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Monday, May 26, 2014

Of Memorial Day and soccer players.

I could not let the Memorial Day weekend go by without some recreational riding.  I didn't get to do much of it.  I didn't even manage to go that far, but I did finally get off the beaten track of my day to day commute and take some different roads.  Finally I was able to hit the back roads, the side roads, the strange little ally's that cut parallel or through the main strips.

So I rode to work and made it on time, but at least I got to ride something that was different.  Traffic was light on Friday and Saturday but by Sunday it was again packed with church goers and those heading to the beach for one more day of frolic.

I needed those side roads with their little twists and blind curves.  One day by accident I found a side road near where I work, it's got 15 or 16 curves in a little bit over 3 miles of road.  Kimmie handled them them like a champ and again I felt the spark flair up a little.  After nearly 5 months of not being able or allowed to just felt right.

Speaking of Memorial Day, it would be wrong of me not to say "Thank you" to the various men and woman that have served in our armed forces to protect the rights and freedoms we have today.  That being said, I feel that it is also my duty to remind people that just because we have that freedom does not mean we should take it for granted.  A citizen must always watch their government to ensure that they are serving the people, and not themselves or another Master.  So if you don't vote, don't bitch.  You can register to vote here if your not registered already.

Just in case your new to this blog, I'm a soccer fan.  Since this is my blog I'm going to talk about soccer for a moment.   You may want to stop reading now.

Still here?


Ever since I kicked a ball around in grade school I've been a fan of the beautiful game, and it's been a difficult ride for me.  From watching indoor soccer in the late 70's and early 80's to the feeling of amazement I had when I opened up the paper in 1993 to find the Charleston Battery on the front page.  At times I've felt like a voice out in the wilderness.  So to see what the sport has become here in the US, and what it has the potential to become, makes my heart fill with pride.  We have three, count them three, viable leagues.  The big one, the MLS, the second tier NASL (which is the league the local Tampa Bay Rowdies play in)  and the third tier USL; which is the league my beloved Pittsburgh Riverhounds play in.

Without going into to much detail, I've watched the interest around the upcoming World Cup with a bit of bemusement.  The recent controversy over the dropping of Landon Donovan from the US squad has helped propel the sport even more into the public conscious.  After all, he has scored 57 goals for the USA over his career, many of which of helped the team advanced further then many felt possible.  His 2010 goal against Algeria helped ignite a nation.

In the end though you have to trust the coach.  Donovan has had a bit of a "prima donna complex" follow him throughout his career and his commitment to the sport has wavered over the last few years.

To hear the arguments about why or why not he should have been included are interesting to me.  At the end of the day's the coach that decides, and it's him that will reap the rewards or the disgrace.  Personally I think it's a good move.  If the team somehow manages to get out to the group (The USA is grouped with Germany - the second best team in the world right now), Portugal (which is ranked the third best team in the world) and Ghana.  They were the country that knocked the USA out of the last two world cups.  Most of us that follow the game understand that it is an uphill battle and the key is the first two games.  The US can not afford to lose the first game.  It can afford a tie in the second game, but may require help.  A win against Portugal is possible, and has been done before.

Even if they don't advance, the USA is looking good for the next World Cup (the USA has qualified for every World Cup since 1990).  The young players will have experience at the world stage and Mr Donovan will only be 36.  Old by a soccer player standards but he may still be able to provide a spark at that age.

It's going to be an interesting ride.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

and just like that....the spark reignites

It seems like it was only a week ago that I was complaining that I had no get up and go.  No desire to ride.  Yesterday that changed.  I met a guy who I'll call "C" for the sake of argument and because I'm not sure if he would like mentioned in this blog.  Some of us still like privacy.

Anyhow...long story short I'm helping him get used to things in an area of work we call the "fish tank."  He mentions he rides.  He mentions he rides a Honda NC700 model (frankly I don't remember which particular model) which he just bought new.  Out to the parking lot we go!

Thanks to Honda for the picture.
Now I have to admit, it's a sexy little beast and one of those bikes that I could see owning in the future.  Well I'm not particularly a fan of the bikes looks; I tend to be of a touring bike fan and the NC700 models are more adventure bike, I do like the automatic nature of it as well as Honda's reputation in the bike world.

We talked fuel economy, we talked about the Duel Clutch Transmission - his bike has just the standard gearing.  We talked about me jumping on the bike and riding it around the empty parking lot.
An offer I appreciated but refused, telling him briefly about my two accidents and gently declined his offer.  He offered again.

Long story short I think I found a riding partner.  As we chatted he thinks the way I do about bikes.  If you own it you ride it, and the conditions really should not matter.  We chatted about other things and I realized that for a guy 20 years younger than me he got his head on straight...and is a how of a lot smarter than I was at that age.

On the way home I found myself saying..."I really love my bike."  I really love the joy of motorcycling.  We chatted briefly about taking the bikes out one Saturday (if I ever have a Saturday off) and riding with some friends.  "They, sadly, all ride Harley's."  He just smiled.  "Then we show them what our bikes can do." He said.

