I’m not sure exactly when it happened…but, it is here. I’m not sure how it got so bad, but it is. I’m not really sure exactly when or how I gave over to it, but I did…..

It was a rainy Thursday around here, as it was in much of the SE U.S. It was also a bit cool for this area….some 28 degrees F. I TOOK THE TRUCK TO WORK….there I said it. I am ashamed, but I said it. I felt walled in. I felt…..caged…..a sheep on the road of life surrounded by other sheep. Waaaaa, er baaaaa????

My Ninjette was at home….I was alone. No motorcycle. No wind. No helmet…..I did think about wearing it in the truck with the windows down, but I didn’t want to hear that kind of laughter from my wife and child, I’ve heard it too often. I thought about racing home during my planning period and riding it back, but I had grading to do…drat.

When the freezing rain, sleet, and just plain cold rain ended late that night I could feel life coming back to my heart and mind. Yes. Yes. Yes. Friday!!! The cover would come off the Ninjette and I would ride again……couldn’t wait.

That is, of course, until Friday came. Sure, I rode away from home gleeful and thankful. Until, I came upon the sight seers. What is going on??? The speed limit on the road I take is 45-55mph, why are they DOING 25-30mph with their foot on the brakes and no where to turn or stop?????? I just don’t understand. AARP should cancel their membership…they are too old. If you are too scared to get out and go…..DON’T GO.

I am normally a patient soul. I have been known to hand-feed box turtles, but this is just rediculous. LOOK IN YOUR MIRRORS…when you see a long line of traffic building up behind you….ITS YOU!!! YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. In addition, the small town I work in has very limited access and between the sight-seers, trains, etc., it gets congested real quick…DON’T BE THE CONGESTION….BE THE COUGH. Clear it up. Get it out. This is happening too often.

Between the trains, sight-seers, and the white women trying to cover up their faces with goo (using their   mirrors no less), it is a wonder any of us make it to work without having a coronary incident. I mean you have the right to be so ugly that you need to wear a chemical mask, but have the decency to put the mask on…..AT HOME. Not where you are endangering my life…..aaaaaaa.

Oh yeah, I guess I didn’t notice it when headsets for cell phones got to be so expensive. They must be, for I see so few people using them. How hard is this??? Yeah, talking to Gramma about her pathetic little dog is far more important than….SAFETY. Thanks a lot. But, what the heck, lets add it a smoke, some coffee, and a nice read while we’re at it. You people amaze me.

Over the past year or so I have ridden a bicycle and a motorcycle to work. I love the freedom and the fresh air. And, since I have been out of motorcycling for so long, until recently, I forgot how much I hate cagers. Stupid, stupid, stupid people. Probably the same morons who yell and scream at their kids about their driving too. AAAAArrrrggggghhh, where do you think they learn how to drive so badly, HUH?????

Yes, I am an addict. Two wheels. NOT FOUR. Fresh air. Not scurrying desperately trying to reach the car from the house without dropping the phone. While my addiction is my own problem, I would like to arrive to work and home…….ALIVE…QUIT CUTTING ME OFF, QUIT TAILGATING, QUIT SMOKING, QUIT TALKING, QUIT PLAYING, and drive like a human…not just a humanoid.

Well, put the first battle scars on my Ninjette today. I was practicing low-speed drills. I was making a near donut right hander….slowed down to tighten the circle a bit…. Well, lets just say low-speed doesn’t equal no-speed. Geez, bike fell over, I stood over it. Of course, there were a lot of people hanging around to watch it happen….when no one was there two weeks ago I did fine. I am trying to develop as much control as possible…. Simply scratched the lower fairing, bar end, mirror, and brake lever. Nothing bent, broken, or twisted…save my ego. After doing these practices, I have discovered that I wasn’t as good, years ago, as I thought I was. I am working hard to relearn and surpass my old skills. But, learning isn’t always easy or fun.

I didn’t stop though.  I kept at it for another 30 minutes or so.  I just hate the scratches……mostly the ones to my sorely bruised ego.

I’m all giggles here…

January 26, 2007

Ok, I realize I just got back involved in motorcycling, but there are some of the new trends I just don’t understand. I love the addition of body armor in everything. I love the reliability of the new bikes. I love the fact that most of the dealers these days seem to have a bit of social responsibility. But,…

What is up with the desire to have a car engine in a motorcycle??? I mean 1200, 1300, 1500, even a 2000….what is wrong with these people. The gas mileage is actually less than the cars with the same engine…some of the cars may even weigh less. Did everyone watch Biker Boyz and get overcome??? Do you realize that nobody even sells a 400 anymore?? A 400cc motorcycle will blow the doors off of most any car ever made….yet we have 1500s?? Where are you going to go that fast? Almost none of these guys are going on Track Days. What am I missing? Or,…..

Maybe my problem is that I don’t need a motorcycle to confirm my manhood. I don’t think that having the biggest motorcycle means I am “more” of a man than someone else. It doesn’t matter if I am or not. I have what I have. Besides impressing other guys just doesn’t seem to be important to me. It never was….but, impressing the girls, well that is a different story.

Most of these guys in their race leathers, huge motorcycles, and weekend excursions are attempting to make up for a missed youth. I ride because I love to ride. I respect the guy on a scooter…..even the 50cc variety. Vespa riders are some of the most dedicated riders I have ever heard of. I do notice that most of these “manly men” cannot bring themselves and their toys out when it is cool. Anything under 50 degrees finds me virtually alone on the street…and anything under 30 forget it…I AM ALONE. What happened…I thought these were “real” bikers. Oh, and God forbid it should be overcast, sprinkle, drizzle, or mist….again I AM ALONE. I see so many motorcycles that never move, why do they buy them? Mine is out rain, shine, cold, heat, I am a biker. Not some balding racerboy wannabe.

I ride because the wind calls my name. I ride because I still can. I am not like the bald guy in the Viper cruising the high school or junior college. I find myself more like the older guy with the MG Midget or Bugeye sprite…..that same silly grin of a young kid having the time of his life. Not an effort to impress others. Truly an effort to impress me. The guy with the Midget probably has a much or more fun that the guy with the Lambo, and he doesn’t need the approval of others to feel he has a fun toy. Neither do I, but I do feel sorry to the huge CC crowd who can’t even let their bikes growl without endangering their lives and risking an entanglement with the Law.

The truth is, as I have read a number of places, it is more exciting to ride a smaller bike fast than it is to ride a larger bike slow. It is the secret that the Midget driver recognizes. Yes, the giggly kid in me is running loose around here.

While I have been feeling pretty good about my renewed motorcycling adventures, today the shiny began to be rubbed completely off the apple (the fruit not the computer). This morning the weather had changed, as our Midwest friends are well aware, and, at least here in the southeast, rain was in the offing. No big deal, the gear I have is either waterproof or water resistant. I was excited to try out my new stuff….

As I was about a block away from home I noticed that the rain was sticking nicely to my visor. Not running off you might note, simply beading up and staying put. Turning my head slightly, to allow the wind a different attack angle, made no difference, save the expectation that my peripheral vision would be sufficient. It wasn’t. I wound up running with my visor slightly ajar.

The effect of headlights on all those little beads is kinda like trying to read a newspaper looking through glasses made of a zillion cut diamonds. So, I plodded along at a mind numbing, traffic snarling, nerve jangling, 30-35 mph. This is just unacceptable.

All this and it isn’t like I didn’t expect this. I tried Rain-X wipes on my visor. I had used them years before. Apparently they didn’t work….at all. Now, I have to change my underwear….or at least add lots of Cologne when I get to work. Yes, there are other preparations, but I didn’t have those handy. Still don’t. But, I will be looking for them.

My other gear was nearly flawless. My Tourmaster equipment seems to have worked as advertised. I really appreciate that. HEY RAIN-X…you hear that!!!! I just keep wondering if they have changed their formula over the years I was absent from the motorcycling scene. If so, this isn’t the first product that I’ve taken a liking to that went weird. It wasn’t that long ago that the idiotic Pepsico changed the formula for Mt. Dew. Yeah, lets add more caffeine, more sugar, less carbonation, but hey its still the same stuff……aaaaaarrrrrgggghh. Why do they do that???? Why change what seems to be working already???? I guess I am not smart enough to understand.

I recognize the structure of packaging, promoting, and advertising a product. I understand that many industries that are gravely concerned about how much can be sold today and in the future with scant attention paid to product continuity with the past. Each company seeks to “improve” their products…never mind the customer that has grown accustomed to the current formula, construction, or practice. I am, therefore, thankful that a large corporation like Kawasaki has kept the Ninja 250 much as it has always been. It works very well. It is inexpensive. According to what I have read, it is durable. It is a great value for the money.

People deserve the best efforts of the company that they do business with. When payment is made, it is made for the best effort. Imagine how irritated a corporation would be if every credit card purchase made was canceled just as the goods were received. It wouldn’t take long and the business would be requiring cash payments. Maybe we should require true value….up front. I quit using Thinkpads when I noted how poorly Lenovo was beginning to make them, once the bought out IBM. I was no longer an IBM fan when they refused to move their computer business to Linux, even though they contribute greatly to the kernel. Who cares about the consumer? They’ll buy whatever we make…yeah, tell that to GM.

I have read a few reviews castigating Kawasaki for not changing the Ninja 250 very much in 20+ years of construction….maybe they were watching GM. I know that I have been watching GM….from the inside of all of my non-GM vehicles.

Wow, am I off topic….anyway, I tenderly made my way to work. I wasn’t happy, but I made it. Like flying, where any landing you walk away from is a good landing, any time you arrive with body (and bike) intact, it is a very good arrival. At least that is the way it seems to me….here….for now.

Well, over the past few days I managed to cross a threshold….the 500 mile break-in period for my Ninja 250. Now, I can open it up. Today was the first day that I began to explore the 7K+ range of the bike. For such a small engine to make such power it has to rev very high. The Kawasaki has a red-line of 11-12K or so. I have yet, and probably won’t, see the high side of 10K, but when I hit 9K this morning on a lonely stretch of familiar rode….whew….. The cams came on and the little Ninjette began to growl. It was amazing. It has been so long since I have ridden that I had forgotten that feeling. OMG, I felt like I was flying. I have no plans for a Hayabusa in the future and for me anything in excess of 60mph is probably a bit fast, I am old enough to be a grandpa, so the 250 will do just fine.

Now that I have completed my gear acquisition; a Nitro mesh jacket with body armor, Fieldshear mesh pants with body armor, and Tourmaster jean pants with body armor to match my Tourmaster saber jacket…..wait…..be patient….oh yeah, with body armor, I am ready to be a bit more adventurous….errr…not much. I have renewed my low speed efforts and am beginning to see results. If you want to check your skills try riding a figure 8 inside of a quadrant of 4 parking spaces. It will test your patience. I am beginning to be able to do so without flinching too much. I can weave in and out on the ends of the spaces without too much trouble, but that figure 8 thing is tough.

I have been reading “More Proficient Motorcycling” and am trying to apply some of the lessons…without injury to myself or the bike. It is difficult at times to teach this old dog new tricks but I am learning. It is getting kinda old having the little kids at the park laughing at me though….but, as a teacher I am accustomed to embarrassment.

So, now encased in body armor, I sally forth to slay the demons of traffic, asphalt, and all that nature can bring to bear…provided I don’t get scared and take the truck from here.

So, here I was riding off to work…upset about leaving, still knowing that the mission must be undertaken. I arrive without much fanfare. No real problems on the way. Then,….the stiffness began.

It started slowly at first, a tug on the ole hamstring. Then, a tightening of the thighs. Slowly, the back began to spasm a bit. Ah yes, the ole bad neck had to ensure I never forget old injuries….the glories of aging.

