Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dirty Dutchmen

So, it seems we've put a bunch of miles on our new bikes without even realizing it. I don't think we ever got further than 250 miles from home, and with being pretty busy otherwise, I guess that's why the updates have slid. We did do a couple HOG club rides, two of which we led ourselves. I guess we'll start with the first one way back in April. 

Living as we do in the heart of PA Dutch country, we are blessed with not only natural beauty of all kinds, but also a unique opportunity for a "fun with place names" ride. These aren't really unusual - many a club has taken a ride to a cool road sign just because us folks really don't need much more than a place to head to and a little sunshine for an excuse to ride. Lots of times, we don't even need either.

I've always wanted to do this ride, and honestly I'm surprised that in 24 years of Lehigh Valley HOG, nobody else has thought of it. The hardest part was coming up with the name. That, and a place to eat. My rides tend to draw a big crowd (it's a rare occasion that I toot my own horn, but I'm kinda proud of that) and we've learned from experience that showing up unexpectedly with essentially a busload of people at Flo's Cafe does not always turn out to be the divine experience it was when we scouted out the ride alone. In this case, lunch involved about 15 seconds of careful consideration. All we needed was a scenic route to connect the dots - the stuff I'm good at.

Yes, the dots. What was it that was so damn cool about them? What kind of places would constitute a "Dirty Dutchman" ride? Well, we start with a short ride to Virginville, and take a picture at the post office. From there it's south to Blue Ball, west to Bird-In-Hand (that one takes a little imagination but it was on the way) then right down the road to the climax in Intercourse, PA!  All easily done without leaving Berks and Lancaster counties, in time for a late lunch.

Which, if you recall, took 15 seconds to figure out. A few miles out of town right along our way home, is a legendary PA Dutch eatery that has constituted a club ride on its own merits: the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. As far as I know, it seats about 700. No reservation required. And they serve shoo-fly pie. What else could a Dutchman want?

Sounded like a good day on paper, and it worked out even better on asphalt.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hey Bud, Where Ya Been?


On an esoteric level, yes, bud, it's been a while.  Been, well, away.  Not in a way that begs reading between the lines for any life drama, just away, in the sense that we haven't been seen here on LBB, filing regular reports.

On a black-and-white, ledger accounting kind of level, we've been lots of places doing lots of things.  Things that, one, take our time and attention away from blogging, and, two, aren't really very exciting.  But Gretchen has completely worn out a tire already, so we must have been doing something.  And we have only a single blog post to show for it. 

I'll get to work on that. 

I've been riding to work a lot more this year, since Judi is not carpooling.  Donna and I have done a lot of riding locally, too.  And even though there is no "bike trip" on our agenda this year 

(I'll pause while you regain your composure)

we did just get back from a week at the lake house which turned out to be 1,250 miles worth of day trips.  We found 4 different ways to cross into upstate New York (OK, we already knew one of 'em) and spent the lion's share of our time exploring roads just as unfamiliar to us as the ones in Wyoming last year.  In the process, we saved a ton of money, pushed the relax-o-meter completely off the dial, and got to spend our nights in a place we love so much and don't see nearly enough.  And it was 15 degrees cooler than the heatwave everybody was bitching about back home.  Total win.

I'm thinking back on some of the other places that tire has been in those 7,000 miles, and I guess we did do a lot of cool stuff after all. Geez, I hope we're the point where, if it doesn't involve places 1,000 miles from home, we don't get very excited about it.  I guess maybe we just think *you* wouldn't get very excited about it.

So I'll get up some notes about the Finger Lakes, and the Dirty Dutchman day, and Johnstown Bike week (aka Thunder in the Valley) and whatever else I deem noteworthy. 

But first, a couple pix from Friday Night, before we headed for the hills:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Turn The Gas On, Dummy

If you rode any kind of motorcycle in your younger years, you have undoubtedly heard those words. Don't try to lie. Nowadays, carburetors are found in museums, and even in their golden years, the vacuum petcock was there to keep you from looking dumb. But for almost a century, you had to remember to shut off the gas under the tank when you parked your bike, lest gravity and a weak needle valve make a puddle for you when you get back. But turning it off, of course, was only half of the equation.

If you did remember to turn the gas off, sooner or later you came back to your mount, and, forgetting the other half of the equation, threw a leg over and lit 'er off. At that point, either A) it didn't start at all, or B) it ran just until you got your act together and lurched forward, depending on how big your float bowl was and how long it sat.

"Turn the gas on, dummy!"

I am reminded of this, because I was guilty of the next-stupidest automotive infraction last week, leaving me in the car instead on a freak spring-like afternoon.

The twins (see below), being new additions to the family, were treated to a lot of goodies by Santa and his elves this year. Plenty of winter weekends were spent with the heat on in the garage, both bikes getting lots of winter maintenance and shiny new parts. For Gretchen (my two-tone green machine has been dubbed Gretchen the Grasshopper) one of the upgrades was chromed control switches and housings on the handlebars. This involved re-routing wires and re-packaging switch assemblies. When I put the throttle side back together, I had a problem getting everything to fit. After a couple tries, I finally got it right.

Fast forward to Thursday, when we pushed our bikes out into the warm sun. Boots, chaps, heated jacket liner (hey, I said spring-like, not summer-like) gloves, helmet, key, and...


Gretchen sat there like a stone, the little red key light on in the dash and the clock blinking midnight, while Donna and Apollo patiently idled at the end of the driveway.

I'll save you the pain, but the short story is I spent hours cursing the fact that my $80 service manual is apparently a separate item from the "Electronic Troubleshooting Manual," (also avaialble for purchase at your friendly Harley-Davidson dealer) and trying to figure out why my bike suddenly thought it had a security system. It made sense that one of the brains was at least confused, if not fried, and despite the fact that I had discovered and repaired a minute section of bad insulation on a pinched wire, I had bigger problems.

Upon consulting my third professional, pricing all the suspect modules, and asking how much they would charge me to come with the truck, I was asked a very simple question by the service manager on the other end of the phone:

"You checked all the fuses, right?"

Um, nevermind...