July 29, 2012

A Spa Day for Paolo

... and a lazy day for us. It has been almost a year since Paolo got a well deserved service. This time he got an extra goodie: a Wolo Bad Boy airhorn. Soundbite here. Cagers, can you here me NOW? While saying my good-byes to Paolo I stumbled upon this pretty piece.
I sure shouldn't be eying other scooters while Paolo gets his guts pulled out. Bad Sonja.
Soon we left the bike in the good hands of Will, the master mechanic at Urban Wasp. For those familiar with Enterprise (TOS) Will is for Vespa what Scotty is for the Enterprise, a miracle worker and often playing on the Scotty Factor.

For breakfast the hubby found a fantastic vegan/vegetarian food place just down the road. Vancouver is a great spot for healthy food choices. We got Sejuiced. We ordered some booster juices, an omelette for Roland and scrambled tofu with spinach for me. De-li-cious!

After breakfast we walked off the calories in the neighbourhood. Vancouver has a project of community gardens going on, and we were fascinated by how it changes the cityscapes.
 A previous railroad track transformed into a little paradise.
I am not known for my green thumb, but I can certainly appreciate the time and effort that all those volunteer gardeners put into this little oasis.

Our stroll continued down to the water passing totem poles. At Kits beach we occupied a bench and spent an hour (or more) watching people and the water doing nothing.
I really love this guy.
Although we are in the city, it doesn't look like it. Don't we live in a beautiful place?
I am wearing a birthday present from hubby: my new leather jacket ordered from England by way of Germany to Canada (and yet half the price of what one would have payed when bought in town).
 Taking a closer look:
The sculptures are some leftovers from the Vancouver Biennale. I am fascinated by the simplicity of this one:
 That piece is called "Frozen Water".
 Often photographed.
 Isn't it beautiful?
Roland meanwhile was drawn to satisfying some more basic needs, a.k.a. a coffee break.
And I got to eat my cookie ration from Edible Flours, a vegan (and gluten free) bakery.
No, kitty, I am not sharing! (This one climbed up my leg but no harm done thanks to my Kevlar jeans.)
Before returning to the Vespa shop I got sidetracked by a Honda dealer in the vicinity, and checked out the new NC700X.
Good upright seating position, and feet almost flat on the ground. The bike is well balanced, and I am pleased to see that it comes with ABS.
It is not the tank, it is a trunk that fits a full face helmet.
 The gas tank is hidden under the seat.
I actually like the bike. Maybe I am going to give it a try and book a test ride just to see what it can do.

Meanwhile back at the shop, the work on Paolo is finished, and the scooter is ready to go.
And off we go, meeting some friends at our most favourite part of the city: the pier at Steveston, where we always get a prime parking spot for scooters.
Good times!

July 25, 2012

IMBC 2012 - Recap

The trip came and passed away, 
hardly seemed to last a day 
but now it's over so what can we do? 

Well, start planning for the next journey for sure!
At the end of a such a multi-day trip we found things that went well, and things that could have been done or planned different / better. In no particular order...

What went well:
  • trip planning allowing for alternate routes
  • hotel reservations in highly frequented vacation spots (thanks Brad & Brandy!)
  • proper gear for all weather conditions
  • professionally serviced bikes ahead of trip
  • carrying enough water and snacks
  • Sena SMH-10 communication system in combination with iPhone Navigon GPS
  • Icebreaker t-shirts and underwear... priceless!
What could be done different next time:
  • Bring paper map for 'big picture'
  • Allow for some luggage space for backup food in case of culinary disasters
  • Bring long johns, it can get really cold even in summer
  • More exercising to strengthen back muscles
We both learned a lot on this journey. Roland experienced his first set of serious twisties and learned better positioning and forward looking riding thanks to the advanced riders ahead of him. He gained a lot of self confidence, which helped him to relax. The Burgy fits his riding style perfectly, and he was in a happy place at most times (except for the crosswind gusts) while on the bike.

I definitely learned to keep my inner hooligan in check while supporting the spouse to get into and remain in his riding comfort zone. I didn't push or challenge him, his safety and comfort became my priority. I also found that I can make the Sportster lean hard. I was almost touching the ground with the pegs. By the end of the journey there was not much of chicken strips left.

The bikes were in ship-shape when we left, and we didn't encounter a failure or breakdown or even a hick-up. There was no detectable loss of oil or air or performance.
Who needs more power anyway? The single cylinder 400cc Burgy with its 34 hp was more than enough to keep the big guy running with the pack. The bike could go for hours on highway speed and the average consumption was about 4.2l /100km or 56mpg (and so was to our biggest surprise the Sportster, also). The Laminar Lip mounted on the windshield did the trick to keep the wind buffeting down to moderate levels. Roland learned to appreciate the hand protectors and heated grips quickly (while I suffered a bit in the cold...). Let alone the seating position could certainly be optimized. Roland needs a back rest, or a different seat alltogether. Other than that, he was absolutely satisfied with the scooter's performance.
The Sporty is a bike that never ceases to amaze me. It ran smoothly, and had a way better fuel economy than expected. No worries about lubing the chain, the bike didn't need any extras, just gas to keep it going. The longer it was on the road the better the performance. Riding the twisties is hard work though and needs some extra muscle, it doesn't lean as easily as a sports bike, but it does lean.  But some modifications would have to be done before the next major road trip as there were 18 stops for gas. A bigger tank could take care of that issue.
For better ergonomics I would want to have handlebar risers (1" higher and 1" back) installed. Heated grips would definitely be an asset as well as hand guards (bugs hitting the summer gloved hands does hurt...). Would it be worthwhile modifying the Harley, or should I still shop around for "the perfect bike"? I don't know yet.
The new Nolan N-104 modular helmet was a good investment despite some minor issues. With the lid closed the noise level was pleasantly low, no ear plugs were needed. I was happy with the peripheral view and the air flow through the vents was great. The slightly higher weight (300g to the 3/4 helmet) didn't bother me a bit. All in all I am happy with this model, but...
  • The flip-up mechanism doesn't seem to like hot weather conditions and is finicky to open once the material heats up.
  • The open face shield as well as the lowered tinted inner sun visor are prone to vibrations under highway speed conditions, which make the whole helmet shake. So... keeping it shut!
  • When the closed face shield is hit by cross winds at highway speed it makes eerie squeaky noises. First I thought that something was wrong with the bike but then I realized it was coming from the visor. I will re-install the visor and see if it goes away.
The Kriega US20 + US10 drybags combined with the run-of-the-mill no name tank bag was giving me enough room to carry all my gear. I kept the extra motorcycle gear in the US10, which was easily accessible, and adjustable by tightening or losening the straps when packing or removing items. The whole thing is a thought-through concept, and highly recommended for those who like (waterproof) tail packs. I certainly do, because it also provided a nice backrest. The only suggestion for improvement would be some loops for the smaller pack to be able to hook in a shoulder strap and use it as a messenger bag.
 Let the good times roll! 
Photo: courtesy bobskoot

July 23, 2012

IMBC 2012 - Part 6 - Trip Meter: 2,319km

Good morning said the marmot (at least that's what I think it was.)

The hotel breakfast offered a wide variety of fresh (not canned!) fruit, and made for a good start into the day.
Our last leg of the journey would sum up to about 400km through the North Cascades, heading West towards the coast, and then straight up North to the border.
While we were climbing up the mountain road it got colder by the minute. Down from 20C to 7C. We bundled up good, even making use of our rain gear as wind breakers.
As we were getting closer to the We(s)t Coast, guess what happened... it started drizzling.
The roads were awfully slippery from oil and diesel spills left by countless motor homes and cars. We had to be careful.
 Not much of a view today, so we pressed on.
Leaving the coast mountains behind, we stopped for lunch at the Panino Cafe, which we accidentally found as there happened to be a Starbucks located adjacent to it. The eatery was promoting gluten free wraps and pizza. Talk about destiny.
 A delicious veggie pizza on gluten-free crust for me.
 A split pea soup with a BLT sandwich for the spouse.
We avoided the I-5 and decided to ride the Chuckanut Drive instead. It is always worth the detour.
And while we positioned the bikes for a final picture a truck stopped, a gentlemen got out and immediately peppered questions to Roland asking about the Burgy. He was a 650cc Burgman rider himself and planning his first major road trip to Wisconsin for a family thing.
His colleague was kind of antsy to get back on the road again, so he left with our best wishes for the road trip. Then it was over... after a five minute wait at the border, we were back on home soil again. What a journey.