Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Honda Backorder

Rhonda called. The GL1800 propeller shaft (drive shaft) is back ordered until May 8th. Here's hoping that the date is accurate.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cambridge Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

Home On Four Wheels

It was an uneventful trip home without the bike. Kim and Mike headed off to their respective jobs early and we sat around watching TV until Leo and Diane came to get us. They had visited Diane's niece in Brampton the night before, although the purpose of the whole trip was just to rescue us. Friends like that are a blessing.

Leo drove north as I guided him through my favourite route. Diane had never been through the Forks of the Credit, so we went that way first and then followed up with a run up the Hockley Valley. On the big road, we stopped for gas and a pit stop at Derek Roberts Esso in Waubaushene. I took over driving from there home.

I'll wait to hear from Rhonda as to when the bike will be ready.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hanging Around Cambridge

It was a slow morning. Mike got up and went to work for a while, Kim and Sandy were down in the kitchen and I slept in. When I did get up, I found that the hat I had forgotten at home might have protected me from getting the nasty sunburn on my expanding forehead yesterday.

Kim made breakfast and then I got down to catching up on some blogging. Stopping only for lunch, I finally got caught up by 2:00 PM. Then I turned to my outstanding Email. For some reason, I tend to let the Emails slide until there are a large number. I have no idea what I have against Email, but it's a curse I live with.

Next, I started doing some camera research since the old one is fried. I really want one like Sherm has, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3. This camera, a 9.1 MP with a 10X optical zoom and a 3" LCD screen was introduced in January, 2007. Wouldn't you know that it was superseded in January, 2008 by the TZ5. The new one has additional features but nothing I felt I really need. It seems TigerDirect cleared out their TZ3's a month ago and I 'm going to have to hunt around for a source.

About 4:30, we got a call from Heather. She and Tom had gone out for a ride. Knowing Tom didn't have a lot of fuel, they were expecting to find a station but had taken a route on which there were none. He was out and she was very low. I got the location from her, took Kim's car and a gas can, stopped for a couple of gallons of gas and found them right where I expected to, New Dundee Road about a half mile from Trussler Road. On the way out, I was looking at a black, ugly cloud to the west but when I arrived it turned out that storm was northbound, missing us completely.

While gassing up, Tom suggested his nickname should be Empty Tank. ET works because he did phone home so that's what it will be. Nicknames are much better when they are earned:-)

Heather and Tom followed me back to Kim & Mike's where they joined us for supper. Then, darkness coming on, they headed back to Waterloo. It's a strange feeling watching one of your children head out on a motorcycle without you. Unsettling. Now I know how my Mom and my in-laws must have felt. But they phoned an hour later and said they were home safe.

Mike and I went over to Blockbuster to pick up a video. Normally, BB has the DVD jackets out front and the generic cases with the actual disc's behind. Tonight, all we could find were the jackets, the way it appears when they are all out of a title. But there were no generic cases. Finally, we checked and saw bar coding on the original cases and realized that they had changed the way they did things. We grabbed Juno and headed home.

Juno was a funny, quirky movie. The acting was great on all fronts and our new favourite Canadian actress, Ellen Page, was excellent. I first saw her in Hard Candy, a very disturbing film in which she played a tough role very well. The quintessential girl next door, I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of her in the future.

After the movie, we all turned in. Leo and Diane will be by in the morning to pick us up and take us home.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cambridge Ontario to Newmarket Ontario and Back

Operation Suzuki

The BIG DAY is here for Heather and Tom. Today they travel to Newmarket, Ontario (about 2 hours away) to pick up the two new Suzuki C50 Boulevard SE motorcycles they bought at the Toronto Bike Show back in January. They have been arranging insurance, registration and other details all week. Paul, the salesman at Suzuki of Newmarket, hasn't been the most confidence inspiring individual but the price couldn't be beat.

The one catch with todays expedition is that neither Heather nor Tom have a great deal of riding experience. Heather got her licence in the fall of 2006 and did a small amount of riding with us on her 250 Rebel last year. Tom passed the course last year but has done virtually no riding since then. The C50's weigh over 600 pounds, light by today's standards but very close to the weight of my 1976 GL1000, a bike that we considered monstrous back in the day. It would have been nice to have the Wing so I could run interference for them, but we'll just have to make due with what we have.

