Thursday, May 31, 2018

Why Suffer? Part I

I'm as much a hedonist as anyone.  Food, sex, entertainment, etc., are all things I enjoy and pursue, as does most of humanity, in varying forms and capacities.  We are, by design, pleasure seeking, pain avoiding creatures.  Were we not, the species wouldn't have survived.  This may, in the long run, prove our undoing, but that is a different discussion.

Riding a dirt-bike can generally be thought of as a pleasurable pursuit.  There is great joy in twisting a throttle, feeling the rear wheel spin and the front wheel get light.  It's the reason men in their thirties, forties, fifties and beyond keep at it, despite weight of age and call of grave.  It's just plain fun, that never gets old.  Generally speaking...under normal circumstances...

The mantle of competition, however, is not wont to provide "normal circumstances", in fact it would seem as if the great racing spirit squeals with delight at creating a polar opposite.  Participants pit themselves against the whims of a random universe that knows not pity or mercy, forearmed with naught but experience, wits and luck to assist in dodging cosmic curve-balls intent on knocking your block off. 

The curve-ball for Race #5 of the 2018 Virginia Championship Hare Scrambles Series was surely going to be the heat and humidity, coupled with a course so diabolically tight and rutted it promised only misery.  Hedonism disappeared quickly in the rear-view mirror, giving way to a ghoulishly dank, hot kind of hell.  Before the green flag flew, my stomach was sick and my head swimming, and it was only going to get worse. 

One of the dictionary definitions of masochism is: "gratification gained from pain, deprivation, degradation, etc., inflicted or imposed on oneself".  The key word being "gratification".  This was not going to be enjoyable or gratifying in the least.  Every single second held only the spectre of a new nightmare.  I was still going to do it.  Why?  Why indeed...

It occurred to me that I just might have a fucking screw loose...

A picture is worth a thousand words, but this one leaves some out, like: dying, hallucination, poached brain, dehydration, drowning, among others.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Simple Honesty

"I never trust a bike I can't see through." - Jay Leno

We live in a world of bewildering complication.  Everyday held in our hands are machines capable of amazing tasks, yet all but a very few would be at a loss to explain how they actually work.  The same goes for the vast majority of devices that make our modern life so...comfortable.  Flick a switch and there is instant entertainment, instant coffee, instant transportation, instant gratification.  And when these things cease the ability to do so, instant refuse.

I am still too young to have lived in a time where people owned things for very long.  In the late 1980s my grandmother had an International Harvester refrigerator from the '40s.  That heavy bastard had been lugged around for more moves than you could count and worked perfectly after nearly half a century. She couldn't understand the need to buy a new one.  I'm hard pressed to think of anything I've owned for twenty...scratch that...ten years, let alone forty.  It just doesn't happen.

So what does this have to do with motorcycles, and the quote at the top of the page?  Frankly, everything.  As technology becomes increasingly complex, and disposable, so too do motorcycles, hence not being able to 'trust a bike you can't see through'.  More than merely a statement regarding the plastic wrapping so many of today's two wheeled offerings are presented in, it refers to the obfuscation of the machine's soul, the engine, the inner workings, via computers, ride-by-wire, sensors, ABS, etc..  When a man can "see" how a thing works, understand the movings and meshings, he can know it, fix it, feel what it is doing.  It becomes an extension of the body, a part of the one whose labors keep it rolling down the road.  Sometimes the best answer is the least complicated one.

I'm no Neo-Luddite, or fool to think that technology won't continue it's march until even humanity becomes obsolete, but one can't help but wonder what it was like to hold on to a thing.

Because it worked.




Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Necessity Is the Mother....Fucker

"You love tinkering Kris, you are always working on something!" -Too many idiots to count

Let me start by saying I am not a mechanic, or a tuner, or an engineer.  I'm a goddamned hack.  Hand me any kind of tool and I'm just as likely to end up with a bigger pile of broken shit than to actually fix something.  If, over the decades, I have gained a sort of crude Cro-Magnon proficiency with implements of repair and their wielding it is simply due to ceaseless repetition as required by necessity.  Simply put, shit keeps breaking and, not being well-heeled enough to pay someone with more inclination, education, aptitude and dexterity to take care of the dirty work, the tasks fall to me.  They are not enjoyable.  I grit my teeth, skin my knuckles and swear my way through them.

I will not speak about the satisfaction of fixing something yourself.  There is very little to be had, if any, usually because no sooner is one leak in the dike fixed than another springs.  Such is the paradox of being one who attempts to fix in a throwaway world.  There is too much to be done and not enough hours or energy in the day.

Recently, I dated a woman who by the third meeting always had some project or repair waiting for me when I came over.  With grease still under my fingernails from trying to take care of my own day's debacles, it fell to me to assist with hers.  In the effort to ingratiate myself to the conniving minx, I became her free labor handyman. Take care learning to use a screwdriver, else it ensure you will always be getting unpleasantly screwed.

So if you see me spinning a wrench, instead of a wheel, it might be best to keep your mouth shut, move along and remember there are much better things I'd rather be doing.

Necessity is a mother fucker indeed....

I'll take riding over wrenching any damn day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The True Teachers

"Education is what remains after one forgets what one has learned in school." -Albert Einstein

 Ah yes, there's always some goddamn appreciation day or week or month that we are supposed to be celebrating.  This is "Teacher Appreciation Week".  I couldn't think of any traditional teachers worthy of such, quite the opposite, most of the "educators" I encountered during my school years are remembered with disdain.  Boring, didactic, prison guard pedants, regurgitators of trite bullshit, much incorrect and colored by personal biases, they were hard to tolerate, let alone appreciate.  So fuck them.  

The ones who really taught me never had masters degrees or certificates and would scoff at being thought of as "teacher".  They were racers, tuners, mechanics, artists, rejects and rednecks, punks, misfits, those Glen E. Friedman would call "Fuck You Heroes".  Many humble, unsung, unappreciated, unrecognized giants living among mere mortals, with quiet, hard won wisdom, kept close to the vest, the kind that you will not find in the hallowed halls of ivy leaguedom.  Men whose only tenure exists in the indelible mark they leave on your soul.

The true teachers.  Let us raise a middle finger high in the only kind of tribute they would appreciate.  Thank you.  And fuck you too.         

One of my favorite FYH's and "teachers" Phil Lee.  RIP.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Paying My Way

"But my hopes are so much higher.  Don't count me out, I'm a survivor." -Dropkick Murphys "Paying My Way"

Yup, '18 has been downhill.  So far....

This is my main jet.  This is also the piece of crap that blocked my main jet.  In the middle of a race.  Wonderful

Sometimes if it wasn't for pain, I wouldn't feel anything at all.

Always at the worst fucking time.  On the way to the track.

My reward for a little pre-race practice.  Lovely.
Not getting any younger.  Not getting anywhere.

I think I can.  I think I can....nope.

Vines are fucking fun.

Still going down.

Sometimes all you can say is Fuck It.