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Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
I mentioned in a previous post that we aborted our race effort last weekend because of the poor weather forecast. The forecast turned out to be completely wrong and caused us to miss a chance to wrap up the class championship. We relied on weather.com and on the weatherbug app on my Droid. Weatherbug is handy as a phone app but I had long ago begun to distrust weather.com. My opinion is that they sensationalize the bad forecasts in an effort to get you to revisit their site thereby building clicks and ad revenue. Conspiracy theory or just bad experience? You be the judge!
Riding a bike means taking the weather very seriously. What gear to wear and what bike to take. Sometimes even to go or not to go. A friend recommended the NOAA site as much more reliable source of weather info. It's run by a government agency who could care less if you check back or not. They don't have to rely on ad revenue, they reach right into your pocket for the tax dollars.
In just the short time I've been checking they've been 100% correct about what was to come. The graphics are clear and concise, in a few seconds I know whether to put on the mesh jacket or the rain gear. I know what to plan for the weekend and have a high confidence the results. Best of all there are no dancing girls trying to get me to refinance my house or fat housewives trying to tell me the secret of their weight loss.
Whenever I use these I've learned to read the weather maps. If there is a southeast wind and there is rain in Albany NY it will probably be here in 4-6 hours. If the front is only 40 miles deep then I know it will pass and I can plan my ride for later in the day. Not too hard to figure out if one takes the time to learn the local patterns.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Everyone that has more than a couple of bikes, especially vintage bikes, has a project bike lurking in the depths of the garage. I have a '66 Honda CL72 Scrambler that is hiding back in the shadows waiting for attention. It has belonged to either me, or one of my friends, for the last 35 years. I keep collecting parts to restore it but nothing in the way of progress has happened in a long, long time. Maybe this winter ...
Even worse is my XR400R. I bought it when we were all hot for dirt bike riding a few years back. A definite step up from the MT250 that had rekindled my desire for trail riding. However, it has been a trail of tears for this bike. First, I dropped it in a water crossing and didn't drain the oil immediately. It seemed to run OK once I got it restarted but the next day it suffered a couple of mini-seizures.
When I got home I tore it down and sent the barrel out for a re-bore. I put it back together but appearently didn't get the cam chain adjuster right and the chain jumped a couple of teeth. The valves didn't appreciate meeting the piston in such a violent manner and got all bent out of shape.
Back into the shop. I sent the head out for rework and checked the piston. While I was at it I decided to pull the cover and replace the clutch. This is where I became my own worst enemy. Not having the proper $19.00 tool I promptly broke the $160.00 clutch basket. The shop I sent the head to took a long time getting it back to me and when they did it was too late for riding. I was totally discouraged. So it sat ...
That was 2 or 3 years ago. Really! One of the advantages (or curses) of owning a lot of bikes is that I can always ride something else. There is no pressure to get anything done. The XR had acquired a "what else could go wrong?" aura that kept putting me off. It had also taken on a certain reputation amongst friends who wondered "when I was going to have it bronzed?" or "are you saving it for a tombstone?"
A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet. I decided that I wouldn't try to fix it all at once, I would just put a couple of parts on it each day and see how that went. So far that plan is working. The head is reassembled, the clutch is back in place, the covers are on and tight. I'm waiting for some parts to put the carburetor on and then the engine work will be done. While I had it apart I was thinking of replacing the suspension and wheel bearings but that might put off riding it for another 2 years. Better to just ride it and get to work on the Scrambler while I have the momentum.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
We were supposed to race last weekend at Loudon. For once we were all set; all the issues with the bike were resolved and we had 100% confidence in the bike. We even went out and bought a new stand-up tent for the weekend that would also serve the as the Bonneville HQ.
We got a late start but that didn't seem all bad as it would put us just behind the Friday Boston rush hour traffic. Or so I thought. At 6pm we were sitting in stop and go traffic 70 miles from the track with little chance of improvement down the road. Worse, the rain was torrential! The mood was as dark as the sky.
I checked the forecast on my Droid and it was for over 60% thunderstorms on Saturday and 45% on Sunday. Plus we would be putting up our new tent in the mud in the dark.
The mood was getting darker. I suggested a break for coffee to think things over. In the warmth of a restaurant the decision was made to call it a day and head home. Racing is supposed to be fun. Creeping around the track in rain soaked leathers is not considered fun by most folks. Back at home in bed, listening to the thunder and lightning all around it seemed we had made a good decision.
And then the sun came out on Saturday morning. Dang! I suggested that we hop in the car, since it was still loaded, and head for the track but it would have been 3 1/2 hours to get there and the forecast was still poor. We didn't go.
Too bad! Jason called to ask where we were and said the weather at the track was hot and humid but bearable. To add insult to injury, Beth's main competitor had engine trouble and was unable to finish his race. This would have put a lock on the #1 plate for her if she had just started and finished the race. Now it's down to the last race and anyone's game.
I can think of a dozen things we should have done:
- Ignore the weather forecasts which seem to sensationalize bad weather so you'll keep checking back which improves their hit rate and ad revenue. I have since switched to NOAA weather forecasts on the advice of a friend.
- At least I should have checked the weather maps to see that the front was passing through and would be gone the next day. Which is to say, make my own decision rather than rely on somebody else.
- Checked with the local motel to see if they had a room for the night. Sometimes you just have to pay for your fun!
- Sucked it up and gone for it. Racing is supposed to be fun but if you want to win you have to do whatever it takes to get to the finish line.
Bonneville is coming up quick. All good lessons for that trip. And there will be another race at Loudon in Sept. No turning back for that one!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
We're off to the races at Loudon. Pictures on Monday.
In the meantime here's a note from Juan about his trip in Alaska.
In the meantime here's a note from Juan about his trip in Alaska.
Recently completed the Dust to Dawson trip. It was a lot of fun. There were four TransAlps and one Africa Twin present among a sea of BMWs, KLRs and KTMs. Mine was
the only 1990 Moonstone. I received a lot of compliments about it.
Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:
'90 PC800 - "Hobbes"
'90 XL600V - "Roswell"
'97 VMX1200 - "Silver Surfer"
'07 DR650SE - "Darth Marmot"
'07 Phazer FX - "Spike"
'07 Phazer Mt Lt - "Stretch"
Thursday, July 22, 2010
White Rose is the best vintage Japanese on the east coast, bar none. What it lacks in size compared to VMD it more than makes up in charm and camaraderie. Be prepared to find parts for bikes you are looking for, bikes that are realistic in price, and people who really know and care about the bikes.
White Rose is where I foolishly let a pristine DT 400 get away one year and a nice XS 650 another year. I've never gone there and not wanted to bring something home. Most often I have.
I'll be at Bonneville this year but you shouldn't miss it!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
This is the Bloodhound. I don't expect that we will be going that fast. Maybe we would be able to beat a Piper Cub. Maybe not.
Droid feels very special now since it's even smarter.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Correction - The 3 Rivers Dual Sport Ride is on Sunday, 7/25, not Saturday as stated previously. My error and thanks to Tony for pointing it out.
On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. It reminds me that there was a time in the world when we thought of ourselves as capable of anything. Now we seem to be a nation of greedy fraudsters and whining victims.
The Arai XD3 is an unusual helmet in that it is really two helmets in one. It has a full face shield to act as a road helmet. The face shield then flips up to act as a dirt bike helmet with goggles. Pretty trick for people like me who ride dual sport bikes. I often ride to an area rather than trailer my bike. Goggles on the road are OK but they are limiting in peripheral vision. This limits my enjoyment of the scenery on back roads and can be unsafe in urban traffic if I can't see what's coming at me from the sides.
A couple of years ago I rode my Transalp across country with only a dirt bike helmet and goggles but wasn't that happy. I've found that OTG (Over The Glasses) googles have a bigger lens but it's still limiting. When I saw the first Arai XD I thought I had found my helmet. Then I saw the price. Nose bleed city! However, it wasn't long before Shoei released the Hornet and Arai dropped their prices slightly.
The two helmets are very similar and I have to admit to owning mostly Shoei helmets in the past. I bought the Arai this time because it fit my head better. Anyone buying a helmet from a mail order house on the internet is cheating themselves. Until you try them on and compare the fit you are not getting the best helmet for your head. Heads and helmets come in many shapes as well as sizes. If you have a round head and try to wear an oval helmet you will never be comfortable. This is not a function of price, it's just a matter of design.
So how does it work? On the road just flip down the shield like any other full face helmet. There will be a lot more room in front of your face because the mouth guard is further forward. It also has a large air scoop for ventilation. Because the face shield is farther forward it will catch the wind a bit more when you turn your head at highway speeds. Not a particularly big deal but it's there. After a while you forget all about it.
The visor is nice when riding in the daytime as it effectively keeps the sun out of your eyes. However, this is a real pain when you ride a full-on sport bike. When you are leaned over the handle bars the visor cuts into your line of sight. I ended up having to ride with my head tilted back which was a major irritation by the end of the day. You can remove the visor easily for sport bike duty but I have other helmets so I've never tested this feature.
In the dirt this is just like any other dirt bike helmet once the face shield is flipped up and out of the way. My Progrip goggles fit on my face just like on my regular dirt helmet. No fuss, no bother. Because the helmet fits so well it doesn't bob around on my head when the trail gets rough. The ventilation is good and I haven't had a head heat or fogging problem so far.
I will say that the Arai seems a bit heavier than my other dirt helmet but this may be because it is more heavily constructed. I'm not a great enduro champ so I usually get a DOT spec helmet for the dirt. Since I usually don't go that fast and tend to need a new helmet every year or so I usually buy whatever brand is on sale that fits my head.
The bottom line is that I love my XD3. As long as I'm not riding a sport bike or going on a full on, dirt only ride it's generally the one I grab. It's reasonably light and quiet, fits perfectly, and has the build quality Arai is known for. Because I'm on the Cycle Gear email list I bought it with a 25% off coupon which made it a very sweet deal! It's not the cheapest helmet out there but after hours on the roads and trails I must say it's worth it!.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Went to the Rhody Ride Saturday and Sunday. Nothing went right. Ben rode his XR650L and I rode my MR175. Well I did for almost 7 miles anyway. Then it died and wouldn't restart. Cause unknown, I haven't looked at it yet.
I had spent Friday getting my MT250 ready to loan my brother for the weekend. Changing a clutch should only take an hour or so. Right? I had all the parts, gaskets, and a new Barrnett clutch pack. Opening it up was straight forward but the gasket tore apart and had to scrapped off which took an hour or so. The clutch basket was beat but I didn't have time to mess with it. That is until I found that the clutch pack was the wrong part for some unknown bike.
I will never, ever order parts from an eBay seller again! I am so tired of getting wrong parts, poor quality parts, and just plain bad parts that I'll stick to the local shops from now on. I'd certainly like to meet the seller from Thailand who is pushing spokes for vintage bikes. Preferably in a dark alley with a baseball bat!
Luckily I had a spare motor and tore it open to find a good clutch basket and clutch pack. I swapped the parts and buttoned it up. It started right up and had a nice feel to it. Little did I know that this was going to be the high point of my weekend.
Having spent so much time on the 250 I didn't have time to go over the MR175. No problem, it's as reliable as a bill collector on commission. Until it got cranky and the carb started acting up. At first I thought it was just gummy from sitting so long. Running fresh gas through it will usually clear it up but not this time. It just meant that I got farther into the woods before it died.
Since neither Ben nor I had a Buddy Tow with us I got to experience the joy of pushing a bike out of the woods in 90F heat. I'm sure Yoda would think of it as character building but I think the only thing it did was build my vocabulary of words my mother would not approve of. Luckily a cross road was not too far (1 mile that felt like 10) and I was able to ride Ben's bike back to get the trailer and pick up the bike.
The Rhody Riders put on a great dinner. There was a buffet table lined with food but the first stop was pans of huge steaks. You picked one out and took it over to an 8x3' grill and tossed it on. It was a do-it-yourself deal with several long forks that were passed around for turning and checking. Being in charge of your own dinner meant no lines or complaints.
After dinner and the raffle we headed back home to deal with bikes. We agreed on the Big Bike Adventure Ride for Sunday so I switched to the NX250 for an easy day without worry. Loading the 3 bikes on the trailer we met my brother back at the ride HQ and started out for a day of fun.
