A Farewell to Chicago Vintage Motorcyclists

As I sit in my new living room in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, I can’t help but miss the motorcyclists and friends from Chicago Vintage Motorcyclists that helped me make my riding life in Chicago utterly fantastic.  One week in, and with the weather closing in, I expect that my garage will be much quieter than it would 3oo miles to the West-Southwest.  Those Wednesday Night Garage Nights were so much fun — I wish I had attended more.  Still, the rides to Southwestern Wisconsin, around town, Rockerbox, Mods and Rockers, Acetoberfest and others, it made the roads around Chicago more than bearable.

Chicago has very little going for it, motorcycle-wise.  No topography.  Few good roads.  REALLY lousy drivers.  6 decent curves in the whole town, maybe.  Still, a late afternoon ride with a bunch of friends in old BSAs, Triumphs, Hondas, a Vincent or two and a smattering of BMWs makes a cruise around the city like a nice weekend ride on the Isle of Man.

Enthusiasm counts.  The ChiVinMoto group exudes enthusiasm and love of the “perfect machine”.  It’s a truly American group, with no hierarchy, no “right” bike to have, and absolutely no class structure.  Income, education, race, occupation or age have no bearing once you throw a leg over the bike.  It’s about the ride, the machine and the comraderie.  Liberty, Egalitie´, Fraternity.  More American than any group I’ve ever been a member of.

Things I’ll miss most are the “Tiddler” ride for small displacement bikes held once or twice a year.  The great vintage bikes from Laverdas, Vincents and BSAs to great early Japanese bikes and BMWs airheads.  Rockerbox in Milwaukee.  Acetoberfest at Chad’s garage — Ace Motorcycle and Scooter Co.  And especially Mods vs. Rockers Chicago.  If you’ve never been to MvR, you haven’t made enough riding friends.

I remember riding back from a Slimy Crud Run a few years’ back, freezing my butt off and riding with a group that were better riders than I, and knew the roads of Southwest Wisconsin far, far better.  We rode as the sun went down, the cold sucking the heat from our bodies.  At each stop or intersection when it was time to make a turn, the leaders would stop and wait to make sure the backmarkers made it back to more navigable territory.  I remember when I finally got home I took a hot shower until I ran out of hot water.  My legs were still cool to the touch hours later.  Bliss.

See you all soon.  Keep shifting with your right foot and stay in the saddle.  You’re all wonderful people.

Comcast #Fail.

I know that I owe an article on my V7 Classic – it’s been 20K miles now and I’m ready to put it up for the winter.  I don’t want this blog to be about rants for service, but Comcast has been exceptionally bad.  I’ve had Comcast for the last 15 months in Detroit. I have DirecTV in Chicago. There is no comparison. Love DirecTV. Comcast…. Not so much…

Here is a transcript of my communication with Comcast’s customer service. My Issue: Channel 224 (FXHD) every week during the Sons of Anarchy show has gone out (3 weeks in a row). Only during this show.

RuthSCNV: Thank you for taking your time to contact us. I will be very glad to help you from here on. I hope your day is fine

RuthSCNV: Danilo, I certainly don’t want you to miss cable channel 224 that you are suppose to have.

Danilo: Well, I follow this show for years. For the last 3-4 weeks, the reception (sound and picture) have gone out. For this show only.

RuthSCNV: Let me try to pinpoint what the problem is and work on getting this fixed for you.

RuthSCNV: Danilo, since it is the only channel that is having a reception problem, it only shows that the network provider itself is having a technical problem with their broadcast.

Danilo: yes

Danilo: Every week at the exact same time.

RuthSCNV: The possible causes of reception issues also are loose cable wire connection and weak signal.

Danilo: Only this channel? None of the others?

RuthSCNV: Please ensure that the cables at the back of the box going to the TV are all tightened.

RuthSCNV: Yes, that could be possible Danilo.

RuthSCNV: Kindly try also to slightly turn the cables to ensure its fittings are tight.

Danilo: They are all tight. I haven’t changed the position of the TV or wires since the technician hooked it up 15 months ago.

Danilo: There is never a problem except at this time.

