Sunday, July 29, 2007

Clean It, Fix It, Sell It

Ever since the big windstorm last November, my Harley Davidson has been tucked away in the "old" shop out back. Now that I've glombed onto the scooter as my chosen mode of two wheeled trasportation, I haven't really wanted to visit my old Sporty. That was, not until Friday.
The wife and I had taken the kids to Burger King in Sequim, about 17 miles from home to have lunch and to get the new Simpson's toys that come with the kid's meals. As we were eating lunch, in strolls a club "Brother" from my days in the patch-holders world. After getting caught up over lunch, we went out to look at his new "Von Dutch" inspired paint job on his FLH. We traded phone numbers and said our goodbyes' but not without his invitation to "come around." This left me with that feeling that I used to struggle with back in the day. The allure of this type of lifestyle is strong, but the commitment to my God, family and work lifestyle will always be stronger. None the less, I'll always wonder how things would be if I had continued down that path.
As we were driving home, I told my wife that I was going to get the HD running...and sell it. I said that the only way to complete the separation, is to be rid of the bike that completes the circle. No coming around. It's hard to explain to some folks how it all works, but I know, and I'm going to do something about it.
After tackling the cleaning and scrubbing, I drained the tank and charged the old battery. Sure enough, the "trouble" indicator light lit up on the charger, and I was reminded of an old problem with this relatively new battery from last fall. I pulled the battery, and proceeded to clean all of the leads including the starter leads. The above photo shows a bit of the birds nest of wires underneath the seat. I even pulled the relay from behind the oil bag, and unless you have hands the size of GI Joe's, this task is rather frustrating. But I got it done, and called the motorcycle shop and ordered a new battery. I changed the plugs with Splitfires, and poured in some $3.29 unleaded to have fresh gas when I get it fired up tomorrow...hopefully. The electrical gremlins always have me baffled, so I'm banking on a little luck to get her to fire. If she does, I'll run her for awhile, then change the oil.
While in the middle of all of this fun, I made a call to a fellow that has interest in buying a project bike. We had talked about the potential of me selling my bike awhile back, and I told him that I was ready to get with the program now, and so he will come by sometime this week. I'll make him as sweet a deal as I can, as long as I get what I paid for it. I have a few items to throw in, such as some lifestyle collectibles, and maybe an old peanut helmet, so I hope to swing a quick deal.
I'm actually glad though, that I ran into this Biker friend on Friday. Not only did it cement my decision to finally put the stamp on the end of this part of my motorcycling life, but it made me realize that I really do enjoy my current status as a scooterist, a scooter commuter, and a dude that really enjoys the slower paced, and more relaxed feeling that I get as someone that has finally lifted the weight of indecision from his mind. This by no means is to say that I am giving up on motorcycles as opposed to scooters, it is to say that I am parting with a bike that helped me fit in where I don't belong.
There will be another motorbike with my name on it somewhere down the line, but it will be awhile before I look to buying a "lifestyle" ride other than say a Vespa GT, or a PX. At least with these cool rides, I don't have feelings or thoughts of confusion. I can really look forward to this.
Have fun,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kalaloch Beach

I've been gone for a few days friends, and here's a shot of the view that I had from where we camped on the beach. This is South Beach, just 2 miles south of Kalaloch Lodge in the Olympic National Park. This is what we call "primitive camping," since there are no amenities such as showers, and water or power hook-ups. Here we just pull up to a spot in the open and set up camp.
My father-in-law "Corndog" had gone out last Thursday to meet up with some great folks that we camp with each year, and to secure a choice place to set up. As always, he scored with our favorite piece of land. I spend an entire year waiting to get back to this spot just to unwind and relax. This is my vacation place.
I usually ride every year and follow the family truckster. In years past, I've continued down the coast to the Sun and Surf Rally in Ocean Shores. This event is on the HOG calender, but other factions of the biker world have laid claim to the rally as their own. I've lost interest in this event since departing the "biker culture," and would rather cut firewood to keep the evening flame going to roast hotdogs.
It was literally in the last 30 minutes of packing the car that I decided that I would not ride this year. It wasn't feeling right, and I went with my gut feeling. I walked out the back door, picked up my gear and locked the scoot in the shop. I'm driving!
Ten miles into a 90 mile drive is where we first found rain. It didn't let up for 24 hours. This is rainforest country, and it doesn't just come down, it blows and mists and soaks everything. When the sun finally broke through the marine layer of clouds, it was absolutely beautiful. For about two hours we were in total "Beach Blanket Bingo" conditions. (Minus Frankie and Annette) Girls in short shorts, boogie boards, my kids and I splashing in the surf with "Papa," and the smell of burgers and dogs on the grill. Everything was perfect...until the wind came up.
For twelve hours the wind blew. I commented that I wasn't sure if my red face was from the sun, or from windburn. But boy-howdy did it blow. Three trailer awnings were damaged or destroyed, and tarps and tents were popping loose and flapping in the breeze. And I kid you not friends...I was having a ball! I really enjoyed everything that Mother Nature gave us on these days. It was never boring, and as I am trying to slow down to enjoy these moments, I feel like there were some real bonus moments to remember. This really was a great time to enjoy with my crew. And when the weather really puffed up a bit last night and sent folks for cover, I reached into my scooter gear and produced my M-65 Fishtail Parka, and kicked back and enjoyed the evening on the beach. After all, I'm on vacation.
Have fun,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm Inspired...Again

As I was breezing through some of my favorite moto-blog sites a few nights back, I rolled into Scootin' Old Skool. Orin O'Neill had posted about a couple of German gents that were touring the U.S. on handlebar model vintage Vespa's. I took a good look at the photos, and was really digging the fact that these two intrepid souls were seeing this beautiful country from the solo-seats of these wonderful old scooters. Let's just say that I was pretty darned impressed.

So, two days later I'm hanging out in front of work on my lunch break, which is Highway 101, and I'll be darned if these two German adventurers don't ride by right in front of me. You would have thought that I just saw Batman by the way I reacted. I'm saying out loud, "Hey, it's those's the German dudes!" I start looking around to tell someone, and there's nobody to tell. But man, it was cool. The way they dressed made the whole look perfect. If I was quicker and had no pride, I would have chased them like a schoolgirl to get them to stop and chat a bit. But I'm pretty slow, and besides...I had a sandwich to finish.

Anyway, on to other business. I've been tinkering with the idea of still following my desire to own a larger cc model Vespa than the 125GT that I have now. I have these late-night schemes to build into a concise plan to downsize my scooter inventory and purchase a daily workhorse all-purpose Vespa. It's great that I am blessed with a wife that allows me to seize these barn find opportunities, but the wish is still strong to pare down to one brand. Although I'm strong on the Honda brand now, Vespa has a firm grip on my wishbone.

I think change is good anyway. Sometimes a cat has to mix things up a little to see how different everything settles. So I'll research my options, and take some time to plan whatever move I might make, and like so many of you daily Vespa riders, look forward to adopting that one brand, as the real brand of choice.

Have fun,

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Ruckus On The Ridge

Okay folks, here's a grainy, unprofessional photo of my favorite riding destination, Hurricane Ridge. The shot above is of Mule at the far end of the parking lot just before the glut of cars, motormotels, and motorbikes. I always park here and hoof it to the lodge, since the tourista's wander through traffic with no attention paid to the moving vehicles. It's safer for both of us to not ride into the mix.

The lodge in the background sits at just above 5400' elevation. This place is packed throughout the Summer months, and keeps the skiers warm and dry in the Winter. This is also where I worked my first job out of high school. Maybe this is where my feelings for "The Ridge" come from. Thirty-one years have passed since I wore my cap and gown, and as the times have changed so much since then, I can always return to this place and feel comfortable as though time has allowed this place to stay the same. Sort of like an alpine comfort zone.

I also used the first 5 miles of the road yesterday as my test grounds for a little comparison between the Helix, and my Big Ruckus. I had noticed that the BR tends to want to hang at around 45 mph on the way up the hill. This got me thinking about the Helix, and since it has the same basic motor, what would it do? I buzzed home and swapped scooters, and headed back up the hill.

Now, the BR likes to throw lots of wind at me from the windscreen when running above 50 mph. Not so with the Helix. The ride on the old "jet-ski on wheels" is nice and quiet without all the wind being forced up the windshield directly into my face like on Mule. The wind seems to channel everywhere but back to me. And it has some "giddy-up and go!" I was quite surprised when on the same stretch of road that I had been on earlier, the Helix ran up over fifty without a problem. I didn't push beyond mid-throttle on either scoot, so it looks as though the sleeker, lighter Helix wins the "King of the Mountain" jersey on this hill.

