Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fear

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to fear.

Fear of riding, fear of falling, fear of failing, fear of starting something new, of losing someone and some things.  Fear matters.  It motivates and it stops us. Our fight or flight reactions sometimes guide us or fail us.  We conquer it and wonder what scared us so.  We pay to be fearful every October.  Fear excites us, it scares the living hell out of us.

When I commute I sometimes take a different route and on that road is a rather easy "S" bend that quickly turns into a hard left.  It's a busy one lane road and the turn requires you to slow down drastically, going from about 40 MPH (64.4 KPH)  to 10 MPH (16 KPH) in seconds.  It's a good lean and when down right you feel the G force and stay in the lane.  When it's not done right you are put instantly into a three lane road just like a slingshot.

For a long time I would not take that road.  That turn scared the hell out of me.

Then one day I did.  Then another day.  Then the day after that.  I overcame that fear.  That being said I still give that turn a lot of respect.    I still slow down drastically, I still fear it but it's now more of a healthy respect.

Selfie
Over the last week or so I've been in class.  So my riding this past week has been drastically reduced.

This class is something new for me, I've not been in a University environment in over 20 years.  I have to learn a lot.  Like the teacher said, "You have a week to learn what normally takes a quarter to teach."  I'm fearful that I won't pass it.  That I won't be given the job promised me if I fail.  Its a lot of pressure but the payoff could be worth my weight in gold (and I'm pretty fat).

Assuming all works like I hope, I'll have to ride a little further each day but will be working daylight.  The pay would be at least 3K more a year than I make now.  It has the potential to be more, and I would be management for a change.  Good changes...but tinged with fear.  I would also have to ride the highway during rush hour...which is fearful in the relative safety of my car.

In my class I met a younger man who just bought his first motorcycle, a Suzuki S40 and I'll admit I was looking at one too some time ago.  He had taken the safety course and bought the bike used.  In the last 6 months he managed to put a little over 1,500 miles (2414 km) on it.  He stated he was fearful of it.  That he would not ride on roads that had cars or people on them.  I thought about when I first started and how, particularly at night, I would let the cars pass me on my little Zuma 125.

He told me a story about the Howard Franklin Bridge that he swore he never ride again.  I know the feeling all to well.  But we do these things and overcome our fears.

Sadly, this was fatal for the biker.

I'm not sure what drove us to motorcycling and all I know is that I don't have the love for it I once did.  I'm fearful of that.  I don't want my bike to be a garage queen and I don't want my miles to only number in the low thousands at the end of the year.  I'm fearful that he will never really develop a taste for it and just be another lost soul.

He asked me what it was like when I went down.  All I could do was stress training, riding and ATGATT.  What else could I do?  What else could I do to curtail that fear?

Then I told him something a wise rider once told me.  "Going down ain't the problem, it's what you do once you get up that matters.  Don't let that fear get to ya."

We don't have to be fearful.  We just do what we need to do.

Friday, August 15, 2014

High on Florida Politics

When I was out riding earlier today I saw a sign stating that early voting begins on August 26 here in Florida.  A whole 12 weeks (or 3 months) before the general election.  If your television is anything like mine, it is inundated with political ads even now.

Now I will admit before I even start that I'm biased.  I am a dyed in the wool Democrat (although I am a  Green Party member now).

Sadly I think about 1 out of every three ads is a political ad here in the sunshine state.  We are a political battleground state, largely because we have a very unpopular Governor in Rick "Bat Boy" Scott.   Scott masterminded one of the biggest Medicare frauds in history, then basically used his millions of ill gotten booty to buy the governorship.  He pretty much upset both parties his first 2 years and now is trying to paint himself as moderate.


Sadly his main Democratic challenger is a political opportunist who would join the American Nazi Party if he thought it would get him elected to a dog catchers position.  Personally, given these two choices, I'll vote for Cthulhu.

But my personal political leanings and beliefs are not the nature of this post.  I'm sure that many of my readers (all 5 or 6 of you) have frankly, stopped reading this by now.  So let me tell you what this post is about.

Pot.  Mary Jane, Blunt, Chronic, "the wacky weed".  Marijuana.  Cannabis Sativa.

Florida has Amendment 2 - the right for medical Marijuana on the November 4 ballot.  I've given a lot of thought to this amendment.

I also know people, both old and young, that need the medicinal benefits of Marijuana.   Who have either used it, tried it or are currently using it for the medical benefits.  I also know that most of the benefits obtained from the drug are either psychological or questionable at best.  Frankly, due to the sometimes draconian laws the US has had concerning pot, their is very little actual hard medical data.  Some of that data is questionable at best.

Personally I believe that there are some benefits to Marijuana.  I also believe that it needs to be researched more, we need to determine what these benefits are.  To take the best of it and do away with the rest.  I also know that if your give it to drug companies it will take them 30 years to develop and would cost 300 times what it takes to produce.  That is the nature of drug companies.  People need help now.

As someone that rides the roads of Florida pretty much every day I'm a little worried about loosening the states laws about Marijuana.  As a biker I have to deal with people texting, talking on their cell phones, drunk and distracted drivers, bad roads and uninsured/unlicensed drivers.  Florida  currently ranks fifth in the number of uninsured drivers   I have heard that 1 in 10 drivers in Florida is unlicensed, although I'm not sure how that number was determined.

In other words, it's scary out there.

Do I really want to add someone that is high to that long list of things I have to look out for?

So for me, Amendment 2 is tricky.  I know that it can help others.  That supposedly their will be restrictions and regulations in place to help prevent the use of medical marijuana.   I also know that some people will abuse the system.

I also know that most drivers are responsible, that most people are responsible.  It's those that are not that worry me.  Right now there are only two states that allow for legal recreational use.  However I wonder if there has been an uptick in motorized accidents due to pot in those states.  Or an increase of people driving under the influence.  Again, this data is hard to find.  Common sense would indicate there would be, at least in the beginning.

It has been decriminalized in some other states, and I expect that trend to continue.  It is widely expected that Amendment 2 will pass here in Florida and after that the laws may loosen regarding recreational use.  I'm still not sure if it's a good idea or not.  I don't like the idea of highly regulating the drug, see the part about our corrupt governor above.  Yet I don't care for no regulation, because that worked so well with our vehicle's here in Florida.

What is a happy medium?  That protects the public but allows something that might help thousands, if not millions of people, suffer less from being abused?  How can we, bikers, make sure that we are protected from those that might be under the influence?  It's scary enough out there.  Should Florida enact tougher "driving under the influence" laws?  Currently you lose your licence for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years...yet Florida does not have much in the way of alternative transportation, and you have to get to work somehow.  Suddenly that 1 in every 10 unlicensed number starts to make a little more sense.

I'm ending this here because honestly I'm not sure if I have a point.  I'm not sure how to end this, just like I'm unsure where I stand on my adopted states loosening of the current restrictions on "funny cigarettes."  All I know for sure is that after the first Tuesday in November, I'll be ever more careful on my bike than I am now.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

I turn the key and...

Nothing.

No click, no roaring to life.  I pop the seat and the inner light glows weakly and that indicates only one thing to me.  The battery is dead or dying.

I can't help but wonder if maybe I didn't close the seat enough and accidentally drained the battery.  Do to a lot of different reasons I'm not going to go into I've not ridden my bike since last Saturday. It was a error that I wanted to rectify this weekend.  Luckily for me it appears pretty easy to replace.

To be honest, I was not unhappy about the battery.  After all to the best of my knowledge it was the original battery and it lasted for four or five years if not longer.  If I got that long out of any battery that I bought new;  I would be happy even though I knew that the general life of a motorcycle battery was only two or three years tops.  Besides, another opportunity to grow as a mechanic!  Although my owners manual warned me that only a qualified mechanic should replace the battery.  I'm definitely not that.

First then, to the geeks favorite friend, the internet.  I was wondering about the price, would my mechanic have the battery in stock or would he over charge me for it?  How long would it take for me to receive the battery if I ordered it online?  Was there some video somewhere which would explain the correct procedure?  I have replaced various car batteries over time, this should not be to difficult...right?  There was a little corrosion on the negative terminal.

The tender in use

The Kymco forums didn't really have much for me.  I also considered getting a battery tender.  After all, if I got a rechargeable battery would this not extend the life?  Although it seemed it be a waste of money for me.  My bike generally does not sit.

In the end someone in my park had a tender that they let me borrow.  It slowly but surely charged.  Then VROOM!  Okay it's a scooter so maybe not VROOM! but she did start - so I'm happy.  I rode it briefly around the town to ensure it was working.  I decided to ride it to work later tonight.

But the question still remains.  Do I get a tender or assume that the battery is shot?  In either case for a small investment (about $35 US) I would have a tender.  I might even try to find something that I can place under the seat since I often work at night, and being stuck out in the middle of nowhere at 2 AM does not really appeal to me.  Ah...another farkle.

As always I'll update ya!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bacon powered motorcycle

I believe in alternative fuels and have toyed with the idea of a electric bike.

Somehow this just seems wrong.

One wonders about the MPS - miles per (bacon) strip


Saturday, August 2, 2014

18 months and exploring Plant City

I received an email the other night from the dealership I bought Kimmie off of, according to the email I owned her for 18 months now.  I actually had to go back and do the math, using all my fingers and part of my toes during the process.

In some ways it feels longer than that.  In other ways, shorter.  I started this blog on August 22,2011.  I recently upgraded from a little Yamaha Zuma 125 to a Suzuki Burgman 400.  I made my first post about Kimmie way back on February 2, 2013.

In just under four years I've managed to go down twice, hurting myself pretty badly on the second one.  Travel countless miles, see lots of things that I would have never of seen otherwise, met new and interesting people.  I even got to take a brief cruise to the Bahama's and ride in a foreign country.  All of this opportunity may have been open to me in a car...but you actually need to go.

On the bike...I didn't want to stop for the longest time.  Then it took me a long time to get back on the beast, to put away demons and just fall in love all over again with the idea of riding.

