Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: March 2012


When the rest of Ohio thaws out the motorcycles...

This has been a very unusual March in central Ohio. Last week, we were surprised with summer-like sunny days with temps over 80 degrees. Of course, with the first arrival of warm weather comes the itch of the seasonal riders to get the motorcycles out for the first time in 2012.

God help us all. Err...I mean, about time you guys showed up!?

Of course, this whole "wait for nice weather" thing has never been an issue for both me and Matt as we have ridden this entire winter. Matt has traversed icy conditions on his 2008 Piaggio BV250 scooter outfitted with tungsten-carbide studded dual-sport tires (legal in OH from Nov.-March), and I've been traversing on Eleanor for as long as there has been no ice on the road. As Californians, we live on the idea that you ride a motorcycle every day in all acceptable road conditions, and if the weather doesn't cooperate there's riding gear to respond to it. Unfortunately, living in a state where motorcycles are regarded, for the most part, as recreational vehicles instead of legit forms of transportation single us out as oddities.

But...for those who do rely on the calendar to determine if it's okay to ride again, I have several suggestions/tips to ensure that your return to the road is as smooth and as trouble-free as possible.


Longest. Shootout. Ever.

It wasn't the normal day at the hockey rink.

During a regular season hockey game at the Dublin Chiller on Wednesday, I found myself involved in the longest game I've ever played in my 16 years in hockey, 12 of those as a goaltender.

My current women's team in the Columbus Area Women's Hockey League (CAWHL), the Blackhawks, found themselves with a 1-0 lead going into the 3rd period. A deflected shot trickles past me with about two minutes left in regulation which forces overtime. We go through overtime still tied at 1-1 and enter into a shootout.

For those who don't watch hockey, a shootout is when the teams alternate on a 1-on-1 between a single player and the goalie until someone scores. A "round" is each team taking a turn shooting on the opposing goalie. Think soccer penalty shots. On steroids.

By the time I reached the 17th round of this ordeal, I said to the referee next to me, "I think I just broke a personal record in shootouts." Before this, the two longest shootouts I've ever been in before (and won) that were 16 rounds (Playoffs in El Segundo, CA - 2000 - which also happened to be my very first game on ice) and 12 rounds (Tournament Championship Game, South Bend, IN - 2011).

It wasn't until the 28th round of this goaltending duel that the hockey game was called by the captains and we ended in a tie. So, for the time being the CAWHL Blackhawks and Red Wings possess the only tie game in league history. I was quite bummed when I had to stop blocking pucks, it was such a good streak? I wonder though, is calling the game like that even allowed? Regardless, it's another game that will be hard to replicate for a very long time, if ever.

A typical Wednesday night...I'm surprised I still bend like that at times. 


Easing off the throttle...

This is quite an unusual Sunday for me. Typically, I would find myself working out at the gym before a hockey game with my men's team or running errands on the motorcycle. But right now I am hobbling around between my table here at Panera and for refills of my bottomless cup of iced tea. This is thanks to an onset of plantar faciitis in the right foot that has let me writhing in pain and unable to travel long distances by foot. Fortunately another member of my hockey team moonlights as a goalie so they're not short a netminder for the second consecutive game in a row. In fact, they're also looking forward to my return! This also gives me some peace of mind - the last time I had plantar faciitis (in the same foot, mind you) was about four years ago as a consequence of a twisted knee I injured in a game, and the team I was playing for at the time cut me permanently from the roster after I had served as their top goaltender for three years - I think they just needed an excuse to give me the boot.

What an insane two weeks this has been. After sixty hours of driving from here to Utah and back followed by five straight days of springtime insanity at the store and catching up with e-mails and special projects in between, I guess something is reminding me that I need to slow down just a tad until the rest of me catches up.


Cruisin' around Salt Lake

We met up with the bride and groom's families on Friday evening and went to dinner at Texas Roadhouse in Bountiful. After that, we hung out for a bit and turned in early for the evening thanks to our exhaustion from driving and the time zone change.

On Saturday morning, we headed down the street to a Ross to pick up a few accessories for our formal wear. We then killed time before the wedding ceremony by visiting three motorcycle dealerships within a 10 mile radius of the hotel. For a place known for skiing and snowboarding, it was refreshing to see powersports dealerships that specialized in both on and off-road vehicles.

