Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moto Photos

I've been wanting a portrait of  my bike and me for quite some time.  My wife has been into photography for a couple of years and I've been bugging her to take a photos of my bike for a while.  She finally found a place to take the photos and we finally found the time to load up her equipment and give it a try.  We were inspired by two different moto portraits; this one of B.B. King by Tim White and this one by Zack Arias.  For those of you that are photography buffs you know that these are some pretty big shoes to fill.  I think she did a great job and am very pleased with the results.  There were two images that we both liked but I can't decide which one I like better.  One I think looks more like me, and the other is a more interesting photo. Instead of thinking too hard I just posted them both. 

Monday, November 8, 2010


I was recently on the receiving end of a snide comment from a fellow rider.  The gist of it was "yeah but it's not a real Harley".  My response was " Why?   because it doesn't weigh the same as a small car?".    One of the guys I used to ride with called it a "girls bike".  The same fellow also said that if I let him ride it he would tear up the streets.  I guess because his Heritage Classic wasn't much good at tearing up the streets, and it definitely wasn't worth crap going around corners. (Not to mention keeping it upright!) 
  Despite the fact that the Sportster can be much maligned (even by some salesmen at certain dealerships) it actually has some qualities that I appreciate.  First off the economy.  My Sporty gets between 50 and 60 mpg, which is pretty respectable for a 1200.  And it was only $8000 new, there weren't a whole lot of bikes of any brand that come much cheaper than that.
It  sounds like a Harley ( I happen to like a bit of noise coming from the pipes).  I think the old saying "loud pipes save lives" is ridiculous.  You either like the sound of a loud bike or you don't.  Although I must admit that when I drove it off the lot it didn't have much of a rumble, but nothing a good hole saw to the baffles couldn't fix. 
I love the classic styling of the Sportsters.  I can't remember how many times people have mistaken my bike for vintage, commented that my bike is in great shape, and then are surprised when they find out it's a 2005.  The Sportster line is one of Harley's longest lived models , dating back to the fifties,  and quite honestly until they incorporated fuel injection in 2006 it hasn't changed a whole heck of a lot.
But the thing I like most about the Sportster is that it's a "jack of all trades"  It doesn't do anything great but it does most things decent.  It's light enough  that it can handle dirt roads with no problems,  it's got enough power to keep with bigger bikes on the freeways, and It doesn't always scrape foot pegs going around corners.   I can haul enough gear on it for a three day camping trip.  (Although I don't think I'd like to ride two up for long distance.) 
All in all the Sportster is a great all around bike for me, and honestly the only Harley I have a desire to ever  own.       

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


After an extended hiatus I'm back to my blog.  I looked at my last post and realized that more than two years have passed, and what a two years it has been.  I went on a "wild ride", one that included a career change, the loss of my mother, turning forty and the gain of a lot of insight into who I am ( and who I'm not).

Over the last two years I went from an uninspired truck driver/equipment operator to a middle school science teacher and came back full circle to an unemployed (by choice) truck driver.  The two years I spent teaching was a huge learning experience.  I learned that I can do things that I never thought were possible for me to do.  I learned  a tremendous amount about other people, how to build relationships, how to manage crowds and how to manage my own feelings.  I also learned that just because you can be good at something doesn't mean that you should spend a good portion of your life doing it.  Putting it simply, just because you can be a good teacher doesn't mean you should be a teacher.  In the two years of middle school teaching I think I aged ten years both physically and mentally.   I learned that I wasn't into working 14+ hour days for $35,000 a year.  I learned that public school teachers are the most underpaid underappreciated profession going.  And the whole summers off thing is a myth, to further your teaching career you need to spend much of the summer getting advanced degrees and doing professional development courses.  It's most definitely a labor of love, if you don't love don't try it!

