Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Cross Country Log - Day 3

This was likely the most mentally freeing day of the trip. The plains. Growing up in Illinois and living in the Midwest a total of roughly 30 years is not sufficient preparation for life in the desert southwest. The past twelve years here in Las Vegas has been fraught with inner turmoil and a definite loathing of the desert.

That first moment on the eastern edge of Denver, Rocky Mountains growing ever more distant, was sublime. I stopped in Aurora, Colorado for a lunch time rest and celebratory Red Bull. Looking at the mountains, merely bumps on the western horizon, my eyes became misty; not for what was behind, but for what was ahead.

Plus… It was warm and dry and I could finally feel my toes again.

Eagle, Colorado to St. Francis, Kansas
Beautiful - FREE!!!

--Written in the margin...
The more complex we make things, the more things there are to break.
Brenda (my ex-wife) is suggesting that I don't go to the East Coast. Stay in Illinois, then come back.

First pen left in Pizza Hut.
Second pen bad.
Finally found third.
Thunderstorm to the North East. It plays with the earth and my soul; beautiful lightning.

OK, so woke up about six AM and it was completely dark. Went to bathroom and walked around the campground with the hope of getting warm. As soon as it was light enough I broke camp.

This is where the electrical gremlin started showing itself. Camera batteries were dead. So were my spares, so no camp pics. ok.

I ride a few miles into town to get gas. I notice the GPS was powered off. I turn it on and ride 100 yards to a restaurant. It is off again. I turn it on & leave it. Have a great gravy and rolls breakfast. (I think I meant gravy & biscuits). Check the GPS, still OK. Get batteries for camera, take a few pics & head out. (Pic below is of the restaurant where I ate breakfast.)

At my first stop it is still cold but bike is running fine. GPS is off again. I turn it back on.

I ride another 40 miles or so & bike seems to be loosing power. Running fine but weak.

At the next stop I notice a hot electric plastic smell. SHIT! I pull my quick disconnect plug from the power harness I built for the GPS and radio, then removed the fuse. The smell left. I am not sure what was getting hot but that was the end of the tracker.

Riding up and down hills was disorienting. Up sometimes seemed down and down seemed up. The mountains and trees were gorgeous but confounding to my senses.

The bike is running poorly even on real downhills. I can only get 60 MPH at times.

Up hills had to be taken in third at times. The I see why... "10,000 feet elevation!"BINGO! Too rich! I lean out the low jet and it helped a tremendous amount. The plugs may be fouled a bit, but she is definitely running better.

Going through a tunnel on I70 just West of Denver, I see another ADV Rider. I believe he was on a Dakar. He waved his foot and was gone. I wonder if he saw my stickers?

I felt sorry for my bike now, going through downtown Denver. Traffic was not as bad as Vegas but a lot of twists & turns. I knew it would be over soon. After Denver, I36 was beautiful - 2 lanes - fields - almost cried.
(Here was my stop just before getting on I36. Far off in the distance are the Rockies.)

Then, on my last 50 miles was running out of gas. Not many towns on that road in Colorado.

(Cope, Colorado. How apropos.)

Got lucky and found an automated CO-OP gas station. "It's here, or I go to the Lyons Club hall & start asking if I can buy any gas."

I swipe my PayPal debit card. Cross my fingers. If that don't fork, I have a credit card with like $10 and my ban's debit card. Don't want to use my bank's card at all - might make things bounce.

AHHHHH "Proceed Pumping on #3" I don't think I was so happy to smell gasoline.








50 miles down the road and I was in Saint Francis, Kansas!

Wonderful little town. Clean. Friendly. Still about an hour and a half before sundown so I check out the free city campground and eat pizza @ Pizza Hut. MMmmmmm

And here I am. Fire is slowly dying. Thunderstorm still waving at me in the distance. Light wind blowing & it is 9:30.

I can see the Milky Way...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My New Laptop!

I just wanted to make a little recommendation to anyone out there who needs an ultra-portable laptop. If you ride a motorcycle and need a little computer for on the road, this just might do it.

The Acer Aspire One. This is one seriously small computer. Measuring in at only 9.8 inches across by 6.7 inches deep by a little over an inch tall, and weighing in at only about two pounds, it is easy to dismiss as a cool toy, reminiscent of the Cybiko.

But this is no toy. The one I bought has 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. The OS? No Vista here! Windows XP Home edition. It has built in 802.11g wireless networking, RJ11 socket for ethernet, three USB sockets, external socket for a monitor, mic and headphone jack, an SD Card socket and finally a multi-socket that will read SD cards and quite a few other things.

Oh. And mine is blue.

But they don't all come in one flavor. There are many different configurations for this laptop. Some have solid state hard drives (i.e. no spinning disk and quieter but less storage), more or less RAM, different processor speeds, and for those Linux lovers, several flavors come installed with Linpus Linux! I have read that installing other flavors of Linux on this machine is no problem at all.

Since this is such a small, inexpensive and simple unit, there is even a growing community of hardware hackers for this PC, doing things like home control, touch screen, media system control, security... and on and on...

The drawbacks... No CD or DVD drive, smaller screen size, and the speakers pretty much suck.

For $350, not a bad deal.

So, if you are looking for a little, rugged, inexpensive, powerful laptop to throw in your saddle bag or backpack, you might want to give this one a look.

PK, coming up, my notes from Day 3 of my trip - Eagle, Colorado to St. Francis, Kansas. Ahhh!!! The plaines!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Cross Country Log - Day 2

During most of my trip, I would end the day with a little time writing in my journal. Day number two was not one of those days. The day, in and of itself, was fantastic. The ride started with the stark beauty of the desert, moved into the wonderful splendor of the Rocky Mountains and ended with a wet, hypothermic thud. Day two was one of the most photogenic of the entire trip. Unfortunately my camera gremlin started to act up after getting into Colorado. But I am getting ahead of myself.

This entry was actually written the morning of Day 3.
-------------------------
Cedar City, Utah to Eagle, Colorado
Camp - Horrid cold $30

Cat shit and chocolate smell while leaving Cedar City. Ate hotel breakfast & took bagel, apple & banana.

I knew this would be a long day - nearly 500 miles - well, I was close.

Everything put back on the bike, tracker checked out, I was off.

The run up I15 to I70 was fairly uneventful and traffic was quite light.

Getting on I70 was the same. Riding was fairly simple - cruise at about 70 MPH & follow the road.

There is a long stretch of road with no services just East of Green River, Utah. Just before the stretch is a small town with service stations. I pull over to gas up & a couple on a Kawasaki (some large cruiser) were having difficulty with their security fob. Couldn't even turn the switch. He walks into town to get a new battery for the fob & I chat with his wife for a bit. After a while I head into town to check on the husband. They are from LA (Los Angeles) and going to Mount Rushmore. He found a battery and I was on my way.I think I caught a gremlin from them.

I like the simplicity of my Rebel. No fob to break. No computer.
At first, Colorado was a simple ride. Then became hilly, mountainous and very twisty.

Held my own for a bit & started to become tired after about 400 miles.

I stop at a small town with hot spring spas and thought, "I should get off at the next campground." I should have.

Before this, the riding was a lot of curves & up and down slopes. Fun for a while but quickly tiring. As I saw the camp sign I thought, "just one more." I shouldn't have.

The next campground was roughly 40 miles away in Eagle, Colorado. As soon as I passed that first campground sign, the rode became worse. In and out of tunnells, up and down and curving to follow the river. Then, about 2o miles into this last leg, it became quite cold. The road was drenched from a previous rain I had to be very careful.

Then I saw the "Camp" sign in Eagle. I pull over, plop down $30 for a camping spot & in the dark with a flashlight in my mouth, a light, very cold misty rain falling, I put up the tent. That must have looked crazy.

Camp rules - No Fires... BLEK!

The night must have been 40F or so. I was so cold I slept in boots, two pants, three t-shirts, hoodie, riding jacket, two blankets and my emergency mylar blanket. I finaly fell into a fitful sleep at about two AM.

(Not sure when I wrote this... Grammar isn't wonderful so I think it was actually penned that night.)
Up. 1 AM went to bathroom. It was warm. I had to think long and hard about just sleeping there. For the first time in a long time I was scared. What the HELL am I doing here? What did I get myself into? I am in a tent in Colorado, it's 40 degrees out & I feel like I am freezing!!! WHAT!?

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Cross Country Log - Day 1

While cleaning up the living room, the notebook where I recorded my ride log was finally located. There is some bad grammar and strange thoughts throughout. Looking at it from the vantage point of today, much of it makes sense, whereas when it was penned, it seemed like only so much gibberish at times. 5,800 on a motorcycle trip does something to a person.

So, with pictures interspersed throughout, here is my ride log. Some grammar and spelling errors will be corrected but for the most part left as-is to keep my basic frame of mind intact. Italicized items are additions made to clarify something that may may not be clear, like dates and names.. Here we go...
------------------------------
Day 1 - Vegas to Cedar City, UT (September 26, 2008)
Hotel - Nice, about $50
Didn't eat out, had trail mix from my ex-wife.

Ride was hectic, about 100 miles in Vegas doing errands.
  • Went to DMV to renew my bike's registration. My number was nearly 100 more than the current number, so I attempted to use the automated kiosk. SHAZAM! Worked like a charm.
  • Rode over to see Brianna (my daughter) before I left. There was an auto show going on in downtown Henderson and all streets were blocked off. I managed to get close to where she works and walked the rest. They were BUSY! She works at Lenny's Sub Shop. We exchanged goodbyes.
  • I rode over to pay the rent which unfortunately is on the other side of town.
  • Then, on the way out, stopped at the bank and got $200 in travelers checks and $100 in cash. That is all I could safely take without possibly causing issues with the account.
Traffic was horrible. Now I truly know the meaning of 'road warrior.' Even after Mesquite, traffic was nasty. Weaving in and out of mountain gorges with no shoulder to speak of, with vehicles ten times my bike's weight is not a lot of fun.

After passing through St. George (Utah), I passed the Walmart distribution center that Dave and Heidi (folks from where I work) mentioned. My goal was to make Parawan before nightfall. There was just no way.

Before Cedar City I stopped and put on my clear visor. It was getting dark rather quickly.

I was hesitant to do any guerrilla camping when I can't even see where I am going, so decided to hotel it the first night.

It was nothing spectacular. With all of my adrenalin, it was hard to sleep but got about six hours.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

High Flight


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

One of my favorite poems. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, all!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Newton...

Once an arrow leaves the bow
it cannot be recalled.

Thought for Monday morning...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Think you can't do something???


I stumbled upon this blog while looking for aircraft photos. If there are any topics with more photos on the internet, it could only be porn and sports. There are literally tens of millions of aircraft photos out there. And for some reason, I found this blog post about a Jessica Cox.

You see, at the age of 25 years old she flew an Ercoupe solo on May 11,2008. On October 10, 2008, FAA examiner Terry Brandt Gave her the official thumbs-up after her check ride. Jessica earned her Sport Pilot license. That singular achievement, while noteworthy in any life, is in and of itself, not a tremendous milestone. Almost anyone with enough determination can earn their wings.

What is so special about Jessica? I will let you in on a little secret. She has no arms. Born without them she learned to do what was necessary. On May 11, 2008 on a field near San Manuel, Arizona this driven woman made her dream of flight come true.

Fly safe Jessica, and keep the shiny side up! Whether you know it, or like it, you are indeed an inspiration.

Photo from Able Flight.

Snow in Vegas!!!

The worst winter storm since the 1970's! And I have some pictures! These were all taken at night with the low-light setting on my Sony Cybershot digital camera. Enjoy! I know I did!


Here is Brianna clowning around in the snow. See the snow on the palm trees in the background?

My ex-wife and daughter. Yes, snow is fun!

Bri and my adventurous self.

More snowy pics to come!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Warranty - Denied!

Well, the folks at Honda Motorcycle Warranty have responded with a resounding denied. Apparently they take exception to me doing my own work. My decision to work on my bike, with the assistance of professionals on the internet and the factory manual, apparently is not a good thing for Honda Warranty people.

Sorry, but the logic of this doesn't hold. If I were to be changing spark plugs and found a chunk of metal in the cylinders would they cover it? Are people with motorcycles under warranty supposed to have Honda mechanics do everything, including oil changes, to the tune of $95 per hour?

I am not done with them yet.

In all fairness, yes, I didn't bring the bike into the shop until after the warranty had expired. That not withstanding, this is a major problem that occurred before the warranty had expired, I did see a motorcycle mechanic when it was first noticed and the external symptom of this problem is extremely minor; just a little oil seepage.

Can you tell I am a bit frustrated with Honda right now?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

And now for the Warranty...

Well, my little Honda Rebel is nestled safely at Ride Now on Boulder. Surprisingly, well not really, Honda Customer Service had no record of the call I made to them last week about my engine woes. So, I call again, this time getting a name and explaining the situation.

As before, I am told that since I didn't get my bike into the shop before the warranty expired, my expectations should be tempered. Further explaining that the symptom was extremely minor and was not viewed as an urgent situation by anyone I spoke with, did not seem to sway the attitude of the customer service representative.

But, on the up-side, a 'case manager' should contact me within the next few days. We shall see how it goes.

And now for something completely different... Think SP CFI, baby. I am NOT letting my motorcycle woes keep me down!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Thanks

A special thanks goes out to the little Red Winged Blackbirds that visited my little bird feeder this weekend. You see, there aren't many of these birds in the area. They prefer wet areas over the barren desert. Of nearly five years of having a bird feeder, this is a first.

And it came at an interesting, welcome time in my life.

Oh, as a motorcycle update, here is what I found when preparing to torque up the head and cylinder bolts on my Rebel... See all of those pretty stripped threads on the end? Those aren't from a nut that can be replaced. Rather, they are from the engine casing.

Here's the crux of the problem... This likely was caused before the warranty coverage had expired. The problem was that the only symptom was a little oil seepage, first discovereed in Kansas. So, not seeing a major problem, and with the agreement of a bike mechanic, I didn't worry about it until returning back to Vegas... AFTER the coverage period was over.

So, today she goes in. Hopefully the Ride Now dealership and the folks at Honda will agree to repair it within the warranty terms. I didn't mistreat her or ever touch that bolt. I didn't do it. Just feeling some 'motorcycle blues'.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coming to a Browser Near You!

After some thinking, I have decided to open up a real motorcycle and adventuring blog/site. New articles, links and news blurbs will be posted there daily. The focus of these posts will be toward new riders, safety, travel and adventure riding. Originally it started on my website but decided to really make a go of it here on Blogger. It is not open yet, but in heavy development. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Moto Today

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Trip - Letting It All Settle In

I have received a few e-mails and comments regarding the almost complete absence of posts or pictures about my recent little motorcycle trip. The pictures have been reviewed and selected, my little Rebel is resting in the back yard. So, why isn't there more here?

Well, to be honest, the reality of the trip simply has not been absorbed and processed yet. Yet to be published blogs include titles like, "What is Home," "Viewpoint of Mundane," "The Return Melancholy" and "The Radical Path."

Times are just strange here; work is busy and evenings full. My wallet and bank account are nearing the Empty marker and there is a fork in the road coming up.

Anyway... Here is a picture of a sunset from the Outer Banks. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Masochist

Why must I be afflicted with this???

Riding past a motorcycle shop, it is hard to not look. What sales are going on? Any special events? Free goodies? Is there a Kawasaki Versys in their used inventory? A Suzuki SV650? Maybe a little Yamaha TW200 as a change of pace.

Maybe... Just maybe there is an old machine out back that just needs a little TLC. Maybe an old Honda Nighthawk with a bee's nest in the carburetor, its soul on standby.

Why is it I crane my neck anytime I see a for-sale sign near a bike? Maybe it's a good deal. Maybe the owner low-sided his BMW R1200GS and got spooked, wanting to sell it for only $500, just to get away from it.

Honestly, unless someone was giving away a motorcycle right now, I couldn't afford it. For some unknown, illogical reason, that doesn't matter. I still stop at the local dealer about once a week. I still pull over when I see a motorcycle for sale. Heck, for that matter, I still look at Craigs List once in a while.

Be it masochism, or an affliction or a slight obsession, There is nothing I would trade for it. Well, except maybe an Aprilia Shiver. Then I would think about it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nature Photos - Oh Yes!

I, for one am in awe of anyone who can take beautiful pictures, especially country, farm and nature photos. If you enjoy nature photography, check out April's Art Gallery. She has a wonderful talent. Please take a moment, have a look and leave her a comment. Her photos, like her, are beautiful.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The SilverMan

While out driving around and running errands today I was granted the opportunity to see something that was fantastic. That thing, or rather things, were the athletes in the SilverMan triathlon. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run.

To be honest I have never seen a live triathlon. My assumption that only the most athletic, skinny, powerful people participated in these events was quite soundly trounced.

Not only did I see people who looked to be in my state of un-athleticness, but there was a person with one leg and a person who must have been 100 pounds heavier than myself. A couple that looked to be well into their 70's. These are serious people.

Serious about pushing their own limits. Serious about the struggle. Serious about living.

A million kudos to those out there in the Las Vegas valley, swimming, biking and running this event!

Ahhh, Google Cache

Thank goodness for Google Cache. Several weeks ago I was searching for a post that I accidentally deleted from a motorcycle travel forum and had minimal luck. BUT, a good friend told me about a good method to use and there it was.

To others, finding deleted posts are much more important. Sometimes the user deletes a post, then has an 'Oh Crap' moment. Other times, websites completely go down. Then there are the un-auspicious times when a website owner and/or operator goes rogue and deletes peoples' posts.

Enter the world of Google Cache. Google caches the forums it indexes. Say, you Google something like advrider.com +VegasRider You will get only five results. Well, at the bottom of the page is a link to "...repeat the search with the omitted results included." Click on that and there are more than five pages of posts. Do you see the little links labeled "Cache"? Those are the golden links for people wanting to get at stuff that is no longer openly available.

Even if advrider.com is not available, the post is still in the cache.

So, it is easy. Go to www.google.com Enter the website domain name, a space, a plus sign (+) and then the username or keyword you are looking for.

Say I am looking for posts about Renthal chains for a Honda Rebel. I would enter rebel250.com +Renthal

Maybe I want to find all of my posts on the local motorcycle riding forum my2wheels. I would just search by my2wheels.com +vegasrider and click the "...repeat the search with the omitted results included" link. There they are. I can either view them on the website, of if someone deleted the post, I can look at them in the cache.

One note on this... Password Protected forums and sites are not Googled, so therefore are not cached.

And a special thanks to a good friend who pointed this out to me! Thanks!!!!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm a busy little fella.

Sorry, no motorcycle posts. She still sits in my back yard until this weekend when I can replace the chain.

--edited to remove something....--

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Sad Day for the Emotionaly and Verbaly Abused

Yes, this is a sad day. Due to the actions of the administration on www.drirene.com , I can no longer promote nor recommend that site.

Several associates of mine were banned from that site recently. I have had close friends and even family banned from sites before, but not this site. This site was special.

Last night I wrote a scathing letter to the administration of that site, but decided to do what was prudent in these situations; let it rest; think it over; step back to a distance where there is some objectivity.

I did, and decided early this morning to save my comments in the Never Sent folder on my laptop. The events of this morning on that website went far beyond what my saved comments could even touch.

You see, the operator of this site posted an email from a disgruntled site member. That is not the heinous part. You may or may not know, but people in abusive situations rely on anonymity to receive help. This is their buffer zone; their full face helmet and Kevlar, if you will.

Security, privacy and anonymity is a key aspect to an abused person asking for and receiving help. It not only provides peace of mind, but also protects the abused from the abuser, should the abuser try to stalk them. In some sad situations, this anonymity is the only thing that protects the abused from bodily harm.

Along with the e-mail, the operator posted the author's full name, private e-mail address AND referred to the author using their PRIVATE, ANONYMOUS username. Then, the operator made a remark about the author's peers seeing what she had written.

That was it for me. I wish them well, but can no longer recommend that site.

The things I write about, above, are not conjecture, word of mouth, or rumor. It is true. It is sad. I saved the pages. If you are in an abusive situation, please Google "Verbal abuse", "Emotional Abuse" or "Physical Abuse." I am currently working on a resource page to share.

Ride safe, all.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Few Pictures from my Ride

Well, I have gone through all of them and decided to post a few. I have purposely not included much commentary because I am still working on that aspect of the entire ride report. So, here are some pictures from my Vegas to Kitty Hawk and back ride, 5800 some miles, on my little 250cc Honda Rebel. Yes, she can do it!



Utah Mountains

A valley overlook in Utah.Welcome to Colorful Colorado!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Withdrawls...

There are two kinds of withdraws going through my psyche right now. The first, and likely more physical one is the lack of nicotine. As I write this, not a single cigarette has touched my lips in 38 hours. It isn't easy, but I am doing it.

Why? Well, I can save nearly $600 per year by not smoking. That's a couple sets of tires, six months of payments on my Rebel, three months payments on a Versys if I get one. Maybe a new Shoei helmet. Heck, I could also get a small, used greenhouse building for $600.

Health? Yes, that is a little concern now that I have actually found something fun to do outside here. It may sound pithy and a little odd, but if my quitting smoking at 42 years old buys me another year or two or three of motorcycle riding, the withdrawal symptoms are well worth it.

The other kind of withdrawal? It is probably the worst kind for any motorcycle rider... Riding Withdrawl. The beads of sweat, goosebumps, difficulty sleeping, twitchy shifter foot and throttle hand, inability to concentrate... They are all symptoms of Riding Withdrawal.

If all goes well, my new chain will be in my mailbox soon, and my suffering will end.

Ride safe, all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Flat Tire!

Yes, I had a flat. Not on my motorcycle or truck, but on my latest adventure.

It would seem that I started out on an adventure with old, worn, weather cracked tires. The chain was old and dry, battery unserviced for years and the twenty year old oil is OEM.

This little adventure I was unprepared for. It happens. That's OK.

I think that I shall stay with blogging for now. As for adventures, I think I will stick to the easy things like motorcycling outrageous distances on ridiculously small motorcycles, building and flying airplanes, sailing, hiking and computer programming. Easy...

Maybe for the next adventure I will be a little more prepared.

Oh, if you are curious, there are roughly 3000 new words on my computer in a folder named Luna Veil.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Next Adventure!

Well, my bank account is down near $300, my cash flow is close to negative and I need a little adventure. What to do...

Well, planning next year's ride is fun, but I need more. I crave it. I require it.

Dating and entering the whole singles scene is an adventure I would rather leave to the pros. Another bike adventure really isn't going to work with such little money, a bike that needs some TLC and a negative cash flow. Cleaning the house would indeed be an adventure, but without a Bobcat and a HazMat suit it might be dangerous.

So, what to do???

Last month I read a blog entry from an acquaintance of mine at Romance... Dyann Style and that started the synapses firing. Yes, firing a bit late, but firing none the less. In short, there was a writer's event to put down on paper (or computer, depending on your media of choice) a certain number of words. It was a little event put on by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and really seemed like something interesting.