Our first stop was BMW/Triumph Motorcycles of Salt Lake City just south of Bountiful on I-15. Unfortunately, they were closed for inventory that day so we didn't get past this sign and this utterly familiar 2001 BMW K1200RS in Marakesh Red. Unlike Matt's old machine, this bike was super clean, had less than 10k miles on the odometer, and lacked accessories and bags.

I miss that motorcycle. Stupid taxi drivers.
Our next stop was Full Throttle Powersports in Centerville, a few exits north. This is a Yamaha/Kawasaki/KTM/Arctic Cat dealership. It had a very diverse selection of cruisers, adventure bikes, dirtbikes, snowmobiles, and side-x-sides. We then traveled down the road to check out Tri-City Performance, a Polaris/Victory/Featherlite trailers dealer. I was quite impressed with their selection of women's riding and extreme cold weather gear. Of course, I had to cop a ride on a Polaris snowmobile...

Sitting on a 2011 Polaris RMK...
We then returned back to hotel to get ready for the wedding at nearby Eldridge Manor. Lots of fun and food!

Whew. Now for the loooooong drive home...


Cagin' it to Salt Lake

I'm out for the weekend with Matt in Salt Lake City, UT for a friend's wedding. We took an unusual (at least for us) method of transportation to get there due to time constraints: our 1999 BMW 528i wagon.

In nerdy fashion, here's the list of all the electronics we took with us for anti-boredom, navigation, and car maintenance.
  • Garmin Zumo 550 GPS with built-in MP3 player, car cradle, and audio output. This is the same GPS unit that's off my motorcycle.
  • Cassette tape adapter for audio - the car doesn't have a CD player and this is much cheaper than an audio input integration
  • Toshiba NB255 netbook with built-in SD card reader for easy transfer of over 9000 MP3s from my personal collection for on-the-fly uploading to the Garmin Zumo 550
  • 150W power inverter for charging the laptop
  • Automobile fault code reader - for interpreting check engine lights (a must have for any car)

Here's the Zumo 550 mounted next to the BMW's shift lever.  A cassette to stereo adapter is playing in the tape player. Its easy-to-adjust cradle neck made it easy to tilt it toward the driver or the passenger for reading or just changing the songs.
We left on Thursday about 1AM and drove continuously across I-70, I-74, and I-80, driving the first 1500 miles by alternating drivers, only stopping at gas stations to fill up. One person would nap while the other would take the wheel. To help with sleeping, we had the "Cubby Hole," a makeshift bed using the small seat partition laid down and sticking one's legs into the trunk section. Add sleeping bag and two pillows and you're set for several hours of naptime. Privacy screens built into the passenger doors add to incognito snoozing.


Food Review: Greek Castle (Lewis Center, OH)

In my search to find a proper, decent Greek food place in Columbus, I am failing quite miserably.

Just for kicks, I decided to give Greek Castle in Lewis Center (US 23) a shot. It is located in the same plaza as Wal-Mart and occupies the exact same space that housed a Charley's Grilled Subs about a year ago. (The family that owned that franchise moved south to Grove City and reopened the restaurant there.)

I decided to try out a standard gyro sandwich with a side of fries. As for the sandwich, the gyro meat was freshly shaved and very flavorful. However, it had more sauce than I liked and juices were was dripping everywhere. That made finishing the pita-based concoction a bit of a napkin adventure. I did like the fries as they were freshly cut and fried with the skin still on them.

Here's the food. I'm glad I didn't take a pic of the actual restaurant. I'll explain that next.
Although I can give props to the taste of the food, this would definitely NOT be a place I would take my friends out to for lunch. Restaurant sanitation, bathroom conditions, and environment were deplorable. The women's restroom toilet was clogged with toilet paper and couldn't flush, and it could've used some warm decor that was, at the minimum, Greek flavored. Even the wall paint was so shoddy that I could still tell that they place used to be another restaurant. I would've thought that there was someone else who could be out mopping or wiping down tables. Was the only person who was in the store at the time the only employee?

I'm not a restaurant expert nor am I in the food industry, but there are certain criteria that you would expect to see as a paying customer - good upkeep and cleanliness, great tasting food, and a friendly/comfortable environment to enjoy said food.

Greek Castle is located at 8641 Columbus Pike in Lewis Center. Open 7 days a week. For this place, I strongly encourage take-out and an open mind.