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MUTHUH's JOURNAL - Me and Huckleberry 02/09/01

Ya gotta savor the moment... It's 7:30 on a chilly February morning. The minute I closed the front door behind me, heading for the garage, I noticed the chill in the air wasn't as bad as it's been for the past few months this time of morning - promising to make it a great afternoon. Seems like it's been forever that the riding has been a chore around here - short cold trips around town or over to Raleigh to check in on the Harley dealership - one of my real-life clients.

Sounds like Andy of Mayberry there, doesn't it? Makin' a trip to the big city. Still, those 35 degree riding mornings, as much as I puff out my chest and grunt like Tim the Toolman, can be painful, can't they? Bending over the garage chair on those kinda mornings, zipping up the chaps and pulling the balaclava over your head - going so far as to putting on the 3/4 helmet instead of the skull cap "pot" helmet - even then you still gotta count yourself as lucky to be in the position to be soon hopping ol' Huckleberry , firing her up, and easing out into the chill air.

So, here it is, second week in February of the new millenium - the real one, although there sure wasn't much hoopla about this new year was there? - and I'm bending over the garage chair again zipping up the chaps. I notice the bucket half full of water with a sponge floating in it hasn't moved since the last time I washed the bike - three weeks ago. It's still in the pathway I use to get through the garage clutter to the bike....gotta remember to empty it out when I get back - or at least move it the hell outta the way.

No need for the pullover balaclava this morning - that's reserved for 40 degree or less rides....ya see I have certain milestone degrees that dictate what I'm gonna put on for my rides.... Leather jacket goes on most of the time, certainly less than 70 degrees. Its not so much for the cold as for the limited protection, and...well, it's a leather jacket - the Fonz would approve, right? Switch from shorty gloves to mid-weight at about 65 degrees, double-up on the long-sleeve shirts at 60, heavy gloves at 55, chaps at 50, long johns and double socks at 45, balaclava and 3/4 helmet at 40, clear face shield at 35.... that pretty much takes care of the riding gear down to about 25 where I gotta ask myself if I really wanta fire up the V-Twin when its that cold..... it's not me, of course - it's the poor ol' engine that I'm thinking about here...hehehe... thats it!

Living in Carolina it just don't often get much colder than that here, so I've not tested the lower riding limits too often, unlikelike some of you REAL men out there.... you know the types - "Oh, hell, I ride down to zero degrees all the time!" Hey - good for ya!... at zero degrees around here, they call in the National Guard to protect us poor southerners from the cold. I suppose if I had my gear and I had to get home, I'd ride that cold, too, but I damned sure wouldn't set out in that weather - where's the riding fun in that?

So, anyway - it's only about 45 out here, promising to be near 70 by Miller Time, scrunched over the chair, old bucket of water just in the peripheral vision and out of mind, zipping up chaps, I find that all the work, complaining clients, ringing phones, demanding kids and ....uhhhhhh..... wonderful caring wife...... all that is slowly fading out of mind. Huckleberry looks good! We're going to take our imaginary stick, ride along the picket fences today, clattering from one picket to the next while we meander down to the river to waste away a day.

For any of you who don't ride, thats about all you have to know - wasting away another day. Anybody who's rode along those white fences, mindlessly wandering the back roads, putt-putting along at half the posted speed knows that there's nothing wasted about these kinda days. Nowhere to go and no time to have to get there in. Actually, I knew three days ago when the long-range forecast popped up "70" as the forecasted high for today that I'd be right where I am right now this morning... unzipping the coat to get my dark glasses out of my pocket - I always seem to do that. Intent on suiting up for the ride, locking my glasses inside my coat.

Ignition on, kill-switch off, let the computer snif the air and checks its, its...well, whatever the hell it's checking. Wait for the light to turn off and fire it up... You know - thats the only thing I don't like about these new engines. You're sitting out in front of the local watering hole... all ready to go - turn on the key...and wait 5 or 6 seconds for the light to go off so you can fire it up....thats the longest 6 seconds, ain't it? So, now I do all that and THEN put on the gloves and glasses, by that time, she's all ready waiting for me to hit the switch.

Hoping the neighbors are still home, the engine rumbling inside my garage with the door open... I know the guy on the next block who's got his Dyna Wide tucked in the back of his garage is sipping his coffee thinking....Damn! Good day for a ride! I ease her out, back into the sidewalk and nose it down the driveway...couple'a pops on the throttle to let the neighbors on the other side know I'm out playing again today and I go the long way around the block just to drive by the Dyna Wide's house at throttle-up... by now that coffee must seem awfully unsatisfying.

By the time I hit the main road, the sputterin' and spatterin' of the cold engine has smoothed out, my eyes have stopped tearing up at the sudden change in temperature, I stretch out my long legs on the pegs and have to conciously stop smiling to avoid looking too stupid to the drivers passing by. Me and Huckleberry out for another adventure.

A good omen! Driving west on a long straight stretch of highway - I have the setting full moon in my face and the bright red rising sun in my mirrors. A red-tailed hawk, startled by the sound of the approaching Harley takes flight in the same direction I am going and seemingly glides in mid-air right in front of me long enough for me to appreciate the vision, and I'm off on my day's adventure... at this point it really doesn't matter where I'm going, does it?

Looking forward to another year's riding with ya..... Muthuh


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