Monday, October 26, 2015

She is Trying to Kill Me

My recently purchased 2007 Vespa GT, Vanessa, has been a problem lately.

I tried very hard to get her ready for last week's Iron Butt ride with Bill Dog, but the Monday before the ride, after getting a new fuel filter and fuel valve, while running flawlessly on a test ride, she blew the coolant hose off the carburetor, causing the engine to get very hot.  I, luckily, saw the high temperature reading and immediately stopped.  After a $110.00 tow home she was parked for the remainder of the week.
On the side of Interstate 10

Coolant on the floor board.

Walter the motorcycle tow service owner.

Nice machine.

Vanessa on the tow truck.  She appears to like it there.

So I borrowed a GTS from Shane Evans for Bill to ride in the Iron Butt.  It was a very gracious and generous offer that not many would make.

Shane and his GTS.

It had a Sava front tire that I felt was not appropriate so I changed it for the new Michelin Power Pure that I had recently put on Vanessa.  So Vanessa was left with this tire that carries a poor reputation around here.

Then I had Boris, my friend and mechanic, come to pick her up for the repairs.  He re-attached the hose, gave her a 10 mile test ride and declared her to be fit again.

So, yesterday, I decided to ride her on a nice comfortable country ride to Kingsland, Georgia for the funeral of Gary Readdick, a fine scooter friend I wrote about earlier.

To get to the good part, I headed out I-10 to Chaffee Road.  As I got over 60 mph the scooter felt very unstable.  So unstable that I turned off at the first possible exit to ride home to exchange her for a road worthy scooter.  I got caught up in a dead end neighborhood, but found my way to US90 and aimed for home.  In looking down, again, I noticed the temperature gauge was high.  Pulled over to see a little steam and some coolant on the floor board.

Called Boris.  But while waiting I put in a pint of coolant I had brought along and restarted the engine.  Coolant was coming out of the nipple on the head that supplies coolant to the carburetor.  The other end had come loose!  I reattached the end and called Boris and Neil, the driver who was coming and told them to hold off, as I thought I could ride to the nearest auto parts store to get more coolant and get home.  I rode about a mile, but stopped because the temperature rose too high again.  My assumption is that it lost much more than the pint I could put in.

Neil arrived and as I was moving the scooter to the ramp, I noticed it was difficult to push,  He looked down and said that she had a flat tire.  WHAT IS NEXT WITH THIS MACHINE!

Side of the road again.

Loaded up on Boris' work truck.

I have decided that she not only doesn't like me, SHE HATES ME!  So much that she is now trying to kill me.  What I thought was the bad Sava front tire was actually a brand new Michelin Power Pure going flat on the highway.  She is possessed by the devil.  I am going to ask a preacher friend of mine if he will perform an exorcism.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Gary Readdick

I cried this morning, a lot, when I heard the news that our friend Gary Readdick had passed away after a tree trimming accident had hospitalized him a week ago.  He had serious head injuries.  I only knew Gary through riding with him and the other Georgia Boyz on 7BSC rides, mostly heading north.  But Gary was special to me.  Always smiling and happy.

Gary would show up at our Tuesday dinner destinations occasionally, just to be with us for an hour or so, then ride back home to Georgia.  He was always welcome.

I already miss him.

Good Bye Friend.

From my friend Russ Dixon:
 I remember the first time we met him. A couple of years back, we were on a Sunday ride headed up to St. Simons to have lunch at Southern Soul BBQ. We saw this guy at a gas station on an Aprilia 500 but didn't stop. Looked back a little while later and he had caught up with us and started riding along. At the next stop, we introduced ourselves and he asked if he continue on with us to Southern Soul when he found out our destination. Of course we said yes, and he's been riding with us ever since. Introduced us to his friends Roy Hughes and John Day and they became known (to us) as the Georgia Boyz, along with Tom Cyphers.

Pensacola UnRally3

It has been a busy week.  With me riding to and from the UnRally in Pensacola and the Iron Butt ride, I have covered the entire state, 2000 miles, on scooter in a week.

It started with riding to the UnRally, an annual event put on by Jami Sanderson and her family.  They are gracious hosts and know what people want in a rally.

Our gracious host, Jami, along with Captain Gary

The ride over was great as I started at around 7:00 to meet Captain Gary in Cottondale at 10:30.  I arrived ten minutes early but he was waiting.  We had lunch in a local restaurant on US-90, then made our way to Pensacola and the Sanderson house.  There, we found a few attendees and Jami.  Gary and I then got our room at the nearby hotel and took naps.  Dinner was at the Oar House, a cool waterfront place that appeals to many.

Scooters at the Oar House

Friday started with breakfast at D&D Cycles where they had donuts and a cool raffle.  I won a great cleaning kit (Gary said I needed it) for riding the longest to the event, Then we rode in a very large group to Navarre Beach.  We went through downtown Pensacola to the Palafox Pier for a photo shoot.  Taking that many scooters through town is ambitious, but Jami pulled it off.  She is a scooterist's scooterist.  The ride through Gulf Islands National Seashore was fantastic. So good we did it twice.  The beaches in the area have the whitest sand imaginable and it draws huge crowds.  Luckily it was October and the places were sparsely populated.

Jaylin winning a prize

Waiting in downtown Pensacola.  
Brave leader taking us there, but it worked out well.
Talent shows.

Scooters at the Palafox pier

Riding along the beach.  Beautiful place!

More beach front riding.

At the stop I walked down to the beach.  Worlds Whitest Beaches!

Rare shot of me taken by Kaitlyn Sanderson.

For lunch we went to McGuire's Irish Pub.  We had a large room to ourselves and the food and beverages were great.  The afternoon was to spend as we wished, then we gathered our scooters for a showing at Gallery Night, where they close the streets off to traffic and open downtown to the people.  Turned out great.

Gallery night scooter lineup.  We were the hit of the show...well not really.

Sunday we had a small group breakfast at IHOP where the service was as bad as any I have had anywhere anytime.  From there we met everyone for a long ride to Fort Morgan in Alabama.  It was windy, but nice and I enjoyed it much.  Lunch was a picnic prepared by the Sanderson Family,  We got home mid afternoon.

Riding through coastal Alabama to Fort Morgan

Lunch, where the wind was trying to blow everything everywhere.  Thank you Jami and all Sandersons for putting this on for all of us.

Cannon Fire

The serene Fort Morgan

Long line of scooters riding home.

I had been wanting to test the top speed of a Yamaha Smax since it came out.  One of the participants, Damon, had one and offered it to me for the test.  I hit a GPS 72 upwind and 78 downwind, solid and stable the entire time.  It is a good bike with styling that doesn't excite me and a footwell that has my feet too high.  Not very comfortable compared to a Vespa GT.  But it might be the perfect Cannonball scooter.

Gary and I then went back to the Oar House for a light meal and beer.  I watched the beginning of the Florida LSU football game, then we went to the Sanderson's for their party.

I was very pleased to attend.  Everyone was very pleasant and the rides and meals well planned.  I especially liked meeting many fellow scooterists.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

1000 miles of Florida in a Day

Yesterday was Iron Butt Day.  Bill Dog came from england with a mission to complete his seventh Iron Butt ride.  This one is known as a Saddle Sore 1000, is it is for a rider to cover at least 1000 miles in less than 24 hours.  We did it in 19:30.

We began at my house.  I rode Razzo, my 2005 Vespa GT.  Bill rode a 2009 Vespa GTS, tenerously loaned to us by my friend Shane Evans.  

The ride started at 4:00 AM

The first stop was the local Sunoco station, where the door was locked, but the clerk was there and signed my start of ride paperwork.  We fueled both scooters to get a time receipt and headed off into a black, dark highway.

The Route:,+Jacksonville,+FL+32205-9054,+USA/30.2951359,-81.7067991/@28.9153215,-82.8481128,8z/data=!4m54!4m53!1m50!1m1!1s0x88e5b83bb89d63f7:0x8728c9be0b90be41!2m2!1d-81.706209!2d30.295562!3m4!1m2!1d-81.9953105!2d30.2881785!3s0x88e592d27a964f97:0x2e300c4040cdb776!3m4!1m2!1d-83.9061468!2d30.4315813!3s0x88ec3fa0878908c9:0x5f9077fd7b684ff7!3m4!1m2!1d-83.2091706!2d30.0756229!3s0x88eec9807e86ba31:0xff6908f1f1d9fe2b!3m4!1m2!1d-82.1635307!2d29.0429876!3s0x88e7d703db05385b:0x1c613cbd01644370!3m4!1m2!1d-80.7700533!2d25.761907!3s0x88d98ad988f74bed:0xbf76965fe65f50cd!3m4!1m2!1d-80.3965895!2d26.1348693!3s0x88d90a39ee78fef1:0x184aef03344838e2!3m4!1m2!1d-80.3305682!2d27.1274492!3s0x88dec386080b7351:0x7e29d0711e61e3be!3m4!1m2!1d-81.5146954!2d30.1149745!3s0x88e5ccd54d19ce1b:0xd128b112ce84b54e!3m4!1m2!1d-81.7699063!2d30.310351!3s0x88e5b8d724ed0c85:0x45138c1284d0b12f!1m0!3e0?hl=en

Starting mileage in the garage at 4:00 AM

Into the black night

The first leg was on I-10 to just east of Tallahassee.  I had hoped to be able to make at least 120 miles per tank but Bill's GTS went to empty at 100, so we stopped short, adding several stops during the day.  The ride went southeast on 19 to Perry, then 27 through Mayo, Branford, Fort White and High Springs to I-75.  I-75 is a typical highway, but it has some hills and views to make it interesting.  This day it also had a tailwind that kept me up with the mid speed cars and passing all of the trucks  We made good time to make our meeting with Bill's sister Liz at a 7-11 in Sarasota.  She was delightful, bringing us food and drink for the remainder of the ride.

Bill Dog and Liz

Razzo turned over 15,000 miles on that leg.
I missed the exact moment but caught it at 15,001.

The ride continued south to where I-75 turns and becomes Alligator Alley across the Everglades.  I wasn't content with that and had us going south to US41, a two lane road that runs straight as an arrow across the south part of the Everglades.  It was sparsely populated with cars so we could make good time, except for the 20 mph headwind that kept Razzo's speed down.

The turn off of Alligator Alley to head south to US 41

The turn from 29 to 41

Nice, vacant road, that US-41

More scenery from Razzo.

And more.

Strong headwind on 41

Big man-made canals along the road.  Can't be good for a River of Marsh.

To avoid Miami, we started north on a road my GPS called "Road", but google calls 997.  It was in the middle of major everglades repair, so it had sticks in the middle of the pavement for its entire 14 mile length.  Traffic moved, but at 45 mph, so the slowest road on the entire ride.  But there were no stops and it turned out well.  I then took the Ronald Reagan Turnpike and Florida Turnpike to pick up I-95 near Jupiter (Not Uranus)  It flowed well, but we had several stops as the GTS began needing fuel ever 60 to 80 miles.  Razzo would rest as Bill refueled the GTS on a couple of the stops.

Construction, slow moving traffic.  No Passing.

We made it to Titusville at exactly 8:00, as planned, to meet with Bob (Flordian on MV) who had prepared a dinner of ravioli, salad and bread.  I was famished after getting by on nut bars and gatorade most of the day.  It was perfect.  There was a little Raccoon friend who wanted to join us but we kept it at bay.

Bill Dog and Bob Arnold.  Bob brought the perfect dinner.

A little friend.

We arrived in Jacksonville at 11:30, stopping at the closest Shell station for beer.  It was a quiet, but a beer for me and a coffee for Bill was a well deserved celebration.

Garmin said 1022 at the Shell station.

Razzo said 1004 miles.

