Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Natural High

There are many examples of a natural high, but nothing can compare to family, friends, colleagues and total strangers voting you into first place in an essay contest. I thought watching the numbers climb on the vote tally was a thrill. I soon learned differently this weekend at the Carlisle Bikefest. With the placement of a VIP sticker on my windshield, to the last goodbye, my entourage and I were treated like celebrities.

Getting to Carlisle wasn’t without its challenges. We endured some of the most brutal heat Mother Nature can deliver. We went through 5 tires, (four trailer and one car) paid over $4.00 a gallon at one gas station, and I cracked the touch screen on my GPS by carelessly slamming it into the glove box. (The great Garmin service I received later is a story for another day.) Yet, I would do it all again for the experience of meeting great people like Sara Liberte, Mary Pinkerton and her husband Joe, Rick (Carlisle Event coordinator), John the manager at the Mustang booth, and Willy who installed my new Kuryakyn parts. I also met Beth a visitor to Carlisle Bikefest, who, as we watched my saddle installed, struck up a conversation that lead to us connecting in the mutual experiences we share.

There are bike events all over this country, and I have now visited four of them from one coast to the next, and soon I will head to a fifth. Each has their own personality trait. Carlisle by comparison is low keyed and indeed we saw many a baby in the pram. Carlisle is a place for the family. The event workers and industry sponsors were welcoming and genuinely friendly. Their concern and caring for us went beyond the promotion, when understanding how far Mary had driven to the event, added to the sum a prepaid gas card to the prize booty.

The amount of “stuff” I came home with is almost shameful, in way one would feel about gluttony. Yet one of the simplest of these prizes is a pair of Harley boots. The leather is soft and supple and certainly fine grain leather, with a low heal that treats my back nicely. So comfortable are they, I wore them with my shorts all the way home. Dave is probably thinking I sleep in them.

With the mention of Dave, an emotional tear of gratitude comes to my eye. Dave endured the worst heat imaginable to take loads of photos for nothing more than that we are friends. So it pleased me beyond words to see him get one-on- one time with Sara and talk about photography. Being a fan of hers this is possibly the best serendipitous gift one friend could give to another. I need a whole box of tissue with that one thought alone.

I’m off to Sturgis soon, and Sara will be there. On my list of things to bring is the Garage Girls tank top which I will wear proudly when I next seek out Sara’s booth. If you’re headed to Sturgis, keep an eye out for Blaze. She is stylin’ sporting her fender chrome and new saddle. You can’t miss us; we’ll be the duo blasting tunes on our new Kuryakyn Sound of Chrome speakers.

Note: The group photos is from the Garage-Girls Facebook page. I will be posting some of Dave’s in the near future.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shortage of Data

Our Sturgis trip is coming up fast. I’m not ready. There is so much to do and I seem to have little time to prepare. I might have the time, if I could figure out what I need to put aside until later so I can focus on what I need to do now. I pop open the MapSource file to work on the GPS routes. The task seems daunting, and I feel I won’t get it done. I remember the POI Factory web site that Rich pointed me too last year. This could save me some time. It was very helpful in gleaning all the waypoints for the lighthouses on our Maine Lighthouse Tour. The site did not let me down when I searched for Sturgis waypoints, and Rich even assisted in converting some data for me that I easily transferred into my files.

While I was lining up a route using the new waypoints, it occurred to me that I may be reinventing the wheel. Surely someone out there has already done a batch of routes and would be happy to share them along with their experience too. After all, 500,000 people head to Sturgis each year. So off to the New England Riders I went and posted my plea for Sturgis routes. It was another Richard that came to my assistance. Not only did he have GPS files, he had hard copy maps and flyers of all sorts to share if we wanted to meet.

“What can he possibly say to us?” Andy said to me.

“How will you know if you don’t talk with him!” I responded in utter disbelief that someone would pass up the opportunity to dig up something that could be useful.

I am often accused of suffering a malady called “shortage of information” syndrome. I suppose it’s true. When I think I don’t know all I should about a topic, or if I think others know about something I don’t, it causes me to feel deprived, lost, uniformed or possibly jeopardized in some way. This compromised feeling results in habits that annoy others, or sometimes just amuse them. Both of these reactions do not leave me feeling the best. Andy relents when I tell him of the hard copy maps Richard has. He likes to touch, feel and read maps, “like in the good old days.” It was my ticket to meet Richard and his lovely wife Irene.