Bob hasn't ridden in a few years so he showed up with a full face helmet and heavy duty sneakers. I convinced him to take off the face shield so he could get some air but that turned out to be a mixed blessing since it also let in all the dust and dirt. Sun glasses are no substitute for goggles but you have to start somewhere and better riding with bad gear than sitting around the house.
We were up to 33 miles and stopped for a moment to make sure everyone was OK. Disaster was waiting once again. Ben's bike wouldn't restart. We tried everything but without tools it was mostly chanting and voodoo dances. None of it helped. So back to HQ for the trailer and load up the bikes.
Once everything was loaded and we retrieved the other cars we went out for lunch at the Middle of Nowhere Diner. Much discussion about everything revealed two things: In spite of all the problems, nobody had gotten hurt and everyone had a great time. And, we were all set to do it again real soon!
Thanks to the Rhody Riders for putting on such a great event..
Friday, July 16, 2010
As promised yesterday, here's the first pictures of the Moriwaki in action. OK, it's a bit dubious for the moment but it's running and pointed west.
It looks a bit ungainly without the fairing but it has plenty of power (for an 80cc engine) and handles well. The brakes are phenominal. I nearly did a stoppie the first time I clamped on the front brake. I can see why these are so popular for roadracing. The power band is peaky. Nothing below 8000 rpm! Then it begins to build with a solid hit at 9 grand. I'm using 13,500 as a red line for now although I've touched 14 grand with nothing going splat.
I have the trail ride tomorrow and Sunday so I won't get back to the Moriwaki until Monday. Then I'll see if I know anything about 2-stroke tuning.
I got more good news this afternoon. The KOA in West Wendover called and told me that I was not longer #30 on the waiting list and that they were ready to take my credit card info for a site in the "overflow area". I cringe to think of the visions that evokes but it's a shower and a swimming pool so it's way better than sleeping in the back of my pickup!
This will be a quick one so I can run out and work on the Moriwaki. I got it out on the street for some test rides and I must say it runs like a raped ape! I'll have a report with pictures and maybe a video tomorrow.
In the meantime Jason sent this link to Trail Riding Tips from the Seacoast Trail Riders Club in Maine. As I am going trail riding in RI with the Rhody Riders in W. Greenwich, RI. this weekend now is a good time to review the basics. I admit that I usually do it retroactively while spending time with the EMTs. This time I'll try to be a little smarter.
They are holding a dual sport ride on the 10th of October that looks interesting. Maine is a great place to ride so I'm looking forward to this. More details as I find them.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
With speed week coming up next month, I thought this might be appropriate. In 1969 my brother and I got a hair up our butts, and decided to see how fast we could make his old Honda Super 90 run. The engine was an OHC 89cc 4 stroke. I had the barrel bored out to 99.8cc, right at the top of the 100cc class. I had our Dad's old buddy, Kenny Harmon grind a "Las Vegas" cam, pulled the stock mag, and converted the ignition to a total loss battery deal. Looking at the AMA record book, the 100cc fuel class records looked ripe for picking. I dug out an old 3/4" Amal carb that Dad had converted to floatless operation for my 1/4 midget (another story). We decided the stock Honda pressed frame wouldn't do, so I welded up a frame out of 3/4" OD .035 chromoly tube. Welded up a short fork, and had Buchanan lace up a pair of 16" Akront alloy "record" wheels. We fitted the highest gear sprokets we could find, and headed for Bonneville. We entered the AA 100, and APSA 100 classes, which are 100cc modified frame, and 100cc partial streamlined. Our first run Jack ran about 7 mph over the AA record. Next morning he made a two way average of just under 85mph for a new AA100 record. That afternoon, we bolted on the little fairing we had cobbeled up, and Jack qualified for the APSA 100 record. Next morning, netted a two way average just under 88mph. He ran down at over 93mph, but a head wind killed it on the return run. Don't ever think Honda motors aren't tough. The nitro load was a killer 88% on almost 15:1 compression! We put the bike in the back of my Ranchero, watched for a couple of days, and headed home with two AMA record certs signed by Earl Flanders, and J. Otto Crocker. The moral: If a couple of 20, and 24 year old kids can have fun on the salt, and grab a couple of records, anyone can!!
