Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Valve Adjustment Next

Nothing to write about this week.  The weather was unsettled last night and I hadn't really seen my wife in a week as she was at the beach with her old girlfriends.  So, instead of riding with the club, I had dinner with her.

I will be taking Rocket to Boris on Friday so he can adjust the valves.  This is probably the last work needed, then it is going to sit in the garage until the trailer ride to Tennessee for transport to Hyder.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tail of the Dragon Ride 2013

In early May, 2013, the annual 7bsc ride was to western North Carolina again.  This time, the destination was to Robbinsville, so we could ride the Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway.  We had a large group, maybe 13 or 14 total on the ride.  The two old guys, Howard and Tom went a day early.  Most of us left from Jacksonville and picked up Elaina in Hoboken.  

The ride was up the smaller roads through Blackshear, Baxley, Vidalia, Sandersville, Sparta, Lexington, Commerce to Helen for the night.  Unfortunately we lost Elaina in Lexington to, what turned out to be an electrical problem that blew out a fuse on her Vespa 250 GTS.  She ended up taking it to a couple of dealerships who all tried to repair it, finally getting her on the road home after more than a day.

We had a nice evening in Helen, eating at a restaurant within a short walk of the hotel.  Helen is a tourist oriented town trying to look like an alpine village.  It is pleasant enough, surrounded by the foothills of the mountains.

The next day we headed to Robbinsville, NC via Hiawassee and Wayah Road.  Very nice morning ride.  Once settled in the Phillips Motel, we did the first attempt at the Tail of the Dragon, then the Cherohala Skyway.  The next day we all did the Dragon again and broke up into smaller groups to ride wherever we wanted.  Fontana dam was a nice destination too and I went back to Wayah Road to look at some property owned by a friend who wants me to design a house for her.

We spent a second night in Robbinsville, then a few of us did the Tail of the Dragon again, then we backtracked to Vidalia, Georgia for the night.  Had a nice dinner there, headed home on the following day and had an easy 175 mile ride home. 

This is a ride we all will gladly do again.

The gang in Hoboken, picking up Elaina

My loyal steed.

The riders on the Cherohala Skyway

Our destination.  I ran it seven times.

                                                           At a park on the Skyway

Rocket hanging out with his Italian cousins

Tail Light Woes

On my first shakedown run on Rocket since the new parts were installed, I went over a bump and heard something from the back of the scoot.  

Didn't really pay it much attention until I stopped later.  When I walked around the back I noticed the entire tail light assembly was laying back, held to Rocket only by the wiring connection.  

The two tabs at the top have always been broken, but the bottom tabs, both plastic and secured to the body by screws, must have weakened and failed together.  Now I need a new assembly for this.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Cannonball Field is Shrinking

Today, Geoff Gregory, AKA HelixGeoff, wrote that he has to drop out of the Scooter Cannonball because his boss wouldn't let him take the time off.  I know Geoff and was looking forward to getting to know him better while on the ride.  He was riding there with Eduardo, who went with us to Robbinsville and Deals Gap last year. I hope he is still planning to ride.

I thought after the first rider declined that there would be others.  It looks like three now.  I will be surprised if it isn't at least three more before the start.  Could be a lot more.  It is quite an effort to get to the start and some might be just now realizing that.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cannonball Shakedown a Success!

We had very nice weather for the 7bsc ride today to High Springs. I planned a route that took us on some of my favorite local roads, out US90 to Sanderson, then north for a ride through the Osceola National Forest.  When we got near Lake City, we turned south on Price Creek Road and took it all the way to 18, 241 and 236 into High Springs.  We ate at the Great Outdoors restaurant, a good destination restaurant for us.  We returned through Worthington Springs, Brooker, Lake Butler and Macclenny.  The last 25 miles for me were on I-10 heading east to Jacksonville.  The new parts are becoming more fruitful as I found that in little wind, running near cars and trucks, that I could maintain 74 to 76 mph with a brief maximum of 81.  I am encouraged for the Scooter Cannonball Run, as this speed could make us competitive.

Resting in Osceola National Forest

Rocket's new red spring that goes with the new shock.  
It wasn't necessary as the old one was fine, but it looks cool

Scoots at another rest stop

Briefly touched 81 mph while on I-10, drafting and a little downhill

Cannonball Shakedown Ride

Today, the club ride is to High Springs, Florida for lunch at the Great Outdoors restaurant.  It should be close to 200 miles total and will double as a shakedown ride for the upcoming Cannonball Run.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rocket Parts Installed: Cannonball Ready!

Today I booked Boris and his brother Eric to install the parts I received recently.  The parts included the front shock, belt, sliders, oil, filter, hub oil and rear tire.
It turns out that the old shock was just fine but this one does have a red spring and looks great.  Russ and I also painted the exhaust while it was off and installed a new gasket.
It took three hours but everything is done now except the valve adjustment that Boris will do next weekend.

