Zzz… Huh? What?

It’s been a rough four months. The Boston area received more snow than ever in recorded history, and it still hasn’t warmed up much. Just yesterday snow was still falling from the sky, and it accumulated slightly over the weekend. Normally I’d already be writing about springtime bike preparations, but we’re still dealing with “Second Winter,” which is like the Hobbit tradition of Second Breakfast, but not nearly as enjoyable.

Still, as the calendar is about to arbitrarily flip into April despite the weather seeming more like February, I’m starting to think about bikes again. I have two to sell, and one to prepare, starting with a new battery. There just hasn’t been any point to buying and installing that battery until I’m fairly certain the Marauder won’t end up sitting for a few more weeks due to even more Second Winter and going dead on me.

i have to give a shout out to Brian and Amanda for storing my PC800 this winter. If they hadn’t, I would have lost my bike in the snowbanks in my parking lot. If the condition of my bicycle is any indication, it would have been destroyed by the plows, like my bicycle’s back wheel that now closely resembles a potato chip in shape. And another shout out to Jonah, who is still storing my Silverwing, which never actually got sold.

As the calendar flips, it’s time to start trying to sell the Hondas to make room and make some money to cover the Marauder purchase and minor modifications, like a back rest. So if you’d like to own a piece of Two Wheel Tripping history, drop me a line. With a pedigree like that, I’ll have to give you a discount…

Still, it shouldn’t be long now, hopefully. The snowbanks are shrinking. The roads are growing back to full width. And I can actually see around most corners on my commute now. Someday I’ll ride again…

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Finished the loop – sort of

Today I spontaneously decided to finish the loop in New Hampshire that I aborted a few weeks ago when the bike acted up again. Yes, my bike is in winter storage, and temperatures were in the 30s today. No matter – I took the BRZ for a cruise, since I really hadn’t taken it for a back road romp since I got it back from the body shop. And, by now, you know how much I hate not finishing a route that I start. It was a slow drawl through slow traffic most of the way to New Hampshire on the back roads. I did get a clear run through Willard Brook State Forest, though, and I noticed the black and white SUV with blue disco lights coming the other direction in time to bring down my speed quickly and avoid trouble. From 119 I took 31 up into New Hampshire and followed it all the way to Bennington, retracing my route from the attempted bike ride.

BRZ_overlookIt was interesting to compare the same twisties in the car that I recently rode on the bike. The car was definitely more capable, and I am certainly a more capable driver than rider. But I was also far more insulated from the experience than I am on the bike, and just how much of a difference that is surprised me. And this is in a modern sports car, with far more feedback through the controls than, say, the Hyundai Elantra I rented for a day earlier this year that had less feedback and sensation through the steering than my Logitech game controller. Seriously, while playing iRacing I’ve had carefully crafted force feedback through the Logitech wheel cause reactions in my virtual driving that I learned in real cars on real tracks, and I didn’t get that through the Elantra, which is an actual car. Not to mention that I was inside a comfortable cabin, with my GPS programmed, my music playing through 10 speakers from my phone’s Bluetooth connection, and my ham radio scanning a few favorite frequencies. It’s not so much comparing apples and oranges, as apples and crankshaft pulleys. You just can’t.

I passed the point where I turned around on the bike, and soon found myself on 137 – the purpose of this whole adventure. When I lived on the MA/NH line over 10 years ago, 137 was my “test track.” After tweaking up a car or bike, I’d take it on 137 to see how it performed. It was just repaved soon after I moved to the area, and was lots of fun. In this case, though, I think I was better off in the car.  The road has deteriorated a lot since then. There are many large ruts and cracks, perfect for catching a motorcycle tire and steering the bike for you if you’re not paying attention. Not a problem in the car, of course. There was even some ice on parts of the road, but I got my winter tires put on last week, and I eased off the pace a bit in these sections and was fine. It was still a fun drive, and I realized that I couldn’t approach the car’s limits safely on these roads, even on less grippy snow tires and with stability control on its more permissive sport mode. I took 202 to 140, then superslabbed it home on 2 with the cruise control on – something else I can’t do on the bike.

It’s not the same, but at least I finished what I’d set out to do. Given the condition of 137, I didn’t really miss anything by not getting the bike out there. It would’ve been a game of avoiding the ruts and cracks instead of carving good lines through the corners. It also let me get more acquainted with the car in its current configuration. I used to call my old Miatas four wheeled motorcycles. That description doesn’t apply to the BRZ – it’s definitely a car, though still a fun one.

