I Fill My Days

I coaxed my Yamaha Raider from its Cold Dark Place in the garage into the early spring sunshine that was warming my driveway. It was time to Summerize the motorcycle, as I've taken to saying, for another riding season and that process begins with a degreaser spritz and a cold water baptism. While the Raider squinted in the sun I gathered a garden hose and a can of S1000 degreaser, which I use to remove the preservative oil that protects the bike's chrome during her long winter sleep. But the can could not, as it contained only air. Shouldn't an empty spray can be called a “did,” or a “can't?” Questions like this keep me company when the voices in my head stop talking. 

The empty can — if a can is empty should it be called a can’t? — was just the reason I needed to visit my favorite Yamaha dealer which, conveniently, had just become my favorite Triumph dealer as well. As I pulled into their parking lot a Triumph Bonneville loitering outside teased me with her 7" chrome eye and a bright green key fob, signaling her readiness to be ridden. I entered the showroom and was met by the shouted greetings of the friendly staff, though I often wonder if they aren't just warning fellow employees of my arrival, "It's Kerry! (Oh crap, it’s Kerry)."

My Raider suspects I may be cheating on her, as I’m acting strangely. She’s wrong, of course, this isn’t an act.

New staffer Lizz (two "z"s), inconveniently caught near the door,  had no choice but to address me directly as there was no place for her to run. "Hi! You must be one of our old customers." It was a statement, not a question, and I knew what she meant but it seemed to come out wrong. I introduced myself as "Danger" and her large blue eyes expanded further. "Danger?" She wanted to know why I was Danger but I was short on details. Best to leave them wondering.

Lizz escorted me to the Triumph Petting Zoo and reached for my wallet with her big blue eyes while attempting to explain away the "old customer" comment. It was cute to watch. It took 90 minutes to excuse myself from the charming company of the Triumph classics (Lizz had long since given up and drifted away), but when I did it was with a fresh can of S1000 motorcycle cleaner, a dry mouth from salivating, and the threat to return with my riding gear.

And then things began to go wrong.

After getting home I scooped up my helmet and gloves and decided that to ride a Bonneville one needs to dress the part. So off with the low-rise, boot cut American Outfitter jeans and on with a faded, torn pair of 501s, with the pant legs slightly cuffed to expose more of my ladder-laced engineer boots. The semi-metro, form-fitting, zip-up, popped-collar sweater flew to the bed and a Lansky Brothers Tupelo Sport Shirt (black button-down with pink buttons, double layer collar, 100% cotton) took its place on my torso. That is but one of the biker costumes in my arsenal.

This gave me an opportunity to hone my frostbite first aide skills and see how a Bonneville looks in my driveway. Pretty. Damn. Good. I’d wager it will raise property values and for that my neighbors owe me.

I drove back to the dealer and was given the green light to take the seductive Bonnie for ride. Setting the stage for what was to come, a staffer made the casual mention that there was no fuel gauge and then peered briefly into the tank without disclosing his findings. I, or my attorney, will make an official request through the Freedom of Information Act, if necessary, to obtain his findings but I still maintain; I. Didn't. Do. It!

Bonnie surprised me with her acceleration. I had expected less. Much less, in fact, as the bikes I'm used to riding are an order of magnitude more powerful, and the Bonneville reviews I had read reduced my expectations. Spritely. Nimble. Cool. Seductive. All of these words I can spell, and all of them apply to the Bonneville. If there is a bike that will secure my next speeding ticket, it is the Bonneville. I may just have a few fines written right into the loan and pay them in advance. It strikes me as prudent to have a balance on account with the local constabulary. 

My warm weather riding gloves proved painfully thin so I test rode my way back home for fur-lined gloves. This also gave me an opportunity to hone my frostbite first aide skills and see how a Bonneville looks parked in my driveway. Pretty. Damn. Good. I'd wager it will raise property values and for that my neighbors owe me. 

With circulation restored to my fingers and warmer gloves in play I resumed the ride, taking country roads chosen at random back to the dealer. Bonnie sang such a sweet song to me as we rolled through the countryside. There was none of that loud, heavy metal noise so popular with the old guys from Milwaukee, and none of that high-revving, high-pitched screaming favored by the youth from Asia. No, Bonnie’s song was refined and restrained, yet alluring, as you would expect from a proper British Lady.

Yes, a romance seemed to be forming. She sang to me as I tenderly held her throttle in my gloved hand, and then she winked at me with what I still believe to be her Low Fuel warning light. This caused me no concern, as I was less than a mile from the dealer. But at the next stoplight she went silent without warning. Have you ever noticed women do that? I could only guess what was wrong, ("If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you.") so I guessed that Triumph simply provide little warning before the last drops of petrol are consumed. In fact, so little warning that if I had been driving through Detroit I'd have had just enough time to plan which way I'd run for safety after quickly abandoning the bike on the side of the road.

