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

Monday, December 31, 2012

As The Wheels Turn - Part 15

Happy New Year!  May 2013 bring you the urge for excitement.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The 40on2 Fall Photo Contest progress

Waiting patiently (my photo, not an entry)

Well, I've not exactly inundated with entries for the photo contest but I guess that will make judging easier.  So far I've seen a Suzuki V-Strom, a Yamaha, a Royal Enfield, and a weather vane.  Whomever sent in the photo of themselves in a Bultaco jersey and with no pants on, thanks.  I've put your photo in the macro photography category.

 None of the women amongst my twelve regular readers have attempted via fetching photos of them on their bikes,  to lure me into giving them the $50 prize from motorcycle accessory site Jafrum.com.  I am saddened by that.  No one has included a corgi in their photos.  That may be more to a dearth of corgis in the world than desire to not get the easy win.   Webster commented that he doesn't carry a camera when he rides.  Webster, lad, your history is slipping away!   Paul, Jr. of OCC fame cruised by and declared it a "great contest idea" so I know I'm on the right track, at least.

I've thought about bumping the prize list to include and autographed picture of me or an official 40on2 t-shirt but I never had the t-shirts made.

So here I sit nursing a bad cold and waiting, waiting...tick, tick, tick...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The 40on2 Fall Photo Contest

 Darin H. photographing our Aprilia Caponords near Ajo, AZ. 2005. Nikon Coolpix 8800

Not too long ago I got an e-mail from the folks at the motorcycle accessory site Jafrum.com asking me about promotional possibilities.  I get those sorts of inquiries all the time and turn them down.  However, they offered up a $50 gift certificate for their site to be used as I saw fit so how could I miss?  

As I pondered the possibilities I decided the most fun would be to give away the gift certificate to one of my twelve regular readers.  How do that?  A photo contest!

Summer riding season is over for most places this side of the equator and I figured you guys would have a favorite picture from this year's riding adventures and that it ought to be shared with the world so here's what I offer:  

You must be an amateur photographer, no pros.

E-mail me me your favorite photo from a 2012 ride you did.  The image must be at least 1024 pixels for landscape format or 900 pixels hight for portrait format  and include a motorcycle or an obvious part of one.  Please use your name as part of the file name so I can keep things from getting too confused.

Only one entry per person. The person submitting the entry must be the photographer.

No nekid or bikini stuff, this is a family blog, more or less. 
my pal Gromit. 2010

Bonus points if you include a Corgi in the photo.  I love Corgis.

With your submission please include the usual who/what/where info and what camera/lens you used to take the shot. 

The photo cannot have been published anywhere else previously except your own blog or website.

If you have a better camera than I do I won't hold it against you but I may ask to borrow it.
Entry deadline is midnight December 31, 2012.

Entries are limited to the first...uh...200 submissions?  200? Yeah, that should cover it a few times over. 

My e-mail address is at the bottom of the page.

Ansel Adams' camera.
How will the winner be chosen?  An esteemed motorcycle and photography guy (me) will decide which photo he likes the best. The judging criteria will be based solely on what I like and my decision is final.  Hint:  I like Ansel Adams and Piet Mondrian. I hate HDR photos and obviously Instagram'd photos, they look cheap and cheesy.

Don't put a huge watermark on your photo.  Automatic F for that.

The winner gets the $50 gift certificate (on-line order code).  Those not picked will have to console themselves as best as they can.  It's only fifty bucks, not life.

 I will not send back any files, that would be silly.

I'll post the winning photo with photographer credit in a blog entry on or after January 1, 2013 and e-mail the gift certificate code to the winner.

Such legal stuff as I can think of at the moment:  The photo belongs to you, you give up no rights to it.  You do give me permission to publish here in the blog anything you submit. I'm not responsible if something of yours published here gets ripped off by some other site or company (it happens).

I reserve the right to cancel this contest for any reason I wish whenever I wish, or change, add, and delete rules on a whim.  If no one enters I reserve the right to spend the gift certificate on myself; I could have done that anyway but I like you all and thought it would be nice to share like Mom taught me to.  If my brother enters he won't win.

By submitting a photograph you thereby agree to the above rules.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thinking Small

I started with one of these, a 60cc Yamaha
I've heard long time riders express concern about a dearth of new riders entering the sport of motorcycling.  I believe that one of the things that's become a limiting factor for new riders, especially women riders, entering the sport is the notion that people should start on a 250cc machine that weighs almost as much as the long ago Triumph 500 weighed. 

Too often new riders are told their first bike should be at least 500cc or 650cc.  To an experienced rider a 350lb - 500lb machine is nothing, to a new rider it's darned heavy and awkward, a choice that intimidates and makes it more difficult to develop the instinctive reactions needed to survive on the street.  Experienced riders have long forgotten how confusing it can be to coordinate clutch, brake, throttle, and seat position in an endless number of riding scenarios.  Adding too much weight and too much horsepower to the equation only makes it more intimidating and difficult, if not more dangerous.

Long ago many of us started on cheap 50cc or 100cc machines and developed a skill set that wasn't tied to lots of weight and horsepower.  As our skills grew, the size and performance of the bikes grew and we were more amenable to the higher costs.
My second bike. To me it was big.

"Don't buy a 250cc machine, you'll be bored with it in 6 months."

Our "bigger is better" attitude is holding people back because faced with the idea they might be bored with a major purchase within 6 months or spending even more on a bigger, more intimidating machine they opt to not enter the sport at all.   Telling them they must also have another $500 - $1000 in bizarrely colored, special riding gear adds to the idea that motorcycling is just too expensive when they are still uncertain whether or not the sport is for them.

The perceived bar to entry has been raised by the people within the sport and I believe it's keeping people out of the sport.

image via Honda.

I contend that the sport would be better off if we'd get back to starting people on 100cc motorcycles and letting them grow from there -- except that the bike companies no longer sell such machines in the USA (save as dirt bikes for kids).  100cc machines are fast enough, easier to handle, and less intimidating for many new riders for whom motorcycling is still quite an adventurous and "crazy" thing.  There are still lots of small displacement scooters being sold, why not small displacement bikes?  Bigger is not always better.  Starting small is a better, more logical way to get into the sport of motorcycling.  Back in the days of "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" it got millions of people started including me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

More Photos From The Swap Meet

A few more shots from last Sunday's recent swap meet.

I suppose the lock keeps honest people honest.

I've photographed this ball & claw shift knob before.  I still like it.

Changing styles

I love to see old bikes that really get ridden and used.  There are enough garage queens and museum pieces already.

Foot board on an late '40s Knucklehead.

Parking lot bikes.  I believe a '47 Harley knucklehead and a '51 panhead.  H-D fans feel free to correct me.

Another shot of that $300 gas tank...

Not sure if this is for a scooter or a roto-tiller.

A tank in the shadows (which I think is a Honda Shadow tank)

I've never been a chopper fan but these old '70s era Honda 750 choppers appeal to me for some reason.

The previous entry show the right side bag on this '47 Harley, here's the left side.

And just in time for the holidays, Martha Stewart's little brother, "Skull" Stewart, was showing off his fall line of interior decor accent pieces.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Swap Meet Time Again

Yes, it's the height of the fall motorcycle social season here in my little town, the annual motorcycle swap meet out at the county fairgrounds came to pass.

There seemed to be more booths this year and more attendees but less interesting stuff.  Lots and lots of miscellaneous and largely uninteresting bike parts and very few older bikes for sale.  I got this notion as I walked around that in the down economy a lot of people have already sold off their good junk and are down to selling their junk junk.   On the other hand, prices seemed a little silly, a badly painted and now very rough Sportster tank for $300?  A primered and weathered Triumph tank for $400?

The M/C contingent was smaller this year also, although the Hells Angels had their usual, tidy booth selling "Support your local 81" stuff.  

The guys manning the booth looked positively clean cut and beyond their colors not much like the guys that used to frequent the gas station where I worked when I was 19.  Things change even in the 1% world.  While faux "bikers" around the world try to look bad the real bikers are looking almost corporate.  I'll guess that corporate is only skin deep just as "bad ass biker" is often only t-shirt deep.

Behind the Red & White booth you could buy "The Ultimet Riding Bandana."  I resisted buying one even though there is no helmet law in Arizona.

I contented myself with wandering about struggling to find interesting things to point my camera at, things that wouldn't turn suddenly away and ask "Who ya takin' those for??"

I find myself drawn to photograph old saddlebags.  More than many parts of a bike, worn saddlebags seem to hint at a story.

I thought this tank looked interesting with it's damaged '70s style paint scheme.  Looks like someone tried paint remover on it and failed.  I thought it would look cool in my house and with some flowers poking out of the filler neck but lost interest when the seller quoted me $300.

 Still on my saddlebag kick.

The bikes out in the parking lot were more interesting than anything in the swap meet.  The shot above is a '51 knucklehead on which the owner regularly travels.  The '51 is based here in Arizona and has been to California and to Sturgis amongst other places and not on a trailer.

A closer look at those Harley beer cans seen at the top of the post.

Another parking lot bike.  H-D's shrouded headlights always make me feel artsy.

Some people put gremlin bells on their bikes to keep gremlins way, some people call them angel bells hoping to curry favor with friendlier beings.  One guy chose the Hindu god Ganesha to lead the way on his Suzuki 350.  Traditionally, Ganesha is revered as the Remover of Obstacles. The bike was a 350cc street model not sold in the US and there was some indication the rider was from Peru so it may well have had to overcome some obstacles getting to an obscure corner of Arizona.

More photos to come...

(previous years visits are here: 2009 2010 2011 and 2011 again)

Friday, October 05, 2012


At the INTERMOT bike show in Germany Kawasaki showed their new Z800  "street fighter."  To me it looks like it's already been crashed by some helmetless, baggy pants wearing dillweed in a YouTube video.  Odd angled panels going in every direction look like so much broken ABS plastic.

This trend to make bikes uglier and uglier each year can be seen in the more polished but still butt ugly 2013 BMW R1200GS.

Really, how do trained designers come up with this stuff?  The GS looks like a farm implement - a 2 wheeled hay bailer - more than a motorcycle.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Young Spirits

Lots of old guys who are not going gently into that good night.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

But It's A Dry Heat

indoor / outdoor thermometer above my desk

I'm sitting here eating a popsickle.  A banana popsickle, my second most favorite after root beer popsickles.  Motorcycle friends in the colder climes often say to me "You're lucky, in Arizona you can ride all year round!"  Well, you can operate a motorcycle all year round in Arizona but when it's summer and 116° outside and 83° indoors with the A/C on I'll skip the operating because it's only a form a torture, not actual riding.  People can talk all they want about cooling vests and such.  Sorry, not buying it. It's miserable riding in this kind of heat and all the gadgets short of an air conditioned car only make it less miserable -- but it's still miserable.

The V-Strom currently sits in the garage, connected to the BatteryTender, and awaiting new rear brake pads. It's 94° inside the garage. I'm probably getting soft in my old age.  Oh well. Maybe next month.  In the mean time, the freezer is still full of popsickles.

Friday, July 27, 2012


If you ride a motorcycle on the street you have dangerous encounters with cars.  If you started riding yesterday you can expect it to happen soon. If you’ve been riding a while you know that surviving distracted or just plain dangerous drivers is part of the game. We have to deal with it or stay off the bike.

For me, having some one pull out or cut me off barely raises my heart rate after so long in the saddle, a well developed set of instinctive reactions are my friend when surprises come along.
To seek retribution against errant drivers some riders carry stuff to toss at offending cars; that is an ancient motorcycle thing.  When I got my first bike over forty years ago old riders told me to "carry lug nuts to toss at tailgaters because lug nuts are common things on the highway and they can't be tied back to you." Ball bearings where also recommended. In these modern times I suspect tossing a lug nut or ball bearing at a brain dead driver would constitute some sort of assault and is probably a bad idea. As a kid I didn't carry anything, it seemed like a way to escalate situations I wasn't prepared to defend with my skinny 16 year old fists.

(image source unknown)
Here in Arizona where the open carry of a firearm is legal, a rider I used to know who got cut off and tailgated enough during his daily commute to work began strapping a pistol on his belt.  He claimed there were  fewer problems after that, seemingly people notice a gun where they don't see the whole motorcycle.  I'm not recommending open carry though. These days, even where legal, I believe it just invites trouble or unwanted attention from law enforcement if you get nicked for speeding.

My solution, developed long ago when I was a news film courier on a motorcycle in Los Angeles, was to give as few opportunities to car drivers as possible to shorten my life. I move around a lot on in a lane, choose my lane positions respective to the changing positions of cars around me, and always have an escape route.  I have shaken my fist at idiot car drivers, and when I was younger and less charitable given them the 1 finger salute on very rare occasions.  Generally I made sure they knew I was mad at them, but in truth, there's not much you can do against an idiot behind the wheel of a 4000 lb car or truck. If someone cuts you off, even hits you, and you strike back, you've escalated the situation and become partly at fault.

I was on a group ride a few years ago with 18 other large bikes and some clown in a car tried to do a slow lane change right into the middle of our group. A few of the guys pulled up along side and with their fists "waved" him back into his lane and the idiot backed off. 18 against one is one it took to get his attention and remind him that he didn't own the whole road.

If you ride a scooter or a bike you've chosen to put yourself lower on the "food chain" of the highway, you can try to work around it, develop survival strategies, but you should never, ever be expected to be treated as an equal.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eight Isn't Enough

Coolidge, AZ at sunset.  2004

Some how some way it seems that I have now completed eight years of blogging here. I like to think it's a testament to my persistence, the volume of words in my head, the constant adulation of the teeming masses who read my sage writings and lionize me, but in fact that's all nonsense, I just can't seem to quite stop writing.

Speed up, slow down, come to a temporary stop, but I keep writing, photographing, and twelve or so regulars keep showing up to read. Thank you. Sometimes as life has kicked me in pants yet again a ride on the motorcycle and a couple of positive comments on the resulting blog entry have provided a much needed ego boost. My needs are simple (apart from the incessant motorcycle buying).

For me the pictures have become as important a part of the blog for me as the writing, I normally spend more time fiddling with getting photos to present here than I do the writing. Sometimes that shows.  Words are easy to spill out. Good words are a little tougher though. Great words nearly impossible but I remain hopeful that whatever the next entry is, it will resonate and the readers will grow silent as they persue them and then roar with praise as the full impact of finely crafted paragraphs touches them. Uh huh...

Pictures...the one above is a shot that I took at this time back in '04 using a Nikon CoolPix of some sort. Nice little camera but a far cry from my Nikon D90 or Olympus PEN now.  I wanted to do a special shot for this blog entry but it's been 106° - 110° degrees all week and I just didn't feel like venturing out on the bike. I am getting weak, I guess.  Or smart.  So a recent shot, taken with the Olympus E-PL1 to bookend the one above from eight years ago:

V-Strom 1000 at Coolidge Airport.

Eight years?  Who'd a thunk it?  Thank you for your kind attention.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I was rummaging through my accumulated bike photos and ran across the one above and thought I'd pass it along.  It was one of those shots that I didn't notice at the time but in retrospect decided I liked.  Taken in 2004 with a Nikon D70.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More Help From My Friends

A few months back I commented on the declining sartorial splendor of my personal day-to-day garments, the despair into which my daily choice of dress had fallen, that is to say, my motorcycle t-shirt selection was in tatters.  In sympathy, my old friend Jac, over at Lehman Hill blog, came through with a special Harley t-shirt for me which, unfortunately, leaked oil on my garage floor.

A little later (yes, I'm tardy in writing this) Bobskoot, the sandal wearing photographer, Master of Eggs Benedict, and proprietor extraordinaire at Riding the Wet Coast blog, arranged another t-shirt for me, this time a select event model from the vintage Cannonball Run coast-to-coast ride for pre-1930 bikes.  Bob knew I wasn't much given to the flaming-skeletons-riding-a-chopper motif  and selected something properly tasteful and vintage looking for me.  Bob's a classy guy.  He wrote "I have to make sure you have decent clothes to wear, can't have you riding without some form of cotton protection."  

As Bob lives in the exotic and frozen land of British Columbia, Canada, and to make mailing easier since the shirt started life in the USA anyway, he passed the shirt off to Brad at Troubadour on a Tiger blog for mailing to me.  In due course the shirt arrived and now graces my manly and newly svelte physique.  No, you can't see a picture of me naked but I have lost weight.

One of the very best parts of blogging is the people we connect with through the blogs. I hope one day I get a chance to meet Bob and Brad in person.  

Thank you Bob and Brad.  You guys are the best.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Girlfriend

This post has to do with motorcycles only in the sense that we all know that life is more than motorcycles.  Life is also dogs, and for me specifically, Corgis.

Four month old Sparkle grabs the camera strap to help steady the shot
Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy face

Like me, she's into low stress

The Three Musketeers
Gromit, Doug, and Sparkle
My new sweetheart is Sparkle, AKA Bramanor Black Diamond, a four month old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the same breed as my 2 1/2 year old pal Gromit.  Gromit is actually Sparkles "uncle" and both are related to my first two Corgis that I lost in 2009.  I like the continuity of that.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” - Thomas Merton

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ducati / Audi Update

No surprise.  Audi has done the deed with Ducati.  At right is the front page of the Wolfsburg, Germany newspaper.  Wolfsburg is the home town of VW. 

picture via Frankfurter Rundschau.
And left is what the alligator looks like after he has eaten a tasty Italian.

Some people hate Piech, some fear him, many admire him but he may be the ultimate gear head, one who manages to create whole car lines and buy a  whole motorcycle company because he loves motor vehicles and wishes to make it happen.  

Piech is probably a modern day Soichiro Honda or Count Agusta.   Piech has just been re-elected to the VW Board chairmanship for 5 more years but he'll be 75 years old soon and I wonder how long he can last at the top of his game. And when he's gone, did he plan well enough for the empire he's built to hold together?   If he kicks it and things go down hill for the VW Group, I predict Ducati will be the first to be voted off the island.  Hopefully by then Ducati will be worth enough to fetch a dear price and continue to thrive.

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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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