I admit, the thought has entered my mind in recent weeks of possibly doing my eventual cross country trip on four wheels instead of two. Today’s road trip drilled into my head the differences between the bike and the car. It would certainly be easier to tackle such a trip in the car. Packing would be easy, weather wouldn’t be an issue, and it’s easier to put down more miles if I need to. But those challenges are what makes doing it on a bike unique, and more worth doing. I’d need to get a different bike for a cross country ride – either buy one, or rent one, neither of which is a cheap proposition. But I already have a car that can do it just fine right now – with a warranty, even. That’s not a cheap proposition, either, but at least I’m already making those payments. Gas would be a little more expensive with poorer mileage than the bike, but not too bad. And doing it in a sports car would still be a lot more fun than in a regular everyday econobubble. So we’ll see.

I still have the entire trip to plan, anyway. I’ve already started some of it, but I’m finding large sections of nothing in the middle of the US that I’m struggling to fill with something interesting. I’ll work on it.

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Time for a change?

I’ve had the bike out for a couple of short spins. So far it’s started and ran perfectly. Yet I still don’t dare ride beyond my towing radius from home. No matter – it gets cold and dark so early these days I don’t have time to go very far anyway. I can still cruise around on the weekends for a bit longer, but those days are numbered. Soon I’ll be needing to figure out when I can put it away in my friend’s garage for the winter, really this time.

Another friend already has a bike in storage – a 2001 Suzuki Marauder. In fact it’s been in storage for three years, and she’s trying to sell it.  Since I’ve been losing faith in the PC800, I’ve been considering it. It has 12k original miles, has never been dropped, and has been in the family since new. It’s a cruiser, not a sport tourer, but it has saddlebags, so I could at least still take weekend trips on it – and these days, weekend trips are all I have time for. Elana is comfortable sitting on it, but would need a backrest of some kind for more than a short trip – an easy addition. It currently has a dead battery, and at least one carburetor stuck open when we tried to start it – both to be expected from a bike that’s been sitting for three years.

Because of that, it can continue to sit through the winter. I don’t need to decide what to do yet, but if we get it up and running without much trouble, I’m leaning toward selling the PC and buying the Marauder, both in the spring. If I play my cards right, I could come out of this deal with a working bike and some extra money in my pocket, since I’d be getting a good deal on the Marauder. That and knowing its full history are a large part of the appeal of this idea. If the PC keeps behaving, it might be a good time to sell it, with lots of recent work, new parts, and while it’s running well.

Another factor is that I’ve pondered trying a cruiser for years. When I got my Honda CB750 Custom, I’d actually gone to look at a Magna, only to find it was all smashed on the left side and had obviously been dropped hard. The Harley I rode in Florida last winter was quite comfortable, but kind of big and cumbersome for me. I’ve had the occasion to ride a few Suzuki Savages from time to time, and though I like them, they’re a bit small for me. But the Marauder feels like a good size for me. It won’t handle as well as the PC800, but I really don’t lean hard in the turns anyway. A cruiser might suit my relaxed riding style better than a sport tourer.

The Marauder likely wouldn’t be a cross country machine. It suffers from as short a range on a tank of gas as the PC800, so unless I can plan a route that would definitely have fuel available around every 100 miles or so, it wouldn’t work. But by the time I’m ready for that trip, maybe I can upgrade to a larger bike, or rent a larger one and keep this for cruising around. And I have the option to add hard bags, a trunk, a luggage rack, a windshield, or whatever I want later if I decide I want to increase its touring capabilities.

I have months to decide for sure. If nothing else, I can help get the Marauder running again so it can be easily sold in the spring if I don’t buy it. But I’m seriously pondering it.

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RallyMoto at Black River Stages

As many of you already know, I’m a car nut and a performance rally fan. Though I’ve done plenty of autocross and some track driving, I find the idea of taking real cars and racing them on real roads much more exciting. It’s not a perfectly manicured track, but an actual road, with all of the imperfections you expect. Nearly all performance rallies use dirt roads rather than paved, which adds to the challenge. You don’t get to practice hitting the apex of turn 3 perfectly over and over again. Often you’re racing without even seeing the road first. And even if you have, such as when repeating a stage from earlier in the day, the road conditions are different than before. There are also transits, on open roads at normal speeds, to get from one special stage to the next. Precise timing is required at each arrival and departure, and you get penalties for being early or late. Rally cars get a co-driver to handle much of this bookkeeping, the general navigation between stages, and to read notes to the driver during the special stages detailing exactly what’s coming up next.

IMG_1687What does this have to do with motorcycles? NASA Rally Sport also has a series called RallyMoto, which allows motorcycles to run stage rally as well. There is no co-driver in RallyMoto – it’s all up to the rider to do their own navigation, both on stage and on transits, and their own timing. They run separately from the cars, so there is no risk of a rally car meeting up with a bike on a stage. In addition to the usual course opening cars and sweep teams, there is a special course vehicle called the Combo Car that runs between the bikes (who run first) and the cars. This vehicle serves two purposes. Primarily it’s sweep for the motorcycles, making sure no one has crashed, is hurt, has broken down, and basically accounting for every bike that started before letting the cars run. Secondarily, it’s a final look at each stage to make sure it’s still ready for cars to run.

What does this have to do with me? Thanks to my previous car racing experience, having volunteered to work many rallies over the years, a couple of days at Team O’Neil Rally School, and an amateur radio background, I am uniquely qualified for course car duties, despite never having competed in a rally myself. I’ve mainly worked in a sweep team, either as a driver or co-driver, though in 2012 I had the opportunity to co-drive for car 0, the course opening car that does the final fast run through each stage and declares it open for competition. Elana is also a rally enthusiast, and earlier this year we volunteered as a pre-fab sweep team for the Empire State Performance Rally. When we volunteered for Black River Stages, we were assigned the job of Combo Car. This kept us close to the bikes, and gave us plenty of time to hang out with them during the final preparations to run each stage, providing me the opportunity to learn a whole lot more about RallyMoto.

IMG_1683Rally cars require extensive modifications, even for the stock classes. At minimum, all of the required safety equipment – roll cages, seats, harnesses, fire extinguishers, rally computers – must be installed before they can even run. If the car is going to survive for long, the tires, wheels, suspension, and brakes need to be beefed up as well. It’s a seemingly endless cycle of upgrading, maintaining, breaking, fixing, and upgrading the car again. For RallyMoto, the requirements are simply that the bike must be street legal, not a two-stroke, and have a safety triangle and first aid kit on board. You’ll also want a scroll reader for directions on transits. That’s maybe $50 worth of equipment above and beyond the bike itself. As far as personal safety gear, you’ll obviously need a helmet, body armor, solid motocross boots, and all that fun stuff, but you probably already have that if you’re doing any off road riding anyway, and even if you don’t, the cost to equip yourself is comparable to what you’d spend on safety equipment as a rally car driver or co-driver anyway. I used to think that a dual sport motorcycle was required, but Max BMW brought a squad of classic BMW /5s to run. They had knobby tires, better shocks, and extra lighting for the night stages, but they certainly weren’t wild Dakar machines by any means. They were my favorite bikes there.

Driving a course car is great fun. Because we were essentially the first responders, with my ham radio to call for additional help or the ambulance if needed, we booked it down each stage pretty darn quick. We’re not competitors, and we didn’t have detailed stage notes like they do, but we did have the road book, and Elana juggled that, an odometer app on her phone, and sometimes her TomTom GPS to tell me that we were approaching major turns, bridges, or jumps before I could see them so that I could slow down appropriately. I would also slow down before every crest, every berm, and anywhere there might be a bike or rider down until I could see that it was clear.

FIMG_1689ortunately, at no point during the entire event did we arrive at the scene of a crashed rider. That’s not to say there weren’t some spills – there were. We would wait a minute or two after the last rider left before setting off ourselves, and however fast we were driving, the bikes were going faster, so they had time to gather themselves, pick up their bikes, and keep going before we caught up to them. I had one brief scare on one of the night stages. In addition to the bike lighting, each rider wore a couple of LED lights on their jackets, so that if they were thrown from their bikes at night we’d see them if they were still in the road. On one stage, we came around a corner and saw one of these lights on the ground. Fortunately, it was only the light, with no rider attached – it must’ve fallen off. We saw no telltale marks in the dirt of a bike going off the road or having been dropped there, so we continued on. When we checked in at the finish line, they confirmed that all of the bikes had, in fact, made it through just fine.

Just as important as making the car, or the bike, go fast on stage is making sure it continues to go fast, which means refueling and making any necessary repairs. Every few stages there is a service stop in the schedule to allow for this. Some are quite long – on Sunday we had a 60 minute service after just two stages, and spent most of it having lunch and staying out of a rain shower. Others are short, maybe 15 minutes – just long enough to refuel, get a drink, make a minor adjustment to the bike, and get out of there. Everyone goes to a designated service area, where they check in and out at their precisely scheduled times. Rally teams usually have a dedicated service crew of one or several people to jack up and wrench on the car. But the bikers mostly did their own work, while others had a friend or significant other there to help them. At one point we were laughing at their five Sprinter vans all parked in a line, four of them white (the other was DHL yellow, being a retired delivery van). Yet one guy’s service vehicle was simply a Toyota Yaris pulling a Harbor Freight trailer for the bike.

IMG_1697I had a really good time hanging out with the RallyMoto competitors. They’re a great bunch of people. It’s a bit different than the usual rally scene that I’m used to, since there’s more of an individual than team focus than I’m used to in rally due to the nature of their event. But they were all socializing between stages, riding together on some of the transits, and sharing beers at the end, including with me. Because I had to work today, we had to skip the after party and make the long drive home. I was sad to miss out on the trash can chicken that the Harrisville Fire Department makes us every year. It’s some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. It also would’ve been nice to catch up with my friends in the cars at the end of the event, and watch some of them receive well deserved trophies.

I’ve already pondered picking myself up a dual sport bike at some point. Would I ever consider entering a RallyMoto event? I’m not sure. Though I have all the car racing experience and training I mentioned, I consider myself to be merely an adequate rider at this point. And I’m not shy to admit that at the moment, I’m afraid of dirt. I’ve never ridden off road, and my few spills have all involved dirt somehow. I’ve said before that if I’m going to race, I’d rather have a metal cage around me. On the other hand, if I already have the bike and riding gear, and all that’s between me and competing in a stage rally is a racing license and $50 worth of equipment, it would be mighty tempting to try.  Even doing it on the cheap, it takes thousands of dollars to buy, prepare, and run a rally car, and you can’t really use it for anything else. It’s a pain to climb over your roll cage to commute to work, and you can’t reach your stereo when you’re strapped down into your racing harness. But a bike set up for RallyMoto could be used as-is, anytime, anywhere, on road or off, because so few modifications are necessary. I don’t think I’m prepared to give up having a sport touring bike of some kind at this point, but the idea will probably keep rolling around in my head for a while…

Many thanks to USUK Racing for sharing their cabin with us for the weekend! We greatly appreciate their hospitality.


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A Whole Lot of Nothing

Wow – it’s been almost a month since I’ve written here. I try not to go so long without writing, but Pennsic kept me off the bike completely for two weeks including packing and preparation, and I’ve been too busy to even get a day trip in, aside from completing unfinished business in western MA at the end of July. I did put some red tape over the black Gorilla Tape holding my mirror on, so it blends in a lot better. I’ve been commuting on the bike a lot, but roughly the same 13 mile stretch every day gets a bit boring, and certainly boring to write about. But at least I’ve gotten on the bike and ridden. Considering how much I spent on repairing it this year, at least I’m getting some use out of it.

IMG_1627Last Friday, I took my car to work due to a decent chance of rain. It never rained, but I was glad to have the metal cage around me when I got rear ended. To make a long story short, some idiot ran a stop sign from a cross street and cut me off. I nailed the brakes to miss him, and succeeded. The BMW X5 behind me nailed his brakes and swerved to miss me, and failed. Naturally, the guy who ran the stop sign and caused the whole thing drove off.

I’m fine – no whiplash, not even any tense muscles. The car isn’t drivable due to the corner that got pushed in rubbing against the tire, though I did drive out of the intersection and pull over, which is more than the X5 could do. It weighs nearly twice as much as my car, but was far more damaged. His air bags went off, the car was immobilized, and even 911 got an automatic call from BMW’s version of On-Star.

What does this have to do with bikes? Well, I certainly have a motorcycle to ride to work while the BRZ gets fixed, but I’m having second thoughts about that. On the one hand, I could argue that if I’d been on my bike instead of the car, it’s narrow enough that the X5 could’ve easily gotten around me and stopped without hitting me. The driver and I would’ve made sympathetic gestures of disbelief at each other, and gone on to work, just like any other day.  On the other, more unpleasant hand, I could argue about what would’ve happened if the X5 had hit my bike. I walked away from the BRZ. At best, I would’ve been knocked down and taken away in an ambulance to get thoroughly checked out, while my bike would certainly have been totaled. I don’t even want to think about the other possibilities. I intentionally avoid the worst traffic on my commute, but a situation like this is a possibility anytime, anywhere, particularly in a busy area like I work in. I’m feeling a bit gun shy about putting myself in that situation on the bike now.

By Friday afternoon, I’d picked up a rental car (a Jeep Compass that I’ve named “The Penalty Box”) that my insurance will cover for the next month or until my car gets fixed. I did take the bike out for a couple of hours this afternoon, nowhere in particular, just to relax a bit. But right now, I’m more inclined to sit in the Penalty Box for my commute than take a chance on the bike. Yes, I’m a bit spooked.

September is looking busy, with Black River Stages coming up and the need to fix up Elana’s Jeep to serve as a course car once again. We’re hoping to go somewhere for a weekend in early October, and hoping to take the bike if weather permits. With two of us on the bike we won’t be camping, but after my experience last fall I’ve learned that camping in New England in October can get pretty cold. Even a few nights at Pennsic, in early August, froze me pretty badly. Anyway, we have no plan aside from “go somewhere for the weekend” yet, but we’ll be working on that. Reading some of my posts from the past two years is making me miss the road trips, even a simple overnight getaway, that I haven’t managed to take in almost a year now. That’s the kind of riding I prefer.


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Can’t make this up…

20140720-131230-47550701.jpgI arranged to work from home a week ago Wednesday so I could get yet another ride from Elana to go pick up my bike from the shop over lunch. I got there. The bike was ready. I paid a reasonable price for the work they did. I hopped on, and since I had to get back to work I made my way to Route 2 to superslab it home. But once I got up to highway speed, I heard a new sound from the back – a rubbing that increased with speed. I pulled over as soon as I could, and the center of the tread was starting to come off in chunks. They had installed a size 150/90/15 tire, when my stock size is 140/80/15. In other words, the tire they gave me was too tall. I could see where it has barely a millimeter or two of clearance with a flange on part of the exhaust system. The centrifugal force of higher speeds must have stretched the tire just enough to rub on this flange, causing the chunking.

The good news was that I had caught the problem quickly, and I could still ride safely at lower speeds – straight back to the shop. I called Elana to have her turn around and pick me up, took the next exit I could, and started making my way back to the shop. I hadn’t reinstalled my GPS (I was just going straight home, after all), and I didn’t really know the roads I was on, but my sense of direction got me back to Route 2A, the road Central Mass Powersports is on.

I made it there without further incident. Naturally the service guy was surprised to see me back so soon. I explained the problem, and showed him the tire.  I popped the trunk and showed him the sticker that listed the stock rear tire size. He apologized profusely, and explained that since they had already had my bike for such a long time he was just trying to get me back on the road as quickly as possible with a tire they already had in stock. Without hesitation he said he’d order up a tire in the correct size. I told him that the Metzler ME880 I’d rolled in with comes in the correct size, to save him the trouble of looking it up. Then I hopped in Elana’s Jeep and went home on four wheels rather than two. Again.

I was crushed. This time I didn’t even get home from the shop before it had to go back in. It was feeling like I’d never get to ride a reliable motorcycle again. This goes completely against reality. CMP did an excellent job repairing my previous mechanical issues. Installing the wrong tire size is not the end of the world, and easily repaired. And this all cascaded from the previous shop not installing the valve stem correctly, which was already fixed.

This past Wednesday, I got the call that the bike was done. Yesterday I got a ride to pick it up. They took me right to it, apologized for putting on the wrong size tire once again, showed me the correct size Metzler ME880 they had installed, and sent me on my way. No paperwork. No money. Nothing. I would have been perfectly happy to pay any price difference between the Metzler and the Dunlop they pulled off the shelf, since the Metzler was likely more expensive. That would be reasonable. But it wasn’t even an issue. And there was never any question of paying for the wrecked Dunlop, or an extra mounting and balancing. I can’t hold anything against CMP here. Their only mistake was in rushing to get me back on the road, and when it didn’t work out they did the right thing.

I took Route 2 part of the way home yesterday, just to try some superslab speeds. There was no rubbing – as expected, since the tire is the correct size. I took a few curvy roads, too, at conservative speeds since I was still breaking in the new tire. Much to my surprise, I arrived home without incident. In the afternoon, I pushed my luck and took an even longer ride – out through Bolton, down one of my favorite twisty sections in the area, around the Wachusett Reservoir (my favorite quick ride or test session when I lived in Berlin), and back home. Once again, the bike worked flawlessly.

