California sunshine and motorcycles
By Parson Thru
Hey! I tell ya! HST sure has a point about California, sunshine and motorcycles.
I’ve been an all-weather biker most of my life and it’s taken til now to work out this ain’t no time to get astride a bike.
So what if the battery’s flat?
Leave it that way.
All of them years fighting the elements to prove I could. Swaddled up in so many foul-weather clothes I could barely breathe.
By the time I got all dressed up I was sweating and claustrophobic just to get out on the goddam road.
And then the cold!
Oh my Lord! My fingers’d go numb and then the pain would set in. My eyes used to water and practically freeze up.
I remember one bike overheating in a blizzard. In a blizzard of all things!
The snow’d packed so tight in the radiator the engine wouldn’t cool no more. I had to scrape it out with my fingers, man.
Another time I was sitting up on a hill – I was a courier, carrying wages up to the quarries. Thousands of pounds just sitting in my panniers. And the snow just got so thick I couldn’t see no more. So I stopped.
A funny old shape was coming toward me. I was kinda spooked – then I saw they were sheep. A whole road full of white sheep in the snow. There were dogs running round them.
Well, I sat there for a few minutes as they pushed their way around me. In the end there was a man in a long country coat and a flat cap. He was the shepherd.
He walked by me just looking. I reckon I saw him shaking his head.
Once I was riding over the motorway. The M62 between Leeds and Manchester. It was winter again. I was on the high moor – Saddleworth, where Brady and Hindley buried the kids back in the 60s. I was booling along on a regular run around five-thirty. It was dark and the bike was hard over to the right on account of the wind.
I was passing lorries and such when the bars just went light and that bike just started snaking all over the road. When I looked, the surface was sparkling like Tiffany’s window. I just kept my head and slowed down easy-like. Kept leaning into the wind and tried not to get blown over the Armco.
When I stopped at Birch, I lit myself a cigarette and held my hands on the engine to get some feeling back.
Some ape lorry-driver walked by laughing and calling me mad.
I told him “Fuck off”. It was none of his business anyway.
I’ve ridden two hundred miles in pouring rain just in my jeans and jacket. I didn’t even know it was raining at first. The water was blasting right off my visor. I just felt my legs getting heavy and when I looked down my blue jeans were nearly black. My legs were so heavy I could hardly get em back on the rests again.
Then there were the trucks.
One time I was passing an artic, just getting level with the cab, when the bang nearly took me right off. Such a blast. I just saw all the rubber flying up in the air beside me. I was doing around seventy – seventy-five. In a second I remember thinking brake? or drop it down?
Those are the times when it all counts.
I figured if I braked and he lost it I’d go right under him, so I dropped it down a gear and nailed it. When I looked in the mirror the truck was across my lane. He’d have had me, by God.
Another time I was following one – right in the tyre track. Best place if they go over something big between the wheels.
Next thing there’s timber and shit flying up at me. He’d run right over a pallet. A big piece hit me right on the knee. Any idea how that feels? I hit a bird once and it hurt like hell. I thought that pallet’d broke my leg.
Hell, I tell you, if I could just ride that dumb broken-down Harley in the summer sunshine now – denim flapping in the breeze – that’d do me til they come to plant me in the ground.
Wish I was in California.