Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some Things Around Motorcycles Aren't As They First Appear

Back a month or so ago I had to improvise a minor repair to keep the Raider safe and roadworthy... while I waited on the proper parts. This newest needed repair is one that I don't believe improvisation is the way to go!

I've had another piece, or pieces, workin' to climb the priority ladder. Actually, they've been festering for quite a while; though the progression has been pretty slow.

Now... I'm the sort that generally works to squeeze all the good out of something. Tires don't get replaced until they're smoothing out the wear bars. Oil gets pushed to the limit, all the good is scraped out of the brakes. You get the idea. If there's life left in a part, I have trouble not using that life... comes from having a habitually underweight wallet.


The fork seals on both sides are leaking... or at this point some might say gone. It started as a faint wetness on the tube on one side, moved to both, but really just a faint lil' seep. Then the seep became... a leak.

At first I thought, with not quite 30,000 on the odometer that seems a lil' premature for a failure. Then it hit me; though the odometer is now a touch over 30,000, if I stop and think about it, the frame has probably something close to double that.

How's that work?

If you ain't aware, the bike is on the road when I'm riding out of camp or I'm off away from camp riding a wide circle.. Now, she ain't no trailer queen, but we live full time on the road... so ... whenever I'm moving camp, the bike is riding on the truck bed behind the cab, since I can't drive my House and ride the Raider at the same time ;)

Hell, that's how she toured that 4X4 road through Monument Valley! Bobbin' and weavin' on the back of the truck in lumpy, jumpin' 4 by! :)

Don't say it... I know!... I never said it was smart... It's just how it happened! ;)

Bottom line... when Sonja is locked down there in the Wheel Dock Chock behind the cab her suspension is working as hard as if she was rolling down the road. Every bump and pothole gets transmitted right on up... and I can see her ridin' the lumps and bumps in the rearview mirror.

The reality is, her forks have a lot closer to 60,000 miles or better after living outside 24/7 and soakin' up the rough roads that big diesel just passes on to her. I don't suppose I can complain about the mileage!

Writing this post, I also just got slammed with the realization that I've never posted a straight up page on either main site (RV or Motorcycle) just how I carry Sonja on the truck between the cab and the hitch for my fiver!

There's a post or two on the RV blog about how I load the her now, and the main site about the carrier I built on the fifth wheel to carry my old V Star for a while... but not a full, clear page with the Motorcycle Carrier method I use now. (loading, tying down, Unloading etc). DOH! I did write a blog post with a video of the loading process a while back that shows where she rides.

Seems like I'm getting awful forgetful in my old age! Guess I better quit bein' so lazy and gather all that info I've got spread around into one page!

Anyhoo... we're here workin' the NASCAR race at PIR in Avondale this week. With a modest amount of luck and none of the unexpected variety of "failures" of other equipment and bodily parts that's consumed our earnings the last few races... maybe I'll gather up the dinero here to replace those leaky seals and all things considered, the bushings too!

... at the same time I'm playing with a block that would slide in under the frame when I tie her down. When she'd "pulled down" in tying her down it would "Fix" the bike solid in place, rather than allowing the suspension to keep working for no good reason when she's being carried. 

So far that looks good and no Unintended Consequences have occurred to me or been suggested. I believe that would eliminate the "premature" failure of some suspension parts from "unrecorded" mileage! :)

Grab Your Handles and Ride

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What is Freedom?

I've heard it said that ask 5000 people, you'll get 5000 definitions; but I don't think it's that difficult. In fact I think it can very nearly be distilled down to one single word... Choices.

Let me explain;

Freedom of the Road is one of many phrases widely tossed around motorcycle circles. I use it a lot myself. But, The Freedom of the Road and its like are not "Realities" you can reach out and grasp or definitions... they are only vocal talismans of a philosophy... spiritual symbolism.

I've heard and read a few peoples versions lately of what Freedom is to them and that's fine. You have to explain it to yourself in a way you understand I suppose... What gets to me is that it's a rare occasion where somebody doesn't spew some version of a particularly negative, denigration of the very concept of Freedom.

It is that idea that to me is insanity.

It implies that FREEDOM does not exist and can not. It would have you believe that it can only exist in a world without realities. A world where everything is all sweetness and light. It implies that FREEDOM is but a fantasy.

