Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bike for the Ladies ...... or not.

Do you think with a bike like this more ladies might be inclined to ride? (That is if you can call it a bike)

As cool as it appears, somehow I don't think so. Looks like it might prove difficult to maneuver.  Although you would definitely attract attention whether it be good, bad, or indifferent.

-Au Revoir

"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead." - Mac McCleary

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Riding Gear #2 - Gloves

This post is the second in my series on riding gear. I shall discuss my long search for comfortable riding gloves that fit well.

First I should say that my hands are fairly small. They are not big around and I can touch my thumb and pinky around my wrist. My fingers are quite long though, which sometimes poses a challenge when trying to find gloves small enough but yet have long enough fingers.

I have a pair of deerskin gloves we found at a booth at Rhody Days in Florence about 6 or more years ago. I also have a pair of ski gloves bought about 4 years ago in a hurry one cold February morning when we decided the sun looked too good not to ride. (Never did make it to the coast that day - brrr) Neither pair fits particularly well. The deerskin gloves are small enough around but the fingers are too short and the wrist elastic doesn't quite make it to my wrist, but sits at least 1/2" up my palm. they have a bit of a gauntlet to them so my wrist is covered. The ski gloves are a little on the large size both around and in finger length. I still have both pairs and might have to revert to the deerskin pair if I don't find a good summer pair before the warm weather hits.

Finally a month or so ago while at Discount Motorcycle Parts in Eugene (Do you see a trend in our favorite accessory shop?) I started trying on several pairs of gloves while Troubadour was wandering around shopping. I was in the ladies glove section trying on this and that, different brands, types, and styles. I was looking for something to keep my hands warm while riding pillion, but would be flexible enough for riding my own bike too. I tried ladies smalls, mediums, large. I felt like the three bears, too tight, too loose, etc. Was looking for just right.

In my search I moved too far to the left and ended up in the mens glove section. I spotted a pair of Fieldsheer Aqua Sport gloves. Nice gel padding, cool reflective piping. Velcro adjustments on the wrist and gauntlet. They looked sharp. I had seen the same thing in ladies and tried them on as I really liked the look and style, but they didn't fit quite right. I figured what the heck I'd try on the mens. I tried on a small and lo and behold they fit perfect.

Wow, I thought, these are comfortable. You know how you put on that pair and you just know they are the ones. I went back to ladies and compared the difference. Yeppers the mens fit better. I couldn' beleive that with my small hands the mens fit better. Maybe they are mad with longer fingers.  I bought that pair and have worn them each and every time we've been out of the bike since. The tips of my fingers can still get a little chilly, but the gloves aren't going to help my poor circulation.

Any ladies out there having trouble finding gender specific gloves I urge you to come to the dark side and try on the mens. You won't be sorry.

-Au Revoir

"Safety doesn't happen by accident." ~Author Unknown

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cat Wisdom #4

Basil learned that no matter where you are, 
if you are tired - nap.

Whether on the arm of the sofa.....

Crashed on the area rug.......

or simply kicking back against the sofa cushions.....

-Au Revoir

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." -Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009


Today is Earth Day.

Don't you think every day should be earth day? 

I do.

Now, get out there and hug some trees and kiss some dirt.

-Au Revoir 

"To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival." -Wendell Berry

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tiptoe through the tulips

Well you can't exactly tiptoe through our tulips.  We have neglected to plant tulips every fall since we bought our house 3 years ago. There are however, two clumps that come up faithfully for us to enjoy in an old flower bed we have been reworking out front. We keep telling ourselves that we need to plant more but somehow when fall arrives we just don't get to it.

Troubadour was nice enough to cut a few of the meager stems to bring inside for us to enjoy. They have been in the vase for a few days now and have opened up wide. To me when tulips open that far they start to look like poppies. I always call them poppies at that point, and I think it drives hubby nuts.

I was intrigued when looking into one of the blooms and decided to take a few more snapshots. This one was taken without the flash.

