The Saddest Weekend

Today is Friday, the 10th of October; the first day of the Barber Vintage Festival; the day I would have been on the road with Marlin, Chelsea, Joel and Autumn for 7 hours.

We canceled the trip to the festival a month or so ago, so it’s not surprise, but my phone alerted me that the festival was today when I woke up this morning. Coming out of my room to find the BMW sitting inside the house, taken halfway apart, was a sad reminder that we are missing something that looks very awesome.

We’d talked about doing something else, instead, this weekend. Go to the beach maybe? It’s perfect weather for a day of riding, too bad I have nothing to ride. I think I’ll spend the weekend working on my bike, getting everything drained and stripped off. I need to set myself a schedule in which things need to get done, otherwise I’ll just poke and prod and hardly make any progress for a couple months.

It just occurred to me a couple nights ago that I’ve given myself a time frame of about six months to get the thing running again. Our lease is up in July and I’d really like to find a new place (fenced in backyard, maybe?), but that means I have to be able to drive the bike away.

Autumn’s and my trip to Colorado is happening soon, though—two weeks from yesterday—and I’m really excited about that. Getting more excited the more I think about it, actually.

Bike Shop

Nothing happened with the bike for a couple weeks. I’d decided to pull it inside the house and was waiting to get the space clearing out in the dining room for it.

On Saturday I cleared out the half of the dining room where the bike needed to go. Joel and I bought some plastic drop cloth (typically used for painting).

On Sunday Joel and I pushed the BMW up the stairs and into the house. After he left for work, Marlin came over and he and I began to take things off the bike.

It should be an interesting, frustrating and quite enjoyable process, tearing this guy apart and then piecing it back together as I get the money to replace this and that. I see lots of polishing in my future.

The BMW in its current state.

The BMW in its current state.

Simplicity

The BMW is still out of commission.

After further inspection I found nothing specific causing the apparent lack of power. I’ve replaced the fuses and next on the list is to try a new ignition switch. Unfortunately the website I’ve been turning to doesn’t seem to carry them. I spent some time looking through some other parts websites and haven’t found anything that I’m willing to pay $100 for, considering it may not fit or even be the problem. I suppose an option is to see if Alan has a spare ignition I can borrow and test.

Another option is to just start tearing the bike apart for the complete diagnostics/cleaning/repair. It’d be nice to move the bike inside for that, especially with colder weather on its way.

Joel and I have kicked around the idea of renting a small warehouse—or space within a larger warehouse—to set up shop, to be able to work on things and plan trips from. It’d be too expensive to add rent for a warehouse to our current stack of monthly obligations, but if we found someplace we could live in as well that’d be pretty perfect. I don’t think there’s much chance of that, so instead I may just turn one half of our dining room into a makeshift workshop.

I’m pretty nervous about diving in like this, considering the bike is mysteriously (to me) not running right now. I’d much rather have a running bike which I tinker with and then, at the end of the day, put back together and make sure it’s still working properly. I’d hate to put a couple months of work on the bike and then realize that I’ve screwed something up and have to strip it down again just to replace a wire or a bolt.

The [possible] future home of the work-in-progress BMW.

The [possible] future home of the work-in-progress BMW.

Tearing the bike completely apart is something that I’ll have to do very slowly, very carefully and while making notes along the way. I may invest in some microfiche diagrams, especially for the engine, so I can ensure each piece goes in the right place and also to check that all the bits were there originally.

Another downside to starting the tear down now is that I haven’t gotten a chance to do things like compression tests to the engine yet. It’d be better, I think, to do that before I refurbish the body and electrics, partially just so I don’t have to take all that apart again.

There’s also the simple fact that stripping down the body means I can’t ride it.

And with the weather as nice as it is, I really just want to ride it.

Testing

I knew the preparation for my trip was going to test me, throw sand in my face, put up seemingly insurmountable walls and drop all sorts of obstacles in front of me, I just didn’t expect it to happen quite so soon.

The upside (because I’m not quite pessimistic enough to avoid some fragmented silver lining) is that I was sort of planning on picking a project at random this weekend anyway to tinker with—most likely creating a larger problem in the process—and this just really saves me the trouble of having to make a choice. Now I have one specific problem to deal with: Figure out why my electrical system doesn’t work.

The downside is, well, that the problem is figuring out why my electrical system doesn’t work. Also the downside is I can’t really ride the bike until I fix the problem. [Actually, that’s sort of an upside, too.] I’m not incredibly savvy when it comes to electrical bits. Give me a loose gear and a bucket of bits and I’ll whip up a solution. Give me a tangle of multi-colored wires and something that makes my fingertips go all tingly and I flounder helplessly.