So with that in mind I decided to take a Saturday morning and ride up to Plant City.  This little burg is sort of a Tardis...it's bigger on the inside.  It has a reputation of being a bit backward and agricultural, despite being in the same county as Tampa.  Frankly, it is.  The area surrounding the town is largely flat and the roads straight.  Farmland stretches for miles.

It's been called the Strawberry Capital of the World, a distinction shared by many cities, for a reason and is home to the Florida Strawberry Festival.  The town even has a dedicated fairground just for that event.  The strawberry's are wonderful and the festival is a lot of fun, although it involves mostly country musical acts and traditional country crafts like quilting displays.

The downtown area is like any small city in America, the population is over 34 thousand after all.  What interests me about a place is the odd, the unusual...what gives the place its soul?

To be honest other than strawberries, I'm not sure what gives this town it's soul.  It has a few beautiful homes in the historic district, a train depot and museum and....what?  .

Certainly not Dinosaur World!  I suppose if I was 5 or 6 years old this would be a neat place to be with life size statues of long dead fantastic creatures.    It sits just off the I-4 highway and you can't miss it's big mascot sitting at the gates.


There is also a small winery in town which doubles as a craft brewery.  I've not had the beer but I've tried the wine before.  Frankly I was not impressed but was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and I've always been a hard cider fan as well.  I stopped at their tasting room, only to find it closed.  Considering I was riding on the bike, it was probably for the best.  Perhaps when I'm up this way next.

I just might pass that Franchise opportunity to a friend of mine that sells Chocolates.

All told, it was a good day out, a nice satisfying 75 miles (120.7 KM) where I was not rushing to work or had a particular destination in mind.  I'll take it.




There's a ghost in the glass!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wolf Rider #3 and 4

I posted the first and second of this series here.  Now I thought you might enjoy the third and forth episodes.  I'm not sure how often they are being released but once per week seems about right.

I'm not sure what to think  They are not "HA HA" funny but it's nice to see that Honda has got a good sense of humor and it's done in conjunction with the Onion.  So the production quality is pretty good.  It's also nice to see that they are promoting ATGATT as well.  I'll settle on "cute."



I enjoy the video's because they poke fun at a lot of  "biker culture."  Notice for example how the Sepia tones above for Episode 4 remind you some of Steve McQueen.

I'll be honest...your on your own for episodes # 5 and beyond.  It's called YouTube People!

This is also my last posting for the month of July.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Connecting the dots...

It's Sunday.  Although I should be helping the lovely Susan with one of the remaining delivery jobs we have I found myself sleeping in; and when I woke she was already gone.

So I wondered what I was going to do.  The decided I was going to ride.  Sure there were other things to do, the garden needed to be weeded.  Grass to be cut.  But, for me, the opportunity to ride someplace other than work does not come about very often.

I've let other chances slip through my hands because I am still a little gun shy, I'm still a little "iffy" about things.  Sue has not ridden with me in some time.  I don't think she will again for a long time, both of us knowing the risks all to well.  Sure I was banged up and bruised and the accident was not my fault...still though my pride took the biggest damage.  There were some other issues as well which are more of a personal nature and I will not dwell on here.  Over all my stress level has been through the roof lately.

I've been looking at riding recently as stress relief.  You can't concentrate on the road when the issues of work and family are at the forefront.  I push them down, look ahead and lean into turns.  I look out for cars, animals, road hazards...and those work and family issues fade away.  When I turn the bike off and dismount, those stress seem lessened and even a bit manageable.  I've been feeling the need to reconnect with nature like I did years ago.

How can you not reconnect with that?


I planned my route carefully...I would be revisiting an old hidden path that I knew of, and maybe hitting part of the northern part of the Green Swamp Trail.  I've ridden part of this trail before but have yet to do the entire loop.

Off I went.  I took our new Canon camera with me and was immediately stuck with how many great pictures I could have taken.  An old barn covered with signs.  A old lady in a blue gingham dress feeding an old cow.  A pasture full of mules, cows, ducks and cranes that seemed to shy away from me.   I considered stopping, considered catching these images...but I rode on.  I wanted to concentrate on the ride.

It does bring up a good question...when should one stop for photo's?  But that is for another time.

Into a light rainstorm that got worse I started to carve into the turns of my hidden gem.  I briefly considered hiding under a tree till a crack of lightening changed my mind.  Another fallen tree showed the damages of a lightening strike.  On I rode.

I could have had more points for the Equinox rally!
The rain let up, into the swamp land now...till that road turned to dirt.  I've ridden Kimmie into that before, but not today.  Instead we turned into the Withlacoochee River Park, a 610 acre park that I did not even know existed till now.  Some hiking and exploring  may be required here in the fall.

I returned about 90 minutes later.  I need to conquer that ride, this is the first time I've been back to it since "the incident" back in January.  It was where I was off to when the kaka hit the fan.  The turns on that road are sharp, hidden, parts of the road can flood easily and washout can happen in parts.

 The rains, though brief, were hard at times and made me redouble my efforts to be safe.  I made it there and back again.  It was a little demon but one that tugged at me for a while.  I'm trying to fall in love with riding all over again.  Days like this do help it.