Sep 24, 2016

Back In the Saddle Again...

What a year it's been. Started the year with high hopes of accomplishing a list of things, some motorcycle related and some not - being more dedicated to posting here; getting more involved in promoting motorcycling; vlogging; writing (outside of this blog); reading the whole bible; learning some new skills; etc.

In February, the day after my birthday, my world was turned upside down. Out of the blue, everything changed. What used to be important wasn't any more. And things that didn't seem important came to the front. After coming to grips with the situation and regrouping, it was time figure which way was up again.

I will admit my situation was no where near as bad or tragic as it could have been. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am for that.

It took me a few months to get things back on track. I finally feel like things are settling in to place. Slowly I've been  putting my goals into action. I doubt I'll get them all in place before the end of the year. And that's okay.

So here it is, time to get back into the saddle, both more on the motorcycle and on the blog.

A few weekends ago, I got to take a ride with my wife - which was awesome for several reasons. We'll talk more about that in the next post. In the meantime, a couple pictures to enjoy...




Feb 3, 2016

Smart Turn System

A thread through the motorcycle class I teach is risk awareness, risk taking and risk mitigation. We're often talking about making making yourself visible and always communicating your intentions. At some point, the topic of turn signals comes up. I talk about using the signals to let others know what you're doing. And, possibly more importantly, canceling the signal when you're done.

How many times have you been driving down the road and see someone who's left their signal on? When you first see them, you're waiting for them to make their move. Eventually you realize they're not going to do anything, not even cancel their signal. At some point, you probably even start ignoring them.

As motorcyclists, we don't ever want other roadway users to start ignoring us. I believe leaving your signal on is a good way to have this happen. So, in class, I try to emphasize using the turn signals when you're going to make a turn or lane change and to cancel them when you're done with your maneuver.

In my never ending quest for motorcycle technology that help make us safer, I came across Smart Turn System (STS).

The device monitors several inputs, including speed and lean angle, determines when you've completed your "turn" and will cancel the signal.

My Road King will cancel the signal after making a turn using lean angle sensors. For lane change maneuvers, or even straight-line riding, it will use a distance measurement to cancel the signal.

Ultimately, my bike will already cancel the signal after a turn or a lane change, much like the STS will cancel the signal as well. The big difference is the STS is smarter in that it "senses" when the turn or lane change has been completed and will cancel the signal based on that.

STS has a beta program and, of course, I've already signed up. Although I never got a response email, so I am a little concerned. The beta program is supposed to kick off in March 2016. So if you're interested, head over to their site and sign up.

Obviously if I get in the beta program, I'll share my impressions with you, in accordance with the beta program guidelines. If you get in, let me know...

Jan 23, 2016

Heads Up Display Contest

Being an avid motorcyclist and instructor, I've always been interested in technology that can help keep us safer on the roads. Of particular interest has been the recent boom in helmet technology. I've heard people already saying that adding this technology will be more distracting to the rider. But, like anything, if it's used properly, it will actually make the rider safer.

Skully first caught my attention with their helmet. There's probably some debate on whether they were the first "smart" helmet or not. They've probably been the most vocal and most successful in getting their helmet recognized and to market. They've combined some neat technology, like 180° rear view, navigation and voice commands.


Next on my radar was Fusar. I was pretty excited about their technology and actually got close to being a beta tester with them. Follow up discussions said they had issues with the company they hired to assist with their beta program and it didn't go as they expected. In the end, they approached the "smart" helmet a little differently. They're giving you an action camera with some additional, cool features; like navigation, communications and an emergency response system. I really like the idea of the emergency response system because, when it detects a crash, will alert emergency responders as well as your loved ones.

Others that have gotten a little attention from me include NUVIZ, BikeHUD and LiveMap. All add their own twist on helmet technology and attempts to make the rider safer.

The latest to throw their hat into the ring, and probably most exciting is BMW. Most exciting because a big name, with money and staying power, is making its way into the "smart" helmet market. To me, this means others will follow.

BWM is working with DigiLens to make the heads up display. DigiLens has an extensive background in optical displays, which lends itself well to BWM's application in a HUD helmet. Better yet, instead of either or both companies going off on their own and developing what they think will be the best HUD for a motorcyclist, they're opening up a design contest for anyone to submit their ideas. It's not to say they couldn't or wouldn't be able to design an awesome system; it's that they're open to soliciting ideas from the ends users.

So, here's your chance to tell them what you think. Head over to the DigiLens contest site and design your own HUD. They give you three scenarios and many options to add to the display.

What can you come up with? Here are my designs.



Jan 10, 2016

Ray Price Racing Team Announces Retirement

I read yesterday I read that the Ray Price Racing team is retiring... I was sad but not surprised. Immediately I thought back to the times I got to see Ray Price, his bike and the racing team.


I got in to motorcycling too late to actually see Ray at the throttle. But where the race or the bike, you could be sure to see Ray there, actively involved in all aspects of the race.

