It occurred to me that we are missing the meaning of Honda’s slogan, “The Power of Dreams”. It’s a wonderful Honda pun.
So, someone tell me exactly where you go to buy motorcycle boots around here.
It’s time for me to retire another pair of Dainese touring boots, and that means a replacement pair is required. Worn soles, leaky membranes, small perforations, etc. I’ve found several pair that I’d like to try on, but the trying on part is the sticking point. I can’t find a place that either carries them or bothers stocking them. Because, you know, women’s gear isn’t a deal here in the midwest. Or anywhere in the US, as far as I can tell. Which is pretty darn lame because like most women, I want to try things on before I buy them.
I contacted the local internet shop, Sport Bike Track Gear. Great website with a lot of gear on it, but when I asked about visiting the shop, Eric explained that they “don’t really have any women’s gear” in stock at the showroom.
Revzilla suggested that I check my item numbers using their stock checker tool, and I found out that they have exactly one of the five pair I am interested in at their Philly gear boutique. Again, women’s = no stock. This extra sucks because I’ll be in Philly this weekend and I would gladly head over to drop some cash on boots and winter gloves. Maybe even a heated vest. Which they also don’t stock in the boutique. For women. I’m sensing a trend.
What’s missing here is neither place offered to bring the boots in for me by appointment. Sad, because I need boots and whoever can get my feet into them is getting a sale.
CycleGear carries the brands I want, but not the actual boots. The problem there is that I want the high-end styles with GoreTex. Too spendy for the average CG customer, maybe? Regardless, it’s still a dead end, albeit a bit closer to home over near Cleveland.
The Iron Pony is hit or miss depending on what they have bought out lately. And in this case, totally miss. Too bad, I’d enjoy the ride down to Columbus.
The rest of the gear “shops” I’ve found are internet only. Super.
To pull off actually trying on the boots side-by-side, I figure that I will need to drop upwards of $1700 on my credit card to get them all delivered to my doorstep, and then I’ll have to deal with the hassle of shipping the unwanted ones back. Presuming at least one pair is actually wanted. And whoever I order them from will get socked with a bunch of shipping costs.
I suppose I could just price shop to the bitter end and order another pair of Dainese boots that I know will fit and that I will get three years out of. Or I could just put plastic bags in my existing boots for another few months until I can snag a trip back to Germany. Over there, I can simply go downtown to the motorbike corner and *gasp* go across the street if I want to try on more than three or four pair at a time.
American retailers need to get the point – women riders will gladly buy. But they have to stock the gear first. And “available online” is not the same as stocking in store. Sorry.
Motorcyclists talk about finding their dream bike. What they don’t talk about is what to do once you’ve found it.
The first time this usually comes up is when someone wants to purchase their first bike. “I’ve been dreaming about a XYZ1000 for years!” People jump all over them saying no, get a little bike, a starter bike. “But then I’ll just have to get the one I want later!” new person wails.
Well, that’s kind of the point. Getting another one, I mean. I have some experience with that.
I accidentally bought my long-term bike on the first try. It’s a great bike. It was great from day one. I fell for it hard and it’s not losing any charm or fun or anything. I have a bike that I love and fits me like a glove in every way. I don’t know that there actually is a better bike for me. So what? Well, the main problem is that I’m stuck with it. That’s an overly depressing way of looking at it, but it’s accurate. And it means that I miss out on one of the most fun parts of riding – riding all of the bikes. In fact, the only times I have managed to buy other bikes are when my long-term bike was not running. And once it was, I was right back in the saddle. I can’t stay away.
When people say “don’t buy your dream bike right out of the gate,” they mean don’t limit yourself, motorcycle-wise.
It also means don’t assume that what you want before you start riding is what you are going to want after you start riding.
I had some conflicting wants – I wanted to ride a BMW, but I wanted to look at sport bikes. I love how sport bikes look and ride. Standards are fun (the old R65 I want is a standard), but I don’t desire them like I desire sport bikes. Then I started riding, and discovered dual sports. Oops. As much as I love sport bikes and my CBR250R was illegal levels of fun and MV Agusta exists, nothing says “let’s go hoon!” like a dual sport. Nothing says “any time is the right time” like a dual sport. And, of course, nothing says “comfy and loaded” like a BMW. So naturally logic won out and I went out and bought myself a BMW dual sport right out of the gate. Oops.
