Monday, October 29, 2007

Garmin RIP

Picture: Lisa checks Garmin to see how much longer we have to ride in Canada
Garmin may be the brand name of the leading manufacturer of GPS devices but to me Garmin is the 2620 with the British English voice that tells me to take the third exit in the roundabout. Garmin was my 2620. Garmin was stolen out of my car last night; Garmin's gone; long live Garmin. It will probably show up on Ebay in a day or two. Some unsuspecting sole will be the high bidder on an usually low priced GPS, only to discover that their new acquisition has no code with it, it will never be upgraded again.

Locked inside Garmin’s little onboard computer are hundred’s of waypoints saved over the past 5 years. A trip of a life time is in there, right alongside a great little cafĂ© in the White Mountains, and a diner in Maine, Irene’s house, Krispy Kream’s in Spokane, and a little motel in Hungry Horse, Montana Maybe the buyer will plug it in and take my road trip, but not likely. They will more likely find their way to work or a soccer game or there little trips of a life time. I hope that is where Garmin ends up and not in the trash.

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with Garmin. It would lead me astray sometimes; take me off the highway when I wanted to go fast or land me in Montreal traffic during rush hour. But it would also find me a room after a 600 mile day, gas when the light had been on too long, lunch when I was in the middle of no where. I got a giggle out of seeing top speeds of 214 mph, but a little pride when it was 92.2 for my 20 years K75.

Garmin has been my riding companion for 5 years, and I’m going to miss it. Godspeed Garmin, I hope you have a good trip.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Follow up Review: REV' IT Gear

I've had several inquiries lately about my experience with my REV'IT Angel Jacket and pants. Here is the follow up review after a season's wear. See original review here.
What's wrong with this picture? Look closely now. Oh, you can't really see it. What is wrong is that I have a $500 riding suit on that needs to be covered with rain gear. This did not make me happy. No offense to my First Gear rain gear, it performed flawlessly, always does, just remember to bring it with you! What makes me unhappy is that my REV'IT is about as effective fending off rain as a 16 year old fending off advances on prom night. But don't hit return quite yet; because if you don't need hours of wet weather protection, or you already own decent rain gear, REV 'IT has many redeeming qualities. Depending on what type of conditions you ride in, it may be perfect for you! Read on:

I recognize that one jacket can not be all things in all weather. When the weather is going be above 85 for most of the trip, having a mesh jacket along is invaluable. I am so glad I decided to pack my Joe Rocket. The Angel jacket has acceptable vents, good in the back, small in the front. The front vents are very difficult to work with gloves on, as you are given a tiny tab, more suitable for a necklace, to work with. The optimal temperature range for the Angel jacket is 55-80. Heat Grade: B+
The pants have no vents, but they have a slight mesh quality about them. I felt that the temperature range for the pants was much the same as jeans would be 70-80. I’ve worn the pants between 45-106. I had a real problem with humidity. The lining of the pants sucked onto my legs, almost immobilizing me; I could barely throw a leg over the bike because the pants where pasted onto my legs. I learned that this could be avoided by adding a layer, be it a thin yoga pant or as others have suggested, silkies. But think about it…the hotter it gets the less you want to have more clothes on, but you have to! There were times we checked into our hotel rooms and I just ripped the pants off, I was so hot in them.
I was chatting with a man at a coffee stop near Glacier. He had the men’s version of the same pants. He said he has never had a problem with the lining sticking. My thought is that a man’s hairy leg keeps the lining at bay. Do I need to go Euro? Heat Grade: B-

The jacket has a zip out quilted liner. I find that I remove the liner at about 70 degrees. I add another layer, a Gerbing electric jacket at about 55 degrees. I turn on my electrics at 50 degrees. If you do the bulk of your riding in the 55-80 range, this jacket is going to be flexible enough for you.
I like the adjustable collar feature, especially when I layer. I can still snap the collar with the Gerbing collar up or with a wind triangle on. If your riding position is bent over, a wind triangle is a nice addition to keep the air from shooting down your coat. Cold Grade: A
Like the jacket, the pants have a zip in quilted liner. The range in which I use the quilted liner is smaller than the coat because you can’t really wear electrics with the quilted liner, it’s one or the other. In mild weather, I add a pair of thin cloth pants, and that is fine until about 55. Around the 50-60 mark, the quilted pants are very cozy. Below 50 I’m replacing the quilted liner with my Gerbing electric pants, plus the cloth pants layer. Cold Grade: A

Jacket & Pants
The lack of protection from the rain is the biggest disappointment of this gear. True you don’t need to suit up if it’s misting or light passing sprinkles, so it’s more water resistant than say…toilet paper. But if it’s raining for an hour or two, you’re getting wet if you forgot to bring your rain gear. Wet Grade: D

Before setting out on my trip, the weather in New Hampshire was cool and damp, so there was not a lot of testing done. When I did have the jacket on, it was usually with the quilted lining in place and/or I was on the K12GT. Both variables hid a problem that plagued me for my entire trip. With the quilted lining out, and wind swirling around me, the jacket billowed. I felt like I had an ill fitting life jacket on, at times the jacket was lifting up around my neck. I took to tying it back with a bungee cord, and even then it would creep up. It drove me nuts!! I had to sit on it to keep it down.
I feel that perhaps I have the wrong size coat and that is causing the problem. However, there are design issues that could have helped. The Velcro belt around the waist is ornamental; the belt does not tighten. It would be such an improvement if it had a synch cord on the inside, to stop the air from inflating it. This billowing does not happen when the lining is in or when I have full air on my chest, like on the K12. Fit Grade: D
I really like the fit of the pants. I feel comfortable walking around town with these on, nothing like being stuck wearing a ‘Stitch. They stay down over my boots nicely. I use the zippered pockets a lot. They are good at collecting bugs too. Fit Grade: A

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bonus Days

Lisa and I seldom ride in late October. It's seldom in the mid-70's in the late October. What a day for a ride. It was Lisa's idea to head to Pack Monadnock

I really enjoyed the 1.3 mile auto road, Lisa said it was scary how steep it was and especially when cars where coming down the hill around switch backs.

The color was still very good. At some points the canopy was a kaleidoscope of orange, reds, yellows and green, the color saturated by the low autumn sun.

After walking around the crowds on the mountain, we headed to Peterborough for some lunch and pictures. There couldn’t have been a bike in a garage in New Hampshire, everyone was out enjoying the sun, the color and tell tale smells of fall.

We stopped near Crotched Mountain for pictures. We finished the day with an ice cream stop near home. Life was good on such a bonus day!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ride to Work Day

I’m not much of a motorcycle commuter. First off, it does not save me a dime to take the bike. Seems I go through a tank each and every ride home. And gearing up and down adds 15 minutes to each side of an already long commute. Today was one of those days where the bike had a certain utility to it. The car is in the shop for tires and long overdue maintenance; the K75’s rear is in Kevin’s trunk, en route to Jim’s to be reunited with an ME 880; so I found myself commuting to work on the GT.

It is not the kind of day that screams “take the bike”. I rolled out of the garage and into the fog at 7:15. It is unseasonably warm, the air thick with mist. Not enough moisture to fuss with rain gear, even the REV’IT wear could fend off this weather. It’s a day I’d just as soon have slid into the leather seats of the Acura and zoned out to tape 9 of the book of the week.

