Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stress and Destinations

Last Sunday I did something I've not done in some time.  I went out for Indian food.  I also rode Kimmie about with no destination in mind, and I absolutely loved it.

Why add undo stress?
So much so that in the week that followed I rode Kimmie to work on three different occasions (the other two days were rained filled) and the joy was just not there.  Which got me thinking about traffic and how it affects my mindset.

I thought about this a bit last night as I slogged through traffic in the dark, on the very same roads that I actually used to enjoy riding last year at this time.  Of course, back then it was 1 or 2 in the morning; traffic was light or non existent and I was more concerned about a rogue deer more than anything.   Now I'm coming home at 6:30 or 7 PM and although the traffic is not stop and go, it is heavier than I would like.   I have to think about passing someone safely, about keeping in the headlights of one car (to stay as visible as possible to as many people I can) yet out of the blindspot of another.  I'm worried if that car coming up behind me is looking at his phone or fiddling about with the radio and not paying attention, I'm just adding stress to an already stressful situation.

Working a stressful, but lucrative job doesn't help.

Last Sunday I had no stress, no destination.  I was riding to ride.  To be free and I know my fellow bikers will understand what I mean.  I'm beginning to understand why some bikers only take their rides out on the weekends.

An old photo but one of my favorites
Plus, in all honestly, I have nowhere to stow my gear at work, it's easier for me to wear dress shoes rather than riding boots, or not have to put on my jacket; with its bright yellow colors, on the back of my chair.   I've been teased about directing traffic at work...all in the name of ATGATT.

I do love riding though and have found motorcycling to be a unique "in" when working with clients.  I've spent hours talking to a company located in Sturgis, South Dakota about the insanity that is Sturgis.  And how after the rally it's just a dull, quiet little town.  It's given my company and theirs a connection we would not otherwise have, and a nice bonus check for me when they signed up for our services.

I've found that I'm happiest when I'm with a group riding to a destination I don't know or may have never otherwise been.  As I look back I've found I'm been happy when I'm alone, taking a road going somewhere....anywhere really.   Maybe that's the secret for getting back on the bike and riding more.

Don't have a plan.

I look at the plans for this weekend.  A Christmas bazaar that somehow I got recruited to work, and I don't remember anyone asking me to actually work it.  How Sue and I want to go visit a nearby RV dealership for a half formed nebulous idea that is in the back of our heads.   Research I'll call it.

It's supposedly going to rain this weekend and even though I've ridden in the rain, ever since my accident I've been weary of "less than ideal" riding conditions.    I used to enjoy that too, and I hate being wet.  I liked the challenge of it.  The cool air, the fresh smell...I supposed that will come in time too.

For now...I'll try to put the stress aside.  Susan's condition is improving, my job (while stressful) is secure and the company really came to my aid in October when all this shit started with Susan's health.  We're going to beat it.

She encourages me to ride, to get out and see the world.  How can you not love a woman who thinks of  her long time boyfriend first?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Been gone

...but I'm back now.   Sadly it's a working weekend for me, once I actually get my ass off this chair.

Several weeks ago I decided to add a separate blog to the stable.  This one dealing with more regular life, politics, sports and whatever the hell I felt like putting out into the void of the internet.

You can find that blog; which I'm calling The Confused Ramblings of a Diseased Mind here.

Take it for what its worth.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Why don't I want to ride more?

This past weekend was lovely.  It was warm and sunny with a near zero chance of rain, the humidity; always a killer here in Florida, was manageable.

It's Monday morning as I write this.  The day is going to be warm, a tad humid but again something manageable.  There is a slight chance of rain (15%) around 2 PM but I'll be at work then.  Nice and safe in my office and Kimmie will be tucked into her safe parking spot that is reserved for motorcycles only.  Protected by an old oak tree with leaves as big as my open hand.

Sounds like a perfect day to ride in.

Only I don't want to.

In fact, I've toyed with the idea of selling her.

I started this blog way back on August 23rd, 2011.  I'm come a long way in that five years.  I've put on a lot of miles and have undergone two nasty accidents.  I've almost been hit, I've almost gone down when a animal committed suicide under my tires.  I've avoid a deer so close that I could have reached out and touched it.

I've also seen wonders.  Gone down country roads with a song in my heart.  I've watched sunsets and sun rises through my visor.  I've stretched out my arms on my bike and went "WHOSH" like a little child.  I've felt like a little child.  I've made new friends via riding.

