Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wanna learn to ride??

I am new to riding.  I didn't finally realize a lifelong dream of owning/riding a bike.  I didn't grow up in a family of bikers.  I didn't see a motorcycle on the road and think 'I want to do that!' It was just a musing one day.  An idea that I put on my "List of Things to Do Before I Die" list.  (yes, really.)  One of those thoughts that crop up while doing taxes or grading papers or some other tedious task you mentally escape with the bizarre: "What would happen if I was being chased by some evil minion, crazed lunatic, rapist, or Avon lady, and my only escape was on a motorcycle?"  I would seem less 'she's-one-fry-short-of-a-Happy-Meal' if I said I was looking for something more economically sound given the rising price of gas, but, really, I needed to be able to escape some knife-wielding stalker in a dark alley when I had left my Glock in my other pants.

Whether you have sane or not-so-sane reasons (clearly I'm not one to judge), I highly recommend the Motorcycle Safety Foundations Basic Rider's Course.  In Maryland, and many other states, once you pass their course you can go directly to the MVA to get your endorsement.  No learner's permit or waiting period.  No need to be followed around because you have to have a licensed rider near you at all times.  You're done!  And, instead of trying to figure things out the hard way, you get a well thought out and very supportive program to get you on your way to responsible riding.  Some states now require you to take a course before being allowed to get your endorsement.

The class I took was in Florida, but Maryland wouldn't accept my certificate for another state so I ended up doing both MSF and MVA (#@%^!), but the classes are basically the same everywhere.  5 or 6 hours of classroom work which reviews the materials you were given for homework and then 2 half days on a bike trying not to fall over.  (Ok, if you fall over it's really ok unless it's during testing, um, or if you hurt yourself - that would be bad.)  I kinda wished I'd fallen while I was on one of their bikes, just to get over the fear of it, but, hey!  I managed to keep the rubber side down.  Maryland apparently supplements the MSF materials with their own info...

ANYWAY, while it lacks actual riding on the road, it was a great class.  Absolutely amazing teachers, a pretty well thought out progression of skills, and a lot of basic stuff that you don't have to learn through the School of Hard Knocks.  You don't need to own a bike or a helmet, they will supply those.  You need shoes that cover your ankles, long sleeve shirt and long pants and you're good to go!

There are other places to learn to ride, too, but this is the only one I have first hand knowledge of.  Search online for other options, but if you're curious, pick one and definitely give it a shot!

All this reminiscing about the MSF course because Jenny is taking her class this weekend. I'm so excited for her and I have no doubt that she'll do fabulously.  Break a leg, Jenny!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Leather for bikers

A couple weeks ago a couple of friends and I went riding off just to ride off and ended up in Eldersburg, Maryland at a shop called In Step Leather. I grabbed a business card while I was there, but I went online hoping (ok, expecting) to find a web page where I could get a refresher on styles and compare prices on what I liked, but I couldn't even find them in any of 3 or 4 yellow page sites I tried. What DID come up was a myspace page. Not particularly easy to read, BUT they have a slideshow on the front page with great pictures of parts of the store, so you can get a pretty good idea of the selection that they have.  See their page.

I've been a *tad* over-busy lately, but am looking for an excuse to escape to go back and try some jackets on. They had lots of jackets that looked really familiar, so I'm not sure who makes what, but the tag in all the jackets that I saw said 'In Step'. I was tickled to see that there are even two storefronts!

It's going to be cool tomorrow (well, I think 68 is bordering on cold, but I'm usually outnumbered on that) and I'm planning on riding, so maybe tomorrow during lunch...

In Step Leather
1) 7540 Washington Blvd.
US 1 Shopping Center in Elkridge, MD
Hours:10:00am-7:00pm Mon-Fri
9:00am-5:00pm Sat&Sun

2) 1532 Liberty Rd.
Liberty Station in Eldersburg, MD
Hours:10:00am-7:00pm Mon-Fri
10:00am-6:00pm Sat
10:00am-5:00pm Sun

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's about time!

I have been looking for a clock for my bike for weeks now. I grabbed a $1 store watch one day during lunch after being late for work, but that didn't function when I took it out of the package. Yes, I know I should have known. Thanks. I went to *dun dun duhhhhn* the mall and checked out those big stores and the little stores and that got me nowhere. I left the 'maul' before my head exploded and jumped on the internet.

I was dismayed that anything I found online was at least $40 - and that was definitely low end. I saw clock/thermometers while I was looking around, which I got interested in, but those were even more expensive. I am one to lose/break sunglasses, watches, etc. within days of purchase, so I just wanted something inexpenseve to test out first. Once I got over that it was going to be $40 or more for a decent motorcycle clock, I started looking again.

