Time for my Birthday Bash!

0

Well, there are only a couple more days until the end of my year of riding to work every day! I started my adventure April 12, 2013. That’s my birthday. I’ll be 60 this Saturday. (I hate to admit that.)

We’re having a big “Crazy Kurt Birthday Bash” this Saturday at Hayden Honda. If you ride your bike to Hayden Honda this Saturday we’ll give you a free door prize. Plus, we’ll register you to win a free DVD of the new movie Why You Ride. It’s a great movie!

This year has definitely been an adventure. I had gotten out of the riding habit. It was much easier to hop in the car. I’m glad I decided to do my year-long ride. It would have been nice if it hadn’t been the coldest/snowiest winter in the last several decades, but that’s what made it an adventure.

Not only did I start riding again, I got the experience of riding many different Honda models. This allowed me to be much more knowledgeable about these units when talking to customers.

Most of all, it was fun!

I plan to keep riding this spring and summer. Maybe not every day, but as much as I can. What I look forward to is not having to ride my bike to or from work and then taking the truck to pick up or deliver stuff that I’m unable to carry on the bike. There were some days I would take something home in the truck then have to drive back to work and ride my bike home, sometimes in the rain. Now I can just stay home and not worry about making sure get my bike home.

Oh, by the way, this week I started wearing my summer helmet. Today was the first day in over four months I wore my summer gloves. Yesterday, I even rode without gloves! Spring is here!

I’ll post a couple more blogs about my fuel savings and the weather data I collected over the past year. It’s just going to take a while to compile the data.

Make sure you stop in this Saturday and say hi!

 

Finally…Spring riding weather!

0

Look Mom! Normal shoes!

Look Mom! Normal shoes!

Wow! Spring might actually be coming! Tuesday was the first time in four months I’ve worn tennis shoes. Yeah, I know they aren’t as safe as boots, but that’s the way I roll. Also, when I arrived at work I only took off my helmet and one jacket. I usually take off one jacket, a heated vest, First Gear pants, a balaclava, and a scarf. I even had one less layer on under my shirt.

This is really nice. Riding is now almost fun, not a challenge of getting dressed warmly enough and/or surviving bad roads. I’m looking forward to riding in nice weather, to being able to go around corners at a normal speed and not worrying about ice, snow, gravel, or my studs. I’m also looking forward to test driving some of Honda’s new models coming out this spring. I just have to wait until the salt is off the roads and the weather is normal. If that ever happens. I’m getting tired of the studded CRF230 and the sidecar-ed Helix. They worked great for the winter months, but hopefully that’s soon over.

I have less than 10 days left to complete my year of driving motorcycles to work. My year will be over on April 12th! We’re planning a big Crazy Kurt’s Birthday Bash for Saturday the 12th. Stop in, enjoy some birthday cake, and say hi to a crazy person! We’ll also be giving away some door prizes to people who ride their bikes in.

Of course, it’ll probably snow that day.

Hope to see you on the 12th!

Epic Fail!

0

IMG_1731Yesterday morning’s ride was an Epic Fail! Let me explain. I’ve been riding my CRF230 with studded tires since December. It rides better on bad roads, but it’s more stressful than riding my wife’s Helix with sidecar. The Helix can’t fall over.

When the nice weather arrived, I got out the Helix. It was fun to ride. The first day I took the highway to work and rode over 55 mph. That’s faster than I’ve ridden in over two months. It was like summertime.

That lasted two days. Then came another forecast of snow. I had to decide—stay on the Helix or go back to the CRF230. Comfort and stability, or traction and stress. I chose comfort and stability. I thought since it’s been warm, the snow wouldn’t stick to the roads when it first started to snow.

I was wrong. By the time I started for work, we had 3-4 inches of snow, and the first inch had turned to ice. I barely got the Helix down my driveway. Then I attempted the snow-covered icy roads. I had absolutely no traction. The first half mile is downhill, but I barely made it to the top of the first hill. Down that hill I went, then I lost all traction. I couldn’t even get to the next uphill before I came to a standstill. I was screwed. I couldn’t get up the next hill and there was no way I could get back to our driveway.

Luckily, my wife was driving our Honda Element behind me. I decided to have her try to push me. The bumper lined up just right to the Helix’s. She pushed me up the next hill and every other slight incline! Of the six miles I travel to get to work, she probably had to push me half of the way. At one time, we had four to six cars behind us. It was very embarrassing. To cap it all off, my wife had to push me across part of Hayden Honda’s parking lot. Epic Fail!

