Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nice visit in St. Petersburg

I rode the Honda down to St. Petersburg yesterday to visit with Suellen (Tupelosue) and Ken (Lostboater), two wonderful friends that I met while on the Scooter Cannonball Run.  These two were the two that I hung out with most, eating most meals with Ken while a couple of dinners and breakfasts with Suellen.  I found them both to be very cool, making this visit very special.

I rode to where Suellen was staying, in a cabin at a KOA near Madeira Beach.  I had brought an extra helmet, so after she checked out, we rode to a local gas station where she left her car so we could ride around town.  We first went to a waterfront restaurant in Madeira Beach for a late breakfast, then rode down the beach to the end.  I have always wanted to ride on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge so we did that over and back.  Then around the residential areas on the bay side of St. Pete to downtown, where we walked around a little, seeing the outside of the Chihuly Glass museum.  Then we rode around the very cool old neighborhood north of downtown where Ken and Vicki live.  It was all very impressive. 

We rode back to pick up the car, but first stopped to have a beer and fried Eggplant at a Gulfside restaurant.

It was a fun day seeing Suellen again while discovering St. Petersburg.  She is a very cool woman.

We then made our way to Ken and Vicki's house for some snacks and beer, then to The Moon Under Water, a restaurant downtown where we ate in the sidewalk dining area.  From there we went next door to the new rooftop bar for Mojitos.  

I slept on the sofa, nice and soft.

Then rode back home via Gainesville where I had lunch with Kylie.

It was a nice couple of days, reuniting with friends, then seeing my wonderful daughter.

Suellen was a trooper riding on the back, even over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge



The tower at the Renaissance Vinoy 

Ken, Suellen and Me in Green at the rooftop bar

View to the street from the rooftop bar

Suellen on Ken's soon to be very valuable LX 150

Me and Ken behind the LX

Monday, July 28, 2014

Riding to St. Petersburg

Cannonball friend Ken (Lostboater) lives in St. Petersburg.  He loaned me some minor tools while on the Cannonball Run that I didn't get back to him before we parted in New Orleans.  So it felt like a good excuse for a ride.  Then Suellen (Tupelosue) said she was visiting the area this week to see some cousins.  

I decided to visit and see them both on the same trip and have been trying to decide on the machine to take down.  I have been having the full throttle overheating issues with Rocket so riding that one is questionable.  The Honda is new, fast and very reliable so riding that would be easy.  If the weather is bad, I might have to take the Miata.

Ken has now decided to try to repair his GTS, Big Red, and needs to know some measurements around the right cowl so he can tell the extent of the damage from the accident in that area.  Because GTs and GTSs are almost identical in that area, it may help him to have the two scooters side by side for the comparison.

The weather looks good so I will probably throw caution to the wind and ride Rocket down.  Just stay off full throttle for any distance and see if it can survive the ride.

SCCA Autocross at the Fernandina Beach airport.

I missed the last Autocross as it was on the same day I was riding home from New Orleans after the Cannonball and Amerivespa.  So I was looking forward to running the one held yesterday.

But I had corded a tire at the last one and needed to replace all four.  So in the middle of the week, I ordered tires through a friend, Buck Clayton, and he had them delivered to the Tire Kingdom in Kingsland, Georgia.  I thought I would just ride up there Friday at lunch time, get them installed and be back in the office by 3:00.  It turned out that they were busy and couldn't get to them until almost 4:00.  And I had told Buck that I would gladly buy him lunch.  We had lunch and a beer.  When I paid it felt like a lot for lunch and I glanced at the bill and saw that they charged twice for one of the beers.  The guy handed me four dollars for that, then I left.  I was still troubled by the amount and while back at the tire store, looked at the bill again.  It turned out that they had double charged for everything.  So I went back to get it resolved, but it was 3:10 and they were closed between 3:00 and 5:00.  I left them a message on the answering machine that I had tried to get it fixed but they were closed.  I figured I would go back at 5:00.  But as I was talking to another customer at the waiting area, Buck walked in and handed me $20.  He said that the owner figured it out just after we left and, since he didn't know me but knew Buck, tracked him down to give him the difference.  It was a nice gesture that shows that there is still honesty in some places.

The day was going to be the hottest day of the year, but I wanted to run anyway.  My class was running second of the two run groups and I was assigned to be starter for the first group.  That involved standing on the hot asphalt for an hour and a half.  Luckily I brought an umbrella to use to keep the sun off.  They got through with only a few hitches.

I lined up first among the second group and had a slow run on my first.  It got better on the second and again on the third.  The fourth run was slower than the third but the fifth and last was fastest of all.  I usually like that but it was still only good for third in the class of nine and seventh out of fifty overall using the PAX handicap system.  We had a good class that made it a fun day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rocket Fixes

With Rocket balking at high speed runs these days, it is time to find and fix the problem. 

One puzzling part of this is that Rocket did this when it was young, at around 5,000 to 7,000 miles.  It would run fast, then suddenly lose much of its power and slow down by 5 to 10 mph.  I don't remember the temperature going up, but it probably did.  Also, when I had Lightning, the white 2005 GT, it did this on the Iron Butt ride.  On the next to last leg in South Carolina and Georgia on I-95, it went from cruising with the fast cars in the upper 70's to hanging out with the trucks in the mid 60's and running warm.  Because I was far from home and had no ability to fix anything, I kept going.  After a gas stop it gained its speed back for the last leg.  

These are strange machines.

George, (Motovista), the owner of Scooter Parts Co., suggested several things.  The water pump was his first thought but I believe Rocket's is OK, as Boris took it apart a while ago looking for the sound that turned out to be the Camshaft.  He found it to be fine.  

The easier suggestion is to change the coolant using a higher water-to-coolant content.  He also suggested changing the oil to a heavier grade.  I will make these changes this weekend and see if it helps.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rocket is Singing the Blues

We had a small group ride yesterday, slower than usual as one of the riders, Geezer, wanted to take charge and make us run slower than usual.  So we ran slow.  Boring.

We rode around the Florida side of the St. Mary's river to US1, then north to Folkston, Georgia, to Woodbine then to Ship 2 Shore for lunch between Kingsland and St. Marys.  

Rocket ran great on the entire run until we headed south.  Russ was in a hurry to get back so we all decided to ride down I-95 the thirty five miles home.  It was running great, around 70 mph in the slow lane until I decided to hightail it home.  I moved over and accelerated to 77 mph while following an SUV.  After a mile or so it suddenly lost some power and dropped to 70 mph.  I was still five miles from an exit so I moved over, was joined again by the others and got off at Pecan Park Road.  When I came to a stop the oil light came on for five seconds or so and the radiator fan was running.  After letting it cool for a minute or two, I headed home off the interstate highway and it ran great on the slower roads.  I got back on 95 for the last couple of miles to see Boris in the warehouse and it ran great but I didn't try to go faster than around 70.

Boris had no answers and was to send an inquiry to Robot at Scooterwest.  Hopefully we will know something soon.

Rocket has done that one, maybe two other times two weeks ago.  The first one corresponded with a blown exhaust gasket that I thought caused the power loss.  The second was returning on that same ride.  The oil and filter are new and topped off.  The radiator fluid is topped off too.  

The ride started easy enough.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Suellen's photos of riding through Banff

I ran across Suellen's photos in Facebook yesterday and thought some were fantastic.  It is hard to believe that we rode through this wonderful place.

Monday, July 14, 2014

7BSC Ride to Gainesville

Yesterday, Russ, Tom and I rode to Gainesville to have lunch at the Reggae Shack.  Adam met us there for lunch, then rode with us to Lake City and returned home to Alachua.

I selected the route, through some of my favorite roads in the area.  We had lots of time, leaving Fleming Island at 9:00 with the restaurant not opening until 11:00, so we took the long way.  We went south to Penney Farms, then over on 16 to 21.  From there we turned south on 315C and 214 and 219 to Melrose.  From there south to Micanopy through Windsor and Rochelle.  

From Micanopy, it was 441 north through Paynes Prairie, under the DNA bridge to Reggae Shack.  

