Archive for the Motorcycle Category

2015 Lent 30

Posted in Lent 2015, Motorcycle with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2015 by timtrue


Jeremiah 25:8-17

Okay, I’m out.  I’m packing my motorcycle and heading to the mountains of Mexico for a camping trip of indefinite length.

That’s what I’d do if I were in Jeremiah’s shoes anyway.  Enough already!  He’s been proclaiming judgment, judgment, judgment for so long it hardly seems true anymore, or at least ineffective.  The people hate him.  They’ve conspired to kill him.  And still God presses him on.

Me?  I’d be whining to God from 9 to 5; and in the evenings I’d be outfitting my Moto Guzzi.

Yeah, my Moto Guzzi v7 Special, a simple, lightweight, bullet-proof machine with Italian sexiness.  I found a deal on it recently, like $2000 off for a new one, only it’s a 2013 model and thus the discount.  It’s a fairly common bike, so aftermarket parts are readily available.  The real clincher for me was the ease of outfitting this bike into a scrambler, you know, a bike that can handle rough fire roads–post-apocalyptic roads–as easily as it can handle the interstate.  The 5.8 gallon gas tank helps too: who knows how easy it is to find gas stations in the Sierra Madre–or how readily gas will be available after the apocalypse?

So, in my evenings, after another day of wearying and unproductive work, I’d eat a quick dinner usually involving a fried egg, over easy, and some vegetables–meat too whenever one of my roosters would get too feisty–and head out into my garage to tinker.  My excuse at first was creativity.  “I just need a creative outlet, honey,” I’d tell my wife.  And I’d tell myself that too.  But I think it really was always a plan to escape south of the border into early retirement, albeit a tacit one–plan, that is, not retirement (although, come to think of it, a tacit retirement does sound nice).

Anyway, now it’s fully outfitted for the wilderness.  And–Lord help me!–if I have to spend one more day proclaiming judgment to these stiff-necked people; if I have to tell them one more time that God’s dark servant Nebuchadnezzar will soon bring an army and wreak havoc and desolation; and–unlucky for Babylon!–that God nevertheless still loves his stiff-necked people and therefore Babylon, his dark servants, will in fact become a barren land not even fit for jackals–so help me I will just ride off to the south!

The Guzzi’s ready after all, loaded up in the garage with a full tank of gas.

But it’s late.  So I’ll just sleep on it.  Just one last time.

From the Frame Up, Part 2

Posted in Motorcycle with tags , on February 12, 2014 by timtrue

The slow work of dismantling and cleaning parts has begun.


This photo is sort of sideways, but you get the idea.  The front wheel has been removed from the forks along with the disc and the caliper (i. e., the brake).


Here I am beginning to polish the disc.  It’s long and arduous work, hence the relaxing agent in the background, a. k. a. Belgian pilsner.  My initial thinking was to dismantle the wheel assembly completely and essentially rebuild it with new stainless steel spokes and nipples and a new aluminum rim, sandblasting the hub and powder coating (a type of electromagnetic paint job) it matte British racing green.  This would be matched on the back hub and drive mechanism and gas tank.  The frame, fork sliders, swingarm, and subframe I’d then powder coat matte black.  Cool idea.  But as I’ve been cleaning the disc and fork sliders, I’ve realized that the aluminum will polish up nicely on its own, so no need for powder coating the hubs and sliders.  The rims and spokes are too tweaked to salvage though, I’ve concluded.  so I’ll continue with my idea to rebuild the wheels with new stainless steel spokes and nipples and aluminum rims.  Maybe I’ll do something color-wise to the rims when I get there–to match the tank.  Anyway, it’s a casual work in progress.  I’m in no hurry.


Here are the forks, still intact but about to be dismantled.  The oil pan is to catch the fluids.


Now I’m in mid-dismantle.  Notice my son’s bike; he wants in on the action.  Who’s to argue?


Fully dismantled now . . .


. . . and cleaned.  Notice the sliders (short pieces on the outside, standing vertically).  They’re cleaned of gunk inside and out but haven’t yet been polished.  Won’t they look nice when reassembled?

So now the question is, why did I disassemble the forks at all if all I’m gonna do is polish the sliders?  Well, that’s not all.  The forks will be overhauled (cleaned out on the inside, seals and oil replaced).  And I’m also considering an upgrade to progressive springs, a non-negotiable (my friends tell me) if I plan to upgrade the rear suspension.  Which I do.  Stay tuned.

