Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Welcome Home XR 100

Our first night together, he's going to stay with me.

One part garage, one part smoky bar, his smell is definitely a departure from my once-pristine, sweet-smelling little space.

"This is definitely going to be a very non-chick way to live for a while, " Dave said as we maneuvered the bike through the door. "Maybe they make pink gas cans.

It's not a permanent arrangement, just until I can get a lock and tarp for the backyard. One thing for sure, he looks a lot bigger in here than he did outside in Dave's huge yard.

"Have fun with your new roommate," Dave said as he left just now. "Make sure you tuck him in."

Dave once told me about the time a long time ago when he and another guy kept their motorcycles in their house, so they could take them apart, spread the parts on the kitchen table, and ride their bikes through the front door. Times sure have changed. My father, once known for scare tactics like showing me and my little brother graphic pictures of injuries he'd seen in the ER and in his practice: "that could have been your skull if you'd been on that motorcycle" or "see this black thing? It's what happens to your lungs when you smoke" has mellowed considerably. When I told him I was getting a dirtbike, all he said was that he hoped he wouldn't be getting any calls from the ER like he did when I did the Pikes Peak Ascent last summer and had a heat stroke. "You've always marched to the beat of your own drummer; just be careful." Thanks Dad. My mom: "A dirtbike? Is that like a bicycle?"

Anyway, here we are. I'm not sure what to think of the white skulls on the sides of the gas tank. I would have preferred flowers. But I think we're going to be a good pair.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Return of the XR 100

I live in a small loft in downtown Denver, dubbed "the Pink Palace," for its funky, bright, and pink-flowered color scheme. But soon my little 530 square foot space (aka IKEA on steroids, according to a girlfriend) will have a new occupant--a new (old--'83) Honda XR 100, just two years older than my previous '81 that I had to return to the 12-year-old boy who wanted it back, just when I was beginning to love it. It was a sad moment, especially when my BFF and master mechanic/riding instructor extraordinaire, Dave, pretty much rebuilt it from an old rusting piece of something his friend Hondo was going to get rid of. Trouble was, once it was shiny (well, not really) and rebuilt, his son wanted it back. This scrappy little thing had become cool, just a few months after I'd been riding it--mostly into campsites, unsuspecting hikers, and prickly bushes--but still.

When I could manage to stay on it, I rode a course that Dave set up, in a big field next to a car dealership in Golden. People who drove by stared or laughed--often both. When Dave wasn't yelling to "let it out slow" or "c'mon hon, shift," he was shaking with laughter. So was I, which made it hard to stay on. Soon though, I progressed to the trails around the small town of Pine.

"Hey, where are we going to ride?" I asked Dave as we bounced around so hard on the jeep trail that his Weimaraner and I both nearly hit our heads on the truck's roof. "Whaddya mean," he said. "We're gonna ride here."

That first ride in Pine saw me cruise to fourth gear and feel the full exhilaration of riding full-on, not on the back of the bike as was usually the case, but motoring ahead myself. Dave let me go ahead, so he could keep an eye out. The first time I heard other bikes coming my way, my heart started pounding and I gripped the bars hard. Truth is, I pulled over. When Dave caught up to me, he got off too, to let these Spider Man lookalikes speed by. Whereas they were suited up, my only gear was a helmet.

So now it's two years later and life has gone by. I've continued to be a passenger, but not a rider. And that needs to stop.

Let's begin again XR 100.