Friday, September 18, 2009

Zen and the Scooter Club

I had missed last month's ride for our local scooter club and was looking forward to seeing my friends again this month. We didn't have a big ride planned. We had gained a couple of new members recently and some other people that had been having trouble making it to some past rides said they would be there for this ride. It was going to be nice to meet some new people and see some of the others again.
We met along the river near the Keeper of the Plains monument. Again we had a very interesting array of scooters from 49cc all the way up to a brand new 650cc Suzuki Burgman.
Our plan was to ride along the river a bit through Riverside Park, then head out east of town. Everybody seemed to want to ride through the tunnel under the runway at the Hawker Beechcraft airplane plant. That's the same tunnel I took a couple of pictures of on a recent post. The sound of 14 beeping scooters going through the tunnel was fun. Didn't get a picture this time because we kept riding. You will see further down in this post that it was not a good idea for me to stop and take a picture.
Our destination today was a little coffee and doughnut shop. The place is known as the "Donut Whole". It is not a fancy place. It is in an older building near the downtown area, but it has developed quite a following of customers. They have good coffee, free wifi, an interesting offering of unusual types of soft drinks and, of course, donuts. They have some unusual donuts also, such as the infamous maple bacon. I know it sounds wierd, but it's actually quite tasty. Ever had bacon bits on a donut?
As we were riding along near the tunnel, I noticed that my gas gauge had stopped working. Then I noticed my temperature gauge wasn't working either. Nor was the clock. I had noticed a while back when using the turn signals that the little clicking noise when the turn signals were on wasn't working either.
I became a little worried and wondered If any of my lights were working, but we were getting closer to our destination, the scooter was running fine and I thought it would be easy to check it out when we got to the donut place. I guessed that a fuse might have gone out.
As we stopped at the donut shop, I got off the scooter before I shut it off to see If the lights were working and, indeed, none of them were. I shut the scooter off and the realized that it may not start again, and sure enough, nothing happened when I engaged the starter.
Now you must realize that sometimes my patience with things mechanical isn't the best, but I had just finished reading "Zen and Now" by Mark Richardson which, as many of you know, is a follow up to Pirsig's famous book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".
I did my best to remain calm. Tried to exhibit some patience, not one of my strong points. After all, there were many good friends along with me on the ride, some of them "Cracker Jack" mechanics and I knew that someone could help me out. I had my fingers crossed and was hoping it was just a fuse. Turned out, it was a fuse. We had a little trouble locating a 10mm device for some bolts, but we eventually got it repaired without a whole lot of effort even though I was sort of worried for a bit.
Many thanks to Lloyd, his wife and Gary.
Note to self: when we get back home, make sure you get a small package of assorted fuses and a 10mm wrench in the tool kit. Why is it that you are almost always missing one tool that you need. Is this a derivative of Murphy's Law?
Also need to track down the short that caused the fuse to blow in the first place. I am sure it has to be in the front left handlebar area. It got banged pretty hard in my recent accident. Probably just a loose wire, maybe a bad switch. I am confident that we can figure it out.
The point of all of this is partially about Pirsig and his famous book. I readily admit to not having it all figured out yet. I have read Pirsig, and now Richardson and plan now to go back and read Pirsig again. Maybe it will make a little better sense now. Maybe not, but reading Richardson can give the reader of Pirsig a little different perspective.
I have even thought about Pirsig as I have been doing tax returns at the office this past couple of weeks.
Yeah, right, Zen and the Art of Preparing Tax Returns?
But actually tax returns are a bit like a puzzle and you never quite know where you will end up or what the ending will be like. In a strange way, I see some similarities.
Taking on and overcoming the challenge of the puzzles of either doing a tax return or attempting to fix a motorcycle can be indicative of how a person approaches life.
Sometimes it can be quite frustrating to try and fix something mechanical If you are not sure of your abilities or If the answer doesn't present itself immediately. Sometimes a tax return can be frustrating because the end result may not be pleasant or some of the details are hard to determine.
It might be just the manner of how you approach the difficulties you encounter:
In life.
In tax returns.
In motorcycle maintenance.
In whatever.
To me, one of the things Pirsig is trying to say is that this process, and how you approach it, can be more important than the end result.
Hmmmm, and you thought this post was going to be about the scooter club.
Pirsig has become a work in process for me. I wasn't sure I was all that impressed with the book after reading for the first time. But after reading Richardson's book, and thinking about it some more, well ...... my opinion is maybe changing a bit.
The book has made me think a lot and at times I can be doing something, like working in the yard, working at the office, or while riding, and I will recall something from the book.
All this thinking is a part of a process too.
Thinking of writing a book. Maybe I'll call it "Zen and the Maple Bacon Doughnut".


  1. Dear CPA3485:

    I am not mechanically inclined by any stretch of the imagination. Yet the storage area in my K75's tail piece contains 1 complete tool kit, the manual, suplllemental tools, 25 spare fuses (various voltages with a light up LED to indicate the one that blew), EZ tire pressure gauge, cycle pump, a mini-mag flashlight, first aid kit, Progress Tire and Shock flat repair kit (complete with c02 inflator), bike jumper cables and a first aid kit. On longer trips, I carry a spare clutch cable and a quart of oil.

    It is better to have it, and not need it; than to need it, not have it, and discover it is 5pm on a holiday afternoon in the rain. And even if I can't fix what's broken, I have the right stuff for anyone who can.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad

  2. I have enough mechanical skills to fill a thimble. But I carry a very nice took kit, extra bulbs and tire patch kit. I also carry the BMW Anonymous Book from which I can call other Beemer riders for help should I need it on the road. I figure the tool kit is for anyone who comes to my aid. Really, I want to learn more than how to patch and change my tire. I can adjust the clutch cable and a few minor things...but not much else. It's a regret.

    I may have mentioned this before, but I will again. I think you will enjoy the new book, Shop class as Soulcraft, it too will remind you of Pirsig. In fact, the author is very influenced by Pirsig. The two even attended and received their doctorates from the UofChicago.

  3. I too carry a bunch of tools on the longer rides, heck even the shorter rides. As Jack said, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    I think I better add a small bottle of loctite to my bag, I keep finding loose fasteners on the Ural!

  4. I should probably find where I put that toolkit lol.

    As far as Pirsig, I stopped about halfway through the book and never picked it up again. I meant to read a story about the ride and it veered clear off the road about mid point. Figured his point was life is about the ride, not the destination. That how life is ridden takes care of the destination in its own time.

    Now you have me wondering about that donut...


  5. cpa3485/Jim:

    I am trained in the Jack "r" school of preparedness. Carry all the tools you think you will need and hope that the person that knows how to use them will stumble along shortly. Munch on a donut while you are waiting

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  6. All of you,
    Regarding the tool kit,
    I am used to being more of a boy scout and "being prepared", but this time there was a flaw in my preparedness. I was very lucky to have good friends along on the ride to help and get me fixed up.
    That evening I updated my tool kit to make sure I had more tools, fuses and whatnot.
    The damn scooter has been so very reliable that I got a bit complacent I guess.
    I am used to almost always being in town and not worrying about something going wrong, after all, in the worst case, I am seldom to far from a place where I could push the scooter and easily get it home or to the repair shop.
    I am much more prepared now and all of you are right about being better prepared.

    Sharon, I have that book on my list to buy or get from the library. Just bought Dan Brown's new book and am in the process of that right now.

    That doughnut is really "special".

    Thanks everybody for stopping by ,