24 January 2014

Taz--aka The Tasmanian Dirt Devil

The past week has been beautiful in Denver and I have been able to return to daily commuting on the bike, and even a short ride, south and east, this past Saturday. Mostly I've been riding my big bike, but Monday I had to switch to the new little dirt bike.

Saturday's ride saw a stretch of easy dirt with some mud--my boots and pants had mud splattered on them when we got home--but everything else was pavement.


It was cold! This is the biggest reason I haven't been taking the little bike out. It is below freezing every morning when I leave for work, and I really like using my grip heaters and electric gloves. You can see the still built-up piles of snow in the pic above. It has been sunny, but heading east of town onto the high plains, one gains altitude and the temps drop. Brrrrrr.....

Sunday, the day after the 150 mile ride, I had to go to first dress rehearsal for Hamlet. I left at four, and on the way home, I stopped to fill up my gas tank. I pulled into the gas station, killed the engine, dropped the kickstand, and got off my bike. As I walked around the back of the bike, pulling my gloves off, I noticed movement in my peripheral vision, and turned in time to watch 450lbs of BMW slam to the ground. For a moment, I just stood there, staring unbelievably at my motorcycle lying on its side.


Oh god, how many people just saw that?

This is really fucking embarrassing.

And there lay my bike, mocking me.

Then, as I looked closer, I saw a hunk of black metal lying about 2 feet away from my bike. It was my kickstand.


So I take my helmet off, set it next to the pump, and move around to pick my bike up, thinking "Ok, here's the test as to whether or not you are capable of picking the damn thing up on your own."

As I put my back to my bike, squat down grabbing handlebars and back bar, and start to lift, one of the women at the station yelled, "Can you do that by yourself!?!" I told her I didn't know, I had never had to before. I got it about halfway up, stopped to take a breath, and by that time she had gotten to me and helped me muscle it the rest of the way up. Another woman had arrived at about the same time. I put the bike on it's center stand, and thanked them both. (In my head, I thanked them and told the two men who just watched the whole thing that they were ASSHOLES!)

I wasn't sure what to do at this point. Usually when something goes wrong with my bike, I look at it, poke at it, and pretend I know what I'm looking at and poking at. Then I leave it alone overnight and hope the problem goes away. If it doesn't, I take it to some who CAN look at it and poke at it, and actually know what they're doing. I know my limitations.

But I didn't have that luxury here. I got down on the ground, looked at the whole assembly where my kickstand belonged, and realized there was NO bolt and no springs. I looked all around the bike. Nothing. I don't know where they went, but they were gone. So then I wonder if the bike will think the kickstand is down if I start it and try to put it in gear. That would suck--I wouldn't even be able to ride it home. So I tested that--started it and put it into gear. It stayed running so I thought that was a small victory.

While it was upright, and at the gas station, I put gas in the tank, hoping that in the process, one of the three people I had tried calling would call me back. Oh...no such luck. We can't be bothered when we're cheering for the Broncos....

So now I have gas and I know I can get the bike home. My next big problem is that although I can get my bike down off the center stand, I'm not sure I can hold it upright and balanced, and throw a leg over without dropping it again. This may seem ridiculous to other (read: male) riders, but please keep in mind that I barely get my toes down on my bike (its not easy being a small woman in a large man's motorcycling world!), and there was a good possibility I was going to hurt myself. In the meantime, a guy in a truck had pulled up next to me and he was gassing up. He kept staring--it's a thing, guys do it when they see girls on bikes--and I thought I could ask him to help me. My pride just wouldn't let me. Nope. Be a big girl, handle your own bike, and go home.

And in the end I did. I made it home safely, got the stupid thing into the garage and up on it's center stand, and have been riding Taz to work everyday. I've ordered the parts to fix Thumper, and they should be here soon--Just in time for the temps to drop and more snow to come. Sigh....

Anyway, I was not laughing at the time, but I can laugh about it now. My shoulders were sore from picking up 450 lbs. of bike, but I am secure in the knowledge that I can do it if I need to. And...I have a back-up bike! That's the best!