Date: October 13, 2010

Author: JT

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Comments Off on Things That Happen (2)

Things That Happen (2)

Welcome Back!  I enjoyed starting this series discussing a private presentation by John Cleese.  If you haven’t read it, he encouraged us to set aside structured, professional, hare-like thinking.  In it’s place, set aside time for your creative, whimsical, spontaneous, or from the gut, thinking to rise up.

So I tried it.  And  the initial results coming to mind were humorous.  They’re some of the first things that came to mind were ‘Things That Happen’ while motorcycling.  These have stuck in my brain permanently, some really making me scratch my head…even years later.

If you’re a fellow motorcyclist, I’m sure you can relate to some of them, spread out this week.

Motorcycle chain, bicycle chain, what’s the difference?

I remember my first motorcycle—a Honda CB 360. It had a chain. The bike was old but serviceable. Who knows how many hundreds of miles I rode before I decided to look at that ugly brown thing down there. Eventually, I looked at it. Hmm. Rusty, dry, brown, kinked. Needs some oil I think. Took it off, dropped it in a coffee can of auto oil, let it soak a bit, pulled it out, wiped it off, and slapped it back on the bike. Oil was slung everywhere; won’t do that again.

20-odd years later I buy the first chain-driven bike I’ve had since. I wonder. Aside from the fact this newer machine has almost 4x the displacement (and probably at least 4x more power) why do I bother to diligently oil the chain every 400 miles? After all, with newer O-ring technology, lubing a chain can be argued to be unnecessary now.  Did I learn something along the way? Or am I just tired of brown ugly things out there that my riding peers would chide me over?

Customizing Exhaust & Piston While Riding

A number of us decided to go north for a long weekend. My buddy’s riding, staggered behind me on my left, my girlfriend’s in her car a few lengths back. We’ve been rolling along on I-75 for a couple hours when, for no apparent reason, the bike surges forward slightly and there’s a dramatic increase in exhaust volume.

At the next rest stop we pull off. Taking a look at the bike, it becomes apparent that about 1/3 of the left-hand exhaust pipe is gone. It’s not there. It’s like someone took a hacksaw, cut out the left half of the canister and removed the innards. Wow.

My buddy comments about how the pipe, with baffles attached, came whizzing by him at ~65 mph, at about shoulder level. My girlfriend either drove over it or just missed it (can’t remember). I do remember being relieved it didn’t hit my buddy, and really relieved it didn’t smack my girlfriend’s car.

Same trip, roaring back home, we’re about ¾ of the way back, when the bike starts periodic bouts of power loss combined with volumes of black smoke. If we slowed down the smoke went away and the power came back, speed up, power failed and smoke came back. Taking it easy, it finally didn’t seem to make a difference… Pulled over, everything’s covered with oil, can’t measure anything on the dipstick. Parked the bike under a bridge and left it for the day.

Turns out, the machine had been poorly tuned, perhaps cause of the exhaust modification, and burned a hole in the piston. About the size of my young daughter’s pinky finger. The CB360 introduced me to top-end rebuilding that season as well. Learned a lot from that bike. And, I still know where it’s at today too…in that same buddy’s garage. It’s been awaiting renovation for about 20 years now.

Exploring Traction Limits & Brain Power (#1)

Continuing with the CB360… I’m probably 22 years old and very much full of the ride always, ride regardless of the weather, ride regardless of, well, perhaps lack of experience. It was a late fall day in Michigan with very overcast weather. Friend and I rode over to the local Kmart (hmm, wonder if I’ll be showing my age even more in a few months). We came back out a half hour later and noticed there was a light drizzling mist starting to fall. Time to go home we think.

The pavement’s wet, I’m riding on tires that are probably 10 years old, it’s cold, and I feel like the Michelin man. Oh, and this is still my first ‘full’ season of riding. Nearing home I come to a stop light. Slowing gradually to a stop, concerned about ‘wet’ pavement, I put my foot down to the ground. It starts to slide sideways on the icy wet-looking ground. I will never forget that moment. The word STUPID resounded through my mind. I suspect I made it home because God was along for the ride that day and kept me from doing anything else stupid. I still shake my head over that day.

Check back, there’s another segment waiting in the wings for tomorrow.  Feel free to share your own stories.  I’m sure there’re some deusy’s out there we can all have a hoot over:).


(photo credits: Andrew Chan, Cíntia Martins, Rob Owen-Wahl)

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