Sunday, August 31, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

The missus want this on our wish list...

The missus wants this on our wish list...

I said, "Yeah. Right." Until I saw this...

And then I said "Wait. What?? Why not?"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Honing Defenses

About half of my daily commute is on I-270, the outer belt that encompasses Columbus, Ohio. I travel the northern section and about half of the west side. And, of that super slab, most of it is three lanes with some sections adding a four or fifth.

(Not my commute, thank God!)

My entry and exit points are pretty hectic areas with cars merging and jockeying for position. After riding this route for 11 months, I can almost always tell which car is going to try and invade my space, usually in these areas.

Its the car that is merging onto the expressway sometimes following other cars also merging but always a little impatient with the pace of the merge. The vehicle will make their lane change before the cars in front of them and not seeing me in the adjoining lane, decide to take two lanes and pass the pack.

Invariably, this driver will not take the time to turn their head to the left and actually look to see if the lane is empty. They barrel on over.

I've come to expect this and I'm always on the edge of my floor boards looking for an escape route. My escape might be the the next lane left or maybe the space behind me - just by rolling off the throttle, Lady can brush off 10 mph in a second or two.

My favorite lane to ride is the number one lane, closest to the median or barrier wall. In this lane cars can only run over you from the rear and from the right and by staying in this lane, I figure I've decreased my crash chances by about a third.

But the number one lane is also the fast lane - I've never seen a diamond lane in this state. The fast lane travels about 15 to 20 mph over the posted speed limit which is 65 in this neighborhood.

The fine for speeding in Ohio is prorated depending on how far over the limit one was clocked. And Ohio loves to ticket speeders! The list above was compile from a survey of motorists and not actual statistical data, but their perception is pretty accurate, as far as Ohio goes, I think. Everyday I see at least a half dozen cars stopped swapping stories with an officer!
A 15 mph violation costs about $150, something I can sorely afford, so I spend most of my time in the number two lane constantly watching for the driver that plans on invading my space.
Sometimes I think I'd like to have an automated pea shooter on Lady to nail those drivers as they encroach. Something with a small tank of compress air and a reservoir of navy beans...
Or maybe a Taser for cars...

Walk the Razor's Edge: T-Minus 30 Days and Counting


Walk the Razor's Edge: T-Minus 30 Days and Counting


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Long Range Forecast published an AP report today previewing the weather predictions of The Farmer's Almanac and while I don't pay much attention to forecasts that guess the weather further out than a day or two, it is something to talk about. After all, one thing Ive 'noticed about motorcycle enthusiasts, if we're not talking about rides we're talking about the weather.

The wrote, "The almanac's 2009 edition, which goes on sale Tuesday, says at least two-thirds of the country can expect colder than average temperatures, with only the Far West and Southeast in line for near-normal readings." Entire article is here.

That last part is probably good news for those riders Washington, Oregon, and California. I suspect there will be mornings this winter when the heat of sweltering +100ยบ F days endured by riders will be fondly remembered.

Personally, I can handle the cold. It just takes the right gear. By the way, did you noticed the difference between the old and new wind chill charts/formula? The old windchill chart didn't indicated any decrease in chilled temperatures after 40mph. The new ones (2001) usually display the wind chill up to 60mph. Somehow, I think I'll feel warmer this winter if I keep using the old chart.

Old Chart/Formula

Current Chart/Formula

Winter precipitation in the Buckeye state is what puts the brakes on riding, though. And the Almanac says,"...above-normal snowfall for the Great Lakes and Midwest, especially during January and February, and above-normal precipitation for the Southwest in December and..." blah, blah blah...

They say the Almanac has an accuracy rate of around 80 - 85% which is probably as good as some weather guessers, I suppose. My take on it is this: Its a good place to find a compilation of historical meteorological data.

However, if you want to know the weather in your neighborhood, use this method...

From Google Images

Ride Safe.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sunday Afternoon in August

Yesterday I had a rather lengthy post about a road trip through southern Ohio ready to publish and in seconds Blogger erased my work and saved a copy of the now empty text box. Bummer.

So, instead of recreating the work – which was probably too wordy in the first place – I’ll just post some of the pics and provide a brief description.

You see all kinds of things on the road. Here’s someone with a new purchase.

Years ago, when we moved into the home we live at now, we had a cast iron claw foot tub. We yanked it out and sold it for $100. Now days, I could probably get $500 for it. Oh well.

We took SR 159 out of Lancaster towards Chillicothe. The views from the road were mostly corn and soy beans.

We stopped at The Great Seal State Park which was not so great unless you have a horse to ride. So we continued on to Athens and then to Burr Oak State Park.

