Sunday, July 22, 2018

Coming up for air.... and breathe

We're both here everyone, it's been a busy Spring and Summer with very little, if any riding or writing.

Trobairitz's boss retired at the end of February, leaving her without a job after 17 years. We knew it was coming, but nevertheless it makes for some tough decisions. First thing was for her to seek employment, we've all done it, whether through necessity or by choice, but I can only imagine how daunting it is after 17 years. It is difficult to find employment in Corvallis, the major employers are Oregon State University, Samaritan Health Services, and Hewlitt Packard. The competition for these jobs is fierce, especially for a legal assistant competing against the health professionals and techies migrating to Oregon from Southern California.

So what is one to do?

Salem is Oregon's Capital, and home to Willamette University, a private liberal arts college of business and law.  What better place for a legal assistant to find employment than the State Capital?

And so it was, discouraged by multiple rejection letters in Corvallis, she applied for several jobs in Salem and was flooded with potential interviews to where she was turning them down.
A nice problem to have if you ask me.

Minto Brown Park in Salem

Union Street Railroad Bridge is one of two pedestrian and bicycle bridges that connects three Salem, Oregon, parks and more than 20 miles of trails
However, this creates a whole other quandary such as her commute. She went from a mere 3 mile commute to a 40 mile commute, thus an hour each way everyday. I know this is nothing for you city dwellers and interstate commuters, but this is a big change for a couple of small town folk like us. So we decided we'd just move to Salem, her commute would be shorter and mine would stay the same.

Would that it t'were so simple

We knew of someone that wanted to buy our house, so we made an agreement, set a closing date, contacted a realtor and started looking for a new abode in Salem. When we bought our current home in '06 the market was flat and we only looked at three houses before finding this one. Easy peasy. However, twelve years later the current market is very hot, and looking for houses is not as it once was. No longer does your realtor recommend homes for you to view, and you casually ponder your options, but you are to scourer the internet listings, find something you want to view, contact your realtor, have them set up an appointment, meet them there, and hope that it is still available. If by some miracle it is available and doesn't already have multiple offers, you view the home hoping it doesn't need updating, repairs or who knows what else. Not to mention does it even fit your needs, forget about wants and desires, this is a hot market and there are 6 other offers on the table so you better make it a good one. Ack!

We spent every spare waking moment we had perusing listings, emailing and texting our realtor, then driving up to Salem after work to look at houses. Many evenings skipping dinner, and getting home late; only to go to bed, get up early, go to work and do it all over again. Every house we looked at needed something, if it was within budget it was 60 to 70 years old, needed major renovations and updating, then at the top of our budget houses still needed work, and throwing more money at it going above budget only increased the size of the home. We're modest folk, and the two of us do not need 1800+ square feet. We visited 16 homes over a period of  2 months, in three completely different neighborhoods and we were running out of time as the closing date on our home was coming fast... something had to give.
Brandy found a listing for a house very similar to our very first home, which we liked the layout, so we made an appointment to view. It wasn't in Salem, but the commute was fair for both of us. Our realtor texted me later that day stating there were already two offers and would we like her to ask the seller to wait for us to see it. Sigh... yes, please have her wait, we'd like to see it.  It's in a desirable neighborhood, within budget, fairly new (2007) and less than 1300 square feet. We were up against 3 other offers, I haven't slept in weeks, this is house number 17, I'm done, let's do this.

We are under contact, and this is the first weekend we've nothing to do since May and I'm finally able to sleep again. I went for a ride Friday to drop off the earnest check at the title company, and took the long way home.

I actually sat in one of the windows of the covered bridge, listening to the babble of Ritner Creek and closed my eyes for a moment.

We still have the inspection, and are going to be busy for the next month packing then moving, painting and cleaning, but the stress of securing shelter has been lifted.

So we're still here, hopefully we can get a ride or two in this summer, maybe even a hike and some pics posted. We've haven't given up on our blogs, we've just been a little busy lately.

Change is good, new treks and adventure awaits.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Looking for gloves all the wrong places, looking for gloves in too many faces.

When we visit motorcycle shops we generally stroll through the showroom, straddle a bike or twelve, then amble over to the clothing and apparel department. Having a closet full of old jackets at home and a couple of Aerostich suits means that I rarely try on jackets anymore. I have a scuffed up pair of Aerostich AD1 pants and a beat up Tourmaster Transition jacket I wear for gravel rides and spontaneous round-about spills on my DRZ.

I am very happy with both pairs of my Sidi boots, especially my Discovery Rain ADV boots, so I'm not in the market for boots for a while.

