Yesterday I couldn’t shut up and today have next to nothing to say.

Jerry said all motorcycle riders should join the AMA. No not the doctor AMA, nor the marketing AMA, but the American Motorcyclist Association.

I’m not joining today but probably will in the near future. They do have a great website with lots of good real content.

I don’t know about y’all but I have some fantasies based horrible what ifs. One of them is what would I do if my whole family was killed and I was on my own again. Well life would be a whole lot less worth living and I don’t think the daily grind would be worth it. I used to fantasize I would sell the house and just drive around the country in my car. Maybe blogging, writing and camping a lot. Yesterday I was riding my bicycle and indulging myself in this fantasy and it had changed. Now I’d be riding the open road on a motorcycle. I sell all my stuff and buy a touring bike and travel the country. With a laptop I could write and with a camera I could take pictures, so hopefully I could make enough money to support my simple life style.

One of the things that came up in this session of fantasy was where would I put the stuff I needed? How much stuff could I carry? Well I didn’t really have the information to answer those questions, but there is a good article on carrying stuff on your motorcycle on the AMA website about it.

One thing occurs to me….when would I stop this lifestyle? Probably when I fell in love again.

Rider’s Edge Sunday

Sunday started in the middle of the night when tropical storm Grace crossed the Texas coast and rain started hitting my roof. I woke up in the middle of the night and I knew it was raining. I’d been exhausted Saturday and had gone to bed around 8 PM. When I came fully awake around 4:30 AM I knew it had been raining all night and I figured it would be raining into the day.

Got out of bed around 5:30 and was on the rainy road to class by 6. I felt a little apprehensive about driving in this, though it really wasn’t too bad. Arrived a little before 7. There were no bikes out and everyone was gathered around waiting. The dealership was closed on Sunday for Labor Day and the alarm had been set to holiday, which meant only the owners could get in. So the instructors had to call one of the owners, who said they’d be down but it would take half an hour. A group of us went to Krispy Kream and returned around 8.

We did the “advanced” stuff in the rain. It was a Seattle rain and not a Texas rain. In Seattle you can stand outside in the rain for hours and not get wet, normally in Texas you are soaked to the bone in under a minute. Never really noticed a problem with slickness on the range. One of the instructors said the brushed concrete of the range has more traction wet than asphalt does dry. They sometimes worried it gave you a false sense of security.

So in the end the rain mostly effected your ability to see. My glasses would get rain on them and I’d wait till right before I was to go and wipe them off.

Most of the advanced stuff was really slow. It was how to make tight turns without putting your foot down. The box. I hated the box. You have to make two consecutive U-turns in a space the width of two parking places.

Other things we learned; swerving, which was fun, and quick stopping which I did well.

I almost failed the final riding test. I screwed up the box, did the swerving fine, make my quick stop really well. But the last test is a curve test. You start up, accelerate to get into second, do a curve, then you are to speed up in a strait-away brake with both brakes before another curve. I got flustered and forgot the breaking part. So I hit the curve way too fast. One thing are never suppose to do is brake in a turn. The instructor said he was proud of me because he saw me reach for the brake and thought they were about to see their first real crash. But I didn’t brake. Didn’t make the curve either. 40% of motorcycle crashes happen in curves, so it is a big part of the test and I blew it completely.

But I passed so I could get my license.

A final update on the cast of characters. Two people didn’t finish the class. Obnoxious Guy Mike never showed on Sunday, and Marsha left in the middle of Sunday. She was having problems and apparently decided to quit. It was one of those things where we stood around while her and Jerry talked, knowing what they were talking about and acting like it wasn’t happening. Then when she left we all let her go in an embarrassed silence.

Another thing about the people in the class, the youngest were in their late twenties and the oldest were in their 50s. No young people. Don’t know what that says.

Now I want a bike more than ever, but I also know I need a lot of practice. I can’t imagine guys who one day decide they want a sport bike to look cool, go out and buy a $20,000 bike and go to DPS, get their license and hit the road. Of course I’m not sure how they would even pass the driving test, especially if it was as difficult as our final was. Don’t think it is.

This whole motorcycle license story isn’t finished. I still had to go get my license at the DPS, which is a story too.

