Saturday, May 19, 2007

What a Sweetheart

I took the kid's new F800ST for a 300 mile ride today. Wow!

Have you ever ridden a bike where everything, I mean EVERYTHING is just right. Where the feel and sound and experince is an order of magnitude greater than the specifications. The F800ST is just that.

I have friends with K75's that just love them. I never had one, but the people that do never want to retire them and keep finding ways to ride them 20 years after they were made.

I think the F800ST is like this. No amount of looking at brochures, or pictures can explain the feeling of riding one.

I got this for my Kid, but WOW! I love the agility, the feel, the sound. I would not hesitate to jump on and ride across the country, or burn twisties with the local Squids.

It really is amazing. If I did'nt already have an 06 K1200GT , I think I would get one of these, and even more I could have this as my only bike.

So I am in love with a bike that technically does'nt belong to me. Oh well, such is life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Roto Tiller is gone, long live the F800ST

After the mothers day ride it was clear that I made a mistake when I let the kid pick out the Suzuki S40 for a real motorcycle. It was crude, low tech, and if used for anything other than short around town slow speed hops was as useless as a kick stand on a bass boat.

I have loved riding motorcycles ever since my mom got me a garage sale 50cc Sears Puch moped when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I have raced motocross, ridden every kind of left over junk bike imaginable, had several bad spills, and lots of not so bad ones in probably 300,000+ miles of riding over 40 years.

I want to introduce the Kid to this and see if it becomes a life long passion as it has with me, but I also know the dangers of riding motorcycles, and as a Dad want to teach safety, and I worry about the Kid getting splattered.

I think I have done a pretty good job, she wears ful gear, rides well, looks at all traffic as the enemy, never trusts turn signals, really rides safely. The one thing that was missing was a good modern bike with ABS and real brakes, and handling to get you out of bad situations that will eventually happen.

The kid and I have a long trip planned for the 1st 3 weeks of July, and this being her summer after her 1st year of college, she may not have this kind of time in her life as easily in the future. Also, if she really is going to ride a lot, I want to do everything I can to keep her safe.

So, I decided to ditch the roto tiller Suzuki S40 and get her a new 07 BMW F800ST.

What a wonderful bike, safe, ABS, handling, smooth even power curve, I love it, and I know she can handle it.

The dealer will install the hard side bags and the low seat at the 600 mile service, and for those BMW folks that get near Chicago, TAG Sport in Geneva Il is a great place to do business.

Well, I feel much better about the trip, and the Kid riding in general now. As far as the cost, I say it costs nothing as of the 1st time the ABS kicks in while stopping at a busy intersection with the front wheel sliding on a grease spot.

This was the right thing to do.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday Family Day Ride

Not being burdened by the usual Mothers Day rituals, the teenage kid was nice enough to participate in a "Family Day" ride with Dad.

We actually started quite late 1:00 PM but the morning was cloudy and a little cold.

We rode NW on US 52 from joliet to Savanna Illinois and the Mississippi Palisades State Park.

It really is sad that so many families never find the wonders of nature, but just drive to and from 'corporate' activities in their SUV's with the kids strapped into car seats like little Mercury Astronauts watching some mindless Disney brain washing thing on the in-SUV DVD player. I really feel sorry for these kids and their future.

This was the Kid's first long ride of the year. By the time we got back, we put on about 375 miles.

From Savanna, we took IL rt 84 ( The Great River Road ) down to US 30, and back to US 52.

By then it was dark, and I dont like riding 2 lane roads at night so we switched to the 'Slab' ( I - 80 ) back home.

We did stop at a rest area because by this time, the Suzuki S40 ( 650 Savage ) of the Kid's had exhibited enough single cylinder roto-tiller type vibration to wipe out the almost 19 year old, supposedly indestructible teenager.

It was a great day.

A few more pictures are in the album:


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A Beautiful Spring Day

The weather was perfect, the bike was running great, until the late afternoon it was in the middle 70's, and I had the opportunity to ride some of West Virginia's most scenic back roads.

I started in Winchester, VA , and took old US 50 to Capon Bridge WV where I turned off on WV 15 to Springfield VW, where 15 joins WV 28 up to Cumberland MD. WV 15 is a very old narrow 2 lane , so instead of burning the tires off, I spent the morning in 2nd and 3rd gear, but what a view. The road wound up and down mountains, within feet of old barns, this was real rural West Virginia like in "the coal miners daughter".
I rode up WV 28 to Cumberland MD where I got on I-68 until US 40 (National Road) split off tword Uniontown PA. US 40 has history around every bend, old toll houses, the original markers showing the distance to Wheeling, and from Cumberland. The view going west approaching Uniontown PA was simply breathtaking.

Past U-town, I stopped to take a pic crossing a lake:

What a ride.

Then past Washinton PA I got on I-70 to Wheeling WV. I should have gotten a pic of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, that was built in the middle 1800's but, while having an iced coffee I looked up and saw a perfect X in the sky from jet contrails:

Anyway, back on I-70 to the East Side of Columbus OH, where I am tonight. Wow, what a day.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Back to the Job From Hell

I thought everything was fine. It all worked. But some times one particular thing, person, job can cause more grief than it was ever possibly worth.

In this high tech world, one byte, statement, instruction out of order can make one ride 900 miles ( one way ) to spend 4 minutes fixing something.

Oh well. It will be a nice ride in any case.

I am off to Waldorf, MD to fix a PLC program where 1 byte of code is out of order.

Yesterday, knowing I was leaving on this trip I was looking at the tires on the K12GT.

The front was cupped, and the rear, well, it would have been to the cords by the time i got back. I guess getting older makes one take fewer chances, so off to the local Honda shop to see if they had something that would fit.

I now have Dunlop Sportmax tires on a K12GT. I know it is a waste, they will be gone in 6000 miles or less, but I really didn't want to be on the side of the road in East Armpit West Virginia with marginal cell service trying to find tires that fit the K12GT in the middle of a thunder storm. I prolly ( probably ) could have made the trip with the rear cords showing just as i returned, but, like I said, I am getting older.

Oh well, I am sure the West Virginia, and Maryland mountains will be fun with these sticky tires on the K12.

Friday Evening:

I am on the east side of Indy, in a dumpy Days Inn. Light rain most of the way down here, but it wasn't cold.

One of the pleasures of riding is discovering things when you least expect it. My gas light came on while on I-465, so I got off on Pendleton Pike. There is a great little restaurant there, The Heidelberg Haus, but that is another story. I drive for what seems forever before i run into a gas station, but about a mile up , the road is covered in hickory cooking ribs smoke. I get gas, then come back and had just superb rib tips with rice and candied yams.

Saturday May 5

Indy to Columbus OH:

The day could'nt make up it's mind. Hot and sunny, cool and threatening to rain. I would stop, take the rain pants off, then it would get cooler and look like showers, so I stop and put them on. Pants off, pants on, pants off again. I have empathy with strippers doing this all day.

Columbus to Washington PA:

Cold rain, the soaking all day steady cold kind of rain. Oh well, I lived, but it was cold and wet. A high point was stopping at Schlepps Family Restaurant at exit 208 on I-70. This is one of my usual places I hit when traveling this way. Notice that they are bike friendly, bike parking has priority, right in front of the windows where it should be.

Washington to Breezewood PA:

Uneventful but drying out was cold. at 8:00 PM eastern time , I just decided that I was done for the day.

Sunday, May 6

Beautiful clear day, a little windy, but the ride from Breezewood to Hagerstown was as usual very scenic. Going around the Beltway in DC was no fun, but it's Sunday, during the week it is insane.

Well I am herein Waldorf MD, and of course there is no easy fix so I will be up late chained to the computer. At least I have established that the problem isn't 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 .

Monday May 7:

Well I am still in Waldorf, MD. The easy way to explain this Job From Hell is to first show you what it is.

See the gray box? In it is a PLC ( Programmable Logic Controller ) and a touch screen. Why has this been so difficult, well the short answer is that I did not write the software, some one else did. The person that wrote it has a very different style than I do, and it really wasn't finished, or at least not debugged.

So, 3/4 of the battle is to just understand how it all fits together. Like one of those puzzles you try to assemble on a coffee table, except this one has about 4700 pieces and it has to match the touch screen puzzle on the adjoining end table.

And, there are no directions other than the pieces themselves. See why I have been whining?

Oh, and some of the pieces don't work because the table is broken, and the table parts will be here by FedEx tomorrow. After the table is fixed, and I put all the pieces that slid off the table back on, then we will see if I get to go home.

Tuesday, May 8:

It's done, finished, over. I stayed up last night and did major software surgery. Not the little stitches and patches, but gutted the thing and sewed it back up.

Today, I replaced the dead card, loaded it up, and with just one little change, it worked.

I am in Winchester Va tonight, and tomorrow I will start back on old US 50 through the West Va mountains. We will see how I can even off those flat spots on the center of my tires from the trip down, by reducing rubber content on the sidewalls.

I feel so good, that Tomorrow I will start a new chapter. The Job From Hell is over.