While I read some “fun facts” aloud from one of the flyers, Richard readily perceived my “need to know” and joked with the others questioning if I were the keeper of facts and figures. (Or something to that effect.) Wow. I am so transparent that complete strangers can spot my need for detail even on first meeting. However, a visit with Richard proved to be valuable after all. He had great advice about sections of highway we should avoid, helpful hints, and great stories about the Sturgis area. Even Andy agrees. Of course being me, I had to point out once home, that you don’t know what you don’t know until you do.

Having my personality quirks so visible to the world may not feel comfortable, but I take solace from Stephen Covey’s words, “When we are left to our own experiences we constantly suffer from a shortage of data.” EXACTLY Mr. Covey! And thank you for the great quote I can use anytime someone feels I need treatment for my “syndrome.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Creating Our World

I’ve noticed something about people, and I’m sure there are many of these elements within me too, and it is this; that people will complain about their circumstance, other people, or events for the way their lives are unfolding. Yet, they have little awareness of exactly how they are creating the very circumstances they complain about or suffer under.

There is a quote I like very much. "The best way to predict the future is to create it."(~Peter F. Drucker~). I had a prime example of this on Saturday, while on a ride with the New England Riders. The day was absolutely beautiful, the company marvelous, the roads and scenery of the Connecticut countryside breathtaking. We stopped for lunch at the planned stop along with many other people enjoying the day. Other motorcyclists, not a part of our group, were out for a day’s jaunt too.

We were enjoying our meal and pleasant conversation with our riding mates when what I would describe as a “biker dude” backed his very loud straight piped motorcycle into a spot very close to our seating. My first thought was that backing up to people sitting at a bench with such loud pipes was a bit unthinking. He should have pulled in (in my humble opinion) and spared us the full blast of those pipes. Here we have the first example of how this “gentleman” was creating his world. By not having an awareness of how startling it was to the diners, not to mention all conversation had stopped as we couldn’t hear each other, he created in our minds the image of rudeness.

We soon took up our conversation where we had left off, the busyness of this location buzzing about us, when this same dude jumps up and begins to shout. And shout quite discourteously he did, to the driver of a car that was backing into a spot near his bike. Now from my vantage point the car was nowhere near hitting his precious loud piped Harley, yet he proceeded to shout and gesticulate to the poor driver. Mister Dude was creating and cementing his world into place, and giving bikers everywhere a bad name while he was at it. How much better would it have been if he had stood between his bike and the car, and waved the guy in saying, “you’re doing OK” or “cut it a little to the right”. Can you see how we would have perceived him then? We would all know he was worried the bike would be hit, but seen as cordial and kindly as he helped a stranger back into a parking spot in the crowded lot.

Unfortunately, that is not the world he created for himself. Instead, I am left with thoughts of how rude, self centered, and full of self importance he appeared to be. I imagine him going home pissing and moaning about stupid people, and giving his dog a good kick to round out his day. All the while not realizing that his day is shaped by his own actions, thoughts and perceptions and not one drop of how he could have created something better for himself. Had he, we may have wanted to know him better, chat with him about his bike, ask where he was heading, and generally taking up friendly conversation and introducing him to the New England Riders.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to create for myself these days, instead of just letting things “happen” to me as they do. What I’m seeing is I have more control over the events in my life than I imagined. Once I begin to feel controlled by others, I look away from the situation and around for my opportunities. I’ve not mastered my world yet, but am amazed at how much better things look and how much people want to give you exactly what you ask for. Biker Dude can teach us all a lesson in how we create our world. What is it you want to create for yourself? It’s within your reach. All you need is awareness.

Now enjoy a few photos from Gillette Castle in Easts Haddam CT, and one taken at the Vanilla Bean.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


As with the rest of the country, Andy and I along with Deb and Lee made plans for a July 4th adventure. While many flock to beaches, campsites or boating, we of course rolled the bikes out for a little overnight adventure to Newport Rhode Island. Our plan; to loop leisurely around Newport and then head over to Greenwich for an overnight stay, followed by some riding through a few Connecticut State Parks and then home. I could talk about our route, stops and destination, but frankly, I can’t quiet concentrate on those details this morning.

