Tuesday, 17 February 2009

On Lomax, Harleys, and simple joys of mo'sickles :o)

Lomax was much more lively when I came home from work this afternoon, than when I left him curled up on his fleece on the bed early this morning. He hasn't left my side for a moment since having his 'little procedure'

He’s been playing here with The Rat, his favourite toy which Suzy made for him for Christmas, from the remnants of the big fake-fur cushion she also made for him. He sinks into it (the cushion), and is a picture of ultimate luxuriant relaxation when he’s sleeping on it. I'd swap places with him in a heartbeat. He really has a great life! :o)

I took the Harley into town to give it a bit of exercise after work.......... well, not exercise worthy of the name, but more a stirring of her bones so she doesn't get all arthritic. :o)

Harleys and winter just don't mix.............. the crappiest finish of any modern bikes. (This is a year 2000 1200 Sportster Sport.......... and, yes, I know it's not a 'real' Harley!)

Quality, my ass!

‘Sport’, my ass too! :o)

It does have a certain hard–to-define 'flavour' though, which is missing from more modern designs, and it’s amazing how content I am to be plodding along on it. Very different to riding the 1200 bandit I’ve also got……….. no way could I ever ride her,(‘Hoover’) anything like as slowly. I guess that's down to the Harley’s old-fashioned long-stroke engine….. it just lopes along with a lazy beat, and in no hurry at all. You just fall into step with it somehow. Bit like the Enfield Bullet I've got (Indian made), which I absolutely love, much to my surprise.

The Harley and the Enfield Bullet, to a less practical extent (As in covering distances at any speed above sixty mph), both have only the sun-in-your-eyes-wind-in-your-hair (Yup, I take the lid off for a few miles sometimes, if plod isn't about!)pleasures going for them. Start to try and make any serious offerings to the God of Speed, and it all comes apart. Literally as well as metaphorically.

They are somehow a purer form of motorcycling. Man and machine, on a more equal footing, where the machinery can be seen, understood, easier to be a part of, and which don’t ever become better than you are.

I guess these bikes take me back to my roots; back when I started out on a long road of riding some thirty-eight years ago now, progressing onto ever more sophisticated bikes as the years passed, which somehow lose their flavour in proportion to their gains in reliability and performance. It's a grossly unfair rule of thumb in life, but the better they get the less charismatic they become, somehow.

It’s a real hard thing to quantify, but in worshiping the God of Speed to the levels of today’s once unheard of heights, the simple pleasure of just simply rolling along an empty road in the sun lose their hold.
Just letting a big engine propel you along at it's natural long-legged gait, to the tune of a simple couple of cylinders banging and throbbing away, as the bike rides itself down familiar roads in the sun; it diminishes the faster you go, until all that's left is a kind of feverish adrenalin rush that leaves you exhausted at the end of the ride. It's addictive, and like any addiction, it's hard to return to the early levels of that addiction. The God of Speed demands a very heavy price, and I have paid dearly in blood, and broken bones, thankfully when I was young enough to heal quickly.

It's all been kinda worth it though, because, boy, have I had some fun along the way on every one of those thirty-eight years. I have loved every bike I ever had, and spent countless hours making them better than they ever were out of the factory, pulling more performance from their big hearts, making their handling far sweeter. bonding with them all, my girls.
You forget the pain, the punishments from the law, the hours fixing the broken machines, and retain the effects of the good times. The thousands of hours in the saddle, and not only in the sun; the bad weather has it's perverse pleasures too, akin to winning a battle against all the odds, and believe me, some trips have been that rough. I've had ice form on my beard, snot freeze solid in it (great innit??) and all over the front of my Belstaffs (Those wax cotton 'waterproofs'), ridden in rain so hard the roads were like a river, and it pounded your arms through the clothes. Freezing fog, deep snow, sleet, the lot. Pure sheet ice is the only thing you can't really ride on. Not for long anyway.

The good times though............. so many of them I long ago lost count.
Deserted roads late on moonlit nights, hurrying back from Cornwall to Somerset, or to the rising sun on a summer morning before anyone is up are priceless. It's the 'alone-on-the-road' thing that have captured the hearts and souls of many before me, and those to follow me too I expect.

The sunny days, riding with a girl I love on the back though, have been the very, very best. Riding to a beach together, and then riding home again sunburned-hot, and just in t-shirts and jeans, with her familiar form pressed against my back, arms wrapped around me, and her smiling face over my shoulder, chasing our shadow skipping along the black-top ahead of us as the sun is setting behind us...........
Nothing beats that. Nothing.
It never did, and it never will.

Early open-cockpit pilots talked of reaching out and touching the face of God.

I kinda know just what they mean.

Do you?

OK, that's it,
Y’all go careful out there. :o)))
Note the almost non-existent Chicken Strip on the back tyre........... on a standard Harley!
Have a look at the size of it on most 'brave boys' sports bikes.
(A Chicken-strip is the unscuffed bit on the side of the tyre, because the rider is too chicken to lay the bike over far enough to get rid of it.)
The size of it shows those who can't walk the talk. ;o)
Mind you, the older I get (54-and-bleddy-counting!!!), the harder it is to keep that precious and hard earned 'edge' of many years honing. (sigh)

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