Blue Cat Motorcycle

Viva Midwest

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Riding Into Spring

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 in Opinion | 3 comments


It happens the same way for most of us – the anticipation leading up to the first real ride of the year.  Some of you may have been lucky in these intervening quiet months, coaxing your bike out of hibernation and to choke down a carb bowl full of StaBil tainted gas for a quick spin around the block.  But days like today, among the first 60 plus degree days of the year, this is what we’ve been waiting for…

You wake up early for a weekend morning and reach for your phone to check the weather.  Were the weather guys right all along? 60 degrees and sunny by noon…right on schedule.  Make coffee.  Get dressed.  Maybe wear something that you won’t overheat in too quickly – after all, your bike may take a few extra kicks to get it started.  It’s cold stepping into the garage, a chill still hangs in the air from the night before.  You pull your bike away from its corner and set it on its center stand, giving everything a once over before you take a shot at getting it started.  Opening the fuel petcock, you hear a quiet rush of fuel filling the carb after months of sitting empty.  A flick of a lever opens the choke – something that you’re not used to during the season but this time around, you’ll take all the help you can get.  Standing tall on the pegs, you take a deep breath as you wind up to make a kickstart.  Roll throttle open. Slowly roll throttle closed.  Repeat. And…KICK.  Nothing.  Hey at least you know the engine’s turning over, right?  One more time:  Deep breath, wind up, and…KICK!!! Your vintage ride roars with life.  You sit down in the saddle with a sense of accomplishment, wondering how the hell your bike started on only the second kick, and reach underneath you to close the choke.  Your bike settles into a steady idle.  Time to check your tires and suit up…

Pulling out of your driveway, you blip the throttle an extra couple times before feathering out the clutch, reminding yourself of where your clutch catches and you move forward.  Rolling down your street, you can’t help but feel a little bit nervous.  You brake a little too early, waiting for all of this to feel familiar again.  And where fidgeting with the controls on your bike isn’t doing the trick, you go the opposite direction and simply let your engine do its thing.  You roll the throttle open, your engine rumbles and you feel the bike pulling hard beneath you.  Now this feels right.

Riding the streets that you’ve been used to driving down for the past several months is suddenly a new experience.  There’s sights, smells, and sounds, that you’ve missed with the windows rolled up and the heat on.  There’s a blue sky above you.  The sky!  And you can hear the rush of the springtime air around you.  Riding past a restaurant you catch the warm and earthy smell of curry drifting into the street, and a couple of blocks later it’s the coffee roaster.  And, just like that, it all makes sense again: motorcycling awakens your senses.

Now that you’ve found your bearings again on your motorcycle, you find yourself ready to get out of town.  The River Road has a number of easy twists and turns, and so it makes sense as your escape route.  You start to notice that there’s a lot of other bikes on the road.  An XS rolls by, an RD250, and a guy on a new BMW GS Adventure.  You swap the motorcyclists’ wave with each other, the classic left-handed and two fingers out at knee level gesture of acknowledgement.  Everyone is equally happy for the next guy as they are for themselves, regardless of what they’re riding.  Almost.  Then the guy on a Road King slugs on by.  You both keep your hands on your clutches and look straight forward.  You smile to yourself as even this is familiar and comforting, knowing that some things will never change.

Out on the open road just outside of the city, you pull the clutch in and shift up to 5th.  Now you’re riding, following the hills and turns along the river valley.  Being in the saddle just now, as if it hadn’t already, feels right.  Finally. You take a deep breath, taking in the rush of fresh air, and let it out with a big sigh. You probably wouldn’t look very cool if other people on the road could see the huge smile on your face through your helmet.  But who cares, right?  Roll that throttle open even more, and take another deep breath: Welcome to the riding season…