Dec 182009


Made it safely to Aruba. The huge lines for immigration were just as I remembered, as is the VERY long traffic light at the intersection to leave the airport and head into town. Renting the car was much faster than we’ve ever experienced, and we got a brand-new Hyundai i10 for the week. It even has aux and USB jacks in the stereo! It has a blistering 76 horsepower, 85 ft. lbs. of torque, and it goes from 0-60! Despite all that, it’s very comfortable, handles well, and it perfectly suited for island driving. It’s also very cute, in the way that hamsters are cute.

The hamsters under the hood, specifically.

Got checked in very quickly as well; no swarms of loud, impatient New Yorkers at the front desk exclaiming how “harrible” everything is. *eyeroll*

Dropped off our stuff in the room and took in the view from the balcony: pool, lagoon, beach, ocean, palm trees, and pelicans flying overhead. I find that I’ve missed this place, despite the ball of stress and frustration I was last time we were here. Called Aaron’s folks, then went into town to get some groceries, drop them off, and walked to Don Carlo’s for dinner about 15′ from the water. Had a fantastic grouper with lemon sauce and capers, and split an order of fried calamari, which usually don’t interest me, but these were perfectly done.

After dinner we walked back, got the car, and headed to the northwest end of the island to check in with the folks and drop off a half gallon of milk, since the mini-mart near them was out of stock until Monday. Now we’re in the room, decompressing, and headed to bed shortly. I want to be up early enough for a workout, breakfast at t’Pannekoekheus, and picking up Clif at the airport around 1pm. After all the redeye flights he’ll have been on, he won’t be much good for anything but lying on the beach until dinner at 7, which is fine with me.

Heard interesting news from a chatty woman and her husband behind us in the immigration line. Apparently the new Riu resort was built in one year, using foreign workers, and it’s a monster that resembles a giant Turkish palace. This is remarkable because NOTHING in Aruba gets built in a year using Aruban labor. They are all most definitely on “island time”, and it’s hard to accomplish much when only one hand is doing work because the other is holding a cell phone all day; construction, grocery stocking, you name it. There is also a contingent of time-share owners who bought into the place while it was going up, but now whom the Riu would like to be rid of so they can be an entirely “all inclusive” resort. Allegedly, they’re resorting to some dirty tricks to do it: ignoring needed repairs, being unresponsive to time-share owners’ requests, robbing safes, etc.

Now just an hour ago, Aaron’s folks told us that The Aruban Resort behind their place hadn’t paid their workers in two months, went bankrupt two days ago, and turned all the guests out on the street. Now the other resorts, and even the government (who takes damage to the tourism trade very seriously), are scrambling to find accommodations for these people. Aaron and I drove past there as we left La Cabana and, sure enough, the lights were on but no one was home.

On top of all that, the refinery on the southeast side of the island closed recently, putting 7,000 people out of work (on an island of about 100,000 people), many of the shops and restaurants in Oranjestad have closed or changed owners, and the resort construction at the cruise ship docks is still stalled after four years. You can see that the tanking of the global economy has even affected a place like Aruba. Despite this, there is new construction that’s actually being completed, the Seaport Casino shops have been renovated, and (horror of horrors) Starbucks has finally opened a store right by our hotel, signaling that their global domination is nearly complete.

Oct 202009

57 miles

Jayson and I decided that it was too nice out to not go for a ride, so we agreed to meet at the corner of Gotfredson and N. Territorial roads about 6:15. Aaron's had a stiff, painful neck muscle all day and chose to forgo joining us. We continued up Gotfredson, took Brookville west to Curtis north, then veered off on Angle/7 Mile Rd. and followed it all the way up to E Shore Dr. We followed that along the east shore of Whitmore Lake. It's a beautiful area with a lot of nice houses surrounding the lake, and the setting sun had all the trees glowing orange and yellow.

