Thursday, May 28, 2009

We Learn By Doing

So, now that we have purchased a starter bike for me, the training begins. I have been endorsed for 6 years but in all that time had not ridden my own bike until this past Monday. As you know from a previous post, Troubadour rode it back from Beaverton for me on Sunday. Monday morning he took me out to a local parking lot so I could once again familiarize myself with the controls.

I wear a grey Cortech textile jacket and Troubadour thought it might be a good idea to make me a little more visible for my street riding. He graciously lent me his green high vis vest. We had to cinch it in quite a bit and it makes me look like I've gained 20 lbs but it screams newbie and that is what we wanted.

Tuesday night we went out once again, this time Troubadour did not have to double me anywhere. We started out in the driveway, he on his Triumph and me on the Nighthawk. 

I followed him for a few laps around the neighborhood. I found out that first gear is really low on the 250 and that as soon as my feet are up I am shifting to second. After a few rounds of the side streets we went off on the main roads to downtown Corvallis to my work. Circled the parking lot and took some back roads south of town to get me used to a little faster speeds and some bumps and hills and curves. I topped out at 45 mph and fourth gear that night.

Last night, Wednesday, we headed out again. No laps of the neighborhood this time, just straight downtown following the same route. This time instead of turning to go home we headed down another back road where the speeds get to 55 and there are more corners and hills. We went a lot further last night and I made it to 60 mph and hit fifth gear. Yeah for me.

I have to admit that I wasn't really enthused about getting all suited up when it was 80˚ F outside and I'd rather be in shorts and a t-shirt, but once I was out on the open road I was truly enjoying myself and was imaging all of the trips that Troubadour and I will take over the coming years and I had to smile. 

If you have confidence in yourself and your ability and you are lucky enough to have a supportive spouse you can do anything, and life really is good.

Will we go out again tonight? Probably. Will we go further than last night? Probably. Will we remember the camera this time? Hopefully. Will I enjoy myself? Most definitely!

PS: If we do remember the camera I'll post up a few pics later.

-Au Revoir

"That's all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel."
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy Bike Day to me.......

Well, after an extensive search and many months/years, we finally pulled the trigger and bought me a bike.

All day Saturday of our long weekend was spend driving to Salem, Woodburn, and Hillsboro wandering around motorcycle shops, sitting on this, sitting on that. One shop in Salem had a new 2009 Suzuki TU250 that was pretty cool. Kind of a retro Triumph looking bike.  Here is a stock photo.

They also had a slightly used 2007 Suzuki Boulevard S40 that was pretty nice. It is a 650 single. More powerful that the TU but still wouldn't have gotten me into any major trouble. Again, here is a stock photo.

Both were fairly comfortable and in our price range.  One more of a standard and the other a criuser type. We couldn't quite make a decision on either so off we went. Nothing of interest at the shop in Woodburn so up to the suburbs of Portland we went. Stopped at a shop in Hillsboro as they were the ones who had the 2008 Honda Nighhawk 250's on cheap. Turns out they were not just demo's. Unfortunately, they had been used in training courses. Of course they didn't tell this to Troubadour on the phone when he inquired about them. Now, if you have ever taken a training course, you know the shape these "new" bikes were in. I don't think there were any parts left unscratched, uncracked or undented. We hummed and hawed and also sat on a used S40 there and the 2009 TU again. Something just wasn't right so we left, made a Starbucks stop for an iced coffee and headed home.

Troubadour was looking on Craigslist Sunday morning and spotted a listing for a Silver 2006 Nighthawk 250 with under 900 miles on it in Beaverton. He sent an email reply and received a call back right away. We were off to look at the bike. Murphy's Law.... we'd just driven through Beaverton the day before. Troubadour packed his gear into the hatchback of the Versa and off we went.

We got there just before 11 and the bike seemed in really good shape. A little tiny scratch here or there and a bit of electrical tape on the cracked front turn signals, but overall was a brand new bike. We decided to buy the bike. Made an offer, he countered and it was done deal. Stopped at a gas station to add air to the front tire (thanks Chevron for charging $0.75 for that).

Wasn't too bad a trip home. Stopped at a Walgreens in McMinnville for a cold drink and snapped a few pictures. 

Then homeward. The bike won't win any races but Troubadour sure kept ahead of me on it. I don't think it was quite the same as his America though. He was nice enough to wash it for me Sunday afternoon too. I am so spoiled.  I was too tired from two days in the car to take it for a test run.

Yesterday we headed out to a parking lot close by for a practice run since it has been 6 years since I took my safety course and received my endorsement. To be safe he rode it down there. Not as much power with the both of us on it. I rode it around for about an hour getting used it it, shifting, and getting my feet up quickly on the take off. Troubadour had me practic some emergency stops by throwng gloves down infront of me when I wasn't expecting it. Worked great. Here are a few pics he took of me riding around.

You can't see it, but I do have a huge grin on my face. After about an hour my grass allergies started getting the best of me and we headed home. 

Tonight, if I am not too tired ( aka lazy) after making dinner and doing the dishes, I may suit up and head around the neighborhood. Then watch out, as I'll be on the roads. Troubadour will guide me around some bckroads and then I can take it back and forth to work too as the office is only 3 miles away. If only I can figure out how to make helmet head half decent for the office.

I will try an update with how I am progressing.

-Au Revoir

"Whatever it is, it's better in the wind." ~ Author Unknown

Friday, May 22, 2009

Almost had it.

Troubadour and I have been hunting for a motorcycle for me for several months now. He has been keeping a close eye on Craigslist and we have made several trips to local motorcycle shops up and down the valley from Eugene to the South, to Salem and Portland to the North. No luck so far.

We are waffling between pulling the trigger and getting a new bike (although a modest one), and getting a older model (but not archaic), gently used bike.

Well..... he spotted a sweet deal Wednesday night and called about it yesterday morning. At 7:15 last night we were set to go look at a 2007 250 Honda Nighthawk that had under 300 miles on it for only $2800. Complete with a plexi windshield, center stand and custom luggage rack for the back.
Apparently someone else thought it was a sweet deal too bacuse the seller called back by 6:30 and said it had already sold. I guess it wasn't meant to be. I know we will find a bike suitable for me, but what really irks me is that the seller did not have the decency to let us know there were other people looking at it at an earier time. Considering he is the one that specified 7:15, I think it would have been a nice courtesy. If he had told us we were part of a queue to look at it, we wouldn't have been quite so excited, but still interested none-the-less.

So, the hunt continues. We did some research on the net last night and Portland has a few 2008 250 Honda Nighthawks, no miles on them, still new stock and at the dealer. They are supposedly blowing out for under $3,000. Troubadour may give them a call this afternoon and if they are still there we may drive up there tomorrow and take a peek. Sounds like a good excuse to go to Hot Pot & Sushi for lunch and, oh look, it is right by IKEA. Which also happens to be right by a BMW/Triumph dealer. 

Then there is still the BMW G650GS we are both coveting. I like the light weight and low center of gravity of having the gas tank under the seat. Troubadour likes that it is large enough we wouldn't have to sell it in a year, has heated grips, ABS and he could play with the big dogs on the forestry trails. 

Guess we'll just have to stop by the dealership to pet all the new shiny pretty bikes and try not to drool. But, the other side of the coin is we could get a Nighthawk now and in a few years sell it and get a BMW. Damn us and our fiscal responsibility. Decision decisions....

Stay tuned for updates.......

-Au Revoir

"Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes silk."- Chinese Proverb

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Motorcycle as an "objet d'art"

It is amazing what you can find on the internet even when you aren't looking.

Some pictures are worth a thousand words ...... others simply leave you speechless.....

-Au Revoir

"Our hearts are drunk with a beauty our eyes could never see." 
           ~George W. Russell

Monday, May 18, 2009

Busy Motorcycle Weekend

Well Troubadour and I had a busy fun filled motorcycle weekend. Temperature was in the 80's. We couldn't have asked for better weather.

The Oregon Vintage Motorcycle Ride was Saturday and started a few blocks from our house at the county fairgrounds. This year they were celebrating 50 years of the Triumph Bonneville. Cool for us since Troubadour has a Bonneville America. 

We met the bike night crew for coffee about 10:00 am prior to the start of the ride and then headed to the fairgrounds about 11. We all hung out, looked at bikes and received our copy of the planned route. 

Here are a couple of pics showing the bikes in the staging area.....

Stacy and Rick decided they didn't want to ride with the large group and took off a bit ahead and planned to stop at a good vantage point to take some pictures. 

Stopped at a light trying to get out of town. Bikes in front.....

And bikes behind.....

The route was slightly awkward and did some zig zagging over railroad tracks and such which made for a lot of slow downs and the group tightening up too much. It didn't seem to be a smooth route.

This ride was the first time I'd ever taken pics while riding pillion. Worked out well until the motion sickness started to kick in so I put the camera away. Here is a picture I took of Sean on his 2007 Triumph Thruxton as we passed him on a straightaway. 