Next step, rear end.  Got to get that swing arm ready for powder coating.

From the Frame Up, Part 1

Posted in Motorcycle, Rationale with tags , , , on January 29, 2014 by timtrue

If you’ve known me for more than six months then you probably know I always like to have something to do.  What this doesn’t mean is that I like assignments given to me by others.  So stop right there if you’re tempted to offer suggestions.  Rather, I’m talking about something to do without any obligation to anyone, something to get lost in, where I lose all track of time and even some sense of space.

So television’s out.  Not that I refuse it altogether.  I’ve been known in fact even to get into the occasional show, like a certain singing competition where the judges are as entertaining if not more so than the contestants.  But if I succumb to the swirling vortex of amusement known as the boob tube, well, that’s really someone else determining what I do with my precious and tenaciously guarded free time.  So it doesn’t count.

For similar reasons, following sports doesn’t count either.  Again, I’ve been known to follow a certain California baseball team all the way through the World Series.  But behind it all someone out there in Major League Baseball is telling me how to spend my three or four or five hours of my summer (and spring and fall) evenings, when, frankly, I’d much rather be outside playing a sport than inside watching one.

No, for me, something to do in my free time looks like learning the carillon, as I did in Sewanee; or writing a book, as I did when I spent my daytime hours teaching Latin once upon a time; or composing a piece of music for piano or carillon or voice, as I have done many times; or writing a blog post, as I am doing right now.

So now, enter my newest something-to-do: Project BMW, from the frame up.

BMW Project 1

Actually, as you can probably tell from the photo, it’s more than just a frame.  It’s a frame, rear end, and front end of a 1977(?) BMW r100/7.  And it happened like this.

Since moving from Sewanee to San Antonio and starting my curacy, I’ve been spending my precious few hours of free time a week not engaged in any of the above activities, but rather thinking about what kind of time-and-space transcending activity I should take on, now that I no longer had access to a carillon.  I’m a planner by nature after all.  So time to think things through is always a good thing–to some extent anyway, until I start to over-analyze, like I’m doing right now in this sentence.  So . . . I’ve thought a lot about starting another book.  The idea is in my mind–a modern-day ghost story involving a priest and medieval European monasteries.  But I need to have a great big block of time to jumpstart this one into action, like a week off from work, alone with my computer.  And this just ain’t happening in my curacy.

I could compose, I suppose.  But for whatever reason I’m finding myself unmotivated to do anything like this at the end of each day, something like writer’s block for a composer.

Instead I’ve been frequenting eBay.

At first it was little more than something to do.  I’ve always liked to peruse classified ads.  Weird, I know!  But they somehow get my creative wheels spinning.  Then the idea became to find an old motorcycle for cheap in need of repair.  So I’d bid, I told myself.  And if I were to win, not only would I repair the thing, I’d modify it to be cooler than it already is.  I might upgrade the suspension, overhaul the motor, improve the breathing with velocity stacks, whatever.  But first, before I could even plan modifications, I needed to find something to work with; I needed to find a cheap old bike.

But what kind?

This idea, incidentally, is not original to me.  It’s being acted upon by several customizers across the globe in fact.  And I hope you’re not thinking Orange County Choppers when you hear “customizer.”  I’m not really into those.  Rather, it’s more like this, well worth a look-see if you’ve got five minutes:  Now that I like!  And that I could do–with a little elbow grease and, of course, free time–if the bike’s not too complicated.

So the concept of restoring/modifying a ’70s-’80s era BMW has come in for a landing and taken up residency.  The bikes are air-cooled and carbureted, meaning a certain simplicity; and they’re shaft-driven, meaning virtually no maintenance once it’s up and running.

But these machines retain their value, a fact I soon learned from my numerous eBay searches!  Over the past several months I’ve found many ’70s-’80s era BMW r-series bikes.  But very few for under $3000!  And that’s just the starting point.  Once purchased I’d want to tear it town completely and restore/modify it from the frame up.

So why not start with only a frame and go from there, I thought?  There’s that whole section on eBay motors called “parts and accessories.”  Why not check that out?

So I did.

And ten days ago I ended up placing a bid on an r100/7 frame for $199.  (It helped me make the decision when I saw that the owner lived right here in San Antonio, meaning if on the off-chance I happened to win it, shipping would be free.)

