Getting nailed in Fond du Lac

My gypsy wedding tour has come to a grinding halt in Fond du Lac, where an itinerant nail has found its way into my front tire. What is this affinity that my tires have for nails, I ask. The last time it was in Santa Rosa, thus a free ride to Santa Fe. That was good. I’d never been there before.

All is not lost, however. I missed the cold weather by being holed up in a hotel room waiting for maintenance, since I haven’t been able to find a front Metzler — to match the newly-installed rear — in a timely manner.

The wedding is toast now, since I’m a day’s ride away.

I’ll be heading back home, the fast way.

Teenagers and shopping

I spent today reconnecting with my old friend’s family. He has two teenage girls, now 14 and 16, and since they’re temporarily in a larger center, they decided that they’d like to go shopping. Old Navy is a special place for them, since there’s not one back home.

The girls appeared to be quite sensible, actually, and only bought what they felt the need for – and that means they didn’t walk up to the till with armloads of cotton. They spent a long time in the change rooms, and occasionally called mom in for an approval.

The eldest was torn between orange and blue flip-flops. Coordinating clothing and flip-flops was news to me, and my comments didn’t help her in the slightest. After getting back to the van I made the suggestion that she should have chosen the orange. Did I get a dirty look! — but they both knew that my peanut gallery comments were meant only in good fun.

In total, I think they walked out with two and three items, respectively – not a lot compared to other teenagers I have known in the past

For me, it was a treat to have participated.

Keeping it up

Tire pressure, that is

On a motorcycle, there are only two things keeping you upright, both of them critical to doing the job, and both of them manufactured out of rubber. When you think about it, two small patches of rubber aren’t much. The condition of those two rubber patches and the material surrounding them is critical to survival.

Ambient air temperature variations cause fluctuations in tire pressure. A change in air temperature of 10 degrees F. (5 degrees C.) will cause tire pressure to change by one pound.

Tire manufacturers show up at rallies all the time, and through their exercises we learn that up to 80 percent of all motorcycles have underinflated tires. Without a doubt, tire pressure is the most ignored problem affecting a motorcycle and its handling and stability. Too little pressure and your tires will overheat and cause premature wear. You’ll look funny wobbling down the interstate trying to pull off to the side of the road. You’ll have plenty to talk about with your riding friends when you tell them about your bike’s handling problems. On the other hand, I suppose it’s a good excuse to look for a new bike with better handling characteristics.

Avoid it all and check your tire inflation presures, and then when you discover that you’ve only got 20 pounds of air in the rear tire, and a garage isn’t nearby, fire up this little beauty:

Motorcycle Tire Mini Air Pump

It’s less than 10 bucks, it only takes a few minutes to take it out of the plastic housing, and after the fan is cut off with a hack saw, it’s ready to go. I added an on/off switch to mine, and I installed a Powerlet jack to replace the alligator clips that were used to connect to the battery. The Powerlet is compatible with BMW, Triumph and Ducati outlets.

I threw one of these — barebones, stripped of its plastic case — into a saddlebag years ago. I’ve used it exactly twice on my own motorcycle and three or four times on those of others who got a surprise when they checked their tire pressure.

For the long distance rider who finds himself in the middle of nowhere, it’s an item you shouldn’t be without, even if you subscribe to a tow package. A tubeless tire repair kit would be an added bonus for those who don’t run with tubes.

The continuing carburetor blues

Well, all effort to the contrary, I received the parts for a Kiehn carb today. Which is fine, because I own a Kiehn carb – but I don’t need any parts for it! Jesus.

Why is it that a business doesn’t listen to what the customer tells them? Are the morons who work there so dulled by the stupidity of RUBS that they just go and order any old thing, part numbers notwithstanding?

Are they too accustomed to selling bolt-on chrome doo-dads to stupid people who are more dense than those employed by the dealership?

Do any of these people even know what a carburetor is, and how it functions?

Perhaps they can’t spell. Let’s see now…

M-i-k-u-n-i. Oh, yes. Mi-kun’-i. That’s it. Sound it out like a public school moron.

K-i-e-h-n. Hmm. Now that’s a little more difficult. At the end of the word there’s something that’s real hard to pronounce. Like, an h and an n, real close together, like.

Like, much head-scratching over that one, I’m certain. There must have been. I got the wrong parts.

Morons, all.

Carburetor blues

Mikuni carburetorUpdate: Need help tuning your Mikuni? Go to their web site and check out their tuning instruction sheets, parts sheets, and performance guide.

