DSC_2714There’s more to Guzzi than V-Twins…

DSC_2729And old, new, and lotsa in between V-Twins…

DSC_2732Tech session… A guru shares his knowledge ’bout airheads of a different angle.

DSC_2717Twin singles and a V65TT… happiness starts at under 750 ccs.?

DSC_2724Ready for takeoff…

DSC_2731More tech seminar… Don’t Guzzi’s ever break?

DSC_2728Neverending Guzzi Goodness…

Got rained out saturday evening, but plenty of space under cover to enjoy those legendary 25 mm. thick Iowa pork chops and all the trimmin’s. That was on top of delicious suppers thursday and friday night as well as scrambled eggs and ‘cakes saturday morn, even had pastries for us on sunday morn. As always, was hard to leave the Guzzi heaven that is the Iowa rally, even when the sun shines… But no matter the weather, the Iowa Guzzi Rally always shines!

Looking less likely that I’ll make the MOA rally next week, MOA has now totally priced themselves out of the market with an $80 admission fee, even if you’re just popping in for a few hours to look around. I’ve got business to attend to wensday so I can’t get there early and a parade saturday so I’d have to leave early, and to top off that curtailing of my rally experience, sounds like the sole airhead tech session has been cancelled. BMWMOA, I’m starting to get the hint… And no, I’m not about to buy a new BMW and renew my membership!

Time for a stoic Iowa small town and passionite Guzzista’s annual affair…

DSC_2697DSC_2700DSC_2691DSC_2694Campground’s filling up nicely but still plenty of room with friendly Guzzista everywhere, dead quiet at night, they filled us up with beef dinner last night and again for $5 donation to the local service club this morning, what’s not to like? MOA, eat your heart out…

Got US 14 closed for construction from my tiny town to the next one west, and the official detour sucks… 5 extra miles, on a narrow two lane. MN DOT didn’t have any better options, the only slightly shorter paved route turning to rubble despite a 5 ton limit, and shorter gravel and dirt road option becoming as slippery as ice when wet, and it’s been wet a lot. So naturally, we’ve seen more than a few motorists wander through our town looking for better routes. In the case of the 2 and 4 wheelers this has been a mere source of amusement as they wander our town, eventually happy just to find a way out and back to the marked detour. 

The big trucks are another matter, but fortunately most of the CDL holders know better than to try to beat the system. But a few are beyond hope… ‘Twas taking a look at the skies before headin’ to the showers and bed when I see some rear clearance and marker lights at an odd angle from the horizontal. Noted also the sound of an engine revving with no accompanying progress in any direction but some shaking of the lights. Hopped on the hack’d Guzzi to investigate, by which time the lost collection of tailights had freed itself from that too tight to attempt corner and moved up a couple blocks. I jump over to our lone parallel street, the one barely wide enough for two trucks to barely pass, and circle round him to get in position. Followed his path checking for damage, then inquired of his destination when he stopped.

Pointed out that he was off the marked detour, and pointed the direction he needed to take to get back on said detour. Asked where he was going, no answer. Asked what road he wanted to be on, and he nodded affirmatively when I said “US 14 west”. Reminded him again that he was off the marked detour, and he pointed to his small GPS. I informed him that was for cars, and then he points to his big GPS. Asked him if he had a map, and he points to the GPS. No, I meant a real paper map… He replied that he didn’t have a single one in the truck!

I repeated the directions back to the marked detour- left onto the highway, another left in about 5 miles where the sign says “US 14 West Detour”, and sent him on his way. I suggested he might want to get the reeking clutch that he just fragged dragging the trailer wheels out of the ditch looked at, and he had no comprehension. He made the first turn OK, then turned right not 500 feet later and headed down US 14… East!

 

Campaign Sign #1

Sorry ’bout the crooked county lines… I draw worse than a drunken 19th century surveyor!

Campaign Sign #1

My apologies for the crooked county lines, i draw like a drunken 19th century surveyor!

First off, a couple Costco unadvertised sale heads ups- The nice $150 floor jack that normally sells for $100 is marked down to $85, and the $100 Craftsman tool set is marked down to $70. Well, at least they were at the Sioux Falls Costco last week, YMMV.

That same $70 will get you into the BMWMOA national rally at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds next month, and it’ll be $10 more if you pay at the gate. For that you get to fight over too little grass to set 5000 or so tents on, try to sleep with a busy 4 lane street on one side and a busy railyard on the other, never mind the ever present glare of the streetlights. This is an urban fairground, surrounded by roads and industry and residential neighborhoods, and the nearest good riding is near an hours ride away. On the positive side, there’s regular bus service to the fairground should you wish to imbibe too much. I like hanging with the airheads but I’ll have to leave early on saturday morn, and for my $70 the Craftsman tool kit sounds like a better bet, even though I already have one and a bigger one… Gotta stock up on american made tools while I still can!

