Tuesday, January 5

I'm back among the living!

Wishing you and yours a great, safe 2010!

Whew! Where did the time go?! I'm glad the old is over and the new is underway. I know it's a cliche, but the new year always brings new hope and inspiration. Like many others, I had a challenging year, but I am still breathing. The key to a stressless holiday, IMHO, is to avoid all stores. If I couldn't make the gift or purchase it online--it just didn't get gotten! (excuse poor grammar).

(The anguish on the face of these figures in Lorado Taft's "Fountain of Time" is exactly how I felt a few days before Christmas, click for closer look)

I think I've taken my last ride of the season (sigh). This decision has nothing to do with the cold weather that has gripped Chicago. In fact, on my last ride, which started off around 20 degrees F with a high that day of 24, was quite comfortable. My Tourmaster electrics are great. I dressed so well that I felt a bit too warm when I reached my destination. By the time I returned home and disrobed, I was sweating. Even the black ice that my back tires greeted didn't factor into my decision to end my ride season. No, I realize that the numerous must-do tasks that I procrastinate with during the summer, need to winter to resolve. Trying to also fit in riding is contrary to my "seek balance" and "let go" philosophy I've been trying to implement. I live in an environment that makes winter riding a challenge that I choose not to fit in this winter. (Big sigh)

Right now things are out of whack and I need to shift gears, so to speak. Besides, it's long winter evenings slurping down Japanese Sencha or various Oolong teas, while pouring over maps and tossing around trip ideas I fantasy for the new ride season that gets me through the winter doldrums. It is also the time that I re-read motorcycle classics and catch up on magazine articles on riding technique and safety. The last great book I read is Riding in the Zone: Advanced techniques for skillful motorcycling, by Ken Condon, a protege of David Hough. I've read it once and will re-read it before the start of spring. It's a must-read book for all two wheel travelers.

(Looks like a nice spring, summer or fall day, doesn't it? It was below freezing-fun!)

(LOOK where you want to go!)

When I saw this family out for an afternoon of ice skating, I thought of the motorcycle safety class axiom: look where you want to go. This family went down often that night. I wanted to yell to them to look ahead, look up, look anywhere but down, but I didn't. I just smiled at their family fun and tripped the shutter to capture images of one or more of them prostrate on the ice. I could relate. On my last ride, I found myself having to look at the ground more than I know is good. Mostly, one can scan the ground now and again to look for changes in the color or surface but one doesn't want to lock the eyes there. I must confess, I did some eye-locking on the last ride because those deceivingly small patches of ice that blended so well with the road surface caught me by surprise a few times. The longer I rode the better I was at winter scanning of seemingly clear roads, which is a bit different than summer scanning...imho.

(Seen on a power walk morning).

Physical issues that I plan to correct before the spring. I've read that despite my painful back, I should still do the weight lifting. I slowed down and stopped completely when my back became chronically inflammed. I've missed weight lifting but the back was giving me so much trouble that I thought I should lay off. But I'm convinced that when I was lifting--seriously lifting--my back seemed to breakdown less. Yes, "the old gray mare ain't what she used to be" but I'm not dead yet! I won't go down without a fight! Riding a motorcycle well--at least the way I want to continue to ride--requires excellent fitness. I believe that the older I get the more I need to rely on smart strategies and techniques to do what I used to do without thought.

Now, it's training most wisely. It is now better for me to do 25-30 miles a week of jogging than 60 miles a week of running/training, which I used to do a couple of decades ago. My knees and back now prefer long power walks, robust hiking, and inline skating over a ten miles early morning run. But even my "preferred" outlets were taking a toll on my back. My F800ST is a perfect bike for me because the slight forward position (which I actually uprighted a bit) keep the pressure off my tail bone. My Suzuki SV650 was perfect in every way except that after a 600 miles day, I felt it. This is not the case on the ST. I plan to keep up the long distance riding and there is a direct positive correlation with fitness and miles (IMHO). At least, that's true for me. My last Saddle Sore was a breeze compared to the first one. A fit body can handle more stress. Period. So this winter, I'm back to becoming one with free weights.

(I will miss Jesse Owens, my motorcycle--but heck, it's only for a few fly-by months)

So, this blog will, for the next three months morph into riding news, book and gear reviews an occasional rants about something motorcycle related (like that essay I've been working on about solo riding). This will also be the place I toy with some trip ideas and might even solicit some ideas from you. I have a motorcycle related project in the early stages that will help those living in a poor country. When the details are worked out, I will share it with you 'cause I'm hoping you might want to offer your two cents.

(The picture is of the City Auto Pound, situated on the lowest level of Chicago (the City's underbelly). It's where unluck illegally parked cars wind up. The area also provides a short cut through much of the downtown area. I motorcycle often in and out of this space).

Until next time...happy riding if you're still riding the asphalt. And if you're tucked away your ride partner for the winter, remember: "This too shall pass."