Waste not, want not. 

Ever since I bought my ’13 Bonnie I’ve been bolting on aftermarket items and I’ve started to accumulate spare stock parts. They have been sitting and collecting dust in my garage. As I was sitting in my garage enjoying a delicious beverage I started to look around and take an inventory of the junk that has started to overtake my space. I was getting a little uncomfortable sitting on a stack of spare shingles in the corner. It was then that I saw my stock seat from the T100 (or the ironing board as I have called it since the moment I rode the Bonnie out of the shop). I grabbed it off the shelf and sat it down on top of the shingles. It was actually rather comfortable. That’s when I had my idea: to make a shop bench out of it.

[ This guest post is courtesy of Scott Sowers. When not teaching science, he can be found doing home improvement projects, being a dad, being a husband, and maybe riding a motorcycle. — ed.]

IMG_0261.JPGI grabbed another beer and got to work. I need to take a second to say that I am a new father as of July 31st, so my attention has been primarily on my daughter. I get few moments to myself and they come generally only when she is napping. So let’s just say that time was working against me. This wasn’t going to be a pretty creation. It was just something fun to do. I grabbed a box of screws, my screwgun, and my saw and started throwing scrap wood in a pile outside.

IMG_0262.JPGIn the corner of my garage was an old rickety ladder left by the previous homeowners. A few weeks ago when my dad was over he told me he liked it and wanted to take it home but it didn’t quite fit in his truck. Well we fixed it – we sawed off about 2 feet from the bottom! For some reason I kept the extra bit of the ladder (probably for firewood for the winter). That became the base of the bench. The rest of the wood was simply scraps. I reinforced it so that it wouldn’t collapse under my weight and mounted the saddle to the top. There was no measuring; just eyeballing. It looked good but something was missing. I grabbed the stock pipes and a couple of pieces of wood, and before long my bench had some shiny chrome!

This is not a masterpiece by any stretch, but it’s my creation. It looks perfect in the garage with the rest of my stuff, and it’s actually not a bad place to sit and contemplate when I need an escape from the daily grind.

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Distinguished Gentelmen’s Ride 2015

Unfortunately, I won’t be doing this ride this year. But, you can still contribute! Via Jeff Remsburg’s page.

Jeff and I chatted a little at last year’s ride and rolled out on our Triumphs a few weeks afterward to get a nice fall ride in.

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“I used to …”

I have a penchant for “used to” bikes.

A few weeks into owning my ’09 Nightster, I ran over a piece of metal left over from some construction and blew my bike tire out on I-70. Since the bike was new and had roadside assist, I used it! The tow truck driver “used to” have a Sportster.

It was some special model of the 900, but he was sure it was bigger than that, and that thing would run 200 mile-an-hour in 4th gear. He swore he never used 5th gear because 4th was all it needed.

The BMW G650GS was a little different. It was such a weird looking bike that people gawked at it just because. Then the noticed the little blue and white BMW Roundel.

“I didn’t know BMW made motorcycles.” Being a pedant, I would inform them that the Bavarians had been making motorbikes since 1923. I should have kept my mouth shut, because the next thing was always, “Oh yeah, those flat motors! I used to have one of those. Those would run forever.”

The next two bikes were Triumphs. The first, a Street Triple R which is a sport bike with regular handle bars and the second a Scrambler.

The Street Triple was a looker, bass boat metal flake black with gold wheels and logos. “I used to have a Triumph … ”

The Scrambler even more so since you don’t even have to read to tell it’s a Triumph. “Hey, is that a Triumph. I didn’t know they still made those. I used to have a ’75 … drunken slurs“.

Even other guys on bikes will pull up to me and say something. Yesterday and old guy on a Harley-Davidson FLH-STFU pulled up and said, “Nice bike! I used to have a Triumph. Those are great bikes.”

Well man, if it’s so great, why aren’t you on one?

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Bikers For Babies, Kansas City

Last year’s Distinguished Gentlemen’s ride marked my first organized group ride. This is definitely not a part of bike culture that I tend to be involved with.

Yesterday I got a text from Dave about riding with him and his friends at Bikers for Babies. I had a good time with these guys riding out to Greaserama, so I grudgingly agreed and signed up online.

We were meeting at Dave’s at 8:00 a.m. I was there just a hair before and just hung out outside. Jorge and Justin rolled up with a bit more throttle jockeying and Dave’s mom looked out the window and informed us that he wasn’t there. Apparently, Dave took to partying last night. Jorge, Justin, and I went on to the next spot to meet up with some other guys. After the, “hi new guy” festivities, we headed out to Kansas Speedway for the ride.

IMG_0201Registration gave us all packets that included some coupons, a patch, a pin, and not a map. Thankfully Doug noticed this and grabbed some maps. Some road resurfacing caused a last minute change and the new maps hadn’t been put in all the packets.

We meandered around the grounds for a bit looking at vendors stuff and half watching the opening ceremony. I wan’t interested in too much of the stuff the vendors had. I did see and Indian Scout in the flesh, and I am definitely intrigued by this motorcycle.

