Can you see how I've changed as a result of meeting three Canadian moto-bloggers at the beginning of August? (Answer at the bottom of the page)
Meeting people whose skills and experience stretch far beyond my own is always a pleasure and I mark my good fortune at having the opportunity to talk with them. I've met a handful of moto-bloggers since Scooter in the Sticks was born in 2005 and the lessons learned continue to inform what I do today.
In March of 2011 I had the opportunity to meet Dom Chang (Charlie6), author of Redleg's Rides, while at a conference in Denver, Colorado. I came away from that encounter with a better understanding of what commitment meant, drive, focus, passion and dogged persistence in the riding world can mean. When I find myself stuck, unmotivated or generally floundering I'll often say to myself, "What would Dom do?". No small gift from a moto-blogger.
And one other example -- meeting Jack Riepe, author of Twisted Roads by Jack Riepe, at the BMW International Rally in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Riepe (officially pronounced "reep -- eeee") was presenting conducting a writing workshop at the event for less competent, capable or inventive moto-bloggers which pretty much means anyone currently writing in that genre. I left the event knowing how far my writing exists from real storytelling. Always good for me to get a clear picture of where I sit. And since that time I've come to call Mr. Riepe a friend.
So on to the arrival of David Masse from Montreal, author of Life on Two Wheels, the Scoot Commute; Bob Leong (aka bobskoot) from Vancouver, author of Riding the Wet Coast; and Karen (aka V Star Lady) from Ontario, author of Motorcycle Touring - Riding on my V Star.
The pink Crocs on the sidewalk next to a BMW motorcycle are a dead giveaway to the presence of bobskoot. Those shoes thread through many pictures on his blog and represent a sort of emblematic representation of him for me.
The three converged on State College, Pennsylvania to meet me and I had hoped to show them some of the more exotic riding routes that a rider wouldn't find without some assistance. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances meant I was only able to spend a few hours with them over the two days they were in town.
Breakfast at the Corner Room in State College. Bob, Paul, David and Karen posed for a quick portrait before I had to leave town. Thankfully Paul Ruby was able to serve as host and show them around the area. Bob and David had appointments with Kissell Motorsports to have some things serviced on their machines so the days were full.
But on to the lessons learned from these three riders.
Let's start with David who is standing here with his Vespa at the KOA Campground in Bellefonte.
He probably doesn't realize how strongly his attitude towards safety and care of his Vespa affected me. When I rode out to visit with them before they departed for Maine my focus on the mechanical state of the Vespa and personal protection in terms of gear was in a state of flux. Looking at the improvements and upgrades to lighting, horn, and other aspects of the scooter along with his steady commitment to riding with all the protective gear in place (ATGATT) affected me strongly. Since then I have returned to riding with ALL the gear AND I have had all the outstanding service completed on my scooter, actually washed the Vespa, and have been investigating some of the safety upgrades he has implemented.
Thank you David for the example you've set.
I didn't really know Karen but she mirrored David's commitment to safety and the machine and it was obvious she paid careful attention to detail. Here she is checking tire pressure utilizing a little battery powered air pump that bobskoot developed. I chuckled at the time but his focus on gadgets influenced me to spend some money.
Bob showed me some incredible photographic tools that would make my photographic life on the road simpler -- namely a useful, carbon fiber tripod and a wireless shutter release device that will open a new realm of possible photos. I'll post in the future more specific information about these items but suffice to say that I learned a lot from Bob in the short time we spent together.
All three riders are serious and pile up miles. Bob has just returned home to Vancouver after looping through North America from Pacific to Atlantic and back. You can see his route on SpotWalla to get a better idea of the epic ride he made.
I want to say thank you to Bob, David and Karen for sharing their experience and wish there would have been more time available so we could have taken a ride through some of the beautiful landscape of central Pennsylvania.
ANSWER: I'm wearing armored pants again. Rather than letting the summer heat force my only pair -- ones designed for winter riding -- off, I purchased a vented pair for summer. And the self portrait was made with the camera on a nifty new carbon fiber portable tripod (no more searching for the perfect tree stump or fence post) and using a great wireless shutter release. Stay tuned for specific details on a future post.