So plans were hatched.  I've been wanting to ride with my buddy Dave for a while now. I know he is like me to, busy as hell but willing to go on a ride.  Craig, another Harley rider, is new to the area but has been a friend of my girlfriends for years.  A friend of his, Bill, lives in the same town as Mr. C.  Suddenly going places again seems within reach. lists a nice short ride near where they lived called Citrus County 476.   It may be worth exploring.  

The fact that I'm even thinking about this is doing my heart some good.  While I may never have that same fire I felt for riding before, it's good to know that the spark is there.  It's good to feel desire again.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I have the means, I have the ways...all I lack is the _____.

So it has been about a week since I've been officially released to ride and truthfully, I've not ridden that much.  Not that I'm making excuses but this past week has been full of overtime work, training and issues with my other job.  The weather has not helped either as we had two or three rain filled days.

Although this weekend was supposed to be gorgeous.  Friday certainly was with the temperature in the low 70's (low 20's C) and with low humility.  Saturday the humidity will be low again with the high only being 84 F (or 29 C), again great weather to ride in.  Right now though I don't have any plans to go out, I've been riding back and forth to work...and earlier today to the movies.  However I don't seem to have any desire to go "just to go."  Perhaps this will come.

I'm not afraid of riding.  I've just had no desire to go anywhere.  No desire to ride period.  There is no reason for me not to, and I will admit that not having any desire to ride Kimmie anywhere is bothering me.  The weather is wonderful, the temperature perfect...I've just no desire.

Lets hope we get our groove back soon.  Because frankly I just don't want to commute back and forth on my bike to work.  Where is the fun in that?  Plus, honestly, why maintain the blog if all I do is ride back and forth to work?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yea, I rode today.

To borrow a phrase from Keith over at the "Did he ride today?" blog.  "Yes, I rode today."

I rode yesterday as well, and am planning on riding tomorrow - as long as the weather holds up.  There is a thirty percent (30%) chance of rain throughout the day.  At one time I would have ridden up to a fifty (50%) chance of rain.  At that stage it really was a role of a dice.

Nothing of note happened.  No cars pulled in front of me.  No deer were in the middle of the road.  No emergency stops where I had to pucker.  A unexciting commute back and forth to work.  Plain, dull, boring. What every cyclist wants I suppose.  A successful ride.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous jumping on Kimmie after being off her for months.  A few quick swings around the streets at low speed and then I ventured into the traffic of Pasco County.  I worried, the tires felt  overinflated.  Then they felt under-inflated.  I pulled off the road and a nice mechanic at Sam's club checked my pressure.  It was right on the money.

I worried about the road, Florida has some serious issues with their roads because of bad craftsmanship and to much sand in the asphalt mix.  I was concerned about the bike, "Was that a whine in the CVT belt?"  "When was the last time my oil was changed?  There is so much to be concerned about.

And yet, I could feel a little spark of joy going into a corner.  Safely and with probably a little to much caution.  If the events over the last few months have taught me anything it's that caution is paramount and that the shit will hit the fan at any time and any where.

Kimmie opened up on the straightaways here and there, bringing that little thrill of feeling myself pushed backward as she surged forward.

I stopped to buy gas, $3.79 a gallon, and was reminded again about the benefits of owning a scooter or motorcycle.  Basically it cost me roughly 14 cents to run the bike one mile which compared to my Chevy Sonic, which averages about 30 miles per gallon, is a bargain.  I can go just under 160 miles on the bike, or about 52 miles on a gallon of gas, and that may have been one of the 1st reasons I started riding in the first place.  Somewhere, somehow I fell in love with the sport.

That love is still there, it's just going to take me a little time to rekindle that flame.

Friday, May 9, 2014

This post has only a working title

I was hoping that the doctors, lawyers and powers that be would be kind enough to release me before the Scooters 4 Hooters event on May 10th.  I really was looking forward to riding in this event but will not be able to.  I already contacted the few people that gave me a donation to the event, their money was sent to the organization on their behalf.

The doctors finally released me and this weekend I will finally be able to reacquaint myself with Kimmie.  Probably just taking her out for a small ride around the neighborhood and maybe to work.  Sadly I don't believe I'm ready to ride to Orlando and back yet.  Its been something like four months since I've done any serious riding.  I want to get those skills back.  I want to fall in love all over again.  Maybe.

At the end of last year I had new goals.  I wanted to take Kimmie further.  I had plans to take her up to Jacksonville on one of my business trips.  I wanted to push myself into 150 to 200 mile day trips.  Now, in a what of ways it's back to square one, mile one.  That is not a bad thing, each and every mile I've ridden so far is a little more experience.

I just don't have the enthusiasm for it that I once did.  Call it a weariness if you must.  Call it a new found respect for what is an admittedly dangerous hobby, call it fear.  Maybe when I start her up, hearing Kimmie purr and feel her surge forward it will be a different feeling.

I'm going for a ride.