Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The 12 bikes for all of the riders on the California trip left Ohio yesterday in the back of a semi trailer. The 21 riders making the trip from California to Ohio will fly out this Friday. I plan on leaving Ohio on my ride Saturday, July 11th and will meet them in Gillette, Wyoming 3 days later.

The preparations for my portion of the trip are progressing. I added highway bars and foot pegs so I can stretch out my legs on the highway. I added a couple of sockets to my tool kit and need to buy one turn signal bulb and a spare head lamp bulb for the "just in case" bag. I also purchased a tire repair kit with CO2 canisters also for the "just-in-case" bag

I should probably replace my front brake pads before I leave. Having a set for when I might need it is not the same as having new brake pads installed.

The do/need to buy list is down to just a few items:

Cup or bottle holder
Cargo net
Map pouch for the tank
Cramp Buster wrist rest

I'm trying to temper my excitement and anticipation of the trip with careful planning. There was a time when I would say, "Let's just go; if we need anything, we'll buy it when we get there." But things are different in this economy and when travelling on a bike.

And that feeling persists... Have I forgotten anything?

Ride Safe!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All but 6 of the 54 miles I travel to the office is four lane, limited access highway. The remaining 6 miles is under construction and should be complete in about 8 or 9 months. This will make my commute the fastest is has ever been. And one of the most boring, too. You just don't "see" as many things at 70 mph as you do at 45 or 50. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad.

My multi-lane travels are pretty sedate compared to some of the horror stories I hear from other metro areas. Traffic isn't as congested and drivers aren't as oblivious to their surroundings in Columbus.
There are exceptions, of course and I've learned that entrance ramps are the most dangerous sections of travel during my commute. Most of the time drivers are just cruising along content to stay in their lane. But entrance ramps, where drivers must merge into existing traffic, can be a jumbled mess.

Almost without exception, if there are a string of cars entering the freeway, one of the drivers will be impatient about his merge. Believing the car in front of them isn't accelerating fast enough, they will move not only into the first lane, but will try to take a second lane as well.

These are the drivers I always watch out for on my commute. They will only take a micro-second to survey the traffic in the second lane and chances are they won't see me. This scenario happened to me a few days ago.

The driver of an older red Ford crossed into my lane by about a foot and I was in his blind spot adjacent to his rear door. I beeped my horn - I'm seriously considering getting an air horn - and accelerated until I was abreast of his door.

In this instance, I had at least one thing going for me: he had his window rolled down. The sound of my horn along with the sight of my blurred image must have scared the crap out of him because he immediately retreated into his lane and hit the brakes.

I'm sure he didn't see the angry look on my face or hear me shout, "What are you doing!!!" But he did stay on my six about 6 car lengths back until my exit came up 12 miles down the road. Serves him right. Better for him to soil his pants than occupy my space.

I have approximately 11 or 12 ramps on my commute and fortunately attempts on my life only happen about once a week. And even though they are never intentional, hurt is still hurt and dead is still dead. My travel time is about an hour before the morning and afternoon rush hours or my encounters might be more frequent.

Still, I wouldn't give up the 2 wheeled commute for anything. For me, there is no better way to start or end my work day. Even though I have to contend with what Lucky from The Great Motorcycle Pizza Tour calls zombie drivers.

Now how is it they get rid of the zombies in the movies???

Ride Safe!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Big Bird Up Close

My father was an avid naturalist. He loved the outdoors and fancied himself a something of an expert on North American wildlife. He loved birds of all kinds, song birds especially, since they were the most abundant in his neighborhood. His got excited when he would encounter a species not frequently seen around here.

A bird he always enjoyed watching but seldom saw was the Blue Heron, common all across North America and mostly found near large bodies of water. It is a large bird that wades the shoreline looking for lunch.

I got an up close look at one the other evening and Dad would be glad to know that I recognized it immediately. He would not be pleased with the manner and method of my up close observation, however.

Teresa and I were returning from a short ride to Reynoldsburg heading east toward home. The sun was low in the western sky and everything had that reddish golden glow to it. The day had been hot but the cool of the approaching night felt really nice. Our shadow stretched out in front of us 50 feet or so as we cruised along at about 55mph.

As we ascended an incline leading up to the arched bridge crossing the railroad tracks near Summit Station, I saw the gray/brown blur of the heron in flight from about 200 yards away and pointed it out to Teresa. What an impressive bird!

(From Wikipedia, (C) John Harrison)

It had just taken off from a tree top and looked as though it might go under the bridge. But it started flapping its wings to gain altitude and I quickly realized that he was taking the high road, so to speak, over the bridge.

But he wasn't traveling very fast and his altitude wasn't increasing as much as I would have thought it should. As we continued onto the bridge, he cleared the guardrail of the bridge with just inches to spare and continued his lazy flight.

At a distance of about 25 yards I could see his wing span was about 3 feet across. With wings that wide you would think that a heron could reach great heights with no effort at all, and they may. But this one was in no hurry evidently.

It was apparent to me that we were about to get very personal with this creature. I applied some major front brake pressure and our speed dropped from 55 to 40mph in seconds. The heron passed at eye level just a few feet in front of us.

Whoa! That was close and what a mess it would have been. I looked in the mirror for the bird but only saw the grill of an F-150 quickly approaching. I down shifted, rolled on the throttle and scooted out of his way.

To the bird's credit, he may not have seen us since we were approaching out of the setting sun. And to the F-150's credit, how often does somebody nearly stop in the middle of a bridge to let Big Bird pass?

The rest of the journey was uneventful and we enjoyed the deepening shadows and the red-orange glow cast over the country side. I love this time of day. Except for the occasional critter.

Ride Safe!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I saw these photos on the VR forum I sometimes visit and thought I'd share them.

The images were not attribruted nor were there any explanations other than the obvious "wow!"

Pretty impressive although I'm not sure if it's a bike, a trike, or something in between.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What a great ride into work today! The temps hovered around 60ยบ F, the skies were clear and the sunrise was in my mirrors.

The ride home will be even better!

Did you ride to work today?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ride To Work Day

Just about ANY day is Ride to Work Day for me. But if you need an excuse, here's one...