Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Winter Riding

Boy, has it been cold!

I keep thinking I want to stop and get a picture of the motorcycle in front of the snow & ice draped scenery, but it's COLD out and I find that I must HURRY to get home. While speeding is out of the question and one must proceed very slowly, stopping for a picture is a notion that... well, requires actually stopping in the cold and standing in it long enough to get a picture. Maybe if somebody will erect a warming hut in one of the pull-out parking lots in Rock Creek Park....

Riding along roads and streets edged with snow and ice, in sub-freezing temperatures does not seem like a very wise thing. Nevertheless, when I read that friends were gathering at a Hard Times Cafe in Reston, Virginia, and that some of them--women--I knew were further away than I was, I had to venture out. I knew that the streets would be fairly empty by that time in the evening. I promised myself that I would employ extreme caution; and I did.

The ride to Reston went well. I found the restaraunt despite it being beyond the memory of my Garmin V's meager 28-megabytes of memory. The chili at Hard Times Cafe is always good. Add to it a single beer followed by a couple hours of conversation with other BMW riders energized by the cold and I actually looked forward to the ride home.

Another rider, a retired Air Force veteran, lived a bit past me and we agreed to do the ride together. Ever cautious we slowed to actual recommended speed limits for corners. In low places where there might have been ice from collected water, I made sure we were going no faster than 35. It was hard as 35 seems pretty slow on a motorcycle, but I knew that I didn't want to impact the ground with my body going any faster. As time and time again we found good traction in the corners, I almost stopped feeling surprised.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cold on a Motorcycle

Cold on a Motorcycle

This was one of the best pieces of writing I've read in a long time. Of course, I read it after returning through a cold, 20-degree night from a gathering of the BMWBMW motorcycle club at Chili's in Reston, VA.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Two days of no riding...

...the good news is that I've rediscovered how great my Vasquez hiking boots are: light, nimble, and with a good grip on negligible surfaces.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Tech Day: Winter Weekend Riding

Must say that Todd getting me out of the apartment for a ride to the Tech Day started a whole weekend of pleasant events, beginning with the Tech Day itself. Many thanks for the hospitality, donuts, coffee, and CHILI!

Sunday I heard from an old motorcycling companion who knew he could rely on me for a day of riding. Okay, sometimes it's okay to ride Starbucks to Starbucks. Sunday night, following him up George Washington Parkway as the last of the day’s rays were fading to gray and all the colors darkening, it was just spectacular: Memorial Bridge in front of the lights of Kennedy Center and the silhouette of the National Cathedral behind it and the whole Potomac a sheet of gray with no apparent Ripples. The late fall foliage of Roosevelt Island and then the trees of the parkway as I eventually passed it... those deep burnt umber reds that we don't always see each fall. There are timeless moments of beauty in life that are their own rewards--moments we inherit simply because we had the complete dumb good fortune to be there when they happened--and this weekend they stood like bookends at the beginning and end of these two days.

Because of the expenses of the trip to Vegas for my father's funeral (you don't get the promotional rates even for bereavement if you have to book at the last minute), I had put off my 42K maintenance and had resigned to no riding for a while. I'm grateful for Todd not letting that stand. So what if I end up a couple thousand over on maintenance? The inertia of his natural enthusiasm for riding carried over and I was ready to ride Sunday morning when Walter's phone call woke me.

Seeing the BMWBMW club working to help each other made me grateful for the life that I've found, here among the cities of the East, however much the visit West made me yearn for a return. After the ride up GW Parkway, Walter led me to the Harp and Spoon, in Bethesda. Flanagan’s had to move and took up a new name with the move. We ordered a couple of cokes (Walter has always been a good influence in that respect) then Walter invited me to a tour of the kitchen where I found another old chum, who had fallen on hard times after being the personal chef for the owner of the Redskins (who I'm told did not take kindly to the wearing of a NY Giants ball cap), is now the chief chef. His potato and leek soup with truffles and pistachio nuts would have been a treat even if somebody else had cooked it, but to be able to enjoy his cooking was a major surprise. ...and then there was the band, a woman that I will be going back to listen to when I can stay until 2:00 A.M. All that to say that I think I've found a future RTE destination at the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Morning Ride

The motorcycle is out of the shop. It only needed a new front shock. All last week, I rode the Metro to work. It was a pleasant change as I got a bit more exercise walking to the metro station and I managed to get some reading done. I read "She's a Bad Motorcycle" and enjoyed the collection of short motorcycle stories by different authors.

This morning, I thought about riding the metro and not the bike. I would not have to put on the gear... but I would have to walk or spend money on the bus and then spend money on the metro....

As soon as I started the engine I was glad I had chosen to ride. The trip takes me down Rock Creek Park. As I entered the park, past the city golf course where an early-morning golfer was walking to the tea, I realized that I was getting a good dose of oxygen just traveling through the park.

"...much better than the air on the metro," I thought.

Then, as I was passing Kennedy Center the sun came up and it turned into a very golden morning--gold that nobody could catch and put on a shelf or in a bottle--gold that made me feel rich to be alive.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Heaven or Hell

Again, the fantasy finds me: The fantasy of having a job riding motorcycles all day and writing about it each night. Wouldn't it be a great column?

Depends on whether or not you like my writing, I suppose.

Then I wonder whether the only reason I haven't been granted that wish is because providence sees some greater purpose for my talents and that if I were to be given such a life of indolence if I wouldn't find myself very unhappy.

Is motorcycling only enjoyable as a tonic?

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Details are at

So embarrassing to go off the top of a corner on a group ride. Re-reading Proficient Motorcycling I'm thinking that my skills need to be sharpened further, but shock adjustments also played a role.

So, this week, I'm driving a friend's car to get to a class that is out in the hinterlands. Good thing the Garmin is small and portable. This morning, with fog and strange roads, I would have been lost. Worse, it was raining and one of the windshield wipers was shot. The Garmin got me to a Target where I could get a replacement blade for less than $5.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Garmin lesson

My love of my garmin GPS has grown over the last two years even though newer models have come out with more memory. The GPS V has a 28M limitation. This means that if I'm touring country side, I usually have to re-load maps at lunch, for the afternoon, then again after dinner in the evening, for the next day. It takes about half an hour.

That forces me to stop somewhere for a half an hour. Not a bad idea.

On long, fast freeway rides, the unit lets me program in a route. The book doesn't tell you, but the route includes information about points of interests--gas stations, restaurants, hotels--at each exit.

The maping software has a few shortcomings. People change roads faster than maps, sometimes. Today's lesson is to let Garmin plan a route, but to make sure that I accept the option of reviewing the route.
Had a bit of an accident:


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

WashPost article on MSF class


Friday, August 19, 2005

Motorcycle Wardriving

"Smith said that, like Foo Camp, Bar Camp requires everyone who shows up to present something. He expects to hear people talk about such topics as a motorcycle rigged for wardriving in such a way that when it discovers a Wi-Fi hotspot it posts anonymously to a Web site listing all the locations it finds. Smith himself may talk about his upbringing in the technology world. "

Great idea. Next I want a way to send pictures, naratives, and short video segments from a camera on my motorcycle helmet to a server. Then some image analysis software that will pull license numbers from the images and tag the files with them on the file server. Then I let you do the same. Then the insurance companies can monitor the license numbers and associated records of stupidity to see whose insurance needs to go up.

Next time somebody makes you mad doing something stupid and endangering your life, you don't have to get mad, you just press the shutter button and go on about your life knowing that "living well is the best revenge."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Iron Butt Ready

...saw Eddie Phelps at Bob's BMW, tonight. He was looking very relaxed.

"I thought you were already on your way to the rally," I commented. I was referring to the Iron Butt Rally 2005 in Denver.

"Won't leave for two more days. I'm ready. Just have to pick up a few last things," he said.

We probably chatted for half an hour. A couple of times I suggested that he probably needed to get his stuff and get going, but Eddie could teach us all about patience and "laid back." We talked about the Motorcycle Consumer News story citing him as a possible dark-horse winner. (By the time I had gotten to the BMWBMW ride-to-eat in Emmitsburg, last night, he was rumored to be one of the top three favorites). Eddie just laughed.

He told me about the web site that will be letting us track the Iron Butt Ralley 2005 participants, Star-traxx.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Motorcycle Safety Program

Sunday, our class graduated from instructor training. Now, we are probationary trainers and have to do three classes under supervision. Phil Sause, Chief Instructor of Maryland MVA did the training. It wasn't easy and meant some long days and nights, but it sure has been rewarding... especially as we saw students improve. One of our students, in the class we did together under instruction, had never operated a two-wheeled vehicle before. The smile on his face was the best reward.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Poem in Progress

A Poem in Progress
Yesterday, I put an American flag
on my motorcycle.
It's been a while since I've wanted
to think of myself as
an American.

Growing up, we boys all
looked forward
to becoming American heroes
bailing out of swing seats
pulling our ripcords
and floating to the ground.

Then Vietnam: Noble friends
with noble intentions--
freedom for others
fighting communism--
sent on deadly, fools' missions
by wealthy civilian leaders:
victims fashioned from their best intentions.

We learned that our leaders often,
like all of us,
come up short of answers;
yet, needing to lead, they
wrap their own ignorance
in the sacred fabric of
our flag begging our patriotism
(something that, each year, renews itself in every school yard
of every nation as predictably as teachers and bullies).

If this works for what turn out to be mistakes,
it works twice as well for lies since
few of us really want the job of holding the rich and powerful
who have come to rule us

And so, too often, our flag became the shroud over great consequence
a symbol of our denial
our willingness to be deceived
by talk show hosts--some who never served
or others who, when they did serve, betrayed the public trust
yet show no shame for criminal convictions.

They and their friends can be heard...
"Courts are full of activist judges accountable to none," they complain
not recognizing that the Constitution
they swore to uphold and defend
against all enemies
foreign AND domestic
calls for an independent and active judiciary.

Patriotism was used to hurt its believers
much like others used religion--faith in a loving creator--to teach hate.
Patriotism was used to blind us
while we were being robbed.
Thirty years after Vietnam
the same tricks still work.
Yet, I put the flag on my motorcycle.

At Daniel's, a bikers' bar and restaurant
on Highway One
between Baltimore and Washington
I ate breakfast with a bunch of
good old boys.

One taught journeyman classes
in air conditioning.
An engineer knows that a group of people
can't make something work just through their own consensus
if it isn't right.

Two others spoke of a possible job
ferrying cars at the airport.
"It would be better than sitting around doing nothing," one said.
A retirement check didn't eliminate their need to be useful,
and with a retirement check securing their future
such people will come to hold the spoiled rich accountable
--if retirement checks aren't eliminated by the rich.

Each man had a flag or patriotic statement
on some part of his clothing.
They might not be getting rich,
but they were leading good lives
and finding happiness in the company
of others like themselves.

I put the flag on before going riding
with a Canadian friend
who is concerned we Americans are
forgetting the virtue and value of
and with a former CIA asset
who is under federal indictment
after taking evidence to politicians
that pointed out that some Americans
paid to protect us, in the Agencies, were awake
and warning before we were attacked...
each time.

I put the flag on remembering teachers,
like my Mr. Rae and Mr. and Mrs. Reeves,
who teach young Americans
to think for themselves.
Remembering bosses who rewarded critical thinking.
And dreaming of a time to come
when we will value our critics,
when statues will be erected
of such citizens,
who dare speaking truth to power,
who execute God's mission, humbling the proud.

I put on the flag, remembering a country
wherein the bankers' children
go to the same school
with children of farmers.
A country where a Republican senator from Idaho
will still stop and chat for 50 minutes,
at a party, with the son of a former Democrat constituent,
of no current usefulness,
who now lives near the capitol.
They chat about those both knew, and
he shares good news of those who remain
there at home.

