Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Death March Tours Quiz #2

Death March Tours is gearing up for another season of fun and mayhem. To get ready for your next adventure answer all questions honestly and keep a note of your score. 

1) What is an MT21? 

  • A) Tire 
  • B) Missile 
  • C) A mountain. 

2) When using a roll chart, on which side of the handle bars is it best mounted? 

  • A) Left hand side 
  • B) Right hand side 
  • C) In the middle

3) When riding off road on gravel with fully inflated tires, is it best to ? 

  • A) Lower air pressure 
  • B) Add a little more air 
  • C) Find an alternate route 

4) When riding along a very narrow trail with a drop off to one side, is it best to ? 

  • A) Send your riding buddy along the trail first to see how he does. 
  • B) Slightly lean your bike away from the drop off side, while counter balancing your bike with your body weight. 
  • C) Place the bike in neutral, and try to walk it out. 

5) While riding in an event you notice a rider with a flat tire, do you ? 

  • A) Stop to help them 
  • B) Close your eyes and hope they go away 
  • C) Mark their position on your roll chart so you can advise someone at the next check point 

6) You're pulling the best wheelie of your life in front of a large crowd, when you notice that you're running out of road. Do you ? 

  • A) Push the cut off switch on your bike 
  • B) Pull in the front brake and push down on the bars 
  • C) Roll off the throttle and apply a little rear brake

7) You're riding along some twistie country lanes, when you come to a Harley rider broken down. Do you ? 

  • A) Stop to help them 
  • B) Ride on by while laughing loud enough for them to hear you. 
  • C) Stop and grab your cell phone to call your buddies up, so they can all come over and have a look

8) You've just fallen off your bike and it's leaking gas on to some dried out grass. Do you ? 

  • A) Pour some water on to the leaked gas to help break it down 
  • B) Set fire to it, and wait for it to fully burn off 
  • C) Dig up some dirt and cover the grass over

9) You come to a road sign which reads. "Not recommended for motor vehicles, enter at your own risk" Do you ? 

  • A) Give your riding buddy the thumbs up and go for it.
  • B) Knock the sign down, and wait for some unsuspecting motor home driver to come along. 
  • C) Turn around and find an alternative route 

10) You're riding along a forest service road when all of a sudden a cat sized rodent jumps out in front of you directly in your line of path. Do you ? 

  • A) Swerve in to the direction the animal came from 
  • B) Open the throttle and try to ride over the rodent 
  • C) Slam on both brakes and hope for the best

11) You're all alone and 29 miles from your camp site in the middle of a forest when you get a rear flat tire. You don't have a spare tube or any way of fixing the flat, but you do have some duct-tape. Do you ? 

  • A) Wrap the tape around the tire and wheel and ride back to camp at a slow pace. 
  • B) Remove the rear tire and wrap the tape around the wheel rims, and ride back to camp at a slow pace 
  • C) Throw the duct-tape at that Harley rider that just blew by you, you remember the one you didn't help from question 7.

12) Is it easier to ride a bike with a ? 

  • A) Front flat tire 
  • B) Rear flat tire 
  • C) Remove the air from the non flat tire so both are flat and level

13) You've just rode 200 miles through a desert and your air filter is as clogged as a Dutch man's feet. You have done a quick filter clean with some gas from your gas tank, but need to oil it. Do you ? 

  • A) Use some baby oil from your bag of toiletries 
  • B) Use any remaining oil off of your chain drive 
  • C) Use some oil from your engine

14) You're just about to ride a stream crossing. The stream isn't too deep but the bed is cover in rocks. Do you ? 

  • A) Take your boots off and walk your bike across 
  • B) Lean as far forward on the bike as you can to help keep the front down and ride across slowly 
  • C) Keep your weight to the rear of the bike and ride across slowly

15) Which of these three items would you find more useful on an adventure ride ? 

  • A) GPS 
  • B) Cell phone 
  • C) Hydration system

16) Is "neutral" a classed as a gear ? 

  • A) No 
  • B) Yes 
  • C) A little green light comes on my instrument cluster

17) A trail is totally water logged, the mud is 2 inches deep along the entire length of the trail. Which brake has the most stopping power ? 

  • A) Front brake 
  • B) I'd use the gears to slow down 
  • C) Rear brake

18) You've just hit reserve and know you have enough gas for 18 more miles. You have just travelled 18 miles from your truck to get to the point you are right now all down hill. But you know there is a gas station 19 miles further down the mountain. Which direction do you go ? 

