Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: 2015


On why I can't talk to my mother (and tips on how to prevent your adult kids from shutting you out).

For more of a background story to this piece, click to read my blog post, "How to suck at parenting. Effing badly."

I didn't need to hear from my mother on the day before my 31st birthday.

Now hear me out, it's not often that I do hear from her (or from anyone else in my immediate family at that). Usually they'll call in the event of a tragedy or if a computer needs to be fixed, which I then ignore due to my work schedule. Most, if not all conversations aren't very positive after I see the dreaded number on my caller ID, and any sort of dialogue dissolves very quickly within a matter of minutes.


GUEST POST: Counter-Steering: Myth or Reality? (Kiara Wilson)

All right, here's another guest post about motorcycle counter-steering.

If you're a motorcycle enthusiast and are interested in becoming a guest blogger on here, fill out the inquiry form on the right side of the page and I'll get back to you.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed within this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily held by Two-Wheeled Tourist.


Am I the only person around here who keeps hearing all this talk about ‘counter-steering’?
It seems to me that this buzz-phrase has grown in notoriety in recent months in certain 2-wheeler communities, which is hardly surprising given the direct reference it pays to the entire steering-on-two-wheels debate.

It’s no secret that theory behind what it takes for us to turn effectively on our respective scooters/motorcycles is very complicated. After all, it hardly takes the mind of a prodigy to figure out that it extends far beyond the style and weight of our chosen jackets and motorcycle helmets.
Whether or not you’re a rider who has been just as perplexed with the arrival of this term, or one who has, up until now at least, been enjoying life just fine without knowledge of it- it is the intention of this post to get us all to grips with exactly what it means.

Before we delve into the finer details of things however, let’s clear one thing up right now: counter-steering is not a myth! If you’re turning your 2-wheeled automobile at any speed which surpasses a snail’s pace, then you are counter-steering.

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Cone Effect
To get into the mind frame for this next part I have a rather specific request for you all. Try to imagine, if you will, a cone. Yes, a typical, unexciting cone. If you were to push the cone as it lay flat on the ground, it would go round and round in circles, yes?

This is the same as when you lean your weight from one side to another when atop your scooter or motorcycle, the direction of the tyre moves from circular and therefore perpetually straight- to cone shaped and angled. My loose grasp on disciplines of this ilk may not make it sound so, but this is rather basic physics!

While ‘in’ the turn, we don’t fall as a result of the gravity pulling us downwards being counteracted by the deviating force being produced by the very turn we’re partaking in- which is acting to push us outwards.

During this motion, it is the balance between the two forces (gravity and the centrifugal repercussions of the turn) that keep us balanced and upright- not to mention our leather jackets largely un-scuffed. If speed is increased, the aforementioned ‘deviating force’ (that’s a pretty cool term, isn’t it?) would ensure the vehicle continues its journey forwards and increasingly upright, though if it is decreased- gravity will see we soon meet the surface of the road!

This ‘cone effect’ is what allows us to steer by increasing or decreasing throttle pressure. If we find a curve in the road is tightening, we can ease off the gas and the scooter will lean. On the contrary, if the road is straightening out, more gas will widen the trajectory of the vehicle.

Most of us will have at some point been met with the immense challenge of biting our tongues as a newbie scooter or motorcycle rider comes out with: “when you turn left, you actually need to turn the handlebars right”, or a statement to similar effect.

While this may be a vivid generalization of the actual case, it is also technically far from being an untrue statement.

In relation to our centre of gravity as we ride up-right, our wheels are to the opposite side of the direction we are riding in. This makes sense due to the fact, as previously covered, that a scooter or motorcycle turns a certain direction by leaning in that direction. But when we think about how it is we are able to make a two-wheeled vehicle lean in the first place- things change. Those newbies in their untouched patch-less vests and dirt-free heeled motorcycle boots speak the truth, kind of.

Yes, it’s painful to admit it, but in order to lean right- one must momentarily and ever so slightly steer left. Making sense? I hope so, as I’m about to tie things up and suggest why the essence of the last 600 words matter to us all as scooter riders…

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Counter-steering, above anything else, is by far the best way to make an unexpected and lightning fast turn in the event of an emergency situation on the road. Putting this theory into practice is blissfully simple- you’ll undoubtedly be pleased to know after all of that mildly complex talk!
Next time you’re out for a ride, get yourself as straight as possible and gently (I can’t stress how important the term ‘gently’ is within all of this!) put some forward pressure on the right side of your handlebars. Unless you’re rocking some pretty far out hard saddlebags then you should find that you’ll lean left and start to turn left too.

