Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:1-20(NIV)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beautiful Weather

This week has been a bit on the chilly side, it being December and all, and we are expecting a hefty snowfall throughout the day tomorrow. I've been riding my scooter to work most of the week, though I rode the Sabre to a training on Tuesday. My new coverall has proven to keep me warm and comfortable, so long as I wear my polar fleece cowl. Even on the Sabre, I was unaffected by the cold.

I've seen a few other intrepid riders out there on scooters and dual sports, but few on cruisers or street bikes. We've had some warmer weather up until the last two weeks with weekends in the fifties to lower sixties. This gave riders a reason to be out enjoying the warmer weather before winter hit in force, and here it is. With the advent of winter weather, there are few of us who are still willing to be out in the cold with our two wheelers.

I'll freely admit that I will not be riding to work tomorrow morning. I will be firmly entrenched in my wife's Rav4 with traction control, appreciating the heat and the security of four wheels firmly planted on the ground and a protective cage around me.

Of course, if I had a dual sport with knobbies (and could actually mount one), I'd probably be tempted to ride it tomorrow, but, I don't, and I've not completely departed from my good sense, so the SUV will have to suffice.

The scooter and the sabre are both happily ensconced in their covers, with the scooter sitting in the lea of the house so as to be out of the wind. Perhaps I will find them coated with snow in the morning, sleeping peacefully...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stayin' warm

This has been an interesting week. On Wednesday, I woke up with a splitting sinus headache. I made it to work, borrowing my wife's car, and by the end of the am shift, I was glad I had. I was feeling aches in all my muscles and joints and had horrible chills. When I arrived at home and took my temperature it registered 103.3. So, I spent the rest of the morning in bed. Even after drinking, taking some Tylenol, and eating some jello, the fever would not diminish, so my wife took me to the Dr., where I was told to go to bed, drink a lot of liquid, take some Tylenol, and eat some Jello.

Great advice. So glad I went to the doctor.

Well, I felt better the next day, and feel even better now, two days later.

I got some birthday money from my mother and my coat was wearing out, so despite the fact that I couldn't really afford it, I purchased some coveralls. I was at K-Mart with my wife, and the price was right, so I got a Wall Blizzard Proof coverall. It is very warm, which is what I expected since my previous coat was of the same make.

I am very happy with it, even if it is a little bulky. For my short ride to work, I am impervious to the cold. It will be interesting to try it for a longer ride.

At the moment though, it seems to work great.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Hunting!

The day dawned with me walking down a trail into the woods in Perry County PA. It was a beautiful crisp, 15 degrees outside (Fahrenheit). Snow still clung to the hillsides, though in some places, the leaves showed through. My best friend/pastor had driven me up to his father's cabin and the three of us drove over to Tuscarora State Forest.

As I started walking down the path into the valley to take up my position against a tree, I realized I had forgotten my albuterol inhaler at home. If any of my readers are asthmatic, you will know and understand that this revelation almost always means certain doom, and like a self fulfilling prophecy, I had a whopper of an asthma attack. I began to pray for a miracle since my hunting partners were not answering their radios and I did not have the keys to the truck, nor was my home in easy driving distance. Just as I finally contacted one of my hunting partners on the radio, another pair of hunters rolled up in a big Chevy pickup, and asked if I was ok and if there was anything they could do to help. I replied that there was little they could do unless they happened to have an albuterol inhaler on them. They at first thought that they did not, but the driver of the truck had a realization and reached into the back for a bag. He produced an inhaler from the bag that had just enough albuterol in it to relieve my symptoms. I thanked them kindly and they rolled on up the hill.

You may say it was a coincidence, but I do not believe in such. It was nice to have my own little birthday miracle.

I was able to stay in the woods for several more hours, and I was glad of it. I didn't see any deer, but the experience of hunting, for me, is less about the taking of game, and more about experiencing the wonders of creation. I found a nice little creek which I plan to return to in the spring when trout season opens.

After returning home from the woods, I found an interesting ornament had been added to our tree. My wife and son then gave me my birthday presents.

Due to our current financial situation, the gifts weren't expensive, but I did get something I have wanted for quite some time; an am/fm radio that fits in my pocket. It's an authentic Sony Walkman so the sound output and quality are fantastic. I put my Nintendo DS speakers in my helmet, and went for a little birthday scoot. It was so nice to be able to listen to my favorite radio stations, though I noticed that the engine makes AM stations crackle a bit. The signal was clear, until I started the scoot, then suddenly the interference started. It's livable, and I am just glad that I can stay connected as I listen to talk radio or music or NPR, whichever I feel like at the time. The great thing is, I can still hear the ambient sounds, so I do not feel unsafe.

So, being 35 isn't starting out too badly aside from the one hiccup. I even got to share my birthday cake with the men at the group home, for which they were overjoyed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend update


Well, it's been a while since my last post here, due to multiple different factors; the first factor being Goose season and deer season. I've mentioned before that I like to hunt, and two weeks ago, my pastor and I spent two mornings out at the crack of dawn with shotguns at the ready and decoys in the field.

Our first outing brought no luck, but the day after Thanksgiving, we got some shots at a low flying flock of honkers. Unfortunately, I was so excited to have geese in range, I forgot to actually aim, and I missed all five of my shots.

The weather has been very nice for the most part, so I've been scootin' a lot, and from time to time I will take the sabre out for a spin. That's where factor #2 in not posting comes in. This past Thursday, I overshot a turn on a back road through a forested area and ended up with my back wheel in the leaves and mud on the side of the road. I was going about 10 mph, but just the same, the bike went down with my leg under it. I didn't recieve any outer injuries thanks to my protective clothing, but I pulled a few muscles and lightly bruised my left shoulder. The bike got a slight bit of rashing, but nothing terrible.

I was so sore that I was unable to go hunting on Friday as I had planned, and getting on or into a vehicle was an interesting proposition. So the scooter and the cycle have both been parked. My wife was at a ladies' retreat this weekend, giving me access to her vehicle, but getting into the driver's seat with pain in both of my thighs was a singular experience which I do not wish to repeat.

This morning, I awoke and the pain in my legs was gone. My shoulder still hurts, but that I can live with. There was a thin coating of snow and ice on everything, so I took my wife's Rav4 and left my snow covered two-wheelers where they were.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning. I shall be celebrating the end of my 35th year of life and the beginning of my 36th. My father used to tease me each year that it was "a day that would forever live in infamy," punning on the statement made so many years before on the same day of December.

But I shall once again try my hand at deer hunting. I usually go out on my birthday to give myself the treat of having a day out on my own, but tomorrow will be extra special since I get to go up to Perry County and hunt where I have never done so before.

So that is what is new in my little corner of creation. I hope to be able to report a successful hunt tomorrow and a full freezer to boot.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good News and bad news

First, the good news, Earlier this month, Pennsylvania's House Transportation Commitee approved legislation (House Bill 2070), to ban cell phone texting while operating a motor vehicle. When this will actually become law, I am uncertain.

This is good news as it has the potential to enhance safety for those of us who might otherwise be unseen by some idiot texting while they drive.

On the other hand, this is also bad news since it means one more law and one more opportunity for the commonwealth to stick their collective noses into the business of private citizens. Unfortunately, I'm convinced that this might be one of the times that legislation is necessary, but that does not mean I have to like it.

On the whole, I will admit that I will feel a little safer once this new regulation goes into effect, but then, I believe it was Ben Franklin who said:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Photographic experimentation and More barns

I had to work today, as I do every two Sundays. I love my work, and today was a shining example of why. I took my camera to work in anticipation of going barn-hunting afterward. I also took my tripod, which I recently rediscovered in a box in my basement. Since I had these tools along, I decided to let the residents at the home take a crack at some photography.

Here are two samples from the two gentlemen who showed interest.

After work, I did as I had planned and went hunting for barns. Having my tripod along allowed me better stability and more options for standing off the road since I could set it up and be less wobbly.

The first barn I came upon was one I had passed many times before, and I think I may have photographed it previously, but I wanted to get another shot of it. The chipping paint around the windows give it a sense of character.

The second had a nifty little courtyard in front with a concrete rail around it. The upper windows really caught my fancy.

The final barn I photographed today was actually a pair of buildings. They had been recently painted, but still caught my eye.

All in all, this was a great day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Old Timers and Old Barns

I love talking to folks who have lived many years. When I was a boy, one of my favorite things to do was to go upstairs to the apartment above us where lived a man named Mr. MacDonald. He would play checkers and tell me stories about the days when the decaying New England village I lived in was a bustling town, back when the paper mill was in full swing and provided housing for all its employees. The area of Woronoco where the Strathmore paper mills were used to be called "The beehive" due to the buzz of activity. There was a butcher shop, a general store, a community building which at one point was used by a small college, and all sorts of other things one would expect to find in a mill town during the early 1900's through the 1950's. Hearing his stories expanded my imagination and I could picture myself in the black and white photos he showed me.

Mr. Macdonald has been dead for 25 years now, but today, I had the pleasure of speaking to a gentleman who reminded me a lot of him, and he was telling me about his Cushman scooter. I think I can safely call him Mr. Stoltzfus without violating any privacy morees, since that name is more common than Smith in this part of the country. In any event, Mr. Stoltzfus had seen my scooter and we got to talking about motorcycles and scooters. Mr. Stoltfus has to be at least in his 80's and hearing him talk about riding his old Cushman and the Honda's and Yamaha's he'd had brought pictures to my mind, just like listening to Mr. Macdonald.

This evening, I had opportunity to go for a dusk ride. The main roads were busier than I like, but the back roads were pleasantly empty. The color of the sky was breathtaking, but unfortunately my photographs don't do it justice.

I saw several old barns, most of which were on the main road, so I was uncomfortable with stopping to photograph them, but one was off the beaten path and I was able to get a few nice shots of it. There were Alpacas in a fenced area adjacent to it and they seemed very interested in what I was doing.

It's been a nice autumn for riding. The weather is cooling some, especially in the evenings, but it has been better riding weather than I expected so far.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Suited up for cold weather.

I am not an ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) rider, but I wear what I can to protect myself while riding.

With winter on our doorstep, there are other protections to consider, aside from crash protection. While a crash is a possibility, frostbite from improper wind protection is a near certainty. So, wearing appropriate gear for the weather is a must.

For those among you who have ridden for many years, you are aware that leather provides excellent protection from the elements. Since I am not able to afford an expensive leather jacket (there's no such thing as a cheap one), I settle for my heavy canvas coat (pictured). This, coupled with my windshield, protects my torso from the wind.

It is also important to wear appropriate leg and crotch protection. Experienced riders will be nodding their heads at the mention of the latter. Even with the full fairing on the scooter, I found I was doubling up on jeans or wearing longjohns so that my knees would not get so cold. This also helped protect my...uh...inner thighs from freezing as well. On a scooter, even when your legs are only slightly apart, the wind channels right in between them, and it becomes quite chilly down under. A suggestion I've heard given by an experienced rider was to forget chaps since they only protect your legs. Instead, he suggested a pair of worker's winter coveralls. The thick canvas helps block the wind and keeps everything underneath nice and toasty.

During the summer, I may periodically wear my half helmet or 3/4 due to the heat, but I am very thankful that I was able to get a full helmet when I purchased the Sabre. By itself, it's good to about 40 degrees (fahrenheit), but with my fleece cowl underneathe (pictured on right shoulder of coat), it's basically blizzard proof.

My mother was kind enough to buy me a pair of heavy work boots when I was in Massachusetts in October. They don't have armor on them, but I am confident that the sides of the ankles will be superior protection to what I would recieve if I were wearing sneakers. The toes are lined, so I do not feel the cold through them. It also helps that they are waterproof, meaning no more soggy toes after a rain ride.

The last piece of gear is gloves. I have two pairs that I wear. The first is my Joe rocket waterproof gloves. They are only good to about 40 degrees, so I have a pair of suede leather driving gloves that do well to about 20 degrees. An older rider made the suggestion of wearing a pair of lady's gloves underneath as a liner. I haven't tried that yet, but it follows the good sense of layering.

This is what I do for the colder months and it works well for my short commute to work (four miles). I generally avoid pleasure riding in the cold since cold weather riding just isn't all that pleasant once your fingers, toes, and other things...start to fall off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Biodiesel boondoggle

I'm not certain I can write this without screaming my head off. Lucky for you, you can't hear screaming through text.

Let me start off by stating that I am all for taking care of my little corner of the universe. I don't litter, I drive economically sensible vehicles (my scooter and motorcycle are my primary transportation), I'm careful to dispose of used motor oil properly when I change my vehicles' oil, I turn off my lights and electronics when they are not in use, and so on.

I can see the point in trying to find renewable sources of energy. It makes a lot of sense to me, but from a cost perspective since I don't subscribe to the idea of global warming. I remember hearing from many of the earthy-crunchy types that bio-diesel was supposed to be this wonderful cure for hydrocarbon consumption. Several folks made their own Fry-oil using Volkswagons, and just last year, the biodiesel consuming Jetta was proclaimed "green Vehicle of the year"

But wait, Biodiesel is made from, among other things, the oil of the oil palm. Where does the oil palm grow? It grows in warm climates in places such as Indonesia. So, now we have the green movement up in arms because millions of acres of rainforest have been leveled to plant oil palm plantations.

The destruction of the rain forest means loss of habitat for all the little critters the greenies want to protect.

The whole thing is morbidly hilarious. First biodiesel is the most wonderful thing in the world, but now, it's horrible, and the greenies brought this upon themselves!

Perhaps clean drilling for good old fashioned dino oil isn't so bad after all?

I'll stick to my scooter and motorbike, thanks just the same.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The American Family...

In these United States, we have a unique idea of family.

When my wife and I were first married, we had our first child within three weeks of our wedding. No, it wasn't a shotgun wedding, and the "child" was actually a cat. He was a black and white bi-color who chewed through phone cables and bit my toes through the blankets.

Within a week, he had a sister, and they were our kids. We lived in a small apartment in Columbia, PA, at the time, but soon moved to a single-wide trailer in Leola, PA. Madeline and Willie Nillie (those are their names), settled in with us, and within a year of our move, my wife suspected she might be pregnant with our first human child. Unfortunately, that was not to be. We lost the child, but soon gained another cat.

Frankie joined our family in 2003, and Annie came into our lives in July of 2004. Each of these cats were adopted soon after the death of a beloved relative. Frankie was a stray we found under our oil tank, and Annie came from the Humane League.

At this point we were up to four cats, but we didn't care, they were a nice addition to our family and it was comforting to come home to a cat purring on the arm of the couch, just waiting to be scratched under the chin. and at least one other rubbing on our ankles.

In September of 2004, our lives changed dramatically when we took a foster child into our home. Luis was adopted in 2006, and we are very proud of him. But with the adoption of one child, we soon had another in our family.

In August of 2007, Luis came home with a little ball of fur in his hands. A pair of kittens of no more than two weeks old had been abandoned on a neighbor's farm, and we inherited the calico. After two sleepless nights, she finally took to bottle-feeding. Her "mother" was a heat pack wrapped in a tea towel. Lizzie soon grew to be as playful as any kitten will be, and was welcomed as our fifth cat.

Then, insanity truly set in. We went to the Humane League, "just to look" and came home with our sixth cat last winter. Jo-Jo made himself at home and regularly sleeps on our bed with us at night.