Idaho: a place where conservatives still
like to keep governance and theology
each in their own institutions...
Where people of both parties like the government
that governs the least
yet helps those most in need.

There is hope
if more critics
become senators
or just start waving flags.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Skipping the Beltway

Here's a way to skip the beltway from Wisconsin to New Hampshire. If you've found yourself inching along, and can't bring yourself to use the shoulder like others, You can get off and enjoy some fairly picturesque riding, howbeit you might not save any time. This occurred to me as I approached a backup and realized that I seldom see BMW riders stuck in such back-ups.

Coming over the American Legion Bridge, get right and take River Road. You could follow it into town and go cross-town at some point, but if you follow this path along the beltway once then you'll know the route if you need it at any point further, later.

So Here goes:

Time Mile Instruction For Toward
Summary: 17.5 miles (1 hour, 5 minutes)
9:00 AM 0.0 Depart I-495 Innerloop, Bethesda, MD 20817 on Local road(s) (South) 76 yds
9:00 AM 0.1 Keep RIGHT onto Ramp 0.2 mi MD-190 / River Road / Washington / Potomac
9:00 AM 0.3 Take Ramp (RIGHT) onto SR-190 [River Rd] 0.3 mi MD-190 / River Rd East / Washington
9:01 AM 0.6 Turn LEFT (North) onto Burdette Rd 0.4 mi
9:02 AM 1.0 At 8503 Burdette Rd, Bethesda, MD 20817, stay on Burdette Rd (North-East) 0.9 mi
9:05 AM 1.8 Turn RIGHT (South-East) onto SR-191 [Bradley Blvd] 0.3 mi
9:06 AM 2.2 Turn LEFT (North) onto Fernwood Rd 0.4 mi
9:07 AM 2.6 At 9341 Fernwood Rd, Bethesda, MD 20817, stay on Fernwood Rd (North) 0.9 mi
9:10 AM 3.5 Turn RIGHT (East) onto Democracy Blvd 0.2 mi
9:11 AM 3.7 Turn LEFT (North) onto Rockledge Dr, then immediately turn LEFT (West) onto Democracy Blvd 109 yds
9:11 AM 3.7 At Democracy Blvd, Bethesda, MD 20817, stay on Democracy Blvd (West) 0.1 mi
9:12 AM 3.9 Turn LEFT (South) onto Fernwood Rd, then immediately turn LEFT (East) onto Democracy Blvd 0.6 mi
9:15 AM 4.4 Turn RIGHT (South) onto SR-187 [Old Georgetown Rd] 0.2 mi
9:16 AM 4.6 Turn LEFT (North-East) onto Cheshire Dr 98 yds
9:16 AM 4.7 Turn RIGHT (South) onto Grosvenor Ln 0.8 mi
9:18 AM 5.5 At 5468 Grosvenor Ln, Bethesda, MD 20814, stay on Grosvenor Ln (East) 0.3 mi
9:19 AM 5.8 Turn LEFT (North) onto SR-355 [Rockville Pike] 0.9 mi
9:22 AM 6.6 Turn RIGHT (East) onto SR-547 [Strathmore Ave] 0.3 mi
9:23 AM 6.9 Turn LEFT (North) onto Stillwater Ave, then immediately turn LEFT (West) onto Strathmore Ave 87 yds
9:24 AM 7.0 At 5128 Strathmore Ave, Kensington, MD 20895, return East on Strathmore Ave 65 yds
9:24 AM 7.0 Turn RIGHT (South) onto Stillwater Ave, then immediately turn LEFT (East) onto SR-547 [Strathmore Ave] 0.7 mi
9:27 AM 7.7 Bear RIGHT (South-East) onto SR-547 [Knowles Ave] 0.1 mi
9:27 AM 7.9 At 4384 SR-547, Kensington, MD 20895, stay on SR-547 [Knowles Ave] (East) 153 yds
9:28 AM 7.9 Turn RIGHT (South-West) onto Beach Dr 131 yds
