Oh my, Sheldon has done it again...

Sheldon Aubut's Moto Guzzi Jackal web site

Friday April 27, 2001
Today I borrowed Son #1's truck to go to Mora Minnesota to pick up my Moto Guzzi Ambassador.  I suppose I should be a bit more specific.  My son has my Corvette Sportswagon this week, and left his pick-up in my driveway.  I didn't really ask his permission, but I took his truck, although he did suspect I would do something like that as spring is here and I am going absolutely buggy without a motorcycle.  Ok, I guess there is a Ural Sportsman in the garage, but it is now sold and just waiting for the new owner to come pick it up, so I don't dare take that out.  Having sold my Ural Deco Classic last year my fleet was about as small as it has ever been.  Usually have two or three bikes around and sometimes even have more.  But seldom have more than one or two running at any one time.

The only thing I had left was my 1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador which I bought in 1994, started to restore, and have sunk tons of money into, in a noble effort to get it back on the street.  Over the last seven years I had done so much on it that I was getting frustrated and losing interest.  After having the transmission, engine, starter, new tires, K&N filters, maroon paint job, my famous $600 re-wiring job, and it has been so long since I started that things that were once fixed are now broken again.  Last fall I dropped it off at Caswell Cycle in Mora Minnesota and asked Les Caswell to finish a few things and get it running, within a budget.  He did great and actually had the thing running and drove it.  I have owned it for seven years, buying it with the transmission locked in gear, so I have never ridden it myself.  After getting the bike running Les informed me that there were still some major problems with the bike but I didn't press him to elaborate, until today.

This morning looked to be the best day of the year so far this spring here in Duluth.  I was hoping to pick the bike up and also hoping that Patti would ride down with me to get it.  Unfortunately she worked the night shift last night and didn't get home until 8:00 a.m. and was wiped out after a busy night at the hospital.  So off I went, alone, in my son's Chevy S10, that is a bit modified.  It has a 406 stuffed under the hood, a B&M Slap Shifter, high stall converter, and all kinds of speed type stuff, not my first choice for a vehicle to get a bike, but the only truck available in my driveway with the keys in it.

Got to Caswell's and the bike was sitting outside.  I'm thinking, "I'll be riding this today!"  Then Les and I got to talking and he explained that there is a bit of a puddle of oil under the bike all the time, and that the exhaust fairly resembles a mosquito fogger.  I was tempted to tell him that could be a good thing in Duluth in the summer because the mosquitoes are about the same size as hawks, but thought better of it.  Instead I asked, "Um, how bad?"  He told me basically that the oil either leaked out or went out the exhaust as fast as he could put it in.  Now considering that four years ago I traded an MGB Roadster to a Harley Mechanic in Wisconsin in exchange for his rebuilding my engine, this was not a good thing.  There seemed to be more wrong with the bike than I had hoped.  Then Les said, "Oh, and the rear gear is making this awful clunking noise."  Of course I asked, "Um, how bad?"  He replied, "Sounds like it is going away fast." (or something to that effect)  This was getting worse.  "How much do you guess it would cost to re-build the engine again and replace the rear gear-set?"  He said, "way too much."

I was thoroughly disappointed.  I wouldn't be riding this bike today, and after seven years of ownership, and about $5,000 I still had an incomplete, non-running, unaffordable, un-rideable bike.  Sat there with my jaw on the floor, tears starting to well in my eyes and the prospect of a motorcycleless summer facing me.  Now if you have been following my adventures these many years you may have heard me talk about my lust for a Moto Guzzi Jackal.  Les has had one sitting there for some time that I have spent many minutes perched upon doing the vroom, vroom thing.  Soooooooooooooo....

One thing led to another and now Les owns the Ambassador and I own a black 2000 Jackal with Moto Guzzi Jackal hard bags and small police windshield.  It is an awesome bike and one on which I will be racking up many miles.

Oh, and while I was working the deal with Les, I was frantically trying to get hold of Patti, but she was sleeping with the phone turned off.  I did finally get hold of here after the deal was done, but she didn't say much.  I didn't know what to expect when I got home with a new motorcycle in the back of the truck, but she was entirely supportive, loved the bike, and even helped me try getting the truck out of the ditch.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention that part.  I have a ditch in front of my house that I often use for a loading dock.  If I pull a truck onto my lawn, then back into the ditch, the tailgate lines up with the street level and I can just roll the bikes on or off.  But of course it rained earlier this week, but the ditch looked dry so I drove in.  And the truck promptly sunk up to the rims in mud.  Patti and I worked on getting it out but I finally had to go find one of my neighbors with a four wheel drive Dodge.  He pulled me out, then I backed the truck into the ditch again so we could unload, and he pulled me out of the mud again afterwards.