Here’s the story of what happened:

Autumn and I were getting on the bike to run an errand. I turned the key, instrument cluster lit up. I hit the ignition, bike cranked but didn’t turn all the way over. I flipped the choke on, hit ignition again, cranked and—just when it normally turns and starts running—I hear a bit of a pop and the lights go dead. I turn the key off, then on. No lights. Flip the engine kill switch off and on a few times. Nadda. At this point we have to jump in the car, but I do plug the battery in for a charge before we head off. A long shot, I know, but I figure it’s better to do something somewhat proactive than nothing out of simple pessimism.

After the battery had a few hours to charge I tried the key again and got, surprise, nothing. That was Wednesday.

Thursday I popped the headlamp open and checked the fuses. Here’s what I found (picture forthcoming here): both fuses seem to be intact (I didn’t remove them for proper inspection), but could stand replacement anyway; there’s a huge mass of wires and everything appears to be in place except one green/purple wire, but from my brief inspection I couldn’t figure out where exactly it led; what seems to be an unoccupied slot on the ignition array, possibly the home of the green/purple wire.

Now, any reasonable person would simply, I donno, plug that dangling wire into the available slot and then see what happens. Not me. No, I tugged on the wire a little, traced where it went, couldn’t discover a satisfactory answer and therefore decided—given that it was 1:30 in the afternoon and I still had to cook something for work at 3—that I would come back and do more investigating/experimenting over the weekend, when I would have hours upon hours to dedicate to the process.

This all comes, of course, on the heels of having spent $700 on a plane ticket to Colorado (Autumn’s brother is getting married), paying my most expensive utility bill since I’ve moved in, knowing I need a new rear tyre as soon as possible and still needing to order the parts to fix my speedometer.

So, here I am, less than 200 bucks to my name, knowing I need to spend about 80 bucks in parts as soon as I can figure out exactly what parts I need, plus about $150 for that rear tyre, and I just got paid Monday, so it’s a full 15 days until payday, and now I have to put gas in my car so I have transit while the BMW is out of commission until further notice.

What do I do? Find an excuse to spend that money on crap, of course!

I went to Lowes, on Thursday, and bought a couple more tarps, some zip-ties, and a few little odds and ends what I suspected I’d need for a day of working on the bike. We have a canopy over the end of our driveway, just a little 10’x10′ stand, which is great shade, both for the bike generally and for me when I’m working on mine. What it lacks is protection from the mosquitoes. I’ve had the idea of hanging tarps from the sides to give it temporary walls since I put the canopy up, but never invested in the two additional tarps needed. Being forced to spend a weekend tinkering on the bike was, obviously, the motivation I needed.

I hung one tarp Thursday after looking at the fuses and decided it was sufficient enough to proceed with the plan. The only thing that’s missing from what I imagined the work station would be is a small (thinking 12 inch diameter) fan that I can hang from the top of the canopy, to keep air moving and help ward off the mosquitoes. Surprisingly, they didn’t have any at Lowes. I’m not really sure where to look. Target or Ross, perhaps, but I’m not confident they have lightweight, outdoor-use fans there.

It should be quite a weekend, fan or no fan, expect an update early next week.

Last Week, A Chronology

Monday

Mostly uneventful. Work was slow. Filled up the bike with gas. Posted on this blog, even!

Tuesday

Class in the morning. About halfway through class my mind wandered to my motorcycle having a bit of difficulty starting, despite the full tank. Vowed to plug it into the charger once I got home. Bike didn’t start after class, battery was flat. Walked partway home before Autumn picked me up. Went back and pulled battery out the bike. Considered just investing in a new battery right then and there but decided against it. Took it home and charged it up. Work wasn’t too bad.

Wednesday

Went back to TCC in the morning with Autumn and Joel. Installed the battery and cranked the bike up. Drove home. Work was ridiculously crazy—one machine was down so all color printing was bottle–necked through the slower machine. Felt off all night. Left on time and did homework.

Thursday

Class, then work. Took a break a work and went to Jersey Mike’s, turned off the bike and heard a hissing sound. Looked down at my front tyre and watched it deflate in less than a minute. Ate some food and called a coworker for a ride back. Stayed at work until 2:30 that night. Got home and gathered tools to take my wheel off the next morning. Hoping desperately that I don’t get towed. Finally in bed at 3:30

Friday

Arrived at Jersey Mike’s at 9:30 and begin taking the wheel off. I need a socket in a size I don’t own, so I drive (Autumn lent me her car) to CarQuest and pick up a set of oversized sockets for $50. Back at the bike, I realize I’ve grabbed my set of standard allen wrenches and I need metric. On the way home to get my metric set I see a truck pulling a trailer with a motorcycle strapped on the back. Calling the past 2 hours a loss, I turn around and call a tow truck. I have it towed to Orion’s, where I decide to just replace the tyre itself, as there is a spot of dry rot beginning to set in. However, I could only afford to do the front tyre, so that’s what I chose to do.

Zach, the head mechanic, gave me a price for Pirellis and for a cheaper brand (Shinko) and I, unfortunately, had to go with the cheaper brand. He warned me that the cheaper brand was also going to be a few millimeters wider. He offered to do it while I waited but, seeing as I had the car and had to get ready for work soon, I told him not to rush it, I’d be by to pick it up the next day. Work was hectic but I left by midnight; walked home, which was quite relaxing.

Saturday

Took my time waking up on Saturday. Joel, Marlin and I had plans to go to the Trail & Ski shop in town around 11, so I planned on getting the motorcycle after that. Joel, however, had a long day at work and I wound up walking down to pick up the bike at 1:30, just as Joel was getting home.

In my efforts to remove the front wheel on Friday, I’d disconnected the front brake cable. As I pushed the bike back and forth a little in neutral outside the shop, I squeezed the front brake and nothing happened. I asked Zack about it and he called the mechanic that worked on the bike over.

“Well, it was disconnected when it came in, so I just kinda hooked it on. Didn’t know what you had going on with it.”

I told him it was disconnected because I’d made an effort to remove the wheel myself. We tightened up the brake (which I tightened up a bit more once I got home). On the ride home I heard a rhythmic whoom-whoom noise, coming from the front tyre. Upon arriving home, propping it up on the center stand and inspecting the wheel, I discovered two things:

  1. The rotation of the tire was wrong, with the arrow pointing in the opposite direction of the forward rotation.
  2. The tyre’s side wall rubbed ever so slightly for a few inches each rotation on the support shaft for the fender.

Marlin, Chelsea, Joel, Autumn and I went to Voodoo Dog for a late lunch and while there I looked up tyre rotation. Turns out it’s pretty damn important, with comments like, “if you’ve driven more that 1000 miles on a tyre rotated the wrong way, throw it away and buy a new one.” Fortunately I haven’t even put a mile on it.

At Trail & Ski we looked at tents, backpacks, and various waterproof equipment. I keep trying to hammer in the point that we’re going to want to think about packing for lengthy trips like pack for a long backpacking trip: it’s all about the weight. Equipment should be small and light. We talked to the sales clerk about the ENO hammock systems, which seem like a really good alternative to tents. [Note: When Joel first told me about his plan to get a hammock for camping I was dismissive, but after looking at them myself, seeing the price for the full setup and thinking about it critically, I think I’m mostly sold.] Joel seems to think that it’ll be a good idea to bring both a tent and a hammock system on longer trips. This idea I’m very skeptical of. It seems to me like a waste of space and weight (not that either one weighs much), it’d be better to know ahead of time which one you’re going to need to use more often and just stick with that one the entire time.

After we got home from Trail & Ski, we talked about the trip to Birmingham for a bit—what we all need to buy and whether or not we think we can do it. We decided to talk again next weekend and make a solid decision about committing to going or not. So we won’t be buying tickets before then. My next paycheck is going to be really nice, but I also have a plane ticket to buy in October, not to mention all the repairs I need to do on my bike before we can take a 600-mile trip.

As far as my tyre goes, I’ve decided I’m going to see about adjusting the fender position, if that helps the rubbing. If it does, all I’ll ask Orion’s to do is rotate the tyre the proper way. If I can’t stop the rubbing, I’ll have to return the tyre, hope they have my old one and just wait until next week when I get paid to put those Pirellis on.

 

Speedometer Repair

The cable exposed next to the bracket. Behind the headlamp and under the instrument cluster.

The cable exposed next to the bracket. Behind the headlamp and under the instrument cluster.

Saturday morning, immediately following my last post, I set out to repair my speedometer cable, which had come out of the bracket that attaches it to the instrument cluster. I had some concern I’d need to replace the cable, housing and bracket entirely, but figured it was a simple enough repair to undertake in an afternoon.

I’d taken some time to look at the problem earlier in the week, so I knew already essentially what needed to be done.

The bracket partially screws and partially clamps onto the cable housing. My assumption was that the housing started to dry out and shrink. This probably wouldn’t have been an issue if I hadn’t toyed with it in order to get the instrument cluster off and on a few times when having my odometer fixed.

I set up my work space next to the bike, brought out all the tools I presumed I’d need, lit a couple of citronella candles to help keep mosquitoes at bay, and set to work.

Work AreaStep one was to remove the bracket and pull the cable housing down under the fuel tank so I could work with it while sitting on the ground. Neither caused me any fuss. A closer inspection of the housing revealed a thin metal wire coiling along the housing, the effective threading for the bracket. Inside the bracket itself was worn–out, dried rubber, most likely the reason the threading wasn’t holding anymore. I attempted to screw the bracket back on and only succeeded in uncoiling the threading from the housing.

Stripped HousingI tried a couple different methods of holding the thread in place as I wound the bracket on, including using needle–nosed vice grips to clamp the thread in place, but nothing worked. After several attempts and about 30 minutes the wire threading itself was so damaged from my abuse I opted to just snip it off. At this point it was determined that more drastic measures were going to be required to complete the repair, so I borrowed Joel’s bike and Autumn and I went to the auto parts store down the road and bought the smallest quantity of 1/4″ hose clamps we could find.

HoseClamped BracketBack at the house, I wrenched the bracket on, fixed it to the cable housing with electrical tape and then cranked the clamp down on top. Certainly not pretty, as you can see, but tugging on the bracket indicated it would get the job done. I strung the cable back up, under the handlebars and worked it into position. The needle–nose vise grips—which were loaned to me by a coworker—clamped on the locking nut while I screwed the bracket on with a pair of over–sized pliers.

The bracket is hard to get into place, and I had to make a few adjustments to the exact position of the hose clamp to keep it from scratching the back of the headlamp bucket. But I got everything in place, tightened it all down. I refilled my water and came back outside, ready to double check my work and clean up. In my double checking, I found I could tighten the bracket onto the cluster just a tad more.

It’s hard to tell if the cable is seated properly or if the bracket is all the way in place. The attachment to the cluster can spin freely, so once the bracket and the locking nut are tightened to each other, it’s still possible to turn the entire attachment unit.Attchaing Speedo

As I twisted the bracket, I could see the cable housing was not turning to match. With hardly a yank, I slid the cable right back out of the bracket. Back to square one.

This is the point at which, in most projects, the amount of effort required exceeds the enjoyment of doing it myself and I give up for the day. This isn’t a pattern I want to continue in my life and isn’t an attitude I want to have towards working on the motorcycle.

I threw my tools down in frustration, huffed and puffed a bit, paced back and forth on the tarp and was joined by Joel. We sat down together and decided the wrap the housing in electrical tape in lieu of the wire threading. Our first attempt was too thick for the bracket to fit over. We pulled it off and did a single wrap, cutting into the rubber housing a little.

Elec Tape HousingThe bracket twisted on with some effort (those needle–nose vise grips coming in handy again), and we lay the cut rubber housing over the base of the bracket, wrapped that in electrical tape and cranked the hose clamp down on top. I tugged and tugged at this setup before stringing it back under the handlebars again. It held fast. Joel tugged on it a bit himself once it was behind the headlamp bucket. Everything held firm, so we threaded the cable in place and screwed on the bracket. We tightened the locking nut and gave the cable housing a few good tugs.

My original plan called for removing the headlamp bucket entirely, for ease of access. Since my coworker lent me the needle–nose vise grips I didn’t have to remove anything in order to get to the locking nut. That was a huge help. The cable itself runs from the left side of the transmission body, under the fuel tank along the frame and the comes out just behind and under the handlebars.

Speedo Repair Feature

So with everything firmly in place, I took a few minutes to collect the discarded tape, put away the tools, roll up the tarp and blow out the not–very–useful citronella candles.

The experience of working under the canopy made me realize a couple of things: 1) Working outside in August sucks, even if you’re in the shade; 2) We really need to hang a small outdoor fan from the top of the canopy to keep the air moving.

Joel and I changed into more appropriate gear for riding—long pants, shoes and helmets, really—and set out to test the accuracy of the speedo now that we’d repaired it.

We headed down the street with him in front. He held up two fingers to indicate he was holding 20mph. The speedo read 15.

