Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cue the banjos

I've been playin' softball for a few years now. I freely admit that I ain't worth a pint of piss at the game. I'm built for contact sports, and hadn't swung a bat at a ball since I was 16. That said, the guys I play with are good guys though, and it's somethin' to help keep me somewhat physically active, so I stick with it.

I got it in my head a few weeks ago to work on my swing mechanics in an attempt to make a little more of a contribution to the team. Some coachin' from Joe and a pile of YouTube videos helped, but I needed to be able to take some swings at home, with what little down time I have.

Since I'm a cheap bastard, I grabbed one of Dad's old bats and a few old softballs layin' around, which left me only in need of a tee. With a swiped length of hose from work, a 2x4 and an hour, I whipped one up. Works pretty doggone good too, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Place, regardless of circumstances

I did my usual security gig at Gettysburg Bike Week last weekend. It's many hot hours in the sun, surrounded by lots of bikers marinatin' in their leathers and other assorted stupid people, but it's work that I enjoy nonetheless.

Anyways, I figured since I would be there anyway and the T-bird was lookin' pretty decent, I'd go ahead and enter her in the bike show there on Saturday. When I arrived, there was dozens of Harley heads sittin' there with their terry cloths, toothbrushes and chrome polish, just goin' to town on their bike. I jumped off, slapped at the chrome with a bar cloth for about 30 seconds, then headed off to get to work.

Lo and behold, no other European bikes showed up for the show, I wound up winnin' first place for the Best Euro Import.
Hey, first place is first place. I'll take it.

***

On an aside, I've not been doin' a good job of snappin' pictures as of late. However, I snapped a few from the burnout pit at GBW. This was one of my favorites...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cottage Weekend 2014

This weekend was our annual Cottage Weekend for me and my friends. We've been doin' it for a good, long time now, and it never gets old. I've been grindin' it pretty hard workin' the last few weeks, and the whole damn summer has just been insanely busy. I was damn good and ready for a few days of relaxin' on the river. After spendin' most of last year's Cottage Weekend with my ass planted in the recliner with some sorta bug, I was lookin' forward to bein' able to partake in the festivites a little more actively this year.

Honestly, it was very low key this year. We must be gettin' lazy in our old age... for the first time since Cottage Weekend started, we didn't even talk about campin' on the island. The weather was perfect for it, but I guess nobody else felt ambitious enough to fuss with it. Among other reasons, the girls aren't especially enthusiastic for campin' out and the work that goes with it, so I guess that makes us boys a little more prone to stay at the cottage and not deal with the bitchin'.

All that aside though, I reckon everyone had a great time regardless. We ate a shitton of food, and all the recyclin' bins are overflowin' with cans and bottles. We spent many happy hours on the river, and we spent the late evenin's playin' a fun card game that Spanky introduced us to called Cards Against Humanity. It's completely politically incorrect and despicably glorious... perfect for me and my friends, and our sick and twisted brains.

The highlight of the weekend was a four-mile float down the river. We loaded all the kayaks and people into two trucks and headed upriver to a public access, and spent the next several hours leisurely workin' our way back down to the cottage. I wound up sharin' a leisurely pace with Schlongie and his buddy Jesse, and we arrived back at the cottage about a half-hour after everyone else. Prolly shoulda looked into some sunscreen. I'm burnt to a damn crisp after that trip, but it was definitely worth it. I didn't take nearly enough pictures over the weekend, but I did snap plenty of 'em while we were on the water.
A heavenly view.

Jesse and Schlongie tryin' their luck in some slower water.


Under the bridge.

The fish weren't bitin'... didn't stop 'em from tryin'.

Always liked them ol' iron bridges. Less and less of 'em around.

Schlongie, gettin' paparazzi'd.

Back to the cottage... time to eat.
Everyone else took off earlier today, so my lovely lady and I are just loungin' around and relaxin' until we decide to go to bed. Tonmorrow, we'll spend the mornin' cleanin' up, then it's back to reality for a few more weeks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Body Count '14 - #8

This young'n didn't want to leave the perimeter of the shed. I recently re-scoped my .22 and haven't gotten around to dialin' it in yet, and didn't really want to go tearin' the shed up with the scattergun, so I opted for the ol' .223. I took a little chunk outta the support block, but the shed wood is unscathed.

