Thursday, June 26, 2008

One screw, one and a half hours later

Giving my Concours a much needed bath, I noticed that the rear fender assembly was loose on one side. I found the culprit screw that was completely unscrewed on the left side of the rear end. I tried to start the screw into the fastener for twenty minutes without removing anything on the bike. Then with a Clymer Manual in hand, I remove the side luggage, the side luggage posts, the side luggage bar, the top case, the top case mounting plate, the mounting plate spacers, the bungee hooks, and finally the rear fairing to reveal and give access to the screw and fairing u-nut for the rear fender. The u-nut wouldn't line up for me. Luckily, I had ordered a supply of fairing u-nuts when I ordered the black stainless steel screw set for the Connie. Once the new u-nut was in place the screw went right into place and the rear fender assembly was secure. While frustration simmered during the process, I felt a sense of accomplishment by taking so much of my motorcycle apart and back together. Far from a waste of time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Teaching for vacation

With my wife having relatively less vacation than I do, my vacation accruals are usually on the high side. The university is going to a system that will not allow us to carry more than 247 hours and I was sitting on close to 300 hours. Therefore, I signed up to teach 2 daytime Motorcycle classes at Joliet Junior College, one in June and one in July. The daytime classes run from 9-1 M-F. Last week was the first class. The facilities and set-up are great with one minor exception. The container for the motorcycles is a good distance from the range. The students have to push the motorcycles maybe 300 yds. The real downside is that to transition from the range to the classroom takes a solid 30 minutes. The class had the best passing ratio for me yet. 11 of 12 students passed the course and will receive the license waiver.

After each class I had an opportunity to stop and see my wife at work. Since she works in Joliet and I work in the city, this never happens. We were able to go to lunch a few times last week as well.

One other bonus was that I had time to drop by Conrad's HD Buell dealership in Joliet. Their shop is new and huge. I was able to demo ride the Buell Ulysses XB12XT while I was there. I like how the bike handled and the ergonomics. This version has the 3 hard bags. The heat from the exhaust was cooking my right leg. I mentioned that to the sales guy and he said that all motorcycles are hot on the legs (not mine of course).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wedding Anniversary

Well it has been 5 wonderful years of marriage so far. The anniversary was celebrated with a weekend getaway to Galena, IL. So why post this on my MC blog you may ask. While we drove the Hyundai Santa Fe, I was surrounded by motorcycles all weekend. The frequency of them increased once past Rockford, IL. The terrain after Rockford begins to have gentle rolls and progresses to nice twisty hills with great views popping out here and there. The majority of motorcycles being ridden were Harleys. From the beginning of my MC riding, Harley's weren't a good fit for me. So I can't tell you what is a soft tail, electra glide, etc... Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Harley Davidson motorcycles and those who ride them, my riding style (or lack thereof) and budget will keep me in sport touring for awhile. But I digress.

My wife commented on the lack of riding gear and helmets on the great majority of riders. The exceptions were often on sportbikes, Goldwings, or European steads. Abigail saw for the first time just how many women are out on their own rides. She asked she needed to get a license and her own bike. My reply, only is that is what you are wanting to do, no pressure from me. Abigail's comfort would be the only reason that I would get a Goldwing or Yamaha Royal Star Venture. They aren't the kind of bike that I want to ride and Abigail knows it. For now, the Connie will suffice until it's paid off.

Below is a picture of a row of bikes parked at the hotel we stayed at in Galena (Ramada). They were all Harley's and giving into stereotypes when were arrived late Saturday evening, I figured the swimming pool would be full of tattooed dudes. The pool was empty. Sunday morning, I noticed a number of women in riding apparel, jeans, boots, Harley jackets, etc... Then outside it was apparent that all of these Harleys were owned and ridden by women as they were drying off the bikes from the overnight rain. It should have surprise me. In motorcycle class that I just finished teaching, 8 of the 12 riders were women. Diversity of all type is great!

Planning to get to Galena, I recommend the Galena Ramada. The hotel has a nice sized property behind the actual hotel with gardens, a pond, and large decks. This time we ate at Vinnie Vanucchis and Fried Green Tomatoes. The roast duck at Fried Green Tomatoes was the best dish all weekend.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Passions discovered

I fathered my two eldest children while in high school, got custody of them while in college, was a single parent until after they finished high school. That situation alone limited my exposure or time available for passions. Don't get me wrong, we were active and had plenty of wonderful experiences. Two of my current passions were discovered in my late 30's. The first is that I met and married my wife Abigail. We just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary (more about that on my next blog). The second is that my step-daughter encouraged me to take the Basic Motorcycle Class and the rest is history. I grew up riding minibikes and a small Honda standard in my teens, but no riding experience until I took the class with Ebony. Immediately after the class, Ebony bought a new Kawasaki Ninja 250. We put over 2000 miles on that bike. At the end of the first season, after much thought, I purchased my own Kawasaki Concours in October of 2005.

We sold the Ninja last summer because Ebony was in a MS program at Boston University. She will begin Medical School at Boston University this Fall. I am sure that she will have a motorcycle soon after becoming a doctor. Ebony in Boston: