Thursday, August 12, 2010

...back to the City

The reason I skipped out of San Francisco (besides the whole losing-my-stuff thing) was to kill time before the Moped Monday being hosted by the Creatures of the Loin, the San Francisco brand of the Moped Army. I had 3 days before the rally and just wanted to sleep in the wild, instead of GGP.

8pm @ Shotwells, drinks 'til 10pm then it's riding time. I show up right at 8, looking around for any other mopeds. Nothing. Okay, maybe I'm just early. I walk in, sit down at a completely crowded bar and order a delicious IPA: Big Daddy. Still no sign of a moped rider.. hmm. Suddenly, it's trivia hour. Teams are forming, a raspy voice over a crackling microphone starts asking questions about the Ninja Turtles; it's 8:40 at this point. My initial reaction is to check my phone, and look at the forum post. Doh, I didn't scroll down enough. "Last minute location change due to trivia night. Uptown @ 17th and Capp" Frick. Time to hop back on and ride a few blocks up. When I arrive, I see about 4 amazing old mopeds. Some modified heavily, capable of 50mph, others restored to running order, and a bit more. Either way, these things were beautiful. I had to wipe up the drool a few times.

Inside, I sit down and have a PBR (at a SF dive bar? NO WAY!) when I notice a girl come in with riding gear on. She stands next to me to order a drink, and I ask her "So, which is yours?". She comments about her bike, and of course I'm jealous. She reciprocates, and I point to the only stock/post 1990 moped on the street. Dork status +1. I tell her about my trip, and before I know it all the moped guys are asking me about it. My silly trip preceeds me. Everyone I talked to was really cool, giving lots of good advice, and even invitations to camp/sleep over. Wicked. I dig these cats already.

10:30 rolls around, and people are slowly hopping on their bikes. At this point, there are at least 25 mopeds crowding the sidewalk to the point where you'd have to walk into the road to get around them. One turns on and zips around, then two, then 4. Next thing I knew, everyone was on their bikes and leaving, while I was still strapping on my helmet. Shit! I scramble to start the bike, run a red and try to catch up.

Let me put this into perspective real fast:
Me + 35lbs of gear on a heavily restricted stock moped that was dying.
25 people that mod mopeds as a hobby/career.
Streets of San Francisco at night + fog

It'd be an understatement to say they lost me. When that traffic light turned green, it was just a flood of mopeds through the intersection, accompanied by the defined BRAAAP of some tuned pipes and kitted motors. Fucking amazing. It was a scene most people will never encounter. Everyone was there for the same reason, with the same interests in mopeds. It was beautiful... until they lost me. 27mph on flats can't keep up with guys doing 35 up hills. Somehow I found them at the gas station, when everyone took off again. I managed to follow the whole group for a total of about 7 miles, before I really got lost. Ole Tomozela decided to stop running while chugging up a hill, which lead to me having to kick start it after a few attempts. Everyone was long gone at this point. Crap.. GPS comes out, and I head back to the bar.

Arriving at the bar, I saw one guy taking off his helmet. We had met earlier in the night, and had exchanged numbers. Mike hadn't gone on the ride, I found out. His moped was broken, so he had simply rode his scooter to meet up with everyone before and after. I explained my situation, and right as I was finishing, one of the other riders shows up with a smile on his face, and a broken mirror. "Dude, I totally went down. It was perfect". Apparently he had laid the bike down going around a corner, slid on the ground for a little then just stood up and picked up the moped. Scary, but he was fine. His mirror... not so much. He reported back that a few people had broken down, and the group got split. Apparently some cops had stopped the faster group, but I don't know what happened with that. It could have been because we ripped past two squad cars that were pulling someone over.. they must not have enjoyed that.

