The Power of a Brand Name and Heritage

The Power of a Brand Name and Heritage

The small internet corner where motorcycle enthusiasts lurk has been lit up recently by the news that BSA motorcycles will return in 2022.  People are excited, agog, gob smacked, and more!

With a lengthy history of experience with motorcycles, marketing, and promotion, this fascinates me in several ways.

Yes, I taught English for 31 years, but successfully teaching English also involves marketing and promotion.  And motorcycles, when I had any excuse…

BSA is an English brand name that hearkens back to before the American Civil War as a maker of armaments.  The acronym stands for Birmingham Small Arms.

By the middle of the 20th century, BSA had turned its attention to motorcycles, and they were successful for several decades.  To err on the side of brevity, their motorcycles were a tad more rough-hewn and brawnier than Triumph and other brands. 

A combination of the Japanese factories flooding the market with motorcycles that did not leak oil, had reliable electronics, and were faster and cheaper to purchase, combined with stunning mismanagement by BSA and the other English firms, scuppered all of them by the early-1980s. An intransigent labor force also contributed.

Fast forward 40 years, and huzzah, BSA will return.  The pictures popping up all over very closely resemble a BSA of the 1960’s, if you can manage to not see the radiator for the water-cooled engine. Since I have owned two modern Triumph Bonnevilles and a Triumph Thruxton with the same sop to modern requirements for noise and emissions and power, I am quite used to this.  It is pretty easy to ignore the black lump between the front frame tubes.  The rest of the bike looks gorgeous, with obvious BSA styling cues, including the traditional badge with BSA emblazoned over a starburst thingie and a repro of the original company icon of three crossed rifles on the side panels, which no longer contain oil as they did years ago, at least for a while. It is a gorgeous machine just to look at, without considering anything else.

But of course, in due time we do consider other things.  For one, this will be produced by Mahindra, a ginormous manufacturing company in India with lots of experience producing and selling cars, tractors, trucks, and more. Mahindra will have the talent and resources to produce a fine motorcycle.

This is somewhat similar to Royal Enfield, another English brand that migrated to India when the home market disappeared. The difference is that Royal Enfield of India started out decades ago by producing actual British Royal Enfields under license, and did this so well they eventually owned the rights and have been producing an ever-expanding line of motorcycles ever since. Their current model line is somewhat similar to Triumph, but at a lower cost.

Mahindra, other the other hand, owns merely the name BSA.  Their new model (coming in 2022 to a dealer near (maybe) you!) has no direct connection to their own past or BSA’s.  It is simply the resurrection of a famed name to be put on a brand-new product.

Worse (to me), the bike is a 650cc single.  Nothing wrong with that, unless you want to sell boat loads of them (literally), in America.  Large capacity singles have never sold well in this country – ever. 

Maybe the intent is not to sell them in this country, but in other countries with larger markets, such as India (duh!) and China.  But these countries already have dozens of models of this size, most of them twins, with tooling that was paid off decades ago and are therefore considerably less expensive to purchase.

Most of the excited comments seem to be posted by people in this country, which is odd.  Most American motorcyclists are unlikely to have ridden a BSA, and may have never seen one.  Many of them were not alive when the original company met its demise.  I’m an aging relic who has ridden 508 motorcycles in my motorcycle existence, and yet I have never ridden a BSA.

I did have a friend in high school who had an aged BSA 350cc single. That alone made him cooler than most.  I assisted him is getting it started after school one day. Many things were adjusted, the carb was “tickled” until raw fuel ran down the sides, and after an athletic workout by John it sputtered and then roared into life.  It shook all over. Drops of oil made a break for freedom here and there.  It was loud, and I thought it was terrifying.

All in all, it’s interesting to see all the buzz.  I know that Internet buzz is often not related to actual sales, but still…

Or perhaps this new model from Mahindra is merely to get experience with manufacturing motorcycles and setting up a dealer network, and the long view plan is to produce other models in due time, like the Spitfire, or the BSA triple. OK – now I get it.  Great plan!  Bring it!

Copyright 2021                      David Preston

For more of this fascinating stuff, please visit my web site at www.davidpreston.biz.   Comments welcome to dapreston1947@gmail.com,

Posted in Equipment, Marketing, Motorcycles | Leave a comment

My Favorite Writing Assignment

My Favorite Writing Assignment

I was an English teacher for 31 years, and I had a lot of writing assignments I liked.  What follows is my favorite.

Not the best or most important, actually. The best one ran for three years when I had my 9th grade English Honors class create, each year, an entire novel.  I used song lyrics to get the juices flowing. 

The first year I used Kenny Loggin’s “I’m All Right,” which proved to be an inspired choice when I learned the he was one student’s uncle! I wrote him a letter asking for permission to use the lyrics, which was probably not necessary, and he wrote back promptly with an enthusiastic assent and asked to be sent the final product. That got the students really committed to the idea. 

We brainstormed some characters and conflicts on the board, and then I went home and divided the plot into 28 or so equally sized chunks. Today that strikes me as a Herculean task, but I was very eager.  The students picked their favorite chapters from the typed list, and we were off.

The reason I used the Honors class was that I had to be confident that each student would finish her or his chapter.  If 27 students did their work and one did not, it would be a disaster, especially for that one student. 

In my experience, the biggest difference between Honors and other students was attitude.  Honors students were willing to attempt any whackydoodle concept I came up with, and their parents were also supportive. More on that later.

This was a great assignment for teaching continuity. The students had to discuss and/or read each other’s work to check for consistency.  What were the parents like? What kind of car did they drive? That sort of thing.

As we got into it, I explained that this was to be a real novel. I wanted the characters to talk like real teens. As an example, I asked the students to imagine what they would say if they were in a hurry between classes and slammed a locker door closed on a finger. What words would be said? Those were the words I wanted to see, not a long like of asterisks and exclamation points.

This was before the age of the computer, so the idea was that the final draft had to be typed, and using parents was OK.  I would then copy each page about 30 times and everyone would leave 9th grade with a copy of their own novel.

One student had his mother hand him her typed copy of his chapter, and (she told me this later), she watched as a look of horror came over his face. He looked at her and said “What have you done?”


“Well, I took out all the bad words you used that Mr. Preston would not want to see.”

“Mom!  Mr. Preston is the guy who taught me to put them in!”

She typed it all again, laughing.

So that was a great assignment. I did it for three years before transferring to the high school.

Best editing assignment came from the stand-up comedy class I taught for one year.  I had a local pro comic by the name of Ross Shafer that I found out about somehow come in as a guest speaker, and he was brilliant.

He explained how comedy worked in Vegas.  You were hired to do 30 minutes, for example, and that meant not 29 or 31, but 30. A digital clock set in to the stage helped. And there were management types in the audience counting the number and duration of laughs. Most importantly, he explained that if he thought of a new joke, he would include it somewhere.  If it did not work, he would listen to a recording of his set and then edit the joke to make it better. If he tried to make it better twice and it still did not work, he would toss it, even if he thought it was hilarious.

That was the only class I ever taught where many of the students actually perceived the value of editing.  Some of the jokes they wrote were really good. Usually after two or three edits and advice from their peers. Alas, they were high school students, and almost all of the “good stuff” was entirely inappropriate for school. And – Mr. Naïve was creating video- taped evidence that would end his career in about 30 seconds if almost any administrator saw it!   I wised up and only taught it for two semesters.

But the most fun assignment was: “Persuade Your Parents to Buy You a Car – Using Logic.”

This was in the junior high teaching years, when most students were frothing at the mouth to get their driving license.  Interesting side bar: when I was 15, the insurance rates for boys were much higher than for girls. No sexism: data.  In 1972 along came Title IX, and the opportunities for sports and a lot of other things came to girls. Girls learned they could work hard at a sport, and could also compete.  In a few years they learned that they could drive just as foolishly as teen boys, and their accident rates soared and became virtually equal to boys. Progress!

The unit was on writing essays to persuade. You can use emotion, or logic. A turning point in my own life came in 9th grade when I realized that my parents, both mechanical engineers, could be persuaded by logic, whereas emotion, including earnest pleas, begging, and tantrums, did not affect them at all.

For the assignment, I took a local publication of used cars and cut it up. Each student got a page with picture ads of local used cars. The student was to pick a favorite, and then write an essay to persuade the parents or parent to buy that car for the student’s use – using logic.

The Honors’ students got an even more fun assignment. Same deal, but in their case their parent or parents would write an essay in response, and then I would grade – both of the essays.  It was awesome! Imagine the conversations when both essays, graded to the same standards, came home!  I never had a parent get angry at this. Wonder if I could do that today?

Best one was a girl who picked an MG Midget.  There are very few reasons to purchase an MG Midget, even when new. It was small, cheap, and got good gas mileage. Plus, no room to carry a bunch of friends. That’s about it.

Her father took this to heart, and went to the library and got all kinds of information, most of it negative, on the MG Midget.  Frequency of repair (often), reliability (scant), safety features (none) and on and on. She handed in her well-written essay, and his.  His was three pages of detail, where he utterly destroyed every single point she had made. She was not really at peace with her A, since her father got an A+.

That was my favorite of all time.

What was your favorite assignment in English class?

Copyright 2021                      David Preston

For more, go to www.davdpreston.biz.  Comments to dapreston1947@gmail.com

Posted in Cars, Education | 1 Comment

Light Touring on the Triumph Rocket 3

Light Touring on the Triumph Rocket 3

As every video or published review indicates, as well as sales data, the Triumph Rocket 3 introduced in 2020 is an extremely capable motorcycle.

Which is odd in and of itself, because at first, or so at least it seemed to me, it looks like it would not be good for much but stunning onlookers with its totally outlandish appearance and specifications.

I bought it because the video reviews of the press launch impressed, because I liked it when I sat on it, and because its very outlandishness appealed.

But since purchase, almost 10,000 miles and 17 months or so ago, it has surprised me on a frequent basis.

Is it good for everything? No.  After a year, I purchased a new 2020 Bonneville T 120 to replace the 2016 version I traded in for the Rocket, and now I have all the motorcycle bases covered that my 74-year-old frame desires.  I have been riding for 54 years, and thanks to working in the business in my second career, I have ridden 510 (!) different motorcycles. I have gone as fast as I wanted and faster than I should have, too many times to count. I have ridden or owned sport bikes from 250-1200cc, humongous tourers, adventure and dirt bikes, electric bikes, large and small scooters, trikes and reverse trikes, etc. Been there and done that, and not done with riding for hopefully many more years.

Although I was greatly surprised by the handling of the Rocket, which is far better than I expected, and have been consistently delighted by the massive torque and power, and how great it is for riding two up, it turns out it is also great fun for touring. Sort of.

Depends on what the term means to you. I have ridden from Seattle to Florida on a motorcycle, Seattle to Minnesota and back and Seattle to San Francisco and back several times. I think of touring as any multi-day ride.  Your dictionary may differ.

Years ago, my friend Pat explained his theory of the four-day ride, and it goes like this.  Day 1:  you are excited to be off on an adventure, and the day is terrific.  Day 2: An awesome ride, as you are no well and truly into the trip.  Day 3:  Still great fun, but thoughts of home start to creep in.  The responsibilities you left behind start to nibble at your brain.  You begin to miss loved ones, etc.  Day 4: It has been a great trip, but your own bed beckons at the end of the day. The ride home is pleasant in anticipation.

This concept works very well for me.  Although I live alone, there is a lady in my life I start to miss, and I am concerned for, of all things – my cat!  Daphne is blind and needs eye drops twice a day. Although my wonderful duplex neighbor Peggy spends time with Daphne mornings and evenings while I am gone, and administers the eye drops, we have learned by experience that Daphne will eat very little when I am not home.

So, rather than the one-to-three-week trips of decades ago, “touring” on the Rocket 3 is mostly 4 days at a time.  Ironic, since it would be more comfortable and capable for the longer trips than any of the bikes I rode back then.

My most recent trip was actually much shorter than planned, but still great fun.  Mine is the GT model, with the factory semi-hard saddle bags, plus a magnetic tank bag and an extra bag strapped to the passenger seat.  Here is what I pack:

WEAR:           

Triumph pants/bandana        Boots / socks

Gloves                                    Underwear

Underarmor top                     t-neck

neck scarf                              t-shirt     

Rev’It jacket                           Helmet           

SADDLEBAGS:

Socks               2                     Jeans             

Undies            3                      Rain jacket

Tee-shirts       3                      Eddie Bauer top

Tire repair kit                         First Aid kit

T-neck            1                      Spare gloves         

Tobacco stuff                         Compressor                  

TOP BAG:

Toiletries kit/ charger            Water

Vans shoes                            Swim suit              

Tank Bag:

Registration                           Owner’s manual

Sunglasses                            maps, route sheets

Phone                                     Visor cleaner

Hearing aids                           Hat

Sunblock                               

About money.  I took $400 in cash on two four day rides this summer, and did not spend a penny on either one. The cashless society has arrived, but I like the security of just in case funds.

This trip would be challenging because of two random threats: The Covid virus, and forest fires.  The original plan was to ride into Canada and repeat a fantastic trip from two years ago, but entry across the border appeared iffy at best, and I changed the entire route to stay in Washington state two days before we left.  That proved prescient, as Canada shut the gates again the morning we left.

What we usually do is romp over the North Cascades Highway to Twisp, which is highly recommended, but the late-breaking news of fires and smoke and long lines of traffic behind a pilot car in sketchy areas caused us to change course the morning of the ride.  We took the easier route of Highway 2 to Leavenworth and on to Cashmere for a fine pulled pork sandwich lunch, and then up 97 and Alt 97 all the way to the Camaray motel in Oroville, where we have stayed often.

On the road the Rocket is mostly humming along, barely delving at all into its prodigious abilities.  Yes, there is some wind noise and wind pressure, but I prefer that to huge windshields.  The price for this can be bicep fatigue at the end of the day, but not much. Increased weights and reps at my local YMCA workouts have now removed even that.

The seat is comfy all day, although I am not sure why.  I do not even bother with padded riding shorts these days.  Because of the forward pegs, standing up for periods, as I have done for years, is not really practical, but just scrunching around from time to time seems to help. 

Again, I think the thrice a week workout at the YMCA help.  My little opinion, supported by almost no evidence, is that a lot of seat discomfort on many motorcycles can be alleviated or eliminated by getting the seat of the rider, not the motorcycle, toned up.

One trait of the Rocket 3 is of note.  You may find yourself on a winding back road out away from everything on a beautiful day, the ride marred only by someone in a 40-foot-long mega-motorcoach trolling along as fast as he or she can go, which is not very.  When an opportunity to pass appears, you do not want to waste it, and you also want to make room for your buddy or buddies behind you to pass as well, so you shift down to 5th and give the beast its head.  When you get to 90mph or so, still accelerating at an exciting pace, you may find that the wind wants to blow your boots off the pegs.

Clamping your legs firmly against the tank before you hit the launch button will help this.

After dinner, we pondered our Saturday ride. There was surprisingly little intel on the state of the forest fires. The original plan was to head East on wonderful winding roads to Molson, Chesaw, and on to Curlew, before heading South to our destination in the small town of Wilbur. We asked everyone who might know, and the consensus (which proved to be incorrect) was that the road to Chesaw was OK, but nobody knew if we could get to Curlew.

Reluctantly, I changed the route. Good news, South and Southeast would get us away from the fires, and would include a road I had never ridden. Bad news – it would be a very short day – only 130 miles.

South to Omak and then Southeast on 155, and what a great road!  However, we came across a big neon pink fabric sign that warned of fire activity ahead. And then one that warned of fire crews ahead, and then one warning of fire equipment entering the road. Several of each of these, but by the time we reached Nespelem we had seen none of any of the sights we had been warned of.  A quick break at a tiny store in Nespelem, and the nice woman explained the several signs of flash flooding we had also seen.  The land had been so dry for so long that when rain came the water would not sink in but run rampant. But it had not rained. Yet.

From Nespelem East there is a little road you have to know where to find, and it romps up and over the hills to reach 27, and that takes you South to the Keller ferry and on to Wilbur.

