Tuesday, October 27

Riding and Shutter tripping (Click on pics for better fall colors)

Recently while on a trip to Starved Rock State Park, I embraced the inevitability of the riding season ending soon. I started out in damp, cold temps below freezing. The day progressed nicely and reached the low 50s. When I arrived at the park, I unpacked and de-layered. As I removed my camera gear a group of men exited a car. They too had camera equipment. We were all there for the same thing: Starved Rock's annual Fall Color Hike, a series of guided hikes thought the park. One man said to me, "Eh, a little cold to be on a bike, uh?" I looked at him, "What?" He responded, "A little cold to be on a bike, uh?" I told him I had heated gear. "Still, a little cold, don't you think?" Now, this always makes me wonder..."Why is he talking to me?" But I responded with as much cheer as I could muster. So I say to him, "Oh, it's exhilarating...it's really not a problem. I'm toasty--the heated gear is the key." His friends all said they hadn't heard of heated motorcycle clothes but felt that it would make for comfortable travel. But their show off buddy was having none of it. "Well, that's good...but I think it's still a little cold to be on a bike this time of year." I wanted to say so many things to him, but thought, "What's the point?" Different strokes for different folks. Still, I had to consciously shake off my first question, "Why is this man even questioning me"?!

I haven't much to say today. I shall ride until they pry the bike from my hands that remain comfortably tucked inside heat gloves atop heated grips. One year I was able to ride until December 3rd or so. On that day a huge blizzard-like snow storm was predicted. I remember riding to the shop that stores my bike over winter. It was near rush hour and everyone had the same idea--leave work early to get home before the deluge. I sat in snarled traffic as the wet, fat snow flakes began to fall. By the time I reached the shop the streets were wet, temps were dropping, roads were becoming slick. Winter was putting an exclamation point on its arrival.

I see fewer bikes on my trips nowadays but when the temps reach 50, the two wheels hit the road again. Today, I have pics to share. Some are from two wheel rides I've taken recently; some are from a recent car trip on four wheels, to Savanna and Galena, IL. All are about embracing the fall and it glorious colors. Some were taken with my faithful Nikon D80 and some with my new toy, the Nikon D300s.

Embracing Fall (The colors look their best when viewed large, click on the image)

Included are three abstracts. Two are taken of trees; I am using a very slow shutter speed. shooting up into the trees and twisting the camera while tripping the shutter to get a swirling effects and a creative way of conveying fall transformations. One is a multiple exposure effect (ten, to be exact) to give the forest a dreamy appearance. You can probably guess which is which.

Embrace the fall...Ride safe and watch out for wet leaves in curves.

Monday, October 12

Gallimaufry Time!

So many things to say and so little time. I'm not usually this invisible but life has been rearing its head and reminding me of the many things beyond my control.

Here's a hodgepodge of happenings that will allow me to catch up.

Fall is here and its cousin, "Winter" is never far behind...

This weekend, I took my coldest rides thus far--33 degrees F. The day started off in the low 50s and by the time I reached Fountain City, Indiana, the temps had reached the mid-50s. Beautiful fall weather. Still a bit cool, but with a heated jacket, I remained comfy. I did notice that my left hand grip, which already had been replaced under warranty, failed to heat up as smoothly as the right hand grip. Thus the fingers of my left never really warmed up. I packed the heated pants but never donned them. This is the time of the year when the heat that the ST is known for throwing off, is a welcomed feature. On my returned home from central Indiana, the temps dropped to 33F. Yeowwww! My thighs did get cold and I had by evening forgotten that I had packed the heated pants. So, I sucked it up and thought warm thoughts the whole way.

Sunday's ride started out colder with temps in the 30s and eventually reached 39F and hoover there. By mid-morning the temps were in the low 40s. This time, from head to toe, I was prepared and thus, I enjoyed the ride without distraction. Watching the leaves' evidence of change in the many shades of golds, reds, and greens and every hue in between was humbling as well as breath-taking. Fall is an amazing reminder that all things that nature has spent the spring and summer seasons building, begins to fall apart and in doing so, displays the beauty of this season of change--only to start over again next year, which it will as sure as the sun rises again.

Levi Coffin House, Saturday, Oct. 10th (Underground Railroad Research)

On this brisk fall morning, I motored to Fountain City, Indiana (formerly Newport) to tour the Levi Coffin House, where it is believed that over 2000 human beings escaping slavery found safe shelter. Coffin, a Quaker, felt free to ignore unjust laws and spent the rest of his life doing what he could to destroy the institution of slavery. I arrived at the Coffin House around 3:29pm--after having a wonderful lunch at Shapiro's Deli in Indianapolis.

The Coffin house closes at 4pm. I'm beginning to think that it's good practice to arrive at these sites near the end of the day. I received one of the best tours from Janice McGuire. She shared stories that are not part of the official tour. She was knowledgeable about UGRR sites in general and knew the Indiana history well. And, what she didn't know, she was eager to assist me in finding the answer. For example, four of the pallbearers at Levi Coffin's funeral were African American. That is UNUSUAL as they were present not in a position of servitude but in a role honor, friendship and respect for Levi Coffin. I wanted to know who these men were. How did they come to carry the coffin of Coffin (no pun intended)?

In Coffin's obit, a church is mentioned along with the name of a Reverend who shares the surname of one of the pallbearers. This is definitely a case for the History Detectives--but why should they have all the fun? I plan to do some research to find the answers and see where this leads. Wish I could find a funder to fund UGRR research. Oh well...

Wisconsin's Rustic Roads (RR) Revisited

Wisconsin's rustic roads program is always fun.

I get terribly lost on many of the roads but there isn't a turn or bend that isn't exciting and fun to follow. County roads DD, C, FF-- and many other--are simply wonderful gems with interesting sites, house, and animals along the way. These hidden pockets thrill the urban rider. Even when I can't seem to follow the map to link one RR to another, this is never a dull trip. These lightly traveled Wisconsin back roads allow me to hear myself think and reacquaint myself with me, myself and I. What I love most is that I can get to Racine, WI, for example, in a fairly short amount of time and lose myself as if I've traveled through many states--and still be back home before nightfall. Let no one say the Midwest is flat--well, it is, but there are lots of hilly places too.

Where there are rivers, glacier activity, drifts, moraines, kettles, there are bound to be some fun twisty and rolling roads to explore. I hear that some Wisconsiners (?) tire of Illinoisians coming to their state. I don't know if this is true and if so, why. This is America and last I heard, it is a united states. So, I shall freely go again and again 'cause I love the terrain! And, I'm certain that my few pennies contribute to the Wisconsin coffers.

Track Day (TD)

Ok, remember I did a Track Day this summer? Well, Motoworks, who sponsored the TD, mailed the participants a gift. A CD with all the participants riding around the track! They had a professional photographer there, who really did a fab job. She managed to make everyone look like experienced racers! She shot us at our best. I look fast and furious in these shots--of which there are many! Don't you agree, I look Ma-va-luss! Yeah, I know...looks can be deceiving.

Thank you Motoworks! Looking forward to TD next ride season.

BMW Mileage Contest Closes (October 11, 2009)

It started in April, right around the time that I flew to Fredericksburg, VA to retrieve my bike, which had been at Morton's BMW dealership since my "get off." Before leaving VA, my pal Claye at Fleeter Logs reminded me that the BMW mileage contest had started and that I should make my ride home count. My start form was signed by a person who has reached 1 million miles on BMWs. I couldn't ignore this--this would mean some huge tires to fill. No one puts this kind of pressure on me--I'm just goal-driven enough that instantly I felt obligated to live up to this man's riding legacy. So, I set a goal of 20,ooo miles for the ride season. I would have been nice to have completed it all during the six months.

I watched my bike turn over to 22,000 miles Saturday around 8ish p.m. I took a ride on Sunday too because that was the official end of the mileage contest and I wanted to end on a good note. Thus far, I've put on over 15,000 safe miles--not counting the miles I've put on the BMW F650GS, which can't be counted for the contest because I didn't include that bike on the start form. Nor do those miles include the time I spent in the SV650's saddle. And, the official ride season isn't over yet and won't be until they pry my hands from the handle bars. So, I still have time to hit that 20,000 miles goal for the season--all done on my Beemer. Fingers crossed. Still, I'm quite pleased with the miles I've put on Jesse Owens so far, given that most of my long distance riding is accomplished on weekends. I now know that when I hear of someone putting 40,ooo miles on their bike from April to October, they typically don't have a regular job. Am I envious? You dang tootin' I am. I want a life where once April arrives, I just ride off...and return some time after Labor Day. Oh well...dreams are free.

Bun Burner before the season ends?

I am seeking one decent weekend, a good 36 hours to scratch an itch that bugging me. It's an itch to do a Bun Burner. For those who don't know, this is an Iron Butt Association Ride of 1500 miles in 36 hours. Yes, I know, I just finished a Saddle Sore. But I have a nice route all planned out. The fall, with it shorter days and unpredictable weather, and the insane demands on my life, might make accomplishing a BB a tough undertaking. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a nice break in the weather.

Okay...that's it for me. I've missed you.

I have a project I'm working on that I can't reveal at the moment (don't you hate it when people tell you something and then tell you they can't tell you about it?!) but I plan to share it with you in a future blog. For now, if you have an extra million dollars sitting around, wondering what to do with it, I have a project that needs funding. Call me...