Saturday, February 28, 2015

stir crazy (or a taste of the long winter months)

I only had a few hours of free time this Saturday, Susan and I had tickets to a play and with everything she's gone through lately I wanted to make sure we attended it.  To make matters even more fun, there was a fifty five percent chance of rain today.  So a far ride was out of the question, I had been planning on a ride to nearby Brooksville for a while.  This is a historic town that is only about 45 to 60 minutes away and would make a fine day trip.

My plans for Brooksville would have to wait.  The entire weekend forecast was rain so I moved to plan B.  Ybor City (EE-bor) is a historic part of Tampa.  I had been wanting to explore that area by bike for a while as well.    Again it's only 30 minutes by bike from home.  Again the rain moved in earlier than expected.  My plans would have to wait.

What to do however?  My first and second plans were shot to hell?  I could find something to do right?

Right?  That 55% chance had moved to 100%, and their was no let up in sight.

I reviewed some of my old posts, and updated one or two based on some new information.  I read and reviewed a few of my friends blogs, only to find that many of my fellow bloggers had signed up for the Fuzzy Galore video blog challenge...and although I've been told that I have a voice for radio (and a face to match) I decided not to participate.

I enjoy the actual physical act of writing.  The sound of my fingers pounding down the keys and the joyful noise it makes   Looking into a camera?  Taking the time to edit, to actually think about what I wanted to say before hand?  Nope!  Not this guy!

Well that took up a couple hours...and I'm still bored.  It's still raining.

Do the dishes?  Clean out the closets?  No, here is a really riveting episode of Gilligan's Island I've not seen since 1973...or was it 2014?  Yes, the one where the Skipper finally snaps his little buddies head like a grape to get off the damned island.

I look at the window.  Still raining.  I consider my rain gear and how it keeps me warm and dry only to get a "No." from Susan.  I wonder off again....looking for something to do.

"Can there really be nothing?  Is this what my northern riding friends have to put up with for months at a time?"  I think to myself.

I look at gear on the computer, I try to convince myself that I really don't need a new jacket (but I really, really do!).

Again I look outside, it's the first free weekend I've had in some time.....and I can't do anything I had planned.  Even the housework I had wanted to do, like some painting outside, was put off due to this weather.

I suppose their is always next weekend right?


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rant! (or life is to short to miss out on things)

Sometimes you just don't have a choice.  Sometimes you miss out on events because you learn about them to late, or because of circumstances beyond your control.

Sometimes you know about it...but the same old excuses of  "it will take to long", "it's cold" or "its to far" or "but I have to get up in the morning" prevent you from doing something fun.  From meeting new people or from seeing something interesting.

I've used all those excuses and more, and frankly I'm not happy with myself about it.  I also am embarrassed, thinking of my friends up north who are buried in snow or dealing with sub freezing temperatures.  And here I am whining about 30 degree temps.  I am sorry about that.

What promoted this little rant was I learned about a ride over to St Pete to late.  Now truth be told I had an appointment with my accountant at 10:30 AM and a route that I had to run in the afternoon.  My day would be full....still though, I would have preferred this ride.

I'm not sure when they were planning to finally head to the Taco Bus, but I'm written about that before.  It's a Tampa tradition and used to have the best Mexican food in the city.

In the last two weeks I've not done that much riding, due to all those excuses I've used before.  I'm missing out on these things.  Florida has so much to offer.  I am one hour away from St Petersburg, which was recently named one of the best beaches in America.  I am within 90 minutes from Orlando and all that it offers.

There are so many day trips, so many odd little things to see.  Places that I would love to explore.  At the risk of sounding like a promotional TV commercial...I do live in Paradise and it's easy to forget that when your nose is buried in work.

The initial reason for this blog was to explore what I was feeling and experiencing when I rode.  It sort of grew into a travelogue.  Frankly it's getting harder and harder for me to justify.  Maybe my work/life balance is out of whack.  Maybe I am more than a little frustrated over health issues that directly affect my life.

Maybe, just maybe I'm being a little whiny bitch right now.  All I know is that the only person that can change things is me...and I need to do that.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sometimes the best laid plans....(The unscheduled review of the Freeze out jacket)

I can not speak for my fellow bloggers and how they write but for me it's either one of two ways.  The first way is what I'm doing right now...writing off the top of my head, trying to pay attention to grammar and such but getting out exactly what my impressions are minutes after getting off the bike.
Or, the more traditional way of actually doing some research and then trying to fit my ride around that certain destination.  Generally speaking most of what I write in the first type of article.  Free flowing and relaxed...I blame Jack Kerouac's influence for that.

The second type of writing is where I have a pure destination in mind.  Various reviews, updates, and day trips fall into this category.  I originally had one of two day trips planned.  If I didn't go on one, I would take the other. I already had most of the blog piece written, I would just have to fill in the details.

This little piece of fluff is a combination of the two.  My original plan was to take off early on a Saturday morning and travel north to Brooksville, Fl (about 33 miles away or 53 KM).  It's a pretty well known destination for bikers in Florida since its surround by some lovely rural and twisting roads.  Or I would use my back up plan to visit and explore Ybor (EE-bor) City (about 30 miles or 48 KM  away) if that trip fell through for what ever reason.

Well....it was 31 F (0 C) when I woke up this morning and was slow to warm up.  One thing lead to another and another and another till I finally left the house at 2:45 PM for a ride.  Which got cut short due to a phone call telling me about a family emergency.  I will not go into the details but everyone and everything in fine.

What I will say is that this is the first time I've worn the Freeze Out Jacket I received as a gift over Christmas.  I've been wanting to review the jacket for some time but wanted to take it on a longer ride to fully form an impression of it.  I'll say this.  My first impression is very good.

Taken from the web
It's a tight fit which is good, you want to keep that heat close to you.  I did feel a little bulky with it on but then again, I'm used to throwing on a sweat shirt.

The temperature gauge on my phone stated the high today was only 52 F (11 C) which was not a great test of gear that is supposed to keep you warm in cold weather.  The wind however was blustery and that is the main concern for me.

As I rode one thought kept popping into my mind.

"I'm hot."

I was wearing a pair of jeans, long johns and a long sleeve shirt.  I had the Freeze out gloves on but other than that just my usual riding gear...and I was warm.  Hot even.  Even my hands under my gloves were warm which I can only contribute to my core being warm.

Even though my ride was cut short (total about 40 miles or 64 KM) it was a good ride.  The wind cut across the open plains but the only place I really felt it was around my neck and I could not help but think that if I had a balaclava I would have been happy as a clam.

I know, not much of a review but I was sort of weary of wearing this jacket.  I can take my hooded sweatshirt and wear it into work with no issue.  Fold it under the seat.  Tuck it up around the back and bottom of my neck when I ride home of cool nights.  Or wear the hood under my jacket.  Old habits die hard I guess.

But I'll say this.  This jacket made a believer out of me after a short ride on a cool windy day.  I can't wait to see it handles the cooler temps that are in the near future coming home at night.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

731 days and counting.

Yesterday was mine and Kimmie's two year anniversary

Well it has not always been a smooth and easy relationship.  It has been a rewarding one.    It was a forced marriage but we have learned to tolerate each other quirks.  At our best we are partners, slicing through the curves and harshness of life.

She has been taken care of the best way I know how.  Maybe not pampered but I've given her a new seat, a top box, a new headlight.  In addition to the usual maintenance that one has to do on a bike.  I have no desire to replace her.  Even though we have had some rough patches.

It's surprising to me, how much this little beauty has worked it's way into my heart.  I can't help but wonder if the love I have for her is due to the nature of the bike, the nature of riding or the place I am in my life.

All I know is that I don't want to stop.





Saturday, January 31, 2015

Freeze out gloves review - part two of two thing

The lovely Susan actually bought me the Freeze out gloves and jacket all the way in December of last year.  If you been reading the blog with any regularity then you have an idea of why I've not written a review of them till now.

It only makes sense that one of the worst winter storms in years would push cold air into the south and Florida has "suffered" from lower than normal temperatures over the last few days.  The lows were like a fall day growing up in Pennsylvania, for example last night my phone stated it was a balmy 40 F (4.4 C).  I have to admit that I always feel silly talking about "cold weather gear" when I am riding in what is actually Autumn type weather for the rest of the North American riding public.

I suppose however it is all relative.  Humidity affects us in a lot of ways, the higher the humidity the worse it seems.  For example, as I type this the outdoor temperature is 46 F (8 C), but the humidity is 100%.  That just makes it that much harder to regulate our body temperatures.  So proper preparation is needed and I have spoken about the effects of wind chill before.  Still though riding at 10 PM is different than riding home at 2 AM.  One day on the Burgie the temperature hit 32 F (0 C).

Truth be told all I have really have not used the jacket yet (get ready for part 3 of 2), mostly because I like to wear a hooded sweatshirt so I can either tuck the hood around my neck, or wear it under my helmet so if it rains therefore protecting the back of my neck.  Plus I would rather test it during daylight hours.

Photo by cyclegear.com
Here's the good news.  The Freeze Out gloves help.  That being said I think if I wore the gloves under a heavier glove or perhaps under a gauntlet style glove they would have worked better.  My hands were cool, but not chilled.  There have been nights in the past where my hands were ice cold.

They are designed to be windproof  therefore trapping a thin layer of air between the skin and the outside of the glove.  In theory, your natural temperature should heat up the trapped air and make your hands feel warmer.  The Fox gloves that I currently use are not the best for my experiment as they let air flow through them.  

So again if I used them with my heavier "hunter style" gloves or a gauntlet style glove I think I would have had better results.  The question is however:  "Would I recommend them?"

Yes.  Yes, I would.  However there are a few things I think I should mention.

One:  The gloves fit pretty tight for a few days and they eventually stretched out a bit.  However the stitching on the side of the glove should be reinforced a bit.  It did not rip, but I've come across a few reviews where it did.  So it may eventually.

Two:  The overall feel of the glove is good.  It may take a few minutes or days to adjust to the feel of the switches and such depending on the individual.

Finally an update.  Things should be getting back to some level of Normal within a week or so.  I already have two day trips planned and should be getting back to exploring on the bike more regularly soon.  Susan is feeling better and getting stronger after her bouts at the hospital two plus weeks ago.  Many thanks to those that inquired after her.

Be well and ride safe.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pursuing your bliss

I've been giving a lot of thought lately about THE FUTURE!

The lovely Susan is out of the hospital, beaten up but still the plucky lovely woman I fell in love with all those years ago.  Her daughter will be in town for a few weeks to take care of her while I'm required to be at work. So even though my mind is temporary at ease, it still churns with uncertainty.  I don't care for uncertainty.

I thought about these things after a long and frustrating day at work,  where on paper at least the day appeared to be a good one, but underneath it was crap-tastic.  The ride home, on familiar roads nearly empty of traffic on a warmer than normal night, should have eased a troubled mind but did little to help.  A nice glass of white wine and early to bed should have helped but did not.

A lot of these issues that plague my mind are dealing with retirement (20 - 25 years away EEK!), insurance (I'm exposed) and job related (it's a good job but certainly not what I expected to be doing at this time in my life).

I need a break.  I need to pursue what makes me happy for a bit.  I thought about some of my fellow bloggers adventures and trials as I rode.  Including the Bobscoot projectMotorcycle Philosophy, the Rounders forum and other sites.  Writing makes me happy.

Slowly but surely a nebulous idea started to form in the back of my mind the other night.  In a few days I hope to be contacting many of my fellow bloggers and riders about this idea.  Looking for input and data.  Maybe even a contribution or two...of the non monetary kind.
a postcard of a simpler time.

I'm curious to know what makes us tick.  Those of us the ride all year round, or have given up their cars to fully accept the two wheeled way of life.  Why some of us have given up the comfort of our cars to be cold, wet, hot, sunburned, windburned...and why that makes us happy.

For a brief moment in time my bike was my primary means of transport, in addition to saving some cold hard cash, it was an interesting experience.  Of course, living in Florida, riding year round is a rather easy affair.

I am curious to learn about those where riding year round is not an easy choice.  

Of course, nothing may come of this, the project may never get off the ground...but it should be fun to see if it does.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fort King Road (being thankful)

**EDIT**  Please see the bottom half.

I had forgotten this road.

  Like many roads in Florida it is straight, unlike many roads in Florida this one cuts through hilly terrain.  It's not very high, it's peak is only 254 feet above see level making it one of the highest points in Florida.
From the E2E rally 2014

Over the last few days I've been driving this road, running between my home in Zephyrhills to the hospital in Dade City. It's a short run, only 11 miles (17.7 KM) but it feels good to look off to the side and see farmland stretched before me, or two horses galloping about.  A lone plant with golden flowers growing in a otherwise empty field.

I love how I crest a hill and look out over acres of land, how old to realize that yes; your looking at acres of land when you only a few hundred feet above the plains.

I wish I had a camera, other than my phone's, and I vow that in the coming months that is going to be my goal.  To stop and take more pictures of what catches my eye.  To capture moments before they flutter away.

Statue in Plant City.
Since the new year it's been an odd time in the Wilson home, while we are financially stronger then we have been in a long time, what really matters - our health - is low.  Those that I love are frankly not doing very well, I know I still have a cough from the flu I had in December that will not quit. It seems to be aggravated when I ride.

So for now I will be thankful for those moments, those little joyful moments of cows bellowing, of horses leaning on fences and playful light off of the many lakes in Florida.

**EDIT**  I was originally not going into the reason into the trip to the hospital, but since the lovely Susan posted about it on her Facebook page: I feel I can mention it here.  Susan has a variety of medical issues including but not limited to high blood pressure and diabetes (type 2).  Recently we learned that her knee would have to be replaced and she was placed on another medication.  Long story short the meds interacted in such a way as to have her collapse in our driveway.  She ended up in the hospital and was there till Wednesday morning.

I did not ride the bike back and forth but took the car due to a persistent cough.