Sometimes the weather is not going to be perfect but you just have to put on your big boy pants and take the ride anyway. I actually suffer from “I get really cold quick” aliment, so getting cold is a real issue. I rode for about 4 hours, the outside temperature was about 46 degrees. The fact is that I was cold for most of the trip but I could have dressed warmer. Half way through the trip I changed into some warmer cold weather gear that helped. Despite the cold the ride was splendid but did not realize how cold I was till I got back home. I ate lunch under a blanket but was still cold afterwards so I thawed myself in a warm shower for about twenty minutes. Then I took a nice long needed nap. I just got off a 30 day work tour (30 days with no days off, out of state employment) so when I get home, I often find that my body uses the time to rest up before I head out of state to work another 30 day tour. If I don’t put on some serious miles on my bike when I am home, I get cranky which no one likes. Everything about the ride was grand and I was able to test out my new SHAD Trunk which I installed on Tuesday. This Trunk Rocks. It took me about an hour to install mostly b/c I am mechanically inept. For most people, it would be a 30 minute job. I purchased the largest case (SH 50) they had along with the mounting bracket for the Yamaha FJR. The trunk came with a rear passenger back rest and sophisticated locking mechanism, both pre-installed. The quality of the product exceeded my expectations. I was thinking the trunk its self would be fragile and loose fitting but this was not the case. The thing is engineered like an Abrams Tank. If there is a downside it would be the weight of the trunk but that is not an issue for me. The best part of design is that it takes about 30 seconds to release the Trunk and you have your light weight motorcycle back to its original specks. The trunk its self can easily carry two full face helmets with room to spare. What I like about it is that I can carry my fragile electronics in the trunk without having to worry about them. In fact I use a pelican case to hold my laptop for work and it fits in there as well. So with the exception of the hyperthermia the ride was a success.
The world has so many stereotypes, it’s an unfortunate human practice of generalities. I am not big fan of generalizations but the reality is that stereotypes exist and there are some people who believe that these stereotypes are more fact then fiction. One such stereotype is the negative perception that some people have towards motorcyclist. It is funny because I work in Corporate America and people will ask how my weekend was and I say, “Awesome, I rode my cycle all weekend. It was great”. These same people will often look at me like I have the plague. The first thing they will often say is, “Do you dress up in a Black Leather Jacket and Chaps and ride to the bar and get into bar fights?” Well the only thing leather I own is an old pair of military issued leather gloves and don’t remember the last time I drove my motorcycle to a bar. There are a ton of different motorcyclist out there; all of us our individuals with different attributes, ambitions and dreams. We do all share a passion for riding but we all don’t fit the stereotype of the Sons of Anarchy (great show by the way and if you do fit the Sons of Anarchy Stereotype then good for you for fighting against the man). I will say this about bikers, I have never met a group of people who proactively endeavor to be helpful and charitable to those around them. This can be seen by bikers assisting other bikers with mechanical issues on the roadways and the hundreds of charity runs that occur every weekend for thousands of different causes. In many ways my previous sentence was kind of a generalization but it was positive and well intentioned so I am sticking to it. I am proud to be a biker!
I have been away from my cycle for 4 long months as she has been in a long winter’s hibernation. The weather turned nice enough to melt the frozen tundra and as if to slap me in the face, work called me away to a far off place. Whenever it gets nice out, work knows to give me tasks many states away from my home and bike in a constant ugly quest to keep me off my cycle. Only a few days to get back and the Two Tires call my name like the mythical sirens of old. Those gorgeous dangerous and passionate sirens wreaked havoc upon those that were not aware of their murderous intentions. Hopefully my motorcycle only has positive ideas of adventurers and fun in mind for me.
Like every year, it is my goal to complete my 1000 mile trek to earn the coveted Iron Butt Award. Last year it escaped me when my Harley broke down approximately 300 miles from my objective. This year I will attempt it with a Yamaha and a totally different style bike. My FJR is a sports tour but I did put some highway mounted engine pegs as well as risers on the bars to give it some additional comfort. I am wondering what the comfort level will be on long jaunts with the FJR? The year before last I tried to complete another Iron Butt Trek but a massive storm system projected Cadillac size hail out of the sky like a meteor apocalypse which stopped me in my tracks in South Carolina. I remember it was 11pm and I hid in a bank drive through in an attempt to save my bike and my life from getting shelled by those sky fall projectiles.
So I am pretty psyched about some changes I made to my FJR. Because I am not as bendable as I used to be, I added two huge comfort items to my bike. First I installed some Engine Mounted Foot Pegs on the bike so that I can extend my legs while on long rides (look at the attached photo above and you will see two sets of driver foot pegs on the cycle). I got the Highway Pegs from MotorcycleLarry.com and they appear to be top-notch accessories. We’ll see how they hold up over the next 6 months but I can tell you the foot pegs are placed in that perfect spot forward on the cycle that hopefully spells comfort on long rides. I also added 1 ¼ inch risers on the front handlebars. The sitting position seems just right but only time will tell. With the highway pegs and risers, the FJR is becoming that Touring Sports Machine of my Dreams. Now to find a rear touring trunk to mount and I should be good to go.
I don’t know why but I find joy in making a motorcycle into a faultless reflection of me. The FJR was perfect because when I bought it the cycle was more than 4 years old but had less than 900 miles on it. So I got this great wondrous ride which was barely used. It felt like the bike did not have a personality yet and I could help mold it to what it wanted to be. I know it’s crazy but I truly feel that some worldly items have their own persona or vibe. Motorcycles definitely exhibit this quality as do guns, cars and even houses. Have you ever walked into a home and did not feel good about being there, so made an excuse to leave. Those are the negative vibes emanating from the house which cause you to make a change in your environment and get out of dodge. I feel cars and motorcycles carry around the same vibe, be it positive or negative. In the Army we used to refer to these positive or negative vibes as being Good Juju or Bad Juju. For example, if we confiscated an AK-47 that felt dirty, evil and wrong, we might say something like, “the weapon had some Bad Juju”. One rule in combat operations that I still remember today is to never mess with the Juju. If you’re feeling something in your gut then no matter what act on it before it’s too late. Of course if you get too caught up in the Juju then you may never want to leave your house. It goes both ways; there is definitely some positive Juju out there as well. Have you ever just held a football or baseball and it just felt right but not because you love the sport, just because holding the item felt positive? If so then that is an example of good Juju.
Anyway, I am feeling rather positive about my ride and spring as well. It’s time to start planning for some serious miles. Let the Ride Continue…..
Down below is a photo I took while traveling along the NJ Coast. That Hurricane Sandy caused a serious mess. I am still sending those affected some positive vibes and well wishes.
Riding is like eating a pepperoni, banana and green olive pizza. Its fulfilling, makes your mouth water, and reminds you that good things happen every day. Sometimes we just need a little reminder that life is grand. Everyone gets in a bad mood; it’s just a fact of life. The trick is to find ways to uplift the mind and body when you’re down. For me getting on my cycle does the trick every time. It sounds crazy but helping others is a huge pick me up as well. Positive kind acts normally benefits the gifter much more than the receiver. Now combine the Feel Good Power of Charity along with Riding and you have one potent endorphin rush, hence the popularity of Benefit Rides.
Don’t be a Sad Panda, participate in Local and National Biker Benefit Rides and get happy. Doing so defines the phrase, “Win, Win Situation”.
In New York State alone more than 10,000 tickets were issued to drivers from 14Dec12-31Dec2012. These violations included speeding tickets, seat belt violations, DWI Arrests and other such driving violations. I love to speed on my cycle but understand why the rules of the road need to be enforced. I wish the police would spend less time on enforcing speeding offenses and go after individuals who Text While Driving. I have no data on this but I have to believe that trying to spell out words on a little phone while driving 65 MPH is much more dangerous than speeding. I think the penalty for texting while driving should be just as severe as DWI. This may seem rather harsh but that’s how dangerous I feel the texting threat is while on the open road. People who text while driving suffer from TACS (Texting Ass Clown Syndrome). Help stop TACS, and put your phone down while driving.
I guess I am a bit of a hypocrite b/c I believe that speeding offenses should be less harsh. To go beyond that I don’t believe we should have speed limits on many major American highways.
So what do you feel is more dangerous, Texting While Driving or Speeding?
I do know one thing. If I am going to get pulled over I would rather get a ticket from a Motorcycle Patrol Unit rather than a normal Patrol Car.
My first motorcycle was a Yamaha Seca 11 (I owned it so long ago that I can’t remember the year it was). Then I rode a 2003 Honda Shadow until I switched to a 2010 Harley Davidson FXD. My present ride is a 2008 Yamaha . I am not sure what bike I like the best. They all had good attributes and did what they were designed to do without major issues. The Yamaha Seca tended to break down a bit but I blame that on the fact that it was trashed when I purchased it. I only had 900 dollars to spend on a bike and that was the one cycle I could afford. The fairing was falling off, so I made it into a naked street fighter of sorts. I tried to bolt on a front headlight which only worked half the time and I remember tearing up a canyon in Colorado when my front clutch lever fell off during a sweeping curve. What I loved most about the Seca was it gave me an opportunity to ride for the first time in my life.
When I got back from overseas with the Military, I bought a 2003 Honda Shadow 750 ACE. This bike was bullet proof and made me wish that I could be so brilliant as to design a motorcycle with such a miraculous service record. In 6 years of riding not once did I ever have to mess with that bike? My Harley was a dream come true but for some reason I felt an itch that I needed to try another out another bike which brought me to my FJR.
In the end, I don’t feel that I will ever find the perfect motorcycle or the picture-perfect style bike. As one grows, one changes and transforms their likes and dislikes. For me this is a daily synthesis. I will always want to be open to new ideas, styles and change. Sometimes for me comfort is the priority, other times it is agility and performance, then one can never overlook functionality and reliability. All I can say is that I doubt I will ever find that perfect bike but on that note, I can also safely say that I will never come across a motorcycle that I truly dislike. The important thing is to be grateful for the opportunity to ride and feel fortunate to have what you got. It’s a New Year and I wish all of you safe travels. Let the ride continue!