Patti and I will be doing a lot of riding this summer.  The only problem I have right now are that my insurance office was closed by the time I got home so I will not have insurance until Monday so I can't ride it this weekend.   I've also been riding sidecar rigs for the last three years.  This means that I now want to turn every bike instead of lean, and I have to relearn my two wheel riding skills.

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Saturday April 28, 2001
Argh... It is killing me not riding, although I did cheat just a little and took it for about a two mile ride in the neighborhood.  I do believe this bike has more power than anything I have ever owned.  And having owned 37 bikes that is quite remarkable.  I'm going to go out and put a nice coat of polish on the bike this morning.

Tuesday May 1, 2001
The morning had thick fog, mist and drizzle, so I left the bike at home, but by lunch time I couldn't handle it and ran all the way home to get the bike.  Big predictions of thunderstorms today, but "damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead."  It didn't rain before I left work and on the way home I was dodging around rain.  Got home and put the bike in the garage just as the rain started.  Sat in the house watching it rain, and five minutes after the rain stopped I was out pulling the bike out again.  Sky was clearing to the South and West so I dodged a couple more storms and headed South to Moose lake to visit my Moto Guzzi riding friends Todd and Louise Kneeland.  Caught them eating dinner, but when dinner was over Todd led me out to a twisty road that skirted some wonderful lakes, and wove through some spectacular hills.  A great ride.  I was home by 9:30 feeling that I finally had a bike that I could ride wherever I wanted without worry.  

The one problem I have is the thing about no training wheels.  I've been mostly riding three wheeled sidecar rigs for the last three years and I am having to re-lean my two wheel riding skills.  Todd was hitting it on the twisties and I was having trouble keeping up.  Not quite there yet.  Normally I would think nothing about dragging a peg but it is looking like it will take me a few more days to get comfortable on two wheels.  Every time I pull up to a stop light I have to remind myself to put my feet down.  If I forget it would be tragic.

Wednesday May 2, 2001
Had a busy day, but managed to rack up some more miles and now I have over 300 on it.  Not much by my standards but my insurance didn't take effect until midnight Monday/Tuesday.  At lunch today I took a run up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Emily's restaurant at French River.  Got there and they were closed for construction so I grabbed a soda pop at Kendall's Fish House and found a nice spot on the rocks along the shore and took a ten minute nap in the sun.  Felt great to ride, and wonderful to actually have a relaxing lunch hour.  

Had meetings after work so I wasn't able to go for a ride, other than home.  It was a long day, but I feel very good about getting some riding in.  Can't wait for the weekend when I can probably find some kind of destination and take off.

Patti has been so very supportive, although she is pushing me to put a Ural sidecar on the bike.  I won't need much pushing.  She's been letting me take off riding any time I like only telling me to "have fun".  I've had more girlfriends over the years than I have had bikes, and considering this is my 37th bike, that's a lot of them.  Not one has ever been completely supportive of my motorcycle addiction.  She is the first, and certainly a keeper so I really would love to have her riding along with me in a sidecar.  It looks like in a couple months that might happen, but for now I have to concentrate on getting used to two wheels.

Wednesday June 27, 2001
Been a while since I have written here but I have been having a blast with the Jackal.  I've been riding absolutely everywhere and have hardly used a car.  Until last Saturday.  I broke my leg!  If you've got a strong stomach you can see a photo of it here.  The doctor said I would be out of commission for about six weeks but then I badgered him and he finally relented and gave me an "Air Cast" instead of a real cast.  It is going to make it much easier and I suspect I will be riding in about three weeks.  He already said I can drive my car, with a manual transmission.  This afternoon I went out to the garage and stared at the bike for a while and tears were rolling down my cheeks.  Darn.

Sunday July 8, 2001
What a weekend! My girlfriend and her best friend rented a cabin for five days in west-central Wisconsin. Yesterday I decided to drive down there and spend an evening.  With the broken leg healing I wasn't sure that I should be riding the Jackal yet.  After all this is only week three.  Looked like rain so there was even more reason to not ride. But... Being me... loaded up the bike and headed out at 9:00 a.m.  Took the expressway and stopped several times to rest my foot.  Only about 130 miles but with a broken leg probably not one of the smartest things I have ever done.  Got there and my foot was swollen again, but put it up for a while and the swelling went down.  Played some cards, and then they took the pontoon boat out to go fishing.  I brought an ice bag along and read Road & Track with my leg up and an ice pack on it. Incredibly beautiful night, but the best part of the day was riding the bike. Got wet a couple of times along the way, but not soaked and it felt incredible to be riding again.

Today (Sunday) I got up at sun-up and sat on the deck for a few hours waiting for Patti and Carolyn to wake.  The lake was calm and only the fishing boats putting around broke the silence.  Watched a Loon just off the dock, a bald eagle fishing about 100 yards from me, and the sun rise over the trees.  Patti finally rolled out of bed about 9:00 and I packed the bike and headed out for the 130 mile trip home.  Hit the back roads this time and avoided the major highways completely.  One section in particular was wonderful.  The road was twisty, smooth, and went through the Mosinee Paper Company private forest.  I cranked up the speed and prayed that one of the infamous Wisconsin deer population would not get me.  The smell of the pines was finally broken when I came into a town called Dairyland and, as you can imagine, the odors changed remarkably.  I didn't scrape the pegs, but I was leaned over in the corners much further than I have yet been on this bike.  I love this stuff!!!!!!!! Managed to turn the 130 mile ride into 205 miles before I pulled in the driveway at home.

Foot didn't swell this time so I felt a lot better about it.  Went in the house put my foot up on some pillows and watched a little TV.  After an hour of so I went out and weeded a couple of my gardens, and as I was going back to the house the bike started to call to me again.  Put my boots back on and jumped on and hit the Carlton County back roads.  It was about 90 f. (32 c.) so it felt especially good to be riding.  Drove by the Strawberry farm where later this week I will go pick my yearly supply and headed up County Road 4. 

Traveling along about 60 mph when I noticed a blue GEO Metro coming towards me and starting to cross the double yellow lines.  As it came towards me it moved further and further towards me.  I rolled off the throttle and pulled as far as I could to the right.  The pavement drops off to a dirt shoulder that is only a foot or so wide.  I knew that if I went off the edge of the pavement I would probably be dropped off the road into the trees, and the car just kept coming.  I rode the white line on the edge of the pavement thinking, "They're trying to kill me."   They kept coming over and I could see a young man in the passenger seat but because of shadows I didn't get a good look at the driver.  I got the impression that they were laughing but couldn't be sure. As they passed I felt the car, or the wind from the car, pull on the leg of my pants.  Another inch and I would have been dead.

I braked, looked for other traffic, and did a sliding U-turn.  Interesting what kind of maneuvers one can dig out of their past. Haven't done that since I was in my 20s. Slammed her down and caught up to them at 110 mph, braked, pulled close enough that I could read GGB 044 on the plate, and from behind them I motioned for them to pull over.  If they hadn't I had already decided I would pull over and call 911 on my cell phone, which was in my pocket.  But they pulled over.  Next thought that went through my head was, "hope they don't have a gun."

I pulled around them and stopped next to the driver's window which was down.  A scared 16 year old girl looked at me with tears in her eyes, the passenger, a boy of about the same age was sheet white.  I said, "You almost killed me back there, what did you think you were doing."  She said, "I dropped something and was leaning down to pick it up, I'm so very sorry."  She then kept repeating, "I'm so sorry", "I will be more careful" and "I don't want to hurt anyone."  My mind's eye flashed back to the incident and I realized that what I had first thought was laughter on the boy's face was fear.  I believed her and gave her lecture number 2510, "inattentive driving."  These kids were so very scared, but they at least they had the sense to pull over.  I left them and did another 100 miles to get it out of my system.

That is about the closest I have come to "buying the farm" in many years.  The adrenaline was pumping and I never even had a chance to get scared, but it sure makes me think about the training of drivers we are putting on the streets.

Managed to do about 300 miles today, with a broken leg, so things are looking pretty good. Hey, and I lived through another day...

July 23, 2001...  I now have 3,300 miles on the bike and I am going to do my first oil and filter change this week.  I was planning on running it down to Caswell's for the 3,000 mile maintenance until I learned that there is none.  Apparently the Jackal has a different maintenance schedule than any of the other V11s and the second scheduled maintenance isn't until 6,000 miles.

The bike has been running wonderfully.  Not a hiccup.  Took it to Two Harbors on Saturday to visit my friends who run the Wolf's Head Rally.  I didn't stick around for the whole show as Patti and her daughter Kelli were waiting for me down at the boat.  The Jackal sure does stand out in a crowd.  Lots of bikes parked around it and just about everyone noticed it.

March 5, 2002...  What have I been up to lately?  Check out:  http://www.cwizard.com/sacramento for a start.  And for the big news:  I love the Jackal but I found a bike I like even better.  I'm trading it in on a 2002 Moto Guzzi Stone Metal!!  Adventure continues at my Moto Guzzi Stone Metal Adventure.


Jackal Owner's Club at Yahoo

2000-2001 Jackal Service Intervals


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Sheldon's Diaries:

1998 Ural Sportsman #1
1998 Ural Sportsman #2
1998 Ural Deco Classic
2001 PT Cruiser
1979 Vette Wagon
2001 Moto Guzzi Jackal
2002 Moto Guzzi Stone Metal
2003.5 Ural Patrol

1983 AMC Eagle SX/4 Sport
2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 Sport
2006 Chrysler Crossfire

Sheldon's main site:  http://www.sheldonaubut.com

Copyright 1994-2010, Sheldon T. Aubut, all rights reserved
revised July 17, 2010

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