Archive for the ‘ADVENTURE’ Category

Winter Motorbike Riding 2010/11 – Why?

To many winter motorcycle riding, at least in the northeast, is a conflict of terms. The only riding that most people refer to in the winter is riding in the car (which itself is a conflict of terms)  or perhaps the occasional snowmobile(r?) (which seems like a nice way to ruin a winter day…but thats another story) There are some people who find ways to ride bikes anyway, like the enthusiasts I see on the lake and on the canal with Kold Kutter ice screws in their tires. I salute them. But thats just not quite my style. In the winter I have to get out and enjoy the world one of the few ways I know how.

(that’s a frozen parking lot by the way 🙂

Why?

There are certain questions in which if you have to ask, you’ll never understand. First and most importantly my goal is to spread the word of bike. I’m talking about transportation most importantly. Motorbikes (and cycles of all kinds) are the most ingenious and perfectly suited to move people from one place to another in an incredibly efficient manner. That of course, is not the only reason I ride bikes, but it’s an important message thats been obscured by what I call “toy” culture. Whereby, motorbikes are toys first and utilities second. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. Though there comes a time in the northeast, when there is enough snow to stop a freight train, there are alot of opportunities in the middle of the winter that aren’t so bad. It’s not that I think everybody should ride their bikes through the winter. I realize that there are alot of perfectly good reasons not to. But I hope to make people consider what actually IS possible. Maybe that cloudy day in the summertime, is actually a great day to scoot or pedal to work. So that’s reason #1, because they still work:) And no, I’m not cold. In another post I’ll explain the preparations necessary to extend the  riding season in the northeast, all the way until the spring.

(yeah thats ice)


The second reason and less important but equally as motivating is adventure. Not so much the type of adventure you get from skydiving while slamming a mountain dew, but more like adventure you get from climbing to the top of the mountain only to reach the ridge just as the sun is starting to set, far on the horizon. Admittedly this reason is a bit more touchy-feely, but we are humans after all and there is value in keeping some awe and wonder present in our lives. There is no freedom like flying though a back-country rode while the trees are covered with thick snow, and the ribbon of runway is still dry enough to keep the landing gear up (terrible mixed-metaphor, I know). It’s a unique experience that’s freeing, and beautiful in a way that you just can’t appreciate inside of a cage…

(My buddy Ben and I after an early January ride – Note the lift pass on the borrowed riding pants)

The last reason is challenge. When the roads are truly snowy, I take the car. Look even someone as bike-crazy as me can realize that there is a threshold that shouldn’t be crossed. The challenge however, is taking advantage of every day you DO have that is reasonable. That means alot of preparation and planning. It’s true that this is important in the summer as well, but it is essential in the winter. It also means keeping 110% diligent on the road as well. The roads are generally clear if I’m going to ride but in case there is the occasional splash of snow along the way, I have to be prepared.  The challenge enables me to dig deeper and understand more about the science/art of riding and that, above it all, is worth the trouble.

Note: in another post I’ll cover more on the technical side of winter riding, on the who what when whereand how…

(Yes, those are knobbies on a Honda Nighthawk….)

Western US Trip 2008

The Summer after I picked up my ST1300, an inaugural trip was in order. The year prior we visited the PA grand canyon and decided that we needed to see the real deal:) We had done a 3000 mi trip on my 700cc Nighthawk S through the Virginia(s). This was an order of magnitude larger an adventure. With very little planning we set off on our first trip across the country. I had never been anywhere west of Cleavland so the feeling of traveling such a huge distance across the country was intoxicating, and I was hooked on adventure travel.

Here is the Journal Log I kept while we traveled. They’re not synced up to the picture, I know, get over it 🙂 (all entries are 2008):

July 28

Well we didn’t quite get off to the start that we planned. Some interview engagements pushed back our departure a little bit. Today were leaving at around 6 or so. I am really not sure how far we’ll get or where well end up sleeping. Since were closing on a house in a couple months, cash is tight. That’s good for adventure though, lots of camping in random places by the side of the road. We still hope to make it out to the Grand Canyon and hopefully San Francisco, but we will only have 14 days now and its going to be too short to make it to Seattle like I hoped:-( The weekend was a bunch of preparing which included, oil change, tire change, tank bank install, and a bunch of other tweaks. At this point I’m just ready to go! Next post will be on the road (hopefully from my tethered laptop in a tent some random place :D…..

July 28 10:22PM 120 Miles So we made it to our first campsite. Rode an enjoyable boring ride down the NYS thruway but enjoyed some audio books along the way. Kerra and I are listening a book called “im a stranger here too” or something like that. lots of fun anecdotes. We are now at Erie state park just south of Fredonia. We already met a fellow rider who offered us a flashlight (we thought he was security kicking us out…) time for some rest. then a nice long day of riding tomarrow!

JULY 30 1000miles?
yesterday we didn’t get as far as we hoped and ended up camping in illinois. It rained and poured and thundered and lightning(ed). kerra and I hid out in the bathroom(where it was dry) for the storm. We came out to find most of the campsites flooded. but miraculously our tent was in tact and even pretty dry. we rode all day today (in the pouring rain most the day) and we got a recommendation to check out route 54 in nevada. There’s a bunch of ghostowns there and even the area where they did a bunch of the first nuke tests. I don’t know if well make it there but perhaps… anyway that leads me up to now where I am typing this on my phone in a farm office in Oklahoma where were staying tonight. We wandered off highway 44 earlier today to try to find a spot to camp and went through these little roads that werent even on the map. We ended up on old route 66 in Oklahoma. Needless to say we didn’t find anywhere to stay so we hopped back on the 44 as it was getting dark. We stopped at a McDonald’s a few miles down the road where we met Carson. He was a really nice guy with a bunch of harleys. We asked him where there were campsites and he told us we could stay in his farm office (i guess you would call it) it was really nice though. It even had a fan! we left in the morning before he came back to work. I left him a note on the door with my e-mail and I hope to hear from him again!

July 31 2100 Miles
Today was a long HOT day. It was nice when we woke up in Oklahoma but just continued to get hotter as the day went on. We went through amarillo texas where we stopped for some eats and decided our route. As we went down route 40 west, the land started to become more red and sandy and eventually desert like with mesas and everything. Its unreal. It seems like these places shouldnt really exist outside of magazines but they do. We took that detour down 54 today but it wasnt worth it. We couldn’t go far enough to find any ghost towns and I nearly got blown off the road. At a gas station down 219 (on the way back to route 40) and we saw some guys on Harleys and one guy had a flat tired. We tried to help him out with my portable air compressor but it was beyond repair (and they knew it) and had already called a tow truck. They were really nice and couldnt believe how easy it was to push my st1300 around:-D They were from texas and they got a kick out of the fact that we were all the way from new york. It was an exciting day were really in it now. We stopped at a KOA tonight and they have wifi which is nice. My inverter crapped out on me though so i cant charge the laptop. No big deal good battery life. Man its hot here though it got up to like 101 today. were drinking lots of water but man its incredibly hot out here. we should be getting pretty close to the grand canyon by tomarrow!

August 2nd 2700 miles
Last night we stayed at a lovely place off route 180. The road was great, lots of scenery and windy roads. We stayed at a place that was a tribute to the flenstones. What do you want for 12.60? I had a bronto burger and some 5cent coffee in the morning. We saw some elk right behind the “city walls” which were actually made out of solid concrete and painted to look like bedrock city. There was a scarynice guy that set us up there who had a harley with some carb issues (or so we figured). He called us yankees and im pretty sure he didnt like us because of that but he made like he was just joking around. I doubt it. Anway it was a nice night anyway no rain of course. We woke up in the morning and drove 20 miles to the grand canyon. We had a blast climbing down the canyon (and not so much of a blast climbing back up) we climbed down about 1 mile or so. It really is amazing. You cant explain why a gaint hole in the ground is cool though, you just have to see it and climb around in it. We rode down 64 and 163 after we got out of the canyon today and my god… it was awesome. The scenery is downright amazing. just flat land with giant rocks coming out here and there. We decided to head in for the night as the sun was setting on the giant utah landscape at a little RV place in god knows where, utah (on route 163) After drinking 42 oz of dr pepper Kerra and I are ready for some sleep, but not after taking advantage of some free camp wifi! Next stop Denver, Colorado….

august 4th 3100… ish
Yesterday we went through MOAB and made a stop at arches national park. It was verrryyy hot. then we made it through i70 toward denver. There was a long extremely boring stretch of this road in Utah and then some great roads through the rockies. At about 50 miles to denver there was completely stopped traffic and it took us another 3 or so hours to get in. We stayed with a friend (Andrew) in his sweet place in the city of denver. We locked my bike up in a little backyard that could be accessed through an alleyway, really cool. Anyway, today we went to Boulder and had a walk around. Its super cool there and reminds me alot of Ithaca NY. We had some delicious spud brothers and made a stop at an oxygen bar. We also made a little detour thanks to my confused GPS, through some Awesome mountain roads near boulder. These were easily the best roads of the whole trip. We checked out a bunch of sweet bicycle shops and stopped by turin, the bike shop that andrew works at in denver. great day. were staying the night here tonight again and then heading back toward home tomarrow..