Well, seeing this is a motorcycle blog,    I suppose I should write about some motorcycle stuff.  My motorcycle adventures didn't stop in the past two years they only took a back seat to the rest of things going on in my life.  I took a couple of trips and rode on weekends when possible, but didn't ride to work, not because I didn't want to, but because my Sporty just wasn't the best tool for carrying all of my teaching junk around (as well as the unsecured parking lot from which four teacher's cars were stolen in the two years that I worked there).  Last month I took a trip worth writing about, hence the title of this post.  I had my first "off" on my Sporty.  Amazing what lack of focus for a few seconds can do.  

My trip was to the Mogollon Rim by the town of Forest Lakes, away from the heat and desert of Phoenix.  My bike was loaded down with camping gear so my center of gravity was a bit higher than on a typical ride.  The spot I was heading to was on a dirt road off of a 55mph highway.  I was enjoying the beauty of the mountain pines when my turn came up.  I wasn't thinking about the gravel that builds up where pavement meets dirt.  My back tire hit the gravel, lost traction, and started to slide.  I corrected through two or three skids until my back tire hit clean asphalt at which point I high sided my poor overloaded sporty.  I ended up with my right leg pinned under my bike and learned exactly how heavy a Sportster can be when it's lying on your leg.  I freed my pinned leg by pushing the seat with my left foot, which actually took considerable effort.  After I got out from under my bike I stood it up and looked to see If any one saw my little accident.  Low and behold here comes this guy racing up on a quad to see if I was ok.  I realized then that the only serious injury was to my pride.  The next thing he asked was if my bike was new.  My pride took over and I had to inform him that my bike was not new and that I had been riding for twenty five years, and this was the first time that I had "dumped" a street bike.  He then found it necessary to inform me of the obvious;  that you have to watch out for gravel and that it can be slippery.  I know that he had good intentions, but I was sure happy when he left.  I learned the value of good riding gear when I checked myself for injury, I had good divot in my left shin (maybe from my handlebars when I flew over my bike) and I had a good bruise on my right hip where I hit the ground.  Other than that I was completely unscathed.  

As far as the bike goes it had very little damage as well.  The only damage was a broken buckle on my saddle bags and a good sized dent and some scratches on the bottom of my tail pipes.     The rest of my trip was on dirt road and I must say it was the slowest and most cautious five miles I've ever ridden.   The trip home was interesting in that my confidence was shaken from my spill, and my riding skills suffered, I was tentative and nervous the entire time.  I've gone on half a dozen short to medium rides since and feel pretty confident again, but no more daydreaming and riding.

I recently found one of my Dad's unit patches from the Air Force and I think I'm going to have it sewn to my fork bag.  It reads:   "CRANIUM RECTUS EXTRACTUS".  Maybe it will serve to remind me to pay attention.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Which first? The good news or the bad news. . .

Today I had the pleasure of spending most of my day at the Harley dealership. I needed a new rear tire, so I called the dealership to see if they could change it while I waited. They said no problem; it should only take about an hour and a half. I got there about 9:30 a.m. expecting to be home by noon, at the latest. Well, I'm glad I brought a book along, because around 1:30, in comes my service rep, holding a severed drive belt in his hand, and a "good news/bad news" sort of look on his face. The good news was that Harley would replace my drive belt free of charge; the bad news was that I had a brand new tire with a marred sidewall which they wouldn't replace. The service rep explained that the belt "broke" when they were giving it a test drive. The tester had been stranded and they had to trailer my bike back to the shop (I guess this explained the four hour tire change). While looking at the belt, I was wondering how and why it broke, because these belts supposedly last the "lifetime" of the bike and my bike only has 12,000 miles on it. The point at which the belt failed looked like it had been cut with a razor, it had absolutely no frays. I first thought they had over tensioned it, but if that was the case I think it would have been frayed. I suppose the reason it failed will remain a mystery, at least to me. Of course I had to wait another hour and a half for them to replace the belt. On a positive note -- I almost finished my book (It's a good book and I plan on doing a review of it in a future post).

