There I was.
Somewhere in the Southwest.
Riding into a 30 mph headwind.
My teeth grit. The ligaments on my neck popping. My arms gripping the bars with the desperation of a monkey losing a tug of war for a clump of bananas. Between the wind, the engine vibration, the lumpy road, and the semis passing me, my brain was turning to mush.
Little did I know the damned wind would push and shove me the whole way to Cortez. And then to Tropic. And Zion. And Death Valley. I would get a brief tail wind on 395, and then it would be all headwinds again all the way to Los Gatos. I wouldn’t have minded, except that I didn’t have a windshield.
It’s not that I’m opposed to windshields on principle. It’s that they suck. There have been exceptions. Like the Mighty K. A 2004 BMW K1200RS. My summer fling while living in New England. I’d dropped into a BMW dealership to keep a friend company, and I was smitten. The faster that thing went, the better the wind flowed around me. The Mighty K would have been ideal for the West.
Since I violate the Harley uniform guidelines by wearing earplugs and a big old Arai 3/4 helmet, Harley fairings and windshields rattle my eyeballs. On account of that acoustic effect that occurs when the kids open the window in the back seat.
You ‘re too sensitive
Tyler Durden muttered in my ear before asking the Service Manager at San Jose Harley if he had any rope.
We’d stopped there to install a new set of tires since I’d worn my old ones down to the nubs. It took a couple of hours on account of the rear wheel on the Softail Custom is a bear to get on and off. The first time I changed my own I threw a lot of tools around the garage before I managed to fit that 200 mm tire in between the brake caliper and everything else that’s in the way. Ever since, I’ve allowed the dealer to enjoy that particular pleasure.
While I was waiting, I wandered into the showroom, which is why the dealerships locate it next to the Service Department. A dozen shiny new touring Harleys, developed as part of Project Rushmore (a nod to the rebirth of the Indian Motorcycle Company), were lined up beside each other, sparkling. Harley claims that Project Rushmore improved the notoriously bad airflow around the new touring bikes, among other things.
Baggers are for for babies
Tyler would know. That’s my 2004 Road Toad. My first attempt at improving wind and comfort on long rides. The fairing was as big as it looks in the picture. Maybe bigger.
The salesman ignored Tyler and pointed out the appeal of the Street Glide. It’s a bonafide touring bike, he explained, but it’s still cool, like a 1969 Lincoln with suicide doors.
Tyler tied a knot into the rope the service manager had requisitioned for him. While he did that, I thought about telling the salesman that when I want breakfast, I pound my fists against my chest and my woman brings me breakfast. But the truth is, I’m the one who makes the coffee in the morning, both with cream, hers without sugar. I gently wake her with the aroma. Then we sit on the bed and talk about our feelings.
“Why don’t you take it for a test ride?” The salesman asked, handing me the keys.
All salesmen must die
“Oh, I couldn’t,” I said sheepishly, ” I still have to ride my bike back to Colorado.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve shipped a bike back home,” the salesman said as Tyler yanked on the kickstand of the first touring bike.
It toppled onto the silver one next to it, but the second bike was so massive it managed to hold up the first one.
Undaunted, Tyler walked to the other side of the lineup, lifted the Red Sunglo and Vivid Black Ultra Glide Limited off its sidestand, and pushed it over. This time it worked. Like a stack of dominoes, one 900 lb Project Rushmore behemoth after another toppled onto the one beside it until they hit the first two, which almost, almost managed to hold up the pile, but in the end gave in and toppled over with a loud crash.
Now you have room to get some real motorcycles in your store
Tyler handed the keys back to the salesman, who accepted them, standing there, as stunned as the sales manager who had just run out of his office.
That day’s distance from Springdale, Utah to Stovepipe Wells, in Death Valley, was 433 miles. Elapsed time was 8 hours, including a one hour detour into North Las Vegas to get my expense receipts scanned, on account of Tyler made me blow that off before heading out.
The picture of the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited is courtesy of www.autoevolution.com.