Now I’m stuck. I want to try all the bikes, but it’s hard to justify it when I’ve got my right bike right here at hand already. Even worse is that now my dream bike is another one just like it, except in black. That’s right – two of them. Gotta match my outfits, you know. I still think about other bikes (I do want to collect an R65 one of these days), but none of them match up to my baby GS very favorably when it gets down to spending money. It’s a downer, I tell you. I think I need to go ride and shake it off.
So if someone suggests that you hold off on your dream bike, take them seriously. Ride all of the other bikes first. Because if it really is your dream bike, you’ll never want to ride anything else, and you’ll miss out on some good motorcycling fun.
I just read another useless listicle about how to survive high heels. Urgh.
There is one and only one “secret” to a comfortable pair of heels (other than the “secrets” that apply to all shoewear selection) and that is heel pitch.
It’s not even a secret, you can see it right there in front of you. Just look at your shoe and find the top line of the heel where it meets the body of the shoe. I put a pink line on the image to show you where it is.
Now that you know what heel pitch is, you can use it. See how the pink line intersects the forward sole of the shoe between the ball of the foot and the toe? That is good. That means that some of your weight will be borne by the heel. Lower heel pitch allows for a more even weight split between the heel and ball of the foot. When the line is steeper, you bear more weight on the ball of your foot. That is not good for all-day comfort. It is also not good for walking – as the heel bears little weight in a steep shoe, it is difficult to walk normally. If the shoe is designed for the heel to bear weight, you will be able to walk more normally and plunk that heel down with confidence.
The only thing you need to check the heel pitch before buying a pair of shoes is a straight line to hold the shoe up to – the edge of the shoe box works great. Line it up with the top of the heel and see where it intersects the sole. Forward of the ball of the foot is better – you will be more comfortable and wear and enjoy your new shoes more.
I’ve been unable to track down the origin of the phrase “a job so simple a monkey can do it”, so I’ll make do here with a few other monkey aphorisms. All to set up for a useful post, I promise.
Some years (or eons) ago, it was posited that if you gave a million monkeys each a typewriter, eventually one would hack out some Shakespeare. Actually, it’s called the infinite monkey theorem, and it says (per Wikipedia) that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. In truth, the monkeys did not type anything useful at all, and destroyed the typewriters in the process.
A monkey wrench is a wrench that is make-do, can be arranged to work in a given situation. It turns out to have a nautical origin in name, and a horsedrawn carriage origin in function. It is actually not a pipe wrench, being that the jaws are perpendicular to the handle instead of angled as in a pipe wrench. They are also often flat instead of toothed. But they can be monkeyed around with until they work, for sure.
Throwing the monkey wrench into something is another name for sabotage.
CareerBuilder.com’s monkey advertisements reinforced the idea the monkeys are not anyone’s choice of top recruits for jobs that might provide a decent paycheck.
Monkeys are a metaphor for small, unreliable operations and operators that can go wrongly, often with spectacularly bad (ok, hilarious) results.
Let’s head back to the monkeys on the job.
During work on a large, game-changing software installation that I recently participated it, a healthy debate set up between some of the stakeholders, one group of which wanted a process that “a monkey could operate”, and one group who wanted an expert process. Middle ground was, as usual, scarce. The process in question was a stage and gate process and one of the complexities was the processing of gates – should it be automated or should it require intervention from humans skilled in the art?
This posed two rather fundamental process governance questions – how complex should the process be, and how much knowledge should be required to operate it?
The governance issue was the subject of much debate within the chartering organization, and both sides made compelling arguments. The monkey side wanted a process that could not be perverted for individual gain and that would not place additional burden on the already thin staff. The expert side wanted to know that the right decisions were being made regardless of a number, that no opportunities were being missed, and that common sense would always prevail. Both agreed that the governance of the process was critical to its success and turned back to the team for an answer.
Out of this challenge, my team, the team in charge of implementation, threw up our hands in frustration and exclaimed “if the process is so simple that it only requires monkeys to operate, then why do we need (to pay) senior managers?” We christened this “the monkey rule”.