  • A) Go off exploring 
  • B) Back to the truck 
  • C) To the gas station

19) Which of these items would you find most useful in the desert ? 

  • A) Empty water bottle 
  • B) Book of matches 
  • C) Lantern

20) You're riding along and have a sharp pain in your chest. Do you ? 

  • A) Pull over and take an aspirin 
  • B) Start coughing 
  • C) Ride to a phone booth. 

21) When riding up a steep rocky hill which of these three choices do you use the least 

  • A) Brakes 
  • B) 2nd gear 
  • C) Horn 

22) You're 45 miles from home, one of these three items is just about to fail on your bike. Which one would you prefer to break ? 

  • A) Sub-frame 
  • B) Clutch cable 
  • C) Head gasket


Instructions : 
Receive 5 points for every "A" answer. 
Take away 5 points for every "B" answer 
Receive 2 points for every "C" answer. 

0 to 10 ... You don't own a bike do you ? 
10 to 20 ... How long you owned your Harley ? 
20 to 25 ... Not bad, let's ride sometime 
26 to 34 ... Way to go !!!! you know your stuff. 
35 to 45 ... Not bad, not bad. 
46 to 55 ... At least it's only time you wasted 
55 to 110 ... Keep taking the meds please

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Agile is not a synonym for “Hand me a new roll of duct tape”

This is a copy of an article I wrote for medium.com. I'll be posting techy articles there from time to time. If you find them interesting subscribe and spread the word. Don't worry, the moto articles will continue here as I continue to get inspired

Agile is not a synonym for CHAOS.
Agile is not a synonym for “Whatever … “
Agile is not a synonym for “Hand me a new role of duct tape.”
Agile is not a synonym for “Run for the fire extinguisher!!”
Agile is a layer in the development process that starts with a vision of where the organization is going. It’s aim is to get there by a constant refinement of that vision that is understood by all the parties involved.
The next layer is goal setting.
Then a map of resources to goals with a timeline can be created. A strategy for attaining the goals and allocating the resources across time is negotiated. Budgets, people, and time are all resources that may not be elastic.
Then, the promises are made and the deliverables are scheduled.
Finally, the agile part comes to bear. Agile is not a technique displacing preparation. A Kanban board or scrum meeting will not cover-up lack of planning. Agile is a philosophy of open, honest, and transparent communications between consumers and producers to assure that, as development progresses, what the consumer needs is what the producer is delivering. NOTHING MORE !!
Agile does not create anything, it merely facilitates reality in time, budget, and production.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Rocky Mountain High

A few months ago my friend Marcus told me that his BMW airhead engine had committed suicide and asked about contact info for Peter at Moto Bogotaro. Peter and MB are definitely the #1 shop to go to in the NYC / Brooklyn area if you want great workmanship and fair prices. The problem is that Peter is so good that the waiting list is months long.

I half jokingly told Marcus that it would be easier (and probably faster) to fly out and buy my '88 R100RS. While not perfect cosmetically, it has a performance modified engine and a transmission that shifts like a Honda! And who wouldn't want one since they are the ultimate babe magnet ?!?!

He got back to me and gave me a verbal handshake on the deal. We agreed that Labor Day would be the best hand off. I would ride with him for a couple of days to make sure that he was happy and then turn back to Utah while he continued to New York.

I picked him up at the airport and we looked over the bike. I had changed all the fluids and tuned up the bike in preparation for the trip. He looked the bike over, we went for a brief ride and he wrote a check. 

Only one problem flawed the transfer, the side panel that had never been a problem in all the years that I had owned it suddenly decided that it wanted to stay in Utah and disappeared along the side of the road. We went back over our route but found no trace of it. Bummer!

My friend Linda in Aspen had agreed to put us up for a night. It was a great trip spanning all that Utah and Colorado have to offer. We started south in the desert and then turned east into the mountains. With over 400 miles to go we stopped only for gas and lunch. Sorry, no pictures of that part of the trip. Just take my word for it, with great roads and perfect weather it was a gorgeous ride that is the stuff of dreams.

Looks Photo Shopped but it isn't. It's really this great!
The next morning we packed up and got an early-ish start. It's cold at that altitude (7800') and we were willing to give the sun a chance to warm things up. The altitude was also taking a toll on the bikes as they were not jetted for the altitude. Both bikes were running smoothly but were significantly down on power.

Our plan was to ride over Independence Pass and then continue on to Manitou Springs where I would turn back. I will put this route up against anything that the European Alps have to offer. It runs along the Roaring Fork River on the western side and tops out over 12,000'. Beautiful scenery and tight roads are a challenge as you try to make the most of both without taking a flying lesson off the side. 

At Buena Vista we stopped for lunch and decided that I would return from there. Labor Day crowds packed the road and I had seen it all before. Motorcycling is a solo enterprise even when traveling with a friend and I felt confident in Marcus and the bike. 

While eating lunch a guy came over and asked who owned the Transalp. I admitted that it was mine and he and his partner joined us for a discussion of bikes and life. He wanted a bike, she liked her Lexus. Park the bike, wear the gear, and somebody always wants to talk to you. It's one of the joys of traveling by motorcycle.

It all has a happy ending. This is the BMW parked in front of Marcus's garage in NY. No problems or drama. I made it home with a similar lack of events. My only note is that the panniers seem to add quite a lot of wind resistance at highway speeds (70+). They didn't affect the handling but the gas mileage dropped considerably. A small price to pay to get home quickly.

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Monday, September 9, 2019


Note: I came across this letter I wrote to a friend some time ago. We cannot change our past but we can continually improve our future by acknowledging our debt to the ones who helped us.

Socrates: "The unexamined life is not worth living"

You asked me what inspired me and I admit to being at a loss for words, let alone ideas. I mentioned Yosemite as a place that I think of as home but it isn't really inspirational in the sense of a call to action.

On my drive back to Connecticut the question kept running through my mind. I admit that I'm pretty comfortable with my life and rarely ask the BIG questions anymore. By now I know who I am, what I am, and am somewhat ambivalent about why I am. But, still, the question kept reappearing. If nothing else, it helped pass the two hours on the road.

As usual, the answer came when I finally ignored the question. When I stopped trying to find the answer, the answer found me.

I mentioned that Yosemite inspires me but that isn't quite true. What it does is provide a place of spiritual quietness. A place where I can consider my life and actions. It's a place for contemplation and reflection, but not inspiration.

What inspires me are the small kindnesses of others. That might sound very Blanche DuBois but it is what drives me forward.

We talked about those moments when we flinch with chagrin at the missteps of our past. I am embarrassed at the rude and thoughtless acts I have done to others. The times when I was petty or harsh to people for no other reason than that I was trying to be smart.

I can look back and blame this on the ignorance and arrogance of youth. I have learned to forgive myself for the misbehavior for no other reason than that I can not change it.

However, I can do better and I try to. There were some who were steady in their friendship through all my chaotic swings. Those who supported me when I was less than sterling. It is by them that I am inspired.

It is also by the small acts of kindness that happen to me all the time. The nameless farmer in Tennessee who I met in a small diner on my trip across country last summer. After talking as we ate he stood, shook my hand, and wished me a safe trip. When he was gone the waitress came over and informed me that he had paid for my meal. Not because he thought I was poor or in need but because he wanted to add a bright moment to my day.

It costs so little to make people's lives better. I am hardly a sentimental, touchy-feely kind of guy but a smile, a helping hand, and a little effort can go a long way to making a difference in another person's life.
So it is the ones who have stood by me in my life, who were patient, and who have given me that smile, helping hand, and extra effort who inspire me.

Beautiful sunsets last only minutes
and mountains fade away in a million years
but kind words and good friends last forever.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Why I Don't Use K&N Air Filters

This is a K&N air filter I pulled from the R100RS. It's supposed to be cleanable but I'm not buying it. I don't believe that all that dirt is ever coming out not matter what I do to it. That means either restricted performance or dirt will be getting through to the engine.

This is an OEM BMW air filter. Free flowing and certified by BMW to do the job correctly. Clean air and no restrictions. Properly balanced for the carbs and intake system.

Price is not on K&N's side either. ~$90 vs ~$35. You would have to clean the K&N 4 times to save any money and who wants to do that dirty job? Plus it's never going to be as good as a new one. You wouldn't reuse the oil filter, why is the air filter any different?

They have a great advertising campaign but nothing else to offer in my humble opinion.

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Monday, August 26, 2019

The Tale of Two Carburetors

This could also be titled: Old Motorcycles Mean New Problems

My last post described getting the motorcycles home. 

With the help of my friend Doug Wothke, who stopped in on his way to Bonneville Speed Week, the Indian started right up. He said it ran, shifted, braked, and rode well. Yeah!

