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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's not hell, it's just Jacksonville, Florida

Sometimes it's nice to get away.  To do something different and unique and break out of your comfort zone a bit.  I found myself in Jacksonville, Florida to help train some others and take a little mini-vacation from the other job that I do.  I have to admit that I've also been playing around with the idea of applying for an open management position here in Jacksonville and wanted to look about some.

In the end I decided not to apply for it.  Yea, I want to move up in the company (and frankly feel that I've been passed over one to many times), but Jacksonville isn't for me.  I've got to much going on right now to consider moving.  Still's a nice idea and the Jacksonville/St Augustine area offers a lot for a guy like me.  The lovely Sue ended up visiting me over the weekend and we visited the beaches, looked about and had two days of relaxation.

A monster hunts on the beaches
Unlike my last trip to Jacksonville, I was actually able to get away and do some exploring.  I even considered renting a scooter for a few hours as I meandered the back streets of St Augustine.  I opted out of that option, but did consider it.  Despite the title of this blog, it was a good trip and if travel has taught me anything - personal, pleasure or business - it's to be open to the possibilities.

Their might be a proverbial diamond in the rough, a three star restaurant in what you think might be a hick back-ass town in the middle of nowhere Florida.  Or how the guy that used to sell you pot in college and haven't seen in years just might own a farm now just about an hour north of Jacksonville, and have the (2nd) coolest woman ever as his wife. So I got to spend about two hours with them and, at the end, he offered to sell me some pot (which I did turn down).

A little winery in St Augustine which offered some very sweet (almost to sweet) wines but also offered jazz on the roof top over looking the St Johns River.  Watching the World Cup in a bar full of strangers and the joy and disappointment that the beautiful game grants us.   Strangers enter and friends emerge, united by the colors of their chosen side.

A visit to one of the local museums lead to an odd moment.  I walked into one of the old clapboard homes that were on display, only dating only back 100 years, and realizing that I was alone.  Realizing that I could slip behind the velvet ropes and actually touch some I dare to do so?

Another room contained an old train.  An iron and steel ghost of the influence of Henry Flagler.  Who for all practical purposes built up the east coast of Florida and developed the Keys.  Florida owes a lot to the rails and the state was not really developed until the 1920's and Flagler's various hotels and rail efforts.  Disney of course was another developing force in the state but that is another topic for another blog.

One of the trains that built modern Florida

An old church in Jacksonville beach

Behind the ropes.
An old clapboard style Florida home

Old School Kitchen

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just riding in the rain

Something odd happened this past Friday, the 13 of June 2014.  I didn't have anything to do.  No emails to read, no proposals to make.  There was no pressing business that demanded my attention.  No urgent phone calls or errands or "things that must be done right now because the fate of the free world hangs in the balance!!!"

Sue, my long suffering and Raison d'être, was out running around with her girlfriends doing what ever a group of middle aged women do (probably bitching about their middle aged men).  So I was alone...I wanted to go for a ride.  Actually let me rephrase that..."I WANTED TO GO FOR A RIDE!".  

I've been banged up over the last few months and was actually under strict orders from the powers that be not to ride for several of those months.  When I was released recently I was happy about it...but I really didn't feel the "want" to go for a ride.

Since then I've ridden to work.  I've run to the movies or out to the store.  I've slowly gotten used to riding again.  I've felt a spark of the joy I used to have to on the bike at times, leaning into a corner or just being out on the road somewhere where the view was worth remarking on.  I've not really felt the need to go riding just to ride.

There was only one problem.  It was raining.


I did consider putting on my rain gear.  Heading out into the wilds of West Central Florida "just for an hour or so."  In the end the rational side of my brain won the argument.  It's dangerous in the rain to begin with, even more so when there are lighting storms in the area.  I'm ugly but I'm not stupid.

So no riding on a Friday for me.  Saturday was another story.

Saturday started out beautifully, not a cloud in the sky and I was scheduled to work a 12 hour day.  I decided to ride in, and although there was a chance of rain on the way home it was only in the 30% range and I would most likely miss it.   The parking lot was wet at 10:30 PM when I left work and I was warned that the roads were slick in spots but it was not raining.

