Sunday, May 20, 2007


John Galvin, at Bob's BMW, says he's giving me a new nickname: "Lucky."

Well, I'm getting tired of Drifty anyway although it has a meaning in submarine tactics that is somewhat different from the word's civilian connotations.

What a perfect weekend we've had. Nancy and Blaster and some others were commenting about it, yesterday, while enjoying good meat sandwiches from the barbecue coach. The forecast said the weekend was going to be the pits, but instead it seems to have been redeemed by some grace and a good thing for the folks who put on Butler's Orchard--where I did not get to, today.

I had decided to go to Bob's, yesterday morning, to get a donut and see who I might run into for a ride. A block down the road, I noticed that the bike was riding very hard. Remembering that I had cranked up the shocks a couple of nights before for a rider and not cranked them back down, I reached down to back the dial off five or ten turns. Imagine my horror when the valve turned freely with no resistance.

Good thing I discovered something like this on my way to Bob's instead of last weekend on my trip to Asheville and back.

It turns out that the new Works shock blew a seal. Bob's did not have a replacement shock, but removed the shock and is keeping my bike while I send the shock back to Works for repair. So, I'm without a bike... again. Grrr.

Not the bike's fault. Nothing to do with what kind of bike I have or how many miles are on it, as this IS a relatively new shock. Just one of those things. There've been a few of "those things" in my life, lately.

I'm fortunate that such things happen while the bike is sitting at the curb, in my home territory, most of the time. Still, the feeling of bad luck is pervasive. Where is my karma these days? I've learned the humility lesson over and over. I just want to ride like everybody else and have a good time. Let's see four weekends ago, I had that flu illness that knocked me out for days. Three weekends ago, I went to get on my bike to go to teach a Saturday morning motorcycle safety class and the rear tire was flat. I took my friend Susan's car to the range to teach. AAA towed the bike while I was teaching (I have an operator with them who really knows how to tow bikes, Independent M/C Transport 301-946-5412, who alerts me that I only have one tow left on the AAA RV+ policy) . Nevertheless, I could not pick the bike up until Thursday, the next week due to schedules even though they had a new tire on the bike, the same day. The next week, two weekends ago, as the weekend approached, I feel a sore in my left elbow that turned into a swelling that turned into a general infection (that urned out to be staph) that put me into the hospital for surgery over the weekend.

It seems like a miracle that nothing happened to interfere with me getting to Asheville for my Nephew's graduation, last weekend. The Sunday morning ride north from Weaverville, beginning before sunrise, was one of those rides that made me feel a part of eternal moments of perfect beauty, as if for an hour or two I existed apart from my own mortality and a part of the timeless universe.

Then, this weekend, this. I only have three weekends before I go in for back surgery which will be followed by three weeks of doctor ordered "no motorcycling." Just what is providence trying to teach me, I wonder.

If there is a lesson, it may be that I'm overly dependent upon my motorcycle. I've come to absolutely depend upon it for my mental health. Perhaps because I grew up in the country... Mt. View, Wyoming near Ft. Bridger; then Thermopolis with its incredible hot springs raising steam for miles around in the Winter; then Weiser, Idaho; and spending summers at my grandfather's lake, Naylor Lake, in Colorado just below Gunella Pass.

Ft. Bridger, Wyoming

Weiser, Idaho: Gateway to Hells Canyon

Hot springs of Thermopolis, Wyoming

Naylor Lake

Gunella Pass

...perhaps because I grew up in the country, my mental health requires getting back to the country. ...or at least trying to find parts of it that do not too often remind me of the problems of civilization.

I read Bob Higdon, writing in the recent issue of BMW RA's "On the Level," and he talks about consuming Prozac like it's candy, and I can relate. I generally go off my med's when I'm on long trips, and perhaps it is one reason that I enjoy long trips so much.

Still, perhaps providence is trying to teach me that there are simpler and less expensive ways to pursue my mental health. Neal Peart, in his book "Ghost Rider," talks about his discovery that hiking is every bit as therapeutic to him in working through the grief of major personal losses as riding the motorcycle was. Even, perhaps I should say "especially," when he had to worry about bears--something other than ones own usual preoccupations.

As I sat at Bob's, I enjoyed the usual parade of visitors. There was one man who purchased his first bike, one of the new F800's. He had just completed the motorcycle training course. He stalled it three times before getting out of the dealer lot, and once more as he made a left into the road. In some ways, it is better for new people to be stalling a bike than over-reving and popping the clutch. Good that he was erring to the side of caution. Finding himself stopped in the road, below a rise that prevented him from seeing well what might be coming seemed to give him enough adrenaline to give it a little more gass, and he was off.

Another gentleman had a brand new K1200GT and was looking at what bags might fit it. Easier to farkle a GS, I think.

Bob's had a line-up of classic bikes that various customers brought in. One with a sidecar took the prize for the day, but Bob made a point of making other customers with notable bikes join the center-stage. One bike, a K100, had a sign on it's front: "Silver Spring to Fairbanks in 18 days" ...or was it 13 days? A scrapbook sat on the rear box full of pictures of the trip. After I finished looking through it, the owner of the bike approached, a woman who I recognized from the pictures in the scrap book. She volunteered answers to several questions I had about the trip. For one, I had presumed that you need a GS to manage those roads.

"If I can make it on this, you can certainly make it on yours," she said nodding at my cruiser.

As much as I like looking at new bikes, I enjoy more examining the bikes that are being ridden long miles, as she had ridden hers. The longer they've been ridden, the better. The many small things people do to make the ride easier are interesting to me. Especially those things they think of that do not cost a whole lot of money. For example, she had installed a CB radio and antenna rather than a Autocom. Her husband's Harley Davidson, on which he had also made the trip also had a CB. It was enough for them to be able to talk.

Well, after my operation, I'll be up to walking and hiking. Maybe I'll get a bicycle again. There is a part of me that wonders whether I might not be happier touring on a bicycle than a motorcycle.