Apr 17, 2012

Bowling with the Ducks 2012: Making a Difference One Pin at a Time

If you've paid attention to my blog you know I occasionally rant and rave about things non-moto related.  Usually it's about my dog (Trout) or something to do with LEO's or the Kilcullen Project (http://www.kilcullenproject.org/).  This time I'm ranting about the Kilcullen Project indirectly, but more specifically, about a little boy who's been through hell and is slowly working his way back.

I first met this little boy, Riley, last summer when the Kilcullen Project (which was just a spark at that time) helped paint Chief Painter's house where Riley and his mother lived. After a tragedy there are those who show up with flowers and casseroles and then there are  always a number of loyal hold outs who are there when the weeks turn to months.   Some of those hold outs were there with us...Amy's old friends and some new with paint brushes in their hands, running errands and taking the time to keep us company and make us laugh.  But I digress...

In the time I've known Riley he's been quiet and my attempts to steal a slight smile or even a smirk have fallen flat.  He is a boy who appears to be fighting inner torment, almost afraid to smile for fear of breaking.

There is one thing that I've seen bring a small glimmer to Riley's eyes.  It is the University of Oregon Ducks.  Once when driving down the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Highway someone pointed out Autzen Stadium and Riley was leaning over the seat looking through the trees just trying to get a glimpse.  When the opportunity arose to get Riley a spot on the bowling team with a Duck player, it was too good to pass up.  Mrs. Kilcullen made it happen.

Riley showed up wearing a #24 jersey.  He didn't say much and stood by his mom with a look of fear.  Hands held in front, toying with each other.  Riley's lane mate, Kenjon Barner (Ducks number 24) walked up with Riley each time he bowled, helping him and cheering him on.  It was a gesture I'll never forget.

Soon, Riley was running around getting his shirt signed by the players and although I still had not seen a full on smile, he was getting closer.

After the pizza was eaten, the shirts were all signed, and Riley and his mom had won two pair of sunglasses, it was time to go.  The final awards had been handed out and signed bowling pins went to the victors.

As we were standing, gathering our t-shirts and saying our goodbyes, something wonderful happened.  Callie, Chip Kelly's assistant, brought over a signed pin and told Riley she'd found an extra and wanted him to have it.   Riley held it like he wasn't sure what was going on...and then he actually smiled.  Riley smiled.  Over a bowling pin.  It was a beautiful moment.  Then he carried that bowling pin around like it was worth a trillion dollars.

It is tragic to hear of a fatality in the LEO family... and heartbreaking to see the children left behind, lost and confused as sadness hangs like a shadow.  It is even worse when people think just because time has passed, life is better, life is grand, and that loss is no longer felt.  I know at some point you have to stop being angry about the time you didn't get and rejoice about the time you had but I'm not sure how an 8 year old does that.  Or how they even understand it.  I think we, as a community, need to find a way to keep supporting families, to help when it is needed, and to remember that sometimes a small smile is the start of a healing process that will continue forever.

A HUGE THANK YOU to the University of Oregon, the entire football team, Callie, Coach Kelly, Emerald Lanes, Track Town Pizza, and the citizens who showed up to bowl, support, and laugh at the second Bowling with the Ducks.  Each and every one of you helped support a great cause in the Officer Chris Kilcullen Memorial Scholarship and made a difference in the life of Riley Painter...who is probably sleeping with a bowling pin.  

One HAPPY boy!!!

Written with permission from Mrs. Ralph Painter.

Apr 10, 2012

European Motorcycle of Western Oregon: Runkle's 6k Service

There are a few things about owning a BMW that make me cringe.  One is the Charlie and Ewan references (and I LOVE Ewan.  I would travel across the WORLD to hook up with him....I mean to go on a ride...I mean, a motorcycle ride with him.) The second, most terrible thing in the entire BMW universe, is SERVICE TIME.  I mean, really, why IS it so expensive?  Geez.  I keep telling myself, "If you bitch about the price of service and maintenance, clearly you shouldn't own that particular bike.  Get yourself a nice KLR and live on the cheap!"  I should.  I totally should.  But I never will.  I mean, there's always the chance of Ewan driving through town and stopping me simply because I'm on a BMW.  Riiggghhht.

So Runkle needed his 6K service (I think I'm ringing in around 6480 but who's counting) and since I moved to Eugene, I had no choice but to try out a new shop, European Motorcycles of Western Oregon (http://www.emcwor.com/).  I bought my bike at BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon, which is reportedly owned by the same chaps who own the Eugene store.  But, get this, it appears as though EVERYTHING IS SEPARATE.  Which, really, makes sense.  Until you have an issue.