For those of us who have them, pets are an integral part of our homes and families. We share our lives with them and they return our affection (at least the warm blooded ones do). Certainly, they are not the same as the human members of our families, but they are family just the same.

I watched "Marley and Me" with my son tonight and this seemed to be the overall theme of the film. Dogs and cats affect us in ways that we cannot easily put into words. Even if we sometimes find their behaviors annoying, they are a part of our lives and we love them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chilly days are upon us

But I'm still riding, are you?

This morning when I went out to my scooter, it was covered by a thick layer of frost. Thankfully my windshield is low enough that its height does not require it to be defrosted.

My ride in to work this morning was very cold and the scooter was a bit hesitant at first. After warming up for a bit, she did just fine.

I went out on the Sabre after I arrived at home and while it was brisk, it was very enjoyable. The leaves have all turned and many are no longer on the trees. It was all I could do to restrain myself from blasting through the piles of leaves on the roadside.

Winter will soon be here. It is shaping up to be long and cold.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Autumn doldrums

First off, I would like to apologize to my readers for not posting in a while. With my wife's illness I had retreated into a bit of a personal funk. It has been hard for me to do anything due to feelings of depression and outright hopelessness.

I have been riding though, and from time to time I still stop to take a picture of the scoot. The bushes in the photo above were so stunning I could not help myself.

I'm a little irritated that this picture didn't come out so well. The sky behind me was striking, but I think I should have turned off the scoot to eliminate mirror vibration prior to taking the pic.

To add more to my busy life, the home I work for moved to a new facility on Tuesday. The gentlemen in the home seem to be settling in, but it has been stressful for all of the staff, myself included.

I'm still waiting for a call from the local Honda dealer about the Elite 11o. They are running into issues with PennDOT since the scoots are apparently made in China and have an "L" vin. I've read conflicting reports about the quality of the scoots from different sources. I'm itching to see one for myself so I can make my own assessment.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ups and downs

Well...It's been a busy, and difficult couple weeks.

My wife has been in the hospital with a serious illness.

My son and I went north to Massachusetts so my family could help me through a bout of depression due to my wife's illness, this time in my wife's car since it was too cold to travel all that far with him on the back of the Sabre. We had a fairly good weekend, and it was nice to see my mom and family again.

We returned home, and I worked three days in a row, alternatively riding the Sabre or driving my wife's car.

I finally rode the scoot again last night after replacing the windshield. I did decide to go with another Slipstreamer Scoot 30. The price was right, and it would have cost about $30.00 more to buy a Kymco specific shield.

With the new windshied, I finally felt comfortable riding the scoot again. Today, I rode the scoot to Friendship Community's annual banquet. I parked it in front of Yoder's Restaurant so the scoot would be out of the wind. Nobody seemed to mind my parking it on the sidewalk next to a soda machine, and I checked with an employee just to make sure it was ok, and they thought nothing of it.

The banquet was nice enough, though the speech was a bit long. The keynote speaker was Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzel company. The speech was good enough I suppose, but I'm not a big fan of speeches anyway.

After the banquet, I followed the house van back to the group home (I'd taken the scooter since the van was full), and it started to rain. Unfortunately, I had not had the foresight to wear my rain gear, so my jacket got a bit damp. It wasn't too bad, but when I was ready to go home, it began to pour. I think I shall start making it a practice to keep my rain gear with me every time it's even a little cloudy. I must say that I was very thankful to have a new windshield. It kept me from getting completely soaked before I got home.

Windshields certainly make a difference. Acceleration and handling are greatly improved. Now all I need is a new basket for the back of the scoot and I'll be set.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No more floppy mirrors

After my scooter's most recent wind experience (being blown over), the piece of metal that holds the left back-plate / mirror mount in place had snapped off. I'm not sure how, since it's a bit more than a 1/4 inch thick and round, but I suppose with enough force and the repeated times which the wind has blown the scooter over, it was inevitable.

I purchased a replacement back-plate and attempted to remove the old one. I had to remove several screws to loosen the headlight cowl so I could get at the screws on the old back plate. It took a while, but I finally got the cowl loosened. Kymco doesn't make it easy to get the plastics off their scooters.

To top it off, the handgrip was well and truly stuck to the handlebar. It took quite a bit of cajoling to convince the handgrip to slide off, but eventually I did. I slid the old back plate off as well (which you can see from the picture was somewhat scuffed from flopping around), and slid the new one on.

I replaced the handgrip, screwed in the mirror, and voila! The scoot is ready to ride again.

I'll take a little ride this afternoon since I have some errands to run. I'm looking forward to it.

All I need now to be prepared for the winter is another windshield (the old one cracked in the last fall). I've been looking at my options and while another slipstreamer scoot 30 would be ok, I'd really like something a little more sleek looking.

For the moment, I'm just relieved my mirror won't flop around while I'm riding down the road.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another SH-150i review

The November issue of Motorcyclist magazine has a review of the Honda SH-150i. I was unsurprised to find that the article is not mentioned on the cover, and was also unsurprised at their evaluation of the SH-150i in the little "They Say, We say" blurb set into the title photo which states: "They say: 'So hip, so smart, so Honda. We say: True, but it's still a scooter."

