Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ride Instead of Drive Month

I've decided to liven things up during this coming month of September. Tuesday the 9th is my birthday. Being more or less past the mid-life crisis age, this birthday isn't any sort of trigger. At least, mostly not. It has made me more aware of one thing in particular. More on that later.

The title of this post is what I've chosen to lump everything under. It's by no means the only thing on my mind, though. Let's just call it a place to start.

Bear with me while I relate a small story.

You most likely know of a certain governor in California that goes by the name of Arnold. Rumor has it that he used to be a pretty successful competitive bodybuilder. There's a story about how, at one point of his muscular development, Arnold's calves weren't coming along as well as the rest of him. As a remedy, Arnold wore only shorts for a period of time. This solution forced Arnold to give his calves attention as they were always visible.

What does this have to do with motorcycling? Nothing and everything.

Fall's coming. Around here that will mean rain and wet roads. In other places it will bring colder temperatures. In the meantime there's the transition period. Good traction and bad traction will be sharing the same roads. Pretty soon we'll see fewer and fewer bikes out. Those who stay riding longer will be called upon to use skills not used as much in warm, dry, conditions.

Which brings us back to Arnold's calves. Not that I care about his legs all that much. His solution intrigues me, though. We all have weaknesses in our riding. Maybe we're lacking in low traction riding skills. Could be we don't scan as aggressively as we should. Makes it easier to miss critical clues about traction availability or the lack thereof. Riding in traffic when it's dark and wet calls for especially keen scanning and decision making skills. Perhaps what keeps us from riding longer into the year is just the lack of the proper gear. Fill in the blank to customize to your own circumstances.

Zooming in on a skill or item that's lacking isn't done with the purpose of depressing oneself. The idea is to identify it, then give it some extra attention. Power comes from turning weaknesses into strengths.

It's been awhile since I've put on the trainer's hat here in the blog. I'm itching to share again. After all, training riders is a huge passion for me. Look for more riding tips and wisdom in upcoming posts. I'm also toying with the idea of creating a place for riders to share stories. Kind of a "here's what happened to me and here's what I learned" kind of thing. It would also be ok to use the classic "I have this friend" line, too!

Sophie's going up for sale. I'm giving my full attention to Elvira. That's just the way it has to be to make the break. As a sort of "getting back to my roots" move, I've declared September my Ride Instead of Drive Month. I almost declared it Ride to Work Month but held back for a couple of reasons.

For one, I didn't want to risk raising Andy's ire by getting too close to his Ride to Work Day. Mr. Goldfine's an awesome guy but don't mess with his baby! Secondly, riding to work is limiting. A bike's also perfect for errands and pleasure rides as well. Thus the ride instead of drive idea.

There was a day when I'd go months without driving. Actually, it wasn't all that long ago. The last couple of years with a new career have made it tougher to do. Thanks to an enlightened boss and my good reputation ( I never knew what that was like before!) I can ride a lot more. September seems like the perfect time to make it happen. I've been an ardent advocate of using a bike instead of a car for everything possible. It's time to make sure I'm actually leading by example again. As a bonus, there's a trip to Northern Idaho next week and a trip to Southern Oregon the week after. It will be a great chance for the FJR and I to blend our spirits. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Take a shot at it yourself, if you can. Success doesn't hinge on a perfect score. Even a few days more than normal is a winner! Be sure to share anywhere in the comments, even if the post is on a different subject. We all want to celebrate so be sure to give us a reason!

Katie and I went riding on Monday. We stuck to back roads in order to avoid the returning from camping and partying crowd. By now I can string rural roads in my head like some sort of demented spider web. Somewhere in the middle of it this gloved hand touches me on the shoulder. The owner of such hand requested a restroom break. Out in the middle of wherever. Flipping charts in my brain, I remembered a small state park within a few miles. In an event of fortuity we also ended up taking a very interesting tour of an old grinding mill. I'll try to get the photos together and share it here.

Speaking of sharing, there's a guest poster looming around the corner. We're negotiating right now. She's trying to condense it to two posts. I think it's pretty cool and am trying to get her to expand it to three posts. Ultimately it's her decision but look for it soon!

As you can see, I'm still playing with colors and layout here. I'm just in the mood to create, it seems. Please offer me the gift of your patience and input as I try different combinations.

Well, that's it for now. Oh, I almost forgot. My upcoming birthday figures into things because I suddenly sat bolt upright with a somewhat scary thought. I've been riding for over four decades. It's safe to say that I have more riding time behind me than ahead of me. I won't elaborate more than that right now. Suffice it to say, some of you know exactly the kind of thoughts bouncing around in my brain right now. I've been hitting the gym again, trying to find those muscles I was sure I had once before. I could give a rat's behind how I look at the beach. I just want to make sure I can ride as long as possible!

Miles and smiles,



-Tim said...

Happy birthday, mine is the 11th...anyway, about your post. Honestly there are only two reasons I have a car. My dog, and my skis. Well, I guess I have to say three, here in SLC it snows a bit from about December though mid March, which makes riding a bit of a problem, with icy roads...but that is just the same reason split into two.
I am fortunate enough to be able to ride every day of the week roughly 8 months out of the year..and next summer when we move back to Portland, it will be back to 12 months...happy days.

fasthair said...

HI Dan,

First happy birthday! Second glad to hear you're going to give the new gal your full attention from here on out. Question, how does the wife like riding on the FJR?

Your post made me think of something that happen last summer that I would have never thought of for a low traction condition. I was going to post it here but it mutated into it's own post on my blog.

Ride safe and have fun,

Stacy said...

Now, now, Tim, ice is no excuse not to ride. :)

Happy birthday to you both.

Conchscooter said...

That was a wordy post and in there somewhere, flying by I saw the words "selling" and "Sophie" blip past my screen. Good man, and no I won't wish you a happy birthday. I'm off corn this month and wet slobbery kisses just don't work for me, old man.

tinker said...

Yeah I undestand where you're coming from old timer (I just turned 55 on the seventeenth of August.) You gotta build up the muscles so you can lift Elvira up if'n drop her. Not as easy as was once, mostly why I don't ride something bigger, my 78 CB400A is about the max I can pick up, at around 400 lbs. The reason why I don't ride something newer is simple, money. I retired 3 years ago, so got to live with what I got now.

May work a trade for a Yamaha RD 350...

irondad said...

Back at you! We are lucky to be able to ride year round here. Even though most months will be wet! We do get some ice and freezing rain. Well, you know since you were here before. When you get back we'll have to take a celebratory ride!

Thanks. Katie likes the FJR. With her 'Stich that never seems to break in, she actually has an easier time getting on and off the Yamaha. The passenger pegs are farther forward for comfort, but there's also about an inch less between the seat and pegs than the ST.

Katie's ok with me hanging out with the sexy Elvira. She claims to trust me.

I'll have to go read your post.

I really love the traction of those big screws. My tires last longer but my fuel economy has gone down.

Did I just hear Hurricane Gustav call Ike windy? Thanks for sparing me the kiss. Your beard would kill my pretty baby face!

I hope to never have to pick a bike up. There's still a lot of strength required for control stuff. Not to mention stabilizing the bike while a passenger gets on and off. I just read a complaint about how e-bay is driving used bike prices down. There's so many of each type of bike for sale at once that sellers are dropping prices to attract the few buyers. Maybe there's hope for an upgrade yet!

Krysta in Milwaukee said...

For those worrying about picking up a bike they think is too large, go have a look at Skert's technique. She's a tiny gal riding a big bike and gives demos at rallys on how to pick up a toppled bike.

You can also google "skert bmw" and it should pop up.


Arizona Harley Dude said...

Happy Birthday Dan!!

I think with a little engineering and independent suspension a leaning trike modification might just be the ticket for the FJR in your golden years. Can you tell I've been looking ahead to old age riding?

Danny said...

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was the first day I drove my truck in three weeks. During that time I also only drove the wife's car a couple times to take her to the grocery store and other places. (I'm not ready for passengers on the bike yet.) All my other trips have been on the bike. I plan to keep it that way until it gets good and cold then I am going to use that as an excuse to get some much needed work done on my bike.

Good luck with your motorcycle only month.

Bryce said...

No No No!!
Everybody only has one "Birth" day.
All the others are anniversaries and you can have as many of them as you want.

And reading your early September missive; am lead to believe you've read my private e-mail that I sent.
Very similar themes, and also the number years on two wheels.

Over 50, under 100 in chronological age, your body may well tell you otherwise as disease and maladies accelerate.

As to the selling of Sophie, pose both machines side by each and you stand between them. Without a mask or dark glasses or similar.
How do we know you're not a figment of your own imagination, eh?

And watch the years...they increase rapidly, or so it seems after the half-century mark!

Lovely weather here, wish I could ride. Next year, next year.

You do have my permission BTW to publish those two photos I sent, to show the others why nothing fits!

Stacy said...

Bryce: Dan is a real person. I'll vouch for his existence! And Sophie's too. Haven't seen Elvira in person yet so who knows about that one.

irondad said...

I've been involved in teaching Harley groups. Once in a while somebody will volunteer their bike for practice on a lawn. It is amazing how a small person can effectively lift a small bike. Thanks for the link.

Arizona Harley Dude,
Thanks. I'm thinking something like the MP3. Or a Goldwing with hydraulic training wheels!

Thanks for validating my existence! Unfortunately for the unsuspecting riding population I do actually exist. Balisada saw Elvira but I'm not sure if she knows it. It was around 6 PM a week ago yesterday. She was heading out from her work and I was passing the other way. We exchanged waves but I'm pretty sure she didn't know it was me.

Take care,


Balisada said...

Happy Birthday!