Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lesson Learned: Buying Expensive Gloves At The Last Minute

"Are you really taking a picture of your 
glove, Lucky?"
"Yes, Triumph, it's for the blog."
They seemed like good gloves, in the moment. Of course, in the moment, I was wondering how it was that my hands hadn't frozen solid already. This was last October, as I was trying on any gloves that looked liked they had a little less ventilation than the pair I was wearing that day.

I tried on a lot of gloves before I gave up, and settled on Alpinestars. After all, Alpinestars is a good brand, right? And they were insulated, so they had to be better than what I was already wearing. Right?

I'm embarrassed to admit, this isn't the first time I've found myself trying to buy warmer gloves because I needed them now. It didn't work out quite as intended then, either.*

It seems like finding a pair of decent gloves is as hard, if not harder, than finding a pair of jeans that fit. If I ever find a pair of gloves that I love, I'm going to order 5 more identical pairs immediately so I can keep them in reserve. In a fireproof safe.  Just in case.

Let's get back to the story. There I was, with freezing hands and a limited selection of gloves. The Alpinestars were the least-awful option, and I assumed they'd break in and I'd get used to them.

"Ooo-kayyy... Could you at least crop me
out of the picture then, Lucky?"
That was a bad assumption. They didn't and I haven't. You see, the least-worst-fitting gloves were 3XL-sized. Somehow, they're both too tight and too long. Who on Earth are these gloves made for? I can only assume the target for these particular gloves is motorcycle-riding grey aliens. Particularly tall and skinny ones, at that.

I don't want to be too hard on Alpinestars. Apart from the odd sizing**, they seem to be really well made. They're not cozy-mittens warm, but they block the wind and have decent insulation. If I had heated grips, they'd probably be just fine. Heck, if they fit right, they'd probably be perfect. They're even reasonably cool-looking.

All the same, I really, really don't like them. These gloves lightened my wallet and continue to make my hands grumpy, and I don't have anyone to blame except myself.  So, perhaps it's less that I don't like the gloves, and more that I don't like the constant, frustrating reminder that I make a bad choice when I bought them.

What I've taken away from this experience is that I need to go shopping for warm gloves before it gets cold again, and not buy any gloves I'm not 100% certain about.  Luckily, the weather here is currently warming, so I should be able to get away with wearing my summer gloves again soon.

Though, those gloves are due for replacement too...

* A word to the wise: Should you find yourself on an interstate 200 miles from home with freezing cold hands, desperate enough to buy a pair of leather work gloves and liners from a truck stop, be aware that your hands and forearms are going to hate you for the rest of the trip, and the next couple of days afterward.

** Seriously, who is the skinny-fingered giant these things are made for? I want to meet him or her and experience that handshake.

Monday, April 06, 2015

First Rides of the Season

"This place is great, Lucky! I've got dibs on the porch."
"We're not moving here, Triumph. It's a museum."
With rain in the forecast for just about every day this week, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to get Triumph out of the garage. I've been feeling a little anxious to ride recently, if you can dig it.

So, bright and early on Saturday afternoon, I took Triumph out for a little exercise. On the short ride to air up the tires, I was shocked by just how fast my skills had become rusty. I rode a little extra cautiously as I got reacquainted with being on two wheels again. The next destination once the tires were at the right pressure again was a parking lot, to practice all those basic skills that had apparently atrophied over the winter. 

I'm pretty proud to say that I only put my foot down once while I was practicing [the world's biggest and sloppiest] figure eights. After thirty minutes or so of making myself dizzy, with an occasional break to practice emergency braking, I cruised the neighborhood a little and called it a day.

Well, with more relatively excellent weather on Sunday, it was imperative that I get Triumph out again. I thought about terrorizing the parking lot again, but ultimately decided that going exploring would be more fun.

"I said, I've got dibs on the porch, Lucky."
I ended up simply picking a direction and rolling, taking whichever roads looked interesting at the moment.  It wound up being a hell of a lot of fun, and I found all kinds of nifty places I hadn't known about before.  Like the Burwell House in the photos.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places, and is conveniently visible from Highway 7.  My curiosity got the best of me, so I had to go check it out a little bit.  Apparently they give tours although, for obvious reasons (Happy Easter, by the way), they weren't giving any while I was there.  I guess a return trip will be in order.

As I mentioned already, it looks like rain for the rest of the week, so I'm glad I was able to get Triumph out. Today I'm feeling all the riding muscles that haven't been used recently. I'm looking forward to getting the bike out more, and getting back into proper riding shape.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting the Bike Ready for Spring

Here on the Middle Coast, the weather is threatening to actually, you know, be halfway decent for riding.  I've seen some other folks out on the road already (including one guy on a Road King whose passenger was a Pomeranian wearing doggles), but I haven't been keen to get my bike all full of deicing chemicals, and deal with leftover gravel on the road and...

Well, actually, those reasons are complete bullshit.  I haven't had Triumph out because I've been waiting for parts. Also, about a week ago, there was a snowstorm that made sure I wouldn't be overly tempted to get Triumph out until I had the new parts installed.

The parts I specifically needed were a new clutch cable, and a battery hold-down strap.  Thankfully, they arrived just in time for me to install them this weekend.

It could have fallen into several spots that
would have been worse.
I've got to say, Triumph is a dream to work on.  Everything seems to be immediately and easily accessible.  On my Suzuki VX800, replacing the clutch cable took an entire afternoon due to all the fiddly little adjustments Suzuki, in their wisdom, decided a clutch needs.  Triumph's engineers, on the other hand, apparently said, "Isn't simply having a clutch lever adjustment enough?"

Changing that cable took me all of twenty minutes.  Five of those were because I dropped a nut into a spot I couldn't easily reach.  Luckily, I had a magnetic screwdriver (I hadn't been aware it was magnetic, so that was a bonus) and I was able to fish it out with minimal difficulty.

More challenging, believe it or not, was getting the battery hold-down strap in place.  That probably took ten minutes on it's own.  There wasn't anything particularly complicated about it, it was just hard to get the sucker into one of the hooks that holds it.

The only thing that remains to be done is to air up the tires a bit, and fix a crack I discovered in the vinyl near the bottom of the saddle.

Triumph should be on the road again soon!

Incidentally, does anyone have any advice on how to fix cracked vinyl?