…On A Steel Horse I Ride

I’m wanted
Dead or alive

I needed to go for a ride. Not that I was being racked by withdrawal symptoms of PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) by any stretch of the imagination. I have to shamefully admit, it took ten days to get off my ass and make the Beemer fit for street duty again. It’s about time, really, since I owe Matt of The Dandooligan a little product comparo.

And then I wonder why my mileage has suffered. I have doubled the number of bikes owned, but cut my mileage by half. And I look at wrenching as the culprit. I haven’t touched a torque wrench or a screwdriver in five days. I rebutted my own statement right there!

It’s more a result of the subconscious mind, rather than a definite decision made by cognitive higher-function processes. In other words, I don’t mope around, irritated by the idea that I cannot, for whatever reason, ride my motorcycle; neither do I proclaim loudly, that I will not ride my bike today. I used to suffer from the former, and the latter is really too much like quitting smoking.

It’s something else. An internal shift in focus, perhaps. When I think of motorcycling in terms of skill, my brain immediately goes to fetch some experience from the racetrack. I don’t even think in terms of roadways, surface conditions, traffic density,traffic rules and regulations, hazard recognition, and risk management anymore. Well, at least not consciously.

My brain still seems to deal with all of these factors just the same, but it doesn’t distract me anymore. Or should I say, my brain now has time to wander off and “do other things” (allowing me to be distracted) besides piloting the motorcycle and negotiating traffic.

And as I have evolved my skill set, honed my roadcraft, my attitude towards street riding has changed; and probably not for the better. How much fun could possibly be had on the public roadways anymore? It’s slow. It’s boring. It’s mundane. Routinely blah. Ugh.

You would think that slapping me on the back of the head, making me put on my gear to follow you north into the twisties, would assuage my boredom. Ha! You would think… I can’t even enjoy the “good” roads anymore, not like I used to. My motorcycle eyes have changed their focus: where once I’d seen opportunity, I now see claustrophobic ways of killing myself by sudden deceleration, if something should go wrong. If I can’t see around a corner, I can’t fully commit to it. My risk awareness is in the red, and the fear factor goes up. I am acutely aware of how vulnerable I am to ‘what ifs’ when I’m riding my bike on the street.

Long gone are the days of the Mountain Squid. The days of almost dragging tailpipe on off-camber, uphill curves in an effort to finally get that knee down. Long gone are the days of blindly diving into corners, taking the “race line” through and hanging the upper body over the double-yellow line. But a distant memory are the days of street riding having that therapeutic effect. It used to blank my brain and reset the senses. Now, I have way too much time left to think and my stressors ride pillion.

But today something was different. Today was a throwback to the “good old days.” Today, I had one of the most fun rides in a long time, on the same old boring roads. Imagine that! Could it possibly be that my brain was too preoccupied with collecting data on the various products and apps I was testing? Too preoccupied to be bothered with signaling impending narcolepsy by coma-inducing speed limits? Too preoccupied with pesky fun-killers such as deer, surface contamination, and radar guns pointed casually out of Sheriff’s cars?

No, officer. I wasn't speeding. I was qualifying.

The meaning of life? 42. Perhaps. 45? No, fookin' way!

Today PoHo data acquisition tells me one thing for certain: I had a freakin’ blast on two wheels. Sixty-four miles of unadulterated, jailhouse-worthy fun. It was balm for the soul and elixir for the senses. I feel alive. I feel giddy. I feel reset. Today, I renewed my attitude. With the correct outlook, this girl doesn’t need to be at the track to have some serious throttle therapy. Maybe it just takes a little shift of focus, seven degrees off of where it used to be.

Chased by encroaching darkness I hurried home, wishing I could play outside for just a little while longer.

~~~

It’s all the same, only the names will change
Everyday, it seems, we’re wastin’ away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I drive all night just to get back home

~ "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi

Sugar and Spice, Cat Ears and All Things Nice

Somebody asked me once: “Why in the hell are you wearing cat ears on your helmet?” My answer was quite simple: “Because I can.” I paused, then added: “…and the kids like it.” He didn’t get it. Why do I wear silly stuff like that when I’m out riding on my motorcycle? It started on the Harley. I actually did it because I could. I’m a dork. I do silly things all the time. I don’t take life too seriously, nor myself; most of the time I actually succeed. I ordered the cat ears (tested up to 175 mph) and stuck them on my lid, and rode around on my black Sportster wearing my all-black gear, my black carbon fiber full-face helmet and black and white cat ears with matching tail stuck to my menacing crown with the aid of suction cups.

I soon noticed that I seemed to have more fans in the younger demographic. Children started waving at me, smiling, and pointing excited little fingers in my general direction. Toddlers’ faces pressed up against the rear windows of minivans became a regular sight. I waved back and acknowledged the little ones; it really made me feel good. It made me giggle, too. Kids also reacted differently to me when I was slowly cruising through a shopping center lot on the lookout for a place to park. They didn’t seem as scared of “big black man” on the big black bike. The engine noise seemed to bother them less also. It is as if the addition of those two small things of fake fur and plastic made all the difference in the world. It opened up an opportunity of curious fascination, rather than induce fear and uncertainty.

Miss Busa's Cat Ears

Miss Busa and The Fat Lady (RIP): Yes, those are cat ears on my helmet. No, I won't take them off. I also refuse to grow up! Why? Because you can't make me. 🙂

That is how Miss Busa’s Cat Ear Tradition started. I am now on my third set. I have never had any negative experiences with them. They are a conversation starter, an icebreaker, and everybody just thinks they are the coolest things ever. Riders and non-riders alike react positively. Who would have thought that such a small gesture would bring about such a dramatic change in perception and hence attitudes?

In South Carolina I have the Clemson University fans chasing after me with their cell phone cameras, asking me if they could take a picture. I wore my tiger set there once and I couldn’t figure out what in the world had gotten into these people. I thought it quite strange and bordering on the verge of freakish. Husband then explained that I was in “Clemson Country”, that those people were Clemson Tiger fans; mostly Football and Basketball, but Clemson University’s athletic department offers a host of other sports for both men and women.

Miss Busa is rockin' the rocket on I-285 outer perimeter, top side.

Miss Busa is rockin' the rocket on I-285 outer perimeter, top side. Tiger (or cat) ears and tail are standard equipment for this girl.

I’ve had a dude on a ‘Busa literally chase me down to finally catch me at a red light, flip his face shield up and yell over the combined sound of our Hayabusas’ engines that I must let him take a picture with his phone, his daughter doesn’t believe that girls ride motorcycles. I laughed and gave him the thumbs up, he whipped out his BlackBerry snapped the pic, the light changed he turned right and I went straight. I haven’t seen him since. Maybe his daughter now rides one of those electric minibikes. 😉

It is stuff like this that makes me love the ride even more.

Before I forget…
And for all you (online) haters of Miss Busa’s magic cat ears who think that this is just the gayest thing ever, let me state for the record: Yes, it is. It’s totally gay!!! Gay, GAy, gAy, gAY, gaY! In the traditional meaning of the word; but you people wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?