Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Joel

The Road to Fruition (Warning: Long)

Recommended Posts

Joel

I warned you: This is a really long newbie tale.

 

Thanks in advance for this indulgence. As a nominal member of this group, I might not have earned this privilege, but I think many of you will understand.

 

Also, thanks to all you members for the wisdom and wit that are shared so generously at this site. You have guided and inspired me. I hope that someday I can return the favor.

 

My apologies to Lyle Lovett, whose lyrics I have borrowed and tweaked to open and close this tale.

 

If I had a BIKE

I'd go out IN THE OPEN ...

 

More than 20 years after my last ride, on a dirt bike, I decided I was interested in motorcycling, for transporation and recreation. I didn’t mark the point in time where this Journey began. But recently, the pace for passing some milestones has picked up. I discovered this site last May. Then: MSF BRC? Check. License endorsement? Check. Gear? Check. Bike? Well, as much as I might want a RT, I know I’m not ready for that much bike yet. So, in the meantime ...

 

On Saturday my phone rang at about 8:45 a.m., as I was driving north from Denver toward home in Fort Collins. “Joel? It’s Ron.”

 

“Hey, where are you?”

 

“I’m at a Starbucks about a mile from your house.”

 

“Oh, crap!” I said to myself. I was expecting him before noon, but not this much before noon. But, to Ron I said “That’s the good news. The bad news is that I’m about an hour and 10 minutes away. Can you wait?”

 

“No problem. I’ll be at your house around 10.”

 

Whew. My pulse had quickened. In the back of Ron’s pickup sat a 2001 Suzuki SV650 with a grand total of 337 miles on the odometer. I bought it on Thursday from Ron’s dad, Warren, sight unseen except for a few emailed pictures. Ron must have owed Warren a big favor, because he was delivering the bike, to my door, on his way home from visiting Warren in Shreveport, LA. The catch is that Ron lives in Indiana. This was no minor detour. Ron left Shreveport on Friday morning and drove all night.

 

My regular disdain for the speed limit was now upgraded to outright contempt. I had to get home -- NOW!

 

As I pulled into my neighborhood, Ron was removing the last of the carefully placed wraps from the beautiful blue bike in the bed of his truck. It turns out that Ron is a trucker, about my age, who drives as much as he can during the other 3 seasons so he can race motocross for Hooters in the summer. This moment was a little bit of a disappointment for him. Although he loves dirt bikes, he was really looking forward to riding the SV650 when he went to Shreveport to visit Warren. Many of the Europeans Ron races with had been singing the praises of the SVs they ride on the streets back home. I could imagine Warren telling Ron “Sorry, Son, it’s sold. Oh, and by the way, how do you feel about making a run to Colorado?”

 

I helped Ron remove the tie-downs and roll the bike down the ramp onto my driveway. It’s immaculate; everything Warren promised, and then some. Ron started it up, pointed out a few things, and then I threw my leg over it for the first time. In my giddiness, I said to myself “I sure hope Master Yoda and Bounce are right about this!” smile.gif I put it in gear, took it down the street, made a quick U-turn, and pulled up in front of the house. My wife, Heidi, captured the moment on video. She was quick to point out (with good humor) that not only was I not wearing my helmet or any of my other gear, but she now had evidence of my first traffic infraction on a motorcycle: I rolled through the stop sign in front of our house. smirk.gif

 

I thanked Ron profusely. He refused all offers of food, a bed, a shower, etc. However, he did share his photo album from his last racing season. For some reason, there seemed to be at least as many pictures that featured young women of uncommon proportions wearing orange shorts and white tank tops as there were of the bikes. That’s just how the sponsor likes it, I suppose.

 

After Ron hit the road, I called Warren to thank him and let him know everything was A-OK. He laughed, and reminded me to take it easy. “It’s got some power,” he said.

