My First Bumble Date – or Bumbler Date

My First Bumble Date – or Bumbler Date

Having lived on my own for a year, and the divorce declared final over 7 months ago, I decided I was ready to jump back into the dating pool.  By “dating” I mean a social encounter with a woman I do not know well. The last time I did that, if you don’t count my ex-wife (let’s not), was almost a half a century ago!

I peeked at some of the dating sites, of which there appear to be an infinite number, and was not impressed. Most of them feature a come-on ad with a picture of a woman who looks like she would have as much difficulty getting a date as I do making a pun.  However, Bumble appealed to me.

As I understand it from the interview I watched a couple of years ago, Bumble is an app created by a woman who was one of the developers of Tinder.  Although Tinder has been very successful, she was not all that happy with it.  Tinder seems to be used by people looking for casual sex. To me, if the sex is casual you are not really understanding the concept. Although she had no moral qualms about the sex, she thought there could be a better solution.  Thus cameth Bumble.

Like Tinder, Bumble is free in the basic version. You fill out a profile and get sent pictures of people with the characteristics you specify and within a range of age and distance you specify.  You then swipe the picture right if you are interested and left if you are not. The difference is that with Bumble, when it comes to men and women, only the women can make the first texted response.  I liked that concept for a couple of reasons, so opted in.

What ensued was so tragicomic and farcical it sounds like a chapter from one of my novels, and it surely will be a chapter in the next one!

A “Cathy” responded to my swipe and we agreed to meet for coffee at 4:30pm Sunday at a coffee spot near her home somewhere in the Ravenna area.  How low stress can this be?  She can’t decide which place to go to (there are dozens in the area) so I suggest one Google shows me. I’ve never been there.  Super.

I texted her what my car looks like in case she got there before me, which was unlikely because I am early for everything – all the time.  (Hint: foreshadowing).  I texted what I would be wearing sitting inside if she got there after me.  I was an Explorer scout – be prepared.

I get ready for my first date since about 1971 with some trepidation.  This is like teen dating minus the acne and having to meet the parents!  I made myself look reasonably nice (all I can do, really), and set off.

First error:  I arrived at 4:30 and then noticed, to my horror, that the place I wanted is not on Ravenna Avenue but Ravenna Boulevard.  I got the correct directions and set off. 

Now I am late.  I make a wrong turn.  In this area of Seattle, the streets are narrow, and there is heavy traffic and lots of parked cars.  And stop lights.  If you make a wrong turn it can be 5 minutes to get back on track.  Now I am even later.  I pull over and text her to apologize and say I’m almost there.

Which I think is true.

Inexplicably, I make another wrong turn!  Now I am sweating bullets. I pull over and text her again. The horror continues like a really bad romcom movie. 

I finally find the place – and of course there is no place to park.  By the time I park the car and enter the coffee shop, I am 30 minutes late. 

She is not there.

I text her again and she replies that she got tired of waiting and left because I am 30 minutes late.   I tell her I am there now and ask her to come back.  I wait outside, and when I check my phone again, she has deleted the conversation!  There is no way for me to contact her. 

Game over.

Not only did I not get into the game, I never got on the field!

As I drove home, I had two thoughts:  

Here is a woman who has no empathy for someone who has driven 20 miles into a densely populated area he has never been in before.  A woman who has trouble selecting a place to meet for coffee in an area she lives in that is awash in choices. A woman who seems to have little patience, and even less of a sense of humor.  A woman who could have written back and said “No – forget it,” but chose instead to simply erase me. That was simply rude.

Or:   Here is a woman who has been down this road before and has been on dates with men who were very late or jerks in a myriad of other ways, and has simply had it up to here.

Either way, what are the odds we would have meshed together well, even if I’d been on time?  All said, I am probably ahead.

Next!

To be continued…probably.

Copyright 2019                              David Preston

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Life As a Paid Escort – On a Motorcycle

The Triumph Bonneville as Escort Bike

A month ago, I received a text from my friend Doug, looking for motorcycle escorts for an upcoming two-day charity bike ride.  From Cle Elum to Leavenworth over Blewitt Pass on Saturday, and back again on Sunday. Each bike ride would be about 55 miles.  I knew absolutely nothing about motorcycle escort work, but had always been interested.  Doug knew I’d worked in the motorcycle business for 14 years and figured I’d know people.

Well, I do. I was about to volunteer myself, as it sounded intriguing, but thought to ask for more info first. Turns out it included a motel room Friday and Saturday night, breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday, plus expense money, plus free beer Saturday evening!  So…did he need anyone besides me?

After some fun telling my friends I would be spending the weekend working as a paid escort, I installed the Cortech bags on my 2016 Triumph Bonneville and was off for the 90 or so freeway miles to Cle Elum.

The Friday night motel was at Suncadia Resort, although some of the hardier bicyclists camped in town next to the start.  I don’t really care for high end resorts (see my previous essay), but when the room is provided, I can stifle myself.

In the late afternoon the other “motos” arrived. Doug on his police spec BMW, Bill, Mitch, and Ian on BMW 1200 GS models, and Rob a bit later on a Kawasaki Concours 14. All of their bikes looked like moto escorts, and I was a bit concerned at what I might be asked to subject the Bonneville to.  Over a beer the role was explained. All we were to do was to be a presence – riding slowly behind or ahead of groups of bicyclists, with the four-way flashers on. We were not responsible for first aid or mechanical assistance or much of anything really.  Those sorts of things would be attended to by a squadron of “SAG wagons,” and I asked and learned that the acronym stood for “Support and Gear.”  These vehicles had bike racks on the back, and the drivers were members of a ham radio club that had been working this event for a decade or two. There was also a bicycle mechanic with a pickup truck who would be roaming the course. I began to relax.

In the evening there was a fascinating meeting with the SAG wagon crews and the moto riders.  Most of the moto fellows had been trained to do events similar to the Tour De France bicycle race. The company that puts on that also organizes bike races in California and Utah and other places. A bike race is an entirely different kettle of stew than a charity bike race, and much more demanding for the motos. To work those, you need an international license, which requires training and passing of tests and all that sort of thing.  I was awash in ignorance, but at least 3 of the moto guys had that license and a lot of experience.

