Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Old Indians Never, Ever, Die

Who knew that there's a Sturgis-type rally in Scotland????

Got an email from a chap across the pond, asking me to post this. Since it's motorcycle related and I liked what I saw, I said "Why not?". Check out the great trailer, below:

Old Indians Never Ever Die

November 30, 2009

Watermill present an hour long documentary film of the “Old Indians Never Die 2″ Indian Motorcycle rally, 24-26 July 2009 at Traquair House, Scotland, England.
The film is called “Old Indians Never, Ever, Die”.

Indian Motorcycles were produced in Springfield Massachusetts, Illinois, USA from 1901 to 1953. They were, in their day, the definitive American Motorcycle. Used by the Police, raced by top riders, hill climbers and stunt men as well as adored by the riding public. Sturdy and beautiful these bikes have a large following worldwide.

Over the weekend there were some 400 vintage machines from all over Europe, Australia and the USA.

The film is an affectionate portrait of the people who’s lives are so bound up in these amazing machines.


Hope you enjoyed this clip. Let's make plans to see this when it makes the rounds.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Sunday, November 15, 2009

End of Season Blues

Well, we ended the season on a high note today. We took a long, ambling ride to Vermont, on back roads, stopping to explore, get lost, get found again and eventually arriving at our destination.

I got my first ride on a Yamaha FJR 1300. My bike has been put up for the winter and a generous friend offered me the use of his second bike, which is currently for sale (email me for details).

What a beauty this bike is! And, if you know anything about this model, you know it goes likes a runaway train. As the ride was mostly on back roads, I didn't get to twist the throttle as hard as I wanted to or for more than a blip. With just a little input, I leapt ahead, quickly on the tail of whoever was riding in front of me. A real test of this bike would be on wide open super slab, where I could carefully watch the needle climb to it's top speed somewhere north of 150 mph.

On the return trip, at a red light, I looked across to friend Manny, astride his H-D Cruiser and he comments "Fast, huh?" With that, the light greened and I was gone, Manny still looking for 1st gear. I slowed down for the next light, only a block ahead and he smiled at me. Again, the light turned and I whacked the throttle, shifting through first to second gear at about 55 mph. I held it open for a bit and saw that I'd left my compatriots well behind me. Easing off the throttle, I stayed in the lead the rest of the way, until a gas stop forced us to re-group.

It's light, carries a full load in the side bags, is very well-balanced and has more engine than the transmission can handle. You almost need a traction-control setting for this bike. I was trying hard to keep the front-end down while doing my stop light drag racing. I didn't think Jason would appreciate my doing wheelies on his bike. Jase, if I'm wrong, can I take it out again tomorrow?

It was a good end to a short season, no thanks to the bad weather the northeast suffered for most of the summer. Still, a good ride, with great bikes (and even better friends) will keep me moderately satisfied until Spring comes around once again. Come February, you might find me in the garage with a beer in one hand, looking under my bike cover like a ten year old boy inspects female mannequins in a department store. By then, with the holidays behind us and the wish list catalogs repeatedly dog-earred, I'll be ready to ride again.

Have a great rest of the season, for those of you who don't have to tuck your bike away for the winter months. There's always the possibility for a warm-weather business trip and an early Spring.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Snow in mid-October?

As I sit here, watching the snow fall for the second time in a week, I guess I must come to grips with the fact that riding season is over. And it's only mid-October! The season is very short here in New Hampshire and was made even more so, by the wet weather that plagued most of the summer months. It rained here from March to mid-July.

Snow here in NH is expected by Thanksgiving but not this early. Our first snow event was Friday AM but western CT got dumped on the previous day. So, I guess we're not alone in this. Still, it makes for a swift ending for riding season when, in years past, we've seen days in December that were high in the 70's.

I'd like to speak to Al Gore about this global warming phenomenon and find out when palm trees will begin to grow here. When that happens, THEN I'll cut back on my carbon footprint.

The coming year should be an exciting time for motorcycling. First, there is a slew of new motorcycles being introduced by Honda. Second, as my business continues to grow, I think that I will be able to afford to take more trips than I was able to in this past year. My goal has been to be able to work from almost anywhere I can get a cell signal and an internet connection. I'm dreaming of a solo ride to Colorado, to see family members there. It's 2,000 miles each way, without side trips. If I can convince my bride that we can afford this distraction, then I'm off like a dog after a stick.

I didn't ride (or blog) much this year. The two are interrelated. With no exciting trips to report on, or even good local trips, I found myself using the time for other efforts. I'll make an effort to attend some of the bike shows this season and carry a camera to report on the new lines from the various manufacturers. One way to get thrilled about riding again is to pick up a new (or new to you) bike. I would LOVE to pick up a friends used Honda Magna and make a project out of it. It would make a great rat bike.

That's all for now. I'll write again when I have more time. For now, I hope you can still get out there and ride before Mother Nature shuts you down for the season.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Time flies...

They say Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. I don't know who first said that but it puts a smile on my face.

That being said, I see that it's been almost two months since I've blogged. Now that the Sturgis trip is behind me, I haven't got much at all to say on that topic. The anniversary of our trip passed almost unnoticed. I did get one email from Ken B. telling me that his commute to work during that week was mostly relived as some of the great rides we enjoyed a year ago.

The riding season was very short for us this year and I haven't done much riding at all, unless you count the desk that I'm seated at. Wet weather in the spring and early summer finally gave way to warmth and sun by August. We've enjoyed little more than one month of good riding weather.

We have one camping trip ahead, maybe two. The rest of the season will be spent riding locally with occasional stops at coffee shops to warm our hands.

I'll come back when I've got more to say but right now, I'm tapped.