Once across the Keller ferry we paused at a park, since we had all day to go not very far.  As we left, it began to ran. First a little, and then a lot. The road rises out of Keller into a series of steep switchback corners that are marked at 15 mph.  A Rocket 3 is not fond of 15 mile an hour corners, or to be fair – I am not.  This is really true when there are actual WAVES of water cascading across the apex.  Fortunately, no traffic, so I just let the Rocket meander to the left-hand lane on right corners.

Of course, we got to the motel in Wilbur before the room was ready, so we ate at the “famous” Billy Burger next door, and then spent a very lazy afternoon.


For Sunday, I determined, based on almost no data, that the intended route for Saturday would be doable in the opposite direction.  A slight yaw to the left to stop at the always impressive Grand Coulee Dam, and then North to Nespelem and East on the same road we had enjoyed the previous day, and North to Republic. North of Republic I really wanted Pat to experience a fantastic car and saw mill museum. Alas, it was closed, and I think permanently.

We paused at the Ranold MacDonald Memorial and no, not Ronald. Ranold was a man who lived a life that was so exciting and important that he crammed about 140 years of adventures and accomplishments into the three score and ten years he was allotted.  It will make you wonder what you have done lately.

The Rocket was in its element, rolling along in the sun and riding waves of torque, with ample acceleration on demand and amazing brakes when needed, such as when we would come across deer, or cows, or whatever.

We stopped at Molson, my favorite almost ghost town.  The sign says 36 residents, but the lady in the excellent museum told me they have nowhere near that many.

Back to Oroville and the Camaray Motel, to prepare for the run to home on Monday.

Looked to me like we could do the reverse of the planned Friday route and make it across the North Cascades Highway.  Since we were going home and had already stopped at every scenic vista on previous trips, we pretty much just rode. Three hundred miles with two stops. I told you the seat was comfy.

Ironically, I found out later that my route choices were perfect.  We were never delayed by fires and rarely smelled smoke, although we did see lots of damage from this year and years past.  It turns out that the routes I picked worked on the day selected, and none of them would have worked on any of the other days.

Better lucky than good.

If you like these missives, send me a note at dapreston1947@gmail.com.  Also, www.davidpreston.biz has years of other reports and meanderings on all sorts of topics, some of them not about motorcycles!  Oh, and links to m books available from Amazon.

Ride safe, ride fast, and ride often!

Copyright 2021                              David Preston

Posted in Motorcycles | Leave a comment

The New and Improved August 20-23rd Ride!

4 Day Motorcycle Ride: August 20-23, 2021

Friday, August 20th:

7:00am – Brekkie at the Crystal Creek Café. (optional)

8:15ish – on the road

  1. I-405 to Smokey Point rest area                               38 miles
  2. RIGHT on SR 530 to SR 20                                        47 miles
  3. RIGHT to Marblemount  (fuel)                                  8 miles
  4. SR 20 to Winthrop with two rest stops
  5. SR 20 to Twisp  (lunch, fuel)                                    95 miles
  6. EAST on 20, LEFT in a few miles to Tonasket      85 miles
  7. NORTH on 97 to Oroville                                           22 miles 

285 miles

Camaray Motel   $79

1320 Main St.  Oroville

1 (509) 476-3684

frontdesk@camaraymotel.com 

Saturday, August 21st

  1. 7:00am  Breakfast and fuel in Oroville
  2. EAST  and NORTH to Molson
  3. Reverse SOUTH and EAST to Curlew           75 miles
  4. EAST to SOUTH (right) n 395                         45 miles
  5. Right (SOUTH on 395 to 20 (fuel)                   30 miles                      
  6. RIGHT (WEST) on 20                                        5 miles
  7. SOUTH on ? to Inchelium                               25 miles
  8. Right (WEST) to 21                                           30 miles
  9. LEFT (South) on 21 to Wilbur                         30 miles

                                      VERY approximate 250 miles

                   Eight Bar B Motel 718 Main Ave

                   Wilbur   (509) 647 2400                 $82

Sunday, August 23rd

  1. 7:00am – breakfast in Wilbur
  2. WEST on 2 to Coulee City
  3. NORTH on 155 to Grand Coulee
  4. NORTH on 155 to Nespelem
  5. RIGHT on ? to 21
  6. LEFT and NORTH on 21 to Republic
  7. NORTH on 21 to Curlew
  8. WEST from Curlew – various routes
  9. NORTH on 97 to Oroville

240- 280 miles – maybe

Camary Motel                       $79

1320 Main St.  Oroville

1 (509) 476-3684

frontdesk@camaraymotel.com 

Monday, August 23rd

  1. Repeat Friday in reverse

Notice: daily distances are intentionally kept short to

encourage lots of stops for scenery and chatting and

pictures, etc.

Copyright 2021                                        David Preston

Posted in Motorcycles | Leave a comment

The Best Four Day Ride Ever in my experience

4 Day Motorcycle Ride: August 20-23, 2021

Please note:

  1. You need a valid passport and proof of Covid vaccination to enter Canada.
  2. You will also (at this time) need to get a PCR test within 72 hours of the 20th.
  3. What is listed below is what I intend to do. Some like to get up later in the morning, or use an alternate route, or camp out instead of a motel, etc. All other ideas are fine, but I will stick to my own plan and if others want to ride with me that would be fine.  Other choices are also fine.
  4. If you want in, you need to act now.  Motels in Nakusp seem to be almost full.