Written while listening to “The Animal Song”
album Affirmation
by Savage Garden
Written while listening to “Rhythm of the Night”
album Moulin Rouge Soundtrack
by Valeria
Written while listening to “Bawitdaba”
album Devil Without A Cause
by Kid Rock
Written while listening to “Pleasure”
album Bad Bad One
by Meredith Brooks
Written while listening to “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”
album Van Halen Best Of Vol. 1
by Van Halen
Written while listening to “You’re Still The One”
album Come On Over
by Shania Twain
Written while listening to “Where Life Begins”
album Erotica
by Madonna

Rider’s Edge Saturday

Saturday and Sunday we spent a lot of time on the range. The Range is a huge concrete area out behind the dealership with various multi-colored lines on it. We arrived not so bright and oh so early a little before 7 AM. Haven’t seen the sunrise in years. Looks a lot like the sunset so it isn’t worth getting up for. But learning to ride a motorcycle is.

During the riding course we rode Buell Blasts. Overall the riding part was both nerve racking and fun. You start out very slow and build up with each exercise. The first thing you learn to do is properly mount the motorcycle. This entails getting to the left of the cycle, reaching across to the right handle bar and squeezing the brake. Then you throw a leg over and pull the motorcycle up off its side stand. You should also consider putting up the side stand part of mounting it.

To start the motorcycle you use FINE-C. Turn the Fuel switch to the on position. Most motorcycles have a switch/valve under the fuel tank that regulates the flow of gas to the carburetor. I’m not sure if fuel injected motorcycles have one or not. The valve has three positions: On Off and Reserve. The idea is you put it in the off position when it is not running so that if the carburetor gets stuck open the gas won’t just pour through it and onto the pavement. When you want to start the motorcycle you turn it to the On position. Then you do your riding. At some point the engine starts going chug-a-chug-a because your tank is almost empty. At this point you reach down and flip the valve 180 degrees to the reserve position and get more gas and start looking for a gas station. Make sure you set it back to the On position after you fuel up or you won’t have any reserve next time.

Next you turn the Ignition on.This feeds power from the battery. It turns on the light and you need to make sure you don’t leave it on because motorcycle batteries don’t have a lot of juice to waste.

Next you put the bike into Neutral. You test this by letting off the clutch and rolling the bike backward and forward. If it rolls you are in neutral.

Now you turn the Engine Shut-off switch on. There’s a switch on the right handle bar that turns the engine off and won’t let it start. Its how you turn the engine off when you start. So now you need to turn it back to the on position.

C is for clutch though they tell you it is for clutch/choke. Our Blasts had an automatic choke so it didn’t matter. So now you squeeze the clutch. At this point you can press the starter switch and feel the bike start up. Now you slowly let off on the clutch and if the bike doesn’t try to take off you know you are in Neutral. We signal this by raising our left hands.

While this is good review I’m not going to go through the whole course. We learned a lot of basic stuff on the first day and it gradually got hotter and hotter. First thing we learned to do was Power walk which is when you let off the clutch just enough to get the bike to go forward and walk it where you want to go with you feet. Straddle walk is where you put it in neutral and just push it forward. Easy enough to do with a Blast, but would be much harder with a 1000 lb Harley Davidson. Power walking is also the first steps to driving, because when you are starting to go you easy off the clutch to make it start moving, walking a few steps as you give more power via the clutch until you are going and raise your feet up.

You learn a lot of power regulation on a motorcycle is from the clutch and not the throttle. Especially at lower speeds. I had a lot of trouble regulating the throttle while doing things like turning. That’s really were I need the most practice.

The most fun I had was an exercise where we just rode in a big oval. This was to practice leaning through turns and it was fun. Only half the class did it at a time and that meant there was more spacing and we could go faster. The next exercise after that was for shifting and we were suppose to get to third in the straits and shift down to second in the turns. But since we all did it at the same time you ended up going at the speed of the slowest member of the class, which was too slow to really be in third. I still shifted on cue because I wanted the practice, but it wasn’t as fun as it could be.

I have to say the women in the class were the slowest. Of course I was probably too fast in a number of places. OK I was too fast on Sunday and it caused me to almost fail the class.

We spent the afternoon in the class room and everyone was really tired, the sun having drained it all out of us. I wore a t-shirt and then put on a denim long sleeve shirt and winter gloves. I was hot. After class that evening I went to Academy and bought a long sleeve runners shirt and went to another motorcycle place a bought some light weight motorcycle gloves. When the bike is moving even in my denim it wasn’t that hot, but we spent a lot of time standing still. So dress light.