Danilo: and on this channel. All other channels are fine at the moment.

RuthSCNV: I understand that.

RuthSCNV: Let me check our Outage Board System about any common issue in FXHD channel.

RuthSCNV: Please give me a minute.

Danilo: no problem

RuthSCNV: Thank you for patiently waiting.

RuthSCNV: I apologize for the delay.

Danilo: what did you find out?

RuthSCNV: We do have a number of reports from our Customers having the same issue.

RuthSCNV: No worries because the network provider are being notified about this.

RuthSCNV: There should no longer be further steps needed for you to take from this moment on. This is already well taken care of by our professionals to fix it the soonest possible time.

Danilo: I’ve missed the last three weeks of the show. I pay $180 a month, and this is not satisfactory.

Danilo: Can you provide me with the closest office? I’ll turn my box in tomorrow and try a different provider.

RuthSCNV: Danilo, my apologies for the inconvenience you are having with your FXHD cable service.

RuthSCNV: I understand how frustrating this might be in your part as a customer, I apologize for the inconvenience.

RuthSCNV: I do very well feel how is it to be in the situation because I am also a customer when I am not at work.

RuthSCNV: It will be such a loss to Comcast if you switch provider.

RuthSCNV: Here’s what I can do.

RuthSCNV: Let me provide $20 credit adjustment in the account.

RuthSCNV: This is to compensate on the days that you were not able to enjoy the channel due to reception issue.

RuthSCNV: Would that be fine?

Danilo: Not really. I feel that if this were really a problem it would have been fixed the first week. I can’t believe that this has gone on for three weeks before any of your support staff would be made aware of it. There are very few shows that I receive through cable — I have internet options and I think that might be the best way to go. $20 is not compensation in this case.

RuthSCNV: I understand, I do really apologize on this.

RuthSCNV: What I can provide you now is the link for the Comcast Local Office Locator .

Danilo: thanks.It’s OK. It will make a good blog post.

RuthSCNV: Danilo, may I know what I can do for you now to be able to retain you as our Comcast Customer?

Danilo: I really don’t know. I’m just not getting value for the money. I’ll keep the internet service, but I think the cost of the TV isn’t really giving me the benefit. My bill for TV has more than doubled over the last year, and the service has deteriorated. I know that it’s not your fault, but cutting a $180 check every month and feeling like I didn’t get anywhere near the value, I don’t know what to say.

RuthSCNV: My apologies again about this issue. If only I could do something here in my end to control the situation and fix the network providers technical issue myself, I would glady do it to avoid inconvenient experience to our customers.

——–

I then got a link to find the nearest office.

Comcast, you’re the worst provider I’ve ever had.  DirecTV is miles ahead of you in price and in service.  They even have the HD channels in the right place, not CBS on 232.

Sigh — Sometimes You "Don't" Meet the Nicest People on a Guzzi!

The day started off nice enough — cloudy, but mild temps in the 70s.  Good day for a ride from Detroit to Pentwater to meet up with my wife and daughter and celebrate a good friend’s 60th birthday.  No hurry to get there, either — I was an hour ahead of Sheila at least since she was coming from the Central Time Zone, and Chicago traffic would probably burden her further.  Mild weather and my bags packed, I decided to roll out and just get lost on the way to Pentwater, specifically our hotel in Ludington, and travel through some of Michigan’s back roads.

Wow.  So beautiful once you get off the main roads.  Rustic barns, silos, small towns with old storefronts, buildings that give you the sense of history;  Europeans have been traipsing all over the Michigan Peninsula for 300+ years, and I can see why.  At least in the summer, the place looks like Northern England — I’ll bet before the shipwrights completely deforested the island, especially.

This Friday being the kick-off to the Fourth of July Weekend, I was wondering what happened!  No bikes on 96 on the way out of town, but as soon as I turned on the back roads, they were everywhere.  I stopped at two gas stations and spoke with couples on HDs rocking easy through the back country, not a care in the world and very pleasant.  Especially true to this were the couple of riders and pillions in Oceana — they were from Oklahoma and had been travelling for a week.  Made the trip around Lake Michigan and were headed back to Chicago and then down Rt 66 to their home state.  Ear-to-ear grins on their faces — their wives mimicking with their air-adjustable seats and all the commo gear.  Making memories.

Michigan is bereft of diners.  They’re out there, but not nearly as ubiquitous as some of the other states I’ve lived in.  Finally found one near Hardy Damn for breakfast and time to sit out a rain storm.  Gotta look the name of that one up.  The owner rides, but his wife won’t let him park the bike in front of the diner — he was awesome for getting me directions from where I was to where I needed to be, since AT&T and Google Maps had me roughly 3 miles south of where I actually was.  Rode through wonderful lanes that were broadleaf-tree tunnels, nice curves with little or no rocks and dirt — the wet road and unknown traffic patterns kept the speed out of me — I just cruised through the turns, braking easy, leaning smooth and just blissing out until I had to get on Michigan 31 North from Oceana to Ludington for the final leg of the trip.

And that’s where things just got stupid.  For the first 5-8 miles on the Highway it was one lane with construction, but traffic still managed to move along at 60.  The fun started when it finally opened up to two lanes.  I was able to move through the stagger in the traffic since most of the cars in the left lane wanted to pass but, due to their size, had to wait.  I zipped in the wide gaps (most Michigan drivers are actually awesome — they are motorcycle-aware and let you in) and slowly made my way through the logjam — until…

Going to the right of a slow-moving mid-sized pickup with a camper shell, I suddenly realized that the driver had sped up and “shut the door” on me with a slow car moving in front.  At that point I moved in behind because I had nowhere else to go. I’m now uncomfortable.  BRAKE LIGHTS — I’m already braking and slowing trying to get distance from the bumper, and driver pulls a “brake check” on me — I look at in the pickup’s window and an woman is looking in her mirror at me and shaking her finger like “I saw you trying to get around me…”

Then she moves over into the right lane, I guess to let me pass.  I decide it’s time to drop the hammer and just get out of there.  Road rage has left me years ago — I’m too old to deal with drivers like this.  As I pull around her, I see her cell phone sticking out of the car as she’s trying to take a picture of me, wildly trying to stay in her lane — it’s time to get out of there.  I gesture to her with a number that let her know that she was #1 in my book and then scooted.

3 miles later I’m at the Luddington exit, pulling into city traffic — and there she is behind me with her camera!  I just ignore her.  Realizing that I have no idea where the hotel is and that I need to check in, I sit in the bumper-to-bumper traffic and she sits on my tail.  I’m thinking that she has some road rage issues and decide that the better part of valor is to leave the situation; just get in the other lane, then make a right turn.  I get in the right lane, signal right.  She cuts off a car behind me and follows me down the street.  I stop.

She pulls alongside and sticks out her hand as if I’m supposed to shake it, holding her camera.  She blurts out her name is “Val”.  I decide this is too much.  I’m getting creeped out, feeling like in that old black truck with the cracked windshield and wild-eyed operator there just might be a loaded gun.  I’m on vacation and I need to get the hell out of this situation! I drop the bike in first gear, drive around a few blocks as she follows, then finally lose her.  Bike gets parked in the back of my hotel on the other side of town, opposite from where I was so if she’s still looking around for me, we’re not going to run into each other.

Oh my GOD.  Every once in awhile I run into people that have to act as “regulators” and control how other people act in traffic.  I haven’t seen one like this for awhile. Could I have handled it better?  Yes.  I should have backed off and let her get ahead of me, but I thought taking the first exit would have been enough. Sometines you just run into people that take great umbrage at motorcyclists having an advantage of getting through traffic easier — thank heavens that in California people like her can be charged with attempted murder.

Wherever you are Val, I can’t believe your life is so small and shallow, and you’re so mean-spirited.  You need to get some help before your road rage kills a less-experienced rider.

Sigh — Sometimes You “Don’t” Meet the Nicest People on a Guzzi!

