Drought. Wind and dust, and lots of it. And cold. It kept snowing, though not enough to leave any noticable moisture in our parched province. This past two years have been drier than the 1930's.

There just wasn't a lot of incentive to ride, so Aretha stayed in Saskatoon a lot longer than I anticipated. But by June, things were looking up, we'd had some rain and the day in, day out winds seemed to be abating. So, I ordered the parts, set everything up with my friend, and went south for a week to some dogshows. Plenty of time...

Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2002 22:32:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: Catherine McMillan
To: "cbr@deleted.com"
Subject: Re: [cbr] venting

Well, I went to pick up Aretha today. In pieces, basically. Dave tore apart the carbs, which of course, were rebuilt last October and in no need of tearing apart. He did take old chain off, he took off the tank and bikini fairing, etc... and picked up the parts I ordered. Or at least, some of the parts I ordered. No sign of the front brake pads. Then, he headed out of town, and left everything scattered around his sister's garage.

So, I cross-tied her into the truck, to with leave with Jim at the local sport shop. My usual mechanic. The guy I should have taken it to in the first place, who I planned to take it to, until Dave volunteered...

Problem. He's heading off on two weeks holidays. He can get the carbs back together, and put the new chain on, but won't have time for more, and there's no hope of getting back at it until August. So, fuck it. I'll put the rest of the new shit on myself. Going to nix the brakework and fork seals. The electrical-tape-dust-cap is doing a magnificent job, thankyou very much. Don't know if he tightened the steering head and actually, who the fuck cares. The brakes, and the forks and the steering worked well enough as far as I was concerned, until people started pointing shit out to me. From now on, to Whom It May Concern: I am not entertaining unsolicited opinions on the mechanical condition of my bike. I was content in my ignorance. All the information did was undermine my confidence. I am not entertaining promises, either. I'm discovering that opinions are only slightly less worthless than promises, and both have cost me a shitload of money and riding time.

But, that's not all. Dave hadn't done the winterizing he promised to, either and that had an unanticipated consequence...

I started to prep the tank to fix the damage from my lowside last fall and found a huge blister where there really shouldn't have been one. I called the painters over. They were as mystified as I was. So, out came a screwdriver for a more pointed investigation...

Dave had left the tank half full of gas. Unknown to me, there was puncture in the tank, near the top , that some bozo had repaired with a fibreglass patch and bondo. I had no idea it was there. The gas had leaked through the hole (about 3/8" in diameter) and soaked into the bondo and fibreglass, and it sweeeeeelllllled. What a fucking mess. Now it needs to be stripped completely and welded. I'm going to have to beg to get that done, as the shop is half staffed with everyone on vacation and they refuse bike work at the best of times.

At lunch my Dad came to pick me up. We went for soup. He didn't have much of an appetite, having just come back from the hospital. Prostate cancer is a bad thing.

At 1:00 pm, I announced that I was going to start the day over. Told everyone I would be back in an hour or so. Got in the truck, drove the 30 miles home, ate some leftover desert, then drove back to town and started over.

Someone had written "Kate is hot" in the dust on the tank.

I believe that referred to my mood.


Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 21:23:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Catherine McMillan
To: "cbr@deleted.com"
Subject: [cbr] getting there (was venting)

So, I dropped Aretha off at Jim's sport shop here in town on Tuesday. Like I should have in the beginning. He had put everything back together that had been ripped apart, plus the parts I had planned to install, before finding out the chain was the wrong size. Tell me please, how do you sell a customer the wrong chain when you're given the old one to match?

So drove back to Saskatoon today and exchanged it. Jim popped it on tonight, and dropped by the house to tell me she was sitting outside, ready to go.

Sans the tank and seat. The seat is in my truck, the tank still at the bodyshop where, bless his bodyman's heart, Warren set aside a shitload of work to weld the hole... holes - (we're up to 5 now)... in the tank.

I had a shower before I went over to Jims to push her the 3/4 mile home. Waste of water.


Final tally - 8 holes had been punched in the tank, so that some bodyman from the Neandertal period could try to pull out a huge dent. When Warren was finished grinding off the putty and crap, I was torn. Do I restore this shit, or do I just take a grinder and ball peen hammer and go for a Mad Max Theme?


Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 19:23:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: Catherine McMillan To: cbr@deleted.com
Subject: together again

I got the rd back together this afternoon.

Also, repacked my mufflers. Carbon dating anyone?

More pics

So, here I sit with typing with toilet paper bandaged fingers (blisters from the pliers) and a tired leg. She won't start. :-(

Anyone got any ideas? The battery is dead, but that's not the problem. She'll start without a battery.

Date: Sat, 20 Jul 2002 16:46:25 -0400 (EDT)
Reply-To: "well_ard@mainframe.dgrc.crc.ca" To: "well_ard@deleted.ca"
Cc: "cbr@deleted.com"
Subject: Alive, she cried!

Aretha lives!

It was not the battery - the new one is still being charged. It was the enricher tube, or lack thereof. (for cbr listers - it's a small tube that connects the carbs for cold starting. I used a piece of gas line to replace it.)

As soon as I got the thing on (not easy, even with my small fingers), and the gas in the lines, she fired up on the first kick. Dutifully turned the key back off immediately. I may get out on her this evening. I can hardly believe it... finally!


Thankyou, everyone.

Now, I'm going to ride in and over the hairdresser who turned me into a poodle yesterday. He said he didn't like bikes. He's really going to hate them after I'm finished with him.


Baptized         Saskatoon, July 21.
Temp: 18C, Humidity 75%, Wind N 46 km/h, gusting to 57 km/h.

Oh yay. My first day to ride, and the trees over the house are painting violent circles in the sky. Overcast, miserable.

About noon, I couldn't take it any more. Convinced myself it was perfect temperature for leathers, and would just make a few easy runs through town to get my wheels back under me. I haven't ridden since last November, and the last time I did, I had to pick myself up off the pavement in an intersection in a mountain village.

I ended up on the hiway to Pike Lake park. Wind at my back, not too much gravel - not bad, overall. A whole new crop of foals to scatter in the pastures. The leathers are comfortable. I was right about it being the ideal temperature for a ride.

When I turned north towards the city and into open areas, the old familiar feeling of the wind trying to blow my wheels out from under me, was back. Just settled a little lower on the tank and it wasn't long before I was back in the swing of things. And not much longer after that, that I was parked, waiting for a mile long freight train to pass, in the pouring rain.

I have never ridden in the rain -the consequence of living in a part of the world in its third year of drought. And I chose a cloudburst to get my tires wet in for the first time. I was pretty careful at first, but the traction was better than I expected, and it cleared pretty quickly. I stopped for an hour to watch the big boats at the Great Northern River Roar. They race formula 1 boats on the South Saskatchewan, around an oval that forces them under two of our bridges. It's the only river venue on the circuit. Great stuff.

All told, I took things pretty easy. Mostly... when you have 300 spectators lining the Broadway Bridge, and a screaming 2 stroker, what's a girl to do? They all turned to look.

I've decided I really like riding in the rain - so long as you can dodge the big ones, and aren't forced into any quick decisions. Especially when you get to enjoy the view of skies like this... the same one as the dust storm at the top of the page, from June.

It was just the ticket to put aside the last traces of uncertainty left over from kissing the pavement last fall. A good day, wet or not.

Brainerd, Minnesota, July 28, 2002

Oh... My... God...
And riding through Wisconsin along the Mississippi. Thankyou, "Phil".

(What can you say about a guy that has nearly 100,000 miles on an F2, who has two 4 car garages plus a ride-in motorcycle shop in his house, but no stove or lawnmower ... who can come out of a 5 bike wreck, broken bones and surgery with a grin and a thumbs up? ... ok...well... You can say a variety of things, I suppose.)

No pictures. I was having far too much fun for that. I think I'll have to go back and check how he's healing...

Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2002 12:44:07 -0400 (EDT)
From: Catherine McMillan
To: "cbr@deleted.com"

A few days ago west winds brought in the first real wave of the scourge that has been eating what's tried to survive our drought. It's begun to rain now, but it's too late for this year's crop, by and large.

I had ridden my mountain bike out along some road allowances a couple of days ago - just dirt trails of parallel wheel tracks through the grass lanes between fields that were reserved 80 years ago for roads that were never built. That sound that is made when little boys put baseball cards in their bicycle wheels? That's the sound the grasshoppers were making as I rode through them.. pingetty, ping, ping - I guessed about 4 - 8 a second for a good two miles. But the day was calm and they only jumped as high as the handlebars at the worst. The effect was kind of cool. Like a spray of water from riding fast through a mud puddle, except the spray was formed by leaping hoppers.

At 60 mph they are quite another matter. At that speed, grasshoppers are rocks with creme filling. I made the error of choosing a quiet, narrow secondary road to go visit a friend who's been in chemo.

The wind was up a bit which meant that, in addition to the kamakazi leaps into the bike, the were floating through the air, diving at me in groups. There's another reason to be glad I'm not a D cup. I'd never have been able to get low enough on the tank to get behind the bikini fairing.

Hell Highway

In town, the situation was much, much better. Great day, took in the Fringe Festival for a while, putzed around town, practiced curves on Spadina and at the University. I wish the speed limit were higher at the School of Agriculture. This is just a small corner of the facility.

Aggy 1
Aggy 2
The Synchrotron

Found myself on 22nd street (a 3 lane artery) riding alongside a friendly kid on a Harley, who, after a few blocks, decided to provide a demonstration of Harley Might with bursts of throttle, at about 2 second intervals.. each an acceration of the previous. I matched these little bursts without losing an inch... then decided it was time that Harley Might was introduced to RD Powerband. Only a puff of blue smoke remained where a vintage bike once existed... what fun.

The official reason for the ride was to attend a Mensa get together. As good an excuse as any. Mensa Non Smoking Section

Free food, lots of booze *sniff* but by 8 it was starting to rain, and close to dark, so I said my goodbyes and suited up. It was a light rain by the time I left, and as I swung onto the highway to take me the 25 miles home, the storm front hit full force.

Thank God I learned to ride on the open prairie, with constant wind and truck traffic. Thank God I spent an hour riding in gentle rain on the way back from Brainerd a couple of weeks ago. I was in the open, with no shelter closeby, and the wind was strong enough to throw the bike the full width of the lane at a time. I had to stay on the extreme right to avoid being blown across the dotted line, and on a couple of occassions it did, anyway.

The railway overpass was a treat. It pulls the blacktop off the bald prairie and thrusts it 20' higher into the wind. On the other side, you can never guess which way it's going to switch and eddy. And it was raining, hard. I'm thinking, please, please, please, don't let it hail... (When I got home, the weather warnings were out, including one for 1" hailstones somewhat south of my route.)

The first 5 minutes was the worst - My guess is gusts of close to 45 mph, with sustained winds of 30, hitting the bike broadside. Worse than anything I had ridden in the dry, much less in rain. And an RD is a tallish, narrow, light bike, with a relatively high center of gravity. Very unsettling. Luckily, the gusting abated after the first few miles, and settled into a strong, wet, managable side wind.

With the worst well behind us, I stopped in Vanscoy to take a pic (I have my priorities) then headed the last 7 miles to home.
It was calm when I got to Delisle, which is typical of prairie storms. Fierce winds at the front fading to steady wind, followed by a settled calm. Peeled off my wet leathers (to think I nearly wore jeans!). And then I realized I had never really been afraid. It had been a blast.

One of the top 5 rides I've had, ever. "Twisties? We don't NEED no stinkin' twisties. We get a knee down just leaning into the wind."

Sept. 11, 2002

This has nothing to do with motorcycles.

Yesterday I was listening to my usual air filler, CBC radio, while I worked in the studio at some sculpting. Their designated documentary of the morning was devoted to some moron who was busy comparing the response of Bush et al to the present circumstances, to McCarthyism.

Had this been out of the ordinary fare for CBC radio, I'd have probably listened to it, gotten a bit steamed and then forgotten. But, as it is CBC radio, it was in keeping with the usual... each and every excuse to criticize all things American, be it trade policy, foreign policy or, usually, whining that we dont "get enough respect" ... it seems every third day some open phone line is devoted to it. Followed by some eloquent pap from our leftist university intelligensia, waxing on in droning earnest, sanctimony ...

Well, this time I picked up the phone and called their talkback line. And I told them I was a long time listener. And that that had just officially, come to an end. That I was switching channels and it was for good. That I sick to death of their incessant, whiny, monotonous American bashing.

And I did.

Because America deserves better.

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