjusted, but it was not bent. There were no marks on the crash bar. The cowling molding suffered some minor tearing, but nothing very drastic and one of the rear reflectors was cracked and would need to be replaced.

As falls go this one was not too bad on the bike or me. What it did do was prove to me that all the safety precautions that I take every single time I ride work.

Aside from the gravel, there were two other factors at play here, which might have contributed to what happened. As I said in my prior entry about my ride home, the weather was hot and I was dehydrated and overheated. I probably should've stopped at some point on the ride back and gotten some water before continuing home. I'll know better next time. Those factors might have slowed my reaction time.

I did write a letter to the mayor about this chip and seal process and what a dangerous condition it leaves for motorcycles. She actually contacted the road engineer who came out and cleaned up all the loose gravel that formed the strips across all the streets off the main road. That fixes the problem this time.

I hate gravel.


Friday, July 23, 2010

I Blame It On Raquel Welch & Her "One Million Years BC" Bikini

Can you find me in the crowd? (Hint: My eyes are closed)
I will admit that I am not a breast man. I have an appreciation for gorgeous eyes, sexy smiles, nice legs, shapely ass, wonderful curves, well -- -- more the whole package than just the breasts. However, I am opposed to anything that harms  -- so I am opposed to breast cancer. So, when I found out about a ride called Bikers for Boobs I was immediately interested.

When I got up on the morning of the ride and went outside to look at the weather it was raining. So, I fixed myself another cup of coffee and watched the news. Since the starting point for this ride was almost 40 miles away, I had to leave by a specific time in order to make the start of the ride. When that time came, I went and looked again. The rain had stopped, and the skies had cleared. Seeing that as a good omen, I mounted the bike and headed east.

The ride over was uneventful, in fact the highway was more or less deserted but it being early on a Saturday morning I guess I was not too surprised. With the sun shining in a dry road under me, I enjoyed every minute of it, even if I was on an interstate.

Once I found Backdraft Custom Cycle, that was sponsoring the ride, I pulled in and parked. This ride was going to be a lot different from the last one I had gone on. For one, there was a wider variety of motorcycles than just Harleys. There were several trikes, CanAm, and some Gold Wings. As usual, I was the only Silverwing in the crowd.

I signed in and then wandered around among the bikes out front. I did come across one fellow who was riding with the sidecar for his dog. He said the dog seemed to like it. The dog had his own harness that attached the seat belt in the sidecar that kept him from jumping out. I probably would need something similar for MacBeth.

The ride itself was somewhat nice it was through a lot of farm communities and a couple small towns. Mostly people waved as we rode past, from what I understand were about 100 bikes on the ride so we probably made a bit of noise on a quiet Saturday afternoon. It was still kind of fun rolling hills a few good curves and most of all nice weather. We did not really go too far and ended in a campground was holding something called Thunder on the Grand.

The only part of Thunder on the Grand I really saw was the vendor tents along the dirt road. I did buy keychain for the Silverwing and a T-shirt but that was about all. I did see some interesting saddles and some woodcarvings done with a chainsaw.

I ate a quick lunch of grilled chicken and a hot dog before mounting up and running home.

The ride home was uneventful but it was extremely warm. The sun seemed to be down right on me as I rode along and unless I was moving, I quickly found myself with sweat running down into my eyes.

Overall, the ride was a good day, until the last 25 or so yards on the way home when the bike slid out from underneath me. But that is another blog entry.

Post Script: I have worn my Bikers for Boobs T-shirt a few times since the ride.  I seem to get the most comments from young women -- and they are all very positive about the message and the cause.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Buff, Buff Here. A Buff, Buff There.

When I got my first car I was like every other teenage boy. Even though it was a rustbucket and had serious mechanical issues I saw fit to add every piece of chrome and useless piece of fluff that I could find. When the transmission finally gave out, I figured I had spent three times the pruchase price of the car in add-ons.

I was determined not to do that with the bike I had bought to learn on. Of course I was going to allow myself to go completely crazy when I got my real bike later. However, there are some things that needed to be done and since they needed to be done there was no reason why they could not be done with a bit of flair.

This is what add-ons I have from the bike that's far:

Stereo System. I had this in mind from the minute I bought the bike. Once I figured out that a marine radio would work as well as a motorcycle radio for a lot less money I found one rather quickly. Once I got the unit in, I realized that the cover that came with it was too large for the console housing and also the speakers that came with it were also too large to fit. So I sold both of those items and bought a smaller set of speakers. In the end the radio with speakers cost less than $15. Source: eBay

Lucite Windshield. This was nowhere in my original game plan for this motorcycle. Then the first time I rode the bike towards the sunset the entire windshield frosted out due to the numerous scratches and glare -- this was a safety issue. Source: eBay

Driver Peg Rubber. Another safety issue since the ones that were on there were torn and my boot got caught on them quite often. Source: Biker Bandits

Kuryakin Highway Pegs. This was not my original game plan either, but I had no choice when I went out one morning to adjust the original pegs and had one of them break off in my hand. Since I use highway pegs for a lot of my riding this was necessity. Source: Crowe's Custom Cycle

GPS Mount. This was an inexpensive mount that allowed me to put my Tom Tom on the handlebars so I could use it while riding. The one I got was a lot cheaper than the one that Tom Tom sells. Source: Express Mounts

Vista Cruise Cruise Control. There was one on the bike when I bought it, but it broke. Since I liked having my right hand free from time to time while riding I got a new one. Source: California Cruising

Battery. I quickly found that it took more than two tries to start the bike, the battery would be dead. So, rather than trying to fight with it I bought a new one. Because the new battery was an AGM I was able to get rid of the battery acid drain tube which was a good thing. Source: Batteries Plus

Mirrors. After buying the bike I noticed that one of the mirrors was extremely loose and would not stay in adjustment. After I made several attempts at tightening it I gave up and bought a new set. Source: eBay

Lighter & Electrical Wires. Since I was going to use a GPS I would need a way to charge it, so I replaced the nonworking cigarette lighter. I also needed various electrical wiring to install the stereo. Source: Auto Zone

Tools. I suddenly found myself pulling off various nuts and bolts, tightening things down, and changing stuff. I quickly realized I needed a set of tools that were metric. Since I'm not a pure mechanic, I bought some inexpensive ones. Source: Target

Finally, after I added all of that I had the bike detailed to get rid of the years of neglect. She's gorgeous.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Theories of Time, Space, & Distance

It all started when I was standing on the front porch staring at the yard -- contemplating things. The weather was clear, the sun was shining, the heat had not really gotten unbearable yet, and there was the smell of science in the air. With only a 20% chance of afternoon thundershowers, the time was right to walk from where I was to the Deck in the back of the house where I could consider life's mysteries while sitting in a chair,  perhaps while sipping a nice cool drink.

As I walked past the garage, I noticed the SilverWing and Shadow sitting there and decided that riding a motorcycle might be a better than walking all the way around the house. I called my son to join me and then we mounted up. I programmed the longitude and latitude of the Deck’s location into the GPS and at 0830 we took off down the driveway.

We rode East first, going towards Hastings. Not sure how or why I picked East since the Deck is on the West side of the house, but hey you have to be willing to take the risks to further science. When we arrived in Hastings, I thought better of this particular routing and headed off towards Ferrysburg, which was at least West of where we were. We stopped along the way for gas and water since the temperature had started to rise.

When we left Ferrysburg, we headed South. It just seemed like a smart direction to go in and the GPS at this point was getting more and more confused – must have been some kind of magnetic vortex, so we turned it off. We stopped in South Haven at The Idler and had lunch—sitting at the exact same table where Albert Einstein once sat as he pondered his theories. We felt the flash of inspiration and developed our own theory about what to do next. We mounted up and went South to Benton Harbor. Why? Because my son wanted to buy a new riding jacket and he once saw one there on sale.  Since he is my son and a relative – this became our Theory of Relativity.

From Benton Harbor we headed North, a direction that we had not traveled in thus far. Since we came from that direction moments before it was kind of boring, so we turned the GPS back on and then followed its instructions to go East. This made no sense to me at all since I knew the Deck was on the West side of the house, but the GPS was pretty insistent…at some point we had to start trusting technology. Rather than going on the Interstate we took the Blue Highway along side of it and waved at folks as we passed through their towns.

After another 70 miles or so we found ourselves back in the drive way but this time the bikes were pointed West, which seemed to be the right direction. We dismounted and continued traveling West until at last we found the Deck. It took only 9 hours to get there but we made it. I opened an ice cold beer and took a long drink as I wondered how the distance between the front porch and the deck could possibly be 270 miles – some things man is just not meant to know.

What the hell, it was a good ride, even if it ain't good science.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Let's Have a Look at the Tot Board Please...

A lot of my plan for riding is based on miles and time.  The calendar will always track the time but only the odometer will track the miles.

So,  the score for the SilverWing:  1134 Miles

For the Shadow: 318 miles.

Nice start,  but there are a lot more miles ahead this summer.