?? May 2010 – What day is it?

Just got into Hollywood again.  I know it’s Saturday but have no idea the day of the month. Anyway, here’s our tally – 5 days, 1900 miles, 4 states, 1 seriously rashed FJR1300, and 4 tired riders. No rain on our end. Great temps, great roads and awesome scenery. I’m over riding for a bit. I’ve flogged sport tourers through more curves than I care to count. Time to play for a few days here before I fly back.  I don’t want to fly back. Same old shit back there with the same situation. At least I got to escape it for a week. No good deed goes unpunished – I volunteered to write up the story of the bike test. I’ve got a week to do it once I get back.

Mark is shy but I ain’t – here’s to all the vets and their families. Thanks for the service. Freedom isn’t free. Or as Ken would say, don’t thank a vet… sign up and become one.

From Hollywood, CA… Have a good holiday.

LT out….

29 May 2010- Memorial Day weekend is a washout down here (Mark)

Best wishes to all for this Memorial Day weekend.  This weekend is becoming a washout for local riding.  Heavy thunderstorms popping up at all times today and it looks like throughout the weekend.  I suppose that will leave me guilt free to sit in front of the big screen and watch the Turkish Formula 1 race, Indy 500 and World Superbike from Salt Lake City tomorrow and Monday.  Not too shabby I guess.  If you’ve got riding weather I hope you’re enjoying it.  Mark out……………….

25 May 2010 – I lied, another post

Greetings from the Hollywood hills at my buddy's posh house.
Nice flights, great food, and a party tonight in Hollywood with the
Maxim girls. .
Heading out in the AM
The route:

Day One:
Ortega Hwy (74) to 215, 247 to Barstow, 15E to Vegas. First night
at Planet Hollywood, off the strip next to the Paris.

Day Two:
Continue on 15 through AZ into Utah, turn right on 14 through Zion
Park to 89 N to 12 E to Torrey. Stay at Sandstone Inn, Torrey;
875 E. Hwy. 24; 435-425-3775

Day Three:
Hwy 24 W to 95 S to 276 S to 95 E to 261 S to 163 E to Bluff.
Stay at Desert Rose Inn; 701 W. Main Street; Bluff; 435-672-2303

Day Four:
163 W to Kayenta (stop at Burger King for Code Talker memorial),
160 W to 89 S to 64 W to Grand Canyon, 180 S to Flagstaff, 89A
(Oak Creek Cny) to Sedone, Jerome and Prescott. Stay at American
Motel, 1211 E. Gurley St., Prescott; 928-778-4322

Day Five:
89 S to 71 W to 10 W to California, 78 S to Borrego Springs to
S22 W to S2 W to 79 N to 76 N to (optional S7 over Palomar) 15 to
74 to home (optional 76 to S13 to Fallbrook, Mission Rd to
De Luz to Murrieta and 74 to home.

24 May 2010: In A Rut? Take A Ride! (Bill G)

For months I had been waiting for the weekend of May 15 to arrive. The members of the Ducati.ms bulletin board had been planning a trip to Deals Gap since December. Luckily I got word of it a few months ago and decided it was a much needed trip to get away from things. I’ve taken a few trips to North Georgia, but this would be my first visit to Deals Gap. So much is talked about the area and you wonder as a first timer whether it lives up to the chatter. Will the Dragon be all pucker and no fun? Will there be too many people there? Will I have fun?

Well first off I had to chose to either take the S2R1000 or the Streetfighter. I decided since it was my first visit there and I had so much more time on the S2R, I would be more comfortable with any situation than with the Streetfighter. Plus the S2R had a fresh 2CT rear tire. The only other things to make sure of were changing the oil, freshen the brake and clutch fluids, and check and wax the chain. Since the S2R and the Streetfighter get ridden all the time, I knew I had no hidden issues. My Jeep sitting in the driveway, well that’s another story of abuse and neglect. The battery is always low from lack of use.

With bags packed and bike gassed up, I made my way up US19 then East on 16 to avoid I-75 as much as I could. I met up with Ducati.ms member Theo who was riding his 999r. Going through Atlanta is never a pleasure, but we needed to get to hwy 400 to rendezvous with more people. What should have been a 7 hour ride ended up being more like 13. Alex, the person who set up the meet, was also hosting a friend from Iceland. It seems that Alex had visited Iceland and by chance bumped into Torfi and as it worked out, Torfi lent Alex a bike to ride around Iceland. In the interest of good rider diplomacy, Alex invited Torfi to the event and graciously lent Torfi his very nice 749.

Since we were unsure of the weekend weather, Alex wanted to make sure Torfi got in all the good roads. So not being the one to wuss out, I went along. It was well worth it as Alex was the perfect guide/pacesetter for the ride. This is probably one important thing to keep in mind when thinking of riding in unknown parts, hook up with someone who knows the area, the roads and save yourself from being worried about where you are and where you’re going. That’s not to say you should not look over maps of the area and have it with you. One thing you will not find in the mountains is cell service. You may find it in a town, but on the roads between towns is off the grid.

So after leaving Thursday morning from South Georgia at 8:30am, we took the round about way to the Fontana Lodge. We rolled in at 9:30pm. While the Monster can be cramped for taller folks, I managed ok except for my left knee which has issues when left in one position. The Fontana Lodge is a fantastic meeting place. It’s just minutes from the Dragon, secluded, safe, and plenty of room to stash your trailer if you brought one. That’s not to mention the nice people who work there, they went out of their way to accommodate us.

Left to Right: Theo, myself and Torfi

Friday morning we set out for the Dragon at 8:30am. It was nice to just have to deal with the tailbag after lugging my backpack the previous day. Note to self, “pack lighter”! Leaving the lodge, our first of three incidents happened. A gentleman from Indiana who trailered it to the lodge is ahead of me and had not ridden at all yet, well the drive way to the lodge is no picnic and he ended up lowsiding into the gravel. He was ok. The Hyper was totaled. What a way to start the day! Everyone felt terrible. Not for it happening, but the fact that it happened before he could even enjoy any roads. Given that the roads in the area are not to be taken for granted, I think things fared well when you consider 40 some riders, three falls, two bikes totaled. No injuries. Things happen, that’s why we wear all that shit to protect our bodies and our bikes. I bought new boots and riding pants a month earlier so I had everything broke in and pretested.

The run through the Dragon was fun. I would not put it as the end all to roads as our ride on hwy 28 was much more free spirited and not like a carnival ride. I mean no disrespect to the Dragon (for fear of retribution by the lady), but it is best ridden during the week. Friday was hedging it a bit. The real benefit to our timing of the event was that the famed rock slide that had shut the Dragon down, was still being cleaned up. So no going through the Dragon. No thru traffic like semis. One way in, one way out.

While it is sometime nice to just be on your own, the Ducati.ms East Coast Meet offered the opportunity to put faces to screen names, establish new friendships, learn from others, and share the experience of your ride. The Meet managed all of the above and with the addition of a scheduled dinner event with guest speakers and still more riding to do on Saturday, going on a planned event can be a good thing. Granted not all of us rode in one long line of 40 bikes. We broke into sub groups and apart from the dinner, you decided what you wanted to do. After riding, there was plenty of fireside chat with beverages to tell tales and get to know one another better. Attitudes were checked at the door, and everyone got along great. My guess is that while there were some younger riders, many were in that over 35 club and had nothing to prove.

Vacation does not mean you wont work!

While we had no major issues. Alex’s 749 had no rear brakes. We bled them at Wheeler’s, but still they were not working. The 749 must have been a marked bike, as our Saturday ride down hwy 28 had us in a thunder/hail storm. We never made it to our lunch destination and held up at the Chile Loco mexican restaurant. On returning to Fontana, the 749 managed a nice tire tear. Plugs failed. Alex and Torfi stayed with the bike while myself Theo and Gary high tailed it back to fetch Gary’s truck. What would a mini vacation be without some sort of excitement. No amount of planning will guarantee good weather, but packing the right gear will make it less of an issue.

Sunday came much too soon. And with it the further threat of rain. Theo, DanH and I high tailed it off the mountain and made our way back to life as we left it. There are two ways your leave a vacation. One way is you can’t wait to get home and damn yourself for getting into it. The other and much preferable way is you feel slightly depressed that you are going back to your daily life. It’s that feeling you had on the mountain that draws you back. Hopefully with some of the same people you met, maybe some new friends. Either way, if you are in a rut, take a ride!

Link to my facebook page with more photos

21 May 2010 – Outta here until after Memorial day

This will be my last post until my return from the testing in California. I don’t seem to be able to use WordPress from my iphone, so no road posts. Instead I’ll send tweets via twitter on my ride evaluation of the VFR1200, Concours 14, FJR1300 and KTM SMT. You can sign up for the tweets from the main web page.

All else is well, but now that the heat is here I’m dreading all the yard work that needs to be done. I used to be fastidious about keeping the yard fit and trim. That crap ended when Suzi left. It’s just too much work for one tired dude.

Enjoy your week.

19 May 2010 – Contact info and blog content

I got an email from a customer/friend asking why I divulge personal stuff on the blog. If you look at the title it says it all “musings about Desmo Times, Ducatis, & LIFE”. My life. This blog is as much a journal as anything. Still, I don’t divulge everything because some people reading this aren’t necessarily friendly to my cause. My real friends know what’s been going down with me, so I don’t need to fill them in. Most are on facebook with me. If you want to be a facebook friend, do a search for Stephen Snyder in Pensacola and you’ll find me. I haven’t really used facebook much. For one, I have friends on there that are merely high school acquaintenances that I haven’t spoken to since graduation. They’re not really friends, just acquaintences. At least there I can screen who gets to read my info. Today I did a purge of people that I’m acquaintences with but not really friends. It kills me that I can’t tell the story of what’s really happened the last year but it probably wouldn’t bring any satisfaction anyway.  I guess I’m more interested in countering the lies but, like I said, my friends know the deal so it shouldn’t matter. After all, you can’t change the opinions of the uninformed, especially if they’ve made up their minds already. On my end, I know what has to be done.

