Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Irony of Thursdays

"This must be Thursday,' said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer.  'I never could get the hang of Thursdays." -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I had to replace my Ogio No Drag backpack because after five years of harsh daily abuse the zipper finally gave up the ghost.  Sure I could get it to zip if I was willing to spend twenty minutes struggling and swearing to do so, but who has that kind of time?  The bag served me well through tens of thousands of miles commuting, touring and backroad carving.  It even saw duty on a back country snowmobile trip in Wyoming and made an excellent carry-on.

I came to the No Drag as an anti-backpack motorcyclist.  My belief was always that luggage needs to be strapped to the bike, not rider.  After a few rides with the No Drag, I was a convert.  With my daily commuting essentials, rain suit, bike cover, phone, wallet and other sundry, I was not even aware of having anything on my back.

So when that zipper zipped its last, I knew it would be another Ogio No Drag for me, this time the newer edition Mach 5 (sounds like a disposable razor with too many blades).  I opted for the safety yellow color after a few close calls from idiots who didn't see me at the stop light.  I don't know if the high visibility color will help, only time will tell.

It's the little things in life that make me happy, like having a backpack with a zipper that actually closes, so I was somewhat chuffed getting ready for my Thursday morning commute.  Here comes the irony, with my shiny new No Drag zipped and waiting to be donned, I put on my 4 year old Cortech boots, and the zipper on the left one promptly exploded.  Why does the universe find it necessary to balance itself out always so close to my vicinity?  Yep, it was a Thursday all right.

Shiny new bag with operational zipper

Dirty old boot with DOA zipper


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016


"Who hath ordained that a parchment scroll shall fence round miles of land?  When millions of hands want acres, and millions of acres want hands?" -Augustine Duganne

Five hours in the woods.  60° meant all the fair weather riders showed up.  After nearly two months riding alone, it was time to share.  I wasn't sure how I felt about that.

Spend enough time roaming around on a plot of land and you form attachments, begin to feel a sense of ownership.  Obviously not in any legal sense, that was held by some corporation who simply hadn't found a cost-effective way to make the soggy tract of land with no viable traffic access profitable.  Yet.  Somehow, it was mine, at least a little bit.  I had conquered every hillclimb out there, searched out all the paths others couldn't be bothered to ride, carried out trash left by shitheads who didn't give a damn.

One of yesterday's riders described the place as "Heaven", and I supposed he was right.  A few hundred acres of wild surrounded by uncountable square miles of mild.  But a shadow crossed my mind as he spoke the words and I knew all too clearly, it cannot last.  Someday the fences will go up and the establishment will come down, on us, who only sought to enjoy the fallow land.

Heaven is where you find it.  You always have to be looking, because it keeps moving around.

Friday, February 19, 2016


Back to the woods.  It's been nine days since I was there.  Far too long.  Piss poor weather (yes, even I have my limits, somewhere around 17° F) and piss poor work hours (haven't found a way out of it yet).

At least I've had the opportunity to do some work on the KDX.  New clutch plates, filed down the badly grooved teeth on the basket, recovered the seat along with new foam from CEET.  I installed a modified cylinder head from RB designs.  And of course finally laced a black front wheel to match the rear using an Excel rim and their spline drive spokes.

Those familiar with the KDX will recognize the front end as different than stock.  A set of conventional forks from a 1998 RM125 were grafted onto the Kawasaki.  Shortened and revalved by Works Enduro Rider in NJ, they saw their first dirt use recently.  After living with the stock front end (even after WER's tweaking) for over a year, the RM forks were a night and day difference.  It wasn't cheap, but considering the amount of time I'm spending in the saddle off-road (20-25 hours per month), it was money well spent.  The only trade off is a little bit less steering lock, but not enough to make a huge difference.

The KDX200


Of course, if you get to ride a motorcycle there, it makes it a little easier.  Don't make excuses. Ride. Today. Because tomorrow you might be dead.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lessons Learned FMT Epilogue

The final installment of "Fuck Me Twice"

I never saw The Skunk again after being hastily escorted from that back alley bike shop.  Which was probably a good thing.  I worried it might keep turning up in my life, haunting me like some mechanical apparition from which I would never be free.  Chances are it enjoyed a short repose in some scrapyard before being crushed and sent to China.  Rockabilly Rob was not smart enough or well-heeled or ambitious enough to have rebuilt it.  Maybe some of its parts ended up on other machines allowing it to live on as an alloy and steel organ donor.

It doesn't really matter.  There is no particular nostalgia in my heart for that machine and I don't pine for another one.  Not a particularly great motorcycle, neither fast nor sweet handling.  It was heavy and slow compared to the other two-strokes of the same era, the Yamaha RDs and the Kawasaki H and KH models.  That GT380 sticks out in my mind mostly because it was the first and (so far) only motorcycle taken from me.

I learned that no matter how crappy your stuff is, how little you feel like you have, there is always somebody with less that is willing to take it, along with whatever else you got, by all means at their disposal.  Not exactly a Hallmark sentiment, but true nonetheless.

My vigilance increased tenfold.  I became a savvy city dweller instead of a victim, moving furtively amongst the thieves and cabs and cops, quicker than death or skullduggery.  The price for this survival?  A little bit of innocence.

Even the most unremarkable machine can teach lessons.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The End, I Supposed

Part VIII of Fuck Me Twice

(scroll down blog to read parts 1-7)

It was an interesting call to the Philadelphia Police.

"My motorcycle has been stolen."

"Give me the VIN# please.", asked a pleasant sounding woman on the other end.

"86754 XXX"

"That's already been reported honey.  But, good news, it's been recovered.  You can go pick it up at....".

"53rd and Pentridge, right?  I already did that.  It's been stolen again."

"Oh honey, you don't have any luck, do you?"

The insurance company was a little more skeptical, demanding I pay for yet another police report.  Weeks turned into months and finally two years passed.  There were other motorcycles, some better, some worse.  A 1979 CX500 (utter pile of shit), a 1980 Yamaha 650 Special with custom paint (great bike when the charging system worked) and a 1979 CB750F Supersport (again, a great bike when the charging system worked or the ignitor boxes weren't failing), but the little triple was not forgotten.

A friend decided he just had to have a motorcycle, which is how we found ourselves at one of the less reputable hole in the wall cycle shops in Philadelphia.  Their wares were overpriced and had mostly been flogged to within an inch of death, I would not have felt comfortable riding one of those rigs around the block, let alone across the country, as we planned.  The tattooed rockabilly mechanic/salesmen wouldn't let it go, he was determined to show us everything and prove his superior two-wheel acumen.  He had already made technically inaccurate statements regarding motorcycles, but I didn't have the heart to try and educate him.  This reject from a Social Distortion road crew led us to a dimly lit back room to show us the "project bikes".  Again, mostly worn out machines being hacked into Frankensteinian abortions.  He was most proud of his new "chopper project".

"I bet you can't tell me what it is," he said, pointing to his "project", a frame with a motor and exhaust sitting on the floor tilted at a haphazard angle.

"It's what's left of a 1976 Suzuki GT380, and I actually own it.  It's stolen."

 My eyes were drawn to the exhaust pipes, the left one unmistakably ground down from being dragged.  I looked for the oddball kickstart lever, check, my wiring repairs, check.  I knelt down and read the VIN#, having committed The Skunk's to heart by repeated readings to the police and State Farm.  There was no doubt, this had been my motorcycle, and it looked worse than the last time I saw it two years ago.

The look of shock on Rockabilly Rob's face was worth the price of admission.  He stuttered and stammered and abruptly left the room, returning with the shop's owner, a goliath of a man.

The proprietor stood six foot six and close to 300 pounds, covered in jailhouse tattoos.  If the rumors were to be believed he was hooked up with motorcycle gangs and drug sales, he certainly looked the part.  The only other time I had been to his shop, I watched him get pissed at a motorcycle that was leaking gas, which he promptly picked up and tossed into the street.  He towered over me with his arms crossed.

"That bike ain't stolen, understand?  It's time for you and your friend to leave.  There is nothing here you need to be worried about except yourself, got it?"

What could I say?  I suppose I could have gotten the title and returned with the police, but what in the hell was I going to do with a frame and motor in my apartment?  If I caused trouble for this scumbag, I might end up with more than my share as well.  There was no way out here, except empty handed.  No justice would be meted out on this day.  Like so many other cruelly disappointing situations in life that seem to demand action, the only real choice was to walk away.