August 6th 4000 ish
Yesterday we headed out from Denver up through wyoming and into south dakota in search of mount rushmore. Little did we realize we would end up in a ton of motorcycle traffic for the Sturgis motorcycle rally. There were entirely too many harleys everywhere, but it was alot of fun. even 40 miles out from stergis where we stayed, there was nothing but bikes. even the small main street was closed off and only bikes could go throuh. that was enough of sturgis for me… we saw mount rushmore and after a rainy night we headed off to see crazy horse, which is another mountain carving that was started in the late fourties. It is still only maybey 30 percent done but that didnt stop them from having a giant visitors center. A guy that lived around there said he expected it to be completed in another 60 years or so! After that we headed back up through the tonnes of harleys (many of them on trailers) back to I90 where we’ll spend 1500 miles getting home. Today we made it around 600 miles and we have 975 to go until home. For tonight, we stopped at a rest stop outside of austin MN and found a trail that went down to a nice campsite. I managed to muscle the bike down a nice hill in the woods and hopefully we can get it out in the morning. Right now im just typing away in the woods next to a rest stop, using my phone as a modem. I love adventure. Anyway Im thinking about going for an Iron Butt badge tomarrow on the way home. Im not sure what they require, and I really dont hold the organization in the higest reguard. Theres alot of dangerous stuff people do particularly on the 14,000 mile trips people do in like 2 weeks. but all in all i thought it might be fun. I am going to look that up and hope that there aren’t and mutant crocodiles that are going to emerge from the sewage treatment pond down the hill….:-D

August 9th 5400 Miles
So instead of coming straight home, and doing some rediculous things required for the Iron Butt, we decided to take another day and see chicago. This was a great end to our adventure. we hit chicago traffic around noon and parked by 1. I tried to lock stuff up on the bike as best as I could but there wasn’t any way to get my tank bag so I carried the thing, all 30 lbs of it while wearing my leather jacket and bike pants… Later I gave up and got it kind of locked on and this proved to be good enough. We walked over to the Chicago navy pier which is the fun touristy place near the beach. There were entirely too many people there but it was really nice after all the desolate places we’d just recently been. We decided to make the most of our time and our park job and walk to the sears tower. Kerra managed to walk the mile and a half in her bike boots which I am still amazed about. We both carried/wore our jackets and looked like goofballs with jackets at 80F but it was an adventure to end our adventure. The sears tower was totally worth it, really cool views, just touristy stuff but damnit, we were just that. When we got out we spotted the famous stuffed chicago pizza joint and stopped for a bite. That was seriously, some of the best pizza I have ever had. I brought a piece all the rest of the way home with me… It was getting dark so we managed to get out of the city and made it in to Indiana where we paid 20 bucks for the worst campsite we had in the whole trip, but made it the 600 or so miles home the next day while managing to avoid just about all the rain (which was now freezing cold to us after 100 deg weather all week) New York drivers never seemed so polite after this trip:D

Nova Scotia Adventure 2010

Some people have religion,  Some people have sports,  some people have addiction, Some people have friends,  Some people have lives…I have adventure.

After two summers of  riding in the western US, we decided to take a different heading, and see Nova Scotia.  

It’ s really a shame I didn’t keep a journal along the way, but the pictures tell a good enough story on their own.

My good friend Matt joined us for the trip. We started out on Friday night August 20th 2010, and rode to Matt’s moms house outside of Syracuse NY. It was mostly in the dark (which I hate). Matt took us down some of the bumpy and rustic back-roads which he grew up riding dirt bikes on. Needless to say he was a little more comfortable than I was…

Tuff Guy poses

Nova Scotia Map and ST13

Serious, at Matt’s Mom’s

Getting ready to leave Matt’s

And until I can get WordPress to cooperate,  here is the trip…in reverse:

Resurrecting the Zombie Tractor

Last year I picked up a little plow-tractor to get rid of the snow in the driveway. It’s kind of an interesting exhibit of US manufacturing abilities from the 1960s. It has a 2 cylinder 690cc briggs and stratton boxer motor. Most importantly it pushes snow really well because it weighs about 9 tons.  About  Halfway through the winter died. I checked everything, carburetter was fine, ignition seemed to work fine. I was stumped. After talking to some friends at work I decided to checkout the keyway on the flywheel, to see if it had slipped the key. Sure enough, it spun so, such that the spark timing was off. I managed to damage the flywheel while removing it and in turn damaged the starter gear. I found a new flywheel in the summertime. After 8 months of sitting like a half-eaten-zombie in my barn, the snow was starting to fly again, and this is the story of the Ressurection:

There it is,  taking up room in the barn and blocking the stairs for 8 months….

No flywheel, about to take off the starter to  replace the gear

Crappy, destroyed starter gear

Shiny new starter gear

Starter back in, Flywheel back on and… it smoked, it screamed, it ran …..IT’S ALLIVEE

Bodywork back on, and out to pillage for BRAAINS!…

As much fun as it is to restore this relic of a different time, and as much as it is incredible that 40+ years later this thing will even work at all, it also makes me wonder why we’re still using gasoline engines for things like this. It’s such an overly complicated, oily, smokey, loud system and to do what? Push snow around… If I have any more trouble with it I will convert it over too electric drive in about as much time as it took me to do the work in this post.

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