Wednesday, January 9, 2013

To Hell and Back On A Motorcycle

cracked motorcycle mirror
Had I had a chance to do it over, I would've hopped on Blackbird from the right instead of the left. Instead, my momentum tipped the bike over on its right, dropping it over on the shoulder.

I knew I shouldn't have parked the bike here.

The shoulder was uneven such that when I put the kickstand down and dismounted, the bike remained standing at a 90 degree angle, with no lean. Not wanting to leave it that way, I hopped right back on, which pushed the bike over to its right. I put my right foot down, but the wet ground was slick, and I lost traction. Blackbird kept going over and I couldn't save her.

The result was cracked mirror, broken mirror housing, cracked engine guard cover, and scrapes to the right saddle bag. Probably close to a $1,000.00 damage just for tipping it over.

I've since replaced the mirror and the mirror housing, but opted to leave the broken engine guard cover and right saddle bag as they are.

I still look at the cracks and scrapes and remember the incident as if it were only yesterday. It was raining fairly hard along Highway 36 through Trinity County, CA, on a March afternoon, 2011. Snow blanketed the sides along Horse Ridge, about 4,000 feet up. Brian wanted to stop to get a photograph of the bikes against the snow.

I just picked a bad place to park, that's all.

Replacing a busted mirror stands to reason, but I just didn't want to fork over the money to replace the other parts just because they're scuffed or cracked. As long as they work.

Somehow, I've become attached to the memories, even the bad ones. Heck, memories of me dropping my ST are not really bad anyway. But without the scratches, cracks, dents, and other blemishes, there wouldn't be any interesting stories to tell. They'd all be about sunshine and pretty flowers.

Even if I did have the money, I wouldn't want to erase the cracks and scratches. Blackbird and I have logged a lot of miles together, and that includes the right saddle bag and engine guard cover. Where other guys take pride in how perfect and cherry their bikes are, I kinda like showing off her old battle scars.

For a guy like me who grew up with little family, holding on to these blemishes somehow comforts me. They're my memories, they're my travels, and my bike is part of my family.

There's something humbling in seeing an old gray-haired biker whose motorcycle has as many scrapes and dents as his body has scars and limps. Going to Hell and back and then telling folks about the journey seems pretty cool. His old weathered and faded jacket smelling of old sweat and bug splatter is a canvass painted with the same memories.

It's only when you add the tens of thousands of miles that these things absorb our spirits and become a part of us that you'll remember forever.


  1. Steve:

    with Sash's recent incident I was thinking what bad luck you are both having, but then I saw 2011 and realized that this was just a "flashback". I also have battle scars from a lowside when my bike was only 1 month old. I repaired my crash bars as best as I could and it is a similar reminder of a bad, sunny day 3 years ago. I also have scrapes on my sidecase and I am proud of it.

    one more thing, you are lucky to be a grey haired biker. that's better than a "no hair" biker

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  2. When reading this I was reminded of the old adage that scars are just tattoos with a more interesting story. It's those blemishes that make it unique and a great memory bank.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)