... that with jobs and taxes and relationships and mortgages; regulations and laws, fees and permits, and all the other burdens of life... Freedom can not exist.

What is Freedom?

Who started this damned obscene, weak livere'd nirvana idea that FREEDOM is a life of no responsibility, no consequences and no cost?

They ridicule Freedom as the utterance of Platitudes. The Blood I have seen spilled in its defense is not Platitudes. That the speakers of such insults lack the cajones to own their Freedom is not my problem... but they need to own up to their own weakness and not try to hide what they lack behind the claim that Freedom does not and can not exist.

Who was the feeble minded nit wit that conjured up the idiocy that to be truly FREE, You have to be able to just go down the road without any obstruction, difficulty or labor? That Freedom means Fuel must be without cost, tires grow on trees and the sun always shines!

Pretty good pablum for a weak mind or a gutless wonder.

But that is Not Freedom...Hell, that is not even a decent life. If you went looking for a definition of a dreary grey existence; that would pretty much sum it up.

Life without cost has no value. It is unworthy of living. A life with out risk, with no struggle to overcome is a bland torture of the spirit. The soul would atrophy from disuse and eternity would become a black hole.

That which is of Great Value is Achieved at Great effort, cost and sacrifice.

Freedom can not be achieved by avoiding cost. In fact, such action prohibits Freedom. Freedom is born by having the courage to make choices. The first requirement of Freedom is an unyielding spine.

Whether you are Free or not is a choice that can Only be made by you. The attempt can be made to claim; "I was bound. I had no choice". That is always a lie. There is always a choice.

Freedom is a choice. Servitude is a choice. They are not imposed on you. You choose Freedom, or you choose servitude.

Of course the tyrant demands your obedience. But, it is a demand to which you must surrender or resist. It is always your choice. To say; "I had no choice" is a cowards refrain. I'm sure the coward is not accepting of the label... but it doesn't change the accuracy.

A coward cannot be a Free Man. The two are mutually exclusive.

Who makes the choices in your life and why? In that question is where Liberty lives.

Life is full of options. That is simply a laws of physics Fact of Life. Freedom is achieved when YOU are the one who chooses left or right. Do you stay inside and dry or walk in the rain? Do you hand the thief your wallet or your fist? Do you tolerate an abusive employer for safety and security? Or, do you command him to silence and walk with your integrity? Do you Pursue your dreams even when your Significant Other has arrogantly warned you they don't approve, and that doing so will terminate the "relationship". (gender blind here dear readers!)

Freedom is achieved when you've attained that philosophical or spiritual place where you make the choices in your life based on your requirements for your life, your personal integrity and your soul.

Freedom is achieved when those choices are made because the value of the choice to your self respect exceeds the cost of the consequence and you have marshaled the courage to support the choice.

That, is Freedom.

Yes, the consequences of your choices could very well lead to poverty, abandonment and even early death. They also might reward you with great riches and living to a revered old age. The consequences are really irrelevant.

What is important is to realize that though they may shorten their lives and endure great trials; men who live in Freedom breathe air the sweetness of which few men truly taste.

Beyond the Costs of Freedom... are the costs of Honor... yes they are often intertwined... but that is another debate...

Freedom isn't about success... it is Only about options, choices in spite of costs and try.

Grab Your Handles and Ride

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bucket List of Motorcycle Touring Rides

I'm thinkin' I might could have shoulda started clickin' off the Longer Rides of the Bucket list... a lil' bit BEFORE my odometer clicked over 60 summers! ;)

Aw hell, I guess it'll keep me young trying to get 'em all accomplished on a pikers wallet huh?

The top three of my Motorcycle Touring Rides bucket list are... OK... cuz I can't say any one of 'em is lesser than the other... my top four would be;

1. The Pacific Coast. Finding every road to stay as close to the shore as possible... from The Mexican Border to Canada... starting from where ever I'm at.

2. The Four Corners. Finding the closest spots you can get on a motorcycle to the four extreme corners of the Lower 48 in Maine, California, Washington and Florida. Either Riding the perimeter roads of the country to get there or Criss Crossing the interior in a giant Figure Eight. A good special part of the ride could be... taking the footpath to actually take my bony butt to the exact farthest spot on the map.

