Archives for category: Uncategorized

The benchmark for BMWMOA annual rally attendence is 10,000. To achieve that number requires a rally near population centers, moderate weather, decent camping and riding in the area, and a reasonable value for the riders dollars. BMWMOA got it right on the first one with something like thirty million people within a days ride of the rally site, the weather cooperated, but the metro area traffic didn’t help. But BMWMOA did themselves in with the $80 nonmember admission fee- They could have cut that in half, garnered the same revenue, and made a lot of new friends in the process. Better yet, give free admission for the whole rally with a new membership, then on saturday let anybody in for a modest fee, say $10 or so. With the fixed costs of the rally pretty much the same whether 5,000 or 20,000 riders attend, why not bring in some more riders and revenue?

But then they wouldn’t be so “exclusive” a club…

 

 

changemode:satire

I should have taken the hint when I visited the BMW car dealer last fall…

‘Twas out shopping for a new car, and the specs of BMW’s new 3 series diesel looked tempting, especially the wagon with the 4 by 4 option. So I pulled into the Sioux Falls dealer in my faithful decade old VW Golf TDI and saunter in in my usual gearhead fashion ensemble… well worn jeans, t-shirt, and jacket to suit the day’s weather. Spot the diesel right on the showroom floor, and there’s the hood release just like in an H2O VW by the driver’s left knee, so I give it a pull and go round front to find the safety catch… Where’d it go? After a minute the receptionist comes over and inquires, and I ask how to complete the hood opening process. All this time, a couple salesmen have been unmoved in their adjoining glass offices, but for the usual continual updating of their social media, no doubt. Receptionist comes back a minute later, tells me to give the hood latch by the left knee a second pull, and that does the trick. 

I spend a good five minutes looking over filter and drain locations and such, and all the while the salesmen remained unmoved. Sauntered out in my best blue collar arrogance, noting the inflated to $50k window sticker on the 4 by 4 diesel wagon out on the lot. Couple weeks later bought a new Golf TDI Wagen that does 99% of what the BMW does at half the price. But little did I realize that BMW, a socially responsible company to a fault, had blown me off for a reason. If I’d bought that Bimmer and after the too short warranty ran out had it die in the Black Hills, it’d be the better part of a thousand dollar tow home to the nearest BMW car dealers 350 miles away in Billings or Sioux Falls, then a few thousand more to fix it. And after getting soaked $500+ for a paralever driveshaft that didn’t even last 60k miles, I don’t want to even think of the damage a BMW car with a half dozen or so driveshafts could do the my wealth and mental health!

So, though I didn’t understand it at the time, those BMW salesman weren’t being lazy snobs, they we’re assuring that the financially unworthy like myself don’t get impoverished by a BMW vehicle and end up holding a “Will work for food” sign on the nearest major intersection to where their BMW dies. Now the growing legions of former BMWMOA members such as myself have no doubt noted how BMWMOA is increasingly taking it’s cues from Bavarian mothership BMW itself. And like many, I became more than a little angry when I heard that BMWMOA would be charging $80 admission at the gate for the pleasure of shopping the purveyors of overpriced farkles, test riding new $30k Beemers, and trying to sleep on asphalt next to a busy railroad yard. 

Yeah, I’m kinda slow on the uptake, but now I get it… BMWMOA could have just copied the Back to the 50s Car Show at the same venue last month and let the great unwashed motorcycling masses in the gate for $10 and filled their dwindling treasury. But BMWMOA is sacrificing crass profit and protecting us financially unworthy gearheads from ourselves, lest we max out our credit cards on thousand dollar GPSs, hard bags, riding suits, and even high fashion helmets. 

So thank you BMWMOA, I’ve already got GPS on my phone and tablet and mapping software on the netbook. New riding suit?  Aerostitch is just up the road with the world’s best and everything else a rider will ever need, and admission and even beverages are free. Hard bags… The $200 soft bags are holding up fine after 100,000+ miles, and unlike BMW’s they fit just about anything. So thank you again, BMWMOA… The $80 you’ve saved me will pay for an oil change for all three of my airheads!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Image

 

I should know better than to answer the phone on the last day of filing for office, especially when the call comes from the area code of the state capital or worse yet, DC. Thought I’d dodged the bullet when we found another fool for the political suicide mission of running as a democrat in my republican leaning state house district. But said fool wised up at the last minute and declined to run. Minnesota’s state house democratic majority leader then called me, at precisely an hour before filing closed at the courthouse 22 miles away. I tried to talk her out of it, but problem is, we owe her, being that’s she’s made the 150 mile plus trek from the state capital in St.Paul to our district for numerous events. And unlike our majority leader who despite living in big city Minneapolis is a closet farmer who’s decorated his capital office with model tractors he’s built, our majority leader isn’t a country mouse and probably considers her rural trips to be work. So after about 5 minutes of haggling I moved to end debate so I could make it to the courthouse and file before they closed.

So my mission (impossible) for this summer and fall is to keep the republican incumbent busy so he can’t help out other republican candidates in districts where a democrat actually has a chance of winning. Well, that’s the mission I was assigned… One of the pleasures of knowing that you’re going to lose anyway is that you can turn the campaign into an opportunity to test all kinds of campaign strategies. Like, which will get more votes… An old airhead with a classic Motorvation Spyder sidecar or a 2000 Guzzi Quota with a rainbow colored sidecar? Should I make a fluorescent Dakar jacket or a leather Army Air Corps replica leather jacket my campaign uniform? Are farm Auctions a good place to campaign, especially when there’s lots of old iron? Is it good campaign manners to shame a bunch of late model chromed out Harleys at a bike show by parking the “V-twin done right” Guzzi next to them, or would the old “survivor” airhead be in better taste?

So yes, I’ll be missing a few rallies this summer, but I’ve already worked up my excuses to sneak off the campaign trail to make the BMWMOA and Guzzi national rallies. Plus now I have an excuse to attend every car show, bike show, tractor pull, auction, and bike night in my 6 county district… Let the campaign begin!

And if elected, I’ll demand a recount!

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 185 other followers