10 October 2010

600+ Miles

I was on the road Friday just after Noon under a cloudless sky, with the weather forecasted to remain the same for the weekend. I planned to drive the "Blue highways" all the way to Indy so I could relax and get to know the Guzzi better. I'm still having trouble adjusting to the "dry clutch" on this bike... others have complained some about the scratchy noise Guzzi clutches make, but that's not a factor for me. The "friction zone" on this bike is tiny... let the clutch lever out half an inch and it barely begins to engage. Let it out 1/16th of an inch farther and it seems to almost fully engage. I continue to look like a neophyte rider, killing the engine as the stoplight turns green. Embarrassing.

But I continue to be amazed at how strongly it pulls at low rpm...
It's making a ton of torque even at idle, so if you can just get the clutch out without killing the engine the bike WILL pull away strongly. It's not too uncomfortable, but the engine does vibrate until you reach 2500 rpm or so. Then it pretty much smooths out. Sixty mph gets you about 4000 rpm, and with the redline on the tach at 8000 the bike is just loafing.

The windshield is about 3 inches too short. The wind coming over it hits me about mid-faceshield and therefore makes the world a windy/noisy place. It's not horrible, and the fairings and windshield do protect almost all my body from the buffeting, so I can learn to live with this.

I stopped almost immediately for fuel, then stopped again 190 miles later. The pump registered 4.6 gallons when the tank was full at the second stop, so Pizza Bike is getting about 42 mpg in mixed town/country driving. I was hoping for more, but I'm hearing that's about average for these machines.

When I checked my watch at my second refueling stop I realized I was gonna have trouble reaching my destination before dark if I didn't pick up the pace, so I gave up on the two-laners and headed out on the Interstate highway.
Hoosiers are kinda renowned for driving like Mario Andretti and this late-Friday afternoon was no surprise. Just staying with traffic had the speedo registering 82 mph and Pizza Bike was perfectly happy rolling along at that speed. The only concern I had (and HAVE) is that most of the females that passed me either had a phone to their ear or they had the phone down near their laps texting on it...
I'm driving 82 miles an hour on this steel horse while folks in 2-ton boxes are paying partial attention to the road while passing me! (Note to self... avoid Interstate highways as much as possible.)

I arrived at my destination about half an hour before sunset... perfect. Four hours and two beers later I was in a comfortable bed with good memories of the 289 miles I had driven...
My butt was a little sore, but otherwise I felt surprisingly good.

Saturday weather, again was perfect. Fifteen schoolmates showed up for our walk through our old stomping grounds. We ate a great meal before the walk, then drove to our old haunts. Friend Thomas and I rode our bikes... he on his Triumph Thruxton 900cc cafe racer with straight pipes. (It makes a lovely noise.) Folks in "The Valley" were surprised to see 15 senior-ish people walking down the road pointing and chatting with one another. Several came out to see what was goin' on and smiled when we told them we knew who lived in their homes fifty years ago. (One even said "Yeah, I know, their name is still on the mailbox!) Many memories were stirred... almost all of 'em good.

After the walk we returned to our initial gathering place for dessert. (Is there any way to fix cheescake so it ain't great?) Some of our crowd went home at that time, but there was a "Cruise night" going on at "The Suds", and several of us decided the night was still young. Max went and got his Harley dresser and accompanied Tom and I to The Suds, and several others drove their cars. The good weather meant a great crowd was in attendance and there were some amazing cars (and bikes) to be seen. I think there was only ONE Moto Guzzi there though!

Third verse, same as the first and second, weather-wise.
On the road again at Noon I drove back past my old home, then took a ride through some of the other areas that were important to me as a kid. As you might imagine, much of the area is just unrecognizable, and tugs at my heart. The time/temp reading on "The Farmer's Mercantile Bank" in Bloomington Indiana said 1:56 P.M./ 91 degrees. This is October?!!

But headed home I had plenty of time to stay on the two-laners and avoid the "texters". I found the engine spins quickly and easily to redline and sounds neat doing it. On one isolated stretch I saw 100 mph on the speedo as I clicked the shifter into 5th gear and let off the throttle, the bike still accelerating hard.

I got home just at dark, Sara Jean pointing to her watch and wagging her finger as I slipped Pizza Bike into its berth in the garage.

Total mileage for the weekend, including the trip to The Suds... about 615.
The verdict?
I like it.
I'm ready to go again.
Wanta come along?


The Old Man said...

I hate interstates when I'm on the bike. Might be different out in the West with less traffic, but the paranoia is very strong in this one when I interstate. Can't ride comfortably on the superslabs so I don't use 'em.

hoosierboy said...

See how that Hoosier air just clears your mind?

Anonymous said...

You say the windshield is 3in. too short....maybe you are 3 in. too tall! ;)

Clint and Bo

Greybeard said...

Clint and Bo-
I truly think the problem is that I don't speak Italian!

Anonymous said...

The next time we see you I bet we won't understand a word you say. You'll be speaking Italian with a midwestern twang! I can't wait.


Rita said...

Who's going to Italy? No one told me about Italy. I talked with Mrs. Hawk and your bike buddy about Ireland, but there was no mention of Italy.

Don't tempt me with talk of Italy.

cj said...

I'd say sure, but I wouldn't want Sarah Jean mad at me...

And how come you escaped all the photos I've seen on Annies FB page?


Greybeard said...

One of these days I'll also be lucky enough to make the trip you made, Rita, and I think I might like to go to "Lake Como" where Guzzis are made.
Will that be possible in the coming economy? Who knows?

I'm in a couple of 'em if you look close, but I blend in mighty well!

Rita said...

CJ: I was pretty sure I tagged him in the ones he was visible. We were a geriatric gang of about 15, I'm surprised no one called the cops to find out what we were up to.

You could tell some were very curious as to why all these people were walking down through the old neighborhood.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to chat much with GB, seemed he was always somewhere farther away.

GB: A word of warning, you want to get to Italy (probably most of Europe) while you are still fit enough to get around. After Bob's leg injury, our itinerary would have been really really tough for him if he had gone. Cissy and I had to stop virtually every 20 feet when we were dragging our suitcase up the cliff to our hotel in Cinque Terre. BUT, it was worth every exhausted breath.

Timothy Frazier said...

Sure beats sittin' isolated in a four-wheeled cage and watching the world go by, huh?

Greybeard said...

Tim, the area I rode through on Sunday is renowned for it's fall foliage, and it was showing off that afternoon. I wanted time to just STOP so I could savor it!