Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month - Illinois

IDOT had press events promoting Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Illinois today. John Sudlow, Director of the UIUC MRP, sent out an email announce the events. One of the locations was the Illinois Emergency Traffic Management Center near the White Sox stadium. Since I didn't need to be at work until noon (I work late on Tuesdays) and the event was at 10:00, I decided to go. While still in the burbs, I had to execute a quick swerve to avoid a van pulling out of a side street and into my lane. One of the aspects of MC month, is the campaign to start seeing motorcycles. Too bad the woman driving the van that almost hit me didn't see me.

The press event was small and only attended by CLTV and ABC7 News. I was wearing my IL MRP Staff jacket and was ask to speak about the program, go figure as this is just my second season teaching.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Chatting with some of the motorcycle class students before class, one student said she didn't like my shirt. The shirt was a plain black button up shirt with an embroidered 1/4" by 3" Kawasaki on the pocket. "What's wrong with the shirt?" I asked. She professed to being a Suzuki fanatic, so she didn't like my shirt. I knew she was joking, but it reminded me how there is a general disrespect among riders of specific brands or styles of bike. When riding, I attempt to acknowledge other bikers. The riders for whom I received the least amount of reciprocal acknowledgements are Harley Davidson riders. Maybe that's what I get for riding a "rice burner." I do appreciate the variety of motorcycles out there to match the variety of motorcycle riders. In my book, if there is a motor and two wheels in my field of vision, I will give you either a wave or head nod. I even expanded it to the scooters out there, although many don't get it.

This frame of mind makes me appreciate the Shadow Riders Motorcycle Club based in Midlothian, IL. Unlike many clubs, members include men, women, cruiser riders, goldwingers, sport bike, whites, blacks, middle aged and senior, among. Biking groups are usually like churches, very segregated race. It's hard to find multicultural riding groups, so I appreciate Shadow Riders even more.

Pictures, pictures, and more pictures

Over that last several years, I have taken way too many pictures. That is one hazard of the digital cameras and nearly unlimited server space at the job. The easiest way for me to share them with friends and family has been through Microsoft's "Spaces" site. My live space is at jdarcher.spaces.live.com. The albums for last years MC trip is Denver 2007. Although not a MC trip, the Arizona Pictures are some of my favorites.

What I like about spaces.live.com is that they give you the option to post pictures in full size or compress automatically. It's just made it easier to quickly upload and share. Here is an embedded sample of some of the photos.

Windows Live Spaces

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Freedom and captivity

The 1st long ride of the summer celebrated the freedom of the rode on the motorcycle and confinement of my son in prison. Monday was already marked off of the work calendar as I was supposed to move my daughter, but that was postponed. The forecast was perfect for riding and I hadn't seen my son for around six months. My longest ride this year was a hundred miles. Monday's ride was exactly 600 miles.

Up to this ride, the Connie's mpg was suffering from the long winter. I only keep the battery charged and Stabil in a full tank. Anytime there's no danger of ice, the Connie gets out every couple of weeks. At my first fillup, I added 1/3 of a fresh can of Sea Foam. I was down to 38 mpg prior to the fill up. From this tank I was up to 42 mpg. On the way home I road 200 miles on 4.3 gallons of gas before one last fueling at Rantoul. The Connie is roaring.

This was the first visit that I have had with my son since late last Fall. He was surprised to see me. Since it was a weekday, the visiting room was nearly empty and we were able to spend 2 1/2 hours. Anthony was the healthiest I have see him for a long time. Prior to violating his probation, he was very overweight, coughing from smoking, and drinking excessively. Still, court and detention system in the US is absolutely absurd. The was a great NYTimes article showing that we have the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, more than 4 times the rate of European countries. He will be out on June 25th.

It's hard to fully enjoy ones blessings like the motorcycle and the open road when your child's living experiences are so different.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another wet motorcycle class

Saturday was the first day of the range for my current class and it rained hard off and on all day. At least this week the temperature was in the upper 50's instead of the rain with 30's degrees last weekend. The class went pretty good. One student had real problems after she witnessed a student on the other range wipe out. If mentally shook her enough that she left the class inbetween exercises.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dreaming of riding

Weather is breaking and all I can think about is getting away on the bike. My big ride was going to be to Billings, MT to attend a motorcycle conference in August. After the conference I was going to hang out in Yellowstone for afew days then work my way home. Once I started finalizing plans, I felt that I couldn't proceed without offering an option for my wife to come along to Yellowstone. I offered to drive our Santa Fe to Billings if she want to fly out at the end of the conference and then we could drive down to Yellowstone. If she said "I'm don't need to go", I could continuing planning in good conscience for a solo trip. The evening I brought it up, she purchases a plane ticket to Billings. We will stay at a lodge for a night and camp for three. While it may not be what I had initially planned, my wife and I will have a wonderful time together.

Last year the big ride for me was a solo ride out to Denver. I flew my wife out and we stayed with family in Parker, a burb of Denver. We rode to Colorado Springs, Manitou, Air Force Academy and other places. After she left, I took a 500 mile loop into the mountain for a day ride. The ride included the Great Sand Dunes National Park and great canyon riding.

No telling where I might get to ride to this year.
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Now that the weather has finally warmed, I wonder if this person's motorcycle will start. Took this picture walking to worked in Hyde Park back in February.
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Monday, April 14, 2008

First motorcycle class of season complete

Finished teaching the first Basic Rider Course of the training season at South Suburburn College this past Saturday. The weather stunk for the unprepared for the weather students. I was fine and toasting in my gear. It rained all day with a high temp of 39. The final day of the class ran from 8-3.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Smoking First Aid

I bit ironic don't you think. I took a manadority first aid class taught out of someone's home. You must have Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification to teach with Illinois' Motorcycle Rider Program. So periodically, the instructor lit up her cigarette during our training session. It's the first time in over a year I have been exposed to indoor second hand smoke. Now that there is a statewide ban on indoor smoking, I am exposed to secondhand smoke for a state certification in First Aid. Go figure.