Saturday, April 25, 2009


I had forgotten how much fun you can have with a wrench.

My father is a practical gift giver. As a kid I had received countless pocketknives for Christmases and birthdays. Fishing rods, sleeping bags, and all things outdoors would appear wrapped in the Sunday comics. At 13 I became the proud owner of a Ruger 10/22, skipping the BB gun and proceeding directly to rapid-fire plinking.

But the best present, the one that has traveled with me to every dorm room, attic apartment, and summer rental, was the Craftsman 250 piece mechanics tool set dad gave to me for my high school graduation.

As a kid, the mysteries of the internal combustion engine escaped me—as did my father's sense of irony.

During the years of working for my dad’s tree service, I had managed to avoid the wrench. When pressed I could change the plugs and distributor cap in the old Ford, or swap out a starter or the occasional water pump. On rainy days I learned how to tune chain saws and change the blades on the M&M. But generally, I avoided vehicle maintenance—too many parts, not enough patience. For most of their life, the tools had gotten away with the assembling of flat-pack furniture and light bicycle maintenance.

But people change. Our lives get busier, and we look for things that force us to slow down.

I bought an old bike because I wanted to do my own maintenance—to get dirty, to tinker. The airhead, with its heads and carburetors exposed, seems to be the perfect match.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Keeps Its Own Schedule.

We had a snow squall yesterday. Forty degrees and relentless wind.

I put the bike on the charger over the weekend. It started on the first try. A little backfire. Some white smoke. Then the familiar click that reminds me that I am an airhead.

There are things that need to be done. Oil change. Clutch cable. Break adjustment. Lube the spline.

I love my bike. I miss the road.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wish Him Well

I know that many of you arrive here via Steve Williams' Scooter in the Sticks. But for those of you who don't, stop by Steve's site. Our friend John is starting on an interesting little ride—his first one after losing a leg to complications from a motorcycle accident in the fall of 2007. Steve has a nice post about John's decision and photos of the new ride.

Good luck John. If I get my act together and replace that clutch cable, you'll have to show me how that new ride with the sidecar handles the curves.