Words that have rarely left my body…
Completely infatuated with the idea of resurrecting the old motorcycle, i ignored the reality of it. Blow the rust off, rebuild the power train, and ride that nasty looking beast for a few seasons. Why buy a shiny new bike, when i’m just going to drop it? Learn to ride on a clunker!
Ah, there’s such a glorious metaphor! “That old thing still has a few miles left in it!”
Fuck the metaphor. Next time, the metaphor can push the stalled piece of shit uphill through an intersection teeming with rush hour traffic.
It ran last season, and i put some miles on it. Rode it a bit into the spring and summer. Sluggish, though, and bogging down. Dropping it back at the shop before the 4th of July, i said “i’m pretty sure one of the carbs is gummed up”. Two weeks later, my mechanic informed me “It’s the points and the air cleaners”.
Two weeks after that, he took it for a test ride and said “Running better, but still sluggish. We think it’s the carburetor” to which i replied “no shit? i’m stunned, shocked and amazed…”
Two more weeks? “Running great, but there’s a problem with the charging system. Stator is bad. Good news is that it’s still under warranty, so we’ll send it back to the dealer for a replacement…” Two more weeks of me nagging intensely by phone? “It’s ready.”
Driving it from the shop last night, with Studley in the chase vehicle, we made it two blocks before it stalled the first time. Pushing it from the intersection, i got it restarted. Another half mile to a gas station.
Definitely had more zip, as i had to be careful to avoid popping wheelies from a dead stop. Full tank of gas, and another two miles before it took the final mechanical dump in heavy traffic. i managed to push it into the parking lot of a gas station and avoid getting splattered on asphalt.
Called the shop, and handed the phone to Studley as i yanked off my helmet. The stream of angry obscenities began to flow. “Come and get this deadfuckingbike, you incompetent motherfuckingbastards!” Studley’s translation: “The bike’s broken down, about 2 miles from the shop. You’ve got to come pick it up. She’s pretty upset…”
Waiting for the parts manager from the shop to stop to pick up the keys, i realized that it was going to be damn tough to make our planned backpacking venture. Sent a text to our hiking guru, BG, to let her know there’d been trouble, and we wouldn’t make it to the trail head as planned.
Defeated. Tears. What’s the definition of “trailer park mentality”? “One bad damn decision after another.” Guilty. i did this. No one else responsible for this stupid mess. i can afford a reliable motorcycle. i was stupid. Fuck the dream. This was a bad idea.
After handing off the keys to the guy from the shop, the angry tears drying on my face, we started the drive homeward. Looking at the clock, i wondered if we could still possibly make the hike. Maybe with a late start, but we could still get in the weekly conditioning hike… and it would be a far better use of my evening than moping. In the absence of anything else, moping was going to be my default condition.
After some pretty serious scurrying, made it to our respective homes, packed up, and arrived at the trail head at the appointed hour. Meeting BG in the parking lot, we explained the disappointments of the afternoon, and started up the trail.
Some quiet time as we hiked let me crawl even further in my head. Tuesday? It would have been Dad’s 88th birthday. i kept hearing his words “The measure of a man isn’t how he deals with success, but rather, how he deals with failure. Anyone can handle success!”
“God damn it, Dad! Let me wallow! Stop crashing my pity party!”
It was hot and sweaty. There were hills to climb. Hills to descend. i had to focus on my feet. BG was right behind me as i started down a steep grade and felt myself slipping.
“Small, mindful steps” said BG in a calm, steady voice. The words that had gotten her through some treacherous rookie hiking adventures. Paying it forward to a novice.
Good advice for hiking.
Good advice for sorting the shit in your head, too.