Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dark and cool: Happy Halloween

If I had to choose my least favourite season, it would be winter. I'm just not adapted for long periods of coldness, or periods of reduced sunshine. And also due to the world wide economic meltdown the additional expenses related to keeping warm and keeping your gas tank full. It's not so bad during the summer as you are able to keep your car parked for long periods and scoot about your business using more efficient modes of transport, read as in "scooter" or Motorcycle. During the past few months I have travelled great distances on my Maxi-scoot using only a fraction of what would have been. I leave for work early and now need the assistance of my trusty flashlight as I get my scoot ready for its daily commute, (before sunrise)


It will be brighter next week as we gain an hour due to Standard Time, BUT then the tables will turn and it will be darker on the commute home. You can never win. I think that if I had my way, I would rather have daylight at the end of the day rather than in the morning. There are things that I could be doing when I arrive home after work but now I have to leave them for the weekend. I vote for DST, Daylight Savings Time all the time.


Of course, now I appear to be the only rider at work. Normally there are 3 of us who ride but I can now have all the space to myself. I have already hibernated 2 of my vehicles (Vino and Suzuki) but my Kymco X500Ri is my commuter vehicle and is intended to be used all year. Last year I kept my Suzuki insured for most of the year but it just isn't suited for inclement weather. There is not as much wet weather protection as is available on a scooter. A scooter has a "running" board (flat floor) and leg shields which stop most of the wind and rain. With the slippery roads the CVT tranmission is more forgiving in its power delivery. I have found that on the motorcycle it is too easy to get carried away and you have to really concentrate on your throttle use. I don't like the feeling you get as you feel your rear wheel fish-tailing away, especially on the corners.
It was a freshing ride as I saw the morning sun come up over the horizon. Sorry no sunrise pictures as it was just not safe to pull over. When my helmet is cold the visor seems to fog up a lot. You will quickly learn to exhale out of your mouth away from the visor, or leave the visor angled out one notch which helps to defrost the condensation. On my 25 km commute I was fairly comfortable for about half of the ride as I wound my way through town, but on the last half of my commute I travel on a secondary highway which has posted speeds of 70 kms, but who goes that slow anyway. Let me just say that hypothetically if you were travelling at 10 or 15 kms over the limit, you would still be the slowest of the group, and I like to feel like the leader.
With the cooler temperatures the ride is more exhilarating in a sort of wake you up kind of way but at the elevated speeds of the Lougheed Highway your fingers go numb quicker, soon they feel like they are frozen. Lucky thing I have the CVT for if I were on the Suzuki my clutch hand would be dead-meat by now. Not a pleasant feeling when you are moving at a slow speed in rush hour traffic. You just have to remember that the asphalt is cold which means you have to watch out for your tires to ensure that they have enough "grip" for they have less grip during cold weather. Eventually we arrive at work safe and sound and partake in a warm beverage to expel the effects of the cold ride.

Tomorrow is Halloween. I don't think it is a Stat Holiday or anything like that, but I celebrate by having Chocolate. You find lots of treats for sale everywhere and by tradition is to buy a big package of my favourite brand. Cadbury or Hershey anyone ?


Again I wish you a very happy Halloween . . .


and devour lots of chocolates

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Like Chipmunks, skampering . . .

to prepare for winter. (One down, Two to go) Yes, my Suzuki SV650k4 is now resting comfortably for the winter. Stabilized and battery tendered. Now it was time to prepare another scooter for hibernation. While it was cool on Saturday, the sun decided to make another appearance so my plan was to DIG out our Yamaha Vino which has been in the back of our garage since its last use sometime around June or July, can't remember. We purchased insurance for it for the summer but only managed to use it once and now we are putting it away for the season


My plan was to use it for the day and get fuel stabilizer into the fuel system before I got home. It took a few "kicks" to get it running but not bad for not being used for over 3 months.


Before I started off, my usual practice is to add fuel stabilizer to the tank right away, then before I get home I will stop off at a gas station to TOP OFF and again add the appropriate amount to the tank. All my bikes are stored with a full tank to minimize condensation but I don't believe that it is critical on my scoots as the fuel tanks are usually plastic, not metal as on my Suzuki.

After I prepped everything up I was ready to leave. I hopped on my scoot and proceeded down the street but something didn't seem right. The rear tire was fishtailing a bit, so I went around the block and came back. I should have checked the tire pressures before I left, but as I had a new rear tire and rim installed a few months back, I presumed that the air pressure would have held but I was wrong. A quick check of my tire pressure gauge revealed that the rear was down a few PSI and the front was also down a smidgeon. Lucky thing I have my own air compressor


Of course I am a little space challenged so it was a minor inconvenience getting all my tools out but I managed to get all my bits together and get the job done. The rear tire was down to 20 psi and according to the label it should have been 25 psi, so I filled it to 26. The front was only down a LB.

It didn't seem right to only ride the Vino around the neighbourhood so I took it down to the scoot shop to socialize for a while


I think my Vino looks very happy being parked among those other italian beauties. It sort of blends in, don't you think ?


We stayed there for about an hour or so, then I left to do some errands on the way home. While I am used to having more power with my Maxi-Scoot, it is humbling sometimes to ride something of a smaller scale. It is more of a challenge travelling on the "faster" routes (cagers usually travel faster than the speed limit) so you have to be more diligent in selecting your routes, after all, you don't want to be "dead right" . As long as the traffic is congested you are fine for everything moves at a slower pace. I went to an auto parts store where parking is at a premium and I didn't feel guilty at all parking in the bike rack. Actually there was another scoot (electric) there as well and I parked beside it. The Vino is a small machine so it blended in nicely. There was no way that I could have parked my maxi-scoot there on the sidewalk, so there are advantages to having a smaller scoot around.


Yes, we made it home safe and sound. I think that todays mileage nearly equalled the total mileage ridden on the Vino for the whole year and that'll be it for the season. (count: now 2 down and 1 to go)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

EOS: ?? Not Really

It's not really EOS (EOS= End of Season) though a lot of riders seem to think so. I ride all year, except for those times where there is ice on the road, or fog, or monsoon-like rain, but I can't afford to insure all my bikes for the whole year.


My insurance on my SV650n is expiring next week so I had to get in one last ride for the weekend and prepare it for it's winter hibernation. I haven't really ridden it much this year since I got my new Maxi-scoot in May. My intention was to take the bike on highway outings and the scoot for more urban use, but I ended up taking my scoot to Oregon for the rally instead.
Today my plan was to take out the SV650 get all the fluids circulating and install the fuel stabilizer. That's it on the tank of the SV. Being FI there is not much to do. Just Fuel Stabilizer and plug in the battery tender. Of course the battery tender part has become 2nd nature for me as it is always plugged in all year long whenever is is parked in my garage/carport. Actually, every vehicle that I have parked is connected to a battery tender. That includes my Vette (in the background) which has also seen lack of use this year. You know that I am a bike "kind of guy" when the sun comes out I hop on my bike 99% of the time.


Here's my bike all decked out and ready for touring on the open road, but alas . . . it is getting ready to be parked for the winter instead.

Saturday was also the 1st day for Cappucino's for Alzheimer's at Urban Wasp, formerly known as: Vespa Vancouver. We are trying to raise funds to send Jennifer to climb Mt Kilimanjaro next year and Urban Wasp is matching (dollar for dollar) the amounts of donation collected.


Or course if you are in the area and wish to make a donation, that would be greatly appreciated


Of course, these gatherings are also an excuse to socialize with other scooterists of our group, whom for one reason or another are often not able to come on our group rides. And for those not so mechanically minded (my self included), sometimes simple adjustments can be done by others more knowledgeable. Here you can see The Reverend, Robert, helping Deborah


We have a lot of fun during these gatherings and there is a lot of joking and prodding going on. That's James, attempting to unseat The Reverend. (all in fun, of course)


After a while, more riders show up: Otto (GT200), John (BV500) & Lise (GT200) parking in the background.


And we didn't forget James who just installed a Puig windscreen on his Derbi 150. We were attempting to change the position a bit but it is a 3 person job trying to get all the points to line up. I think it looks better now.


It was a great, sunny, autumn day, just perfect for riding and companionship and ended with a great cup of Cappucino, brewed by Robert, the Reverend, and we raised $54. for the cause (to be matched by Urban Wasp). Every thing about today was great, except . . .


having to park my SV650nK4 until next Spring

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Burp . . . Turkey, Turkey & more Turkey

Well, our Canadian Thanksgiving is over. We had our Turkey dinner early (on Sunday) instead of Monday. It's been a hectic weekend, non stop action. It all started with a 75th Birthday party the previous Sunday for a member of the Route 66 Association of Canada (I am on the executive). I had been working on the video/slide show for the last week but I had some problems with the software so it took about a week to get it all together after around 12 hours of labour. While photography has always been my hobby, I found that everyone is walking around with a camera taking pictures, so I decided that I would move more towards mpeg4 digital video. It was my plan to use as much Freeware/Shareware as possible and I am happy to report that with the exception of ONE CODEC I have achieved my goal. The downside is that I use Windows Movie Maker and it freezes A LOT. What can I say ! It's FREE, so if it freezes who am I to complain. I see from the chatter on the editing forums that it is indiscriminate, it freezes for everyone and Microsoft does not have any fix for it. I am not adverse to paying for better software, but from all the reviews of mpeg4 editing software, they all have their deficiencies.
But what does all of this have to do with Turkey. Nothing really, just letting you know that instead of BLOGGING I have been spending a lot of time updating my YouTube channel and being time starved for the past few days.
Our traditional Turkey dinner is usually comprised of: the Turkey, Stuffing, brussel sprouts, yam, sweet potatoes, vegetable hash, cranberry sauce, gravy and of course the Pumkin pie for dessert (with ice cream, of course). If you are going to go to all that trouble to roast a turkey, then you might as well get a BIG one. That way you have enough to make dinners and sandwiches for the rest of the week. At least you don't have to wonder what's for dinner, as tomorrow we are having turkey again. And I still have a couple of turkey sandwiches for tomorrow.
And NO, I didn't take any pictures of all this food . . .

But I did take some pictures of that new Slalom course down on Cambie Street.


If only you could stop the traffic. There had been a lot of controversy regarding construction of the SkyTrain Line (rapid transit) to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Cambie Street has been dug up for a couple of years now and a lot of business are struggling to stay open. A few big box stores have opened up on the south slope and they keep diverting traffic as they get the pavement ready for traffic.


I think if you moved a pilon or two to appropriate positions you can get a nice slalom course set up. All we need is a blocker on both ends to stop all the cars.


Cambie Street used to be a major artery into the downtown core, but with all the construction and road closures, the traffic has moved to other routes. When it re-opens, soon we are told, then it will be a congested parking lot again. In the meantime, perhaps we can get a slalom going.

(my friend Gord, mimicing the figure on the sign)

For now, the traffic is light . . . and the turkey is nearly gone.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Saturday breakfast

Many of my scooter & motorcycle friends know that I have breakfast every Saturday at a popular motorcycle friendly cafe in Kitsilano on 4th Avenue just west of Burrard Street on the south side of the street. We have been meeting there for over a decade, except of course for those times when we go out of town on holidays.

(my SV650n + johnB's Hondamatic 400A)

I had not seen JohnB for a while and today he wanted company. The summer season had been very busy. While I had ridden my bike to Kelowna, BC and to the Scooter Rally down in Stevenson, Wa , JohnB had ridden his TDM (Yamaha dual sport) up to Alaska with 3 other friends. I really wished that I could have tagged along but I just didn't have enough vacation time left to swing it. (You can see his ride report on I had also just gotten back from a trip to Campbell River/Tahsis/Gold River so I had missed a few lunches during the past month. It was great to have an unplanned Saturday free for a change.


I believe that Honda made a couple of these models during the late 70's: a Hondamatic 400A (A=automatic) and the 750A. They were just ahead of their time. It was a 2-speed transmission (high & low range) and NO CLUTCH, instead they had a torque converter. You would twist the throttle and after you were going around 20 mph or so, you would click up to high range. No shifting required.


Surprisingly, the Hondamatic 400A has good pickup and torque, off the line. It is a 400 parallel twin and works very well for urban, stop and go, use. You probably noticed the "collector status" licence plate. Here in British Columbia, with certain restrictions you can insure a classic bike (over 25 years old, and must be original) for very reasonable insurance cost, so it can be affordable to have a few bikes in your stable without breaking the bank.

(johnB in full riding gear, just itchin to ride)

After breakfast we decided to ride down to Richmond to pick up some m/c parts and thus happened to visit a Kawasaki/Ducati dealer.


johnB actually wanted to buy some parts for his Yamaha TDM but we stopped here since it was on the way. Inside the showroom we tried sitting on a few different bikes; KLR, V-Strom 1000, some other dual sports, and a few cruisers but it was this one that JohnB wanted . . .


JohnB was a little shy at first, just sitting on there in a posed position, but after a little while he was making a lot of ZOOM ZOOM noices as well as some other motor sounds, he was really getting into it


Those Ducati's can really lean into the corner.


What a beautiful, sensual machine those Ducati's are. If I had one I would just put it in the middle of my living room and just drool over it every day. You can't take them out for a ride can you ? cause then -- they'll get dirty.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back to simpler times

With the fallout in the financial sector crumbling before our eyes, sometimes I think that we should go back to simpler times. It seems that the whole world is in a free fall with Governments all over the world pumping money into buying bad debts. How could we have gotten ourselves into this mess ? Perhaps it was greed.

Recently we needed some vegetables so instead of a big box store we decided to go straight to the "horse's mouth" and get it directly from the person who planted the seeds.


Farming is a hard life. I'm not referring to the new modern mechanized farms where they utilize state of the art machinery. I am referring to a first generation farmer who toils the land with their hands with a lot of manual labour. Of course there is not much time to keep the land neat and tidy.


It is one thing to grow your own vegetable garden in your back yard and another to try to make a living from producing and selling "off the land" .


There are a lot of independent farmers on the Fraser River Delta. This particular farm has been in operation for many years doing things the way it has always been done. It's like a step backwards to a time long forgotten. Except for a forklift or two and a few well used cars you would have thought that time "stood still" .


Of course the workers do enjoy some of the benefits of our modern civilization in their makeshift lunch area


Everything just looks tired and in disrepair but when you are operating a farm 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, there just isn't time to make your farm look presentable. It's more about utility than presentation


During the "off Season" from Fall to Spring our fruit and vegetables come mainly from California. Our weather only allows us to grow our own for about half the year, and with such unpredictable weather we have been getting during the past decade I would think that our actual growing season is getting shorter.

On this particular day we wanted to present the "owner" of this farm with a special cake that we had ordered as a thank you for some corn that we previously received. When we arrived at the front we asked some of the workers where we would find "Chong Tai". They lead us through some buildings and a dilaphidated plastic covered greenhouse to this corner where we saw some workers hand washing some LO BOK.


Yes, that is her on the right, looking just like another farm worker, unidentifiable as the person in charge, pitching in getting the job done . Of course, in return for our thank you gesture, she wanted us to take some green beans. We told her we couldn't accept a whole case


We ended up taking a hand-full, and a couple of dozen ears of corn.


Lucky thing we didn't go down there on our scooters, otherwise we couldn't have taken all this stuff home, at least without making a few trips

(Mrs Bobskoot: left & Chong Tai: right)

Chong Tai looks to be in very good health for someone that is 91 years old. I would think that she has probably spent her whole life working/running this farm. It looks like a hard life with few benefits.


She keeps very long hours . If you have the time and need to purchase some vegetables go down and pay her a visit . And remember not everything grow in cans.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Camcorder "Rolling Video"

You can tell from the nip in the air that summer is on the wane. We are in the midst of a large low pressure ridge that has moved all the rain clouds our way . Of course we hope that it doesn't rain all the time.


For a change I took my motorcycle SV650 to work. It was cool in the early morning as I leave around 7am and on this day it was misty with a little drizzle. It actually felt great to be wearing all of my motorcycle apparel as in the summer heat it gets very toasty, but not today - it was just right. I am lucky that our office is in an industrial area with lots of parking available. I park right outside my office window, that way I can keep an eye on it all day


There is not much concern for others to tamper with the bike as it is parked behind the concrete parking bumpers and as you will notice I am not the only rider in this building.

While there are a lot of bikers in this city, you are generally not able to find a lot of dealers who carry motorcycle specific accessories. I had been looking for a way to mount my cameras on both my scooter and motorcycle. At the "Rally Week in the Gorge" last August, Sound Rider had some Ram-mounts for sale so I purchased a couple of items to be able to mount my digicams. I decided a few months ago that I wanted to shoot "moving" video on my bike. I was looking for a camcorder that I could use and settled with a Panasonic model that was both WATERPROOF (underwater mode) and shock proof. I did not want a DVD recording model, nor one with a HDD because of vibration, and I really didn't wish one with minDV tape as then I would have to transfer the video to my computer in "real time" . With the SDHC card I can just drag over the file using windows explorer. I won't go into all the problems I had trying to edit the video except to say that it was a BIG learning curve, learning what codecs to install. My other criteria was to try to use all Free/Shareware. In the end, I only had to purchase ONE specific program in order to convert .MOD / .MOI files to .AVI For all the editing/rendering and all the YouTube stuff was all done with Freeware. So Mission Accomplished


The main anchor point for the Ram attachment is a U-bolt around the left mirror mount. I had to move the camcorder as far to the left as possible to clear the windshield. Or course you cannot use the right side because of your throttle and the fact that you have to push the start/stop button on the camera.


Here is the view from the rear. Not the ideal position since the screen on most video cams open to the left and you have to move your head in order to view. I thought about mounting it on the right mirror. While the view would have been more centered I didn't like the idea of having to move my left arm crossing over to the right in order to operate the zoom and start/stop button(s). It would have been just too dangerous IMHO . Too bad this model didn't have a remote control option.


This is the front view. On the motorcycle the windshield moves WITH the handlebars, so when you mount the camcorder in a specific position your job is done. I am having a greater problem on my scooter as the Windshield is fixed and when you move the handlebars the position of the Ram-Mount allows the camera to HIT the windshield on a full right turn. I think I will need a custom mirror bracket but I am still working it out in my mind.

Anyway, here is my first "test" video

cambie street vancouver bc.wmv