Friday, July 31, 2009

Are There Coincidences?

Well, it had to happen. There was no question. Unless things changed, it was inevitable. Cox Cable disconnected my home internet.

Moving always sucks and costs money. Daughter's financial aid for school has not come through yet so I pony up the money for this semester. AND, there is the matter of paying my cable/internet bill and a few credit cards.

Just... A... Few... More... Months... My pickup, an older Chevy S10 will be paid off in October. So, after adjusting for a lower rate of insurance, that's about $200 extra per month in the bank. Then, a loan will be paid off in December. That is another $200 per month. Oh, and after I move, there should be a nice juicy deposit check coming my way.

I find it oddly curious this should happen as I write a blog post on the philosophy of transience.

Riding through life, as on a motorcycle, there is only transience; permanence fleeting. BUT, that is for my next post.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Musical Tuesday Night (Part 3) - Indestructable

This is going out to some very special people. If you know who you are, you know who you are. You will never be alone.

Musical Tuesday Night (Part 2)

Republica. Originators of the 'Electronica' genre, this song is played on some car commercials now. Pity. This song means a lot to me personally. Plus, it is just pretty rockin'. So, any body else "Ready to GO?" I definitely know of a few!

Musical Tuesday Night (Part 1)

I am just feeling a bit musical this evening...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

350 Miles for the Soul

Yes, I needed to ride today. My soul, my conscious being, my what have you was beginning to get cluttered. It needed a good cleansing... and got it.

I wanted to get out of Vegas. So, after stopping at my work to get my camera, I pointed Athena North West and rode. Up ahead on I95 I saw the sign for Kyle Canyon. Downshift, turning signal, brakes, and I was on a delightful two lane asphalt road on my way to the Spring Mountains and Mount Charleston. After riding around there a while, and taking some pictures, I head toward Lee Canyon for some hiking.

The hiking didn't last long as I really didn't prepare for it. Little extra water and no emergency rations should my blood sugar do something funny. It was indeed beautiful though.
Just me in front of a big rock. I really stink at self portraits. :-P

Coming down Lee Canyon Road, I think, 'Where to next? Turn left and head up to Beatty? Maybe further? Head back to Vegas? Go back to the coolness of the Spring Mountains?

Wait! My stomach starts to think more than my brain. 'I am HUNGRY! Free grilled burgers and hot dogs at Henderson Harley.' Dang stomach even brought a financial argument and threw it on the table. Couldn't resist.

So, at I95 I turn right. Back to Vegas.

It was hot. The kind of hot that doesn't cool your skin even at 90 MPH. Yes, 90. Don't get me wrong. I like going fast, but this was supposed to be a slow day. Waves from fellow bikers out to enjoy the overcast Las Vegas day were more than welcome but that heat and speed... Just to maintain traffic speed and not be a traffic hazard a speed of 85 to 90 MPH had to be maintained. Not my idea of good riding conditions.

So, I stop at Henderson HD, have a burger, few waters, watch the Rider's Edge class, buy a quart of oil and head back to the house. After rehydrating myself, I wonder, what to do... Tidy the house and pack some more? Do yard work? Waste the day on FaceBook?

No... Let's ride...

After gassing up, I point Athena West, then South on old Las Vegas Boulevard. South of the city, this used to be the only way to travel between Los Angeles and Vegas. After I15 was built, this road was well maintaind but not used much. AH! No cagers! Speed is set at 55 and I kick back.

Turn right at Jean and head down a smaller road with some simple twisties and sweepers. Perfect. Sandy Vally Road is a lot of fun!

One day of solitary riding. It didn't change the world, but my outlook upon it certainly has.

Coming up...

Yes, a little ride up to Mt. Charleston this morning was just what the soul needed. A little hiking helped too. This is from the top of a cliff looking out over a little parking lot. Athena is there... WAY down there.

We, I am now rehydrated, found an extra $5 for gas. I am off. Colorado River this time? The Dam? Nipton, California maybe? hmmm...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Please Remove Finger from Anvil

There are some hard, difficult times coming to the Razor household. If all goes as planned, it is temporary. If it doesn't, well...

Some people may not like some of my choices in the near future and that is ok. Some choices will be made based on poor decisions I made in the past. Some will be based on the current financial, job situation I am in. Some will be based on a future that is foggy at best.

