Saturday, November 29, 2008

If only for an hour or so

Sometimes I simply get in this overwhelming funk.  My thoughts about the lives of those I hold dear and the seemingly desperate situations that each faces drives me to a sense of nothingness. At times like this, I simply get done only what absolutely needs done.  Even so, I go with the motion but I am not experiencing life.  

However, I am so grateful for all that I get to experience.  The high today was a cloudy 43 and deep inside the desire to ride wrestled with the funkiness.  11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00 but I couldn't get up and go.  3:00 came with the thought that it is so late (getting dark by 4:30) that I shouldn't even bother.  Yet, by 3:10 I put the dogs up, geared up in leather chaps, the heavy leather riding jacket, Gerbings glove but nothing connected.  I topped off the Connie and stayed on back roads south of the south suburbs of Chicago.  At one point, I purposely rode awhile on gravel.  The Connie doesn't track very well in gravel and feels cumbersome.  Yet, riding on gravel is something to challenge my sense of comfort with.

I got home around 4:45, a little chilled on the outside.  But my soul was fed by the road and the landscape.  It was a good ride. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

UI Motorcycle Rider Program Banquet

The end of the season banquet for the MRP at the U of I was held this last Saturday at the DoubleTree in Alsip, IL. I missed the banquet last year because we were experiencing raining sheets of ice on the day of the banquet which was being held 120 miles away in Champaign. This was the first banquet I have attended after only teaching for 2 seasons. This was the largest banquet for the program with over 200 people in attendance.

5-6 was the social hour with two free drink tickets. I was able to enjoy a Sam Adams and a different Honey Ale during this period. At 6:00 the feasting began. My wife was surprise how good the way. We were expecting a pasta dish, plain iceberg lettuce, etc... There was plenty of everything including Fried Chicken and Barbecued Ribs.

After everyone was stuffed, the guest speaker talked about problems with the current state of motorcycle training. He turned out to be David Hough of Proficient Motorcycling fame. He recently finished a second updated edition of Proficient Motorcycling, of which each instructor was given a copy. Now I have something to read over the winter months.

After the guest speaker, awards for all types of things were given. Button for various accumulations of students taught (100, 200, 300, .....). Much respect for those in the thousands. I was overlooked as I didn't get any buttons but have taught over 300 students in my first two seasons. This season's total for me was 212. It just gave me something to give the administrators a hard time about.

Best of all was being able to see and talk with other instructors. Yes I am going through a little withdrawal after teaching 22 classes this season. I only taught with one person twice. Each instructor provided at least one new thing for me to incorporate in my own instruction.

Customer Appreciation

I attend a customer appreciation party at my local MC shop Chicago Sports and Cycle (CSC) Friday night. Customers who spend more that a $1,000 were invited to the event. The temperature was about 30 degrees Friday evening. Since I only live 15 minutes away from the shop, I decided to ride the Connie to the event. Turns out that I was the only person who rode in, which facilitated many thumbs up from other riders that I knew.

CSC did a great job with the sustenance and really worked hard to let the customers feel like out business with them is appreciated. This goes hand in hand with what I have heard from them. You won't get the cheapest deal on there bikes compared to some other shops, but their prices are reasonable. It's there service that keeps us the customers happy. As a non-mechanic MC rider, I have had plenty of questions over the last three years. The staff have always taken the time to explain stuff to me and have built a sincere level of trust, at least with me.

My major purchase with CSC this year was a renewal of my prepaid maintenance program. In October, I paid $1,100 to cover any scheduled maintenance needs of the Connie for the next 3 years. This covers all scheduled services. The Connie gets services every 3 thousand miles with a valve adjustment every six thousand miles. The average person with this plan gets 1 service a year while I am averaging 3 a year. So for the shop it balances out. It doesn't cover wear and tear, but during the maintenance, they catch things early before they could become a problem for me on the road.

I admit that I lust over BMWs. But when I consider the level of support and prepaid maintenance plans, I will probably always buy the 4 Japanese brands that CSC sells.

Thanks to Kathi Wolf and the rest of the CSC staff.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Giving the Gerbings their first try

I recently purchased Gerbings G3 gloves and a jacket liner. After the jacket liner arrived, we had an abnormally warm stretch of weather. Now we are experiencing abnormal cold weather. Sunday afternoon was cold (31 degrees), damp, and cloudy. I donned my Gerbings and my other riding gear. The jacket liner really puts out the heat. The liner was warm around my neck and back. The way the liner fits, it was not in contact with my front side.

Lesson number #1, wear a snug vest or shirt over top of the jacket liner to get heated from the front. The jacket liner really puts out the heat. The liner was warm around my neck and back. The way the liner fits, it was not in contact with my front side.

Lesson #2, be reasonable. At 70 mph, the hand and upper body was fine. But the vents on the head allowed the wicked damp cold in. Then there was the freezing feet. Add to this was riding farther than I should have, around 70 miles. My body was starting to get confused with very warm and very cold being experienced.

Ultimate lesson is that the Gerbings will make weather that I normally would ride in for short period or even longer rides more comfortable. Say a round trip ride to Champaign in the Mid-40s. They won't make me superman.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dreaming of Colorado

My big MC trip last year was to my Uncle's in Parker, Colorado. The day after my wife flew home to Illinois, I thought that I would take a little day ride. My uncle Chris went over the map with my to pick out a little route. He didn't realize how far the ride actual was until I got back that evening. I left around 9 and was back by 5.

View Larger Map

Quite simply one of the best rides of my life so far. Seeing the sand dunes with the mountains as a backdrop was one highlight. Yes I did get wet on the ride.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Concours 14

I have the original Concours. It was produced from 1986-2006. I got mine new in 2005 for $8000 out the door. At the time, it really was the best deal out there for my first motorcycle. The Connie will be the primary steed for at least the next 3 years. Looking forward, maybe its successor, the Concours 14 would be the likely next ride. There is a good NYTimes article on the Concours 14.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Politics and motorcycles

The ecstasy of the Obama Presidency reminds me of most motorcycle rides. Life is good on the open road riding the Concours. Eventually the ride comes to an end and I face the realities of life. The election of Obama is just as wonderful. Like the end of the ride, the election is over and now is the time to face the realities of life. Life is hard, but my own and our country life is good.

I enjoyed an evening ride home after work. Nov 4th, 8:00 p.m., 63 degrees in Chicago. Again, life is good.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Douglas Michigan

November 3rd and today's fore casted high was to be in the upper 70's. My friend Paul was at his recently purchased weekend home in Douglas through tomorrow and had already encouraged me to take a ride up to see the place. He knows that it wouldn't take much for me to burn another day vacation. How many more days will we have like this.

The 125 mile ride from Homewood, IL to Douglas, MI was perfect. The sky was clear and the traffic was moderate. The traffic thinned out as I rode around Michigan City, IN on I-94. As I-94 went east at Benton Harbor, MI, I hopped on I-196 for the rest of the ride. All of the leaves were in full bloom from Benton Harbor to Douglas. The only section of the road that was a little unnerving was a 10 mile stretch of new highway on I-196 that has substantial rain grooves. The way it causes the bike to track and float a little will take some time to be accommodated to.

Paul's weekend home is wonderful. I look forward to many rides to Paul's place. After grabbing lunch in Douglas, we walked in his neighborhood until we came to Douglas Beach. The visit ended too soon as I wanted to enjoy most of the ride in the daylight.

5 stars out of five on this days ride.
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