Saturday, May 19, 2018

Across America on a Janus Motorcycle

This post was originally published on the George A. Wyman Memorial Project blog:

A virtual interview with Richard Worsham, co-founder of Janus Motorcycles,
conducted by Tim Masterson, project manager for the G.A. Wyman Memorial Project.

Tim Masterson and Richard Worsham pose in front of the George Wyman Waypoint at Janus Motorcycles in Goshen, Indiana

Tim: We are pleased to have Janus Motorcycles join the 2018 - Wyman Memorial Challenge, 'Rendezvous'.

    Richard Worsham, co-founder of company will be riding the Janus Halcyon 250 from San Francisco to New York City. The Halcyon, a single cylinder, 229cc, 14 horsepower, 5-speed motorcycle is built at the Janus facilities in Goshen, Indiana. Janus Motorcycles is the hosting authority for the Wyman waypoint in Goshen.

    Richard has been busy planning his ride and running the company! Please welcome to this brave rider to the long-distance motorcycling community.

Tim: Richard, what were you thinking when you signed up on Ride Master for the 2018 'Rendezvous'?

Richard: I am an avid daily rider, but the mileage we will be putting down each day equals my longest ever day in the saddle. There is definitely some well-found nervousness on my part with the mileage, but I believe that has more to do with my own condition than that of the bike! That said, I and the rest of the Janus team are delighted to participate in an event celebrating George Wyman, an undoubted connoisseur of small-displacement motorcycles and a pioneer of long distance riding. We are very excited to continue his story.

Tim: Being the co-founder of Janus, you are obviously passionate about riding. How did you start out in the sport?

Richard: My introduction to two-wheels started with a fascination with vintage pedal-type mopeds. I appreciated the aesthetics and design of these scaled-down motorcycles, the do-it-yourself mentality, and the humor of the small, unreliable, two strokes. Most importantly, I loved the feeling of openness and lightness of these small bikes.

Tim: How did Janus Motorcycles come to be one of just a handful of American motorcycle manufacturers?

Richard: While in school, I started visiting and working over the summer in my friend's vintage moped repair shop. After several years exploring what we could do with mopeds, we had the idea to create our own bike, the way we wanted it, from scratch. That first one-off moped turned into the idea for a production motorcycle and we founded Janus Motorcycles.

    Our design brief was simple: create a lightweight, small-displacement motorcycle that didn't look like all the other plastic covered bikes on the road. We wanted something that looked both to the past and the future, with classic styling, handmade quality, and at the same time modern technology and components. Six years later, with three models under our belt and a growing customer base, we continue to find satisfaction in our lightweight, small displacement motorcycles. We have seven full-time employees and currently produce around 4 road-legal, EPA compliant motorcycles a week.

Tim: That's interesting. Do you see a connection between Wyman's journey and Janus Motorcycles?

Richard: It was 115 years ago when George rode his 200cc California motorcycle through our hometown of Goshen, Indiana, within a block of where Janus Motorcycles are currently built. Though his bike was different in design and performance from our production models, it was essentially the same thing that we create today: a small engine strapped between two wheels.

Tim: To me, the Halcyon seems to be the Janus most suited to a long distance ride. Are you doing any special modifications to get ready for the trip? 

Richard with the Halcyon 250 (JM 068) upon which he plans to ride across America
Richard: Yes, the Halcyon is certainly the best Janus
model for long distance riding. The Janus team and I have been going over the Halcyon I will be riding and making sure it will perform as designed. This will be my first long distance ride and the first attempt at crossing the country on a Janus. We are keeping the bike as close to stock as possible in order to be able to use these miles to prove our production models. Our model line is designed for urban commuting, short excursions, and weekend trips, not necessarily long highway miles!
    In order to equip the Halcyon for this cross country trip we are making some minor changes that relate to the sustained cruising speeds that will be required on a long distance trip such as this, increased fuel range, and rider comfort. To help with the sustained highway speeds, we are re-gearing the bike for lower rpms and higher speed in 5th gear which should also help with fuel range. The fuel range of the Halcyon is a little over 120 miles which for most portions of the route will be more than enough. After learning that Wyman carried an auxiliary fuel tank from San Francisco to Omaha, we decided to fabricate a custom mount for a Rotopax fuel canister that will sit above the rear fender just like on Wyman’s California bike. We have also fitted the bike with a set of aluminum panniers on a custom rear rack that will carry my daily gear and equipment for the ride.

Tim: How about riding gear and other equipment? Will you be using a GPS?

Richard: I will be using my regular riding gear and a full face dual-sport helmet. I have purchased a separate rain suit to use over my riding gear. My helmet will be outfitted with a Sena bluetooth headset paired to my iPhone. I have mounted the iPhone in a waterproof Ram case on the handlebars and will be using it for navigation to the Wyman waypoints. The GPX file you provided for the Grand Tour loaded perfectly.

    I have also signed up for a SpotWalla account so all our Janus customers, friends, and neighbors can follow along in real time as I ride across country. I followed your advice and reached out to Mario Winkelman of LDComfort. What a great character! He's setting me up with a full set of his gear including shirt, tights, helmet liner, and off the bike gear. Thanks very much for the recommendation and introduction. I am really feeling like I have the best leg up to make this ride a success. I had no idea the LD community was so well developed and the more I get into this 'Long-Distance' riding, the more I like it!

Tim: Well, I feel confident that the entire long-distance riding and motorcycle touring communities will be following your epic journey 'Across America on a Janus Motorcycle,' with great interest.

Tim: Richard, I want to thank you for joining the 2018 - Wyman Memorial Challenge, 'Rendezvous'event. We are excited Janus has selected the 'Rendezvous' to showcase the Halcyon 250.

Richard: I'm getting every excited for the trip! And, looking forward to getting to know the other riders, as we 'Rendezvous' along the way.

You are invited to follow along with all the Wyman 'Rendezvous' riders on their webpage:

'Across America on Motorcycles' - 2018 Wyman Memorial Grand Tour
May 26 - June 2

Friday, April 27, 2018

"With the help of the California Motor Company and Goodman publishing, Wyman was finalizing preparations for his epic motor-cycle ride across America.  It is likely this two sentence news clipping was the first public notice of Wyman's attempt.  It would be the beginning of publicity designed to launch The Goodman Company's new periodical, "The Motorcycle Magazine."

"Across America on a Janus Motorcycle"
"We are pleased to announce Janus Motorcycles  will join the 2018 - Wyman Memorial Challenge, 'Rendezvous.'  115 years after Wyman's historic 1903 journey, on single cylinder, 200cc motorcycle, Janus Motorcycles is paying tribute to the Wyman legacy by duplicating this challenging ride on their top-of-the-line Halcyon 250.  Janus and riders from around the country will 'Rendezvous' in the San Francisco Bay Area on Memorial Day weekend.  The Grand Tour begins Monday, May 28 and runs through Saturday, June 2, 2018.

"Richard Worsham, co-founder of the company will be riding the Janus Halcyon 250 from San Francisco to New York City.  The Janus Halcyon, single cylinder, 229cc, 14 horse power, 5-speed motorcycle is built in Goshen, Indiana.  Janus Motorcycles is the hosting authority for the 624.3 Goshen Wyman waypoint.

"Since the California Gold Rush days, the distance between San Francisco and New York City set the standard for cross continent travel.  The completion of the transcontinental railway shortened a grueling eight week wagon journey to a relatively comfortable 83 hour express train ride

Iron Butt Magazine, Spring 2013
"Wyman's 50 day motorized journey from San Francisco to New York City represented the next step in the technology of personal transcontinental travel.  Today, on modern motorcycles, members of the Iron Butt Association pay tribute to Wyman's legacy, making the San Francisco to New York City ride in under 50 hours." 

George A. Wyman...
"World's Toughest Motorcycle Rider, circa 1903"

Monday, April 16, 2018

Janus Fork Top Plate Machining

A short video showing the highlights of the machining process for the Janus Motorcycles fork top plate.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Very Short Guide to Places to Not Miss in Rome

This short guide was originally written 01/05/2017 for friends planning a week long trip to Rome. 

Se non è vero, è ben trovato!

There is so much to see and do in Rome that it is with great difficulty and some remorse that I have compiled this small and abridged version of the city. I have excluded most of the palazzi, many of the museums, all but one or two of the restaurants, and of course countless churches and ancient buildings, temples, and monuments. To really experience and begin to comprehend and grow familiar with the city, at least 2-3 months is required, and that is not nearly enough. Nevertheless, those opportunities are rare and the brief span of one or two weeks is the usual allotment for the visitor to Rome. Therefore, I have divided this brief guide into sections that are in the same vicinity and that could be completed in a sequence. That sequence may, and probably should, take more than a single day. Some points I would recommend over others if you have a limited amount of time. Each little snippet about the site should be augmented with further reading. My recommendation is H. V. Morton’s "A Traveler In Rome” and James H. S. McGregor’s “Rome From the Ground Up”, to begin with. I have tried to balance the selection to represent the entire history of the city, however, there is certainly a heavy emphasis on churches which should not be surprising—this is Rome after all. I am also partial to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. 

Piazza Navona - This makes a great place to begin a tour of the city. It is the site of the ancient Stadium of Domitian where many christians were martyred. The current Renaissance buildings surrounding the piazza are constructed on the foundations of the stadium. It is a very theatrical space and has been the location of many processions, markets, celebrations, etc. for two millennia. Two things to make sure to see are the Fontana dei Quattro Fiume, or Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini. This is a masterpiece of sculpture and allegory. Legend has it that the hand of of the Nile river god is held up to shield his eyes from Borromini’s church of Sant’ Agnese in Agone in front of which the fountain stands. The church of Sant’ Agnese is built to honor Saint Agnes who was martyred in the Stadium of Domitian. The church is an incredible example of Borromini’s skill and mastery of surface and space. 
Santa Maria della Pace - This is one of my favorite churches and piazza’s ever. With a marvelous theatrical facade by Pietro da Cortona (primarily a painter), this church takes an irregular piazza and perfectly regularizes it through the use of the classical orders (and a lot of invention). The interior of the church and the cloister are also worth seeing.  
San Agostino - This church is an example of early Renaissance architecture designed by Giacomo di Pietrasanta and Baccio Pontelli in the late 15th century. The church is home to many great works of art including my favorite Caravaggio (The Madonna di Loreto, or Pilgrim’s Madonna) along with works by Raphael, Guercino, and both Sansovinos. Make sure to peak in the Biblioteca Angelica (one of the greatest libraries in the world) located right next door.     
The Pantheon - Go see it. It’s wonderful. Lots to read about it too. 
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - This church has so much to see. It is built on the site of an ancient temple to the goddess Isis (reimagined as Minerva in the Renaissance). Highlights include marvelous frescoes by many of the most famous painters (Fillipino Lippi, Pirro Ligorio, Fra Angelico, etc.) Sculptors and architects of the interior include Giacomo della Porta, Carlo Maderno, etc. Michelangelo’s Christo della Minerva is on the left of the alter. It is also interesting to note that this is the only Gothic church in Rome to survive untouched as such (at least on the interior).
Bar Sant’ Eustachio - This is a great place to get espresso. They have a screen behind which they make their coffee because of the secret techniques. It’s very good. Also a great place to celebrate with a bottle of prosecco, although ask for the price first—I learned this the hard way! 
Sant’ Ignatio - This is one of the greatest baroque churches in Rome, with an incredible rationalized piazza in front that takes more queues from stage design than urbanism. It is the home of the Jesuits and is full of extravagant decoration and wealth. It is most notable for the frescoes of Andrea Pozzo depicting the life and work of Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits. The best part is the fake dome that Pozzo painted in perspective on the ceiling. The attached priory was home to the baroque polymath Athenasius Kircher who you have to read about to believe. He apparently used to make light shows and play aeolian harps out one of the windows of his laboratory to the dismay of passers by and his own order. 
San Andrea della Vale - The setting for the opening act of Puccini's Tosca. Designed by Giacomo della Porta and Carlo Maderno, among others. 
Campo de’ Fiori - Magnificent piazza with a striking 19th century statue of Giordano Bruno who was burned on the spot for heresy. I think lots of people were actually burned here. There is a daily market here which is wonderful, but a bit pricey. Don’t go to the bars around here at night as they are all full of obnoxious American students. 
Palazzo Farnese - By far one of the most important Renaissance palaces in Rome, it belonged to the Farnese family. It was designed in turn by many of the greatest architects and sculptures of a very talented era: Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo, Vignola, and Giacomo della Porta. The interior is lavish. The piazza in front of the palace is decorated with two massive granite basins from the Baths of Caracalla
Ponte Sisto - A beautiful 15th century bridge designed by Baccio Pontelli for Pope Sixtus IV. If you see lots of padlocks attached to the bridge it is because of a silly recent trend made popular in the 2000’s by a vapid young adult romance novel, “I Want You” by Federico Moccia. The fad is to attach "love locks" (padlocks symbolizing a couple’s love), which are in turn periodically cut off and thrown away by the city. The original location for this in the story is the Ponte Milvi, another ancient bridge located a mile upstream. 

Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere - A short walk over the Ponte Sisto will bring you to possibly my favorite place in all of Rome. I think it is a locus of the world as you will often randomly run into people you know here sitting on the steps of the fountain or in one of the surrounding cafes. This is a great neighborhood to return to in the evening for food and drinks. If you do, a great place to eat is “La Cisterna”, a very 1940ish restaurant owned by a wealthy winemaking family. Ask to see the well that is supposed to have provided Walt Disney with the model for the well in Snow White. If you ever have dinner here with a cardinal, the waiter might just give you a bottle or two of prosecco on the way out...
Santa Maria in Trastevere - One of the oldest Christian churches in Rome and according to legend, the first dedicated to Mary. Like many of the other early churches, it is built on the site of a Christian house-church dating to the 2nd or 3rd centuries. Notice the mismatched columns from the nearby Temple of Isis and the Baths of Caracalla. These rescued columns and capitals are called “spoglia”. According to legend, a fount of oil sprang up on the site 30 years before the birth of Christ. The mosaic on the front of the church depicts Mary suckling Christ with ten virgins with lamps of oil. 
Bar San Calisto - My favorite bar in Rome. Looks like nothing during the day, but gets rowdy and fills the whole piazza at night. Also 2 Euro big Peroni’s, although I enjoy sipping sambuca here. Very popular with locals. I am convinced that the narrator of Wilbur’s poem “Lying” is sitting here. I recommend it! 
San Pietro in Montorio - Located on the Janiculum Hill (not one of the proverbial Seven Hills of Rome) with one of the best views of the city. This is a Renaissance church built on the site of 9th century church dedicated to Saint Peter. Due to a misinterpretation, this was thought to be the site of Peter’s crucifixion. Currently, the site of his crucifixion is believed to be near the Vatican on the site of a Roman circus. One of the chapels has a fresco by Peruzzi and the school of Pinturicchio. In the courtyard is the marvelous and iconic Tempietto by Bramante. This is a masterpiece of classical architecture. There is plenty of literature to read about it.  
Fontana dell’ Acqua Paola - This was originally the termination of the Acquaduct of Trajan and served many mills located on the Janiculum. It has been decorated in the Renaissance and also offers a magnificent view of the city.  
Statue of Garibaldi - If you have time this is a fun place to go around 11:45 in the morning. Right below the statue if you look out toward the city is a cannon that is wheeled out every day and fired over the city at noon. Tutto Risurgimento!   
Suppli - Suppli is an iconic Roman street food. There is a little pizza/suppli place on the right side of the street-Via di San Francesco a Ripa, 137. This is the best suppli on earth. Stop on your way to Santa Cecilia and San Francesco
Santa Cecelia in Trastevere - This is an 8th century church heavily redecorated in the 18th century. It is built on the site of a 3rd century church that is built on the remains of a Roman house said to be that of Saint Cecelia. The most remarkable feature of this church is the 16th century sculpture of the martyred Saint Cecelia by Stefano Maderno. It is really worth seeing. There is plenty of literature about the martyrdom of Cecelia and the discovery of her incorrupt remains in the Renaissance.   
San Francesco a Ripa - Interesting church located across the Viale Trastevere. For a small fee you can see the cell/stone where Saint Francis slept when he visited Rome. Make sure to see the exquisite Statue of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni by Bernini
Tiber Island - Full of churches and a wonderful medieval hospital on the site of a temple to Asclepius, the island is shaped like a boat and even has a prow that you can view from the downstream end of the island. It is connected to either bank bike antique stone bridges. 
Ponte Quattro Capi - Originally the Pons Fabricius after it was commissioned by Lucius Fabricius the curator of the roads and bridges of Rome. Connecting the Isola Tibertina with the southeast edge of the Campus Martius (now the site of the Jewish Ghetto) this bridge is the oldest original Roman bridge still in use in Italy. It has been in continuous use for 2078 years. The bridge is named after the four-faced Janus hermes added to the bridge during the Renaissance.

