Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Great Escape

Let’s have a merry journey, and shout about how light is good and dark is not. What we should do is not future ourselves so much. We should now ourselves. “Now thyself” is more important than “know thyself.” Reason is what tells us to ignore the present and live in the future. So all we do is make plans. We think that somewhere there are going to be green pastures. It’s crazy. Heaven is nothing but a grand, monumental instance of future. Listen, now is good. Now is wonderful. ~ Mel Brooks

Well this is it, the final countdown before I embark on my adventure to the USA for a few weeks. So far the vast bulk of the arrangements have been painless, but certainly costing plenty of dollars and Euro!

Right now the plan is fairly straight forward. I get on a plane in Dublin early one morning, then arrive in New York (JFK) where I jump planes onto a flight to Cleveland, Ohio. After which I will be collected by my hostess and there begins my adventure. I am flying with Delta, so can make notes on my laptop en route so a full and honest review shall find it's way to this page.

An Amtrak trip has been booked that will take us to Washington DC, New York City and Boston. That will be a week of madness with a mix of friends floors and a hotel room in between. Not going to get as long as I would have liked in any of those places, but it is still my first time in any of them so it is all good. Just need to make sure I make a short list of 'must see'. Again, most of the reviews I have read about Amtrak have been positive but I will be adding my own unique perspective here.

While in New York I have had my arm twisted to go and see the musical 'Hair', my mother remembers it from back in the day and shakes her head whenever I mention it...but I shall hope for the best and just enjoy the experience. The reviews I have been shown by the 'arm-twister' have been positive and I will not look elsewhere for dissenting voices.

Photo of the horseshoe/Canadian falls taken fr...Image via Wikipedia

While those dates above are all fixed there are also a few smaller trips planned (hoped for?) around Ohio state, Amish country, Marietta College and maybe as far north as Niagara Falls! There are other more homely pursuits in store for my like a few little parties (Grumberfest?) and even a baseball game...yes I intend to drink bad beer, get a hot-dog and enjoy the ball-game, though I may need to be reminded who to shout for (and what is going on!).

This great escape has come out of nowhere! It has been planned and thrown together over the month of June, virtually all last minute and so lots of pressure to get right first time. The main reason for this to have even become a reality or possibility has been due solely to the kindness of people who have not even met me yet! So who (what?) is going to arrive on their doorstep in a few days time may end up tainting their very charitable hearts, I will try to be good.

I intend to take plenty of photos that should end up on my Flickr page for all to see, while I will keep a journal of my experiences and any insights that should end up here on the interweb for you to hopefully enjoy. I may alter names to protect some peoples innocence, but you will know you who be!

If any of you have suggestions for what to look at or where to visit then feel free to leave some comments.

I have wandered all my life, and I have traveled; the difference between the two is this -- we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. ~ Hilaire Belloc

It is time for me to travel soon...

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Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Office (By Yamaha)

Yamaha has released a very funny short spoof of 'The Office' staring their top MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Colin Edwards and James Toseland. It is set in the Yamaha USA HQ in California, as this weekends MotoGP round will be from Laguna Seca. So enjoy the boys having a bit of fun before this weekends round.

As always, keep the rubber side down!

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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Bday Mistress

Well, my Buell Ulysses XB12XT is one year old today! This time last year I was like a kid in a candy store as I went to collect my new Buell with my partner. The weather was terrific, we went to a nice restaurant and parked the Buell outside for all to admire. Yet by time I got home that night the oil filler plug/dipstick had somehow disappeared while on the motorway ride home. Left a message with my local dealer and out they were out next morning with a replacement. All good!

The break in period was smooth and relaxed. I did everything by the book and followed the best sage advice I could find online. The motorcycle is very well cared for and I am not even a fast rider, I love the torque and handling of the Buell.

However things started to go wrong. I have blogged here all about it. The motorcycle started cutting out while riding and all sorts of strange warning lights would come on. This pointed to a wiring short that was never found after 2 trips into my dealer. Then the 3rd time the engine cut out I was in a bend and down we went. The dealer recovered the bike (like me, bruised and scratched) and took it apart. They found the wiring loom was faulty and a short in the fuel pump, all was replaced. Though this happened in November and I am still waiting for that replacement side case they promised.

A view that I never enjoy...

Like any vehicle there have been minor recalls. Any other issues have been taken care of under warranty. Though I have already gone through two ECU and awaiting a third due to faults. While just a few weeks ago the wheel bearings had to be replaced after I got off the motorcycle and saw mine had been chewed up. The dealer had to purchase similar bearings locally as there were no official Buell parts in Europe and the waiting period could have been at least a month.

Currently I am awaiting a new exhaust as the current one has turned to rust. Though H-D are having the replacement camcoated before fitting so that is a plus that should mean this one lasts (longer anyway...). I have some Touratech parts sitting on a garage shelf waiting to be fitted which should further protect the exhaust. Due to its exposed position and not being stainless steel it is effectively being sand-blasted by both the front and back wheels every time I take her out.

OK, the above reads like bit of a horror story. In many ways I am extremely frustrated, one buys a premium priced motorcycle (here in Europe) and you expect something reliable and of quality build. Yet it is the most unreliable motorcycle I have ever owned. Not once did any of my second hand Japanese machines leave me stranded... the time my last motorcycle got flattened in a petrol station being the sole exception. They just kept running. Through summer days and winter snows they never baulked at any road I took them down.

Yet this Buell is targeted at the sport touring market and many of those, like myself, will feasibly use this as a regular commuter. I only have a motorcycle licence so I am on my motorcycle virtually everyday whenever I need to go anywhere basically as I live in the country. Would I buy a Buell again? The honest answer is probably not, certainly not as my primary motorcycle. The dealer has been fantastic and they have done everything they can to help me and fix every problem. It is just the build quality and reliability that hurts the Buell brand.

I love the motorcycle though, for all its faults. If it was a bit more bulletproof then I could have seen myself holding onto this for many years. It is the perfect partner to my riding style and philosophy. I have no problem taking my motorcycles in for services to qualified mechanics and have them carry out the work and stamp the books. What worries me is that once the warranty period is out I may not be able to afford the breakdowns and other failures that have tainted my experience up until now.

To end, as I pulled up outside a shopping centre the other night a chap with a lady friend riding pillion pulled up beside me. He jumped off and came straight over to me. His last motorcycle was a Buell and we started exchanging war stories. He rattled off a list of things that went wrong with his and I went through mine. We both laughed a lot! I then said I will probably sell mine before the warranty period is up, he laughed and said "I was lucky, mine got stolen just after it ran out...".

As always, keep the rubber side down

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