Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year end wrap up

It's becoming a little tradition here that I look back over the past year and review some of the highlights and the low moments.

First the highlights of 2014:


Well there was

How about?   No, not that either.

I did manage to go home in April to my beloved City of Bridges but even that was a bittersweet time for me, as I realized just how much things change.

In all honestly the year was not that bad.  Sue and I did get to go to the Pumpkin Festival which ended up being one of the better memories of the year for us.

I made some new friends thanks to a slow ride, but sadly plans to ride with them again have fallen through, hopefully in the new year I'll be able to.  I'm sure I'll be able to.

Overall though the past year just seems to be wash.  I learned some lessons and had some success, at the same time the failures and mistakes I made cost me.  I'm spending the night inside, cleaning up and doing laundry.  It feels right in a way, to end the year by organizing and tidying up.  

The end of the year mileage on Kimmy was 21,736 miles (34,981 KM).  So in twelve months I only managed 6,534 miles (10,515 KM).  I know that is more miles than a lot of riders put on in year.  Still though it's about half of what I normally do.  Most of it was just commuting as well.

Well it's a new year, new challenges and adventures await.  I'm not promising anything, but I think the year is full of promise.

Happy New Year my friends.  May it be a safe one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays and an update....

First Off....Happy Holiday's from the Wilson household.  We wish you and yours a safe and happy New Year

Now on with this weeks exciting adventure:

I thought Kimmie was dead.  She had been sitting for two weeks or so, absolutely not turning over until I had to move some boxes into the nearby shed, so I had to move the bike.  Guess who turned over.

I took her out Saturday afternoon, it was a beautiful day in the low 70's (20's C), and she run fine.  The only issue I had is a persistent hacking cough which I was afraid I would aggravate if I rode to long, to far.  So I put a little under 50 miles on her and called it a day.  Sunday it rained all day, so I didn't do any riding at all.

The new battery arrived late Saturday afternoon but due to other commitments it seemed unlikely that I would be able to install it till after the Christmas holiday. Not that I expected to get that much riding in between now and the end of the year.  Partially due to weather, for example we were expecting a 90% chance of rain as I sit and type this.  Partially due to whatever illness I had still lingered in my system.

Still though I was looking forward to getting the battery installed and moving down the road.  2014 generally speaking was a long and hard year for me.  The new battery, a new heart for Kimmie represented new opportunity...and a new mechanical skill to put under my proverbial tool belt.  The next job will most likely be the CVT belt.

I did decide however to try and ride her as much as I could between now and the new year.  I'm not sure how many miles I put on her in 2014, all I do know is that they were not enough.  I will never understand how someone can let a bike sit, and this year it seemed that Kimmie did a lot of sitting.

So yes, I'm looking forward to next year.  I'm looking forward to putting a few more thousands of miles on Kimmie.  I'm looking for what ever comes our way.  :P

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

and just like that....the riding year ends.

Wrapped up and put away.
It was nothing serious.  No crash. No accident.  No fires, earthquakes or plagues of locusts.

It was something I had sensed for some time.  It started when I put my battery on a tender back on Saturday, August 9, 2014.   My battery died.  There is still enough power to turn it over, to make the lights glow...but not enough to have Kimmie roar to life in a way I've become familiar.

A few nights earlier I rode to work on the highway, something I don't like to do, because I was running late...I was late anyway.  A wreck blocked two lanes of the three lane highway and some idiot prevented me from skittering down the shoulder.  Normally I would not do such a thing or even consider it, but I was running late.

So here I am, sitting in traffic...and I stall.  I start, stall, start, stall.  Eventually I get the bike into an open enough area to maintain a speed about 2000 on the tachometer and it holds steady.  I get to work an hour late.  That night, she starts up and away I go.

A few nights where the temperatures fall into the freezing range is all it takes.  She tries, really tries but the heart, the battery, is just not up to the task anymore.  

Then comes a very bad week or two.  Two hospital visits (one involving the lovely Sue which turned out to be a minor issue).  A bout of the flu.  A temporary change for two weeks of my work location to an area of town that frankly I did not feel safe driving my car in, especially after nearly being hit twice in said car.  

No riding probably till close to the end of the year.  Maybe not till the new year.