Velabrum & Cloaca Maxima - In the early days of Rome, the seven hills of the city stood out more and the valleys had not yet been filled with refuse and built over. The Velabrum was a major valley running down from the Forum Romanum (the main forum) which is located between the Capitaline and Palatine hills, and at the feet of the Viminal, Quirinal, and Esquiline hills. At one time it was a marshy area at the foot of a stream, but by the time of the Etruscans, it had been channeled into an open sewer. It was gradually enclosed and covered over prior to the Republican period and further enlarged and developed over the next 700 years. It literally means “the greatest sewer” and was used to channel the runoff from streams and most of the major aqueducts, baths and fountains out into the Tiber. The arched outflow can be seen best from the side of the Ponte Palatino, a 19th century bridge. Guided tours of the Cloaca Maxima are available. 
Temple of Portunus - Also known as the Temple of Furtuna Virilis, this is one of the best preserved ancient Roman Temples. The temple was built on the site of an older temple in the first century BC. Not a whole lot is know about the deity to which it was dedicated. Due to its remarkably intact state, and ionic order, it has been often used as a model and heavily influenced the classical tradition in Italy, England, and even here in the United States.  
Temple of Hercules - Located in the Furom Boarium, or cattle market, this is an ancient Roman circular temple about which not a whole lot is known. It was converted to a church in the Renaissance. 
Santa Maria in Cosmedin - La Bocca della Verità is in the portico. This church is also located in the Forum Boarium and is built on the site of a Roman Deaconate or food distribution center. This tradition was carried on through the early church and Renaissance at the church of San Giorgio around the corner near the Arch of Janus! The portico of the church of San Giorgio was blown up in the 1990’s by the mafia as a revenge for Pope JPII’s participation in the more active campaign against them. Santa Maria in Cosmedine is traditionally associated with Greece as it and many of its surrounding buildings are Byzantine and the interior was decorated by many Greek artists fleeing the iconoclasm. It is called “cosmedin” from Greek kosmidion because of the beauty of its interior   
Santa Sabina all’ Aventino - Located at the top of the Aventine Hill, this another of my favorite churches in Rome. This is the first “station church” in the Roman tradition of celebrating mass at certain churches throughout the city during Lent. It is the oldest surviving Roman basilica with original rectangular colonnaded plan. Unfortunately, it has been heavily reworked to return it to its supposed pristine pre-baroque state. This process is called “repristinanzione” in Italian and is in my opinion a terrible sacrilege. Thankfully, it seems to have lost popularity since the 1920’s. The beautiful wooden doors of the basilica are original to the church and date to beginning of the 5th century! They are full of intricate carving. One panel is believed to be the oldest extant representation of the crucifixion. Definitely worth the visit. Behind the church is a wonderful garden of orange trees with a view of the the city and the Tiber Island below. This was the mother church of the Dominican Order prior to its move to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. It is still a Dominican monastery and was once the home of Saint Dominic and Saint Thomas Aquinas who was abbot before he left for France! Apparently, his cell was directly above the door and he would keep strict tally of who entered and left the monastery, and when. 
San Alessio - This is another early basilica from the 3rd century that has had many renovations and additions over the years. Its current baroque exterior is pretty marvelous. The statue of Sant’Alessio under his Holy Steps is what sticks out most in my memory. Be sure to see the icon of the Madonna of Intercession.   
Piazza del Cavalieri di Malta - This is at the end of the street past Santa Sabina and Sant’ Alessio. It is the famous garden through the keyhole of which you can see the dome of Saint Peters perfectly framed. There is no public access to the actual garden. 
Sant Anselmo - This church is located at the very end of this same street. I remember it as a good example of a new church that fits well with its surroundings. I believe it is an active monastery and is the seat of the head of the Benedictine Order.

Campidoglio - There is so much going on here that I can hardly do it any justice. Definitely consult books and guides to make sure you are understanding the history and many sites, artifacts, and stories. A couple of things that I would draw attention to are the piazza itself at the top of the stairs. The piazza, complete with its wonderful geometric pavement and flanking porticoes, is the work of Michelangelo and is possibly one of the greatest works of Renaissance architecture and urbanism. It is here that he came up with the idea of a monolithic order housing a smaller order. The Capitoline Museum is fantastic and should not be missed. The original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius stood here in the open air until the 1980’s when it was taken down for restoration and a replica put in its place. While Michelangelo disagreed with its central location in his newly design piazza, he did design the base on which it stands.  
Tarpeian Rock - At the back of the Capitol, is the Tarpeian Rock where, during the Republic, convicted traitors, etc., where thrown to their deaths. It was made especially famous in America by Nathaniel Hawthorn’s story, “The Marble Fawn”.  
Santa Maria in Aracoeli - Also of note would be Santa Maria in Aracoeli, a medieval church built on the site of a 5th century Byzantine abbey that is in turn said to be built on the site of the Arx, or original citadel of pre-Roman times. Legend has it that the sacred geese in the grounds of the Temple of Juno warned the inhabitants of the citadel of a night attack by the Gauls. The goddess was therefore given the title Juno Moneta (from Latin monere- to warn). This in turn gave its name to “money” which was presided over by the goddess Juno as the mother of the state. It is also said to be the site where the Tibertine Sybil prophesied the coming of Christ to Augustus. Both the sybil and Augustus figure prominently in the artwork of the church. It also houses the Santo Bambino, a small renaissance era wooden devotional image of the baby Jesus. This object has attracted fanatical attention over the last 300 years and was “crowned” by the pope in the late 19th century. In the 1990’s it was stolen and replaced with a copy. Definitely an entertaining and classically Roman story to research! Another infamous figure to read about is Cola di Rienzo who has a small statue near the spot where he was executed right off the stairs up to the church… 
Victor Emmanual Monument - Officially known as the Altare della Patria, it is more commonly known as “The Wedding Cake”, “The Typewriter”, or “English Soup”. An entire medieval neighborhood was demolished for its construction along with a part of the Capitoline hill. This monstrously incongruous building was built of non-native white stone at the turn of the last century. 
Forum Romanum - There is far too much going on here for me to describe it. Make sure to see the doors to the Roman Curia, the Umbilicus urbis Romae, the Umphalos, the Curia Julia (bronze doors are replacements after the original we transferred to the Lateran in the 17th century), and see if you can spot the ancient Roman wagon ruts in the original street paving. 
Via dei Fori Imperiali - This road was blasted through the remains of the Imperial Forums by Benito Mussolini to demonstrate his authority and provide a space to parade his troops. It is highly unfortunate. 
Palatine Hill - Beautiful place for a picnic. Also a great view of the forum and the back of the Campidoglio
Colosseum - Pretty cool. Never been inside, but I have seen “Return of the Dragon”... It was used as a stone quarry for other projects during the Renaissance! Plenty to read about it. 

San Gregorio Magna al Celio - Beautiful church run by the Benedictines. Saint Augustine of Canterbury was Abbot before he left on his mission to the Saxons. It has three oratories located in a garden by the side of the church. They are very rustic and peaceful. The Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s Order) have a small building to the side that they use to run a homeless shelter.  
Santi Giovanni e Paolo - This large early basilica is built on top an early Christian house church (recently uncovered). The interior was added to quite heavily in the late baroque and features very extravagant lamps. The Romanesque tower is very visible from the courtyard and features ceramic roundels of many colors. While the are often thin roundels of marble or porphyry (sometimes antique columns cut in section), I have heard that those on this tower are actually Islamic ceramic plates looted from the Holy Land.  
Santa Maria in Domenica - Directly in front of the church is an ancient Roman boat sculpture said to have been in the area since antiquity. The beautiful early Renaissance facade dates from the early 1500’s and is attributed to Andrea Sansovino, one of my favorite architects. This was the cardinal church of the Medici family for many years and bears much of their work. Note the square halo around Pope Paschal’s head in the apse mosaic—this signifies his saint-hood even though he was still alive at the time of its construction.  
Santo Sabastiano Rotundo - This is one of two circular churches in Rome. It was built in the 5th century to house the remains of Saint Stephen whose body had recently been recovered from the Holy Land. It’s walls depict many gruesome frescoes of martyrdom.
Basilica di San Giovanni in Latarano - This is the cathedral of Rome, and as such, contains the cathedra, seat of the Roman Pontifex Maximus, or Pope. It is an extremely important church and the culmination of the Via Sacra which begins at the Vatican. The Lataran Palace was gifted to the pope by Emperor Constantine and housed the popes for close to a thousand years before they moved to the Vatican. The church itself was redone by Borromini and is magnificent. It features sculptures of all the Apostles. The exterior was designed by the mathematician and architect Alessandro Galilei, a descendant of the famous Galileo Galilei.   
Santi Quattro Coronati - This is one of my absolute favorite churches in Rome. It is fully fortified from it’s medieval days outside the walls of Rome. It is one of the earliest churches in Rome and was once very important. It was burned during the Norman sack of Rome and rebuilt on a smaller scale. Over the years it gained its fortified walls and is now in a quiet part of the city off the beaten track. Make sure to pay a couple of Euros to see the beautiful little jewel-box Oratorio di San Sylvestro on the right as you enter the second courtyard. I have found this a great place to sketch. 
San Clemente - This is a must-see. The existing church is a Byzantine structure (with possibly the best mosaic apse in Rome depicting the tree of life) over early Christian church, over a Roman villa with a Temple of Mithras in the basement. It also has stream that flows into the forum. 

San Pietro in Vincoli - This is another great example of an early Christian church (mid-4th century) that has accumulate the trappings of every era right down the the 18th century ceiling. There are several works by Renaissance artists, the most famous being Michelangelo’s Moses (with “horns”). I believe the horns are a result of a Vulgate mistranslation that was supposed to refer to rays of light streaming from Moses’ head after he returns with the Ten Commandments. Either way, the monument is truly a masterpiece and definitely worth seeing. The monument is the Tomb of Pope Julius II, a Pope to whom Michelangelo (and all of us) owe a great debt. He commissioned both the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling among many other building and art projects. 
Domus Auria - Nero’s “golden house” was an extravagant private villa that gains its name from the extensive use of gold leaf, along with precious stones, ivory, and frescoes that covered the interior. It was built on land that Nero seized after the great fire of 64 AD and covered a larger section of land in the city. There is plenty of literature on the site and the huge effect its discovery during the Renaissance had on the artists of the time. The term “grotesque" originates from the frescoes discovered in the domus, because Renaissance artists were let down into the “grotto” on ropes to study and sketch the frescoes. Many famous signatures can be found scratched into the walls. 
Baths of Trajan - There is a nice little park for picnics located on the site of the baths which are a ruin. After Nero committed suicide, the following emperors built over his golden house with a variety of projects culminating in these baths built by the Emperor Trajan. Plenty to read on these.  
Santa Bibiana - If you have time, it’s worth hiking a bit further to this wonderful little Baroque church whose facade was designed by Bernini when he was 25. Although built on the site of previous earlier churches, it is remarkable manly for Bernini’s work, including his Statue of Santa Bibiana. There are also frescoes by Pietro da Cortona (architect of the facade Santa Maria della Pace) and Agostino Ciampelli
Santa Prassede - The mosaic program of this church is extensive and dates back to its first renovation in the 9th century by Pope Paschal (again represented with his square halo). The building, like many others was constructed on the site of a previous early Christian church. There is plenty of literature on the mosaic program. Don’t miss the Column of the Flagellation, the alleged pillar on which Christ was flogged before his crucifixion.  
Santa Maria Maggiore - Lots to see here. I can hardly do it justice, but will point to a couple of things not to miss. The mosaics are probably the best in Rome and I believe some of the earliest. Note the highly sophisticated “impressionistic” style of the mosaics during this late Antique period as opposed to the more crude representations during the time of Pope Paschal 400 years later. I believe that they include some of the earliest representations (5th century) of the Virgin Mary, represented as Theotokos (a term that would have been in use here in Rome at the time), following the Council of Ephasus.  
Santa Pudenziana - If you have time, this is another interesting site. Although rather out of the way now, this was a major church in the early days of the church and is said to be the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome. Built sometime in the 2nd century, it was the residence of the pope until Emperor Constantine bequeathed the Lataran Palace to the pope in its stead.  
Baths of Diocletian - Lots to read about these. Various parts of the bath have since been turned into churches and part of the Museum of Natural History  
Statione Termini - This is the main train station for Rome and is executed in a modernist style in concrete. In front of the station is a small portion of the Servian Wall. Richard Wilbur has a very good poem about the station called “For the New Railway Station in Rome”.   
Er Buchetto - I think this means “hole in the wall”, but I’m not sure-Via del Viminale 2 F. Either way it’s the best "panino con porchetta" sandwich in Rome, and has been since 1890… Porchetta is roast pig. Very affordable and best consumed with a white wine. 
Santa Maria della Vittoria - High Baroque church famous for it’s magnificent “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” by Bernini.  
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane - This is one you shouldn't miss. It is also known as "San Carlino" because of its diminutive size, it was designed by Francesco Borromini (one of my favorite architects!) and is remarkable in this list for being original construction without an older church encased behind its facade. While this was one of Borromini’s first commissions, it was plagued with financial difficulties and may have lead to Borromini’s suicide 33 years later (the facade was not completed until after his death). It was an incredibly difficult site (the whole footprint of the church can fit within one of the piers of St. Peter’s Basilica), but Borromini was able to fit this incredible little church, complete with its remarkable dome and curving facade onto the site along with a tiny cloister with alternating upside-down and right-side-up balusters. 
Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale - The next church to visit is this wonderful counterpoint to Borromini’s San Carlino. Designed by Borromini’s more successful competitor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, it is also an elliptically shaped church and was completed around the same time. It is difficult to summarize the multiple allegorical, tropological, and literal levels of design that Bernini employed in the design of the church. I would highly recommend reading more on the incredible brilliance and depth of the design. Suffice it to say, the church was commissioned to house the Jesuit novices preparing to be sent forth as missionaries around the world (and probably martyred). Thus the bloody red-streaked marble interior…  
Palazzo del Quirinale - This is essentially the Italian White House, although it has also housed many popes and kings as well as presidents. Built on the Quirinal Hill, (the highest hill in Rome) it was in antique times very desirable and likely had many patrician villas built in the area. The palace is massive and includes many interior structures and gardens. There is usually some flashy Italian guard-changing, etc., which can be fun to watch. There is also a wonderful view of the city. Our apartment during one of our stays in Rome was not far from here and I walked through the piazza almost every day. The central balcony is the work of Bernini

