XT225 fuel problems…

Today was supposed to be the “first day I rode to work” this year (I wish I was kidding – first major gap in riding in the past 5 years). I had fixed up both bikes last weekend and got them running, so I was pretty confident. All geared up, I decided to ride the XT. My excitement died about halfway down the block along with the bike. Same problem as the last time – it starts up fine and idles okay, twist the throttle and it dies. This time I was able to get it started enough number of times to ride it back to my parking spot, rather than push it. For logistical reasons, I wasn’t able to ride the other bike, so it was back to taking the bus for me.

It’s definitely a fuel issue, but I did take the carb out two weekends ago and didn’t find anything amiss, so I’m not sure what else to look at. From trolling online forums, I guess my next bet is to check the float bowl to see if there is any water or debris in there. I might also try draining the gas completely and putting in fresh gas (although I added fresh gad two weeks ago too). This is aggravating.

An evening with Lois Pryce

Two Saturdays ago, Shubbu, Mark and I drove down to Southsound BMW in Fife to go see Lois Pryce talk. The one and only Lois Pryce who rode her motorcycle across the Americas alone! I was super stoked and excited about it, but I managed to curb my enthusiasm enough to get us there in one piece. On the way, Shubbu couldn’t stop talking about how guilty she felt about not riding to the show. Me, not so much. It’s about 30 minutes on I-5 to get to Tacoma and I wasn’t particularly interested in riding the XT on a bunch of boring freeway miles going 65 on roads where the speed limit was 70.

I had brought with me my hardbound copy of her first book Lois on the Loose – the one that had started it all, where she rode solo from Anchorage, Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego down south in Argentina, an epic journey covering 20000 miles in 8 months on a Yamaha XT225 (no co-incidence that this was the dual sport bike I eventually bought as well). I planned on getting her second book at the talk if they were selling it, and get them both signed by her.

We arrived there about twenty minutes before the talk started, giving us enough time to purchase tickets and get food. Kudos to SouthSound for having really good food available! I’d never been to this dealership before. It was huge – almost three times the size of the BMW dealership in Seattle. In the center, there was now a projector screen with a graphic of Lois astride a bike. The seats looked like they were filling up quickly.

Lois, an unmistakable redhead – was actually sitting in one of the seats in the audience signing books. I went and stood next to her for a little bit, quite possibly with a dazed expression on my face. Then I snapped out of it when my friends went to go look for seats to actually sit down in. We found some seats and I bought a copy of her new book Red Tape and White Knuckles which recounted her solo ride through Africa.

Armed with both books, I went over to her and waiting for a couple more people to get their books signed before finally sitting down next to her and handing over my books. She asked me whether I had any big rides planned, and I told her that I was trying to decide between South America and Australia next. I told her that my friend Sarah and I had wanted to contribute to her video Ladies on the Loose, recounting female adventure riders in the world, but we hadn’t because we didn’t have any HD quality footage. She was strongly encouraging of the fact that us women riders must film ourselves more, because  “When you look at what’s out there, it’s all blokes! Fair enough. I pondered out loud that this would be a toughie because it was all I could do to stop riding long enough to take pictures, never mind video. She empathized “I know, you just want to keep riding, not stop!” But maybe this is something I need to think about for future rides. She’s right in that I see a lot of men filming clips of their rides. It’s just not a medium that I’m particularly fond of due to my ultra-short attention span, but the videos do serve to make you more visible, and that’s something that most of us women bikers could use a lot more of. I asked her what her next big ride would be, and she mentioned a possible upcoming trip through Iran, Pakistan and India. How cool! Shubbu and I told her that she had to take us with her when she went. I mean, she’d need guides who spoke the language, right? ;)

We chatted in that vein for a little bit more before I reluctantly got up and let other people have their turn.

At around 7PM, they made an announcement asking for people to take their seats because the talk would be starting shortly. I wished there was some sort of podium that she could have stood on because I had a difficult time seeing her from the middle row seats we had. I was a little surprised to see that her slideshow was about her first book, and not the second. I had assumed that she was on a book tour of the latest book. Since I’ve read the Lois on the Loose a couple of times, I was quite familiar with the story she recounted. The pictures were new though, and her narration was peppered with lots of little jokes that had me laughing.

I remember at one point when she was talking about how people were horrified that she picked a small 225cc bike for her journey, and she responded with yes, it’s pretty slow but it was totally fine for a cross-continent journey. Shubbu whispered to me – “You didn’t even want to ride it to Tacoma. I choked back my laughter at that.

After the talk, there was Q&A where a bunch of people asked a bunch of daft questions, as is the nature of these things. One of them was – “You’re married to Austin Vince, right? Isn’t he too old for you?” (echoing my thoughts somewhat, I have to confess). She replied that they had 8 years between them but that he was a fantastic guy and they had a blast together.

I asked how many miles on average she rode during that trip and what her top speed was. Apparently she rode about 200 miles per day at a top speed of about 60mph. From my experience with the XT, this sounded about right, even downright excessive on dirt roads, but of course she’s a far better rider than I am.

Overall it was a great evening. Even though I had read the book, it was quite something to hear a firsthand account of her experiences and meet the woman herself. I loved how down-to-earth and charming she was. And yet, behind all the jokes and stories, there was no hiding the fact that she is also tough as nails. You’ve got to be, to have done the things she did and lived the life she leads.

If ever I needed encouragement for my next big ride, here it was! Now excuse me while I go recharge the battery of my XT, replace the starter cable, fill up gas and break this three month hiatus to go ride! :P

No riding for a while…

Have you seen a sadder sight? :(

bikes snow


Seattle was hit by a storm two days ago which brought loads of snow and heavy winds. The temperature dropped to well below freezing leading to ice on the roads (and pretty much everywhere). We don’t salt or sand our roads since this sort of weather is most unusual for us. This essentially means no riding of any kind. *sigh*

Holy crappy brakes, Batman!

“Someone’s got a case of the Mondays!” You’ve heard that before and it usually isn’t me. I like Monday mornings because unlike most people I like getting up and going to work and having a week of work to look forward to. Some Mondays are exempt though. Like today.

I’ve vowed to wake up early and go to work every day this week. This usually means getting out there before 7:45AM when traffic turns to shit on WA-520. I cut it too close, got geared up, got on the SV and turned on the ignition and… nothing. It wouldn’t turn over, meaning battery issues out of the blue again. This is the second time in as many months that the battery has died for no apparent reason. I last rode it on Saturday, so it really has no reason to be doing this. F***ing electrical gremlins.

This meant walking back up and getting the key to the XT and riding that to work instead. By now I had missed the window of opportunity and looked forward to getting stuck in bad Monday morning traffic. The XT started up grudgingly and I rode it out. Switching bikes that are so different is always tricky and my muscles take a little adjusting – my steel-plated arm is always the first to protest for the first ten minutes. My muscles were the least of my worries today though when I realized that the brakes on the XT are way less reponsive than the ones on the SV. I found this out when a moron car just *stopped* in front of me at a “yield” sign. Wasn’t quite expecting that and stopped with only about an inch to spare between us. Ugh… my fault though. I should have been looking ahead instead of off to the side to yeild to traffic.

The second time was worse. As I droned through stop-go traffic on 520, an asshole Subaru driver unexpectedly swerved from a gridlocked left lane into my lane with no warning and I had to stomp on the brakes again. This time the bike went all wobbly and I’m surprised that my knobby tires had enough grip to come to a stop. I’m also grateful that the driver behind me wasn’t tailgating me and didn’t collide into me. I recovered and retaliated by honking at the Subaru driver and flipping him off for the next five minutes. I’m sure he genuinely hadn’t seen me at all and he kept trying to wave an apologetic hand. I passed him in a little bit and glared through his window while he still looked apologetic. I’m not quite sure how menacing a tiny motorcyclist on a 250cc bike looks, but I put everything I had into it. :P I wasn’t really mad seeing as I had recovered and no damage done, but it was more to shame him into realizing that making lane changes without looking is Not. Cool. and maybe him and the drivers around him would remember that in the future. Really I did it all for him. :P

I made it to work unscathed. The XT is such a fantastic bike to ride, in spite of its limitations. Maybe I’ll ride it through the rest of the week.

On the miscellaneous bike news front:
1. I did an oil change on the SV on Saturday. Fresh oil, whee! I noticed that my drain plug bolt was missing a crush washer and the oil filter didn’t come with one. I need to remember to get one the next time I change the oil. And umm.. also hope that the bolt stays in place without one. It did for the last 3000 miles, so why not 3000 more?

2. I noticed that 5 out of 6 bolts on the Givi windscreen were missing. They were either taken out by the douchebag who stole more bike two weeks ago (likely) or vibrated off in one night (doubtful). This calls for a trip down to the hardware store to find substitutes. I should probably also get some OEM nuts and bolts to replace some of the more rusty ones on the SV.

3. I washed the bike! After about 6 months. This is pretty good going by my track record.