I hope your season was better.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Friday, July 17, 2009

More lust in my bones!

Yeah, I'm sort of repeating myself here. This is reminiscent of my FIRST blog post, from @ 2 years ago. That was when I first saw the Yamaha FJR1300A in Black and was ready to switch my allegiance from Honda for the first time in years.

(Click on the title above to get the full article at Motorcyclist Magazine)
SPIED: 2010 Honda VFR1200
No racer-rep, the new model will be a supersport-touring V-4!
By Aaron Frank
Photography by Brenda Priddy & Co.

2010 Honda VFR1200

These are the first-ever photographs of the long-awaited, next-generation Honda VFR, shown here undergoing hot-weather testing at an undisclosed location in the American Southwest. Continuing its evolution as an all-around, GT-style sport-touring machine (rather than an aggressive, MotoGP-derived race replica, as earlier rumors hinted), this new-from-the-rims-up VFR looks bigger and brawnier than ever before. This suggests a return to CBR1100XX Blackbird-level speed and stamina, capable of challenging the BMW K1300S, Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX-14 for the supersport-touring crown.

So, Honda has finally done it and brought out a "big boy" VFR. The 1200T is up from the 800cc displacement of my last bike and hp is rumored to be in the 200hp range.

I'll admit, some of the bodywork looks a bit heavy and clunky. The bike will debut this Fall, at the October motorcycle show in Tokyo. We'll have a better look at it then.

MCN is calling it the most high tech bike on the planet. The VFR 1200T is rumored to have all sorts of cool tech to improve gas mileage and make it lighter and faster.

As for me, I plan to try to start saving again. No reason why I can't have both a cruiser and a sport-touring bike, right?

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ain't nothin' to bitch about!

Wow! After at least a month without riding, we finally had some dry weather and, more importantly, the free time to enjoy it. I've been privately chastised for not writing about riding, but honestly, it's only because I hadn't ridden in so long.

This past weekend's weather (and today's) is perfect. Perfect as in a perfect 10. Sunny, dry, low humidity, warm (but not too hot). This is the calm before storm, and I hope the storm is a long way off.

We had such a good turnout for yesterday's ride that we actually split into two groups. The short ride was to Greenland, NH to see the Ultralight Fly-in. The longer ride was to Ludlow, VT to gorge ourselves on sweet corners and pretty scenery. You can guess that I fell into this latter category.

We blasted across Route 101 past Peterborough and Keene, NH and onto Route 9. I wasn't keeping track of the roads but did enjoy when the opportunities presented themselves to do some passing and to get out front, with the Beemers. Vader was leading, with Jay in close quarters. I dropped in on them like a kook at North Shore. Vader was content to lead the way and I was content to put my focus on grinding down my floorboards.

The roads in Vermont are spectacular. We had a nice mix of fast and slow sweepers and only occasionally got stuck behind some slow cagers. The opportunities to pass them were minimal and, law-abiding citizens that we are, chose to bide our time rather than to pass on the double-yellow. We were rewarded soon enough, as nervous drivers looked back on a phalanx of motorcycles and took the first exit they could find.

Despite our unofficial motto of "Ride to Eat, Eat to Ride", I was not the one who kept asking when we were stopping for lunch. We paused at Hogback Mountain long enough to take in the view and several of the other guys were ready for lunch. Vader tried to take it in stride but, as our ride leader, our happiness (and empty stomachs) were a result of his route and pace. We eventually made it to Ludlow and the Potbelly for lunch. We were 8 happy riders when we finally stopped.

Jay had been watching my progress through the tight curves and was impressed with the way I hustled the VTX through the corners. When it feels right, it just feels right. The bike and I were one. It was if I were flying over the road, kicked back and relaxed. The was no real effort involved, it was a natural thing.

It did make me yearn, somewhat, for another sport bike. I imagined how much faster I could have been riding but I'm sure I would have eventually scared (and nearly soiled) myself! Now that I think of it, we didn't see too many sport bikes out yesterday. Where were they all? Or, have they all moved up to a more comfortable ride? I have no complaints today. I am perfectly content with this bike, for this terrain.

Jay was a bit fidgety on his BMW. I think it has more to do with the age of his bike than with the age of his bones. He probably just needs a new seat, after all the miles he's put on his. Nothing like a nice firm cushion, for your tushie. It makes the ride that much more enjoyable. As my wife says, "The mind can't absorb what the seat can't endure." That's doubly true when riding. A minor discomfort can distract from the whole experience.

Anyway, it was a great day. We (Jay & I) split from the group to beat feet home and missed "the bee dance". We hopped onto 91N to 89S to Route 13 (Concord, Goffstown, Mont Vernon to home). It gave us a nice end to the ride, after blasting down the highway at illegal speeds. See? Not even a cop scare to report, except for that early one in P'boro. Traffic was heavy and he never woulda caught us anyway. Hmm. 65 in a 40? It wasn't me.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Friday, June 19, 2009

We are living in a Media World (and I am a Media Man!)

The thought occurred to me that I live in a media-centered, ad-centric universe unlike many others around me. This epiphany came the other morning when I was a guest in my sister-in-law’s home. She remarked that her towels were scratchy and loofa-like due to her air drying them. Of course, I replied “Towels are kind of scratchy!” in the voice of the Creepy Innkeeper from the Verizon Wireless commercial. No one in the room knew what I was referring to. If you have to explain a joke, it’s not a very good joke or, so said David Letterman, of his recent apology to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Recently Dave made a comment about Ms. Palin being at a NY baseball game and her daughter getting impregnated by A-Rod in the 7th inning. Of course, he was referring to the older daughter, Bristol, who had a child out of wedlock at age 18, despite her then political candidate mother’s anti-abortion stance and her right wing bullshit that she taught her children to abstain from pre-marital sex. Ouch! I’ll bet that stung.

In any event, Dave was making a joke about the older daughter but unbeknownst to him, it was actually 14-year old Willow Palin who was traveling with her Mom on the recent NY outing. Oops! Dave did his best to apologize but it was all for naught. The haters had already spooled up and created a scene over a one-line joke and Mr. Letterman was forced to make a pseudo-apology. Ms. Palin accepted and we can all move on.

I suppose my focus on the media is due to my love of advertising (I watch the Super Bowl for the ads, really) and my work in Marketing/Ecommerce. Yes, while I am on the fringe, I still follow all of the media news and am fascinated at the many new ways to get one’s message across.

I quote commercials, if I think they’re funny or share a laugh with my teen if something is particularly entertaining. To me, it’s an art form and not an easy one to master. Many will recall the atrocious animated SalesGenie commercials that InfoUSA put on during the 2007 Super Bowl. They were poorly written (then-CEO Vinod Gupta actually credited himself for writing them!) and racially insensitive.

If you find the world of Advertising fascinating like I do, rent Mad Men, from Netflix, a fictionalized (and adult) look at advertising in the 60’s. Never have I seen people drink and smoke so much! They drink at work (in the office, self-congratulatory cocktails are always at hand) and smoke in elevators, in the office, in bed, almost non-stop. It’s an amazing look at an earlier time.

In the past week, I’ve traveled to both New York City and Boston, in search of expanding my empire (I like the way that sounds). My biz is up and running and now I need to find the right way to spread the word about myself and my/our capabilities. It’s slow going in this economy. It’s hard to prove yourself when you no one is willing to answer the phone to speak to you. I understand the pressure and the workload, as I’ve been on the other side of the desk before. Still, at a time when you’re business is going to hell, now is the time to find out what solutions exist in the market.

So, in a recession, when all around me will retreat, what will I do? What would Don Draper do? The answer is simple: I'll advertise.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Friday, May 29, 2009

Motorcycles and hearing loss

As I write this, my ears are ringing. For the past two years, I've gone for annual hearing tests as my tinnitus seems to be getting worse. What's the cause, do you suppose? Riding without hearing protection.

I can't blame all of my hearing loss on motorcycle riding. I did a lot of stupid things when I was younger and now my chickens have come home to roost. In the 1970's, live bands played at our school dances and I didn't think that there was anything cooler than to stand right in front of the band's speaker system to get a full dose of early rock classics, played by local musicians. Sure, I suppose if I'd had been feeling up Gina Statutore, instead of groovin' on Wipe Out, I might have better hearing right now. And then, of course, there was Arena Rock.

On one occasion, my brother won tickets to a Grand Funk Railroad concert from WPLR but his gf, Anna Marie, was being a bundt, so he gave them to me, with the stipulation that I take her younger brother Donnie to the show. Sure, why not. GFR rocked the house and about halfway through the show, we noticed that there were empty floor seats closer to the stage so, we eagerly moved forward. The sound was literally deafening. I couldn't hear much after the show and I remember that being the first time my ears rang for days (or weeks) afterward.

Post college found me working for a printing company, training for a sales job. We spent months in the bindery (no OSHA rules for mandatory hearing protection at that time) and in the press-room. Hearing protection was required in the press-room but the problem was, we couldn't hear the pressmen if we wore it! So, we routinely took it out and left it out. Big mistake. These days, all printing presses have enclosed areas (with all of the machine controls) nearby where you can escape the noise levels of the large machinery.

By then, the damage was done. Add to that the noise levels we take for granted at concerts, races, mowing the lawn, using a chainsaw and we put ourselves at risk on a regular basis. But, I had no idea how much damage wind noise can do.

If you ride with a full-face helmet, like I do, there's an assumption that takes place, thinking that since your ears are covered, your hearing's protected. Even with a great quality helmet, like the Arai that I wear, fit is a very important matter and, unless your ears are mashed into a helmet too small for you, air is going to flow through that helmet and whistle past your ears.

I noticed the effect of this, in full, last summer during our ride to Sturgis. Due to the long riding days, I was experimenting with different positions of my face shield. I have to state that, for the most part, we were riding well above the posted limits. Even when it was 65 mph. I found that the noise levels were actually reduced when I opened my shield into the full upright position. Why this is, I don't really know. I suppose that with the shield up, the air didn't have to sneak in and out of my helmet, like it did with only certain vents open.

I had purchased special earplugs for the trip. One of which I lost following our first day. I had other plugs, cheapies, that rolled up or squished down to fit. I used what I had, as often as I remembered.

On my last ride, we visited White Horse Press, in Center Conway, NH. Nice folks. They hold an annual event and offer a discount on everything they sell, during the Open House. I found a set of mold-able silicone plugs to use. You start with them rolled up as round balls and then flatten into your outer ear. I've used them on one ride and, so far, I like them. I'm not sure how long they'll last but I'll report back on this. Not bad for $3 and if I use them.

I have tried to impress upon my own child the errors of my ways, so that he learns from my mistakes. He's pretty good about keeping the volume of the stereo and his iPod, down. And he wears hearing protection when he mows the lawn or practices his drums.

So, if you hear me saying "What?" (repeatedly), cupping my ear to hear you above the din or seating myself centrally at any group gathering, you now know why. I wish it weren't so, but hearing loss is not reversible.

Here's a couple of good links for additional information (cut and paste):



Take an extra minute, before you ride off, to stuff something into your ears. You HEAR me?

