Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Perils Of The Back Yard

I'm not sure what hit me in the leg, as I was running the string-trimmer in the back yard, but it sure did hurt.  I looked down, a few minutes later, and this is what I saw.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Have a Baby Cthulhu Living in My Office

Even the Elder Gods are cute, when they are babies...


Friday, July 22, 2011

Yardsale Skate Find

Found this little guy for a dollar, today:

 The paint is, unfortunately, pretty much worn off.  It is a Roller Derby Skateboard, from the early 1960s.  This was the first commercially available skateboard to hit the market.

 The bearings in the steel wheels are still in pretty good condition.

 But the trucks are loose on the deck.  Plus, they were riveted on, rather than bolted, and one rivet is missing.  So, even if the deck looked like it would hold me, I still wouldn't ride it!

I wish it was in better shape, but it's good enough for my small collection.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

Got into the big bird at about 4:20 (duuuuude!), EDT, yesterday and hit the ground running in Denver at 5:25 PM, local time.  It's nice to have the time change condense a 3 hour flight into 65 minutes on the clock.

The last week, spent with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephews went too, too quickly.  But, I have to admit, it's nice to be home.

Brad came back, last Friday, and I shipped his bicycle out on Saturday.  Once it is back, the trip is as over as it will ever be.

Speaking of Brad, he sent me a message saying that he had gotten the new and improved JINXED blog up and running.

"The new blog is right over the blog roll."

He should have his version of the ride in Indiana up soon.  Check it out.

I got up, this morning, and rode the Scrambler down to Kaladi, to have coffee with Brad.  It was nice to get back into the routine, a bit. 

I took today off, from work, even though I got back yesterday.  Daddy passed away a year ago, today, and I just didn't feel like going in.  I wanted to stay with family, but I just couldn't get the schedule to work out with my time away from work. 

I got back from the coffee shop, and tackled the yard mowing.  Having been gone for two weeks, with rain every evening, apparently, I was looking at a jungle, in the back yard.

I tried to get Jack to go out into the grass, for scale, but he wanted to stick close to me.  Still, I think you get the idea.  Add the rain we had, last night, to the height of the grass, and you can imagine how much fun it was to mow.

An hour later, it looked like this.  My little electric mower earned its keep, today.

The front yard is so shady that it doesn't grow nearly as fast as the back.  I forgot to shoot a picture until I was halfway through with the mowing.  The chair is sitting in the un-mowed portion.  Cutting this took about 10 minutes.

Tomorrow, I go back to work, and ease into the routine.  One day back at the office, before the weekend, shouldn't shock the system, too badly.

I'm sorry that the trip is in the past.  I looked forward to it, for over 6 months, planning and anticipating.  It turned out to be way more fun than I had even hoped.

I think I need to get out of town, more often....


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Five days On the Road - Part Last

The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast at a Bob Evans restaurant.  Then, once again, we followed the giant green pin on the map to Starbucks.

We got on the road, and discussed our plan.  I was to drop Brad at his dad's house, and then go to Petey and Jen's house to spend the night.  They are friends of mine, from back in the time I lived in Columbus, and I had not seen them for 20 years.  I was pretty excited at the prospect of seeing them, again.

We got to Ohio, mid-morning, and rolled up to the senior Click's abode at the stroke of noon.  After a little bit of visiting, I called Petey and got directions to his house, and made my goodbyes to Brad and Harold.  We planned on meeting at the AMA museum at 10:00, the next morning.  So, I headed to Pickerington.

Hanging with the Robertsons was a hoot.  Their two-year-old daughter is 22, now. When she answered the door, it was a bit odd. I had seen pictures of her, but seeing her in real life was something else.

We cooked out, went to the 4th of July parade, where their two boys marched with their Cub Scout Troops, shot fireworks and then watched the Pickerington City fireworks from the driveway.  Petey and I stayed up late, watching a movie and just gabbing, then I collapsed into bed.  Another 18-hour day down...

Petey, Jen and I went to Panera for breakfast, the next morning, and then they headed for work. I drove about a mile down the road to the motorcycle museum, and waited for Brad and Harold.

Once they were there, we all went in and started the tour.

 A recreation of the original Benz cykle...

 I love this logo.

 Rod brakes, on the Triumph.  Motorcycles are, after all, related to bicycles.

 Leather plate chain/belt.

 The Click boys contemplate an Excelsior.

 Factory production drawing.

