The military requires anyone who rides a motorcycle to attend a rider safety course. I have been riding off and on for about 20 years, progressing from moped to crotch rocket. The military has had a problem with soldiers and sailors coming back from deployments to Iraq and Afganistan with extra cash, buying “high adrenalin” toys, and getting hurt. A link to the required courses can be found here. Needless to say, I had to attend and did not expect to get much out of it. It was actually very good. The instructor was a guy who lived and breathed motorcycles. He owned nine bikes and could speak intelligently about off-road, street and sport bike riding. While doing tight figure eights in a parking lot may not be the best indicator of how well one will do on the road, I don’t think a person could pass this course if they could not ride. It was fairly aggressive.
Another more pleasant part of the week was the arrival of my in-laws. I have had a great relationship with my in-laws from day one, with the exception of the day I asked Char’s dad for his permission to marry Char… He actually initially said NO! That is a funny story for another time. We celebrated Jan’s birthday and had a good time hanging out. Charles and I played wii baseball for a couple of hours. Charlie learned how to throw the fancy pitches and got his timing down. What a slugger. It was sad to see them go but we will be back down their way in a couple of months.
The last big thing was that one of the ships at the yard passed a major milestone, the ability for the new crew to operate main engines and generators. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and TRUXTUN’s crew had equal parts in the achievement. The company crafted the material condition of the engineering spaces to meet the needs of the crew and the crew operated the ship systems safely and in accordance with Navy procedure. Not an easy task when one considers that both teams essentially started from scratch.
OK, that’s what I hope to write at some point. I love motorcycles! One of my early memories was my dad putting me on the back of his lime green Honda 250 and riding me around the block when I was about 6 or so. I had a bike in high school (Kawasaki 305 LTD). That was back in the day of the Honda Rebel 250 and that 305 would eat a Rebels lunch. I sold the LTD just before coming into the military. Once at my first duty station, a guy with a Yamaha Radian (600 or 650) modified for racing got into a jam and needed to sell. I bought it with the idea I could buy low and turn it around for at least $500 profit. Honestly, I was scared of it. The cylinders were bored out, cams advanced 5 degrees, and a 4:1 pipe configuration. It was geared low to get off the line fast so getting from 0 – 100 was like being shot out of a rocket. Needless to say I fell in love with it and did not sell it until transferring to Japan. That metallic green Yamaha contributed to Char and I meeting and falling in love (Will save that for some other time). After Japan and more schooling we ended up in Hawaii where I bought a brand new Suzuki Katana 600R. I had just gotten a check for half of my reenlistment bonus which was over $6000 and enough to buy the Katana. It was beautiful and perfect for the island of Oahu. When we got back state side I sold it to a young guy who approached me and asked if I wanted to sell it. He offered more than a fair price so I said OK. When I sold it in 2000, I told Char that I purchased that with my bonus money and I expect to be able to purchase a reasonable bike in the future. Well, now I feel is that time. With gas prices what they are and me having to commute 80 miles a day it was time to do a little math, excel is my best friend. I did a little 5 minute cost comparison worksheet to determine how much I would realistically save per year if I rode a motor cycle 100 workdays each year (a little over one third of the time). I took into account the current price of gas, insurance, etc. The one assumption I had to make was which bike to use. I am getting older so a foreign cruiser seems to be the way to go. I chose a 2004 Honda 750 V-Twin Siverado and estimated a conservative 55 miles to the gallon. My current ride, Jeep Cherokee with a 4.0 L straight six, gets about 20 – 25 highway. Long story short, riding the motorcycle just 100 days out of the year saves us roughly $2,350 / year.
That’s my argument, but as you can imagine, some are not particularly excited by this, namely Char. She points out that only one person can drive it, its dangerous, we can’t put car seats on it, all of which I understand. To her credit, she has not been stomping around slamming doors or anything but been giving me her semi-biased point of view. Only those who ride motorcycles can understand the experience and freedom you feel. Its the fastest way to wind down from a hectic day. No news radio, no cell phone or texting, just a clutch, shifter, throttle and break with the wind in your face.