A low, quiet wave,

Joe Racket

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, May 25, 2009 and I have little to do. Oh sure, there are a thousand things I could do, but none I have to do. That's the difference between a regular weekend day and a holiday. My obligations to self and family are no more than to fire up the grill in the middle of the afternoon and cook a palatable meal.

Yesterday's weather was a bit dicier than today's (sunny and warm) but since Sunday is our "normal" ride day, the wife and I saddled up with a short ride planned to visit the Shaker Village in nearby Canterbury, NH. I suppose it's a bit of an historical recreation like Sturbridge Village, down in Massachusetts. Still, having once been within a few miles without stopping, it seemed like a good destination for those of us not opting for the early and multi-hundred mile route that the club had planned for the day.

We made our way across Bedford, jumping onto 101, headed East towards the coast. Our jumping off point to head North was Candia (Candy-O, I need ya) but soon the sprinkles began. A few miles further up the road, they became steady and I pulled off the highway to confer with the missus. A line of rain was sweeping West-to-East across the state, with the leading edge the furthest East. That meant that our ride North would encounter this rain, with potential for heavy downpours, with the Southernmost part of the state missing out. Suit up and go on or save this ride for another day?

We decided that rain suits would be a drag and so turned tail, headed South through Auburn before turning West through Manchester. We had a nice ride through the city, much quieter on the weekend than I suppose it is during the week.

Returning home, we tucked the bike into the garage, tucked into a big lunch (and the Indy 500) before doing taking care of some other errands.

Perhaps we'll get out for a short scoot today. The weather's nice and I wouldn't mind going out just to hear my exhaust roar as I click through second and third gears. The cacophony of acceleration beats out the steady hum of highway riding, every time.

And let's not forget why we have this extra day to enjoy ourselves, our families and our hobbies. I extend my thanks to veterans everywhere and those in my family who have served, to bring us peace, safety and the American way of life.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Slow Ride (Take it Easy!)

The weekend is almost here and I am practically OUT OF MY MIND with happiness. You see, tomorrow (Friday) I get to ride to a client meeting waaaay the F over in VT. It's about 170 miles each way and the weather looks just perfect. It should be in the high 70's by the time we return. I say we, 'cause my buddy, Box, set up this meeting for me and he's riding there too.

On Saturday, most of the entire state of NH will converge on Center Conway to attend the Whitehorse Press Open House (and BBQ). There will be music, food and discounts. I plan to meet two Twitter buddies there (Corry01 & Two Wheels New England) and say "hello" in person. Plus, I get to push the VTX hard across the Kancamangus Highway, one of the BEST roads in the state.

On a recent ride, the thought occurred to me that it's NOT a matter of how FAST you ride but rather, how SLOW you CAN ride. Think about that. I'm an adrenaline junkie like many of you and I have scared the crap outta myself more times than I will admit. You get a perfect patch of open highway, nary a cop in sight and you pin back that throttle and play boy racer. It's a load of fun to get so much wind that you got to duck way down behind that tiny windscreen. And then roll it back and be Joe Model Citizen, again.

A better measurement of how good a rider you are is how SLOWLY you can ride your bike. Can you maneuver it at speeds below 10 mph? How about below 5 mph? Can you do this and do it consistently? I'm not talking about a parking lot turn-around or a stop-n-go. I mean riding and controlling your bike at speeds just above a stall. That takes skill.

I may not be the best rider in our group (or maybe I am!) but I will consistently challenge myself to exert more control over my scooter every time I ride. It's the exact OPPOSITE of what so many car drivers do: get on the highway, put on cruise control and turn off their brains. I want to be ACTIVELY involved in the control and handling of my bike. It takes attention to small details, the road, the engine, clutch feathering, etc.

Anyway, I've got two days of great riding ahead of me and I am so looking forward to this. It's been a while since I was so jazzed about riding. I think it helps to have a destination and a plan, as opposed to aimless wandering (sorry Joe!). Getting lost never made me moist.

I hope you all have a fun weekend ahead. Riding season is truly here at last.

A low, slow wave

Joe Rocket

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A few pix from DC

Here's just a few pix from our day today. We had a blast riding the Segways around DC. We did a 3 hour tour of all of the major tourist spots. Two wheels in parallel are almost as much fun as when they are in-line...

Easter Island Totem:


The Capitol Building:

Back view:

The Mall:

That's it. I'm done for now. Will talk to you soon.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Having a chat with Mr. Obama

Well, at long last we're off on a family vacation again. 2008 found us all scattered in different directions: G to Spain for a month, Ma to Bar Harbor to do trail building and repair and my own two-week trip to Sturgis, SD.

In the hustle and bustle of our crazy schedules, we have little quality time together. I know that it will take us a day or two to get to that happy place, where we connect again as a family but it will happen soon enough.

Our trip will take us to Washington, DC where I jokingly promised to say hello to President Obama. My son thinks I'm a bit nutty but I enjoy perpetuating that sentiment. Some say I'm "colorful". I've been called worse.

We've got a long drive ahead but the Outback is a comfortable whip, cruising effortlessly and smoothly at highway speeds. We'll be there by early evening, depending on traffic and necessary stops. I'll shoot some photos while there and post them upon return.

We had a good ride Sunday to Palmer, MA. Manny led us to the Steaming Tender, a restored train station, filled with antiques and memorabilia. We had a lazy, winding ride down, through South Central NH and into MA. Leaving at about 10:30, it was nearly 1PM by the time we were seated. The "Tender" seems to be a popular destination for bikers. If it's not because of the location, it must be because the food is excellent and the waitresses overly attentive. Aside from the tasty chili, nachos and 1/3 lb. burgers, I can attest to the fettuccine with peach-infused cream sauce. What a delicious taste combination!

That's our feckless leader, Jerry, providing the one-finger salute, my task when I'm not behind the camera. Apologies to Crumpet for catching her dislodging a bone in her throat but the group was too large to pose. We had 13 riders astride 12 bikes, after Gary dropped out in Jaffrey. Feeding this large group took ample time and by the time we were sated, fat and bloated, some got the urge to take a faster route home. Our ride up the highways, through Worcester and up 495 were uneventful, dull and hectic. Heavy car and truck traffic shunted us to the safety of the right lane, where we puttered along slightly above the posted limit.

I'll write more with Washington, DC details and provide an update on our next group ride. Summer came early to NH but it looks like Spring will be back in the morning. Our high temperature of 94 degrees today was daunting and I'm looking forward to more comfortable riding weather.

It's black-fly season here but, that will be over soon enough (and replaced by mosquito season). Stay well, stay healthy and I'll see you out on the road soon.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Time Like the President's

The great stand-up comedian, Norm Crosby, influenced me as a young person, as I watched him ply his trade on the late night shows. The Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson, and all of the daytime talk shows as well. He represented the immigrant American through his use of shtick concerning his poor command of the English language. As an artist, I knew he was so much smarter than the character he played, even though he never broke from character.

Norm's "fractured" English, tickled my sense of humor. I "got" the joke. I got that he had such an intimate understanding of language that he could poke fun at it, intelligently. There was the irony. "No time like the President's". For me, there's no time like the present to be taking on my new position.

Over the past four weeks, I've been laying the groundwork for a new role. The response I received from potential partners was overwhelmingly positive. It's time to shake up the old conventions and put the pieces back together in a new way. Like the Spring season unfolding around us, I'm planning a season of growth and re-birth.

Riding season is coming awfully slowly to New Hampshire. It's been cold and windy and rain is forecast for tonight and into tomorrow, Sunday, our normal day for club riding. Still, we managed a short scoot on Friday night, following the warmest day of this past week. The temperatures will fall again this week and be seasonally cool.

As a group, we have not yet gelled this year. Over the past season, we had so many new riders and so few chances to meet them all. A flurry of new names and email addresses bounced about that, at times, I'd felt like I should be wearing a name tag. "Hello. My name is...Joe Rocket". With the slow start, there haven't been many organized rides. I know that on the first nice day we get, the turnout will be overwhelming. 20-30 riders will show up and we'll all do that introductory do-si-do as we try to learn each others names, faces and riding styles. Despite our best efforts to organize the group off-season, some people will only come out for the rides and will defer the socializing until they get to know us better.

There are several rides already planned for the season including Nova Scotia, Gettysburg and several camping trips. It's been a long time since I've packed up my bike and headed down the road. I'm looking forward for the first chance to do just that. The short ride the other night was therapeutic. I wasn't focused on the stress and issues of the preceding week. On a nice long straightaway, I whacked the throttle back and instantly zipped down the road. A quick look in the mirror showed me how quickly the others fell behind. Acceleration is the best high!

I had plans to get some track time this year, plans that I'll have to put on hold. I think this will be another year, like others, where Summer slips away unloved. We have a lot to get done this year, in addition to launching my biz.

So, I hope I get a few memorable rides in this year. I hope the weather warms and I get to put some miles on my bike, in the company of my buddies. There's so much promise in the coming year.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Step back, step forward. Take a look!

Have you ever noticed that if you change your perspective, ever so slightly, that it makes a world of difference in your view? This has been happening to me a lot lately.

It happened to me again today in the midst of a discussion with my new E-commerce partner. We were discussing how they bill for Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and they informed me that they simply billed for the amount of time it took them to manage the buys rather than as a percentage of the spend. So, instead of recommending a high-cost PPC, with an accompanying high commission for themselves, they charge the client honestly and fairly for their efforts. Wow.

All it took for them to devise this rate structure was to understand what was best for their clients; not their own business or shareholders. Simple and equitable.

When was the last time you took a look at your own pricing model? Is it customer-centric? Do you have their growth, profitability and goals in mind or, do you serve a different master?

If you're a buyer, when was the last time you asked a new vendor partner to meet with you, to learn fully how they differentiate themselves from others in the marketplace? With business as awful as it is, now's the time to be creative, open new doors, try new options.

If I were a buyer (and I have been), I'd have a veritable open-door policy right now and I would learn everything I could about potential partners, to the advantage of my company.

As a seller, I'm pleased that I have excellent products & services to offer which are fairly priced. And that, my friends, will win out every time. So......step forward and take a look!

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Sunday, March 8, 2009

First ride - 2009


What a nice weekend we had! The temps almost hit 60 degrees farenheit Saturday and today, Sunday, looked to be almost an exact repeat. I had challenged the other club members to see who would get out for the first "official" AMC (Amherst Motorcycle Club) ride for the year. I put a few parameters around it, to make sure everyone had a little skin in the game, but by and large, it was just me putting a stake in the ground to hurry the season along.

The ice on my driveway was giving me fits. At some points, it's 6" thick and very hard to break up. I spent hours yesterday clearing a swath four feet wide and about eight feet long. Rain was forecast for last night and I had hoped that it would help me complete the task. It didn't. It couldn't have rained that much last night as there was little change.

I was determined to get my bike out today, especially since Jerry stopped by yesterday and provided "supervision" while I put the seats back on, etc. Today, I got an early start and was chopping away when my elderly neighbor Tom, from across the street, came out to do the same. He was chopping with a steel snow shovel circa 1960! He's a good guy and took my ribbing in stride. Before you know it, I had stopped my work and was chopping ice across the street. We almost cleared the end of his driveway when I realized I was running out of time. Back to my own labor!

Tom is great and in a moment was across the street to help me clear mine. Here's what I got to by the time I decided to go ride:

I forgot to mention that two other riders beat me in the race to start the ride season. Cabin Boy & Crumpet got together for a little riding yesterday, making a small loop before feeling the chill and returning to base. Cabin Boy was eager to get out again today and, by the time I'd cleared a path, I saw that I missed a group of riders by about 90 minutes. So, my first ride of the season was a solo one.

I headed down Route 3 until I crossed the MA state line, made a U-turn at the Westford/Tyngsboro exit, headed North to Hudson, NH where I picked up Route 3A, the rural route on the opposite side of the Merrimack River from Nashua. It is a pretty, lazy, wending road following my high-speed blaze down the super-slab. I made the ride up to Manchester, by the airport, before heading West towards home. All told, I did just short of 60 miles.

The Happy Camper, at the end of his first ride for the season:

So, two days of "Manuel" Labor for a less than two hour ride. In my mind, a great deal. Oh, by the way, Old Man Winter is not through with us yet. The forecast is for a fresh 3-5" of snow and sleet during the day tomorrow. But, I don't care. I know we're on the back side of this mess and soon we'll be out riding in warm breezes to far-away destinations.

All I can say is "F" YOU Winter, you lost again.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Been thinking of you, y'know, Down Under

If it weren't for Twitter, I probably would have paid little attention to the bushfires in Australia. The latest news is that over 200 people have lost their lives already, many more having lost everything they own.

Now that we're all connected in this new social network, more than a few of my followers are located in Australia and now I have a compelling need to know that these new friends are "Ok".

Technology is shrinking the world, as more people are able to communicate about things they have in common. The only obstacle now is language and, I'm sure that once Google or some other tech company has figured out how to do on-the-fly translation, the world will shrink even more.

Suddenly, issues that are localized to one continent like the wild fires in Australia or the situation in Darfur will more personal, more in the collective consciousness. And that, my friends, will be a change for the better.

I'm hoping you and yours are well today. The snow isn't gone yet and riding season still seems too far away. Sorry to get all serious on you. I'll revert to happy-go-lucky again once I can clear these seasonal cobwebs.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Friday, February 13, 2009

Call it a social experiment

Todo esto es el hielo y la nieve para llegar a mí. Me siento un resentimiento hacia la construcción de invierno, el frío, sal, arena. Mayor que con la travesuras en el trabajo, los despidos, la economía, la incertidumbre del futuro de mi empresa y ya tienes la idea. Es algo cada vez va a ser el mismo otra vez? Necesito una salida a estas emociones.

Jerry era "tan amable" que me llame a partir de Daytona Beach, el sábado. Dijo que es necesario una temperatura de verificación (de NH), mientras que sentado en algún lado de la playa cangrejo choza de conseguir su alimento.

Estoy en necesidad de algunos de dos ruedas terapia. Necesito una cálida brisa para volar bajo mi visera lleva el tenue olor de la madreselva y la sal del mar el aire. Necesito el olor de aceite y gasolina, mezclado con el sudor, el cuero y el caucho.

¡Ja! Me recuerda a mí mismo de un producto que vi hace años, para las carreras de aficionados. Es una vela en forma de un neumático y, cuando está iluminado, despedía el olor de la quema de caucho. Ahora, si eso no es un don que sólo puede ser apreciado en una "cueva de hombre", entonces no sé qué es.

Últimamente, mi Twitter ha adicción me presentó a un montón de gente de todo el mundo. Me reuní con el Sr. Ken, que es abandonada en Sturgis, SD para el invierno y el uso de Twitter para evitar que la cabina loca. Conocí a un montón de personas en Australia que están disfrutando de su verano, pero el uso Twitter para conectar con el "resto del mundo". Uno me dijo que se sentían aislados y Twitter les ayuda a sentirse más conectados con gente de todo el mundo.

Twitter La comunidad está creciendo exponencialmente y voy a intentar "Tweet" antes de que algunos de nuestros paseos más largo para ver si puede reunirse con algunos de esta gente en persona. Si desea unirse a la conversación, vaya a www.twitter.com. Me pueden encontrar allí joerocket.

La primavera está haciendo un esfuerzo para llegar el día de hoy. Temps se espera alcanzar 50 grados y algunos de la nieve y el hielo se derretirá fuera. Tenemos una semana de este tiempo para conseguir nuestros fundirse en. He sido reticentes a utilizar cualquier arena en el camino de este año así que espero que el tiempo y un poco de sal se eliminará el hielo compactado.

Si el nombre de una chica de verano, hacen suponer que tendrá que utilizar la fase, "la venida de verano" mucho? Bueno, la primavera está en camino, Punxsutawney Phil ser condenado. Se puede tomar un tiempo, pero antes de que nos conocemos, nos quejandonos el hecho de que estamos a caballo y el DPW aún no ha barrido los caminos todavía. Al menos hasta aquí, esto no ocurre hasta alrededor del Día de las Madres o algo así.

Estos últimos meses en torno de la sesión, hunkered debido a condiciones meteorológicas y la necesidad económica son un lastre. Al menos lo que puedo permitirme un tanque de gas este año y las telarañas claro ahora y entonces. Voy a tratar de hacer más de camping este año y puede incluso aprender a gustar. Me enteré de un viejo truco de los campistas sobre el secreto de dormir sobre el duro suelo. Se llama Benadryl y whisky. Esta combinación asegura una buena noche de sueño cada vez!

Hice un comentario en línea recientemente que parecía resonar con otros ciclistas que haya encontrado. Algo a lo largo de las líneas de "El invierno es cuando tenemos previsto que todos los grandes paseos que prometemos a nosotros mismos vamos a tener, con el tiempo". La vida es muy corta. No quiero tener lamenta por el camino. Quiero ser un viejo motociclista con un millón de millas bajo mi cinturón algún día.

El invierno es duro en las carreteras hasta aquí. Las carreteras se mierda durante un tiempo, pero voy a arreglar para ser devueltos, de mi asiento hasta que el heaves heladas han disminuido o se han reparado. Esa es la disyuntiva de que hacer grandes carreteras de montaña, uncluttered autopistas, aire y agua limpios.

Es hora de sacar el calendario, iniciar el marcado algunas vacaciones, de conectar en unos pocos viajes largos y rellenar alrededor de ellos con nuestros habituales paseos locales. Sí, voy a hacerlo este año. De hecho, me voy a Yahoo ahora para publicar un calendario de viaje en línea que todos mis compañeros de club de corredores puede añadir a.

Todos ustedes tienen un gran día de hoy, domingo. Tal vez mi piel y ver si se ha reducido durante los meses de invierno ... heh-heh!

Una baja, la lentitud de las olas,

Joe Rocket

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Grande Venti

All this ice and snow is getting to me. I feel a building resentment towards Winter, cold, salt, sand. Couple that with the shenanigans at work, the layoffs, the economy, the uncertainty of the future of my company and you get the idea. Is anything ever going to be the same again? I need an outlet for these emotions.

Jerry was "kind enough" to call me from Daytona Beach on Saturday. He said he needed a temperature check (of NH), while he sitting at some beach-side crab shack getting his feed on.

I'm in need some two-wheeled therapy. I need a warm breeze to blow up under my visor carrying the faint smell of honeysuckle and salt sea air. I need to smell oil & gasoline, mixed with sweat, leather and rubber.

Ha! I just reminded myself of a product I saw years ago, for racing fans. It's a candle shaped like a tire and, when lit, it gave off the smell of burning rubber. Now, if that isn't a gift that can only be appreciated in a "man cave" then I don't know what is.

Lately, my Twitter addiction has introduced me to a lot of people from all over the world. I met Mr. Ken, who is stranded in Sturgis, SD for the winter and using Twitter to keep from going cabin crazy. I met a bunch of people in Australia who are enjoying their summer but use Twitter to connect to the "rest of the world". One told me that they felt isolated and Twitter helps them feel more connected with folks around the globe.

The Twitter community is growing exponentially and I will try to "tweet" prior to some of our longer rides to see if I can meet up with some of these folks in person. If you want to join in the conversation, go to www.twitter.com. You can find me there as joerocket.

Spring is making an effort to arrive today. Temps are expected to hit 50 degrees and some of the snow and ice will melt off. We need a week of this weather to get our melt on. I've been hesitant to use any sand on the driveway this year so I hope that the temps and some salt will remove the compacted ice.

If you dated a gal named Summer, do you suppose you'd use the phase, "Summer's coming" much? Well, Spring is on the way, Punxsutawney Phil be damned. It may take a while but before we know it, we'll be bitching about the fact that we're out riding and the DPW STILL hasn't swept the roads yet. At least up here, this doesn't occur until around Mother's Day or so.

These past few months of sitting around, hunkered down due to weather and economic necessity are a drag. At least I can afford a tank of gas this year and clear the cobwebs out now and then. I'm going to try to do more camping this year and may even learn to like it. I learned an old campers trick about the secret of sleeping on the hard ground. It's called Benadryl and whiskey. That combination assures a good night's sleep every time!

I made a comment online recently that seemed to resonate with other bikers I've met. Something along the lines of "Winter is when that we plan all those great rides we promise ourselves we'll take, given time". Life is very short. I don't want to have regrets down the road. I want to be a very old biker with a million miles under my belt someday.

Winter is tough on the roads up here. The roads will be crap for a while but I'll settle for being bounced out of my seat until the frost heaves have subsided or have been repaired. That's the trade-off we make for great mountain roads, uncluttered highways, clean air and water.

It's time to pull out the calendar, start marking off some vacation time, plugging in a few long trips and filling in around them with our usual local rides. Yep, I'm gonna do that this year. In fact, I'm off to Yahoo right now to post an online ride calendar that all of my fellow club riders can add to.

You all have a great day today, Sunday. Maybe I'll get my leathers out and see if they've shrunk over the winter months...heh-heh!

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Enough's enough...

This is getting ridiculous. Another huge storm, thankfully we kept our power this time. It's an icy mess outside and tomorrow we'll all have to go back out in it again.

Ken says that he'd rather use an air conditioner than heat his house. I suppose he'll be off on a jaunt to Florida soon.

Daytona's coming up soon too, and some of you are migrating that way. Myrtle Beach is a bust and I hear that other towns may try to pick up the slack and happily take our tourist dollars.

I need therapy and need it soon. Cabin fever is setting in and I can feel the walls closing in around me. It's time to bust out, get outdoors (without freezing one's butt off) and get some fresh air.

I need to hear the motor purring under my seat, thrumming away, medicating my soul with it's powerful pulse. And, in that moment, my worries and cares will dissipate and I'll be myself once again.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cabin Fever

Here's a short video post from an online friend in Michigan. Check out the video by clicking on the title or cutting and pasting the link below:


He's got cabin fever as bad ass we all do. Can't wait to ride again. Jerry is off to Florida to ride a rental bike. I'll bet he wants to upgrade when he returns...

A low, chilly wave,

Joe Rocket

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gran Torino Blog Post addendum

Sorry folks! I was just reminded by my younger brother that I left out a car. How could I forget the 1968 Torino Fastback we all enjoyed???