 BSA, or British Small Arms, logo.

 I am a big fan of drum brakes on old racers.

 This tank has been modified to hold more gas, for Enduro competition.

 This is the bike that has the enlarged tank.

 Scrambler...for real!

 I hope to break my new boots in like this, eventually.


I wonder if I can use this in my airplane...?

After the museum, the three of us had a nice lunch at Cracker Barrel.  Our waitress was apparently related to the girl from Seinfeld, who had the bad laugh.  Once or twice, I though Harold might stick a fork in her eye, as she brayed out her extra-loud ha-ha-ha's.

Brad and I took leave of his dad, then drove over to Pataskala, in order to look at my old house.  All of the trees are gone, and there is a garden shed sitting on the spot where the raspberry patch was.  I was a bit sad to see the changes.  I guess, though, if I didn't want someone to change those things, I shouldn't have moved out.

From there, it was back onto the Interstate (I-76), heading north.  At one point, we passed a completely burned-out (new) VW Beetle on the other side of the highway.  The fire trucks were still there, and there was about a 5-mile backup on the highway.  I was glad we were heading north, instead of south.

Other than passing a car parked on top of a motorcycle, in Mansfield, the rest of the drive was relatively uneventful.  We rolled into Mercer, and my sister's driveway, at about 6:00 PM.  Five days on the road, 1750 miles of driving, and we were finally there.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Five days On the Road - Part 3

The Ride!

Brad and I woke up, early the next morning, in the basement of the Johnson home.  We could hear movement on the floor above us, so we each got dressed and made our ways upstairs.  There, we were greeted by the sight of breakfast mostly on the table, and the smell of good coffee.

I can't over-emphasize just how gracious a hostess Sarah is.  She cooked up a breakfast buffet to suit all tastes, and presented it to us as though we were family.

I won't go into a mile-by-mile description of the ride.  Michael, Tim, Asher and Bill have each written fantastic reports of the route we took, the hills we climbed and the conditions we encountered.  I am unfamiliar with the road names, and the area in general, so I would only be repeating info from their blogs, anyway.

 I picked this bike up from a coffee-shop friend, with no idea what size it was.  iIwas hoping that it would fit me, but when I saw it, I immediately realized it was too big.  I posted on the blog, about the bike, and Bill commented that he would like to buy it.

So, I tuned it up a bit, and replaced a broken spoke, rewrapped the bars, etc., then loaded it into the Nissan for delivery.  I was really hoping that Bill would like it as much, in person, as he had on the internet.  I think that the smile on his face might mean that he did.

I was really glad to finally meet Bill.  He's one of those bloggers I immediately felt a kinship with, the first time I chanced upon his blog.  I have a feeling we will ride together, again.

 I have to admit that I wasn't familiar with Ashers's blog, before we met.  He's an interesting guy, easy to ride with, and enthusiastic about training and racing.  His borrowed bike was a bit of a pill, throughout the day, but he rode it strongly and without complaint.  I like guys like that.

 Tim is a monster, on the bike.  I gave him some kidding about beating his chain up (after he broke it), but it was only partly in jest.  He rode strong, all day, and ran away from me at the end of the day. He's one of those Long haul Trucker guys...

 Michael's LHT.

 My traveling companion presented a dapper appearance, as usual.

Sometimes, I love the challenge of riding off-road and taking photos or video, at speed.  It makes me feel like the Cinema Verite' guys, with their hand-held movie cams and jangly viewpoint. 

 Box turtle? Terrapin?  I don't know.  But, it was, without a doubt, the most photographed reptile in Mellencamp Woods, on Sunday.  We all descended on him like the paparazzi on Sean Penn, although we managed to get away without getting punched-out.  At one point, I think six of us were either taking pictures of him, or of each other taking pictures of him.

We said our goodbyes to the Ninja turtle, and continued on.

 I raced to the bottom of  a hill to try and get some snaps of the other guys.  Here, I display my awesome photograhic skills with which I can make a simple snapshot of my best friend look like a Bigfoot sighting...

 I think Asher was aware that I was attempting to steal his soul, with my magic box.  Luckily for him, the humidity prevented the transfer of aether, and he rode on with his essence intact.

 One of the reasons that Brad and I wanted to ride with Michael, in his home territory, was that Michael's photos of his rides are so compelling.  The terrain, the vegetation, the views and the roads all look like Oz (L. Frank baum's Oz, not the land down under), on his blog.  This is about the only photo that I took which came close to capturing a little of that.