Friday, August 20th:

7:00am – Brekkie at the Crystal Creek Café. (optional)

8:15ish – on the road

  1. I-405 to Smokey Point rest area                               38 miles
  2. RIGHT on SR 530 to SR 20                                        47 miles
  3. RIGHT to Marblemount  (fuel)                                  8 miles
  4. SR 20 to Winthrop with two rest stops
  5. SR 20 to Twisp  (lunch, fuel)                                    95 miles
  6. EAST on 20, LEFT in a few miles to Tonasket      85 miles
  7. NORTH on 97 to Oroville                                           22 miles 

285 miles

Camaray Motel   $79

1320 Main St.  Oroville

1 (509) 476-3684

frontdesk@camaraymotel.com 

Saturday, August 21st

  1. 7:00am  Breakfast and fuel on Oroville
  2. 8:15ish – NORTH to Canadian border                    10 miles
  3. To Osoyoos and RIGHT (EAST) on Canada 3                 40 miles
  4. LEFT (NORTH) on 33 to Kelowna (fuel)                  75 miles
  5. RIGHT on 97 to Vernon, RIGHT on 6 to Needles   78 miles
  6. Free Ferry
  7. NORTH to Nakusp                                                     20 miles

                   233 miles

                   Selkirk Inn                   $138

                   210 6th Avenue West, Nakusp

                   1 (250) 265 3666

Sunday, August 23rd

  1. 7:00am – breakfast in Nakusp
  2. 8:15ish – decision time – depending on weather
  3. EITHER repeat yesterday in reverse OR
  4. From the gas station north of the motel, RIGHT on 6
  5. 6 to 3 – RIGHT to Osoyoos
  6. Back to the border and on to Oroville

230 or fewer miles

Camary Motel                       $79

1320 Main St.  Oroville

1 (509) 476-3684

frontdesk@camaraymotel.com 

Monday, August 23rd

  1. Repeat Friday in reverse

Notice: daily distances are intentionally kept short to

encourage lots of stops for scenery and chatting and

pictures, etc.

Copyright 2021                                        David Preston

Posted in Motorcycles | Leave a comment

On the Road Again Ride 2021 Final – probably

On the Road Again #1   2021        July 23rd to July 26th

This one is more complicated than most, both in route and accommodations. Please read carefully, and then send me an e-mail at dapreston1947@gmail.com if you have questions, want to join in, or want to get a roomie for a night or two. If you want to go you will need to move rapidly, as motel rooms are going fast this summer.

Day #1 to LaPine.  8:30am start   Friday,  July 23r

1.      I-405 and I-90 past Issaquah to 18                                    48 miles

2.      18 over Tiger Mountain- exit to Issy-Hobart Road          15 miles

3.      LEFT – RIGHT- RIGHT to Enumclaw    (fuel)                   32 miles

4.      410 to Yakima                                                                      60 miles

5.      97 to Goldendale                           (lunch, fuel)                 80 miles

6.      97 to Shaniko    (rest break)                                              50 miles

7.      South from Shaniko to Alpine, RIGHT to 97                     19 miles   

8.      SOUTH to Redmond           (fuel)                                       25 miles

9.      97 to LaPine                          (fuel)                                      81 miles

Highlander Motel in LaPine                                       410 miles

51511 Highway 97   541-536-2131    $101.00

NOTE! The Highlander only have 9 rooms, and I love to stay there. Alas, I got the last room available, so you will need to find a room at another motel in LaPine (there are several) or in Bend. I may have a second bed available in my room or not – will know in a couple of days

Day #2  LaPine to Crater Lake to Florence    Saturday, 7/24

  1. SOUTH to  Diamond Lake Junction                         46 miles
  2. WEST on 138                                                                15 miles
  3. SOUTH (left) into Crater Lake Park                           23 miles
  4. WEST on 62 to 230                                                      17 miles
  5. NORTH (right) on 230 to Toketee Falls (fuel)           46 miles  
  6. WEST on 138 Idleyd Park                                            34 miles
  7. WEST to Roseburg                                                       25 miles
  8. NORTH on I-5 to Sutherlin                                           12 miles
  9. WEST on 138 to Elkton                          (fuel)            24 miles 

10.WEST on 38 to Reedsport                                           36 miles

11. NORTH on 101 to Florence                                        21 miles

                        Economy Inn Florence                                     299 miles

                        3829 Highway 101  541-997-7115    $154.70

Day #3                 Lakeside to Aberdeen         Sunday, 7/25

1. Florence to Astoria on 101 (fuel somewhere)             180 miles

2, Astoria to Raymond                                                          50 miles

3. Raymond to Aberdeen/Hoquiam                                    30 miles

Best Western Plus Aberdeen                        260 miles

701 E. Heron St   360-537-7460  

$178.00   ($150 deposit)

Note! Brian Hardy and brother Cam will be on this ride, and Cam owns a vacation home in Ocean Shores that sleeps 8 (!) that will be available.

Day #4                 Motel to Home            Monday, 7/26

1. 101 to Forks , Port Angeles, Hood Canal. Ferry home       

Posted in Motorcycles | Leave a comment

On the (motorcycle) road again – twice

Two motorcycle rides for this summer.  At last!

I’m planning for (at least) two different rides for this summer.  The first will take place July 23rd to 26th, and the second in early September.  The order will be determined by when Canada chooses to let us in again.

For the first one listed, I could use some help from other motorcyclists.  I would like some ideas of what to see and where to stop in Crater Lake National Park, and ideas for a reasonable and not very fancy motel in Aberdeen or Hoquiam.  Thank you in advance for your ideas sent to dapreston1947@gmail.com

On the Road Again #1   2021        July 23rd to July 26th

Day #1 to LaPine.  8:30am start   Friday,  July 23rd

1.      I-405 and I-5 to Portland (fuel) to South  I 205       200 miles

2.      I 205 South to LEFT (East) on 224                             15 miles

3.      224 to Eagle Creek to Estacada                                 20 miles

4.      224 becomes NFS 46 to Detroit  (fuel / lunch?)       83 miles

5.      SOUTH on 22                                                                56 miles

6.      LEFT at T to Sisters                                                     60 miles

7.      SOUTH to LaPine       (fuel)                                         62 miles

Highlander Motel  in LaPine                  495 miles

Day #2  LaPine to Crater Lake to Lakeside    Saturday, 7/24

  1. South Diamond Lake Junction                                 44 miles
  2. WEST on 138        (fuel?)                                             15 miles
  3. SOUTH (left) into Crater Lake Park                           23 miles
  4. WEST 62 to 230                                                            17 miles
  5. North (right) on 230 to Toketee Falls (fuel)              46 miles
  6. West on 138 Idleyd Park                                             34 miles
  7. West to Roseburg                                                        25 miles
  8. SOUTH on I-5 to Green                                                  5 miles
  9. WEST on 42 to Coos Bay   (fuel)                               74 miles

10.NORTH to Lakeside                                                     20 miles

                        Motel in Lakeside       310 miles

Day #3                 Lakeside to Aberdeen         Sunday, 7/25

1. Lakeside to Astoria on 101 (fuel somewhere)            210 miles

2, Astoria to Raymond                                                          50 miles

3. Raymond to Aberdeen/Hoquiam                                    30 miles

Motel in Aberdeen or Hoquiam             290 miles           

Day #4                 Motel to Home            Monday, 7/26

  1. To Forks                                                             110 miles
  2. To Port Angeles                                                55 miles
  3. Port Angeles to Hood Canal                           60 miles
  4. Hood Canal to ferry                                          20 miles
  5. Home                                               260 miles or so

OR…

The Best 4 Day Motorcycle Ride July 23rd-26th

Friday breakfast.

  1. I-405 to Smokey Point Rest Area and then north
  2. RIGHT on SR 530 and on to Darrington
  3. North to SR 20, and East 12 miles to Marblemount.  Fuel
  4. Highway 20 to Twisp (lunch, fuel)
  5. East again on Highway 20, left a few miles out of town.  20 to the Camaray Motel in Oroville.

Saturday

  1. Fuel then North to the border
  2. East on Canada 3 in Osoyoos
  3. LEFT on 33 in about 50 miles
  4. 33 to Kelowna – fuel and lunch?
  5. Through Kelowna to RIGHT on 97
  6. A few miles to RIGHT on 6 at Vernon
  7. Free ferry to Naksup – Canyon Court Motel

Sunday

  1. From the gas station North of the motel, right on 6
  2. 6 to 3 – then RIGHT back to Osoyoos
  3. Back to the US, and the Camaray Motel    fuel

Monday

  1. Repeat Friday in reverse

Copyright 2021                                      David Preston

Posted in Motorcycles | Leave a comment

The Triumph of the…Passenger

The Triumph of the… Passenger

Do you enjoy giving a passenger a ride on your Triumph? It has always surprised me how few riders do. After all, that was how my own motorcycle story began, with a very carefully done passenger experience crafted by a friend of my older brother’s.

I grew attracted to the idea of a passenger from the moment I purchased my first motorcycle in 1967.  To a young man looking for a girlfriend, this seemed to be a fine idea.  What better way to start a relationship than with the woman’s arms around you?

The girlfriend in college was a frequent passenger.  Almost married her, and thank my lucky stars she broke our wedding engagement. Sometimes what seems tragic is actually an unrealized gift.

Out of college and starting my teaching career, I often carried a spare helmet with me, just in case.  It took two years, but it worked…sort of.

Years later I wrote Motorcycle 101, (now Motorcycle 201 and available from Amazon has a paperback or e-book – gratuitous plug). I included a chapter on how to give someone a ride on your motorcycle. I was astonished when a good friend who was an MSF instructor and one of the most skilled riders I’ve ever witnessed told me she really enjoyed that chapter, as she had never had the nerve to offer a ride to anyone.

In 2007 or so I had a call at Cycle Barn from a Seattle Times reporter. She wanted to do an article on the rising trend of women riding motorcycles.  She had never been on a motorcycle.

I had just the thing for her: a ride put on by our Harley-Davidson HOG chapter being organized and led by women. Perfect.

For the occasion I procured one of our Harley rental bikes. They all had backrests installed, which is nice for those on their first ride.  I also got her outfitted with helmet and jacket and gloves, and she had remembered to wear sturdy boots.

At the rider’s meeting I introduced her to the twenty or thirty HOG members, several of them passengers, explained why she was there, and asked if anyone wanted to have the reporter as a passenger. Since she was attractive and single, I thought one of the men might leap at the idea, but most of them were older and married, so nobody did, which was not too surprising. So – up to me then.

I followed my own advice from my book and spent time explaining how a motorcycle operates, how the controls work, and how a motorcycle turns by leaning. She should lean as much as I do.  And a few more tidbits.

I made sure the passenger pegs were down, unzipped the side pockets of my jacket if she wanted to use them for her hands, and made sure her helmet fit and was all snugged up.  Then I got on and braced my feet firmly on the ground and had her climb aboard.  So far, so good.

Then… I made a couple of mistakes.

I forgot that all HOG rides start with a single file line of bikes in the parking lot.  Engines running and maybe being revved. A lot. Most of them with aftermarket exhausts.  The result is music to a motorcyclist, and incipient terror for the reporter.

