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Friday, September 30, 2016

Decision Made - Sort of - I Think

It has been a month since I posted so I figured I'd best write an update.....

As we researched and narrowed the field regarding bikes we noticed that the 2016 Honda CB500x seemed to tick all the boxes.  Well, ticked all but one.  It is not available with a  gear indicator, which I am used to on the Gladius.  This isn't a deal breaker though.
(2016 Honda CB500x ABS, photo credit to advpulse.com)
Earlier in September we had a week off and one day went to a Honda dealer about an hour or so away.  They had a 2016 in stock and we had every intention of taking it home that day.  Troubadour took it for a test drive and thought it was great.  Unfortunately the salesman had all the personality of a wet-blanket and it was like pulling teeth trying to engage him in conversation.  He gave us what he said was his rock bottom price, $250 off MSRP.  Unfortunately this was still $150 more than the Honda dealer in Medford, a few hours to the south of us.  Alas, the salesman would not budge even a bit.

We decide this personality/salesman did not deserve our dollars.  While we were disappointed, it gave us time to think.  This was on a Friday and we had the following week off.  We hummed and hawed and debated about driving down to Medford, the only other dealer in the State with this bike in stock.

I was reluctant to drive down just for the bike.  Would we have to trailer it home? Would one of us ride it home? Would we ride down two up on the Tiger and both ride back?

On the weekend Troubadour suggested that we drive to Southern Oregon for a hiking trip and he would take his gear just in case we decided to drop in, and if the stars aligned buy the bike.  After more discussion we decided to go ahead and do it but opted to take the Subaru as there was a nice trailer for sale down there and if he decided to purchase it, the trailer could then be hauled home, with or without a bike on it.

Monday morning we packed a small overnight bag and some snacks and headed out.  

(Corvallis, OR to Medford, OR via I-5)
We made it down to Medford by 1 pm.  We found Shinsei Sushi for lunch and they had several vegan sushi rolls and the best seaweed salad I've ever eaten. We then wandered a bit in REI.  I was looking for a hiking book on the area and they had the one I wanted.

From there we scoped out the Honda dealer. They were closed Monday but at least we knew where it was.  It was getting later in the afternoon so we thought we'd best check out somewhere to stay for the night.  Our first two dinner choices were in Ashland, which is 10 miles south of Medford and only 16 miles north of the California border.  We drove to Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  While there we looked at a few hotels online and then looked for one of the dinner places -  Blue Toba.  Closed Mondays, doh!

Notice how we haven't done any hiking yet?  I kept telling Troubadour he lured me to Medford under false pretenses to get me to check out the bike shop. He didn't deny it too hard.

We looked up our second choice restaurant, Agave, on our phones and it too was closed on Mondays.  What the hell? Does no one eat on Mondays in Southern Oregon? Back to the HappyCow app on our phones and our third choice was back in Medford so we decided to find a hotel there.

We stopped at a Best Western and they didn't have any rooms with a king bed, just one with two queen beds. I asked Troubadour if he wanted to sleep in separate beds.  Sleeping with both of us in a queen size didn't even cross my mind.  Nope sorry, look some more. We did find a Comfort Inn that was nicer than the Best Western and it had a king room. available.  We got checked in, looked at the room and decided to find dinner.  

The Siam Cafe wasn't very exciting, just your average Thai food, but with small portions. It certainly was no Woodsman, which we get at home.  At least the place was open.  By this time it was early evening so we just headed back to the hotel.

Morning dawned and we made some tea and ate our raisin bread and peanut butter for breakfast.  We checked out and headed to Starbucks for a latte.  As we were drinking our coffee we chatted about the potential bike purchase and why I had a niggling/gnawing feeling about maybe not purchasing one just yet. The trailer Troubadour was interested in was a bust.  He couldn't get anyone to call him back. So to get a new bike home we'd either have to rent a U Haul trailer, which are pretty heavy for the Subaru to haul, or Troubadour would have to ride it home.

When all was said and done I decided I would feel better selling the Gladius first.  I had just ridden it to Saturday morning coffee and it was making my right hand and forearm sore just riding the 5 miles.  At one point in time I wouldn't have dreamt of letting it go, but it is time. I just don't enjoy it anymore and the fiscally responsible thing to do is to sell it prior to purchasing a new bike.

So, we drove by the Honda shop without ever stopping in, cue facepalm. I didn't want to stop by lest I really be tempted.  As we headed further out the highway I checked out the map in the glove box.  (Yes I really used a paper map).  I noticed we were on Highway 62 heading northeast toward Diamond Lake.  Hmmmm.....Troubadour and PolarBear were headed to Diamond Lake on that Friday for the Dog Face Dual Sport Rally. (I am sure one of them will blog about it eventually)  I suggested we keep going and take the long way home, which meant we could avoid driving part of I-5 and also he could scope out the camping for Friday.

(Medford, OR to Diamond Lake, OR via Highway 62)
It was a good route to take and more than once one of us mentioned it would be a nice road on two wheels.  We arrived at Diamond Lake around lunchtime.  We parked at the lodge and decided to walk along part of the paved bicycle path that goes around the lake.  It actually took us by some of the rental cabins and through parts of the campground. Here the camera finally came out.

(Diamond Lake, Oregon)

(Diamond Lake, with a view of Mount Bailey)

(Troubadour at Diamond Lake)

(We saw a lot of ducks)

(And duck butts)

(One of the boat launches at Diamond Lake)

(Another view of the lake)

(Blooming fireweed, looking back towards the lodge)

(Diamond Lake and the boat dock/launch)

(Yet another view of Diamond Lake)
By this time we were pretty hungry so we walked back to the car, explored the lodge a bit and then ate our apples for lunch.  We had a few options for getting home and we chose Highway 138 into Roseburg then up I-5.

(Diamond Lake, OR to Corvallis, OR via Highway 138 and I-5)
We stopped at the Safeway store in Roseburg for a few bananas for dinner and finished up the final leg home.  

The following day we tidied up the Gladius, took the v-strom hand guards off as well as the Givi tail bag and plate, then gave it a good wash.  We listed it for sale but so far have had no bites.  It is getting to be the wrong time of year as we are into fall and winter is looming. Sigh.

So, now I must be patient.  If a smokin' deal came along on a bike we may well pull the trigger fiscal responsibility be damned, but if not I am happy to wait until Spring.  I still have the TW200 (when the new battery arrives next week) and can still ride the Gladius in the meantime notchy throttle and all.

- Au Revoir

" A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn." - Author Unknown
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Have You Ever Had to Make Up Your Mind?

As you might remember from previous posts, I am seriously thinking of finding a new bike.  Not necessarily brand new, but new to me.  Something a little more upright, something with a little more space between the foot pegs and seat so my knees aren't as cramped therefore making it more comfortable for longer distances.

We have been looking at several makes and models and kicking tires for a few months now.  I think we have it narrowed down to a short list of bikes...well, so far anyway. The list seems to be rather fluid and changes weekly. Here are a few that have been on the list recently.....

A used 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada in pearl white popped up on Craigslist a few weeks ago.  I immediately loved the look of the bike and started doing research.  It is essentially a Hypermotard they have added some touring features to.  

(Photo courtesy of Asphalt and Rubber - 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada)
It seemed to tick all the boxes and weighs 6 lbs less than the Gladius.  I became a little worried about the electrical issues mentioned on the Ducati forums.  2013 was the first year of the Hyperstrada.  We never made it up to Portland to check it out in person and the ad disappeared sometime in the last few days.  I am thinking someone took a chance on it.