Of course, this is from a motorcycling magazine with no real love for scooters. I get the impression that they cover them to keep an aura of complete reporting.

Personally, I have a soft spot in my heart for scooters, but I'm willing to accede to the fact that not all folks share my particular vantage point, and that's quite alright.

Despite their obvious bent toward manual transmissions, they did a rather complete and accurate assessment of the SH-150i, mostly inline with my own. They did state that the SH-150i is "reasonably priced" and I still am not sure I agree with that. While it is probably the nicest big wheel 150 I've ridden, I'm not 100% certain it is worth dropping that much cabbage on. Is it worth the money? I think so, yes, due to its high quality; however, it is the highest priced of the big wheel 150's that I have looked at. Considering that the MSRP on a Piaggio BV-250 is only $400 more for comparable quality with a bigger (highway capable) engine, the merit of the statement "reasonably priced" rests with the individual buyer.

It's interesting to note though that this review concurs with my own (and all the others I've seen), that the SH-150i is an impressive scooter.

I can't wait to see the new Elite 110!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Autumn riding

There is nothing like riding on an autumn morning. The crisp air and the fall colors refresh the soul. Lancaster county is beautiful this time of year. The pumpkins and winter squash are just coming in, and the corn has all turned brown.

In this part of the county, the land is mostly flat, with lots of farms and few trees. What trees there are, have just started to turn colors.

There is quite a bit of wind, which makes riding the scooter just a little dicey. When the wind is at its peak, I've been riding the Sabre. With its heavy steel frame, the Honda doesn't even budge even when the gusts would blow the scoot off the road.

Of course, that has given me an opportunity for autumn riding when I would normally be staying home. As flat as the land is around here, the wind whips through with no impediment. It makes riding the scooter like holding onto a wild bull.

Either way, regardless of whether I'm riding the scooter or the motorcycle, the briskness of autumn riding is something I truly enjoy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kymco strikes again!

Ok, if Jerry at ScootLancaster can be Vespa-centric, I can be Honda and Kymco-Centric.

While browsing through the Urbanscootin' forums, I came across a thread started by the poster known as Metronid, with a link to an article regarding upcoming changes to the Kymco lineup.

There has been some buzz about these upcoming scooters for some time in the scooter-blogosphere, but this information is a little more up to date than what I had seen before.

They give some good information on the Downtown 300i, but nothing on the Like 200. It will be interesting to see whether the Like 200 is a true 200 or just another 150-180cc branded falsely as a 200. I'd really like to see a 19hp+ scooter with a 199cc+ engine. That might be hoping for too much.

If the Yager 200i is any indication, the Like 200, may still miss that mark. The Yager 200i has only a 174.5cc powerplant...which is still better than the People S 200's 163cc's, but is not truly a 200cc. At 16hp, it's just barely highway capable, which is impressive by itself, but something bearing the 200cc moniker should have an engine that at least approaches 200cc. Call me a perfectionist if you like.

Unfortunately, I could not find more information on the web about the Like 200 (or 200i perhaps), so I called Kymco USA directly and spoke to one of their representatives. Unfortunately, again, she had no information on the Like 200, but refered me to Kymco's main website (which had no info), and their marketing department (whom I emailed).

So, for now, I shall have to content myself with secondhand information, which is rather frustrating.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Safe return

The sky looked grim this morning. I arose from the depths of my mother's basement and looked out upon cloudy heavens, but no rain. Just in case, I donned my rain gear, said my goodbyes, and mounted the Sabre.

About 10:00, I was cruising through Connecticut and the sun made its glorious appearance. I stopped to remove my rain suit along a dam on route 318 (I think), popped it into one of my bags and hopped back on the bike. I hopped over to route 8, and eventually made my way to I-84 West. I chanced upon a pair of riders heading in the same direction and fell into formation with them. The leader was riding some sort of custom chopper and the second gentleman was on a smaller bike. I didn't get an opportunity to get a good look at either bike though. They kept to a moderate speed, which was very nice, since I did not have to fight the wind as much.

They turned off onto US-7, and I continued on to I-684. I went down the Sawmill Parkway to I-287, then over the Tappan-Zee bridge. Despite the signs on either side stating "No stopping on bridge," some numb-nut decided to stop to look at the boats, nearly causing an accident.

The trip through New Jersey was uneventful, though not being allowed to pump my own gas was highly irritating.

I arrived in PA at about 2:00 and all was going well until Kutztown. Suddenly there was a knot of traffic up ahead, so I tapped my rear brake several times to alert the drivers behind, and slowed down as I neared the stopped vehicles.

It turns out that a rider on what appeared to have been a Triumph Speed Triple (from what remained of the bike), had been weaving in an out between other vehicles when an annoyed cager slammed on his/her brakes. The rider swerved, lost control, and was disconnected from his bike which did several graceless cartwheels down the road. The rider survived with what appeared to have been only a few scratches, though he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance just to be safe. The bike was not so lucky. I wanted to get a picture, but did not wish to have an accident myself, or annoy the emergency crew that showed up.

