8 Ball In The Wind

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doubtful On Making The Toy Run

I just saw the forecast for the Olympia Toy Run Saturday.  100% chance of rain and highs in the mid 40's.  If I lived closer, I might still go even with the rain.  But riding 180+ miles in the rain (roundtrip, with a windchill of high teens to mid 20's) just to sit in a parking lot and get rained on until we ride through Olympia just doesnt even sound good.  But around here the only ones who believe the weather man are tourists and crazies.   So depending on what I wake up to on Saturday, I'll decide on whether I ride or not.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Olympia Toy Run

Well, next Saturday is the annual Olympia Toy Run.  A gathering of 15-20,000 bikes come rain, snow, or sun shine.  I am hoping that the weather this year will be decent, because it is an 90 mile one way run to Lacey, and making the trip on a cold wet day just doesnt sound like a lot of fun.
In the old days, there used to be big parties after the toy run, but I havent heard of any in many years.  But then, as we all know, things just arent like they used to be.
If the weather holds off to be at least halfway decent, a few of us will meet over at the Chevron here in Morton, and ride out about 8:30 and getting there in Lacey for the start about 10:00.  Then it is just a question of hanging out and waiting for the run to start.
I like being up towards the front, so I can get to the end and still watch all the bikes roll in after me.
We'll see how the weather is, and I'll try to post some pics.  But if it is pissing down rain, and 35 degrees, or snowing, I won't be going...Not this year.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Another Iron In The Fire

Well, I have been talking to a few people over the past several months about getting some sort of event for bikes put together here in this part of the state.  Economically, it makes sense.  Since most of the businesses here are struggling in an already economically depressed area, anything to help bring money into the region would be appreciated you would think.  Plus we have so many great places to ride to.  About an hours worth of riding will put you in the big city, or way back into the mountains where even the cell phones don't work.  God's own magnificent creations laced with twisting, climbing bike roads.  Three volcanoes, and a slew more mountains to visit and explore.
The are facilities that could be put to use for a bike show, vendor/entertainment area, and even a bike "rodeo".  Community service groups could make money from a "Biker's Breakfast", and even the local movie house has said in the past that they could run old motorcycle movies if a rally got started.  
So here is where I am...do I jump in and try to get people together and try to get something organized that will be a kick in the ass for the people here, and the riders in the Pacific Northwest...or do I just say it's too much work, I ain't even going to try?
Nah, that don't sound like me...I'll keep you posted on what I come up with, and what I am able to gt organized...if anything.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bike Survival Kit

After hearing that my next door neighbor had been missing in the mountains for the  past few days, I began thinking of what I would think was necessary to have in a kit incase I ever got lost, or broke down out in the middle of nowhere sometime.  There are a gazillion things people could pack along with them, but I am making my list up from experience, and training I have had with Search & Rescue over the years.  Plus, the fact it has to be able to be carried on a bike without taking up all the room in the saddlebags is another key factor.
Now since I figure a first aid kit as a separate item, I won’t go into what is included in that.  But a decent store bought one, along with an Ace Bandage, a roll of gauze, and a couple of feminine napkins (they make GREAT compresses), a tube of sunscreen and a roll of surgical tape should get you by.
Here is what I have included in a survival kit:
First Aid kit
6 inch Glow Sticks (2)
Spool of twine
Waterproof matches, full lighter, or flint and steel
Space Blanket
Flashlight & Batteries
Water bottle
Small tarp
While some of these things seem quite obvious, some may not.  So I’ll give a quick rundown on each item, and how they are used.  I am also quite sure, that if you think about it, there are a few things you could add to your own survival kit.  Try them, and see if they work for you.
First Aid Kit:  Like I said before, with just a few additions, a store bought first aid kit will handle most problems you’ll encounter. 
Whistle:  You know the kind.  The plastic, or metal, whistle your gym teacher used in school. They can be found in most outdoor shops.  When you are lost, hurt and can’t respond to searchers, a good loud whistle is worth its weight in gold.  The whistle will carry a lot further than your voice will, and its shrill sound is a definite attention getter out in the middle of nowhere.
6 in Glow Sticks:  Despite what you see on TV and in the movies, signaling to a plane or helicopter isn’t that easy.  Even if you are out in the open you may not get seen.  So you use one of the glowsticks, tied to about 6 feet of twine, and start twirling it like a lasso at arms length over your head.  Now you have just gone from being a small dot on the ground to a big round glowing object that stands out from the background even in the day time.
Spool of twine:  Use the twine to tie the tarp to your bike for a shelter if need be.  A 150ft long spool of twine is more than you’ll need, but still smaller than a 50ft coil of rope.  And, if you have to cut it later it’s no big deal.
Small tarp: Use it as a shelter to keep yourself out of the weather somewhat.  If you tie one end to the bike, you can tie the other end to rocks, or some other solid thing and you have a place to sleep that is fairly dry.
Knife:  Do I really need to tell you why you want this included?
Everything else on the list is so obvious as to why you should have it, I’m not going to waste your time or mine typing it all down.  It is just common sense, you want to stay as dry and warm as possible without always having a bunch of stuff weighing you down on the bike all the time.
I mean, think about it.  You go for a nice day ride up into the mountains, and end up finding some cool little road you never rode before.  Or you hear about some place that really peaks your interest, so you go check it out.  Then you break down, or worse, out in the middle of nowhere.  No cell service, and miles from the nearest phone.  Since no one knows for sure where you are, including maybe even you, it looks like you’re going to have to hunker down and overnight it.  Better to have a little something with you to keep yourself alive, and able to get the attention of anyone that DOES happen to come by.  Don’t you think?  I hope you never need it, but in this day and age, who knows what is going to happen.  So just take care and watch out for yourself.  If a little time spent putting a bike survival kit might keep you safe, I’d say it was worth it.  Wouldn’t you?
Catch ya on the road sometime…

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Salmon Poisoning In Dogs


It is that time of year again, the fish are running, and I spread the word about the dangers of Salmon Poisoning to your dogs.  I wish I knew a few years ago what I know now...I probably wouldn't have lost my Bertha Butt like I did.  Believe me, it is a horrible way for a dog to die.

Salmon Poisoning In Dogs

Salmon poisoning in dogs is from the ingestion of certain kinds of raw fish that contain parasites that are toxic to dogs.  If you suspect that your dog might have come in contact with these parasites, contact your veterinarian immediately since thus condition can cause death.

Salmon poisoning can be fatal.  It occurs when a dog takes into its mouth (not necessarily even consuming or swallowing anything) certain types of raw fish such as uncooked salmon or trout.  Salmon and other types of fish that swim upstream to breed can be infected with a parasite called Nanophyetus calmincola.  The parasite is harmless but many are infect with an organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeca that is the cause of the poisoning.  If you suspect that your dog was wandering near a stream or lake with wild fish, or their remains, or if the ate garbage that may contain fish, tell your veterinarian.
The disease is most common west of the Cascade mountain range of the Pacific Northwest.  Treatment is effective using a combination of a dewormer and antibiotics.
Generally clinical signs appear within six days of a dog contacting an infected fish, with death occurring within 14 days.  Left untreated, there is a 90% mortality rate in dogs.
Symptoms are severe and include:

*lack of appetite
*swollen lymph nodes
*bloody diarrhea

Your veterinarian will diagnose salmon poisoning by taking a stool sample or they can use a needle to extract liquid from a lymph node.  If the parasite’s eggs are detected or even suspected, given the risk of this illness, treatment will start.
Treatment includes an antibiotic and a dewormer to help with the parasite.  If your dog is dehydrated then intravenous fluid will be needed.  Once treatment has started there should be an improvement within 2 days.
REMEMBER, YOUR DOG DOES NOT NEED TO EAT THE FISH!!  Simply getting the slime from the fish into their saliva can be enough to cause infection.  If you suspect your dog has been in or near water with wild fish, bathe them, and watch them closely for symptoms.  REMEMBER, THERE IS A 90% MORTALITY RATE if left untreated.  Even if your dog is lucky enough to be among the 10% survivors, it is likely to have severe kidney damage and other serious health issues for the rest of its life.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lil' Blackie

Have you ever had or ridden; a bike that was just sweet as hell to look at, wicked fast in a straight line, but could become just plain wicked going down the road?  I used to have one.  A chopped ‘70 Norton Commando, that I called  “Lil’ Blackie”.

At least that is what I named her when I first bought her and brought her over to a friends garage to get her up and on the road.  But when I was riding her, I was usually too busy trying to keep her on the road to call her much of anything. 
When I bought her, it had been an impulse buy.  I had run across an ad for a “mostly complete” Norton chopper and two “parts bikes” that was only a few miles from where I lived in rural Washington state.  At the time, I had some cash burning a hole in my wallet (and I have a weak spot for Nortons) , so I called the guy.  

I took a buddy’s truck and took a look at it.  When he rolled up the garage door, the first thing I saw was that long springer front end seeming to stretch way back to a set of drag bars.  There wasn’t anything else in the garage except the boxes of parts against the back wall.  The guy was showing her off to her best look.  Her stance was nearly perfect.  Long and black with that springer glistening in the front.  I was already on the hook, and unless I saw something that scared me off in the next couple of minutes, she was going to get loaded up and hauled to my friends garage where I was going to get her back on the road.  As I unloaded her from the truck back at Cowboys farm, I was a happy camper.

For the most part, her drive train was that of a stock Norton Commando.  With the exception of having a right hand side jockey shift.  Up front was a waaay over stock springer that was quite “springy” as I found out the first time I rode her.  I also found out the hard way that she had too much trail, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  The frame was a variation of the Amen Saviour frame style that was popular for some reason on choppers in the 70’s and early 80’s.  If you don’t know what was so ‘different’ about that frame style, let me tell you about it.  Probably 95% of the frame looked like a cool raked rigid frame.  No swingarm, no shocks, nothing that didn’t need to be there.  That is, until you got to the back where the axle passed through the frame.  Instead of having the axle plates welded to the frame, they were welded to vertical springs that were housed in tubes at the rear of the frame.  This was meant to give a little rear suspension.

On a bike with telescoping forks, like a Triumph chop I had a few years before, it worked fairly well.  At least enough it could be dealt with.  Even with a springer front end, it worked ok.  That is, as long as you were on a pretty smooth and straight road.  Since the rear axle was independent of the frame, when you would lean into a tight turn, the rear axle tended to try to remain perpendicular to the road.  Which could make for a fair bit of excitement if you need to suddenly make a hard sharp turn.

So Lil’ Blackie not only had springs on her rear axle, her front was mounted in an overly long (and more than a bit flexible) springer front end.  I found out on the first ride I made on her that the trail was off by a couple inches, so she turned with the ease of a toddler going bowling.  She looked bad ass sitting still with that springer on.  But it tended to flex a bit, and would “hop” the front tire like a pogo stick if the pavement wasn’t nice and smooth.  She was a city bar hopper, and probably wouldn’t have been too bad on the freeway.  But on the old, uneven twisting back roads where I lived, she was a scary bitch.

After I had her all together, and the motor chugging in that way only an English vertical twin does, I had to take her for a quick test ride.  Now I have owned and ridden Nortons before.  So I knew all about having a right side shifting transmission with a 1st gear up, 2nd, 3rd and 4th gear down shifting pattern.  
I had even ridden a jockey shift before.  But that had been a left hand side, tank mount set-up, with a foot clutch.   Still, it felt really weird to pull in the clutch lever with my left hand, then take my right hand off the throttle and reach down behind my ass to grab the shifter knob, make the shift, reach back up to the throttle and let out the clutch again.

I killed the bike a couple times trying to get rolling down the driveway.  Then again, when I went to pull onto Orting-Kapowsin Highway.  Having to make the turn onto the highway was an experience, as I took almost the whole road to make the right turn onto the road, and had to turn left almost immediately to turn onto 288th St.  Both times it took a lot of force to get over the issue with that springers trail.  Taking the whole road and a bit to make the turns.  
But I was on 288th St now, and wouldn’t need to make a turn for about 3 miles or so.  I spent the first mile or so just getting used to this new way of shifting until it began feeling a bit more comfortable.  That’s when I dropped her all the way down into 4th gear and grabbed a fistful of throttle. 

Lil’ Blackie’s pipes sounded great, as her throttle response was quick for an old Commando.  We were flying down 288th St, and I tucked in behind the drag bars enjoying the ride.  About then we hit a stretch of road that had settled, leaving ripples and dips and chuckholes and patches all along the road.  Suddenly I think we were flying, or at least trying to.  Between the rear axle bouncing up and down, and the front tire merrily bouncing around, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the time both wheels were off the ground at the same time.  The front tire caught hold of a crack in the road and pulled hard to the right.  I was hanging on to the drag bars for all I was worth, letting off the throttle and using the Norton’s rear drum brake to slow down a bit as we skipped across the road together like in some perverse polka.

Once I got her down to about 30-35 mph (she didn’t have a speedo) everything seemed to mellow out again.  As long as I kept her just putting along on that old road she was fairly sweet.  But if I tried to give her some juice, she turned into some sort of mechanical bucking bronco trying to throw me into next week.
I finally made it to Meridian Ave, and had to fight her to not take more than the road had to make the turn.  Since Meridian was a state Highway, it was a bit wider, and much smoother than 288th had been.  I brought her up to about 80, and just flew down the road with no trouble at all.  That is until I had to slow down for the light at 304th.  That is where I had planned on turning around anyway, so when the old Norton rear drum brake finally got me slowed down enough, I swung into the parking lot of the gas station at the corner, and rolled back through it the other way.  The parking lot being so much wider than the road, I didn’t have any trouble getting turned around.  Getting that “chopper flop” on the front wheel fixed was definitely going to be a top priority.  As well as replacing those springs on the axle plates with normal axle plates, to eliminate her wanting to dance around the road.

I headed back to the garage at a much more relaxed pace.  I knew what I had to do to make her “perfect”, or as close as I would ever need her to be.  When I rolled back into the driveway, I was getting used to how she handled, but still didn’t like it.  So I was planning on stripping her down to the frame, and having a friend replace the springs with axle plates, and to get another to help fab up some pivot arms to alleviate the chopper flop.  But that was going to have to wait, as I had a Dr’s appointment the next day, and that was to prove a life changing visit.

The Doc dropped a bombshell on me that next day.  I had a brain tumor, and couldn’t drive…and no way could I ride a bike again.  Since I didn’t have the money for all the medical bills that were coming, and I couldn’t see leaving what could have been such a sweet ride just sit, I sold Lil’ Blackie.  I sold all of my spare parts, and only kept one bike, my old Norton P11A ‘Lola’.  But in the end, I sold her too a few years later.  It was several years after they removed the brain tumor that I had recovered from it, and recovered from the side effects of the surgery.  I always knew I would ride again, and eventually I was back on two wheels where I belonged. 

I often wonder what happened to Lil’ Blackie, and if someone had taken the time to fix her properly to tame her wild ways.  I’ll never know, but somehow I think, or hope they did.  She would have been one hell of a sweet chop to ride after they did.

Catch ya on the road sometime…

Getting There

Heading to a buddies with a BIG compressor this weekend.  That should fix the tire situation.  Hoping to get the tire and wheel back on the back by the end of the weekend.  I'll feel a hell of a lot better when I have Gypsy back together so I can ride her until I tear into the top end in a couple months.

Well, gonna post a nice long one here in a bit, so...

Catch ya on the road sometime...