Sunday
Sep162018

Hard parts dressing by Matrix Racing take two

Hard parts dressing by Matrix

It’s been months now since I first tried the Matrix Hard Parts dressing. This is the dressing you spray on your engine cases, brake, shift levers forks, exhaust, frames and you name it. It puts a hard film on those parts and makes them look much, much better.

When I wrote my original article I had only washed my bike maybe once since I had first applied the dressing. Since then I’ve washed my bikes many, many times and the water still beads up on those parts, even on the hot four stroke exhaust.

This product has proven to me it will hang in there for the long haul.

Doug 21J

Saturday
Sep082018

A very, very thin line

 

Most of us are totally oblivious to this very, very thin line, we live out our lives wanting to believe we will never cross this line.

Have you ever visited someone in the hospital; you stand or sit there looking down on them feeling some empathy or sympathy for their plight. Maybe you think that could be me and glad it isn’t. Or maybe you’re just arrogant enough to think this won’t or can’t happen to me. Or maybe this is like talking about death it’s just a subject we want to ignore.

Well having crossed that line more than once I’m here to tell you it is a very thin line between being the one standing there looking down and the one in the bed looking up. And it’s especially true for those of us who pursue lifestyles that tend to put us in harm’s way that line can be paper thin.

I just once again experienced crossing that line, this time not as a result of pursuing my passion but from having a couple of body parts let me down probably in part because of my not taking proper care of them. It’s amazing how quickly the transition from walking (If you’re lucky enough) into a hospital turns you into a patient and someone totally dependent on others to take care of you. It can be a very humbling experience and one fortunately I’ve been able to adapt to with some grace and ease. For others this may be the most traumatic thing to ever happen.

Here’s to hoping you never have to experience crossing that line, but if you do you can do it with grace and ease.

Doug

 

PS

Now hospitals can be both quiet and noisy. If your room happens to be across from say the nurse’s station (Which seems to always be my fate) it’s usually noisy all the time particularly during shift changes. But normally after short period of time you sort settle into the rhythm of it all, which by second day I had done.

Then in the afternoon of the second day and just as I was heading out of my room for a few laps around the rooms and down near the cafeteria (Which when you are on a clear liquid diet can be torture) I along with my tether and rolling appendage (The IV stand on wheels) walked out into the hallway just in time to hear screaming and yelling coming from down the hall in one of the rooms. Hospital personnel were all running down there as well. I decided to just hang tight and see what was happening. Soon there were about four security personnel trying to carry a hysterical women from a room and put her on a gurney all this while she was screaming. It’s amazing how strong someone can become with adrenalin taps wide open. They were struggling to get and keep her under control.

I decided to go a different direction and take my walk. After a few laps and as I was headed back to my room they (The security personnel) came by with the still screaming women with all still trying to hold her down on the gurney and ushering her into a room to hopefully quite her. She looked tall and very thing thin but again adrenalin makes us all stronger. As she went by she looked she had taken a few licks to her face.

The whole floor was buzzing about what had just happened and of course not being the nosy type I just happened to overhear a dozen or so people talking about it.

Seems two female family members who were visiting a male patient and at some point got into a fight, my nurse entered the room and saw one of the women sitting on top of the other choking her. At one point the halls were filled with hospital security and police officers. The rest of the story is a bit confusing and I don’t know what the eventual outcome was. I did see a boy about nine or ten just standing there with a deer in the headlights look and felt so sorry for him. Peace was returned and we all went back to our respective rolls.

Then just when I thought all the bizarre happenings were over, I was taking another walk when two young women walked by me one dressed for the outside hot weather and the other in a hospital gown matching the color and pattern of mine. The young women in the gown looked at me and said “Hi honey” I stood there slack jawed with no response. A little later in my walk I encounter the two again this time they are standing in the stairwell with a hospital employee saying “I don’t know when you will have surgery, that’s up to your surgeon” upon hearing that the two ladies turned and started walking down the stairs, the hospital employee turned and let the door close to the stairwell and walked off. I assume the two ladies walked down the stairs and out of the hospital. 

All of this very bizarre.

 

Thursday
Aug022018

It’s a drag!

 

A friend of mine Mark invited me to go with him to the National Championship drag races at Sears Point Raceway last weekend. I haven’t been to a drag strip for years and years, let alone a National Championship round.

I’ve been trying to remember what kind of speed a top fuel car was doing the last time but I can’t remember. But I don’t think funny Cars were invented yet, so it’s been a while.

I grew up in the desert in Southern California and it was a 60 mile trip on a two lane road to the San Fernando Valley and Bob’s big boys and Mel’s. All I cared about in those days were girls and the fastest a car I could get. I worked in service stations while going to high school. That’s back in the days when you would pump the customer’s gas; wash their windows check under the hood and even check tire pressures if they wanted you to. I also worked in the service bay doing lube and oil changes and getting an education on how to do mechanical work on cars.

The second and third cars I owned were my attempt to have a fast car. The second car was a 1953 Oldsmobile two door sedan with a stick shift (Three on the tree) and a V8 motor with three two barrel carburetors, or 3 two’s as it was known as. And that came stock from the factory like that. A stick shift and 3 two’s was very rare. It would do 85MPH in second gear. I got my first ticket in that car (85 in a 55) my second attempt at a fast car was my third car and it was a 1949 Ford two door sedan. And it had a 283cc Chevy V8 with a cam, solid lifters (Those were cool sounding in those days especially with a cam that had a little rump, rump to it. It had a three speed transmission that was floor mounted.  My fifth car was a 1957 Chevy Bellaire two door hardtop that I paid $1295, I still have the paperwork for that car, (But not the car) that was a cool car. My sixth car was a 1957 Ford Ranchero it was grey with red tuck n roll and a three speed floor shift. That was also a cool car. By this time I was married and had a baby on the way. A friend of mine wanted to trade his car for my car and I would take over the payments on his car, so we traded. My seventh car was a 1963 dodge two door sedan with a 443 (I think) wedge motor with two off set four barrel carburetors. With what was referred to as the typewriter automatic transmission. This was a bare bones car built for one basic thing to drag race. These cars were a legitimate 11.5 elapsed time 110 MPH off the showroom floor car. Well I had this car for a very short time. Remember I had a wife and a baby on the way and this thing got about 9 miles to the gallon and even at the low gas prices in those days cost a lot of money to operate. So we traded back and that was the end of my fast cars for a long, long time.

Mark picked me up Sunday morning and off we went. Now there are a number of people who won’t ride with Mark and I must admit for good reason. My wife asked who’s driving and when I told her Mark she cringed and said I wish you would drive. Mark drives fast and is loosey goosey, when he pulls a trailer it’s even worse.

We made it and parked in the will call lot. Mark called a friend named Jim who came down riding a four wheeler and escorted us past the pay to park line and up the hill to a spot near the entrance. (It pays to know people) We made the short walk down the hill into the pits, made our way to a line in front of the grandstands and paid $20 each to have access to that area. We were I’d guess about 150 plus feet from the track and across from the staging area. To this point there hadn’t any been activity on the track in fact not even a sound, that all changed when the first top fuel car was started and holy shit it was loud. It was a single car run; it staged then left the starting line and roared down the track in something like a tick under four seconds and around three hundred eighteen miles per hour. I was not prepared for that sound and the sensation I felt. Holy shit again, I’ve tried to conjure up the words to adequately describe that sound and sensation and anything I come up with can’t do that sensation justice. Then they started lining up two at a time for eliminations so now instead one you had two going down the track. So all your sensations were doubled, each time your body would be enveloped in the sound and the sensations, the hair on your arms would stand up, I’ve never experienced anything like it and it would be easy to get addicted to that sensation.

After the first round of eliminations were over which included the Funny Cars we made our way back into the pits and found John Force’s pits. Or I should say the JFR pits. (John Force Racing) that was very impressive, they had four big rig haulers parked side by side. We had hospitality passes for his pit area. John was the last of the Funny Cars to run and he won his first round so by the time we got to his pits his crew were just starting to tear down his motor. I stood about 20 feet from them watching about six of them tear down the motor. There were two other guys tearing down the blower, one guy repacking the parachutes and other people flying around. They basically rebuild the motor and do all the other things that need doing in about forty five minutes. It was truly amazing to watch; when they were done they fired it up right there and here I am about twenty feet away. The noise was defining of course but the smell of the fuel is something else. The other people in the hospitality suite had eyes burning it hurt my sinuses and throat.

