Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Going to Johnson Valley

There was another desert race but it was in a different location than the last two. This location was east of the I15 and north of Big Bear Lake in the desert in a vast uninhabited area whose population is only OHV users and rocks of all sizes. Since my VW van is great for camping but not for Interstate mountain climbing I search out a motel to spend my Saturday night as these races take a couple of days to do. Ridgecrest have several motels but Lucerne Valley (the closest) to the Checkers Race has according to the Internet has a couple and many years ago I did stay here somewhere once but in reality (life not the TV show) the two choices turned into one with one room available. Having a choice of my Nissan backseat as a bed and the ACE Motel (not the Bates) I picked the ACE. After booking my room for the night I proceeded to drive on east another 13 miles to the exit on the dirt road and drive over a rocky road north over another 7 miles to reach the sign up area at Rock Pile. The different motorcycle clubs were parked all over the place but I decided to park in the Checkers area close to the sound check. The road in was rough and I wanted to leave my trailer and bike here for the night and save wear and tear on the rig. At these races the motorcycles must pass a sound test before racing. There is a book at the sound test table that has the manufacturers specifications for each brand and the required engine rpm for a DB sound test. The club members perform a thorough check with a tachometer and a sound measuring instrument and you must pass the test to race.

I unloaded my bike, completed my entry paperwork and had the sound test performed passing with flying colors. Then I found the start area and rode the bomb course then did some exploring. I had rode a race here many years ago but nothing looked the same and most of the rocks had grown. When it got dark I drove back to the Bates Motel to clean up for dinner. The 24 hour gas station food looked better than the pool hall beer bar's food but my third and final choice was "The China House" and the food was a surprise, really, really good. The owner waited on the tables and menu was not fast food or steam table but as good as any on Broadway in Chinatown. Actually better than the last time I ate in Chinatown. The motel did have cable TV (4 channels) , a phone booth under the street sign and I had been warned to turn on the heater early in the day. The next day I was up before my alarm went off to search out the gas station for a cup of coffee and make the trip back out and find my Yamaha and trailer as I left it. After warming it up I was off to the starting line to join the rest of my class on the line. This race was a check race with each class starting at a different time. We were in the 12 row and the dust wasn't bad and off we went towards the bomb and the course. The bomb was flat then the course turned and headed for the hills and the rocks. Dodging rocks isn't bad but somehow on a steep downhill section a hidden rock jumped in front of my front wheel and I ate soil. The third time I went down (the first hidden rock had relatives through out my path waiting for me) my forged 6061 aluminum alloy unbreakable pivot design with a 3-year guarantee decided to test its warranty and cracked between the perch and the lever. With a very careful hand as so not to break it off I gently bent it back so the clutch could be used and continued on my journey. There were some garly rock gardens or dry waterfalls that were so hard they were laughable. In one tight section there were a dozen bike crashed and a couple of stuck quads but I continue on and after two hours started began getting tired. Right after the second check and about 25 miles out I ate it on a long up hill and the remaining clutch lever became two pieces.

I rolled back down the hill to the check area in hopes of repairing the broken lever but all I was able to accomplish was to attached the lever to the handlebar using my gas tank rubber vent hose and the duck tape holding my tank card on. This allowed me to start the motor and put it in gear but slipping the clutch that was needed to get me back up the hill and still in the race wasn't possible. The transmission on a motorcycle can change gears without using the clutch but controlling the speed without a working lever climbing or at slow speeds it dam near impossible. So my reward for the day was a big DNF but I did make it back to the truck without walking or riding in back of the sweep truck. Of course while I was trying to perform a miracle on the broken lever my Druid prayers were misunderstood and it started raining on me. After loading up the gear and still have a few bucks in my jeans I headed to Lucerne Valley liquor store to buy a lucky lottery ticket and party with the local women standing next door. The odds of finding five topless women are countless.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Standing On The Corner

To leave our house you can go north, west or south. It is best to avoid going south. A drive south on Cherry Street leads you to the local border crossing where the day workers stand, sit, play cards, block the street, block the sidewalk, making it almost impossible to use any of the remaining small business and the lumber yard. Wednesday morning, the first day after several days of rain brought out enough illegals to fill lots of buses for export. Today the count was less probably only numbering between 140 to 160. As the economy here goes south the poor in Mexico go north looking for work. The less work here the less remittance sent back to Mexico where remittance from illegals is only behind Mexico's oil exports for the countries income. This results in more poverty in Mexico causing more to come here seeking a change. When I was in the auto parts store here today I saw a flier from the City of Lake Forest (California) asking for inputs on how to improve the landscaping along the street shown. Our city government is spending money trying to find out how to improve the landscaping. My first suggestion: try removing the illegals pissing on the sidewalk.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Building a Box

When it is raining the mutants run out of things to do so the other night they started on building a box to ride on. When I was a kid during Lincoln's first term we were to busy with the war effort to spend time riding on boxes. Actually no one rode or jumped bicycles on and off of boxes when I was a kid. Jumping up a curb was a big deal, still is for me. Once when I was delivering newspapers before sun rise with a ton of Examiner's on my rear rack I tried to clear a curb and didn't make it. Have been afraid of curbs ever since.

The crew started with a trip to get lumber at Home Depot, a little laptop designing, then cut, hammer and run down the battery on the electric screw driver. Part way through the building they ran out of screws and part of the crew went to the store with a detour for fast Chinese food.

Then a trip to get a sheet of plywood was required for the top. After the top was installed a little testing was required in the street. The box needed a steel rail for grinding on but the lumber yard was closed by now and had to be attached the next day. With the extra lumber another smaller box was built to be used in conjunction with the grinding box.

I am not sure how the bike gets off the ground without any effort and when asked the reply was "I don't know." Dylan just approaches the box, then points the wheel up and it goes up. The grinding or sliding on the steel rail can be used by the pegs that stick out from the front or rear axles or a pedal. Makes no sense to me how it is done so smoothly.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

4 Aces Desert Race

Back to the desert again, Saturday morning was spent loading up the trailer with the Yamaha in the rain and the mailman questioned my choice of activity since it was pouring. But what makes it a desert is the lack of rain and the weather forecast for Sunday was dry and cold. It rained off and on during the 156 mile ride and I didn't see anybody else hauling any motorcycles. Could the event have been cancelled I thought as the lack of traffic on 395 did seem low except for the folks headed back from Mammoth.
When I got to Sprangler there wasn't any shortage of trailers, RVs, trucks and motorcycles but not a lot of people riding cause it was cold and wet with fresh snow in the mountains. At the sign up area there was a nice fire burning and a stack of cut wood that would have kept Grant's Army warm and no one in the sign up line.
With years of riding experience under my belt I simply amaze myself on how stupid I can be. Friday afternoon was spent checking various items on the bike and after putting it back together I didn't bother to fire up the engine to see if the dam thing still ran. So flashes of ignorance and silent cussing only heard by the dog who refused to get of of the Nissan because of the weather as my rain soaked motor refused to idle smoothly and the throttle return cable kept sticking and the motor kept stalling. Kicking over a big four stroke is a pleasure only if it starts on the first kick. The next day at the second check point the dam thing stalled on me when it was no longer wet and cold but rather warm. After a dozen kicks with out a burp the fellow in the check crew asked, "You don't have an electric starter ?" Before I discovered kicking motorcycles as a sport both my legs were the same length. Well after moving cables hidden under the tank it did start to run smoothly again and I rode over looking for the start line which wasn't very close, found it, rode back, then loaded the trailer up and headed for a motel in Ridgecrest that had a heater. The next morning was wet after a night of rain but the sun was shining and it was not technically freezing at 34 degrees.

Anticipating that my fingers might fall off after a few minutes I switched to my teenage mutant snowboarding gloves and threw the motocross gloves back in the kit. The decision to dress warm or safe was then debated as my body armour worn under my jacket doesn't allow for bundling or layering but at the last race a rider died while they were operating on him to repair damages after he was hit by his own motorcycle before the first check point. So cold rather than dead was the choice and it was plenty warm after you started bouncing and dodging rocks.

To keep people honest the club holding the event uses a scoring card called a tank card (once upon a time the gas tank actually had room on top for a card). Your name and race number goes on it at the sign up along with proof of a spark arrestor and a noise test. You place the card upside down on your front fender using the greatest invention know to racers "duct tape" and on the starting line it receives its first check or mark. As you go around the course there are various checkpoint where you slow down long enough to get your card marked again. The locations of the checkpoint are unknown and at the finish your tank card is removed and your result is verified. What drove me crazy (among other things) was the second check point did not appear until closer to the end of the loop that expected. The thought that I had missed a check kept going through my dazed brain and whatever I did to change my thinking wasn't working. When I finally got to the check I had to stop and ask (that where I stalled it) why the second check was so far out and the reply was to drive people crazy. They were successful. After the finish an inspection of the gas tank resulted in no gas to be seen but after draining the contents and measuring the gas left there was probably another 10 miles left to ride. After reading the results the next day and the large number of DNFs a bigger gas tank might be a good idea.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl What?

I have devised a game where the goal is to reach Super Bowl Sunday without knowing the names of the teams that actually play in it and this year I succeeded in winning again. On a quick stop Sunday morning to pickup something to munch on the boat I did see a large goal post display for Tequila and Vodka so maybe there is a Russian team playing a Mexican one, who knows or fuck cares.
While in the car heading for beautiful San Pedro I listened to Vincent Bugliosi being interviewed on KPFK radio. If you have not read his book The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder, in summary he wants Bush put on trial for war crimes. He is probably correct in his guilt but I doubt it would happen. When sailing in the Los Angeles Harbor I sometimes use the lee shore of Terminal Island as a place to douse my jib when the wind is up and Hurricane Gulch is full of white caps. On Terminal Island there is a Coast Guard Station and a Federal Prison. Currently there are 1072 inmates in the prison. Two of the a list of infamous past customers include Al Capone and Charles Manson. Manson did two terms there and actually didn't want to leave. My suggestion would be to set aside there two old cells for Bush and his crooked Veep in case they are ever convicted.
Saturday the weather was very warm for the last day of January and Sunday started off a little cooler with a fog bank and my poor decision to wear a Hawaiian Shirt . My earlier sail choice had been for my large 170 as the wind prediction was for little or nothing and I never get to use the large jib but again the wind was up to about 16 knots and white caps inside the breakwater so the 170 remain in its sail bag. My boat does not have furling so the captain is responsible for hoisting, folding, and all those labors associated with work.

My good Russian buddy took out his Ericson and we crossed courses coming and going. He had to reef his main coming back in and I elected to douse the jib coming back then the wind backed but I still could get 5 knots on the main only. When he hailed me the second time he cried that he didn't have any wine aboard and I doubted I could send an extra bottle over to him without banking hulls so we waited until dockside to celebrate the possibility perhaps a Russian team was winning the Super Bowl.