Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chaos Theories

By now, everyone in the western world with a mouse and a vague interest has seen BMW's elegant commercial for the S1000RR. The crystal and flowers, dozens of place settings and candelabra--all remain coolly upright while the small matter of the thing they were standing on is removed from under them. (Suddenly, to be sure: 193 hp.)

My table, on the other hand, is haphazardly loaded right now, and the piled-up china needs no encouragement to come crashing and clattering to the floor: walk by, gently, or perhaps even just give it a hard look.

No, I am no longer depressed. I am too breathless for that. In my unconscious attempts to fend off the dark demon, I have apparently decided to back myself into impossible corners while carrying tippy loads: a schedule that looks like it belongs to six people belongs only to me. The deadline that looked doable when I inked it--and perhaps was, way back then--now has its jaws open wide, and I can see the yellowing on the great shiny fangs. That should be enough. But I've also tossed in a 24-hour rally (again, looked doable when with a click I sent my ninety-five dollars and my name; now, though, I think about the reality of riding hard, and thinking, for 24 hours, and I know I am utterly out of my league). Oh, and planning a month on the road . . . with my child.

On what bike? That is the first, and necessary, matter, and it too is falling away out of my grasp. Last week, on the way to Virginia for spring break with children, I stopped to look at an R1150R that was for sale. Riding it: in a word, wonderful. After the weighty issues of the K75, it felt resolved. It does not take me long to dream my way into an imaginable reality, and by the time I'd hit Williamsburg, that bike was mine. I was already making space (space? where did that come from?) in the schedule to return to pick it up. And then, in a phone call yesterday that I thought would include making an offer, I learned the owner did not intend to sell it after all.

I sit, chin in hands, staring at the table. I've moved some of the piles around, but they are still lopsided towers, trembling in their silent warning pre-fall. I wonder what exactly it is in me that makes me build such things, only to look at them--my life--in such bemused dismay. There must be a reason I get myself into such jams. Reasons, but no reason. Perhaps for the hilarity the recollection will bring, far in the future. Not now, though. Right now, I'd like another motorcycle, please. I have a feeling that would solve everything. I'll use it to pull the whole table down.


Steve said...

I'll first apologize for siding with the turncoat seller, but I reacted with a knowing nod as I read that they'd changed their mind. I've had seller's remorse, although always too late.

I'll confess that I'm addicted to big bikes, so I can empathize if you feel the K75 isn't up to the task (2up, with enough stuff for a month's travel). Although on one trip through a California desert I crossed paths with a Yamaha RD 250, completely loaded down, could have been on a cross-country trip. And, of course, Pirsig's journey is not remembered for the machine used, but I believe that happened to be a 305 Honda, and it handled the trip quite well.

So maybe there are some issues to be resolved with the K bike, but in the end you can accomplish what you are planning with it if you need to. :-)

Did that stabilize the stacks a little? :-)

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Thank you for figuring that all out for me!

Actually, I am lately taking an uncustomarily relaxed attitude--sorta--toward the things that happen: I now tell myself they happen for a reason. If I was "meant" (by whom??) to have that bike, why, I would have it. If another comes along and I do get that one . . . well, it was meant to be.

I'm certainly OK with small bikes; I took a major trip on a small 650 and had the time of my life. In fact, the problem is that the K75 sometimes feels too big: at a stop, I have to be super careful and super mindful, or it will decide to take a sudden nap in the sand. With a passenger to hold up as well, my strength (not being what it should be anyway) would be sorely tested. I don't want my passenger's leg and foot to be sorely tested too.

Kevin G. said...

“Reasons, but no reason”, is explanation enough......the allure of risk. The impetus behind both, passing disappointments and some enduring personal triumphs.

Everyone could use another motorcycle but a comfortable writing chair might be, on board a Suzuki V-Strom 650. It’s received rave reviews as a versatile touring bike and is reportedly a favourite among motorcycle journalists as well.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

I note the V-Strom (aka Wee-Strom) is well represented in the serious long-distance endurance group. Not that I'm among them . . .

Isn't it always the case that the bike you have is just perfect, *except* for one thing? The Moto Guzzi is perfect, except it's not reliable; the K75 is perfect, except it's top heavy esp. with a passenger; lots of Jap bikes are perfect, except they're chain drive; etc. etc.

Suddenly, I realize: Gosh, once again, motorcycles = life metaphor. *Nothing is ever perfect. Accept, and move beyond.*

Well, nothing is perfect about bikes except the metaphors they provide.

Anonymous said...

Melissa –

Terrible, but it occurred to me that I hadn’t read your pages in awhile (I do enjoy them – dogs and motorcycle, eh…). Big, bigger, biggest?? Somewhere between big and bigger for me, but I outweigh you by a good bit. I started riding on a 65cc Aermacchi (not mine), then a CL77 (not mine), then bought my first bike – a 500 Triumph Daytona. I moved up through many 650 Bonnevilles, a 750 Norton……tried another 650 Bonnie, but it seemed too small, an R100RS, now, for years, an ’82 GS1100E. By modern standards, it’s heavy, but it handles fairly well, it’s very stable, has plenty of juice and it has never in 50,000 miles been anything by rock-solid reliable.

I’ll buy something modern in the next few years, but it has to be 1000+. I just don’t feel right on anything smaller. I ride my 1100 like a dirt bike and it’s reasonably nimble, but I don’t like the twitchiness of smaller bikes……………….though I’ve never found a K75 the least bit twitchy.

Bert (Madison WI)

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

I love the K75 more & more. Today--a beautiful day, though a short ride--it felt as smooth as cream cheese. I love the days when everything clicks, eh?

This bike is rock solid, confidence-inspiring. Under way, that is. Coming to a stop--not so much, for me anyway. But I know that's my problem, not the bike's.

What you say about the Progress of Motorcycles is so true. In my "prior life," I remember thinking, Holy s**t, who needs a 1000cc bike? Certainly not me!

Seemed as big as a skyscraper, then. Now, here I am wishing for an 1150, which feels quite manageable. (Located another used one, and maybe . . . )

Peter said...

Skipping to the point, Triumph 675 Street Triple. It's as perfect as a metaphor. It will give you superpowers. I might know of one in NYC for sale, low mileage, good price, never titled.