Still don't want to make a habit of shootin' at the shed with a centerfire, so I reckon I outta try to scare up enough .22 ammo to get that scope dialed in...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pennsyltucky's 13 Best Views

Here's a neat article in the midstate paper about some of the many reasons I enjoy livin' in the Keystone State. I ain't checked nearly enough of these off my list, so it sounds like my beautiful lady and I have some explorin' to do....

Monday, July 7, 2014

Flight of the Thunderbird

A while back, I posted about one of my finer moments on Ebay, when I picked up a new '97 Triumph Thunderbird to play with. Long story short, I finally got it delivered and on the road, but it was a clusterfuck many goddamned headaches an adventure to get it there.

I had mentioned that I'd lined up a transporter to get the bike from Phoenix to PA. Well, several weeks later, after several failed attempts at correspondence with the guy, I finally got ahold of him, and was assured he was on it. Then.... nothin', again. I damn near never break an agreement with someone, but I just didn't think he was gonna get it done and I was sick of feelin' like I was gettin' fucked, so I started lookin' for other options. (As an aside, the fella's name is Darrell Tindall, under the name TheTransportGuy2 on Uship.com.... I DO NOT recommend doin' business with this guy.) The seller had been pretty decent about holdin' onto the bike for me while I arranged shippin', but after six weeks, he was startin' to get antsy.

About that time, I noticed on Facebook that an acquaintance on mine from high school was deliverin' a boat to Commifornia, so I shot him a message to see if he was up for a stop in Phoenix on his way home. A week later, the bike was in my hands.

That was only one headache. The seller, who also turned out to be a dumbass, was a whole other series of headaches.

First, he decided to mail the title and key to me, which was fine. What wasn't fine was his wise decision to send them in a plain jane envelope, with the key floatin' around loose inside. Needless to say, the key wound up in Post Office Purgatory. More on that later.
Second, he was less than truthful about the bike in his Ebay description. Not to any great extent, as there could have been legal repercussions for that, but there were certainly several exaggerations, and there turned out to be many more gremlins than he let on.

Third, correspondence with him was painful, at best. I had maintained open lines of communication with him throughout the process, and especially once I had the bike in my hands, I had a few questions to ask about his care of the bike, and some of the aforementioned gremlins in particular. He was quite adept about givin' me answers to questions I'd not asked, as well as managin' to avoid answerin' the questions that I had asked about. In at least one instance, he flat-out lied to me about the condition of a part (note to readers: don't post pictures of the malfuntionin' part to your Facebook page, then say it worked just fine while you had it). I'm not sure he actually read anythin' I typed, as he was particularly good at askin' questions about things I'd already told him about. He got his money, so I just don't understand why he felt the need to be so dodgy. Really, really frustratin'.

So, back to the key thing. Since the lost key was the only one to the bike, that left me with only two options. First, get a replacement directly from Triumph, or tear the front end off of my old bike, swipe the ignition, tear the front end off the new bike and swap them out, all before ever gettin' the bike runnin'. In the interest of time, I opted to get a new set made from Triumph, since I was still waitin' on the bike to arrive at this point. When I called to place the order, I was told that A) due to a factory fire in Hinckley a few years back which wiped out some records, I might not be able to get a new key set made. If that was the case, they'd let me know within a week and refund my money. or B) they could indeed make a set for me, and I'd have 'em in two weeks. Three weeks later, havin' not heard anythin', I called the dealership I'd made the order from. They called Triumph and were told that they were waitin' for a few other orders to come in so they could all be done at once, and that I should have them in a week. A week later, with no keys in hand, I called back. This time Triumph told the dealership that the guy that cuts keys was on vacation and had just got back, and again, I should have them in a week. By now, both the dealership parts guy was gettin' pretty upset, as was I. I had gotten the bike at this point, and was still not able to run it. A week later, five weeks after placin' the order, I called again. This time, I was told that the records for my bike were among those that were lost in the fire. Five. Goddamned. Weeks. it took them to figure that out, when I was initially told one week. I'm still pretty pissed about that. I've been a Triumph guy forever, but this whole situation has put a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

So, that left me with only one other thing to do... start rippin', tearin' and wrenchin'...
The old and the new, prior to any wrenchin'.

What's left of my baby, who's now a parts bike. Bittersweet, indeed.

The swiped ignition.

The new bike, stripped down and ready
for the new ignition.
One mod that I was rather proud of durin' the process... The headlight is mounted to sleeves that slide over the forks between the triple tree. From factory, the gap between the sleeves and forks had some sort of rubber gasket between them that just turns into a sticky, goopy mess that rears its ugly head when you have to drop the forks. I'd fought with this on the old one with questionable results. This time, an hour spent with PVC, a heat gun, the old forks as a mold and some sandpaper left me with a much better solution.


Almost back together....
A few days and many hours of wrenchin' later, I finally was able to turn the key. Alas, the headaches weren't done yet. Although I'd attempted to charge the battery, it obviously wasn't enough to get the beast started. I swapped out the cheap piece of shit that was in there for the Interstate that I had in my old one, and just like that, she finally roared to life... just in time for a rainstorm, and for me to discover that I'd managed to get air in my clutch line and was unable to operate the clutch. I got the line bled about about the time the rain subsided, so it was finally time to make her maiden voyage.
Let me tell ya, it was like nothin' else to have that Thunderbird poundin' pavement under my ass again. It did wonders to wash the last eleven weeks' worth of headaches away.

She's been runnin' for a few weeks now. I've been tinkerin' along the way, and still have plenty more tinkerin' that I'd like to do. Either way, I've got my Triumph again, and I'm a happy guy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finally, an (almost) incident-free ride

This past weekend, I made my third attempt at a 1000 miles < 24 hours. My first was my first ride with Hoagy's Heroes nine years ago, as a wet-behind-the-ears 22-year-old with a pretty red Triumph under his ass. That ride left a numb spot in my right ass cheek for three days, and a love of long-distance ridin' that still gets me chompin' at the bit to this day.

My second attempt at the 1K in '09 resulted in a blown rear tire that damn near got me killed, but left me with a great story. I thought I'd posted that somewhere on here, but I can't find it at the moment, so I'll have to publish it again sometime. Regardless, I got the bike fixed and managed to get off about 700 miles that day, but I fell short of the 1K.

I've done a handfull of 500 < 12's and one successful and one failed attempt at the 2000 < 48 in the years since my first ride, but I always liked the 1K. It's longer and more satisfyin' than the 500's, but with the same relatively relaxed pace. This past weekend, however, would be my first time ridin' any long distance by myself. The goal was to make it to Hoagy's house in Glen Dale, WV by 6pm for a dinner celebration in honor of Hoagy's Heroes' 10th anniversary.

I drew up the route myself and pored over it on Google Maps for several hours, so I felt very confident that I wouldn't get lost or anythin' silly like that. My route took me from Gettysburg to Chambersburg, PA on US 30W; I-81S from Chambersburg to Knoxville, TN; I-75N from Knoxville to Dayton, OH; I-70E from Dayton to Wheeling, WV, then a few miles south to Hoagy's house. Total distance as per Google was about 1,030 miles.

I was up and ready to go late Friday night, in preparation for my departure from my startin' point a little after midnight. I had prepared well, and was definitely feelin' good as I kissed my lady and headed out the driveway.

By midnight, I was fuelin' up at the Sheetz in Gettysburg, my chosen startin' point. A friend of mine from the local PD arrived a few minutes later to sign my witness forms, and I took off about 12:20am.
From then, it was just gas 'n go for almost the entirety of I-81. I hit a little bit of weather, but nothin' heavy enough to justify stoppin' and puttin' the raingear on. The other good thing about hittin' the interstates at a decent speed is that you seem to ride outta the weather about a quick as you ride into it.

I made my Knoxville gas stop with no problems, and was headed north on I-75 through the hills of Kentucky that things went south.

To preface, I've been havin' a bit of a fuel delivery issue with that bike when the tank gets on the lower side, which sometimes causes a miss. I was about 40 miles from my next scheduled fuel stop when she bucked a couple times. I thought it was my low-fuel miss, so I decided to keep goin' as long as the bike would let me before I hit my reserve tank. After a few miles of this, the bike bucked, and then revved freely as the bike lost all power to the rear wheel. I got the bike off the side of the busy highway, thinkin' that I had blown my clutch. It was somewhat of a relief then to notice a few minutes later that the chain had come off the sprocket.

What I'd thought was a miss over the last few miles was actually the chain loosenin', then skippin' over the sprocket. So, that left me with a bunch of bitched-up sprocket teeth and a chain that was damn near outta adjustment.

I tried to make a few phone calls along the highway, but the noise was overwhelmin'. I finally just loosened everythin' up, put the chain back on, buttoned everytin' back up then babied the bike to the nearest exit and jumped on a quieter side road.

Five phone calls to four local Kawasaki dealers yielded no new sprockets in stock, so fixin' the problem then and there just wasn't in the cards. I finally just said "To Hell with it," buttoned everythin' back up, and got back on the highway, bad sprocket and all. I figured I'd just go until it wouldn't go anymore, then worry about gettin' a chase truck.

At that point, it was warm enough to ditch the gloves and coat, and Kentucky's a helmet-optional state, so I opted to strip down and ride light for a little bit. Ditchin' the gloves meant that I finally got to use the old digital camera that was tethered to my tank bag. It's a dinosaur, but it has a regular shutter button that I can feel with an ungloved hand, so I can rely on touch and not sight to take pictures on the road. I figure if I point the camera in a subject's general direction and hit the button enough times, at least one of the pictures might come out the way I want it, all without havin' to divert my attention from the road.

Now that my sprocket was pretty much shot, I opted for a much easier pace than I'd been settin' earlier, which meant gettin' much better gas mileage as well. Even with spendin' almost an hour stopped while dealin' with the sprocket issue, I was still on schedule to get to Hoagy's house in time for dinner. By this time, I'd ridden into beautiful weather, so I was enjoyin' the slower pace. I couldn't take quite as many pictures as I'd have liked to though, as the highway was reasonably crowded for most of the afternoon.
Somewhere along I-75 in northern
Kentucky. God Bless America.
I made it to my Dayton fuel stop with no trouble, and with my newfound slower speed, I was kickin' ass on fuel mileage, so my Dayton fuel-up wound up bein' the last one. I did the last 200 miles to Hoagy's place without stoppin', except a brief stop at the WV line to put my helmet back on, as per their laws.
Hittin' my thousand-mile mark in eastern Ohio on I-70.

Seventeen and a half hours and 1,032 miles after leavin' my Gettysburg startin' point, I parked my bike behind Hoagy's neighbor's garage with ten minutes to spare until dinner. An awesome dinner, a shower, and a few too many cold beers made my journey all the more sweeter. A great time was indeed had by all, and we all stayed awake way too late spinnin' yarns about great rides we've had over the last ten years.
I don't normally drink that kinda water, but options were limited.
I slept well into Sunday mornin' and woke up feelin' great. I visited with Hoagy and his wife a little bit, then began to get my things together.

I was plannin' on headin' to Pittsburgh to visit my cousins on Sunday, then ride home Monday, but I decided to just head straight home. I figured that if my sprocket finally gave out, I'd have better luck gettin' a chase truck on a Sunday than a Monday.

Many folks from my area depend on the PA Turnpike to get from one side of the state to the other. I feel like I'm gettin' raped every time I pay the exorbitant toll to ride that shitty, borin' road, so by trial and error, I've settled on US 30 as the best means of gettin' back home. It's a few more minutes and few less miles, and it's a helluva lot purtier, plus no damned ol' toll. Sunday was no exception, as the traffic was light and the weather was just right. I took my time and was able to snap a few more pictures along the way.
One of any cool murals along the Lincoln Highway.
Some of the wind towers in the Laurel Highlands along US 30.
There are several sections in the Laurel Highlands where the
road just stretches on forever...
I was about 80 miles from home when the chain started skippin' over the sprocket a little worse. I just kept pluggin' along, doin' my best to get as close to a chase truck as possible. It got worse and worse with every mile, but she still kept movin' so I still kept ridin'.

After a particularly nervous ride up a hill that I damn near didn't make it up, I decided to stop at the summit for a beer at an ol' biker bar. I've passed The Mountain House uncountable times over the years without ever stoppin', but with time on my side, I decided it'd be a good day to do that.
Yes, that's a 911 Turbo S I'm parked next to. Damn sexy.
Purty awesome view for a bar.
I finished my beer and hit the road again, takin' it as easy as possible. Twice, I had to stop and put the chain back on, but she kept goin'. Somehow, I made it the rest of the way home... the sprocket gave completely out about halfway up my driveway.

Two days and 1,282 miles later, another awesome adventure came to an end.