 

I told Heidi I felt a little ashamed of being so excited about this. After all, a bike is a “thing,” a “toy.” I’m 40 years old, but I hadn’t been this eager with anticipation for any “thing” or “toy” since I was a kid. I didn’t sleep well Friday night. Now, it was Christmas in March. I had my first motorcycle of my very own. Heidi gave me a hug. She was genuinely excited too. She’d been very patient with me through this part of the Journey. And, more importantly, she understood that the excitement wasn’t just about the “toy.” I believe, as you must too if you are still reading this, that there is something more profound, even metaphysical, involved in this Journey. Metal, plastic, rubber and asphalt are only parts of a much bigger picture.

 

I gathered up my gear, started the bike, and got ready to head to the gas station to fuel up. But, now that Ron was gone, the little V-Twin’s purr had developed a stutter. Hmmm. Maybe the carbs needed a tweak to deal with the higher altitude? The bike bucked a little as I pulled into the gas station. “SURGING?!?! “NO WAY!!!” grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif I topped up the tank and headed over to the nearby junior high parking lot for some practice. The bike was running even rougher by the time I pulled into the lot, and then it died when I came to a stop. Uh oh. Trying to remain calm, I looked things over and discovered that the choke lever was nudged open just a tad. I pushed it back, pressed the starter, and the purr was back. Relief.

 

It was a gorgeous 70-degree day. I shed my jacket and overpants, and spent about 2 hours putting the first 17 miles of my ownership on the odometer. Heidi brought over the set of cones we had, and then took pictures and video as I worked on weaving, figure 8s, swerves and panic stops. At one point, when as I was resetting the cones for another drill, I heard the starter whine and the engine fire. I turned around to see Heidi in the saddle, easing out the clutch, and paddle-walking the bike forward a few feet. She’d ridden some in college, but it wasn’t much and it was more than 15 years ago. She just wanted a little taste, and that did it – for now. We’ve vowed that we won’t go 2-up for quite a while yet. I think she’ll be passing some milestones on her own Journey soon. cool.gif

 

After the practice, I needed to go get the VIN number verified at a local station so I could get the bike registered on Monday. It was only 2 miles away, but those would be my first 2 miles in any real traffic. Heidi followed me, to run interference from behind.

 

After the inspection, I pulled out with Heidi in tow, and got one traffic light ahead. It was just as well: right after that light, I got my first on-road reminder about being a member of the Invisibility Club. On one hand, I don’t know how that girl, who had just been stopped right beside me at the light, could miss seeing a 6’4” guy in a Hi-Viz Yellow Darien jacket (can you say “Neon Michelin Man?” grin.gif) and a bright white helmet. On the other hand, I do know how, and I know that it was just the first of many times this will happen. She missed seeing me, and fortunately she also missed hitting me, although not by much, as she changed lanes in front of me without looking or signaling. I fumbled for the horn, but didn’t hit the button in time. The expletive I uttered barely escaped my helmet, and she didn’t see me shake my fist at her either. If Heidi had been there … well, let’s just say that even though Heidi is 5’6” and 115#, you wouldn’t want to mess with her when it comes to the things and people she loves.

 

As I pulled into my neighborhood, I could feel some of my “neighbors,” who are prone to staring somewhat rudely (especially when I pull my motorhome up in front of my house -- never for long enough to violate the covenants) giving me a long, hard stare as I rode slowly down the street, up my driveway, and into my garage. A few minutes later, as I was dusting off the bike, one of our more officious neighbors decided it was time to fetch his mail from the community mailbox that is at the end of my driveway. He said nothing, and I pretended not to notice him (as I often do), but I did catch him staring into the garage. Green is not his color. wink.gif

 

I was done for the day. After walking our puppy, and then enjoying a tasty dinner and a margarita, I dozed off on the couch, with our sweet little 15 year-old schnauzer snoring in my lap. Life is good. The TV was tuned to my (and Bill Poche’s) alma mater, Colorado State, playing UNLV in the Mountain West basketball tournament finals. Heidi woke me up just in time to catch the last of the Rams’ upset victory that punched their unlikely ticket to March Madness. Life is better. But, for my Rams, no good deed goes unpunished: On Sunday afternoon, the NCAA tournament seedings paired CSU with Duke in the first round. It might be fun. CSU really has nothing to lose.

