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Showing posts from May, 2015

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…

Europe 2015 pt. IV: It suddenly gets interesting

"Planning is the enemy of adventure" ––– Jamie Duncan
My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago, which was devastating for any number of reasons. First and foremost, of course, is the simple fact she's gone. My grandmother was a superwoman and I had genuinely expected her to live, and thrive, at least to the age of 120. She was a sprightly 88 years old when we found out in late March she had leukemia and I had anticipated it as being nothing more than an inconvenience for her. It was more than that. She died on 9 May.
I am blessed to have been so heavily influenced by her, so I know that I have the intestinal fortitude to move forward, even though it doesn't feel like it right now.
Anyway, in practical terms, attending her funeral in Texas blew a massive hole in my finances. International flights on less than a week's notice do not come cheap. I maxed out my credit card and used almost all the money I had been setting aside for July's trip to Tuscany.

When I …

Owning a Suzuki V-Strom 1000: The first 1,000 miles

The odometer on my V-Strom just clicked over 1,000 miles this weekend, so I thought I'd offer my first long-term review of the bike (I plan to write more as I hit other milestones), just in case there's anyone out there considering getting a Strom of their own.
By and large, I would say that if you are considering buying a V-Strom 1000, it won't be a purchase you'll regret. Indeed, my appreciation of the bike has only grown over the past few months. I find I am much happier with the purchase now than I was initially. Each time I take the bike out, it manages to put a smile on my face because of how well or simply it does this or that thing. 
Pretty much everything I said in my initial ride review remains true. The V-Strom is torquey, intuitive, and fun to ride. It is amazingly well-balanced, and offers a real sense of presence on the road without being KTM-like ridiculous.
Building on what I've already said, here are some other things that have stood out for me as…

I am going to win this bike, so don't even bother entering the competition

Did you see David Beckham: Into the Unknown last summer? It was a one-off TV show that incongruously linked to the soccer World Cup, featuring David Beckham riding around Brazil in ridiculously fashionable gear astride a custom Triumph Scrambler.
A few people were critical of the show because it did very much feel like a long advert for Triumph motorcycles, Belstaff clothing and whatever skin and haircare products Beckham uses to keep himself so handsome. But I didn't really care.
Firstly, because I like Beckham. He is about as "normal" as you could possibly expect anyone with so abnormal a background to be. I mean, the man was effectively raised by a soccer team, for Pete's sake. He was shipped up to Manchester at the age of 14 and indoctrinated into the professional footballing machine. He was raised by a multinational corporation, for whom winning served as the moral backbone. 
This is the culture that produces rapists, drink-and-drive killers and wife beaters. T…

Europe 2015 pt. III: Stuff for my stuff

The last time I wrote about my preparations for my European adventure (back in February), perhaps the biggest development was that I had bought panniers for the Honda. Each holding 33 litres of stuff, the panniers were a quality piece of kit and dramatically improved the look and utility of the bike. 
I put them to good use on a trip to York in late winter and they performed brilliantly. But the bike upon which I had placed them had been giving me cause for concern for a while. Little things had me worrying. A certain squeak in the front brake that never went away –– even after replacing the front pads. A tendency to get stuck in gear or out of gear when the engine had been running particularly hot. Oh-so-slightly loose handlebar switchgear that couldn't be tightened any further. Dentist-drill vibrations at 80 mph that left my hands tingling for days afterward. A seat that got uncomfortable after 45 miles. The fact it was 10 years old.
As I say: little things. No one of those thi…