Sunday, August 31, 2008

No riots here

The office has been closed all week because of the Democratic National Convention (DNC.) They were sure there were going to be a lot of activists and protesters creating a lot of chaos, and that traffic and parking would be a big problem so they gave everyone a week of paid leave. Tomorrow is a holiday so I go back to work on Tuesday.

I ignored the DNC but did tune in Thursday night to hear Barack Obama's speech. It was a stirring speech. As I expected, the chaos they were expecting from the activists and protesters didn't materialize. The only problem that made the news was a minor conflict Monday night in Civic Center park. The news made it sound like a group of protesters got squeezed between police lines and someone let loose with some pepper spray. It made me think the left hand didn't know what the right had was doing. I will ignore the Republican National Convention too but will tune in to hear John McCain's speech next Thursday.

I don't have much to show for my time off. I did ride every day, except Thursday, this week. I bought a riding jacket with yellow Scotchlite on the arms and shoulders and protective padding in the shoulders, back and elbows. Unfortunately, it is insufferably hot to wear in warm weather even though it has vents you can open.

I started out on a ride south along the foothills last Saturday but aborted early when the weather turned bad. I learned later that the storm I ran into put down a lot of lightning, hail and a couple of tornados (no damage.) I found a vacant parking lot and practiced tight turns, U-turns, swerving, and quick stops Tuesday and again today (Saturday.) I Blogged earlier about my adventures on Wednesday (58 miles in city traffic!)

I read all the way through the MSF "Motorcycling Excellence (2 ed)" on Tuesday, then started reading "Proficient Motorcycling" by David L. Hough. Proficient Motorcycling is an outstanding book! While he does cover some of the basics, the book is all about becoming a better, safer, more skilled rider. He helps you develop riding strategy and tactics. I also have his second book but haven't opened it yet. I need to fully digest and integrate this one first.

I spent Thursday and Friday cleaning out a couple of closets and recycling some books I'm done with. Now, what to do about that old broken down uncomfortable recliner?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Round and round we go

I got the registration and license plate for my motorcycle today. I encountered a few problems and had to go to the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) three separate times before I got the job done. The bike and I got a good work-out in city traffic today. I started out at 9AM in the morning and finished at 3:30PM in the afternoon (with time out for lunch.)

The first misstep was when I went to the same DMV office where I got my drivers license. They said they only do drivers licenses at that office and that I needed to go to a different office, way south, to get my registration and license plate.

I drove down to the Bear Valley office in south west Denver. The line wasn't very long so I didn't have to wait very long, but when it came time to pay the fees, I discovered that I left my checkbook at home and they didn't take credit cards. I went home and got my checkbook - that was round-trip one.

I returned to the DMV, waited in line again (not too long,) paid the fees, got my registration and license plate, and went back home. Round-trip two. When I put the license plate on the motorcycle I discovered that they had given me the Year validation sticker to put onto the lower right corner of the plate, but I was missing the Month validation sticker that you put onto the lower left corner of the license plate. You can get pulled over and ticketed for not having current validation stickers on your license plate! I called the DMV and asked them what I should do. They told me to come back to the office and they would give me the missing sticker.

After lunch I made round-trip number three. The line at the DMV was a lot longer this time. The traffic had picked up and the schools had let out by then too. On the way back I managed to get behind two public transit buses and a school bus so it was stop and go for quit a ways.

The job is finally done and I'm all registered, licensed and paid in full.

The apartment manager fixed my sliding door today. It has been sliding metal-on-metal for a long time. It works great now!

I'm watching the 1959 hit movie "Some Like It Hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon on TV right now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Motorcycle gear shift sequence

I've had some inquiries about the the gear (or shift) sequence on the Suzuki Boulevard. The Boulevard has the standard 1 down 4 up shift sequence (5 gears.) Neutral is a half click between 1st and 2nd. This is a very common shift sequence on motorcycles; some motorcycles may have fewer gears (1 down 3 up etc.) and some may also have a low range/high range lever. I'm sure there are some motorcycles that use a different shift sequence but those are exceptions to the common 1 down/x up sequence.

Shifting gears smoothly and easily is a learning process that takes practice. It requires timing, coordination and technique.

With the bike in neutral and the throttle closed, pull the clutch fully in, then give the gear shifter a firm press with the front of your left foot. You should hear a "click". The green light on the instrument panel should go out, and if you very gently and slowly slip the clutch into the friction zone, you should feel the bike begin to pull a little - you're in 1st gear.

To shift back into neutral, with the bike fully stopped, the throttle closed and the clutch pulled in, put the tip of your boot under the gear shift and "gently" lift up part way until you hear a "tic". The green indicator light on the instrument panel "should" come back on, and nothing should happen when you gently and slowly slip the clutch into the friction zone - you're back in neutral.

When the bike is in 1st gear and moving forward, shift from 1st gear into 2nd gear by simultaneously closing the throttle and pulling in the clutch lever, then give the gear shifter a firm lift up with the tip of your left boot. You should hear a "click". When you hear the click, simultaneously roll the throttle back on and ease out the clutch lever. If you do it right you go from 1st gear into 2nd gear passing through neutral. It's the same process to shift from 2nd into 3rd and 4th into 5th but there isn't a neutral to pass through.

It's the same technique to downshift from a higher gear into a lower gear except you press down firmly on the shift lever instead of lifting up. Be careful not to let the clutch lever out too soon or too quickly; give the engine revs time to match the speed of the bike.

A word of caution regarding the green neutral indicator light - don't trust it! You might have gotten the shift lever moved just enough to activate the light but the bike could still be in gear. The light is just an indication that the engine is in neutral but it should be viewed with some skepticism.

Shifting should become a coordinated, smooth, fluid movement that takes practice to develop. I am still learning to develop a smooth fluid technique on my new bike.

This video preview of "Learn To Ride The Easy Way" from Ride Like A Pro shows how to operate the gear shifter.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on motorcycles, engines, automobiles, gears or shifting.

See also:
Does humidity affect judgment?
I am so embarrassed
My First Ride
I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated)
Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mounted my Saddlebags

My Saddlebags arrived this week and I got them mounted today. I got the classic Fatboy Saddlebags and mounted them using Easy Brackets.

The papers for the bike arrived Friday too. Now I can get it registered and get license plates on it.

Sunday should be a nice for a ride.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It finally stopped raining

The forecast called for more rain today but it didn't materialize. I put on my helmetcam and took the motorcycle out and road around the neighborhood awhile, took some pictures of myself on the bike, and gassed up. It's getting about 45.5 MPG.

 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rain. Rain. Go away. Come again some other day.


I didn't leave the apartment Sunday but I road the motorcycle to and from work Monday through Thursday; I drove the car to work on Friday. It started raining Thursday night and hasn't stopped. The forcast calls for rain through Sunday, so no riding this weekend. It's like spring time in August.

A friend of mine sent me an article from the New York Times that talks about an increase in the number of fatalities from motorcycle accidents. The article attributes the increase to 3 factors: an increase in the number of riders, fewer States requiring helmets,
And, safety officials say, many of the riders are middle-age or older men who rode when they were young, gave it up as they raised children and have recently gone back to the bike. “They think they still have the same reflexes,” said James Port, the safety agency’s deputy administrator. (New York Times, Aug. 14, 2008)
Hum, that describes me exactly - except for the children and the reflexes parts. I know my reflexes aren't what they use to be and I always wear a helmet.

I ordered saddle bags for the bike but they will take 2 weeks to arrive. I am going to get a security lock for the front wheel, in addition to the standard fork lock, for when the bike is parked. I am thinking about getting Lojack too but I'm not sure Lojack is worth it (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

My First Ride (updated)

I Re-edited the original video and cut the time down to just under 5 minutes; I also added narration.

I left work a little early Friday afternoon. I went and bought a camera that sticks onto the side of my helmet. It didn't come with any memory and it needed to be charged up. I was waiting for rush hour traffic to clear out to go buy some memory for it. While I was waiting, it clouded up and lightning started flashing then it really pored on the rain. We got 1.7 inches of rain in just under an hour! I don't think I've ever seen rain come down that hard before.

Saturday I took my first real ride on the new motorcycle. I road west on 6th Avenue to Golden then took Colorado Highway 46 (Golden Gate Canyon Road) into the mountains to Colorado Highway 119. I turned north on C119 and turned east onto C72 and followed it down to C93. Colorado Highway 93 took me back south to US Highway 6 (6th Avenue). This loop circles Colorado Golden Gate State Park but I did not go into the park.

The entire circuit is a little challenging for the inexperienced. The road is narrow, there are fallen rocks, lots of tight curves and blind curves, bicyclists, and on-coming traffic. This route was almost at my maximum skill level - there was no room for error. I even scraped my pegs on the pavement going around a couple of the turns. Experienced riders can tell from the video that I am not looking far enough ahead and I am not planning or entering the turns well.

I made some other mistakes too. After I mounted the camera on my helmet, the camera was aimed too low so I had to adjust where the camera was aimed; I had to take my helmet off to do that. When I put my helmet back on I forgot to fasten the chin strap. I didn't realize my strap wasn't fastened until I was roaring down US6 at 70MPH! I also discovered that the fanny pack I was using to hold all my essential paraphernalia (wallet, cell phone, keys, garage door opener, etc.) was constricting my movements. I pulled over to the side of the road when I turned onto Golden Gate Canyon Road and stowed my fanny pack in my back pack, where I had stowed a rain coat and a couple of bottles of water, and fastened my chin strap.

Another mistake was to pull onto C119 with my face shield up and a wasp flew into my helmet and stung my nose! Stupid mistakes like these add up and can lead to an accident or at least an unpleasant ride.

I turned on my helmet camera when I started up Golden Gate Canyon Road (C46) and turned it off when I reached C119. It recorded 32 minutes of video. I edited the video down to about 8 minutes. For some reason, it's going to take over 4 hours to render 8 minutes of video! Somethings not right. The camera also records audio but once the bike is moving all you can hear is wind noise (that's all I could hear too,) but the video looks pretty good (if it ever finishes rendering.)



I left the apartment at 12:20PM and got back to the apartment at 3:10PM. I stopped and drank a bottle of water at the junction of C46 and C119. I also stopped at a 7-Eleven in Golden for a bottle of pop on the way back. Round trip was 88 miles.

I enjoyed my first day trip and I think I learned from it. I may have even grown my skill level a little. Lessons learned: be ready to ride, have the right gear, ride within your limits, fasten your chin strap, and close your face shield.

Also see:
Does humidity affect judgment?
I am so embarrassed
I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated)
Motorcycle gear shift sequence
Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining!

I use to ride motorcycles in the 70's but haven't ridden since 1980. Two weeks ago I completed a basic rider skills class and now have a motorcycle endorsement on my drivers license.

I took time off from work this morning to buy a Suzuki Boulevard C50 Cruiser. After I got the bike, and insurance, I went back to work; I probably road it 30 Minutes.

Then it started raining! It's still raining! I can't remember the last time it rained. This has been the driest year on record since the dust bowl era of the 1930's. I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining!

I stayed late at work and kept an eye on the local radar. When I saw a clear spot on the radar between Two of the red blobs, I road home - in the rain - without rain gear. I got soaked. At least I had my helmet on so my hair didn't get wet.


I was going to take pictures this evening, maybe even shoot some video, but that will have to wait. Hopefully tomorrow night.

I look forward to taking a ride up in the mountains on a warm lazy fall afternoon