Radios, Romance, Roommates, and Rides

Short, but busy, weekend.

On Friday morning I had a ride with Marlin. We drove a few miles and got some breakfast, talked about bikes and plans for peripheries. We talked loosely about heading out to a nearby campground in the coming weeks, though he currently has nothing in the way of saddle bags or cargo carrying ability. He needs to invest in that sort of thing quickly. The Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festive is coming up in early October and the plan is to ride up there, camp for two nights and ride back. There are two things I really want to have before that trip: a camera I can mount on my bike and a bike-to-bike radio. The radio is useless unless Marlin and Joel can also get sets of their own, but I feel on multi–hour trips such as the one to Birmingham it would be a great benefit.

As we talked over our fried eggs and hashbrowns, we decided that a set of radios would be the wisest to invest in first, especially since Joel, my roommate and our friend, was getting a bike the next day. Although I would really like a camera soon, I must admit that a radio, even just for Autumn and I to talk, would be more practical. I started looking into the radios Friday evening, after casually looking at cameras for a few days, and found some useful information. I’ll be posting more information about them in a new section dedicated to peripheries later this week.

The ride with Marlin was good. He’s only has the motorcycle endorsement on his license for a couple weeks and hasn’t gotten much riding time in. He’s doing well, as far as I can tell. We rode in some traffic and he didn’t seem too nervous.

[Update: On Monday I rode with Marlin out to his work—the first time he’s made that ride of about 6 miles—and I think I may have been more nervous about it than he was. I’ve managed to largely avoid riding on busy streets during higher traffic hours and this ride was mostly on a large, fast, six-lane road during lunch hour. It didn’t help that the night before I had weird dreams about riding barefoot (?) and seeing lots of accidents. Fortunately everything went smoothly and I even remembered to wear shoes!]

I’m excited about taking the bike out for a short camping trip, especially now that I’m getting more comfortable on it and more comfortable with Autumn riding on the back. There’s a small town about an hour from town called Marianna, just outside of town is state park with some caverns. Autumn hasn’t seen them yet and we both think it would be a great ride and a nice weekend spent out of town. We have plans to go to a nearby beach (a little less than an hour) for a day next weekend.


Saturday morning was rough. Marlin had a plan to propose to Chelsea, his girlfriend, at sunrise. He’d asked their closest friends and family to be present to surprise Chelsea afterwords. Autumn and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 6:15 in order to be at the lake before 7. The proposal went excellently, the small crowd of us peering through bushes along the shoreline, whispering and giggling as we heard Chelsea sob with excitement.

Joel, Autumn and I left the engagement celebration (where, thankfully, Marlin had thought to provide breakfast pastries) and headed to Pensacola. There was a Moto Guzzi waiting there for him; the bike he’s wanted for years now. We drove for three hours. Autumn and I milled about the dealership, looking at various gear and some of the big BMW GS models as Joel signed the paperwork and they prepped the bike for takeaway. I asked some of the salesmen there about radios and they gave me some honest advice about brands. Joel and I opted not to invest in one yet, but to wait a couple paychecks.

Joel made several attempts to pose for pictures. We're going to have to work on our timing.

Joel made several attempts to pose for pictures. We’re going to have to work on our timing.

Autumn and I drove the car while Joel followed on the bike.His first ride on a brand new bike and he put 200 miles on the clock. We pulled over a few times, for bathroom and water breaks, for food once and just so he could stretch his legs a bit. His forearms are bright pink from baking in the sunlight for hours.


Sunday was spent working around the house. Autumn and I have been slowly building a bookshelf/reading bench to go in her apartment for several months now (I’m sure she’s wondering if it will ever be finished) and we spend an unfortunately short time on that. It rained for a while and we made burgers and fries for Joel, Marlin and Chelsea.

After dinner we strapped my tent to the back of the BMW and took off with Joel for a ride around town. It was dark and mostly dry. We hit my favorite road in town and then cut back through downtown to get to some other nice riding areas.

I’d been feeling like I was going faster than my speedometer was ready for a few days, so I figured having Joel with me would be the perfect opportunity to test my theory. We stopped at a red light and I told him to pull in front and hold at 30mph, to tell me when hit that speed. He flashed three fingers and I looked down at my dial: 25mph.

We did that again for 40: 35.

At one point while I was in front, my needle held for a block at 60, his was holding at 65.



There’s a smidgen of good news about these results: if the unit were calibrated wrong it’s very unlikely the inaccuracy would be so consistent across such a range of speeds. The likely culprit here is me. There’s a very good possibility that I did not install the unit back onto my bike properly; that the speedometer cable is not seated properly. I also have to presume that my odometer’s accuracy is affected, which means the 100+ miles I’ve put on my bike since I filled the tank the other night isn’t quite right.

On the plus side, if my bike is reading lower speeds, my estimation of how much gas I’ve used based on peering into the tank, and my logic isn’t entirely unsound, I’ve gotten between 40 or 50 miles to the gallon!

I’m trying not to let that idea burrow too deep in my mind, because the frustration and disappointment when it turns out to be wrong won’t be appreciated.

Monday, before my ride with Marlin, I grabbed a couple pliers and attempted to crank the speedo cable in more. I wasn’t very successful. I had my doubts I’d done anything at all until I started the bike up and pulled onto the road after Marlin. The needle wobbled a bit between 0 and 10 but never got anywhere. I’ve been riding all day with no speed indicator—as mentioned in a previous post, I’ve done a good bit of that—which wasn’t such a big deal since I had plenty of traffic to stick with.

It seems there isn’t a great way to get to the cable, since the headlight casing is considerably in the way. I think I’ll tackle taking off the casing this weekend and then attaching the cable properly, getting some cleaning done in those hard–to–reach areas. I’d already decided that I’d spend a decent chunk of Saturday working on cleaning the chrome.

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