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Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's been a slow week - updates

It's been an odd week.  Due to a combination of work, weather, rain, vacations, and a host of other things I've ridden my bike a grand total of...twice.

Maybe three times if you count running to the store for a loaf of bread, a ride of less than five miles.  I came back from my little vacation to  St. Augustine and rode to work on a bright sunny afternoon. does not usually fail me, they were calling for a 30% chance of rain on the way home that night.  My normal commute home is 35 miles one way and, depending on traffic and can I make all the green lights, can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

The rain started lightly, I didn't bother to put my rain suit on.  Experience has shown me that Florida has several different of showers...this was a quick drizzle.  There is also the "Florida Car Wash" - a harder rain that lasts for under 10 minutes.  I went through the drizzle.  Five minutes later it started in full, buckets of rain driven by a ever increasing wind.  Well not at "Hurricane" levels it was certainly miserable.

"So Robert" you may be asking yourself "why didn't you pull over and slip your rain suit on?"    Because gentle reader, I was in the middle of no where.  Despite this being a fast moving highway this part of the road has not really been developed.  By the time I was able to pull off under a bank's awning I was already soaked to the bone.  Putting on the rain suit by now was silly, but I did it anyway.  It did help somewhat on the last 10 miles of the ride.  

I've been caught out in the rain before, and actually generally enjoy it.  I am a Rounder after all.  At night however it's another story, I am not worried so much about how the bike handles and my ability to handle the bike in the rain.  I worry about being seen, about a car speeding to fast for conditions and skidding into me.  I worry about the cagers.

That being said, Kimmie handles exceptionally well in the rain.  Where as my old beloved Burgman seemed sluggish at times, Kimmie's handling is a pleasure.  A 2013 Kymco Xciting weighs 473 pounds (214.5 KG).  The 2013 Burgman weighs 489 pounds (222 KG), you would not think that 16 pounds (7.26 KG) would make that big of a difference.  Kimmie does have 98cc more power as well, I've said it before and I'll say it again, she's a sport bike compared to my former, beloved Burgman.

Xciting on left, Burgman on the right

Now of course I'm not the same rider I was a year ago either.  That being said, if given the choice I would take the Burgman over Kimmie (don't tell her that please).  For me it's an issue of storage.  I never had an issue with the Burgman carrying everything.  I had to buy a top case for Kimmie, and still have to take my jacket into work.  

In the coming week I hope to attempt an oil change on Kimmie.  I am quickly approaching 6,000 miles on Kimmie, so I may just take her to my friends at Affordable Motor Sports and have them do a full 5,000 mile service on it.   

One thing I've learned about motorcycling is that its the little things that you need to pay attention to.  Example, after sitting for a week my tires were 5 pounds low on pressure.  That affects everything.  

Well that's it.  Another 5 minutes of your life wasted, thanks for reading!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Going further

One very big ant.
This is the last time I'll be mentioning the E2E rally for a bit. Where I have yet to exhaust all the "local"  bonus points that I can gather (I recently found several historical markers and graveyards).  It's time for me to go out and explore other areas.  To go 50, 100, 150 miles down the road in search of something as simple as police stations and post offices (worth 2 points)...or as something as unusual as a giant strawberry painted on top of a water tower (worth 7 points).
I am looking forward to this adventure.  As much as I loved riding the Burgman, a maxi-scooter built for comfort and touring, my current Kmyco seems to want to go further.  It seems that it wants that adventure.  I feel more confident now as a rider, more able to handle the road and the challenges it represents.  My goal for the rally is a top 25 finish (I am # 096  in the rally and you can see where I've been here although the site is slow to update).

My game plan is a simple one.  Gather up points every single day I can.  Submit.  Then repeat.  Of course now that I have to leave my comfort zone and range out further than I have in the past that plan will have to be modified somewhat.  For example, I have my route all planned out for spending a day in Tampa and gathering over 200 points.  Up until now I was able to run around before work.  Now I have to take a day trip.  To be gone for 3 or more hours in some cases...all because my pride demands I finish in the top 25.  I better get a tee-shirt out of this at least!  I better change out my heavy jacket for a lighter one as well.

It does exist!!!
I was in St. Augustine recently (the past two days) but did not ride my bike over since I was with my parents, which prevented me from riding every day.  Now I desire to ride to St. Augustine even more (some wonderful back roads and things to see).  Florida's somewhat tragic past - war, slavery, racism, the 2000 election -  and recent E2E planning has brought up some interesting sites, some things that I would have never of considered going to see.  For example, I can go and visit the World's largest Confederate flag and associated military monument.  Question is...should I?

You can't miss this from the highway.  It brings up mixed feelings in me.  My family lost sons in both sides of the conflict, and we actually have letters from long dead nephews and uncles that fought on different sides in the same battles.  As a human being that has friends of all colors, creeds, sexual preferences and political beliefs the flag also represents some of the worst in we humans. I am also smart enough to know that racism has deep roots and I've done or said things that are racist.  I'm human despite my best efforts.

