I turned off the main power distribution bar in my garage, which controls the juice to all of the motorcycle and power tool battery chargers.
I went over to the R90S, which has been sitting there with a full tank of stabilized fuel since sometime in November. I removed the alligator clips from the battery, sat the charger on its shelf, closed the saddle, and latched the right saddlecase onto its carrier.
I tightened the strap on my Shoei and clicked the strap retainer in place. I pulled on my elkskin gauntlets, and cinched the wrist straps tight.
I raised the garage door, and then pushed the bike from its parking space into the bright opening, then sat it back on the mainstand.
The sunlight seemed unfamiliar — the blue sky somehow alien.
I turned the key, and all the dashboard telltales came on.
I opened a fuel tap, and set the choke lever.
Standing beside the bike, I pulled in the clutch and hit the starter.
WHeeeeeeWUMP. WHeeeeeeWUMP – Putt – Putt – Putt Putt Putt ….
“Sweet,” I thought. “Fired on the second compression stroke. Zero drama.”
All that work I had done on this bike last spring and summer had clearly been worth it, had clearly taken.
Poor Old Girl had sat waiting for me for at least 6 weeks of single digit temperatures, yet she’d started right up like I’d ridden her yesterday.
This bike was clearly a keeper.
The ride I took almost doesn’t matter.
The fact that we’d survived another winter, and that we surged ahead in the sunlight, with just a single layer of stout black leather across my back, heated by that sun, was by itself enough.
There were nights beside the fire, with the snow deepening and blowing outside, my cats fighting, and the condensation freezing on the insides of my windows, when we seemed forever separated from this joy of the riding life. It was black outside, it was cold beyond cold, and it was black inside, too.
It was almost as if we were dead then, and now the stone had been rolled away, and we were miraculously returned to life.
Any day that my R90S is running and taking throttle is a good day.
My jacket may have been a little snugger than I recalled, and the roads may have been a little dirtier than I’d prefer, but there were no six foot snowdrifts and my tears were not freezing behind my glasses, so it was a good day.
Maryland 17 North out of Brunswick is a lovely little road that does a passable imitation of The Island. There are loose set fieldstone walls beside the road, and there are multiple Colonial Bang Bang corners where road builders were forced to trace the property lines of the farms belonging to Frederick County’s earliest settlers. The Bang Bangs take the form of a 90 degree left — a short straight — and an immediate 90 degree right. They are exercises in throttle and line control — blow the exit from one corner and you may have already blown the entrance to the other one. Done properly though, they can be endlessly entertaining.
Today, having cut loose an extra 400 pounds of K-bike, 3 layers of Michelin-man Bibendum Costume, and untold amounts of electromagnetic radiation from electric resistance heaters of various ilk, my skills were far less rusty than I’d been anticipating, and Maryland 17 was nearly endlessly entertaining.
There are lots of bikes that will bring lots more power, but on this day, like most days, simple, narrow and light is hard to argue with.
If riding my K bike sometimes feels like surfing a missile, this old motorcycle comes off more like a bicycle.
After months of me sitting, it was impossible not to be working the jockey’s triangle — weight and muscular tension shared between the balls of my feet, my hands and the insides of my thighs. Shifting weights from bar to bar and peg to peg and feeling the bike move back and forth beneath me.
Its kind of like dancing, and kind of like making love.
Yeah, it is the spring, and a not yet old man’s thoughts turn to love.
And love of old motorcycles that seems evergreen.
Now if only I thought for a single second that the /5 would awaken this easily.
Some loves are easy — others are….less so.
It’s another of those cycles of life. You don’t know how good the light, how good the warmth is, unless you’ve had a little darkness.