Saturday, May 10, 2008

What a difference a week makes!

168 little hours....Sorry to paraphrase Phoebe Snow but, what a difference a week makes. The leaves popped, the grass is growing, the rain has stopped (for now) and the temps are climbing. Suddenly I feel some enthusiasm for the potential of this riding season. Or maybe that's just the pollen affecting my brain.

Admittedly, it's been pretty crappy here, weather-wise. This weekend could be the start of something BIG. This weekend is Mother's Day and the weather on Sunday looks to be good. Hopefully the forecast will hold. Did you remember Ma or your children's mother? If you're good to her, maybe she will let you ride on Sunday.

It was another crazy week for me, what with a trip down to New York City and all. Last week it was a two-day run to Rochester, so this week's trip paled in comparison. Still, sitting on yer ass, speeding down the highway to the Nexus of the East Coast Universe is stressful. Thankfully I had my Tom Tom Rider, affectionately known to us as "Chad", along for the ride. Nary a missed step, except for user error, when I programmed my destination as E. 30th Street instead of E. 39th Street. Oops! But I caught my error minutes before I would have reached my erroneous destination and it was a minor delay.

This was a business trip that turned into an opportunity to see some old friends. I won't bore you with all the details but I parlayed one cancelled meeting into an opportunity to see some buddies. If you know me, then you should know that I don't give up easily on friends. I'm as loyal as an old dog (yes, I'll admit to having sniffed a crotch or two!). I'm glad I was able to see people that I like, with whom I've shared good times.

Tonight I saw another, in downtown Milford. She is a sweet, older woman who befriended my wife years ago when they worked together. She has a heart of gold and every time we see her, I light up. She is such a good person, so full of love and compassion. I want to find an appropriate way to show her how much she means to me. People like her are in very short supply and need to be cherished.

Sorry to go off on a tangent but, it's late and I should be sleeping. I could almost go for a nice, hot pot of coffee but it's nearly 3AM.

Anyway, as I was saying, the weather's improved, I have a day of riding planned and I'm getting excited about the season, again. I think I've been on two rides so far this year and, if you read last week's missive, am not commuting to work on the bike, either. But I'm pumped about this weekend and can't wait to get out in the wind and sun. I'm sure that I will want to order that new seat. I also need a bike cover for the trip and am considering one of those mini covers that just cover the top half of the bike. It would roll-up a lot smaller and I am starting to get concerned about how much I can pack on the scooter.

So, come Monday, I'll be on the phone ordering a new seat, a bike cover and maybe a few other necessities. Catalogs are starting to pile up around here. I've decided to "rough it" on my current bike rather than shoot for the new bike, the FJR 1300. There's something to be said for riding all the way to Sturgis and, doing it less than "perfectly equipped" will add to the level of adventure. Just wait until I try to pack all my crap on this bike and I realize I have to leave half of it at home! I figger I can get by for two weeks on two pairs of jeans, five t-shirts, a pair of 'dwares and some socks. And just maybe some body spray to cover the funk.

I'll try to write an update following Sunday's ride. The late hour is taking it's toll on my mental processes and I'm slowing down. I just realized that I wasted 10 minutes looking for a dumb photo to add to this post. Yeah, I thought it was funny and then lost all my momentum. Right now I need to crawl back into some sweet dreams and let my mind unwind.

I've got more trips planned for next week and am looking forward to the first one I can pull off on my bike. With gas prices rising again, even motorcycling is getting expensive. A friend remarked on the cost of her recent fill-up, which shocked her. I'm sure it was an all-time high for her. Biker chicks rock. Girls with tats rule. Biker chicks with tats just make me drool. See? My mind is turning to mush. I gotta go.

A low, sleepy wave,

Joe Rocket

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Life Behind 'Bars

Editorial note: The gas prices below were corrected following my initial posting. Kudos go to "Eagle Eye" Shane, for his aggressive proof-reading and fact-finding style....

Dear readers and riders,

Another hectic week has passed and my work and writing have suffered, as a result. I'm numb from the pace and know that the next few weeks will bring more of the same. I enjoyed a short work week as a result of two personal days out of the office. Thursday/Friday saw us dashing across MASS and NY states in the car.

After two days of highway driving, I can tell you that I would prefer to avoid the blandness of the interstates as much as possible on our Sturgis ride. The sterility and sameness will make any highway riding a boring part of the trip. Perhaps it's just the industrial Northeast that looks this way or, will it suck until we get West of Chicago?

On the Mass pike, we got boxed in by a long line of tractor trailers who hogged both lanes for a good 10-15 miles. As a result, our average speed through that section was probably 50 mph. Eventually we were able to pass and break free of the congestion but none of those 18-wheelers were about to pull over for a car trying to go 75-80. There's no way they would have moved over for a motorcyclist.

Traffic overall, was heavy for this trip. And gas prices outside of NH were astonishing. Unless you were willing to purchase the no-name brand gasoline, expect to pay close to $4/gallon. We stopped on the NY State Thruway and I refused to put in more than $10 (at $3.75/gal.), enough to get us to our destination. When we reached Rochester, the price was worse, at $3.87/gal. for my preferred Mobil brand. WTF????? That's $.40 more per gallon than we pay here. And I thought we had it bad already!

Today is another wash-out for riding. As I write this, sitting on the couch and watching my favorite Italian princess Giada DeLaurentis cook (and jiggle), the rain outside is pouring down. This is the remnant of the Midwest storm that trounced Arkansas. The realization set in yesterday that this season is going to be a short one. That is, unless we see warm weather all the way through November. With less than 90 days until we depart for Sturgis, I'm hesitant to service my bike or even make the purchases I'd planned to customize it for the ride.

The folks at Mustang Seat offer a 30-day return policy but I can't even imagine getting out more than a few times, in that amount of time, at this point in the season. Even if the weather cooperated, I've been driving a co-worker (who lost her license) to and from work. This wasn't a concern through the winter months but now I'm ready to ride on the occasional nice day. But I can't, thanks to her. She tends to dress in shorts or skirts and open toe shoes/sandals. Plus, she doesn't own a helmet and my old one won't fit. I'm trying to gently encourage her to find other options but I think they are very limited. So, all the miles I put on my bike last year commuting to work, won't happen this year.

So, here I am, not riding for fun or work, thanks to the vagaries of the weather and personal obligations. So much for being a nice guy.

I'm off to NYC this week to meet with, among others, Martha Stewart. Well, I don't know if we will get to meet the domestic diva herself, but I have a meeting with her minions. After that, a quick trip to Orlando, before month's end, for a trade show.

I'm afraid that riding season will "sneak up" on me. It's here but it's not here, y'know? And then, if we're lucky, it will be sunny and warm (or hot) every day and I won't be ready for it. So, what to do? Soldier on, I guess and make preparations to get to Sturgis. We have a planning meeting soon for the four horsemen. Perhaps we can negotiate route planning and come up with an alternative to the current direct (interstates) route.

In preparation for the trip, I'm getting a physical this month. Yes, I'm seeing my cute doctor again and will let her investigate every orifice. I want a clean bill of health for the trip. The weight issue has stagnated and I need to start exercising. I wish that Poet would send me his workout regimen as his results have been transforming. I don't know that I have the wherewithal to get up at 4AM and head outdoors for a long walk/jog/run. But I have to do something. I've plateaued and I'm back to all of my bad (eating) habits. You know, beer, chips...Today will be my last day of freedom and I will attempt to get back on the good foot. Tomorrow.

I'm hoping that some of the readers from other states will comment on their current riding conditions. I'm fortunate that readers have stumbled across (StumbleUpon) this blog and have read it. I'd like feedback from riders outside of New England. How is it in California? Texas? How about Arizona? How is the riding there, this time of the year? I'm hoping that within five years, I can find a new home, with better weather which will allow me to ride year-round or close to year-round. I know a lot of us think about this, so let me know what you are experiencing and your favorite local riding spot.

My apologies for the gloominess. It's a weather thing. See me when the barometer is rising and we'll tear up some asphalt together. Oh yeah, and Happy Cinqo de Mayo!

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket