Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Piece of the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach

Sure, I only went to the Friday evening glimpse and missed the all-day weekend affair, but the show's attraction nowadays for me are the bikes.  The classes don't sing to me; the attempt at reaching a female audience is gone.  I was in good company Friday, so what more can you ask for?  I call this a piece because a journalist and avid photographer I am not.  There's much to be desired in my photos, lots of bikes missed, but hopefully enough to be mildly entertained.

The vintage section is always an attraction for me.  Local enthusiasts lend their bikes to the show and idle nearby to chat you up happily about their machines.  For example, this enthusiast lets his wife travel in a style more plush than I've ever witnessed before on a bike.  Imagine what this sidecar could carry in Vietnam?  The possibilities are endless if you've been to any number of motorcycle-riding Asian countries or have seen the motorbike photos in "Beasts of Burden."

And then there's a collection of Honda's I'd love to have, minus the 80's models.  There's just something about the 80's that was terrible to cars, motorcycles, and interior design.  I just can't find anything in my heart to love about it.

Despite being a product of the 80's, did you take a look at this engine???!?!  Jee-zus.

And of course the bike build sections.  The first one below here had a lot of work put into it.  I'll politely leave it at that.

Of course like the stereotypical woman who's attracted to all things flashy, this one caught my eye.  I've never met an exposed metal surface on a bike I didn't like (chrome doesn't count).  The peep show windows into the inner workings of the bike were interesting touches, but I think the exhaust is distracting to the design as a whole.

A shrunken head suicide shifter makes this bike twice as difficult for the average cyclist to ride.  If you knew how to use a suicide shifter, you're already in the minority; but, to want to palm a shrunken head in the process?  To each his own.

The revamped 2013 Honda CB1100 doesn't quite do much for me.  It's got 80's styling on the tank and wheels, and if it was aiming to mimic the latest cafe trend or vintage CB750 styling, it falls short.  I don't think hipsters would appreciate the styling or the $10,000 price tag.  Maybe a more vintage vein in the styling category and an engine in the $7,500 price range would be a better fit.  Time will tell.

Thankfully it's called a Goldwing F6B and not just F6B.  The name is a bit odd.  I am not much of a cruiser type and don't understand this bike much, so I cannot appreciate luxury in a bike like the 50-something male.  But in jest, I can make jokes like 'look at the backyard on this one...' and get a laugh out of a bike with an actual keyed entry to a trunk.  A trunk.  I'll stick to my iPod and panniers, thanks, but if you want everything but the kitchen sink (Blu-Ray player and nav), this enormous bike is for you.

What wasn't photographed....Harley's extensive revamp of their bikes and pretty obvious attempt to cast a wide net for a greater audience after being punished in the market for the past couple years.  Hipsters, ladies, "cafe" guys, older men all waiting in the wings to talk to you about owning a Harley.  What they should have offered instead of a yearlong membership in their rider's club was their riding class.  Maybe that is included and not advertised, but buying a $12,000+ bike as your first ride leads to its challenges and disappointments.

BMW's revision to the F650GS and its replacement, the F700GS, was interesting.  I love my blue Beemie and wouldn't rush out just yet to replace her.  If I did, it would probably be the F800GS.  Interesting changes to the F700GS that caught my eye were the hand controls on the bars.  Completely revised = good.  Overly simplistic looking = meh.  I myself wonder if I can hit the horn in time if I need it due to its strange placement on the controls.  The kill switch on the turn indicators was also something I've complained about.  Well, my prayers were answered with the redesign, just not fashionably so.  A single toggle switch operates both turn indicators and the off button.  The controls seem to have the ease of my old 200cc Honda back in the day.  I like it, and because I love the bike so much, don't mind function over form in this case.  Minor annoyance for me.  Haven't ridden one, but maybe on my next visit to Irv, I'll test it out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Random Motorcycle Tidbits

Again the motorcycle show is upon us and again the ladies will be left disappointed, wondering where their representation went this year...aside from the faux Barbie-esque types astride motorcycles to capture the weak eyes of man.  I will endeavor to photograph, post, and comment.  My posts have been enormously lax, lots of things going on I cannot yet discuss.  But, in the interim before the show pops back up, please enjoy Nicole Espinosa's recap of the 2010 show here and catch me at 18:21 talk much ado about nothing and bikes.

About a year ago, my British travel partner through Brazil and Venezuela, Ted Hely, wrote an article for Adventure Bike Rider magazine called "Reign Forest."  I can't reproduce the article in its entirety, but I can tell you it's in Issue 5 in 2011.  I did however snip the most interesting parts just for your viewing pleasure.  It happens to be grand coincidence that these parts include me, nothing more ;)  Honestly though, there's nothing funnier than a Liverpool bike mechanic travelling with a Californian bike noob (me), especially when you reach the part where he calls me a "beach babe."  If you visit the Adventure Bike Rider website, I'm sure you can buy a back edition if you'd like.  My hard copy never materialized from the UK.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Progressive Suspension's High Performance Adventure Suspension - Don't leave home without it!

Following the install of the PS 465 Series Shock on my F650GS, I made my first trip in dirt in the Cleveland National Forest a couple months back.  I'll post where the print ads will be as they appear in the next couple months...but check out their Facebook page for my smiling mug and read about the fancy pants shock they installed on my bike.  Definitely a smoother ride for me with the updated shock and fork springs, considering my weight barely registered on the stock setup.  Ride More turned out to be more like Eat More until Progressive set me up. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Five years ago, I embarked on a journey that would change my life for the better.  I left with an M1 license, a helmet, and a jacket, bound for Ecuador and determined to ride a motorcycle around South America.  Mission accomplished.  What I never realized was that in the process of planning and along the way, I would meet at random (or was it?) the most amazing, friendly, compassionate, talented people that left you feeling warm and fuzzy for a variety of reasons.  Even in the aftermath of my journey, these connections have spurred new ones and continue to bring me joy...all from one journey of faith, of a desire to see more of the world than my immediate surroundings, and to do it all my way.  I guess I never really did talk much about those people.  