Monday, July 12, 2010
Brit Jam is always a great meet put on by the British Iron Association of Connecticut. Although British bikes are featured, bikes of all nations and types are on display and compete for trophies. There are several Asian and Euro classes as well as a myriad of British classes. The People's Choice Award is always a cliff hanger and has not always been to a Brit bike. This year it is on Sunday, 15 August in Haddam, CT. There are usually a couple of hundred bikes on display and several hundred people in attendance. The parking area is almost as interesting as the show!
You don't need a museum queen to show your bike, most are ridden to the meet. No extra charge to display. There is a vendor area with lot's of odd bits if you're looking for something British. Food and refreshments are available.
The finale of the show is the door prize. A free 1978 Bonneville like the one pictured above. Every year the club restores a bike to give away at the show. Your admission is your drawing ticket and I think you can buy extra tickets at the club booth if this model floats your boat. I was very disappointed that I didn't win the 441 Victor last year! Special thanks goes to Dave Quinn for supplying a new set of Hagon Shocks for the restoration every year.
See you there. I'll be showing my Dream 50 and maybe the Yetman cafe bike. Vote for me! The flyer is here.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Just rode my bicycle 23 hilly miles in 90° weather. Nobody said I was all that bright!
Next Saturday and Sunday (17th & 18th) I'll be riding the dual-sport ride with the Rhody Riders in W. Greenwich, RI. Info is here.
The Saturday after that (25 July) I'll be riding at the Three Rivers Dual Sport Adventure with the Pathfinders MC. Start is at Best Burger Restaurant on Rt 66 om East Hampton, CT. As I know the area pretty well I'm expecting Class II roads for the most part. Think easy riding for your street legal V-Strom or DRZ. Info from firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-916-8456.
For something a little different Peter sends news of the First Annual Rocker's Roll event in Pittston, PA on 31 July. A ride is planned to Berwick, PA where contests and prizes will prevail. I am dying to see what shows up for the Drag Bike Queen contest. "(if you have to ask, don't enter - only for those truly secure in their masculinity)" Info at www.farleyandace.com/RockersRoll.html
If you see me at any of these events, don't be shy.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Generally motorcycles get horrible press. Mostly because they are used to present a badass image of what the presenter wants you to avoid. Think biker guy picking up the "innocent" daughter for the prom.
Here's a promotional clip made by Steve McQueen on a CR250 for Honda of Japan. He always has a very human humility about him that makes you feel like he's talking directly to you as if you were his best friend. If anyone can figure out what the patch on his shoulder says I'd appreciate hearing from you.
This ad from Old Spice has a surprise ending. I won't spoil it for you. Enjoy.
Here's a commercial from Wells Fargo showing a motorcycle in a very positive light. All too rare for a large corporation. I'd switch my accounts if they had branches in CT.
That Norton video leads up to this one about two brothers who restored their father's old Norton for him. It's 16 minutes long so grab something cold and enjoy a really nice story.
Friday, July 9, 2010
This guy has a CB160 with a supercharger! The motor is blown and so is my mind just thinking about it. Good Luck Ron - See you on the salt!
Here's the note Ron sent me:
Hello - stumbled across your web site while going through the VJMC e-mails. I see you are going to Speed Week to run the CB160? Glad to hear that I'm not the only one going broke working on a CB160 to run at Bonneville (ha-ha). I've been working on my bike on & off for 2 years and finally got it to the point where I can race it. I took it down to Maxton and raced in June (Really HOT) at the ECTA LSR meet as a trial/break-in. Now I have a new list of things to do/try before I run again. I'll be headed out to the BUB event and run at the end of August.
I'll be running in the M/BG 175cc class. The motor is bored out 2mm over, so I'm at 174cc's. I'm running a small RHB31 turbocharger- blow through set up with air plenum, with an external oiling system, fuel pump and boost adjusted fuel regulator, Accel coil and wires. So far I've been getting 5-6 pounds of boost, hopefully I'll squeeze out a bit more once it's properly tuned. Finally gave up on the stock carbs, too hard to find a range of stock jets and messy to try and tune for my situation. I'm now waiting for a new pair of PE22 Keihin's to arrive, so I can re-start the tuning process with a bunch of jets.
Attached is a picture of me and bike at Maxton, the seats off, so I can swap the battery out. With all the pumps (Oil & Fuel) running I drain the battery after 1-2 runs.
Good Luck to you at Bonneville!
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Club d'Elf is a very eclectic band but one that always makes me happy when I see them in action. Their home base is in the basement at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge MA. Moroccan jazz blend might begin to describe them but would be much to confining. The details of their Brooklyn visit are below. Check their website for other venues, dates, and music samples. Highly recommended!
Thursday July 15, 2010 Public Assembly (formerly Galapagos) 70 N. 6th Street, Williamsburg, NY (Bedford L) Show starts at 9 pm. $10. 21+. D'Elf (w/ Brahim Fribgane - oud, perc, voice; Mat Maneri - elec viola; Danny Blume - guitar; Mike Rivard - bass & sintir; & Eric Kalb - drums) plays last at 12:30 am. Also on the bill: Copal (www.copalmusic.com), Puracane & Hordanos. facebook invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=134586473228586&ref=mf http://www.publicassemblynyc.com
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This is racing the way God meant it to be. An old landing strip and a bunch of people who just want to go fast. No trophies, no sponsors, no BS. Just bragging rights until next time.
Ironic that this All-American tradition should find such a great home in Germany.
Ironic that this All-American tradition should find such a great home in Germany.
Monday, July 5, 2010
A Tiddler Tour, for those who may not know, is a rally for old, small bikes. The usual specifications are <= 350cc and <= 1972. However, unless it's the MotoGiro (305cc & 1968), any bike that fits into the spirit of the ride is generally welcomed. This is the case with Amy and Doug which allowed our friends to join in with a pair of NX250's. Right size but only 21 years old. The curious thing is that after coming once or twice the odd rider gets the bug and shows up on a proper vintage bike which means one more bike is saved and ridden.
The weather could not have been more perfect, sunny and warm. The back roads Doug had mapped out were a perfect blend of languid rural roads to troll along mixed with twisty bits to keep it interesting. There were about two dozen riders that broke into smaller groups to ride together. Route sheets were accurate and nobody got lost to my knowledge. A long or a short route for the morning and another 50-miler for the afternoon.
After the ride Amy was the Hostess with the Mostest. Chicken, shrimp, hot dogs, and hamburgers were all on the menu plus salad, chips, cookies, eclairs, and pie. Can you say "Stuffed to the MAX"?
As it was the 4th of July a variety of very nice, semi-professional fireworks was lit off for all to enjoy. The names of the parties involved will be withheld to protect the guilty.
If you weren't there you missed a great time. However, there is still hope. The Ropers are planning on making it an annual affair. And the nameless party has promised even more and better fireworks next time!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
I'll write up the ride report of Amy's Tiddler Ride tomorrow.
In the mean time check this out. Ignite is a series of everyday people making 5 minute presentations on anything they want to. If you're not familiar with the format, an Ignite talk is 5 minutes long with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. No notes. No podium. Just a big stage, a big screen and a mike. Think PowerPoint without the snooze!
Check these two out.
Matt Harding will keep you fascinated with his breakneck presentation.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
David sent the link to the eBay auction for these. Five limited edition custom built bikes, one in each neon color, are for sale at US$35,000 each. The pictures show a prototype with wide car tires that would be impossible to turn but I'll assume that round profile tires will be coming on the final motorcycle.
I don't have the cash but I'd seriously consider it if I did. First, I was a big fan of the movie and, second, it's a lot more appealing than most of the chopper/bobber/same-old crap I've seen for the same or more money. Put the VFR1200 engine in it and it would sing to me.
Gizmodo has a good article about the bike here. It also has links to trailers and videos from the original movie. You had to be a true geek to really appreciate the first Tron. All the references to the computer parts and procedures were a big part of its charm. Looking back at it now it's interesting to see how the world has changed. My Droid has a million times more power and capability than my first computer.
The new Tron movie is scheduled to be released in December. I'll be there. However, I doubt that it will be on a Lightcycle.