6.11.2006,8:11 AM
Bringing Home Baby and the 256-Mile Parade of Bikes: Part I
The day arrived to pick up the new addition to the family: a V-Strom DL650. After spending months reading magazines and reviews, perusing Internet forums, visiting bike shops, sitting on and discussing bikes, I decided on a V-Strom. It didn’t take long for the veteran V-Stromers to convince me that the 650cc (commonly referred to as “Wee-Strom”) would do everything I wanted especially considering my size and goals. Karma favored me for once (thus maintaining the balance of the Universe once again) when I found a For Sale ad on a forum: a silver ’06 DL650 in Houston. After exchanging emails, the deal was sealed with an electronic handshake and I was feeling like an expectant mother.

During the weeks of waiting I researched and planned for outfitting the new steed, modifications and adding bits and pieces, this and that, here and there. The two dry erase boards in my home office are full of notes: weights and measurements of side and top cases, GPSs, electronic accessories, hand guards, custom saddlemakers, lowering links, flow chart in outfitting the mods and accessories…… The Education of Whee.

It was time to bring the new baby home.

Loaded with maps, ramps and tie downs, I met my fellow Suzuki buddy, Dirk, for breakfast at Kirby Lane in Austin. A cloistered small restaurant in the trees on the Hwy 183 S frontage road in north Austin, their reputation for the best pancakes in that area precedes them like a tidal wave.

True to Elzi’s First Law: “Where there is a positive, there is always a negative,” unfortunately Kirby never mastered the art of making good coffee. Always a solution for every problem, I brought my own thermal mug filled with freshly brewed Starbuck’s java. If you are in the vicinity of Austin and delight in delicious pancakes, be sure to sample Kirby Lane’s ginger pancakes; they are a wonderful delight.

Leaving the restaurant, our adventure began.

Only after I had arranged the bike pickup was I reminded the same weekend was the Republic of Texas Rally: the city would be a sea of loud pipes, leather and chrome. Every year thousands of bikes and their riders descend upon Austin for four days of events, including the famous parade of bikes: all kinds, sizes and colors through downtown Austin. It is a sight to see at least once. However, having lived in the Austin area for four years, I was no stranger to the event. I planned to circumvent the city proper that Saturday morning and avoid the congestion.

During the drive south to Houston Dirk and I passed the time chatting about bikes and life in general. Dirk’s bike is an integral part of his life; it is his only mode of transportation as well his best friend. Riding a Suzuki SV650, our bikes have much in common: the same engine is the heart of the V-Strom DL650. Dirk captivated my attention with his ever-entertaining stories and intimate knowledge of not only the Suzuki’s but all bikes across the various genres: cruiser, sport, touring, scooters, their history, you name it. The conversation altered our perception of time and our expected three-plus-hour trip quickly ended. As Dirk co-piloted with my Hillbilly GPS (MapQuest printouts) we located the house and there he was in the drive way with those mischievous eyes waiting and watching like a sentinel: the Wee-Strom. I affectionately named it “Whee!!”

After the introductions, greetings and pleasantries with the owner, we all shared stories about bikes, riding, and more bikes. The common thread that pulls all riders together, no matter what machine they ride, what color or size, is riding. The adventures, the delights, the thrills and spills, the stories, the agonies, the parting sorrows, the joyous long rides or the short sprint, it’s the wonders of the road and the people that unite us all. Bikes are a magnet for a like spirit that resides in many of us, especially those who are brave enough to live that spirit. No matter what age, gender, color, economic or social status, bikes are the steed upon which our spirits soar. Even when a rider loses his life, no matter what the circumstance, we all feel it.

After documenting my riding and seating position by digital camera for the future seat modifications, Dirk took it out for a spin. We loaded the bike into the back of my truck and secured it down. It was snug and steadfast, ready to roll home. I grinned like a new Mommy on the way back to Austin, parking the truck and bike near the window while we ate lunch under my vigilant eye.

The journey has begun.
posted by Macrobe
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