I arrived home feeling fit and ready for another.  Not tomorrow, but I could do it again.  But I probably won't.  I enjoyed every bit of the daylight riding.  The night, not so much.  I do love riding and shorter trips are more fun for me.  I am glad I did it, but now having done two, that may be enough of those for me.

One thing that surprised me is that it turned out to be smaller than you would believe.  If a scooter can cover everything from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, then Tampa, Sarasota, the Everglades, Metro Miami and the entire east coast in one day on scooters, it must be smaller than you think too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

UnRide to the UnRally

Thursday, I am heading west again.  This time to the third annual UnRally in Pensacola.

It is being put on by Jami Sanderson and her husband, with over fifty riders scheduled to attend.

Two of those are me and my friend Captain Gary, who will meet me on the road in Cottondale, Florida.  From there we will ride together to Pensacola.

Rides and activities are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with departure on Sunday morning for the 360 mile ride home.

I met Jami in Apalachicola two weekends ago and she was a very likable person who will certainly do a great job organizing the event.

Postings will follow from the hotel.

Jami with her cool Sprint and Razzo at Indian Point.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Final Preparations for Iron Butt

With the Saddle Sore 1000 on the horizon. I had to get the two Vespa GT's ready for the challenge.  The chosen two are Vanessa and Razzo.

As I have posted here, Vanessa has been through a lot this year.  Traumatic accident and change of ownership, but she is the freshest of the three in mileage and age.  Razzo is perfection is a scooter and has proven itself with rides this year to Virginia, North Carolina and three round trips to Apalachicola, along with many short rides.  7500 miles in seven months.

They need to begin the run with new tires, belt and oil.  I removed the wheels from both last week and took them to my tire mechanic, Mike, last week.  They have been mounted, balanced and tested, working very well.

Wheels off Razzo

New Shoes for Vanessa

Friday night I came home and changed the belt on Vanessa.  The original rollers looked fine so I cleaned them and left them on until the next change.  Same with the variator O ring and the three U shaped glides.  The belt was probably original, 5000 miles and 9 years old.  Saturday morning I did the same with Razzo, but put 12g Dr. Pulley rollers in to try the heavier version for fun.  They worked well as in one quick run to the warehouse, I hit an indicated 85 mph easily.  It felt fine accelerating as well.

Belts, rollers, oil filters, variator nuts, exhaust gaskets...

Transmission open on Vanessa

Vanessa still bothers me a little as she stumbles occasionally and is currently starting slower than usual.  She also has a slight shake from the rear, even with the new tire.  It smooths out fine at speed but remains a puzzle.  So I thought it best to do a shakedown ride to test speed and fuel mileage.  I chose I-10 heading west and rode 55 miles to 441, just north of Lake City.  I turned around and headed home until the fuel light came on approaching Macclenny.  I stopped in Baldwin for fuel and was surprised that it went through 2.24 gallons in just 121 miles.  That will change strategy on the Iron Butt ride.  On reason for the ride was to determine the speed potential after the belt change.  I went out without a GPS, relying only on the recently replaced speedometer.  It was reading 75 to 76 mph for most of the running alone on level ground.  It reached a high of around 82.  The problem with this is that my other Vespas have very optimistic speedometers, reading 75 usually means 67 to 68 on the GPS.  So I went home and installed a RAM mount with the GPS.  Luckily, Vanessa has the most accurate speedometer of them all.  When reading 75 to 76, it was actually traveling at 73 to 74 mph.  It maxed out at 79 on this short ride so speed will not be an issue.

So I am left wondering if I should do more to get it ready.  The broken machine has already cost me at least $4500. and still has issues.  I am thinking it may need the valves adjusted, new spark plug and a thorough cleaning of the carburetor.  Or will it be ok?

Not worried at all about Razzo.

I am quite certain that Rocket would either throw a drive pulley or have carburetion issues on the ride, so it is out.  The only option that would definitely work, would be to put BillDog on Razzo while I ride the Honda.

I will work it out in the next week.

The four IB capable rides

Vanessa and Razzo, with the Honda

Rocket feeling left out.