3. A Return to Alaska Ride... or three! One; Ride my Raider one way and load up the other direction to coast along on the Marine Highway, the Alaskan Ferry System. Another one both ways on the road again. This time some little while longer and taking in the Cassiar Hwy and a few of the other alternative parallel routes to staying on the a traditional Alaskan Highway through British Columbia and the Yukon...

Give me a bit and I'll think up a good variation for a wished for fourth scooter ride to the land of the midnight sun.

Hell, that was easy! The Just Because Alaska by Motorcycle Ride! ;)

4. Bag every Mountain pass west of the Mississippi that rises higher than 7,000 feet in a few endless weeks of curly cues, twisting roads and crossed trails, trying to gather them all in.

Then... there's a nearly unlimited number of other ideas that fill my head if I let 'em... let's see...

1. The Great Perimeter ride... following every road I can find to keep me as near to the land perimeter of the lower 48 that I can find. Especially if the Four Corners was ridden in the figure 8 version! ;)
2. State Capital buildings... Every state in the west?
3. National monuments of the West?
4. All the National Parks in a big wide circle.
5. Hwy 287 from end to end.
6. Hwy 89 from end to end.
7. Motorcycle Touring Route 66 from start to finish... or ... finish to start!
8. The Motorcycle Camp in every National Forest in the west Ride! ;)

... and maybe the sweetest of them all, and juuuuust might could be it shoulda been named #1... Two wheels in the Wind May through October.

Start each day where I ended the last. Free on the road and knees in the wind.  Just following that ribbon of asphalt... as long as I feel like twisting the throttle.

No maps. No time tables... No schedules or goals... just fill the tank each morning, pick a direction and ride... where ever my nose and my scooter takes me. Turn when the road does and see where it leads. Aw it's a joyous and sweet dream.

Grab Your Handles and Ride

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stacking Up A Biker's Wish List Faster Than I Can Check 'em Off

A fella with my finances has plenty of time to drool over gear catalogs, and build lists. He's got lil' fear of emptying the list faster than he can add to it! But I can hope!

I've got motorcycle wish lists that run from bikes themselves to Riding and Motorcycle Camp gear to a bucket list of Long Rides in the Wind I'd like to get done before I get too old and feeble to keep the scooter upright.

My Motorcycle Wish List; I'd really like to be able to add two scooters to my bike garage before I'm too decrepit to ride 'em;

*The first is a step out of the comfort zone; I'd like to build a mix of a mechanically correct military matt finish - sand colored? chromeless, metric, back roadable, bobbed, semi knobbied, bagger, rat ride, dual purpose, 650+- give 'er hell and let-the-chips-fall scooter with an attitude!

Starting from maybe a Yamaha Seca core? ;) ... yup... twist the imagination a touch.

I've just found a representative pic that gives a flavor of the vision I have in me warped brain... ;)

...just shave the teeth and such. ;) make the bags bigger 20mm. cans use a 650-750 for enough juice to get deeper into trouble a lil' quicker ;) ...THIS just looks like a fun ass hoot of a project to me!

*The second would be a normal KLR sort of good and proper dual purpose back roader that I could explore with while NOT getting so many stares of What-the-hell-izzat?" from folks. :)

Then there's the Motorcycle Gear Wish List;

Lux Lite cot; This has been recommended to me by several riders as the cat's meow for aging bones that still admire to sleep under canvas motorcycle camping on their touring rides... I want one!

Bohn Armor;

I've wanted a full set of this gear for a while. It'd be nice to allow a lil' less weighty and cumbersome motorcycle safety gear on those 90 degree summer runs...

Being able to wear full impact and skid protection under my jeans and shirt would be a nice change I believe.

Yamaha Parts;

First, the Yamaha Tail rack in the black powder coated version. It's my intention to add this to my existing Yamaha back rest in the very near future. I lost the rack when I swapped out my back rest last year. I truly need to find the dinero to complete that change!

and second, the Yamaha Tank Bag designed specifically for my Roadstar Raider...

Having a convenient place for cameras, maps, and all the miscellaneous bits and pieces you want quick access to on the road is a big improvement on those long rides.

Gear Dry Bag;

 I like the look of this bag from Wolfman luggage by way of Revzilla.

There's nothing worse at the end of a long wet day in the saddle and you pull gear out of your bag, hoping to change into something dry... only the waterproof tail bag wasn't... and you have no dry socks to put on. arrrggggghhhh.

