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Just a short thought.

For years, I thought one bike was fine.  Then I got the ZRX1200 and because it wasn't that comfortable, nothing really changed.  I found that I didn't ride very often locally, in part because it takes more effort to suit up and I was too lazy to do that for a 5 mile trip to the store.  Also, there was always a trip coming up and I wanted to clean up the bike, change the oil, adjust the chain and leave it ready for the next trip.  Riding around locally just meant I needed to do maintenance twice because of the local miles.

This year, I finally have the KTM working well, but I haven't found a new home for the KLR.  After doing maintenance on both bikes, I realized that I could leave the KTM ready for the trip and still ride the KLR.  Hmmmnnnn.....  Maybe having two bikes isn't such a bad idea.
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One big difference between the KLR and the KTM is the choice of luggage.  On the KLR, I decided that would keep everything in line with my body.  After all, my body is a large, high drag body that just about doubles the frontal area of the bike.  So, I chose a trunk and a large tank bag.
 

Of course, one of the downsides of this approach is that I had to "step thru" which isn't easy on a tall bike.  The other potential downside was that the side view cross section area was large and high which might cause problems in a cross wind.  Cross wind stability has been a consistent problem on the KLR.  I remember getting off the highway and parking on a side road facing into the wind because I was afraid I was going to blow over if I kept riding.

On the KTM, I bowed to being a bit older.  I knew that at some point "stepping thru" was going to require flexibility I wouldn't have.  So I went for a small tank bag and panniers mounted as low and forward as possible. 



I also hoped that the KTM would be better in a cross wind, but that didn't work out so well.  Of course, the KLR wasn't perfect in a cross wind, but I would have to say the KTM is worse. 

Imagine you are riding on a highway, 10 mph below the speed limit and leaning into the wind 10 to 15 degrees.  It feels like the tires might slip out from under you and when a gust comes along, the bike is moved over by 1 lane or more.  Scary stuff.

However, there is a technique that is helpful.  The scariest part is the bike being moved sideways, especially if that puts you off the road.  It turns out that, if you lean way forward, you put more weight on the front wheel and move the lateral center of pressure forward.  In this position, the bike doesn't steer away from the wind as badly.  You might even balance out the front and rear so that you are still leaning, but the bike doesn't feel like it's going to slide out from under you.

In the end, the choice between trunk and panniers isn't really a side wind stability thing.  Tall bikes are bad for side wind stability either way.  At least with the KTM, I can lean further forward as I am not limited by the tank bag.
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I have been known to talk about the zen of the motorcycle helmet.  While I am ridding, I am working my body and aware of my surroundings and the tasks required to manage them, but I am at least partially disconnected mentally and sometimes find creative solutions in that space.
It turns out that this is a pretty good way of thinking about creativity and intelligence.  This link takes you to an interview with an expert on intelligence and creativity.  It's a pretty long read, but there are some interesting ideas in it.

https://onbeing.org/programs/rex-jung-creativity-and-the-everyday-brain/

 Quoting one of my favorite parts;

"So with intelligence, there’s you know, the analogy I've used is there's this superhighway in the brain that allows you to get from Point A to Point B. With creativity, it's a slower, more meandering process where you want to take the side roads and even the dirt roads to get there, to put the ideas together."

So, now you  know why you are looking at pictures of back roads.  It's time for all of us to start meandering and get creative.
 One other interesting idea from the interview is that we reach our peak intelligence potential in our 40's.  After that, the connections in the brain start to degrade.  But the cool thing is that when those connections degrade, the opportunity for creativity grows.  Those fewer connections make it easier for the brain to meander and create.
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I know most of you hate winter and can't wait for it to be over.  But for me, it is part of my favorite memories and something I enjoy very much today.

Alas, my work kept me going off to warmer climates in the winter, sometime being gone more than 2  months each winter.  I counted it up.  It has been 38 years since I got to enjoy a whole winter.

