Another fabulous A.J. Baime story…

AJB1This one is awesome (it’s a story about a ’52 Buick), and you can read it here.  Me?  I’m off to the hotel gym, a quick breakfast, and then the airport for my flight to Chongqinq.  Adios, Singapore!

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A Singapore summer evening…

Just a few more Singapore photos, one more evening in this most dynamic town (mission accomplished and it went very well, thank you), and then I’m wheels-in-the-wells early tomorrow for an all-day trek to Chongqing.  I’ll be hooking up with my Riding China buddies, and I sure am looking forward to that!

I took a short walk tonight for a great street vendor chicken-and-hummus wrap (a fabulous dinner), and I clicked the shutter a few more times (at ISO 1600, owing to the fact that the sun had gone down).    Before that chicken wrap (and the great Heineken that came with it) I was sorely tempted by a Singapore specialty…crispy pig!

170613_1674-650Yeah, that porker looked like he would go down easy, but I didn’t want to, you know, pig out.   Besides, my good buddy Paul and I are hunting Russian boar in another 2 1/2 months, and I’ll have my fill of pig then!

Here’s a Singapore crow who kept an eye on me during my entire dinner.

170613_1675-650Singapore’s Hard Rock Cafe….

170613_1678-650The paint is what makes this Lambo work for me…

170613_1681-650I tripped the shutter about a tenth of a second too soon on this next photo, because that’s when this most serious young lady broke into the world’s most beautiful smile…

170613_1684-650The Royal Thai Embassy on Orchard Road…

170613_1710-650170613_1693-650And just two or three more evening scenes along one of the trendiest streets in Singapore…

170613_1700-650170613_1705-650170613_1707-650Singapore is a fabulous town.   You know I’ll be back.

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Where’s Joe Gresh when you need him?

My good buddy Joe Gresh gets it.   That’s all that matters.

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Grand Garands…

For me, there are two holidays that call for a day on the range with military-based rifles:   Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.   Every year on or about these special holidays I’ll take my M1 Garand out.  I did so this past Memorial Day, and I also took along a couple of other rifles that are direct descendants of the Garand.   I’ll tell you more about the other rifles in a minute, but let’s talk about the M1 Garand first.

The M1 Garand at the West End Gun Club

An M1 Garand at the West End Gun Club

Eight rounds in an en bloc clip, waiting to be pushed into the M1 receiver

Eight rounds in an en bloc clip waiting to be pushed into the M1 receiver

The Garand is a gas-operated semi-automatic rifle, described by General George S. Patton as the greatest battlefield implement ever invented.  In a period when all other armies were using bolt action rifles, our ability to deliver serious semi-automatic firepower without having to turn a bolt was a major advantage.

The Garand’s design is nothing short of genius.  It operates by porting a bit of the combustion gas to a cylinder that drives the operating rod, and then the operating rod pushes the bolt back.  John C. Garand’s genius is evident in the mechanical interaction between the bolt, the operating rod, and the rifle’s receiver.  The angles and camming surfaces are such that when the operating rod pushes the bolt rearward, the bolt first rotates and unlocks before it extracts and ejects the spent cartridge case.  After it has done that, the main spring drives the operating rod forward again, the bolt picks up and chambers a new round, and everything locks into place.  It’s very clever and it’s very mechanical (just the way I like it).  There’s no software and there are no electrons carrying any signals; there is only good-old-fashioned, straightforward mechanical stuff.

Several armories and companies manufactured Garands, and serious collectors look for Garand rifles based on their manufacturing pedigree. My M1 Garand is nothing fancy or collectible.  It’s a mutt, a hodgepodge of components with an Israeli-manufactured receiver, a Beretta trigger group, and other parts of mixed origin.   But it shoots well and I love shooting it.

The Garand is a rifle with a soul.  It’s like taming a living ferocious beast when you shoot it.  It roars, it kicks, it makes mechanical noise, and it sends things flying.  My daughter once captured a photo of me firing my Garand with an expended .30 06 cartridge case still in the air…

Check out the spent cartridge case just ejected…it’s in the lower center of this photo!