On the cast of characters, I learned Angus didn’t need the classification of obnoxious. He turned out to be a really nice guy. Mike deserved it to the end. He didn’t come back after lunch and was suppose to come back on Sunday even though Jerry didn’t want him too, but he didn’t in the end. I bet he just decided he didn’t need this class. But he also wasn’t the best rider in the class. Really needed to work on his braking.

All that preparation for heat on Sunday turned out to be wasted because we had a new member of our class Sunday morning, Grace….. Stay tuned.

Rider’s Edge #2

Written Saturday morning at 5:30 AM.

Its dark and I just woke up. Willingly. Normally I have to drag myself out of bed at 8 AM in the morning. Today I woke up at 5 AM an knew there was no going back to sleep. Guess I’m excited.

Last night we covered protective gear and motorcycle controls. Protective gear study included going to the Harley store and looking at gear. You were to try on different parts and write down your size. I need a large in jacket, an extra large in gloves, and probably a extra large in helmet. They didn’t have any extra large full faced helmets sitting out so I’m not sure. They really didn’t have that great of selection in anything but jackets. I tried on a couple of jackets and found I like the synthetics better than the leather. I tried on a Joe Rocket jacket that was mainly padding and very light weight and didn’t feel all that protected. I like a jacket that is somewhat thick all over and has extra padding/armor.

We went over the controls of a motorcycle. I head knowledge already knew them so it wasn’t that new. I did learn about the fuel switch that lets you turn off the supply of gas to the engine and also controls a reserve amount of fuel in the tank.

Jerry told us when you want to turn left you push left. So you are actually steering right. Seemed wrong and I just didn’t understand it. So he made me sit on the motorcycle and try it. The most important piece of information you need is that all turning by motorcycles is accomplished by leaning. One you understand that you can feel that in fact turning the wheel right leans the bike left. It still feels a little wrong, but he says that the way you’ve been doing it on a bike for years. Its one of those things you aren’t confused about till someone explains what you are doing to you.

Well I better get going. Don’t want to be late.

Rider’s Edge Night #1

Last night was the first night of the Rider’s Edge course I’m taking at Mancuso Harley Davidson.

First off I was late. I hate being late. It’s the kind of thing – the hating of it – they attribute to your zodiac sign. I’m a Capricorn and I don’t know if they are suppose to hate being late, but I was and do. I left work early to make the trip, but it was stop and go for most of the way and then I decided I needed to get some food. Went through a drive through and was late. Did I mention I hate being late? And then when I showed up I’m carrying my food – they said it was OK to bring food – and no one else was. I eventually ate during a video.

On to the class. The first thing in the class was Harley Propaganda. When I got there the class was circled around a Harley salesman who was showing them the parts of a motorcycle, of course it was a Harley. This was part of the tour of the facilities. Next we walked through the garage. Its the largest Harly repair facility in the tri-state area. (What are the tri-states when Texas is one of them?) The amazing thing to me was just how clean everything was. When you go to a car repair shop things are dirty. Here everything was spotless.

In the back of the garage were the Buell Blasts we are going to be riding. The mirrors and signal lights have been taken off so when it falls over they won’t be broken off. The sales guy has a couple of people sit on them. I wasn’t one of them because my hands were full and I didn’t want to, but they sure seemed low.

Next we went to the conference room and actually started the class. They divided us into pairs and each of us had to introduce the other. There were a series of questions you had to ask. My partner is Stephanie, a single mom with a 3 year old. She, like me, has no experience with motorcycles. We had to tell our concerns about the course and hers was that she would orphan her child. We also had to tell what kind of bike we had/wanted. Stephanie wants a Bonneville, which I had never heard of. As you know I want a sport bike. I’m the only one in the group that does.

Let me give you some of the cast of characters in the class. There are 8 of us. 2 women, 6 guys. The instructor is Jerry Sun, whose been riding forever and taught over 1300 students. There’s another instructor who will show up on Saturday and Sunday for the road course. I’ve already introduced Stephanie. The other woman is a redhead named Marsha and a self-proclaimed “bitch”. This means she rides on the back of a Harley and wants to learn to ride. Her partner is the The Obnoxious Guy Mike. He’s done motorcross and just got a V-rod, his first street bike. He’s having it shipped to England and will be touring with a buddy there.

