With Only A Motorcycle: Fail

I originally meant to wait as long as possible to get my California Drivers License and register my motorcycle. I know the rule is that as soon as you are gainfully employed in the state you have 20 days to get a driver’s license and register any vehicles you may be operating in the state. Well I had hoped to bend those rules a little bit not because I'm a rule breaker or a rebel but because I didn't want to have to change the address in a few months once my wife moves here and we get a real place.

Well as part of my training for work at PG&E there are a number of driving safety and standards that I need to learn and be signed off on. Last night as I was reading through all the study material (because I'm new to the area and have no life) I read an interesting nugget. It basically said; and I'm paraphrasing, "any employee operating a company vehicle must have a valid California driver’s license. That was enough for me; I needed to get that done. I granted I'm still within the 20-day legal window to take care of it but tomorrow I’m going to be driving to one of the training sessions and being observed as part of my training and I didn't want to leave anything to chance.  Sure I'd probably be fine but you never know.  If on the off chance someone swerved into me and I had an accident that could be grounds for termination under the auspices of my not following a standard I was trained on.

Now, I had went through all the practice tests the California DMV had on their website on one of my last night shifts and remember some of the questions were a bit tricky but heck; I needed to get this done.  I went to the DMV and figured I’d do it quick; like pulling off a band-aid.  All of the people working at the DMV were super helpful and the wait wasn’t any worse than any other DMV I had been in before so kudos to them for that.  I had to take the written test for both the Class-C and Class-M certifications.  To pass the Class-C general driving test there were 36 questions and you could get 6 wrong.  And the Class-M motorcycle test had 25 questions of which you could get 4 wrong and pass.
The guy graded the Class-C first and I got all but one right!  Awesome!
On the Class-M I got the first four wrong and I knew I was fugged because I knew that I had guessed on a few of the other questions and the odds that I would get the rest right were slim to nil.  Sure enough, I ended up with 8 wrong answers.  8 WRONG ANSWERS?!?  How did I manage not to kill anyone on the way to the DMV!?!
The guy at the desk was cool and asks me, “Have you been riding for a long time?”
To which I said, “Yes.”
He responded, “It’s not uncommon for an experienced rider with a lot of years of riding under his/her belt to fail a written test; the trick is not to answer the question correctly but to answer the question with the answer they want.”
The light bulb goes off in my head… I actually remember my MSF instructor telling me that same thing; that old riders have trouble passing the written test.  Apparently I’m an OLD rider now.  Well my ego was definitely bruised and I humbly asked the guy for a motorcycle handbook and he numbered the questions I had wrong with the pages that explained why their answers were the right ones.  Luckily they gave me a temporary license anyhow and I am good to dive a car in California as a licensed California driver but I need to retake the taste to officially have an M-certification on my California License.  Also luckily, I still get to operate my motorcycle under my Wisconsin License for now.  I dodged a bullet there.
To make this a teachable moment I’ll share my wrong answers and you can see my though process as to why I chose the wrong answer.

Question 1:  I avoid the center of the lane because that is where every car leaks their anti-freeze and oil at which can be dangerous.

Question 2: Was just effing vague.

Question 3: The way I sit on my FZ the answer I gave fits better.  This question could vary depending a lot based on what motorcycle you ride.

Question 4: The center portion AGAIN is where every car leaks their anti-freeze and oil at which can be dangerous plus if you are signaling right and turning from the right portion of the lane inevitably a car tries to move next to you.

Question 7:  I was thinking in terms of sportbikes where most people use the front brake almost exclusively and forget that the rear brake is big component of shortening your stopping distance.  Thanks knuckle-draggers.

Question 18: Also thinking on terms of sportbikes I always lean into a turn.

Question 20: What does it matter so long as you are riding in a staggered formation?  From this picture it doesn’t look like there is room to safely pull behind rider A.
Question 21:  This one I think I just wrong; knowing  the correct answer now, that one makes sense.

So for what it’s worth that’s my story.  If you are an “old rider” moving to a new state you may be best served to read through their motorcycle handbook and just answering the questions the way they want rather than bringing logic into it.

Juan-stagram: Life At Extended Stay America


Street Tough?


