Sunday, January 17, 2010

First Ride of '10....

How the heck do you write or say 2010 in short form? I guess it will just be "ten" but it seems wierd. Anyway, it was around 50 degrees yesterday here in Livingston, and Alex called me up from Bozeman and said he was heading over on the Guzzi. I ran out to the garage and scrambled to get the charger on the SV's battery so it would start by the time he got here. Luckily about 3 weeks ago I charged it up and started it, so it didn't take long. While I was out in the garage I also replaced Steph's headlight bulb in her car. Then I rolled the XR600 out and proceeded to take what seemed like 15 minutes of kicking before it caught. I just wanted to start it and run it around the block to make sure it was still alive after months of dormancy. Sitting on the XR in my crocs, I was just about to take off when the familiar notes of the Italian twin came down the alley with Alex close behind. I took off and did a lap of my block, tried to do a wheelie, failed, and pulled back into the driveway. I am sure the neighbors were really happy that I was braaping the throttle with glee the whole way. The XR is loud with the FMF pipe that is on there...

Grinning with joy at my short ride, I ran inside to get dressed for our real ride. I put on old snowboard pants over my jeans, my moto boots, my big moto jacket and a windproof neck thing. We saddled up and headed South for East River Road.

It was windy as hell as is frequently the case here in Livingston, and we were riding straight into it. We saw some Harley guys with some MC club vests on at the gas station, sans helmets of course, and I wondered how far they were planning on going in this cold air with no gear on. I found out one minute later when I saw them turning around in the parking lot of the Pop Stand restaurant about 2 miles south of town. So much for being hardcore! I laughed in my helmet as we whizzed by.

The Paradise Valley is a place of incredible beauty which surrounded us as we arced along the road. The Yellowstone River runs through the middle of the valley and all sides are dominated by the Northern Rockies towering above.

It was strange to be on the SV again. There was a lot of gravel on the road in spots that made me very watchful as we cruised along. Our speed was held in check as well due to months of not riding, and the poor surface conditions. I was heading for the Old Saloon in Emigrant which is about 22 miles South of Livingston. Montana has all these great old places to check out, and I wanted to show Alex this one.

It was a cold ride, but really only my hands suffered. It had been sunny when we left the house and it was cloudy in the Valley, which makes a big difference when you live at elevation. Sun often makes the difference between tolerable and not tolerable at marginal temperatures.

The Old Sally as it is locally known has been a bar for over 100 years and was recently featured in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episode on Livingston. It is old and dark inside, filled with numerous ancient dusty antlered animal mounts, a wood stove, a pool table, and lots of old saddles hanging from the ceiling. It is one of the Old Greats of the Montana bar world, and I place it alongside such grand places as the Pony Bar in Pony, and the Lumberjack outside Missoula.

We pulled up, de geared, and went inside. The bar was full, at 3pm, with what was obviously the regular crowd. I long ago learned that in places like this, just get a Bud, which is just what I did. The regulars are ususally upset enough that dressed in our spaceman gear we are interrupting their good time and the Budweiser serves as a statement that we are not interested in upsetting the status quo, or do anything Wierd while we are there. Of course I really dislike Bud, but usually they taste tolerable and appropriate in a place like this. We sat and sipped and talked about bikes and riding and how good it was to be out in the middle of January even if for a short ride. The woodstove was cranking, and our hands thawed out by the time we finished the beers, and it was time to head back.

As we re-geared ourselves and started the bikes, two patrons came out and shuffled over to us, and asked a few questions about the bikes, including "Which one is faster?" and "Do you have Harleys too?" I like that about motorcycling. No matter what you will always get people who talk to you wherever you go which would never be the case if you were in a car doing the same thing. It is somehow a bridge for people to connect during travelling. Bikes raise peoples curiousity enough for them to reach out even just a little bit beyond the normal public insularity of our modern society.

The ride home was better than the ride down, as the wind was at our backs, the sun lighting up patches of countryside as it peeked thought the cloudcover, and I wasn't quite as nervous for lack of riding lately.

Back at the house I parked the bike in the garage, went inside and made a nice mug of hot chocolate to rewarm myself. It was an eminently successful Winter Ride!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

First Post 2010

Two weeks ago it was a warm 40 degrees out and rolled my XR600 out of the garage into the sun, just to look at it. It was a nice feeling and I thought "Hey! That's my DIRTBIKE! Sweet!"

Just the other day I remembered finally to get some Sta-bil to put in my bikes which is only about three months late! I never seem to be able to do it before New Years anyway, perhaps because I always believe there will be some warm day which I will be able to ride before the winter "really sets in."

On the television last night after a dinner of homemade pizza I found the season opener of the AMA Supercross series. It made me start thinking about motorcycles again after the last few months which I haven't thought about them much at all. I started having visions of last spring, before the snow had melted, trolling ADVrider incessantly for any and all items of interest, unable to think of much else besides how soon the mud on the dirt roads around here would be dry enough to ride on after the spring rains.

We do have a few more months before that can happen, and hopefully we will get some more frequent snow for the balance of the winter so I can put my Bridger Bowl season pass to more use.