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Fazer and Friends - How It All Began
Golden gives us a bike's-eye view of how his riding adventures began with his bike, "Fazer," and their riding buddies!
By Golden "Bub" Carper, Contributing Writer of TheCarolinaRider.com
On July 1st, 2011 my life started, that's when my owner, Golden, aka "Bub" brought me out of the shadows of the Yamaha shop in Lancaster, Ohio to enjoy the open road with him. I'm a Yamaha, or rice rocket to some, and my name is Fazer. Although I have the horsepower and handling of a crotch rocket, I'm built with high handlebars and normal foot pegs. My owner is kinda old and crotchy and I don't want to bend his back more than normal.
What was he doing in Ohio when he lives in Gaffney, SC? Seems him and his beautiful pillion buddy, Margie, had stopped off the pick up their dogs at her sisters. They'd been on a leisurely drive around the Northeast and were headed back to Gaffney. Margie and sis wanted to "shop" so Bub grabbed the car and went to look over some cycle shops up there. "Just looking" you know! How many of you were "just looking" when you bought your latest steed? I noticed him right away as he wasn't the usual type to wander in. Yamaha up there is more into ATVs and Wave Rider types. He ambled over to a FZ8 right beside me and was looking at the sticker when I nudged him with my front tire. He looked at me like, "did that bike bump me?" In that, "I'm only asking out of curiosity" attitude, he asked my price from the sales man. "Well, I wasn't thinking of spending that much," he replied. The salesman returned with, "what if I take off a thousand?" Ohhh, that got the blood pressure up. "Well," he replied, "I'm only here visiting and I don't have any gear with me." "No prob," said the salesman, "we'll fix you up." So Bub went out to the car to get his cell phone, and as he walked back in the shop I heard him say, “Honey, I need a thousand dollars to buy a bike." PAUSE "I’m at the Yamaha shop north of town, your sis probably knows where it’s at, OK see ya in a bit.” That’s when I knew I was going to “RIDE”!
Pretty soon Margie and sis pulled into the shop’s parking lot and while the shop mechanic went over my vitals, Bub and Margie worked on the paper work. She and sis returned to shopping and Bub and I rode around some roads close to the shop. "Whew," I heard him say; "this bike is like a rocket, more like the starship on Star Trek. It doesn’t accelerate, it “warps!” That made me feel good, but I kind of held the revs down as I knew he wasn’t used to the power I have. And then, temporary tag on and registration in hand, we were off. Man, did that ever feel good! I hadn’t been on a road since my test ride back in Japan. We rode on some country roads around Lancaster, getting used to one another. And then on the 4th of July 2011 we headed out for Gaffney. Margie wasn’t too happy about having to drive the car home but she hung in there. Right after getting onto the West Virginal turnpike, Bub noticed the fuel bars were gone and the little gas pump symbol was flashing. I’d been trying to get his attention for awhile! Seems his other bikes would run 200 miles or more before going on reserve; but not me - 140 miles and I need gas NOW! Lucky for us a gas station was nearby, you can believe he watched those fuel bars after that.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, boring and hot on the super slab. Finally arrived at my new home near Gaffney. Nice, lots of shade trees and a nice cycle garage. That’s where I met his other bike, a Suzuki Vstrom. That’s good I thought, at least I won’t be doing any dirt roads with the V around and that’s what I get for thinking. Next day Margie and Bub took me out for a spin around the local area so I could check it all out. Didn’t ride long as my pillion seat, I gotta admit it is pretty sad and the driver’s seat isn’t much better. Bub then took me over to Mickey’s to show me off and of course we had to ride a little.
Mickey has a BMW 1200GS, the first European bike I’d seen. Not bad! Several days later Charles Rippy came over from Lincolnton, NC on his Vstrom and we three took off on a long ride. Went up NC 80 out of Marion, NC to the Blue Ridge, wow, that 80 is some road and then on to the Blue Ridge. I thought I’d died and went to Cycle Heaven. Such a beautiful road, couldn’t believe that someone had built such a road for cycles. … And then we came upon some cars! Oh well, it’s still a beautiful road and area. After a few weeks Mickey finally relented to Bub’s urging and climbed into my saddle. I could tell he was impressed, my Computer Control Unit could pick up the conversation between their helmet intercoms. He must have really enjoyed the ride cause a couple of months later he had one just like me only with the optional full fairing. And several months after that Charles shows up at our weekly ride with a Fazer just like me. So now all three riders have Fazers and we all enjoy it. We listen to the intercom chatter between them and we talk to each other in bike language.
The Winters of 2011 and 2012 was very mild so we all did a lot of riding. From Waynesville to Erin to Wilkesboro and beyond. Bub has a Zumo GPS into which he can load routes and we ran a lot of those. Not too many roads we haven’t laid some rubber on, but you know it seems like the roads just go on and on. Good for us. Oh, do you remember me thinking that only the Vstrom would get the dirt roads? If you’ve been up NC 181 out of Morganton , which is a super road by the way, you probably seen the road off to the right that goes to Brown Mountain. We turned up that road and it was good for many miles and then the pavement turned into this brown thing with rocks and ruts. Yep, I’m on a dirt road! They throttle back and it’s not too bad, but that brown dust is everywhere. And going around corners is way hairy. These street tires don’t much like rocks. After many miles, it seems, we pull out onto 181 near the Blue Ridge and Christa’s, the guys favorite restaurant. It is really funny and even I can’t help but let a little giggle out my exhaust. With all that brown dust, we look like ghosts! But no problem, on our way down 181, a rain shower comes along and we’re all clean again.
