The bike arrived on the Friday of MSF weekend. I ran up to Cascade,
in a state of nervous excitement.
Will had signed for the bike -- "I think you're going to be happy,"
he said. He'd had the bike out for a run and was pleased; it looked
like it was going to check out well.
R65, Photo by Tai Day
"Can I talk you into riding it up to Lake Washington Technical College
parking lot after work?" I asked. He agreed and my first ride was scheduled.
My first drop occurred promptly, because I was so excited after my first
cruise around the parking lot ("I wanted you to PuttPutt, to Go Slow!" Will
exclaimed, "You gave me grey hair!") that I didn't get my foot down in time.
S-l-o-w tip to the left; damage, one broken mirror. Well, I am vertically
The bike gets scheduled for its "once over" and passes; I graduate from MSF.
Jim Horton (former MSF instructor) rides the bike home for me. But not
before a return to the parking lot, where I practice MSF maneuvers. With
Lots of Stops (slavedriver!). A couple more drops (but at least I've now
learned how to pick her back up).
Poloroid to the rescue -- with picture in pocket I hop in the Jeep and head
south for my First WetLeather event,
The Gather. Crescent Lake, OR,
Except for the heat and traffic in the valley (multiple car fatality
accident on I-5) ... and the Jeep acting like it had a bad fuel filter on
the climb up the pass (it did) ... the trip was uneventful. A bit
overwhelming (almost 200 people and a dozen four-legged friends, including
my own Peaches) and a little nerve-wracking because they're all
experienced riders and I'm such a newbie. (This was self-imposed
nervousness; WL folks could care less how long you've been riding,
especially when you show up bearing libations like nicely aged
Single Malt Scotch).
I came back from The Gather (I'm finally starting to figure out who's who
-- faces to go with the names) and had my first ride the following weekend
(birthday weekend - the bike was a birthday present to myself). Wanted to do
the "early Sunday morning" thing, so traffic would be light. Spent Way Too
Much Time out; got tired and dropped at a stop sign in East King County.
Next Trial: Gas cap lock "locked" and wouldn't Unlock. Had to ride the bike
to Cascade and get them to drill the lock and order replacement cap.
("Dadgummit, Paul, this new cap doesn't have a BMW emblem like the old
First Moving Drop (ie, Fall)
The next Saturday, I was en route to a friend's party with a stop at
Cascade. Turned left out of the AM/PM station and was CERTAIN I'd heard a
scraping sound. "Was that the kickstand?" my reptilian brain screamed. (If
it had been, I would have already been down.) Tried to move over to the side
of the road but looked Too Hard at the sidewalk and just barely crunched it.
Over I went (right side); hard. Bike's fine (some scrapes on the cylinder
head and fairing); Kathy has Huge Bruise covering top third of thigh/hip,
from hitting the curb. Rode the bike to the party; drove my friend's car
home that night though (I'd taken some WL Brandy, Germain-Robin, which I
used for medicinal purposes). Retrieved the bike Sunday morning. On the
plus side, successfully navigated dirt/gravel/mud road to their house,
in and out, 200 yards. Had tough
time explaining bruise to my acupuncturist, but he performed miracles.
Second Moving Drop (ie, Crash)
The second was about 10 days later. Headed to I90 after cruising East King County.
Unfamiliar road; getting late (dusk). Realize I don't have on my safety vest
and start obsessing about it because I'm going to get on the Interstate.
Unfortunately, at this point in my motorcycle career I do not have enough
brain capacity to obsess about anything other than the road in front of me.
My left turn entrance to the freeway comes up suddenly at the top of a crest;
rather than drive past it and do a U-Turn, I try to make the hard left. I Look at the Gravel
alongside the road; guess where the bike goes. I hit the brakes. Guess where
the bike goes. I step off (wasn't going very fast at this point) and the
bike switches from what I think is a low-side to what must have been a high-side
as it ended up 180 from where I stepped off. Cracked right rear taillight
assembly. A few more scratches on the fairing.
Just when I think "I've got it!" a parking lot gets me again. These drops
tend to be very slow -- usually just down on the cylinder head. And this
after I had a custom seat built in January. It's enough to make me wonder if
I'll ever want a bike with lots of plastic bits. And as Beth says, the odds
of a drop are directly proportional to the number of people watching! Unless
you're tired and alone and it's late at night, damp, dark -- then you drop the bike on an
off-camber incline (this happened - the second guy who came into the hotel
parking lot helped me right her).
Dan and I went to the Bahamas for Christmas
and rented scooters for two
days. Well, I only touch toes on those, also, but they don't go too fast and
are fun. Squidly -- riding around in birkenstocks, sunglasses, bathing suit
and tank top. So guess what -- Dan stops in front of me to look at an
unfinished house in a residential section -- I (over)grab the front brakes
and They Lock Up. Screech; thump. Minor scrapes on the scooter -- serious
road rash on Kathy (right elbow, right forearm, right thigh). And one more
"hit" on the right shoulder pushed it over the edge; guess it's now
The second week in June,
Dan and I took off for the east side of Mt. St. Helens.
(We had already
visited the west side).
Forest Service Road 25
had just opened; we'd be among the first to make the trip. And it would be the first
time for both of us. My part of the trip had a highlight;
read my report to WetLeather. The amazing thing was
the amount of snow still on the mountain. FSR 99, which
takes you up to Windy Ridge, was still closed; I don't believe it opened until
Suspension and Lean
In August, I loaded up with camping gear and
headed off to Northern California for
The 1999 Gather. I was
a little worried, because everyone had told me the bike would handle
differently loaded. Well, it turns out it handled better!
Which led to suspension lessons on Saturday (and a trip to Cascade
for new - softer - springs upon my return). On the way home,
I took Ca3 north to
I-5, and on one of those tight hairpins, leaned over so far to the
right that I scraped the right
cylinder cover. Had it not been for Rob Fulwell, of WL, I probably
still would not know it; I did know it was the "most horizontal" I'd
ever been, however!
So, it's now been a year. I've made moderate progress on learning to
"wrench" ... have an extended "family" up-and-down the west coast and parts
east ... have made One Long Trip (now have a 400+mile day in a 1600 mile
trip) ... and have found that the more I ride, the more I want to ride.
Guess it's not a fad! I plan to submit my paperwork for MSF instructor this
For More Trip Pix, see WetLeather
1998 Christmas Letter
The Perfect Vehicle: 1st Year
Finding the R65
Trips and Trials