From there we went up and around the north shore of Green Oak Lake, which was almost as nice at Whitmore, I think, but the fading light made sightseeing difficult. I was also discovering that the combination of my dirty visor and the "starburst" effect around light sources caused by my RK procedure was screwing up my night vision somewhat, so I had to focus on Jayson's taillight.

After rounding the lake we headed into South Lyon in search of food, and ate at Crossroads Grille & Bar. I had a great bar burger, and the cute, flirty waitress brought us a couple slices each of pumpkin bread and banana nut bread that they bake there. She told us she loved motorcycles and used to ride pillion with her ex-boyfriend, but could never ride one herself because she "couldn't work the gears". She also told us about the time she burned her leg on the exhaust because she was wearing a skirt and sandals. I was proud of myself for not shaking my head, or rolling my eyes, or telling her we saw videos about people like her in our Motorcycle Safety Foundation training course. Besides, she was too nice to berate, and the pumpkin bread too tasty.

After completely negating the benefits of the 4-mile run I'd had before riding, Jayson and I parted ways and headed home. The return was uneventful, though I expected a deer to jump out in front of me at any moment, and I did pass a few recent carcasses on US 23 south. When I exited at Maple Rd and started to enter the first roundabout, it suddenly felt like something soft and fluttery hit the back of my left calf. Thinking it might be a bird or bat I brushed at it, but there was nothing there. It was only after I'd gone through the roundabout and was coming to a stop at Miller Rd that I realized what I'd felt was my calf spasming. I'd done a hard calf workout yesterday, gotten a massive cramp last night that woke me out of a dead sleep, then ran four miles this afternoon before riding nearly 60 miles in a semi-crouched position, and my leg had had enough. The bike vibration, tight boots, and my focus on the road masked most of the pain, but it was bad enough that I had trouble shifting until I reached the corner of Dexter, where it relented. I'll definitely be eating a banana and doing a lot of stretching before bed tonight.

I'd love to go riding again tomorrow, because the high is supposed to be 66ยบ, but it's also supposed to rain, so we'll see.

Posted via email from Nerdimus Prime

Oct 122009

27.5 Miles

Just a short ride today to break in the suit and take advantage of the break in the rain. The UA Coldgear and all the leather kept me pretty warm, except at my throat, because the collar of the suit stops at the base of the neck. If not for the high collar of the UA shirt it would have been really uncomfortable. I also got a bit chilly in the nether regions, of all places, because the seams joining thigh, hip, and crotch are fabric rather than leather. Other than those minor issues I stayed toasty for the entire ride. The return trip was into the wind so it was bit more noticeable, but nothing too bad.

I had to stop for gas, which I'd actually been looking forward to, since the night I brought it home I'd mistakenly filled it with regular instead of premium.

Posted via email from Nerdimus Prime

Oct 062009

38 miles

Got up bright and early on Sunday, made sure the weather was going to hold, then Aaron and I picked a random place for breakfast to ride the bikes to, which ended up being the Omelette & Waffle Cafe in downtown Plymouth. We made our way east along Plymouth Road to Ann Arbor Trail, approached the town square area, and discovered that the whole place was blocked off for a chili cook-off and Harley-Davidson show.

Literally hundreds of bikes, mostly Harleys, lined the streets two- and four columns deep. After parking the bikes and getting some cheap but decent food, we wandered the downtown area for an hour or so and looked at all the bikes and displays, but didn't partake of the chili.

During the ride back we got within a mile of home when the rain started coming down, which made for some tense riding for a few minutes, but we pulled into the carport without incident. The bikes handled perfectly, and Aaron reported that his new seat and seat cover were extremely comfortable. I may have to make the same mods to my own seat eventually.

