I don’t like to plan. I like to make lists. Then I forget my list or otherwise lose it and I end up winging the whole affair. Plans are worse. I start with good intentions, being a good soldier of the organized and prepared, then I find myself getting mired in the details, where a devil is rumored to live; my brain does somersaults over a bunch of unknown variables, I fall behind schedule before actually falling behind schedule. This, then, marks the end of the planning phase and it predictably transitions into the winging phase. Recognizing the doom that besets the willing in a pattern of historic repeatability, I said “fuck this” a long time ago and embraced my inner shooting-from-the-hip gunslinger of half-baked ideas. Besides, where is the fun in following a meticulously researched itinerary? That’s like being at work. Screw that. No adventure to be found in the overly managed lifestyle. Hence, I have a tendency to get derailed and end up looking like the flaky, unreliable sort.
As to why my next article is late? Where to begin? Ah, riding > writing. In other words, I procrastinated writing my next piece in this re-emergence trilogy of mine and went riding the rocket instead of writing about riding the rocket. Come Monday, I’m on a tight schedule, but I am prepared to knock it out of the park nonetheless. Prepared with a touch of trepidation. As I sip coffee sitting on my front stoop enjoying the mid-morning sun of late summer (fuck, it’s hot as hell already!), pondering random words made into sentences and those then turned laboriously into somewhat sensical paragraphs a 5th grader should be able to follow, my rescue comes in form of a phone call from Athens. The Wing Woman has found a newborn kitten in the bushes in front of her office building. By the time I got my crap done, packed the bike and am geared up to ride the 90 miles like a hellion to her house, the kitten count has gone from one to three. I am coronated surrogate queen, one nipple (teat) short of knowing what to do. We are both clueless, but we pull it off. The feeding schedule is rough: every two hours. It takes roughly 30 minutes to get through the whole kitten gang, then cleanup and prep; by the time you drift off to sweet sleep the alarm wakes your tired ass up again, not that you were really asleep yet anyway. By the second full day of playing queen mother of feline angels to three fluffy furballs that weigh a little over 160g per helpless purr, it’s like Zombieville around here.
They are now 22 days old. We are on Day 10 of being responsible of meeting their every need. The feeding schedule has relaxed to four-hour intervals with playtime and socialization in between. Their development is an amazing journey to witness. Every day they are a little bigger. Every day they are a little more able. Every day their personality is a little bit more unique. Every day we discover they have learned something new about being mini-cats.
The queen has been summoned. She must prepare her milk for her teeny charges… I leave you, then, with some adorable kitty porn. Caution: Cuteness Overload.
And now you know what happened here. We haven’t ridden a motorbike in so long, the battery in Wing Woman’s Viffer died a slow and lonely death sitting neglected in her garage. She was so desperate, she rode her DRZ to the limiter on new knobbies doing 80mph (as far as I could tell) on the tarmac. After all that abuse, it tried to die on her, too. Mine still runs, but I have forgotten how to ride…
About 75 miles into what was supposed to be a 250-mile daylong romp through the mountains my play date with five other like minded individuals with a need for speed came to an unexpected end when I decided to ruin my day by tossing the S1000RR into the woods.
The pace was again relaxed and speeds were nowhere near what they were previously as there was a little traffic and we had just taken a twenty-minute pit stop a few miles back. I was the fourth bike in our group of six, approaching a mildly downhill left-hand turn with a slightly negative camber. I’ve ridden this road a handful of times before and enjoyed it. It’s a scenic little stretch of deliciously curvy asphalt winding its way through a dreamy forested area before opening up and climbing over a mountain range. Pure sport bike heaven.
