Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crappy Weather

As my Grandpa used to say, "The weather is in the crapper."

With all the rain we've been having I've been thinking of that phrase and wondering to myself, Why do we reference toilets so much in regards to the weather? Maybe as motorcycle enthusiasts we are out in the elements more than the SUV drivers out there.

Could it be that we received a toilet shaped Hot Wheels when we were a kid?

Or maybe our potty training occurred on wheels....

I think the problem could be that when kids are given these products as children they develop an affinity for what one can do with a combination of toilets and wheels as they get older. They might convert them to toilet trikes....

or toilet trikes with a modicum of privacy.....

If they are feeling particularly patriotic they could paint one with the flag....

Although I think you have to live in the South to think that up. I'm guessing Kentucky or Tennessee. And if you own that model, this display in your front yard is a must....

If you prefer four wheels instead of three they can design something just for you....

And if you like to carry a passenger.... no problem.....

For the fancy pants ladies out there they could even 'pimp your ride'.......

For those race fans out there I am sure they could devise something for you too....

All that hard work and creativity must not be easy. I am thinking one would have to drink a lot of coffee to come up with some of those ideas and stay awake into the wee hours of the morning executing the designs. Wonder what kind of mugs they'd use for their coffee......

Of course all these crappy photographs have nothing to do with the weather but I thought it was a good segue.

All in all, I guess our weather hasn't been too bad. Rain, rain, and more rain. I'd prefer more sunshine, but at least it isn't snow. I don't have to shovel rain.

We woke to a chilly 25˚F (-3.8˚C) this morning and we are expecting more of the same the next few days. However, we were rewarded with a nice sunny day today. So what is better? Riding in the rain and having the temperature in the high 40's (+9˚C), or riding in the sunshine and having a high temperature in the mid 30's (+4˚C)?

- Au Revoir

"I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness." ~ Adeline Knapp


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Potato, potahto


Tomato, tomahto;

Chateaux, chatoe;

....wait, what?

On our way home from Salem last Saturday we were driving down Independence Highway and saw a sign for "Rogue Hopyard and Chatoe." Our interest was piqued. We'd never noticed the sign before. By the time we passed a second sign it was time to turn around. Due to the unique spelling of the word chateaux we decided to follow the signs and see where they'd lead.

We drove past one more sign. This time Troubadour stopped the car to take a picture.

Now, we knew that Wings of Wonder was a butterfly house but the 'Chatoe' still intrigued us. It was beckoning us like a siren's song.

At some point we'd made a wrong turn. After Troubadour consulted the Garmin and RickRick consulted the web browser on his smart phone we did a U-turn and were on the right track. A 'Chatoe' sign at the junction would have been helpful, rather than the one that simply read 'dead end.'

We took turns guessing what it might be. Sign maker spelled it wrong? Marketing scheme to lure unsuspecting travellers? Part French for cat's foot? Hmmmmm....

We know there is a Rogue Brewery in Newport, as we have been there many times to eat chowder. It in itself is quite interesting. You walk through an old red silo to get to the door and walk through the brewery and gift shop before you climb some stairs to the restaurant where you are rewarded with a nice view overlooking the harbour. We haven't been there for a while but the food used to be pretty tasty.

I'm getting a little off topic. Back to Saturday...... As we drove down the dead end road we found ourselves driving by fields and fields of what once was hops. Hop fields to the left, hop fields to the right, hops hops hops. You can always tell a hop field by the poles supporting the trellis lines.

Eventually we were greeted by this sight.

We thought the date on the sign was particularly interesting...

We circled the driveway and found this building - the tasting room and gift shop.

We knew by the red stars and signs they were in fact connected to the Rogue Brewery in Newport.

Turns out that this hopyard grows all the hops for the Rogue Brewery and Chatoe is the name of one of their signature lines of beer. This is on their label...

A 360˚ look around their circular driveway will show you the many buildings involved in hop harvesting and processing.

Part way around the drive you can see a small waterfall and bridge in the distance....

According to their literature the Rogue Hop Farm is on the historic former John Haas Alluvial Hop Farm. They grow seven hop varieties on 42 acres. All hops are harvested and baled on the farm. They have over 55,000 square feet of hop harvesting equipment, and a private beach on the Willamette River. They also are in the process of setting up a nano brew system at Chatoe Rogue named Farmstead Brewery. People will be able to sample guest batches of beer as well as take a tour of the hopyard, processing facility, private beach and Hop 'n Bed.

The Hop 'n Bed is a century farmhouse that was once used as a boarding house for the children of the Alluvian Hop Farm workers. Apparently it is a 5-bedroom house that sleeps 14 and can be rented for weddings, retreats, reunions, etc.

On the way out we took one more picture of this sign and hop field.

This picture also highlights some of the roads travelled to get to the Chatoe. We all decided it would be a great adventure to return in the spring or summer on the bikes to see the hops while in bloom and to take the tour.

-Au Revoir

"Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed - Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, 'It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver." - Jack Handy


Friday, December 17, 2010

Monster Triple

When it comes upgrading my ride, I believe I finally have it narrowed down to two bikes....

The Triumph Street Triple (pic is of an R)....

Or the Ducati Monster 696......

Oh sure, there are more bikes on the short list such as a Suzuki Gladius (yes I like it, because it is different)....

BMW G650GS......

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic.......

and Triumph Bonneville SE........

....... but I think the Monster and Triple are my favorites followed by the Gladius in third place.

When it comes to looking at bikes, I do have one advantage over a lot of lady riders and that is my height. I am just a 1/4 inch shy of 5'8" with a 32 inch inseam.

I have sat on the Street Triple several times at the Triumph Dealer in Eugene. At one point he had a demo model. I'm not sure if he still has it, but I know he'd let me take it out if he does. I have heard good things about the Triple and you can't beat the sound of that engine. What I don't like is the location of the foot pegs when your feet are on the ground. They seem to be in the exact location of my calf muscle or shins depending on if I put my foot in front of or behind it. Troubadour tells me I'd get used to that and not even notice it after a while.

I want to be able to flat foot the bike when maneuvering out of the garage or parking. I know there are a lot of people that can lean to one side, but the falling over sensation is just not for me. I don't even like my office chair to be able to lean back. Again, Troubadour says it is something that I would get used to, but I dunno. The seat height on the Monster is 30.3" and the seat height on the Triple is 31.3" on the regular and 31.7" on the R. Doesn't seem like a big difference but your legs aren't straight down when stopped, they have to bend to straddle the seat, which takes away some length.

I have always admired the look of the Ducati Monsters, yet hadn't sat on one until the show on the weekend. The only way I can think of to describe it is that it felt comfortable. I didn't get to sit on it long, but I can tell you I can flat foot it and I don't remember the foot pegs jamming me in the legs.

We have a Ducati dealer just down the street from the Triumph dealer in Eugene. I am not sure if they have a demo to ride but I plan to check it out. At any rate, I want to be able to sit on it some more and give it the once over without all the people milling around waiting to have their turn at the show. I want to make an educated and informed decision.

Another factor to consider is cost and maintenance. Monsters are a lot easier than a Triple to find used which is a plus, but how expensive is the maintenance? Someone mentioned to me that the Ducati's expensive valve checks can now go twice as long before needing service. Not sure if this is true or not. I don't put a huge amount of mileage on in a year so how long would it take to really need maintenance besides oil changes. The other side of the coin is that when it comes to Triumph I have a very patient in house mechanic to teach me the ropes and we have an established relationship with our local dealer. No other owners of dealerships give me hugs when I visit.

I've had the TU since the end of March and have 2,000 miles on it and have done one oil change. I would have liked to put more miles on it this last summer, but was not able to go on some group rides due to the terrain and passes that were en route. No matter if we go east or west we have some sort of a pass to go over and some rides include some freeway, which the TU will do, but just barely. If I had a slightly larger more capable bike I think I would put more miles on it. Heck it even might be worth suiting up for my 3 miles commute. Something I don't do now. I ride ATGATT so it is not worth it for the 3 mile ride through town.

Another consideration for me is the weight of the bike. One of the problems I had with the Ninja is that it felt top heavy to me. When it accidentally took a nap on Troubadour, he said that it went over pretty easy and really fast as well as unexpected. The Street Triple has a wet weight of 416 lbs and the Monster's wet weight is 404 lbs. Pretty close I'd say. Makes the Bonneville seem heavy at 495 lbs, but the center of gravity on that bike is pretty low.

A 'tres cool' site to check out when looking at bikes is (<-- click to take you there) It is a website where you can enter your height and inseam length by clicking the + and - signs and then click the Make and Model to see how you would fit on a certain bike. Here is one I entered with my height and inseam for the Street Triple....

And for the Monster......

And even the Gladius.....

It doesn't have every make, model or year but it gives a person the general idea of degree of knee bend and forward lean angle. Another cool feature is the box you can check to put your feet down. It will show you with seat height how your feet will touch the ground and there is even a box to account for bar risers and such. It shows a line where the ground is and whether or not you can touch it or are flat footed with room.

It is a great site to play with and even have fun putting yourself on bikes you know you'd never buy. Good way to waste 10 minutes or so. It is amazing how much research you can do on the internet. It helps to narrow down options, but I don't think there is any substitute for sitting on bikes and kicking tires. Speaking of research, Geoff over at Confessions of an Ageing Motorcyclist linked me to his reviews of his Street Triple. Thank you Geoff, you are a wealth of information. Keep those updates coming.

I am not in a hurry due to the time of year and how much I like to research before I can actually make a decision. For now I shall scour the net to see what I can see and, oh darn, we'll just have to visit lots of motorcycle dealers on the weekends. Somehow I think Troubadour will be good with that. We happen to have a few days or more off over the holidays and have no plans since we don't celebrate the holidays (freethinkers that we are). Maybe we'll go window shopping and see what we can drool over.

I'm thinking Trobairitz on a Triple has a nice ring to it. I do believe that Troubadour would be a sad panda if I brought a Ducati home. His Tiger doesn't play well with ducks. She seems to tolerate the TU reasonably well though.

I would love to be able to find an amazing deal like what Troubadour found on his Tiger, but I won't hold my breathe. Maybe if the rain isn't too bad over our days off we'll ride to Eugene. It's best to sit on bikes you are thinking of purchasing while wearing full battle regalia. This will put some more miles on the TU and let us drool over bikes at the same time. Sounds like a pretty nice way to spend a few days off.

-Au Revoir

"The inability to make a decision has often been passed off as patience." ~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Road Tripping the Light Fantastic

DAY ONE: At 4:30 Saturday morning Troubadour and I reluctantly dragged our behinds out of bed to get ready for the road trip to Seattle for the International Motorcycle Show. In the pouring rain at 5:45 am RickRick picked us up in Tedward the Isuzu Trooper and with a quick stop to pick up Bolty we were on our way .

We stopped in Wilsonville at Starbucks for a potty break and a pick-me-up. Sufficiently rested and coffee in hand we headed north again. We made a few stops along the way for gas and to stretch our legs. Soon enough we were at Qwest Field Events Center and looking for our friends Douglas and Eddy who journeyed up together for the day.

This picture shows them hamming it up at the Honda booth. Eddy on the left and Douglas on the right.

Bolty went off to volunteer at the women's center booth and the rest of us headed for lunch as we were starving. Luckily a Pyramid Alehouse was only a short walk. We were too hungry to take pics, but we did have a nice meal of battered fish sandwiches and club soda. It was nice to relax and visit with some friends we hadn't seen in a while.

Back to the show we went and wandered around to look at the bikes and take some pictures.

Troubadour sat on a Harley but wasn't impressed....

He was equally unimpressed with the Victory finding it quite long.

Rick sat on a Victory and Eddy helped him mug for the camera....

I found the 2011 Suzuki TU 250. I like my red one better, but why does it look so small with me perched on it?

Troubadour tried on some Arai helmets..... ooooh...... ahhhhh....

I saw this t-shirt and had to take a picture. Funny how shirts like these don't usually come in sizes large enough to cover those who need it the most,wink-wink, nudge-nudge..... Don't ask me why the mannequin was cold, I have no idea....

Speaking of headlights, I was intrigued by this ensemble....

Time for a group picture....

Rick having entirely too much fun on the Honda Fury.....

Me on the Suzuki GS 500F (wish it wasn't an F model)

And after much texting and playing "Marco - Polo" through the Expo Center we caught up with Bobskoot and Mrs. Skoot. I managed to get Bobskoot and Troubadour to stand still long enough to pose for a picture.

I found the most comfortable and my favorite bike at the show was the Ducati Monster 696. (Of course Triumph wasn't there or it may have had a different outcome)

When looking at the specs, the ergonomics are almost identical to a Triumph Street Triple while the cost is about $500-$1000 less. I have been warned away though due to the rumored high cost of maintenance and upkeep. Any info and/or experience in this area I would appreciate hearing.

Having wandered around for almost 5 hours we made our way back to the parking garage and took a few pics on the way.

We found the hotel and checked into our room. Standard room, king bed, nothing to get excited about. However, I was impressed with the cleanliness and we left housekeeping a nice tip upon checkout Sunday morning.

Rick suggested Buca di Beppo for dinner. It was a great family style Italian restaurant. We ate way too much but it was nice once again to sit and visit with friends we had not seen in a while. We did not get any pictures in the restaurant but Bobskoot had his camera at the ready and I'm sure he will favor us with some pictures. The food was amazing, as was the Frozen Peach Bellini.

We returned to the hotel and sat around the gas fireplace drinking juice and visiting some more. Soon it was 10:30 and we all headed to our rooms to turn in. I think we finally made it to bed by about 11:30.

All in all it was a great day..... stay tuned for day two.

-Au Revoir

"Friends are relatives you make for yourself." ~ Eustache Deschamps