Monday, August 22, 2016

New blog for new adventures

I am about to leave home for a couple of months of international travel - but on foot instead of wheels, so it calls for a new blog.

Please visit and subscribe to to follow my journey to Morocco, France, Spain (walking the Camino de Santiago), and Istanbul, Turkey.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sometimes the best laid plans ...

The concept of taking a journey on one of the old bikes this July seems to be fading away even though I know I will regret letting work and the cares of the world eliminate the trip.  In 2012 I was 'rewarded' with increased responsibilities at work, starting right on July 1st, so I ditched the trip last year and only went on a short three day excursion to Vintage Motorcycle Days (VMD), riding the none-too-healthy R60/2.  It was a mixed blessing. 

I stayed at the Malabar Farm Hostel in Lucas, Ohio as I had for the last few years and I was the only guest for the weekend.  They were installing new beds and I was the first to enjoy them, but it was weird that none of the usual suspects were there to talk to in the evenings and over breakfast.  There was a new 'Innkeeper,' Mark Jordan, who has a real life in theater and was really interesting, and a couple, board members for the hostel, who also got to hear my ramblings.  I also got to observe a portion of the ghost tour, sitting around the campfire outside the house, hearing the stories of local ghostly deeds, described here by another blogger.

This years ride was to include New England: camping on Hero Island in Lake Champlain, near the Canadian border, a day or two in Montreal, then along the lake to Niagara Falls and on to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Track for Vintage Motorcycle Days.  I had arranged to stop and see some friends along the way, and I will try and make that happen in some other way if at all possible.  Anyway, only the VMD part of the trip is still planned. 

I suspect there will be some day trips squeezed in on the spur of the moment.There are so many great roads in this part of the country that I have never explored.

1980 R65 like mine
One of the things I will do is find new homes for a lot of motorcycle parts for bikes I no longer own, get rid of all the Honda bikes and parts and start restoring a 1980 R65 bike that was my first modern BMW (meaning it has electric start).  Another task will be installing an exhaust system and many other little things on my old BMW car.  That will allow me to re-arrange the garage to be a better workspace and place to park our cars and bikes. And pass inspection!

Globe GS200 with R60/2
Globe GS-200 wit BMW R60/2
 I may even hang my little Globe GS-200 sidecar from the ceiling while waiting for the grandkids to be big enough to go for a ride in it. This sidecar was made in India, a copy of the Steib LS-200, and came with the old R60/2 when I bought it years ago.  The R60 really doesn't have the power and brakes to use it everyday in traffic, but is really fun on the back roads of the area.  This picture is NOT of my rig, but that of a friend in Kentucky that was easy for me to snatch off the internet as I could not find any photos of mine on the computer. But it looks the same, only nicer!

At the end of the month a special treat will be seeing a friend that worked with us in Haiti in the mid-1980s who subsequently moved to New Zealand.  She will be visiting home, which is Atlanta, so we will take a few days to get reacquainted with her and one of her daughters.

So I will be home most of July - come and visit us!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The bike goes - and now stops

I spent a large part of the day working on the R60 to get ready for the ride to Ohio.  Hooked up the last of the wiring, installed some hardware on the saddle bags and checked a million fasteners.  I also spent some time with my friend Rick who is still cleaning up his yard for the June 30th weather event and needed to use a chain saw.  He has a bike like mine and is a ham radio operator, so we have a lot in common.

I also took a one hour walk with Hero on the Huckleberry trail.  It was only 85 degrees but was very humid and it was not that much fun for either of us, but we will not complain about spending time together and Hero got to meet some new dogs and people.

On my morning test ride I discovered that the front brake was dragging, and I wanted to balance the front wheel anyway so apart it came.  Balance was easy with my new Marc Parnes balancer and I installed new Bench Mark Works brake linings on the front shoes, reassembled and adjusted according to my friend Duane's directions and took a short ride to see if that fixed the issue - it did. I recall from the last time I did the linings that they get better as they wear to conform to the shape of the drum, so I'm looking forward to better braking after a few hundred stops.

