alaska, here we come
Steph booked our passage on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry, travelling from Haines, AK to Bellingham, WA on June 28 - July 2, 2004. So we're, like, going and stuff.

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November 25, 2003

happy turkey day.
I really don't have much to report today, but I figured that I should say something before heading off to the homeland for a week. Because, y'know, November has just been overflowing with my literary contributions.

bandit updates.
Ha. There aren't any. Though Peter and I are considering getting a sandblaster so that I can strip the paint off of the wheels and frame myself. Got any sandblaster stories? Let me know.

svs updates.
I finally replaced the alternator cover gasket, in the hopes of stopping the chinese water torture oil drip. It seems to have been successful; I haven't noticed any oil droplets on the garage floor since I put the new gasket in.

Removing the alternator cover, especially for the first time on any given bike, is always an unnerving experience. I appreciate that the cover must be on tightly, but anything that requires a crowbar and mallet to pry off makes me a little nervous. But whack and pry I did, and was rewarded with the beautiful sight of a pristine stator and rotor. You know you're a hopeless nerd when stator coils make you oooh and ahhh.

The only really exciting part about replacing the gasket had nothing to do with the gasket or alternator at all. In order to remove the alternator cover, I had to remove the clutch release assembly, since the latter sits in front of the former. I must have had my head lodged up my ass when I replaced the clutch release assembly, as the next day, my commute got a little interesting.

About 8 miles into the commute, the bike started stuttering. Not an "I've run out of gas!" stutter or any sort of power loss; rather, it felt like I was squeezing the brake really fast over and over. I ended up leaving work early that day, and the return trip exhibited the same crazy stutter. It was really disconcerting. I've run out of gas before, and have experienced power loss, and this was nothing like that. I can't even describe it, which is a little depressing given that I'm a writer.

I'm guessing that it was clutch chatter from having adjusted the clutch release assembly utterly incorrectly. I couldn't hear any of the telltale audible clatter, but I was on the freeway and wearing earplugs, so that doesn't mean that it wasn't there.

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to redo the clutch release assembly until Sunday morning. I just removed it again, and actually paid attention to what I was doing when I reinstalled it. Because I am the World's Lamest Human, I haven't actually test-ridden it yet to see if that fixed the chatter, so I can't yet say definitively that that's what the problem and solution were.

commute update.
Given the above paragraph, you can probably guess that I've been driving my car to work this week. This isn't actually due to the cold wave we're having (though I thought I'd left scraping ice off of car windows back in Wisconsin!) but rather that I had to haul a cat to the vet yesterday, and my suit's going into Helimot today for a tune-up. Normally, I'd just ride in wearing my winter jacket and jeans, but jeans in 38F temperatures didn't sound so nice to me this morning.

Taking the car is reminding me why I suffer through winter on the motorcycle. I commute during the same hours as every other sucker in the Bay Area, and not being able to use the carpool lanes is really painful. I also had the distressing realization on the way home last night that I cannot lanesplit in my car. I had to sit in all the backed-up traffic lines all the way home. Lame! The only upside was that I could listen to jazz on my iPod and pretend to relax a little. I'm looking forward to getting my custom made earplugs with built-in headphones that I ordered at the bike show.

other updates.
I was really bummed when Alex told me that Laura Brengelman had left RoadBike magazine -- not only was Laura a great writer and fun to read, but it was great that a nation-wide mainstream newsstand magazine had a female editor. I loved it that RoadBike published articles by and photographs of women riding bikes right alongside men, without drawing any attention to it whatsoever. What made it perfect was that it was so matter-of-fact; why wouldn't there be female contributors and road testers? Anyway, when I found out that Ms. Brengelman had moved on from the magazine, I was worried that the tone of the magazine would change.

So I was thrilled beyond words last night to get the new issue and read that Jessica Prokup is the new editor! I've loved reading her columns and road tests since she joined the magazine a few months ago, and I literally pumped my fist and cried "yes!" when I saw that she'd been promoted (thereby scaring and scattering cats all over the living room).

Excellent choice, RoadBike, and congrats, Jessica. :)

While I'm blabbing about miscellany, I came across a fabulous website for travel writers the other day: written road blog. It's done by Jen Leo, who edited the short story compilation Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures. Her blog is fantastic: informative, funny, helpful, personal, and overall a great resource for travel writers.