10 June 2010
I Have An Itch. Should I Scratch?
Frequent followers know at age 12 I bought my first motor vehicle, a Cushman Motor Scooter.
It had a top speed of 35 miles per hour. Thank goodness it wouldn't go any faster than that... it had NO front brake. I rode the wheels off that thing... delivering newspapers, riding it to work at the root beer stand... all before I turned 16.
I've always loved riding bikes. It's impossible not to be more aware of your surroundings on two wheels-
Go downhill in the summer and you'll frequently feel the temperature drop as you encounter the cooler air that has flowed downhill like water... it's heavier than warm air, so gravity pulls it down into the valleys. Pass near a dead animal or polecat that has "skunked" and you are immediately aware of it. You're more aware of outside sounds like cicadas or other critters on a bike. Outside "the box", without the aid of environmental controls and dynamic sound systems, life touches you more. But obviously that can be good... OR bad.
I took Sara Jean with me to Indianapolis for the Indy 500 time trials on the last bike I owned, a Yamaha XS1100SF. It was a VERY powerful, smooth, quiet and comfortable touring bike. We woke in Indiana on Saturday morning to the sound of rain...
Rain that canceled that day's activity on the track. Sunday morning was a twin to Saturday... rain, rain, rain. We both had to work on Monday so we waited as long as we could for the rain to stop before starting home... to no avail.
We donned our rain gear, plunked our butts on the seat, and set out for home in a steady rain with temps of about 60 degrees.
Three hours later we were stopped by a light in a small town. A family of four pulled up next to us in a Geo Metro... Dad driving with Mom seated next to him and two kids in the back seat. The two of us looked over at the kids, smiling and waving at us. Shivering, we waved back, and I thought to myself, "What's wrong with this picture? That car gets nearly the gas mileage this big bike gets. There are FOUR in that car and they are smiling, dry, and WARM."
Big Bubba was born shortly after that and I sold the bike.
But I'm tempted now and then to buy another. The pros and cons are still there...
Riding is dangerous, and many of those dangers are out of your control:
-The little blue-haired lady who doesn't see you when she's making a left turn in front of you.
-The explosion of deer mentioned in the post below that dart out into the road 3 feet in front in front of you at night, so for me, riding at night cross-country would be impossible.
-You can buy a good small car for what you'll have to pay for a good bike these days.
-Riding is exhilarating.
-Ridden at a reasonable speed, bikes CAN get marginally better gas mileage than cars.
-I'd once again be rubbing elbows with other people who ride... interesting, fun, risk-taking people.
So I'm looking strongly at the bike pictured above... a Harley Davidson 883cc Sportster. I rode Sportsters quite a bit years ago and loved them. It makes the "Harley sound"...
a sound like no other. The price is not out of reach, and I think I might be able to get 60-or so miles to the gallon if I ride it at a reasonable pace to and from work.
(But the cost of insuring the thing would eat up any savings on fuel, so that's a stupid issue.)
It really all boils down to this-
Would I enjoy riding the thing enough to make it a worthwhile buy? Sara Jean likes to ride too, so it'd be a great way to spend time together on nice days.
I just have to sit down and figure out if it's worth the trouble and expense to own a machine I'll only ride 7 months of the year during daylight hours.
Or maybe I should just buy a Kia Rio for about the same price?