Somedays our little Kodak digital camera does alright. The following picture was taken with the flash and somehow the flash created a weird white reflective shadow in the bloom ..... although the colors are quite a bit more vivid in it than the previous picture.

This last picture is my favorite. I took this picture looking up towards the ceiling as the sun was coming through the window. 

I decided to tweak it a little bit in iPhoto and came up this muted retro-antique look that I might like even better....looks kind of like an Ikea poster now.

-Au Revoir

"The great events of life often leave one unmoved; they pass out of consciousness, and, when one thinks of them, become unreal. Even the scarlet flowers of passion seem to grow in the same meadow as the poppies of oblivion." -Oscar Wilde

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday Ride to the Coast

Yesterday was a nice sunny day in the Willamette Valley so a group of us headed out at 10:30 am from a local coffee shop to meander our way to the Oregon Coast. There were six of us on five bikes. There was a Kawasaki Concours, Suzuki V-Strom, a Ducati, Harley Nightster, and of course Troubadour and I were on his Triumph America.

Took the backroads to Waldport, South to Yachats and stopped at the Luna Sea Fish House for lunch. It wasn't great food but the owner and staff were friendly and put tables together accomodate us.

After a relaxing lunch we headed south towards Florence stopping to jaunt up to the Cape Perpetua lookout. Troubadour and I hadn't been up to the lookout before so it was intersting for us. Yes, the Pacific Ocean is still there and I was able to take the following pictures as proof.

After leaving the lookout one rider headed back North as he needed to get home so four bikes headed South to Florence. Stopped for a quick refueling and East to Eugene we went. The BMW Motorcycle shop was having their Spring open house and we wanted to catch it. Another rider decided he too needed to get home so he turned off at a backroad at Veneta. The last three bikes made it to Eugene by 4:00. Just as the shop was wrapping things up. We did get to wander around and look at all the pretty new bikes and gear though.

Headed back out a little East and then North catching all the backroads and avoiding as much highway as we could on the way home. Managed to get home around 6 pm. Too tired to cook so we ordered pizza delivered from the best place in town: American Dream Pizza. All in all a good day and no one got hurt.

Ride safe
-Au Revoir

"The best alarm clock is sunshine on chrome." ~ Author Unknown

Friday, April 17, 2009

Riding Gear

The title above brings to mind images of helmets, boots, jackets, gloves, pants, rain gear; the list goes on. 

I figured I would write a series of posts regarding the trouble I’ve had finding suitable (and by suitable I mean comfortable and appropriate) riding gear over the last seven or so years. I don’t know if my trouble stems from being a women and trying to stay with gear specifically labeled for women or just my height, size, and proportions in general. I am just shy of 5’8” with most of my height being in leg length as I have a short torso. My arms are quite long as well. 

I think part of my problem is that I hate to shop. I just don't like shopping and I get quite frustrated after trying multiple items on in different sizes and finding they don't fit right. I give up and then don't try again for a while. And let me tell you, bad words are usually said.

This, my first post regarding riding gear, shall be about my search for a suitable jacket.

I used to have a leather jacket that I found at Bob Lanphere's that worked great. At the time I purchased a leather jacket rather than textile, as I could not find a textile jacket with sleeves long enough and I tried several different brands (Joe Rocket, Fieldsheer, Cortech, etc) prior to settling on the leather. The leather jacket suited me well for several years. I then lost a few pounds and it didn't fit right anymore, although I did continue to use it for several years.

Last year, I finally found a textile jacket that fit. A Cortech LRX Series 2 I found at Discount Motorcycle Parts in Eugene. 

I don't know if I waited long enough that they sized their new models slightly different or why all of a sudden I found one that fit. I really enjoy the jacket and it has served me well. It fits, keeps the rain from getting me soaked. Has a zip out liner and several vents for cooling in the summer. And I do appreciate the reflective piping all around.  It only took 6 or so years to find, but I am glad I did. I wear it each and every time Troubadour and I are out on the bike.

In fact it is supposed to be in the 70's here tomorrow so it is a good excuse to wear it on the ride to the coast that is being organized over at the Pacific Northwest Riders Forum, aka PNW Riders.

