Monday, March 24, 2008

Riding to work during Easter.

With no kids or grandkids to hide eggs for, I followed my passion. You guessed it, I taught a class. This time it was in Eugene, about an hour South of me. One day's ride was dry while Sunday tried to drown me. All in all, though, it was great fun. Another batch of new riders was launched while one man had the chance to find out in a safe place that riding isn't for him. Success either way.

I want to share some musings from these two days.

It's amazing how an image can evoke such emotions in one's mind. This hill is visible from our range. There's something about it that makes me think of freedom and adventure. It doesn't really go anywhere. Over the hill the road drops into the commercial outskirts of Eugene. Still, though, every time I look at the hill I think of adventure and fun on a bike. There actually is adventure on some days. Those trees are home to a lot of deer. I've come around the blind on-ramp only to find a deer staring at me. More than once. Another reason to expect the worse when you can't see the end of the corner.



I left for home about 5 PM on Saturday. Katie wanted to go to church in the evening and I had agreed to pop on home and join her. Sophie was content to stay on the Interstate for a while. Soon, though, she smelled a familiar curvy road and took the bit in her teeth. It would only add about 15 minutes to the ride so I let her take us there. Heck, I could always eat after church instead of before! In Harrisburg there's a private air strip that parallels the road. One of the neatest things about being on a bike is that it makes me so much more open to unexpected adventures. I'm more willing to take a little detour or pause a bit to look at something. We found a small treasure on the ride. How many cagers miss these kind of things in their insulated boxes?

A small aircraft was banking in towards the landing strip. It was an ultralight type craft, similar to a Breezy. A fixed wing crossed over the top of the cockpit. The motor was in the middle of the wing with a prop at the rear. Amber colored vinyl type plastic enclosed the pilot who sat out in front of the wing and motor. As the craft lined up with the runway, I slowed to match its speed. The plane and the motorcycle gracefully travelled together. Rubber kissed tarmac as the aircraft touched down. Pilot and rider exchanged waves. I was looking West and the setting sun added an extra glow to the aircraft. It was a magical moment.

Sunday morning brought rain. Children would be hunting soggy Easter eggs. City streets were quiet as I left town. The freeway, however, was busier. Riding in traffic in the rain has its own challenges. For some reason I had the same thing happen to me over and over. It wasn't a problem as I always expect drivers to do stupid things. Have you noticed how common this scenario is getting?

I ride mostly in the hammer lane. This stretch of freeway has two lanes. It's safer for me to ride a little faster than prevailing traffic. Too much lane changing can be a hazard. That's right, Officer, I'm doing it for safety, not because I like to ride briskly! Anyway, people in the right lane are driving at the speed limit or a little under. Pretty soon they start to come up on an even slower vehicle. Faster traffic like me are coming up in the left lane. It used to be that these slower drivers would wait for a safe gap and then move into the faster lane. Not anymore. Maybe one in a hundred does that.

What I see over and over, whether in a car or on a bike, is that these drivers pull over right in front of me. Are people collectively getting too stupid to fathom how dangerous this is? Are they just getting so selfish or rude that they don't care? Do they figure everyone else has to adjust to them? Has cruise control gotten so spiritually powerful that people fear to take their vehicles off of it? All I can tell you for sure is that it really disgusts me how people drive now.

Speaking of riding in the rain, Sophie was getting pretty darned dirty.

I ride in any weather and Sophie's no Garage Queen. Who has time to be washing that often? Thursday afternoon I changed her oil. My intentions were to wash her then but it started hailing. Plus the wind was blowing cold into the carport. I lost my enthusiasm for washing so I let it go. Most of the time Sophie's ok with that. She's proud to be a Road Warrior-ette. Once in a while, though, she gets a little insecure. Like when she was parked next to this hunky BMW GS big dual sport.

I know how she feels. I'm pretty secure in who I am. I'm not fat and not bad looking. In fact, some gal recently told me that in my black Rayban aviator style sunglasses I looked sort of like Tom Cruise. She was neither blind, drunk, my wife, or my mother! I don't flirt with women. My heart is solidly faithful to Katie, my best buddy and soulmate. Why is it then, that when an exceptionally pretty girl walks by, I automatically stand up straigher and expand my chest a little?

Sophie shined her two little low beams at me. I could see shame in her gaze. Guilt moved me to wash and spiff her up today. Katie and I are riding her to Medford this weekend. That's a three hour ride South. Two new instructors are teaching this weekend with me as a Mentor. Sophie won't have any reason to be self conscious. She's all clean and shiny. I even applied a little Armour-All restoring cream to her plastics and seat. Not too much on the seat, though, I don't want Katie sliding off!