The other thing I noticed about the Helix, is that the front end feels light and sketchy at low speeds. I don't know what the fork rake is in this thing, but it seems to be stretched out a bit compared to the BR. But...once you run it up to around sixty, it feels much tighter, and handles the corners quite well. I don't know if any of you have ever ridden one of these "old man" scooters before, but you might be surprised at how they get up and run, and handle the highway to boot.

Next time I take a "Back to the Future" ride to the Ridge, I'll take the Helix. We'll see how she handles the twisties!

Have fun,

Monday, July 09, 2007

Return Of The Ridge Rider

Every once in a while that little low wattage light bulb over my head blinks to life with a dim glow of an idea. Today I got a little flicker. After a bicycle training ride this morning for an event coming up in September, I looked up at the cloudless sky over the mountains and thought that I hadn't been to Hurricane Ridge yet this Summer. While running errands with the family, I mentioned to my wife that we should take a little drive to Heart 'o the Hills toll booth in the Olympic National Park to buy our season pass. Once there, it was only natural to continue on up to "The Ridge."

After playing tourist for a while with some soft-serve ice cream cones and a walk on the nature trails, we made our way home so I could turn around and head right back up on my scooter.

Now that I have a small stable of rides to choose from, I still opted for my trustiest scoot, Mule. I have been on the hill many times with the Big Ruckus, and although not a "canyon carver" this scooter handles the road quite nicely, and has more than enough power to move me well above the posted speed limits of between 35, and 45 mph.

Today was a banner day for motorbikes on the hill. I won't even try to name everything that I saw, but will say that there were some vintage rides sharing the road with the "Wings," and Roadkings. And one goofy dude with a bug specked grin on a Honda scooter. Man, this was nice. I broke the unwritten rule of having a camera handy to chronical the fun by leaving it on the kitchen table, and will need to make another run soon to bring pictures to the masses. If I get back on the same schedule as last year, I'll be riding up again next Monday. I can't wait!

Have fun,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Enter The Helix

So after handing me three eBay print-outs with prices ranging from $1350.00 to $2400.00, Ken asks me "Okay, how much do you want to give me for it?" Without looking up, I said "Thirteen hundred." "AWW, come on!, I just put a new battery in it." "Okay, thirteen hundred, plus the cost of the battery." "" And so it was that I became the owner of this '86 Honda Helix.
After a trip to the courthouse to swap the title over, we headed over to Ken's to pick up the scooter. I did a pre-flight and found the tires to be about 20 lbs. low, so I whipped out the trusty hand pump and air gauge that I had brought along for this very reason, and aired up. After a few spins of the starter, she fired up and idled with a nice low putt, putt, putt, that sounded much different than my trusty Big Ruckus. She sounded good though, and after taking a moment to put the new license plate on, then with a handshake and a wave, we were off to the ranch with my wife and little ones in tow in the family van.
Once home, I took stock in the condition of this old bird and found most everything to be in great shape. I performed basic maintenance with an oil change, bleeding of brakes, a good look at the tire condition, and a good scrubbing. She shined up like a new penny.
I didn't expect to put her into service right away, but as I was looking at the BR and Helix side by side, I noticed that Mule's tabs had just expired at the end of June. No time like now to see if she'll commute, and I'll tell you what, this easy chair on wheels will do just fine. With the better than fair sized "trunk" in back, I now have ample room to store all of my junk with room to spare. And the way that she feels cruising down the road, (although a bit skittish with the light feel to the steering), I get almost zero wind from the front. No wind in my face, chest, legs...nothing. I'm not used to this, as the BR allows me to enjoy all the wonderful breezes and gusts as well as the warm Summer rain. It's different.
I've already been asked what I'm going to do with the Helix, and my answer is "I don't know." Like I told Ken, "I guess I must be a collector now." I'm not going to worry about it, I'll ride whichever scoot suits my fancy, and just be happy that I can commute on two wheels, and not be caged. And if down the road I meet a needy soul that needs this old bird more than me, I'll hand them a stack of eBay print-outs...with prices ranging from about $2000.00 and up!
Have fun,

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