Archive for Motorcycle

Feb
12

Kicking Out The Rust

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It’s been a while.

Not only has it been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but since I’ve donned a jacket and helmet and gone for a ride. Maybe that’s what’s been wrong with me lately. Today, I set out to find out.

First I had to round up all my gear. My tankbag was well hidden under some Christmas stuff. My helmet visor needed a good dusting – never an encouraging sign. Slithering into my riding pants, the zipper of the fly bursts off, which is absolutely not a good sign. Rain Cloud Follows, my trusty and faithful Yamaha FJR, sat dejected under its dust cover, still dirty from the last ride – which was so long ago I can’t even remember what it was.

(I exaggerate. I remember it well. The last long ride Fiona and I took on Rain Cloud Follows was to Napa and Oregon – which means the last real ride report I’ve done – a long, long time ago – can be found here.)

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Jul
19

Got Milk?

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Another beautiful, sunny California Sunday dawns, and, as I’m awake early enough, with plenty of time before work imposes on fun and I have to catch my flight to Raleigh, I heed the call of the faithful. Donning my riding gear, the usual involuntary smile creases my face, in anticipation of the riding rapture to follow. Rain Cloud Follows, my trusty Yamaha FJR 1300, fully repaired after the last big ride, sat in the garage waiting, ready for some Sunday worship in the Church of Azusa Canyon.

The ritual of pre-ride checks complete, I swing a leg over, thumb the starter, and my old friend, garage bound for far too long roars to life, ready to roll. The shifter snicks into first gear, and Rain Cloud Follows and I are off on a Sunday Milk Run, our first fun ride in months.

I marvel at how long it’s been since I’ve ridden. The planning and successful execution of Fiona’s surprise thirtieth birthday party, work, and life in general have all conspired to get in the way of this year’s rapidly ebbing riding season. I swear a silent vow in my helmet to correct this issue, and correct it soon. Thoughts come and go as my motorcycle, on autopilot, leads me through town to the start of the Milk Run.

I pick up a few more of the Congregation of the Faithful on the way, three sport bike riders in full leather racing gear. I’d love to say I left them in the dust at the start of the Milk Run, but that was impossible. Not because they were much better riders than I, which they probably were, but because after the first few turns, our merry band of worshipers were blocked by a clot of unbelievers clogging the road with their minivans and pickup trucks.

My new friends, apparently much more devout than I, take matters into their own hand, twisting throttles, jumping over double yellows, passing rolling roadblocks, then disappearing down the road, willing to sacrifice their personal safety on the Altar of Speed.

Me? I’m not quite as fervent in my beliefs, so I wait for my opportunities to pass. I wait, and I wait, patiently crawling through the mountains of Southern California behind the ‘Soccer Mom Heathens.’ Soon enough, my patience pays off, and I’m free, winding my way through Azusa Canyon, the familiar curves in the road rising up like old friends to greet me once again.

For a while I find myself singing in my helmet, entertaining thoughts of all the far off places I want to ride to, the exotic locals drifting in and out of my tiny brain. I pass clumps of the faithful congregated on the sides of the road, happily exchanging the secret hand sign with others of the Brotherhood of the Motorcycle. Some of those same faithful later return that greeting as they roar past me on the way down the mountain.

While I ride, I contemplate. Next to a dimly lit bar with a pint of Guinness in hand, the best place for me to plan a ride is… riding. A few choice destinations keep burbling to the surface, and as I weave left and right and left again, I scheme how I’ll get to those places, who I’ll invite to come along, and exactly where we’ll go. Halfway through the ride, the random pieces have started to fall into place, and another ambitious plan has started to form. Now all I need is that frothy pint and a napkin to commit the route to paper.

At the crossroads, I have a choice to make. Sell what’s left of my soul to the Devil, head left toward Mt. Baldy, and miss my flight, or take the shorter, safer and most sensible alternative. A sudden blast of good sense overwhelms me, and, with a twinge of sadness, I turn right, finishing out my Sunday Milk Run by heading down the excellent Glendora Mountain Road, back home.

Sunday Milk Run Route – Short Version

All too soon, the road comes to an end, as it always does. My small sacrifice of rubber and fuel was apparently enough to appease the Gods of Speed and Safety, and, with neither harm nor foul to man or machine, I return Rain Cloud Follows to the garage. I’m happy about this newly formed plan for another epic ride still marinating and incubating in my head. My involuntary smile couldn’t be wider if it was surgically enhanced.

It’s just ten in the morning, but already it’s shaping up to be the Best. Day. Ever.

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