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Eleanor at 200,000 miles. It's complicated.

Well, it happened. Finally.

On February 5, 2018, Eleanor, my 2007 Yamaha FJR1300, reached another milestone in its journeys on the paved roadways of this world. Hitting any mileage mark at any point is an accomplishment, but when it's something that only happens every hundred thousand miles, it's a moment that will be hard to replicate again for a long time and with another motorcycle.

Unfortunately, the celebration was a bit short-lived. On the morning of February 7th, Eleanor was sidelined on my way to work due to a hydraulic fluid leak, preventing me from using my clutch and halting her progress at 200,087 miles on the odometer. As result, she was towed back to my regular mechanic, which at the time of the publishing of this post, she has remained. Originally, I was planning to drop her off for a full valve adjustment as part of major service. To add to the fun, I had the luck of being caught behind a major backlog of repair jobs in front of mine, and two of them were complete engine rebuilds! However, the end of this nearly three-month wait for her return to her parking spot at my house is imminent, and I look forward to putting miles back on her.

It has seemed like an eternity without her here, further compounded with what had transpired in between then and now in both my personal and professional world. These last several months have been a series of transitions from one chapter of my life to another. In some ways, I am glad that Eleanor wasn't with me to witness many of these moments as they just seemed to pile up in an overwhelming succession. Still though, even with one of my most beloved companions down for the count, it has allowed me to recollect and reflect on moving forward and onto greater things. Hell, even returning to even write this is an accomplishment in itself. I would attribute that to special moments that have helped me find clarity and safety to refresh and reload, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

My new reality is not unfamiliar, but aspects of it are in places that I had hoped to not revisit again. But now, I look at these new scenarios with a different set of eyes and a much larger sense of hope. What is clear now is that I am meant for something else and that I am deserving of so much more than what has been dealt to me. Regardless of what the future holds in the next several months, I will be more than okay.

I will end this post with the beginning "ramble test" episode of my vlog that I had filmed with my GoPro on the way to Silverado, CA, on February 4. This was the day before Eleanor's odometer flipped and shot with her windshield actually wiped down properly. My plan is to start doing these as a series with a more structured outline of discussion, but it'll be a little while until I can revisit this side project. Anyway, enjoy.


My first foray into motorcycle vlogging. (Sorry about the dirty windshield.)

I picked up a GoPro Hero 5 Black as a personal gift to myself after switching jobs back in September, and since then I have been thinking of ways to use this little camera on my motorcycle. So far, I've tried a helmet mount, but I received too much wind buffeting and resistance at freeway speeds. In later tests, I went with a RAM mount setup since I already have five RAM balls spread out along my handlebars. Another perk of opting to place the camera on my bike instead of my helmet was that I could plug the camera into my built-in USB-C power cable that's usually reserved for my Google Pixel XL smartphone. This means that I can record extremely long videos without worrying about the camera going out on me.

This is one of a couple configurations I can use when mounting the GoPro to my FJR1300. My RAM Cup Holder would normally be in the spot where the GoPro is hanging from. However, I do have the option of taking the RAM X-Grip (left), moving it to the lower ball, and mounting the camera on the left side of the bars. It doesn't affect my ability to use my handlebars in either place. Of course, your configuration will vary depending on the model of your motorcycle.
After a few months of messing with the camera by itself, I picked up the GoPro 3.5mm Mic Adapter and a basic lavalier microphone to start recording narrations while I was riding. My biggest challenge in the setup was the location of the mic inside my helmet. In the first sample video, I had the lavalier clipped to the bottom fabric lip of my full-face helmet pointing up toward my face. This limited the microphone's usefulness to speeds below 55MPH, and I could imagine that threshold to have been lower if I didn't have a significant windshield on my motorcycle. I also had the microphone setting on the GoPro set to "Standard Mic+" which I found to be unnecessary because the sound was peaking and cracking, even at slow speeds.

In the second video, I adjusted the lavalier mic so that it was nested behind my helmet's rubber breath guard. I also returned the GoPro mic settings back to "Standard." That worked out perfectly and the mic sound was clear at all speeds, even during the short moment when I raised my face shield to scratch my nose. So for now, that microphone positioning will be my go-to when recording my voice with the camera on.
(Top) Lavalier microphone. (Bottom) Microphone for my Sena SMH10 headset. There is no interference or feedback between the two microphones despite their close proximity to each other.
Here's the lavalier mic's clip from the outside. I can't see it when I'm riding, but I do admit that it is a tad bit goofy to look at from this angle.
So here's the second test that confirmed my theory about microphone positioning. I will have to find better times to do my recordings because heading eastbound in the morning and westbound after work will put me directly into the sun's path. However, I am pleased with these first trials. Next task: clean my windshield!


NorCal Revisited Part 5: Motorcycles and hockey do mix with surprising results.

Long time, no see! I'm starting 2018 with the conclusion of an adventure that I started back in July 2017. Yeah, I admit to being that far behind, but I have reasons. I will say that it is extremely satisfying to come back and finish telling this story, especially because the circumstances that prevented me from completing this no longer exist.

The last half of 2017 had been inundated with incidents and events that have kept me away from my blog space (not to mention grad school), but I hope to add to the random stories throughout this year. As for the tales of this vacation from July 2017, let's just say that not long after my ride home in the triple digits (both in temperature and in mileage), my work life went into a tailspin and far out of my control, and that waking nightmare didn't end until September. Anyway, I'm very glad to be back and I'm determined to stay on track the best I can. So, without further adieu, I get to talk about the part of my motorcycle vacation that involved a hockey tournament.


2018 Yamaha Star Eluder: Test Ride Video!

Hey, it's been a while! I'm trying something new with my acquisition of a GoPro Hero 5 Black, and for the first time, I was able to do a video of my entire test ride of the 2018 Yamaha Star Eluder bagger motorcycle. Enjoy the show!

Overall, I found the bike to be very well-balanced and smooth. Its engine is identical to the original Yamaha Roadliner/Stratoliner that debuted in 2006. The electronic cockpit was easy to read from a quick glance, and the onboard dual speakers are more than enough to counter the wind noise. One of my few critiques of the bike is that it lacks a heel-toe shifter which would be perfect for a bike with such a forward foot position. I recommend taking a test ride on one of them for kicks. You won't be disappointed.