Well about 1:30 today (Friday) I decided to take a drive on the Valk. A
few things were bugging me and I needed to clear my head. Plus it was in
the low 80's with nary a cloud in the sky and no wind. Basically, a
perfect summer day, the middle of winter. Go Figure.
I took a drive over to Solvang to get my monthly fill of aebleskivers. A
Danish golf ball pancake, (Look it up), they are delicious. Anyway, after
eating them and chatting with my favorite waitress over there, I hop back
on the bike and decide to take the pass over the foothills to Santa
Barbara, (Haven’t been there for a bit).
I stopped by Cold springs tavern, Check it out Below, Normally a great
watering hole, to grab "A" (note the emphasized word “A”, denoting ONE
beer as I was driving a bike), beer and then head to Santa Barbara. But
low and behold during the week they are open from 11:00 to 3:00 and from
5:00 to late. I got there right after three, rats. So I stared at the
wooded surroundings and let the cool mountain breeze wash over me, (It
always amazes me how cool it is there, even when it is in the high 90’s it
is around 65 -70 degrees), allowing my mind to wonder to bygone days and
old acquaintances I met there. Then rudely awakened by a tour bus of old
folks from a retirement home, what they were doing there I don't know, I
think they were lost. Oh, well, time to travel the remainder of the way to
Santa Barbara. So I hop back on the trusty steed and hot tail it over the
pass to lovely SB (Santa Barbara).
Now stepping back a little, I forgot to bring my camera. And that really
was a shame because driving down 101 outside of Santa Maria toward
Buellton; it looked like Ireland that you see in the travel ads. The
foothills were lush green and the winter light reflecting off of the hills
gave it an ethereal aura about it. I was kicking myself all the way for
not having my camera.
Now, back to the pass, so I clear the top of the pass and as lean to and
fro through the first few corners on the downward slope, allowing my pegs
to get very close to that black snake they call asphalt, I looked over to
my right and WOW, the view of the SB harbor and the pacific ocean was
striking. I mean the afternoon sun shining off of the water from hundreds
of feet above, was just awe inspiring. But again, no stinkin’ camera,
So, I head down the pass to the beach area, the over to the main street
through SB and up back to the 101.
I decided to stop at McDonalds at the top of State Street to grab a coke
and a burger and to call the wife to let her know I would not be home
I then hear that familiar sound that only Valkyrie owners know by heart,
that deep pulse beat, that staccato of 6 pistons banging against the
vapors of distilled dinosaur bones and a breathable combination of
nitrogen and oxygen called an f6 Valkyrie. Don’t know who he was, but the
glint in the sunlight was unmistakable as a greenish standard and bright
shiny stuff went whizzing by. I wished him luck in my mind and wished I
could meet him to say high. Nothing like the camaraderie of Valkyrie’s.
Alas, I was not even close to starting mine up, so again wished him luck
and a safe journey to wherever he was destined.
Now, I get back on my mount and fire up that 6 headed Dragon and head off
on the remaining part of State Street and onto the 101 freeway back
towards Santa Maria and home. But this time I would take the coast route
and savor the smells and visual delights of the magic where the sand meets
the sea, and the palm trees sway in the gentle offshore breeze. Ahhhhh, my
head is finally clearing of the concerns and frustrations of the last few
weeks, nay months. Some thoughts of old friends no longer close and old
friends I have not seen in a while. Friends that have let me down, ones
that have been there no matter what. Finances, bills, food, death, taxes,
etc, etc, have now come back into clear perspective. It is amazing what a
little drive will do, even if it is not in the sun, but under the cover of
clouds, where the ground and the clouds are the same color. Still the end
result is the same.
Once or twice while watching other drivers I am reminded of my own
mortality and wonder why it was, when I was 19, it seemed so distant. I
mean then, I was indestructible, and now, things tend to make me more
nervous. Oh, well, time to knock that thinking off and enjoy the scenery.
As I travel up the coast again, I put the needle on 75 and watch the world
go by, occasionally pass a slower car or truck.
