Friday, June 29, 2012

The Lighting Flashes and the Thunder Rolls... and It's All Inside My Head

The storm rises and the pressure grows... I hear sounds off in the distance of memory and that foul tasting, claustrophobic panic rises in my throat again... and I have to ride.

The lightning is flashing in the distance as I pull on my gloves and turn the key. The engine rumbles to life and I can feel the throbbing vibration of the power under me. I can feel the panic of living in this life already starting to recede...

The wind feels fresh on my face as I roll out of the driveway...before I lower the visor.

I need movement... the sound of the tires over the breaks in the pavement, the rush and sweet scent of the wind... The throb of the engine, the feeling of my body merged with machine as it leans around the corners working as one. An invisible, unspoken request made; a nimble, unquestioning response from the bike given.

The demons in the wire begin to quiet...

Lightning and dark clouds behind and in front. The fresh scent of rain has washed away the stench of the smoke from the fire storms in the mountains that for days have awakened the sleeping demons in my mind.

A bubble of Freedom surrounds me and is carried along as the Raider rolls me away on that ribbon of asphalt that unchains a mans soul.

It is that bubble of Clear, pressure excluding air that is generated every time the bike is fired up; that keeps me moving. Somehow, if even for only a couple of hours, if even only a few pounds of pressure, the bike never fails to loosen the vise constricting my chest.

The grasping, prodding, thieves of a man's life seem to lose their power... while Two Wheels roll. And so I roll... with no purpose, no destination... just roll. Breathing without having to think; "Breathe in... Breathe out."

I Roll... for that bit of time... unencumbered by the meaningless, useless burdens thrust on me. I Roll... knowing the True Joy that Life can be... when the torments mankind has created are locked out.

I Roll... with a movie reel of life running through my head... that rapidly fades into insignificance... as long as the two wheels turn.

They say I'm crazy... that to ride is dangerous. They say I'm selfish... To ride is to run away. That I need to stop such doings, live safely and be who I am expected to be. Talk about it and work and put it all aside and behind. "They", haven't got a clue. The reality is far different. It has always been behind... Chasing. There is no closure, that is a fantasy and a fable. There is only endurance.

To NOT ride is dangerous. To NOT ride is an odious thought I cannot endure. The ONLY thing that seems to hold off the mind numbing reality of Life... is to ride... To NOT ride is to lay down and turn up my toes.

Grab Your Handles and Ride!

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Raider Refit has Begun!

I got the first step of refitting my Yamaha Raider for Motorcycle Touring done Friday afternoon.

After riding the bike for a couple of years with the leather Osprey saddlebags I decided that I needed to rework the setup.

The bags have served well, but as it turns out, the conditions I live in now are not made for the endurance of leather saddlebags. I just can't keep ahead of the abuse the weather puts on the leather bags that are exposed to the elements 100% of the time.

But, to change to the fiberglass hard bags I'm going to install, it required the replacement of the existing, factory exhaust pipes.

*Yamaha Raider with Factory Pipes*
 That dogleg in the pipes rises up so high it's pretty hard to squeeze in any sort of a hard bag with the size I want to go to.

That's the other thing working here. I wanted to enlarge the bags a bit to improve their capacity for Motorcycle Touring on my Yamaha sled.

I chewed on this for a long time... flopping back and forth from one style to another... and finally settled on the 3" Big Straights from Hard Chrome in the Black version.

*Yamaha Raider with 3" Big Straights by Hard Chrome*
Geeze... You'd think a guy taking a portrait of his most favorite motorcycle of all time would remember to pull the protective masking tape off the frame first! :)

But look at the difference in space twixt the pipes and the bags... I'm impatiently waiting now for my new Tsukayu Coner saddlebags to arrive!

That and the noise... I'm not real BIG on Loud Pipes... I was nervous about these being too noisy... So far? I'm happy. They've got a deep burbling rumble to 'em without that ear cracking edge. If you stay off the throttle in the "neighborhood" and keep your rpm down the neighbors have nothing to complain about.

On the Highway, where before I couldn't even hear the motor over the wind... I now have that nice, deep rumble that always tickles the giggles of a "Motorhead"... OK... so I'm a partial motorhead. So far it's a real pleasing note... needs be, I can swap the baffles for a "quieter" variety... but with the pipes being the long style, I think they'll ride just as they are.

I was a lil' anxious about going in the Blacked out "direction" but, already, I'm liking the more subdued style of 'em. Since I live in the "you can polish 'em or you can ride 'em" school of thought ... and sit solidly on the Ride 'em side ;) I think the black is gonna do better in that situation than chrome!

Riding the bike back to the rig from my kids place in Denver... I rolled up I-25. One of the first things I noticed was there seemed to be a bit more vibration. The second was that my fuel mileage kinda went to hell!

Geeze! And I thought it would improve a bit...

Then... I looked down at the speedo... Hmmm...