It is hot, the midday sun is high in the sky and a gentle breeze ripples the luscious foliage of the forest as the sunlight filters through the trees and dapple the road ahead in a mesmerizing kaleidoscope pattern of shadows and light. It is a soul-touchingly tranquil sight to behold. Even though Mother Nature’s light-show makes it difficult to focus. The constant shift between shade and sunlight doesn’t help matters in depth perception either and the glorious end result: you can’t see shit, your eyes get tired from the strain, your brain hurts and you now know why cruisers like to cruise. They are bathing in the serene and basking in their machines’ overly restrictive limitations. But none of that speed demon hating serenity was even an issue. This particular scene is just vivid in my mind’s eye for some reason. How peaceful it was, how relaxed I felt. How I was in the moment, content and — dare I say, happy. Couldn’t have come into that corner all that hot, if I actually remember my surroundings. I never remember the scenery. Scenery? What scenery? We ain’t here because it’s pretty. We’re here with an entirely different agenda. I could tell you all you’ve ever wanted to know about surface conditions, curve geometry, and road hazards, though. But that waterfall back there? Didn’t see it. Don’t care. That’s probably also the reason why I hardly ever know where exactly I am, what road I’m on, or why I get lost a lot (don’t really listen to my GPS either). I also have a tendency to blow past my turn-offs, oblivious until it dawns on me (hopefully not too) many miles later that something is amiss. Where was I? Oh yes, I remember…
I am coming up on that fateful left-hander. I brake, tip the bike in and am giddy with the realization that I’m about to drag a knee through a left turn on a public highway. That never happens. Ever. I’m too short and my rearsets are too far up. Oh, and my lefts also suck. Twice my knee has kissed public-use pavement in a right turn. Twice. On the fabled “Tail of the Dragon”, in the same bumpy, gouged-by-hard-parts crap curve that I don’t even like all that much. The only thing that particular shit corner has going for it? It’s banked past the apex and exits into a fun uphill kink, if you’re going south that is; going north it is an animal of a different ilk.
My childlike excitement quickly gives way to perplexity when it occurs to me that the angle is all wrong. I can’t really pinpoint the cause for my concern, but something doesn’t quite “look right” or feel right, for that matter. As I am lost in wonderment, it suddenly dawns on me that I am not hanging off. I had no business getting excited over left-side knee dragging action in the first place. I was sitting sedately center, lazy as a lump on a log. What else didn’t I do? No customary downshift to keep the bike from gaining speed by use of engine compression; yes, I was lazy and made the conscious decision at the last second not to, after all we’re not pushing the pace here or anything. At this same instant my left knee touches down, followed in quick succession by various other body parts that aren’t supposed to (not on a good day anyway). Thigh, hip, elbow, upper arm. Complacency turns into an unstoppable slide into the wild. I am separated from my bike, slide off the edge of the road onto the narrow shoulder and then am unceremoniously flung into the great beyond after my Beemer. The only cognizant thought I manage is an acute awareness that this isn’t going to be any fun at all, accompanied by a lingering sense of obtuseness still presiding over the fuckery currently in progress. I may have yelled “oh shit!”, or maybe I just thought it as I flew over the side of the embankment and dropped from sight.
Things get a bit fuzzy here. I think I may have changed direction once or twice mid-hurl. It’s dark and I can’t see anything. I don’t feel anything either. When I come to my senses again, I am disoriented. It takes me a moment before I come to the conclusion that the world isn’t upside down, rather I am; standing on my head, buried in leaves and sticks by self-insertion and with boots sticking out of the underbrush. I have dirt in my mouth. I wonder what my predicament must look like from above. I have dusty grime in my nostrils and it tickles to breathe. My disjointed musings are interrupted by a screaming one-word thought that pierces my reverie and gets me moving in a hurry in an effort to right myself and extract various body parts from their entanglement: “SPIDERS!” I struggle to invert myself, whilst working to keep a lid on the rising panic in my chest. I finally manage to get on my feet and slowly turn around.
The S1000RR came to rest maybe ten feet from where I am now standing, emotionless and quite detached. The thought of spiders forgotten as quickly as it had come. The Pirate is taking a dirt nap on its left side, nose facing forward. I make my way there, stumbling and falling once, hit the kill switch and turn the ignition key to the “off” position. I notice I’ve landed in a scattered pile of old bike parts. Not the first one to play this game, am I? I see your Harley and raise you a BMW. Great. I make out what looks to be an old headlight cover and a broken off rusty floorboard, both of which the guys later haul out of this graveyard to tease me with. Yeah, I have wicked friends. Fucking sickos.
I turn away, there is nothing here I can do, and begin climbing the steep slope, pulling myself up by roots and tree branches. I keep sliding back down the hill, my boots unable to gain purchase in the loose dirt and thick covering of leaves. Someone’s arm appears over the edge above and I reach out to clasp the offered helping hand as I am clawing my way up the hill. As I reach the top, I see my Wing Woman, standing there next to one of my other buddies who had pulled me out of my predicament, lit cigarette in hand, which she shoves into my face, inserting it between my lips, stating confidently: “You’ll be needing that.” I had quit smoking a few weeks ago. Don’t mind if I do. Please and thank you.
After a while the dissociative state I’ve been enjoying thus far leaves me and I start freaking out, pacing, repeatedly exclaiming that I need to call Joe, my husband, but I’ve lost my phone. Frantically searching, but not really seeing. “I need my phone. I need my phone. Have to call Joe. My phone. I have to call Joe. I need my phone…” Two strangers had also stopped to see if they could help and they joined in the search for the phone, which was eventually found. I was told that I was in a state of shock. I kept reassuring everybody that I was OK. My phone was recovered by the stranger on the Gixxer and was elevated to Hero of the Moment status. Holding onto my phone, I quickly calmed down again, but I didn’t make the call. Not then.
While most of the guys were trying to figure out how to recover my bike, I surveyed the scene of this latest example of a “failure to complete the turn” in hopes of determining what exactly had happened. Knowing the cause of a crash is hugely important to me. It means the difference between learning from a mistake and being at the mercy of repeating it. One long skinny skid mark running parallel to an even skinnier white line are the only visible signs of my premature get-off. Well, the shoulder looked like a wild pig was hunting for truffles, but otherwise there was nothing really to see. A fresh scar six foot up a nearby tree and a broken off rotting corpse of another tree were also blamed on my recent display of motorcycling prowess. Someone said that the skid mark is from a locked up front wheel and the white line was caused by my left rearset, more than likely. The missing chunk of wood six foot up a tree gave cause to wild speculation of flying BMWs and how this feat could possibly be accomplished. No other clues on the pavement were in evidence as to the possible cause of the crash.
It took six hot and sweaty dudes pushing, pulling and dragging the Beemer quite some distance through the woods to reach a spot where the forest floor was closer to road level and the incline of the embankment was shallow enough to get the bike back up on the road. The Pirate was trashed. The nose was smashed, the fairings on one side were almost ripped off the bike and cracked and broken on the other. One mirror was missing (so were several other miscellaneous bits), the front brake reservoir was shattered, the radiator was hideously cracked, the front forks were tweaked, it was generously leaking fluid of every flavor. She was a damned mess. The sight of her was so pitiful I wanted to cry.
But enough of that, we needed to get the heck out of there, before the cops showed up and the real fun began. The kind of fun that involves getting a de facto speeding ticket and whatever other citations they like to retroactively hand out to bikers who wad up their wheels for whatever reason. What a load of crap! Anyway, after a little jiggling and yanking to get the bike into neutral from whatever gear she was in, she cranked right up. Yeah! That’s my baby. German engineering at its finest. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking and all that. When it came time for me to ride her to a safer location, I lost my composure yet again and proceeded to freak the fuck out. Nope. Can’t do it. Can’t ride her. I have no brakes, a broken shifter, mangled levers and I left my courage down below along with one mirror and the left-side fairing panel. One of the dudes rode it to an undisclosed location for me. I also refused to ride his bike to follow, mumbling something about not being emotionally ready to wreck another one in the same afternoon. He rode it for me and he had to ride bitch back with another guy in our group to get his own bike. Yeah. I’ll never live that one down and neither will he. Not with the crowd I hang out with. 🙂
And that is the story of how the Pirate Named Trouble was left for dead 300 miles from home and I walked away with a bunch of ugly bruises, a neck injury which is mostly healed, and a load of psychological problems for which I’m still undergoing self-directed treatment. 😉
Oh, and one last thing: Wear your fucking gear. ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time)! The one lesson you should take away from this: even if you’re not riding hard, or getting sporty, or pushing your limits, you can still go down at any time, when you least expect it. Had I’ve not worn my full race gear and a full-face helmet, I’d be either dead or a vegetable someone has to spoon feed and then later wipe my ass. Uncool.
Today, two years ago, after over 35,000 awesome miles on the 2010 BMW S1000RR, I threw it off a mountain and that was the end of it. The end of an era. Chapter closed. Turn the page. Oh, wait; you can’t, can you? I haven’t written a single word since May 21st, 2012. Over three years of the story left untold. Admittedly, I stopped writing because I started to feel like I had nothing to say, and when you have nothing to contribute it is best to shut the hell up and let someone else do the talking or sit around in meditative silence and enjoy some quiet time. A truly alien concept in a world that doesn’t stop talking, I know. Cacophony reigns supreme, over-stimulation is king, and silence is awkward. But I digress. I am again ready to add my voice to the proverbial choir; I haven’t, after all, bought a car and called it quits with stupid fast motorcycles. The passion never ebbed, but the motivation to share had definitely dried up. I return to you then, my dear neglected readers, armed with three years worth of knowledge gained, a healthy dose of hindsight, the same sick sense of humor and “I do what I want” attitude, a tome full of stories about as well organized as my suspension setup notes, a collection of milestones which may or may not include a stolen mile marker on an Interstate highway somewhere in South Carolina, a renewed excitement to share my journey and roadside adventures, excessive wordiness and the blatant use of the longest runon sentences in recorded (blogoshpere) history. Stay tuned for the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s gonna be a wild ride.
What does this sudden reemergence of writing enthusiasm mean for this blog in the future? A change of direction, a change of focus, and of course, a visual revamp and probably a change of name. Out with the old (not literally, of course) and in with the new, as they say. Gradually and over time, as it goes with all half-baked ideas. 😉
- Miss Busa Tested: While I was otherwise preoccupied, I’ve had plenty of stuff and shit to try out, stress test (and crash in or with) and form an opinion about. Gear reviews will keep on coming.
- The Garage Party: Motorcycle maintenance tips for the under-informed and the clueless. Yep, still hip to that.
- The Wrenching Wench: –Caution! Low flying tools– The hilarity, borderline alcoholism, costly catastrophes, embarrassing trips to the machine shop, and smug satisfaction that is derived from learning to work on your own motorcycle, so you can fix shit when it breaks and show the crapchanics at the local stealership the figurative middle finger while your wallet stays tightly closed and your unwillingness to get ripped off by them yet again shines cleanly through in that self-satisfied smile of yours. Yes, still doing that. You haven’t missed much since last you’ve seen me around. I’ve gotten as far in as the transition pieces past the throttle bodies, but the camshaft cover is coming off soon enough.
- Tales from the Road: Ride reports. Oh yeah, baby! Those are my favorite stories to tell and pretty much how this blog got its start and meager but loyal following.
- The Library of Two: Mini book reviews. Here to stay. I’ve read a little since. I need to update that section most definitely. Maybe expand on it. Who knows. I have some ideas.
- Dashed Hope or Pleasant Surprise: Nope. Still not going to do a podcast or a vlog. I don’t have the voice for it and the camera adds ten pounds and three inches to my ass and nose respectively. And that’s that. Besides, my Internet-sponsored anonymity and its inherent license to be a total know-it-all douche would be severely compromised.
Speaking of the good, the bad and the ugly, let’s start there. In reverse, somewhat chronological, order. It provides an excellent backdrop to the scene, the significance of this anniversary and an insight into understanding the direction in which this leg of the journey takes us. Accingite vos, my lovelies, accingite vos.
What the hell? “What I’m hearing is you telling me I have to wait until TOMORROW to read about it? One simply does not start the first season after un-cancellation with a damned cliffhanger. That’s not how it’s done! You suck!” Yeah, I do what I want. But really, it’s not like I planned this. The idea came to me suddenly, out of the blue, from nowhere, like a left-turner with a broken blinker whipping it out in front of you as you speed down the highway of life at almost double the posted limit. In other words, I’m still writing it and I’m out of practice. I’ll see you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morrow. By the way, I take my coffee with cream and a packet of [insert my favorite no-calorie chemical compound intended to sweeten things] served in a mug with the letters “WTF” emblazoned across the front. 🙂 Until then…
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 37,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals
This is what it’s all about. This is why I do the things I do in life. The Isle of Man TT is the road race of all road races. It is the embodiment of all the facets of motorcycling that makes my soul sing, that set me free. No other place on earth, but on my bike in control of my machine, dancing through the curves, can make me feel this alive. Only then am I truly in charge of my own destiny. I am boss. I own it. The victory and the defeat are wholly mine. To be able to grid up for this race (and survive) is what this girl’s dreams are made of. Carry on. Miss Busa still needs about twenty years of skill development. 🙂
It’s time. Practice Week starts tomorrow (26th), the paddock is full and the weather is more than perfect.
Here’s another one of those “fan films” that perfectly encapsulates what the TT is about. It’s the sounds of the countryside punctuated by race cans, filmed during 2010 Practice Week, by the roadside at the 13th Milestone aka “Bottom of Barregarrow”; featuring stone walls, a century-old cottage, a terrifying dip in the road, all taken at not less than 150 mph. It has been known for riders to scuff their shoulders on that wall. One or two have scuffed their lids on it.
What is not apparent here is that this corner is part of the way down the long descent into Kirk Michael village, so the riders do not, and have not dropped below at least 120 mph for miles. You can hear the spikes in the engines’ revs as their…
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I was heading west on University Parkway, the stretch of US-29, a four-lane divided highway, between Athens and Atlanta, GA. It was late afternoon on a Friday and a thunderstorm was threatening overhead. People don’t mess around that time of the week. They are ready to get home to start their weekends or, like me, are already on their way to the party and are in a hurry to get there. Time is of the essence when the workweek is done. The average speed on the west-bound side was between 70-75 miles per hour. The east-bound side had been shut down due to a traffic accident and was backed up for miles. I gave quick thanks to the God of Speed for not being stuck in that mess.
Traffic was medium-heavy and I was averaging about 80 mph, making sure that I wasn’t the fastest vehicle on the road but keeping up with the faster cars of the crowd. I noticed a white sedan that had passed me, but then settled down to about my pace a little distance ahead. I eventually caught up and passed the car again. No big deal, it happens, I paid the car no mind as I continued to fling myself westward toward the horizon, bouncing around in my seat, tapping out the rhythm to some Lady Gaga tune with my right foot; I think it was “Bad Romance”. My thoughts were already occupied with playing in the twisties that were scheduled for the following day. The car eventually picked its way back through traffic and got ahead yet again.
Now it’s getting a little weird! After a while boredom and curiosity get the better of me and I am in hot pursuit of my highway stalker. It doesn’t take me long to catch up with my target. The car is still hanging out in the left lane, so I scoot over and slowly pass them on the right. I see what looks to be four college-aged kids bouncing around in their seats, hair flying, talking animatedly and obviously checking me out. Oh, shit! A carload of cheerleaders! They point and wave at me and I smile, — even though they can’t see through my darkly tinted face shield — I nod and give them a peace sign with my outstretched clutch hand. Then I grab a fistful of throttle, twist it quickly to the stop and treat them to a completely “unnecessary display of horsepower”. Gratuitous. I can’t help myself. I have no excuse. I pull triple digits for a few seconds, pass another vehicle by executing two acute lane changes to get a little high-speed lean for effect and then let the engine slow me back down to the speed of traffic.
It doesn’t take very long for them to catch up. Two songs, maybe. I’m astonished to see them again. When they pass me on the left, I see one of them is holding a sheet of notebook paper up to the passenger side window. It reads in bold-red Sharpie print:
I prop open my visor so I can make eye contact as I pace them. I smile and give them a thumbs up and a fist pump with my free hand. I yell: “Hell yeah!” even though they can’t hear me. I speed up and they stay directly behind me as my wing women until we part ways at a red light a few miles up the road. I turned right and they kept going straight. Each of us heading towards weekend adventure. I wish I could have taken a picture of this or had the video camera going. It’s the little things like these that make even a bored and hurried flight down a two-lane seemingly never-ending straight worth it. For one little instant my path merged with that of four strangers and life was just good.
That’s one of the reasons I ride.
Riding a motorcycle connects you intimately, even if only for a short moment, with others and the world around you. You become part of that world, rather than being isolated and distanced from it like you are when sitting in a car. This is one of those reasons why bikers refer to cars as “cages”. I’m sure of it.