Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How do you keep the motivation to ride?

It’s been a rough year – not that there’s been any issues at work or home. No deaths in the family. Hell, even the cat is hail and healthy, though she does talk too much, and I think she is a bit insane (read: a cat). Resultantly, according to her, nail trimming is verboten. And, since all of those claws are regularly sharpened on the scratching post, I don’t press the issue. Anyway, she doesn’t really do anything with them. The only problem is that our carpet is the “loop” variety, which means that whenever Twinkle Toes (not her real name) walks around, it sounds like living Velcro. At 4 a.m. this is a problem.

I’m getting to a point. Overall, life is pretty good, my only gripe, after all, is my cat. This means, of course, that when I say I've had a rough year... well, it’s related to motorcycles. Two major issues have arisen on the that front, and both can be traced back to climatological phenomena. The first I would like to discuss is the ice age. It's been a hell of a kick in the motivation.

            Random? Not really. Please know that I live in Kansas (Flatistan). About 400 billion years ago (according to my understanding of time) a big block of frozen detritus worked its way through the area. This frozen hulk worked as a monstrous planer, and ground down all traces of terrain. This left the area with endless horizons, beautiful swaths expansive sky, and four-hour sunsets with colors richer than a hippy-painted microbus. The subsequent year-after-year lifecycle of prairie grasses which lived and died in each other's humus for thousands of years produced fertile topsoil so we could plant our high-fructose syrup, animal feed, and sweet corn. It also produced the popular consensus shown in figure 1. I don’t have any idea what kind of scaling they use here, but I’d like you to note that Kansas hands-down clobbers both Nebraska and Iowa in terms of negative aesthetics. If you want to place a persona to these states, Nebraska might be the barrel-chested combover that lives down the block, where Kansas is, apparently, the toothless 60-year-old woman you saw at Wal*Mart that one time (even after you pledged never to return), she of the pink tube top and cigarette-and-sunburn creases. Additionally, Kansas is just as flat.

            This brings us to the problem – after living in Virginia, Germany, and even Minnesota, the idea of chucking a leg over the saddle and riding off into the right-angle world of Kansas b-roads for a look at sorghum and high-fructose corn syrup is... less than compelling. 


Figure 1 – completely accurate and unbiased information. Obviously.

Maybe you think my review of Kansas’s scenery is a bit brutal. After all, different strokes for different folks and all that. Some people love the scenery around here, I’m sure of that, and I concede that this is personal preference. Remember, this isn’t my poll, and for disclosure, I grew up on the plains. I like big skies and long sunsets, but in terms of motorcycling, it’s uninspired. It’s no Mecca. Nobody plans their big, yearly trip with the words, "I want to drive all day and see some corn!" The impression one generally gets when driving through Kansas is that the Grand Landscaper who drafted this state “phoned it in...” maybe before a long weekend. It feels like someone grabbed a topographical map from some uninspired county (this could be from any of the plains states) then proceeded to stick that county into a photocopier and went for a long lunch. After laying the pages end to end, it was dubbed a state. So yeah, the first half of this last year, rough from a motorcycling perspective, comes down to the ice age and how it kicks motivation square in the balls.

The other half of this, part 2, is probably pretty obvious… climate change – which is, as a topic, a real “slippery fish.” Roughly one year ago (when I became too busy with my job to devote any time to this site) I wrote about my beliefs and convictions apologetically, taking inoffensive stances. However, in this case – or maybe from here on out – that’s not the plan, because in the humble words of my father, “Piss on it.” I believe climate change is “the real deal.” If you don’t agree with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, take it to a message board somewhere and leave it out of the comments. I don’t have time for it. It's summed quite well in the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, "The great thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not."  

OK, I'm done. I think I just crushed my soapbox under the weight of my own ego anyway.

I get part of it, though, the argument, because for any single phenomenon, say a heat wave, is open to debate. Is this climate change? Honestly, who the hell knows. What I do know is that when we arrived in Kansas last year we slogged through a solid month of days in excess of 98 degrees, with the bulk of those days reaching beyond 100. Here I was, fresh back from Deutschland, ready and eager to get on the road and chew up miles like I had done back in Virginia – at least 15,000.

So, in spite of everything, the scenery, the heat, and with absolutely nowhere to go, I fired that red bastard up and headed to the grocery store. Now, the ’09 Kawasaki Concours is not known for its heat dissipation. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The Connie does a great job of getting the heat away from the motor, the problem is where it puts it. I’ve mentioned this before, but the airflow on this thing is straight-up, infomercial. You know – iron your pants while you’re still wearing them. The sun felt like spiders of blisters crawling up my hands and arms. It was an open convection oven.

            I know, bitch bitch bitch – right? Tell me again, ye poor Kansan… how bad is it? Oh, thou, with thine pitiful lamentations... ye of the 104 degrees, please speak directly into mine arse, for we have it much worse here in Pheonix… here in Houston it’s… here in (name your location). Fine. I get it. But after dealing with that shit for a month. With the flat and the heat, the wind... and the drought  which left nothing but husks of brown, well, it was rough. Some of you crazies out there, I don't know how you do it. How do you stay so excited? Tell me, cause I'm not lying, around here it’s been rough, and here’s what’s on tap for the next few days.


