Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wisdom from the Master

I've been working on a two part technical post in between everything else. My intention was to post the first installment today with the second one appearing on Friday. Alas, life has interfered with that plan. In the meantime, here's a few things to pass the time. At the end of the post I'm going to share some distilled wisdom from the Master. Be ready, Grasshopper.

Tuesday was a really long day. I saddled up Sophie and headed for Kirkland, Washington for a sales meeting with the gang up there. We left home at 3:45 AM and got back home at 9 PM. Hey, it's a chance to ride a long ways and I get to turn in for mileage at 45 cents a mile. The weather was MUCH warmer than the last trip I took just before Christmas. Coming home, the little thermometer I installed indicated 67 degrees (f).

I might pass on a couple of notable things from the ride up. I hit the Portland area at about a quarter to five in the morning. There was a young gal in the lane to my right. As she was driving she had a cell phone glued to her right ear. My first thought was "Who is she talking to at this time of morning?"

There's some road construction happening on Interstate 5 in the Tacoma area and then again between Fife and Seattle. It seems like it's been going on forever. I narrowly avoided disaster. My habits saved me. In heavier traffic I always fight to keep a space cushion around me. It's hard to maintain a good following distance when cars want to dive in front of me. I'm glad I work so hard at it, though. I was planning a lane change to the right to get out of the HOV lane. There was a transit bus farther ahead in the same lane. I figured I'd go around the bus then get back into the HOV lane. Between the bus and I were several other cars.

As I scanned the road ahead I saw a spot right on the edge of my lane where the cement was missing. There was a rectangular hole about 6 inches wide, 4 feet long, and about a foot deep. If I was right behind the vehicle ahead of me I'd never have seen it in time to avoid it. I shudder to think what would happen if a bike got the front wheel trapped in there. Good habits are priceless!

The other interesting thing I saw was a Tukwila motor cop on a big, white Goldwing. We rode side by side for a while. It looked a little cumbersome for a police bike, but a lot of agencies in Washington seem to be using them. One of my friends up there is an accident reconstruction specialist. He needs to carry a lot of gear. Best of both worlds for him. Riding a bike and taking everything with him, too.

Speaking of Goldwings, on some days I swear I'm going to get one. I seem to be spending my life riding the Interstates any more. At least I'd have a great stereo and other fabulous farkles to entertain me! Have you seen the airbag on the new 'Wing?

The way the bag's anchored makes it look weird when it's inflated. Between that and the color of the airbag I saw, it looks like someone's giant rear end. If the rider hits the bag in the middle it looks like they're doing a face plant in a huge butt crack. Maybe it's meant that way as a deterrent factor. As in, "If you run into something you're going to pay by having to insert your face 'you know where'!" It certainly makes me want to work harder at avoiding crashes.

Yesterday I had a presentation to a very large corporation. They'd just purchased this company for 8 BILLION dollars!! Yeah, you read it right. I met with some executives to discuss the products of ours they were currently using. I also made suggestions on other things that would solve some problems they are having. This time I was in a suit and tie. Had to drive since part of the deal was transporting them to lunch. Imagine that. This Warrior on a motorcycle rubbing elbows with executives from a multi-billion dollar corporation. Blows your mind, doesn't it?

Once the pressure was off, I came home and fired up the VFR. I needed to decompress. These pictures are from a little stop-over at Freeway Lakes. These little lakes span both sides of Interstate 5. I was afraid to get the bike too close to the water so it could be in the picture. You can see that it's still muddy and soft. Not to mention sloping down toward the lake at a pretty pronounced angle. So I wimped out and left the bike on the only cement available. There's a little patch of concrete that the outhouse sits on. Just enough room for a bike to one side. Anyway, when I saw the trees reflected in the water I just had to take the shot. The time's somewhere around 4:30 PM.

Today's my daughter's 26th birthday. Even though she's married and working on becoming an architect, she still expects Dad to "do" something on this day. We have dinner reservations real soon. It will be a race to see whether I finish this before her and Katie grab me by the collar and drag me out of here. I hope to finish the two part posting tomorrow so I can publish it in the next couple of days. As you can see, time's been more scarce lately.

I continually stress to my students the need to be smooth. I provide counsel on communicating our intentions to other traffic. We discuss our responsibility to put ourselves where traffic expects to see us. These among many other things. I've been looking for a way to express the philosophy in modern day terminology. I don't want to be looked upon as a square fuddy duddy. No, I wanna be considered "with it". I need to remain relevant. Which means I gotta keep up with the times, dudes and dudettes. Having pondered it for weeks ( ok, days )(ok, ok, minutes ) here's what I've come up with. Here's the strategy for being smooth in traffic. It doesn't only apply to bikes. It's also useful advice no matter what we're driving.

The strategy I've come up with is called "The Principle of Least Surprise". Here's how it goes.

"Never do anything in traffic that might make a soccer mom spill her latte!"

Miles and smiles,



Tinker said...

Is it okay to just make her do a "spit take"? Or see if you can make her swallow her cell phone?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'd be happy if the soccer moms even had a clue I was on the road as well.

Still, wouldn't want her to spill her latte. It might make her drop her cell phone.

Combatscoot said...

Or drop her cigarrette...

Bryce said...

Reading about all the driving
Sophie does...don't you ever get real heavy snow, black ice and frozen slick roads in your part of Oregon?

Steve Williams said...

As funny as it sounds I think "Never do anything in traffic that might make a soccer mom spill her latte!" is probably a worthy goal for a rider.

While I don't want to be invisible on the road I also don't want to change to flow of traffic either. I want to move smoothly down the road, bending in the wind..... If I am causing spills I'll end up paying for it somewhere down the road.

67 degrees! I long for those temperatures.

I'm not sure if my daughters expect special treatment on their birthdays but I don't want to find out by not celebrating. The youngest just turned 25 and the oldest will mark 27 in a few weeks. Time really is moving by. What happened?

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...

Whatever you can get away with while not getting flattened in the process!

What John said.

I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Mostly we get a lot of rain. Heavy snow here is very infrequent. When it does snow it shuts everything down because nobody knows how to handle it.

There is freezing rain and black ice off and on. Even though it's spread over time, all together the Winter's worth of this kind of weather doesn't amount to more than a couple of weeks or so.

Freezing fog is becoming more of a problem all the time. At least that's my perception. I just plan accordingly.