It wasn’t the first bid I’d ever placed on eBay.  In fact I’d placed several.  But before making any bid I always establish a limit and stick to it.  That way I don’t get too carried away.  I suppose I’d do the same if I were ever to gamble.  But my point is that up till yesterday I’d always been outbid.

So my bid was $199, the lowest opening bid I could offer.  That was ten days ago, meaning nine days then remained until the bid would close.  My predetermined limit on the frame was $200.  This meant that if anyone else bid over my $199 opening bid, then I’d be outbid.

But no one did: no one else bid.

I’d pretty much forgotten about it.  But then eBay helpfully alerted me that my winning bid would soon close.  So I signed in and recalled what I’d done more than a week before.  And as I watched the clock run out and realized that I’d actually purchased an old, beat-up, greasy, dirty, used motorcycle frame, two things crossed my mind.  First, I’d have some explaining to do to my wife when she’d come home from work that afternoon to find an old motorcycle frame in the utility room (we have no garage).  But second, now I’d have something to do in the evenings, on the weekends, whenever no other obligations were otherwise demanding my attention.  Starting tonight, by the way.

So now I write with dirty fingernails and metal flakes on my pants.  I’ve got the frame nearly stripped of everything–except for the upper and lower races (in the “gooseneck”)–ready to be sandblasted and powdercoated.  The front end and rear end, both unanticipated bonuses, will be set upon tomorrow–or the next day, or the next; it doesn’t really matter–to be dismantled and similarly stripped, the swing arm and the fork sliders to join the frame in its powdercoating ritual.

BMW Project 2

It’ll take a while to complete this project, no doubt.  But I don’t really care.

Motorcycles, Music, and the Mediterranean

Posted in Background, Education, Family, Motorcycle, Rationale, Reflection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by timtrue


Just imagine for a moment cruising around the Mediterranean Riviera on a motorcycle, by yourself or with friends, whatever your pleasure, with an itinerary based upon concerts.  Would you start in Rome and work your way north and then west through France and Spain?  Or are you more attracted to the east side of the Middle-earth Sea, to the Greek Isles maybe, or to Istanbul, or the so-called Promised Land?  Or, perhaps you have a thirst for the peoples of North Africa–for Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco?  Or maybe you’d do it all.  Anyway, sounds like a great vacation to me.  Now if only I could find a way to finance it!

But contrary to whatever ideas the title of this post may suggest about travel, what I really want to discuss here is another “m” word: manumission.  For each of these things–motorcycles, music, and the Mediterranean–represent a liberation for me from a burden that had become a sort of personal bondage.  Perhaps this manumission has something to do with why I continue to be so drawn to each today.  (Perhaps, too, that imagined vacation suggested above will become a personal reality someday.)

So: motorcycles.  How do these represent liberation for me?  To answer I must go back to my boyhood, to when I was twelve years old or so and I got my first motorcycle.  It was a Yamaha MX80, not sure of the year, maybe 1972.  An unreliable two-stroke motor powered the beast.  I remember that it fouled sparkplugs regularly, so I soon learned to carry a spare in my increasingly bulging portable tool kit.  It possessed all of 6 or 7 horsepower, and could reach a top speed of thirty-five, maybe–if I rode it down a really steep hill wide open and engaged the clutch!

But it provided me with a certain freedom I’d not known previously.  For my older brother, who had a much more reliable 1976 Honda XR75, and I now had the ability to explore far beyond where any of our previous pedestrian adventures had allowed us to go.  Many a time did we ride from our house to the bed of Callegas Creek, taking whatever footpaths and backroads we could to get there and to avoid the fuzz.  We fashioned ourselves as little rebels without a cause.  At least we did until another fouled plug threw a temporary glitch into the day.  But then we fashioned ourselves as expert mechanics.

On this note, I remember a day when we couldn’t for the life of us figure out how to get my steed back in working order.  We were three or four miles from home, stuck in a fairly boggy part of the creek bed, scratching our heads in adolescent befuddlement.  Long story short, one of us found a bedraggled piece of discarded rope; and, knowing how to tie numerous knots from Scouts, Older Brother towed me the distance.  To heck with non-street-legal status, we said; this was an emergency!  Fifteen minutes later we’d made it home in one piece, and we’d avoided the fuzz’s notice.

We didn’t always succeed, however, at avoiding the fuzz’s notice.  I can remember more than once riding my manumission-enabling motorcycle right past a cop driving in the other direction.  I can even remember seeing the cop’s frowning face and pointing finger, indicating his desire for me to pull over.

