Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries...

A recent post from my friend Slowburn has stirred some of my deep-rooted thoughts regarding motorcycles. I've been a long time motorcycle enthusiast (bought my first motorcycle, a 1990 Yamaha FZR400, back in '94) that has, for one reason or another, been forced to put those motorcycle desires on the backburner for a long time (haven't owned one since '98)...possibly for good. Of course, this has mainly been due to the "responsibility" of getting older and having other people that rely on you or that might rely on you in the future (wives, kids, dogs, etc.). Life was different when I was only responsible for my own "existence"...not the life and livelyhood of others. But times change, people get older, and responsibility to others comes with the territory. That's just the progression of life.

If you've ever been a motorcycle enthusiast, you know that those desires to go out and ride, no matter how long you've been "away" for, will never completely leave you. While we may choose to "do the right thing" for our families and for our future, the itch to experience the open road in a way that only a motorcycle can provide is like a bad case of sticks with you for life. It never wanes...never goes away. Of course, that is only exacerbated by seeing other people, on a daily basis scratching that same itch...riding their motorcycles of all shapes, styles and sizes around enjoying the weather and living life. Not to mention that here in LA, splitting lanes is legal and riding a motorcycle can usually quarter your commuting time through LA's insanely unpredictable traffic.

Of course, my parents have never supported my liking for motor vehicles of the 2-wheeled variety...obviously due to the danger involved. In fact, they think it's downright ludicrous...especially considering that I lost one of my best friends in '91 to a hit and run motorcycle accident and that I myself took a pretty bad spill on my first motorcycle back in '94. But that was when I was young, inexperienced, and stupid. It was a cold day in November (Thanksgiving morning actually) and I was riding more aggressively than my cold tires were realistically capable of handling. I went into the turn on a highway off-ramp too hot (fast) and made a crucial, newbie mistake. I had the bike at full lean when I realized I was going too fast and I decided to tap the brake mid turn. Big mistake. The second my finger touched the brake lever the front tire lost traction and I hit the pavement travelling in excess of 80+ MPH. I slid for a good 60 feet, skimmed off of a guardrail with my lower back, and slid probably another 50 feet or so before grinding to a halt. Luckily for me, I walked away from the incident with nothing more than a damaged bike, a bruised ego, and a bruise on my lower back the size of Texas. After this little setback, I gave myself some time to recover, licked my wounds, and later bought a new, bigger, motorcycle - A 1995 Kawasaki ZX-7. Of course, the second time around, I was smarter and more cautious. Pain is a good teacher.

I rode that ZX-7 uneventfully for a few years before selling it and haven't bought another bike since. But the desire to buy another one has never gone away. It's like a thorn in my side that gets poked at every time I see other people out riding. It's like that fly the buzzes around your head that you swat at, but never goes away. And it'll be there probably till i'm old and decrepit.

Both of my bikes were made by Japanese manufacturers but my deepest motorcycle desire was for an Italian made bike. One made by Ducati. My dream bike back then was a Yellow Ducati 996 like the one pictured. In my opinion, it's one of the sexiest looking bikes ever built and has been the object of my affection for years. However, these days my desires have shifted a bit. While I would still love to have a 996, i've also come to love the "naked" bikes like the Ducati Monster. It's a little simpler and more understated, yet can provide similar performance as the all-out sportbikes like the 996. Something like that would probably suit me better now, in my older years....not that i'm planning on buying one or anything.

I've also, over the years, grown an appreciation for motorcycle customization and "choppers". Some of the bikes built by people like Jesse James and the modern crop of custom bike builders never cease to amaze me. I've always thought it would be kinda cool to build a chopper of my own and a few years ago a crazy little idea popped into my head. Wouldn't it be cool to combine the two? To build a customized "chopper" out of an italian bike like the Ducati Monster. Now there's a crazy idea! I envisioned a lowered rear suspension so that the rear tire tucks close to the rear seat and fender area. Then increase the head tube angle to increase the rake of the front forks to match the height of the rear suspension. It would be low and mean looking, yet still have near-superbike performance. That's been on the "If ever I had the time and spare $$$" list of things to build for a long time. Anyway, I recently got a little curious and decided to do a little photo chop work in Photoshop...just to see what it'd actually look like. Took that photo from above of the Monster and altered it a little using my rudimentary photoshop skills. Here's the finished product...what I like to call, "The Ducati Monsrocity":

So what do you think? I think it turned out pretty cool looking. Yeah, many Ducati fans would probably think it's a bit of an abomination (hence the name I gave it), but I think it looks pretty badass. It's a Ducati with a little more attitude. I'd love to go and cruise the streets of LA on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on this thing. Or better yet, take a cruise up PCH by the beach. Aaahhhh...if only I had the time and $$$ to build toys like this. Oh well...I can dream, can't I?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Guess some hard work does pay off afterall. After this past weekend's overeating, I was determined to at least keep myself in the Fat War running. So, it was back to watching what and how much I ate and trying to make sure I run as much as possible at work. Between that, my bodyboarding session on Sunday, last nights late night running session and the fact that it was hot as balls here i've managed to get my weight back on track. Just weighed myself and i'm down to 184lbs. Not quite at 183 where I was before this past weekend's slip up, but close. So that puts my TFL at 1.13 for this week (this is week 5, right?). Whew...


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Damn you Fat War...I say DAMN YOU!

Ever since I decided to join Blue Ryder and our other friends in her Fat War, i've been encouraged to change my diet a little for the better. I haven't done any drastic changes, mind you, but small [IMHO] important ones. Changes that, through my many years of cyclical weight for competitive Eskrima (Filipino Martial Arts), have proven to me to make the most difference for "weight loss" and athletic performance purposes. What kinds of changes you may ask? Well, during the week, i've basically trimmed down my portion size and cut down my carb intake. I still eat foods that I like to eat, stuff that inspires me...I just try to have some self control and don't eat as much of it as I usually do (and those of you that know me, know I like to EAT). I do however save the weekends for more liberated eating...

I'm a strong believer in positive reinforcement through reward...especially when it comes to personal health and weight, etc. and especially for a foodie like myself. So, on the weekends I eat more liberally as a "reward" for a week well done. It gives my body (and that insatiable inner foodie) the motivation to trudge forward. It feeds my soul, keeps me going, and keeps me sane. Now, I don't usually go overboard on the weekends either. While I eat more liberally than I do during the week, I still try to maintain some modicum of self control. Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for my "competition"), that didn't apply this weekend. For reasons unbeknownst to me, on friday after I came home from work I had a moment of weakness (well, honestly it was more than just a moment). I just felt like being bad and having a "good" hearty meal. So, P and I trekked over to Gardena to Bruddah's.

Bruddah's is a Hawaiian Plate Lunch place that is reminiscent of the authentic plate lunch joints on Oahu. It's small, simple, and usually filled with "local people"...Hawaiians now residing in LA. And the food is GOOD. So good that Bruddah's has been touted by many as the Best Hawaiian Food in LA. I haven't eaten at all of the Plate Lunch places here in LA (Yet!) but I don't doubt it. I'd say it's just about as good as many of the joints i've eaten at over in Da Islands.

Of course, I ordered the Loco Moco. 2 hamburger patties over white rice slathered with brown mushroom gravy topped with 2 over easy eggs. Add some Tabasco sauce and Aloha Shoyu and it's Plate Lunch Perfection!. Oh, and these are no run-of-the-mill, bought in the frozen food section of the local supermarket, burger patties either. They look and taste like home made burger patties. Mmmm. Of course, in my "moment" of weakness I ate the whole damn plate...rice and all. So much for cutting down on carbs.

P ordered the Braised Short Ribs which is a special only offered on Tuesdays and Fridays. This damn dish is the devil. It's worth it to plan specific trips to Bruddah's on Tuesday's and Friday's just so you can have this dish. The meat is so tender that it's easily separated from the bone with a fork (in my case a ford & spoon) and the sauce/gravy is savory and full of tasty beef flavor. Of course, not only did I finish my Loco Moco, I also had several bites of P's Braised Short Ribs. Not to mention that I ate her leftovers later on that night. Yeah, it was a BAD eating night.

And it didn't stop there. Today, we attended a co-ed baby shower in Glendale with The Sherpa, The Mench, and Mini-Mench. I had a plate of Fried Rice, Lo Mein, and Pad Thai with a side of Tofu and Chicken Penang. I also finished what was left on the plate that P and The Sherp shared. Another carb-heavy meal. Damn. Afterwards, since we were already in Glendale we all decided to take a stop at this amazing and well-known Cuban Cafe up the street named Porto's Cafe. There, we gorged ourselves on some Sandwich Cubanos, Steak Sandwiches, Meat Pies, and a tray full of desserts...all of which were loaded with carbs and were Oh-So-Good! Good for the soul...not so good for my current standing in the Fat War.

And here's the worst part of this whole Fat War business...In my 30+ years of stuffing my face meal after meal, I have NEVER in my life felt guilty after eating. I've even eaten some of the "worst for you" meals known to mankind and have never even felt a glimmer of remorse or guilt for those said meals. Yes, i've regretted eating the food equivalent of a small child, aka the Champion Burrito, during a Las Vegas Tryst one year for Blue Ryder's Birthday but that was only due to the extreme un-comfort I felt from the sheer volume of food eaten. Not from guilt for eating "badly". Today was different. Today, on our drive back to Hermosa Beach from Glendale, I actually felt kinda guilty for my weekend extravagance. And I HATE feeling guilty for doing something I really enjoy. Damn this Fat War.

So what did this extravagance cost me? Well, the last time I weighed myself was on friday morning after a brutal 3-hour Eskrima sparring session on Thursday night. I was beat up and tired and weighed in at 183lbs...a 12lb loss from my starting weight of 195lbs before all this Fat War nonsense. When we got home tonight, I weighed myself and had to double and triple check it to make sure I wasn't seeing things. I'm back up to 191.5lbs! WTF?! I gained 8.5lbs in a sigle weekend of bad eating?! Guess I gotta eat well tomorrow and work my ass of this week if I even wanna have a shot at giving The Seed a run for his money. Gonna go to the beach tomorrow with the Menches and will definitely spend a few hours in the water Bodyboarding so that should be good for a few lbs...Damn setbacks. Damn you Fat War for making me feel guilty...I say, "DAMN YOU!!!!" =)