Monday, June 30, 2008

Motorcycle Blogging - Reflections After One Year

Well it's been a year this month since I started this blog and it's been a heck of ride and a huge learning experience.

The idea to start blogging came to me as a good way to practice writing and the cool thing about it was that someone actually would read the stuff I wrote.

One of the first pieces of advice I got about blogging was that the subject should be something that I really enjoy talking about and could sustain enthusiasm for over a long period of time. If it was readers I wanted then I would need to keep the focus of the blog razor thin.

I made a short list of potential subjects and motorcycling was at the top. One of my favorite things to do is to go on motorcycle rides with my brother in-law and somewhere along the way we would end up in a coffee shop. There we talked about motorcycles, motorcycle adventures we’ve had, adventures yet to come and the philosophy of the road.

So I thought I would continue the conversation through blogging and let everyone interested- in on what I had to say.

But the trick was it had to be interesting enough for people to want to read. Otherwise I might as well just stick to conventional journaling and forget about blogging on the Internet.

I decided to give it a go and see where it takes me. I made a commitment to running Motorcycle & Scooter Talk at Kano's Coffee House for a year and then decide whether or not to continue.

It turns out blogging is way more time consuming than I ever imagined. And I've found it difficult coming up with new things to write about while still keeping within the subject at hand-motorcycles and motorcycling.

Which is why I've decided to expand the focus of Motorcycle & Scooter Talk out just a bit and begin to write a little more about other things, not necessarily directly related to motorcycling but hopefully of interest to motorcyclists.

And feeling restricted by single subject talk, I have a couple of other blogs going such as The Sustainable Earth Project and two more under construction; Further! Boomer News & Views and Hippieland.

But Motorcycle & Scooter Talk has been a lot more positive than negative. I've had a bunch of fun reading and replying to comments folks have left for me, visiting other blogs and leaving comments for them.

I've also found that the experience has been an exercise in self-discovery. Writing has helped me focus on who I really am and made it more clear on who I'm not. I have come to know myself better than ever before.

I've learned both in writing and in my own personal growth, how to adapt without losing integrity, to refine and to re-focus. To keep at it until I know I've done the best I can do.

I’ve come to know that personal blogging for the long haul has got to be a labor of love; it's an act of self-expression, an art with the canvas being a blank computer screen.

The reward has been the satisfaction I get when occasionally I feel that the right words have been put down that shine a light on my soul and reveal my spirit within.

And the big bonus to blogging is the feeling of appreciation I get when someone has read my work and left a comment.

Comments and the number of subscribers Motorcycle & Scooter Talk has are my feedback and inspiration for continuing to write.

And so, all things considered I've decided to give it another year at least and see where the road goes. I hope you all stick with me and come along for the ride!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Motorcycling Out To The "Oregon Country Fair"

The first time I went to the "Oregon Country Fair" was back in the early 1990s. My wife and I literally stumbled upon it on our way back from a weekend at the beach.

Even though the fair has been happening every July since 1969 and somewhere around 50,000 people attend, we hadn't heard of it! Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. A cool thing like that and practically right in our own backyard!

This is no country fair like you'd think a country fair to be though. There aren't any cattle barns or farm implement displays, just a nostalgic re-visit of the free spirited 1960s on 280 wooded acres about 15 miles west of Eugene.

This year the fair will be the weekend of July 11-13 and I'll be firing up my motorcycle and once again I'll ride out to the country and back in time to 1969.

Read what Kano says about the fair and see more pics over at Kano's Further! Boomer News & Counter-Culture Views

The Oregon Country Fair Website

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

How To Calculate Your Motorcycle MPG

-(Kano goes Gonzo on this one!)

My Sportster doesn't have a gas gauge so every time I fill up I reset the trip odometer and I know that my 4.5 gal. tank is running on fumes by the time I hit the 140 mile mark.

One time I forgot to reset though and that was the beginning of an adventure I'll soon not forget involving 3 overly-aggressive members of the Chamber of Commerce in an SUV, an empty tank o' gas and a full case of Michelob Light...Let's just say that those guys were all business, they got away with my wallet and left me their calling card which was a cut above my left eye and some cracked ribs...but that's a story for another day...

So anyway, to get back to the subject at hand here which is calculating gas mileage...

To tell the truth I didn't pay much attention to how many miles I was getting to a gallon until recently. I just figured I'm doing better than a car and that's good enough for me. But inspired by the hypermiler car techno geeks, I've been easing up on the throttle a bit lately.

I used the trip odometer method on my last tank of gas and figured I'm getting about 35.15 MPG in a combination of highway and city riding for my commute to work.

So what kind of gas mileage is your motorcycle really getting? Here's two ways to easily calculate how much of that liquid gold your burning:

Calculating MPG
Odometer Method

MPG can be calculated in four easy steps:
Step 1. Filling the gas tank completely and writing down the odometer reading (mileage). Example: The last time the tank was filled, the odometer reading was 2,645.1 miles.


Step 2. When it's time to refuel, filling the tank completely and writing down the number of gallons it took to fill the tank and the new odometer reading. Once two odometer readings are taken, MPG can be calculated. Example: The next time the tank was filled, the odometer reading was 2,785.3. It took 3.3 gallons to fill the tank.


Step 3. Calculating the distance driven by subtracting the previous odometer reading from the new one. Example: The distance driven would be 2,785.3 minus 2,645.1, or 140.2 miles.


Step 4. Dividing the number of miles rode by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. The result is the MPG for that riding period. Example: 140.2 miles divided by 3.3 gallons equals 42.48 miles per gallon.

The MPG for that riding period would be 42.48


Alternate Method

If you use your motorcycle trip odometer, MPG can be calculated by:
Step 1. Filling the bike's gas tank completely and re-setting the trip odometer.


Step 2. When it's time to re-fuel

Filling the tank completely
Writing down the number of gallons it took to fill the tank
Writing down the mileage on the trip odometer
Re-setting the trip odometer
Example: It took 3.3 gallons to completely fill the tank, and the trip odometer reads 140.2 miles.


Step 3. Dividing the number of miles ridden by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. The result is the bikes MPG for that driving period. Example: 140.2 miles divided by 3.3 gallons equals 42.48 miles per gallon.


I used to feel kind of smug about the whole thing, me riding a motorcycle and getting great gas mileage while the cagers are paying a much higher cost for getting from point A to point B. Not anymore, a lot of those guys are getting as good or better fuel economy than I am. -Well, I'm having a lot more fun than they are!

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Extend the life of your tires & get better gas mileage by keeping correct air pressure.
Accutire MS-4710B Motorcycle 5-99 PSI Digital Tire Gauge

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

American Motorcycle Gangs vs. Taliban Bikers?

30 Insurgents on motorcycles attacked an Afgan prison freeing upwards of 1,200 nasty Taliban criminals. Read the complete NY Times article.

I don't like the Taliban much.

Their into killing Americans, covering up women, stoning people to death and generally imposing their own brand of Islam on everyone else. I like them even less now because they used my favorite mode of transportation, the motorcycle, for evil purposes.

I say let's show them a thing or two and send in a regiment of Hell's Angels complete with their Hogs and let them kick some Taliban biker butt!

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Metro Vacuum Air Force Blaster 10 Amp 4 HP Motorcycle Dryer #B3-CD

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Fathers Day Motorcycle Ride

It's Fathers Day and even though my Dad passed on many years ago I'm not going to forget him on this day.

I'm going to ride my motorcycle up to the old cemetery for a visit.

It doesn't seem like I need to go anywhere to visit him though, let alone a cemetery. He is still alive in my mind. I can visualize him doing just as I had seen him do a thousand times, standing on the front porch of the house waving goodbye as I went.

My Dad always did that when I left, he stood there on the porch and waved even if it was just the day before when I saw him last and would probably be the next day when I saw him next. He always took the time to stop whatever he was doing to go out on the front porch and wave goodbye, as if it would be the last time he would ever see me.

One day it was the last time. At least physically. He is ever present in my mind and because of that, I don't need the cemetery as a reminder.