Trying on helmets doesn't interest me much either as I have a long oval head, so I have a pretty good idea of what will and will not fit my oblong melon, the Arai Profile... or so I thought. Arai recently redesigned the Profile, renamed it Signet-X and it won't fit my head, but the Shoei Neotec modular does... now. I've been waiting years to try a modular helmet, well worth the wait. Love it.

Helmets and boots are the two things you want to try on and buy from your local shop to keep them in business. It would be nice to buy all our gear from local brick and mortar, mom and pop shops. The only problem with that is local shops have to carry what's popular and what sells, which is typically leather.

Hence the never ending search, and a lot of trial and error of ordering online for a good pair of vegan gloves, hell, I'd settle for a half decent pair. Sometimes you have to go cheap to get manmade materials, careful what you wish for...

I wrote to Joe Rocket recently, asking if they manufactured vegan gloves and I received a reply with a long list of "vegan friendly" gloves. I had my eye on the Joe Rocket Ballistic Ultra gloves and placed an order through Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.

I received the gloves within a few days, tried them on and accepted them for what they were, an inexpensive "vegan friendly" glove. I tore the packaging open, and tossed the gloves next to my helmet and the rest of my gear, not giving them much thought. I rode to work that week, grabbed the gloves to try them and accepted them for what they were, an inexpensive "vegan friendly" glove.

It wasn't until the weekend, when we went to coffee and a ride afterward that I discovered that they weren't as friendly as I was led to believe.

1% "Genuine Leather"
I found it interesting that if manufacturers are going to add leather to their gloves, even if it's only 1% it should be of the highest quality "Genuine Leather", as opposed to what.... imitation leather?

Leather is leather is leather, if it's synthetic then it's not leather, so I wish they'd stop calling it synthetic leather. I understand that leather unfortunately does come from different sources, such as a cow, a kangaroo, or a corinthian.

Although I've yet to meet a Corinthian.

I wrote back to Joe Rocket mentioning my disappointment, thinking that there was nothing I could do but turn a blind eye and keep the gloves. I received a reply letting me know that the representative that I emailed originally no longer worked for Joe Rocket and if they may be of some assistance. Now I've worked in customer service most of my career, so I know to ask what the customer wants and then offer them what you can do. I told them that I had worn the gloves and tossed the packaging, believing that these were truly vegan friendly gloves, however I would accept a full refund from Rocky Mountain.
Expecting nothing, I was surprised when I received a reply stating that is exactly what they would do. Really?!? I looked up the email address of whom I was corresponding with to find it was Joe Rocket's distributor, Rocky Mountain's supplier. Return the lightly used gloves and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC would issue me a full refund and that would take care of everything on their end.
Now I don't know if they looked up my account and realized that I spend hundreds, if not into the thousands of dollars with RM ATV/MC, but wow that's customer service.

Prior to this I shared the list that Joe Rocket had originally sent me in a vegan group, and afterward had to go back and edit it stating that these gloves were not vegan after all. I suspect that a certain friend (even though it is rare that vegans have many friends) somehow discovered my dilemma and offered some help.

Don from 2Vegans2Wheels had a pair of vegan gloves he had ordered but were too small and offered to send them to me. Don is a tall guy so I was certain these gloves would fit, and they do. My search was over! What I didn't realize was how well constructed these gloves were and I immediately looked them up.

Motoport Racing Glove
Motoport also makes a winter glove, which I'll be ordering as soon as they come available. They also make jackets, pants, and suits. Although I'm a fan of Aerostich, they haven't been able to find a replacement for their discontinued vegan gloves...

Aerostich Vegan Gloves -

Motoport now fills that need, thanks Don...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New Year's Ride, Cline Butte and Beyond

You'd think I'd learn to follow my own advice and heed my own adage that "I only ride in temperatures higher than my age", but for some dumb reason I thought it a good idea to go for a Polar Bear ride, tradition and all that. I gathered up my gear, rolled the Tiger out of the garage and headed to coffee. Trobairitz was smart enough to stay home, where it was warm and dry... and warm.

Andy and Jeff were already there,  riding further than I did. Andy sent me a photo of the ice on his jacket from riding across the valley in the freezing fog.

Meh, we'll just sit at coffee until the sun breaks through and it warms up some. The sun really didn't break through, nor did it warm up some. If we were going to go for a ride, we were going to have to get out of this fog. I didn't want to take our usual route due to freezing fog, or ride very far to higher elevations with Jeff not having a windscreen on his DRZ. Instead we tootled out of coffee and it wasn't long before we could see wisps of blue sky and the sun trying to break through. I thought of a lookout point above town where we could get above the fog.

Above the fog 

Jeff and Andy

Clear enough to see Three Sisters

Speaking of Three Sisters, here you see the Twin Tigers

We chatted for a bit and headed back down the hill into the fog and out toward Albany via the backroads. Within a couple of miles we were out of the fog and enjoying the sunshine and balmy 37ºF (3ºC) temperature. Jeff had prior obligations (football game on tv maybe) so we meandered back to his place, then Andy and I went our separate ways back home. It wasn't much of a ride, but a ride nonetheless.

The following Saturday, Andy mentioned trailering the dual sport bikes out to ride Cline Butte OHV area between Sisters and Redmond on Sunday. I was up for it, as was our buddy Jim who happens to own a Yamaha TW200, a retired Team Oregon training bike. The funny thing is, Jim stands 6' something and can flat foot most any ADV bike, including his '06 Triumph Tiger (where Andy and I struggle to even touch on ours). Watching Jim tower over his little TW200 is a sight, but he managed very well and I actually had to work to keep up with him on my DRZ. Something about those fat tires floating over the rocky technical sections, whereas I had to methodically pick my lines.

Andy and Jim sizing up the little T-Dub

We plunked along a few trails trying to find the canyon we rode through last year. We didn't have a trail map, nor were there any left at the staging area, so were navigating on memory alone; needless to say we never did find the canyon, but had fun riding several of the trails. Eventually, Andy offered to trade bikes with Jim and he accepted. Now you got a short guy on a TW200 and a tall guy on a Husqvarna 450, they both fit their new steeds so much better and they were gone, hang on. We found a familiar trail and made it back to the rig for a bite to eat and loaded up before the sun set. Now for a two and a half hour drive home, thanks for driving Andy.

I then put in a full 40 hour work week, another 8 hours on Friday at Team Oregon all after coming off a bad cough over the holiday break, so I was whooped. The weather promised to be warm and dry this weekend, and I promised to take Jeff for a ride since he couldn't make it to Cline Butte with us. I've been meaning to find a gravel road from here to the coast, but just wasn't up for an all day ride. So we puttered along a familiar loop around the valley that Brandy and I have done before, and I did with Jeff for his DRZ maiden voyage.

Brandy wrote about our adventure yesterday on her blog.

Jeff received a GoPro Hero5 for Christmas so he's been learning how to video, edit, and post. It's sure nice to have your own cameraman tag along behind you.

Yesterday was a good day, I wasn't in a hurry, and I knew the route so I wasn't stopping to pull out the maps at every intersection. It was good to get Brandy out on the TW again, and get her and Jeff used to riding gravel roads in preparation for the Black Dog Rallies this year.

At least she knows what it feels like to lose her chain now, a minor setback, but we got her back and running soon enough. I was so glad that it wasn't at speed on the main road. We took it easy the rest of the way, sticking to gravel roads as best we could and keeping our speed down on the main roads. Note to self, pack more tools.

Glad it didn't break and punch the case, whew.

We were going to drive to the coast today, but I just needed a day off from obligations, honey do projects and other chores; I've ridden every weekend so far this year. I guess I'd better keep track of my mileage, at least on my bikes. Brandy's bike mileage may differ, cue maniacal laugh.

Starting Mileage 2018
Tiger - 63285
DRZ - 2297

I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.  John Muir

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Precision Maneuvering Clinic Photos/Video

I posted earlier about the Precision Maneuvering Clinic that Team Oregon hosted for instructors, and promised more photos as they became available. Of course Lucy and I were the most photogenic.

My fellow instructors, and friends:

Nice head turn boss man.

My favorite! Great expression Peter!

Ummm, sorry Stacy, you're going to have to crop me out of this one.

Hey Bandit Rider, check out that Connie lean!

Pat Hahn edited a video of the Precision Maneuvering Clinic, turn it up!

If you ever have the opportunity to take more training, please do. If you don't believe me, Geezer With A Grudge posted his experience with a very similar class. Coincidence?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Seeing Double DRZs

A former coworker (and personal friend), just traded his Kawasaki KLR650 for a much more manageable Suzuki DRZ400S.

When Jeff was originally looking for a bike, he told me he wanted something that would be suitable for riding gravel roads, yet comfortable enough for highway speeds and asked me for advice. I told him, if I were to own just one bike, it would be the Kawasaki KLR650. The Swiss Army Knife, or the Leatherman of motorcycles, a well rounded, do nothing well, but everything bike. That, and Jeff stands 6 foot something tall, so he could straddle it well enough. And so it was...

