Behind Bars… by Bruce Wood (DDT)

Recalcitrant recidivists see the world mostly from behind bars… To that I unambiguously plead, “Guilty as charged!” Meeting all those outrageous characters along the way while seeing all the astounding things one can observe from behind a set of motorcycle handlebars is, in my view, a superb way to gain special insights and perspectives about life in general and about oneself in particular.

All our senses are engaged simultaneously, and our minds are free to roam about the intellectual landscape at will, as our bodies are doing the same in the physical world. Writing about one’s experiences and thoughts adds greater depth and enhances the outcome even more… I am indeed an unapologetic recalcitrant recidivist!!! And, I just so happen to love the view from ‘behind bars’…

The weather forecast had me in a quandary… Like an old and dear riding bud of mine used to say, “If I paid attention to that stuff, I’d never leave the house…” Yeah, they do dramatize a bit much, and they always seem to focus on anything that even remotely appears negative. Over used hyper-superlatives and dire predictions are what rivet viewers to the programs, I suppose, and numbers of viewers are what sell advertising, i.e., commercials… Gotta pay the light bill, right?

Trouble is, they sometimes get it right! Ignoring their admonitions can lead one to earnestly seek shelter under an overpass during a hailstorm or driving many miles out of the way to escape a tornado outbreak. Ever been caught in a dust storm? I have, twice!

I find myself always keeping a weather-eye out, and I do regularly check in with ‘the experts’… I also pay attention to the specifics and try to formulate my own ‘forecast’ of likely weather conditions… I’ve been modestly successful…

I’m not taking a bow here, though, as I, too, often find myself in a pickle with egg on my face… and, holed-up in some shelter for refuge from whatever it is that I’ve miscalculated. I’ve stood beside churches under awnings, funeral home porticos, a funeral awning over a grave site, car wash stalls, even the eves of closed restaurants and other buildings to escape Mother Nature’s wrath…

Avoid the bad weather one can, weather what one cannot… But, do not just sit in your version of the insidious recliner that bedevils me and allow overblown drama to cause you to miss out on all the wondrous adventure to be had!

Being vocationally unencumbered and matrimonially unimpaired, plus now being freed from all the restraints and constraints of home ownership, I am in the enviable position of being able to ride and roam at will again… wherever and for however long I choose. The remaining major hurdle to overcome is, however, that darned ol’ bug-a-boo, that omni-present potential obstacle to limitless joy and exaltation… that thing about which none of us can do anything at all… the weather…

I recently spent ten days in Clinton, TN, watching repairs to ALI being performed by an amazing team of bike surgeons, specialists in all things Valkyrie. They are so good, in fact, ALI doesn’t even mind putting her ‘feet’ in the stirrups and allowing those gentle mechanical magicians to have their way with her.

She is well along in the ‘vintage’ phase of her life now, so special needs do crop-up from time to time… She and I are most blessed to have such talented wrench-wielders willing to mend her ailments and care for her geriatric idiosyncrasies… And not just ordinary good mechanics, either. These guys go above and beyond by not just fixing the obvious, but by digging into why such a problem arose in the first place, then also fixing that as well.

It all started with the simple requirement for a routine rear tire change. Due to… well, the inevitable vagaries of her delicate condition, this turned out to be more involved, and other things had to be addressed too. She wound-up sporting a new rear wheel, shifter seal, fork seal replacement kit, and an unanticipated cleaning of her lower areas… Not for cosmetic purposes either, but so that the operations could be performed while actually seeing what it was that was being worked upon.

Naturally other things occurred too, and not just ten solid days of work on ALI. At least two other bikes were ‘operated on’, one of the nicest day rides I’ve ever been on happened, and even three evenings of dining and imbibing got slipped in there… Part of the time was spent waiting on parts, too, so all in all a week and a half passed relatively quickly. Gordon (Lucky 13) was our host, with Dennis (Troutdude) and Mitch (MitchO) completing the surgical team. I, of course, napped, observed, and mostly just stayed out of their way.

As the time approached for this wrench party to conclude and the participants to go on their respective ways, my thoughts naturally turned to what next… Utah! Been a while since I’d been there. Been south of there already this year, and it’s too cold to go north of there, so… Utah seemed to fit the bill nicely! Only problem was… rain was intermittently covering most of the area between east Tennessee and the object of my most recent inspiration… and the forecast predicted more of the same for the next week or so…

Interstate 40 was out because of rain, as was US 60 north of there through Paducah and southern Missouri. Interstate 70 was out for the same reason… plus all those areas had an elevated risk of severe thunderstorms, hail, and possibly even tornado activity for the following several days… Dang!

Interstate 10 had a wee bit of potential, but… I just wasn’t warm to that idea. Springtime along the Gulf coast is always risky, and the humidity and heat are always present. The forecast for southeast Texas seemed no better than that for further north.

That left Interstate 20… if I could leave promptly and shoot the gap between green blobs on the weather map that kept cropping up and moving across the area… That would be a warm ride, but more tolerable than I-10, and certainly dryer than the other options… No one would be going with me, so I could zig and zag, giddy-up and whoa as weather dictated, and plans could easily be altered.

We waited for the rain in Clinton to stop, then Dennis and I headed out for… home for him, as he’d already received several stern reminders of his matrimonial obligations… For some reason, Shelia (Waterbug) is but one of several wives who’ve become increasingly alarmed whenever their spouses are off with me… particularly as their time away from home exceeds the original estimate…

We waved good-bye in Meridian, MS, as he was to veer south along I-59, and I to continue west on I-20. I got a room there and began to assess my circumstance and to rethink my plans… No need to tweak anything, I concluded, so the following morning we headed for Texas.

Three long days in the saddle, with warm temps and cumulative fatigue taking a toll on this now long-in-the-tooth trekker… ALI, on the other hand, just found her stride and made the most of the opportunity. I wound up stopping for the night in Clovis, NM, and liked the set-up, so I rewarded myself with a day off. We’ve apparently flanked the ugly weather, so now I can ease up some and take it easy for a while…

Well, there is this other thing, too… Each of the last three days have begun with temps in the high 60s going up to the high 80s, even the low 90s the last two. Here this morning at dawn it was 40* outside, cloudy and dreary looking, and the wind was howling, sustained over 25mph, gusts to near 40… Yep, I just knew you’d agree this would be a good day to goof off and lie around!!!

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