Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can-Am Spyder? - Not For Me

We've all seen these machines by now, I've seen them on the streets.

The question I have for you is, "would you buy one?"

These things retail for $17K to $18K.

Bombardier, the company who makes this thing, isn't necessarily trying to win over motorcyclists, as they are folks who would like to ride a motorcycle, but want training wheels. At least that's what the folks said at the demo in Temecula last month. Well, they didn't actually use the words "training wheels".

They don't lean. When you go around the corner, you have to counter-lean to keep your body from getting pulled off of it.

I was spending some time on the Can-Am Spyder website moments ago, checking out all the media. I discovered they have a sub-site specifically for Southern California customers. It seems the folks at Bombardier is focusing their efforts here in my neck of the woods. They have a SoCal Spyder Blog too.

I'm sure it's fun to ride, but are you willing to spend $17-$18K to get one, and will you ride it often enough to justify that purchase?

Since I'm a motorcycle rider, maybe I'm just biased.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thinking About a Sportbike

yamaha fz6Just last week, a guy who's been hanging around with our riding club asked if I would still ride with the club if I bought a sportbike.

"Of course I'm going to still ride with the club," I said. "Will you still ride with me?"

He asked that because while we were at a local motorcycle dealer, I could not take my eyes off of a Yamaha FZ6. I told him that I was giving that bike some serious consideration. I don't know if he was joking with his question or not, because he kept a straight face. But I thought it was an interesting question.

Interesting because it shows there's clearly a social divide within the greater motorcycle community between sportbike riders and cruiser riders. They're like rival camps. Throughout cruiser forums and blogs, I've noticed people blaming the younger and more daring sportbike riders for giving all motorcyclists a reputation for being dangerous and stupid. But equally as well, people on sportbike forums and blogs blame the older, more feeble, cruiser riders for not knowing how to handle 800lbs of steel and putting other riders in danger.

In a way, it's almost like Democrats and Republicans; at an early point in your life you pick a direction to go in, and you throw your loyalty to it and blame "the other side" for creating all the problems.

But we're all motorcycle riders, just like we're all Americans, and we all love our freedom to ride, whatever "riding" means to you.

So lately, I've had my eye on the Yamaha FZ6 pictured above. Technically, it's not a sportbike, it's a standard, when you consider the more upright riding position, and a gearing designed more for commuting than for racing. But it has sport styling, so it's often confused for a sportbike. But kid you not, these bikes perform very well in the twisties, much better than my Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic, and better than my Yamaha Road Star. And with 98 peak horsepower, and a light 459 pound aluminum construction, it'll carry me around quite easily.

And then a brand new one is priced at only $7,000. How can I resist?

One of my other buddies is totally in support of me buying this. He's a cruiser rider also, but understands the need to carve canyons evermore efficiently. Just this morning, he called me up about a used FZ6 at North County House of Motorcycles, and offered to meet me there because that dealer lets people test ride used bikes. I am very tempted.

But seriously, I can't throw down money for another bike right now. First, I'd have to sell the Road Star, and I know that bike will only fetch me $3-4K, and I'd still have to dig into my bank account for the rest. I'm carrying a second mortgage that I really need to get rid of, and I've been nagging my wife about toning down her spending.

If anything, maybe towards the end of the year I'll revisit this.

You might be interested in a related FZ6 article I posted yesterday on Biker News Online (link).

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thank God for the Road

"Thank God For The Road"

Recorded by "The Flatlanders"

There’s the sky, here’s the earth
This is the road for all it’s worth
It’s a ribbon, it’s a river, it’s a wave
It’s an arrow and it’s a snake
It’s asleep and it’s awake
And it stretches from the cradle to the grave

Thank God for the road
And the hubcaps and the headlights
And the mudflaps and the taillights
And the dim lights and the bright lights

Thank God for the road
And the miles that come between us
The little rains that come to clean us
The guardian angels who have seen us

Thank God for the road
No matter what it takes to drive it
Life and death can seem so private
Still you think you will survive it
Thank God for the road

There’s the sky, here’s the earth
This is the road for all it’s worth
It’s a ribbon, it’s a river, it’s a wave
It’s an arrow and it’s a snake
It’s asleep and it’s awake
And it stretches from the cradle to the grave

Thank God for the road
The soft shoulders you can cry on
The hard nerves you rely on
The fast curves you can die on

Thank God for the road
And the stars that shine above it
No matter what you once thought of it
You always knew you’d come to love it

Thank God for the road
And those old telephone poles
A cup of coffee and a sweet roll
When you’re trying to save your own soul
Thank God for the road

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Twitter Your Motorcycle Rides

That last motorcycle camping trip to Utah, I tried to document on Twitter.

Part of my goal was to generate interesting content on Twitter. Much of what I've found on Twitter is just junk. I'm just as guilty as the next guy, posting photos of my beer, or telling people I'm bored, or informing my followers what television show I'm watching.

So anyways, I figured if there are any motorcycle riders following my Twitter feed, the maybe they'd be interested in seeing the motorcycle ride as it happens. Maybe I'd end up doing something useful with Twitter. In a sense, it's still the same useless junk everyone else is posting, like photos, and telling people where I'm at. But if you're a motorcycle rider, you might get some sense of riding along with me.

But as it turns out, it's not all that practical.

While we were on the Interstate, I could at least get network access. But once we got into remote areas of Utah, I had no access. I saw some awesome scenery, but couldn't share it with you. I could still take the photo, and save it for later when I came into access. But often times I'd forget because I was enjoying the moment with my friends.

Then there is peer pressure. At every stop, I'd pull my Blackberry out, and snap a photo. Then I'd take some extra minutes to e-mail it to Twitpic, and include a description. The other guys in my group kept chiding me about having to blog at each stop. Someone would ask, "Are we all ready to go?" And someone else would say, "No, Steve hasn't finished blogging".

