The Miss-Fires in The New York Times

A few months ago on a Sunday evening I went to a birthday party. In between gluttonous bites and gulps of cake and beer I began noticing that some people were getting interested in what I had to say about The Miss-Fires; mainly a writer friend named Jessica Weisberg. A week later Jess emailed me asking if it was ok to present The Miss-Fires to her editor at The New York Times as a unique community group that represents strong unity in this inhospitable metropolitan cesspool.

Did she say that exactly?

No, it was more like, “So, I was talking with my editor at the Times and she really wants more stories about unexpected communities in New York City: groups that make the city seem smaller and friendlier than its reputation suggests. I immediately thought of the Misfires. And I’m wondering if you guys would be interested in being covered in the Times metro-section.”

After reading just her first sentence I as well immediately thought, ‘The Miss-Fires!’ When the rest of The Miss-Fires read that they also immediately thought, ‘The Miss-Fires!’

With resounding AYEs we set a date to meet with Jess and have a photo shoot:  Saturday, March 21st starting at MotorGrrl. Since this was to be the first ride of the season for many of us some had trouble getting our bikes to the garage that morning.  In Red Hook Alison’s Moto Guzzi wasn’t starting so Val sent a van for it to be picked up and brought to Williamsburg. Across the river Kristin was having concerns with the fuel line on her Triumph, and at Erika and Jason’s garage in Park Slope my Intruder’s battery was drained and had to be juiced. Stephanie’s bike was just all in pieces at a different garage. So guess what we did… Got our asses to MotorGrrl that’s what!  Either in a van, through mechanical fortitude, or on the back of another lady’s bike, we came out in numbers and the rest of the day was just perfect.

We started by heading up to the Greenpoint waterfront for a big group shot at the river with Manhattan as a backdrop.  Did I mention that the Times sent Pulitzer Prize winning staff photographer Todd Heisler to photograph the story?  Oh, sorry.  The Times definitely sent Pulitzer Prize winning staff photographer Todd Heisler to photograph the story.  He had a comfortable home on the back of Val’s Honda Shadow and was snapping away while she rolled up alongside some of the ladies for some Speed Racer action shots. Jessica rode on the back with me and though she used to ride, was outfitted, and we were going relatively slow, all I could think was, “Ben is going to kill me.” …her husband.

Beep beeps and hey heys and we found a spot at the end of Green Street and began to assemble our bodies and bikes in some sort of photographable cluster and soon, the sun popped.

Et voilà !

Todd seemed happy with the shot and we relaxed but we weren’t about to go home. Oh no. To The Crab Shack! And Jess and Todd were coming with us!

To be continued…!


Intruder Alert: Tune-Up Part 1

Last night, under Val’s tutelage, we pulled my ’87 Suzuki Intruder out of winter storage for a much needed spring cleaning tune-up. By the time I got to MotorGrrl at 7PM, Little Miss Suzi Ramjam (the Intruder’s new name for reasons I’ll explain later) was already up on the lift and ready for love with a bright red shop rag draped over the seat, handle bar straps holding her tight and tall, and Val next to the lift with a shiny ratchet wrench in-hand.

She had already lowered the battery from the box and informed me that it wasn’t holding a charge which kept the bike from starting.  Damn.  I wasn’t surprised though, I’ve had battery issues since I bought the bike almost two years ago so I can look forward to diagnosing the issue later.  Now, in order to take the battery completely out of its little house you have to raise the frame a bit for the door to swing far enough down so the battery can drop out which leads me to the whole Ramjam thing.  The Intruder is a lot of bike jammed into a relatively tiny frame.  Precision Japanese engineering does not a happy American wrencher make.  It takes a few simple tasks turning into many annoying projects to make this glaringly clear.  From the angle of screw casings to the varied position of the carbs it’s almost impossible to just do a little tinkering.  Time for us to tweak our approach and sprinkle on some patience and time with this baby.

{Cue Music}

First things first we determined the level of tuning that was needed.  For her 16,500 miles, the manual’s recommended list was pretay long so we just started right at the top: Drain the oil and yes, I got it all over.  Felt good.

Then we set in to inspect the spark plugs.


Look at that smile.  I was all, “Can’t wait to see these freakin’ spark plugs!” Let’s just reach in there and get ’em!”  But first we had to remove the cylinder covers to get close enough to unscrew ’em.  What we found were some FILTHY plugs and a beautifully preserved dead bumble bee!  RIP.


With fresh new plugs installed and a prayer offered for the dead it was back to the manual and the next step: air filters – one front, one rear.  The rear filter was relatively easy to find once we removed the seat – match this diagram to this thing here.  But since the front filter housing sat under the gas tank, it became time for that to come off.  Yes, I got gas everywhere.  And with that we learned that the tank end of my fuel line was pretty dry rotted and needed to be replaced.  But one thing at a time.

Both air filters were pretty dirty but not in desperate need of replacement so we just blew them. With compressed air. Then spent a decent amount of time trying to get the dang hose reattached.  Ramjam problem: due to its positioning, we couldn’t see or feel if the hose was attached in any way to the housing. We had to remove the ignition coils which flanked each side to get a better look. 45 minutes and just as many WTF’s later, we were finally able to move on to the fuel line.

With a flashlight we followed the current line starting from where we had detached it from the petcock down to where it connected to the fuel pump.  To be expected, it was quite a tight squeeze but since we were in there and Val had a replacement hose we decided just to replace it.  Right? JUST?  Just replace it? Tonight?

I guess what we lack in smarts we make up for in conviction because we got the new fuel line in, but not before midnight. And though we knew there was more work to do we figured, let’s just get the tank back on, hook up the line, and go on home.


At that time Corinna, the forgotten 8th Dwarf (let’s call her “Greasy”), was packing up after killin’ it all night at the work table putting the transmission back together on her Yamaha.  She provided some much needed muscle in our last stretch connecting the tight new line to the petcock.


I’m a lucky lady for having the following: a warm garage, tools, WOMAN-POWER (and Slade), great company from those who come to hang out, and a challenging bike that rewards me for the attention I pay to it (which it rightfully deserves).



Well this was fun!  Thanks for reading!  More to come!