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Monday, April 30, 2012

Scooter Cannonball 2012

Well this year's Scooter Cannonball is in the books.  Congrats go out to all the riders that made the journey from Savannah, GA to San Diego, CA.   I've a feeling that the 2014 Cannonball will be bigger and better than ever.

It was a lot of fun reading about their adventures on their individual blogs (the links are available on the main page) as well as forums like Modern Vespa and Burgman USA.  I know many of the riders have made lifelong friends and at least one had this as a bucket list item.

Again, congrats go out to all the riders and they adventure they had.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

An idea worth exploring.

Had to share this link from Scooting Old Skool -

Orin O'Neill illustration
It's an interesting idea but I'm not sure if I totally agree with him or not.  Well I do think we will continue to see motorcycles and scooters growing in popularity I'm not so sure if Wal-Mart would be best suited to the task.  Different states have different regulations and even if Wally-world did start selling low priced scoots I feel they would probably push the 49cc models.

And I've written before how I feel they are under powered for most riding, even in the urban environment.  Still though, interesting reading and worth your time and effort.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Taking chances....and rainy days

I will never understand why people insist on getting smaller cc bikes.  I believe you need to have the right bike for your circumstances.

Now please don't misunderstand me.  I know very well why someone would want a lower cc scooter.  Hell, I started riding on a small Zuma 125 because of the lower costs, fuel mileage and other reasons.  The top speed on that bike with an open throttle was maybe 55 mph.  Living in the city it was fine for stop and go driving but I would never take it out onto a freeway, nor would I ride it night on busy roads.  In all fairness I did ride at night on the Zuma but it was on back country roads at 1 AM.  Ninety percent of the time I never saw another car.

Yesterday I on my way home from work taking my normal route.  It was after 10:30 at night and traffic, while not heavy was certainly heavier than normal for that time of night.  I pulled up to a red light and see a single red dot about a mile ahead of me.  "Another biker" I think to myself.   The light goes green and I catch up to the other bike in a matter of minutes.

He was riding something similar to this.
It was some guy wearing a dark shirt, no helmet, no jacket, no reflective gear at all riding a motorized bicycle.  His top speed was maybe 30 mph.  We were riding on a  road where the speed limit is posted as 65 mph.  I yelled over to the guy that I would tuck in behind him and follow him.  My larger bike would not protect him of course if we got hit from behind, but at least my taillights and reflective stripping on my jacket would be a bit more visible.  He took the lane closest to the side of the road, I took the outside and for roughly five miles we putted along, getting passed by all type of cars and trucks.

I even turned on my brights to help him see.  Eventually he turned off, taking a similar road and I continued on straight wishing him the best.  Hopefully this was a one time thing for him.  He was taking a bigger chance than I would ever do.  In fact, the reason I sold the Zuma is that I would have to travel that road back and forth to work; I didn't think the Zuma was safe on those roads even with it's higher speed.

On a more personal note it rained over the weekend.  We needed the rain badly here in Western Florida, as we are in a prolonged drought, but it also showed a weakness in my plans for the future.  I know that eventually I will have to get rid of one of my cars.  It just does not make sense to me; economically or environmentally, to have two cars.  That however means riding in the rain at times.  It poured here the other day, buckets of rain coming down.  I have a rain suit and a decent one at that.  I've not used it yet.  I decided to take the car one day, and I'm glad I did because the rain was so bad that I would not see 10 feet ahead of me at one time.  The other day I rode into the dark clouds knowing I had a 50% chance of getting wet.  I also had a 50% chance of staying dry.  I stayed dry.

If I want to get rid of at least one of the cars, I have to accept that I am going to get wet.  That I will have to ride in less than ideal conditions.  I'll get there.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Date night.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner.  At the last minute had to run out and get some items.  I thought it might be nice if I did something for the girlfriend and so I packed a few things under the Burgie's seat.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A new car?

I don't really consider myself an environmentalist.  I recycle paper and cans when I can, I refill the same plastic bottle with filtered water and bought my motorcycle to save money on gas - but to also reduce my carbon footprint a bit.  I care about and for the environment.
Currently my household consists only of the lovely Susan and myself.  Yet somehow we manage to own three vehicles including the Burgie.  Living in Florida allows me to ride nearly every day, and I currently ride the Burgie back and forth to work and on short jaunts.  We keep one of the cars for pleasure and use the other for the route we run two days out of the week.  In other words, when we go to the beach or out on the town we take the larger, more comfortable Jeep.  For my second job I use the much more fuel efficient Hyundai.

