Sunday, March 8, 2009

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

With the advent of a new riding season, I required a replacement for my three and a half year-old Cortech Solution waterproof road boots. Over the last six months, the waterproofing of the boots has become dubious. The harder the rain, the more water works it's way past the seals. Lately, "hard rain" has become a broad category. Often, I'd climb off the bike at work and squelch my way down the hall to my office, doomed to wander the corridors in wet socks for the day.

To be fair, the Cortech's have seen nearly 50K miles of on-cycle use. If I'm riding, I spend the day in my boots, strolling around the office. While on tour, I hike short trails in them, provided my right ankle can take the strain. The bottoms of the no-slip rubber soles have been worn smooth. Fine white stress lines web the outer leather shells, and the soft, inner material, known as K-315, has degraded to a hard, flat panel, like walking on a piece of balsa wood. Small chunks of K-315 occasionally attach themselves to my socks for a free ride through the house.

Like saying farewell to an old friend, I have a hard time discarding something as comfortable as an aging pair of boots. Seems to me, the longer I utilize a boot, the more hospitable an environment they prove to be for my feet. In fact, the Cortech's haven't made it to the trash yet. Visitors to our house discover them sitting neatly by the door, leaning against the Alpinestar Web Gore-tex boots I purchased to replace them. Why replace them? There are two areas that just seem to make the world a brighter place when they're dry. The first is my testicles, and running a close second, I appreciate toasty lower digits. There's nothing quite like the sensation of water slowly soaking into socks, like milk supersaturating cereal left too long uneaten in the bowl.

When shopping for replacements, several factors play a role in my choice for the next pair. Waterproofing is a must. No squish, squish. While I'm not interested in winning a fashion show by any means, boots with style add a little flair to any motorcyclist's ensemble. Basic black remains a static choice with me. Then there's the practical things to consider. Dry boots mean dry feet which keeps feet healthy, especially between those lower digits I mentioned earlier. Nothing like intolerable athelete's foot to cause problems at 70+ mph. The Alpinestars have hard armor on both sides of the ankle and the shin. The Cortechs do not, which is the main reason influencing my decision, comfortable and reliable though they may be, not to purchase a second pair. I evaluate not only the motorcycle with the dawn of the spring season, but the effectiveness of the gear I use as well.

After shelling out the cash, I slide into my new boots for the ride home and stuff the Cortechs into the saddle bags. I grimace a little as I walk out of the store. The Alpinestars are a little stiff. "Don't worry," the salesmen calls after me, "they'll break in after a while. There's nothing like a pair of Italian leather boots. After a while, they'll be as comfortable as an old pair of tennis shoes."

Oh yes, Italian; I think my new boots and I are going to become old friends.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Long Time, No Post

We've had an eventful February here in northern Kentucky, first the ice storm followed by the wind storm. Both catastrophies were accompanied by loss of power. At one point, I was unable to make the drive to work for three consecutive days. Normally, I'd relish the idea, except when it's only 35 degrees inside my house. Throughout all of this, brief windows offering the opportunity to ride have presented themselves. When the sun peeled away the gray overhang and the snow dwindled to a less than treacherous accumulation, I'd fire up the 650, plug in the Widder vest, and cruise down to the local Waffle House for a steaming cup of java.

Plunked down at the counter, with a little Patsy Cline whirling out of the juke box, I'd dream of the coming spring and the empty highway. That's one thing that a long, cold winter's good for is dreaming. All ready, I'm thinking of the twisting asphalt paths through the Smokies. I'm fantasizing about that perfect campsite on the edge of the lake where I can watch the fish flash in the sun before dropping with a plop back into the water. Most important, I'm wishing for a machine with the pre-season maintenance completed: new rear tire and brake pads, new filter elements for fuel line and air cleaner, oil and filter changed, spark plugs swapped out, coolant changed, valve adjustment completed.

I guess I can sit and sigh over the vision of spring yet to come, or I can drag my lazy butt off the stool at the awful waffle and hunker down in the driveway with the toolbox. Despite the lack of practicalities completed, I've put in my request with the employer for a little time free from the trenches during the first week of April. Now if I can just get the inside of my head and the outside in the driveway to meet in the middle, I'll be a contented man.