We created a paradox in the process: the only people who could specify a monkey-enabled process were the senior managers, who then would become irrelevant in doing so. At the same time, the managers demanding as expert process were committing to the work required, because it could not be delegated to monkeys by virtue of its expert content.
Both arguments hold water – some processes are suitable for “monkey-enabling” and others will never make it out of the C-suite. The middle ground is where application of the monkey rule is required. For example, simple invoice checking for completeness is a relatively straightforward process – are all of the pieces of information there? Ok, move it on to the next step. Choosing a vendor is much more complex and not all of the useful information has a numeric value or can be converted to one. How do you rate the sole proprietor’s chances of a heart attack in the next ten months? Well, it probably starts with a phone call and might proceed to a face-to-face meeting over lunch. Things that are often handled by managers of some level with some amount of gut expertise. An expert, if you will.
In the end, the team and the chartering organization went the route of the expert process requiring the senior managers to actively participate. It’s mostly working, and it’s generating accountability that was previously unheard of in the organization. It’s also revealing some opportunities for improvement and a non-trivial number of missing experts.
Most importantly, the monkey rule served its purpose – to differentiate between the truly monkey-level tasks and those that do require a well-funded paycheck. Our managers are still being paid.
Where are you going to deploy the monkey rule?
I was back in Germany again for the last two weeks.
The Jeep Renegade is a huge hit over there. Not only did I see a bunch of them, but all in nutty loud colors and parked to be seen. I like this vehicle a lot and I think FCA hit a home run with it. The popularity in Germany is proof.
Motorcycle parts are far more widely available, as usual. I managed to warp a rear rotor (yes, I actually warped it) due to the crappy Brembo 11mm master cylinder corroding again. In the US, the best fit rotor is the stock BMW one, for $248. EBC makes one that I haven’t seen yet for about $150. The OEM TRW rotor is a whopping 68€ from Louis. Yes, I brought home a brake rotor. The CBP guy who stamped my passport back in looked at his deskmate and said “I clearly need to go over there and buy some parts.” Yes, you do, Mr CBP Officer. A set of matching TRW pads cost a whole 37€. With the exchange rate at stupid lows, that was a no-brainer. I haven’t really addressed the spares situation in the past, but thanks again to Motorrad Alexander who delivered an annoying piece of wiring harness to my desk for 20% of the cost new. It’s in great condition and should resolve some nagging issues I have with harness damage on the BMW. I’ll be repairing the old one and saving it for the other frame.
Eggs. When you go to the breakfast buffet in Germany, the scrambled eggs are real eggs. I forgot how awesome this is until we went to San Antonio for a long weekend a few weeks ago and had the American version made from powdered eggs. Not even close.
I always forget how much I miss riding the trams and walking everywhere. It’s sooooo nice. A totally different kind of mobility.
I do have a gripe with airline food. I have Celiac disease, which can suck for a variety of reasons. One of them is airplane food. I finally figured out what is going on with the grilled chicken breast, broccoli, and rice that I get on every. single. flight. It’s not only gluten-free, it’s Kosher, Halal, lactose-free, low sodium, and whatever else you can come up with short of vegetarian/vegan. It’s also generally flavor-free and boring. Everyone else gets something different each flight, I get that damn grilled chicken. I have to beg for butter, explaining that I am not lactose intolerant or anything else. I do love the rolls that I get on the flight home, they are way the hell better than the rice cakes I get on the flight out. One positive note is that Delta flight attendants, pursers, and stewards are generally quite food allergy aware. This time, I was able to
get scam an ice cream and it arrived with no cookie! I know that the airlines are kind of dependent on LSG or whoever their food service contractor is, so I don’t want to come off as bagging on Delta. But I would like some fancy food once in a while!
I was counting cars in the parking lot for a project and discovered that Germans like big window glass just as much as Americans do. I wonder if the area of the greenhouse is why people here like SUVs so much? With sedans losing glass at every increasing rates, it seems that eventually the only way to get a real rear window will be in a minivan or other xUV. Hmmm. Now I want to call hatchbacks UUVs – urban utility vehicles. I guess minivans would then be FUVs – family utility vehicles. Let’s tacticool name all the vehicles!
