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Gravel-and-Gravity

My bike is heavy, I kid you not.  I’m been riding for a few years now and still find myself over thinking in what I consider tight situations.  Take last weekend for example.  A beautiful June day, my husband and I decided to ride to the local restaurant for a late breakfast, then off to a quick visit to a friend who had just moved to a new place.  That morning we were both starving as we woke up late and it was really too nice outside to eat in.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened between our house and the restaurant, unless you count the guy who stopped us in the restaurant parking lot to tell us he had just bought a bike on EBAY, a 91’ Heritage, just like mine (I have a 94;) with 18,000 original miles and leaks oil like a sieve (I was going to question the 18,000 original miles on a 18 year old bike, but didn’t.)   He wanted to know my dear husband’s (DH) solution to his problem.  My husband always rides in his Colors and I notice some people just gravitate to him when they see this, like they are his long lost best friend. (Biker Syndrome!)   And you can ask a friend anything, right?

My husband also has less tolerance for people when they get between him and food, especially on a day when he left the house with not even a drop of coffee.  The guy was persistent, and wanted to know what my DH’s solution would be: “ throw money at it was the answer.”   After several minutes of not getting anything different he started asking about my DH’s colors.  Did we belong to a Biker Club, telling us what Club he was considering joining and how Motorcycles are cool and on and on.    Okay so he was trying to impress us – we weren’t.  We were trying to politely escape as the smell of the food was overtaking any coherent conversation. 

We slowly backed away being polite and nodded goodbye.  The guy realized he could either excuse us or continue talking to himself.  He looked around, I guess to see who else may have been watching and loudly said, “I’ll see you later Kickstand”, and waved us on.  (Here’s where I think Biker Syndrome: trying to be cool by association.)   After brunch it was off to Michigan back roads to ride to some remote area for our visit.  Michigan has no money so the roads suck; there are holes in some areas that can swallow a 250 Honda. 

After several close calls with pot holed roads, and running over a few because they just couldn’t be avoided I became concerned about my tires and wheel alignment. On one “paved road” my ass was continually lifted off the seat several inches and slowing down did not help.  As we bounced down the street, if you listened closely you could hear me over the familiar Harley roar “ouch, oh shit, ouch” all the way down to the stop sign. 

The rest was easy until Oh shit we arrived and it’s a deep graveled driveway.  I didn’t freak out when I saw the gravel driveway, a sharp right hand turn from the busy (but not at that time) road.   And I didn’t think about the big decline from the road with sand and gravel edges, down to the rest of the driveway which extended for a long while before getting to the house.  At least I didn’t think about it then. We parked and admired our surroundings.  The house was beautiful; we thought it would be a great place to party: secluded, great back yard and plenty of room

After a good visit it was time to leave. I asked my DH to check the air in my tires before we took off.  I had noticed a slight inconsistency in my ride over there and was sure the road, although somewhat potty at times, shouldn’t create a front end wheel bounce when riding on a smooth road.  He told me he was going have to teach me how to check the air pressure.  Btw I know how to check the air pressure, I just don’t like getting dirty or getting down on the ground – and he’s so willing.  The tire pressure was down 14psi.  Not good – so now not only did I have to leave on a long, overly thick graveled driveway with sand edges, in the back of my mind I was thinking about all those riding manuals I have read , concerning under inflated tires.

I was not too noticeably nervous leaving his house down the driveway, but when I got to the actual overly graveled hill (it looked like a steep hill sitting on the bike) to the road edge, my DH was perched there waiting for traffic to go by and did I mention there was not enough room for two bikes to wait for traffic.  I stopped on the incline, in 2nd gear, stalled the bike and it started rolling backward. Yikes~   The bike is heavier than it looks, I was rolling backward, leaving me very few recovery options. ( I’m not one to jump off a bike, as I have memory pain of falling over.)  Somehow I managed to get it in 1st, start the bike and with too much power (as I was trying to slowly go up the gravel hill, while releasing the brake and clutch) because I was trying not to not to stall again,  I zipped out  on the road. And managed to turn in the right direction too!  No traffic thank god!

 I hate their driveway and will only go there if someone else is willing to ride my bike out on the road, down the street, where it’s safe to pull over.  They might consider bike valet parking in the future for those who think they need it.  My DH said I should have better control over my Bike, I think it’s just a matter of knowing my limitations.
I did make it to a gas station, inflated the tire.  Looking forward to the next ride.

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