Monday, May 19, 2008

But it's a dry heat

Yesterday was the first day over a 100 degrees this year and it's 110 right now, so I gave my Motoboss Cooling Vest a proper test today. Before today the warmest temperature that I'd used it in was 97 degrees. At that temperature it worked quite well and kept me cool for about an hour at freeway speeds (under 95 degrees I would actually get a little chilled). Before leaving work today, I completely soaked the vest (to the point that it was dripping) and it was 80% dry by the time I finished my 15 mile commute. It did, however, manage to keep my torso cool for the entire trip (I can't say the same for the rest of me). I forgot to mention that I wear my cooling vest under a Frank Thomas mesh armored jacket. The problem is that the jacket is black (I've got a Harley image to maintain ha, ha, ha), and at every stoplight it felt like my arms were going to burst into flames. Needless to say, I think I might see if I can find a jacket in light gray. The bottom line on the cooling vest is that it's great for my short commute but it won't hold up to long rides without stopping at regular intervals to wet it down.

On a side note: I'd like to thank the DPS motorcycle officer who cut in front of me today (missing my front tire by about a foot or so) and changed the course of a plastic bag that I would have otherwise avoided. The said bag wrapped itself around my rear brake pedal and my right boot and before I could free my foot the bag melted to my pipes (at least I didn't lock my rear brake in the process)!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The same old routine

There’s absolutely nothing exciting going on in my motorcycling adventures -- only the commute to work each day. My daily ride to work only gets exciting when I have to dodge still sleeping cagers at 4 a.m., other than that it’s a straight shot. And I mean straight. For those not familiar with the Phoenix area most all of the roads are laid out in a grid, no curves at all. My trip to work is a couple of turns to get out of my neighborhood and than 12.5 miles straight east. I've noticed myself daydreaming quite a bit on my way to work (to much traffic in the afternoon commute home to "zone-out"), and seeing that daydreaming on a motorcycle, and city streets don't really mix that well, I've started playing road games to keep my focus on the ride. My current favorite takes place in front of a concrete plant on my route. Long ago one of their trucks spilled concrete across the road and there is about a 6 inch gap in the dried concrete. If you aim just right you don't hit it at all (and I can't see the concrete in my headlight until I'm to close to adjust). I've got it down so I hit the gap about four out of five tries. There’s another half a dozen pot holes, loose manhole covers etc. that I do the same thing with on my way to work. Got any other ideas for staying focused on a routine ride?

Monday, April 21, 2008

A clean bike is a good bike

She's kind of pretty when she's clean.

Sunday was the first chance I’ve had to wash my bike since returning from my annual motocamping trip. She must have had ten pounds of bug guts splattered all over her and had to go to work for an entire week looking like that. Oh the shame!

Between having the flu and working a few 16 hour days in the last week, I haven't had time for much of anything. But now I'm on the mend and work has settled a bit so I can get back into the swing again.

The weekend before last, I went on my second annual solo motocamping trip. I decided that I didn’t need an epic journey, so I went to Burro Creek campground which is about 130 miles from my house. It's a desert campground so the temperatures are nice this time of year and the creek actually has water in it (year round according to the sign). The downside to Burro Creek is that it is off of Highway 93, which is known as one of the most dangerous roads in
Arizona (many daytime headlight use signs). In the last few years they have added passing lanes and divided it for a good portion, so it’s much safer now. The only other problem I had was dealing with the sheer volume of bugs. I had to stop every 20 miles or so to clean my face shield so I could see where I was going. Unbelievably, I had another bee encounter. One made its way into my helmet and landed on the inside of my visor. Thankfully it didn't sting me and was quickly dispatched of with a spastic flip of my face shield.

The campground was surprisingly quiet seeing that it was at least 3/4 full. There was a great view of the bridge that spanned the gorge where Burro Creek crosses Highway 93.

I didn't do a whole lot once I got there. I read a bit, explored the creek and then returned to camp and read some more. I think I only talked to two people the whole trip. There was a couple that seemed intrigued with the idea of motorcycle camping. I showed them my camp and they were very surprised at how much gear I comfortably fit on my little sporty (I even had a 7" tv screen that hooks up to my iPod so I could watch missed episodes of South Park while on my trip). Overall it was a great trip. Not much excitement, but very relaxing, exactly what the doctor ordered.