Timmy visiting Town part 2

Well, after visiting with Matt, Timmy wanted to see more of Birmingham! One of the historic sites in town is Sloss Furnaces. With the iron ore available in Red Mountain smelting furnaces helped create town. Sloss is a landmark here, and we drove by to visit. Unfortunately they use the grounds for a haunted house in October, and we don’t really have access to it to visit. So we drove to one side to see part of it. Timmy beside Sloss
Timmy at Sloss 2 Timmy beside Sloss 3 After we were done beside Sloss, we headed elsewhere.

Part of the downtown city landscape is the railroad tracks that divide the north side of town from the south side of town. The railroad was the lifeline for the new city, taking smelted iron out and bringing in people and other supplies. We stopped on one of the overpasses and showed Timmy this part of our home. Timmy and the viaduct

Then we got to one of the higher points in town. Vulcan is one of the largest cast iron statues in the world, and debuted at the 1904 World’s Fair.
Timmy at Vulcan's parking lot
While we were there, Timmy wanted to check out DH’s Ural. Timmy checking out the Ural He thought he might want to drive it some time. Then we headed up to the observation platform so Timmy could see the entire valley. Vulcan Once up at the top, Timmy got the layout of here! Timmy looking east northeast
Timmy looking North northwest Timmy looking up! After spending some time way up in the air, we came back to earth. Back on the ground And headed to the house to get bite to eat and let Timmy recover from his adventures around town.

Timmy visiting town

Well, while he’s been here, Timmy decided he wanted to see a bit more of Birmingham than just our house.

Since it was so nice this weekend, we took a bit of a ride with him! He stayed with me on my scooter.
Timmy getting ready to go

We had to fuel up the Ural first. Then we visited Matt at Magic City Motor Scooters. Timmy at MCMS Timmy got his picture made on the scooter frame that Matt puchased from the American Pickers guys when they came through last year. Timmy on Pickers scooter He tried on a few scooters for size while he was there. Timmy on scooter Timmy on scoot 2 Then he hung out with with us there for a while! Timmy hanging out at MCMS

Ride for Kids Birmingham 2010

This is a charity ride that DH has done since he got his Ural. The Ride for Kids raises money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. It is one of 40 rides across the USA that raises money fr the foundation as well as serves the families of children with brain tumors. The first year DH heard on the Ural board that they needed sidecar rigs for the Ride for Kids here in town. He showed up, and his motorcycle was one carrying a small child who was too sick to ride on the back of a bike. The little boy who he gave a ride to that year looked about half of his age and was in his own world. It really touched DH’s heart, and he vowed that he would always do this ride. Continue reading

Took the motorcycle safety class

I was able to take the motorcycle safety class that I wanted. 2 days on a motorcycle when you aren’t used to it will wear you out! The class I took was from the RIDE instructors. Its a variation of the MSF basic riders course, and I took the class at the Harley dealership in Pelham.

It was raining as I drove to the class location, and continued to rain on and off until 10:30 or so. The rain wasn’t heavy, and didn’t stop us from doing anything. There were 5 men and 3 women in the class, and the instructors weren’t being jerks to folks. They knew I have a scooter, and are cool with it. One of the other ladies has a Honda Reflex that she rides regularly, and had just gotten a Harley Softtail. We were riding Honda Rebels, little 250cc bikes. We were schooled not only on the maneuvers they wanted us to do, but on proper mounting and dismounting of the bikes. We spent a good chunk of time on the bike, learning where the clutch engaged and disengaged, as well as the slow speed maneuvers, the straight weave, 90 degree turns and offset turns. We even managed to start working on shifting gears. I managed to get the bike into 3rd gear and back down!

We had one person go down late the first day in the class, as we were coming back from a break and doing offset weaves. I was a bit disconcerted by it, but the rider picked up the bike and got back on it and kept going with the exercise. After class was over, and most everyone else had gone, one of the instructors was riding his Harley RoadKing through some of the cones for the course, doing the offset weaves on it. I was impressed.

After fighting the clutch and not finding neutral the first day, I was able to find neutral much more often on the second day. I still was fighting the clutch all day long. The instructors knew I was a scooter rider with an automatic transmission, so I have a feeling they gave me more latitude on my clutch handling – say rather my gear shifting skills than they gave the folks who had just bought motorcycles. If I am going to be doing any regular MC riding, I think I’ll be getting a pair of MC boots that are made more for that and don’t have quite so distinct a tread pattern as my hiking boots. They work well for me with the scooter footboard, but fighting the foot pegs on a regular basis is not on my list of things to do.

