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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The bloom is off the rose? No, it's just the rose has melted.

It seems that only a few weeks ago I wanted to ride more.  Now, I don't.  I don't even want to think of getting on the bike for more than a short jaunt to the market or barber shop.  Maybe it's the pounding heat and killer humidity.  Even on my way home at night the temperatures remain in the high 80's (high 20 - low 30's Celsius).

It's been hot, it's been rainy.  The humidity has averaged about 90% in the morning, and drops to 65% in the afternoon after the showers. This means that the heat index can go as high as 105. This is either my third or fourth summer in the Tampa area and honestly I don't remember it being this miserable.  I do know that the southern US has suffered a drought the last several years, and things are "returning to normal" here in Florida.

If true, then I'm not sure what to do short of investing in a air conditioner for the bike.  I bought myself a mesh jacket to help with the air flow...still, I am hot.  I get to work after my 30 to 45 minute commute and all I want is to sit and drink water.  I just can imagine going out on a group ride or even just exploring by myself.  In other words...I don't want to ride.

Frankly unless it involves going to the pool, I don't want to leave the couch.

Of course, real life does not allow for that.  Over the last week I've had an unidentified problem with my new Chevy Sonic.  The engine light keeps popping on and it could be 1001 things that are causing it.  Ah, modern technology.

At first it was a manifold valve.  In fixing that the dealership damaged the O2 sensor.  So that and another sensor were replaced.  We had the car back for a day, and guess what happened.  Yep!  Another light!  We are being told it's a sensor on the vacuum.  Although I'm taking a wait and see attitude on that. Luckily the car is still under warranty so this should not cost us a penny.

So my dream of moving towards a totally two-wheeled life is being forced upon me. The only saving grace is that fall will soon be here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

10K service.

Almost two weeks have gone by without me putting virtual pen to virtual paper.  I can not make excuse for this lack of writing.  I've done very little riding over the past week or so, other than my daily commute - and even that has been cut short due to thunderstorms and miserable heat that frankly sucks whatever desire I've had to ride out of me.

Add the usual distractions and obligations of my normal job, my self-employment, home upkeep and demands of family and friends it's remarkable that I get out at all.  So with the weekend fast approaching I thought I would get out and ride, with or without Susan.  I was planning on possibly riding out to Tarpon Springs  but again life reared it's ugly head and nipped those plans in the bud.  The oil change light came on AND it was time to have the bike checked over.

Somehow I managed to put 10,000 miles on her and it's time to have Kimmie looked over.  I don't expect any surprises.  Despite my issues with the dealership, they are a well established and reputable group.  I am not sure with the warranty would cover any work needed.    I am just not sure if I want to deal with the dealership again.  Nor  am I sure I would trust another mechanic.  Normally if I have any work done on Kimmie I take her to a small shop in Zephyrhills.  They do a good job and have earned my respect and trust, I really can't say that about many dealerships.  The only time I would be able to have the work done on the bike would be Saturday.  If she's going to get looked over they might as well change the oil as well.

As it so happens Saturdays are the only days I have to myself.  Where I don't have any pressing commitments or "things to do."  I can certainly put off the work that needs done, but I've the time and the money and no plans.  This is the day to do it.

I was curious about some things too.  I've been considering putting heavier CVT roller weights in to increase my highway mileage (currently around 50 mpg) .  I am not sure of the condition of the CVT belt  and I've heard that changing out the clutch springs can increase performance as well but am unsure about that.  Even though I believe that these things would pay for themselves over time I would still have to justify the cash flow in the short term.

Truthfully though the more I ride the less I realize I know about my machine.  The more I learn the more I become concerned.  There was a clear "thunk" the other night on the right hand side of the bike.  I listened, pulled over and looked the best I could...and could find nothing wrong.  I chalked it up to something on the road but I rode in weary of issues.  Kimmie has become my main means of transportation in all types of weather and I have fallen in love with riding.

I can't imagine not riding now.  It's in my blood.  So yea, I'll give up a free Saturday to get the work done.  In the long run it's worth it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This Blogging Life

I try to come up with a topic every week, it's sometimes a challenge.  After all, most of my riding is commuting over the same 35 miles every day with a little variation.  Sometimes it's fun to go off and do something different or take a group ride, these however are few and far between mostly due to my weird work schedule and secondary self-employed income.  So I don't feel weird telling you that this blog post is a little different, a little off topic but I think important enough to read and talk about.  This post was inspired by my second job in a way.

My little company supplies and stocks various magazines into the local grocery stores.  I don't deliver Ride NowFull Throttle or Go Far magazines.  These are delivered by the publisher and each of these magazines in geared to the "Motorcycle Lifestyle" and are free publications.  I'll pick them up and often just browse through the pages.  With the exception of Go Far (the magazine withe the Map) most of these fine publications end up in my trash can.

They just don't apply to me.

Maybe if I had a Harley, maybe if I wore a lot of leather, maybe if I had a beard...OK, I do have a beard.

The blogger in his natural state.
Frankly there is no content in these magazines.  Nearly 50 to 75% of them are advertisements and what often passes for content is light or non-sensible.   One of them offers the ramblings of old man where he uses nicknames, slang and lingo.  Great if you're part of the inter circle but  horrible writing if you're actually looking for content.  Another offers safety tips but their lifted directly from the MSF website.

Go Far at least provides you with a map of a route (which is how I learned about the Green Swamp) which is great for riding, but even that magazine is mostly advertisements.  Still though, they offer content.  Perhaps not content directly related to me, but some content.

Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not knocking one magazine or another.  The point I'm trying to make is that if you want a review of a particular bike, a particular jacket or helmet...your not going to find it in the pages of a magazine anymore.  Your going to find it in the hands of a blogger.

Magazines and websites count on there advertising dollars to keep publishing.  In order not to upset this "gravy train" you often get reviews that rave about a product or gloss over the rough points. Don't believe me?  When was the last time Rolling Stone gave any piece of music a rating under 3 stars?  Go and look, you'll be shocked.

This lack of content is self feeding.  A publication needs to advertise to pay it's costs.  Advertisements then become the majority of the magazine, pushing original content into a smaller and smaller space.  No one buys the publication since it lacks content.  To pay for the magazine you have to have more advertisements.  What little content may be in the magazine is supplied by giant companies that often provide bland or superficial material that provides no in depth analysis.  I am looking at you Associated Press!

Self feeding circles
Is it any wonder that publishing is dying?

So here I am, a (relatively young) scooterist.  I want to learn about the newest bikes, the newest farkles and get a honest opinion on them.  The only place I can turn is the internet.  The only place I can read something honest is the internet.  One of the original goals, which I believe I've  failed in. is to answer questions I had about riding, about the products, about the farkles.  I've learned a lot, but have I passed that knowledge on to other new riders?

I've been considering adding advertising to this blog.  Not that I expect to make much, but as a business man it only makes sense.  I've used Amazon with little success and I've considered adding a link to Bike Bandit or similar site.  What I worry about is writing a good review of a product because I want to deliver you to one of the websites that advertise with me.  So they will pay me.

I enjoy writing, I like having you, the gentle reader, provide feedback and support and even a slap upside the head when it's deserved.  It's been said that a writers job is to write.  I disagree, a writers job is to get you to think. If I do that then this is successful.   I have written for soccer publications and websites.  I've written about relationships and politics.  One year, I actually made $3000 from my writing for a now defunct soccer site (and have not got paid for my writing since).  That writing stopped being fun because I was getting pressure from the editors to stop being critical of the (then) new MLS as well as a well established minor league.  Who ever tells you advertising dollars don't matter is lying to you.

So yea, this blog is going to take a slightly different tack and offer product reviews in the future.  I'm still not sure if I'll accept advertising.   Time will tell.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Technical Difficulties

No post for this week, and possibly into next week as well.  We are experiencing "technical difficulties" because someone who shall not be mentioned (me) did something to the computer which caused the motherboard to go...I believe the technical term is "boom."

Luckily I know what I'm this thingamabob connects to the blue whatchamacallit.....

Sunday, August 4, 2013


There are no pictures.  No words.  I went searching for a quote, a way  to sum up my mood right now, after a day of work and a magical, mysterious ride home.  The only one that might fit was this:  “I've always believed in savoring the moments. In the end, they are the only things we'll have.” ― Anna GodbersenThe Luxe

I am always struck by how wonderful, how complex the human mind is.

You never really think about it, how it captures all the views and sensations coming at you.  All the colors and smells and sounds and determines faster then...well, not light; but perhaps that quickly the risks, rewards and possibilities of what is occurring.  Tonight it reminded me of how beautiful the world is.  The different shades of blue in the sky, the shape of clouds and how they morph and change so, the magic of weeds growing along side the road.

My brain, this wonderful organ calculates complex math in a heart beat and I lean, lean into the turn and time stops...I come out of the turn and it feels just right.  I continue to ride as the light starts to die, the sun starts to set and the palette changes.  Pinks and purples and rouge's now, that remind me of the first time I made love to a woman.  Not sex, but actual love.  Not the fumbling of a teen age boy, but a man who wants to do nothing but please his partner.  I feel that connection.

The light fades and finally I turn towards home...feeling a satisfaction, a joy.  Moments matter, and I have had a perfect one.