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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Putting the scooter to work in the New Year.

Over the last four years or so I have been self employed in addition to my normal everyday job; where I work for 3M in their GPS division.  I don't make a lot of money being self employed, in fact I wonder if I make any money sometimes but it keeps me out of trouble and I enjoy it.   I deliver various publications to various locations two days out of the week.  Mileage and gas are my biggest expenses.

Like everyone, I want to stretch that dollar.  The question is how to put my scooter to work for me.  Storage was important to me, and was a major decision in my purchase.  I have enough room for my lunch, a sweater if needed on the ride home from work, a laptop, a book, etc.

Scooters and motorcycles are used the world over for deliveries and commuting.  As such I've been wondering how to put the scooter to work for me.  I've already used it a few times to run errands to the store.  Or if somehow we missed a store I would jump on the bike to run the missing publications to that location.  It's one thing to do 1 or two stores.  Another to do 50 or 60.

Economicly it makes sense.  My car gets about 25 miles per gallon, the Burgman gets a little over twice that.  Generally speaking the route that I'm considering running the bike on is about 40 miles long, barely over a half gallon of gas.  Parking is easier as well as often I would be able to pull right up to the door, grab what I need and then run in and out in a matter of moments.

The biggest disadvantage would be stopping, opening the storage under the seat and  carrying the older papers to a location that I can dispose of them.  Nor I am sure that I could carry the full amount of publications I need.  Luckily the way I have configured the route, I will pass the "Hub" about a third of the way through the route so I could stop again if needed.

The question of stopping and starting is also a concern.  My job is largly "drop and go" which is exactly like it sounds.  How much time will be added to the route by my stopping, getting off the bike, opening the storage department, getting the papers I need and then doing the delivery, throwing out the older publications and then back onto the bike?

Only one way to find out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Personal milestones

It really is not a big deal, not worthy of celebration or a press release.  However I'm happy with myself, so I'm putting on my party hat.

When I first bought my 07 Suzuki Burgman it had a little under 6600 miles on it.  The previous owner had taken 4 years to place that many miles on it.   Yesterday I doubled that figure in just a few months.  That tells me I'm riding the bike nearly every day which was my goal.

On my next day off I'll be doing my second oil change, the first I'll do without assistance.  Considering I'm not mechanical in the least, this is a milestone for me.

I am to a point financially where I can start making improvements to my bike, things like the GIVI windshield and the much talked about but yet to be purchased seat to prevent the deadly numb butt.  My bike needs a little bit of cosmetic work and I've found a few painters that are willing to fix it for me.  The price is yet to be determined but again, it's something I'm willing and needing to do.

I'm still not to a point to where I feel I can handle the interstate's - I do not mind traveling at highway speeds but don't feel comfortable traveling on the interstates yet, but I do feel that I can handle longer rides now.  One hundred or more miles is not as daunting as it once was.  The point is, every mile under the bikes tires makes me a little more confident and secure in my ability.  I'm feeling it's time to stretch out and do more with the bike than just commute.  It's time to go somewhere.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Random roads and thoughts

I have been wanting to do a "joy ride" for a while now.  I've not had much opportunity to ride over the last two weeks or so other than to work which in its own right is a nice ride; but I've had the itch to ride different roads.  Every day I ride the same route, more or less, and I have been needing to explore some quiet backwater places.

So today I did a little under 100 miles (93.8 to be exact) on a nice sunny day with not enough twists and turns to satisfy me, but enough to keep me interest.   Somehow I managed to get completely lost as well...since every road leads somewhere and I was  thoroughly enjoying my ride I didn't worry about it.  I don't have much chance to simply do a purely recreational ride anyhow.

I work second shift, my job can be 24/7 and on top of that I have another job that I work two days a week and takes anywhere from three to eight hours to complete.  In other words, I work a lot.    Since my girlfriend is unable to work, we spend our mornings together.  Riding 2-up with her is just not possible right now.  She feels that I need a more experience before she climbs on the back of the bike with me.  I know she is right.

All this limits the time I get for recreational riding and frankly since the untimely death of Gary B - I've no one to ride with.  That may change in the future but for now I'm a solo rider.  Riding with a friend is safer and in my opinion a hell of a lot more fun.  Not that solo riding isn't fun.  I've found a little 3 mile long stretch of road near where I work that has 15...yes, 15...wonderful twists, turns and bends.  Everything from sharp abrupt corners to a few sweeping rights and lefts.  If I get to work early enough I can be found riding that road.

One of the joys about about getting lost, I had originally planned on a 50 mile ride following a predetermined route, is finding the unexpected.  Even though I live in West Central Florida I just happen to live in Kumquat country.  A nearby town even has a kumquat festival.  I found the packing plant and a Kumquat specialty shop.  Sadly none of my pictures really came out well.