That's a lot of bikes!There were a ton of bikes! Way more than I really had a concept of. My jaded eyes didn’t like most of the bikes, but it’s pretty awe-inspiring to see 4,300 bikes all ready to ride together.

The first bit of the ride was a little sketchy with everyone leaving at the same time. Our group got invaded by the Harley version of a squid on some temp-tagged, fat-tired noise maker. I just backed up and gave the asshole some space because I don’t want to be around that at all. Luckily, we peeled up for a pit stop and were able to keep a good spacing between our group and the rest of the riders.

Pit Stop!From that point on the ride was nice an uneventful. Just a group of people riding together enjoying some amazing midwestern weather.

Barbecue.We got back to the Speedway just in time to snag some of the last of the lunch. Some barbecue, some liquids, and a little time out of the saddle and we were all ready to head back to Dan’s place to have a few beers and hang out.

I’m still warming up to this idea of group rides, but the last couple have been pretty positive. I’m still anxious about riding with people I don’t know, but I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in to groups of good riders.

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The Hidden Costs of Motorcycling

“I bet that’s great on gas!”

No, it’s not and, no it’s not cheap in any other way either. Other than a low sticker price, motorcycling is expensive in a lot of ways people don’t prepare for.

Stuff

There’s just a lot of stuff you need. If you’re a safety junkie, you’re going to spend a ton on safety gear. Helmets, jackets, dedicated boots, pants, that nerdy-but-handy Aerostich suit, gloves.

Ooooh, I need an outlet to charge my phone!

That billet brake reservoir cover sure looks better than that plastic thing that came on it.

Surely a different seat will be more comfortable.

And on and on … there’s a reason there are hundreds of motorcycle accessories dealers, motorcyclists can’t leave shit alone. You’ll get the bug too.

Maintenance

No one goes in expecting to have no maintenance, but a lot of people aren’t prepared for the cost or work (which costs time) that these vehicles need. Some are easier than others, but the shop bill for yearly valve inspections on a high-strung motor isn’t cheap.

The drive line sucks a lot of cash too. Everyone knows chains wear out, but when a belt breaks (and they do, trust me) you’ve got to pull the swingarm off. Time or money on that one … your choice.

Brake pads seem to not last as long. Maybe that’s in the way I ride, but I can roast a set of pads in a year of regular street riding.

The big one is tires. All the tires. All the time. And they aren’t cheap. I had a shop put tires and brakes on my Nissan and that’s cheaper than just purchasing my preferred tires. The tires let you know too, they get squared off, or greasy feeling, or you cheaped out on tires and you HATE the ones you bought. Tires will put you into debt quick.

Events

Bike nights, trips with your buddies, bike shows, track days, MSF courses all add up. Sure it might be $10 or $20 bucks buying drinks at a bike night, but if you do that every week you’ll feel it. And you’ll start making up reason to take rides burning extra gas, rushing towards that next oil change. It’s fun, but be prepared.

It’s a real vehicle

This one really gets people. It seems like a fun toy, a diversion from daily life. It’s not, it’s a real, honest to goodness vehicle in the eyes of the state and county and they want their tax money. Property taxes, license plates, title fees, sales tax. Just like a car. I’m in the odd situation where my motorcycle is worth more and therefore costs more in taxes than either of my cars. I really felt it when I was writing “Jackson County Collector” on a check a few hours ago.

It’s for love

That’s the only reason I can really come up with to justify motorcycling. It’s impractical. It’s costly. It takes away time from other things in my life that may be more important. It’s hurt me. I’ve been in the back of an ambulance strapped to a back board thinking, “I hope I can ride soon.”

And that’s why it’s worth it.

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Barriers

 There are barriers to riding. Weather, time, and especially, kids. I was all set to ride for my commute today when I got this text. 

I drove. I’ll be dreaming. About bikes though. 

 

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Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride – Kansas City – 2014

I’m not a fan of group rides. Three to five close friends is the most comfortable group size for me. This ride was different.

I wore a charcoal suit, white shirt, red argyle socks, and Doc Marten’s wingtips. The ride to the ride was surreal. I’m used to being ignored or abhorred by car drivers. Riding around in a suit changes that. Waves, smiles, thumbs up … all manner of accolades.

The dress of the other riders varied, but in spirit with the ride. Suits, steampunk-esque goggles, tweed blazers, selvedge jeans. It was great and varied. Just like Kansas City.

Also like Kansas City, we were inclusive. The official rules are somewhat limiting on what type of bike is allowed. This group, eschewed those rules to good end. We raised a good bit of money and the people one the “wrong” bikes were there in the “right” spirit. I did not take part last year due to the rules and not having the “right” bike.

The route started at Coffee Girls in Waldo and headed out to Blue River Road. That’s not populous, but it’s a damned good road to ride on. From there, we headed into the heart of the city as we made our way North to end up at Grinder’s in the heart of the Crossroads.

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The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

Yes, it’s late, but I’ll be participating in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride this Sunday.

The link above is to my sponsor page, please feel free to click it and donate a little bit. Here’s the pitch:

Let’s be straight here, gentlefolk. At The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), we ride for a purpose.

Our focus is on gentlemen who are dealt a tough hand in life. In particular, we raise funds for research into prostate cancer as part of our mission to support men’s health.

With your support, DGR is aiming to raise $1 Million USD this year to assist in finding a cure for a disease that kills 1300 men a day worldwide.

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16th and Grand

I had just finished playing a show and while standing outside I saw these two positioned just like this, having a conversation. I’m sure it was awkward when I ran over and said, “Hey, can I take your picture?!” but it was worth it.

This image grabs a big part of what I love about motorcycles, the style, and the culture. It’s inclusive and varied and social and cliquish all at once.

16th and Grand

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Interview: John Velghe

I really can’t stress how much I support what John’s doing (as you can probably tell by all the posts). He’s taking his passion for motorcycling and music and doing something to really help people. Having lost someone close to me who was a registered organ donor, this cause hits close to my heart. Please, chip in to sponsor the tour, donate to the aid organizations, see one of the shows … and check that box on your driver’s license.

John’s tour kicks off on Tuesday, September 16th in St. Louis at Cicero’s St. Louis. A full listing of the shows is on the New Hearts MC website.

WorldOf2: Storage space is a precious resource on a motorbike, I know a lot of people that have trouble just packing clothes for a few days, you’re going much longer than that plus taking all of the things needed to perform. I assume you’ll have merch and your guitar any other music gear? How are you squeezing all this on to your bike?

John Velghe: I’ve done a few two-up camping trips of 10 days each. On those trips it was two people, our camping gear (including sleeping bags and tent for autumn in Colorado, stove, etc.), coffee, food, tools, and clothes. I’ve gotten pretty good at prioritizing what’s crucial and what can stay behind.

On this trip I’m not taking camping gear and won’t be bracing for cold nights at altitude. So this will be a little luxurious by comparison. I have a set of Mica Tech Pilot Cases, which are cavernous. I have a pretty big “top bag” that I mount on the back too.

I’m carrying my clothes and music gear and bike tools with me. A couple rolls of quarters take up a lot less space than clothes, so I’ll be doing laundry along the way. For gear, it’s pared down to an acoustic guitar, an Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina Microphone, a couple cables, a capo, and a tuner.

Wo2: Weather happens, how are you making sure things stay dry?

JV: The MicaTech cases and the top bag are water tight. For the guitar I have a sealed fiberglass case and I picked up a Jack’s Plastic Welding PVC bag that is build to put a guitar in for white water rafting. For me I have a rain suit.

Wo2: Do you have a contingency plan if you run out of merch mid-tour? Are you sending some in advance to the venues or will you rely on overnight shipping?

JV: HA! This tour was the reason I made the “design decision” to go with Digipak CDs instead of (breakable) jewel cases. My plan up until last week was to ship CDs and t-shrits to specific places in advance. My daughter lives in Philly, and good friends live in NYC, Durham and Nashville. I was going to set up shipping to those milestones and then ship back what wasn’t needed. However, a kind soul has made it possible to have Juj and Picco follow along in a car and carry merch. They’re going small too, and Picco required ample space to sleep, so I still have to carry my gear on the bike. But we’re saving the cost and wear and tear of shipping back and forth.

Wo2: Have you hooked up with any other riders that will join you for any of the riding? If not, are is that something you’d be interested in?

JV: I would LOVE to have some riders share a stretch. The whole point of this tour is about humanity connected with one another. That’s sort of what organ donation is, isn’t it? One human connecting with another at a cellular level. So the more people I can have ride along the closer it comes to the essence of the tour. If anyone wants to ride along for a segment they can contact me at my website johnvelghe.com and we’ll coordinate.

Wo2: I love the positive spin you’re putting on the “donor cycle” stereotype. Why did you choose transplant recipients and donors as the benefactors of the tour?

JV: I have a couple friends who’ve been affected by organ donation. One very good friend was never able to get an organ transplant. We all hoped it would happen and he’d be able to move forward in his second chance. Unfortunately he passed away a couple years ago before it could happen. Another friend is in consideration for the UNOS transplant list. And there are member’s of my community whose experiences with organ donation clarified beauty of the process.

Those are the things that lie at the heart of album’s title, Organ Donor Blues. Then there’s the idea that they call motorcyclists “organ donors.” Which in the one hand I say is just contemptuous bullshit and in the other hand I say “So what? Aren’t there worse legacies?” You know, not all organ donors are dead people. There are plenty of people who’ve donated their organs and live to see the beauty of watching someone have a second chance. It’s a beautiful gift, and you don’t have to die to give it.

And anyone who gives of themselves is, in my estimation, an organ donor.
So the title of the album, my friends, and a deep and abiding internal sense of “kiss my ass” made me realize this is something worth doing. If it can help the cause of organ donation and organ transplant recipients specifically, or even just spread the word of the idea of doing something for reasons outside yourself, giving of yourself, then that’s all I really want to come of it.

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