Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bright lights or fireside cuddling?

So here I am with two sport touring bikes. The differences between them are many and varied. One's a longtime companion and the other's got my blood stirring in new directions. Elvira is all about bright lights and adventure. Sophie's more like being cozy in front of the fireplace. Adding to the complication is the fact that they don't stay on their own sides of the debate. Either one is more than capable of meeting somewhere in the middle. The core here really isn't the bikes themselves. When the dust settles they're just machines, after all. Inspiring as they may be. What's been intriguing is the inner reflection the situation's caused. I'm being allowed to make an honest self assessment of where I am right now. Will I be comfortable with what I find?

I've become more fully aware of how things work in other aspects of life. Here's an example. Let's focus on comparisons.

A big problem here has been that I haven't been able to totally unplug from one bike and totally commit to the other. That was the original plan, after all. I've sort of worn Sophie out and I wanted a new bike with ABS. Should be simple, right? Yeah, right. There's always this running commentary and comparison. All that does is to make things worse.

Elvira's toned and fit in every way. Technologically superior to Sophie in more ways than I can easily count. Sophie's a little heavier and her suspension's sagging some. The miles are showing. What great miles they've been, though! We've made so many memories together it will take Elvira a long time to catch up, if she ever does.

Sophie likes nothing better than to sit comfortably together and watch the miles pass by underneath us. It puts me in mind of snuggling on the couch and watching the fire. Not that Sophie doesn't like a good romp. She'll get in the mood to play and willingly go at it hard. Pegs will scrape and sparks will fly! Once in a while she needs new peg feelers as you can see in the photo. Spirited play is an accent to her life, though, not a primary goal.

Elvira's shaping up to be just the opposite. Hard play is her preference. Oh, she'll sit still and just cruise but I can feel her twitching. Despite having more ground clearance than the ST, it's surprisingly easy to scrape her foot pegs. The first time was with only a couple of hundred miles on the clock. We were heading up to the Astoria Column and flicked a quick right turn. Scrape. Just last Saturday, on an innocent "S" curve near Coffin Butte, the left peg scraped. Again. Maybe part of it's my comfort level with leaning a bike over. Some of it's that wide, rounded rear tire. I think a lot of it is Elvira's hunger for adventure. She's ready to go all the way in a heartbeat. So to speak, that is. I know where your mind just went!

It's the comparison that's killing me. Both bikes are awesome in their own right. It's not fair to pit them against each other.

God forbid I ever find myself without Katie for some reason and in another relationship. Will I have the wisdom to celebrate the unique wonder of the new person without making destructive comparisons? I'd sure hope so but who can say for positive? I'm beginning to see a big reason that second relationships fail. A really philosophical person could extend this thinking to a lot of different human interactions. Done right, comparisons can be really positive. Most of us do it wrong, I think.

Now we come up against another big thing to think about. Who am I these days? Maybe you don't care but I have this huge personal investment in the outcome!

I've always been sort of a swashbuckler. Like Raymond Chandler's fictional detective Philip Marlowe, I consider myself tough, smart, brave, and a little daring. There's a quote that my friend Laurie puts on her e-mails. It says that life is an adventure or nothing. I've lived by that thinking long before it became a quote.

Time is a sneaky thing, you know? While a person's off having adventures and conquering the world time just keeps creeping up on us. Nobody's totally immune. These days I look at myself in the mirror and see the effects of time's treachery. Dark hair still rules but the gray gains a bigger foothold every day. My birthday is coming up in early September. Age is relative. I don't like to put limits on myself by being fixed on a number. Like somehow that figure has to rule my life just because I've gotten there chronologically. Let me just say that the number of candles on the cake won't spur a call to the fire department but you could probably cook a hamburger on them. I'll spare you the rest of the graphic details. You get the picture.

Questions abound, begging for consideration. Is the slowness in warming up to Elvira just a lack of intimacy? Is the struggle to let go of Sophie only because of the long intimacy still missing with the FJR? Is age finally starting to show up by an aversion to change? Is the fact that I'm even thinking about such things a sure indication of getting older? If I was still a young warrior I'd probably still charging forward without a second thought. Maybe thinking about things means wisdom has arrived. Are wisdom and bravado conflicting elements? Or is it possible for both to mesh for greater accomplishments?

Are there bigger considerations?

Have I finally reached the point where I'm turning to comfort as a preference? Even worse, am I starting to be slightly intimidated by things that used to thrill me? Am I starting to worry that I no longer have what it takes to skillfully control a powerful bike? I can confidently avow that the answer to these three questions is a resounding "no!". At the same time, the fact that such a day could come kind of scares me. That really sums it up. Self assessment can be both fascinating and scary. Honesty leads to the truth. We may or may not like what we find.

The upside of the passage of time is that the process has its own ability to sort things out. Time will tell, as the saying goes. Answers will be forthcoming. For now one answer keeps ringing out. Go put some more miles on the FJR!

Miles and smiles,



fasthair said...

HI Dan

I see your dilemma my friend. Having lost my first love to a low life thief I never thought I would enjoy a bike as much as I did ol' Silver. But then I bought Whiskey and fell in love all over again. As much as I liked Silver, Whiskey is just plain ol' fun! Whiskey's only got 46,000 miles in almost five years while Silver had 114K when that fateful day happened. But in this short time the fun is nothing short of a blast!

Just keep putting miles on the new gal and I bet before long you find your love is just as deep as it is for the ol’ gal. Plus lets face it, your new lady is damn sexy!

Ride safe and have fun,

-Tim said...

I think the easiest way to fully transition is to (I hate to say it) but, I think you have to let go of Sophie completely...meaning, sell her to someone you know will appreciate and take good care of her.

Conchscooter said...

Aging is something you will have to come to terms with or make everyone you know crazy. Sell the Honda, ride the Yamaha dye your hair.Oh and don't forget the grief counsellor for your lost youth.And keep on blogging. I'm going to be 51 on Halloween; I know whereof I speak!

Tinker said...

The double nickel. It's not just a speed limit, it's an age! My age, as of the 17th of this month. Can't check the 45-54 box on surveys anymore. If I'd known I was gonna last this long, I'd have done more/worse stuff. It's better to wear out than rust out, you know! Not that I'm in all that good of a state, I have arthritis, in my lower back, shoulders, and arms. So I don't much care for sport bikes any more, I prefer naked standards, and if theres a choice I'll take a scooter over almost any motorcycle. Less of a stretch to get a leg over, heh!

Still keeping the CB400A, though. It suits my mood more often than not, lately.

Danny said...

Maybe it would help you bond with your new lady if you went for a nice long road trip with her? I am sure Elvira would love it. Not so sure I agree with tim. If you did sell Sophie make sure it is to someone you know will love her as much as you do.

irondad said...

Sorry for your loss. I've yet to suffer that indignity. I'll try to heed your advice.

My brain agrees. My heart is slower to accept it!

Too late for the first part. May finally be able to do the second thing. Will certainly do the third. Like the gray so no to the fourth part. Youth isn't lost, just harder to find at times. No counsellor needed yet. Somehow Halloween and you are a good match! :)

Happy birthday! I agree it's easy to throw a leg over a scooter. Much harder to ride with my knees pressed together, though! I haven't seen a 400A in a long time.

There's an 1100 mile trip coming up in a couple of weeks. You're right, Sophie would have to go to a loving home!

Kano said...

Great thought provoking post! It hits at what is in the back of everyone's mind once mid-life and beyond are reached. Motorcycles like people have a limited service life. Elvira races you just ahead of father time and Sophie slips into a graceful retirement.

Steve Williams said...

That's the problem with giving machines names and turning them into beings with personalities. And I dare say even if you don't give them names and try to get rid of one some guilt surfaces. I've seen it happen with an old truck I had. Actually felt like I betrayed it when I sent it away...

I've seen guys do the same thing with cameras. Thankfully I have never seen them as anything more than a tool. I hope my Vespa isn't growing a personality without me knowing it...

You know what the solution for you is. Build a pole building and start a harem of bikes. Set a limit of 25. All your problems will be solved.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Heinz & Frenchie said...

Really enjoyed reading about your dilemma and smiling. Then read the comments and laughed out loud. You have such a way with words... and a great sense of humour. Looking forward to hearing more of your Elvira versus Sophie adventures. We are sure there will be more.