I was completely shopped out from my last trip, but not enough so to avoid looking in the windows at Hein Gericke. Oh, damn, another pair of gloves – from Richa and size Ladies’ XL. What a concept – I have a difficult time finding gloves with long enough fingers, hopefully these will do it. Thankfully, LS2 seems to be doing a great job of bringing HG back into form. The new assortment is quite attractive and continues the tradition of high-end product lines.
I (finally) learned how to pronounce Garching. I used to say /gar’ shing/. Now I say /gar’ hing/. With that silly-sounding Bavarian hissing H.
Last year, I wrote about getting my lean back. This year, it is about how it gets better.
It’s spring, and from the looks of things, it’s the first, second, third, and many other seasons for riders. It’s the first few seasons that I’m thinking of. Bikes are approached with wonderment, desire, and maybe a bit of fear or concern. Am I going to be able to ride well? So many long-term riders seem to be able to start and stop riding with such ease, will I ever be one of them? Will riding ever come naturally (after a break)?
My first season was short – a month and a half. Then winter break for a month or so. Getting back on was a bit touchy. I had to basically teach myself to ride again. My head got it, but my body didn’t, and that resulted in a lot of confusing signals. It was work.
My next season was my first full one, and it was good. Coming back after winter break was easier, but I still needed some time to equilibrate. My third season was similar – I needed time to get back on my horse, and then my horse decided to die, which caused all sorts of other issues. Namely, the need for a spare horse. Which I then had to acclimate to. The next winter brought a two-and-a-half-month break and a move back to the US. Different land, different rules, different roads. Oof, it was really a challenge to come back. I had lost my lean. I had lost a lot of things. But slowly, it all came back.
This winter’s break was different for some reason. It was longer – three months. I changed my horse up again by swapping out the suspension for some better-fitting kit. I didn’t take a BRC this year. I’d spent the three months dealing with a back injury. I still faced a few jitters about getting back on. Was it going to be iffy again this year?
That’s what I’m here to tell you. It got better. Not just a bit better, but way better. This year, when I hopped on my bike, my body responded without my brain needing to tell it what to do. I had my lean back from the get-go. The onset of riding is better this year, because finally, my body completely gets it. It gets it well enough not to forget it. I was surprised, I admit. My brain needs to do a little catching up, but doggone, my body… So good. So many things that I notice myself doing right, without even considering the situation consciously. Trusting myself is good. Knowing that I finally have the muscle memory down pat is really good.
So if it’s your first or second spring back from break and you’re not 100% sure of yourself, don’t worry. It gets better every time.
Every summer, some rider crashes without gear and gets shredded. Pictures get posted. Stories get told. Wounds begin to heal.
I cannot imagine not wearing all of my gear when I get on one of my bikes. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look this cute?
I admit, wearing leathers to work is fun(ny). What few other riders there are see me and some shake their heads, others ooooh and aaaaah and tweak me for it, knowing that they would do the same if they actually rode to work. Of course, they probably wouldn’t look like a giant pink and white Peep. The non-riders pretty much scatter, which I don’t get, because I’m hardly intimidating. But maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s the aggression that leathers in general signify in American culture. Really, though. Pink and white leathers are not aggressive. I promise. It’s only a motorcycle. It’s not going to hurt you as long as it’s off.
Truth is, I have lots of nice, well-fitting, decent-looking gear. The suit above is my riding-while-beautiful suit. It’s not the heaviest-duty suit I own, but it’s a tonne more protection than jeans and a tshirt. It also helps to have nice big side boxes to pack work clothes and shoes into and so on. If you’re a new rider on a little CBR with only a backpack, your options are more limited. And the looks I get when I roll into work in leathers. You’d think aliens had landed. Imagine being a new rider, showing up looking like Bibendum or SpiderMan, and having to answer for it. I’m old enough to just look down my nose over my glasses and say “I like looking this good” and mean it. But I’d hate to go through my first year of riding again and have to answer all those questions again. Especially as a teenager.
No one should ever be ashamed of gearing up or how they look with gear on. It’s a badge, kind of like a scar that you can take off. A reminder to yourself that you want to always be able to take your scars off at will, that none will be permanent. At least, none of the riding scars.