With Only A Motorcycle: MotoCarma Lets Me Know Solo-Moto Is No Joke

So since I got my motorcycle this last Friday I have been quite cheeky about the fact that I’d I’m going to be riding in California; one of the best motorcycle states in the country.  Probably to the point of annoyance for some of the people back home but hey an adult gets very few “kid in a candy store” moments so I figured, “Why not milk it a bit?”

Friday night I had two gotten down two of the Guinness Black Lagers down by the time I had posted the previous entry and was perusing through a few of the websites that I have linked at the bottom of the blog when I made it to, “A Suitable Wardrobe” and found an article about Joseph Phelps Winery and it inspired me to go for a ride to check out at least a bit of wine country.  So I brought up Google maps and proceeded to map out my route which if you care to scrutinize is at this link.  Of course as with any night you are drinking and you decide to go for a motorcycle ride the next day (even if you alone in your hotel room at your computer) that is the time to stop drinking.  I had some reservations about following that rule because of the dreaded two-beer hangover but I wanted to make sure that I would be clear for my first official ride in California.  After all I would be riding on completely unfamiliar roads.
I woke up around 0730 and proceeded to make breakfast, a lunch to bring and to get ready for the ride.  I was assembling the riding gear I would be wearing when I ran into the first conundrum; liners in or liners out.  I had taken them out the night before.  The Tourmaster Transition Series 3 Jacket and the Tourmaster Caliber Pants both have full liners and it was in the low 60’s that morning but it was going to be in the high 80’s later on.  I decided that I would go liners in and should I need to I could always take them out and throw them in a saddle bag if it got too warm so I put them back into the jacket and pants. 

I wrote out the directions in simplified turn-by-turn manner (note to self for next time put the distances between on the paper) and ate breakfast.  After that I packed my lunch in the tank bag a long with my pipe and a book on philosophy.  I threw the iPad into the tail bag with a bungee cord and a towel and my kickstand puck and brought all the stuff downstairs to put back on the bike. 
Sidebar: One thing that I did not anticipate when built the luggage rack for the FZ was the bike cover so the thing barely fits on the bike with just the rack and no luggage so when I want to cover the bike I have to take the luggage off and bring it inside.  I’ll have to look into getting the next step larger cover at some point.
End Sidebar: When I got out to the bike (I still didn’t have my gear on) I realized that it was not going to be necessary to have the liners in so I took them back out.  Furthermore I decided to wear only the pants without jeans underneath them and just a t-shirt under the jacket I made sure to wear one that I really didn’t care about because I figured that inevitably it would get sweat-ridden once it got hot.  Eventually I was out and on my way I started out vents closed and was comfortable.  

Once I hit CA 128 I pulled over to take a couple photos little did I know that I would be returning past this point later in the day in a much poorer state.

I captured these two buzzing by the FZ; a Ducati Monster and a Honda CB400F (maybe).  It became pretty obvious that CA 128 is a pretty popular moto-road.  A lot of the great moto-roads in southwest Wisconsin were because of the Dairy Farms.  The milk trucks were so heavy that what would have probably been just dirt roads at first eventually needed to be paved for the trucks to get to the farms.  I’m not sure if the particular portion of CA 128’s path was driven by industry but if it was it may have been by the utility side of things.  One thing that I found particularly annoying about CA 128 was that the other type of vehicle that seemed to populate the road en-masse was large pickups hauling even larger boats.

The Monticello Dam is located along this road the reservoir at the top of the dam is called Lake Berryessa it is huge and people like to bring their boats up to play in the lake.  A crappy combination if you are a motorcyclist; large trailered boats on narrow twisty roads it could get old.  Lucky for me since it was all new to me I just used the time until the next passable straight-a-way to enjoy the views.  But back to my earlier point if I had to guess the reasoning for the route of CA 128 it would be for the construction of that Dam.

Unfortunately not being familiar with the area at all I was looking at the rocks…

…and the drop-off for the low side of the dam.  Had I known I was right by a one-of-a-kind engineering marvel I would have walked the extra 50 yards and looked at it!

