The Charlie Bravo Story

End of an era

A week ago last Friday, I took the mighty Suzuki DR650 out for a spin. It was for purely scientific purposes, of course, to determine the extent of my recovery from the injuries suffered in Colorado, the results of an involuntary dismount. All went well until I pulled up into the garage, and there it was: my headlight reflecting off of two accusatory canine eyeballs peering through the window.

Did I say eyeballs? Actually, they were guilt-emitting lasers, striking like daggers into the very core of my being. I didn’t even bother removing my gear, just opened the door and Charlie leaped unbidden up into the Charkstream, the big Honda CB1100. What was I supposed to do? The answer is what I always end up doing, caving like a cheap suitcase whenever I engage in a battle of the wills with any of the inmates of the Casa del Whackos.

So away we go, Charlie’s lips peeled back and ears popping in the wind like velvety black bull whips. The sun had sunk beyond the horizon, and the humidity of the day caused the asphalt to sweat like a Kardashian at a spelling bee. Not a problem, I thought, I’ve ridden through rain, snow, sleet, sand, even the infamous grass clippings on the road that scares everyone to death.

Well, I have never tried to drive through a minivan, but there he was, up close and personal. The booger eating moron turned into my path, not a problem, but then instead of accelerating like a normal person, he then hit his brakes; BIG problem. The last thought that went through my mind is “I’m going to end up in that van with him, except I’ll be entering in a non-DOT approved method, through the back window.”

Well. I didn’t.

I woke up to find myself on the ground, never having contacted the van. Charlie was beside me, and a group of faces were peering through my broken helmet visor like they were inspecting a frog in a biology class. They later claimed that I was unresponsive for a bit, which is not true; I was just unresponsive to them, and I think that their feelings were hurt. I was too busy running down my physical checklist, fingers, toes, ankles, wrists, elbows, knees, shoulders, hips, working my way to the spine; everything appeared to be fine until I got up and my right arm was hanging a little, well, cattywhampus, as we say in the South.

Long story short, I called mom, who came to take Charlie and I to the ER; Charlie was fine except for a bit of road rash on her upper lip. Zach came up to the hospital to pick up the Charles and take her home while I suffered all the indignities that modern medicine has learned to inflict; why is a hospital gown the only garment known to man to make you feel more naked than if you ARE naked?

So, finally, into a sling my arm goes and they send me home with what was left of my dignity. I’m right handed, and trying to learn to do activities with my left hand that the left has refused to participate in for the last fifty-six years is a bit confusing. Not to be too graphic, but wiping your butt and brushing your teeth are two actions that you do NOT want to get confused; concentration on the fundamentals is key in keeping these activities in their proper place. Wiping your teeth and brushing your butt is not socially acceptable, even in the county we live in, and the folks around these parts are tend to be pretty nonchalant concerning matters of personal hygiene.

Progressive Insurance has been fantastic, but even though the damage was minimal to my eyes, they did total the bike. The Charkstream itself was unscathed, but a motorcycle dog carrier without a motorcycle is like Tarzan without a loin cloth: a key component just seems to be missing. Sure, Charlie can ride on the back of the Suzuki, but her very name, Charlie Bravo, came from the fact that Zach and I were both riding Honda CB’s when we found her in the crate, and it just seemed to make sense.

On the other hand, Honda Powersports has not lifted a finger over the last four years to even say “thanks” for the publicity, or more importantly the loyalty we have always had towards the Big Red brand, so the next Charkstream might be of a different flavor. When we get back on our feet physically and financially, maybe something in a more neapolitan flavor, maybe a Moto Guzzi? A Ducati? A Triumph? Who knows? The possibilities are endless. But one thing IS for certain: the next bike will have ABS. I feel certain that that would have contributed greatly towards saving my sorry shoulder from that greasy asphalt.

Because we’re not quitting. Charlie is not a convertible dog, or a Jeep dog, or even a trike dog, for that matter. Just ask her sometime, and she’ll be quick to tell you that she’s a motorcycle dog, with all the positives and negatives that come with the territory. All that wander are not lost, and all that lean are not off balance.

Vaya con Dios, CB1100; we be of one blood, ye and I.

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