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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not an April fool

This photo appeared on my Facebook account two days ago.  Which made me wonder about my timeline.  According to our overlord Zuckerman, that photo appeared four years ago.  I would have sworn that I've been on a bike for longer than that.

No matter though.  "Time" someone once told me "is relative" and it's the experiences that matter the most.  That little yellow Zuma 125 will always hold a special place in my heart, it was my introduction to scootering and bikes in general.  I've sometimes considered getting another one just to kick about on, but the budget won't allow for it.

Somewhere between that early photo and now I've grown as a biker.  I've so much further to grow.  It occurs to me that I've still not traveled more than 150 miles in one day.  That I don't do 150 mile days often. 

That I've not traveled to the other coast or out of state yet.  That what may have started as a midlife crisis (I was looking at my 45th birthday at the time) has grown into something more.  

Commuting to and from work is still an adventure at times.  I am hoping to do more, see more...and I will.  Just give it time.

For now...I'll wait, plan, work and learn.  Grand adventures await.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Signs of spring

Parking at work the other day

I have Kimmie back.  I have been riding her for a couple days now all over town.  For now the oil leak issue has been solved and the good mechanics at Affordable Motor Sports (I've offered them a buddy's name that builds websites but they still don't have one) have her purring like a kitten again.

The problem however is that I am going to need a new gasket.  Surprisingly enough it's not going to cost me an arm and/or leg.  The CVT belt is good, the electronics are good and my "cold weather" starting issue seems to be resolved for now.  This cost however (about $500 + including labor) is more that I want to pay but it costs less than a newer bike would in the long run.  The economics of scootering.

However my brief sojourn into looking for a new bike got me wondering.  Eventually I'm going to have to replace her.  Eventually I'm going to start to pay more on maintenance than its worth.  Eventually I'm going to need a new bike.

I can already see I'm looking for more power and I don't see my current job changing anytime in the future.  Of course, I was also expecting to retire from 3M and here I am 6 or 7 months on being a leader in a new department.

Change is not a bad thing, sometime in the future I'm going to need a new bike.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Don't tell Kimmie but....

I've been looking at other bikes.

Maybe it's because spring is just around the corner.  Maybe it's because of my daily commute.  Maybe it's because Sue and company have been pushing me to buy a trike or Cam-Am.  I have to be honest, the Cam-Am idea has grown on me but frankly if I were to buy anything with three wheels it would more likely be a Ural.  It' fits with my "weird" side rather nicely.

Kimmie has been giving me issues lately and is currently in the shop.  A oil leak that I can't identify (originally I thought it was a bad drain plug) resulted in my engine light going off one day last week (I pulled off to the side ASAP and luckily I was near my buddy's Craig's house and he was able to get us home).  Cold weather starts are still a issue and for some reason my "check battery" light came on.

So for these reasons my guys at Affordable Motorsports (my go-to mechanics) are giving her the once over twice.  While their at it I asked them to pull the Tupperware off and give me an idea of the wear on the CVT belt.  This is her second day in the shop.

Depending on the cost of repairs; I'm looking at a couple of different options, although any change is still six to nine months down the road.  While I can certainly afford a new bike, I'm hoping to put it off as long as possible for economic reasons.

I have been "nickle'ed and dime'd" to death on cars in the past and don't want Kimmie to end up costing me more than she is worth,  Kimmie is about seven or eight years old and I've put 20,000 + miles on her in the last 2 years, in addition to wrecking her once.  She's served me very well and I've no desire to get a new bike...but I have to be realistic too.

Truthfully the idea of a manual transmission still scares me a bit.  I just think that with the traffic being what it is in Florida - where one out of every four or five drivers is uninsured - worrying about gearing and such is just an extra burden.

However that also limits my choices.  I also want a little more power than I currently have.  The 500cc of Kimmie has meet my needs and more, but I think a slight tick upward into the 650 to 850cc range is in order.  My choices narrow even more.

Here is a rough idea of the bikes that I'm looking at.  They are in no particular order and the links are all to the newest models.  It makes more sense to buy used but again if I buy new then I know exactly what maintenance was done when and who did it.

Suzuki Burgman 650 - The granddaddy of all maxi scoots!  Storage and comfort at a semi-hefty price although their are lots of options available.  Plus, honestly I'm leaning more towards an "actual motorcycle".  The secondary market is great for a Burgman however.

Aprilla Mana 850 - An automatic motorcycle with paddle shifters. I have mixed emotions about this one.  While I like a lot of what it has to offer, it's also a bit pricey and the reviews don't seem that great.

Honda CTX - probably my favorite.  ABS and a good price although limited options.  Storage is non existent.
Honda CTX - thanks to Honda for the pic

BMW GT 650 - Pricey but a lot of options.  ABS is standard and it's probably the only "beamer" I'll ever own.

Kymco Myroad 700i - Well Kimmie's bigger better sister (Myra?) has a bigger engine, the ergonomics and storage are still an issue for me.

Triumph Bonneville - OK, not really an automatic but that lovely classic design and the secondary market is full of them.  Again no storage.

Royal Enfield - Again not automatic, or even that powerful (it's only 500cc) and would probably be better suited to life in the city.  Not the long commute I have now.  Still its a great looking bike and they even make a diesel model!  Who knows if we will ever see it in America.

In the end though it will come down to form vs function.  What is going to meet my needs and satisfy my soul.  So the Honda CTX, just may be my next bike.  Of course it all depends on how Kimmie heals.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Susie's Side Door Garden Cafe

Susan, bad knee and all, cooking away
Every year the community I live holds a park wide sale.  This year it was a little lighter than usual and for the third year in a row we carried on the tradition of selling food.  Susan spent most of her life working in the food industry and we have considered opening a restaurant or even a food truck in the past.

