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.
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,