9:28 AM 8.0 At Beach Dr, Kensington, MD 20895, stay on Beach Dr (South-West) 0.2 mi
9:29 AM 8.2 At Beach Dr, Kensington, MD 20895, return North-East on Beach Dr 0.2 mi
9:29 AM 8.4 Turn RIGHT (South-East) onto SR-547 [Knowles Ave], then immediately turn RIGHT (South) onto Parkwood Dr 0.4 mi
9:31 AM 8.8 Turn RIGHT (North) onto Local road(s) 98 yds
9:31 AM 8.8 At Beach Dr, Kensington, MD 20895, return South on Local road(s) 98 yds
9:32 AM 8.9 Turn LEFT (East) onto Parkwood Dr 0.3 mi
9:33 AM 9.2 Turn LEFT (North-West) onto SR-547 [Knowles Ave], then immediately turn LEFT (South-West) onto Beach Dr 0.7 mi
9:35 AM 9.9 At Beach Dr, Kensington, MD 20895, stay on Beach Dr (West) 0.4 mi
9:37 AM 10.3 At Beach Dr, Bethesda, MD 20814, stay on Beach Dr (South) 0.8 mi
9:38 AM 11.1 At Beach Dr, Bethesda, MD 20814, stay on Beach Dr (East) 0.7 mi
9:40 AM 11.8 At Beach Dr, Kensington, MD 20895, stay on Beach Dr (East) 0.7 mi
9:42 AM 12.4 Turn LEFT (North) onto E Stanhope Rd 0.2 mi
9:44 AM 12.6 Bear RIGHT (East) onto (W) Bexhill Dr 0.1 mi
9:45 AM 12.8 Turn RIGHT (South) onto Raymoor Rd 0.2 mi
9:45 AM 12.9 Turn RIGHT (South) onto Local road(s) 142 yds
9:46 AM 13.0 At Beach Dr, Kensington, MD 20895, return North on Local road(s) 142 yds
9:46 AM 13.1 Turn RIGHT (East) onto Raymoor Rd 0.2 mi
9:47 AM 13.3 Turn RIGHT (North) onto E Bexhill Dr, then immediately turn RIGHT (East) onto Old Spring Rd 0.1 mi
9:49 AM 13.4 Turn LEFT (North) onto Beach Dr 0.2 mi
9:50 AM 13.7 Keep RIGHT onto Local road(s) 65 yds
9:50 AM 13.7 Bear RIGHT (South) onto Stoneybrook Dr, then immediately turn LEFT (North) onto Forsythe Ave 0.2 mi
9:52 AM 13.9 Turn LEFT (North) onto Newcastle Ave 0.1 mi
9:52 AM 14.0 At 2936 Newcastle Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910, stay on Newcastle Ave (East) 131 yds
9:53 AM 14.1 Bear LEFT (East) onto Woodley Ave, then immediately turn LEFT (North) onto Linden Ln 0.2 mi
9:54 AM 14.3 Road name changes to SR-192 [Forest Glen Rd] 10 yds
9:54 AM 14.3 At 30 Post Office Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910, stay on SR-192 [Forest Glen Rd] (East) 0.7 mi
9:57 AM 15.0 Road name changes to Forest Glen Rd 0.5 mi
9:59 AM 15.6 Keep RIGHT onto Local road(s) 65 yds
9:59 AM 15.6 Turn RIGHT (South) onto Sligo Creek Pky 0.3 mi
10:00 AM 16.0 At Sligo Creek Pkwy, Silver Spring, MD 20901, stay on Sligo Creek Pky (South-East) 0.6 mi
10:02 AM 16.6 Turn LEFT (North-East) onto US-29 [Colesville Rd] 0.1 mi
10:03 AM 16.7 Turn RIGHT (East) onto SR-516 [Franklin Ave] 0.6 mi
10:04 AM 17.2 Keep STRAIGHT onto SR-516 [E Franklin Ave] 0.2 mi
10:05 AM 17.5 Arrive 260 E Franklin Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20901

Driving distance: 17.5 miles
Trip duration: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Driving time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Cost: $1.38

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Smart trip routing

You'll be glad if your GPS is better than this service that Ed Lomas, a friend from 6th grade, sent me.


Quality Mapping of the Day

1. Go to http://mappoint.msn.com/DirectionsFind.aspx

2. In the Start section, select "Norway" from the listbox and enter
"Haugesund" into the "City" field

3. In the End section, select "Norway" from the listbox and enter
"Trondheim" into the "City" field

4. Click on "Get Directions" ...

5. Laugh, Snicker (Delete as appropriate)

6. Back up. Try "shortest". Try "reverse".

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Benefit of a Short Hop

If you read any of my stories about the West Coast Road Trip, you'll see what a time I had using a GPS instead of map. It was definitely a love-hate relationship for a while. Nevertheless, once you have a GPS, you won't want to part with it or go anywhere without it.

With time, you also learn how to use your GPS with more skill.

Still, one of the weak links in the Garmin GPS is it's power cord. More than one has had to be replaced due to the connector coming apart. It is designed to hold a fuse. Part of it can be unscrewed so that the fuse can be replaced. Along with the fuse, inside the connector, is a small spring that holds the fuse against a plunger that pokes out of the connector and makes contact with the cigarette-lighter adapter.

Well, the screw bit is known to come unscrewed all by itself. More than once I've found myself returning to previous locations and searching for parts of this connector or the spring. Today, it was a good thing I had only driven a few blocks to my friend, Mindy's and back.

Arriving at her house, I took off the GPS and removed the cord going to the power adapter. I pulled the connector out of the cigarette-lighter adapter and put the coiled cords into the bike's rear box. After visiting with Mindy, I got on the bike and rode home. It was at home, when I went to remove the cords from the box, that I saw the connector had come apart again When I picked it up, the fuse fell out of the connector into my hand.

A neighbor interupted me, and a moment later I began to look for the screw and plunger. They weren't to be found in the box, amid the clothing that had also been in the box, or on the ground. Nuts.

I took things inside then rode the bike back to Mindy's. The screw part was right on the ground where I had parked the bike. Thirty seconds later, I found the plunger. But fifteen minutes of searching the pavement and I had not found the spring. I kept thinking about where I had found what parts of the connector and how the connector went together to see if I could get some insight into what direction the spring might have gone as I pulled the connector out of the adapter.

Then it dawned on me: The spring fit under the fuse. It could not have come out of the connector before the fuse did, and the fuse had been found in the box at my place with the connector.

Back to my place. I parked a few feet away from where I had previously parked, backed to the curb. The spring was not anywhere on the street. That would mean I would have to look amid the grass and the leaves. Looking at where the back of the box hung over the curb, I chose the same area behind where I had parked, previously. A few seconds later something silver glinted from between two leaves, and I had what I needed to put the connector back together.

The good news is that Mindy's was only two miles away not more.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

2005 First Ride

The bike has been in the shop getting repairs and waiting for parts since before Christmas. There have been a few days with ride-able weather in that time, but better days are still ahead of us. Nevertheless, the bike was ready, the sky was blue, roads have been free of ice for many days; I was ready.

For more than 20 years, I've met with a group of Episcopalian Franciscans. Thursday, I had an e-mail reminding me that they were meeting this morning. One of them, Ed Schneider, lives in Baltimore. Another couple of e-mails later, he agreed to pick me up on his way down to the meeting place at Catholic University. After the meeting, we could ride together back towards Baltimore and he would drop me off at Bob's BMW.

Given St. Francis's love for the outdoors, animals, and preference for seeking inspiration while alone in nature, this was an excellent way to preface a return to riding a BMW motorcycle. While BMW riders occasionally gather for rides, for most of us, the pleasure is in our solitary explorations. Riding is something very akin to the contemplative life.

The morning went well. We began with coffee, and caught up with each other. Pam had word of Gary, who had been meeting with the group a couple of years back, and is now retired to a small apartment in Greenwich Village, NY. We heard about work being done in Haiti and the idea of donating funds to purchase an ox and a plow that the church there could use for a coop arrangement supporting subsistence farmers. We talked about having a retreat in the fall. Perhaps it will be someplace that will present an opportunity for a good motorcycle ride to-and-from. We then turned to study, reviewing several books that we might work on together, but agreeing to focus on the Franciscan daily principles http://www.tssf.org/princip.htm.

