Since I’ve got a wife and wonderful seven-year-old daughter, and since riding a motorcycle isn’t deemed by the people I know as the safest pastime I can indulge in, I decided early on to do everything that I can possibly do to prevent the separation of me from my motorcycle in an unwanted fashion. Even if this is to occur, I also want to make sure that I have more-than-adequate protection. Lastly and most importantly, I’ve committed myself to getting the best education and training I can, and to continue this training in an ongoing manner as long as I continue to ride.
Time to get some gear and get educated.
I looked into training schools sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and most said that they would provide helmets, but I would need to have gloves, a suitable jacket, pants and boots. I figured that with minimal effort I could cobble together an outfit that would “pass”, but that path didn’t feel right to me. I decided to purchase the equipment that I would begin riding with immediately. I would have plenty to do and think about during my first few thousand miles, and I wanted to have the equipment that I would be using initially. I felt the need for commitment to the process from the time I first threw a leg back over a seat.
Read the book
The first thing I did was purchase a bunch of Motorcycle magazines, and then after perusing the racks at the local Border’s Books, I bought “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles — Third Edition“ – by Darwin Holmstrom and Charles Everitt. Both of these writers are contributors to Motorcyclist Magazine (which I now subscribe to). I cannot say enough about this book. I have referred to it again and again for advice on gear, schools, riding technique and bike purchasing, and rarely ventured anywhere near the outside limits of their advice.
Continue reading Back to Motorcycling Part 3 — Gear and Gear Shifting: Protection and Education
This is the second in a series of articles about getting back into riding after a long hiatus. Part 1 of the series can be found here.
There are a couple of reasons that I will positively own a Moto Guzzi, some practical, some whimsical, and a final emotional reason – Officer Floyd “Skip” Fink of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Skip Fink patrolled in the Globe-Miami area when I was a kid. He and his partner, Russ Fifer, used to ride their big Guzzi Eldorados all over town, and visited my Father’s Restaurant/Hotel almost every day for lunch or dinner.
I made sure I was there when they pulled up. Floyd would wrestle with me, tell me about his job and treat me like a little brother (I had bruises to prove it). I always had the utmost respect for him, and it influenced my opinion of law enforcement for my entire life. Big Guzzis were exotic anywhere, even though a quite a few law enforcement organizations used them. The general public at that time was enamored of the Honda 750 and later the even larger-displacement Kawasakis. I don’t think that anyone in my small town even knew that Italians made motorcycles, yet here they were; big, fast and tank-like. All style and a stamp of approval from Law Enforcement officials that were practically family. Continue reading Back to Motorcycling Part 2 – The Nicest People Ride a Honda, but the Most Eclectic People Ride a Moto Guzzi!
So I’m 46 years old. I’ve been on hiatus from my “mechanical hobby”; restoring cars, for nearly three years. I’ve been doing this since I was 18, and sold off my last Citroen DS21, on January 18, 2005. On a self-enforced hiatus for two years, it’s been another year because the Ideal Ride that lurked in my head just never materialized.
Enter “Test Pilot Bill” in Phoenix. I’ve known him for years through my wife, Sheila. He is possibly one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.
Last year by happenstance he showed me his newly acquired 2004 Triumph Bonneville that is absolutely perfect, low miles, and an H.G.-Welles-Time-Machine moment (I orginially attributed it to Orwell – forgive me!) with all the wonderful things about British bikes and none of their vices.
As I threw my leg over the Bonnie, something funny hit me. Kind of a “yeah… nice”. It fit not only my butt – it fit into my thoughts. Something deep inside me began eating away two of the four wheels that my Ideal Ride had always possessed. From that moment, I began to think of a motorcycle as The Thing to replace the Car Habit I had nurtured for more than 30 years.
I didn’t know if my search would result in a Triumph like Bill’s, but I knew that I would start on a journey of self-discovery and, as I write this, I couldn’t be more excited about anything I have ever undertaken.
Continue reading Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1
The bar was set high before last Christmas dinner. We had spent a week in Rome, Siena and Florence at this point, and had driven between these towns, stopping at every espresso bar for coffee, and every restaurant to sample one thing — Spaghetti Carbonara.
It’s nothing like what you get at most run-of-the-mill restaurants, and even some so-called authentic establishments just fix you a plate of spaghetti and slather their “Alfredo Sauce” with some peas and quickly fried ham pieces in it. It’s going to take serious therapy to get out of my head what these authentic Italian Restaurants in my San Fernando Valley have prostituted themselves into . But, in our story, we were in Italy, were we not?
Sheila (my darling, patient wife) and I adore Carbonara, one of the simplest pasta dishes. Simple, but when made well, will blow the winter out of your system like a Breva in the Alps, fill your stomach with childhood memories and your eyes with adoring love for humanity. Spaghetti Carbonara is Italian Heroin — A really good portion will just make you feel so good that absolutely nothing else matters, and your craving for it will never end.
During last winter’s trip to Italy, we had sampled Carbonara in multiple locations in Rome, Siena, a small family diner in Montefiascone, and now Firenze. Continue reading In Search of Carbonara