Winter into Spring: Transitions and Preparations; Divine Providence; Road Whispering.

I think we’ve reached the last of the cold mornings. When I took off to ride to my job the other day at 7 am it was 42 degrees (5 degrees Celsius) and when I returned it was 80 degrees (26 Celsius). It’s as if winter hasn’t wanted to let go, that it’s shouting “put up your dukes” to Spring. They fight it out with rain and tornadoes, swollen rivers, blustery winds, and thunderstorms. It’s as if winter has no memory of all the seasons before, despite the shouting blooming all around trying to get its attention. There are the dogwood trees, and red buds, cherry trees, magnolias, and azaleas. How can winter not notice the garlands of purple wisteria draped among the trees? The yellow buttercups in the field with the romping chestnut roan and the leaning shack with the bright red door?

Winter is a slow learner, like me. I ride the same stretch of Interstate 75 for twenty miles to work and keep forgetting the pothole in the right of the middle lane near Resaca. Bam! I always think I’ve probably blown a tire or damaged my rim. Other times, I forget to charge my heated gloves for the morning ride.

I’m excited now and counting down the days (May 12th) until I head off on my cross-country trip to LA. Researching possible places to stop along the way, where I might stay in LA, has my head spinning. I think Big Red (my 2004 Harley Road King), and I will just leave it up to Divine Providence – The Tao. I’ll do some road whispering while I ride. And, thinking of the hot days ahead of me, the heat lines rising off the baking roads in Texas, I’ll probably miss winter.

Senior, Bachelor Gentleman, Biker Blues

My 1973 BMW R60/5 is parked right now at a Panera Restaurant and I am lamenting the fact that it’s raining outside, and I forgot to bring my rain jacket. Forgetfulness is a common characteristic of the senior biker. Mindfulness helps. Before I leave, I say to myself: “Okay, what am I missing?” However, along with my raincoat, I forgot mindfulness too this morning.

I was married for 23 years before we divorced. Suddenly, I was thrown out into the dating world (seven years ago now) and it was a shock. I really didn’t know how to do it. The rules I had used years earlier, which weren’t that good even then, were clearly outdated. Still, in the last few I managed to meet and date a few women who I somehow inexplicably charmed even with my anachronistic ways. Maybe it was pity for me. I’m not too proud. I can take pity.

Being a teacher, I don’t work in the summer, and given that my children live in distant places I tend to travel, especially on my motorcycle. My daughter lives in LA and I live in Georgia, so I like to take cross country trips on my motorcycle to see her. I’m getting excited because she is due to have her first child in a little over a month. I’m planning on riding out there.

Since my divorce, two of the women I dated dumped me because of travel and distance. One, for some reason, didn’t like it when I announced that I was heading out on the bike for a couple of months. We discussed it but I still got a text from her breaking it off, at a Love’s Travel Stop somewhere west of Santa Claus, Illinois. Another woman, who contacted me through Facebook, I met four times after I just happened to be driving by Peoria, Illinois. After all, it’s only 650 miles from here.  (Okay, I admit it – nobody just happens to be driving by Peoria). Our relationship played out well there but didn’t when we tried to take it on the road. After a few months she cancelled any further performances. So, I’ve been wary since.

I’ve met a few lovely women since, and I enjoy their friendship immensely. But I always know that at some point I’m going to hit the road once more and I don’t want to go through all that heartache again, riding and obsessing over whether I have another text waiting for me, maybe this time outside Eureka, Nevada on US Route 50. I’ve been down that road before.

Such are some of the laments of the senior, gentleman bachelor, biker.

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Announcing!!! My Latest Novel: Hope: The Adventures of Sid, the Buddhist, Ninja Detective; Motorcycles included.

Now available on an Amazon site nearest you. Ebook too!

https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Adventures-Buddhist-Ninja-Detective/dp/1090295529/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1553443881&refinements=p_27%3AGene+Powers&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Gene+Powers

 

In Georgia’s sultry Savannah, under the canopy of live oak trees and swaying Spanish moss, there’s been a bizarre murder in an historic square. Sid, the Buddhist, Ninja detective has been called in to help solve the crime. While some murders have no leads; this one has too many – a broken romance, a victim who worked for a mysterious international art gallery, even the death of a former prostitute twenty years earlier. Sid needs the help of retired, former detective, Rory Connor, but first, he must track him down, which won’t be easy. Last time anyone saw Connor he was hightailing it south on his motorcycle named Rocinante, on a quest to resurrect the Laws of Chivalry in this callous, modern world. Somebody’s got to do it. Find love, murder, hope and redemption amidst the blooming camellias, azaleas and resurrection ferns of Savannah. Ride along with Sid on the cobblestone streets and help him solve the mystery before someone else is killed. Let’s face it; he’s going to need all the help he can get.

Here’s a link to my other novels:

https://www.genepowers.org/

 

 

The Challenges of Winter Motorcycling: Part Three – Freezing Weather, Frozen Humor.

As much as I love riding my motorcycle throughout the year, when it dips below 40 degrees F. (4 Celsius) my Harley and I have to have a “come to Jesus talk”. If I’m only tootling around town then I’ll hop on the bike. But if I’m doing the 50 miles (80 k) one way to work the story is different. First, I have to make sure the bike will start. If the temp goes below freezing at night the bike might just want to sleep in a bit more. One day it wouldn’t start, and I had to use my 1973 BMW bike, which ironically, cranked immediately. You have to love those Germans! I finally managed to get one of those portable jump starters so the 2004 Road King will always start now; one way or the other.

Then, I have to look at my cold riding gear. I can’t afford the expensive stuff, so I’ve gathered a mix of things over the years. I do have battery operated heated gloves, but they only last an hour and don’t heat the top of my hands. (I have to have a spare battery pack for the way home.) I have long underwear, my regular trousers and then my rain trousers on top of them. Then, I have a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, my leather vest and a rain jacket on top. Because I’m short, stuffed up I look a lot like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Then I bought some incredibly warm socks that I wear. I have a full-face helmet and a black (Snoopy?) aviator’s silk scarf to wrap around my neck. That will keep me from being frozen for about 25 miles which is roughly the distance to a Starbucks, my stopping place on the way.

The rest of the way is interstate and high speed. At 70 mph and 40 degrees the windchill makes it feel like 23.8 F (-4.6 C), according to the internet. At 34 degrees F, the coldest I’ve ridden these days, it feels like 15F (-9.4C). The other day it was so cold I had to break frozen smoke off my exhaust pipe; so cold that the trees I passed were chopping themselves into firewood. You get the idea. At least it wasn’t snowing, as it was when I was riding in Canada a few years ago, or when I was crossing the Rocky Mountains once in Colorado. (Stories on this blog)

I go back to work in three days and it’s supposed to be 38 degrees when I leave. I’m just going to forget about that for now.

If you’ve got any cold riding tips, other than “don’t”, please let me know. Otherwise, if you see a guy next week on a motorcycle with icicles on his helmet that would be me. Don’t forget to wave. I’ll met you at the next Starbucks.

The Challenges of Winter Motorcycling: Part Two – Autumn Rides

I tried to capture the beauty of an Autumn ride and made these notes a few months ago.

A rustic, weatherworn, gray shack

With a bright red door.

A sun-glistening brown horse

Plays with the buttercups

Pink and charcoal clouds float

In a haint blue sky,

Looking like their arms are crossed.

 

Later, riding home

The sky, honey-apricot.

Black clouds scud like ravens,  

Over the orange-scarlet colors of the sumac leaves.

The Challenges of Winter Motorcycling: Part One – Beginnings

This past June I decided to see how long I could go relying only on my motorcycle for transportation. My goal was that of trying to go a whole year using just the bike. I remember having ridden, out of necessity, through the winter of 1978 in Atlanta. I had an old Toyota Corona, but it was broken so I relied on my 1972 BMW R60/5. Starting in 1970, BMW had begun installing electric starters on their bikes, while retaining the traditional kick starter. In 1973 they extended the wheel base on the model so as to, among other things, allow for a larger battery to be installed. But mine was a 1972. The poor, smaller battery was usually not up to the job, especially on cold days and so I was left with trying to kick start the bike or finding a hill. Fortunately, there was a big hill a block away from where I lived. If I couldn’t kick start her, I’d push the bike over to the spot, open the gas petcocks, tickle the Bing carburetors, hop on and go flying down the hill.  At the right moment I’d pop her into second gear and she would kick over and the engine would start humming. Worst case scenario I’d have to, Sisyphus – like, push her back up the hill and try again. Ah, the good old days! A few years ago, when I decided to buy an old BMW like my first one, I decided to get the year later model, the 1973 version, that would accommodate a bigger battery. But I really wasn’t worried because by this time I also owned Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King.  She could weather anything. Well, except for one cold morning in early November when she wouldn’t start. I had to get to work! So, I went over to the old BMW which I hadn’t started in a few months, opened the petcocks to let the gas flow, pushed the choke levers down, pressed the starter and she cranked right up! So, I grabbed my bag and rode the fifty miles up to work, without a problem.  Well, without a problem on the ride. My BMW still has its limitations as you would expect any 45-year-old motorcycle to have. The neutral light has gone out, so you have to just try and feel neutral when you’re changing gears or coming to a stop. The speed limit when I had a BMW in the 1970’s and 80’s was 55mph, which she easily handled. But now, on the interstate, it was 70mph which was a slight challenge. Only slight because the BMW’s speedometer was broken, so I couldn’t tell how fast I was going anyway. RPM gauge didn’t work either. She accelerated slowly, and she still had a 45-year-old headlight. Whoa, I just realized I could say almost the same things about myself, although next month I’ll be turning 65 years old. I definitely have a hard time finding neutral and I accelerate much more slowly. Fortunately, neither one of us have any leaks, yet.