After Morning Prayer, we conversed a bit about the warlike aspects of some readings, especially the Psalms.

Finally, it was time for goodbyes. Ed and I headed north to Jessup and Bob's BMW.

Dropping me off, Ed made a fast exit. He did not wish to catch the motorcycle bug, I think.

The folks in the service department make the business of being without your motorcycle while it's being fixed as painless as it's going to be. The pleasure of visiting with John & Daryl, the discussions of world events as well as various routes to get somewhere, or the technical aspects of the motorcycle seem to be a theology of their own. The conversation seems to be exercising the same muscles in my brain as conversations earlier in the day.

Bob wasn't there. He was at a motorcycle show at the Timonium Fair Grounds. Five dollar discounts coupons were available at the counter in the Parts Department. It made sense to make this a destination, being so close.

I checked the turn signals to make sure they worked. I opened the gas tank, jiggled the bike side-to-side a bit, and learned that it would need fuel soon. Finally, I began the exercise of putting on riding pants, zipping up the jacket, adding a neck warmer and helmet liner over my head, then removing my glasses to don the helmet and eventually getting the glasses back on correctly, hooked over my ears inside the helmet. Next, the helmet straps, then the gloves, then... oh rats, the key is in my pocket so a glove comes back off. I find the key put it in the ignition, put the glove back on, then turn the key to on, make sure the neutral light is lit, and press the starter button.

The starter seems to hesitate. It tells me that one of these days I'll need a new battery. Hopefully, with a little riding it will start faster, next time.

I adjust the mirrors then back out and head for the road. A parking lot nearby was my first stop. I would pull in and do a few figure-eights to get the feel of the bike again. That done, I headed West on Guilford Road toward Highway One. I had been thinking about food when we left Catholic University, now hunger was occasionally reminding me of its interest. I thought I might ride up Highway One to Daniel's: a kind of biker bar that serves booze in a drive-in fashion--one of two places in the country grandfathered in when the laws changed. Daniels has a reasonably priced menu.

At the light, I pulled up behind a pickup and put on the blinker to turn right. Waiting at the intersection, I noticed that Guilford continued and I had never followed it West from there. I knew that Guilford Rd crossed 108 quite a ways west. Perhaps I would follow it for a bit.

Indeed it remained a pleasant two-lane road for some distance. Then it came to a "T" and a sign told me the way to Route 32. I didn't want to take Route 32, it was too well known, already. I stopped, dug the GPS out of my back pack, mounted it, hooked up the power cord to the BMW's auxiliary 12-volt socket, and studied the GPS map display. Guilford Road showed up again further West, and then disappeared again. Probably, it was the route west before 32 was built. The academic exercise of searching out all of its segments did not appeal to me.

"Might just as well set a course for the bike show in Timonium," I figured. Still at the curb, I zoomed the map out to the 30-mile scale, scrolled until the 83/695 intersection was centered, and then zoomed back in. John, in the service department had told me the fairground was between the first and the second exit off of 83. I zoomed in and put the cursor on the road that paralleled 83, to the East, between the first and second exits and pressed the "Find" button. Pressing "Enter" I selected "Points of Interest," then pressed "Enter" to select "Near Map Pointer." It gave me a choice of a number of categories of "Points of Interest." A Fairground would be under attractions. The rocker switch moved the selection bar down to "Attractions," I pressed "Enter," then pressed "Enter" again to select "All Types." The GPS started working.

It kept working....

"Hmm, must be a long list."

It was. When the list popped up, all I could see was churches. Interesting that Garmin thinks of churches as attractions…. I backed out of the list by pressing "Quit" once, and then chose a specific category of "Attractions." "Amusement/Theme Park" might help narrow it down.