 Points are points however...and I am not that desperate to finish in the top 25.

This is Florida after all, and sometimes I do see racism.  I also see hope in that, for the most part, Florida is a melting pot of Latino's, Whites and Blacks and every color in between and somehow we all manage to get along.   That's something to be celebrated.  That's something to be encouraged.  That's worth a day trip for.

St Augustine Lighthouse

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Just more twists and turns on the road of life.

Lately there have been some changes not only in my life but in the lives of those around me.  Generally speaking they are for the best.  My brother and his wife have worked long and hard to adopt, and that dream is now days away from coming true.

I celebrated another successful trip around the sun (April 6th) surrounded by friends and family.  My 47th such trip.

My girlfriend's daughter is having a birthday soon herself.  Friends accomplish great things.  Old grievances are forgiven.

As I lay out my plans for the coming days and weeks I'm struck by how much can change in a blink of the proverbial eye.  Life is generally good and I am enjoying it.

So far my attempt to ride every day in the month of April has been successful, and has even lead to me finding new roads, new sites and new adventures.  The weather has cooperated with me so far and although the heat and humidity that Florida is famous for is's not here yet.  This heat and humidity have convinced me that I need a lighter summer jacket.

For the last two days I've rode into work wearing just my helmet and gloves.  Well maybe a little more than that, I am after all a believer is ATGATT after all.   Balancing comfort and safety is always difficult and even more so here in Florida.  The weather has been exceptional the last few days, but as I write this, the weather is cloudy and very breezy.  The temperature is 83 F but feels like 89 F (or 30 C and feels like 32 C) .  The humidity is 60%.  It will rain today, the question is just when.

I will wear my jacket today when I ride, which is black and heavy, to protect me from the elements and possible crashes...but I will curse it.  For being heavy and black and so very, very hot when I sit in traffic or at a light.  I need something lighter.  I need something soon.

I am slowly but surely racking up the points in the Equinox to Equinox rally.  Well I may not win I feel that if I continue to add points daily I should, at least, reach my goal of a top 25 finish.  Thanks to Fuzzygalore's website I was able to find some things that I would have missed otherwise, and also learned that I really need to visit some cool stuff that isn't on the list.

Kimmie is calling...I need to ride.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Well I know famous people now....sort of

Recently two friends of mine have been published.

Alan Seeger has written two books and both are rich with imagery  imagination and general weirdness.  Pinball is a fun little jaunt into what may have been and what should have never been.

Lucid Dreaming is a series of essay's, stories and odds and ends about the unimportant stuff of Life, Death and Rock and Roll told in a fun and entertaining way.

My good friend Brook Harwood has also just finished his first novel and is in the process of putting the finishing touches on it before publication later this year.  I've been asked not to say to much since this is getting the full publishers push.  I've read it parts of it, and frankly it's not my cup of tea.

For fans of epic other worldly adventure with a firm understanding of mythos and horror then Brook's soon to be published epic is sure to please.  More to follow on that I promise.

So congrats to two good friends and their works.
It also now is confirmed that there will be a whole series of works by Brooke.  I wonder who plays me in the movie?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Update on the E2E and other randomness

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous and leading to the most amazing view.  - Edward Abbey

The first of the month is always hectic, always insane as I try to maintain the various magazines and publications at all the stores and other locations I supply.  So I've not really had much of a chance to go and ride.  I did get away for a bit though, which is why that photo of the post office is to the right.  There is a story behind it too!

As part of the Equinox to Equinox Rally, you get a few points for getting a photo of your bike, your rally card and a certain object, in this case the post office.  Seems easy enough...till a police car pulls up and wants to know why your taking pictures of the post office.  I showed them the card and explained the rally point system to them.   Then asked them to take me to the nearest police station was - after all it's on the list.  The officer was not amused.  I still don't have that picture.

I take it as a matter of personal pride to do my best and finish in the top 25. That's my goal anyway, and I don't expect my name in lights or songs to be sung of my riding prowess...a tee shirt might be nice however.  For me, its part of a bigger plan...I had set myself the goal of riding everyday in April, even if it was just around the block. I don't get to do that much "recreational" riding and am afraid that I'll become blase' about my daily commute.  Becoming to familiar with the road might mean I don't pay the attention to it I should.  Riding an unknown road, or at least a different road, is good for my soul as well as my skills.

There are snags however.  The state of Florida only has two national parks, neither of which are close to me.  Then there is the fact that much of Florida is under 100 years old, which makes finding historic markers and cemeteries (again on the rally "bonus" list) that much more difficult and challenging.  Much of Florida's history was only written in the last 100 - to 150 years and most of that was written in the panhandle.  The interior of Florida was not opened up until the 1900's and that was due to trains.  

The more I seek out the historical Florida, the more I find.  I've always had a deep and resounding respect for history, so coming across a lone sign or finding some forgotten spot appeals to me.  

Because motorcycles are cool.

At work we have converted another one.  That brings the total number of riders five.  Three of us are riding in pretty much every day.  

So I sit here and ask myself...why am I not out riding?  Time to go!