Our first stop was scheduled for the Chevron in Brownsville in case some of the older bikes with smaller tanks needed fuel. Here is a pic of some of the bikes lined up at that pit stop.

Me standing beside Troubadour's America.....

By this time we were ready to take off on our own. Troubadour called Rick to see where he and Stacy were and they were not too much further ahead. We, along with Sean on his Thruxton and Bob on his Blackbird decided to pull over when we passed them. We stopped and Sean stopped, but Bob kept on riding.

We decided we were hungry so Rick lead us to Lebanon for teriyaki and cucumber rolls for lunch. Troubadour then lead us back home to Corvallis the long way. We arrived in Corvallis just after 4. Good times.

Sunday was the actual Vintage Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet. Troubadour got the '76 Kawasaki KZ 900 LTD fired up and so headed to the show on it. Paid our $5 admission and ooh's and ahhh'd over all the bikes. There were a ton of bikes. Well over 100 I'd say. Unfortunately we forgot the camera at home. Stacy was there and hopefully she will post up some pics if she had her camera with her. Luckily Sean posted some on his website. 

All in all it was a great weekend.

-Au Revoir

"Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death". ~ Hunter Thompson

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Motorcycle Humour

In honor of Troubadour getting his Kawasaki running this afternoon I post the following......

I especially like the handle grips on the horns.... they just add something.

-Au Revoir

"Whatever it is, it's better in the wind." ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Adventures in Motorcycling

When you think of motorcycling do you think of adventure?


When you think of adventure do you think of motorcycling?

-Au Revoir

"Well-trained reflexes are quicker than luck." ~Author Unknown

Monday, May 11, 2009

Back to work to relax ....

Had a busy weekend and was glad to see Monday arrive so I could get back to work and relax. Not that work is relaxing, but my job is mostly a desk job so pretty easy.

I managed to score Friday off but I dropped in to get the mail and check messages. Put out a few scheduling fires, then headed out to get groceries and home for my Friday house cleaning. I usually only work Friday mornings so my Friday afternoons are taken up with weekly grocery shopping and house cleaning and that leaves my weekend housework free. I managed to get all of my chores done by noon and instead of relaxing and puttering on the computer I decided the weather was too nice to stay inside.

I headed out to the front yard with gloves in hand and determined grimace on my face. Two and a half hours later I had managed to get most of the front shrub beds weeded. They were being invaded by California poppies. A pretty plant that we started from seed last year but it self-seeded like crazy and was running rampant and we didn't want it to choke out our other plants.

I finished in the late afternoon and took time to cool off, drink an iced coffee and post a blog and before I knew it Troubadour was home and ready to head out for a pre-run on his Saturday newbie route. We left Corvallis at 6 and got back into town about 8:30 or so. We were hungry so we headed for Thai food in Philomath at the Woodsman. Great food I must say. We didn't take any gratuitous food pictures though - too hungry. Finally made it home just after 10 and didn't get to bed until after midnight.

Back up at 6:30 and at the coffee shop by 9:00 to prepare for the newbie ride. Troubadour and tbolt gave a full review of the ride on their blogs so I won't go into detail here. I will say that after leaving Premier Moto we headed to Starbucks in Corvallis for a nice decaf grande Doubleshot on ice. Refreshing after a day on the bike. We then decided we needed bark mulch for all the shrub beds so the weeds didn't come back. Quick stop at Pro Bark on the way home and 12 cubic yards were set to be delivered within half an hour or so.

We started spreading the mulch about 4 pm. Troubadour manned the wheelbarrow and I was on rake duty. We stopped at about 6:30 for some leftover Thai food and finally finished up spreading all 12 yards by just after 9. At that point it was too dark to see. And yes, we were a little stiff and sore. A warm shower helped that out. We didn't get any pictures taken but I will try to take some this week if it isn't raining and post them.

Sunday morning came and we headed down to Eugene to my grandparents to visit for Mother's Day. Troubadour graciously offered to install a new dining room light for Gran that my aunt and cousin bought her for Mother's Day. Visited and played in the yard and had great quesadillas for dinner. My cousin has a 3-1/2 year old boy so we got lots of playtime in.

Finally made it home just after 8. Was a full weekend and we had a lot of good times. It is good to be back at work where I can relax and recouperate from a busy weekend, even if I did have almost 400 emails to sort through this morning. Sounds tough, I know.

Oregon Vintage Motorcycle ride is next weekend so we'll start all over again. 

- Au Revoir

"Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Random Cat Pictures

I haven't posted a random cat picture in a bit so I figured why not today. Friday seems like a good day for it. Here goes:

Monkey See.....