The day started off nice enough — cloudy, but mild temps in the 70s.  Good day for a ride from Detroit to Pentwater to meet up with my wife and daughter and celebrate a good friend’s 60th birthday.  No hurry to get there, either — I was an hour ahead of Sheila at least since she was coming from the Central Time Zone, and Chicago traffic would probably burden her further.  Mild weather and my bags packed, I decided to roll out and just get lost on the way to Pentwater, specifically our hotel in Ludington, and travel through some of Michigan’s back roads.

Wow.  So beautiful once you get off the main roads.  Rustic barns, silos, small towns with old storefronts, buildings that give you the sense of history;  Europeans have been traipsing all over the Michigan Peninsula for 300+ years, and I can see why.  At least in the summer, the place looks like Northern England — I’ll bet before the shipwrights completely deforested the island, especially.

This Friday being the kick-off to the Fourth of July Weekend, I was wondering what happened!  No bikes on 96 on the way out of town, but as soon as I turned on the back roads, they were everywhere.  I stopped at two gas stations and spoke with couples on HDs rocking easy through the back country, not a care in the world and very pleasant.  Especially true to this were the couple of riders and pillions in Oceana — they were from Oklahoma and had been travelling for a week.  Made the trip around Lake Michigan and were headed back to Chicago and then down Rt 66 to their home state.  Ear-to-ear grins on their faces — their wives mimicking with their air-adjustable seats and all the commo gear.  Making memories.

Michigan is bereft of diners.  They’re out there, but not nearly as ubiquitous as some of the other states I’ve lived in.  Finally found one near Hardy Damn for breakfast and time to sit out a rain storm.  Gotta look the name of that one up.  The owner rides, but his wife won’t let him park the bike in front of the diner — he was awesome for getting me directions from where I was to where I needed to be, since AT&T and Google Maps had me roughly 3 miles south of where I actually was.  Rode through wonderful lanes that were broadleaf-tree tunnels, nice curves with little or no rocks and dirt — the wet road and unknown traffic patterns kept the speed out of me — I just cruised through the turns, braking easy, leaning smooth and just blissing out until I had to get on Michigan 31 North from Oceana to Ludington for the final leg of the trip.

And that’s where things just got stupid.  For the first 5-8 miles on the Highway it was one lane with construction, but traffic still managed to move along at 60.  The fun started when it finally opened up to two lanes.  I was able to move through the stagger in the traffic since most of the cars in the left lane wanted to pass but, due to their size, had to wait.  I zipped in the wide gaps (most Michigan drivers are actually awesome — they are motorcycle-aware and let you in) and slowly made my way through the logjam — until…

Going to the right of a slow-moving mid-sized pickup with a camper shell, I suddenly realized that the driver had sped up and “shut the door” on me with a slow car moving in front.  At that point I moved in behind because I had nowhere else to go. I’m now uncomfortable.  BRAKE LIGHTS — I’m already braking and slowing trying to get distance from the bumper, and driver pulls a “brake check” on me — I look at in the pickup’s window and an woman is looking in her mirror at me and shaking her finger like “I saw you trying to get around me…”

Then she moves over into the right lane, I guess to let me pass.  I decide it’s time to drop the hammer and just get out of there.  Road rage has left me years ago — I’m too old to deal with drivers like this.  As I pull around her, I see her cell phone sticking out of the car as she’s trying to take a picture of me, wildly trying to stay in her lane — it’s time to get out of there.  I gesture to her with a number that let her know that she was #1 in my book and then scooted.

3 miles later I’m at the Luddington exit, pulling into city traffic — and there she is behind me with her camera!  I just ignore her.  Realizing that I have no idea where the hotel is and that I need to check in, I sit in the bumper-to-bumper traffic and she sits on my tail.  I’m thinking that she has some road rage issues and decide that the better part of valor is to leave the situation; just get in the other lane, then make a right turn.  I get in the right lane, signal right.  She cuts off a car behind me and follows me down the street.  I stop.

She pulls alongside and sticks out her hand as if I’m supposed to shake it, holding her camera.  She blurts out her name is “Val”.  I decide this is too much.  I’m getting creeped out, feeling like in that old black truck with the cracked windshield and wild-eyed operator there just might be a loaded gun.  I’m on vacation and I need to get the hell out of this situation! I drop the bike in first gear, drive around a few blocks as she follows, then finally lose her.  Bike gets parked in the back of my hotel on the other side of town, opposite from where I was so if she’s still looking around for me, we’re not going to run into each other.

Oh my GOD.  Every once in awhile I run into people that have to act as “regulators” and control how other people act in traffic.  I haven’t seen one like this for awhile. Could I have handled it better?  Yes.  I should have backed off and let her get ahead of me, but I thought taking the first exit would have been enough. Sometines you just run into people that take great umbrage at motorcyclists having an advantage of getting through traffic easier — thank heavens that in California people like her can be charged with attempted murder.

Wherever you are Val, I can’t believe your life is so small and shallow, and you’re so mean-spirited.  You need to get some help before your road rage kills a less-experienced rider.

Dell ASAP Software. @FAIL @UNBELIEVABLE FAIL

So I’m writing this as I sit on hold, waiting to get some information about the Adobe CS5 Premier Suite that I ordered a month ago.  I received some kind of license certificate in the mail with absolutely no instructions.  Of course I called Adobe, and these numbers mean absolutely nothing to them, so I’ve lost an hour there, mostly on hold.

So now I’ve been on hold with Dell for 15 minutes.  Do they have hold music?  NO.  They have some cheerful, clipped female voice that asks me to continue to hold, and then they try to sell me Microsoft Office.

Then they try to Sell me SQLServer.

Then Adobe Creative Suite 5.

Then they tell me they have 150,000 title for favorable bulk licensing programs.

Then they tell me that they work with Federal Agencies, and tell me to get in touch with software accounting.  Good to know in case I ever work for the government.

Then they thank me for holding, and tell me that they value my business.

Then the string of completely annoying commercials, over and over again.,

And again.

And again.

Whomever decided that it was a GREAT idea that they could try to sell me software and services while I’m sitting on hold frustrated with the purchase that I have already made is a complete dimwit.  I hope your boss (who I’m sure you gave this idea to thinking it would further your career is reading this)  because you made him look like a complete douchebag.

Moto Guzzi Clubman Racer Special — Limited Availability NOW!

Hurry!


The Moto Guzzi V7 Racer is retro perfection, but if you want one in the States you’re going to have to hurry. In an email sent to dealers earlier today, it was revealed that the Racer will be manufactured to order only and that those orders will only be open through February 28. The good news is that this bike only demands a $791 premium over the avocado green V7 Cafe; the Racer is going for $9,790! Editor has a V7 Classic and rides it tens of thousands of trouble-free miles a year.
Reputable dealers are the way to go on this one! They’ll only make 50 or so and then they’ll be gone forever! Check out Rose Farm Classics and ask for Jim if you don’t already have a favorite dealer, because he will become yours.

You couldn’t reproduce this bike on a V7 Platform for $2500. If you’ve been looking for a nice V7 with mods, rearsets and sweet exhausts, now is the time to hit it! Once this run is over, it will not be made again.

Triumph Bonneville T-100 Review, Part 3: A Proper English Bike

I used to live in Northridge, California, right under the flight path of Van Nuys Airport, which is a very busy, if not the busiest, private airport in the United States.  I’d work on cars and bikes in my driveway on weekends, soaking up the California sun and painfully stretching the back of my legs as I bent over the fender of my Citroen DS 21 or hunched over one of my Guzzis.  All good fun, what with the planes buzzing over my head, and the executive jets taking off to executive locations for executive weekends.  Jets and Lycoming engines all day long just didn’t get me to look up.

But, once every weekend or so, a low, powerful drone would shake the windows, and every motorhead in Northern Los Angeles would look up.  They looked up because they knew.  They looked up because that drone was connected to a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.  There were a few North American P-51 Mustangs flying out of Van Nuys, and these planes were powered by The Mother of All Engines.  This is the Engine that won a war.  This is the Engine that powered less than 1000 planes that, in 1940, took “The Few” RAF pilots into battle against the Luftwaffe.  This engine saved a nation, and once you hear that and make the connection, you just have to look up when it’s overhead.

27 liters of pure victory. click for a nice big picture.

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