Sure it be easy to run out and buy a battery or even have the local mechanics pop it in. I considered it, but frankly it was what I needed to push Sue's Christmas gifts into the realm of free shipping on Amazon.  By the time I receive that battery it will be the Holidays.  Another week...another delay...another few days without having my bike under me.

Not the best way to close out 2014, although generally speaking the year SUCKED.  I will not be sad to see it go.

First there was the crash in early January.  Which, while relatively harmless in it's own right, did bring about a lingering injury that kept me off the bike for months.  It also exposed an underlying non-crash medical issue that required treatment.  It was not life threatening but suddenly I find that I am very, very mortal.

It would not be till May when I finally started riding again on a regular basis.  While glad to be back on my beloved Kimmie I was tentative.  The love I used to have for riding just wasn't there.  Although I would regain that love only a few months took longer than I would have liked.

My job did not help as they had me running back and forth between Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida at least three different times for weeks at a time.  I wasn't happy however as I found others with less experience being promoted above me and other issues.  But I stayed and pushed for a better job and more responsibility.

Little did I know that I would be changing jobs in October anyway when a job offer paying 15% more annually (with bonuses) and the title of Assistant Manager fell into my lap.  I have to admit though.  I have questioned my choice to take that job ever since, as the position is stressful and I'm not sure if the job has a good support structure.  Somehow I never pictured being a cubicle farmer was in my future.

In the last month or so it's just been small things, like having to report to another site for two weeks in an area best reached by car.  After this training my shift changes again, back to a more familiar 1 PM to 10 PM, back to empty streets.

I took this job because I understood I would work days only.  Not nights, but I can not complain, I'm still the low man on the totem pole.

So here's to 2014!  May it be better than the last!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas comes early. A review of the Freeze Out jacket and gloves - part 1 of two thing

Okay, it's not THAT bad.
Do not let anyone tell you that Florida does not get cold.

While its true that we don't suffer from sub zero temperatures, or snow and ice for days and weeks on end.  It is a different type of cold.  Our high humidity and often windy conditions make it feel colder than it actually is and that is one of the reasons why hypothermia deaths are so high in Florida.

Despite being born in Pennsylvania I've never grown to like winter or the cold.  While I often joke about it, the truth of the matter is that I always knew I would go south.  The first chance I got after college away I went, and I have never looked back.

While I am no longer commuting back and forth at 1 to 2 AM in the middle of the night, I still have to commute in the dark and at night particularly this time of year.  I am also commuting further and in different types of traffic than I have before.  This is more of a "stop and go" traffic pattern followed by rural stretches at a higher speed.  When I was traveling home in the middle of the night, if I got cold I could easily pull over and add another layer (often I would pull a pair of sweat pants on to keep the legs warm).  Now, sadly, this may not be possible and or dangerous for me to do.

With that in mind Susan bought me three early Christmas presents.  We traveled down to the brick and motor Cycle Gear warehouse (which I admit I forgot was even in Tampa) and she bought me the Freeze Out jacket and gloves.  Of course the temperatures, which had been in the low 40's (5 to 7 C) during the day jumped into the mid 70's (mid 20's C) the second I bought the jacket and gloves.

So, here was the test.  I would wear my normal "summer mesh" jacket to work during the day and wear the Freeze Out jacket home.  The gloves were designed to go under my Fox riding gloves.  The lows for the coming week were predicted to be in the mid 50's (about 12 C), while this would not be much of a test it would at least give me an idea of how the new gear would feel when then temperature dropped even more in January and February.  Of course the temps this whole week were higher than that. 

So much for that idea.

Based on what I read from various forums the gear kept most of the riders warm into the high 30's without much issue.  I was looking for two things.  One:  Would I be chilled when I got home.  While the temperatures involved where not "cold", they were cool.  Would I arrive home feeling like I did not leave the office at all.  Two:  How comfortable would the gear be?  I was particularly interested in how the gloves would feel, as I don't like wearing gloves at all, but know what my hands needed protection.

I guess these things would have to wait. 

The other gift she bought me however was put to use immediately  She bought me a Bilt bike cover as well.  While the bike sits at home it is actually pretty well protected from the elements.  However when I am at work it's not.  This may come in handy when I'm parked there, however so far I've not taken it to work.  For now I believe I'll just continue to  use it at home.