Saturday, April 21, 2018

Deja Vu?



SOMEHOW it seems odd this trip.  After the last two visits to Phx I spent in a hotel room feeding the local feral cats, coming back to my southern US home this trip is anti climatic.

I have a bed again!  Yu Hooo
I'm "moving" in again.   

Patio is tidied.

It's been nearly 10 years since I first moved in and at that time I had no furniture whatsoever.  I spent the better part of the first week on an air mattress!  Eating take out food.

Last year has been like holding back a big boulder!


Much different now due to the circumstances but nevertheless, in many ways I am once again, moving in.

After the flood of '17, the place is pretty much rebuilt.  On the main floor things were pretty much stripped down to the block walls and upstairs the first 2' of sheet rock down needed rebuilding.

This is my first visit since repairs were completed just before the first day of Spring.

We walked the Waterfall Trail at White Tank Park


With a pleasant time-out while Holly flew in from Seattle for a short stay, it's been day and night sifting through many dozens of boxes looking for this and that.  Many times I had to go through the same boxes remembering what had been put there by the construction crew.

Truthfully I still need a few hours to go through the last of the packed boxes but for the most part I am up and operational. I've had to purchase some items that were discarded after the flood (caused by a leaking toilet tank) but although I no longer have my dresser drawer or night table, it doesn't matter.  I have plenty of room and bought more hangers for the closets!

Very pretty easy trail, no water in the canyon of course.

On another trip I will complete the moving in process but for now, things are fine and I feel like I've done nothing but work for 2 weeks!

I was checking out maps yesterday, looking for some ideas on where I may ride in my remaining short time, it's been 18 months since I last had the 350 out in the desert/mountains.

Sun L scooter, my mule.






Pedals at the ready





I remade her private rampart perch!

Boo can sleep standing up!

THE scooter is doing yeoman service once again and I an't tell you how pleased I have been with this little 150cc SUNL Adventure scooter.  It's reliable, gets around 80 mpg and I can cruise at 50mph/80kph all day long.  Only the fastest traffic leaves me at green lights, most times I'm not passed till after 40 mph which is good enough in town.

Been a great bike!


The XT Yamaha took three kicks to start even though the fuel in the tank was bought for $2.20/gallon, nearly 2 years ago!

I bought this bike because it was simple, reliable and available.
I'm on my way to the library and a few errands and when I return I will take up the map quest again and decide on tomorrow.

For now, it's life as usual here in the desert...

It's hard work being beautiful and lovable

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

No picnic being a Dad...

 


Up at 3:30 am... couldn't sleep.  Been a common occurrence for many years now, caused mostly by dull aching pains punctuated by sharp dagger/needle pricks around my right hip and back.  I don't like sitting for long periods.

This stems back to the 2002 rear ender, and has been getting progressively worse as the years go by.

I climb outa bed hobble around to the living room, hoping to get some sleep on the couch and not bother the cats or wife.

As I'm laying there looking up at the bookcase, I think back to a month ago when little bitty Izzy, after climbing the ladder to the top as she often does, was rushing around eight feet off the floor on her 24' drag strip, and overestimating her traction, took an unintended leap off the end!

Izzy doing what cats do best.

I saw the tail end of that and was at her side within a couple seconds but she didn't seem any worse for the leap/fall.  It's only 8 feet and I read somewhere that cats have survived 10 times that jumping/falling off buildings. Cats have an uncanny ability to righting themselves and landing on their feet. In fact both Einstein and then later one of his daughters, Scribbles ended up in my neighbors 'yard' three floors down when they were young!

As I'm laying on the couch, remembering these things, I'm thinking to myself that being a Dad can be a thankless task.  After all, from the moment you hear the words "I'm pregnant, and it's not yours..." (just kidding) you enter a new world.

I've watched my own daughters who are now both in their mid thirties, with both pride and trepidations over the years.  We have covered a great deal of ground since they were born and always of course there is that underground fear.  My friends think I joke when I comment that having lived to fifty, the remainder are bonus years.  I actually believe that.

Things most definitely change once you have kids.  If you are a parent you'll understand what this means.  It's not so much a fear of myself getting lost in the desert or being hit by a car or having a heart attack... all three of witch have happened to me in my own lifetime, but a fear for them

Take Holly for example, my eldest.  We've often talked about her traveling spirit, sometimes into less than safe environments.  Bouncing around in the bed of a decrepit pick up truck in Central America, various countries in south Africa and backpacking for months throughout Europe as a teen. 