Of course, this how you have always been turning regardless of any previous obliviousness to the fact- though paying attention to counter-steering, and furthermore becoming acutely sensitive to it will enable you to make the quick alterations to your direction necessary for accident avoidance in the future- and ultimately help you to become a more capable rider!


The Summer Quest for a Lobster Roll in Southern California

From my motorcycle journeys on the East Coast, I remember fondly the delectable flavor of the lobster roll. For those who have never had a lobster roll, it is giant chunks of fresh lobster smothered in either butter or mayo and placed on a buttered bread roll. When it's paired with a side of fried clams, a lobster bisque, or clam chowdah (have to spell it like it's pronounced over there!), it is a filling meal for a seafood-craving traveler.

Even though I'm back home on the West Coast, there are moments when I desire the taste of genuine Maine lobster. The west coast variety of this crustacean is very plentiful in these parts but lacks that melt-in-your-mouth quality that lies in the east. However, I do live in Los Angeles, and the beautiful part about living here is that damn near anything can be acquired with the right kind of research and a little bit of motorcycle riding.

So on an off night in late July when I finished my work and wasn't scheduled for a hockey game, I caught wind of a food truck night happening in North Orange County while poking around on the internet. More specifically, it was near the La Habra/Fullerton border near my old digs there. Run by the Truck Squad, it's a regular food truck gathering on Friday nights that has become so commonplace that patrons will set up chairs and tables in parking stalls or eat from the tailgates of their trucks to enjoy the evening. I saddled up on Eleanor and rode the 35 or so miles down the freeway to have my fill of gourmet traveling meals.

When I made it to the Best Buy Fullerton parking lot, there it was - The Lobsta Truck. Were these lobster rolls going to be the same as I had remembered in my memories of Maine? I was about to find out.

I decided on a standard lobster roll with mayo (the roll was already buttered) with a side of lobster bisque. As you can see from the photo below, that's real chunks of the good stuff! And needless to say, it tasted just as delicious as it looked. The bisque was very creamy and even had small chunks of lobster floating in it! This was about as authentic as one could get short of making a field trip to York Beach. However, a motorcycle ride back there would be a wonderful adventure.

Capping off off my meal with a octopus takoyaki and a honeydew boba from the Tokyo Doggie Style truck, I was pretty much seafood-ed out for the evening. So another ride down to the Dave and Buster's in Irvine for some arcade games and that was an eventful Friday.

I'll also throw this one out there. If you really want to get your lobster on, the annual LA Lobster Fest in San Pedro is the perfect place to stuff your face. Head over to for more information.

Food truck events are everywhere in Los Angeles/Orange County. Looking for the next one? Here are a few links to get you started. Also, check your local city's events calendar or nearby school find them as well. Bon appetit!

Los Angeles Food Truck Maps -
Find LA Food Trucks -
Roaming Hunger -


Tales from the Battle Wagon - how a slightly broken BMW repaired a part of my heart.

I may call myself the Two-Wheeled Tourist, but I wouldn't be where I am now without a little help from my four-wheeled companion, a 1999 BMW 528i (E39) wagon in Oxford Green Metallic.

I acquired this vehicle in May 2011 as a replacement to my beloved 2003 Subaru Outback that found its demise in a collision in the middle of Columbus, Ohio after an impromptu makeout session with a 1993 Honda Civic hatchback at the hands of a roommate. Luckily, I wasn't the one driving the car when this happened; however, the things that did happen to me not much long after the acquisition of this BMW were a clear sign that my time inhabiting the Midwest was coming to an end.

Here's the wagon the day I bought it. I set it free, and it would return the favor several years later.
I was the third owner of this wagon, inheriting it at 102,000 miles on the odometer. It was far from perfect; several hundred dollars from the remainder of my insurance claim check were invested to replace broken pieces, the radiator, and other minor details (thank you eBay and Bavarian Autosport). At first, I didn't like this car very much, but the reasons were more emotional than logical. I missed my Subaru and was quite bitter about the way that car met its end - like in many aspects of my life in Ohio, out of my control and without a satisfying solution or conclusion. This "replacement" of a wagon took a little getting used to because of its larger frame and heavier handling than the nimbler Outback that took me through college and my first foray into a teaching career. The new (to me) car had a large set of tires to fill; replacing what was my escape vehicle before I became a full-fledged motorcyclist was going to be a tough undertaking.