I put the charger on the Harley battery over night and she cranked right up the next morning. And after a little rest that night, I did too.

Philosophy, Time Tunnel, and Motorcycle Riding: Heidegger

In the late 1960’s there was a TV show called The Time Tunnel about two scientists, Doug and Tony, who got caught up in a time machine. While their scientific compatriots were trying to bring them home Doug and Tony bounced around from one historic time period to another. This week they might show up on the Titanic; next week in the Badlands of South Dakota on the day when Custer made his last stand.  Their appearance in another time zone was inevitably accompanied by them being thrown, tumbling out of the swirling black and white striped cave and onto the ground in their new temporary home.

The philosopher Heidegger coined a term “Geworfen” which essentially translates to “being thrown”. He suggests that individuals are essential “thrown” into the world. We’re thrown into this world with an attendant list of people, circumstances, sufferings, and conditions that we had no control over but must make the best of.

This is how I felt when I returned to the USA after having lived in Ireland for 17 years – as if someone had thrown me out of the time tunnel and I had landed here. I still feel it now and again when I’ve entered into some new situation, something unknown. As the poet Rilke put it:  when “Our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity”. These feelings are accentuated when I travel long distance, especially on the Harley. I end up being thrown into towns where I don’t know anyone, and folks are eyeing me suspiciously. (People eye me suspiciously even in the town I live in!) The choice is to accept the way others see us, to live up to their expectations – to avoid the anxiety inherent in the possibility of freedom – or to embrace it. In addition to being thrown into our existence, Heidegger also says that humans are Sein-zum-Tode – “Beings toward Death”. (Those Germans have a word for everything! Mark Twain once exclaimed that eternity was invented by God so that people would have a long enough time to learn German!) Living with this truth, that we are all on the road to death, is not meant to be depressing, instead, it allows us to step out of our “Everydayness” (“Alltäglichkeit” in German), and to become more passionately aware of our freedom and choices. It reminds us to be aware that our time is limited, that we need to dare to be ourselves despite external pressures, so that we can move from an inauthentic way of living to a more authentic one.

Along with Doug and Tony, we’re constantly being thrown out of the time tunnel. It’s up to us to decide and act upon, who we’re going to be.

Philosophy, Time Tunnel, and Motorcycle Riding: Heidegger

In the late 1960’s there was a TV show called The Time Tunnel about two scientists, Doug and Tony, who got caught up in a time machine. While their scientific compatriots were trying to bring them home Doug and Tony bounced around from one historic time period to another. This week they might show up on the Titanic; next week in the Badlands of South Dakota on the day when Custer made his last stand.  Their appearance in another time zone was inevitably accompanied by them being thrown, tumbling out of the swirling black and white striped cave and onto the ground in their new temporary home.

The philosopher Heidegger coined a term “Geworfen” which essentially translates to “being thrown”. He suggests that individuals are essential “thrown” into the world. We’re thrown into this world with an attendant list of people, circumstances, sufferings, and conditions that we had no control over but must make the best of.

