Stalled Pt 2

My son made his first New Year’s Resolution this year.  I asked if the kids had any more or less as a goof.  They’re kids, what kind of changes would they really want to make in their lives?

But my son said he wanted to run a 5K.

He’s never shown any interest in running and I’m not one of those parents that force their own activities on the kids.  I mean, sometimes I try to influence them, sure, but I don’t think I force anything.

Anyway, yeah.  He wanted to run a 5K.

I downloaded a Couch to 5K app that I used when I was going through physical therapy with good success and we started going out three times a week.

The structure of the program is very simple for about half of the eight weeks you’re supposed to take to finish it.  There are breaks in between the runs and you’re only increasing your running duration minimally.  Make no mistake: you are making progress.  It’s just easy to look down on it since there are walking breaks between.

Until week 5, that is.  Then you have to do a run with no breaks.  Twenty minutes.

My son did the twenty minutes with no problem, but then he started to waiver and started to think about what else he could be doing with his time.  He could be playing video games or playing with action figures or something.  He could be climbing trees with his friends.  But instead, he’s out here with me sweating and trying to keep a good form and breathing pattern so he doesn’t cramp up.

And he thought about quitting.

We had a big talk about it.  He’s the kind of kid that really feels things out.  He takes in information, asks his questions, and then he disappears.  He might come back if he has more questions.  But eventually he emerges from wherever it is that he hides and declares his decision.

We talked about how everything in life requires practice and even those with talent only get a head start – they still have to develop that talent and shape it to carry them further.  And because everything requires work, there will always be a moment where you have to ask yourself whether what you’re doing is worth working on.  If it is, you continue on your way and you try your best and eventually build an accomplishment that is forever yours and no-one can take that away from you.

Or you can quit.  You can wait for something that is worth pushing through the hard work to get to.

But, I said, running is a pretty easy one to do because it only takes up a sliver of your day.  Forty-five minutes at most of your whole day spent running and, in return, you get stronger legs, lungs, heart, and maybe even a rush of endorphins and a runner’s high.  You build to a 5K and you’ll be the only kid on the block who runs 5Ks.  You’ll get medals and the work will be worth it because you’ll have this thing.

He decided to stick with it.

Through the year I’ve been gone a lot and, since I’m his running buddy, he couldn’t run alone and there were also times when he tripped on runs and had to take breaks or got sick.  For various reasons, it was only yesterday that we were on the last week.  We had one more prescribed run and then the next one should be a 5K.

We were taking it easy on the pace, making sure that he had the stamina to complete the prescribed 28 minutes of straight running.  We hit about 1.7 miles and he called out that he was feeling good.

Great.

Then he said we should just finish the 5K.

In my parental brain, I thought “why not?” I figured we could run until he couldn’t run anymore.  The furthest he had ever run was 2.4 miles so I braced myself for the eventual point where he says he can’t run anymore and started building up reassuring comments about trying your hardest and doing your best and that’s what really makes me proud.

But he did finish it.  We ran the whole 5K.  The distance even accommodated a quarter-mile warm-up walk so the total distance was 3.36 miles so he legitimately ran 3.11 miles on his own.

I couldn’t be more proud of him for sticking with it and doing this.  You could go on any Couch to 5K’s Facebook page and see adults asking people to motivate them to continue running because they’ve hit that point where it stops being easy and starts being work and here’s my son, eight years old, finishing his first 5K.

I was thinking about that a lot when I was stuck at a stop sign that I always seem to stall at, thinking about how cool Vespas are.  They’ve got great lines, built in storage, a USB charger and closed compartment for your phone, and a history that’s beyond awesome.

And they’re automatic, which means I would never have to worry about stalling at a stop sign again.

The stop sign in question is right down the road from my house.  For whatever miracle of a reason, I’m always able to get there and I think it’s because I don’t want my neighbors to see me struggling with the stupid clutch and this somehow triggers the instinct or repressed memories for the MSF Basic RiderCourse in my brain and allows me to get moving with minimal stalling.

It’s still embarrassing, though.  Nobody says they struggle with the clutch and part of my brain says this must be because they’re lying and trying to save face.  After all, you have a mostly male base in the motorcycle community which is already heavy on machismo and posturing in general with its vests, beards, loud pipes, or ridiculous top speeds.  It’s bro if there were ever bros to bro.

I’m not saying there aren’t women or anything – I’m just saying that there doesn’t seem to be much room to be… a little more open and honest.

But I’m way too punk rock to care about that in the motorcycle community and tell anyone who asks that yeah, I’m having a hell of a time.  If I’m right and in any way an example, someone will later be able to say they too were having issues with the clutch or at LEAST they could feel better knowing they aren’t alone.

Still.  There I was at the stop sign on stall number eight or whatever, wondering how many times a bike can take being stalled and restarted before it exploded and how likely it would be to get a straight trade for a 150cc Vespa if I offered the Grom.

But then I thought of my son and how bad I would feel if I gave up now.  My love of motorcycles is now well-established in the house.  My son made me a Lego Vespa for Christmas and my daughter likes to talk about how excited she is about getting a Honda Rebel and going on road trips with me.

So to get the Grom home and give up on it – to give up on all of this in its infancy… seemed wrong.

I just had to do it.  Maybe my mind would be changed after some success.  So I started being more deliberate with the controls and eventually was able to take off.  I turned around, went back to the same stop sign, stopped, and tried again.

And took off.

I went around and did it again and stalled.

And stalled again.

But then I took off successfully.

For three hours I did this loop and got to the point where I was taking off WAY more than I was stalling.  I tried to make a game of it.  I would take off successfully from the dreaded stop sign of doom five times in a row and then I would ride around the neighborhood.

I took off successfully four times and then stalled on the fifth.  But I said screw it and went around the neighborhood anyway.  There’s a busy intersection and I stalled a bunch trying to get going from a stop there, but chalked it up to nerves and relaxed.  I was way more calm than I had been on previous attempts at riding and it worked pretty well.  I stalled rarely.  I began to run into the weirdos in the neighborhood.  You know the types: the ones that know it’s still early in the morning and the roads are fairly deserted so if they needed to find a CD or something, it would be perfectly acceptable to stop their van in the middle of a tun in an intersection to look for it.  Or the two vans parked in the road so the drivers could talk to each other.

I even came to a stop sign to see my neighbors across from me.  Recognition flashed across their face and I pulled away nicely with no stalling.

Eventually I figured out that my left hand needs to be loose THIS much for the clutch to grab and then I can accelerate.

I had achieved some level of success.

I was feeling good about this.

I rode home and came inside feeling victorious and told my family that I almost had it.  I was almost to the point where I was comfortable to ride on the real roads.  Maybe one day of early morning riding on the weekend when nobody’s on the road so I can get used to lane changes, traffic lights, the feel of the road under these different tires, etc. etc.

And then I can go out and get more footage for my YouTube channel and all the videos I plan on putting up.

They reacted… well, they didn’t react very much.  I guess they either expected this or I took too long for this to be applause-worthy.  Such as life, I suppose.

Still.  I feel good about the accomplishment.  It’s mine and nobody can take that away from me.

What is Sand Island?

I love motovlogs.  I love to see where people take their bikes, the way their local areas look compared to mine, and to hear their stories.  I wanted to do something similar to that because it’s cool, but different enough for me to satisfied with it.  I don’t want to copy for the sake of copying, but would prefer to offer something new and uniquely mine.

To date, I have two playlists on my channel: vlogs and real episodes of The Planet Grom where I travel someplace and learn a bit about it.  I think there’s promise here.

Do you have any questions about the islands?  Is there anything you would like to see?  Let me know in the comments here or on the videos:

Stalled

I recently started shifting from writing to recording videos in an effort to show Hawaii’s roads to people who like to see new places or live vicariously through scooter riders with GoPros and this is my first video in which I talk about the trials I’ve been having making the jump from scooters to motorcycles:

Enjoy!

 

The Planet Grom on YouTube

Aloha!  I just wanted to write quickly about YouTube:

My kids and I were talking about YouTube and they are under the impression that success on YouTube is easy, sudden, and lucrative.  It’s not that I aim to prove them wrong or anything, but I did say that they’re talking about the minority when it comes to the successful cases.

And, to prove my point, I’ll make a public channel, create videos to the best of my abilities, and monetize them (whenever the channel receives enough hours watched to make them eligible) and I’ll keep them in on the progress.

I have ideas for the videos, but the ones that are easiest to do (for now) are vlogs and opinion pieces.  I have one video up now so you can get a feel for how those ones will work and I’d appreciate the standard likes and subscribes.  You know the drill, I’m sure.

I like doing them because it’s an easy way for everyone to see Hawaii.  “It’s a cool way to get a sense of the neighborhood,” said one viewer in a message.  Check it out and see for yourself.

Motorcycle Souvenirs

I have a policy when it comes to counting where I’ve been: I have to either leave the airport I landed at or something really memorable needs to happen.  Basically if I can see the actual local area or at the very least get a story out of the destination then I’ll count it.

My friend, on the other hand, counts airports because his criteria is “if I died here, what would the report say?”  Would it say “Chuck died in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport?”  if so, then yes, he’s been to Chicago.

Yet another person I know doesn’t even need to touch the ground to count the stop.  He says he flew over the pyramids of Egypt and, since he saw them with his own eyes, he says he’s been to Egypt.

On road trips, my wife won’t say she visited a town unless she was going to that town specifically for a reason.  We stopped for gas in a ridiculously tiny town in Georgia that had – with no exaggeration – one gas station and about five houses, all within view of said gas station and she still wouldn’t count it.  Maybe if we had gone on a trip to visit the town specifically to get gas…

Everyone’s got their own criteria for where they’ve been.

This made me wonder what the criteria was for the adventure riders whose pictures I often see.  The ones with hard luggage usually have stickers of the places they’ve been and I just wanted to know what counts.

I posed the question to a Facebook adventure rider’s page and got some unexpected answers.  Some seemed to understand and gave their honest answers (“if I pooped or slept somewhere”) and some gave answers that were either meant for a different question (“I just make fun of Harleys”) or condescending (“no-one cares, work harder”).

To the ones who answered the question I actually asked, I followed-up with a question of how they commemorate the trip or stop.  Some said they don’t – they just tell stories – and others said they use maps and mark the routes.

This answer intrigued me.  Do they use different maps for different bikes, or is it the same map regardless?  They said that they used the same map regardless of bike.

Interesting.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of data and have thought about getting a great big globe and putting pins in for everywhere I’ve been, but there’s no way I would be satisfied with just one color pin.  I know this because I have an app where I track the places I’ve been and I have tons of different colors.  I have one color for places I’ve been before I met my wife, another for the places we’ve visited together, another color for places I’ve been on business, etc etc.  The result is a world map that has a ton of dots on it with a bunch of different colors, but I like knowing exactly what the context was for whatever dot.

Which brought me to souvenirs!  I come from a long line of pack-rats and hoarders and try to control it as much as I can, but the need to collect random stuff from my trips… it’s strong.

Whenever I travel on business, I always pick up a Starbucks mug for my wife and, in an effort to help mitigate clutter in the house, make postcards for my kids with pictures I take.

But what kind of souvenirs would be good for motorcycle trips?  They can’t be too big, bulky, cumbersome, or heavy.

I was thinking of finding some random gumball toy machine in each state and getting something, but I’m the kind of guy who likes a theme.

Similarly, I could send myself post cards of the places I’ve been, but you have to ask yourself where it will stop.  How many pretty pictures with a little map would you want printed at $3.00 a pop?  That would get expensive pretty quickly.

Then it hit me: Starbucks.

The joke of the ADV world is that people just get BMW GS bikes to go to Starbucks, but I genuinely like Starbucks and it makes for a handy meeting/rendezvous/break point.

And they also have distinctive gift cards for each place.

Yeah, that’s the ticket!  They’re small, easily packable, distinctive, themed, easily framed for a garage wall, and cheap enough that I could buy one each time I visit a place if I roll up on a different bike.  I mean, I could visit all 49 states in North America and every province in Canada and still have plenty of room in my bag for my essentials.

But why?  Why have souvenirs?  Aren’t the memories enough and isn’t this like bragging?

Well, yeah, it is.  But also, you forget stuff.  I’ve forgotten going to all sorts of places in my life which might mean they weren’t very significant to me or it could just mean that some stuff slips.  Too many penguins, not enough iceberg if you know what I mean.

So I’ll get a great big atlas and mark it up with my routes, days, and whatever other data I can think of and I’ll probably transpose those routes onto a big map in my garage or office, but I like the idea of bringing something home with me that doesn’t involve me taking anything natural from that place (like rocks) or filling my bag with inconsistent trinkets.  It’s even money that I would spend otherwise, so I might as well load a piece of plastic with $5.00, transfer that to my Starbucks app, get a coffee and get to keep the gift card!

And yeah, it is bragging and do you know what?  That’s fine.  If someone wants to think I’m bragging by going places, they should put me in my place by going to more places and not telling me about it (otherwise it could be considered bragging), but if I’m being honest with you, I don’t think I would take it as bragging anyway.  I’d love to ask people face-to-face about their adventures in different places and think that we should all get out a lot more than we currently do (I’m sure I’ll touch on this in a later post).

Besides, I’m not saying you should use it to hold over other people and make yourself feel better about going more places.  You should never try to make someone feel bad or inferior.  But maybe your travels would be considered inspirational rather than boastful.  You never know.  Perhaps you could make an Instagram channel of your own and post pictures of your mementos and amazing pictures from the road that may inspire someone to take up riding or at the very least go for a drive and see something new.

Also, it’s fun.  I’ll admit that not everyone collects random stuff like I do and some won’t see the appeal of loading yourself down with even more stuff, but to me this is just a bit of fun.  I’m not hurting anyone and I’m making myself happy, so there’s no harm.

Finally, I’d like to thank anyone that reads these or follows me on Instagram so whenever I do get these gift cards, I’ll post a picture of the code there and the first person to cash it in will get a coffee on me.  It’s a small way of saying thanks for paying attention to me.

See you out there!

Review: Icon Patrol 2 Boots

Runner’s HI is a cleverly-named running store in Hawaii. The owner, Raymond Woo, has been running marathons for over 30 years and the store is adorned with the shirts and matching medals from different races. Going in is pretty inspiring, even for the most novice of runners.

Their staff is incredibly knowledgable as well. I walked in for new shoes on recommendations from friends and brought along my old running shoes. Sometimes shops want to see the ones you’re retiring so they have a better idea of how you run based on the wear on the soles.

After greeting me and asking how I can be helped, the salesperson looked at my feet and the shoes in my hand and asked why I’m carrying normal shoes.

“Because… I have normal feet?” I asked. It seemed like a strange question.

“No, sir. I believe you have wide feet.”

I was thirty-two at the time and had gone my whole life without being told my feet are wide. I even went to a New Balance store in San Antonio, TX who measured my feet six ways from Sunday and had me walk around, the salesperson on all-fours to keep his eye level with the ground to see exactly how I walked and even they didn’t mention anything about my feet being wide.

“Okay,” the Runner’s HI salesperson said. “Not a problem.” He looked at my shoes and then asked if I had any inputs about them before getting new ones. Do I just want the same pair? Do I want the new version? Were these unsatisfactory in any way that would indicate a specific type of shoe for a replacement?

Then he disappeared and came back with a few different sets of shoes and the ones that were the most comfortable were – shockingly – sized wide.

It was an enlightening day.

I say all this not to bore you about my running habits, but to set the stage for the absolute bear that is finding motorcycle boots for wide feet. You can buy boots made for cruisers that have gigantic toe boxes that make it hard to shift on normal bikes or you can buy boots that are fashioned more in a European way where the toe boxes are svelte enough to easily get under the shifter, but it’s difficult to find them in a wide size.

Enter the Icon Patrol 2.

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When I was looking for my first pair of bonafide motorcycle boots, I was looking for a balance between protection, comfort, and it had to be fairly waterproof. Hawaii may be known as a tropical paradise, but nothing achieves that status without rain and Hawaii definitely has rain. It may not last for long, but it exists and you don’t want to get wet because it’s still hot outside so you become a weird mix of cold and hot, muggy and consistently wet, and smelly really fast. It’s best to avoid it when you can, but it tends to sneak up on you.

Scrolling through Revzilla, I found the Patrol 2s and liked the size of the boot. They don’t go up to your knee or anything, but they do cover quite a bit of my lower leg without even a peek of an ankle showing through.

And the protection seems pretty on-point with a solid feel and D30 armor incorporated in the boot.

The look works well. As a ridiculously-dressed youth, I would wear jeans that were far-too-tight, tucked in white tee-shirts, and Harley-Davidson boots. Big, clunky, black leather boots. It wasn’t my best time as far as fashion goes, and I’m still not entirely sure whether the boots broke in and became comfortable or if I just got used to them. My wife testifies though, that they never became attractive.

The Patrol 2s look more like shoes than boots, though there is a solidness to them. They won’t be mistaken for sneakers, but I also don’t look like Frankenstein walking around.

Side note: I know it’s popular for people to cry out “He never had a name! Frankenstein was the name of the doctor!” and you’d be partially right, but in the book, the Monster clearly states “At length the thought of you crossed my mind. I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator; and to whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life?”

“The monster,” as you people so enthusiastically call him is saying here that he identifies as a Frankenstein (Victor’s last name) because Victor Frankenstein is basically his father. So seriously, folks: stop with the insanity of calling people out for being right.

*ahem* Moving on…

Today’s weather was absolute garbage here on the island. Puddles are deep and the rain seems like it’s never going to stop. I needed to run errands and knew I was going to be more damp than usual so I eschewed the usual flip-flops and put on my Patrols.

Getting them on is a breeze. You just grab the finger-hold on the back and in goes your foot, easy as pie. Then you snap down the BOA ring and start turning it, tightening up the wire laces, and you’re good to go! There’s a concern – a fear – that wearing laces means your boots will get ensnared by parts of your bike, which could happen, but it wasn’t such a huge concern that I was only looking at BOA systems on my boots.

But as a great big nerd for cool new stuff, I still really like it. I want it on all my shoes.

Today wasn’t a riding day because I had to go get random things and bring my daughter around on errands, but I did have to walk through a ton of rain and some pretty deep puddles and my feet were warm and dry while my daughter’s shoes are currently on our front porch (or lanai, if you please) drying out from the thorough soaking they received.

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The protection seems pretty substantial too, without adding all the technical hard shiny plastic parts that would surely increase the security while decreasing the comfort and blending-in aesthetics that these guys have.

Speaking of comfort, it’s the best. I’ve read all sorts of reviews for all sorts of boots and it always seems like you choose either comfort or protection but these feel great. I walked around all day these last few rainy days wearing these saying I was “breaking them in,” but there was no real break-in required. They felt great from the first time I stood up (though I did have to order a whole size larger than a Nike running shoe).

And, while they don’t specify “wide,” some people have expressed that they fit well enough for people with wide feet – something I can testify to as well. They feel great width-wise, they’re lightweight for the protection that is obvious, the fact they’re waterproof is very welcome to me, and the laces are just plain cool.

But how will they hold up? I’ll be sure to update this review later on down the road if they turn out to be different in the long-term, but I can’t see it shaking out that way. I’m totally satisfied and think they’re well worth the $190 (from Revzilla).