ABTOR 2016

The ABTOR for 2016

In about 2002 I invented an event called the ABTOR.  This came about through requests from Cycle Barn customers  (where I worked at the time) regarding the annual “Oyster Run.”

The “Oyster Run” is held on the last Sunday of September every year, and is a mass migration of some 15,000 motorcycles to Anacortes. It is sort of a shorter and milder Washington version of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  I had some customers who had been there and done that and wondered if we could not do something else that involved more riding.

The Oyster Run does appeal, at least at first. The first time I went it was a wondrous spectacle of more motorcycles than you will see at any other event in this state, I’m pretty sure.  There are bikes of every possible brand, vintage, style, and description, plus a few contraptions that pretty well defy description. There is no organization outside of the town of Anacortes, and you get there pretty much by any route you choose.  The first year I went I set off with a customer and just rode in a meandering manner north, until we ran into a large group of motorcycles, and then simply followed them.  A lot of the attendees tend to stop often at a bar and have a beer and some, (no points for guessing) oysters. I don’t drink on a motorcycle, and don’t care for oysters, so my riding partner for the day and I hop-scotched from group to group until we reached the spectacle.  The first dark cloud was that I don’t enjoy riding with people who have been drinking much of any amount of alcohol.   The second was that I saw four crashes on the way into Anacortes, which was more than I had seen in my 35 years or riding to that point.  The second year I went with a small group of three or four, all of us with wives on the back. As Susan rarely rode with me, that made it special.

By the 3rd year I was ready for something else, and eagerly accepted the requests of the customers.  My Cycle Barn Sport Bike Club was growing by leaps and bounds, and sport bike riders are usually not fond of large masses of metal moving relatively slowly. What I created was named the ABTOR, which was an acronym for “Anywhere But The Oyster Run.”  The initial route was conceived by Mark Ramirez, at that time stationed at the submarine base on Hood Canal. He knew the roads well, and come up with a route so spectacular I never actually knew where I was for most of the day. Over the next decade I made small adjustments to the route until it was pretty much perfect.  It was always one of the highlight rides of the year.

Ironically, this one route and one event brought about virtually all of the crashes I ever had to deal with in 14 years of leading customer rides. There were, if memory serves, five of them.   Four of them occurred when a group of “fast guys” passed me (which was OK) to go off and play. What was happening was that someone who was new to riding but thought they were highly skilled would follow a group made up of those who actually were highly skilled, and pain and financial suffering resulted. Fortunately, the injuries from these incidents were not disastrous. A broken forearm was the worst.  After a few years I started telling riders they were welcome to pass me, but if they did not they were more likely to not crash. The other crash was a gentleman riding two up on a Triumph Rocket III who hit the brakes a little too hard in a corner, and that one resulted in a broken rib and a collapsed lung.

All of these incidents happened within two miles of each other on one particular road – DeWatto Road. I began to have a phobia about that road. Eventually a customer mentioned that if I reversed one looped section, the most problematic corner would change from a decreasing radius downhill corner to an increasing radius uphill corner.  Brilliant!    Never had a problem after that.

We will gather at 9am and a bit on SUNDAY at the Edmonds Ferry terminal for a 9:40 sailing and be off for a grand ride.  You are invited to join, but you might want to copy the route directions below.  Sometimes a lot of people show up for these things and the usual line is “I’ll just follow Dave.”   That works for a group of up to ten or so (with some tricks I have developed) but once past 15 it becomes impossible, even with someone volunteering to ride sweep at the end.

On the other hand, it is a peninsula. Getting lost is sometimes the way to have a better adventure!

ABTOR Route Directions

Edmonds ferry by 9:00 am and a bit. Sails at 9:40am

  1.      104 off the ferry                    (Becomes BOND RD)
  2.      RIGHT           on                    NW LINDVIG WAY
  3.      LEFT              on                    VIKING WAY
  4.      RIGHT           on                    SHERMAN HILL RD.
  5.      LEFT              on                    CLEAR CREEK RD.
  6.      RIGHT           at                     HALF MILE RD (flashing yellow light)
  7.      LEFT              at                     OLD FRONTIER ROAD
  8.      RIGHT           at                     WESTGATE RD (white fence with flags)
  9.      LEFT              at                     OLYMPIC VIEW
  10.      RIGHT           at                     ANDERSON HILL RD
  11.      RIGHT           at                     SEABECK HWY  –   Seabeck-Holly Rd

Pause at Seabeck

  1.      LEFT              at                     DEWATTO RD W
  2.     RIGHT at                              BELFAIR-TAHUYA ROAD
  3.     LEFT onto                            North Shore Road
  4.    RIGHT at                              LIGHT on SR 3 to fuel– Belfai
  1. RETURN on                           SR 3 to LIGHT 
  2. STRAIGHT onto                 OLD BELFAIR HIGHWAY
  3. LEFT at                                  DEWATTO ROAD
  4. RIGHT at  T                          DEWATTO ROAD
  5. RIGHT at                                SEABECK HOLLY RD

                        Lunch at Seabeck

  1. LEFT at                     ANDERSON HILL RD
  2. LEFT at                     OLYMPIC VIEW
  3. RIGHT at                     WESTGATE RD
  4. LEFT at                     OLD FRONTIER RD
  5. RIGHT at                     HALF MILE RD
  6. LEFT at                     CLEAR CREEK RD
  7. RIGHT at                     SHERMAN HILL RD
  8. LEFT at                     VIKING WAY
  9. RIGHT at                     NW LINDVIG WAY
  10. LEFT at                     BOND ROAD to ferry


100 miles – ferry to ferry


Copyright 2016   David Preston

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The 2016 Triumph T 120 at 5,000 miles

The 2016 Triumph T120 Bonneville at 5,000 miles.

With my new Bonneville about to hit the 5,000 mile mark, it’s a good time to look back on the ownership experience so far.

First impressions:  Well, it’s beautiful. That’s the first thought for almost anyone, and it continues every day. The “cranberry” metallic and silver paint scheme, with hand-painted gold pin striping between the colors, is striking, not only in and of itself but for the eerie similarity to Bonnevilles of the late 1960s – arguably the brands finest hour, until now. The T120 was sold out by June, making my April purchase seem a bit wiser. I think this bike and siblings may mark the beginning of a trend toward “old school” appearance, where motorcycles are beautiful to look at, as opposed to merely stunning in their perceived performance potential.

I used to work for a Triumph dealer, and the former owner of what is now Triumph of Seattle invited me to chat at breakfast a block away. Afterward, we wandered over to the shop, as motorcyclists do, and were stopped in our tracks by the first of the new arrivals. This was an odd experience, as both of us pretty much knew it was a brand new 2016 model, and yet it looked so similar to a 1960’s that the right side of our brains wondered if it were not a very fresh restoration. Even odder, as Jim used to own a perfectly restored 1960’s model in this color, one of the few bikes I was not allowed to ride. Even he was confused. Finally the well-hidden radiator between the front down tubes confirmed what the left side of our brains knew – it was brand new.

