Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006's parting shot

Any year that I'm still around to reflect upon couldn't have been all bad, but 2006 was far from my favorite year of motorcycling. Work requirements, family schedule, unexpected medical issues and extreme weather conditions conspired to keep me off two wheels a good bit of the time. I had so much non-riding time on my hands in 2006 I even had time to start up a stupid little website!

My mileage for the year was around 4,000, the lowest in years. Much of that total was commuting; I wasn't able to take any trips, including my sorta-annual trip to Americade. Nor did I have more than a handful of long Sunday-morning rides. Worse, my best shot at a really long ride on a nice twisty route ended early when one of the group I was leading encountered a surface defect in mid-corner, got stood up and soon thereafter discovered that full-dress Harleys don't make good dirt bikes. Fortunately, the rider suffered no serious injuries and a couple of hours of roadside battle-damage repairs had his bike back on the road.

2006's last insult was on Friday. I left my office early and had an enjoyable ride home via some excellent twisty back roads in the Brandywine Valley. But about 100 feet from my driveway, I felt the rear tire run over something that I hoped was merely a rock. In the garage, I discovered a piece of metal sticking out of the tire. It was larger in diameter than a nail and it took a lot of work with my pliers to yank it out to discover it was a cylindrical machined piece of hardened steel about 2" long. I have no idea what the cylinder is for, other than flattening Bridgestones that is. The tire had about 6K on it and was getting a bit squared-off from commuting anyway, so now I have a good excuse for replacing it. As well, my front tire is starting to cup as well so I'll likely order a set from my favorite tire vendor, Southwest MotoTire. I think I'll also take the opportunity to train myself on the use of the Stop 'n' Go tire plugger I bought a couple of years ago to replace my old kit. I guess it would be nice to familiarize myself with the kit before I need it some day on a roadside in the middle of nowhere, plus having a kit and knowing how to use it probably guarantees I'll never need it.

Well, here's wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable 2007, hopefully with many miles of tilted horizons!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gearing up for Winter!

Although we've had unseasonably warm temps the last few weeks, it appears Winter is now setting in. It was 30F this morning when I left for work at about 0630, yet I was fairly warm during my 45 minute ride in. Even though I have no electric clothing or grip heaters, I can stay safe and warm enough in temps lower than many would believe (my record is 10F), although the miles between coffee stops on longer rides does decrease as the temperature decreases. This is what I typically wear in near-freezing and below temps:
  • Base Layer: wicking-fabric briefs under thick wicking-fabric long-johns (top & bottom) from Aerostich
  • Socks: (very heavy weight) SmartWools
  • Aerostich long-sleeved Windstopper fabric jersey
  • Aerostich Darien fleece pants and jacket liners
  • Rukka Windstopper-fabric neck warmer
  • Aerostich Darien jacket (3/4 length) & Darien pants
  • Gloves: Olympia model 4100 Weatherking Extra II Goretex-lined leather winter gauntlets. If it warms up over about 40F, then I switch to my Lee Parks designs PCI DeerSports.
  • Boots: Rev'It! Fusions (allegedly waterproof)
  • Helmet: Arai Signet GTR, clear shield
  • Aerostich Triple-Digit glove rain covers to help keep the wind off my digits when the temps dip below about 25F
This combination, almost entirely made from modern synthetics, keeps me plenty warm and dry without being excessively bulky. Layering allows me to add or remove items as the temperature swings. In my experience, the keys to staying warm in very cold temps (which means staying dry, too, both from sweat and rain) are a good wicking base layer, followed by a sufficient insulating layer or layers, covered by a windproof/waterproof outer layer.

Safety: My pants and jacket are armored. The jacket has large reflective fabric patches on the rear, front and both sides. The pants have reflective patches on the legs. Additional reflective bits are on my boots and a little SOLAS tape on the back of my helmet, visor and on the rear of my side cases and top case. This time of year I usually ride both to and from work in the dark, so making myself more conspicuous to the cagers is very important; therefore,
I typically throw on a hi-vis yellow reflective vest (I got mine from RideSafer).

Please share your gear list or recommendations by clicking on "Comment" below.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Bookmarks Are Now Delicious!

I'm making my private motorcycle-related bookmarks public. My bookmarks are in my Mozilla Firefox browser, so I'm gradually re-bookmarking and "tagging" (categorizing) them using, a social-bookmarking website. This process will take quite a while (I have hundreds of bookmarks), so check back from time-to-time to see what's new. Scroll down the right-hand sidebar to find my "cloud" of tags, and then click to view the associated links. Please feel free to comment below or email me with any websites you believe should be added or to report any bad links.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And Now For Nothing Completely Different...

...It's the anniversary of the airing of the 45th and final episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus on the BBC in 1974.

Friday, December 01, 2006

So What Exactly Is Sport-Touring?

Well, for starters I've pasted Wikipedia's definition (current as of this moment anyway) below, which is the result of social collaboration of a number of sport-touring riders (I contributed the last 2 sentences of the 2nd paragraph).

Sport touring

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sport touring refers to a style of motorcycle design, or a philosophy of riding. It is an attempt to blend performance with long-distance capabilities while providing comfort and relative safety to the rider. Sport touring has evolved over decades from simply strapping a bag to the back of any sporty motorcycle to a very specified genre of motorcycle riding for which specific models of motorcycles, luggage, riding apparel and other accessories have been designed.

Yet, sport touring is truly a frame of mind more so than a product appellation. Sport tourers come in all flavors, and whether riding an ST-specific motorcycle or their old "beater" with a duffle bag strapped to the seat, it's the ride that matters. It's not the destination, but the journey. A sport-tourer seeks out beautiful scenery, interesting (or just plain weird) attractions and most important of all -- twisty roads. A sport-tourer's path between Point A and Point B is seldom a straight line; it's often the most convoluted possible.

Most sport touring riders also have a riding life outside of their travels. Weekend rides with friends, commuting or just running an errand on two wheels may also put miles on a sport-touring rider's odometer.

Sport-touring aficionados tend to disdain those who only ride their motorcycle a few miles to a restaurant on a sunny Sunday, and some feel outright contempt for any able-bodied person who would trailer their motorcycle behind a pick-up truck to attend a rally. Though a very diverse bunch in other aspects of their lives, what unites sport-tourers is their relentless pursuit of the perfect road -- be it in their backyard or across the continent.

Sport-tourers tend to install accessories, called farkles, to better enjoy the ride.

Lastly, sport tourers are often recognized by the gear they wear. A favorite motto is ATGATT: "All the gear, all the time," which means the sport-touring motorcyclist will not ride in shorts and a t-shirt. When a non-rider asks "Aren't you hot in all that gear?", a good standard reply is "Well, thanks for noticing..."