Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Grooved asphalt

 For the past dozen years or so I have been vacationing in the Smokey mountains. The truth is that it started as a group gathering with some strangers that have become close friends. We've scraped pegs and dragged hard parts on all the regular touristy roads in the area but some of the best times have been exploring the lesser known roads .  On one such adventure we rode up on the scene of a crash. It's not unusual to see a single bike crash. Someone pushes it too hard, a corner comes up too fast, crap in the road, whatever. This crash was just a bit different.

 There was a rider laying in the road being attended to by another rider. The victim never spoke a word but he sure was making a lot of noise. Help was on the way so we decided to split up and pull road guard duties. It didn't take long for a state trooper to arrive. He wasn't able to do anything for the crash victim and he wasn't able to get any info from him either. It looked like he locked up a brake and lost control. He was ejected and the bike flipped. You could follow the skid marks just about to the point he was laying and then follow the scratches in the road to his bike. The poor guy crashed on the first turn and never got to the good stuff.
 I could hear the ambulance coming up the mountain. It took forever. There was a reason we were on this road. Its steep and winding. I felt guilty because I just wanted the medics to give this guy some relief and get him to stop that screaming and moaning.
 As I'm standing there along side the road waiting I had noticed a lot of gouges in the asphalt. I was trying to imagine how they got there. This was probably the steepest, sharpest corner I have ever experienced so I just assumed some vehicles without much ground clearance must be scraping here. As the ambulance arrived I watched as the front and rear bumpers were scraping the ground at the same time! We have some fun roads in Wisconsin but nothing this steep.
 The emt's were having a tough time with this guy. His bike was upside down and wadded up against a tree but you could still tell it was a specially set up rig for someone disabled. They didn't know what was previously screwed up and what may have occurred in the crash. They thought he was paralyzed from the waist down but weren't sure. They carefully strapped him to a board, loaded him in the meat wagon and headed down the mountain.
 I have no idea how this story ended for our victim. If I hope he made a full recovery then the best he can be is still disabled. Anybody willing to invest in a specialty lay down rig operated solely by hand controls must be passionate about riding. If he didn't make it we at least know he went out doing something he enjoyed.
 That seems like a morbid way to end this story so I'll add this thought. I've seen some riders with only one arm or leg on bikes set up for them. These guys always seem to be some of the best riders I've met. I know if I were in that situation I would want to figure out a way to keep riding. Some times I wonder If I'll be too old and weak to hold a bike up and end up on a trike or scooter. No matter. I'm not hung up on brands or certain types of bikes. Its all good as long as you can get out there and enjoy the open road or maybe even ride away from a few scrapes left in the asphalt.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Excess Baggage

 The two-wheeled lifestyle is great. I like spending the day wandering on a bike. The problem is that if you go all day you usually need different gear as the day goes on. Heavy gloves and a sweatshirt in the morning, maybe rain gear or a light jacket later in the day. It all depends what mother nature dishes out. Sure if you're just bar hopping you don't have to worry about this, but if you are laying down some serious miles you need a place to put all this stuff.
 In my opinion a stripped down bike looks better than a bagger but is less practical. So theres the problem. How do I try to keep the ugly fixed storage areas to a minimum but still retain the ability to haul home take out dinner?
I removed the fender and old sissy bar. I'd run it like this if I didn't need to haul anything.

I dunno, maybe something like this.

I started with a rough idea and a cardboard template.

A little time with the plasma cutter and a grinder and I have new "struts". I hate the way they look but I'm gonna keep going with them for now.

I added a little height.

Welding head piece in place.

The whole assembly will need to be relocated about 4-6" forward. I don't know what I was thinking when I measured it.

 That black leather bag leaning against the wall will hang on the forward side of the bar when needed. I have an idea for a fold down rack on the back side. Thats why I built it from 2" flat stock instead of traditional bar or tubing. The 2" depth should hide the fold down rack from a side view.

