7.19.2008,1:19 PM
Meandering Sherpa
Anyone who has ridden a horse knows what it's like to resist giving the reins to the horse and letting it run on its own. Underneath you it wants to let loose and go; stretch its long front legs out in front and drive underneath itself with strong back legs, pushing off with that three-beat canter flying above the ground. And you want to feel it, too.

But circumstances usually prevent you both from flying. Perhaps its wisdom.

As I rolled out of my gravel driveway this morning onto the road I found my hand rolling the throttle of the Sherpa a bit too eager. The front end was nearly airborne in second gear. I remember the feeling when for a second Shadow's rear end pushed off underneath him and a front leg reached out in front. For that split second we were both airborn. It's an awesome feeling. And so it was when the front wheel nearly left the ground.

That second of euphoria was closely followed by the wizened 'Whoah, Nellie!' and the throttle was slowly backed off before shifting into third gear. Regardless, I let the pony run along the bumpy country road over creeks, whiz in between pastures and slow to a trot and walk at the intersection of the FM road into town. Time to behave.

Each time I ride the little bike on short jaunts into town I test my capabilities and limits. For each stop I practiced slowing down to nearly a stand-still before putting my left foot down on the tarmac and leaving my right on the peg. Balance was a bit awkward for awhile but it improved on the way home. Today was the first for backing the bike up; twice, actually. Again, a bit awkward and slow, but doable as long as the ground is level. Even better if we're parked on an incline; gravity is a blessing sometimes.

The 42-mile ride between 7 and 8 this morning was cool; a treat for a summer day in Texas when temperatures hover around 98-100 degrees F. The wind blew through my mesh gear and the helmet visor cracked open just enough to dose me with a welcome coolness. After exiting the interstate and riding down an empty FM road, I turned right onto the bumpy weed-encroached road to access the small airport. Stopping at the head of the single airstrip, I yielded to three small planes jockeying for take off and watched. The small airport was bustling this morning.

Pulling in front of the line of bikes at the tiny cafe alongside the strip, I had to find a spot quick before being decapitated by an approaching wing of the small plane taxing in for gas. We sandwiched ourselves between a blue Wee-strom and a likewise blue SV650. I chuckled at the incongruity of the two bikes: same manufacturer (Suzuki), same color (Suzuki blue), and almost same motors (detuned SV650 in the Wee-strom) but different purposes: sport bike and dualsport. Now in between them was a gaudy green naughty KLR250 pony with clunky knobby shoes and funny gray beak; a misfit.

The Sherpa was too close to the Wee-strom for me to disembark on the left, so the right foot and leg were tested this morning. Carefully putting my weight on the right leg and foot, I slowly lifted my left leg off and over the saddle and then froze: how am I going to put my leg down sandwiched between next to the SV? Carefully, oh so carefully. I learned I can't twist or hop on that right foot; not yet.

Pulling my sandals out of the tail bag, I limped over to a table outside in front of the cafe with greetings to several rider friends I hadn't seen in a long time, and one I'd seen the night before at Friday Night Ice Cream. Boots and socks were removed and shoved under my chair, feet squeezed into sandals with relief: Ahhh........

Nearly all who know me are familiar with my predilection for ice cream. A suggestion for breakfast was a new item menu: pancakes ala mode with sausage. Well, I just had to try it.


It was good. In fact, it was wonderful: cold ice cream on warm pancakes on a summer morning? How can anyone go wrong? Well, I was incapable of finishing it. The sausage went down quickly, but the pancakes were half eaten when I just couldn't fit any more into my stomach.

Spending some time chatting with fellow riders, lazily sitting at tables in the shade watching planes land and take off, sipping cups of coffee...... what a wonderful relaxing morning.

Little planes of many colors paraded down the airstrip. One really captured my attention. The paint job was truly magnificent: waving red stripes along side the body and white stars bedecking a blue nose. With matching slippers. It was a beauty.


Glancing at the line of bikes on my left, one caught my eye and held it. Finally I just grabbed the camera and narrowed in on the little nuances that pulled me to it. An absolutely pristine 2003 Yamaha Vmax stood like a black stallion amidst a herd of mustangs. This magnificent and powerful bike is in a class of its own; a fast bike and a work of mechanical art.



Another work of art nearby caught me. I've always liked Pat's helmet. And it's so.... unlike Pat.



Too soon it was time to don the gear and ride our separate ways. Feet were squeezed back into socks and boots, mesh gear zipped closed, helmet encasing head and..... I have to back up. With the left foot and leg pushing, the right foot serving only as a stabilizer, we managed to back out of our level spot. I would repeat this an hour or so later at the post office. It can be done, carefully, as long as gravity doesn't conspire against me.

I chose to ride home the long way round, down several FM back roads with little traffic, stopping at the post office in town. As I walked out with helmet and purchased stamps in hand, an older woman greeted me, "Ah, nice to see a helmet!!".

I smiled and nodded, "I wear it all the time; never leave home without it."

The ride home was delicious and fun. The pony was tired with an aching and slightly swollen ankle. Sitting on the couch with the entire foot wrapped in ice was a relief. Longer rides will require the pressure bandage, but next week's ride will be doable.

And so the Sherpa cantered and trotted today. Now safely home and tucked in; perhaps another little sprint tomorrow for coffee and phone calls to the family. A good day, I'd say.



posted by Macrobe
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