I find comfort in knowing that you are out there.
Took Friday off from work. No, not because of the date, but because it was Friday. Had some errands to do and needed to get ready for the weekend.
It was time to put a new front tire on the ST. If I remember correctly this is the fourth. The bike is currently shod with Avon sport touring tires. These don't seem to give me quite the same confidence as I had with the previous set which were Dunlop D205's. I think next time I will go back to Dunlops. Tires are one aspect of maintenance that I don't have any desire to do myself.
The neat thing about riding all year is that I don't have to worry about getting into the shop. Actually, this is not an issue even during summer thanks to the guys. I go way back with this dealership and have purchased several bikes over the years. There is an advantage to maintaining a loyal relationship with a dealer you can trust. Salem Honda BMW-Ducati takes good care of me. Thanks, guys.
Because of the wet weather the ride up and back was pretty much straight line. Have to be careful on a brand new tire until the slick coating wears off, you know.
On the way home I stopped by our hometown Starbuck's. My wife gives me a bad time and claims that I navigate by Starbuck's. The old mariners navigated by the stars so my doing so by Starbuck's is almost a time honored tradition, isn't it? One of the cool things about being on the bike is that I have my own parking spot that allows me to see the bike from inside. There is a light pole with a triangle separating it from the start of the line of parking slots. Just perfect for the bike.
Once inside a woman standing in line said to me "Are you out riding in this?". I just gave her a gentle smile and told I ride pretty much all year. At that point a couple of the gals who work at the coffee shop piped up and said they had taken the motorcycle class this summer. I knew about one of them as it had come up in conversation previously when I wore an instructor shirt in after class. So right in the middle of a rainy day I found myself in a warm coffee shop with folks talking about bikes. With this coming on top of hanging out at the bike shop it had been a pretty good day.
I spent the weekend in Portland which has a population of around half a million. We were doing instructor updates and training. Even though it was the weekend it technically counts as commuting since Portland is an hour and 15 minutes away and I got paid for working, right? Anyway, this isn't so much about the weekend as it was the continued chance to be with people who are enthusiastic about motorcycling. I got to interact and hang with 30 folks or so.
That's what I was thinking about yesterday morning as I rode to work. On the long ride there's plenty of time to think. Being a holiday for a lot of people the roads were more relaxed than normal. I got to thinking that I'm starting to feel a little lonely. It's been a while since I've seen anyone else on a bike on my commute. It didn't use to bother me but I guess I notice it more these days. I guess it really hit home with me when I was doing errands on the bike and waved to a lady on a moped. Hey, two wheels and a motor, that's close enough for me.
Last summer I would see four regular riders coming North while I was heading South.
There was a guy on a silver / gray cruiser with hard bags. I'm not real good at identifying them in motion from a distance. The bike had an American flag proudly flying on a mast attached to a bag. I called him "The Patriot". There was a young kid on a white Yamaha sport bike and I would always see him tucked way in. He would never wave but that was ok. Actually, he waved once. On what ended up being the last day I saw him. I didn't wave that day. All of a sudden I saw his hand go up. Maybe he just wanted to say goodbye and we had been connected all along even if I didn't realize it. I called him "The Racer". There was another young man who had leathers with a lot of orange and he rode a yellowish / orange Katana. I called him "Orange Boy". The last of the four was a man who was a tall, thin, drink of water. He also had leathers and rode what looked like a Honda Transalp dual sport. I called him "Grasshopper" from the way he and the bike looked together. None of the names are meant in any way other than my own identification. All but "The Racer" would enthusiastically wave. Now I haven't seen anyone in a long time.
Last night on the ride home it got dark soon after I started out. I found myself watching headlights coming at me looking for the single light. Do you know how many "one-eyed monster" cars there are out there? Several hopeful possibilities but no bikes.
I joke with my wife that most motorcyclists are like bugs. The warmer the weather the more are out. This isn't an insult. Whenever folks want to ride is their choice and I will wave just as joyfully as at any other time. I just miss them right now. How long will it be until I can once again have someone to wave at? It will be too long.
Until then, even though I don't know you or see you, I take comfort in the fact that I know you are out there.