Weather: 38Â°F (3Â°C) Rain mixed with snow.
Busy, busy, busy.
Between overtime at work, and preparations for the Winter season that seems determined to start early, I haven’t had time to keep up the blog. For that, I apologize.
One of the preparations I made was to contact my sponsors at Kenda USA and ask them for another set of their wonderful K761 tires. They worked so well on The Baron in Winter project, I wanted to use them again this year on Scarlet O’Baron.
In the message, I admitted that I wasn’t sure what value Kenda were seeing from our sponsorship arrangement, but that I was willing to continue “testing” their tires as long as they would have me. They did use Tracy Mayer’s photo of us, sliding around on Medicine Lake, in one of their ads. That should be worth something.
Failing that, I said, please tell me where I can order and purchase a set.
The reply that came back from Kenda’s North American Sales Manager was classic:
“Not sure what we are getting either, but it can’t be bad.”
A week later, the package arrived at my front door. These folks are so cool… (Thanks, John and Laura!)
So last night, we rode down to Baron HQ, and I installed the new tires with a little help from my crew chief, Loren.
It was a good bit more difficult on Scarlet than it had been on The Red Baron, because of the large subframe assembly that had to be removed, along with the exhaust and shock absorber, before the rear wheel could be taken off. The subframe supports the caliper for the rear disc brake, and also mounts the heavy stock muffler.
Note to self: If Scarlet survives the winter in salvageable condition, you MUST replace that huge, heavy muffler with an aftermarket performance exhaust. That thing must weigh ten pounds! Of course, a new exhaust will mean a mandatory carburetor change, and while we’re at it, what about a cam? (…and so we start down the slippery slope to a money-pit, hotrod scooter.)
How `bout we concentrate on getting through the winter first?
We had both tires mounted before closing time, and we rode home in the deep blue twilight of late Autumn. The rain had stopped, but the roads were still wet enough to test traction.
Scarlet is considerably more powerful than her predecessor. She can spin the stock rear tire in a corner on wet pavement. But on the Kendas, we simply surged ahead, keeping a stable line, with none of that squirmy, uncertain feeling we had with the stock Cheng Shins.
Up to speed, I heard that old familiar “singing” of the Kenda’s aggressive tread. For some strange reason, I have always loved that sound. Maybe because it makes me think of the old jeeps we used to have in the Marine Corps, before the advent of the Hum-Vee.
Riding to work this morning, we went through a couple of construction zones, with mud everywhere. On the Cheng Shins, we would have had to tippy-toe through there. But once again, the Kendas inspired confidence, and we rode through at a relatively normal pace, with no drama at all. I really like these tires.
The truck is going to have to get fixed this year. I’m not going to ride in really dangerous conditions like I did last Winter. It seemed to me that I pushed my luck to the limit, and it wouldn’t make sense to tempt fate a second time. The parameters I am considering are; no lower than 10Â°F (-12Â°C) and no more than 4″ of snow forecasted for the day.
Going back over last year’s blog, I realize that this will still allow me to ride almost 90% of the time, and to avoid the worst of the conditions The Red Baron and I faced last Winter. It will still make for an interesting blog, and I’ll have a much better chance to remain alive and healthy.
Next week is going to be more of the same: overtime and busy-ness. I’ll be going on another audit trip for work, but this time I will be renting a cage. Frogwing is going into Winter hibernation this weekend, so he won’t be able to make the trip. The weather out there on the prairie is too unpredictable this time of year, and there’s really no good reason to risk it.
So, when will Rush Hour Rambling return to normal? Look for some interesting posts that I have been researching to appear around the first of November. I will have some more restaurant reviews, a New Rider Profile, and the usual mix of commuting adventures on my newly-shod Scarlet.
Bear with me until then, and…