But as far as Twitter goes, you only get that 140 characters to say something. And that just isn't enough to describe the thrill of the road, and the splendor of Mother Nature.

I actually did set up an e-mail address for this very blog, and I did submit a blog post through that address, which appeared here. But composing an article on a Blackberry keyboard is not very elegant, especially on a touch-screen keyboard. It can be done, but you have to be patient.

But how much patience can I have when my buddies are around the campfire, eating hot dogs, drinking beer, and laughing it up. I'd rather join in on the comraderie than trying to compose an article.

Using Twitter or E-mail Blogger to document your motorcycle ride works best when going solo.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Back From the Camping Trip

dixie national forest, utahArrived back home from my motorcycle camping trip Tuesday evening.

Had a great time seeing a lot of country, riding some 1,500 miles, and having a good time with my friends. Here's a recap of what attractions we rode through...

Zion National Park, UT
Dixie National Forest, UT
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Grand Staircase Escalante State Park, UT
Capitol Reef National Park, UT
Lake Powell, UT
Natural Bridges National Monument, UT
Monument Valley, UT
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Grand Canyon Caverns, AZ

Here's where we camped...

Day 1, Zion National Park
Day 2, Natural Bridges National Monument
Day 3, Grand Canyon Caverns

The trip was largely based around one stretch of road, Highway 12 through Utah. It's regarded as one of the top most scenic roads in the United States. As it turned out, it was exactly so. Miles and miles of open country, forest, mountains, desert, and lots twisty roads for a motorcyclist like myself to enjoy.

Highway 24, which runs through Capitol Reef National Park is perhaps as equally spectacular as Highway 12. It runs through tall columns of red rock.

Highway 95 running south along Lake Powell is another beautiful road, filled with sweeping curves through canyons that you can fly through at 80mph, and nary any law enforcement to give you trouble.

Hwy 261, Utah, winding down from Cedar Mesa

Highway 261, running from Natural Bridges National Monument to Mexican Hat, UT offers a breathtaking view of Southern Utah. There's a stretch of about 3 miles of dirt road that winds its way from atop Cedar Mesa, with 5mph switchbacks and a 10% downgrade. The view of the valley below is just awesome!!

It was mostly cold the whole time. The coldest it got during the ride was on Day 2, riding along Highway 12 towards Lion Mountain, where it got into the 20s. The coldest it got during the night was while we camped at Natural Bridges, where it also got into the 20s.

But the weather turned out to be great. Sunny most of the time, and no rain. It was just cold. But when we got back into the California desert, temperatures warmed up to the 90s, and we were riding with just t-shirts on.

Anyways, take a look at my photo album for all the pics...

Here's Larry's photos...

And here's Brian's photos...

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Motorcycle Camping Trip Day 1

Arrived at Zion NP around 4:30pm. Mostly good weather the way up, but had some gusts. Right now we are sitting around the fire drinking beer and 12 year old Scotch. Ate a pack of hot links. Folks have digressed to bitching about OBAMA.

Temps are getting cold right now.

I plan to stay up all night long and party out in preparation for a long cold day of riding tomorrow.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Am I Insane?

Leaving tomorrow morning on this trip.

Forecast calling for rain and snow at Zion National Park our first day there.

Sunday morning we'll be climbing elevation to Bryce Canyon with air temperatures in the 20s during the AM.

Sleeping outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures.

I'm expecting water, sand, snow and ice all over the road.

And we'll be doing it on fully packed Ultra Classics and Gold Wings.

Seven of us are going.

It's going to be the coldest 1,500 miles of my life.

And the most memorable.

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Raincoat For Windshields

Has anyone tried this stuff called, "Raincoat"?

Looks like we're going to get rain and snow on this motorcycle camping trip to Utah. So I decided to apply this to the windshield of my Ultra Classic, hoping it'll make the water drops roll off.

This stuff looks and feels like Turtle Wax. You rub it all over the windshield, let it dry, and then buff it off.

It cost me $0.99 per packet at my local CycleGear.

The company that makes this stuff, MotoSolutions, says it's safe for Lexan, plexiglass, polycarbonate, etc.

We'll see how well it works.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spamming the Police

Just got an interesting e-mail an hour ago, from the Chief of Police in Temecula, CA.

If you recall last year, I posted an article on my Biker News Online blog about the Temecula cops having busted bikes for loud pipes, but are trying to back off due to angry business owners (link).

Well in that article, I posted the Chief's phone number and e-mail address, which he actually gave me permission to do. Since then, he's received a lot of correspondence. And here's his e-mail...

My name is Jerry Williams, I am the Chief of Police for Temecula, Ca. Ever since I was quoted in one of your articles, I have been getting e-mails about your web-site. Most of them are praise and a few are requests to advertise. This is not a problem for me, I usually respond and let them know to contact you; however, I'm afraid that you may lose business if I fail to get around to responding to them.

I'm not sure how they get to me, but you may want to check your site for my e-mail address. Below is the latest e-mail that I received.

Let me know if there is anything I can do to help with this matter.

Jerry Williams
Chief of Police
Temecula, Ca.
The "latest e-mail" that he received and forwarded to me is a spam. It was generated by a robot that scours websites for e-mail addresses, and sends them a standard sales pitch on how you (a website publisher) can make money online. Apparently, he's getting so many of them lately, that he's concerned he won't have time to direct each one of them to me.

So I responded back that it was just a spam, and explained it.

But I guess I'll have to figure out a way to present his e-mail address in a way that scrapers can't identify. I've used imaged text in place of real text on some of my other sites, and that's probably what I'll do.

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About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)