Monday, December 8, 2014

Winding 'er down...

Let's see, looking back, what's it been like...

Umm, needs TLC plus stuff.

Last year, when leaving here, I had bought, on the spur of the moment, an old Honda Ascot.  It was pretty rough, lots of pieces in cardboard boxes, quite a challenge as it turned out, with the limited workshop at my disposal.

In the final couple of days I did get it running a few seconds at a time, by squirting fuel directly into the spark plug hole.

Much better, bunches of new parts.
I've thought about that bike over the  course of the year and the reason I bought it.  I wanted a bike more comfortable and capable on the freeway system, something I could ride for longer trips than the XT 350 and something light and skinny enough that storage wouldn't pose too great a problem.  Speed wasn't an issue and to be truthful, an EX 500 or even a GS 500 would have been more available and suitable.

My goal this trip was to have the Honda running and ride-able prior to leaving.  My first days were spent in getting the scooter and Yamaha running, a fairly easy task, the XT was running in a single kick and the scooter didn't take much longer.  Groceries followed, man does not live by motorbike alone after all... and there was the usual gearing up for my visit.

Once started on the Honda, I found I needed parts.  A trip to Bobs secured new cables, a few missing goodies and replacements like a rear master cylinder to replace the cracked original.  The big expense was an entire headlight assembly complete with bezel and bulb, something almost impossible to find at Bobs amid the tiers of stuff. Fortunately Bike Bandit had the part (Yayy BB) and I had it installed shortly after unwrapping it.

Here's 3000 words worth of pictures.

The legal stuff like insurance, title transfer and plate were done in a day and as it turns out, I have been able to ride the bike for a total of maybe 200 miles this trip.  By comparison I have put over a thousand miles on the 350 again this year, which may not sound like much for you hard butt types but when you consider that much of my riding is on unimproved dirt 'roads' and desert trails, it adds up.  After all... given that I can now travel at highway speeds to get to and from, my average over the ground speed on most days is under 20 mph.  Yesterday on my test run for the new little Vivitar DVR camera I was on the road for nearly 5 hours and covered only 120 miles.  Camera btw worked very well. more to follow on that.

Also in the mechanical to do file, was installation of a 44 T rear drive sprocket that I had purchased just prior to departure last year, for the 350. With this change I found the gearing almost perfect for what I use the bike for and the Honda, sadly is really redundant.  I will have to decide if she stays or goes next year. 

The Yamaha is now a much better compromise with a cruising speed of 60 mph at a more relaxed 4500 revs and a first gear low enough for all but the most gnarly sections I have ridden.  I find I have to slip the clutch some of the time in deep sand and steep uphills pose a wee bit more of a problem compared to the lower gearing I have been using for a couple of years, but overall a much better bike.  I have yet to install my new set of Kenda 270's, but that will have to wait until next year.

Having dual purpose bikes in my stable both here and at home, allows me to ride on paved roads with reasonable expectations for comfort and still take the interesting cut-off or trail when it shows up.

Gone are the days even in Arizona, where you can just ride wherever you wish, that holdover from the free spirited 60's finally disappeared in 2009 when new off road regulations came into effect.  To get from here to there, requires street legal equipment which albeit loose enough to see lightly modified XR 400's and the like at stop lights, still limits pure dirt bikes to tracts of land designated for such. 

There are several signs up now in places I frequent that state flatly "No OHV use allowed" in other words you must comply with street regulations.

I am especially pleased (are you kidding Frank, you're overjoyed) with having completed the Phx/Wagoner rd/Prescott/Senator highway/Crown King route that I have been salivating over for several years.  That hellish 5 miles across country on what amounts to a line following sand-washes and goat trails sure didn't look imposing but proved to be a challenge out of proportion to its appearance.  Skinny tired bikes do not like sand washes and loose boulders... and the heavy aluminum skid plate took some hits again this time around.

There are many more areas I'd like to chart but I am getting on in years, which certainly brings to mind the question of 'having to work to earn a living' when you could be knocking about doing the really important stuff like living! I've spouted this for decades to whomever would listen...
"do it now!"  You may not be able to do stuff when your 65!

Very interesting...

Painted Rocks

There was a visit from Holly and Kevin, Pima Air Museum, Hopi ruins outside Flagstaff, pizza in Tuscon. Painted Rocks near Gila Bend.  Quite a full trip, I don't sit around much down here...

B 29 Superfortress
Each year I have to re evaluate more dreams and goals.  I'd certainly like to ride across Canada next year, if for no other reason than I can.  It is after all the fortieth anniversary of my first such trip, and like I had said... I ain't getting younger.  I have a long distance bike that if not exactly like the one I rode 40 years ago, is similar in size and spirit.

I'm not looking for recreating the huge gap between third and fourth/top gear my BMW had, a gap that severely crippled its passing ability... especially since the flat twin only produced about 40 hp.  I'm quite sure the V Strom will be entirely suitable.

I'd like to ride to Baja once more, and having a base in Phx and a bike I finally feel confident in riding, I may attempt that next fall as well.  It would truly be an epic long distance year, 2015!

For now, this week, its time to 'wind things down.'  I have one more vacuuming, one more dusting, one more laundry to do before turning the key once again in the door for the final time this year.  If I miss anything about living in Alberta, it was the convenience of hopping in the vehicle and driving south. 

So as I sit here writing this, thinking back to last year and ahead to the next, with little Boo curled up laying next to me on a floor that is about as comfortable as the 350's blue seat, looking out the patio door at a dull gray and overcast but warm sky; I can say that once again, I made the most of my short stay in the Valley.  Boo had lots of company, ditto Mr. Tickles, the Honda is on the road, the Yamaha is working the best it has since I purchased it 3 years ago, the Adventure 150 waits silently for a trip to the Golden Corral, and its time to wind things down...

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