I missed it, but last month was the 4 year anniversary of the blog. Things have been a roller coaster for the past 3 years – the building of the Ark, my divorce, and happenings the last year. The stabilizing force in all this has been my careers and friends. Great careers that have proven to be both predictable and profitable. With so much uncertainty in the economy and storm clouds looking for the future prosperity of this country, it’s good not have to rely on any one source of income.

I’m busy cleaning up loose ends before heading to California. Yesterday I had to get the A/C charged on the Boxster-S. Germans make great heaters, but aren’t so good with A/C.  I also packed my gear in a box to ship to CA, but then discovered  it would have been $100 because I waited a few days too long to ship it. I’ll be checking luggage at this point. I hate doing that.

After a full leg workout today, I’m spanked. Two a-days are starting to become the norm a few days each week. I just can’t do cardio after lifting weights for an hour. I’d P-90x it, but I don’t think that would help me much. I’m already toned. A 6-pack would be nice, but I already do enough ab work. I guess I’m pretty satisfied with where I’m at. Gone are the days when I would try to bulk up weight lifting. You can’t spot gain, and I’d rather keep my flat stomach than gain weight everywhere. My frame just can’t carry a lot of weight. I’d rather be tall, with a slender body that has issues with certain exercises like squats, than be shorter yet capable of benching a freight train. The whole muscle confusion aspect of new fitness regimens is a good idea, but I enjoy lifting, so I’ll stick with it.

I’ve had issues with my #1 supplier, Procutting, of late. Charlie is trying his best but has been unable to ship any clutch baskets to me. Worse, Charlie doesn’t just tell me that he can’t bake the cake, he has to tell me the status of each ingredient in the cake AND his equipment status. I have about 70 different suppliers. I don’t really care why they can’t ship me stuff I need, I just need an ETA.  With Charlie, I try to have a sympathetic ear because he’s such a good guy, but I just really care about the ship date. I’ll have my baskets by Monday, so it’s not a crisis.


18 May 2010 – Belts!

At long last, aftermarket belts are available for most Ducati models. I got in the belts for the variant 848/1098/1198,  another for the ST4/ST4S, and a third for the 600, 620, 750, 800 motors. That should make a lot of people very happy when it comes to belt replacement time. Overall cost is about half for the pricey OEM belts like the ST4S, and Testa and about 60% of the cost of the smaller belts like the 600.  The links for all the variants are on the maintenance page. That’s it for product news other than the fact that the silicon hose kits are STILL 2 weeks out.

I worked last night in the workshop, knocking out half of Greg’s 999 valve adjust. Gone are the days when I can spend long hours in the shop and do a full valve adjust on a 4-valver. I just don’t have the patience. If I was a full-time wrench, I’d be stir crazy. It makes me appreciate full time techs more. Last night I spent 15 minutes fishing a closer shim from the well around the valve seal. It fell out of my hands before I could get it over the valve stem and my magnetic pickup too was too wide to fit in the port around the valve stem.  I’m off to the painters with Greg’s tank and mirrors. Then I get to piece the new bodywork together.

My stress level is down, but sleep is still a problem. I was up late last night (well, late for me) chatting with a new friend, so we’ll see where that goes. Brian G told me to just find a large ugly gal that would appreciate me more. Sage advice I suppose, but not my cup of tea.

No takers yet on the bikes for sale. I’m shocked. :-/

Enjoy your Week.

16 May 2010 – Barber Time


Every time I go to Barbers I end up with a picture of me next to the Britten. Once again, I think it’s the most beautiful bike ever made. I still get chills when I look at it in the flesh.

I made a dash up to the Barbers Museum on Friday with Tom Westcott, Brad Gaines, The Robinsons and Dan Bowman. We left at noon and got caught in Birmingham traffic, but it wasn’t too bad. It only took a few hours for me to see all I wanted to see at the museum. It’s fun to go there with people that have never seen it. The look on their faces when they see the vastness of the place is priceless. How motorcyclists can not go to Mecca is beyond me. My buddy Tom, shod to a Harley, didn’t want to take back roads on the way home, so we slabbed back. Boring! On the boring slab ride all I did was think, which is the same thing I did all the way to Pennsylvania and back in the cage last week. While in the motel, Tom and Dan tried to do an intervention on me to get rid of  her. You know, when all you get is feedback telling you to do something you don’t want to, even though you know it’s the best thing for you, stress builds up and causes weird shit to happen to your head.

Back in home station, I found a big ass box on the porch.. Greg’s long-lost Bayliss Replica 999 bodywork from China. The stuff is gorgeous. Those Chinese can’t build a good motorcycle yet, but they’ve got bodywork down. Wait til you see it. I have to take the tank and mirrors to the painters first. Greg’s 999 is going to be beautiful!

After pondering this since my return from active duty, the motorcycle collection is going to be significantly pared down. It isn’t a reaction to her screwing with my head. It’s just a realization that I’d probably be just as happy owning a few motorcycles and 18 is about 14 too many. 10 of them are up on the “bikes for sale” page. It will take years to sell them. I’m not giving them away. Given my attention to detail and the mods, they’re worth it. Well, at least I think they are. We’ll see what the masses of Ducatisti think.

So Ducati IS competitive in WSB, at least in Kyalami. I haven’t been focused on racing lately, but I did catch the rumors circulating that Bayliss is thinking of a comeback. And with Haga’s performance, he may just be able to slide into a vacant seat next year. I only want him to come back if he wins. Call me spoiled.

I have a week of prep before I fly to CA for the bike test. I’m looking forward to seeing Dave and Donnie. I’m sure I’ll get two more opinions on what I should do. Thus far, my heart is the only vote to say Nyet!

The results of my 2nd MRI came back and show a 4mm tear in cartlidge in the knee. I’m getting a second/third opinion on the MRI. I’m back doing wind sprints. The knee isn’t getting worse, but tears don’t heal. The specialist told me I can just tough it out or have surgery and be off running for 6 months. I don’t trust doctors very much when it comes to surgery, so I’m getting more opinions. By brother had knee surgery and told me to only use it as a last resort. I can do anything I want, but if I plan on running a lot, it’s going to have to be fixed.

Bill, it was nice to read your facebook updates on your ride. Thanks for that.

That’s it for this weekend. This week will be hodge-podge of stuff around the shop. I’ll try to focus enough to turn a few wrenches.

Enjoy your week.

13 May 2010 – News from the Front

Wow, what a week. I just got back in from my trip to Pennsylvania. I left last Friday, but got a late start and got held up in Atlanta. What a friggin’ nightmare driving through there on a Friday. Anyway, my trip was a success, I got to see my my Mom, and I visited my good friend COL Doyle in North Carolina on the way back. I even got to see two of my sisters. I’m done with driving for awhile though. 2500 miles in 4 days of driving is enough.  I froze my ass off in PA. Daytime temps were in the 50s. I don’t remember it being like that in May.

Dink, I’ll give you a shout when I get back from my trip to CA to test bikes to do a nice dinner. I’m really looking forward to it. I have a week to relax next week working on DT stuff, then fly to LA to test the bikes. No MTS! Damn. We get the new VFR, the Concours 14, the FJR and the KTM tourer. Dave said Ducati didn’t want us to test the MTS against those bikes because they weren’t in the same class. Whatever.  Anyway, I’ll spend a full week in Calif. Dave’s brother Donnie is like a real brother to me, and he just bought a killer house on a bluff overlooking LA so I’ll shack up with him for a few days. I don’t know where we’re going to ride, but it doesn’t matter. Riding in Calif is awesome regardless of what direction you take. That reminds me, time to pack up my gear and mail it out to the MCN offices. Now where did I put my heated vest? Hmmm.

I know… the book… When I get back in June, I’ll start at it again. I’ve been so frazzled that I haven’t even been able to concentrate on customer bikes. I only have 2 to finish but am waiting on a set of flatslides and bodywork. Speaking of bikes, I chatted with Miles today about my decision to purge the fleet. Maybe next week I can start listing them for sale. If I sold a dozen in the next year or so, my life would get a LOT simpler. I know, they’re all customs and way cool, but after what I just went through with her, material crap just doesn’t matter so much. I’d rather have more friends and less crap. Seems like a fair trade. Besides, if I sold a dozen bikes, I could pay off the house, and send some money to Suzi.

I’m heading up to the Barber museum with Brad and Tom on Friday. We’re going to do an over-nighter. I could sure use the  distraction.  I haven’t been there in years. If there’s a motorcycle mecca, the Barber museum is it.  The GC is all packed and ready to go… I think.

Well, I saw Biaggi won the double last weekend. He’s kind of a spoiled brat, but I’ve always liked him. Maybe he’ll win a WSB title. That would be good for Aprilia. So what’s the deal with the Ducati Corse team? Is it the damn restrictor plate? Methinks they’ll be easing the requirements on the Ducatis soon. It’s bad business for a Duc not to be podium.

That’s about it for me. I’ll take a few pics at Barber and try to post a few. I know, promises promises.

Enjoy your weekend.