Upgrades and Updates

Weather: 47°F (8°C) Under cloudy skies.
Road Conditions: Dry and clean.

A leftover shot from the Flood Run: Self portrait in chrome.

Busy, busy, busy…

A lot has happened over the past week, and I suppose I should bring you all up-to-date. The most obvious event was the changing of the color scheme for RHR. I got sick of looking at a black-and-white page, and decided to go with something more to my liking. Now that we have all the glitches ironed out, I would appreciate some reader feedback. What do you think?

Scooter News…

I wish I could tell you something positive here, but I’m afraid the Vespa deal is in limbo at the moment.

NOTE: This section has been edited. Kathleen from Cooper-Katz has been in contact, and the deal may still be alive. We are looking at early May now, hopefully. Wish me luck… and thanks to whomever it was that helped me out. You know who you are.

Replacement Rambler?

The next Ramble Plan in my phonetic alphabet progression is Kilo. For that, I let my friend Sidewalk Dan plan and lead the ride, right through the heart of our Twin Cities. We dined at “Bulldogs N.E.”, where I had a most decadent gourmet cheeseburger, and then he led me on a merry chase through sidestreet rush-hour traffic. But I’m going to let him tell you about it, later this weekend.

Another “Doohickey Day”!

My friend Paul Streeter is hosting another Doohickey Day at his house on Saturday. Members of the Twin Cities Dual-Sport forum will get together to perform scheduled maintenance and upgrades to their KLRs, and now we are even working on other makes and models of these most useful of motorbikes. Buster Brown and Sidewalk Dan will be there, along with a host of other eccentric characters, and I will be sure to document the ensuing mayhem for posterity.

Tunnel of Hate?

This is the term I have come up with for my morning Ride to Work(tm) on the freeway. Now that I have been granted this time at work in the morning to update my blog and answer your comments, I have forsaken my nice, slow morning ramble on the parkways in favor of mortal combat on the freeways.

Since it is still dark when I leave in the morning, and the freeway runs between huge retaining walls through much of its’ length, I have taken to calling this ride “The Tunnel of Hate”.

This is due to the Universal Loathing I feel for every single cage operator out there. All these fragile egos driving oversize trucks and SUVs, and even worse, the vicious little creeps in their hopped-up sh*tboxes, are out there wired on their morning coffee, lurching from lane to lane with their nuclear blue high-beams on, in a death-race to their commercial/industrial slaughterhouses.

I don’t know how much more of this I can stand before I do something Truly Heinous…

23 Responses to “Upgrades and Updates”

  1. Sidewalk Dan Says:

    Color scheme looks good Gary.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post a ride write-up. I hope your readers enjoy it.

    See you Saturday.

    Sidewalk Dan out.

  2. irondad Says:

    Weirdly enough, or not, consider our past experience, I’m doing a post right now on this crazed traffic thing. Is it coincidence that the color scheme makes me think of a KLR?

  3. Dick Aal Says:

    Funny, It is not a color I would pick but it works!! I especially like the alternating colors green/tan in the comments section. It is better on the eyes this way. Although the cursor seems to disappear when it moves over the print on the green sections.

  4. Mike Amaral Says:

    Hey Gary, huge fan of all your works, diary of a cafe racer/rush hour rambling/etc. Hands-down the best motorcycle literature on the net.

    Anyway, the color scheme is excellent, not as bland as the white. Otherwise keep up the great work, it keeps my awake during my work day!


  5. andy goldfine Says:

    Gary, the new colors look nice. The olive is pretty dark, but maybe not too…(?). “Tunnel of Hate”, eh? The poet Barton Sutter once wrote a line about how a good road was being transformed “from a highway to a hallway” by MNDOT, who, as we know, has a huge budget they must spend to protect their ‘power’. In the name of serving the public, which as we both know is abotu 50% baloney. Before you do anything “henious”, though, give me a call… You know, it is possible for some reader to misunderstand or have difficulty with the distinction between well-informed rhetoric and reality. I think of those walled roads as symptomatic of insecurity, more than of hate. We are all insecure to some degree. Riding brings us face to face with it, in a very good, charcter-building, life-centering way. Commuting on those walled roads in a wonderful car has the opposite effect. Paradoxically, that experience is a kind of reality-denial, which makes one’s insecurities even larger.

  6. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Sidewalk Dan: Roger that…

    irondad: Considering my background, and my preference for Spring over Winter, the new colors should be no mystery. The KLR similarity certainly isn’t coincidental.

    Dick: The cursor thing is unfortunate, but I don’t think I can change that from this end. That has more to do with your display settings, I think.

    Mike: Oh man… you’re going to force me to buy a larger helmet. Not everybody shares your opinion, but I certainly appreciate it. Thanks.

    Andy: Dark kind of goes with some of my content, don’t you think? See above, re: display settings.

    But seriously, I experimented with several shades before settling on this. I wanted to use white lettering, and have always been partial to this color.

    As for the “Heinous” comment, you must know I was just blowing off steam. But you’re right, others might not get it. When viewed in the context of some of my previous exploits, I suppose that word carries significant weight here. Point taken…

    What bothers me most about the walled-in freeway are the high-speeds combined with a relative lack of options when something major goes wrong. If a pileup spreads clear across the road ahead, even if I’ve left myself sufficient stopping distance, the traffic approaching from behind still presents a serious threat.

    Maybe I will rethink this morning routine, and leave myself some time to enjoy my morning rambles again. Thanks for the nudge, Andy.

    Ride well,

  7. seagullplayer Says:

    Sorry I’m late on this, but I like the new color, it seems to really make the pictures “pop”. Did I say that?

    Have a great weekend all!

  8. Steve Williams Says:

    I think the new color scheme is good. Has a very woodsy feeling. You’ve beat me to the line on this. I’ve been waffling on a change on my blog for a long time….

    I gassed up this evening next to a big Ford pickup. Huge. I asked the guy what he hauled. “Nothing” was his reply. I don’t get it. Or maybe I don’t want to get it.

    This topic will appear soon on my blog. That’s how I’ll let it all go.

    Gary, I am spoiled in my commute and riding in general. I’m never in the situations you are. I don’t think I would handle them as you do.

    Be safe out there.

  9. Gary Charpentier Says:

    SGP: I agree. That’s why I chose it. But I wonder how it appears on different display types. Black and white was a no-brainer, but this is going to require some refinement.

    Steve: I wasn’t in a race with anyone. The black and white was just getting on my nerves. I think it has a lot to do with my preference for Spring and Summer over Winter.

    The guy who was filling his truck would have been more truthful if he had replied, “I am hauling my single, solitary ass, and my enormous, unjustified ego. That requires some serious horsepower!”

    I envy you your life out there in “The Sticks”. City life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… whatever that means. All I know is, if I had a viable choice, I would move my family away from here.

    Ride well,

  10. Andrew Says:

    Just a note on your new colors: in my newsreader (SharpReader) every second comment shows up as white text on a white background (i.e. invisible).
    Keep up the good work and I’m looking forward to your testing of other bikes!

  11. combatscoot Says:

    So that’s why I couldn’t get to your blog sometime this week… very nice color scheme. I understand your sentiment on the freeway. Thankfully, I haven’t had to freeway commute in a number of years, but now have to hop on I-10 from time-to-time in a work van for my job. People are not so bad here, though, yet.

  12. Bro Shagg Says:

    Huge pickup to haul ego, ass, and probably 50 gallons of gas or diesel for which he likely stops a couple times a week…

  13. Harvey Binder Says:

    The colors are a neat combination. I like the new look.

    Next week when your dragon red ( I still would have chosen the midnight blue) gets here… hehe Don’t get the midnight blue. I’m getting the midnight blue. Eventually…

    You need to come up this way. I am utterly surprised how a mile from my home transforms the riding lanscape so much. Check out my blog for the latest discovery. I wasn’t even aware there was an east River Road! Not this close to me anyway. And not this good either. You gotta check out the roads around St. John’s anyway.


  14. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Andrew: Try pressing the Control key while clicking on Refresh. This will force your browser to reload the entire page, including something we just changed called the “style sheet”.

