Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Now I Know How The People at PBS Must Feel

I am not a big fan of self-promotion.  I always feel like I am bothering people, and I don't want to seem to be standing around with my hand out, all of the time.  But, my Kickstarter project deadline for funding is Thursday, and I am not quite halfway there.

If you have been thinking, "Maybe I'll throw him a pledge...", please do it now.  If the amount falls short of the goal, the pledges simply go away.  I am not allowed to pledge to my own project, to make up the shortfall.

It's not a situation where I will just have a smaller budget than I anticipated...I will have no budget.

Will you like the music?  I think many people will (or I wouldn't be trying so hard to get it out there).  Here's a video with a demo of one of the songs.  If you like this, you will like the whole cd.

Share this with your friends.  Maybe they will like it.  Ten bucks for a cd of original songs is not a lot.

Again, if I am bugging you, just don't read the blog this week.  I will likely mention this every time I post, because I am coming down to the wire!

Thank you for your support.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Love To Ride The Scrambler Off-Road

Tom and I went down to the Devil's head area, in Rampart Range, today.  We rode up Jackson Creek Road, and turned north on Rampart Range Road.

Soon after hitting RRR, we jumped off onto the singletrack and rode along on the trail.  Eventually, we came to one of the many "rock piles" in the area, and played around on the exposed granite for a while.

 After a bit of that, we continued on down the trail.  The trail became a bit more technical, and I did bottom the suspension a couple of times, both front and rear, before I backed off a bit and just let Tom pull away.  The Scrambler is fun, off-road, but it is certainly no match for a Honda XR-650...

 Eventually, we made our way back to town and stopped for a couple of beers and some chili cheese fries (green chili - delicious!).

The Scram is a bit dusty, but no worse for the wear.  The ride did reinforce my desire to get a real skid plate for the bike (not the cosmetic version that Triumph sells), though.



I just had a sneezing the midst of a nosebleed.

Just waiting for the CSI team to show up, now.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More Scrambler News

I have wanted a package rack for the Scrambler ever since Brad and I went on our trip up into the mountains, last summer.  I don't need to carry a lot of weight, that far back on the bike, but I would like to have the option of moving the load back just a bit on the seat, without having it droop down onto the fender

You can see that the rack is pretty low capacity.  It is made of solid bar, rather than (stronger) tubing, and it cantilevers back from a single mounting point.

Mounting was straightforward..  Four bolts threaded into existing pre-tapped mounting holes hold the mounting bracket on the bike, and the rack itself bolts onto that with an Allen bolt and nut on each side.

This particular rack has been discontinued.  The new version has a short sissy bar/grab rail built into it.  That prevents you from laying anything flat on both the seat and rack at the same time.  So, I was happy to find this one on eBay.

I am going to add a brace from the center support (it has a pre-drilled hole) to the tail light mount on the rear fender, to add a little more strength and stability.  Even without that, it should work fine for my purposes, though I certainly won't be strapping a tenor sax case across it and riding around, like I did on my Suzuki in high school!

I can't wait to load up and take the first road trip of the year!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Hate The New Layout on Blogger

It's hard to navigate, and hard on the eyes.  Writing a blog post should not be this unpleasant.

Another Test

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Give Me a Brake

One of the things about the Triumph Scrambler which makes it seem more of a styling exercise and less of a dual-purpose machine is the location of the rear brake caliper.  It hangs below the axle, where mud and road crud and anything else kicked up by the front tire can hit it, to say nothing of the potential for dragging it off the bike, entirely, if you snag a rock with it on a Jeep trail...

You can see the rear caliper location in the picture, above.

I decided to fix that problem, on my bike.  I ordered a replacement mounting plate from Triumph Twin Power, over in Merry Olde England.  I received it a couple of weeks ago, but just got around to installing it, yesterday.  I had to get a motorcycle lift, first, and I found a nice one on craigslist, this past week.  It is the aluminum Craftsman 1500 lb. hydraulic unit, and it was in like-new condition.  I got it for half of the retail price, so I was happy with that.