I had found and they seemed pleasant and guarantee their clocks for 3 years 'even if you lose it'. I was quite ready to get serious about picking one of those. This aluminum stick-on one is only $25 and would have gotten the job done. They are certainly worth checking out!

There are many other options if you want to glow in the dark or to light up when you press a button. Some have thermometers, others have compasses, some clamp on to your handlebars and some stick on a flat surface or fit on your stem nut. (Tsk. What are you thinking..?)

Do an online search or check these out:

Here are reviews of some clocks with additional links to other clock sites:

However, I had just gotten the latest Rider Wearhouse Catalog and I saw...well, I saw all kinds of cool stuff, but there was a MotoFizz Thermo Clock for $22! Ok, so it's a square stick-on that's much more utilitarian than glamorous, but had the clock and temp in one and was very inexpensive . It even has a 16 max/min memories if you want it.

I jumped on the website and, just for the heck of it, did a search for clocks. Lo and Behold! They have all kinds of things not in the catalog. This little stick-on would look fantastic on my bike...but now I want a thermometer, too.

So, now I have to decide whether I want a seperate thermometer or what? Oy. Too many decisions, but I'm fairly confident that Aerostitch has a great representation of what I was interested in everywhere else. Plus tons of fun things I'm drooling over already. I'm sure that shipping will be cheaper if I buy *several* things...

Where's my wallet?...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Leather Weather

whew! Say *that* 10 times fast...

Well, It's September in Maryland and that means about 5 days of Fall-like weather before the temperatures drop to snow-conducive levels. I had an early job today and, when I'm planning to ride, I give myself an extra half hour to get out in one piece. I woke up tired and grouchy. And, while that isn't unusual in itself, that I considered not bothering with all the prep to ride the bike was. I waffled a bit as I packed up my gear bag, but the weather's changing and my riding time is limited...

Instead of trying to zip my mesh jacket up over a long sleeve shirt, a sweater and 3 inches of scarf tail left after immobilizing my neck, I wore my leather jacket and chaps. It was a lovely ride. That early I'd rather still be in bed, but with so many other folks not yet on the road, my ride was that much better.

The leather jacket is an improvement over the mesh jacket, but it isn't a bike jacket, so the sleeves don't cinch up at the wrists. And my gloves, well, they aren't bike gloves, so they don't go over the jacket sleeves. It wasn't uncomfortably cool, even for me, who has been told by friends and family that I will be the only person they know to be happy about hot flashes. But the cool air filling my jacket sleeves reminded me that Indian Summers are past us. With Winter looming and my dislike for the cold unchanged, my eye has turned to next season. While I squeek out as many more days as I can in 2008 I plan an Iron Butt Ride for 2009.

I had no idea that there were so many options when I started seeing comments about people's 'iron butt rides' or 'iron butt rallies' in books, blogs and magazines, but there is a veritable plethora of choices! ("Jefe, do you know what is a plethora?" *name that movie*)

I have already recruited my partner. (sucker!) AM is a fabulous Canadian adventurer who, if we were doing a multi-day trip, would suggest that after numbing out our buns for 10 or 12 hours on the bikes that we camp rather than find a comfy hotel with soft beds and warm showers.

I didn't think that I'd yet put 1000 miles on my bike since I got it, but doing the math it turns out that, even with 6 weeks in the shop, since May I've put 2500 miles in! And that doesn't include the time on the Mean Streak I borrowed while mine was laid up. Of course, that wasn't in less than 24 hours...

The shortest of the Iron Butt Rides is the Saddle Sore 1000. Then there's the Bun Burner 1500.
Those miles must be completed in less than 24 and 36 hours respectively. I don't know which one I can talk AM into, but since I've had a license for all of 5 months and my longest trips have been 2 hours or so, I think I have some saddle time to put in, whichever one we decide. Though, thinking about it, sitting in front of the computer in a non-ergonomic chair for hours a day, I may be better prepared for this than I thought.

Well, I'm going to check out to check out some more distances. And then I'll probably go shopping for some warmer gloves and see how much more time in the saddle I can buy!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Go. Do. Be...

"Go. Do. Be..."  I figure for the title of a blog... well, not any blog, but *my* blog... that's a fine and all-encompassing title.  While I'm particularly antsy to write about motorcycling at the moment, Fall is soon to set in and then I'll just be whining about not being able to ride, and that's only fun to read for so long.  Gifted with a short attention span, it's very likely that I'll see something shiny somewhere else and want to write about *that* or muse about why my dog likes to eat cat poo, but it wouldn't make sense on a blog I've called 'Life on Two Wheels' or something similar where the reader has a reasonable expectation to see something about motoring around town.  No, "Go. Do. Be..." suits me quite well, I think.  And, now that I've settled on the punctuation, it's way past my bedtime. 

Until next time!