Much of my family thought I was a poor father for allowing these adventures, but truth be told, how can you expect your child to behave in a manner that contradicts your own?  That would be like telling them to stop smoking as you light up.

Anyway as I am trying vainly, to get comfortable on the couch, these thoughts are racing through my brain.  The age old juggling between what is good for them, when you should encourage and when to apply the brakes. 




Coco waiting impatiently for our flight to PEI  "Let's go Dad"
It's never easy being a parent. 

The last ten years I have spent as a second adult in my relationship with Brenda.  Her adopted daughter is now 17 and believe you me... she has been more than two fistfuls over the years.  Her defiance, attitude and actions border on the edge of a cliff oft times.  I say as a second adult because my input into parenting has been wholly unwanted.  That's the truth.  Sometimes I question what in fact my role is or if I even have a roll? 

Like the three cats, the three girls all have different personalities and of course we hope with age comes wisdom both for cats and kids, but regardless, and despite a parent's best efforts, a child can turn out a hundred ways.  It's often as much luck as skill... and unlike a motorbike... they don't come with instruction manuals.

Lisa, my younger daughter is now married and a parent herself.  She is realizing that it's become a whole new gig, lots of sleepless nights, feedings and changing of diapers.  Pretty much a thankless job, but if we are looking forward to it being easy, I have a piece of property in Florida that I can sell you cheap...

Don't get me wrong.  I am and have always been an involved Dad.  I love my girls, all three of them although there are times right!

Somewhere around 5:30, I realize that I did manage to get a little sleep, Tylenol helps. I was woken by Coco, my latest rescue cat that I found under the tarp of my Ascot 500 on my Phx patio 18 months ago.  She seemed to be saying to me... "dad, come to bed and keep me company."
 

My '82 Ascot 500
 

I did.



 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Let's get this show off the road!



I'VE been itching to get some chapters done.  No, I'm not writing a book, although 9 years of this Blog could certainly qualify as one. 

CLOSED Early!

The last time I rode my Phx based XT 350, it was the fall of 2016. 

That's a very long time for me. 

Fortunately I have covered a fair bit of ground on my Canadian bikes in the interim.


No way I'm getting in there...

ON that ride I had set out to find my way to the Old Stage Coach road at the community of New River, which at one point connected the Prescott area to Phx.  I've ridden several parts of this road, my favorite being the southern return from Prescott on the Senator Highway* a few years back. This time I was heading North.


Me on the Stage coach road... Happyface!


Steeper than it looks!
Of course, I got lost, asked directions from a local walking his dog which ended up getting me more lost, when the route he had suggested was crossed by a barbed wire fence and BLM Do Not Enter, warning signs.  Not wanting to 'blow myself up on the Buried Land Mines property (just joshing you, it's short for Bureau of Land Mgt)

I wasted an entire hour riding through the village of old ram shackled double wide's and what I would call 'mansions' at the other end of the financial scale.



FINALLY having found the right track but having to do some freeway riding to do it, I was thwarted by yet another gate, this one very sturdy steel and wire fencing on both sides, with machine gun nests at both corners.  Of course I'm kidding, but not by much.  I had intended to follow the OSCR** to the top of Lake Pleasant state park via West Table Mesa road and traversing the mountains and washouts to connect to the Cow Creek Trail, an area I have explored extensively in past years.  In fact one year I had tried to make the west/east crossing but got into a huge, wide sand wash and simply was too tired to give the trail a try. 

Me having missed the turn off and about to get really lost!

True, I didn't have the latest intel on that trip, it being one of the first times I was out to simply explore about 8 years ago. Having been now to both ends of this 'trail' I was keen to close the loop.  Of course, just my luck, that area of Lake Pleasant regional park has a winter closure to allow for bald eagles nesting.  Closure in affect December 15-June 15. 
Talk about Big Sky country.





It was December 1st! 


No problem, I had a 'back up plan B'  Failing first to find the OSCR** then getting turned back by the iron gate, I could take a trail known locally as the 'North Old Mine road' and thread my way through the mountains bordering the east side of LP on the North Kv Power road. 

Course what I hadn't counted on was first, the Gate closure, next the numerous 'shooters' that were out there practicing their Sunday 'deer hunting' skills, in every nook or cranny. 

