Note: this page starts with some articles I wrote last year, intending to start a blog called Professional Small Boy. I’ve tweaked it a bit to reflect the current situation and I’m putting it on a page of this blog to see how it develops–it’s all about the other silly, fun things I do because I’m still a kid at heart.
You see it every time thereís easy access to viewing an exciting sport–like the viewpoint overlooking Hoíokipa beach on the north shore of Maui. A small group of geezers will shuffle to the rail and look at the surfers and windsurfers with wonder and envy. You can tell without listening in to their conversation that they firmly believe itís impossible for them to even consider doing instead of watching. Not all of them are really that old–they’re just acting that way.
Is that you? Can you feel yourself headed that way. are you starting to think that the time for you to have any real, physical fun is past. When people look at you, do you think they still see that guy who might just do anything? Have your friends opted out of having any real fun, saying ĒIím too old for thatĒ? Screw that. The only diffference between then and now is that it hurts longer when you screw up, and sometimes even when you donít.
The wonderfully loony writer Peter Capstick wrote that his wife called him a Professional Small Boy. I’ve adopted that as the title for one of my personal conceits–that Iím doing something that other people might be interested in. So this element of the All Alluminum Tour is going to be the financially secure guy’s guide to screwing off. PSB is dedicated to a simple notion. Youíre only young once, but you can be immature forever. Or at least until you canít move.
There might be someone else in the world thatís better at executing this philosophy. To them I say, give me a call–weíll go play and Iíll try to keep up. For the rest, Iím going to do my best to lead you back from the brink. From that point where golf starts looking like a sport. Most of the stuff Iím interested in requires safety gear. Iím 59 this year. I see absolutely no reason to stop–at least as long as they keep making Advil.
Iím not just talking about physically demanding sports–Iím no jock. I weigh 240 and constantly battle to not weigh more. Iím talking about having real fun, and taking on real challenges. Trying new things and old things.
Having fun like a small boy does.
Please also understand, Iím not pretending expertise. Iím a mediocre race car driver, a beginning surfer, an injured windsurfer making his way back. What Iím expert at is not settling for a lower level. When I see windsurfers doing forward loops on the big waves at Hoíokipa I say ďsomeday Iíll be doing thatĒ. And I will.
Iím starting this venture as a blog. If people get interested I might do it as a half-assed business, providing shortcuts to adventure for like-minded people. I donít care too much about making a living–I have that reasonably well covered. I’m no Larry ellison but I have enough. But like any other reasonable guy that worked their way from less than blue collar (I have no problem remembering when I lived in a 1965 Ford van) to solid financial independance, I never mind making a buck.
What Iíll cover
Anything is feasible, but the things I do regularly are:
- Vintage racing cars: Driving, maintaining, rebuilding, restoring.
- Building things that strike my fancy. A major part of this blog is about the 34 foot 1989 Airstream trailer I built into a toy hauler that will hold a race car or other motorized toy, and provide space for living. Iím built the entire interior from aluminum–by myself.
- Motorcycles–sportbikes, touring, dirt and vintage. I generally maintain my own and restore vintage bikes. I love motorcycles and have a lot of them. Few things beat a good bike trip. Motorcycles are special. Iíve never owned a Harley, Iím not a cruiser. I donít ride to look cool–I ride to ride.
- Surfing–a relatively new passion. recently I’ve added stand-up paddle surfing. See www.ponohouse.com.
- Windsurfing–I windsurfed for about 20 years. I had to quit for a about five years because I tore my rotator cuffs very badly playing rollerblade hockey. I started surfing to have something to do in the waves, and discovered I really love it. Itís also great conditioning, and turns flab to muscle really quickly. Not that Iíd know about that.
- Scuba, and other water stuff–Iím a well-qualified scuba diver, I have a rescue diver certification from PADI and hundreds of dives under my belt. Still, itís not something I do a lot of, nor do I make a big effort to do it. Itís just one more thing to do as far as Iím concerned.