And remember.  

What remained of The Skunk in that South Philadelphia shop was less than this.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Second Fuck

Part VII of Fuck Me Twice

(Scroll down the blog to read parts 1-6)

In the interest of, ahem, brevity, I will avoid going into great detail about the deaf woman who approached as we pushed the carcass of my Suzuki GT380. She told us she called the police from a payphone regarding the stolen motorcycle in front of her house (turns out she didn't have a phone, or electricity either).

I will refrain from transcribing her vernacular, not because of the wishy washy PC douchebags, but because it would take too long to do so and be far too painful to read.  Suffice it to say she sounded like Helen Keller talking out of some Ebonic Speak N Spell.

The short version of her spiritually and aurally agonizing tale is that the 21 year old turd who stole my motorcycle also happened to have impregnated her 14 year old daughter.  His name was Corey.  I remember this 20 years later because I have never met anyone named Corey that I actually liked.  It just seems like a douchey name.  The Corey in question had a violent streak, so when he wasn't spreading his seed through the statutory rape of young girls he liked to get rough with them.  My heart went out to this woman, and I tried to imagine raising a child and grandchild here in the dark without even a phone, but it was too big.  I had not come to solve all society's ills this night, but merely to return my motorcycle home, preferably before a confrontation with Corey.  Possession is 9/10ths of the law, and if that son of a bitch possessed a knife or a gun, he was the law.

We pushed that motorcycle back through the wasteland as it grew ever heavier.  Three miles might as well have been one thousand as the flat tires made this back-breaking, awkward labor.  The night was stickily humid and black like ink.  Sweat poured down and soaked our clothes without relieving the body.  If only it was cooler, I thought.....

As if in a wry answer from the universe, a terrifying crack rent the night and from some ironic heaven obscured by smog and darkness, a deluge came.  The thunderstorm I wished for three days ago arrived.  At the worst possible moment.  The sky was alight with electricity and thunder broke overhead like bombs exploding.  It rained so hard we couldn't see our hands in front of our faces, let alone push a boat anchor with flat tires.

Luckily we were only two blocks from a friend of Kevin's who allowed us to wheel the beast into her yard.  It was 4 am. Dripping and exhausted we abandoned the bike, agreeing to come back first thing in the morning to remove it.

Kevin went to his girlfriend's house, I returned home.  The rain stopped and the humidity rose again.  I lay in bed, thinking about the work that would be necessary to fix my bike.  Expensive, well beyond any value of the machine, but it seemed like the only appropriate fuck you to the thief and the universe that created him.  I dozed, taking some small satisfaction in the fact that what was left of my motorcycle would be back home tomorrow, and the process of rebuilding could begin.

The telephone jangled me awake at 8:00. It was Kevin.

"Did you come and get that bike already?"

"No, I just woke up."

"It's gone man."


"Your bike ain't there. It's gone.  Somebody must have taken it."

Fuck me.  Again.

As I slept, visions of a triple rebuild danced in my head.  All for naught.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Heavy Instrument (Part VI)

Part VI of Fuck Me Twice

(scroll down the blog for parts 1-5)

In the middle of the block between 53rd and 54th, I could see The Skunk.  From about 50 feet out she looked ok, but as I got closer things took a turn to the gruesome.  The tail light was broken, as were both signal lights, rear fender crinkled, and the rear tire flat.  It got worse as I came around the left side of the machine, the gas tank was dented to hell and had deep gouges from what I guessed was being dragged on its side, because the seat cover was shredded, and the left exhaust pipe ground through.  Gauges smashed, the headlight, mirrors and front signal lights as well, the front tire also flat.  Hewn wires dangled like vinyl covered copper entrails.  Someone had wantonly smashed every inch of the motorcycle with a heavy instrument, slashed the tires and left her to die in this grotesque wasteland.

I wasn't sure how to feel.  Of course there was anger.  I wanted to kick some motherfucker's teeth in.  But I was also afraid.  The sheer violence with which my motorcycle appeared have been attacked was shocking, could the perpetrator be lurking in the darkness somewhere, full of more malice and savagery?  A stranger in a strange land I was clearly not equipped (or armed) enough to handle, my soul turned a sickly cold.  Had my roommate Kevin not been there I may have just run away, a white streak in the black night.

