Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meandering musings.

Is it really Spring?

Can't believe the weather this last week! The calendar says we're well into Spring. Try to prove that by the weather. We had the latest snowfall on record. The previous record was April 11, 1911. Now that's been shattered by nearly a week. There was snow in Portland on Saturday. I was in town for a couple of days doing instructor training. Riding home on Sunday night, things didn't look too bad, weatherwise. Then I saw the black clouds. Big, black clouds!! As I turned onto Interstate 5 from 217, the deluge began. In North Wilsonville, the rain turned to vicious hail. The roadway was literally covered in slippery little white and icy marbles. For once, drivers did the right thing and slowed down. We all got through it fine. Sophie and I experienced a couple of anxious moments but all's well that ends well. I really wanted to take a photo but figured I'd be totally crazy to stop on the shoulder, snap a picture, then expect to merge back into traffic in the ice. Besides, I didn't want to take my helmet off. The hail stung badly enough through my jacket as it was.

Yesterday afternoon I was in Salem. Once again, there was nasty weather. This time there was no ice, just torrential rains. From about 1 PM on I found myself barely able to see through the wall of water. The freeway had standing water for miles and miles. So far today the rain's been light but the wind blew me all around as I rode. I've decided to become a spectator from the warmth of my home office this afternoon. As I look out the window it appears the wind will soon have a lot of rain to play with. I can hear the wind howling out there right now. One of these days it will be warm and sunny. I've got a post in the works about a sunny Saturday two weekends ago. Katie and I rode to a historical old flour mill and took the tour. For now, though, I'm just staring at the pictures trying to remember what it feels like to ride in the sunshine!

No, the bike should be propelling you, not the other way around!

Saw this poor guy pushing his bike down the street. He's still got his leather jacket and helmet on. Don't know how far he's pushed the bike. By the time I got my bike pulled safely over, he looked to be nearly home as this street deadends at the canal in front of him. So I pulled out the Razor phone and snapped a sort of faraway picture. I'll probably be setting myself up for bad luck, but I haven't pushed a broken-down bike since 1987. There's been one or two training bikes, but that's a different thing. Knock on wood, my rides have been void of pushing encounters. Other than pushing my luck, of course. That's how I get my exercise!

The Best Buy guy upgrades his bike.

You might remember a post a while back where I wondered who this rider was. The old Yamaha had been parked at the same parking spot year 'round. Not continuously, of course. But it was plain that this person was commuting. Yesterday I saw a different bike in his accustomed spot.

This bike is obviously a KLR. No mistaking that distinct look. I don't know what year it is. There's almost thirteen thousand miles on the odometer. Since it wasn't critical I didn't really snoop for the manufacturer's plate. I did, however, go into Best Buy. I'd done this previously. That time I asked the greeter who it was that rode the bike. He didn't really seem to want to tell me. So I left a note asking him to give it to the rider. I don't think it happened. This time I bypassed the front desk. You know how it is with people. Sometimes if you just go up and approach someone with a direct question they'll answer it. A girl working in the digital camera department told me the rider's name was Cass and he worked in the media section. So I went there to inquire of a person in that department. They told me that Cass was off but had parked the bike there while he went to a movie on the other side of the mall.

One day I'll meet this guy and ask if he'd like to appear here. He certainly fits my definition of a motorcycle commuter. I just don't want to appear to be a stalker!

By the way, I think this guy rides for regular transportation, as well. It was his day off but he rode anyway on a bad weather day. In a strange coincidence, I found myself heading out of Salem around 6 PM. It was pouring rain but I saw the same bike parked on a downtown street. In front of another movie theatre. Hmm, wonder what he does in his spare time?

New toys

I've recently purchased a couple of new toys to try out. My boss gave me a gift certificate from for Christmas. Wanting to savor it for a while, I spent some time sort of dreaming and drooling. Reading a review in Motorcyclist Magazine, I decided to use the gift certificate for this. As a point of curiosity, I took a picture of the box up against a wall. I used the closeup feature of the Kodak point and shoot. It almost looks like it could be from a catalog, doesn't it?

Mostly when Katie rides with me, we each enjoy the silence. We've become accomplished at communicating the things we really need to. Once in a while, though, it would be nice to actually talk to each other. This is a helmet-to-helmet communicator. Each pod uses Bluetooth to communicate. There's no wires. Motorcyclist's editor, Mark Tuttle gave it a good review. Obviously it's not going to be as good as some fancy systems, but Mark said it was very functional. The other advantage is that the rider's pod will also interface with something like a GPS unit at the same time. Ihave the Garmin Zumo 550 which still needs to be wired into Sophie. You need external power to get the Bluetooth and voice prompts. The passenger won't be able to hear the voice prompts, just the rider. I know the box says it can be used for cell phones, too, but I'm not willing to go there. Part of the reason I ride is to find freedom. Being tied to a cell phone isn't only unsafe, it defeats the purpose in the first place.
Here's what the equipment looks like all laid out. Both pods have rechargeable batteries. The duo speakers are thin and light. The base for each unit is a quick mount to the helmet and doesn't have to be permanent. I'll let you know they work. Click here to see their website.

This is my other purchase.

It's an SLR digital camera. I'd been doing a little research here and there. Bryce was kind enough to send me a link to a website that reviews digital cameras. Once you wade through how to navigate and use the site, it's quite helpful. If you're interested, click here.

Gary, Steve, and I were the original Three Muskateers as far as the Ride to Work blogs go. Gary's dropped out to spend more time with the girls. I can really identify with that. Like Steve says, blogs are hungry creatures. If that time can only come at night at the expense of time with family, it's a huge sacrifice. Steve's gone on to blog in another arena. I feel like the "Old Man", now. Without Steve's great photos I feel a little pressure to upgrade my own photos. Not that I'll ever be on par with Steve. That's not my calling.

"Dammit, Jim, I'm a motorcyclist, not a photographer!"

I picked the Nikon for a variety of reasons that worked for me. Not the least of which is that Shutterbug was having an awesome promotion. The price on the camera was only down a little but they threw in a bunch of accessories for me. A monostick, a card reader, and a cleaning kit were some of them. I ended up with an Epson photo printer at a net cost of zero if I ever get the mail-in rebate. The manager was convinced by me to throw in a couple of filters. Then he gave me a hundred dollars off a 55-200 zoom lense with stabilization features built in.

Having better equipment doesn't automatically make one a better anything, I know. However, I've paid my dues with a few Kodak point and shoot cameras so I feel like I can expand my abilities somewhat with the new camera. So far it's not even out of the box but I'm looking forward to starting that journey soon.

By the way, with some new electrical wiring I'm doing on Sophie, I'm going to be making another purchase from Andy in the next day or two. It always blows me away how much stuff is available from them. If you haven't checked them out, go see them. The catalogs and online descriptions are always entertaining for an added bonus!

Once you get more than one or two electrical things wired onto a bike, you really should install a fused panel. Actually, you should do it for anything more than one thing. There's only one connection required to the battery that way. Nobody likes battery terminals that look like a mess of porcupine quills! The panel has several individually fused circuits. When the key is turned on the panel is energized. This also has the added advantage of preventing an electrical device from being left on, thereby promptly draining the battery. I hate it when that happens!

So that's it for now. Lots happening. Several of you have responded to my invitation to appear here as guests. It remains to be seen who will be the first. A reader named Ford ( I'll keep him mostly anonymous here ) suggested I name the guest spot. He pointed out that AutoWeek Magazine has a guest spot called "A Stint at the Wheel".

I think that's a totally great idea. He's put out a suggestion for a name. Do you all have any ideas on what to call it?

Miles and smiles,



Charlie6 said...

Lots of farkles! Good Stuff. I sometimes get to borrow my wife's D50 Nikon DSLR, good gear. Only real gripe is that it does not fit in my tankbag what with all the electric stuff I carry in there already. It travels in the trunk in its own case.

Had something similar to the centech fuse block on my first motorcycle, very handy for hooking up your electronic farkles.

Yeah, hail stings. : )

Doug C said...

I've been perusing bluetooth intercoms for months now and have read about everything I can about both the Cardo Scala Rider products and the Interphone stuff. I'll be looking forward to your impressions on that puppy.

Here in central Ohio, we have had 5, going on 6 straight days of spectacular weather.

Please thank the weather gods for wringing out all the excess moisture before it gets to us!

The Snark said...

I'm back. Sort of.

irondad said...

I've noticed that about this camera and the new bag. It will definitely take up more room.

Doug C,
My plan is to report the results here sometime or other. You're welcome for all the suffering we're doing so you can enjoy good weather! Send some back, will you?

See my comment on your blog.

Take care,