The chilly-cold morning gave way to a sun-drenched afternoon up above the inversion layer that blankets The Valley, and despite smashing my finger in the truck door-edge and bending-back a nail while loading some junk at Costco (Gas: $2.29 regular), I felt like going for a ride.
But first, lunch at Papa Gianni’s – the Ravioli for me, and a Salad (dressing on the side) for Her.
I needed 150 rounds of bird-shot (#7-#9) for the SHOTGUN 1, HOME DEFENSE class, and I only had/have a few old boxes of Remington 7-1/2 “Sport Loads” – which I think fits in there between those numbers. Remember folks, I’m not a numbers-guy, to me they’re just weird squiggly neo-letter shapes than can’t be used in Poetry except by ee cummings.
I had acquired a “case” (?) somewhere along the way (at Wal-Mart), at a time when I had really no inkling whatsoever of Shotgunnery. I bought them because I yearned to try-out Grandpa’s old Belgian A5 “Light Twelve” humpback, but being surrounded by rifle-loonies I had no recourse to easy instruction in The Art of The Guage.
Now I do, and I had to pay for it – but I also needed 50-more bird-shot shells. And some slugs. So time to gear-up for a ride up to Hangtown Wal-Mart where I bought what they had, some Winchester Super-Target xtra-lite target loads 1 oz. 9-shot, blah-blah whatever.
So…The Math for Shotgunnery is totally weird to me, worse than rifle calibers and land-vs.-bore dimensions – which I do “get” – and waaay-worse than anything having to do with electricity… Now I have some old 1200fps “3-Dram Eq. 1-1/8 oz. shot 7-1/2-shot” shotgun shells, and also some “1180fps velocity 1 oz. 9-shot” shotgun shells.
Wait a second as I Googl-Fu my way to a smart-math answer: 1oz. = 16 drams. WTF? So how in the HELL does that work again? Shotgun drams are a sneaky volumetric measurement based on shot-size? Ok, whatever. My shoulder will answer to it.
The afternoon Wal-Mart parking-lot was hot and I was perspiring in the black non-breathing Gore-tex multi-weather gear with shoulder and elbow armor, so I unzipped the collar a bit for the ride home. Still chilly in the corner shadows, dark patches made me alert for moisture and the smell of a burn pile in the front-yard mixed with the acidic aroma of horse manure reminded me this is Life in the Country! Whoa, swerve around the dead skunk!
I took El Dorado Road out off Pleasant Valley Road and hopped onto the freeway. The big R1100R easily accelerated into the light stream of traffic coming down The Hill (from Tahoe) and does 80mph just fine. It’s not too buzzy but the flat-twin is just a weird beast that needs a few more cylinders to be smoother I guess, but a triple is a whole ‘nother motorcycle – why I remember listening to the symphony of Bozo’s Laverda Jota heading up to the Sierras to Monitor Pass one summer, and the amazing, booming howl it made when it came on the pipe up in the canyons… Good times.
UPDATE: The luxurious warmth lasted until the sun got behind a few trees and the damn COLD popped-up like a troll from under a bridge or an angry Progtard on Twitter.
That reminded me of one of the very rare Laverda Triples to stop at the general store across from Alice’s Restaurant. Orange, of course, and as loud as the paint was. He came in northbound on Skyline, and went to the north end to enter. He parked for a bit, and had quite a crowd around it while he grabbed a snack. He returned the way he came, and slowly wound first gear all the way to the first bend (tall gearing). Shifted second as he went out of sight, and took that to redline, also. When he took the north exit and headed south, everyone stopped and watched/listened. And they stood there listening until the sound faded away. He was running a 3 into 1 header, and the result was riveting. That was the most incredible growling howl I’ve ever heard. I only saw the bike a couple times up there. This was around 1980, give or take.
There was another one that I use to see at SC Cycle Salvage, and we chatted a bit. Then I moved, and discovered that he lived at the end of my street. This one had the 2-1-2 “factory” Jota exhaust. When working in the open garage, I could hear him turn into the complex, several blocks away 😀 Got to be good friends, and Mike sold me the Triple to help make the down payment on a house up off of RT49. I never got the chance to return it, as he died late ’99. Lost my two best friends in less than a week…sigh.
Interesting! Kurt (red-haird guy, Bozo) worked at SC Salvage and later Zoom – inherited his older brother’s orange Jota when he died, killed in a racing accident at Sears I think.
Bozo was former roommate of another riding-buddy Pete. Can’t remember if it was a 2-1-2 or a 3-1 pipe but it made a marvelous snarl. Think it was pretty factory except for jetting.
Last time I saw Kurt (Kirk?), he was working at a suspension shop in SJ. Had a spring made for my new ’96 Ducati SS-SP, for the Ohlin’s shock I put on.
His brother was Derek Wittorff. He died early Nov ’87. He was diabetic. Had a kidney? transplant a few months earlier, but it didn’t take. He was in a Fremont hospital to have an insulin pump implanted. I was in to visit him Sat evening. (Still got the card from Kirk with his room info on the back. Sits in my toolbox lid.) He had been having health-related trouble for a while at work (Managed the Santa Clara store), so we agreed to try doing some bike rebuilding as a part-time thing, while he recuperated at his parents place. Security came and threw me out, since visiting time was over. He died the following morning. Massive heart attack. It was hinted that the hospital had screwed up something, but I never got further info. Which indicates there was a lawsuit, I suspect.
Derek ran AFM, #13, I think. Raced a 750 Suzuki. He was very good.
His family didn’t really put the word out that there would be a service for Derek. I found out from a co-worker that saw the obituary notice on Monday. I called a few people, and I guess others did the same. It was standing room only at the service, several hundred I think. A friend commented that if the family had given more notice, they would have had to hire Candlestick to hold everybody. For at least a year, I kept running into people who hadn’t heard about his death, and would have attended. He was a very popular guy.
Derek looked like a twin of Rich Oliver. There was a photo of the two together, under the glass counter at SCCS.
I was told by both Derek and Mike, that Mike’s Triple would run away from Derek’s bike. Derek’s had that full bodywork, and Mike’s was bare, and he was a big guy. IIRC, Derek’s would top out about 140, and Mike still had gearing to spare. He had 20-30 mph higher speed. Derek said that Mike would pace him until he was topped out, and then whack the throttle and leave him like he was standing still.
Kirk! You’re right, my bad. I never knew Derek, and it seems you knew them better than me! 🙂
The boxer motor idiosycracies take some getting used to; my Subaru is like that too when letting off the throttle, it acts like the brakes are getting a light tap from an invisible foot, except it’s a phenomenon that’s load, speed and gear dependent, so it’s always a bit different with each circumstance.
Enjoy your cruising, sir.