Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Epilogue

So, as you know, I made it to California, finally (albeit not with the Ducati), without the slightest of problems.  I did make it back, too, but with a little help from my friends, pictured at left.

0800 hours - depart San Diego

80 mile point (aka - in the middle of the desert) - in a dramatic cloud of white smoke, dump ALL of your coolant.  Hmm.  This is going to be a problem, no?  Be grateful because:
  • You can dismantle practically your entire motorcycle with your leatherman.
  • Because the screw that holds the stray coolant hose decided to lodge itself in the hose well, rather than go skittering onto (or off of) the highway, somewhere.... anywhere...  Metric screws are not easily replaced in the middle of nowhere.
  • And finally, be VERY grateful that this particular "middle of nowhere" happened to house a border patrol checkpoint. So you could actually refill your motorcycle with water after repairing it.  I carry water, but not THAT much.

130 mile point - fill up with gas, peer at hoses and fluid levels.  Hmm.  Oil is down.  Note that your valve cover gasket appears to be self-destructing.  Pick up some gasket goo at the truck stop, apply, add oil.  (Aren't you glad you packed some of your motorcycle specific oil, just in case?)

260 mile point - fuel up, reassess.  Apply more gasket goo. Reattach license plate that is hanging on by a thread with zip ties. No self respecting motorcyclist EVER leaves home without zip ties.

1600 hours and 400 mile (or so) point - arrival!  400 miles and three roadside repairs in 8 hours.  Not bad!

16:10 hours - fall asleep

Next day - order new gasket.  Here we go again...

Yes, there is packing tape in that picture.  Guesses? (from those of you who don't already know what I love to use it for)


Due to popular request (that means by more than one person! By some people I haven't even met, believe it or not!), I've added ways to subscribe to this silly blog of mine. For email notification, look at the top right of the page. At the bottom right of the page you can "follow" or get notifications on your browser bookmark bar. Hope it works! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In California! (On a Kawasaki)

So, yeah, my last blog post? That was me sitting on my bike, holding one of the offending bolts. And the background? We're not in Tucson anymore. (Not everyone caught all the significant points of that photo.)

Yes, I made it to California! San Diego, to be specific. Not the extended trip I had originally planned, and not on my Ducati, but... Kawasaki, meet the Pacific Ocean!

I arrived a bit ahead of schedule, so while awaiting my good friend and host, soprano extraordinaire Stephanie Sabin, I enjoyed a turkey pesto panini, espresso, and tasty macaroon at Twiggs Bakery and Coffeehouse. It felt good to kick back after a 465 mile ride!

The next morning I took on the role of pillion, or motorcycle passenger, something I enjoy almost as much as doing the driving myself. My Most Excellent Tour Guide (or METG, as I shall now refer to him) was none other than the Ducati Instigator himself, guilty of alerting me to the availability of Ducati Monsters on Craig's List. He picked me up bright and early on his... his... Honda Goldwing! This is a different beast than any bike I had ever been on before, and, to use his own words, is sometimes referred to as a "geriatric" model. This is a seriously big bike, and as comfy and luxurious as they get. A couch on wheels! (Actually, it's safe to say it's quite a bit larger than my couch.) Here's the thing neither of us expected: I, uhhh.... don't know how to get on the thing! It's so big that I can't do the "swing the leg over the back" maneuver. I never did find a good way to do it, much to my pilot's (and my!) embarrassment. I think the running start was my best attempt. But once in my seat, I felt like Queen Cleopatra floating down the Nile. And despite its "geriatric" label, it had more "get up and go" than I would have guessed. I know all you sport bikers are guffawing, and I suppose I would be too, but I did indeed have a surprisingly fine time aboard this well appointed machine. Any ride with two wheels is a good ride!

We grabbed some coffee and crepes at Babbo Grande (what's up with their goofy seating restriction at 7 am? They're not THAT good.) and hit the road.

First stop, Julian, CA, just in time for its annual "Apple Days." The pie wasn't pretty, but it sure tasted fine!






Next stop, Henshaw Lake and Palomar Mountain. The Goldwing performed admirably, but roads that twisty call out for my Ducati. I admit I found myself missing it. No surprise there, my METG warned me I would.

I snapped this one from the back of the (moving) bike. Not bad!




