Sunday, September 9, 2012

Old Bikes, Museum Pieces

I saw this old Kawasaki paused by the diesel pump which made me think of how agricultural we perceive our old bikes to be.

Looking at the Barber collection in Alabama I like how the bikes of my youth portended new and better riding.

I had no idea I was living a golden age even though the old awkward British twins were becoming historic, like this lovely Triumph:

And manufacturers tried to advance the design in ways sometimes bizarre. Ducati had a nice thing going with it's V-twin design but they insisted on trying a parallel twin 350 and 500.

The bikes didn't grab anyone's imagination, and they weren't put together well so they didn't sell.

I remember the bad review when this thing came out and I wondered at the time, in the 70s why they did such a thing. Those old Japanese bikes, like the one at the top of this essay looked the part, worked right and sold by the much the better for this museum to preserve the offbeat for us, the curious.

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Dawn On Cudjoe

Commuting doesn't always give one time to look around and enjoy the morning. Riding Highway One close to dawn requires more than usual scrutiny of the road as there is a surprisingly large number of mental deficients who think that a vague grayness in the sky obviates the need for headlights.

I have heard it said that in India drivers like to travel the hours of darkness with their lights off to prevent wearing out their cars. Why drivers in the Keys fear turning on their headlights I'll never know but it's always the imbeciles with the darkest, least visible vehicles. That sort of behavior makes riding a motorcycle unnecessarily exciting.

The nice thing about dawn is that it's the coolest part of the day and in these latitudes at this time of year that actually means something. I get home from work about 6:30 and it's dark. Park the motorcycle, load the dog in the car after a tail wagging greeting and then it's up to me to guess where Cheyenne wants today's walk. It's important too, because until things cool off she limits herself to one walk a day ad this time of day is her best shot at getting out and not suffocating in her fur coat.

Cheyenne can amuse herself quote well on a fishing bridge and with no anglers in sight I could leave her to her own devices snuffling for abandoned bait fish. I took the time to ponder the meaning of life, which took not very long, and the question of how to set up the tripod for dark sky photography, which took considerably longer.

Even with commuters quizzing by twenty feet way there is a certain serenity that comes from standing on a hundred year old cement bridge suspended over the very still waters of Bow or Kemp or Niles Channels. It's almost seven when the sun starts to appear, this time of year.

And the first signs of the arrival of the celestial heater box is a splash of pink behind the gray lumps of clouds hanging low over the still waters. No breath of wind was in evidence the morning I was out on the bridge earlier this past week.

The approach of daylight gives the tidal waters an eerie sheen like quicksilver poured between the islands.

The Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is an idea slowly developing alongside the main road bit it's in bits and limited mostly to the lower Keys. There are a few signs, some pavement markers ostensibly separating cyclists from pedestrians and tons of garbage cans.

Not all the mounds of trash generated by energetic amateur anglers stays in the cans. Cheyenne found a treasure trove scattered across the Heritage Trail and it wasn't worth the effort to tear her away. Better to take her picture and avoid her breath for the next while. Organic stuff decomposes rapidly around her in the summer, especially fish entrails.

On a happier note the sun was definitely making an appearance and that meant in turn that the night shift needed to head for home for the second and final time and feed the dog and put himself to bed.

No sooner said than done.

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