This isnt' truly a matter of fear. Regardless of what happens in the near future, survival is a matter of persistence, pragmatism and a solid grasp of reality. Fear is a lack of light.

I have goals, I have my bucket list. The paths to an end sometime have odd twists and turns. When one looses the road, take the path. When one looses the path, break out the machete.

But, in the meantime, I still have my bike and $5 for gas. A long ride is in order. Who knows... Maybe I will find a bag of money at the side of the road. Maybe I will meet someone to share a cup of coffee with. What is beyond the apex of the next twisty? I am going to find out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Through the Singularity

The past coming to a point. Future possibilities are the result, emanating in front as we speed down the highway. An entire culmination of the universe collapsing to a singularity ahead, bursting forth to an infinity of things and places and people and actions and adventures.

Yes, Athena and I are mobile again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2007 and 2008 - A Little Walk Down Memory Lane

2007 was a year that is indellibly marked in my memory. The arguments, the drama, doctors, police, lawyers, court... it was done. The divorce final. The end of a chapter filled with insanity and things better left unsaid... unremembered. Alas, it is etched in my mind.

One thing that I knew was necessary was to rebuild my credit. I was addicted. Lunches and nights spent on my addiction were beautiful. was my addiction. It had been nearly 25 years since I had sat on a bike but I knew... I knew it was right. The trigger was pulled. I bought a bike; the first ever new vehicle I had ever owned. Something of my own chosing. A 2007 Honda Rebel 250.

Last weekend in December, 2007 I take my MSF BRC class and pass. On the last day of 2007 I take the little MSF card to the DMV so they can add the "M" to my license endorsement. On January 1, 2008 I ride 80 miles around the Las Vegas valley in 30 degree temps. I don't care. A new life.

An adventurous thought formed. A cross country ride. Insane? Some told me the Rebel's engine would blow up. Others told me I would make it to the Mississippi and turn around. Some did indeed ask, "Are you insane?"

My answer... Yes.

Toward the end of September I saddled up and headed out. Less than a year of riding and I headed out on a cross country ride on a bike most thought incapable. Cool.

Tonight I thought of writing about something else; about future rides; about my plan for earning my Saddle Sore award; about my plans of another cross country ride; about my planned ride to Yellowknife.

But I read my ride report and the responses and got a little teary eyed. Some times a walk down memory lane is a good thing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Good news everyone!

So, I drove the cage down to Henderson Harley Davidson to get the status of that bearing they have been hand crafting by 100 year old artisans in the Appalachian Mountains. Apparently the artisans' three week smoke break is over. The warehouse is no longer out of stock and all back orders have been filled and sent to the dealerships!

I just hope they didn't send the thing Pony Express...

Thoughts for the Day - Riding Withdrawls

Three Weeks!!!

That is how long it has been since the clutch throw-out bearing on Athena had a critical malfunction. She sits in the back yard next to my two other non-functioning bikes, looking sad and depressed.

And, what is up with Harley Davidson's parts department??? I ordered this bearing almost three weeks ago and was told delivery would be seven to ten days?!?!? Almost 21 days at this point. Are they hand forging this little thing???

Come on! According to some folks on the XL e-mail list, this is a common failure. With as many Sporties as there are, one would think these parts would be easy to find.

Under normal circumstances, I would just suck up this withdrawal and do some wrenching. I am moving! So, tools and parts are boxed up!

PLEASE, Motorcycle Gods, hear me! All I need it a frigging clutch throw-out bearing!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Death of a Euphamism

That's it! I Quit!

Quit what? Using a certain euphemism. Why? It simply is not true.

How many times have I told people to follow their own path? Ride their own ride? When the path ends, get out your machete and make your own? Your way is your way, regardless of what others say?

Yet, there is this euphemism that I still use regarding my life. "I have no life."

This started sometime in the dark times, nearly five years ago. Somehow I became involved in a conversation about hobbies and non-work activities with a few people at work. Some rode mini bikes in the desert, some went out with their significant others, some spent time on Lake Mead, many watched television, some played cards, some gambled, some enjoyed the Las Vegas night life, some enjoyed strip clubs. After admitting that I did none of those things, someone laughed, "Ha! You have on life."

Me? When I wasn't trying to muddle through a failing relationship and taking care of my daughter, I read or drank beer. You have no life, really sank in.

About a year ago a fellow asked if I were dating. "No," I replied. "I have no life." It was sticking. After that, when people asked if I were dating, the reply was "No, I have no life." It became a stock answer to questions like, "Do you watch sports? Have you been down to Lake Mead lately? Want to go out for a bit to eat after work? Did you see the last episode of Survivor?"

The list could go on, but I digress.

Six months or so ago a lady I know and myself were discussing our plans for the weekend. She was going to clean house, do some reading and maybe go out for a beer. Me? Not much. Ride down to the Boulder Dam, then around some old access roads to the Colorado River, then up for a quiet lunch at an outside cafe in Boulder City, then over to the airport for some flight training and then maybe a ride down to Searchlight or maybe even up to Mt. Charleston. Finish off the weekend by doing some wrenching and studying my flight training books.

"Damn, Ken! You are always doing exciting things!"

Nah, I just have no life. Sorry about that... I just locked up the brakes.

I see now. That euphemism is patently untrue. If anyone hears me utter these words, please squirt me with some motor oil or thwack me with a rubber band. :-D I Got a Life!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sporty 1200C, SV650, Versys and VX800 - A Comparison

For my own edification I wanted to compare a known quantity, my Harley XL1200C Sportster with my project bike, a Suzuki VX800 and two bikes on the top of my wish list, a Kawasaki Versys and Suzuki SV650. And, here are the comparisons:

Engine Type
Inline Twin
Cooling System
Two per cylinder
Four per cylinder
Four per cylinder
Four per cylinder
Final Drive
Fuel Capacity (gal)
1203 cc
850-875 (after cylinders are bored)
Wheelbase (inches)
Seat Height (inches)
Weight (pounds)
And, for those who like visuals...

Kawasaki Versys (Personally I like the red one)
Suzuki SV650Suzuki VX800
And, of course, my Harley XL1200C Sporty Classic.

For your amusement, bemusement or what have you... Looking at the numbers, I find it interesting that the VX is not only the tallest of the three but has a longer wheelbase, coming in at 2 inches longer than my Sporty. The VX's seat height of 35 inches doesn't scare me too much. While I may find the Versys' 33 inches a bit too high, I can mod the VX.

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Deep Thinking About Motorcycles, of Course!

Ah... Motorcycles. Something my mind can actually grasp in a concrete way. Over the last month or so, my Suzuki VX800 Project has been tumbling around in my mind. Should I keep her? Should I trade her for a different project bike? Should I part her out?

A conversation with a fellow who is somewhat familiar with the VX800 this weekend helped settle these tumbling thoughts a bit. To severely paraphrase:

Him: How much money do you have in her?
Me: About $45.
Him: Title?
Me: Clear.
Him: Frame damage?
Me: Nope. All solid.
Him: Have the entire bike?
Me: Nope. No front forks, saddle, triple tree, carbs, instrument cluster, control cables, etc...
Him: Hmmm... Anything wrong with the engine?
Me: Cylinders need to be bored out, need new pistons, new valves and the heads rebuilt. Also need new final drive splines.
Him: You good with tools?
Me: I am learning. Can't do the cylinder boring, but maybe most of the other stuff.
Him: Hmmm... You have other bikes?
Me: Yup. '07 Rebel and '04 Sporty.
Him: You are single, right?
Me: What does that have to do with this? (I smile)
Him: Dating?
Me: Ah, no. I have no life. (snicker)
Him: So you have plenty of time?
Me: In a month or so, absolutely.
Him: OK, so if someone would tell you, "Pick any bike you want, and it is yours, free and clear," what would you choose?
Me: Kawasaki Versys or Suzuki SV650.
Him: And what is your favorite kind of riding?
Me: Touring, putting around places that not many people go. Some asphalt, some gravel roads, some decent desert trails. Getting too old for dirt bikes. (laugh) Sort of 'adventure riding lite.'
Him: So, if you keep her, are you out anything?
Me: Not really.
Him: So, you seem to like the naked/standard/sport bikes; not crotch rockets. You like the SV650 that is a cousin of the VX800. That little girl will do fine with most every riding situation you like. You will have plenty of time to tinker with her soon, you already have other bikes and you are out nothing if you keep her.
Me: Yup.
Him: There's your answer, my friend.

Sometimes, talking something out does help. I will keep her.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Contemplating Contemplation and the Acquisition of the Un-Sought

Leave it to mq01 to spark my synapses. Many times I read one of her blog posts and think. And think some more. And contemplate. And cogitate.

