Monday, December 10, 2007


We were hard over in the corner when she let me know we had a problem.

Pushing it to the limit, hanging off the left of the bike, the perfect tension on the bars, and punching it hard out of the corner. The scream of tortured metal sounded as the Kuryakyn cruising peg mounted on the crash bar left another tenth of an inch of metal on the road in a glorious shower of sparks. The spring loaded driver’s peg was folded and the edge of my boot grew hot as I ground down yet another sole.

Oh yeah.

That’s what we were made for. Some of the most challenging roads in the nation are not all that far away. Some of these city-born twisties can simply kick your ass if you underestimate ‘em, especially when you toss in a couple thousand cages with every mile of freeway.

Yeah. That’s what we do...and generally we do it very, very well.

But she bobbled. Accelerating hard, just as the throttle hit the stop, she bobbled. It wasn’t much, but in a maximum performance turn on a long, sweeping downhill ramp, nearly surrounded by high-speed highway traffic, with no room to maneuver other than what I had already carved out, it was enough.

“This ain’t the time babe.”

“Sorry boss. We’ve got a problem.”

“No sh!t.”

Yeah, I talk to my machines. They talk back. Doesn’t take long...that exchange started and finished before the bobble did.

You don’t talk to yours? Maybe you should start. They’ll tell you a lot...if you’re listening. Usually prevents lots of swearing later anyway.

The bobble was exciting, and almost fatal. The Kuryakyn, which I’d just been feathering and using somewhat like a curb-feeler as it slowly turned into molten metal on the road, touched down hard. It’s attached to a crash bar. Hard parts. Parts that don’t give. There are exceptions...but the general gist is that ya don’t want to drag those.

The suspension unloaded a bit. That’s bad. I had to change something...and there was no more throttle to give, so I eased off it just a fraction...chopping it altogether would have catapulted me clean off the road...the hard power was part of the turn dynamic. This far in, committed, I couldn’t make it without it.

The front tire slipped...just a little. It's a thousand pounds of man and machine. With the forces in play, it doesn’t take much. She nearly highsided me. We bobbled some more. I watched the hole in traffic I wanted to be a part of and put everything else out of my mind. Head down and ride! Contrary to popular belief...sheer will does make a difference on a motorcycle.

Yeah, we’d make it. We work well together. I grinned and twisted the throttle again. I was starting to understand the handling difference and use it to my advantage. Not the prettiest line, but it worked. We cleared the concrete barrier by at least a foot.

Shortly, I joined the throngs of traffic, under control, but not really safe...a 40 foot wide concrete canyon with hundreds of speeding cars hurtling their way toward oblivion at around 120 feet per second is never really safe.

Fun though. Nothing quite like a little adrenaline to remind you that you’re alive.

“What the hell was that all about?” I shouted as I picked the least dangerous lane. I didn’t slow down. Not yet. Not here. That’d be really dangerous.

“Dunno boss. Bad tire? Maybe a bearing? Something’s not right in the rear.”

“You okay to get us home?” I knew the answer before I asked.

“Oh hell yeah! We are SO not stopping here.”

I laughed out loud at that. We know each other well. She and I.

So, home we went. A typical the next 20+ miles, very seldom did we drop under 80mph, and that was only when we reached the surface streets.

I popped her onto the center stand in my driveway. The problem was obvious. Three large screws in the rear tire. Five PSI. Five. Yeah, that can be an issue.

Not sure where or when I picked them up. The pressure was fine when I left this morning.

I’ll pull it tomorrow after work and see if it’s patchable. I don’t have time to attend to it tonight.

I guess I’ll have to take the cage to work in the morning. Maybe it’ll even start.

Hmmm...I wonder where I’ve left the keys to that thing?

From the always entertaining mind of fellow Valkyrie rider Daniel Meyer.

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