We left the parking lot, and at the first stop sign a woman rolled up next to us dressed all in black, with an open face helmet and one of those death-skull masks.  I explained that this was Jane, one of our service department techs.  At the second stop a chopper rolled up next to us and I explained that this was Shirley, and she had built the bike herself.  I figured this would be great for her article.


Alas, the cumulative effect of all this was that the woman was terrified.  As the roads opened up and the speeds increased (although HOG rides were never very fast in my experience), I noticed that my passenger had her arms clenched around my middle in silent desperation and legs clamped against mine in a death grip.

I became concerned that the next thing that would happen would be muscle cramps.  Nobody but a pro wrestler could keep up that grip for long.  Fortunately, she eventually realized it was all okey.  I could feel her legs and arms release back down to normal, and she really enjoyed the rest of the day.

The result was a fine article in the Times with several interviews and pictures of the women, references to HOG and Cycle Barn, and almost no mention of me – as intended.  Job done.

All of this came back to me last weekend on a six-hour motorcycle day with the lovely Nancy behind me on my 2020 Triumph Rocket 3.  I realized that although I had given many people rides and written about how to do it, I had not spent enough time appreciating what a great passenger goes through on a ride.

Our ride was almost five hours of riding, with a break for lunch and one fuel stop.  For that five hours Nancy was perched on the rather small Rocket 3 passenger seat, with the small back rest in the low position, because I had not thought to raise it.  Fortunately, Nancy is runway-model slim, and claims she was perfectly comfy. Another advantage is that decades ago in an earlier chapter of her life she had ridden her own motorcycle to work for a couple of years, so she knows a lot about motorcycles.  She may ride her own motorcycle again in the future…

But, on the other hand, and is this true of your passenger?  Nancy had never been on the roads I used on this 200-mile day.  She did not know where we were or where we were going. She did not know where the next stop for food or bathroom would be.  I don’t have helmet to helmet communication because I don’t like it, so all she had was basic signals.  One poke in my side means she would like me to stop at some point, two means she would like me to stop soon, and three means she needs me to stop immediately.

Occasionally I would pat her knee, and a responding hug meant she was fine. That is it for communication, and seems to be all we need.

On the more “interesting” sections of road, she could peer over my shoulder at an approaching corner and had to trust I was paying attention, would brake appropriately, and would be able to respond to frost heaves, sand, a rogue dog – whatever.

At the end of the day, she said she’d had a wonderful time and can’t wait to do it again.

I realized that my response would be far different if our roles were reversed.

Adding a passenger can add a lot to your motorcycle adventure, if you have the right passenger.  But do spare a thought to what they experience.   You owe them.

Ride safe, ride fast, and ride often… with a passenger.

Copyright 2021                              David Preston

Links to all nine of my books are on www.davidpreston.biz on the right side of the page, although you may not be able to see them if using a phone.

Posted in Equipment, Marketing, Motorcycles | Leave a comment

Triumph’s Steve McQueen Scrambler…ugh!

Fair warning!  What follows is a rant, but a well-reasoned one. …I hope.

Triumph has announced a “Steve McQueen Special Edition Scrambler 1200X” and it is a management and marketing error of epic proportions.  Just when I thought Harley-Davidson had cornered the market on corporate bungles, along comes Triumph with an attempt to tarnish their own image, and the effort will succeed.

The bike in question is the 1200X scrambler, which is the scrambler model that comes equipped and prepared to go on dirt roads and rugged terrain. It is a very capable machine.  The SMSES is what my first boss in the motorcycle business called a “BNG,” a model that features “bold new graphics” when the manufacturer does not have the gusto or ability to improve last year’s model.

In this case, what you get for (considerably) more money is all of the available options, special paint (green), and a high mounted front fender.

Oh, but there’s more!  On the steering head, an engraved plaque of Steve McQueen’s signature!  Oh boy!  And on the title will appear the signatures of Nick Bloor, Triumph CEO, and Chad McQueen, son of Steve.

There is so much wrong here.  First of all, the “scrambler” used for the famous jump in the movie The Great Escape was nowhere near a standard Triumph model, but one highly modified for the task of looking like a German army bike that can soar over a tall fence.  More importantly, although McQueen was a highly capable rider, raced successfully, and rode several motorcycles in the movie, he was not riding the bike for the famous jump.  That was Bud Ekins, and Triumph already did a quite lovely special edition with his name on it last year.

On the title will appear the name of Nick Bloor, CEO of Triumph.  It was John Bloor who rescued the Triumph brand from the dust and made a successful company out of it.  Nick Bloor is his son.  He is famous and noteworthy for… I don’t know what.  Chad McQueen is Steve’s son, and seems to have made a life career out of promoting his father’s legacy and selling off things he owned, or touched.  Chad may have done many other noteworthy things that I am not aware of.

So, we have a motorcycle that commemorates nothing that was ever sold by Triumph, extolling the fame of someone who did not ride it to glory, and endorsed by the sons of the CEO of Triumph and the son of the guy who did not ride it.  Am I missing something here?

Not that Triumph are alone in this. The Ford Mustang has been available in a “special edition” of one sort

or another for almost every year of its existence, sometimes several in the same year.  The CS (California Special), the Twister Edition, three (!) different versions of the “Bullitt” Mustang (at least McQueen did drive that one), and on and on. Corvette has celebrated every anniversary imaginable for decades.  Some of these models had improvements over the base model, such as the Bullitt cars, but most were paint and graphics packages to boost sales and create profit.