I can tell you, though, that even Micahel's photos don't do total justice to just how lovely the countryside is.  Brad and I live in a place that people travel to from around the world, in order to have outdoor adventures, but both of us were somewhat in awe of the area we rode through.  It seems that, no matter what kind of natural beauty surrounds you, there is always more to found in this world.

Kinda makes me think I'm pretty lucky to be able to sample even more than what I live with.

 This is the kind of stuff we just don't see, at home.  Sure, we have the Rocky Mountains just outside of town, and desert riding a few hours away in Fruita and Moab.  But lakes, with deciduous forest leading down to the water's edge?  Not so much.

We both lived in a similar environment, for years, but we didn't appreciate it until we left it.  At least, that's how I feel.

 Dave told me that the northernmost cypress knees in the country were growing in the backwaters of this lake.  I looked for alligators, but I didn't see any.

 In my younger days, I frequented some dive bars in the South which had trough urinals.  They looked just like this water basin, but filled with ice cubes (not the rapper -  real ice) at the beginning of the evening.  I thought of this as I filled my water bottle and drank it dry, a couple of times.

I didn't hear any blues guys moaning in the background, or any bikers ordering Buds, so I figured it was clean enough.  The water was cold, clear and tasty, too.

 Nothing makes you feel quite so secure as looking down at your tire and seeing the creek 15 feet below your feet.  We had this kind of bridge around the area, when I lived in central Ohio, and I never really liked them.  At least my fat tires were less squirelly than the 27x1-1/8" tires I rode with in Ohio.

 Bonnie and Clyde took a lot of pictures, while on the run, which looked similar to this.  From the left:  Brad, Dave, Tim, Asher, Bill, me, and Michael.

Also from left to right:  Bridgestone XO-3, Motobecane 29er, Cannondale MTB with Lefty fork, Surly LHT, Cannondale Headshok MTB, Surly LHT, and an arc of the tire on a Specialized Tri Cross.

Dave,  praying to the pump gods...

 Michael, apparently thinking about Aerosmith.  (Well, that's what puts that look on my face...)

 At one point, the guys had pretty much ridden me into the ground, and I lay down to die.  I figured that the local turtles would have a feast, that evening.

 Actually, even though my legs were cramping, I was happy.  I had gone out a bit too hot (especially on the fat mountain bike tires I had on the 29er), but the ride was so awesome, and the experience was even better than what I had been anticipating for the seven months leading up to this day, that I couldn't worry too much about it.

I dream of rides like this (I may be dreaming of one, in this picture, actually).

 Once back at the hacienda, Lady Sarah, the librarian to the gods, hooked us up with food and drink, like the Vikings we are.

Mighty warriors, at the end of a day's marauding.

´╗┐Eventually, everyone said their goodbyes.  Soon after, Brad and I got cleaned up, and loaded up, ready to roll.  After an abortive attempt at fixing the wheel on Michael's Fuji (replaced one broken spoke, then found another), we hit the road.

I had gotten an email from Joy, requesting fireworks for the kids (after we drove past all of those dealers in Missouri).  So, we stopped in a defunct Hollywood Video, which was being used to peddle explosives, and spent about $80.00 on boomers, whizzers and other items of destruction.

Then, we made our way to I-70 and headed toward Ohio.  I was hoping to make the State Line, but I was just too tired.  So, we stopped in Springfield, IN, and checked into a hotel.  Then, after driving all over town in a vain attempt to find an open restaurant, we ended up noticing an open  bar and grill, across the Interstate from our accomodations.

As we walked in, we were both shocked to see/smell people smoking cigarettes inside the dining area. 

Welcome back to Marlboro Country, boys!

We ate, then went back to the room.  I wrote my story for the day, then fell asleep.  Another 18-hour day on the road was behind us.

The next day, we would head for Columbus, Ohio, to see family and friends.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Five Days On the Road - Part 2

Breakfast at the Coulmbus, MO,  La Quinta was, to say the least, a major disappointment.  Brad got the last cup of coffee in the air-pot, and I was bit disappointed to be left out.  Then, after he took a sip, I saw the look on Brad's face and realized that he had taken a breakfast bullet for me. Apparently, the coffee-like liquid which came out of the pot was unfit for human consumption.  Couple that with the fact that the waffle-maker was out of batter, and I was done.

I told the desk clerk that the La Quinta breakfast experience was less than satisfactory, and we went back to the room to get our stuff.  As we rolled the bikes through the lobby, the desk clerk made some comment to me, which neither Brad nor I could make out.  I wasn't sure it was friendly, though.  I thought that I might just be overly sensitive.

Then, when we got out to the truck, Brad said to me, "Clerk-boy didn't seem too happy with you."  So,maybe I wasn't being paranoid.

Once again, we headed out in search of the big green pin on the Starbuck's locator app.  After a breakfast sandwich and some real coffee, we headed east, once again.

The miles melted beneath our tires like a crying child's ice cream on a July sidewalk, and it didn't seem to take long to reach the outskirts of  St. Louis.  After a bit of aggression from a St. Lunatic in a Chevy pickup truck, we rolled across the Missouri River.

"Get on your phone  and find the exit for Donelson Cycles," I said.  Brad picked up the iPhone and started tippy-tapping.  Eventually, he found the directions and told me the exit number.

A few miles down the road, I drove past the exit, then took the next one and backtracked.  This was an unrecognized omen, when it came to my driving on this trip, but we didn't know it, at the time.

Shortly, thereafter, we reached Donelson's.  I hadn't told Brad why we were going, so he was bit surprised to walk into a Triumph dealer and see this:

Donelson Cycles has a pretty nice motorcycle museum in the store.

This bike has a vintage example of a tool bag, very similar to the one I installed on the Scrambler.

The admission to the museum is free of charge, so we bought a couple of t-shirts while we were there.  Then, we headed out for the Interstate, again.

Once in the car, we crossed the Mississippi River, and sailed down I-70 toward the land of the rising sun.  After a while, we stopped at a Subway store, and had lunch.  I had a chicken salad sandwich, and asked for spicy chipotle sauce on it.

"Really?" asked the girl behind the counter.  "Are you sure?"

"I'm reasonably positive, that's what I want."

Then, once again, back into the truck, and headed east.

We drove along for about an hour and a half, creeped through a couple of construction zones and eventually drifted into that too-many-miles-in-too-few-days torpor and fell into an easy silence.  After a bit, though, I grew uneasy.  Something didn't seem right, and I wasn't sure what.

Eventually, it dawned on me that the sun was coming in the window, from the right, and making the inside of the truck hot.  If you stop and think about it, if you are actually heading east, the sun should either shine into the windshield or the rear window.

"Brad, I hate to say this, but I don't think we're on I-70,"  I said, breaking the silence.

"What?!  Nooo!"

Just then, we passed a sign:  I55 North.

What the...?  How the...?

Neither of us has yet figured out what happened, but we were almost as far north as the Champagne-Urbana exit, so we took it when we got there.  Brad got onto the good-ol' iPhone and mapped us out a route, and we started our scenic tour of central Illinois.

The unintentional detour cost us a couple of hours, or more, but I have to say I wasn't too upset.  We drove some two-lane, and saw parts of the countryside we would otherwise have missed.  So, it wasn't a total loss.

Eventually, we made it back to I-70 and then to the turn-off to Bloomington, Indiana.  Once we were off the interstate, I called Michael Johnson up and told him that we were heading south, but running late.  We were still an hour and a half away from Bloomington, and it was already past the time we had expected to roll in.

Michael assured me that everything was cool, and we motored on.  Along the way, we passed more mowed, groomed, acreage than either of us had ever seen.  People in Indiana, apparently, feel the need to mow anything that isn't heavily wooded.

We got to the Johnson home, and knocked on the door, a little apprehensive about showing up late.  Michael answered the door, and all apprehension melted away.  Michael and Sarah welcomed the two of us into their home as if we were long-lost relatives.

Despite a healthy dose of the "Jon and Brad Show", Sarah was the most gracious hostess (and librarian) I have ever met, and Michael matched her in friendliness.

We all went to a local pub (I think it was The Crazy Horse), and I annoyed a waitress while she flirted with Brad.  I ordered my burger with jalapenos, pepper-jack cheese, and buffalo sauce.

"Really?", asked the waitress, Abbey, as though I had ordered a bit of horse poop on it.

"Yeah, really," I said.  Apparently, I choose odd condiments for my sandwiches.

After dinner, we repaired to the Johnson castle, and arranged our sleeping quarters.  I wrote my daily story, and then lay down on the bed.

I switched off the light, and I was asleep before the last photon from the bulb dissipated.