This is a giant spillway that was built to protect the Dam, it is called the Glory Hole.  There is no valve to shut off this drain it was made so that once the reservoir reaches a certain height it automatically drains so the Dam does not have too much pressure exerted on it and burst.  Pretty cool!  Then next time I am up there I’ll have to take a look!

I stopped by the Somerston Winery and took a picture in front of the gate.  They didn’t buzz me in.

After about an hour of riding I was looking for a spot to stop and some pictures along Howell Mountain Rd and I spotted a turnout, slowed, turned around and went back to it.  The view was spectacular!

So spectacular in fact that I decided to stop and have lunch on a rock just off the road.  I did pull out the iPhone and took a quick video to share with you.

After lunch I did make it to my planned destination.  The winery has a huge mansion at the top of a hill with a ski gondola that takes people up to the top (for a fee of course) but by that point it was getting warm and I didn’t feel like walking around in my gear and playing with the wine tourists so I decided to head back.   My plan for the route home was much simpler and just involved taking CA 128 the whole way back to winters and hitting the 505 west to Vacaville.  I was having a ball wicking it up a bit through the twisty portions since I didn’t have to look of the next turn off I could focus on just the road and it was great!  Just before Lake Berryessa I came across a Harley rider with a passenger following a slow moving Pickup/Boat combo so I settled into the follow-mode and waited for the next passing zone.  Luckily it was long enough to pass both of them in one swoop.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened but shortly thereafter I started to notice the bike was not tipping into the corners nearly as easy as it was just a few seconds earlier.  At first I thought something was wrong with the front end.  Was there an issue with the steering stem bearings??? Then I started to hear that familiar sound of deflated tire riding on the rear rim.  FUGG!  I slowed down and pulled over  to the edge or the road and limped it to a safe pull off spot and inspected the rear tire.

Sure enough… there it was close to the center in one of the tread recesses.

The good thing was that it was pluggable the bad thing was that I ignored that thought in my head the day before to go and assemble my solo-moto trouble kit immediately and of course it was now biting me in the ass.  I grab my phone.  No signal… How far am I from Winters??? No idea the GPS on the iPhone won’t work (properly) without a signal.  The Boat and the Harley I passed go by, not sure if they could tell what my situation was but if they could I’d imagine they were chuckling to themselves.  I decided that I had no choice but to limp the bike into Winters.

It was a bit tricky to steer the bike with the flat tire the rear just felt squirmy add to that they fact that there was no pave shoulder made it a real balancing act giving the traffic room to pass and not falling off the edge of the road into the gravel.  On the straights I was comfortable at speeds around 20mph and down to 10 when there was a banked curve.

It took me about 40 minutes to make it into town and to Pisani’s Service station.

I ended up talking to Bob and old school guy working at the old school service station and while he was not able to plug the tire for me (everyone is afraid of the liability) he was cool with me using his air pump and leaving my bike at his shop while I walked over to the Napa and bought the plug kit and a needle nose pliers to cut the excess plug away.  The walk to and from the auto parts took longer than the repair.  By that point I was sweating my ass off but though I’d chat with Bob for a bit.  He was a really cool guy, he and his son run the station (though he does employ some other mechanics too).  I told him that I had just moved to the state and that I really appreciated the use of his facilities.  We talked about how back in the day he would have plugged that in a heartbeat but how California is the most litigious state so he won’t touch them anymore.  I told him it’s not just there.  He asked what brought me here; most people come to Vacaville for the military so he was interested to hear that I was there for PG&E.  After that we BS-ed about housing prices and the market etc and eventually he had to go back to work but it was nice for me to meet someone new.

The tire held air great on the way home and I after I went into the hotel and cooled off for a bit I went to assemble the trouble kit that I should have assembled before I ever took the bike on a long distance ride.  I also stopped and got some groceries.  I shot a quick video of me unpacking the bags so you could see what I had fit in the bags.

Even with them not expanded there was still room for more in them so I think I will be fine for bigger trips to the store as well.

I want to take a separate post to cover my trouble kit so stay tuned for that, I hope you enjoyed my latest post!


With Only A Motorcycle: Initiate Solo-moto!

Two good things happened today. I finished my first week at my new job without finding anything that makes me regret my decision and my FZ arrived early!

The first day of work was an New Employee Orientation Workshop that was held at Pacific Gas and Electric's training facility; the San Ramon Valley Conference Center.  In... You guessed it... San Ramon.

I will say this; if you think that people aren't hiring and you don't know where to find a job or you're looking for something new check PG&E's job openings on their website!  They are definitely hiring and they do an orientation every week and they are full!  But Juan, I'm not an electrician.  Think of it this way, PG&E is like a mini city if they hire for everything from custodians to engineers to linemen to lawyers to system operators.  There is likely something that you can do at this company and the benefits are good.  Okay, sidebar over.

The orientation was informative and they do a good job of keeping 8 hours of company info interesting.  I left at the end of the day feeling even better with my decision to move to across the country to join their team.  The next day was more or less getting settled in, I had some issues with passwords and getting access to the online training modules so I spent most of the day getting to know my co-workers and the login issues were resolved by the end of the day.  Wednesday I took CPR and first responder training so now I know what to do in a number of emergency situations.  Should I end up on a group ride (which I don't do much of anymore) and someone goes down I now have a much larger toolkit of skills to draw on if they are hurt.  Of course the training wasn't done for that it was to benefit PG&E and protect their employees while they are on the job.  It's entirely possible that I might need them in the control center but as a motorcyclist the probability is much higher that I will end up needing the skills on the road.  Thursday was more training in the morning and the latter half of the day shadowing my new co-workers and getting to know them.  All guys all under 35 and while they are very professional in the office I have the sneaking suspicion that if should the proper liquids be ingested it could be a pretty fun crew on a night out as well.  Today I toured the Pittsburg Substation and observed some crewmen switching out a pair of series capacitors on the 230KV system and then toured the Pittsburg Converter Station at one end of the Trans Bay Cable a very neat one of a kind underwater high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable that supplies San Francisco an alternate route for power (since it is on a peninsula).  I thought that was really cool but I get kind of nerdy around high voltage equipment.  After that we had lunch at the New Mecca Cafe which has amazing, authentic Mexican cuisine.  I was so stuffed from the lunch that I haven't eaten anything else and I still feel full at 2100!

On the way home came the best news of the day the bike was going to arrive this afternoon!  I was very surprised because they had told me the delivery window was from 4-29 to 5-3 but I'll take two days early.  I took the rental back to the shop and I was officially cage-free at 1600 today!  The bike came, we checked everything out and all was as it was when we left the guys even let me keep the "canyon-dancer-like" straps that they used on the front forks to strap the bike down so bonus there! I took the bike to the gas station and filled the tank since I had to take it down to 1/8 of a tank before shipping.  On first startup it fired just as it did when I rode it around to the truck to be loaded in Madison so that was one concern allayed.  If anyone can give me advice on the proper way to fuel up a motorcycle in California I would sure appreciate.  For some reason I like to see where the fuel level is at as I fill the tank so I had to push back the rubber sheath on the nozzle or it wouldn't fill and it is a pain in the ass.  Do motorcyclists in California really just shove the nozzle in and wait for it to click off?

After that I took the bike for a little ride around town and the outskirts of Vacaville.  I had originally planned on sticking my iPhone in the clear portion of the tank bad and looking at the GPS and having a single ear bud in (per California regulations) to listen to the audio instructions.  But I decided that would be too much of a distraction so I use my standard issue iPhone 5 ear bud in my left ear since that is the side with the volume control and the mic in it do I can adjust the volume of the audio cues for in-town and highway riding and I just let the right one dangle inside my jacket.  It seems to be working well thus far.

So here I am on a Friday, sitting at a Starbucks, I'm not a "Starbucks Guy" but I have a bunch of gift cards for here from family.  The cruel joke is that I forgot them so I had to pay with my own money which I’d rather give to a local cafĂ©, coffee shop.  Oh well I have yet to find one I like here in Vacaville anyhow.  I'm not sure what other solo-moto guys (and gals) do on a Friday night but really I’m unwilling to drink at all and ride so getting drunk at a bar is out.  I knew it was going to be that way though and really it’s not a good idea for me to be going out an drinking when I have no one to call for a ride or for bail money etc… so I'll just leave here, go for a quick cruise around town and polish up this little bit of motoblogging up for you, the viewer while having one or two of the Guinness Black lagers that have in my fridge (I've been meaning to try them).  That paired with the coffee will give me the quick energy to get this out to you by bedtime!

Thanks to everyone for reading!


The Cali’ Experience: The Trek West

First, let’s have a reality check.  I am under no impression that my trek west could even be considered difficult or arduous when you place it in the grand scheme of the millions of people who have ventured to where the sun sets in search of good fortune.  I could imagine me regaling a member of the Donner Party who also started their trip west from Illinois of my “misfortunes.”  Had everything went to plan the trip would have only taken them 5 months and they would have eaten zero party members!  Never-the-less this blog is about me not them so here is the story of my one day trip to California.

I woke up at 0520 in the morning; ten minutes before I had set my alarm.  I had went to bed before Anne's parents had gotten home, was tired and figured I would need my rest for the day of travel I had hoped that I would have had some time to chat with Anne's parents in the morning but the weather had other plans.  I showered and went downstairs to have a light breakfast.  The basement door was open and I heard a distinct sound of water sloshing around.  FUUUCK!  Anne's parents have long had issues with their basement flooding and in the last five years have been doing all they could do to keep it from re-occurring they sealed the basement, and installed an anti-backflow valve on the basement drain but it turns out this morning that those efforts had failed.  Anne's poor Mom was down in the basement trying to get the important things up off the ground.  The water was about ankle deep.  She had checked the basement around 0400 and things were fine but a lot had happened in the hour and a half since.  Both Anne's Mom and Dad were running around doing their best to keep the water at bay.  I felt like an ass needing a ride to Midway airport at that point but Anne volunteered to help her mother get the important things off the ground while her dad drove me to the airport.

Leaving the house it became clear that all was not well in town.  I had commented the previous day on our drive in to Anne how there seemed to be a lot of standing water in the area and it was much worse now on street away from their house there was water bubbling out from a storm sewer manhole and the rain was still coming down!  I there was talk of street and highway closings, I was afraid that I would not be making my flight.  We made it to the Airport with plenty of time to spare.  My flight was originally scheduled for an 0835 departure and it had been delayed until 0935.

Both of my checked bags were over-weight and I was charged $75 per bag because of it but what are you supposed when you are moving across the country you don't really have a choice; you need what you need!  The big black one must have weighed 70 pounds and the green duffel which had all the riding gear that I listed off in my first post plus a helmet and a Joe Rocket Reactor perforated riding jacket along with everything else that I could stuff in there must have weighed about 100 pounds.  If you can’t tell by the photo the green duffel is the same length from that emblem in the center so it’s huge.  When I walked with it hanging from my shoulder by its shoulder strap I could feel the plastic clips flexing under the weight in a springy manner with each step I took.  I could only pray that it didn’t fail before the trip was over.   The flight was delayed two more times first to 10:30 and again to 11:10 which ended up being the right time.  With boarding and everything I felt the wheels leave the ground during take-off at exactly 11:38:15 central time.  I made a point to look at my watch because that was the moment I officially left the Midwest.

 I took extra care to make note of the wheels down time when and by my watch that was 13:38:45 Pacific Time; the flight had taken dam near exactly four hours quite impressive.  The sailing kept getting smoother after that too!  My luggage had arrived at the correct place; I later found that the TSA had inspected my huge green duffel thanks to a little pamphlet inside it.  Things looked exactly as I left it though.  My guess is the guy opened the thing took one look at it and said, “Fuck It” and zipped it back closed.  When I walked out the door of Oakland International Airport and made my way across the first lane of traffic low and behold the shuttle to the car rental station was pulling up at that exact moment and the luck didn’t stop there either.

I had reserved a compact car and when I got there they were out of them so I was upgraded to a mid-size for free!  I had a choice of a Dodge Avenger or a Hyundai Elantra.  I have liked the way the last few years of Hyundais have been looking and I hate the way the Avenger looks so I picked the pretty girl.

It turns out that the Elantra was brand new just off the truck with only 6 miles on it.  I would find out later after doing some research that the beauty of the car is only skin deep.  It has a god-awful 148 horsepower 1.8 liter I-4 engine that would have sucked in a compact car let alone this mid-sized cage.  I found that out on the first on-ramp.  On the good side though; I made it out of Oakland without getting stuck in rush hour and the ride there was much smoother than my first trip to Vacaville.

I finished the check in at the Extended Stay America and as I walked into my room one plastic clips on my big green duffel gave up the ghost as I hit the kitchen; just enough strength to last the trip! I’ve been running around town and getting settled in for a long stay here (possibly 3 months) but I did take a short video of my new digs and I’ll leave you with that.  That brings you up to speed with everything so far look forward to more lifestyle transition experience type posts until I get the FZ here.


The Cali’ Experience: Going Away Party

One last time: Only Deuce and I get to handle the Bourbon Street Grille's Jake and Elwood Statues. Jeremy, Deuce, Kurt, me and Shawn.

The wise ones...

With Only A Motorcycle: Shipping the FZ

There’s no way that writing about the shipping process for my motorcycle is not going to be a bitch-fest…

Where do I start?  It’s been hard to complain much about the relocation process thus far especially since everything has been covered by PG&E including the cost of shipping my motorcycle.  The relocation package had accommodations for the shipping of one vehicle to California.  Most times that would be a car because they are bigger and heavier thus more expensive to ship.  Anne had decided early in the process that she was going to drive her Saturn Vue to California herself so that meant that I would get to ship my motorcycle for free.  Maybe the fact that they are so bad at shipping a motorcycle has something to do with the fact that so few people ship motorcycles through their relocation program.  I did some preliminary investigation into shipping the bike myself before I knew for sure that we were going to have PG&E do it and I found that it was going to be $650-700 to ship the bike with a specialty shipper, who would take your bike and luggage as is and have it where you need it at the time you specify.  So here is where I get annoyed…

The company PG&E is using (Allied Van Lines) is DEFINITELY NOT the ideal motorcycle shipper if you need something right away.  And because like most big companies I’m sure; PG&E insisted on using “their shipper,” so I was stuck with them.  At first I thought it was going to be way worse than it was because they were telling me that they would not accept responsibility of anything in the luggage, only ship the bike with luggage attached to the bike (so no magnetic tank bag) and that I had to empty the gas tank entirely.  Shit like that matters when you have to take everything you need with you on a plane.  I didn’t have room for the stuff that normally sits in the bike and that I wanted to ship in the luggage.

Luckily after talking directly to the shipper they said that I just needed to provide them with an inventory of what is in/on the bike and drain the tank down to 1/8 full.  That still seems dumb; isn’t gasoline vapor more volatile than the liquid?  Wouldn’t a full tank be safer??? At least I will be able to get the bike to a gas station without siphoning gas out of an unsuspecting car now.  But I do have the equipment now!

But still here is where the big gripe comes from; they picked up the bike on 4-16-2013 and my window for delivery is between 4-29-2013 and 5-3-2013.  That is because the bise is going to a distribution hub and waiting until there is enough other stuff to fill an actual semi trailer that is heading to the same place.  That is ridiculous and borderline unacceptable.  With the car rental I am going to have to pay for until then I may net a $100 saving vs. shipping the bike on my own with a specialist shipper and I’m willing to bet that Allied Van Lines is charging PG&E more than the specialist shipper too.

Okay, enough bitching about principalities; let’s move on to the good things that I can say about the shipper.  They guy they sent was specifically charged with picking up motorcycles and only cycles and it showed.  He did know his stuff and he did a thorough walk-around and marked all the imperfections.  Actually, looking at all the marks on one sheet of paper made me feel like I need to do some work on cosmetics.

I’m not sure that I had mentioned earlier why I didn’t just have them pick up the bike earlier.  Well the reason for that was that they said that the bike could be delivered anywhere between 2 and 14 days after pickup.  I could have had it shipped to the Extended Stay America where I will be but whomever signs the form takes the responsibility for final inspection of the bike and releases the shipper of any responsibility for damage so I wasn’t about to leave that up to someone I had never met before.

Either way the bike will get to California when it does and at that point the real adventure will begin!

Now I said that I would be adding some other content about the move and some lifestyle-transition-type stories so I’d like to add the first one of these at the tail end of this post.  So whenever you move you end up wanting to throw a bunch of stuff out.  One thing that I have been lugging around for YEARS are old hard drives; one I know for sure has been with me since 1998.  

For the life of me I couldn't tell you what is on some of them but I have always been paranoid about throwing them out and an identity thief taking advantage of that.  They say that it's not enough to reformat a hard drive as a savvy identity thief could still fish the data off of a disposed hard drive.  Ideally what you need to do is fill the hard drive with garbage data and overwrite all your sensitive information. I didn't have the software or the time for that so I decided to (finally) render them useless with my cut-off wheel.  Enjoy the video!


Found Coolness: Zoltar

If you are a young boy who recently woke up as an adult; This is the man you need to talk to...

Found Here: Mexicali Rose


With Only A Motorcycle: Pre-transport Checks

I didn't do a good job with keeping the blog updated over the last 13 days.  It was all I could do to cross off the tasks on the never ending pre-departure list that my wife and I had come up with for the home and also selling as much clutter as possible on Craigslist.  I have to admit that had an effect on the motivation I had with performing some of the pre-transport maintenance that I had thought I would get done.  I would have just taken it to a shop but by the time I had realized that I was not going to be able to do it myself the all of the shops in Madison, WI had too long of a lead time before they could get to it.
I was never concerned about the bike leaving me stranded when it was my “toy” and I probably would have not even thought of doing all that stuff had I had more than the 1500 miles in the seat that I put on since I had bought it.  The guy that I had bought the bike from had an automotive shop that was very clean and had two other very well maintained bikes in it when I bought the FZ and I remember him listing all the stuff that he had done to the bike maintenance wise and hadn't written it down.  I did keep his contact info so I figured I’d give him a call and see if he remembered what he had done to the bike while he had it.

Here is the list he gave me:

- New Pilot Power 2CTs front and rear (31,000)
- Valve inspection and adjustment (31,000)
- Fresh oil change (Amsoil) (31,000)
- New Cutch (30,000)
- Flush cooling system and fresh antifreeze (30,000)
- Fresh fork seals and fork oil (30,000)
- New steering stem bearings
- Fresh brake fluid (29,000)
- New breaks all around (29,000)
- New chain and sprockets (29,000)
- New Yoshimura slip-on (29,000)

The conversation we had made me quite confident in the bike and in the previous owners skill he really knew the bike inside and out and put me at ease.

 After talking to him washed the whole bike, checked all the fluids and cleaned inspected and lubed the chain and sprockets.

I also had to go to the store and buy an new bolt for the rear mounting point for the chain guard as the original had worked it’s way loose somewhere along the road. I made sure to use some blue Loctite on the bolts when I reinstalled them.  After that I checked the break discs and pads for wear and they all far above the minimum spec.

Then I pulled the tank off the bike and checked the air filter and it was not the cleanest but still had a little life in it.  I do plan on ordering one as I get settled in California as no shops in Madison had the darn thing in stock.  Everybody was like “I can order it for you.”  And I was like, “No thanks I can order it for myself.” I know in this day and age of the internet it’s hard for shops to compete with the internet but you would think that they would at least be able to stock air filters!

At the end of the day I felt pretty confident that I had a good base to start commuting with.  I only hope that my trust in the previous owner was not misplaced.  I appreciate everyone who has been checking out the blog I am going to rip-off a few more today to get this up to date and I promise to be better about taking more pics and videos this post is pretty sparse!

Random: Dave Chappelle's "Tryone Biggums"

"Ya'll act like crack is so bad! Well like the good book says, let he who is without sin throweth the first rock and I shalt smoketh it!"

~Tyrone Biggums


System Ops: Last Day At Work

Okay people... I'm not going to be an employee at MG&E tomorrow and boy am I glad! The temperature forecast for 7am is 4,142 degrees! Things be meltin' YO!!!

I spotted myself 10 years