Article by Charlie Lear - biker.
Let me tell you about the morning I had.
The jug (electric kettle) has sprung a leak around one of the sealing washers. Its only a few months old, so it should be fixed under warranty.
Looked outside, overcast, no hint of rain, little wind, temp around 65.
Time to take the bike for a burn…
Boots, jacket, helmet. Will I leave the pups inside or outside? Hmm, I won't be gone long. OK you two, stay here, look after the house. Back soon.
Out the front door (slam! Dogs run to the front window, tails wagging). Helmet, check, gloves, check, wallet, check, keys KEYS! ARGH! MIGOD! The *one* Saturday when my wife is working overtime and I LOCK myself OUT OF THE HOUSE! WAAAAAHHH!
Check all windows. Nope, I closed them all before I went out. Rattled the kitchen window - its a bit loose, but I'd break it if I tried to lever it open. Round the back, if I could only get into the roofed-over area out behind the house I could get at the spare key… a lot of grunting and precarious balancing later, I'd levered off a bit of roofing sheet and dropped down behind the house.
Exit number 2, this time with KEYS. Start the bike, petrol light is flashing. Damn things always flashing, it starts when I've got about 150km to go on the tank.
Down the road, splutter splutter reach to turn the petrol cock onto reserve. Hang on, its already ON reserve! Waaah! Bike keeps spluttering just long enough to roll into the local service station. Five bucks lighter and five litres fuller, we roll out again. Wait at the intersection, right onto the main road. Lower Hutt here we come.
Rec.motoheads will no doubt recall my mid-winter tales of dicing with a 250 rice rocket on the Wainuiomata hill. So you know where we are. Heading up, looong straight up past the cars, bike doing an easy 130km/h in third. Dab on the brakes, peel into the right hander at 110, toes pointing out, aha, touchdown, feel the sole of my boot kissing the road as my bike's kissing my soul. Up and over into the lefthander, maintain 110 all the way through. Cages doing around 60 if that, while I wind her out in third and change into fourth at 140. Back off now, light touch on the brakes and bring her down to 85 or so - there's a lookout at the crest of the hill, with Ruperts known to U-turn or run across the four-lane.
Crest the hill, the coast is clear. Back into third, point my two-wheeled zoom machine down. Right, accelerate through the turn, left. Flick lights on high, let the startled cagers in the slow lane know there's a DoDer on the way through. Up to 130 and hard on the brakes, real hard, we're peeling into the next righthander. Take it at 100, we could do it at 120 but the guys who do so adorn the Armco in the next bend. Flick up, hard on the brakes, flop left at 85 if that. Its off camber, kiss the centre-line markings with my toes but even then run a little wide on the exit. No worries, up and over into the next righthander. This is the steepest part of the hill and even cracking the throttle sends the speedo into illegal figures again. Brake hard, hard, up and over into the next left off-camber. A couple of days ago a truck spilled gravel all over this and the previous corner, I almost became a failed hero in the car when I hit it and did a Richard Welty-approved four wheel drift, inches away from an expensive fence encounter. Up and over and hard right, here's the Gracefield turnoff.
A couple of cages go left, another stays straight. No worries, he's a trier in a hotted-up Escort but he's well behind as I brake harder still, washing off speed to take the next left-hander thats STILL off camber. Spoke to the guy who designed the road, seems the usual cost-cutting stopped them from doing the earthworks to get the road properly cambered for every corner. Wind her out in third, right to redline, there's a minor crest at the end of the downhill straight followed by a left kink, hard right and then let go the anchor Cap'n cos' here's the 50 km/h limit sign. Pull up behind family saloon, let my girl putter along in top gear as I push my visor up two clicks and watch the guys in the Escort come storming off the hill and catch up.
The kids in the car wave so I wave back. That just encourages them and they wave harder. Good stuff kids, one day you can have a big red bike like mine. If they're not illegal by then, of course.
Car turns off and I slide past, rear window a row of pink faces all grinning and waving and mouthing unheard words of encouragement. I toot and wave and drop her three gears for a little bit of a wheelie, much to their delight. Their grins are infectious.
Escort pulls up beside me at the lights, boys out with their toy, revving and wanting a drag. Shit guys, if you want a drag you'll have to bring out a better weapon than that. On the green they're off in a cloud of oil smoke, good luck to them. I've had my fun, time to be sensible and defensive, so I leave the two Ruperts to it. There's a particular kind of music that a big bike makes when you're just idling along. It'd sound better with open pipes and no lid, maybe those Harley dudes know something I don't. I still wave to all the badass biker dudes in their flat-black painted open face helmets, have done ever since I got my first bike. I must be looking older and meaner or something, 'cos last week a REAL badass dude with long beard and Raybans and bugs in his teeth grinned and waved back when he putted by on his gorgeous looking glide. Maybe he'd just had a carload of kids waving at him too.
Ah well, enough musing. We're here at the mall. Park my girl, into Farmers to see about this leaking jug. Stand around in the kitchenware dept waiting for the dopey little bint to get off the phone and get around to serving me. "Bought this here jug a few months back and it leaks." "You'll have to take it to the television department, over there."
Great, really intuitive. Maybe they sell them as a TV accessory for ad breaks or something? Buggered if I know.
"Bought this here jug a few months back and it leaks." "Got the receipt?" "At home. You can see its pretty new though." "We'll need the receipt, and we'll send it off for repair." "Whaddya mean? It only needs a washer. I don't want you to fix it, I only want a free washer under warranty and I'll do it myself." "Can't do that. We have to send it away, it'll be back in two weeks." "Great, fine, have a nice day."
Asshole. Farmers Trading Company - FTC. Ha. No wonder they're referred to by the more scatalogious of us as Fuck The Customers. I bet his name was bloody Rupert.
Back to the carpark and back on my girl. You'll never let me down. I don't see YOUR washers leaking, not even after spending the last eighteen months outside in the wind and rain and stuff. Nevermind girl, I'll get a job next week and pretty soon we'll have the dough to build a nice new shed in the backyard where you can be warm and dry and I can have all my tools. Must put some oil on those plugs, they're covered in rust and salt on the outside. Dunno what the gap is or how clean they are, they haven't been touched in over a year. Probably rusted solid. Trouble is, preventative maintenance is the first thing that goes when you don't have money coming in and now things are fixed on an as broken basis. Apart from tyres and oil and petrol and a kludged zorst my girl hasn't cost me a cent in the last year. So why does she still fire up on the first poke of the starter? I wouldn't.
Click into first, tool slowly around the carpark and down the exit ramp. Through the side streets and pretty soon we're at the bottom of the Wainui hill again, this time looking up at where we were only a few minutes ago. The encounter with the salescritters in Farmers has left me a little annoyed, so I keep myself and my bike in check as we scoot up the first part of the hill. Keep it down to the legal limit of 100 as we still go steaming past the cars in the two other lanes. No point in being a failed hero. Failed hero marks can be found in the barriers all the way up the hill and all the way down the other side. Some dozy bird in a Mini managed to roll her car in peak hour traffic a couple of weeks back. Thought you had to be some sort of stunt driver to do that at those speeds.
Anyway, lean lean lean left, a long lazy uphill sweeper. Toes point out, after they touch I've still got a long lean before the footpegs and centrestand even think of grounding. Lean a little more to the left to keep out of the gunk in mid-lane. WHOOMP! I've just kicked a catseye reflector at 100km/h. Yow! Hope I haven't torn the toe off my boot. Stupid bastard, teach me for letting my mind wander. One thing this hill demands and thats respect. Up on the short straight and nope, boots OK and the feeling is returning to my toes again. Dopey prick.
Over the top, a bit of traffic so just hold her at 100. Down the other side there's Elmer with a trailer doing 70 in the left lane, and someone in the right doing 75. Must be called Rupert. I slow down and ever so slowly the two dormant cagers draw apart. Wait until there's around five bike lengths between them and indicator on, check mirrors, drop two gears, check over left shoulder, and its buckle up the harness Lieutenant the afterburners are on and we're going ballistic.
Only until we're past Rupert though, then its burners off and airbrakes on, cruise around the right, brakes on, down to 65 for the lefthander. There's paint and scrapes and rubber marks all over the centre divider here. Never forget the time Val and I were in the car coming home after a party at two in the morning, round the corner at 80 and here's a van on its roof in the middle of the road, stoned passengers wandering around bleeding on the only clear paths past the rec.auto. Just how do people throw it away on this hill? Its not as if its not signposted or well known or anything. Best to keep the speed down to where you can stop short of anything untoward around the bend. Just so you can be a target for the next Rupert to come bombing round the corner at 85.
Feeling peaceful and at one with the world, putt up to 120 and swoop past only one car before braking for the roundabout and merging in with the cars. Amazing how relaxed I feel compared with in Farmers. Good therapeutic instruments for the soul, bikes.
Visor up two clicks, into top gear, cruise along at 50km/h again. Nothing unusual, there's a big blind spot right behind me. Every time I adjust the mirrors to get rid of it I get a closeup of my elbows. When the workshop's built I'll make new mounting arms for them, a couple of inches lower and further out. Be good there. What's this, a new station wagon weaving in and out of the cars behind me. This'll be interesting, we're coming up to the single lane stretch before the Parkway turnoff. There's not enough room for me AND a car, and stuffed if I'm going to move into the stones and glass and crap to let a speeding cager through.
A few seconds later I'm reconsidering. I've got a ton and a half of shiny new car around a foot off my rear tyre, and I don't like it. Check the mirror. Some bloody woman, would you believe! I would have been less surprised if it was a teenager in Daddy's car, or a sales rep or something. She goes right, all the way right, as far as she can without hitting the centre divider. (We drive on the left here, DoDers.) That places her front left corner about five inches from my ass. There's not enough room there you bitch, back off! I drop a cog and move ahead, giving me all of five yards to get out of trouble.
Whoops, she's back on my tail again. Shit, I've been tailgated before but this is fucking ridiculous. I'm going faster than I like, there's traffic and bicycles and a pedestrian crossing just ahead, but what would happen if I so much as gently rolled off the throttle? Shit sandwich. No thanks. Through the intersection and back to a wider piece of road. OK bitch, have all the road you want. Just leave my 6'x2' piece outta your plans, all right?
I indicate left, check my mirrors and start to move over. Let the stupid cow past. Ever wanted to know why the final look over your shoulder is called the "lifesaver"? I found out. Mrs Fucking Rupert had cut to the left and was powering past, her right fender around four inches outboard of my boot.
Instinctively I countersteered to throw the bike right, at the same time as I swung my boot out with all my might. I shouldn't have countersteered, I missed the bitch. Sorry Ilana, why do women become such dangerous bloody shitbrains as soon as they are put in charge of something mechanical? This woman is enough to reinforce every negative stereotype ever invented. A few deep scars from my boot buckles might have just convinced this tart that I regarded my life with a little more respect and higher priority than she did.
Spluttering with impotent (because I'd left the Sidewinders at home) rage, I flicked my light on to high beam and gave the cow the biggest, meanest, badass biker dude two-finger salute imaginable. She kept on accelerating, must have one of the top 98-fastest accelerating cars I think. Three kids in the back saw me insulting their mum and waved back. I gave them the bird. They waved harder. Alright kids, you shall not be put to death because of the sins of your misbegotten parent.
I wanted to stop at the supermarket to buy some lunch, but hell, this woman was obviously a fire controller on the way to a blaze, or a doctor on the way to an accident. I pulled up behind her and followed them all the way down the main road at a consistent 80km/h, only 60% overlimit. Must be something pretty serious. I began to feel a little peeved at myself for not noticing that she was on a life-critical mission and moving over sooner. As we hit 85km/h, I began composing an apology for when we got to the fire/accident scene.
Through Homedale (turn left into Moores Valley Rd, first left, first right, number 12, that's my place) and over the bridge. Brakes on hard, where's she going? Oh, left. Left indicator came on just as she was accelerating hard out of the intersection. Told you this was one of the 98 fastest accelerating cars ever. Driven by Mrs Rupert, anyway.
Down a few blocks, past kids on bicycles and more kids playing with a ball on the side of the road. Good thing you're on your way to an emergency, lady, else you'd be on a sure winner for a careless driving prize. Whoa, brakes on again. Left with no indicating, into Richard Prouse park. Well, well, well, whaddya know.
No fire, no accident. The kids were late for their ball game. I checked my watch, exactly 12:58. Nice one, Mrs Rupert. Your kids are two minutes early. Hope you're happy, they'd have been a fucking sight later than one o'clock if I'd become strawberry jam underneath your car. People like you should post to rec.autos. You'd feel at home there, you've only got a quarter of a brain and you've got your priorities all fucked up. Maybe I should have just lain in the road and magnanamously said, "Look, sorry I dented your front fender and got blood on your headlights, don't mind me, the ambulance will be here soon, off you go, get your kids to the park?" I bet you wouldn't have even thanked me as you took off.
Ride back to the supermarket, everythings a bit of an anticlimax now. I want to hit the open road out to the coast but not in my current mood. Why risk throwing my girl away just to let off steam? No, better to start worrying about what I'm going to have for lunch and get it home.
Got home, parked my bike under the carport and lock her. How many of you guys pat your bike's seat and thank her for doing a good job, praise her for a good run? She's got me home safe and sound all this time, she deserves a pat every now and again.
I've had her nearly seven years and still haven't got a name for her. A fellow Usenetter from Pommyland called his GT Candy. Great name, wish I'd thought of it. Really appropriate with the deep, lustrous, wine red candy paintwork of the kwacker. Best alternative I've come up with yet is Cherry, but I'm still undecided. Maybe she should just remain "my girl".
If you've persevered this far, thanks. Thought you'd like to know of a day's adventures for man and bike in good ol' New Zealand. Toodle pip.
PS Keep the name suggestions coming through… also let me know if you guys want to see any further postings of this size every now and again when the writing bug takes me…
Regards The Bear
Downloaded from The Cave BBS (Wellington, NZ)