Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here's your sign!

I was so tempted to make some sort of smart-ass reply to the clerk at Starbucks, followed by "Here's your sign!" Sort of a Bill Engvall in motorcycle gear. I was trying to warm up after a ride and walk in 20 degree weather. Due to how I'd spent the weekend the comment was tackled before it got out of my mouth.

The week leading up to this incident had been interesting. Actually, all my weeks are interesting. Some seem to have a few more unique events than others. Here's a quick rundown.

With the training season starting this coming weekend it seemed time to think about new brakes for Sophie. I've been invited to play during police training again this year. We're scheduled for a few high speed days. There's also quite a few of our advanced training classes at the track on the calendar. Topping that off is a small mistake I made. We were supposed to request classes for the rest of the year. Knowing that the people who do the scheduling use a sort of round-robin method, I requested a lot of classes. My reasoning was that I'd get about half or two thirds of what I asked for. Guess what? For whatever reason they gave me almost all of them. So between classes, police training, and instructor training events, I've got most of my weekends and several Mondays tied up. Since I try to ride to everything maintenance time will be hard to find. Better to get it done now.

By the way, I did manage to keep July open. There's a long bike trip in the works. Hopefully we'll have some good stories to bring home and tell here.

The good news about riding all year is that it's not too hard to get shop time. You can see in the picture that I'm the only one waiting. It had been a 25 mile ride in the rain. Five minutes after the official opening time, nobody seemed to be in a hurry. That's Mark, a good Honda and BMW mechanic, trudging into work. He'd be the one doing the brakes for me. My plate is so full that I'm having to farm the work out. Things would not go totally smoothly this time.

You know how it is when you've spent countless hours and miles in the saddle of the same bike? I've become so familiar with Sophie that I swear I can literally hear and feel each part of her structure. When I rode her home from the shop it felt like the front wheel wasn't quite right. Turns out the right front caliper was causing a little extra drag on the rotor. It wasn't extreme but more than you would normally expect. Feeling the parts revealed some extra heat. She'd have to go back. More on that in a bit. In the meantime, let me tell you that low speed tight turns on a heavy bike are a little more interesting when your front tire doesn't roll quite like you're used to!

My schedule was so packed that there wasn't time to do more than make a quick phone call to the shop. They told me to come by whenever I was ready. It would be a week before I could do so. In the meantime, a cold front hit us. All the rain turned into ice. A trip South was on the agenda. Normally I'd try to ride. Encountering ice on the freeway was a 50/ 50 proposition. There's a constant balancing act going on. Responsible versus Road Warrior. A person can be so careful that they start missing out on the things that make us grow. Not to mention missing out on a lot of mischievous fun! Having problems with the bike made for a default condition. Sophie's the only choice for riding in bad weather and still hauling what I need. I saw a delivery truck on its side and facing the wrong way on the freeway. Maybe being forced to drive was a good thing. Icy weather lasted a few days.

The bad news was that I couldn't ride to the upcoming Leadership Retreat over a long weekend. This was held up the Columbia River Gorge at McMenamins Edgefield. Writing about this would take a post or two all by itself. Briefly, McMenamins buys old historic properties and turns them into lodges. This one covers 38 acres and was used as a poor farm during The Depression. Some 600 people lived and grew food here. Kitchen workers put out 1800 meals a day. One of the buildings was used as a county jail. Rooms are spartan. Lodgers share multi-stall bathrooms and showers. There's probably one bathroom for every 11 rooms. Separate rooms for men and women, of course! It's actually a good place to go and concentrate.

McMenamins is in the brewery business. Hammerhead and Terminator Stout are a couple of my favorites. Interestingly, there are seven bars of different sorts scattered on the grounds. I like the Red Shed. It was literally a tool shed at one time. There's a stove built into one wall with a real wood fire going. Lighting is from candles on the wall. A dozen people would fill the place to crowded. The subdued atmosphere and close quarters break down barriers pretty quickly. Everyone soon becomes friends or leaves. Beer and brandy probably help out, too, I suppose.

Some of the folks from our motorcycle training program were getting together to talk about leadership. We worked on communication skills and helping others in the program reach out for excellence. Ray and Kyle rode up. These are the two that rode with me on that moonlight ride I wrote the post about last Fall. I wasn't able to be the Third Muskateer. That was rough. We wondering about their ride home as it snowed late in the morning. By afternoon it was slightly wet but not freezing, to their great relief.

