Off Center: Motorcycle Riding Reflection

Dust Never Sleeps

There's always something else. Especially around this joint, where everyone wants everything yesterday. It's all singing, all dancing, all the time. Redline seems to be the requisite engine speed. Maybe it's the same where you live, especially if you're like us and mostly live at work anyway. When you're around motorcycles, it's easier for work to get past the seals and lean out the mixture that fuels real life. Wife. Kids. Pembroke Welsh Corgis, friends and neighbors. Then, WFO still doesn't generate the trap speed your corporate crew chief had in mind. The throttle is on the stop. Something's burning down there. Did the bottom end sound like that in practice?

I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. But my forehead is hammered flat from hitting solid objects at high rates of speed. Tucking in tighter and ignoring the noise doesn't work. Neither does blowing a $59.94-sized hole in my Visa card on iTunes. Still, 10 out of 10 ad copywriters prescribe new motorcycles-repeat as necessary-and/or a very large hot tub, complete with that radio-controlled floating beverage tray in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. Just add five meticulously chilled malt beverages and one 16-oz. bag of Jalapeno & Cheddar Doritos. Makes its own sauce. Call before midnight tonight. Or not...

Here's how I reboot: Pull in, have a long drink of cold water. Run around the block once; switch the font to Osaka or whatever looks like the right tool for this screed. Take a deep breath. Find a feather duster. Or a nice clean diaper if that's easier. Details aren't that important. Head for the garage if yours is more palatial than mine. I start with the '72 Harley XR750 on my desk.

I yammered on about owning a real one till my jaw cramped up and Dad threatened military school. A new XR cost about $4000 back then-roughly 1333.33 trips over my grandmother's lawn with the trusty Hawthorne push mower. Steel shoe, leathers and fresh Goodyear DTs sold separately. Right now, this 1:10-scale die-cast version is close enough. It reminds me of Dad packing us into the New Yorker every time the Rolling Thunder Show came to San Jose. I remember the way the sidewalk shook under my feet when vans were the only thing in the infield with mufflers. And trying to screw up the courage to climb that tree in Turn 1 to watch Mark Brelsford pitch the factory XR sideways at what had to be 100 mph. Do not try that on a Schwinn American. Even if you do have a two-speed kickback hub and enough top-end to draft past Sting-Rays on the back straight. I can show you the scars.

That thin film of dust dulling the XR's tiny orange tank bothered me. Some-not you, of course-say it's just a toy. And a little dust is nothing compared to the accumulated evil in my Yamaha RD350B's VM28SC Mikunis. To me, the 8-inch Harley is a miniature monument to one of the few things in life that's better than it was a quarter-century ago, and gathering dust is fair warning. The essential, irreplaceable, exceptional stuff that lights my hypothalamic combustion chamber is...well, gathering dust.

Down in the dark between our neural couch cushions we all know any honest fix starts with an adverb: more. Not more as in MTV's Cribs. Not more money to finance a Garage Majal stocked with spanking-new motorcycles and a 14,000-lb. International CXT pickup to squire 'em in. Crank up your act to roll up in that $110,000 Tonka and the only thing you can't buy is time. Welcome back to life at 20,000 rpm. Around and around and around you go. Where do you stop? Your cardiologist knows.

No thanks. I'd rather dust off the RD, lever on a fresh set of Avons and just ride. I'll keep the prayer waves going for the rest of you guys, and lay down something from an underappreciated Kansas philosopher named Dorothy: "Well, I-I think that it...it wasn't enough to just want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em'...and it's that...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?"

Right.