Thanksgiving: Making it happen on two wheels

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a crazy last few weeks for me. I was taken out by the flu for nearly all of last week, and then when I got back to work this week I was playing catch up at one of the busiest times of the year for us. I’m still struggling to completely recover from the flu, but I was up and riding to work this week. I did this mainly to avoid traffic, because otherwise feeling as off as I do driving would have been easier. It is also easier to get everything home for Thanksgiving in a car, but I was determined to avoid traffic and get home all the fixings… on the motorcycle.

I’m pretty impressed that I managed to do it, Including the nearly 19lb turkey!

When I was planning this I thought the turkey was going to be the tough one, surprisingly it was the pies that were the biggest challenge. It takes me about 40-45 minutes to get home, and I did not have space to fit them anywhere on my bike flat. I was worried that they would slide out of the shells and be ruined. With a co-workers help I got them into my backpack at about a 45 degree angle, then I rode home, hunched over my bike in a racing crouch to keep them as flat as possible. With all the city streets I have to ride, it was not the most comfortable way to get home. We all make some sacrifices for the holiday.

I made it work.

I made it work.

However, the Turkey was much more painful. My backpack/back are not designed to carry nineteen plus pounds for 45 minutes. My back is killing me as I type this about an hour after I got home.

Everything else was easy, yams, onions and the rest easily fit in my tail bag and backpack on Monday.

I’ve definitely earned my Thanksgiving dinner the hard(ish) way!

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My Friends All Ride Motorcycles?

It’s happened, the thing I never really even wished for, and dared not hope for. My three closest friends all have M class licences and can ride motorcycles with me!

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The least likely friend to ride started following me around earlier this year.

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My brother finally is done with parking lots and hopes to be on the streets soon.

 

I'm the best pillion ever, look how much confidence my wife has in me. Enough to give a giant thumbs up!

I’m the best pillion ever, look how much confidence my wife has in me. Enough to give a giant thumbs up!

Not cool, just awesome people

This is the guy who has been riding the longest, he’s been dragging me along the whole time.

I’m a little surprised that it took me this long to realize this, and maybe it’s because my brother doesn’t have a motorcycle yet, but it’s pretty awesome. I can’t wait to go on a ride, all four of us together!

The first step for this awesome event to happen is to get my brother a motorcycle, and then get him up to speed on it. He’s past the parking lot phase, but still needs many miles before he’ll be ready to ride to (enter far off land of our choice).

However, even the idea of this being possible has me very happy.

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A New Commute… Ugh

So now that I’m temporarily living somewhere else as we sell our home, I’m dealing with a completely different commute to work.

I go to work early in the morning. Living in the north peninsula I typically left my home about 10 minutes after six in the morning getting to work about half an hour later. My commute home was relatively early because of this. I often left Palo Alto at 3:30 getting home just a little after 4.

As I rode to work from San Bruno for my morning commute I often felt like it was really early to be going to work. It was six in the morning and the roads were pretty empty and I always got the feeling that very few people were up yet. For my afternoon commute home, it was busy, but never was it very heavy traffic unless I left late.

Now that I’m commuting from the East Bay it’s a different story. I’m leaving about 30 minutes earlier than I used to, and I’m amazed at how many cars are on the road. It took me a couple of days to figure out how to get to work with out being caught by metering lights getting onto the freeways. Once I figured out the best route I’ve found that my morning commute is not that bad in terms of how long it takes me. The route  I use to get work makes use of the carpool lanes as much as possible and if I leave on time it’s pretty good.

Not the most fun way to get home.

Not the most fun way to get home.

However, getting home is a different story. Traffic is always heavy heading to the East Bay and if I leave at the time I used to leave it takes me nearly twice as long to get home as it does to work. This is especially frustrating considering I’m on a motorcycle in California with all the benefits of lane splitting available to me. I am not at all used to having to deal with the annoyances of heavy traffic on a daily basis. With how crazy my life has been it took me much longer to figure out a good route home, and it is completely different than how I get to work. However, now after a couple of weeks I finally feel like I know how to get home in a reasonable amount of time. Which is good, I have enough other stuff going ton that I don’t need to stress about traffic.

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The New Long Way Home!

So last Friday I rode to Nichols Sportbike to get a new rear tire. With the traffic on 680 being so bad heading north anytime after 2pm I was looking at a map trying to see if there was a good way home, and sure enough there it was, Calaveras Road. Twisting through the Fremont Hills. So instead of splitting lanes up 680, I headed west until I was in the hills. Since I had a new rear tire, I took it easy and wasn’t too annoyed to be stuck behind a slower motorcyclist. Eventually they let me past and I rode a little faster, but always keeping it fairly slow since I do not know the road that well and it is only one lane and known to have large construction trucks on it because of work on the dam for the reservoir up there.

Still it’s beautiful up there and it is great to know that I can still take a scenic detour on my way home.

 

Calaveras Road. Just a lovely part of the Fremont Hills. Looking at Calaveras Reservoir in the background.

Calaveras Road. Just a lovely part of the Fremont Hills. Looking at Calaveras Reservoir in the background.

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The Story of the FrankenMonster

It’s been a long strange road for my Monster and I.

It started in 2006 when I bought a used salvaged 2005 Ducati Monster. At the time I might have paid a bit more than I needed to for it, but I was and still am happy with it. Nearly everything done since has been either to enhance comfort or repairs from the result of some mishap, which admittedly happened with some frequency when I first got the bike.

The first changes were adding handle bar risers to give my back and wrists some relief with all the around town riding I was doing. Then came the aftermarket seat, because the stock seat was painful after about 100 miles or so and I was already doing long rides after 6 months on the bike.

The first incident that demanded repairs was December 30th of 2006. I locked up the front brake in a panic moment and went down. Nothing too bad done to the bike, but the front rotors were warped, the headlight broken and I banged up the tank pretty badly.

So I had the tank cleaned up and repainted and put new rotors and brakes from a 800 Monster on it. I also got a new headlight assembly off of a another Monster.  This ended up with the bike looking better than it ever had which was weird and not normally how crashing a bike works.

The bike ran great for the next couple of years, then in late 2008 the dash began to act up and eventually died. Instead of fixing this (like maybe I should have…) I instead bought the damn BMW F800S.

After the BMW tried to kill me I purchased a used dash on Ebay and brought the Monster back out of retirement. Again I had a good couple of years of riding. Then early this year my clutch began to show signs of beginning to slip and I once again began to contemplate a new motorcycle. However, I decided that instead I would invest in a barely used 695 engine and give myself a bit of an upgrade.

This went great (but not without it’s minor drama) and  for a few weeks I had a Monster 695. Then my chain decided to break and send me into another dilemma of what to do with the Monster.

As you probably know, I kept it and with the help of some awesome people I got new cases, cannibalized a stator cover off my old engine and I’m back on the road, again!

So, now I have an Engine with parts from three different Monsters, brakes and headlight from another couple, with the seat being aftermarket there is much that isn’t anything close to original. Tank and frame primarily. I even have one of my wife’s wheels on my bike due to a bit of tire wear cheating.

All I know is that it’s mine and I love it.

Looking good in Fremont the other day. I like the new black cases.

Looking good in Fremont the other day. I like the new black cases.

 

Posted in Ducati, Ducati Monster 620, Ducati Monster 695, Motocycling, motorcycle, Motorcycles | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writing About Riding

It’s been over six weeks since I have had more than the occasional hour to sit down in front of a computer and write. The days have been filled with packing, moving, painting, and repairing. The end of all that is here though and our home is ready for the market and later this week we will start the process of selling it.

I’m looking forward to having time to write, and have a few things that I want to share. Even though I did not have time to write or do any fun riding in the last few weeks, my daily commute is still on two wheels and the saga of the engine on my monster deserves at least one more detailed post. So there is a bit to catch up on. I hope to be back to a couple of posts (or more!) a week soon, and despite the weather getting colder I hope to be riding more!

Feeling well enough to write a few words.

Feeling well enough to write a few words.

 

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My “FrankenMonster” is Back on the Road

My life still seems to be going non-stop. If I knew how insane this whole process of selling my home etc. was going to be I might not have signed up for it. I’m keeping my eye on the prize though and am looking forward to that garage!

There are of course bright spots along the way with all the crazy. One of them is that my Red Monster is out of the shop and on the road. It seems to be running great and I love being back on my bike.
With an engine made from three different monsters it’s definitely earned it’s name FrankenMonster. The current engine is comprised of the stator cover from my original 620, the cases from an awesome gift from a fellow monster rider and the rest is from the used 695 I got and killed a few months ago.

I love my Monster.

I love my Monster.

It’s running well and definitely seems to have a bit more power than my wife’s 620 that I have been riding lately. The new clutch is also taking some getting used to, it tends to grab strongly and that combined with the extra power has lead to a few near wheelies when starting from a stop!

So far all I’ve done is commute to work on it (which is a whole blog post on it’s own) but it’s great to be zipping around on my FrankenMonster

 

Posted in Ducati, Ducati Monster 620, Ducati Monster 695, Life, Motocycling, motorcycle, Motorcycles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment