Monday, June 30, 2014

A bike show at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds

It was an excellent day for a bike show at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds.

The parking lot was a prelude to the show, put on by the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. Both clubs did a fantastic job presenting museum quality displays with bikes that ranged from well preserved survivors to absolute showpieces.

Some eye candy from the show and swap meet.

A late fifties XLH or XLCH

a TX or XS500 would have looked good in this lineup

this Enfield had a dual-range transmission

An early, Japan-only, Honda Dream. This bike was essentially a copy Zundapp, much was improved before Honda's deam came stateside.

Ultra light touring is nothing new. If you need me I'll be delivering the post to the English countryside.

Guzzis are are cool because a. Brando, b. Connery, c.CHiP, d. Dr. John. (I'll stop now)

This was my favotite bike of the show. The paint was amazing and every bit if it was restored to match.
the "Girl Meets Bike" bike and crew

made in St Paul, mn

An early 58 (I think) sportster parked in the swap meet area, copmplete with tent, duffle and a spare tire! At some point that cast primary cover was replaced with a stampped peice.
Swapmeet special

A Yamaha SRX.

Pop's CB550 made the trip. (I'll write a post on this bike someday)


Thursday, June 26, 2014

It's 9:00 PM. We're 300 miles from Chicago and wearing sunglasses.

It's 9:00 PM CDT in Minnesota and the sun is 1 degree above the horizon, you may know this as daytime. If I were in Louisiana right now the sun would be 11 degrees below the horizon and the sunset would come 45 minutes earlier. And that's why the Twilight Map is the map of the week.

I cut my grass at 9:15 last night, it was sunny. The cold dark winters of the north have transformed into the best riding weather or the year. It's 74 Fahrenheit (23 Celsius) and the sun will dip below the trees at 8:30, keeping us in twilight until 10:30.

In Copenhagen the sun sets at 9:57. The darkness doesn't come for another hour and a half!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dad's day week

A wedding, a bike show and a week spent off the grid with the family.  More to come when I get a second.

Good times!

Rev it up and go!

Guzzi love

Pop's CB made the trip


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Good morning St Paul!

Here comes the sun...

Pike Lake

Mississippi River is running high after all the rain.

Smith Ave bridge

And it's alright.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I needed a plan

October 2012 was warm. I took advantage of the sunny days and rode my new 1978 XS500E fifty miles from the previous owners garage to my own. It needed some maintenance items but the bike was in good working order. I was told it sat in a basement for most of the 90's before being given to its second owner. "Get this out of here and it's yours." The second owner used it for commuting once a week from 1998-2012. I think the commuting kept the bike in good working order.

If you spend any time looking in the classifieds you'll run across the following statement, "It doesn't get ridden as often as it should." This is often followed by information about his or her new family and other time commitments. I get it. A newborn will leave you in no condition to ride a motorcycle on public streets, with vehicles and other solid objects. With my child on the way, I needed a plan.

I rode a Moto Guzzi for 8 years and was feeling the need to downsize. The idea was to find a small displacement bike that's easy to work on and cheep to own.This would let me get some shop time in, something I enjoy, commute and explore the local roads. I knew I needed to keep my skills up and my stress levels (and cost) down while my wife and I started our new family.

For me, the decision to keep riding was a simple one.

Pike Lake in St Paul.

I really hit the jackpot with the XS500. This bike couldn't be simpler to work on (I hope this doesn't come back to bite me), it handles wonderfully and has enough power to cruise at 65 mph all day. The counter-balanced 500 cc twin was high tech in 73' when it was introduced as the TX500. In it's later years it gained a self adjusting cam chain tensioner, an access port to adjust the tension on the balance shaft chain and better cooling.

I have a new-found jealousy for EX500 and GS500 owners, the counter-balanced twin is a rev-happy setup.

Perfect perch for a short trip.
The majority of my riding is commuting on city streets and evening rides. On occasion I can pull off a one or two day ride, parenting is give and take.  

HWY 108 north of LaCrosse, WI
My first long day on the bike was a 330 mile trip in 90 degree weather. I was a little worried that the high temps and sustained 65 mph would put a strain on the 35 year old bike but it did great. I ran it from 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM stopping only for gas and a little lunch. No problems.

Early fall in Minnesota 2013

Lake Pepin

More on the XS500 at Motorcycle Classics.

Everything you need to know about the TX/XS500 at

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy doughnut day!

The first Friday in June is National Doughnut Day. It turns out it goes back to bringing doughnuts to wounded troops in France to help with morale.

It the spirit of morale boosting, here are some doughnuts for the troops.

Happy doughnut day!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dreams about falling.

First single track of the season is always an adventure. 

I love mountain biking, it's good for the reflexes. In many ways it's a lot like riding a motorcycle. You check over the bike make sure everything is in working order, throw on your gear and head off down the trail. Flying through the woods on a pedal bike takes self awareness, risk assessment and quick decision making. And the first time out is always a little sloppy. 

Aspen grove ( MORC site photo)
It amazes me how fast the trees, turns, rocks and roots come at me during that first half hour of riding. It's like I fell off the couch and am suddenly running through the woods. Thankfully, lap two always flows. I'm lofting the bike over roots, bombing through tight aspen groves and carving into berms. Completely confident in what I want the bike to do and that it will obey my commands. 

Some of the falling in a dream feeling can be attributed to rust but I suspect it has more to do with where I'm looking. I'm putting a 2 inch tire down an eighteen inch wide trail with rocks, roots and berms grabbing for my attention, branches slapping me in the face. Staring at that 2 inch tire will not get the job done. Looking far ahead is the only way to get the information you need to execute the task at hand. 

Don't tread on me!
Trust in your abilities and bike will have you flying down the trail in no time. The balancing act is to not over estimate your abilities, a line more safely crossed at ten miles an hour with a 30 pound bike. (and always with protective gear) A mountain bike will teach you about fatigue, judging road conditions and unexpected hazards; the real world has a funny way of hiding a stump in the grass, just tall enough to send you over the bars. 

On a sunny day when I'm in the rhythm and I have a few mile behind me I'm in most need of a ego check, something the trail is more than happy to provide. To head off any gremlins looking to intrude on my zen, I ask myself the following questions:  Are you having fun or scaring your self? Are you pushing your abilities? Are you fatigued? Is this the time an place to really push yourself? Sometimes the answer is YES! and you go for it, cannonball off the high dive! The trick is to know when.

Restored prairie at Salem Hills

Today's ride was a great shake down run, slow and steady. The trail was damp, the rust was thick and I'm getting over a late season cold. I picked my lines carefully and took in my surroundings. The trail runs through aspen and pine groves, around a few secluded duck ponds and through a restored prairie. I stopped to photograph a large painted turtle that was hanging out in the trail. I've also run into deer, turkeys and coyotes on this five mile loop.

Check out Salem Hills on the MORC site.

"Wheelie!" (I swear I don't teach him this stuff)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Right on man.

Mom's at the gym; kid is clean, calm and in the crib; new issue in the inbox; cold stout in the fridge. It's time for a beer on the deck. The lovely Mrs.North calls this "nudey-magazine day," although I can't see why. I mostly just thumb through it, check out the new models and toss it in the study for later reference. On occasion I read the articles.

I got in a quick bicycle ride before bath time. Every now and then the Boy climbs into the bike trailer and demands a ride. The dad abides. We stopped at the neighbors to play with the big kids and go down the slide. After twenty minutes of that he was feeling the need for speed again. We managed the trip with only one additional stop, I was avoiding any routes that passed our city parks. A blue VW micro bus sang it's siren song and demanded that we stopped and pointed while saying "hippie!" Kids love hippies, right on.

After the brew break I managed to get the grass cut and the car washed. I'm shooting for a balance between "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and "far out man." So far that's working for me but both tasks were long overdue. 

The Yamaha sits on its charger for now, tomorrow's another day. No "drop off" or "pick up" for this dad on Tuesdays. You gotta get it while you can.