Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Science Backed Stress Relief

Now that we’re well into winter, I’m starting to look forward to the first ride of Spring. When the snow melts and the roads clear of all the debris it will finally be time to ride. During that first ride I can feel the stress that I’ve built up over the Winter melt away. Do you remember when you were a kid, waking up on Saturday morning thinking you had to go to school? Then, as you realized it was Saturday, the tension faded away. That’s the feeling that I get on the first ride of Spring.

So, riding must have some health benefits with that stress relief, right? It appears that science is on our side. This post from RideApart details a study funded by Harley Davidson that actually measures notable drops in stress levels while riding. Finally, science backs up something I’ve known since I was a motorcycle riding, stress free eleven year old.

So, let’s try to stay as stress free as we can until Spring. However, if life is getting too stressful, just envision yourself on that first ride. That should at least curb the stress momentarily. Either way, let’s hope for an early Spring!

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” - Amit Ray

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Smart Helmets

Over the past couple of years I’ve read multiple articles, had discussions, and even written some blog posts on the topic of “smart” motorcycle helmets. First there was the disaster that was Skully helmets, that took people’s money in a crowdfunding campaign and didn’t deliver. I also have mentioned the BMW Motorrad HUD (heads up display) in development because, with corporate backing, it wouldn’t have the crowdfunding issue. Now, I have come across this article detailing the Jarvish helmets.

While this company is like Skully, being crowdfunded, it seems to already be in the testing phase. Also, unlike Skully (who has actually come under new ownership and is going to finally deliver helmets), the helmet price starts at $399 compared to $1,900. $399 is comparable to standard, albeit high quality, helmets on the market now, so the investment risk is greatly reduced. Apparently, this helmet also will have the ability to communicate with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Assistant (cue the clip of Iron Man talking to his artificial intelligence servant).

A welcomed byproduct of this technology is that it’ll make wearing helmets “cool”. Many people (myself included) have been guilty of riding without a helmet. In this digital age, bringing this product to the market could increase the use of helmets without the need of government legislation. It’d be making young adults safer without them knowing it!

“Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.” - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Making Motorcycle Shows Fun Again

I’ve visited the International Motorcycle Show when it is in Chicago at least 15 times. I always go with my dad, so it is a great time no matter what. However, my complaint for the past few visits has been that there isn’t really anything new. Of course there is a bunch of new motorcycles to take a look at and sit on, but beyond that it’s basically the same show year after year.

Today I read this article detailing some of the new interactive activities that will be at this year’s show. I’m actually excited to see this! It seems that electric motorcycles and virtual reality allow visitors to actually get some riding experience at the show. With electric motorcycles having no exhaust or engine noise, this really makes sense. I’m especially excited to try the XDL Wheelie Experience.

This kind of thing just seems to confirm my belief that electric motorcycles will enhance the sport, not hinder it. When you step back and think about how this technology is basically in its infancy, the possibilities may be nearly endless. Now, I’m as big a fan of internal combustion engines as everyone else and ten years ago I never would be endorsing electric motorcycles, but after seeing events like this it’s tough to not be a fan.

I’ve actually missed the show in Chicago the last couple of years. This was more due to scheduling conflicts than anything else, but I can definitely say that I’ll be clearing my schedule for the upcoming show!

“It's kind of fun to do the impossible.” - Walt Disney

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Perfection is Boring

I miss my Harley. I miss my old Ducati. I miss the Yamaha XS 750 triple that I rode in high school. I miss all of the dirt bikes I owned. If you couldn’t tell, there’s a theme here. Every motorcycle builds its own character as you ride it. They all have their own idiosyncrasies that you get used to. They tend to have their own feel.
Two motorcycles that are the same make, model, and year can feel totally different. Maybe one owner lives on a dirt road, while the other lives in a city, which could totally change the wear on the suspension. One owner may have aftermarket exhaust or suspension. Over the course of time each bike will become unique.
It’s that unique feel that makes a motorcycle belong to you. That is its character. The character is what I miss the most of all my past bikes. The thing that made them unique. This is why I tell riders to not fret over every scratch or ding on their bike. These types of things tell its story. Perfection is boring.
“Perfection itself is imperfection.” - Vladimir Horowitz

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My Drinking Team has a Motorcycle Problem

It seems that everytime I get together with my old friends, two things happen. One is that we drink beer. The other is that we talk motorcycles. It seems inevitable.
Last weekend, one of my friends was having a birthday party for his daughter . While our wives, kids, and other guests were inside eating cake, opening presents, and doing all the rest of the standard birthday party stuff, a bunch of us snuck outside and cracked a few cold ones. After that, it didn’t take long and motorcycles were the topic of discussion.
This time the subject was trials bikes. We complained about how expensive and unavailable they are (the used ones). Then we started scheming on ways to travel south, where there are many more trials motorcycles available, to buy a bunch to resell at home. By this time, the amount of beer that was drank was driving the schemes more than anything else!
It’s definitely a little crazy that I can go months without hanging out with these guys and when I do, we end up doing the same thing, drinking beer and talking motorcycles. I think I wouldn’t want it any other way. “
Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.” - Kinky Friedman

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Embrace the Suck

October is usually the last month of riding season here in the upper Midwest. About once a decade we’ll have a snow free November, but I’m not counting on that happening. Before we know it, motorcyclists will be longing for Spring.

Recently, I’ve been dabbling in jiu jitsu. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it dabbling. It’s more like fumbling my way through it about once a week. As a fairly large guy, I wasn’t really used to being thrown around and getting twisted like a pretzel, but I am now. It’s pretty humbling to have a much smaller person submit you over and over and knowing that they are actually taking it easy on you!

A jiu jitsu coach that I follow on Instagram and YouTube was asked a question about going through rough patches of training. His response was to “embrace the suck.” In other words realize that the bad things make the good things so much sweeter.

I think we motorcyclists should take this approach with Winter. Embrace it! Know that the wait to ride will make it so much more awesome when it actually happens. Also, make the knowledge of how much Winter sucks force you to enjoy these last rides you have right now.

“You go with it, man. You embrace the suck. You’re gonna have the peaks and you’re gonna have the valleys. You can only have the peaks because the valleys exist. You can only have the sweet because the sour exists. So, even though you don’t like it, it’s just a part of it and, honestly, down the road you’ll be glad you went through it” - Nick “Chewy” Albin

Here’s the jiu jitsu coach’s social media I was discussing. Check him out if you are at all interested in jiu jitsu.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Father and Son Trail Ride

I did exactly what I set out to do in my last blog post. Last Saturday, I loaded my son’s XR 70R into my pickup and drove to my dad’s lake property for some riding. It was an awesome time and we are definitely going to have to do it again.

My initial plan was to ride the trail that I rode hundreds of times as a kid that leads to a local dam and fish ladder. My plan was derailed as we got about halfway there. A huge storm washed out a portion of the trail this summer. If I had a larger bike, was by myself, or felt like getting wet, I would have chanced crossing this washout, but I wasn’t about to do it with my son. So, instead we rode on some of the side trails that broke away from the main one.

These trails weren’t without obstacles either. Some small trees had fallen across in some spots, but we were able to ride over them fairly easily. Then we had to drop into a ravine on a steep decline. Loose rocks and sticks littered the trail and it was pretty difficult to maintain control, but we rode it out without incident. Then, we had to ride over a large berm. As I reached the peak, I unexpectedly wheelied. I was still in control, but it was a bit of a surprise. My son shrieked! Then, after the front wheel returned to the ground he shouted, “This is the greatest time of my life!” I decided that was our cue to head back to the truck. Our ride couldn’t get much better than that.

Like I said before, it was a pretty awesome experience. I hope we get to have some more rides before winter.

“I don't think quantity time is as special as quality time with your family.” - Reba McEntire