 

On Sunday, I knew I had to go to the office to catch up on some of the work I had difficulty focusing on during the week where negotiating the bike deal and working out the logistics of delivery took precedence. (Please don’t tell my clients or my partners.) I already had a plan for turning a 3.5 mile commute into something more.

 

Heidi has a friend who boards 3 horses at a ranch west of Loveland, off US 34 near the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon. Since Heidi’s friend can’t ride 3 horses at once, Heidi gets to ride a lot. She was going riding on Sunday morning, and so was I. But there would be a significant difference in horsepower.

 

About an hour after Heidi left, I saddled up too, to surprise her at the ranch. There are a few routes down to US 34. A common one parallels the foothills and then heads west into the canyon. Boring. A less common one traverses the foothills just south of Horsetooth Reservoir on County Road 38E, then rolls and twists its way to Masonville, where a turn to the south leads through a valley to US 34 a few miles west of Loveland. For this day, it really wasn’t hard to choose.

 

Heidi’s friend heard me first, as I approached the ranch, and she was sure it was me even though she’d never seen me on a bike before. Heidi was skeptical until she could see the Neon Michelin Man. We chatted and I watched them ride their horses for a while, and then headed back along the same route.

 

When I got back to Masonville, I took the road that winds north through Buckhorn Valley, to Stove Prairie, and then ends at CO Hwy 14 in the Poudre Canyon. I had driven this road in my car last fall, and decided then that this would be a nice ride on a bike. Now, however, the first few miles were in good condition, but the Winter had been unkind to the rest, which was just awful. frown.gif

 

Overall, the ride was filled with a bunch of firsts for me: first ride through twisties; first experiences with sand, gravel and potholes in corners; first time a car pulled off to let me pass; first experience with cattle guards; first time being passed by another rider; first rock hit to the helmet at speed; first blast from a semi traveling the other direction; first time passing a semi traveling the same direction; first time wishing I hadn’t left the liner to my Darien at home (it was a little cooler than I expected at the higher elevations, with some snow on the road sides); and many more.

 

When I reached the Poudre Canyon (Colorado Hwy 14), I fell in behind a pickup that was keeping a pace that was OK for me: over the posted limits but in my comfort zone. I gave him some room and then focused on my lines and working on “slow in, fast out.” Before I knew it, the curves were all gone and I was rolling up to Ted’s Place, where CO 14 meets US 287. I pulled off there, for some “traveler’s relief.” I grabbed a candy bar, and wondered how many of these things MJames’ had chowed down at the numerous pit stops on his endurance adventures. This was certainly no endurance ride, but the situation made his accomplishments all the more impressive to me.

 

The other reason for stopping at Ted’s Place was to regroup briefly before another first. The speed limit on US 287 is 70 mph, which, as far as I know, is faster than I’d ever ridden before. It didn’t seem to take long to run through the gears to get up to 75 mph. But, it also didn’t take long for that much wind in my face (nearly naked bike), and a couple of gusty cross winds (sometimes we’re just too damn close to Wyoming grin.gif), to get my attention. After about a mile, during which my lane position changed 3 times, involuntarily, I decided I could work on handling the wind another day. I took the exit for the old US 287 route through La Porte and into Fort Collins.

 

By the time I pulled in to the parking lot at my office, it was 3.5 hours and 70 miles from the time I left home. Too bad I can’t afford the time to “commute” like that every day. It felt great.

 

I have a long way yet to go on this Journey. So far, so good. Very, very good.

 

The mystery masked man was smart

He had himself a Tonto

'Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free

But Tonto he was smarter

And one day said "Kemosabe,

Kiss my a$$, I bought a BIKE, I'm going out to RIDE ...

 

See you on down the road.

 

 

Postscript: In a couple of my other posts, I've lamented by weather/bike karma: I postponed buying a bike last fall because winter would soon follow, but then we have had practically no winter to speak of. Now look what happened: 3 days after my new bike arrives, we're in the middle of our worst blizzard in 7 years. I may have single-handedly ended our drought! wink.gif

Share this post


Link to post
russell_bynum

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

That's awesome. I think you'll find (as many of us have) that the little SV has more to teach you than you could ever possibly learn...and it's JUST SO DANG FUN!!! smile.gif

 

It's so easy to ride, and so forgiving...but also SO GOOD at doing "motorcycle stuff". Superb bike.