Another bike on the short list is the Honda NC700x.  Princess Scooterpie has an NC700 and loves it. The NC700x has a little more off-road appearance in that the beak and 'frunk' (front trunk) where the fuel tank should be, are different. I am not sure it really has any changes beyond that.  There is a local dealership in the Portland area that is selling hold-over brand new 2014's for $5,000.  Pretty darn good price for  a new bike with warranty.

(Photo courtesy of Totalmotorcycle.com - 2014 Honda NC700x)
This bike seems to tick all the boxes but I do wonder if the 17" tires will do any better in the gravel than the Gladius.  (*note all three bikes in this post have 17" tires) I also wonder about getting used to the fuel filler being under the pillion seat so you always have to get off the bike to fuel it.  And if you fuel it up while it is on the side stand is it being filled all the way.......

We have thought about other bikes as well; BMW Sertao, Ducati Scrambler, Triumph Tiger 800, Suzuki V-Strom 650, Honda CB500X, KTM 690 Duke, Yamaha FJ-09..... (FYI - an FJ-09 with TKC-80 tires on it really tall)

Last Friday I was off work at noon and we drove to Sublimity to visit Power Yamaha.  They are also a Kawasaki and KTM dealer and have several hundred used bikes of all makes and models in stock.  Our intent was to ride our motorcycles there, but the weather was not cooperating. The highest we saw on the thermometer of the Fiat was 108˚F (42.2˚C). Not only did we not ride there, but the blazing sunshine made it a wee bit difficult to sit on any bikes since most were outside in direct sunlight. Those black seats get mighty hot in the sun.

I did sit on a 2016 Kawasaki Versys 650 and was pleasantly surprised. I liked the ergos and the price.  I wonder how easy it would be to maneuver when parking and/or at a standstill because of the 33 inch seat height and 476 lb wet weight.  While I wasn't flat footed I felt sure-footed even in sandals. It is 30 lbs heavier than the Gladius, but I think that is half fuel - it has almost 2 more gallons in the tank than the Gladius.

(Photo courtesy of Kawasaki.com - 2016 Kawasaki Versys 650)
Currently the dealer has the 2016 Versys 650's on for $6,999 and the LT version with color matched hard panniers and hand guards for $7,999 (both are $1,000 off MSRP).  I have never really been a fan of Kawasaki.  Not sure why, just never cared for their bikes.  Didn't really like my Ninja 650R when I had it. It always felt too top heavy to me. I guess this is why I was surprised when the Versys appeared to be a comfortable fit when I sat on it.  LINK to specs on the Versys.

At some point I know I'll need to test ride a few bikes.  I don't like test riding because I don't enjoy riding unfamiliar bikes.  The whole scenario makes me anxious, but I also don't see a way around it.  

The hardest part of bike shopping is trying to see what make and model might tick the most boxes while still prioritizing wants and needs.

I think my first priority should be an upright riding position, followed by weight/height, and lastly gravel road capability.  Oh yeah, price and insurance costs should be in there somewhere too.

So, have you ever had to make up your mind?

- Au Revoir

" The inability to make has decision has often been passed off as patience." - Author Unknown


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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

What are the dog days of summer you ask?  "The sultry part of summer supposed to occur during the period that Sirius the Dog Star rises at the same time as the sun; now often reckoned from July 3 to August 1.  A period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence."

We haven't really been doing too awfully much lately in the way of motorcycle riding or mountain bike riding.  Since early June almost every weekend has been taken up.  Sometimes with visitors from out of state, Troubadour teaching Team Oregon classes, and/or visiting with family from out of town.  I think we had one weekend in June where we had no plans and every weekend in July was booked, but August looks a little more promising.  Our first weekend off together with no prior engagement on the calendar is in the middle of August.

While Troubadour has been busy teaching, going to the Black Dog Dual Sport Rally with PolarBear, and moto-camping with his work mates, I have been holding down the fort.  Yard work, housekeeping, grocery shopping, and picking 24 pounds (10.88 kg) of blueberries.  I work a half day on Fridays, so one Friday afternoon we went out raspberry picking as well, although we only picked 10 lbs of them.  The freezer is now stocked for another year.

While I haven't been on the motorcycle much, if at all, I have been riding my bicycle to work and back a few times on the days when I don't have errands to run after work.  It is only 3 miles each way but at least it is exercise.  And because I ride on a path that parallels the Oregon State University barns and pastures, I get to say good morning to the alpacas, llamas, sheep, and cows.

Since I have no moto-content in this post, I've included some photos we've taken over the last few months, but hadn't posted.

(Looking south on the Oregon coast near Cape Perpetua)

(Oregon Coast near Cape Perpetua - early June)

(Trobairitz - Photo by Troubadour)
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And just because we haven't been on the bikes doesn't mean we haven't been to Eugene or Portland in the Fiat and eaten tasty vegan food.

(Eugenewich Sandwich at Cornbread Cafe in Eugene, Oregon - Photo by Troubadour)

(Red velvet and black forest vegan cake at Sweet Life Patisserie in Eugene, Oregon)

(Buffalo Bomber 'chicken' burger - my favorite at Veggie Grill in Beaverton)
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We purchased some new patio furniture and have been enjoying it after work.  We can see the hummingbirds while we sit.  They have been drinking out of the hosta blossoms and up above is also a feeder.

(Hummingbird visiting the hosta blooms - photo by Troubadour)
We used to have interesting wildlife out back as well.  A family of deer liked to hang out in the grass  just beyond the back fence.  

(Deer enjoying the morning sunshine)
The occasional bird of prey would stop by inside the yard too.

(Cooper's Hawk I believe - sitting on the pergola in the backyard)
I say "used to" because they've torn down the forest behind our house.  We bought our house 10 years ago and have always enjoyed the forest out back.  For the last year or so we've known the owners had applied to build a 12-house subdivision, it didn't really hit home until coming home from work one day to find the trees had all been cut down and the machines had moved in.  It felt like FernGully.

(A view of the backyard looking at the construction behind us)

( A zoomed in view - we are now exposed to a main road that was hidden by the trees)
While we don't have the critters resting near our yard, we do see deer occasionally as they walk through the construction zone.  There is still a large forested area on the other side of the busy road that they wander over to.  I sure hope people slow down for them as they cross.
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We bought a new made in Oregon Stanton sofa sectional earlier this year and it took Basil a week or two before he would go near it.  I took the following picture when we finally caught him accepting it.  He was sleeping on it this morning when I left for work.  He has adopted it now just as he did the patio furniture.  It is his mission to get cat hair everywhere.

(Basil - deciding he liked the new sectional)
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Our nephew Max turned 2 years old in March.  For his second birthday we bought him a Stryder type bike from REI.  He was supposed to receive it near his birthday, but we weren't able to actually get it to him until early July.  We met my brother, his wife, and Max in Eugene and had a picnic in the park and enjoyed a sunny afternoon.

(Max and Uncle Troubadour at Alton Baker Park in Eugene, OR)
Poor Max - his legs weren't long enough to touch the ground (the seat wouldn't go low enough) so he put his legs up on the frame and Brad pushed him around.  He was quite happy with that. My brother has since taken the seat post off and zip tied the seat to the cross bar and it works fine for him.

That about sums up our summer so far.  While the weekends in June and July have been occupied, August and September should be a little better and we hope to get out on the road bikes and dual sports more.  Fingers crossed.

- Au Revoir

" Summer has set in with its usual severity." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge


I leave you with a little tune about Dog Days........


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

One Covered Bridge and Two Gravel Roads

On Sunday afternoon, Troubadour and I decided to go for a wee pootle to get a picture of the bikes with the Wildcat Covered Bridge in Lane County.

