Tuesday, October 18, 2011


There are days when I feel a little out of place when I'm riding the back roads. But not today.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Idiot Lights

My instrument panel, simple as it is, works together to let me know what the bike wants. But its main function is to remind me of my exact level of incompetence.

The bike has a speedometer, a tach, and a strip of lights.

The green light indicates neutral. There is no gear indicator. By using the postion of my left foot and revs. relative to speed, I have a fairly good idea where I am in the gear box at any given time. But it's not perfect, and I believe that the transmission would like an opportunity to discuss my choices between 20 and 30 m.p.h.

There is a flashing amber light for the signals. If ignored, the bike makes sure that everyone on the road knows that I am an idiot.

The generator light has a similar goal. But it's more sinister. It comes on when the bike decides it's not pleased with whatever I'm doing at the moment, or last week, or in a previous life. And to prove it's superiority, it will stall, thus allowing me an opportunity to give the bike my undivided attention.

The oil light? Check the dip stick.

And then there's the brake failure light. It's red. It has a simple job: Induce panic.

I guess I could take Steve's advice and get a modern bike. One that starts immediately and doesn't require me to open and close fuel valves or to engage the choke on cool mornings. I hear that the new ones have gear indicators and come with signal lights that turn themselves off.

But that's not me.

I like circling the world to the left.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Old Is New

I rode with my friend Steve from Scooter In the Sticks this weekend. We put on a few miles.

Steve rides a Vespa most days, but today he had a Triumph Scrambler on loan from Kissel Motor Sports.

When I was looking for that first bike four years ago, the Scrambler topped my list. It's simple design embodied what I was looking for in a motorcycle. It still does.

But that classic boxer engine of the old BMWs won out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Big Red Box

Twenty-five years ago in June, my father gave me what still ranks as one of the best presents ever.

When I graduated from high school and set out for Florida in an old Camero, dad thought it would be in his son's best interest to be properly prepared.

Unlike many things in my life, the tool box has remained a constant. It kept my car, my friends cars, and numerous bicycles alive. It built flat packed furniture and fixed leaky sinks. It crossed the country twice.

The set is still has most of its original parts. I've had to replace the 1/2 inch wrench several times. Why is it always the 1/2 inch? I have two now—just in case. And since the BMW is metric, I've made the preemptive purchase of a second 10mm.

I'd like to think that with age comes experience, but we all know that's not the case. It's only a mater of time before the 8mm walks off to find that 1/2 inch wrench I lost in 1997.

The contents of the box has grown over the years: a torque wrench, extra pliers, vice grips (you can never have too many vice grips), picks and probes, and one of those little magnets on a telescoping rod—very useful.

When my grandfather passed, I took in his orphans.

Over the years the tools have given me confidence and taught me patience. They made it easy to meet the neighbors in a new building.

Guys know what the red box means. Thank's dad.