7.29.2007,1:24 PM
Doohickies & Pondering to Wander

Another wonderful Sunday morning with birds chatting, rebellious tall grass blades taunting me in a breeze that's barely a whisper, streaks of bright sun on the ground like broken shards of bright glass in an ocean of dark green grass reflecting an ominous rain-laden blue-gray sky, and a whirling ceiling fan overhead mixing the smells of dew-covered morning and fresh-brewed coffee.

No traffic, no voices, no TV, no busy sounds. It's heaven, it's sanctuary.

So I'll take some time to post some photos, observations and quips from a full and busy day: KLR Tech Day and TWT Pie Run.

After the annual battle and war with fire ants in the early morning and packing what little I needed on the bike, I rode it around the house and pulled up next to the shed. I needed to take the spare tires with me.

Several sweaty minutes of strapping, netting, securing, and fastening the tires to the luggage rack, I was off down the White Gravel Road. Hmm..... handling was not affected too much, but the tires sure prevented me from moving around on my seat like I normally do.

Because the bike was not handling right from the accident and the pillion tires, I decided to play safe and ride the highways to Rhome. I noticed turning heads in the vehicles that passed me on I-820 and I-35.

I found Curtis' domain easily and did as the Rhomans do on pea gravel: pucker. My first time on pea gravel, I found myself preferring the dusty gravel of Big Bend and my white limestone gravel of home. It took several times of riding on it to relax and let the front wheel do what it wanted to do: a little dance.

I had heard about 'The Shop' long before I even met Curtis. It's like a mechanics wet dream: huge and roomy. My mouth formed a silent 'Wow!!!' when I walked up to it. Inside was a busy hive of men, grease, chrome tools, and bike parts. Hoists, levers, stands, tool boxes...... you name it. I had a quick deja vu of a long-ago dismissed idea of a simple building containing a horse stall, feed room, big workshop, bike bay, gym room and small apartment at one end in which I could happily live as long as it had plenty of windows and a covered porch.

Inside and outside were KLRs I had never seen the likes of. "So they do come in more colors than drab red and army green!"

I parked the Whee next to a black KLR on steroids: it looked too clean and modernly equipped to be a typical KLR. I learned shortly afterwards that it was a 'souped-up' KLR. But to me, it wasn't a KLR anymore.

My favorite of the group was this '08 KLR: more pleasing color, lower seat height, additional faring to make road time more pleasant, and just plain sexy. It was like a hybrid of the old KLR, a V-strom, and the DR650 rolled into one sweet machine. I liked it a lot. (aka I want one ;)

I walked around looking at the bikes for ideas to extend to Mini-me, the little sister to the Big Boys: KLR250 Super Sherpa. The new baby that has not arrived yet. It was almost a visceral pang to be there amidst all the expertise, tools and paraphernalia without my little sidekick. It was like being in a giant toy store without your kid there to enjoy it and share all the excitement.

Since the tire-hugger fender on the Sherpa will be changed out for a higher one, I compared front fenders. The Acerbis motocross evo fender caught my attention. I like the idea of a two piece system because of color possibilities and the ability to changing the front of the fender without removing the entire assembly:

I also like the brighter green on a KLR more than army tractor drab. Here are the two colorful KLRs together. Note the sleek angled tail of the '08. Uh huh; it's a nice machine

Now feeling like a small ant in a busy hive of bustling giant bees, I wandered into the shop in awe. I tried to stay unobtrusive and out of their way as they went back and forth working on the many bikes in the shop. I was a little kid in a big airport hanger gawking at all the neat tools and machines.

My gawking and photo-snapping reverie was interrupted by a reminder that we needed to get on the road again to meet the others in nearby Ponder for lunch. Gearing up and heading out, I led the pack on the washboard curves of Hwy 407. Familiar with this route because Ranchman's is a favorite and frequent refuge of mine, I attempted to ride it as normal. Make a 'line' on the narrow but squiggly patch of relatively smooth tarmac in the center of the lane, avoiding the wash board that follows the center and shoulder lines. But after the first curve and experiencing squirrelly feedback and handling from the front end of the Whee, I dropped my speed on the curves. It felt unsafe and I did not want to temp the Gravity Gods again. I was still sore.

We rode in front of Ranchman's Steakhouse in Ponder with a few bikes lined up in front. Searching for a place to pull in, I honed in a Wee-strom with the same Suzuki silver-blue as Whee. Well, I HAD to pull in next to it. Ken mentioned that maybe they would mate and have offspring. Visions of little silver-blue DL250's running circles around us sprang to mind and I giggled.

Stepping back I noticed that there were four V-stroms grouped together! Funny how the drones of the Mothership tend to congregate.

I know other V-stroms were scattered amongst the growing sea of bikes as I saw familiar faces. I left it to Chuck to get a head, er, headlight count of V-stroms in attendance.

Our group of riders wandered in to the back room to get a table and the room quickly filled, spilling out into the front room as well. The head count was estimated at 80, the bike count near 70.

Tim was so excited his head gyrated around on his neck!

We all ate our lunch and obligatory pie except for the daring few (me) that chose cobbler and ice cream. Time to check out and leave, returning to the tech hive and continue our missions for the day.

Outside the sea of bikes was overwhelming. It's impossible to look at every one of them; a classic case of trying to see the trees in the big forest. A sea of bike and gear colors.

Sleepy Weasel from the forum was kind enough to introduce himself and mention his Sherpa was out in the line near the end. Now armed with a search and making my way outside and along the line, I found this lonely little Sherpa at the very end all by itself.

Oh, the pang!! Like a mother missing her lost child. Where's my baby!! Or more like a wild little kid waiting for Christmas morning..........

Reminded that we needed to return to the KLR Hive, I headed back to home bike and snapped a shot of Chris and his new happy steed: a BMW 650GS. Don't worry, Chris. It's a dual sport; they're supposed to be dirty. Many happy rides and join us sometime for a dualsport run!

On the way back to Curtis' we passed several KLRs on their return trip home. There is no mistaking a KLR on the road. They are distinctly....... well, KLRs. The bikes had thinned out in the shop and more left shortly after we returned. Bill and Don arrived on their V-strom and FJR, respectively. There were now three V-stroms in attendance; there's a tacit kinship between the V-stroms and KLRs (and their riders, too) that neither group will admit to. Reminds me of two brothers that constantly bicker and compete, but the similarities are closer than their differences. And I'm the little sister that gets picked on, especially by a FJR rider. That's okay, Don; I have thick calloused skin.

Ken attempted to give me a crash course on carburetors while my attention was split between that and analyzing troubles with the Whee. Until the Sherpa comes and I have the carb in my greasy hands, only then will the knowledge really sink into and be stored in the gray matter. After it arrives and with adult supervision (borrowing that ingenious line from someone on the KLR forum) I'll rejet the carb on the Sherpa. But I did learn about doohickies and see what all the fuss was for.

While the Mightly KLRs did their thing, a group of us attempted to diagnose the problems on the Whee. After a test ride, Bill discovered a missing guide for the front brake line and hypothesized that the forks were tweaked in the triple tree. After resetting the forks, I took it out for a test ride and still felt that the front tire was unstable. Examination of the tires suggested that the flat center of the back might be the cause. Bill graciously used Curtis' tire changer, donated copious liters of sweat and swapped the rear tires. When a tire and wheel can stand up on its own, it's time to change the tire.

Another test ride and the Whee was fluidly and gracefully dancing on the roads again. Again, thanks to Bill and the others for their expertise and help on this.

Bikes and riders eventually dwindled to a few of us that gathered around in the shop in chairs, relaxed, chatted and shared stories. A full day; people, bikes, tools, rides, fun...... Many new faces without names, a few new names and faces, several faces and names I haven't seen in awhile, some folks that I can now call good friends and I realized that the bike and rider community in this state is like nothing else I've ever experienced in any place I've lived before. No matter what bike we ride, we're all a a part of it. And thumbs up to all of us.

You, too, Russ. We miss you while you are in your sandbox (Iraq). Here's waving to ya.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The ride home was pleasant. As usual, I took my Sweet Road home and felt safe enough to hang body parts off on the curves, even with a tire strapped onto the luggage rack. After pulling off sweaty gear, I sat outside amidst the cricket and frog chorus and enjoyed a Texas summer sunset.

Life is good.

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posted by Macrobe
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