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Missives Part IV. 5/28/2007

We finished up breakfast, and mounted up. The group was breaking, with a bunch of riders wanting to head on further north, and making a whole day ride of it, and another group having to head back to the city by lunchtime. I asked Kala what she preferred, and she said it was up to me. I looked up at the sky, and the sun was coming out. I told her we’d go with the second group, and try to get back to town before the sun really hit with a vengeance.

A word about riding where I am. Tropical countries give you year round riding weather. Even in the rain, because the rain never gets to the point where you freeze. You get cold, and your testicles may shrivel up, but you won’t get frostbite. But, the tropical heat and humidity also means that wearing riding gear gets to be a lot like sitting in your own portable sauna. When the pace starts heating up, or even just riding at a fast clip under the noonday sun, you literally cook inside your leathers.  Sweaty crotch is not a nice thing, trust me on that one.

A small group headed off, and I decided to join them.  7 bikes in all, and the leader said we’d be heading up the hill, and back through the canyons. I told Kala that this would be a fast 30 minute sprint up the hill, to the cable car station, and then an even faster downhill run, bringing us to the canyons.  I told her the pace would pick up after that, and the final end run, into the last set of uphill/ downhill corners, would impress her.  I reminded Kala to hold on, and to lean into the turns with me.  She asked how fast we were going now, and I told her, “sorry, my speedometer isn’t working.”

She laughed, and asked how would I know how fast I was going.

I replied, “when the cops stop me, or the engine explodes, whichever comes first.”

We zoomed up the hill, taking the switchbacks and curves in a fast seamless line of motorcycles.  I was running about mid pack, with the lead being taken by a madman riding a Kawasaki Voyager 1200.  I was a little amazed at the road manners shown by the lead bike, in spite of the fact that it must have weighed close to half a ton, with the combined weight of bike, rider and passenger.  It was magic that morning.  The sun had come out long enough to take the morning dew off the road, without it being too hot to be uncomfortable.  I sensed Kala settling into a more comfortable position behind me, snuggling close, and keeping her eye over my shoulder, looking into the corner I was leaning into.

The machine responded to my every input on the handlebars and throttle.  The lead rider knew what he was doing, and was smooth doing it.  I didn’t touch the brakes at all, letting the bike do the work, trusting the tyres and suspension to do their thing.  I glanced over my shoulder at the bikes behind me, and I could see them doing the drop in and lean ballet, echoing the moves I had just executed.  This was Nick Ienatsch’s “The Pace”, brought to life.

And over the mechanical noise of the engine, and the howl of the Yoshimura, and the wind blast over my helmet, I could hear Kala laughing with delight.

Previous missives …

Missives Part III

Missives Part II

Missives Part I 

Girl Friday. 5/25/2007

Traffic Trauma. 5/23/2007

Four wheel drives have always figured prominently as my choice of company vehicle over the years.  I guess I’ve always been lucky enough to have been working for organisations where my work involved a high amount of mobility, and vehicles were seen more as an essential tool for my work, as opposed to being a status symbol.

There is a certain amount of status locally to having a company provided and paid for vehicle.  This is, of course, relative.  My first company vehicle was a 4WD with a driver.  A real one, not a poser’s wanna-be urban cowboy type thing.  Of course, it came with a gun rack, the stereo system was an encrypted UHF/VHF comms system, and it only came in 2 colours, olive drab or camouflage.

I then moved into the corporate world, and a series of mid sized saloon cars came and went.  In all cases, every month or so, I would get a memo from the finance department asking why my fuel bill for the month was so high.  There were accusations that I was misusing the fleet fuel card issued to me, until I pointed out to the finance manager in a management meeting that a car’s fuel consumption doesn’t do too well when you’re flying down the highway at above 100 m.p.h.  Every day. Her reply to that was, “drive slower”, and the General Manager, who had often seen me on the highway on the drive in to work, collapsed laughing in her chair.

