Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pucker Factor 8.5

 I've been working a lot of Saturdays lately and I don't mind it. If I really had something important to do I'm sure I could get the day off. This way I'm making money instead of blowing it. Anyway, I stepped out of the garage in the morning and the weather rock was telling me it was wet although I'm pretty sure it didn't rain. Temps were in the 50's and I was looking forward to a nice ride to work. I mean that is the best part of going to work and it sets me up for a decent day.
 I pulled into the kwicky mart for some OJ and a muffin. I slid a bit when I pulled in by the pumps and assumed there was oil or coolant on the ground. I thought nothing more of it. When I left, the thermometer on the dash said 55 degrees but the road had an eerie look to it. It really looked icy. I thought I could see tire tracks from cars in what appeared to be an icy road. Naw, can't be and I kept rolling along. When I got to a place where it was safe to do a brake test I was surprised as the abs kicked in. We had 2" of rain a few days ago so the roads should be clean of any oily residue. Why so slippery? I decided because it was dark and deer were a threat that I would take a lonely back road and just putter along. I made my turn and tried a brake test again. Sure as shit the abs kicked in again. I turned the radio up, eased against the back rest, and held it at about 45. As I rolled along I noticed frost in the grass along the road. WTF is going on? I checked the temp again and it said 50 something. It was just weird and I was watching the road pretty close now and getting a little excited. Maybe a pucker factor of 2 just because I wasn't sure what was going on. Each time I checked the brakes or gassed it a little and had slippage, the pucker factor went up. I turned the seat heater on to try to relax but it didn't help.
 I put one of those small slips in the video. I like to think the bike has decent torque but not so much that it can break the tire loose with just a wiggle of the throttle. I was upset because I knew there was a long uphill climb ahead of me and if it was too slippery I was screwed. Maybe on a lighter bike I wouldn't care but not on a new 900+ pound bike. After getting a running start I was able to crest the hill without issue but I was tense. It sure would have been a fun ride on an enduro or a rat.
 I guess the warm air and high humidity along with the road sweating created these not so favorable riding conditions. I was never so happy to get to work.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

33 or Higher

 The forecast for today is wet. I know this time they got it right because the rain is pounding on the roof so loud that I had to look outside and see if it was hail. I knew this weather was on the way so I've been riding to work as much as possible. You know, just to get in as much seat time as I can before the snow flies. My basic rule for how cold before I won't ride is 32 degrees so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered the temp was a balmy 33 yesterday as I left for work. I didn't see any other bikes on the road and haven't seen any on my morning commute for a few weeks now. For the most part I can stay warm but my knees and thighs are exposed to the wind and get pretty cold.

Another craptacular photo brought to you by the GreasyShopRag. This one is
actually a frame from a GoPro video. The dash says 33 degrees.
 The bike has got a pretty thick coat of dirt and grime on it. My plan for last weekend was to wash it but as is usually the case when the sun is shining, I rode it. My wife and I went out for brunch and then to the hardware store. The wife agreed to carry some five foot plumbing parts on the way back. Such a trooper.
 The plumbing parts are for our bathroom remodel project. It's coming along slowly because I only work on it for an hour each night after work. No problem because if we get done before Thanksgiving then I've met my goal. While doing this project I've discovered my woodworking tools are just adequate. The table saw I'm using is the same one my grandfather used on his house. Kinda nostalgic but I wish gramps would have invested in a better saw. My sabre saw starts smoking after cutting more than a few inches and all the big batteries for my Milwaukee power tools are shot. As much as I like new tools I don't think I'll replace any wood working stuff unless I absolutely have to. I'd use them for this project and then they would (hopefully) sit for years unused. Then again there has been talk about other projects around here. We'll see.
 I've been waiting for a break in the rain but it's coming down as hard as ever. I want to unhook the trailer from my truck but I may just pull it today so I don't get soaked disconnecting it.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

From Green to White

 Its been a long time since I've talked about the "other" thing I do at work. If you follow this blog you know I repair chainsaws and other handheld two cycle equipment. What I don't talk about much is that when I was first hired by my current employer, it was to run the landscape crew. It's something that I had done for a very long time. Part of those landscaping duties was to do develop and manage a lawn pesticide applications and fertilization branch of the business. The owner of the business at the time didn't give me a blank check but he did give me a loose leash. I was given the type of equipment I wanted and what we couldn't buy, I was allowed to build.
 Be careful what you wish for. I had a good reputation and some connections from past employment. That combined with fair pricing, the willingness to work with the customers schedule, and good results has built a monster that consumes way too much of my time. 
 I never really had any desire to spray lawns. It came with the job and if you're gonna do a job you might as well do it well. I also can control how these chemicals are applied. I mean, people that want weed or pest control are gonna either do it themselves or hire someone. You wouldn't believe how many people figure if a little is good then more is better. When I make the application I have control over chemical types, rates and the possibility of runoff. That's how I justify it in my head anyway.
 There are two things I really like about this kind of work. One is being outside. The weather is always good because if it's crap weather then I'm not able to perform the work. The other is the equipment. I like building or working on the pumps, sprayers and spreaders. It's a gearhead thing.
 The other day I decided to shoot a short video while running one of the rigs. Nothing fancy, just a phone in one hand and steering wheel in the other. It appears to be boring work but the truth is I've been doing it so long it comes automatically. The equipment is calibrated for a certain speed so there is no rushing the job. That relaxed pace means I am rarely thinking about actually running the equipment and most of my thought process is consumed thinking about motorcycle projects, a stubborn repair waiting on my work bench, or lately a bathroom remodel. Guess what? The pay is the same no matter what I'm day dreaming about.
 I have one big job left for Monday and then all the equipment can be cleaned and put away till spring. The trucks will lose their water tanks and get salters and snow plows installed and then we just wait for mother nature to dump the white stuff. One more year in the books.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trying To Capture The Moment

 I was on the way home from work yesterday enjoying the unusually warm October temps and a colorful sunset. While scootin along I was trying to come up with an idea for todays blog. I came up with bupkis. I suppose I could write something cheezy that would express just how great this ride was. None of that is necessary. Most of you that ride know the feeling when you connect with the bike and environment at the same time. Yes I'm commuting but on special days it doesn't feel that way.
 In an effort to capture the moment I figured a picture was in order. I pulled over, snapped the pic and voila, I have a blog post.

 As curious as it may seem, the one thing that takes up the most pixels in this image is also the one thing that matters the least. Sure it's a nice bike but when I feel this connection with my surroundings and my ride it usually doesn't matter what the ride is. Oddly enough for me it also doesn't have to be a nice warm sunny day. I want to try to explain this to those of you that don't ride but can't find the words. Maybe it's kinda like that scene in the Matrix movie where the dude is dodging the bullets. There is some kind of control that happens automatically as I seemingly slip into another dimension.
 Ya, so much for not sounding cheezy.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bathroom Remodel

  I've been reading a lot of talk on blogs lately about putting bikes away for the winter. I'm not ready to do that yet and I couldn't even if I wanted to. You see, my garage is such a mess right now that two of my rides are blocked in. Whats in the way is debris from a remodeling project I'm doing in our house. It has also become a staging area for new material coming in. The whole ordeal has become quite a mess. How come beautifying one room leaves so many others in shambles?  Construction dust is everywhere although it has revealed something to me. There are cat paw imprints in this dust and they are everywhere. Some of them are in places I'd never imagine they could get to. I thought they just slept all day but it appears they are wandering around rubbing their junk on everything I own.
 Those that have been through these types of projects know they can be difficult at times. First you have to decide to what length you will take this project. My wife finding a loose tile in the shower has led to this.

 The room is not part of the original house so you can imagine the added complications to the project including plumbing and someones idea of stud spacing that must have involved the metric system.
 The cleanup is done and the sub floor and walls are next. That meant a trip to the lumber store. My wife thinks she came along to help choose a vanity and such but what I really needed was someone to help with the heavy lifting and she was a trooper. If your not sure why she appears to be eating her glasses then I'll assume you are single. See, its hard to strangle someone while holding glasses in your hand.

