Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Challenge accepted and met.

I'm sure everyone who reads my blog also reads Scooter in the Sticks by Steve Williams. Over the years Steve has maintained an awesome blog of his own. I've learned a lot from Steve about how to be a more complete person in a number of ways. There was a post, however, where I felt a different sort of vibe.

As you may be aware, Steve has brought home the family Christmas tree on the back of the Vespa for a while. This year that task wasn't possible since his faithful scoot was in the shop and waiting for a master cylinder transplant. You know me and my mouth. I wrote in the comment section that I really didn't see how this was an issue. My suggestion was to put the scooter in the back of his truck, strap the tree to the scooter, and go for it. The rubber of the Vespa's tires wouldn't actually make contact with the road, I wrote. Despite that, I was sure I spoke for all of us when I said it would count this year since the bike was out of order. We knew Steve would have hauled the tree had the Vespa been functioning properly.

At this point, you might want to go read the post. Be sure to read the comment section. Click here to go to the post and then it will make more sense when you come back.

Here's the comment I made on Steve's post:

Bummer on the scoot. Why do you give up so easily? Nothing says the scooter has to actually be in contact with the road does it?Ford Ranger, I believe? Vespa in truck. Tree on Vespa. You could even have the scooter running.Holiday cheer and holiday fun can take many forms. Ordinarily I'd encourage you to think outside the box. This time I tell you to think inside the box. Pickup box!Yes, I think I'm funny. Then again, I've always enjoyed being "different". Our club could use one more like us!

P.S. That was a challenge. Imagine the smug satisfaction and photographic possibilities!

Steve declined my challenge. He didn't want to remove the cap from his truck and decided to let that gauntlet lay. Ok, end of the matter.

Except, in the meantime, cpa3485 had left a comment:

Here's to hoping you are back up and running soon. We had snow here in Kansas this week and gaven' been able to ride since last Saturday. But I got the trusty steed out today for about 20 minutes only, just to make sure the battery stays charged up. It was still icy in some spots, so had to be careful. Sure was fun and I have really missed not riding this week. I believe Irondad has all the solutions to your tree transporting problems.

Here's Steve's reply to cpa3485. It's the crux of this blog post.

cpa3485: Be careful on those partially clear roads. It's easy to get up some speed only to find something approaching on the road surface that is going to create problems.Irondad always has ideas. I think I'll wait until I see a tree on the back of Elvira....

That last sentence brings me to the key, here. I don't know about you but that certainly sounds like a challenge to me! Maybe it's just my Warrior attitude. Perhaps it's my ego. Call it what you want. So one recent night while Katie slept quietly beside me, I was awake and thinking. Here's the result. Remember, the idea was to meet the challenge, not win a photography contest. This was Katie's first time with the Nikon. Yes, I drug her into it. I think she enjoyed it even though she shook her head at the insanity of it all. I'm also going to be the subject of supper conversations among the neighbors for a while. I'm sure this wasn't something they've seen often! When I finally got things put together, I didn't want to wait until tomorrow. We were running out of daylight. It also never crossed my mind that my tree would be less conspicuous against a backdrop of the neighbor's greenery. Duh! Anyway, there's enough here to prove my point.

It was a big tree and had already been put up for Christmas. There was still room for the rider. Barely. Here's another shot.

Ok. That satisfies the heart of the challenge. No, it wasn't Elvira. It was a bona fide sport touring everyday ride sort of motorcycle. Same kind of bike, different model. That should satisfy the requirement. Sophie's been feeling a little left out lately. I knew she would really appreciate participating in this venture with me. Her and I still have a long history together of doing things above and beyond the ordinary. Steve, you've officially seen a tree on the back of Sophie!

I've never been one to do things halfway. There's that stinkin' Warrior attitude again. I don't merely attack. I conquer. There's never any doubt who the Master is. So, I thought, how do we take this to the next level?

With the help of some 3/4" plywood, a 6" lag screw, a couple of small "L" brackets, a few pieces of 1 X 4 lumber, and some clamps, I had my answer. Here is the result.

