Automotive Ramblings

Motorcycling Trips to be Remembered: July 4 Weekend, 2008

Paul and I hatched this little plan a few weeks before his 33rd birthday to take 3 day road trip over the July 4th weekend. The gist was to actually have no planned agenda for our weekend and to decide as the date got closer. We ended up choosing to go north towards the Olympic Peninsula and would plan our ride as we went.

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Our day 1 was absolutely fantastic! We did our best to avoid interstate and chose a careful route that not only ensured mostly back road twisties-a-plenty, but also happened to be in the opposite direction of most holiday travel. Highway 47 from Forest Grove to Astoria reminded me of the Gran Turismo stage titled ‘Deep Forest‘. Blasting through gentle 35-45mph corners between the dark forest and under train trestles, on many sections of new tarmac, made for one of the most scenic and delicious rides in recent memory. The last third of the road before Astoria turns to total shit, and is even more ‘entertaining’ when wet. But the majority more than made up for it. After lunch, we pushed into Washington and took a bit of a detour on highway 101 ‘alternate’, and this road was also totally devoid of traffic, full of fast sweepers, with perfect road surface, and wide lanes that would make anyone feel like Ben Bostrom.

1993 Ducati 750SS and 1997 Honda VFR750
July 4 Motorcycle Roadtrip 2008 007

We ended the day at Lake Quinault. This wasn’t exactly planned, but it was 5:30 and we needed gas. Pretty badly too after our assault on southwest Washington. As my anxiety built, I kept hearing Merlin telling Cougar, “[…] we’ve got to land this thing. We are way low on gas!” After miles and miles of absolutely no civilization in the beautiful Olympic Peninsula rain forest, we spotted a sign stating 2 miles to the Chevron, next right. So we turned in and checked out the lake. After filling up with the best gas I’ve even put in the Ducati at $5.09 a gallon (ouch!), we cruised past the lodge and general store, and found an open tent site. Having setting up camp, we went back over to the lodge for dinner. Little did we know the lodge was actually a really nice place in the middle of nowhere. A fantastic structure built in the 20’s, it was quite opulent compared to the campground.

July 4 Motorcycle Roadtrip 2008 017

Walking in, you’re immediately greeted in the main lounge area with a bar, huge fireplace, and lots of leather furniture. Past that to the open doors of the deck features a large manicured lawn leading down a gentle slope to the lake. The lawn is dotted with small groups of Adirondack chairs and small groups of people pouring wine for each other. A wedding had just finished and the photographer was finishing up with the shots with a fantastic backdrop.

July 4 Motorcycle Roadtrip 2008 011

We dined that night in the Roosevelt room, named after President Roosevelt who stayed there once. They were able to seat us immediately and after browsing the menu, it was clear we were going to eat very well indeed. $17 for camping, $85 for dinner. Oh yes we did, donning bug splattered leather jackets, helmet hair and insect repellant! I recommend the beef tenderloin, it was waaay better than my pork medallions LOL!

Our Day 1 couldn’t have been more perfect. As we retired to the sounds and sights of a nice fireworks show over the lake, the rain forest began it’s thing. It started to drizzle. And then rain. All night. Every time I woke up, the rain sounded more intense. I can’t believe how dry we actually ended up considering our campsite had turned into a giant mud puddle. I guess that forestry sign that stated the region gets over 148 inches of rain a year was no joke. It was now about 8:30 in the morning and we had finally resigned ourselves to the fact that the 30% chance of showers had turned into a full on 100% downpour.

July 4 Motorcycle Roadtrip 2008 009

July 4 Motorcycle Roadtrip 2008 008

We suited up and broke camp in the rain. After a decent breakfast at the general store, we decided going around the Peninsula would only lead to an entire day of riding in the rain, and decided to head south, back in search of dry and hopefully warm weather elsewhere in the state. But after a bowl of soup at the Olympic Club in Centralia, and a search of the weather forecasts to the east, west and south via Blackberry, we realized we weren’t going to find anything like that. So we blasted down I-5 to PIR to meet Paul’s bosses, who were racing this weekend. Dodging most of the rain, we arrived just in time to see Bob take the checkered flag for his run group.

July 4 Motorcycle Roadtrip 2008 020

July 4 Motorcycle Roadtrip 2008 019

We treated ourselves to another fantastic dinner, this time at our one of favorites in Portland: Gustav’s pub at the Rheinlander German Restaurant. Their fondue is fantastic and it’s the only place in Oregon that I know of that serves the wonderful Spaten Helles. I had the prime rib and Paul had the schnitzel. I often consider moving to Portland just to eat here more often!

