The slow road back to normality

20150313_bigWhere to start …. ‘wow, what a week’ … doesn’t quite seem to cut it really! :-) I guess it’s fair to say we were in a bit of a state of shock on the Friday/Saturday following the evacuation notice/snow-storm and then of course, having no electricity, phone/Internet just put the icing on the cake. We began packing but were so distracted by inner thoughts that we seemed to have no direction or purpose – stuffing all manner of things in bags willy-nilly. Honestly, looking back now I think it was more like Shaun of the Dead meets Supermarket Sweep! The word on the grapevine was that power would be anything up to a month as so much of the infrastructure is down. In the end the region has poured in loads of industrial generators to power groups of homes – ours went online at 18:30 Wednesday evening, so that’s at least 6-8 happy families in our neck of the woods!

Today we took a drive out in the sunshine and popped in to the machine shop to see if Gabriele could knock up a part for the Capo – ready tomorrow afternoon he shouted cheerily over the generator running full tilt outside the workshop door. You can’t keep a good workshop closed for long! On the way we saw first-hand more evidence of the damage to trees, power and telecom lines, and also the speed the system gears up to get services back on line – generators being installed or chugging away merrily on a street corner, a fleet of trucks loaded with new poles heading inland, cherry pickers and workers buzzing around pylons and substations.

The word in the media seems to suggest that this was the worst the region had experienced since the 1950/60’s and that two villages 40 minutes drive south of us may have broken the world record for snowfall ….. over 100 inches (2.5m) in 18 hours, apparently that’s more snow than Boston had in Jan/Feb! Here’s a couple of links:-

http://www.meteoweb.eu (Italian)

http://www.weather.com (USA)


And finally …………..

Unfortunately these kind of events have a knock on effect ………… and that means for the forseeable future there will no longer be any Caponord/Futura dashboard repairs until life returns to some semblance of normality, sorry folks.

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Abruzzo a region on its knees

A quick update and a heart-felt thank you from Jan and I for the kind messages of support. The storm destroyed our road, half a valley, felled power and telecom lines and ruined about 20% of our Olive trees. On the bright side the house and barn are fine!

The evacuation order will only be lifted when the road is repaired …… and that I fear will be well in excess of the one month they told us. Looking at the damage, it will be more like 6 months……so we are now looking at our options.

First we have to obey the evacuation order and leave, second I have to somehow extract the Capo. If the weather holds I may be able to ride over the other side of the valley (thank God I hadn’t swapped out the Karoo 3’s for the Anakee 3’s!) ….. if that’s not possible then more drastic measures will be called for because she sure as hell isn’t staying there!

As a neigbouring farmer said yesterday “Abruzzo e stato massacrato” ……. Abruzzo has been massacred. Said it all really ……..

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End of the Road?

Abruzzo landslide March 2015 - road closedWe’ve had a bit of a rough start to 2015 in the Abruzzo region, well actually that’s not true ….. it goes back to the tail end of 2013! That’s when we had the first of the terrain-changing rain and snow fall. The following months seemed to fair no better, with higher than average rainfall throughout 2014, so much so that the Olive fruit fly thrived in the humid conditions and the Olive harvest crashed into a national disaster. We all so wanted 2015 to fair better ……

…… alas that hasn’t been the case. More rain and snow has seen numerous landslides throughout the region – our own road included. Only a few kilometers away in Civitella Casanova 45 people have been evacuated and homes destroyed because of land slippage. Roads are closed all over the region and teams of specialists have been drafted in by the authorities to help deal with the situation.

But it seems life has one more kick up the arse for us ……. yesterday was sunny, almost 20c with a light breeze. Today is 2c with heavy snow and winds forecast to possibly top 100Km/Hr Abruzzo landslide March 2015and it will last 48hrs, with another 48hrs of rain following on. Of course that’s only the start of it, any extra damage will be slow and insidious over the following weeks as the already saturated land tries to absorb the extra water ….. my gut feeling is that it won’t cope, it’s already at capacity and that can only lead to more landslides.

Valentino RossiMelodramatic? Maybe. But two weeks ago we were told that the authorities were considering re-locating use. We got a reprieve because we have no kids or elderly here, nor do we require regular medical attention plus none of the damage was within a few hundred meters of our home.

I have to say, we’ve had better weeks. But then out of the blue, life has a way of throwing you a bone, a little something to bring a smile to your face. In this case a snappy supplement cover of ‘Saint Valentino’! Reading that mag over a hot brew and suddenly things don’t look so rough ………

 UPDATE

Seconds after hitting the ‘publish’ button the phone rang ….. guess what, they were serving an evacuation notice on us in the middle of a raging snowstorm. I honestly can’t think when Jan and last felt so low ….. me, I just want the Capo out of here …. and us with it.

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Auel Wax Fix soft ….. bye bye bug splat!

Take that Spongebob!In the flush of youth I was the same as most fledgling bikers I guess, spending endless hours cleaning my bike with mates over a cold beer and loud music  ….. of course all that changed when riding a bike became a job five or six days a week. Washing the bike turned into a chore, something to be endured not enjoyed through endless ice-cold winter weeks, honed into a slick process to illicit the most benefit from the least input.

A working bike, one you put food on the table with ….. has to be as reliable and resistant to the degradation by the elements as is possible. To that end I’ve lived by the mantra of checking a bike over daily ….. battery, bearings, chain, electrics, suspension, steering, tyres  etc …. there are numerous mnemonics kicking around to work with. Washing the bike was just as much a way of helping do those checks as it was presenting a clean bike to the world at large and sailing under the radar of bored Metropolitan Police officers, whose sole existence appeared to center around the idea that any dirty motorbike was undoubtably an illegal one.

Yes it’s fair to say that cleaning a bike for me has long since lost any interest, it is simply a means to an end …. jetwash the main muck (avoid bearings and seals), hose pipe and Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid & Auel Wax Fix softbucket of sudsy-wudsy car shampoo and rinse off. Air line some bits and chamois the others ….. then coat liberally with ACF50, either sprayed directly or wiped on with a soft clean cloth. Total time, less than 30 mins or I’m slacking. This method has stood me in good stead for many a year – and let’s face it, snake-oil cleaners come and go, just like gimmicky brushes or wonder sponges.

That of course was until Manuel from Motrag stuck his oar in! He’s tried for ages to convince me about this amazing product he uses – in fact he says he hasn’t actually washed his bike since Moses was a little boy. Instead he uses ‘Auel Wax Fix Soft’ – wipe on, wipe off ( no silly Karate Kid impersonations please)….. and when he recently sent some dashboards for repair, he snuck a can in the box to try out. Hmmmmmm.

So yesterday, I took a notion into my old numb-skull to give it a go on the Capo windscreen. Spray on, wait 30 seconds, wipe off ….and …………….. JEEZ! This stuff actually works!!!

Residual bug splat going back years just wiped away – over 95% of it. The other 5% just took a second spray/wipe. So out came the hex-key, off with the windscreen and I did the inside as well, no smears, no waxy (forget the misleading name on the can) residue, noAprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid windscreen apparent static build up either. Just one unbelievably clean windscreen, so much so, that I can see the stone chip damage that once hid among all manner of splattered bug guts. Afterwards I tried it on mirrors, hand guards and panniers …. anywhere buggy-bits accumulate. excellent results every time.

Manuel tells me he’s been using this stuff since 1996 and I can see why. No, it won’t re-write how I clean my bike, but I think an extra 5 minutes tagged on using Wax Fix isn’t going to break the time-bank either. The downside seems to be getting hold of it ….. Ebay has a couple of suppliers (approx €10-€13 a can) – not cheap, but Manuel says a can does go a long way when you get used to using it. Hopefully he’ll be able to supply it through Motrag in the future.

Meanwhile all these smooth and polished surfaces must be worth an extra 5mph! :-D

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TuneECU (Android) update to V2.2

TuneECU Andriod app V2.2 - Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Sagem ECUStop the Bus (or your Caponord) and grab yer smartphones again, TuneECU has just been updated to V2.2 ………… worthy of mentioning? Oh Yes! Alaine has addressed the poor connection (cable) AND the screen freezing if you swiped it when logging issue. Now TuneECU connects to the Capo quick as you like, just as it used to. I tried it numerous times and never once had a problem – fantastic! All-in-all a positive step forward …..