The park has a lodge and restaurant. The menu was modest but the view over Burr Oak Lake was pretty awesome.

And the park has plenty of deer with little fear of humans. You can bet that with 3 fawns beside the road, at least 2 doe were nearby.

We traveled SR 78, a designated Scenic Byway, to McConnellsville.

This route is in the same area as the famed Ohio Triple Nickel, SR 555. I’ll ride that route someday but it will probably be solo as Teresa loves the wind in her face, but not so much the leaning required for the curves.

Crossing the Muskingum River at Malta and McConnellsville.

Traveling SR 60 north to Zanesville, riding in tandem with our shadow.

The sun had set before we headed west and home again. It was a great ending to a great ride.

One last indulgence if you don't mind. A story: Between Chillicothe and Athens on US 50 is a wide spot in the road with about a dozen residents. As soon as I passed the sign I had an overwhelming sense of deja vu. And then it hit me: I have been here before.

When I was about 8 years old, my mother, grandmother, sister and I traveled this same route. When we came to the village sign, my grandmother pulled the car over to the side of the road and said, "Get the camera. We need to take a picture!"

I dutifully grabbed my Kodak Brownie camera and exited the car with them and took a picture of the three of them bent over in front of the Prattsville sign. Fortunately, their backsides remained covered.

This time around I felt a strange compulsion and had to do the same showing what some have said is my best side. Ride Safe.

Coast to Coast Ride

Ken over at Walk the Razor's Edge is planning a cross country trip on his Rebel 250, something he's wanted to do for a while. And he thought that if he was going to ride, why not ride for a worthy cause.

He's riding for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and will be leaving the Las Vegas area heading for the east coast at the end of September. Its a sponsored event and worth your time to check out and consider supporting.

He's setup a website separate from his blog to promote the event. The trip itinerary is posted and you can see if he'll be traveling through your neck of the woods.

I've never done very much blatant promotion for myself, but I'm a pretty good cheerleader. You'll notice the promo gadget on the top right of this page. It'll take you to his Ride Site. I'll keep it up there until he completes his trip.

Ken, like me, is a fairly new rider whose enthusiasm is contagious. So spend 3 or 4 minutes checking out his Blog and his Coast to Coast Ride Site.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Can You See Me Now?

Two minutes ago I was ready to click the Publish Post button on a rather lengthy post about our weekend ride to Chilicothe, Athens, Gloucester, and a dozen places in between.

However, in a moment of defiance, Blogger erased my work and automatically saved a copy of the now erased text. Crap!!

So, while I gather my composure, I'll post a followup to a comment about the reflectivity and visibility of the Fieldsheer jacket I found at a yard sale.

I may still add some additional clear reflective material to the back side of the saddle bags and maybe some reflective decals to the helmet. But this is certainly better than just the running lights and license plate.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blogging and Subsciptions

There's been some blog template changes lately on the sites that I visit. The latest was Dan Batemen's Musings of an Intrepid Commuter, but Steve Williams' Scooter in the Sticks has had some minor changes too.

As I mentioned to Dan after reading about his changes and then visiting his site, most of my blog reading is done through a "reader", in my case, the Google Reader. Readers are a special web site that collects new posts from your favorite blogs and displays them all in a single convenient location.

The Google Reader does a good job of displaying text and pictures, and even video that has been embedded in a post, but sometimes photos are are limited to the first 1 or 2. And since only posts are displayed, whenever someone makes a change in their template that change goes unnoticed by the subscriber.

Another thing I've noticed about the Google Reader is that, often times, the newly published content from a site is collected just moments after it has been published. This has provided some unintentional insight to some of the bloggers I subscribe to and may have provided others with undesired insight into this blogger.

Here's a typical scenario:

A blogger publishes something on their site as a test or rant or something not ready for prime time. A few moments pass and they get the results of their test or think better of posting their rant or whatever, and they save the post as a Draft or maybe delete it.

If the Google Reader retrieved a copy of the post sometime between its publish time and before it was re-saved as a Draft or deleted, some or all of the content of that post is still available to subscribers via the reader. Hence the potential of having unwanted content 'out there', sorta the cyberspace version of an open fly.

Hmmm. I wonder how amny blunders I've made...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Strange Things I Saw Today
  • A Goldwing rider wearing a florescent green T-shirt with a SAFETY logo on the back and NOT wearing a helmet.
  • A little red compact car with the license plate JCOOL on the back and the driver's 5 year oldish daughter in the front seat.
Things I Need To Add To My Bike
  • New front brake pads for better stopping.
  • Driving lights for better visibility.
  • A convenient way to carry my guitar.
  • A bumper sticker for the tailgaters to use as an excuse for running into me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Well, it would not have been my first choice, but you know what they say about gift horses.

I wrote several weeks ago about how I've been wearing my 20+year old jean jacket for summer riding. The jacket provided a minimum of protection from possible road rash should the unthinkable happen but it was not very cool on hot days.

Being the procrastinator that I am and at best, reluctant to spend money I have ridden with it all of this summer. Other riders in t-shirts and one or two in shorts have asked me, "Aren't you hot?" My response has always been, "Yes, but as a new rider, I figured I needed the protection more than anyone else."

The jean jacket has finally gone back into the back of the closet for now - I'm also a pack rat and have the hardest time parting with stuff - because I found a bargain at a garage sale that was too good to turn down.

Its a textile jacket by Fieldsheer with high contrast red, white and black colors and it has the reflective stripping for my increasingly more frequent night riding. There are vents in the front and back. And it fits.

The styling is more towards the sport rider but I've never been one that fit easily into a mold - I ride a cruiser and wear a full face helmet! And the best part? $30.00. I guess I can't make fun of my wife's yard sale propensities anymore.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

FHP Safety Campaign

The Florida Highway Patrol is concerned about motorcyclist safety and has launched it's "Ride Proud. Dress Loud" campaign.

The article states that the "campaign, which runs through September, encourages riders to avoid black, gray, beige and other neutral colors. It is a response to the spiking number of motorcycle fatalities as more bikers have taken to the road because of rising fuel costs."
Something irondad and others have been practicing for years.
I think I could like green chaps if I had a matching jacket...
Read the entire article here.

There Goes the Sun

It has been happening since the 3rd week of June.

I've noticed it for a couple of weeks but I didn't want to admit it.

Its something I knew was happening and was powerless to stop it or change it.

The days have been growing shorter and finally I cannot deny the obvious any longer because today is the third day this week that a major portion of my commute will be in darkness.

Subconsciously, for the past couple of weeks, I believe I have been delaying my departure from home so that I could enjoy the daylight. That is no longer possible since I leave home around 6:00 and sunrise today is 6:32.

Central Ohio will lose about 2 minutes of sunlight each day.

It doesn't seem fair but it is what it is.

Unless I relocate further south... Maybe I should just start riding south.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Weekend Ride West

The weekend came and the grass needed cut and there were items on my "to do" list that kept getting bumped further down. But this was the day of the group ride. The list could wait.

The ride did not take us to northwest Ohio and to Hudson Leather like I had guessed it might.

Instead we traveled mostly west through Centerburg, Delaware, Marysville, Plain City and finally Springfield. While I’m sure that each burg has its own claim to fame, the ones of which I am aware are Delaware and Marysville. Delaware is home to The Little Brown Jug, a harness race for horses. And, of course Marysville is home to a large Honda manufacturing site where they don’t make motorcycles anymore.

Near Marysville, we stopped at a covered bridge to stretch our legs and take a picture. Some people are fascinated by covered bridges. I’m fascinated by what history a covered bridge might hold.

This bridge had been completely renovated a few years back so while it may have history, it looks like it was built yesterday.

After a few group pictures to prove we were there, we headed off towards Urbana.

We stopped for lunch at the Robert Rothschild Farm, a restaurant, gift shop and scenic garden located near Urbana.

The food was a little upscale and very enjoyable. I had a Panini Reuben. Another rider had a salmon burger with capers. The cheese cake was good, too.

The gift shop had fare ranging from candles and incense, to sauces and preserves. Not too much bike stuff unless you count the “I was here” T-shirts.
And, so there would be something for the kids they also had some kidds for petting, though I've had my fill of goats years ago when my sister adopted a pair.

We soon left and headed towards Springfield, the area where Rick Slark from KTRSD calls home. Our destination was Competition Accessories, “The Motorcycle and ATV Mega Superstore.”

I've heard of mega malls and been to superstores but this place bills itself as one better - a Mega Superstore.

And it was big. About 40,000 square feet of new and used motorcycles and ATVs, parts, apparel, gear, and anything chrome.

There was only one Harley I saw and it was traded in for something new and not American.

It may have been a mistake for Teresa and me to come here because Teresa saw something she couldn't live without and the only way I could exit the store was if she were the new owner of a pink half helmet.

Of course, I had no alternative because, as everyone knows, “When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” She does look awful cute with it on, though.

Our next stop was the local Harley-Davidson dealership, Mid-Ohio Harley-Davidson. As I mentioned before, it seems that stopping at a Harley dealer is a prerequisite whenever this group rides.