About that time they served lunch and shortly after the Force’s were out in force (Brittney, Courtney and John) and Robert Hight (Who is the manager of JFR and also drives one the Funny Cars) they were signing autographs, taking pictures and interacting with the people in the suite. (In case you don’t know who they are, John is a legend having won sixteen National championships in Funny Car. Brittney and Courtney are his daughters and are exceptional drivers themselves) they were all very, very pleasant and certainly knew what is expected of them and John gave a nice short little speech thanking everyone etc. After, John went out to the people who were on the outside looking in and mingled and signed autographs and took pictures. I have to admit I took the Peak hat they gave us and had them all sign it, a first for me I’m not an autograph guy.

Mark and I wondered around the pits looking at the other top fuel and funny car teams before we went back out to the strip for round two of the eliminations. The one thing about this once they start the competition it goes very fast. At the end of round two, of which John was eliminated (John and I now on a first name basis of course) they had some Pro Stock cars that get down the track in the mid six second and two hundred twenty plus range. They had some bikes that were right at 200 MPH and a variety of other cars that had spent since Friday competing for the right to get in finals on Sunday all of it very entertaining.

Between the second and third rounds Mark and I made our way via a tunnel under the track to the other side where the bleachers were which are a lot closer to the track than the other side. In order to get into the bleachers we would have had to pay another $20 for an assigned seat, we were cheap and opted not to. We did stand next to the fence and were there when they stared round three and being that fifty or so feet closer was another whole new experience. You take what we were experiencing on the other side and not double it, but close. If I’m ever lucky enough to go again I will make sure I get a seat in those bleachers. Unfortunately there was supposed to be a cover on that fence so you couldn’t stand there and watch and a bunch of track people came up and started hanging the cover back up again, so we headed back over to the other side again.

Round three came and went with some very, very close exciting racing. The really great thing was nothing happened during the day to slow down or close the track for clean up, very unusual I would think. It’s amazing how close the competition was, some of those races were decided by mere thousands of a second. The top fuel dragsters were running anywhere from 3.8’s to 4.0 seconds and in the mid three hundred twenties to the three hundred thirty miles per hour. The Funny Cars were slightly less. 

In the finals for the day Robert Hight John Force’s manager ended up winning the Funny Car final and the two top fuel cars both had problems and at various points on the track and lost their motors, the winner basically coasting a cross the finishing line.

It was a great day the racing was great the weather was awesome and a big relief from the 100 plus temperatures in the valley. And the tickets we had made us feel like we were among the important people for the day, but then on the way home reality bites.

 

I survived the trip home with Mark as well.

 

Doug 21J

 

Monday
Jul162018

A Cat's Tale

 

Target 

This is a story about desire, persistence and willingness.

Chris and I moved from the suburbs of Carmichael to live in a rural setting in Placer County on five acres some twenty years ago. We brought along Sunny a female Dobie and two horses that were living at a friend’s.

During these past twenty years our family grew and at one point we had five horses another female Dobie and as many as five cats. Time and circumstance have over the years reduced our family. Each one loved for who they were. Each one different in their own way as all animals are and each one deserving of its own story, but this story is about a cat we named Target.  

First I must say Chris and I were not cat people, I think the idea of having cats came about after we built a three horse stall barn with a tack room and the thought having a few barn cats would be good. The first two brother cats we got didn’t work out, then a single female cat we named Gracie did and we had her for many, many years. She lived at the barn and during those years we had a few other barn cats that came and went. My niece persuaded us to take a cat named Bandit, he was so big he barley fit in the cat cage. Bandit was our first house cat and we loved him. We then had a series of house cats that came and when for different reasons. We had Bandit for years and one day he had a heart attack and left us as well.

One Christmas Chris and I gave my dad a big orange male cat named Louie; my dad was very fond of orange cats. After my dad passed away we brought Louie out to live with us. We watched Louie turn from a total skitzo cat into an amazing cat. Louie is the only cat I’ve ever seen who looked directly into your eyes, more than that really he looked directly into you. He was the most intelligent cat I’ve ever been around and I was lucky enough to have become his human. We were nap buddies, he’s gone now and I miss him.

During the time of Louie we gained a few more cats one was named Rascal we adopted him from a family who had a member become allergic to him. He and Bandit were what I call upside down cats, which means you could hold them in your arms upside down and rub their bellies. (They were perfect little girl cats)  

Rascal was a totally passive cat (As was Bandit) and as such he and Louie got along just fine the two spent every night in the garage. During this time Chris rescued a family of feral cats from her dad’s back yard. The idea was to have them live out at the barn. Gracie had disappeared one night and we assumed she had met her fate. (When you live in a rural area not all die from natural causes) At first we had momma cat and four kittens eventually a friend took three leaving us two. But all too soon momma cat got run over and we were left with the kitten we named Nina. So now we have Louie, Rascal who are in and out house cats and Nina who lives at the barn.

About three years ago a feral orange tom cat started showing up occasionally strictly at the outer edges of our property. You couldn’t get within 50 to 75 yards of him before he would take off. Many times I thought it was Louie when I first saw him. For a long, long time he stayed away but slowly started getting braver at first he would go into the barn and eat Nina’s dry food occasionally I would walk in on him eating and he would fly past me until he was out of site. He eventually became even braver and would come into the garage and eat Louie and Rascal’s food. But he started beating up on all three of them. On numerous occasions I had taken my shot gun out and was going to shoot him if I could. 

Eventually he started hanging around more and more you would see him lying closer and closer to the house. When you would encounter him outside he would not run away like did and he stopped beating up on the other cats. It was during this time we noticed he had one eye where the pupil was up in the top left corner of his eye. Don’t know how much sight he has in it, he moves his head around I assume get a good look at what he’s seeing. He was and is able to hunt so he’s figured out how to make it work. It was becoming obvious he wanted to be part of our little family. During this time Rascal passed way and that left Louie and Nina We decided to name him and because he had sort of orange and white swirls on both his sides Chris came up with two names, Bulls Eye or Target because that’s what his sides looked like. I liked Target and that’s what we started calling him.

We would feed Rascal and Louie wet food at night in the garage and I started calling Target to come and eat. It didn’t take him any time at all to recognize his name and would come into the garage and eat. Louie didn’t like it of course and would hiss, Rascal didn’t care so that started the next faze of Targets evolution. Eventually we started locking Target in the garage with Louie and Rascal. When Rascal passed away Target started hanging around even more.

One day Chris had a talk with Target she told him he could stay, but he had to let us catch him so we could have him neutered and no more beating up on the other cats. He kept his end of the bargain, I was able to catch him and take him to be neutered. Because he was a feral cat the vets put a notch in his ear to signify he was feral.

At this point he would barley allow us to pet his head and I often was left bloody from being scratched. He was starting to come in and out of the house through the cat door. Unfortunately Louie retreated to our bedroom and this became his home. He rarely ventured outside or out of the bedroom after that. We thought that he would eventually get over it and start moving around the house and outside more but never happened. Target always respected Louie’s space and stayed out the bedroom. My buddy Louie got cancer and we had to put him down. That’s about as hard as it gets.

As time has gone on Target has become more comfortable we can rub and scratch him over his whole body, we can even pick him up for short periods of time. He won’t get in our laps but he will snuggle alongside you in chairs and even take naps.

Much to Chris dismay he has chosen me to be his human he will now stay in our bedroom and will even come up on the bed and stay next to me for short periods of time at night.

The point of this whole story is to illustrate this cat’s wiliness and desire to have a family. We don’t know his background we assume he belonged to a family at some point in his life but for whatever reason he ended up totally on his own. I have been totally blown away by his desire to have a family and the wiliness he has shown to make that happen. You can’t help route for him.

The only other cat we still have is Nina who never quite got over being feral. She still lives at the barn and won’t for the most part let you approach her during the day. She lives a very solitary life, but at dusk she will sit between the barn and the house and wait for someone (Primarily me, I’m her human) to come out so she can very cautiously approach you, eventually letting you pet her. She likes to rub on your feet and will follow in front of you often getting in your way into the tack room where she will spend the night. It makes me feel very sad for her and I feel guilty if I forget to go out there and spend a few minutes with her.   