You see, this area being only an hour from Phx center via I-17, was a playground for ATV users and shooters. In any case... as luck (bad) would have it, I could not find the Old Mine road.  I'm certain I rode by it at least twice, maybe more, failing to see anything on a sign pointing south. 

By this time I had ridden about 75 miles more or less which for me is a long ass day, dealing with several failures and having ridden off road on a sunny but windy day, for half those miles.  Remember, I'm not as young as I used to be.

Pretty good view from a mountain top.
No problem, I wasn't discouraged because... I had a plan 'C' ! 

Plan C was, if I couldn't find my way across the top of  LP, and was not able to locate N. Old Mine road, there is always a route which would connect me to the latter.  It required retracing my steps to West table Mesa. I would head south and pick up the Rock Spring Road, heading south and eventually via a bunch of itsy bitsy trails/roads, get back onto the El Paso Gasline road and eventually hooking up with something more rugged past Lake Pleasant and home via the Care Free highway 74.

Guess what?

 
Another sand wash.

I got lost. 

In fact I got so lost I wasn't certain I could find my way home on these desert mountain trails before dark, which was coming fast.  I did find more shooters and did make it onto the Gasline road but it was about a hundred feet wide, mostly deep sand and I was already feeling the effects of a very long and frustrating day. 

The secret to riding loose foot deep gravel/sand of course is to lean back, twist the throttle and shift up.  That takes the plowing effect off the front tire and allows the bikes, theoretically to skim the surface.  You have to be very brave doing this.  The down side is if you do lose traction for any reason, the resulting 'crash' can hurt!  Riding off hard pack into deep sand or gravel is like throwing the anchor out of your Zodiac.  You do a massive head shake and come to a very quick stop, sometimes viewing your headlight beam as you go over the bars!

 
Imagine how far a 30.06 bullet will travel after passing through 1/8" of aluminum!

I remember riding in Baja on the XT 600 back in the winter of  '98, with then partner Deb on her own identical Yamaha 600.  After leaving Mike's Sky Ranch, I was riding fast (around 50-60 mph) on these great curvaceous  mountain roads, pretending I'm doing the SCORE 1000.  Suddenly and without warning, the bike literally plunged into bottomless fine sand nearly spitting my over the bars, which would likely have resulted in broken bones at the very least, and bent bike plus a helicopter ride to Ensenada. 

Fortunately for Deb, she was more cautious and held back.  Her comment that she'd heroically ride on promising to think warm thoughts of me as I came to rest on the valley floor, impaled on some saguaro cacti, as she pushed on like a good trooper, was small consolation.
 
I remember distinctly looking over the cliff next to where I stopped to change underwear, it was at least 2-300' down among massive rocks!

I said a blessing to the 10,000 plus foot Cerro Picacho del Diablo for sparing my life!

I digress...



AFTER nearly tossing the XT down the road several times I decided to wend my way back to the New River (paved) road and speed up.  I didn't wish to be, nor was I set up for a night on the side of the Bradshaws with nothing but my canteen and a DOHC 350 as company!



Easy trail in and out of a N-S sandwash looking for the Old Mine road.

By the time I landed in Glendale, it was dark (of course it's December, right) getting cold and I was hungry, thirsty and bone tired. 

That was my last ride on the 350 nearly 18 months ago.

The reason I haven't ridden the XT since of course is the flooding that occurred at my place the day before I arrived in March 2017.  Since that disaster, I have been waiting with growing impatience to get my home repaired.  I have no idea why it took so dam long but after nearly a year (1 week short) the contractor was paid off and I look forward to 'moving back in' shortly.

Top of a mountain.  Just a moment after I snapped this pic, the bike blew over!

If I haven't forgotten how to start the bike... I thinking maybe, this time if I do it right, make zero mistakes and get away early enough... maybe I can do it.  Not the LP connector as we're still in March and the Eagles (the birds not the band) are still making babies!


 
THIS year, I am going to try 'plan C' first... and do the toughest part of the 120 mile ride early in the morning while I'm still fresh.

* The Senator highway is all off road.  In places a rugged high clearance vehicle could make it through in good weather conditions but previously on another trip at the end of November I encountered snow and ice at higher elevations (~8000') That was a butt clencher, believe me.

** Old Stage Coach Road







 

Friday, March 16, 2018

What if?

