This past June, my grandfather went through both the trouble of paying for my motorcycle training and buying me a lovely 750cc Honda Shadow made back when he was still having trouble with bigger kids taking his lunch money. This was the second time I would be going on a motorcycle trip with him and other riders from his work. This time however, I would be riding my own. The simple knowledge of this new privilege made spending a week with people four or five times older than me seem more bearable.
My grandfather had faith in Honda Shadows because of his black 1100cc Shadow sitting in the garage. The 750cc he bought for me to ride (he made it clear that if I wanted it, I could buy it from him) seemed like a good deal, even though to my grandfather’s embarrassment, he ended up paying WAY more than the blue book value.
Our first destination was Utah’s Moab desert. The desert was beautiful but the ride was rough, both for me and anyone riding behind me. ‘My’ motorcycle burned oil because of bad rings, making a pungent smell along with an occasional puff of smoke when the engine lugged. The seat and left hand grip were also problems in themselves. The seat was comfortable for about the first hundred miles of each day. Once passed, I wouldn’t have been able to determine whether or not I was sitting on a rock pile. The left hand grip wasn’t fastened to the handlebar except that it was snugly fit. Once it became hot however, my drive included pushing it back into place every other minute. This proved an even larger dilemma when driving through the Nevada desert to Las Vegas in triple digit temperatures. The only way I can describe it was that it felt like I was sitting on a chair with thirty hair dryers blaring in my direction.
During that trip I concluded that being in your fifties and waking up at five in the morning every day is in some contract that comes with age, or that the people I was riding with were stashing coffee and gorging on it whenever I turned the other way. By the third day I was able to take a five to ten minute “power nap” just about anywhere whenever we stopped to look in a gift shop or to get fuel, only to hop right back on, feeling as good as new until a couple of hours later, when the only thing keeping me awake was the fear of crashing.
When that didn’t seem to be enough, I would resort to either singing a song out loud to myself or reciting what I saw on the road. In the desert there aren’t many things to see most of the time so I was forced to resort to a dialogue consisting mostly of “road, windshield, road, sign, cloud, road, bush”. ‘Road’ and ‘sign’ were the two words most often referred to mostly because one, there’s always road and a sign isn’t far, and two, one syllable words aren’t very difficult to yell in order to shock yourself awake again.
On the final day of the trip, I realized I short changed myself on boxer shorts and was forced to wear an unwashed pair, which had its fair share of sweat prior to. I came home with a newfound appreciation for sleep and air-conditioning, and would not trade it for the world.
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