Obviously, I rode the CRF230 home, even though the roads were now 98% snow free and dry.  There was only one 20 yard section of snow. Oh!  But wait! We’re expecting below zero temperature tonight.

AARRGG! Hate that groundhog!

What’s next? Frogs from the sky?!

0

photoI’ve been riding since April 12th, 2013. I have less than two months to go. Whoever thought this winter would be so…so…outrageously wintery!  We’re only three inches shy of the snowiest winter on record for the Fort Wayne area, and this January was the snowiest month on record, with over 30 inches of snowfall. So far, this winter has been the 5th coldest ever. The average temperature has been 20.2 degrees, which is 7 degrees below normal. I’ve ridden 15 days in below zero temperatures. The lowest was -16 degrees!

After this week, I thought I was past the subzero temperatures. Then I looked at the weather prediction for next week—possible single digits days and maybe even negatives again! Great.

I’ve enjoyed the above freezing temperatures we’ve had the last couple days. The first day was very weird. It was a Saturday afternoon. It was both sunny and warm! Definitely not what I was used to. I could even ride at almost normal speeds and didn’t have to watch out for snowy areas on the road. It was definitely an improvement.

Yesterday I rode home at 6:30 pm. It was still light out and I could see a blue ski! Spring is coming, I think. In Indiana, you know spring is close when you have a major snow storm, eight inches overnight, roads are drifted shut and they call off school, then later the same day, it’s above freezing and the snow has all but melted off most the roads.

The days are getting longer. Spring is coming. I hope.

Thursday morning, though, was even more bizarre! The road was covered with deep water puddles, slushy ice, and glare ice. It was hard to see the difference between them with my rain-splattered face shield. It was raining hard with two to three feet of snow alongside the road. Then there was lightning and thunder! It was not your normal day’s motorcycle ride. My two rainiest rides have been in January and today.

I’m expecting to see frogs fall from the sky soon.

Have you ever ridden an ATV to work? I have!

0

February 4

I’m writing this at night while it’s snowing hard. The experts are predicting 5-9 inches of snow in the next 12 hours.

I’m way past wanting more snow. The groundhog just saw his shadow! The little varmit should be shot, thrown in a compost pile, and burned! It seems he could see his shadow at midnight during a solar eclipse! I’m done with this snow and cold.

Sorry. I had to get that rant out.

I’ve ordered more tire studs because mine are getting pretty worn down, but they didn’t come in today! I’m not looking forward to riding in 6+ inches of fresh snow on top of ice. It gets very tiring having my feet out for six miles of riding. I may ride my TRX420 into work tomorrow instead. It’s a little harder to fall over on a four-wheeler.

If we have 6+ inches in the morning, the roads will be pretty bad and schools will be closed. It will be pretty easy to get into work on the ATV because the roads will be unplowed and empty. Coming home might be a problem, though, if they get the roads cleaned up in the afternoon. Probably two miles of the trip is legal, but not the rest. Plus, I’ll have to go 1-2 miles on the berm of SR 3. Kinda iffy.

I have to try it once, at least. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here's what I rode to work!

Here’s what I rode to work!

February 6

OK, we got lots of snow. I’d guess 8+ inches. I did ride my TRX into work. It has a plow on it, and even with the blade up, I was pushing snow while riding on the county rode. I had to stand up to not have snow blowing in my eyes the whole way! The ride on SR 3 wasn’t too bad. I got behind a couple cars and stayed right behind them doing about 35mph.

We weren’t busy at work (only crazy people were out) so we closed at 5pm. I got on SR 3 again. I had no cars behind me and rode 45+ mph right down the middle of the road. It was very strange, riding an ATV with a plow down a state highway. Luckily, I didn’t see any police cars.

Looks like we are going to have to deal with this winter weather ALL winter!

 

More cold riding

1

I just rode home in -2 degree weather. That’s warm compared to the -14 this morning. Tomorrow it should be up to -1 or maybe even 0. Wow! It’s been exciting. Actually, once you experience a big negative number while riding, everything else is just routine. You know it can be done. You just have to prepare for it.

Preparation includes: Regular winter dress (First Gear pants, three layers on the upper body, heated vest, winter jacket, helmet, and balaclava) plus long underwear on the legs, long-sleeve shirt, snow boots, heated vest turned to high, and warm gloves. After I put everything on, I move around inside for a couple minutes to build up heat within all the layers. I even put my gloves on and clench my hands for awhile to get circulation going and to build up heat inside the gloves. I don’t even feel like I’m outside for about a mile!

