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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Motivation to ride

"What motivates you?

My boss asked me that question yesterday.

I really did not have an answer ready.  "Well, I like to help people."

"Okay Ms. America and we all want world peace too...but answer the question.  Because if you don't know what motivates you how can you motivate someone else?"

It was a good and fair question.  It took me a bit of soul searching but in the end I found the answer.  What motivates me? 

Travel and movement.

I'm motivated by trying something different.  Seeing something different.  Personal growth if you want to call it that.  I'm not really motivated by money (despite owning my own business since 2008 and being in sales most of my life).    One of the best sales months I ever had was due to the promise of a exotic dinner at a restaurant I had never been to but only if I met a certain goal.

Money, like the computer or a car...or even my bike, is just a tool to help me achieve what I really want to do.  Which is to move and travel and see what is over that next hill, what is around that next bend.  The more I think about this...the more logical it becomes to me.

I may have grown up in Pittsburgh, PA but I went to school in Erie, PA and Slippery Rock, PA.  My family likes to joke that when my brother and I turned 18 , my parents said "We love you, now get out."  I guess those travel roots were put down early.

After college, I moved south as soon as I could and have spent time in Charleston, SC.  As well as living briefly outside of Savannah, GA.  It was not till I moved to Charlotte, NC (where I had a job that taught me something new everyday and often required me to travel through the south) that I was fully affected by the travel bug.

Since then I've been able to travel to the various islands in the Caribbean and a nations in Europe, Asia and South America.

I've traveled to New York City twice, Chicago twice, Las Vegas once.  I've touched down in nearly every state that touches the Atlantic Ocean.  Sue and I are planning on going back to Las Vegas sometime next year (a place she's never been) and our first trip to New Orleans.

If things work out in the long run, then Sue and I will be buying an RV and traveling the US and Canada once we retire. Well I may not be a fan of the idea of getting a trike or a Spyder, the reason I'm even considering it is because Sue wants even more stability when she rides with me.  Plus she knows that I would never ever forgive myself if I were in an accident with her on back.

I just have that travel bug, that need to see what is over the next hill, and my bike allows me to explore all those wonderful back roads near me.

Who was it that said "Four wheels move the body, but two wheels move the soul"?  They were certainly right.  As I look back on my "biking life" I've found that I've been happiest when I have a idea of where I want to go, but it's someplace that I've never been.  It's finding that small mom and pop cafe, or the old cemetery in between point A and B that intrigue me.  Sometimes getting there is more interesting than the final destination...and yes, I know what a cliche that is.  That motivates me to ride, it's just a shame that all I seem to do is ride back and forth to work, so is it any wonder why I'll chose a different path in sometimes?

Even the TV shows I enjoy watching (and I hate TV) are geared towards the exotic and unusual.  Travel shows, history and education predominately.  I used to think that one of the reasons that Jack Kerouac was my favorite author was do to his spontaneous prose, which is basically how I try to write...capturing that feeling of the moment without worrying about how it is structured.  Now in the light of this revelation, I can not help but wonder if it was his nearly neurotic need to be constantly in movement?

Yea, the more I think about this the more I think that my job is just a means to an end.  I need that gas money, I need that hotel room...but that getting away from work is why I work.  That desire to travel is strong in me.

After all, the world is always a more interesting place 50 miles from where your at.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The rider I've become

We all make compromises.  I thought about that last night as I took a slightly different way home.

It would take me slightly longer to get home but I would not have to deal with red lights or traffic, neither of which I was in the mood for.  As I made a left turn to put me on that path; a guy wearing flip flops, no helmet, no jacket and no gloves pulled out in front of me safely.

He was on a little scooter.  I'm not sure of the make or model.  His feet hanging off the sides of the bike either for balance or because he was an idiot.  I'm not sure which.

"Dude, put your feet up!" I yelled over at him at one of the few red lights on this route.  He gave me a stupid unknowing grin as I turned right and he went straight.

That same night I was passed by something known in the biking community as a "squid."  I was asked about that term once.  I defined it as a idiot biker.  Someone who when they go down...and they will go down...will leave a long black inky spot on the road.

I'm not saying that I'm the perfect rider.  I've not always gone ATGATT, although I always were my helmet.  I rarely wear my riding boots, although I know I should.  They, sadly, have come in handy the two times I've been involved in accidents.  I've compromised my safety because I'm required to have "casual dress" at work most days.  My boots, although comfortable, are not meant for a business environment.  Loafers or dress shoes it is.

I am normally just wearing a thin layer of gabardine, that is all that separates me from the road.  A compromise between the requirements of my job and my safety.

So when I see the weekend Harley riders out with no helmets and jackets I grumble at them.  When I see that kid and his girl on the rocket with her bare legs exposed I scoff.

I wonder if I have that right.
Hard to believe that was once me.
Still though, I'm not the rider that I used to be.  I've come a long way since I used to pull off the side of the road to let cars pass me by coming home from work early in the morning.

The young man that got on the scooter to save gas money, and who may have been having a small mid life crisis too, has grown up.  Today I pass with confidence.  I'm used to riding highways and busy city streets.  I've ridden in less than ideal situations and down bumpy dirt roads.

Even though the Lovely Susan may not like it, I've grown used to taking a few different ways into and out of work to mix up my ride.  If it were up to her, I would take the same way in and out every day just so she could find me in case of an accident.

I've got to get better at riding though.  I still make errors, sometimes I let my mind engage other thoughts and I am not concentrating as much as I should be on the road ahead.  I have to remind myself to check my mirrors now and again because something could be catching up to me, especially on those long straightaways that Florida is known for.  I need to become a better rider.

Experience builds that of course,and I also know that it just takes a car stopping up short or pulling out in front of me to ruin my day.   After nearly five years of riding and blogging...I realize I still have so much to learn. 

I've told Susan that I'm done if I have one more accident.  I'm serious about that.

I'm still not a fan of the little 50 cc scoots that I see in and around town, and I would still argue that a bike with a minimum of 125 CC is needed in the city.   I don't care what it looks right.  Just ride it and ride it well.

What I am sure of is my next bike will most likely be a Honda CTX  If Sue gets her way then we are going to get either a trike or a Spyder RT.  Neither of which I really have any desire for, my choice being the CTX.  However as Sue gets stronger (she is recovering slowly from a variety of ailments) there is a good chance that we may start to tour.  For that, we need something built for comfort and stability.  Either model would require adjustment on my part...but either would work.

Who knows, I never thought I would fall in love with my Kimmie either.

All I know is that I plan on riding safely for a long time to come. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sending Scooter Bob on...

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life - and travel - leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart - are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”  - Anthony Bourdian


Bob is showing his age, his bumps and bruises are there for all to see.  I pack him in a box being sure to wrap in up in bubble wrap and store him in packing peanuts.  I can see where repairs have been made, I had to make one myself to his rear wheel.  His next destination is set and I take a few minutes to wish him well as I pack a little token of his adventures here in Tampa snugly beside him.  



I am not sure what I expected to happen when I first signed up for this, it was over two years ago after all and I never met the man.  He was however one of the first to reply to what I was writing and that encouraged me to keep writing a blog about my motorcycling adventures. A subject I'm sure some would claim that I knew nothing (and still know nothing) about.  I suppose this was my way of honoring that memory.


Tokens from around the world


I didn't get to do everything I wanted to do with him either.  However Susan is right, with my work schedule (I work till 8 PM most nights and own a small business on the side) and the current level of craziness that is our lives, it's better to send him on to the next person.  The riding seasons will change quickly in some parts of the country.  Besides if I managed to do everything that I wanted to do with him, I would have him for another month or two. Maybe three.

Its better to send him on, although he was becoming part of the family.  


Tipper (black) and Sparky (brown) with Scooter Bob


He did get me out though on the bike.  He did allow me to explore a little bit some places that I may have gotten to eventually, or maybe never explored at all.  I suppose that is what this is all about.  


We had a death in the family recently which lead to my scrambling to go home to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently.  I was there more for moral support as my Susan and her daughter made arrangements, said their goodbye's...and buried a man I liked and respected.   During this time I also celebrated my 50th birthday, with the sad realization that the days ahead of me are less numerous than the days behind me.  I might as well make them worth living.


Scooter Bob didn't get kissed by a mermaid...nor did he see Bok Towers or the wondrous collection of puns (and found artwork) that is Solomon's Castle.    What matters however is the symbolism of Scooter Bob.  He connects a bunch of strangers who enjoy motorcycling, blogging and living life to the fullest.  He takes us out of our comfort zone.  Sometimes that is enough.  That is the brotherhood of two wheels. That is family.  


Bob picking out places he would have liked to visit. 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Visiting the Mantee's

Bob and I goof off some.
I have been to the Manatee visitor center several times.   It's one of my "Go to" places when we have friends and family visit us here in Florida.

Thanks to
Manatee's are sometimes called "Sea Cows" but are actually related more to elephants than cows.  They are slow moving creatures that have no natural predators and are more likely to be hurt by speeding boats and man than anything in the water.  Frankly when under the water it's very easy to see them as big rocks, since they normally just lie there on the bottom eating.

According to legend they were the basis of mermaids.  To quote a friend of mine, "How lonely would you need to be or how much rum would you need to drink to mistake a Manatee for a women?"

They are also endangered, having to stay within a narrow band of water temperatures to thrive and survive, in fact they will die if the water temperature falls below 60 F (15 C).  This is one of the reasons why they are generally found only in Florida and often in hot springs or areas of warm water.   This is what makes the Manatee Visitor center so interesting, the Big Bend power plant is required to pump the warm water it generates back into the bay.  So it's not uncommon to find up to a  hundred or so of these "sea cows" in the water near the plant.

Sue and Scooter Bob
It's also not uncommon to hear people complain about the power plant because they don't realize the symbiotic relationship.

The lovely Sue decided to tag along today since it was a lovely day for riding.  Sadly the water was murky and we did not see much in the way of sea cows.  

Nor did we spend time on the nature trails that surround the center.  You have seen one Mangrove you have seen them all.  We did spend a little bit of time in the Education center and gift shop, where the story of Scooter Bob was again told to the staff, one of whom got goose bumps hearing the story.

Bob spends a little bit of time in the education center
Checking out how the manatee's are identified.  Sadly each scar is man-made

Not life size but a close approximation

He kept singing "Them bones" on the way home.
Small, medium and "oh my God"