Saturday, 28 March 2009

Time For A Change

Believe me when I say we have a difficult time ahead of us. But if we are to be prepared for it, we must first shed our fear of it. I stand here, before you now, truthfully unafraid. Why? Because I believe something you do not? No, I stand here without fear because I remember. I remember that I am here not because of the path that lies before me but because of the path that lies behind me.

- Morpheus, The Matrix Reloaded




After over 2 years of blogging it was about time for 'reimagining' of my blog. Yes, they seem to be all the craze these days with Battlestar Galactica (now finished) and Star Trek (just around the corner) but I felt the time was right. Nor was it a choice I made lightly, the old format served me well and was popular but for me it felt just a little bit dated so here is the revamp! Thanks to 'Wonder Woman' for the suggestions and reviewing the alpha/beta/rc versions.

My previous post laid out my recent trials over the last year but hopefully now I will be able to get back on track and looking forward once again. So other then the appearance overhaul expect the usual mix of blog posts on motorcycles, Ubuntu, current events, politics and anything else that this critical citizen of the world get in my sights!

Over the next few months expect posts detailing the modifications to my Buell (as detailed in the previous post) and reviews of new gear I have been using. Sprinkle on that my usual observations and hopefully there will be plenty there to keep you all entertained.

Like the quote at the top points out it is who we are that will decide how we will deal with the tough times we are presented with. We live in interesting and dynamic times as we witness what is most likely the end of the post-WW2 geopolitical order. Change is the only thing we can be assured of, it is just the pace that varies.

As always, enjoy and thanks for reading

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Dipping & Soaring With The Breeze

I must admit, for the first time in my riding life I hit a dark patch over the last few months. It seemed to be a combination of factors, never have I been so unlucky on two wheels then over the last year, never mind the personal trials I have faced.

Starting in May '08 and watching the carnage of my Kawasaki Er-6f being driven over in a petrol station. Followed by the high of purchasing my dream motorcycle the Buell Ulysses XB12XT but that dream soon was blown away as a series of electrical faults culminated in motorcycle and I being unceremoniously dumped mid-turn as motorcycle lost all power. This was just before the onset of a bitter winter and the tender riding skills that keep one upright through those dark months. My confidence never fully returned in the Buell, always fearful when I felt the engine judder or hesitate. Then to put the top-hat on it all, in January a car driver knocked me off the Buell at a junction. If that was not bad enough my insurance company has refused to prosecute as there were no witness's other then the Buell and my own scrapes and bruises.

Needless to say I was an unhappy motorcyclist. In the days following being knocked off the motorcycle I even thought seriously about my future on two wheels. Though that was soon dismissed as the shock cleared from my mind. Some personal issues also came to a head during this period. In this whirlwind of circumstance I stood in the eye realising that stepping out in any direction would mean facing a world that seemed determined to keep me down. So it is in this frame of mind that I started to think long and hard about change. Changing my poor Buell and the very real prospect of losing some of those close to me. Everything changes, I know this better then most. Now seemed a good time for me to make the leap on my own terms.

So a few weeks ago I walked into the Irish motorcycle show with my mind set on picking a new motorcycle and putting the past year behind me. A 'cleansing' of sorts. High on my list were the Moto Guzzi Norge 1200, the Honda VFR, the Suzuki Bandit 1250GT, the KTM SMT 990, the BMW R1200GS and R1200RT. A varied assortment of machinary that all ticked the boxes of having luggage and the potential to haul partner and I to distant destinations, while still being capable daily workhorses. Though while wandering from stand to stand and trying out bike after bike other issues crept into my mind. Research online further went to sideline the options further. In the end I found myself right back at the start...my Buell Ulysses XB12XT was and still is the motorcycle that I not just want and need.

The last few months it feels like I have been riding through a mist with patches of clarity that that would give way to murkier moments. Most of my perceptions regarding motorcycling, relationships, life and death have all been challenged over the last year. They say what does not kill us makes us stronger, that may be true but during my days at sea there was a another saying, "you are only a survivor if you survive".

So this is where I am now, on the other side of what has been a turbulent year. It is not over, it will never be over but I am doing what I must to survive. With this new position I have reignited some old passions, submitted works I have penned into competitions and rekindled my love affair with my Uly... Which involved a night locked away in the garage, just the two of us, I stripped her down and rewired in the Autocom unit that had been removed a few months ago. It should have only taken an hour but I did not leave until the very early hours. It was quality time we have long needed. We also worked out a little list of mods and fixes that I will attempt to get done over the next year to open and close this new chapter.

First off...the front mudguard has got to go. So I have already ordered from Trojan Horse a carbon fibre front fender and upper front fender. That will finally solve that 'itch'.

Then next on the list is to sort the damage done in the RTA. So the bellypan will have to be swapped out, this is where the new Touratech "streetline" of accessories save the day. The following are on my shopping list:

- The Large Engine Guard
- The Small Engine Guard
- The Protector For The Oil Filter
- The Oil Cooler Protector

After all that I am debating what comes next, either I go back to Trojan Horse and get a Remus Powerizer to sort out the little niggles I have with the engine OR I put safety concerns first and go to Motolight and order some spotlights. I think the spotlights will win out but currency conversion rates and personal finances will ultimately decide when these mods are done.

Spring feels like it is being a little lazy in getting going, but I do not mind. Will give me more time to think and enjoy the coming warmth. So yes, everything changes but some things also stay the same. My favorite quote really says it all in the end;

"For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze." - Richard Bode, First you have to row a little boat

After that unprecedented insight there is only one thing left to say... keep the rubber side ;-)

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Don't Get Mad...Get MAG Ireland


At the Irish Motorcycle Show just gone by among the many exhibitors I got to chat to were the always interesting people at the MAG Ireland stall. So who is MAG Ireland?

First off they are the Motorcycle Action Group and the best way to describe their role is to think of them as an 'union for motorcyclists', so MAG is only ever going to be as strong and influential as its membership. You sign up for a nominal fee which also entitles you to discounts to certain motorcycle shops and a quarterly newsletter to keep you up to pace with what is going on.

Among the many issues that are threatening the health of the motorcycle community the following are a few examples of what they are involved with here in Ireland;

- The Introduction Of Compulsory Basic Training
- New Elements To The Motorcycle Test
- Introduction Of The 'Direct Access' Test
- The Ongoing Bus Lanes Fiasco
- VAT On Motorcycle PPE

Then on European wide issues in conjunction with FEMA they are tackling;

- The Introduction Of Daylight Running Lights On All Cars From 2011
- UN Proposal To Reduce Noise On Motorcycles
- CO2 Emissions
- Road Worthiness Testing
- Restricting ALL EU Motorcycles To 100bhp!

Interested in getting involved yet??

They are also a useful source of information concerning upcoming events in the motorcycle community. So help do your part in making motorcycling in Ireland and Europe better for motorcyclists and not suffer at the whim of blinkered bureaucrats.

MEP elections are just a few weeks away...ask the next person who knocks on your door wanting your vote what they will do for motorcyclists? Ban us, restrict us or work with us to make the roads safer and enjoyable for everyone?

As always, keep the rubber side down.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Old Enough To Choose (Are We Ever)?

Funny that on one side of the planet China is criticized for having family planning policies relating to how many children a family may have while in Europe (in some states) we can decide when we want to die. Now in the name of 'social planning' states can rule you unfit to work not based on anything but your birthday regardless of you ability. Positive discrimination taking a further darker twist? There seems to be fewer and fewer things in this world that we truly have any freedom to choose, other then from the options presented to us.

So are we ever really old enough to choose? (That is my cup of cynicism for the day...)
clipped from euobserver.com

"National legislation may provide, in a general manner, that this kind of difference of treatment on grounds of age is justified if it is a proportionate means to achieve a legitimate social policy objective related to employment policy, the labour market or vocational training," the ECJ ruled.

In a press release following the ECJ's opinion, Age Concern said it was given "hope" by the ruling and would continue fighting against forced retirement.

"Challenging financial circumstances mean it is even more important for older workers to be able to choose to work for longer if they want to. Ageism in all its forms must be eradicated from our society once and for all," said Mr Cann.

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