 Thats all for today. I need more material and a little more time to figure some things out. Besides, today is trick or treating and I need to get my mask figured out so I can scare some kids.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maggie Valley trip 2013: The bike

 As the summer of 2013 rolled along excitement was building for the start of a nine day bike vacation. I was trying desperately to make road worthy the sportster my wife bought me for our anniversary.  I had four weeks to tear it down, paint it, replace the engine and work out the bugs. Just when I thought I had it ready I encountered a setback. It was the plugged crankcase issue described in an earlier post.
 So it was decided. I would take the rat bike. I had enough mileage on this bike to trust it for what would be a 3000 mile week. It had enough room to haul plenty of stuff. The only down side was the small displacement. This little motor was gonna be screaming on the interstate.
 In the early years of making this trek to Maggie Valley, NC I would eat up the whole 950 mile ride in one day. In later years I would make plans to meet friends halfway down and do it in two days. This year was different because I had no plan. No advance hotel reservations and no route plan.
 It was early saturday morning when I fired up the little kawasaki and started motoring south. I figured I'd get on the interstate and get as far south as I could on day one.  The first half of the day the weather was ok. The only thing bothering me was looking at the tach. Its a little digital gizmo with small numbers. The difference between 6,000 rpm and 8,000 rpm is less than a quarter inch. Its hard to read but it was obvious the reading was high. On local rides this didn't matter much but I've been running it this way for hours.

 I'd stop for gas and someone would make a comment about the tractor seat. It is a real conversation starter.
 When you ride a motorcycle on a mind numbing interstate like the ones in Illinois, you better have something to think about.  Sometimes when in deer avoidance mode I have to be careful. If I think about "deer" I may accidentally start singing that stupid kids song. "Doe, a deer, a female deer." I have to stop there or I'll hate myself the rest of the day.  You have fun with it though. Why not listen to music while riding? Well I've done that. Its relaxing but I feel it takes something away from the connection between me, the bike and the environment. The other issue with me listening to music on the bike is that I found my pace was controlled by the beat. If the music was mellow, I'd slow down.  If it was angry metal then I'd be hauling ass.  So, a good portion of time was spent trying to figure out why this bike ran different depending on where my feet were placed. With my feet on the hiway bars the bike ran great. On the stock pegs it ran just a bit noticeably worse. I was sure it had to do with air flow around the carb pods but I just couldn't quite nail down why it was happening.
 As the afternoon wore on the weather turned wet. I don't mind riding in the rain as long as I can stay warm enough. I was happily scooting along in the rain when the motor started feeling weak. I was loosing power on the interstate and was pretty sure I'd have to pull over.
 A lot of things go through your mind in these situations. Why? I had plenty of fuel in the tank. Is the traffic behind me heavy or light? I should have made more of a front fender to keep the water off the motor. I wonder if my pods are too wet? Where is the next exit? Good thing I don't have to be back to work for another 8 days.
 I rode the shoulder for a mile or so and got off at the first exit. I made it to a parking lot and started troubleshooting. I figured the easiest thing to check was the air filter pods. I dug out a screwdriver from my saddlebag and removed the pods. When I fired the bike up it seemed to run ok.
 Some dude in a pickup truck gave me a thumbs up and said "I like the seat!"
 The rain was letting up so I hopped back on the interstate and continued eating up miles. Just about the time I was drying out, it started raining again. I watched as the water ran across my tank and dripped down in front of the carbs. The bike was drinking some rain water but running fine...until all of the sudden it started loosing power again. Huh, I guess the pods weren't the problem. I immediately exited and found a gas station. This time the plan was to find a can of wd40. I took my time spraying down every part of the ignition wiring and coil.
 While I did this some lady told me about her great grandpa the farmer who sat on an old seat just like that.

I know nobodys great grampa sat on a seat just like this. I used a cut-off wheel to modify the front outer sections. Before I did that I couldn't reach the ground with my feet.

  The bike fired right up and I continued south. Things were going fine until it started raining again. Once again I nursed the bike to somewhere safe I could work on it. Once again I hosed it down with wd40 and once again someone commented on the seat. "Did you ride that thing all the way from Wisconsin?"
 Back on the road the bike was buzzing along. I don't know how happy the motor was about being wound out all day but I know it was driving me crazy.  The motor felt fine but I couldn't stand looking at that tach. I tried not to look but the more I tried to forget about it, the more I thought about it. Ya know how sometimes you know you're in top gear but make that attempt to upshift anyway? I was getting sick of looking for seventh gear.  Luckily it started raining again and I forgot about the tach. I found myself anticipating the power loss I was sure would come. Man it was raining hard. It was getting dark and I was approaching Paducah, Kentucky so I decided this would be a good time to call it a day. Besides, I knew Raffertys served up some delicious cheeseburgers.
 I pulled under the motel marquee and was greeted by some fellow bikers seeking refuge from the weather. We exchanged stories of the road for a few minutes as I started peeling off a few wet layers of gear. One of them commented on how nice it was that the rain doesn't puddle up on my tractor seat full of holes. I agreed.
 The cheeseburger was good but not "the best cheeseburger ever" as I remembered them. I think the quality of the meal is directly related to the company you keep while dining. The company I'm referring to is the group I rode with a few years ago on this same run.
 Day two offered much dryer weather. I had to eat up a little bit more interstate before getting into hill country and it didn't take long for my mind to slip back into obsessing over the tach. Its really not much of a vacation if you are slowly driving yourself nuts. I decided I like the speed I was traveling so the only way to change the reading on the tach was to make it read zero. I pulled into a wayside, removed the fuel tank and snipped the wire. Ahh, relief.
 An old timer asked "Did that seat come off a hay rake?"
 The rest of the day included some enjoyable riding through the Smokey mountain national park followed by dinner with friends in Maggie Valley, NC.
 Monday I decided I wanted to investigate the "loss of power in the rain" issue a little closer. I purchased a tube of dielectric grease, pulled the fuel tank and began insulating all the connections under there. I also attached a temporary fender to help control water spray off the front tire. I did a bunch of riding that day and tuesday without any problems but then it didn't rain much either.

Scene from behind the motel on monday.

 On Wednesday I rode with a small group up on the Blue Ridge Parkway when it began to rain. To my dismay the little Kaw started running like crap again. So much so that it died and wouldn't restart. I was headed downhill so I coasted into a scenic overlook where I began tearing the bike apart looking for a problem. The battery was old. It was in the bike when I bought it a few years ago. Testing and cranking and...oh, oh it might start...but no. This went on for a long time. We all figured it was only a matter of minutes before a dead battery was gonna be the end of this ride. This looked like it may be a repeat of last year when the new battery in my Aprilia went south, but thats another story. A couple guys in the group decided to head back to the motel and get a trailer. A couple others stayed back with me. I decided as long as I had the bike ripped apart this far and the battery wasn't dead yet, I would keep troubleshooting. I started tracing wires and then it caught my eye. Just for a second but I saw it. It was a color I shouldn't have seen. It was the shiny metal prong on the end of a wire that should have been hidden inside a plastic connector. I examined the connector, snapped the wire back in place and attempted to start the bike. It fired right up!
 Enough time had passed that we figured our rescuers would be back to the motel and we wanted to stop them. It was funny watching everyone including myself do the "lost signal shuffle". You know the scene where everyone is holding their phone up and moving about reporting how many, if any, bars they had and who their cellular carrier is. We couldn't make a call but we all sent a text message and I guess one of them got through. The rescuers were just about to hook up the trailer so the timing was perfect.

Back at the motel and ready to settle into an evening with friends.

 The bike hasn't missed a beat since that day.  I had long ago decided the problem with my foot placement was an air flow problem around the pods. I was close. Moving my legs changed the air flow around the electrical connector located a few inches behind them. I guess at highway speeds the force of air was pushing on that wiring harness just enough to affect that loose connection. So many changes were made to the bike at once that it was difficult to narrow down the problem. After I ruled out the pods it seemed obvious that water was creating a short. I think this may have been one of the first long rides without a front fender so I was looking at wiring under the tank, not all the way back under the seat. I think if I would have made the connection between the two problems I could have figured this out the first time the bike gave me grief. A lesson I should have known because multiple symptoms can often be traced to a single issue. I've also decided its possible the bike fired back up after engine heat dried out the wet wiring during my repair efforts. I had never sprayed the bad connector with wd40.

The bike developed a drip on the return trip. It turned into a major leak a few days after getting home. You can see my temporary fender made from a license plate I bought from "Crazy Bobs Biker Stuff" store.

 Heres the thing. I love this shit. When there is a problem on the road that can be fixed without a trailer, then it becomes an adventure. This was a good vacation.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Storage Blues

 When you're a biker in a northern climate there comes a time of the year when the iron gets put away before winter sets in. Now I know I just wrote about riding to work in crappy weather but I am blessed with more than one scoot so I decided to start figuring out where they will go for the winter. Its kind of a sad task because the riding season is coming to an end, but its also exciting because it means I can bring something into the warmth of my shop and tinker with it all winter. I have a three stall garage. My wife gets one bay, I get one bay and the third is walled off and heated. The heated area is my winter workshop. Sure its small but I manage to get a lot done in here.
 For the start of this winter season I decided to bring the sportster into the shop. There are some things it needs but there are also things I need to change just to be happier with the bike. The tail section with its "classic lines" doesn't work for me. I have a feeling that a cut-off wheel and welder may be needed to adjust this a bit. I hate the front brakes. Having to think about where I want to stop, rather than just pulling the lever and stopping, is really a joke. As for lighting, I really prefer my motorcycle headlights to pierce through the darkest nights illuminating the ditch and deep down range. This headlight is more of a warm glow which is fine for theater aisle lighting or a romantic dinner but not so good for deer avoidance at night. I also need to work out some storage solutions for traveling. I want to avoid having to use saddlebags but still be able to haul enough stuff for a week on the road.

This look isn't doing it for me. Its clean and functional but you can go for a ride and see the same look a hundred times a day.

I built this sissy bar as an experiment and now I have a good idea what the next bar will have to look like to be functional.

The tank will be coming off after the bike comes in the shop. Because not everybody in the house likes the smell of gasoline as much as I do, it gets drained outside. The shop is connected to the laundry room of the house so this step is necessary to keep the peace.

  The BSA has been in my life for around 35 years. I never seem to find time to fix it even though every year I say "this is the year I'll get that bike on the road again". I said that this year and nothing happened. I'll say it again next year.
'67 BSA Lightning and '74 Schwinn Breeze tucked away for winter. Right now the Breeze is the faster of the two because its easier to push.

The rat turd sits ready for duty. If needed I can just push it up against the wall and still get my truck in the garage.

Ah, cleaning the garage can be an adventure. I found this 13mm wrench in the bottom of a bucket of waste oil. My 1/2" combo wrench is still MIA.
Shuffling bikes around is only half the battle. Anything that can't freeze must come in. The pressure washer, cans of paint and assorted cleaners come to mind. Unfortunately all this stuff takes up room in the heated shop.
 The drawers of my toolbox are near empty now,  everything is strewn about in the garage from a season of projects. Soon they will be overflowing with tools and parts. Thats all for now, I need to get back out there and finish cleaning the garage.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

It was thirteen years ago...

 October 8th, 2000 was a cool evening here in Wisconsin. I needed some parts for a bike and the shop that had them was 45 miles down the road. They are open late on thursdays so I bundled up in my Carhartts and headed out right after work.
 I made it to the dealer, got my parts, and wasted some time looking at bikes in the showroom. The ride back was in the dark. No big deal. I have always said that if you don't ride at night you're missing out on half a day of riding.
 There is a small town I had to pass through where the speed limit drops to 35 so naturally I was traveling 45 or so. BLAMO!  Just that fast a deer crossed my path and I hit it hard. All that time spent on deer avoidance and emergency maneuvers and somehow I still  end up a victim of a forest rat.
 The bars were yanked from my grasp as the front wheel was pinned all the way to one side. As I was being ejected from the bike, my ribs caught the bar end. This resulted in five ribs broken in eight places along with a punctured lung. When I hit the road I landed shoulder first. This earned me a broken collar bone. Naturally I rolled a few times and this got me a bit of road rash on my knees. I also banged my helmeted head on the road a few times. I didn't always wear a helmet but did on this ride because it was so cold. Based on the scrapes on the helmet it seems obvious it saved me a great deal of pain or even a worse fate. No politics here, just the facts.

The bike was only a year old. This is what $5000 worth of damage looks like. The insurance company fixed it.

 I remember sitting in the road trying to catch my breath. My head was swimming in a daze but I remember someone telling me to get my ass out of the road or I was gonna get run over. Whatever. I wasn't gettin up without some help. As it turns out a cop was on the scene right away and blocked traffic. There was an ambulance ride to the hospital where a mean doctor cut my new jacket off of me. I was laid up for a week in the hospital and went to work the following week.

This was my favorite t-shirt for a while. Not because of what it says but because my wife helped me put it on and I was gonna be wearing it a few days.

I rotated this pic three times trying to figure out which way is up.

They told me the deer was nowhere to be found. I guess I'm not sure how much of this is from the rat and how much is from the road.

 The following season after the bike was fixed and I had recovered, my wife and I went on a ride. It was early evening and a couple of deer crossed our path. It wasn't a close call but it was close enough that while I was on the brakes all I could hear through the intercom was my wife praying. That was her last bike ride. She explained that one of us needed to live and raise the children. Fair enough.
 I went on to total 76,000 miles on this bike before selling it. I didn't need a big rig if I was gonna be riding solo.
 Its amazing how many people will look at an event like this and just assume you are done riding. Yes, some people will be freaked out and have a hard time throwing a leg back over a bike. I submit to you that those people were never as passionate about riding as the ones that get back on. I admit to being freaked out myself a few times. Its ok. You would have to be numb from the neck up not to get a little excited after a near miss. In fact, in the years following the crash I became a "dress for the crash" nazi. I bought all the gear that I never had. Jackets, pants even under pants with pads and armor. Its been 13 years since this crash and I find myself easing off the obsession of wearing all the gear. I know that this carelessness could bite me in the ass but whats the point of riding if its not enjoyable. Lately I find myself dressing more for comfort than protection.