- I also do a fair amount of sea kyaking in Maui, have done a lot of river rapid things, mostly to enable fishing or hunting. Iím not one for getting in a group and yelling wahoo as we go through a big rapid. Frankly, itís just not exciting after the first time, to me itís a means to an end. Fun, but not something to actively persue..
Neck Deep In Maui
So here I am on my way back to Portland Oregon after spending three months in Maui. I have an astonishing home there. But the cool thing about Maui is not indoors, itís all outside. Windsurfing, surfing, scuba, kyaking the coast, dirt bikes for tourist slalom, and all kinds of other things. So this first entry in PSB is the PSB guide to Maui.
First of all, stay the fuck off the tour buses and the cruise ships. Good God I feel sorry for those poor weenies. Staggering around looking at people DOING things. There are places where cruise ships make some kind of twisted sense. I guess, though Iíve never set foot on one, and there is even a place for an occasional tour bus in giving you a quick read on a big place. Maui isnít that place.
So here is the first PSB rule for Maui–north shore. all that south shore stuff is for tourists, except for some decent shore dives and some nice lightweight surfing. Good place to learn to surf, in fact. But the north shore is where most of the wild shit happens.
North shore is where Jaws–one of the worldís largest rideable surf breaks is, itís where Hoíokipa and Paia, Sprecklesville, Kanaha beach park and Tavares Bay are. And of course my house is there.
Simple routine–drive to Anthonyís in Paia in the morning–say about 6:30 AM. Get your coffee, an everything bagel, toasted, light butter. Sit down and watch the locals come in. Lots of times youíll see Dave Kalama, Laird Hamilton and his wife Gabby Reese and their beautiful kids. Godlike beings. But youíll also meet gardners, contractors, caretakers and painters, Neo-hippies, all kinds of strange and sometimes incredibly interesting folks. Most of them surf, windsurf, spend time in the water. They are all fun to meet, though maui does tend to boil the brain.
The internal questions people over 40 have about sports like windsurfing or surfing is ďwill I look like a fool trying this, and is it too late for me to tryĒ. The only fool is the one sitting on the shore.
Iím sitting in first class on Alaska Airlines, headed home from San Diego. Just finished a great bike trip in Arizona. I wonít name names here, because like most good motorcycle rides this is invitation only. You have to know these guys to ride with them, and they have to know youíre not a flake or dangerous. Not matter how carefully you ride, if youíre in a group you need to know that the other riders arenít morons. If they donít understand that sport riding isnít a race, and the time to go fast isnít when the road is straight, then you donít want to be around them.
We started off at the ride leaderís house in Prescott, Arizona–about 25 of us enjoying his incredible home and equally incredible hospitality. Steaks, Alaskan Crab, fantastic barbequed asparagus, fine wines and a good martini before dinner. A great start to a great week of riding. After dinner I enjoyed a cigar made from pre-embargo cuban tobacco, more than forty years old and absolutely fantastic. Thatís a topic I may cover later.
Iím riding a Yamaha FZ1 that I keep at my friend Barneyís house for just these kinds of opportunities. Truth is that great bikes are so cheap that it makes sense to keep them anywhere you want to ride. This FZ1 is my first execution of that idea, except for the two dual-purpose bikes I keep in Maui (a Yamaha 400 and a Honda 650). Barney is also mounted on a FZ1, though his is nicely customized. Mine was owned and very well set up by a very experienced friend. I bought it with very few miles on it for about $7000.
We trailered the bikes to Arizona with Barneyís Lexus SUV. We certainly could have ridden, but itís nearly 400 miles and no way to do it on interesting roads. The ride out isnít the problem, itís coming home a week later after covering 300+ miles of challenging roads per day that is daunting. Besides, it gave me time to catch up with my good friend.
Most of the guys are on sportbikes or GS1200 BMWs. The GS BMW is an awesome street fighter in tight turns–very hard to keep up with when the rider is good. Once the turns open up into sweepers the sportbikes do better, but not much. The GS’s are really amazing considering that you can take them on a dirt fire road and have a blast.
Thereís two guys on Goldwings, both of whom ride well enough to keep up. Thatís testimony both to their skill and to the wonderful job Honda has done with the Goldwing. Not only are they supremely comfortable and outfitted with everything but a sink and shower, but they are real motorcycles, capable of hustling though turns in a surprising manner considering that they weigh close to 1000 pounds. The BMW LTís can also hustle–I had one for a while and was astonished at how hard I could push it, but it just wasnít my kind of bike. I like a lithe ride that responds instantly. You need to be an excellent rider to ride a Goldwing or BMW LT hard and fast, but it is amazing how capable these bikes all are. Even some Harleys can be hustled, though few ever are.
The next morning we got a reasonable early start, riding a loop around Prescott that led through several canyons and up and down mountains. One challenging turn after another. It had been a while since I rode a bike really hard. Portland winter weather, a stint in Maui, and a very fragile driverís license all conspired to limit my corner scratching. But an hour of spirited riding blew the dust off my skills and got me back into the rythym.
The FZ1 was incredibly forgiving, saving me several times as I pushed my personal limits. Bikes like this are almost never ridden anywhere near their technical limit on the street, nor should they be. First of all 99% of even experienced riders can’t ride well enough to reach the limit, but also you need a big cushion on the street to make up for the unexpected–a turn that tightens up, a patch of gravel, some lunatic turning left in front of you. If youíre close to the manuvering limit of the bike then thereís not much you can do. Fortunately the limits of modern bikes are so high that you can ride at a very exciting pace and not be in too much danger.
After the loop we headed up towards the Grand Canyon on some roads that were interesting at first (lots of curves and sweepers) but then got a bit boring and straight. Nice scenery, but I consider scenery a secondary benefit of motorcycling. We finally reached the canyon. Iíd never seen it before except from a plane, and I was suitably stupified. If youíve never seen it, go. Amazing. The ride from the canyon to Cameron–our stop for the night–was excellent for the most part. The first section was on the South rim of the canyon. Like most national parks the speed limit was 45MPH, but on these beautiful roads with virtually no traffic and wonderful turns we were quickly into the pace.
Yup, I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, now let’s get back on these ROADS
A word about the pace. A writer for one of the major motorcycle magazines named Nick Ianatch (I probably mispelled that) wrote an article long ago about the pace for a sporting street ride. The basic idea is be legal on the straights and fast in the corners–whatever that means for you. You donít hang off the bike and look like Ricky Roadracer, you ride in a sporting position and concentrate on executing smooth, fast turns. Nick wrote an excellent book on riding sportbikes and sport tourers that should be in the library of anyone that wants to ride well.
Cameron is in the middle of nowhere, an indian reservation, but itís a neat spot. From Cameron we headed for great twisty roads and a little town called Greer. This town is in the middle of some of the finest riding Iíve ever experienced. Nearby is a road called the Devilís Spine. At one time its highway number was 666, but it was changed for obvious reasons.
Greer is a beautiful spot. Thereís a really nice lodge there that serves excellent food and has a fine bar. We stayed in Greer for two nights, and enjoyed cocktails on the deck of the Greer lodge after a day of hard riding. On the first morning after a pleasant evening, feeling a bit fragile after perhaps a bit too much to drink, we headed out to the roads and the Devilís Spine. The road to GET to the road was pretty awesome–sets of tight turns requiring quick transitions and precision control, and long sweepers that make you feel like youíre flying a little fighter jet. We had lunch near the huge copper mine and headed to the Spine. This road doesnít mess around, it starts with a few tight 180ís right at the edge of town, and gets crazy from there.
This 916 Duck got tossed down the road on the Devil’s Spine. The rider wasn’t hurt much and I managed to get the bike patched up enough so for him he could finish the ride and make it back to Prescott
(that’s as far as I got, and I frankly don’t remember the rest. Not that it wasn’t memorable, I just have a very FIFO brain).