Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Here's a problem I never considered solving:

I was at the dealer getting a new front tire when a guy road up on an Electra Glide with one of those little chinese dogs (chi-poo? something like that, with blond hair in it's eyes) sitting in the rear seat.  Nothing holding him in but will power.  The little dog waited patiently while he stopped and parked the bike, then jumped into his hands.  I asked the guy how far he had ridden like that, and he said a couple of miles from his home.

The dog rides everywhere with him around town.  When he first started carrying it, he tied it down with a leash so it couldn't jump off.  It never tried, so he left off the leash.   He did say he never goes over about 30 mph like that.  For longer and faster trips he uses a pet carrier strapped to the seat.

O, and the dog wasn't wearing a helmet, either.


Thursday, April 22, 2010



Purty thing, though, ain't it?  A 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 900.  This photo was taken up at Stillhouse Hollow Lake, on a boat ramp below the Lampasas River bridge. 

I blame my brother.  He got one, so I had to get one.  That's the Law of the West.  East too, I guess.

Now I have to figure out how to use the thing.  And that's not as easy as it sounds.  O, it's not the riding part.  That comes back amazingly fast.  Nor even the weather.  I have a rain suit, and the sense to get into it.

It's a bit more fundamental than that.  It's a butt problem.

The last time I had a bike was back in the 1980s.  I drove it up to Colorado for most of a month, camping out in the boonies, sleeping on the cold, cold ground.  Ah, those were the days....

When I finally got back, my butt was so sore it clouded my mind a bit. After the Yamaha 1100 sat unused out in garage for several months, I sold it to a cop.  I'm told he wrecked it within the month.

The sad fact is, most all the pleasure of riding is in the first 30 minutes.   And it's no damn slouch.  You know, that blue sky feeling, the crazy illusion of  balance and beauty and grace, a blurred rush of ground beneath you like an electric sander approaching your toes, the wind in what's left of your hair, etc., etc.  All that stuff.

Over the following 15 minutes, though... Houston, I believe we have a problem.

From then on it's just one fresh hell after another.  Hot spots rise up beneath you like little solar flares.  Your back siezes up in the Vulcan Death Grip.  And then there's that incessant funny little dance from the waist up at 70 mph, leaning and twisting and rising, trying to find relief.  Any relief at all.  It's sort of the reverse of clogging.

The bike still looks good.  But it feels like this:

"Do you expect me to talk?"  "No, Mr. Bond.  I expect you to die."

So where can you actually travel on a motorcycle?  The answer so far seems to be anywhere that takes less than an hour.  All the way to Arkansas appears to be out of the question.  But I've already gotten acquainted with half the back roads in two counties, in a broad arc from Bertram to Belton to Bartlett and back.  Next up is a swing to the south.

Is this really travel?  Or just a carny ride?  Maybe it doesn't matter.  It's fun to go driving just for the heck of it.  I used to do that in a pickup.  I'd got out of the habit, over the years, in an age of 2 dollar, 3 dollar, 4 dollar gas.

The Vulcan gets 45 mpg.  I don't even have to think about it.

So now it's just me and the motor and the maize out here in the country, rolling along between the fencerows at 40 mph, not a care in the world.  Maybe today I'll  wander up to Weir, check on the Weirdos.  Or Walburg, pick up a beer and a burger.  Practice that little lefthanded low down wave us bad bikers give each other.  I think it's required, once my probation is up.

Pure bliss, rented by the hour.  Not bad.  But after the hour is up, or until my butt is beaten into shape, I have get off for a while.  No, I haven't figured out the right frolic-to-rest ratio just yet.  But I'm working on it.

If only I could leave my ass at home.