The Mikuni HSR42 is a great carburetor. I had one on my Low Rider and it never skipped a beat. I think some dealer finger trouble occurred to the enrichener circuit on this one – although that circuit should never have been touched at any time during my reman engine install back in December of 2005.

I’ve been looking – unsuccessfully, so far – for a couple of non-standard parts for the carb. There’s a piston and a spring involved, which I’ve been trying to find locally. No such luck. Unfortunately, dealers only carry jets/needles and re-build kits.

On March 5 I finally broke down and called Mikuni in Northridge. I was patched over to the voice mail of someone named Steve. I left a brief explanation, including the two part numbers that I was unable to obtain locally, followed by a request for a callback.

No response so far.

Had I been able to find an email address for Mikuni, I’d have sent them an email.

Today I emailed asking them the same question, and in a matter of an hour I had a reply directing me to a Canadian distributor for the parts that I required.

I’ve ordered everything I need, plus a little extra. Thank you, Sudco.

True lies

Dreamland IV

Sonny’s affections were rather fickle. You could always tell when he was drawn to a new victim by the questions he asked: “What do you think of so-and-so?” “Did you see the blonde that was here yesterday?” Or, his old stand-by, “I invited ‘insert female employee name here’ out for dinner last night with her family, but her husband was out of town.”

Sonny was big on, “We’re a small family business and I like to get to know my employees”. In truth, he wanted to get to know only the next employee that he thought he could sleep with. Consequently, the rest of the employee trash was exactly that – something to be let in in the morning and swept out at the end of the business day – an inconvenience that interrupted his desire to spread his goodwill among those he deemed worthy of his hard-on.

During the course of his affectation with Celia, he developed a yearning for one of his customers, a tall, big-boned blonde, and he took an opportunity to follow her on an overnight group ride south out of the country. Normally, he never went on these rides — unless he was chasing something or other – for the rides were beneath his dignity. Sonny didn’t like to associate with the riffraff that was his customer base unless there was something in it for him. This time his chase was short-lived and didn’t appear to go anywhere, for I had seen him skulking around the cantinas late at night, alone. The lucky woman didn’t know what she missed.

Toward the end of year two of the business reclamation project, Celia finally clued in to Sonny’s bullshit and realized that the promises he had been making to her would come to naught. Much to Sonny’s chagrin, she reached out to one of her married customers – a contractor with his own business located in the low desert – and began carrying on with him. Adding insult to injury, she bagged one of Sonny’s employees just for spite. That really knocked the wind out of Sonny’s sails, and definitely ensured that Celia wouldn’t have a future at the shop, no matter how she spread her goodwill.

After that, Sonny took matters into his own hands – not the smartest thing for him to do since he wasn’t the brightest candle in the wind. He screwed with Celia’s email, hoping that would scare her into not straying. When that didn’t work, he phoned the contractor’s wife at home from the shop and revealed her husband’s relationship with Celia to her.

Sonny never heard of call display, but the contractor’s wife certainly had.

And that’s when, through no fault of my own, I became involved.

Waiting for parts

July 25 – 27, 2006

The road has been good to me so far on this trip – only a downpour after disembarking the Tobermory ferry on the Bruce Peninsula while headed east, and a warm shower when almost in Maryland. There have been no close calls with vehicles; no freezing temperatures to fight in the early mornings; no fierce winds.

As luck would have it, I discovered a cracked header pipe, and I must wait for a new one to be shipped in. I’ve picked up a loaner bike from the Harley dealer, an ’04 FLSTC. It has apehangers on it, but the hand controls haven’t been set up for riding it comfortably. I made a simple adjustment to the clutch and brake lever positions, helping my wrists to overcome an uncomfortable and twisted position. It never ceases to amaze me what some will put up with to look cool.

Over the next few days I do the tourist thing in this city of 750,000, visiting the Forks and a couple of other places. There is now a nice walking bridge — the Esplanade Riel — over the Red River with a Salisbury House Restaurant located mid-span. I stop to check out the bridge and to have my Nip & Chips fix.

I head out to Lac du Bonnet to visit a friend that I haven’t seen for seven years, and to see a couple of acquaintances from a former life. We talk over old times and have a few laughs at the expense of others who I used to work with. It seems that things haven’t changed with my former place of employment. I was so happy to be done with the place back then, and it is now a lifetime away.

When my header finally arrives and gets installed it is mid-afternoon. As I head out on the road, the clouds and fog begin, and the rain starts on the west end of the city. It only lasts for a couple of hours and then the sun finally pops out and warms the rest of the day. It’s a boring ride to Moosomin and my overnight stop. At least the highway has been twinned in a lot of places now. I suspect it will be completed across Saskatchewan next year.