Saturday, April 23, 2016

East Meets West Up North

This meet up has been a few years in the works.

By now most of you that read this blog have seen on the Adventures of ScooterBob's blog that Troubadour and I met up with ToadMama and her husband Mike while they are on the west coast visiting family.

We attempted this adventure previously, but a freak Oregon snow storm kept us from heading north.

Luckily, the stars were aligned and our spring unseasonably warm this year.  I took yesterday off work and we left the house about 9:30 am heading north to Centralia, Washington to meet at the McMennamins Olympic Club.  It is a 3-hour drive up I-5 from our house providing traffic through Portland isn't too obnoxious, and a 2-hour drive from where ToadMama was staying.  Not only was it fairly centrally located but the Pub menu online looked quite varied as well. View menu HERE.

Traffic slowed down to a stop near Wilsonville south of Portland.  Luckily the map/gps app on Troubadour's phone let us know that due to the traffic slow-down on I-5, we'd be better off taking the  I-205 around Portland.  Good choice.

We arrived without incident and within minutes the four of us were seated in a booth perusing the menus and chatting like old friends.  

(Trobairitz-Troubadour-ToadMama with ScooterBob)
(Thank you Mike for taking the picture)
We were stunned when ToadMama brought forth ScooterBob. While I knew Robert had sent it on to the next participant, I had no idea it was going to ToadMama, or that she'd bring it all the way from Virginia.  

Alas, I forgot my camera.  What kind of blogger heads to a meet-up and forgets their camera? Um, unfortunately, I do.  My new cell phone is new enough to me that I am not comfortable with the camera yet so ToadMama graciously said I could pilfer her photos for this post and even emailed them to me.  You rock!

(Trobairitz-Troubadour - ScooterBob hanging out with veggie burgers and fish tacos - and beer)
(Photo by ToadMama)
We had a terrific time getting to know ToadMama and Mike and hope to visit with them again soon.  While I don't always post as often as I'd like to or should, I am continually grateful to this blog and the blogs of others.  Without them I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people, and good people just make the world a better place.

(ToadMama and Mike)
Thank you Kathy and Mike for making the trip to Centralia to meet-up and have lunch and also for the cool Virginia is for Lovers swag. Look for those to show up in a riding post later this summer.

- Au Revoir

"When you meet someone for the first time, that's not the whole book. That's just the first page." - Brody Armstrong (Australian musician)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Five Year Moto-Itch

I believe some of you probably know of the itch to which I am referring.  There is no cream to treat it, but there just might be a cure if one looks hard enough.

Last month marked five years since I brought home my new 2009 Suzuki Gladius from the dealership.  I was tickled pink at the time of purchase and the first time I went for a ride I couldn't get the smile off my face.

(First ride on my Gladius - March 2011)
If I give it enough thought, I'd say the itch has been building for a few years, but lately it cannot be ignored.  When I purchased the bike I was a few months shy of my 40th birthday and now I am approaching 45 trips around the sun.  So what has changed in the last five years?  I believe it is mostly the type of riding we do now combined with aging.

When the bike was first purchased, we were doing a lot of group riding and seemed to be always chasing the sport bikes around.  Gradually over time we pretty much stopped riding in large groups and have gravitated towards dual sport riding.  While I've never hesitated to take the Gladius over gravel or rough roads, it isn't the greatest tool for the job.  Read of a previous forestry road adventure HERE.
(A Gladius as an adventure bike)
I have never been happy with the suspension of the Gladius.  While we've installed the GSXR shock and adjusted the SAG, rebound, etc, the bike really does not like any type of rough roads especially in a corner.    It is a perfect torque monster bike for riding somewhere on smooth paved roads as fast as you want to get there.  It seems as though the quality of our roads in Oregon have deteriorated over the last five years and all those rough patches make for uncomfortable riding on the Gladius.  It is almost like you are riding a little bucking bronco, but didn't know you entered a rodeo.

As I have aged my knees creak hurt a little more, my wrists get even more sore, and my hands numb quicker with the forward lean/crouched position  of the Gladius.  

What does all this mean?  Well, we are starting to think of something a little more geared towards dual sporting with more travel in the suspension and a little more upright seating position, but at the same time, not a huge beast like Troubadour's Tiger or as small as the TW200.

Does this mean we are going to sell the Gladius?  Not at this point

Are we looking at others options such as a Ducati Scrambler, Honda CB500x, or Royal Enfield Himalayan?  Maybe - there is no harm in looking.