Something else I’ve figured out is not to go faster than 20mph. Under 20-25mph, I don’t seem to get nearly as cold as when I go over 20mph. The wind chill factor is much more prevalent over 25mph.

A trick I learned just today is how to grip the handlebars so my hands/fingers don’t get as cold. Instead of gripping the handlebars with all my fingers, I try to keep my fingers straighter, keeping my fingers in the center of my gloves’ finger holes. Not pushing hard on the gloves’ insulation helps keep the blood flowing and leaves an area for warm air. This morning, at -15 degrees, my fingers didn’t get cold at all until I had to stop and remove my gloves to wipe the frost from my face shield. During the ride I had to clean the shield with my fingers three times!

My face shield fogging up and freezing over is my biggest issue in subzero temperature. It’s really a pain. Riding in bad road conditions and not being able to see properly do not go together. The only way to stop it is to buy a heated shield you plug into the battery. Or you can do what I do now—stop, take my glove off, and wipe the shield with my fingers until the frost melts. It usually comes back quickly because the moisture is still there.

I added another 25+ studs in my front tire. I think that really helped during the last big snowfall. My current ones have really worn down. I’m going to have to order another pack of 250 to install because this weather isn’t going away any time soon.

Once again I’d like to apologize for causing all this cold weather. I expect a wet spring also.

A Man on a Mission

0

2014-01-24 15.11.15During the long winter months, most people’s instinct is to stay inside, keep warm, and hibernate until spring. But not Hayden Honda owner Kurt Hayden. He’s out on his motorcycle in sub-zero conditions.

Is he crazy? Probably. But it’s part of his year-long mission to ride his motorcycle to work every day until his 60th birthday.

“It’s a challenge,” Hayden says. It’s one he took before, the year before his 50th birthday, but this winter’s been especially brutal.

“It’s so cold because I decided to ride this year,” he jokes. “I’m single-handedly stopping global warming.”

He’s figured out how to keep warm, though, even on the coldest days. He wears three layers on his upper body, a heated vest, a jacket, riding pants, a snowmobile helmet, and a balaclava with neckerchief. Oh, and a good pair of gloves. That’s vital.

The cold, though, is not his main concern any longer. “It’s not about the temperature,” Hayden claims. “It’s about the road conditions.”

He’s currently riding a Honda CRF230M with studded tires to help with the snow. He’s fine on ice with 120 studs per tire, but the snow’s a different story.

“In deep or loose snow, [my tires] have nothing to dig into,” he writes on his blog, www.crazykurt.com. “That causes the front wheel to slide sideways and causes me to stress out. I don’t bounce anymore, I just go crunch!” Luckily, he hasn’t actually dropped his bike yet.

While the CRF230M gets him down the snowy roads, he’s ridden nine different motorcycles and scooters since he started last April.

“It’s a great way to test new products,” he says. “I have more personal experience to share with my customers.”

Before he settled into his winter gear, his go-to rides for inclement weather were a used 750 Magna and his wife’s Helix scooter with sidecar. The Magna’s windshield offers good wind protection and the Helix’s sidecar gives great stability in slippery weather.

Not every day is a trial, of course. One of Kurt’s favorite rides was after the Noble County Community Fair last July. On the way home it struck him how beautiful the ride was.

On another sunny day he was riding a 49cc Honda Metropolitan. The slow pace through town and down country roads was particularly relaxing.

“It’s not just about proving it can be done,” Hayden says about his challenge. “Riding my bike every day makes daily life interesting.”

It also makes him appreciate the little things, like storage space. “It’s tough to conveniently do errands or take items home on most bikes,” he admits.

His journey ends April 12, but there’s sure to be plenty of snow, rain, fog, and brilliant spring sun before then.

“I may be crazy,” he says, “but I really enjoy it.”

You can keep up with Kurt’s adventures at www.crazykurt.com or on Hayden Honda’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/haydenhonda). You can also sign up for email updates at www.crazykurt.com.

Cold and Slippery

0

Well, the last few weeks have been interesting! And cold! And slippery! I haven’t written much lately because my fingers are numb. Okay, not really. I’ve just been busy. And perfecting my procrastination habit.

I’ve ridden every work day since April, but January has been the most interesting. First, we had 12+ inches of snow. Then it got very cold. I rode in deep snow. Not fun. Then I rode in -16 degree weather. Not fun, either. But I’ll take cold weather over deep snow any day. I can handle the cold. The -16 degree weather wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but deep snow with tire tracks or loose snow is stressful. Hard packed snow or ice is OK.

I have 100 tire studs in each of my tires. They are like sheet metal screws screwed into my tire knobs. They get decent traction on hard surfaces, and they can dig into ice or solid snow. But in deep or loose snow, they have nothing to dig into. That causes the front wheel to slide sideways and causes me to stress out. I don’t bounce anymore, I just go crunch!

Icy conditions are fine, though, because I get great traction. One day on US 6 a truck was just sitting at the stoplight, spinning his tires. I drove right by on my motorcycle.

I’ve posted several videos online of me riding in the snow. I can only get 4-6 minutes of the ride because the cold shuts down my camera. See them here.

I seemed to have figured out how to keep warm—three layers on the upper body, a set of First Gear riding pants, a good snowmobile jacket. Oh, and a battery-powered heated vest. Also, a good pair of gloves (that’s vital) and a snowmobile helmet with balaclava and neckerchief.

It’s interesting when I get cold and when I don’t. I’ve gotten cold when it’s 20 degrees and I’ve been fine when it’s 0 degrees. My theory is the wind chill. When it gets really cold I tend to ride slower compared to higher temperatures—15 mph when it’s 0 and 30 mph when it’s 20 degrees. The wind chill might make the difference.

Also, the stress of bad road conditions tends to take my mind off the fact my fingers are numb.

Today’s it’s below 0 again. Good thing I’m getting used to it.

Brrrrr!!

0

Wow! That was slick!

That’s what I was thinking while riding the last couple days. Slick. The roads have been snow-covered and very slick. Luckily, I’m on a bike with a sidecar. That makes it a little harder to fall over.

My Helix has a small rear tire that really doesn’t put much rubber on the ground. The other morning I could feel the tire spinning while going up a hill out in the country by my house. The next hill was even taller, so I sped up–until I was going way faster than I probably should go–to make sure I topped the hill. I could feel the tire spin the last 1/3 of the incline.

When I got into town I blew through the first stop sign. I’d put on the rear brake, but it didn’t make a difference. So I just slid right through. Luckily, no one was coming.

On some roads I could turn the handlebar back and forth, right and left, and it didn’t make any difference. Slippery.

It’s been cold, but when it’s that slippery the cold doesn’t bother me because I’m concentrating on driving. There’s no time to think about cold. Plus, I’ve got the clothing pretty much under control: riding pants, heated vest, a good warm jacket, and good gloves. Even at 8 degrees it really wasn’t bad.

I’m preparing a street-legal dirt bike with studded tires for my next ride. This should solve the ice/snow slippery roads. But then I don’t have any wind protection, so the wind chill factor will definitely figure in.

The next day it was -3 degrees during the ride to work. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be! I heated up my vest and zipped in my riding pants liner, which made a big difference. I found a “leak” between the back of my helmet and my jacket collar. Thank goodness for the windshield!

They’re predicting 3-6 inches of snow for Friday night. I need to get the “new” bike’s tires studded soon. I may also try to get some video of my rides soon.

Remember to like Hayden Honda on Facebook to get daily updates as the weather gets interesting.

Earning the name Crazy Kurt

0

photo (4)

Wow! The weather stepped up a level. Well, actually, I should say it stepped down a level.

One day, low 20s. Next day, lots of snow! It’s getting serious now.

With the new weather, I noticed something interesting. I was riding my 750 Magna to work in the morning. It was in the low 20s and spitting snow. Every time a car was sitting at a corner when I passed, the driver would watch me as I drove by. Not just glance at me but stare the whole time I was in his vision. I could just see him thinking, “That guy is crazy.” If I had been riding a scooter, he might have felt sorry for me, but since I was riding a bike, I was just a crazy guy riding in 20 degree weather and snow. These “looks” will get even more intense as the weather gets worse.

The next day I got to work with no problems, but during the day we got several large lake effect snow squalls. About 3 pm, the snow stopped and the sun came out. I was a little worried about the drive home. I decided to ride through town, thinking the speed would be slower and the highway might have more snow on it.

That was not a good choice. The roads in town were wet in the areas the sun hit but icy in the shade! At 3:30 pm the sun was getting pretty low, so there were lots of shady areas—icy areas. Every tree trunk shadow meant two feet of ice. Downtown buildings: lots of shade, lots of ice. I never got cold on that ride because I was concentrating on not sliding down the road. The county roads were better. I made it home OK, but it was the scariest ride of the year.

Because of that ride in the snow I have switched to my wife’s Helix with a sidecar. With the sidecar it’s a little harder to tip over. I can still slide around but won’t fall over. I’ll ride it when the road is going to be slippery.

When the snow gets deep I’ll switch my ride again. More info on that ride later.