Villa Borghese Museum - Do not miss visiting this museum containing some of the best art in the world. It is tricky to get tickets. I believe you must buy them several days or more in advance. I would strongly advise purchasing tickets before your leave for the trip. Not much I can add about the museum other than it is wonderful. 
Pincian Hill - Although not one of the Seven Hills of Rome, this area has been a garden retreat since antiquity with many ancient villas and gardens in the vicinity. These are also the gardens that were the haunts of the first English expatriates in the 18th and 19th centuries including Keats, Shelley, Byron, Lear, Eliot, Dickens, Browning, and Thackeray among many others. A great place for a picnic after the Villa Borghese.  
Santa Maria del Populo - This is another church not to miss on a tour of Rome. According to legend, there stood a tree on the spot that was a home to many crows that were thought to be the evil spirit of the Emperor Nero. Pope Paschal II had the tree cut down and a church built on its site. The current structure is another wonderful example of early Renaissance architecture designed by our friend Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno in the late 15th century for Pope Sixtus IV. Bernini in turn redid the facade in the 17th century. The interior is absolutely full of some of the greatest works of art in the world. The apse was designed by Donato Bramante, Pinturicchio frescoed the vault, Andrea Sansovino designed two of the tombs, Francesco da Sangallo designed another tomb in an incredible chapel decorated with more frescoes by Pinturicchio, Carlo Fontana designed yet another chapel, Raphael himself designed the Chigi Chapel that was completed by Bernini, Caravaggio completed to paintings for the Cerasi Chapel (Crucifixion of Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s Conversion). The list goes on. Don’t miss this one. 
Ara Pacis - This is an interesting one. Housed within this monstrously incongruous glass box designed by the architect Richard Meier in 2006 is the 1st century BC altar dedicated to Pax, the goddess of Peace.  
Spanish Steps - Go sit on them. At the foot of the steps is the Roman fashion district. To the right of the steps is the Keats/Shelley Memorial House which is fun to visit if you have the time.   
Palazzo Barberini - A short hike past the Triton Fountain in the Piazza Barberini will take you from here to the Palazzo Barberini. This Baroque palace now houses the Museum of Ancient Art. Originally designed by Carlo Moderno, and completed by Bernini with Borromini playing second fiddle. It has many wonderful frescoes and the museum is worth a visit on its own merits. 

Ponte Sant’ Angelo - Take this to get to the Vatican.  
Via della Concilazione - The Via della Conciliazione stretches from the Castel Sant’ Angelo and the Ponte Sant’ Angelo to the Vatican. It is a new road that blasted through an entire medieval neighborhood and was supposed to symbolize the connection between the Vatican and the newly formed Italian State. Keep in mind that Bernini’s famous piazza would have been designed to be entered from a tiny winding medieval street, not this grand boulevard.  
Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano - Plenty to read about this prior to your visit.
Vatican Museum - Same here. Make sure you research your visit and know when and where to get tickets and line up for entry.  
Villa Farnesina - Beautiful Renaissance palace on the banks of the Tiber with extraordinary frescoes, etc. 
Porta Portese Market - Open on Sunday morning and crazy… Watch your purse or wallet—it will either be spent by you on some of the incredible stuff they sell, or stolen by a gypsy. One of and Amy and my favorite places to go in Rome. 
Catacombs of San Callisto - Probably one of the best catacombs to visit, these are located along the Appian Way which is nice to see in its own right. They date from the 2nd century with many famous Christian tombs including many popes. It is necessary to take a bus to reach these catacombs. 
Bar Giulia - Located on the side of the Via Giulia (a very important papal urban intervention) this cafe is rumored to have the best cappuccino in Rome. If I’m remembering properly, I this rumor is correct. 
Tivoli - If you are looking for a short trip outside the city, Tivoli can be visited by a short bus ride from the city. This was an ancient resort town located about 20 miles east of Rome at an ancient locus of trade and transportation where the River Aniene issues from the Sabine Hills. Many famous Romans and emperors had villas in or around Tivoli. Originally, the river wrapped around the raised acropolis of the town with its Roman temples and plunged over 4 sets of cataracts in its descent to the Roman campagna. This drop of the river created a deep gorge and was used to power mills and canals through the town from an early date. After numerous floods, the river was redirected away from the town and the gorge in the early 19th century. Make sure to visit Hadrian’s Villa located on the way up to the town, as well as the the marvelous Renaissance Villa d’Este and its gardens, powered by canals from the Aniene. The Villa Gregoriana was built as a part of the redirection of the river and is located a short walk from the Villa d’Este in the gorge through which the Aniene River once ran. I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful site. This was a required stop on the English “Grand Tour” and many romantic artists have depicted it, the temple of “Vesta”, and the falls of the river. 
Subiaco - A slightly longer trip, this town is located further up the Aniene River and is notable for its monastery, founded by St. Benedict and is the location where he wrote his famous “Rule". The town itself was built around another of Nero's extravagant Villa’s. The current town is a wonderful example of a medieval hill town. The Ponte San Francesco located at the crossing of the river is a beautiful fortified medieval bridge. The monastery itself can be reached by foot and is built against the side of a rocky cliff. It features many works of art and magnificent views. 
Cerveteri - This is a town not far from Rome and the location of an ancient Etruscan settlement dating back at least to the 9th century BC. Much of our knowledge of the Etruscan civilization in based on the preserved tombs of the extensive necropoli outside the town. These are very interesting to visit. There is a run-down place to eat local fare and drink the local new (an untransportable) white wine built into the historic caves of the city.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winter KLR 650 Maintenance & Upgrades

It's the dead of winter here in northern Indiana and I have a couple of task that needing attending to on the old KLR as well as a few upgrades that I have been collecting parts for over the past few months. If you get a part here and a part there and can manage to be patient, winter updates and repairs don't have to be that painful. Of course right when I start all this it's going to break into a beautiful winter thaw, but this really shouldn't take all that long anyway. 

First up, the speedometer went out on me last spring in the thick of some off-trail brush up on the MCCCT and I have been meaning to get that repaired all summer (I guess there are a few more miles on the bike than the odometer claims...). Next, the steering has been feeling a little funny since I got the bike and I have often wondered if the steering head bearings aren't going out. More on that later. Lastly for the maintenance and repairs, I noticed the last time I put tires on the bike (Kenda 244's, which I have been very happy with) I noticed that the brake pads were getting a bit low. I will go ahead and replace those.

Apart from these repairs and maintenance issues, I have a couple of upgrades I want to make to the bike. First up, the suspension: stock KLR suspension is very, very basic. I won't say it's not usable, because I and plenty of other riders all over the world have ridden with it for years, sometimes in incredible terrain. I will also acknowledge that KLR suspension probably wasn't designed for a 6'-6" 250lb rider carrying gear. However, during the last year's and this spring's trips up to the MCCCT and doing a bit more off-road riding, the suspension really demonstrated its failings. Whooped out sections of the trail required slowing waaay down and still bottoming out at the bottom with a wild swaying and bucking gate that instantly let me know that the whole bike was laboring on each and every up and down. This in turn meant that the tires where either not getting enough traction, or biting deep into the sand only when the bike was completely bottomed out and off balance. The rear suspension was much the same on the trail, but showed its unsuitedness to my weight and riding style more around town. I'm a big rider and when my wife's weight was added to mine it made the bike squat way down and handle terribly even with the preload all the way up. I should also mention that the front suspensions light spring rate is a detriment on the road and around town since it wants to dive excessively under braking loads. 

These are all common KLR owner complaints and luckily for me they have been solved with a multitude of upgrades options for the suspension (as with just about everything else with the KLR). While I do ride off-road and will doubtless appreciate a better suspension set-up, I am not an off-road racer or anything of the sort. I just want to make the suspension a bit stiffer, quicker, and allow for my weight. In the spirit of KLRing, I'm also not interested in spending a fortune on state-of-the-art equipment. If I was, I wouldn't have a KLR. So, that means I'm not opting for aftermarket shock absorbers or forks. Rather, I am going to take mine apart and rebuild them with a selection of the many upgrade parts that are available for the KLR owner. First off, I want those forks to behave a bit better. The tried-and-true upgrade here is the Progressive (yep, it's right in the name) fork spring conversion. You take out the stock springs and spacers, replace them with the progressive units, maybe up your oil weight a bit, and blammo, you've got far, far better front suspension than the stock KLR. Notice I didn't say great or competitive, because it's not. It's still an ancient, out-of-date, damper tube suspension system, but it will have plenty more preload with the new spacers, and most importantly, a progressive spring rate. I'll see how I like it and maybe down the road I'll get emulators or intiminators to give even better compression and rebound damping, but for now I'm just looking forward to the better preload, stiffer, faster ride, and the lack of wallowing dive. Oh, I think I'm also going to push those fork tubes back down to the stock position and gain myself another 1" of ride height, as one of the previous owners had lowered the front end (I have heard the lowered front end can result in better handling so I will try this with caution). 

At the back I am replacing the stock monoshock spring with a new unit from Top Gun that is rated for up to 300lbs. I'm not all that heavy, but I do often ride with gear and love to zip downtown with my wife, so I decided to go for the heavier spring. We'll see how that goes. While I have the shock out, I plan to rebuild the shock, replacing the damper head with a new aftermarket part and changing the oil. It is possible to rebuild the stock head, but it requires bending out some seal retainers and looks like it will cost around the same for the replacement seals as a new head so I opted for the later.

The next upgrade is the front brake. The brakes on the KLR are nothing to write home about. I have been in several experiences with both deer and cars where my braking was not the thing that prevented me going down. They stop the bike, but with the mushy front end they don't do it very fast. So, I decided to invest in a new 270mm wavy front rotor. I am going to continue to use the stock caliper and simply upgrade the brake pads (they're wearing out and I'll need a new even surface to mate up with the brand new rotor. To make all this work, I got a billet aluminum brake caliper extender arm which should make the install of this upgrade fairly easy. We'll see how it goes and if I'm still not happy, maybe will upgrade to a double piston caliper at some point.  

Lastly, the steering head bearings. I'm kind of dreading this one as it requires quite a bit of disassembly, but really I'm sure that won't take long. I have removed quite a few bearing races from steering heads, and that can be quite frustrating though. I've got the new bearings in and I'll see if I can't isolate that headset shake I think I've been feeling and maybe fix it just by tightening top the adjuster nuts... (although given the age of the bike I'd say it's more likely that that isn't going to solve the problem). Either way, I'll solve that when I get to it.

And without further ado, here is the basic process of making these upgrades and performing the maintenance in as simple a manner as I can devise. I often under-plan these things so I thought it would be better to write it out first and see if I could figure out where I would get stuck before I got there... If it all works out as I plan, I hope to post some pictures of the process soon. Barely any of these upgrades will be the kind you can see and show off, rather they will be the kind that you are thankful for and can gloat over while you are enjoying the ride.

Front Suspension Upgrade
  1. Jack up front of bike
  2. Remove front wheel
  3. Remove brake caliper 
  4. Clean brake caliper and install new brake pads
  5. Remove brake rotor from wheel
  6. Install new brake rotor on wheel
  7. Test forks for steering head bearing failure (see #11)
  8. Loosen fork caps
  9. Loosen fork triple tree clamps
  10. Remove fork legs
  11. If replacing steering head bearings, now’s the time...
  12. Remove fork caps
  13. Remove stock spacers, washers, and springs
  14. Drain oil
  15. Flush with new fork oil
  16. Reinstall fork legs (flush with top plate)
  17. Add 15W fork oil w/fork legs compressed
  18. Pump up and down several times
  19. Install new fork springs, washers, and PVC spacers (cut to length)
  20. Replace fork caps (torque as per manual)
  21. Install new brake caliper extender
  22. Reinstall brake caliper on new extender
  23. Reinstall wheel
  24. Install new speedometer drive
  25. Let front of bike down and test new suspension

Rear Suspension Upgrade
  1. Jack up rear of bike
  2. Remove rear shock
  3. Thoroughly clean shock
  4. Remove stock shock spring
  5. Open up shock and remove stock plunger head
  6. Replace with aftermarket head 
  7. Refill with 15W shock oil
  8. Put shock back together
  9. Install new shock spring
  10. Refill shock with nitrogen
  11. Reinstall shock
  12. Replace rear brake pads
  13. Replace rear wheel
  14. Test it all out...

Steering Head Bearings

  1. Remove front fairing
  2. Remove wiring from speedometer cluster marking carefully
  3. Remove speedometer cluster
  4. Remove handlebars and set back on tank
  5. Remove top plate nut
  6. Remove top plate
  7. Loosen and remove adjuster nuts 
  8. Remove steering stem from steering head and set aside
  9. Tap out headset bearing races (prepare to exert high levels of patience)
  10. Clip off lower bearing cage and attempt to tap off lower bearing inner race
  11. If this doesn’t work, cut it off with a dremel very carefully
  12. Pack new bearings with grease
  13. Cut an opening in the side of the old bearing races
  14. Tap in the new bearing races to the headset with the old bearing races turned upside down
  15. Install lower bearing inner race on steering stem
  16. Reinstall steering stem in headset
  17. Tighten adjuster nuts
  18. Reinstall top plate
  19. Reinstall top plate nut and torque down
  20. Test fork bearing tension and adjust accordingly
  21. Reinstall handlebars
  22. Reinstall speedometer cluster
  23. Reconnect wiring according to marks
  24. Replace front fairing

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Janus Design Updates

Here are two recent video updates showing the typical design process for developing a new Janus part. In this case, the part is an upgrade for our most recent model, the Griffin 250, a dual-sport style motorcycle in the tradition of the early "scrambler" style motorcycle. Scramblers were the first motorcycles built specifically for riding off-road and were the forebearers of today's dedicated dirt bikes. This component protects the frame rails and engine cases from debris and obstacles with could dent or otherwise damage the motorcycle in off-road riding conditions.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Abstract for an Essay on Wilbur’s “Marginalia”

Grendel's mother drags Beowulf to the bottom of the lake by Henry Justice Ford 

All Thomas More College students studied the poetry of Richard Wilbur and were assigned a specific Wilbur poem during our semester in Rome. Richard Wilbur died this October at the ripe old age of 96. I was assigned Marginalia during my Rome semester in the spring of 2005. The below abstract is for an essay I am working on for an upcoming collection of papers on Wilbur that is being put together by alumni of the college as a tribute to “our” poet.
This essay will examine the idea of the marginal and of the border between perceived reality and the more complete reality that Wilbur points to beyond our perception. What collects at the margin of our experience is often broken, ugly, and dangerous. Yet, “our riches are centrifugal” and the tide of history continually pulls to this outer rim. While the undiscovered country cannot be visited, we are given a means of fathoming it through dreams, myth, and our collective experience. It will be the goal of this essay to describe how the poem provides a means of speaking about the marginal and of conceiving of it as not just a integral part of the human experience, but potentially the means for its completion.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Most of The Time The Earth Is Flat.

by Jonathan Pageau in Orthodox Arts Journal July 16, 2014

"The scientific world machine is so pervasive, so iron cast that it retrofits itself to the entire history of human experience. We therefore encounter in most modern historical narratives the tales of “superstition”, of “if only they knew” culminating to that pernicious statement we have all heard: “people used to think this, but now we KNOW…”. 

Full essay here: