Get Up, Gear Up and Show Up
by bj max
The wailing whistle of a train penetrates my brain. I try to roll over but something is holding me back and my hands are so heavy I can’t move my arms. I wriggle around and crane my neck in an effort to find that train. Then I feel the cold steel of rails against my back and realize that I’m lying across a railroad track. What the hell am I doing here? The whistle blows again, louder this time, as the train speeds towards me screaming and clanging with an urgency I don’t understand. It’s trying to tell me something, but what? Then slowly my eyelids begin rolling back and I find myself staring at…. Huh? Our ceiling fan? Wake up, you idiot. It’s five o’clock in the morning.
Being jerked back to consciousness by a train whistle, the latest wonder added to my iPhone alarm, may be a little too much. For me anyway. But Sugar Booger hasn’t moved. She’s a sleepy head and it would take a whole lot more than being run down by a freight train to wake her up. I give her a shove and tell her its time to get up. We’ve got a motorcycle ride today and we need to be rolling no later than 6:00 am.
There was a time in my life my feet hit the floor simultaneously with the first clang of the alarm. Boom! I was off and running. But as I get older I don’t jump outta’ bed like I used to. I sorta’ crawl out now and even crawling is gettin’ to be a pain, so sometimes I take the easy route and just fall out. Especially if it’s a cold morning like this particular morning. Its 38º, cold enough to send a southerner scampering to the woodpile for more wood. I yell at Sugar Booger teasing her that it’s colder outside than it is in the refrigerator. She moans, turns over and snuggles even deeper under the covers.
I measure a dozen tablespoons of coffee and six cups of water into the pot. That ought to get us goin’. While Mr. Coffee does his thing, I stumble to the bathroom and begin my morning ritual but not before giving Sugar Booger a whack on the fanny to get her started. She’s like a Model T. Finesse just won’t do the trick and you have to slap her around a little to get her going.
But I shouldn’t make fun of her. After riding for as many years as we have I begin to wonder why we get out of a perfectly good bed in a perfectly good house with a perfectly good central heating system on a cold, damp morning, pull on several layers of clothes that are at best uncomfortable, and ride a motorcycle two hundred miles to a restaurant we’ve been to a hundred times? What’s the point? We could stay in that warm bed till noon if we wanted or all day for that matter but we don’t. We drag ourselves out the door trying to convince each other that this is fun.
While Sugar Booger pulls herself together I step out into the cold garage and go through another ritual. Flight prepping the bike. I flip on the air compressor and the racket alone dissolves any remaining cobwebs from my sleep fogged brain. I uncoil the air hose and drag it over to the motorcycle then dig out the air pressure gauge. Both tires always seem to need at least a pound or two so now I have to get down on the cold concrete floor to check ‘em out. You know the drill. But as soon as I’m in position, I realize that I’ve already strapped on my pistol (it’s a Southern thing) and that big lump on my right side is uncomfortable so I have to get back up, unbuckle my belt, slip the rig off then drop back down on the floor and air up the tires. Now, after all this gettin’ up and down, I’m plumb tuckered out and I get to thinkin’ why do I torture myself like this. It would be so easy to just stay home where it’s warm and comfortable. Why do I feel like we have to go?
I drag myself back into the kitchen, pour me a cup of coffee and take my first sip of the potent brew and my metabolism is suddenly shocked back to normal. Sugar Booger joins me and together we happily get strung out on caffeine and prepare ourselves for the cold ride ahead.
Its true, as we get older it’s gets harder and harder to get out of bed for these early rides but in the long run, according to a couple of our octogenarian friends, it’s adding years to our lives. Well if it’s adding years to our lives why do I feel older already and we haven’t even fired the bike up yet? Hmm? Answer me that.
We finally arrive the point where there are no more excuses to delay our departure and plod out into the chilly morning. The wind has kicked up and strengthens our lingering doubts. My old bones creak as I throw my leg over the bike. They creak even more when I pull this nine hundred pound behemoth off its side stand. Then Sugar Booger boards, and settles comfortably into her seat. I turn on the ignition, push the starter and the bike comes to life. We sit there a minute checking everything out and after determining that all is well I downshift into low, let out the clutch and at the exact moment those wheels begin to turn something magical happens. All the aches, pains and aggravations simply fade away. Any doubts we may have harbored about riding today vanish instantly.
There was a ninety-five year old lady on TV last week that had made a list of her secrets to longevity. Laugh often and laugh loud was one and another was to always walk tall. She even borrowed from Publisher Wanchena’s philosophy: take chances and face a fear every day. Last but certainly not least was to get up, dress up and show up. I think this one particularly applies to us old motorcyclists with only a minor change to the wording. Get up, gear up and show up.
As we roll out of our neighborhood folks in bathrobes retrieving their morning paper look at us as if we have gone mad and in turn we look back at them knowing that however they spend this day they won’t be having as much fun as we are because nothing is as thrilling as riding a motorcycle. No matter how cold it is or wet or hot, to us, nothing lessens the adventure that we know lies ahead. What that adventure will be is anybody’s guess but one thing’s for certain, it won’t be boring.
So, all you old fogies out there get up, gear up and show up. You will be happier and might even add a year or two of riding to your life. Don’t know about you but a couple extra years at my age looks pretty good.
Y’all think about it.