Friday, November 12, 2010

Motorcycle Restraint.

If you came across this post title on a search engine and surfed over hoping to see some stuff about about B & D, S & M, M & M's, and so on, you'll be disappointed. If you don't know what those letters mean, good for you. I think. You may want to find out for your own protection. Here's a bit of help. M & M's are candy. I just threw those in because they seemed to fit and I wanted to watch myself type. You still need to be wary of the other letters.

For example, you may one day find yourself strolling across an empty parking lot just before dark. Before you a mountain of a man on a red K bike with a Pennsylvania plate pours into a parking space nearby. Pulling off his helmet, you can see his face. It looks innocent. If you look closely, though, you'll see his habitual leer trying to burst out around the edges of that face. You'll see him pull some leather pieces out of the bike's tail trunk. Walking towards you, his innocent look tries to get even more innocent.

"Excuse, me," he says. "I'm making a leather riding garment for a 'friend' and you're about their size. Would you mind trying this on so I can get an idea of how it's gonna fit?"

That's when those letters above should flash like warning signs in your brain. Three other letters should light up in Hi Viz retroreflective yellow-green. R_U_N!!!!!

Ah, but I digress. I should have shown more restraint. Which is, after all, the point of this post. Not the bondage kind, but the mental kind. I know the two are sometimes impossibly tangled in some Twisted ( Roads ) minds, but bear with me. Successful riding often involves exercising restraint.

Isn't it interesting how those of us who ride a lot often find that the line between our riding behaviour and that of our personal lives blurs? I've written this before about riding:

It's who I am. It's what I do.

That isn't meant to be some sort of melodramatic statement. What it means is that I learn things while riding that I can bring back to my life otherwise. I learn things in my life that help me to be successful at riding. I tend to live hard. I spend a lot of time on a bike. Pretty soon the two become almost indistinguishable from each other. Thus my statement about it being who I am.

Learning to exercise restraint is a useful tool. In fact, it's hard to survive long if we don't. Here's an example or two from a couple of days spent riding for work this week.

I know, this is a baby toy. It's stretched across the front of Ryan's car seat. If you push one of the frog's eyes the thing plays one of three songs. Every kid seems to need to take some portable tunes along for the ride these days. I call it Ryan's iFrog. Anyway, the batteries were wearing down. I decided to stop and get some new ones while I was out and about riding for work.

Ryan's mother is a little annoyed by the iFrog. However, Ryan's mother is also my daughter. So the amount of restraint I needed to show was a little less than one might normally expect. Just like in riding it's all a matter of calculated risk. I figured the odds were in my favor so I went for it.

Ok, ok. I can hear what you're thinking. Show some restraint of your own, already. Don't tell me you've never done something similar. I can see the horns poking out of your halo.

Here's Elvira behind Gateway Mall in Springfield. You will notice she is not alone. The van wasn't there when I arrived. In fact, there was no other vehicles around me. That's one of the reasons I chose this spot. I also figured that the curb and the trees would encourage people to park elsewhere more convenient for getting out of their car. It was actually a cold and gray day but I was shooting in Raw format and warmed the picture up a bit in Photoshop. Makes the contrast between the black bike and white van a little easier on the eyes.

I'm heading back to the bike with batteries in hand and a couple of laps around the mall worn off my riding boots. I try to get some exercise besides pushing my luck. Staying in some sort of shape helps with riding a motorcycle. Round is a shape but it's one I'm trying to avoid. It's another example of how exercising restraint helps one to be a successful rider. I'm trying to push away from the table a bit earlier these days.

Anyway, I'm in my riding gear and carrying my helmet. Halfway between the mall and my bike I encounter this old man. He puts his hand up and slaps me on the shoulder. Then he tells me he parked behind my bike to help protect it. Or some such bulls**t. So now I have a choice of how to respond.

Several options cross my mind. One of which is to warn the guy that if he ever touches me like that again he and his arm will be going home in separate bags. Plus some other things that I won't mention because I don't want to have to put a parental warning on my blog.

What I actually do is force a smile and walk on by without saying anything. Who knows? Maybe the old guy was some shell shocked veteran like in yesterday's post. It wouldn't really have done any good, anyway.

The same thing happens on a bike, doesn't it? We always have to weigh the return versus the cost. Another driver does something that offends us. Then it's decision time. You know what I'm saying. You see what I mean about riding and life being intertwined? In either case it's a question of how far past the end of our noses we look.

Incidentally, when I was taking a picture of the van and Elvira I saw this old white poodle in the front passenger seat of the van. It saw me and drooped down into the seat. Kind of like,

"Hey, don't look at me. I only work here and I'm just trying to live out my days in some sort of peace and comfort."

I assured the poodle that I wasn't holding it responsible for its owner's behaviour. It look relieved and promptly settled back into napping on the seat.

Here's another example of learning restraint from riding that proves valuable in life.