But I had some things going for me, and I knew it.  First off, the roads were narrow and windy.  It would be at least thirty seconds before the cop could turn around successfully.  By then I’d be a quarter-mile away.  Second, I knew these quasi-rural narrow windy streets as well if not better than he did.  There lay before me any combination of lefts, rights, and straight-aheads so that by the time said cop managed to turn his bulky Ford-Crown-Victoria self around he’d be left to guess his way forward like so many youths in the Minotaur’s labyrinth.  Ha!  And, third and finally, I could go off-road if necessary, as a last resort (which I actually did once).  What could the copper do then?  Pull his pistol on me?  Really?  Yeah, like that’d go over well in the Camarillo Daily News!  Cop Shoots Kid on 6-Horsepower Sparkplug-fouling Motorbike.

Anyway, I never did get pulled over, arrested, thrown in juvey, whatever.  Instead I always managed to defy the law (and my plug-fouling steed) successfully, high-tailing it home lickety-split, parking the bike in the garage, shutting it down, closing the garage door, and heading into the house to take a nonchalant seat on the couch as if I’d only been playing Space Invaders on the ATARI all morning long.

Manumission I tell you!


A second liberating experience happened in college, after deciding to change my major from mathematics to music.  It happened this way.

I entered college in 1986, three months after graduating high school.  But I had no idea what to do with my life, what to declare as a major, and so on.  Long about second semester of my senior year in high school, in fact, I’d looked around and thought, “Yeah, I guess I ought to go to college.  Don’t want to end up delivering flowers the rest of my life.”  So I applied to enroll like so many of my friends at a local community college.

But that blasted application asked me to choose a major!

So I wondered and reflected and contemplated and pondered and thought and over-analyzed, as I am wont to do.  What am I good at?  What do I like to do?

In the end I checked the box that said forestry.  How cool would that be, I reasoned, to backpack around Yosemite or Kings Canyon and check the lakes to see if they’re stocked with enough fish!

But in my first year of college I almost gave up.  Flower delivery, after all, was paying me pretty well.

It was the math, really.  I’d let calculus get the better of me.

The fall of 1987 came around and I determined to get back up on that horse–or, to use another metaphor, to fix that fouled plug and ride the motorbike home.  I poured every bit of mental effort I had into my second attempt at calculus.  And I found I actually understood it, even liked it!

At the same time I was taking music appreciation and music theory courses.  These I enjoyed too.  But they were almost effortless for me.  I wrote the first coherent paper of my life, comparing Beethoven to the Beatles–and earned an A.  I devoured every musical rule I learned; compositions flowed.  So, I reasoned, because of the effortlessness these courses must not be as academic as math, somehow.

Yet I enjoyed them so much so that I shared with my engineer-dad my struggle.  “Dad,” I said, “um, well, I’m still technically a forestry major.  But I’m thinking of changing my major to either music or math.  And, uh, since you’re paying the bills and all, well, what do you think?”

“What kind of job could you get with a music degree?” he asked.

So I officially changed my major to mathematics.

Three years later I was in Davis, California, the fall of 1990, beginning what I hoped would be my final year of college.  Math was a struggle, but the end was in sight–if only I could pass analysis and combinatorics.  Everything else came easily enough for me.  But these two courses were a struggle.

Then there was music.  I was still taking music courses on the side, for fun.  But it felt somehow wrong, like dating two girls at the same time.

“And besides,” I asked myself, “what would I do with a math degree?  Teach?

“I could always teach music. . . .

“And that whole silly dream of being a fighter pilot in the Air Force, well, really, Tim, that was kind of a passing fancy, wasn’t it?

“Aren’t you really feeling more of a tug to pursue ministry?”

And so I was.

Couple this with things taking a turn for the worse in my first significant relationship with a girl–another story for another day.

So then, it all exploded over Christmas break.  My girlfriend broke up with me (on Christmas Day no less!) and faithful Music and jealous Math found out what was going on.  The gig was up.

So I again sought sage Engineer-dad’s counsel.

“Do what you want, Tim,” he said.  “But keep in mind that the money will be used up by the end of this year.  So if you end up staying on, you’ll have to pay for it.”

So I did.  I changed my major to music and stayed on–another two years.  And I paid for it out of my own pocket.  Happily!  For I’d been manumitted.

On to the Mediterranean then!


Some years after graduating college I was indeed teaching.  Ironically it included math.  By now I was married with two daughters, ages 3 and 1.  And I was frankly disappointed in the educational prospects for my kids.  So I began to consider and contemplate and think about and ponder and over-analyze the idea of home-schooling my children if necessary, to offer them something better than the other options we were faced with–if necessary.  My question to myself, then, was where I lacked.

I began reading lots of books about education, turning first to the history of education and then to the seven liberal arts of the Middle Ages themselves.  Curiously, my education had included lots of stuff.  Serendipitously, I was already quite well-versed in the quadrivium–arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music.  But, aha!, the trivium revealed a gap.  Sure, I knew some things about grammar, dialectic (logic), and rhetoric.  But these were not taught once upon a time as we teach subjects today.  They were seen more as stages, as Dorothy Sayers points out in a rather famous essay.  Anyway, to learn the languages of Greek and Latin would reasonably fill in my personal academic gaps, I concluded.

So at 32 years of age I dived into the ancient Mediterranean pool of classical languages.  And again I experienced a sort of manumission.  For I wasn’t the only person seeing educational deficiencies in our modern culture, I soon discovered.  Lots of schools in fact were restructuring their curricula to incorporate these same ancient models, or starting up as altogether new.  And I soon found a place teaching Latin, not to mention ancient Mediterranean cultures, to students.  I found schools to which I could send my kids with a clear conscience too.  Manumission!

So there it is, really: my manumission theme and three variations.  But, before I conclude, I’d like to add a coda.

That 3 year-old is now a sophomore in college.  She is studying this semester in Florence, Italy, smack-dab in the middle of all things Mediterranean.  And she is having the time of her life.

She’s been there only a few weeks.  But already she has traveled to Rome and Pompeii, and to Ravenna.  She will be taking a field trip to, among other places, Venice.  While in Florence, in addition to studying, she will enjoy an internship restoring Etruscan artifacts.  She recently wrote me to say,

“While doing my homework this evening, I glanced at a picture of Zeus that I’ve seen in several textbooks over the years.  I then realized that this sculpture resides exactly where I do.  I think it’s finally hit me that I live in the midst of, essentially with, all the history and art that I have studied in the past several years.  I’m currently in awe.”

There’s something very liberating in all of this.


Solo Gigglefest

Posted in Motorcycle with tags , , on September 21, 2013 by timtrue

bike from Em 1

I once heard Colorado described as a boom-bust state, with more bust than boom.  That’s pretty much what rainfall is like in San Antonio.  We can go long stretches with hundred-degree days and not a drop of precipitation.  Then boom!  Clouds roll in, lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, and the floodgates of heaven are opened.  At the very beginning of June, for example, we got nearly twelve inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

When this happens, streets flood.  Then parts of our beloved city–sports complexes, parks, and golf courses mainly–end up under water for a time.  That’s usually about the time national news airs a video of some thrill-seeker canoeing down Devine Road.

It doesn’t help that many streets in the city are little more than paved over drainage basins: creek beds, if you will.  Just a block and a half from my house, in fact, a major street ends up looking more like a river rafting paradise after fifteen solid minutes of downpour.

This background provides context, by the way, for my day yesterday.  It was one of those days where a good deal of rain fell.  Fortunately, unlike that day in early June, the rain did not fall constantly.  Rather, several strong downpours pommeled the city, each lasting an hour or so with stretches of rainfall-free times in between.  But the paved over creek beds that now serve as roads were flowing all day long.  And I was on my motorcycle.

I could go into the details about why I was on the bike.  They involve a flat tire and an emergency room visit.  But otherwise they’re not too exciting.  Suffice to say that I had no choice.  It was drive-the-motorcycle-to-work day for me or AWOL.  I chose the former.  I had some appointments to keep, after all.  Besides, I assured myself, I would wear my water-resistant coat and wrap my backpack in a waterproof cover.  How bad could it be?

Resigning myself that I would surely get wet, that I would surely ride through a downpour or two, I left for work at my typical time of 7:30am.  I took a back way, intentionally avoiding that creek-bed street a block and a half away.  It was slow going through residential areas mostly.  But other than having to skirt around a few puddles I managed to get to work dry.

Five minutes later a downpour began.

Next ride came at a little after 9am, a three-mile trek to a Bible Study at a parishioner’s home.  Again, resigning myself that I’d probably get wet, I grabbed my helmet and coat and headed out the church doors.  That downpour mentioned in the last paragraph had ended not ten minutes earlier.