Long-Term Product Review: Sena SMH10 Bluetooth Headset

Disclaimer: This is an unpaid, independent review on gear that I use on a daily basis. However, if you'd like me to real-world test other pieces of motorcycle apparel or equipment and write about it, e-mail me a private message!

When it comes to answering phone calls while on the motorcycle, riders have various preferences. Some want to be left alone to enjoy the ride, while others feel the phone buzzing in their jacket pocket or on the phone's screen as it's mounted on their bikes, finding themselves wishing they could hit "answer" and take the call without pulling over to the side of the road. For those riders whose phone is vital to work or for those who need to be connected to the world while on two wheels, the in-the-helmet Bluetooth headset is the practical answer to those needs.

For many years, I've taken the corded route when it came to receiving audio into my helmet, whether it be GPS turn-by-turn instructions or music for the commute and the long-distance trip. After a while, being tethered by a wire to my bike and having to remember to disconnect myself every time I'd walk away from my ride became a bit cumbersome, especially with the frequent mounting and dismounting that comes with motorcycle courier deliveries.

With the unique position of using my motorcycle for actual paid work, I've learned that having access to my phone without having to remove my full-face helmet* or stopping saves me time and energy. As a result, my on-the-bike nights become a lot more efficient and profitable.  *I do not wear a modular "flip-face" helmet out of personal preference.

So I went shopping for an easy-to-use, glove-friendly in-the-helmet Bluetooth unit, and weighing in my personal preferences and needs as a rider, I chose the Sena SMH10 Motorcycle Bluetooth® Headset & Intercom. This is my feedback after over a year of daily use while on the job and on recreational rides.


Quick Bites: GEN Korean BBQ House (Torrance, CA)

Torrance's GEN Korean BBQ House serves up an all-you-can-eat delight at a very reasonable price and will definitely have you coming back for seconds.

Now, all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ is just one of those things that has to be experienced. You're sitting there at a table in front of a giant grill with all this food ready to be cooked. As you're munching on a few side dishes, everything cooks in front of you. This is a great group activity and I suggest doing this with friends who have huge appetites. I'll let the photos do the talking.

Ready to fire up the grill!


PVC Pipes and Gerbils Straight Outta Hawthorne: A Cautionary Tale (NSFW)

This is a first on Two-Wheeled Tourist...a post that I will warn you in advance may not be suitable for prying eyes at work. Considering that I'm now on the sixth year of this blog, I've pretty much thrown caution to the wind to a certain extent when it comes to what I decide to write about on here. I will have to admit though, this made my pre-hockey game dinner on a breezy Friday night in El Segundo quite hilarious as the final part of this story this went down while I was in between bites of grilled catfish, rice, and zucchini at California Fish Grill and reading through Fifty Shades Freed.

So allow me to place some context on this story. I returned to online dating several months ago and so far, I've had my share of small successes and busts. I've met some interesting people and quite a few jerks. I had been out of the dating game long enough that I forget that many use the anonymity of what I call the "online curtain" as an opportunity to simply be disgusting as it's very easy to appear and disappear with no consequence.

Many of those types of messages I usually receive I'll avoid, block, and forget. However, after receiving several messages from this user from the pits of Hawthorne, CA who had several inappropriate, probing questions about my derriere - the pun was intentional. I figured it was a good day to throw the verbal ax at him and humor myself at the same time. (I will be nice and not reveal his identity...unless you ask me directly.)


Motorcycle Absurdities at impromptu photo session.

This photo series takes me back to the week leading up to Singles Awareness Day (a.k.a. February 14 for all you cynical, non-committed relationship type folk).

It was one of those weeks that needed a visit to IKEA. The trip served two purposes: (1) I finally landed my first full-time job in ten months and had to do some product research for my new office and (2) I got to hang out with a close friend to iron out some personal aggression with a motorcycle ride and lunch. I don't reserve trips to everyone's favorite Swedish furniture store just to times of emotional distress, but a meatball plate and coordinated home goods can do a lot for a slightly maimed psyche.

After nibbling on that famous cuisine that the confines of the blue and yellow building had made so popular, we began our winding trek through the store's sample rooms, wearing our motorcycle gear and holding on to our helmets. Then an idea struck me in the midst of my clouded mind. I needed to make fun of myself and do something stupid. So I handed my smartphone to my buddy and threw my helmet on.