Alas, I was in the throes of trip preparation so there was absolutely zero time available.

Now that I am back and have time and no money I will write. Hmmm...

There are quite a few story ideas in a file somewhere around here. What the hell. 30,000 words by November 30. Sounds like a cheap adventure!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's Up Next?

I was recently told by a wonderful rider, Shoganai from the ADV Riders group that the only cure for that melancholy feeling after a long ride is to immediately start planning your next one. And do you know what? It works!

So, here is my short-list. It isn't short because I have whittled a long list down. It's just short because I haven't had time to think about it much.
  • Yellowknife, Canada
  • Hermosillo, Mexico
  • Tail of the Dragon (or whatever you want to call that twisty road out east)
  • Nevada, California and Oregon portion of the Trans-America Trail.
  • Ride around Nevada on as many trails as I can.
There is one assumption here that I would like to clarify. If you are thinking, 'there is no way he would try any of those on his Rebel,' then you are mostly correct. I would try the Tail of the Dragon on the Rebel but the others would require something more trail-worthy.

So, any comments or suggestions out there? Anyone???

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joy of Simplicity

Riding 5800 miles gives one a bit of time to think about things. Mine wandered between such topics as farming, motorcycle riding, sailing, weather, hiking, camping, moving out of Nevada, my divorce, future relationships, sex (or lack thereof), family, writing, art, stupidity, friendship, and a host of other things. I distinctly remember while riding through Ohio, dirty limericks accompanied, tickling my proverbial 'funny bone.' Routinely my mind wondered, "Would Isaac Asimov like that one?"

As varied and sometimes abstract my thinking was at times, it always seemed to return to the lowest possible energy level. Something all these thoughts were built upon was simplicity, quiescence, sustainability. This transition and commonality was not noticed until Iowa. It was not a 'light bulb' moment, rather like a light gauze curtain waving aside to reveal something that could be seen but not recognized.

Why Iowa? After riding through a small town somewhere east of Shenendoah, IA I passed an Amish gentleman about my age driving a small team of horses hooked to a wagon. I waved out of respect, not expecting nor looking for one in return. Then the curtain waved aside. All thoughts and concepts are based on a foundation of simplicity and sustainability. Reaching concepts are good if they all use the same foundation of simplicity.

Days earlier, stopping in Salina, Utah I met a couple on a large Kawasaki cruiser. They were having trouble and I offered any assistance I could. Apparently the bike's security fob, a little black piece of plastic with a transmitter that allowed the bike's engine to start and run, had drained it's battery. There, at that little gas station in the Utah desert, a $14,000 motorcycle and two humans were stranded because a one dollar battery was dead.

The husband did manage to locate a battery in the small town and they were safely on their way. I looked at my own motorcycle. It is simple. No computer. No security fob. Just a few practical frills. Even if the main battery were completely dead I could push start her. Yes, she is simple. I like her that way.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

DONE! 5,836 Miles!

I am back in Las Vegas! Total mileage is 5,836 miles in 21 days. That's an average of nearly 278 miles per day. If I take into account the idle day at my Mom's in Illinois and the three days I spent in North Carolina doing nothing, that's 365 miles per day.

Not bad on a 250 cc Honda Rebel.Here I am leaving my Mom's.

As I prepared to leave Gallup, NM there was an odd sense of melancholy about. For the past nearly three weeks my life has for the most part been on my bike. It is about to be over. Back to the same life, the same job, the same simple commute.

That melancholy was quickly quieted to a mumble. Those may be the same things, but the same person is not returning to them. I had undergone a tangible change, for better or worse. This may be the same flesh and bone body returning but the soul had changed.

With that knowledge and a prescription by a great, well experienced rider to start planning my next ride upon my return, that melancholy was completely squelched. The silence on my last day was beautiful.

Honestly, there is so much to write about, I am not sure where to start. Perhaps tomorrow some words shall come.

Monday, October 06, 2008

In North Carolina!!!

Well, I made it! Almost... I have been staying at a buddy's place here in North Carolina for a few days. Tomorrow I head out to Kitty Hawk and then turn around & head back to Vegas.

Unfortunately my tracker is non-operational. BUT, I seem to have worked out my camera problems so when I am all done and recuperating in Nevada, I will get some of those posted.

And... to anyone out there who says long distance riding isn't possible with something as small as a Honda Rebel... I say 'hogwash'. It may not be ideal and it may have had a little altitude sicknes in Colorado, but she is doing well.

More later, including pictures!
-Ride safe, all!

Friday, September 26, 2008

T-Minus 0! We have launch!

I had a wonderful zero-day post all typed up and ready. I left it on my laptop at home. Ah well.

So, to keep this short and sweet, I will be maintaining a running ride report on the ADV Rider forum here: at the ADVRider site.

Posts here will likely be sporradic since I am not taking my laptop. I am not sure how well I am going to do without a computer for 3 weeks. Probably start going through the DTs this evening. :-)

Ride safe all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

T-Minus 2 Friggin' Days!!!

Holy Shit! Can I say that???

Bike has two new tires, new friction plates, new front brakes and new wind screen. All I have left to do is run an electrical connection for my radio tracker and change the oil. That's it!!!

The anticipation is almost palpable. I haven't had butterflies in my stomach like this since my first girlfriend in highschool! The anticipation; the adrenalin; the hope; it is all melding together into a great launch for a fabulous adventure.

6000 miles on a Honda Rebel CMX250C. Mechanics have told me that I will likely loose the engine before I get to Illinois. Others have told me something else on the bike will break. And others tell me it simply can't be done in three weeks.

Then there are others that give me hugs, or handshakes or the ADVRider Salute. Many other riders are envious and made me promise to take a lot of photos and not drink too much. To hear a seasoned rider tell me that he has never even attempted something like that and wished he could ride along, really makes me feel good.

This is something a good portion of the motorcycling public have never attempted. And, the group of those intrepid riders who have done this on such a small bike is even smaller. It's a good feeling!

(Brakes, luggage rack, spark plugs and windscreen are courtesy of Jacks Rebel Warehouse Thanks Jack!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

T-Minus 8 Days and Counting!!!

Honestly, the bike, my luggage and finances are almost ready. The clutch judders a little when taking off in first gear, but she is solid. The engine purrs and I feel better with a fuel filter. I am only waiting for two things; a new set of tires and front brake pads. That's it. Once those two things are taken care of, I could leave. Well, I could except for the fact that I have work.

Ah well.

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to be frustrated by clutch problems. Today it was work.

Working on a buggy hardware system that has questionable documentation in a language that is completely foreign to me is not my idea of a good work day. At least my motorcycle obeys the laws of physics.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

T-Minus 13 Days and Counting!!!


My soul is mobile again! If being without my motorcycle for two weeks is anything like death, I want to be riding in this life for a good LONG time!

I was like a concerned parent, taking her out for her first ride with the new friction plates. Mentally noting every nuance of vibration or utterance of noise for later analysis. Every jerk and stall and shifting difference inked into my brain. The cool air and blazing desert sun served as superb riding partners.

I may have been without my bike for a few weeks but I did learn a few things.
  • When getting aftermarket parts or tools, ALWAYS doublecheck what is being ordered or purchased.
  • Factory service manuals are not always correct in a clear, easy to understand fashion. Perhaps correct to the author, but maybe not so to the reader.
  • Patience is a virtue. Wait... I knew that already...
  • High pain tolerance is a virtue. I learned that after my oily hand slipped off a wrench and I smashed my pinkie finger nail.
  • Don't assume a mechanic knows his or her stuff. A good mechanic doesn't know everything; they figure it out as they go along.
  • Perseverance and trust in ones' self is always a winning combination.
Oh, did I mention that I successfully replaced the clutch friction plates and I am not a mechanic, nor have I ever even seen the insides of a motorcycle's clutch before? Like in life, it is not necessary to be an expert to succeed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Guilty Until Proven Innocent---

This is not post about motorcycle riding or domestic violence. This is a post about being assumed guilty of something, whereby it is necessary to prove one's innocence. This is not the legal system. This has nothing to do with law enforcement. This is about bill collectors and the companies that use them.

