Sunday, July 31, 2016

Rain rain go away!

Not a good day today.

It started off good enough. I went to church, played guitar, went to a baptism after church, then decided to take a back route home...that was my first mistake.

The last few days have seen heavy thunderstorms with torrential rains. You've probably guessed where this is going. I had a choice between traveling a more familiar road or taking a twisty back road with which I was unfamiliar. I took the latter, which was my second mistake.

As I crested a hill, I noticed that the road curved suddenly and sharply to the left, and there was a washout across the road from the previous night's storms. I used my brakes as I was able before the bend, but there was nothing I could do that would avoid some kind of crash. It was either go down on the gravel and probably break another bone (or bones) or head for the softer earth beside the road.

The softer earth cushioned my fall and I ended up with only a few small abrasions and some sore muscles, oh, my jeans and shirt got rather muddy too, which matters you know. I like that shirt.

The scooter...well, at this point I think I may be better off just parting it out. The forks are bent so badly that the handlebar is turned off to the left, and who knows if the steering stem is bent. It's really too bad, it was a very nice machine despite the few dents.

Well, tomorrow I will look it over some more, if I don't just stay in bed. I think I'm going to wish I had some oxy.

For pictures, see:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hot day in Amish-land (with video)

As I may have mentioned in previous blogs, I took this past week off from work to relax and do some scootering. This also gave me the opportunity to do some job hunting, and take some video. 

Yesterday it was hot, blisteringly hot. Despite this, I took the PCX for a ride around the various Lancaster County tourist hotspots, and boy were they hot...

Anywho, it's amazing how well suited scooters are to buzzing around looking at stuff. I found this to be true in Gettysburg, Lancaster City, and now in Amish country. Having a machine that can take its time helps quite a bit. 

So yesterday, I went through Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse, Paradise, Strasburg (with a stop at the railroad), past Sight and Sound theater, and up through the outlets. 

I hope you enjoy the ride. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lancaster City, Pennsylvania's delightful Red Rose

It's small as cities go, but it's still a city and we're all either proud of it or terrified to go there, depending on how much country mouse we have in us. For myself, I'm more of a rural type, but I find Lancaster to be a non-threatening city. Certainly, there are some neighborhoods with a high crime rate, but overall, Lancaster is charming. Lancaster is the "Red Rose City," harkening back to the war of the roses in England centuries ago. Of course then there is York, the White Rose City, on the other side of the Susquehanna River.

I had to be in town anyway since I was taking the opportunity to visit my son while he's on to speak. Since I had to be in the city anyway, it gave me an excuse to vlog a bit. Added bonus, you get to see parts of the city most tourists never see. In point of fact, there are many tourists who visit Lancaster County who never set foot in the city and I really can't figure out why.

Lancaster has lots of shops, many restaurants, and quite a number of cafes, not to mention the farmers' markets. There are several museums including a small art museum. Lancaster is also home to a number of colleges.

So, if you come to Lancaster county to enjoy some sight-seeing, don't forget the city.

And don't litter...or some weirdo on a scooter might yell at you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A celebratory trip...

Yesterday, I finally finished all my classes at the YTI - Motorcycle Technology Center. To top it off, I had a 4.0 for the last two terms. As my readers will know, I'd planned to go down the Skyline Drive, but that wasn't to be, so I settled for vlogging about local places. So as a celebratory trip, I went to Gettysburg.

It was a lovely day for a ride. The sun was shining and the heat was not terribly oppressive. I was reminded of trips through the area with my dad. He was a big history buff, particularly American histroy.

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve traveling with my dad. One year we visited all of Abraham Lincoln's childhood homes. That was something indeed. My dad may not have been perfect, but he did spend time with his children and made sure that we were given many good experiences that we would take with us to adulthood.

In any event, here is the video from the Gettysburg trip:

Tomorrow, we'll bop around Lancaster City, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's not nearly as easy as you'd think.

The whole moto-scooto-vlogging thing is not as easy as it looks. Yeah, ok, you're yackin' away and shooting video and it's all good, then you have to pick and choose what you want to include in the final product, then your video editor takes a crap, then you've got enough video but not too much. It's just a bit crazy.

I'm shooting for ten to fifteen minutes on the final product, but that's not always possible. I did get about 40 minutes down to 22 on the last one. Today's video was even better. There is so much from which to pick and choose that it makes the process take quite a while, but so far I've been happy with the outcome.