Nothing wrong with profit, but the ice is thin.  Remember in the 1990’s when Harley marketed their motorcycles to upwardly mobile types as the must have new thing.  I worked at a dealership where every weekend attorneys and bankers rode in wearing their “tough biker guy” regalia, with leather jackets and boots and do rags.  The ironed creases in their jeans gave them away, and I think the overall effect weakened Harley’s image.

In the early 2,000s BMW adventure bikes became the in thing (still are) and dealers sold all sorts of accessories to better prepare your BMW GS for that around the world trip hardly anyone would ever take. That gave birth to the “Starbucks Adventure Rider” label.

I do not want Triumph to become the next “cool guy” thing.  Think of all the famous movie stars and celebrities of all sorts who have had their picture taken on a Triumph. After all, everyone looks better on a Triumph.  Will we see the “Bob Dylan” Triumph (he did ride them), or the “Ann Margret” Special Edition (ditto), or any of another 100 or so?

I like Triumphs.  I’ve purchased seven of them in the past 14 years, so I do have “skin in the game.”  I’ve enjoyed a 2004 Sprint ST, a 2006 Speed Triple, a 2016 Bonneville T 120, a 2016 Thruxton 1200, a 2020 Rocket 3, (current), and a 2011 900 Thruxton I am about to trade for another new Bonneville T 120.  I have enjoyed them all for their looks and their essential honesty.  They have all performed as you would expect them too, with excellent design and reliability, and have been blissfully devoid of needless glitz and pomp.

I will be so disappointed if they try too hard to be “cool.”

Copyright 2021         David Preston

Posted in Marketing, Motorcycles, Rants and Raves | Leave a comment

The Saga of the Plants Named Bob

The Saga of the Plants Named Bob

I taught various English courses at Juanita High School from the fall of 1989 to the spring of 2000, when I retired from teaching to enter the exciting world of the motorcycle business.

Even with twenty years of teaching experience I was a first- year teacher at JHS, and thus was assigned a portable for my classroom. It took very little time to become convinced that my portable was a much better setting for teaching.  Every year after that I had the opportunity to move in to the main building, and every year I turned it down.

My portable had so many advantages! On nice days I could leave the door open.  When it was wet and/or cold I could control the heat, whereas the temperature in the main building could not be controlled by individuals and varied widely due to hundreds of students entering and leaving multiple access points thousands of times a day. The portable was quieter.  It was far enough away from the main office that administrators usually eschewed walking all that way to interrupt with something. My parking spot was right behind the portable, where I could keep tabs on my car or motorcycle.  That was handy when a side job called for me to drive a full-size Hummer to school. Too big for the parking space, so I merely drove over the curb and parked it on the grass.  If I needed to talk to a student, after class I had about 20 yards of walking to the building for a short chat. Perfect.

At some point I added a small plant to my desk.  I used “Bob” in all sorts of ways. I could use him for a prompt for a creative writing assignment or for ideas for my science fiction students – all kinds of uses. Every once in a while, Bob would pass over the chlorophyll bridge and be replaced. Bob I, Bob II, III, IV, etc.

Usually, by third period the coffee cup I had started the day with was almost empty and the contents cold, so I would empty the dregs into Bob’s pot. One day a student paused after class to say “You really have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”  This was not a comment I’d heard before, so I looked puzzled.  The student was in the JHS horticulture program, which was very well run and taught, and popular with students. He explained to his clueless teacher that caffeine is poisonous to most plants.

Oh.  After that I gave only water to Bob and did much better.

On nice days I would sometimes place Bob on the railing so he (or she) could enjoy the fresh air.

One fine spring Friday I put Bob outside and forgot about it when I left at the end of the day.  When I returned on Monday morning, I was dismayed that miscreants unknown had cruelly thrown Bob against the wall of the building, apparently several times, and all that remained were small shards of plastic plant pot, little bits of dirt, and green shreds of Bob.  Students in all of my classes were furious beyond imagination the someone had “murdered” Bob.

In the spring of 2000, I came up with a mostly good idea.  My classroom walls were extensively decorated, another asset to a classroom in a portable that was not used by other teachers. The decorations were mostly large posters of cars and motorcycles.  When students asked, I explained that they were there for my enjoyment, as students were supposed to be looking at me. Besides, most English classrooms were decorated with posters of white men who had died centuries ago – meh.  But I also had other posters and other things.

My mostly great idea was that on June 1st I would begin to give away all the décor items to students who wanted them, in the order of their grade average in my class.  The downside of this was that many students really liked the idea, to the extent that they now wanted any assignment or test graded immediately so they could discern their rank.  Since the assignments and tests were almost entirely essays, I had to up my grading game.

On June 1st, the student with the highest GPA was in fourth period, and to the shock of many, he did not select the 2 foot by 3-foot poster of a 427 Ford Cobra, which most had assumed would go first.  As the days went by the decor disappeared at a gradual rate. 

One day I was asked if the gift offer applied only to what was on the walls.  I had to think, but decided that anything that did not belong to the district or was my personal property would be fine.  In that fashion, Bob VIII went on to a new and no doubt exciting existence living in a sorority at USC!

This past Christmas, Nancy, the Lady of the Manor in Absentia, gifted me a “Whoville tree.”  Yesterday we planted it in my front yard, and of course I named the plant Bob IX.

Looks like Bob IX’s life will also be perilous.  This morning it appears that a rabbit nibbled on him during the night.  This evening I will cover him with a large inverted bucket to try and preserve his life. Here’s to Bob IX- live long and blossom!

Copyright 2021              David Preston

Posted in Education | Leave a comment