This is how I felt when I returned to the USA after having lived in Ireland for 17 years – as if someone had thrown me out of the time tunnel and I had landed here. I still feel it now and again when I’ve entered into some new situation, something unknown. As the poet Rilke put it:  when “Our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity”. These feelings are accentuated when I travel long distance, especially on the Harley. I end up being thrown into towns where I don’t know anyone, and folks are eyeing me suspiciously. (People eye me suspiciously even in the town I live in!) The choice is to accept the way others see us, to live up to their expectations – to avoid the anxiety inherent in the possibility of freedom – or to embrace it. In addition to being thrown into our existence, Heidegger also says that humans are Sein-zum-Tode – “Beings toward Death”. (Those Germans have a word for everything! Mark Twain once exclaimed that eternity was invented by God so that people would have a long enough time to learn German!) Living with this truth, that we are all on the road to death, is not meant to be depressing, instead, it allows us to step out of our “Everydayness” (“Alltäglichkeit” in German), and to become more passionately aware of our freedom and choices. It reminds us to be aware that our time is limited, that we need to dare to be ourselves despite external pressures, so that we can move from an inauthentic way of living to a more authentic one.

Along with Doug and Tony, we’re constantly being thrown out of the time tunnel. It’s up to us to decide and act upon, who we’re going to be.

The Patron Saint of Motorcyclists Feast Day, November 23rd.

Just reminding everyone that today is that special day where motorcyclists everywhere wander out to their garage to stare at the bike they wish they could ride today if it wasn’t so dang cold.  St Columbanus Feast Day!

Here’s a link to a page I wrote a while back to explain as to why Columbanus is our patron saint.

https://2cyclepaths.com/2013/06/14/the-patron-saint-of-motorcycle-riders/

Motorcyclists that do venture out today will most certainly be wishing each other: Sona (happy in Irish) Columbanus Day! We are far more literary and learned than we look!

Sona Columanus Day!

 

 

 

Savannah, Georgia, 1790 Inn, Ghosts, Sauntering through History, Craic, and Mindfulness on a Motorcycle Sojourn, Pascal.

I had a couple of days off for Fall break and so I decided to head to Savannah. Savannah is featured in my last two and latest book – The Adventures of Sid- novels and I wanted to make the scene locations as accurate and vivid as possible. You can check out all of my novels here: https://www.genepowers.org/ . The biggest anticipatory problem with driving to Savannah from Rome, Georgia is that it’s pretty much 330 miles and you have to go through downtown Atlanta. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King cruised along beautifully, except for the red warning light about my battery that appeared and disappeared at random. I figured it was the regulator. I also figured that on a Sunday morning there wasn’t much I could do about it other than keep riding. After meeting with my buddy Joe and his family at Starbucks in Macon the battery light went to sleep for the rest of the trip.

I decided to stay at the 1790 Inn again because it’s in the center of town, where I can walk everywhere and because part of it was built by my great grandfather who lived there with his family for years. Supposedly there are ghosts there, but there’s no extra charge for that. The hospitality is always wonderful at the Inn which is probably why the ghosts like to hang around.

Not much I can say about Savannah that hasn’t been said before. My favorite bar is Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub and I have been visiting there for over thirty years. Irish beer on tap, Irish music seven night a week and no televisions or gaming machines. In 2016 it was voted the Most Authentic Irish Pub in the World, even beating out entries from Ireland, which is bizarre when you think about it. Some of my favorite places to eat are the Crystal Beer Parlor, Hilliards, the Pink House, and the Pirate’s House, which even gets a mention in the book Treasure Island!

But what I love most is simply walking around the historic district, through the squares filled with majestic live oak trees and swaying Spanish moss. And traipsing down the cobblestone ramps to River Street.

The historic area is not a great place to ride a motorcycle in, because of all of the stop and go traffic, the blind spots, pedestrian walkways, and the cobblestone roads down to River Street. Better to park the bike and walk. Save your riding for the beautiful trip along the marsh, palm trees and oleanders down to Tybee Island.

Before I headed home I spent a couple of hours in the Inn’s bar. Nice comfy place with a lot of folks I could tell were regulars. However, every 15 minutes or so a wave of people flooded the place, having been dropped off for a drink by one of the Ghost Tour Operators. It was fun talking with some of them and hearing their thoughts on Savannah and on whether they’d seen any ghosts. None had so far and they didn’t seem to care. They were just enjoying the craic, as they would say in Ireland, the fun of it all.

I spent about six hours each way on the bike and although it was all interstate I enjoyed it. Personally, I don’t listen to music. One of my favorite philosophers, Pascal, once said: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I just enjoy thinking and meditating, riding with awareness, mindfulness and gratitude, especially gratitude. Pascal also said: “In difficult carry something beautiful in your heart.”