Sandy and I took Tom's car over to their place in Waterloo, arriving about 15 minutes after the appointed 7:00 AM rendezvous time. Apropos of nothing, on the way over I caught a rock version of the famous Irish song Whiskey in the Jar. I told Sandy that it sounded like Metallica and so it turned out to be. Enough to make an Irish traditionalist (Hi, Mom) nuts. Later, I find out it won a Grammy in 1998. I guess I lead a sheltered life.

We headed out of Waterloo by 7:30. We went up to Highway 9, stopping in Orangeville at Timmie's, and then a cross to Newmarket arriving at the dealership about 9:15. Suzuki of Newmarket is a Superstore with motorcycles and cars in the same building. Paul the salesman got the paperwork and escorted the kids to the sales manager where they settled up the cash, registration and other details. Then Paul took them outside where Heather's blue and silver SE sat next to a plain Jane C50 in Tom's chosen colours of grey and silver.

After convincing Paul the Flake that they really had ordered and PAID FOR two SE's, we start to work on how to get this sorted out. The SE package comes in a kit with windshield, saddlebags and a backrest and is a bolt-on deal. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have any at the moment and don't expect any in until Tuesday. As we are going over Heather's bike checking out all the details, and I have sent both bikes back to have the tire pressures corrected, I start in on Paul about something to make up for the inconvenience. A token. Maybe a shock wrench that, surprisingly, doesn't come in the tool kit. Paul says he asked the service manager and they said no. Paul is blaming the whole screw-up on Service and won't accompany me back there. The service manager doesn't even know what a shock wrench is, but his assistant Marco describes it to him and says they don't stock them. On the bigger plus side, he does tell me that they found an SE kit and will get it installed straight away. Give them an hour and a half. OK.

I take Heather's bike and ride it just up the street to a largely empty Leon's (big box furniture store for you non-Canucks) parking lot. Heather gets her helmet and jacket on and fires it up. First she rolls ahead a little, checking the clutch action. After a few of these, and figuring out where the floorboards and foot controls are, she heads out and does some laps of the lot in 1st gear. Then she tries 2nd and rides some more. Eventually she stops and Tom takes a turn. The bike stays upright and they appear to be having little difficulty. Meanwhile, I speak to Stonewall down in the city. His bike work is done and he and a friend are heading up to see us.

About noon, we wander back to the shop. Tom's bike still isn't out, but some SCRC riders come in and we chat. Then Stonewall and Bitman show up. Then Tom's bike appears. We check it over and then head back over to Leon's. Stonewall, Bitman, Sandy and I chat while both Suzuki's do laps of ever increasing complexity. In the meantime, Bitman has a Garmin Nuvi GPS like Tom's with a motorcycle RAM mount. Turns out the mount is available quite reasonably. He said his is great but the MP3 player only does one song at a time. I showed him the Play All button. We both gained valuable knowledge.

Finally, it was time to challenge the open road. Stonewall and Bitman had to go the other way, towards Markham, so we said our goodbyes. I drove the car with Sandy and plotted a course north to Bradford. The roads were busy and the two were not the best at first at getting rolling with authority. But they did get going. I stopped once to suggest that they move a little quicker but, actually, they were doing quite well. On a hill in Bradford, with one lane closed, Heather learned that if you try to go too slowly on an uneven surface with your feet up, you will fall over. Nothing hurt except her pride and I had her back up in a minute.

From Bradford, we took Highway 88 (or whatever it's known as now) to Bond Head. Once we crossed the 400, traffic died down. We cut a little north and continued west on CR1. It's dead straight until Hockley and now the bikes were keeping up. After Hockley, to 70 KPH road sweeps back and forth for a very enjoyable ride. Tom said later that he really enjoyed it. They looked good. We went around Orangeville and on towards Fergus were Tom, making the turn from Highway 9 to CR 3, went in too fast and swept wide. My horror was replaced by admiration as he stuck with it, riding right to the edge of the sand and bringing it around the corner. Many newbies would have given up and dropped it.

As we approached Fergus, Tom pulled over on the shoulder. I had checked Heather's bike for gas and it was full, so I assumed (ASS_U_ME) that Tom's would be full too. Nope. And when the gauge starts flashing, it's pretty much too late. Heather and I waited with the bikes while Tom and Sandy took the car and got a gallon of gas to go.

I took Tom's bike and rode it a few miles to Inverhaugh. I was quite impressed. It is very stable in a straight line and very nimble in turns. Low speed maneuvering is very confident. But I soon gave it back to Tom because it was only right that he complete his first trip in the saddle.

We headed on into Waterloo where Tom and Heather passed us on the way to his parents' house. Sandy noted that Tom's turn signals flashed twice as fast as Heather's did. I said that usually meant a bulb out. Sure enough, when we checked neither front signal light was working. When they had the front apart installing the SE kit, they never reconnected the wires. So I pulled the headlight, found the two unconnected wires I was looking for (plus two more I have no idea what for) and plugged them all in. Eureka. And chock one more up for Suzuki of Newmarket.

Tom's Mom barbecued some steaks and pork. It was some of the best meat I have had in long time. Then we put the bikes in her garage and the kids brought us back to Kim and Mike's in Cambridge. They were out at friends and we went to bed before they got home.

I had a lot of good pictures today, but when I got home I found that the rotten Sony chip in my Canon A70 camera (what were they thinking?) had finally failed just the way they described in the camera forums. After almost five years, it is toast. The next photos you see should be with a new Panasonic Lumix like the one Sherm uses.

Late Breaking Update

I managed to get a photo of the bikes that Tom took. Heather is standing by hers on the right. Tom isn't in the photo because he was taking the picture.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cambridge Ontario to Wasaga Beach Ontario and Back (sort of)

Some days you eats the bear.......

.....and some days the bear eats you.

By the time I got up this morning, Kim and Mike had already left for work. Sandy and I headed up to Canadian Tire to get a copy of their house key cut, stopped at Mickey D's for breakfast and picked up a few groceries at Zehr's, dropping them back at the house.

Tom had taken the day off to clean Heather's Rebel, which was being stored in his Mom's garage near his condo in Waterloo. We rode over to see him and then we all went over to Heather's office for lunch. She looks lost in there with a table, one computer and a chair in that large empty space. Most of the furnishings went at auction earlier this week and she will be done at the end of the month. The bike noise seemed to be getting worse, so I called J&R and spoke to Rhonda. She said John was there this afternoon, so I decided to ride up and have him take a look. Tom took Sandy back to Kim & Mike's.

On the two hour ride to J&R in Wasaga Beach, I noted that the noise was worse when I backed off the throttle and, at lower speeds, I could feel a vibration through my foot pegs. Not a good sign. I arrived at the shop about 3:10. John dropped what he was doing and took the bike on the road for a test. I hoped for a dragging caliper or dirty brake pad, but he came back and confirmed what I really knew but didn't want to think about. Drive shaft universal joint. The same as happened to my 1976 Wing with 40K miles on it, only this one has 82K miles, many of them towing a camper trailer at 80MPH. Interestingly, the extended warranty kicked in two weeks ago.

When I think about it, this is all for the best. It will cause me some problems in the short term and tomorrow won't be near as much fun, but this early will allow us to get it fixed with minimum disruption. If it had happened during any of the big trips this summer, it would have really messed things up.

So now I am stuck in Wasaga Beach. As some kind of a weird positive omen, a guy pulled in on a Honda Rune, the only one I have ever seen on the road. I called Heather and she arranged for Tom to come and pick me up. Then I called Leo and was telling him the tale (he is negotiating right now for a new Wing). He asked if I wanted him to come down to Waterloo Monday and bring us home. I said sure. Friends like this are a prize better than gold.

Tom arrived about 5:45 and, on the way back to Cambridge, I got him to drive through the Hockley Valley and the Forks of the Credit. He figures he might like Hockey tomorrow on the way home with the new bike, but that the Forks would have to wait until he has more experience. Good call, IMHO:-)

Back at Kim and Mike's, Mike had cooked up some excellent stuffed pork chops and then we all sat around and passed the time for a while until Tom and Heather went home and the rest of us turned in. Tom and Heather took her car and left us his so we could go over to their place in Waterloo in the morning and get Operation Suzuki under way.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

Heather and Tom will be picking their new bikes, matching Suzuki C50 Boulevard SE's (800 cc shaft driven, liquid cooled cruisers with windshields, saddlebags and backrests) up at Suzuki of Newmarket on Saturday and then riding them home. The linked article is about a C50T, which is the same as the SE except that is has studs in the seat and saddlebags. Other than course training, Heather has limited miles on her Honda Rebel 250 and Tom has virtually none, so we intend to escort them home.

I went to the gym first thing this morning, stopped by the optometrist to complain about the prescription of my new glasses and then came home to pack. It was clear and quite warm, an exceptional day for April. We got all the gear stashed on the bike without incident.