The last day of our trip, we headed out to our favorite back roads from the Portland area via Sandy, Estacada, Silverton, Mill City, Lyons, and finally back to Albany. We had a celebratory lunch at Calapooia Brewing (try the Pilsner, it’s perfect!) and then parted ways to finish off our weekend.

The Ducati made the trip without any hiccups and is now in need of full detail to clean out all the grime from the rain soaked roads. But it was a great and spontaneous trip with some of the best riding I’ve done since I last rode regularly years ago. Thank you Paul, for insisting we make this trip. I had a great time!


Automotive Ramblings

The Arizona Parking Solutions Saga Thread Has Moved

If you haven’t heard yet, there is an epic thread on VWVortex about the guy who got his Audi booted in his own housing development by Arizona Parking Solutions and took matters into his own hands by moving his car with the boots on into his garage via jacks and dolly’s. Brilliant!

Arizona Parking Solutions Boot Thread

Unfortunately, the original thread was locked and a new forum, The Parking Enforcement Forum, has been created to continue the diary of this victim’s tale. Very entertaining! Best of luck to the original poster!


Automotive Motorcycles Ramblings

Ride Report: OVM Vintage Motorcycle Ride, Corvallis, Oregon

Considering this show is in my own town, I had little excuse for not attending the Oregon Vintage Motorcyclists ride for their show this year at the Benton County Fairgrounds. Some really great looking bikes turned out for the ride, probably 60+ strong. And all kinds: restored show bikes, never restored beaten classics, and even some modern classics like my bike and Bob’s RC51. Good group, though there was one down on a great old late 70’s looking BMW. I heard broken shoulder and collar bone… Ouch!

Here are the pics from the Blackberry Curve:

Corvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show RideCorvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show RideCorvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show RideCorvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show RideCorvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show RideCorvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show RideCorvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show RideCorvallis Vintage Motorcycle Show Ride

I’m going to miss the show tomorrow so I can hit the Oregon Trail Rally. Don’t you love this time of year?!


Automotive Motorcycles Ramblings

Updates and Ducati Wallpaper!

After a recent visit to the Portland Ducati dealership, Motocorsa, I was cautioned not to even start the Ducati until I had replaced the belts. This is because they are rated at only 2 years, 12k miles, and I had no evidence that the belts were within those parameters. If the belts were to break, the cost of the head rebuilds would easily exceed the value of the bike. After some quick math, I took their advice and waited to tickle the 750 until today, when Paul replaced the belts. And we’ve had some damn nice weather here in Western Oregon that has been making me absolutely stir crazy for a ride on the bike!!!

Luckily I was able to satisfy my fix in a couple of ways. 1st was to turn my garage into a ghetto studio by gathering what I had in the house to make a backdrop and some strong overhead lighting to take some dramatic photographs. I ended up with this:

Ducati 750 SuperSport Wallpaper

(Click above image for link to full size wallpaper!)

This was the result of a relative photography amateur taking about 4 hours of trial and error shots, and some moderate Photoshop work. For a first effort, I’m thrilled. Here’s the original. If you’re a Photoshop wizard, or just want to take a crack, give the original the business and post a link of your interpretation. Or email me.

Update 3.12.08 – Here’s our first submission from Eric:

Blue Ducati SuperSport Wallpaper

A few weeks after that photo was taken, Paul and his wife met at our house for an evening of dinner and drinks, arriving separately. When they left the next morning, they took their car home and Paul left his bike in the garage. For nearly 2 weeks 😀 Naturally I made the most of it. Nearly every sunny late afternoon was spent on the VFR. (Paul, you are the man. Thank you so much!) While it sucked to leave the Duc in the garage on such perfect days, the VFR was a total blast! I mean:

  • It has a choke and starts on the first try.
  • It has fantastic creature comforts and modern conveniences like a full fairing, high mounted rear-view mirrors, comfortable seat, and even heated grips (!)
  • A clock and temperature gauge. And even a fuel gauge! You mean you can ride between tanks knowing how much fuel you have? Stupore!
  • It’s Red. bello!
  • It has a motor that is a relative of the RC45, and sounds totally fantastic with the Two Brothers carbon fiber exhaust.
  • And it was in my garage with a ‘ride anytime’ ticket provided by Paul.

