Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sharin' the Road!

This week I'm honored to introduce a rider who lives on the opposite coast from me. Though separated by a little over three thousand miles, we have more in common than the distance would imply. Motorcycling transcends boundaries that normally divide humans. The scenery and weather may be different but the passion for riding looks markedly similar. That's one of the things that's so cool about it!

Some of you are most likely already acquainted with Michael. He was a frequent commenter on Gary's blog. Now Michael graces this and other blogs with commentary from a character called Conchscooter. If you like looking at photos of Florida, cruise on over to his blog, Key West Diary. There's a link at the end of the post. I didn't put the link here because I didn't want you to go away, yet! Relax and enjoy the pictures and post Michael was kind enough to share with me. Ok, I nagged him into it, but the end result is the same, right? My blog is going to look like his for this post thanks to the many pictures. Don't worry, Conch, it's only temporary!

Without further ado, here's Michael.

So why is it everyone isn't abandoning their cars for a motorcycle or scooter to commute in this balmy climate? Beats me, but I sure do enjoy my Triumph at 24 degrees North latitude, and I enjoy it year round on my 25 mile commute to Key West.

I live in a stilt house in the Lower Keys, what we think of as "the suburbs", in this island chain, and there is but one road into town. Luckily for me it has great views and every day is a fresh ride for me. The commute varies between my different moods,the moods of the weather and the moods of my fellow travelers on the Overseas Highway. I've been riding the same road for three years and I never tire of the bridges and causeways.

Because I work nights ( as a Key West Police Department dispatcher ) I pull my stuff together around five o'clock on the afternoons I'm working and get ready to ride. This time of year it's broad daylight and the sun is a deep golden color as it edges towards the horizon, bathing my house in a glow that I just don't want to leave. My Bonneville is a good excuse to tear myself away and by the time I'm ambling towards the highway at the end of my street I'm in the mood to go.

The 2007 Bonneville uses carburetors which return less miles per gallon than fuel injection but if I'm careful on the acceleration I can get 47 miles per gallon. That drops to 43 if I wind up the 865cc motorcycle in a hurry. It's hard to resist the temptation, as it's the only time I really get to feel what the big air cooled twin can do on this sedate roadway. Speed limits are 45 and 55 miles per hour on various stretches and it's rare I get to see 70 miles per hour on the open bits. I got pulled over a few weeks ago at 6:15 in the morning but I got off with a verbal warning.

I've been riding for a long time and I think part of the reason my commute retains its magic is because I have lots of riding memories stored up in my head. These days I like the warm weather and the easy riding style of the single, no elevation highway. I do miss mountain twisties, but when I lived in Santa Cruz California, I had lots of excellent roads to ride in my back yard mountains. But the weather was awful: Cold! Fog! Drizzle! And that was summer!

If I wanted economy I'd drive a small car, one of the new generation vehicles like a Yaris or an Aveo with small tires, small engines and about as much joy on the road as a dead badger. No, I ride because it's fun. It seems almost criminal these days to confess that infernal combustion is fun ( and only theoretically economical ). Motorcycle tires are expensive and need frequent replacement ( rear every 8,000 miles front every 12,000 miles ) and they aren't cheap. Chain drive, accessories, spares, all cost money and even a flat tire can be a pricey proposition.

I ride about 1500 miles a month, year round, and on those days when I have to drive the car I stare out the windows at passing motorcycles and wonder why, even for one solitary day, I have to be in a cage. I think I'm obsessed, and I hope I don't change. I really like riding to work. And I like riding home from work in the dawn's early light even better. And so to bed.


Editor's note: Yes, you're obsessed. While we're at it, a dead badger in the road can actually be fun!

Next week look for Stacy. She's a newer rider finding her way on this journey of ours. Her fresh enthusiasm will have you smiling.

Care to share? Stop by the camp fire and share your story. Show off your bike and some favorite pictures. I'm working with a couple of folks for future visits. Love to have some more company. Drop me a line at and invite yourself over!

Miles and smiles,



Conchscooter said...

Whooo, my Bonneville looks really good! Everyone should ride one. Thanks for the space Iron One, now you have to get back to imparting wisdom and helping us all stay upright...cheers/Michael

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Dan, your blog is terrific and I look forward to your educational posts. But, I really like your Sharing the Road section. I enjoy the Key West Diary that conchscooter writes and you giving others the exposure your site offers is great. Thank you for allowing me and others to borrow some of your space.

Stacy said...

That Bonneville sure is pretty! Great write-up!

Charlie6 said...

Conch, being obsessed with riding is a good thing....I am similarly affected. My wife calls it my prozac on wheels treatment....

Steve Williams said...

Those Bonneville's sure do look pretty. And they must have a powerful mental affect on memory since there is no mention of any scooters in this man's background...*grin*

Great interview regardless and the idea of fine weather year round has a wonderful ring to it. A sudden relapse yesterday to 44 degrees just had me groaning as I geared up to ride to work yesterday morning. It's 36 right now but will soar to 48 by midday! I could almost use the electric gloves again...

So yeah, I guess I do envy the warmth, the ocean, the house on stilts, and the Bonneville, just a bit. It's really nice that Dan has set up these vicarious opportunities to sort of ride another ride.

Looking forward to the next interview and more education on riding technique and mindset. Until then I will be waiting patiently...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks
Theoretical Agriculture

irondad said...

You mean, like, come back from my Florida vacation?

Arizona Harley Dude,
You're welcome. I think the variety of different personalities makes it fun, too.

You're next!

More of both to come!

Take care,