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Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas - the gearing up saga continues....

The first time I ever rode my Burgie home I knew that the helmet I had was not going to cut it, so I bought myself a full face helmet.  Gloves were something I needed and after a bit of debate, managed to get two different pairs.

A pair of over the ankle, waterproof, oil resistant soled leather boots completed the ensemble.   What I was lacking was a good armored motorcycle jacket.  What I had been using was a high visibility yellow jacket that I used to go hiking around the woods in when I lived in the wilds of Western Pennsylvania.   There was no way I was going to be mistaken for a deer in that!  For riding however, other than the visibility it offered little in protection.

Never mind the date in the corner  :)
For the holiday's then my lovely parents bought me a motorcycle jacket from the good folks over at  It's a Vulcan NF-7003 Armored Waterproof Textile jacket with mesh Panels.

It fit perfectly at my waist and didn't bunch up as I rode in it.  It does have some reflective piping but it's black, so my high visibility orange work vest will be around for a bit longer particularly when I ride home from work at 1 in the morning.

The inner mesh is removable so come the hot sticky days of summer I will not be sweating that badly...I hope.  The armor can be removed as well, I suppose to clean the jacket, but I'm a little weary of that.  The armor is CE certified.

I know perfectly well the physics of an accident.  I'm going to get hurt.  Exactly how hurt is a combination of things.  My speed at the time of the accident, the road surface, how I hit the surface, am I going to hit something else first?  The distance between me and the ground.  I'm not looking for an accident, I sure in hell do not wish to be in one...but lets be honest.  Any biker that says they have never been in an accident of some sort is either a liar or the most lucky fool on the planet.  Ask them to buy a lottery ticket for you.

My hope is having an armored jacket is to protect the body.  Just like wearing a helmet is to protect the brain.  Well I certainly understand the "freedom" argument for not wearing a helmet, my melon is my melon and I'm wearing a helmet.  My desire for a jacket fell along those same line.  A jacket may not save my life, but I'm feeling a little safer wearing one.

I've worn it out a few times now including in a fog filled rainy night.  It has kept me warm and dry and I'm getting used to its weight and feel.  It even folds nicely into my under seat storage.

Thanks Mom and Dad.  I love you,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holiday's

From the staff here at Scooter Revolution! - OK just me - here is hoping every one has a happy and safe Holiday Season.  I am looking forward to the coming year and the adventures that it will bring.  Be Safe.  Be well and be happy.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

5 places challenge

Princess Scooterpie threw down the gauntlet about a week ago.  Her challenge was simple; yet for a guy like would be something I would totally over think.   I am still a new rider so I'm defining local as something that I might actually be capable of doing today with my skill level.

Her challenge was:

  1.  "to list at least 5 places in YOUR own country that you want to visit."
  2.  "if you could go anywhere in the world on your motorcycle or scooter where would it be?"
America is a big place.  I would love to see the Grand Canyon, have lunch at the Little A'Le'Inn cafe, or try to unravel the mysteries of the Worlds largest ball of yarn.  Well...maybe not the last thing.  

It be very easy to list some things...problem is, am I capable of doing them today?  

So I changed her rules slightly and defined local as "places that I would likely ride to with my current level of experience and ability."  My top five then narrowed quite a bit, and are in somewhat of an order.

St. Augustine - Not only is this one of the oldest cities in America, but getting there is a combination of different riding experiences, from the modern four lane super highway to the two lane blacktop through one of central Florida's many swamps and the Historic US-1. Roughly 158 miles in a little bit over 3 hours its completely doable in a one day trip.  
St. Augustine is over 500 years old and for a history buff like me to be so close it seems like a shame not to visit.  Plus I love to body surf, and the Atlantic side of Florida gets much better body surfing waves than the Gulf of Mexico side where I live currently.
Key West - I was in Key West nearly two years ago and would love to get back.  I was on a cruise and didn't feel there was enough time to explore this remarkable city.  I toured the Hemingway house, had a overpriced drink in Margaritaville and went into their lighthouse, then back to the boat.  I have wanted to get back since to explore some more.
There is ferry service to the Keys from Tampa which would leave more time for exploring the island but at this time, I don't believe you can take the bike on the ferry.  Either way it's a trip worth making.  I would take a week's vacation if I were to do this and enjoy the ride.  
Unlike the above however, this is not an easy trip to make.  There really is no direct route to the Keys from where I live.  It's about eight hours and 395 miles away.  It's through some of the most beautiful countryside in central and southern Florida as you cruise past Lake Okeechobee and through the Everglades National Park.  US-1 stretches out over the open water and invites you to rest your tired bones in the warm waters of the Gulf.  The island itself is famed for its scooter friendly streets, sunsets, beaches and laid back attitude.  It's been a destination for bikers for years.  

Weeki Wachee, Florida - The city of mermaids.   Okay, I admit watching women do a synchronized dance number under water in a natural spring is a bit silly.  But it's that "old time Florida" experience I seek by going there.  They also have a State park, a amusement and water park with water ski shows and other "old time family entertainment."  In the world of HDTV, Smart phones and in a state ruled by a giant rodent, there is something to be said for the simplicity of a girl in a fish outfit.    
Part of the charm of going there for me is the quickness of the trip.  From my home it would take about an hour and would be under 100 miles round trip.  Plus there are a variety of routes, each of them on back country roads.  

The last two trips are a bit harder for me to define.  They don't really meet my definition of local.  Nor do I believe I'm capable of such a trip right now.    

New Orleans is of course, the Big Easy.  Famed city of vice and virtue, of jazz and food, of history and mystery.  As a "foodie", a self described music geek and history nerd this seems like a no brainier.  A little over 600 miles or 10 hours away it would be a weeks vacation by bike.   Much like Key West I feel it's possible for me to do, just not very likely.
Rainbow Row

Finally, the last "local" trip is again not at all local.  Unlike every other trip mentioned so far this one is all highway but the destination means a lot to me.  Roughly eight hours and 415 miles away lies Charleston, SC.  I am not sure if there is such a thing as destiny or reincarnation, but Charleston has always felt like home to me.  There is a spirit in the air there that just makes me want to relax on the veranda with a mint julep and call everyone "Honey."

The final part of the challenge is not really that hard for me either.   I love Asia.  I was in Central Asia several years ago and my first wife (who by the way I still have nothing nice to say about even after all these years) was originally from that part of the world.  To ride my bike on the Great Wall?  On the Silk road?  Oh yea, I am so there.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gary B

At 45 years old I am both surprised and saddened by the amount of people I have known that have died.

I was just starting to get to know Gary.  He seemed friendly enough, generous - he gave me a pair of motorcycle gloves and was willing to share his knowledge of the Burgmen's inner workings with me.  Helping me out with my first oil change and checking out the transmission for me.

When he and another friend were out one day, an animal run in front of the other guys bike and he went down on the side of the road.   Not only did Gary take care of his friend, but also the bike...getting it to a safe location.  He had character, something I feel is missing in this world. 

We went out on a few rides.  Over the hills of central Florida...I even had a private nickname for him that I never shared with him; "Mr McTwisty".  The funny thing is he sent me a map of the route a few days before.  I plan on making a memorial ride over that route in a few days in his honor.

His death on Saturday of a sudden heart attack is leaving me feel a little numb, and I can't imagine what his wife and kids must be feeling.  My thoughts and prayers go out to them.

Some say that once something is put on the net it's there forever.  That nothing can truly be deleted or disappear.  While my friendship with Gary was all to brief  the effect that he had on peoples lives will never disappear.

The family has established an account to benefit their three children. For details on how to contribute, please contact Autumn York at

Ride well buddy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Learning curve's

Every time I go out, I learn something new about the bike and myself.  On Saturday I thought I go get gas, then take the bike out for a nice spin on a lovely day.

I misjudged exactly how far I would get on the gas I had.  In fact, 1.5 miles up the road I'm calling the lovely, beautiful, smart and incredible girlfriend to pick me up.  Did I mention how wonderful she was?

The girlfriend let me know she was not happy about picking me up and getting gas for me, in fact I'm still suffering from this experience.  Lesson learned...About 210 miles is as far as I go go on a tank of gas, after that find a station quickly.

When I left in the morning the temperature was in the low 80's, a wonderful warm and sunny morning, within the hour the sky darkened, the clouds moved in and every time I looked down at my ambient air gauge...the temperature seemed to drop another 3 or 4 degrees.  I had packed a sweater under the seat and tossed that on, but not rain gear.  A friend had got caught out a few days before, and I should have learned from his experience.  The rain however held off and my little 50 miles sprint on the bike was all good.
An old bridge found on the ride.

David Masse, who writes the wonderful Life on Two wheels blog, once mentioned that he carried a crushed beer can with him to stabilize the bike when he pulled into soft shoulders to take a few photo's or so.  "Good idea" I think to myself, and promptly don't do that.   Then I pull off the side of the road to get a couple of pics of an old decaying bridge, which sadly my photographic skills do not do it justice.  I start to put the camera back into the bag and "OH SHIT!" the bike did not tip.  I was able to catch it in time...but lesson learned.  The camera landed softly on the grass and I was glad I dropped it, and not the Burgie.

There is a lot of learning involved.  How to do the basic maintenance, how to look for certain things, how to protect yourself, how to drive in X condition and how that differs from Y condition.

Is it worth it?  Oh sure there are gas savings, my full tank ran me a total of $12 dollars and I know I can go a MAXIMUM of 210 miles before needing to fill up again.  Does it save the environment?  Am I making friends in a larger community?
Along with the tangibles are a whole bunch of intangibles.

Ah Florida!
Of course finding something as strange and wonderful as this on the road does make it worthwhile, and being able to pull over quickly to take advantage of the camera is certainly a plus.

I'm still learning, the curves of the road and the lessons that the bike has to teach me.  What other joys does the road hold?  What other horrors and surprises?

To know that, I have to simply ride.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What the future holds....a scooter revolution? Part 1

December is a time when you supposed to look back, think about the mistakes you've made and the injuries you may have caused to those you love and ask for forgiveness. You promise yourself your going to do better.  To be a better person and move on with your life.

Problem is I don't feel like looking back.

I am looking forward.  Forward to the future of me on the Burgie.  Forward to where the girlfriend feels confident enough to climb onto the back, wrap her arms about me and whisper into my ear..."Lets go."

I am looking forward to longer trips, out to the shore to get some shots of the ocean and sunsets.  Out to the other coast of Florida where a old friend of mine will be moving.  Perhaps even an overnight ride up to Charleston, SC where I have several old friends I've not seen in years.

Looking forward to seeing even more scooters and bikes on the road.   I'm not a futurist.  I can not point to any research and say "This will happen."  I can only point to what I know, to what I see happening.  Their will be a "Scooter Revolution" in this country eventually.


Partially because of the costs involved.  Gas is continuing to raise, and although it has seemed to stabilized for will go up again.  I know enough about economics to know that the job market is not going to bounce back anytime soon, we are looking at high unemployment and other issues for at least the next 10 years.

This is going to force people to look for alternative methods of transportation.   We are seeing it already as scooter sales were up 50% in the first quarter of 2011.  Although I think most people didn't think it through and only bought scooters based on fuel economy and did not consider things like speed, safety and the distance they needed to travel back and forth to work (which are all reasons I upgraded from 125cc to 400cc).

Scooter sales dropped a bit as the year went on but even in the 3rd quarter of last year they were overall positive.

Motorcycle sales however dropped.   Perhaps due to the fact that Americans don't like standard shifts, I drive a standard shift normally in my car...and found switching to the motorcycle to be a bit confusing.  Also limiting I think was the power involved.   When I started looking about the smallest engine I found was 650cc.  While I was okay with that, I wondered why a lot of cycles were in the higher cc range.   I know that speed brings stability, but did we need 1200cc to do that?

So the marketer and researcher in me looks for answers, solutions...and wonders what does the future hold.

  1. Increased gas prices are a given.
  2. Increased urbanization.
  3. People living with their parents longer, or if they do move will be close to work (see two).  Money will be tight due to a lack of work.
  4. Increased use of public and alternative transportation.
So what does this mean.   It means that the 2 wheeled market is set to expand.  If the companies involved play their cards right.   I think BMW actually is thinking about this.   Their new Concept C scooter offers a lot in a little package, and is designed to really appeal to lots of people.

Here you have an automatic transmission, a powerhouse capable of highway speeds, a damn sexy almost sport bike look, and although I've not seen any specs for storage and other things...I'm sure it's there as well.  The crappy windshield however will need to go.

I have to be honest, I want this bike.

Automatics may make a dent in the marketplace if American cycle culture is willing to accept some harsh reality.  Smaller engines, better suspensions, more storage is the wave of the future.  The so called Maxi-scooters are leading the way.

Ridley had a nice run for several years but may have entered the market to early, they have stopped production and it will be interesting to see if they reenter the market in the near future.

Honda has a few things up it's sleeve and introduced a automatic transmission in 2009, however the bike was priced at 15K and in a down economy did not sell well.  Even the mighty Harley Davidson has toyed with the idea in the past.  I see this idea being explored more in the future.

For now though we will put these idea's aside, and explore them more in part 2 of this series.  Hopefully in a few days.

Monday, December 5, 2011

For our 4 legged friends

A friend of mine at work asked me to pass this on.  I know what it's like to have an animal in pain and not be able to help them due to money.

I owned a cat named Breezewood for years, he suffered unduly because I didn't have the money to get him the care he needed or to end his suffering.  So even if you can give just a dollar, it will help someone else not regret giving their animal what they needed.

That's Breeze there, not a greet pic but one of the few I have in the PC.  Great memories however of him purring away.   Towards the end he couldn't even move.   If a dollar helps someone else's pet not suffer, then I'll do what I can to help them out.