April 2013 – Gettin’ out and about!
With the weather warming up nicely, Simba and I headed down the big valley to hookup with fellow ‘Maggot’ (SabMag listmembers) Dave Q and Halfway Harry to check out some of the roads around Kernville, CA in preparation for Harry’s June event. I rode down the day before and was offered very gracious hospitality by one of the SabMag ladies in the form of a room, and Dave Q’s wonderful family provided fantastic meals too.
Dave Q was there when I arrived, and his lovely wife and one of his daughters, as well as a family friend and her daughter joined us for a great meal of Chile Verde, Beans, Rice, and fresh Corn on the cob. The following morning Dave and I headed out pretty early to hookup with his friend Sheldon, who would accompany us up to the Saddlesore Saloon in Glenville.
I actually did shoot some video (forward only, with the Contour); but shortly after the ride began some large insect splattered on the camera lens, so none of the video was really useable. I’ll shoot more in June!
March 2013 – Something a little different!
If you checked out the post just below this one (and watched the video), then perhaps you noticed I’m doing my own background music for my ride videos. I’m also doing other music, and you can check it all out on SoundCloud.
March 2013 – Spring is coming!
Time to confirm my new video setup! I got a second GoPro Hero2 video camera along with a WiFi/Remote bacpac, so with lovely weather here in the foothills it was time to head out and take a short ride! Along with the video check, I’ll now be using my own music to provide the background tunes on my videos. This one has a tune I call ‘Spyder Ryde’, composed, performed, and recorded by yours truly.
January 2013 – Cabin Fever
It’s been quite cold, and on occasion somewhat damp, for what seems like months. While this condition lends itself to getting things done inside, it isn’t great for riding motorcycles. So here’s a little video I put together to warm the riding heart while we wait for weather more conducive to actual riding.
October 2012 – Retired geezer decides on ‘the stable stable’
Okay, so if you’ve been following along you’ve seen several bikes come and go over the past two years or so. After the downsize in 2009-2010 I had to wait until things stabilized for us, then began my quest for the ‘perfect stable of bikes’ to pursue the riding I wanted to do. ‘Buffy’ the Triumph Scrambler came first, shortly followed by ‘Vikki’ the Honda VF1000R. Vikki was the first to go, as after doing enough work to make her rideable it was apparent that her heft and ‘racer crouch’ riding position weren’t what suited me for a ‘sporty’ bike. Shortly after that transaction I picked up ‘Valerie’, the Honda VFR with all the right upgrades.
Then I took a 3000 mile trip on Buffy and discovered three things that made her unsuitable for such a ride. To be brief, she had inadequate fuel range, she didn’t handle a full load well, and she was underpowered – especially at higher elevations. I posted an ad on ADV, wanting to either trade the Scram for a Triumph Tiger or sell her outright. Within a few hours I had a buyer for Buffy, and she was picked up the following day to be delivered to her new owner. Then I got a PM from a gent in North Dakota who had this ‘Steamer’ – the first generation Triumph Tiger (and the one I wanted) – for sale. All the right accessories, new tires, a clean bill of health from the Triumph dealer, and the right price. Done. ‘Simba’ was purchased and a few weeks later she was in my hands.
In the first month I owned Simba I put nearly 2000 miles on the bike. Superbly comfortable and long-range capable, she was the perfect replacement for Buffy and had none of the flaws. I took Val out on some shorter jaunts and came to the realization that she wouldn’t be getting much – if any – seat time. Even Val’s somewhat ‘relaxed’ crouch just wasn’t comfortable enough for my aging frame. Although I began with ads on a couple of the Honda forums and even an eBay auction, what finally did the trick was an ad on my ‘local’ Craigslist. A young gent was looking for precisely this bike, and she was gone in a day.
So what to do now? I really wanted a bike with more ‘sport’ than either the Trophy or the Tiger; but with a more upright and relaxed riding position than the VFR. A bit of reviewing and the solution – the PERFECT solution – became clear. The sporty bike I needed to complete my stable was none other than the Triumph Speed Triple. I talked it over with my lovely wife, showed her pics and colors, and we agreed that the ‘perfect Speedie’ would have to be what Triumph calls ‘Roulette Green’. I scoured the online resources, eBay, Craigslist, CycleTrader, and placed ‘wanted to buy’ ads on the Triumph forums. With no success, I finally realized that the approach that had found Simba was something I had not yet tried…
Within a few hours of placing the ‘WTB’ post on the ADV forum I was contacted by my new friend Rick. He actually had not yet decided to sell the bike; but when he read my post he knew I was her next owner. He sent pics, we spoke on the phone, a deal was made and in less than two weeks ‘Mantissa’ had made her way from New Jersey to California to join Katrina and Simba in my stable. So there you have it – the story behind the FoothillRyder stable – Triple Triple Threat (all three of my bikes are powered by that sweet Triumph 3-cylinder engine). Enjoy!
A Biker for Life – More than forty years on two wheels
Back in my teen years I liked bikes and had several friends who rode; but my first passion was sports cars. British sports cars, to be more specific. Although my first ‘car’ was an English Ford Anglia, bought for forty bucks and used as a dirt practice vehicle (!!), the first car I used as transportation was a 1958 Austin Healy 100-6 in brilliant gloss black with a white leather interior. I loved this car, and wish I had pictures to share as it took me on many adventures as a young lad. It was the first of several Healy’s, with a Triumph TR-3 thrown in the middle. But motorcycling was lurking in the background, and with a separation from my first wife I saw the opening and took it.
College got in the mix, and after that my first job in high-tech and my connection with my lovely wife of 30+ years. We decided together that we wanted a bike on which we could do some camping with similar-minded friends, and we purchased a 1977 Yamaha XS-750 triple. It had been fitted with a Wiseco 850 kit, a loud pipe, and a K&N ‘Superbike’ handlebar, and we added a Vetter Quicksilver fairing, Bates saddlebags, and a luggage rack with a padded sissybar. Several camping trips and many miles of excitement and fun were had on this machine. Here she is up on Skyline Drive circa 1981:
The triple succombed to a common problem of the era, a transmission that popped out of gear, and after buying our first house we replaced the triple with a brand new Yamaha Vision – an innovative liquid-cooled 550cc V-Twin with shaft drive. It was light and nimble; but had enough comfort for occasional 2-up riding. Fitted with the Vetter removed from the triple, it was a good commuter with sufficient performance for everyday use. Here she is at one of the many reservoirs in ‘Gold Country’ circa 1984:
A coworker talked me into selling the Vision to him, and for two years I was miserable without a two-wheeled motivator to keep me happy. Planning a brief semi-retirement and a move from Gilroy up to Pine Grove, I went down to the local Honda shop and found my next bike. She’s a 1985 Honda VF1100S, also known as the V65 Sabre. Equipped with the coveted Hondaline sport fairing when I bought her, I added only a Corbin seat with backrest to make her ready for my roads and used soft luggage when I needed to carry things. The big V-4 punched out a solid 121 horsies (at the crank, so ~105 at the wheel), and was smooth as glass. It was also very comfortable as an all-day riding partner. Here is a pic of Sadie with me on a motorcycle camping outing, this one taken at 8000 feet on Carson Pass circa 1996.
Back in the high-tech ratrace, I set a personal goal which I met. My reward was the ’97 Triumph Trophy which I still own. Her name is Katrina, and I have added nothing to her as she is a near-perfect sport-touring machine. With a smooth-as-silk 3-cylinder 900cc mill putting close to 100hp down, a light-as-a-feather <500lb weight, great brakes and decent suspension, the Trophy is a fine motorbike for most kinds of riding on pavement. Here’s a pic of me and Katrina at one of the many scenic overlooks on Hwy 88:
… and another of the beautiful Triumph with better lighting.
With another personal goal achieved, I decided to purchase an Italian Stallion. My machine of choice wasn’t a Ducati or a Moto Guzzi, even though both marques had their appeal. My choice was a bike I honestly think is one of the most beautiful motobikes ever made, a 2001 Aprilia SL Mille, also known as the Falco. Esquisitely chiseled lines, a sharp handling chassis with Gold Standard Brembo brakes, and a liquid-cooled, counterbalanced 1000cc V-Twin putting more than 120 horses to the rear wheel, ‘he’ was named Blotto. Here he is posing for my wife’s camera:
The Falco was an amazing machine, capable of ludicrous speed (the onboard computer clocked us at 167mph!) yet comfortable enough for day-long rides, I was thoroughly pleased with this bike – except for one thing. Being a sport bike, the charging system was very low-capacity (so as not to waste horsepower) and so was the battery (to save weight). My commute was only 10 miles each way, and this wasn’t enough to keep the battery charged sufficiently. He never failed to start; but what would happen was that the engine would cease turning while the starter was engaged, and the drop in battery voltage was enough to reset the CPU – losing all of my personal settings and resetting the ECU map to it’s defaults. I had to keep the bike on a smart charger every night. After four years it just became too much hassle, and I traded the Falco for my 2004 Triumph Thruxton 900. While not possessing either the extremely light weight nor the high power output of the Falco, the Thruxton was a trusty, easy-handling machine with much of the same character as the Bonneville Cafe Racers of old. Here’s a picture of ‘AJ’ entitled ‘Hooligan Chic’:
Along the way I also owned a 1983 Honda RC15 Interceptor, into which I installed an engine built by one Dave Dodge. Mr. Dodge worked with RC Engineering ‘back in the day’, and knew how to build these V-4′s to make big power and hold together. This machine put out 111 horses at the rear wheel – from 760cc. Not bad for a 25 year old! She has since been sold to a friend; but here is ‘Seven of Nine’:
Along the way I was given a 1984 V65 Magna which we named ‘Soul Man’. He took a bit of cleaning up; but here is the result:
I also picked up a couple of vintage ‘projects’ from a dear friend in the Philippines. This dear lady had a collection of vintage cars and bikes anyone would be proud of; but she married a friend of mine and was moving to the States, and had to sell her collections. I bought a ’64 BMW R50/2 (pictured below) and a basket case ’73 Triumph T120V Bonneville. The Bonnie may in fact be the last 650 Bonnie built in the Meriden factory before it was shut down in September 1973. I hope to one day get the Beemer running and hitch up a sidecar to it – it has the fittings on the frame and the Earle’s forks already. Here is ‘VroomHilde’:
There have been others; but you get the idea. I’ve owned some cool toys, and still have Katrina, Buffy (the Scrambler/Tiger Cub), VroomHilde, and the ’73 Bonneville. Here’s to motorcycles and the people who ride them!
November 3, 2012 – A quick scoot with Mantissa
October 22,2012 – Simba Goes to Yosemite (almost)
October 17,2012 – Mantissa makes a movie!
October 13, 2012 – Added The Wind , the original short story and basis for a novel in progress
October 13, 2012 – Weaverville trip added to Simba’s page
October 11,2012 – Event Highlights video added to the Weaverville Page
October 9, 2012 – NEW PAGE: http://foothillryder.com/weaverville-2012/