I spent quite awhile writing a blog. I went to publish it and it got deleted by some odd quirk of the internet. It was very long, it took quite some time to write, and it had some great big words which I cannot recall now; it sounded pretty good. Anyway, all of you who are following ended up getting a email saying I published a new blog, which would have been true had the same website that sent out the email not deleted the post. So, here I am, rewriting the blog as best I can.
Sunday I went for a ride at Grizzly Peak. I wrote about this earlier in a previous blog. Last time I went for a ride that direction I found myself lost along the way. This time I went the right way and got to the curvy winding top. On the way back I saw a stopped dirt bike on one of the turnoffs. The rider was off of the bike and kneeling beside it. I knew what that meant, and I tried to stop to help whoever it was. However, the road was busy, being a sunny Sunday everybody was out enjoying the curvy road. I wasn’t able to do a u-turn so I kept going until the next turn off where I turned around and headed back towards the rider who looked as though they might need help. It was less than three minutes later and I was parked beside the kneeling rider. He stood up when he saw me and I asked him “it ok?” As I pointed towards the bike, another Suzuki.
“It won’t start,” the young man said. He was an attractive African American who was maybe a little older than myself. I got off Little Wing and walked towards him. I saw in his hands a pair of pliers. I asked him if he had checked the battery. He told me he hadn’t, but he had checked the fuse. In order to get the battery out he had to get the seat off. I turned around to put my gloves in the helmet hanging off my handlebars. When I turned back around the young man was kneeling beside his bike again and I saw him using the pliers to loosen the seat bolt. I cringed watching him use the wrong tool, and as I did so he said, “but I don’t have the right tools.”
My face lit up as I thought of my sack of metric tools meant for my Japanese bike. I told him I had what he needed and I turned back towards Little Wing to dig my tools out of my tool bag. I handed them to him. I was very pleased to see him grab the number 12 box wrench out of the set and start to use it on the Suzuki’s seat bolt. We started chatting as he loosened it up. I told him that I had had the same problem with my bike not starting just a few days before. He told me that he was a new rider and had owned two bikes already, but the first one was stolen, so he bought this motorcycle from a friend. He hadn’t bothered to test ride it before he bought it, and as he drove it back to his place it broke down on him. He wasn’t five minutes away when it just stopped working but he managed to get it home anyhow. When he tore it apart he saw the air filter had disintegrated. I had never heard of this, but I filed it as another creepy horror story about engines to add to my backlog. Anyway, this involved a complete tear down of the fuel system and a cleaning of the carburetor. He got it up and running and this was his first test ride since it had been fixed. He stopped to check out the view off the beautiful peak, and when he got back on his motorcycle he found that it wouldn’t start. The lights wouldn’t come on, and the engine made no noise. I told him the story of how this happened to me just the other night and we exchanged names. I found out his name was Shawn. By this time we had removed the seat, checked all the fuses, and I had taken the battery completely out so we could check it for a date. We couldn’t find one so I put it back in, tightened it up real good, and I told him he should go get it checked. We put the seat back on and Shawn and I hoped for the best. Shawn put the key into the ignition and we waited with bated breath as he switched it on. The green neutral light came on. We whooped in excitement and then Shawn expressed his gratitude. We exchanged smiles, and I told him I would wait to leave until we saw the engine start. He hopped on his Suzuki and I hopped on mine. I watched him start the engine, I listened to that healthy idle. He turned around to give me one last smile and a thumbs up, then he roared off.
I patted Little Wings tear drop gas tank and said “Let’s go.” We roared off as well.
The story I had repeated to Shawn I will now tell you. I was planning on going to the Starry Plough to enjoy some great live jazz and dancing. I had gone there the last time I was in Berkeley and liked it a lot. On Thursday evening the house band plays, and they are damn good. After a day of working and hanging out at my host’s shop I split ways with them. When six o’clock rolled around Jana went to her pottery class, and Roger stayed at the shop. I headed back to their place on Little Wing. The show didn’t start till eight, and I wanted to eat something and change my pants. I try to make a point of wearing my motorcycle pants whenever I go riding, but I had made that mistake the last time I had gone dancing. The pants are lined for warmth so I ended up overheating. They are also reinforced where the knee joints and hip joints are. Reinforced at the exact joints where one wants freedom of movement when dancing. This made for very sore legs the next day. So my plan was to change out of the motorcycle pants and put on my flashy red pants. I figured they would work just as well for riding and much better for dancing. I did have a slight fear, or thought, about falling and ripping the pants. I didn’t really believe I would fall, but the word rip was in my head. The time came to head off to the bar. I hooked up my GPS put on my helmet, and turned the engine on. I took off to the Starry Plough, and I arrived a little after eight. I took off my helmet, on hooked the GPS, and dismounted Little Wing. I grabbed my converse out of the pelican case on the back of the bike and sat down on the curb to take off my boots. I threw my left foot up on to my right knee and yanked off the riding boot, shoved on the converse, and tied it up. As I straightened my left leg I heard it.
The sound of a high schoolers nightmare. The sound a walking comedy act knows too well. The sound of dreams of dance crashing, accompanied by the second sound: “Fuck.”
I didn’t know where my pants had ripped. I did know I was sitting outside a bar with reluctance to stand up. I cased the place real quick, saw that there was no one there, and started putting my boot back on. When I was sure no one was there I stood up and made haste dropping my converse back in the pelican case and covering my ass by taking a seat on Little Wing. I hooked up the GPS, put on the helmet, and turned the key to on while I shoved my hands into my gloves. Just as I was finishing this the lights on the motorcycle went out. What? Uh oh. I turned the key off and then on again, the lights remained off, nothing happened. Fuck.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what the first step to figuring out the problem was. I guess you could say I panicked. There I am, sitting outside a bar on a motorcycle that won’t start, with a pair of pants that are ripped from here to gawd knows where. What does one do in that situation? Well, I picked up my cell phone with the thought of calling my host, Roger, for help. As I did this I thought of a better idea. I set my phone down, I looked around to make sure the coast was clear. It was, so I stood up, and as I did so I unzipped my motorcycle jacket. As quick as The Flash I tied the jacket around my waist, covering my ass for when I squatted down to check out the battery. After panic had subsided and common sense had taken hold I realized that if the lights had turned off and the starter switch wasn’t working that it was a power issue. And what better to blame for a power issue than the battery? I checked the positive connection to see if it was loose, it wasn’t. I made my way to the other side of the bike to check the negative connection. It was loose. I couldn’t really get to it because the side cover and the seat both interfere and get in the way. I tightened it up as best I could and determined I would tighten it better when I got some pants on, that is to say pants that didn’t make me feel like my whole ass was hanging out. I turned the key, the lights lit up, so I got back on Little Wing. I looked closer and realized all of the lights had come on except for the left light, which is both the flasher and a light that supposed to be constantly lit. I tried the flasher, it worked. I determined it was a burnt out filament on the portion of the light that was supposed to be on all the time. I started Little Wing up and raced back to Roger and Jana’s house to find a pair of pants.
Back at the house I made cursory glance for watchful eyes, and then made a beeline for the door. Once safely in the house I found that the tear had only been an inch long tear in the thigh of the pants. All of that worrying and my underwear weren’t even visible. I changed into my motorcycle pants and went back to Little Wing where I did some more thorough tightening of the battery terminal. Yay, I could finally go listen to some great live music. I reached in my pocket for my phone to check what time it was. Except.
My phone wasn’t in my pocket. My phone is always in my pocket. What was it I was telling Jana just that morning? Oh yeah, she had left her phone at home and I wondered how. In jest I told her that it was due to age. Her generation hadn’t been born with the biological tethering to their device that mine had. I never left my phone anywhere because it was always on my person. Uh huh.
I stood up, the panic feeling growing again as I checked my pockets; a frantic groping that went from all the pockets in my jacket down to the four pockets on my all-there, no-tear, jeans. Nothing, no phone. I rushed around to check the pelican case and the toolbag. Nope. I went back into the house to check. No luck. Fuck.
I must have left it on the curb at the Starry Plough. I would rush over to get it. I turned Little Wing’s key to on and everything appeared to work, except for the left bulb with the burnt out filament. I looked down at my indicator lights and saw that my brights appeared to be off. Not a great idea on a bike with as dim of lights as Little Wing has, especially with a bulb out. I reached up to turn my brights on, only to find the switch was already in the on position. What? I turned them off and then on again, they were working, but the indicator light was not. Uh oh. Maybe this electrical problem was bigger than I thought.
I know very little about electrical systems, and I am almost comfortable with that. I am attempting to learn more, but the fear of getting electrocuted or blown up (or electrocuted and blown up simultaneously) stands in my way.
Since I had no clue what the issue was I decided it was best not to ride the bike. I decided it was finally time to go ask Roger for help. He was in the kitchen. I gave him a short briefing of what was going on and he agreed to drive me over to the bar to find my phone. In the car I told him the story more indepth. Roger is a smart man, with a degree in physics. He taught at Stanford for many years and works with many electrical systems, and smart stuff like that, but he wasnt sure how to diagnose the problem with the lights on Little Wing. When I told him about my ripped pants he said he didn’t know what the problem was. I could have more easily fit in with the young crowd in the bar if I had embraced the rip. As for the phone he was worried, we both were. The loss of all my contacts was on our mind, but we tried to think on the bright side. We arrived at the Starry Plough, I hopped out of the car to go check out my parking spot as Roger turned the car around. I didnt find it. I looked up at him and he gave me a questioning look, to which I responded by shaking my head no. He told me to look under the car that I had parked next to, an orange Honda Element. Nope. I looked back at him and shook my head again. He told me to ask at the bar so I went inside. It was the same nice bartender who had waited on me the last time I was there. He was the kind guy that covered my cuppa tea. I asked and he told me they hadn’t had a phone dropped off in hours. I went back to Roger, got in the car, and shook my head no when he asked me how it had went. Worry permeated the car further. He asked if I wanted to stop and visit Jana at the pottery studio as long as we were out. I dreaded the thought of admitting I had lost my phone after giving her crap. I also didn’t like the thought of telling another living soul about my pants tearing. Karma though. So I agreed.
Jana was working on beautiful vases at the studio. We admired them, and told Jana what we were doing out and about together instead of dancing or resting at the house. She reminded me of my joke that morning and laughed a bit, but she was also very sorry to hear about the loss of my contacts. She showed off her work, and then Roger and I decided to head back. For some odd reason I left the pottery studio feeling a bit more confident about the phone. The worry had dissapated a small amount. I told Roger as much as we got back in the car. We drove back to the house and after we had parked I made my way back to Little Wing. Roger headed for the door and asked if I was coming. I told him yes, as I reached my hand back into the tool bag. I peeled away the tools and rolls of various tapes as I wiggled my fingers to the very edge. I felt someting smooth, it didn’t feel like the same rough plastic that lines the rest of the bag. I closed my fingers around it and pulled my hand out. I held my arm up in triumph and announced to Roger I had found it! And there it was my shiny, electronic, contact book.
After the crazy chaotic drama that was my evening, I put on my PJs and sat down with Maya Angelou. Instead of dancing myself I read about her stories of dancing.
The next morning I took a closer look at Little Wing. It turned out the left bulb was burnt out. The brights indicator not lighting was an indication of the wires under the tank. I pulled off the seat, emptied the tank of fuel and pulled it off as well. I uncovered a bundle of wires that was missing the black protective housing around them. Further examination revealed two spots where all the wires in the bundle had their rubber coating wore of and bare wires showing through. They had been stripped by the vibration of the tank and the frame. A heavy amount of electrical tape was applied to each one individualy and then a re-wrapping of the bundle occurred. The problem may have been a broken wire that needs replacing or a short, but as it is I am willing to take the loss of the indicator as long as I solved the problem. No need to risk electrocution or being blown up just to replace one wire.
So Thursday night might be what one considered a bust. I repeated that story to Shawn, but I left all the revealing bits out. There is no reason why a cute young stranger has to hear the whole story. I told him the important bits.
I made up for Thursday night by taking a ride up Grizzly Peak and also hopping on a sail boat for the first time on Saturday. Roger had a friend staying over during the past week. He is an associate of Roger’s and they are working on some smart thing for Google. His name is Peter and he is very smart too. Roger and him both like to sail and Roger has a friend with a sail boat who invited them along. I was a last minute invite, invited by Roger the night before to go with. I was slightly frightened of the whole thing, being that I just learned how to swim in December, so I said yes. No reason not to face one’s fears down (unless it is being electrocuted or blownup). Also, Peter and Roger informed me that the goal of going sailing isn’t generally to end up swimming, so that sounded pretty cool.
I was woke Saturday morning by a small dog named Auto (or maybe Otto, but I like my spelling better). He belonged to a friend of Roger and Jana, who had asked them to watch him the previous evening. He is sweetheart. He and Tashi are the two dogs in my life right now, and I love them both, but I figured that I could borrow Auto for a slumber party since both he and I were guests. Roger and Jana seemed happy to agree, they have Tashi after all, so little Auto snuggled with me. Auto is a little lap dog. He probably wieghs about eight pounds, and most of it is fluffy white fur. He is a poodle of sorts with two caramel colored spots on his back. He has this way of running at a person and ramming his tiny head into their leg and then wiggling it back and forth like he is cuddling in; it is a doggy hug if I’ve ever seen one. Anyway, I had the supreme pleasure of snuggling with this cute thing all night. He would get up and shift position everytime I rolled over or everytime the clock struck the hour. I woke up to the sound of thump and then skitter skitterskat. It was an unfamiliar sound and when I looked up I saw Auto carrying a ball in his mouth that was approximately the same size as his head. He would jump up on the end of the air matress that I was sleeping on, sit his little rump down, and then drop the ball off the end. Then he would jump and charge the ball in the small three foot space he had between the bed and the door. His little claws would skritch the hardwood floor and he would slide about. I guess this bright eyed, bushy tailed, little body was tired of me lazing about. I got up and attempted to muster as much energy as little Auto had.
Sailing was fun. And it felt much the same as my morning had. Wonderful beings racing around, doing what I couldn’t, all with a smile on their face and a bunch of knowledge in their head. These bright eyed sailors were on the same level as Roger and Peter when it came to doing smart things for a living. There were ten people on board the small vessel, a catamaran, and out of those ten it was only me and one other gal who didn’t know how to sail. I felt out of my element. I was the youngest on the boat, the rest were thirty and above, and I was the only one who seemed like I couldn’t keep up with conversation. I was just astonished by the brains around me and sat back to observe.
But it wasn’t only the brillance that was astounding, it was also the whole thing of sailing. The rocking of the boat, and the way the sailors manned the thingamajig and the watchamacallit. It was the way the day started sunny and then gave into fog as dusk settled in. It was the other sailors on the water and the views of the places I hade ridden on, and through, from this lower, salt water, vantage point. It was the French music and piano chords of Phillip Glass that we listened to over the speakers that set the mood of the afternoon on the water. It was the one seal that poked it’s head up and the Golden Gate as it came into view.
We considered sailing under the Golden Gate bridge as we approached it.
And then we did.
Seven miles to the bridge, a quick turn around after going under it, and seven miles back to the marina.
It was four hours of beauty. Also nerves and slight nausea, but that is that part of the story that I won’t go around telling strangers.
I loved my first ride on a sail boat. Surounded by smart and competent people, what’s not to love? I was slightly intimidated, but that happens.
To be honest though, I prefer a good motorcycle ride. And that’s what I did on Sunday. A ride up to Grizzly Peak. A lovely ride. Curving and twisting roads that took me to a stunning view of the same thing I had seen the day before on the sail boat. I stopped at small turnoff, that was really just a gravel patch enlarging the ditch off the side of the road. There was a black Mustang parked there so I figured it was safe.
I wanted to stop and get a picture of the view, which appeared to be a mystical scene from a fantasy novel. There were two men around my age enjoying the view as well. They must of belonged to the Mustang. As I got off the bike the older of the two men said hi to me. He was a short stocky man, as was the other guy. I pegged them as brothers. The younger of the two men was wearing a white t-shirt, some camo cargo pants, and some AR670’s. He had a chunky wood cross on a chain hanging around his neck. Me being a story teller I decided to assume he was army. I said hello back to the guys, and started up conversation. I asked them to tell me what we were looking at and they pointed out where the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate bridge were in the magical landscape that we were looking over. They figured out I wasn’t from around there and I told them they were right. They asked where I was from and I told them Minnesota. The boy with the cross and army boots was named Christian and, the other guy (the brother I assumed) was Alan. Alan told me he could sort of tell from my voice that I was from the northern state because he heard it in the way I said Minnesoota. I haven’t really been told that before, but maybe he has better hearing than most.
It was a pleasent, informative conversation with two locals. I took some pictures and then moved along up the peak. Enjoying the curvy roads, despite the busy traffic. It was after I got to the end of the road and decided to go back the way I came that I stopped to help Shawn, a fellow rider.
It was great to be able to stop and share my knowledge with a guy who needed some. It felt as though the majority of the week had been spent learning and observing others knowledge, because I didn’t have enough of my own yet. Thursday night may have been a bust but I learned some things which I could pass on to Shawn. He really did learn something too. He thanked me for teaching him a valuable lesson about carrying tools with at all times (a lesson I learned from another rider). He also thanked me for the small lesson I gave him on the power system. As he told me, “you literally saved my life.”
I don’t think I did that much, but I’ll take the credit if he’s handing it out.
After a week of feeling a little less bright and a little less bushy tailed then the rest it was great to get an opportunity to spread the knowledge and pay it forward. It was good to see that we all get our chance to do that. And while I am sailing through life on a boat full of older, wiser, people, if I just observe what it is they are saying and what it is we are doing, instead of berating myself, I can gain valuable things to share with people a little later on down the road. Or, atleast, I think that’s what I’m finding out.
After all that, I am glad I had to retype this again. I actually enjoy this retelling of the story much better than yesterdays. I guess we learn a little more each day, and giving myself a few more hours to think on the past week didn’t seem to hurt at all.
I am off to start this new day.