 

Doug 21J

 

Sunday
Jul082018

Sometimes Seniors Don't Have Good Sense...But They Do Have Fun!

 

Our KLR adventure ride

 

My friends Paul, Kerry and I all own Kawasaki KLR650’s and if you are any kind of motorcycle rider you know what these bike are all about. These kinds of bikes have been all around the world many, many times, because they are bullet proof. They are what they are big heavy turds with little power. If you try to improve them it’s like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It’s like putting lip stick on a pig, you get the idea. But there are lots of guys who do just that. Mine is totally stock, I haven’t even done the Do-hickey thing update. Don’t ask me what that is cause I’m not sure. I do know that almost all KLR riders know what that is.

Paul asked a bunch of his friends to join him on what’s referred to as a KLR ride. There’s supposed to be a big difference between a KLR ride and a Dual Sport ride, namely the kind of bike and the terrain ridden on. (A dual Sport bike is basically a dirt bike with a license plate and blinkers) Dual Sport bikes can go on single tack trails, KLR’s are tanks and don’t work well or at all in that environment period. I should have realized once again something was up when only Kerry and I accepted his invitation. Now my definition of a KLR ride is some paved roads a lot of what I’d call fire roads and some what I’d call jeep roads, no single track trails. And of course most all, this should be happening in the forest.

Now Kerry and I have been on other KLR rides with Paul and on the last one I had to remind Paul to stick to KLR type roads. You see Paul is a very skilled rider and can ride his KLR like he rides everything else like it’s no effort at all and for him I’m sure it isn’t.

So we meet at Paul’s at his house in Dutch Flat at 8 AM on a Friday. He knows most all the roads etc. for probably 500 miles in any direction. He has a route in mind that will eventually take us to Downieville and back. Now based on that knowledge I know it’s going to be a lot of riding, but hey we got all day.

We knew the dust was going to be a problem so we will need to spread out so we don’t spend the day riding in dust. Now, since Paul is the leader he’s automatically excluded from any dust eating, one of the perks of being the leader. So Kerry and I are left to fight over who rides second behind Paul, one riders dust is better than two.

About fifteen miles into our ride we came to our first problem, the road was closed and there were two tractors parked at an angle to block the road. We had to work our way around first one then the other by riding in a ditch on the side of the road. After we worked our way by them in about a half mile find out why they were parked that way. The road is completely washed out. I’d say it was about 20-25 feet wide and 10-12 feet deep. Paul says I think we can make it and sets off down into the hole and with a little struggle up and out of the other side. Now it’s our turn, I don’t remember who went first Kerry or me but we both made it. It was a bit more of a struggle for me than Kerry. Great now we are on the other side and it dawns on me that if we were to run into another one of these and couldn’t make it through we would have to come back this way and go through that again. The moment we arrived at this wash out Paul declares the ride has just turned into an adventure.

Another umpteen miles this time over some not KLR roads, it was rock city. Pebbles to basket ball size rocks; it was some slow going on bikes that weigh a ton. And then we came upon our next adventure, this time it was a washed out cement bridge. If we were on our Dual Sport bikes we could have jumped off one slab on to another, no way that’s happening on the KLR’s. Fortunately some very rocky (River bed) trial had been half assed worked in around it; we were able to make it through without much of a problem.

Another umpteen miles and guess what another washed out bridge (And another adventure opportunity) this one was very tricky and of course our fearless leader went first made it look fairly easy and basically shamed us into doing it. This one was a struggle for both Kerry and I, did I mention we were riding KLR’s. By know I was really thinking instead of just thinking what if we find one of these adventures we really can’t get by, will we have to go back the same way. I didn’t want to ask Paul,  there is another way back, right, we won’t have to go back the same way right. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to hear, no we will have to go back the same way. In the back of my mind I kind of knew we would have to go back the same way, I hadn’t seen anything that would lead me to believe we could go any other way.

Now, at this point I need to stop and say, this was not some sort of forced death march, far from it. It was a beautiful day the temperature was perfect, the scenery was beautiful and most of all a couple of good friends to share it with.

However if you were an outsider listening to our interactions with each other you would at times find it hard to believe we were friends. You might even think we were a bunch of riders who somehow got stuck with each other on this death march. We all have our own brand of humor which at times can be cutting and downright insulting. It’s great.

Now back to the KLR ride with perhaps a few more adventures thrown in. So at this point I ask Paul (We are about 60 miles into this ride and still fresh in my mind is the adventures we’ve had so far) when was the last time you’ve ridden this particular route and he says oh maybe two years. I say shit, are you kidding me do you know what kind of winters they’ve had up here the past two years, no wonder the roads are like this. He blinks smiles and says, yeah and that’s where the adventure part comes in.

The next umpteen miles were from an adventure stand point uneventful, but beautiful. At 75 miles exactly we ended up in a place called Bassett Station on hwy 20 for a much needed lunch break. All I had was my usual bowl of cold cereal with a banana at O- dark thirty that had played out a long time ago.

A quick lunch was not too be had; a vintage car club on their way for a weekend stay in Sierra City had invaded the little restaurant. But it was great to sit around and BS with the car buffs and their (I assume) wives. By the time lunch finally arrived I devoured it even though the choice I had made was not all that great.

By the time we left Paul decided we wouldn’t have the time to ride up to the lookout at a place called Sierra Buttes. He casually mentioned we still had another five hours to get back, WHAT I exclaimed. Actually I thought he was kidding, I hoped, he was kidding. We were having a really great time but five more hours of having a really great time seemed a little much. 

So we took off down hwy 49 to Downieville a beautiful ride and no dust. Once in Downieville we headed out town sort of south east and back onto dirt roads. Eventually those KLR roads turned into much less than KLR roads and the pounding finally took a toll on my jury rigged back rest, (For my wife) the rack and soft sided bag. A lot of the nuts and bolts had loosened and fallen off. A strap, with a half dozen bungee cords and we were off again. As we were traversing down a particularly nasty rocky road we meet an old man and a young man working their way up the road in an appropriately old beat up truck, we stopped and exchanged howdy’s. He tells us the road is closed a ways back and then begins to describe exactly where it is and just how bad it was of course. Aw shit I thought another adventure.

Somewhere on this up and down road I hit something and heard a very loud noise, I didn’t want to stop and look I figured it would probably be better if I didn’t know what possible damaged had occurred. Besides I didn’t want to lose my momentum, sometimes momentum is your best friend. I didn’t see any oil trail in the rearview mirror so I’m good I figured.

After riding past several places on that road that could have been considered the spot we finally arrive at THE spot. And yes there was no way other than a dirt bike that could possibly make it. Did I mention we were on KLR’s? Paul of course paved the way; he made it with a little slipping and sliding around. Then me next and at that very moment I had a brilliant idea and shouted out, Paul you ride my bike and much to my relief he simply said ok. I immediately started telling him that it was a little tricky and if I were to have a problem we might be there a while getting me to the other side. After hearing me say all this Kerry thought that was a great idea and of course had Paul ride his bike as well. Paul was very kind to us afterword, he says I think if it were just you two guys you would done it and made it. Paul can be a very supportive friend. Oh, I need to add that it wasn’t that Kerry and I were that tired, but when you come up with such a brilliant reason for Paul to ride the bikes it was just too good of an idea to pass up. That turned out to be our last adventure and the rest of the way was just a beautiful KLR ride, in the dust.

We got back to Paul’s house around 6:45 PM exactly 10 hours after we left. We were dusty, well Kerry and I were anyway and perhaps a little tired but not bad really considering the time spent and the fact we are old. Some of the credit has to go to our trusty KLR’s they are a cloud to ride on except in the rocks. 

The KLR is back home now in its special place in the garage having been all cleaned up, with fresh oil and filter I’m waiting on the bolts and rubber washers etc. to arrive so I can put the back rest, rack and bag back on. I did break a chunk off my stock plastic skid plate and put a big dent in my frame otherwise she’s ready to ride again. Except maybe when Paul sends out another invitation for a guided KLR ride we may pass, eh probably not.

Doug 21J