Glen wrote a book, which I read before I left California.  Through the power of the internet, I was able to hunt him down, email him, and he was nice enough to respond to me and give me the guidance I needed and provide valuable connections down south.  After I returned, we met in person at an ADVrider event coinciding with the International Motorcycle Show.  I am blessed to call him a friend.  He would hate me calling him wise, but I have a feeling he gets that a lot, being the sort of old soul he is and mentor to many riders and people in general.  Glen continues to be an international man of mystery; you never know where he's going to pop up next.

While posting my travels on ADVrider (a motorcycling forum), a Detroit native chatted me up as he was planning a trip on his overloaded KTM through Central America.  From those forum chats, I met a friend of his in Cordoba, after my journey was complete met his fiancee (whom he met on his motorcycle trip), was a witness to their wedding, and am now a godmother to the most beautiful girl on the planet.  Josh and Andi are two of the most impulsive people I know and no matter how often I scratch my in amazement as to how it all works out in the end, it just does.  They have a beautiful partnership that I envy and an unparalleled sense of wanderlust.  The privilege of being a godmother is awesome albeit being 10,000+ miles away means I chart growth in terms of feet and advancement in vocabulary. She already speaks more languages than I do.

While gallivanting in Buenos Aires, I decided to leave the bike and take a little backpacking trip to Uruguay. In a bus stop at the border waiting to head to Montevideo, I met Madame V.  I thought she was a French tourist and had mixed feelings about that, but she opened up into English and onward our conversation went all the way to the hotel we stayed for a night in Montevideo before both going our separate ways. Little did I know that brief chance meeting would lead me to a friendship I hold dear five years later.  It's hard to classify Madame V as one thing as she falls under several categories: friend, my forever cheerleader, favorite aunt, mentor, and one of the most intelligent people I know.  She continues to teach me so much about life and by example has shown me how to handle life's abundant experiences with grace, humility, and appreciation.  She enjoys her retirement outside of the US, dabbling in projects here and there, but every couple of years she sweeps through California with the gale force winds of a hurricane and I stumble along trying to keep up.  I love her dearly.

Upon recommendation, I stayed at a hostel run by an American expat, who also happened to be a biker, in Medellin, Colombia.  That detail isn't as important as the man I met at the hostel, a freelance editor hiding behind an Apple laptop, which allowed him the freedom to live wherever his heart desired.  We were about the same age, and coincidentally raised about 10 miles apart back in California.  I stayed in touch with Jeff after I left Colombia, and often when he came to visit, he looked me up.  Since then, he has developed his writing/editing talents into running/editing a local magazine in Medellin.  Music, his passion that seemingly took a back seat to his main source of income at the time we met, quickly evolved into something much more significant when he started a radio station, which through the glory of the internet has become a launch pad for local bands to reach audiences well beyond their hometown and something of a Colombian version of KCRW (sans lowtalking and subscription drives). A man of many talents, he never sits still and just recently along with the band Explosion Negra, wrote the soundtrack to a musical and will be touring the East Coast shortly.

And the snowball effect...

From that first meeting with Glen, I met beautiful Nicole, who effervesces a contagious optimism and a gorgeous smile. And from reconnecting with Jeff in California, I have since had the pleasure of knowing many of his friends who live as close as five miles from me (Coach, Leigh, and Corin come to mind).  

I continue to be amazed by the chance meetings and friendships that have evolved as a result of an impulsive decision to step outside of my comfort zone and take a chance.  I am so very blessed and fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life and am in awe at how different my life has become as a result of that single journey.  Most people just revel in the fact that I didn't crash or die.  Now they can appreciate a different perspective.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I'm back!!

...and blue'r than ever!  It took me a year of longing to ride a motorcycle and lusting after pretty much everything, but in March I finally negotiated my way back into my first love's life....I bought the boss' BMW. Even though I've had it for a couple months, the title was a bit messy at first and I didn't ride it much until that was squared away. Last month, I loaned the bike to Progressive Suspension where it was bedazzled with new suspension and springs. My first visit over there to the La Palma shop consisted of begging Dave to help me with my overly bumpy ride.  I may be able to do basic maintenance, but I'm totally lost on comprehending suspension, pre-loading, and wah wah wah. The F650GS is a great great great ride but it's not really catered to women in the weight category.  My 130 pounds doesn't cut it with the spring's range, which is probably closer to 160 pounds.  My options were a new spring with a lower rider weight range or 30 pounds of Twinkies...deep-fried for extra weight gain.  Turns out I needed neither and simply good friends in all places.  I just got her back last week and need to clean/lube the chain, change the oil/filter, and change the rear brake fluid.  Come next weekend, I'll be ready to hit pavement again.  Next stop, better gear and boxes.

Oh, and the itch is coming back...

In my spare time, check out my other hobby which I could wax on for hours on end as well: gardening.  Why waste my time with flowers when I can plant something that will give ME! It's all about eating. I'll keep it to a minimum since I'm probably the only one out there with these two extremely opposite hobbies, but....I'm weird.  I'll celebrate it when necessary.