The 2014 bike show!

This past weekend was the annual bike show.  We decided to go on Friday evening because we figured it would be less crowded due to (a) Friday (b) raining (c) Halloween.  We were right — there were VERY few people there.  Probably pretty boring for the staff and vendors but it made it really easy to be there with four adults and two small children.

Our first stop was the Ducati booth where most of the family members found something to enjoy.



Dirtbikes make a little more sense for Kira at this stage.  I don’t want to encourage the $30,000 Penigale.



Did I mention it was empty?



Alex and I were there, too:



As far as interesting bikes go…I honestly wasn’t super impressed this year.

Styling is in another gross phase (IMHO) and it seems like all the tanks have this weird bulbous tumor shape going on.  There weren’t a lot of shorty-friendly offerings from Kawasaki or Yamaha this year (I continue my extreme displeasure with the direction the Ninja 300 is going in — I know they’re trying to make the “beginner bikes” look like their bigger sports bikes, but it’s not like tall people who prefer the look of supersports have a dearth of options).

I did like the CBR300R from Honda and the GW250F from Suzuki.  The latter was a little top-heavy but the ergos were pretty decent.  The GW250F is definitely the bike I would look most closely at if I were in the market for a new bike today (I’m not, thankfully).



I wanted to sit on the new R3 from Yamaha but they only had one and it was up on a platform.  I seriously don’t understand why manufacturers bring bikes to the show that people can’t even get a close look at.

Honestly, the most interesting “bike” there was an ergonomically customizable model of Spyder.  They came up with a tool for dealers that allows immediate measurement and placement for both handlebars and foot pegs.  The guy at the booth set me up with the hobbit sized placement and it was very comfortable.  I liked how you could swamp out handlebars in about 10 minutes and have a completely different setup for a taller vs shorter rider.  Setting aside the whole “blah blah is a Spyder a real motorcycle blah blah” topic, it was encouraging that this is something manufacturers are considering.



Oh, the other thing I got unnaturally excited about was that the HJC CL-Y Redline line of youth helmets now apparently do not suck!  They seemed to have the same venting system as the adult line AND the visor system is now a flush-mounted ratchet system as God intended.  For those of us with hobbit heads that need youth sized helmets, this is really cool.

So that was the bike show for us this year.  Nothing really stood out, though I am encouraged that so many 300cc bikes are coming to the States lately.  I don’t necessarily like the styling because I am old and cranky, but at least there are options that weren’t available 10 years ago.  Progress!

Posted in Alex, Kira, The Daily Grind | 4 Comments

Ken Sann

Not the blog update I was expecting to write today.

I was expecting to write a small ride report; it’s my day off from the kids (they’re both in daycare on Wednesdays) and I was hoping to run a few errands on the motorcycle and then head over to the coast for lunch.  My intent was to update the blog with some photos of the Lemos Farm horse (of course!), some sun, some ocean, some motorcycles.

Instead I post just one photo.

This picture was taken on June 28, 2002, on the first group ride.  Some of us NorCal folk met some SoCal folk in San Simeon.  We saw some elephant seals, visited Hearst Castle, and met some friends that as it turned out, lasted a lifetime.

Some of those lifetimes were way too short.




That’s a photo of his daughter there in his tank bag.  He spent all weekend talking about her.  She was, he said, “the best little girl in the world.”  In fact, that was his tagline on STN.

I don’t really have any more words.  RIP, Ken.  We all love you and know you were the best big daddy in the world.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

A ride with Kathleen and Jodie!

So, way back about ten bazillion years ago, I used to ride a lot with Women on Wheels.  I gradually stopped participating in the group for many reasons but have stayed in contact with a few members.

One of my good WOW friends, Jodie, moved to Arizona a few years ago. I stayed with her and her husband Mike on my cross-country trip in 2008; I’ve seen Jodie a couple of times since then when she’s visited the Bay Area, but that trip was the last time we rode together.

Kathleen still lives in the area but our paths rarely cross these days.   I can’t remember the last time I rode with her — it might have actually been the 2007 Pacific Rally in which Jodie, Kathleen, and I were the only attendees.

ANYHOO, Jodie was back in town a couple of weeks ago and I finagled a hall pass from Peter to go riding on a Saturday morning.  Hooray!  It was much more of a “catch up” meet than a riding meet, so we only did about 65 miles, but hey, it was riding! And it was great to chat with these ladies.

I hope to still be riding a BMW sport-tourer when I’m 70!


Jodie’s helmet is very visible:



Heading up Highway 9:



This next photo is pretty much the quintessential Highway 9 experience.  All it needs is a squid trying to drag a knee while tailgating you and it’s the perfect summary of riding in the hills on a weekend.



Highway 9 is under some major construction right now (and for the next couple of years), which I either didn’t know or had conveniently forgotten about.  The result is that we spent some quality time hanging out at a traffic-controlled one-way light with about 40 of our closest car driving friends.   At least the weather was nice so we didn’t roast.



We probably sat there with our engines off just chillin’ for about 10 minutes.  Literally 2 minutes after we started going again, my camera battery died.  WTF!  So I have no photos of the well-lit wide-open sweepers.  That’s the kind of awesome quality you’ve come to expect from my blog!

We did, however, eventually make it up to Alice’s, where we kicked tires for a little while and then went inside, had a great lunch, and chit-chatted for a while.



I have not magically grown — I’m standing on a curb in that picture.

So, not much long-distance riding from our long-distance riding friends, but it was a fun morning and we had some much-needed catching up.  Sometimes a leisurely 65 mile morning is more important than a 400 mile day!

Posted in Ninja 250, Rides, Women on Wheels | 2 Comments

A maintenance day for everyone

I’ve been back on the bike for a few weeks now and it was nagging me more and more that the Ninjette hadn’t had a service, not even an oil change, in 14 months.   Now, obviously I haven’t been riding for a good chunk of that, but still.  So I made up my mind to wrench on the bike today.

Then I got to thinking about it.  See, the last time I actually spun wrenches myself on a bike was years ago.  Years.  My wonderfully organized tool chest and bookshelf of supplies?  Hidden behind strollers and an extra carseat and a big metal file cabinet that Peter decided he needed and then stuck in the garage in front of my stuff.   My beautiful workbench that Peter built?  Buried under 2 years of garage clutter.  Ugh.  I so did not want to deal with any of that.

So I decided to take the Ninjette in to a mechanic.  Easier said than done…I haven’t taken the bike to an actual shop in a really long time.  Maybe 5 years?  Probably longer.  Anyway, long enough that every single shop I used to use has gone out of business, which I’m sure is a coincidence.  Even the closest Kawasaki dealer went under.  I was prepared to drive 25 miles to the next closest dealer for a service when Peter mentioned hearing about a local place.   Some quality time with the Google machine confirmed that — indeed! — there is an independent motorcycle service place in my own town.  And it gets great reviews online.  I called them up yesterday and they said they could work on my bike today.  SOLD!

It’s called Peninsula Motorsports Service & Repair, by the way, and you should go there.

I pulled up and was pleased to see a parking lot full of all kinds of bikes.  Cruisers, sports bikes, race bikes, dirt bikes, sport-tourers, adventure bikes, even a scooter.


I went in and chatted with the front desk guy for a few minutes.  I gave him a brief rundown of what I would do if I had the time and inclination — oil/filter change, coolant change, checking of various systems and cables and hoses, adjust and clean the chain.   He was incredibly nice and never did the condescending-to-female-rider bullshit or tried to up sell me on anything.  He showed me where I could leave my gear and I said I’d be back in a couple of hours.

My bike in good hands, I was off to the second maintenance of the day: me!  Yeah, OK, the motorcycle repair shop got great reviews online, but let’s be honest, a big reason I chose to take the bike there was because it was just under a mile away from a day spa.  Have I mentioned that I’m a massage junkie?  Because I am.  And it always amuses me to go to a new day spa wearing motorcycle gear and see how I’m treated.  Seriously, I can usually tell whether the services are any good based on whether I’m ignored by the receptionist in favor of women with perfect hair and makeup and manicures.

Happily, I can report that Avant Day Spa is motorcycle friendly.  I wasn’t wearing all of my gear, so my test wasn’t 100% accurate — guess I’ll just have to go back — but I did walk in looking like a “before” from What Not to Wear.  Motorcycle boots, jeans, graphic T-shirt, hair in ponytail.



This was my first time at this spa and I was quite impressed.  I went with the “aromatherapy” massage and got a custom-blended oil, including a take-home bottle for the extra.



See how I really classy up the place with my motorcycle boots?  Just what you want in your upscale business!



I realize that, as a parent, my standards for luxury are now set incredibly low (“is anyone currently actively pooping on me?”) but the infused water and free snacks were really good.  I could have sat there all day.

Anyway, the massage was great and then I had lunch at a sushi place literally right next door.  Win!

After lunch, I walked back to Peninsula Motorsports, where my bike was already done (they had called while I was eating).    Everything was done and ready in 2.5 hours and for under $200.  I think it would have taken me 2.5 hours just to find my tools.  The mechanic reported that everything looked good, except for the front axle nut, which was finger tight. This is the downside to riding a Ninjette — at least once a year, some incredibly important piece of the bike is one pothole away from vibrating off.  Last year, the engine mount bolts were finger tight; this year it was the axle.  Next year it’ll be the steering stem or something.  Check your bolts, fellow Ninjette riders!

The only problem that I had was my own fault…since it had been approximately forever since I’d had a mechanic work on my bike, I forgot to mention that I intentionally have my clutch lever set incorrectly.  The mechanic at Peninsula very nicely put the friction zone back where god and Kawasaki intended, which means that I nearly wheelied going out of the parking lot as I had revved to about 13891923823791723 RPMs by the time it finally engaged.

This is where the mechanic (and Kawasaki) put my friction zone:


This is where I actually want the friction zone, due to having tiny hobbit-sized hands:



That was easy to fix, though, and next time I’ll just remember to tell them not to mess with my clutch lever.

All in all, both the Ninjette and I had a very successful maintenance day and I highly recommend both Peninsula Motorsports and AvantGard Spa for your northern peninsula needs!



Posted in Mom Motorcycling, Ninja 250, Wrenching | 1 Comment

Pics from the last couple of rides

I did manage to get out on my bike the last two Wednesdays (thank goodness for daycare!).  Unfortunately, this timing perfectly coincided with my latest hacker infestation…oh WordPress, how I love your convenience and hate your constant exploits.

Anyway, I wasn’t able to update the blog until I nuked everything from orbit and reinstalled.  As noted in the comments from the last entry, there are probably still a few links that aren’t working…feel free to drop me a line if you notice any and I’ll restore from backup when I have time.

Anyway, speaking of time…I don’t have any to write “real” ride reports from the last two weeks, but here’s a photo dump of my favorites.

From last Wednesday:

Hooray, the Lemos Farm horse is painted again!


Yum, Sam’s Chowderhouse!



I rode to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and found a couple of new friends:



Checking out the new tunnel at Devil’s Slide:



Yesterday’s ride was pretty short because I had to get back to beat Wordpress into submission before picking the kids up from daycare.  But I did make it up to Alice’s for lunch and a quick jaunt along the coast again.




Posted in Ninja 250, Rides | 1 Comment