Why, you may ask, did this occur. There are two reasons. The first, my own actions. Since returning to motorcycling after more than a decade away, I decided to do some research (I am a science major after all) and learn more about the activity. Well, I am reading a book by a man named Hough (More Practical Motorcycling), that explains some low-speed skills I had never attempted before. I had already been trying a lot of low-speed maneuvers to sharpen my skills, but these were a bit different. (You see, I know that like in aviation, some one who can control the bike at very low speeds has a much easier time of it at high speeds.) These particular skills required me to stand on the pegs altering the pressure left or right to achieve certain motorcycle behaviors. I haven’t tried that for……I can’t remember…the pain in my sore legs is too great. It is far more athletic than I anticipated. I am weak. I am nervous. I am feeling very old. Well, I did the maneuvers without too much difficulty, but I have suffered all day. My New Year’s resolution to exercise a bit more will have to wait until I recover from…er….exercising?????? How does that work? I do not understand…heck I can hardly stand at all….eeegggaaaadddd…..I am such a weakling.

The second reason for my distress lies with my lovely wife. You should be aware of the fact that a few years ago she had surgery to remove some questionable growths on her thyroid. She came through the surgery wonderfully. I was very relieved. But…….it left her with a very odd side effect. She now often sounds like a muppet when she sleeps. Normally, I don’t care my snoring drowns her out. Or, my tinnitus keeps me from hearing anything anyway (at least on my bad days). But, last night she added a new sound….honking goose. OMG….she was not rhythmic. It kinda came and went. I couldn’t stay asleep….my ringing, her honking, the dog, the cars in the road,…but, mostly the honking. I realize this is not her fault…but, it isn’t mine either….what was the name of that doctor again?????

So my sleeplessness added to my recovery time. Age added to my recovery time. My usual athletic prowess added to my recovery time. Then, I began to try to make my self sleep….ever try that? You keep flinging yourself down on the pillow. Slam your eyes shut. Block out what you can. Force sleep to come. Then, you begin to quiz yourself to determine if you are asleep……which of course you aren’t…or you wouldn’t be asking stupid questions like: AM I ASLEEP YET……WELL, NO STUPID YOU ARE NOT!!!!

So, for now I shall drag my tired, sore, pathetic old ben-gay smelling self off to bed…put a pillow over my wife’s head, stuff plugs in my ears, dart the dog, seal the window, and GET SOME SLEEP AROUND HERE.

I am an avid reader of the forums at http://www.ninja250.com/home.htm and the FAQ found there. As a reNewed motorcycle rider it is of great interest to me to be as visible and noticeable to others as possible. I was able to accomplish the tail light mod without too much difficulty.

So, after the head rush created by my dazzling ability to turn my brake light into a tanning light, I decided to attempt the horn mod. First, you must know that I have tinnitis. Which is a ringing in the ear that doesn’t ever really go away. Sometimes, through the use of an herbal product by Clear, it is relatively quiet for a time. This was one of those times.

The horn that comes on the Kawasaki Ninja 250 is anemic at best. It would probably work well as the horn on a 5 year-old’s trike, but a real motorcycle???? In traffic???

So, I went to Harbor Freight and purchased a replacement. When I got home I decided that before actually removing the original I should test both (the original and the new one) just to see if this was a good idea.

I removed the new horn from the package. Turned on the motorcycle. Hit the horn button. Truly as unimpressive as I thought. Attached two wires to the new horn. Removed seat from motorcycle. Placed one wire to a terminal on the battery. PLACED THE SECOND WIRE TO THE BATTERY. CALL THE PARAMEDICS. I CAN’T HEAR. OMG.

That was late yesterday……. Ear still ringing loudly. Can’t hear anyone. Can’t hear anything.

Next time, fix it where new horn is on the switch. Use long stick to touch button. Use ear plugs. AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH.

It sure is loud around here.