I then made a move upwards, and reached a stage of management where I was given a choice of vehicle.  This was when I suddenly felt the urge to return to driving 4WDs, unfortunately in an urban setting, making me one of the posers who drives a truck, but never gets it muddy.  This changed fairly quickly, when a bunch of guys I met were into off roading.  And every Monday I would pull into the company parking lot with a vehicle that was covered in mud and leaves and stray branches, with the paintwork looking like a herd of demented cats had tried to scratch it to death.

There was a sudden change after that, with me rising through the ranks, and company cars getting bigger and more expensive, until the day I was issued a Panzer for my use by a client.  This was rather short lived, because I then received an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I made the move to something rather close to what I started off doing, though instead of making things fall down, I now build them up. And due to the nature of the work, when I was asked what kind of a vehicle I wanted, I promptly said, give me a 4WD.

And so they did.  A big one.  A giant diesel.

I’ve been driving this thing through city traffic the past couple of weeks, and I’ve noticed something that KY first remarked upon when he saw the diesel parked in my driveway.

To be continued…

Neighbourhood watch. 5/19/2007

I recently changed neighbourhoods. This is stressful event #2. Stressful event #1 is referred to here.

I walked out this morning, to grab the morning papers. I live in a sort of middle-upper class place, quiet, mainly older couples with grown up kids. I must be the neighbourhood aberration. When I moved in 3 weeks ago, there was a bit of a sensation amongst the kids in the area when the bikes were being off loaded the transport lorry. And also resulted in all the middle aged men in the neighbourhood sauntering by and giving me a welcome to the neighbourhood, when in reality, what they wanted was a closer look at the machines, and wondering if bikers were going to take over the place, shoot their wives and rape their dogs. Wait, that doesn’t sound right.

Anyway, I stood in my driveway, holding the papers in my hand, when I saw the old couple living across the street from me walk out. They must have been in their sixties. The old man got into his 1980’s S class Mercedes, which is parked by the curb everyday. He sits there for a moment, grumping. His wife comes scurrying out a few seconds later, carrying a 500 ml bottle of water. I can see him looking at her with impatience. She goes around to the front of the Mercedes, and starts clearing dead leaves and other debris from the hood. Then she goes to the front, and pops the hood of this S class Mercedes.

Now, I don’t know how well you may know S-class Panzers, but their hoods are not light. They may be balanced to open with one hand lifting it, but it still takes a fair amount of effort. And if you’re a 5 foot nothing old chinese lady, it really takes a lot of effort. She gets the hood up with some grunting, and then opens up the radiator. She pours the contents of the bottle into the radiator. Whilst all this is happening, I can see the old man sitting behind the wheel, tapping his fingers in impatience.

Some of my female readers will be clucking their tongues at the chauvinism of this man. Wait till you read about what happened next. As the old lady was screwing the cap of the radiator back on, she noticed some fallen leaves had gotten under the hood, blocking the fresh air intakes on the firewall. So she comes around the car, motioning to the old man to wait a moment, while she cleared out the debris.

What happened next made me laugh, although it was rather mean of me to do so. As she was leaned over inside the engine bay, trying to clear the leaves, the old man lost his patience, and started up the engine. This startled the old lady. She raised her head up in shock, and whacked her head on the underside of the hood. She stood up, rubbing her head in pain, and started shouting expletives at the old man. The old man started shouting back at her, and motioning for her to close to the hood and get into the car.

I looked on in some amusement, especially when the old lady flung the water bottle at the windscreen of the car, and stormed off back into the house.

Girl Friday. 5/18/2007

Low grade fever. 5/17/2007

I’ve been fighting off a low grade fever the last 3 days. It’s a bit of a nuisance. Not high enough to warrant me taking a sickie, not low enough to stop from being a bother. The accompanying headache and nausea isn’t all that much fun either. Someone’s been bugging me to go home and rest, but I’m going to use the excuse that I’ve just started a new job in a fairly senior position.

The Snark’s Management Tip #3,719. 5/15/2007

Never park in the reserved parking space of the guy who:

1. Heads your department.

2. Does your yearly performance review.

3. Has the authority to transfer you to Siberia.

RC is about to find out that the Snark has no sense of humour when he comes barrelling into the basement carpark in the morning to find his reserved parking space occupied by her car.

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