When lust for a new motorcycle hits your heart, the brain often comes up with arguments for why you do not want to do this. 

My brain said “Yes, but you would want ABS brakes.”  They’re standard. 

“Well, I have never liked it that the Bonneville only has one front disc brake.”  The T 120 has twin disc brakes.

“OK, but heated grips are a must.”  Standard. 

“Well, I’d like to have a magnetic tank bag, as the strap ones are pain.  The fuel tank is steel. 

“Really?”  Yes.

“What are the service intervals?”  10,000 miles.  “Excuse me?”  10,000 miles. 

“What is this USB port under the seat?”  For charging your cell phone.  “Excess electronics, on a Triumph?”  Don’t forget the fake burglar alarm that blinks when the bike is not running.

“I’d want the tank pads, and they’re probably extra.”  No, standard. 

“It doesn’t have cruise control.” True, but the throttle pull is so light you won’t need it.  Clutch pull is also feather light.  It also has two ride modes, and various other cute multi-functions, including a clock, built into the instruments.

At the end, all I could come up with was that the chrome wire wheels meant tube tires.

I went home on my Speed Triple, and the T 120 took root in my head. Due to arthritis in my right knee I’d been contemplating something smaller, shorter, and lighter than the Speed Triple for about a year, plus stewing with some increasing maintenance and repair issues with the old bike, which was nearing 50,000 miles. Fortunately, I had been talking about this with Susan for quite some time, so I laid out the potential numbers for her.  With trade-in, I calculated that this was going to cost about $9,000. I was off by $38 high.

Since I used to work for them, and know the owner, the purchasing “negotiations” took about 10 minutes. He did not need to sell the bike to me, but on the other hand I have been a nice guy, yadayada.

I had to wait for “mine” to get there, as the one I first viewed had already been sold. This was agony, as I did not want to ride the Speed Triple much since I had already agreed to the trade-in value.  But it did get there, and I rode in and swapped the paperwork and was on my way home. Two friends met me at the dealership to help celebrate, and Andy the salesperson impressed all with his knowledge and relentlessly polishing of every speck of dust he could find while I was paying for the bike.

Performance:  Obviously not in a league with the Speed Triple, as the Bonneville is about 50 horsepower short.  But that was OK with me.  During the 14 years I worked in the business, I was encouraged to ride every different bike I could get my hands on as part of my “customer relations” training.  I rode over 500 different motorcycles in that time, and kept notes on all of them.   (The notes are posted much further down on this site).   I also owned several different bikes during this period, including several “big guns.”  I had a Kawasaki ZX12R, an extremely rare Muzzy Raptor, a Kawasaki ZRX, and so on, as well as a lot of seat time on a BMW K 1300S and S 1000RR.  In short, I had “been there and done that” with high horsepower bikes.  I know how fast I am (not very) and what my limits are (low), and was ready (at 69 years of age) to slow down and enjoy the ride a bit.  I had also ridden dozens of cruisers, about four dozen Harleys of all models, all BMW models and on and on.  If I don’t know what I want by now there is no hope for anyone.

Having said that, the T 120 is what I would call “sneaky fast.”  For a 1200cc twin, it has prodigious torque, and accelerates more rapidly that you would expect.  It has a “happy place” for cruising at about 70-75 mph, and gets 50 mpg plus a bit on regular fuel.

Handling:  If you read Kenny Roberts’ book on motorcycles, you will note he refers to some bikes as “front wheel” bikes and others as “rear wheel” bikes. It took me several years to figure out what he meant.  To grossly over simplify, most cruisers and almost all Harleys are rear wheel bikes. You can stomp on the rear brake on a Harley and it will slow down rapidly, because that is where the weight is. Sport bikes are front wheel bikes, and with a short wheel base, hard on the brakes means the rear wheel is hardly touching the surface.  Freddie Spencer used to remove the rear brake pedal on his Honda superbikes back in the 1980’s because all it did was reduce the cornering clearance on the right side.

The T120 is a bit of both, depending on how it is ridden.  Usually the handling is a bit lazy, but I am coming off 50,000 miles on a Speed Triple, which will begin to arc into a turn if you merely think about it.  The T 120 takes some work at the handlebars to turn.  Oddly, I find that the bike is so pleasant to ride that I often almost forget I am on a motorcycle – it is more like a pleasant reverie of motion.  I have to concentrate on maintaining focus, whereas a Speed Triple demands focus at all times.  However, if the road is curvy and I’m feeling frisky, I tend to lean forward a bit and hunker down, and then the T 120 turns with much more alacrity.

I have not touched the pegs down very often, but this is more of a function of the feeling tone of the bike.  It sort of says “OK, we can go faster, but do you want to bother?”  Usually I don’t.

I think the rear shocks are also old school, as in crap. I turned them up a notch early on, using the ONLY TOOL in the “tool kit,” and now they seem a bit soft to me. Back in the day it was common to change out the shocks for something better early on.  Things began to change with my 2000 Kawasaki ZX12.  I had a race tech set up the suspension, and it seems that bike, which was long and heavy, had been set up by the boffins in Japan for Americans who are taller and heavier. It was pretty much perfect as delivered, just one click stiffer on the rear.  I think I stiffened the Triumph a bit at both ends at the first service and never touched it after. We’ll see what the future brings for the T 120. The front end seems fine.

The brakes have not been an issue. Partly because there are three disc brakes, and partly because I just do not ride it that hard. The ABS will come in handy in an emergency I hope never to experience.

Cleaning:  Bizarrely, this bike does not seem to get dirty!  The Speed Triple, with short fenders and a pretty open rear half, would get trashed in 30 feet if I rode through a puddle. I took the T 120 on a 2,000 mile ride to California this summer, and the day I got back I set out to clean it, as you do.  It really was not dirty!  I rode it 200 miles the other day and cleaned a few bugs off the mirrors as a result.

Luggage: Clearly a weakness, but easily handled. A Nelson Rigg magnetic tank bag (with a micro-fiber towel under it to protect that gorgeous paint) handles the day to day, and for longer trips I have a set of Cortech saddlebags with a really sleek top bag that clips in to the saddlebags.  I am set for long trips, unless I want to camp, where space will be a bit tight.

Maintenance:  Nothing to complain about. I use spray-on lube on the chain probably more frequently than I need to, and I clean the rear wheel with WD 40 on a paper towel.  The chain does not need adjusting, and may make it to the 10,000 mile service untouched.

The only issue is the little “service needed” wrench icon  that has appeared on the instrument panel. Dealer thinks perhaps a minor error was made on set-up, and it was adjusted for the interval of the older air-cooled 900cc mill.   Some sunny day I will ride in and have that re-set.

All in all – I made a great choice.  This bike should last as long as the Speed Triple did, and then I may be asking the question “What sort of motorcycle should a rider of 80 years of age purchase?”

Copyright 2016                      David Preston





Posted in Education, Marketing, Motorcycles, Rants and Raves | 1 Comment

The final brush strokes on the Kenny Roberts painting

This is a press release (or article) by Bruce Scholten.
I’m from Puget Sound and have contributed to CycleNews.com since 1978. That was a year after the Pride of Bellingham – STEVE BAKER – became first American to win the premier world roadracing Formula 750cc title! Which is why Baker has been inducted into the Washington State Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
As a leading racer at Hannegan Speedway, Baker (who sells motos at Mt. Baker Moto-Sport) showed how dirt tack techniques could tame 150bhp bikes as they approached 200mph. Californian Kenny Roberts learned from Baker, and went on to 3 world titles. Like Baker before him, Roberts beat British hero Barry Sheene. Recently Roberts turned from the machine shop to an artist’s easel, painting himself as a chimera, stalking Sheene to an eventual win.
Roberts donated his historic (and unexpected!) painting to the charity Riders for Health which uses 2-wheelers in outreach to 14 million people in 7 African countries (including Liberia, where bikes transfer blood samples to Ebola testing laboratories). Unfortunately, ill health prevented Kenny Roberts from attending Rider’s annual benefit Day of Champions  yesterday, Sept. 1, 2016.
Who ya gonna call? STEVE BAKER! David Preston of support group Riders Seattle rang moto-journalist Jack Lewis, who brought the painting from Kenny Roberts’ location to Seattle, where land speed bike record holder Rolf Vitous took it on to Steve Baker. We (Bruce & photographer Martha Scholten) were – like 1000s of other racing fans – thrilled to see Baker as an honored guest at Silverstone racetrack before the British Moto Grand Prix yesterday. 
Esteemed world champions like Wayne Gardner invited Baker to attend future events in Australia. And Baker was mobbed for autographs and selfies by British fans who recalled his exploits in the Trans-Atlantic Match Races of the 1970s. (When we Scholtens moved to Britain in 1992, gift shops sold wrapping paper with images of Baker on his #32 winning Yamaha Tz750!) Baker said, ‘I was honored to take Kenny Roberts’ painting to the British MotoGP.’
It shows that as well as being fun – Motorcycles save lives in Africa! 
Besides, we’re so fast up in Washington State, that WE DON’T CARE HOW THE HECK THEY DO IT IN CALIFORNIA!
Copyright Bruce Scholten    2016
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Sometimes it takes a really big village

Sometimes it takes a really big village.

This saga has several underlying foundations.  The first is that I have been raising funds for Riders for Health with various events for 16 years. 

It all began when I went to work for Cycle Barn in the year 2000. Owner Jim Boltz had been introduced to Riders by Bruce Scholten, one-time Lynnwood resident, motorcycle road racer, and early Cycle Barn customer. Bruce moved to England and is now one of the leading experts on sustainable dairy farming in the world.  He is a lecturer at Durham University, and also a moto-journalist,  music expert, and well – it goes on.

Riders for Health founders Andrea and Barry Coleman had flown from their home in England to Seattle that year on a fund-raising trip, and Jim Boltz invited Susan and me to join his wife and Andrea and Barry Coleman for dinner. Andrea and Barry are two of the most inspiring people you will ever meet, and I was all-in immediately. With Jim Boltz’ encouragement (and funding), I proceeded to put on one to four events a year to do what we could to help.  Most of them were not huge productions, nor were they designed to be, but a little money goes a long way for health care infrastructure support in developing African nations.

The second basis for what has occurred recently was the call-in talk radio show I hosted for three years. “The Motorsports Show, with Dave Preston,” was a brainstorm project Boltz and I created.  It did make a profit, albeit small, but eventually became too large a load to bear, as I was the “talent scout” who invited the guest each week, the head ad writer, the on-air host, and the guy who kept the books and tried to lure advertisers.

The real benefit to Cycle Barn was that I grew an impressive list of notable contacts in the motorcycle and car worlds, people who would be in town for whatever reason.  Some of my favorite guests were Indy and LeMans veteran Dominic Dobson, now one of the significant people at the LeMay Museum, famed Harley tuner Bill Werner, local road racing legend Mike Sullivan, road race training guru Keith Code, racing legend Chris Carr, and many others.  I got to know many of the best and brightest, although most of them would probably have a hard time remembering me.  People on the guest list often came in handy for other projects at Cycle Barn.  Hosting the show also dramatically improved my ability to listen to others carefully and talk less, a life-long weakness of mine.

The 3rd building block came from the details of my job with both Cycle Barn and then Ride West.  I wrote the newsletters, answered e-mails, attended all sorts of events, managed charitable donations, talked to thousands of people, and led customers on club rides. From all of this grew an enormous list of several thousand e-mail contacts with riders of virtually any type of motorcycle.

All of that came into play a few weeks ago, when I received an e-mail from Andrea Coleman.  She had a problem.  The largest fund-raising event Riders for Health does each year is the Day of Champions, which features all sorts of events plus guest appearances from many of the top athletes in MotoGP. World Superbike, Formula One car racing, and other motorsports notables.

This year they had scheduled a special treat.  “King Kenny” Roberts, one of the greatest road racers and team owners in history, has taken up painting. He had done a painting of a memorable race battle with British legend Barry Sheene back in the day, and would donate the painting to be auctioned off as a donation to Riders for Health.

The plan was for Kenny to take his art to Bellingham, where American legend Steve Baker lives, and Steve would fly it to England, where he was to be a special guest of honor at the event this year.

Then… Kenny Roberts became ill.  In her e-mail, Andrea explained that Kenny would be OK, but wondered if I could use my contacts to find someone to fetch the painting from somewhere in Oregon and get it to Bellingham – in the next five days.

Contacts?  Heck, I’d be pleased to do it myself.  A chance to meet and speak with Kenny Roberts and Steve Baker – two of my motorcycle heroes?  I would leap at the opportunity.

Except. As I received Andrea’s e-mail my mother-in-law, one of my heroes in real life, lay in the hospital, her death approaching inexorably. In addition, I was having problems with my sciatic nerve that first cropped up almost 50 years ago. Walking was difficult, and driving a car 500 miles or more was really not going to happen.

In addition, I did not know where in Oregon Kenny was, or in what sort of a facility, or how big the painting was. Could it be carried on a motorcycle, for example? There would be a big difference in the scope of the task if the painting was in Portland, as compared to Grants Pass.

Because of time delays it is difficult to have e-mail chats with England, and Andrea’s first response to my queries got lost in cyberspace.  As a stop gap, I put out a general plea on Facebook with what I knew.

Almost immediately I had several people eager to drop everything and rush in to solve the problem.  But details were missing.  Several more e-mails flew back and forth when I was home between stays at the hospital, and then the hospice. Eventually I learned that Kenny Roberts was resting in his motorhome in Florence, and that the painting was in a long plastic shipping tube, so motorcycle transport was possible but probably not a good idea.

Then the contacts of years past came to the rescue.   I’ve known Jack Lewis for years. There are a few people who write about books in this area, and Jack is by far the best of us. You’ve probably read his columns in “Motorcyclist” magazine.  His books are even better, and not all of them deal with motorcycles.  Nothing in Reserve details his experiences in war and the aftermath, and it is gripping. To me it compares well with Norman Mailer’s The Naked and The Dead, except that Mailer was writing about the experiences of others, while Jack is dealing with his own triumphs (some) and agonies (many).   You need to purchase everything he has written.

In fact, a meeting with Jack and Shasta is what got me into publishing books through Amazon.  Eight books later, I owe them for their insight.

By good fortune, Jack and Shasta were heading north through Oregon, and could side-track to Florence to meet Kenny Roberts and pick up the painting to get it to Seattle.  They would get here Friday evening.  The painting needed to get to Steve Baker by Monday.

Half-way there.  Now I had several more possible heroes to take on the second part.  

I’ve known Rolf Vitous for many years.   He first came to my attention as a motorcycle riding instructor when I was at Cycle Barn. He would go on my club rides when his schedule allowed. He saved the day for me on the occasion of the only serious riding accident I had to deal with on those rides. Three riders crashed in the same corner, one of them suffering a broken arm. As I stood there, the rider group gathered and quickly sorted themselves by levels of first aid training.  Traffic was blocked while the downed motorcycles were moved to safety, and Rolf used his high-end AAA membership to summon a tow truck.  The injured rider was whisked to a hospital and then Rolf rode with me back to Cycle Barn, where we met the tow truck driver and stashed the motorcycle inside for safety.  Rolf and several others saved the day. 

Rolf later purchased from Cycle Barn a Kawasaki ZX-14 that set a World Land Speed record at Bonneville, a project I had the pleasure of guiding along.  I believe he still owns it, and the little affixed brass plates with “World Land Speed” record holder on them add a lot of cred.

I have a lot of time for Rolf.  Always ready to listen to or relate a fine story, over a good cigar if possible.

Several people were willing to journey to Bellingham, but Rolf got the nod, taking the painting to Steve Baker after teaching a motorcycle safety course all day Sunday.

And so, because of the great lengths of rope I was given by Jim Boltz at Cycle Barn to do my job, and to some degree later by Keith Thye at Ride West, I did have the contacts and the wonderful people to rely on to get this done.

Steve Baker flew the painting to England, where was auctioned off for Riders for Health – for $4000.

A fine ending to an improbable story.

Here is a picture of the painting. 

 Riders pic


On the left is American MotoGP legend Randy Mamola, who started Riders for Health with Andrea and Barry and has been involved ever since. Andrea and Barry are holding the painting, and that is Steve Baker on the right.

The painting is curious to me. It shows a battle between Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene, where Roberts hounded Sheene for the entire race before passing him near the end for the win.

Now Kenny Roberts has never been accused of having a small ego. Few people who excel to the heights he has do. And yet, look at the picture. All you can see of Kenny is his right knee and the last few letters of his name on the shoulder. If you did not know it was him, you would not be able to notice him. Isn’t that curious?  I’d love to be able to ask him about that.

Perhaps someday I will.


David Preston  Copyright 2016


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The Way to World Peace

The Olympics!

I spent a lot of time the past two weeks watching the summer Olympics. Unfortunately, the reason for that was hours spent with my wonderful mother-in-law as she approached her death, first in a hospital and then in a hospice.  There was a family member or several with her 24 hours a day, and lots of time spent with the TV tuned to the Olympics with the sound turned off.  There was also a lot of time at home waiting for the next shoe to drop, with the TV sound turned on.

There were so many feel-good moments and stories with the Olympics, mixed in with the random example of bad behavior or a petulant statement.  Dorine passed away peacefully, and this week, as we begin to put our lives back to the “normal” setting, I miss setting the TV for several hours of coverage a day.

Then came the idea. The Olympics should not be held every four years. The Olympics should be held FOR four years.

One of the biggest challenges facing whichever city wants to host the Olympics is the enormous cost, and most recent Olympiads have left the host city with an enormous debt and fine facilities that in some cases have been allowed to wither away to rot.

What if… what if…

Rio held the Olympics from 2016 to 2020, and then handed off to Tokyo for 2020 to 2024?  And so on…

First of all, you would be able to allow all sorts of sports never seen in the Olympics, many of which would be a great TV and global tourist draw.  Have you ever seen “tossing the caber?” Fascinating.  Rodeos are held all over the world – how about one with national teams? Rock climbing, drag racing, obstacle runs, canoe racing, softball, skeet, motorcycle trials, surfing, and on and on.  Same with so-called “winter” sports. You can rapidly fill an entire page of notes with potential events.

Some of the usual events, such as swimming and track, could be spread out over months. The sprints one month, then diving two months later, the field events, water polo, etc.

For the host city, you would have four years of tourist influx as people all over the globe fly in to witness “their” sport.  The massive infrastructure costs would thus be spread out and the overall positive economic impact multiplied several times.

Most nations now have some sort of training facility for their Olympic teams. It would be fairly easy to make them all operational 12 months a year.

For the IOC, TV broadcasting rights could be marketed in two week or one month chunks to major networks, or the IOC could form its own “Olympics” network offering current sports events, re-runs or previous events, highlights, analysis, etc. Sort of an ESPN but focused on the Olympics. Every day. All day.

I believe the way to dissolve prejudice and hatred of others and all sorts of bias is to watch all the citizens of the world compete in competition. Even the spiteful words of a Hope Solo or the idiotic behavior of a Ryan Lochte can create a positive outcome from the backlash. The human interest stories and the many examples of sportsmanship that vastly outnumber the negatives would resonate around the world in a continuous and positive torrent.  Small countries would have more of an occasion to celebrate their successes, as the medal domination of the United States would be diluted by both time and the addition of several dozen new events, some of which are almost unknown in this country.

Enough of this every four years stuff. Let’s make the Olympics permanent.



Copyright 2016                      David Preston

Posted in Education, Rants and Raves, Travel | 1 Comment

Obituary for Dorine Tracy

Dorine Ringwood Tracy

Dorine Tracy was the daughter of Harold and Nell Ringwood, part of a farming family with deep roots in the wheat country around Sprague, Washington – going back generations to the Ringwoods who homesteaded there.  She was one of five very close brothers and sisters.

One of Dorine’s greatest childhood joys was riding her horse Peanuts, heading off to sit in the shade and read western novels.  Everyone had a job on the farm, and at 13 Dorine’s was driving truck during harvest – until it was discovered her attention was focused on reading Zane Grey instead of being on time with her truck to meet the combine.  She was fired from truck driving and sent back to kitchen duty, where she learned from her mother and Aunt Till the very secret and sacred art of “the perfect cinnamon roll”.  In later years, several of Dorine’s children continued the connection to the Ringwood farm by working the harvest with their cousins over the years.  None of them got fired for reading on the job, though the younger cousins did enjoy riding in the trucks as the wheat was delivered to the elevators.