When I bought Runkle he had a minor paint chip on the tank.  No big deal.  They (BMWOR, TIGARD) were going to fix it during my 600 mile service.  But they didn't.  So, they said they would catch it on the 6K.  Well, 6K happened and I was in Eugene.  No problem, right?  Same company.  Life is never that easy.  The service department in Eugene (David) did a good job of communicating what they wanted to do...which was to send the bike away for 3-4 days to get the spot repainted and blended.  Great.  Unless I want to ride.  I decided it wasn't worth the down time when it's just a tiny chip, and inquired about just getting a discount or something on merchandise or the service I needed.  Um, yeah, sure.  That's a possibility.  If I, operative word, I, call Tigard and chat with them.  Oh and I'd have to purchase whatever it was at the Tigard shop.  In Portland.  Two hours away.  Sweet Baby Jesus, what a pain in the arse.

Long boring story short, I'm getting a discount on tires, which Mr. McHotMoto, my Portland pal, explains,  means I'm getting them at internet prices.  Very uplifting.  (Looks like there's a discount to be had here, anyway...if you are in the Eugene area, check this out:  http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Redline-Headlines----Spring-is-in-the-air-.html?soid=1104746721083&aid=-8X6046JxjE)

For my issue, BMW of Tigard says they will pay the mounting/install fees, which reportedly run around $50 a tire.  Well, that's all dandy grandy.

Both stores could have told me to pound sand, but instead they were friendly, cooperative, and willing to go the extra mile (once I spoke to the right person in the right store).   So, I am giving them a thumbs up.

My major complaint from today (and you knew there would be one) is that today was DRY.  Not a raindrop in the sky until I was heading over to pick up the bike.   On the way home, it rained so much I had water dripping down my .... oh never mind.  You'd think I would have been prepared and brought the lining of my jacket?  Um, no.   Maybe it was my "sweet baby Jesus" comment???  Naw, it was raining before that.

Be safe.

FYI:   My service ran about $370 (minus the oil change).

Apr 8, 2012

Chatter Box Person to Person Communication Device: Huh?

Today was the first ride with my new ChatterBox XBi (http://chatterboxusa.com/).  Wait, let me back up...I've been waiting to buy a bluetooth compatible headset for awhile from a co-worker...who lost the charger...then found it...then lost it...then found it...then finally told me to quit holding my breath.  I just NEEDED a headset so I could listen to my tunes while riding without dealing with cords and earbuds that like to slide out of my fat ears.

A riding pal did some research and  was purchasing the ChatterBox XBi...and like any good for nothing lazy bum I jumped on the bandwagon since the research had been done by someone else.  I even waited for him to install his then politely conned him into installing mine.  So, installation questions?  Yeah, don't ask me.  All I know for sure is it didn't take him very long and he did an awesome job.  (Thanks! You ROCK! Wanna wash my bike now?)

Those of you who know me or have read my blog know I'm very skilled at...eating, drinking, and procrastinating.  Anything technical (you know, like even using your iPhone properly) is lost on me and my patience.  I'm the worst kind of lazy when it comes to anything techno.  I don't real manuals and don't even take the two minutes to watch the YouTube videos showing exactly how to do things.  Much easier to get frustrated and swear and wonder why people make things so difficult.  I did open the box on the Chatter Box...and thought...hmmm...now THIS is why I need a man.  (Oh, sure, I thought of a few other reasons as well, geez, I'm not DEAD.)  

The first thing I noticed about the ChatterBox is the control unit is not as unsightly as I thought it would be.  It doesn't stick out from the side of the helmet and distract drivers in the other lane, which I seriously worried about (I may have had a bit to drink when that thought hit me.)  No, it's actually pretty darn unassuming.

Probably the best thing about the ChatterBox XBi is that I no longer have to deal with putting my helmet on and pulling my darn ear buds out...so I can listen to my tunes while riding, which is something I've learned to love now that I'm able to do two things at once.  Eventually I'm going to try chewing gum, riding, and listening to music.  Baby steps.

You can link two ChatterBox XBi's so if you have a passenger you can communicate while riding.  Or, you can talk to your buddy on another bike...if you are CLOSE.  I'm at a loss to really consider any time when I would need to have a full conversation while riding but still, I allowed my ChatterBox to be linked.  And guess what? It is kind of cool.  No more sitting at a stop light trying to understand hand signals while some dude is screaming at me that he can't hear me.  And, it's pretty awesome to be able to say "see ya later aligator!" as we wait for the stop sign before I turn one way and my rider buddy turns another.

Time will tell if this ChatterBox is a dream come true or just another piece of equipment that eventually leaves me pissed off.  I've already thought of some good improvements...I'd kill for a remote I could put on my bars so I wouldn't have to fumble with the control unit trying to find the right button.  Of course, I'm sure the more I use it, the faster I'll be able to figure out what the heck I'm doing.

I bought my ChatterBox from Motorcycle Superstore on sale for $119.  The ChatterBox unit is fun, functional, and perfect for listening to tunes using the bluetooth on my iPhone.  Once I get really skilled maybe I'll stop accidentally dialing people while riding.  Until then, if you get a buttdial from me, it's actually a helmet dial...and when I'm screaming "Asshat!" it's not at you, but at the guy who just flew past me at warp speed...

Be safe ya'll.

Apr 2, 2012

Beautiful weather and a sweet surprise!

Blue skies?  I almost forgot what they look like! 
Rode the moto to work today.  In Oregon.  In April.  Forecast was for blue skies and this time, I wasn't leaving anything to chance.  I was doing it, weather be damned.  When I got to work I suffered through the boys making fun of me...and thought about piercing my nose since it was frozen.

At lunch, instead of heading out to grab some Scooby Snacks, I hit the gym...anything to avoid going outside and suffering for the remainder of the day working when I should have been out riding. I was thankful for no window seat.  I couldn't see the bright sun, the wonderful blue skies.  Work or play?  Work or play?  Play?

Finally around 1:00 I asked my co worker if it was actually warm outside or just blue skies of deceit.   He reported it was warm and beautiful.  Damn.  Now what?  Around 3:15 PM I thought, Oh geez.  You only have so many days of sunshine in April!  GO!

Cross (Formerly SquidBike, which was also not his real name, though that would have been funny) and I rode west of Eugene to Lorane Highway on roads that were awesome.  Curves, minimal traffic, beautiful scenery.  It was perfect riding.  The kind of riding that makes you forget about everything but the music coming through your iPod..."I know better not to be friends with boys with girlfriends... I know better..."  (Crap. Meiko is a buzz kill.)

Somewhere along the way Cross suggested  I ride his Honda CBR and although I couldn't think of a WORSE idea, finally, I gave in and chattered, "I hope I wreck it."  After getting on I realized either my pants were slippery on the seat or I had just peed myself.

At this point I was wondering if I would have time to actually ride away before Cross changed his mind...

Once on the CBR I proceeded slowly so the voices in my head would have time to stop screaming, "Stop you idiot! Stop! You'll poke your eye out!  You'll be in a wheelchair!  They'll have to scrape your body off the asphalt!"  I finally took a moment and let positivity's warmth roll over me (maybe it was the pee dripping down my leg).

I think the CBR is a lot like what I would assume riding on a rocket would feel like...legs way back, arms so far forward you may as well be laying on the tank, holding on for dear life...where's the damn shifter?  I gave it a little gas and thought, HOLY SHEET this thing sounds GOOD!!!  (Cross's comment at that point:  "You just wasted five bucks worth of gas."  Oops!)

Ok, he asked for it.  I mean, it's not like I've been pressuring him to let me ride it.  I'm totally taking this beotch out for a spin and we'll see who survives.   It's a slow start as I rev it up too much and the clutch is so far from being let out...and then I'm off.  I'm on the road. (And thinking, "I DIDN'T stall it!  Hot darn!)  I'm cruising along like I know what I'm doing. (Which is dangerous, if you know me.)   I give it a little throttle and SURPRISE!  This bike is nice.  It's not what I expected.  The seat isn't bad, the position isn't that terrible, and the power...oh the power is like an old friend who you never realize you miss until you see them again after a long absence.  At this point I'm a little pissed I told him to ride in front of me (I mean, just how big does one's arse look on one of these??) because I'm wanting to hit the throttle and see what this bike can do.  Of course, I know if I do that I'll take a corner and be eating trees but that doesn't mean the urge isn't there.  Cornering on this bike is something totally different than cornering on the BMW GS.  There is no fear, there is simply pure cornering bliss.

There is something spectacular about this bike...perhaps it is the fact that my expectation was to hate it and instead, I loved it.  I should know by now that I'm usually wrong.  But still, squid bikes are for boys and men.  It is my firm belief that they were manufactured purely so chicks can dream about who is riding and what joyous adventure is under that helmet.   Regardless of the truth.

Happy Riding!

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