31 May 2009 “Fear Is Just Another F Word” billg

The only thing to fear, is fear itself

The only thing to fear, is fear itself

This week has been somewhat crazy. The S2R1000 was due for valve adjusting while the ST3 was still 2,000 miles shy. Thankfully whenever I have one bike tore down, I use the other and in the last month I’ve driven the Jeep twice. I think by now I have fully been indoctrinated into a full fledged two wheeler. I can remember back in 2007 when I purchased the ST, there were a lot of unanswered questions. How difficult is it going to be to maintain? How expensive are parts going to be? How steep is the learning curve? Will I fit the bike? I know it takes time to acclimate to anything and bikes are something like a good pair of sneakers. The first time you slip them on, it’s alienating. You catch hints of what can be, but you truly wont know until you break them in and put some miles on them.

The same is for every bike I’ve ever ridden. From dirt bikes, to cruisers, to Ducati’s. The first thing that felt right about the Ducati was the motor. It eliminated the fear that I would accidentally let the bike get away from me; yet when I wanted to feel the power, it was right where I wanted it. Even this morning while taking a break from tuning the ST3, I shot into town for my usual breakfast anytime hangout, Waffle House. The ride there is uneventful except for two points of interest, the entrance ramps onto and off of the bypass. The entrance ramp is perfectly curved as it grades upward until you come to the top and stand the bike up, do the half body twist to confirm no one is coming up fast and you give her the gas. Ahhhh yes, the rewards of low end torque. From 40 to 70 in no time. After a few minutes it’s time to peel off the bypass for the exit ramp. This ramp crosses over another road as it curves downward with a constant radius. The interesting part of this is the concrete wall on the outside of this single lane spiral. The rewards for ignoring that along with coming into it at 70 then downshifting to third while you shave 15mph off is a hoot. The only catch is you can’t hold a tight line. The asphalt has this cracking in it that bleeds water even days after it has rained. So long as you ignore the concrete and the water and keep looking ahead in the turn, the thrill is over as you glance back to check on merging with the road you just crossed over. This is where I have learned to love the desmo engine. How it complies with the situation, stays in the power, and does it with such elegance that you ride with ease… relaxed, focused and unafraid of the bike since you feel how much torque is coming out and the chassis tells you it’s all good grip.

I’m sure every other rider has the same feeling for what they ride. But what makes any bike so unique is how the individual adapts in his or her own way to riding style. Riding bikes has always been an experience of feeling connected. Your entire body coordinates controls at every limb, your eyes, and even your seat of your pants feedback what the bike is doing and in split seconds without thinking you make constant adjustments to everything that has to do with riding. I think the latter has a lot to do with why many people don’t ride. The fear that if they get one thing wrong, it’s a one way ticket to the ER. They let that fear of “brakes, clutch, gas, shift” on a two wheeled beast get the best of them. The thought of them freezing up at a critical time while going head long into a crevasse is burnt into their minds. And no amount of explanations, theory, or repetition will rid this image from them. They hold onto those three famous words, “Bikes are dangerous”. You can’t reason with them. You try to tell them, “Life is dangerous. We all die. We fall off ladders. We get caught in shoot outs. We get hit by trains. We have strokes with no warning. We electrocute ourselves. The list goes on and on. What better way to go than on a bike, rather sitting on the toilet and doing your best impersonation of Elvis.

Be safe.

28 May 2009 – Depeche and Me

I’ve been busy filling orders this week. It’s been another good week of sales, as people try to get things ordered before the Army yanks me away again tomorrow. I should be able to get everything out. Several stockouts are still frustrating things, but I’m used to it. If I stressed every time I couldn’t get a part, I would have had a heart attack long ago. Speaking of heart attack, I think I’m going to head out to the beach today and run along the Gulf. I won’t be able to get out there again for at least a month, so I might as well enjoy the main draw of Pcola.

The heat and humidity are returning to Pensacola. It will be a swamp by the time I return the middle of June.  Things will be crazy for me in June, and crazier in July. I’ll be here in July, but will be pulling double duty with big changes at DT and playing professor at the Univ.

As I pack the latest batch of orders, I’m jamming to the new Depeche Mode album. I’ve been a fan of theirs since the late 80s. The new album is probably their best effort since Violator. Good stuff if your into techno progressive. I wish I could sing, or play an instrument, or dance. My skillset is limited to wrenching, twisting the throttle, blathering in front of students, and tryng to spread US influence overseas. Well, there are a few other skills I possess, but I’m a modest man. (yeah, right!).

I’ll be packing up my riding gear in a box and shipping it to CA today. I need to make a packing list, as each year I reinvent the wheel for gathering the stuff I need. I’ll see temps from 40 to 100, and have to pack everything into a small magnetic tankbag. Living for 4 days out of a tankbag? Piece of cake. Dave confirmed that the Streetfighter S came in for our test. The others should follow in the next few weeks.

Back to work… Me and Depeche Mode that is. Talk to you tomorrow about what lies in store for DT.

Enjoy your TH.

27 May 2009 – Frantic

I spent the day frantically trying to tie up loose ends on orders and then headed to Alabama for my usual weekly visitation activities. I have less than 3 days to wrap everything else up so that I can blow town. Before I head out, I’ll announce something that I hope will have far-reaching implications for DT and one that offers a win-win situation for both the business and the parties involved.

My fitness training prior to the big PT test is almost over. There isn’t much I can do between now and Monday to prepare for it. I have a few more workouts and runs planned, but will rest this weekend prior to arriving in Wisconsin.  

I have to motivate for the next few weeks, and try to not think about the 2800 miles I have to drive. Instead, I’ll try to think about the fun awaiting with the Naked bikes in CA.

Not much motorcycle stuff going on in my head. I’ll switch back into that mode in a few weeks.

Enjoy your Wed.

26 May 2009 – Weird Animal Day

Le Chupra Cabra? Mini Sasquatch?  Who knows, but it was in my back yard. Tasty, huh?

While I was cutting the grass in the back yard yesterday, I almost ran over some weird looking dead animal in my path. All that was left was a head, shoulders and front legs. About the size of a small dog, it had teeth like a dog, but not those of a beaver. The back of my property has water in it, and I know beavers are in there, but this critter looked weird. Whatever it was, it got into a big fight…. and lost. Poor thing.

I’ve had a lot of people thank me of late for serving in the military. I’ve always been proud to serve, but a bit embarrassed to accept thanks. I guess I’ve always believed it’s a priviledge to serve. Besides, I think it gives me the right to bitch about things. In terms of social engineering, I like the social model proposed in Starship Troopers…. you don’t achieve citizen status until you’ve served. The Spartans had something like that, but their society was FUBAR and very oppressive. Anyway, memorial day is a special day, so I hope folks remembered the fallen.

I had the opportunity to take a local gal out last weekend, but passed on the chance. I was introduced through a friend and she called me. When the phone rang, the number showed up as restricted. I chatted with her a bit and agreed for a luncheon. Then it got weird. She said she wanted to meet me at the luncheon, but didn’t want to give out her phone # or any other contact information. That seemed weird. I assured her that given my standing, the last thing I was interested in was becoming a stalker or weirdo. She remained adamant. The whole conversation was just a little too weird, so I simply asked her if she ever heard of a Ducati 916. She said no. I then told her that as a writer of Ducati technical manuals, I was VERY picky about whom I dated, and that if she didn’t know what a 916 was, I wasn’t interested in dating her. She then hung up on me…. That’s my weird moment of the week. Imagine, a woman not knowing what a 916 is. That’s like not knowing who Valentino Rossi is.

The ST2 got shined up and rolled out for a longish ride today. It was a bit toasty, but several rain showers cooled me off. I don’t mind riding in the rain, but when the nads get wet, the fun stops. The ST was flawless, as always.

80 boxes are crammed into the back of the Prius. I don’t think I’ll be able to get that many boxes into a sportscar, but who cares? I’ve got a near-new Avalanche for hauling large loads. The whole lot goes out in the AM, and I’ll be happy camper.

I’m heading out Friday afternoon bound for Bham. Bluto and Michael are standing by for a nice dinner out. I’ll crash at Bluto’s on Friday and head out for Wisc early Saturday. I may make a detour through Missouri, but haven’t decided as yet.  I need to report into Fort McCoy Sunday morning and turn back into a student again. The older I get, the tougher a sell that concept is to my puny brain. Or maybe I’m just too set in my ways and want to be the teacher rather than the student.

Enjoy your Tue.

25 May 2009 – Get a life

It’s 11:15 on a Sunday night, a holiday even, and I’m still working away. I need to get a life. Since getting home, I’ve worked about 15 hours this weekend on orders. I should be all caught up on them by mid-Memorial day. This crap of working all weekend is getting old, but I have no choice until my Army stuff is over.

Three product stockouts are causing me fits. The first is stockout of 800cc belts. I ordered them prior to my departure for Tampa, but they still aren’t in, and a call to my supplier yielded no joy. The problem is with Ducati. Another stockout is a variant of the powerlet battery upgrade kits. I ordered them 3 weeks ago and still await them. Those two stockouts are affecting 7 orders. Because I have no idea when the belts are coming in, I’m deleting them from customer orders and shipping everything else. The last stockout item is 24/26mm box end wrenches for the eccentrics on Testa and ST series. My supplier switched to a crap importer and the last batch I recieved were cheap cast pieces. I need thin-wall high quality ones to fit around the belt tensioner eccentric. I’ll be looking locally this week to fill the orders.

Time to hit the rack. I’m taking a break and heading out of town for a spell tomorrow for some R&R. I deserve it. I’m going to enjoy a nice 5k run to start the day. Life is good.

Enjoy your Memorial Day, and for those of you that have served or are serving a special thanks.

23.5 May 2009 – Product Availability Updates

My batch of Surflex clutch plates from Italy is in to fill that hole in my supply. Likewise, Bucci came up with some belts for the 2v 900 and 4v 851-996. No other belts from Bucci. I am in the middle of a belt supply crisis on other models though. None are showing up from Ducati. I’m out of 800cc belts and DS1000 belts, and have low stock on the ST4S and Testa. It isn’t like I don’t order them. No aftermarket availability on any of them other than the sparce coverage from Bucci. Frack.

Thankfully, most other stuff is in. I’ll update here with backorders for customers as I wade through the 80 orders in my in-box.

Enjoy your Sat.

23 May 2009 – Swimming Home

It has rained most of the last 5 days in Tampa. South Florida has been in a drought for 3 years, so this is very unusual. They need the rain, but I’m sure they would like to see it spread out over weeks or months. By the looks of the weather forecast, I’ll be bringing the rain home with me. The Prius is rock-steady in the rain, so I’ll be blasting up I-75 all afternoon/evening to make it home regardless if I have to swim.

I had dinner with COL Reap and my roomie on Wed night at a quaint English pub. Good food and brew and light conversation. Because my non-motorcycling roomie was with us, there wasn’t much motorcycling talk. The night before I went over to COL Reap’s apartment to help him set up the suspension on his ST4S. Unfortunately he didn’t have a socket big enough to adjust the preload on the front forks. We did what we could, but setting front preload is fairly important. I got a free pizza out of it though, so at least I was happy. Vinnie Reap is a good guy, and is passionate about motorcycling.

COL Reap forged the way for me to talk to another COL about possible missions downrange this fall. Different country than my last gig.  I’m not a Tactical Operations Center kind of guy, so I’m scouting other possibilities. I’d rather be doing the things that other people are tracking. My office mate here at SOCOM is just the opposite. He’s a Ranger, but could care less about leaving the FOB (forward operating base). I know the odds are with me for returning safe and sound from any mission. That’s the beauty of probability. However, if I was going to get whacked, I’d rather have it happen out on a mission than having a mortar round land on my hooch in a FOB. Just my way of looking at things

No world-level motorcycle racing this weekend. Maybe I’ll have time to download the last 2 rounds of WSB and watch that. I’m out of touch with what’s going on, but other priorities have been upon me.

I chatted with Bluto online the last few days and told him that I’m a no-go for the trip out West. He already knew from talks with Dan. Meanwhile Dave said there have been cutbacks at the magazine and our trip will only be 4 days instead of 5. I volunteered to put some money in the kitty to stay an extra day in Northern CA, but he was adamant. So a 6 day trip total instead of my usual 7. Oh well, my customers will be one day happier then. Airfare this year was notably cheaper than last year’s trip.

No-go on the car search thus far. I have auction companies working on my behalf to find me one, but nothing thus far. One auctioneer had a line on one, but decided to call me to ask if it was OK to place a bid. I can’t make or receive calls during the day in SOCOM, so I returned the call at the end of the day to call him a Mullet-head. I did test-drive one last Sunday at a local snobitorium import dealer. I just love it when a salesman sizes you up and acts like a snob. I felt like tweaking his ear for treating me like a commoner. Of course, I’m sure the shorts and tank top didn’t help. Maybe he knew he makes 1/4 of my income and was just jealous. Don’t worry, I didn’t get into a battle of wits with him. I kept my mouth shut. I did turn the  nameplate on his desk upside down while he wasn’t looking though.

I’ll be catching up on orders this weekend. Another 2 week hiatus on shipments begins next Friday, so if you need anything quickly, order it this coming week.

Enjoy your Weekend

22 May 2009 – “Release the Scion” (by billg)

No, I’m not touting the car, but I am touting the campaign that was used as Scion prepped on of their models with a campaign that had “the people” demanding the release of the model. Funny how marketing works like that. They create their own buzz. They infect the public with the desire to have something they most likely don’t even need. Heck, I still have my 1993 Jeep Cherokee. No telling how many cars friends and family have gone through. I see the Jeep as something practical. It does a job. It does it well. I let it live in my driveway.

One cool thing about marketing is that if you do already desire a product, say a Street Fighter, then you buy into all the hype. You relish any sort of “spy fotos”. You check multiple bulletin boards in search of new information. Are the brakes better than the 1198? What’s all this about “false neutrals”? Are they releasing the S and the Base model? RELEASE THE SCION!!!

Well this weekend there will be many a happy owner as they parlay that down payment, go through what seems like an hour of paper work before finally being handed over the keys to the bike. The national release of the Street Fighter! It’s nice getting something new. It’s even nicer getting something that is the first run. A full on, balls out, rabid super bike… with no clothes. Who cares what the Emperor thinks. Naked is just fine! That’s how we come into this world. That’s how we try to get our significant others! That’s how we should ride.

Even this week, I rode in the mist / rain on the S2R. The air was cool. Damp pant legs be damned. I ride a naked! RELEASE THE SCION! While I wont be jumping onto a new Street Fighter, I am looking at letting the ST3s go. I took a step Wednesday evening by drawing some 6% apr bank money out to pay GE Money the balance due. That will generate my title in a week or so. It also lowers the interest I was paying on the bike. I should have done it a while back. I’m not in a pressure situation, which is how any purchase or sale should take place. I will let the emotions simmer, stir in some Thyme (time) and see how things mesh later this summer. Maybe I will be happy being debt free for a bit… who knows.

But one thing is for sure, that Street Fighter will be out there. Taunting me in my dreams like when the mini cooper S came out. (voice in my head) Join the club! Let’s go motoring! I have a racing stripe! It will all work out, it always does. Sometimes for the better! Heck I’ve got a little more than two years before the end of the world. That’s plenty of time before Nostra Dumbass’ “end of the world” takes place. Isn’t this the um-teenth time the world was supposed to end? Hmmm, I guess history REALLY does repeat itself.

RELEASE THE SCION! Have a safe ride.

18 May 2009 – Musings from Tampastan

WSB and MotoGP spoiler below…

So Mark has the hots for a supersled. I’m not surprised. The man loves horsepower. Good luck trying to keep stickies on those wheels with that hp. You’ll be leaving black strips coming out of every corner. Not like that’s a bad thing.

I saw the results of the WSB races yesterday. I’ll have to ask Vinnie how they were. Things are looking up for Haga. As I’ve opined, consistency wins championships. DNFs kill such hopes.

I wish Casey did better yesterday, but Rossi’s DNF helps a bit. If Casey could have put it on the podium, Ducati really could have eaten into Rossi’s lead.  It’s a long season, so we’ll see what unfolds.

I haven’t thought much about motorcycles since coming to Tampa. The heat and being away from my own bikes has allowed me to refocus on my military stuff. That’s not all bad. I’ll get my fill of riding the end of June. In the meantime I don’t think I’ll be riding again in Pcola until the fall. I’m used to that, so it’s no biggie. If I mobilize, the Ducs will rest dormant until the fall of 2010. I’ll come home often enough to fire them up and keep the gas fresh. I decided that if the business stays open, the bikes will vacate the Ark and the inventory will move in. It would be far easier to make the Ark a workplace than the detached garage. After all, that’s what the Ark was built for.

By the looks of it, I’ll come home to a full shopping cart this weekend. Rather than do my usual dive-in and work nonstop routine to fill the orders, I’ll try to pace myself and enjoy a little bit of the holiday weekend. I can’t ship until next Tuesday anyway due to the holiday. I have some fun planned next weekend, so I’m looking forward to getting back home.

Five more days in the office here in Tampa and I’m out of here. After running outside again this week, I think I’ll be ready for the inside running track at UWF when I get back. I ran 5 miles yesterday morning on base, and thought I was going to die. Freaking hot. I had to shut my heartrate monitor off during the run, because the over-rev beep was screaming at me non-stop. Good thing I didn’t blow a gasket or something. To make me feel better, I checked the weather forecast for Wisconsin last night – highs in the low 70s and overnight lows in the mid 50s. That sounds about perfect right now.

Enjoy your Week.

17 May 2009 – So…I need 203hp…(by Mark)

I’m thinking about getting one of these.  I want something with gobs of power and not needing service every 6k that I would ride ALOT.  Gotta be a fairly comfortable sports bike.  Let me know your thoughts.  Yes, I like the looks.  Yes, I’d get rid of my ST.

For those that know me, I’ve been looking at “another” bike for a good year now but financial self discipline has held me back…unlike another person we know…but we digress.   I’ve lusted to varying degrees after the likes of an Aprilia Tuono, Streetfighter, Gold Wing and Monster S2R1000 to name a few.  Each, I’ve eyed as an “additional” bike as none fit the bill of my favorite ride, my ST4S.  It can go 2 up for moderate distances, run errands with room to carry things and carve corners with all but the pure superbikes…due to those ever present, damn them!, ground clearance issues.  To fit the “replacement” bill I’ve also lusted after the latest version of the Kawasaki Councours 14 (C14).  Nice ride but still a bit too hulking for my dual role liking…and my wife did NOT care for the looks.  That’s important!  I like the new C14 primarily because it has gobs of grunt ala it’s ZX14 engine.  So…all the raves about long range capability of the ZX14 got me to looking.  It’s got a look you either love or hate, and I love.  It’s also got a nice range of high end accessories including 187mph hard bags.  Top that off with it’s just a slightly stretched superbike and the fact that my wife thinks it’s more “blingy” than the ST (that means she likes it more) means it’s a contender as my next bike.  Yes, the one I’m considering is in silver, just like the photo.  IF I should go through with this what would I initially mod?  1.  full yoshimura exhaust 2.  corbin hard bags and then eventually, well, who knows?  It never ends, right?   No, no flames or mohawks.  Yes, I’d kick LT’s MV ass.