Sunday, September 30, 2012

Philadelphia, PA

Sunday Morning - It's 6:00am and I'm sitting in the Seattle airport on my way to Philadelphia, PA, for the Fall Internet2 Member Meeting. The event runs all day Monday through Wednesday but I am staying around for a several days to look around. The last time I was here, there was very little time for wandering around the city to see the historic sites. I really enjoy these meetings but the long airline trips is starting to get old. Especially those that leave in the middle of the night.

Sunday Evening - one of the real benefits of visiting cities in the lower 48 are the restaurant options. This evening, a few of us found a wonderful Indian restaurant located only a couple blocks from the hotel. It was a nice treat...

For this trip, I'm trying out a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. The keyboard is a bit smaller than a regular keyboard but is larger than the virtual keyboard plus has nice tactile feedback about like the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. The main benefit of this setup is the longer battery life compared to a laptop and the Verizon LTE connectivity. For those curious, I get about 22 mb/s download and 6 mb/s upload over LTE in the Seattle airport which is about 20 times faster than the airport wi-fi. Verizon is not yet available in Fairbanks but they allow you to purchase service on a month by month basis. The iPad is again showing itself to be more than simply a replacement for a laptop. I still have a laptop with me but I don't really expect to need it much during the week.

Monday Morning - The Verizon service also works well here in Philadelphia. Much better than the hotel wireless and is just as fast as the Internet2 wireless here at the meeting. During the general session with hundreds of folks in the same room (each individual with at least two devices accessing the wireless network), the Verizon networks performed very well.

Monday Evening - No photographs for today as I spent the last 12 hours in meetings. There was a lot of talk about their new 100Gb/s connectivity but Alaska has been left out....

Tuesday Afternoon - I thought that this was kind of cool. Using very low latency audio/video software, there was a performance between a live violinist and a remote cellist. Here is a blurb from the press release.

"Violinist Marjorie Bagley, from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro School of Music, Theatre and Dance, performed from Philadelphia with Cellist Cheng-Hou Lee at the Northern Illinois University School of Music outside of Chicago in DeKalb, Illinois."

Watch a previous recorded performance at

On the Cozy sidecar, the owner of the white sidecar attached to the R100/7 said that he is willing to sell the sidecar separately with the DMC subframe. But there was no rush.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cozy Rocket Sidecar

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by George Rahn's shop as he mentioned on Sunday that he had a used sidecar (that needed paint) and a Dauntless subframe that would fit my bike. The sidecar looks a bit rough but all of the parts are there, solid body with no major rust or body damage. The car is all steel with stainless trim. The windshield is still in the box though the tonneau cover and armrests needs repair or replacement.

There is a small trunk (supposedly 3 ft3) behind the seat back. The Cozy weighs just under 200 lbs. Light enough to possibly not need a brake on the sidecar wheel. The sidecar is suspended from the frame with rubber rings and those are free from cracks. He hasn't had time to look for the subframe but I was going to stop by on Saturday afternoon again.

The fender is also in the pile of stuff that goes with the car as well as the stainless rear luggage rack and the bumper for the fender. The owner of this car still needs to be contacted to see if he wants to sell it. He had originally picked it up to have George install it on his airhead but decided to buy a new Royal Enfield with sidecar already installed. I just received an email from Jay at DMC Sidecars listing the parts and mods needed to fit a Cozy to their subframe. Nothing really major though the Cozy mounts don't work with their brackets without welding.

Here is the same model sidecar installed on George's 500cc Royal Enfield. The Cozy, as is the Enfield, is manufactured in India and sold as an dealer installed accesory by Royal Enfield dealers. George used to own the BMW dealership in Fairbanks and now is the Royal Enfield dealer.

This Thursday evening, I will be looking at another airhead (1978 R100/7) in town with a Cozy sidecar already attached. The owner doesn't ride anymore and has had it for sale on Craigslist for a while but it hasn't sold. It is currently installed with the Cozy universal mount but he also has a DMC subframe that he never installed. I'm not sure that I really want another bike though it looks like it is in pretty good condition. This photo is from his CL ad.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Last Ride of the Season #2

There was a modest turnout for our 2nd Last Ride of the Season. I have since learned that the "official" name for the this very loose knit riding group is FOG or "Friends Of George". For those not familiar with George Rahn, he used to own the BMW dealership in Fairbanks since forever and now owns the Royal Enfield dealership. He is still the go to guy for problems with airheads and the older K bikes. He rode in on a K75 that he recently picked up from someones garage in town. Once the roads get slippery, he starts using his Royal Enfield with a Cozy side car. I had missed the 1st last ride since I was still recovering from the Equinox last week. And if there is a third one next week, I'll miss that since I will be in Philadelphia for the Internet2 Fall Meeting.

Since the real purpose for any of these rides is to find food somewhere, what better destination is the Hilltop Truck Stop up the Elliot Highway north of town. The Hilltop is known best for it's huge servings of diner fare and a their wonderful pies. I don't get out here very often as this is the road that head north ending up in Deadhorse. As is typical for this "group", once everyone knows the destination, people just start heading out in what ever direction they want with whomever they want to ride with (or not) until all arrive at the destination (or not). This is my preferred style of group riding and seven of the original ten showed up for lunch. The pie selection was dismal for the first time in my memory with only three listed on the white board.

As you may notice in the snapshot, our trees have lost all of their leaves and we are beginning that drab, colorless season that won't feel clean, fresh and bright until snow covers things up. It was unseasonably warm at 68°F  so it looked like we were going to get a reprieve from winter. Last night, colder temperatures blew in and this morning it was 30.3°F and wet so I opted to not ride in this morning. Since the Hilltop wasn't that far out of town, I cruised through Goldstream Valley and the Old Nenana Highway before heading back home.

I had taken this snapshot last week while walking through campus. The leaves haven't all dropped yet and the sunshine felt wonderful. We don't get all the wonderful variety of colors as in other parts of the country. Yellow and maybe a little orange on some shrubs is pretty much it.

George told me to stop by his shop as he thinks he has a used Cozy sidecar that needs cleaning and paint and possibly a DMC subframe that will work on my bike. The sidecar may be a little on the light side but with sufficient ballast it may be what I have been looking for.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Strong Winds and Smoke

So read the prediction from the National Weather Service last Friday of high winds and smoke for the weekend. On Sunday morning, the wind had picked up and renewed at least one of the smoldering brush fires on what appears to be on the military training area across the Tanana River. This was the view at 7:30 this morning just after arriving at the university. The photo is non-hdr and un-edited except for cropping. The strong gusts made riding this morning a little more interesting than normal. For most fires in Alaska are allowed to burn unless it is near populated areas. This has made for some grim summers in the past due to smoke.

Partially due to the wind but more due to all my aches and pains from the Equinox, I decided to pass on the "1st Last Ride" yesterday afternoon to Chena Hot Springs with the loosely organized BMW group. There is usually a pretty good turnout and the temperatures were pretty nice yesterday, warming up to 60°F by mid-afternoon. Our leaves have all changed and the wind is now blowing them all off of the trees. You could barely see any asphalt on our driveway this morning due to the layers of yellow leaves. Soon we will just have the grim grey appearance of late Fall until the snow arrives.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Equinox Marathon

My goal for the Equinox Marathon this year was to simply finish in under the ten hour time limit. It was near perfect conditions this year as there was no snow and it wasn't too cold at the top. I think I heard that there were 750 individuals and 150 relay teams competing. After getting to the base of Ester Dome much faster than last time, I opted to charge up the uphill part to get it over with. The "out and back" at the top of Ester Dome was depressing as you head downhill knowing that you will turn around and come back up the same hill. I started to try running and discovered that I could run for about four minutes then walk for one and repeat pretty easily.

This is typical course as most of the race was on trails not on roads. After coming down the chute, a power line right of way that heads straight downhill, I continued the same run/walk routine. I didn't die though I felt like I was going to for most of that section. If I stopped and rested for more than a minute, my feet ached for the next ½ mile so no stops (or pictures). I ended up running into the finish line once I saw that I was going to finish in just under six hours which is over two hours off my previous time. I just glanced at the clock as I was barely able to function at the end. Now, everything hurts. I don't think I'll ever do this again. But I think I said that last time...

Sunday Afternoon - Official partial results were posted today. 5:58:06.8

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No Clouds

The sun is rising notably later just in the past week. When I left this morning, the sun was just barely peeking over the horizon. It was one of those very clear, cloudless days with the north and south peaks of Mt. Mckinley just visible above the horizon. They are not visible in these photos as it would be just a small dot. These two iPhone photos were made with two different apps, the first with the standard camera app and the second with ProHDR. The colors  of  the Alaska Range is rendered more accurately in the first photo but the foreground shows up better in the second. In both cases I cropped out most of the sky and the immediate foreground which I found distracting. I'm not sure which of the two shots I prefer so I included both.

Apple Camera App
ProHDR App

Our leaves have all completely changed and are starting to drop covering the walking paths and trails. I have been trying to limit my longer walks as the Equinox Marathon is coming up this Saturday. My goal is simply completion within the ten hour limit. Earlier in the week, it snowed on part of the course at the top of Ester Dome but it should be gone by race day.

The morning temperatures are now dipping a little below freezing (28°F) but as long as the roads are dry, I'll continue to ride in. I've noticed that my gas mileage has been dropping over the last couple thousand miles so I ordered a carb rebuild kit for both carbs. One of the other local airhead owners offered to help with the cleaning, rebuilding and tuning. I have never dug into constant velocity carbs before so I appreciate the offer to help. Maybe next month after the bike gets stored.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Not Quite Winter

Conchscooter wrote in a comment on my last post:

"Ahem. Winter. Sorry."

Not quite winter yet but you can definitely see it coming. Typically, we don't get our first snow until about the third week of September and it usually doesn't "stick" until mid-October. In other years, I have been able to continue riding well into October and one year, even made it into November. Yesterday, there was a blurb by the National Weather Service encouraging local gardeners to get their gardens harvested as we may have frost and maybe even snow by the weekend. This seems a lot earlier than usual. The Denali Park road was closed a couple of days ago due to snow and this is way earlier than usual. I hope we don't have another like September 1992 when we had snow on the 10th that stuck around until spring. The leaves hadn't yet fallen and the added weight of the snow on the birch and aspen trees took out a lot of power lines.

When I left home this morning on the bike, it was just barely above freezing which made it a suitable temperature to use the Gerbing liner. I now felt toasty warm and I found myself opting to turn left instead of right when leaving the subdivision road. After all, you want the engine to get nice and warm so moisture doesn't build up inside the crankcase, right? The sun was peeking under and through the clouds during my 25 mile extended commute and I was happy not to run into any wet roads. The hills are turning nice and yellow and even though that signals the end of summer, it is still preferable to the drab grey we'll have in a couple of weeks.

I'm not sure if I'm ready for winter...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

I didn't really have fun activities planned for this past Labor Day weekend. No extended motorcycle rides or long walks. It rained on and off for much of the weekend so it wasn't even a good day to go to the farmers market. I did manage a several rides around the area mostly running to the local Home Depot.

I have been procrastinating long enough on this bathroom remodel. One of the things that I wanted to replace was the shower mixing valve. I preferred one that actually had a diverter valve instead of the little button on the bath spout.  Since I get a real feeling of satisfaction from sweating copper pipes, I was actually looking forward to installation. We cut out a section of the wall, shut off the water in the house and drained the water lines. Kind of a hassle when there is a full house. This 2x4 stud really does get in the way of mounting the valve and pipes.

After a bit of trial and error, I got the new valve installed and soldered everyone together. Now the moment of truth. I turned the well pump back on and checked for leaks. Tested everything and now I can turn the rest of the job over to my oldest son to finish. Jobs like this always seem to take me longer than I think it should. It seems like there is always some part or tool needed to finish the task. But then again, there's nothing wrong with more tools.

On Monday evening, the local chapter had its monthly meeting at the local microbrewery. Only five us us showed up and much of the discussion was about one of the members road trip to Key West via the BMWMOA rally in Sedalia, MS. His '84 airhead had a few issues along the way including having the exhaust valves starting to close up during the trip. He expects that he will be pulling the heads for a top end overhaul as I had done 1½ years ago.

Today, I think, was the first time  since mid-April that I drove the truck instead of riding. I need to drive my middle son to his dental appointment in the middle of the day. Another sign of the end of the summer is no more motorcycle parking spots near our building. I'm not looking forward to winter at all this year. Last week, I sent out an email to the Google Group associated with the local BMW riders announcing the "last ride #1" scheduled for September 16th to Chena Hot Springs. It's labeled #1 as it is the first last ride of the season. In past years, there have been up to four "last rides". Summer was too short...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Georgeson Botanical Gardens

My credit union sponsored a tour of the Georgeson Botanical Gardens on Thursday late afternoon. It is only a short walk from my office and I frequently wander through the gardens throughout the summer on my noon walks. This HDR photo near the entrance shows some of their giant cabbages intermixed with kale. These cabbages aren't very large but they frequently get up to 60 lbs. A while back, neighbor gave me a couple of 40 pounders and I made a pile of great sauerkraut.

I used to wonder if corn would grow in Fairbanks. Now I know that indeed it will. They had to warm the ground by covering it with black fabric in the spring to speed thawing plus circulate warm water through through the ground using a passive solar heat exchanger. I think that maybe this isn't a commercially viable crop for interior Alaska. Each of these square plots is some sort of project or test and all are vegetables. (no picking allowed!)

The walkways were lined with beautiful choke cherry trees many of them with little signs dedicating them to someone formerly associated with the gardens. The gardens started out as a USDA experimental farm around the turn of the last century and predates the University of Alaska. The government was wondering if Alaska would ever support a population. Of the eleven farms established, only this one in Fairbanks and the one in Palmer are still around. Both are now part of the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences here in Fairbanks. In addition to the botanical gardens, there is cultivated crop land and domesticated animals. Right now, reindeer occupy the animal pens here in Fairbanks. Over the years I've seen cattle, hogs and goats but reindeer seem to attract more tourists.

Last summer, there was a group that wanted to learn how to build a wood pile cordwood masonary structure and the gardens were the beneficiary of their efforts. They built a small building on the grounds as part of a university summer sessions class using old telephone poles and bottles. The old telephone poles were probably a bad idea as now the interior smells like creosote so the building is only useable as a tool shed. The mortar is only on the interior and exterior walls and the space between the mortar is filled with sawdust and straw for additional insulation.

It was a great way to end the afternoon as it was unseasonably warm (70°F) and large flocks of cranes were circling the grain fields across the street on their way south.