Those of you with a romantic flair might think I was buying flowers for Katie. The floral shop is empty and Katie hates to watch the flowers die. Just concentrate on the parking space. This is downtown Corvallis. There's one word spray painted on the street next to the yellow curb. It simply says "cycles". Presumably it's for bicycles judging by the rack on the sidewalk but I would argue that Elvira is a cycle. Don't know how parking enforcement could win that argument.

I like the spot because there's elbow room. Parking and walking is just fine by me. I think it was Robert Frost that said:

"I'd rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded on a velvet couch."

Anyway, the point is that riding reminds me of the value of living simply. I'm not saying that a person shouldn't have "stuff". What I'm talking about is showing restraint in not dedicating our life to the pursuit of "stuff". It's hard not to live simply when riding. We simply can't take much with us. It's us and our surroundings. Leaves some concentration for things like the way the air feels, the way things look in different lighting, and so on. For me, that's the value of living simply. The ability to immerse myself in the journey. I pray to never lose the wonder of seeing all the small and beautiful things around me. Both in riding and in life. Again, the bond between the two.

Looking across the street I watch this woman in a Mercedes finally pull into a parking space. She has circled the block a few times waiting for a spot close to her destination to open up.

There was another empty spot when I took this picture later. When I first saw her things were more crowded. It's always hard to know where another person is coming from as a casual observer. To me it didn't look like she had any trouble walking. She looked about my age but was much better looking! Of course, helmet hair always puts one at a disadvantage. I could be totally wrong but it seemed her and I were approaching the morning from opposite viewpoints.

It was time to get some coffee and return some phone calls. Some of you may have noticed the Starbucks at the far right of the block. That wasn't where I went. I know that's my usual modus operandi as evidenced by this picture I took on Wednesday at Washington Square. It was 48 degrees (f) before windchill. Hot coffee was welcome as I made some phone calls.

Just because I USUALLY stop there doesn't mean I ALWAYS go there. If you want to get your exercise by jumping to conclusions, that's okay by me, though. A couple of doors to the left of Starbucks is the New York Bagel shop. I sat outside with a cup of coffee and a toasted chocolate chip bagel. Restraint is a fine thing but one shouldn't get carried away with it.

I find it fascinating to reflect on how my riding and life have become so entwined. For some people riding a motorcycle is a hobby or a sport. For me it's a way of life. More accurately, it's a major part of my life. It's been a journey of over four decades so far. I hope it continues for a while longer, yet.

Saturday will see me winging towards Hartford, Connecticut. That's where corporate headquarters is located for the USA divisions. I've been invited for a week's worth of management training. I probably won't post but the G11 will get a workout. Stay tuned for later.

Miles and smiles,



682202 said...

As always a very interesting, sort of a window into your psyche...

I shall restrain from making further comment.

Unknown said...


I like it when you "spill" your guts, sort of a window into the mind of an ironman.

Wet Coast Scootin

Dean W said...

Wait, what? Saturday?

Dude, that timing sucks.

RichardM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RichardM said...

Interesting post, and it is like a window.

Have fun in Hartford. I thought the large number of insurance companies that have headquarters there was kind of interesting. But very nice countryside outside of the city.


irondad said...


I don't often open those windows because the view usually freaks people out. Thanks for your restraint. I'll eat pizza in your honor sometime soon.


Can't hide behind the Lone Ranger mask all the time. Although I don't think I would classify this post as a "spill", exactly. I've been using the solar powered LED light you gave me. Thank you, again.

Take care,


irondad said...


Yeah, bummer. This will be the first banquest I've ever missed. As I told Mr. Garets, the advantage of working for a worldwide corporation is that there are a lot of resources available. The downside is that you have to do things on their schedule.

By the way, sorry about the cold. Although I'm glad to hear it's still around. I thought it was an excuse not to ride to Oregon City with me! :)

Take care,


irondad said...


Interesting how many people associate Hartford with insurance. First thing Katie said to me was to say hi to the big elk, or whatever it was on their commercials.

I feel like you. One never knows where you will be from week to week.

Take care,


cpa3485 said...

For me, part of "living simply" entails the use of the most efficient vehicle for travel. I have the luxury of being able to choose between taking the scooter or the Subaru wagon. Seldom do I take the car unless I need to carry a bunch of "stuff" or the weather is bad.
I have surprised myself with how much "stuff" I can take on the scooter, though. It's not at all unusual for me to have the laptop in a briefcase, a backpack on the purse hook, other things in the top case, and maybe a small bag of groceries. The car is relegated to use in bad weather and carrying larger items, and in a way that makes me happy.
Many times as I am riding I see huge SUV's with one person in it and I think how horribly inefficient that is from an energy standpoint. Even if I am driving the car, I feel more efficient than many of the other vehicles on the road.
Plus, they are missing out on all the sights, sounds and smells that you experience on two wheels as opposed to four.
Very nice post Dan, I like how you think.

