Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bonneville Commute, Or How I Burn Dead Dinosaurs

It is not, in motorcycling terms, a great commute. It's 27 miles of mostly two lane road at sea level with not too many curves.


But the thing is, I really like riding it.


Every afternoon when I'm working I actually look forward to the ride. Cheyenne gets grumpy and retreats to the bedroom when she sees me assembling my gear and as a result I try not to be too cheerful as I leave the house.


The trick I have found to keep my forty minute commute interesting is to treat each ride as a separate challenge. Some days I work hard to pass the slow cars on the road, and because the dotted line passing areas are limited it can be quite a challenge. I'm not twenty years old any more so risky passing and being deliberately stupid are out of the question.


Other days I pull off the Highway when traffic backs up and I'll explore a side street for a couple of minutes to let the cars get ahead. Other days I leave a few minutes early and stop to take pictures.


The Bonneville is an easy bike to ride, undemanding with light controls and enough power to take on the assholes who speed up when I go to pass them and a clutch light enough I never get cramps from changing gear in town.


It's got 54,000 miles on the clock most of them racked up here on theOverseas Highway. I like taking longer trips with the bike including my Iron Butts but as long as Cheyenne is around I prefer to take her with me when I can which is limiting when it comes to riding. I end up driving the car more than I would like, all for the sake of my Labrador.


I feel like a jerk grinning inanely for the camera but I guess part of the point is that I do wear protective clothing, including Kevlar pants and a mesh jacket and gloves. I don't know how people ride without gloves, I feel exposed without them. Much more so than riding without a helmet.


The views on this ride are excellent, even thought they don't vary much. This time of year the sun is relatively high on the horizon at five pm, but my return trip around six in the morning is in total darkness, which I enjoy a lot.


The curves in the highway are pretty mild too, so the stock suspension that gives many owners fits works just fine for me. I am often rathe dubious when people start their motor bikes before they have even ridden them much. It takes me about five thousand miles to get to know a new machine.


Coming in to Big Coppitt at Mile Marker Ten the speed limit drops from 55 to 45 and frequently there are people fishing or admiring the view at the free public boat ramp.


One of the pleasures of highway one is that anywhere there's a shoulder one can pull over and stop to admire the view. Not everyone does of course, they seem to prefer to weave and dawdle in the traffic lanes. And where the highway runs through Big Coppitt there is always the danger of a left turning car.


I position myself close to the center line to make sure cars can see me coming. After Big Coppitt the highway resumes a 55 mile per hour speed limit and the road becomes a four lane speedway the last four miles to Stock Island.


Actually it's a four lane all the way to the Police Station at Garrison Bight, though through Stock Island and into Key West the speed limit drops to 35mph.


If I arrive in town at all early I'll pull off on a side street and take off some gear to ride around town in the 90 degree heat of an October afternoon and snatch some pictures as I go before arriving refreshed and invigorated, thanks to the Bonneville, at work.


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