Despite the complications, it's been fun. I get to meet people, chat with folks, and the reactions I get on camera can be priceless. I've also managed to fine tune the camera setup a bit.

Hopefully along the way I convince a few people that scooters are awesome.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Scooter Vlogging on the cheap

Moto-vlogging is a big deal and there is some money in it. I'm not certain if you get out of it nearly what you put in, but hey, I've got something different to offer, so why not give it a shot. I am now a Scooto-Vlogger!

As my readers will know, I've done a few videos here and there, but hadn't determined the best way to do moto-vlogging since I don't have a ton of disposable income. Last week, I tucked the earbuds and mic that came with my phone up into my helmet and that has worked passably well, except with no way to easily swivel the camera.

I had a gift card from Sears sitting in my wallet, and I had seen a possible option at K-mart, but it was a bit more than I had left on the gift card. Then I saw this online through the Sears website:

It's a "Z┼▒uma" 1080p action camera, and you know what? It's not that bad. for a sub-$100 camera, I expected less than what I got, and I got more than I expected. Who knows how long it will last, but it seems to take good video. The adhesive is good 3M stuff.

The big problem was finding a place on my helmet to stick it, so it kinda sticks up off the top a bit further than I'd like, but it works very well and the image quality is good. The video below was made using both cameras. I think it came out pretty decent. There's even a Honda PCX and a very pretty Moto Guzzi in the video, and a bit of history on the Amish and Mennonites. I nearly forgot about the 1971 BSA! How could I forget that!

All in all, a great day for a ride.

Friday, July 15, 2016

On the fly

I've produced my second scooto-vlog. Since there is much time to be killed during commutes, it seemed a good idea to do a commute vlog. Yesterday was a good day for roadkill. Aside from the numerous squirrels and occasional groundhog that normally litter the road, there was a young buck, maybe a six pointer still in full velvet, and a goose, then more geese.

It's uncertain how long I can keep using the camera on my phone for this. The image quality is good in full sun, but it gets blurry in dim lighting.

I've settled on the Skyline Drive for my trip next week. Here's to hoping the funds hold out. Worst case scenario, I'll go down and come back up in one day. The plans are still in the works.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Moto scooto vloggo

There's lots of these folks going around with moto-vlogs these days. Sure, I've done a bit of vlogging myself, but not true moto vlogging because I never really got the microphone right, until tonight. Funny thing is, I had the tools all along, but I never put it all together in my mind.

I'm still just using my phone. I can't afford a good helmet cam, so I'll stick to what works. all I had to do was plug in the earbuds that came with the phone and tuck the microphone into the padding of my helmet. It's not perfect, but it will do, and just in time for my trip down the skyline drive.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Planning stage. You can vote!

So, it's time again for an epic scooter journey!

I'm going to be setting out on the 19th or 20th of July and returning on the 24th. I will be taking the Honda PCX. So, here are my choices so far and you can enter your choice in the poll on the sidebar.

The first is a bit of a no-brainer. It's not really a motorcycle friendly option, but for a 150cc scooter, it should be perfect. It's the Skyline Drive in Virginia. I'd travel down in the first day, go up to Dubois the next to meet my lovely wife at her parents' house, then return home on Sunday. 109 miles of 35 mph asphalt that wriggles through the middle of the Shenandoah National Park. At that distance, I'll do the distance on just over a gallon of gas. Sounds perfect.

The second option is only obvious to me; Smithtown, Long Island. I only want to go because I've never been. Smithtown is the ancestral home of my family here in America. There's a story involving one of my ancestors, an American Indian chief, and a bull. Look it up, it's a great tale, and it's all about the founding of Smithtown. Whether the tale is true, or just a legend, well, you can decide that for yourself. This would probably be the most costly option since Long Island and cheap motels aren't exactly synonymous.

The third is a bit of a long shot, and I'm not sure I'm up for the distance with the allowed timeframe, but it is a dream of mine and one day I'll get there. The Tail of the Dragon, Deal's Gap, NC, is one of those places that many motorcyclists dream of visiting. I'm one of those dreamers.

So, which one should I do? I'll admit, the Skyline Drive sounds perfect to me. This will be a trip to relax and commemorate the finish of my motorcycle technician training. As such, I think the low speeds will be a nice way to relax and there's a whole bunch of corners just to keep it interesting.

