Monday, February 27, 2012

Pinterest & Turn Signals

Obliquely motorcycle-related, I've been pinning things I find interesting on Pinterest for a while now. It began as fascination with this new webservice that Sarah was using to help collect and organize wedding links and inspiration. Well I don't use it for that, and my interests are in the gross minority of what most users choose to pin, but I've found it to be a handy and flexible service. I use it as a newsfeed of images of things I'm interested in and populate my own boards like a scrapbook of images (and their corresponding links) for my projects and interests. The first was to visually organize all the links and styles of women's motorcycle jackets I've come across in my quest to find the perfect riding jacket for Sarah. Familiarity with the service lead to organizing boards for cool motorcycle and cabin architecture images out there.

I like turn signals. For turning, for lane changes, it's good to telegraph your intentions to pedestrians and other motorists. Unfortunately, signalling is not so common here in Texas, especially around the base.  I have choice words for certain people almost every time I take the car out. A certain blue cobalt very nearly hit me earlier because it failed to signal earlier today. My feelings as expressed by Shoot 'Em Up (caution: swears)

Monday, February 20, 2012

MSF BRC & cruising the neighborhood

No Motorcycle Monday last week; I was getting really frustrated with my Army rider's course registry getting lost in the sauce. When another two days of ostensibly normal work at the Company went by with no news about placing me in a class, I signed up for Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Rider Course at the Killeen Yamaha dealership scheduled for the following weekend.

The first session was Friday night in a classroom. Videos and workbooks on motorcycle basics with 3 other students and one instructor. The handbook we used is available online, but I guess you'd need permission to print it. Nothing I hadn't already seen from the Texas motorcycle safety booklet and other sources online, but it was good to go through it all incrementally with a knowledgeable instructor. I was the only student there who had never rode before; two of the guys actually rode to class on their 80s-era Honda NightHawks.

We resumed class dark and early Saturday morning in a parking lot by the Killeen Community Theatre with rain joining us just as we mounted the bikes. I had the pleasure of riding a Yamaha XT225 enduro bike. As a training bike, it had been dropped quite a few times, but overall ran well and was more comfortable than it looked.

Photo from
Saturday was spent almost entirely in the rain beginning with basic balance drills, up into gas-to-clutch exercises and cornering. My army-issue rainsuit performed admirably, but my Doc Martens were quickly soaked through.

Sunday brought cold, but clear weather and we moved up to shifting exercises and swerving and braking at higher speeds. I was a little shaky on the final test, but still passed with points to spare and never dropped it.

We had off work today, so armed with my new safety card, I took the Bonneville out for a bit in our neighborhood. The clutch and gas were both different from the Yamaha and obviously going from a 225 thumper to a 865 twin was quite the contrast. The Triumph mufflers actually ride more quiet than I expected. I found an empty church parking lot and practiced some of the MSF drills for a while and generally bopped around the neighborhood without going on the highways just yet.

Odometer: 844

Monday, February 6, 2012

Calendar, Video, and a lack of news

Last month I ordered myself a small christmas gift from amazon. If you were one of the kindhearted souls who sent me an amazon giftcard, consider this to be one of your gifts to me. It's the 2012 callendar published by

Cover photo from 2 Wheel Tuesday
I discovered BikeEXIF just about a year ago and it became a frequent destination for me during the deployment. Chris' posts, the advertisers links, and commenters' insights have all taught me a lot about motorcycle history and mechanics. I needed a calendar to keep track of Army things coming up and I felt like the site deserved my support. I didn't get around to putting it on the wall until friday, though. Fortunately, I don't really care for the bike featured for January, so it's not a great loss.  This month I get to look at a fine Ducati 860 GTS from Germany.

Photo from BikeEXIF
I can't agree with Chris that this bike "is an absolute traffic-stopper," but it certainly appeals to me. Simple and a bit stocky, but you can tell there's power and versatility in there. It's weird to see a Ducati in any color besides white/red/black, though. I'll have to remember to look for these Pirelli Scorpion enduro tires whenever my Bonnie needs new shoes.

I just came across this video yesterday and it made me smile. Sure, the folks featured are kinda hipster-y, but it still looks like fun and they've introduced me to an Arlo Guthrie song I hadn't heard before.

The lack of motorcycle news is because most of my unit was still on leave over the past week, so the people who can tell me more about this safety course were not around. I've been looking into the courses offered by local dealerships as an alternative, but I wanted to find out about the free military-offered course before dropping the coin on a civilian one. Incidentally, the European and Japanese dealerships have been much more helpful with learn-to-ride courses than the Harley shops around here. I'm not completely opposed to paying for a course, but I want to get started soonish so I can become proficient enough to commute on the bike and let Sarah have the Civic during the week for her employment/education needs.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Football Weather & Hog Heaven

Winter has returned to Texas after a few days that reached into the 80s. Winter for Texas is more like October for Pennsylvania, just without the foliage. I'm comfortable in a sweatshirt around the house. However those warm days (and more while Sarah and I were up north) have got our lawn all sprouting up. It's very little grass and a lot of clover and similar fast-growing vegetation. Our landlady tactfully informed us that we'd receive a bill from the city if we didn't keep it cut so earlier today Sarah and I bought our first mower.

Photo from Home Depot
Getting a human-powered mower may yet prove to be a poor decision, but it takes up a lot less space and a full-size gas mower would and I think it will be fine for our tidy little lot.

Perhaps you've been wondering what happened to the prolific beer reviewer who once posted here?  Well Sarah has been posting a lot of the day-to-day stuff that I might have wrote about before and I have decided to not include beer reviews on any of my motorcycle posts for what I hope are obvious reasons. I've been keeping pictures and notes on the brews I've tried since returning, so there is a cache I can draw from for future posts.  Today I bring you Hog Heaven's Barleywine-Style Ale.

Photo courtesy of Sarah's iphone
I got this off the shelf because it said "barleywine-style ale" which I expected to be a high ABV ale and maybe a gateway into the Barleywine style. Ha, far from it. The high ABV was certainly there, but this has more in common with IPA monsters than the more sedate ales I tend to favor. BC and Toby would both probably like this one, but I'll avoid it and the Barleywine style in general for a while.

So there's a football game tonight and, by the time I go to bed, either Tom Brady or Eli Manning will have another superbowl win to his name.  Ugh; the playoffs did not go my way and now I have to choose between two of the least appealing franchises.  I suppose Eli will get my grudging support; we Panthers can't have Bill O'Brien flashing a superbowl ring when he's recruiting around Pennsylvania.  Sarah and I are gonna make some Guacamole and drink some Modelo Especial and Shiner Bock for the game.