Scoot Commute

Pressure Drop

I didn’t ride yesterday because there were tornadoes (!) predicted in the area and I’m somewhat sensible.  I did ride today on the BMW and it’s obvious that my mind was elsewhere because I forgot to turn off my turn signals after almost every turn (hey, at least I use them) and twice I forgot to downshift into first gear at traffic lights.  I did pass some guy on an old Tengai on I-95 (going the opposite direction) and I think I’ve seen him around West Warwick too where we’ve done the wave.  Oddly enough I didn’t see any other bikes this morning despite it being 70F and dry.

So yeah, I’ve got a lot on my mind.  I haven’t really been on my own in twenty years or so and I’m trying to figure out what my plan is or even if I have a plan.  I’m sure it’ll sort itself out and in the meantime I’ll do my best to do things that I enjoy.

And to change the subject I was messing around with Google Earth yesterday and found a much better Street View featuring Siobhan.

Pretty obvious who it is now!

Pretty obvious who it is now!

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Longshot Kick De Bucket

Posted in BMW R75/5 (Mackie Messer), Daily Commute by cheesebot on 2015/06/08

I’m just going to start this with a congratulations to American Pharoah and I’m sad that Siobhan didn’t get a chance to see another Triple Crown winner.  She so loved her ponies and would’ve been thrilled at the news.

The amount of time Siobhan spent on the computer working on this blog and other stuff (ADVrider ride reports and reviews, paying bills, selling and buying on eBay, etc.) was a massive amount of our time spent together.  As long as we lived together we shared an office with our computers back to back so we could converse while working or playing.  This was my typical view:

sioblog

My point is that writing is a lot of work.  Especially for a perfectionist like me who has to carefully chose the exact word, make sure there are no misplaced commas, and doublecheck my doublespacing habit.

Siobhan had to be constantly doing something and that was probably a good influence on me because it forced me to go out and do things atypical of my character.  We also always gave ourselves extra work for some additional income.  When we started out I was a caretaker at a nature preserve on Long Island in addition to my full time job at the university library.  She sold on eBay (a lot) in addition to her full time job and helping me with the caretaker job.  At the end she was teaching the MSF classes along with her job at Providence College (by the way, this write-up that PC did describes her job much better than my attempts) and we both were also managing rental apartments in houses that we own on our street.

Everything is up to me now and it’s a lot of work.  On our rides and trips Siobhan was the documentarian and photographer so I got the privilege of sitting back and enjoying the ride.  I’m too accustomed to experiencing and not recording so I won’t be as good at reporting.

Wow, that’s a lot of words to apologize for my lack of updates – see what I mean?

Anyway, I have been riding to work but, as I’ve said, my commute is mainly on the highway and so is far less interesting and dramatic.  The coolest thing is that I get to see elephants on the ride home because I pass the Roger Williams Park Zoo on I-95 (I promise to snap a pic as soon as I remember to grab the real camera).

For as long as I’ve owned the BMW R75/5 it’s had a sticky throttle and I thought this was kind of normal; or at least an effect of the throttle tube binding on the narrower-than-stock euro version handlebars that I have on there.  I grew used to it and I kind of liked how I could use the sticky throttle as a cruise control of sorts and use my right hand when necessary.  However, getting stuck in traffic the other day it just became unbearable and even a little dangerous because it got to the point where I had to use some force to bring the idle back down each time and I decided that it was time to open up the thing and figure out what was going on.

When I took the throttle assembly apart back in the garage, lubed everything up, and got it all back together it stopped working normally.  I took a look at the cam thingy that the throttle turns and noticed that the gears were pretty stripped.

I ordered a new one from Hans along with a spare clutch cable (can’t have too many of those) and some springs.  This weekend I had a chance to put it all back together and, OH WOW, it feels like a totally new bike.  The throttle is so smooth I just want to ride around for no reason whatsoever – and I did.

I still have to figure out what my vacation trip will be this year.  I have a lot of time I need to use up and right now we’d typically be preparing for our big camping couple of weeks.  I’m think about taking the BMW this time though.

Buffalo Stance

Posted in Advocacy, Daily Commute, MSF RiderCoach by cheesebot on 2015/03/31

It was a bit chilly this morning but I decided to ride in anyway.  My ride in was uneventful, maybe a bit windy but without any Murano run ins or any other bikes for that matter.  On the way home I decided to cut through the Warwick CCRI campus (depending on the time of day it can be a nice shortcut) to see if the MSF classes had started up again.  I used to stop and watch and visit with Siobhan if it was near the break time.  Tonight I saw a bunch of little bikes going around in a counterclockwise oval with a RiderCoach on either side of the group.  I couldn’t tell who the coaches were tonight so I’m not sure if they knew who I was as I slowly rode by and out of the lot.  I know that she made a big impression with these people too.

I took these pics in September 2014

About to demonstrate an exercise on a TW200.

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Encouraging the next generation of riders going in a counterclockwise oval.

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She always loved to share her knowledge if she could help someone.  All of her jobs were about teaching in one way or another and I’m sure anyone who got their motorcycle license through her will remember her.

Hallelujah

Posted in BMW R75/5 (Mackie Messer), Daily Commute by cheesebot on 2015/03/28

This week finally brought milder temperatures and I vowed to myself to get on one of the bikes at some point (in between bouts of darkness and pouring rain).  I only got into the garage a couple times over the winter storms and even then it was just to move the battery tenders around to other bikes, move the snowblower around or grab some tools for something in the house.  Due to the mind-numbing snow and cold and grey combined with my occasional self-imposed isolation I managed to get none of the planned projects even started.  Whatever, I’ve got some time for that, now I’ve just got to make sure these guys are road worthy.

My usual go-to bike is the BMW.  He’s was running a bit rough last time so I wanted to check the timing, plugs, etc.

2015-03-15 13.40.39

The timing looked pretty good but when I pulled the plugs…

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I probably should check these more often.  It’s a good thing I found a seller on eBay with a couple NOS boxes of the correct plugs.

2015-03-25 17.54.08

Well, after getting the BMW all buttoned up and fueled up I found the battery was still too weak to get it going and the kickstart didn’t want to wake him up from his winter slumber.  It’s probably time for a new battery.

Anyway, I went over to the Honda Elite 250.  Turn the key, push the button – vrooooom.  Yay Honda.  I went over to the Transalp.  Turn the key, choke all the way out, push the button – vroooooom.  Yay Honda again.  I let it warm up a bit, pumped up the tires and checked for any loose thingies.

Finally on Friday the temperatures and precipitation conspired to get me back on the road.  I was nervous about hopping back on a bike (it’s been since Dec 5th) but I instantly felt at home – no emotional baggage (yet) and no uneasiness with my skills or balance.  I went to lunch at Trinity (typical Friday lunch) and had my mug filled with Siobhan’s Stout.

2015-03-27 12.49.50

Heavy Rains … and I see another scooter rider?!

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute by sbahn on 2014/11/25

I never see anyone riding on my commute. Well, maybe on a beautiful, sunny summer day. But not now. Not in the cold, the dark, the rain, the leaves, the road construction.

Yesterday morning was torrential rain. As I was riding up my cut-through by the El Tiburon bar, a guy was barreling down Harold Street on a scooter. Thing is, he wasn’t wearing a helmet or any kind of raincoat. He was wearing a Dumb Donald (of Fat Albert fame) woolie cap. Not sure how that was helping alleviate the pain of rain stinging the face.

I gave the lobster claw fist pump, and he gave me several toots on the horn.

