Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Time for a checkup

In a week or so the Beast goes into the shop for new shoes and a checkup. It's been a little over a year (fourteen months, to be precise) and the last time I took it in was a real blast. I rode to the shop on a miserable sultry evening in mid-June after work. By the time I was all wrapped up with paperwork and noodling around the shop looking at toys I couldn't afford, the sky had agglomerated into a single, ponderous slate-gray mass from horizon to horizon. I headed home on a 'Captain America'-style red, white and blue F650 loaner, foregoing raingear as I usually do in summer—getting rained on didn't concern me.

What I hadn't counted on was the tornado.

About ten miles down the parkway from the shop, all hell broke loose—blinding rain, lashing winds and best of all, hail. No, not the size of golfballs, but you know those little rubber-coated steel balls inside your computer mouse? About that size, but not coated in rubber and not as soft as steel.

Initially, cars pulled off the road because the rain was so heavy they couldn't see—now they were literally driving into the woods along the parkway for shelter from the hail. And there I am, grinning like an idiot, riding someone else's nimble, leggy enduro through the maze of fallen branches, beached cars, water-filled ditches and potholes—all on a surface coated with half-inch ice marbles.

I still have a mental map of exactly where the armored pieces are in my jacket, and where they ain't. My knuckles were stung time and again by hailstones even through my gloves, and I was completely soaked to the skin with intensely cold rain. I finally gave up when the hail became so ferocious I was afraid my visor would shatter; the noise in my helmet was deafening. Still, by the time I took shelter beneath an overpass, I pretty much had the road to myself; all the cars had given up and packed it into ditch or woods.

Ahh...good times, all the better since the Beast was safe inside at the time. I don't suppose I'd be so lucky to have that happen two years running...

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