 

See you on down the road.

 

Yes Sir, you will. smile.gif

 

 

P.S. Pictures, man....PICTURES!!

Share this post


Link to post
Joel
Pictures, man....PICTURES!!

 

Here's one from this morning, after I finished strip mining to find my driveway. 18" of snow overnight. tongue.gif

1758760010_167851-NeonMichelinManinSnow.jpg.2fde45f57bd27e25dddc7b88ab449b00.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
russell_bynum

18" of snow overnight

 

Yikes! You weren't kidding about that bad weather karma. shocked.gif

Share this post


Link to post
GSRider

Congrats on the new bike.

 

When my brother and I lived out there his first bike was an SV650 as well. That bike is a total blast in CO with all the twisties up there.

 

Your ride report makes me smile as I used to take many of those roads around there. I do miss them. Although, I do NOT miss the snow.

 

Enjoy! Take some pictures for us up on those twisties

Share this post


Link to post
murrayg

Joel, cool ride report, and congratulations on your motorcycle reentry. I loved your list of first, but you didn't mention the first smile inside the helmet as you experience the poetry of riding. smile.gif Be careful out there. cool.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Zip

 

6’4” guy in a Hi-Viz Yellow Darien jacket (can you say “Neon Michelin Man?” grin.gif) and a bright white helmet

 

Joel,

 

Good for you! You appreciate the visibility issue, and are practicing to improve riding skills. You are starting off right!

 

I'm always trying to improve my defensive driving skills. That's another big piece of the puzzle for staying safe out there.

 

Good luck, and glad to see you starting out the right way. Sorry about the big snow, but you need the moisture, and it won't be long until you are riding again.

 

Here in New York, the snow has mostly melted, but the ground has turned to soft mud. We had a terrible winter, much colder than normal, with snow cover since the first week in November. Even my driveway is soft, with the bike centerstand sinking into it. I had to park the bike on a scrap piece of plywood, to keep it from tipping over.

Share this post


Link to post
HalfPint

but you didn't mention the first smile inside the helmet as you experience the poetry of riding.

 

Not to mention, it's startlingly loud when you 'do' your first YEEEHAAA! or WOOOOOOHOOOOO! or just laugh out loud like a maniac inside your full-faced helmet. Hearing protection is a must-have for just these occasions!

 

Way to go, Joel!

Share this post


Link to post
PeterScottNJ

Joel, since reading your tale earlier today, I've tried several times to put into words how much I enjoyed it. I've failed each times, so thought, what the heck, just tell him.

 

Great tale - thanks for taking the time to tell it.

Share this post


Link to post
Joel

Thanks, folks!

 

Not mentioning the First Big Smile (kinda like this: grin.gif) was a big oversight on my part. After I left the ranch, Heidi's friend mentioned how happy I looked, and said she wished her husband would do something to put more joy in his life.

 

Arai makes smaller cheek pads for the Quantum/f. Maybe I should get them. wink.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Laney
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

That's awesome. I think you'll find (as many of us have) that the little SV has more to teach you than you could ever possibly learn...and it's JUST SO DANG FUN!!! smile.gif

 

It's so easy to ride, and so forgiving...but also SO GOOD at doing "motorcycle stuff". Superb bike.

 

What Russell said... grin.gif

 

Congratulations -- you're gonna love it. Russell tells me my SV will wheelie!!!

 

Hey!!! Wait a minute ooo.gif

Share this post


Link to post
russell_bynum

Russell tells me my SV will wheelie!!!

 

Hey!!! Wait a minute

 

Nope...couldn't have been me. Uh uh. No way.I blame the monkey.

 

smile.gif

 

Share this post


Link to post
Joel
I blame the monkey.

 

From what I've read, it is probably a good thing for a newbie like me that the monkey is not standard equipment on the SV. My learning curve is steep enough for now, thank you. wink.gif

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...