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Back in 1921 …………

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid tax disk holder removed after abolition of paper disks on 01/10/2014 by HM Government (UK).While the weather’s been holding up, I decided to wheel the Capo out and give it a wash. As I soaped, sponged and lathered my way down the left hand side something caught my eye and a hollow feeling opened up in the pit of my stomach ……. something broken or rusty? No, worse – the bloody (road) tax needed renewing!

In October 2014 after 93 years or so the tax disk was resigned to history, unlike the annual payment! So I went online, did the deed – and felt like Dick Turpin had just shoved a pair of musket barrels up my nostrils and fleeced every pocket for cash – now we don’t even get a humble little disk to display anymore, just an email acknowledgement that we’ve been rolled by yours truly, HM Government.

So now what do I do with the 6-bolt Über-aerodynamic MotoGP/NASA inspired titanium tax disk holder eh!! :evil: OK, it’s an aluminium carbuncle really, and they’ll be coming to a car-boot sale near you soon enough (by the thousands!). Well I’ve decided to cut the ‘ear’ bit off and use it in the workshop as a coaster for a tea mug! :-D

making a tax disk holder into a coaster

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TuneECU (Android) update to V2.1

TuneECU Andriod app V2.1 - Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Sagem ECUTuneECU app for the Android was updated again  last week to V2.1 – Google store says bug fixes and adding the Ducati 848/1098 & 1198 are the reason. Time then to give it a whirl on the old Capo and see if the experience has improved from last time. So with the sun shining brightly and making the barn a nice cosey sun trap to work in, and the road devoid of the sound of machinery and promised workmen, I rummaged around for the cables charged the phone and set about pulling the seats off.

Bluetooth (ELM327 V1.5)

elm327Connection was the same as before and data is still slow to update – tacho and TPS seem quick enough but the side-stand takes a whopping 5 seconds to change state. Still no side-stand or Fan status indicator like the PC version. The datalog facility worked, but seems to have a bug, more on this later.

Cable (Samsung Note 3)

Connection is now very poor, taking 2, 3 or 4 attempts to get it to connect. Each time I get a flashing red indicator, sometimes going orange then back to red followed by a dialog box telling me to recycle the ignition. The connection worked fine with version 1 and 2 so something has definitely happened in the latest release. Oh and the Samsung was tried with two cables and both cables tried with old faithful – the Asus EEPC901 and they worked just fine with the PC version. Once connected however, the data seems to be displayed quicker than Bluetooth and the connection was stable even when starting the engine.

Datalog

TuneECU app datalog via cable not Bluetooth on Samsung Galaxy Note 3 from Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-RaidGetting this to work took a bit of time, simply because it turns out I have to touch the ‘REC’ icon in the bottom left hand corner of the Diagnostics screen for something like 4 or 5 seconds for it to toggle to orange and begin recording. Once recording I can’t change screens, but if I swipe left or right as though trying to get to ‘Adjustments’ or ‘Map’ then data on the screen freezes and you wonder what the hell is going on …… but the data is still being logged in the background. Swipe in the opposite direction, as though going back to ‘Diagnostics’ and the screen starts working again.

Disconnect from the ECU and ‘Datalog’ now appears at the bottom of the ‘ECU’ drop down menu, click and select the log file to open and a new window opens with the data displayed as a graph. TPS, RPM and Engine Temp are logged, but apparently no way of selecting other data to log other than TuneECU app datalog data file diasplay on Samsung Galaxy Note 3 from an Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raidthese three. The TPS and RPM are a nice distinct line with good contrast to the background, however the Engine Temp is dark blue dots on black background …….. difficult to read clearly in bright light. The data is stored in CSV format so it’s easy to bring the files into your PC and use something like Microsoft Excel to display it. Incidentally the screenshot of a data file on the TuneECU (Google) page shows additional information – Speed / MAP (Manifold Air Pressure) and what looks like gear position …… so there is certainly scope to allow more (bike model specific) information to be logged and displayed.

Conclusion

I so want to like this software. Building in the datalogger is great but in the light of the connection issues and slow performance when in operation, I’m reluctant to use it at the moment preferring to stick to the old PC version and my TuneBoy based datalogger. Of course this is only one persons view with a specific combination of bike/phone, but if others are experiencing the same or similar problems, then maybe addressing these issues to make a solid and robust platform before adding any more new bikes or functionality would be the way forward …… just my six cents worth. Let’s see what V3 brings.

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The Fissure King

Civitaquana, Abruzzo - Cda di Ginestre road (strada) subsidance & landslideWhat good is a motorbike or a car for that matter, if you don’t have a road to run along?

About 10 days ago Jan and I went to do the weekly shopping and I must admit I was already starting to get a little nervous about movement within the road – In one particular place the Range Rover was beginning to bottom out bodywork even when on its highest suspension settings and the traction control was starting to make itself useful when hauling us up the slope.

The next evening after walking the dogs and eyeing the recent movement and ever bigger crack in the adjacent field, I felt very uneasy …..

….. with the dogs tucked up for the night I grabbed the keys and decided to move the car beyond the bad section. In the end it took 3 attempts to clear it, but the good old Rangey did brilliantly with the traction control working overtime as it clawed its way over. That was it then – no going back. Life would be different for the forseeable future for sure.

That was over a week ago ….. since then the land has moved something like 2m down and 3m sideways with more cracks and fissures appearing across its width, soon the road will have separated completely with a section about 30m long moving inevitably down into the valley below.

The reality of our predicament is sinking in …. moving anything, shopping, gas cylinders, rubbish bags etc has to be carefully thought through. Each item has to be carried by hand over ankle-breaking terrain up (or down depending on which way you’re going!) a 200m stretch of steep road that is changing every 24hrs.

The fact is, this road doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the Comune (Council) and as such they have responsibility over it. It’s not like this problem is new either, in fact we were promised it would be repaired and resurfaced throughout 2014, it wasn’t and now the problem is a magnitude worse. Unfortunately all I can say is we’re disheartened by the lack of response to our emails and phone calls for assistance over the past week.

So until something spectacular happens it gives me time to dream up new and novel ways to free the Capo from its incarceration …… zip wire over the valley, kids balloons tied together (I’ve seen ‘UP’) or turn it into an X-2 Skycycle and fly the bugger out!

Anyway until then, chin up ….. and do what Brits do best in a crisis

KEEP CALM AND DRINK MORE TEA!

 

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ACIM VII 2015 update

ACIM VII 2015 Aprilia Caponord International Meeting - Nafplio (Greece)A quick ACIM VII 2015 update – In my original post I said it will be held at Argos (Greece). Well Trikkas (Iania) kindly pointed out my mistake – it is actually being held in Nafplio Argolida about 12Km south from Argos. Yes folks bring yer buckets and spades ….. we’re going to be by the seaside!! :-D

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Stuff …. 6 months and 12 months on

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboard - new right-hand indicator repeater!A couple of anniversaries this week ….. firstly the dashboard. Yes a full 12 months since it was finished and put back into the Capo for the last time, resplendent with its new inlay to complement the electronic changes. The auto-dimming back lighting and split indicator repeaters have been absolute winners – I couldn’t go back to a standard board again without missing them. Moving the side-stand and low-fuel lights toAprilia Caponord ETV1000 & Rally-Raid Voltmeter and re-located side-stand light on dashboard accommodate the twin indicator repeaters has had no impact, positive or negative. The voltmeter has been a different kettle of fish …. generally unused as the Sparkbight battery monitor handles voltage feedback when riding around – however it has proved a real benefit during start-up when the dashboard goes through its self-test phase. Now it’s become second nature to eye-ball the tacho needle to see what the battery voltage is pre-start. >12.6v and I know I should get a good kick from the battery!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 & Rally-Raid MCCruise controlThe second anniversary, although shorter at 6 months and a tad over 11K miles, is the MCCruise cruise control. After a rushed install (not clever) I knew I had a heavier throttle than pre-installation ….. this was purely down to throttle cable routing and nothing to do with the cruise control itself. It simply didn’t like being re-routed behind the radiator, so I gave up and relocated the CIU (cable interface unit) to a new location by the throttle bodies. Now everything works fine – a light throttle and a happy cruise control. It’s been 100% Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 & Rally-Raid New MCCruise CIU locationreliable and functional. As a demonstration of its finesse I ran the bike in 1st gear at 25mph and let the cruise control take over the (100 horsepower!) throttle – all I can say is WOW! I would never have believed that the system could have the sensitivity to operate the throttle with such precision, but it did – up hill, down dale – never an ounce of jerkiness. Ok I admit no one wants to ride around in 1st gear …. but as an experiment, it proved to me that MCCruise have indeed developed an absolutely fantastic piece of kit.

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