I'll ride my motorcycle up there though and take my son along. Maybe that will be a lesson for him and me. That time on this earth is limited and that we should appreciate each other and the time we have together more.

I'll tell my son and daughters about my Dad, because they never knew him. When my kids grow up and leave home, I'll appreciate them coming by for a visit and I'll stand on the porch and wave goodbye when they go. Just like my Dad used to do.

Happy Fathers Day all you Moto Dads out there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kano The Motorcycle Miser Shows How To Save On Gas

Lately I feel like I'm taking it in the shorts six different ways. Yesterday I filled up my Sportster which takes premium gas. It cost me $4.27 a gallon. The word going around the coffee house is to expect $5.00 a gallon by summer's end which translates to about $5.25 for premium. Who ever thought gassing up a motorcycle would be a major expense?

Everything else seems to have gone up too. I stopped at the store on the way home and dropped a 10 spot for a gallon of milk, a carton of eggs and a pack of gum. Jeez!

I've been making some changes in my riding style to make up for all this though. One way I found to save a little of that liquid gold is to hit the kill switch and coast the rest of the way when I get close to my destination.

Another thing, I've come to realize that gunning the engine at stop lights is impressive to my ears only and maybe some small children.

I don't hit the throttle hard and burn rubber when taking off anymore either. That really sucks up the gas. An additional bonus of taking it a little more easier is the windfall of less traffic citations and consequently cheaper insurance. I also don't need to buy new tires all the time.

Keeping the speed down helps too. Not such a problem with a cruiser as it would be with a sport bike. Building up speed gradually, that's the way of the miserly rider.

When there's a red stop light ahead I ease off the throttle and time it so it turns green before I reach the light. That way I don't have to stop and start again.

Yep, there's nothin like the sensation of slowing down, hitting a tight corner and gunning the throttle to get back up to speed on a straight stretch but I've given that up too. I just keep in the back of my mind the sensation of an empty wallet and an empty tank o' gas.

Keeping the bike finely tuned and up on all the maintenance is important too when it comes to gas savings. Now that's somethin I haven't been so good at. My maxed out credit cards sorta put the brakes on that idea for now anyway. I did add air to my tires though after getting a comment from a wise guy about how nice my low profile tires looked. Properly inflated tires can save up to 3%!

Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Baby Boomers Motorcycle Rally Coming Soon Near Portland, Oregon

There's nothing like a Pacific Northwest summer to have some fun. The place to be on July 18-19, 2008 is Vancouver, Washington which is just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Some great motorcycle rides can be had within a few hours of Vancouver as well, The Columbia River Gorge, Mt. St. Helens, and the pacific coast beaches to name just a few.

Downtown Vancouver will host "The Baby Boomers Bikers Rally" (everyone welcome of course) and in nearby Esther Short Park will be the "Hot July Nights" event featuring two nights of concerts with the likes of Peter Frampton, Norman Sylvester, Johnny Limbo & The Lugnuts and The Beach Boys.

For more info check out the Baby Boomers Bikers Rally webpage and the Hot July Nights webpage.

Frampton Comes Alive (DVD-Audio Surround Sound)

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Unknown Hero of Tiananmen Square

Once in awhile a photograph captures an event or an emotion that immediately gets seared into the minds of those who view it. The man shown in these famous photos is defiantly blocking the way of a column of tanks heading for Tiananmen Square during the Chinese uprising of 1989.

This post is dedicated in honor and remembrance of that heroic man and his courageous act that changed everything on June 4, back in 1989.

History does not record his name or what happened to him. Some say he melted back into his ordinary life following the incident. Others say he was arrested and executed.

Some details are clear though and it’s in those details that make the story even more interesting.

This man was not a student leader of the uprising. This was not a planned or choreographed protest. The shopping bags in his hands and the style of his clothing indicate that he was just an ordinary man on his way from the market heading for work or home.

When he saw the tanks entering his city and on their way to repress and possibly harm his fellow citizens he was outraged enough to risk his own life by stepping in front of a tank.

A seemingly ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing.

It was a simple yet heroic act, yet it had the power to change the world forever. That image was broadcast worldwide repeatedly and he became an inspiration for many.

This was a late 20Th century David vs. Goliath story.

Now these days the battle lies between us ordinary people against the giant oil companies. They have us by the throat and we are struggling to free ourselves or die.

Society's addiction to oil has reached it's terminal stage. Just like heroin addicts know, the high doesn't last forever. The gas high is gone and the gas drug is starving our children, destroying our economy, funding terrorism, and killing our planet. Oil has become a disease.

In our lifetimes we may not get the opportunity to do such an extraordinary thing as the "Tank Man" did in China. But even so we still can stand up to Goliath. We can symbolically stand in front of our own gas guzzling vehicles and say "no more, not in my town!"

We can choose to ride our motorcycles, scooters or bicycles, we can use public transportation, car pool, or walk instead of driving a car. Every gallon saved brings us one gallon closer to slaying the gas giant.

Enough people making more responsible choices can make a collective difference. We can set the example, be the inspiration for others, and together we can change the world. Society needs to get serious about alternatives to oil for fuel.

As the unknown hero of Tiananmen square taught us, it takes just one person to have the courage to stand up, soon others will join us.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Does Bill Clinton Ride a Motorcycle?

It turns out that Oregon was pretty important as far as primaries go in this year's presidential election. Obama was way ahead in the polls here but The Clinton's put a lot of effort into trying to make it close. It was not to be though. If Barack and Hillary were motorcycles and they were racing, she would have been a 250cc dirtbike and he would have been a neck snapping sportbike.

So when I heard that Bill Clinton was going to be in Salem at the community college just down the street, I couldn't pass up the chance to check it out. This was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to hang out with my Bro Bill Clinton!

I eyed my motorcycle sitting there in the carport, I was tempted to ride. This time it would have to stay home though, too hard to justify to my wife not taking the short walk. She wouldn't understand the urge.

We walked over to the college only to find a long line of people waiting to get into the gymnasium. Finally the line starting moving slowly and then the doors closed leaving several hundred of us shut out. They ran out of space for everyone to get inside the building.

Within minutes a loudspeaker had been rigged outside and Mr. Clinton began his pitch for Hillary.

Man can that guy talk! He must have spoke for an hour or so. Pretty impressive since no one expected her to win in Oregon and for him to spend as much time as he did speaking. I kind of thought he would make just a token appearance, say a few things and hit the road headed for the next stop.

Then I heard him announce that he would come outside to meet the rest of us.

Since his speech was somewhat "long winded" my wife ran out of time and had to leave to pick up the kids from school. She thrust a digital camera into my reluctant hands and disappeared into the crowd behind me. I barely knew how to use the thing.

I'm glad I had the camera though because out comes Bill with his entourage of aides and Secret Service Agents. I happened to be standing at exactly the right place. Hundreds of people thronged behind me, a mass of onlookers all around, some even climbed trees trying to see.

I looked at him and he looked at me and he said "how are you doing?" as he reached out and shook my hand.

Then he moved on to the next guy, my camera was put into action. I was excited and glad that I would have something to show people, some close-up shots of Bill Clinton. I snapped away like a frenzied paparazzi, then stepped back to let others in close.

I personally met Bill Clinton, arguably a man with more power and influence than anyone else on the planet during those 8 years he was President of the United States.

And you know, before I met him, I was in awe of his celebrity. He was someone I knew a lot about, I've seen his pictures in magazines, newspapers and on TV, but in a way he seemed unreal to me.

Meeting Bill Clinton in person though affected me somehow. Looking him in the eye and shaking his hand changed him from seeming like a super human who is above the rest of us to a real human being just like the rest of us. I realized that in more ways than not, we are the same.

I wonder if he ever gets a chance to ride a motorcycle, maybe, well maybe not.

I do know one thing though. Bill and I, we've just traveled on different roads in life that's all. Both those roads began in the same place and will end in the same place. We really are just two kindred spirits. Equal as we have always been in the mind of God.

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