On the other hand, the Guzzi national rally in Iowa a couple weeks earlier is a no brainer. Plenty of quiet, shaded, and dark at night camping, good riding within a stones throw, and four meals and continuous coffee to boot… You’ll be lucky to get free coffee out of the BMWMOA. And all this Guzzi goodness for $15 less than the BMWMOA rally! How do they do it? While the BMWMOA has become a travel agency for two wheelers, the Moto Guzzi rallies are simply fun events put on by Guzzi riders for the enjoyment of their fellow riders.

Unless you’ve been hibernating these last few weeks, you no doubt repeatedly saw the image of a runaway Walmart truck and a minibus with extensive side impact damage. That would have been just local news for one cycle, were it not for the presence of a couple well known comedians in the minibus, one of whom lost his life and the other was quite badly injured. The State Troopers are on the case, and quickly determined that the driver hadn’t slept in at least 24 hours, and probably fell asleep at the wheel. Now conjure up again the image of that truck… Isn’t there about a four feet of cab behind the front seats, with no windows? Yup, that Walmart truck was equipped with a sleeper cab, and there’s a bed back there that the driver could have crashed out on and gotten some much needed sleep…

If Walmart would let him. Now if Walmart had their logistical act together, in a densely populated place like the northeast their delivery runs would be so short they wouldn’t even need sleeper cabs- Schedule the driver for a regular shift, said driver comes in and works a shift, goes home and gets some rest, and comes back wide awake to do another shift. Driver sleepy anyways? Pull over and take a nap, it does wonders. In my four decades in the trucking business, that’s pretty much the way it worked for me. ‘Cept for my first long haul trucking job back in the 70s, a 3000 mile round trip from Minneapolis to New Hampshire and back with two drivers in a very uncomfortable truck. The theory was that we two drivers would switch off between sleeping in the bunk and driving, but that International cabover rode so bad we often had to park for a couple hours so we could get decent sleep. After two months of that nonsense, I quit.

Because we had a healthy economy and strong unions then, I quickly found a union job at Hostess. And while most of the driving was at night, we didn’t have much problem with drivers falling asleep, because we had a union contract that meant you had a steady schedule so you  could sleep all day, knowing you would be working that night. Heck, even the “extra board” driver knew their next week’s schedule by thursday before. Still nodding of in the small hours in the morning? That same union contract gave you two 15 minute breaks in your 8 hour day, plus an unpaid half hour lunch that you could extend if you’re sleepy, and a third 15 minute break after 9 hours work, and you could take those breaks at any time and any combination you want. So on a night run starting at 9 pm you might save up your breaks until you’ve made your last deliveries at 2 am, then take an hour nap and use your last 15 minute break to grab breakfast on the run. Or if you’re wide awake, enjoy a leisurely hour long sit down breakfast. And some nights you needed those breaks… One night amidst the boredom of I-90 I pulled into the rest area for an hour’s nap. Got back on the road, still felt sleepy, so I pulled over at the next rest area and slept another hour.

UPS and the Postal Service pretty much followed the same safety system- regular scheduled runs, even for the temps, 8 to at most 12 hour shifts followed by time off at home, and an hour a shift of break time in case you’re still sleepy despite all of the above. And as a result, all of the above companies had enviable safety records and you didn’t see their trucks in the news much.

Unfortunately, trucking today seems to be following a different business model… They try to drive costs to the bone and profits up by minimizing labor costs. Instead of scheduling drivers and maybe having them waiting the odd few minutes for a load, they wait until a truck is loaded and ready and then call a driver. Said hapless driver may have been off for days and already awake all day when that call comes at midnight, just as they’re drowsy and heading for bed. Tell the dispatcher “no”, and he’ll likely get fired. So he drinks some strong coffee and comes to work, only to find that the he has to finish loading the trailer and fuel the tractor before hitting the road. And the dispatcher still expects him to drive 600 miles and make a dozen deliveries in 14 hours despite the delays,  so our hapless driver doesn’t even log himself “on duty” until 4 am. Finally hitting the open and empty road and beyond the din and activity of the loading dock, our driver pulls over for a quick nap before nodding off. And exactly 5 minutes after setting the parking brake, a loud buzzer goes of and his dispatcher’s voice screams from the satellite communications device- “Why are you stopped?”.

With that kind of jungle capitalism business model, it’s no wonder even my local small market TV stations have featured a “truck accident de jour” for the past week or so. Couple pig truck rollovers and a beer truck rollover, with no major injuries other than to the cargo, and there was probably no shortage of volunteers to clean up the beer truck carnage. Odds are, enough truck accidents and there’ll be significant human carnage, as happened last week with the Walmart truck and a few weeks back with a Fed Ex truck in California. And it’s no surprise that truck accident rates are rising, while car accident rates are dropping.

Meanwhile, Fed Ex has the nerve to ask Congress to legalize even bigger trucks… Memo to the trucking industry: Don’t even THINK of asking for permission to run even bigger and heavier trucks until you get your accident rate down!

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