by Denny Schmidt
Here in my part of Minnesota it had been somewhat difficult to get a lot of riding in due to the week-long torrential downpours. Like many of you, when I can’t ride, I’m reading about riding. I have long ago read all the motorcycle books and magazines at the local library, so when I am cruising the garage sales for old motorcycles and parts, I like to rummage through the books and magazines offered for sale. From time to time I have been able to score back issues of motorcycle magazines and once found a nice factory service manual for a CL77 Honda.
Recently I ran across an apparently obscure publication entitled, Grow Your Own Opium Poppies and the Art of Single Overhead Cam Maintenance. The author was I.B. Stoner. My guess is the thing was written in the early 70s when environmental issues were starting to heat up. In the preface there is a paragraph mentioning that this was one of the first books to be printed on recycled toilet paper. It didn’t say who the publisher was, but I’m sure it had to have been printed in California.
I, of course, snapped up this rare paperback for my collection in spite of the fact that it appeared to have slipped by the quality control department at the paper factory. A close inspection revealed that it probably should have been re-recycled. A blurb about the relatively unknown author, mentioned that he was closely related to a semi-famous one-legged cafe racer. The racer’s name wasn’t mentioned for some reason. It was mentioned however, that he was well known in the Ducati camp and carried a walking stick with a knee slider on it.
There are probably thousands of M.M.M. readers who have come to depend on my timely touring tips for the thrifty tourer, so…(pause for dramatic effect)…here are my top three touring tips for today.
1. KYLT (Keep Your Lips Tight). Sooner or later you’re gonna get one right in the kisser. I don’t care if you have a wind screen as big as Montana. Weird wind currents precipitated by oncoming traffic, cross winds or (heaven forbid) traffic passing you can cause all sorts of airborne debris including shelled corn, bugs, birds and small rocks to be propelled directly toward your face. To be hit on the cheek by a suicidal dragon fly is a rather unpleasant experience, but catching one in the mouth is downright disgusting. In spite of what my survival training instructor said, there are no bugs that taste like chicken.
2. If you see something dead hold your breath. Always scan the ditches and shoulders as far ahead as you can see in an effort to spot dead critters. Flat critters aren’t so bad, because they usually have been run over so many times that all the smelly stuff has been squished out and fried on the hot asphalt. When you spot these flat critters you may just want to hold your breath a little just before you get to it and let it out just as you pass it. Round critters are another matter. These little stink bombs have been ripened in the hot sun and are swollen up with natures finest aroma. Hold your breath the second you see anything round and furry laying on the shoulder or in the ditch. Keep holding it for as long as you can after you’ve passed it. If you have a weak stomach you may want to turn around and take another route.
3. On rural roads keep a sharp eye out for deer crossing signs and keep a couple of fingers poised to squeeze those binders. In fact, you probably should be ready for deer anytime. Deer don’t know spit about the rules of the road and will assume they have the right-of-way almost every time. Oh….and don’t forget they can’t read. Those dummies don’t always cross the road where the highway department puts the signs up. If you spend a lot of time riding in deer country, you may want to invest in a pair of those deer whistles. You can usually get them at any store that sells sporting goods. They are available in plastic and metal. My advise is to get the metal ones and keep the receipt. The metal ones have the greatest chance of staying in one piece after you center punch a deer, so when you hobble into the store on crutches with your receipt and worthless deer whistle you will have something to show them to get your refund.