Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Scooter Adventure?

Yesterday, 1/25/10, the weather was beautiful and I had been itching to do a long scooter ride. A week or so earlier I had plotted a 200 mile loop, (shaped more like a lollipop on a stick actually) as one of my preparation rides for doing my Iron Butt ride in March. Since I will have to average 50 mph to finish the Iron Butt in 20 hours, I decided I would time the entire ride, gas stops and all, so I could calculate a realistic average speed.

So, it was with a light heart, Google map in my pocket, extra fuel in the pet carrier and a smile on my face, that I set out on my ride. The sun was shining. Snow capped mountains could be seen on virtually every horizon. The photo above is of the north side of the Santa Catalina mountains as seen from Park Link Road, northwest of Tucson.
I normally have a range of about 110 miles or so on the Buddy. It was with a slight bit of concern that I noticed that my gas gauge was decreasing at a rate which seemed faster than usual. Now, when people in most states say that something happened "in the middle of Nowhere" they are saying it would be inconvenient to get help but realistically they are probably less than 5 miles from some form of human habitation. In Arizona, and few other states, when you're "in the middle of Nowhere," you could easily be 20 or 30 miles from help. So, about 10 miles after my gas gauge pegged on empty, I pulled over to the side of the road and poured in my "reserve" fuel, about 600 or 700ml from a little bottle that I have carried, but never used. By my calculations, I estimated that I was about 15 miles from Coolidge, AZ. I have estimated that this extra fuel will get me about 20 miles.
I ran out of gas about 10 miles later. I was in farm country and there was plenty of room to pull off to the side of the road. "Well" I thought to myself, "at least people on farms should have gas powered things around. How hard can it be to walk up to a house and get some gas?" There were four houses within a quarter mile of the intersection where the Buddy died. (Remember my earlier post about the silence after your scooter dies? I was feeling it here.)
House #1 - Big fence with big, aggressive looking and sounding dogs inside. I'll pass.
House #2 - No answer either at the house, or on the shop doors. Five or six pick-up trucks in the driveway, but no dice.
House #3 - Two teenaged girls at home. "I need to call my mom." says one after I ask about getting a bit of gas. Mom apparently says okay, directs daughter to where the gas is and "Mom says you should check and make sure there's no water in it." The 1 gallon container has about a quart of liquid in it that smells ever so faintly of some unidentifiable petroleum product. I thank the young lady for her attempt but decide to walk on. At this point, walking was beginning to be a bit painful, as I had surgery on both feet approximately 12 days previously.
House #4 - Has a sign out front about roping teams and a quad is visible in the garage. Ah, good sign. The sounds of banging metal are emanating from the workshop, so I limp over (still in good spirits, I might add) to see about some fuel. After requiring assurance that I would bring back his gas can, the man working in the shop agreed to let me have as much gas as I needed.

The gas was in a full, 5 gallon, steel can. I lugged it back to the intersection. Just as I removed the gas cap and began spilling gas all over (there was a little bit of a breeze and I had no funnel), the owner of the gas can pulled up in his truck. "I was going to bring you a funnel, but I don't have one, but I thought I might help, anyway." I couldn't help but think to myself, "I wish you would've thought of that BEFORE I lugged 50 pounds of gas and gas can all the way back to my scooter!" but I kept my mouth shut.

"At least I can block the wind for you." An excellent observation on his part, since gas was sloshing down both sides of the scooter. So he promptly began shielding the stream of gas from the wind WITH THE HAND WHICH HELD THE LIT CIGARETTE! "Maybe it would be better if you did that with the other hand." I suggested.

"Oh! Right!" he quickly changed hands and, explosion averted, I quickly splashed about a quart of gas into my tank, thanked him sincerely, and headed into Coolidge, which, the man assured me, was less than 5 miles away. At this point, I know that my original plan of timing the whole ride is kaput, so now I'm just out to enjoy the rest of the ride.

I happily filled my tank and rode west out of Coolidge on 87, turned southwest onto 387 and made my way toward Casa Grande. Went over a beautiful mountain pass and headed toward
I-10 and into Casa Grande. I stopped for a snack and some hydration and headed south.

It is shortly after I turn east, going toward Arizona City, that I begin to notice that my scooter isn't making the same sound it usually does. It is hard to diagnose what the difference was. I pulled over and revved the motor once or twice. "Maybe it's just me" I think. After all, the wind had been whistling past my helmet for about 3 hours at this point. There are no services in Arizona City, I continue on toward Eloy.

Not wanting to run out of gas again, I decide to stop for fuel in Eloy and to better examine the scoot. It is here, that I realize that the bolts on the rear bracket for exhaust has sheared off and my beautiful Prima pipe is being held on only by the two bolts on the manifold. The pipe is moving a LOT.

I looked through what few tools etc I had with me. I just needed something to hold the pipe up so that it wouldn't bounce around and break off at the manifold. "Aha!" I found a bungee cord, fit it to the end of the pipe, up around the rear rack and viola'. I topped off with fuel and headed toward Picacho. From there, it would only be about 40 miles home then I could go about repairing my beloved scooter.

But it was not to be. As I rode down the not so smooth road toward Picacho, the sound of my scooter's exhaust continued to change. I realized it was working its way loose from the motor end of the exhaust as well, in spite of my bungee efforts. I slow down and watch vigilantly for bups and potholes. Spotting them isn't a problem, after all, this is an old, seldom used stretch of I-10 access road. Dodging them is a problem. Determined to limp home, I press on.
It is at the Picacho Peak (Picacho Peak itself is in the background of the above photo.) gas station and curio shop, that I realize more additions to my Eloy repairs must be done. I kept having visions of the front of the pipe dropping off the bike, hitting it with the rear tire, then flying through the air as the scooter suddenly stars going end over end.

I asked at Bowlin's Running Indian (one of a chain of curio shops) if they have any kind of wire with which I can secure the front end of the pipe to.... to.... something. The nice lady says they have nothing like that, but refers me to the tow shop on the other side of the interstate and up the long and, as it turns out, extremely bumpy road. It is on that road where the pipe pulls completely away from the motor and was kept from falling to the ground (and under my rear tire) by the center stand. God bless center stands.

The fellow at the tow shop assures me that they have no wire (What?!) but I could have a couple of clothes hangars. You can see the hangar modification near the bottom of the 3rd picture in this lengthy post. I secure the pipe as best I could, then called my wife to let her know that I would be babying the scooter home.

I rode the now extremely loud scooter down the hill and back past Bowlin's. Then I pulled off to the side of the road where I decide to call one of my scooter buddies. I still don't know that much about scooter power plants and I wanted to check and see if I was going to be buying a new motor if I continued riding home. John assured me that a.) I probably end up needing a new motor if I continued and b.) I probably wouldn't make it home because the motor would likely be destroyed somewhere between Picacho and Tucson. He offered to come and retrieve me. Not wanting to be a pain in the butt, I declined his generous offer and, instead, called my son and had him come and get his unfortunate old man.

I had been planning on getting a trailer hitch installed so that I could then purchase a Versa-Haul for events such as this. I learn yesterday that won't be necessary. Once the two seats are removed from the back of my Dodge Caravan, there is sufficient space and these beautiful tie down location in the floor where the seats attach.

It was an unfortunate series of events, but through it all, I still had a good time. After all, are you a true scooter freak if you've never had to hauled back home after your scooter conked out somewhere?

Ride on,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moral Dilema

Have you ever gotten a consumable gift for Christmas/birthday etc, that you liked so much that you had a hard time deciding when or if you were going to eat it or use it? For Christmas of 2008, my wife found Root Beer Fizzies. They are one of those childhood memories of mine. Maybe you had them, too.

Above, is my box of Root Beer Fizzies. I really want to plop a tablet or two into a gladd of water and drink up that sweet, fizzy goodness. However, at the same time, I don't want to, because then, .... then they will be gone. Unfortunately, at this point, I may have waited so long, that the Fizzies are no longer any good, bummer. What does this have to do with scooters?
As seen above, the other night on my way home from work, I turned over 5000 miles on Stella. I'll be hitting 15,000 miles on the Buddy, soon, as well. Occasionally, while I'm riding, I think about the fact that I am "consuming" my scooters. They will only last a certain number of miles, then, sadly, they will need to be replaced.

I love my scooters and the thought of being without either of them saddens me. At the same time, though, I WANT TO RIDE! I want to ride every day. I can't wait to Ride the Iron Butt ride. I love it. It's a bizarre combinations of feelings. The desire to ride vs the desire to conserve my scooters so that I have them around to ride.

I am encouraged by "Bonegirl" a Modern Buddy member. She now has approximately 40,000 miles on her Buddy 125. I am also blessed by being in a position in my life where I can afford to buy my scooters. If the Buddy disintegrates during my 1000 mile Iron Butt ride in March, I won't have to wait too long before I can buy another.

But it won't be the same.

Ride on,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Book Stuff

Well, I had surgery on both feet last week in an attempt to remedy the chronic plantar fasciitis which I've had for many years,The upside (other than curing my foot pain) was that I would have time to catch up on some reading and other quiet activities and that I would have time to get out and put in some serious scootering. (More on that later.)

It took me only a couple of days to finish "I See by My Outfit." I'm not going to write an extensive review, but it was good. As I mentioned before, the book is not so much about the scooters, but they do play important roles, heck, they even have names: "Jenny" and "Couchette" I think the book is a good read for those into their scooters.
The photo above is a Heinkel Scooter, like Jenny in the book.

In my last post, I mentioned a passage and before I quit talking about this book and move to the next, I'd like to mention another. As our Hero is riding along, "Jenny" dies on him. I don't know if you've ever had your scooter ever die unexpectedly, but I found what he says about the experience to be particularly true. Check it out: "The silence of an engine that has just cut out under you is one of the most chilling quietnesses I know. Drive a scooter for even a little while, and she becomes strangely yourself, yourself grown swift and powerful and untiring In turn, you feel what she feels - a quirk in the wind,a difference in the road surface, the ride or fall of the land - and her sounds become like the noises of your own body, her vulnerability becomes your own."
A "chilling quietness." I really like that description. I've coasted to a stop before, usually wondering if my scooter is okay, long before I worry about how I will get home or to work.

Another book that I got for Christmas (also from my wife) at first may seem to have nothing to do with scooters. Some people will see the connection right away, however. My wife saw that it fits my quirky personality. It's called "The Complete Blokes & Sheds - Behind the corrugated-iron curtains of Australia's sheds." My wife immediately got it for me because I love barns, pictures of barns, stories of barns, etc, etc. However, I love to tinker on my scooter and I'm beginning to rack up some extra parts and tools which are scooter related. After reading stories and seeing photos of blokes and their sheds, I'm ready to get one of my own.

I found the photo above on a Google image search for "Australia" and "shed." I also happens to be a picture from the book. The book talks a lot about the relationship between a man and his shed. Here is an excerpt from a section called "In Praise of Disorder." "The shed is an outbreak of dirt and chaos in what is otherwise a serenely ordered world.... there's a powerful need for a safety valve that allows the pressure of organisation, appearances and expectation to be released."

Here the part I like the best. "It the potential of what can happen in a shed that really matters, not what actually takes place." One of the author's opinions is that while many women have a place like this where they can retreat to in order to create, think or retreat like a sewing or craft room, many men have no such place. This, then, is where the shed comes in.

I grew up on a farm, where we had the "shop." In it, my grandfather used the welder, torch and wondrous tools of his own fabrication to repair farm implements, fashion toys or even to make more tools that were needed for a specific task. As I sit here, I can smell the melange or oil, arc welder smoke and wet earth that existed in the shop.
I do not possess the knowledge or skills of my grandfather, but I think I would like someplace to work on my scooters besides the driveway. A while back, a fellow on Modern Buddy put up one of those 10'X12' Tuff Sheds and then finished it with scooters in mind. One view of it is pictured above. (See the entire post at: http://www.modernbuddy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11262&highlight=garage )

So, now I'm pondering the possibility of adding a shed to my scooter collection.

I mentioned earlier, that while I was off on sick leave for 2 weeks I had
planned on doing some serious scootering (Yes, I know I supposed to
be resting with my feet up, but riding is restful, right?) At any rate, by
the time I'm feeling good enough to go out and ride for several hours
at a time, we are now in the midst of a huge, multi-day winter storm.
I know this is the desert and we need all the rain we can get, but at the
same time I'm on leave and free to ride to my heart's content???
Give me a break.
Ride on,

ps - What is up with the formatting on this thing? Look at the previous paragraph.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Scooters and Your Senses

My amazing wife got me scooter gifts for me for Christmas. (Not a surprise, I guess, since I spend a lot of my time on scooter related things.) One of which is a book entitled "I See by My Outfit - A Cross-Country Adventure" by Peter S. Beagle. It was originally published in 1964, so a couple of things are dated, but it's still good, so far. I haven't finished it, yet.
So, it's about two Jewish friends ride scooters (one of which is a 150cc Heinkel) from New York to San Francisco. It's not so much about scooters as it is about friendship and adventure, but I have read a couple of things that I noted to be true in my own scootering life.
One, from page 14, is this: "I had forgotten through the long winter how good it is to be driving a scooter on a warm day. You become painfully aware of how much there is in the world to be smelled, tasted, listened to, looked at, touched and comprehended before you die - a lifetime in every blink of the eye - and you find yourself twisting the throttle until she surges under you like a river, wanting to get to it all, all at once."

I noticed, early on, how much more aware of my environment I was on the scooter. I had to give up the A/C, heating and stereo, in my cage (car, for you non-2 wheeled riders out there) but what I gained was well worth the losses. I now go places that I could easily go in my car, but I didn't see any reason to. Steep hills on dirt roads are no challenge in a car, but there is a priceless sense of accomplishment when doing things on my scooter, that go beyond just the beautiful scenery.
Yes, I can see mountain views from my car. Have you ever rolled you window down as you were driving past a beautiful view, because you wanted to see it without the glass between you and it?Me, too. My scooters allow me to get that kind of view all the time. Everywhere I turn I get an unfiltered look at my surroundings. Not to mention that I get to hear what's going on around me.
Even with your car window down, you don't usually get to hear birds singing or children laughing in a park.
Another joy of scootering is the smells. Coffee shops, donut shops, barbeque restaurants are all sheer joys to ride by. Ahh, Olive Garden. If my eyes were closed (which I don't recommend while in motion) I feel like I could tell where I am on my way to work, just by the odors. One thing I don't care for is driving behind someone who is smoking.

I started a forum entry a while back encouraging everyone to post about their favorite smells as they were riding. There were some fun responses. I hope that some people began to use their sense more as they ride. Riding definitely puts a smile on my face.

Ride on,

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Like most people, I'm sure, I make goals for myself, my family, my job, my hobbies etc, as I go along. Also, like most people, the beginning of a new year makes me reflect a little more than usual about goals (aka resolutions) that I'd like to make for this newly started year.
One goal I had for most of last year was to start a personal, scooter related blog. Check! It took til, uh, the 9th of November, but I got this thing going. I'm still not real happy with it, but my first resolution is not only to post regularly, but to improve quality.
So, now it's 2010 and I now have two blogs. One of the member of our scooter club, the Sky Island Riders (SIR's), gave me a new website with blog for Christmas. There is also a very nice bulletin board as well.
Goal #2 - To keep both blogs rolling. Specifically, I want the SIR's blog to be useful and to be a"force multiplier" for the overall website. You can check it out here:
Goal #3 - I want to make more off road rides through non-scooter terrain.

The picture above is taken on the fire road (4wd only) on the north side of Mt Lemmon. I did this ride in August of last year. I am hoping to ride through Reddington Pass and also I want to ride the Florence/Kelvin "Highway." Per haps ride out to another ghost town or two.

Goal #4 - I am hoping that our Mayday Rally will be successful, although I'm not sure how I want to define its "success" yet. Above is a photo taken at the Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta in Gilbert in October. This was the metro-Phoenix club's first attempt at a rally and it was very good. Look at that turnout!

Goal #5 - I am planning on riding an Iron Butt ride. Known as a "Butt Burner" one must ride 1000 miles in less than 24 hours. Iron Butt is an organization that promotes endurance riding. The Butt Burner is their shortest qualifying ride. a thousand miles is tiring, but simple on a motorcycle. After all, with a 75 mph speed limit, it would take less than 14 hours to ride a thousand miles. However, on a 150cc scooter, this a much more difficult. If I can average 50 mph, it will take 20 hours of continuous riding. I'm looking forward to it, but will have to wait til March or April so that weather condition will be friendlier. I'll keep you post.

Have a prosperous, healthy, happy, productive 2010.
Ride on,