Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Busy Camper - Temporarily Checking Out

As typically occurs in most every life, things get busy. In come cases it is not for the better, some it is. This situation is somewhere in the middle

-My project bike is tentatively sold and I need to arrange transportation to Kentucky.

-Work is picking up with some heavy hitting projects.

-Two or three 'side job' projects need to be finished.

-The local motorcycle group I ride with has been VERY busy in a good way and expanding, requiring more time from it's current members.

-A fellow I ride with recently went down and is in the hospital. He should recover but is pretty banged up.

-PACKING... PACKING... PACKING... My ex and I are finally financially able to make a physical split so almost every waking moment at the house is spent eating or cleaning and packing.

Those and about ten other things are keeping me more than busy. So, I am checking out of the blogging world temporarily. Ride safe, all!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Thoughts

These memories are as clear as the taste of my hot, strong coffee from this morning. The finely manicured cemeteries, the small flags carefully placed next to the headstones of veterans. The gentle scent of flowers permeated the air. As a child, every year my Grandfather would take us to local cemeteries to lay flowers on the graves of loved ones and veterans. Typically we would finish our run and eat pancakes and sausage and eggs at one of the local restaurants. While the adults talked and laughed and remembered those who passed, us children would color and play with the children from other families.

I wonder, on this Memorial Day, if parents and children still do these things. My far from normal life over the last decade and a half, ripped me far from these sort of events. Feelings of desire; ride my bike to the local Veterans Cemetery perhaps.

While the number of things lost in my life may be considerable, it is nothing compared to those men and woman who gave their life to protect our freedom. To all who have or are serving in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and all other branches, this long haired motorcycle rider thanks you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fate Intervenes

Yes, the trip is still on, but reversed... Sort of. This is a rough paraphrasing of the phone call I received two days ago.

Hello?

Ken, will you be here Saturday?

Ah, I need to check my calendar.

You MUST be here Saturday. You MUST!

What about Wednesday or Thursday.

NO! Saturday! It is VERY important. Will you be here?

(After some calculations in my head of some very long riding days, I respond.)

Ah, OK. Yes.

You PROMISE???

hehe Of course!


And we say our goodbye's and I continue working, wondering just what my friend in North Carolina was talking about. Then, the evening after we spoke on the phone, she e-mails me a little something... A wedding invitation! I was dumbfounded! She planned her wedding around when I would be there on my motorcycle trip! I was speechless! Karen, if you are reading this, Thank You!!!!! I am honored!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ready, Set, Kickstand Up! 2009 Ride Plans

There are choices like what brand of toothpaste to buy or what brand of fuel to buy or whether to go on a date with that cute & smart guy or girl you see every weekend at the local bike shop.

Then there are choices like what direction to point your bike on a long journey. There were three choices in my case this year.
1) A 5,500 mile ride up to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. This has been a long time dream. Before becoming a motorcyclist there were dreams of getting a jeep and driving there. Even before that when I was younger, there were thoughts of riding a bicycle up there.
2) A 4,000 mile meandering ride through the midwest. I am partial to slower two lane roads, small towns and relaxed riding. Few days with my family; few days with friends in Des Moines, Chicago, Milwaukee and Denver.
3) Run a 50cc test ride to Jacksonville, Florida and then meander back. What is a 50cc you ask? It is a ride from one coast of the US to the other in only 50 hours. This is a test ride, so will not push the 50 hours. The real ride will likely be in 2010.

After considering my options, I am going on the 50cc test ride.

When? I will be leaving Vegas on Friday September 18 as soon as my boss will let me go. Sunday, October 4th is my planned returned date. As I did last year, this will be a ride to raise awareness of Domestic Violence and in support of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Unlike last year when three weeks of vacation were available, there are only two weeks. Plans are a little sketchy but are solidifying...

States in order: Nevada; California; Arizona; New Mexico; Texas; Louisiana; Mississippi; Alabama; Florida; Georgia; South Carolina; North Carolina; Virginia; West Virginia; Ohio; Indiana; Illinois; Wisconsin; Missouri; Iowa; Nebraska; Colorado; Utah and Nevada.

If I know you are along my route, I will PM or e-mail you within the next week. If I miss anyone or would like to meet up with me, let me know.

Vegas to Jacksonville

Jacksonville to Burlington, NC

Burlington, NC to Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI to Denver, CO

Denver to Vegas

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bucket List

Mortality has been on my mind recently. Actually it is on my mind regularly. It is likely that most motorcycle riders have that 'last ride' thought in the back of their heads while the wind whips through their hair. It is a healthy thing, I think.

Well, I learned a new term tonight; a Bucket List. It is simply a list of things one would like to do before they die. It is not a morbid thing, really. Death is the terminus of life. What we do between birth and death define us as individuals and as a culture.

One article I read tonight states that a person should have 100 items in their Bucket List. For me, that seems a bit optimistic, but what the heck.
  1. Learn to fly a plane (done, but ran out of money before I could finish)
  2. So... Get my pilot's license.
  3. Ride a motorcycle to the Arctic Circle.
  4. Ride a motorcycle to Barrow, Alaska.
  5. Ride a motorcycle cross country. (Done in 2008)
  6. Be a published author. (Well, sort of, if an early 90's computer programming magazine counts.)
  7. Own a small piece of land where I can raise my own food. I mean OWN. No mortgage; all paid for.
  8. Build my own house of stone.
  9. Refurbish a motorcycle. (Working on that now Project Vixen)
  10. Build a super-computer. (Ya, I am a geek and did have one started and running a few years back, but what does one do with a Linux cluster super-computer?)
  11. Ride a motorcycle coast to coast in Canada.
  12. Ride a 50CC (Coast to coast in the US in 50 clock hours).
  13. Ride a 100CC (Coast to coast and back in the US in 100 clock hours).
  14. Earn my Iron Butt (1000 miles in 24 hours).
  15. Breed orchids and create a new hybrid.
  16. Ride the TAT (Trans-American Trail)
  17. Circumnavigating Australia on a motorcycle.
  18. Write a book and have it published.
  19. Ride 100,000 miles in a year.
  20. Learn more about my Native American heritage. (I am 1/8th Inuit or some other culture from Canada)
  21. Learn another language. I already know English and can use sign language respectfully. Maybe Spanish or Russian.
  22. Build my own airplane and fly it.
Wow. This is rather easy. Unfortunately it is past my bed time; don't want to be grumpy at work tomorrow. There are more.

Oh, and for you wondering; no, I am NOT jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. I will leave that for other adventurers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Sign

It happens. One asks "Should I ride today?"

"Should I wash the bike or go for a ride in the storm?"

"Should I get a different bike or fix my poor broken down ride?"

Sometimes we ask for signs; beware because sometimes we get them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek - WOW!

For as long as I can remember, my minimal television and movie viewing activities has orbited around the absolute ridiculous and science fiction. As a child I was equally a fan of Bugs Bunny, as well as Space: 1999, UFO and Dr. Who. A child who can explain the basic tenants of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, including the Lorentz Contraction in third grade does not typically fall into standard classification. Actually, that was rather enjoyable.

Anyway, I am not a classic Trekkie with fake Vulcan ears in my dresser or a copy of Shakespeare translated to Klingon in my bookshelf. Call me a borderline Trekkie if you will. I do have a nifty Starfleet Academy pen somewhere. Regardless, I needed to get out of the house today.

My 18 year old daughter, her boy friend and my ex-wife were all going out to watch the new Star Trek movie and I had an open invitation. So, what the hell. I hadn't seen a first run movie since Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 1999.

No spoilers here, but I will admit it was damned good. There was one big hole in the plot, or I thought there was until my daughter's boy friend explained it. So, if you like Sci-fi I highly recommend it.

