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GOING THE DISTANCE
"RIDING ON HOLD"
RIDING ON HOLD: Mabel, my beating Harley Heart.
That's what a biker's relationship with his motorcycle is. And with such a small machine. If you think about it, my Harley "Mabel" is a relatively small machine, compared to my 3,200 pound Corvette Stingray "Mary," and my 5,000 plus pounds F-150 pick-up, "Amy." As machines, they're all alive with souls and even feelings. I truly believe this. But for such a relatively small-sized machine, my 600 pound motorcycle perhaps elicits the most emotional response of all my machines.
Maybe the reason is because a motorcycle is the closest size to ourselves. They sit there on two wheels, almost bipedal in the way that they locomote---like a person does on two legs----only Mabel's legs are her rear 16 and front 21 on Avon rubber. A motorcycle is the most humanly-conformed vehicle, even more human than a horse. A horse, remember, has four legs. A bike has two symbolic legs.
That would explain why as a biker, I feel so close to Mabel, why I love her so much, and why I miss her so much when I can't ride her. Look at the above photo of Mabel in her parking lot near my apartment in the Lower Beast Side of NYC. You see her, but you can't hear her. As this photo was taken, her motor was hot, thoroughly warmed up on a fast idle. There she sits, with her lumpity-lumpity, beautiful idle, her beating heart synchronized with my own beating heart and breathing. We are perfectly synchronized, except that it can't be done on the highway in fourth gear, but here, in perfect stillness, in her parking lot.
This is one of those periods in my life, when I can't ride my motorcycle for a temporary period of time and here's the reason why: Three weeks ago, I suffered an incarcerated hernia. I won't bore you with the gory details, but if you Google "incarcerated hernia," you'll learn what this is, and why it's considered a medical emergency. Suffice it to say that three weeks ago, this medical emergency necessitated a midnight run to the local Emergency Room at Beth Israel Medical Center (where ironically, I worked over 40 years ago), and then elective surgery two weeks ago at Cornell Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital (where 44 years ago, my son Mike was born).
As I type this, your humble biker-reporter is almost two weeks post-op this surgery, which went well. However, in this (and I hesitate to use this term) hiatal span of time when I can't ride, I had to hear Mabel's motor, her Harley Heart which is audible proof of her life and living. When I hear that valve train going up and down in her warming up motor, and hear those great, big pistons thrumming up and down in Mabel's cavernous, 86 inch cylinders, and feel the ground vibrate from her breath exhaling from her straight pipes, it fills me with a sense of love and reverence for this great 'ole girl. It also filled me with a sense of calm, just being able to hear her speak. What a sound a righteous Harley makes! There is nothing like it in the world.
After running her for a few glorious minutes in the early morning dawn hours, I shut her down, with both of us satisfied, at least, temporarily. Mabel, it won't be long now, until we feel the wind in our respective faces. Then, the wind will blow back my Klingon mustache, and buffet your Bates-styled headlight. Maybe another six weeks, until my repaired hernia is totally healed. Then we'll be ready for the vicious potholes of the mean streets and highways of New York City, the ones that can launch a biker and her rider a foot into the air, with a subsequent "crash" on landing. Get ready, baby---I'm comin' for ya then! Later.