I was surprised to see Garands still on guard duty a few years ago when I had a secret mission in Turkey.   I grabbed some cool photos of Turkish sailors and soldiers (the young Turks, I guess you could call them) guarding Ataturk’s tomb in Ankara…

Standing guard in Ankara, Turkey

Standing guard in Ankara, Turkey, with an M1 Garand

An M1 Garand macro muzzle shot

An M1 Garand macro muzzle shot in Ankara

After the Korean War, the US Army developed the M14 rifle to replace the Garand.  The M14 is essentially a shortened M1 Garand with a magazine (you insert the ammo into the bottom of the rifle).   The basic Garand operating concept is the same.  The M14 switched from the mighty .30 06 round to the 7.62 NATO round, which we also know as the .308 Winchester cartridge.  The M14 shoots the same bullet, but the 7.62 brass cartridge case is a little bit shorter and the bullet is about 100 feet per second slower than it would be if it was fired from a .30 06.  The shorter cartridge case allows the 7.62 NATO round to operate in a machine gun with a higher cyclic rate of fire, and that was one of the reasons we went with it.

The M14 started development in the 1950s and it officially replaced the Garand as the US Army infantry rifle in 1961.  I first trained with the M14 when I joined the Army, and I liked it a lot.  It was a full-sized rifle with real sights and a real walnut stock (no black plastic silliness in those days), and it fired a serious cartridge.   Unlike the Garand, the M14 had a selector switch that allowed it to fire full auto.   With all those features, what’s not to like?

Well, one thing, maybe.  When the Garand was phased out of the US inventory, the US Government sold the rifles to the public.  That’s something that would make the lefties set their hair on fire these days, but back then what defined political correctness was more rooted in common sense.   Anyway, with the M14’s full auto capability, sales of surplus US infantry rifles to the public just wasn’t in the cards when the M14 was replaced with the M16 during the Vietnam War.

In addition to being a great service rifle, the M14 was one hell of a target rifle, too.  The M14’s .308 Winchester cartridge is inherently more accurate than the M1 Garand’s .30 06 round (heresy to some, I know, but I’ll stand by that statement).  Civilian competitive shooters wanted the M14, but it wasn’t going to happen.  So private industry did what America does best:  It engineered a solution.  The company was the Springfield Armory (not to be confused with the U.S. government’s Springfield Arsenal), and they created and sold semi-auto-only versions of the M14 to the public.  Springfield Armory called the new rifle the M1A (not to be confused with the M1 Garand).  I know, there’s a lot of “not to be confused” stuff here.  It’s complicated.

I bought an M1A a year or so ago.  I’d always wanted one, and when I spotted one in our local gun shop with nice horizontal figure in the walnut stock, I pulled the trigger (pardon the pun).   The finish on a standard Springfield Armory M1A is crude (it’s a single coat of boiled linseed oil on a not-very-smoothly-finished stock).   But the figure in this particular rifle’s stock indicated the wood had potential and I bought it.  I went to work applying multiple coats of TruOil (one hand-rubbed coat each night, just like we used to do in the Army).   It turned out well.

So, to the point of this story, my M1A was the second rifle I brought with me on my recent Garand day at the range…

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A modern M1A, the civilian version of the M14, which was the successor to the M1 Garand

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10 coats of hand-rubbed TruOil and the M1A’s horizontal stripes stand out

The thing about both of the above rifles is they shoot big cartridges.   Both the Garand’s .30 06 and the M14’s 7.62 NATO have serious recoil and muzzle blast.   Again, American inventiveness to the rescue:  Enter another mechanical genius and business leader extraordinaire, Bill Ruger.

Ruger developed what is essentially a scaled-down version of the M14 (with minor changes to the operating concept) chambered for the 5.56 NATO cartridge (which is essentially the .223 Remington round).  That’s the same cartridge used in the M16.  It fires a much smaller bullet than either the M14 or the M1, and the recoil and muzzle blast are substantially lower.

Ruger called his Garand-based rifle the Mini 14 (it was, after all, a mini version of the M14).   It came on the market in the early 1970s and it was an instant hit.  I’ve owned several Mini 14s (and fired several more) over the last 5 decades, and I love the things.   They are not the most accurate rifles out there, but they are accurate enough and they are fun to shoot.

So, off the history lesson and back to the story:  My Mini 14 was the third rifle I had with me on my recent (and grand) Garand day at the range…

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A Ruger Mini 14 with a muzzle brake and a Circassian walnut stock

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Not the world’s most accurate rifle, but accurate enough

The Mini 14 never made it into the US military, but it has been picked up by many police agencies (including our own San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, one of the best there is), the French military, and the militaries of a few other countries.   I believe that if Ruger had come to market with the Mini 14 a few years earlier, it might have become our standard infantry rifle instead of the M16 (and that would have been fine by me).

