Monday, August 13, 2018

Vanessa is Dead

Vanessa has been snake bit from the beginning.  The first time I saw her, she was owned by my friends Leslie and Maria.  Leslie was riding with the club when we turned into a gas station near Citra, Florida.  She and Geezer got tangled and both went down.  Vanessa was damaged but was repaired shortly after.

Then, when the girls moved to Italy, I kept her in my garage, riding frequently to keep her healthy.  But one day I needed to move scooters and put Sarah on her for a ride to my office.  They didn't make it.  I wrote about it here.

After that accident, I got her mostly repaired, not really worrying about cosmetics.

She looked OK and ran well until a coolant line kept coming adrift, causing overheating issues.
Then she blew out a back tire at the same time of another overheating. Then she overheated again and I almost dumped her in the river.

But I eventually got her fixed with a new water pump and hose.

It turned out that she was good enough to run in the 2016 Scooter Cannonball Run.  Together, we finished third.

Even better, we had the fastest raw time of all of the competitors.

So I left her in Seattle for two years, ready to run west to east in the 2018 Scooter Cannonball Run.

Getting to the start was spectacular with a run wit my friend Mark from Seattle to Morro Bay, mostly along the Pacific coast.

But in the Cannonball itself, we had a misfortunate accident on a dirt road in Nevada.  She was damaged again, but not nearly as badly as my leg.

After the accident, she rode in a trailer for several days.  On her second day, she fell over early in the day and rode most of the difficult day three on her right side, causing more damage.  But I got her working again and was taking her on a fun ride with Ken.

The ride started poorly when I began heading south on 301, just south of Baldwin.  While passing a car she lost some power, so I slowed and noticed the oil light flashing.  I slowed further and turned into a side street to see what was the problem.  She stopped running so I checked under the seat and the engine looked good.  I then noticed a glaze on the seat and left side panel.  It was oil.  Then I looked down further and, much to my horror, I saw the open filler hole.  No dipstick or cap and oil was everywhere.

I called for Uber to pick me up and headed to get my truck to retrieve and, hopefully, revive the stricken scooter.  I came back with oil, a new dipstick and a funnel for pouring accuracy.  She took three quarters of a quart to reach full.  I cranked her up but the engine knocked badly.  I knew then that she was dead.

All along she has been a problem, but I stuck with her through the bad moments and we had some great ones together.  But now, with every body panel damaged and now the engine toast, she is not even useful as a parts scooter.

I think I will keep her and hang her on the wall.  Vanessa is now a work of art.

Monday, August 6, 2018


It had been more than a year since I had read a book, cover to cover.

The last one was probably Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods, a columnist in the Florida Times Union, the Jacksonville newspaper.  That was a fine book about a year spent trying to understand the past, present and future of the National Park system.  During that year, Mark's mother was diagnosed with and died from cancer, adding to the story while causing much pain.  I contacted Mark later and invited him to lunch with me to talk about writing a book as I was considering writing one about my 2014 Scooter Cannonball adventure.  He made a fine lunch companion as we talked for over an hour.  I should do it again.

After that, I had an appointment with my eye doctor and had new glasses made.  These never worked as the reading part of the progressive bifocals was ill placed causing the works to look a bit blurry, causing eye strain reading or working on the computer.  That, plus the fact that the TV is so much easier to use for entertainment.

I went to the eye doctor a month ago and had a new eye test and glasses made.  These are nearly perfect, so reading books, iPad and the computer is now a pleasure.

This past week Sarah rented an oceanfront condo for us to use while Kylie was in town from her home in New York City. 

Sunday morning I tried to watch the Hungarian Grand Prix, a Formula 1 race, on television.  I couldn't get it to come on so I abandoned the effort. 

I had seen some books in the residence and picked up one that looked readable.  It was Moscow Rules, a spy novel by Daniel Silva.  It was a good read that I got through on Monday morning.  It was set in Italy, France and Russia with well written characters and plot.

Getting in the mood to read on this week off, I looked for another book and settled on one recommended by the nice lady working in the office.  It was Invisible, by James Patterson and David Ellis.  This one I wanted to abandon several times while reading as the antagonist was a terrible person who was torturing and killing other characters while the protagonist was a strange woman who figured out the string of murders.  I simply don't enjoy reading about torture and murder.  But I carried on to the finish where the twist was stupid and contradicted almost everything written earlier in the book.  I hated it but it was an easy, fast read so I made it to the finish.

Because I was still in the mood to read more, Sarah recommended Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.  It is a story about poor boys from Washington State who came together to row to a gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.  I enjoyed seeing the hardships that the lead character, Joe Rantz had growing up in the Depression. He was abandoned twice by his family, once when his mother died when he was only four, sent off to Pennsylvania to live with others, then while in high school when his step mother couldn't take him along with his younger step brothers and sisters.   But he survived and became legendary.  It was a fine read.  I wish I had read it before going to Seattle in May.  I would have gone onto the University of Washington campus to see the Husky Clipper, the 60+ foot skull used to win the gold.

Three books in one week was something new for me.  I am thinking of putting a comfortable chair in our little used sunroom at home to use for reading more.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Changes the Emotions of Riding

It has been more than two months since I returned home after leaving the SCR early, due to my little spill.

The leg is much better, no pain, swelling and bruising gone.

Two ER visits and four primary care doctor visits so far.

I also got an MRI of my knee as it has been a problem for years now.  It showed torn Meniscus, but surgery requires the swelling from the spill to go down further.  Probably at least another month.

My summation of the two week ride.

I had an amazing 1500 mile ride from Seattle to Morro Bay with Mark.  We got along well and the ride and scenery were extrordinary.  I got to meet new friends in Seattle and Portland. We spent nights in Newport and Arcata, staying in my favorite hotel of the entire trip downtown there.  Then we stayed at the Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa, a fine place surrounded by vineyards.  Then we made our way towards San Francisco.

Riding with Penni in Marin County was so much fun, even with the fog.  The lunch in Sausalito was tasty and meeting Peter was a pleasure.

From there it got a little more difficult as I was exhausted as we rode through San Francisco to our hotel in Milbrae, just south of the airport.  Mark and I had spent five days or riding between seven and ten hours on each of the previous four days.  Being tired and not wanting to ride the highway back downtown, I skipped a dinner with several riders and Oz Lang.  I wanted to meet him and his lovely wife Deidre, but ended up staying near the hotel, getting an In-N-Out burger for dinner and blogging in the hotel.

The next morning we were to ride with Mark, Matt and Dave to Morro Bay, but I broke away from the riders heading south along the coast from San Carlos as we rode more thick fog.  I decided to take the highway and arrived in Morro Bay in the early afternoon.

I arrived in Morro Bay to find a huge argument going on between rival members on an ill conceived team.  They ended up separating, one taking the trailer and hitching it to a rental Suburban, the other taking the truck.  Police got involved and it was ugly.

But seeing many friends from the earlier Cannonball Runs made most of the stay quite pleasant.  Ken and Scott arrived and unloaded Walt's and Scott's scooters.  Ken had decided to drive support instead of riding.  I was so pleased that he was coming.

We had nice lunches.  I dined on Thursday with Shane, a new Squadra Lumaca rider.  He is a jazz trumpeter and clearly very successful businessman, as he retired at a young age to pursue his jazz life.  On Friday, Ken, Walt and I had lunch with John and his wife Chris.  John rode a vintage Vespa Rally in 2016.  He was a fine competitor in the run and has become a good friend.

The organizers had a large party the evening before leaving, so we all got together to kick off the ride.

That night, my roommate Matt told me that our friend Suellen, who had driven down from Napa a few days after coming off of her scooter, injuring her arm, didn't have a room.  He invited her to room with us.  We enjoyed her company.

The morning of day one of the Cannonball began well.  We all met up at Morro Rock, took many photos and off we went.  My tale continues in earlier posts, but the overall feeling is great disappointment that I had to drop out because of the injured leg.  I am certain that, had I finished, I would have a glowing opinion of the run.

Overall, I was never comfortable with the route.  It was brilliantly planned by Dave, Mark and Matt, but I feel that they overdid it in trying to make it the most difficult SCR ever.  It was 200 miles further than 2016 while being one day shorter.  It averaged 390 miles per day, and these were largely dirt and mountain roads the first four days.  I am always good with days up to 600+ miles, but my long days are usually on fast paved country roads or state highways.

Day one was 388 miles.  Not too long but it included a challenging run through Sherman Pass.  This was all pavement but gravel on many turns and those turns were tight with steep climbs and descents.  I almost went off the road on one turn with particularly heavy gravel.  Vanessa and I came very close to ending the ride there.

Days two, three and four each had many miles of dirt with day three including the Burr Trail and Moki Dugway, both dirt switchback descents.  Spectacular views from the Burr Trail that I took in the support truck with Ken.  We skipped the Moki Dugway as we were far behind the riders and needed to get to Bluff.  We were on the road for 13 hours that day.

After that the days covered more ground but the route all pavement so I would have greatly enjoyed those.  I ended up falling on the first dirt road on day two.  I have ridden hundreds of miles of sand and gravel roads in the past with no issues.  This one got me, along with several of the other riders.  I just got a very unfortunate knock on my shin too low for knee protection to help, too high for boots to block it.  And it spread fast. swelling and bruising my entire leg, thigh to toes.  Both emergency room doctors had X-Rays taken.  They showed no broken bones.

I am certain that I would have been very pleased and proud to have ridden into Virginia Beach at the end of this fantastic challenge.  It appears that 22 of the riders made it the entire distance.  I am very disappointed that I was not among them.

I had decided, even before going down on the dirt road, that I was probably going to skip the epic dirt roads on day 3.  Instead, I was considering riding from St. George to Bluff on my own route.    I would pick up the given route on day four.  That one had a long dirt road through an Indian reservation.  Several riders were stopped by the locals either demanding payment for trespassing or sending riders away.   I would have tried to ride around that one too.  I had decided to ride more like a tourist on the dirt road days.  The asphalt days would have seen me try to compete.

The future long rides will probably be me riding solo, with only someone like good friends Ken, Drew or my brother David.

While I have always enjoyed long, fast rides, I am finding that I now prefer a more leisurely ride.  I will ride a scooter across the country again, but maybe spend more time in interesting cities and parks.  Stop for lunch in interesting restaurants and towns.  Maybe even
smell a rose or two.

Stopping to see the sights with Mark in California.