We entered the showroom and the bikes were beautiful and shinny.

Everyone ooohed and aaahed and drooled over the American icons. I admired the craftsmanship and chuckled to myself at how the riders, who were so proud of their iron horses a moment ago, believed their bike was now second rate and they needed the newest model.
No one gave into the call to upgrade on this trip so after about 45 minutes we gathered outside before we headed home.
Lee & Shirl and Kenton & Saundi needed to return by a more direct route, being a little pressed for time, and so we split into two groups, the pair of riders getting home about 2 hours before we did.

We were gone from about 9:00am until about 8:00pm and tallied close to 200 miles; a leisurely pace by any measure. My "to do" list was still waiting for me Sunday but I count the day with these friends on two wheels as time well spent. I'll mow the grass another day.

Ride Safe

Doug C

Monday, August 4, 2008

After visiting with my mom Sunday night, Teresa and I mounted Lady and prepared to leave. We said our goodbyes and started down the gravel driveway.

Teresa hollered, “Oh look!” and two large white tailed deer took off along the wood line parallel to the road, headed the same direction we intended.

There are always deer on Mom’s property. She lives about 10 miles from the city in a rural area. I swear she puts out a block of salt for them to lick but she swears not. Anyway, it was that time of the evening when the deer start moving around and extra caution has to be taken by both motorcycles and cars.

I’m always cautious at this time in her neck of the county and so I kept our speed down until we passed the same deer again about 300 yards away. Near the bottom on the hill, they turned into the woods and I gave Lady some throttle going up the other side.

We crested the next hill and what I saw immediately caused me to move to the right side of my lane: Two riders on horse back, staggered side by side, galloping up the hill on their side of the road.

I slowed and engaged the clutch to quiet an already quiet engine but the horses were spooked and put out all fours in an effort to stop. They probably were shod with shoes and we were on brand new asphalt pavement.
The horses lost the footing and went down, falling on their sides toward the center of the road, spilling the riders.

I came to a stop and Teresa jumped off so I could make a “U” turn on the narrow road. We met the equestrian riders, a mom in her late 30’s and a teenage girl I assumed was her daughter.

They said they were fine, but I could see differently. Mom was bleeding from a bump on the forehead and the girl had some nasty bruising or road rash near her waist and hip.

I opened a packet of Windex paper towels and tried to clean the mom’s wound. It must have stung like the dickens but it was the only clean cloths I had. The mom said they only lived around the corner and would walk the horses back.

I’m sure this was not how they expected their evening ride to end.

As we left them to continue our journey home, I couldn't help but feel responsible for their injuries. My head says, “It’s not my fault. They weren't wearing any headgear and I couldn't control the actions of the horses.” My heart says, “We should've picked another way home.”

Would've. Should've. Could've.

In the end, the equestrian riders were a little banged up. The horses, while a little skittish, were uninjured. And this rider was reminded of the importance of wearing safety gear.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tuesday night was our informal bike rally at a local pizza eatery and many of the friends we ride with were gathered there. As I've mentioned in a previous post, they're mostly Harley riders but there are a couple of riders that stray from the pack. Rick and Shirley arrived on the Goldwing (they left the HD Ultra at home) and Jerry came on his Vulcan.

Absent from the gathering were Mike and Diana and their neighbor Keith. Diana was the one that had the flat tire on the way back from the Farmington, PA trip.

That's Keith in the white helmet and Diana in the red tank top.

When I asked about them one answer came forth from several people: Sturgis. The rest of the story, however was soon to follow.

After arriving at their destination, Keith got a phone call about a death in the family and after staying the night left the next morning.

Shortly after hearing this story Keith pulled into the parking lot and joined us. He was 30 minutes from home and saw the gathering of bikes and decided to stop. He had been on the road for 28 hours with a 4 hour delay for a flat tire and a short snooze about 3:00am that morning. If he walked a little stiff no one could blame him!

His trip from Sturgis, SD was about 1,400 miles, definitely Iron Butt territory.

This loose group of riders is planning a trip this Saturday. Destination: unknown, but the direction of travel is northwest. It doesn't really matter where we end up, we're just looking forward to the time spent together.

We might find ourselves going to Hudson Leather in Pioneer, Ohio but that's about a 4 hour trip one way.

One stop that was mentioned was the G & R Tavern in Waldo, Ohio - Home of World Famous Fried Bologna Sandwich. I guess people travel from afar to see and eat at this place. License plates on cars and bikes from half a dozen states can be found in the parking area. All because of a sandwich with an inch thick slab of fried bologna.

If we stop I'll put on my food critique's hat and post a report.