Monday, August 31, 2009

Maybe Monday's aren't so bad

Yup, this morning sucked, waking up to find out my good friend and club 1st Officer had a heart attack over the weekend. At least he's resting comfortably at home, he goes in in a week to get a stint put in and then another 2 weeks following. Thank God he wasn't riding his Wing when it happened! Hang in there Bro!!

But now for my big news of the day! I(actually, we, my wife and I)waited patiently close to the phone all weekend, waiting for the call. It never came, arrrrgh! A beautiful weekend of riding missed. Oh well, that's how things go. I forgot about the call today, work gets a little hectic at times. I was in the office on the phone dealing with tech questions from dealers, finished one of my calls and one of our ladies that works up front said I had another call. I'm thinking, great, another idiot that can't figure out how to wire the lights on a truck bed, but I was wrong, it was the call!! You see, my youngest son joined the Navy, 8 weeks ago he left for boot camp, we got one call from him and other than occasional letters we haven't heard much. I knew that last week was their finals, known as Battle Stations. The culmination of successfully completing Battle Stations is a ceremony where they are issued their uniform ball cap that says "Navy" on it. Until that point the hat said "Recruit", they were referred to as that for the entire time. That ceremony was the recognition of 8 weeks of hard work and learning to be a sailor. He called me at work, they had the ceremony today and he is officially a Sailor in the U.S. Navy!!! I am so proud of him! Words can't begin to express how proud I am. My son chose to do what I feel is one of the most honorable things that anyone can do, serve his country. I served(8 years, Army) my grandfather served(WWII, Army, POW) and many of my other relatives have served as well. I'm very proud that he chose to continue the tradition, it was never forced upon him nor suggested to him, he chose his path himself and we supported it, not an easy thing considering how things are currently. He graduates this Thursday and we're going! Wednesday morning we're off to Chicago(Great Lakes Training Center) to watch him graduate and spend some time with him before he ships to his A-school. Congrats Jayson!! We love you and are very proud of you!!

Mondays aren't so bad after all!

Monday's Suck!

I've never mentioned it here before, but Monday's suck. Almost always, without fail, Monday's suck. Today is no different. As I sit here having my coffee, I'm also checking various forums for news, the 1st one I check is the forum for the riding club I'm a member of, Southern Cruisers Riding Club, Chapter 314, Rolling Hills. Turns out that over the weekend our new 1st Officer had a heart attack! Don't know alot yet, but he's doing as well as can be expected, resting at home and has to go back in for surgery. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Trying something new

Well now, this is something different for me, a blog, lol! What can you expect here? Everything, anything, or nothing, all of the above. Mostly motorcycles, I love riding, it's the closest one can get to soaring with eagles. Very few things in this world can equal the feeling of the open road, the wind, the elements, and everything else that goes with riding. I guess you could call it my therapy as well, nothing clears away stress and gives relief from daily issues like a ride.

Why Blue Collar Rides? Because that's what it is for me. You won't find any globe trotting expeditions here(although I would love to have that opportunity), I probably won't be able to afford that in this lifetime, lol! What you will find will be more of my personal log of my rides and my life, you see, I'm about as blue collar as it gets. I've worked in manufacturing(welding)for about 18 years, started at the bottom as a production welder when I got out of the Army in '92 and have worked my way up to being the shop foreman/safety officer/robotics tech for the company I work for now. Sounds fancy, lol! Alot fancier than it really is, everything is self taught, no degrees(one of my few regrets), the pay isn't great, but we manage. My wife also works for the same company in quality control. Working for the same company has it's advantages, we ride to work together so we save alot on gas. Along with good comes the not so good, I'm her supervisor as well, sometimes that can lead to some interesting moments. Fortunately she is very professional and a perfectionist, so that makes my job easier.