A funny thing happened when we went home late Sunday afternoon. I followed Kyle and Ray down the freeway. They live in Corvallis which is near my town. The two were on the bikes and I was in the car. Watching them, I must have mentally been on a bike myself. The only other bike we saw was a red BMW heading Northbound. The guys waved at the rider. Suddenly there was clunk on the window next to my head. My wedding ring hit the glass as I waved at the rider! Strange how firmly embedded habits express themselves.

So that brings me to this morning. Since the shop is closed on Monday I had to wait until today. We're under Arctic air. When I left home the mercury was at 20 degrees ( f ). For the first time since last Winter the electric vest went under the 'Stich. A balaclava kept the pretty face from freezing too much. I was actually quite comfortable. We arrived at the shop before they opened. Turns out I should have called ahead.

Mark wasn't coming in. Somewhere over Sunday or Monday he'd hurt his back. The other mechanic wasn't due until later in the day. Rob, who owns the dealership, and his parts manager came to look at the bike. They agreed there was a problem. That was the good part. Not so good was that I'd either have to come back later or leave the bike a while. I decided to leave the bike overnight. A quick call to Katie confirmed that she'd come get me. Bless her heart. Here I call her up and ask her to change her schedule to drive thirty minutes North. She simply requested that I let her finish breakfast and finish getting together after a shower. Fine by me but I didn't want to sit in the shop for an hour and a half. Katie would get her revenge, by the way. She made me go look at flannel sheets with her. While we're in the big city, you know!

I asked Katie to meet me in downtown Salem at a mall's food court. She knew right where to go. I often call that my field office. When I'm in town I can sit and look out the window at a busy intersection while I make phone calls or work on the laptop. Downtown is a half hour walk or so from the Honda shop. No problem, I like to walk and am still in pretty good shape. Not wanting to leave my gear, plus having no other jacket, I kept the 'Stich jacket and pants on. Carrying my helmet in hand, I walked downtown. I froze more in that walk than I did on the ride. My phone rang several times so at least one hand needed to be out in the open. That's how I arrived at Starbucks. In all my gear and holding my helmet.

After I ordered my coffee, the gal at the counter said,

"Do you ride a motorcycle?"

You can see the temptation to say something like,

"No, I'm just taking a coffee break from a poser fashion show! Here's your sign."

Having spent a long weekend immersed in thinking about more noble things, I held my tongue. I politely replied that I rode. She told me her cousin in the Midwest rode a motorcycle. When I asked if it was a male or female cousin she seemed surprised that I'd asked. Her idea was that only guys rode. We had a short conversation about me being an instructor. The girl was surprised but pleased when I told her how many gals came through the classes. Where my smart-ass reply would have closed the conversation right away, being mild opened up her world a little. I did the right thing by following the high road. It feels good but I don't want to make a habit of that sort of thing!

My phone rang this afternoon. Chad at the shop told me Sophie has a caliper pin that's frozen up. He's trying to work things loose. It didn't seem to be a problem before I took the bike in. We'll see. I'm counting on my long term relationship with this shop to make sure I get treated right. Stay tuned.

Miles and smiles,



Conchscooter said...

I promise I am going to be polite and not mean, and join the effort to make the world a better place even though I am a misanthrope. P.S.I'd like to see your thoughts on how to park a two wheeler. I enjoyed the entry about getting things done and parking unobtrusively, but I get annoyed by scooters and motorcycles parked front wheel to the curb in motorcycle dedicated spaces, or parallel to the curb in cage spots. Can you talk about that and perhaps reinforce my prejudice that there is a "proper way" to park a motorcycle? Or tell me I'm an ass.

Anonymous said...

Honda's need maintenance?? *grin*

I've used Gary's "power ranger" reply when people comment on the hi-viz olympia one piece I've been wearing.

About that arctic air, fun stuff eh? I got the display down to 19 the other night on the VFR. I was half expecting the display to tell me I was crazy! God knows everyone else does. -Dan

Bryce said...

Interesting post! Riding in all
types of lousy weather will mess
mechanical sliders on disc brakes real fast, be they motorcycle or
automobile! I had to think -20 in your temperatures, and then thought.
'Mericans aren't Metric, so that's
minus 20 Fahrenheit! Still bloody cold to be riding, anything in the
open air.
As to Starbucks, here in Tim Horton's Country their coffee is akin to road tar.
As to what you're wearing while walking, did it keep the really
cold chill out or did it just try to do so. Think of the cold
electrical lineman working up at the top of the pole in this cold!

Hopefully Sophie is now back in
proper condition. As for you Dan
do you really want to be instructing every weekend
and some Mondays? Hopefully Katie
will maybe understand and when that
long trip where ever comes this summer, take your time; life is
not to be rushed.

Bryce said...

Sorry, my goof thinking minus 20 was
minus 20 below zero Fahrenheit.

Why can't zero freezing be zero 32?

Cause some of the world is Metric
and some is not?

Southern? Ontario this Wednesday night January 23 is about minus
15 Celsius, without the windchill.

Cold enough!

irondad said...

There is definitely a most correct way to park a bike. Not only for style points, but for safety and to better stabilize the bike. Let me get some photos for illustrations and I'll put something together.

Wear and tear items, buddy, wear and tear items. 19 degrees, huh? You're the man. You've probably heard this one but I'll share it anyway.

Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.

It's the riding in nasty weather that caused the caliper to hang up. The caliper both presses the pistons into the discs and pulls the other side. There's a pin on both ends that slides into a pocket. The pin was rusted into the pocket and couldn't pull out very far. These pads were thicker than stock so it amplified the problem. We're back working properly again.

I was wearing the 'Stich for the walk. My body was warm. It was just my face and hands that froze.

Take care,


Krysta in Milwaukee said...

"power ranger"
Do please explain that one, since I've recently been gifted with a 1-piece 'Stich in high-viz (black ballistics).

Best "here's your sign"-type comment so far: "Are you two together?" (As I'm standing next to Karl at a customer service counter... dressed identically in the g'dawful bright suits.)

In general, I try very hard NOT to come back with smart-ass remarks when strangers say stupid things, though some days it takes more control than I have. Friends don't have immunity, but they can get me back later.

As for riding in the cold, we've had a bit over a week of COLD! over here in SE Wisconsin. I was out riding a couple days ago in single-digit (F) temps, though it was only for about 30 min, even with the 'stich.

Sliding the sidecar around a curve is much more interesting than doing the same in a sedan. I felt like a cat... "I meant to do that, really I did."

Steve Williams said...

You'll have to give us all an idea of what the long July ride will be. Especially now in the dead of winter and such things seem so far away.

It's really easy to get shop time here in the winter. Everyone is like the Maytag repairman. Not much to do but set up the new bikes for the spring thaw.

I'm getting sick of the cold and snow and ice. This morning my dog and I could barely get across the driveway after a night of freezing rain. I knew shouldn't have shoveled the driveway. If I had left the snow at least there would have been some traction. The Vespa stayed in the garage. It is a good thing you drove. No need to have Sophie laying on her side facing the wrong way...

Your story about the Starbucks server asking if you ride was good. I hustled through town with all my riding gear and helmet in hand only to get the same question. And every time a smart ass response comes to mind. But like you I smile and politely respond in the affirmative.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...

I'm looking for the post on Gary's blog that has the Power Ranger reference. When I find it I'll post it for you. If anyone else remembers exactly, please feel free to chime in.

I saw on the news that somewhere in your neck of the woods there was a foot or more of snow.

That's a gruesome picture. Sophie on her side facing the wrong way. Shudder!

As to the Starbucks thing, it's easy to feed our own egos at someone else's expense isn't it? Taking the higher ground can be tougher but I can't help but think it really is the better way. Unless they really deserve it, of course!

Take care,


Krysta in Milwaukee said...

"I saw on the news that somewhere in your neck of the woods there was a foot or more of snow."

Probably literally up north in the woods. Or possibly in the SW corner of the state. They've gotten hammered recently.

The weather the last couple days has really been nuts. Yesterday (Tues.) at noon it was 46. 4pm it was 34 & we'd had 2 rounds of heavy rain with hail.

8pm it was 14, and by 11pm it was 4. At least that was 4 above. This morning at 7am it was -4.

We set a record for largest temp. change in 24h. The previous record had stood more than 100 years.

It didn't get into double-digits today (Wed.). 3 of my car doors are frozen shut, and 1 lock won't open. I stayed home.

Tomorrow night (Thurs.) the weather guessers at NOAA are saying something about 6" of snow overnight. sigh I just hope it's light & fluffy.