Hell Ya, I rode her as much as I could! Here’s a short clip of my blipping the throttle before a ride:

Now I know what you’re thinking, “I hate YouTube bike exhaust clips that don’t rev the bike up that much!” To that I say: This bike is on loan from a close friend. A friend I respect. Naturally I waited to rev the piss out of her until the camera was off 😉 And she’s a screamer for sure. Once the needle swings past 8k RPM, hold on! She’ll walk the 750SS like it’s only running on one cylinder! Thanks for holding the needle for me when I needed my fix Paul!

Which brings us to today, when Paul came over to put the new belts on. I set him up with a Pepsi and a chocolate donut, and he dove right in. I had the nearly useless Ducati Factory manual open, and also the procedure on DucatiSuite for changing Ducati Timing Belts. He ended up referencing the latter more often than the manual, and had the whole job done in less than hour. With hours of sunlight left, we had to go for a quick ride of course to make sure the job was successful. And it was. I had a serious perma-grin on my first Ducati ride of 2008. We took a nice scenic tour of the Willamette Valley by taking highway 99N to Airlie Road, to Kings Valley, and back to Corvallis. You can check out the pics here, and here’s a wallpaper sized image that I photoshopped (too much):


Many, MANY thanks to Paul for getting the Ducati safe enough to start AND ride for ’08!


Automotive Classifieds of Interest Ramblings

Gordon Murray Article on the influences of the Honda NSX on the McLaren F1

As you may know, I am huge fan of the Honda/Acura NSX. As a product of the 80’s, it’s styling still excites me today. It still stops me in my tracks when I see one in person. And there’s always one pictured in my next job promotion fantasy.

Check out this fantastic article from the creator of the McLaren F1, Gordon Murray. He goes into great detail with his own love affair with the Honda NSX and it’s influences on the F1 (linked from VWVortex, hosted on Google Documents which includes original Japanese content and illustrations.):

Of course as you know, the engine has only six cylinders; however, the NSX’s very rigid chassis is excellent and would easily be capable of handling more power. Although it’s true I had thought it would have been better to put a larger engine, the moment I drove the “little” NSX, all the benchmark cars–Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini–I had been using as references in the development of my car vanished from my mind. Of course the car we would create, the McLaren F1, needed to be faster than the NSX, but the NSX’s ride quality and handling would become our new design target.

Considering my high praise of the e46 m3 recently, I hopped on over to NSXPrime, the authority forum on all things NSX in North America, to shop NSX classifieds for cars in the same price category:

1992 Acura NSX on NSXPrime (SC, $35.5k):
1992 Acura NSX For Sale Red

Beautiful stock car with only 26,107 miles that is in near showroom condition. I am the second owner and the car has always been garage kept and well maintained. The clutch, water pump and timing belt were recently replaced. Car was in the snap ring range and this was corrected during clutch replacement. Interior and exterior in excellent condition. Chrome wheels are on car but I have the stock rims also.

1993 Acura NSX on NSXPrime ($30k, VA):
1993 Acura NSX For Sale White Comptech

Unfortunately I have to sell this, as I am being transferred to Japan for two years, and I would truly hate to see it sit. Currently stationed in Norfolk, VA. Engine/Body is in great condition, all the maintenance is up to date (including water pump, plugs, oil, and belts), and only has 49k Miles.


I am going to be honest and say right off the bat that there are a few problems, like the right speaker-amp (An easy fix that costs about $80 dollars), the drivers side window motor-drive assembly needs replaced (about $300 dollars for a replacement, depending on where you go), and the right front coilover needs rebuilt.

1994 Acura NSX on NSXPrime ($34k, VA):
1994 Acura NSX 6 Speed Black

-Comptech Header
-Comptech CF Air Intake W/ Uni Filter
-Taitec JGTC Center Exit Exhaust
-Taitec diffuser
-NA2 brakes
-Volk SE37k wheels(14lbs front 16lbs rear) 17″/18″ combo with Falken RT-615 tires good tread.
-Brand New 6 speed with OS-giken LSD & 4.4 final !!!
-RPS clutch with lightened flywheel
-NSX-R lower brace and front sway bar
-Tein-RA coilovers
-02+ Side Skirt
-CF side duct
-Dali Harness Bar with Video camera mount + 5 pt harness.
-Smart Shift

[…]As far as the body and paint, it is in good condition, although I did have a minor front end damage which required driver side fender to be replaced and was repainted by reputable shop in VA(Wagon Works). No frame damage.

The main reason for considering of selling is because I rarely drive the car now. The car drives amazing with the 6 speed.

I am not in a hurry so no low ballers.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the ‘affordable’ end of NSX examples for several years, and it sure seems like $30k has been the benchmark for a starting point with a good one. These examples all appear to be worth a look.