Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ducati: Up in Da Club

One of the toughest parts of my job is the road time. It is not unusual to put on 300-500+ miles per week. This time of year, I can do a lot of that by motorcycle, getting in to the office early, suiting up (yes, I stiill wear a suit and tie) and tagging a colleague to drive to client meetings for the day.

This week, we had presentations at the Lehigh Valley Country Club in Allentown, PA. I took the highway up to the Club and got some looks as I rolled up the long lane to the parking area. I am guessing they don't get a lot of motorcycles in the Club?

I went to the event, mixed, mingled, networked, then hopped on for the best part: the ride home. When I do this, I will get off the higway (I-78) quickly, then try to find a good road home. I look for a fairly good-sized, asphalt (there are still more than a few dirt roads in PA, but that's a ride for another day) road that is heading the direction I want to go, in this case, West.

We have had rain in PA for nearly one-month straight, and the result is subtropical greenery. The entire center (centre for my international readers) of the state is a gorgeous, deep emerald, and it makes for great scenery with the surrounding mountains through which I rode today. The deep (Penn State) blue sky offered an additional focus point.

There are a lot of corners on these roads, many of them quite severe, and it reminded me of how much more I need to learn, but also how far I have come. Long sweepers, and even more abrupt turns, where I can see the exit point are good for me. I look all the way through the turn and the bike glides effortlessly around the turn. I am also learning to read the contours and signs of the road (following the line of the telephone poles through the trees, watching the vanishing point in turns to see if it's decreasing radius).

But, blind turns still make me a little nervous, I find that I go into some turns too hot, and my lines are not at all clean, worse still on the sharper turns. I am trying to practice each of these, and more riding has been a good start. I think the other key is more deliberate riding, focusing on each of these things specifically and intently.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sweeny Todd Easter?

I went with the family to visit my wife's brother and his family. It's a two-hour ride to D.C. and it was surprisingly easy, with relatively light traffic, especialy for a holiday in the District. I was grateful for a relatively easy trip down. Dinner was fantastic (ham has always been one of my absolute favorites, and something magical happens to pork products south of the Mason-Dixon line. It was absolutely masterful.

We talked about family, friendships, vacations, and the like. It was a nice, easy conversation.One of the things we ended up discussing was my new interest in writing, particularly with fountain pens, and shaving old school with double edged and, occasionally, straight razors. Shaving like this is kind of a weird hobby, I admit, but it has turned shaving from something I hate doing into something I love doing. From soaking the brush, to loading lather into it, working it into a huge and rich lather with incredible scents. I love the whole ritual, especially shaving that rich lather off my face.

Anyway, my brother in law got up and brought back this leather roll. I actually thought it was a pen roll at first.

I unrolled the pouch....

...and turned it over to reveal the familiar tangs of straight razors!

I carefully took the razors out, one by one, taking a look at each... 
...then opened them to inspect the blades.

There is some restoration work to be done, but I am so excited to get these, and to eventually shave with them! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring is Coming

I got out for a short ride with my buddy, B. We went down aroundd Dillsburg, then into Michaux State Forest to roll through Caledonia. It was not more than a couple of weeks ago we were riding on fully cindered/salted roads with snow still on the ground.

The skies were blue, but it was cold, to be sure. Still, it was great to be out and riding.


What a difference a couple of weeks make! The weather has begun to warm (thought we are supposed to get more snow again toomorrow across Pennsylvania). I am not really sure what it is about this trip, but it always seems to rain when we get down there. This time was no different. It was not a heavy rain, but just enough to take the starch out of confident cornering, so we slowed down and played it safe.

We could actually see that reddish color that signals the first budding trees in the park.

Parting shot..

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Super Bowl Sunday Ride

It was just too beautiful not to get out for a little ride, and with freezing temperatures and more snow on tap for this week, I felt a bit of urgency. Luckily, my buddy Brad was up for it, so we headed out. There was a lot of cinders and salt on the road, but some careful riding led to some really nice lines.

At one point, I did hit a wash and felt the back end slip out quite a bit. I remembered to keep nice, even pressure on the throttle and the bike just caught right in and finished the turn. It was just a little disconcerting, until I realized the bike did exactly what it was supposed to do because I did exactly what I was supposed to do.