Then on to Callaway Vineyards and Winery, where my METG is a member. Nice perk! I got to taste five wines followed by a port with an accompanying bite chocolate. My votes went to their "Dolcetta" and red Zinfandel. (Let me just point out here that six tastes are the equivalent of one glass of wine, and we were there several hours... you do the math. We were fine.)






And then over the Ortega Highway to Laguna Beach for a little picnic snack. (Sunset not shown.)







All and all a lovely day!


The next morning, Stephanie, her parents and I had breakfast at the aforementioned Twiggs, (Oh the choices - these people can seriously bake!) and then hit the Hillcrest Farmers Market. She had an agenda and schedule, and I was tripping gaily behind her, snapping photos, trying not to hold her up too long.









Quiz: What are these?









Then on to the Mission Bay area, to document the bike, the bolt, the water...



and La Jolla, too.




Next to St. Paul's Cathedral, to hear Stephanie sing her cleverly conceived concert, "Plaisir d'Amour." She'll be singing it again this spring... in Paris!

And finally, excellent Carnitas Tacos with Chipotle Black Beans at the after concert celebration of "Mexican Soul Food" at Barrio Star, courtesy of Stephanie's generous parents.




The following morning, the long ride home. How do you suppose the Kawasaki will fare? (Yes, that's a hint that this story isn't quite over...)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hah! I Win!


Heartfelt thanks to all who aided, abetted and otherwise cheered me on!* In order of appearance:
sksrverret, xDaveManx, 02_500R, alxb, Pogo, FOG, ShadesOfGray, jonh, Apriliarider, K-woppa, netjustin, twowheels, wickedsprint, in4mation, Knightslugger, House_of_Dexter, cathoholic, JK, E from SWMT, DN

* During the "Crap, I suck!" bolt mis-adventure.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dear Motorcyclist on the Red Buell...

Thank you for stopping at the crosswalk as my three legged Dalmatian and I were passing by. "Hey," you said, just as I reached the other side. I wondered, "How does he know I ride a motorcycle, too?" I turned and you did something odd. You lifted your pant leg, just a little, to show me your ankle. You're missing a leg, too! We both laughed, and then you were gone.

Stop, Rider on the Red Buell... what's your story? My dog and I would like to meet you!
You made my day. I hope my dog made yours, too.



Due to popular request (that means by more than one person! By some people I haven't even met, believe it or not!), I've added ways to subscribe to this silly blog of mine. For email notification, look at the top right of the page. At the bottom right of the page you can "follow" or get notifications on your browser bookmark bar. Hope it works!

Zen and the Art of... Chile Rellenos

Often, when I'm trying something new in the kitchen, I begin by referring to one (actually several) recipes, then pick and choose the ingredients and techniques I think might bring the result I'm after. While I'm waiting for my cylinder head bolts to arrive, I thought I'd work on my chiles rellenos. It's chile season, after all. I wasn't 100% happy with my last batch, which, admittedly, was created a few chile seasons ago. The batter was too cakey, the filling too plain. This attempt is closer, but next time I'll make the simple flour/water batter I've chosen a touch thicker.

I've been asked for recipes by more than one person. I'm flattered, happy to oblige, and I'll definitely try to add some of that to my blog. On the other hand, there has got to be at least 697,342 recipe blogs out there already, and I can't imagine I have something new or innovative to add. But that request, and the "Crap. I suck. Bolt Disaster 2010" as I'm now calling it, have got me thinking how similar cooking and motorcycle maintenance (or food photography, come to think of it, or flute playing, or any skill) really are. I, and those I'm asking, no doubt, get a good laugh at the questions I ask about motorcycle maintenance. "How many times, exactly, do I turn this bolt?" (Okay, I've never asked that, but I've come pretty close.) Honestly, you can read all the cookbooks you want, read every article out there on valve clearance adjustment, ask your photographer friends any number of questions, but when it comes right down to it, you've just got to get in there (kitchen, motorcycle engine, photography studio, wherever) and bust out some substandard work. Overcook a $75 pastured turkey for Thanksgiving, as I mentioned here. Irreparably blow out the background of a photo (like my grape photo here.) Or, even, ugh... break off three bolt heads in your motorcycle.


Due to popular request (that means by more than one person! By some people I haven't even met, believe it or not!), I've added ways to subscribe to this silly blog of mine. For email notification, look at the top right of the page. At the bottom right of the page you can "follow" or get notifications on your browser bookmark bar. Hope it works!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When the night is darkest, it is closest to dawn. Or whatever that saying is.

Okay, where were we? Oh yes...

...Idiot!

Because you used inappropriate tools for the job, KNEW it, and did it ANYWAY. Okay, there WAS a certain, if faulty, line of reasoning to your actions, but, still, it serves you right. "It seemed like a good idea at the time..." Uh huh. It always does, doesn't it?

Prepare yourself with mosquito repellent, fire ant spray, sunscreen and a hat. Eat something before you begin, I don't care if you just had breakfast an hour ago. You are hypoglycemic and if you get hungry during this procedure, you will most definitely sit down (on an ant hill, no doubt) and cry. Have a nice cheese melt topped with wilted amaranth greens tossed in olive oil, raw garlic and chile flakes. Tell your three-legged Dalmatian, that, yes, YOU CAN DO THIS. Wonder if she believes you. Wonder if YOU believe you. Take a deep breath, pick up that - oof! - heavy tool box, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Remove the pieces to get to the valve cover again. Remove the valve cover itself again and see what you've got to work with. Remember? Maybe... just MAYBE, there will be little nubs of bolt stem to grab with pliers or tweezers.


Please...



Please...



Pretty please...



...AaaaaHA!


The bolts are not stuck in the engine block proper, but in little easily removable pieces!

This... THIS... is a game changer. Your computer is not dead. You have NOT lost every byte of data. Golden beams of light emerge from the thunderclouds. Hosts of angels sing. There is... (breathy voice)... Hope.

At the very least, if you can not remove the bolt stems, you can slap on some lipstick and bring the little pieces to a real mechanic and plead for help. All is NOT lost. Your relief is immeasurable and you are already celebrating.

Remove cam caps (a.k.a. "little pieces in which the bolt stems are stuck".) Easy! Feel clever because you notice they are labeled so they can be replaced in the same position with the same orientation. You are brilliant!

Wrestle for an hour (Idiot!) with the surgical tools you own from your days as a veterinary technician, extracting two of the three bolt stems, being verrry careful not to damage the threads in the cam caps. Brilliant!

Wrestle for an additional hour on the final one, not getting anywhere. Idiot! Consider the use of power tools. Try the drill for one second. (Idiot!) Decide it is a very bad idea. (Brilliant!)

Stop. Put. The. Drill. Down. And. Think.

Wrestle a few moments longer. Arrrrrrrrghhh!

Epiphany: Idiot! (No, that part wasn't the epiphany.) The bolt stem is in there pretty loosely, there's just not enough of it exposed to grab, no matter how many cool, teeny surgical and flute repair tools you own. Use the corresponding "mating" surface of the head end of the broken bolt. Press it against the stuck stem piece to match up the parts, hold it there firmly while backing it (and the bolt stem!) out of the cam cap.

Feel illegitimately and unbelievably brilliant.

Illegitimately brilliant because:
A) It was your idiocy that got you here in the first place.
B) You kinda got tipped off that the bolts were stuck in removable pieces, not the engine itself. But you would have seen that for yourself as soon as you took off the valve cover again this morning, right? Right.
C) It took you two hours and one serious hand cramp to figure this out. (Idiot!)

Feel brilliant anyway, and enjoy it.

Write on the blackboard 100 times. "I will use the appropriate tools for the job. I will use the appropriate tools for the job. I will use the appropriate tools for the job..."

Go to the store and purchase said appropriate tools.

Realize that, because the stems backed out so easily using the broken bolt head, you probably didn't have to even remove the cam caps in the first place. In retrospect, you may not even had had to remove the valve cover (and all the pieces to get to the valve cover) again. Idiot!

Except you should clean out any metal shards anyway. Brilliant!

Thank your internet community profusely for seeing you through this mess without saying (aloud) how much of an idiot you are. Be amazed that you are not the only one to have done this.

Await replacement bolts. *sigh*
(Thank you, FOG!)

Acknowledge that until this bike is running and you are riding, you are not yet out of the woods.

Have another one of those apricot smoothies. Consider the rum suggestion.

Think to yourself that at least you re-installed the reed valves correctly. Wink. You know who you are.

Note: As you might have noticed in the photo, I use little applesauce cups to keep my moto parts and pieces organized.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Not in California. Not Riding a Ducati. Not Riding a Kawasaki. Staycation NON-Expedition.

Remember when I said my Kawasaki needed a bit of maintenance? To tell the truth, its rear tire was totally bald, it was about 10,000 miles past due for a valve clearance adjustment and carburetor synchronization (and is running like it), I'm sure it needs a new chain and sprocket, is also overdue for a fork oil change and could use a new neutral safety switch.

I'm not a mechanic. I don't want to be a mechanic. But my budget demands that I do this work myself whether I want to or not. So... I promised my trusty Kawi that if it got me home safely from the Grand Canyon (and I would not have blamed it if it hadn't) I would drag out the tools and get to work before riding it again. (Hopefully to CA! For a different trip. Later this month.)

Based on its symptoms, I though I'd start with the valve clearance adjustment (so easy, I'm told, even I can do it!) and carb sync, get a new tire, and finally replace that turn signal that's been repaired with packing tape for over a year. If THAT went well, maybe... MAYBE... I'll be brave enough for the chain (and neutral safety switch, while I'm in the neighborhood). I'm not sure about the forks.

Hurrah for the internet, where I find detailed instructions for the valve clearance adjustment! With pictures, even! I've never done this before and it sounds scary, as much as I'm told that if I've taken apart my carburetor (many times, thank you) then this will be a piece of cake.

Anyway... it's not important if you don't understand what I'm talking about. And if you do, well, don't laugh at me too hard, okay?

So off I go, with a stack of references in one hand and toolbox in the other to dive into the valve clearance adjustment. Shockingly, amazingly... this IS easy. I am so proud and I can not wait to announce to the EX500 online community that for ONCE, I have done some work on my bike without even one panicked SOS posting. But before I button her up completely, I figure I might as well put the wheel (with new tire) back on, clean the chain, mess with the turn signal, knowing that if something DOES go wrong when I start her up, those other chores will already be checked off the list.

Yay! It's time to close up the patient and wake her up! Just a few bolts to tighten and...

Snap. Snap. Snap.

This is not a good sound, friends.



See the bolt on the left? It's supposed to look like the one on the right. I bet you're wondering where the rest of it is. Why, it's lodged in the engine of my motorcycle! Irretrievably so, it seems. This is a grave error, people. You may not have broken off bolts (THREE of them!) in your beloved motorcycle before, but I bet you're familiar with the sickening feeling that I had. Ever had your computer crash, when you haven't backed up for, say, six months, and you fear all your photographs, work documents, banking records, emails, whatever data that is important to you are lost, lost, lost forevermore? All the while knowing you have only yourself to blame? THAT is how I felt. Because I broke them doing something stupid. By using the wrong tool to put them back. What's more, I KNEW I was doing something stupid WHEN I was doing it, but, for whatever reason, proceeded to do it anyway. Actually, I did have a (faulty) line of reasoning for this at the time, but I'm too embarrassed to explain.

Snap. Snap. Snap. That's the sound of another chance to ride California going down the drain. That's the sound of one very panicked post going up on EX-500.com. I'm going to have to extract these things aren't I? I'm guessing that much, and I know it requires a drill. Now, I'm not afraid of power tools per se, but putting one on the innards of the engine of my motorcycle is NOT something I want to do. One slip, one shard in the engine... you're done fer.

I'm going to be cool, here. Cover her up, think things through. Tomorrow is another day. After all, you're not a real back yard mechanic until you've broken off a few bolt heads. Maybe... just maybe... there will be a stub of a bolt stem to grab with pliers when I open up the cover tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.

What am I eating while working on my bike? Smoothies. Throw some OJ concentrate, ice cubes, yogurt, wheat germ, apricots (canned in UT!) in the blender, hit the button with the tip of your elbow (the only part of you not covered in grease) and slurp.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not in California. Not riding a Ducati. (Staycation Expedition No. 3)

Hello, Kawasaki! How very nice to see you again! My dear Kawi needs some work of its own, but these are desperate times. I'm going to Flagstaff for the weekend, holiday traffic be damned!

First I pass by Roosevelt Lake, the very same one I showed you here.

By the time I approach Payson, AZ, it's time for a gas stop and lunch break. Look what I find right in the gas station parking lot!





Indian Fry Bread (aka Doughboys, for those of you back east.) Resistance is futile.

Soon it becomes clear that I am not the only one seeking higher elevations and cooler temperatures for the weekend.

Okay... YOU. Yes, you. Go outside. Grab your bicycle brake lever. Gently vary the amount you pull in the lever, but don't release it. Do that for an hour. In triple digit temperatures. Wearing a helmet, of course, but also about 20 lbs of leather and armor. No cheating and standing in the shade, either. Hand tired? Getting a little warm? Thirsty? That's what it's like to be stuck in traffic on a motorcycle. It's not our favorite part of the game, but still, a bad day on the moto beats a good day in the car any day! Press on!

Sedona, predictably, is a mad house, but I manage a snapshot of its famous red rocks. Look out for that vortex!!




Nearby Oak Creek Canyon is cool, shady and delightful. I enjoy the twisty road, as do seemingly 3 million of greater Phoenix's 4 million people. I can't bear to stop for a photo. Get me out of here!!!

After a lovely evening, and restful night's sleep at "Spa DiBartolo," (my good friend's house in Flagstaff, and a place of down bedding, fine wines and luxury bath products), I'm ready to head out again. The Grand Canyon is so close, so close... but after yesterday's holiday traffic, do I dare? I think the better of it, and head off to slightly less traveled roads and places. I've never seen nearby Wupatki National Monument. No time like the present! I should have time to check out Sunset Crater Volcano, too. It's a beautiful, beautiful morning. Off I go...


...through high desert grassy plains...




...across fields of golden flowers...




...by landscapes whose only logical explanation is that you've been transported to Mars...




...and then...



... then...







Well, the motorcycle went the other way. They do that, sometimes. You might fully intend to turn right, and it turns left! You are powerless to stop it.

Tag! You're it, Big Ditch!!

How clever of me! In other words, by dumb luck, I entered Grand Canyon National Park, through its east entrance rather than the south. No mile long line of cars waiting at the entrance booth! No caravans of RV's to follow! For every traffic headache I had yesterday, today I had a pleasant surprise.

I've seen and hiked the Grand Canyon before, but still, you can't help but stop and gape dumbly at its, its... grandness!

Imagine, hiking over a landscape such as this:





for 10 miles.

Maybe 20.

Or 30.

Unsuspecting.

And then suddenly, you had to stop dead in your tracks, lest you fall into THIS enormous hole in the ground:






It's that unexpected and dramatic.

As I head out the south entrance, there it is. The mile long line of cars waiting to enter the park. But I'm going the other direction, free and clear, with hardly another vehicle on the road to bother me! Wheeeee!

I don't dawdle too much, though. I've got a dinner to attend at the friends of my friends. "He's a great cook. We're having lamb. You'll love it." "Cool," I think. I like lamb. I have NO IDEA what is in store for me.

We arrive at our plush and luxurious surroundings, filled with murals, rich fabrics and textured colors. Cheeses, sausages, wine and breads await. I soon realize this is no ordinary cheese platter. The cheeses are from all corners of Europe; a brie, a parmesan reggiano, a soft fresh white cheese I don't recognize, and a raw milk pecorino from San Gimignano, Italy. (I've been there before, it's lovely.) Three types of dry sausages as well - my favorite being a chorizo from Barcelona. Crusty fresh baguettes, and Italian breadsticks with a hint of truffle. But what brought this appetizer platter into the realm of exquisite was the array of accompanying condiments. Tiny apples the size of olives preserved in Armagnac. A spicy Sicilian pepperoncini jam. Reisling jelly. Guava paste. Almond spread. And, of course, a lovely red wine, the name and origin of which I can not remember.

Not a bad start, eh? I'd never met my hosts before that evening, so I had to contain myself to a certain extent. I took photos, as you see, but I didn't feel quite right arranging food on the platters for the sake of my camera lens, and running about the house turning this light on, that one off and the like. And I would have felt a little silly with notebook in hand, recording every detail. So, yes, I forget what the first wine we had was.




Now we gather at a beautifully appointed dining table. Polenta with truffles (black AND white!) garnished with perfect haricots verts, a citrusy, minty spinach and chickpea salad, a mixture of hearty grains covered with a generous snowstorm of parmesan reggiano (9 grains? was one of them red bhutan rice?). And the lamb, oh yes the racks of lamb. This is quality - glazed, cooked on a bed of herbs, and done Just So. Not one degree under. Not one degree over. That's key in cooking any protein, in my opinion, and anyone who gets this right scores high points in my book. A lovely Spanish wine, made by a friend of my host (if I recall correctly) completed the main course. Elegance surrounds us as we are serenaded by my host's daughter. Just 14 years old, she has the voice of an angel, and sang for us an aria from Handel's Alcina.






