Supposedly when you retire you’ll have free time to spare, to the point of boredom…

Noting that january here on the tundra was assuaged by above freezing temps I decided to head home from the Everglades the first week in February. Besides, being an elected member of the city council in our tiny town on the tundra I figured I should at least make every other meeting. My return was greeted with 40 MPH winds and icy roads as soon as I crossed the Minnesota line. Winter has made such a comeback here that they’re filling sandbags again in Fargo, and between blizzards maybe one day a week the temps will rise just above freezing and I make a short “coffee run” with the ‘hack’d GS. Not necessarily “clear and dry” roads though…  Couple weeks back I cautiously (you don’t want to hit packed slush at highway speed with the ‘hack wheel) busted drifts on my way down US14 to the lakeside cafe in Balaton, where the ‘hack shared the parking lot with snowmobiles.

As a result, I’ve been catching up on the wrenchin’… The F800S had it laborious 50k valve check done and the leaky rocker cover gasket replaced, the R80ST is at least a roller again, and the Golf TDI got it’s 120k miles service and is ready for a couple more round trips to the Everglades. Finally admitted that i was getting in over my head trying to make my own sidecar subframes for the Guzzi Quota, despite the expert mentoring of ace ‘hack wrangler Lee Bruns, so I broke down and ordered one of DMC’s subframe kits. “Christmas” came last week, with both the subframes and some ST parts arriving late last week. Thus the leaking sump gasket on the ST was replaced on friday and the installation of the mounts began yesterday and drags on. DSM’s mounts are designed to be a tight fit to the bike, which means that a millimeter or two off and they’re gonna be a pain to fit. Being that it’s hard to repeatably make interchangable parts over a foot long accurate to the millimeter without expensive tooling, as expected a bunch of holes were the odd millimeter or so off and the mount was a royal pain to mount. I damn near put it all back in the box and returned it, vowing to ride my two ‘hack’d airheads forever, but after much fiddling and “persuasion” I’ve got bolts in all the holes and looks like it’ll sorta work. None the less, it’s a never again process I hope not to repeat, but the R100GS that will become the spare ‘hack will be retired in 2017…

Feeling guilty for not wrenchin’ today, but noted that the blog was gettin’ a little stale. Not that it always matters- sometimes a topic like frac sand logistics will get hot and the search engines will lead hundreds of readers to a months old post. The weather didn’t help any- I wanted to ride the R65LS down to the Everglades via Daytona, returning with the Buell via the Louisville truck show. No great loss, the BMW airhead gathering at Daytona having been discontinued, the racing schedule curtailed, and much of Daytona bike week diminished to a last blast of aging boomers whose next major vehicular purchase will have an electric motor governed to a fast walk and a faded Harley sticker on the back. The Louisville truck show is fading to irrelevance too… It’s major audience is independent truckers, the one truck operators who buy but 15% of new heavy trucks and falling. And the truck business in America is what is politely termed a “mature market”… With rails increasingly taking the long hauls,  big trucks aren’t wearing out as fast and the big fleets that traded trucks after 5 years and 750k miles are now running them to 10 years and more. That said, the show is put on by some great folks- back when they the Louisville Police decided to prey on working truckers attending the show with unwarranted “safety” inspections in the show’s parking lot, they threatened to move the show out of Louisville and the inspections immediately ceased. In a similar show of class, when a bunch of truck makers cut back on their exhibits during the recession, they gave the empty space gratis to classic truck owners to showcase their restored trucks. Again, nice folks, the kind you’d like to see running a major show, but in media relations they’re in the dark ages- they’re blind to bloggers and expect you to fax them a business card to get media credentials. I can throw together and print a business card in about five minutes, but will my fax machine still work after a decade of inactivity?

Back to retirement… A couple years after you say goodbye to the time clock, you figure out that you don’t have enough years for all your projects, rides, and unfinished (heck, I haven’t even started) novels and start to prioritize. Ridin’s always been my preference, wrenchin’ a necessary evil (24k service by a  BMW dealer on an F800S can run over a thousand $$$), and writing ain’t that that big a time sink, provided I don’t decide to write the history of Hostess Brands from bootleggin’ to bankruptcies. But here I get all set up to ride my bikes and four wheelers into the ground, and the stock market and with it my  IRA’s rise enough to replace half the fleet. I’m doing my best to resist, but just one of my accounts that began with a $2k deposit a couple decades ago will now buy a new TDI. I have visions of my ten year old TDI at the end of an oil slick and trail of broken parts, smoking on the shoulder while I get online and make a transfer from that account to the local VW dealer to buy a new TDI…

But there is hope- got the assessor to reassess my tenement in Minneapolis and hopefully I’ll see enough of a tax reduction to make the taxes affordable… Hmmm, have to buy some more old bikes to fill up all that space!  

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