Thursday, May 29, 2014

Brake Light Initiative

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THE BRAKE LIGHT INITIATIVEA treatise on bike control, from the author of The Pace.

Brake Light Initiative artwork
The Pace 2.0 challenges riders to add this statement to their riding portfolio: “I can go to the brakes at any time during my ride.” The Brake Light Initiative (BLI) will take this challenge much further as I illustrate that a rider’s ability to use the brakes anywhere, anytime will significantly improve his or her riding.
Each and every brake application begins with the first movement of a brake lever or pedal, typically the point where the brake light flashes on, and that initial squeeze begins the forward weight transfer to load the fork springs and front tire. This initial squeeze can happen relatively quickly, but it shouldn’t happen abruptly. Big difference.
If grip is good, meaning you aren’t leaned over very far and the pavement is solid, warm, and dry, you can continue to add lever or pedal pressure and aggressively reduce your bike’s speed. But someday you’ll find yourself on a gravel road or in the sleet on the commute home, and the only braking forces the tires can handle at that point is just enough lever or pedal pressure to light up the brake light. Let’s say the cold, wet tire will only handle 4 percent of a bike’s total braking ability. Because you squeeze on the lever gently, you will be able to sneak up to 4 percent rather than grab 10 percent and crash instantly. “But it was the gravel’s fault!” No, it was the brake-pressure engineer’s fault. We engineers must be linear while increasing our brake and throttle pressures.
More Speed More Brakes illustrationAs you ride more quickly on the street or track and approach the next corner faster, you must realize the corner won’t change for your new speed; you must change your speed for the corner. From this realization, you will begin to mumble, “More speed, more brakes,” in your helmet. Good mantra. Rather than rolling off the throttle and hoping your speed slows, roll off the throttle and light up your brake light toguarantee your speed slows.
If you’re riding slowly on a perfect trackday, grabbing at the brake lever in an adrenaline-filled rush of aggression is just fine. But as you progress and ride faster in the same environment, you will need to carry increasing amounts of lean angle. If you understand that a tire’s grip is divided between lean angle points and braking points (or acceleration points if we’re talking about throttle), it becomes clear how the light squeeze we’re talking about is the difference between a lap record or sliding off the track.
There is no penalty on the street for entering a corner too slowly. Riders of all ages, please read that sentence again. The penalty for entering a corner too quickly could be leaving your lane and then dealing with whatever you encounter after that. The single-bike crashes that plague our sport are a direct result of not necessarily too much speed but a lack of speed control and geometry control at the next corner entry.
“More brakes” doesn’t just mean earlier and more pressure; it also means leaving the brake light on farther into the corner if necessary, trailing off braking points as you add lean angle points. In The Pace 2.0 I asked you to experiment with how speed affects a bike’s radius by riding in a parking lot at a given lean angle and speed then gently accelerating or decelerating at the same lean angle. You discovered how your bike’s radius tightens as the speed decreases, at the same lean angle, or the same “risk level.” As you trail gentle brake pressure into the corner, just leaving your brake light on, the bike’s radius will continue to tighten.
riding on a motorcycle cruiserThe BLI refers mostly to front-brake use due to its more-immediate effect on fork travel, but speed control can be greatly affected by linear rear-brake use too, especially on longer-wheelbase bikes.
#1 BLI TENET: Leave the brake light on at the tip-in
The difference between entering a blind corner with the brake pads touching the rotors or entering without any brake pressure at all is like entering a burning room with the fire extinguisher full or empty. A full extinguisher gives you a chance to put out the flames, while an empty one only gives you the hope that the fire will burn itself out.
Riders who light up their brake lights at corner entries put their pads against their rotors, and that move makes it so much easier to build or maintain brake pressure in case of an emergency, such as a car blocking the lane. Riders who enter a blind corner without the pads touching the rotors will often stab at the brakes when they finally see the car. Remember: A tire will take a tremendous load, but it won’t take an abrupt load.
Riding into the corner with your brake light on puts weight forward and enlarges the contact patch of your front tire at a critical time. The increased size of the rubber patch offers more grip at turn-in, and you can think about trailing off the brake pressure in this way: You enlarged the contact patch at the turn-in with a little brake pressure, and now you are coming off the brakes as the lean angle pressures take over to keep the contact patch large.
motorcycle riding in snowy conditionsEntering a corner without your brake light on is riding out of control, literally. Cruising slowly? No problem. Riding quick or in low-grip conditions is when everything the rider does counts.
Realize that how slowly or quickly you release the brakes is how slowly or quickly your fork rebounds and how slowly or quickly your contact patch reduces. If we’re always and forever going to squeeze on the brakes in a linear fashion, let’s apply that same technique to how we release the brakes. We are the fork-rebound engineers and the contact-patch engineers.
We’ve all run into corners too hot and found the bike won’t turn when the brakes are mashed on. The fork is mechanically bottomed, and the front tire is flattened under the braking forces, and that’s why braking later and later never works to reduce lap times significantly. You want to have your fork slightly collapsed at tip-in, so any necessary hard braking comes earlier in the corner entry, yet you leave the brake light on as you turn into the corner to maximize your geometry and continue to control your speed.
Your challenge for your very next sporty ride or trackday: Every time you close the throttle because your brain says slow down, pick up just enough brake lever to light up your brake light. Force yourself to do it all day, even if you know you don’t need the brakes for the upcoming corner or intersection. You’ll see that it’s okay to enter a corner too slowly, and you will build this vital habit with muscle memory.
riders in a racing lineThe best riders in the world—a group I believe we should emulate—turn their bikes in a linear fashion and have insanely smooth brake and throttle movements. This smoothness with initial throttle, brakes, steering, and body movement needs to permeate a rider’s life.
#2 BLI TENET: Be able to light up your brake light midcorner
The reason you’re shaking your head right now and grumbling, “This guy’s an idiot. My bike stands up when I grab the brakes in a corner,” is because you are practicing the wrong verb: grab. A grab loads the forks quickly, and the bike wants to stand up as the front tire bites. If this same grumbler can eaaase on the brakes, the fork and tire will load smoothly, the bike will slow, and the radius will tighten.
Because you practice this smooth initial squeeze on every ride or drive, you will be able slow your bike midcorner, tighten the radius, and miss the truck in your lane. You will save your life, have more fun, ride in more control, and help grow our sport. Grabbing, stabbing, hammering, throwing, flicking, flopping, tossing… Those verbs need to be eliminated from your motorcycle-riding vocabulary because they add lean angle, braking, or throttle points too suddenly, throwing you past the limits of a tire’s grip.
We have a problem in this sport. Bikes and tires are better than ever, yet riding at trackdays and on the back roads isn’t improving. My friend Ray Ochs, head of Rider Training at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, plans to work with me on this Brake Light Initiative, for all the reasons stated in this article. The BLI is aimed at giving veteran riders and new street riders one more tool to enjoy motorcycling and to survive this immensely satisfying but potentially risky sport. I leave you with this simple premise: By better controlling our motorcycles, we will enjoy riding more and grow our sport.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

25 Homeopathic Cures for Poison Ivy

I don't know if they work but it is worth a try. This is a variety of homepathic solutions to help reduce or heal the rash caused by poison ivy. (
  1. Cold coffee: Coffee has a substance known as chlorogenic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory. It can help keep the swelling down. Apply cold coffee with a cotton ball and throw it away when you are done. The oil from the poison ivy can cling to the cotton and spread.
  2. Witch hazel: Witch hazel is astringent and soothing. It can help calm the itch and promote healing. Apply with a cotton ball and discard when done.
  3. Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree (or Melaleuca) essential oil can help to heal poison ivy rash once it has stopped oozing. Tea tree heals from within first, so it may not seem to be working, but keep using it. It may sting at first, but that will fade quickly. Tea tree is generally safe to apply undiluted to skin, but only a few drops are needed. (Find 100% pure tea organic tree essential oil here.)
  4. Lavender Oil: Lavender essential oil heals rapidly. Be sure to use after the blisters have opened, like with tea tree. Healing with Lavender oil is more rapid and it can also sting at first. Lavender essential oil is also generally safe to be applied undiluted. (Find 100% pure organic lavender essential oil here.)
  5. Ocean Water: Ocean water is about 3.5% salt. Salt can help speed healing by drying out the wound. If you don’t have an ocean nearby, dissolve 1 ounce of sea salt in a quart of water. To use the water, dip a cotton ball in it and wipe on the wound. Allow it to dry. You can also put some on a bandage and apply that to the wound. Leave this on for the day, while you are at school or work, or at night while you are sleeping. At the end of the day or the next morning, rinse and reapply if necessary.
  6. Mouthwash: some say that mouthwash helps to heal poison ivy rash, especially the minty ones. It’s probably the alcohol in it that dries it out, but mouthwash can be antibacterial too, so this may also be the reason. (A natural mouthwash is recommended.)
  7. Rhubarb Stem: Use the stem juice near the roots. It’s not known what substance works to help heal the poison ivy rash, but old timers swear by it. And after trying it last year, I can also attest to it. Apply like most other treatments, with a cotton ball dipped into the juice.
  8. Pine Tar Soap: Pine tar soap possibly works due to the healing ability of pine tar. Often combined with sulfur in soaps and ointments, pine tar has long been used in healing. (Find a pine tar bar soap here.)
  9. Cashews and pistachios: This one threw me, until I remembered the family that poison ivy comes from. This family includes tomatoes, mangoes, deadly nightshade, pistachios and cashews. They all contain the substance urushiol, which is the oil that causes poison ivy rash. It is possible that eating cashews and pistachios could give you some limited immunity.
  10. Aspirin: Grind up aspirin and make into a paste with a small amount of water. Place this paste on the wound and allow to dry. The salicylic acid can help to speed healing.
  11. Dish soap: The very first thing you should do if you think you’ve come in contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac is to wash with a grease cutting dish soap. This can be made at home by adding a few tablespoons of lemon juice to any bottle of liquid soap, or by making your ownhomemade cleaning soap that’s formulated specifically to cut grease. Grease cutting soap will break down the oils in urushiol.
  12. Wash your clothing: It may have come in contact with the oils. It will spread on the fabric if not washed out.
  13. Wash everything else: Wash any garden tools you may have used, shoes, gloves and even your pet. Dogs and cats can carry the oils on their fur and not be affected by it, but if it gets on you, it could.
  14. Don’t scratch: Poison ivy rash can itch terribly, but try to resist the urge to scratch. This can leave raw, open wounds that are more prone to infections.
  15. Don’t pop the blisters: For the same reason. Your skin may get weepy and get fluid filled blisters, but don’t be tempted to empty them.
  16. Oatmeal: Make yourself a colloidal oatmeal bath. You can use ready-made baths that are available at most stores, or just finely grind oatmeal and put this in your bath. Oatmeal is soothing and comforting on your skin.
  17. Baking soda bath: Dissolve a cup of baking soda in your bath to draw out toxins.
  18. Baking soda paste: Put ¼ cup of baking soda in a small bowl and add a few drops of water at a time until a paste forms. Apply this to the wound and allow to dry. It will draw out toxins the same way as the bath.
  19. Calamine lotion: Calamine is usually a mixture of zinc oxide and ferric acid, or iron. It is used as an anti-itch agent. (Learn how to make your own here.)
  20. Cool compress: Apply a cool cloth to the area to help sooth the over-stimulated nerve endings.
  21. Cucumbers: Make a paste from cucumbers and apply for a soothing effect.
  22. Apple cider vinegar: ACV helps to heal by breaking down the oils. It can also be cooling. It may sting at first, like many other treatments. (Find our favorite brand here.)
  23. Jewelweed: Jewelweed is a plant that almost always grows near poison ivy. It is a succulent, a member of the impatien family. Crush it and apply to the rash. This alone is by far the best help of any of these treatments. (See images of jewelweed here.)
  24. Alcohol: Alcohol will help to break up the oil. (If you are already usingour homemade deodorant, this is perfect for spraying on affected areas.)
  25. Lemon Juice: Lemon juice will also help to break up the oils.
A few things I did not mention on this list are aloe vera and honey. While both of these will help heal, both are humectants. They will pull moisture out of the air and attach it to whatever they are applied to. You don’t want to add moisture to something you’re trying to dry out. However, at the end of the rash, after the weepy stage has passed, you can use either of these to help with continued healing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

KDX 200 Exhaust Valve (KIPS system)

Although it is out of focus, this photo is what my exhaust valve looked like when I first opened it up. You can clearly see it is black and filthy in there. The bike is much more responsive now! It took three evenings to tear everything down and get where I needed to be but I finally got everything put back together Saturday and it kick starts on the first kick now! If you haven't torn it open, it is worth the time and costs virtually nothing but time.

This is the exhaust valve after it was cleaned up. It may still look a little dirty but it is spotless by comparison!! The sub valves were a mess as well. Virtually everything was covered in black sludge from being run too rich. 

  All the parts set aside while I removed the motor.       

 Rather than pull the cylinder head, I removed the right side cover to get the actuator arm out of the way for the main exhaust valve rod removal. In hindsight I am not sure it was the easiest of the two choices but it worked. It did mean an oil changed whether I wanted to or not though.

Three days later and all put back together. I highly recommend the online manual through!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Buell Article

Born-Again Buell

Heather's ___ Birthday & Saturday Ride


Saturday finally marked one of the first great days we actually managed to get out and ride. My wife worked the camera while we traced our way out into central Kansas down the Stone Fence Scenic Byway.

The ride ended and we each headed to prepare for an evening on Connacht Town at O'Malley's Irish Pub in Weston, MO. If you haven't enjoyed this band you should! It is also a "mug thumping" good time in the historical pub. Followed by your wife getting bitten by a bear...

Chicken Coop Progress

So, at long last, the chicken coop is nearly completed. After spending hours planning and researching, I ended up using none of them and winging the entire project. There were some items that could have come out better, but it was a success over all. It was built from 2x4s, old trash pallets, one 4x8 sheet OSB, a few hinges/ latches, shingles, and one piece of plywood for the door

The help!

Update: 5/6/14
So, the chickens finally tried out the new digs and explored outside a bit as well. They could not be happier, or so it seems at least.