--rant on--

Last year my ex-wife and I were threatened with legal action over a hospital bill. My ex had an emergency room visit. She is covered under not one, but TWO insurance policies. This is what I don't understand... part of the bill was paid for with not even a whisper of contempt. BUT, someone messed up and didn't send part of the bill to insurance. So, we are told that the liability for over $3,000 worth of charges is OURS. Why? Because the hospital didn't bill it correctly!!! AND, it is up to US to prove that we shouldn't pay!

Several weeks ago I receive a collection notice from a hospital visit my ex-wife had five or so years ago. She was even double covered then. Why am I NOW receiving notification that someone thinks I owe them money?

It isn't just hospitals. I signed up for a cell phone plan YEARS ago. The sales person promised roaming and LD was free. Great. I make a drive to Illinois and get a bill of over $1,300!!! The company told me that the plan I had didn't offer free LD or roaming. Further, they tell me that they don't offer that plan anywhere!

I pick up a Sunday Chicago Tribune and there... a 1/2 page add from the same company advertising free LD and roaming. I call them back and refuse to pay. I tell them I want to see a copy of the contract I signed. They say it is lost but I still owe the money. I tell them that they will not see a single cent from me until they proove I owe it. They tell me that I have to proove that I don't owe it. How the hell do I do that???

Ah, phone companies. I spent 30 minutes talking to a collection company this morning about a phone bill way back in 2003 when I lived in Illinois. We were at this house only a month, yet the phone company says we were there for nearly 5. No. They don't have to prove that I owe the money. Their word is gold and true. I am the one who must prove I don't owe it. Who the hell keeps recipts through 2 moves and 4 years?

--rant off--

On the brighter side, the proper size tool is at Cycle Gear... or at least that's what I am told. They will have to prove it.

T-Minus 14 Days and Counting!

Only 14 days. Two weeks! Honestly, if my motorcycle were feeling better, I would want to just hop on and take off! It is nice and cool and clear this morning; perfect riding weather.

She looks SO forlorn in the back yard, and hasn't been on the asphalt in over two weeks. That is the longest I have gone without enjoying the open road, in more than nine months. Well, Ok. I am being a bit dramatic here. An 'open road' in Las Vegas, like a snowy winter day here, is rare.

Misery loves company. One of my bosses, well, rather a co-worker than my boss, has been hearing of my motorcycle repair woes; my clutch issues, and now the difficulty I am having in finding tires for my ride. Yesterday he tells me of his airplane building woes.

Several years ago I had dreams of building my own. When I decided it was probably not the right time in my life for such an adventure, he continued on, and dove in. (www.mywoodenairplane.com)

As his domain name implies, it is a wooden plane. A fine, beautiful adventure. If anyone knows anything about building wooden aircraft, they likely also know that very high quality wood is necessary. Every piece must be individually checked for quality. The grain needs to be just so, and there can't be any knots or pockets.

He separated the wood and took some of the best pieces to build the ribs of the wings. The ribs, twelve if I remember correctly, must all be identical. Meticulous work, attention to detail and more than a month's worth of evening and weekend work was necessary to build good, strong wing ribs for his plane.

So, not so long ago he attended a get-together of the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He brought several completed ribs to show the other plane builders there. Luckily there was someone there well versed in wooden plane construction. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how one views these sorts of things, he pointed out that while the the large pieces of wood that were used to build the ribs were indeed 'aircraft grade', many smaller pieces used to build the ribs were sub par and not as strong as they could or should be. A case where the larger piece is good, but smaller subdivisions are not.

As with my motorcycle woes, here is another case of it being better to get bad news and having the opportunity of nipping it in the bud before the bud had a chance to grow and bite back. These issues are causing us both a certain amount of stress but it is for the best. It's better that I find out my clutch is bad before a 6,000 mile ride and it is better for him to find out his ribs are sub par before he is 6,000 feet in the air. Either could be deadly.

Maybe, just maybe the gremlins are working in our favor for a change.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

T-Minus 15 Days and Counting!

Just 15 more days and I am on the road. Two weeks and a day. 360 hours. That's it!

And unfortunately she isn't ready. I would actually rather have it this way than have all these troubles after I am three or four days out.

As luck would have it, I ordered the wrong socket wrench for the clutch lock nut (pic on left). It took two days of calling and checking to discover that no, the bike hadn't changed; the factory repair manual was not terribly clear on the needed wrench so Cycle Gear ordered what they thought was necessary. Well, this tool is needed to remove the oil filter so it isn't a complete loss.

So, that was Monday. Took a day to find someone who has those types of tools. Surprisingly, it is the company who made the other socket; Motion Pro (www.motionpro.com). My neighbor who is a tool dealer found the correct part number for the correct socket. (pic on right) He ordered it and hopefully that piece of black gold will be here with enough time so I can do the clutch this weekend and be back on the bike Monday.

Ah, but my little personal clutch repair project is not being simple. The folks at Cycle Gear ordered the wrong springs. I had no idea until someone on the www.rebel250.com website replied to my posting and said to NOT use them. These are the ECB CSK11 spring kits. Do NOT use them on the Rebel 250. So, now I am faced with waiting until next weekend or using the springs I took out.

Well, as luck would have it, the original clutch springs are still within factory tolerances, so I think those will need to work. To be on the safe side though, I think I will order the proper set this time.

I would like to think that if I were not a patient man, I would be running around outside, mumbling nonsense, with two handfulls of my own hair. Between you and I, I like my long hair too much to pull it out over this.

Ride safe, all.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

T-Minus 17 Days and Counting!

Time is getting short and I am getting excited! The sweet thought of riding a small lonely two lane asphalt road in 60F degree temps, green fields all around, is as close to heavenly riding as my heat-addled brain can imagine. And I am less than twenty days from that. Two weekends and I shall be on my journey.

Unfortunately I am still without a bike. The clutch springs are still not in. HOPEFULLY they will arrive by tomorrow or I will need to order them elsewhere. This weekend is my target date for clutch repair. If it doesn't happen then, I can do it on the weekend following, but I will be completely unable to run any shake-out rides.

I was quite pleased to read on the My 2 Wheels website that members (local I presume) receive discounts from Motorcycle Tire Center here in Vegas. I called them this morning and asked for a quote. Hopefully they will give me some good news.

And, I am asking all of my humble readers. Those that ride and those that don't. Man, woman and child... Please visit my site and sign my guest book. The support you give me on this journey is support for the abused.

Ride safe, all!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

T-Minus 20 Days and Counting

So, I ordered a new set of clutch friction plates and springs last Saturday to replace the prematurely failing set on my bike. The kind lady at Cycle Gear promised they would be in town by Friday. Wednesday I call and order the special little tool Honda decided was necessary to take the clutch apart. No problem. I was told everything would be in by Friday so I could have an enjoyable weekend of clutch work.

Yesterday I receive a call from Cycle Gear. "Mr. Linder? We received the ECB friction plates and the clutch tool, but for some reason the springs didn't make it. They will definitely be in the store on Monday."

Well, I can't be ticked off at them. They are a great bunch of folks with seriously great prices.

Anyway, I digress. So, I don't have my springs. I can replace just the friction plates but it is not recommended. I look at it this way; I am going to ride more than 6000 miles. I would rather wait and do things correctly, rather than be impatient, do a shitty job and end up stranded in Oklahoma on a bike with a shredded clutch or worse.

So, what does one do with an immobile bike and three weeks before a cross country ride? Well, there's a lot...

I ordered stuff. For starters, I lined up a local place to change my tires. If I can somehow acquire a jack or stand or something to take the wheels off myself, I will. My boss suggested what he uses - a milk crate. He rides a KLR 650 and that works for him. But, my Rebel's exhaust pipes are lower that the frame. Using the milk crate method would put the bike's 300 pounds all on the exhaust system. I'm not doing that!

Then I call Jack from Jack's Rebel Warehouse for some spark plugs and new front brake pads. Let me tell you a few things about Jack... Number one, he LOVES to talk about the Rebel and could probably disassemble, tune up and reassemble a Rebel in the dark, with a blindfold in the middle of winter. Number two, he is a great supporter of my Ride for the NCADV, so if you have a Honda Rebel and you need anything for it, call him up.

OK, so the rest of my clutch repair stuff is on its way. Tire change is set-up. Brake pads and spark plugs are on their way.

What is left? Well, I started polishing and checking. Everything I could reach was cleaned or tightened or both. Then I started dressing her.

I read something in the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook (by Chris Scott) about luggage. A rucksack was mentioned in the section on soft luggage. That made me think... I built a simple, fairly removable rack on my bike with the intention of mouning some sort of boxes. After reading parts of this book, I decided against it. I wanted soft. Soft on a budget.

While at a store Friday, I see two red and white backpacks. Perfect! After my bike's cleaning and tightening session, I started experimenting with how I could fit what I wanted on my little bike. Let's just say that I now have a great set of $20 saddle bags! They may not last much longer than my ride, but that's OK. Pictures tomorrow! I need to sleep. :-)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

T-Minus 23 Days and Counting

How does everyone feel about flexible trip plans? I love them!

On this trip, I plan on visiting my Mom and family in Illinois. I plan on visiting several friends in North Carolina. I hope to visit a friend in Louisiana. BUT, I am keeping everything flexible. That flexibility is paying off a bit.

I was chatting with an old friend out east who would like to spend an afternoon chatting and visiting. No Problem. I will just change part of my return trip. As long as I drag my butt into work on October 20, I am OK. In this entire trip, that is the only thing that is written in stone; my return date.

So, as my bike sits on the back patio, looking lonely and forlorn, I await the delivery of a new set of friction plates for the clutch and font brake pads. Yes, she looks sad, but when I am done, she should be ready for an easy 6,000 miles!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

T-Minus 26 Days and Counting

Only 26 days before I hit the road for the east coast and my bike is just not safe to ride. Yesterday I wanted to put on a fuel filter, so took a short ride to the local Auto Zone for some hose clamps. Maybe this is just a personal quirk, but I have this odd aversion to riding at 30 MPH in a 50 MPH zone. And, that's all the clutch would do.

So, I pulled my bike into the back yard, under the patio roof, and started preparing her for major motorcycle surgery. A quick call to Cycle Gear and my friction plates and fresh springs are ordered. I stand outside and look at her. "Why not just do everything?" I think. "Do the brakes and tires, fuel filter, and heck, do the entire tune up.

There's no sense is being pissed off about this. I am taking advantage of the moto-down-time. No need to rush anything. It's OK if she isn't running before every morning. Time for me to get a little dirty.

Friday, August 29, 2008

T-Minus 28 Days and Counting

The gremlins have been busy teaching me a few things. The slipping clutch is teaching me patience and faith in my abilities. The puncture is teaching me that something that could be a major failure is only millimeters from an annoyance.

And today a new lesson. One of the problems that can plague the Honda Rebel is a headlight rattle. I spent an hour working on my rattling piece of chrome but to no avail. So, riding with the rattling headlight this morning I hear a new rattle. It doesn't sound good.

To the best of my abilities this morning, I guessed something was loose on or near the engine. At lunch time I ate my bagel while poking and prodding the engine and anything I could think of checking. No luck.

After work I hop on my bike and rev the engine. The nasty little gremlin of a rattle is still eluding me. Then I lean back on my luggage rack. The rattle stops! The vibrating rear fender was causing a loose connection on my luggage rack to oscillate, causing it to hit the fender and buzz.

The lessons? Symptoms of problems like to lie. Maybe with motorcycles as with life, the problems should be diagnosed, not the symptoms.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

T-Minus 30 Days and Counting

It is interesting the little things that can raise one's spirits. The difference between depression and happiness is a thought.

Yesterday I awoke in a grump. Showered in a grump. Brushed my teeth in a grump. Got dressed in a grump. Some might say it's my lack of sex for the last four years, but hey... Every one is entitled to their opinions.

I sit at the table for a quick grumpy breakfast and fire up my laptop to check my e-mail. What do I see? A letter from Lois Pryce about my ride! WOW. Grump level now going down.

I ride to work and test my clutch. Yes, it is slipping in 4th and 5th gears. I get to work and contact a few Rebel aficionados I know on the internet. While they do confirm it is 'classic' clutch slippage, it is not terribly expensive.

Grump level is a little higher now. If a problem is going to occur, I would rather have it happen before I leave. But, I would really prefer problems like this to not occur.

Then I get a call from the reception desk. I have a package. What could it be? An unknown donation? Box of computer stuff that will end up littering the garbage dump? No...

My ride cards are here!!!

Deanna did a beautiful job! I immediately handed out about 100 cards to the people where I work and talked about my ride and domestic violence. Several people asked if they could donate on my website and I even received $20 in cash from a fellow. (Thanks Kenneth!) Needless to say, my grump factor went negative.

Even my first tire puncture couldn't raise my grump. Sure, it didn't puncture the tube and I need new tires anyway, but I didn't care. That e-mail from Lois and the cards from Deanna just set a mood that may be difficult to remove. Slipping clutch and punctured rear tire just couldn't dampen my spirits this morning. In the cool, unusually moist early morning Las Vegas air I enjoyed my morning commute. Beautiful sunrise.

Monday, August 25, 2008

T-Minus 32 Days and Counting

And the paranoia starts setting in. Pictured to the left is a clutch cage for a Honda Rebel, the bike that will carry me 6000 miles in 21 days. I think my clutch is slipping and that worries me. But I have other worries.

Can I handle riding 300 - 500 miles a day? Will my new tires hold up? Will I run into snow while riding over the Rockies in Colorado? Will my chain handle the punishment? Will the brakes need to be replaced or will they hold up? What if I run out of money 1000 miles from home?

I know... Earl mentioned in a comment, that many of those worries will just evaporate once I am underway. Yes, I know they will. When taking cars on long journeys I do the same thing; worry about things and once on the road the worry just dissolves.

Maybe that is the magic of the journey. Maybe my lesson in this is to not worry so much. Prepare and then enjoy. It's a good lesson for me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

T-Minus 35 Days and Counting

I am really starting to excited now! People are linking to my website and I am starting to receive endorsement and offers of assistance. I was even offered a loan to cover expenses on the trip. YES!!! This IS going to work!

What is the only thing that can temper my enthusiasm? The Las Vegas heat. Riding in this kind of heat is NOT pleasant. The apparent wind while riding is NOT cool; it actually heats the rider more than if they were sitting still at a stop light.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to every opportunity there is to hop on and ride, but I must admit that riding at 75 MPH in 115 F is brutal. At least in the cold I can bundle up. I am not personally into riding naked. That would be a tad bit embarrassing and that sunburn... outch!

BUT, the season is changing. Nights are starting to have a certain coolness to them. Some days yield riding that is not so brutal. It won't be long now before the temperatures are perfect riding. The smell and feel of the cool air whistling by... Let me tell you, I am truly looking forward to that!

