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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Death March Tours - 2019 - Death Valley, SoCal BDR, and Baja !!

Death March Tours is a group of friends who challenge themselves to get past the easy part and take trips outside of their comfort zone. Past adventures have included the Pachaug Loop and White Rim Trail.

DMT - 2019 will be starting and ending in Salt Lake City. After checking the bikes and getting a night's rest, the first day is a pavement pounder to Death Valley.


After a couple of days exploring the desert, the next section is the Southern California Backcountry Discovery Route. This will be from north to south in reverse of the normal flow.



Crossing over into Mexico the route will take us to Mike's Sky Ranch,



Coco's Corner,



and Alfonsina's.



113 days to go - can't wait. I'll post preparations along the way and then a trip report as we travel.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

It's not all bad out there

Some days things just happen. A moment's distraction, trying to look everywhere at once, missing the little thing in the big picture ...

OOPS - There was supposed to be an embedded video of a trucker pulling out in front of a motorcycle causing an OH SHIT moment for the biker. The trucker then pulls over and waves down the biker to say, "I'm Sorry, I didn't see you". The biker responds by shaking his hand and saying that it was an exciting moment but he uuderstands and appreciates the truckers words.

I give a lot of credit to the trucker for stopping and standing up for his mistake. Just as much credit goes to the biker for not bitching him out and understanding that nobody's perfect and mistakes can happen.

A lesson for us all - kindness and understanding can make it better for everyone.


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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Holidaze Stress

My friend David and I had a small exchange about the holidays and the accompanying stress. I repeat it here for your thoughts.

What would the Holidaze be without a little stress!? All the best to you and yours. 
J.
peaceful? there is always stress and always people who worry... won't add a second to your life to worry and stress can take a few away from it...or speed along your demise.
David
I have to disagree a bit. Getting presents chosen, purchased, wrapped, and delivered (either in person or by mail) are stressful chores but in a delightful way. I have lists to make, schedules to complete, and people not to forget. And, of course, there are all the last minute details that need to be attended to whether they were planned or not. 
I could shop on-line, have Amazon deliver, and sit back with my hot cocoa completely relaxed. However, I would have missed the wonderful store I found in Trolley Square. The hustle and bustle of the stores adds a dynamic that brings out the best (though sometimes the worst) in people. Here in Utah people still say Thank You and Merry Christmas to one another as they shop. 
You can call it stress or high energy but I wouldn't trade it for the glow of my laptop. I like people and if it is a bit of a hassle to find a parking spot, that is balanced by the joy of seeing a father and daughter selecting a present for her mother. Stress can be a drain but it can also be a great motivator. It may not add a second to my life but it can make them much more enjoyable. 
J.
Please don't think that David is playing the Grinch. A lot of stress is a taxing drain on our lives. The modern world with the rush to the next-big-thing is certainly a stress factory. However, I say that we can limit it by merely stepping aside and letting it pass. It's all up to each one of us to control our lives and set our priorities.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

It wasn't supposed to be like this - Part II



So I'm a Honda guy with a soft spot for Triumphs. A couple of years ago I had a chance to buy an unmolested 1977 Bonneville 750 that was ready to ride after a tune-up and some cleaning. Last year I was able to match it with a 1978 Honda 750 Super Sport. They were both at the ends of their production runs. '78 was the last year for the single cam 750 Honda and the Triumph would soldier on with minor changes for only a couple of more years.

The Honda was all about the future and the Triumph was all about the past. Want smooth power and lots of it? Honda. Want great brakes and an electric starter? Honda. Want to be sure you'll get home? Honda again.

And yet the Triumph speaks to you in ways many people would never understand. Vibration? Sure, but that lets you know you have an engine under you and not some electric motor from a Prius.The brakes are good enough for the power on hand and a kick or two will get the engine turning over if you've kept it tuned. Getting home? Never been a problem with this bike (yet).

What the Triumph has is a lightness that the Honda can't match. The smile inducing handling this yields makes the trade off for power an easy one. The four cylinders, four carbs, and electric starter weigh a lot. Those and all the other amenities add up when dicing through the mountain corners. Will the Honda go as fast or faster? Sure, but you'll have to work hard for the win. The Triumph is fluid, eager, and involved whereas the Honda is all about throttle, brakes, and planning.

Most people, if asked, would use the word "reliable" when thinking about a Honda anything. Car, motorcycle, outboard, or jet plane, you know you'll get home in a Honda.

Triumph is better known for its Lucas electrical bits (the Prince of Darkness) and it's propensity to mark it's territory by leaking oil when parked. Should the timing be a little off it will happily launch you over the handle bars when trying to kick start it.

Sunday, I decided to go for a ride. I had just finished the Triumph and hadn't had a chance to really test it out. It had been sitting on my lift for 2 years after a piece in the transmission had decided to commit suicide.

I'm sure you're aware that modern gas with all the oxygenators starts going bad after 30 days. What I drained from the tank and the carbs was pure varnish. However, I figured nothing lost if tried to kick it over to get everything loosened up.

Third kick and it started right up. A trip around the block was enough for it to idle as good as ever.

The Honda has four synchronized carbs that are wonders of precision engineering. Intricate little passages to make it run as smooth as silk. When it runs. It was just the opposite of the Triumph. Full choke to get it to idle and balky power below 3500 rpm.

There was clever choreography to stopping for a light. Left hand - pull in the clutch. Left foot - find neutral. Right hand - keep the throttle open to keep revs up. Left hand - pull out the choke knob. Right hand - release the throttle. Right foot - down to keep from falling over.

Once on the road it was mostly fine but there was the small matter of getting out of town through traffic.

So it was the Jurassic Triumph that saved the day and took me for a ride. The simple carbs were happy to cooperate and the engine produced a nice purr that accompanied me along the way.

I love my Honda and I love my Triumph. I love my wife but with motorcycles it's OK to have two!


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Monday, October 22, 2018

It wasn't supposed to be like this - Part I


In the late '60s and early '70s it was all about Hondas for me. Honda was winning all the Grand Prix races and had models that were decidedly more technically advanced than any of the competition.

Harley's were iron barges that either ran poorly or not at all. Italian bikes were pretty and pretty likely to leave you stranded. German bikes were solid and sturdy but as exciting as cold porridge. Which left the English bikes which performed well but leaked and left bits and pieces along side the road.

Edward Turner designed the Triumph Speed Twin 5T in 1936 which was, according to Wikipedia, "the first truly successful British parallel twin, setting the standard for many twins to follow." Unfortunately, it seemed to be the end of his bright ideas and was essentially the same bike Triumph was still producing 40 years later.

The mighty Honda CB750 debuted in 1969 and signaled the end for the English motorcycle industry. Not that they hadn't done enough harm to themselves with terrible management decisions combined with the horrible labour unions. They were their own worst enemy!

In '71 I had a CB450 and loved to torment Triumphs. 500s were no problem and 650s were all about who had the better tuned bike. To me they were Jurassic in style and power. No overhead cams, no CV carbs, no electric starter, and they leaked!

Then a funny thing happened in the summer of '74. I was working in a Honda/Yamaha/Triumph shop when the manager quit and I was nominated to take his place. Tom was only a mediocre mechanic so he got the Honda tune-ups that even he couldn't screw up. Joey loved dirt bikes so he got all of the 2-stroke Yamahas. Which left me with the Triumphs. UGH!

That funny thing was that I learned to love them, sort of. Back then, anyone could afford a Honda and you had to work really hard to kill them which meant there were a lot of squids on two wheels.

To own a Triumph you really had to want to own a Triumph. They were expensive, down on power, hard to get parts for, and they leaked all over your driveway.

What Triumph did have was great handling and a great ride. My CB450 might have had the power, but hit a lot of twisties and I was working hard just to keep up. All those years of making the same bike over and over had lead to refinement that Honda had yet to achieve.

With a little ingenuity I was able to make the Bonnevilles even better. Using vacuum gages I was able to balance the carbs properly for power and less vibration. Dynamic timing with a strobe light instead of the old static timing yielded even more power. YamaBond would seal the covers so they wouldn't leak (mostly). Recalibrating my outlook led to thinking of the bike as a whole and not just power and brakes. Motorcycles could be enjoyable, not just thrilling!

Another piece that led me to love Triumph was the people who rode them. I don't want to single them out as real motorcyclists but there was definitely something different about them. The bikes were personal, not just toys. The owners cared about them because they loved riding, not just showing off.

One owner came in with his Tiger and we were talking about it when he mentioned that he had lost 3rd gear. I told him to bring it in and I'd put him to the top of the queue. He said No, he'd wait until winter when it was too cold and icy to ride. Parts would take too long and he could just short shift pass the missing gear to keep riding.

About the same time a guy with a Gold Wing came in and demanded that I drop everything to replace a cover that was scratched when he had dropped it in a parking lot. He was afraid of being embarrassed and laughed at if his friends found out that weekend. I told him I had real work to do and threw him out of the shop.

 -- More of this story tomorrow --



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Monday, July 23, 2018

Ride Report


Too much work and not enough riding makes J. a dull boy. The area we live in is a farm/ranch area with plenty of folksy places to see and visit. Time to get to it.


First up, lunch at Penny's. While this often has groups of bikers out for a ride today we had it all to ourselves. This place is out of the 50's without all that phony retro stuff, just good food and good service. A Toxic Waste Burger and a BLT with Tater Tots had us filled up and ready to ride.


This was our destination for today, an abandoned grain elevator near the Union Pacific tracks that is now a canvas for local artists


I was hoping to be able to climb to the top of it but all of the stairs and ladders had been removed and there was only bare walls bottom to top. Had somebody told them I was coming?


We were hot and dry on the way back so the Silver Sage in Vernon was our next stop. Soft drinks in glass bottles, hand made root beer floats, and the owner's kids playing Set Back at the counter. Can't get much more homey than that.


Refreshed, we headed home and rounded out the day at 107 miles. Just a nice day to be totally analog.


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Friday, June 15, 2018

The Golden Age of Me

Here's a laugh for you from a conversation with a friend.

I remember when I owned nothing, had a hot girlfriend and a beat up Triumph sports car, and thought that if I had enough money for a case of beer I was rolling in dough. Not a care or a problem in the world !!

Now I have a great wife, a beat up Miata, and a bottle of Buffalo Trace. In some ways nothing changes.


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