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The Phantom Camaro


Early Spring here in Georgia feels much more like mid Summer with temperatures hovering near 80 degrees and the sun shining brightly. Such lovely weather has a way of making people feel like being outdoors to have some fun. Some folks like to walk, others ride bicycles. People put the top down on their convertibles. And me, I go for a ride on my scooter.

Riding always makes me feel free and alive, but this special day for some reason I felt powerful. I’ll admit, my scooter is no Harley Davidson. Not a Honda, Kawasaki, BMW, Triumph, Indian or any other big motorcycle. It’s a scooter. But bigger than those little bitty things you see zipping in and out of traffic in the French and Italian movie scenes.

Full throttle, on a flat stretch of road, I can hit 60 miles per hour. And at that speed this day I felt good. I waved at other riders, always glad to see fellow two wheel enthusiast out enjoying a ride.

I try to keep my eyes on the road ahead, but I do take time to look in the rear view mirrors as well. And that’s where I saw it. It was bright red and it was trying to catch me. Wide and low I could hear it’s engine roaring. You know, the sound that a five million cubic inch engine will make. And it was decked out with air scoops, and air dams, and bright lights. In my rearview mirror it looked like a sinuous wisp of red smoke charging toward me.

But I soon realized that it wasn’t blasting past me at a thousand miles and hour. It wasn’t even getting any closer to me. A red sports car that you can’t drive fast because the police are always looking for any excuse to pull over a red sports car that might drive fast. I was racing a Camaro, and winning!

Shortly thereafter I noticed that the Camaro was slowly inching it’s way toward me. He must had had his pedal to the metal. HaHa! And then, as we rolled along up a slight hill, he cruised very slowly past me. Checking me out. What beast was this that could keep up with his Camaro!

And as he rolled past me and I looked over, fully expecting to see Steve McQueen driving, I took a good look. Funny looking Camaro I thought. Because it turns out it wasn’t a Camaro. Chevrolet yes, Camaro no. It was a Chevrolet Spark! This thing was shorter than my scooter! I was greatly humbled. But went on to enjoy the rest of my ride.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?



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Motorcycles and Zen Maintenance

Vroom! Vroom! Sputter. Splhhhht! Dang! Now what? Many, many years ago I read the book titled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was supposed to be very meaningful and an important book. Maybe because I was still very young, or didn’t care much about either motorcycles or Zen, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I suspect that it was one of those books that was so weird that everyone thought it had to be great. I don’t know. I’m sure people still read it, but it didn’t do much for me. Then or now.

I hadn’t ridden my scooter in a couple of weeks, unbelievably, so I knew there might be some minor issue in starting it up. I had a nice long ride planned. A long ride. And it was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. Mid seventies. Sunshine. Perfect. Battery needs a jump. Simple.

Fired right up. Let it sit for a while to charge the battery. Anxious anticipation. When I hopped on, ready to ride, I gave it the gas and splrrrrhhhrt. Dead. And now it won’t start. Not even with a jump. So much for todays ride.

Doing a little research on the web, and asking a few biker friends, I concluded that it could be one of any number of things wrong. Battery. Starter, Fuel. Fuel lines. Spark plug. And so on. I’ll admit right here that my expertise as a mechanic on tins thing is pretty much limited to putting gas in the tank. I had the rear tire changed once and recall that it was quite an ordeal.

I left it at the shop and when it was finished the guy who worked on it wanted to tell me all about how he did it. Turns out its not like a bicycle or even a car where you unbolt the wheel and change the tire. Nope. To get to where you can begin to fool with the tire you first have to take off the cargo box. Then remove the seat. Then the cargo rack. Then the rear fender. And the taillight. Then, I think, you are ready for the tire.

Taking it somewhere to get it fixed was proving to be quite a challenge in itself. The place I had purchased the scooter went out of business years ago. A couple of the guys who had worked there each opened their own shops. And both had also gone out of business. There was the Harley place, but they couldn’t do it because they couldn’t get the parts. Or didn’t want some candy ass scooter showing up in their hog showroom maybe. One other possibility. Wait! I can do this. Of course I can.

The manual that comes with the bike doesn’t say anything about how to do anything. It gives specs, but not much else. So I went on line and found a couple of forums and blogs that talked about doing some simple stuff. Lets see, change the sparkplug. That seemed like the most likely culprit so I’ll try that.

Remove trunk. Simple. Remove seat. Not too bad. Remove luggage rack. Three little screws. Good God! They used an air wrench to put these screws in. I have a handheld Allen wrench. I’m just gonna strip the hole. I am not taking this thing to the mechanic because I can’t get a screw loose!

Try another wrench. Bigger, smaller, longer. Then I figured it out. I needed a little more leverage. A handle. I huffed and I puffed and I tried to blow that piggy’s house down and finally, after nearly passing out, I heard that sound made by a screw coming loose. Holy smokes!

I got two of them loose. The third one is under something else that needs to come off. That has a nut that needs to come off. Getting to it means sliding a wrench up under something and trying to turn. Let me be sure, lefty loosy, righty tighty. Most of the time. That’s the next step. And maybe I’ll get to it today. It’s mid January and not exactly like the day that all of this started. But I’m gonna whoop this thing and fix it myself. That will give me some Zen! That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com


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