Monday, August 18, 2008

T-Minus 39 Days and Counting

Only 39 days. I would be lying if I said there were no apprehensive thoughts going through my brain. The possibility of an accident, or of running out of money, or of not being able to find a place to stay, or of mechanical failure. These thoughts, as the time of my departure nears, are becoming more tangible.

I think the bike will be fine, but... I am a little worried about the brakes as they are starting to be a little thin. I am a little worried about the tires as they are wearing a little and starting to get weathering cracks. Well, worried may be too harsh a word. Concerned may describe my feelings a little better. I can replace the brakes and tires, but they cost money. An I can see I will be running tight the way it is.

Then there is the weather. Don't get me wrong, weather does not frighten me. After witnessing more than thirteen tornadoes, a tropical storm, innumerable ice and hail and snow storms, I have acquired an odd sort of appreciation for adverse weather. What I worry about is snow in Colorado. I heard on the Weather Channel how I70 was getting snow already in Colorado, just west of Denver. That is my route through the state. I am not afraid of it, I am concerned it will put me behind schedule.

More later---

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Damned Statistics

"The mathematics of the collection, organization, and interpretation of numerical data, especially the analysis of population characteristics by inference from sampling." - American Heritage Dictionary

There it is in black and white. "...analysis of population characteristics by inference from sampling." A mathematician knows this. A statistician knows this. The problem is that much of the public don't seem to understand this.

Here are a few interesting statistics to discuss before your next bike ride...
  • The average person eats 8 spiders while asleep in their lifetime.
  • Women over 35 have a .5% chance of getting married.
  • About 11 percent of young citizens of the U.S. couldn't even locate the U.S. on a map.
  • One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth.
Not only are some of these statistics worthless, they are specious at best. A statistic is only as good as the sample it is based upon. What group of people has this nocturnal arachnid appetite? Only a .5% chance of getting married if you are a woman and older than 35? How young are these young citizens and how were they asked? One in five Americans think the earth goes around the sun?

These are all bad or misrepresented statistics. Here is a good motorcycle statistic for you: "Since 1997 motorcycle rider fatalities have increased by 89 percent from 2,116 to 4,008 in 2004." Sobering, yes. But for myself, it begs the question why? Is it lack of training? More squids on the road? Inattentive car and truck drivers? Increase in speed limits? Larger moto engine sizes? You can read for yourself here: http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-Safety/motorcycle-accident-statistics.htm if you like.

But really, statistics can be used or misused. When implemented properly, they can be used to bring to light real world problems. Unfortunately, there are those who would dissect these statistics and turn them against those trying to do good.

A good example are the statistics publicized by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. You see, this morning I started to do some research on using Google or Yahoo groups to open an e-mail discussion group for my little October ride. What did I find? I found some good links and a few groups, but predominantly what I saw turned my stomach. It seems there are those that would rather pick apart statements and statistics in an effort to discredit the work of a valid organization.

Questioning statistics is one thing. Questioning an organization's intentions is valid as well. Picking apart and criticizing valid statistics that follow the scientific method in an effort to belittle a real life problem is abhorrent.

Whether you eat 20 spiders or 2, the statistic is still valid.

Whether you use one definition of abuse or another, it does not minimize the problem. Pardon my language, but why don't these people quit their bitching and do something to solve the problem. Tweeking a number may make things look better but does nothing to help the woman or man down the street that was just hit in the eye by an intimate partner.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Not sure where this came from!

As I have been posting recently, it should be no surprise to anyone that I have been bike shopping. I looked at the Honda 919, Suzuki SV650, V-Strom 650 and finally settled on the Kawasaki VerSys.

I don't need to buy a new bike at all. There are just certain things I would like to do; things that my Honda Rebel struggles with. Things like touring. Things like riding down the desert dirt roads out of Vegas. Logical, conscious, perhaps adventurous riding desires. They make a certain amount of sense.

The VerSys is my solution. Capable of functioning fairly well in all of my desired riding categories, it is the logical choice. I went to the dealership Friday and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately the deal was not struck. The best they could do was $1500 down and payments of $230 per month.

Too much. The only way to justify, if not make it completely feasible at this point in time, would be to rely on the future sale of my pickup before my first new bike payment came due. Then there is the matter of the $1500. Sure, I could get it, but that would completely drain my trip fund AND consume all available credit I have.

I am getting ahead of myself, here. This post is not about my financial woes or to lament my lack of savings or to whine over my non-purchase of the VerSys. It is about something much more dark. It is about something primal, incorporeal, deep, sexy, something that joins logic and madness. It fuels dark two wheel, midnight and mid-day fantasies. Memories of a hormone fueled puberty scratch at my subconscious.

And I am not sure why. This is a repulsion and attraction; I cannot look away.

What the hell caused this? I sat on a bike. Not just any bike; something I really wasn't looking for. I sat on it anyway. And to be honest, I sat on one early this year, January I think. Perhaps I was not ready.

Saturday, I decided to ride to my exhaustion in the 110F Las Vegas temps. Not out of any 'death wish' or depression. I just wanted to see how long I could go. So, water bottles mounted, I took off to do a little bike sittin'.

First up, Carter's on the other side of town. They have some nice bikes but nothing I am really interested in. I ride over to my normal dealership, Ride Now on Boulder and look at a few used, but nothing is really swaying my desire to get that VerSys, even if I have to wait until later this year or early next. I am in no hurry.

Then something takes my bike by the handlebars and points me South. I was at this place last year before I bought the Rebel. I walk in & the smell of leather is almost tangible. I look around and am greeted by no less than three women and a man. There, twenty feet away was the low black bike that struck me. A new Harley Davidson Nightster.

Unfortunately, this bike was even more expensive than the VerSys. I then sit on another small HD. This is where the fantasies start. It's a 2007 Sportster XL 883R. All black but the pipes and a few other items. Sales person informs me that the 'R' is not offered in 2008 and probably not 2009. The one I sat on was destined for another dealership. It was already sold.

He sort-of winks at me, "Why not get a black 2009 Sportster and powder coat it all black?" I am not sure why I am being pulled in this direction. It feels guttural, comfortable in a primative way. And, only about $170with no down.

I am now unsure which bike I may get; but this feels wicked. This feels good...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Missing Piece

"In the universe, there are more unknowns than knowns." -anon

It was an interesting feeling. Not as intense as alarming, not as continuous as a concern. A singular missing puzzle piece that lies in a person's hand. This was unique.

I had to run some errands on Friday, so I drove my pickup to work. That's not a huge issue, other than the gas it drinks.

Coming out to the smoking patio for my first smoke of the day, right next to motorcycle parking, I stop. I pause. The world wasn't right. A crack, or perhaps a reflection of an echo of a crack. Looking over to the other bikes, mine is missing.

'Of course it's missing! I drove today,' I think to myself. I shook it off, but is was mildly disturbing in a benign, gentle way. Not a person to be attached to material things (just ask my ex! LOL) this is odd. Is it the bike I miss? Is it the void the missing bike left? Am I unnaturally attached to an inanimate object? Regardless. It was different. New. Different. I like that.
---
On a side note, I am deep into the planning of my trip to the Atlantic Coast and back. At times, it is odd. It almost feels like an obsession! Now, that is certainly something different and new for me.

So, my posts here will be slowing a bit as I work on my trip. Updates here as they occur.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Busy Motorcycle Week

The GOOD kind of busy!

After a great deal of research and making a lot of rear-end prints on bike, I have finally settled on my next motorcycle. It will be a nice, red Kawasaki VerSys. Yes, it is indeed a bit tall, but there are three ways to lower it a bit; and that's all I need.

It's funny. One of my buddies at work tell me to buy from the dealer down the street, and not to go to the one across town. Another fellow I know, tells me I should buy from the one across town and shun the more local dealer. Who's to say where I shall buy from. Perhaps having two dealers working against each other will be a good thing.

