Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Winding down.

Friday turned out to be one of the last nice days. By that I mean a day with not a cloud in the sky and temperatures around 77 degrees (f). The long term weather forecast is calling for temperatures back into the sixties. The good news is that there's more dry weather than wet predicted for the rest of October. Clouds are staking their claim on at least half the skies right now. I taught this weekend and got absolutely soaked on Sunday. At least it tried, but my Darien jacket and pants kept me cozy. Nothing gets through that Darien jacket and liner.

With the clear skies came cold nights. Last week the mercury dipped into the mid-30's during the dark times. The cold lasts until about 2 PM. There's a brief period of warm and then the sun starts to go down. I like cold, crisp weather. I just miss my pants right now. The Roadcrafter pants are on their way back from Aerostich and should be here by Thursday. Hours on the road had taken their toll. A zipper was broken, some hook-and-loop was getting worn, a snap was pulled out, there was a hole in one pocket liner, and some stitching was getting stretched. It was time to send the pants home for a rejuvenating visit. Interestingly, the repairs only totalled $70.00. How can you go wrong with gear like this? It's a little more expensive up front but lasts forever. I'm truly convinced that Andy makes some of the best gear in the world.

Being without the Roadcrafter pants made me pull out the Dariens. These are just as tough as the Roadcrafters but there's a huge difference in the insulating factor. The first morning I took off with the Dariens I thought I was going to freeze my Royal Rastafarian nay-nays off! I think the onset of the cold weather has stopped the flow of bike commuters, too. There's a sudden drop in how many bikes I see. Oh sure, they're out there on the sunny afternoons! Where are they when it's cold and dark?

Friday brought the prospect of visiting distributors. Taking the bike sort of makes for different conversation material. As in, "Are you crazy?" Like the revered Mr. Honda claimed, "If you've never experienced it, I can't explain it. If you have experienced it, no explanation is required."

During the summer I posted a picture of this motorcycle-only parking area. It was full of bikes. Now there were three. This was taken about 1:45 PM so it should have been between lunches and going home. Quite the difference, isn't it?

When I pass through Salem I travel this street fairly often. It's a major North-South artery. This BMW is usually parked there. I know it's not good to perpetuate stereotypes. On the other hand, you'd expect a Beemer rider to be more hardy, wouldn't you? We'll see what Winter brings.

Speaking of the "judge a book by its cover" thing, I've seen a sudden increase lately in the number of 1980's vintage standard bikes like the Suzuki GS series. It's amazing how many have milk crates strapped to the passenger seat. I think it's pretty fair to say that these are being used a lot more for utility than sport. If gas prices keep rising, it will be interesting to see how many more of these type of bikes show up next summer.

In the vein of gas savings, it seems like everywhere I look I see these scooters.

They're a little Honda. Most have some sort of box on the back. Maybe I never really paid attention before, I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm looking with more interest at scooters these days. Either way, suddenly there's all these little white ones all over the place. This is a close-up of the parking spot in the earlier photo. I didn't do it on purpose when I took the picture, but it sure shows a contrast, doesn't it? The small scooter and the touring bike. That's a Suzuki Cavalcade behind the scooter. The Suzuki's got to have a few years on it since I think they went out of production a long time ago.

Farther downtown I stopped to visit with one of my old bikes. I've had two Honda Pacific Coast motorcycles. The first one was a 1996. I was actully working my way up to something else when I got the first one.

This was the first brand new bike I ever bought. I paid cash so I didn't have to finance it. I had ridden one when they first came out in 1989, I think it was. The bikes were a sort of pearl white. I remember taking the demo model for a ride. The bike and I are waiting at a stop light. Two young gals, somewhere in the 16 to 18 year old range, were crossing in front of me. They both slowed to look more closely at the bike. One of them said "Rad bike, man!"

Yes, these bikes were different, for sure. I actually came to appreciate how versatile and capable this bike really was. The motor was from the Shadow 750 but slightly tweaked for a little more displacement. The valves were hydraulic so no adjustments were ever supposed to be needed. Storage space is underneath the seat. When you trip the release the whole back end of the seat and the top of the things that look like saddlebags come up. Just like a car trunk. That got sort of inconvenient after a while if you had a bag strapped to the passenger seat. I never really got fond of the brake rotor covers on the front, either.

Anyway, I had the bike a couple of years and put 26,000 miles on it. For whatever reason, the guy who owns it now wanted one badly. He made me an offer I couldn't refuse. So I sold it to him. He still works at the local paper. Since 1998 the bike has only had another 10,000 miles on it. Sometimes the wanting is better than the having, isn't it?

I took the money and bought a 1998 model. It was the same color but no longer had the rotor covers. In 2001 I sold this one to a doctor from Greenland for the same price I paid for it. Not bad for having gotten 38,000 miles out of it. My boys always gave me a bad time about the PC being a scooter on steroids. From the back it kind of looked like it. They also work as snowmobiles but that's a story for another day!

Also in front of the paper office were these two bikes. The front one is a fairly new looking Harley. Behind it is a bike that looks like a Goldwing. It's not, but it is a 'Wing. Well, sort of. Honda made a bike called a Silverwing. While that model is a scooter today, in the 80's it was a 500cc bike. The idea seemed to be to make a half-sized Goldwing. I had one for a while and really liked how smooth it was. The bike in the picture shares the same motor but is a CX500. More of a standard type of bike. This one has a frame mounted fairing with a sissy-bar / luggage rack set-up. At the risk of coming back to stereotypes, one sure looks more like the serious commuter, doesn't it?

All this looking at bikes and taking pictures made me hungry so I went for a sandwich at the other end of the block. This place has sort of a creepy past. It used to be a funeral home and mortuary. I've even been to a funeral there! Now it's a hacked together coffee house and bar.

I tried to ask about the name. It would be interesting to know if this was some sort of joke on the origin of the place. Are we supposed to think of "Ice Box" to remind us of bodies in cold storage?

I actually did pose the question. All I got in return was an unintelligible grunt. Maybe it was coincidence. Maybe it was the planned theme for the place. The only two people working seemed to be the cook and the waitress. I never saw the cook. Sounds coming from behind the scenes told me somebody was back there. The waitress looked like she was from some sort of horror flick. There's a name for that style, I've heard. What do they call it, "goth" or something? I call it just plain ass weird and morbid. Her face was deathly pale. There was black and heavy eye liner that made her look like a cross between a beating victim and Cleopatra. Her hair was shoe-polish black. Black was also the color scheme of her clothes. A leather vest bore what looked like ten pounds of metal rings and chains. Her stockings were ripped to the point that it was a wonder they even stayed up. At least I could identify with her boots. They looked like something a biker would wear. I tried to count the piercings I could see. I lost count. In contrast to the abundant piercings, she had absolutely no personality. I was surprised she could write to take my order.

It was tempting to just leave. I admit I did look around for the little certificates that the Health Department leaves after an inspection. There was one there dated recently that said the restaurant passed with no violations. It must have been food prep violations the certificates were talking about. Several good taste violations were certainly happening!

The only real rise I got out of the girl was when I pulled the camera out to take some pictures of the inside of the place. She loudly protested for reasons unkown and un-stated. Having not been served my sandwich yet, and leery of sandwich sabotage, I put the camera away. All's well that ended well. My sandwich was more than palatable. As of today I haven't gotten sick. The coffee was really good. On top of that, it was an adventure. What the heck, huh?

So that was my Friday. Being on a bike just seems to bring adventure and interesting things my way. That's one of the things I love about commuting on a bike. I'm a part of the world around me, not just an observer. Being liberated from the "cage" puts me in the mood to explore. People who don't cringe and run off scared come up to talk to me. Kids always wave. How cool is that? I'm enjoying these last nice days. Pretty soon it will be cold and wet. Not to mention lonelier as I see fewer bikes. Only the hardcore will be left as another season winds down. That's ok. Let the Winter adventures begin!

Miles and smiles,


Anonymous said...

I remember the CX500, shaft drive, v-twin, as I recall. They were very popular in the courier trade, too, which defines the absolute epitome of reliable commuter bike.

Contemporary of the CB400A, as well.
Still have the CB400A as a daily rider, I'm wondering how long it will hold up...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the CX500 is a tranverse V-twin. Katie had one until this spring. Is the CB400A the automatic? I always get students who want automatic motorcycles.


Anonymous said...

Yes, the CB400A is the Automatic, or more appropriately a semi-auto, in that it does not shift itself. You can go from a dead stop in second fear up to its max speed ~86mph.

I suppose it would help to teach students, without the manual shifting skills, to ride.

I'd like to see a modern version of the same bike, water cooled, a bit more hp, a standard naked bike, maybe a 500cc machine. Sell it as a training machine with dual disks on the front and a disk at the rear, that beginners could use and more mature riders can enjoy for a long term daily rider.

I really enjoy it for the amount of road grip and such. I'd like to try it with some real grippy tires, maybe michelin pilot powers or bridgestone bt-45 battelaxes, and a more adjustable suspension.

Steve Williams said...

Dan: Reading about your gear repair has prompted me to do something about my Tourmaster pants. They've leaked through the seat since I got them though they are supposed to be waterproof. I checked with NewEnough.com about this and whether I am supposed to wax them or something and they said no. Now I need to ask them if I should expect them to be waterproof and if so who do I see about a replacement. It was raining so hard last night that I figured I would be using my sailing gear this morning just to make sure I didn't look like I pissed myself when I got to work.

Right now the rain has stopped so I should be in good shape.

A funeral home and coffee shop. That's enough to mess up your karma. I try and stay away from places like that. There is a county jail not far from here that is now a restaurant. Seems like bad energy to me.

Less bikes lonelier? I think not. I see less as a better opportunity to be alone. I like riding alone.