Monday, August 10, 2009

1993 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi

September 24, 2008 - Wednesday

Yup, that's my new car. (See, I know by now that whenever I plan something or count on something to happen, that's what doesn't come to pass.)

Florian arrived at the office at 1600 hours yesterday. He'd gone to Bergdietikon to check out a small garage we'd seen online that was selling a Chevy Beretta for 2200.- (dang, you can buy the car for the same price as the like-named gun) and a Bonneville for 1700.- It turned out both those cars were long gone, which as okay because they were white, old and not very special. But the guy there told Florian that his brother had a bordeaux red Bonneville for sale for 3800.-. Florian took a look at a wrecked black Bonneville that was sitting outside, was told it had 200 horse and a supercharger, and came to the office to tell me that was a cool car and we should really have a look at the one for sale.

First we went to the train station in Altstetten to meet the guy selling the Regal. Florian saw the parked car long before I did, and we had a quick look at it before going into the bar to find the owner. He was wearing a light jacket, so it wasn't too hard to recognize him.

The Regal was very much so. Rust-free, smooth paint, plush interior, very well taken care of. The seller also made an honest impression - I know; any decent car seller does, but this guy made an effort to show us everything from inside the engine to inside the wheel wells to pointing out things he'd bumped into and spots that had been repaired at some point.

I asked if I could take it for a test drive, and he said sure. It was a very quiet car - that was about the only disappointing thing about it. It moved like a cat, purring, smooth, the exact Fahrgefühl I'd been hoping for. Big steering wheel, wood consoles, red velour - pure American style. I loved it.

We returned after a short round through Altstetten, and I told the seller it was a lovely car, but there was still one we needed to look at, and I'd call him tomorrow.

Then Florian and I drove to Bergdietikon on the Tweety Bird, and we parked at the garage to find the bordeaux Bonneville standing outside. We entered the workshop, and the brother, the owner of the Bonneville, was there so we went straight out to take a look at the car.

The paint is in good shape. There are three small spots on the frame of the driver's door where it's peeling, but I don't consider that a problem. There's no rust, no leaking oil, several new parts and he took it to the DOT for a checkup just last week, which means I wouldn't have to do that for another two or three years. It has summer tires on, which I'd have to replace with winter tires sometime this season, but I don't think that's too big of a problem. They're 16" wheels, which is a fairly standard size.

The interior is tan leather, also in good shape wth the exception of the left armrest on the driver's side. Florian drooled over the middle console where you could adjust both the driver's and the passenger's seats - I think the car has quite a bit of electronic overkill, but hey, you gotta admit it's got more comfort features than a lot of new Mercedes and BMWs.

I asked if I could take it for a test drive, and Herr Jaun handed over the key. We got in, and the engine came alive. It doesn't growl, but it's got a sportier-sounding purr than the Regal.

I tested the brakes and ABS on an abrupt stop, got the back wheels to squeal as we pulled away when two other cars suddenly appeared, and got flashed by a mobile speed trap which'll probably slap me with 120.- fine when I was letting the car roll out after the supercharger kicked in. Stupid speed trap.

We returned to the garage and I knew I was going to get that car. The Regal was more stately, more elegant, had more American feel to it, drank less and Florian said it would probably be more reliable, but 1100.- saved up front is an argument too, as are 200 horses, a supercharger and a bordeaux paint job. I gave Herr Jaun back his keys, we did another thorough check of the car, and then I said if he'd take 3800.- for it he could consider it sold.

We went inside the garage for the formalities, and he showed us the projects they were working on. A Chevy Impala lowrider, a couple other big classic American cars, a VW Bug hotrod in progress... All sorts of cool stuff.

The formalities weren't very formal at all. He gave me the car's papers, we agreed that the payment and key exchange would take place on Friday evening after work.

This morning I called Blesi, my insurance agent, and got the insurance papers. At 80% for the rest of the year, the fee is 1500.- something p.a.; it'll go down next year. That's a lot, plus the 680.- in taxes, but I knew I was getting a big engine, and that's what gets taxed in the canton of Zürich.

On Friday evening I get to take home the Bonny. (Buell, Beastie, Bonneville... I do have a penchant for machines whose name start with B, don't I.) And since I don't have to go to work at Opa's this afternoon since he's in Biel all day, Florian and I can swing by the mech's, take another look at the Beastie, and maybe I can make a final decision.

After putting a lot more thought into the whole thing, I've decided against Nico's 12er. I don't trust it. The engine's not made for 142 horses, neither is the belt, and with as many kilometers as I put on my little Beastie in one year, I think I'd be asking for trouble getting that highly tuned machine. Also, Florian is adamant in his opinion that the frame of the XB9 is good and solid and it won't go flying around my ears just because I hit 150 km/h. I'd like to believe him, because all I want is my Beastie back. I know how it handles, how to handle it, I know how to read it, and a new machine would mean new adjustments. I can transfer the airbrush parts; it'd take a while to transfer the synergy.

I think I'll know more tonight.

I know it's got four wheels and doesn't really belong in here. But being Beastie-Ersatz gives it the right to be included in the Beastie's history.

First consequences of the crash

September 23, 2008 - Tuesday

I consider it a wonder that I'm still sane.

I feel sure that one of these days - evenings, most likely, when I've got the most time to think - something will snap and I'll turn into a useless, heart-broken wreck, just like it happened back in June or July when I smashed up the Beastie's back. I'm sure I must still be in shock, because I haven't even really cried about the wreck, and the Buell is, after all, the most precious thing I own.

I stayed home from work yesterday, Monday, partly because Mom insisted, and partly because otherwise I'd have had to take the train and my foot really wasn't up to walking those short distances. I spent most of the day painting, nearly finishing Ski's pink kirin Aphrodite. One thing off the list.

The mech hadn't called me by lunch time, so I called him. I know they're fairly busy right now, but I got Fabio on the line, told him what happened and asked him what he thought.

I'd been half-expecting it, but it still felt like a kick in the stomach when he told me that with the kilometers I'd already put on the machine, and the potential of the frame being cracked or bent, it was most likely a total loss, and there wasn't much sense in repairing it. He said he'd look at it, make a list of everything that would have to be replaced and give me an estimate, but that if I'd smashed into a guard rail, the chance was there the frame would be damaged. In order to be sure, they'd have to give the bike to an external firm, strip it down and make measurements, and that would cost plenty.

Pushing that grim vision aside for a moment, I asked him what a new front fork would cost. He said that a complete fork with installation and work would be about 2500.- That was along the lines of my expectations.

I said I'd appreciate if he could put together that cost estimate, and in the mean time I'd look into my second option, Nico's XB12.

After I hung up, I felt rather naseous. But the idea of a complete wreck just wouldn't sink in. I still hoped there was a way to save the bike.

My head was full of conflicting thoughts all day. I'd take the XB12; no, I'd fix up the 9er and not bother with the frame; no, that was too much of a risk; I needed to know what Nico would be asking for his 12er... It's a wonder I got anything done at all.

During this, I was looking forward to Florian and Dad coming home. Since Saturday I'd been looking at cars; I need to buy one, this week. There were several I like, some that came into question. Originally I'd set my limit at 3000.-, but it looks like I'll be spending 5000.- instead. Dad arrived home and we drove into Zürich to check out a Buick Skylark being offered for 2900.-, only to find it was already sold. (Should call ahead. Dur.) The garage boss offered me Grand Am in good shape for 5000.-, but Florian says that's not such a good deal, compared to his Daytona.

In two hours Florian will be here and will pick me up, and we'll meet with a guy who's offering this Buick Regal for 4900.-. If it's in as good of shape as the pictures make me think, I'm buying it.

(I know, I could get a little Jap box on wheels, or an old Golf or something boring like that, but I want something just a little bit special, something I can look forward to driving when the Beastie is out of commission. I remembered driving Grandma's old battleship of a... Pontiac, wasn't it? and I want something like that. I have a motorcycle to drive fast and furiously on; the car should be something elegant and stately, a good ol' cruiser. It's white, and it's an automatic, but over here, it's a special car, and I think I'd like it. Plus, with a mileage of 13 liters in the city and 9 on the autobahn, it doesn't drink that much.

Looking forward to buying that car - I've noticed that I rely on gut feelings an awful lot in regard to vehicles, and they haven't let me down yet - has been one of the things keeping me in working condition, I think. That and the fact that I still haven't accepted for a fact that the 9er ist totalled. (The concept of "Beastie" is a working machine, and at the moment, I'm not sure if it's a 9er working machine or a 12er working machine, but we better figure it out quick or I'll go nuts.)

I calculate as follows:

2500.- for the front fork
700.- for the airbrush repairs
1000.- for small parts and work
300.- for a new front fender

Sum total: 4500.- without a frame check. I figure a frame check would cost at least a thousander, and if that determines the frame is shot, I can uy a new frame for double that, or go for Nico's 12er after all.

Florian says he seriously doubts the frame is too damaged to use; my United buddies are all telling me to play it safe and not rely on the old frame. I don't know who to believe or what to do, but a lot is pushing me in the direction of the 12er.

There are a few problems with that, though, too, and they all have to do with the fact that Nico put in a Power Commander and sharp Nockenwellen, upping the horsepower from the standard 101 to 142.

First off, the little 9er's 92 HP was plenty for me, especially considering that I should be crawling around with 34 HP until May 2010. Secondly, I don't even know if the 142 HP can be brought down to 34 HP at all. I'd have to show the bike at the DOT in order to buy it from Nico, and it would have to be limited to 34 horses. Thirdly, those 40 extra horses and the 150 Nm are quite a strain on the belt drive, not to mention the engine, which was hardly built for that kind of power and torque.

