Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Misc. ramblings

In their infinite wisdom, Amazon has decided to reprint my 2005 book on motorcycling in Northeastern Florida. You can buy a copy at


or, if that link doesn't work, go to http://www.amazon.com/ and search for "PirateJohn" (one word).

I wish that they had done this a few years ago when there was a demand for the book and I was sold out, but I guess "better late than never" applies here.

Here we are, grabbing a little breakfast at a really nice little place a number of blocks away. We had the bus out in the morning for some errands and decided to stop by on the way home.

Walking or riding our bicycles around the neighborhood has become our morning routine and I highly recommend getting some exercise for those of you so inclined. And breakfast at the local little restaurants is turning out to be a great way to get the mornings started. I'm trying to wean myself off of some of my arthritis meds and am discovering that bicycling and a little aspirin in the morning go a long way towards loosening those stiff joints without taking a dose of mystery chemicals in the morning.


In the sport touring or long distance touring (or whatever else you want to call it) motorcycling communities we do a number of "RTE" events. Ride to eat. Basically an excuse to get on the road, have a meal, and return.

I saddled up the Phantom Cruiser, a/k/a our K1200LT last night and rode up to meet some friends who were having dinner at Hooters in Savannah, Georgia. Yeah, we really did go to Hooters for the wings, but that's beside the point.

Actually, we all ran up (or ran over; most of the folks were in Savannah to begin with) to meet up with my pal Robert Munday, who has organized a number of Internet BMW Riders gigs over the years and well understands the RTE mentality.

Robert was in Savannah to visit his uncle, who is now in a rest home. Time flies, because I remember Robert's uncle as a sprightly World War II vet who had been a guide at Savanah's legendary Mighty 8th Air Force Museum ( http://www.mightyeighth.org/word/index.php ). Hard to believe that it's been 6 years since Robert's uncle gave several of us riders that tour of the museum. Uncle Stan had been aboard two airplanes that crashed during WWII and didn't have a fear of flying, but he had a bad experience on a motorcycle as a young man and wouldn't ride. Life's funny that way.

Now, at age 92, time is catching up with him. Just as it does with all of us, I'm afraid.

If the truth is to be known, I've ridden very little during the last few years. Oh, I was commuting to the office every day on a motorcycle, but I haven't ridden long distances for some time. And after being a 20 year member of the biggest BMW motorcycle national club, I had let my membership lapse as I concentrated on our motorhome and other projects.

I guess that when you have literally written The Book on motorcycle touring in your part of the country that sometimes it's tough to find new riding experiences.

Now I confess that the itch to start riding again is coming back.

So it was great fun to saddle up the LT and to ride through the rain yesterday in order to have dinner with old friends, and then to drag back into Jacksonville around midnight. It was good seeing everyone - even if I was disappointed that some of the "usual crowd" from years past in Savannah didn't materialize - but the ride at night brought back memories of the best of motorcycling. On I-95 after dark your fate is in your own hands as you mix it up with cars, trucks, road surfaces of varying quality (Georgia is rebuilding what seems to be literally every bridge and overpass in that part of the state), and that #1 terror of motorists everywhere: the Yankee tourist. Pretty demanding riding, that's for sure.

But the temperatures were perfect with the rains keeping the summer heat at bay, and the LT offers plenty of radio and communication options to keep a rider awake and interested. Last night was a perfect night for the road warrior, and the good ol' Phantom Cruiser was as happy to be out of the garage and running along as I was to be happy being the pilot.

On a cool night, at a steady 70 mph, and lightly loaded the fancy computer indicated that I was getting a really lazy 44.5 miles per gallon. Not too shabby for a performance-oriented motorcycle that was built in that seemingly long lost days when gasoline was cheap and (we always thought) plentiful.

I often feel that motorcycles and good motor vehicles have a soul. Perhaps they have more soul in them than some of the people that I have met over the years. Last night was a perfect example of that as the Phantom Cruiser so obviously rejoiced in being cleaned up and set free to do what she does the best - eat those miles like an athlete.

Yesterday was good, indeed.

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