The idea of selling one or better yet both of our cars and going with something like a flex-fuel or a hybrid vehicle has recently entered the discussions around the house. The questions before us are "Does it make sense to do so?" and "How would this change our lives?"  We own all of our vehicles outright and the logic of owning three of them just doesn't add up.
Sadly, in the state of Florida flex-fuel is not available...and do to my adopted stated being backward in so many's not likely to be available anytime soon.  We would more likely buy a hybrid vehicle, although right now I have more questions than I do answers.

Changing your lifestyle is never easy, going from two to one car would mean that I would have to ride in questionable weather more, which is something I try not to do currently.  It means that we would have to actually plan our day around the other persons schedule in case they need the car for something.
For me it should not really be that difficult.  Years ago I lived in the city of Pittsburgh and my wife Teri (now ex-wife) and I only had a single car.  I rode the bus back and forth to work, it took an hour compared to the 30 minutes commuting by car took; but it was my time to read, sleep, or just sit and think.  I can honestly say I miss commuting by times it was its own entertainment.    Everything that I needed - bank, supermarket, post office and library - were a simple bus trip away.  Today, I hop on the Burgman and go because frankly it's to far to walk and their are no buses is Florida (see I told you it was a backward state).

Is this better than taking the car for these brief jaunts?
There is a small but growing movement to live without a car.  To grow your own food and to simply try to be less dependent on the big box stores.  Well I certainly agree and understand the reasoning behind the so called "Car-less" or Car-free movement, it's not always possible.  Programs like this tend to work better in compact urban environments and in forward looking cities.  Sadly many lack the political will to be forward looking and put funds into public transportation and other alternative means of transportation.  In the end though, whatever small steps we can make to help save the planet matter, because when you get right down to it - we are all in this together.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Just an update

This past week I've been in Washington, DC where I was visiting an old friend who has spent the last 20 years defending this country against real and imagined threats.  It was a good trip although it was very interesting to see  very few people riding motorcycles or scooters during the weekday in DC.
I've heard tales of DC traffic being some of the worst in the nation, and after spending three days dealing with it I certainly understand the reluctance to ride two wheels back and forth on the beltway.  It's good to be home and I hope to get an update out shortly.
If your curious, I'll probably post pictures of the trip on my Facebook page later today.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Florida's wine trail

When one of the publications I deliver for extra cash had the headline "Traveling Florida's Wine Trail" my ears picked up.  I happen to like wine and while I would not consider myself an expert by any means I do understand  how the environment affects the taste of a wine, how the variety of grapes used in the wine can affect the taste and other "snobby" things along those lines.

I like the idea of jumping on the Burgman and following the scenic back roads to some of the better Florida wine producers.  I also like a little history and discovered that my adopted state was making wines for a full 300 years before California became a state.  The problem of course is that Florida, with it's hot sticky summers and dry winters is not really conducive to wine making.  Disease and molds were common issues and it was not until the 1920's that breeding programs were developed to create disease-resistant grape varieties suited to our sandy soils and often miserable climate.  Florida wine makers ended up using more fruit and the native Muscadine grape.

An idea started to form in the back of my head about traveling to some of the nearby wineries.  After all one of my goals this year was to get out more on the bike and explore my adopted state.  Taking the back roads to a destination that was close, but not to far.  Using Mapquest I quickly found that there were five different wineries within an hour ride of me.  Picking up a bottle or two of a good local product would not only help the economy, but might introduce me to a good wine or three.

So I think I've a goal this coming summer.  To visit the following places, most of which are within 75 miles and would take about an hour of riding time.  I love Rosa Fiorellia Winery - Susan, my lovely girlfriend and I went for a wine tasting dinner there some time ago and as such I'm not including them on my list.  However it's certainly possible to do and I feel confident that I could to this on my bike pretty easily.
So in no particular order I hope to visit the following places soon:

Strong Tower Vineyards - Spring Hill, FL. 
Lakeridge Winery - Clermont, FL.  
Keel and Curley Winery - Plant City, FL.  
Florida Orange Groves Winery - St Petersburg, FL. 
While I'm not a fan of fruit based wines the last two mentioned are fruit based wine producers.  I've tried a Blueberry from Keel and Curley before and didn't find it to bad.  I tried a kumquat wine and a few others from Florida orange Groves before...and was not impressed.   But I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and try something different.

Now for the required safety talk.   Don't drink and drive.  (edited since Mapquest was not working correctly.)