Monday, November 28, 2011

On Turning 45

The age of 45 qualifies as mid-life if you plan to live to 90. The minutes are ticking away and I'll soon slide from the tender age of 44 into the grand old age of 45. I can almost feel the AARP card slipping into my pocket, chiding me to ask for a discount at Denny's.




Unlike some of my friends who find themselves in similar circumstances, I'm going easy into the night. I'm not fighting it. It doesn't worry me or cause me grief. Nope, I'm not losing sleep over this milestone...if in fact this IS a milestone.

All things considered, I'd rather turn 45 than turn blue.

I still feel 26, I just notice more gray hairs (though I wish there were a lot more of them). And my jean sizes have incrementally increased with the years. No, I don't wear a size 44.

I'm sorer now after a long walk or a short run, or when I use muscles I hadn't used in a while.

I wear glasses to watch TV and ride my motorcycle at night. But I don't alert any of my friends or co-workers of that fact.

I'm satisfied where I find myself at this stage of my life. In seasons, this would be late Summer for me. And I'm content.

I'm a resounding success by no means; neither am I a dismal failure. Unlike Ol' Blue Eyes, I have more than a few regrets; they're anchors I drag along constantly. I know I can't change things I've done, so I just live with the fact that my conscience will forever hound me like a deranged ex-lover. In 45 years, I have more good memories than bad, and that's what gets me through the day.

I've traveled around this great country on a motorcycle. I've seen Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and Central and South America. And I've seen them "the good way."

And I know I'll see even more of this world. The good way.

I've been 180 feet under the ocean and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane from a mile over the Mexican border. I've shook the hand and shared a laugh with a standing US President.

Sometimes I've snapped photos of the great things I've experienced, but I have cherished memories of many other occasions where no camera was available (and maybe that's a good thing).

Fun factoid: Google my name and you'll find that there are about 2,510,000 results. Only 3 of them are me, though. Oh, I wish that guy with my name at Woodstock in that great photo was me; alas, it's not...

Folks who knew me at 15 wouldn't recognize me. I'm a completely different person than I was at 25 (and that may be a good thing). I've changed quite a bit since I was 35 and my personality continues to evolve. I plan to be a much better person at 55.

I'm happy to report that I'm in a good place at this point in my life. I am fortunate to be in love with my wonderful wife, who joins me in putting The Lord at the top of our list of priorities. I have a semi-sane family that lives nearby, great health with some pretty good genes, a small circle of friends that I see often (but not often enough), two (count 'em TWO) ex-wives who don't hate me, a decent job, an open mind, a fairly bright outlook on life, a somewhat pleasant disposition (after morning coffee), and finally, I have true hope that the best just might be to come. Yes, good things are happening and I'm prepared to enjoy them.

Forty friggin' five? Eh, it's over-rated. Talk to me when 65 rolls around.

OK, it's 2 hours and 15 minutes until the big FOUR-FIVE. Let's do this.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Motorcycle Superstitions and the Habits of Motorcyclists

An interesting article on motorcycle superstitions:

Bikers like any other facet of society, have their superstitions and quirky things they do (or don't). Here are a few of them.

Blessing of the Bikes

Almost everyone has heard about the "Blessing of the Bikes." I know that the Christian Motorcyclist Assoc. (CMA) performs them, so I wouldn't call it a true biker superstition.

A Blessing of the Bikes is actually religious, and if you're religious it's not hard to understand why you'd want to do it. But there are many non-religious people, who for some reason, make a point to get their motorcycles blessed. And that's when it becomes superstition.

The method is fairly simple. The blessing God wants to bestow is on the Biker not the bike. God is interested in protecting and guiding us, and the biggest blessing available from God is the Blessing of Salvation available only through Jesus Christ.

We start by coming together and the speaker delivers a short message, always leading up to giving people the opportunity to receive the greatest blessing ever offered to man. And it is presented as just that – the opportunity to be eternally blessed by accepting the gift of Salvation through Jesus. After we pray together we ask people to go to their motorcycles where CMA members pray individually with each person. After we pray with the biker, we offer them the CMA “I’ve been Blessed” sticker and the CMA Biker Blessing handout. For more information please visit the Christian Motorcyclists Association web site: http://www.cmausa.org


Ride Bells

The little iron bell that hangs from a biker's motorcycle is supposed to ward off evil spirits. As the story suggests, these demons exist on all roadways, and when a motorcycle passes by, they grab on to it and begin chipping away at your good luck until finally you have a crash.

The tingling of the bell is said to irritate these demons and prevent them from hitching a ride on your motorcycle.

BTW, the bell only has its power when someone else buys it for you, otherwise it doesn't work at all. Some vendors argue that it actually has half-power if you buy your own, but this is likely marketing baloney.

Green Motorcycles

Supposedly, a green painted motorcycle is bad luck. The legend has it that the Harleys used in World War II were often sitting duck targets, and many military riders got their butts blasted off them. And since they were painted Army green, it eventually translated into modern folklore.

This one might actually be true. I've read of a guy who had a green Road Glide, and dropped it several times, one time injuring his leg. Then he got the bike repainted, with a different shade of green, and wiped out on it again. From what I could recall, when his bike still had the factory black, he never crashed it.

A Dead Man's Motorcycle

There's a saying that riding a motorcycle that belonged to someone who is now dead is bad luck.

It's not necessarily that that person was killed on the motorcycle, just that he's now dead. Supposedly, his spirit is still riding that motorcycle along the great highway in the sky, and if he sees you riding his bike in the physical world, he'll knock you off of it.

You don't even want to use parts from that bike.

The "Wave"

Ah, yes, the infamous "wave."

Those of you who don't ride motorcycles probably don't know this. Those of you who do ride probably do: Motorcycle riders wave to each other. It usually is a small thing - a simple raise of a few fingers or nod of the head in a lot of instances. In its simplest form, I guess it boils down to camaraderie of the saddle, and personal pride to say to the other rider: "Hey, this is a great sport and I am having fun... how about you?"

It has always given me a sense of community and never ceases to put a smile on my face. It means we're brothers and sisters on the road. Regardless of what some cynics say, the "wave" is not just for noobs. I've been riding for many years now (hardly a newbie) and still wave to other riders.

How many of you have "waved" or gave some other sign of acknowledgment to passing riders, only to have nothing happen in return? Are you offended or insulted by this? Do you "attain happiness" when a passing rider returns your gesture? Do you not wave at all, or is this mannerism completely irrelevant when riding a motorcycle? This topic almost borders on the question: "What is the meaning of life?" and my sense is that it may have the same philosophical ramifications.

I've found that although ANY rider will wave to -- or return a wave from --another rider, there are basically four categories in the laws of equity:

1. Brand equity. This means that if you both are riding the same brand of bike, the odds of a wave transaction are increased.
2. Style equity. If you both are riding the same "type" of bike, such as chopper, rocket or touring motorcycle, then your odds are increased as well.
3. Location. Meeting another rider in the Mojave Desert, on the Haul Road in Alaska or almost anywhere on Route 66 will almost guarantee a wave.
4.. Helmet equity. If you both are either wearing or not wearing helmets - odds increased again.

When riding in the city, or in heavy traffic, it's acceptable not to wave if you are too busy watching traffic and/or using the clutch. As well, waving is generally accepted protocol to passing riders only when it is convenient and safe, and that usually means "on the open road."

It's been said that Harley riders tend to wave only to other Harley riders. same with the sport bike crowd or "crotch-rocket riders."

For myself, I will always wave to the other rider, and always when it's safe to do so, for in that, we all share the spirit of the open highway.

Helping a Fellow Rider: Karma, baby!

Motorcycle technology has advanced to the point where one rarely sees another rider "broke down" on the side of the road, with the exception of an occasional flat tire. Think about that next time you wave to a passing rider. In time of need, the person you waved to may be the only one who stops to help you.

Today, though, it became a lot more - a reminder of what it really is all about.

This mirrors the issue of why motorcycle riders wave to one another. In many instances, we're all each other has.

I've stopped a number of times for riders who look like they might be in trouble. In most cases, the rider is fine and can handle the situation on their own. But I'm sure each of us would appreciate having someone who understood riding (or even just someone to make sure I was okay) there to have our six, so to speak.

I've stopped for lone bikers on the road and offered my cell phone, tools and a drink of water. Mainly, it's really just about the camaraderie, though: Having someone else there on a deserted stretch of highway or alongside a dark freeway.

I've had others stop for me, too. I'll always remember the two gruff-looking Harley riders who stopped to ensure I was OK on the Ortega Highway years back. I was riding an old Yamaha dual sport and had stopped to adjust a loose side panel. I was amazed that these two bikers took the time and effort to get off their bikes and walk back to see if I was OK. I've tried to repay their thoughtfulness by stopping to assist other bikers over the years.

So if you ride - thanks. Thanks for being a part of that family that takes care of each other. It'll come back to you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"TRUE-X" PATTERN USA FOUR CORNERS TOUR: Planning now.

I had such a good time when I rode the USA 4 Corners Tour (http://www.usa4corners.org/) in 2010 that I always planned to ride it again.

Now the SCMA folks have created a new "X Pattern" version. Riders are still required to visit the 4 corners of the USA, but they must do so by crossing the country and the geographical center of the US (Lebanon, KS) three times. Wow!

I like this idea because it cuts out the hottest and coldest portions of the US (the I-10 in Texas and the I-90 up north).

The rules allow 21 days for the regular tour (I did it in about 10) and 26 for the new X pattern. I thik I can do it in 12, and that includes the return to San Diego.

I'm leaning toward repeating the regular version, though I may still roll through Kansas (once).

Sounds interesting and I may do this in March, April or May of 2012.

Here's the info: http://www.usa4corners.org/x-pattern.html

"TRUE-X" PATTERN USA FOUR CORNERS TOUR

There is a new choice, do the normal USA Four Corners Tour or the "True-X" pattern. The rules of the USA Four Corners Tour remain the same, except for an addition of 5 days: from 21 days, to 26 days to complete the tour. The extra 5 days allows for the additional travel to the Center City, Lebanon, KS.

All riders must pass through the center city three times; three photos, three gas receipts, and three completed Center City Maps (see below for explanation) are to be mailed from the Lebanon, KS post office. All photos, printed on 4" x 6" paper, may be mailed to me after the return home.

The riders are to start at the first of the USA four corners: Madawaska, ME; Blaine, WA; San Ysidro, CA; or Key West, FL. The riders are to take the required photo of the corner map items and mail the gas receipt with the 1st corner map in the logo-stamped envelope provided for your convenience.

The riders are then to proceed to Lebanon, KS the Center City (CC). Travel one mile north and one mile west of town on K-191 to the historical geographical center of the 48 contiguous United States. Take a photo of your motorcycle in front of the stone monument, then go to the Cenex gas station, and obtain a gas receipt. Please mail the first CC map with gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided, at the Lebanon, KS post office. The riders are then to proceed to their selected second USA Corner City. Once the requirements are met at the second corner city, mail the second city map with the gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope. The riders will then return to Lebanon, KS to the CC. This time the riders will take a photo of their motorcycle in front of the Cenex gas station. Please mail the second CC map with the gas receipt, in the logo-stamped envelope provided, from the Lebanon, KS post office.

The riders are then to proceed to their selected third USA Corner City. Once the requirements are met at the third corner city, mail the third city map with gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided.

The riders will then return to Lebanon, KS to the CC. This time however, the photo must be taken of their motorcycle situated at the Lebanon, KS post office. Please mail the third CC map with gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided, from the Lebanon, KS post office.

At this point, the riders will ride to the final USA Corner City. The riders must complete the requirements, and mail the final USA Corner City map with the gas receipt in the logo-stamped envelope provided.

After returning home have all photos processed 4 x 6 inches and mail those to address below.

Once the above is completed, the riders will have officially finished the true "X" pattern USA Four Corners Tour.

The USA Four Corners Tour is operated by the Southern California Motorcycle Association (SCMA). The cost of the Four Corners Tour is $100.00.

If you have any questions email Chairman chairman@4corners.org