Note: Doug is a real round the world traveler, unlike those two movie posers.
Check out his site here for tales of his adventures.

Inspired, I got to work on the BMW after he left and immediately ran into a brick wall. The bike wouldn't start. A little exploration revealed that the carburetors were seized and wouldn't operate. Remember that this is a 76 year old bike from the country that lost the war. You don't just run down to the local auto parts store for replacements or parts.

It took a day of carb cleaner, CRC Power Lube, and hot water soaks to get the slide to separate from the left side body. The hot water bath is to get the aluminum body to expand faster than the steel slide and break the corrosion bond between them. One problem is that the slide is connected to the throttle cable but you can't pull too hard for fear of breaking it. Remember, no parts available.

The right carb was not so easy. Three more days of all of the above were required. This time the hot water soaks had a mixture of vinegar added. Vinegar is a weak acid that will eat into the corrosion but leave it to long and it will destroy the aluminum carb body. 

Soak, rinse, check, repeat, ...

Finally, they were both freed up. As you can see, some of the parts are missing and some are different. 

I turned to Craig "Vech" Vechorik at Bench Mark Works for help. He is to vintage BMWs what Bill Silver is to vintage Hondas, the very best and most knowledgeable! He helped with parts, service, and advice for my R69S but this time had only sad news. The carbs were not Bing but Graetzin and parts were NLA (No Longer Available). Not even on EBay. However, he said he could provide gaskets which would be a big help.

Luckily, Germany was on the metric system and I was able to dig around in my box of old Honda parts and make up substitutes for the lost pieces. Not perfectly but close enough for an old war horse.

Spark plugs were another challenge. Neither the local Honda nor Kawasaki shop had the right ones but Amazon came through with the correct NGK B8HS items. I'm sure that to be historically faithful I should have chosen Bosch plugs but I've never had a failure with NGK and always rely on them.

Putting it all together was rewarded on the 5th kick! It sputtered to life and coughed and kicked a bit but it ran! Some time fiddling with the adjustments resulted in a bike that ran and idled. Wow! Older than dirt but not dead yet. An inspiration for us all.

For a real test after I took it out into the local roads and tried some dirt trails. What a hoot! I could see trying the Trans America Trail on this and having a blast.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

More Bikes In The Garage

I keep saying that there are too many bikes but somehow they keep multiplying whenever I turn my back.

My father was fascinated with World War II and had a collection of uniforms, vehicles, and memorabilia. At one point he had his own Jeep and half-track. He was equal-opportunity about it and collected both U.S. and German articles. To him, it was an era when the world knew right from wrong and was willing to fight for it.

As he got older it became harder to maintain his collection of vehicles and he sold them off until only about a dozen remained; a 1964 Corvette, a '63 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, 2 Cords, an ancient fire engine, and the actual taxi from a Laurel and Hardy movie that was his pride and joy.

When he passed away in January he left his two motorcycles to me. A 1941 Indian Scout Sport and a 1943 BMW R75 from Rommel's Afrika Korps. Through no fault of my own the inventory grew. A large growth it was because the R75 comes with a side car. So I drove to Calif with UHaul's biggest trailer with high hopes. 


Of course there were problems. The BMW with sidecar was just a few inches wider than the trailer opening. Weighing almost 900 pounds there was no picking it up and moving it around.

Scooting under it I was able to remove the kick start lever and the left foot rest and guard. At the very last moment I realized that this was also the mounting shaft for the transmission so I left that alone.

With a perseverance ( and a few choice words! ) my brother and I were able winch it into the trailer and get it tied down with loading straps.

The Indian was next and it was another big bike. It just barely fit in the remaining space and, thankfully, was easy enough to just roll in and strap down. 

Now came the really hard part, driving back to Utah with 3/4 ton of motorcycles behind me. The first part was to get out of the SF Bay Area before the Monday morning commute madness began. Sunday night meant that everyone was flooding back home as I was headed east. An overnight stay in Sacramento at my sister's cut my drive back by 100 miles and let me escape the commuter traffic. Then it was up and over Donner Pass and off across Nevada on I-80. By 8:30 that night I was home. Unloading could wait for tomorrow.

Just one question: How can Calif have the highest gas taxes and the worst roads in America? I-80 over the Sierras was rutted so bad that I had to straddle two lanes so that the trailer wouldn't sway back and forth. I find it truly amazing that the people put up with it!

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