"Can you ride it with two flat tires?", he asked.

"Really slowly."

"Start it up and let's go."

I swung the kickstart out and nearly buckled my goddamn knee when the lever refused to move.  The motor was locked up solid.  My other foot slipped and I finally noticed the dark wetness all over the tarmac beneath the bike.  The heartless bastard had pulled the transmission drain plug and cut the oil line from the injection tank and let the very lifeblood of the machine drain into the gutter, then he must have started the motor and let it run until it was finally overcome by friction.  Who in the hell steals something only to utterly destroy what little value it has?  I could have wept, if not for my overwhelming disgust.

It was dead.  About as dead as a motorcycle can get, and it's lifeless corpse had been raped and desecrated by some lowlife piece of shit.  You know how on those cop dramas the tough yet sensitive detectives are always telling the family they don't want to see the body of their loved one after a horrific murder?  Well, I got a feeling they are probably right.  It wasn't a particularly fancy motorcycle, and prior to this it had its bumps and bruises, but it was mine.  My hands had sprayed the paint, covered the seat, replaced the clutch and a thousand other smaller, forgotten chores.  We had cruised the back roads of upstate NY, ridden the interstate 400 miles to Philadelphia and hundreds of other jaunts.  And this is where it was going to end, some godforsaken city street, nothing more than a pile of petroleum oozing scrap?

It was too much.  Even with two flat tires, I was going to push that 400 plus pound thing back home.  I would rather have had a heart attack doing so than leaving it there, a forgotten casualty in a fucked-up war.

Not a good place to die, even for a 1976 GT380.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Recovery (Part V)

Part V of Fuck Me Twice

(Be sure to read parts IIIIII and IV)

Eventually the police got called, but no one showed up.  They took the VIN# and information over the phone and that was that.  A missing motorcycle simply does not rank very important in a city of 1.5 million people when some of those people deem it necessary to murder, rape, rob and beat their way through life.  A copy of the police report for the insurance company cost ten bucks.  I began to work my way through the seven stages of grief, but have to admit that the plan was to hold on to the anger part, for a long, long time.  Yet somehow a feeling remained that this was not over.

Two days later the phone rang at 1 am.  It was the police, my motorcycle had been found and needed to be removed from 53rd and Pentridge in West Philadelphia, before it was impounded.  I asked if it appeared rideable, to which they answered yes.  After thanking them heartily for finding the bike, I immediately called my roommate, who was spending the night at his girlfriend's house.  I told him I was headed out the door, helmet in hand, to bring The Skunk home.

"Did you say 53rd and Pentridge?  You can't go there."

"Why?", I asked.

"Because you're white and it's 1:30 am, that is some rough turf, you'll never make it.  I wouldn't go over there. Seriously, it makes our neighborhood look like the Mainline in Ardmore.".  My roommate was black and had lived many years in Philadelphia and Camden, so I took him as an expert in these matters, however, I would not be dissuaded.  Still young and dumb, with right on my side, what more did I need?

"Ok, if you are determined to do this, I better go with you.  Head out and I will meet you on the way."

The march was much longer than I imagined, roughly 3 miles.  The area rapidly declined as we pressed onward.  Burnt out cars, crackhouses, shooting galleries, abandoned buildings crumpling under the weight of neglect, bums standing around 55 gallon drum fireplaces.  It looked like a post-apocalyptic movie set.  Deep down we know places like this exist, but until you actually walk through one in the dead of night, it just doesn't seem real.  It certainly became real for me, needless to say it expands your worldview abruptly, violently, like a punch to the gut takes all your wind.  Any romantic notions I may have had about living in the 'hood' vanished as grim reality was revealed by the few working streetlights.

It ain't Kansas.


A Little Help?

Part IV of Fuck Me Twice

(Be sure to read parts III, and III)

I walked away from this confrontation with the two hood rats, my intestines and arteries still intact, if not my pride.  I never looked back, but listened intently for the sound of anyone approaching from behind.  No one did, and my heart rate dropped back below 200.  I was sweating profusely and if I had eaten anything today it surely would have parted company with the stomach by now.  The full measure of what had just occurred never hit me until months later, so deep was the preoccupation with locating my stolen motorcycle.

I passed by an abandoned convenience store with boarded up windows and a parking lot full of old mattresses that the neighborhood kids used as "ghetto trampolines" for the "hood Olympics", amongst the empty 40 bottles, cigarette butts, scratched off scratch-offs with no luck and rotting bags of garbage.  There were no olympics today, but something even better, my savior, I thought, or at least a little help.  Honor. Service. Integrity.  Philadelphia's finest sat in the lot, the 1994 Crown Victoria cruiser looking more like a white horse than squad car.

I approached slowly, because, having just escaped a beating at the hands of two thugs, there was no desire to set off any itchy trigger fingers either.  I attempted to explain to the officer drinking coffee that my motorcycle had been stolen.

"Did you call 911?", she asked.  I responded no and was informed that she could do nothing "without a call from dispatch".  I don't know why I was under the misguided impression that a public servant would actually help the public and asked her if she could call it in, to which she responded a resounding negative.  I asked if she knew where a payphone was, she shook her head.

"I guess I have to walk back to my apartment and call."  Still sitting there drinking her coffee she nodded without looking up.  So much for "Service".

This day was really starting to drag.

(Part V coming tomorrow)

Who says there's never a cop around when you need one?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fuck Me Twice III

Part III: A Long Day?

(read parts I Backstory and II The Crime by clicking on the links)

I ran back towards my building, narrowly avoiding the glass and garbage again, trying to formulate a plan.  I felt sick, violated, lost, and underneath all that, rage began to bloom red.  First of all, I needed clothes, a silly idiot in his underwear running up and down the streets of West Philadelphia, while not an unheard of occurrence in the City of Brotherly Love, was still sure to draw the wrong kinds of attention.  I rummaged on the floor of my room and, to quote Johnny Cash, found my cleanest dirty shirt, not bothering with socks or a belt, such was my haste.  I stumbled down the well worn steps and out onto the sidewalk, half expecting to see my motorcycle right where I left it, thus ending the nightmare before it had a chance to really gain steam.  No such luck.

In a semi-crazed state my search for The Skunk began.  I found the broken padlock that once immobilized the brake rotor, then remembering the steering lock, felt a glimmer of hope, the machine could not have been ridden or pushed very far because it could not be steered.  Five blocks to the north, nothing.  Five blocks to the south, nothing.  Checking alleyways and empty lots, in between the parked cars, some abandoned, burnt out, stripped rusty hulks.  Block by block my hope dwindled, and a new fear arose from the cracks in the pavement.

Two unsavory characters had born witness to my frantic scramblings throughout the neighborhood, my pants sagging due to lack of a belt and they decided to confront me with all the ghetto bluster they could manage.

"White boys can't be up in here sellin' dat shit, ain't your hood boy.  You gonna has a problem."

I must have stood there too long staring, trying to comprehend what the fuck he was saying, because he repeated himself, "You deaf, white boy? I says you can't be sellin' yo shit, you don't belong.  You gonna get fucked up.  My friend gone cut you".  The friend stood there grinning at me with the whitest teeth and emptiest eyes.  I silently prepared myself for death, wondering where it had all gone wrong....

The first one continued, "Shit man, this motherfucker ain't sellin', look at him he's just some crazy white boy got lost.  His shoes all tore up, not worth takin'.  You find your way home now white boy, go on back to your college for you get hurt."

I hiked my pants up, hung my head and walked away without saying a word, back towards the apartment.  It was going to be a long day.

(part IV tomorrow)

Where is it?


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fuck Me Twice II

Part II: The Crime

(read part one here: Backstory)

There was never reason to suspect that anyone had inappropriate intentions towards my 1976 Suzuki GT380 motorcycle.  It was ugly enough that passers-by would take it for abandoned.  In the interest of safety I used a padlock on the front brake rotor and also utilized the steering lock, a factory installed feature which prevents the handlebars from being turned, thus disabling steering.  Both of these deterrents had caused me rather embarrassing incidents when attempting to ride off without removing them, so I assumed any would-be thief should suffer the same fate.  And still, in my naive, whitebread country mind, the bike, on account of its sheer unseemliness simply could not be stolen.