Shall we head back out side to the patio to enjoy the cool evening? There is not one, but two cakes to choose from. I opted for a marzipan cake with a chocolate-Vietnamese cinnamon ganache and candied violets. I was not disappointed. Dessert wine anyone? Red (a 12 year old Olivares - Spanish) or white (a floral sweet one from the German estate of Pfeffengen)?




The evening ends with something I've never even heard of before. This doesn't happen to me often, at least at the dinner table. Coffee as made in Galicia, Spain. What a spectacle! My host brings out a large low saucer, the size of a dinner plate, and pours into it a mound of sugar, strips of lemon zest and grappa, to stand in for the traditional Orujo. Flame it up and douse with a jug of excellent coffee, serve in smaller matching saucers, and you've got Queimada. What fun! And delicious!

Many thanks to my gracious hosts and new friends Harold and Diana. And apologies that my photos don't even begin to fairly represent your good offerings that evening.





Ah, all good Staycation Excursions must come to an end, and I headed back the next morning, choosing the simple beauty of the many lakes in the area over the hubbub of Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. It was a good choice. Fields of wild flowers so big and dense caught my eye from at least a mile away. And there was enough of a chill in the air to make my return to the hot desert air seem almost welcome.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Daily Special (Potato Butternut Rosemary Pavé)


I totally forgot about my "Daily Special" series. Shrug. Anyway, here's dinner tonight. Easy, easy. Slice up your root veggie of choice. If you use a mandoline (the preferred but not only tool for the job) DO use the finger guard and do NOT drink wine until the mandoline is safely put away. I speak from experience. I lost a neat 3mm slice off of my finger last spring during the fennel sorbet experiment. It regenerated faster than a lizard's appendage, but it still hurts. (The sorbet was fantastic. Never fear, I am quite confident that no pieces of my finger made their way into the final product.)
Anyway, douse your slices in cream and seasonings, layer them in a pan, squash 'em with a weight and bake for a long time. Slice into neat "cobblestones," brown in butter and enjoy! Some derivative of sauce espangole would add a nice touch, but, hey, it's a work night.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Not In California (Staycation Expedition No. 2)

So, I'm still not in California. But in keeping with my plan to visit nearby places I haven't yet seen, Staycation Expedition No. 2 was a geocaching ride to Organ Pipe National Monument, near Ajo, AZ (Round trip probably 270 miles.)

Again, I had to choose two of the three: water, rainsuit, lunch. I made lunch walk the plank and opted to forage for it along my way. I SHOULD have stopped for lunch at the Desert Rain Cafe, in Sells, AZ, to enjoy ingredients traditional to the Tohono O'odham people, such as cholla buds, mesquite beans, and saguaro fruit. But I guess having a new Ducati does something to your brain. I completely forgot that interesting eating opportunity. I'll definitely let you know about it next time I run up Kitt Peak.

Anyway, we've talked about this before. All hail the gas station hot dog!



And shouldn't every gas station in the middle of the desert have a casino? I'm a lazy gambler. Once I found out I had to buy tokens rather than getting to feed my money directly into the machine, I abandoned that idea. It's just as well. Little did I know, I was going to need my money soon enough.



Monsoon rains made the desert green and lush in areas.



Other areas, even just a few tenths of a mile away.... not so much.



Here's a nice view.




I should know, because I got to enjoy it for quite some time. This is exactly where my (practically) brand new, showroom spotless Ducati Monster 696 with only 1425 miles on the odometer sputtered to a stop. As in, not going anywhere. At. All. And, while AAA would keep me on hold long enough to drain my cell phone battery, they would NOT dispatch help, thanks to a glitch in my membership status. I stuck out my thumb, and hoped for the best.

It's always fun to make new friends while out riding.


When I emailed the above picture, and the one that follows to a friend (the very one who was instrumental in my acquisition of this bike - thank you, DN!!), with no explanation save the title "My Ride Today," he thought I had lost my license and the Ducati was being impounded. Sheesh!



Diagnosis: a seized exhaust valve in the horizontal cylinder. That's mechanic-ese for "Really, REALLY bad." And "Expe -eh -eh -ehn-SIVE!"

Good thing the repair is on Ducati's dime. I had three days left to the warranty!!