Finding Your Footing

Some days, I can’t find my feet.

Oh, they’re still there, all right. I can glance down and see for myself. The big, puffy red one and the bony, black-and-blue one are there every time I check. Neither one has ever gone completely AWOL, even briefly (though one came close, once).

Nah, it’s not that at all. It’s just that they’re not always logged into the communications net. They don’t send their situation reports timely. In short, they’re shirking accountability.

Disobedient little things, too—for versions of “little” that include size 12 regular. When I ring the engine-room chimes, I’m not always sure whether I’ll get flank speed ahead, reverse starboard, or “you’ll just sit right down, mister.”

None of this is worth bitching about. There are work-arounds, like the one often suggested by Mom to her clumsy, nearsighted son: “Why don’t you watch your step?” There are yoga sessions and treadmills and acupuncture and PT and the best t-shirt advice ever: “TALK TO YOUR PHYSICIAN ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF GETTING OFF YOUR ASS.”

Still, there’s a penny that drops the first time you really watch an older gentleman walking, and suddenly wonder what kind of cane might fit snugly into your soft bags (MC Tested hint: the Hugo Salutes cane, in snappy blue-anodized aluminum, supports 250 pounds and folds right into most tank bags.) “I see old people, walking around like regular people...”

Yeah, I laughed up my sleeve at flabby mid-lifers as they blasted past my one-lung, clip-on sportbike on long grades, riding pimped out ass-barges sporting half a dozen cylinders. Hah! What did they know? I’d pass ’em back when they stopped to pee.

Haven’t ridden a clip-on bike now since last spring. Oh, there’s still one sitting in the carport. Her new glass-mat battery sips daintily at its float charger while her fresh tires silently harden. We’ve even got some track leathers around here, but since rotator cuff surgery the maximum number of pushups I can squeeze off equals zero.

Also, the range of my hydration cycle now pairs appropriately with a Harley peanut tank. Not one of those Sportster touring bikes, either. More like an over-jetted XR750 dirt tracker on the flag lap.

We all get there, most of us predictably and some of us instantly. If we’re damned lucky, we adapt with shorter sport rides, work out more often with lighter weights, or buy a V-Strom (motto: “for the relaxed adventurer”).

When or if we’re a little less lucky, we get to adapt to three-wheelers or (G-D forbid) sports cars. While sports car drivers are required by statute to paste Sporty Old Guy caps over their bald spots (yeah, that’ll fool ‘em on the Strip), we rider types get to slap mirrored visors across our Troy Lees and hide inside the same armor as the cool kids… huh? Whaddya mean, “knee braces?” Those are track pads, motherpucker!

Okay, so it may be a bit late for me to star in an ICON ad, and my hair’s too short, anyway.

But if Pretty Wife permits, her little GS awaits on the parking pad. Its low seat allows a leg swing even on cranky hip days; its seat doesn’t provoke that pesky bone sticking out of my back, and the bar bend is kind to rearranged cartilage. Low weight and rational pegs forestall stoplight knee mutinies. Big gauges readily visible under trifocals, electric start and a center stand make it as convenient as a Buick—and unlike a four-wheeled fogeymobile, I’m unlikely to kill anyone but me if I nod off into a reverie remembering whenI was fast.

I sure wasn’t planning to get like this. I never wanted to realize that booming cigarette racers may get you across the lake faster but you catch more fish in a dinghy. Teach a fogey to fish and you feed him for a lifetime…

Fast guy or well-fed guy: pick one. I dare you never to change your mind—or your pace—but I won’t likely be around to call you on it. You’ll find your feet on your own.

One foot, two feet. Red feet, blue feet. Covered in cowhide, they look just the same as ever: not really that fast, but still ready to go.

These days, the itty-bitty, teenie-weenie, yellow GS is lots more inviting than my more demanding S-bike. Just don’t dare utter that five-letter dirty word: T-R-I-K-E.