These kind of projects can either make a couple stronger or start fights. So far there has been no talk of divorce so I guess we'll be alright although I was just reminded that yesterday was sweetest day. Dang hallmark holidays get me every time.
 Last night was an out of town over nighter. We saw Jay play drums in a rock band and enjoyed some adult beverages. A good time was had by all.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Am I a Writer?

 That question came up when Al and I were talking in the shop yesterday. He claimed he had no clue about my writing as he is just in it for the pictures. I'll post a couple of random pics today just for Al.
 Yes I have a blog and I make regular posts twice a week but I'm not a writer. I wish I could write but the fact is I suck at it. My blog posts are usually an explanation of a picture rather than an intellectual observation. My skill set stops at the end of a wrench and does not include the mental fortitude needed to capture your imagination with words. My high school edjumication limits me in this area and I accept that.

I ate 18 of these last week during our annual open house at work.
 My digestive system is finally back to normal. Thanks for asking.

 This doesn't mean I'm dumb. I happen to be good at figuring crap out...even if that crap is new to me. Maybe that's what I like about doing repair work. It's a little bit like detective work. A customer brings their broke ass equipment into the store and tries to explain the problem in the best way they know how. These sometimes aren't very mechanically inclined people or they'd fix the stuff themselves so their problems have to be decoded by our counter personnel. Now I grab the work order and try to decipher the customers and the counter persons interpretation of the problem. Sometimes the problem is obvious and other times what appears to be the problem is just the result of the problem. A broken pull cord is a good example. At first it may seem that replacing the broken rope is all that's needed but many a rope has been replaced only to discover the machine doesn't run. The broken rope was the result of the customer pulling on it a hundred times, trying to get it started.

If this pic of Als wife Vikki with her vette doesn't get him to
scroll back and read this entire blog then  nothing will.

 So what does this have to do with blogging? I dunno, for this blog some of that repair work is fuel for posts. Also, some of that desire to figure things out gets applied to the mechanics of creating this blog. This would include the layout, presentation and pics involved not only for this blog but the social media and web page I maintain at work. Its not hard but it does have to be figured out.
 When I asked google the question, "what is a blog", the answer I got said "a website containing a writers experiences...blah, blah, blah" So, I guess it must be true because I read it on the net. This chicken scratch bullshit I post twice a week qualifies me as a writer. Suck that Hemingway.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Forest Rats

 Some of my readers know that I hit a deer with a bike a while back. The 16th anniversary of that crash was yesterday. If you didn't hear about it then you can read all about it here.
 I've been messing around with the GoPro trying to come up with a decent mount on the bike. On my ride to and from work I've been shooting video and to be honest, they all suck. There was one video of me almost hitting a big bird. I think it was a pterodactyl. There was also a video of a squirrel doing the back and forth dance in front of me. Make up your mind already. I don't even swerve for these idiots and consider them squishable. Whats not squishable, as I've discovered, are deer. Forest rats. The ones that are grazing in the fields don't bother me. I don't even get too excited about the ones standing along the road as if they're waiting for a clear shot to cross, like this one spotted two nights ago:

 The ones that freak me out are the speed demons doing the blind folded road runner impersonation. Here's a craptacular video but a good example of what I mean.

 If you squint hard enough you'll see a deer cross in front of the oncoming car, left to right. Part of me wishes I could have had a better video of this rat. On the other hand, I didn't have any extra underwear with me so no thanks on the close calls.
 So what do you do? Some people just won't ride because of these threats. Others wear all the gear available and "dress for the crash". That, combined with good scanning practices is probably a decent plan. I dress that way some times but not always. On any given day you'll spot me in varying degrees of appropriate riding gear. That's my choice. It's not always a smart choice but it's a risk I've chosen to accept. And I'm not alone. I've spoken to other riders that have crashed and suffered. They ride on their terms.
 The other day I didn't ride to work. I wussed out. Partially because of dense fog and if I didn't wear rain gear I'd be soaked, and partially because it seemed unsafe. I was uncomfortable with the whole idea.
 Safety didn't always rank so high. It used to be third behind showing off and looking good. My showing off skills aren't what they used to be and they weren't much to begin with. As for looking good, that really never was a thing for me and it gets worse as the years roll by. You'd think that would bump safety up to number one but you'd be wrong. While no one was looking, comfort quietly snuck its way up from last place and found a home on top of the list.
 What does that mean? Well first we have physical comfort. My Ultra Limited is designed with operator comfort in mind. I can hide behind the fairing while wearing a heated vest and turn on the heated seat and grips to aid in comfort. My choice to wear or not to wear a helmet also is based on comfort. Sometimes that comfort decision is based on the weather and sometimes it's about perceived risk. Ya, I know its a far cry from ATGATT (all the gear all the time) and may sound odd from someone thats banged their helmeted head on the asphalt after hitting a deer. It's just the way it is. One day I may feel comfortable wearing nothing but a smile while riding the Rat Turd with its cast iron seat and the next day I've got all the gear on. Wearing the gear gives me confidence and mental comfort and that helps me concentrate on the road. With the remembrance of that nasty encounter 16 years ago, lately I've been covering up with the appropriate gear.
 So one day you may see me jammin out head bangin on the Ultra. What I hope you never see again is me bangin my head on the road.


edit. I watched these videos after posting them and they have nowhere near the quality needed to actually see the deer. More practice needed. I also apologize for associating head bangin with Green Day as heard in the first video.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


 Sunday was the Slimey Crud Run, an event that involves a motorcycle gathering in Pine Bluff, Wi followed by a gathering in Leland. Whatever route you take from Pine Bluff to Leland is the "run" and it's not organized, chaperoned or even have start time.  It is what you make it. The draw for many is the tire kicking, bench racing and jaw jacking that goes on while the bikes are parked. Sunday my plan was to ride the sporty down with Dan but when he backed out I changed up my plan a bit. I rode the Ultra and later rode further to my oldest daughters house for a visit. The sporty may have made the ride but certainly not with the same comfort I enjoyed on Harleys finest touring rig.
 While in Leland I met fellow blogger "Coop" from Coop's Corner.  My memory isn't that good but besides JT who got me started in blogging, Coop may be the first blogger I've met in person. We didn't talk about blogs but we did talk about something we're both passionate about. Bikes, duh.
 There was a decent turnout of bikes but it was lacking in the odd stuff usually in attendance. There was one bike that caught my attention, not so much for the physical bike itself but for the whole package.
 This guy

 It's one thing to put a sidecar on your bike but something totally different to do it without any previous sidecar experience. Looking at the bike and mounts it was clear he built this on his own and to his own specs. I was parked next to him so I had a chance to hear his story and all I could do is grin and give him a thumbs up. Of course these projects are never done. I learned that a propeller may be in the works for this unusual rig.
 Speaking of grinning, I had a weird encounter while I was minding my own freakin business watching the bikes go by. A cop walked up to me and said "It's ok for you to smile". WTF? Now we're monitoring facial expressions? I smile when it's appropriate but I don't go walking around with a fake smile on like so many people do. If you see me grinnin you know it's real.
 Anyway, I was at a bike event so you know I was smiling on the inside and no court could ever prove otherwise.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Funny Noise

If you pay any attention at all to this blog then you remember me saying the sporty was making a weird noise.

 I suspected the noise was coming from behind the primary cover so one night after work I tore into it. What I found was a suspicious clutch hub bearing. The bearing was replaced, everything bolted back together, the chain was adjusted and then the primary case was refilled with B&M trick shift fluid. This is the same juice I had in there before because the clutch manufacturer recommends it. The good news is that the noise is gone. The bad news is I have a new slight squeaking noise if I launch the bike hard. I guess I'll have to limit the burnouts, wheelies and stop light racing for a while.
 Today is the Slimey Crud Run and I plan to ride the sporty unless the forecast is for weather more fitting for a bike with a windshield, heated seat and grips. I was supposed to meet Dan this morning but something came up so I'm on my own. There's no real plans other than that so we'll see how it plays out.

 I'm still experimenting with the GoPro and not having a lot of success. I guess I'm ok with the video but I need to work on the audio. Here is a few minutes of a ride I took on the Rat Turd when I went to the Watson Street bike show.