So don’t you want to look cute, too? Go ATTGATT. Wear your leathers. Ride while beautiful.
The bike runs now. Actually, it ran last week. The magic ingredient? The fuel tank.
I tested out my newly refreshed CDI box on a second bike, and it ran fine. The CDI refresh was done by Carmo in the Netherlands, seemingly the only place in the world doing this work. Came home and no luck. So… What was different? The only difference between the two bikes was that the other one had the tank mounted and hooked up. Something so simple……
This is important because attached to the fuel tank is a vacuum petcock, and the hoses that operate it.
While I’d been careful to close off the vacuum port on the side of the intake that opens the petcock, I hadn’t closed off the fuel feed line to the carb. So I was either running out of vacuum, or running out of vacuum. The Mikuni carb is a constant-vacuum type and requires militant fastidiousness when it comes to policing the vacuum lines. I’ve honestly never seen anything like this. Even my poor old Passat will fire and run with some vac lines open, being a modern Bosch innovation. My Rabbit would run with most of the intake missing, and it was merely K-Jet. Perfection, I tell you!
Since getting it running, I’ve also rejetted the carb, going up one size each on the main and pilot jets to #130 and #20 from #127.5 and #19. I’ve found references to this pair, and also to simply moving the pilot jet up to a #30 while keeping the stock #127.5 for the main. I expect my summer to involve a fair amount of carb tuning and experimentation – which will be great because it will put me in a much better position to handle little Japanese bikes in the future, and hopefully prepare me for a future life of Bing.
Yeah. I’m going there. Two Bings, to be exact.
I had a nose job.
Not the outside kind, mind you. The inside kind. The kind where they bomb the insides and try to set them straight, so air can actually flow into and out of your sinuses and nasal passages. I wanted the outside kind to go with, though the recovery would have involved not wearing my glasses for two weeks and an extra $6K. That’s track bike kind of money. So no.
The actual surgery is quite straightforward. The ENT surgeon sticks a tool that looks like a snubbed needlenose pliers up your nose and breaks and resets your septum. Then, the surrounding membranes are repaired and moved into position. Finally, a packing is inserted to hold it all in place for long enough to get healing started.
Overall, the recovery started off relatively pain-free and stayed that way. I was rather concerned about taking the Norco that was prescribed – I’ve never taken anything like it and didn’t want to get sick or otherwise stress my throat any more. The intubation was enough to recover from. Fortunately, an Advil every three hours was plenty to keep the pain at bay. I could feel it creeping in by hour 2.5, but overall it was completely manageable. This is a good thing. I took it to mean that things were healing well and the there was not too much damage done in the process of the surgery.
By far the worst aspect of the recovery was the 24 hours of mouth breathing due to the packing stuck up my nostrils. Sleep was challenging – about an hour at a time was all I could manage before I needed water.
The packing used on (in?) my nose was interesting to me – two fingers cut from what looked like an extra large nitrile glove, packed with gauze to hold shape. I’ve linked the pic, it’s gross. It appears that it is true – you really can stuff an entire finger up your nose. I expected about 2″ of finger, but no, it was all 4″ or so. Pulling it out the morning after the surgery nearly made me gag – the seal was sufficient to make swallowing challenging and nose breathing impossible.
I seem to have three stitches on the right side. The right side was the side that was closed off, that needed to most movement. These stitches are currently the bane of my existence – they are stiff and too short to be stuck down with petroleum jelly. Therefore, they tickle me. This is rather annoying because I can’t take them out or really rub my nose. It still hurts too much to displace the cartilage that way. So I settle for poking at them and sneezing. I have to deal with them until day 8, when I have my follow-up visit with the surgeon. Five days to go!
This morning, I felt a new sinus for the first time. The sinus in my right forehead must have been quite blocked before, because I think it had never felt airflow. The soreness was quite profound prior to a nice, hot, steamy shower. I’m thinking I’ll need a few Tylenol over the next couple of days to contend with that.
In about ten more days, things will have finished healing and the swelling will be down. Then I’ll know the full impact of the surgery, one which I probably should have had done years ago.