Jeff and his daughter on his then new KLR650

I rode with Jeff, and a couple other coworkers on the OBDR6 (Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route 6) back in July of 2016. Jeff has mentioned more than once how whooped he was riding that weekend, and how much that heavy KLR pig of a bike took out of him.

Me and my XT250 leading 3 KLRs on the OBDR6 (July 2016)

Jeff in hi-vis helmet playing sweep (July 2016)
While working with Jeff, he would mention his previous bikes in conversation, street bikes and cruisers. I suspected that he did not have a lot of off-road or gravel road riding experience, so I concluded that one reason he was so exhausted after that weekend ride was that he was fighting the bike. That, and he was suffering a hernia at the time, oh how familiar that sounds.

Turning the pigs around (July 2016)

During that ride I had my little Yamaha XT250; I bought the smaller bike on purpose, it had been several years since I rode bikes as a kid so I wanted to get used to a smaller bike moving underneath me. I also don't suffer from that little man, neanderthal mentality that bigger is better, or that I have to prove myself by riding the latest, greatest, biggest, baddest machine to come off the showroom floor. I have way more fun flogging smaller bikes than dragging big bikes out of precarious situations.

Since then, I've gained a little more experience and a lot more confidence riding that little XT250. I flogged that little bike to where I felt I could step up to something a little more road worthy, yet still single track dirt capable. Again, I don't possess the "go big, or go home" attitude and immediately dismissed the KTM 690 Enduro, or any KTM for that matter, the Honda XL650, and Suzuki's DR650.  I test rode the Suzuki DRZ400S during a Suzuki Demo day and fell in love. The DRZ400S was nearly as light as the XT250, slightly taller, and would be much more capable on the highway loaded down with camping gear. Perfect!

My first day on the DRZ400S, Black Dog Rally 2017

I still love the XT250 and highly recommend for learning to ride gravel roads, exploring trails or plodding around the woods. I would still have it if Trobairitz didn't have the TW200 in the fleet for me to flog at will. So I bought a DRZ400S and sold the XT.

Jeff quit his job, semi retired, and found part time work much closer to home. He'd ride his bicycle to work in the morning, ride home for lunch, then drag out his KLR to ride back to work for his afternoon shift. It wasn't long before he realized the KLR was just too big and heavy for quick jaunts to work, and for running errands after. Again he asked me for advice, finally someone who values my opinion and actually listens! He asked me about the DRZ, so I told him how light and nimble it was, how it had plenty of power, and made for a fantastic dual sport, but this time I added "not as an only bike". I explained that my intention was to put street tires on the Tiger, use that as a commuter, tourer, and for known gravel road jaunts. The DRZ is my explorer of unknown trails, single track OHV riding, bike camping, and Black Dog Rally bike. Exactly the same type of riding that he wanted to do too, and so it was...

Happy boy on his new DRZ400S

Now to get it dirty, which is quite difficult with Jeff, as he likes to keep his things tidy. We named his KLR "Dusty" in jest; we were out on a ride one day and he complained that his bike was dusty, I replied "that's a pretty name" and it stuck.

We set up a play date and I took him out on familiar logging roads around here to get him used to his new DRZ.

Wet and rainy ride, fogged up my camera phone

Jeff's bike on the left

He couldn't believe how much lighter, and more manageable it was over the KLR, not to mention how torquey the 400 was. We had much better weather the following week and set up another play date. I planned another gravel road ride of about a hundred miles to accommodate his schedule and his fuel tank. One short coming of the DRZ is its tiny 2 gallon stock fuel tank which is only good for just over a hundred miles. He bought a rear rack and a Rotopax gas can to overcome this problem, I have a 4 gallon Clarke Tank, but as I mentioned he likes to keep his shit tidy and isn't big into bike mods. Accessory or farkles are fine, modifications take much more convincing than I'm willing to invest.

So happy not to be hefting the KLR around

Proud Papa

The rain has returned, which means we spend more time on the computer than our bikes, which can be dangerous. Not physically, but financially; I did say he like his farkles. Our next play date is a garage day to install his Rox Risers, Oxford heated grips, and Cycra Handguards.

I'm glad he's having fun, and I have a Friday riding partner.

Now to find a rabbit hole to lead him down... ooooohhhhh Andy, wanna come out and play?

~  “Good Friends Don't Let You Do Stupid Things.. Alone”