Sunday, August 30, 2015

The dichotomy

Lancaster County is an interesting place. One moment, you're in a small town or city, the next you're cruising between cornfields. There exists here a dichotomy between the urban/suburban and the rural.

Riding down Main Street in East Petersburg, a bright yellow banner announces the upcoming East Pete Days carnival. Granted, East Pete is a bit of a small town, but we do seem to have more than our fair share of car dealerships. this is probably due mostly to the Manheim Auto Auction a few miles up the road.

Out of town and down the road a bit, the dichotomy continues. On one side of the road, a cornfield...

On the other side sits a modern Church building.

Riding down the road further, the modern built up areas decline, replaced by more farms. Even so, modernity creeps in. Around the edge of a barn peeks the hindquarters of a sporty red coupe.

Hidden in another barn, a dual sport motorbike sits, awaiting a rider. Another touch of modernity in a barn owned by folks I know to be conservative Mennonites.

Further on, the rural nature of the surroundings becomes more deeply evident, almost to the point of being surreal. With the encroaching sunset, an Amish farm hoves itself into view with horses in the paddock and a wagon sitting empty in the dooryard. The scoot seems to intrude on these surroundings with the putt-putt sounding across the fields, so it seems time to move on.

More fields and farms pass by, with the occasional shop or factory. Modern churches, one room school houses, modern homes, Amish homes, shops and more farms buzz past. In the rear mirrors, a pair of Harley baggers close in. A twist of throttle and they disappear as the PCX carves its way around corners out of farmland and into suburbia, then back into farmland. A short stop is made to take in the scenery and the Harleys rumble past in a cacophony of exhaust noise.

After the brief rest, it was time to head back toward home. There are roads in this area that wind and bend like a snake with gastritis. Many of these are close to home, and follow creeks and rivers. It didn't take long before the scoot was humming along around bends and the PCX started to really make sense. The short wheel base and maxi-scoot wheels make it carve corners like a bigger sport bike. It's heavier than the Kymco and at first seemed a bit daunting, but after over two weeks getting used to it, it seems very balanced and nimble. Back into town, the PCX seemed to want to go further, but a long day was coming to an end and it was getting toward time to retire.

Lancaster County is a beautiful place to live, work, drive and ride. The dichotomy rural and populous areas makes it a little slice of heaven made just a little better on the back of a scooter.

Friday, August 28, 2015

"'Scuse me while I kiss the sky..."

The scooter has been named:

Onyx Purple Haze.

Yes, I know what purple haze is, but I like the song, and the scoot puts off a hazy purple halo on the pavement. One could even say that riding has a drug-like effect, so perhaps the name has a double meaning.

On the seat of a scooter with an open road ahead, the concerns of the greater world seem to fade away. Calm seeps in replacing feelings of anxiety and worry. The wind, the light of the sun or moon, the rain, the smells of nature, all these things and more add to the intoxicating effect of a long scooter ride.

So the name seems appropriate. It's not really a drug, sure, but the calming effect is undeniable.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The five minute project.

"Oh, this will only take about five minutes."

Two hours, three scuffed knuckles and some sore muscles later...

It seems this is the way of things when one approaches a project of any kind, be it automotive, motorcycle, home repair, etc. What at first glance we might think will take only a few minutes, turns into something much more.

False confidence can also play a part. Just a few days ago, it was a quick matter to install a Bell five plug power station on the scoot. I found it at K-mart for 8 bucks in the clearance aisle. It took only about ten minutes to add an additional circuit, with its own inline fuse and wire in the power station so electronic devices can be powered on long journeys. Works like a charm too.

So today, the "simple" project of adding more lights to the bottom of the scoot was on the docket. It was going well, but then there was a tight spot in between the frame and bodywork where wires needed to be joined and it wasn't possible to get thick fingers into the space, so the bottom side panel had to come off.

Taking the side panel off is a matter of five 10mm hex bolts, and six (I think) philip's head screws. Not a horrible task, but time consuming. there's also a little port on the left side, presumably for getting in at the valves if you're Tom Thumb.

Once the body panel was off, it was easier to get at the places the wiring would be strung, but then the wire kept breaking, so a different wire had to be substituted. Once everything was finally wired and working, it was time for the body panel to go back on, which took nearly ten minutes on its own just to get all the tabs lined up.

It should be noted that the LED's are cheap units from Amazon, and that is part of the reason they were more difficult to wire up. The leads are only about 8 inches long, so unlike the higher quality LED's installed previously, more wire was needed to reach the battery. 

After the job was finally finished, it looked pretty good. That it took over two hours to complete is irritating, but that's the way it is with a five minute project. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Night roads

August brings with it cool evenings. On evenings without rain and with cloudless skies, the riding can be phenomenal. Yes, night riding has its share of dangers, but there is nothing like carving around deserted roads with the road ahead illuminated only by the scooter's headlight.

The sky after dusk can be stunningly beautiful. Reds and yellows spread across the horizon, while deep blues spread up into the dome of the sky. Stars appear in the expanse above and the moon, when visible, glows brightly in varying hues. 

Alone on back roads, surrounded by darkness and a puttering exhaust note, the solitude is intoxicating. For some, being alone isn't appealing, but for those of us who find solitary pursuits refreshing, riding alone in the dark can truly be cathartic. 

The solitude of the lonely rider can give one time for introspection, prayer, even creative thought. It also provides an opportunity for meditation, not meditation in the far eastern sense, but rather meditation in the biblical sense; deep pensive thought on matters of faith and scripture. As the psalmist wrote: "O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." Instead of seeking some sort of otherworldly connection, this kind of meditation is a mulling over of the Word of God. 

For a person of faith, the rejuvenation of the spirit offered by being alone with God is priceless. Lancaster County offers an abundance of back roads through farmland, wooded areas, and even along rivers and lakes. This gives plenty of territory to cover for the wandering soul on a motorbike.

Sometimes, it's very good to be alone.

Time for a change...

The PCX is close to hitting 600 miles, so I did the 600 mile service. Got some oil at the Honda dealer, got my tools together and went to it. Since I've been doing how-to videos, it seemed appropriate to do an oil change tutorial. Even though this is specific to the Honda PCX-150, GY6 scooters are all similar enough that the process of changing the oil on one will be similar to the process on any other.