Monday, July 20, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
But scratching the riding itch is not the intended subject of today's post. I refer instead to the most horrific condition known to the motorcyclist: the itchy nose. A herd of deer bounding into the road? Bah. Potholes the size of lunar craters? Who cares. The psych ward at Bellevue driving hummers and talking on three cellphones at once? A mere triviality. Going 65 MPH on the freeway and having an itch flare up on ones proboscis? Epic, monumental, tragedy.
I have tried all manner of solutions. The "jam fingers up the chin gap and waggle them around" technique is spotty at best, and impossible if you have a well-sealing helmet. The "throw open the visor, violently poke the itchy spot, and close the visor before angry bees or chunks of road hit you in the eye" approach often leads to temporary loss of eyesight -- and worse, the itch remains. "Letting go of the itch in a zen-like meditative state wherein you accept that suffering is a natural part of life" only seems to anger the itchy gods. And the whole idea of just "pulling over and properly dealing with the situation" is, of course, absurd.
So my helmet's off to those who wear the hard plastic yarmulke! They may be missing the front of their face when they have an unplanned dismount, but their nose will not itch.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
I have owned this pair of Sidi Vertigo Air boots for nearly a year now, and with the sole exception of rainy days, do all of my riding in them. I have worn the boots 50-60 hours a week many weeks in a row with no discomfort. I love the fact that they are dead simple to put on (one full-length zipper and a top velcro flap), offer terrific protection, are breathable (have perforated uppers), have a built-in closable air vent, adjustable calf, and are comfortable on and off the bike. Truly a race-quality boot for everyday wear.
My Sidi Canyon boots have also been around for nearly a year, though have gotten a lot less use than my Vertigo's. I bought these for rainy days: they have a full goretex membrane, are very waterproof, and offer thick soles. The Canyon's are also very comfortable. They feel like they are much more solid than the Vertigo's due to the full-length velcro flap closure, cinch-down foot strap, and chunky sole. Unfortunately this contributes to less feel on the bike -- my feet are really insulated from everything, even the shift/brake foot controls. That being said, they are my go-to boots when the storms roll in without question.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Lane splitting in California is defined as riding between two lanes of traffic. The first infraction is obvious: riding between the right-most lane and the shoulder. The shoulder is not a lane of traffic, so is illegal to ride on or split.
The second infraction is not so obvious to most: the car pool (ride share) lane is separated from the main freeway by two solid yellow lines. This means that it is considered separate from the other lanes -- it is a different road entirely. Because it is only one lane, there is no other lane to split with. It is illegal to ride between the car pool lane and the left-most regular freeway lane.
I hope this saves you a ticket, and leave you with this:
Q: Why don't ride share lanes go under mountains?
A: Car-pool Tunnel Syndrome.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I have owned numerous two-wheeled vehicles over the years, and my path to riding a motorcycle as my primary vehicle has been quite an unusual one. I thought it would be interesting to take a trip in the way-back machine and follow my two-wheel evolution:
My first experience with two wheels was astride a red banana-seat Huffy. This bike provided quite a taste of freedom to a budding eight-year old. I remember attaching numerous gadgets (farkle?) to it in order to simulate engine noises. I even mounted a water jug in the frame as a faux gas tank, and poked a small hole in the bottom so the 'gas' would run out as I rode! Good times.
The early eighties ushered in the age of the chrome-moly, mag-wheel, BMX. Mine was a surprise gift from my Dad -- a silver and black beauty of a bike. I felt unstoppable astride its thick frame. This bike carried me through the eighth grade before finally being retired.
My entry into high school was accompanied by a brown Schwinn ten-speed bike given to me by my step-father. Sitting perched atop its narrow seat took some getting used to, but the ten gears made it all worthwhile. My mom started sending me to the store for milk and such (a 14-mile round trip).
A long two-wheel hiatus into adulthood and I bought myself the cadillac of mountain bikes: a 2003 Cannondale Jekyll 1000. 21 gears, "Lefty" fork, hydraulic disc brakes, and all the trimmings. I even rode it a few times.
A coworker of mine brought his GoPed to work one day and allowed me a test ride around the parking lot. My initial nervousness melted instantly and I had to have one for myself. I even commuted on it during the summer -- my job was only two miles away. Can't beat 140 MPG, too!
The first GoPed with a true seat and chain drive was the logical upgrade for me. I commuted on this wee death trap for about a year. The GoBike was the cause of my most serious crash to date: I gunned the throttle at a green light, but was leaning back too far. The front wheel pawed the air and I was thrown off the back. Unfortunately, I was still holding on to the throttle and the bike dragged me across the intersection. Shorts did not provide much in the way of protection. Lesson learned.
The same coworker brought his Vespa ET-4 scooter to work and generously allowed me a test ride. The leap from 50cc glorified skateboard to 150cc full-fledged scooter was awesome. I immediately began looking for my very own. I prefer a more modern aesthetic than the traditional "Vespa" style, so ended up buying a Piaggio BV-200. I got my learner's permit and practiced on city streets for about nine months before getting my license. I later ended up selling it to that coworker.
At this point I was completely smitten by scooters and lusted after something bigger. Of all the options at the time, the 500cc Aprilia Scarabeo had the best features and style. I loved the larger wheels, the larger engine, the built-in topcase storage, and the classy look. Unfortunately, a change in my employment situation necessitated that we part ways.
I have always been attracted to innovation, and that is what caused me to purchase a Piaggio MP3 scooter. Riding one is quite an experience -- the two wheels up front provide an amazing degree of stability and traction -- yet it still leans like a traditional two-wheeler. While it was an entertaining reentry back to the world of scooters, my ownership was short-lived. Just a few months later Aprilia released the...
...Mana 850. Holy cow! An 850cc V-Twin mated with Italian style, faux tank storage, and an automatic CVT transmission!!! My dream "scooter". The Mana was an absolute delight in and around the city. I happily commuted the seven miles to work on it. Technically I still own the Mana, though I have loaned it to my Dad who recently got his license.
My job moved from seven miles on surface streets to twelve miles on the freeway. At the same time, the lease on my car ran out. I was faced with a decision. And if you've read this blog at all, you know that I bought the first bike that replaced having a car for me: the Yamaha FJR-1300.
Who knows what the future holds?