At 30mph it read 25. At 40 it read 35.

I reached forward and tried pushing up on the cable housing, to see if that would change anything. It didn’t.

Oh well.

Autumn and I had plans to head to the beach on the bike, assuming I could get the speedometer working. Knowing I was exactly 5mph under my actual speed meant I knew how fast I was going. It also gave me a good opportunity to test out the odometer—to see if it reading a reduced speed meant that it was reading fewer miles ticking by.

Autumn BikeWe loaded the saddle bags and grabbed our helmets. It was already late afternoon and we didn’t want to drive back too long after dark. Autumn found a nearby beach less than an hour away called Shell Point. I’d heard of Shell Point but couldn’t remember ever going there—not that I’ve ever made a habit of going to any beach. We mapped the route on her phone and I reset my trip-o-meter to zero.

We got about 4 miles (of 30) out of town and the bike chug-a-chugged, asking for the reserve taps to be set. I turned around, not sure how far until the next gas station and wanting to head to once I knew was on the edge of town that sells ethanol–free gas (for recreational use, as is proclaimed boldly on the pump). We filled up and I set the trip-o-meter to zero once more.

We re-routed on the phone—we were trying to check the mileage, after all—and headed south again.

The ride was was nice. Long, straight, two–lane roads, semi–canopied by trees. We drove through areas so shaded the pavement was still wet from a rain that must have come hours before. The sky was nearly cloudless and flickered in and out of view as we zipped next to Wakulla Springs State Park, the speedo reading 60.

Adam BikeAutumn sat comfortably behind me, shifting her gaze from over one shoulder to the other on occasion.

The bike responded wonderfully to the entire experience. I had the steering damper turned off (because I never remember to turn it on for those longer rides), but I felt no strain in my forearms or shoulders.

The beach was remarkable only in its lack of sand, prevalence of Oreo–stealing birds, and yellow flies. Autumn found some hermit crabs and took pictures of them, I wound up falling asleep for ten or fifteen minutes. We stayed about an hour, then took our time packing everything back up and getting changed into our riding clothes.

As we packed up the bags, an older guy pulled into the parking lot and sauntered over, asking a couple questions about the bike and telling us some stories about his own experiences riding. He warned us profusely about being safe on the road, using quite a few examples of people in the area who had died in accidents.

I really hate it when people constantly reference people dying in motorcycle accidents as a way of making their point about safety. I’m well aware that accidents are measurably more life–threatening when you’re on a motorcycle, and I know that many people have died while riding in full gear, obeying all the rules of the road and being vigilantly defensive drivers. I’m also keenly aware that I am not the one rider who will never have an accident, that the things which happen to other riders can and likely will happen to me.

I don’t know how the larger motorcycling community feels about referring to specific rider deaths when talking about safety—maybe it’s a faux pas, maybe it’s accepted behavior—but I find it both disrespectful and not useful—especially when the rider who lectures you about safety then goes on to say that he does not wear a helmet because not wearing it makes him more safety–conscious. [This, I realize, is something of an ad hominem assumption.]

We were on the bike and well on our way home before the sun got too close to the horizon, though my arms were thankful for the break in the heat. I got a visor–full of giant dragonfly about halfway back, probably going about 70mph. The ride back was really nice, the distant clouds catching the very beginning of the sunset and giving off hints of purples and oranges. Ahead there were some thick clouds, but the air felt so clean I wasn’t expecting any rain.

We got a little sprinkle as we came into town, I dodged east about a mile and was able to (just by chance) avoid what looked like heavier ran. The cooler, wet air was welcome after a long ride in the damp Florida heat.

Once home I checked the speedometer cable again and it was still holding. The odometer was accurate to the miles we’d put on the bike since filling up.

Autumn and I cooked [sweet potato chips!] and crashed after a long day.

The next morning, Sunday, I woke up and met the geezers for breakfast. Checked the odometer before and after. Then Autumn, Joel and I rode to my parents’ house. On the way home from their house I glanced down and saw my speedometer was reading zero while we were clearly whizzing down a main road. At the next red light I leaned forward to inspect the cable housing and found it had fallen out of the bracket once more. I showed Autumn and Joel when we got to the house and they both threw up their hands in frustration. I guess the next step is to get a new cable, housing and bracket and install that.

It’s frustrating that it wasn’t able to work, though, to be honest, it’s mostly frustrating because I just want to know how many god–damn miles to the gallon I’m getting and right now I haven’t a fucking clue.

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.

Fuck.

 

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.