Florian says that shouldn't be all too much of a problem, though, since the XB engines are only built to last about 50,000 km. (I was vaguely counting on doing a general overhaul or replacement of the Beastie's engine in 2010, not replacing the entire bike less than a year after buying it...)

I'm hoping I can talk to Nico tonight, so I can channel my plans and efforts in the right direction. God willing, I'll have a car by Friday, and a bike next month.

And for those of you who are still wondering about the castle - no go. Six and a half million is just a little bit over our budget. Says Dad. Mom says we could afford it. I'll trust the guy who's got the bank account in his name. Besides, I wouldn't want it anyway if the whole family moved there.

Stay in your lane

September 22, 2008 - Monday

This past weekend was one of those happenings that'll make for stories and proof of experience in a month or two, but right now has me strung about as tight as a second octave C-string on a harp.
The weather forecast for Saturday was lovely - possibly one of the last good biking days of the year. At 0900 hours Florian and I had shooting; at 1100 hours I was to meet Roger, Fabian and Remo in Frenkendorf. From there we'd go on a short (three or four hour) Black Forest run.
The day before, Friday, I'd picked up my new half-year lenses, which I'm now testing before my optician orders me a final set. It's wonderful to be able to walk the dog and see the individual blades of grass, dewdrops, needles on conifers or ears of corn at a distance of more that 20 feet. My right eye won't ever see completely; something inside is ruined. But still, these stronger half-year lenses let me see properly again.
It showed in my shooting. I did two B-targets and a Military. The Bs were so-so; that's a tough target to shoot at anyway, and the light wasn't great. I got 344 out of 400 on the Military, though, which for me is really good. That made me happy.
After cleaning my gun, it was 1000 hours before I left the range. On the way home, as I was driving through the 30 km/h zone above the Catholic church, I had a premonition, wondering if something would go wrong today, and knowing that even if I was foreseeing a problem I would go on the drive anyway.
I should have left home at 1000 hours; as soon as I got back I quickly put away my shooting gear, slipped into my leathers, and headed across the Albis to the Autobahn. At the last minute I decided to take my backpack along, with a first-aid kit and something to read in it, just in case. Thank God for small blessings.
I was approaching the exit to Liestal, and it was quarter after 1100 hours, when I felt my cell phone ring. I knew that would Roger, wondering where I was, so I didn't stop to refuel before finding the Café Sommer where we'd agreed to meet.
Roger's unmistakable skyblue Lady (I found out that the nickname for Triumph is Lady; like Suzukis are Sugis and Buells are Bulls) was sitting outside, together with Fabian's black 1050. Remo's metallic blue 1050 with the tribal decals was in the shade to the right. I parked the Beastie behind Roger's machine, pulled off my helmet and gloves and went inside.
We exchanged greetings, I apologized for being late and said I'd like to refuel before we left, they paid their tab and off we went, three roaring Triumph 1050s and a grumbling Buell. Roger led, followed by Fabian, while Remo took up the rear. We kept that formation until, well, circumstance forced a change.
We had to ride the Autobahn a bit, until we reached the border. The tour started with long curves, which was perfect because that way I could get used to the United driving style again. It's surprising, how easy and safe it is to drive fast when you can follow another's lead. Just look where you want to drive, and that's where you'll go. The weather was sunny, traffic wasn't too bad, and the roads were fairly good (not too much bitumen). It was perfect.
Until we reached the mountain stretch above Marzell. Roger and Fabian took off. They knew this route; I followed, driving my own speed. A ways up the mountain, in a flat and straight stretch, the two Triumphs were driving slowly, waiting for me and Remo to catch up. I joined them, and our tempo became slower and slower as we waited for Remo to arrive. The car I passed drove by us, two speeding motorcycles, another car... By that time we knew something must have happened. We all turned and drove back down the mountain.
We drove through curves that I thought for sure Remo must have been behind me, but we found him at least 2 km from where we'd stopped and waited. He was sitting next to the road in the grass, cell phone against his ear. His Triumph stood next to him.
We parked our bikes a bit lower down in a dirt patch. Fabian rolled Remo's 1050 off the road into the gravel inside the curve, and we found out what happened.
In the middle of the left curve was a bitumen smear, about one and half feet long and six inches thick. Remo had hit it; and by time he noticed, his front tire had slid away. He drove full speed into the mountainside.
His Triumph had lost every protruding part on the right side. There would be no more driving it that day. Remo himself was okay with the exception of his knee, which he'd banged pretty badly. But his leathers had preserved him from the worst.
I looked at his poor bike and thought, "Thank you, Lord, for not letting that happen to me."
He organized a rescue by ADAC, and rolled down the mountain to meet them in Marzell. We wished him the best and drove on.
This time, I was right behind Roger, with Fabian behind me. I wished Fabian would pass; he was a much better driver than me and I felt like I was blocking him. We'd driven several dozen kilometers before we reached another mountain stretch, above Präg, where he finally passed me and he and Roger took off.
I still had them in sight, but kept to my own tempo, driving what I knew I could handle.
Not five minutes after Fabian passed me I came into a left curve. Because of a vertical rock wall, I couldn't see around it. I was in my lane, leaning in, about as far right as I could be, doing 60 or 80 - I rarely check my speedometer - when a little blue Peugeot came around the corner, two wheels in my lane.
I had my foot on the back brake and slowed down a bit, but I had to straighten or I'd have hit that son of a monkey. And since I was that far right, so as to take the curve properly, straightening ran me into the strip of dirt between the end of the blacktop and the guardrail. I saw the dirt and grass; a split second later the Beastie had smashed into the rail.
I was thrown off and under the the guard rail, down the mountainside about four feet. My right boot, tight-fit leather with a zipper closure, was ripped off. I caught myself; my first reaction was three furious curses; my second, "God, why did You let that happen?"
My right foot hurt terribly; my left side was banged and my right leg had been twisted, but I didn't notice most of that until later. I crawled back up to road, gasping, enraged and starting to feel the bruises.
I reached the edge of the road; just then a young man filled my vision. I looked over. He was BMW driver, and he took my hand and helped me through, under the guard rail.
He asked me how was, if I knew where I was, whether anything hurt, and carefully took of my helmet. I answered his questions, still breathing hard, staring at the Beastie.
It was lying with its back tire to me. I only realized hours later that that meant the whole maschine had been spun when it hit the guard rail. The back light was still burning.
I told the young man I wanted to know what all was broken on my bike. I know, it seems like a stupid thing to be worried about now, but I could have cared less about me. I was okay. I was already wondering how long it would take for the Beast to be operational again, and how much it would cost.
He shook his head and looked at me as if I were crazy. "The bike is broken."
By that time, a car had stopped and the people in it set up a warning triangle a bit farther down the road.
Two motorcyclists, one driving a white Triumph, came down the mountain and stopped. The all discussed something together; I was still staring at the Beastie as I sat at the edge of the road, knees curled in, too shocked to cry though I was beginning to feel like I wanted to.
The Triumph driver drove back up the mountain, and I gathered there was no cell phone reception right there on the road. I heard that they wanted to get a doctor, but I didn't care about anything except my machine just then.
Fabian and Roger arrived then. Fabian hurried over and looked at me, asking how I was, and what happened. At the same time, the young man with the BMW heaved up the Beastie,turned off the engine at my request, and leaned it against the guard rail a bit farther down.
I told Fabian that I'd been run off the road, and he exploded.
Evidently it had been a string of three cars, led by the blue Peugeot, that were coming down the mountain. They'd already been in the opposite lane when Roger and Fabian drove by, but because that was in a straighter stretch the guys were able to avoid a collision. Most car drivers get scared and swerve into their own lane when they realized there's actually oncoming traffic. But these guys, or at least the Peugeot, decided it was still okay to claim extra space in the curve.
I don't know if he saw what happened to me, but the other two must have, and they didn't stop. Fabian was furious.
I saw the Beastie was standing and got to my feet. I'd pulled on my boot by this time; I was doing a lot in a sort of haze. Somebody must have helped me up, and I limped over to my bike.
I think the first thing I noticed was that all the paint had been chipped off my front fender, and it was its original black again.
The brake handle was completely gone; the clutch was twisted up. The fork has two three-inch scrapes on it. There are a lot of scratches on the left side of the fly screen. The left air intake has a dent in it. The gear shifter assembly was compeltely broken off; and I'd need new foot peg. Both Rizoma grips are ruined; the mirror broke off too but stayed intact. The Termignoni is unscathed. The back seat cover has a scrape on it; there are a few small scratches on the side of the airbox cover. The left seat strut is scratched. But the back wheel strut is fine. From what I saw, the damage is all repairable. Obviously my mech will have to check whether the frame is bent; most likely I'd need a new handlebar. If the frame is bent... Well, that's coming later.
With all the concerned people who were doing so much to help, Roger and Fabian standing next to me, I accepted this turn in events and my head cleared a bit.
I stayed next to the Beastie, studying it, while Roger calmed me down a bit and explained what we'd do. An ambulance and a doctor arrived; the thought briefly crossed my mind that this was going to cost me a fortune.
The doctor would check up on me; Fabian would roll the Beast down to the Hotel Hirschen in Präg, where it could be picked up. Did I have any way to get it home?
Thank God, I did have an option for that. Uncle Andy has a trailer for motorcycles. Maybe, God willing, he could drive out here and get me and my bike.
I couldn't drive with Roger or Fabian because their bikes were one-seaters, like mine. But there was a solution for that too.
The doctor and the ambulance were there, and the doctor, a volunteer in his fifties, very matter-of-fact and professional, asked me to come into the ambulance so he could check me.
When I hit the ground, the zipper that attaches my jacket to my pants had torn apart, and we couldn't get the two apart. (Yesterday with patience I got the zipper back the way it's supposed to me. I've only had that combo for a few months; it's already looking beat up, but I don't want to spend another 1100.- on a new one right now.) Luckily the doctor had a pulsemeter in his car that he could use; otherwise he said we would have had to cut open the jacket. (God forbid! This cost me enough.)
My pulse was fine; I hadn't lost consciousness at all, and I could touch my nose with either forefinger when he asked me to. He asked where I hurt, and I said my right foot was a bit sore. He checked it for breaks; then he helped me get my boots back on.
He said he'd drive me up to Bernau, about 2.5 km away, and I could wait at the Hotel Bergblick until my pickup was organized. Roger and Fabian would join me there. Basically his and the ambulance's help wouldn't cost me at all. Oh, thank God.
Some of the helpers has already dispersed. I thanked the ones I could, got into the doctor's VW with my backpack and helmet and drove the short distance with him.
He told me about how he had a sport similarly dangerous to mine, hang-gliding, and accidents from that could be as ugly as those of motorcyclists. He told me how the whole rescue setup for these mountain stretches was purely volunteer, and that they operated off of donations. I found out that Fabian donated 100 franks to the Bergwacht for driving him back up the mountain after he rolled my Beastie back down to Präg. (He refused to let me reimburse him for it.)
We soon reached the Bergblick, a beautiful hotel with a view of the valley and mountains and clear blue sky. The doctor, whose name I can't remember, said that whenever I was back in the area and had some time we should eat there, because the food was excellent (!). He gave me into the care of the boss there and went on his way.
I sank into a chair in the corner of the balcony from where I could watch the road. They gave me a glass of coke, which I downed gratefully.
Then I gave Mom a call. I told her I was fine, and the Beastie was okay; I needed her to call me back. (I pay for phone calls either way when I'm outside of Switzerland, but I pay less when I get called.)
She did, and I told her I'd been run off the road and the Beastie couldn't be driven. She took it very well; I was half-expecting her to forbid me from ever going within 100 feet of a motorcycle again after that. I asked her to ask Florian to call Andy and see if he could come pick me up.
Soon after Roger and Fabian arrived, together with a police car. While the policeman was taking down my personal information, I got a call from home. Florian said Andy was willing to drive out there and pick me up, they just needed to know where I was. I got the zip code from the policeman, and Florian said they'd be on their way. My relief was immense.
I'll be getting a bill for that guard rail that the Beastie knocked out, but my insurance will pay for that. It's the least they can do; after Blesi convinced me to stay with partial coverage a few months ago, I can pay for the damage on the bike myself. Such is life.
The police didn't stay long. Fabian and Roger ordered coffees and stayed with me a while. It would take Andy and Florian at least two hours to reach me; obviously they weren't going to stay that whole time. They weren't going to finish the tour, though, either. After those two accidents, they'd be going straight home.
Roger judged my damage cost at six or seven thousand franks. I so hope he's off. If that's the case, though, and the frame is bent, there's still a solution. Yesterday I talked with Kevin, who told nico about my accident. Nico said that if the repairs cost more than 5000.-, he'd sell me his tuned XB12. And I admit, I'm already getting excited with the proposition of driving around a 12er. Transfer the airbrush parts and I'll have my Beastie again.
But I'm not making any plans in that direction now, not until my mechanic calls. Any minute now... I slept really badly last night, dreaming my mech told me the Beastie was basically totalled. I just want to know what the facts are, what can be repaired, or can't, what I need to do...
But anyway, back to Saturday. Roger and Fabian stayed with me for half an hour or so. We discussed various things about bikes, expecially Roger's project of rebuilding a six cylinder Triumph Rocket into a bike that looks like a cruiser but'll still outrun any racing machine in the Black Forest. I actually laughed, imagining the look on a Gixxer-driver's face when this fat Rocket speeds by him, foxtails swinging from the handlebars, luggage racks and leather bags, the driver wearing Harley-esque leathers. Roger says he should have the bike next month, if all goes well. That'll make for some fun drives.
I was feeling better, psychologically, when we said our goodbyes and Fabian and Roger headed home. I thanked them for their help, and Roger told me to buck up; he knew I was sad about my machine, but it would run again.
I was thankful I'd brought along something to read. I got my gun magazine, took my backpack and helmet and went out to the parking lot, where I could watch the road for Andy's big Durango. I sat down for a while, until my right foot refused to take that position anymore. Then I stood up, put the magazine away since I wasn't getting too much out of it anyway, and watched an oldtimer convention with 50s Mercedes, Fiats, MGs and Lancias roll in. The boss of the convention parked his car next to where I stood, noticed my gear and asked if everything was okay.
I must say, I may hate all the Germans we have coming into Switzerland, taking our jobs and refusing to learn Swiss, but in their own country, they sure are wonderfully kind people.
Andy and Florian arrived around 1700 hours, and I guided them down to Präg, where my poor Beastie stood.
We delivered the Buell directly to the mechanic's (who I'd called earlier and told them what happened and asked them to assess the damage on Monday) and were home by 2000 hours. I'm going to pay for the gas that Andy used; I don't know how else to thank him for making that trip for me. Sure, he's my godfather, but sometimes I feel guilty for being so lucky and blessed, as if some day it'll all be required of me again.
I found a message from Roger, hoping I'd gotten home all right, and reminding me to look forward, not back, and that the Beast would drive again.
I exchanged several messages with him and Remo. Remo says economically speaking he might be getting a replacement for his Triumph, instead of fixing it up. That Saturday wasn't a good day for United, but it could have been much worse. So much worse. This is called gaining life experience by the bucketfull. Thank God for good people.
Now when is my mech going to call?