From Florida Estates Winery
I drove up the road some, finally finding a route I recognized and a little winery right down the road some.  Now having been known to indulge now and again in the fruit of the vine I stopped.  Sadly I was riding so could not sample to many but what I did try was sadly lacking.  If your interested in Florida wines I highly recommend Fiorelli Winery.  Somehow however I ended up with a bottle.

But I digress.

I've only had the Burgi for a few months and am enjoying the ride a hell of a lot more than I would have ever of guessed.  When I first considered getting a bike it was for commuting purposes only, now here I am taking 100 mile joy rides.

Givi airflow AF266 for the Burgie!
There are a few things I wish I had though - the fact that I have a AeroStitch catalog has nothing to do with it (eye roll).  The plastic on the bike needs repaired and although scars might tell a story...they shouldn't be on a bike.  My stock windshield was really designed for a person much shorter than me.  I'm 6' foot tall and 200 pounds.  Not really heavy but big enough, and the wind comes right over the windshield and catches me in the upper chest and head.  I would love to have to have a Givi Airflow windshield and a top case to go with it.  Okay, I really don't need the top case but hey, it looks cool and a little bit of extra storage never hurts.  Particularly since I hope to take those longer and longer rides.  A backrest would be nice too.

My birthday is in April.   Checks can be sent to..........

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crash Detection and Response - there is an app for that.

Doug over at 40 years on 2 wheels posted this.  I'm passing on the gist of the idea because I think it's a pretty cool idea and it's free.

If you have an Android driven smartphone you can sign up for a free app called CRADER.  It's from a company called ActionXL.    The application uses your smart phone's motion sensor to sense a jarring movement, so in case of a crash, the app sends a text message complete with GPS coordinates to whatever phone number you've specified.  So your friends, family and one would hope, emergency services would be instantly notified.  If your riding alone in a rural or remote areas, CRADAR provides a degree of security you might otherwise not have.

I suppose it could be used in other ways as well.  The app is free and can be found in the app marketplace.

Special thanks to Doug's wonderful blog for bringing this to my attention.  I hope he don't mind that I stole his blog post.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cold weather challenge

**For information about preparing for riding in cold weather please go here.**

I live in Florida.   Land of Sunshine.  Orange groves that stretch on forever and a day, home of the mighty Kumquat.   At our most southern point we are only 90 miles from Cuba.  In theory it should be warm.

Original photo by Ryan Robinson.
Every year the grey and blue tufted snowbirds come from the north to escape the cold weather and miserable white stuff that is considered a four letter word by your friendly author.  Now sadly due to several reasons I've not been able to ride as much as I would have liked over the last two weeks or so.

When I've been able to ride, it's been a bit...well shall we say freaking cold.  Over the last few days the temperatures have varied from in the mid 50's to as low at 19 degrees.  It's put me into an interesting position and something I never really considered.  Riding in the cold.

It's easy to forget that we do have cold snaps here.  I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and still don't consider anything below 40 degrees or so "cold" but I also lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for about ten years or so, so I know my blood will eventually "thin out" and what was once "cool" will become cold.  Then  freezing and finally freaking cold.

Yes, you actually see this in Florida.
Luckily this cold snap only lasted a few days.  Still though it was long enough to see the natives break out the parka's to go along with their flip flops.

So I did what all geeks do.  I turned to the internet for research, reading that it's not so much the cold that will get me as the wind chill.  That made perfect sense considering I'm buzzing down the road open and exposed to the elements.  About warming my hands on the headlights, which is a little tough to do due to the design of the Burgie.   About how to protect my exposed skin from the wind.

I ended up taking my car in most of those cold days.  I felt more than a little embarrassed by doing so, after all I am planning on letting my bike replace my car. In fact, one of the reasons I settled on the Burgman was because it was designed for commuting and touring.  In my mind at least that means riding it every day to work and to the store no matter what the weather.  Cold and rain be damned!

Actual reading at 8:45 AM one morning.
OK, maybe I'm being a bit to hard on myself.  In the end it's all about safety for me and although it was unlikely to deal with ice on the road it was a possibility, and yes the temperature was low enough in some areas to allow it to happen.  I have to be at work in business attire most days, do I really want to drag sweaters and long underwear to work?  Do I really want to change in the bathroom just to drive the bike home on a 32 degree day?

The day will come where I will have to deal with cold weather.  Understanding and preparing for it just makes sense.

EDITED:  A nice little chart dealing with wind chills and ambient air temperatures. Something to consider when you ride brought to by the nice people over at Keep the Rubber Side Down blog.  What's interesting is that 10 additional miles of speed does not really effect the "cold" your feeling that much.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

End of the year mileage.

One of the early readings in August
I was hoping to put at least as many miles as my bike originally had; which as 6,600 miles.   At the end of the year I had 12,295.  Grand total = 5695 miles.   Or just about 1400 miles a month.

I'm getting there.