This time I didn’t have the luxury of taking residential streets the whole way, but rather had to journey down Broadway, one of San Antonio’s busiest streets.  It wasn’t so much a paved creek bed as other streets, though, but it still collected a few large and deep puddles in choice locations.  Two or three of these I would have to pass, I knew, maybe through but possibly around, if they were still small enough.  But with my luck a neighboring car or pickup or SUV should no doubt drive through one or more of these large and deep puddles right as I was alongside, thereby soaking me head to foot.  As likely as not anyway, I said to myself.

Well, again I arrived mostly dry.  I couldn’t avoid riding through a small puddle or three on the way over, but my bike was made to handle this kind of stuff after all; and my boots were water resistant too, meaning the spray that reached effectively amounted to nothing.

Writing this now I wonder how it must have looked to those older parishioners inside as I approached their gathering to offer a prayer of blessing.  Black motorcycle boots, black pants, black water-resistant coat unzipped to reveal my black clergy shirt and collar: “We’re so glad you have a motorcycle,” one of them smiled; another said carelessly, “As you pulled up I thought, what are the cops doing here?”

Anyway, no sooner had I sat down to visit a little, cup of coffee in hand, when another downpour hit.

Thirty minutes later it stopped.  The prayer was done and the visit seemed as good a place as any to finish.  So I left.  And I made it back to the office similarly as I’d made it to the Bible Study: insufficiently wet.  Except this time a puddle or two had managed to spray my entire boots and then some, meaning the bottoms of my pants and my socks were a little wet too.

One of these puddles, by the way, I rode through at about 40 mph.  I anticipated the spray enough ahead of time to lift my feet up to about hand level as I did so.  This is where I think my socks got wet.  But the thing I remember most clearly is that a pickup truck driving towards me flashed his high beams on and off at me a couple of times, as if he were laughing at me.

One more daytrip awaited.  Sure enough another downpour came and went in the interim, the biggest of the day so far.  The ride to my destination, a class I’m auditing at a local university, posited several more puddles in my path.  But now I was confident.  My bike was built for this stuff.  And I’d learned how to avoid spray, more or less, by lifting my feet.  And I was giving my core a workout.  It was a win-win, really.

As I pulled into the university parking lot rain began to fall from the sky.  This was the first time I’d been caught outside in it all day, by the way.  And, benignly, the floodgates waited to open until I was inside.

Still, I showed up to class wetter than I’d been all day so far.  Though I was a lot drier than the few students who’d arrived after I had!

The present downpour lasted the full hour of class.  And by the looks of it, it was the worst of the day.

Still, somehow, the rain stopped before I got back on the bike.  I left the university and headed for home–for at last a car was available for me, if I would bring one of the kids home from school.  Sure thing!

But now the roads were at their worst yet.  Puddles now appeared where they hadn’t yet and the low water crossing on Devine Road in fact had water crossing it.  No problem.  My bike was made for this kind of stuff.

So, having gained valuable experience on my earlier rides, I now navigated the windy, wet, creek-bed streets confidently, meaning at the posted speed limit, maybe even a little over.  And what of the puddles?  I could just lift my feet and fly through them, no slowing necessary while I worked my core.  Downpours, schnownpours!

That was my attitude anyway until I passed through one water body that was really more like a small lake than a puddle.  I saw it coming; I lifted my feet with a smile on my face; I entered the mere.  Dang, I thought as I watched my handlebars dip, this thing’s at least a foot deep!

I didn’t crash, nothing like that, fortunately.  But as my handlebars dipped something else happened too: a wall of water rose in front of me, up and over my footpegs, up and over my raised feet, up and over my hands, up and over my windshield, and up and over my head.  I was positively drenched!

A pickup driving towards me flashed his high beams two or three times.  But he didn’t need to.  I was already giggling like a little boy.

Still an Enthusiast

Posted in Motorcycle with tags , , on June 21, 2013 by timtrue

I crashed my motorcycle for the first time today.  Check out this road rash.  DSCF2780  Pretty, eh?  There are other damaged areas on the bike–the left hand guard, the kickstand, and the left passenger footpeg–but this, the tank guard, is the worst.  Fortunately, it’s nothing a few bucks and wrenches can’t replace.  Smart bike makers, those KTM engineers.

