May 11, 2011
Give Us This Day
Give Us This Day
Everytime I get on the US 101 I feel small and insignificant. It's so dangerous that you just can't know. And I can't say. But when you're on this road, you're very close to a painful death and anyone with a brain would know this.
Everything you've ever learned about riding a motorcycle comes into play now. Your entire riding philosophy is brought to bear. Right lane. Left lane. Middle lane. Your call. Get there.
Zero shoulder on either side. Cars passing on the right or the left. Cars and trucks and motorcycles, all racing pell mell into the city. Unadulterated madness.
I just hunker down on this bike and speed up slightly. Don't drive in anyone's blind spot. Try to not get run over and not run into anyone else. I'm bent over the handlebars racing like the wind. How I wish this story was over. This is the worst part of owning a bike in the city. This short dash through hell.
And now, the engine dies. I'm in the middle of the US 101 and I've just run out of gas and this is a bad feeling. I reach down to switch over to reserve, but with my new snow gloves on, I can't find the switch and I'm slowing down now, close to death.
This is not good.
The road splits and I drift into the yellow zone between the roads and finally, I get it switched over to the reserve tank and just hang on. Eventually, the fuel finds its way into the carb and the bike roars back to life and for one more day in San Francisco, I have cheated death.
Market Street is death. A swift and painful death and normally, when I come to this road, I cross it immediately as soon as I find it.
"Cross it where you find it". That's my motto with Market Street.
Market Street is death death death. Slow motion intersections. Buses and trolleys and taxis and bikers and bike lanes. Easily the most fvcked up street in the city. I never go down Market Street, because I don't have a death wish.
But today, i order a sandwich (Torta de Pollo) and I've got 10 minutes to kill so I decide to drive down Market because I never have done this. I've been here nearly 3 months and I've never driven down Market street so I decide I'll drive down to the Ferry Building and turn around and come back just for grins. So, I make it down there and I turn and double back down Mission and somewhere between 1st and 2nd, I see some statues and I pull into this little plaza to snap some photos of these statues.
A security guard or three come running out and they're all exciting, like fire ants when you kick their mound. They're all stirred up and they come running out and yelling at me and they're like "you can't be here...we're going to call the police" and I"m like "hahaha. Call them. see if I care"
I'm not hurting anything. Just snapping some photos. But these guys are wanting to start some sh1t and they race around behind my bike to get my plate and they're so disappointed to find that there's no plate. Nothing there at all.
"Did you get my plate? Did you get a good look at it?" I challenge. (I don't have a license plate, for those of you playing the home game). And I'm like, suck it dudes. Y'all lose this one.
"We'll call the police."
"Call them," I say flatly.
"They're right around the corner," they challenge.
"Sure they are. Look dude...5 people were shot on one night in the Mission."
"That's right," he replies. "They sure were."
Our eyes meet.
"So, that's not how it works. If people are getting shot 5 a night, then they won't be 'right here' to check out a guy on a dirt bike taking photos. That's not how it works. You lose this one, cool."
And I ride away slowly, laughing.
Death to Short People
A package arrived in the mail this week via USPS certified mail. So I go down at lunch and sign for it and it's the stock link for my XR650L. The guy that owned my bike before me was a midget and he lowered the bike, which I hate because the bike rides like crap. Seriously. Like, it's a dirt bike that handles like a Smart Car.
So I finally got off my @ss and posted an email on Craigslist that I'd trade the "lowering link" for the "stock link" and people started replying like mad and I said "First one gets me a stock link to my crib on Russian Hill gets the lowering link".
So I got this link in the mail and tried to install it last night, but my tools were just crap. Just cheesy Wal-mart-grade entry-level crap. ¼" socket wrench set. A small set of metric hex wrenches. And I nearly killed myself trying to get it off last night so today, at lunch, I rolled down to Lowe's and stocked up. I bought about $75 worth of tools and came home after work and I'm like....let's so who your daddy is now...
So I break out all of the tools and how good it feels to have grease on your hands again. To get closer to the machine. I'm lying down on the sidewalk in khakis and a white shirt, grease on my bloody knuckles. This is good. Better than good. Women walk by and I start grunting. People stop to watch. I'm cursing and throwing things, like my father used to do. No real reason. Just glad to be alive. Glad to be able to bring a little white-trash-testosterone-theatre to Russian Hill.
Eventually I get the lowering link off and I put the new one on. Not that hard once you figure out what's going on....like...once you locate it underneath the bike, it's all downhill from there. So I got the old one off and the new one on and really, that was my goal for tonight.
But now that I'm here, I may as well get a few other things fixed at the same time. And this is the way of the world, is it not? An object in motion tends to remain in motion. An object at rest tends to remain at rest. This is a fundamental law of physics, though I forget which one at the moment.
I decide to tighten the chain and I pull out the two enormous crescent wrenches I bought at Loew's on my lunch break. This is a good feeling. To have these enormous crescent wrenches on the sidewalk makes me feel like I'm eleven years old and carrying a rifle.
I apply the two wrenches to the rear axle and they don't want to break so I stand up on one and this little oriental man walking by stops to gawk. To see who will win, man or machine. I'm perched on top of this crescent wrench, bouncing up and down in khakis and a white cotton button down and this likkle oriental monkey is stopping and watching now, but eventually, the torque is too much and the bolts and nuts break loose just like I knew they would and the little oreo monkey turns and trots down the alley.
How good it is to be a spectacle. To be the center of attention, if only for a brief time.
Now, for the record, my chain is now stretched as far as Honda deems safe. Any sane person would order two new sprockets and a chain. But that's a project for another night. I'm still feeling my way. Getting dark now.
Darkness brings so many problems
So, I tightened up the chain, lowered the front forks back to their stock (flush) position, and adjusted the headlight so it's not pointing up at the top of Transamerica tower.
Then, when I get on the bike to take it for a test drive, I realize that I can barely touch the ground with my toes, which makes me happy, of course. This is what I want. Exactly what I want. A bike so large that 95% of the population can't even straddle it. Suck it, libs.
Posted by Rob Kiser on May 11, 2011 at 10:46 PM
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ahhh....salve to my soul!
Posted by: sl on May 11, 2011 at 11:27 PM