The Charlie Bravo Story

All that who lean are not off balance

Yesterday was one of those days in January that makes living in Arkansas in August worthwhile. While many motorcycle owners around the country winterize their steeds in preparation for a long hibernation period, we know that there will always be at least a few perfect days that we can sneak in some two wheeled therapy.

It had been too long, as ever since we had returned from New Mexico in December, temperatures had not been conducive to taking the Charkstream out for a spin, even a short one. Dad and I eased our riding pangs by spending a lot of time out in the garage tinkering with the bikes, the hypnotic hiss of the propane heater providing a bit of mood music, but it was time to ride.

Then the Snowpocalypse of 2018 hit the Casa with a vengeance, dropping an incredible three inches of white death across the landscape; you Yankees can laugh if you want, but we don’t get your version of snow, we get the unholy trinity of freezing rain changing to sleet, then a little snow to cover it up and make it appear all Hallmark-y.

Until you try to drive on it; dad learned to drive on snow and ice when working at the airport years ago, but unfortunately, most in the south did not, and never learned the concept of steering into the slide, driving with one tire in the gutter, keeping a time zone between you and the pizza delivery guy in front of you, etc. But when the roads are so slick that even sitting still is a risk, as the crown of the road is just enough slope to start you sliding sideways, well, it’s time to stay home and watch “Justified” reruns on Netflix.

Then, usually a day late, the county sends out the sand trucks, ensuring that even when the snow does melt, it leaves behind a fine coating of road grit that is anathema to anything on two wheels, especially in the curves where we choose to spend the majority of our time. A good rule of thumb is to wait for at least two good rains to wash away this invisible mess and make it even moderately safe to get any measure of lean on.

Well, the snow melted, but the rains never came; but when the temps climbed north of forty, I knew it didn’t matter, and we would be going for a ride.

And I live to ride, and I ride to live. In most cases, a motorcycle serves three purposes: one, functionality, as a method of transportation, two, aesthetically, to fuel and feed all five of the senses simultaneously, and three, symbolic, to transmit social information about who he is and how the rider wishes others to perceive him. I guess this would explain why dentists and lawyers dress up like pirates on the weekends to roll out their Milwaukee iron, or guys like dad gears up like he’s crossing the Sahara for a trip to the Dollar Store; everyone has an image they subconsciously, Walter Mitty-like, carry in their souls.

In my case, I would add a fourth: as a way for Dad and I to engage in a dance where, while the music is provided by the howl of the exhaust, only we can feel the tempo; no distractions, no cell phones, no other dogs wanting to go along for the ride, just me and the old man made young again.

So when I heard the jangle of the boot buckles and the RIPPPP of the Velcro, I knew that we were going to roll. The CB1100 complained a bit as dad hit the starter, but she’s a Honda, and even though it had been awhile, soon her four cylinders were humming a throaty melody like they always do.

Although it was a bit chillier than dad would have preferred(I dont really care, as, although he’s short, he’s stumpy enough to block most of the breeze), we headed out to reconnoiter the area where my crate was first discovered. As the miles began to disappear under the front wheel and first Stevie’s bridge, then my spot came into view, the old feelings began to return. But not the feelings that you’re probably imagining; that was then, this is now, and there is a reason why the view in the rear view mirrors is so much smaller than the one I now have looking over dad’s shoulder.

Thankfully, there were no tails of woe to be discovered, and we raced the setting sun back to the Casa just in time to see mom pulling into the driveway on her bike; looks like she needs a dose of two wheeled Prozac as well.

After a dinner of Mexican food truck burritos smothered in green chile, I found myself comfortably numb enough to be humbly mum for a change, and sprawled out on the couch. Sure, I’m ready for the days to get longer and warmer, but what’s the rush?

Cold or hot, wet or dry, it’s all part of the same journey…

See you on the road.

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