Brad picked up a new hi-viz vest and had the opportunity to check it out in some bright sunshine. I think it looks great, and in the battle of see and be seen, this one should serve him well.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winter Ride

It was an absolutely beautiful day in Central PA, with the sun peeking out and the temperature warming up to the high 40s. I just HAD to get out.

I had a nice, easy ride in the valley.

I stopped in at the local gas station to fuel up, and the snow was running off the roof in a small waterfall. It was a warning that there might be slick spots out there, and I should exercise caution and a little common sense. Hey! I can do that!

There is never shortage of breathtaking views in this area of the country.
There was no lack of salt, gravel, cinders, and other detritus on the roads, but there was always a clean path throughout the ride. Nice and easy in the blind corners, but I rode at a much more spirited pace than I initially thought I would.

I love the old farm houses that dot the landscape here, and the use of the natural stone that inhabits the surrounding fields.

The road...

...goes ever onward.

When people ask me why I ride, I try to describe moments like these.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review: Sherlock Shaving Soap by Chiseled Face

Skulking my way toward Baker Street as London's mist descended at twilight, I struggled to remember just what it was she'd said. What was it? The memory flitted about the outskirts of my memory like the vision of that Baskerville Hound, prowling just beyone the glow of the firelight's reach. Surely it was there, if only I could peer a little more deeply, see just a bit more clearly. Resigning myself to having lost the memory, I pulled the collar of my coat close about me to ward off the impending damp.

And that is when it all came flooding back. That smell! How narrow of me to be looking for that clue, when I should have been reaching back across time with the sense most associated with memory. That smell! The leather and pipe tobacco mixed with a hint of pepper and syrupy caramel flooded my nostrils, taking me from this day to that, shaving at the sink with a rich, full lather, the soap building up into an impossible texture of thick mossy cream. She wrapped her arms around me from behind, pressing against my back, and that's when she had said it. I smiled now at the memory, remembering how her lips felt, moving against my back as she had mouthed the words, and how I thought, "Surely this shave can wait a little longer..."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Clean Up: Duc and Water

And, because it's nearly 60 degrees in December, I thought why not clean the bike up? There is something really gratifying about getting into a dirty drive train and adding a little sparkle. Before:

The Grunge Brush makes a huge difference, making cleaning the chain a LOT easier.

It's so nice to be able to pull the bike OUTSIDE and clean her up.

A clean bike? She's a happy bike! After:

Repair Project: Battery Replacement

The battery on the Ducati died. I tried reviving it with a trickle charger, but to no avail. So, I started my battery replacement project.

Step ONE: remove the seat and expose the battery area. This is easy enough on the Duc.

Step TWO: Grab the tools that are going to get the job done.

Step THREE: disconnect the battery cables, being careful to remove the NEGATIVE cable FIRST. This is apparently quite important, because if you do it in reverse, and then touch the ground to the frame of the bike, all kinds of pyrotechnics occur. And, none of them good.

NOTE: I always have the parts bin, just to keep track of things. My father always insisted on this. Also, I was surprised at how many tools I needed to get this simple job done.

Step FOUR: Out with the old...

Step FIVE: And in with the new....

Here was an interesting conversation I had at the battery store.
Kid: That's it. Just don't lean it or drop it or roll it.
Me: Well, I am putting it in a motorcycle.
Kid: Oh. Sorry. I meant for the next hour.
Me: And, just to be clear, I should reconnect the positive first, THEN the negative, correct?
Kid: Oh, I don't think that matters.
Me: Oh, I think it matters VERY much.
Kid: Really?
Me: Yes. Really.
Kid: Oh. Well, I am new here, so I don't know everything.
Me: Okay, so who is the expert?
Kid: That guy. (Points to the fat guy sitting in the back). ______ can you come out here? This guy wants to ask you something? (Fat guy looks pissed off, gets up slowly and ambles over).
Me: Your guy here tells me I should keep the battery level for an hour. Anything else I should know? Like, should I reconnect the positive terminal first?
Guy: Yes. Keep the battery level, don't connect it for at least an hour (good to know), definitely reconnect the positive first (that's kind of important), and if you don't start it, put it on a slow charger/tender.

So, had I not sought clarification, I would have taken advice from some kid who was brand new and really had no idea what he was talking about, dispensing his advice ostensibly because some other idiot was too lazy to get off his ass and make sure the kid is trained right?

Jeez. I'm really glad I asked.