One thing I worry about is missing the peppy little v-twin motor in the Gladius.  We've thought about putting some TKC-80's on the Gladius and seeing what it can do.  We've also read online where people are putting KLR forks on the front and a taller front tire. Sounds like too big a project.  Now, I could combine the same v-twin 650 cc engine with dual sport capabilities by purchasing a Suzuki V-Strom, but I really don't want anything that bulky or heavy.

At this point I am in the debating/dilemma phase.  We know that the Gladius is not the tool for the type of riding I want to do or the quality of our roads right now, but at the same time I really love the bike.  We could technically keep it and purchase something else, but there is not a lot of room in our one-car garage and it wouldn't be fair for the bike to just sit there and not be ridden. Oh wait, that is what has been happening lately, although in my defense we had one of the wettest winters on record.

I think we've all had 'the itch' at some point.  I've heard it said that the perfect number of bikes is always N+1.  With the value of N being the number of bikes you currently own.

Suggestions, ideas, and opinions are always welcome from the blogosphere.  Have you had the moto-itch? And if so what did you do to scratch it?

- Au Revoir

" He that has a choice has trouble." - Dutch Proverb

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hiking with PolarBear

Yesterday, after being sufficiently motivated by Sonja and Roland, Troubadour and I decided to go for a hike at McDowell Creek Falls and PolarBear accepted our invitation to join us.

This will be Troubadour's second hike at the falls and my third.  PolarBear lives closer to the falls and I believe has been there a few more times.

The last time Troubadour and I hiked there was in 2013 and the water level was really low.  This year we are nearly 10 inches ahead in rain so we wanted to see just how much water was flowing over the waterfalls.  We weren't disappointed.

PolarBear and Troubadour were both taking pictures with their smart phones.  I am still using a dumb phone, so I had my trusty point and shoot Canon camera along for photo opportunities.

We didn't take the direct route to the falls but took the longer hike through the forest, just shy of 3 miles total.  

(McDowell Creek Falls County Park, outside of Lebanon, Oregon)

(Footbridge by the parking lot)

(Another footbridge a little further along)

(Troubadour taking a picture)

(Look down or you'll miss the flora)

(Crystal Pool's 20 ft waterfall)

(Western Skunk Cabbage, aka Lysichiton americanus)

(Luckily they haven't started to stink yet)

(Trillium grandiflorum, aka White wake-robin)

(Troubadour in green and PolarBear in blue - walk on ahead)

(All the trees were green with moss and lichen)

(Hmmm should we hop the gate?  Make good choices)

(Salmonberry blossom, aka Rubus spectabilis)

(The other side of the salmonberry blossom)

(New growth emerging from a Sword Fern, aka Polystchum munitum)

(Two sword fern fronds emerging among the Oxalis stricta, aka Common Yellow Woodsorrel)

(The uncommon "rubber tree")

(Looking back up a few stairs we'd walked down)

( An old log, so full of life - look close for the tiny white mushrooms)

(Tiny fungus found on the log pictured above)

(Yet another Salmonberry blossom- they were so bright I couldn't resist)

(Trees near the river - the falls below were to the left)

(Majestic Falls)

(A continuation of the trail)

(But first a few more shots of the falls)

(Majestic Falls - 39 ft)

(Majestic falls and a PolarBear)

(Troubadour and Trobairitz)

(Troubadour found sunshine shining through the trees)

(His view from the ground)

(Royal Terrace Falls - 119 ft)

(Troubadour on the left climbing to the falls)

(He's almost there......)

(He made it up the slippery goat trail)

(I zoomed out to show the ratio of size - Troubadour vs. the Falls)
He also made it back down the goat trail. No Troubadour's were harmed in the photographing of this waterfall.

It was just a quick walk from the falls to the car, so this was my last picture of the day.

It was nice to get out and go for a hike.  It has been so rainy we didn't do much all winter and now that Spring has arrived we need to get moving.

If you'd like to see photos our last hike at McDowell Creek Falls in August 2013 and compare water levels, please click this LINK.  If you'd like to read/see photos of the same hike I did with SpartanBabe in May 2013, please click this LINK.

- Au Revoir

" Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." - John Muir

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

One Foot or Two?

An odd post title when thinking of motorcycling, but bear with me.

A few weeks ago I was reading a Cycle World magazine article regarding the new or updated models of certain brands of motorcycles.  What caught my attention was the fact that at least two of them (one was the KTM 1290 SuperDuke R) came with a hill assist or "hill-hold control" to prevent the bike from rolling backward for a second or two on a hill.

Our Fiat 500 has a standard transmission and came with hill assist.  As someone who learned to drive a stick in the 80's it was a strange concept to me.  However, I quickly got used to it and wondered why we didn't see the same feature on motorcycles.  Here we are 15 months after purchasing the Fiat and this feature is starting show up on high-end bikes and maybe has been around for a bit, I'd just never heard of it.

As my thought process progressed to putting  bikes in motion on a hill, it made me realize how much practice I probably need doing that very thing.

When I took my Team Oregon class back in 2002, we were taught to put 'all four paws down' when stopping.  Both hands in action pulling in the clutch and front brake, and both feet in action shifting down and pressing on the rear brake.  When stopping we put both feet on the ground. To this day putting only one foot on the ground when stopped is foreign to me, and putting both feet on the ground is my habit.  It is automatic.

This is only ever an issue when stopping on a hill.   9 out of 10 times I will still put both feet down when stopped, then lift the right foot back up and onto the rear brake.

Team Oregon now encourages students to come to a complete stop and just put the left foot down leaving the right foot on the rear brake. (While they don't specifically teach it, it is encouraged)  While this may be a good habit in some instances I just can't seem to bring myself to practice it.  I worry that one time when I stop on an off-camber corner muscle memory will take over and I'll automatically put the left foot only down when that is actually the low side of the road and over I'll go.  

With the habit of putting both feet down, I feel like I have the option to put either down if necessary since I am not used to just the left.  Does this make any sense?

So, do you have a preference?  Do you stop with one foot on the ground or two when out and about on two wheels?

- Au Revoir

Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm." - Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Blog Challenge/Poll - You Cannot Ride without.......what?


This blog challenge comes courtesy of a little poll from Gary over at Flies in Your Teeth.  Find his original post at this ----> LINK.

Gary posts the following:

"Just for fun, I am putting together a list of the top essential items riders take with them.  What are the five things you CANNOT leave behind?

Please give one answer for each category below and I will collate the answers into an essential motorcycling items guide......

1. For your bike.  It could be a particular tool, cable ties, oil, or a puncture repair kit.  What won't you travel without?

2. Something you wear when riding.  A favourite pair of gloves perhaps, a heated jacket, a certain pair of boots, or kevlar jeans maybe?

3.  Technical stuff.  Maybe you won't go without a camera, music, a GPS or a laptop.  What item MUST you take?  Don't list a phone, as we all carry those!

4. Essential item to carry with you.  That could be water, sunscreen, paper maps or something else?

5. A luxury item - Cigars, a favourite hat, shoes, an expensive watch?"

If you choose to participate, please click on the link to Gary's blog post above and post your answers for him in his comment section.

Here are my answers:

1.  For my bike - Givi tail bag - I need some space besides my pockets to carry extra gloves, tinted visor's, etc.

2.  Something I wear when riding - My Rev'it Sand riding pants.  Most comfortable riding pants I've owned and they are long enough, woot!

3.  Technical stuff - Canon Camera - I am not very technical so the only techno gadget I carry is my trusty point and shoot Canon camera.

4.  Essential Item to carry with me -  Earplugs - every once in a while I forget to put them in for short jaunts, but they are essential and I always have them with me when riding.

5.  A luxury item - Lipstick - Don't laugh....okay, go ahead and laugh, but I always have pink lipstick in my jacket pocket when riding.  Hey, something has to help distract from helmet hair.

There you have it.

I hope everyone takes a few minutes to help Gary out with his poll.

So, what can you not ride without?

- Au Revoir

"Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough." - Charles Warner

Monday, February 1, 2016

Will Travel for Motorcycles - The Sequel

**  I had every intention of posting this report a week ago. Unfortunately due to my work schedule and computer issues at home, that didn't happen.........
*   *   *   *
(Borrowed from Interweb)
In January of 2014 we travelled to Abbotsford, British Columbia to attend the Vancouver Motorcycle Show.  We made a weekend of it and travelled with PolarBear (Andy) and his wife SweetPea (Karen). You can read about the trip at this LINK.

Last September we hatched a scheme to attend again this year. Rooms were booked at the Best Western Plus Regency Inn and Conference Centre and then we waited. 

Last Friday on January 22, 2016 we set the alarm for 4 am to get ready.  We drove across the valley to PolarBear's and piled in his rig.

It was an uneventful ride north on I-5 with intermittent rain.  We stopped for coffee and snacks along the way. We crossed the border at Sumas.

We arrived in Abbotsford early afternoon and ran a few errands before checking into the hotel.  For some reason we were given the exact same room we had last time.  Room 312. A very nice suite with a mini kitchen.  They have redecorated since 2014, so the room is even nicer than it was. This Best Western is one of the cleanest hotels we've ever been to.

For dinner Friday night we decided on Boston Pizza.  They have a lot of choices and we could have a drink or two as well.  

After eating entirely too much, we retired back to the hotel with plans to meet the next morning.

Saturday morning we met PolarBear and SweetPea in the lobby and headed out to the show after a brief detour to an ATM machine.  We arrived a smidge later than last time so there wasn't any line-up, although there seemed to be a lot more people in attendance.

I didn't seem take as many pictures as I typically do, but the camera did come out a few times. The overhead lighting was not my friend, so the quality of pics isn't great, but I'll share them anyway.

(Honda CB500x)

(Alas we could not enter to win - Canadian residents only)

(Troubadour on a Victory)

(How about a sparkly Harley?)
After wandering around looking for a few hours we were hungry for lunch. Luckily they had food trucks set up outside so people had an option besides the burgers a fries from the Tradex food court.

We decided on a veggie wrap from the Bobbies Indian food truck.  Yummy!

(Photo above borrowed from the Motorcycle Show's Facebook page)
Our phones weren't working well in Canada but SweetPea's was so she suggested sending Princess ScooterPie a text message to see if we could connect.  As we were wrapping up lunch Dar was at the food court with her Farkle Garage posse having lunch.  We met her there and we able to talk for a few minute and exchange hugs.  No one thought to get out the camera.  No pics.....did it really happen?

We left her to finish her lunch and went back to wandering.  We still had half the show to peruse.

Soon after lunch I came to my favorite bike of the show.  It was like seeing a flying car.  I'd heard about them, but didn't know they actually existed yet.  Behold the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 in Ocean Grey color.

(2017 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2, 399 cc)

(399cc, 41hp, 403 lbs wet weight)
We spent quite a bit of time at the Ducati booth.  Both the Scrambler Sixty2 and the regular Scrambler caught our eye.  We have a friend who bought a Ducati Scrambler Urban Enduro last fall and loves it so much he is selling both his Triumph Tigers.  Hmmmm.

Also seen at the show........

(Yamaha XSR900 - pretty)

(Yamaha MT-10 - we won't be seeing these south of the border)

Another bike we were surprised to see was the prototype of the all new Suzuki SV650. I knew they were coming out with them, but had no idea we'd actually get to see one in person.  Upon sitting on it, I found the gas tank was a little narrower than on my Gladius and the seat was also a smidge lower. Me thinks it will be a bigger seller than the SFV 650 Gladius.

(Troubadour on the Suzuki SV650)
(Another shot of the Suzuki SV650)

(PolarBear on a Hayabusa - if your hat is backwards you're going faster, right?)

(Loved the color of this Moto Guzzi V7 II)

(Moto Guzzi V-7)
As soon as Troubadour tried on the helmet seen below, PolarBear proceeded to inform him he "looked like he had a bucket on his head." It did make him seem a little like a bobble-head.

(Troubadour in a Shark helmet)

The Honda booth was prominent when one entered the show.  The Africa Twin display was front and center (centre).  When we arrived that morning there were too many people oohing and ahhing that we couldn't get near it.  Not so on the way out.

(Troubadour on the Honda Africa Twin)

(I preferred the color combination of the other one on display)
We left the show at 5 pm after walking around for 7 hours.  We were all beat and looking forward to dinner out.

We decided on Mr. India as recommended by the front desk staff of the hotel.  It was a fabulous little hole in the wall with wonderful food.

From there we all retired to our respective hotel rooms until Sunday morning with plans to meet and head home.

We met Sunday morning and after a quick stop at Tim Hortons made a run for the border. We finally arrived home just after 6 Sunday night.

It was an awesome weekend spent hanging out with great friends and checking out cool motorcycles.  The show may not be something to do every year, but we sure enjoy the every other year road trip.

Thank you for driving Andy!!

- Au Revoir

" Travel, in the younger sort, is apart of education; in the elder, a part of experience." - Francis Bacon