Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wings on wheels

Richie got me thinking of some of my favorite motorcycle memories.

From 1990 through 1996, I didn't own a car. I rode a 600cc Yamaha Radian day in and day out, year 'round in Dallas, Texas. The first time I dropped the bike and injured myself, I was on my way home from work. BR and I had only been dating for a few months, and he was waiting for me at my apartment. I came in with holes in my jeans and a bloody knee. He was so sweet, running across the street to the store to pick up bandages and peroxide. I knew then and there he was the one.

Now BR always said I looked like a circus clown riding such a small motorcycle. So when our car died in 2006, I totally took advantage of it and bought a 1500cc Suzuki Boulevard C90T. No need for a car living in San Francisco.

My favorite ride became "the long way home". I worked in Palo Alto, and would take Highway 84 across the San Andreas fault to Highway 1 on the Pacific coast. Took twice as long as usual, and was quite spectacular at sunset.

This video from a fellow Highway 84 enthusiast will give you a feel for the nature of the road around the fault line.

This past weekend, I was able to take the 'zuki out for a ride in the Austin hill country with Randall from Dallas. Wicked fun!


Lisa Emrich said...

Whoa that churned my stomach just watching. So many dramatic turns. Can you tell I'm not a biker? But my parents were until they sold the bikes when I was around 14.

Anonymous said...

Steve -
Reminds me of my years in Hawaii. My husband and I spent the weekend on Kauai, and wound up in a small rental on a long winding road through the NaPali mountains, with the Pacific coastline just a vertical drop off the edge of this narrow road.

Your video reminded me of that weekend on that road. Rather terrifying and exhiliarating at the same time.


steve said...

Hi Lisa - I remember my first ride as a child on the neighbor's motorcycle. So different from anything I had experienced in the 4 years since birth.

Did you have a bad experience, or just not your thing?

Susanne - You're not experiencing nature unless it is getting between your teeth. :-) What a great way to see Hawaii.

kmilyun said...

Whoa, makes me sad that riding is one of the things I am unable to do right now. Had fun pretending it was I that was hanging it out there - i can almost taste the bugs in my teeth :)!

Keep the shiny side up.


Lisa Emrich said...

Steve, I enjoyed riding behind my parents but never had the guts to try it alone. Those curvy hills are what get me. I'd probably be white-knuckling it in a car.

But my brother did have a huge scare. He loved to dirt bike and when he was 14 had a serious accident. He took our cousin out riding (a bit less experienced) and after going over a hill didn't come up the other side of the dip. Our cousin ran over him and the force against his chest against the handle bars was like that of someone in a car accident who is shoved against the steering wheel.

The force 'blew off' the lower lobe of one lung and destroyed part of his bronchial tube. A series of odd circumstances saved his life. During a previous trip to the dirt bike area at the lake, my father had already learned that the ranger's station was not always staffed. The front seat of our old Volkswagen bug didn't recline any longer. If my brother had been lying flat (like my father tried to make the seat go), he would certainly have drowned in his blood, the doctor shared.

My father raced him to the hospital. They took him immediately into surgery. He was in ICU for two weeks and still had tire-track bruises across his back for some time. He was on a respirator for a long time and feared the night shift nurses since they didn't respond as quickly when the respirator had problems. He almost died at least twice in those two weeks.

They took out a rib and used the muscle to help rebuild and his bronchial tubes. He still has felt patches which were used in the repair. He had too many bouts of pneumonia in the early years afterward. Doctor warned that even a mild blow to his chest could dislodge the repairs and kill him at the time. His case was so dramatic (especially since he survived) that his doctor wrote up his case in a journal.

So maybe that does cause a little bit more fear in me than the next guy.

steve said...

Lisa - How awful! Not only the horrible accident and extended recovery, but the continuing threat of re-injury and death!?!

One of the many wacky aspects about living in Texas is the fact that motorcyclists don't have to wear helmets, but bicyclists do. I guess it makes sense. I've always considered helmets pretty inconsequential in accidents when going faster than 30 MPH. Then again, both times I dropped the motorcycle, I was going well under 30.

In the end, it's all just a game of chance. It's human nature to mortgage security in the hopes of experiencing that thrilling feeling of discovery just one more time. What's more exciting than rounding a blind corner and stumbling across beauty? Or indulging in an innocent flirtation with a comely stranger? Or discovering that it really does feel good to massage your own feet? Babies know that one, but it gets lost somewhere along the way -- probably around the time the foot no longer reaches the mouth.

Anyway, give that brother of yours a hug the next chance you get. I'd be curious to know if given the chance, would he do it all again?

This song -- one of BR's favorites -- helps remind me that no action or inaction is consequence-free. But some of them are worth it in the long run.

"On My Way to You":

So often as I wait for sleep
I find myself reciting
The words I've or should have said
Like scenes that need rewriting
The smiles I never answered
Doors perhaps I should have opened
Songs forgotten in the morning
I relive the roles I've played
The tears I may have squandered
The many pipers I have paid
Along the roads I've wandered
Yet all the time I knew it
Love was somewhere out there waiting
Though I may regret a kiss or two
If I had changed a single day
What went amiss or went astray
I may have never found my way to you
If I had changed a single day
What went amiss or went astray
I may have never found my way to you
I wouldn't change a thing that happened
On my way to you...

Lisa Emrich said...

Oh, that's a lovely song!! Life is made up of many little choices which guide the adventure. So many things had to happen in my life to bring me into a situation where I met Rob. :)

My brother is doing great now. This accident was over 20 years ago and he did indeed choose to get back on the bike over a year later, although with special protective gear and the doctor's agreement. To not be able to do that would have killed his spirit.

He's a funny guy. Throughout high school and college, he would tell stories about his scars. The one which goes across his back and is about 1.5 inches wide was from "a shark attack." The scar from the chest tube was from "a bullet wound." Etc.

Now he likes to mountain bike, take his three boys camping, oh and of course his wife too, and stay in shape to stay healthy. He has asthma now and if he develops pneumonia, he's in the hospital so that he can get all of the necessary breathing treatments and such.

He probably wouldn't change a thing (except all of the pain) because it put his life on the path he has traveled since. As my grandmother would say, "he's our miracle boy."