A reply to one of her contemplative posts with something as terse but well meaning as "you go girl," or "ride safe," or "keep the rubber side down," seems shallow and not appropriate for me.

So, what is this Contemplating Contemplation and the Acquisition of the Un-Sought?

There is some serious thought behind this. No, it isn't the title of a philosophical paper, just something else tumbling around in my brain. How does one think about what one wants? How does one know that is really what one wants? How should one pursue it? Or even should one pursue it? What if an undesired goal is acquired in the pursuit of another? Is that the real goal or is it something else? Is what is desired, needed? Is what is thought of as needed, simply a desire?

Several months ago I started searching for another, second motorcycle. My Rebel had done her duty and I was pleased to let her retire to a life of leisurely rides. My list of possible bikes, in order, was a Kawasaki Versys, Suzuki SV650 and maybe a Harley Davidson Sportster Iron 883. What did I find? A 2004 Sportster XL1200 Custom that I now call Athena.

Did I acquire my goal? It was not the bike I was looking for and honestly, never thought I was a Harley Davidson sort of fellow. The moment her name came to me, I knew the goal was accomplished, regardless of the initial targets.

Several months ago I started riding with a motorcycle group with very high altruistic goals. My desire was to make a difference. Now I see this group; these people; this new family affecting me; challenging me to be a better person. That was certainly not my sought after goal yet I quite pleased.

I started riding a little more that one and a half years ago, with the goal of experiencing new things that I have barred myself from. There were dreams of riding the expanses of the US and Canada on a dual-sport; high-tech mesh armor; muddy creeks; long solitary trails; evenings at a campfire with nothing but the night speaking to me.

Yet, now I ride a loud Harley with nothing but black leathers and a helmet with skull stickers. A goal was acquired, but the right one? For me, for now... yes.

One must understand and accept the possibility that what they are truly seeking may be different from what they think they are seeking.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What is it???

What is it?

That tangible force to ride.

As I await the delivery of my clutch throw out bearing, thoughts roll through my mind as small as oak leaves, as powerful as Kenworth semi tractor.

What force embraces the rare few of us who ride? Is it the freedom? The wind in our hair and face? The thumping or buzzing of raw primal power beneath us? The thought that we enjoy something the majority of the population cannot fathom?

Perhaps it it is deeper.

Living in the moment, regrets trailing behind like so many pot-holes. Taking it all in, doing what is necessary, feeling the rush of wind, time and space go by in a continual stream of consciousness.

Perhaps it is shallower.

The primal urge of reproduction and attraction of a suitable mate directs some of us to display our chrome and steel and plastic and leather plumage. Unconsciously we seek to find an accepting social group and as each of us evolve through life simply fall into the social group known as bikers or motorcycle enthusiasts.

The later is exclusive; if it is societal or sexual, that is all there is. The former, however, is inclusive; riding is everything in time and space constricted to a single moving moment.

I like the former.

Hope my parts are delivered today. I am in desperate need for a ride.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Always On Watch


On this cusp of this holiday weekend, I was reminded of the necessary vigilance those of us who stand against domestic violence must hold.

While at my bank, getting a little cash for the weekend, one of the tellers that I know returned from lunch. She seemed a little shaken as she sat at her station. I welcome her back from lunch and ask what was wrong.

Her and her boyfriend went to eat at a local fast-food joint, and while leaving they witness a man beating the hell out of his wife in the parking lot. Her shirt was ripped off and blood ran down her face, staining her jeans, dripping to the ground.

While tens of FUCKING COWARDS walked by, doing NOTHING, the teller and her boyfriend call the police and drive up to the incident. She gave the poor woman a shirt to cover her while her boyfriend took pictures of the BASTARD'S car and license plate as he left.

Domestic violence can happen ANYWHERE, ANYTIME! If you see it, at least call the police!!! Domestic Violence is EVERYONE'S business! Get off your ass and do something!!! Don't be a FUCKING COWARD! Stand up for a fellow human being! Break it up! You may get punched or hurt, but that one action may save a life!

And don't forget, men, yes MEN can be abused as well. If you see a woman smacking a man around, don't simply think, "hehe good for her. I wonder what he did to deserve that?"

Maybe, just maybe... he did nothing. Abuse knows no gender, race, religious or sexual orientation boundaries.

And to those who would beat their spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend... A warning... Hear those Harley pipes thumping? It may be me... You don't scare me.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)