Early Spring and the guys were talking about a road trip out West to California and Oregon. Wow, I thought, I’ll get to see the Left Coast. Late April and the planning is getting serious. Bub has loaded a route to California into the Zumo and Z passed onto me. I’m getting excited! I hear them talking about tires and I know that’s going to be a problem, I’ve never gotten more than 5000 miles out of a rear tire. And then in mid-May I get the bad news, they are going to camp on this trip and the Fazers do not have a long enough wheelbase to carry tents and such, so the Vstroms and the GS get the nod. Boy, I’m really bummed and I backfire and skip ignition to let them know. But I get over it and enjoy the rides until they pack up the Vs and leave in early June. Guess I’ll enjoy a little down time in the garage till they get back. I’m getting a little tired and bored just hanging out in the garage with the cars and Margie doesn’t leave the house that much, so I don’t even see her. Then in late June I hear the sound of a Vstrom, could it be Bub? Well it’s dark and raining so it probably is. And it was! He pulled the V in beside me and we talked almost all the night. They had ridden 7200 miles and seen so much and experienced so much that the V had a hard time remembering everything, but the GPS was on and she filled in where she could. Next morning Bub came out and started unpacking the Vstrom. Poor thing was really glad to get all that load off. Then he looked at me, went back into the house and returned with my keys, pushed me out of the garage and away we went. Wow, that felt so good just to be spinning wheels again!
Our weekly rides with Mickey and Charley started up again, but it was so hot. They left early in the morning and got back home around 1 or 2. Bub had read an article in Rider magazine about the road numbered 16. It is the only state road in the US that goes through 4 states, SC, NC, VA and WV without changing its number, plus it is a great bike road. So as we rode along he talked up the idea with the other 2 guys. They were all for it, but wanted to wait for cooler weather and to just make it a 2 day trip. That way instead of camping out, they could split the cost of a motel room and wouldn’t have to carry camping gear. By mid September, temps had cooled from 95-100 to 85 – 90 so off we went. Mickey and Bub rode over to Lincolnton NC to pick up Charley and then Charley led us up to 16 at Conover. It was a grand ride, and after going into Virginia, Charley had Bub and me take the lead. What a road, so nice and very little traffic.
Stopped for lunch in Tazewell, VA and on our way. Crossed into WV and the road just kept climbing up and down those beautiful mountains. We were making good time and enjoying the curvy road, then it happened. For some reason I could not turn into a curve. Bub had my speed right and leaned over, but I couldn’t turn! Man, was I scared! I don’t know if there was some spilled diesel or something, but try as I might, my tires would not get a grip. When he realized that we couldn’t do it, he stood me up as much as he could and clamped on the brakes. Then angled me so I hit the guardrail at an angle. That is a terrible sound when you hit that rail, screeching and banging and so on. My fairing on the right side took the brunt of the hit and then the frame slider and muffler. I came to a stop and fell over, Bub had fallen off and was laying on the ground also. Mickey and Charley hopped off their bikes and told Bub not to move, He said not to worry, he didn’t feel like moving. And no more than a couple of minutes after the wreck, up pulled an EMT truck. They jumped out, checked out Bub, he was sore but OK, then someone picked me up, looked me over and said I looked ride-able. I didn’t feel ride-able, but checked myself out, forks OK, tires OK, nothing bent much, just a lot of deep gouges on my right side front fairing, bent frame slider and bent brake pedal. My ECU said all was OK, so whata ya gonna do???? … ride on! You can read the rest of that story in the Oct 9th edition of The Carolina Rider Scene.
After finishing the route 16 ride, Bub was looking me over trying to decide what to do and I was wanting something to be done. It was embarrassing to be seen with all those scratches and gouges. Checked with a couple of shops about repairing and painting. But then I found out he was looking on the bike forum and seen an ad for a Fazer retro kit. It is a body kit that replaces all body panels, fenders and tank in a style of Yamaha factory road racers of the 80s. And the cost was close to the price of repairing me. So that’s how I went from a deep blue color to a white and red color. I look pretty good if I do say so myself.
It’s now mid Oct and we have enjoyed so many roads in NC, VA and Tenn. I couldn’t have picked a better owner if I tried. But then one day Margie and him take off in her car, which is unusual on such a nice day. Late that afternoon I hear the sound of a bike coming into the driveway. Uuuummmm, sounds like a Harley. The garage door opens and Bub pushes in a beautiful orange and black XR1200. Wow, I thought, look at those jugs!!! I think I’m in love. Can’t be jealous 'cause he bought another bike like that. So here we are today, the 3 of us enjoying our company together and enjoying the rides we take and talk about for hours after we’re all in the garage. Now we are all waiting for the winter weather to relent a little so we can ride in 2013 … maybe next week!