Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good and Productive Weekend

Saturday started early, the To-Be-Sold Honda had been loaded on the trailer Friday evening, so the 6AM cold rain and sleet really didn't really bother me; it's a good thing I hadn't planned on riding up to Mpls for coffee.  With many of the guys attending other events, turnout in the back room was low but we managed well enough regardless.

From there it was up to Stacy with the '76 XL350 on the trailer, the rain at times rather heavy but by the arranged meeting time, the rain had stopped.  The transaction was complete, time with some friends, one old and one new, was spent and it was back to the Twin Cities to pick up another bike, this time my brother's old (and first) bike, a '70 Honda SL100.

The little Honda has been in the family since 1970 and at least for the time being, will stay.

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear, our 'herd' of deer anxious to be out browsing and enjoying the warming sun.

Heading into Red Wing to pick up some lumber for the Raised Beds that I had promised Peg meant that I had to stop at the Rental store to pick up a Sod Cutter as well.  The Cutter rented, the lumber and extra top soil on the trailer, it was back home and time to get some work done.

With one Raised Bed already built a couple of years ago, two more had been requested as Mother's Day/Birthday gifts for Peg.  In years past, our gardens have ranged from a few tomatoes to almost an entire acre if you count the vine plants and sweet corn.  The last couple of years saw our smallest gardens ever, with even less produce growing that when we had our small city lot in St. Paul.

This area had once been a big part of our garden, then it wasn't, now it is ........again ;)

With the sod removed and the frames built, I cut the edges down to fit the sideboards.  Tomorrow evening I'll finish by digging the boards in a bit deeper, turning over the existing soil inside and adding topsoil to bring the level up within a few inches of the top of the boards.

Though they didn't help with the shoveling or even get dirty, I'd like to extend many thanks to Mr. E. Vedder, Ella, Mr. Lightfoot, Eva Cassidy and Claude Debussy for their much appreciated help today.

Happy Birthday Peg and a great Mother's Day!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Making adjustments

Yesterday (Saturday the 14th) was a day of adjustments that all seemed to work out well, as most adjustments,  taken with a bit of thought, experience and foresight, do, at least most of the time ;)

I was up early, excited to take the new black Morphous up to Diamond's for our weekly coffee gathering.  Suited up, ear plugs in, GPS turned on and reset, the long and low scooter was pushed outside.  Only one of the cats had sneaked inside before I got the big door down, so she had to be coaxed out with sweet nothings; luckily she's the one cat that my success rate with such action is relatively high.

Key on, starter button pushed and the motor turned over once before the solenoid started clicking.  I jumped up, pulled the battery panel off to access the terminals and stuck the 2 amp charger on for a few minutes.  Seeing the digital output reading on my fancy new battery charger gave me hope as well as concern when the "Battery Condition" too quickly showed 100%.  One more push of the starter button took the battery down to 8 volts and I knew the Morph ride was being postponed.

The other Yamaha, the TW200 (sarcastically, the reliable one) happened to be the one in front, so I pushed that outside and headed off in the faint light of dawn, rain drops and fog.  Before I had gone 20 miles, I'd been through thick fog and rain and by the time I was half way to Minneapolis, there was sunshine and fog so full of sunlight that it was almost worse than the dark fog I'd ridden through earlier.  Couple all of that with my forgetting that the gas tank had been very close to Reserve on my last ride and an indirect detour near the Twin Cities, made my normally early arrival something that wasn't to be this time.

The coffee was good, the Deluxe Burrito seemed especially so.  The morning cleared up, the temperature warmed and life was good out along the sidewalk on Central Avenue.

After the ride home, I unloaded and made room in the small tankbag on the TW so that I could stop at Frontenac Honda to purchase a battery.  They had more than one in stock, checked the condition of the Gel battery with their meter and after a few minutes of motorcycle talk, I left after cramming the battery in the tank bag, the can of chain lube in my jacket pocket.

It was too nice of day to be messing around with the battery, so I left it on the workbench, and since I was anxious to get some more miles on the GT250R, I parked the TW and got ready to head down to Alma for lunch on the small sportbike.  Finished with the Lunch Special at Pier 4, I headed north and east on mostly paved roads, though I found some gravel for the day as well.

There are so many great roads to ride in the area and re-riding them is never a hardship, but I'm forever looking for any that I've not been on before and yesterday I found a couple of them.  Often it seems simply riding them in the other direction makes it challenging to remember if they've been visited before though normally I'm quite good at recognizing something along the way that ties a former ride and machine together as a reminder.  I purposely changed my direction on a few of them for the day.

At the crest along County H.......

An always very quiet and scenic Cole Road.......

I found great pleasure yesterday in having the chance to speak with two young riders, one young woman just starting her riding experience with proper training, attitude as well as good riding gear and a young man who's been riding off-road for many years but only recently taken up road riding.  Both of them college students, it was very refreshing and encouraging to listen to them share their stories of riding, justification of riding and attitudes.  C and J, ride safe and do well!

The valleys and distant hills along Julson Ridge......

With this coming week's rain, there will be an explosion of green here in the next few days.

Now, back to my theme of  "Making Adjustments".  On these small roads and even some of the larger, faster ones, my rides take me past many small, local cemeteries. I stop every so often if something happens to catch my eye, possibly location, surrounding topography, nearness to something else, etc.  The stop that made me do a U turn yesterday was due to a couple of factors, one of which was the fact that I happened to notice a cemetery that hadn't caught my eye before ( I do remember where many of them are, though not all of course).  Between that and the fact that there were very fresh tire tracks in the long grass made me go back to take a better look.  The area is very isolated and private with no dwellings or farmsteads nearby, at least modern ones.  Part of my joy of riding these roads is imagining what it must have been like back when so many families struggled on these now-quiet roads with their 40 or 80 acre farms.  Little or no trace of them remains, at least obviously from the road, though I'm sure that the older locals either knew much of the former residents or are those former residents in places long turned to overgrown patches.

So, though I normally wouldn't have stopped, something made me pull over yesterday.  I parked the bike in the tall grass out in front, grabbed the camera and walked back on the ridge among the headstones and markers.  Of course there were many old ones, commemorating folks from a century or two ago but there were many new, updated stones honoring those previous generations as well, replacing markers that had crumbled or spoiled.

What struck me and gave me pause were the more-than-one series of headstones honoring infant or young children, all from the same family.  Appreciating the fact that youthful passing was much more prevalent once than it is now, I still find it extremely hard to imagine going through it once, let alone multiple times.  I spent more than a few minutes yesterday in that quiet place trying to get some perspective on their lives as well as my own.

A lovely, combined trips day of 365 miles that I both appreciated and was very thankful for.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Morph vs Helix details

I've been curious and I've been asked, so here are the cold hard facts as published.........
(heights assume OEM windscreens, my Helix is, the Morphous is not)

Helix   (1986 - 2007)

Length            -    89.2 in
Wheelbase     -    63.8 in
Weight           -    369.7 lb
Overall width  -    29.3 in
Overall height  -    53.3 in
Seat height      -    26.2 in
Minimum turn 
    radius          -   my guess? much > 110.2 in
    clearance     - 5.7 in

Morphous   (2007 -2009)

Length           -   93.3 in
Wheelbase    -    63.6 in
Weight          -    441 lb
Overall width  -    32.5 in
Overall height  -   41.3 in
Seat height      -   25.8
Minimum turn 
    radius          -  110.2 in
    clearance     - 4.13 in

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Morphous finally arrives

I say finally because this particular Yamaha Morphous (2007 model) was owned by some friends and at least as I remember things, mention was made to them a couple of years ago that if they were ever in the mood to sell it, to please let me know.  Over the winter, an email arrived wondering if I was still interested.......I was and responded to confirm.  We decided that we'd wait for better weather and a couple of weeks ago, that weather arrived.  With a visit during the week and today's License Center transaction, the deal was complete.

Our daughter came along (early) up to Diamond's with me for traditional Saturday coffee so that I could ride the scooter home, she following in the car.  After the normal lies and old, told-as-often-as-required stories, the two of us left for the southern suburb, arriving at the agreed upon time for the official transfer process.  Last minute info was shared about the scooter's few quirks and highlights, I then suited up for the rainy, 50 degree ride home.

The Morph made the trip with aplomb, never missing a beat and handling the blustery south wind very well.  The tall Jurock windshield shook a bit in the blasts but provided much appreciated coverage.  I left my earplugs home, deciding that this one time I'd ride without to listen for any suspicious sounds, heard none, deciding that going without the plugs was a mistake.  Once on the 4 lane highway, I maintained the posted 65mph no problem, being passed by many, the prevailing speed seemed to be 70 or more.  We stopped at the half way point for lunch, then made the rest of the 60 mile trip home after our hot soup.

Impressions from the hour's ride mostly match my short test ride mid-week on the quiet suburban residential streets.  The Morph feels smoother, a bit quieter, geared slightly taller ( maybe it's just a higher redline - 9000 RPM?) with slightly less weather coverage than my Helix.  Seat of the pants power feels about the same, but I'll be a better judge of that after spending more time on roads that better reflect my normal riding.

As mentioned above, the only optional equipment is the taller Jurock shield.  I'll add a couple of power outlets for my GPS and tender/heated gear/charger access.  A luggage rack for this one isn't in the cards; my MotoFizz bag should supplement the underseat and trunk storage just fine.

3650 miles on the odometer today, ready for many more.

Just Gotta Scoot's review of the Morphous

Scootdawg forum comparison Morphous vs. Helix

Sunday, April 1, 2012

First Helix ride in '12

The Helix was the last machine in the garage to be readied for the new riding season.  The new front tire was installed, new drive belt, new air cleaner and new battery completed the work.  Since I was waiting for the weekend and some reasonable weather, today (4/1) was my first chance to go for a ride.  We had 44 degrees and heavy, fog-laden air early this morning around the time that I'd have preferred to start riding.  Since the weather was less than ideal, I decided that I'd head down to Alma for breakfast and arrive about 9:30.  That meant a departure time of around 8:45.

Lake Pepin, Minnesota side......

Once I had my riding gear on, the Helix was rolled outside and it started instantly and settled down into a smooth idle.  Using US 61 down to Wabasha, I then crossed the Mississippi River into Nelson, then headed south to Alma.  It never really rained, but there were a few drops of accumulated moist air on the windshield by the time I arrived at Pier4.  Normally arriving earlier, today I found a busy and full restaurant.  Tables inside were busy, so even though the waitress reminded me that the thermometer above my table reported 46 degrees, I sat down at my pick of tables.  The fog had left some moisture on the table, so everything was very 'fresh'.

The coffee and food were hot, steamy and went down very quickly.  After one of my quicker Alma breakfasts, I suited up again and headed into the hills, pointed away from the river.  It had been awhile since I'd ridden the length of Buffalo Co. "U" (normally seem to only cross it), so I stuck with it until I got to "X", then turned onto the gravel Schneider Road.  There was a lot more rutting than gravel, so I had to watch what I was doing; the long wheelbase Helix felt like it was Crabsteering half of the time.

From there, back onto my favorite section of County "Q", a shortcut down to #121 and north on Independence Road, another short but scenic favorite.  The sky was just beginning to show some blue spots and the bright patches of green were shifting quickly in the valley's beyond.

County "BB"......

On "Coddie Klink", another one of the region's very creatively named roads.....

Stopped in Whitehall for a sandwich, then wound my way down "D" and "T", stopping in Arcadia for a break.  I didn't even have my helmet off yet when I saw a bunch of headlights approaching, one of the bikes (rider and machine unrecognized by me) came over and pulled up right next to me.  Brent, an old friend was leading a group of riders and they were stopping for a lunch break.  The group had split into two groups of 5 with 3 of the 10 old friends of mine.  Some stories were shared over the convenience store food at the outside picnic table before the groups continued on with their rides.  Good to see you Brent, Deb and Ray!

Leaving Arcadia, I decided to avoid #95 up the hill to the west (I didn't really need 130+ hp sportbikes coming up from behind), taking the parallel, switchback'd Ziegeweid Valley Road, then used Canada Ridge and Waumandee Creek Road to get back out to #35.  A stop in Nelson for a Raspberry Truffle cone and then home.  A nice 210, casual days' ride.