Monday, December 29, 2008

As I write this, there are about 3 more days left in 2008. The new year starts Thursday and this is the first time in many years that I am considering a resolution. There are things about myself that I would like to change and the beginning of the new year is a good starting place.

Most new year resolutions fail because people are unrealistic in their goals. However, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, so I'll share my start list. I'm not sure I'll be successful in any of these endevours, but I sure can try.

Here's my list of things to start:

Health improvement.
Better foods
More excercise
Lose 50 pounds

Home improvement.
Actually spend time working on the house, not just thinking about

Rider improvement.
Schedule an Advanced Rider class

Inter-personal improvement.
Spend quality time with my wife, family, and friends

What are your New Year Resolutions? What things do you want to change?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dear Santa,

I hope this message finds you in continued good health and spirits and I send my sincerest wishes to you for a well deserved rest.

I wanted to take a moment to say "Thank you" for such a wonderful Christmas 2008. It was so good to see and hear from everyone, especially those separated from us by great distances. Many were able to rekindle old friendships and all were able to catch up with the happenings in our busy lives.

One would think that with all of the technological thingamajigs at our disposal that one would never be out of touch with each other. But no matter how easily technology makes it to communicate, it is far easier to let the busyness of our lives overwhelm us.

Shame on us for forgetting that the important things in life are not things at all. Please let this note serve as permission for you to remind me of that truth.

I must go for now, more travelling must be accomplished and I want to do some research on something I'm considering for my 2009 list. Perhaps you recognize it...

Best Wishes and Merry Christmas!

Doug C

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


From central Ohio, this family sends the very warmest of holiday wishes to everyone.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

From Russia with Love

Last week I heard on the car radio that a dome of -80ºF artic air was sitting over Siberia and had to go somewhere. While the west coast experienced its bite several days ago, it finally made it to Ohio.

This is what we awoke to this morning...

The good news is that we haven't had the precipitation that Toledo, Detroit, and Chicago received. It seems the east coast and new england area are socked in as well. Just the cold, so far. And Christmas eve promises temperatures in near 48ºF with rain.

Temperature shifts of +-40ºF make for a tough adjustments.

Ride Warm

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My wife is a cat person which makes me a cat person, sorta. We have several. Their numbers need to remain secret for fear of commitment procedures.

Anyway, this ended up in my email box with a comment about some cats loving motorcycles, too.

I dunno. You decide.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Consider this Bill

The weather guessers, both local TV types and the ones who get their paycheck from Uncle Sam, are saying some nasty winter weather is headed to central Ohio. I am so frustrated with my time constraints and the local climate, I am seriously considering winterizing Lady.

So while I consider the value of Sta-Bil keeping Lady's gasoline fresh, here's something else to consider:

On this date in 1791, the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the United States constitution, came into effect.

There have been several amendments added since but these were the first ten. How many of these have you thought about lately?

Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, the holiday tasks and appointments have almost been completed. All the parties and pageants have been attended and there is only one show attendance left on the list.

The holiday events are really cramping my ride time. This weekend the weather was perfect for winter riding: Temps ranging from 30ºF to 50ºF and mostly dry with brilliant sunshine on Saturday. Alas, I was not able to take advantage of it because of commitments.

With Ohio weather sprinkled with frozen precipitation and mornings starting out in the teens or twenties, riding regularly has been a challenge and my withdrawal from my daily commute to work on two wheels leaves me crankier than usual.

However, I have promised my wife that I shall exhibit my best holiday attitude, my best Christmas spirit in the days and weeks to come.

I can almost coast, now.

Ride safe... (When you can ride)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Things I've been chasing around in my head:

3 holiday parties down, 2 more parties, 2 pageants and 1 show to go.

Gasoline prices in central Ohio are the lowest in 5 years. around $1.50 a gallon. That's nice but it won't last.

First significant snow fall of the season this past weekend - about 2 inches. Roads are clear now but were messy over the weekend.

Temps have been acting like January, not December. About 20º F below normal. I haven't been able to ride since Thanksgiving Day and I'm cranky.

A problem PC (or a PEBKAC error) in Virginia Beach, VA I must fix remotely.

Another problem PC in Phoenix I need to diagnose remotely.

Got to create user accounts for new hires - I wish the managers would give me a day or two lead time before telling me "the employee starts today. What are the network credentials?"

Christmas shopping. I'll start in January.

Looking at this list before I click the Publish Post button, I realize that anything remotely associated with bikes and riding is definitely in the minority. That's too bad.