Is that an old BMW with sidehack? Or an old Russian copy of an old BMW, or a Chinese copy of a... you get the picture.

YOU know I consider myself to be a typical motorcyclist, that is funny, good looking and smart.  Well, okay lets agree on good looking and funny.  How about just funny and leave it at that.

Personally I started out riding primarily for two reasons, back in 1968.  The first was... I wanted the Independence and freedom of being motorized on wheels.  Sometime after the last ice age, Alberta allowed 14 and 15 year olds to ride on the street  by limiting engine size to 100cc.  That wasn't a problem back then because my first two bikes were "little".  Initially I had a Honda S 90 with it's 4 speed gearbox, then a Suzuki A 100 Scrambler, which was also a 4 speed but was powered by a rotary valve two cycle engine.  Because the 'Zuke' had a high chrome exhaust, it was cooler because it could be ridden off road which I did a lot of on vacant lots, and out beyond St Albert and the confines of the city routinely.  Look at the current popularity of street scramblers.  Both bikes were very common and available given the licensing restrictions.  With enough acceleration to at least stay with traffic on city streets, they were also abuse resistant given that my rides quickly advanced to highway jaunts to places like Lake Wabamum, Elk Island National park and Red Deer.  It's a wonder that neither bike exploded held with the throttle pinned, speedometer showing 66.5 mph for miles on end.

The second reason I started riding, was named "Kelly"

Kelly was the teenaged girl who lived next door to me in NW Edmonton.  Label me if you want, but I fantasied about the long red hair, flowing in the wind arms entwined around me as I rode to the beach at Pigeon Lake!  Of course it was only a fantasy as I didn't yet have a bike, she was beautiful and had a boyfriend named 'Butch'  which in them days was the moniker of a 'tough guy'.  Butch would ride up on his CB 160 with the mufflers cut right off after the header pipe, clad in dirty blue jeans,  a white T and boots.  He could have been the prototype for Arthur Fonzerelli except the Fonz rode (?) a Triumph.

So between my fantasy of Kelly, aided by her sunbathing in the back yard in her bikini (it was the sixties) and the ability to escape parental control for hours at a time, I began riding motorcycles. 

Anyway, as often happens, I wake up remembering some point of my riding career that's spanned 50 years.

A few weeks back, I popped out of bed... okay languished for an hour and then clumsily rolled out from between three cats, I had a different "what if" moment.  Let's say I was returning from Phx and due to a mix up I was invited to sit in first class next to a guy that looked suspiciously like Bill Gates.  Of course I turned the conversation to motorcycles and this passenger asked what I would ride if money were no object?

I decided to put it out there amongst some of my motorcycling pals.

What would you buy if money was no object?

I know this isn't an original idea but that morning I was curious enough that I circulated the question and sat down waiting for some feedback.  It wasn't long in coming.

The guidelines were simple.  Regardless of your experience level which varied from beginner to "old geezer," if you had to choose a single bike of any brand, type and had a barrel of cash stashed in your jeans, or you were wearing the jeans while inside the barrel.. which was full of green/blue/purple or orangebacks. 

I didn't want a long obtuse dialogue, just send me a line or three to explain your choice.

Here's some of the answers I got... see how yours compare?

Scott said:  (probably my favorite)

"A URAL Gear Up.  He liked the 2WD (that's right, it has a 2WD option) modern? Russian copy of the BMW and ZUNDAPP machines used by the German Army in WW2.  The sidecar equipped URAL has plenty of storage space and the ability to include his girlfriend on Adventure trips which otherwise are ridden solo on his KLR.  (Frank's note; With a Ural's "cool" factor, he could carry more than one girlfriend at a time!  Now there's an adventure!)

Kathy said: "she loves her Vulcan 800!  It's well balanced, has lots of pep and she likes the Classic style typified by numerous Harleys."  

I too like the mid sized Vulcans, which reminds me of a story... back in '88 when the first 1500's were imported, I was out with some friends riding.  We stopped at a little café off route 19 here on the Island, frequented by riders and sports car enthusiasts.  When we came out there was a guy sitting on my bike. Tsk tsk I said, or something like that, and he stared at it obviously liking it.  He asked me what it was and I answered, a Vulcan 88 as in cubic inches.  I told him it was the largest production MC engine in the world and it was built be Kawasaki.  He disagreed and pointed at his own bike and said tartly that it was the biggest.  I asked him if it had been bored or stroked although it looked brand new, which it turns out it was, and I could see my question went right over his head.  I did point out to him that although large at 1340cc, the Vulcan at 1470cc was indeed bigger!  He begged to disagree with me, and by this time my riding partners are nearly rolling around splitting a gut laughing at this exchange.  I'm not certain where he learned his math, but we parted at that...

My often times KLR riding pal Trevor, didn't disappoint when I put this to him.  Trev shot back a reply immediately informing me that his dream bike would be a Husqvarna Super Enduro 701.  His reasons; lots of power (near 70hp) both road legal and off road capable, and as I mentioned to him, he had the giraffe legs for the 38 or so inches of seat height! 

Zac's answer did not surprise me.  He figures a Suzuki DR 650 with upgraded suspension, big bore kit, more fuel capacity and decent luggage would make an ideal bike for his riding style.  I myself have a similar bike with my XT 600.  He finished with the caveat that he wouldn't mind having a Triumph Scrambler too!

Chris #1 would pick a circa 2005-2012 Yamaha MT01.  A bike that couldn't get traction here in North America but was briefly popular in Europe.  Basically a factory modified V Star 1700 that played on the power cruiser looks but with lighter weight (aluminum frame) USD* forks, decent suspension and as Chris eloquently states it... "Quick, powerful and sports bike type handling."  He liked the upright seating position as well.

Chris #2 on the other hand would take an All Black Triumph Tiger 800 if somebody handed him the cash.  He liked its ability to do some casual trail riding, praising it's light weight as compared to the Mega ADV bikes, something that he could pick up off the ground if he were trailing somewhere in Baja or Chile or the Alaska highway.  Besides... he added it looked "Bad Ass"

Melanie chose a Yamaha Bolt.  She tells me it's comfortable to sit on, looks good, and has style and is easy enough to lift off the side stand.  She'd sure like to ride one!

Ron likes bikes that are like him.  Old, reliable, still dashingly good looking and devoid of frivolities that add nothing to the riding experience... but cost a barrel of dough if they need a visit to the shop.  He likened that experience to the difference between adjusting the valves on his DOHC GS 1000 Suzuki himself, to taking the bike into Exotic Cycles where a tune up would involve a day and a half, with several hours of removing and replacing body work and end with taking out a 2nd mortgage!

THEN THERE's TOM!
 


He loves his Magna.  A "cruiser" with a race bike engine.  He doesn't need anything more.  He tells me he's already cool, rich and handsome beyond belief and doesn't need any bike to enhance his many attributes.

Nuff said!

*USD Upside down
Cool 1981 XV 920 RH


 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Will HD fall afoul of the proposed US tarrifs?

(this taken from a US news article. Photos and opinion after, are my own)




Harley-Davidson implemented just-in-time manufacturing, different management strategies, relentless product improvement, and many other ideas stressed by William Edwards Deming. Ironically, many of these theories had been put into (successful) practice in Japan after World War II by companies employing engineers, managers, and scholars trained by Deming. The tariff gave Harley-Davidson a bit of breathing room, which Harley used wisely, by making enormous quality improvements, improving labor relations greatly, and modernizing their business practices.


Harley-Davidson reclaimed its market share and more. In 1987, Vaughn L. Beals, Harley’s chairman and CEO told the U.S. International Trade Commission, ''We're profitable again. We're recapitalized. We're diversified. We don't need any more help.'' He requested the ITC end the tariff plan a year ahead of schedule.

 

Analysis

Harley-Davidson largely saved their own bacon. Many business studies of the turnaround have been done, and the results are nearly unanimous: their metamorphosis was nothing short of transformational, and through loads of hard work, Harley pulled themselves up by the bootstraps.
However, that’s not to say the tariff was unimportant to Harley’s future. Even if relatively minor in terms of actual economic impact, It was probably a crucial action serving to calm the frayed nerves of Harley’s creditors. The investors who bought Harley back from AMF were very over-extended, and the paucity of excess operational capital was likely causing much temple-rubbing — Even though Harley was visibly righting the ship.

