24 February 2001

motorcycles and slack in kalamazoo

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Saturday, for the first time in a long time, was an enforced day of slack. It was a day of active and planned slack, but slack none the less. First item on the agenda: motorcycles. During the week Jon told me about an open house out in Royal Oak, he was going to go look at motorcycles. Jon, Ben, and I had been talking about motorcycles for a while, and I'm definitely interested in riding. It sounds like a lot of fun.

I had planned on taking the motorcycle safety course but all of my comrades ditched, so I ditched too. Now I know at least 2 people who ride regularly and also want to revisit the training course, and I still want to ride. So I'm going to go do it this time.

We stopped on the way out to meet Jon's friends who were also going to the open house. We went to this dealership, that, at 10 in the morning was completely packed with people, lookers and sellers. After my initial hesitation and went around the shop and lifted a bunch of bikes. I really liked the blue Intruder I took pictures of, but it's way too big of a bike for beginner like myself. Jon and Ben got the idea that I should look at a Kawasaki ZR-7, but none was to be found in the shop. But I did get a change to sit on the Suzuki bike of similar class. I like the slightly more upright posture of the bare bikes compared to the sport bikes that Jon and one of his friends bought that day. They both the Honda CBR 600f-4i, pictured here in silver and red. It was a little shocking to watch two people just buy bikes. I didn't realize that either of them were that close to buying. Fun!

As I've been telling people about my interest in motorcycles (or donor-cycles, thanks Gretchen) I've gotten really mixed responses, which don't really surprise. Of course motor cycling can be more dangerous. The biggest danger is from unobservant drivers not paying attention enough to notice a motorcycle. So if you're worried about me, be a better driver, many people will thank you. There are other dangers as well, but I'm going to mitigate them as much as possible with the right gear, training, and respect for my own life. I ride my bicycle on the same roads that I will be riding my motorcycle, and I know how to look out for others that don't notice me, and I'm wearing a lot less than I will on my motorcycle.

We went to a second shop which had a nice selection of jackets and helmets. They didn't stock any helmets that might fit my huge head, but they did have a couple nice jackets. This store will be having an open house the next weekend, so I might have to stop by to see how much they'll take off the equipment I'll need to buy. I tried on several nice nylon jackets with kevlar armor that feel like they will wear nicely in the summer.

After coming back to Ann Arbor and having some bi bim bop at eastern accents with ben, I packed up a back and met my ed tech friends at the rendezvous point for the kalamazoo adventure.

The drive out was piss poor. It had rained and snowed while we were motorcycle shopping. During the drive west it rained a lot. As we drove ice coated the antenna, thicker and thicker. As we finally made it to the Kalamazoo area the roads started icing up, I was glad to get off the road.

Once in Kalamazoo we went straight to the Bell's brewery. This is an excellent bar/restaurant built out of an old brick warehouse or factory. There was beautiful wood everywhere and wonderful beer to be enjoyed. We were pretty laid back, playing games and talking as we waited for various groups of people to make it to the bar. Other adventure of the night, Erin and Missy poorly backed up Third Coast, a local reggae band, for one song. The loft we hung out in was directly above the kitchen and occasionally we'd be saturated by the scent of bacon; it was really too much. By about 9:30 the group stirred with impatience and we make a move for our next destination. Before this day I'd never been anywhere in Kalamazoo except for Bell's and the Western campus, so I had no idea what I was in for when I learned our destination was the Wayside.

The Wayside turned out to be a tryingToBeTrendy bar that the college football team calls home. This place was a cheese and quite amusing meat market. There was a $2 cover dance floor that we never made it to, and a $5 cover "VIP" room that we didn't bother going to either. Apparently being a VIP allowed you to sit in a lounge above the dance floor. woo!

Both Bill B. and I had been relieved of driving duties for the evening, so we took great pains to get as drunk as we could. There were many shots spread across the group, and Bill B. and I took turns buying each other G&T's, sapphire for him, tanqueray for me.

I spent a long time talking to friends that I really don't get to see much of all, most especially Erin. I'm busy being a grunt in a start-up, she's busy taking classes and student teaching. She's getting up to drive to her school in Howell just as I'm getting to sleep. Not very compatible schedules. I've missed her a lot and it was so good to be able to sit and talk as we did.

Later in the night we found the game section of the bar. It was exactly like a chucky cheese without the pool of plastic balls or children. People played games for tickets and then could redeem the tickets for crap. But since no one was manning said booth, Missy (in the amazing red pleather jacket! I don't know anyone else who do that jacket justice) thought she'd help everyone out and get back there to pass out gifts to anyone... (I don't think she collected any tickets). Eventually a bouncer found her and dragged her out by her shoulder. I didn't pay too much attention, but eventually a collation of people were able to both shut Missy up and convince the bouncer that Missy should not be tossed out in the downpour... the jacket was really only for looks, not much of a rain slicker. As time ran out we gathered and streamed out of the bar into the rain. Nobody seemed to mind that Bill B. took his bombay sapphire with him.

Luckily someone knew where we were staying. It seemed like a horrendously long ride there.. I know I slept for some of it. After dragging our bags into the hotel it was out for food. The denny's near by seemed like the obvious choice. But the fact that freezing rain was falling down and the rental cops wouldn't let us inside the restaurant until a table was prepared for us quickly drove the group to the burger king drive through and back to the room. People ate, tv ( The Matrix) was watched, the room was trashed, and we one by one we passed out. Thunk.
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Sunday morning came and we slowly assembled the troops for breakfast and then the drive home. I had a little bit of a headache from the night's adventures, but nothing worth worrying about it. Half a gallon of water, vitamins, and an aleve fixed all. Breakfast was difficult because a whole section of town, the section containing Sam's choice of restaurant, lost power as a result of the high winds that blew through the night, and continued to do so this morning.

I did eventually make it home, only to relax and the help neighbor Rachel for apartment type goods that were lost as her roommate Zan moved out and on to her beau's house in pontiac. A long, soul numbing tour through meijer. It wasn't bad, but we were both zoned by the time we made it back to her car.

This was a good weekend to have. I needed it.