Evel Knievel was my childhood hero. He broke 433 bones before he hung it up. It seems kinda wuss-like to quit after just nine broken bones.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thoughts on Commuting

 I've been riding to work more this year than years past. I no longer have a company truck to deal with or anyone to pick up on the way in. A lot of times on the flip side I have to stop at potential customers homes and give estimates for lawn work or pesticide applications. With modern technology and smart phones I can do all my measuring online and not even have to carry a measuring wheel. This means I can travel light and ride a bike.
 Its been cold in the mornings lately. Not freezing yet but in the 40's. The ride in is 20 miles so if I don't dress right it can get a bit uncomfortable. My routine includes checking the radar but the deciding factor as to whether or not I ride is mostly based on my gut instinct. I open the garage door, step out and take a deep breath, then decide. I almost always decide to ride.
 Lately I've been choosing the sportster if I don't have too much to haul. Partly because I want to work the bugs out but mostly because its a fun bike to ride. Everything on that bike is exaggerated. The solid mount engine transfers a lot of vibes. Not so much that its hand numbing but just enough to give it character. The brakes require a lot more input than other bikes I've been on lately. Despite the name Sportster it's really not a sport bike. What it lacks in performance features it sure makes up for in character.  In the past I've added a windshield to many of my bikes because it just makes commuting more practical. I'm not going to do that with the Sportster. I like the connection between me and the environment. As I travel down the road every little terrain feature offers a little bit different sensation. I may ride through a cool cloud of fog that messes up my face shield or come up over a rise that offers a welcome few degrees increase in temperature. I also feel more connected when I can smell what's going on around me. Sure most of the smells are not that good like something coming from a dairy farm or some rotting carcass laying in the road. Maybe even the smell of my boot burning on the header pipe. But not all the smells are bad smells. Maybe I'll catch a whiff of mint or a fresh cut lawn or farm field.
 The wild life is active at this time in the morning. When I leave the house its dark but as I get out on the highway and things open up, I am treated to pre-dawn light in the horizon. This makes it easy to see bats flying around heading back to their daytime shelter. They look like they're flying drunk. I often wonder how these things can land without crashing. Of course I see a lot of deer feeding in the fields. These forest rats don't interest me. I don't see many racoons on my ride, but I do see evidence of them by the occasional carcass in the road. There is always some stupid bird feeding on these that sees me coming but won't fly out of the way until the last second. Those rotting carcasses must be really tasty. 
 On some days there will be clouds on the horizon blocking out the morning light. Once in a while these dark clouds can play tricks with the mind. They can mimic a mountain range that I know isn't there. When I see these pseudo mountains I am reminded of some fun times I've had riding the Rockies and Smokies. The whole event lasts only a few seconds before something else occupies my thoughts.
 Its funny that a person would choose a little discomfort, like that cold air blowing up a pant leg or the numb fingers and rosey cheeks brought on by the same cold air, over the warmth of a car. Sitting in a cage is a boring task. It doesn't offer the same experience as on a bike. Yes, there are times when its more convenient or necessary but given a choice I'd take a chilly bike ride over a warm car ride. For those of you that ride I'm not telling you anything new. For those that don't, Its hard to explain. I've owned convertible cars. Its not just being exposed to the environment but more like being one with it. Part of it may be the performance factor of a bike vs car but for me its not a power trip. In fact I get just as much enjoyment from smaller bikes as I do from the more powerful ones.

 Now I've laid it out for you but guess what. Its 6 am as I write this line of text. I'm sitting in my shop preparing to leave for work. Today I won't even walk outside to make the decision because I can hear the rain pounding on the roof. Its 49 degrees and I've enjoyed many rides under these conditions but those days usually end at home or a motel room where I can get dry and comfortable afterwards. I'd rather not spend the day at work wet and miserable. Hey, I like to ride but I'm not psycho about it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

From LTD to rat turd in a few easy steps

 I was looking for a bike to commute to work that would be cheap to operate in terms of maintenance and fuel. There were a lot of bikes on Craigslist and after weeding out the junk I settled on an old Kawasaki. I ran it much of last year and decided it was reliable enough to keep around.
The victim. A stock 1984 Kawasaki KZ550LTD

 I wanted to do something to this bike to make it comfortable and have the ability to haul stuff. I knew my vision of a utilitarian rack was going to be ugly and I wanted to do some things to distract from that. I had an idea for a "crest" for the rear fender so I knew the I had to build it strong enough for the added weight. This meant using 3/16ths steel which was a real pain to bend by hand.

I knew I wanted a hugger fender but wasn't sure yet how long to make it. Stock tail section still hasn't suffered the wrath of my cut-off wheel.

Here you can see where I cut off the tail section.

Rear fender build. The right side remains open.

New rear section should be big enough to haul my stuff. The Aprilia in the background has a single sided swingarm and inspired the single sided rear fender strut.
This whole project started because I wanted a seat that could soak up the bumps.

Sure the seat is hard but those long travel shocks smooth out the roughest roads.

 I had to chop the front side sections off the seat. My feet couldn't reach the ground with the seat in stock form. Farmers sat on these things forever and they are more comfortable than they look. I did try putting a 1" thick gel pad on it but my ass wouldn't fit with the extra padding. I can't sit on a bleacher for an hour but I can sit on this all day.
Kinda cool but as it turns out...not very practical in the rain.
Lots of room for stuff!

Wiring LED stop, tail, turn and plate lights.

 I like these LEDs. The outer six on each end are orange turn signals. I want to use LEDs up front but I plan to make some big changes in the forks/suspension so I'm kinda waiting on finishing that up.
 The crest (and the seat) are painted with Rustoleum Hammer coat. The bike and deer are made from bent rod. To secure the pieces of rod to the plate I drilled holes in the plate and plug welded the rod from the back side of the plate.

The gear is a leftover from my Aprilia. The deer kinda looks like a seal with horns.
Tied down wrenches because my ideas are often bigger than my capabilities. Skull gearhead just seemed cool. Bike verses deer represents a crash. I earned a week in the hospital after hitting a deer. The whole thing is shaped like the US interstate symbol because I actually enjoy superslab travel. Hey, even a crappy day on a bike is better than any day at work.

One day I decided the right bar should go to the left grip and the left bar to the right grip. The object in the middle is GPS. The gizmo on the left is speedo, tach and idiot lights.

cup holder!

The bike is painted with truck bed liner. Many times I have welded something on this bike, hated it, cut it off and welded something else on...and slapped more bed liner over the top.

  Its not done yet, they never are. I have an idea for replacing the front forks with something home built. I was also thinking a tractor hood fuel tank might compliment the tractor seat. We'll see. Stay tuned for more updates on the rat turd.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Slimey Crud Run Fall 2013

 Twice a year I try to attend the Slimey Crud Run. Its a great chance to hang out with other motorcycle enthusiasts and see some nice bikes. There is a limited cruiser crowd here. Its one of the few gatherings where if you see a v-twin its more likely a Ducati, Indian or TL Suzuki rather than a HD.

The thermometer read 42 degrees but it was gonna be sunny so I knew a lot of bikers would show up.

A quick stop for fuel
I had to travel about 90 miles. Using the ferry in Merrimac really doesn't save time, its just a novelty.
The ferry holds 15 cars and takes 7 minutes to cross the wisconsin river. Its the only free ferry in the state.

The ferry is self powered but guided along by cables.

A pretty good turn out.

Flat head v-8 scoot.
The owner said the light was added temporarily but ended up getting painted and left on.

 The rat turd got a lot of attention. When I wasn't drooling on others bikes I was hanging out within earshot of mine. I really enjoyed hearing some of the comments. The best one was something like this: "This bike is proof that the winters are too long in wisconsin." Ain't that the truth.

I used to have one of these. I tried adapting the engine to a snowmobile. The project came to an end when we (me and some buddies) were evicted from our rental (the "animal house"). The owner let the fire department burn it down in a training exercise. The sled was still in the basement.
I had to stop and see what this was. Its a big ball of barbed wire sitting on a post.
Theres a butteryfly stuck in there.
 I had a good time. It was a chance to see some bikes that you don't see all that often. I didn't make it to Leland, the destination much of this group rode to in small packs. Theres a lot of good riding over there and I'm looking forward to next spring. Maybe I'll have something new on the rat turd for the crowd to point and giggle at.