It was time to go test out some couches.


Honda Reflex vs. CA Freeways - Life lessons from "high speed" scooter riding.

In my professional and personal life, I've thrown my leg over dozens of motorcycles. Some bikes have ranged from the simple, single-cylinder machines to the massive behemoth Triumph Rocket III and its 2300cc engine. Some of those rides bring out the speed demon in me, and I know how it feels to blast down the road at 140MPH...on my FJR nonetheless.

However, what I've learned from taking a "slow bike" fast than a "fast bike" slow is what I value the most in my interactions with two-wheeled machines. In the moments when a full understanding of the vehicle between your legs is far more important than how far the throttle is twisted in your right hand is when everyday living gains a new perspective.


When is time really ours?

Hello out there. I haven't disappeared, but I have been wandering.

It seems unusual to not make my first post of 2015 until the newness of February. It's been several years since I've missed an end-of-the-year post, let alone the start of a brand new year. However, I've learned that sometimes it is best to say nothing until the time is right than just something to fill up an empty space. I hope that in this train of thought that's been cobbled over the last couple weeks that I will make some sort of sense and that I am not doing what I was hoping to avoid.

So here I am combining multiple locations to finish these thoughts, whether I am sitting in a park in Mar Vista, Eleanor facing me in a random parking lot waiting for me to return, or in a familiar corner of Culver City where a pumpkin spice chai changed my way of thinking for the better several months ago. I attempt to say something meaningful between now and when I saddle up and deliver food to the masses. This whole motorcycle courier gig, my current major source of income, has been an unexpected circumstance I've found myself in but one I have been prepared for since the loss of my full-time job in April 2014. Every time I ride, I celebrate over 12 years of riding motorcycles through hell and high water, and based on where I have been on my solo trips, that is not far from the truth.

I will say, still being in a constant state of financial unpredictability can take some of the wind out of the sails of modern life's momentum. But then again, this last year has been one of survival and triumph. Instead of charging forward at all times, I've learned to step back a little to gain a different perspective of what I have earned in the place of the stereotypical daily routine that brings home a consistent paycheck: the gift of time.

In my own life over the passing of these last few months, it has been a mix of hellos, good-byes, be wells, and what the hells. Many of these stories I must keep in the silence of my own heart, but be assured that I have learned many a positive thing from them. Somewhere in the mix I was traversing that land somewhere on two wheels transporting whatever I could fit on Eleanor from point A to point B, trying to seek some sort of stability in my own monetary needs so I could then focus on my mental ones. It has been a delicate balance that I still see teetering from one side to another but I have been successful in making this all work. Some moments of time I am warned with another possible sudden life change but I am ready for it, if and when it decides to rear its head.

In the last month and a half, I've had to say goodbye to a loved one, a friend, and a mentor who exemplified the true appreciation of time, a person who never wanted to waste a single second of the gift that had been given to him. While his departure has caused a gashing rift in many parts of my world, I stand in front of what has fallen apart and honor his legacy by continuing to live my life in the best way that I can. I have learned that in this quest to live on, I can't please everyone and will probably pay a price for it. But I hold my head high and wish for the pain causing the falling-out to subside and be replaced with understanding, communication, and forgiveness.

But why such a conversation about time? Recently, I had a chapter in my not-so-distant past return to my line of sight. In its surprise and in its simple requests, it brought me to beg the question, "Can we claim a stake in time, even just for a few allow nothing else to matter than what is in front of us right now?" In my moments of contemplation, I've found that it is possible to achieve that ability to 'freeze' time. In some cases it requires one to be a bit selfish. For a person like me, that can be difficult to do; I have a service-oriented mindset where others needs are put ahead of my own. It's just who I am.

Perhaps I need to remind myself even more that it is okay to want the greatest things for myself and not always be in a downright giving mode at every moment of my day. As I've discovered, when I can achieve those moments, they are amazing in so many ways.

So my new resolve is to own my time again at every possible moment that I can. There are many things I can't control right now and I am okay with that. I am a survivor and always have been, and ultimately, I am in control of my own happiness in between those ups and downs. It's doable, but man, do I need to muster up all the strength I still have. As I've learned during the lowest moments, I have more of that than I think I do. Now to put these thoughts into practice.