Wednesday, December 4, 2013
It was so still, so improbably and artistically placed, so… statuesque… that I very nearly removed my helmet and took a self-portrait with it, my lips pursed upon the sculpture’s snout**.
If you happen to be riding your two wheeled machine through the everglades, your front wheel won’t turn five times before you have to swerve. One, two, three… there they lay, sunning themselves like lazy (or stealthy?) beagles right next to, or even on, the narrow stretch of asphalt. I had the opportunity to poke any number of alligators in the eye with my naked toe*** as I rode past, had I been so inclined. I was not. So inclined. Instead, I was unreasonably longing for my boots.
I’ve said it before; fear is a funny thing. Take, for example, this recent scene: a gated community in south Florida, accessible only by vehicle RFID tag, secret handshake with a Cuban guard, or [cue ominous melody in the cello section], a canal that slithers unnoticed under the wall… You sit, over-nourished once again by Mom’s Best, and ponder a late night run. What, do you suppose, does mom caution you against? And when you are abruptly assailed in the dark by the sharp, watery bite of a well timed irrigation system, what does your mind cry out?
Seriously, my mom will unthinkingly garden with her back turned to the long, reptile concealing grasses at the edge of the canal (“Pffft, all they do is sleep.”), but will not walk outside after dark, lest she be attacked by a bear****. You can decide for yourself, but I stand steadfastly, proudly, even, next to my fear of alligators over that of bears, at least in this environment.
All concern for my personal safety aside, the everglades, like so many of the places I ride through, unleash in me a rush of gratitude and humility, that I might get to experience yet another wondrous and strangely beautiful land in what feels to be such an intimate fashion.
But for the first time in my two-wheeling life, I experienced a novel celebration of the straight road. An unusual reverence for the flat road.
I was, of course, riding a bicycle. Ding ding!
* This is The Year of the Big Commute. I'm working in AZ and FL this season.
** No kidding, I thought for sure that first one was clever national park artwork.
*** Yes, flip flops. I’ll ‘splain in a minute.
****Okay, to be fair, there was something on the news last night about another bear attack.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Today I had just enough time for a quick jaunt to Ironwood Forest National Monument, which, incidentally, not being staffed in the first place, isn’t affected by the government shutdown. This time, Li’l Burro, ever curious, chose a new point of access - Manville Road. It was a test ride of sorts, I with new pants*, he with new shoes.
|Li'l Burro contemplates his cousins.|
|Yes, they even sang their sprightly, squeaky song for us.|
|Around here, grass is a photographable event. Grainy, artsy style no extra charge.|
Funny how the very moment you find yourself wallowing about in sand deep enough to make walking difficult, much less riding, or dragging your motorcycle out of it, is the same moment you realize you should be headed back home getting ready for your gig.
When I have a successful fall, I like to spring up, hands in air**, legs together, back arched, like a 15 year old gymnast – front!, left!, right! – just to emphasize the cleverness of my little trick. Ten!
*I’d been putting off buying a pair of riding pants better suited for Li’l Burro, because I’d been hoping Olympia Moto Sports would make their X Moto suit for women. “Are ya gonna make it for 2013? Huh? Huh? How ‘bout 2014?” The answer remains a steadfast, “No.” But since I seem to be putting my street leathers at risk in the dirt and mud, I broke down and bought a pair of Firstgear TPG Escape Pants (what a name!) on clearance. Not quite what I wanted, but they work, and fit perfectly. I’m pretty sure I got the last pair of size 6 in the universe.
** I totally stole Pilot Guy's moves here. And I'm keepin' 'em.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Half Pint and KamperBob invited Li’l Burro on a play date last March. Our RSVP: Yes, please!
First, an aerial reconnaissance run. Because I can. Thanks, Pilot Guy!
Little sporty Super Viking aircraft can lean a good 60 degrees and flip flop left and right, just like little sporty motorcycles, if one is so inclined. We are. Another comforting similarity to motorcycles: splats in the field of view.
I don’t know how to drive Pilot Guy’s camera or aeroplane. Yet.
Li’l Burro’s play date isn’t starting off too well. Operator error with the alarm clock. Forgotten sunglasses. The meet up-fuel up spot was hard to find. That happens when it’s been freshly renovated. With a wrecking ball. Oops.
It’s been a long time since Li’l Burro and I have gotten our hooves dirty. Work has been just too… workish. I’m a little unsure, but Redington pass is easy and Li’l Burro remembers his moves. Just what we need.
Prompt Blogger KamperBob is on a hunt for crested saguaros. Why not? I have my own cactus finds.
