So it was that we signed papers on two brand-new motorcycles. It turns out that if you buy two brand-new motorcycles, the dealership will trailer them right to you even if you live across the river in another state. We eagerly awaited the delivery day, which was Saturday. We signed on Wednesday. We had to wait Three. Whole. Days. for delivery.
I am of the opinion that they were perhaps the three longest days in recorded history.
My dad happened to call on Thursday night. He was in town and unexpectedly free and wondered if this was a good time to visit maybe? He lives about five hours away. It is of note that he has ridden motorcycles pretty much all his life and once toured parts of Europe on — wait for it — a Triumph Bonneville, in about 1970 or so. My mother rode on the back, having stashed us wee children in the care of
total strangers another Navy family for a MONTH in Rota, Spain, where we were stationed at the time.
I kid. I’m a kidder. I have no memory of this because I was a tiny tot but we probably stayed with their best friends who had kids a little older than us. Probably I should ask her.
So I told him, “You know, it’s funny you should call just now. I have to work tomorrow but then the next morning a trailer is going to pull up to my house and deliver two shiny new motorcycles!” Not surprisingly, he opted to stay and enjoy the show.
We went out to a shop on Friday night and bought new helmets and jackets, and also gloves for The Lovely Rhonda. Gloves are important. I knew this already, but it was really made clear when I had patient during clinicals for nursing school who had dumped a bike while wearing no gloves. I think he was wearing a helmet but little else in the way of protective gear. Anyway the skin on his palms was essentially torn off, like to the dermis. Wear your gloves, people! This kid was facing months of extremely limited use of his hands, if not skin grafts or some other kind of reconstructive surgery. Ugh.
Helmets have come a long way in ten years. My first helmet was an open-faced half lid, which I had to augment with a face shield. I was riding first a crusty old Honda with no fairing and then later a BMW that had a little cafe-style fairing on it, but because the rest of the bike didn’t really put me in a cafe-style riding position, the mini-fairing served only to funnel the wind directly between my eyeballs, necessitating supernatural neck strength to prevent my head from being torn straight off. This is probably what led to the degenerating disks in my neck, come to think of it.
Then I had this one girlfriend who insisted that I get a full-face helmet, which made my head feel like it was in a packing crate. This definitely kept the wind out of my eyes but was hot in summer, fogged up if it was damp, and prevented verbal communication. Nowadays they have these modular helmets where the front part can be flipped up so you can expose your face, say when stopped at a light so other riders can hear you, or if it’s really effing hot out like is now and you’re riding at low speeds. And! They have a little flip-down tinted sun visor inside the helmet, like a little pair of sunglasses, so you don’t have to try to cram your sunglasses into the helmet — especially useful for people like me who wear glasses. I do have prescription sunglasses but it’s nice not to have to wrestle with them or even carry them around. Plus as a bonus you look like you’re going to pilot an F-15. Srsly.
We got jackets as well, three-quarter length ones with zip-out linings and armor in the sleeves and shoulders. It’s been so hot that we then had to go get mesh jackets, similarly armored but made of a heavy mesh that allows the breeze to filter through admirably. The thought of putting the heavy jackets on and riding around in the ninety-degree sun was unbearable. The mesh jackets are still pretty warm in the sun if you’re not moving, but it’s the price you pay for protection. Motorcycling in the summer is a sweaty affair.
TLR felt it was important to also order a communication system, which arrived today. I have spent the past hour installing half of it into my helmet, and presumably the next hour will be spent similarly installing the other half into hers. This thing is crazy — you can play music, talk on the phone, communicate with other riders in your party. I’m not sure I need most of this but it will be nice to have a better way of signalling that I need to pee, which happens rather more than I’d like to admit. Generally you ride up alongside your fellow motorcyclist on the freeway and tap your tank to indicate that you need gas, rub your belly to let them know you are hungry, or just make a broad sweeping gesture toward the right with your left hand to say, “Hey, let’s take a little break at that truck stop, I need to drink some spectacularly shitty coffee,” — but if you have to pee, it’s expected that you humiliate yourself by pointing at your junk. Oddly enough, all my “let’s go drink coffee” stops include a stop at the restroom, sometimes a stop at each end of the break just to be safe. I am fairly convinced that many of your more antiquated motorcycle enthusiasts take up smoking just to have an excuse to get off the road and pee every hour.