Friday, February 29, 2008

"There are two kinds of motorcycle riders..."

"...those who have wrecked their bikes, and those who are going to wreck their bikes.", some unattributable quote that Robby shared with me last night.

Thursday was a pretty good day to ride, and I had the opportunity for a fairly decent ride from Austin up to Lampasas via State Hwy 183. Clear weather, bone dry roads, but there was maybe a little challenge presented by the 20-30mph gusts that showed up as crosswinds going to Lampasas and as headwinds for the last stretch coming in toward Leander.

Was that a deer in the road? Standing on the stripe? I couldn't tell, but I knew I needed to get to the outside of the curve, rather than the inside which is typical. To do so, I had to loose speed, and quickly. Training said to straighten the bike and brake evenly. I did that. I had even more incentive because I could see the fine haze of limestone dust on the pavement. No hope of 'cheating' on the brakes a bit through the turn. I just had to use all the braking available, in a straight line, and hope for space to come to a controlled stop. Turns out, that wasn't going to happen.

I have three images in my mind: seeing the road curve away from me to the left and seeing a wide shoulder with large rocks and limestone dust all over everything, watching the bike slide out from underneath me and going down on its left side, and then me flying "Superman-style" over the right side of the bike. Then I felt my helmeted face land first and bounce, then my body sliding to a stop - face down. No stars, no blacking out; just thoughts of frustration that I'd surely dinged-up the bike pretty darn good.

I stood up, brushed off a bit, and then turned to my right and looked down at the bike. She was still running, and for some reason the engine was racing. That didn't make any sense to me because she was laying on her left side, and the throttle is way up in the air on the right handle. I couldn't tell if the rear wheel was still spinning, but instead of just killing the engine with the switch, I tried to 'clear' the throttle with a quick twist. No effect. Weird - so I killed the engine with the switch.

It was all really quiet. The headlamp continued to burn and I could see the limestone dust blowing in front of the bike. I lifted my visor to adjust my eyeglasses which had shifted a good bit due to the face-first impact. That's when I noticed the blood on my gloves. Not a lot, but not a little, either. No pain. Nothing felt broken or numb, either. It was from near my nose is all I could tell. Didn't seem serious. Now, about the bike. This is a heavy bike, but adrenaline and I picked her up and set her on her stand. A few cars had passed by, but none stopped. I guess the fact that I was up and moving around indicated that I wasn't toast.

The left side of the tank was hammered, handlebars not too bad, but mirror bent back pretty far. The left footpeg was jammed in the upright position, but I was able to wrestle it back down. The shifting rod/shaft sheared off flush with the crankcase. That means they will have to go inside the crank case to fix this. Not simple, I'm guessing. So, whatever gear I was in at the time (3rd or 4th, I can't recall) was what I was going to have to use to get the bike out of there. Fortunately, the clutch was perfectly fine.

So, after making sure that nothing serious was messed-up with ME, I got back on the bike, held in the clutch and started her up. She started just as if we'd stopped to get gas. Not a problem.
I rode the clutch and got her back on the road. I just moseyed along at about 35mph and decided to ride to the shop, rather than ride to the house. The bike was clearly going to need to go to the shop.

I pulled in to the shop, parked and started to take my gear off. I fully-expected to just park the bike, lock it, call a cab, and come back this morning to talk things over with the guys there. "Hey man, are you ok?" someone called out from behind me. It was Nick, one of the mechanics at the shop. Good grief, the place was dark. I had no clue anyone was there. Turns out that they were sitting in the shop shooting the breeze; Nick, his girlfriend, and several of the folks from the dealership. They took me in and looked me over like one of their brothers.

Nick's girlfriend is a nurse, and she sat me down and checked me out real good. No concussion, no lacerations other than a slight cut on the bridge of my nose from my eyeglass frame digging in a bit. They offered to take me home, but it was going to be a long drive for any of them, so we just called a cab.

After that, I cleaned up a bit, and headed back out - in my car, to finish an important errand last night. Then I drove back to get sleep, and I slept in a bit. Kinda melancholy about the bike. "We can rebuild her..." hehehe

The bike will take some work to get back in to shape, but she's in much better shape than she could have been. I'm perfectly fine, not even any bruises. Just a little sore in my neck and upper left arm. Nothing Advil isn't taking care of.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't thank all of my good buds on Twitter. Y'all are great, and thanks so much for checking in on me last night.

These things happen soooo quickly. We've see life end (@AshPEAmama), and take drastic turns (@laniAR) so suddenly. I surely didn't expect to dive over my bike last night. You've heard it before, so just do it. Hug those dear to you every chance you get.

-- Mike

Thursday, February 21, 2008

oh, and one more thing

What a day. I've been using telecommuting to the max lately. There are plenty of reasons why, but it just amazes me how technology enables things that are just nuts. Like this morning, I'd managed to take a 90-minute conference call that was dialed-in to my office phone, which immediately forwards to my mobile. Yeah, that was me, on the floor in my room, with the laptop running and six e-mails in progress. USB-charging the Treo and mini-USB charging the bluetooth headset just prior to the call.

So there I am, checking up on one last Twitter before I head out the door for some lunch, and here's this from @newmediajim...

I'm streaming live right now, come chat! Bob Geldoff on the way! standby for Qik!
Sure, why not? Jim's in Africa with the President of the United States, and I've got not much more to look forward to than a BBQ sandwich and a Diet Pepsi, so hey, I'll see what this Geldof chap has going on. Jim's always talking to interesting people.

Africa can't heal itself or sustain itself until the despots are gone. Rolling tanks? Naah, you have to convince the people that they can lead and protect themselves, but they've lived under the shadow of death for generations. They need know that someone will rescue them, and then hold their new leaders accountable. Geldoff gets this.

Check out his answer to my question during this interview.

That was just wild. I was blown away that Jim would snag my question out of the chat box, and even more blown away that Geldof spent about four minutes answering it!

Geldof was interesting, and I could have listened to him rap on that topic for an hour. He didn't sound like a typical naive Glamor Shot do-gooder with a Sir (although he's not officially a "Sir") title and your donation money to spend 'feeding the poor'. He seemed like he was indeed searching for a solid plan in the midst of a crazy world - ours. One where the culture of corruption and greed still rules over so many. No, not corporate corruption and greed, but Warlord corruption and greed.

New media, people. It happens quickly, it's real, and it's hard to keep up with. But dang, it's so cool.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I Ride

I have wanted to make a post on this topic for a long time. Problem is, I haven't figured out the right words to complete it. Mid-life crisis? Sure, that's an easy answer. You can tag me with that one if you want. I won't stop you. As if I could. No, it's more than that.

"Lady Thunder" as my friend Duane calls her, is a mechanical work of art. She should be under a cover, meticulously cared for and kept in pristine display condition. But she was built to cruise. Those 1507CCs really should do what they were built to do.

She's gentle on the acceleration, but doesn't flinch when taking on Tumbleweed Hill, nor FM 620 at Mansfield Dam. She gallops at idle, and hammers steady at cruise. With my earplugs in and SNELL-approved helmet on my head, her thunder is muffled, but still oh-so-solid. (Trust me, no ear plugs, and the ears ring - a lot).

I love feeling the curve of the earth under the wheels. The challenge of gauging the entry in to each and every turn. Noticing things that I'd never noticed before about pavement, road conditions, wind, humidity, temperature changes just crossing Austin, practicing constant speed while holding a line just off the tire tread of the four-or-more wheelers, and so much more. :) Oh, and then there's the view. More on that another time.

I can't help but say, to no one else but me, "I love this bike."

And no, she's not for sale.