Saturday, July 26, 2008
I dropped the 650 off at my favorite local shop for maintainance. I used to enjoy performing the work myself and still do a few of the routine tasks such as changing oil. Mostly, I just can't squeeze the time out of the day to tear a bike down the way I once could. It's the price I pay for chosing a career that doesn't directly involve motorcycles.
I figured I might have an oil leak as well and wanted the guys at Cycle Works to give the bike a thorough inspection. It took them a little longer than usual but I've finally got the machine back. In the past, it hasn't been uncommon for them to return the bike to me within two days. This time took about a week. Apparently, one of the mechanics was down in the back and they got a little behind in work.
Any time the work takes a little longer than I'm accustomed to, I get a little antsy and start thinking of other shops where I might be able to take the bike. I prefer independent shops like Cycle Works because I get treated with respect while my machine's on the lift. My experience with dealerships, almost across the entire spectrum of manufacturer, has been that if I appear not to have a significant dollar amount to spend, then I'm not worth the trouble of approaching. I've been to dealers where I've been received by absolutely no one, even when staff are on the floor and doing little more than speaking with one another.
So I pick up the bike, engage in a bit of pleasant conversation, and ride off on a machine that's dialed in like it rolled off the showroom floor. I'm also not treated like an idiot for not knowing all the inner workings of the machine. No website for the guys at Cycle Works, just word of mouth and a spot of advertising. I was drinking coffee at a local micro-roastery when the owner struck up conversation over the machines we ride. He suggested the Works when I told him I needed someone to tune the bike. The place had been recommended to the coffee bar owner by a motorcyclist that stopped to try and help the owner with a flat. I've passed the word on to those who just want their bikes handled with as much care as they would give if they had the necessary skill. One motorcyclist helping another motorcyclist.
Cycle Works, 3302 Preston Highway, Louisville, KY (502) 366-7102
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I wasn't able to find a link to the footage or story anywhere on GMA's website. However, I did discover references to the piece among the comments posted by viewers. Motorcyclists are chiming in concerning the lack of safety gear worn by Chris Cuomo. He rode to work with a top notch helmet and a brightly colored textile jacket, but must have forgotten his gloves and boots. The light-weight business slacks aggravated a few posters.
I think I'll send Chris a comment of my own. I don't want to jump down his throat over safety issues. What about those of us who have been riding to work for years? Some of us have made motorcycles a large part of how we live prior to the rise in fuel costs. Not saying we should receive some sort of extra credit, but the perspective of experience could prove useful to those wondering whether the two-wheeled life is right for them.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
I had a few things leaning in my favor that day, things I attribute to my still sucking air today. I was wearing a full-face helmet. This was a big one for me. Three weeks before the crash, I'd decided I'd had enough of playing Russian roulette with the drivers around me and purchased the first lid I'd worn in five or six years. It wasn't anything spectacular, a basic all-around shell, foam, and visor. It cost me a little under a 100 bucks. I remember the first rides with it on, especially in late June, feeling like I was suffocating. I'd stop some place and pratically rip the thing off to get air.
Boots. I was wearing a well-worn pair of Red Wing lace-up work boots, the reddish Oxblood colored kind. The doctors told me that if I hadn't had on sturdy, above-the-ankle shoes, I'd have lost my right foot. Apparently, the car sandwiched my right leg between the grill and the bike. The leg snapped, moving the foot over and upward inside the skin toward my knee. I remained conscious all the way until they rolled me into the ER, where the numbness of shock wore off and the hazy sub-reality of morphine took over.
I always take a little time out of the day during my Anniversary to remember the police officer and EMT's who cared for me during the first moments following the accident. Each of them was a motorcyclist. At one point, I asked the officer what had happened to my bike and he said, "Uh...well, I wouldn't worry about that right now, bud." And then the EMT's whisked me onto a spine board and into the ambulance. Well, maybe not whisked. More like trundled. Trundled with extensive swearing supplied by me. During the ride to the hospital, the EMT told me about her bike and how she was considering selling it because of the all the accidents she'd witnessed over the years. To this day, I sincerely hope she hasn't.
I mark this anniversary as a special one not just because I survived, but because the experience changed my approach to riding forever. The helmet did it's job and although badly torn up, permitted me to arrive at the hospital with little more than a moderate concussion. I haven't ridden without one since. The EMT's cut the boots off. After I learned to walk on my reconstructed ankle, I had the Red Wings restitched only to find that I couldn't wear anything that laced up around the ankle. The constrictive leather aggravated the hardware in my leg. Though they're not as stylish, my kevlar reinforced, waterproof roadboots are almost as comfortable as those faded, old Wings. Almost.
And as for the Harley? She died with over 56,000 miles on the clock. The insurance company totaled her. When the adjuster met me at the bank to deliver my share of the HD's worth, he arrived on a BMW GS650. Though I was on crutches, that bike whispered something to me about the nature of my life on two wheels that I would spend the next nine months deciphering. That whisper transformed into an examination of the fundamental beliefs around why I turned to motorcycles in the first place, a calling to interpret the world through wind and speed, a steering of my spirit toward home.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
What concerns most long-term riders, this one included, is what will happen to these new converts as we progress toward the winter months. Here in the States, motorcycles make up a minute amount of the total vehicle traffic. Such a position gives rise to a particular bond among motorcyclists, a commonality that stretches across such boundaries as socioeconomic class, age, and brand affiliation. While some outright hositility exists between riders of various makes and models, most longriders will stop for a fellow rider stranded on the roadside regardless of what badge the tank carries. Truth be known, even in the recent past, there have been too few of us gracing the highways to let a simple thing like bike preference interfere with helping another motorcyclist.
It's homogenization of motorcycle "culture", if such a thing exists, that worries me the most. Do we teach, if only by example than no other method, to stop for a rider in need? Why do we wave to one another? These questions, and others similar to them, while not as immediate to the introduction to motorcycling as issues of training, are central to the passing on of this "culture" from one generation to the next, a generation measured in miles and stories told by gatherings at the road's edge.