Friday, April 30, 2010

Wet and dark commute

I woke up around 3:30 am and couldn't fall back asleep so I decided to get up and go to work early. It was still dark when I mounted my V-Strom and pulled out of the garage. Soon I heard the pit-pit-pit sound of rain hitting my face shield.

It was a dark ride into work, and wet. I had fairly heavy rain most of the way in. As I was riding, the thought occurred to me that I was no less comfortable than if it was 43 degrees and dry. The only difference when it rains is visibility gets reduced slightly.

I put lemon Pledge on the outside of my face shield to shed water. Ironically, I can see better when riding in the rain using that method than I can in my car with the wipers going! I also rub shaving cream on the inside of my face shield to prevent fogging. It works like a charm.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I was taking a shower this morning before work when I happened to glance upward. In the corner of the wall and ceiling I saw a very long-legged spider presumably doing some web work. I've been to many campgrounds and have taken showers where spiders were present, but never in a position to drop down on me and do its best Little Miss Muffit impression.

It made me nervous.

I'm not normally afraid of spiders, although I do have a healthy respect for their ability to ruin an otherwise good day. I once walked face-first into an orb weaver's lair while hiking. Having a face full of spider web was creepy enough but I quickly realized I had my mouth open at the time and could feel the little guy dancing around on my tongue. They say animals are more afraid of us than we are of them. I doubt that.

Like I said, I'm not normally afraid of spiders, especially when I can see them coming. But seeing one hovering around above me while I'm naked and wet is another matter. This one was clumsy, too. He kept slipping off his web and falling a few inches before catching himself. I wondered if he was trying to psyche me out, like a mixed-martial artist throwing feint jabs right before launching a round kick to the side of his opponent's head.

I couldn't stop looking up. My mind was calculating fall trajectories, wondering where he'd land if he fell off his silky perch. Would he hit the soap shelf and bounce onto my arm? If he fell all the way to the bottom of the shower would he scramble over to my foot? It felt ridiculous thinking these things, but I couldn't help myself. Spiders are one thing. Spiders hovering above you while you take a shower is another matter entirely.

That spider no longer exists. Well, he does, but he doesn't quite look the same. Let's just say he's an ex-spider and leave it at that.

What does all this have to do with motorcycling, you ask? Last summer my buddy Mike had a yellow jacket fly into his helmet while his face shield was cracked open. The little bugger stung him several times on the temple before he could safely pull his bike to the curb and remove his helmet. His eye swelled up, making him look like he had gone two rounds with Mike Tyson.

Thinking of what happened to Mike, after I disposed of the squatter arachnid I had the thought, "I'm sure glad spiders don't fly."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mini Marmot, twice!

Sunday was a riding day. The weather was perfect. Warm enough and dry. I took the Marmot route and saw a string of Mini Coopers coming the other way, at least a dozen of them out on a rally of some kind. I was in the zone and my cornering was better than usual. When I got home I had two thoughts: "I should do this again!" followed by "And I should film it!"

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I dug out my Oregon Scientific action camera and strapped it to my passenger foot-rest facing backward, then headed out again. Just before heading down the hill on Ten Eyke Road I started the camera rolling. Again, I was in the zone and added 5 mph to my average cornering speeds.

Marmot Road is somewhat bumpy in spots and after a few miles I began to notice the camera was twisting in its mount. It was mounted just behind my left foot and on straight stretches I was able to reach down and rotate it back to a level shooting angle. Once Marmot Road came to a T at Barlow Trail road, I pulled over to find a way to firm up the mount so it would stay level.

And that's when I noticed the camera wasn't even on! I turned it back on and used a piece of paper towel to wedge the camera in place. After a mile or so I glanced down to the LCD display on top of the camera and noticed it was shut off again. When I got to Lolo Pass road, the turn-around point, I pulled into a driveway and checked out the camera again. It wouldn't turn on at all. Apparently the brand new batteries I put in it were old and wouldn't fire it up at all.

All was not lost. Although I was unable to film the second run, I had some great riding experience and got some fantastic practice on my cornering.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

28,000 miles

I rode to work today, after being out sick. I very rarely get sick, but when I do I try to get the rest I need to heal quickly rather than work through it. That approach accomplishes two things: makes the illness last longer, and gets my co-workers sick as well.

I heal quickly and felt well enough to ride today, the only dry day of the week. My bike is still filthy from the trip I took to Long Beach two weeks ago. I gassed up the bike and noticed that I was getting really close to rolling over 28,000 miles.

I'll hit that milestone about halfway home after work today. The bike has been rock-solid and given me nothing but smiles.