So,  I jacked the bike up off of the ground, and removed the rear wheel.  The new mounting plate fit right into place and, after attaching the new, longer, brake line, I put it all back together and bled the air out of the system.

 The mounting plate is nicely machined, with a laser-engraved TTP logo.  It looks nicer than the stock casting, for sure.

So, there she sits...a little closer to being off-road worthy.  The Scrambler will never be a true off-road dirt bike, in the modern sense.  If nothing else, it simply weighs too much (and the suspension is rather rudimentary, compared to a real dirt bike). 

But, as I said to Tom, as we rode up the trail, a couple of weeks ago, "Just because other bikes are better at trail-riding doesn't mean this one just can't do it.  People rode similar bikes in the dirt for years, so there's no reason I can't do it on this one."


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finally Figured It Out

Now I can post pictures from my phone!

EDIT:  Unfortunately, this is as big as I can get them to load.  A bigger version is available on my Tumblr.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I only rode the bicycle to work on one day, this week.  I enjoyed that ride, a lot, but I really needed to get home early on the other days, so I took the motorcycle.  After four and a half years of planning my life around the bike commute, it feels odd, almost like I am doing something wrong, to plan my bike commutes around my life.

As an aside, the Foss tubes are holding air, just fine.  As a matter of fact, I haven't added any air to them since the first time I checked them, two weeks ago, though I will probably need to top them off before I ride the bike, again.   Not too shabby, for a relatively low-volume tire (26x1.35").

I forgot to mention, in last Sunday's post about my mountain bike ride, that the long-cage XT derailleur worked perfectly on the ride.  The shifting is 100% better on the Ti bike, with that derailleur, than it was with the medium-cage XTR.  I'm thinking that the shorter cage might be fine for a 2-by setup, but I prefer to have 3 chainrings, so I will not be using the XTR on any of my mountain bikes.  Maybe if I set up a cross bike...

I am in full-on obsessive mode about my music project.  I have my doubts about the project getting funded, which is disappointing me for a number of reasons...

I have been refining the arrangements of the songs and working on smoothing out my vocals, every day.  I have a drummer who wants to participate, but we have yet to get together and see how it goes.  He has a copy of my rough demo cd, and seems excited to about it, but he is already in two bands and finding practice time is probably going to be a challenge.

This all makes me wish that Shawn still lived in the Denver area!

The guitar from eBay has been repaired.  In addition to the physical damage from being shipped incorrectly, the wiring was completely jacked up and did not work.  Brian, at Del Toro Guitars reset the neck, rewired the pickups, replaced the pots and input jack, and just generally restored the guitar to nice, playable condition.  The pickups, themselves, are nothing to get excited about and I may replace them, down the road.  Right now, I am playing it mostly as an acoustic, sitting in the porch swing...

I have rabbits living in the bushes on the north side of the front yard.  They are driving Oswald nuts, hopping around in the front yard as he watches through the glass storm-door.  Jack seems to just ignore them.

Not a whole going on, around here...


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Pretty Nice Day, Today

I had a pretty full day today, during which I functioned as three of my various personalities.  This morning, I was motorcyle-riding caffeine freak Jon, as I rode down to Kaladi and hung out with my coffee shop buds.

At noon, I was struggling musician Jon, as I met with a prospective drummer and gave him a copy of my demo cd and discussed my goals with the music.  (Please check out my Kickstarter project and throw your support my way, if it looks like your kind of thing...)

I finished the day up as mountain-biker Jon, as I drove over to Mt. Falcon and rode the ti bike up the east side of the mountain.

I was a bit curious about how I would do on the big climb.  I usually get to the picnic shelter in around 45 minutes, but I haven't done any mountain biking in a long time, so I wasn't sure how long it would take.  I was a bit shocked to look at my time on the clock and see that I had made the climb in a bit over 40 minutes!  I wonder if the lightweight Stan's Crow tires had anything to do with that.  It was my first ride on them, so I don't have any comparative data...

I took a picture of this fellow on a Yeti full suspension bike to give a sense of scale to the scene.  I packed up my camera, and took off uphill from the shelter.  I figured that I would ride up to the Castle Trail, then turn around and go down.  Suddenly, the Yeti rider caught up with me, and we started talking bikes.  Before I knew it, we had ridden up the Meadow Trail almost to the upper parking lot.

"I might as well ride Parmalee Gulch, while I'm up here," I said.

"That's what I'm doing," said my new riding partner.

So, we took off down the trail, and I managed to keep up with him, on his full-suspension rig, until we got to the cross-hill section on the south side of the mountain.  At that point, I backed off of the pace and cruised along for a while.  I wanted to recover, a bit, from the effort since I knew that the steep climb back up to the meadow was coming up.

I eventually made my way back down the mountain to my truck, which I had carefully locked up before I left the parking lot.

 Good thing I made sure the door was secure.  (That is my iPod Nano plugged into my stereo.  It, and everything else in the truck, was undisturbed, despite the open window.  Sometimes, people are good.)

I ended up with about 10.3 miles of trail riding in an hour and a half on the bike.  Six point something mph doesn't sound too impressive, unless you've ridden that damn hill a few times.  I am happy with my performance, today.

I stopped off for a hot fudge/strawberry sundae at Dairy Queen, on the way home, and I enjoyed every sticky bite.

I had a couple of invitations to go to Easter get-togethers, today, but I decided to let everyone enjoy their families and spare them from "orphan duty", this year.  I hope that everyone had as nice a day as I did.

Weather today was sunny, with light breezes and a temperature of 71 degrees here in Denver.  Not too shabby.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Damaged Guitar From eBay- EDIT

I bought this guitar off of eBay, last week.  It arrived, today, packed in the case but with no box.  Unfortunately, the neck has been broken loose, and now I am going to have to get it repaired.

I am extremely bummed by this.  I contacted the seller and requested a partial refund.  I hope that she sends me some  my money back, to cover repairs, because the guitar is awesome. EDIT:  The repairs will cost more than I paid for the guitar.

Breaks my heart, because otherwise the guitar is in really good condition.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Remember When I was Planning On Recording a CD of Original Music...?

My dad's passing, in 2010, put that project on the back burner.  Now, I am on my way to fulfilling my goal.  I have songs written, some old and some new, and I am investigating studios in the area, plus production of packaging.

All of this is not cheap, but I have this music in me and I want to get it out in a listenable form.  So, I am launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the cd.

If you aren't familiar with Kickstarter, here is the short version:

Go here and check out my presentation.  If you want to support my project, hit the Back This Project button, and pledge whatever you feel comfortable with.  The pledges are made through Amazon.  You will see a list of gifts that you will receive at different pledge levels, on the Kickstarted page.

The pledge period ends  at about 10:30 PM, on May 3 (my birthday).  If the minimum funding amount has been pledged, then you will be charged the amount of your pledge after the close of the pledging.  If the minimum has not been reached, then your pledge will be erased and nothing will be charged to you.

I hope that you will support my project, and that you will enjoy the songs on the cd, once it is done.

Please, check out my project, and help me produce this cd!

Thank you.



Perhaps, but it sure was fun...

Tom and I went for a ride.  He was on his Honda XR-650, I was on the Scrambler.  At one point, we turned onto one of the trails which crossed the road.  It's hard to see how steep this is, and how many whoop-de-dos there are, and how deep the granitic gravel is on the trail.  It was pretty challenging.

It was the first time I have ridden a motorcycle off-road since about 1977, but I had a blast.  We rode quite a bit on gravel roads, too, and I was actually beginning to get into some feet-up power slides before it was over.

Good ride!