Friday, September 26, 2008

T-Minus 0! We have launch!

I had a wonderful zero-day post all typed up and ready. I left it on my laptop at home. Ah well.

So, to keep this short and sweet, I will be maintaining a running ride report on the ADV Rider forum here: at the ADVRider site.

Posts here will likely be sporradic since I am not taking my laptop. I am not sure how well I am going to do without a computer for 3 weeks. Probably start going through the DTs this evening. :-)

Ride safe all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

T-Minus 2 Friggin' Days!!!

Holy Shit! Can I say that???

Bike has two new tires, new friction plates, new front brakes and new wind screen. All I have left to do is run an electrical connection for my radio tracker and change the oil. That's it!!!

The anticipation is almost palpable. I haven't had butterflies in my stomach like this since my first girlfriend in highschool! The anticipation; the adrenalin; the hope; it is all melding together into a great launch for a fabulous adventure.

6000 miles on a Honda Rebel CMX250C. Mechanics have told me that I will likely loose the engine before I get to Illinois. Others have told me something else on the bike will break. And others tell me it simply can't be done in three weeks.

Then there are others that give me hugs, or handshakes or the ADVRider Salute. Many other riders are envious and made me promise to take a lot of photos and not drink too much. To hear a seasoned rider tell me that he has never even attempted something like that and wished he could ride along, really makes me feel good.

This is something a good portion of the motorcycling public have never attempted. And, the group of those intrepid riders who have done this on such a small bike is even smaller. It's a good feeling!

(Brakes, luggage rack, spark plugs and windscreen are courtesy of Jacks Rebel Warehouse Thanks Jack!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

T-Minus 8 Days and Counting!!!

Honestly, the bike, my luggage and finances are almost ready. The clutch judders a little when taking off in first gear, but she is solid. The engine purrs and I feel better with a fuel filter. I am only waiting for two things; a new set of tires and front brake pads. That's it. Once those two things are taken care of, I could leave. Well, I could except for the fact that I have work.

Ah well.

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to be frustrated by clutch problems. Today it was work.

Working on a buggy hardware system that has questionable documentation in a language that is completely foreign to me is not my idea of a good work day. At least my motorcycle obeys the laws of physics.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

T-Minus 13 Days and Counting!!!

My soul is mobile again! If being without my motorcycle for two weeks is anything like death, I want to be riding in this life for a good LONG time!

I was like a concerned parent, taking her out for her first ride with the new friction plates. Mentally noting every nuance of vibration or utterance of noise for later analysis. Every jerk and stall and shifting difference inked into my brain. The cool air and blazing desert sun served as superb riding partners.

I may have been without my bike for a few weeks but I did learn a few things.
  • When getting aftermarket parts or tools, ALWAYS doublecheck what is being ordered or purchased.
  • Factory service manuals are not always correct in a clear, easy to understand fashion. Perhaps correct to the author, but maybe not so to the reader.
  • Patience is a virtue. Wait... I knew that already...
  • High pain tolerance is a virtue. I learned that after my oily hand slipped off a wrench and I smashed my pinkie finger nail.
  • Don't assume a mechanic knows his or her stuff. A good mechanic doesn't know everything; they figure it out as they go along.
  • Perseverance and trust in ones' self is always a winning combination.
Oh, did I mention that I successfully replaced the clutch friction plates and I am not a mechanic, nor have I ever even seen the insides of a motorcycle's clutch before? Like in life, it is not necessary to be an expert to succeed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Guilty Until Proven Innocent---

This is not post about motorcycle riding or domestic violence. This is a post about being assumed guilty of something, whereby it is necessary to prove one's innocence. This is not the legal system. This has nothing to do with law enforcement. This is about bill collectors and the companies that use them.

--rant on--

Last year my ex-wife and I were threatened with legal action over a hospital bill. My ex had an emergency room visit. She is covered under not one, but TWO insurance policies. This is what I don't understand... part of the bill was paid for with not even a whisper of contempt. BUT, someone messed up and didn't send part of the bill to insurance. So, we are told that the liability for over $3,000 worth of charges is OURS. Why? Because the hospital didn't bill it correctly!!! AND, it is up to US to prove that we shouldn't pay!

Several weeks ago I receive a collection notice from a hospital visit my ex-wife had five or so years ago. She was even double covered then. Why am I NOW receiving notification that someone thinks I owe them money?

It isn't just hospitals. I signed up for a cell phone plan YEARS ago. The sales person promised roaming and LD was free. Great. I make a drive to Illinois and get a bill of over $1,300!!! The company told me that the plan I had didn't offer free LD or roaming. Further, they tell me that they don't offer that plan anywhere!

I pick up a Sunday Chicago Tribune and there... a 1/2 page add from the same company advertising free LD and roaming. I call them back and refuse to pay. I tell them I want to see a copy of the contract I signed. They say it is lost but I still owe the money. I tell them that they will not see a single cent from me until they proove I owe it. They tell me that I have to proove that I don't owe it. How the hell do I do that???

Ah, phone companies. I spent 30 minutes talking to a collection company this morning about a phone bill way back in 2003 when I lived in Illinois. We were at this house only a month, yet the phone company says we were there for nearly 5. No. They don't have to prove that I owe the money. Their word is gold and true. I am the one who must prove I don't owe it. Who the hell keeps recipts through 2 moves and 4 years?

--rant off--

On the brighter side, the proper size tool is at Cycle Gear... or at least that's what I am told. They will have to prove it.

T-Minus 14 Days and Counting!

Only 14 days. Two weeks! Honestly, if my motorcycle were feeling better, I would want to just hop on and take off! It is nice and cool and clear this morning; perfect riding weather.

She looks SO forlorn in the back yard, and hasn't been on the asphalt in over two weeks. That is the longest I have gone without enjoying the open road, in more than nine months. Well, Ok. I am being a bit dramatic here. An 'open road' in Las Vegas, like a snowy winter day here, is rare.

Misery loves company. One of my bosses, well, rather a co-worker than my boss, has been hearing of my motorcycle repair woes; my clutch issues, and now the difficulty I am having in finding tires for my ride. Yesterday he tells me of his airplane building woes.

Several years ago I had dreams of building my own. When I decided it was probably not the right time in my life for such an adventure, he continued on, and dove in. (

As his domain name implies, it is a wooden plane. A fine, beautiful adventure. If anyone knows anything about building wooden aircraft, they likely also know that very high quality wood is necessary. Every piece must be individually checked for quality. The grain needs to be just so, and there can't be any knots or pockets.

He separated the wood and took some of the best pieces to build the ribs of the wings. The ribs, twelve if I remember correctly, must all be identical. Meticulous work, attention to detail and more than a month's worth of evening and weekend work was necessary to build good, strong wing ribs for his plane.

So, not so long ago he attended a get-together of the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He brought several completed ribs to show the other plane builders there. Luckily there was someone there well versed in wooden plane construction. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how one views these sorts of things, he pointed out that while the the large pieces of wood that were used to build the ribs were indeed 'aircraft grade', many smaller pieces used to build the ribs were sub par and not as strong as they could or should be. A case where the larger piece is good, but smaller subdivisions are not.

As with my motorcycle woes, here is another case of it being better to get bad news and having the opportunity of nipping it in the bud before the bud had a chance to grow and bite back. These issues are causing us both a certain amount of stress but it is for the best. It's better that I find out my clutch is bad before a 6,000 mile ride and it is better for him to find out his ribs are sub par before he is 6,000 feet in the air. Either could be deadly.

Maybe, just maybe the gremlins are working in our favor for a change.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

T-Minus 15 Days and Counting!

Just 15 more days and I am on the road. Two weeks and a day. 360 hours. That's it!

And unfortunately she isn't ready. I would actually rather have it this way than have all these troubles after I am three or four days out.

As luck would have it, I ordered the wrong socket wrench for the clutch lock nut (pic on left). It took two days of calling and checking to discover that no, the bike hadn't changed; the factory repair manual was not terribly clear on the needed wrench so Cycle Gear ordered what they thought was necessary. Well, this tool is needed to remove the oil filter so it isn't a complete loss.

So, that was Monday. Took a day to find someone who has those types of tools. Surprisingly, it is the company who made the other socket; Motion Pro ( My neighbor who is a tool dealer found the correct part number for the correct socket. (pic on right) He ordered it and hopefully that piece of black gold will be here with enough time so I can do the clutch this weekend and be back on the bike Monday.

Ah, but my little personal clutch repair project is not being simple. The folks at Cycle Gear ordered the wrong springs. I had no idea until someone on the website replied to my posting and said to NOT use them. These are the ECB CSK11 spring kits. Do NOT use them on the Rebel 250. So, now I am faced with waiting until next weekend or using the springs I took out.

Well, as luck would have it, the original clutch springs are still within factory tolerances, so I think those will need to work. To be on the safe side though, I think I will order the proper set this time.