If I can't ride because of the cold or frozen precipitation, I guess I'll start planning rides for when the weather turns more favorable. Maybe West Virginia, or upstate New York. Or maybe Nazareth, Pennsylvania. I always wanted to tour the C. F. Martin Guitar Company. I still have 3 more corners of the state to visit: Cinci, Ashtabula, Toledo/Defiance.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All stereotypes aside, I like this video. And, no, I don't play the lotto...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"If this isn't a recession, it sure feels like one."

Those words spoken by Dennis Haysbert on television commercials for a large insurance company telling us to be cautious about buying discount insurance. Wise words regardless of the product.

I try to be cautious all the time. Frugal might be a good description of my lifestyle and purchasing habits. I used to think that the word "frugal" was disparaging. It is not. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as:
characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of

So now we find out that an independent group in Washington has officially declared the US has been in a recession since last December. Now that we know we're in a recession does that make life more difficult than it has been?
Its strange knowing what you've already suspected. Its almost like being afflicted with some unknown and undiagnosed ailment. When the doctor finally says, "You've got such and such, " you're relieved to know that "it" has a name. But what of the cure?
So, we've got a recession. Tell me about the treatment. Do I hear crickets?
If there is any optimism to be found, I heard this today: Economists are always looking backwards and when they make announcements like that above, its usually is near the end of whatever they're proclaiming. I don't know if I put any stock into that statement because I think we have found ourselves in uncharted roads. But we can always hope.
In the mean time, be frugal.
Ride Safe!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

I have been extremely busy at work.

Although I've not been able to post very much or keep up on my regular blog reading, being busy is good. With all the gloom and doom associated with the economic melt down, I'm thankful. There are multitudes that are not as fortunate.

For the past 3 weeks almost, the weather in Ohio has had a Suck Factor near the top of the scale, at least for riding. Frigid mornings, overcast skies, rain, sleet and snow with only a smattering of sun. Yet, I am thankful because my home is warm and dry and my car still gets me to and from the grocery store where the shelves are always full.

I am amazed and disheartened that as Americans we take so much for granted. In our capitalistic lifestyles we have come to expect that whatever we want, it will be available. Enough warmth, enough food, enough shelter, money, peace, toys, time. We expect with an entitlement attitude and then complain to whoever might listen when there isn't enough.

Were it not for others before us, our lives would be vastly different. And I'm grateful.

A friend sent me a link to a web site called The Gratitude Campaign which features a short video about expressing gratitude toward active military personal. This is not about whether the Iraq war is just or whether we should be there.

Its about saying, "Thanks."

And then that got me to thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday and being thankful for a lot of things.

So, thanks for stopping by and sharing your stories, insights, tips and tricks.

Here's the video.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hello Holla Shalom привет bonjour

Today is World Hello Day!

= = = = = = =

November 21, 2008 is the 36th annual World Hello Day. Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people. This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace.

World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973. Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.
= = = = = = = =

A lofty goal for 36 years. And look where its gotten us.

Prob'ly be better off riding on two wheels. That seems to promote peace and tranquility in me!

Ride Safe!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Long Weekend - Part II

This is part 2 of a 3 part ride report. Part 1 can be found here.

One of the best things about our long weekend away from home was being able to sleep in. Usually, even on Saturday mornings I rise before daybreak, either out of habit or out of necessity. But not this particular Saturday.

We didn't hit the road until about 11:00 and that was after breakfast at a Portsmouth Bob Evans restaurant. It was another bright and sunny day, although the morning air was cool.

Today's journey would take us through Manchester and Aberdeen and Ripley, believe it or not. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Our destination was probably Springfield, Ohio. The plan was to take US 52 westward following the Ohio River until either Ripley or Cincinnati and then turn north. US 52 between Portsmouth and Cincinnati was a major highway at one time. It is still well cared for but traffic is light and almost entirely local.

We left Portsmouth and traveled through Sugar Grove, Kennvale, and Buena Vista, all just wide spots in the road. About the time we got to Kennvale, I realized that my fuel gauge was blinking. In my excitement for the day, I had forgotten to fill up in Portsmouth before we left and now the tank was down to about half a gallon left.

That much fuel will normally take me about 30 miles. No problem. Or so I thought. We had to ride all the way to Manchester before we found a gas station. According to specs, my tank holds 4.1 gallons and I pumped 4.02 gallons into it.

Serves me right. I was paying too much attention to the scenery and not enough attention to important stuff, like fuel.

On impulse, I turned north on US 68 at Ripley. As soon as we got more than a couple of miles north from the Ohio River flood plain the elevation rose and the landscape flattened out. When terrain is flat roads tend to run in a straight line. This part of US 68 is like that.

Flat, wide, open areas dotted with an acre or two of trees here and there. Most of the fields had been harvested so we could see for miles.

Mt. Orab, Greenbush, Fayetteville, and Willmington are some of the towns we passed through.

It was somewhere between Willington and and Xenia that I recalled something that Dave (I think) commented on elsewhere in this blog: Young's Jersey Dairy Farm.

Teresa had never been to Young's before so I knew it would not only be a surprise but a nice treat, too.

The Young dairy farm started in 1869. They started selling milk from the farm in the 1950s. Then came ice cream and a bakery.

They now have something for everyone especially if you like ice cream or have young ones that find petting and feeding corralled goats, sheep, calves, ducks and geese enjoyable. Their website says they served approximately 1,150,000 customers in 2007.

Teresa and I spent about an hour on the farm enjoying some creamy frozen delights while we watched other people doing the same.

Then it was back on the road again, headed north through Yellow Springs, Xenia and then to Springfield.

Yellow Springs is the home of Antioch College and a major arts center. When we passed through, it appeared as though there was some kind of street fair taking place. Live music and dancing, artists and merchants displaying their work or hocking their wares everywhere.

We continued on through Xenia and then onto Springfield. Earlier in the day, Teresa had called ahead and reserved a room in a south Springfield hotel. With only a vague idea of how to reach our destination, I ended up traveling about 5 or 6 miles past where we needed to be.

I soon realized my error and pulled off onto an exit ramp and retreived the road map. We were sitting astride Lady when a rider on a Sportster turned around and pulled up beside us.

His name was Bill and wanted to know if we needed any help. Bill reminded me of Wild Bill Hickock, or at least what I imagined Wild Bill looked like.

Bill was probably in his 50s and had long, shoulder length hair that had more silver in it than anything else. He had a warm smile and friendly eyes behind his glasses and he wore light brown distressed leathers on both top and bottom with foot long fringe across the chest and down the arms and legs. A definite western theme going on.

I explained where we wanted to be and he knew exactly where I was talking about. Bill gave us great directions to our hotel and then explained that he was a pastor of a church that held biker services and invited us to attend that evening. We thanked him, promised to give the invite consideration and turned around toward our accommodations.

At the hotel, I regretted not having access to a public PC so I could send an email. We were staying in Rick Slark's backyard (Keep The Rubber Side Down) and would have liked an opportunity to meet with him. But with no advanced email it was not to happen. Next time for sure, Rick!

We had dinner at O'Charlie's and planned the final day of our adventure.

This day we covered another 150 miles at a very leisurely pace of about 6 hours. Here's a link to the Google map. LINK Tomorrow would take us us northward to Celina and then east heading for home. We would have to cover about 250 miles on our final day and I found myself longing for an extra day on the road.

(To Be Continued)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The other day I received a voice mail on my cell. When the call came in, the number displayed looked familiar but it wasn't in my contact list so I let it go to voice mail.

I got a free minute a while later and retrieved it. The voice on the recording said I was cordially invited to a rider class reunion at the dealership where I took my MSF safety class. Free pizza, I bet.

As much as I enjoy free food, worth what you paid for it most of the time, did I really want to go? I didn't know anyone in my class from a year ago and I haven't ridden with any of them since. I don't think I can remember anyone's name.

There were 12 of us in the class. We spent one evening of about 6 hours in a class room and then 2 afternoons of 6 hours each together on the course, a 2 acre parking lot with course lines painted on the asphalt. Not much time to get to know people let alone the ins and outs of motorcycling.

Here's a picture of the "range". Since training season at this location is complete, its full of cars. But every other weekend from May until October the lot is empty except for a dozen riders and at least two instructors.

Like I said, I didn't get to know my fellow classmates but there are some events that were memorable.

A pastor and his wife were there. She had never used a clutch before. On any vehicle. She had a couple of 'fallovers' but toughed it out and completed the course.

I remember her husband, the pastor, in front of me in line to start a timed run for the final evaluation. He waited for about 2 minutes while the rider/coaches compared notes or something. During that 2 minutes, he nervously revved the engine on the Rebel 250 like he was a teenager at a stoplight waiting for the green light. 2 minutes is a long time to listen to vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom. He passed.

There was a young twenty-something lady who was a Honda motorcycle mechanic which I thought was unique. I suppose it is a good thing to be able to test ride the bike you're fixing. She passed.

A husband and wife team were learning together. They were first time riders with a passion for the 'open road on two wheels' dream. Their dreams were only half realized.

The wife dropped out of the class, either out of embarrassment or realization after an incident at the end of the first day on the course. Her story serves as a reminder for me to do a check on my attention and awareness.

Like I said, it was at the end of the first day on the training course. The course, a 2 acre parking lot at this car dealership, was bordered on the back side by cars, trucks, and SUVs that were destined for the auto auction. The vehicles were lined up where the pavement stopped and gravel began and they provided a good visual boundary for the course.

The September day had been hot and tiring. My backside was aching after spending nearly 6 hours in the saddle and I was ready to call it a day.

If I remember correctly, the exercise were were learning required us to accelerate to about 20 mph and on the instructor's signal, serve to the right or left, straighten the bike out and then stop.

Almost all of us had completed the task and were gathered near the staging area about 250 feet away from where the exercise was held. That's when we heard the commotion.

The wife had completed the exercise and was instructed to turn right after her stop and then park at the staging area. For some reason, she never made the right turn and ended up planting her Rebel into the grill of one of the auto auction vehicles.

It was a good thing she only had a few feet between where she started and the cars. She wasn't able to get up much speed. She survived her first crash but opted not to participate in the rest of the course the following day. (To her credit though, she did accompany her husband.)

She wasn't injured and according to her the only thing she hurt was her pride. In explaining what happened, she said she just zoned out. She was hot and tired and lost her mental focus.

At the time, I thought, "Wow. That'll never happen the me." Wrongo, Bozo! When I'm travelling the same road everyday, and am familiar with every curve, seam, patch, and lane change, its easy to let my guard down and my mind wander.

You know you're lucky when you're still upright on your bike but can't remember the last few miles.

Has it ever happened to you?

Ride Safe!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm busier than a... well, let's just say I'm really busy. The company has had a bit of a growth spurt and we have several new employees starting in the next few days.

Each of those people need PCs configured, accounts setup, and what not. Top that off with two other projects that I'm involved with and some personal commitments, and I've run out of time for the blog.

I have 2 or 3 posts in the edit phase waiting for some pictures and other touches. Those will have to take a back seat for now.

Give me a few days and I'll get caught up.

Ride Safe!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is voting day in the United States and by tomorrow, half of us will be disappointed.
Regardless, vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Long Weekend - Part I

The plan was only a rough sketch and even then only covered the first day of our trip. There have been some places I've always wanted to visit or travel through and Friday, Saturday and Sunday was the opportunity to do just that.

Friday morning I slept in and we didn't leave the house until almost noon. The destination this day would be Portsmouth, Ohio. Normally, a trip to Portsmouth would take about 3 hours, but I had plans to stretch it out to about 5 or 6.

The sunshine was brilliant and the air was cool as we traveled SR 37 to Lancaster. I love older, nostalgic downtowns and Lancaster, while small, has been revitalized and is quaint and inviting.

We traveled US 22 to Circleville and then US 23 to Chilicothe and then Piketon. Chilicothe was the first capital of Ohio. Piketon was the home home of a uranium enrichment plant, I believe, that closed up shop and left a nasty mess to be cleaned up.

At Piketon, we turn west on SR 32. This would take us into Brush Creek State forest.

While the trees in northeastern Ohio have pretty much moved well past their prime fall colors, southern Ohio still has some great variety.

After a few miles on SR 32, we stopped at a rest area for a chance to stretch our legs. I walked over towards a bench in a grassy area when Teresa shrieked and said, "You've got bugs all over you!"

Asian lady bugs were swarming in the area and every step we took scattered dozens of them. That explained the condition of my windshield after we started riding again.

We turn north west on SR 73 for a few miles until we stopped here:

There was good news and bad news about the Serpent Mound State Memorial. The bad news was that the museum and gift shop were closed for the season, since Labor Day. The good news was that the parking was free.

Areal photos of the mounds led me to believe they covered several acres, but in actuality the site is much smaller and easily walked.

I wondered if any ancient Indian ghosts were upset by our presence. Perhaps, but they never spoke up.

After a pleasant time with the entire memorial to ourselves, we departed and followed SR 73 south and east through the Brushy Creek and Shawnee State Forests.

The roads were in great shape with almost no traffic. The combination of tree lined shoulders and the late afternoon sun created a strobe effect of light/dark, light/dark as we rode. Almost mesmerizing.

After about another hour we approached Portsmouth. Portsmouth is another of those quaint, historic towns that time seems to have forgotten about.

Except of the local state community college and the new bridge, of course.

We checked into our hotel about an hour before sunset. We traveled about 150 miles and meandered around for about 6 hours.

One incredible day down. Two more days to go. Could it get any better?

(To be continued:)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How do you know if your 3 day weekend was spent wisely?

When you travel 550 miles, through a dozen and a half counties, and are still longing for another day.

More details later...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How do you know you've been working too much? When you have unused vacation time at the end of the year!

Every couple of weeks the payroll department at my work sends out a spreadsheet with benefit hours accrued. This year I was eligible to receive 3 weeks vacation, which is very nice and generous.

The spreadsheet says I have 2 weeks available to me and I am only allowed to carry over 1 week of vacation into the new year. So, sometime between now and the end of the year I have to use up 1 week of vaca time.

I think I'll start this Friday. Maybe go to Portsmouth, Ohio in the south, or perhaps Lucas county where Micah from Lucas County Choppers calls home, way up north.

I'll fill you in when I get back.

Ride Safe!
Recently, US District Judge Edmund Sargus ruled that homeless individuals in Ohio can list their residence as a "park bench".

While I am well aware of the US history of disenfranchising voters because they were not land owners, how do we become as inclusive as possible and still maintain the integrity of the election process?

Or is unreasonable for me to use the words "election" and "integrity" in the same sentence?
Sorta like the words "politician" and "honesty".

I may have found my limit.

As far as cold weather riding goes, endurance is a calculation using temperature and time. Today's ride into work was enjoyable for about 25 minutes.

The next 15 minutes were uncomfortable.

The last 15 minutes were painful.

I think I have found my limit with the gear that I have. Its good to know where the boundaries are.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The October Ride

Several riders braved the cold temps last weekend and joined the last (organized) group ride of the year. The ride destination was Tappan and Atwood Lakes in north east Ohio and the thermometer read somewhere around 36º F when we left Newark.

There were 11 or 12 bikes in the caravan with about a dozen and a half people crazy enough - some might say driven - to venture out.

My better half wanted desperately to go, but was under the weather and spent the day in a comfy bed though she was not particularly comfortable. Since she has the photo duties on our rides, I never even bothered to take the camera. And I can kick myself for that decision because the fall colors were brilliant. You'll have to take my word for it. Sorry.

Pucker Factor I
The roads were smooth and mostly clear of any gravel except for one spot that really jacked up my pucker factor. My rear tire kicked out about a foot during a right hand curve but finally grabbed hold of solid pavement and righted herself.

It was a blind curve at the top of a hill and dropped away to the right following the contour of the terrain. I didn't see the gravel. That part of the road was in shade and I had just come out of sunlight. My speed wasn't really a factor but given the amount of aggregate on the surface, a better line into the curve would have saved me from the slide.

After the bike straightened, I looked in my rear view and saw Mike on his Road King go wide crossing the center line. Apparently, he didn't see the gravel either but he saw me slide and was able to avoid my path.

We followed the road down the hill through several shaded and sweeping curves. Near the bottom of the hill the trees cleared and I saw that after a short straight-away the road made a 90 degree turn to the left.

I looked left and followed the road with my eyes as far as I could see and then turned my attention to my immediate surroundings. There was a pasture on the left and a small farm house on the right about 30 feet from the road, very near the 90 degree left turn.

Pucker Factor II
And then I saw her. Standing at the shoulder straddling the ditch and straining her neck to reach greener grass was a jersey cow!

At first I thought to myself, "Holy Cow!" No, really.

Now, keep in mind, just 60 seconds earlier I had just escaped calamity in gravel and I was just a little hyped up, adrenalin still flowing, noticing everything and taking it all in. I looked for a possible escape route should this cow decide to wander out further into the road.

I slowed down and motioned for Mike behind me to do the same. I started to go wide, avoiding the bovine, and wondered why no one bothered to signal? There's a cow crossing the road and nobody ahead of me signaled the hazard!

What I didn't see until Bessie was about 30 feet away was the rope around her neck stretched out along the ground and tied to a stake in front yard of the farm house. The reason she was straining her neck? She was at the end of her rope!

The next 20 minutes were uneventful which let my nerves calm down. We stopped at Deersville which is really nothing more than a wide spot in the road. Several riders enjoyed a small ice cream cone (that turn out to hold about a quart of ice cream) while we stood outside the Deersville General Store and laughed about ole' Bessie.

And having hamburger for lunch.

Ride Safe!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's a head thing.

Years ago a friend tried, rather unsuccessfully I must say, to teach me how to fly fish. "Its all in the wrist," he would say to me and flicked his fly just inches from some reeds or submerged tree limb sticking out of the water.

Its more than just wrist action. It also involves a connection to the head. I must not have made the connection because I never got the hang of the technique and decided focused my recreation activities in another direction.

This morning after arriving at the office and successfully doing battle with the cold, I thought to myself, "You know, when it comes to cold weather riding, "Its all in the head." And then I remembered my lesson with fly fishing and amended my thought with, "and having the right gear!"

I check the temperature around 8:00 and saw this:

By 9:00 the sun had started melting the frost from the area roofs.

I'm really impressed with my new Fieldsheer Tour Temp jacket. After an hour of riding I had just started feeling the cold in my arms.

I have yet to purchase a heated solution for my hands - not sure if I want to go with gloves and deal with the wire up my sleeve or with heated grips - but I did find a disposable product that kept all but my fingers warm.

The product's name is Hot Hands-2 and is an aggregate mixture in a tea bag that generates heat when exposed to the air. They're marketed toward outdoor recreationist and have been around for years. A package of 4 cost me about $1.50 so I thought, "Why not?"

I tucked them into the palm of my hand and donned my gloves. They were a little bulky but after a few minutes I forgot they were there. And they stayed warm for the entire ride.

The frugal person in me put them inside a Ziploc baggie at the office and sprayed some computer "Dust-Off" into the bag to remove the air. I suspect they'll be ready to activate again for the ride home this afternoon. We'll see.

Cold weather riding is a challenge, but for me, after you have the right gear, its more mental than anything. I have to psych myself into thinking that as long as there's no ice or snow, nothing is going to stop me from riding.

Besides, I get really cranky when I don't ride every day or so.

Ride Safe!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not prepared for this. Not yet.

When I went to bed last night I knew the forecast low of 34º F was going to be higher than the actual temperature in my neck of the woods. But when I logged onto the net this morning, I was not prepared for this:

Or this:
The almanac says these are near normal temps for our area. But I'm not ready, mentally or physically, for the cold. Yet.

I got a new jacket last weekend and I never felt any cold penetration on the cold mornings I rode last week. But I need to look into either some heated grips or heated gloves, 'cause my hands got really cold.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I paused at the bedroom door. Teresa was just finishing getting dressed for work. I was about to go downstairs and fix my morning cup of joe when she said, "Are you driving into work today?"

"Yes. I'm driving." It was raining and though I can handle the wet roads, my daughter was traveling with me and she would look like a drowned rat after the 45 minute commute to her work.

As I turned to take my leave, I asked, "Will there ever come a time when I don't have to call you when I arrive at work?"

Now before you start thinking she has me wrapped around her little finger (which she does), let me explain something. I've been riding for a little over a year now with over 18,000 miles under my belt. Not much in the grand scheme of things but certainly more than your average 2,000 to 3,000 mile, first year, fair weather rider.

And every morning that I ride to work, a trip of about 50 miles, she expects a phone call soon after I arrive. She doesn't expect a phone call when I drive the quad-cycle but if I'm riding she wants to know that I've arrived in one piece. If I were cynical, I might think she was checking up on me, verifying my travel time, calculating my speed, estimating any detours or unscheduled stops. But I'm not and she isn't.

The conversation is almost always the same:

"Hi. I'm here, upright and vertical. How about you?" Those mornings that have been a little chilly she likes to emphasise the fact that she was warm and toasty in her car for the 15 minutes it took her to get to work. But regardless of the lack of variety in the conversation, a phone call she expects and gets.

Hence, my question.

She pondered what I had asked for a second and said, "Yes. Of course."

I smiled and stepped away from the doorway, already thinking about my coffee, when I heard her say, "Just send me an email."

Ride Safe!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Things I've learned over the past year:

1) Remove suicidal bugs from your windshield as soon as possible. Even though they may not impair your vision, you may get tennis elbow trying remove them after 24 hours.

2) Ten minutes of rain riding means hours of cleaning later (not necessarily a bad thing.)

3) Jacket vents only provide cooling when your moving.

4) Looking good on your (insert your type of bike here) is no substitute for riding well and well protected.

5) The shortest distance between two points is not always preferable.

6) You still get a good feeling when you fill up your tank for $12 instead of $16

7) Riders of all ilk will stop for another rider at the side of the road.

8) Calling your car or truck a quad-cycle does not provide the same effect when you drive it.

9) Your "To Do" list does NOT always have to get done.

10) Sometimes the best reason to ride is "Because."

Ride Safe!

Cooler Temps, Fewer Riders

I am disappointed though not surprised by the dwindling number of fellow riders during my commute. There were lots of bikes out during the warm parts of the day this past weekend, but the cool mornings and cold ride really puts the kabash on the enthusiasm for riding a lot of riders have.

There is, however, one rider whose dedication to a 2 wheeled commute shames me when I start thinking about mine. We have similar work schedules although we travel in opposite directions.

