Sunday, August 31, 2008

T-Minus 26 Days and Counting

Only 26 days before I hit the road for the east coast and my bike is just not safe to ride. Yesterday I wanted to put on a fuel filter, so took a short ride to the local Auto Zone for some hose clamps. Maybe this is just a personal quirk, but I have this odd aversion to riding at 30 MPH in a 50 MPH zone. And, that's all the clutch would do.

So, I pulled my bike into the back yard, under the patio roof, and started preparing her for major motorcycle surgery. A quick call to Cycle Gear and my friction plates and fresh springs are ordered. I stand outside and look at her. "Why not just do everything?" I think. "Do the brakes and tires, fuel filter, and heck, do the entire tune up.

There's no sense is being pissed off about this. I am taking advantage of the moto-down-time. No need to rush anything. It's OK if she isn't running before every morning. Time for me to get a little dirty.

Friday, August 29, 2008

T-Minus 28 Days and Counting

The gremlins have been busy teaching me a few things. The slipping clutch is teaching me patience and faith in my abilities. The puncture is teaching me that something that could be a major failure is only millimeters from an annoyance.

And today a new lesson. One of the problems that can plague the Honda Rebel is a headlight rattle. I spent an hour working on my rattling piece of chrome but to no avail. So, riding with the rattling headlight this morning I hear a new rattle. It doesn't sound good.

To the best of my abilities this morning, I guessed something was loose on or near the engine. At lunch time I ate my bagel while poking and prodding the engine and anything I could think of checking. No luck.

After work I hop on my bike and rev the engine. The nasty little gremlin of a rattle is still eluding me. Then I lean back on my luggage rack. The rattle stops! The vibrating rear fender was causing a loose connection on my luggage rack to oscillate, causing it to hit the fender and buzz.

The lessons? Symptoms of problems like to lie. Maybe with motorcycles as with life, the problems should be diagnosed, not the symptoms.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

T-Minus 30 Days and Counting

It is interesting the little things that can raise one's spirits. The difference between depression and happiness is a thought.

Yesterday I awoke in a grump. Showered in a grump. Brushed my teeth in a grump. Got dressed in a grump. Some might say it's my lack of sex for the last four years, but hey... Every one is entitled to their opinions.

I sit at the table for a quick grumpy breakfast and fire up my laptop to check my e-mail. What do I see? A letter from Lois Pryce about my ride! WOW. Grump level now going down.

I ride to work and test my clutch. Yes, it is slipping in 4th and 5th gears. I get to work and contact a few Rebel aficionados I know on the internet. While they do confirm it is 'classic' clutch slippage, it is not terribly expensive.

Grump level is a little higher now. If a problem is going to occur, I would rather have it happen before I leave. But, I would really prefer problems like this to not occur.

Then I get a call from the reception desk. I have a package. What could it be? An unknown donation? Box of computer stuff that will end up littering the garbage dump? No...

My ride cards are here!!!

Deanna did a beautiful job! I immediately handed out about 100 cards to the people where I work and talked about my ride and domestic violence. Several people asked if they could donate on my website and I even received $20 in cash from a fellow. (Thanks Kenneth!) Needless to say, my grump factor went negative.

Even my first tire puncture couldn't raise my grump. Sure, it didn't puncture the tube and I need new tires anyway, but I didn't care. That e-mail from Lois and the cards from Deanna just set a mood that may be difficult to remove. Slipping clutch and punctured rear tire just couldn't dampen my spirits this morning. In the cool, unusually moist early morning Las Vegas air I enjoyed my morning commute. Beautiful sunrise.

Monday, August 25, 2008

T-Minus 32 Days and Counting

And the paranoia starts setting in. Pictured to the left is a clutch cage for a Honda Rebel, the bike that will carry me 6000 miles in 21 days. I think my clutch is slipping and that worries me. But I have other worries.

Can I handle riding 300 - 500 miles a day? Will my new tires hold up? Will I run into snow while riding over the Rockies in Colorado? Will my chain handle the punishment? Will the brakes need to be replaced or will they hold up? What if I run out of money 1000 miles from home?

I know... Earl mentioned in a comment, that many of those worries will just evaporate once I am underway. Yes, I know they will. When taking cars on long journeys I do the same thing; worry about things and once on the road the worry just dissolves.

Maybe that is the magic of the journey. Maybe my lesson in this is to not worry so much. Prepare and then enjoy. It's a good lesson for me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

T-Minus 35 Days and Counting

I am really starting to excited now! People are linking to my website and I am starting to receive endorsement and offers of assistance. I was even offered a loan to cover expenses on the trip. YES!!! This IS going to work!

What is the only thing that can temper my enthusiasm? The Las Vegas heat. Riding in this kind of heat is NOT pleasant. The apparent wind while riding is NOT cool; it actually heats the rider more than if they were sitting still at a stop light.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to every opportunity there is to hop on and ride, but I must admit that riding at 75 MPH in 115 F is brutal. At least in the cold I can bundle up. I am not personally into riding naked. That would be a tad bit embarrassing and that sunburn... outch!

BUT, the season is changing. Nights are starting to have a certain coolness to them. Some days yield riding that is not so brutal. It won't be long now before the temperatures are perfect riding. The smell and feel of the cool air whistling by... Let me tell you, I am truly looking forward to that!

Monday, August 18, 2008

T-Minus 39 Days and Counting

Only 39 days. I would be lying if I said there were no apprehensive thoughts going through my brain. The possibility of an accident, or of running out of money, or of not being able to find a place to stay, or of mechanical failure. These thoughts, as the time of my departure nears, are becoming more tangible.

I think the bike will be fine, but... I am a little worried about the brakes as they are starting to be a little thin. I am a little worried about the tires as they are wearing a little and starting to get weathering cracks. Well, worried may be too harsh a word. Concerned may describe my feelings a little better. I can replace the brakes and tires, but they cost money. An I can see I will be running tight the way it is.

Then there is the weather. Don't get me wrong, weather does not frighten me. After witnessing more than thirteen tornadoes, a tropical storm, innumerable ice and hail and snow storms, I have acquired an odd sort of appreciation for adverse weather. What I worry about is snow in Colorado. I heard on the Weather Channel how I70 was getting snow already in Colorado, just west of Denver. That is my route through the state. I am not afraid of it, I am concerned it will put me behind schedule.

More later---