Welcome back, big guy | VailDaily.com

Welcome back, big guy

The lightning flashed, and I heard laughter.The laughter came from the Motorcycle Gods, who were giving a properly wet greeting to a former acolyte, me. Between guffaws, I heard something else: “Welcome back, big guy.”I recently purchased an old motorcycle for summer commuting and pleasure riding. The search for an old (meaning: cheap) bike began in March, when my wife shot me an off-hand remark just after I started work here: “If you’re going to be commuting, you should get a motorcycle for the summer.”My reply, of course, was, “You’re absolutely right,” and the search was on.After a few months of searching, I uncovered the right bike at the right price, rode it home that Saturday, and got thoroughly soaked in the process. The Motorcycle Gods have kept me relatively safe over the years, but in return they reserve the right to mock me: “So, you wanted a bike, huh? Here, we’ll help you christen it (splash!)!”Still, until I got whacked with the pea-sized hail, even being wet was OK, just part of the drill. Baseball games might get called off due to showers, but not riding home.It’s true that once you learn to ride you never forget, but being bikeless for more than a decade, it’s easy to forget some of the finer points of internal combustion on two wheels, such as:• Weather: More than rain, motorcycling exposes riders to wind, subtle temperature changes and other things four-wheel drivers never experience, and much faster than those who pedal. For instance, it’s hard to imagine how much air an 18-wheeler disturbs until you’ve hit the turbulence a couple of hundred yards back.The good side of that coin is you’ll never experience zones of heat and cool riding through farm country in a car.Weather can be maddening or a delight, but dealing with the elements is part of the adventure.• Adventure: Even a simple trip to work becomes a minor expedition on a bike. That’s fine, but make no mistake, gearing up for even a half-hour ride adds time to the trip. If you’re of the right disposition, though, the fun is worth a few extra moments.• Nuance: As opposed to John Kerry’s Senate voting record, nuance on two wheels is easy to write about. But it’s hard to master.Braking into and through corners – with the right hand squeezing the front binders, the right foot the rear – might be the trickiest thing to relearn, followed closely by the subtle twitches needed for small direction changes, and just how much squirming around on the seat is possible without sending the machine careening across the lanes.While relearning the old tricks, old dogs are keenly aware of the error margin, which is pretty thin. Yes, it’s like bicycling, but the difference in speed magnifies everything. Rolling along at 70 mph or more with boot soles barely a foot off the ground is a serious reminder that you’re on a vehicle, not in one.Getting back into the two-wheeled swing of things is pretty much like old times again, and it’s a blast. Until the hail hits and the water starts sloshing around in my shoes. It’s nice to be back.Staff Writer Scott Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 612, or smiller@vaildaily.com

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