Dorine discovered her passion and profession at Sacred Heart Nursing School in Spokane.  During her years at Sacred Heart, Dorine and her friends enjoyed many mixers with the guys from Gonzaga University.  This is where Dorine and John met and the dance of their love began.  One special memory was of the 1948 Harvest Ball – a picture from that ball of Dorine, John, and friends still hangs on the wall at GU.  That same picture hung on the wall in their family home and prompted many stories over the years, shared with their children and grandchildren.

In 1965, Dorine and John moved to the Kirkland area where they put down new roots.  They raised six children, and family was everything.  Of course, ‘everything’ included a sailboat with trips to the San Juans, big family holiday dinners, bike rides, joys and occasional tragedies.  The refrain around the dining table was: “which way are we passing the plates?”  And whether right or left was decided, platters circulated both ways every time.  The memory of “how many leaves do we need in the table,” will always be held dear.   As it turned out, her early years of kitchen duty paid off for her kids, since she was a fantastic cook.

If you’d ever been around Dorine, you’d know she was Irish.  The blessing at the front door, the shamrocks in the house, and the trips to Ireland were obvious signs; but what really gave it away was her buoyant spirit and ready laughter.  Dorine and John’s great friends, Clare and Austin, remained close compatriots and partners in adventure over 70 years – sailing, riding, trips – and of course, they’re Irish too.

Dorine fulfilled her lifelong calling to service in her career in nursing as well as in her community.  She formed enduring friendships within her nursing circle and her neighborhood.  Friends described her as “the kind of friend everyone should have” and “a true angel on earth.”  These reflections speak to the values of kindness and faith that she held so strongly.  Throughout her life, Dorine’s heart overflowed with hope and unconditional love.

Predeceased by her son Tim and husband John, Dorine is survived by children Susan (David), John (Anna Marie), Kevin (Al), Denis (JoAnn), Meghan (Richard), and grandchildren Dorine (Dorje), William (Alida), Samuel, Quinlan, Ryan, Kyle, Alexandra, and Brennen, and great grandchild Arthur.

Our treasure is greatly missed.  Sunrise June 22, 1926.  Sunset August 14, 2016.

A funeral mass and service for Dorine will be held at Holy Family Catholic Church in Kirkland at 11am on September 3rd, followed by a celebration of Dorine’s life at the Bayshore Room at the Woodmark Hotel in Carillon Point, Kirkland.  Dorine’s family invites all to attend, and please bring a picture and a story.  In lieu of flowers, memorials to Evergreen Hospice.

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Riders for Health Scavenger Hunt V

Riders for Health Scavenger Hunt V –   August 5th – 7th of 2016

We gathered at The Cove RV Park on Friday afternoon, and Saturday the “Street Team” rode up to Hurricane Ridge and back. If you have a motorcycle and live in the northwest, you have either done this ride or always have wanted to.  For the latter, the videos might be of interest.   Or if you live in some other area of the world and have always wanted to visit.

In the videos I am following four friends. Tony and Eric are on Ducati ST4s, and Rolfe is on a BMW K 1200 RS.  Rolfe is also the importer of Rok Straps, and attended the event and also provided some of the door prizes.

Part 1 covers from the entry ($15 for a motorcycle!) to almost the top, and part II covers the rest of the way.

Part I is at:


and Part II is at



Copyright 2016                              David Preston



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2016 California Motorcycle Trip – Part II

California Motorcycle Trip 2016 – Part II

More problems with directions, and more great roads.

Friday, July 22nd             Odometer:  2760

I spent most of the four days in Los Gatos doing very little. Idyllic sloth, if you will.  I wobbled between attending swim classes with Dorine and Grandson Arthur, picnics after class at the local library, lolling in the pool at their apartment, naps, and other constructive activities. Susan returned from Santa Barbara on Monday to join in the fun, and flew away home on Thursday. I followed her Friday morning.

Swim class was interesting, and another segment of “As the Small World Turns.”  Class took place at Los Gatos High School, which looks more like a movie set than a real place. The aquatic center is huge, and features the water polo section, where nephew Quinn competes, the lanes pool, and a large side section for kiddie classes.  Arthur had one other student in his class, and the two mothers interacted with their children under the instruction of Tanya.   One of the lifeguards was Kate, who is also a client of Dorine’s in her business of helping highly capable high school seniors navigate summer jobs, SATs, college apps, scholarships and the like. Another of the guards was John, who is Kate’s older brother and also nephew Sam’s roomie at UCSB.

For the return trip I proved that my learning curve does have a slight upward slant. I had room reservations before I left.   The first night in Willits, and the second at a very basic motel in Reedsport that I used last year.  The first cost $120, and the 2nd – $59.  There are reasons for this…

Up early and over Highway 17 to Santa Cruz for fuel and breakfast, and then on up the coast on Highway 1 to “the city.”  This is a delightful ride I include every year. The sun is up, there is no traffic to speak of, and the ocean winks at you on the left.  Alas, as I rolled North the fog bank rolled in and dimmed the view. You end up idling through San Francisco in fairly light traffic for the time of day, and I always stop at the view point just across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Crossing the bridge I could not see anything to either side. At the viewpoint you could barely make out the bridge, and Alcatraz was out there – somewhere.

I parked the bike at an open spot right next to the stairs leading to a memorial to sailors, and what a scene!  Everyone who walked by had a comment or a question about the Bonneville.

Two tall young men I took to be Japanese came over and indicated with gestures that they liked the bike. One of them indicated he would like to take a picture.  I gestured back with a motion that was meant to say “Let me get out of your way.”

He took this to mean “Go ahead and sit on the bike.”  I was shocked as he climbed aboard.  With the large bags on the back you cannot just throw your leg over, but must raise your leg in a high kick and slide it across the seat.  My heart leapt into my mouth as he did this, fearing the worst, but evidently he knew what he was doing. His friend took the pictures, and with a few bows and broad smiles they were off.

I noticed three large sport touring bikes across the lot. Two BMWs and a Ducati.  The riders were getting ready to leave, and we nodded to each other, as you do. The one started his BMW and rode it straight ahead to just behind mine. He flipped up his visor and said “You look like the cover of a magazine!”


“Smoking your pipe next to the bike. May I take a picture?”

Well, sure.  He took the photo and walked up to shake hands. “My name is Rafi.”

“Where are you from, Rafi?”


“Well, welcome to America, Rafi!”

We chatted for a bit about our respective plans. He was surprised I had ridden all the way from Seattle and was heading back. He asked how many miles I rode in a day, and when I said “about 400, except for one day of 565,” he replied “Wow – you’re hard core!”

That made me think.  Since I have friends (ones I think are batcrap nuts) who do Iron Butt Rides of a thousand miles in a day or for several days of that distance, I have never thought of what I do as hard core. I think when people see the (relatively) small size of the Triumph and the utter lack of bodywork or a windshield they assume it is much more difficult than it is.

After they rode off I began to kick myself in my mental butt. Why did I not give him one of my cards with my e-mail address?  He would have sent me the picture, and I would have gained a friend in Israel.  Still rankles that I did not do so.

I think I could have stood there all day answering questions and accepting compliments about my bike, but even my ego needs can be met, so I was off again.

North a bit and then left as Highway 1 and 101 split, and over to the coast.

Once again I managed to make a wrong turn, and discovered a new route by accident. I had traveled the “usual” one three times by car and motorcycle, and the new one featured and up and over and so many hairpins I actually got tired of all the hairpin turns.

Odd, as I don’t think I have ever made a wrong turn in all of my previous journeys going back 40 years, or at least rarely, and on this trip I seemed to screw up on average more than once a day. More on that in a paragraph or two.

I paused for fuel in Port Reyes Station, and when I asked for the key to the men’s room the woman laughed and asked if I would be putting her in my novel. I was perplexed, and then realized I was wearing a t-shirt that says “Watch out or I will put you in my novel.”  I laughed and told her I had already written and published several books.  This always impresses people, and they never ask if any of them sell in large numbers.

On the way to Sebastopol, where I planned to turn East to rejoin 101, I stopped at Tomales for lunch at the same deli where I ate last year. After that the troubles began…

The road to Sebastopol becomes Highway 12, but it is not marked as such for several miles.  Once I knew I was on the right track I cruised through Sebastopol and headed for Santa Rosa to join 101 North. I did see the exit, but I was on the wrong side of the road in busy traffic. When I exited later and tried to get back I got lost – again. I stopped at a gas station to ask for directions, and the kindly gentleman either did not know what he was talking about or I don’t listen very well. I could not find the furshlugginer 101! I ended up on a lovely road I decided to follow, as I was ahead of schedule, and this took me on a 45 mile “detour” on some lovely roads through the Napa wine country.  I eventually returned to a park in the small town of Kendall.  Then I headed into Santa Rosa and got lost – again!  Now it was 90 degrees or more, and I was getting frustrated. I stopped at a different gas station and cooled down with a bottle of Dr. Pepper, and this time – finally, the provided directions worked.

Of course, if I had a smart phone with GPS, and I can hear my friends cackling with glee as I write this, NONE of these many navigational errors would have occurred.  Next year…

All was terrific until I was a mere five miles from Willits. Then another construction zone, this one much worse. All of the freeway traffic was directed to the small road leading into Willits. The crawl slowed to about 1 mile per hour, and boy golly howdy was it hot.  I actually managed to miss the sign for the motel (in fairness it was almost invisible) and trolled all the way through town in the boiling heat. A phone call eventually got me to the Best Western, which was both expensive and very unimpressive.

After I checked it, I chose to remove the tank bag and take it to my room before moving the bike.  Forgetting that the lid was unzipped.  The entire contents promptly strewed themselves all over the sloping and piping hot asphalt of the parking lot.  What a way to end the day!

Once I got the bike parked in the correct spot I chose to not succumb to the heat and fatigue, taking the time to lube the drive chain. This is always more effective when done while the chain is still hot.

Changing into shorts and a t-shirt I realized I had been so frustrated by my (many) navigational errors that I had failed to maintain proper hydration.  I was not hungry, which was a sure sign.  I tromped across the road to a handy shopping center and loaded up on a lot of liquids and a little food. I also purchased their last roll of duct tape to replace what I had borrowed from the unfortunates who had the car break-in, which was starting to peel off. I retired to my room at 5:15pm pretty well defeated. A “Jason Bourne” movie on the TV was a great way to restore my mental state while milk and beer and water replenished the fluids I had lost.

Odometer reading:         3061           Mileage for the day: 301   Total:  1461

Saturday, July 23rd

The continental breakfast was surprisingly complete, partially redeeming the Best Western in my internal review, and soon I was running North on 101 for another fantastic morning. Once again, little traffic, rhythmic winding roads running up and down, and fantastic scenery. I made use of my newest safety technique as well.

One of the most severe safety dangers when riding a motorcycle in remote areas these days comes in the form of deer. Especially in the morning and evening hours. My new technique is to find a car or truck traveling at approximately my own preferred pace, which can be tricky, as most are canoodling slower than I would like. On this occasion I lucked out and found an aggressively driven truck I used as a “deer blocker” for about 40 miles. I was saddened when he eventually turned off.

I spend a lot of quality time at a rest stop somewhere up in the hills, sitting all by myself and just soaking in the peace and quiet and the sun, rapidly ramping up for another warm day.

Eventually 101 rejoined 1, and it was on to the coast.  Once there the mist and cold moved back in and the ride to Reedsport was chilly, made a bit worse by incredibly strong winds – almost violent at times.

My reservation was at the Best Budget Inn in Reedsport, a motel so basic that it made me laugh.  No A/C.  No mini-refrigerator. No in-room coffee maker. A small bathroom with a shower stall so small that when I dropped the soap I had to rotate around to bend over with my butt bowing out the shower curtain.  And not even a digital clock.  The TV did have two stations, and about 15 retail stations, but Jason Bourne was on again – the other movie.  For $59 you don’t get much, which was fine. Relaxing evening.

Odometer:  3437                     Mileage for this day: 421                  Total: 1882

Sunday, July 24th

The last day started very well, as had all the others. I rode up Highway 1 in very heavy fog and chose to turn East on 126 at Florence to get to I-5 and the slog home.  Brilliant move.  The fog lifted gradually, and the scenes before me took on a surreal likeness to an impressionist painting. There were lakes as still as death with wisps of fog rising, one of them with a lone person fishing in a small boat that looked more painted that real.  Once again I was fortunate to find a “deer blocker,” and followed him for a long way. Eventually, for whatever reason, the driver really ramped it up, and I decided that 85 mph was a little too brisk on a winding highway I did not know that still offered copious for here and there.   I was cold but it was so beautiful!

I was ahead of schedule, again, and again, it was too good to last. The first freeway slowdown was due to a complete gutting of about a 1958 Cadillac airport limousine that had succumbed to fire. After that there were repeated blurts of 75mph and then inexplicable pauses of 5 mph for a mile or two.  For most of them I could see no reason why the masses had slowed.

I got through Portland with less hassle than I imagined, but in Olympia it all went to heck. Now we had a serious traffic jam.  I chose to make use of the new Washington lane splitting law than I THOUGHT had passed last year, and idled past about an hour’s worth of traffic jam. Just today I learned that the bill never made it out of the House, so I broke the law – extensively. Oops.

The rest of the day was a bit of a drag, as I expected, because getting back to Seattle on a Sunday in the summer is going to be challenge from almost any direction.

I arrived home to the garage that my wife had left open so I could just ride in like a MotoGP superstar, and then I relaxed on our deck with the steak Susan had purchased for me.

Good to be home.

Odometer:  3818                      Mileage this day:  381             Total:           2263

What I learned on this trip:

  1. I will need to cave in to reality and purchase a smart phone.
  2. The borrowed Cortech saddlebags worked very well. I have since ordered and received my own set, with a matching top bag that plugs into the saddlebags.
  3. A new Triumph Bonneville, parked, is a great way to meet people.
  4. Although the wind drag on my arms and body was a bit of a problem, I am not sure I want to add a windshield. The bike looks so perfect as is.
  5. All in all this is the most romantic motorcycle I have ever used for a trip. Not the fastest, and surely not the most practical, but every day was memorable and filled with a sense of occasion. That has great value to me, probably more now than when I was younger.

Next year’s trip – the planning starts now!



Copyright 2016                        David Preston




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2016 California Motorcycle Ride – Part I

My 2016 California Motorcycle Ride – Part I

A broken helmet, a car break-in, and a murder = not your usual.

Friday, July 15th                     Beginning Odometer read.  1590 miles

I started with breakfast with friends, leaving Bothell at about 8:30am. Because I have not put on the free pass stickie for the new HOV lanes, I chose to meander the back roads, joining I-90 East at the appropriately named town of Preston.  When I did this trip last year, I chose a back roads route down to Mt. Rainier and East to Yakima. That turned out to be sort of a drone, so this year I chose to just suck it up and simply ride the freeways East to Ellensburg, and then South past Yakima to Goldendale and into Oregon.

I paused at Shaniko at the never completed revision of a ghost town, and spend time chatting with people who passed by.  Very few people can stroll by a Triumph Bonneville without stopping to chat.  Virtually everyone has a memory of the original Bonneville, or owned one, or are simple captivated by the look. Many of them think mine is a restored original, and are quite surprised to find it is a brand new 2016 version. Then I usually give them a tour of all the modern gizmos that are hidden.

Then it was a short side detour down to Antelope, and then back to the main road and south to the small town of LaPine, Oregon, and my stop for the night at the Highlander motel, my favorite motel.

All went well until just south of Bend, where a horrendous traffic snarl due to construction took me about an hour in high heat to reach my destination for the day. This became the theme of the trip – every morning was fantastic, and every afternoon was – challenging.

I love the Highlander motel.  It has only 12 rooms,  adjoined by a gas station and a small market, with two restaurants across the street. The owner has been running the place since he was 12, and does an amazing job.  The rooms are small, clean, and inexpensive.   In each room there is a small container of “Oopsy Rags” meant for people like me who want to clean up a motorcycle or other begrimed vehicle.  I purchased dinner of sorts at the market, and spent an enjoyable evening sitting outside my room and chatting with people who were curious about my bike, or other motorcyclists. There was a father and son duo on Honda cruisers, and I felt the strong emotion of the 40-plus year old son enjoying a trip with his much older father.

End of day odometer: 1996    Mileage for the day:  406

Saturday, July 16th

I got up early and filled the tank as the gas station opened at 6am. Out of town I turned East on Highway 131, which goes up and up and then South. This may have been a mistake, because the time was essentially o-deer-thirty, and it was pretty cold.  On the other hand, there was virtually no traffic and I saw no deer. I was aiming for a small town for breakfast, but had no luck.  I did find a gorgeous little park in Summer Lake where I paused to take in the beauty of the morn and let the rising sun warm me up a bit.

This is one of the advantages of smoking a pipe.  I stop frequently, and smoking my pipe forces me to slow down and pay attention to the beauty and solitude.  When you ride alone there is a danger of riding too far and not stopping often enough or for long enough. If you are not careful you can end your ride not really having experienced it.

Somewhere in here my right visor attachment pod broke for no apparent reason.  I taped the visor to the helmet with some mediocre painter’s tape I had, but I  had to have enough room to open the visor to put on my glasses. 

Finally found a fine spot for breakfast at the Homesteader Café in Paisley, 120 miles down the road from LaPine.

On to California and the great roads leading to Quincy – some of the best riding ever. The original plan was to stop for the day at Quincy, but problems arose. First of all, it was only 3pm, which is a little early to stop for the day. Secondly, I knew the national Norton convention was wrapping up in Quincy and that might mean a dearth of motel rooms.

I had been to Quincy for the Norton convention about 20 years ago, and it was a pretty big deal.  Not so this time. I saw virtually no evidence of Norton activity at all.  At a gas stop there were two of them, with a third in the back of a truck, which is about the right ratio for 40 and more year old Nortons.  Later I saw two of them on a trailer being towed by a gorgeous white Cadillac hearse!  This struck me as a great tow vehicle, and you could sleep inside it.  After all, hundreds before you had slept there, but the odds are high that your experience would be different because you would wake up.

I chose to keep going. The roads from Quincy to Nevada City are about 100 miles of fantastic. I was mad at myself over this stretch last year, because I had been careless. I was hot, dehydrated, and very hungry, to the extent that it hampered my ability to enjoy the ride and progress with verve. Not this time – marvelous.

Alas, Nevada City had not motels I could find.  Nor did Grass Valley, or Auburn! Now it was getting late in the day.  I did not want to take off the dark tinted visor, lest I do more damage to the crippled attachment. I chose to ride toward Sacramento in hopes of finding a motel.  Did you know that modern motels often do not have a “No Vacancy” sign?  How irritating!  After stopping three times in 90 degree heat, removing my helmet and going inside to be denied, I was getting worried.   I called Susan, who was in Las Gatos, and asked her to use her smart phone to find me a motel room in Sacramento. I think is was the death knell for my flip phone.  It seems everyone uses a smart phone these days, and with one I could have solved the problem easily.   With some effort she got me a room at a Days Inn in Sacramento.  I called and got directions from the manager, and I was off into a setting sun.

Alas, the manager misunderstood where I was riding from, and gave me incorrect directions!  Now I was riding North and West on I-5 toward Woodland, directly into a setting sun, looking for a “Richards Blvd.” exit. As I neared Woodland and darkness set in, the low fuel light came on.  I would not have enough to get back to Sacramento, so I made a hurried stop for fuel and headed back toward Sacramento. Two more phone calls and a conversation at a freeway exit with a helpful woman in a car and I finally figured out the manager’s error. The motel was two miles South of I-80!

I pulled in to the motel at 9pm, exhausted physically and emotionally. I did not care that the room cost $120.  I unpacked and took a walk to calm down and enjoy my pipe. When I came back there was a couple in the parking lot allowing their dog some exercise, smoking cigarettes, and (of course), looking over my Triumph. We had a nice chat, and I explained my day of challenges.  At this, the gentleman said, “Well, you know why your wife was able to book a room here?”

“Um – no. Why?”

“Because there was a murder here last night!”


“Yeah, up there on the 2nd floor. When we got up this morning the parking lot was full of cops, and they would not let anyone check out or in for several hours.”

I have come up with the plot for 5 novels, and now reality was bringing one to me!

I slept well.

Odometer reading:      2570           Mileage for the day:    576

576 is not much for people fond of Iron Butt or similar high mileage events, but on back roads with no bodywork or windshield, it is a long day.


Sunday, July 17th

I chose to ride South from Sacramento on I-5, as I had not gone this way before.  Another gorgeous morning.  My visor was getting more and more loose as the tape began to fail. Finally a combination of a gust of wind and a turn of my head to the left tore the visor completely off – at 75 mph!  That got my attention.  I pulled to the side and donned my sun glasses and resumed.  At speed my eyes were watering so much I could barely see straight ahead. Looking down at the instruments was impossible. I resolved to stop at the next Rest Area and tape on the clear visor.  That turned out to be 50 miles away.

At the Rest Area I hooked my boot on the top bag as I was dismounting and I fell, quite hard, on my left hip. The one with bursitis.  Ouch. Added to my “trick” right knee, which always hurts more or less. I limped to a bench and took out the clear visor and set about taping it into place with the crummy tape.  As I sat there I noticed a Mercedes in the parking lot. The driver’s door glass was all over the ground, and people were finishing cleaning it out and beginning to tape clear plastic over the window area. With duct tape.

Hmmm.  I strolled over and asked what had happened.   The woman had locked her purse in the car, having shoved it up under the pedals so it was not visible, and then gone to the rest room. Some miscreant, who had clearly been scouting cars as they came into this very busy area, broke out the window, stole the purse, and fled. Evidently nobody saw this.  I thought ruefully about the key to my bike, sitting in the ignition, and my wallet, in the tank bag.

I expressed my sympathies and asked if I could have about 6 inches worth of the duct tape. With the clear visor held more firmly in place, I headed South again on I-5, down to where it intersects 152, which would take me West to Gilroy and then Watsonville.

As I left I-5 I noticed an “In ‘N Out Burger” restaurant, and did not miss the chance to take in this famed chain, sort of a Mecca for car and motorcycle people. It lived up to the hype.

Replenished in belly and spirit, I headed West on 152.   I had one more mistake to make this day. Instead of continuing to Highway 1 and then onto 17 over the hill to Las Gatos, I had a brain spasm and turned North on 101.  This would take me to San Jose, but I had been in San Jose and Las Gatos often enough that I figured I could “hot rod” the way from San Jose to Los Gatos, and I did, with some difficulty.

Now it got even more interesting from a family point of view. Susan was in Santa Barbara with her sister Meghan, who also lives in Las Gatos.  They had gone down to visit Meghan and Richard’s son Sam, a freshman at UCSB. Meanwhile, the ostensible goal of the trip was to visit daughter Dorine and husband Dorje and grandson Arthur, but they were finishing up a visit with Dorje’s brother, and would not be home until the evening.  It was decided I should just go to Meghan’s house, where Rich and son Quinn might or might not be home, and just hang out for the afternoon.

Good plan.  As it turned out, Richard was home. Shortly thereafter Quinn showed up with Sammi and her two daughters.  Sammi is Meghan’s best friend from forever, and is a former student of mine. Sammi lives a mile from our house. How’s that for odd?  Quinn had taken them for a day of surfing, and now Sammi and the girl’s faced a late afternoon drive to Redding for their motel reservation. I did not envy them.  Richard had to go in to the office, and Quinn left for somewhere, so I – napped.

Later in the afternoon I was relaxing on the front porch and an older fellow on a scooter paused to take in the Triumph.   He was new to motorcycles, and the scooter was a first step.  When he heard that I had ridden from Seattle he said “You inspire me!” and tottled off.  That was nice.

It was over 90 degrees, so in the evening when Dorine and family arrived at their apartment, I left my leather pants and boots at Meghan’s and rode a mile through town with helmet, jacket, and gloves, plus shorts and slip on shoes. Sort of ATGATT (all the gear all the time) from the waist up.

First half of the trip done!

Odometer: 2760           Mileage for the day: 190       So far: 1160


Copyright 2016                      David Preston

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Remembering Mnemonics – Old and New

I have always been fond of mnemonic devices, those little sentences or images that help you remember things that may or may not be important.

In 8th grade Science class we were taught how to remember the difference between “rotate” and “revolve.” The teacher had us all stand and put a finger on the top of our head. We would then rotate on our own axis. While doing that, we would walk in a circle, revolving around the room.  One reason this was effective was that any classroom task that gets 8th graders out of their desks and moving will be memorable.

Then there was the mnemonic sentence to help you remember the order of the planets.  “Many Very Early Men Ate Juicy Steaks Using No Plates,” which stood for  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroid Belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.  Sadly, this one no longer works, as we have added a planet, dropped one, and changed the order.   ….but I can’t recall the new arrangement.

I used one in teaching English to get across the proper use of the comma. I would have the students stand and walk around the room saying “comma” and then slapping their own butt.  Not another’s butt!  This taught that a comma is almost always placed before the word “but.”  I cannot think of an example where it is not. My wife borrowed this one for her elementary students, and of course I borrowed the stand up and move idea from my 8th grade science teacher.

There are hundreds of examples, but here are two I invented all by myself.

“When the helmet drops, the bullshit stops.”  I used to say this every time I put on my crash helmet, to remind myself that riding a motorcycle requires all of your attention, all of the time. There is no room for contemplating what is going on at work, or the bills to be paid, or the joys (hopefully many) or sorrows (hopefully rare) of married life.  I still do this today, although it is usually only a thought and I do not say it aloud.  This one you can find in Wikipedia under motorcycle safety, as I used it in my book Motorcycle 201.

My other mnemonic I have never seen used by anyone else.  In 1998, I took on a part time job with Doug’s Lynnwood Mazda, which became the prototype effort for my full-time career in motorsports from 2000 – 2013. In both cases I was required to hop into a car or motorcycle, often on short notice, that I had never experienced before.  I began to wear some sort of driving gloves for each occasion, to remind myself that I was now operating a vehicle that was not mine and that might be quite valuable  (such as a Hummer or a newer Miata or Mazda truck) and I needed to focus. Particularly if I was on a rally or in a drag race or some other activity that involved aggressive driving.  Of course with motorcycles I was wearing gloves anyway (because I am not stupid), but the act of pulling on the gloves was still a good reminder. Often I was to ride a motorcycle such as a Honda Valkyrie that I had never ridden before and then take part in a club event where everyone else was riding that bike and most of them were highly experienced with that bike, as in relatively fast.   I did not crash any of the 600 or so cars and motorcycles I drove, rode, or raced in that time, and the glove and helmet mnemonics were an assist, I believe.

That is why in some of the posted pictures from the “Gambler 500” rally of last weekend you will see me wearing “driving gloves.”  They are actually just golf gloves, but they do the task of helping me focus.  Alas, they could not prevent me from finding a sharp rock or ten on the rough trails the organizers had presented as “roads.” One of them slashed the right front tire of the Volvo wagon I was driving, and then a second one I never saw did in the replacement.  With “only,” two spares, we had to retire from the dirt portions of the event.

In any case, mnemonics work. What’s your favorite?


Copyright 2016                        David Preston

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