Friday, December 31, 2010

In the meantime...

I learned to play Tag style... The rules are fairly simple:
  • Photograph your bike at the current tag location showing both your bike and the object/landmark in the photo.
  • Photograph your bike at the new location showing both your bike and the object/landmark in the photo.
  • The order doesn't matter, you can ride to the new spot first if you like.
  • Post both photo's, the current and new tags, to officially 'move' the tag.
  • Another rider must then repeat the sequence above to move the tag.
  • If your tag location was previously tagged (during the current year), it will not count, so might be a good idea to get 2 pics so you have an alternate.
I captured my first tag (the existing central CA tag) on January 24, 2010 at the Andersen Pea Soup Restaurant in Gustine, CA:

Then I moved it to Mission San Juan Bautista, CA, near Hollister, where it ended up staying until it was moved again on February 26th:

No one beat me to the new tag and I jumped back into the game on March 15th when I captured the "Sax Man" tag down near Clovis, CA:

And I set the new tag at Santa Clara city hall:

A brief affair

On August 8, 2009 I gave in to my i-want-a-new-bike-itis and traded in Ethel on a left over '07 CBR1000RR I found at East Bay Motorsports in Hayward. They lowballed me on the tradein but they knocked $4K off the price so I jumped on it. 

The power increase was huge. No hesitation on the throttle, just instant zoom. I could feel the potential for disaster if I did not take care. I was no longer in the comfort zone that I had been in with Ethel...and I needed to take time to get to know this powerful new beast. Mercurio - named for quicksilver - was both exciting and terrifying, and he definitely satisfied my need for speed. I could see many tickets awaiting me in my not to distant future...

I started to want to ride more and go further. I wasn't waiting for my riding friends to schedule a group ride, if they weren't riding I went by myself. I rode Mercurio everywhere. Sunny days, rainy days, cold or hot days I rode. My poor car sat neglected in the driveway gathering dust because I hardly ever drove it anywhere. 

Then in early September of 2009 I heard about a rider, Donald Masters, who had gone missing in Montana on August 31st. Following the news on the internet about the search for Donald led me to a forum called (a group of Honda ST1100 & ST1300 sport touring enthusiasts) where several members were actively participating in the search. Eventually, I was so impressed with the community that I found there that I became a member. 

I didn't matter that I had never seen or heard of an ST1100 or ST1300 before, or that I rode a CBR. They welcomed me into their group like I was one of the family. It was not long until I was attending st-owners events. The first time I saw an ST1100 I was smitten... Later when I saw an ST1300 I was in lust. By December of 2009 I realized that I had bought the wrong bike. While Mercurio was an awesome bike, if I had known about the ST's I would have never gotten him.

Oh, well, you live and you learn. I decided to make the best of it and make Mercurio be my ST until I could actually afford to get a real one. I wanted something that I could ride all and still be comfortable. I kept telling myself "one of these days"... I had figured out what I want to do when I grow up and retire: travel all over on 2 wheels. Now, how to make it happen...?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It didn't take long...

Soon, I was itching for a motorcycle that could keep up with the other guys on group rides. I sold Red on Aug 10th and bought "Ethel", a low mileage 1995 CBR600F3, on Aug 11th, 2007.

Ethel was a real sweet ride and a nice upgrade for me. I kept her a bit longer than Red and put a few thousand miles on her. Once I got comfortable with riding her, I was able to keep up with everyone else on the rides except in the twisties where I tend to take it a little easier than the fearless boys do. I'd rather take it easy, enjoy the ride, and live to ride again tomorrow... 

I even added an aftermarket exhaust and windscreen, all by myself - my first motorcycle farkling attempt. 

The day I took this picture is the day I will forever call "The Day of the Kite", June 21, 2009. I had been needing to get out and go on a little ride so I decided to head over Hwy 92 to Half Moon Bay. My not so elaborate plan was to find some cool little place to have lunch in HMB, then meander south down the coast on Hwy 1 to Santa Cruz, and later head back home via Hwy 17.

On Hwy 1 not too far south of the Hwy 84 turnoff I got clothes-lined by a runaway kite that came crashing down across the highway in front of me. I was going about 65mph in moderate Sunday traffic when I saw the kite come across the road in front of me - then I noticed the kite string coming across the lanes right at me. As the kite bounced off the road in front of the oncoming northbound car, I tried to lay on the gas tank to avoid the kite string while at the same time trying to safely do a quick stop.

I felt the kite string hit me in the upper chest and (with help of the traffic hitting the kite and knocking it around the road) go up and around my neck. I ended up killing the engine because I had to grab the string with my left hand so I could keep it from cutting me and still use the brake to finish stopping. I was able to break the string once I could get a hold of it with both hands. Amazingly, I didn’t freak out, wipe out trying to do the quick stop on the sand and gravel on the side of the road, or get run over by the cars behind me. All I had to show for it was a little rash on the side of my neck at the top of my collar. It would have never occurred to me that this could happen.

I gathered my wits, took a few deep breaths, and continued on my merry way as they say... I did slow it down a bit though just in case it was one those days where the weirdness keeps happening. I stopped at Pigeon Point Lighthouse for a few minutes and then stopped further down just past Waddell Beach to watch the para-sailors before making my way home.

It all started in 2007

Discovering motorcycle riding was the solution to my midlife crisis. Between being miserable at work and miserable at home, most of the fun in my life had disappeared. I was secretly fantasizing about just walking away from everything and everyone and starting over somewhere far away.

One day in May of 2007 I started noticing that several of the guys at work were showing up on motorcycles. They actually were coming in to work happy, with big stinkin' smiles on their faces! They talked about the rides they went on the previous weekend or the next ones they were planning. They were having tons of fun and I was having none. I was jealous.

I'd see them and I'd think how it wasn't fair that they were hogging all the fun. It wasn't long before I started thinking “Gee, I wish I could ride a motorcycle” but it wasn't a possibility for me yet. The day I made it past thinking of it as an impossibility and finally asked myself “Why can’t I?” it was a done deal. I decided to find out to see if riding was really something that I wanted to do. I went and got my learners permit. Then I signed up for the first MSF class I could get into which was in early July.

While waiting for the MSF class, with help from my friends Mark and Dave, I bought my first motorcycle, a used 2001 Ninja 250.

It was a Saturday when Mark drove up to San Francisco with Dave and I to look at, purchase, and bring home my little ninja. Mark had David push me around the culdesac where he lived until he was satisfied that I had the balancing down pat. Then he let me turn it on and ride up and down and around the culdesac for a while. Finally, he had Dave lead me around the neighborhood in circles, Dave on his SV650 with me close behind on the little ninja. I rode home from his house that evening and the next day I showed up at work with a big smile riding on my ninja.

I named my little ninja "The Little Red Rocket" or "Red" for short. I don't know why, I guess it's the only name I could think of at the time.