So why don't I want to ride?

I used to put ten, twelve thousand miles on my bike per year.  Due to circumstances the last two years my time in the saddle has been a lot lower than that.   Lack of riding?  Could that be the cause of my apathy?  I know that most of the riding I do is simple commuting, and that doing it by car allows me to enjoy my morning Duncan Donuts and coffee while listening to NPR.  Something that is impossible on my Kimmie.

As we near the end of 2015 I look back and think about all the time lost due to Sue's ongoing medical issues...she is the primary motivator in my life and frankly I'm not sure what I would do without her.  She does and always will come first.

Thankfully things seem to be looking up on that front.  Also for most of 2014 and 2015 I've been chasing mechanical issues as many long time readers know.

So many that I've played with the idea of getting a new bike.  Still though....would I ride if I did?  Besides, now is not the time for a new bike.  Sue's health concerns come first.  Plus, I've about 3 more years to go and I'll be in a much better spot financially (both cars will be paid off in full) and then I can play with the idea of taking on new debt.

In a few minutes I'll be going to work.  I will be riding Kimmie.  I know that the highway is out of the question today as there was a nasty accident that has traffic backed up for miles.  I know that I have to leave a little earlier than usual.  I know that I will crave my Duncan Donuts coffee.  I think, feel, that if I'm going to recapture that magic that I once felt I need to get back on the bike.

I need to ride more again.  I also know that I have a long ride planned for Saturday, so we will see how that goes.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Clearwater Beach Chalk Festival.

Sue and I got some good news last week and we managed to get over to Clearwater Beach where they were holding the last day of their Chalk Festival.

I thought I share a few pics here, for additional pics be sure to check my Facebook album here.  I didn't ride Kimmie over since Sue was with me, but it was still a good time and I tried Stone Crab for the first time (I was not impressed).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Of course...

So how exactly did I allow this to happen?

Kimmie is slipping out from under me.  I can feel it.  I know now that I entered the turn a little fast and I'm leaning hard to get her to make the turn.  It's raining too, one of Florida's famous and brief pop up showers but it's enough to make the road a little slick.  My rain gear, of course, is at home.

Of course I had to stay late and choose to be adventurous, taking a road that I don't really know full of turns, deer and darkness.

I didn't go down.

I'm upright and in control.   I thanked a God I'm now sure exists.  Somehow...I did everything right.  I slow down to a much more manageable speed, I don't need to go through that again.

Of course, the second I slow down I've some asshole who's insisting on tailgating me.  Of course his bright lights are on.  I'm not in the mood for this crap and when he passes me, on the double yellow, I've a few choice words for him.  

I just want to get home.

I have to remind myself not to have a death grip on the handlebars.  I have to remind myself not to get fixated on any particular target.  All that training from a beginner's motorcycle class long ago starts to fill my head.  For the first time in a long time I'm miserable on the bike.

A family of small deer wander out into the road and I apply the brakes quickly, they look at me with alien eyes and move back into the woods.  I move on.

A few minutes later I come across the remains of a deer in the middle of the road and don't have a choice but to enter the other lane to avoid it.  The car behind me hits the carcass with a crunch and the slamming of brakes.

I just want to get home.  Kimmie can get me home.

I'm the only vehicle on this road now.  It's rural and there seems to be no moon or homes about.  The trees that would look like a leafy tunnel in the day now take on a more sinister view, as the branches becoming skinny arms meant to snatch the loan weary traveler.

Finally I'm near home, back on the streets I know.  I start to relax, and quickly fall into muscle memory as I lean and move around the turns that I have ridden 1001 times before.

Of course, a possum or some other strange nocturnal animal decides to commit suicide by running in front of my bike.  I, of course, hit it.

Somehow I stayed up.   Somehow Kimmie saved me.

Somehow Kimmie gets me home.

I go have a drink...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Back to the basics (feelings)

It's been a few weeks since I've written anything.  Sue is in a odd limbo of half treatment as the doctors decided the best course of treatment for her.

I ride back and forth to work when I can and now that the humidity has broken I find myself riding more.  Just the other day I left for work in the morning shortly after 8:30 and thought to myself that I would soon be breaking out the light sweater to wear under by summer riding jacket.  Then I realized how much my blood had thinned in the last few years.   The temperature was 75 F (23 C).  