I passed him every morning around 6:25 and every afternoon about 4:30. He rides a BMW with hard cases and always, during the daylight, waves as we pass. That is, when ever I'm riding.

He's ridden in weather I've chosen not to challenge. I don't know his name but I admire his dedication.

Ride Safe!

Friday, October 10, 2008

(From Google images)

Central Ohio is having some spectacular fall riding weather. Cool nights and warm sunny days will bless us for the next 4 or 5 days.

If I'm not around much I'll be out riding.

To heck with the "To do" list. That stuff can wait for a rainy day.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yesterday morning was mild and wet. The rains they had forecast to arrive about 2:00am actually made their appearance at about 6:00am.

I looked outside the front door at the wet sidewalk and sneered, "We ride, rain or shine!"

I turned away from the weather and started for my gear. That's when my daughter, Nicole, informs me she needs to ride with me. Her car is out of gas and she is out of money. She knows better than to ask for money, so she asks for a ride.

Being that she does not have any rain gear, I opted to take the Civic and her to work.

This morning was dry. The skies cleared over night and cooler air moved into the area. In fact, the air was a lot cooler by about 20ºF. That made it about 42ºF.

And Nicole still has no gas or money and needs a ride.

So the choices before me seemed simple: Ride, and hope she doesn't get too cold on the 45 minute ride to east side of the big city, or drive, and silently despise the fact that I'm caging it on what is promised to be a spectacular fall day.

On the way home today, I will roll down all the windows in my Civic and pretend. But it won't be the same. Not by a long shot.

Ride Safe!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Economics of the F & E Factor

This morning, I find myself contemplating the past year of riding. I know Irondad (among others) posted a piece (one of his first, I think) about the economics of riding a motorcycle. I made the mistake that almost every first time motorcycle buyer makes and over estimated the savings of having a bike for a primary vehicle.

The first time I calculated the ownership costs I never included the fact that tires would wear out every 12,000 to 18,000 miles and replacing them would cost almost half as much as an entire set of tires for my subcompact.

Plus there is maintenance that needed done. Can't neglect that. Valve adjustments, sparks plugs, brake pads...

My original calculation were way off in favor of the motorcycle. I soon realized the error in my formula. Even though my weekly gasoline costs went from about $75 per week to $30 at $2.85 per gallon, the price of gas when I first bought Lady, maintenance costs were taking a chunk out of the fuel savings.

However, as others have pointed out, when the cost of gasoline approaches $4.00 a gallon, the savings is definitive. Even with maintenance costs, the edge definitely goes to the motorcycle.

I now realize that while my original calculations were in error because of neglecting to add maintenance costs, they were also in error because they also neglected to calculate the value of the F & E factor.

What's the F & E factor, you ask? Its not an accounting term, though it might as well be in our calculations. The F & E factor is that intangible part of motorcycle ownership often neglected. Its that part of ownership that understands why a dog always sticks their head out a window when riding in a car. The F & E factor is Fun & Enjoyment.

Lady has racked up over 17,000 miles in the past year. About 1,200 miles was a vacation to Tennessee. Another 2,500 miles were spent on shorter two-up trips. The balance can be can be attributed to my daily commute and neighborhood errands.

While I have not spent nearly as much time riding two-up as I had anticipated, the time spent was at least triple the time I'd spent with Teresa before. My passion for riding quickly became our passion for riding. When my skills improved, her passenger skills improved, too, and her F & E factor increased as well.

If I were to analyze motorcycle ownership now and compare it to automobile ownership, with the current price of gasoline (about $3.50 in central Ohio), the cost of insurance, and the cost of scheduled maintenance, my calculations would indicate a savings of about $800 this past year.

Factor in the F & E value, and the savings is immeasurable. Time two.

Ride Safe

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Here's something I found interesting happenning in Oregon...

Oregon troopers ride with truckers to catch aggressive drivers

by Kimberly A.C. Wilson, The Oregonian
October 01, 2008, 7:46 PM

A campaign targeting aggressive drivers in the Willamette Valley
snagged 38 in a two-day effort that ended today.

Officers from the Oregon State Police, Marion County Sheriff's Office and Salem Police Department worked together. Police rode in commercial trucks along Interstate 5, looking for drivers speeding, tailgating and changing lanes unsafely.

More than a third of the citations were issued for speeding, including one for a motorist clocked at 103 mph in a 65-mph zone Tuesday night. Nine went to drivers who followed too closely, six to drivers who improperly changed lanes and five for seat belt violations. Another 21 drove off with warnings, said state police Lt. Mark Cotter.

The article didn't say if any of the citations went to motorcyclist but we all know, its the cagers that cause all of our problems. Well, maybe not all of them...

Read the entire article from The Oregonian here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Today's ride into work was a little chilly. The temps hovered around 50º F and about half way to the office I realized my hands and feet were down right frigid. After an hour on the road I welcomed the warmth of the office and the office coffee.

It took me until about 10:00 am to get warm again. I think my internal thermostat needs a more gradual temperature change. Just last week the morning lows were in the 60s.

Maybe I'm just getting older.

Tomorrow morning's temp is supposed to be about 40º F. I may have to stop on the way and take a coffee break...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I moved my company's email to another hosting company over the weekend and the prep work leading up to the move and the fallout of going live today has kept me busy.

I did have a few hours this past Saturday morning free to change the front brake pads on the Lady, though. It was a rather anti-climatic task to say the least.

I put her on the jack and laid out my tools in preparation. Two bolts and one cotter pin removed (and replaced) later and the deed was done. Ten minutes, tops. "There has got to be more to this than that!" I thought out loud.

Nope. That's all.

I tested the front brakes before I started out for a Sunday ride around the neighborhood and all was good. Wow. That was easy.

The manufacturer says there is a break-in period of 200 miles of city riding, so easy does it on the stops for a while.

Now I need to work up the nerve to adjust the valves. I think I'll enlist the help of an experienced friend to look over my shoulder for that...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Walk the Razor's Edge: T-Minus 0! We have launch!

T-Minus 0! We have launch!

Walk the Razor's EWdge - T -Minus 0! We Have Launch!

Today a milestone was passed.

According to my Ohio Driver License, the state of Ohio no longer considers me to be a Novice Rider, a legal classification defined by the state for the purpose of imposing restrictions.

The restriction imposed on a Novice Rider is the use of a safety helmet. Nothing else.

So, after a year of riding more than 16,000 miles, a couple of tumbles, one ticket I'd rather not talk about, and no crashes, I graduate to... what? While the state no longer considers me to be a novice, there are days I still feel like one and I still wear my helmet.

There are many skills I have yet to master if mastery is possible. So, I shall endeavour to persevere.

"And the headline was, 'Indians Resolve To Endeavour To Persevere' We thought about it for a long time, "Endeavour to persevere"… And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union."

"Lone Watie" Chief Dan George The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Monday, September 22, 2008

A skeleton in the closet?

During a mental meandering while replying to a comment a while back, I mentioned that my maternal grandmother grew up in the Ohio Penitentiary. I am told that some of her playmates were, in fact, also inmates and guests of the state of Ohio.

(From Google Images)

Evidence abounds, though not unequivocal, of this fact. Between my mother's home and mine there are more than a few family heirlooms that at one time belonged to grandma Gertrude, gifts to her crafted by obscure and unnamed convicts.

One item in my possession is a crystal radio constructed out a small snuff box or perhaps compact. My mother has on the mantle above her fireplace a pair of brass candelabras forged in the pen's own foundry and stamped with an "R" for the family name, Reed.

What offense did she commit to find herself on the inside? Nothing. Her father, the Reverend Thomas Reed, was the chaplain for the Ohio Penitentiary in the late 1920s and, so I'm told, she would sometimes accompany him to his "office" though I personally find this improbable if not impossible.

I enjoy history and so I queried my mother about her grandfather. When was he employed there? How long did he stay? Whatever happened to him?

The answers to those questions disappeared a generation or two ago. As my mother puts it, "We didn't talk about Grandpa Reed." He got caught with his hand in somebody elses cookie jar and for a Presbyterian minister back then (or any reverend for that matter) that was an invitation to a new vocation - or at least a new location!

Gertrude as a child with her mother and father, Lucile and the Rev. Thomas Reed

The Ohio Penitentiary was built in 1834 and finally closed in 1984. Ten years later the site was sold to the city of Columbus and now the parking lot for the Nationwide Arena, home to an NHL hockey team covers the site.

The surrounding acres are covered with buildings with apartments for rent and whose landlords command $900 for a studio, 1 bath to $2,000 for 2 bedroom 2 bath townhouse every month for those that call them home.

Mom has a piece of Columbus limestone that was once mortared into part of the east wall of the penitentiary and she keeps it near some other collectibles because its part of her mother's history. The only difference between this chunk of limestone and any other is a piece of paper telling of its history and certifying it authenticity. A very capital way to own a piece of the past.

Interesting? Perhaps. That, along with 8 bits, will get you a cup of coffee. A small coffee from one of the shops in the district that once housed the Ohio Penitentiary.