Figure 2 – completely correlative and controvertible proof of climate change.
           
Last year did some longstanding damage, too. When spring showed up, I was left gun shy and busy (well, busy-ish). So, I rode a handful of times and neglected to do spring maintenance. This, in turn, kept me from riding even on the nice days Jeez, I really shouldn’t ride this thing without changing the oil… To top it all off, I got fat. Well, fat-ish. I hadn’t gained appreciable weight since my first semester of college, at which point I broke 140 on the scale for the first time in my life. Then I turned 30, and parts began to look more like wet laundry than washboard. So, any motorcycle time was suddenly devoted to bicycle time… and still, the maintenance needed to be done.

            Well, I finally got to it – the maintenance, and finally got some riding in. And I remembered why I enjoyed riding so much. But that forecast. Seriously. How do you keep your motivation up? 

28 comments:

  1. Brady:

    we missed you. Glad you are okay and breathing, for a while we were worried.

    I learned something new this year and

    "It is what it is ! "

    Now, go for a ride . . .

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    1. Heya Bob! It's hot as hell here right now. Took a short ride last night after doing all the maintenance on the Beemer... currently I have to take a shower every time I get behind the bars, otherwise I smell like a dog with a glandular disorder.

      Great to hear from you!

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    2. Heya Bob! It's hot as hell here right now. Took a short ride last night after doing all the maintenance on the Beemer... currently I have to take a shower every time I get behind the bars, otherwise I smell like a dog with a glandular disorder.

      Great to hear from you!

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    3. Brady:

      I just returned from a cross Continent ride from the Pacific - Atlantic - Pacific. Many days were in the 100°F range + humidity across Iowa, SD, IL, UT, NV and CO, and we had to take two showers a day wearing full ATGATT.

      that's why I said, " It is what it is ! "

      It's the same with rain. You can't just lock yourself up and look out the window. To ride or not to ride, it's all okay. Don't obsess over it. Ride when you can and enjoy life

      good to have you back

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast

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  2. I too join Bobskoot in rejoicing (mildly I must admit)upon your return to the blogosphere.

    As to remaining motivated in the face of hot weather, it's pretty tough. I have skipped days of riding, when the weather was sunny and hot, because riding ATGATT virtually guaranteed a miserable experience.

    Now that I work downtown however, ride I must and in the heat dodge the usual unseeing and uncaring cagers. I dug out my evaporative cooling vest and it helps somewhat. We in the Denver Area are also expecting several more days in the 90s (nothing like you Kansans but hot enough) so we'll see how that vest helps or not.

    My motivation? Getting near the mountains drops the ambient temperature by a good 20 to 30 degrees at times. One only has to suffer the transit from the Front Range (classified as High Altitude Desert), survive the onslaught of millions of cagers also trying to get to the mountains, to enjoy cooler air. The problem of course is that one must return to said oven-like conditions in order to return home at the end of the ride, usually in the hottest part of the day of course.

    As to the lack of scenery, sure you may be a bit "lacking" in mountained majesties but as Scooter in the Sticks' Steve Williams would say, you can find something worth photographing if you look hard enough. Easy for me to say I know but take heart in this, Summer is almost over!

    Wishing us all cooler weather, and hoping the Farmer's Almanac is correct in that it's going to be a long and extremely cold Winter.....

    dom


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    1. Oh, and don't forget, we here in Colorado are a whole MILE closer to that hot sun.....just saying.

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    2. Hey Dom, I was thinking of you - was hoping you'd show up. Sounds like your motivators are largely things I do not have access to. Tough nuts to me, I guess. I'm going to shoot you a message on the side here - so, don't worry about my lame reply!

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  3. Welcome back, you were missed. I assumed that you ventured out into the Kansas sun one too many times. I was in Kansas once during heavy rain (doing field work where we needed less than 30% cloud cover naturally) and the whole state flooded by a couple of inches. The water didn't seem to be flowing anywhere as there didn't seem to be a natural "down slope" direction. And unlike Charlie6, hopefully it won't be a record setting long and extremely cold Winter.

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    1. smallest amount of snow and wake up to 12.8 foot drifts. I got windburn so often here I thought I had a skin disorder. And yes, we tend to flood, we also tend to blow away, and tend to drought. It's a great place to be.

      I personally hope for something nice - an extended fall, perhaps. I've got no high hopes, the weather blows in so damned fast that we tend to jump 20 degrees in a day or so.

      I'm glad to hear from you, by the way. It's been strange to be away, but now that I've got some free time I felt compelled to write more.

      B

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  4. I have been to Wichita several times. Enough said.

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  5. I have been to Wichita several times. Enough said.

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  6. Welcome back. I guess everybody's idea of great riding is different. If I'm figuring your map correctly, the darker the state the worse the riding scenery. As much as I like CA and the west coast, Nevada is still my all time favorite. I love dessert/middle of nowhere! My second would be Idaho. I do feel your pain though. Much of western MN is all corn or beans, same with parts of central WI. Up here in the north all I can see are trees, nice but after 100 miles they all look alike...