    CSJohn: What always blows my mind is how most of these folks behave like civilized human beings when they are not encased in metal and glass armor. It makes you wonder which is their true personality…

    Bro Shagg: That kind of hubris can’t be cheap.

    Harvey: I’m actually hoping to get the Vintage Red one. That’s a bit more subdued shade, which I hope will look classier in photos. Dragon Red would just stand out and poke you in the eye.

    I’ll check out your blog soon, but it’s just after 1a.m. here right now, and I think maybe I should try to get some sleep.

    Ride well,

  15. Dick Aal Says:

    Far out!! I tried he CTL refresh and it came out white background and other things were diffent. I like it regular instead.

  16. Tinker Says:

    Color scheme works for me, yes the cursor is hard to spot on green background but in my scheme it is gray, which is not entirely invisible.

    Just wanted to post the address of a brief test of the new (2008) KLR 650. Looks like an improvement, don’t know if it still needs a dohickey, but the suspension is much improved.


    Price is still fine.

  17. The Snark Says:

    I like the new look. What is it about car drivers that makes them have an over inflated sense of ego when they’re behind the wheel? Mind you, there have been more than a few occassions when I’ve been guilty of the same, so I shouldn’t be calling the kettle black. Wishing you clear roads and safe rambles for the riding season. And more ramble food posts please, with pictures…serves me right for dating a vegetarian.

    Irondad & Gary : Considering our similar backgrounds, I can understand the choice of colour for Rush Hour Rambling, but for me, personally, I swore blind never to ever get into another company vehicle painted olive drab.

  18. Terry Says:

    Gary you always have nice pics and writeups, but with your new format, the text on the white background is not comming through, I’ve following your blogs since Barron in winter,really nice, I’m glad to see that you are not a follow the leader, me too, type of guy. I live up north near Bowstring, MN and have an 01 TW 200 with 16500 miles on it and a 03 Honda silverwing scoot with 26000 miles of enjoyment on it. Sometimes I ride the wing down to the cities, I’m going to try to ride the tee dub to the cities sometime. keep up the good work.

  19. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Dick and Terry: What browser are you guys using?

    Shane, my webmaster, told me that the CTL-Refresh trick should work on any system using Windows Explorer. Are you getting the green background with white text on the main page?

    If the problem is only in the comments section, we will have to look at that. Sorry for the inconvenience…

    Tinker: I read that piece you linked. I’m disappointed that we lost two inches of suspension travel, although maybe he’s right about the reduced sag compensating for it. I’ll definitely have to do a full Rush Hour Road Test on this bike, including random curb-hopping and off-road onramps.

    Snark: O.D. Green is permanently imprinted on my psyche. It must have been something they put in our chow.

    Stay tuned for Ramble Plan Kilo, and the ten-dollar cheeseburger.

    Ride well,

  20. Buster Brown Says:

    On a mac running Safari. I clicked on View in the menu bar, then Reload Page. Now I’m getting black on white, and white on , uh, I’m gonna have to call it “avocado”. I assume you ruled out “periwinkle” and “persimmon”, got close with “celery” before settling on this one. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of ‘em.

  21. Biker Betty Says:

    Gary, I like your new look. It’s nice to change occasionally. I sub as a librarian at schools and I’ve been getting lots of calls lately. I ride my motorcycle to work and get lots of different routes around town. It’s funny to see the expressions on their faces when I walk in to the offices. I was given a hard time at one high school. I’ve been called to sub there lots in the last few months and now they think I’m cool, lol. I’m glad I don’t have to use the highway to get to any of the schools. Morning and afternoon traffic on the highway is a bear with all the roadwork going on these days. Good luck with the Vespa Dea.

  22. Biker Betty Says:

    Oh, I shouldn’t reread my posts, sigh. I ment Vespa “Deal.” LOL :)

  23. Ron Johnston Says:

    I have to agree about the s*%tboxes… it almost seems like the guy in the Geo Metro WANTS me dead, while the guy in the Excursion simply does not CARE if I end up dead. I think these guys feel they have even more to prove because they obviously need a big manly symbol, but can’t manage to get one!