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Showing posts from February, 2014

What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

A bonny adventure awaits

When I first applied for my current job, the phrase that stood out to me most in the job description was: "Occasional travel required." My mind looped and soared on the implications of such a statement, because I have always wanted a job that demanded I not stay in just one place. Unfortunately, it turns out my business travelling is rather less occasional than I would like, but, hey, I still get paid to go awesome places.
And in May I'll be going several awesome places back to back, which is resulting in the potential to have quite an awesome adventure. I plan to take my bike. 
I generally think it's a bad idea to mention one's employer on one's blog, but I may have slipped at some point or you may have guessed, so I should stress that standard policy in my office is to travel as sustainably as possible. More often than not, this translates into our getting places via trains and buses. But in working out logistics for this particular trip I've figured o…

Ride review: Triumph America

Find yourself a sofa -- the comfier the better. Take a seat on the edge of the cushion, in such a way that sweet tushy of yours is supported but your thighs are not. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, now recline your back until it just barely touches the back cushion, but do not put any of your weight on it. At this point you should find your abdominal, back and neck muscles straining to support the weight of your torso. Welcome to the strange core workout that is riding the Triumph America.
It breaks my heart to tell you of how unpleasant is the experience of riding an America. I would almost prefer to lie, or narrowly focus on good things whilst conveniently ignoring any negatives. Like the seat. Golly, that seat is comfy. Oh so lovely and comfy. Sure, it is angled in such a way that you need the abs of King Leonidas to be able to sit on it for more than a few minutes, but in and of itself, it is a great seat.
The reason it breaks my heart to speak ill of the America is that I h…

Ride review: Triumph Bonneville

"OK," I said. "I want one." "Well, you know, maybe you should ask your wife first." "She loves Triumphs," I said. "Still, Chris. You should give it a think. Go home, discuss it with your wife, give yourself a chance to think clearly. After all, this is one of Triumph's most popular models; there's plenty of stock available."
The voice of reason in that conversation was Drew, the salesman at Bevan Motorcycles. He was doing his best to talk some sense into me after my test ride of the 2014 Triumph Bonneville. I was wild-eyed and yammering like a teenage boy who has touched boobies for the first time. This, my friends, is what the Bonneville does to you. It is an instantly rideable, instantly enjoyable, instantly lovable motorcycle that surprises you in just how good a simple motorcycle can be.

The Bonneville, of course, is a storied machine that's been around in one form or another for 55 years. It is a classic. Partially b…

Daydreaming my next bike: A real motorcycle

Not too long ago, my wife and I were talking about setting goals. In trying to inspire my imagination on the subject, she asked me what bike I'd like to have. I danced around in my head for a few seconds and because I had recently written that post about sport tourers I found myself telling her I'd like a BMW F800GT.
"What is that?" she asked. "I don't know that one."
I quickly did an internet search on my phone and pulled up a picture.
"That looks like the bike you already have," Jenn said. "What about a real bike? A proper bike? This is supposed to be about setting goals; don't sell yourself short. What bike do you really want?"
I blinked at her for a moment. This exchange had illustrated two things: I don't aim high enough in my thinking. That is true in terms of how I think about my future, how I think about my career, how I think about my physical and mental self, and even in how I think about motorcycles. I mean, a BMW …

Stuff I don't know: suspension settings

I may have mentioned before that I am a fourth-generation journalist. My great-grandfather was editor of a newspaper in Concho County, Texas, my grandfather was a sportswriter in San Antonio, my father was an anchorman in Austin, and I have worked just about every side of the field imaginable from North Dakota to California to Wales.
One of the little tricks you pick up with such a pedigree is the automatic ability to speak/write with an authoritative voice. When I talk about something -- pretty much anything -- I have a tendency to make it sound as if I really know what I'm talking about. Even when I really, really don't. I once managed to convince a friend that Jimi Hendrix was the original lead guitarist for Metallica.
It's a useful little trick that serves me well in job interviews or managerial situations, but it can backfire at times and result in my being totally ignorant about something that, really, would be helpful to know. A person will hear me speaking on a su…

Gear review: VikingCycle Hammer motorcycle jacket

An interesting thing about this particular gear review: I didn't pay for the gear myself. Normally that's not the case; in previous reviews, the stuff I've talked about is stuff I bought with my own hard-earned money. And often that can be an important factor in determining the real quality of an item: it may be good, but is it good enough for you to spend your money on it?
In this case, however, got in touch with me and offered to send me an item if I'd take the time to review it. By effectively eliminating the question of whether I would spend my money on the item, no doubt they were hoping I'd see the product in a more positive light. I'd like to think, though, that I've looked at the item honestly and that this review is as truthful as any other I've done.
The item in question is the Exelement VikingCycle Nomad USAHammer motorcycle jacket -- it goes by a few different names. In all cases, it is a surprisingly affordable combina…