In a odd sort of way I've found riding lets me turn off the 1001 or so thoughts that bounce around my head currently.  "What if Sue's treatment does not work?"  "What if the worst does happen?"  These are not the thoughts I thought I would be having at the age of 49.  Riding, at least for a short time, shuts those thoughts down as it becomes just the road and myself.

They creep in....but I force them down.  Part of winning is to stay positive.  We need to stay positive.

"I need to work on my curves." I think as I ride home on day, it's the same road I've ridden a thousand times before but I make a couple of bad turns on it.  Nothing serious, nothing that I can not recover from but more of a nagging suspicion "I'm better than this."

Like anything in life you want to get back to the basics, practice the fundamentals and fine tune the process.  Muscle memory is a great and wonderful thing but if you're remembering the wrong things, if you're doing just the slightest thing wrong on the most basic of affects everything thereafter.  I'm far from a perfectionist but I know how much going down hurts.

I also know that if I go down again...I'm done.   I'm not done with Kimmy yet.

So it's a lovely Saturday morning, I've got nothing planned for the day.  I gear up the way I always do; my ritual of ATTGATT.  I want a challenge and consider my secret place but then decide on the Green Swamp.   It's been a long time since I've ridden those roads and I'm curious to see if anything has changed.

My only concern is cracking in the front tire, but I shake off that concern.  The tread is good and although I need to replace it eventually, I did not see any air bubble the last time I washed my bike.  I'm also a little concerned about the CVT belt, Kimmie has over 25 thousand on her now and I'm not sure how much more belt life she has left.  But I force those concerns aside and stay positive.

I sit down on the bike...and it doesn't feel right.  I've a nagging suspension, a question in the back on my mind.  Again I check the tires, the brakes and run through the list...yet I can't shake that feeling.

If riding has taught me's to listen.

I ride the bike out and about town for a bit, taking it easy.   Trying to put that unease into the back of my mind or find a rational feeling for it.   I can't.

So here I am at home going over everything with a fine tooth comb and thinking that maybe I should get that tire replaced after all because of this odd feeling.  So there is no riding, no travel, no adventure for me this day.

Perhaps tomorrow.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bruce Rossmeyer's - a legend in Daytona

Ormand Beach, Florida at moonrise

Things have been a little hectic at Casa de Wilson.  Susan wants to keep things as normal as possible and I can understand why.

I've not gone riding in over a week, week and a half maybe.  The last long trip I took I knew I was low on air, and filled it up before the trip.  Then I rode to work and felt what could only be called a "wobble."  It may have been my imagination but no riding till I had the chance to look at it.  That finally came this weekend.  I was three pounds in pressure under the recommended air pressure.  I rode a bit afterward and guess wobble.  So it may have been my imagination but I still feel a new front tire is in my near future.

It's not that tacky.
Susan saw something about a Hawaiian shirt with Motorcycles on it.   I have a weakness for Hawaiian shirts, it's sort of "my brand" and started as a inside joke when I first moved to Florida.  I was told they were part of the dress code here and the rest they say is history.

So when the opportunity came to visit some of her family who had just moved into the Daytona Beach area, off we went.  Our destination was the famed Bruce Rossmeyer's Harley Davidson Dealership.

Frankly neither of us realized exactly how big this place really was.  It's a two story building with new and used bikes for sale.  Clothing and biker accessories, a tattoo parlor, a hotel, two restaurants and a cafe in the service bay.  I'm not forgetting the ice cream parlor, leather store, bike insurance kiosk, etc. In other words, if you're coming for Daytona Bike Week this is the destination.

The marketer in me has to admire their marketing strategy, and even though we did not pick up a Hawaiian shirt for myself (the cheapest was $60 and I'm a cheap bastard).  Harley does make some lovely bikes and I was impressed by more than a few.  I finally saw the 750 up close and I have to admit it's not that bad looking of a bike.

However I'm not wanting a bike because of the name.  If I did I would have bought the the BMW scooters when they first came out.   No, the next bike I buy will be well thought out and it maybe another Kymco honestly.

Harley is an American icon however, and Rossmeyer's is full of art, classic models and the history of bikes.  I actually wish I had a little more time, I would have loved to spent some more time wondering about and seeing what I could see.

Of course, by the end of that day I would have talked myself into something.  But we got away with a cute little shirt for my niece at a fair price.  I'm happy with that.

Yep, cows.  

Some of the Harley Davidson art work on Display

Only 14,513 miles on the Odometer, while it is a 51 Harley after all.