The ride, until we reached the corner of Thames and Touro Streets seems dull in comparison. Newport of course is a great tourist destination, so we had plenty of company trying to make our way around the island. We pulled up at a light, in the left hand lane waiting our turn to head down Thames. Lee and Deb were ahead, side by side, with Andy and I behind. I was behind Lee and Andy behind Debra. Lee came over the radio saying he had a warning light come on, and we planned to pull over at a parking area we spotted across the way to check things out. While we waited for the light, my gaze went beyond the intersection and toward the water down the next street, where I could see lots of people milling about, when suddenly…KABOOM! My first reaction (as the mind works at lightning speed) was that a celebratory cannon had just been fired and maybe that’s what all the people where milling about for down the street. I saw Lee jump, but of course the sound had made me jump as well, but Lee was more than just jumping. Steam was rising from his motorcycle and he was leaping off, dropping the bike right there. The inside of his leg sprayed from the hot fluids just released from pressure.

All of us were off our bikes in an instant. Lee and Andy picked up the bike and moved it out of traffic. Debra and I followed to the curb with our own bikes. I took a look at Lee’s leg and grabbed a half finished bottle of water out of my bag and poured it over the area sprayed by hot radiator fluids. A kindly motorist at the light handed me another and although Lee was telling us he was ok, I didn’t think that was really true. While this was going on, the ambulance arrived along with police and fire truck. Now this might sound a bit cold, and none caring, considering the circumstances, but the arrival of the emergency vehicles, before we even fully assessed our plight, was like something out of a cartoon. You’ve seen these. Someone drops, two characters run into the scene instantly, pick up the injured party on a stretcher and race off stage right. We discovered later that the emergency personnel are directly around the corner. Thank you to the kind person who dialed 911.

As the ambulance arrived we pointed to Lee and requested they have a look. It was fortunate too, because the pain began to make itself aware to Lee as his adrenaline began to wear off and we would have had to pick him up off the street. They tended to him, asked us questions; did he hit his head, does he take medications, etc. All the while the activity continued around us. Sand was spread over the antifreeze puddle in the street, and the firemen were pulling apart the bike to see if a hose had blown. Andy headed to a local bike shop a few streets away to see if he could get help. My awareness of these activities escaped me, but once Lee was in the ambulance, and the questions by the EMT were done, I turned to see the slick covered with sand and Andy and a fireman looking at the bike.

It was decided that Lee needed a trip to the emergency room, and while Debra got on the phone to make arrangements for the motorcycle, I turned my attention to the bike. I was shocked along with the rest of them, to find all the hoses intact and the reservoir still full. We still don’t know for certain what happened, but Andy suggests a bad pump. The pressure built up, and BOOM, it had to be released. Debra left for the hospital as soon as she had made tow truck arrangements, and Andy and I waited for the truck. All the while, Patrolman Eric Adkins stayed with us on the scene. Once the bike was on its way, he even escorted us to the hospital, carrying a few of Lee’s things we couldn’t pack on our bikes. His sensitivity and sense of humor helped us relax, and calm ourselves. On behalf of all of us thank you Eric Adkins; Patrolman, Newport RI. Your assistance, as well as your 17 years of service to the community are greatly appreciated.

Eric Adkins, Patrolman, Newport RI.

Once we arrived at the hospital, Lee gave us a gander of just what that leg looked like, not a pretty sight. Andy and I left Lee and Deb there for a bit, while we went to get a bite to eat and talk about a few scenarios for our next steps. When we returned, Debra and Lee, (who would not be kept overnight), had made arrangements with their son for a car to get Lee home. Debra’s bike would stay at the son’s place, and she will retrieve it the next day when she returns the car. Andy and I bade them goodbye and pointed our fenders home. Lee will recover from his second degree burns, and is still talking Sturgis. We’ll see. I will close here with this last comment, Lee on drugs; uncensored. Now that’s a story all by itself!

Before all the excitement, we did have time to pay respects at this war memorial.