Ya think that maybe all those extra numbers I found when I looked at the speedometer might have something to do with more vibration and poorer fuel economy? :))

Took a roll up Poudre Canyon yesterday... at my more "normal" cruising speed and that idea seems to have been borne out... Mileage seems to be back in the 48-52 mpg range that I normally run. Guess I'll have to guard against the Thunder Induced Velocity!

Now that I "played" for a couple of days...

It's back to work for me now.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Riding... How Much is Enough?

I've had the thought... That I've not been riding as much as I thought I would when we left the old life behind and started our full time yondering... nearly two years ago now.

Sometimes... that's been true. When we're camped 30 miles above Gunnison and ten miles up a dirt road... there's something that just interferes with my desire to put the Raider on the ground.... and that just ain't right.

But what can I say, dirt roads just don't shine for that big road burner. The result is that sometimes that bike has sat on the truck for several days at a time... too many days.

Since we've been roosted back in Fort Collins I've been back to pretty much daily runs for one purpose or another. It reminds me that I'm a much happier old coot if I'm pushin' that sled through the wind at least once a day.

Now... sayin' I've not been splittin' the wind enough since we left so many months ago might have some folks scratchin' their heads...

... considerin' that I started out this wandering journey of ours two years ago riding to Alaska and back in mid 2010. The Million Dollar Highway through Silverton came next in the fall.

The Raider rolled through Arches National Park and Canyon Lands. It ran the Pacific Coast Highway a few miles; We covered the roads around Redding and Mt. Shasta in California. We've ridden Yosemite, and Going to the Sun Road up in Glacier National Park... Twice!

Yellowstone has been ridden twice itself! We rolled around San Juan Island in Puget Sound and across the Sierras in Washington. Lolo and Lost Trail passes in Montana have seen me come through... as well as the Bear Tooth Highway! I've raced across southern Montana and Northern Wyoming to the Black Hills of the Dakotas.

The Arizona Desert and its Highlands have known the feel of my Raiders tires in the last two years, as well as Zion and Bryce up in Utah...

So... When I say I've not been riding enough... some might ask... "Huh? Are you kidding?" :) What can I say? It's an unsatisfied lust. Maybe unsatisfiable?

Yesterday after visiting the kids in Denver and needful of another asphalt fix, I chose to make a swing out to the base of the Front Range Mountains to circle back to Fort Collins, rather than the boring slab run up I-25.

I still had to fight my way past the lil' gals with their cell phone either stuck in their ears... or held in front of their faces... texting... while their volvo drifts 'cross the lane line... to get out of Denver and through Boulder to catch 36 to Estes Park. (this is where I'm just shaking my head)

So... I break out into some nice open mountain road... roll clear of the few hundred cagers with the same idea for a Saturday morning... (at least most of 'em weren't texting!)

To find the weather trying to keep things interesting... Which is why I turned up 36 and not gone farther west on 119 to catch 72 up through Nederland and Ward. It was REALLY dark off that way! :)

*Weather Brewing on a Ribbon of Asphalt*

I'm pretty sure some would look up ahead... see those clouds and then turn 'round and roll for home... I understand that... but think it's a mistake. All GOOD riding is not sun shine and balmy weather.

The truth is... there's something in the rain. There's something you get... riding through a storm... that you don't get otherwise. It's another shade of the healing power of the Open Road. I was wonderin' about it as I rolled... and wonderin' was I gonna get wet. I don't generally climb into my rain gear... 'less I'm pretty certain sure the thing is gonna last a while... I know... I know... the formal term is "Learning Disabled"...

Anyhoo... The only thing that came to me was that the Rain is LIFE. It's Life fallin' out of the sky. I don't know... Maybe that's why I'm always grinnin' when I'm rain riding. I love the fresh scent of the air... even the sound of the drops rattling on my Helmet. It's all good.

Yeah... I know... the old man is Weird! :)

*Two Wheels rolling into the Storm*

The truth is... I learned a lesson from a forgotten teacher... a Long time ago. "Don't fight the weather or fear it. Just go with it. Embrace It!"

But... even a weather embracing, puss gut, cowboy biker can choose to wimp out once in a while...

*Motorcycle Hideout*

 ... and that's what I did yesterday. I took shelter for a while to wait out the storm with a cup of hot coffee at McDonalds in Estes Park. ;)

So... I sat there till it passed... almost...

When I climbed back on the bike and headed down the Big Thompson Canyon... it jumped out from where it was hiding behind the mountain and said gotcha! with big rattling rain drops... that had me grinning one more time.

Now... maybe in the next few days I've got a 1200 mile... maybe three day run penciled out. If Murphy don't find out and gum up the works...

When I get back from that... there Should Be... some Sweet Hard Chrome exhaust pipes waiting to customize the bike... which will also provide the room needed to mount some Tsukayu Hard bags that should be arriving shortly after...

All to improve the bike... for splittin' the wind a lot farther and longer...

It is my intention to push Several good long rides into my yondering over the next couple of years.

I refuse to let age and poverty stand in the way of Living! :)

Don't Sweat the Rain... It's only a lil' water