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

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jun202018

21J's New Husky 450 Project!

Husky FC450 Part One

I decided I wanted to go back to a 450 something about being lazy and all that horsepower doesn’t seem to go together. But who said dirt bike riders were smart.

I bought a well used 2017 Husky FC450, the price was right and I believed it was well maintained. No pictures of the new/used 450, why, because it looks basically like my 350, the 450 has the plastic off my 350. One item it did come with was brand new air forks. The previous owner had installed a KYBA front end. The rest of the bike was well broken in and this is my first foray into air forks. Just when every other manufacturer is going back to spring forks it appears KTM/Husky are all in on the system. We’ve all heard theirs really work well I’m finding out.

 

Well before I get to that, this is what I’ve done to make the bike comfortable for me.  The bike is light makes all the horsepower I could ever handle so I don’t need to invest $$ in any trick exhaust system. The stock Husky muffler has an almost spark arrestor screen in it. Unfortunately it’s in the middle of the muffler and those little rods they like to poke into the ends of mufflers to see if it has that little spark arrestor screen is beyond the length of those rods. I’m not planning on riding this thing anywhere other than MX track so I don’t care, but that little screen does rob the bike of some horsepower. (The screen was taken out by the previous owner)

 

I installed a steering stabilizer, this is a comfort thing for me I think you could simply tighten the steering head nut to accomplish the same thing. I installed a plastic skid plate (Works Connection) I don’t like metal skid plates, some believe they make noise and bind the frame and eliminate some flex. Manufacturers go to a lot trouble to get the proper amount of flex in their frames so it seems kind of counterproductive to put on a metal skid plate. I put a 49 tooth rear sprocket on it I think it will just work better for me. I also installed a Rekluse and it’s also a comfort thing. I could probably get along fine without it for MX but I just wanted it. Although Rekluse is really proud of them, the one that works on the Husky has a list price of one tick under a $1000. I’ve questioned my sanity in needing one of these.

The last thing I installed was my trusty Air Cells, those are the little round cylinders that mount on the fork tubes and replace the air bleeders. These tanks allow a measured amount of air to escape from the forks into these cylinders and back into the forks. The purpose of them is to help soften the initial first few inches of travel in the forks. I’ve installed them on all my bikes for many, many years. I just reinstall on each new bike. All forks build up air pressure that’s why they have air bleeders; air pressure in the forks can alter the way they function.

Actually I only installed one Air Cell on the right side fork, the one that controls compression and rebound. It’s sort of well known the big issue with most all stock forks is the spike (Feedback into your hands) in the initial part of the travel, in other words the small stuff. Most all forks do a good job of handling the big stuff it’s the small stuff that we complain mostly about. But I had no real idea if the Air Cell would work on a fork with no springs in it. I didn’t put the Air Cell on the left side which on the Husky is the one that holds the air no spring but acts as the spring. Varying air pressures is like changing spring rates. Based on the recommendations of Bucky at SBB I took 30cc of oil out of each fork and set the initial pressure at 129 lbs and opened the compression all the way He also had me speed up the rebound (Which seemed counter to what I would normally do) he says the air fork reacts differently to rebounding than standard forks, ok and remembering the compression and rebound are on one side with no fork spring who am I to argue.