This was the car I enjoyed most in high school. It was purchased from one of my Dad's co-workers at Met Life as my sister's car. Not sure if it was to replace the car that got stolen (a Buick?) from the local service station, later found in an orchard on the outskirts of town, with bullet holes and evidence that they tried to torch it. No one was ever caught.

Anyway, this was a sweet tan (ok, beige) color with black racing stripes. It had a small block V-8, a 302 I think, and a three speed automatic on the floor. After sister went off to college (Good ol' F.U.) it was mine for a while, until I got the cancer-ridden Camaro. Then my brother Robert (Bobby then) took it over.

It met a sad demise in Bruce Carr's driveway early one morning. It went up in flames and burned to the ground. All that was left was the shell and some seat frames. So sad. It got towed to our house and I recall seeing the remnants of my brother's silver key chain, melted onto the floor. Small bits of molten silver had been deposited as the fire raged.

It was a fun car, one I would like to still have. Then again, if it had been a convertible, it would be worth something today.

Oh well! Lots of good cars have slipped through my fingers over the years. It's hard to imagine anything we drive now ever having the cachet of some of the muscle cars we've owned.

A low, slow wave (and a tip of the imaginary hat to me brudder),

Joe Rocket

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shoveling out my Gran Torino

Last night, we had a motorcycle movie night, out with the gang, to see Gran Torino, the new movie from Clint Eastwood. I’m not sure of all of his credits (for this movie) but I do know that he acted in and directed this effort. This is an incredible movie, with powerful messages about racism, generational stereotypes and the capacity for change. Wow. What a movie. I won’t ruin it for you but I recommend it highly.

Seeing the “car star” of this movie brought back memories, for me. The visual centerpiece of this movie is a cherry 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport. It reminded me of the 1971 Gran Torino my family owned, one of many Fords for us. My Dad was a hardcore “Buy American-type” when it came to purchasing autos. True, one of the first memories I have is of standing on his lap “driving” the old Volvo Humpback sedan, but he always bought American, after that. In hindsight, I realize that maybe I was just allowed to have my hands on the wheel while he drove and that we were moving at a speed of less than 10 mph, as we navigated Lakeview Drive. Perhaps my love of all motor vehicles came from that early sensation of speed.

Mom’s new white ’71 Gran Torino four-door was a family car, replete with bright blue vinyl seats, easy to keep clean with four kids constantly sliding in and out of it. It replaced a beautiful (1966?) pale butter yellow Pontiac Bonneville convertible, nicknamed the “Soul Train”. Mom’s car, as is often the case, is the car you live in, while Dad’s car, either the ’69 Mustang Mach 1 or the ’71 Mach 1, were driving cars and no French fries or milkshakes were allowed within. I seem to remember that it was me who DID spill a milkshake in the interior of one of the family cars. It had to be my mother’s Bonnie and I seem to recall it running down from a rear speaker embedded into the rear bench seats and disappearing between the cushions. Dad was furious, Mom shrugged it off. No doubt my father spent time later that day detailing that car to amend my error.

Speaking of the Soul Train, I was perusing Hemmings Motor News a few years ago and I found the Bonneville for sale. I doubt that it was our car but it was damn close. It was available for sale in NY State and I still kick myself for not having the funds or the room for a car that seemed to be longer than the inside of my garage. I learned to drive in Brother Jay’s VW Beetle, one of many. The low hp made it easy to shift, more or less, and how is he to know how many times I ground the gears in the educational process? Once I had driving down, at the age of @ 12, I would lift the keys for the Bonnie, drop the top and drive that car around the neighborhood at idle, sitting atop the driver’s seat, leaning forward only slightly to steer. Seems like that car would coast at @ 8 mph, which is a nice safe speed when you’re nowhere near a brake pedal. One of the neighbors would eventually alert my mother to the fact that a skinny kid was driving in circles in her car perched atop the seat and she would race out to yell at me to put the car away. I can’t tell you how many times I took that ride but it was many.

From the VW Bug(s), to the Bonnie, to the Gran Torino, to the Ford Maverick (pea soup green, no less) to the paint-challenged ’70 Chevy Camaro: these are the cars of my youth. But, there was one more vehicle that changed my life. A small, mini-bike with knobby wheels and a 5 hp Tecumseh engine. Somewhere in my pre-teen years, this used scooter entered our lives. It was too late for my older brother to use, by then he was probably into his first car. My younger brother and I took turns on this thing, riding the perimeter of our small suburban lot, tearing up the lawn and making a perpetual hard-packed dirt track around the yard.

When we were old enough to venture out of the neighborhood, we’d ride to the nearest Esso station and buy a half gallon of gas for a quarter. Then, we’re race it home, on town streets, and duck back into the ‘hood before the cops spotted us. Eventually, we’d ride deep into the woods, traversing the trails and power line roads that joined our neighborhood to another, where our school friends lived. More tales of juvenile delinquency will have to wait for another day.

So, the cars led to the mini-bike, which lead to the motorcycles. Growing up, only one kid I knew had a real bike. His name was John (Jack) Maculitis. We all called him Jack or Jackie, except for Howie, who referred to him as Mackie Ejaculitis. Yes, I learned some new words from the older kid in the neighborhood. He had a quick wit and a perverse sense of humor. In his house, farts were funny and meant to be shared. My Dad would have given him a good beat down, if he could have. None of those shenanigans were tolerated in our house.

I see that the snow has stopped falling and it’s time to get out the shovel. We got another 8” of light, fluffy powder overnight. Last month we set new snowfall records. January is off to a record pace, itself. Personally, I’m thinking of warmer climes and the chance to ride year-‘round. And maybe that’s what I like best about riding, that sensation of the warm sun on your face, wind in your hair, where you’re 12 again, atop the front seat of the most beautiful car in the world.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket