« December 2004 | Main | February 2005 »

January 31, 2005

Death Valley Daze X

Over the past weekend my neighbor Jim and I travelled to Death Valley on our motorcycles. The occassion was Death Valley Daze, a Rally organized by BMW riders and some Adventure riders. We departed Thursday night at 5pm and took highway 152 east to the 99 south and ended up in Bakersfield. We stopped off at a bar called Fishlips for a drink. It was open mic night and some young guys were jamming on stage. I asked the host if I could perform and he said go for it. I preformed the old "Dirty Song - A night at the Deli." While playing I noticed a few people paying attention to my illicit/descriptive lyrics and that was good. The last time I played this tune was last June, so this time I dissapointedly missed the punch line of the song -- "How could I replied. It looks like a taco cut up with a cleaver." When I was done I got off the stage and wanted to get the hell out of there. Jim was laughing. A couple of people complimented me. We rode over to the EZ-8 Motel and got a room for $46 and grabbed a quick meal at Denny's. It was raining in the morning and we had to depart for Death Valley. We took the Tehachapi pass east throught the rain and as we got into the Death Valley area the rain stopped. I managed to stay dry by putting on my rain suit over my Aerostich. Although the 'Stich is considered waterproof, now was not the time to test it. We stopped in Ridgecrest to stock up on vodka, Chunky, Gatorade, warm gloves, tarps and a colapsable camping chair. In the parking lot of the Big K we met Joe Denton another BMW rider, who knew Jim. He too was heading to the rally. We arrived at the Furnace Creek campground around 5:30pm and set up camp. We just drove up to a site that was occupied and we were invited to camp there. An older gentleman, Mike from Burbank on a Suzuki DR-650 was our host. I learned the proper meaning of "pillion" from him. We also met Vance a GS rider who is taking a year off to travel around the US and Baja. Last October Sharon and I had a German couple, Henno and Alex stay at our house as they were riding around the world. Coincidentally, Vance hung out with them in Baja, Mexico in November. Small world. After our Chunky dinner and the beginnings of our vodka consumption we headed over to Gerg's campsite to enjoy comraderie and a warm fire. I met many interesting characters that evening and we all had at least one thing in common; the love of motorcycles. Saturday was not a good day for Jim as he drank too much vodka, which he rarely drinks. He slept all morning and moped around the visitor center trying to recover. I dried out my sleeping bag and some other items at the laudromat. Camping tip: never put a tarp under your tent that is considerably larger than your tent. The excess tarp collects water and then puddles it under your tent if you are unlucky. Although a little damp around my feet the inaugural launch of my Marmot down sleeping bag was successful. I treated myself to a buffalo burger at the 49er Cafe and had a $3 shower at the Furnace Creek Ranch. That evening at the campground was a bit more tame as everyone had a long ride home the next day. We sat around the fire at the site next to us with about ten guys and exchanged stories until I hit the sack at 11pm. It was a real treat to get offered some Korean barbequed steak on a tortilla. There was and interesting crowd there; an attorney, a young guy just out of the Marine Corps, a retired under-Sheriff who was interviewed on 60 minutes by Morley Safer (learned that Morley is only about 5 feet tall) and a geeky PERL coder with a sprained wrist from a wipe-out that day. I was known as "The Canadian." We woke up at 6am, packed up our bikes and rode out of Death Valley on the 190 east. We got up to an elevation of 4956 feet at the Towne Pass and it was quite cold. The cold wind was blowing hard on the long stretch into Olancha. My fingers were frozen and it was a good thing we stopped for gas to warm up and put on another layer to prepare to cross the Sierras. The 178 east led us through the Walker Pass, past Lake Isabella. We stopped in Wofford Heights for lunch at Gary's Diner and to get some gas. We turned off onto the 155 which goes up to 8000 feet elevation. This means snow. The roads were lightly covered with snow, slush and ice patches. We crawled down the steep grade in first gear taking our time. Soon we where out of the snow and blazing down the road through lush green rolling hills with cattle grazing on them. We bolted up the 99 to the 152 at mach speed and arrived home at around 7pm.
Death Valley Route Getting home with bike and I in one piece and going places I've never been = a successful trip. Click here for photos.

Posted by stephen at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

My Hands Smell Like Gas

Drew and JackieWednesday:
After 3 weeks the rain stopped today, so, I was excited to finally ride to work. Uncovered the bike. I had my waterproof bike cover plus a blue tarp over that with bricks all around it. The K75S was still wet all over. I had the Battery Tender plugged in all this time. She wouldn't start. I had very little gas in the tank and realized that through condensation, water had gotten in there. After an hour it started and I barely made it to the Shell station at the bottom of Glenwood Drive in Scotts Valley. The exhaust smelled like a snowmobile. It surged the whole way there and I found shaking back and forth made it work better. In hindsight, most likely moving the water from settling on the bottom of the tank. I filled up the tank and it started. Got onto Hwy 17 northbound and it stalled. Got it going again and just barely made it to someone's driveway pull in and gave up. I was really frustrated at this point. I called BMWMOA's roadside assistance to pick me up. It took over an hour for them to get me because the tow truck driver had to go out and purchase tie down straps. He said they don't usually pick up motorcycles. He dropped me off at home after 2pm. I worked from home for the rest of the day. After dinner, I siphoned all the gas out of the tank. I replaced the fuel filter and strainer (I had this on hand because I was going to do this maintence soon). I blew the fuel/water mix out of the fuel pump with compressed air. I got her all back together and put 1/2 gallon of new gas in with some gas line antifreeze treatment and started her up. After a few cranks and some popping noise she started purring again like new.

Lessons learned:
1. Don't store your bike with a bit of gas in the tank.
2. Don't jump on a one way freeway with no shoulders unless you are 100% sure your bike is going to run okay.

And I won't be coming in today either. I got it to idle last night. This morning it wouldn't start! After cranking-recharging-cranking-recharging it finally started to idle. Put on all my gear sat on it gave it gas and it died! I was so frustrated and pissed off. Was there water in my gas can too?! Luckily Bob gave me a good project that was easy to work on at home. After work, I removed the spark plug wires and the contacts were very rusty. I sprayed some naval jelly on them, sanded them down with a dremel attachment, WD-40ed them and blew some compressed air in them. They're like new now. Bike turns over but it sounds like it's not even getting gas. I can hear the fuel pump engaging. Plugs have only 7,000 miles on them. Pulled the plugs. The were wet and covered in black soot. Cleaned them well and dried them. I let the cylinders dry out too. Took the gas tank off again, drained it, cleared the filter and the pump. I used Sharon's hair dryer to dry out the open cylinders. I screwed the three spark plugs back in, put gas in the tank and started her up! Running really well. I think the problem was the damn vent hose getting crimped under the tank. I've had that problem before. There is also a noticeable difference on how the engine runs. Prior to the cleaning of the contacts, it felt like it was running on only two cylinders.
I feel much better. I'm riding into work tomorrow.

Posted by stephen at 5:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

You Must Bend the Body to Untangle the Mind

Drew and JackieThis past weekend Drew and Jackie visited us. Drew came to the area to play a gig in San Francisco and to teach some Bikram Yoga in Santa Cruz. Sharon and I decided we would attend Drew's Saturday 4pm class at the Village Yoga studio. We've done yoga before, but this is a fast paced yoga in a room heated from 105 to 120 degrees farenheit. The room was packed with about 30 quite attractive women, scantilly clad. I was one of 3 men including Drew. Note to single guys out there: Yoga studios are a great place to meet women in great shape. The session consists of 26 positions in 90 minutes. Within minutes I was sweating like I've never sweat before in my life. The towel on my yoga mat was soaked at the end. Being my first session I found difficulty balancing and locking my knee in some positions. I was also distracted by all the lovely ladies. Sharon was fully supportive of my dilemma. After the rigorous work out I felt energized. I've never felt that good after a work out before. We all went to Shogun Japanese Restaurant for sushi and had a fabulous dinner. We said good night and good bye to Drew and Jackie and they headed home to LA. As newbies to the yoga studio we were given a free pass to attend as many classes as we wanted for the next 10 days for $10. We went again on Sunday afternoon and this time the 90 minutes seemed to go by much faster and it was getting easier. We've never felt better. I'm going to cancel my gym membership and attend Bikram yoga classes instead.

Posted by stephen at 9:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 7, 2005

New Year's Eve

How you doin'?On New Year's Eve we rented a room at the Los Gatos Lodge. This is a motor lodge not a ski lodge type of inn. That evening we joined Jim and Jennifer and five of their friends to see local Los Gatos country singer Tim Murphy. He was performing in a large room at the Lodge. We all met in Jim and Jen's room to eat hordeurves and drink libations prior to the show. I was drinking vodka, soda with borrowed lemon from the bar. At 9pm we walked right throught the bar and into the show with our 16 ounce styrofoam cups full of booze in hand. We were happy we didn't have to line up for overpriced small drinks at the show. Refill trips back to the room were frequent. If you want to see a lot of people wearing cowboy hats, go to a country music concert. They all come out of the woodwork. It's kind of like you only see people wearing hockey jerseys at a hockey game. You don't see many people wearing cowboy hats in the urban areas of California. Other popular cowboy hat areas are in Texas, Montana or any other state where your main form of transportation is a horse. There were a lot of, how do i put it, interesting looking people in attendance. There was no stage in the room that held about 75 people and we all stood to the right of the band within roadie distance. I actually played roadie a couple of times, helping the rhythm guitarist find the end of his cord after he changed guitars between songs. We all danced and recieved high fives from Tim. I particularly enjoyed his rendition of "Sweet Home California," with altered lyrics from Lynard Skynard's hit. After the show we went into the bar where some girl who was a losing contestant on American Idol had just played. I sat down at the bar and ordered a Coke to hydrate myself. Sharon was standing beside me, anxious to go back Jim and Jen's room to party some more. An older black lady on the barstool next to me started chatting me up, laughing at everything I said and being overly friendly. Some might call it flirtatious. I introduced her to the reluctant Sharon and she introduced us to her husband who was beside her, but he failed to recognize us as he gazed out into the bustling crowd of people. Sharon kept nudging me to go back to the room. I wanted to chill out and sip my pop and talk to strangers. So, back to the room we went. We stayed up with Jim and Jen and friends till about 3am. We woke up at 11am in our king size bed threw on our clothes and drove home. I was fine but Sharon was hungover. When we got home, our neighbor Harry called to wish us Happy New Year and to get technical support for Windows XP, and I told him of our evening at the Los Gatos Lodge. "Oh! The Los Gatos Lodge," said Harry, "That's a notorious SWINGERS hang out!" Married swingers that is. Harry noted that he was a victim of the Los Gatos Lodge in his younger years. So, now I understand why the lady at the bar was so friendly. I'm was flattered, Sharon was grossed out. Happy New Year! (I'll post a photo later tonight.)

Posted by stephen at 8:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack