Monday, March 30, 2009

Friends -VS- Biker Friends

I can only site this fellows MySpace page for this. It is great...

Friends: Never ask for food.
Biker Friends: The reason you have no food.

Friends: Will say "Hello."
Biker Friends: Will give you a big hug and a kiss.

Friends: Call your parents Mr. and Mrs.
Biker Friends: Call your parents Mom & Dad.

Friends: Have never seen you cry.
Biker Friends: Cry with you.

Friends: Eat at your dinner table and leave.
Biker Friends: Will spend hours talking, laughing and just being together.

Friends: Know a few things about you.
Biker Friends: Could write a book with direct quotes.

Friends: Knock on your door.
Biker Friends: Walk right in and say "I'm Home!"

Friends: Are for a while.
Biker Friends: Are for life.

Friends: Will ignore this.
Biker Friends: Will forward this.

You know what? I have biker friends who have never ridden before in their lives. It's never too late to saddle-up and ride the wind!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pulling the Trigger

"Give Jack a call! He will have a deal for you, definitely!"

That is what I was told. My little Rebel struggled to keep up with the larger bikes last weekend, and in many situations failed miserably. She was pushed the hardest she ever had been. The hard accelerations, the mountain passes, the traffic, the harsh weather. We rode through rain and hail and high winds and dust and sand clouds all at 65 to 75 MPH. She was valiant.

She waited until the day after to protest. She blew an oil seal on the main crank shaft.

Now, I have been told that I do not communicate well, but this communication was loud and clear; no more hard rides, please. In respect of the fact that she valiantly rode across the US and back with me, I shall respect her wishes.

So, I start reviewing my finances and options. I can get a fix'er up'er or go to a dealership. A fellow told me of Jack at Red Rock Harley. "He will find a deal for you!"

Well, I have heard that before. On my Friday lunch hour I drive over to take a look. First was a blue Sportster 883; 2006 I think. Not thrilled.

I asked Jack about the new arrival of used bikes. This, Jack had mentioned the day before on the phone. We go back and look. There she is. There was that primal tingle on the back of my neck; the twitchy throttle hand; the dry mouth; and the almost indescribable need to find some gear and go for a ride.
She is a Harley Davidson 2004 Sportster XL1200 Custom. This includes soft saddle bags (almost new), stepped seat (I like that), passenger back rest and short, LOUD pipes. I pick her up on Tuesday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Off to San Diego

Well, some time today some riders from the Nevada Chapter of BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse) and myself will be making our way to San Diego for a little get-together with the California Chapter.

The dedication of these folks are amazing.

So, until Sunday when I return, safe riding, all!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Complexities of a Motorcycle

While enjoying a leisurely ride after work to the bank, the bike shop and home on side roads, for one reason or another the complexities of riding tumbled around in my brain. Not only are these beautiful pieces of machinery complex, but a good rider must understand and master them all.

For those who don't ride, here is a little overview of the controls...

Right Foot: Rear Brake. This is important in slowing the bike. The rider must remember that only about 20% of all braking should be performed by the rear. Any more can cause the tire to loose traction. That is NOT a good thing.

Right Hand: Front Brake. This is very important in slowing a bike. Approximately 80% of all braking relies on the front brakes. Throttle. Accurate and precise throttle control is vital to safely navigate turns and perform smooth shifting. Kill Switch. Should an emergency arise where the engine must be cut off immediately, there is a kill switch near the throttle. Starter. Bikes with electric starters will usually have the starter button on the right.

Left Foot: Gear Shift. Actuating the gear shift properly must be smoothly coordinated with throttle and clutch control. Coordination failure can cause bad things to happen, like dumping a bike while accelerating to highway speeds.

Left Hand: Clutch. Not only must the clutch be carefully used in sync with throttle and gear shift, but is vital to slow speed control. Turning Signal. The turning signal is usually a thumb selected switch. High/Low Light Switch. There is usually a toggle switch on the left side to control the headlights. Choke. Not on many larger, fuel injected bikes, but is still there on most carbureted machines. The Horn. Very important!

If anything mechanical should malfunction, there is typically no time to think. Reaction must be immediate, accurate and deliberate.

These are the major control points of a typical motorcycle and says nothing of other things like countersteering, time and space control, balance, scanning and a host of other things, all necessary for a good rider.

In my opinion, fine motorcycle riding is akin to dancing the tango with a steel partner at 55 miles per hour.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One Page at a Time, Part Three

Here I present day three of my little Page-A-Day experiment from 2006.

June 2, 2006 - One Page at at Time.
This is the last one in my experiment and honestly, I am not sure why this experiment only consists of three entries. Upon reading this, it is in my opinion, some of my best writing. It is far longer than one page. And... It scares the hell out of me.
Jeremy searched his lover's deep brown eyes for some form of recognition. Where years before he could easily find the essence of her life, her love, her existence, now they were merely bottomless pits.

Her soul was now an infinitely hollow space. No, it was not empty, simply devoid of life, love and existence.

Her thrashing and yelling and sharp threats had now died to blunted, indecipherable mumbles. Her almost incomprehensible behavior was no match for her self-brewed cocktail of alcohol, sleeping pills and morphine.

He was lucky tonight. She hadn't threatened his life or her own. She hadn't fallen into her drugged, comatose slumber while on the toilet or in the kitchen or in the car or smoking at her desk. While these events were not common, they did happen more than occasionally. And when these things did happen, Jeremy's soul was torn even more.

Nightmares of her irresponsible, inopportune slumbers haunted him. There was no escaping these echos of reality, firing synapses in his subconscious, slumbering brain. He would occasionally awake screaming or crying or yelling. She would sleep on, unconscious to the universe.

Her body now quiet of all conscious activity, he kisses her on the cheek. "Sleep well, my love," Jeremy whispered. Tears welled up in his eyes like blood seeping from new wounds.

But these were tears and they were from his soul. With the right pressure in the proper spot, tears and bleeding can both be stopped.

It was an early night, only 12:18 AM and she was blindingly asleep. He could finally relax.

The house, now peacefully quiet after nearly five hours of emotional, verbal and spiritual battery. After so many years of this abuse, the surface of his soul seemed to be entirely covered in scar tissue, impervious to almost any attack.

"I am blind," Jeremy mutters. The first shot of whiskey burnt going down. The second was better. "You are blind... you are blind... you are blind..." he counted out loud, walking a tight circle in the middle of the kitchen. These words, first yelled at him so many years ago, meant almost nothing now. He liked to hear the echo.

The kitchen was his domain. She used to enjoy cooking, but the void that killed her soul, took that as well.

The third and fourth shots tasted like water. "You are blind," Jeremy yelled.

Some people know but choose not to see. Some see but can't understand. Some have their eyes gouged out.

"You are blind!!!" he yelled.

Jeremy couldn't decide which category of blindness he fell into. Fifth and sixth shot, he didn't care.

One Page at a Time, Part Two

Here I present day two of my little Page-A-Day experiment from 2006.

May 2, 2006 - One Page at at Time.
Seven thirty nine. The smoldering sun claws its way up the eastern sky, burning everything it touches, save the natives. No humans prior to the industrial period would even consider this place as being habitable year round.

Heat is the Devil's friend. Snow and cold is a gift from above to balance the Devil's flames.

Jamie always wore white. She said it reminded her of winter with her grandparents in Wisconsin. The spatter of her would-be killer's blood on her white blouse brought a more primal feel to the cabin.

She knew, 'They won't try this again for a while, at last not with him.'

Looking out the window, lightly considering her would-be assassin, 'Poor bastard. If he doesn't make it to the hospital before nightfall, he is one dead idiot.'

Turning from the window, she changes her blouse and douses the cabin with cooking oil.

It's Interesting the Things One Finds

Yesterday I spent the day emptying a storage shed and going through some old boxes. Oh the things I found... Old pictures from when I was a kid, a set of SCSI drives, old books, old clothes, pictures of airplanes and study notes from my days of flying... and old memories...

...some of which I ran through the shredder. There was no feeling of catharsis as I had hoped. The action was purely mechanical. Maybe memories can't be shredded as easily as paper can be eaten by hardened steel teeth.

Anyway, one of the things I found was a notebook I started in 2006, before I started riding and before my divorce. My goal was just to write one page per day (which only lasted a few days). Some was fact, some was fiction, some was just babble. For your entertainment I present you, kind reader, with this short set of writings. You can decide if it is fiction or real. Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent and stupid and mentally ill. ;-)

I don't remember why I stopped. Perhaps I will start it again.

Here is day one -
April 25, 2006

Everyone makes mistakes. See, I can't even write correctly! I am smoking again. I hate that. I am at work's parking lot.

Brian stayed home sick again. Betty yelled last night. I had a nice chat with Ms. V. in the internet last night. Too bad she lives in Austria. I would like to meet her.

Why does my hand hurt when I write like this? Why do people buy big, inefficient vehicles and then complain about gas prices?

A page really seems long sometimes. This morning is nice out for a change.

Betty is driving me crazy, I think. Slipping. Do relationships make people feel like this? I don't know. Others say 'no,' but we are all individuals and different.

My hand hurts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Relativity, Motorcycle Repair and a Little Life

So there I am; single, not hard on the eyes (so I am told), intelligent, fairly literate, good sense of humor, easy-going; and what am I doing on a Friday night in Las Vegas?

Working on my motorcycle project, of course.

This was milestone evening. No more disassembly could occur until the engine was removed from the frame. Even with everything removed, that engine weighs probably 175 pounds by itself.

As motorcycle repair manuals typically are, the one for my VX800 is quite terse. Accordingly, to remove the engine one must simply disconnect the right frame member (yes, the frame comes apart), disconnect the engine mounts and remove engine.

Likely with a bike lift and winch and tools common to motorcycle repair, these instructions may be sufficient. I require more explanation.

So, 8:00 PM rolled around and there was the engine and frame, clinging together by a single bolt as if they feared being alone. Over and over my mind pounded on the mechanics of lifting the engine, removing the last mount bolt and setting the engine down next to the frame.

Then I thought about something I read in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". It is something I used to practice decades ago but since it is not a direct path from problem to solution and operated at 90 degrees to conventional problem solving techniques, it was left along the highway.

The concept of this problem solving technique is simple; understand the situation, limitations and requirements... and the go off and do something else. Don't think about it. Eventualy the solution will poke itself up through your consciousness.

In this case, the poking commenced about 30 minutes later. 'OF COURSE! Why remove the engine from the frame? Remove the frame from the engine!'

The result is the same, but the direction taken to effect the accomplishment is 180 degrees from what I was doing before. So, the engine was blocked up with some wood, a few twists on that last bolt, a little wrestling with the frame so it didn't fall into the plate glass window behind me, and...


Maybe the answer to complex problems requires a little absent mindedness.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Time for a New Helmet!

After reading Stacy's Full Face Helmet post and seeing the pictures there, a full face helmet was tops on my list of things to get.

Personally, I am a "Helmet anytime on the bike," sort of fellow. People who want to ride without a helmet ought to look at Stacy's blog post, linked above.

But, hey, if you are reading this and are a dyed in the wool, 'wind in the face', 'I don't need a helmet' sort of rider, that's cool with me.

One person's luck can be another's misfortune. In this case, according to what I have read on the Internet, UK based helmet manufacturer Arashi (Japanese for 'storm') has gone out of business. That being the misfortune, apparently Cycle Gear has a stock of helmets from this manufacturer and are liquidating their stock. Lucky for me and others intersted in an inexpensive full face helmet, they still have a reasonable stock available. (Cycle Gear Arashi Helmet)

So, Saturday morning I rode over to my local Cycle Gear and exchanged my $75 for an Arashi Turbo helmet and a reflective shield. Now, I don't know how I managed without a full face helmet.

It is lighter than my Scorpion Exo200, more aerodynamic and minimizes the updraft of air into my nose. There is less wind noise and the shield fits the helmet quite securly. There is only one drawback noticed so far; the visibility as compared to the Scorpion is somewhat less in the vertical plane.

The Arashi Turbo isn't fancy like an Arai or Shoei, with their advanced composite carbon fiber construction, removable inserts, high-tech ventilation systems and so forth. It is inexpensive, works well and is DOT approved. Been thinking about a full face helmet? This may be a very inexpensive way to save you jaw or front teeth should you be in a scrape.

Ride safe, all!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Those Silly California Legislators...

This has little to do with motorcycling or generally anything I usually post here, but this one just made me laugh in disbelief to the point that coffee nearly blew out my nose!

According to SlashDot, "California Assemblyman Joel Anderson plans to introduce a bill to force Google Earth and similar services to blur images of so-called 'soft targets' like schools, hospitals, churches and government buildings to protect them from terrorists."

YES! Let's make it more difficult for soccer moms to find the away games. Make it a pain in the ass to find the local courthouse to pay a parking ticket. And church? 'Bless me father for I have sinned... I was late for communion for the last three weeks because my map was blurry.'

Hospitals, now there is a good way to cut back on health care spending. Make it more difficult to find your local ER!

Incredible work, Mr. Anderson! Watch out there, Google and Rand McNally and California AAA. Before you know it, California may just be a blur west of the Mississippi. According to some, it already is.