It was a humid July night in Philadelphia, with the day's heat still radiating up from the dark, greasy asphalt.  My roommate and I sat on the rooftop of our dilapidated brownstone apartment building watching our Guatemalan  neighbors try to parallel park a Toyota Corolla.  This is more entertaining than it sounds, as they wedged that 1981 two-door up against another parked car and could not manage to free it before causing all kinds of damage to both vehicles, including the loss of a front bumper.  They had knocked my Suzuki down on two previous occasions, neither causing any real damage, at least none that would be noticed amongst twenty years of bumps and bruises from previous owners.  When finally the Guatemalans got the car free and parked it was well past 1am, and I retired to my bedroom to sleep.

I rolled and wrestled for hours, only managing to doze for a few minutes at a time, so awful was the heat and humidity in our non-air conditioned apartment.  I prayed for a thunderstorm to break the spell, with no luck.  At 4 am I went to the bathroom, urinated and splashed some tepid water from the faucet on my face and neck.  Something prompted me to stick my head out the bathroom window, which gave a clear view of the motorcycle under the dim streetlamp.  It waited silently next to the curb, and I thought I really need to go for a ride...

Instead I returned to bed and slept for about 4 hours, uninterrupted except the strange dreams in which I was vaguely panicked about something, but not panicked enough to wake up.  As the morning sun heated my room to levels even more uncomfortable than the night before, I rose and returned again to the bathroom.  I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and a voice inside my head told me to look out the window, which I did.  Odd, I can't see my motorcycle.  I must have parked it up the street a little more than I thought...

I started down the stairs still in my boxer shorts as a queasy realization began to slowly settle into my stomach like indigestion.  Still half-asleep, my brain was barely beginning to comprehend that something was wrong.  Apparently the optimistic portion woke up first, because some voice kept telling me that my motorcycle had to be there and I was starting to worry for nothing.

Out the side door of the apartment, into the alleyway, narrowly avoiding slicing my bare feet on broken glass, tripping over someone's goddamn garbage bags, finally making it to the street as the queasiness moved upwards causing my heart to race and pound and threaten to burst.  Standing on the sidewalk, naked except for a pair of boxer shorts with red hearts on them. Glance up the street, nothing.  Glance down the street, nothing.  My motorcycle was gone.

Fuck me.

(Part III coming soon!)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fuck Me Twice

Part I: Backstory

I lived in a fairly rough neighborhood in West Philadelphia during the mid-90s.  Rough enough for me to be concerned about my lily white ass the day they read the OJ Simpson verdict.  I will never forget the uproar and clamor of joy that shook the foundations of the community as they announced: "We the jury find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson not guilty of murder.".  People were dancing in the streets, setting off fireworks left over from July 4th (couldn't afford to waste the ammo shooting anything else), smashing empty Laser malt liquor bottles and celebrating as if their 40 acres and a mule had finally come through.  It sent a shiver up my spine to consider what might have happened had the verdict been guilty.  Someone tagged a wall near my building with the chilling statement: "If OJ burns, Philly burns.".

The piece of shit motorcycle I rode at the time was the remains of a 1976 Suzuki GT380, dubbed "The Skunk" by an old girlfriend.  The name's meaning was two-fold, first it came from the crappy rattle-can black with a white stripe down the top paint job I did on the gas tank, secondly from the cloud of smoke the two-stroke triple liked to belch forth whenever the throttle was opened.  I was unaware of how to properly adjust an oil injection pump in those days, and since it was only the drivers behind me that had to deal with the smokescreen, I left well enough alone.  Cut down on the tailgating.

I rode this thing 400 miles from upstate NY to Philadelphia, losing the kickstart lever while passing through Syracuse.  Lack of electric start meant I had to bump it off at every fuel stop.  I remember a bunch of middle-aged dudes riding Goldwings laughing at me as I ran alongside, then jumped on the luggage laden machine and let out the clutch lever, praying it would fire.  (If you are unfamiliar with proper motorcycle bump-start technique, read about it here.)  The shocks were shot, the front forks weeped oil, helping the bike handle like a U-Haul with six flat tires on an iced over slalom course.  The tachometer didn't work, the speedometer read 65mph at a standstill, it may have had brakes but I never actually felt them do anything.  The seat was recovered with vinyl material from a 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle that I accidentally set on fire in my backyard (story for another time).  It had newish tires on it, installed by a dealer who didn't bother to balance them, when I asked why the service manager said, "You want us to balance the wheels on that thing?".  Needless to say it danced around pretty good when you hit about 65 (or 130 mph according to the wacky speedo).  But it was paid for ($300!), it ran ok, and it was all mine.

Not for long.

I have no pictures of "The Skunk", but this is a GT380, to give you an idea.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Unto Death


For fans of Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.  Unfortunately we don't know the question.

For the more pious among us, from Psalm 42: "Why my soul, are you so downcast?  Why are you so disturbed within me?"

There are forty-two US gallons in a barrel of oil.

42 is the only jersey number retired by all major league baseball teams to honor Jackie Robinson.  I'm not much of a baseball fan, but even I know the significance of/behind this.

In Japanese culture, the number 42 is considered unlucky because the numerals, when pronounced separately: shi ni, (four two), sound like the phrase, "unto death".  (I have to confess to having had a hearty, if somewhat fey chuckle upon reading this, the reason for which will become apparent momentarily.)

Ultimately, as of today, I am forty-two years old.  Not really a milestone and I am not one to lend much credence to numbers, symbols or the concept of acting my age anyways, but I suppose at least some notice must be paid to the passing of years, lest they pile up like damp circulars on the stoop of an abandoned house until the porch collapses in a rotted heap.  Therefore if the Japanese are correct, and it is now "unto death" you can bet your ass I am headed there top speed, helmet on, visor down and grinning like a fucking madman.  

AMA Hall of Famer, Steve Morehead #42 "The Findlay Flyer"

Monday, February 1, 2016


It seems like I end up riding alone most of the time.  Probably not the wisest or safest choice, but if it comes down to that or sitting at home, I will take the risk.  Used to be we would make plans and then people would flake or show up hours late with lame excuses.  I really don't have time for that kind of bullshit any longer.  I spend five days out of every seven accommodating others wishes, I will be damned if I am going to do it during the precious few hours the modern work week has seen fit to allow me.  It's my time, not to be wasted by others.  If that makes me a grumpy, unlikeable old sod, I'm ok with that.

The thing is, after spending countless hours off-road solo, you get to like it, even need it.  There can be actual disappointment when someone else shows up.  I almost dread the texts "hey, we're going riding!".  And the sound of a barely muffled 4-stroke just off my back tire can send me into an apoplectic rage.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a complete misanthrope.  I don't mind group riding, and there have been some really good rides with good guys, but in the end, the best time is spent alone.

It lacks the pressure of the group ride, where often bad habits and shitty technique are the order of the day as everybody tries to "go fast".  I am not getting roosted with dirt and rocks by some moron whose idea of "traction control" is to dig a deeper trench. You don't have to stop every five minutes for cigarette breaks, piss breaks, text honey breaks, check the damn score of some game breaks!  I come out here to disconnect, my phone serves only two roles on my rides: one as an emergency contact device and two to take crappy pictures to go along with these lengthy diatribes.

 There is no breaking your neck trying to keep up with a leader determined to smoke the rest of the group and no waiting up for slower riders.  If I want to run the same loop twenty times, there is no one to bitch about it, if I get bored with the trail I can make my own, set my pace and my direction according to whatever whim or fancy moves me that day.

The solitary life has its drawbacks, the biggest of which I mentioned previously, safety.  I don't need to go into detail, but it's always nice to have somebody there if you bounce yourself off a tree.  And if you are ok it's reassuring to have some grinning moron looking down at you asking if you can do it again because he didn't get it on the GoPro.  Yesterday I got stuck in an icy, water-filled ditch and spent about twenty minutes trying to get free, a second pair of hands would have been welcome.  And of course when you pull off a slick maneuver or make a heroic save, you want at least one other person to have seen your amazingness.

Despite these caveats, I continue to ride alone.  Quite often, what you lose by trying to stay safe is greater than what you risk by not.  Someone once asked me if riding motorcycles was everything.  I answered no, obviously it's not everything, but it is enough.

Should I want to share this with anyone else?