My attempt to coax more singing from Bonnie failed so I walked her to a gas station/convenience store (though it would have been more convenient had it been on my side of the road) and charitably bought her $5.00 worth of an expensive cologne named 93 Octane. (Yup, I did that for a demo bike.) But I still couldn't get her to talk to me. She only protested with a quiet chirp every time I poked her start button. Limey tart.

The opportunity to ride this Triumph Thruxton interrupted my spring motorcycle reserection.

The opportunity to ride this Triumph Thruxton interrupted my spring motorcycle reserection.

Well, Bonnie finished the ride in a trailer and I finished it with her sexy sister, Thruxton. Oh, I have serious love for both. Bonnie was dolled up with chrome and a splash of red, but Thruxton looked fast and encouraged me to assume a more horizontal position on her. Bonnie was a bit rigid, prudish even, in the positions she accommodated.

After dropping Thruxton back at her home, I drove to mine with a smile on my face while Bonnie sought medical attention.  I don't understand why she stopped talking to me. Maybe I was too aggressive? Maybe I was not aggressive enough? And we seemed to be getting on so well.

Arriving home I had to watch my smile and cover the smell of 93 Octane on my hands. I didn't want the Raider to know I had spent the morning in the company of other women. Brits, no less. I showed the Raider the new can of S1000 I had bought for her and she responded by not responding to it at all. "WHAT THE BLOODY....?!" Oops, I almost blew it with that phrase. I recomposed myself, thought things through, and concluded I used a different preservative on the Raider the previous fall, one that was unimpressed by a $12.00 can of cleaner.

I now had the Raider covered in oil and an ineffective cleaner. While rinsing off the cleaner, and watching both it and the water be repelled by the underlying preservative, I heard an unfamiliar, steady hum from near the hose reel. The sound stopped every time I turned the water off at the house. Always one to trouble-shoot, I concluded that the sound was that of the water passing through the faucet as interpreted by my impaired hearing from a head cold that was still clearing, so I pressed on with the rinsing.

I went inside to get a towel and saw that the stairs up into my kitchen were growing puddles from below. This was either the manifestation of a poltergeist or something was seriously afoul. In that instant I knew the humming sound I had been hearing was a jet of water escaping a burst pipe in my basement, pressure washing the underside of 100-year-old stairs. The new water feature flowing though my basement confirmed this conclusion even before I reached the bottom of the stairs.

I traced the leak (sounds impressive, huh? Heck, my 3-year old granddaughter could have found that leak) to a split in the faucet's frost-proof pipe. I removed the faucet to take it with me to the store so I could purchase a direct replacement. This was a setback, yes, but I was heading to the store anyway for some Simple Green to complete the only task on my list for the day. In case you forgot, it was to clean the preservative off my Raider.

Let's take a moment and recap, shall we?

  • The S1000 can was empty
  • The employees at the dealership, like Vervet monkeys, shouted out a communal warning when I walked in
  • Lizz (two "z"s) called me old
  • I broke a Triumph Bonneville that only had 60 miles on it
  • I nearly died from exposure (I exaggerated that a bit)
  • My new S1000 can still couldn't
  • My kitchen steps became self-cleaning (Note: Notify Zillow of this new feature so they increase my Zestimate appropriately)
  • My basement has a new water feature
  • My plumbing skills have been honed

I think that's about it. Let's continue.

I'll save you the painful details of finding a "direct replacement" for an exterior faucet that was only 4 years old, but at a future time I may touch on the flock of birds that flew over my head while I was in the store.

I installed the new faucet, tested it, and found no leaks. I placed a fan in the basement to dry the floor and clear the lingering cloud of profanity. Outside the Raider sat, covered in oil, headlight brow raised, wondering what the hell I was up to. I sprayed it with the Simple Green and tears came to my eyes as I watched the oil emulsify and slump down the Raider’s curves like a silk negligee falling off Marilyn Monroe. Tears of joy? Perhaps, but it's more likely the tears were the result of the wind carrying a cloud of Simple Green back into my face.

I reconnected the water hose and turned the faucet on. I took careful aim at the bike and opened the nozzle. In the distance I heard a dog bark. I heard it bark because there was no sound of rushing water to mask it.

“What?! The?! Bloody?!….” Oops, mind the English slang.

I slipped back into troubleshooting mode:

  • Water supply line turned on: right-tightly, lefty-losey. Yup, all good there.
  • A quick glance around confirmed no new leaks.
  • I disconnected the hose from the faucet and found the faucet worked in the way one would expect a $28.00 faucet to work

Curious. Water gets to the faucet but not to the end of the hose. That's when I saw I had parked the Jeep on the hose.

My Raider suspects I may be cheating on her, as I'm acting strangely. She's wrong, of course, this isn't an act.