Entry #25:  Strumpet in Red cafelogo

by Gary Charpentier

We met over the Internet, as so many do these days. I had been dreaming of someone like her for years now, and her current man seemed to have lost interest. She craved adventure and excitement, but had been kept on a short leash for far too long. I arranged it so we could meet and go away for the weekend, just the two of us, nobody the wiser.

From the moment I picked her up, I marveled at her beauty. Voluptuous curves cloaked in stunning red, she was even more gorgeous than her picture. Then I heard her voice… and the spell took hold.

We went everywhere together, trying to find a place where we could romp and play, away from prying eyes. Wherever we went, folks turned and stared. When she spoke, they stopped talking and just listened. Part of me wanted her all to myself, but my ego was buoyed by all the attention.

Of course people talk, and I knew it was only a matter of time before my wife found out. She would be outraged! Not terribly long ago I had promised her: no more. You see, this wasn’t the first time I had been lured by such a temptress. That first time almost killed me and the second time I ended up in jail. They say it’s three strikes and you’re out, but I don’t know how to live any other way. Damn the consequences, we would make this weekend last forever!cafe47

Physically, we were a perfect fit and she responded to my every move. We danced together on deserted country roads and I laughed out loud under a brilliant autumn sky. Saturday passed in a flash, and all too soon it was Sunday. Good people everywhere were going to church, while we were sinning our hearts out. Strange, but I felt neither guilt nor shame. This was what I was born to do, it was my destiny. I wracked my brain to find a way that we could be together always, but it was for naught. She needed a man with money, you see, and I am but a poor motojournalist. It could never work, we both knew it, and that lent a rather tragic tone to our last few hours together.

Monday dawned with exquisite cruelty. Another warm and sunny day, just right for frolicking with my vibrant partner. Unfortunately, I had to bring her back home. I dropped her off, said goodbye, and got on my bike. After one last, lingering look into her bright cat’s eyes, I rode away…and I never saw her again.

I kept tabs on her, of course. Obsession is a difficult thing to shake. Merely two weeks after our brief but torrid affair, I heard she had moved out to San Diego to be with some wealthy Californian. I hope he treats her well, and doesn’t keep her as a simple ornament, or a trophy. He’ll never appreciate her the way I did, I’m sure.

Okay, enough Harlequin romance crap already!

I have always had a “thing” for the Hinckley Daytona. The looks of this motorcycle are my absolute favorite of all the newer sportbikes. More rounded than the 748/996 Ducatis, every line flows organically into the next. The only discordant element was always the clunky stock exhaust, which this bike didn’t have…

The Triumph Racing Exhaust installed on this Daytona converts it from an interesting piece of dynamic sculpture into an intense, multimedia feast for the senses. The asynchronous resonance of the Hinckley triple, unleashed through this very musical instrument, delivers an exotic sound normally associated with vintage formula one cars. I originally thought of a Ferrari, but I am trying to keep the plot British. Racing Jaguar V-12 anyone?

While bimbling through town I kept her in first gear, revving slowly up and down the range. I suspect we caused a few minor cases of whiplash riding that way… you could pick the gearheads out of the crowd by the acute angle of their heads opposed to their bodies as they turned too-quickly to look. I’m sure they expected to see something on four wheels, costing six digits. Imagine their surprise at seeing just another ubiquitous red “crotch rocket”.

I must say I don’t like what they’ve done with the latest version of this bike. The 2002 model sports spare, angular bodywork with enormous headlamps ala Honda 929 that simply make the bike look too generic. The twin sided swingarm makes sense from a performance standpoint, but to be honest, I never encountered a situation on the roads where the single-sider was a detriment.

The power delivery is perfect for the street. Just the right balance between low-end torque and top-end rush. Where my old Ducati would charge hard out of corners, it always ran out of breath up around 8K rpm. The Daytona continues to build power up to it’s 10.5K redline, and since it belonged to a private party instead of a dealership, I didn’t go beyond that. Still, we spent much of the weekend in third and fourth gear, at speeds exceeding the ton, and I never felt I was pushing the bike’s limits at all.

The only thing that didn’t agree with me right away were the ergonomics. I’ve been away from hard-core sportbikes and roadracing for a couple years, and have gotten just a tad out-of-shape. Straining the zipper in my old racing leathers, I resemble something the Germans might call “Motoschnitzel”. The burgeoning bulge of my midsection meets the upper curve of the fuel tank at exactly the wrong point. This is not a bike for the sofa-spud, but by Sunday I was already starting to get comfortable.

The white-faced clocks are gorgeous. I’ve always preferred them to black. But their low position, buried between tank and fairing, required me to dip my head and look down from the road in order to glean any information from them. A small matter normally, it became a bit more urgent when trying to adjust my speed in response to an oncoming state trooper.

I liked the handling, although it was a bit heavier than I am used to. I leaned it far enough to use all the tread on both sides of the rear tire without ever having to drag a knee, which was a good thing because I wasn’t wearing sliders. The chassis felt well-planted and secure, and I was always aware of what the front end was doing. Steering was plenty quick enough for the street, without being twitchy. No need for a steering damper here. The Bridgestone BT56 tires never felt like they were losing their grip, though I know I spun the rear a bit on some corner exits. This is a supremely competent motorcycle, no muss, no fuss. How very British…

From a sport-touring point of view, this isn’t the ideal tool for the job. Triumph have the ST and RS for that slot. You can’t fit any kind of luggage readily to the rear, and the fuel tank cover is plastic, hence magnetic tank bags are left at home. A strap on tankbag and maybe some more relaxed Heli bars would do wonders in this arena.

I wanted to buy this bike. The asking price was astoundingly reasonable, but I simply didn’t have the cash. It really did go to some fellow out in San Diego, who bought it off the Internet, and I’m sure he is going to enjoy it immensely out there. I’ve got to face another long Minnesota winter now, fettling my poor old vintage Japanese bikes. But when it gets cold and dark, and it seems the season will never end, I will close my eyes and dream of my fling with the Strumpet in Red.

M.M.M.

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