Nobody had an attitude about what we were learning, so everyone in class was open to actually learn something. Most folks, if they’ve ridden, either hadn’t ridden recently or were there to see about learning something new. Some were very new to it. Nobody was flunked, and everybody seemed to be willing to listen and adjust what they were doing within the limits of what they were physically capable of. I noticed that I was starting out much more tired on the second day, and that I was having problems with fatigue in some exercises in the morning. This afternoon as we were working on swerves and emergency braking at the end of the day I saw that I was making some stupid mistakes from fatigue. Nothing horrid in itself, but not something I would do if I was fresh and sharp. And I was recognizing that it was not right. I was semi joking around with folks about learning the clutch and now needing a couple hundred hours to get good and comfortable with shifting gears.

The nice thing about this particular class is that the instructors make themselves available by phone and email afterward and you have the option of riding another class in the future for no charge when there is an empty seat.

I really would like to take my scooter and ride the course of cones they had. I’ll be taking some of the ones I have and setting up a course in a parking lot and practicing the weaves and obstacle avoidance swerves, as well as emergency braking for sure. I got up to 25 MPH on the last day. I was joking with DH about it, and saying that now I was a real MC rider. I could shift gears up and down. If nothing else, I feel confident now that if we were out riding on DH’s Ural and something happened to him, I could get us home without any major mishap.

Of course everyone asked if I was planning on moving up to a MC. I told most folks that I wasn’t planning on getting anything now. After the entire class was over when I was asked that, I told them that I really wanted to get proficient with my scooter first. I couldn’t say for the future, but that option is open for me. And that DH is looking at possibly getting either a trail bike or a dual sport bike, and that would be one I would be happy to pick up and ride more than the Ural.

My shoulders, forearms and wrists ached and hurt after the class. I spent more time working the clutch than I’ve done with my left hand in a very long time.

Order from Barnes & Noble in my hot little hands…

I ordered several books of Elizabeth Bear’s and a couple of books on good motorcycle riding straight from Barnes and Noble. It arrived this afternoon! Yay! More books!

No I don’t have a motorcycle, but lots of the things that apply to motorcycles apply to scooters, too. And as a complete n00b on motorized 2 wheeled conveyances, I will take highly recommended books as starting places for better riding. I do learn from reading, so there are things that I will pick up to add to my store of ideas in my brain for riding. I will be riding during the upcoming long weekend, weather permitting. And reading a bit, around gigs. 🙂

Long day, full of stuff

For a Sunday, it was pretty full. DH and I went to church, then came home. One of my fellow office workers turned 50 today, and so I went in to the office and helped to decorate the premises. I made some balloon flamingos. They turned out ok. We’re all going to wear black tomorrow, and make sure we’re in early enough to be there when the co-worker gets there. It should be fun.

Then after I got home, DH and I took the motorcycle that is finally back from the shop and drove over to Ruffner Mountain to take some pictures. We walked around the enclosures where the rescued birds live, then hit the nature trail. I have some nice pictures. I’m still figuring out some of the settings, so I have to wait to see how the pictures look when they are displayed on a screen that is larger than the one on the back of the camera. But I think I’ll have some really good pictures out of it. We didn’t a have a long time there at the reserve, but it was a good time for us.

My older younger brother’s birthday is tomorrow, so we celebrated it this evening. We were supposed to meet at 6 at Surin in Crestline. DH and I were a bit detained. As were were walking out of the house, there was a commotion in the street. DH saw a van in the street taking off like a bat out of hell away from us, and there were a couple of guys there, one lying in the street, one hollering for help. DH had gone outside before me, and I was locking up the house, so all I saw was the guys in the street. The one who was mobile asked us to call for help, since his bud had just been hit with the van. DH called 911 and got help on the way. The one who had been hit was lying in the street, and not moving very much at all at first. Then he was asking about his surroundings and tried to get up a couple of times. we did our best to try to keep him from moving too much. It took about 10 or so minutes, but the fire and rescue folks showed up and started to get him checked out and on his way to the hospital. We were all glad that there was qualified emergency personnel there to take care of him. Then the police officer arrived and started to get some information on what happened. DH and I didn’t have much to add, but he got DH’s name and phone numbers. After all of that was taken care of and the guy was taken to the hospital, we left for dinner.

Dinner at Surin was good, and it was fun to eat with my brother and his girlfriend and my parents. But its been a yoyo day.

Car update

Here’s an update on the car situation. DH’s car is still sitting in the parking lot of the service station. An appraiser from the kid’s insurance has looked at the jeep and figures it’ll take $1100.00 to fix the wheel and the body. He didn’t look at the axle to see if it was bent. He’s reported back to the claims adjuster, and now we’re waiting to see what Allstate does. We’re still a one car family right now, so things are interesting.

DH did manage to get his motorcycle up to Tennessee to the dealer to get it looked at. Friday his parents drove the trailer down from Huntsville, then he got the bike on the trailer. They drove back to Huntsville and dropped his mom off at their house. Then he and his dad drove to Waynesboro. They dropped off the bike and trailer ad drove back to Huntsville. I drove up to Huntsville after work and picked him up and we came back to Birmingham. Yes, there was lots of driving done on Friday. But this way the trips got done before the snow, which was the other deciding factor for DH’s parents. The warranty for the Ural is up in mid February, so we’re under a bit of a time crunch to get it looked at and serviced before the warranty runs out.

Hopefully we’ll know in the next day or two what will happen to the jeep. It’s a 1989 jeep wrangler with 192,000 miles on it. Its on the line between repair and replace. If it takes much longer to make the determination, we’ll not be happy campers.

DH’s motorcycle’s company has a new CEO

Oh, wow. DH has a Ural. He loves his bike, but the company has been having financial problems lately. The factory is in Irbit, Ukraine, and evidently they owe a great deal of back taxes. From what he had told me, there was a dispute about taxes, and the company lost, and owed a very large amount to the government.

DH was reading the various Ural forums, and found an interesting news story. IMZ-Ural has a new CEO, from the USA. Evidently the gentleman visited the factory earlier in the year on a investigation from a group of investors, and was impressed by the operations. The company itself is pretty small, but has a good distribution and dealer network out there. The factory is old, but in good shape. The money crunch had hit, so the cash flow has been the biggest problem they have had. So with the deal by the new CEO and local investors, it looks like the company will now be in much better shape. Hooray!

Its a nice bike, so I’m hoping that the new CEO and investors will be able to keep it running in good fashion for many years to come. Or as DH says “keep a steady supply of the spare parts he needs for years to come.”

helping others out

DH and I got back in a little while ago. We’d been out at our church working with the committee for our angel tree. We’re gone to the local schools and the schools where our folks teach, and gotten the counselors and social workers to get us the names, needs and wishes of a family who needs some help. Its sobering to see lists of christmas wishes for folks that are for nothing but a shirt and a pair of pants, and nothing else. One family needs a washer and a dryer, as well as a a twin bed. It is a reminder that as far as things go, we are very well off. We have plenty to eat, we have nice clothes to wear, we have a nice house to live in, we have health insurance that covers us when we are sick. Yeah, there are things we want, but our needs are indeed taken care of.

As we were on our way back home, there was a motorcyclist broken down on the side of the road. DH saw him, and asked if we could see if they needed any help. So we turned around and stopped. There were 2 guys working on the bike. One had his truck pulled up behind it with the headlights on so he and bike’s owner could see what they were doing. DH got out of the car and walked over to see if they needed any help. He ended up holding lights and offering suggestions and support until they decided that they had done as much as they could on the side of the road and loaded up the motorcycle in the back of the truck. I didn’t have a problem with DH helping out. He’s received enough help when he’s been broken down on the side of the road. He was just paying that help forward.

Happy Labor Day!

I hope your Labor day has been a good one. DH & I have slept late and and then rode the motorcycle out to 29 Dreams. We had a burger and drink out there, then came home. Whee, the motorcycle is working again! Then it was nap time. After working 2 festivals Saturday and Sunday I’m one hurting puppy. But it was a good weekend anyway. I haven’t read a thing today except for my emails. But it is still early.

New motorcycle wrinkle

This afternoon, DH had a blowout on the motorcycle on his way after dropping me off at the car dealership. He was on a fairly wide shouldered road that is not highly traveled, thank goodness. The pusher tire blew out at about 50 mph. He got the bike back under control, slowed down, and then pulled off to the side of the road. He called me to let me know, and I came over to where he was on the side of the road.

He had just gotten the motorcycle back from the body shop. They finished up repairing the side car today and it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But in the course of all the bike’s trips to the different shops, they tightened up the pinch bolt holding the axle on the rear tire, he thinks with an impact wrench. And he wasn’t able to get it loosened up with his little wrenches in his repair kit. It wasn’t until another biker stopped with a repair kit that had slightly longer wrenches that he could get the leverage to break the pinch bolt on the tire. It was over 100F this afternoon when he was out fighting the tire. I’m just glad that he was ok.

As for me, my car just needed the regular service, tires and brakes checked, oil changed, and belts and hoses checked. Unfortunately, we found tonight that the low beam of my driver’s headlight is out now, after the service. grumble, grumble, grumble. You’d think that they would check the headlights when they had the car in for service, too.

New motorcycle forks in from California

So the motorcycle shop has gotten it to a paint shop and they should be painted to match the rest of the bike. DH and I are hoping that the bike should be ready by the end of the week. At least the repair place is keeping us in the information loop. We’re both really pleased about that. DH is especially pleased, since the bike gets so much better gas mileage than his 1989 Jeep Wrangler.

Work has been authorized on the motorcycle!

Yay! One of the things that has held up the repairs on the bike has been that the lienholder had to approve the estimate of repair for the bike. DH finally got a shop to give him an estimate in writing and the credit union that holds the loan approved the work. They have to order the forks from California, so its going to be 10 days to 3 weeks to get the motorcycle part of the work done. Then the sidecar has to be fixed. But DH is getting separate estimates for that part of the work.

As DH says, it still beats the 6 month ship time from Russia.