    Oh, and our cats use a piece of log from their "cat furniture" to sharpen their claws on. Manly cats!

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    1. Erik, I think you're probably some sort of enigma. I like the plains for a while, the thing is - they just keep going. I love seeing the sun track in the sky late at night, but trying to find good roads you want to ride over and over, well, that's one whale of a challenge.

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  7. Motivation is personal but there are always tricks to lure yourself into motion. I've driven through Kansas in a VW Campmobile and can attest to the right angles but it definitely isn't level. You find that out in any sort of underpowered vehicle.

    Maybe you need a bigger challenge. Life on a Concurs or BMW is far too cushy. Get yourself a 50cc scooter and take a 50 mile ride. Commit to writing poetry along the road, introducing yourself to five strangers, practice sketching, and generally try everything you have never tried. Within reason. Just create some arbitrary guidelines outside your comfort zone and go. Don't wait for motivation. Go look for it.

    During those experiments something will click. Motivation comes to the motivated. If you build Kansas into a nightmare that's all it will give you...

    Don't be a child of the corn!

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

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  8. That was my two cents by the way. All opinion with little data to back any of it up aside from my own experience...

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

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    1. Steve, I completely get it. Unfortunately I have this tendency to slow down and wind up losing focus. Also, the heat is a real kick in the balls. There is, however, quite a bit of excitement brewing around here as of late. Can't get into details now, but could be a huge source of motivation.

      Anyway, thanks for the kick in the ass. I think I needed it... I've been too stagnant. It's easy to blame the weather, but you're right. It's on me.

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  9. Excellent to hear from you Brady, even if it is to bitch a little. It is necessary now and then. My advice to you? Cooling vest! The kind that you soak in water for a couple minutes, water resistant on the inside so you don't get too wet.

    Or a lady I once rode with froze a shirt and kept it on ice in a cooler on the bike. Mid-day break she changed into that one. If you like cold on a hot day those are the tickets. Sounds like you need to get the beemer on some dirt roads and make some noise in those sorghum stalks. :)

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    1. I think I could look into carrying 10 gallons of water wherever I go. That might be the best. Just soak everything then ride some more. Over 95, though, seems like it doesn't much mater. Dom over from redlegsrides offered a solution - a portable AC unit, but I'm not quite ready to pony up twelve hundred smackaroos for that little devil just yet.

      God, I wish I knew more about offroading. Where the heck do you live? I need some lessons. Seriously, everytime I leave the asphalt I get a bit nervous. I think this state would be a great place to roll offroad, though.

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  10. I can relate to the terrain monotony since I'm a northern Indiana straight line flatlander rider. I know every single road in my county that has even the slightest hint of a hill or curve, but this summer has been unseasonably cool thus giving all the conservative climate change naysayers an opportunity to say, "Climate change, what climate change?" I just point out the fact that we've had more derecho wind storms in the last two years than in all the previous 50 years combined, and if you ride a motorcycle through one of them believe me you'll remember it forever and make you religiously check the weather forecast for your ride, even if it's just commuting 7 mi. to work. I still can't believe I lived through that experience.

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    1. Well, Julie, if I'm blunt I've been through Indiana and it's one of the states I can't really remember. Aside from Indianapolis, of course, which is surrounded by the circular race track of interstate. That's fun.

      Please, stay safe out there. Get alerts on your phone if you need them, but stay safe. I'm pretty freaked by big storms, too. I just don't need that in my life. Around here, springtime, they show and it seems like something is always being destroyed. Thank god for insurance.

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  11. Have you thought of moving? Again.

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    1. Thought about? Of course. Can I? We'll see. Not just yet, though getting closer to the mountains would be a hell treat. Or, closer to family. Closer to anyone I know with a motorcycle, really. If I weren't such a social moron, maybe I'd have made some friends here and would have that much more motivation to get out there and do some riding.

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  12. Maybe you should just move. Kansas isn't for everyone and apparently it isn't for you. Leaving is ok, but if you are staying, probably need to nut up and shut up. This state is not for the weak of heart.

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    1. Hmm. Point well taken, at least you're right about this state not being for the weak of heart. Seems like there's some tough bastards around here who find motivation where I do not. The wind, heat, dust. It can be pretty unforgiving.

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  13. OK, no excuse now: http://www.bikeairusa.com/

    :)

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  14. I didn't realize you were back!

    Down here on the Texas Gulf Coast, I just do not ride in the summer. Fortunately, we don't have winter, so riding season is about to start (last couple of weeks of September, hopefully), and it goes into April, with maybe a couple of days in May if we're lucky.

    And yes, climate change it the real deal, but also, yes, one hot year is only anecdotal evidence.

    Since my riding consists exclusively of commuting, I really don't care about the scenery. Overpasses are hills, right?

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  15. P.S., my bike is out of commission anyway. The rear sprocket is completely shot. I have a new one to install, but the garage is too hot. Maybe I'll get up early Saturday and get it done. Since the highs are only in the low 90s, it isn't too bad really. I'm really looking forward to the day when the 10-day forecast shows a low below 70, but it hasn't happened yet.

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