Monday, August 10, 2009


May 20, 2008 - Tuesday

My first impression of the rented BMW F 650 GS was that it's a characterless sissy bike. Florian drove me to Arrigoni on Friday afternoon to pick it up, I signed the contract, handed over the 550.- rental fee and the 1000.- deposit, and drove off on the little machine that purrs like a kitten and is fuller of electronics than a cell phone.
I guess I was a bit off when I said it was characterless; that it wasn't anything you'd give a nickname. I have given it a nickname. Bemwäh is a corruption of the German pronunciation of its name, and the "wäh" at the end is comparable to "yech" in English.
From the rental place I went straight to the shooting range to help out for a couple hours, and from there I buzzed back over to Albis to Kevin's for a first practice run under test conditions.
The BMW is so chock full of sensors and driver helps it's hard to do anything wrong on it except lay too low in the curves and scrape up the foot pegs and kickstand. (In the last four days I've scraped my boots and the BMW more than I've managed to on my Buell in the eight months I've owned it.) You sit straight on it, which makes everything even easier, but on this particular bike they lowered the seat considerably, so after about forty minutes it can get uncomfortable, both for driver and passenger.
On Friday evening we drove through Aargau to Sempach, where Kevin showed me a gun shop he'd told me about earlier. He gave me an earful about driving slower. He also voiced the opinion that the Bemwäh was either improperly reduced to 25 kW, or that the Übersetzung was extra short, because it pulls so well at low rpm. Turns out it's a two-cylinder 800 ccm (not 650, like the name says). They just kept the name F 650 because it's got a reputation. BMW. Sheesh.
I got back home fairly late that night, but the next morning at 0715 hours I was back in Birmensdorf to pick up Kevin. We headed out to Aarau so I could pick up the Colt Anaconda. We ended up being half an hour late at the seller's house because we had to look for it in a suburb, but no big deal.
Like the guy I bought the Glock from, this was a guy in his 30s with a couple kids who lives in a comfortable house of his own in a respectable neighborhood. We chatted for a bit as I checked out the Anaconda. He wasn't selling any ammo with it, so Kevin suggested we swing by the Gun Factory.
We got there early, around 0930 hours, and they only open at 1000. So we had to wait - and once they opened I found out they were out of .44 Magnum ammo and the supplier hadn't delivered since January. I put my name on a waiting list and will look elsewhere for some ammo in the mean time.
Kevin had never been inside the Gun Factory, so he looked around at the displays and we talked about the Glocks and HKs in the glass cases, and I ended up buying a concealed carry holster for inside pants which fits my Glock and P226 nicely.
We went to his house for lunch, and I desposited the Anaconda and my backpack in his room before we left for the Brünig pass in central Switzerland.
Driving that pass was fun, though it would have been more fun if I'd been on my own Beastie and there weren't a bunch of nincompoops on the road. Especially the tour busses - those stinking monsters have no business on a mountain pass. They hold up traffic, and you can't pass them.
The Grimsel and Susten passes were closed, but I still got to drive a lot of curves. And if Kevin reprimanded me on Friday, he chewed me out good and proper when we reached the base of the Grimsel. He said I drove much too fast, I'd done a real risky passing maneuver, and that I needed to drive the curves smoother, and honestly, we weren't fleeing from anything.
I sighed and promised betterment. He's right, of course, and he's a good teacher. But it's so easy to speed on the Bemwäh because it's so easy to drive.
We headed home then, hoping to avoid the rain, and managed that, more or less. His mom took off to her boyfriend's house around 1900 hours, and we had supper and watched Face/Off. Needless to say, that was a late evening again. I didn't get home before midnight. I think the only person who minds that is Mom, though.
Sunday was the third such of the month, and church was at our place. I did a practice run with Kevin in the morning and found the 15-second stretch rather hard to do on the BMW. I managed the eight and the slalom fine on it, though. And Kev, who'd never driven a bike like it before, got about 16 seconds on the 15-second stretch on first try, so I knew I could do it too.
After church Kev and I were back on the road until supper time. I'd lent him my Indiana Jones movies, so we watched two of those afterwards. Preparatory work before we go watch the fourth movie next Monday, you know. Linsey, and couple brothers, Kev and I will go watch it after work on the 26th. I've heard it's supposed to fall way short of the first three, what with aliens, an aged Harrison Ford and weak secondary characters, but I love the first three, so I'll have to watch this one, too.
Yesterday, Monday, Linsey and I went to Bern by train. We walked through the old town and saw the bear pit, discovered a bunch of cute shops and enjoyed the warm weather. It was going on 1800 hours before we got back, but I got in plenty of practice time at the DOT training area anyway. I started on the breaking and got coefficients between 7.5 and 8.1, so that didn't take a lot of practice. Sissy ABS.
A guy on a Kawasaki Z1000 lent Kevin his cell phone as a timer, and we both practiced the 15-second stretch and the slalom. It turns out that guy had already been to the test three times and this was his very last chance to pass. I hoe he does; he drives better than a lot of people. Like the two Jugovic idiots who were buzzing around there. The guy practicing drove a Honda CB600F Hornet and couldn't get through a single maneuver without knocking over a pylon, killing his engine or being too fast, and to top it off he was driving around without a helmet. We were all hoping he'd crash. The Z1000 driver joked that the Jugos had hard heads (as in, idiotic) and they figured that would suffice as protection.
We got chased off the training area around 1930 hours when the DOT people were closing up. Kevin guided me through a possible test route before we returned to Birmensdorf. He invited me in for a drink, and I said I really should get back to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen, but he said, "Aw come one, just for a little bit."
The little bit ended up being an hour, which I can't say I minded one bit. And I still got back at 2130 hours so Mom just asked how things went and left it at that.
Today, Tuesday, I'd also taken off from work - tomorrow I'm sure to have a mountain of papers waiting for me - and I took Tom and Linsey to the Lenzburg castle. It wasn't a long trip, and now Linsey's seen a castle. The only two things left that we must do are visit the Höllgrotten caves in Baar and go to France.
After a delicious lunch, I got started on the winged wolf that starbreeze commissioned from me. She asked that it be painted with redtailed hawk colors and patterning, and it's looking pretty good so far.
Now it's close to 1600 hours, and around 1700 hours I'll hop over to Birmensdorf for the last practice session. Tomorrow at 1300 hours is my test, and I'm not nervous yet but I know the feeling is just waiting to pounce me. I'll let you all know how it goes afterwards, of course. Wish me luck.

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