Anybody can strap a tree to the back of a bike. How about having the tree stand upright? These pictures were taken first so the light's a little better. I wanted to tackle the hardest part and get it out of the way. That's my 19 years and 8 months old cat under the back of the truck, by the way. You can't see it, but she's shaking her head, too. The cat has joined Katie in the head shaking thing. Katie's asking questions like "What if the tree comes loose, hits you, and makes you crash the bike? What are you going to tell the insurance company? How will you sell the bike if you drop it and damage it?"

You see, it's not enough to have the tree upright. It doesn't count unless you can ride it, right?

You can see the exhaust from the pipes. The bike's running and we're riding. I have to admit, it handled pretty strangely. Took a bit to get used to it. Imagine having a tall passenger standing on the foot pegs and leaning into the turns. I made several passes so that Katie could get several shots we could choose from. The tree stayed put but the tight U-turns in the middle of the street were quite interesting! Hey, I'm a professional rider and quickly got the hang of it. No damage to the bike. Just a whole bunch of pine needles to clean up!

It's been a fun little project. I'm pretty sure I'll do it again next year. There's got to be some 12 volt lights available!

Miles and smiles,



Stacy said...

I'm pretty sure any one of those pictures would make it into the next Aerostich catalog...

Jus' sayin!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you just leave me speechless...I think Katie must be the most understanding woman on earth - otherwise she would just have you committed :)

-Tim said...

It is official...you are nuts...

Learning to Golf said...

I celebrate your ability to 'rise' to any challenge Irondad. Who else would have thought to have a standing tree?

My compliments on a job well done.

Anonymous said...

You can proudly say that you have accomplished a feat that 99.9% of the population has not, of whom less than 1% have even fathomed. Congratulations Irondad, Grandpa Len would be proud! Mom and the cat are only shaking their heads 'cause they didn't think of it first:) I wish you luck with your next ingenious adventure.

Anonymous said...

Yeah congratulations!!

Freedom of expression is priceless ... ;-)

However .. how much of a role does bordom play?


Allen Madding said...

I'm speechless (stop the presses)


Anonymous said...

Too funny :)

cpa3485 said...

Having somewhat unwittingly become a small part of this challenge, I feel a post is necessary. I postulate that the possible reason you did this so early in the morning is so that the neighbors would not see this incredible display. However, it does not take anything away from your wonderful accomplishment. I am very impressed. I hope it brings more than a couple of laughs to Steve and all the other readers. After all, If you cannot live at life in general, what do we really have.

irondad said...

Thanks. That would be so cool! Maybe I should send a couple pics to Andy. Once in a great while he cruises through here as this blog is listed on the Ride to Work blog site.

Totally agree. How I got so lucky to have a partner like Katie is beyond me.

I knew it all along. I'm glad it's now "official"!

Arizona Harley Dude,
Is the fact that I thought of it a good thing or a sick thing? Thanks for the support either way.

Written like a son should speak about his father! Weirdly enough, I felt like Grandpa Len when I was doing it. It would be right up his alley. So now I'm a 1 percenter, huh? Maybe there's a good reason nobody else much has tried this kind of thing!

It's interesting that you did the post on the statue artist at the same time I was doing this. It fits, doesn't it? I can see how boredom could be behind something like this. In my case, it wasn't boredom, just a spark of insanity.

I feel your pain. Sometimes there are just no words to describe something.

Thanks. I crack myself up sometimes. I hope everyone else found it humorous, as well.

A saner person would have done this in the early morning. We happened to be at the other end of the day, near sunset. You can just see the neighbor coming out of his house in one of the pictures. There were several gathered in the next block looking at a house for sale. The guy two doors down was coming home and checking his mail. So I'm pretty sure we were being watched!

I have to admit that I was pretty pleased it came together!

Take care,


Unknown said...

I'm still shaking my head along with your cat and Katie, but still you triumphed doing something that no one else with a sane mind would do.

fasthair said...

IronDad: I was just shaking my head about the time I read about the lovely wife and cat both shaking their heads. Dude there is something just not right in your head! I’ve carried a lot of things on my bikes over the years including a set of crutches and a six foot step ladder. And no the former isn’t the result of the latter (pun intended) but I do believe you have one upped me with this stunt.

/me walks away still shaking his head…


redlegsrides said...

hmmm, why did the first thought that came to mind was that you might be violating the "load triangle" limits when carrying stuff on a motorcycle?

Outstanding pics! How fast did you get going with the tree upright?


Bryce said...

All this talk of mobile Christmas type trees means somebody is going way out on a limb. It is quite obvious though, that somebody also understands the relationship between a conifer and a firrin motorcycle. This must be the first time anybody anywhere has been challenged to out perform a Wasp being used a transportation device. I wonder if the holder for the tree was constructed of fir plywood or from another unrelated substance?

Ironman has decided if he can establish a tree nursery on the back of a motorcycle then anybody with a modicom of sensibility can do so likewise in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Understandable though that anybody who gets needled in the process would be considered a sap if he or she did not try to do so likewise.

Methinks Katie may well be the official photographer of this particular blog. It is obvious she does known how to pick her target subject, even if he is trying to hide behind a piece of vertical foliage!


Allen Madding said...

"we demand...a shrubbery!" - Monty Python's Holy Grail


Lucky said...


Next time, you gotta wear a santa suit. Just sayin'.

Doug C said...

Like Lucky said, a Santa 'Stitch suit on the rider and a power invertor for the lights!

Conchscooter said...

I guess someone's idea of a christmas tree is an undecorated pine tree. That's just taking a pine tree for a ride. They were doing that on Triumphs back in 1905so we Triumph riders got bored with that little trick. A decorated christmas tree, now thats a challenge for 2010...

Steve Williams said...

When I started reading this post I was not sure where you were heading and I resisted the urge to scroll to the bottom for the outcome.

As I read I kept trying to remember what I might have written and what sort of dressing down I might get for being to wimpy or reticent. You kept me going and on edge until I saw that cute little tree on back!

Now I was always bringing home six and seven foot trees, but a tree is a tree. You've met the challenge (had I known before Christmas I might have taken the cap off the back and hauled the scooter out).

Nah. I wouldn't. You win. You are out riding and I am trying to stay warm. Just this morning I was inside a huge freezer, one you drive forklifts in, at 35 degrees below zero with big fans blowing 15mph wind. Riding has just not been on my mind. Tomorrow it is supposed to be 1 degree. I'm not sure my Vespa will even start.

I'm the loser...

Great post Dan and congratulations on getting Katie involved and that tree on the back. And thanks for the bit of notoriety!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...

These references to doing something no sane person would do are starting to make me wonder about myself! Even Fasthair said something wasn't quite right in my head. What's that saying?

"My wife says I suffer from insanity. Actually, I enjoy every minute of it!"

As of yet I haven't hauled a six foot stepladder. That seems harder than my tree. I can't wait to try it!

I remember we used to teach that load triangle thing. Good thing I forgot about it when I did this. As to speed, I was up to 30 mph at one point. I didn't want to go out on the main roads with traffic. You might understand why!

Very punny!

Now I have to go find the movie again. My wife remembered that line but I had forgotten it.

I'll do the Santa suit if you do the big clown suit. We'll trade photos. Of course, the challenge will be that neither one of us will know for sure who's actually under the suit!

Doug C,
LIghts for sure next Christmas!

This was a trial run. Wait until next Christmas. By the way, do you have any tips for keeping tinsel from blowing off?

Steve W,
"Cute little tree"? Man, just wait until this coming holiday season!

It pained me to see you describe yourself as "the loser". I never intended this to be a winner vs. loser thing. What I read in your comment was "put up or shut up". This was my version of "put up".

I don't blame you for not riding in that extreme cold. In fact, it proves that you're more sane than I. Hope the deep freeze thaws quickly. Why in the world were you in the big chiller? Is this agriculture related?

Take care,


Ford said...

It is definitely possible to put lights on a 12V vehicle. A youth pastor at our church does it with his jeep. It looks as gaudy as a Philippine taxi.
I can hardly wait to see your rendition.

Balisada said...

And to think that I was worried that I would be a spectacle with a bunch of balloons tied the the back of my motorcycle!


Steve Williams said...

It's hard not to think of being on the losing end of the stick when you can't ride. Riding is a win, not riding is a not win. How about that?

I was in the big freezer making photographs of the special ice cream flavors that were being made to send to the Presidential Inaugural Gala. Obama Whitehouse, BaRocky Road, and BidenBerry. Penn State makes it's own ice cream. You can see the pictures I made HERE.

At least if I can't ride I can walk to the Creamery for ice cream...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks