Monday, January 29

Alms for the suffering!

Saturday's cold temps didn't phase me one iota. Took in a movie and on the way there, with gloveless hands, I opened the fat package I had retrieved from the mailbox. Written on front of it was "Lake Superior Circle Tour." In it were "gifts" (i.e., travel stuff!) I had been bugging them about since November. Finally the new 2007 travel guide, a book mark, a gift catalog, a really handy map (my third of the region!) and a 308 page book called, Lake Superior: The Ultimate Guide to the Region. Look at those goodies! Christmas in January! Supposedly some of the stuff was free; the book was around $17. In the end, the tab was $30--but I'm not complaining. It's high quality and after the movie, I returned home and didn't move much the rest of the weekend. Now that's entertainment!
I now see why William Murphy in Motorcycling Across Michigan calls the Lake Superior Cirle Tour "the crown jewel" of the great lake tours. While circling Lake Michigan, I remember long stretches where only me, the machine, the road, and the lake seemed out there. I enjoyed those uninterrupted rolling miles. My stops were welcomed treats that I devoured.

The Lake Superior challenge? Be selective! There is so much to see and many of the sites are in close proximity to each other. There will be spots, where if I want to do the whole touring thing, I'll end up 'cycling two miles here and there. Lots of short jaunts. Lots of places where the info recommends that you "stay a day or so." Thus far, everything I've read about, sounds like a "must-see" to me. On the Lake Michigan tour, I aimed for as many lighthouses as I could. Circling Lake Superior, I'm adding visits to the falls, like Kakabeka Falls, Ontario and Tahquamenon Falls, UP Michigan, to mention two. National and State parks cover the trip and I'm thinking as I'm reading all this attractive info that I need more than a week. That's always the tension for me: ride versus tour. I know I can cover the approximately 2,300 miles to complete the journey. It's the touring that takes so much time, of which I have only a limited amount now that I've sold my labor to a corporation.

Oh well, now that I have all these goodies perhaps I can narrow my choices and plan my stops (which sorta defeats the whole idea of VACATION!). Everything on this tour seems so yummy, like a kid in a huge candy store.

Saturday, January 27

Sunday Rides any day of the week!

Someone brought Barbara Barber’s book, Sunday Rides on Two Wheels: Motorcycling in Southern Wisconsin, to my attention and I’m glad because chances are I might not have discovered it on my own. Barber’s motorcycle rides remind her of the Sunday family automobile outings of her childhood. For Barber, why not have Sunday rides any day of the week—not on four wheels but on two? How else can one fully feel the wind on her face? No more sticking her neck out of a car window in search of that summer breeze.

Barber’s book is compact; it is 178 pages and spiral bound. Black and white photos sprinkled throughout the book capture some attractive sights along the routes. In the back of the book, one finds two pages of county, park, and commerce information, including pertinent phone numbers and website addresses. In addition, for the biker’s peace of mind, the books lists six pages of contact information for motorcycle dealerships in the region. The author has beautifully anticipated the resource needs to travel comfortably here.

I like almost everything about this book. The one thing I don’t like is minor—and I hesitate to mention it. First, the things I like: I like Barber’s simplicity. The book is straightforward; the language is clear and accessible. Barber divides southern Wisconsin into five sections: Glacier Country; Kettle Moraine: Driftless Area; Coulee Country; and, Baraboo Hills & Beyond. In each one, she outlines a full range of multi-distance rides in turn-by-turn level details. I haven’t tried any of the routes yet or checked them against Google maps, for example, but it appears that Barber has done her homework. She demystifies the region and the routes. You’d have to try hard to get lost. This is a huge plus! As a female riding solo, this is exactly the type of guide you want as a riding companion. (Sidebar: I know men get lost too and would benefit from such a guide too--and they can feel overwhelmed (maybe even scared) at being lost. BUT they at least have a fighting chance should anyone try to hassle them. People out to do wrong are less likely to attack a man they think might give them trouble—nut cases want it easy, they look for victims they perceive as weak. To such people, women and children fit this category most).

I also like how easy one can string together rides within one region, making for singular rides or multiple hookups. I’ve reached a destination before and then wandered aimlessly about looking for other fun roads. The search rarely incontinences me as I like to explore and I always have a map (sometimes GPS) with me. But my trial and error approach sometimes means I miss out on some dynamite roads that only an insider can pinpoint. Barber is that insider and her book eliminates guesswork while not inhibiting the roaming instinct.

Each chapter begins with some history of the area—more than enough to whet one’s appetite but not so much that you find yourself reaching for the highlighter. Wonder no more about the unique topography of the area and why southwestern Wisconsin looks dramatically different from southeastern Wisconsin. The answer? Glaciers! They pushed through the southeastern parts creating geological disparities that make for a compelling tale that in Barber’s hands is entertaining and informative. Barber devotes well-appreciated time to “Notes & Highlights” that deliver what it promises. These enlightening sections articulate the diversity of the landscape, reveal the best twisty roads, and underscore the must-see architecture in the area. We know where the best working farms exist and where not to aim our two wheels. The book outlines only paved roads but one can easily figure out the location of the unpaved roads from the text should they want to explore those.

In addition to turn-by-turn route directions, Barber has easy to follow, bold maps outlining each route in the five geographical sections. Don’t expect to find the level of detail on these maps that one associates with an atlas--for that, take out your basic Rand McNally. At the end of each section is a “For More Information” page with phone numbers, web addresses and a calendar of events for the area, which makes it simple to schedule—or not—a trip during certain time periods. It is not fun getting to a town only to learn that you’re blocked in all directions because of a parade. Glimpses of Barber’s wisdom are dispersed throughout the book and smartly placed inside boxes with block lettering text that makes the advice seem friendly and personal. Initially, I found myself drawn into all of these boxed musings and caveats before finally settling in to read the book. Her insights give the book a compelling, warm fuzzy feel.

So what is it I don’t like about the book? Well…I said it was minor. Here goes. The black and white photographs. I love black and white photography and have taken many such photographs myself. Often the pictures here are too dark to make out much detail. Only a very few capture the allure of black and white photography. While I appreciate the visuals from the routes, many of the photos lack clarity and eventually detract from the book’s general excellence. This is a tiny criticism that should not diminish the book’s overall charm. There is more than enough here to keep two wheeling rolling happily for a long time. Sunday Rides on Two Wheels…should be on the shelf of everyone who lives within 500 miles of Wisconsin—and any one else thinking about traveling to the region. And that’s my humble opinion!

Wednesday, January 24

New map and a new motorcycle to boot!

“Thanks” to those who sent me new “Sharon” cities to explore—I appreciate that and have expanded my list. Even the tongue-in-cheek “Sharon” in Russia intrigues me enough to want to visit. It immediately made me think of the adventure “Long Way ‘Round.” I saw myself on one of the new BMW 650s, making my way through Russia. I know it’s a dream but it could happen!

A friend from work understands my pain. She gave me a little toy motorcycle that now sits in front of my computer, where I slave away each day. Looking at it helps transport me along unexplored backroads whenever I need a break from my workaday routine, which I need frequently! And, talk about conspicuity! If I rode a motorcycle that brightly colored, cagers just might see me. Yeah, right! Best of all, the handlebar actually turns!

My love of maps stems from childhood, when I’d spin a small globe I had received as a gift and pick a place to daydream about. That led to maps; only now do I really understand them well.
As a child, I just like pouring over them and imagining what other kids in far off places were doing, that perhaps somewhere in Xinxiang, China another kid was pouring over a map wondering about a kid in Chicago. Sunday I treated myself to yet another atlas! It’s big, colorful, and replete with symbols, cross-references to other germane pages in the atlas, scenic drives and a bit of history about selected places. Well-worth the $16.95.

To me a great way to spend the wait for spring is sit on the floor, surrounded by various maps (one map is never enough!) and see how each has chosen to represent data. While the major details are the same, it’s the micro details that make a map inviting. Some maps ignore the little places and sprinkle in a few to satisfy the average reader; some are so jammed with info that it appears that the goal of full disclosure reigned supreme over logic and clarity. Such maps are headache-inducing to follow and only sometimes interesting to look at from a distance. The tangled web of connections are obvious--and strangling. Still some maps record only the most populated places as if thumbing its nose at every place else.

Even with my GPS—not to mention Google.maps—I prefer a paper map as the definitive word on where to go and how to get there. When I became a little turned around while trying to follow the back roads to Kankakee River State Park, it was my map that I finally stopped to consult. It returned me to civilization. My GPS became little more than an expensive compass. I had vowed to master its features so that I can rely on it more but now I think I know enough to do what I want to do and get where I want to go. I love electronic gadgets; they are indispensable resources for most of what I need to do. But when I want to feel a place, see it spread out before me, to run my fingers along its lakes and tributaries and climb its mountains, it’s the tangible surface of a map that I desire most. My new one will easily keep me company not just until riding season starts, but for years to come.

Sunday, January 21

"The Iceman" Definitely Cometh !

Paul Mondor has kissed the ground in Cape Spear, NL! A collective sigh of relief probably shifted the earth a little as thousands literally could finally exhale knowing that Paul had safely reached his amazing goal of riding coast to coast through Canada during the harsh winter. Paul has braved some pretty brutal climes and moment-by-moment weather transformations throughout. On Saturday, as he rode en route to St. Johns and Cape Spear--the most easterly point in North American--Paul faced winds of 120 mph! Doing so beat him up quite a bit. Not surprising, he reports being exhausted and sporting some hard-earned blistered fingertips from gripping the handlebars in a fight against the winds. Paul won. Along the way, Paul has been buoyed by the munificence of friends and strangers, many of whom have braved the elements to come out and cheer him on. This is huge people! No one has ever done this before on two-wheels during the winter! I'm glad to have been a micro-microscopic voice among the legends who could only cheer him on via the Internet and pray for a safe journey.

Who needs to watch such ridiculous shows like "Survivor" and "Fear Factor"? Paul's coast to coast is the real deal! An every day, ordinary, average Joe with extraordinary heart, pluck and determination has managed to accomplish the unthinkable. He did it. Not for fame and fortune. But because he had a dream and he did what it took to realize that dream.

I read this quote on Adventure Riders and its author labeled it: "Quote of the Day." The author is one of those amazingly helpful motorcyclists who made himself available should Paul need him and who provided updates to the information starved Adventure Riders forum.

"I say to Paul...

"We should probably get back up the Cape Spear highway to St. John's soon, because the temperature is dropping like a stone, and the road will soon ice over very quickly."

Paul looks at me and says...

"And your point is?!"--author DRZ400SK4 (Adventure Riders)

Saturday, January 20

Where in the world is Paul Mondor?

For a couple of weeks now, Paul Mondor has dominated my thoughts. I’ve tried to restrain myself and not think about him every minute. But I’m hopeless when it comes to Paul. Last Tuesday night, I crossed the line. I began sleeping with him.

I am a respectable, unavailable woman, for whom this is entirely out of character. I have no business engaging in such behavior. Yet when I climbed into bed early this morning, Paul was right there. When I opened my sleep-deprived eyes this morning, I turned over and there was Paul, demanding my attention. I did what only an obsessed woman would. I rolled out of bed, turned on my computer and asked the only question I could: “Where in the World is Paul Mondor?” Is he cold? Is he of clear mind and strong body? Is mother nature treating him well? Is the throng of other Paul-obsessed groupies watching out for him, offering their warm beds, and feeding him well?

You see, although I’ve become a fanatical stalker, I have never met Paul Mondor. And, I probably will never meet the man. Probably the closest I’ll ever come to meeting him is to trace his coast-to-coast Canada route myself and dream of him while doing so.

For more than a year, Paul Mondor has been planning to ride a motorcycle from Victoria, BC to Newfoundland and back home in the dead of winter. Operative words: coast-to-coast; Canada; dead of winter; and motorcycle. The juxtaposition of those terms should have forced his family and friends to launch an intervention because evidently the man is either insane and/or has a death wish. Judging from what I’ve learned about Paul from bleary-eyed reading of more than a year’s worth of posts about his epic journey, Paul is a force to be reckoned with. His DNA is unlike most people; a brain scan, I’m convinced, will show spirited activity in regions that most of our brains show dead zones. Paul's a member of that select group of visionaries that see only the possibilities and rewards in following their dreams, regardless of the names the world's naysayers call them. When it comes to the inherent dangers that would give some of us pause and stop most of us in our tracks, Paul and his ilk see only worthy challenges to overcome while keeping their eyes on the prize.

For the winter bound, road-starved motorcyclists--and a lot of other riders and nonriders, we are living a bit of our own dreams vicariously through Paul. He calls himself the “crazy Frenchman” and if his tenancity and determination is symbolic of that moniker, folks had better just get out of Paul’s way when he gets a bug in his beemer loving heart. I could continue to wax poetic about Paul, but I really want to wrap this up as I hear him calling out to me. I will leave you with some more key words to capture his, man against nature, coastal journey on a BMW F650GS Dakar: killer windchills; 100 mph wind gusts; -33F; avalanches; icy roads; closed roads; zero visibility; harrassing policemen; truckers; genius mechanics; coffee; generous strangers; gravey and ketchup soaked french fries; and, a horde of people wishing Paul Godspeed.

Thursday, January 18 crazy friend and one converted friend...

My friend Lucas, who was a guest blogger here and wrote about his trip to Tobermory, Ontario, has ruptured something in his brain--in a good way--he's cooked up an idea on doing a Saddlesore with a twist. He knows I've been planning one for the upcoming season. The Saddlesore, is 1000 miles in under 24 hours, the shortest distance to earn one the title of "World's Toughest Motorcycle Riders." I don't want to give out any details--we actually don't have any yet-because the plan is so novel that it just might earn us fame and fortune. That, in IRB terms translates into: a certificate, signature license plate and membership in this small, but growing group of long distance motorcycle riders.

If great-grandmother Ardys Kellerman can ride 80,000 miles in six months, complete 4 IRBs (that's 11,000 miles in 11 days) and 4 back-to-back Saddlesores (that's 1000 miles on four consecutive days) then surely I can finish a 1000 mile jaunt in less than 24 hours.

What I love about the IRB is that it defies logic. Some might think that the key to distance riding is speed. It is not. It is safe, consistent and strategic riding that wins the rally. In fact, speeding slows you down--get a ticket and you'll be stuck there waiting for a police officer to write you a ticket. When it comes to an IRB, think: slow--relatively speaking-- and steady wins the rally.

My dear friend, I'll call her EM, who now resides in NC is going to take a MSF course in the spring! She was bitten sometime ago. Once when visiting me, she spotted a little bumblebee colored Kawasaki Ninja 250 and she hasn't been the same since. When I first saw her sit on a bike, I could swear her eyes twinkled. She's got that sport bike look about her: medium height, slender build and muscular legs. Living in NC, she will get to ride her bike year 'round! How wonderful is that?! I'm as eager for her class to commence as I was for my own class to start. I promise to be a good moto role model for her. I will demand that she be ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time)--but I don't think that will require much convincing. She's also very smart.

Tuesday, January 16

2007 Riding Plans--so far.

Mao Zedong said: "Á thousand-mile journey begins with the first step.” I’ve put the almost-finishing touches on my upcoming riding season. I hope to squeeze in a few more trips but these—not counting VA and NC—come close to 7500 miles. My goal for the season is 10,000 miles. Why? I like goals and 10,000 is a nice round number?

Start * Destination * RT miles

Chicago Rustic Roads WI 300.00
Chicago Gills Rock, WI (Door County) 570.86
Chicago Saddlesore 1000 + 15
Chicago Galena IL 326.30
Chicago Lake Geneva, WI 152.16
Chicago Niles, MI 198.62
Chicago Shawnee National Forest 640.66
Chicago Iowa City, IA 436.30
Chicago Sauk Trail/Chicago Pike 570.00
Chicago Lake Superior Circle Tour 2295.00
Chicago Spring Green, WI 372.12
Chicago New Glarus, WI 311.38
Chicago Starved Rock, Utica, IL 193.14
Chicago Arlington, VA 1402.72 (iffy)
Chicago Raleigh, NC 1729.24 (iffy)
Chicago Sharon, WI 177.70

If I ever want the map at the end of my blogpage to fill up with red, I must get out of the Midwest! Only with the Lake Superior Circle Tour will I add a new state (MN)--and Canada. But you'd think with all these miles, I'd substantially expand my riding range.

Hmmm? I think I hear Alaska or a nice perimeter jaunt around the USA calling me for 2008.

Sunday, January 14

Sharon to visit Sharon

Late last season, I thought of some quirky rides that I could turn into interesting ride reports. I’ve never really liked my name, mainly because I rarely meet anyone under 70 with the name—not that there’s anything wrong with that. I started wondering just how many cities named "Sharon" are out there? Wouldn’t it be neat, I thought, to visit each one and take a picture underneath the city sign, possible with me holding my own cardboard sign with “Sharon” crudely printed on it with an arrow pointing to me? Why that’s interesting to me, I don’t know. Winter boredom, perhaps?

Here are the Sharon cities I’ve found along with mapquest one-way estimates that assume interstate travel, which underestimates the miles I’d travel to get to each given my preference for backloads and scenic routes.

Sharon, CT 850.17 miles
Sharon Springs, KS 800.70
Sharon, MA 989.26
Sharon, MI (Kalaska) 313.06
Sharon, MI (Washtenaw) 251.46
Sharon, ND 735.22
Sharon, PA 413.86
Sharon, WI 83.63

If anyone knows of other Sharon cities not listed, please let me know. I can begin chipping away at the Midwest Sharon cities this summer; the others will require more planning.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who have helped expand the list of Sharon places to visit!
These miles reflect approximate round trips (RT).

Sharon, LA 1,016 miles
Sharon, MS 1,446.28; 1,713.40 miles (requires visiting two counties)
Sharon, VT 1,860.32 miles

Sharon, Kalmykia Russia!

Update: 1/28/07--Ask, and people answer. I have a bunch of additional Sharon cities since asking on this blog and on the forum. I haven't done the mileage and city research on these yet, but I wanted to place them here so I can get back to them.

Sharon, CA
Sharon, ID
Sharon Grove, KY
Sharonville, North Cincinnati, OH
Sharon Center, OH
Sharon Township, OH (Columbus suburb)
New Sharon, MA
Sharon, NC (in 4 different counties)

And, Sharon, Queensland, Australia (to be continued...)

"Crack" Bike -- aka Queenie

One of my friends has taken to calling my bike a “crack” bike to convey what she feels is my addiction. I’m as anti-drugs as they come, but I must admit to being stone hooked on this bike. On many occasions I’ve given myself whiplash by instantly spinning my head around to the telltale sound of a motorcycle engine—V-twin or not. I’ve never been a clotheshorse; in fact, I detest clothes shopping and I never try on anything but I have the coolest motorcycle wardrobe--I fuss over and change in and out of jackets and pants a lot. I’ve never cared much about what makes my car operate, but I want to take apart my bike and put it back together again. I read my bike’s manual like it’s the latest Toni Morrison novel. I care about the looks of my car and when it gets a scratch, I take care of it right away. When I found a microscopic paint chip on the tank of my bike, probably from a pebble, I nearly gave birth. I asked the shop how to get ride of it. After nearly kissing the take to find it, I was told to take some clear nail polish and put it over the chip to contain it. It was “too tiny” to warrant a new paint job.

Many years ago, someone tried to steal my new fire engine red, three-door Honda Civic SI. I don’t know why ultimately they decided not to pilfer it. Perhaps the person was turned off from it being a stick shift. They left the door open. They smoked cigarettes and tossed the butts on the floor and they really finked up the car. I was furious! I filed a police report and when they didn’t ask, I ask them when they would come to dust for fingerprints. Chicago’s finest said, “We don’t dust for fingerprints—you’re lucky they didn’t take the car. We’ve got your report—contact your insurance company if there is damage.” That was it! I’m convinced that stick shift averted the thief. I complained about the police department for a couple of days and bellyached about the nerve of thieves. However, this past summer someone tried to steal my bike. I hope it was the audible alarm that thwarted the plan, it probably made him (I know it was a male) jump off the bike and in doing so--the despicable, so-called human being—dropped my bike, breaking the brake lever, putting a major stress bend in the handlebar and damaging the right mirror. The right frame slider prevented a lot of potentially costly frame damage.

When I walked into the garage and saw my gal-pal in a heap on her right side, I stood above her in stunned silence. It did not look good. After up righting her and surveying the damage, I immediately yearned for revenge, a payback just short of murder. I imagined catching the person and disconnecting his penis from his body, hacking with a machete I would buy for the occasion, all the while yelling at him, “How does it feel to have someone take something from you that you cherish?!" I envisioned electrifying the bike and enticing the thief to return to the crime scene where I would watch his body illuminate as he settled atop the bike. I saw myself screaming one of those evil shrieks that Hollywood characters make when they take over planet Earth. Sometimes I saw the person mounting the bike and being instantly Krazy glued to the handlebars, seat, and sides so that there was no way to extricate himself. My perverse joy would come from finding him stuck there where I would then proceed slowly to pluck his eyebrows and eyelashes out one by one. Then I would pour honey on him or hot grits--the topical varied with my mood--and let loose a bunch of honey-loving/grits-loving bugs to devour him. I spent weeks of this crazy-thinking about the person who had the audacity to try to steal my bike.
I’m ordinarily a nonviolent, peace-loving person—I even took a “How Evil am I” test that proved I’m “good.” People will make you lose your religion, if you have one. I know now that all my nonviolence talk and practice will fly out the door if someone messes with my family or my bike. So I can see what my friend means about Queenie being my “crack” bike. Crack makes you do really crazy things, things you wouldn’t ordinarily resort to. That’s true. I now maintain an ever-growing list of things I want to do to the person I catch trying to steal my Crack-bike.

Thursday, January 11

Thich Nhat Hanh and Mindful Motorcycling

What in tarnations does Thich Nhat Hanh have to do with motorcycling? Why when reading the essential writings of this gentle, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, am I thinking that his words resonate with how I feel about motorcycling? Maybe I’m a lot more desperate than I know and I’m now imagining motorcycling references embedded in spiritual texts. Or perhaps something of note really is there. So, I started thinking hard on Thich Nhat Hanh's concepts of being mindful in all things and applied mindfulness to the readings. This is what I figured out about mindful motorcycling.

By mindfulness, Buddhists mean deliberate, conscious and purposeful attention or awareness brought to one’s life, minute by minute. One lives in the moment. The past is gone; the future isn’t here yet. It is the now that is right here before us; it is the now to which we must be attuned. While few people ever achieve total mindfulness, one can live a life that includes far more mindfulness than one currently practices. So, I was thinking how being mindful of the present and being “in the moment” is entirely conducive to motorcycling excellence. To stay safe, one cannot afford to think of anything else while on two wheels. Riding and its related tasks like scanning the environment, keeping a space cushion, anticipating the moves of people and cars, especially people in cars require a tunnel vision that is simultaneously myopic and hyperopic. Safe riding demands constant monitoring of the road and the environment. Mindful attention necessitates a focused hyper vigilant. Does that make sense?

One of the things I love about motorcycling is that it requires me to center my energies on the riding task. Every fiber of my being thinks only about the ride. Whenever I feel my thoughts wandering, I have a strategy for reigning them in. I talk to myself a lot; the talk becomes mantra-like as I command the senses to attention. Its effect is not only relaxing, it is centering. And when I do it right, which sometimes happens, I feel at one with the bike, the road, the universe. I recall a time when I was riding west on Hwy 2 in the upper peninsula of Michigan, when I’d travel for a mile or so without seeing another car. On the north side was the Hiawatha National Forest, on the other side of the road, more trees, and open space. The ride had a quiet and surreal quality but I never experienced loneliness because the sounds emanating from the forest, like the rustling trees, chirping birds and the snapping and crackling of twigs, filled the air and made it all seem alive and miraculous. In retrospect, I recall being mindful and purposeful and at peace, totally aware and alert, but relaxed and it all happening rather concurrently. I remember moving with the bike, thighs tightly yet comfortably hugging the tank, feeling in perfect harmony, and relishing being in the moment--and mindful.

Monday, January 8

How evil am I?

I found one of these evil-o-meter tests on a friend's blog recently and came out "good." Perhaps I didn't believe it or maybe I'm just fishing for things to do, but I found another one and took that too. Here is the result.

You Are 16% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!

Now I have confirmation that I'm not too bad. And, even 16% is nothing to brag about--I do plan to improve myself! No, I don't need a test to tell me how evil I am. Not having a bike to ride every day results in this kind of time-robbing activity on my part! Bear with me...I hear that the riding season is not far off.

Saturday, January 6

Welcome "Motorcycle Views" & old "friend"

I've never thought of myself as someone who doesn't handle change well. But the changes over at About.come have bothered me--a lot. I rarely visit anymore. The new place where many of the old timers now congregate has just not pulled me in enough to want to visit there often either. I've hung around other forums, one specific to my SV650, one aimed at touring CA, one aimed at adventure touring. But mostly I've just felt homeless, so to speak.