Darwin Holstrom, in "Harley-Davidson: The Complete History," notes that Citicorp, their lender, had continued to lend not out of generosity, but because it was felt that their chances of recovering the loan was better with Harley operational — they didn’t even believe Harley’s carcass would cover the debt. Eventually, even that plan was abandoned, and in November of 1984, Citicorp announced over-advances would stop as of March 1985, which they later pushed to December 31, 1985. Peter C. Reid notes in "Made Well In America: Lessons from Harley-Davidson on Being the Best," “...Citicorp officials began to worry about what would happen when the tariffs on big Japanese bikes ended in 1988.”

Harley CFO Rich Teerlink simultaneously prepared the company for bankruptcy filings and searched for an investor, which only came at the last moment and after much negotiating and pleading. Would their new lenders have materialized without the temporary protection offered by that tariff? Highly unlikely. Harley-Davidson became a publicly traded company in 1986. “Going public was a hard decision, but we had such difficult financial problems it was the only decision,” said Beals.
Was the tariff the correct action for President Reagan to have executed? Can such a complicated topic ever have a “right” answer? That’s certainly a multi-faceted and complex issue, and likely not one I could answer, nor could a consortium of scholars and economists. (They’ve tried, and they have the same problem I do — they leave more questions than answers.)

Even Beals was fairly blunt. “For years, we tried to figure out why the Japanese were beating us so badly. First we thought it was their culture. Then we thought it was automation. Then we thought it was dumping. Finally we realized the problem was us, not them.”


Oddly, among all the politics and money surrounding this issue (and others like it), there is one statement Ronald Reagan made that sums up the issue completely accurately and can in no way be refuted no matter what side of the issue anyone found — or still finds — himself on. “I have determined that import relief in this case is consistent with our national economic interest.” Perhaps that statement cannot be construed as an explanation for enacting the tariff. On the other hand, perhaps it was all the explanation the situation warranted.



This mumbo jumbo is interesting to anyone that was around in the Reagan years.  That was back in the day that HD was repurchased from AMF (American Machine and Foundry) and to ensure the survival of the brand, a multi year tariff was placed on MC with displacements over 700cc originating in J A Pan.  The first year tariff was a whopping 49.4% 

That affected a large portion of Japanese imports being unfairly (?) penalized.  The long and short is HD survived and by successfully selling an "image" to the public (do I need to tell you... okay in case you've been lost in the Amazon for 30 years) dentists/construction workers/lawyers/politicians took on the visual persona of weekend "bad boys".  Watch Wild Hogs on Netflix!

I even had a guy working in my Financial office who came to live with me (big mistake) during his divorce, that bought an '03 Anniversary Heritage.  This guy didn't even ride bikes!

He ended up being so "f__g" obnoxious that my riding friends wanted to beat the crap out of him when he would come up to a group of us, flashing his $40 zippo, wallet chained to his jeans, the Beanie lid proclaiming that helmet laws sucked and proclaiming US as riders of Jap junk!



Today, there is much talk and reading on what is happening with the North American market for motorcycles.  With HD sales falling by double digit sales figures and the entire Big Bike market feeling the hurt, and... with much talk about smaller, lighter, easier, cheaper to ride motorcycles growing in the market place (albeit it it's the international marketplace, not American or CDN) it makes for great speculation. 



If you are a long time motorcyclist as I am, and if you came in during the mid to late '60's when the British and American industries' were on the cusp of collapse, teetering on the brink of oblivion, and the Japanese who were accused of being transistor radio makers and nothing else of any consequence... you know what happened in the next decade.  The once powerful British MC business went the way of the dodo, HD got bought out by a tractor outfit and the 100cc Yamaha's and CB 125 Honda's begin the switch for hundreds of thousands of new riders moving up to 350's, then 400's, 650's and bigger, while the little bikes eventually disappeared altogether. 

History tends to repeat itself, lessons go unlearned and those that paid no attention, fall by the way side.
 
 

 


 


In our case, that is the case of Motorcycles, which we all love, this likely won't happen again.  Why you might ask? 

To quote Albert Einstein... the "Fourth World War will be fought with rocks and sticks"

ps Coming up...

"If money was no object, what would you buy and why...?"

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Inspiration




Unlike perspiration... inspiration can often be much harder to find.  As is defined in short...

inspiration

(ˌɪnspɪˈreɪʃən)
n
1. stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings, etc, to special or unusual activity or creativity
2. the state or quality of being so stimulated or aroused
3. someone or something that causes this state
4. an idea or action resulting from such a state
5. (Physiology) the act or process of inhaling; breathing in
inspiration
 


It's certainly true that humans aspire to be not only inspired, but inspiring.