I took it easy on the way home, riding a little slower than I would normally and keeping an extra second or two between me and the cars surrounding me.  I slipped on my rain gear early just in case I needed it...I didn't till about 10 miles from my home when I entered a rain curtain.  It caught me off guard as it literally came of of no where and without soaked me quickly and thoroughly...but the rain gear did it's job.  I was dry.

I may have not had the chance to go out for a ride...and I think that I needed to prove something to myself.  That I could handle the bike in less than ideal conditions, which I was able to do a bit of on Saturday.  Even though I was home about 15 minutes after I got caught out in it.  Not much of a test, but another little confidence builder.

Finally starting today I will be in Jacksonville, FL for an entire week, including the weekend (I will be back next Thursday), which means no riding at all for me while I'm gone.  The company pays for me to take a rental car to keep liability down.  I hope to get out some more than I did last time and am actually taking a camera with me this time.

Hopefully it will be a little mini-vacation for me.  God knows I need one.  I may however, rent a scooter while I'm up there because I have to share the company vehicle with someone else.   We will just have to wait and see.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Just a quick update - a famed Lambretta lives.

Our good friends over at Scooter Diaries gave us some good news recently.  The famed Lambretta is restored and purring like a kitten.

I have been wanting to read this book but somehow my subtle hint to the girlfriend and my parents of "Hey, I would really like this book for Christmas...for my birthday....because I want to read it"  seemed to fall on deaf ears; it appears I will have to buy myself a copy.   Truth be told, with everything that has been going on these last few months it was forgotten about.

For those of us that like good stories and adventure, I thought I would share this video with you.

Speaking of Epic Adventures.  This is the last day of the 2014 Scooter Cannonball.  Congrats to all that made that journey.  Have a beer, you deserve it.

Something from nothing?

At work the other day, I was asked about my Kimmie again.  The usual questions about speed, licensing, safety and costs.  It's that time of year again, as I look at the statistics on this site show that my posts about what to look for when buying a scooter and what maxi scooter may work for someone seem to grow.  I'm happy with that.  If one person buys something that suits them because of me, then as a blogger I did something right.

I passed on the info to them.  I had recommending a motorcycle safety class and a dealer I trust.

I've been commuting pretty regularly lately and even have taken a few back roads in just to break up the commute and for the change of scenery.  It's felt good.  I'm still not sure if I'm ready to take on unknown roads and I'll admit I'm a little more weary of rainy weather than I used to be.  For example today there will be a 50% percent chance of rain.  In the past I would have debated all day about riding in and would have ridden in if the rain chance was under 45% for sure.  Now, I know I'm taking the car because I'm reducing the risk of incident or accident.

But I'm riding again.  I'm riding more than I did.  I'm starting to feel that fever grow.  I'm not back 100% but I will be soon enough.  I rode more this week than the week before, and the week before that.  I am gaining my confidence back

The lawyers still are not allowing me to talk about the events earlier this year.    Things need to be settled and debated and I'm still processing things.   So, truth be told, there is not much to report this week...and considering how I'll be in Jacksonville, FL on business starting the 18th for a week.  Nothing to report then either.

I do hope to get out a little more this time to explore Jacksonville, I will be honest and state there is a position there that I may apply for, although that means giving up a lot of what I've worked so hard to build here in Tampa; and therefore may not be worth it.

Sadly though...there is really nothing to report.  It happens sometimes to even the best of writers (of which I am not one).  So this week I think I'll just watch the World Cup.  Ride when and where I can and read up on things to do in Jacksonville.    When I return, I'll have something interesting.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Scooter Cannonball Run 2014

I'm a few days late.

It's that time of year again, for the biannual Scooter Cannonball Run.  Long story short for those that may stumble on this miserable attempt at writing...the cannonball is an open event for scooters under 250cc.  It normally is a ten day event that crosses the country and this years event is, to the best of my knowledge, the first to enter another country (Canada) and is being run from Hyder, Alaska to New Orleans, Louisiana.  A distance of some 3500 miles.  The "race" this year concludes with the opening of Amerivespa 2014.

It is not a race.

So I thought I do a little public service and include all the web links I could for the individual riders.  They are on a hell of an adventure - and I will admit I feel a little envious and then I think..."oh hell no!"  After all your going to ride for 350 miles a day roughly on a bike that may only top out at 50 MPH.  Their are a few riders who may not even be capable of that speed.

You have to admire the craziness of it, the dedication to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to do something like this.  To be on a bike for 8 or 9 hours a day, work on it at night for a few hours and then right back to it again.