I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a good bike, and as of now (I hope!) the series of unfortunate events cascading down from previous work that was done incorrectly has been resolved. But my confidence is gone. It’s a completely illogical, irrational reaction, entirely emotional. Part of the reason I chose the route I did was because a tow back home or to CMP would have been entirely within my roadside assistance coverage. But it wasn’t necessary. Now I just need to put down some miles and rebuild my faith in the bike – have some good experiences with it instead of bad. I plan to start doing what I had planned to do all along – commute on the bike anytime weather permits. It’s been well over a month since I have. It’s only 13 miles each way on mostly back roads that I know quite well. That should definitely help.

I won’t have time for any trips until late August at the latest, with other non-motorcycle commitments throughout the next month or so. But I can at least try another day trip – maybe take Elana to finish our last ride at some point. Yes, I think I’d like to do that. I hate unfinished business.

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Dashing Through the… No.


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It’s Alive!!!

Like Dr. Frankenstein, with the proper application of electricity I brought my creature back to life yesterday. It was a bit of an adventure getting there. During my lunch break on Friday I went to Autozone in Framingham to pick up a battery. After spending more time waiting to check out than it did to drive there, I left with a battery – well, most of one. When I got home I took the appropriate plastic bits off the side of the bike and went to add acid to the battery, only to find it was missing everything except the acid and the battery itself. I could’ve finagled the nuts and bolts for the terminals, but there was no way to plug up the holes where the acid goes in, and I’d left my core at the store. I will not be returning to that particular store.

Since the bike wasn’t operational, and it was rainy Saturday morning, I went out for a drive instead. I did my Mohawk Trail / Molly Stark Trail loop in the BRZ, and had a blast. I can’t wait to get that car out on an autocross course where I can push it 100%. But this is a bike blog, not a car blog, so back to the bike. On my way west, I stopped at another Autozone in Fitchburg. They were awesome. The guy at the counter and the manager immediately focused on how to get their computer to handle the situation and swap it out for me. I got another battery in a sealed container. Yesterday I had no trouble preparing it and installing it on the bike. It was harder to start than usual, which is normal since it’s been sitting a while, but when it roared to life, it ran beautifully.  I think I dodged the bullet of gunk in the carbs.  The rear tire was flat, so I pumped it up, checked everything else, and went for a short test ride.  Everything, aside from three of the strip LEDs in my top  trunk, worked perfectly.  I have no idea why those LEDs died, but it’s no big deal.  I should still get a new front tire soon, and I’m going to try to combine that with my state inspection for one stop shopping.

This was a big motorcycle weekend for Ana as well – she took her MSF Basic Rider Course. And passed! We celebrated with a ride out to dinner together last night. Watch for a post or two from her all about it in the near future.

Soon, very soon now, morning temperatures will be warm enough for me to bundle up and start taking the bike to work. I like my shiny new car, but I also like that I now have a commute worth taking the motorcycle on, that isn’t too short to be worth it, and without a ton of standstill traffic. I just need it to get warm enough in the morning. By my standards, at least, which is about 45F minimum. I’ve already seen some bikes out there during my commute.

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Enough already!

OK, this is getting ridiculous.


It’s kept snowing quite regularly, and we’ve been getting more than the forecast said we would – 3-5″ becomes a foot, light rain becomes 1-3″… Fortunately, it’s supposed to get well above freezing the next couple of days. I’ll be at work, so I won’t be able to do dig it out just yet, but I hope nature does a bit of the work for me – after all, she made this mess.

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Two Wheel Gifting

After some emails were sent, then forgotten about, then replied to at the last minute, I acquired a basically new modular helmet for Ana from a friend at a pretty good discount. It has all the features she wanted – the flip face, a visor that doesn’t constrain her peripheral vision, the retractable sun shade that makes her look like a fighter pilot… I extrapolated that since my helmet was a little too big for her, going one size down to this one would be a pretty good guess. I was right – it fits her perfectly.

Unbeknownst to me, at the same time I was arranging this transaction, Ana took, and passed, her motorcycle learner’s permit exam. I opened a card from her and there it was – her surprise for me.

Since we seem to be thinking along similar lines, we signed her up for an MSF course this spring. The way she’s talking, she’s interested not just in riding, but in joining me on my longer adventures. And technically, since it never actually sold this year, I still own my Silverwing. It’s not an ideal starter bike, in my opinion, but I already have it, so we’ll see how it goes.

One step at a time, though. Being a new rider, I’m sure we’d have to work her up the longer days and trips. I’m still amazed she’s this serious about it, especially considering that her total time on a motorcycle so far consists of a fifteen minute cruise on the back with me. We’ll see how she feels about it after the MSF course and go from there.

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