Over my lifetime I have felt there has been cause for both. 

I like to read, a lot.  One of the must haves I had for building this house in the move to rural PEI was to have a library.  I'm not talking merely of a WalMart Ubuild book shelf in a box but a real honest to God enormous vast, heavy and appealing, library.  A place where I can display my little yellow Honda and have enough diversity to be able to pull something off the shelves and sit in the sunlight of a nice winter day, feet curled up under me, next to a furry creature.

I have a small version in my office where I keep a handful of pocket books but in our living room my bookshelf is 8 feet tall and 24 feet wide!  There are currently about 650-750 books, not counting magazines on my "bookshelf." 

It's a dream come true.  I've got stuff by hundreds of authors, some fiction, some non... plenty of history for I believe that if we don't learn the lessons that it teaches us, we are destined to repeat it.  Sometimes with horrific consequences.

I have fun stuff, and serious stuff.  Some of it is fluff, there are many who-done-its and there are many mind provoking volumes.  There's Lenin and there's Lennon.  There's Bryson, Evanovich, Grisham, Haley.  I have Travel, Mystery, Biographies.  I've got Dune, The JOY of Sex, The Gangs of New York, and Defining Moments in History.

Plenty to be inspired with.

Just yesterday as the sun shone in through our living room windows, I pulled Charley Boorman's "Race to Dakar" off for a look see.  Of course I have his and Ewan's  'Long Way Round' on video and the memory of having met them on the final leg of their journey, quite by accident while we were all in Great Falls Montana in 2004.  My buddy, Rock pestering (peppering?)  them with questions, while I could see they were pretty much exhausted and on auto pilot to get to NYC.

Anyway... I am always thrilled to read about other's adventures.  They may be simple or elaborate, but never the less I often find inspiration between the covers. 

Race to Dakar one of them. 

There were two things that jumped out right way as I leafed through the book version of the video.  The first was the constant references to ride within one's limits and capabilities without giving in to pressures to ride beyond them.  The other is to find away to ride beyond them.  This is true for just about everything in life.  Life to many seems like an ugly four letter word, something to be rushed through without stopping to smell the poppies, or taking it in, in glorious deep breaths, to savor over and over again. 

Take riding in Baja for example.  Although I haven't ridden there now since 2007, I still remember the beauty of the silence of the desert,  on previous trips, the fear of the unknown, the constant concern for safety and the cherry on the top, the relishing of another memory that will stay with you forever.

The last of my Freedom Cycle bikes, DT 50L/C

Although I have not ridden in Baja for many years now... I have spent almost 10 years with a secondary home in PHX Arizona from which base I have travelled the Superstitions, the White Tank, and especially the Bradshaw mountains extensively. In my photo albums both film and digital, there are nearly 35,000 digital memories.  One of my favorite things is to sit in front of my laptop, steaming coffee cup in hand and just watch the parade of memories flicker in front of my eyes on my screen savor. 

I've had many stories published about riding the SW deserts and even though I now live on the East coast... I am looking forward to making many more memories in the locale.

Anyway, getting back to Inspiration...

I picked up as I said, Charley's book... and inside the front cover in ink I see an inscription.  This one is hand written and personal to myself which I would like to share with you.

It's short and sweet and I will state it's origin and message to you, maybe there you will find some of your own inspiration for yourself.

it is...

Happy Birthday Dad!
More inspiration for your future publications!
Keep your adventurous spirit healthy and strong!

Love Holly and Lisa

dated January 3, 2008

Of course Holly and Lisa are my grown daughters and in January of 2008 I was preparing to travel fulfilling a very long time dream of mine.  In that year and the one right after I would be sitting on the seat of a beautiful and willing Diversion 600 Yamaha to finally ride not only the roads of my birthplace but covering nearly 30,000 km and two dozen countries.

You might say, I was inspired...



Right after completion...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The good new days!


Getting some time in over Lake Pleasant on an ultra-lite
It was a wonderfully sunny day... my partner exclaimed loudly with gusto... "I LOVE IT"

Unless you began life as Benjamin Button or Merlyn the Magician... you and I live conventional lives.  That is to say, we began carried in our mother's womb for a suitable period, kicked out into the real world suddenly, some white ghost like human slapping our bottoms while we're helplessly inverted, spend years learning useless math skills and pretty soon, we are toiling away in the cotton fields. 

I remember clearly as a 'ute" how I wished to emulate Roy Rogers, Matt Dillon, Little Joe and then later on, Steve McQueen. How I couldn't wait to be 'older'...

Some baaad pards in this bunch lookin' at mebbe robbin' the bank.


So here I sit wondering where in the hell the time has gone?  ... and what have I done with it??

It's true that many of the people I have known throughout my life have done nothing more exciting than resetting the clock an hour ahead in the spring... then reversing the process six month later.

Or maybe downloading 'ring tones' on your smarteerthanyouare phones.  Not to say, this is wrong, bad or otherwise, but considering how short our human lives really are, like couldn't you come up with something daring and memorable just once?

Just tooling around the backcountry


I've often commented that if we make it to 50, the rest are bonus years!

Stone silence, not a cricket chirping.
I've never been the guy that books a week in the Bahama's to stay at a pink flamingo colored all inclusive hotel, except for the odd Yamaha travel trip I'd qualified for during my Freedom Cycle days, but really... where is the option marked "ADVENTURE"?

On the Adventure 150, somewhere in AZ


Kicking back sipping pina colada's on a concrete patio poolside, is not my idea of fun, or even a vacay.  On the other hand, riding a dirt bike off road in Baja California for 8 weeks and sipping a mucho fria Tecate at the end of the day as the sun drops over the Sierra Giganta's carries much more appeal to me.

YEARS ago I bought a vacation townhome in Arizona. Back in the day when I lived in Calgary, it was more or less a straight drive south on interstate highways.  I loved that drive down, 24 road hours and I'd cross the Rockies several times dodging big trucks cruising at 80 mph ( the trucks not me) watching the scenery turn from bland winter prairie to 35C heat in southern Utah and by the time I reached Mesquite Nevada, the palm trees were waving their welcome.

A left at Vegas, over the Colorado at Hoover Dam and pretty soon I was pulling into Wickenburg in preparation for arrival in the big city.
P 51 Tucson Air Museum/park


Flying was even less problematic.  Hop on the 737/A320 at 6 am in Cowtown and by noon my Adventure scooter was loaded with groceries in Glendale.

Since moving to the east coast requires flying all day and my medical insurance is climbing each year, I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up.


A PEI back trail

Don't get me wrong... I love vacationing in Arizona.  I've ridden gentle back roads, freeways (Okay not real exciting but remember traffic is moving at 80+ mph while my single cylinder 350cc 'dirt bike' is struggling to reach 60!)  I've ridden every mountain range around the city, piling up countless miles during my adventures, getting lost, paddling through knee deep sand drenched in sweat, dropping the bike, picking it up again, thinking of the next hill ahead and maybe a cool Rolling Rock in my backyard tonight.

This last 18 months have been, ahem... less than satisfactory, the most exciting thing I've done is watch COP shows on hotel TV... my home down there is still not completely repaired.  Hopefully will be before I next arrive in April.
 

 

Just another Island day

BACK closer to home, I've been doing more riding locally.  It may not be death defying like the Mojave, but still I get to exercise my body and continue to chalk up the motorcycle miles.  Last years week at Lisa's home in N.B. gave me a great excuse to motor around the province's western wall, giving me lots more adventure miles and writing opportunities.  I even spent some time in Utopia (see CDN BIKER September/October 2017)  Brenda and I even managed to get an overnight ride along the back roads of Nova Scotia on the Citicom 300!

Can you think of a better way to spend a day?

One of the fabulouso things riding the maritime provinces is the close proximity to home. If I had to grab the highway... I could be home from virtually anywhere here in 5 hours or less.  Of course I prefer to meander along exploring colorful villages, back country and local history.

I made ambitious plans last season and won't be making that mistake again.  Riding here is best unplanned with no particular destination. As the three provinces connect on the narrow strip of land barely above water at Sussex and have more narrow paved or unpaved back roads, you don't have to travel on the Trans Canada unless you're dying to put on the miles.  Unlike Western Canada or the USA... it's not about clocking miles.  It's about exploring the back country.

Some where in southern NB Canada

I am pretty sure that this year I will be foraying into NS more often with the possibility of doing some riding in New England.  After all my passport expires in 2024 and I won't likely be renewing it.

So for now... I am enjoying a mild winter, reading, remembering past rides and adding memories for new ones.

To the Good New Days to come!