Mike said...

I'll have to start cruising by Washington Square Starbucks. We're almost on the same schedule - just different days! By the way, I won't slap you on the shoulder.

I talked with my sister-in-law in Connecticut last night. They've already had snow!

Anonymous said...

I read "winging to Hartford CT"
and thought, good he's riding a tour bike to the east coast of the US. Grr, different wing, the silver bird. Have fun of a different sort.
Sounds if you're at mental loose ends. Not normal, for you.

Troubadour said...

Great post, and had you peered into a window two shops west from Miss Meers (between Anderson's and Andale) you could have chatted with Trobairitz and interrupted her work.
Cycle parking is motorcycle parking, it simply requires less paint, budget cuts and all. I have never been ticketed in Corvallis for parking my bike in any triangle, designated or not.

Oh, if you think a parking space is tight and you don't like being touched on the shoulder, wait until TSA gets a hold of you Saturday, nice and friendly like and you must show restraint... have a safe trip. ;)

Twitch said...

You know perception is a strange thing. When you said the spot was marked "Cycles" it didn't even cross my mind that it meant anything other than motorCycles. If you hadn't pointed it out I would've never thought bicycles.

Steve Williams said...

Definitely motorcycle parking. Bikes can chain up to those silver things.

I see you are a very polite parker making sure to leave plenty of room for others.

Marrying life and hobby together is a fortuitous event. Lucky man.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad (Dan):

I'm just back after a 2500-mile jaunt (in the car) to Missouri. I read this blog with great interest, especially the beginning. I am amazed that you know at least two people from Pennsylvania who ride K75s.

When I sashay across a mall parking lot, women pause, bite their lips, and lift their shirts. I've gotten quite use to it but it aggravates the hell out of my mother when she rides pillion.

Coming from Jersey City, I never question the gesture of a guy slapping me on the back, or offering to buy a drink. On the other hand, gesturing toward me with a switchblade generally makes me feel somewhat queasy.

My orientation is primarilly New Jersey... So I am accustomed to people trying to park up my butt as there is only one space for every 22,472 vehicles. It's when they park on my bike that I start to get upset. (Actually, I get more annoyed with other riders who make it hard to me to mounr or dismount by parking too closely.)

The last time I was out for a run, and the parking lot attendant waved me into a tight spot (surrounded by Harleys), I waved a $5-spot at him, and got a nice space by the door —— all to myself.

Sometimes $5 buys a lot of goodwill, from a college kid looking to fund his next joint.

I read this blog and laughed. Thanks a lot.

Fondest regards,
Jack • rrep • Toad
Twisted Roads
The Red BMW K75 in Pennsylvania

Lucky said...

I have nothing to add to the discussion, just wanted to say I enjoyed this post quite a bit.

irondad said...

cpa3485 ( Jim )

Thank you for the kind words regarding this post. That being said, I now have additional information about the scooter versus Subaru debate. To quote a comment from your blog:

"That said, these turns can be real fun on a motorcycle as it is easy to take a few of them at well over 45mph (maybe 55 to 60 even). Don't tell Irondad though that I may have done a little of that, he might s&%t a brick."

Being in the Subaru wouldn't have let you make this comment. This is how you daredevil accountants are. You pretend to make the comment on the premise that you are hiding irresponsible behaviour from The Master.

In reality, I think the Grasshopper may be bragging a bit!

Take care,


irondad said...


It seems high time we meet up again. Washington Square would be great. After Thanksgiving I'll give you a nudge.


I always tend to get a bit scrambled at the end of a year. The work load of the year past is done and the load for the next year hasn't started, yet. So I kind of lose direction and focus.

Besides, you always have to make a mess to clean a mess. So it goes with clearing my mind!

Take care,


irondad said...


Had I known, I would have taken Trobairitz a chocolate chip bagel!

Interesting that you should mention restraint with the TSA. There was a fellow behind me who didn't. I saw him because I took longer after I got through to put my shoes back on, put my belt back on, my watch back on, well you get it. He was taken from the area. Last thing I saw was him being escorted through a doorway that closed behind him.

He's probably still there being forced to write an essay about bicycle parking versus motorcycle parking!

Take care,


irondad said...


You mean there are cycles other than motorcycles? I hear you.

Take care,


irondad said...

Steve Williams,

I really hadn't thought of myself as a polite parker. Guess it's just habit.

I agree that marrying life and hobby is great. The fine point is that my avocation isn't really my vocation, merely a part of it.

Knowing that you are a university staff member, you'll understand!

Take care,


irondad said...


Thank you for gracing this blog with a comment full of your unique blend of bravado, b.s. , and fantasies.

I am always complimented to be able to make you laugh. I laughed, as well.

Take care,


irondad said...


Just the fact that you showed up and commented adds good things to my day.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for saying so.

Take care,