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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Did you miss it?

It might sound out of place anywhere but near the Florida coast - well, alright, it would sound out of place just about anywhere - but did you celebrate...

Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19, 2008

Me neither. Arrrrgh!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A couple of weeks ago several of us took a ride to Akron to visit Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. That post has been delayed due to the climactic end with two riders going down after one of them struck a deer.

The riders are recovering from the injuries (Donna spent over a week in the hospital!) and time has permitted me the opportunity to share some pictures.

The ride to Akron followed rural highways nearly entire way. We took US 62 to Martinsburg dodging road apples let by the area's Amish horse power and then traveled SR 541 to Shreve. In Shreve we turned onto SR 226 and rode to Wooster.

When we reached Wooster it was about 11:00am and more than a few stomachs were growling as if we hadn't eaten for a day. So when we passed the Wayne County Fair Grounds during the county fair, it took the determination of Captain Ahab for many of us to continue onward.

Out of Wooster we traveled SR 585 nearly all the way to our destination. Where we found this:

The house was built by F.A. Seiberling, founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Research and design started in 1912 and construction was completed in 1915.

The house sat on an estate of about 1000 acres at the time, and was so far away from civilization that a railroad spur was built to bring in all of the building materials and workers. The property now consists of about 70 acres.

And of course the required group photo before we entered the house/museum.

No photos are permitted inside the house so all I can tell you is that there are 65+ rooms, over 20 fire places, an indoor pool, and steam heat throughout.

The house was wired for electricity, of course, and there were multiple telephones scattered here and there, but the telephones were always in closets because the Seiberlings didn't want the new technology to spoil the "authentic tudor decor".

The back of the house has a nice garden and water feature and is rented out for weddings.

And a Japanese style garden on the edge of the woods.

A sun dial caught my eye outside. The 2 faces are for AM and PM time. The sun dial mottoes are in Latin and translates roughly to Rising in the East and So Passes the Hour (I think).

The children of the senior Seiberlings donated the house and all the remaining property to a foundation created to maintain everything as a museum in the 1950s. I guess most all of the old money was gone and none of the kids could afford the upkeep. There loss is our gain.

As we were leaving, I noticed one architechural feature on the horse barn, er sorry, the Carriage House, that had escaped my eye earlier. The slate shingle on the roof get smaller as they approach the peak. The shingles at the edge are about 20 inches wide and the ones near the top are about 6 inches wide.

I don't know if this technique is an engineering design or just for visual effect, but the symetry was pleasing.

We retraced our path toward home until we reached a delightful eatery near Smithville called The Barn with a buffet of plain jane, home cooked food that was not home cooked but still delicious.

While we waited for our table number to be called I took the time to photograph some of the bikes.

Here's Lady with her side walls less than white.

Our leader person, Dave's Electro-Glide next to Diane's Shadow.

Milo's Honda with his straight pipes. [Note to self: Don't follow Milo anymore without ear protection!]

And Donna's Suzuki Bergman 400 that does not look like this since she hit the deer.

Aside from Donna crashing into the deer and Ron crashing to avoid Donna the trip was great. I know. It almost sounds like "the operations was a success, but the patient died" but in reality, it was a great ride.

The roads were smooth, the weather was dry and the company was enjoyable. Just a couple of words of caution: Avoid the road apples. Watch out for Amish carriages. Be watchful for deer.

Ride safe.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Return to Power

The American Electric Power (AEP) utility crews did a good deed for us yesterday; they restored power to our neighborhood. AEP is the power provider for much of the state including our area, however it probably wasn't an AEP crew that did the work.

Last Saturday, before Ike visited us, AEP sent many crews to Texas to help restore power and normalcy to the real victims of the hurricane. When the remnants of IKE came this way, they contracted with power crews from Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Still, some residents won't be back on the grid until Saturday.

Now, if I can only get my cable (and Internet and phone) restored...

Here's some video I took before the winds got really strong Sunday and before I came to my senses and realized the potential danger I was in.

Looking back, our family is quite fortunate. We only lost power. This storm took out mature trees, trees that had graced its surroundings for 75, 100, and even 200 years.

This homeowner lost his front porch.

And this one lost his car and his garage, not to mention the 200 year old hackleberry tree.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back Online

Hurricane Ike blew through Ohio Sunday afternoon (yes, a hurricane in Ohio!!!!) and both my home and office went dark Sunday night.

The office power was restore last night but it might be until the weekend before our home has electricity.

We heat with gas and are on city water so we can cook and wash. And we have a crank radio for news and entertainment. But when the sun goes down, it's fire up the coleman lantern, light the candles, and watch radio.

It's like camping. Without the campfire so don't listen for any of us sing songs.

The good news is, the temps are moderate and no rain was associated with the hurricane force winds (79 mph sustained winds for a time Sunday.)

Any generators for sale at the local stores were sold out sometime Monday morning and I'm guessing that most of them were sold to our neighbors judging by the noise produced all night long for the past three nights.

If power is still out tonight, I may join the cacophony with a loaner from someone whose power is back on. We moved perishables from our freezers and refrigerator to other homes Monday so the urgency has passed. But I would really like to have a decent morning cup of coffee that didn't take 25 minutes to perc on the stove.

Please pass me the cheese and crackers to go with my whine... thank you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Walking away from a crash

A friend sent me this link to an interesting article published by the (Canadian) National Post.

Walking away from a crash
David Booth, National PostPublished: 9/5/2008 12:00:00 AM
It's probably the best thing to happen to motorcycles since the swingarm rear suspension and yet it doesn't make bikes go any faster. You might only ever use it once, yet it may be the most important purchase you ever make. Every bike should have one, but only one does and it may just save your life one day.

read more
The Lady is over due for some maintenance tasks, things like checking nuts and bolts, oil and filter change, and clutch and brake adjustments. And since this weekend's forecast is a bit soggy, it will be the perfect time to tackle the list. So I'll be in the garage if you need me. If I don't resurface by Sunday night, tell my wife.

In the mean time, there is this article, written by Cornel Nistorescu, manager of "Evenimentul Zilei" newspaper(Romania), and published in the 24 September issue, 2001.

The archived original can be found here, and it is copied in its entirety, without permission, below.

Ode To America
by Cornel Nistorescu

Why are Americans so united? They don't resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct, others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are. Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colours of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!".

Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different tv channels. There were Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Silvester Stalone, James Wood, and many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together. The American's solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert. I don't know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America didn't sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you weren't able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests. I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds or thousands of people. How on earth were they able to sacrifice for their fellow humans? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.

Only freedom can work such miracles!

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

To which I say,

Ride Safe and free!

September 11, 2001

Where were you when you heard the news?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The informal bike gathering at The Pizza Cottage had only a few riders last night, mostly due to the temps, I think. Even though the sun came out around noon the temperatures never got out of the 60s (f).

The topic of discussion for those in attendance was motorcycle safety and the weekend deer crash by Donna and Ron. After attending over a dozen of these gatherings, this is the first time anyone has discussed safety. Its too bad that something like this has to happen before we take the time to talk safety.

The consensus among the group of about 10 riders - half of which had ridden for more than 20 years - was this:

  1. Deer are unpredictable. Always be on the look out for them and during late afternoons and evenings, slow down in typical deer areas; 30 mph tops unless you're following car traffic.
  2. Deer whistles may or may not work. If you have an extra $5 for a non-electric model or an extra $75 - $100 for an electric one, put one on your bike. But follow point #1.
  3. Review the ride rules before each ride. Put your pride or your sensitivity away.
  4. If the ride is lengthy take frequent breaks. Fatigue leads to inattention.
There was some disagreement as to whether new riders should be near the front of the group or the back. The reasoning for putting them near the back was, if they crash, they won't take out other riders. I'm not convinced about that.

And, I found at least one other rider that doesn't like to ride with his high beams on during the day- says the high beams remove the motorcycle's silhouette and judging speed and distance is difficult for drivers. I tend to agree. Better to put additional or auxiliary lighting on a bike.

Got any other suggestions?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Group Riding Basics

Here is what the Ohio BMV says about group riding:


Small groups make it easier and safer for car drivers who need to get around them. A small number isn’t separated as easily by traffic or red lights. Riders won’t always be hurrying to catch up. If your group is larger than four or five riders, divide it up into two or more smaller groups.


_ Plan – The leader should look ahead for changes and signal early so “the word gets back” in plenty of time. Start lane changes
early to permit everyone to complete the change.
_ Put Beginners Up Front – Place inexperienced riders just behind the leader. That way the more experienced riders can watch them from the back.
_ Follow Those Behind – Let the tailender set the pace. Use your mirrors to keep an eye on the person behind. If a rider falls behind, everyone should slow down a little to stay with the tailender.
_ Know the Route – Make sure everyone knows the route. Then, if someone is separated they won’t have to hurry to keep from getting lost or taking a wrong turn. Plan frequent stops on long rides.


Maintain close ranks but at the same time keep a safe distance to allow each rider in the group time and space to react to hazards. A close group takes up less space on the highway, is easier to see and is less likely to be separated. However, it must be done properly.

_ Don’t Pair Up – Never operate directly alongside another rider. There is no place to go if you have to avoid a car or something
on the road. To talk, wait until you are both stopped.

_ Staggered Formation – This is the best way to keep ranks close yet maintain an adequate space cushion. The leader rides in the left side of the lane, while the second rider stays one second behind in the right side of the
lane. A third rider maintains in the left position, two seconds behind the first rider. The fourth rider would keep a two-second distance behind the second rider. This formation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from other ahead,
behind and to the sides.

_ Passing in Formation – Riders in a staggered formation should
pass one at a time.

_ First, the lead rider should pull
out and pass when it is safe. After passing, the leader should return to the left position and
continue riding at passing speed to open room for the next rider.

_ After the first rider passes safely, the second rider should move up to the left position and watch for a safe chance to pass.

After passing, this rider should return to the right position and open up room for the next rider.

Source: Motorcycle Operator Manual - Suppliment to the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws

Is any of this info a bunch of hooey? Do you have any tips to add? Share them with me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

White Tailed Deer - Update

After this past weekend's encounter with deer, I decided that a personal analysis of the crash would help not only my riding skills but others as well. After all, if we don’t learn from our mistakes we are bound to repeat them.

Teresa and I were riding in the tailender position on the return trip from Akron. This is the first time I’d ridden in this position, and if you’ve ever been there, you know you can see everyone and everything. It’s a great place to evaluate skill levels and riding habits.

In retrospect, I could tell the rider of the lead Burgman was getting tired. Tale tell signs like forgotten turn signals and a varying pace are a tip off for fatigue and this rider exhibited both.

I learned later that the lead group of 4 riders also had a deer cross the road in front of them and if there was not such a great distance between them and the first Burgman, we all would have seen it and our senses would have been heightened.

The second Burgman was following too closely and though his proximity may have been either a watchful eye or perhaps an encouragement to focus, in the end, it only served to eliminate his escape route when the lead Burgman went down.

Fatigue, I think, was definitely a contributing factor to the crash, but with deer, who knows? Nothing about the crash might have been prevented.

Another possible factor was a failure to review ride rules and guidelines before the ride started. This group rides together so often, we often forget about reviewing rules for those who don’t normally ride in groups.

I wonder if an intervention on my part might have helped, but then I am reminded about the adage, "If 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, we'd have Christmas year long."

I'll post an excerpt from what the state provides about group riding in a later post. A review won't hurt anyone that rides with others.

Crash Victim Update
Here’s an update to the rider recovery progress: Ron is home with a banged up face and some stitches in his chin. Donna is still in the hospital with some injuries to her spleen and some broken ribs.

If you are so inclined, keep them both in your thoughts and prayers.

Ride Safe

Sunday, September 7, 2008

White Tailed Deer - The Bane of Ohio Riders

Ohio has an abundance of rural roads that provide riders with beautiful scenes of rolling hills and farm land. A group of seven bikes and two Burgman scooters got to see some of that yesterday on a ride to the Akron area.

Ohio also has an abundance of white tailed deer and near the end of yesterday's ride, two of them crossed the road and were struck by the lead Burgman and the scooter went down. The second Burgman, following too closely, also went down. Teresa and I, bringing up the rear of this leg of the ride, watched it all transpire with amazing clarity.

Donna, riding the lead Burgman, separated from the lead pack by about a half a mile, was thrown from her scooter and landed on her side. Ron, her husband, riding the second Burgman, swerved left to avoid hitting Donna and also went down.

Donna left black skids marks on the roadway for about 20 feet before she lost control. Ron also left skid marks but his were blue and they stretched for nearly a hundred feet. The skid marks were blue because they were left by his jeans.

Both Ron and Donna were taken to the local hospital. From there Donna was flown to a trauma center in Columbus about 40 miles away. When I left the ER last night, word was that the docs wanted to have Donna checked out properly for any internal injuries. It looked like Ron would stay for a 23 hour observation.

This is twice this year that friends have gone down because of deer and it has to be obvious that deer are a major hazard for rural riders.

One "what if" question popped into my head then and I still ponder it now:
What if they had louder mufflers? Would that have made a difference? The 400cc Burgman is almost silent. Dunno.

Of all the regular readers and the 'just passing through' visitors of this blog, what wisdom can you offer?

What remedies and precautions do you use use against deer?

Has anyone had success with a particular product?

I'll keep you updated as to Ron and Donna's recovery. The ride report for the trip to Stan Hywet Hall near Akron may take a few days.

Ride Safe

Friday, September 5, 2008

No ride report today, and no comments on the weather save that it is cold and dark in the mornings (50s) and hot during the day (80s & 90s).

What I do have is a story from a friend, Randy, who rides a Vulcan 1500. That’s his bike and his bride, Wendy, in the photo.

This is Randy’s story and I trust that I have re-told it correctly here.

On weekends, Randy and Wendy like to visit the Old Bag of Nails Pub in Delaware, Ohio after working in the yard. The Old Bag of Nails Pub has an outdoor pub and riders of all ilk stop by for some food and refreshment. Delaware is a small town that sees a lot of bike traffic, sorta like the cruising on Friday nights in the movie American Graffiti.

Anyway, Randy and Wendy like to sit in the patio area and watch the riders go by, oohing and ahhing at some of the more colorful ones.

One day a while back, a rider pulled up at the Bag of Nails, parked his HD Ultra and sat down near the couple.

Randy commented on how pretty the motorcycle was and said something to the effect of wanting to have something like that someday.

The rider, a middle aged man, smiled and said, “Just got divorced and that’s the first thing I’ve got for myself in 15 years!”

He detailed some of the features and then said, “You wanna take it for a ride? Keys are in it.”

Randy said, “No thanks. I really wouldn’t feel right. I know my bike and though I’ve only had a couple sips of my beer, I don’t think I should.”

The HD owner leaned over the table and said, “What’s the matter? You a wuss??!!” (Now in all honesty, that’s not quite how Randy tells the story, but you get the drift.)

Calling Randy anything but his name is an invitation to… Well, it’s just an invitation. So Randy says, “Nope” and he and Wendy cruise around the block on this guy’s HD Ultra.

They return, upright and vertical, a few minutes later and the owner asks the question every car salesman asks, “Wha’ dya think? Did ya notice that the radio volume goes up with the wind noise?”

Randy smiles sheepishly and tells him that he was being so cautious about riding it he had the radio turned off!

That’s where Randy ends the story and I thought to myself, “That guy’s awful trusting.”

And then I found out that there’s a proximity enabled security interlock on the ignition. Without the security fob, if Randy had stalled or shut the engine off, both he and his wife would’ve been walking back to the eatery!

Maybe not so concerned about their return, after all.

This weekend a group of riders are heading towards Akron to visit Stan Hyweth Hall, a +60 room mansion build in the earler 1900s by the founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber, F.A. Seiberling.

I'm not much into destinations like this but I am reminded, its not the destination, its the journey.

Ride Safe.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

If you looking for roads to travel in the USA, I found an interesting website that describes and rates roads as far as their use for bike travels.

All states have motorcycle roads marked as scenic, twisty, etc. with a Google Maps interface. Some states have rider reports submitted.

Check out your location here.