I got my first bike in 1975, a Yamaha GT80 enduro, being 9 years old I was in heaven! I grew up on a farm in Iowa so I had all kinds of open space to ride and fantasize that I was the next motocross champion, lol! For the next 5 years I beat the crap out that bike and it never let me down. By 1980 it had become way too small for me and it was time to move up. Convincing Mom was the hard part, she never has liked bikes that much, Dad on the other hand was much easier, he saw value in it as a tool. He raised cattle and a bike was very handy moving cattle from one pasture to the next(sometimes several miles)and it made the daily task of checking the cattle much easier. Since he would be using it too he agreed to pay half and I would have to pay the other half off by working for $1 an hour on the farm. Worked for me! Later that summer I had a Kawasaki KD125. I rode it hard for the next 2 years until I managed to blow it up. This time Mom won, no more least while I lived at home. 2 years later right after my 18th birthday I joined the Army, very eager to get away from the farm and from Iowa. My 1st duty assignment was Ft. Bliss Tx. As soon as I got there, Jan 1st '85, I realized that I could ride year round there and went to a local Kawi dealer and picked up a new-leftover '83 LTD 550. My 1st street bike! I rode that thing everywhere for the next 2.5 years until the Army decided I needed to be in Korea. I sold it not knowing what the future had in store and set out on my next adventure. After arriving in Korea I spent alot of time exploring that beautiful country and eventually met my wife there. While we were dating we were walking around the town close to the base I was stationed on and happened upon a Suzuki dealer. I couldn't resist, we had to go in and have a look. My Korean was spotty at best then but with my wife translating and haggling we left with a decent used Suzuki 125 enduro, let the adventure begin! We traveled all over Korea on that thing. In '90 the Army decided I needed to go to Ft. Riley, Ks. Here we go again, sell the bike and pack our stuff. We got to Ft. Riley, got settled in and what's the 1st thing I do? Buy a bike of course! I picked up a used Ninja 600 from a fellow soldier. What a fun bike! I'd never ridden anything that handled like that, it was like it was glued to the road! After about a year of that I had the itch for something bigger, so I sold it and picked up a GPZ900 Ninja. OMFG!! That thing was a monster! That thing was like a rocket on rails, the handling was amazing and the power and speed were mind-blowing(well for that time anyway, lol!) That bike carried me the fastest I've ever been on 2 wheels, 155 mph, yeah, yeah, I know, not smart, but I had to see what it would do. I never found out. I hit 155, with room to go, the reality of that hit and I backed off the throttle. It was probably the most intense rush I've ever had. In '92 I was on my way to work, on the bike, in the dark. Now for those not familiar with rural Kansas, we have forest rats(deer) everywhere and one must always be vigilant, particularly around dawn and dusk. I was about 15 miles into my 30 mile commute on a country highway at the speed limit when all I saw was eyes, everywhere, at shoulder level, damn forest rats! I rode right through a herd of them crossing the highway! How I manged that I'll never know, but my guardian angel was definitely watching over me! That entire day that incident was all I could think about. My wife and I had been married for only 5 years, we had 2 young sons, 3 and 1, the thought of not being there for them haunted me. The next day I did what I felt was the right thing for me to do at that time, I sold the bike with no intention of riding for a very long time. I wanted to concentrate on my family and raising my sons and that's what I did. Do I regret it? Not one bit. Fast forward to '05. My oldest son wanted a bike in the worst way, I was pretty easy to convince, he had to buy it himself and pay his own insurance. My wife on the other hand was not as easy, she liked to ride with me, but she also saw me busted up a couple times so she didn't want to see that happen to her son. When he agreed to ATGATT, she relented and let him get his bike. He found an old beat up Yamaha 400 street bike. I went with him to pick it up and since he had never ridden before I agreed to ride it home. That was the beginning of the end of my bikeless days, lol! In '07 he upgraded to a Ninja 500, that fall when he went to college I rode it a few times and everything about riding came rushing back, I knew I would have a bike. Now to convince my wife. She finally gave in with one condition, no sport bikes. I had to think about that one a bit, I love sport bikes, the speed, the handling, everything about them. But what I wanted more than anything was spend time riding with my wife. When we used to have bikes, she loved to ride as much as I did and if she was willing now, I wanted her to enjoy it as much as I do. She wanted to be able to sit back and enjoy the ride, travel a bit, and just ride, so we started looking at cruisers. Harley's were out, not because I don't like them, I do like some of them, specifically the V-Rod, Fatbob, and Rocker, but they cost too damn much! Because I had such good luck in the past with Kawi's, we went to a local Kawi dealer and in May of '08 settled on a Vulcan 900 Classic. After adding a backrest and a gell seat it was a very comfy bike. We spent the next 3 months putting 6000 miles on it. It's a great bike, but as usual for me I wanted something a bit bigger(yeah, I'm a bit of a gear head,lol!)My oldest son wanted a bigger bike and my youngest son wanted to get into bikes so we did some re-arranging. My oldest was riding a '82 Honda V45 Sabre at the time so he sold that to his brother, I let my oldest take over payments on my 900, and I went and got the bike I had been drooling over for the last year, an '07 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 MeanStreak. By the summer of '08 we were all on bikes and we put on alot of miles together, priceless memories! Things change, my youngest, being a senior in high school then, lost some interest in riding and wanted to spend more time doing what high school boys do, socialize and girlfriends, lol! After a disastrous 1st year at college, my oldest moved back home and was working for me at the factory. After almost a year of that he decided that welding was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life(thank God!!) and went back to school. Along with going back to college came the realization that bike payments were something he couldn't afford so I got my 900 back. I didn't really want another payment, but there was no way I would get what I owed on it so I have 2 bikes, lol! It makes things a bit tighter, but we'll manage. The big plus for me is that my oldest still likes to ride so we can still ride together.

The bikes-
My 1st bike after a 16 year break, an '07 Vulcan 900 Classic.
The day I brought it home-

Since then I have modified it into a solo cruiser for those occasions when my wife doesn't want to ride-

My main ride, an '07 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 MeanStreak-
The day I brought it home-

Now I'm not one to leave things stock for long, lol!

I've added-
CWI adjustable backrest
Kury ISO grips w/stiletto's
ForceWinder Intake
Wicked Bros 2-1 pipes
Dobeck TFI

Well, if you manged to hang in there and read this far, thank you! Now you have a little background about me. Who knows when I'll write next or what it'll be about. It's a wonderful day here, I think we're going to ride!

Keep the shiny side up!