Six fifteen PM Sunday saw me once more heading up the road to home. Staying on the freeway got me home in 45 minutes. You see, Katie had told me she'd have a homemade pizza in the oven when I got home. Sure enough, I walked in the back door and was greeted by the smell of pizza dough and spiced sausage cooking. Heavenly.

What better way to end a weekend of being immersed in my two wheeled passion? A sweet woman and a hot pizza!

Miles and smiles,

Dan



16 comments:

Charlie6 said...

dan

highly recommend the Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner products for your motorcycle instead of armor-all.

no slipperiness and it "rejuvenates" the leather. I've been told, have no proof, that armor-all is not that great for leather.

Charlie6 said...

another way to look at the disparity of your sophie being less than clean when parked nex to that GS....seems to me, that GS should have been the one that was more mud-spattered! Sophie is obviously getting out a lot more than the GS.

if I was the GS rider, I'd be "embarrassed" that a street bike is showing more signs of being ridden perhaps?

BodySafe said...

G/Day Dan
Like your observances re the cruise control mate. I think it takes away the responsibility of the car drive and to monitor their speeds, creating a set and forget attitude/habit. Been observing them for over 5 years and there are more HEAD-ONs now. They used to have hand throttle extras in cars up to the fifties but they were outlawed because of the danger. What do you suggest? The car manufactors would deny this LIABILITY. The Cruise Control does not know when you are asleep. Happiness n Sunshine to you
Bo

Lady Ridesalot said...

I love reading your posts. I'm fairly new to blogging, but I am enjoying meeting my new friends. I took a MST class three years ago, here in Ala., and I thought our instructors were outstanding! I really appreciated their patience, information, and great advice for us newbies. To this day, if I have to swerve or make some kind of quick maneuver, I can hear their voice in my head. I really learned a lot! I felt like I had received a good foundation to grow on when I left that class! You can take pride in knowing that what you do really makes a difference to riders who are open to your teachings. Ride safe! Lady R.

irondad said...

Bo,
Thanks for stopping by. I think cruise control should have a feature like locomotives. The throttles often stay in the same position for a long time. There's an "alerter" system on the engines. Every so often the thing lights up and starts a countdown. The engineer has to push a button before the countdown expires to let the system know they're still conscious.

If it got to be an inconvenience to car drivers, maybe they'd actually go back to driving!

Lady Ridesalot,
Appreciate the kind words. I've had students come back and tell me the same story. How they faced a situation and heard my voice in their head. Hopefully new riders will develop their own voices.

It's feedback like yours that keeps us doing what we do with enthusiasm!

Charlie6,
I like the way you think about the bikes! Actually, there's an interesting story with that silver GS.

The instructor who rides it is a tall, lanky, French Canadian. He and I went to an off road school together. He bought the GS with about 600 miles on it so it was pretty new. I was on a borrowed GS650.

On the way home we saw this spot that begged us to go practice our drills. One skill we sort of picked up was doing long wheelies. So Alain initiates his wheelie on his big GS, forgetting that he now has 60 pounds of luggage on the back.

You know what happened. The bike went over backwards and got some extra scratches! So it has been covered in desert dirt at least once!

I'm quite sure that Sophie sees more miles than most bikes. Thanks for sticking up for us.

P.S. thanks for the leather care tip. I usually use Corbin saddle cream on the seat but got lazy this time.


Take care,

Dan

Camron said...

I took off on a ride myself, sunday. My youngest son is a little old for the Eggs & all, but he went with me on the ride & we had a ball.
I get the same feeling of an adventure awaiting everytime I look at the mountains locally. There's always something up there calling to me. Thanks for sharing, I thought I was just delusional!
Have a great week.

Bryce said...

Need to kick myself the other day.
Read once again the header:
"Musings of an Intrepid Commuter."

Have to remind myself you commute on your motorcycle so how you ride and
when you ride and what you ride
depends not so much on the weather or the day rather on the idea that
commuting means Sophie is your means
of transport, as much as horse would've been in past times. Horses
got dirty and had to brushed, well
so do two wheeled horses, they too
require a cleaning and brushing
although I am not sure if the horse
of the past would be polished as well.

As to two horses side by side, one
is a race horse and used to cover
great distance quickly, the other
a trail horse a somewhat slower
mode of transport, even if it does go ass over teakettle proving it
can do such things. Wonder if real horses fell backwards if they reared up on their rear hooves and lost their balance?

Just consider lucky you can ride at this time of year...more snow anybody?

barb michelen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
irondad said...

Spammers are parasitic pond scum!!

Camron,
This post doesn't mean you're not delusional. It only means you're not alone!

Bryce,
I grew up on horses. Yes, I've had one I was trying to break rear up and fall over. It happens. I've known of some riders to break a leg. Fortunately I didn't share that fate.

Nice comparison between bikes and horses for transportation. I always feel like a modern day cowboy. Thanks for the thoughts. They will entertain me for a while.

Take care,

Dan

Allen Madding said...

Sorry, I thought some one said "Pizza" :)

Krysta in Milwaukee said...

In that top picture, I hope the ambulance wasn't there because of your class... ;)


"Children would be hunting soggy Easter eggs."

You know where the custom of coloring eggs started? Wisconsin, so the kids can find them in the snow. (I shovelled about 14" on Good Friday.)


re: dirty bikes
2 schools of thought as to which is 'better' for purposes of impressing others: clean but obviously ridden, or dirty so it's obvious to everyone that it's been ridden.
Unless you're just returning from the sandbox / mudpit, I think used but cared for is better. Shows more attention to detail. At least turn the hose on it and get off the worst of the dirt.
(Of course, I think that if it's not paved it's not a road, so my perception may be a bit skewed.)

And why would Sophie be embarrassed by a little dirt when she's next to a GS? I think he'd like a gal who's not afraid to get some dirt here and there. It's obvious she cleans up nice.


"Are people collectively getting too stupid?"

This is part of the problem, yes. Stupid, lazy, or have never been taught to think, only regurgitate data.


"Are they just getting so selfish or rude that they don't care? Do they figure everyone else has to adjust to them?"

IMHO this is most of the problem, yes. That handily explains 'cell yell', road rage, boom cars, tailgating, cutting in line, talking in movies, littering, standing in front of the doors to a building while smoking, DUI, and a host of other things that boil down to poor upbringing & an "I'm the only one" attitude. They don't even know other people exist. let alone have any consideration for the needs of others.

(Gee, who put that soapbox there for me to trip over?)

Krysta in Milwaukee said...

I forgot...

"Why is it then, that when an exceptionally pretty girl walks by, I automatically stand up straigher and expand my chest a little?"

Because you're human, male, and straight.

Heinz & Frenchie said...

We had to chuckle about your remarks on bad drivers. We think you haven't seen bad drivers until you come to florida. I95 is called "Route Suicide" and that is in reference to cars, so we cannot imagine traveling it on 2 wheels. Of course we are scooter riders, but anything smaller than a tank is risking their life on the highways here. Stay safe and don't worry about a little dirt.

Steve Williams said...

I think bad driving appears worse when there are a lot of vehicles around. People jockey for position more and are more frustrated I guess. And that on top of listening to the radio, yakking on the phone...

I just don't see a lot of it because I don't see all that much traffic when I am riding. And I definitely go the other direction on the speedometer to ride "safely" when there is traffic. The Vespa can't really blow by traffic on the freeway. And what the hell would I be doing on the freeway anyways. ( I do from time to time).

Or maybe we are just more civilized here in William Penn's Woods! What ever it is be careful on the road Dan.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...

Allen,
Dude, I'd have invited you but I thought you were a spaghetti guy!

Krysta,
No, the ambulance was just parked there. Interestingly, it was from a community college 60 miles North. No idea why it was sitting there.

I agree. Any GS would fall for a gal like Sophie.

The soap box must be something we both like!

Heinz & Frenchie,
You know a guy like me's going to take riding 195 as a challenge!

Steve,
I'm sure people are more civilized in your neck of the woods. We're still feeling our Wild West roots. You're exactly right about things getting worse when traffic gets stacked up.

It's always then that I see people get impatient and stupid. The frenzy starts in earnest then.

Take care,
Dan

Anonymous said...

Nice to be able to read your blog about riding in a land far distant from my own. What is most interesting is the simalarities between riding here and there! I have been riding for many years (safely, thankfully)and the aggressivness of the car driver has increased. If I am out riding then extra awareness is needed when following the speed restrictions..... why? Because if you follow the speed limits then you will be overtaken in towns, in swings and blind corners! Just the other day I was overtaken by a lady of 75 years in her 35 year old skoda and I was doing 5km more than I should:-( near a school as well. The trend of older riders going back to mc riding or just realising the dream of boyhood is telling over here. Last year there were 42 motorcycle related deaths in my country (total pop. 6 mill 200.000 registered MC owners)of the 42 over 30 were men over 40 yrs old! I no longer commute on a bike but I would recommend it to anyone wanting to gain experience. Training is important yes but so is practice. My instructor from when I first started out always said" I can teach you how but you really start learning after you have passed your test!"
All the best Martin
PS If you expect the worst then at least you have a chance of avoiding it!