Triumph Over Blogging


You may have noticed a shortage of posts recently. With this post, I’m back to flogging the keyboard. And I begin with an explanation.

In April I upped my commitment to motorcycling and purchased a new mount – a Triumph Thunderbird 1600. With plans to do some motorcycle touring this summer, I realized that I could use a little more torque and horsepower than my Honda 250 Rebel could provide. Ahem.

Triumph Thunderbird 1600

I have the good fortune of living within a mile of one of America’s best-selling retailers of one of Great Britain’s most enticing exports: the Triumph line of motorcycles. Though the temptation to make frequent visits proved irresistible, I managed for a couple of years to restrain my impulse to “gear up.” Then, in April, Triumph rolled in their 2011 demos. This was my chance to see what I really thought of the Triumph America that had me drooling. I rode it and liked it. Of course. Then I rode the Speedmaster and decided there wasn’t much difference between them. Somebody suggested I ride the newly-released Triumph Thunderbird Storm. Okay, why not?

Why not, indeed! The America quickly dropped from the radar. In other words, the 1700 cc displacement of the Storm blew the 860 cc powerplant of the America right out of my mind. Literally within seconds of starting out on the Storm, I knew it was too good to be true. I would have to “settle,” now, for the America while dreaming of a Storm receding on the horizon. The Storm was just too much bike for too much money.

Out of curiosity, I jumped into the saddle of the Thunderbird 1600, the “base model” Thunderbird. The difference in torque was significant, but it had a lot of the virtues of the Storm. And the price was a bit lower. Not low enough for my wallet, though.

2010 Triumph America

So I went home to study up on the America, hoping I could be persuaded that it was the right bike. Along the way, I made the mistake of reading reviews of the Thunderbird 1600, introduced in 2009. This Triumph was uniformly trumpted as the crusier to turn heads. In 2009 and 2010, it was judged best cruiser on the road in North America.

Meanwhile, back at SoCal Triumph, they were lowering the price on the 2010 Thunderbird 1600 to make room for the new 2011’s. Jay, their chief salesman, was by now a familiar face. He could read me pretty well. My commitment to the America had grown tentative. To his credit, Jay never pressured me to go for the T-bird. But he did see me gravitating in that direction. And he did tell me that in addition to the special they were running on the 2010, they would include a windscreen, a touring seat, and a sissy bar and pad in the price. The only thing that didn’t resonate with me (still doesn’t) was the concept of a sissy bar. But that wasn’t a deal-breaker. The only remaining question was what 2010 Thunderbirds they had in stock. I was in luck. There was one blue bike in the inventory, with a wide white stripe garnishing the tank and fenders.

I immediately realized that I would find a way to crunch the numbers in favor of the Thunderbird. This would take some time and effort. Intense concentration would be required. I would have to put a hold on blogging for a few days.

A few days. That was in April. So why so long getting back online?

I bought the Thunderbird, that’s why. And a new Thunderbird has to be broken in. You understand.

Now, 3500 miles later, I’m back to check in here. And since the next best thing to riding is talking about riding, here I am talking about the new ride. I’m sure future posts will report on specific rides. Here I’ll just note that a week ago I returned from a five-day, 1500-mile jaunt up the California coast and back. For the past week I’ve been scheming and planning. Mid-July I hope to be back on a northerly bearing, this time with Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula as a destination. The trip will include numerous visits with friends and family, some camping, and lots of great riding.

I’m already thinking about future trips. A guy’s got to justify his guilty purchases! Maybe some day my travels will bring me to your door, every bone in my body vibrating, a sleeping bag in my tingling hands, asking the favor of a roof over my head.

Note:

I didn’t see a single other Triumph on the road during my recent coastal tour. Lots of Harleys, though. I’m happy to report that Harley riders have been remarkably friendly. I won’t say they’re jealous. I might think it, but I definitely won’t say it. I’m outnumbered about a million to one.

Proficient Motorcycling


The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well—That’s exactly what this book is. Proficient Motorcycling, by David L. Hough, is good in so many ways. My copy arrived from Amazon yesterday and I’ve read about 100 of its nearly 300 pages. Everyone who rides should own this book and refer to it often. Read more of this post

Top 10 Reasons for Motorcycling


The other day, Barry Corey—President of Biola University—caught me leaving my office holding a motorcycle helmet. He asked me about it and I gave him the first answer that came to mind: “I walk to work, and it’s gotten more dangerous than it used to be.” (Biola is in La Mirada, which is in Los Angeles County.)

The truth is, I don’t walk to work and I do ride a motorcycle. Oh, and La Mirada is a pretty safe place.

But why ride a motorcycle?

Here are ten of my own reasons:

  1. Parking. Shopping the Brea Mall at Christmas, attending the Biola University commencement, and showing up late for work can be sources of panic because open parking spaces are nonexistent. With a motorcycle this is not a problem. Many parking structures now have specially reserved parking for motorcycles. And here’s the real kicker: they are often located immediately adjacent to the handicap parking! How ironic is that?
  2. Praying. Motorbiking improves your prayer life. It adjusts your priorities, so that praying becomes serious business. Instead of praying for a space in the mall parking structure, you learn to pray for survival.
  3. Vanity. No, I don’t mean the vanity displayed by so many motorbikers who look and ride like the biker’s version of the runway model. I’m talking about the vanity of life, the Ecclesiastes kind of vanity. Riding can reinforce the counterbalancing impressions of power to pursue your dream and confronting the fragility and brevity of life, both at the same time. This is biblical.
  4. Adrenalin. Chemical Structure of AdrenalinAlso called epinephrone, adrenalin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that is instantly activated in situations perceived as dangerous, creating a feeling of euphoria—an “adrenalin rush.”
  5. No seatbelts. This is one of the first things that struck me (I know, bad choice of words) when I took up motorcycling.
  6. Antinomianism. I’m not talking theology here. I mean something more general, namely, antinomianism as opposed to hyper-legalism. Some traffic laws simply don’t apply to motorcycles and their riders. For example, there is no seatbelt law, riders are legally entitled to split lanes, and there is practically no danger of being pulled over for violating the cell phone law that requires using a headset. Question: How many times have you seen a motorcycle cop ticketing a biker?
  7. No qeues at stop lights. First, because of the gear ratio on a motorcycle, there’s a greater chance of being the first at a stop light (if, indeed, you aren’t able to streak across the intersection just in time—legally, of course). And if you come upon a ten-car backup in three lanes at a traffic signal, you can use the special lane reserved for bikers, approximately four feet wide, and lined by parked vehicles (otherwise known as “cages”), waiting interminably for the opportunity to cross the intersection. Yesterday, a driver actually moved over slightly to allow me room to slip between cars and trucks. (Tip: to take full advantage of this benefit, the smaller the bike, the better. A Honda 250 Rebel is ideal.)
  8. Greater head protection in case of accidents. How many drivers wear helmets in their cars? Now, how many bikers where helmets? I rest my case.helmet-law-map
  9. Fraternity. The most notable symbol of this is the wave. Bikers, when passing each other going opposite directions, give each other a wave. If you want to understand this better, check out the five-minute YouTube video by Mordeth13 here.
  10. Joie de livre. This is a French concept perfected by Harley Davidson, Triumph, and Ducati.

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I Like Living in California


I like living in California. There—I said it. And I found myself thinking it a lot yesterday. This was something of a surprise to me. I was born here and have lived here most of my life. I lived for six years in Mexico as a teenager. I went to college out-of-state. And I taught for two years in Indiana. So you might expect me to be partial to California. But if there’s any region I’m partial to, it’s the Great Pacific Northwest, especially western Washington. Read more of this post

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