Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm all done with my crazy year with the San Antonio Symphony AND principal viola of the Tucson Symphony, and my summer opera and chamber music festivals are finished up too. I've worked hard and played a lot of music this season, so I've been anticipating my big summer ride all year, and I've been making a lot of preparations in regards to gear. Most of you know I'm experimenting with a carbon fiber viola (Luis and Clark) that I can take camping on the motorcycle in a special backpack worry free. It works!

I tried to roll out of San Antonio Sunday July 20th, and as you can see here I was all packed up and ready to go, hoping to get to Logan Utah over 3-4 days.

I was already behind a day (packing and errands and such), but finally I got rolling and headed out through TX Hill country, trying to avoid Interstates (back roads are much more fun). 400 miles later I get the tell-tale rear wheel wobble/grind that signals final drive failure, which is apparently the achilles heel of the modern BMW. This is a failure that is supposedly "rare" but has happened to me twice and a friend once (Hi Terry!). Grrrrrr. An expensive and time consuming fix which I'm unfortunately getting really good at. Drip, drip, drip...

I was about 15 miles NW of Ft. Stockton, TX and decided that I was NOT going to sit and wait in the hot sun for a tow truck, so I pointed the bike back to Ft. Stockton and put on the hazard lights, rolling along at 10-15 mph just in case my rear wheel decided to fall off. I knew that the final drive was already ruined, so I might as well get to a nice cool gas station or fast food chain to wait and think with a cool drink. Only a few miles later a nice guy stopped in a pick up truck to see if I was okay. He was a rider himself and was headed home to San Antonio from New Mexico. I said I was fine, just that I would be renting a U-Haul in Ft. Stockton to return defeated on DAY ONE of my summer adventure. I finally reached the I-40 Intersection and I saw this same guy waving me over at the gas station. He (Gary, I think?) said, "You know, we could make room for your bike in the back of the truck if you like, since we're heading to San Antonio anyway..." Ummmmmm, great! All we had to do was figure out how to get my fully loaded 700 lb motorcycle up 3-4 feet in the air into the truck... Hmmmm. I know, let's use that big scary pile of soft dirt!

These nice folks took me 400 miles back to my driveway, just to aid a fellow biker. How cool is that! They even shared drinks and snacks with me during the drive, and we talked all about motorcycle adventures the whole time. Nice! A side note: The carbon fiber viola in the pack was lashed next to the bike towards the back of the truck with the tail gate open. At one point the pack slid down and was hanging and bouncing around off the back of the tail gate (not on the ground, but over the edge)!!! When I tell people why I bought this unusual instrument I always say that the back of a motorcycle is no place for a fine wood instrument, and this certainly demonstrated why (not to mention the +100 degree temps in west TX). I suspect that this viola will eventually get even rougher treatment than this.

Now what to do? It will take a week or more to fix the BMW, and it won't be cheap. That means my trip will be cut way short, IF it happens at all. I started to evaluate the options: What if I found another bike to take the trip on, like NOW? There are lots of used bikes in the SA/Austin area, mb I could find something cheap. I wanted to replace my high-mileage BMW within the year anyway, but I was hoping that it would last the summer. The thing about bikes is that it's really, really hard to downgrade. I'm used to 100+ horse power, anti-lock brakes, and lots of storage for camping gear. It's difficult to get excited about a bike that doesn't have those things. If I'm gonna have to buy a new bike I'd like it to be equal or greater than the bike I have, and WHY would I get a bike I don't love? I ride a motorcycle for the joy of it, and the bike itself is a big part of that equation. However, a cheap, small, ugly, reliable dual-sport motorcycle (on/off road) would make the most sense for a man in my position. I decided to get online that very night and see what was available.


Friday, August 22, 2008

I kept waiting for the defining moment to start this blog, and I think I've finally found it this summer. My professional musician career and my recreational activities all took a turn for the, uhhh, "exciting," so it's forced my hand in a way. Here we go!

The adventure has already started, so I'll have to catch all you cyber-readers up.

I'm a young(-ish) professional classical musician and I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and most of all MOTORCYCLING. My instrument is the viola (VEE-OH-LA), hence the title of the blog.

The deeper I go into music the better it gets, and the same is true of my motorcycle passion. It can be argued that both are stupid and dangerous, and that may very well be true! By chasing a career in music the odds say you will most likely be poor and probably waiting tables during the day, never having any job security or personal wealth. By living a fast-paced life on a motorcycle you risk life and limb, and string musicians especially need the limb part. Why? Why do these things?

Because they are real. They are true. They make me and others happy, and that makes them valuable. Maybe they're not valuable to society, but making people happy should have it's place in this crazy land we live in, don't you think? Now more than ever...

So far I've never had a real job to speak of. I've been able to support myself and my eccentric interests with my music, which is incredibly satisfying. I'm aware of how lucky I am, and I don't take it for granted. If anything, this makes me even more motivated to DO these things that (in my view) make the world a better place in some small way.

Let's ride!
So here's my music & adventure blog! I'm sure there are tons of blogs out there for people who love music of all different kinds, and there are many for the motorcyclists, hikers, and general adventurers too, but I think mine will be unique in that I plan on bring all these "extreme" things together into one kickin' lifestyle...

Let's see if it works!