It is not a race.  It is a challenge.  An experience.  An insanity.

Last year, two years of ago I would have loved to have done it.  Now....while now is a different story.

So here is to the insane ones, the crazy ones.  The ones that are pushing themselves, their bikes and perhaps even their luck.  Here is to you crazy fools.

Show some love and leave comments on their blogs and Facebook pages.  They would appreciate it.  Here they are in no order what so ever.

Phil's 2014 Cannonball Run  - Blog and photo's

Skwirly's - Sadly his run is already over as I type this due to a bad piston.  But your welcome to peruse.

Scooterfile - Providing coverage via a dedicated page.

Rocket and Me - Pictures and Blog

Dave's Cannonball Run - Blog with photo's and VIDEO.

2014 Cannonball - Blog but no updates since Dec 2013?  Perhaps later?

Rides and Random Thoughts - Blog with Photo's.  She is also one of the few female riders that I know are participating this year.

Scooter Cannonball - Very nice unofficial blog for the whole thing?

Kick Start Karen - some interviews with the riders and other interesting tidbits from a former Cannonballer.

A lot of the riders are offering real time tracking of their progress as well so you can follow along on the journey.  If I missed anyone or anything just let me know and I'll be happy to add it!

Good luck!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Of gloves and boots and other things

So here I am yesterday, running a few errands on Kimmie.  We were picking up some milk, some odds and ends from here and there...nothing to taxing or far but just the enough to make me feel like I was accomplishing something on the bike.

I felt a little weird though.  Something was wrong, not pucker up "OH MY GOD!" wrong.  More of a little annoyance wrong.  My left hand glove hand developed a hole in it.  It was my index finger.  I needed new gloves plain and simple.

I have to admit, I hate wearing gloves.  Always have, even growing up in Pennsylvania;where gloves were a requirement during the winter months, I didn't like wearing them.  My hands were either to hot, or to bulky, or I was not able to actually touch what ever I was working with, or grasp it.  I'm a very tactile person so I like having what ever I have actually in my hands.

My Walmart specials
Riding is a little different.  It took me a little bit to get used to but the idea of riding without gloves now is as foreign to me as diversity is to the Republican Party.  ATGATT is not just a phase, it just makes sense.  My gloves have come from the local Walmart and cost me about $20 a pair.  They had the finger protection on top, the padding in the palm and were light enough for me to not feel to bulky on my hands.  They were thin enough let me feel the grips under my hands and cool enough for the hot humid days that often dog us here in Florida.

So why change now?  Because I'm not sure if they provided the best protection.  They are not waterproof or windproof, meaning that they are pretty useless during the night time commutes during the winter months or in the rain.  Even the older gauntlet gloves I have for rain and my bulky winter gloves are going to have to be replaced eventually.  I may buy all three pairs at once if I find something that I like.  I understand how some bikers might have five, six, seven pairs of gloves depending on their needs.

The question is...what to look for?  I want a glove that works for me.  I want more protection than I felt I was getting before.  If I end up with three different pairs of gloves then so be it.  If I find a glove that is light, waterproof and comfortable then all the better.  I know it's also possible to get a little reflective piping in them as well, which considering my commute home at night, may be helpful

I also need a new pair of boots, the only issue I have there is steel toe or not.  They will be waterproof, have skid and oil resistant soles and be comfortable.  Padding up around the ankle is a good benefit.  I've worn enough work boots to know what size to get and what works for me.  I don't see the need, other than some calf protection, of buying traditional motorcycle boots.  I know many will disagree with me on that.

I bought my summer riding jacket off the net, and although I'm generally happy with it, I'm not sure if I would buy gear of the internet again.  Size and fit matter, comfort matters.  I've found my summer jacket to be a little big but all the protective padding is where it should be.  When your flying through the air at 70 MPH about to hit the concrete you want the padding to be in the right spot, protecting the right parts.  An elbow pad in the middle of your back is not doing any good for either your back or your elbow.

So what is the point of this post you may be asking?  I need to buy new gear.  I'm getting it from motorcycle shops where I can actually go and try things on.  It might be a little pricier but in the end I think I'll be a little more well a little better protected on the road.  That's all that matters in the end.  Coming home.

And Susan my long suffering girlfriend is going to have to find some more room in the closet for me.