Saturday, February 25, 2006

Fun and funny things.

No philosophy today, just fun. I have begun to bore myself! Friday I saw interesting things. Here are a couple.

I am running a business errand on the bike. Who says your company vehicle has to be car? I am stopped at a light. There are five lanes of traffic here. On the left a gentleman is on a scooter. He is not on the street. The man has ridden across a large parking lot. His destination appears to be the crosswalk. It is a very nice looking scooter. It appears to be a silver Honda Reflex. I am not an expert on scooters. This is my guess. The man is dressed for business. A light jacket over a dress shirt. Slacks and shoes that speak of an office job. Just before the man reaches the crosswalk he moves his legs left. As slick as you please he dismounts the scooter. The movement is so smooth as to be indiscernable. One moment he is on the scooter, the next walking beside it. With engine still running he dutifully walks the scooter across the street. Pushing it across in the crosswalk. On the right is another large parking lot. Just as smoothly as the dismount he is back on the scooter. The parking lot journey continues. I am thinking the scooter is large enough to require an endorsement. Perhaps he does not yet have one. This may be practise for him. He is so smooth and proper about it all. I am certain that I would have ridden across the street.

Earlier I had been returning from lunch. Sitting on the side of the road is a cop friend of mine. He is on the bike watching traffic. He shows me the new laser gun. No, it is not a weapon. It is the replacement for the radar gun. This one is more accurate and pinpoints single vehicles. A man in a Dodge Durango roars by. The Durango is bright red. It is a bad idea to speed by a traffic cop. It is worse to do so in a conspicuous vehicle. Brian yells "Gotta go!" and takes off to catch the Durango with the "B-rays" flashing. You can probably hear the wheels of mischief turning in my head. On impulse I press first gear and follow. I am thinking to myself as I go. We are on a three lane freeway. The speed limit is 55. I did not see the laser gun reading. The Durango must be doing well over 60 to get Brian's attention. I know we will be doing that speed plus some to over-take. I will technically be speeding myself. Is it really speeding if I am following a police officer? Brian had said "Gotta go!". I can always claim I heard "Follow me!". I could plead insanity. I think they would believe it.

As I am thinking I am also watching the police BMW ahead of me. I am a professional trainer. It is my habit to evaluate riders. I search out the subtle clues that tell me what a rider is doing. Brian is toward the right part of the lane. I hang to the left. I see the front of the bike lift under heavy acceleration. It dips and rises again in second gear. Once more the front dips and rises for third gear. The front dips again....and does not rise for a moment. I see Brian's boot toe go lower. He has missed a shift. I have ridden these bikes at a track. The transmissions seem notchy. My ST is much smoother. To shift quickly one preloads the shifter. A clutch pull about halfway in. Pull the shifter and release. Under quick acceleration I have not let off the shifter enough between shifts. There are false neutrals. It is not a big thing but I find it amusing. Brian does his traffic stop. I drop out of warp drive and continue on my way.

The awkward moment reminds me of a time long ago. I was a reserve officer for a county sheriff's department. Solo certification had been newly attained. Being a reserve I worked mostly nights and weekends. One Friday night I heard a female city officer ask for an assist. I was on my way into town and was close to her. I offered to stop and dispatch agreed. I thus duly responded. There was a man who was to be taken into custody. He had other ideas. A wrestling match ensued. Soon he was in the back of a car being whisked away. No injuries sustained, just a lot of scuffling. I resumed my trip back to the station. On the way I see a car run a stoplight. Seeing the overheads the driver pulls over. It is dark on the street. The streetlight is not illuminated. As I approach the car I hear something clank on the ground. It seems during the previous scuffle my badge has become dislodged. I look down but do not see it. Acting "oh so casual" I shine my light around the car as if looking for something. It is hard to keep an eye on the driver while looking for my badge. I finally spot it just in front of the rear tire. I shine the light briefly toward the driver to mask the view. My foot nudges the badge out of the way of the tire. Further under the car. I don't know why I did not just stoop to pick it up. It just seemed embarrassing. After the driver was freed to go I waited until they were out of sight. Only then did I get back out of the car and retrieve the badge. Another awkward moment.

Interestingly, I had occasion to ride a new BMW R1150RT this weekend. Let me introduce you to Jim. Jim is in his mid sixties. He has money. Jim will also prove he has wisdom and will earn my deepest respect.

Not long ago Katie and I were at Salem Honda BMW. I really respect this dealer. They do business the honest way. The sales people have a conscience when selling bikes. Some young men have been turned away from buying certain bikes. The shop makes a big effort to steer riders to training. I have been adopted as the resident "Instructor". The sales manager, Lon, introduces me to many customers when I am there. We happen to be there in "Big Red", the family pickup. Please do not gasp with horror. We have had to bring a desk up for our son who lives near the shop. ( Lucky boy ) As good as I am there is no way to haul furniture on the bike. If it makes you feel better, the truck is a 1982. It has been part of the family for a long time. My youngest child, Clinton, will be 18 in April. When he was five or so Big Red was like a real person to him. Clinton would sit in front of the truck and talk to it. The truck is not pretentious. It is like me. Not much to look at but it gets the job done.

As we are browsing and visiting we meet Jim and his wife Maxine. They have come up from Eugene which is an hour and fifteen minutes or so South. Jim has just purchased the new BMW. It has been many years since Jim last rode. Lon takes Jim to the parking lot of an empty grocery store which is nearby. They take a small dual sport to see how Jim does with it. When they come back Lon takes me aside and tells me Jim is somewhat shaky. The front brake application is abrupt. The BMW has the servo assist brakes. It will be interesting. I talk to Jim and say I mean no offense to his skills. If he wishes I could ride the bike to his house and Katie could follow in the truck. This would give Jim the chance to get more gradual exposure in short trips from his house. Jim politely declines my offer and I think no more about it.

Saturday morning the phone rings. Lon has given Jim my number. Jim asks if my offer still stands. Of course, it does. Arrangements are made for Jim to meet me at a "Park-N-Ride" near a freeway exit not too far away from me. I arrive on a bike. Jim has met me in an almost new Mini-Cooper. He drives us to the dealer. Jim decides the bike needs fuel so I ride it to a mini-mart with gas pumps nearby to the dealer. I have a little finger confusion with the turn signals. There is a switch on the left for left turns and one just like it on the right for that direction. They both cancel from a gray paddle on the right. I have ridden these bikes on the track. There we "don't need no stinkin' turn signals!". I end up signalling left for a right turn. It is quickly corrected but has set a bad omen. I let Jim fuel the bike. He spills gas on his new bike.

With these being our only troubles we head for his house. For most of the way Jim follows me. I have a pretty good idea of where to go. Jim will go ahead as we get closer. I play with the power windshield. I play with the heated grips and seat. This bike also has a notchy transmission. It is still a very nice bike. When we get to Jim's house I see 73 miles on the odometer. Maxine has made coffee and fixed us up with two travel mugs. Jim is impressed by my riding. He says it was all "by the book". I do not always ride like that but it was not my bike. I tried to respect that. Jim hands me the keys to the Mini. I do not feel bad driving a "box". It is the total opposite of an SUV. It is a very nice car. It is just weird to look in the middle of the dash for the dinner plate sized speedometer. Jim tells me that he and Maxine are going to take the beginning rider class. Like I said, Jim has wisdom. It was a fun day.

Update:

You read of Ann earlier. She was a student in my class earlier this month. Due to physical limitations she did not go very far. I talked with her on the 17th. Ann purchased a 49cc Honda Ruckus scooter. She has had a couple of very short rides so far. This size bike does not require an endorsement. I still encouraged her to come back and take the class on her Ruckus. The experience will serve her well. I worry about her but hope she finds what she seeks.

2 comments:

Mad said...

Yay! I just gave a cheer for Ann, those Rukus things are funky little scooters. Also I can't think of anything with a lower centre of gravity, that should make it easier for her. I hope she gets good riding gear too.

Why do BMW do that indicator thing? Everyone else has decided how the switches work but BMW just has to do it differently?

A note on those laser speed guns:
Bikers in Britain are beginning to fight speed tickets from those things. It seems that they were never tested on motorbikes before they were given Home Office type approval. The evidence is mounting that unless they are aimed and held on the license plate that they misread bike speeds, sometimes by large margins. I tend to err on the side of law enforcement but on this one I'm anti as I got pinged and sent a ticket when I know I wasn't speeding. I'm still trying to decide whether to fight it in court or not.

You know, that's pretty decent of you helping the guy out with his new beemer. A big ol' bike like that must be quite a shock to a rusty rider. You epitomise what I love about the biker community, that helpful spirit and camaraderie. When I was waiting to get picked up after binning my Zed I lost track of the number bikers who stopped to see if I was ok.

irondad said...

mad,
Good point on the low COG on the Ruckus. She has a really nice modular flip-up helmet. Problem is, she wants the strap loose and the front flipped up. She says it makes her feel claustrophobic.

As far as the guy with the Beemer goes, thanks for the kind words. It was all just a clever ploy to ride someone else's new bike. Seriously, the camaraderie is a great thing. In this case, I had to walk the talk. As a professional trainer I tell people not to ride over their limits. I could not maintain credibility without steppinp up and putting my money where my mouth was. That's why I made the offer. Besides, it felt really great to help! Jim and Maxine are such nice people, too.