The tension in the meeting with the SAG crews, motos, and the event organizer sizzled with unspoken tension, and I soon figured out why.  The SAG crews had been doing this for years and were positive their methods were the right ones. Same for the motos, but their methods were different!  Last year there had been disagreements that had become extremely heated, so the purpose of this meeting was to iron out the ruffled feathers.  If you have even attempted to iron ruffled feathers, it is difficult.  Everyone was polite, and by the end of the meeting agreement was reached. During the event, it seemed that nothing really had changed. Each group did what they usually did – they just dropped the heated exchanges.

The problem seemed to be that both groups wanted to ensure the safety of the bike riders, particularly those at the tail end.  The SAG crews all had communication, but the motos did not.  If you were a moto going back to pick up the tail end Charlies and Charlottes, you could not be sure how far back to go, because the person you thought was at the back an half and hour ago might have had a mechanical or simply become too fatigued and had been picked up by a SAGH wagon and you would not know. This happened to me on Sunday, but in the end, everything seemed to work well.

Saturday morning we motored to downtown Cle Elum to the start, where an immense breakfast was laid out by one of several Rotary clubs that supported the event. Well fed, we lined up the motos under the inflated arch that served as the start and finish.  Eventually we left, riding at a moderate pace for the first mile or so of the course.  Frequent signage pointing out turns was welcome, since I did not actually know the route! Eventually we pulled over to a side lot and waited for the bicycles to begin to come by, and procedures were reviewed – probably for my benefit. Most of the procedures seemed to come down to “use your best judgement,” never my strong point. The idea was to troll behind a small group as they pedaled up a hill.  If they crested the hill and began a long straight or a downhill, you would flip a U-turn and go back and pick up another group. 

There was something like 275 entrants on bicycles, and 6 motos – so ideally, we would be spaced about 50 apart, but there was more of a concept than a reality.

As the bicycles streamed by, many of them thanking us for being there, we waited until a large group had passed and one of us would follow.  I was about the 3rd to go – again, using my best judgement.

It was really a lot of fun, actually, and more mentally involving than I would have thought.  If I went back to pick up another group, how far back should I go.  If a group was in an area that seemed perilous due to the road or traffic, I would stay with them. Back and forth, and thinking all the time – with no way of knowing if the thinking was appropriate or utterly daft.  If I saw a bike stopped, I would pull up next to them to ask if all was OK, and it always was, and then continue.

One interesting aspect of the first day was a construction zone. By prior arrangement, the bikes would be herded into groups of 30 to 50 and then led through the construction by a pilot car.  The flag guy engaged me in a fun conversation which began with him asking me how far along we were.  Of course, I had no real idea – probably half or so – anmd I explained to him my interpretation of what using my best judgement meant.  I would find a small group of bikes that included an attractive woman and attempt to keep track pf relative positions by where she was, but I had to admit it was not working all that well.

A few seconds later an attractive woman rode by to join the group waiting in front of me and I said “Like that.”

He laughed and replied “Yeah, I got it., but nice example.  He then regaled me with great stories of the adventures and perils of doing flag work.  I was almost sad when I had to leave.

Occasionally there would be a rest area or lunch break, each one staffed and catered by one or more Rotary clubs. The bicyclists needed a lot of liquids and food for their efforts, and so just to fit in…

I also enjoyed great chats with really interesting people… like the architect who used to ride Triumphs and also rowed for the University of Washington and was familiar with the book The Boys in the Boat, and the woman who rode a Triumph 650 years ago (way ahead of her time!) before earning her pilot’s license and moving on to marriage and motherhood.

The last part of the ride was a lovely little crooked jaunt into Leavenworth. I ushered my group almost all the way to the motel when Bill flagged me down.  He yelled that there were still 60 bicyclists trying to get off the mountain, and that we needed to go back up there.  I doubted that, but who am I to question?  What followed was an exhilarating ride back up the mountain on the main highway at what would be highly illegal speeds under normal circumstances.  Turns out that when you have “Moto” stickers on the bike, an orange safety vest and (most importantly) your four-way flashers on, you can go 80mph and people in cars will pull over and wave you by. Great fun.

When we got back to the last break area, as I suspected, there was pretty much nobody left, so I ushered a small group back on the twisty back road.

In the evening there was a sumptuous buffet dinner, some speeches, and then a break followed by a beer garden. Nice day!

Sunday morning brought another huge breakfast, and then we gathered the motos in front of the huge inflated start line arch, and in time motored down the main drag of Leavenworth to the left turn that led to the twisty back road.  I was asked to be the rear guard this time, as four of the others faced a 170-mile ride home at the end, and if they were near the front they could get at least and hour or more head start on the ride home at the end.  Doug lives in Seattle, but he was asked to lead out because he had ridden the route Friday and was familiar with the tricky sections, of which there were many. He would hold station at one of the rest areas until I got there and we would take up rear guard duties together.

The bicyclists were allowed to start between 8am and 9:30, which seemed excessive to me.  I waved at passing groups for about an hour, trying to make sure all of them spotted the left turn.  Some of them ignored me, possibly choosing a straighter and shorter route up to the mountain pass.

Eventually I rode back to the start to make sure all had left. There was only one bike left, and no rider in sight. It was eventually determined that the rider had either slept in or was abandoning the event, so I took off to catch the riders ahead, which was not at all difficult.

Out on the main road I quickly determined who was the last rider, a woman I began to refer to as “good old 98.” She had been interviewed by some of the SAG folks, and she admitted she was slow but assured all she would get there.  Eventually, after stopping a few times to inquire of people taking a break and repeatedly riding back to check on old 98, I reached the turn off for Old Blewitt Pass road, which was the highlight of the ride for many.  I waited for a goodly amount of time and chatted with two EMTs and their truck, and I think they had nothing to do for the entire weekend. After old 98 passed I ventured down the ancient road, and could soon see why it was the highlight. It went up a lot, with tight turns and a lot of bumps and depressions and jagged holes in the pavement. Occasionally a concrete trench ran across the pavement at a corner apex, there to assist in water drainage.  Definitely not a road to play hero on, which was not a problem for me.

Couldn’t help wondering what it was like on a bicycle. Here you are, struggling up steep hills and sharp corners. Along comes a moto, which sweeps around you and, with a casual twist of the wrist, is soon 200 yards ahead.  That would be galling to me.

This road was a tad narrow for U-turns, with bicycles coming at any moment, so instead I would pull over at a more or less wide spot and revel in the spectacular views and utter silence. At the top there was a rest area,  with Doug waiting for me, and another splendid array of liquids and treats, complete with volunteers cheering each arrival. It was all downhill from here, pretty much literally.

Doug took over tail position, urging me to ride down to the lunch stop, which featured a buffet of Mexican foods.

By now the riders were spread out by at least two hours, so there was always lots of time to sit and ponder, take in the day, and smoke my pipe away from the riders so as not to pollute their pristine lungs.

The rest of the day passed with more of the same, and no incidents worth mentioning.  Back in Cle Elum, Doug and I sat for a bit and then took off for the onerous trek on I-90 back home. The stretch from Cle Elum to Snoqualmie Pass is famous for near grid lock in the afternoons. Once you are close to the pass, suddenly things open up and then everyone cruises at about 80mph to Issaquah.

To belabor the obvious, if someone offers you the opportunity to serve as a “moto” for a bicycle event – take it!  Hope I get invited back next year!

Copyright 2019                      David Preston

Posted in Equipment, Motorcycles | Leave a comment

Why I Prefer Lesser Motels

Why I Prefer Lesser Motels

Not because I am cheap…entirely.

I do not want, need, or will have use for a golf course or two, indoor an/or outdoor pool, sauna, restaurant, casino, bar, spa, tennis courts, hiking and tour opportunities, etc.   I will be there only one night.

Being on a motorcycle for most occasions where I need a motel room makes things simpler and more complicated at the same time.  From that point of view, here are the reasons I prefer lesser motels. 

Parking:  I would like to park my motorcycle as close as possible to my room, and I would like that room to be on the ground floor.  I would like to be able to see the motorcycle from my room.

In an expensive motel, the first floor will be taken up with restaurants, spas, gyms, locker rooms, shopping outlets, and all sorts of furbelows.  Possibly no rooms on the first floor at all.

An expensive motel will usually offer valet parking, and subtly encourage guests to use the valet service by placing the parking lot a long way away from the actual building. I might be able to unload my bike near the front door, which will often take two or more trips to the room, but then I will need to move it far away to where I cannot see it.  Not good.

On a recent stay at an expensive motel (I was not paying for it), by the time I had unloaded my bike and then moved it, I had walked 2.2 miles – literally!

I stayed in a motel in North Dakota once where the first floor was actually below ground level. From the bed I could look up and see the front wheel of my bike. That is a little extreme.

When I worked in the motorcycle business the best part of my job was leading customers on rides. A few times a year these rides would be four or more days long. One day the sales manager was asking me about them, and I explained that I booked fairly inexpensive rooms and shared a two bed room with another male rider.  I did this because most of the customers were using up precious vacation time, were on a budget, and did not have the luxury of an expense account like me.  Also, it was great to get to know customers as friends beyond simply sales targets.

I also tended to not eat much on these trips – a large breakfast and a simple dinner, and often just a candy bar and pop or water for lunch. Very little alcohol, and then only when the riding was done for the day. Little alcohol because riding a motorcycle with a hangover is not something I want to experience.

When I finished, he looked at me as if I were some sort of rare and exotic creature he’d never before seen and did not understand. If he were traveling on the company dollar, I realized, it would be a suite for a room and steak and lobster for dinner at the very least!

At one of our rider club meetings someone asked for a show of hands of all the people that had slept with me- it was about two dozen!  I never had a disagreeable roomie in all these adventures.

Staffing:  In an expensive motel you will be dealing with a raft of employees, and usually none of them have any responsibility other than the dictates of their specific role.  This can lead to indifference.  In a spendy motel if you are dressed in motorcycle gear it will surely lead to indifference.  You are not likely to need any of the many services on offer that usually result in tips.  No income, no interest.  This is ironic, because a lot of traveling motorcyclists are actually financially well off, and would not mind spending money on services that would be useful, if any were offered.

In a lesser motel you will probably be dealing with the owner, a member of the owner’s family, or at least someone who knows the owner. Everyone involved has a financial, familial, or at least social interest in your welfare.  Interest breeds an enjoyable stay.

Speaking of social, I have noticed on the rare occasions when I stay at a posh motel (again, usually because someone else is paying for it) that people checking in rarely speak to others, and say as little as possible to the staff.  Maybe if you are wealthy you find that most people who you don’t know who speak to you want something – your time or money or approval. 

In lesser motels you will usually have a pleasant chat with the desk person when checking in, and during an evening stroll it is easy to strike up conversations with other guests. Especially, of course, others who are on motorcycles.  Even then, in a lesser motel motorcycles are objects of interest and curiosity, where in the posh places they seem almost like an embarrassment, like they don’t quite now what to do with you.

Of course, you can go too far. A friend recently stayed at a hostel sort of place that was certainly reasonably priced, but the coed sleeping area was in a small room with triple stack bunk beds. That is a step too far for me.  I have also on occasion, usually late in the day when I cannot find a better option, stayed in a motel that was run down to the point of seedy, with the remains of the last two names the motel went by fighting for space on the sign, and a resident drunk to attempt to talk my ear off.

Overall, I prefer what I would term a level B or C motel. My favorites are motels in small towns that have not changed much since they were built a half century or so ago.  A dozen or more rooms in a long line, or maybe in the shape of an L.

Most of these motels are competing with the high-end palace out by the freeway, so they will have a coffee maker in the room, TV and WiFi and all that, and other amenities.  Love those.

Ok, and I am cheap.

Ride safe, ride fast, and ride often!

Copyright 2019                                              David Preston

Posted in Marketing, Motorcycles, Travel | Leave a comment

Why I Do Not Race or Do Track Days

Why I Do Not Race or Do Track Days

OK; this may sound like a petulant rant. So be it.  I saw something on Facebook this morning that got my leathers in a knot – a post that pretty much said that motorcyclists who do not do track days are less than others.

Piffle.  I have never raced cars or motorcycles or cars or done track days, and there are good reasons for that. (For this discussion we will ignore my drag racing experiences in a Corvette, a Mercury Comet with a 429 cubic inch V8, drags slicks, and a roll cage (!), a Mazda pickup and a Miata – guess which one earned me a trophy?…).

They may or may not be good reasons for you.

COST:       Obviously, cost is a consideration, especially with racing.  For many years I was so sure I would do well, if only… These days I could probably afford to race – something, with a little creative thought, but when I was younger, oh the longing.

Eventually I realized that cost was not the real issue.  There were others.

TIME:        In every form of racing I’ve ever explored, getting serious requires enormous quantities of money, but an even larger bill that can be measured in time.  Most of the racers I met were having a great experience, at the cost of virtually every other leisure time activity, and sometimes their marriage.  No longer married, that does not apply, but I do like to read, spectate at hot rod shows, outdoor concerts, and other events, hike, date, ride my motorcycle, and so on.   I have far too many passions to flush them all away to focus on any single one.

PACE:        Although I was competitive in many things, including street sport car rallies, over time on a motorcycle or in a car, I realized that I just did not care who was faster!  This came in very handy when I was working in the motorcycle business and being paid to lead customer riders.  I had no problem at all telling customers that if they wanted to ride faster than I was going, they were most welcome to simply pass me and forge on ahead. On the left, please. Fun fact:  in 14 years of leading customer rides, the only crashes I ever had to deal with involved people who had chosen to pass me and race on ahead.

For a small topic side road, consider the opposite.  There are groups, mostly on Gold Wings or Harleys, that enjoy roaming mostly freeways in large clumps at legal speeds.  I did this many times, and always had an interesting day.  However, I far preferred riding at a more rapid pace on a winding back road.  Doing this on a Harley-Davidson Road King, for example, is one of the most enjoyable almost-legal experiences you can have.  Does this mean I am a better person or more “real” a motorcycle rider?  In a word – no.

I now know that if I were racing and there was an on-track battle with another competitor and a corner was looming, I would simply back off and let them get on with it.  I am focused on the pace I want to maintain, and if someone else has a faster vision, better equipment, more experience or (let us be honest), more talent – more power to them.

Simply stated, I enjoy the sensations of speed, braking, cornering, and the coordination of the controls on a motorcycle or in a car, and the pace of someone else does not matter to me.  You?

OTHER IDIOTS:  This comes from an old family joke. When I was a lad, we were on a family car trip and the traffic was a bit dicey.  My mother turned to my father at the wheel and said, “Watch out for the other idiots on the road.”

He turned to her and replied, “What do you mean ‘other’?”  One of the greatest comebacks ever.

Having already eliminated actual racing from my list of planned activities, “other idiots” is my largest concern with both car and motorcycle track days.  I was pretty sure I would not wad the Porsche 911 I used to own into a ball at a track day, but that did seem to occur with depressing frequency,  and often the incident involved two cars – one of them driven by a hapless innocent collected by someone with more testosterone than talent.  I don’t mind a dent to my ego, but a dent or usually much more to my car is something my wallet and mind and body do not want to experience.

Most motorcycle track days require the removal of the rear-view mirrors, and the sound and logical reasons for this are clearly explained.  I understand the reasoning, but I am loath to sacrifice the visual input from behind me.

Having said that, I know people who put on track days for cars and motorcycles, and they are fine people who do an excellent job, often offering additional instruction and coaching where needed.  Track days are a wonderful thing, for many people. I am not one of them.

One motorcycle event I really enjoyed several times was an “advanced cornering clinic” held at a racetrack. The morning sessions offered various drills to impart knowledge of the correct racing line, where and when and how to brake, trail braking, and much more.  Eventually you were turned loose to practice, with multiple instructors roaming the track to wave you over if they saw the need for a review or a tip.  I loved these, and I hope they are still offered.

You may choose to go racing in your car or motorcycle, and you may choose to attend track days in your car or on your motorcycle.  Some people do both, or all four.  Good for you.

You are, in all likelihood, are faster than I am.   I hope that matters to you. Does not matter a whit to me.

Ride fast, ride safe, and ride often.

Copyright 2019              David Preston

Posted in Cars, Equipment, Motorcycles, Rants and Raves | 1 Comment

The Death of the American Motorcycle Magazine

The Death of the American Motorcycle Magazine

What happened?  The motorcycle mags I’ve read for years are being erased like bugs wiped off your visor with a squeegee of questionable soapiness in a gas station.  At least the main ones – “Cycle World,” “Motorcyclist,” etc.

What happened?  I have some thoughts, devoid of any actual insider info, which is why this worth exactly what you’re paying for it.

For motorcyclists of a certain age, the magazine has been an important part of our relaxation time for decades – in my case over half a century.

In high school I had a class called “Study Hall” one year – and in those golden oldie days you are actually expected to study.  Stuff like textbooks.  Which I did some of the time, but if someone had a copy of Cycle World magazine and had already read it three times, it was surreptitiously passed around like illegal contraband, which in a sense it was.

I was soon devouring every motorcycle magazine I could get my hands on, and did so for decades.  I even had articles published in a couple of them, notably “American Motorcyclist” (AMA) and “Road Rider,” which later became “Motorcycle Consumer News.”  MCN still exists, as do some of the specialist mags, but the heavy hitters are now reduced to daily social media posts.

Why?  I think there are several factors:

READING: Reading is less popular.  People today process almost everything through their phones.  The technology allows a lot of graphics and videos to be screened along with the content, and people go for the video as it gives more color and motion and sound, and takes less time.

Which is where I disagree.  When it comes to motorcycles or high- performance cars, the more time I spend enjoying it, the better.  I have some slight hopes for the future, using the metaphor of – automatic transmissions in cars.  About two decades ago, design boffins began creating automatic transmissions that were faster and easier to use than manuals. First, they invaded race cars, and then, inevitably, the street.  The stated benefits were that the car was faster.  It was also a lot cheaper for the manufacturer to offer only one transmission.  This never made sense to me, as any high-performance car at a track day is capable of a lap time, in the hands of a pro driver, that is ten seconds a lap faster than I will ever be. Or you.

Now we see some manufacturers (thank you Porsche) beginning to offer manuals again, although in Porsche fashion they will charge you for it.

Perhaps in time people will return to the joys of spending a long time actually reading a packed magazine with articles about their hobby, whether it be motorcycles, cars, knitting, or cribbage.  (Confession – I know nothing about the state of the knitting and cribbage magazine industries).

TIME:  It is hard to justify a magazine with articles about race results when the race was held more than a month ago and has been covered to death already on TV, YouTube, social media, and on and on.  It is difficult to promote a first road test of a new model when again, it was done last month in video form.

MARKET: The economic collapse of the 2nd mortgage market in 2008 hit motorcycle dealerships and manufacturers harder than most other retail indusctries.  Many dealerships died as a result.  Cycle Barn went from 284 employees to about 48 in two years, and was eventually broken into smaller pieces – some of the business arms disappeared, and some were sold off to become smaller outlets.  Fewer motorcyclists meant fewer readers, and the OEMs were a little slow to respond with smaller and less expensive motorcycles meant for younger riders.   Younger riders tend to have phones embedded in their skulls, and view reading as a medieval form of torture done only by old men mowing their lawn in flip flops, shorts, and black socks.

GREED:   The big one, to me.  Putting out a magazine is a lot of work, takes a lot of time, and eats a lot of money.  When magazine people began putting out blurbs on social media, I think they quickly discovered that the ads they could splice in delivered significant income, without the hassle and labor of paying those pesky writers, hiring copy editors, and on and on.  I would not be surprised if the major magazines are now more profitable as social media “content providers” than they were as magazine publishers.

All in all, a sad state of affairs, much like our country at the moment. I have hopes for the future of both.

P.S.  If you are reading this on your phone there is some chance that your screen does not show my full web page – a tragedy that would prevent you from seeing the links so you can purchase my books!  And other stuff as well.  Go to www.davidpreston.biz on a full screen computer to correct this travesty.

Copyright 2019              David Preston

Posted in Marketing, Motorcycles, Rants and Raves | 2 Comments

Rough draft of a motorcycle trip in September

2019 BC                                                    Rough Draft

Friday, September 6th

7am Brekkie and then leave at 8:15am

I-405 to I-5 to Smokey Point Rest stop            30 miles

I-5 to 530 to Arlington to Rockport                   60 miles

SR 20 to Marblemount (fuel)                               15 miles

SR 20 to Winthrop, Twisp, (fuel, lunch)          90 miles

SR 20 to Okanagon                                               30 miles                                

97 to Oroville                                                           40 miles                     265 miles

Camaray Motel  1320 9th St, Oroville (509) 476-3684

Saturday, September 7th

Brekkie in town?  Leave at 9am?

97 north to US Border                                          15 miles

97 North to Osoyoos                                             9 miles

East on 3 to 33                                                        30 miles

North on 33 to Kelowna   (fuel)                           75 miles

North on 97 to 6                                                      30 miles

East on 6 to Naksup          (fuel)                           111 miles                  265 miles

            Canyon Court Motel

            937 Highway 23 North, Nakusp,BC

            VOG 1RO

            1 888 509 4499

Sunday,  September 8th

North on 23 to Ferry                                              32 miles

North on 23 to Revelstoke                                   30 miles

West on Canada 1 to Scamous (fuel)               41 miles

South on 97A to Vernon                                      45 miles

South on 97 to Osoyoos                                      69 miles                    

South on 97 to US Border                                   15 miles

South on 97 to Oroville                 (fuel)               5 miles                       239 miles

            Camaray Motel  1320 9th St, Oroville (509) 476-3684

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Monday, September 9th

Brekkie in town – fuel – leave at 9am?

South on 97 to Okanagon                                               40 miles

West on 20 to Twisp                     (fuel)                           30 miles        

West on 20 to Marblemount (fuel)                                 90 miles                                            

West on 20, South on 530 to Darrington                     26 miles

West on 530 to Arlington and then home                   79 miles         265 miles

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Trains, planes, and automobiles – and motorcycles!

Trains, planes, and automobiles – and motorcycles

No trains, actually, but I could not resist the title.

There’s an annual “fly-in” of mostly vintage planes at a small airport behind Concrete Highschool on Highway 20.  I am not all that fascinated by planes, but some of my friends are, and it is a great ride there and back.

Six of us met up at the usual I-5 rest area just north of Smokey Point, and we would join Bellingham resident Rick at the event.  We featured three BMWs, one Honda, one Kawasaki, and my faithful Triumph Bonneville.

The day started well at the rest area, as an Austin Healey club had also paused. One of their members strolled over and handed out small candies in wrappers to each of us, for a reason I did not catch. All the better for me, as three of my friends did not want theirs and later gave them to me.  Great!

In addition, friend Marv had recently scored some leather gloves on a local no buy, no sell social media group.  None of them fit him and he was looking to give them away. One or two pair for Donna, and two pair for me!

Then it was up Highway 9, and then east on Day Creek Road to the old Skagit highway and a lovely romp of 25 miles or so.  North at the T to Concrete and we were there.  A bigger event than previous editions I have attended, so my plane enthusiast friends were very happy. Rick even brought a folding chair on his Ducati Multi-Strada so he could sit by the runway and watch various iterations trundle by, land, an/or take off.  Lots of food vendors on hand, so I supported the local Lions club with a burger, fries, and a can of pop.