Heading home, I wanted to try Price Creek Road, 245, from south to north.  It was not nearly as nice as from north to south, but still good.  Then 90 back to Jacksonville. 

It was a very nice ride, especially because we missed the rain entirely.
Approaching Penney Farms from the north

On 16 near Penney Farms

On 16 near Penney Farms


                                                          The DNA bridge in Gainesville

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fireball Refinement

I have had several suggestions regarding the Fireball 500 (I have dropped Florida to keep it simple.)

One is that for the Cannonball type riders, 250 miles is insufficient.  I am looking at ways to bring it up to 300 each day.  

Then, in looking at the route.  Anyone coming from out of state will probably want to ride along the Atlantic Ocean, so I added a stretch from Ormond Beach to Crescent Beach.  It also helped to lengthen Day Two.  Right now I have Day Two at just under 300 miles, over 6 1/2 hours on Google.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Florida Fireball 500

Some people would like to try a Scooter Cannonball experience, but for one reason or another can't take time off or get to the start.

So recently, I proposed to my scooter club, 7 Bridges Scooter Club of Jacksonville, Florida, that I would like to see if we could put on a two day Cannonball like event.  

I came up with the name Florida Fireball 500 for a few reasons.  Florida because of the state I live in.  Fireball for two reasons, one is Fireball Roberts, a Florida NASCAR driver from the 1950's and 1960's who won the Daytona 500 in 1962, but died after a crash in Charlotte in 1964.  The other is to honor our own Scooter Joe, who has built a very cool Stella that has won awards in several scooter events, including Amerivespa this year.  His scooter is called the Atomic Fireball.  And 500 because it will be of a distance of approximately 500 miles over two days, and it just sounds cool.

I plan it to be like a Scooter Cannonball Run, with the same or similar handicap to be run over two days.  There will have to be checkpoints, maybe as many as 5 or 6 per day to keep everyone on the better scooter roads.  Time keeping will be done using photographs with a date and time included.

I have been fine tuning the route and ran parts of two options over the weekend that will be considered for day one.  The starting location shall be the Scooter Warehouse in the Brooklyn/Riverside area of Jacksonville.  Day one route shall include St. George, Georgia, Osceola National Forest, Lake City, Fort White, Mayo, Steinhatchee and end in Cedar Key where we will spend the night.  We have been riding some of these roads over the past five years.  I was pleased with what I saw on Saturday.

Day two will make its way back to the Warehouse by way of State Road 13 and the best other roads I can come up with between there and Cedar Key.

I also want to allow group rides for those not wanting the intensity of the Cannonball type run.  That should be a shorter ride from the warehouse to Cedar Key, so everyone can arrive in time for a late lunch and socializing in the afternoon and evening.

It might work.  We will see if we can get some interest

North Florida roads are better than you might think

Steinhatchee from the bridge

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vespa Exhaust Gaskets

On the ride to Sneakers on Tuesday, I heard the telltale exhaust leak sound coming from the union between the header and the rear of the exhaust on Rocket.  

I had changed the gasket after day one of the Cannonball in Vanderhoof, B.C.  Matt loaned me his spreader so I could get a clean installation because, without the spreader you have to force the gasket into the exhaust pipe, often fracturing the end in forcing it in.  With the spreader, it slides in easily.

So, on the way to eat, we passed Harbor Freight, where I know that they have the spreader.  I broke off from the ride, went inside and bought one.  I then took the fast roads to Sneakers and still beat the group ride.

Yesterday, after work, I removed the exhaust and found the gasket in good condition, just slipped out a little.  I carefully removed it, spread the opening, reinserted it reversed from before and reassembled the exhaust on the scooter.

Then cranked it up and all was good again.  It should hold up for a while, but I have the tools under the seat and can change this anywhere.

I have done this several times already, but am getting more comfortable making my own repairs now.

Edit:  The exhaust gasket blew completely out during a 15 mile ride on I-10 on Saturday.  I let it cool while I had breakfast at Everybody's Restaurant in Baldwin, then installed a new gasket in the protection of the funeral home carport next door.  It held for the remainder of the 125 mile ride.  No more reused gaskets.