Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dodged a bullet

Well, we may have dodged a bullet, at least in my county. The national weather guessers said between 6 and 11 inches of snow would be dropped from this winter storm but part of the night warmed up above freezing and instead we got about a half inch of ice and then about 5 inches of snow before it moved out headed for Pennsylvania. Look out Steve!

The good news is I had the common sense not to brave the highways this morning at 4:30am and eventually find myself stuck in a hotel or worse not able to navigate my way home. So I encouraged my company's management to close the office, which they did, and then trudged out to the garage and took Irondad's advice: sat on my motorcycle and made motor noises.

Not really.

What I did was review the itinerary for the proposed California trip. I'm still not sure we're going yet. Like the young person who at first thinks the job as a soda jerk in the ice cream shop is the career of a lifetime only to realize that "All the ice cream you can eat" grows tiresome after a few too many dips, I too, thought that the opportunity to ride from California to the Pacific Northwest and then head for home would be the trip to die for!

It might be. But being a little older than a young person, and having learned years ago to look before I leap, I started scrutinizing all the possible details, costs and benefits of a trip to the west coast. Our leaderperson for the group handed out an itinerary last night at the Pizza Cottage. I'm still reviewing it:

= = = = = = = =

Trip of a lifetime
Day 1 – Fly to San Jose pick up bikes at HD Shop Ask for Bubba
Day 2 – San Francisco 50 miles
Day 3 – First day of ride – RT1 Coastline of CA to Fort Bragg 183 miles
Day 4 – Crescent City, CA riding through the Redwoods 211 miles
Day 5 – Newport, OR 232 miles
Day 6 – Olympia, WA (drop some wives off to fly home) 231 miles
Day 7 – Yakima, WA 185 miles
Day 8 – Orofino, ID 254 miles
Day 9 – Bozeman, MT (partly highway) 372 miles
Day 10 – Cody, WY (Yellowstone National Park) 200 miles
Day 11 – Gillette, WY 251 miles

Day 12 – Spearfish, SD 93 miles
Day 13 (Sturgis)

Day 14 – Have 4 days to get home 1357 miles
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17 – Arrive home 3636 Miles Total

Estimated Costs per couple

Flight $350
Hotels $1280 $80.00 per day x 16
Food $800 $50.00 per day x 16
Freight to CA $325
Gas ($3 Gal) $320 $20 per day x 16

Total $2925

= = = = = = =

I copied it here just as he had it typed up. There might be as many as 8 bikes and 15 people. If we all didn't get along so well together I'd be skeptical of a peaceful trip. Then again, I've never spent 2 weeks on a bike with this group. Familiarity tends to change some of a group's dynamics.

When I showed the paper to Teresa, she looked it over and asked quietly, "Do you think we can get the new seat before the trip?" The longest we have ever ridden in one day was a little over 300 miles, which on a cruiser ain't bad. Still, if Mama is saddle sore and not happy, ain't nobody happy.

I'll keep you posted on the seat situation...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Here we go again

Last August I posted a link to a story published on Maine about what the Farmer's Almanac had to say about the upcoming winter season. The almanac said "at least two-thirds of the country can expect colder than average temperatures, with only the Far West and Southeast in line for near-normal readings."

Unfortunately, the almanac has been pretty much on target, at least for central Ohio. And today many in the area are saying, "Here we go again!"

We got a couple of inches of the white stuff on Sunday and now they're predicting another half foot or so. Arrrrghhh!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Harley-Davidson plans job cuts

The York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record reported this morning that Harley-Davidson plans to cut about 1,100 jobs companywide over the next two years as it cuts production by up to 13 percent. More signs of economic troubles.

Harley-Davidson has some of its operations (paint and finish maybe?) in Pennsylvania.

Details here.

And a Wednesday, January 21 story published on says that Harley-Davidson is seeking federal bailout for its finance division.

Details here.

= = = = = = = = = = =

I am told by long time Harley owners that not long ago that there was a long waiting list for Harleys and most of the Harleys sold were used. One friend said that if you were fortunate enough to get a new Harley you could immediately turn around and sell it for a nifty profit.

Now, not surprisingly, many HD dealership have bikes from more than one model year on the sales floor.

Doug C

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mid-west Winter DTs

As multitudes of mid-west riders have known for years and I am reminded daily, winter riding in the mid-west is pretty much hit or miss. This year its mostly miss.

I am always greatly impressed by the fortitude and determination to ride in winter by riders like Steve Williams (Scooter in the Sticks), Dom - blogger handle is Charlie6 - (Redleg's Rides ), and of course Dan Bateman (Musings of an Intrepid Commuter) who rides for work in the Pacific Northwest come rain or snow or more rain. A definite Road Warrior.

But this rider knows his limits and draws the line at snow and ice cover roads and temps below 25ºF. In an effort to stave off the riding withdrawal symptoms that always come this time of year, trips are planned, catalogs are drooled over, and books and blogs are read. These actions only serve to take the edge off. A little.

I have a couple dozen blogs that I regularly read. Many of them are listed in the column on the right. I have been remiss in keeping the list up to date and today realized that a couple more need added.

Allen Madding's blog (Allen Madding's Musings) has been around for a long time and I've been reading his writings for months. (I can't believe I overlooked listing you Allen.) Allen is a fellow IT professional (actually, I'm not in the same league as he but we do similar work) and also offers technical advice via the Free Tech Answers blog.

Another site that I added to the Riding News and Resource list was brought to my attention via an email to my Google GMail account. The site's name is Black N Blue Motorcycle Blog and, name connotations aside, seems to be a good resource for motorcycle news articles, events, blogs, and products.

The site has a nice clean look to it and although they have been around off and on since 2001 I just discovered them and they promise they're online for good, now.

So if you find yourself a bit irritable and little depressed each time you look outside at the snow and freezing temperatures maybe you're like me and going through riding withdrawal. Pull up a chair and read a blog or book or product review.

If that doesn't take the edge off, try doing it with your helmet or goggles on. I won't tell.
Ride if you can.
Doug C

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Calamities, Projects and Repairs, Oh My!

The house is quiet now and I am taking a moment to catch my breath from a whirlwind of minor calamities, major projects and unexpected repairs. It seems as though fate collected a multitude of unpleasantries and brought them to me for redemption this past week.

Wednesday morning the hard drive in my home office computer choked and corrupted several system files that are needed to boot up successfully. Fortunately, the drive is not totally dead and I recovered most of my important data by sticking the drive in another PC and copying the data to another disk. I'd have to restore the operating system on the PC this weekend.

Wednesday was the same day central Ohio got socked by an Alberta clipper that dumped 6 to 8 inches of snow. I used to love the snow. In fact, I used to sneak out late at night and shovel my neighbor's walks and drives. But my passion has cooled considerably the past several seasons, and since most of my current neighbors are now younger than me, they can fend for themselves. (And this morning I heard a radio spot about how the road to recovery is called US 1 and has destinations called Long Key, Marathon, and Big Pine Key. Oh, brother!)

Thursday was really cold and the temps Thursday night got down to a minus 14ºF. It was Friday morning when I realized the furnace was not working. It was 51ºF and falling in the house so everyone went to work to find some warmth. Fortunately, the fix was as simple as clearing the frost from the combustible air intake and that task was completed by my furnace guy sometime during the day.

Saturday morning came cold again - minus 20ºF the paper said - but the furnace was still working. At 9:00AM the missus and I started the bathroom redeux project which meant preparing the walls for new paint. This meant sanding and spackling and sanding some more.

While I waited for the quickset spackling to dry, I started the operating system installation process on my sick PC. This tag team process went on for about an hour. Multitasking at its most diverse.

Shortly before the noon hour, Teresa says there is water coming out of the hot water heater. The temperature and pressure relief valve has decided it is tired of holding back the flood and is taking a break. I shut off the valves and go back to sanding walls, formatting a hard drive and copying files. The hot water can wait a few hours.

About mid afternoon I took a break from the redeux and got to a place where the office PC was actually talking to the Internet and not talking back to me, so I looked at the prices for a new water heater hoping against the possibility of a worse case scenario. They start at about $400 and I started to calculate the miscellaneous motorcycle addons I'll might have to postpone from purchasing.

Fortunately, the relief valve installed without issue and I turned the hot and cold water valves back on only to see the drain valve at the bottom of the tank spewing hot water. The valve, made mostly of plastic with some rubber washers, was tight, but water still flowed. So, I turned all the valves off, again.

It looked like the rubber washer was too compressed to seal so I took an old old rubber inner tube and cut out a new washer to help out the old. I would have given the solution a less than 50% chance of working but it did work and I'm still please as punch.

At the end of the day, I think I would call the bout between me and fate as a draw: the water heater is salvaged, most of my data is saved with my PC is limping along for now, and the bathroom is functional, although still a work in progress.

Such are the joys of home ownership. And, yes, I'd rather be riding but you gotta come home sometime.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Key West Clipper

The snow fell steadily all day and the temperatures hovered around 24º F; an Alberta clipper, they called it. I left work around 3:30 hoping to beat some of the traffic but it was futile. My dry road commute normally takes about 50 minutes. Tonight it was nearly 3 hours.

The weather people on the local news say we have about 6 inches of the white stuff on the ground and now that I'm home I can look out my front door and admire its beauty. But driving in it sucks.

The only bright spot in the entire 3 hour trip home was the back side of this vehicle. We were stopped waiting for something when I pondered all of the stickers placed there to let the world know that the owner travels and presumably has an opinion about several subjects.

Then my eye focused on the green sticker on the right side. I took a picture with my camera phone and so its really blurry.

When I saw the sticker, it took me away to a sun bathed, sub-tropical paradise with bicycles and scooters on the street, tourists on the sidewalk, and Conchscooter just a few miles up the highway.

The sticker says:

Key West

Sunday, January 11, 2009

16 days on the road?

I had lost interest in the Sunday afternoon football game after about 10 minutes and had actually started to nod off. My wife, having grown up in the Nazarene church, calls these short respites on Sundays a "Nazarene Nap".

Whatever you call them, I sometimes categorize them as therapy, recuperation, or just well deserved. Today's nap was probably out of boredom as the weather is not the least bit hospitable toward two wheeled riders. Although we didn't get the 3 to 6 inches of snow they first forecast, we did get about a quarter inch of ice yesterday and now light snow is falling.

Anyway, I was about half awake when the phone rang. Caller ID said it was a riding buddy so I picked up and acted like I was wide awake which must not have fooled him because the first thing out of his mouth was, "You awake?"

My buddy said he had a plan for the "trip of a lifetime" and then laid out a thumbnail sketch for me.

Fly out to San Francisco where the bikes would be trucked a week earlier. Then travel north along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts. Then head east to Idaho, down into Utah and then Colorado and maybe Kansas or Nebraska. A total of 16 days starting near the beginning of July.

"Think about it," he said. "Talk it over with the wife," he said.

Needless to say, I was wide awake with my brain running in high gear. No more dozing for me.

This really would be the trip of a lifetime.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Central Ohio Yamaha owners might find this tidbit informative.

Yamaha of Columbus (LINK) has relocated and
is now under new-ownership @ 5370 Westerville Road in Westerville,
Ohio. *Located next to the World Famous IRON PONY MOTORSPORTS*

Iron Pony Motorsports is a large after market motorcycle store that central Ohio is fortunate to have. It is housed in a former K-Mart building and no one frowns on you when you park your ride on the sidewalk under the eve. Those that don't live in the area can check out their web site. LINK

Put away Give away Throw away

"We have too much stuff!" I said to my bride. She gave me one of those "you're just now realizing it?" looks.

No, I didn't just realize it. I've known it for some time but knowing and facing facts face to face are two different things. I have the terrible malady of being a pack rat with less than optimal organization skills and we have too much stuff.

There. I've said it. "But", I explain to Teresa, "the stuff I save is not junk. Its... its Junque!"

What brought on this epiphany was a new microwave oven. The display on the old one was missing several segments that made reading the minutes and seconds more akin to cooking by calendar instead of timer. So, Santa brought a new one and in the process of swapping the new for the old, we needed to clean and organize the area.

That meant that all of the coffee mugs in the mug rack above the oven used for "temporary" storage of stuff like shoestrings, old coins, old keys, and whatever, needed emptied and the stuff place in a more permanent home like they should have in the first place.

The 2nd cup that the missus emptied caused an exclamation. "What the heck are these?!?"

It was a key ring with a key fob, a car key and a Kwikset door key.

"I think they're my old house and car keys," I said.

"You mean the ones you "lost" on that motorcycle ride last spring? It cost $64 to replace the key and fob!"


Yeah, we have to much stuff. Divestment seems to be in order. Put away. Give away. Throw away.