A Place, A Time

Kiski Junction Railroad, Pennsylvania, June 26th 2016.

I’d taken my family to ride this little railroad just the week before. On the road down I’d noted the last few miles would make a good bike ride, and so one week later I took my Ninja 300 there.

It was a boiling hot day, but a curiosity is how it’s the details of the bike’s life that stay with me: That chain was on its last legs, and had a tight spot I just could not massage out. The rear sprocket would soon be gone too, but the greatest recollection of all was the valve adjustment. just a few days later over the July 4th weekend, I tackled the valves. The diminutive Ninja had about 8000 miles on it; the recommended check was 7600; conventional wisdom on the Kawasaki Ninja 300 forum was to leave it to 15000, I did not want to leave it to chance.

It actually turned out to be a long undertaking, and the exhaust valves were indeed out of spec. I got the job done, and the bike still runs today. It remains the most complex thing I’ve done mechanically.

The joy of bike ownership, learning to do things you never thought you could.

Ohiopyle in Autumn

Ohiopyle is about forty miles from me, as the crow files. It’s a phenominal motorbike ride, which is interesting because in the year I’ve been riding, I’ve never bothered to do it, due to the constraints of time and the fact I can get lost in my own apartment. Despite the relatively short distance, I had this preconception it was a bit fiddly to get to. I was wrong.

I haven’t bothered to get a RAM mount for the bike for a phone, or gone to the trouble of wiring in any power outlets (honestly, I can’t be arsed, and it doesn’t really fit the bike’s main job), so navigation on the bike for me is the old fashioned way; meaning using my memory, but mostly my miraculous palm-held computer that can tell me precisely where I am in the world, and how to get pretty much anywhere. So, little difference between me and and T.E. Lawrence, clearly…

After some map study I realised I could take a familiar back road almost all the way there, and left fairly early on a Sunday morning, intending to be back by lunch. The ride was absolutely breathtaking; sunny, unseasonally warm, and the Autumn colours were glorious. Perhaps the best of all, there was little traffic, and the small number of slow cars (I couldn’t begrudge anyone wanting to admire the scenery) were easy enough to get past. I felt for a few fleeting moments that I had my own private road. And, I didn’t get lost

I didn’t spend quite as much time as I should of enjoying the scenery, mindful as I was of needing to be back by lunch, but I got a lot out of the ride and it felt like one of those perfect moments you imagine having when you take up riding.

The bike used just a half-tank of petrol for around 100 miles of running, which is a great thing about the Ninja 300, but I again had the feeling I’d have liked something physically bigger, with a bit more punch and longer gearing. On the way out (it’s in the video above) I spotted a GSXR and had a moment of benign envy at how much fun a supersport would be on those roads; but I also felt the same looking at the people on their cruisers. They looked a hoot.

I experience this every time I take my bike out for a ride longer than fifty miles, which is my typical weekend sprint. This little bike that I ride daily, rain or shine has been perfect for me and makes a dull commute a joy, but as motorbikes start to consume more of the my attention, time and money, I think about what I’d like next to an almost obsessive degree.

Perhaps the perfect bike, isn’t one bike…