4.23.2006,7:45 PM
Local Adventure: Part 1
I left the house Saturday morning thinking I was leaving something behind. I did: water.

Friday night I mapped my trip on Mapquest. I wasn't happy with it, so I tried Google maps. The difference being that Google maps showed more detail than Mapquest. Since my intent was to skirt a traffic CF (ClusterFuck), detail was critical. Navigating the CF of freeways 141, 121, 360 and 2499 on four wheels was bad enough; I didn't want the stress of doing so on a small(ish) motorcycle.

After printing out my Google map pages, and cut to size, I inserted them in the clear vinyl top of my tank bag. Got all my clothes together, boots, socks, riding grear, change of clothes, sandals, book, camera.....sheesh. Then I went to bed.

Waking with the sun rise, I was up and brewing coffee. Can't go anywhere without a coffee IV drip. I threw everything in the back seat of the truck and drove to the shop. I stopped in the night before to make sure the windshield was on. Finally. After a month or so of back orders, wrong order, and frustrated sighs, it was on and ready. Today's trip would be the test.

I loaded the tiny saddlebags with my 'stuff', muttering to myself how much I hate the current saddlebags. They're too small and the useless buckle straps are like straps of leather on growth hormone. They are much too long and.......useless. They fasten with quick-release buckles. Why did they add these straps?

I laid the new tank bag on the tank, noticing immediately that the maps were inserted upside down. Rather than fuss with it, I put the bag on the tank upside down, so the maps were upside right. Ah, the Contrary Indian. I chuckled to myself when the image popped into my head of a mantaray with magnets hugging my tank. "Oh, I looooove you, Tanky." I needed more coffee.

Starting Red with the choke out, I let her warm up. Bryan the service manager came out to see how the windshield was. I think he was afraid to, considering the previous frustrations, but he seemed in a better mood that morning. It was morning, after all. He rides a sport bike, so our conversations often steer in that direction. He pointed to my new tank bag with the colored Google maps showing and said, smiling:
"Hey, you have your Hillbilly GPS, I see."

It had been two weeks since I last rode, so I refreshed all the motor patterns, neurons in the body and brain, reflexes and swearing module by taking a few turns around and about the strip mall in the back. Gave it a couple gooses over my favorite speed bump posting on the pegs, practiced some sharp and slow right and left turns and rode through a big puddle of water with my feet up in the air. I stalled twice on turning left from stops which surprised me. I was not going on the streets until I was satisfied with decent and proper left turns.

After I was satisfied that I was ready, I was on my way. I entered the ramp to access Hwy 183 that connects Dallas and Fort Worth propers. It is one of the two major umbilical cords between the two cities, traversing through smaller satellites forming what is referred to as the DFW Metroplex. I call it the DFW CF, but few seem to share my humor.

The western half of Hwy 183 is a rough potmarked streak of tarmac and concrete ribbon. I think they threw shovelfuls of tarmac out the back of the truck at 65 mph and called that 'highway repair'. Riding a motorcycle on it is a challenge in concentration and relfexes. The curved grooved section is an adrenalin booster; a direct squeeze on your adrenal glands. Push out those hormones that make your eyes widen and your heart pound. Your brain has to stand up and take control 'Relax your grip on the handles and let the tires find their groove. And breathe." Okay, I got the grip part down, but the breathing is tough.

Two miles down the highway, enjoying the wind buffeting my helmet and adjusting to the new ways it pushes us with the windshield, I'm relaxing and smiling. Then........ the engine quits. Looking down and thinking 'Oh shit!', I signaled and pulled off on the right shoulder. Stopping I supressed the reflexive panic and an itimized list appeared in my brain: What's the obvoius problem?

Leaning over, I switched over the reserve in the gas tank and pressed ignition. With relief I felt the engine rumble between my thighs and said aloud inside my helmet "Get thee to a gas station! Now!".

Eyeing an exit one-half mile up the highway, I exited and there was the oasis on the corner: a gas station. Knowing that I looked at the trip meter before leaving, and saw I had traveled 75 miles since the last time I filled up, I assumed that I had plenty of fuel until I exited the freeway. I broke my own Third Law and was obviously wrong. I cursed the small gas tank while I filled it inbetween laughing at myself and my second roadside pullover. (the first was to get out the tool kit and fix my left mirror which was flopping in the wind).

After gassing up, I re-entered the highway and readied myself to deal with the scramblings to exit onto the Hwy 121 access bridge. Riding Hwy 121 on two wheels was more enjoyable than in a box on four-wheels. And so I rode north searching for my exit to go east to Grapevine and bypass the Mastermix CF.

I had my Hillbilly GPS, but I still got lost.
posted by Macrobe
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