Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Box on Bike

Some of my friends doubt my taste in choosing what looks good. They might not tell me to my face, but they keep silent, look down, maybe say that, "they wouldn't make that choice." They are probably right. I don't have very good taste or don't see things the way that others do. A lot of the time, I see function as more important than style. I figure that form will follow function and don't worry about it if I am uncomfortable with my first look at it's appearance.

Just to be clear, this isn't one of those times. I completely understand that what I have done is functional but ugly. You might say that I have hit the KLR with an ugly stick and, as anyone knows, a KLR doesn't need a lot of help in the ugly department.

Over the years of touring, I've learned that I don't want to put a lot of stuff on the back of the seat so I can more easily swing my leg over. I also don't want my tank bag too high so that I can see the gauges.

This year, between video camera, overboots to keep out the rain, and other gear to stay warm and dry, I'm carrying more stuff. I needed bigger luggage that wouldn't get in the way. Most people would have installed panniers (side cases), but on my bike, there isn't any structure where the panniers go and I don't like how wide and in the airflow they end up on a high exhaust bike.

My solution was a bigger trunk behind me. My original plan was to build something aero and original, but I ran out of time. Instead, I decided on one of these waterproof military spec cargo boxes and most people would say that the one I bought is too big. Who am I to say they are wrong. Hopefully, this will be a better aero solution as the box is blocked from the wind by my body.

The extra room will be very nice. Note the old JC Whitney trunk fits nicely inside the new box. It's hard to believe that I live out of the JC Whitney for 3 weeks on my Newfoundland trip.

So my job was to make a secure mounting system that could lock to the bike for security and also be removed to go into the hotel. That turned out to be a pretty good project, including me relearning how to weld aluminum. The mounting frame that bolts to the bottom of the box uses the same mounting system as the JC Whitney trunk that I use on a daily/short trip basis. It's got plastic sliding races, spring loading, over-center latches, and locks.

Best of all, I can detach the box from the bike, pull out the handle, and roll it into the hotel just like a regular suitcase. If I get dirty out on some two track, I can find a spray car wash and clean up the box and the bike before going on to the hotel. That is a big improvement on what I had been doing with the water resistant JC Whitney trunk.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Even Mac's get the Blues

I've been away from this blog for a little while. Mostly, just life getting busy, but also a period of computer problems. Having a Mac and having it be completely trouble free for 4 years from new, I was surprised when the screen started going blank and frozen at inopportune moments. I also realized that, unlike a Windows machine, I had no clue how to figure out what was going wrong. I needed help.

I found MacDaddy in the next town and contracted him to diagnose the problem. Of course, the real reason for this post is just to have the opportunity to bring up MacDaddy and his cool icon.

It turns out, my problem was a conflict between Tiger and the early Leopard upgrade which took 4 years to show up as a problem. The fix was to reformat the hard drive and reinstall the OS. Hmmmn... That sounds just like I would have done with Windows.

Ah, but there is where the Mac difference comes in. I have the Mac backup program set up on an external hard drive. Reformatting and reinstalling the OS takes about 4 mouse clicks and just walk away. After the reinstall, I was asked if I wanted to reinstall any files from another drive like Time Machine. Yes. After that, the computer was exactly as I left it, right down to opening the same web page I had been looking at before reformatting the disc. Very cool.

The other interesting thing about this process was a conversation with MacDaddy himself. It turns out that he won't be in the next town for long. Conversation got around to the economy and business recovery. His business is busy and profitable, but his wife has been laid off for 7 months. As she is from Canada, they are in the process of selling their house and plan on emigrating to Canada. I asked if they are going for economic reasons, he said partly. They also prefer the culture and government to what is happening here. He specifically mentioned that they liked single payer health care system. I know that about half the people in this country find his opinion to be anathema. Still, I find it fascinating to meet an intelligent person who is willing to pull up stakes and change his life in this way.