Sandy hasn't been on the bike since I decided to increase the preload settings on the rear shock, so I took a guess at 20 based on our experience with the spring-only ride to Georgia last September. It was perfect. A word to Traxxion users with the regular spring, don't get lured in by the talk of low settings. The ride, bumps and all, was much better with the higher setting.

The ride down Highway 69 was comfortable, not to cool with moderate traffic. I set the cruise at 19 KPH above the limit based on the GPS. It was easy to see the salt still on the pavement. I think this is worse since they started using brine. It will take some more heavy rain to wash this off into the ditches where it will entice the moose out to the side of the highway and we will have our usual spring rash of car/moose collisions.

As we reached Nobel, about 100 miles into our journey, I had to slow down for construction. When I did, I started to hear a faint swish/swish sound from under the bike that varied in relation to our ground speed. This identified it as being related to tires, wheels, brakes, final drive or drive shaft. We stopped at Mickey D's in Parry Sound for lunch and I put it on the centre stand to see if I could see anything. Nothing visible with the brakes, nothing if I spun either wheel, nothing if I moved the rear wheel in gear (except perhaps the lash was a little more than I remembered). Maybe it was salt in the brake pads?

We continued on, taking some of our favourite Ontario roads. Off the 400 at Highway 89, we went towards Alliston but took the road around the Nottawasaga Inn to Tottenham Road. Then we went south to County 1 and then west, with the road eventually becoming the Hockley Road. They have added a much needed traffic light in Loretto which should save a few lives. The Hockley Road is perfect. Good pavement and no sand in the corners, although the 70 KPH speed limit is quite limiting. When we reached Highway 10 in Orangeville, we went south through Caledon to Forks of the Credit Road. This has been closed for over a year and a half, but is now open again and many bikes will be riding it as the season goes on.

Once through The Forks, we continued on Highway 24 to Guelph and Cambridge, arriving at Kim and Mike's by about 4:30. After taking about what to have for supper,the girls decided that they would like to try the new Chicken Bowls from KFC. Mike and I headed over there to get some. The girl at the counter said they didn't have any large bowls, but she would give us two small ones for the price of one large. That was a great deal and so we headed home after a successful hunt with EIGHT chicken bowls. Surprisingly, they weren't too bad with the mashed potatoes, corn, cheese, chicken nuggets and gravy.

We must have been tired because Sandy and I hit the sack about 9:15 and went right to sleep.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Bike Is Out

It was a nice day yesterday. The snow that fell on Friday and prompted the final use of the snowblower had mostly melted. I went to the garage, checked the tire pressure and oil level on the Wing and fired it up. It started up immediately and settled right into a smooth idle.

After getting suited up, I tip-toed out into the sand covered street and on out of the subdivision. It was just a short ride. Here on out through Garson and on the the village of Falconbridge (I wonder if they should change the name to XStrata since the company doesn't like the name Falconbridge?). The bike ran strongly and smoothly and the new suspension setting continued to eat up the few bumps I was unable to avoid. On the way back, I took a slight detour around on Maley Drive and down to the Kingsway, but didn't stay out too long.

Today, I went back out again, on to Falconbridge with a stop at the Sudbury Trail Plan office to see Normie. Then I took a spirited ride down the Garson/Coniston Road before stopping for gas $1.19 / Liter) and coming home.

It feels great. I am happy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In The Gym Again

I was never a very fit person during my working days. Other than some squash playing in the 80's, I hadn't seen the inside of a gym since I was in high school. The, at the end of 2001, I signed up for an introductory program at the Sudbury YMCA. The staff there taught me how to use the cardio and weight equipment and, over the winter, I dropped 35 pounds (down to 185) and got in pretty good shape. However, when spring came, I stopped going as riding season started.

The next winter, I went back to working out again. More benefits, although the summer weight gain didn't come off as easily. This annual pattern continued, gym in the winter and not in the summer. Some winters, I was more diligent than others. This went on until last winter.

I finished the riding season last year at 208 pounds. Not bad considering I had started the season at 211. But I didn't get back into the gym in the fall. Sandy had surgery in October and I quit smoking in September, throwing things out of kilter. I went to the YMCA a few days in early December and a couple in mid January. In the meantime, my weight skyrocketed to 229 by the beginning of April. All in all, this was a less than ideal situation and, by April 7th, I had had enough.

Not going to the gym in the winter is much worse than in the summer. At least, in the summer, I am relatively more active. During the winter, I just lay around most of the time. And it showed when I got back on the cardio equipment. The first two days, I wasn't even able to keep up my entry level treadmill routine of 25 minutes at 3.8 MPH at a 6% grade. The 15 minutes on the horizontal exercise bike was rugged and the mere five minutes on the elliptical almost finished me. I did a few basic weight machines but didn't overdo it. This was the worst start back at the gym after a lay-off ever.

The third day was rough too, but I realized when I got home that I had forgotten my BP meds, including my beta-blocker. Fortunately, Thursday and Friday were somewhat better. Today, Monday, the start of the second week, things seem to have kicked in. The cardio workout, while having a long way to go, is quite acceptable and I am running the full weight routine and adding weights daily.

As I get older, I can't afford missing workouts. It's harder to get in shape again and the ups and downs aren't good for me. I need to get the weight down because that will improve my blood pressure and my blood sugar. So I need to be sure that, even if I am just home for a day, I need to go to the gym and do something. We'll see how I keep up with this as time goes by.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The 2008 Itinerary

One of the fun activities that keeps us going over the winter is watching the calendar of events develop and then planning our trips to see how many we can attend. Here's what we have come up with so far.

April 19/20 weekend is the Hill Country Ride in Texas that we originally planned to attend since our last time there was 2005. However, we canceled because this was the weekend Heather and Tom wanted to pick up their new bikes in Newmarket and we wanted to be there for the event and the ride home.

May will be quiet. The weekend of the 10th, we're working on the Freedom Riders Motorcycle Awareness display in the New Sudbury Centre. The next week involves the Bikers for Life Challenge to get blood donations and a Motorcycle Awareness Week proclamation at City Hall. The Victoria Day long weekend will be spent, as always, at Stevenson's Lodge in Combermere, Ontario with the Fry family and friends. We rode together years ago and this is our one big gathering of the year. If Heather and Tom want to ride up, we'll go to Waterloo first and travel with them. Unfortunately, this means we will again miss SEVROC, the Southeast VROC gathering in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

In June, the traveling begins. June 7/8 weekend is VROC at KSL (Kickstand Lodge). We'll haul the camper trailer down and set up on the beautiful KSL grounds, taking time to ride some of the nicest motorcycle roads in existence. From there, we'll haul the trailer home and drop it, heading west for the Great Midwest River Run in Boscobel, Wisconsin the next weekend. The following weekend, we'll be in Topaz Lake on the California/Nevada border for the High Sierra VROC weekend. We'll be sharing a room with Sherm at the Topaz Lake Resort and Casino. Sherm will then join us heading east to the Aztec VROC gathering in Deadwood, South Dakota.

The big July run is the annual Wolfman's Wandering Rally, being held this year in Coos Bay Oregon on the July 19/20 weekend. Our original plan had been to come home after Aztec for a week or so and then head west again. However, west coast hospitality is so nice that we'll head for the coast after Aztec, visiting Sandy's brother in Vancouver; our friend Scorpion~ in Olympia, Washington; Sherm and Pat in Coos Bay, Oregon; and Don VSP Inamasu in Stockton, California; before heading back up the the WWR, aka Oregon Trails Rally. After that, we'll head for home and get to work preparing for our own Freedom Rally in Sudbury on Civic Holiday Weekend (the weekend with the 1st Monday in August).

The week after the Freedom Rally, we'll be at Cycle-Moore Campground in Interlochen Michigan with the Michigan VROC contingent and friends. If Heather and Tom want to attend, we'll come through Waterloo and ride with them. From Interlochen, we'll set sail for southeast Pennsylvania where a VROCer named Badluck will be hosting his second annual bash. We missed it last year. I hope to get a chance to see some cousins while we're in this neck of the woods. Then it will be home for the rest of the month.

The September run will be the usual. We'll haul the camper trailer to the 29th Annual Cyclefest in Waterloo Region for the Labour Day weekend and then will head on to Indiana for the WARB gathering the next weekend. From there,we'll head back through Sudbury and drop the trailer before heading out the the New England Maine Ride the week after. We'll finish up with a run across to Eureka Springs Arkansas VROC Reunion for the last event of the traveling season.

Gas prices will be challenging, but not enough to make us stop. Maybe some day, something else will catch our attention but, for now, this is still working. I have a few minor bike mods in the works, including a cord that will let me use the cell phone (through the BlueTooth capable GPS) while riding. I'm also working on a voice recorder so that I don't lose some of the thoughts I have as I cruise along, the ones that slip out of my mind before I can stop and make note of them.

So stay tuned to this channel and ride with us as we meet friends old and new, and explore more of the continent.