So, please feel free fill out the poll and tell me where to go.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A cushy tush - Cheeky Seats Follow-up

As you may remember, if you are a regular reader, I purchased a seat cover from Cheeky Seats in May of this year. My padded seat cover came in the mail, in a much smaller package than I expected.

The cover unfolded into a larger shape and slipped right into place on the existing seat, after the nefarious "rump hump" was removed. After a bit of touch and go with the pullstring and some advice from Suzy at Cheeky seats, the lanyard was pulled tight and locked into place and has stayed put.

Prior to installing the Cheeky Seats cover, riding the PCX longer than about 30 minutes left my rear-end numb. I still rode of course, but that rump hump made the ride less than optimal. Removing it did little to solve the problem since the plastic mounts for it were still in place with no padding. If anything, this made it worse. With the Cheeky Seats cover in place, I can still feel the mounting posts from the hump, but it's not nearly as uncomfortable.

My daily commute is 63 miles and change, round trip. That's a lot for a little scooter. This is broken up into 30 miles to school, 25 miles to work, and seven miles home. The first two legs of the trip take well over half an hour and I still feel relaxed when I arrive at each destination.

I've taken several long distance rides now with the seat cover in place. One of these trips took nearly four hours, and the seat was still comfortable most of the way. I didn't begin to feel saddle-sore until over three hours into the ride.

The seat cover does get warm in the sun, but it's vinyl, so that's to be expected. Even so, it does not become blisteringly hot. It also shows absolutely no signs of wear and tear, and with me using it nearly every day and it sitting in the sun all day when I'm at school, the fact that the stitching is still completely intact is proof of the good workmanship.

After using their product for more than a month, I can say without any reservation that I wholeheartedly recommend Cheeky Seats as an American made alternative to a replacement seat from some other source.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The joy of noise

There's something about making noise that seems to be synonymous with male-ness. Loud noises seem to be produced by many of the activities we participate in. Everything from firearms, to vehicles, to various tools makes some sort of raucous sound that might reasonably wake the dead were it just a touch louder.

So it is with the vehicle exhaust. I'm not by nature a person who wants to cause anyone else discomfort or annoyance though those who've known me long enough will readily tell you that I've been rather noisy my entire life, but as a man, I've found that I like a loud exhaust. My Jaguar S-Type has a nice throaty exhaust with a barritone character to it, and running along through the hills with it, the sound provides some feeling that the V-6 under the hood is more powerful than reality proves it to be, so I do appreciate a nice exhaust note.

On the other hand, I've never really had much use for a loud motorcycle exhaust. The "loud pipes save lives" crowd has never impressed me with the logic of their claims, since I found no logic in them. What I have discovered is the reality of what this group is all about. "Loud pipes save lives" is a cover. It's really about being juvenile and making noise while using the saving of lives as an excuse to validate the activity.

My question is; why do we need an excuse. We are men. We make noise. We like it! Deal! 

My epiphany was the purchase of my new Leo Vince Corsa Exhaust. When it arrived one week ago, I put it on the Honda PCX-150 and left the baffle out. I won't lie, it sounded good. I rode to work with it open like that, and found it was a bit much for my ears that first time out, so I stuck the baffle in when I got to work. Unfortunately, over the next few days I discovered something about having the baffle in. While it was still an interesting sound being produced, it was not nearly as fun.

See, the first day I rode the scoot to work with the baffle out, I realized about a mile down the road that I'd forgotten to fasten my chin strap, so I pulled to the side of the road with the scooter puttering beneath me and this groundhog was just sitting there looking at me from about ten feet behind the scoot. After my helmet was fastened, I blipped the throttle just a bit, and you should have seen that groundhog run. 

I have discovered that, like most other men, I like making noise. It is truly a blast and the little Leo Vince pipe makes it that much more fun since I can now "play music" while buzzing along. That's right, I took out the baffle and the exhaust is once again at full song. It is funny to see the reactions of people who look up to see what kind of motorcycle is making all the racket. The expressions of surprise and bemusement are priceless.

So, if you're a man, make a little noise, have a little fun, and live life all the fuller for it.

This is in no way intended as encouragement to break noise ordinances. If you modify your vehicle to make more noise or do anything else that gets you into any sort of trouble with the authorities, that's on you. (insert grin emoji here).