There I discovered the true meaning of heartbreak. After the couple weeks it took me to get over my shock...

Buell Training and Racing Day

September 16, 2008 - Tuesday

In one word: fun.

It rained non-stop all of Saturday. I woke up to the sound of pounding rain. The Beastie carried me across wet autobahns to the southwestern side of the country through drips and drizzles. The track in Lignières wasn't for a moment warm or dry. And the two hours of homebound driving left girl and machine dirty, gritty and sopping wet. But Saturday was one awesome day.

I left at quarter to seven in the morning, when it was still dark. I was wearing my leather AlpineStars gear under the new rain combo I boguht the day before over that, my leather driving boots, and my ventilated summer gloves. I didn't wear my winter gloves because of the cloth insert which is freezing and impossible to get off or on once it's wet.

I refuelled in Zürich before hitting the autobahn. I'm surprised I never get bored driving the autobahn. I just hate the idea of my tires wearing away and turning square as I watch the Beastie count kilometers. Of course on that particular morning, I was kept busy making sure I had enough space between me and the guy ahead, following red taillights through the haze and rain and waves of sprouting water.

A time or two I wasn't sure if I was following the right autobahn, but I reached Biel, where the rain lightened somewhat, and followed the directions I'd been given, driving along a mountain through picturesque little villages with cobbled streets, halfbeam houses and names like Diesse and Nods before reaching the TCS track outside Lignières.

The road to the track was full of potholes and puddles and gravel. Outside the chainlink fence were praked some cars and two heavy-duty quads. Inside the fence on the right side was a lineup of over a dozen brand new Buell 1125Rs. On the left was the line of privately-owned machines. Most of them were XBs. My Beastie stole the show from all of the them.

I parked it, greeted the guys who were watching the new arrivals come in, and went into the Buell tent to pitch my stuff and warm up a bit.

The tent had enough room to hold the 50 or so people involved in the Buell Day. There were about 30 attendees; the rest were organizers, experts, mechanics, caterers and medics.

The tent had two large upright heaters in it which were constantly covered in wet gloves, masks and a sock or two. At the entrance of the tent was a desk that held waivers, applications, and the free T-shirts they handed out to every participant. In the back right corner was a table set up with croissants for breakfast, coffee and hot tea. I peeled off my gloves and placed them, my helme and backpack along the tent wall, and asked the caterer in attendance for a tea. I'd just received it and was warming my cold hands, which looked even colder because some black color from my gloves had turned them a strange shade of purple, when a familiar voice said, "Hey, hoi!" It was the pony-tailed mech from my garage. I'm ashamed to say I don't know his name; I think it's Peter. At any rate, he was there with Achim, the boss of the garage. It was good to see a couple familiar faces.

We warmed up a bit and then went to register. I got a Buell keychain with a name tag on it, filled out a waiver that I was responsible for anything that happened to me or my bike, and since I was female I got to pick between a yellow Buell T-shirt and black one with a ladies' cut. I chose the black.

The guy behind the counter was Alain, the boss of Trimoto in Cortaillod, and the guy who sold me the Beastie last October. I don't think he recognized me, but it was kind of neat to run into him again.

(That evening Löchen told me I should have reintroduced myself, shown him the Beastie and made a point of how well it was running, even though I'd bought it with water in the oil and a funny sound in the engine and so on and so forth... Brothers.)

On the left side of the tent, Harley Heaven in Dietikon had three Buells displayed. A regular production 1125R, a customized white XB12 with black racing stripes and silver rims with black spokes (awesome!) and another customized XB12 which I felt srry for because it was pimped ghetto-style with gold Chrümmer, gold accents and horribly sissified Hawaii flower print in offwhite, gold and tan with the words "Princess Buell" written in a curly type along the airbox cover. The poor machine.

I sat down at one of the tables in the tent, watching the screen in the left corner, where a Harley DVD where various stunts were being shown.

A guy whose name tag said Alex sat down across from me. Most of the men here were in there late thirties or older, some over fifty or nearing sixty, which surprised me. But I guess that's the demographic sector that can afford Harley prices... The guys there in their twenties could be numbered on one hand, and I was by far the youngest of all. There was one other woman there, a German twit. But I'll get to her in good time. Back to Alex.

He sat down across from me and said, "Your bike looks good, very pretty. Where'd you have it done?"

I realized then that it's standard to bring your bike to the mechanic's or to a special customizing company, say, "I want this, this and this done" ad just pay the bill afterwards. Now I understand why some people need to get 30,000 frank loans in order to pay for a customized bike.

I explained that I'd had the airbrushing done by an artist in Dübendorf, that I'd bought the special GFK parts directly from Frank Parts in Germany, and the accents had been acquired from Polo and E-Bay, and most everything had been mounted and installed at home.

Alex was a fun guy to talk with. His Buell was '97 S1, the only one there, a mean little bugger with an insane amount of torque. He's had it for 11 years, only put 25,000 km on it but wouldn't trade it for the world. And no problems with it, neither.

We were joined by other Buellers, including a 60-year-old guy who drove a white Firebolt and had an outrageous sense of dry humor, and a smaller man in his early fifties who bought a Buell because he promised himself a Harley for his 50th birthday and found they really weren't what he wanted yet. They all had stories to tell and opinions to voice and I enjoyed listening to them.

The rain continued unabated. Christian, the Harley-employed organizer of the event, was supposed to officially introduce the day at 0900 hours, but it ended up being 0930, which I don't think anybody minded too terribly because we weren't raring to drive in pouring precipitation.

At 0930 hours Christian welcomed us all, specifically the women, which I considered unnecessary. I know I'm intruding on guys' territory, and I try to be unobtrusive about it. No need to rub it in their faces.

We were introduced the organizers, the TCS experts who'd be guiding our training, and to the medics, who we all hoped would be rather bored that day. Christian said that if the ambulance wasn't there nobody would drive, and there was only one ambulance, so nobody crash and spoil things for the rest of the group.

We were divvied into three groups: French-speaking Swiss and two German-speaking Swiss, one with and one without track experience. I was obviously in the group without track experience, together with Alex, the 50-year-old who bought Buell instead of Harley, and the twit.

The latter sat on an orange Ulysses. I say sat on because she didn't drive it. I heard this was the third time she'd been to one of these Buell days, so she'd been "driving" for at least three years, and yet she had no more control over that Ulysses than your average Jugo over his R1. She snuck around corners, crept through straight stretches and braked as often as not. I've no doubt her poor machine has never been past 5000 rpm. And afterwards, when Knoblauch, our group's instructor, told her to drive her tempo, and not watch what the others were doing or try to match them, she excused herself by saying she couldn't find her flow today, she didn't know what the problem was... Yeah.

It was still drizzling when we got outside, but at least it wasn't pouring anymore. We drove a couple laps of the track to get a picture in our minds, and then the training began.

Our group started with an exercise that consisted of proper downshifting. It sounds silly, but there was a point to it, at least for me. I use my engine brake more than either front or back brakes, and if the rpm is past a certain point when you gear down, that fat back tire likes to slide around a bit. The point of this practice was to brake, gear down and let the clutch out before hitting the curve, which then you had to take properly. Good practice, no problem.

The second exercise was hairpin curves - my least favorite, I admit. But I learned quite a bit from that practice. It was a sharp right turn, and I learned to focus on a pointon the left side of the road, reach it, swing right, leave my left elbow to dangle (help relax and push the bike lower with my right arm), and drive tward the left edge on the other side of the curve. Good practice.

Either on this or the previous exercise a guy who drove an XB12 with an awesome-sounding Sebring exhaust slipped and laid down his bike. He scraped up the frame on the left side and broke his clutch lever. The lever was promptly replaced, courtesy of Buell, and he can cover the frame scrape with a black puck. No harm done, really.

The third exercise was the best of all: driving a good curve line. The sector of the track we used for that started with a straight drive which swung into a 120° left curve, swung up again into a straight stretch, another curve left and back to the beginning. We drove it a few times, Knoblauch told us to go easy at first and pick up speed as we went along, and when taking the curves, try to get your rear end off the bike, as if you were riding a horse.

Löchen taught me about hanging off at the beginning of summer. I only do it when I'm in my leathers, and I was going to make use of it this time.

I rode the circuit twice, normally, and the third round came down the first straight in second gear, letting the engine brake reduce the speed a bit so I could take the curve. I swung over left, so my right thigh was on the bike's seat, and drove that curve as smooth as you wish. And again on next the left curve. From then on it was nonstop hanging off practice and so much fun. Knoblauch gave me one little correction that let me swing into the curves at a later, better time and take them smoother. Of course, this was only practice in hanging off on te left side, with left curves being my strong ones anyway. But later on I got to practice some right hangoffs when we drove the complete circuit.

When Knoblauch waved us out to give individual advice, all he said to me was "Bravo." And darn if there was a better compliment he could have given me. Alex, sitting beside me on his silver S1, saw me beaming, grinned and said, "Some critique, huh?"

We did a few more laps after Knoblauch gave us his observations, and then it was time for lunch.

I joined Alex and the 50-year-old for lunch. We pulled off our biker jackets and put our gloves on the heaters to dry. Alex asked me if I didn't want something for around my neck; I looked chilly. He gave me a bandana, which I gratefully accepted, since I hadn't brought a sweatshirt. We were sitting at the nicely-decked table, waiting for food when Christian walked up. He too asked whether I didn't want a sweatshirt. I said yes, I would... And he brought me a black 1125R hoodie and said I could keep it. I grinned and thanked him heartily while the guys around me demanded whether they could have one too.

Christian shook his head and said they only had two. Yup, I'm lucky to be a girl.

Lunch was quite good, and it was served to the tables, which was unexpected. There was a mixed salad, chicken curry on rice (a bit overspiced, but still good), and crème brûlée for dessert. During lunch we had ten minutes of sunshine. Figures.

After lunch free driving on the circuit was scheduled. Our three groups took turns, fifteen minutes at a time, putting the skills to use we'd learned or perfected that morning.

I was out three times, I think, relishing that curve section, practicing the hairpin curve and noting what I needed to improve on, and keeping tabs on my tire traction. During my third round on the circuit, I noticed that my back tire wasn't stable anymore. I don't know whether it was the tire, since the PilotPower grips best between 20 and 40 degrees Celsius, or whether I had gotten to know the circuit and was driving faster and more confidantly when I shouldn't have, especially in my favorite section with the 120° curves. Most likely the latter. I was planning to just leave the circuit, whether our time was up or not, before the tire really walked away from me, but just then the checkered flag waved us all out anyway.

I found Alex and he said he probably wouldn't be going out again. The wet piste wasn't allowing for real speed or really low cornering. I agreed, saying I thought I was starting to get overconfidant; I'd driven well and a lot and I'd be fine with it if the day ended there. This was around 1530 in the afternoon, the sky still gray, rain still coming down in drizzles, with two hours of wet autobahn driving ahead of me yet.

Knoblauch, our instructor, joined us and agreed that he didn't feel like going out for much longer either. He'd lead the round next time our group went out and do a couple laps, and then he'd get off the track too.

Half an hour later, our group headed out for the last time, Knoblauch at the head. Alex decided to do a couple more laps on his S1 after all.

My mind was telling me to seize this last chance to train on a racetrack; my gut feeling told me I'd regret it if I pressed the Beastie much further. My bike had done me proud all day; I knew I'd been overextending on those last few laps and I knew I shouldn't push my limits. So I stayed put, left the Beastie standing nose to nose with an 1125R and watched the others drive their laps before going over to admire the row of 1125Rs which would be used as "rental bikes" the next day for those who came without their own Buells.

It was around 1600 hours, I was still studying an 1125R, behind a wall that blocked my sight to track. But I heard the crash nonetheless, clearly. There was the sound of scraping gravel, and a crunch. I hurried over to the entrance to the circuit.

An orange XB had driven out of the second curve - part of my favorite section of the track. I couldn't see who the driver was; no one else knew either in the beginning. We saw him get up, though, so he was all right. Alain went into the track and waved people out with the checkered flag. Alex, who had left the track after a few rounds like he said he would, came up. Peter and a shaggy-haired young man appeared too.

Peter asked me, "Wasn't this your group?" as the other drivers filed into the parking area.

I looked a bit embarrassed that my concerns for myself and my Beastie had been confirmed by another's misfortune. "Yeah, but I figured I'd call it a day before I got overconfident."

Peter patted my shoulder. "That's smart."

All the drivers had come off the track by now - all except Knoblauch. And now we knew who the unlucky driver was. Of all people, our instructor had driven off the track and wrecked his bike.

There was quite a bit of activity back there at the curve; people rolling the bike away, binding gas or oil or substance that had run onto the track, checking Knoblauch... It took a while before everything meandered back to us. Knoblauch was angry, though he kept his temper and tried not to show it. He caught sight of me and exclaimed, "I knew better than to stay on the piste! I said I wouldn't." I nodded sympathetically.

His Buell was very dirty on the left side, and somehow a hole had been punched in the oil keep by the back wheel. Some insurance agent was be real pleased to find about it on Monday.

The next group went out onto the track, and I figured I'd get ready to go home. I didn't have much to pack - the clothes I'd gotten, basically. Alex said he was ready too, so we could drive together.

I said goodbye to Achim and Peter, until the next service (in 3000 km, probably at the end of October).

One of the Harley employees stopped me and Alex then and said there was going to be a debriefing, whether we wanted to wait for that? Sure, why not.

Everybody was gathered in the tent to fill out a critique of the day. I had almost only positive things to say about all of it. A pity the weather wasn't better, but the organizers couldn't help that. Besides, maybe people would have been less careful on dry roads ad we would have had more accidents. I enjoyed every minute of the Buell Day, even so.

Alex, the guy with the Sebring-exhaust XB12 who crashed, a guy with glasses and I all drove together for a ways. The first two each got to take home a huge black umbrella with the Buell logo on it. They packed it sticking half out of their rucksacks, and we made a funny picture, cruising through the cobbled streets of the little towns, these massive machines with their growling engines - and old lady umbrellas sticking out of the backpacks of the drivers.

The Sebring guy split off before we reached the Autobahn; I left Alex and the other driver at a rest stop near Aargau and reached home around 1930 hours, wet, cold, dirty, gritty, tired and very, very happy.


September 11, 2008 - Thursday

I've got enough planned for the next week and a half to keep my mind off some difficulties that have arisen in CeCe. Starting today, as follows:

School tonight, but I'm skipping the first one and a half hours. At least that. Maybe I can clear my desk in that time.

Tomorrow morning at 0900 hours an appointment at the optometrist's. I'm going to get half-year lenses and I'll finally be able to see again.

After that's over I'm going to swing by SihlCity and look for a suitable driving backpack. It should be black and small and not have too many straps on it. I hope I find something, because I'll need it for the next few Saturdays.

Friday evening I need to spend an hour or two at the shooting range and put in my contirbution to the community shoot, since I won't be around on Saturday.

Bright and early on Saturday, around 0715 hours, I'm headed down to Lignières and hopefully won't get rained upon. I'll be there at the Buell Training and Racing Day until about 1830 hours.

Sunday will probably be rainy, and I'll make a comfy day of it with books and artwork and catching up on chores.

Next week work as usual, possibly play hooky from a couple classes, hopefully do an evening drive through the Schwarzwald with UB. And then comes the highlight of the month, on Saturday, September 20: The Road Runner Tour 2008. (If it's not raining, that is.)

Fabian, Roger, Remo and I will a tour to beat all tours, driving these passes in an 18-hour marathon, covering 1200 km in one day.

1. Flüela
2. Ofen
3. Stelvio, (schönere strecke)
4. Umbrail
5. Gavia ( mit vorsicht zu geniessen!)
6. Foppa (sehr eng und gefährlich,variante Aprico)
7. Bernina
8. Albula
9. Julier
10. Maloja
11. Splügen
12. Bernardino
13. Lukmanier
14. Oberalp
15. Gotthard
16. Nufenen
17. Grimsel
18. SUSTEN ab auf die bahn

I've driven maybe a third of them before; the rest will be new to me. I've been assigned the spot right behind Remo, who's leading, since I'm the least experienced driver of the pack. I'll be meeting them at the autobahn rest stop by Wädenswil at 0500; they'll have come up from Gunzgen in Solothurn where they'll meet at 0400 hours.

I'm very excited and rather nervous about the tour. I don't know if I'll be able to manage all of it. If not, there's obviously no requirement to drive all 1200 km and I can go home early. But I want to test my limits - and the Beastie's. My bike has been really good for almost two months now, not losing any screws or having electronic failures. I hope that doesn't change on this tour...

I'll be sure to post about it after I recover from it in a few weeks.

Part of the gang

September 8, 2008 - Monday

I haven't updated my blog in way too long.

After the great tour of August 30, I joined Roger's forum, United Bikers, and got into full swing of being part of a small but select group of enthusiasts. UB centers on the motorcycles, of course, but come bad weather and winter, there's all sorts of other things to do. I'm going to like this.

The first official UB shindig I got to join was the 13th UB dinner in Frenkendorf. There was a quick spin out to Black Forest before folks met at the restaurant, but I had to miss the drive because I worked until 1645 hours. I went home, changed into jeans - it was warm, and I didn't want to don full bike gear for dinner, but I didn't want to drive the autobahn for an hour in capri pants either - and headed south to Basel.

I missed the exit to Liestal and weaseled my way through the rush hour traffic of Basel before turning around and finding Frenkendorf. I was half an hour late, but so was Octavian, and we found the restaurant and five other UBs waiting for us. Roger greeted me; I didn't know any of the other guys. David, Steven who just got himself a new Fireblade, Fabian and Toni were there. I think Toni is the other Speedy driver, but I'll have to go to one or two more meets before I can keep the names straight.

Dinner was fun. The youngest guys are in their late twenties, so the conversation was on a moremature level than some stuff I've heard around. I love listening to the anecdotes of the experienced. I was fairly quiet, though they included me in the coversation, and Toni - I think that's the name of the guy I was sitting next to - had several stories to tell me, which I listened to with great interest.

We laughed, had three conversations going at the same time and planned further outings. The only alcohol on the table was a small glass of panache for Octavian; everyone else had pop and coffee. If this first good impression of the United Bikers gets confirmed, it'll be worthwhile driving to Basel every so often to meet with them.

Weather wasn't looking so great, so Roger said he'd let us know by 1000 hours on Saturday whether we could do that Black Forest tour we'd been looking forward to. Then we talked about what to do on winter days when we couldn't drive, and of course guns came up. So sometime in October or November we'll be doing a UB shooting day, complete with bring-your-own-guns. They've done it before; they do a lot when they can't drive. Shooting, go-carts, quads, bungee jumping and tandem flying, indoor sports like bowling, climbing... You name it. There's some things I'm not going to do, like bungee jumping, but I'm really looking forward to hanging out with these guys. Maybe I can get Florian to come along to some of these meets too. He should get out and about a little more often.

Saturday ended up being rainy and gray in the Basel/Black Forest area, so there was no UB tour. I used the morning to catch up on my room, clean up my e-mail inbox, sketch a bit and explain to Kevin that I'm not obligated to spend time every weekend with him, before meeting Ken, a Fireblade driver, at 1400 hours for a quick two-hour run over Ibergeregg and the Etzel, getting in our quota of curves and reaching home just before it started to rain.

I let the evening roll out with a movie and some reading before going to bed early to sound of dripping rain.

I was well-rested next morning when I went with Dad on the paper route. After church we all went up the Rigi with Oma and Opa (except Mom, who wasn't feeling well) and after we got home, Löchen split time between helping Alex start putting his Husaberg back together and working on my blue engine lighting on the Beastie. We - yes, I actually made myself useful and was able to help a bit - mounted four of six LEDs and were able to see how the Beast looks lit up. On the left there's an LED in the air intake and one under the tubeframe that casts a lovely glow on the... whatever the big box thing is behind the foot peg. There's an LED behind the pegasus in the fly screen and another LED in the right air intake. The last two LEDs will be mounted, on in the airbox cover and one back by the ventilator.

The two LEDs in the air intakes might need adjusting; the main glow is hidden behind the plastic. On the right side Florian suggested we mount a long blue lamp instead of just a bulb. I'll see if I can find one.

Either way, the Beastie's look better and better.

Alex asked me what all I still wanted to do to the bike. Here's the list:

-Metal plate under the seat
-Xenon headlights
-Blue lighting on the display
-Spikes in the front axle

Yup, that'll be it.


September 1, 2008 - Monday

Feuertaufe means baptism of fire, and on Saturday, I had mine.

It would take more time than I have right now to describe everything that happened on Saturday. Kevin, Nico on his Triumph Speed Triple, Steve and I met Octavian and a couple other Triumph drivers on the Freiburgerstrasse in Basel and did the Black Forest tour we'd planned three weeks ago. The beginning was rather relaxed. We drove one awesome pass; the rest was towns and flatlands which were pretty, but made for easy driving. We stopped for lunch at a secluded little restaurant in the woods, and Roger, who drives a fully customized skyblue Triumph Speed Triple 1050, said he was getting square tires and that if Octavian didn't start with the curves after lunch he'd take over the lead.

After lunch we circled back toward the mountains and forests, picking up speed and gradually losing half the group. We'd started out with nine people. At the end of the day, when we reached Todtmoos, only Nico, Roger, Octe and I were left.

That was the most difficult drive I've been on yet, and I loved it. Octe and Roger have been driving for dozens of years; Nico at least for five, and I managed to keep up with them. When we stopped for a drink in Todtmoos, Octe said decidedly that next time, only the absolutely positively experienced would be invited, the ones who could keep up - Roger, me, Nico... I'm sure I beamed. I've been driving for a measly ten months, but I now officially belong to the good drivers. The good drivers said so.

We drove another couple passes before reaching the border, where we separated, Roger and Octe heading back to Basel and Nico and I heading to Zürich. We agreed to meet next Saturday, 0930 hours, at the autobahn rest stop Pratteln, for an honest-to-goodness curve marathon through the Black Forest. Roger, who's planning the route, said we'd be done by 1500 hours and exhausted. Nico still needs to tell me whether he can come or not, but either way it's going to be great fun - if the weather holds. If it's rainy we won't do it. It wouldn't be much good; you can't lay in the curves properly.

Now Roger invited me to his forum, which basically exists to plan tours. I'll be seeing the Black Forest from the inside a lot more from now on, I think.

The Bueller's Prayer

August 22, 2008 - Friday

I found this on some guy's MySpace and I love it. I'm gonna put it on my profile.

The Buell is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
It maketh me burnout on black pavements;
It leadeth me beside busy freeways;
It restoreth my soul;
It leads me in the path of quickness for its name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of rice,
I shall fear no turbo,
for Torque art with me;
Thy clutch and thy throttle they comfort me.
Thou preparest a Track for me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou hast anointed my engine with oil;
My bike overpowers.
Surely traction and victory shall follow me,
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the CC's, Forever.


The Nufenen Pass ends in Airolo, TI

August 18, 2008 - Monday

I didn't know that. I didn't realize just how far south the Brünig and Grimsel region actually is, until Saturday evening when we hopped them, drove the Nufenen and ended up freezing at 2478 meters above sea level in All'Acqua.

But for clarity's sake, let me start at the beginning.

The weather forecast for the weekend was fairly drab, and I'd kind of hoped to spend most of it sketching. I knew I'd drive a bit; the Beastie can't be negelected. But I'd been itching to put some decent sketches in the lovely Glowy Mushroom book from Steen.

Nothing came of it, though. I knew Kevin would suggest something, and since it was lunch at his grandma's in Schenkon, and he'd already told her I'd be coming, I figured okay, but I couldn't stay late.

When I arrived in Birmensdorf, Kevin's mother's black Duke II, Kevin's blue Barossa quad, and Nico's white Triumph Speed Triple were all out standing on the parking lot. I was pleased to find Nico would be coming along. He never runs out of anecdotes, and I learn a lot about what all can go wrong or can be made to go wrong with a motorcycle.

After lunch the boys did some garden work; Kevin's mom buried the ashes of their Deutsche Dogge Elvis, who they'd recently had put down for cancer and cremated. She went home early. I was lazy and relaxed, played with the cat, got a sun tan and spent an hour soaking up summer and doing nothing - and actually felt good about it. I guess I should do that a few times a week. Forget the watch, forget the tests, even forget a book. Just go out into the woods for an hour with Retta and walk up the streams or something. It sounds like a good resolution, but I wonder if I'll be able to follow through on it this week, since Mom and Dad are gone on vacation and I'm in charge of the house.

Back to the subject: It was about 1600 hours and we were getting ready to go. Nico suddenly had the ingenious notion to go drive the Brünig "really quick" - after all, we were practically in Luzern, and from Luzern it's a cat's leap to the Brünig.

Well, not really, but I was up for it, mostly because I wanted to see how well Nico drove the passes. Kevin was more than iffy, especially since he had the quad. But he let himself be talked into it, and we set off.

None of us were geared decently for a tour. Nico and I were wearing jeans, tennis shoes and T-Shirts. I had on my leather jacket, he was wearing his textile coat. Kevin was wearing regular pants and his old KTM coat. But oh well. Off we went.

We drove the Brünig - it was the third time for me, and I'm liking that pass better and better. There wasn't much traffic on it this time, so it was extra fun. At the top, we waited for Kevin, and Nico talked him into driving the Grimsel too, after I said I was up for it. Nico hadn't done any decent driving for two and half months - his girlfriend is a real leech who doesn't like him not being with her - and he was itching to get some hours of biking in. Kevin wasn't so happy about it but he tagged along. And I was in the spirit too - there'd be no more artwork done tonight.

We roared down the Brünig, refueled in Meiringen, and raced up the Grimsel. Nico and I waited at the top of the Grimsel, and Nico gushed over the sound of the Beastie. He said it had a real growl to it, a very rich, deep tone. Needless to say, it made me proud.

On the other side of the mountain, the Grimsel runs into the Furka pass, which I don't much like. It's narrow, which wouldn't be so bad, except that it has a lot of hairpin curves in it that you continuously have to break for.

We didn't turn left this time, though. We followed the Furka into the valley and refueled. Nico said that Shell gas station was the last one before Airolo, and I thought, Airolo? Tessin? We're that far south?

We were getting there. Nico led the way up the Nufenen. I'd never driven it before, and after the Beast leapt the first few curves (because of rifts and waves in the blacktop) I slowed down and lost sight of the Speed Triple. Despite some bad road sections, though, the Nufenen was a great pass. Water ran along the road, there were cowpies to watchout for, cows could meander into the road at leisure - but the stretches between sharp curves were long and visible enough to prepare for all that. I reached the summit shortly after Nico, fingers cold, shoulders cramped and grinning like Christmas.

At 2478 meters, All'Acqua was freezing. There was snow along the roads, and a bit of a wind blowing. The restaurant wasn't open, so I held my hands against the frame of the Beastie to warm them up a bit. I was glad I'd opted to wear jeans instead of BDUs; the jeans kept the wind out. We didn't hang around too long up there. It was graying, and soon after Kevin arrived we headed on down the mountain, hoping the valley would be considerably warmer.

It wasn't. The other side of the Nufenen was fun to drive too, though I'll want to do it again in daylight. We followed Kevin down and took it easy, since it was cold and getting darker. We reached Airolo and parked the machines at a restuarant to discuss the situation. By now it was about 2030 hours.

We all agreed we needed to warm up, so we grabbed a table inside, ordered hot chocolate and pizza, and I gave a quick call home to let them know I was in Tessin and would be back in a couple hours.

I asked Nico about the KFX 400, the Kawasaki quad I'll probably be buying this winter. He owned one, before buying the KFX 700, and his critique of it as an all-rounder machine is excellent. My problem will be finding one for 6'500.- or less. Right now all the ones on sale are for 10 grand or more, and I don't want to spend as much on a quad as I did on my precious Beastie. I'm hoping that the winter will bring lower prices.

The KFX is a manual transmission ATV designed for 13-meter jumps and rough terrain, chain run and very hardy. I'll use it for my commutes in the winter (to preserve the Termignoni on the Beastie from salt corrosion, and to be able to plow through snowy passes like Ibergeregg). Basically I mean to use it as a workhorse, though if I know me the week after I buy it I'll be putting on new mirrors and blinkers and looking into a pneumatic suspension system Nico's been telling me about. But that's off in November - coming fast, but not to be worried about just yet.

We warmed our hands on the hot chocolate mugs, wolfed the pizza, and round about 2130 hours mounted our machines again, having decided to take the quickest way home, which was through the infamous Gotthard tunnel and nothing but autobahn to Sihlbrugg.

Kevin led to set the pace. We were riding the curve that leads to the Autobahn and saw a sea of lights below us. So that's what the perpetual traffic jam in front of the Gotthard looks like. (Luckily, it didn't affect us much because the feeder from Airolo leads pretty directly into the tunnel's mouth.)

The Gotthard is an old tunnel, the ugliest I've ever seen. It has just two lanes it, one running south and the other north. The walls are blackened by the innumerable crashes and fires that have occured under its low ceiling. It would make a lovely backdrop for something in the style of 28 Days Later.

But it did have a redeeming feature. It was warm. Nico and I enjoyed the echo of our engines off the walls, the bang of misfires, and basically the comfortable driving.

Once we were out of the tunnel it wasn't s fun any more, because it turned cold again. But we kept north, toward Zürich, cruising around 100 km/h since the quad can't do much more. I didn't mind. I dislike driving the autobahn at all, but speeds over 100 turn me into a horrible windblock. 100 is manageable, even though by time we reached Sihlbrugg, around 2330 hours, my shoulders hurt as if I'd pinched a nerve.

We halted on the side of road, said our goodbyes and see-you-tomorrow. Nico promised he'd finally show his Buell XB12 the light of day again. I'd been itching to hear his modified Termignoni ever since I found out about it.

I got to bed shortly after midnight and promptly conked out.

Sunday was the third Sunday of the month, so we had Pastor over. Around 1430 hours, though, I was back up in Birmensdorf. The boys had to mount Kevin's back wheel so he could use the Duke for the tour, but once that was accomplished we were on our way.

Nico passed me a few times and I finally heard how his exhaust sounds. It's been modified so that at 3800 rpm a valve opens and you hear nothing but loud, pure engine, like on a really old Harley. It's great. And the best part is, it's legal, because the engine noise is measured at 3300 rpm. I want.

We ended up driving the Ibergeregg pass, which is slowly but surely becoming my second home stretch after the Albis-Buchenegg. I've driven that pass more than any other non-Albis one, and I like it better every time. You need to watch out for the traffic, some tight curves, and bitumen on the road, but you can hop up it pretty fast if you get to know it. It's a pity it's not as long as the Furka.

We got back to my place around 2000 hours. Nico invited us to supper, but I bowed out, much as I'd have liked to go, because I knew it would get late and I'd cuss myself in the morning. He and Kevin discussed Dad's BMW and Florian's Husky - which finally runs again, yay! - and then left for Zürich. I'll see them both again on Wednesday - I hope - when we go to the Lüthi Day of the SAW AG.

This morning Mom, Dad and the kid left for a week of Hungary, and tomorrow I can pick up Joshua at 0830, wrk at Opa's in the afternoon and have class again in the evening. I dunno, I'm kinda looking forward to this week...

Louder, faster, stronger

July 31, 2008 - Thursday

Three months of waiting, two weeks of excited anticipation, and a Monday that just wouldn't pass fast enough... And the adrenaline hasn't worn off yet.

Florian picked me up at the office shortly after 1600 hours and we headed to my mech's. Peter was out on the test drive when we arrived, so we had to wait a bit, but there was no question when he returned. The Beastie's cat purr had been replaced with a genuine bear's growl. I couldn't stop grinning.

Florian's first comment was something to the effect of, "It's not that loud."

Bah humbug. And he changed his mind soon anyway. Peter gave the Beastie a quick high-pressure bath and warned me to seriously be careful as I got used to the new strength and handling of a powerful little bike. It has three times as much horsepower now.

I promised I would, and refused to let Florian drive it home for me.

I forgot to ask Peter for the Beiblatt, the official document that confirms the new exhaust is legal. The mech will send it to me with the bill.

Florian and I headed home, and I was very careful. In the lower rpm range you barely notice a difference in pull. Just the fat, showy growl of a two-cylinder with a decent exhaust.

But pulling away from red lights and passing things... And when I close the gas, it misfires and burbles and sounds so darn cool! My face was sore from grinning when I roared up into our drive.

Kevin and Nico were there, waiting. Nico asked if there was any possibility my driving style had suddenly been changed. I said I didn't know but I was working on finding out.

Nico suggested we drive out to Winterthur to visit his dad. That way I'd get to try to Beastie on the autobahn.

It goes. It goes fast. I can pass things within seconds and know that I have pull and power left over to scramble out of tricky situations. The only aspect of the new exhaust that's a little bit worrisome is that it's so rich and smooth that when you're driving a fairly straight stretch at high speeds, and it's late and you're a bit tired that it's very lulling.

Yeah, I'm on Cloud Nine. And I can't wait for Saturday for a real full-day tour with other bikers. I've become accustomed to the power by now; it's time to use it.

1000 km weekend

July 28, 2008 - Monday

Wow, what a weekend. I spent almost the whole time from Friday morning to yesterday evening on the Beastie. My left knee is still a bit sore, but it was so much fun.

Friday morning dawned sunny, though still colder than July should be. I got some personal work and filing and clean-up done while I waited for Kevin to say he was awake. Round about 1000 hours we headed over to Tann to his mechanic to get that guy's input on the damage from three weeks ago.

They chatted for quite a bit. I was all raring to go hit the passes, so I finally just geared up again and drove over to stand in front of the shop, engine running. It didn't take Kevin long to say goodbye then, and we headed back.

It was midday before we actually headed off on the real tour, but in six hourse we covered more than 400 kilometers. We took the Autobahn to Nidwalden and then drove the Brünig, Grimsel and the Furka. The Grimsel was great, and would have been better is there hadn't been so much doggone vacation traffic blocking the roads. Still, considering it was the first time I drove the stretch, we actually did make a good drive out of it.

We ate lunch at the top of the Grimsel, and then headed down. The Furka was a bit worrisome in places with really tight curves, and the view was so astounding I didn't want to drive too fast anyway, so Kevin had to wait for me a few times. We were both hindered by some real jerks on the way down the Furka. Specifically two British cars, the stearing wheels on the wrong side, who crawled down the mountain but didn't have the decency to pullover for a moment and let the motorcycles - there were abou five behind them - pass. I was glad to finally get ahead of them.

My back brake smelled of molten metal on that way down, but once we hit the valley that dissipated. I think I ought to check it and make sure the brake pad isn't already used down to the limit.

Saturday started early. Norbert from the SwissBikers forum had organized a tour out to the Jura and the Doubs region in France, and Kevin and I were up for it. There would only be eight or ten bikes along, so it wasn't a huge group.

The meeting point was at the train station in Solothurn, which meant an hour of driving the autobahn before the tour. We left at 0900 hours. I hate driving the autobahn, I really do. It's monotone and it puts cramps in your legs. I'm sure I can hear the boredom emanating from the Beastie too as it thunders down the flat stretch at 140 or 150 km/h. The only interesting pat of the route is before Lenzburg, where the blacktop has waves and bumps in it.

We reached Solothurn two minutes after 1000 hours and found one person there, Octavian, who drives a silver CBF 1000. We exchanged greetings and aliases and were soon joined by Norbert and his BMW 1150 as well as Katrin and her CBR 600 RR. We went to the train station kiosk to get something to drink and to wait for the others to arrive.

In the end there were nine bikes and ten people. We were joined by Filipe and his Yamaha FZ1N, the marijuana-smoking Remo and his tuned blue SpeedTriple 1050, Meke and his Suzuki V-Strom, Markus and his wife on their old Yamaha FJ 1200, and Stefan on his Kawasaki ZRX 1100. It was a small and relaxed group of people who greeted each other. Kevin and I were the youngest drivers there.

The Beastie once again didn't fail to impress and garnered the first compliments for its airbrush.

Norbert led the way, and the adventure began. The stretch started out with tight curves and steep acceleration stretches andonly got better. I was fifth in line, but despite the fact that the Beastie was still limited and wasn't pulling properly, I held my position and didn't hinder the guys behind me. The stretch was wonderful. It helps to drive behind someone because you can just watch what they do and follow suite, but even so, the road was relatively visible all the time and you could drive without much hindrance and care.

We had to stop once to let Kevin refuel. His tank isn't that big, and we'd covered 120 km of Autobahn. I topped my tank off too, and then we were on the road again.

We halted by a small chocolate shop that ended up being closed, but it was an opportunity for a ten-minute chat. My bike was admired all over again, and Stefan asked who the artist was and requested I PM him her contact information because he'd be airbrushing his bike in the fall. I was only too glad to comply.

Drinks - non-alcoholic, of course - were had in a picturesque little village near the border. Talk revolved around motorcycles, of course, and it was interesting to hear various stories and experiences by the older drivers.

We crossed into France over an unguarded checkpoint, heading alongside hills and through little towns. It was mid-afternoon, and we were racing toward lunch, hauling over a curvy pass road. I was fourth in line, with some distance between me and Stefan, who drove ahead of me. I was in third gear, took a curve, and wanted to switch into fourth. There was a faint clunk, and the gear lever suddenly wasn't there anymore. I looked down ad saw it hanging limply in front of my foot. The leverage screw had gone off on its own.

Therewas nothing to do but drive on in third gearuntil I found an opportunity to get off the road. Luckily, a parking inlet wasn't too far, and I stopped.

Remo joined me and asked if there was a problem. I pointed to the gear shifter. He voiced the appropriate expletive, and one by one the other bikers turned up too.

That particular screw was an inch screw - Buells have a little bit of everything on them - so there was no replacement from another bike. Meke suggested thatthe screw of my back brake might fit, and that we remove that. I said timidly that I used my brake rather more than the front one, but luckily no one had the proper inbus tool along to remove the screw, so my back brake stayed usable.

In the end, it was Kevin and duct tape to the rescue. Kevin took the screw from his crash pad and mounted that in a ways, but not too far so as not to ruin the thread. He secured it with duct tape from Meke and told me to take it easy with the shifting, and on we went.

I was very thankful and impressed with the helpfulness and humor of the others with the problem.

We soon reached the town where we would have lunch. Norbert found a restaurant while Felipe, who could speak excellent French, went in search of a mechanic who could properly fix my shifter back in place. And, praise God from Whom all blessings flow, he actually found one. The guy's shop was atop a hill, on the edge of town. He was a mousy young man who, now that I think of it, reminded me strongly of Charlie Chaplin with his black moustache and shy smile. He scuttled back and forth through his shop, between the dozens of big, mud-splattered quads and lawnmowers that stood in rows, trying various screws to see which would fit.

After about ten or fifteen minutes he had fixed the lever in place, and Felipe translated my comment that it was "better than before."

He even tried to refuse payment for his service, but I gave him €5 and thanked Felipe sincerely for his effort. By that time we were joined by the other seven bikes and continued on our way.

The rest of the tour went smoothly - in my opinion anyway. Some of the bikers got a tad annoyed when it began to rain after we passed back into Neuchâtel, but I didn't mind it, and the sky cleared up soon after.

All in all that day I covered another 400+ kilometers. It was wonderful. Stefan's pictures from the tour can be seen here:

Sunday was another driving day. We started church super late, which was annoying, but it worked out ebcause Roy sent me a text message aroudn 1300 hours, asking if I were up for a drive. I said sure, the sun was shining and the weather was warm; we could go drive the Ibergeregg pass.

So he came out to Birmensdorf, where Florian and I met him mid-way, and after grabbing a drink we headed to Schwyz with me in the lead.

We were on the go for about three hours, so it was a complaratively short, but enjoyable drive. We said goodbye to Roy in Affoltern a. A. and were home around 1800 hours. The day finished with a grill in our garden.

And now it's Monday, the long-awaited 28th. At the moment the Beastie is getting its new Termignoni exhaust mounted, and half an hour ago the mech called and asked for a confirmation that I wanted the bike opened up to full power.

Do I ever.

Further tweaking

July 24, 2008 - Thursday

I haven't posted in a week, and I should update again. Y'all can guess the subject, I'm sure.

On Monday, in four days - I can barely contain myself - the Termignoni will be mounted, and the Beastie will become the Beast. In the mean time, I've been - or actually, I should say the boys have been - adding more little customized elements to my bike.

Florian fixed the short gas pull on Monday evening, so the bike runs like it ought to again, even with the Rizoma grips. I gave it a good wash and wax on Tuesday before spending the day driving (grayness ad occasional drippiness notwithstanding).

Yesterday, Florian installed an LED in the headlights which adds a blue glow to the lighting. You can't really see it in daylight, but it shows in the dark and it adds a nice touch. It'll fit the blue engine lighting, which Florian said he'll put in after the Termignoni has been mounted. Next week, that means.

I've bought a textured aluminum grid to be mounted under the seat. Kevin took the measurements for the area and will cut the grid to size once he starts work again. We'll have to drill four holes in the base to mount it, but that shouldn't be a problem.

There's not much left to alter on the Beastie. In the winter I'll have the Termignoni tuned and opened so it'll be even louder. I'll also have the mech do a thorough strip-down of the bike so he can fix that annoying tic-tic-tic that ruins the deep growl of the engine. And I've been toying with the idea of getting the Chrümmer - the engine pipes - chromed. Kevin knows somebody who can do that, so he'll ask about difficulty and price for me. I bet it would cost a pretty penny, but it sure would look cool.

And of course, I still need a set of rear blinkers mounted....

In the mean time, I've commissioned Rusti from the Windstone forum to do a couple photo manipulations for me, consisting of a stylized grizzly and the Beastie. Finding good pictures of grizzlies in usable poses turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected, but Rusti offered a couple good sites to look. I'll be able to use the pictures in various way when they're ready.

What else? I'm taking tomorrw off and will spend the day driving. The weather should be great. I have no obligations over the weekend either... Yup, these next few days will be lovely. And Monday keeps getting closer.

Driving at midnight

July 17, 2008 - Thursday

Ever since summer finally kicked in - though you wouldn't know it at the moment, since it's gray and raining outside, again - I've become really fond of driving at night. Driving home from Birmensdorf over the Albis at 11 o'clock at night when there's a warm wind blowing is something else. Especially on the Knonauer side of the mountain, where ribbons of mist and dew hover over the road, catching the beam of my headlights and getting washed away as I drive through. If it weren't such a lame metaphor, I'd say it's like flying.

Another neat thing about driving at night, on any road, is that there's almost no one out. Even in the City, if you know where the flash boxes are, you can whiz through roads that'll take you half an hour to get down the next morning when you go to work. Nico and Kevin are talking about doing some more night tours of the passes, like last year, because then nobody's out, if a car happens to stray up there you'll know it coming by the headlights, and you can go as fast as you want because there are no cops and no dang tourists with their RVs out. So far, though, the plan is just talk, until Kevin's Duke runs again. Which'll be Saturday, I hope.


July 9, 2008 - Wednesday

Woot! The Termignoni finally arrived at my mech's!

I swung by there today over lunch on my way to Oma's, and Achim informed me off-hand that the Termignonis had arrived. I'd meant to ask what was up with them; I'd never expected him to say they were finally in stock.

He ordered the aluminum ones. I'd actually wanted a full titanium one (about 30% more expensive) but Achim says that aside from the weight, there's not too much of a difference. Titanium is more rust-resistant, but most folks have the aluminum and it works great. Cost: 1250.- Add the cost of the mech's work to that, and I think I won't be doing too badly with the aluminum exhaust.

Now the only thing left to figure out is when to have it mounted. The earliest date the mech can manage is June 28; but I'm thinking I don't want to cross the border for Löchen's and my Schwarzwald tour with a full-power bike. (After all, I'm supposed to ride it limited to 34 PS for two years.) I'll ask Löchen about it tonight, but either way - in August at the latest the Beastie will become the Beast, with all 92 PS and even more of a Harley growl. I can't wait.

Three weeks from now

July 8, 2008 - Tuesday

...will, God willing, find me and Löchen cruising the Schwarzwald - or roaring around the curves. I've never been there, but I'm sure it'll be lovely.

Atel demanded that Florian take a vacation, since they don't have enough work for him during their three-week company hiatus. Florian will take one week off, the last week, since my boss is gone for the first two weeks and I should be in the office when he's not around. So from August 4 onwards we'll be burning rubber.

It would be great fun if a couple other guys could come along, but I'm not sure who can. Selim's Hyosung is a wreck; Alex's Unreliable is stripped in the basement of our barn, Kevin's vacation ends on August 1, and Nico has his leech of a girlfriend to deal with.

We won't be doing a lot of planning. I'll ride in my leathers, so I'll only need a couple changes of tops and one pair of pants for the evening. We won't need to pack too much in the way of shampoo and such since I've got stuff we can both use. I'll have to leave the laptop at home since we won't have room for it, but I will take a fat book to read in the evenings. The digital camera has to come along, and the wallet, and other than that, I think we'll be set to go.

More tuning plans

July 1, 2008 - Tuesday

Last night got kinda late because I spent it with Kevin and Nico.

On Saturday, Kevin came along on the Rigi with Opa and Oma and me, and we'd just barely gotten down the mountain. I was waiting at the Gössi farm for him, and he just didn't show, so I gave him a call and it turned out his faithful Duke wasn't running. I'm not even going to try to describe the problem, even though I spent about two hours last night watching them take it apart and analyze it. Anyway, it was something in the motor that broke through something else.

We pushed the bike to the Gössi farm, and yesterday evening Uncle Andy took his Dodge Durango and trailer, picked up Kevin from work and drove out there to get the Duke. They dropped it off at Nico's workshed in Zürich. Nico has all the tools and a platform so they can work on it easily.

So, yesterday while they got their hands greasy and passed tools around, I looked through Nico's stash of parts. He's got about a dozen motorcycles and quads and stuff for all of them. In my head, I started to put together a list of things I still want to do to the Beastie. I'll make an Excel file of it as soon as I get a chance.

-blue xenon headlights
-longer handlebars, maybe blue
-metal grid under the seat to cover the scratched black plastic over the wheel
-blue Rizoma handlebars
-chrome Chrümmer pipes (maybe those come with the Termignoni)
-Termignoni tune-up in the winter
-K&N air filter (ordered)
-engine lighting with blue LEDs
-axle spikes

Yesterday Kevin brought along the first pair of axle spikes for the back wheel. The center bar was a bit short, but the spikes - which aren't as pointy as I'd have liked, but shouldn't cause too much trouble with the police - look great. I can't wait to have all four mounted.

The next thing is really to get the back blinkers mounted. I have a feeling I might need to settle for the ugly little Kellerman things, though, because the necks of the Polo blinkers are too wide to fit in the holes of the back LED assembly.

Back on the drug

June 19, 2008 - Thursday

Freut euch des Lebens. Oh yeah. I have no idea how the rest of the song goes - I guess I'll google it after I've posted this - but I've had that line going through my head since yesterday. Be happy about life. I can do that again.

Kevin was able to get the right screws from Bächli, and Florian generously agreed to postpone a computer class to pick me up from Opa's and drive me over the Albis to the Beastie.

The boys mounted and locktighted the screws. I put the hooks back on the seat. Then Kevin sat the bike and turned it one. It growled, its old Harley-engine self again. The seat held fine and the back looks great with the sleek aluminum mount and white LED light. We backed it out of the workshop and I put it in first gear. The clutch caught later than I remembered, but I think that's because I haven't driven for a week and a half. Anyway, the bike drove like it had never crashed.

I'd have loved to go for a drive for the rest of the evening, but there was work waiting for me at home, so I settled for the hop across the Albis. This weekend is coming, and it's not full. No shooting, no babysitting, and temperatures on the high end of 20°C. Carpe Diem!


June 18, 2008 - Wednesday

It's getting harder by the day to keep my patience and temper. For real - if there's been a possibility for delay, it's happened. Frank Parts says they can deliver in 2 to 5 work days; it's now the 7th. The seat frames took a week to arrive. (Okay, that could have taken longer. Thank God it didn't.) And yesterday Bächli delivered the wrong screws. I specifically said on the phone, I need the four screws for the seat frame, the carrying screws, the ones that attach to the tubeframe. It doesn't get much clearer than that. But when Kevin handed me the little bag with four screws - cost: 20 franks - I thought, These have got to be too small.

They are. The idiots delivered the screws for the LED assembly. The only thing that kept me from complete frustration was the fact that I couldn't have driven the Beastie home yesterday anyway. I'd forgotten my key, didn't have my gear along, and school started at 1900 hours. The plan now is for Kevin to pick up the right screws from Bächli after work - he's even got two along as examples so they're sure to hand him the right ones - and then I can drive the Beastie home this evening.

Over lunch I need to refuel the Bläuli - I promised I'd bring it back full - and I'll swing by Migros to pick up a fancy wine for the Derrers as a thank-you, some beer for Kris and a kilo or two of sweets for Florian as payment for them helping me rebuild my bike. There goes the second third of the 270.- I earned for babysitting last Saturday. 3000.- to amend one second of stupidity. I hope to high heaven I never do that again.

Now if my airbox cover arrives today, I'll be pretty happy. I need my bike back. The weather is going to be glorious today and tomorrow, and I need my Beastie under me.

Still P.W.

June 17, 2008 - Tuesday

For lack of the nail, the shoe was lost; for lack of the shoe, the horse was lost; for lack of the horse, the rider was lost; for lack of the rider, the message was lost; for lack of the message, the war was lost...

Well, sort of. It's for lack of four screws, actually.

The Beastie should have been running on Sunday; now it's Tuesday and I'm hoping for this evening. Yesterday over lunch break I swung by my mech's again. I'm sure I'm they're most frequent visitor. I picked u pthe left foot peg, but the two screws they'd said they had in stock on Saturday weren't actually in stock. So much for that. Kevin suggested trying Bächli in Dietikon, but they're closed on Mondays, and he couldn't find any right-sized inch screws at his workplace.

I called Bächli this morning, and they've got the screws set aside for me. Kev will pick them up after work - he works practically across the road from them. And so please it God, the Beastie will be drivable this evening. We still have to figure out how the mount the blinkers in the new back assembly. The blinker necks don't fit in the holes, and making the holes big enough to fits blinkers and washers would force us to drill along the base of the assembly... I'll leave it up to to the guys to figure that one out.

The main thing now is getting the seat frame secured and lock tighted. Once that happens, I can drive.

It seems the airbox cover wasn't delivered this morning, which is a frightful nuisance since I was going to run it over to Frau Mundwiler tomorrow over lunch while I still have the car. Maybe it came in this afternoon. Cheibe Wartäräi.

I'm sitting on pins and needles thinking I'll be getting the Beastie back. I can't wait for 1700 hours.

Addition: I was just looking through older blog posts and reading how we tuned my pride and joy up, and read Katie's plea for me to be careful and not wreck it, and my confidant reply that I wouldn't; that I wouldn't be doing anything too crazy until I had it all insured...

Me and my big mouth.