Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rocket Pack Jack

Last week, I had a chance to help out on something a little out of the ordinary.  It was only the second time I have done this in my life, though I probably should have been doing it more often. 

This time I got to be Rocket Pack Jack. 

[You got to be what, Bucky?]

Rocket Pack Jack. 

Don’t know who that is? 

Well, let me tell you. 

He looks like this:

A little bit of an unusual motorcycle outfit.  Right? 

Probably.  But it is a little more. 

Now, how about this guy? 

Same thing, maybe.

Let's see who these people are.

Every summer, our church holds Bible School for a week, and there is a theme each year to get the kids – ages 0 through 99 – engaged. 

Now, Rocket Pack Jack is a superhero character who stars in a save-the-day video, and in some of the materials used during the week.  Here's the video cover:

Well, I thought the character's getup looked enough like a motorcycle suit that I played Rocket Pack Jack one evening.  Incognito, of course.  Nobody would suspect that ol' Bucky's alter ego was really Jack.  


That night, I arrived on the bike, parked it square in front of the church on the sidewalk, and high-fived and shook hands with most of the kids and adults as they were coming and going. 

The kids, especially, thought that was great.  They readily engaged with Jack. Some of the adults, not so much.  They weren't really sure who I was supposed to be, but went along anyway. 

By the way, the theme this year was called Agency 3D.

It is a sort of investigator thing where the kids search for clues like a detective would do.  This time, though, it was to prove that Jesus was a real human being, that he died, and was resurrected again for our salvation: That he was the real deal. 

Here’s the way it unfolded during the week:

    Day 1 - Is Jesus really God's Son?
    Day 2 - Was Jesus more than just a good man?
    Day 3 - Was Jesus' death real?
    Day 4 - Is Jesus alive?
    Day 5 - What do I do with the evidence about Jesus?

Let’s go back to the 3Ds.  They stand for Discover, Decide, and Defend
In other words you Discover that he was a real guy – actually God’s son sent to earth to redeem sinners.  You also discover that he was unfairly tried and brutally killed, but arose from the dead again.  That last part is the important one.  No other god has ever done that. 

By so doing, he has taken the punishment that we would otherwise be subject to. 

Taking the punishment we deserve happens if you believe that he is who he is, that what happened really happened, and that the only way to get to heaven is to believe all this and accept Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior. 

Look here:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.  (John 3:16)
That sounds good, doesn't it? 

In our Bible School, all the evidence was presented.  Then you were invited to Decide whether to accept the evidence.  If you do, you are in. In heaven, you can be a perfect motorcycle rider – or perfect at anything else you want to. 


If not, well, that’s when only burning fires await you for all eternity after you leave your scooter behind on this earth. 

Not good. 

Once you have decided – and provided you have made the right decision; to believe that Jesus is your Savior – then it is your task to introduce that faith to others.  You Defend it, in other words. 

See how it works?  Discover, Decide, and Defend

Remember, none of us is promised another minute of life on this earth.  You could pass on into eternity before you finish reading this.  The next turn in the road could be your last. 

If you have not yet discovered and decided, what are you waiting on? 

…and, what does it hurt to do it?  Why not?  Sort of like insurance – fire insurance, in fact. 

Oh, wait a sec.  I have to go get my rocket pack back on.  Now! 

See you next time, 

Jack, Bucky

More Info:

■ "Salvation and forgiveness of sins is....about receiving Christ as Savior and recognizing that He has done all of the work for us. God [actually] requires [just] one step of us—receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and fully trusting in Him alone as the way of salvation. That is what distinguishes the Christian faith from all other world religions, each of which has a list of steps that must be followed in order for salvation to be received. The Christian faith recognizes that God has already completed the steps and simply calls on us to receive Him in faith." 

■ Agency D3 Videos: Intro, More Than Just a Good Man, We Stand, God's Son, He is King, He is Alive

■ Verse for the week – "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"  (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

■ Rocket Pack Jack and Agency 3D are Lifeway Christian Resources trademarked names. 
My alter ego with the "real" Rocket Pack Jack

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Unused Tread Width -- aka Chicken Strips!

Before we get to the topic at hand, remember that today is Flag Day, a commemoration of that symbol of the greatness of these United States.

Those of us who live here have the distinct honor and privilege of doing so.  Nowhere else on God's green earth is there as much freedom and opportunity as here.

Salute the Stars and Stripes today -- and every day -- while you are out on the scooter. 


Last Saturday, I rode up US-178, NC-215, and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, riding all the way to its south end at Cherokee, then returned by the same route.

I am fortunate that I am so near such good roads to ride, the Parkway being just a little over fifty miles from where I live -- and the roads to get there and back are mostly challenging, too.

It was a great day to ride, with the clouds high, white and billowy.   I stopped on the way to Cherokee at Waterrock Knob, which is not the highest elevation on the Parkway, but provides a good view of the surrounding countryside, the road in and out, and of the town of Cherokee. 

Amongst the roads I traveled were US-178 and NC-215.  178 includes a series of curves near where the photographer Patrick Welch has stationed himself on occasion to snap the passing traffic.

I took those curves at a substantial speed, it felt like.  (Though I don't pay too much attention to the speedo when I am watching the road in a curve, especially a tight one.)  I also took one curve on the Parkway a little hotter than I felt comfortable with, but I held the throttle constant and there was no drama, except a little higher heart rate.

When you get into a situation where you are outside your comfort zone, the innate response is to chop the throttle and get on the binders.  Bad, bad, bad.  Somebody once said that motorcycle cycle riding is not intuitively understood -- you are not born knowing how to ride.  You have to learn it.  I believe that.

...and this advice helps a lot, too:
That's another thing you have to learn that isn't intuitive. 

Anyway, when I got home, I backed the bike into the garage and happened to notice the scuffed-up tread on my tires. 

I had not seen that before, at least not on my tires.  Only on other people's. 


I decided to look over the remaining unused tread width on my tires -- my chicken strips -- and wondered whether they are any narrower than the last time I measured.
Burger King
No, no, not that kind. 

If you don't know, motorcycle chicken strips are here defined by  on

Definition: The unworn edges of a motorcycle tire, usually used in a derogatory tone referring to the rider's unwillingness to lean a bike over.
Pronunciation: chik-uhn strips
Examples: Billy was ostracized by his riding buddies because his bike's chicken strips were so wide.
Now that we have that understood, I go to get my scale out of my shop drawer and get to measuring.  We have to be accurate in such things, you know. 

I find the following: 
Front -- Michelin Pilot Road 3, 0.45" width
on both sides of the tire. 
Rear -- Michelin Pilot Road 2, 0.5" width
on both sides of the tire
OK.  Now what do I compare them with?  

If it is other people's sportbike tires, there is no contest.  Some of these riders are aggressive enough that they have no chicken strips at all.  Their tires are worn all the way to the edge of the tread.

Now, I have heard that some squids take a sander to their tires to make it look like their chicken strips are narrow.  See below:

by Craigman on the PA Sportbikes forum.

Tools required...Belt sander, propane torch, and Nike gloves! 
Ashamed of your chicken strips? I can help!! DIY!  

First step..Sand chicken strips off!

Second step..Heat your tires so they appear to have been heat cycled..A faint blue strip will appear. DO NOT IGNITE THE TIRE!! this adds a touch of authenticity!

Put on your Nike gloves and [go to] the local hangout and impress your Squid friends with your new found..SKILLZ!

But that's cheating, don't you think?  

Back to real chicken strips.... 

The poor little Michelin Man (circled below) that is perfectly formed in the sides of my tire is scrubbed completely off of some of the tires of very aggressive riders.  

My Michelin Man is still intact, though his upraised hand is a little bit in jeopardy. 
Bibendum, commonly referred to as the Michelin Man, is the symbol of the
Michelin tire company. Introduced at the Lyon Exhibition of 1894 where the
Michelin brothers had a stand, Bibendum is one of the world's oldest trademarks. 

Here's what that rear tire looked like when it was nice and shiny.  Hadn't touched the road yet. 
That was 6100 miles ago.

I looked back on some previous measurements I took in February of 2009.  The chicken strips on my then-new Michelin Pilot Road 2s were:

Front -- Michelin Pilot Road 2, 1/2" width.  That is a tenth of an inch wider than now. 
Rear -- Michelin Pilot Road 2,  7/8" width.  That is a whopping 3/8" wider than now. 
Those strips were measured just after a 260-mile ride into Georgia, through Clayton and over Blood Mountain.  Back then, I had only ridden about 9500 miles on the Ninja 650R, my first real motorcycle. 

Well, I can see that I have been a little more aggressive lately.

Funny thing:  I don't feel myself tightening up on the bars as much as I once did.  Sometimes, but much less often.  ...and my chicken strips are narrower now.  That seems like progress to me. 

It amazes me how sticky a set of road tires can be on a road that is clean of sand and other debris.  I don't consciously try to erase my chicken strips, but I do try to control my turns.  I now see that those turns must be a little more aggressive than before.

Hmmmm.  Maybe a track school is in order -- the beginner class, of course.

How about you?  Are your chicken strips getting narrower?