When I arrived in East Pete, the road into town was blocked off due to another motorcycle accident. Apparently, the rider took the turn at the corner of Graystone road a little too fast and lost control of his bike. He was not as fortunate as the rider in the earlier accident. An eye witness reported to me that this rider's leg was almost entirely severed.

I, on the other hand, have returned home safely and without incident. My second trip to Massachusetts on two wheels was a success, and I look forward to another trip in the Spring.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Old bikes...Old memories

Yesterday I visited my old school. I attended Pioneer Valley Christian School in Springfield Massachusetts from fifth grade through graduation from High School. They recently completed a new wing and while some of the building was familiar to me, there were many differences, almost to the point where I felt quite out of place.

I saw the three teachers who had the greatest memorable impact on my development into an adult.

The first was my science teacher, who taught me to explore the world and not be afraid to ask questions, even if they go against the mainstream. I learned from him that science, and life, should be approached with an open mind.

The second teacher has taught French at PVCS since 1989. I greeted her in French and carried on for a few minutes until she could apparently tell by my expression that I was starting to run dry. But I learned from her that while it is great to be an American, we ignore the rest of the world at our own folly and knowing a second language opens up new doors and opportunities that one would otherwise never realize.

The third teacher (Mr. W) was my sixth grade teacher, though he now serves in a more general role in the middle school. He taught me that it is O.K. to be a little different from everyone else and that we each must forge our own path using the gifts and talents granted by the Almighty.

All of the teachers at PVCS had an impact on my life, and I do not wish to diminish that in any way, but these three are the ones I can look back on and see that I learned more than mere accademics from them.

While I was talking to Mr. W, he wanted to see my bike, so we went out to the parking lot and he stopped abruptly as the bike came into view, grabbed my arm and exclaimed; "Is that a Sabre v45!" I confirmed that it was indeed, and he went on to say how that was his favorite bike of all the bikes he had ever owned (I hear that a lot from folks who've owned Sabres of that era). I let him start it up and rev the engine a little, and he closed his eyes in bliss.

So, while I took a trip down memory lane, I gave one of my mentors an opportunity for the same.

It's all good!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy trails...

To me!

Yesterday, I left from home for a weekend trip to visit my mother in Massachusetts. The trip took a little longer than expected since I decided to avoid Danbury CT since I would hit it at about rush-hour. Since I was starting to tire a little, I thought it prudent to avoid that particular adventure.

I stopped to eat at the Milford Diner in Milford PA, and had a Cheeseburger with Fries. That's something that seems especially good at diners for some reason. Sure, I could have stopped at a McDonald's and ordered the "same thing," but a McDonald's hamburger and a diner burger shouldn't even occupy the same sentence.

The trip was uneventful, even with my wonky speedometer. I kept to a reasonable spead, using my tach as a guide since the speedo itself is funky.

It was a cold ride, and today is a bit better. The overcast made it somewhat challenging. A windshield is on the top of my list for the Sabre since it's brutal to ride in the cold with no shield. All in good time.

I found Wi-Fi at the Westfield Athenaum (fancy word for library with museums attached), since I tried without success to find a connection for free elsewhere. I did stop at a McDonald's in Holyoke Mass., thinking I could get Wi-Fi there, only to find that they have it, but want to charge $3.00 to use it for two hours. I like free. I'll gladly admit that I am cheap.

So, time to check my e-mail and the status of my cities in Evony, then off I go.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dizzyness...and idiocy...

I'm ashamed to admit it...I am an idiot...

Well...I did something stupid at least.

Let me start with my disappointment of the day. I am laying in bed, unable to rise due to dizziness. This means, that despite the nice weather outside this afternoon, I'm not out in it. This is frustrating of course. It's scary enough when I ride under normal conditions, but with these intermittent dizzy spells, I dare not.

Ok, that is out of the way...on to my stupidity...

Unfortunately...I have no video...probably a good thing...


On Friday, my best friend wanted to hang out, so he said, "I need to head out to Kerper's Gun Shop to pick up my rifle that I just had a new scope put on. Why don't we put your scooter on the back of my truck so you can just ride back from there."

So problem...except that I decided to ride it up the ramp instead of simply pushing it up...

I started out with a good running start, got about halfway up the ramp, and I didn't give it enough throttle...and we went down, the Streak and I.

Yeah, I know, I should have gotten video...

Thankfully, I am fine, and I have learned my lesson. When loading a cycle on a truck, push, don't ride.

The scooter suffered a broken lens to the rear left turn signal, and the top case mount broke. So, I need to replace my topcase (probably with a basket), and the lens will run $17.00. An expensive lesson. Otherwise, the scoot runs great and the bulb for the turn signal still functions.

So, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I'm sure this will be amusing reading for some of you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big Bike, Little Bike - Take 2

Over the last few days, I have had several opportunities to use either my scooter or my cycle.

On Sunday, after church, I took my son to ride his dirt bike, then after we returned home, we took a ride on Natasha.

We wandered around a few roads that I had never before explored with him, though I'd ridden on them by myself. The Honda performed very well, and I found myself settling in to the process of shifting more and more. It's really not too far removed from shifting a manual tranny in a car, just moved around a bit.

