Saturday, July 18, 2015

50,000 Miles

I predicted that this would occur on August 30, 2015.

It actually happened a little before that, on July 13, at 9:46 AM, to be exact.

For those of you who don't know, I started riding a motorcycle in late 2007, at the then youthful age of 57.  I had been thinking about it for a long time, and finally asked a colleague at work whether he thought I could learn to ride.  He gave me the encouragement.  Thank you, Jeff

I took the MSF Basic Riders Class, bought an almost new motorcycle, and set out to learn how to ride it.

Along the way, I have met people I would otherwise not have met.  A few of them have helped me with my riding technique.  I thank you for that, Ryan, especially. 

I had some success learning to ride the bike, with a few failures here and there.

I have gone places I otherwise might not have. Some of those places are chronicled here in this blog of mine, along with the progression of learning how to ride, and a few other topics that interest me and maybe you, too. 

I have, at times, been frustrated by my slow uptake on some riding techniques, and I will never be a highly-skilled rider capable of breathtaking speeds on twisty roads. Nevertheless, I have had some good times on it. 

I still have that same motorcycle, the only one I have ever owned, a 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 650R.  

Well, except for this little guy that I built with my brother and rode as a teenager. 

Licensed for street use, I might point out.

I never thought it would come this far, but I have now ridden my Ninja   

....50,000 miles!....

(The bike has a few more miles on it than that, since I bought it used, so that is how far I have ridden it.) 

Just how far is 50,000 miles?

Well, lets compare that to circumnavigating the earth.  (If you consult the nearest globe you will find that there is actually some water in the way of doing this, in places.)  The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 kilometers). 

So, I have ridden a little more than twice that far. 

How about the distance to the moon?  The average distance to the moon is 238,855 miles (384,400 km). 

So I have gone about 20% of the way to the moon. 

How about some other statistics? 

I have had the bike out of the garage 633 times, and have averaged 6400 miles per year.  That average should be going up now that I am riding more often since my retirement from the job. 

Where did this auspicious milestone occur?

The 50,000 mile mark occurred on a very twisty road northwest of Rosman, NC. Silversteen Road is a two lane with good surface and very little traffic.  I wrote about it some time back.  There are lots of twisty roads around there. Watch for a little gravel and sand in places by scouting it out on your first pass, then repeating traverses to your heart's content. 

The exact place of the achievement was at Silversteen and Diamond Creek Road. 

(No, I didn't try to tear down the street sign to take it home.)
Right here on the map: 

This occurred during a short 106-mile ride that continued on to the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, or PARI for short.  I have been there before, but it is still a very unexpected and interesting place -- a spacecraft tracking station, later a satellite intelligence gathering station. 

This is what you see when you first enter the complex, an 85 foot diameter dish, one of two that are identical here. 

Here is the other one, with a smiling friend nearby. 

The smaller dish with the smiley face was painted that way when the station became a satellite intelligence station.  You see, they were tracking and intercepting data from satellites including those of Russia.  They knew the foreign satellites were photographing the site.  They painted the face so the Russians had something to look at.  The little dish is now controlled from the Internet so students anywhere can direct it. 

Read more about PARI here, and here, and here

How has the motorcycle performed, Bucky?

The only troubles from the motorcycle have been the fuel pump failure and water pump coolant and oil seal leakage.  Major maintenance has been a couple of chains, a set of sprockets, brake pads, valve clearance adjustment, and five sets of tires.  I'd say it has been relatively trouble free.  It still runs like a top.  

In operation, it can do way more than my brain will allow my body to do with it when I'm riding.  For a relatively inexpensive bike, it has great performance capabilities, while being much more forgiving of ham-handed throttle twisting than a 600 or 1000 cc race bike.  The ergonomics are good enough that an older rider like me can ride it comfortably for 80 or 100 miles before a break. 

Is the bike used up?  I don't think so.  There are several guys online who have ridden their similar bikes upwards of 100,000 miles (160,934 km). 

Previous milestones:

What's next?
Well, I still enjoy riding, so I will probably keep it up for a while.  Some of my friends encourage me to look at a cruiser next, since I am getting so "up in age," according to them.  (Funny, I haven't noticed that.) 

I'll keep on writing here as interesting things come to mind, especially landmarks and good roads. 

Here is my entire route today, along with a blowup of the twistiest parts: 

The 50,000 mile mark was hit at location 2 on the map above.  PARI is at location 3. 

See you on the [hopefully long] road ahead. 

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1 comment:

SonjaM said...

Congrats on that epic milestone, and on the same bike no less ;-)

Wishing you many more miles and smiles. Here's to the next 50K.