That night, I slept in the warehouse where Mike and some other's stayed. Yea, a warehouse, but I'll explain how amazing it is shortly. I rolled my moped into a dark room, where I could only tell it just had a ton of stuff in a large room. A nervous shuffle over some things and up some stairs, and I was putting my stuff down in the "Rape Room"...which is simply a futon bed at the end of the loft, that has two walls built around it. Hardly rape-like, and obviously a joke. Granted.. that is pretty awesome to call your guest room a "Rape Room" just to see how the guests react. I laughed, as did Mike.

Now, I can't really describe this place as well as I wish, but I'll try.

It's a warehouse. It's a house. It's a garage. It's a storage facility. It's an art studio. It's a practice room. It has enough books, instruments, stickers, posters, bikes, mopeds and tools to last anyone a lifetime. Translation: Perfect. There is one exception, every Tuesday at noon.. the insanely loud warning sirens followed by the loud ominous voice barking "THIS IS ONLY A TEST" coming from a speaker 20 feet away. You can hear it throughout the city of San Francisco, and we're 20 feet away. Jesus. A good way to wake up though.

Little did I know when coming to San Francisco, that Treatland is based out of this town. It's one of the coolest moped parts online stores ever. Click here for moped awesomeness. It was exactly what I needed to make my moped run better.. so Mike and I headed over the next morning to pick up some parts. After a few questions were exchanged, I was walking out with $110 less, but a bunch of parts to get my moped cruising. I spent much of the afternoon working on swapping parts and trying to tune the moped, under the watchful eye of Mike. Eventually I got most of my junk bolted on, jets swapped, and I was ready for a test ride. It was LOUD and FAST.. I was happy. Little did I know, that volume was cause for concern.

Earlier that day, Celeste (who I accidentally woke up this morning) had informed me, over a cup of insanely good coffee and a chocolate chip croissant, about her friend coming to paint a mural on her bedroom wall that night, and she was to photograph the whole thing. Rad. 8pm rolls around, and he shows up. The camera is set up, the paint is out. 12 hours later, I'm falling asleep to the sound of a few people leaving for work. I witnessed a blank wall become a cavalcade of color and shapes, which turned into a portrait of what would best be described as Cruela Deville, which was then cast upon with paint. A beautiful thing now calls Celeste's wall home. There will be pictures on Facebook.

The final product:

Remember Mike from San Francisco that rode the motorcycle, that I met in the Redwood forest? He returned to the bay area today, and we met up and had some bangin' burgers at this little place called Barney's Gourmet Burgers. My lunch should have been on weight watchers menu: A burger with pepper jack cheese, hickory bbq sauce, enough bacon to last a week and it was all chased by an oreo milkshake. Perfection. Shortly after, I headed back to the house where I had to fix my moped. The cause of the insane volume was the fact that my exhaust pipe wasn't flush against the engine. The tell-tale sign was the oil and gas mixture leaking from the mount. It took Mike and I the majority of the night to get the exhaust properly mounted (cursed thick ratchet heads!), but it didn't come with out some brute force, hacksaws, drill presses and some strategically placed four letter words. I have the most beautifully ghetto exhaust mounting bracket this side of the Mississippi. So, that's one problem solved. A few smashes with a hammer later, and the air filter problem was solved. Some random pulling of cables and oil hands, and my oil injection is gone. Sweet. The bike is really ready to rip now. Oh wait, 2 threads on the Carb mounting bracket bolt are jacked, and the clamp won't tighten. No tight clamp and my carb goes flying off the bike. No bueno. The hardware store closed 5 minutes before we discovered this problem..and none of the millions of bolts here would work. Argh! Tomorrow it is..

I sit here, listening to some music under a little lamp and typing away.. knowing I forgot something in my story. It's all good though since I did a lot of writing tonight and finally caught up with where I am. Every day is such an amazing adventure, and I'm surrounded by such fantastic people. Real people, living real lives.

Pictures tomorrow, I promise. I have 860 on my camera from all over. Be patient.

I'm off to go bug Celeste. Goodnight, moon.

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