The first time was in 2005 at the AHDRA (now defunct) in Rockingham. I rode with the Raleigh HOG club and the race was quite an experience. I remember sitting on the concrete seats, listening to the deafening noise as the bikes took off and the stands shook. I never realized those bikes could produce so much noise and power. Amazing.

During events at the Capital City Bikefest, Ray and his crew would fire up the nitro bike. In downtown Raleigh you could feel the building shake for blocks around. Before firing up the bike, the crew would carefully inspect and prepare the bike. Ray was very focused on making sure everything was in place before having the bike fired up.

But when he wasn't occupied the the bike or racing, Ray would take the time to talk to you about anything you wanted. The race team, the bike, motorcycles, anything under the sun. He was never too busy to say hi. And he always had a smile.

Not sure if I'll go to another drag race, Ray Price was my big reason to go. If I do, I know it will be impossible to watch without thinking of Ray and his team...



Jan 1, 2016

64380


Starting off the year with 64380 miles on the bikes this year. Means I only put on a little more that 4k last year - sad! Seems I did the usual about of riding at the beginning of the year but had a bit of a dry spell around fall. Weather was good, just wasn't out in it on two wheels too much.

Normally, today I'm looking forward to the trips I'll be taking this year - the usual trips like the Ride for Kids, Rolling Thunder, The Smoke Out, the mid-year instructor update, etc. I'm still looking forward to the travels ahead. However, I'm not sure where the roads will take me this year. I"m leaning less towards the trips I always go on and more towards finding new roads and destinations.

There's talk about riding the Blue Ridge Parkway with my father-in-law and uncle. I've talked about it before, I've ridden parts of it before, but ever the whole thing in one trip. That's still a goal of mine.

I also enjoy and look forward to riding with my son. He's great to travel with and always brings a different perspective.

Most of all, I'd love to take a trip with my wife. It's been a while since we've been on a trip together. I know my bike isn't the most comfortable for her. And if we go for any length of time, there's always the issue of packing. She's a good sport about paring down what she takes but we still end up packing the bike to the gills! Then there's the destination. Where to head out on the bike for a couple days? That she would want to go... On the Road King...

Regardless, he's too remembering a good year of riding and looking forward to the roads ahead...

Oct 22, 2015

Riding in the Mountains

It's been a long,long time since I've posted. Here's a little of what's been taking my time...



Jul 19, 2015

Riding in the Rain

Been doing lots of riding, just not much posting. Let's see if I can get back into the hang of things again. Maybe even catch up on some previous rides...

Yesterday I head out in the morning to do a QA at one of the colleges. It was sunny, clear and not too hot (for July). The weather forecast for rain was low. But around here, around this time of year, that doesn't mean much. And who really knows what those weather forecasters mean when they say something like 20% chance of rain?

What I do know is that the rain can come in quickly and leave just as quickly. Twenty minutes later and you'd never know it rained. And just because it's raining here doesn't mean it's raining over there.

Last summer I was teaching class. It was one of those days where it'd rain for a few minutes then stop. Then rain. Then stop. I tell the class that I generally don't stop an exercise for rain - unless, of course, it becomes a safety issue. I saw this to encourage them to put on whatever rain gear they have before the exercise begins and they start riding. I've also been teaching long enough that I don't try to guess the weather, I just put my rain suit on anyway.

This particular exercise, the riders are across the range and I call them one at a time. I call the first rider. The do what they're supposed to do and they stop next to me. As I'm giving them some coaching, I notice they're wet. I think to myself that it's been a while since it rained, they should be dry. I call the next rider. They stop next to me, wet as well. I call the third rider. Same thing. They're wet. I'm dry. I look at the opposite end of the range and notice it's raining down there. But my end is dry. And it's not like they're that far away - less than 300 feet.

That's how the weather goes around here.

As I leave my QA and head to the Harley dealer to get my bike inspected, the skies are getting darker and darker. Quickly. I make it to the dealership and get the bike in for inspection before the rain. As I'm doing some shopping, I look out the window and it's pouring. One of those nice North Carolina thunderstorms where we get tons of water dropped in a short amount of time.

The beauty is they pass quickly. My shopping is done, bike inspected and it's time to head home. The rain has pretty much stopped and I decide not to put on the rain suit for the ride home. Heck, the rain has already passed. And even if I did get rained on, I'd be at home when I finished riding, so no harm.

Well, it did rain. Not hard. And not enough to get me totally wet. In fact, I got wetter from the spray other vehicles were throwing up from the road. But as I was riding in the rain, I was reminded of how much I enjoy it.

There's something about the rain hitting your helmet, hitting your windshield, soaking into your boots - the rhythm of the road. I go into my own little world. There's me and there's everyone else. I'm acutely aware of them - seems a lot of people lose their heads when driving in the rain. So I'm extra cautious. The increased time and space, the water all around, the sounds of the rain combine to put me into this moment, A moment I think to myself, you know, I really, really enjoy riding in the rain.