Monday, June 22, 2009

Are you looking at me?

This is the rest of the story of Ride to Work Day. After leaving Corvallis I headed to Beaverton. My plan was to stop at Beaverton Honda and order some new helmets for Katie and I. We have matching Arai helmets for when we ride together. Otherwise I use a different Arai. Anyway, it suddenly dawned on me that these helmets were now nine years old. Time to get new ones. What didn't dawn on me was that the shop isn't open on Monday's, yet. They close on Sunday and Monday during the off season. Since their parking lot was also gated shut, I pulled into the parking lot of the Staples across the street.

Being a factory rep, I had to hit a job site and look at some supposedly defective product. There's just no substitute for actually seeing what's going on. Besides, the factories will hardly talk to you unless you've gone and taken a look. So I called the distributor to find out who to see. He offered to join me. Cool. We set a time for a half hour hence. As it turns out, that was a little optimistic on my part.

Beaverton is a suburb of Portland. There's a population of a million or more in the area these days. It sounds simple to head East, skirt the South side of Portland, hit the West side, then head North to Vancouver, Washington. Highways 26 and 84 are the main East-West routes. The roads aren't big enough for the current volume of traffic. Then there's I-205 that takes you over the Columbia River into Washington. Let's just say it took longer than expected. Either way, it's certainly better being on a bike than idling in traffic trapped in a car.

Which leads me to the punch line, so to speak.

My destination was Southwest Washington Medical Center. It's a very large hospital which specializes in cancer treatment. It's as busy as an ant hill, sad to say. I pull into the parking lot and notice the distributor's Cadillac Escalade parked there already. I rode in that once, by the way. I just don't get it. My seat was five feet from the dash. I sank into the plush leather until I could hardly see over the faraway dash. The instrument cluster, radio with extra large LDC display, and polished wood looked as big as the top of my desk if I stood it up on its side. I guess it's the ultimate way to insulate and isolate yourself from the road. It's just not for me. I'll have enough isolation and insulation when I'm in a casket underground. Life's precious. Let's feel it while we can.

I don't expect the visit to last very long. Not my earthly one; the job site one. I'm already late. Due to having extra stuff and the Nikon in the bags, there's not a lot of extra room to stash my gear. It would take time and effort to tuck it all away. So I decide to just stash the helmet and gloves. I walk over to the contractor's modular office in my 'Stich. Hi-Viz and all.

Do you know how something can be totally second nature to you but sort of freak out other people? It wasn't so much the riding gear itself. The distributor knows I ride. He has a model of a cruiser on his bookshelf. He doesn't ride but says he would if his wife would let him. Whatever. I'd noticed on earlier visits that there were a couple of ratty looking chopper type bikes parked by the job shack. The man in charge has a magazine page of a Harley Night Rod on his office wall. So it wasn't the riding gear that really mattered. The fun began over head wear.

This photo isn't from that actual job site. It's actually from a project at Linn Benton Community College where Balisada works. However, it reflects the typical policy on job sites these days. Contractors are being extra fussy about safety these days. I certainly understand why. In some places I'm even required to don a bright orange safety vest. As are all the subcontractor's employees. No vest on this job but the first question out of the Project Engineer's mouth was,

"Do you have a hard hat?"

I usually carry a hardhat if I'm in a car. Mostly, though, I'm on a bike so I don't take up the space. Believe me, contractors always have spares to cover themselves. No pun intended. I replied that I didn't have a hard hat but I had a motorcycle helmet. Being told that wouldn't do, I was handed a hard hat. It wouldn't have been so bad if I had taken off the 'Stich and left it in the office. I never even thought of it. A riding suit is like my regular clothing. So off we went into the new tower.

You would think the workers on the job had never seen a motorcyclist before. Was I at a hospital or a zoo? I got some really strange looks. I mean, other than the fact that it's my middle-aged, going-to-fat body, what's so strange about this picture? ( too much taking people out to eat, too much riding, not enough gym time; better change that ratio, I think ) I had a white hard hat on the job site. This is my own Green Bay hard hat. I mean, the color even complements the Hi-Viz, doesn't it?

I have to say that I think I accomplished the purpose of Ride to Work Day, don't you? Isn't that your goal, Andy? To call attention to the fact that people ride motorcycles to work and use them for everday transportation? We want to make sure that the public notices us, don't we? I'd check off "mission accomplished" on all counts.

As I suspected, the actual time on the job didn't last too long. Once I pointed out the glaring installation error it was clear that it was not a factory problem. As a bonus, and trying to be ever helpful, I even showed them how to quickly fix the error. I was off the hook, the contractor was happy, and it sure looked like the distributor was providing good customer service. A totally winning situation.

Since it was Ride to Work Day, I decided to check out the grounds for other bikes. Some were familiar and some I hadn't seen before. Here's a photo tour.

This beauty was parked outside the Family Birthing Center. Do you think a pregnant lady was transported on the passenger seat on her way to give birth? Wouldn't it be cool to say you were born on Ride to Work Day?

This parking area is right around the corner from the Physical Plant. That's where the Maintenance and Facilities offices are. What's interesting is that you must have to ride either a dual sport or a scooter to park here. I've never seen any other species here.

This scooter is intriguing. It says "Scarabeo" on the side. I believe it's made by Aprilia. If I remember correctly, there's a 125, a 250, and a 500. Risking being incorrect, I'd venture to say this is the 500. There's a badge on the front fairing that says "ABS". Wow! This thing is plush. Kind of like a rolling easy chair with ABS for stopping during those flying trips to the icebox or bathroom!

Seriously, it looks like a sweet and comfortable ride. I'm intrigued by it. Wonder if I could finagle a ride sometime?

Here's the other side of the parking area. Like I said, scooters or dual sports!

Walking around to the other side of the campus, I didn't see any other bikes except for this Kawasaki hunkered down at the entrance to the parking structure.

The distributor had remained behind to deal with a couple of matters that had nothing to do with me. Coincidentally, I passed by the job shack on the way back to the bike. He was also heading to the parking lot. Passing up his Cadillac, he walked with me to the bike. I could see the hunger in his eyes. At least I thought it was for the bike. Maybe it was, but he invited me to lunch, his treat. Usually it's me buying lunch or dinner. We had great fish and chips at an Irish Pub. You see my problem? No beer, though. I still have to ride home.

Afterwards, that what I did. Arriving home, there was a little over two hundred milles racked up for the day. A great Ride to Work Day, don't you think?

Miles and smiles,



Baron's Life said...

great post and pictures...hope you had a couple of beers after you got home.

Doug C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug C said...

Sounds like a great Ride to Work Day! My wife had the same attitude as your distributor's spouse for the longest time. But subtle hints of my desire and a promise to take safety training seriously slowly changed her mind.

Now, when I grab my gear she's asks, "Can I go, too?"

Great post and pics!

Jay said...

I've always enjoyed reading your posts but I never knew you were one of us!

Jay, Green Bay, WI
V11 sport :)

Conchscooter said...

Fish and chips, AND a dorky hard hat? More than most mortals could wsh for.

kz1000st said...

I've always been blessed to be around women that accepted I was a motorcyclist. Last summer my wife passed the MSF BR course and now she rides her Rebel to work. She's even hinted that she might try mine before the summer is over.

cpa3485 (JIM) said...

You better watch out, We'll get you on a scooter, yet.

Lucky said...

Man, I wonder how they enforce the scooter/dual-sport only parking spots. Not sure I'd want to risk parking there...

I kind of wish the engineer would have let you wear your helmet on the site instead of the hard hat. Then you would have gotten some interesting looks.

Allen Madding said...

I'm still laughing that a motorcycle helmet would not be appropriate so it had to be traded for a bump cap. Yeah, that motorcycle helmet is way too durable and protective. You need to wear this thin hard hat that might protect you from a scratch.


fasthair said...

I don't know IronDad. I always pictured you as being taller. It must be the hard hat that makes you look shorter :)


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

Quite frankly, I think you probably wear that hard hat as your regular helmet. It looks like the fashion statement from hell.

I didn't do a ride to work... I did a ride from work, and just took it easy.

Nice story...
Fondest regards,
Jack "r"
Twisted Roads

Young Dai said...

A colleague used to work in the freight clearance section at Tilbury Container Port.

In his induction/training course he asked what help would be his wearing a hard hat if some dockie dropped a 40ft box on him.

"Son", said the trainer. "When that happens, after we have lifted the box and washed off the jam, we glue the helmet back together and then we know who was wearing it from the tag number, makes our job easier, see." !

Never ask smart-arse questions of a 30 year man !

Anonymous said...

Your pictures look better than the manufacturer's on their website. Look at it here:

Lady Ridesalot said...

Great post, but I have one question... How did a guy in Oregon become a Cheese head? LOL!
Lady R (Chicago Bears fan) ;)

Anonymous said...

Hard hat for a hard head? More likely a gentle head.

If your daughter (you have four children as I recall)gives
birth, will you change your license plate to GrnDad?

Steve Williams said...

Isn't it amazing how one picture of yourself can drown out all the other fine machine pix???

So in keeping with the trend....

I went and took a look at the Ride To Work Blogsto recheck the picture of you there. That one is a couple months old right?

I was struck by the "...if his wife would let him..." comment. That sentiment has taken on a strange life in the riding world. One motorcycle dealer here had a big banner painted on the wall saying "Your wife just called and said it's OK to get a motorcycle."

The topic deserves some serious blog posts in the riding world. I bet wives are getting a bum rap here. Maybe the real story was "...if I wasn't so wimpy..."

Maybe not. Riding if you have a family certainly warrants some discussion and compromise. There is always a middle ground.

You always get a lot of good pictures of bikes Dan. Myself, I never look at another bike...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks