I never see anyone riding on my commute. Well, maybe on a beautiful, sunny summer day. But not now. Not in the cold, the dark, the rain, the leaves, the road construction.
Yesterday morning was torrential rain. As I was riding up my cut-through by the El Tiburon bar, a guy was barreling down Harold Street on a scooter. Thing is, he wasn’t wearing a helmet or any kind of raincoat. He was wearing a Dumb Donald (of Fat Albert fame) woolie cap. Not sure how that was helping alleviate the pain of rain stinging the face.
I gave the lobster claw fist pump, and he gave me several toots on the horn.
How a normal person buys a spark plug
- Goes to auto parts store
- Tells clerk make & model of bike
- Clerk looks it up
- Clerk locates correct plug
- Normal person pays
- Normal person leaves store with the spark plug
How I buy a spark plug
- Pull old plug and note number
- Confirm fitment in manual
- Go online to confirm what plugs fit
- Write everything down on a sticky note
- Go online to check what auto parts shop in Providence will have the plug
- But still go to the shop I prefer even though the website showed nothing
- Guy at the shop wasn’t particularly nice when telling me, “We don’t have it. I can order it.”
- Get annoyed
- Go to the gym
- Stop at auto parts shop closer to home
- Get in sorta line as folks aren’t very good at lining up at this shop
- Wait as the two guys in front of me have the clerk (Isaiah) try to find a matching hose to the one they brought in
- Watch as a guy attempts to make a return, only to be told that only the manager can do that
- Watch as clerk yells for manager, Dustin, and receives no response
- Watch as returning guy just sorta stands there, not knowing what to do
- Laugh when clerk, after about 5 minutes, announces that Dustin must be outside
- Watch as Dustin walks through the shop door
- Clerk yells to Dustin to help the returner customer
- Dustin yells over to me and asks what I need
- I yell back I need a spark plug
- He tells me to get in line behind returner guy
- I don’t know why since hose guys are almost done
- Oh, I failed to mention, this is all happening in Spanish, except when I’m spoken to
- I get behind returner guy
- Hose guys finish so Dustin tells me to go to my original clerk, Isaiah
- I tell Isaiah the plug is for a motorcycle and he gives me a concerned look
- Dustin tells Isaiah to cross-reference the number
- It appears Isaiah doesn’t know how to do this
- I point on computer screen at where I think he should click
- He looks at me, and Dustin yells over that I’m correct
- Success! Isaiah finds the cross-reference number
- Unsuccess! Plug is not in stock, but it is at another store
- Call the other store and confirm that yes, indeed, the plug is in stock
- Leave the store and saddle up the Buddy
- Get ready to ride down the curb into the parking lot
- Front tire lands on the ground just as a red scooter with a “Buddy for Mayor” sticker drives speedily into the same spot, ridden by a guy with fabulous dreads and earbuds
- He yells over “We’re sharing a spot” as I bust out laughing
- Head down to yet another auto parts shop, not the sister store of the one I was just at, but one that showed the plug in stock online
- Watch as Casby’s poodle hurdles across traffic-infested Elmwood Avenue
- Continue to watch as Casby casually strides behind said dog into traffic
- Arrive alive at the third auto parts shop
- Stride in and immediately have the clerk ask me what I want, in a nice way
- He looks up the plug information
- Success! They have it in stock
- $5.50 later, and after a “we stock a lot of motorcycle and scooter plugs because there are a lot around here”, I leave the shop with plug in hand
- Spin Buddy back toward home
- Notice a dirt bike riding behind me in rear view mirror
- Move over to the left of lane as dirt bike appears to want to pass
- Receive a flash of a smile and peace sign from guy riding an 80’s Honda XR 200
- Honda XR continues to pass a bunch of vehicles in front of me before turning down a side street
- I eventually make it to my street in one piece, spark plug safely tucked away in my left jacket pocket
Why, why does it take stopping at three shops, an excruciatingly long wait in one where it felt like I was in a Central American airport with all the different accents, to purchase one lousy plug for a Suzuki DR350? Why?
I thought living in a city was supposed to make things MORE convenient.
This post doesn’t really have anything to do with scooters, except for the fact that I did, indeed, commute on the Buddy today.
One of the IT guys was over in my office today because I couldn’t get the stupid network printer to show as online. Apparently I gave a lot of the Help Desk folks a good laugh with my ranting description of the issue, including “yes, I did turn it off and on, and that did nothing.”
Anyway, he’s a really nice guy, and has been working on the campus for a long time. He’s been diagnosed with ALS. Young guy, probably late 40s/early 50s. And he’s really angry about it. We had a long talk as we both struggled with getting this stupid printer to work.
Later in the day I met with one of the profs, who happens to also be a Catholic priest, to go over some of his image content for a histology course. Often in my meetings with professors, I get a little lesson on the content (they can’t help themselves…don’t get me talking about semantics ‘cos you’ll get a little lecture, too).
He opened up a slide with an image of a slice of a cockroach eye. He says to me, “Look at God’s brilliance. Look at how beautiful that is.” I looked at the image, then at the prof, then back at the image, and finally muttered, “Ya know, it is very beautiful. Such a perfect design.”
At the end of the day, as I’m riding from the gym (oh, there was another scooter parked at the gym so I’m not the only one!) into downtown to go to the credit union, I just started crying. Why can’t I just work at a normal place?
Casually riding home home tonight on the Buddy, three ATVs, three abreast, scream around the corner onto Sprague near the rehabbed brick factory on Dexter. Thing is, a car was also coming down the street. I don’t know how a collision was avoided; car, 3 ATVs, scooter. Wild ride and it’s only a 4 mile commute. Why don’t the cops do something about the ATVs, most likely stolen, riding around city streets. And Angel wants to be Rhode Island’s gubner, ha!
To my lovely Jeep this afternoon, struggling in the confuse-a-cat traffic at the intersection of Dean and Atwells, who thought it appropriate to yell out the window “fuck you!” when I scooted between the gridlock…shoulda thought about that initial purchase, eh?! Haha!
My favorite bier in the world is now available in the USA: Why Andech’s Doppelbock Dunkel is nectar of the gods
Best fucking beer in the world.
I had a freakin’ BLAST today. Great people, great route, and great weather.
- jgormley for leading a really fun ride (yeah, leading sucks)
- CBejbl for hiking the DR Little up a hill when he wouldn’t start after a failed bumpstart (thanks drewha)
- Bikenstitches for suggesting the battery connection was off (well, actually, CBejbl’s idea ), and
- drewha for wrenches
All in all — five bikes — perfectly sized group
WR250, DR 350, TE610, F650 Dakar, 690 Enduro
All the pics (unedited)
Meet-up at the Dunkin’ Donuts – imagine my surprise when I arrived and akarob was there on the mighty KTM 990 ADV. And then xjake. They both showed up to say ‘hi’ but went off their own ways.
Already doing bike repair in the DD parking lot — someone forgot some screws
Swamp Meadow Bridge, Fostah, RowDylin’
Highest Point in Rhode Island, Jerimoth Hill (Fostah) — I think drewha got a nosebleed
Pulling out the paper map — this can’t be good
I love this picture. CBejbl looking badass with his KTM 690 Enduro
We had to turn around after following our fearless leader. “This trail shows as going through on the GPS.” Yeah, no.
Fun in the woods! At least the kids are being safe. I couldn’t tell if it was used and placed neatly back in the package, or someone left the woods very, very frustrated
Nice dude on a Dizzer (yellow is the fastest color) from West Wawa stopped where the DR Little wouldn’t start.
Braaap Braaaaaaap. jgormley gets to try CBejbl’s 690 Enduro.
My turn. I look hawt in orange
Do not follow this man. drewha leading us up the creek without a paddle.
CBejbl, drewha, Bikenstitches
Major shoutout to Bikenstitches for riding the big pig F650 Dakar today.
Part of the posse — drewha & Bikenstitches
It never looks as dramatic in the pics
WTF? We need to ride UP this.
All I could think as the Jeep was heading down is what the F are THEY thinking? We were lined up like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (plus a girl) facing them, and yet they still drove down.
Everyone made it up with no drops, no stops, no help needed. Even me. I don’t know how I got out of my own head.
FU RIDEM. This is the DEM’s idea of ruining a nice dirt road.
Bikenstitches was behind me, nailing all the puddles. And then I looked, no Bikenstitches. I figured he had a bit of a struggle with the thick sand, and sure ’nuff. drewha went back to help. I would have, but I’m usually more of a burden than assistance.
No harm, no foul. Who needs turn signals in New England?
A concerned CBejbl
Would you like bacon with that hoagie?
Sand damage — that’ll duct tape right up
Road-worthy requirements in B-ville are pretty lax. This pulled in AFTER we saw an ATV pulling a trailer down the main street.
Oh, and a special message to the RIDEM: Fuck you!
“You can’t ride those in here!”
“Huh? Licensed, registered, insured.”
“Oh, I’m used to illegal dirt bikes.”
Do you seriously think I would ride up to you, Rangerman, if I was on an off-road only bike? Whadd’ya think, I’m a morAn? See these amber things? And this small, rectangular metal thing with numbers on it? Go F yerself. You’re standing between me and a nice bathroom.
Seriously nice ride today. I can’t wait for the BBA this coming weekend
We had our first motorcycle fatality of 2014 in Rhode Island on Friday evening. I spent some time looking at the Google street view of the location and just couldn’t figure out what happened (22 year old on a GSX-R that he purchased in March of this year, at least that’s what I sussed out from his Facebook profile). The street surface looked smooth and the stretch of road looked straight. It was bothering me enough to make it the aim of my ride this evening (after stopping at the Aldi, the credit union and the house to drop off the groceries).
Now, it is well-known by those who know me that I am hopeless when it comes to trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B without intensely studying a map and writing very specific directions. But for some reason, I decided to just wing it.
And here’s the crazy thing. I actually found the street. I had never been there, a street that parallels I-95. I kept coming upon dead-end after dead-end as the highway was cutting off the surface streets. But I persevered and kept heading in what I thought would make the most sense. For once, I was actually right. I couldn’t believe it when I was stopped at a red light, and felt like I should make a left, when I spotted the street sign. I found it!
I rode down the street a ways and spotted the accident scene easily as a makeshift memorial had been set up (I don’t get these roadside candle and flower tributes, but it did make it easy to find). I wanted to continue on the street to see where it went, so I rode on. It got kind of creepy with gates and fences everywhere. There was a dirt road that paralleled the railroad tracks but I couldn’t figure out a way to get to it as the river was inbetween where I was and the tracks.
At one point I stopped and walked down into what appeared to be a spot where people dump crap and found two rib cages. There was a bunch of rope and a couple of 5 gallon plastic pails. I think I know what I found, but I don’t really want to think about it. It kinda creeped me out.
It was getting to be about dusk so I turned back up the road and tried to ride it thinking like a 22 year old guy on a Gixxer. Naturally I wasn’t very successful in this endeavor. I still don’t get it. There was a slight turn to the road before the place where he hit the pole, but it was so much before I can’t see how an over-correction would have gotten him into the pole. The only thing I can think is he lost control earlier, looked up and saw the pole, and target-fixated. Nothing else makes sense. It’s just so sad. If only he had gone off the road 5 feet earlier or later, he’d probably still be here as it was a huge lawn.
I continued along the street until I came upon a bridge over I-95. I had no idea where I’d wind up, but I swung a left and rode down the parallel street on the opposite side. Lots of little kids out, riding bikes, playing. At least three gave me a thumbs-up. At what point do little boys go from thinking scooters are cool to scooters being, ahem, not cool.
Astonishingly, I eventually wound up on a street where I knew where I was. It was as if I somehow acquired a sense of direction overnight. I still don’t know how I figured out how to find the street and how to get home. Maybe my knowledge of Providence is really getting to be good, as if I’m approaching the Knowledge.
Oh, and this showed up last week on campus.
Tick Tick Tick go away!
After freaking out after the goo I found on the dipstick after my arrival at the first-of-the-year Pachaug Camp-N-Rides, I poured some random oil into the Suzuki DR350 to get me through the next few days (thanks Dave!).
This week has been and continues to be a bit of a hell week, but I knew I had to change the oil as I need to ride the baby DR on Thursday down to the Twisted Throttle Rhode Island Bike Night as I’m working the CCRI table because, really, someone from the moto-training courses in Rhode Island has gotta represent for the ADV crowd.
Sooo, after leaving work late because of a big annual event, I headed downtown to City Hall to pay my property taxes to Providence so my street can be swept by the auto-machines once a year and potholes cannot be filled. Someone had the bright idea of having the tax office open late until 7pm a couple of days before taxes were due, and it was brilliant. I got fucking rockstar parking immediately in front of City Hall, and there was no one in line. The best part? The lady called me ‘honey’ which made me smile.
Then onto the gym, first time since the CNR because I had gotten beaten to hell on the Saturday afternoon ride. An hour later, I pop onto the Honda Elite and head home, knowing I had a pile of laundry and a sad Suzuki waiting.
Oh, but wait.
I GOT EVERY LIGHT ON BROAD STREET.
This has never happened before. I was screaming inside my helmet after I passed through the last light before the turn onto my street, “I got every fucking light!”
Wanna put a big grin on a girl’s face? Give her a crowded city street with a full view of green. I vividly recall watching all the lights turn green on Avenue A one very early morning in New York when I was out riding my bicycle. It’s a freaking symphony.
After stuffing the washer with laundry, it was out to the garage with a rare Strongbow in hand.
Part of one Tom Ashbrooke on Supreme Court decisions about copyright and broadcast rights, and affirmative action and college admissions, which I thought was interesting, and into a ridiculous Tom Ashbrooke about life coaches (really?!) that I kept thinking this has got to be enough oil that I poured in, I was done.