I’ve fired thousands and thousands of rounds through my Mini 14, and it is the cartridge I reload the most frequently.   The small .223 bullets are inexpensive, and reloading the cartridge is as much fun as shooting the rifle.  It’s the rifle I shoot the most.   One of these days I suppose I’ll wear out the barrel, but I’m not worried about that.  I’ll just have a new one installed and get another zillion rounds out of it.

Well, it’s approaching 6:00 a.m. over here on the other side of the world, and that means the breakfast buffet in this fine 5-star Singaporean hotel is about to open.  Yep, I’ve been up for several hours due to the 15-hour time difference, and that explains the lengthy blog today.   Watch for more (a lot more) when I get to Chongqing.   I’ll switch back to writing about motorcycles and it’s going to be exciting stuff.  I can’t wait.

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Singapore street scenes…

Just a few…it’s late afternoon, it’s humid, I had a quick nap, and I thought I’d get out for a bit with the Nikon.  I’ll probably get out later in the evening to try a few night shots, too…look for those in another day or two.

Scenes directly in front of the hotel…

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And hey, guess what rolled by while I was snapping away…

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This particular Zongshen is the RS3 (like the one I rode in the Colombian Andes).   It’s carbureted instead of the fuel injection we have in the US, and the importer goes by the initials KTN.

Hmmm, KTN.   While I was pondering the significance of those initials, I spotted this pizza delivery bike…

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KTN, KTM…what’s one initial?

I walked around a bit more and, son of a gun, I could have sworn I saw Kathy Griffin shopping in this store…

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The owner told me she wanted it with a handle and asked if he could splash some red on it.  Well, not really.  Maybe I’m not being so nice.   Nah, she’s got it coming, although I have to admit until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of Kathy Griffin.  Dumb like a fox, she is.   There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Just a few more…

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Singapore is an interesting city.  It’s a wealthy area (I saw lots of Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Lambos, BMWs, Mercedes, and other high end cars on my short walk this afternoon).  The place is humid, and as you might imagine, it’s very green.  From my quick survey, it’s about a third Asian, a third Caucasian, and a third Indian.   There’s a real mix of foods over here, too, including the big US chain restaurants (Starbucks, Burger King, Black Angus, and more), middle eastern eateries, and all kinds of Asian foods (I didn’t see any chop sticks, though…they mostly use forks and knives here).  There’s a cool street stand just up the road from my hotel, and whenever I’m in town I get a chicken wrap with hummus (it’s what I had this afternoon and it was as good as I remembered it).

Two days here, and then it’s on to Chongqing (via Beijing).   It will be good to see the folks from Zongshen again.  I’m eager to get some seat time on their new models, and you’ll get to read about it right here.

Stay tuned.

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The Singapore Sling…

13 1/2 hours on a flight from LAX to Beijing, 6 hours in the Beijing airport, and another 6 1/2 hours on a flight from Beijing, and I’m here in Singapore (and surprisingly, I’m not very tired).   We landed at 6:15 a.m., I just had a great breakfast in the hotel restaurant (the biggest challenge staying in these 5-star hotels is not overeating), and I am going to get out for a walk later today and grab a few photos.  I love Singapore.  I’m here for two days, and then it’s another full day of travel to Chongqing for meetings with the Zongshen crew.   I’m looking forward to seeing Hugo and Sean, a couple of great guys from the 5000-mile Western America Adventure Ride and the 6000-mile Riding China adventure.

Good buddy Hugo surveying the Columbia River Gorge on the Western America Adventure Ride.

Good buddy Sean during his directorial debut near Liqian, China.

Stay tuned; more to follow.

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A Johnny Pag DUI bike…

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When I first became associated with CSC about 8 years ago, we had just started building the CSC 150 Mustang replica.   We had the usual cast of morons pounding us online for making such a small bike (“Ah need at least a 12 hunnert”), but I noticed a curious thing.   We were getting a lot of phone calls asking us if we made a 50cc bike.   One of the calls put it in perspective for me when the guy on the other end of the line asked if we had a DUI bike.

“A DUI bike?” I said.  “What’s that?”

Well, as it turns out, apparently there are states in the US in which you don’t need a license to ride a motorcycle that’s 50cc or less, and if you’ve lost you’re driver’s license as a result of a DUI conviction, you can still get around on a 50cc bike.  The bottom line is that there is a market for a 50cc bike in the US, and because of that, there are some interesting 50cc bikes out there.

