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Old 03-15-2014, 05:39 PM   #1
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New York in winter, or crossing the appalachian mountains on an Elefant.

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Old 03-15-2014, 06:01 PM   #2
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I decided in October to take a trip from Illinois to New York some time in March. I hoped it would be an easy winter, or an early spring. It was neither.

(I'm writing this from a coffee shop in New York, so it all worked out.)

It was cold this winter. Record lows, and above average snow for my area. A friend offered to let me keep my bike in his garage, and I took him up on it. My wife and I usually keep our bikes out, and ride all year, but not this year.
There was some neglected maitaininance to be done, along with a new set of tires.

It got above freezing in February, and I rode my Elefant back to my house in the snow. With some help, I got it into the front room, where it was heated, and started taking it apart.

I changed fluids, ordered tires, replaced a couple fasteners, tapped a stripped bolt hole, replaced the battery, and then the tires showed up.

I change my own tires, but this time I found a broken spoke on the front rim. A quick internet search showed that riding with one broken spoke was not a good idea. Then I found two more...

Woodys Wheel Works had the right size replacement spokes. I took the wheel apart, watched a dozen you tube videos on building wheels, and tried it myself. It went well. There was a mess of Jack stands and magnets and sharpies.... and I had forgotten to order a spoke wrench... I filed a slot in the end of my 17mm wrench, and it worked perfectly.

Wheels, tires, heated grips, throttle lock, and it was ready. I packed it, and then moved it outside. I had a schedule... I wanted to be in Manhattan by Sunday, March 9. It was 16 degrees on Wednesday, might be 38 on Friday, and snowing on Saturday. So I left Friday.



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Old 03-17-2014, 06:59 AM   #3
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The only thing holding me up was a clutch lever. It was on order, and the original was in two pieces.
My wife rides a Ducati monster, and as the clutch levers are identical, I stole hers.
The new one showed up after I left..
I got started late, and although I wanted to get to a stop before dark, I didn't, and kept riding after dark. It was the cold that made me stop. Mid 20s was too much for my toes.
I have a heated liner, a nice 90 watt with a heat troller, and heated grips, but heated socks would be nice go have.
I had bodged on a BMW windscreen, and mailed it home from Ohio. I couldn't get it where it wasn't humming and knocking my helmet around. I was colder the next day, but it was worth it.
The directions to NYC were pretty boring. Take I80 east. 600 miles. Then exit.
There might have been sweeping vistas of mountains, or maybe New Jersey... but it was too dark, and I missed them.
I rode in after dark, and I was on the North side, above Harlem, and there wasn't much to see anyway. Cold and pretty tired. The only toll was the bridge, but it was $13.
My exit was two blocks away from where I was staying, and parking was easy to find on a bike. There were no car spots left.
My hostess Carin came outside to meet me, and help carry stuff inside.
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:17 AM   #4
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Parking a car in NYC is tough, but apparently so is parking a bike. Theft, cars parking by braille, and parking enforcement are all problems. I found a spot next to some power company barricades over set over a manhole. Theft is usually three guys throwing the bike into a van. Security chain is good, but all I had was a cable and a medium sized pad lock. I locked the rear wheel to a post, locked the handle bars, and covered it. Its an old green US army shelter half. I bungied it down well, as apparently bike covers get stolen and used as blankets..
I figured I'd get a parking spot in a parking garage in the morning. I'd emailed one a block away, and got a rate for a car. This garage takes bikes; most garages don't.


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Old 03-17-2014, 08:49 AM   #5
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Part of staying with a friend that doesn't own a vehicle, is you offer to take them places. Carin works on 71st, and lives on 117st, and 46 blocks is just over two miles. It's still faster to take the highway on the edge of town. The traffic is bad, the lights are not all in sync, and the bumps and holes and metal construction panels make for an interesting ride. I had a taxi try to kill me on day one. It attempted a left turn in front of me, then stopped. I braked hard, and stopped two feet from his right front corner. He wouldn't move.. so I carefully rode around him.
The busses change lanes abruptly. Mostly swerving left into a lane to go around a stopped taxi, or a double parked car. traffic does not slow, they all swerve left in sync It's like a school of fish flowing around a rock. One driver that isn't going along with the flow will get eaten. Then they all slide back right into their previous lanes.

I've started watching people on the edge of the streets. Jaywalking is a pastime here. If the person has their arm in the air, they are flagging down a taxi. Riding in a taxi's blind spot is bad. They dive like gulls. Three lanes and a hard stop in a driving lane... riding in an outside lane is bad, as there are always stopped taxis or double parked cars, or a bus slowing down for a bus stop, or a delivery truck stopped and unloading.
The middle lane is a fire lane, so you have to watch for fire trucks.

The red lights are just long enough to start a project. Email or makeup or whatever. Then the light changes, then the guy that was doing fifteen over the limit and weaving through taxis just sits there.. then the honking... then they move. This happens about every third light.

