Sunday, December 2, 2007

Return to riding - now I'm old

I went through some personal stuff and found my self single and over forty with a lot of time on my hands and not much in the way of a social life. I was friendly with folks I worked with and not too unhappy with life but I got to thinking it was time to figure out what I really liked to do and who I liked to hang out with. After a bit of thought I realized that I liked the same things at forty something as I liked when I was five - a bald head, cowboy boots, and motorcycles. The bald head and cowboy boots took my co-workers a minute to get used to and now it's time to go bike shopping.

I looked at cruisers but most of the guys I saw on cruisers seemed to be trying to project an image - I just want to ride. I had really liked the GPz and the Nighthawk S and wanted something along the same lines a sporty standard if you will. I also wanted something a bit off the mainstream. Long story short I found myself at Bogart's Motorsports looking for a Triumph Sprint RS. They didn't have one, but they did a have a Roulette Green Speed Triple. It was love at first sight and the bike was a leftover 2003 so the price was right.

Now I have to admit to a habit of doing lifestyle experiments and this seemed like a good opportunity. I sold my car on the theory that the least safe way to ride a motorcycle is 'infrequently.' Having only the bike ensured that I would ride enough to get and maintain my skill set and I resolved to go for a year with just the two wheeled transport.

By this time I'm bald, booted, and biked so I thought I would look for some folks to hang out with that might be interested in some of the same things as me. This had been a bit of an issue since coming to Alabama because it would be fine with me if both Alabama and Auburn could lose the Iron Bowl at the same time. I went online and found a website for the Floribamariders. The name seemed more than a little Redneck but I went to their monthly meeting, met some good folks and joined the club.

Here's an email I posted to the Floribamariders after my first abortive attempt at a group ride.

Dispatch from Squidville

So I am riding along having a great time enjoying the road and the pace - thinking to myself Hey this is great! I'm not even tempted to ride over my head but I am not getting left in the dust either.THEN! I am thinking - why is is that guys helmet going up and down? - Why is he in the grass? Why is Susan going like 20 mph slower than me and turning left?Can't run into her! Sure don't want to hit that Church sign. I think I'll just go between it and the big pile of dirt. Going too fast though S*** S*** S***. I am sliding on my face - that sure happened fast. Damn, I'll bet I broke my bike. How friggin' embarrassing!Anyway, on the long solitary ride home I had plenty of time to think about what happened and how to prevent it from happening again. First, I was watching the rider ahead of the rider in front of me so that I would know where the road was going - Gotta watch the road no matter what and choose your own path!!! When the two riders in front of me went in different directions Iowas CONFUSED. Bad state to be in on a bike. Second,if you do "Go Moto" it is a really bad idea to use the brakes hard - I am pretty sure from the marks in the grass and a re-playing of the event in my mind that I locked both wheels, got slammed to the ground and made my old bones sore. Plus I did break my bike though it remains ridable. Floribama Riders - Did a great job of making sure I was O.K. bungeeing the front of my bike back on and getting me on the right path home. Thank You!Damage to the bike - surprisingly little. Both front headlights and their mounting bracket are toast. The Triple-Trees are twisted (anyone know how to fix that cheap?) there are a couple of nicks in the tank and the face of the Tach is cracked. Plus I broke the Flyscreen.Damage to me - I feel like an idiot, I scraped my knee(armor might have been useful - I was wearing Blue-Jeans), I am pretty sore and that will probably be worse tomorrow. Not too bad considering.Ride Safe,Mike Coon

More tomorrow.

Thanks for reading - Mike

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bigger bikes and the long hiatus

I left off lamenting the fact that I was stupid when I was young and didn't fully avail myself of the riding opportunities in Europe.

The GPz made the trip back with me but I had been looking at a Magazine Ad for the Nighthawk S for several months so of course the first think I did on my return was to find a leftover 1984 model in Black and Red. That Honda was a revelation in terms of power, handling, and braking. The GPz was no slouch but the Nighthawk steered so much better and had a nice power hit at around 7k rpms. I got three tickets in the first couple of months and had to go to defensive driving school in addition to suffering through lectures from my boss, his boss, and the OIC of our unit. Remember this was still the days of the nation wide 55mph speed limit and the Nighthawk was not that much fun crawling around at 55. I bought a Red 1985 VW GTI and rode the bike when the weather was nice or a girl wanted a ride. I also took a few long trips including some thousand mile days and the bike just plain worked - I got really spoiled by shaft drive, hydraulic lifters, and the - rare for bikes - spin on oil filter.

Eventually I got married and started having children. After the second child was born there was no time for bikes and I spent about thirteen years with no bike and missing riding every time I saw one.

Next time the return and then I can start on something interesting.

Thanks for reading - Mike

Friday, November 30, 2007

First Post

I've decided to do a blog about motorcycling in addition to Mike on IT Stuff. I started riding bicycles when I was four, like so many others and thought that having a bike and the freedom to range around town was the best thing ever. When I was five my Granddad came home with a new Honda CL350. The image of chrome pipes gleaming in the bright Utah sun has stayed with me for over forty years. He took me for a ride and I can still feel the way the wind tickled my crew-cut as I put my hands on the tank. He went through a few ever larger Honda's and I got to ride with him on all of them till we moved away when my Dad returned from Tailand.

I didn't get on another bike till around the seventh grade when a friend of mine somehow got his hands on an old pot-metal honda of some sort. Moto-cross was huge for us in those days, we would draw CZ and Butaco emblems on our notebooks and dream of being Roger DeCosta. That whole deal - the bike, not the fantasy - was short lived because the little bike literally fell apart when faced with the abuse of three twelve year olds. I was living in Hawaii at the time and skateboarding was just blowing up so we turned our attention to skating, surfing, and trying to get girls to talk to us.

After I joined the service at eighteen I bought a beater Honda 350 twin with bowling ball hard tires and a leaky tank. I rode that thing all over Fort Worth, revved out and screaming through the rusted out pipes. Finally it gave up the ghost right in front of the Kawasaki dealer and I bought a brand new 1980 LTD 440 - pull back bars, fat rear tire, low slung seat. After changing the bars to some from a KZ 550 and complaining about the pegs being too far forward the dealer dude helpfully steered me to a new for 1981 GPz 550 in the only color available - arrest me red.

I loved the GPz. I rode it all over Texas and eventually from Texas to South Carolina to ship it to Germany where I rode in the snow, dragged my pegs, the Kerker pipe, and eliminated the heartbreak of chicken-strips. I'll chock up to the foolishness of youth that I didn't do more motorcycle travel the three years I was in Europe.

I'll post more later.

Thanks for reading - Mike