Thursday, November 24, 2016

Video: My Motorcycle Is Home

This is a glimpse of what's on our minds as we pack and prepare, as illustrated by others who live on their bikes. I've talked about this video enough lately that I figured I should share it publicly.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Roller Derby Rebels

Rogue and I met in 2012 through roller derby. We've been best friends, teammates, and gym buddies for nearly five years now. Some of you may recognize the phrase "derby wives" as well.

The hardest thing about leaving home for me is having to leave our team. We play for the Furies and the Nyads of Western Mass Roller Derby, a league that both of us helped to build beginning in 2013. I've not only fallen hard for derby (many times literally) but also discovered a love of coaching in my five seasons of giving my blood, sweat, and tears to this sport. The only moments I've wavered in my determination to go through with this crazy travel plan have centered around my league and how much I don't want to leave them.

So instead of viewing it as a departure, I'm looking at it this way: we're going on a derby adventure. We're going to bring our skates and visit the practices and hopefully scrimmages of as many other leagues as possible while we're wandering the world.

Would you like to have us at your practice? Know a league we should visit? Email me: criminal wrecker at the google mail dot com. Info below for those leagues who may be kind enough to host us!

Player name: Criminal Wrecker, #9
Years rostered: 5
Last rostered team: Western Mass Furies
Positions played: jammer, pivot, blocker
Insurance: WFTDA (message us for number)

Player name: Rogue, #0
Years rostered: 5
Last rostered team: Western Mass Furies
Positions played: enjoys all, most experienced at blocking
Insurance: WFTDA (message us for number)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Announcement: The Big One

"I got something to tell you," I said to Rogue. "I'm leaving."

It was August, and we were chowing down on tacos at Pedraza's Mexican restaurant in Keene. I was having a bad week and had let a friend push me into a final decision on something I'd been muttering about for months - packing up the bike and fucking off to nowhere.

"Nashville?" Rogue asked, looking sad.

"No. Maybe. Among other places." I explained the skeletal concept, that I would put most of my belongings in storage, cram the essentials on the bike, and live homelessly - in campgrounds, on couches, and in the occasional motel bed.

I'd expected her to cry. I hadn't expected her to say, "Can I come?"

"Hell yes," I said without hesitation. "I'd love company."

"When are you leaving?"

"Our last game is at the end of October," I answered. "So sometime after that."

"My job really needs me through the holidays," Rogue said.

"I'd love to spend the holidays with my mom," I said. "Let's get through that, then we can take off in January and not have to spend the whole miserable winter up here."

"I'm in."

And thus it was decided that we would uproot our lives - the apartments, the jobs, our places on the Furies - and go live like hobos.

A remarkably small number of people have told me I'm crazy; either I pick my friends carefully, or a lot of other people want to do something similar. I think it's the latter. I've heard a few questions repeatedly, which is entirely reasonable, because who dafuq decides to be homeless when they don't have to be?

What will you do for money?

Whatever we can! We're going to leave with a stash of cash, and when it runs out, we'll search Craiglist for job opportunities in whatever area we've fetched up.

Where will you stay?

Campgrounds, backwoods camping areas, friends' couches, hostels, CouchSurfs, and the occasional motel. Wherever we can. We'll have a two-person tent and some sleeping bags and a tarp.

Why leave in January? Won't you be cold?

See the comment about jobs and holidays for the initial reasoning. Yes, the first week will be pretty miserable, but we're going to head directly south along the East Coast and hide out in Florida for a while. From there, we'll make a brief jaunt north again for Battle of the All-Stars in Philadelphia, and then return to warmer climes and explore Texas, Arizona, and southern California for the winter. As for that initial run down the coast, we'll be wearing heated gear, riding short days, and staying in hotels. And if it snows, we don't ride.

How long will you be gone?

As long as it takes. We want to see the country, the parks, the mountains, the coasts, the forests, our friends and family, and infinite things we'll discover along the way. We'll definitely head for Canada and Alaska before we're done. Someday we'll probably head for South America, and eventually other continents that are farther away, but those adventures are far enough in the future to be unplanned as yet.

I'll be posting here regularly, so bookmark for updates. This trip will be hashtagged #teamharloki, which I'll explain later. If you want a visit from us, make a post and we'll make it happen!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: Scorpion Exo Pants & Jacket

I bought the Scorpion Exo Savannah II riding pants in July and the matching Nip Tuck jacket about a month later. They're out of production, but as of this writing there are still quite a few for sale from various eBay sellers. Retail on the jacket is $189.95 and the pants are $179.95, but they can be found for significantly less. They come in three colors: all black, black and white with purple details and a pink hibiscus design, and black and white with gold details. I found my size in gold first, and it matches my bike...done deal.


Comfort and Fit
The pants run a bit big. I ordered a small and I can pull the waistband away from my back or my belly by a couple of inches. I have to hike them up before I get on the bike or they pull oddly across the crotch. They're not at risk of falling down, though, and I like that I can fit any pair of pants I care to wear underneath them.

The jacket is also a small and it fits like a dream. It doesn't bind and it doesn't billow. The sleeves are narrow from the elbow to the wrist, so a very fat sweatshirt would be limiting, but I can wear several shirts and a thin sweater with no problem. If I need more warmth I add a vest-style hoodie underneath to keep my core insulated without turning my forearms into stuffed sausages.

The zip-out liners are great. They're wind-proof and water resistant. I do have to wear an under layer of some sort while the liners are in, because if they sit against my skin they get sticky and then I have that changing-out-of-a-wet-bathing-suit experience, except it's a head to toe ordeal instead of just the personal bits. But if the weather calls for liners, you should be wearing clothing anyway.

Speaking of weather, this suit covers a wide range of temperatures. Without liners, I'm happy in the jacket up to about 90F on the highway (I open the arm zippers and leave the wrist velcro closed), and I never take the pants off. With liners and some reasonable clothing (i.e. fleece leggings and a hoodie) underneath, I'll be okay down to maybe 55F before I want to add a rain suit on top. The only place that has severe air leakage is the neck of the jacket, since it's open down to the hollow of my throat.

The jacket has a tab in the back that can be secured through the rearmost belt loop on the pants to keep it from riding up. It doesn't hinder movement at all, as the jacket is pretty long, and it keeps the unfriendly wind gusts away from my lower back.

I haven't gone down while wearing it so I can't say anything about how it reacts to a sudden encounter with pavement. I hope it doesn't happen, but if it does, I'll post the results.

The pants have now gone about 10,000 miles and the jacket has done at least 7,000. There was one small issue with the pants after the first couple thousand miles - some thread in the crotch seam of the white panel gave way and opened a hole in the right place to insert dirty comments. But I took some quilting thread and sewed it back up, which took about three minutes, and they haven't had any further issues.

White is a downside of course, because it shows all the bug splats and road dirt, but a trip through the washing machine made it look like almost new again.

The main zippers - front of jacket, sleeves of jacket, pants fly, and ankle panels - are great. The little zippers that secure the inner liners are less so. They're inclined to get stuck on the fabric if you're not very diligent about keeping it away from the zipper's line of travel, and I had one of them tear open while I was trying to zip it closed. No damage was done and I put it back together successfully. They just require a little patience.

The liners are also secured by fabric tabs with snaps, two in each ankle, two in each wrist, and one in each side of the jacket. They're color-coded in black and yellow, so as long as you can tell a bumblebee's ass from its face, you can't get them wrong. That kind of attention to usability wins big points with me.

There are stiff foam armor panels in the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and spine. They zip out quite easily for washing and go back in without requiring hours of name-calling. The only oddity I found there is a lack of zipper pull on the access to the spinal armor. It makes sense, leaving no sharp metal bits to poke the wearer in the back, but you need a fingernail or something to get it started. I definitely can't put the pants on while wearing boots; I got my foot stuck in the knee armor when I tried.

Amazing! I'm in love with the cut, the colors, and the details. The pants are loose enough to allow me some layers underneath but tight enough to look damn good. I've wandered into restaurants and had people compliment them without even knowing they were riding pants; they look that nice. The sides of the jacket and the lateral edges of the thighs are laced with tubular elastic (in yellow on the gold version) for an adjustable fit. The appearance is reminiscent of corset lacing, but it says "race me" rather than "fuck me."