Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Chicago photos.

I started the post on tactical mindsets for motorcyclists. Partway through I decided to postpone it a bit. I'm way behind on reading everyone else's blogs. So I am going to post a few photos from my return trip then go read blogs. Look for the other post tomorrow or Saturday.

Chicago's O'Hare Airport is huge! We got to the airport a couple of hours early. So I wandered around with the G11. The Chicago Police Department patrols the airport. I took several photos in front of a uniformed cop so I have to presume I managed to look like a tourist and not a terrorist.

I know who Wolfgang Puck is. I have also heard that he has a frozen pizza line, now. It was interesting to see his place in the airport. I thought this was a Chicago thing. However, when I got to Sea Tac Airport in Seattle I saw another one. Although not as fancy as this one.

It was a cloudy day with frequent heavy rain storms. There's a lot of glass in the terminal hallways. I thought this abstract looked kind of cool. This is the actual lighting. No Photoshop conversion here.

This hallway was a bit more festive than the others, for some reason.

You see, there is motorcycle content in this post! This is inside a secured terminal. I'd expect this in Milwaukee ( See, I got the two e's Krysta! ). No bikes, just accessories. Wonder what some of the loud pipes would do to all that glass?

My cigar tube with wings is rolling up to the gate. One group off, one group on.

I did manage to get a few decent shots out the window with the G11. These were over the Washington Cascades.

The best photos would have been coming into Seattle proper. We were low to the ground. The Space Needle, Qwest and Safeco fields with the roofs open, and other great stuff begged to be photographed. That announcement about turning off anything with an off and on switch is annoying. I was tempted to sneak some photos anyway. Several pilots I know tell me that a digital camera would not interfere with the navigational instruments. I decided not to try it. Flight crews are getting pretty touchy about these kind of things. I was much more interested in just getting home without too much hassle than sneaking photos.

Miles and smiles,


Monday, June 21, 2010

Ride to Work (tm) Day

The first day of summer arrived early this morning with a bit of promise. I looked out my front window at 5 AM. As I did I felt like a teacher looking at a struggling student. This has been the wettest June on record. Like a pupil that you just know has the potential to shine, this day could turn out all right. My optimism was rewarded. After riding under grey skies in the morning, the afternoon's return journey was done under mostly sunny skies. Yes, I think Spring is finally going to graduate into Summer.

Not only is today the first day of Summer here, but it is also Ride to Work Day. Andy Goldfine's great idea for promoting the use of motorcycles for practical transportation. Not only that, but it's a show of force at work places. Take us seriously. Work with us. We're motorcyclists. On top of that we are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and so on. We're the valuable employees that contribute so much to the success of the companies we work for. Celebrate the fuel efficiency and smaller demands on the earth's resources with us. Give us parking spaces close to the buildings. We don't take up much room. Give us our own space and you'll have more parking left for those still piloting the cages.

I'm afraid I fell a little short in that particular effort. You see, I have no office or place of employment to commute to. There are no fellow riders to join up with in the parking lot. Riding by myself for work doesn't seem to constitute a show of force. Although there are those who would argue that point. I've been called a Force of Nature. Those less kind say I'm a Freak of Nature. Whichever.

So I rode for work on Ride to Work Day. I had a meeting scheduled with the Director of Security at Warner Pacific College in Portland. Since this was a new contact for me, I decided to make the first impression one of a motorcylist. Thus I showed up on the bike in full riding gear, including my TEAM OREGON retroflective vest.

My instructions were to show up at the main entrance and call the guy on his cell phone. Good plan. Although, as I explored the lot, I discovered that all the parking spots required a student parking permit. Visitor parking was up the hill. Elvira is parked right in front of Building 12 shown in blue on the sign. Visitor parking is up the hill, or towards the top of the sign. So I mounted up and parked up there. Which meant I needed to walk back down the hill. This has a point to it. I'm getting there now.

As I'm walking back down the sidewalk I call the guy I'm supposed to meet. He's nearby. In fact, while he and I are talking he says that he thinks he sees me. "Are you the guy in the vest walking down the sidewalk?" he asks.

Mission accomplished. His first impression of me was exactly what I was aiming for. A security professional who happens to ride a motorcycle.

It's a beautiful campus, by the way. The header photo is one I took from the opposite side of Elvira.

From here I figured the best thing I could do was ride around so as many people as possible could see me on the bike. Tough job, but we all need to sacrifice for the cause, right? Hey, that's harder than it sounds. It meant I actually had to be riding, not holed up in a Starbucks! Somehow it took twice as long to get home as it did to get to the meeting. Weird how that happens. The total for the day was 164 miles so I figure we got a bit of exposure.

On Highway 99 there's a very small town named Aurora. I had the urge to tour the museum but it was closed. There was a small colony of settlers here originally. Sometimes one of the hardest tasks in life today is to keep perspective. Wandering around this museum and the old shops out back help me do just that. We have it pretty easy these days. Too cold and wet to ride? How about a long ride on a horse with just a rain slicker and no electrics? When I get home I park Elvira and retreat into a warm house. Back then I'd still have to take care of the horse first. Things aren't so bad after all. Perspective is a wonderful thing to have in any aspect of life.

It felt like everybody and their spawn were out on the roads today. Freeway or back road, it was busy. Had I not been on my toes I could easily have been taken out at least once and probably twice. That got me to thinking about some tactical training I participated in recently. Suddenly I had this connection to something we discussed there and motorcycling. The next post will deal with Tactical Thinking for Motorcycists.

While I was on the road I heard my cell phone's text message alert go off. Later on I took a look. My son Clinton had sent me a text. At the risk of embarrassing him, here's what it said.

"Rode the bike to work today, I'm the son of iron-rider, I had to!"

Dang. We strive so hard to set ourselves apart. When we succeed we feel pretty good. Suddenly we have to ask ourselves what we're doing to our kids!

I sent Clinton a reply.

"Sorry. Being the son of a legend must be tough."

Let him deal with it. I still have dragons to slay!

Miles and smiles,


Monday, June 14, 2010

Business trip.

It's a good news / bad news thing. The good news is that I'm not chained to a desk. The bad news is that travel is required that's too far to ride a motorcycle! I think I went to Chicago but there's not much to affirm that. All I really saw for the week was O'Hare and a hotel. Corporate made sure we were occupied the whole time. The G11 came along for the ride. Thought I would share a few photos over the next little bit.

Found this little guy in the Chicago airport. He's a present for Ryan. A green Pooh Bear also seems a fitting opening shot, for some reason. I played with a feature of Photoshop that I hadn't tried before. The program has a "photomerge" function. You can blend two or more pictures into one. Not quite the same as Layers but interesting. I took a photo without flash and one with flash. Then I used "Photomerge Exposure" to blend them. The program matched the two pictures exactly. Tripod highly recommended!

Why do these trips always start so early in the morning? My alarm was set for 3 AM. Had to drive an hour and a half to the airport. There was already a crowd at the airport so I wasn't the only early bird. I have to give Alaska Airlines staff high marks for their efficiency in getting everyone through the baggage check process. It helped that I had checked in online earlier.

Here's my first ride of the day. Portland to Seattle where the bigger bird was flying from.

From Seattle I hitched a ride on a 737-900. Here's the view from seat 21F.

The plane might be a bit faster than my bike but you certainly don't get that feeling of being out in the open and free. In fact, it feels downright hemmed in! On the other hand, it's not a good idea to be out in the breeze at 34,000 feet, either. On the other, other hand, it's entertaining to think of being six miles up and, umm, draining the radiator in the back of the plane, so to speak.

This was my home for the next few days. My room was on the ninth floor looking down at the top of the flat roof. It was reassuring to look down at the air conditioning units and see they were still working. Right across from me was the Doubletree Hotel. I guess business travelers can stand in their respective windows and see if they're wearing the same color underwear as everyone else or not. I chose to pass on that activity.

I'm not sure why the sinks are on top of the counters. My guess is that some laborer forgot to cut the hole in the counter. Then some interior decorator saw it and thought it was a grand idea. These folks are always looking for that "special something" to set them apart. Hey, anybody can put a sink flush with the marble. Check this out! Next thing you know some designer will put them in the middle of the bed.

The reading lamps on each side of the pillows were kind of interesting. I was sure I would bump my head on one of the lamps. Surprisingly, it didn't happen. Of course, the odds were in my favor because Corporate gave us precious little pillow time.

Things got more interesting as the days went on. Beer, food, and a Jewish wedding that I crashed are among the highlights. Did I mention beer and food? Stay tuned.

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ride to Work Day

Just a reminder that Monday, June 21 is Ride to Work day. I'm in a hotel room in Chicago and don't have much time for this post. However, it's important that riders use their bikes for commuting on this day. We need employers and co-workers to see how many folks ride motorcycles. Hopefully it will inspire others to ride. It can also inspire things like employers providing special motorcycle parking spots. There's more, but Andy Goldfine can explain it much better than me.

You can listen to an interview of Andy if you follow the link above. There's also more information. More from me later.

Miles and smiles,


Monday, June 07, 2010

Quick update.

Life has been flying by. Speaking of flying, I'm off to Chicago early tomorrow morning. I'll be there the rest of the week for some corporate stuff. With any luck I'll get home late Friday night and have a weekend off to kick back. Sort of forgot what a weekend off is like.

We got a police training class in last week. It was touch and go with the rain. We had a couple of sprinkles but the main bit seemed to just wrap around us and leave us alone. For once I had the chance to spend a lot of time taking photos. I'm shooting in raw these days. I actually filled the Nikon's memory card. There's a lot of great pictures to process. In the meantime, I pulled a couple out to share. Look for more photos and stories later. We were at an airport as well as the track. There's some photos of planes and motorcycles almost sharing the same space.

Here's a photo of Laurie's bike. Somehow I managed to make the bike pop out by using the telephoto to compress the scene and a large aperature to blur the background. I can almost do this on purpose, now!

This is Scott's Duc at the end of a maximum braking demo run at 70 mph. The forks are fully compressed and the front tire is squashed down a bit. Scott's darn good. This bike doesn't have ABS, either.

My fellow instructor Dan was mugging for the camera. Interestingly, the camera was dangling from my hand at the time. I shot this one from the hip. Sometimes those work out.

One great side affect was that I got my new rear tire properly scrubbed in. It's always worth a bit of bragging rights when you scrub the Metzeler elephants off a tire.

I took some action shots of Laurie then she returned the favor using my camera and 70-300mm lense. I told her to get my best side. Apparently we have a difference of opinion about which side that is. Most of her shots are of my backside.

I experimented with panning. It's surprisingly hard to get just right. This one came out halfway well. The background is blurred. The bike is almost focused sharply. You can still see some motion in the wheels. I should clone out the cyclone fence rail at the bottom. Still, though, it does convey a sense of speed, doesn't it? Not bad for the first practice session, if I say so myself. The vibration resistance in the Nikon lense works quite well. This is hand held at 170 mm focal length with a 1/100 shutter speed. All while moving the camera to follow the bike.

Later in the week I had to go look at some stuff on this fancy house. Factory rep and all that. The contractor tells me the house itself cost almost two million dollars. Funny. To me it looks like an industrial office building. It's very stark inside. Quite sterile. To each their own, I guess. The great news is that I took the back way into Newberg. In the process I discovered a road called Bald Peak Road. It's really windy as it goes up and over the hill then down the other side. The view from the top of the peak is outstanding.

Taught a class this weekend. Saturday was almost sunny. We got drenched on Sunday. That seems to be the normal pattern anymore. Great stories from this class, too. Plenty of material, just have to write it all down sometime.

It looks like things will finally settle down once I get the Chicago thing over with. Look for posts on cornering, downhill curves, braking, and the old "lay it down" thing. There are also plenty of great stories locked up. The plan is to revive the energy here. Thanks to those who have been hanging in here during the quiet time.

Miles and smiles,


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tattoo remover!

We worked a motorcycle officer training day yesterday. It's a pretty intense experience. I might share some more thoughts as well as some photos later. The reason I mentioned it here is that Dean W was working, too, He'd just returned from the World Superbike races in Utah. While there Dean snagged a bumper sticker from Utah's motorcycle safety program.

Dean was holding the sticker while I snapped a photo. I thought about cropping it but it seems to me that it looks better this way, for some reason.

Interestingly, it somewhat ties in with a discussion over at Jay Green's Road Captain USA blog. We've been talking a bit about laying a bike down versus braking. Jay was kind enough to grant me permission to post a somewhat lengthy comment on the matter. Stay tuned here for a longer post on the subject.

Miles and smiles,


P.S. to Doug in Ohio. I've haven't forgotten your request for that road rash link. I know I have it here. I promise to take the time to run it down in the next couple of days. Thanks for hanging in with me!