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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"C'mon, Spring!"

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey
This is a tough time of year for a motorcyclist.  Winter has been long and unrelenting.  Even today, approaching mid-March, as I look outside, the hill a half-mile away has gone opaque, shrouded in yet one more snowstorm.  Below my window, the Little Conemaugh River runs deep and rapid, fed by the almost constant rainfall and melting snow.  I am anxiously, even impatiently waiting for the wintry mess to give way to clear skies and relatively warmer temperatures.  Out in the garage, my bike sits.  I sense Wyatt is also feeling frustrated.  I can almost hear him whisper an exasperated “C’mon, man!”
But these are feelings grown familiar.  They happen every year about this time, especially since I moved from Missouri to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania almost seven years ago.  In my memory, I remember March as the start of the riding season.  Temperatures were still on the cool side, but snow and ice had become a forgotten memory.  Here in the mountains, however, climate plots against me.  Every year, the last time snow fell from the sky was as late as mid-May.  The riding season is short, but tempered by the almost complete lack of uncomfortably hot days. 
Over the winter, I bought a new tire, a new crash bar, a new luggage rack, a new stator, and had my seat sent out to be re-done.  The Kawasaki VN900 is a marvelous machine.  It is a mid-size bike that comes off looking much bigger than it actually is.  Obviously, some skilled and experienced engineers were involved in its concept and design. 
I just wish they hadn’t given the seat design to the intern.
Wyatt is my fifth motorcycle, and by far the worst seat of all.  I’ve sat on concrete blocks that were more comfortable.  Coming from the world of sport-tourers, I much prefer that the seating load be spread out along the thighs and glutes.  The traditional cruiser position puts the feet forward (nice for 55-year-old knees), but all the weight ends up resting on the tailbone.  It doesn’t take a very long ride before that position gets enormously uncomfortable for me.  I’ve always been a “go far” rider.  Even short rides are rarely less than 150 miles, so comfort is of paramount concern.

I though seriously about buying a new seat, but the cost (over $600) was quite off-putting.  I got a lead on a place called “Mean City Cycles” in North Carolina.  They came highly rated by the denizens of the multiple motorcycle lists I belong to.  And the price was right.  I asked them to raise the rider seat by 4 inches (to take pressure off my tailbone) and also widen and soften the pillion.  The cost, including shipping came to just under $280.  The seat is on its way back to me, and I’m anxious to try it out.
Most riders add things to their bike.  Every machine is a blank canvas, awaiting the personalizing touch of its owner.  In the cruiser family, most riders will add chrome gew-gahs and comfort items (backrests, footboards, highway pegs, etc.), intended to increase the “Look At Me” factor that seems to infect every rider.  I’ve been pretty happy with the way the bike came stock, but being used to saddle bags and top boxes that were capable of holding up to 50 lbs. of gear, I was disappointed that the two bags this bike came with were only load-rated for 5 lbs. each.  I not only take trips with my bike, but I also tend to use it like most folks would use a pickup truck.  I commute 60 miles, run errands, haul stuff (within reason), and like to have a (locked) space to store chaps, jacket, and boots when I get to where I’m going.  Adding hard bags were out of the question, since a pair of the good ones would have been in excess of $800.  So last year at the Thunder in the Valley rally in Johnstown, I cut a deal for a large travel pack that will serve my hauling needs. 
So with a comfortable perch, and plenty of luggage space, I can contemplate a possible trip or two this summer. And one thing I’ve learned over the years…
Whatever you seek in life, you will find it on the road.

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