and you all knew me way back when.
Apparently, the editor of the Women on Wheels magazine liked the picture that I submitted for my column headshot. :)

This issue (March/April) marks the beginning of my regular column for the WOW magazine. The magazine is only sent out to members of WOW, which is a great excuse for all you slackers to join up and read even more of me every two months (hey, Peter, I'm talking to you here).

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March 14, 2003

arizona updates.
  • I'm putting together my list of books to bring along on the trip. I'm not actually this well-organized; I've just recently heard about a lot of books I'd like to read, and a solo 2-week trip seems the best time to knock through the list. This, naturally, is going to drive me batty through the next four months. Patience is not a strong suit.
  • It's ridiculously difficult to find a print version of historical markers for Arizona, Nevada, or Utah. I finally found one for Nevada, but for the others, I'm going to have to note which counties I'll be riding through and print a list out from online sites. This annoys me.
  • I recently joined the US chapter of the Women's International Motorcycle Association, and it turns out that one of the Australian members will be at the Rally in Prescott. I'm going to try to hook up with her and maybe do some riding. :)

fun with maintenance.
So, last night, I continued the epic saga that has been checking the valve clearance on the Bandit. Since I've done approximately eighteen million valve adjustments, I don't actually need to refer to the manual at all, right?

I remember at some point in the evening thinking that the crankcase cover was on unusually tight. Normally, alternator cover bolts are torqued on, but once they're removed, the cover itself will pop right off with a rap of the mallet. Not so last night. The cover actually bit off a nice chunk of my rubber mallet. This should have been my first clue, but I can be very dense sometimes, so I kept going.

Eventually, I got the cover pried open a little -- enough to shove a large flathead screwdriver in and use it as a chisel (with help from the mallet, naturally). After a few good thwaps, the cover fell off, to reveal......the starter clutch.

I sat and stared at the starter clutch for a good two minutes solid. I stared at the gears. I stared at the wiring. I stared at the utter lack of alternator behind that crankcase cover.

Slowly, I stood up and walked over to the manual. Right there, under "valve clearance check" (Chapter Two), was the instruction to remove the "valve timing plug on the clutch cover". Not the clearest instruction in the world, but I had to admit that it did, in fact, say "clutch cover". I walked back over to the bike. I walked back to the manual. I read "Chapter Three: Engines" twice through.

I admit defeat. The Bandit won. The damn alternator is on the right hand side, next to the clutch plates, and the starter clutch/motor is on the left hand side. This is unnatural and goes against god and country, but there you have it.

other little random updates.
Did I mention that Stephanie and I are co-chairing this year's Pacific Rally? Because, y'know, I have a lot of free time. It's actually going really well; the committee is almost filled, and I'm almost done with my self-imposed tasks for March. We're going to have it at the Pine Acres Resort again, since everyone had such a great time there last year.

The historical markers photo tour is coming along well -- it's turning out to be more fun than I'd thought. It's like a scavenger hunt, trying to find some of these damn markers. I got quite the workout last Saturday, pushing the SVS around these dirt and gravel parking lots. At one of the sites, I was pushing the bike uphill in gravel to pose it with the marker, and some punk-in-a-yuppie-sort-of-way guy in a red sportscar pulled up next to me. "Is your hair blue?" he asked. I said that yes, in fact, it was. He launched into a monologue about blue hair and how it was very cool indeed and how it'd been a really long time since he'd seen anyone with blue hair (??). At some point, he interrupted himself to ask, "hey, and you have a motorcycle, too!?". I have no idea what gave him that idea, since I was pushing the damn thing uphill in gravel, wearing full leathers, and I was very tempted to tell him that, hey, if he was going to waste both of our time by hitting on me, he should at least get out of his car and offer to help push.

At any rate, I have nine historical markers down now; only 41 to go.

It's supposed to rain all weekend, so there probably won't be much riding going on. I'm going to kipnap Mark tomorrow and make him go to Helimot with me. I really need to get some leather cleaner and chisel the bugs off the suit from last weekend.