38 milesGot 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.
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*
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*
Yesterday I took Stormshadow out to Ypsilanti for breakfast at the Bomber Restaurant with some of the guys from Michigan Motormen, a motorcycle club in the area. The weather reminded me very much of the UP: cold, windy, and heavy, fast-moving clouds. All that was missing were pine forests and the echoing call of crows. Is it weird that I feel at home in that setting? I must be pining for the fjörds.
Saturday I took Stormshadow to my buddy Adam’s and back to play Exalted. It was my first time on a highway and the first time I took the bike above 55 MPH. There were stretches of M-59 where I was cruising between 70-80 MPH. It was also really windy that day, so I had to keep from getting blown around in my lane. Fun ride though.