We had a little electrical problem on our mountain this evening and, as hard as it is for me to deal with it today, we are once again without water! I suspect they will fix it tomorrow.  Bath by bucket tonight. Sorry - no pictures of that.  Good night!

Lesson learned: Take bath before the water goes out!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The old bike runs again!

Rick and I wasting time last year
On June 28th of last year I wrote this entry about my 1968 BMW R60/2 failing just before departure time for last July's big trip.  My friend Rick, who owns a similar old BMW, spent a lot of hours trying to get it running, but to no avail.

It was a failure of a part of a modern electronic ignition system and for over a year that bike sat in my house awaiting a final fix.  I ordered and procrastinated installing a new wiring harness (yes, BMW still sells parts for the old bikes) and after installing it the same failure was persisted.

An internet friend in California imports and supports these electronic ignition systems, which also provide 12 volts for better lighting (and charging gadgets like GPS, ham radio, cell phones) and making replacement bulbs much easier to find along the road.  Anyway, after many emails and shipping parts back and forth, today the bike started.  It is a happy day as I will now be able to ride that bike to Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio sports car track next week. Amazing that after sitting a year, it took only two kicks to get it running once that spark returned. Darned little black boxes.

I have many last minute fixes to complete and will take a test ride this weekend to make sure it is up for the ride. I know that I am!

Not only did this happen today, but we got electricity and water back at our home after more than a week without as a result of the Derecho on June 30th.  Reminded me of our years in Haiti, but houses here are not designed to live in without power. Many friends were gracious to let us use their water and bath facilities

Lessons Learned: 

Be patient - sometimes it takes longer than you expect [to fix bike/get power restored].

Recognize the partners in your quest.

Enjoy the process - disregard the frustration.

Look forward to riding it.  Yes, that is the goal.

Don't forget where that screw came from after 12 months.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Post ride report: Why The Bike?

After what seems to be a very demanding three weeks I woke early to write about riding a motorcycle for a month from coast to coast and from sea level to over 11 thousand feet and in rain and sun, temperatures in the 30s to over 100.  For riders there will be few surprises in this entry, and for non-riders there may be some insights into why people ride motorcycles.

I used to think that there were several kinds of motorcyclists: Some think an hour is a long ride; some think riding on pavement is very dangerous and stick to off-road recreational riding; some think off-road is dangerous and stick to road surfaces with 'good' traction; some think 300 miles in a day is fine if one travels at very high speed; some can't imagine a ride without a beer with their buddies in the middle of the ride; others won't drink until the bikes are parked for the day.  Then there are the ones that think riding a thousand miles in 24 hours is normal - and lots of people think that is nuts.  I could go on, but you get it.  Different strokes for different folks.

I have decided that these kinds are not real.  Each rider has a ride to complete and she or he is going to make that happen.  For me, this summer, the ride was complex and over-planned.  It was an exercise to see if I could plan in detail and ride the plan.  I found that I could and I did - but there were enough surprises along the way that it appealed to my usual riding habit of just pointing in a direction and seeing what happens.

My riding 'kind' is really not about sitting atop a machine with five gallons of gas between my legs and a hot internal combustion engine between my feet going  down the road on two tiny patches of rubber.  My 'kind' is really is about the people I meet along the way and how a part of them rubs off and influences my life.  Recognizing these encounters, and keeping a eye out for them, is a thing that gives me reason to swing a leg over the seat one more time when it is getting old, or is hot, or cold or the road is boring. And especially when it is good!

For example, lets consider the women and men who rode with me to Ocean City on the last day of the trip.  They embrace a 'kind' of riding that is not familiar to me, riding in groups on Harley-Davidson bikes and taking pride in having great looking bikes.  But they are also skilled riders and enjoy the ride as much as I do.  After the ride we really had a good time at the wrap party and I have to admit I would never have met these folks if a certain person had not organized that day.  Now, I will never feel uncomfortable riding with a group like that, and I may even wash and shine up my bike!