There was also a small car show, but the coolest vehicle there was a recumbent bicycle. We had passed the rider/driver on the old highway and had a chance to talk to him. It had two wheels about a third of the way back and a third at the rear, enclosed in an extremely sleek body.  What I thought were “aero humps” at the front to cover the wheels were actually there to provide room for his knees when pedaling.  It had three different gear changes and some unimaginable number of speeds.  The owner had great tales of catching groups of riders on “normal” bicycles and passing them with ease and pedaling ahead, no matter how hard they tried to keep up.  It was spectacular.

Now for the unexplored part.  There was a bigger car show in Lyman (maybe), a small town I had never heard of.  Turns out there are several towns between 20 and the Skagit River, most of them obviously much smaller than in times past.

I found Hamilton-Lyman road, which none of us had ever ridden. To find a road that neither Marv or I have ridden in three quarters of a century of combined local riding is rare!  After getting just a tad lost in what turned out to be Hamilton, we came to an intersection where a left turn would lead us to Lyman. True, my cell phone in the tank bag could have made things more direct, but what fun would that be?

Across the street was an amazing building. A solid three-story block of concrete with no windows, now obviously no longer in use.  At the top, large concrete letters proclaimed it to be the Hamilton Gymnasium.  I imagine it would have been the pride of the community when it first opened.  The high school basketball games, theater productions, dances, concerts – it must have realty been something.  Turns out it was built in 1930.

A few miles west we came to Lyman, and it was easy to find the car show.  Fellow car nut Bob and I toured the three blocks with astonishingly cool stuff parked on both sides of the street, while our friends relaxed on a bench and waited patiently for us.  When we returned, I had a nice chat with a fellow who had purchased a brand-new Bonneville in 1969 – the very model the Triumph boffins tried so hard to replicate, with all the modern stuff hidden, on my 2016.  He paid $1,300 for his in 1969.  Mine cost about ten times more.

Eventually we rode away and returned to Hiway 20 and then south from Sedro-Wooley on 9 and a pleasant ride home.

Lovely day!

Copyright 2019              David Preston

Posted in Cars, Motorcycles, Travel | 2 Comments

First Motorcycle Trip of 2019

Canada Tour 2019  July 5-8                                      2018 reversed! 

Weather looks superb. Good roads, fun places to stay, and 5 good friends. Awesome

David Preston,  Brian Hardy, Rick Pannemann, Robert Okrie, Wil Wen, Pat Cordell

Friday, July 5th

7am Brekkie and then leave at 8:15am

I-405 to I-5 to Smokey Point Rest stop            30 miles

I-5 to 530 to Arlington to Rockport                   70 miles

SR 20 to Marblemount (fuel)                               15 miles

SR 20 to Winthrop, Twisp, (fuel, lunch)          100 miles

SR 20 to 153 to 97 to US 2                                   73 miles                    288 miles

Waterville Hotel  102 E Park St   (509) 745 – 8695

One single (Okrie) $69,  5 beds to be arranged later at $55 each (roughly)

Saturday, July 6th

Brekkie in town?  Leave at 9am?

East on 2 to Coulee City                                      55 miles

East on 2 to Creston                     (fuel)               30 miles        

Left on  Miles-Creston road to 25                      35 miles        

25 to Kettle Falls                                                    63 miles                    

East on 20 to Colville                    (fuel)               12 miles                     195 miles

Selkirk motel in Colville, WA  369 Main St.     (509) 684-2565

1 single (Okrie)  $70  2nd single (?)   two bed  ($75) two bed ($100)

Sunday,  July 7th

East on 20  to Tiger                                                           33 miles

North on 31 to Canadian Border                                   25 miles

North to 3 to Salmo                                                           10 miles

West on 3 to Castlegar                 (fuel)                           40 miles

West on 3 to Osoyoos                  (fuel)                           126 miles

South on 97 to US Border                                               15 miles

South on 97 to Oroville                                                     5 miles           254 miles

            Camaray Motel  1320 9th St, Oroville (509) 476-3684

One single (Okrie) $67 

One three bed ($83) One two bed ($78)          

Monday, July 8th

Brekkie in town – fuel – leave at 9am?

South on 97 to Okanagon                                               55 miles

West on 20 to Twisp                     (fuel)                           30 miles        

West on 20 to Marblemount (fuel)                                 130 miles                                         

West on 20, South on 530 to Darrington                     26 miles

West on 530 to Arlington and then home                   100 miles                  341 miles

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Selling Motorcycles With Sex

Selling Motorcycles with Sex – the Saga of MV Agusta

In case you missed it, because you have a real life or something, motorcycle company MV Agusta created a sensation recently by creating a video ad showing a naked female on a new MV Agusta.  The video was shot in near darkness, with strategically placed spotlights and dry ice smoke to make it sort of a tease.

In the resulting furor over the horror of such a thing, the ad was pulled from the company web site.  Cynics will opine that this was the plan all along. But this is 2019, so the ad is already on YouTube, where it can be seen by millions, and probably will be. This may also have been planned.

First take: For me the ad is a failure because I can no longer remember the model of motorcycle being promoted.  Or – for the cynical, the ad is a success because MV Agusta sells so few motorcycles that getting the brand discussed in the twitterverse and other social media is a huge win – even if the discussions are negative.  When was the last time you saw an MV Agusta being ridden?

But seriously – really?  People are shocked and horrified that a company is using a scantily clad (or in this case non-clad) woman to sell a product?  Hello?  I know the world has changed, but this is not new.  Compared to a few decades ago it is even sort of tame. The woman is never shown in the light from the front, and most of what you see is her rear end (and a lovely rear end it is), and some dark shadowy shots of breasts and hair and face. Back in the 1960s it was common for manufacturers to use female models at shows who were wearing almost, and sometimes literally, nothing. 

Harley for several years produced promo posters with the same woman, always dressed in alluring outfits on a new Harley model. They were extremely popular.  Motorcycle ads have featured attractive men and women since the machine was invented, in various stages of dress. For decades, Pirelli car tires produced calendars that featured naked women (and tires) that were so popular they became a significant profit aspect for the business, and instantly collectible. And on and on.

But what of men?  Well, there is a thriving industry that uses attractive men and women to sell all sorts of products. Shall we put all of them out of work?  Are we just upset about the nudity?  OK, I can sort of see that, but the most powerful man in the world brags about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it, and we are appalled by some naked flesh?

What about the woman in the ad?  I assume she was paid.  It is likely her face and figure will be desired for future campaigns, at an increased fee, so is she a victim?

Are the men who work for Chippendale’s being exploited?  Are male actors who seem to be cast in pictures where they will be shirtless most of the time being taken advantage of?

Here’s an example.  Almost 50 years ago I worked as an Underground Tour guide in Pioneer Square.  One of my colleagues was a nice guy who was very good looking.  His wife was also gorgeous, and they were both sweet and kind to each other and to everyone else.  He could also sit down at the grand piano in their living room and entertain you by playing the score of several musicals and singing along, while his wife made the coffee and served dessert.  It was like being in a movie.

Anyway, one day we were chatting in the sun outside the Yesler building, waiting for the next tour.  A guy came up to my friend and asked him if he had ever done any modeling.   My friend had not, so the guy gave him a card and told my friend to contact him.  As he walked away my friend asked “What would I be modeling?”   The answer was…. “Penis jewelry.”

Neither of us knew such jewelry existed, and he decided not to pursue that sort of modeling.  A few minutes later it hit me. We were both fully clothed.  How did the guy know which of us had a better-looking penis?  Totally unfair.

Men and women have been interested in the appearance of other men and women, in various combinations, since fig leaves were the apparel of choice.  Marketing mavens have been using this basic law of nature to market products for centuries and more.  Do we now ban all attractive people from using their gifts to make money?  Will we ban people born with math skills from becoming CPAs or CFOs?

It gets silly pretty quickly.

Another example. Years ago, I was returning to Cycle Barn from an event aboard a gorgeous metallic green Triumph Sprint ST, which I owned.  I was clad in my custom made black and blue Vanson leather pants and jacket adorned with Cycle Barn logos. I had on new boots and snazzy gloves, topped off with a yellow Arai helmet with a dark tinted shield. Probably the most attractive I’ve ever been, but of course that is a low bar.

At a stoplight there was a car next to me with several attractive young women. I could see by their faces and gestures that they were discussing the “stud” on the motorcycle next to them. As the light changed, I thought about flipping up the visor so they could see that I was 58 years old, but I demurred, fearing that the driver might scream in horror and careen into a telephone pole. Or me.

If I were a “brand manager” or “media consultant” for MV Agusta, (frightening thought), I would have bade two versions be prepared.  The second would have been the same ad with a naked male model, focusing, as with the first one, on his butt, his chest (in shadow), and his face and hair. I would have placed that one on the web site a day after the first one, and watched the media hit score climb.

To be really adventurous, it would have been interesting to lead with the male version.

Off to ride my Triumph to an event today.  To the relief of all, I will be fully clothed.

Copyright 2019                      David Preston

Note: if you are reading this on your phone, you may not be seeing my full website. For several years-worth of articles on all sorts of things  (plus links to my 8 books available from Amazon), please go to www.davidpreston.biz

Posted in Marketing, Motorcycles | 1 Comment

The Strange Journey to my new used car

First of all, I did not really need to trade in my Fiat 500 Sport. It’s a fine example of a 2012 model with 43,000 miles and no issues at all. It has been reliable, and always fun to drive.

But… now divorced and in a rented duplex, I only have one car, and the Fiat is a tad small once in a while, like when I need to take the power mower in for repair. Secondly, I have a significant chunk of cash that resulted from the divorce, the upside of…not owning a house any more. The ex kept the almost new VW Tiguan in the divorce, while I retained the Fiat and the Triumph Bonneville.  True, these two do not come close to the value of the Tiguan, but there were a lot of items to divide, and it worked out pretty equally.

I am a car and motorcycle enthusiast, so with the (rare for me) ability to write a check for anything within reason, I was able to dive into one of my favorite parts of the car and motorcycle nut experience- shopping!

What was unusual this time was that I really did not need to purchase anything, and the sensible thing to do was… nothing.  Who wants to be sensible all the time?

My options were wide, constrained only by shreds of practicality fighting a war with wants.  I wanted something a tad larger than the Fiat, equipped with a sun roof, and a manual shift, and something that would make me smile every time I looked at it.  I also wanted to purchase from a dealer using the Fiat as a trade-in.  You can get more by selling on your own, but when you trade in you pay sales tax on the difference, and that brings the cost comparison close enough to be able to ignore the (many) perils and hassles of selling on your own.

I have found over the decades that I do not really need a test drive until almost the end of the purchase experience. Often, merely sitting in a vehicle will remove it from the list.

A 2013-16 or so Mustang appeals for low cost and sporty driving, and I prefer the looks to the new model. So…

First up – Harris Ford had a used Mustang that would do. A 6 speed manual, reasonable miles, sunroof, and puke green – I love lurid colors.  I was thinking that perhaps this was fated, as I bought a new screaming yellow Ford Focus there in 2000, a wonderful car that served me well for over a decade.  Actually, I agreed to purchase a black one, but when I came to pick it up, three of the just released yellow models had just arrived, and one of them was optioned exactly like what I was to purchase. A swap of VIN #s on the title and the deed and deal was done.

This time was different.  I parked and wandered around the used car section.  Eventually, a salesman appeared.  I asked if the green Mustang had sold, and indeed it had.  No worries. I explained that I merely wanted to sit in a Mustang of that vintage, and he said they were all unlocked. As I had already tried that, I disagreed. He then tried to open the same doors I had and inexplicably, they were still locked.  Instead of summoning the massive energy required to locate a key, he merely directed me to go across the street to the showroom.

