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Spring Training

Football has experienced another failure in Booger Bottom, the Hawks' marketing department is working hard to make excuses for team failures, saying wait until we get all the players back. (Surely, Hawk's upper management realizes that even with 100% healthy players, they can't compete against the best teams. If they don't realize this and envision solutions, we are doomed for a long, long time.) But, this is a motorcycle column, so corrective measures aimed at solving the Hawks problems won't be discussed. March madness is upon us. Wow! College basketball has greatly improved over the years. Not at Tech and UGA, but look at the big picture.
    When I moved to Atlanta in 1966, I came from ACC country. Puzzlement would be a good description of the feeling experienced when  trying to understand the importance placed on football down here. Kentucky had put out good basketball teams, but the ACC was, and still is, a powerhouse. UNC's coach has put winning in the vocabulary of Kansas, Mr. Wooten had put UCLA on the basketball map, Michigan State's hoodlums (no offense intended-just a different method of playing) were adding an improved form of basketball up north. The sport has seen wonderfully talented athletes step up the show. I do confess never envisioning those little shuttle/shot put shots of today.
    Now we look forward to the crack of the bats (with Atlanta, it's how well will the pitching hold up), the spectacular plays on defense, stealing bases, the sound of the crowd: it's spring training. The athletes train almost year round now, but spring training brings the players together once again. Old and new faces blend to form this years TEAM. Every team in America just knows that this is the year to win it all. Hope springs eternal in our hearts. 
    Guess what? It's spring training for us motorcycle riders too. Some of us riders now have many, many, many years of experience, but now we are reaching that time of life when stretching and exercising are important. I have always been on and off with exercising. Youth included team and individual sports, so staying in shape was not a problem. Now exercising is a bit of a chore. I walk for 40 minutes on the tread mill, while burning at least 500 calories, then do another 20 minutes of resistant weights on the bow flex. The key is making self do it at least 3 days a week. None of this exercising helps in the stretch department. Cheryl has a stretch video that will now be added to the routine. 
    Watch me now!!!!  :) :) :)
    It's also time to get out the bike and give it some exercise. Last week we covered some maintenance, this week we cover some actual warmups. You and your bike--working together to make the riding season a great one. 
    Yesterday, I took a warmup ride down to Pine Mountain, across the ridge, to Manchester, up Ga. 85 and back to Peachtree City. Part of the beginning exercise is to remind self of how the bike performs, how quickly the brakes will stop the machine, how quickly the bike will accelerate, (without exceeding the posted speed limits for very long, you understand), how the old depth perception is working this year, how quickly the machine will pass a cager, all the while watching traffic and taking in the beauty of spring in the south. Oh yes, this is also a test of bladder control. We must exercise that too as we get "more mature."
    While we can watch videos of great riders, we must challenge ourselves to be better riders with each riding season. Take the lessons learned on the video and put it on the ground. We can even take rider training courses. I never have, but envision that the lessons learned would be valuable. 
    OK---trike is in the future, but not just yet. Cheryl might have another opinion on that!! Pride comes to mind too. We must all work hard at our riding skills and must also realize that the time will come when exercise will not take away the loss of bodily functions through the years. It has been said that pride goeth before the fall.
    I won't try to equate riding a motorcycle with being sanctified. Sanctify means to be set apart for God and His holy purposes. Just as we are sanctified by God, we can say that we must, to a lower extent, be sanctified in order to ride safely. Our skill sets are set apart from cage drivers. A stretch, true, but we must also stretch "self" in order to be a good rider. 
    John 17: 15-22: "I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me, and the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one;" 
    Why does these messages always have a reference to Biblical truth? I'm not just interested in riding these roads with you today. I want to enjoy each one of you in eternity too. We will have the BIG bond of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but we might get a few million years of free time too.
    Be a blessing to someone today.



    Sunny and 60 degrees today. Riding season is upon us. It's time to shake "cabin fever," get the wind in our faces, and begin that summer biker tan. (Back on the farm, we called it a farmer's tan. You don't really think that city folk came up with the label red neck, do you?)


    If you have enjoyed the sport of riding a motorcycle for very long, you know that certain functions must be checked before riding. Those of us who ride year round are charged with the responsibility of keeping up with functionality year round.


    I heard "the crack of dawn" a while ago and now see the first glimpse of another beautiful sunrise in Booger Bottom. The first flowers of early spring have bloomed out and the next round is about to explode with beauty.


    Back to riding: Battery Tender. If your bike has been in storage for a time, you just might discover the importance of a fresh battery. Consider plugging in and hooking up before you get ready for the morning.


    Air pressure: tires can lose air pressure. Just ask Charlie. He thought that the rear end seemed a bit squabbly. A tire gauge registered 16 pounds or so in that tire! The problems included a beautiful country road with no service station close by and no pumps on anyone's bike. Thankfully, the problem was solved without injury to person or machine.


    Lighting: Head light working? Tail light/braking lights? How about those turn signals? Many riders still use arm signals. Arm signals are more obvious to "cagers" as the drivers of those vehicles fail to pay attention to bikers anyway---though that failure is not with malice most of the time.


    Fluid levels: Have you checked those levels? Have you changed fluids lately? Something to think about. You might immediately think of oil levels, but what about brake fluids? Stopping your bike seems important as you quickly approach an intersection or a vehicle turning in front of you. I still remember the first bike I had with disk brakes. Loved the stopping power. Then, while riding in the rain one day, an intersection lay ahead. Brakes applied--no stopping. Back then, the brake pads had to heat the disk and wipe away the water in order to stop. Fortunately, when stopping power arrived, the bike did not skid on the wet road. I was riding in an upright position and did not lock the brakes. I also kept the bike in a straight line. "It pays to pay attention."


    The list goes on. Just stop and think before you get on that wonderful machine the first time this spring. As fun as these machines are, they also subject the rider to more opportunities for hurt if something goes wrong. Face it, we are not as protected as that NASCAR driver. That driver can roll multiple times, hit a wall head on, crash with other vehicles, and walk away most of the time. Possibly part of the fun of biking is subjecting ourselves to risks and smiling when we walk away.


    Let's say all goes wrong on a ride and you are hit head on by an 18 wheeler. You know who is going to lose that collision. Let's say that you are killed instantly. I sure hope that you had a good foundation laid in your relationship with God before the crash.


    I was blessed to be raised in a God fearing home. We had supper together every night. Before anyone began to eat, Daddy "said grace." It didn't matter that he said the same prayer for every meal. The foundation was laid in that we had supper together and he said grace---every day. The importance of family together and praying was learned.


    Daddy taught Sunday School----still has a class named after him even though he has been with the Lord for years. Every Sunday morning saw Daddy alone in the living room praying, meditating, readying himself to teach. Well, he was by himself until I came into the room. I learned the importance of preparing for the day.


    Daddy sang in the choir--had a wonderful bass voice. Then he sang with the Pineville Male Chorus. Any time I hear an all male choir, I rejoice in that gift that Daddy gave us---that of using your gifts to honor God.


    Naturally, Mama gave us more instruction in life as she was with us more. She also experienced more frustration with us three, if for no other reason, she was with us more. She exposed us to things that us "country bumpkins" would not usually see. She had a different upbringing. Her parents lived in Baltimore in the summer and Eustis, FL in the winter and she wanted us to see that life existed outside Pleasant Valley and Indian Land. She laid a foundation of realizing that we can "get outside ourselves" and we can explore.


    Our family devotion time would have been when we all sat around the supper table or when we all sat on the front porch after dark in the summer. We heard the sounds of night as there was not much traffic on 521 after dark then. We saw our first falling stars, we learned that not everyone has a beautiful voice! We talked about our lives and what was going on. We did not have formal Bible reading, but passing years tells me that the Holy Spirit was with us--laying that foundation.


    Foundations are necessary for success. Success is subjective to each of us. Maybe your foundation was different. Many have had better than our family did. Each of us has the opportunity every day to lay foundations---for ourselves, for the next generations, for those around us.


    "If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?" Psalm 11: 3


    How is your foundation? Is it strong? Is it expanding? Are you laying a good foundation to your lineal descendants, and to those around you?


    Be a blessing to someone today.