I enjoyed being out there none the less. Not a bike to wave too, but plenty of quiet time on the long boring ride down the highway. It got me to thinking about the first time I commuted to work. I must have had all of a month of riding under my belt. It was a straight shot down the highway, but it seems liked the longest most harrowing 35 miles of my life! Well, maybe I exaggerate, but I recall my first impressions of highway driving: it was noisy (I hadn’t discovered earplugs) and the wind buffeted my head and bike about. I laugh now thinking about how cumbersome the K75 seemed to me back then, now it’s almost a natural extension of me. I also remember the sense of pride as I rolled into the parking lot at work that day, my hands only a little shaky. I had a bit of that pride today as I pulled the cover over my GT, hoping to keep it dry as I went inside. Commuting, even if the weather’s bad, on a bike is not a bad way to start the day.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What A Season!

It's the end of the MOA mileage contest. 6 months, April through October. 15,600 and something miles, not my highest mileage year, but certainly my best season ever!

I topped off my miles this weekend meandering the back roads of Cape Cod. The temps where high 50's, 100% sun but the days short, going dark at 6:00. Kevin and I headed to a family party at my aunt’s in Falmouth. We said our hello's, enjoyed some food but got antsy quickly. We made an impromptu decision to grab a hotel on the Cape so that we could do more riding Sunday; it was a very good idea! As with most of our trips this year, we really enjoyed our miles, making more stops, taking pictures…smiles not just miles this year.

We kicked off mileage season in April with a trip to Corning, NY. It was the weekend of the Rounder’s gathering and we had wanted to join them, but the thousand mile trip to Indiana was going to be all slab miles, have dinner, turn around and high tale it home. We both realized this was not how we wanted to spend our time. We’d already taken the Friday off, so we decided on the Corning trip. Remember the scored roter incident? Funny, how I forget about mechanical problems.

Late in May I enjoyed a day at the track at Loudon Int’l Speedway. I love the pictures I came home with and memories of opening the K12’s throttle on the backstretch. Check that off my list. I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Memorial Day weekend found us dodging the rain drops in Plattsburgh, NY. As we talked about this trip recently, Kevin had to remind me that it was raining that weekend. We had such fun hiking at Ausable Chasm, watching the Sox win a game while sitting in a New York sports bar and enjoying the riding in Upstate NY and Vermont. With the right state of mind, you make your own fun, no matter where you are.

Late June and July had Lisa and me on the road for our big trip. Big Big Big. 35 days, 25 states and 9,000 miles. Countless hours of planning. I don’t regret a minute of the planning and would strongly urge you to do likewise if you want to undertake your trip of a lifetime! The last week of our trip had the most glitches, and it’s not surprise it was the week that I planned out the least.

My miles slowed to second gear after I got home from the trip. It was a combination of things. It’s no easy task to come back to “the real world”. Completing such a big event left me blue, and being blue it no time to hop on the bike. And because I did not want to do any forced marches, I passed up many mediocre opportunities to get out on the bike.

I really left all of that behind me this weekend. I felt the joy of a newbie as I rolled down the hill Saturday morning. All my pent up frustration over missing the previous sunny weekends was gone. I was out, riding on my own, nothing to prove, no deadlines to meet; just me, my favorite bike and a gloriously sunny New England day. There couldn’t have been a better way to top off the odometer for another riding season.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Photo Contests

The Nashua Telegraph is running a photo contest. Readers are invited to submit a vacation photo for a chance to win a prize and be published in the paper. I enjoy entering these types of contests because I think have good material to work with this year. 35 days of vacation photo’s and I’m supposed to submit ONE?! Wow, that’s asking a lot.

I sent a handful of photos to the local drug store for prints (you have to submit a color print). I asked Lisa and Kevin their opinions about which to submit. I had my favorite. I also showed the candidates to a few people at work. Two photos come up as favorites. Of course their choice was limited by the few I presented. Who can select from 2,000! Maybe people would be more interested in my tourist shots of Ottawa rather than the wide open roads of Wyoming? But if every picture tells a story, the story I want to share is that of the open road.
Lisa looks for flowers
I’ll submit the open road picture, and Lisa will submit the Redwood Forest picture, technically the rules say one per person, not household. I hope they catch someone’s interest. I want to share our story with our neighbors!