Monday, June 1, 2009


I was riding home as usual, enjoying another warm summer morning, just as the sun was starting to clear the eastern sky, when I took a spill. One minute I was cruising along at 45 miles per hour, the next the handlebars took an almighty waggle and I was in an attitude of prayer with the Bonneville on its side underneath me in the middle of the Overseas Highway.
The wreck occurred on Big Coppitt at Mile Marker Ten in front of the Shell gas station at the Circle K. I was heading northbound with no cars around me, but I could see headlights ahead and I was uncertain where I was expected to be in the roadway as there were three lanes none of them marked clearly. Sewers are being laid in the area and the road is being repaved bit by bit. I tried to move into the right lane when the yellow lines appeared in front of me but the right lane was freshly paved and at least four inches higher than the surface I was riding on.
A guy riding a silver FJR (Ithink) stopped and his eyes were like saucers - apparently my spill was quite spectacular, as I fought to regain control of the weaving Bonneville...
A car driver also stopped and they got the bike up and out of traffic, I assured them I was okay, my boots gloves and jacket had done their part though my pants were shredded at both knees which are a tad bit bloody at the moment.
The phone call to my wife was a bit fraught as these kinds of calls tend to be, but I managed to reassure her I was fine (adrenaline is a wonderful thing!) and we made plans for her to come and pick me up so I could trailer the Bonneville home later.

I decided to roll the motorbike off the shouler and it started up just fine, the lights came on, and though my new aftermarket tach is dead ($200 argh!) and my Parabellum windshield is in shards ($280 double argh!!) and my air temperature gauge vaporised ($60! bugger!) the engine fired right up. I rode down a side street and found everything to be quite stable and operational, though the handlebars had quite a twist to them and the mirrors were a bit messed up...I got the left mirror aimed correctly and after a second phone call reassured my wife I was good to go, I rode off. The headlight took some scratches:I'll have to see what Pure Triumph thinks but barring a few scuffs, and if the forks are okay I could get out of this with a war damaged motorcycle without having to go out and look for another Bonneville. The front mudguard got a little torn:The right saddle bag died in the line of duty ($250):And I'll need a new jacket and gloves. It's funny because I had been looking into getting a pair of Tourmaster Flex pants and they would have saved me scraping my knees (again! after my right knee healed from my walking acccident!) and my jacket did a nice job of protecting did my leather gloves and my boots. No doubt I will be sore for a while though...I bruise more easily now than in my youth.My poor old Bonneville will bear a few more scars from doing battle on the highway but I have no doubt we will be riding again together soon. I was incidentally, wearing an open face helmet which apparently never touched the ground. All in all an expensive start to the day. And I hope Toppino's fuckwits figure out how to label the roadworks in Big Coppitt a little more clearly in the future because we will be back before too long I hope. Now, where are the keys to the Nissan?

Galveston At Olivia

Galveston Lane meanders a bit across the middle of Key West from Windsor Lane, past Bill Butler Park and pops out at Olivia Street. It may be surprising but as far as I can tell this narrow street is not actually a one way, so caution when riding it would be in order. Galveston is another of those lanes that enjoys more than one spelling, and some people apparentlky aren't at all happy with the version that I am familiar with, spelled with an "E."On the Windsor Lane end the spelling is GalvAston Lane, so geeks can spend many happy hours wandering back and forth enjoying the confusion. Which is a very pleasant thing to do as it turns out, as there some interesting old houses and lots of greenery:It always surprises me when I come across vast spacious empty lots in this town. You'd think every square inch (centimeter) of this very expensive island would be built up, but that's not the case. According to J Wills Burke's book Streets of Key West, the Lane is named for the coastal city in Texas which was served by Stephen Mallory's steamship line. So I am going to stick with calling it GalvEston Lane. I would have to be Cirque du Soleil agile, or equipped with a ladder, or eight feet tall to violate this well protected space:This one is protected by a row of conch shells:This yard is protected by screening shrubbery:I read with interest a recent entry in the Swiss daily photo blog by the person known only as Z, in my blog list, where he pushed the camera over a wall and photographed an elephant statue in a neighbor's yard. It seemed a risque move for a place as staid as Switzerland, though the result was decidedly worth it; check out his blog it's full of surprises. Would that were so in Key West. All I got was a picture of a deteriorating window frame from a similar exploration:Though looking up I saw a rather nice pair of blue shutters thrown wide open, which surprised me as the weather has been rather humid and close lately, with overcast skies adding to the sense of oppressive heat. I would rather have my loft closed tight and well air conditioned:Across the lane next to the park there was a trailer, quite picturesque with its attendant greenery in the faint rays of a setting sun:Underfoot I spotted some wildlife:Overhead some large brown fruit. I never tire of pointing out that I am neither ornithologist nor botanist so in this case I can safely admit I have only the faintest clue what it might be. It was hanging twenty feet in the air and it looked for all the world like breadfruit, but I have never been offered local breadfruit in Key West. Which is a shame because I am quite fond of starchy vegetables and breadfruit with curried goat is a delicious dish on the menu in the British West Indies (as were). Or perhaps it is a giant guava? Who knows...but there it was:This I happen to know is a poinciana, frequently given the prefix of "royal," why I know not. In the West Indies it's known as a "flamboyant," while elsewhere in the tropics they call it "flame tree" for obvious reasons. It is a flamboyant flowering specimen and these bright orange flowers brighten up Key West during the early summer. I also found out the origin of the musical term maracas, which are apparently the dried seed pods of the flamboyant used as percussion instruments:This large spreading flame tree oversees Bill Butler Park, offering plenty of shadefor dog walkers who find a supply of plastic bags next to the trash cans. I hope they use them:Further along Galveston Lane breaks out into good old bougainvillea, which in case you read badly researched books, doesn't actually give off any scent at all ("bougainvillea scented tropical nights" is literary crap) but I think it looks good:And there, past the corner Galveston makes a bee line towards Windsor Lane in the distance:"Sublime, chust sublime," to quote the seafaring Scotsman Para Handy.