Now, what does this have to do with motorcycles? Well, James T. Kirk was riding an electric sports bike early in the movie but don't remember the brand. Anyone? I will admit, it certainly did NOT look comfortable. Maybe a Moto Guzzi?????



The Riding Decision

There is quite a bit written about the sometimes difficult choice whether to enjoy an elective ride or not. It is 68 degrees, crystal clear blue sky, slight breeze from the South, nearly deserted roads at 7AM. So, why not?

There is no tangible force or entity pushing for the ride to happen or not. The bike is in great condition, I am well rested and hydrated. Why not?

It is the slight tickle at the point of interface between conscious and unconscious. No reasoning or hard evidence. No presentation of facts to evaluate or arguments to consider. It is a beautiful day! Why not fire up my 1200 cc Harley and just ride to no where in particular? Why not?

Some things are simply not meant to be understood; simply accepted.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

RIP Anita Zaffke - Paint Your Nails Black!!!

According to news reports, Illinois motorcyclist Anita Zaffke was struck from behind by a car, driven by a woman not paying attention to her driving. What was she paying attention to? According to news reports, she was paying attention to painting her fingernails!!!

So, in remembrance of this woman, this mother, this motorcyclist, please paint your fingernails black take a picture and send the photos to my e-mail addy - kc7rad@gmail.com They will be used in an upcoming website to memorialize those riders who have passed, and help bring awareness of motorcycles to those who drive cars and trucks.

You can read more here:
Chicago Breaking News
Chicago Tribune
News 7
ABC News
Chicago Sun Times
Chicagoist
New York Daily News
Visor Down
Chicago Daily Herald

This is from the News 7 article...
"
In the meantime, Anita Zaffke's son wears black nail polish to bring attention to the need for stricter penalties for people who hurt motorcyclists like his mom.

"I'm sure there are motorcycle groups who would like to hear about this story and potentially help us get the story out," said Greg Zaffke."

Most of us have lost a friend or family member while they were riding or driving. Paint 'em up!


Thought for the Day...

For some, the most sublime comfort is a solo ride on a long lonely road.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Another one of THOSE days.

Yes, one of THOSE days. As with any day that falls into the THOSE category, the day starts about a week before.

On-Call. I am a computer programmer by trade and part of my responsibility as a senior computer programmer where I work is being on the On-Call rotation. Each are assigned a week and are responsible for handling any back-office applications issues that may arise, any hour of the day or night.

While usually the problems are minute or can wait until morning, there are some that require the on-call programmer to drive (or ride in my case) into work and manually intervene. This week there were some of both.

Tuesday and Wednesday morning, about 1:30 AM both times I was awoken by the phone. A nightly job had generated an error and the security guard called me. Luckily the program that crashed was one that needed no manual intervention. That not withstanding, the calls were still interruptions to my sleep.

Friday morning, about 2AM the automated systems started sending me SMS alerts; sort of an automated "Something is wrong... Help me!" sort of thing. That required a ride in, and about four hours repair time. Instead of coming home, catching a few Z's and going back in, I stayed and finished my eight hours.

Then, instead of getting some sleep or relaxing, I clean the garage in preparation of my ex-wife's garage sale. Long story, don't ask.

Then, that evening about 10PM I start receiving SMS alerts again. These I can ignore. The ones I get at 1:30AM, I can't. I go in, make a quick repair and skeedadle back to the garage where I finish getting things setup.

The garage sale goes on.

Now, this is where the poor judgement kicks in. Earlier I had committed myself to attend a bike show Saturday afternoon. So, I ride there after slamming 16 ounces of RedBull and a couple cups of coffee. I ride up and my friends motion to a parking space saved just for little ol' me.

I ride past the spot a few feet and shut the engine off. Then I proceede to back up.

Just before feeling a slight nudge and nautia, a woman I know yelled for me to stop. I had backed up too far. My left turning signal nudged my buddy's bike's engine guard.

POP

Damn. Now I have a dangling turning signal stem. Maybe a whole pot of coffee next time.