After riding around the county, we came home and then took a ride on the Silver Streak. We didn't go quite as far as we had on Natasha, but one thing was readily apparent. My son, all 75 lbs of him, doesn't feel like much of a burden on the Honda, but on the Kymco, every little move he makes seems to throw the bike off course. I hardly noticed it before, but now, after riding the bigger bike, it's very obvious. The Kymco is such a light scooter that it responds to every movement of its riders. In away, it's agility works against it when riding two-up.

I rode the Honda to get it inspected on Monday. It has an issue with the speedometer, which the mechanic stated he had run into before when the magnets inside the sensor got gummed up. We had some trouble getting the assembly apart, so we were unable to clean it out entirely. A project for another day. But everything else checked out and I have a nice green sticker on the bike, declaring me good for another year.

I rode the bike over to WalMart to check out some motorcycle covers. $20.00 for a motorcycle cover sounds good on the surface, but I hesitate to plunk down cash on something that may only last a year. I also looked at their full face helmets. They have some for $90.00, but they are some off brand and are only DOT approved. I need to get an FF helmet before winter since my 3/4 helmet is starting to wear out (It wasn't that great to begin with), but again, I do not wish to be stuck with an uncomfortable helmet that will perhaps last a year.

I didn't purchase either item since I did not have my scooter with the more capacious carrying abilities. In a way, going shopping while riding the cycle might prove a good way to save money, at least until I get a back rack and some side bags.

This morning when I left for work, I took the scoot. I was glad I did since its nimble handling and light weight kept me from plowing into a car that pulled out right in front of me, crossing to the far lane on the opposing side of the street. The driver had not even looked to his left before pulling out and glared at me when I leaned on the horn as if I were to blame for his incompetence. Of course, he was driving a Mercedes and I was only riding a lowly Taiwanese scooter. At least I could have had the decency to ride a Vespa. The nerve of some people. **insert sarcastic eye roll here**

I left work at around 9 am and reveled in the agility of my scooter as I puttered along toward home. At about 1:00, I recieved a call from the nurse at my son's school stating that he was ill and needed to go home, so I strapped his helmet to the little sissy bar on the back of the sabre and went to pick him up. After settling him in at home with some juice to drink and a blanket over top to keep him warm, I hopped back on the Sabre, since it was warmed up anyway, and rode to work. It may not be nimble and spritely, but the rumble of the engine and the visceral feeling of all those horses pounding the pavement beneath me was invigorating. Strangely enough, I arrived a work a little earlier than expected.

This evening's ride home was equally enjoyable, and thankfully, filled with none of the excitement of my earlier ride on the scooter this morning.

I am really not certain how that would have turned out on the bigger bike. I didn't have room to counter steer and my only options were to modulate the brakes or lay the scooter down. Thankfully, the braking worked and I did not lock either wheel. I was going slowly enough, having just crossed an intersection, that I did not have a tremendous amount of momentum, but I ended up within about three feet of the other vehicle's side panels. Looking back on it, I am thankful to the Almighty that He was watching over me.

So, my earlier impressions have held true. The two machines, though similar, are very different, with their own unique charms and disadvantages. I think, on the whole, while the power of the bigger bike is intoxicating, after my morning experience, I'm inclined to say I prefer the smaller vehicle, simply for it's lightfootedness...if that's a word.

The scooter is whimsical and fun, while the motorcycle is more serious and earthy. It's so nice to have both.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

East Pete Day 2009 report

Well, today was the annual East Petersburg Day festival. East Petersburg, the town I reside in, is a small borough in Lancaster County, PA. It's a small town, which means there is that small town charm which comes out at festivals such as today's.

I met Gerry From Scoot Lancaster at the Prince Street Garage in Lancaster this morning. We rode in to East Pete and parked our scooters along the edge of Pine Street. We watched the parade from Broad street, then wandered down to the basketball court where a group of folks with Ruckii had shown up. There was also a nicely painted turquoise met and a silver Vino.

Soon, a gentleman on a Harley chopper showed up as well. I decided to show my Honda since it is technically a classic. I cleaned it up a little bit, then ran it over to the show area on the basketball court. After paying my entry fee, I parked my cycle and wandered up onto the festival grounds in the park. My wife and I enjoyed some fair food. She had a funnel cake and I had a Sausage sandwich from the Lions club's stand. I also had some fried oreos and we wandered around to look at the various stands.

All in all, it was a beautiful day for it. The sun was shining and there was no cloud in the sky. My wife left for a hair appointment and I laid in the grass and took a nap in the shade. I haven't done that in years and it was quite refreshing.

Around 2:30 or so, I found my son in the crowd and we went for a short ride before returning home.

Tonight, there was a fireworks display to finish off the day. It was simple, but nice just the same. Since my home is not far from the park, we were able to watch the display from our back porch.

I'm looking forward to next year's event. I'm thinking I will work on trying to put a coinciding scooter event together a bit earlier so as to avoid the last minute rush.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Big Bike, Little Bike

I spent much of the day riding my new bike. I started off the day by running to Leola to visit my doctor due to some odd health symptoms I have been experiencing. I took my son with me since he was home sick from school and I wanted him to get checked out too.

We passed my buddy as he was taking my scooter back to my house on the back of his truck. He dropped it off and went his merry way, forgetting to drop off the key (important piece of the day's story).

We arrived in Leola, and waited a while for the doctor. We had our appointments, and the Dr. diagnosed me with possible vertigo and ordered bloodwork to check for sugar issues. I found the Vertigo diagnosis a little odd, since I get nauseous, then dizzy, not the other way around, but I think he may have just been shooting for a temporary answer. Funny thing is, when I went to the pharmacy later to get my medication, I received the following pill bottle, with the following warnings:

Pay closest attention to the bottom sticker. Isn't that just a little counter-productive?

In any event, I took my son home, and was going to take my scooter to the store to pick up the aforementioned prescription. I noted that my key was nowhere to be found, so I called my best friend to ask him where he put which he responded, "guess what I found in my pocket?"

So, I rode to Terre Hill to get the scooter's key, and wandered around a bit on my way home.

Later this evening, I finally had an opportunity to ride the scoot again. I needed to fill it up with gas so it would have enough to make it through the day's events tomorrow, should my plans go through.

Upon starting out on the scoot, I was amazed at the fact that I felt as if I were floating on air. The scooter is so nimble and light, it hardly felt like it was beneath me. The acceleration on the scooter is seamless and smooth, and it seems to jump right out onto the road.

The motorbike, on the other hand, feels very much alive and present beneath me when I ride it. Rather than flying, I feel a true connection to the road. Due to the manual transmission, acceleration, is not seamless and smooth, but rather visceral and aggressive.

The difference between the two vehicles is drastic, and I am glad I chose to keep the scooter instead of replacing it with a big bike.

The Kymco is perfectly suited to suburban and urban commuting and errand running, while the Honda seems most at home eating up the miles on long rides. I find myself feeling relieved that I chose to go with both a motorbike and a scooter rather than one or the other. Having both gives me the versatility to handle all sorts of different riding situations. It's really quite nice actually.

If you were to ask me which of the two machines is my favorite, I'd have to say that it's too soon to tell. I still feel more at home on the scooter, but the motorcycle is growing on me at a rapid pace. 80 horsepower certainly has an alure all its own.

Change in time for East Pete Day ride!

Ok, New plan! After thinking about it, and reading Lee's post about the road closure, I'd like to start a little earlier. I will be at the East Pete Garage in Lancaster, in the scooter parking area, at 8:30 am. I will leave from there promptly at 9:00am. I am trying to get us into the parade if we can, so if we are there by 9:30 am, it is completely possible that we might be able to join in.

East Pete is a small enough town that I think they should be flexible with us.

So, here is the info again:
Meet at: Prince Street Garage in Lancaster, PA (corner of Prince and Orange Streets)
Time: 8:30 am
Departure: 9:00am prompt
Ride to: East Petersburg Day Parade staging area (tentative)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

East Petersburg Day Events

I was contacted by the East Petersburg Day organizers with the website address for the event.

I will be at the scooter parking area of the Prince street garage in Lancaster at 8:30 am. If anyone wants to meet me there for a ride to East Pete, I'll be there on my scooter. We can take a meandering ride to the park in East Pete. I will leave from the garage at 10am prompt.

I know it's a bit short notice, but if anyone would like to come out, it would be fun to show off our scooters.

**This ride will be 50cc friendly**

BIg change, but not so much

Well...I did it.

Today I crossed the great divide.

I am now the proud owner of a Honda Sabre V45. It is a 750cc V4 with a liquid cooled engine and a shaft drive. The previous owner is a motorcycle mechanic and it is in very good condition for its age.

I was uncertain whether I wanted anything with so large an engine, but with the prospects I had and the bikes I looked at, thise seemed the best one of the lot in my price range.

See, I sold my car. I didn't want to, but I ended up having no choice in order to make ends meet and have some liquid assets to work with for various unexpected expenses. So, I took the plunge and used part of the car sale proceeds to buy a motorcycle to sit next to the Silver Streak.

I rode Natasha (that is the new bike's name...perhaps I should rename the scooter Boris...), for several hours and after getting used to the clutch and tranny (that was an interesting adaptation for me, but I got it and feel mostly competent at this point), I found that the bike is much more comfortable to ride for long periods, yet is not as easy for cornering due to its size and wheel base, but it is the exact type of bike that I wanted in that it is a street bike with a shaft drive and liquid cooling.

My best friend helped me get it from the cycle shop (JR's Cycle in Ephrata), and we loaded it on his truck so I could start out in our church's parking lot.

In related news, I talked to him and the dealer who sold him his Wildfire scooter and the dealer replaced his clutch, variator, and so on with brand new ones. In effect, he has an entirely new CVT. The dealer had looked at the variator rollers and could not find any visible defect, so he simply replaced the whole assembly to be on the safe side.

He still hasn't ridden it though. After four blown belts, he's a bit nervous. I don't blame him of course.

He did ride the Silver Streak (AKA: Boris) a bit today while I was getting used to Natasha, and now he has the bug for something with a bit meatier accelleration and top speed. Who can blame him.

He'll be bringing my scoot to me tomorrow on the back of his truck and she will get plenty of use. She's much easier to ride than the motorbike. While I loved the exhilaration of the bigger bike, I still have this longing inside of me to take it slow.