For some reason Obnoxious Guy Mike decided he needs to needle Marsha. Which annoyed me. He’s a skinny red skinned guy and she’s a rotund redhead with a voice made for radio. And after a couple of jabs from Obnoxious Guy Mike it was obvious Marsha wasn’t the kind of woman who was going to take and give like a man. Obnoxious Guy Mike kind of figured this out, but couldn’t keep up saying backhandedly nice things. And unfortunately for Marsha this guy is her partner.

Obnoxious Guy Mike’s antics encouraged our other Obnoxious Guy Angus to needle Marsha as well. Now Angus looks almost middle eastern. But he’s spitting into a cup, which marks him as a good old boy, and his last name is Davis. Obnoxious Guy Angus is also a talker. He asked most of the questions and would interrupt any time he felt like it. His partner is Rikus The European. Rikus is from Norway. His English is excellent. He said the rider training in Europe is much less compressed. Instead of 4 days it would be 45 minutes 1 time a week for 10 weeks.

The last two guys are Kevin and, I think, Steve. Steve rode for a number of years and was hit by a drunk driver in the early nineties and hasn’t ridden since. He’s taking the course to get his confidence back. Don’t remember much about Kevin.

The core of the class is out of the MSF Rider’s Handbook. We made it through the first section which is on risk assessment. It was interesting.

This is getting long, so I’m going to just add some highlights.

They changed the course times. Now I have to be there are 7 AM instead of 8 on Saturday and Sunday. We should be done on the course by noon. Jerry said they made the class earlier because of the heat on the course. Apparently riding a motorcycle in long pants and long sleeves on white concrete in the Houston sun is really hot.

Go figure.

There won’t be class on Monday. Class also ended a little after 8 instead of nine, which was nice considering how far I had to go to get home.

While at a Harley dealer our instructor rides a Gold Wing. His longest ride was 9600 miles. His day rides are normally around 600 miles. His wife has taught the class with him before.

Met the owner of the dealership, Joe Mancuso. Seemed like a really nice guy. Must be in his 50s but he still drag races motorcycles. He was much more up front about his Propaganda. “If you don’t have a motorcycle please let us here have a chance to sell you one. It helps keep me in my nitro habit.”

Going to leave earlier tonight so I’m on time. We’re doing the “shopping trip”, which means we are going to try on helmets and gloves, which should be fun.

Cool site of the day

Ray sent me an email turning me on to the discussion of Motorcycles and Laptops on Macintouch. But I haven’t made it through the first response because I’ve been checking out the guys website, the downward spiral. There are a lot of cool motorcycle related stuff. He rides a Ducati and his wife/SO rides a Honda. At least that’s what I think based on the pictures.

Proficient Motorcycling

Getting some things done this morning I spent a little time at Barnes and Nobel and found this book called Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough. It is a very good book on being a better motorcycle rider. He also gives lots of statistics on motorcycle accidents. Apparently there was a study done in the early eighties called the Hurt Report. He uses that information in the book to give an honest appraisal of the risks involved.

Here’s a link to an article asking for a new comprehensive study on motorcycling.

UPDATE: Found this “The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Crash” article on a government website. It was referred by an article saying highway fatalities ( not just motorcycles ) are up.

Written while listening to “Rebuttal”
album Project 86
by Project 86
Written while listening to “Fe”
album Bueninvento
by Julieta Venegas
Written while listening to “Bawitdaba”
album Devil Without A Cause
by Kid Rock

Biker babes

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not going to be selling my car and buying a motorcycle. I’m still going to take the class — have to its already paid for — but the ultimate thing was looking forward in time. If I sell my car and buy a motorcycle, in a year I’ll have no car payment and no car. If I don’t get a motorcycle, in a year I will have no car payment and a car. So in a year it is moot. The only thing I gain is not having a car payment for a few months.

But that aside I still want a motorcycle. They are just cool. I’ve decided I want a sport bike instead of a cruiser and I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to the Suzuki SV650S, which isn’t a true sport bike, but a “combo” bike. So it is suppose to be more comfortable to ride. Everyone who reviewed it on Epinions loved it. I probably prefer it had full faring, but it still looks cool and you can add that later.

While looking for more pictures of the SV650 I found which has a ton of pictures sent in by regular users. That’s where I got the picture at the left. That’s not the SV650, but the RGSX, which is way too much bike for me.

Written while listening to “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)”
album Beautiful Garbage
by Garbage for some reason my favorite Garbage song.
Written while listening to “American Bad Ass”
album American Bad Ass (CD Single)
by Kid Rock
Written while listening to “Question Everything”
album In Moderation
by 8 Stops 7