As I suspected, the showroom held only new models, most of them $70-90k Shelby examples.  Oh well. I found one with open doors and got in – and fell into a deep well.  Egad!  The seat was really low, and the interior a black cave you could not see out of.  I am sure the seat could be raised, but no sales person was around.  So, I used their men’s room (take that!) and left.

I had a brief dalliance with a brand-new Ford Fiesta ST at Bickford, and a very nice chat with a salesman whose first name was David with a middle name of Preston!  Alas, the car in question was not there yet, and was the (far) lesser of two Fiesta ST models. Later I decided it was too small anyway – why trade a too small car for another too small car?

I’ve always lusted after the 2003-2006 Chevy SSR pickup truck.  This was a concept vehicle that got everyone so excited it made it to production.  The “retro” styling appealed, as did the full hard cover over the bed, and the Corvette engine, but the icing on this tasty cake was a metal hard top that folds and disappears behind the seats. Most of them were yellow (terrific!) or red (ok). A manual was only offered in 2006, the last year, along with 50 more horsepower, but I could manage without both. This would not be a performance car.  But cool!

Alas, turns out most of them were sold in less rainy climates – there are few available around here.  True, I could fly somewhere and drive it back, but that would remove the option of a trade-in. I did find one in Auburn, but with a lot of miles and in silver with black stripes.  However, it did have a zippy custom red and grey interior, and it was a 2006 with the manual and the extra power, so I put that aside for now. Then I found one in Everett, and decided to look at it. Also silver, but I just wanted to sit in it and check it out.  Salesman Russell at Bayside Auto Sales was happy to accommodate, and the SSR passed the seating test. This could work! Alas, this particular one had been used hard and then ignored. The paint looked as if it had been parked outside in Arizona sun for about ten years. The paint was virtually burned off the horizontal surfaces, and the stripes were peeling away. Foggy and scratched headlights, bumps and bruises all over – this one would need about 15k put into it to be nice.  But Bayside also had a 2015 Mustang for sale. An automatic, but again Russell was kind enough to fetch the key and let me sit in it.  Much better than the new ones.  Point to ponder.

Then I motored north to Chevrolet of Everett to check out a 2016 Ford Focus ST.  The ST is the pick of the litter, with upscale bucket seats, a 6 speed manual shift, sunroof, lots of bells and whistles, and a turbo 4 engine belting out 252 horsepower, which is a lot in a front wheel drive car, necessitating some fancy front end engineering in a (mostly successful) attempt to keep it from torque-steering off the road.  It would have been quite pricey in 2016, and was probably mostly used by dealers as a “halo” model to entice buyers into a more reasonable Focus.

My hopes were not too high, as it had 52,000 miles. And then I got there. 

Holy tire smoke, Batman!  The deep dark blue metallic paint appeared to be perfect.  The interior looked fine.  New tires.  Hmmmmm…

Salesman Noah introduced himself and we started the dance.  A month ago, they put it on the lot at $19,000.  Now they offered it as an “easy purchase – no negotiating needed” price of $17,500.  Noah explained that they liked to set the price at a fair amount and skip the usual negotiations drama.

OK.

As we chatted, he asked me what I thought. I explained that a well-optioned Fiat 500 Sport like mine would retail for $6 to $8,000, maybe $9,000 if you tried hard. Dealers would offer $3,000 to $5000 for a trade-in, so if I was interested he would offer me $3,000 as a trade-in, and I would counter with $5,000, and he would come back with $4,000 and then I would say that if he wanted a quick sale I would write a check for a $3,500 trade-in. This would amount to $14,300 or so.

At this point he stared at me and said “I think you are the most knowledgeable customer I have ever dealt with.”  Of course, a good salesperson will always find some way to compliment the customer, but I enjoyed it all the same.  I explained some of my background in the business, and off we went to begin the negotiations he had stressed they do not do.

His first offer was, as expected, a trade-in of $3,000, plus all sorts of other fees, all of which had explanations and most of which I ignored.

I pointed out to him the $150 “documentation fee,” which dealers are allowed by law to charge, is voluntary on the customer’s part!  Most people do not know this.  I would not be willing to pay that, and also, I did not need to pay $550 in RTA tax because in my new location it is not collected.

We went back and forth a few times, with Noah returning to his hidden sales manager to get approval.  At the end, I was at $13,000 plus tax and license – about $14,300 – which is exactly where I began.  He got all the way down to $13,800, which was a fair offer.

I explained that I was happy he had not taken my offer, as I wanted some time to think about it rather than rushing in to a mistake.  I pointed out that of course, he could sell it to someone else that day or the next, or I could find something else, so my leaving was a bit of a gamble for both of us.

What I did not explain was that I was pretty sure this would be a tough car for them to sell.  Most people do not know what an ST is in the first place, and most people shopping for a used Ford Focus would not want to pay anywhere near that price, and last, most people these days do not want to and perhaps cannot drive a manual transmission.

And so we parted. I went off to tour the hot rod show in Everett and eat unhealthy food in large quantities, and then went home.

I sort of expected that he would call and offer to split the $500 difference, and I would have agreed to that.  As the afternoon wore on I began to think I’d negotiated my way out of a deal, and after doing some research on my computer on reliability records and owner reviews and such, I wanted the car more than at first!

Finally, at 5:15pm, Noah called. The deal had been approved at my price, but only for today.  They closed at 6pm, but he would wait for me.  OK!

I got there at 5:50 and it took awhile to do the paperwork.  I think the finance guy was exhausted from a long weekend, as there was no sales pitch for an extended warranty or underseal or magic fairy dust or anything else.  I wrote a check for $14,298.00 and was driving home.

Initial impressions?  I will stop here, lest I gush!  Really a hoot and a half to drive, and the shift is about the best I’ve ever experienced, including a Porsche 911 and several dozen Mazda Miatas, usually considered the best out there.  If you see me sometime you probably do not want to ask me about the car, unless you have an hour to spare.

Let’s see how long the honeymoon lasts!

Cheers!

Copyright 2019                      David Preston

Posted in Cars, Equipment, Marketing | 1 Comment