The Demise of Summer & Of My Patience
The Yamaha Blaster our Rambling Man picked up earlier this summer didn't deliver end of the riding season fun... That is, unless you consider fruitless kickstarts and pushing a quad home fun.
My last column confessed the instability of the climate come early fall and the sense of urgency that accompanies working one final ride of the season into our busy schedules. Looking back, this autumn was strange even by Western New York standards. We may have jumped the gun a bit by assuming the beginning of September was the end of the warm days. The entire month of September and the first half of October witnessed temperatures that averaged a solid 20 degrees above normal. What does that equate to in terms of riding conditions? Days in the high 80s and lows around 78 degrees. In other words, the type of weather we usually experience in July!
Despite shades of orange and yellow creeping across the yet full trees, the ride to work has remained alive with the buzz of sport bikes and thunder of inadequately muffled cruisers. Just as I was beginning to wonder if Mother Nature could possibly have forgotten that it was nearing time to punish us, the weather turned and quickly. It literally went from 88 degrees on Monday to 45 on Tuesday and from there we've dipped down into the high 30s here on Saturday. Motorcyclists around town are scrambling to make room in their garages at nearly the same pace as the confused squirrels trying to quickly gather nuts in the trees. I'm not foolish enough to believe this is truly the end of the warm sunny days, but I must confess that I've got the trickle charger on standby just in case.
Just prior to the climate snap, I managed to part ways with the Yamaha Blaster I picked up a mere two months earlier (making it one of the shortest-lived vehicles to grace my ever-changing fleet). Alert readers (sufferers) may remember my excitement in grabbing a cheap/well-used 1995 Blaster over the summer as a potential warm weather project. My true intentions in buying the quad were to perform a slight restoration and to replace the worn out bits with performance-enhancing mods along the way. Ultimately, I hoped to finish the project before fall to enjoy the trails with my young godson (who has been experiencing his first summer of riding). The first part of the plan - the part where I dump every spare dollar I have into the machine - was going exactly according to plan. Additionally efficient was the concept of it managing to devour what little free time I have. Things didn't begin to derail until, thinking the worst was over, I gave the machine a good cleaning and grabbed my helmet to take it out.
Two of the first three test rides ended with me getting a sound reminder that there is nothing fun about pushing a quad home. I spent two weeks wrenching for every two minutes worth of saddle time throughout all of the month of August. Finally on my fourth attempt to simply ride the machine, I made a silent vow that if I ended up having to pushing it home again, it was going up for sale that same night.
Almost as if it knew that I was plotting against it, the quad fired up on the first kick and appeared to be behaving
Our Rambling Man's riding season was extended with some unusual fall weather, but it didn't take long for Mother Nature to cut his warm-weather respite short.
perfectly. My cousin Mike (on his LT450R) accompanied me on a warm Friday night on what was shaping up to be a beautiful late summer romp. About five minutes into the ride I lost my rear brake - the pedal literally dangling from the right footpeg. We spun around and headed back home. Technically, I didn't push it back, so I wasn't obligated to part with it - at least not quite yet anyway. It proved to be a quick fix. A few lock-washers and a dab of Loctite later and we were ready to resume the adventure. The Blaster again fired on the first kick and I pulled ahead to lead Mike back toward the trail network. About 100 yards beyond the comfort of my driveway the quad bogged down and stalled. This time it refused to relight, despite three dozen of my best kickstarter stomps. I noticed fuel spewing from the carb overflow.
"Looks like your needle and seat are stuck," Mike said over my steady stream of cussing.
With that I dismounted and began to push the machine back toward home. A man of my word, I posted it online and within 24 hours helped its new owner load it up. Having just restored a Blaster himself, the new owner was quite unfazed by the prospect of rebuilding and fine tuning the carburetor. I'm quite certain he recognized the look of "this was the last straw" frustration I was surely wearing like a crown.
No sooner had he driven off with the beast did the dark purple clouds of a season's end come rolling in as if on cue. I suppose this cooler weather is the cause of my motivation to start picking away at another project for next season. I'll begin shopping as soon as the memories of the last one start to fade.