Monday, September 24, 2007

The motorcycle diary

It's about time I published the full story behind my return to two wheels. Here it comes...
On Friday 9/14 John's car had a bit of a sideways adventure courtesy of a flat tire, wet weather, poor American road design, lack of roadway maintenance and many other factors other than driver error. Unfortunately, the adventure was cut brutally short by a crash barrier. I emerged unscathed and surprisingly exhilarated. Mostly I was happy to have not collected any other vehicles, having traversed two traffic lanes. The other good news is that no friendly state troopers stopped by to decide I deserved a trip to court.

I called Kristal, and she and her housemate Sara came out to pick me up and call a tow truck. This 21 year old comes out, reversing 200 yards up a on-ramp shoulder to reach us, and jumps out of the truck wearing flip-flops. It turns out her ripped a toenail off while riding a quad-bike barefoot, and shoes are too painful. Despite all this, he does a good job of getting my car back to Kristal's place, whereupon Sara (who is a paediatric nurse) jumps into action to re-bandage his toe so he doesn't have to work in flip-flops in the rain. Kristal gets some hot cocoa on th go, and soon the drama of the night is behind us.

I had to go into work on Saturday, so didn't get a chance to take care of my car. In any case, I've had my eyes out for a bike ever since I got my license (well, really since I arrived in the USA!). I took a ride on a BMW F650 but it wasn't really what I was looking for, and had too many problems. On Saturday at work, I found a Honda Nighthawk posted on the Norfolk Craigslist. Having already missed out on some good deals, I immediately fired off an email to register my interest. That interest was piqued when I saw a picture of the bike. I arranged to view the bike straight away. On Sunday, we drove down to a place just outside Williamsburg. The owners of the bike were selling everything to go travel in their RV for a year, so I got a great deal. The bike has only seen 6000 miles in 12 years on the road. It rides exactly how I want: not too sporty, but with enough power to be comfortable on the highway, and unlike American cruisers, it has been designed with some attention to handling.

I'll want to find a windscreen and some luggage for it, then I'll be off on some adventures (in a strictly forwards direction) while the weather is still fine. Kristal has a helmet so she can ride on the back. Pan Am anyone?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Motorcycle License

Over the weekend I took the Basic Rider Course offered by the MSF. Involving one evening of classroom tuition and two afternoons of practical training, it provides the participant with a waiver for the DMV written and skills tests. Basically, you take the course and they hand you your license at the end. You gotta love motorist education in the USA.

This morning I took the waiver into the DMV so they could reissue my license complete with the 'M'-class. Now I am able to go test ride some bikes. I've been agonising over what bike to get for a long time. My dream bike right now is a Suzuki Bandit 1200. Fitted with some luggage, it is apparently a good two-up sports-tourer, plus I think they look great. There was one for sale in Fredericksburg, very affordable, but it sold this morning. I was totally gutted. Hopefully another will come my way soon.

The bike of my wildest dreams right now is a Triumph Tiger. However, these are almost impossible to find second hand. Um, which would mean buying a brand new bike, and I'm not to sure about spending that much money. But watch this space!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

OBX - Part the third

For our Labor Day holiday we went camping in (you guessed it) the Outer Banks. This time we stayed at the National Parks campsite in Frisco, returning to the NPS after a terrible experience with KOA last time. When we arrived, they had just three sites left, and when we went back to the office a short while later, they were full, so we were lucky to get a spot. Rather disappointingly, the beach near the campground is open to offroad vehicles. This has become common on the East Coast under the present Administration, and is a bit of a shame. Although there are regulations these are not adhered to by a small minority who are too stupid or too selfish to respect common courtesy. Ultimately, I'm disappointed by anyone who is too lazy to leave their vehicle in the parking lot and make a short walk to the beach. If all they want to do is tailgate, stay in the parking lot!

But what did we expect, having chosen to visit on Labor Day weekend! We enjoyed ourselves all the same, playing travel Scrabble at the campsite, and enjoying a nearby beach that didn't allow ORVs. We ate surf and turf on the first night (I grilled steak and shrimp on one of those one-use barbeques), and ate at the Froggy Dog the second night. We also bought some beach chairs and a body-board, which we come in handy on future trips.