Stay tuned for a future follow up post on my search for gloves that actually fit.

-Au Revoir

"Catching a yellow-jacket in your shirt at seventy miles per hour can double your vocabulary." ~Author Unknown    
[ That is why I wear ATGATT]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15th

When people see April 15th on the calendar most think of tax day. Yes, taxes have to be post marked by midnight tonight. 

Other people may think of April 15th as being the anniversary of when the Titanic sank in 1912. Not a happy day, but it has earned millions for Hollywood's box offices. How sad.

When I think of April 15th I think of the anniversary of the birth of one of the world's greatest painters and most versatile geniuses in history: Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was born in the year 1452. He was a master, it seemed, in all that he did. He was trained to be a painter, but his interests and achievements spread into an astonishing variety of fields that are now considered scientific specialties. He studied anatomy, astronomy, botany, geology, geometry, and optics, and he designed machines and drew plans for hundreds of inventions including the helicopter, before it 
was possible to even build one.

Because da Vinci excelled in such an amazing number of areas of human knowledge, he is often called a universal genius. However, he had little interest in literature, history, or religion. He formulated a few scientific laws, but he never developed his ideas systematically. He was most of all an excellent observer. He concerned himself with what the eye could see, rather than with purely abstract concepts.

And who can forget his Vitruvian Man drawing..... Like other artists, da Vinci was interested in the proportions of the human body. He drew a famous study of human proportions based on the statement of the Roman architect Vitruvius that the "well-shaped man" fits into the perfect shapes of the square and circle. According to Vitruvius, the parts of the body are related to one another in ratios of whole numbers, and these ratios should be used in the design of architecture. Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian man, done about 1487, is one of the most famous images in European art.

I feel fortunate to live in a city that hosts da Vinci Days A 3-day festival celebrating art, science, and technology. It is where art and science collide. Da Vinci Days has electric car races, kinetic sculpture races, film festival, sidewalk art, as well as music in the evenings. If you find yourself in Corvallis in mid-July it is well worth checking it out. 

Here are a few pictures Troubadour and I have taken while watching the parade and kinetic sculpture races.

-Au Revoir

" Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Cat Pictures

Here is one of our favorite pictures of Sir Baxter playing with Squire Basil when Basil was a kitten. Sure wish the focus was a little better but at least we managed to capture the "attack". 

"The Attack"

-Au Revoir

"A cat is a lion in a jungle of small bushes." - Indian Saying

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday the 13th


Why is it harder to get out of bed on a Monday morning than any other day? Mondays make me think of Garfield the cat and how he did not like them at all. 

Out of any given Monday today has to be Monday the 13th. Now there are those people that are superstitious about Friday the 13th, but I seem to remember that any Monday the 13th was the worst kind of Monday for Garfield.

I hear ya Garfield, I hear ya.

-Au Revoir

"Monday is a lame way to spend 1/7 of your life." ~Author Unknown

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Hiking We Will Go

Well, actually, it was "a hiking we a went". On Sunday April 5th Troubadour and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm 78˚F weather here in the Willamette Valley and went on a 5-mile hike up Bald Hill.

Luckily we live about a half mile from the trailhead so it is just a hop, skip and a jump away. It was a great day and we tried to take several pictures since we actually remembered the camera this time.

We took this picture of an old wooden cross. It is located at the top of Bald Hill at the base of a tree. Not sure of the history of it. It might be a very old grave marker or it could be something else. If you look close you can tell where it had been buried in the ground. 

Here is one from a different angle in black and white. For some reason the picture just holds your attention.

This picture is taken along the path up to the top of the hill. I thought the tree limbs made an interesting composition against the brilliant blue sky.

Troubadour asked that I pose for a picture as there aren't many of me out there. We took pictures of him as well, but we'll save those for a separate future post. He takes such a good picture he needs his own post, mind you, I might be slightly biased.

-Au Revoir

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." ~John Muir

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The time has come...

