Saturday, October 9, 2010

Iron Butt Bun Burner

This is not your average Iron Butt Rider's choice of motorcycle. There again I am a dilettante in the world of long distance hard core motorcycle riding. So I ride what I have. I leave the fully faired, shaft driven, multi-cylinder, 30mpg electronically enhanced snorting beasts to the people who can actually use them.Still, at about the time I set this essay to publish I was planning on leaving home, for reasons that become less clear the closer the deadline looms, and setting off across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, clipping West Virginia and Maryland, cutting across industrial Pennsylvania and collapsing in a Motel 6 in Binghamton New York, just a few hundred miles from the land of free health care and Tea Party-free politics. Don't tempt me.
The weather forecast looks to be dry and sunny by day and frigid by night- close to 70 degrees at lunch and 50 degrees twelve hours later. That poses a challenge but I will be layered in many ...layers and my windshield will help a little I hope. Many of the hard core people use saddle enhancers to give them stamina but I find the Triumph stock saddle to be adequate as planks go. And the idea of buying electrically heated clothing, as desirable as that sounds this close to the deadline, seems absurd in light of the fact that all the rest of my riding doesn't come close to requiring such elaborate gear.
Mechanical failure, a flat tire, freezing cold or some other meteorological catastrophe could all combine with simple exhaustion to kill off this attempt (if not myself) so I am open to failure and have alternative plans in case the things becomes impossible ( I have yet to visit the Outer Banks for example). However when I rode the 1,000 mile Iron Butt in 21 hours a year ago I found I was entirely up to the challenge as was the Bonneville. Now with 42,000 miles on the clock and new tires, chain and oil the motorbike seems as capable as ever providing I am. I have no electronics, relying instead on maps, a tank map case and use of major roads to keep things simple on the way up. The Overseas Highway, the Florida Turnpike, I-95, I-26, I-77, I-81.If I get up to the frozen north Jack riepe has promised to meet me and refresh me by having his dogs savage me and his friends mock me which will be reward enough for abandoning my family and my cherished palms.I will promptly festoon his life with used underwear and smelly wool socks so we will be even. My wife understands my desire to take a break and go for a ride but the light of my life will no doubt be annoyed when I get home. We have never been apart more than 13 hours in the last year.
Oh well, it's too late to change my mind now. Deus vult.

Airport Pick Up

What happens when a newspaper columnist goes to pick up a passenger at the airport? Big changes happen in the way we get to pick people up at the airport if she has a hard time. That's what! Mandy Miles wrote in her Sunday column Tan Lines that she had the greatest difficulty picking up a friend at the airport. Sheriff's deputies were rude and there was nowhere sensible to stop to make the pick up. There was a flood of comments in agreement and suddenly we learned that things were going to change. New quick pick up spaces were painted green and reserved for private vehicles in front of the arrivals area:Cabs get their line in the area between the garage and the terminal building.
No deputies were in evidence when I arrived to pick up my wife from her successful trip to California to see Pete and Amanda get married.I used the parking lot that used to be reserved solely for employees and everything went as smoothly as can be. The squeaky wheel gets well and truly greased. To the benefit of all in this case. I hope the customer service training went as well for the deputies as it does, periodically, for us at the police department.