Posted via email from Nerdimus Prime

Sep 282009

49 miles

Saturday after breakfast at Cafe Zola (where we ran into actor Rene Auberjonois), we dropped by Nicholson’s Powersports and Murray’s to get some bike maintenance supplies, and I spent the rest of the afternoon performing my first round of motorcycle maintenance by changing the oil and flushing the coolant. It was very enlightening, except for cursing the oil filter that would NOT break free, even using the proper oil filter wrench. I’ll have to take it in for that, apparently. The coolant looked fine, but the oil was both low and dirty so it was worth changing even if I couldn’t replace the filter. By the time I got finished replacing all the pieces of cowling I had to remove to get at the Raven’s innards, it was too dark to ride.

 Yesterday afternoon the lure of good weather was too much to resist, considering the forecast calls for crap conditions for the next ten days. I headed out west along Dexter Rd. all the way through Dexter Twp. and on to Chelsea, then turned south down to Jackson Ave, east to Baker Rd., back up to Dexter Rd., and home. It was perfect fall weather and beautiful countryside, with many stretches of road lined with huge trees that arched overhead and a few curves to keep things interesting. I passed a lot of other riders, all taking advantage of probably one of the last good riding days of the year. The bike ran perfectly and, now that I’ve gotten used to, I didn’t stall it at all.

 Or drop it. *grumble*

Posted via email from Nerdimus Prime

Sep 272009

37 miles

Closed the deal on the Raven and practiced for about 15 minutes in the parking lot of the Little Flower Church at the corner of Northwood and Woodward. Stalled it four times trying to turn onto Woodward, until the woman in the van behind me got fed up and went around. Stalled it once in the "Michigan left" turnaround, then made it to Anita’s Kitchen to meet Aaron and Greg for dinner.

Rather than take the highway, Aaron suggested back roads to practice the starts and turns, so I took 9 Mile west toward Haggerty Rd. 9 Mile turned south and became Orchard Lake Rd., so I made the first right I could onto Folsom St. and continued west. I was almost to Farmington Rd. when I encounterd construction that had removed big sections of the westbound side of the street. Because of how the marker poles were arranged, it looked like I couldn’t cross Farmington Rd to continue, so I stopped to make a U-turn and head back to Orchard Lake. As I was turning, I saw the front tire wasn’t going to make it past the curb, so I leaned a bit more, squeezed the brake a bit, and…





 I hauled it back up as fast as I could and tried to restart it, but the engine wouldn’t catch. I got it turned and rolled it up into the parking lot next to me. I checked it over and found a few small scrapes on the left side to match the ones from the original owner on the right side.


 There didn’t seem to be any actual damage so, after turning it completely off and on again, the engine fired back up and I continued on Folsom across Farmington which, it turns out, I *could* have crossed in the first place. On the plus side, I was so pissed off about dropping the bike that I completely forgot to worry about stalling it, and therefore never stalled it again for the rest of the ride.

 By now it was getting dark, I was semi-lost on barely remembered roads, and suddenly the low fuel light came on. I rolled into a Meijer gas station and, while I’m filling up, some guy comes over to tell me that my left headlight was out.


 Convinced I managed to break the light when I dropped it, I continued on with one low beam light, though the high beams worked fine. At LONG last I reached Ford Rd., made my way west to the M-14 ramp, and opened it up for the home stretch. The Raven has almost no low-end torque, so it won’t beat anything off the line, but once you cross 6000 RPM it’s like going to warp speed. I reached 80 MPH in a matter of seconds. I left M-14, went through the double roundabouts on southbound Maple, rolled up to the red light at Miller, and discovered another interesting fact:

 There is not enough metal on my bike to trigger the underground traffic light sensors in Ann Arbor, so I had to sit at that light until another car rolled up behind me. I’ll have to put a strong magnet or metal plate on the underside of the bike; something ferrous enough to trip the magnetic sensor.

 I finally rolled up the driveway and killed the engine. By then my wrists were so sore from tension I could barely squeeze the clutch, but I made it home in one piece.

As it turns out, I DIDN’T break the left low beam. Only the right side headlight is on when you’re set to low. They both light only on high beam. *whew*


Posted via email from Nerdimus Prime

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