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In the Garage

February 7th - 25th 2012 (see below)

February 29th - It doesn't take too much to make me happy! 

March 10th - A Banner Day

May 9th 2012

February 7th 2012

Its about time I conceded that I am not a painter. I removed the side panels, tool box and tank from the 74 Police California with the intension and desire to repaint them. When they came into my hands they were a mess of blue and grey with poorly exucuted white pinstriping. Where someone (or something - a squirrel I think) had scrabbled at the paint on the tank, I could see that originally the bike had been black, so I thought I would return it to its original look. Old 'loop frame' Moto Guzzis look so cool in black - that's what I wanted.

I sanded at the divots in the paint and feathered it all nicely so that all the paintable parts were in excellent condition for a first spray. At that point I should have listened to the little voice inside my head which said 'let someone who knows what they are doing do it', but instead, I bought some rattle cans and blasted away.

Predictably, as soon as I applied the second coat, the first coat started to alligator - damn, why can't I learn to be more patient! Now I have to wait until its thoroughly dry again, sand the crappy stuff out and start again.

The problem is I know myself too well. If I had someone do a professional paint job, I would start ruining it almost immediately by slapping on a tank bag, knocking it with a tool or dribbling some toxic chemical across the pristine surface. I'm just too careless to be left in charge of anything really nice. And no - I'm not echoing disapproving parental voices from my childhood (they never would have said anything so undermining and cruel, even if they'd believed it), I know this from years of living with myself.

 

February 9th 2012

I'm making some progress. I've switched from rattle cans to using a foam brush and sanding between every other coat.  I just love the way the paint (thinned with 25% paint thinner) goes on so smoothly.  I am beginning to believe that I may actually make a semi-reasonable job of this, as long as I don't screw up the pin-striping.

I'm waiting for a delivery of parts from MGCycle in Wisconsin. Its all small stuff - speedo cable, plug lead ends, passenger grab rails etc., but together they will make all the difference between a half finished bike and a complete one. 

 

February 12th 2012

The parts arrived - and darn it, the threads on the petcocks are the wrong size.  I have queries MgCycle as to whether there are other sizes, but I suspect I will end up having to use a helicoil to step the size of the orifice down from 13mm to 12mm. 

In every other way though, this weekend has been one of singular successes. I finished painting the tank and panel, and while not anywhere near approaching a professional job, they don't look half bad.

   

I have temporarily put the tank and panels back on the bike to see how it looks.  Not bad!

 

February 25th 2012

Its more dangerous to stay at home! 

One of the things I hear all the time is "Isn't riding motorcycles dangerous?" - or often a more emphatic "motorcycles are dangerous".  Well, of course it's true.  You're on two wheels, often moving at high speed, on roads full of inattentive people who think a vehicle is a mobile office or resturant and who apply only a fraction of their conscious thought to driving.  Tar snakes, gravel on the corners, ice and spilled oil can turn a pleasant ride into a close encounter with a ditch or tree in an instant.  A sudden mechanical problem - a flat tyre, a broken chain, a snapped cable, can turn a trip to the coffee shop into a slide along the tarmac in the blink of an eye. Motorcyclists are aware of these dangers. Most ride accordingly, ever vigilent for the nightmare of someone turning across their path without seeing them. 

So why do we regular expose ourselves to this danger? Well, the obvious answer is that the pleasure one derives from riding a motorcycle outweighs or overpowers the concern for personal safety.  Many would argue that it isn't all that dangerous anyway, having ridden hundreds of thousands of trouble free miles without major incident or upset.   

My perspective is some what different.  I have ridden motorbikes since I was sixteen.  When I lived in England a motorbike or scooter was the only vehicle I could afford.  I rode them all year and in all weathers.  Every other weekend I used to ride from Norfolk to the Midlands to see my mother, who at that time was living alone, my Dad having recently died.  It was about 130 miles, but it often seemed like much more.  Sometimes I got so cold that I could hardly hang on the the handlebars.  My wet weather gear was inadequate and I regularly got so wet that I would be soaked in freezing water from head to foot - right down to my underwear and socks.  I did that journey many, many times.

Despite the appauling conditions, the crowded roads and the poor condition of my bikes, I never had an accident. Admittedly I tended to ride in a cautious manner, always staying within what I considered to be a reasonable speed and with due regard to the road conditions and adhesion limits of my tyres.

Fast forward thirty years. After the normal baby-boomer story of family and work putting bikes on the back burner, I jumped back into motorcycling in my mid fifties.  Since then I have ridden twenty to thirty thousand miles each year on a variety of bikes.  So far, since resuming riding, I have yet to hurt myself and have neither crashed or been hit.  Lucky - certainly, cautious - moderately.  My passion is for long rides to isolated places along marginal roads in Canada.  I'm as happy on gravel as pavement, but I'm not an off-roader. 

But to return to the main story....  Last March I, was itching to get back on the bike after a long, snowy winter.  From time to time I would head out to the garage just to look at the bikes.  It was torture since the garage was unheated and way too cold for any primping or minor maintenance, but sometimes just looking at them for a few minutes was enough to stave off the agony of not riding for another day.

I guess I stayed out there too long because when I went back into the house I was really cold.  I decided I would grab my reading glasses and one of the well-thumbed 'Classic Bike' magazines from the pile and soak in the tub for a while.

I lingered in the tub long enough for the water to start to feel chilly on my skin, even though it was still quite warm. I dropped the magazine over the side of the tub, put my glasses on the side and stood up.  At least, that was my intention.  I put my left hand on the edge of the tub, got my foot under my body and started to rise.  I was almost vertical when my left hand slipped on the wet tub edge and I crashed down on to the rim, smashing my full weight on its unyielding edge.

My wife Chris was in her office. She heard the crash and my groan as all the air was driven from my lungs and knew something was wrong.  By the time she arrived, I was breathing again, but it was obvious to both of us that I had done something nasty to myself.

It took about six weeks before the pain in my left side began to rccede.  I had broken a couple of ribs, and even the slightest movement was painful. Even now, months later, I can still feel some tender spots if I run my hand along my side.

I find it highly ironic that the worst injury I have endured in recent years didn't come from motorcycling, but happened in my own home.  One tiny moment of poor judgement and bad luck in the tub and I was laid up for weeks.  I will continue to ride my bikes, ever conscious that it is a potentially dangerous activity, but I refuse to be fearful that I might have an accident.  If it happens, it will be from my poor judgement, someone elses incompetence of sheer bad luck.  I know it is a possibility, but it is a risk I'm prepared to take. 

What I'm not prepared to do is to hide in my own home thinking that I will be safe.  I know that simply isn't true!

 

As a postscript to this story: while I was convalescing, and unable and unwilling to work, I posted an ad on Kijiji looking for an 'older Moto Guzzi for restoration'.  Almost immediately I got a response from a fellow in Quebec with a 1974 Moto Guzzi 750S non-runner, in need of some care and attention.  Despite the pain, I figured I could drive my van, so I went to have a look.  It turned out to be far better than I had anticipated - and now it has pride of place in my stable. 

It seems even bathtub misadventures can have a silver lining. 

 

January 16th 2014

Well, its been quite a while since I added anything here. I'll admit I've been lazy.  Over the last couple of days I've had some adventures and misadventures which I thought I'd add.   

Since I bought the Nuovo Falcone just before Christmas I have been getting more and more irritable with the weather.  Its been too cold, to snowy and too nasty to do any riding. 

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