Anyway, we have an interesting bike on the showroom floor right now.  It’s a 2003 Johnny Pag 49cc number that’s styled like a chopper, and it is pretty cool.  The finish is impressive (as you can see in the photos on this blog), and the engine caught my eye, too.  It’s a clone of the old Honda OHC engine that has seen duty in displacements ranging from 49cc on up to 110cc…

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I had three Hondas with that same basic engine…a 50cc Cub, a Super 90, and an SL90.   There are companies all over Asia producing clones of these little OHC singles, and no doubt I’ll see quite a few of them next week.   Speaking of which, I suppose I better start packing.  I’m wheels up in just a few days, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing my friends in Chongqing again.

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A man, a motorcycle, and America…

Well, it was five men, and it wasn’t all of America.  It was just one of the best roads in America, the world famous Angeles Crest Highway!

So I’m retired now, but I’m busier than ever. My son-in-law told me I’m already failing at being retired, and maybe he’s right.  I’m sure having fun, though.  Like today, for instance.  It’s the first Saturday of the month, and you know what that means:  It’s our monthly CSC company ride.

Glorious day, today was, and I was up super early in anticipation of the good times I knew I would have this fine Saturday.  Not that I needed to be up early, but I turned the alarm clock on last night and I forgot that I had set it to 4:00 a.m. for a flight I needed to make last week.  Gotta remember to change that.  Anyway, the alarm worked, and I was up like a bolt of lightning at 4:00 a.m.  I could have gone back to sleep, but hey, I was up and I wasn’t going to let the day go to waste.   I had a quick cup of coffee and a quick read of the newspapers (will they ever get tired of bashing President Trump?), I did a quick once-over of my RX3, and then I had a relaxed ride in on the 210 freeway.

My RX3 is running great and it was an easy lope into Azusa.   My ride was smooth as glass.  There was no traffic and I love early morning rides.  I had told everybody to arrive for our ride with a full tank and that meant I had to do the same, so I stopped at the Shell station around the corner from CSC.  Just for giggles I checked my fuel economy…

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You know, I’ve always maintained that the RX3 returns better than 70 mpg.  That’s still the case with mine. I’m at about 15,000 miles on my RX3 now.  We sometimes see posts from folks who aren’t getting the same mileage as I do, but folks, I’m not making this up.  I ride in a pretty relaxed manner, and I guess my riding style optimizes fuel economy.  I tend to shift at moderate engine speeds and when I accelerate I’m not trying to win a drag race.   I weigh about 180 and I don’t have a lot of extra stuff hanging off my bike (other than the stock luggage, guards, windshield, etc.).  I keep my tires inflated to the proper pressure and the air cleaner clean, I keep the valves in spec, I keep the chain adjusted and lubed, and I don’t overfill the crankcase with oil (which we sometimes see when bikes come in for service).   All of these things will affect your fuel economy.

Anyway, back to the ride today. Steve always brings donuts in on Saturday, and today was no exception…

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Ah, decisions, decisions.  I went with the coconut one and I had another cup of coffee, but I only ate half of the donut.   I don’t want to hurt my RX3’s fuel economy,  you know.

We had a good crew show up for the ride today, and we left at 9:00 a.m. for the Crest.  The weather was perfect, the roads were clear, and the scenery along the Crest was simply stunning (as it always is).   Much to my great surprise and delight, as we rolled into the parking lot at Newcomb’s, I saw my good friend Arlene.  Wow, talk about happy coincidences!

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Arlene is the CEO of Go Go Gear, and she told me business is great.  That’s awesome.   You may remember Arlene from some of our other adventures, not the least of which was our round trip to Cabo San Lucas on the CSC 150 scooters a few years ago.   Here’s one of my favorite photos from that trip…

I shot that photo right at the edge of the Sea of Cortez in Santa Rosalia.  Good times.

Okay, back to the present…we had a great breakfast at Newcomb’s Ranch this morning.   Good times, good riding, good friends, good food, and great conversation.  I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.

Here’s a shot of Duane and Peter in the restaurant…

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One of the best parts of any motorcycle ride is the conversation at meals like this one, and the food was great, too.  I normally get a couple of eggs with extra crispy bacon (man, that sounds good just typing it), but I went healthy and had a granola yogurt with fresh fruit (and it was awesome).   Our conversation centered on cameras, videos, the Internet forums, the media, politics, President Trump, and all the usual stuff motorcycle guys talk about.   We all agreed the country is going to hell in a hand basket (but hey, that conclusion has spanned my entire 50-year riding career), and that the news media has degenerated into a huge propaganda machine (pick your politics, and then watch the news and read the papers that pander to your position).  The joke is that if Trump walked on water, tomorrow’s LA Times headline would be “Trump Can’t Swim.”  I told the guys the real problem is this:  All the guys who really know how to run the country are out riding their motorcycles.  That got a good laugh and we left to continue our ride.

As we were leaving the restaurant, I stopped to chat with a guy who looked even older than me (which I guess is still possible) and I asked him if he came up to Newcomb’s on a motorcycle.   Nope, he said…he drove up to Newcomb’s in his Ferrari.  A Ferrari.  Wow.  I told him about my RX3, and that brand new it cost less than 1% of what his Ferrari cost (and I didn’t think he was having a hundred times as much fun as I was).  It was good for another laugh.

We posed for a few more photos in the parking lot…

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I wore my Nikon around my neck for the ride to Wrightwood, and as we left the parking lot I spotted the Ferrari the old-timer told me about earlier, along with two more matching Italian stallions…

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I don’t know.  A Ferrari.   I just don’t think you can trust anything made in Italy.   I heard they use kids for slave labor and chain them to the production equipment.  And I heard those Italians are currency manipulators who just copy other people’s designs.

Nah, all kidding aside, I think Ferraris are beautiful.  I’m just having a little fun with my comments, you know, pretending I’m posting on an Internet forum about, well, never mind.  I left out the intermittent capitalized words and the emojis so you know I’m not being serious.  You know what I’m describing:  It’s the apparent inverse correlation between intellect, and how frequently Internet trolls use capital letters and emojis.

So, back to the Ferraris:  There’s a ton of cash sitting in those three cars (my guess is well over a million bucks), and they are indeed beautiful.  If I had a Ferrari, it would be red.   Like orange on an RX3, red on a Ferrari would make it faster.

Riding the Crest from Newcomb’s to Wrightwood was again amazing, and Lone Pine Canyon from Wrightwood back down to the Cajon Pass was similarly awesome…

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We went through a couple of tunnels in quick succession, too…

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It was weird, as I couldn’t remember a tunnel on the Crest from my previous rides.   I don’t like tunnels.  When I rode across China last summer, we went though a lot of tunnels, and the tunnels were long (as in 10 to 20 miles long).    Here’s a shot of one of probably more than 200 tunnels we rode through on that epic trek across the Ancient Kingdom…

The China ride was cool, but I sure felt uncomfortable in those tunnels that seemed to go on forever.  You can read all about it in Riding China.   And you know what?  I’m going to be back with the guys in Chongqing in a few more days (more proof, I guess, that I’m not very good at the retirement thing).  I’m really looking forward to seeing my Zongshen buddies and talking about the new models we have coming down the pike (and yes, that’s “models” with an “s”).

At the end of Lone Pine Canyon, there’s this really cool rock formation on the other side of Highway 138…

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The area is called Mormon Rocks.  They used to film old Western movies out here.  Cool stuff.

We made one last stop, and I grabbed two more photos.  One is of Duane and Steve…

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And the other is after I filled my tank again…

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Good times, folks.  You have to ride with us on the next CSC ride.  It will be the 1st Saturday in July, which my calendar says is 1 July!  I hope to see you then!

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An SL 125!

We get interesting and classy bikes in Gerry’s service department.   Check out this 1970 SL 125 Honda that came in a few days ago…

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I have a soft spot for the late-60’s/early-70’s Honda SL bikes.  I bought one of the very first, a Honda SL 90.  It used the horizontal single-cylinder OHC Honda 90cc engine, it was a magnificent candy apple red, and it was a fabulous motorcycle.  I bought it before I had a driver’s license and I went all over on that thing.  We had a lot of trails and dirt roads where I grew up and I knew every one of them.  Later on, my cousin Don bought a gold SL 350 (powered by Honda’s twin 350cc engine) and it was another fabulous bike.  I’d like to own any of those bikes.   My first thought when I saw the SL 125 above was that it might be a trade-in or a consignment bike, but alas, it’s not for sale.   The lucky owner had a simple request for Gerry:   Get it running.   Gerry’s certainly the guy to do it.

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Hey, don’t forget!

Our company ride is this Saturday (weather permitting, of course).  We’re rolling up to Newcomb’s Ranch on the world famous Angeles Crest Highway.  You can sign up for the ride on our Meetup.com page.

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