One of the things that I looked forward to in retirement was being able to enjoy a whole winter without interruption.  Alas, the first two years of my retirement were a big disappointment, almost no winter at all.  But this year, we are finally getting a winter I can be proud of.

A few weeks back, in the January thaw, my sister and I went north because she had never seen Michigan's Upper Peninsula in winter.  So I thought I would share a few photos from that trip that I had already been sharing by email.  These are a mix of mine and my sister's photos.



A Copper Harbor Invitation


Pine Grove Cemetery



  Ice on Eagle Harbor



 The Eagle Harbor Light

 
The north coast of the Keweenaw




Sunset from the Mackinaw Bridge
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I ran across this in an old draft post that I never got around to finishing.  For me, as the audience, this is the very best that advertising can be.  It's memorable, exciting both visually and audibly, I remember what the product is and who is the company, and I want to support their product.  And it's a little funny too.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/1_kwxzU4wL4
Turn up the volume and enjoy.
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I'm still working on riding routes for this summer.  I use Google Street View to see what the road conditions are and what date the Street View was photographed.  Since W. Virginia is fracking country, you can't count on older Street Views, a lot could have changed with the fracking trucks.

Once in a while, I come on a Street View picture that just makes me smile.  So all honors and attribution to Google for these two photos.  I couldn't resist sharing them.



 

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lehman hill - 6M ago
Something has changed in the headlight world while I wasn't paying attention.

Back in the early 2000's, HID headlights were a premium car, premium option that cost more than $1000.  It was mainly OE, but you could find aftermarket options if you were willing to pay $800 per headlight.  So I lived with Halogen and wondered about the future LEDs, but I knew that just changing to an LED bulb wasn't going to work because the LED doesn't work as a point light source like the Halogen, so the reflector design is all wrong.

I'm in my 6th winter with my Fiat.  In the past, I didn't need to drive much at night since I was out of town much of the winter.  This last couple of years, I have been driving more at night and noticing that the Fiat headlights are not great.  The Fiat uses a kind of projector headlight, but rather than 4 lamps (2 low, 2 hi), they use only 2 lamps and have a mechanical shutter to form the cutoff in low beams.

Having 4 lamps on high beam is a real plus for cars that are built that way because the light from each of the lamps adds together to make things brighter.  So even though the projector headlight in the Fiat may be a good design, it isn't very bright on high beam.

This point became critical when I was down in West Virginia looking for motorcycle roads.  I'm on twisty, hilly, and narrow roads in the country and it's pitch black darkness at only 5 pm.  I just can't see enough to keep going at any speed.  Ok, so my eyes are getting older and we can blame them as much as the headlights.

That evening down in West Virginia, I started looking online to see if there was a brighter bulb or something available.  What do you know.  Since the last time I paid any attention, HID conversion kits have become much cheaper.  First of all, the HID bulb is very similar to the Halogen in the idea of a point light source.  So they can make an HID bulb to work well in the the housing of a Halogen headlight.  I guess the market grew and the cost of electronics became smaller, because now you can buy a cheap HID conversion kit for as little as $30.  There are some issues with the cheapest versions, so even a better quality version can be had for less than $100.

Today I installed my HID conversion kit.  It was a bit fiddly as the British say, but it went together nicely and only took a couple of hours.  I just got back from a test ride and it's totally worth the effort.

First you turn on the headlights and get a FLASH.  Then it's like a slightly slow fluorescent bulb where it dims after the flash, then slowly gets brighter over 4 or 5 seconds.  By the way, you get to choose your color and I chose 6000K which is slightly blue but mainly white.  Much whiter than the 4300K original Halogens.  A whiter light makes it easier to see details at night, so I'm already ahead of the game.  And the light is so much brighter.  I'm ready to jump in the car and go back to West Virginia.
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In addition to a really nice family holiday, I have been spending time between Christmas and New Years planning routes for a motorcycle ride this summer.  I know, thinking about motorcycling in the middle of winter is crazy, but certain types of mental illness are not preventable.


Naturally, you can do a lot of planning online these days, but there is no substitute for going there.  Every route that I planned at home needed "adjusting" once I saw it in person.  Happily, I can have fun driving these roads in the Fiat and exploring is fun, no matter what the weather.  Well, almost any weather.



I learned a long time ago that it's difficult to take good pictures of curvy roads, so I've taken the liberty of showing screen clips of Google Maps, both terrain maps with fun roads and street view of select corners.  Full kudos and honor is due to Google for their wonderful maps and full credit for the map images and street shot views.  Full warning, Google street view shots vary in quality depending on when they were taken and where along the road, so the screen shot above is more than a bit fuzzy.  The road is fun, though.  I just love a high speed esses section like this.


Naturally, I took a few shots myself, but only with my poor phone.  It's easy to tell the Street View shots, mine are winter with ice and theirs are summer with leaves.


This is Ohiopyle Falls with ice on the edges.  I do like exploring in winter.  The trees have lost their leaves and the snow lights up the shadows, so you can see many things that you would miss in summer.  Let's just face facts.  I have an itchy foot and have to travel to scratch that itch, no matter what time of year.

I wouldn't have wanted to try this road in winter.  Better saved for summer.


This is what happens to the bedrock faces along the road.  Water seeps out between the layers of rock and forms icicles.  They are everywhere in Ohio and W. Virginia and they are as varied as they are beautiful.
 

 Here is wishing you and yours a wonderful new year.
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I never expected the inside of an amplifier to festive, but the amp I just finished seems to give off that vibe.  I can say that I'm happy to get it working.  For what seems like a month, it has been kicking my butt.  Nothing like letting a little smoke out of some components to let you know you have screwed up.  But at least it's colorful.  When you first turn it on, it has yellow neon for about 30 seconds, then red and green LEDs lighting up the green and blue boards.


This amp is the most expensive, least efficient, and most dangerous I have done so far.  For least efficient, it puts out 25 watts of useful power but uses 180 watts just sitting there with no music playing.  That means the thing is like a space heater with heat rolling off the top all of the time its on. 


Regarding dangerous, there are 350 Volts running around inside this thing.  Part of the extra time taken to trouble shoot this baby are because I was waiting for the volts to go down.  350 Volts will kill you.

Its too early to say whether its worth the effort.  I certainly hope it sounds good.  At least its mostly finished and I can turn back to working on motorcycles.
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My father used to enjoy taking close up pictures of faces.  He would move in so that the frame was filled up with just eyes, nose, and mouth.  He called them nose pictures and I liked them.  They were unusual, but also a nice representation of the person.

It seems that I have unconciously developed a kind of nose picture that I take when possible.  In this case, it's close up pictures of hood ornaments and, occassionally, badges.

Recently, I went to the Hemmings Concours in Lake George, NY with my old high school friend Dan.  Lots of interesting cars, but I liked the hood ornaments best.


Of course, horns can be nice too, but there is no way to avoid the photographer being in the reflection.


A Studebaker badge isn't a hood ornament, but it's a nice detail anyway.


Of course, hood ornaments started out as radiator caps.  Here is a nice one from an MG racer.


The classic hood ornament is the Packard Swan, although Packard referred to it as a Cormorant.


Although I guess Studebaker was trying to compete with Packard.  Is that a swan or a goose?


The gazelle was a Chrysler hood ornament in the 30's, although something similar later became the Chevy Impala trademark.


Stutz was using a goddess.  I think it is either Athena or Minerva, the difference being Greek or Roman.


An some hood ornaments are just fun.  I am assuming that this one is aftermarket and just for fun.  Either way, it is interesting to find on a Studebaker.


 If you find yourself enjoying hood ornaments the way I do, the link below will take you to pictures of many more fun and interesting ornaments.  Of course, all the pictures above are mine from the Lake George event.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/208150813999293150/
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