More waiting, then a list appeared that, scroll as I might, had nothing about fairgrounds. AMF Timonium Bowling Alley showed up, however. I figured Timonium anything would get me close enough, so selected it. The GPS asked me whether I wanted to see a map or "Goto" it. I rockered over to "Goto," pressed "Enter" and it asked me: "Faster Time, Shorter Distance, or Off Road?" I chose "Shorter Distance," and it began calculating.

When it stopped, I put on the blinker, waited for a couple of cars to pass, then moved into the roa. Soon I was driving up Broken Land Parkway. GPS directed a right turn onto Route 29 North. I took it then realized I needed another adjustment, so set the cruise control, pressed the GPS's "Menu" button twice, bringing up the "Main Menu," rockered down to "Setup," and pressed "Enter." Pressing the rocker switch to the right, I moved from "System" past "Time" and "Guidance" to "Routing." Pressing the rocker switch up, once took the selection to the bottom of the screen where there were three check boxes under the word "Avoid." The first check-box was checked so that the GPS would not direct me to make U-Turns. I rockered to the right pressing Enter to put a check mark in the two empty boxes for "Toll Road" and "Highways." Pressing "Quit" two times took me back to the map. Pressing "Menu" once, gave me the choice of "Recalculate." I chose it and pressed "Enter" and th GPS started thinking again. Now, I didn't have to worry about missing more interesting roads.

The route left me on 29 until the interchange with 40. There I followed instructions going Northeast on 40 to Rogers Ave which took me north through housing to Old Frederick Road. This was pleasant. A few hills, a few turns, then a single-lane bridge and onto Johnycake Road. A turn onto Fairbrook then Greengage, and then a right onto Security Blvd. A Shell station on the right beckoned. As I pulled up, I saw that my low-fuel light was on. Good to know that it still worked. A sign at the station offered 10% discounts to government employees who presented their identification tags. A funny thing to see on a street named "Security," it seemed to me. I hoped some government employees had the sense not take up that offer.

Filled up, I waited for a break in traffic. GPS wanted me to make a left from the left-most lane in half a block. I waited and made the turn, finding that I was still a bit rusty a slow speeds. The turn put me on North Rolling Road. 35 mph almost felt fast after the last few miles. Traffic was light, the neighborhood was pleasant, and I looked down to see I was going past my turn. It probably wouldn't matter, but I had no traffic so a U-turn would work. It did, but the road was narrow enough to remind me that I was new at riding, again.

Backtracking a few yards, I turned onto Milford Mill Road. Milford shortly intersected with 26. I smelled food and was again tempted. No doubt there would be a tavern or two to visit, nearby as well.

"Next time," I told myself.

Through the intersection, and on past the Medford Mill Swim club and under Highway 95 I went. So nice not to be "on" 95, I felt. Next a turn onto Sudbrook where I discovered one of the treats of exploring off the highway. A grand house with a well manicured lawn filled a turn in the road. I would have to bring lady-friends here to see this house. Up the road I saw others, but as I drew abreast I almost fell off the bike trying to look left and right at the amazing things they had done with coloring the houses. Sudbrook turned into Old Court House Road. Old Court House Road made a turn right that I missed. I made the next right onto Terrapin Place hoping I would be able to reconnect with the route, and the GPS started automatically recalculating. It as an interesting neighborhood of one-level homes such as I often saw in Hawaii, where basements were not popular. Kids waved to me, pleasantly. I waved back.

The GPS beeped. It had a route and I followed it into... Woops, did that sign say private property? Did it mean the property or the road? I could see a street up ahead, but there was an electric gate to get through to get to it. I slowed to make a U-turn and a red car pulled turned onto the street ahead of me and approached the gate. They put in a code. I sped up and scooted through right behind them. Good Grief. Imagine these folks not wanting to share a road with their neighbors. I hoped their property values would fall when buyers figured that out. Who wants to live in an unfriendly neighborhood?

I was back on Old Court Road. It ran on for some time then joined Joppa Road, a road I remember riding before. Soon I as in housing, and followed neighborhood streets to Timonium.