On this trip were many 'chance' encounters with people that helped me along the way, both motorcycle related and those providing life's necessities like good food, lodging, details of why one needs to buy bear spray (think pepper spray on steroids) and hints on good places to visit.  For me, that is what the motorcycle provides: reasons to be involved in the lives of others, if only for a few minutes.  Could I do it in a car?  Sure, but the bike seems to open doors to weirder people, the kind I like most.  And an old bike seems to me to attract older folks, ones whose life experience provides a reservoir from which to drink it in.

Take the owner of a bike called "Stir Fry." Protecting his identity (his buddies know who I am talking about) I have to tell you this guy has a lot to offer anyone.  His tales of giving back to the community really inspired me to be on the look-out for more opportunities to give.  I only spent an hour with this man and I hope we get a chance to ride someplace together in the future.  Would I have ever met him if we both rode up in cars to some diner?  I doubt it.

In future blogs I am going to write about other communities that were with me on the ride: ham radio operators, higher education friends, the Not Alone supporters and others.  I am also trying to rank the places I visited and write about a top three places for you to consider visiting.  Yellowstone had so much impact that it is hard to choose number two and three. Stay tuned!

Lessons Learned: Stay aware of the people around you, take the time to let something rub off on you, and embrace giving.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tracker slideshow

Chris Pirsig and company at Beartoth Pass rest area 1968

Me at the same rest area 43 years later
My friend Peter, who introduced me to the motorcycle at the young age of 15 or so, has put together a slideshow of tracker images and associated streetviews.  As I watched it amazed me in how well it captured the elements of the trip.  And the motorcycle in one of the frames is not me.  But the McDonalds parking lot got the parking space precisely.  I stood under the big trees just to the South of that spot talking to Peter on the phone.

Thanks Peter for spending the hours watching the tracker and capturing the images so I can share them with everyone.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Last Day of the Ride

Ms. Pat and me at Easton
I have been home for two days and will be writing a post on reflections from the whole trip in about a week or two, but I want to let you know about the last day including a great ride with the MidShore ABATE group and the wrap party orchestrated by Ms. Pat of the VFW post in Easton, MD.  The group ride was about 77 miles each way, and it was hot and a weekend day so the traffic was not always going at the speed limit.  I was sorry that I got these women and men involved in this roasting ride. 
But we made it to the beach and they saw to it that we got back safe and sound.  I could not stop smiling as our group blasted down the road together, I really enjoyed that time of being Not Alone!

Those of you who know me as a rider know that I seldom ride with others, and I had a few things to learn about about group riding with these pros.  But we made it back and they were most gracious in putting up with my sloppy style.  You can see more photos on the ABATE website.

We arrived at Ocean City Beach at a little after 2PM and I walked out to the water and soaked my old combat boots in the Atlantic the same as I did a few days earlier in the Pacific.  It sure felt better in that hot weather on the east coast.

Then we rode back to Easton, MD and the fun began.  It took me some time to realize it was over.  Standing in the water did not trigger the "I did it!" response.  After all, I still had to get on the bike and ride back to Easton. 

ABATE members presenting check to Not Alone
But when I pulled into the parking lot of the VFW hall and saw a welcoming crowd assembled it hit me.  8200 plus miles in 30 days was now over.  And the party was great!  Ms. Pat had arranged for the mayor to present me with a proclamation, a key to the city and lots of local folks were there to help me enjoy the evening.

A live band was there to play the song that had been stuck in my head (Stairway to Heaven) for much of the trip, I got to see my wife after 30 days apart, and my daughter and son-in-law and grandson were there as well.

We raised another $500 for Not Alone and ate until we could hold no more.

Thanks to ABATE, the VFW folks and all who were involved in making this last day a highlight of the month long ride.

Lessons Learned:  Riding with a group is a gas!

Thanks to all of you for your support, and stay tuned for at least one more post with reflections on multiple aspects of the ride: Bike stuff, social stuff, spiritual stuff and some funny pictures.  No more animal videos - I promised!  Subscribed to the blog on the left menu to get an email when i get the next one published or friend Ron Angert of Facebook where I also announce new posts.