Photography fun burns time. There’s snow up in them thar hills. Li’l Burro is afraid of the dark and - ouch! – his rubbery hooves are shedding knobs. Hm. Tomorrow is another day, says Half Pint. Control Road up the back side of Mount Lemmon can wait, agrees Li’l Burro. Pizza, beer, a lazy walk with canine friends console.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
|The Beagle is overcome with emotion.|
Welcome home, my little Italian Princess.
What's that? Track Day tomorrow? Don't mind if we do!
Friday, March 8, 2013
Leave the snow behind and go riding in the air, that’s what!
Pilot Chris does Important Stuff while I stay out of the way and document the day.
The pre-flight check feels remarkably similar to a motorcycle pre-flight check. There are other familiar tasks, too…
... like grabbing the keys on your way out the door...
… man powered reverse out of the parking spot...
… and fueling up.
|Okay, yeah, surely the price of this part of the day bears no similarity at all to motorcycle riding.|
By this point, I am hopping up and down with excitement. And I really do hop up and down (and clap, too!) if I’m excited enough.
|Hm, now what?|
We’re ready to roll! I’m a little nervous, but as we pick up speed and the nose of this little Piper Cherokee levitates into the air, it’s nearly impossible not to joyously cry out the obvious: “We’re flying!”
There’s a lump in my throat. It’s so, so beautiful.
The lump goes away, but I am still speechless. I even decline the chance to fly the plane myself. There's simply too much magic outside my window today for that.
And only now does the obvious question occur to me. Could a small motorcycle fit into a small plane? The answer, it appears, is a definite maybe…
|Li'l Burro and I contemplate entry into a Bellanca Super Viking. Thanks to fellow blogger DG for this shot.|
Imagine the long weekend possibilities, oh my!
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Have a marshmallow fight with someone you love today! What follows is up to you.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I’ve packed up, fueled up, checked my tire pressure, re-loaded my grocery supplies, and am ready for a 200 mile sporting run of the Sierra Nevadas. Yesterday’s survey of Lake Tahoe was lovely, but a proper motorcycle tour always balances sightseeing with aggressive riding, and I’m looking forward to what I know will be one of the highlights of my summer.
But I'm disappointed to quickly discover that this blustery day is not just going to make for some cold riding. I’m blown off my line on a 10 mile an hour switchback, and 60 miles into my ride, I already know what I’ll be writing: 200 miles of glorious, twisty road, and I spent the day fighting to keep my Ducati on the pavement. The wind, if anything, is picking up, and I can’t bear the thought of the lost opportunity. Sporting run postponed, I spend the day holed up along with seemingly every other motorcyclist on the road, catching up on business, instead. I need to check the weather, and since tomorrow looks promising, line up another night of camping in the area, for Sierra Run Take Two. I shrug and face reality. I am going to have to traverse the desert again, and I might as well use this lost day to come up with the least painful strategy to do so. It takes quite a bit of time, checking routes, distances, and weather reports with my slow phone and now well worn maps, but I formulate a plan. It's almost too good to be true, but the forecast for Death Valley looks shockingly mild for the end of June – barely 100 degrees! – so I opt to avoid some of the boring freeways and cross through the national park instead. Ironically, I’ll likely be able to cool off in the rain projected to fall in northern Arizona at about the time I roll into Flagstaff.
While it may have brought a halt to my sporting day, I’ve got inside intel on the Tahoe area, and the wind won’t keep me from my planned dinner destination of JT Basque in Garderville, NV.
I have a passerby take a photo with my phone, so I can email it to friends who I know have shared many lively, convivial repasts here. It will surely make them smile.
I quickly see the attraction of this place. While I choose my main course from just a few items, all manner of extras (including wine if I could have indulged) come to the table freely, each one a more delightful surprise than the next.
I’ve ordered rabbit, but first comes bread and a big bowl from which I ladle as much hot soup as I’d like. Soup is good food. Especially after my breezy ride.
Now – what’s this? – a beef stew, beans, a green salad, all surprises to me.
Finally my rabbit arrives, with a healthy serving of fries. Is this all for me?
They must be reading my mind, because after a good meal, I like a little sweet bite.
This isn’t the very best food I’ve ever eaten, but it’s comforting, rustic, and tasty, and the merry, vibrant, genial feel of it all makes this a place I’d like to return to, with a warm circle of friends sharing the bounty of this good table.
I ride back to my home for the evening. The waves and clouds on Fallen Leaf Lake belie the windy day.
Tonight it’s my turn to be the friendly, helpful camp neighbor. The cheerful trio of campers next to me is not equipped for the cold, and I help them cover the screens and holes in their awkward piecemeal tent with blankets and zip ties. I am rewarded with songs around the camp fire, and a pleasant bedtime snack of wine and s’mores.