On the way, I passed two motorcycles. One a Harley Davidson, a softail
most likely. I gave the complimentary hand wave as I went by, I think he
waved back, but could not tell as he faded into the distance a little
faster than I thought he would.
Now here comes the reason for this story in the first place. As I get
close to Gaviota pass and the tunnel, (made famous by the movie “The
Graduate” – where he heads back down the coast to stop his girlfriend from
marrying that wuss. Ya know the one where he goes south, but in a
northbound only lane, Hehehehe,) Opps, sorry got distracted. Anyway, as I
approach the pass, I pass up another rider, a chopper this time. Now from
behind it looks like a real retro chopper, with the forks extended over 6
“and raked even more. Sat low to the ground, had a Harley fat bob tank on
it, Speedo and all, But as I passed, the strangest thing happened, it
turned out to be a Honda 750, early 70’s I would say, cause it was the
sand cast version of the engine. Anyway, I wave to him as I go by,
thinking how similar our exhausts sound. Well I pull into the rest area
about another few miles away and take a break and a short breather.
Answering questions about the kind of bike I have and doesn’t it make my
arms tingle from all the vibration, to WOW, nice bike, what is it?
I get back on and take off for the remaining trip home. As I get about 6
miles up the road, I notice the chopped Honda stopped off the shoulder. I
stop and ask him if everything is ok … it’s not. His bike, just quit on
him. Now this guy looks like the biker from hell, one you do not want to
screw with. Ya know, one who will take your head off and do unmentionable
things with it, just for looking at him wrong. Shaved head, weighed 250 I
would guess, a pretty good mass of muscle and you could tell by the
weather on his face he had been around the block more than a few times.
Anyway, I offer my anemic tool kit that comes with my Honda and we are
able to get the plugs out and start redoing the jerry rigged spark plug
wires. ( I really need to put together a much better tool kit, licking and
then swiping finger on an imaginary chalk board as a reminder). As we are
working his lame steed, a Ticket procurement officer stops to see if
everything is ok, we tell him it is and he starts to launch into his Honda
305 he has in his garage, and how he really needs to get it running again.
We talk bikes for a while as swap stories about stupid motorcycle tricks,
(actually stupid motorcycle driver tricks). I shiver from a few of them he
tells, not because they are so graphic in their visuals, but because I had
almost been there once or twice.
Well, he leaves for better pastures and we both wish him a safe journey.
The Honda roars to life after a few swipes of the kick starter and off the
old biker goes, with me following behind making sure he will be ok. He
isn’t, the bike again dies after another few miles. Plugs, wires, a kick
and the four into two straight pipes roar to life and again he takes off,
just to be shut down again a few miles later.
Now at this point I don’t want to say anything to him, but I am thinking
all along that it is a fuel problem more than plugs. But hey, he is a
grisly old biker and he should know his steed better than I, so I shut up.
Well after shutting down again, he gives me a few bucks and I run the 3
miles to Buellton to catch the NAPA store for some plugs before they
close. I get the plugs back to … (ya know I never did get his name nor he
mine, we just kind of bonded, one brother to another). We sir, we got the
plugs back in and the little sucker fired right up, only to be shut down a
mile or two down the road., well this is where I decided to speak up and
ask when he filled up last, he said he filled up a week ago on the ranch,
and really had not… DOH!!!!… He removed some gas for cleaning and forgot
to fill up again. We look down the dark cavity of the thing that holds the
refined dino bones and sure-nuff, empty.
Well from one that has been there, I do not laugh, not even in my mind,
cause I know… ya know?
I offer to give him a ride the remaining mile to the gas station but he
does not want to leave his baby along the side of the road to be picked
off by unscrupulous dogs.
I can’t carry any gas, cause I got no way to do so. He says it won’t be
the first time he has pushed a bike and he thanked me for my time and bid
me a fond farewell.
I drove the remaining way home feeling good about the day and the events
that led me to a person I did not know and still don’t, but a bond was
formed that is unbreakable, even if we never see each other again.
Oh, yea, the things that were bothering me? Huh, what things?