Now check out the road.  DSCF2788  See those gouges across the pavement?  They’re from the passenger peg and kickstand, a memorial of sorts, to remind me every time I leave the church parking lot of that time I wrecked.

So what about me?  I’ll spare you the pictures, but . . .

I was leaving the church parking lot, heading home to let the piano movers in.  They had arrived.  I was excited.  Maybe a little too excited.  Hey, I hadn’t tickled the ivories in almost two months.  So on the second turn out of the lot I leaned into a leftward turn.  Routine, for the most part, but no one was around, so I may have leaned too far, and maybe I was going a little faster than prudent.  It was like I hit a patch of black ice.  Only it was ninety degrees, so whahuh?

A thousand questions passed through my head in a split second: Why does it feel like my front tire is not grabbing the pavement?  Crap, I must be going down.  Why here, in front of the church?  Why now, during my first week on the job?  I wonder how much this will hurt.  I wonder if the VBS kids are watching.  What’s my new boss going to think?  Should I call in sick this afternoon?  What am I going to tell my wife?  Et cetera.

The impact wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated.  In fact, I hardly felt anything.  I just remember stopping short while the bike kept going, sliding, nearly horizontal, across the pavement.  I wonder how much that’ll decrease its value, I thought.  Thus it slid, very slowly it seemed, into a curb when the tire, still spinning as the engine idled, gripped the pavement and the engine stalled.  At least I didn’t need to flip the kill switch.

So I got to my feet.  Still no noticeable pain.  Really?  Next, I didn’t go to the bike.  Whatever damage had been done was there now and wouldn’t go away.  And no more would be done for the time being.  Instead, then, I walked to the point in the road where I figured the tire slid.  I don’t really know why I did this, unless it was my disbelief.  I crashed.  I actually crashed.  Anyway, no sand, no gravel, nothing discernible.  Huh.  Like it or not, I concluded humbly, this crash was due to my own stupidity.

The next task was to pick the bike up.  It weighs about 500 pounds, a fact I’d known in my mind since purchasing it, but not in my flesh.  In a word, it’s heavy.  After some trial and error–stress error–turning my back to the bike and grabbing strategically then using my legs for leverage, and grateful I don’t own an 800-pound Harley, I managed somehow to succeed.

That’s when I first noticed my elbow.  It cried foul, stinging as if I hadn’t been wearing my armor-embedded mesh coat over my short-sleeved clericals.  Good thing I had been.

By the time I arrived home, ahead of the piano movers incidentally, both knees were hurting too.  Was that a bloodstain on my right pant leg?  Yes.  Yes, it was.

By the time the piano movers did arrive, some minutes later, I had been able to tend to my elbow and knees.  Not much damage, really: a few strawberries, one stanched by a bandaid, the right knee.  But by now some more pain had surfaced.  A Charlie horse.  A sore left shoulder.  And, worst of all, a sore ribcage, the left side, hurting every time I take a deep breath (still).  But I don’t think anything’s broken.

Now, with the piano movers here, the bride and kids get home from VBS.  Time to face the music, I think, still jittery from an overdose of adrenaline.  Long story short, the kids see my strawberries and guess what happened; the bride, whom I thought was preoccupied fixing lunch in the kitchen, exclaims, “What!”; and the piano movers tacitly snigger.  The bride then asks, “Are you done now with your midlife crisis?  Aren’t you ready to sell your motorcycle?”

I decide not to call in sick after all.

Besides, I’ve had worse bicycle accidents.

For the record, then, I remain a resolute motorcycle enthusiast.

In any event, there are many parallels here, yeah?  I’m on a journey.  We all are.  Most of the time it’s an enjoyable ride, things are more or less predictable, even when the road ahead is unfamiliar.  But occasionally something unpredictable happens.  Maybe we’re victimized; maybe it’s due to our own stupidity.  Maybe we come away feeling fortunate or even lucky, with only a few scrapes and bruises.  Maybe it’s actually worse than we realize initially, with aches and pains and other trials fully realized only in time.  Whatever the case, it’s time to work through what has come to pass.

The purpose of my blog is to chronicle my priestly pilgrimage ahead–something like a twenty-five year project (I’ll be seventy in twenty-five years).  No doubt I will encounter many such scrapes and bruises along the way.  Or worse.  I hope I can handle them with similar aplomb as this motorcycle crash.

Whatever the case, I intend to remain an enthusiast of the priesthood.