I did a 30 mile test run after the installation, to check top speed and see how everything worked.  Recently I have been stuck at around 71, 72 mph as a top speed.  It didn't really matter about the wind or drafting or grade.  Today, I was able to run 73, 74 mph in level conditions while running alone.  A little faster downhill and downwind.  In traffic, with a draft working, I hit 78 mph in each direction.  Not bad but I was hoping to get a little more.

The outer variator pulley that I ordered to replace the original equipment one was actually for an ET4 and too large to fit my GT.  That was disappointing because the original one has a distinct groove in the outer part of the surface.  This has to affect speed.

I will use Rocket for the club ride to High Springs tomorrow and then let it sit until hauling it to Tennessee to join the support truck for the long ride to Hyder.

My Iron Butt tag for the ride last year on Lightning

Eric in the Warehouse

Hub oil draining.  It wasn't old but it doesn't hurt to change it.

New tire ready to go back on

The new red spring up front

The brothers in action

New exhaust gasket.  
Using the spreader allowed it to go in all the way smoothly.
It should be good for the entire ride.

The master at work.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Natchez Trace Parkway 2012. The Natchez 7

After finding out about the Scooter Cannonball Run, I decided to enter the 2012 event.  Several other club members wanted to go too.  They all wanted it to be a group ride, not competing, and one was to turn to head north after the second or third day.  Others spoke of turning around in Texas but by the time we were making arrangements we were all going all the way from Savannah to San Diego.  Most had booked rooms and a return flight and scooter transport.

But after a disparaging remark by me about Jess' posting that our bikes were disposable, saying that they would all have problems, etc. we all got emails from Patrick uninviting us to ride with them.  Then we were all cut off the website and most got no response to repeated emails asking for a reasonable answer.  It was disheartening and very unfortunate.

Instead, we decided to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway that goes from near Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi.  We called ourselves the Natchez 7.

Because we had all booked vacation time for the Cannonball, we left on April 21.  Six of us left Jacksonville and headed to Douglas, Georgia where we met up with Elaina who was riding there from Brunswick.  From there we rode all day to Auburn, Alabama, a total of around 350 miles.

The second day had a destination of the Barber Motorcycle Museum outside of Birmingham, what should have been an uneventful ride through the northern hills of Alabama.  But instead, I didn't get the Garmin well programmed and got off of the planned route.  It all led to a wrong turn that saw two of us drop our scooters, including me.  A Vespa GT does not like going on its side and it took us around two hours to get it running well again.  It needed an air filter cleaning and a new spark plug.  The rear brake lever was also broken in the fall, so the remainder of the trip had me with a front brake only.  We made it to Barber and enjoyed seeing all of the cool bikes and cars.  

The next morning, with my hand swollen and bike leaking coolant, I decided to abandon the ride and head home.  But my wonderful friend Sue convinced me to stay on the ride.  I am so pleased that I did.  We headed north to Franklin Tennessee.  On the way, we found an automobile repair shop where I asked them if they could fix the leaking radiator hose.  It was near the clamp and the nice fellow cut off the bad part and reattached the line.  No problems after that.  He didn't want to charge me anything, but I paid anyway.  The day became very cold and windy as we headed north to Franklin, but we all survived well.

Day four was the top of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  It was very beautiful and the day was great.  At a point near the middle of the day, I handed over the lead position to Russ as I got tired of everyone poking around, not keeping up.  We couldn't get lost either as there was only one, clearly marked road.  We spent the night in Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley, so a few of us rode to his park.

The next day, we all met up and I decided I would head to Natchez by myself to enjoy the road on my own.  Selfish, I know, but I loved it.  I didn't want to stop and except for one fuel stop, I made it to Natchez in no time at all.  I found a hotel for everyone and looked around to see the historic city as well as a quick trip across the Mississippi River to Louisiana so I could add it to my states visited map.  The others came in and all was good again.

Charlie wanted to go to Biloxi, Mississippi so he could do a little gambling, so that was our next destination.  We arrived there after a very easy 220 mile ride and found unbelievable devastation from Hurricane Katrina along with the many others that have hit the area.  We went to a restaurant location that was an empty lot.  That night Charlie and the others went gambling while I took a ride along the Gulf to Bay St. Louis and back.  Had I realized how close it was, I would have left earlier and gone to New Orleans.

The next day was a ride east, intended for the others in the group to stay near Panama CIty while I met up with my family in Tallahassee to see our son graduate.  We all started to break apart as some needed to get home.  I was running late and broke away east of Pensacola to pick up I-10 and made it to Sam's apartment before my wife and daughter.  We then went to Barnacle Bills for seafood and family time.

My last day was to go to the graduation, then we headed home.  I, unfortunately blew out the exhaust gasket in Madison and, without a spare that went home with Russ, had to creep home with it blowing.

It was a great ride, even with my little issues.
Meeting up with Elaina in Douglas, Georgia

Auburn, and what was left of Toomer's Corner

Back upright, but not running yet.

Vespas in the Barber Museum

Friendly repair shop in north Alabama
Me on Lightning.  No rear brake lever.

At the north end of the Natchez Trace Parkway

On the Parkway

The birthplace of Elvis Presley

I broke away and started hanging out with a bad crowd.

Natchez mansion

Nothing left along the Gulf in parts of coastal Mississippi.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Colorado ride, 2011

In early summer of 2011, my friend Drew offered to take my scooter to Denver so we could ride around while his son was visiting a friend in Colorado Springs.  Of course, I accepted.

He had drove out with his BMW and my Vespa GT in the trailer.  I flew to Denver where he and Sean picked me up in his truck and we went back to a nice hotel in downtown Denver.  

I arrived in the morning and as soon as we got there, he headed out to take Sean to his friend's house for a few days.  I used that time to get a feel for the place and headed into the mountains.  What a feeling for a Florida boy to ride in the Rocky Mountains.

I returned to Denver in the early afternoon, then Drew and I rode together to Lookout Mountain, some canyons and Boulder.  

The next day we ventured further.  We headed out I-70 to pick up 40 and a ride to Granby, Rocky Mountain National Park and back through Nederland and more canyons.  Fantastic riding that day with my performance highly affected by the elevations (12,000 feet in the park), especially the uphill parts.  Drew would blast away from me going uphill, leaving me to race down to catch him.  Now, that was fun.

The third day had us riding on I-70 again to Vail.  Climbing to the Eisenhower Tunnel had me going 35 mph with a wide open throttle.  I thought I had broken it, but in the level tunnel it picked up speed.  Going downhill on the west side was great.  We stopped in Vail where we parked in a parking garage while we had a late breakfast.  Upon returning, Rocket wouldn't start.  We spent over an hour trying to get it to start and it finally did after removing the air filter and fiddling a bit.  Drew came very close to riding back to Denver to get the trailer for a tow back to town.  But our persistence worked and the day was saved.  We went from there down 24 through Leadville and Buena Vista, where we turned east and headed back to Denver on 285.  I didn't turn mine off until we were refueling near Denver.  It started fine and held up the rest of trip.  300+ miles that day.

The last day Drew wanted to ride his bicycle on a trail, so I rode around Denver to get a feel for the city, then I flew out in the afternoon.
My first canyon

Heading out with Drew

Lookout Mountain


Heading north on 40 to the park

In the park at 12,000 feet

A brief rest in the park

Mountain lake

285 heading back to Denver on the third day

I didn't plan the wear rate on the back tire very well.

Nexus 7

Two weeks ago I bought a Google Nexus 7.  They were on sale at Best Buy for $199. from the usual $229. plus I had a $20 gift certificate from a purchase for my daughter at Christmas.  I have been setting it up and using it a lot since, but was about to take it back because it has a very small screen, not much bigger than my iPhone 5.  

That was until today, when I downloaded MapFactor from Google Play.  This is a free app that even has maps that are stored internally, so it is basically a free standing GPS.  I was only able to check it out briefly, but it appears to be a good one.  The maps appear to be very detailed.  I downloaded Canada and every state we will be passing though on the ride.  

Now I need to purchase a RAM mount so it can be my go to GPS for the Cannonball.

7BSC Tuesday ride to Trent's Seafood

Last night the 7bsc ride was to Trent's Seafood across US17 from the Naval Air Station.  We rode from the warehouse through 5-Points, Avondale and Ortega.  We had around ten leaving the warehouse and met up with another six at Trent's.  One thing we do well in north Florida is fry seafood.
Scooters at the warehouse

Getting ready to ride

Five Points

Scooters and riders at Trent's.  It was a busy night there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

7BSC ride to North Carolina in 2011

In an effort to keep people interested in visiting this blog, here is more content.  A new series of my cool rides will follow every day or two until I have covered them all.

I had never taken a long ride on Rocket until one day, after visiting North Carolina with the family, I posted on the 7 Bridges Scooter Club Facebook page, "Every road in the North Carolina mountains is better than any road in Florida".  It got everyone thinking and we decided to take the first long club ride to Brevard, NC. where we stayed in a house owned by a good friend of mine.

A group of around 12 or 13 left early in the morning of April 28, 2011.  The route took us through Blackshear, Baxley, Lyons, Louisville and Wrens, Georgia.  We crossed a dam into South Carolina here.  I remember the exhilaration of being on the scooter so far from home.  I led the group for the entire ride so planning was required.  We only made one wrong turn the entire trip and that only cost us about a mile.

We were stopped for a few minutes on the J. Strom Thurmond Dam.

While there we took rides over three days including the usual stops at waterfalls, etc.
My friend Sue at the falls.

The scooters lined up in the parking area of one of the falls.

Then rode a fantastic road over to Clingman's Dome

At the parking lot at Clingman's Dome

Scooters from the other end of the line

We visited Highlands for a few minutes.

Guys checking out our scooters

Then headed home.
Harlem, Georgia, the birthplace of Oliver Hardy

The ride totaled 1200 miles for me as one guy and I took an extra ride around Wayah road and the Nantahala area,  All in all it was a very cool ride.