Thursday, October 21, 2004
Lordy, lordy but fast is fun. Last week I gave in to temptation and whacked the throttle full open through all but 6th gear. The pavement was mostly smooth and fairly straight and runs through nothing but cotton country and pecan orchards so I just decided to go for it. It felt like the right moment and sometimes you just gotta do it.
I figured that I'd let her rip to about 120 mph and back off. Heck, what's the harm in that? I'd done it plenty of times in days of yore. The gathering speed was like some drug I'd been hooked on once and kicked...but not quite. Once I had the taste of speed in my brain again I wanted more. The bike pulled so strong that as 120 went past I had to have more, had to have more of that acceleration feel, make the 990cc v-twin thunder last a little longer. More... More... The approaching bend in the road and a peek at the digital speedo coolly blinking past 148 mph convinced me to back off the throttle and settle down to something closer to 70. Lucky I my backpack didn't blow off, my lunch was in there.
I know, 150 mph is nothing these days for sport bikes but it's the fastest I've gone on a bike and I want to go faster. Soon. And often. No, not on the track either, the track is too limiting and Bonneville is too expensive and only once a year. I want to see the trees go by in a blur and the road turn into a tunnel while I wonder if some errant coyote will end his life and mine abruptly. I want pure, unadulterated, unregulated, no rules speed. I want to go scary fast. There, I said it. At the age of nearly 54 years the wild eyed kid that ran loose on the roads of Southern California in the early 70s still lurks inside just like I thought. Nice to see you again, lunatic.
I walked into work and plopped down at my desk to answer e-mail and ponder my moment of mild insanity. Assorted thoughts chased around. How fast will the Falco go? Most say about 155 mph. That's only 5 mph faster than I just went. Maybe a Hayabusa would be the ticket. Ticket... ticket... Red lights... Hand cuffs. Shame. Debt. Jail. New jail friends named "Big Mike" or "Ramrod" who want to know me in ways I don't wish to be known. No one I know has enough money or loves me enough to bail me out. This could get ugly. Ah, congratulations my friend, you're back to being 50-something again.
Beyond not wishing to give into speed lust more than I have, there were more practical issues with the Falco. Sadly, and as might be expected of some exotic woman, Aprilia Falco required things of me I was not able to provide and amongst them was self-restraint. That, and my poor old body, wracked by years of assorted sporting crashes, misadventures, and general abuse, was not able to sustain the required position for more than about 15 minutes without critical parts like my throttle hand going to sleep. Motorcycles are like women in some respects one of which is that they get difficult when you fall asleep too soon.
I'd added a set of Helibars to get a more sustainable riding position and they helped a little but not enough. Doing a hundred miles, even with a break, was a real chore and the constant fiddling to keep my throttle hand from going numb spoiled a lot of the fun. I should mention here that some three decades back I seriously wadded up a hang glider and injured my back. Since then the strength in my hands has been a little suspect. Remember kids, a misspent youth can haunt you for years.
From a practical stand point I was never going to be able to ride the Falco the way I wanted to, as far as I wanted to, as fast as I wanted to, plus I didn't want to wind up in jail. I came to the conclusion that the biblical remonstration to "flee temptation" had some merit here. After returning from a 100 mile Saturday ride during which I only broke the speed limits a little I sat down at the computer and placed an ad for the Aprilia in Cycle Trader On-line.
My brother was surprised that the Aprilia was leaving so soon and I told him no one would buy the bike, Aprilias are enough out of the mainstream that it could take months for it to sell. Apparently not that far out of the mainstream though.
Mark called about the bike on Monday and came to see it on Tuesday. He wanted the Falco. It was exactly, specifically, down to the color, what he wanted. Darn. He'd ridden a friend's Falco a couple of years ago and couldn't get it out of his head. I think can relate. Mark said on the phone that he was certain he wanted my Falco but needed to sell his 2002 Aprilia Caponord first. Hmm... Aprilia Falco's sister, Aprilia Caponord. Interesting. Falco is the hot model, Caponord is the gourmet cook. Interesting but dumb idea, Doug. I wanted an Aprilia Futura, the Falco's more fully dressed and more sophisticated sister. Something or someone more suited to a slightly dumpy, 50ish engineer.
So Mark and his Caponord came to visit Tuesday night and confirm what he already knew. After swapping bike stories for a couple of hours we got around to really looking over the bikes. Mark was sold on the Falco but there was the issue of the Caponord. We'd mumbled on the phone about maybe just swapping bikes as they were the same approximate value and then I would not have to spend time looking for a Futura. So howz about you hop on the Falco and I'll hop on your Capo while you make sure you really like the Falco? If one of us crashes, the other guy gets to keep the bike he's on.
I have to say the Caponord, for a fairly big bike, felt at home to me immediately. Even at 500 lbs it's a ballerina compared to the 1600 Kawasaki that occupies the biggest chunk of the garage. While Mark grappled for a minute in the driveway with the Falco's clip-on bars and clunky-when-cold gear shift, I did lazy circles in the street with the Capo. Sweet. Out on the deserted city street I whacked open the throttle on the big Caponord and it's healthy 98 horses let me know that they were all there but not with the fieriness of the 118 horses of the much lighter Falco. Fast, but not too fast, tempting but not too tempting. And the handlebars were such that I knew I could live with them.
OK, you already know where this is going. Mark loved the Falco, I loved the Caponord, so we shook hands and called it a match. Mark came by today, we handled the paperwork details, and Aprilia Falco went home with her new suitor. Mark is in his late forties and in better shape than I am. Perhaps more sensible or better disciplined too. Good luck, my new friend!
The weather is supposed to be excellent this weekend. I'm going to grab the Nikon, my comfy new friend, Caponord, and go exploring.
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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence
An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison