Bringing her back home.

Yesterday Oleg and I borrowed our friend Dmitry’s truck and drove up north to Sumas to pick up the SV. It was sitting in the gas station I had left it in. We loaded it up quickly, secured it and took off, making only a short break at McDonald’s for some roadtrip food. It was a long 5+ hour journey and I am so grateful to him for driving the whole way. I will be happy if I never see Sumas or that stretch of I-5 or Hwy 9 for a very long time.

I haven’t looked at the SV since we parked it. I simply do not have the mental space to deal with it or fix it now. It will have to wait until I return in September.

On the way, Oleg and I talked about various things, the one main thing that stuck in my mind was trying my hand at racing either vintage bikes or supermoto, the latter being something that a lot of guys are gravitating towards these days seeing as the trackdays are a lot cheaper ($40/day) and the speeds are slower and hence a bit safer than sportbike trackdays/racing. This has always been at the back of my mind for a little while, although I don’t really know if I have the mechanical know-how, money or support system to get into racing. I’ll see.

I took this as a sign that in spite of the last few entries, maybe my enthusiasm for riding hasn’t waned and my hating the riding in BC was more of a glitch than a sign that my motorcycling days have come to an end.

I am beginning to look forward to being in Europe next week.

Stuck in Sumas…

The bad news is that the bike completely gave up the ghost in Sumas, WA. The good news is that it was on the US side of the border so I’m not quite as fucked as I would have been otherwise. In the last few miles, I noticed that there was a small oil leak. The starter issue from last year came back with a vengeance too and I had more and more trouble getting it to start. (The border crossing deserves a mention – I was through in about 2 minutes – typical of everytime I show up on a motorcycle rather than a car. The novelty of girl on a motorcycle apparently works charms on border security every single time. The guard even helped me push my bike to a side when it wouldn’t start.)

When I stopped to refuel after crossing the border into the United States, the lights all dimmed and the GPS lost power (the mount had mysteriously started working this morning) clearly indicating another battery issue. This in spite of the fact that I had been riding all morning. After this it just plain stopped and wouldn’t start up.

I had concerns about the oil leak, so I got some 10W40 and filled it up. I got a little overzealous though, and filled it up way above the sight class window level. What do they say about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing? :| I tried all manner of things to get the motor to turn over – bmp starting, jumping from someone’s car, nothing worked.

There was nothing to it except to park it at the gas station and come back for it later during the week – the gas station people were nice enough to say that it was okay to leave it there. I was also lucky enough to have a good friend drop everything to come drive up and pick me up. I must have done something right in my life sometime to have such good people in my life!

Things could be a lot worse. I took a gamble in riding this bike up knowing that it was plagued with electrical issues. I can go  shoulda, coulda, woulda but that’s just going to be so much navel-gazing. Yeah, it sucks that I’m not home free yet and enjoying the rest of this beautiful day in Seattle, but I *am* in a comfortable place and I get to have a bit of a road trip down highway 9 with good friends. Above all, it’s good to know who my friends really are and whom I can count on when the chips are down.

Motorcycling in the Pacific Northwest…

The Seattle Times did an article about motorcycling in the Northwest. Worth a read!


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Suspension upgrade

Just got off the phone with Dave Alexander from Fluid Suspension Science and he gave me a quote for upgrading the SV’s suspension.

$100 – 2005 GSXR 750 shock (a used one that he has from a crashed race bike, this seems like a good deal)
$110 – new spring for the shock (he said that even a brand new shock would need to be re-sprung for my light weight)

$170 – Cartridge emulator (not sure what brand)
$328.58 – All the front end work (I guess this involves installing the emulators, messing with the spring, fork seals etc.)

I already have Progressive springs in there, which he said should be okay although they feel stiffer than the stock springs.

He has a good reputation in the biz, so I agreed to get it done as soon as I could get the bike in. He works out of Renton and says that he can get it done in a day, although he needs to order the spring for the shock which could take some time.

$700… erk! This had better be worth it.

(Of course, after this is done, I’m going to get greedy and want a new exhaust and a custom seat and a nicer windshield…)

Bikes – Then and Now




Yamaha XT225


2001 Suzuki SV650

2001 Suzuki SV650

2001 F650GS

2002 BMW F650GS

Yamaha Virago 250

2004 Yamaha Virago 250


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Latest Score – Bike vs. Me 3:0

This morning I dropped the bike again for the third time this week, this time while getting out of the driveway of my building. I needed to turn left downhill and was stopped waiting for the road to clear. Only I was resting my weight on the downhill part instead of uphill and within a few seconds I felt the bike slipping away from me. I think I tried to stop it for a couple of seconds then let go. What I should have done is to accelerate across and get into the opposite building’s parking lot. Or something.

In any case, I lay there for a couple of minutes with my leg trapped under it feeling like a prat. A passing car stopped and two guys helped lift it off of me and bring it back to my parking spot. I was going to ride it anyway, but realized that the clutch lever had broken off – the handguard wasn’t positioned correctly to protect it.

I was going to ride the SV, but I was so ticked off that I just went back in, changed and rode the bus instead. It was probably a good idea because the gridlock on 520 was insane and it took a whole hour to get to work instead of the usual 20 minutes.

Here’s hoping I can find a replacement lever before this weekend, in time for the Adventure Camp.

So thus far, the score is 3:0 with the bike winning. I’ve got a pulled muscle on my side and a bruise on my leg from Sunday, while the bike’s got a broken lever and not much other damage. Of course, I also feel like a complete n00b and not someone with 3 years of riding experience.

No, I’m still being stubborn and trying not to think about the kouba links.


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