~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Inside the Helmet

Back in November I blogged on the whole idea of radios, music, cell phones and other intrusions into the motorcycle riding experience.

Someone, a non-rider, asked that given that I spend a lot of hours on the bike, just what goes on inside my head "since there's nothing to do while you're riding." I pondered that for a minute and the notion that many people are not all that comfortable alone inside their own head and so must distract themselves with music, TV, drugs, whatever.

I guess my mind sorta kinda follows the pattern below. Simple stuff, none of it considered in great depth, but riding has a way of clarifying the mind and putting things into some perspective so they can be dealt with later. I shared this with some other riders and they tended to agree.

Inside the helmet, behind the glasses, inside my head, I think...

riding today is good
love this bike
great sky
riding today is good
love this bike
great view
love the sound of these pipes
oops, too fast again
no cops around??
riding today is good
love this bike
awesome road
wave at the bike going past
I should stop and rest but this is too much fun
love this bike
riding today is good

>remix, repeat infinitely<

Friday, May 20, 2005

Motorcycles of the 20th Century - Web site

Bert Knoester has put together an excellent collection of motorcycle photos and drawings. "A collection of more then 500 High Quality Motorcycle pictures in 1024x768 full-color format."

Nearly all the artwork is of the bikes in full profile on a white background making them nice for desktop backgrounds. Fun stuff to browse. Needs more Bultacos and Aprilias, of course.
Click here to pay a visit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bikes in the Fast Lane / motorbiker.org tech troubles

I got a note from Mike Werner over at Bikes in the Fast Lane aka Motorbiker.org. Mike runs the most consistently interesting European motorcycle news blog and it's a daily stop for me and lots of other folks. Anyway, Mike is having some tech issues right now..long story there but some anti-spam group has listed his site as a spam site (!) and his blog may or may not be accessible to you depending on who your ISP is. If you have not been able to access Mike's blog, fear not, he's still there and doing fine and working hard to resolve the issues. You might also e-mail your own ISP and complain if you've not been able to connect to motorbiker.org.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Twenty Bikes to Live

Aprilia RS250 in street trim. No longer made, but findable. (nicked the photo from Apriliaforum.com)
I got in a small discussion awhile back with another rider of my approximate age (54). We talked about all the bikes we'd owned and all the bikes we still want to own before the big dirt nap. As we got a little more philosophical about the whole business of aging and riding we found that we'd both developed the same way of counting the advancing calendar pages. We didn't see our remaining years as being 20 more or 25 more years but measured them by how many bikes we thought we could still buy and enjoy. The whole concept fit very nicely in with that old biker adage "You don't stop riding because you get old, you get old because you stopped riding." I believe it.

In 2002 I thought my riding days were finished. I was shaky and fatigued all time, looked terrible, had gained weight, had dark circles under my eyes and was starting to make mistakes when I rode my Kawasaki Concours. No wonder I couldn't get a date. I have always said I'd give up riding when I felt I couldn't handle the bike safely any longer and it appeared that the time had come, albeit twenty or thirty years early. So I sold the Concours, put away my helmet and looked for something else to do. I also wised up and went to see the doctor.

It wasn't long before I got a call from Doc Winter about some recent blood tests. "Doug, I'm sorry to tell you that you have Type 2 diabetes." Huh? "And nearly all your other blood readings are terrible."  Erk...  Visions of insulin and needles danced in my head and I was walloped with a feeling of "diabetes overwhelmous" that hits most everyone when they are first diagnosed with the disease. I won't bore you with details.

Rather than die a really unpleasant death from diabetes, heart disease (along with the fun of blindness and amputation) I did every blessed thing the doc told me to do. It wasn't very long and I was feeling better, the shakes were gone, my eyes brightened, I lost 35lbs, and I felt pretty much like my old self again. Huzzah!! Hmm....what next...? Of course! Time for a new bike!!

The Kaw 1600 was purchased with the thought that it might be my last bike, I'd ride it a bit on the weekends and that was it. It would do me and my old fahrt riding habits until it was time to check out once and for all.  Ha...once a bike nut, always a bike nut. The Aprilia Falco came next, then the Aprilia Caponord. The Kawasaki went home with it's new owner two weeks ago and I'm doing my best to fight off the most incurable mental illness of all, motorcycle fever. The other afternoon I visited my friends at Kelly's Kawasaki in Mesa and wandered through the BMW shop in Chandler to look at the new K1200 Beemer. Nothing lit me up, not even the new 1200/4 Beemer.

According to the actuarial tables I've got about 23 years left to live. At my lifetime average of about one bike per year that's about enough time to own approximately 1/3 of all the bikes I still want to own unless I win the lottery or find a rich woman to marry. My chances are probably better with the Lotto.

So what next if I really have about twenty more bikes to live? Where should I start? I've had a Harley (been there, done that, got the t-shirt...and before it was fashionable), a sport bike or two, a big trailie, enduro bikes (dual sport for you young whippersnappers), a Goldwing, a couple of UJMs, and a gaggle of little bikes.

I'm inclined to be patient and continue to hope that Aprilia will bring the Caponord Rally Raid model to the US. I love my '02 Capo but the newer bike with all the trimming including ABS would be a fine thing to grace my garage.

Other than that, I'm not sure what will satiate this next of 20 possible rounds of moto lust. I do miss my Falco however brief was our affair.  I've never owned a track bike (pavement kind) or done the track day thing that's all the rage now. A KTM 625 SMC on the track perhaps? Hmm... Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

"You In A Heap O' Trouble, Boy"

Sunday I took off with my neighbor Jim for a jaunt up the pavement and dirt of Apache Trail to Roosevelt Lake and then looped back through the copper mining towns of of Globe and Miami. I was on the Caponord, of course, and Jim was on his KLR650. Most riders never make it much farther than the tourist trap of Tortilla Flats by Canyon Lake. It's a really popular spot with the polish & pose crowd but other than being worthy of some tourist pictures and serving a decent burger there's not much to do there.

Tortilla Creek crosses the paved road at the eastern edge of Tortilla Flats and the paved road goes a few miles beyond and is actually better pavement and curves than the twisty road before there. When the pavement stops then the real Apache Trail begins, the one that has graced travel guides since about 1920. It's all smooth dirt easily negotiated by car and no trouble whatsoever for the Caponord or the KLR650.

The ride and weather were great but the most memorable part of the sights was west outside of Globe / Miami. The road curves around and is full of some nice sweepers and is frequently ridden in a sporting fashion by the local sport bike guys and most everyone else too. I have nice memories of blitzing it a few years ago on my Kawasaki Concours. Traffic was light that day in 2001, blitzing the road seemed like the thing to do at the time.

On Sunday there was a fair bit of car and truck traffic and as Jim's KLR is no sport bike we were content to roll along at the pace of traffic. As we rounded a curve, up ahead I spotted the flashing lights of a police car. As we neared it I could see some miscreant wearing handcuffs and standing head down by the patrol car. The officer was busy throwing a few things into the patrol car.
As we rolled past the scene I looked to see what sort of car had been pulled over. A Porsche? A 'Vette? A stolen something? In this case there was no car but what a quick glance at 65 mph revealed was a red Ducati 996. My guess was that the poor rider gave into Italian throttle lust and chose the wrong stretch of highway to do so. No doubt it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

My immediate thought was "I'm so glad I sold the Falco, I'm sure that was going to be me someday." Like an unapprehended law breaker watching someone else hang, I shuddered. Even with the Capo I am sometimes less than morally upright in my use of the throttle but I try to be selective about when and where.

So with visions of handcuffs dancing in my head I promise to be good in the future. I promise, I really do. I'll never exceed the speed limit again. Probably. Maybe. At least not until the image of the Ducati rider in handcuffs fades in my memory a little.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Gone But Not Forgotten

The ad I placed in Cycle Trader On-line worked like a charm and my Kawasaki 1600 went off to it's new home yesterday. I got lots of calls and e-mails out of the ad and the bike sold quickly which means I should have asked more for it. No matter, losing my shirt on a bike is a fine old tradition with me. As I told someone: I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I don't consort with women of easy virtue, I just ride motorcycles. Given that I have no other significant vices, that leaves plenty of money to be tossed into the black hole of buying new bikes and selling them every couple of years.

I really enjoyed the 1600 right up until I bought the Aprilia. The 1600 was a nice ride and I got to thinking that I never had a bad day of riding on the bike. Never got rained on even a little bit and the only mechanical problem in 8300 miles was a turn signal bulb that expired. That was my third new Kawasaki ('99 Drifter, '01 Concours, '03 1600 Classic) and my experience with all of them has been the same: Trouble free and enjoyable to ride, great values for the money...At least until you sell them. Yeah, yeah, I know, Harleys and BMWs hold their value better. But they only do that if you keep them long enough for new bike retail price inflation to drag up used prices and I never keep a bike that long. And people forget that the excessive freight, set up, and doc fees are part of the cost of the bike and H-D and to a lesser degree BMW are famous for stacking those on big time. Factor in a couple of thousand in phony fees (I was quoted $1800 freight and set up on a $6,995 Sportster in '03) and the percentage of depreciation changes a bit.
Anyway, when I get another case of New Bike Fever I'll most likely be visiting the Kawasaki dealer first and the Triumph dealer after that.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

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