However these things have never come to pass, so once a year she gets to flex her muscles behind the grill; cooking hot dogs and mild Italian sausages to the crowds of hungry people that invade our community to look at other peoples junk.

This tradition started when our wonderful next door neighbor Bob died a few years ago.  Where he did breakfast and then switched to lunch, we decided to simply do lunch.  He placed his grill at the end of the driveway and sold food directly from there, we created a little outdoor bistro.   I've often threatened my mother that I was going to put her on roller skates to serve as our waitress.

Susan also makes a traditional home made "Coney Island Hot Dog sauce" as well as a pepper and onion mix.  In addition to the usual condiments.

For what ever reason this year did not seem as busy as last year did.  Last year we run out of sausages, this year it was hot dogs.   We made a small profit this year and have enough left over soda products to last a while.  Generally speaking I avoid soft drinks, but I'm willing to bite the bullet on this one.

And idea of how bad traffic is.  
I could have gone riding in the afternoon but honesty was to tired after this years cafe.  Last year, even though it was busier, it seemed like we had more time to prepare.  Last year I run out on the bike several times to buy buns or dogs as we need them.  This year we were done when we run out of food.

We also have the various neighbors show up at the end of the sale (about 1 PM) to nosh down on what ever is left - at a reduced price.

It's fun, frantic and makes us a little bit of cash.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday off the bike.

Monday, March 9, 2015

What a difference a day makes.

So let me paint you a picture.

I'm running late since I can't find my security badge to get into work.  I'm also running late because I got interested in learning about the best burger in Tucson (Yea Road Pickle crew I'm blaming you!).  Jumping on Kimmie and speeding off I got stuck behind a box truck doing about 65 miles per hour, which was actually a blessing because someone did not put full in her and the fuel gauge light was glaring at me with one yellow angry eye.

I hate to draft off of a truck.  It's dangerous and stupid and goes against every safety protocol I can think of.  Yet here I am, drafting behind him at 65 mph watching my revs drop into the 5K range, keeping the engine from doing that much work and extending my fuel economy some.  When I finally do pull into the petrol station I'm on fumes again.

Lately I've been using the highest octane I can, hoping that it might solve; at least in part, my starting issues but instead my fuel economy - which is normally around 53 miles per gallon - drop drastically.  Currently I'm only in the mid to high 40 range, which I can contribute some of that drop to the stop and go traffic of city living.

 Somehow I still managed to make it to my job with about 5 minutes to spare...and the day, although long, was a good one.

I got out before the rush hour started in earnest.  I considered taking the highway home but didn't like the idea of dealing with traffic, my normal way home would involve a lot of traffic lights...again not my first choice.

So I took the long way home, which lead onto easy twists and turns and past various farms, shrub lands and across the river  It took me close to 90 minutes to get home, but I was in no hurry.  Daylight savings time put the sun at my back and it was a warm day, so warm that I actually felt a chill entering into a slight valley shaded by trees.

Again I think that I need to just say "fudge it" and keep a small digital camera on me at all times.  Who would believe that I entered a tunnel of trees that actually bent over the roadway?  Or that some poor soul hit a cow which was now laying dead on the side of the road?  It's an odd thought to want to pull over and take a picture of it.  I felt bad for the cow and worse for what ever hit it.

I'm an introvert, living inside my head normally.  So it's nice to drop work off at the door, to let my financial future take care of itself and just get out for a bit.  I needed today and it's hard to turn the bike into the driveway after a ride like that.

Last year and this year have been rough, but things do get better.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What a difference a year makes.

So let me paint you the picture.

It's dusk and I'm making like a bat out of hell on the highway trying to beat the rain.  I was promised by the weatherman that it was not going to rain.  Yet the skies were a steel grey all day and we had pop up showers throughout the day.  It started in earnest when I was heading home.

I hate the highway.  I hate it in rush hour and I hate it in the rain.  It's raining, not pouring down rain but enough to make me put on the rain gear.  I love my rain gear as I'm dry, toasty and warm.

Last year at this time I was feeling mortal.  I was still recovering from a wreck and as I healed another medical issue, previously hidden, was discovered; which kept me off the bike for longer as I wanted as I healed and mended.  I was feeling all my 47 years.

I'm an year older now and in the past year I've ridden a bit, but Kimmie and I still don't have that magic we used to have.  My riding time has been limited to medical issues in the family, but thankfully not my medical issues.  By weather (which I would have rode in before), by circumstance - most of which I created.

I thought about all this and more as Kimmie and I worked our way home through crowed streets and down detours.  Getting stuck behind a accident and delayed by a train, oh the joy of city life.  We ended up going out of our way for gas and she again showed me her heart because she literally was on fumes when I finally gave her a drink.  For these reasons I'm tearing up the highway as darkness closes in and

She's dirty, beat up, leaking oil from somewhere which is a concern and I know I'll need to have a actual mechanic look at that problem.  And possibly replacing the CVT belt.  She's having trouble starting still when the temperature is cool.

I've no desire to trade her in or give up on riding, like a few friends have.

I think about bike week, how there are so many places I want to go.  I also know that business commitments and our annual "Susie's side door cafe" (the annual community yard sale where we sell hot dogs and such) will keep me off the bike this weekend and next...and the week after that.

I think about Susan's knee and how she can't climb on back anymore.   What choices we have remaining.  I think about all this and more in the rain on a road I hate to ride.

I think I think to much.  "Just shut up and ride."