I would like to think that if I were not a patient man, I would be running around outside, mumbling nonsense, with two handfulls of my own hair. Between you and I, I like my long hair too much to pull it out over this.

Ride safe, all.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

T-Minus 17 Days and Counting!

Time is getting short and I am getting excited! The sweet thought of riding a small lonely two lane asphalt road in 60F degree temps, green fields all around, is as close to heavenly riding as my heat-addled brain can imagine. And I am less than twenty days from that. Two weekends and I shall be on my journey.

Unfortunately I am still without a bike. The clutch springs are still not in. HOPEFULLY they will arrive by tomorrow or I will need to order them elsewhere. This weekend is my target date for clutch repair. If it doesn't happen then, I can do it on the weekend following, but I will be completely unable to run any shake-out rides.

I was quite pleased to read on the My 2 Wheels website that members (local I presume) receive discounts from Motorcycle Tire Center here in Vegas. I called them this morning and asked for a quote. Hopefully they will give me some good news.

And, I am asking all of my humble readers. Those that ride and those that don't. Man, woman and child... Please visit my site and sign my guest book. The support you give me on this journey is support for the abused.

Ride safe, all!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

T-Minus 20 Days and Counting

So, I ordered a new set of clutch friction plates and springs last Saturday to replace the prematurely failing set on my bike. The kind lady at Cycle Gear promised they would be in town by Friday. Wednesday I call and order the special little tool Honda decided was necessary to take the clutch apart. No problem. I was told everything would be in by Friday so I could have an enjoyable weekend of clutch work.

Yesterday I receive a call from Cycle Gear. "Mr. Linder? We received the ECB friction plates and the clutch tool, but for some reason the springs didn't make it. They will definitely be in the store on Monday."

Well, I can't be ticked off at them. They are a great bunch of folks with seriously great prices.

Anyway, I digress. So, I don't have my springs. I can replace just the friction plates but it is not recommended. I look at it this way; I am going to ride more than 6000 miles. I would rather wait and do things correctly, rather than be impatient, do a shitty job and end up stranded in Oklahoma on a bike with a shredded clutch or worse.

So, what does one do with an immobile bike and three weeks before a cross country ride? Well, there's a lot...

I ordered stuff. For starters, I lined up a local place to change my tires. If I can somehow acquire a jack or stand or something to take the wheels off myself, I will. My boss suggested what he uses - a milk crate. He rides a KLR 650 and that works for him. But, my Rebel's exhaust pipes are lower that the frame. Using the milk crate method would put the bike's 300 pounds all on the exhaust system. I'm not doing that!

Then I call Jack from Jack's Rebel Warehouse for some spark plugs and new front brake pads. Let me tell you a few things about Jack... Number one, he LOVES to talk about the Rebel and could probably disassemble, tune up and reassemble a Rebel in the dark, with a blindfold in the middle of winter. Number two, he is a great supporter of my Ride for the NCADV, so if you have a Honda Rebel and you need anything for it, call him up.

OK, so the rest of my clutch repair stuff is on its way. Tire change is set-up. Brake pads and spark plugs are on their way.

What is left? Well, I started polishing and checking. Everything I could reach was cleaned or tightened or both. Then I started dressing her.

I read something in the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook (by Chris Scott) about luggage. A rucksack was mentioned in the section on soft luggage. That made me think... I built a simple, fairly removable rack on my bike with the intention of mouning some sort of boxes. After reading parts of this book, I decided against it. I wanted soft. Soft on a budget.

While at a store Friday, I see two red and white backpacks. Perfect! After my bike's cleaning and tightening session, I started experimenting with how I could fit what I wanted on my little bike. Let's just say that I now have a great set of $20 saddle bags! They may not last much longer than my ride, but that's OK. Pictures tomorrow! I need to sleep. :-)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

T-Minus 23 Days and Counting

How does everyone feel about flexible trip plans? I love them!

On this trip, I plan on visiting my Mom and family in Illinois. I plan on visiting several friends in North Carolina. I hope to visit a friend in Louisiana. BUT, I am keeping everything flexible. That flexibility is paying off a bit.

I was chatting with an old friend out east who would like to spend an afternoon chatting and visiting. No Problem. I will just change part of my return trip. As long as I drag my butt into work on October 20, I am OK. In this entire trip, that is the only thing that is written in stone; my return date.

So, as my bike sits on the back patio, looking lonely and forlorn, I await the delivery of a new set of friction plates for the clutch and font brake pads. Yes, she looks sad, but when I am done, she should be ready for an easy 6,000 miles!