 

The Saga of the Spark Plug

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute by sbahn on 2014/09/17

How a normal person buys a spark plug

  • Goes to auto parts store
  • Tells clerk make & model of bike
  • Clerk looks it up
  • Clerk locates correct plug
  • Normal person pays
  • Normal person leaves store with the spark plug

How I buy a spark plug

  • Pull old plug and note number
  • Confirm fitment in manual
  • Go online to confirm what plugs fit
  • Write everything down on a sticky note
  • Go online to check what auto parts shop in Providence will have the plug
  • But still go to the shop I prefer even though the website showed nothing
  • Guy at the shop wasn’t particularly nice when telling me, “We don’t have it. I can order it.”
  • Get annoyed
  • Go to the gym
  • Stop at auto parts shop closer to home
  • Get in sorta line as folks aren’t very good at lining up at this shop
  • Wait as the two guys in front of me have the clerk (Isaiah) try to find a matching hose to the one they brought in
  • Watch as a guy attempts to make a return, only to be told that only the manager can do that
  • Watch as clerk yells for manager, Dustin, and receives no response
  • Watch as returning guy just sorta stands there, not knowing what to do
  • Laugh when clerk, after about 5 minutes, announces that Dustin must be outside
  • Watch as Dustin walks through the shop door
  • Clerk yells to Dustin to help the returner customer
  • Dustin yells over to me and asks what I need
  • I yell back I need a spark plug
  • He tells me to get in line behind returner guy
  • I don’t know why since hose guys are almost done
  • Oh, I failed to mention, this is all happening in Spanish, except when I’m spoken to
  • I get behind returner guy
  • Hose guys finish so Dustin tells me to go to my original clerk, Isaiah
  • I tell Isaiah the plug is for a motorcycle and he gives me a concerned look
  • Dustin tells Isaiah to cross-reference the number
  • It appears Isaiah doesn’t know how to do this
  • I point on computer screen at where I think he should click
  • He looks at me, and Dustin yells over that I’m correct
  • Success! Isaiah finds the cross-reference number
  • Unsuccess! Plug is not in stock, but it is at another store
  • Call the other store and confirm that yes, indeed, the plug is in stock
  • Leave the store and saddle up the Buddy
  • Get ready to ride down the curb into the parking lot
  • Front tire lands on the ground just as a red scooter with a “Buddy for Mayor” sticker drives speedily into the same spot, ridden by a guy with fabulous dreads and earbuds
  • He yells over “We’re sharing a spot” as I bust out laughing
  • Head down to yet another auto parts shop, not the sister store of the one I was just at, but one that showed the plug in stock online
  • Watch as Casby’s poodle hurdles across traffic-infested Elmwood Avenue
  • Continue to watch as Casby casually strides behind said dog into traffic
  • Arrive alive at the third auto parts shop
  • Stride in and immediately have the clerk ask me what I want, in a nice way
  • He looks up the plug information
  • Success! They have it in stock
  • $5.50 later, and after a “we stock a lot of motorcycle and scooter plugs because there are a lot around here”, I leave the shop with plug in hand
  • Spin Buddy back toward home
  • Notice a dirt bike riding behind me in rear view mirror
  • Move over to the left of lane as dirt bike appears to want to pass
  • Receive a flash of a smile and peace sign from guy riding an 80’s Honda XR 200
  • Honda XR continues to pass a bunch of vehicles in front of me before turning down a side street
  • I eventually make it to my street in one piece, spark plug safely tucked away in my left jacket pocket

Why, why does it take stopping at three shops, an excruciatingly long wait in one where it felt like I was in a Central American airport with all the different accents, to purchase one lousy plug for a Suzuki DR350? Why?

I thought living in a city was supposed to make things MORE convenient.

What a day

This post doesn’t really have anything to do with scooters, except for the fact that I did, indeed, commute on the Buddy today.

One of the IT guys was over in my office today because I couldn’t get the stupid network printer to show as online. Apparently I gave a lot of the Help Desk folks a good laugh with my ranting description of the issue, including “yes, I did turn it off and on, and that did nothing.”

Anyway, he’s a really nice guy, and has been working on the campus for a long time. He’s been diagnosed with ALS. Young guy, probably late 40s/early 50s. And he’s really angry about it. We had a long talk as we both struggled with getting this stupid printer to work.

Later in the day I met with one of the profs, who happens to also be a Catholic priest, to go over some of his image content for a histology course. Often in my meetings with professors, I get a little lesson on the content (they can’t help themselves…don’t get me talking about semantics ‘cos you’ll get a little lecture, too).

He opened up a slide with an image of a slice of a cockroach eye. He says to me, “Look at God’s brilliance. Look at how beautiful that is.” I looked at the image, then at the prof, then back at the image, and finally muttered, “Ya know, it is very beautiful. Such a perfect design.”

At the end of the day, as I’m riding from the gym (oh, there was another scooter parked at the gym so I’m not the only one!) into downtown to go to the credit union, I just started crying. Why can’t I just work at a normal place?

ATVs in Providence

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute by sbahn on 2014/08/19

Casually riding home home tonight on the Buddy, three ATVs, three abreast, scream around the corner onto Sprague near the rehabbed brick factory on Dexter. Thing is, a car was also coming down the street. I don’t know how a collision was avoided; car, 3 ATVs, scooter. Wild ride and it’s only a 4 mile commute. Why don’t the cops do something about the ATVs, most likely stolen, riding around city streets. And Angel wants to be Rhode Island’s gubner, ha!

Power Out on Atwells: Red Light Crisis

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute by sbahn on 2014/07/03

To my lovely Jeep this afternoon, struggling in the confuse-a-cat traffic at the intersection of Dean and Atwells, who thought it appropriate to yell out the window “fuck you!” when I scooted between the gridlock…shoulda thought about that initial purchase, eh?! Haha!

Oil Change for DR Little — 11,318

Tick Tick Tick go away!

Getting the mud-encrusted skidplate off the DR350 to change the oil

Getting the mud-encrusted skidplate off the DR350 to change the oil

After freaking out after the goo I found on the dipstick after my arrival at the first-of-the-year Pachaug Camp-N-Rides, I poured some random oil into the Suzuki DR350 to get me through the next few days (thanks Dave!).

This week has been and continues to be a bit of a hell week, but I knew I had to change the oil as I need to ride the baby DR on Thursday down to the Twisted Throttle Rhode Island Bike Night as I’m working the CCRI table because, really, someone from the moto-training courses in Rhode Island has gotta represent for the ADV crowd.

Sooo, after leaving work late because of a big annual event, I headed downtown to City Hall to pay my property taxes to Providence so my street can be swept by the auto-machines once a year and potholes cannot be filled. Someone had the bright idea of having the tax office open late until 7pm a couple of days before taxes were due, and it was brilliant. I got fucking rockstar parking immediately in front of City Hall, and there was no one in line. The best part? The lady called me ‘honey’ which made me smile.

Then onto the gym, first time since the CNR because I had gotten beaten to hell on the Saturday afternoon ride. An hour later, I pop onto the Honda Elite and head home, knowing I had a pile of laundry and a sad Suzuki waiting.

In true shade mechanic style, a sup after every bolt

In true shade mechanic style, a sup after every bolt

Oh, but wait.

I GOT EVERY LIGHT ON BROAD STREET.

This has never happened before. I was screaming inside my helmet after I passed through the last light before the turn onto my street, “I got every fucking light!”

Wanna put a big grin on a girl’s face? Give her a crowded city street with a full view of green. I vividly recall watching all the lights turn green on Avenue A one very early morning in New York when I was out riding my bicycle. It’s a freaking symphony.

After stuffing the washer with laundry, it was out to the garage with a rare Strongbow in hand.

Trying to yank the oil filter out with no fingernails is not an easy task

Trying to yank the oil filter out with no fingernails is not an easy task

Part of one Tom Ashbrooke on Supreme Court decisions about copyright and broadcast rights, and affirmative action and college admissions, which I thought was interesting, and into a ridiculous Tom Ashbrooke about life coaches (really?!) that I kept thinking this has got to be enough oil that I poured in, I was done.

Mileage for posterity

Mileage for posterity