June 4, 2000

more maintenance stuff
As you might remember, I am the slave to the Ducati dealer. So, I had ordered 3 new parts: a spare shift lever, a brake lever, and a clutch lever. They finally came in on Friday, so I left work early and went to the dealers to pick them up. That meant that Saturday afternoon was Play With The Bike time! Yay!

I was a little nervous about replacing the clutch and brake levers, since, well, shifting and braking are rather important to my overall biking experience. My fears were compounded by the fact that my old friend, the Clymer's manual, contains nothing whatsoever about either of these levers (true to form, neither "lever" nor "brake lever" nor "clutch lever," nor in fact, "clutch" at all are in the index.). I shouldn't have worried, though, it was really alarmingly easy. For the adventurous, there are pictures here (of course), but I'll just say that it wasn't any more complicated than unscrewing one bolt per lever, removing the old lever, and replacing it. The clutch lever had a cable, but since I have hydraulic brakes, there wasn't even anything connected to the brake lever. It was so easy that I was halfway done with the whole thing before Peter came outside with the camera.

washing the bike.
We took Peter's bike (and my car, though that's less interesting) to the coin-operated car wash this afternoon. We took the whole thing apart -- removed the seat, the back piece, the windshield, and both side panels -- and scrubbed it down with the Foam Brush (tm) and power-rinsed it. Advice for cleaning your bike this way: 1) make sure the engine is cooled off completely before going at it with the water. We did remember to do this. ;) 2) be really careful not to get water in the air intake. The bike made some really funky tinny noises when we started it up after the bath, and we think that's what happened. It seemed to run fine again after a few minutes, though.

keepin' it real.
So, I feel like I'm at the next stage of my learning curve. When I was riding around the Apple parking lot, I had Peter move the bike to his house just before I got really bored of the lot; in fact, I was worried at first that I was moving forward to the streets too quickly. I'm at that same stage now with the residential streets. I'm not quite at the point where I'm totally bored, but I am getting restless for "doing more" on the bike.

As I mentioned, Peter and I rode to the Old Navy by his house last weekend. That was easy; we took residential streets to the Big Strip Mall Parking Lot(tm) and then rode through the lot to the store. Today was a new challenge: the auto parts store.

We took the same initial route that we did to get to Old Navy; residential streets to the big strip mall lot, but then we crossed a pretty major street to get to the Kragen's. I was actually pretty nervous in the lot this time, since we weren't sure exactly where the outlet to the street was, and there were a bunch of cars in the lot, driving in typical parking lot fashion. But all was well, and aside from one close call with an unexpected speed bump, it wasn't too nerve-racking at all.

Getting home from the Kragen's was a different story, though -- we had to turn right onto the major street from the Kragen's lot, and from there, we turned left onto an Actual Real Street With Cars And Street Lights And Everything. I'm proud to say that I did very well; I was groovin' down the big street in 3rd gear, feeling the wind sweep up inside my jacket and rush around the underside of my helmet. It was really incredible. Too soon, we made a left onto the residential street that took us back to Peter's -- we would have gone back out, but we were both pretty tired, so we decided to call it a day.

I'm still a bit uncomfortable making right-hand turns; Peter said that from watching me, he could tell that it was because I was waiting until the bike had started accelerating and my feet were up on the pegs before I made the turn. In a left-hand turn, that's fine, because I have to cross the street anyways, but there's no time for that when turning right and so my turns are a wee bit wide. So there's my practice item for the week. :)

i'm not going to start spouting poetry, don't worry.
The motorcyclist's slang for a car is a "cage," and today was the first day that I really understood why. After riding home from the Kragen's, on "real" streets for the first time, it was immensely disappointing to get back in my car and drive home. Sure, it was physically more comfortable, and I only had to worry about one foot and one hand at any given time, and the Talking Heads were in the CD player... but there wasn't the rush, there wasn't the feeling that you could just reach forward and touch the car in front of you. I was back to looking at the world from behind a huge windshield; I'm not really interested in having that big pane of flexiglass there anymore.

It's interesting how my frustrations are changing. I used to be content riding as a passenger on Peter's bike -- it was exciting and thrilling and all that good stuff. I used to get frustrated if Peter was tired, or we were going somewhere far away, or we had a lot of stuff to bring somewhere -- something that would require us to take a car instead of his bike. Now it frustrates me even to ride on his bike. If we go anywhere nearby together on his bike, I get frustrated because I'm not on my bike. If we go somewhere further away, I get frustrated because I'm not at the point yet where I can ride alongside him. It's really intense; kind of scary at the same time that it's really exciting.

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