Sunday, September 28, 2008

Boxed In

Other than the daily commute, I've not been riding much lately. Seasonal affective disorder seems to be coming early this year. I don't have a diagnosed variety of it, but I do seem to take a hit in spirit when starts getting dark so early as it's doing now around 7:30 PM. Though I enjoy riding around through the local municipalities in the dark, there's only so much road riding that cuts it. I much prefer cruising down country roads which seem to be going nowhere and taking a long time to get there, but in the dark those kinds of roads aren't much fun.

Besides, the bike's back in the shop. The coolant drip wasn't fixed after all and within two days of getting it back the last time, there was the stain on the concrete under it again. When I picked it up last there was no evidence of a leak under it where it was sitting in the shop's lot, but alas! Bringing it home seems to jinx it. I am getting disheartened and a bit disgusted, though. I like the folks at my dealer's shop and I understand that diagnosing these things is sometimes a crap shoot, but I don't like making the trip back and forth because the only way to get there is through the city and with the traffic lights and stop signs I could be 20 miles away on the interstate in the same amount of time that it takes me to get there.

We did our annual apple run to Binghamton, NY yesterday. It was a little early compared to most other years because our October weekends are pretty much booked already, and it wasn't the same without the girls, but it was nice nonetheless. There was a light rain most of the day and I noticed many fewer cycles on the roads than usual, even when it's raining. Gee! It's not THAT cold yet though I've been needing a jacket to ride lately!

Here I am pondering the vicissitudes of life at the rest area just inside the NY state border on I-81.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Night Rider

In having gotten the BV250 last October and not having had the opportunity to take the course which would score me the motorcycle endorsement on my license until May I was essentially a reverse vampire for over half a year in having to be back home each evening before sundown. With dark arriving in this part of Pennsylvania between 4 and 5 PM when the days are shortest, I didn't have a whole lot of time to ride anywhere after work. Add to the mix that I had to take my daughter to and from school on my own way to school every day and that I couldn't carry a passenger without the official "M" and I was even more limited. Factor in the bad weather days as well and my riding dance card went empty on a lot of days and even for a few weeks at a stretch when we were in the middle of "enjoying" the kinds of temperatures that melted the road ice by day and then froze it up again at night.

I like riding after dark not only because I can thumb my nose at the old limitation but because I find it uniquely peaceful. Yeah, there's the alertness that has to be a bit more keen when the sun is down, but overall there's a special kind of serenity I find in night riding, even now when it's chilly enough to need a jacket. The riding introspection that I wrote about a long time ago seems even deeper in the dark. I can't say that I'm figuring much out by way of personal philosophizing, but I do enjoy chasing after my thoughts as they lead me to wherever they're going. When I'm not so tired as to be falling asleep on the couch before Jeopardy's over, I'll be out and about by moonlight when I can be!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Short Line

I've been, for the most part, absent here since school started.  I've been productively busy with my school work and it feels good, but I still miss all the time I had during the summer to do whatever I wanted to do - mostly nothing.  I wish every working person could have the time off that I have each year.  Having done nothing else except teach since I got out of college, summer vacation has been a part of my life for nearly my whole existence.  I don't understand how most folks keep going week after week, year after year, with only a few weeks off now and then during which to rejuvenate and maintain their spirits.  I'm still somewhat lamenting the start of the new academic year though I've been back for three weeks now. Right about now in the first term is when I start getting used to it.  I hope it kicks in soon.

I rode this morning just for the fun of it - something I've not done much of since I started commuting on the scooter.  There in the middle of town, near what was once upon a time the right of way for three major railroads that ran through the city when my grandparents were coming of age, I found this engine just sitting there.

It belongs to the valley's short line that services a number of local businesses, and once a year it brings the Barnum and Bailey Circus into town.  The same set of tracks runs right behind my house and often enough I see this engine in service as it chugs up and down toward the various branches lugging boxcars and gondolas to wherever they're going. Crossing above this set of tracks out back is a main line leased by Norfolk Southern from Canadian Pacific and a number of long freight trains go through each day making the house rumble and never failing to touch my heart with their horns playing their distinctive diminished chords at jet engine volumes.  Working on the railroad always seemed like one of those romantic kinds of jobs to me.  Adventure!  Excitement!  Noise!  But, summers off?  Nah!

This old Casey Jones wannabe will stick to his BV250!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Well, I got the bike back after I came home from my mini vacation yesterday, but all I could do was park it and wait for today and its rotten weather to be over.

On my way to work this morning (in the old cage) it looked like Armageddon and when the skies opened up the rain fell in sheets.  When I got to the parking lot which was picking up rain faster than it could drain the wind made the whole surface of the lot look like a lake.

I hate being at the mercy of the elements.  I know winter's coming with its own bag of lousy weather stuff and I hope I won't have to keep the scooter off the streets for too long.  In spite of driving cars for over 30 years I feel way more at home on the bike.  A car is just something to get me from place to place.  On the cycle it's about getting there.  Well, when it's not raining, at least.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Western Pennsylvania Get Away Weekend II

On the road in Shanksville, Pennsylvania - The Flight 93 impact site.

Western Pennsylvania Get Away Weekend

On the road in Shanksville, Pennsylvania - The Flight 93 Memorial Chapel.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It's been since early spring when I took the scooter out of winter dry dock that I've had a very slow coolant leak under its middle. At first there seemed to be a definite correlation with my use of the Battery Tender™, but after I stopped topping off the juice for a while the leak started up again. I left the bike with the mechanic for a few days in May, but not a drop leaked out. Now, with the warranty about to run dry in October, I need to have whatever it is fixed.

The little puddles seem to form overnight when the cycle's been sitting the longest. This is about the worst that the drip gets.

Some mornings I find only a quarter sized spot and other mornings there's nothing at all. The coolant level is still near the max, so there's not a whole lot dripping out. Nonetheless, engines aren't supposed to leak, not even a little.

This might as well be an intestine for all I know about the underside of a motor vehicle, but you can see the greenish drip about to fall. The gasket it's poised under, though, doesn't seem to be the source. You can see that the black thing above it is all wet and I'm suspecting that the source of the leak is somewhere inside whatever the black thing is.

So, amateur mechanics, what do you make of it?

In addition to getting the leak fixed, I need an oil change and an inspection too. Speaking of which... I bought the bike last October and the inspection was due in April. I took it in then and had it inspected, but the new sticker was only good until October. They explained that it was because of how Pennsylvania doesn't allow motorcycle inspections in the winter. I'm still confused. Hopefully this time it'll be good for a full year.