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Old 03-17-2014, 09:15 AM   #6
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Other than the exploding building waking me up, Wednesday was normal.
Thursday was my birthday and we went to dinner with some of Carin's friends. Carin called TRE, a little Italian place on the lower east side, and they told her they had no room for a party of eight. She mentioned I rode a thousand miles to get here, and the owner found us a spot. The owner, Gino rides a KTM.
We rode downtown, and it was a cold ride. I had my heated liner, Carin was wearing my old heated vest, and the grip heaters were on.
We parked right in front, and went in. The place was narrow and deep, maybe 12 feet wide... After we were settled, I met Gino. He was swamped with work, as there was a party of some sort in the back room, and some function going on at the bar. He did take a couple minutes to talk bikes. He's putting saddle tanks on his KTM for longer trips. Great place, and delicious food. It was happy hour and we ordered appetizers. Lots of calamari was destroyed. Then there were cupcakes. We had a good time for a few hours, and left happy. It was a good birthday.

We got all geared up for the trip home, and I saw the heated grips had been left on. The battery was dead.
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Old 03-17-2014, 02:24 PM   #7
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I looked to see if any direction sloped down more than any other, but it was a flat area. I tried to push it myself, but duck walking wasn't fast enough.. We were at a street with a bicycle lane though, and Carin was nice enough to push. She mentioned wanting to start working out again... so... after three tries, it started right up. We need s better technique, or a more obvious switch for the heated grips.

It was in the low twenties again, so st least the sprinting warmed us up.
Carin did a survey between wind sprints, and out of 25 taxis, none had jumper cables. One might not have known what they were, as he suggested the local pharmacy had some.

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Old 03-17-2014, 02:55 PM   #8
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Saturday was a full day. Carin had a modeling gig in queens. Five girls doing a '70's glam' photo shoot for a project. We packed shoes and clothing and more shoes and makeup and jewelry in a back pack, strapped an industrial blow drier to the side, and took off.
I've been using my phone as a GPS. The windshield suction cup mount is working great, but the roads bounce the phone around and sometimes the phone will decide to restart, of show the compass. It's easy to switch back to the navigator, but only with a bare finger, so I've been wearing mesh gloves with a hole in the finger tip.
Another bridge, and another toll and we were there. Nice apartment, but eight people were plenty, so off I went to find Union Cycle in Brooklyn.
The traffic was slow. Like foot down in the interstate slow. Not sure I got out of second gear the entire way. Cars turning left would get stuck inside the intersection, and would decide that moving forward a couple more inches would find everything. It was hard to squeeze through some cluster fucks. It got to where I could see it was going to happen, and could get around before it all closed up.
The road was bad. I can only imagine how much worse traffic could be while repairing the pavement, and the repairs did all look hurried. Gobs and piles of asphalt patch covering what must have been a glorious hole judging by the huge holes remaining. I don't ever want to ride here on a cruiser or a sport bike. The bumps and holes were enough, that at some stops, the bike would idle at 2500rpm for a bit. I think the gas sloshing violently inside the carburetors was causing the high idle...

Union Cycle is a great little shop. Chris was cool, and showed me their tool roll. Custom sewed in the garment district, and filled with German bike wrenches, a continuity tester, multi tool, spark plug wrench, and a few other goodies. I looked at the waxed cotton jackets, but I tried on a horse hide jacket. Stiff as hell, as they are new. (Full range of sizes) I liked the size 42, but a 44 would work better over a sweater. They are not cheap, and might look broken in after twenty years or so.
I bought a tshirt and an alarmed disc lock.
They were having a sale, and a pair of gloves had a gold mesh on the fore finger and thumb tips. No holes needed! An extra $90, and I would have grabbed them.

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Old 03-19-2014, 09:16 AM   #9
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After the model shoot, we went to a party in Brooklyn. Great party, cool people, lots of food, and even a hot tub out back. We stayed till five am. It was pretty close to home, and the bridge didn't have a toll...

And I left the heated grips on again...

Carin is getting her exercise this week. She's getting better at it too. This time it only took two tries.

On the way home, there was a cop in the street waving a flashlight at us, and flashing lights behind us.

I pulled over, shut the bike off, and waited....

He was directing the ambulance that was behind us... fuck.

The street to the right was down hill, but also a one way coming at us. The sidewalk was not labeled one way... so it only took one try to start it. The rest of the ride home was uneventful, and we got to see the sun coming up.


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Old 03-19-2014, 09:47 AM   #10
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Sunday was sleep in day. Then Adam called. He lives in Manhattan and hates subways. And busses.. He has ridden motorcycles in NYC for decades and wanted to go for a quick ride.
I woke Carin up and she wanted to go. I got a shower and dressed.
We had two birthday parties to attend so we'd pack up, and just take a long route north and back down Broadway to the bar where the party was.
The bike was dead. Naturally..
I walked it down the sidewalk to the corner gas station. Adam was waiting there. He has a black Bandit 1250. It replaced his Bandit 1200 when it finally died.
The gas station has a garage, and let me borrow their jump box. Carin walked down, and we took off.
We rode north from Harlem, and along the east river. We went past the buildings and made it to where the rocks and trees were plentiful.
We turned left, and rode to Broadway. It's the longest road in Manhattan, and cuts through everything at an angle.
traffic was light, and except for getting separated at a couple of lights, it was a pleasant ride. I tried to keep the rpms above three grand, and hoped the longish ride would charge the battery fully. Sometimes I'd even turn the heated gear off...

The bike makes 350 watts, but not at idle. The headlight pulls 60 watts, my liner 90, her vest 45, the grips 30, and the ignition,tail light, brake light, and turn signal, has to use some.

We found the bar, waved goodbye to Adam, and parked right in front between a car and the cross walk.

The party was a small thing. Maybe ten people. Another couple had ridden. They had a Suzuki Boulevard. Another couple had a bike, but didn't ride. He got a pass though, as he is normally an avid rider, and had good stories about riding all over Italy last year. It was his wife's party. I guess she thought helmet hair and not drinking wouldn't be a fun birthday!!

Bike started right up. Yay!

We left to go to go meet with Carin's friend John. John and I share a birthday. He was taking us, his wife, and a couple more friends for dinner at Gramercy Tavern. A jacket is required, and not a ballistic nylon armored kind. I had worn a button up collared shirt, and packed along a sport coat. (We called earlier and asked if jeans were alright. Nice jeans were tolerable..)
We parked right out front. The coat check took our gear, helmets and all.
I met John and his wife, and we were seated. The other two showed up as we ordered drinks.



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Old 03-19-2014, 01:44 PM   #11
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Monday started with a commute to where Carin works. We went south on FDR, but her exit was closed. Just the one sign, but we caught it. I drop her off at work around the corner, and that spot is just for unloading, so I stay on the bike. The taxis ignore me, but the trucks are nice, and will leave room to merge into the line at the light, and wave me in.
Going back, I take surface streets, as I'm not in a hurry, and it's more fun than the highway.
Parking is weird here. The street sweeper needs a time to sweep, and there is no parking on alternative sides for a couple hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Everyone double parks for a bit, the left over cars get ticketed. The ticketed cars make life hell for traffic. Sometimes trucks cannot get through, and once s school bus had to reverse almost the entire block. The twenty cars packed behind it were pissed. The offending SUV wasn't towed. I thought it would be...

Picking Carin up, I take surface streets there, and then we go from there to whatever we have planned.

Tuesday was a Dr appt for her, and she wanted to take FDR drive, but after sitting in line for half an hour, and only moving a couple blocks, we turned around and took 1st ave.
She did ask why I didn't lane split or filter as she has been with other riders that will. It's illegal for one, and even where it is legal, it pisses off the trapped drivers. There has been a shit load of bad motorcycle press lately. From the range rover road rage riot, to the hundreds of illegal dirt bikes that swarm through the city on Sundays. The cops and the public have a hate on for motorcycles at the moment, and I don't want to make it worse, or be at the end of someone's grudge.

That being said, we did hop a curb turning around...

After her appointment, it was back south for bike night at Ear Inn.

We took the West Side Highway, and it was a pretty ride at sunset. It was smooth traffic right up till the bike floundered and almost died. I switched the fuel tap to reserve and fixed it.

It was crowded, the food was good, an Orange Harley sportster was the only other bike to show. Unless the guy in the Yamaha jacket parked around the corner...

We found a gas station and it took just over five and a half gallons to fill it. The trip meter was at 210. KILOMETERS. I get a pretty consistent 42 mpg, and switch to reserve at 360 kilometres...
Math....
Traffic and idling and first gear riding for blocks has reduced the mileage to less than 26 mpg.
Also gas is five bucks a gallon.

Carin happily paid for the gas, and said if I was taking her to work, she was saving a ton, and it was cheaper than a bus pass at five dollars a day. A taxi is almost $20. Then another $20 to get home...

If parking wasn't over $300 a month where she works... she'd drive to work.
She'd have to buy a car first... then insure it... even taxis start looking cheap after that math..

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Old 03-19-2014, 04:57 PM   #12
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Down town for another birthday party.

Both fork seals are leaking.. enough to make breaking in traffic more exciting.

So new brake pads with the new seals.

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Old 03-20-2014, 10:59 AM   #13
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Cleaned out the seals today using a cut up metro card. Then bounced the forks, wiped off the oil, cleaned, wiped, bounced... until they were staying dry. We'll see... now I need to get the fork oil off the rotors.



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