Friday, January 23, 2015

Ran Out of Gas on My Motorcycle

motorcycle roadside assistance
County of Riverside has government-funded roadside assistance patrols
Ran out of gas on my motorcycle while riding this afternoon. Of course at first, the sputtering really catches me off guard, and then as I'm pulling off to the side, I keep wondering, "What the Hell is going on?"

Five years ago, I wrote about similar experiences in an article entitled, "Running Out of Gas on a Motorcycle". I mentioned that I have this habit of procrastinating a fill up until I absolutely need it. I keep running math calculations in my head by looking at the odometer and the mile marker signs to determine when I really, absolutely, without a doubt, gotta have to stop for gas.

Thus far, of the times I've actually drained the tank and had to pull over, I've been within walking distance to a gas station. It was labor enough to push a nearly 800 pound Electra Glide Ultra Classic in the past.

This time around, I had to push a 650 pound Honda ST1300 for about a mile.

I was actually about a mile and a half from the freeway offramp, where I knew there was a gas station.

"A mile and a half", I thought to myself. "I can do this."

Sash wanted to call her Triple A. But I don't think it would have helped, since I'm not on that policy. I actually do have an American Express Gold Card, which has built-in roadside assistance, up to $50.00, which should cover this particular circumstance. But, I knew that meant having to wait 30-60 minutes.

"Fuck it. I'm just gonna push it."

I got about a mile down the freeway, when I heard a "Beep!"

I figured it was a cop.

It turned out to be Roadside Assistance. Apparently, the County of Riverside, where I had been, has its own fleet of trucks that patrol the highways looking for vehicles in need of help. The guy was able to pour a gallon of gas to get me going.

Except, the bike didn't want to start.

It turned out that leaving the hazard lights on the entire mile of walking it drained the battery. You'd think that hazard lights wouldn't do that so quickly. But I guess Hondas have a way of killing batteries pretty fast.

So, I had to pull off the seat, pull off the right-side saddlebag, and screw off the right side panel, just to get to the battery. The guy hooked up his jumper cables, and I turned the key and got the bike running. Awesome.

Except, you can't remount the saddlebag without the key.

The ST1300 has a lock on the passenger hand rails that secure the saddlebags. That meant having to take the key out of the ignition and letting the engine die, to get the bag back on. I hoped for the sake my own sanity the engine would start back up.

Fortunately, it started right up.

So I got my exercise in for the day.

The roadside assistance guy didn't charge me since it was all government work. I didn't have any cash on hand to tip him. The libertarian in me is still not sure government should be competing against private enterprise. But then again, when you're in that situation, you're just happy to see someone pull up in a truck.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sash Walker's Two Years on a Motorcycle

Sash riding eastbound US-70 outside De Valls Bluff, AR
It's been two years to this month that my wife Sash has been riding her own motorcycle, and for a guy who has watched her the entire time, it's been quite a fulfilling experience.

For one, I really love to see someone get excited about riding a motorcycle, seeing new bikes, getting new gear, and going to new places.

But two, I'm also really proud to know that Sash is building her own presence in the motorcycling community. She's made lots of friends, participated in events, and got to know some of the movers and shakers in this world.

Two years really isn't a lot of time when you consider many of us riders have been at this for decades. But at least within women's circles, I'm willing to bet that 80% of them haven't covered 35,000+ miles and 25 states in their first two years of riding. And that's just on her own bike.

I remember my first two years on a motorcycle. I was still in college. I hadn't even ridden it across state lines.

Often times, we'll say to each other that we're two very similar people, except I'm an introvert and she's an extrovert. Otherwise, we have similar upbringings, enjoy many of the same things, and deal with many of the same demons.

Generally, we see motorcycling in similar ways. We like touring across country, we don't fall into niches like cruisers, sportbikes, Harleys, BMWs, metrics, et al, we just like motorcycling. But with Sash being an extrovert, she likes hanging around people and building relationships. And me being an introvert, I like being on the bike, dialing myself in, and getting in to my head.

And that works well for us.

She's great at networking and building a clientele. I'm good at hiding behind this laptop and figuring out all this Internet marketing stuff.  The two of us make a good team.

But the transition from a severely depressed, SUV-driving, suburban housewife, to this over-the-top, in-your-face, biker chick with pink hair, was all on her own. I may have given her a ride on the back of my bike, and I may have taught her things about Internet marketing, but as they say, "You can only lead a horse to water..."

As it stands now, we've extended our stay in San Diego only until February 28. After that, our plan is to hit the highway and get back to riding across the country. The only circumstances that could keep us in San Diego longer is if Indian Motorcycles wants Sash to have the 2015 Scout for longer, or if we find more clients that need us in town.

But if Indian would like us to keep building the website, perhaps they could throw on the rest of the accessories (luggage rack, sissy bar, saddle bags) so that we can take it across the country!

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Does Google Hate Harleys and Bikers?

Autocomplete is a feature of Google Search that displays a list of suggested search queries as soon as you start typing. According to Google, the suggested queries are based on what other users have actually searched.

So let's take a look at what people are searching with respect to Harley-Davidson and bikers.

These Autocomplete suggestions are with Global Results turned on...

Could you imagine Harley-Davidson coming out with a line of douchebags called, "Milwaukee's Eve"?

I guess when a motorcycle costs the same as a brand new Ford F350, you want to check with Google to make sure it's worth it.

Because if bikers really are getting laid, then it'd be a lot cheaper than buying an Italian sports car.

It's kinda sad and hilarious that people use Google to learn how to look and act like a biker.

If everyone knew how bikers made money, then everyone would become bikers.

Or maybe people are getting way too hooked on Sons of Anarchy.

This is the second search phrase that associates "harleys" with "gay".

No, but if you line the inside of a motorcycle helmet with aluminum foil, it will prevent aliens from reading your thoughts.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Working On My Novel

san diego
I-5 Southbound through San Diego, CA
Certainly, I could be riding my motorcycle through the back country of Southern California. I mean, it's sunny outside today. Except it's been snowing here! While it's still 58 degrees F (14.4 C) in downtown San Diego, there's still a blanket of white stuff further inland where all the good riding is.

But lately, I've wanted to put more effort into creative writing. For one, this blog is a creative writing outlet. It helps me get back into my head when I feel the need to check out of reality.

For the past year however, I've been working on a novel. I've had several chapters written, but have also gone through several revisions.

At first, I came up with an outline. But that didn't go so well. I kept changing the outline over and over. Then I came up with a shotgun approach, where I identified characters, and wrote small stories of their backgrounds. Then I developed a timeline of events that leads up to when my novel begins. A lot of what I've been writing thus far is that sort of material, which may never make it into the novel, but certainly helps me identify the plot and character development.

And the odd thing is that I don't really read novels.

Which is probably why it's taking me so long write one.

As for what the novel is about, well, I don't want to divulge too much right now. But it's a lot of things. For one, it's science-fiction. However, it's not about alien worlds, time travel, or intergalactic battles. It's more about the struggles between religion and politics, technology and nature, corporatism and individual liberties. Yet, it's also about the symbiosis of polar opposites, similar to how police cannot exist without criminals, or empowerment cannot exist without oppression. At the middle of it all is a young man trying to understand who he is and where he fits in. The novel was inspired by my experiences growing up as a child, my time in college, and the recent years motorcycling across the USA and Canada.

The last few years, Sash and I have been following the efforts of Martin Lastrapes. He authored a novel, "Inside the Outside", which he self-published. Sash met him at a book event up in Riverside County and the two have done book-signings at various shops since then. Today, Martin spends much of his time at book events, writers workshops, blogging, and podcasting. Compared to other self-published authors, he takes a very active approach towards marketing his book.

I'm not sure what kind of income Martin is getting from noveling, but I thought about trying my hand at what he does.

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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...)