Week 24 - Graham, Hadley

Things I Did

  • Tried to take the motorcycle skills test. Several weeks ago I'd scheduled an appointment to complete the requirements for my full motorcycle endorsement. The appointment was on Wednesday afternoon, and I'd practiced a bunch in a parking lot and even rode over to the actual DMV to run through the whole test several times on their course. I was ready. But when I showed up, they said the test was cancelled because the pavement was wet! When I told them I was perfectly capable of riding on wet pavement, they said if I slipped and crashed during the "quick stop" part of the test (which involves coming to a stop from 15mph) they would be liable. They told me to go online to reschedule, but when I did there were no slots available, presumably because everyone else had to do the same thing. Well, given how wet it's been this year it's no wonder things are getting backed up. I was a bit disappointed and had some choice thoughts about state government and cover-your-ass culture, but since I already have my permit it's not stopping me from doing anything.
  • Moved out of the AirBnB in Graham. It was a nice place to be during all the gross weather, and I got a lot of work done there, but I was starting to feel a bit detached from the world after being inside so much. At the same time, I was a little anxious about giving up my warm nest and facing the cold world, but it helped that the forecast showed some sunny weather on the way. In the end it felt pretty good to get packed up and back outdoors.
  • Took Kiddo into town for some much-needed exercise. It took some time to get the engine started, which has never happened before, so I think the gas was starting to gum up after a few weeks of sitting in my parents' shed. I was surprised how strange it felt after getting used to riding Punkin, like putting on really old clothes. I'd originally been planning on taking Kiddo around the country, but I'm glad that's no longer the plan because the riding posture on Punkin is way more comfortable and healthy for me. At least I think so, we'll see how I feel after riding all day.
  • Tried to install a larger carburetor in Punkin, but it mounts differently and there wasn't quite room. I ordered a new intake manifold which I'm hoping will make it work. It's the kind of setback that would have frustrated me a lot a few months ago, but I felt pretty chill about it so I think I've made progress in that department.
  • Made some better side racks for Punkin out of proper steel tubing. I'm still not that great at welding but I think I got a little better, and was able to recover from some bad mistakes which helped with my confidence.
  • Helped prune the apple orchard at BHF on a sunny Saturday. Caught up with some people I hadn't seen in a while, including a childhood art teacher who recently moved back here after six years in California.

Things I Learned

  • The goo I put in my tires to stop leaks and automatically balance the wheels is really neat, but when the bike is parked for a while it sinks to the bottom of the tire and forms a cold blob. At the beginning of the next ride it takes a few minutes to warm up and distribute around the wheel, and during this time the handling is a bit strange. When I felt an odd vibration and the steering was a bit shaky, I thought something was very wrong, but then I figured it out, and now I know what badly unbalanced wheels feel like.
  • Taking a two-day Motorcycle Safety Foundation class exempts you from having to take the DMV test. I'd been wanting to take one anyway, but they weren't running in the fall and now they're all full, at least in the Triangle area. I might wind up taking one in a less populous part of the state. The nice thing is they're very clear that the class will run almost no matter what the weather, so it's a lot more solid than a DMV appointment.

Wonderful Things

  • Sunset lighting the pines against a sky of dark clouds.
  • Just standing still in the sun on a cold morning, feeling like a lizard.
  • The smell of red-hot steel. It's very distinctive; I sometimes smell it when going by construction sites and it takes me right back to the metal shop in college.
  • Watching a squirrel really close outside the window.

P.S. I hope to start heading south next weekend, but there's a snow storm in the forecast so we'll see how that goes!

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