If you were wondering how I've come within five days of a motorcycle trip without a "working motorcycle," that's a great question. Pants-seat-flying is the answer.
I've got a 1984 Honda Shadow VT500C that I've owned since 2007. Her name is Kestrel, and she was put back on the road last summer after several years rotting under a porch. My friend D, a motorcycle mechanic and professional wanderer, taught me to clean a carburetor and do some various other basics on that bike.
Kestrel started this season strong, then developed some herky-jerkiness on acceleration. I cleaned the carb, put it back, and she ran fine for a month or so before the problem returned. So I pulled out the carb again, cleaned it, cleaned the fuel filter, and Kreemed the tank.
That seems to have taken care of it, but she's got leaky valve cover gaskets and enough rattles to fill a baby toy. She also smokes steadily out one pipe. I don't have enough experience to tell a "loose heat shield" rattle from a "valves beating themselves to death" rattle, so I ride her and wait for something to blow up. That's all well and fine while bombing around town, but I don't really want to ride 5,000 miles across the country waiting for that shoe to drop.