Tag Archive: weather

More Alike

The article “More Alike” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 3/27/17.

“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” —”Human Family” by Maya Angelou

There are times when the deadline to finish this chronicle sneaks up on me. I am by nature a procrastinator and work better under pressure. As it happens, I’m writing this one from a hospital waiting room as my mother undergoes a biopsy. She’s been in remission for 16 years now but her doctor recently discovered a mass that has us all concerned. I, of course, rode the motorcycle here.

My mother has been an example to me that being kind and compassionate is more important than being right. She, more than any other person in my life, is the reason I am so concerned with riding safely; so that the woman who taught me love and kindness never need hear that I’ve been injured. I have no interest whatsoever in causing her pain.

I’ve taken a bit of a step back from social media of late and feel relieved to have done so. Kindness, at least online, seems to have taken a back seat to contention, argument, judgment, and sadly, the reposting of fake news. It’s something I see and hear little of among the motorcycle community, at least those I ride and trade emails with. The previous RoadRUNNER Touring Weekend was completely devoid of that kind of tension, even in the midst of a politically polarized year. Motorcyclists usually leave such things at home and simply enjoy each other’s company.

We tend to lean toward the good, toward positivity and open-mindedness. Whether that is true of all motorcyclists or just true of those I call friends is of little consequence. The important and lasting thing is that the vehicle itself, and its transformative nature, seems to promote positivity rather than the negativity it can be so easy to fall victim to. When in each other’s company, we discuss our children, our spouses or significant others, our travels, our trials, our griefs, and joys, and not our political or religious affiliations or our resentments and social grievances.

So, as I sit here and wait to talk to my mother’s doctor, the silliness of carrying around angst of any kind seems to melt away much as it does when riding. My only concern today, right now, is smiling toward and sharing a kind word with others in the waiting room. Sometimes hardness hides hurt; sometimes we’re just so guarded we need the other person to smile first, and I kind of like being that person.

I have a friend, Quinn, who I’ve seen disarm complete strangers with kind compliments and a wide smile. It’s funny how such small gestures can lighten someone’s load and bring them joy. I’ve seen her do it on several occasions. That Quinn is 10 years old serves as a lesson to me that our perceived differences are learned; we aren’t born with them. We could all stand to be a bit more like her, a bit more concerned with smiles and seeing commonality than in identifying difference.

I’ve always disliked labels; they are an all too easy way to define someone, and too often we allow them to stop us from connecting with others. Everyone has a mother and no one wants to sit where I’m sitting now, having just sent her, fearful and fragile, to undergo a procedure with such hateful potential. As sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, we all share the desire for our loved ones to be home, healthy and happy. As motorcyclists, we just want to share the road and the experience with each other. We’re lucky—we have the bike as a commonality. I can’t help but think though that it shouldn’t take a sport to connect with people whom we may not otherwise agree with ideologically. Maya Angelou’s “Human Family” says what motorcyclists, in my experience, feel and exhibit innately. “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

When I see mom in recovery I’m going to read it to her. She’ll love it, because she lives it, and is the kindest person I will ever know. Ride safe, my friends.


Better Shared

The article “Better Shared” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 1/30/17.

To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. —Mark Twain


As I sit down to write this, summer is over and we’re well into autumn. I try to ride all year here in eastern Pennsylvania, but from late fall until spring I have very little company on the road. Fall is a time when, on solo rides, you recall the trips of the past year. Today I was thinking about riding at the RoadRUNNER Touring Weekend this past August, and of one route in particular.

It had been a while since I’d attended the Touring Weekend and I was happy to be back helping out, meeting new people, and catching up with Christa, Florian, and the rest of the staff. I loved the journey across my home state to Bolivar, PA, although it was smoldering hot with temperatures near 100. No matter, I had four days to do nothing but ride, have fun, and talk motorcycles.

On the second day of the event I had the opportunity to ride with Yuval Naveh, who writes RoadRUNNER’s “Motorcyclist’s Guide to the Galaxy” series. Yuval is a software engineer, avid rider, and friend to everyone he meets. We were also roommates for the duration of the weekend. On this particular day we ended up in a group with three other riders and the five of us set off in the blazing sun to do the Flight 93 memorial tour. If you’ve visited the memorial in Shanksville, PA, I’m sure you found it as moving as I did. I didn’t expect to be as affected as I was; but walking on the path the plane took and reaching the viewing platform I was struck by the beauty of the place. It was hillier than I had imagined, breezy, and beautiful. I could smell summer in the air, and the wildflower scent carried on the wind.

That such obscene and inhumane ugliness could happen in such a place really affected me and I felt nothing but sadness. I heard my friend Yuval say quietly, “beautiful, very respectful,” and we spoke about the tragedy that took place there as well as others he had lived through in his native Israel, where, sadly, such things had happened more often.


Out on that platform overlooking the crash site I had a sense that everyone felt a similar sadness and so the smiles among strangers came easily. Everyone spoke softly, respectfully, conscious that this was a place to share and process grief for people none of us had known but whom we nonetheless hurt for. Sometimes just being in the presence of others feeling the same confusing rush of emotions is a great comfort. That’s certainly how it was for me.

When we rolled out on that bright, cloudless day, I was happy to be with our group but also thankful to have the silence inside my helmet for a while to make the transition from sadness back to the joy of the ride. I was glad to have visited the memorial and rode away moved but grateful for the day, the weather, the trip, that evening’s dinner with new friends. I felt eager to experience whatever came my way. Visiting a scene of such tragedy has a way of inviting joy, or at least making you appreciate life in a way few other things can.

A few hours later we passed an idyllic, calm lake, so we stopped for a break. It didn’t take long for us to agree that a swim was in order, so (with consent from our female companion whom we didn’t wish to offend) we stripped down and jumped in to cool off, scaring away a pair of fishermen in the process. After a few photos and some time to dry off we hit the road again.

Miles later and with a storm closing in on us, our GPS systems failed one by one. One failed to charge and the others routed us in circles. As the storm engulfed us we took refuge under a bridge for the 10 minutes it took to pass and for the sun to return. Then we were off again to find our way back home. What made this ride memorable was the range of situations and emotions the five of us (who for the most part had never met each other until that day) experienced together. We went from the excited anticipation of a day of riding, to sadness at the memorial, to quiet reflection, to the childlike joy of jumping into a lake, to getting lost and caught in a storm.

The ride reminded me of why we do this; why we ride firstly and why we seek out others to ride with secondly. It occurred to me that two things are most certainly better when shared: sadness and joy. One is to be divided, and the other to be multiplied.


You can never prepare for what may come your way during any ride, but that’s part of the fun. On some you find out more about yourself, on others more about those you’re riding with. Mr. Twain was right, but his sentiment can be extended. Whatever you experience in life, be it sadness or joy, is always better when shared.


Weather On The Go

wbNow ScreenIf you’re anything like me you ride often, whether weekend day trips, daily commuting or extended multi-day trips. I commute in southeastern Pennsylvania throughout the year which means I ride in all types of weather, rain, occasionally snow, fog, high winds. Now on weekend rides or day trips that’s fine; but one thing I don’t do is commute in bad weather. My work occasionally involves being outside and I prefer not to have to deal with inclement weather on work days and the requisite clothing considerations that entails. With that in mind I’ve been using the WeatherBug weather app for a while now and with good results.

The widget on my Galaxy S5 (which I refer to often without ever needing to open the app) is unobtrusive and (more…)

The Means To Notice It All

The article “The Means To Notice It All” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 9/22/2016.

This past Mother’s Day, my girlfriend Erica and I rode to a farm not far from my home that she had lived on for a time. We were visiting the owner, Sally, who Erica had grown close to during the time she spent there and who she’s remained friends with ever since. As I approached on the cycle down a long, narrow, winding gravel driveway and under an idyllic train trestle, I spotted horses and donkeys in the fields, chicken coops and tractor barns, all the stuff of a working farm. The sky wasn’t looking so good, but it was a May day, I’ve ridden in the rain before, and besides, the dark clouds and winds created the kind of weather I’ve always loved riding in.

the-meansSally, a strong, no-nonsense woman, appeared to be close to my mother Mary’s age. She actually reminded me a bit of my mom. A bird had made a nest in a broken light fixture on her porch and laid eggs. Sally saw to it that the switch to the light was disabled and a sign was posted warning visitors to use the side door lest they suffer the wrath of a mother protecting her young.

I sat on the floor as we spoke, petting Sally’s huge, fleshy-faced English Mastiff. We covered a lot of topics. Sally is sharp, up-front, an avid reader, and direct, the sort of person I love talking to. I got the feeling that with her there are no games or fear of offending, just smart conversation. Eventually the talk turned to motorcycles, and (more…)

Waiting Out Winter

I came across this video on vimeo. It’s late February here in northeast Pa., there’s snow and ice on the ground making riding impossible so this video struck home.

WAITING OUT WINTER from Andrew David Watson on Vimeo.

A homage to all craftspeople who spend their winters tucked inside their workshops waiting for better weather.

Brought to you by: Cast & Salvage /// www.castandsalvage.com
Directed by: Andrew David Watson /// www.andrewdavidwatson.com
Music by: Huma-Huma /// www.huma-huma.com
Radio Voice Over by: Blake Delong

SaddleSol Now Available

SaddleSolSaddleSol® (patent pending) is a motorcycle seat protector of our own invention. SaddleSol® protects a motorcycle seat from heat and moisture while the bike is not being ridden. Tired of wiping down a seat damp from dew in the morning when you are away on a tour or after you’re caught in a surprise storm? Have you ever burned yourself when mounting up after a lunch or rest stop during the hottest days of the year? Tired of trying to find room to store a bike cover and fumbling with it while you get wet? These are the problems SaddleSol® was invented to address. SaddleSol® is a “drop it in place and go” solution.

SaddleSol® will:

  • Deflect heat from the sun which keeps your seat cool to the touch.
  • Keep your seat dry by shielding it from dew and rain.
  • Save storage space when you are touring when compared to a bike cover. At 12″x14″ (Sport) or 12″x17″ (Touring) and 1/4″ thick SaddleSol® can be easily stowed in a saddlebag and takes up very little space.
  • Allow you to drop it in place and walk away. There are no clips or elastic or attachments of any kind. Simply place it on your seat when you leave the bike. When you return your seat will be dry and cool. SaddleSol® will cool a burning hot seat in the time it takes you to put on your helmet and gloves (2 minutes on average).

SaddleSol® can only be purchased through Zen Motorcyclist via PayPal using the link below. There are 2 size options, Sport (12″x14″) and Touring (12″x17″) with black trim, additional trim color options and sizes will be added at a later date.

Select Size

SaddleSol® uses need not be limited to motorcycles. They could also be used in cars, on boats or ATV’s, riding mowers, tractors, outdoor seating or in any other situation in which the sun heats a surface you wish to keep cool and dry. We are looking for partners to mass produce and market the idea. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. Interested parties can contact us for details and information.

SaddleSol® – Cool Where It Counts

Stellapina Harley Short Film

I came across this video promoting Roberto Rossi Harley Davidson in Italy on Pinterest and thought it worth sharing. Stellapina means Alpine Star. The Stellapina is a sportster modified for mountain rides. This video is excellent in every aspect with great music and sound and fantastic views. The Harley sounds amazing too…


Tips for riding in the rain…

I had occasion this morning to ride in a steady rain that began long before I left the house. Special care needs to be taken when riding in the rain. That said, if proper precautions are taken you can ride just as well when it’s wet as you can when it’s dry.

Here are some tips that may come in handy if you plan to venture out in the rain:

  • If possible wait 30 – 60 minutes before venturing out. That allows some time for the rain to wash away and dilute oils and dirt from the road surface. Roads are especially slick 30 minutes and more after a rain shower starts.
  • Allow your tires time to warm up and provide better traction before riding too fast, turning too sharply or braking too harshly. Warm tires grip better than dry ones.
  • Whenever possible avoid manhole covers, inlets and anything painted. Rain makes these things particularly slippery.
  • If you don’t have waterproof boots get a pair of boot covers. Tourmaster makes a great pair for around $25. Wet boots don’t dry quickly. These things are invaluable to a commuter.
  • If you’ve put on rain gear and the rain stops, leave the rain gear on. If you don’t the rain will begin again the second you stow your gear (it’s happened to me many times).
  • If your boots get wet pack them with newspaper to help them dry.
  • If the rain becomes too severe and diminishes visibility pull off and wait it out. If you’re having trouble seeing other motorists they’re having trouble seeing you and it’s not worth the risk.
  • Watch out for standing water. Standing water hides potholes and other surface anomalies that can be treacherous. If you have to go through it stand on the pegs to absorb any shock you may get from whatever may be lurking under the water.
  • If you’re like me and ride in the rain often some strategically placed reflective tape (mine is on the back of my saddle bags) will serve to make you more visible to motorists.

If you take precautions you can ride dry and arrive safely in rainy weather.

Ride safe.