(Sir Baxter)

Monkey do....

(Squire Basil)

Poor Baxter.  He had that "oh crap I just got caught" look on his face.  Little did he know he wouldn't get in trouble for being in the planter, just his picture taken yet again.

-Au Revoir

"The cat was created when the lion sneezed" - Arabian Proverb

.... R.I.P. Baxter, we miss you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Top 10 Ways To Do More Ridin'

Surfing the net the other day I ran across this top 10 list on the Aerostitch website. I make no claim to authoring the list and hope I am not stepping on any copyright toes. I thought it humorous and wanted to share.

1. Commute. Keep a weather radio in your bathroom. Install an indoor/outdoor thermometer in the bedroom. Leave a cover or lock at your job’s parking place. Carry a garage door opener or parking ramp card that’s usable without dismounting. Arrange security in advance and be willing to pay for it. Once a week take a longer than necessary route to work.

2. Arrange your gear by the door or garage. Separate out your trip and camping stuff. Have your gloves and boots setup for selecting, depending on the days destination and weather conditions.

3. Get a smaller size motorcycle. Modern small bikes can do what old big ones did, easier cheaper and more fun to ride. Just like cars.

4. Ride in the rain. Go on purpose when nobody else is outdoors. Ride around for a look. If you get wet you won’t drown.

5. Ride at night. If you don’t have to get up for work the next morning there is nothing like enjoying a two am stop at a lonely all-night coffee shop, after a hundred miles of scary back roads. Full moons are best. Watch for deer and small animals.

6. Always have a way to haul stuff. Wear a Courier bag or backpack. Carry a bungee net, bungee buddy, an empty tank bag or some bungee cords. As a last resort, leave saddlebags on all the time.

7. Get a ‘beater’ motorcycle. Or make your bike into one. True beaters can be interesting and fun to ride and don’t attract vandals or thiefs. TT500’s, Ascot’s, Sabres, Interceptors, Titans, GS’s, /5’s, etc... Like blue jeans, most cycles are better when they show some wear. (Too much bike polishing leads to idolatry. Moses shatters the original 10 commandments...)

8. Have two or three different helmets at the ready. An expensive full coverage one for serious rides and an easy to use open or hinged chinbar type for everyday urban riding or use on super-hot days. Having several types of gloves, boots, jackets, etc...for different situations is also good.

9. Plan rides. One Sunday a month do an all-day local ride or an overnight. Invent some game of it. In cities, try riding only alleys or only to overlooks or only across all the bridges. What is the longest continuous street in your city? Have you ever ridden it end to end? Put a marked map or list on the tankbag or in your pocket, and carry a compass. Out on the road, go to the smallest roads, to the small places.

10. Ride very early in the morning. Dawn rides can be the best hour of your day. No traffic, clean air, good sights and sensations. A shower and breakfast after a sunrise ride are wonderful. This is best done when the days are the longest in June and July. It does not apply if your bike has open pipes, especially if you ride an H2 with chambers. Then, stay in bed.

10. Philosophy bonus A: Ignore what everyone else thinks. Riding is a better way to get around. Ride paranoid and keep your skills sharp

10. Philosophy bonus B: Ride with somebody who’s better than you. You will pick up a handy trick or new skill just about every time you are out.

-Au Revoir

"Midnight bugs taste best." ~Author Unknown

Monday, May 4, 2009

Morose Monday

You may know from previous posts that I am not a big fan of Mondays. I just find it hard to get out of bed at 6 am after having two days off. 

Today was worse than usual, as Troubadour had to go out of town for work. He is only gone for an overnight but it is still hard on us. He will not be back until late tomorrow so it will just be Squire Basil the
cat and I tonight. Sigh.

We have been together 15 years and married for 13 of those. In the last 11 years we have only spent 1 night apart. So, when something like this comes up, we are a little out of our element. It will be easier on me staying home in our comfort zone than it will be on him. He will be traveling with a coworker and staying at a hotel in a town he doesn’t know. At least I have the cat for company.

Some people might enjoy a night without their spouse, but not me. He is my best friend and I love him, and even if he is just gone for one night I shall miss him beyond words. 

Tomorrow will be better since he will be coming home and I will have something to look forward too all day while at work. Until then I shall be a sappy romantic and just stare at his picture. Maybe I’ll even sleep in one of his t-shirts, but don’t tell him I’m that mushy, I have a rep to protect.

-Au Revoir

"Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great."  - Comte DeBussy-Rabutin