(Corvallis to the Wildcat - Austa - Covered Bridge)
We headed south out Bellfountain Road to Coon Road.  Coon Road east to Territorial Rd and then further south to the town of Cheshire on Highway 36.  From Highway 36 we headed west to Poodle Creek Rd and then took it south to where it intersects with Highway 126 at Noti.  We took Highway 126 west past the hamlet of Walton.  A few miles before the bridge we turned right onto Wildcat Creek Rd. It was a nice little gravel road and the Gladius handled it well.

Upon arriving at the bridge we realized it was closed for repairs.  Doh!  Good thing we didn't try and get there from Highway 126.

(Wildcat Covered Bridge - built in 1925, signage down and closed for repairs)

(Proof it was the Wildcat Covered Bridge)
From the bridge we had two choices.  Do a few more miles of gravel on Old Stagecoach Road and end up at Swisshome and take Highway 36 back home, or return to highway 126 and reverse course.  Highway 126 is a very busy road and so we chose the gravel.  Narrow winding road.....how could we resist.

(Narrow winding road leading to Swisshome)
It was an awesome road.  No traffic, nicely graded gravel.  I kept it to about 2nd gear and 20-22 mph for most of it.  We encountered multiple railroad crossings and some cool railroad bridges. With low speeds and no traffic, it was easy to stop to enjoy the view and take some pictures.

(Lucy and Max having a little break)

(A beautiful gravel road through the coastal mountains)

(Troubadour taking pictures of some cool blue moths/butterflies)

(The Foxglove, aka Digitalis, grows wild in the mountains)

(As do some daisies)

(And whatever these magenta flowers were - photo by Troubadour)

(Troubadour turning around to view a railroad bridge)

(Railroad bridge over the Siuslaw River)

(All turned around.......)

(The Gladius and a railroad bridge)

(Troubadour and the road behind us)

(Max and the road up ahead)
A little further and we stopped yet again for a railroad bridge.

(Max and the road ahead)

(Cool railroad bridge)

(Lucy hanging out with the trees - railway in the background)

(Another cool railroad bridge)

(Troubadour waiting patiently as I parked and ran back real quick for the bridge pic above)

(Selfie before getting back on the bike)
We made it to Swisshome and the Highway 36 junction without incident.  We turned right and headed towards Triangle Lake and home.

At the Horton turnoff Troubadour decided to head North along a different route.  The picture below was taken at the last stop of the day by Horton.

(Lake Creek Rural Fire Department)
We stopped here and had a snack since it was around 5 pm.  We consulted the map and instead of heading back to Highway 36 we (he) chose to go over High Pass Road as a short cut to Territorial Road.  This would cut off a few miles.  The map indicated there was another gravel section on High Pass Road.

It was gravel alright.  An unmaintained one-lane road up into the mountains, switchback after switchback, sheer drop on one side.  The Gladius handled it like a champ, I am proud that I managed to do it, although I was clearly on the wrong bike for it.  With all the climbing I knew it was going to be fun going down the other side.  They didn't name it High Pass for nothing.

Twists and gravel going down, down, down; switchback after switchback.  Knees gripping the tank, wrists trying to prop me up.  At one point Troubadour suggested I stand to make it easier.  I was so wadded up on the bike heading downhill there was no way to stand at that point. He chuckled and asked me if I was ready for a different bike yet. Yes, I think I might be.

(Our route home from the bridge)
I was so happy to reach asphalt on the other side of the hill.  I did have to stop twice so that my hand could un-numb. When I ride the Gladius at low speeds and try to control the notchy throttle, especially downhill, my right hand will go completely numb.  It is mighty hard to control the throttle when I can't feel it.  I think it is a combination of wrist position (bars too low) and vibrations since I can ride the TW200 all day without my hand going numb.

Sigh, just might time for a new bike. I love the Gladius but I do believe after 5 years, it just might be the wrong tool for the job.

In total we did 150 miles (241 km) and roughly 20 miles (32 km) of that was gravel.

- Au Revoir

" Bravery is being the only one who knows you are afraid." - Franklin P. Jones
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