Then, today I receive a lovely call from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence regarding my planned ride. I am happy to say that things are moving forward for a coast to coast and back motorcycle ride in October to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I think this is going to be a nice ride!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Decisions...

Yet more.

After performing a lengthy online search and sitting on a bunch of bikes, I have narrowed the field to two. In order, my runners up were: Suzuki V-Strom 650; Honda 919; and the Triumph Bonneville. And the last two? A Suzuki SV650 and Kawasaki Versys.
I want my new bike to be comfortable on my daily 30 mile or so commute, yet ready to go on the highway or old desert road. It's funny. This is nothing like choosing a car. There are so many factors and opinions to weigh. And typically, if you buy a bike, you can't ride it first, and can't take it back if it isn't what you wanted.

So... Any comments?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Rush - Time Stand Still

The video may be a bit aged and somewhat amateurish, but the song strikes a chord within me. Always has. Now that I am riding something, a motorcycle, that transports more than mere mortal flesh, there is a different light to this song. Enjoy.

There Was Something Missing

There was something missing on that ride. Something as intangible, yet meaningful as the light of a full moon on a snowy cold winter night. My inability to define this thing was in itself a frustration.

It was a good ride, aside from a five mile stretch of rough pavement and a few idiot drivers on I-15. My bike ran well. My butt, while sore, survived without much problem. I would have liked to bring my camera, but didn't.

What is it?

There, that fleeting hay field! Those cows over there! The Virgin River, water tumbling over ancient rocks in a timeless furor! The blue sky above, aching to be stared at!

That was it! Without trying to define what was missing, it became obvious by the things I saw in the periphery of my vision while buzzing down the road.

I missed the opportunity to walk in a hay field again.

I missed a chance to just stand and listen to cows.

I was in too much of a hurry to stop and pull over; to walk in an ancient river.

I did not stop, park the bike, lay down in the grass and just stare at the sky.

Next time. Definitely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First 300 Mile Day!!!

YES! To some of you old-time motorcycle tour folks, that is probably not a large accomplishment. You hop on your GoldWing or Harley and just ride. For my Rebel and myself, it is a big deal. And, it was a good learning experience.
  1. Always bring a little more cash than you think you will need.
  2. Never assume there will be a median road that will allow you to turn around when riding a super-slab.
  3. Drink a LOT of water. It's better to pull over every hour than to get dehydrated.
  4. Just because a map says it is paved, doesn't mean it is good!
  5. Anticipate every possible problem before you set out.
  6. And lucky number six... Never, EVER ride in the sun for more than an hour or so, wearing jeans with holes in the knees. (I now have a nasty oval sunburn just above my left knee).
Here is a map of my outgoing route from Henderson, NV to St. George, UT. My return route was fairly direct; I-15 down to where I-93 splits off up north. There, I exited the highway and got on Las Vegas Boulevard. If you look at the map, you will need to zoom in quite a bit to see it.

In all, it was a good ride, and proof that I can effectively adjust the valves on my bike. Those of you who have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance may understand; this was the first time I have ever attempted to do anything like this to an engine. I was slow and methodical, following the instructions, while all the time trying to understand the purpose for each action. Just following a list of directions teaches nothing.

Well, after having the valve pan off and on about three times, I knew something was amiss. First one side was nice and quiet but the other side clanked. I would do everything again and the sounds would switch sides! The thought of just taking it to the mechanic did cross my mind, but I remember that being a "gumption trap..." or something like that. Don't treat failure as a failure; treat it as a learning tool.

And I did.

I went back and looked at the instructions on-line and realized one of the steps had been omitted when I printed them! I follow the instructions, including the missed step, and she purrs like a kitten!

After the first failure, I thought "I did something wrong."
After the second failure, I thought "I did this wrong or I have the wrong instructions."
After the third failure, I thought "I followed the instructions, there must be something wrong with the instructions."

Now, what made me think that, rather than "I have the wrong tool" or "I am just incapable" or whatever? I think it was gumption. I am growing & it feels good.

Oh, by the way, after adjusting the valves, my little Rebel has better acceleration AND I can easily cruise at 75MPH. I even got it up to 85 on a flat stretch of road. Not bad!

Ride safe, all!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Solo Right and Solo Wrong

Yesterday I had the opportunity to peruse the tomes in my sanctuary. Well, they weren't exactly tomes. And the sanctuary I write of is really the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Regardless of description, I spent an enjoyable hour or so looking through books.

Typically when I shop for much of anything I make a list or know what I want, go to the store, buy it, or an acceptable substitute, then return. A bookstore is different. I could browse in a bookstore until they throw me out!

First stop: US Travel. Here I looked through dry travelogues, opinionated travel idea books and a few interesting book about 'places to go.' One that caught my eye was a book about traveling in Illinois. As I thumbed through it, the dryness seemed to fall out of the pages. It seemed to be lists of itineraries with phone numbers, written by someone who searched the web for interesting things about a particular area and wrote a few things down.

The place listed in the book, nearest where I grew up was The Slammer (www.theslammer.net) in Aledo, Illinois. Nifty place. I still remember it as the county jail. But I wonder. Are lists of places what travel is all about? Going from point x to point y to point z? I hope readers of these books understand that the places listed therein are guidelines. Go ahead. Ride or drive off the beaten path.

I then looked for books about solo travel and was struck by two things. Firstly, Why do some of these read like a recipe book?

Buy ticket A in advance.
Let friends and family know where you are going.
Pack light and smart.
Don't trust the locals.
Stay in your hotel overnight.
call your mommie in the morning and night.

ACH!!! Traveling alone, whether it be by motorcycle, car, bus or plane is not primarily about the trip. It is about the journey of an individual soul. It's about the adventure.

Secondly, why are so many of these books about women solo traveling? I just searched Amazon with the keywords solo and travel. The first page results gives 8 out of 16 books that are specifically for women only. I find that interesting. If anyone can explain that, please let me know, ok?

Well, I'm off to tune up my bike...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Riding in the Rain

It was an epiphany of sorts. Most people tend to agree; the weather this year is a bit odd. Vegas' weather is no different.

Last week I remember riding home from work and seeing a thermometer along the way that read 110F. I was prepared; I was hydrated and wore my mesh. Perhaps a bit of my background is necessary here.

There is no hiding it. My boss knows. My co-workers know. My friends and family know. I HATE Las Vegas and dislike the desert. It has always seemed to be a combination of public attitude and culture (or lack thereof) in combination with the weather that provided the catalyst for these feelings.

But in that 110 degree sun, in my mesh, on my motorcycle, my road of life turned 90 degrees. 'This is actually fun,' I thought. This heat, this thing that I had disliked for years was now a challenge. A challenge that had not been felt for years to this intensity.

For more than thirty years of my life I reveled in the challenge of withstanding wind and rain and storms and tornadoes and snow and sleet and hail. It made my adrenalin flow, life being lived, not survived or tolerated. Now, on my motorcycle, the heat is a challenge that I gladly confront. I do not shy away from it as before, searching out an air conditioned enclosure or facade. The hot wind of motion blows through my mesh and it feels good.

Today, with the seeming oddity of recent weather, it was cold. 56 degrees when hopped on my bike to run a few errands. It felt good. The weather did not disappoint. The low hanging clouds did as most clouds do; rain. It felt good.

Being the first time I have ever ridden in the rain, all movements and changes of throttle and brake and lean were incredibly measured and monitored. The flood of stimulus fed a starving brain. Rain came down, hitting my visor, running off in streams. Rain drops, then little pellets of sleet happily stung my legs through saturated denim.

My motorcycle seemed to love it as much as I did. She ran smooth and gentle through puddles on saturated pavement. Tires efficiently gripping the road, she carefully and safely carried my soul.

On my motorcycle, perhaps Las Vegas and the desert isn't so bad.