Well it has been a little over 6 years since I took the Team Oregon motorcycle safety class out at LBCC and received my motorcycle endorsement.  As yet, I have not had my own bike to ride and I am reluctant to venture forth on Troubadour's 2007 Triumph Bonneville (he bought it new and has only had it a year) so I have been relegated to riding pillion.  I am ok with that.

We have always wanted to buy me a bike to ride.  We keep saying someday.  You know how that is.  We bought a house in Lebanon and needed to renovate before we could sell and move into Corvallis where we really wanted to be.  Did that in 3 years then bought our current house which needed a lot of work.  First year we renovated (gutted) the bathroom, then did landscaping and just this past December we gutted the kitchen and did a total remodel of that room.  Other priorities kept coming up in place of that elusive first bike.

And now.... our house is at a place where we feel comfortable that it is presentable to company (if we ever had any) and can switch gears to more frivolous spending. We have been researching and checking Craigslist daily for about two months now looking for good used bikes.  Haven't really run across any that strike our fancy - in our price range.

We prefer something that will serve dual purpose.  I don't mean necessarily dual sport but something tame enough for me to get reacquainted with riding but big enough that Troubadour can commute to work in the rain and snow and that gets better gas mileage than the Bonneville.

I am just shy of 5'8" tall so the popular always recommended Honda Rebels are too small and low for me.  I don't feel comfortable with my knees up at mirror height while riding.  I do believe toilet seats are higher than the seat of a Rebel.

We have been to Eugene, Salem, and Portland and through all of the motorcycle shops and sat on many a bike.  The Honda Shadow VLX 600 is a good fit.  The Suzuki S40 is also a good fit.  

The best fit and comfort by far has got to be the BMW G650GS. Of course it does. Couldn't be a cheap Japanese model.  I really like the idea of a bike that is only 423 pounds wet weight and the gas tank is located under the seat so the center of gravity is lower. Troubadour likes the idea of heated grips and ABS for winter commuting.  This would serve our dual purposes.

The BMW's hold their value and are not cheap on the used market. We must weigh the pros and cons of buying used or putting a down payment on one and buying new.  

We are still in the debating stage as we are trying to mix fiscal responsibiliy with functionality of the motorcycle.  Those darn bikes are hard to find used too.  Decisions sometimes can be the hardest part.  

Then little miscellaneous unexpected bills crop up and need to paid. Who needs to see a doctor anyway, right?  Damn privatized "for profit" health care.  Almost makes me pine for British Columbia again.  Almost, not quite.  

So I might not get my own bike this year, but if we keep looking you never know when the right one at the right price will be discovered.  I will ride my own bike though. That is a personal goal. I am determined to get comfortable on my own bike and riding in traffic.  Pretty soon it will be like second nature; some might say it will be easy - "just like riding a bike".

Stay tuned.......

-Au Revoir

"It takes more to share the saddle than it does to share the bed." 
     - Author Unknown

Friday, April 3, 2009

Full Face Helmets and Spring


It is a known fact that life smells different when experience from a motorcycle. This goes for the good and the bad. Everything from roadkill to second hand smoke at stop lights to spring blooms smelled along the open road.

Spring is in full force here in the Willamette Valley. The magnolias, cherry trees, plum trees, daffodils and miscellaneous shrubs are all in full bloom. This is the start of allergy season.

They say if you don't have allergies before you arrive in the Willamette Valley, you will before long. I had allergies before but they were worse and for a longer duration. I still have allergies but they are mostly related to the grass seed industry that is so prolific in this area. Linn County is the grass seed capital of the world, but I don't mind as Troubadour works in the industry therefore it puts food on our table.

My allergies start mid May and run to about July 4th when the grass fields are cut down for harvest.

As an ATGATT motorcyclist, let me say yes, it is possible to blow your nose in a full face helmet while riding pillion. 

You haven't lived until you have sneezed in a full face helmet....... repeatedly ........with the visor down.

I'm just sayin'..........

-Au Revoir

"When you're riding lead, don't spit." ~Author Unknow