Wow, really climbing and winding now this road of mine is. Up and up I go, to the left and right, it’s almost ere. Sometimes you just hit that point where you are not sure if there is even any road in front of you. One has to trust the highway does not abruptly end, this is like being in a video game only, without extra lives. Last time I was on this road was in the middle of the night, it was even scarier then. Ready to make the eastward right turn on to interstate 70 here in Utah and on into Colorado and the great Rockies. There it is, I take it right. I know I will be on this road for a while like, across most of this country. It’s always amazing how a road with the same number on it can change so much in topography and scenery right in front of me or, underneath me. I’m high on a mountain range now, feeling on top of the world then, rain. Like small B.B.’s being shot at me the rain is on my neck where it is felt most and visibility against my face shield. I tighten up the bandana around my neck but it’s time to change my plan of attack a little.
I have to think for a minute on how heavy this rain may be, will it last a while or will it clear out quickly? I see an observing lookout point on my right, the perfect quick pull over place. I pull into it or, on top of it as, it sits several feel about the road. For miles the grey, misty valley below can be seen stretching out to the east and, I am being pelted now by big, painful rain drops. I stop and leave the machine running while I jump off, undo the black bag on my rear seat and slide my suit out of it. Yes, my chop has its own independently suspended and mounted passengers seat complete with a 12 inch sissy bar. I built it all a few months ago knowing that there might be a passenger on the ride back from this race so it is mounted and along for the race, an extra 20 pounds with it’s own seat springs but right now it is holding onto my suit with the aid of some bungee netting.
Charlie Daniels Band, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” Million Mile Reflection, Epic Records, 1979
Unbuttoning my vest and laying it on my seat with my earbuds attached to it, I start putting the suit on one leg at a time. There is a competitor pulling over with me but he’s over on the shoulder of the road, not up here on the lookout. He smiles and waves as I wave back as we are both putting on the rain gear. We both have that bothered look in our faces and our body language that says” crap, now we get to ride through the rain and get wet.” Within minutes I am rebuttoning my vest over my suit, plugging in my ear buds, helmet strapped on, gloved and I am resaddled on my skoot. I wave to my competitor, jump on my skoot, up shifting while twisting some throttle down the on ramp and back onto might interstate 70, my new best friend.
Elevation still going up as this road slowly climbs and my skoot is responding nicely, even in this rain. I had made the bet at the beginning of this race that even though we did not have the route, I was certain it would be in most of this country’s higher elevations or plateaus so, I set the carburetors up appropriately. My cop bike originally came with a 127.5 main jet and stock needles in the carbs. This number and configuration made a lot of sense as it was from San Francisco and at sea level where the fatter or bigger main jets are needed as the air pressure is higher like, 1 whole atmosphere so to get the stoichiometry correct at around 14.7 parts air to 1 part fuel, the 127.5 jets worked nicely down there. I have punched this engine out a bit with larger race pistons so it’s not really a 1000 cubic centimeter or, 998cc as they really are i think it’s more around 1045. I decided to go with a short, older needle off of the old 1100cc engine that kawasaki used to make and a 115 main jet. The fatter yet shorter needle ables me to get to top speed at like half throttle so I am not killing my wrist or hand to turn the throttle. I give it a little twist and it gives me a shit ton of acceleration. This is good for long distance but a hassle in parking lots, I have to really exercise the clutch to keep it from getting away from me. I have to rest my right hand thumb on the housing to keep the back end from breaking loose on me at low speeds. It’s gonna save my wrist in the long run on this race I am sure even though I have a throttle rocker device and a cruise control of sorts. With my main jet being smaller, the engine will have more horsepower in the higher altitudes as the air gets just a little thinner and I may even get a little better gas mileage, in theory anyways but, you can imagine I really don’t care about my fuel consumption. And it’s true, as I get to the finish line in the lower and more humid and hot south, the heat builds up and it will be harder to keep the engine from running lean or that is, have too much air and not enough fuel in the stoichiometry, that is how a engine runs lean and hot and, blows up. I did however remember to bring spare jets that are fatter and if I feel I need, I can change the main jets out of my carbs when I get to that point in the south east side of the country.
In the rain now, I light a smoke and take a swig of coffee getting ready for the worst of it. Riding a rigid chopped skoot in the rain may sound tricky or just out right miserable but, over the years I have found my comfort in it, almost to a fault. It hits hard but the drops seem spread out, not a very driving or pounding rain and it’s not too cold out here yet, so its getting a little warm in my suit. I would open the suit up a bit but it has been learned the hard way by me, as all good things seemed to be learned the hard way by me, that if I unzip my suit a little to let some cool fresh air in, the suit, will try to rip off of me and violently strangle me. Of course the only way to stop the suit from strangling me is, to pull over, stop and re fasten it all. It’s really not the suit’s fault for this, it just, has no way for the mass amounts of air flow at 80 m.p.h. to go which, is probably a good thing really. If this suit had open flaps in the back, it would not be so waterproof now would it. Also I suspect if I opened the suit in the rain that I would get wet or at least my chest would then, the water would be chilled by the wind and eventually, work its way down to my crotch, yeah no thanks, my nether regions have endured enough already, I’ll just deal with the extra warmth, for now. I have to hold my smoke almost in my palm to keep the rain off of it but, I figured this trick out a long time ago, damn I need to quit smoking. Putting out the smoke I rummage through my tank bag but can’t find my small towel that was in there. It’s hard to see after a while as the rain is increasing, wiping off my face shield with a small terry towel usually works. Crap, I finally sit as far forward on my seat as possible, slowly unzipping my clothing bag in front of me and, rummage in there. It’s hard to work around the netting and water bottle. After several minutes and hoping to find a shirt, I find my socks, well that will work for now. I take the sock out and re appropriate it as my face shield wiping device.
After about half an hour the rain seems to stop, the sky opens up to a pretty blue grey. Wow, that was oddly quick but I am moving fast, apparently faster then that set of wet clouds dropping the rain on us. After a few minutes of riding, giving my suit a chance to dry in the wind, I stop on the side of the road leaving my machine on and wiggle out of my suit in a symphony of velcro ripping and squirming, basically the reverse process of putting it on. Vest, earbuds, helmet, and gloves, “Go Bob, GO!”
Primus,“Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.” Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Interscope Records, 1991.
These are the times in life longed for, the beautiful country and this wonderful early summer after the rain smells with nice road and just a steady rhythm of moving forward and soaking it all in astride my Skoot. I start to gnaw on the beef jerky pulled from my tank bag and take my time with it, enjoying every bit, nice and slowly. I even post another picture of the mountain green road behind me with a cut of jerky hanging out of my mouth. Some of my followers and family are really concerned with how I will eat so there ya go everybody, I’m a eating. Thanks for worrying about the subject but, I am currently 260 pound of all american feed man, I am sure I could live for weeks off the extra fat I carry around with me.
My clutch felt a little shy or almost slipping on my last take off so I need adjust manually at the lever with my left hand, 1 or 2 clocked turn would seem to solve the issue. I guess I could wait till I am stopped to fix this but, when I stop, I just have too many other items to deal with and tend to forget about these small details. Yeah, I can fix this now while thinking about it. Humm, I can’t seem to get this adjuster attached to my clutch perch to move for me, crap. I try a few different angles and fingers but, my hands with my gloves are are just not working and the wet of the rain isn’t helping much either. Reaching down and slowly maneuvering my left hand in my side saddle bag under my seat, I find what I am looking for. I pull up the tool and go to use it and, it’s the wrong tool. I pulled a cool phillips #2 screwdriver from the bag but, I need a flat head screwdriver. I stow the phillips in my tank bag in hopes of not making the same mistake twice. This time I remove my left glove, stowing it in my crotch under my leg, pass a big rig in the left lane and rummage in my saddle bag again and bam, feel what I am looking for, pulling it out, slowly. With the aid of the end of this screwdriver, I get the adjuster or really, the securing nut of the adjuster for my clutch cable on its perch loose and adjust as needed. Then one at time the screwdrivers go back into the saddle bag and the bag, gets re lashed close with a belt system I made for it as the original lashing system already broke on me. Must do my best to keep my clutch tight so it does not slip or cause premature wear. I have the most expensive clutch plates and springs money can but but still, every ounce of precaution is worth its weight in gold. And now ya know why, I keep all my tools right under my seat, mostly on the left, spare parts and sockets go in the right.
In this beautiful and now sunny weather, it’s time to apply some more sunblock to my fair white skin. This is done by removing my left glove again, and stowing it in my crotch again, rummaging around in my tank bag, finding the sunblock than, removing the cap with my mouth and squeezing a little on to my cheeks and nose. I screw the cap back on, still in my mouth then put the small tube back into my tank bag. Now I can kind of smear it around my face, neck and nose slowly and get it to cover and soak in my fair face. Yes, all this takes me like 10 minutes but it’s not like I got much else to do while enjoying the scenery and the beautiful sky and, operating this hard riding rigid machine between my legs. As I pass slower moving vehicles and big rigs it must look ridiculous to all around me in their cages what I am doing but, I don’t care. Sometimes I can forget it is even a rigid frame skoot with how it flies over this beautiful pavement until there is a pothole or bump and BAM! Sucker punch right to the kidneys and lower back and maybe a knee if I have my legs positioned in a lazy manner. I make it a point to move my position and posture every 15 minutes or so. I have the classic stock pedal boards so I can put my foot forward, or back, or in the middle etc. If I am real desperate, I can even set my feel on a set of pegs I have up on the crash bars but I rarely do this as it causes me to lean back and sit on my tailbone. It’s just how I designed and mounted the seat to sit. More like a flat park bench then, a lean back easy chair. I do have some bicycle frame shocks and parts of an old fork spring I cut up and mounted between the frame and the seat, it helps in keeping the suvker punches to a minumum but above all, I have the seat foam cut out where my tailbone sits. I learned a long time ago I just have this oversized back and my tailbone extends lower than most people’s do. The solution was cutting a hole in the foam of my skoots seat, it works. No one ever sees it or notices it as it’s under the pleather seat covering but, it makes all the difference in the world to me. I do it to all my skoots as I have a few handfuls of them back at home. Above all, my real secret is, my saddle rag.
My saddle rag is my one true bum saver. I stole the idea from the old american west and the Cowboys who used them between themselves and their horses saddle but you won’t see that un cool factor in the old west movies. Mine originally started off life as a mexican or south American blanket, the kind they seem to sell anywhere but, this one has been with me for many years and is well worn in and pretty damn soft. I have used it to sleep on, sleep under, sleep around and as a pillow. It even caught on fire once but it is all mine and I love every square inch of it all beat up, red, black and white. Yes my butt still hurts after a day or 2 of good seat time but, every time I stop it gets refold and repositioned. I fold it in thirds, in half, in quarters and always moving it forward or back. It’s like sitting in a new seat every time after refueling. My big secret of success it is, my saddle rag.
Bob Dylan, “All Along the Watchtower.” John Wesley Harding, Columbia Records, 1968.