In these wee hours, as I lurked around Delphi to peek in on some familiar names, I learned that Walt Kern, former leader of the community of motorcyclists, had started his own blog. I don't know Walt outside of his former job at, but I know this: I, like everyone who frequented that site, learned from the best. It wasn't just Walt, it was also the stellar group of experienced riders assembled in that one spot. They always were ready to transmit sage advice, encourage triumph over one's fears, and chastise anyone who showed poor risk management skills. It is because of Walt's instructive content on and about motorcycles and motorcyclists that kept me coming back day in and day out. I posted a lot on that other forum because the provocative "conversations" always made me think and want to share information.

Walt's new space is aptly called Motorcycle Views. According to the stats on my blogspace, many lurkers drop by here. Well, here is some advice to all you lurkers: add Walt's new blog to your lurking list. This I know for certain: apply what you'll learn there and it just might save your life.

Thursday, January 4

A Three-Wheeled Ride and a B&B for Motorcyclists


It's funny to me that the Piaggio three-wheeled scooter --a really cute machine--is being touted as a ride for the "young and hip." I am neither. I don't want to be a motorcycle snob, but "young and hip"? I would never ride a scooter by choice. A scooter is something I'll reluctantly embrace when I'm just too old and the accumulated rust in my leg joint refuses to swing over my 31.5 inches seat height SV650. Still, I'm glad cute scooters are becoming de rigueur and that some have robust displacements and can hold their own on the highways and allow one to travel great distances. Every car I've owned has been a stick shift; I love my bikes that way too!

May my joints never fail me!

While reading Road Runner: Motorcycle Cruising & Touring (one of my absolute favorite magazines) an ad for caught my attention. Went to their website, read testimonials, loved the idea being able to stay with liked-minded riders while out there on the road. All around, this sounds great, right? Then why the next day, after feeling really excited about this network, did I experience tremendous dread about this as a viable option for me? Rather than spout off the top of my head what's now bugging me about this service, I will give this deeper thought. For most people, I'm convinced that motorcycle-travel net will be a great addition to one's travel comfort--just as the testimonials confirm. My anxieties are my own prison. I'll try to articulate them in words so that even I can understand me better. I hope I can convey here what's the matter now!

(to be continued...)

Monday, January 1

HAPPY NEW YEAR! & a discovery

If you ride a motorcycle and you're reading this, and happen to reside in a place where you put your bike away at the end of fall, it means that you survived a full season of riding. Celebrate being alive and vow to keep it that way.

I became reflective this morning, thinking about all the 'cycle trips I want to take in the summer of '07. In addition to circling Lake Superior, I want to ride east to visit friends in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. I'd love to go south too, to see folks in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Time limits me severely, so I have to make choices. It's times like these that I regret (sort of) my decision to eschew a career in academia. Had I, I could spend the whole summer traveling via motorcycle. But I didn't and I don't and that can really tick me off if I let it.

After circling all the great lakes, I want to do a perimeter trip around the USA. So, I did a Google search to see if other motorcyclists who have done so had written about it. Almost immediately, I came across Mark Logsdon's site. Not only did he take such a journey, he did it for an extremely good cause. He did it to heightened awareness of ovarian cancer, a disease that caused the death of his beloved wife and motorcycle riding partner. I've only read some of his blog but plan to read it in its entirety. I had the idea to ride the Superior trip for a good cause too but abandoned the idea because I didn't want to put any undue pressure on myself. I'm willing to reconsider that now. I have some charities in mind and should at least find out how a trip I'm going to take anyway might also benefit others.

Here's the link to Mark Logsdon's blog. Check out his ride story--I think you'll find it inspirational. You know how sometimes you just get that feeling that you are destined to meet someone? I felt that way while reading Mark's blog. More than likely we'll never meet beyond his words, but reading them made me feel as if I know him a little.

Only one win-win resolution: I resolve to do all I can to ride safe, and stay safe, to ride always with confidence and within my skill level, to pay attention to the angels' voices who whisper cautions to me as they sit on my shoulders during rides. And always, always, ATGATT!