I have been riding quite often nowadays, and every time I come home, the house and everything in it breathes a sigh of relief. Its dangerous business, these motorcycles, and I know it and there is a chance every time I leave that I may not return. I am willing to take that on, at least for now, because I know when I am riding I give it all of my attention. I am not sure I have ever done this with anything else before. Even when I have performed standup comedy on national television, my mind wandered a bit. I drifted off during a couple of my routines during my brief stint on Dancing with the Stars, shaking a leg in front of 23 million viewers, all the while thinking about something else, most likely bagels.
Motorcycles are the one thing that have all of me, and as ADD and OCD as I am, that is no small statement. Today the challenge was to test drive the magnificent Harley-Davidson Sportster Low, a big bike that has truly captured my heart. This is the second time I have gone to the Glendale Harley-Davidson seeking out this 2 wheeled wonder. I just love the thing. The weight of it is rather shocking compared to the Honda Dream, but its substantial engine makes me feel like I could get out of danger quickly, and that might be a life saver.
They warn against buying too big a motorcycle to start with, and my little Honda Dream with its 305cc engine is proof that I have taken that sentiment to heart, but I think that there’s also the matter of needing to accelerate quickly out of harm’s way. I think that in most of the near misses I have had in my car, they didn’t become accidents firstly because of my ability to swerve, and just behind that, my ability to accelerate. Braking figures in about 3rd or 4th.
I have only been in one car accident in many years of driving everything from my beloved Mini Coopers to passenger vans filled to bursting with burlesque dancers and their heavy costumes, trying to see through their big hairdos, maneuvering gracefully on black ice and through hailstorms. It was only a fender bender, but it was my own fault. I was drunk, as this was nearly twenty years ago, and I ran into a gangbangers car. They were all pretty much skinny teenage boys, younger than me even then, and they spilled out of the vehicle one after the other like clowns. There were lots of them, and I was dangerously outnumbered on the isolated street, but I was so fucked up I screamed at them until they shook their heads and got back into their car and left me there. I was just too crazy to deal with. Since then, I have never ever and will never ever do anything like this again. Driving drunk is a deadly pastime and I see it in all its evil manifestations coming home from gigs every night. I am ashamed of my youthful foolishness and amazed at my luck in surviving my 20s.
This ice blue Sportster is powerful as a car, and I couldn’t ever imagine handling a machine as powerful as this under the influence of anything more than the wind. I couldn’t even ride a bicycle after a glass of wine. My balance and vision is affected enough to make me feel unsafe. The term ‘biker bar’ is odd to me because how could a motorcyclist drink anything stronger than coffee and expect to live? Riding the bike is a high in itself, and cutting anything into the pure drug of adrenaline and speed seems like a cheat.
At one point I traded bikes with Freddy, my awesomely knowledgeable and friendly Harley-Davidson sales rep who is helping me with my ever important motorcycle decision. He was riding the other bike I had requested – The Forty Eight. Aesthetically, the Forty-Eight is my dream machine. It’s simply gorgeous. The matte black of it makes me literally weak in the knees. My butt can’t help itself but be drawn to the seat. My legs part instantly when I see one. It’s crude I know, but this bike – it’s made to spread me. There’s tremendous power in the engine but somehow it feels more compact. Dynamite comes in small packages. The footpegs are far in front, so my legs extend forward uncomfortably and completely straight, and you know me – no matter what I do, I will never be straight!
I have to point my toe to slam on the rear brake. I am a rear braker, or an equal opportunity braker, and there’s something balletic and incongruous about braking en pointe. This bike is for a lanky man with legs and arms several inches longer than mine. I would need to go to china and have that weird surgery where they break the bones in your legs and put plates in so they’ll gradually grow together, lengthening the limbs and adding height along with immeasurable pain. The recovery period is estimated not in weeks but years. I am not sure I could get that much time off work.
There’s a chemistry though – something undeniable that is happening between me and the Forty-Eight, and even though I did have to make Freddy pull over and switch bikes with me, as I panicked about my leg position so much that I couldn’t concentrate on all the other things I need to focus on while riding, I feel like the Forty-Eight might be the one for me. Some adjustment with the footpegs and maybe a slight tinkering of handlebars and this may be my hog. Yes. Maybe. I need to stop writing now and look at pictures of the Forty-Eight online. If you own one please comment here and tell me how you like it. I think I may be in love.