A true DRY BAG is a change I'm gonna make and forget the failed but flashy cruiser bags and covered duffles I've used and seen in the past.

If they keep a rafters gear dry on a river... they should keep a bikers gear dry on the asphalt.

LED Camp Lantern;

Reading at night in the tent on the road is problematical for motorcycle touring. But now-a-days with the rapid improvements in LED technology... the problem's been solved!

...and they've got 'em at my favorite motorcycle camping gear provider; REI. They sell the lux lite cots too!

A better camp chair;

 While this isn't really on my list any more... 'cause I already got one! ;) I thought I'd include it here 'cause it is a big improvement in a small saddle bag suitable package... for more comfortable camp sitting.

It beats the old, flat, sit on the ground stadium seat I've been using ... by a pretty wide margin.

Semi Rectangular Sleeping bag

I've changed a mite in the past few years and the mummy bag I've used for a long, long time is now just way too tight for comfort. I just can't stand being that snugly wrapped any more.

I want to change out to a lil' roomier sort of bag that can still compact as needed for packing on the bike.

Somewhere soon I need to replace my stolen motorcycle helmet cam... I'm leaning toward the Drift Ghost video camera

 My HD 170 predecessor was one of the camera's that got stolen.

I liked the way it fit far more compactly and aerodynamically than the Go Pro arrangement... against my helmet or bike... buuut the new Go Pro's still look pretty good too! ;)

Then of course, there is the seemingly unending search for Truly Waterproof, comfortable and functional Touring Gloves... since I can't say I've found anything that's really impressed me... I'm still looking for them...

... as well as a few ideas I have for a custom, removable, fuel bottle rack mounted under the yamaha tail rack using Quick fist clamps to hold fuel bottles for my Auxiliary fuel... and the fuel bottles to go on it...

 I'm leaning hard there toward replacing the thin walled, backpacking MSR bottles I've been using with something like these from Tour Tank.

I've got a "Design" rattling around in my head of a poly plate with those quick fist clamps mounted to it that could be strongly zip tied under the tail rack; for those trips in places where the distance between fuel stations are stretched out to make a rider like me a lil' nervous.

Yup... I just keep adding wishes to my list faster than my anemic earning ability can add 'em to the bike! :)

Keep tuned in... the next bit of my wish list is the Motorcycle Touring Bucket list of Rides...

Grab Your Handles and Ride.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Short Loop is Sometimes All That's Needed to Clear Your Head

I rolled down the mile of two track to the pavement below camp. Another mile took me to Hwy 72 that passes through the dusty lil' town of Bouse.

A short detour was required to a fuel pump back in town. I thought it best to pump enough fuel to shut off the low fuel light than risk the 40 plus mile roll to Parker on reserve.

Once the tank was replenished I rolled up on the highway. With a light twist of the throttle that big 113 cubic inch V Twin rumbled us up to 70 mph long before I caught fifth gear and we split the wind headed for Parker along the Colorado river.

We didn't even stop in town, just rolled by the south end and crossed the bridge over the Colorado. That thing has been under reconstruction for a couple of years. Not sure why the work is going so slow, or if they have any intention of it ever being completed but the Raider carried me across and we turned north up the west side of the river.

It's a nice roll through there, even if the pavement is in poor condition and laced with tar snakes. The road winds along through dry hills on the west and RV parks and campgrounds set along the banks of the Colorado.

You have to pay a lil' attention to things through there as a good number of fair sized wild donkeys call the area home. I've ridden that road several times and prior to this ride only had to dodge the piles of leavings from the abandoned miner's partners.

This time, one lone jackass was drifting down the center line of the roadway as I came around a left hand sweeper. Yup... you might want to keep your speed down in there! :)

The north end of my short 80 plus mile loop was made crossing Parker Dam.

A fine bike on a winding road on a sunny day... It don't get a whole lot better.

Once across the dam I dropped off along the river road going south for a short ways before moving back up onto Hwy 95 heading back south returning through Parker. Made a quick refuel stop at Terribles before turning back into heavy traffic going east.

There's a big off road race running this weekend in the desert east of Parker. The town and whole area is filled up with the competitors and fans of the high dollar off road racing rigs... so the run back to Bouse was more of a slow commuter cruise than a free in the wind ride. ;)

But then, any day on the scooter in the sun is a good day.

Grab Your Handles and Ride