The First Real Ride of the Year, or: Why Not Take Her to Baker?

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Yep, that’s us, your humble crew.

So we broke out the bikes on July 4th with no real destination in mind, only a desire to get away, and we ended up riding west to West Virginia.

The entire trip was low-key though it was hot and humid, not the dry, soul-scorching Arizona inferno of Yuma to Gila Bend, but still. You have to take the weather as it comes, so we Winston Churchilled it through. Once you’re moving, the air cools you and it’s really not so bad.

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You can’t see it from here, but the Yamaha saddle was a pain in the ass.

It was a good ride, of course; I figure we did a leisurely 262 miles in 8 hours, most of it off-interstate on old U.S. highways and state routes through rolling countryside. We stopped to fuel up a couple of times and drink cold Diet Dr Pepper (Linda) and Gatorade (me).

My interior monologue followed a script of crikey, I really haven’t done this in a while, have I? as unfamiliar aches and pains in the shoulders and arms began reporting in.

Opportunities for unwanted intimacy with the gas tank arose when I kept sliding forward on the saddle, no matter how I planted myself. It was something I hadn’t remembered from before and it got really annoying after a while.

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But the pay phone still works.

There was also the rediscovery of other, more pleasant things I’d forgotten, like the ability to smell the places you’re cruising through. On this day, there were some inescapable whiffs of hot tarmac but also the scent of pine trees, which reminded me of motorcycle trips we’d taken in the Sierra Nevada, years ago.

I reckon the apex of the ride was in Baker, West Virginia, at a pleasant, old-style, country-store type of BP gas station1 on State Route 259. Two other riders pull in as we’re filling up and the guy on the Suzuki asks about Terra Nova:

“How do you like that?”

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Linda, the mission navigator, in her “hey, don’t hit me” jacket.

And we start talking about the year and model and how he likes his Super Tenere2, and we rabbit on about Yamahas and BMW shaft-drive problems and Adventure Rider.com and as he’s pulling away I realize we’ve been talking for 3 or 4 minutes without either of us wearing a coronavirus mask and I feel like a right frelling3 idiot. And we were doing the mask thing and social distancing during the ride, too.

Masks deployed, we find ancient patched wood floors inside the store and two tables’ worth of Donald Trump campaign memorabilia. The nice lady at the cash register asks Linda about the Vespa and says, “That’s a real cute-looking ride.”

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Later: Things got complicated.

We get home without incident and I start fiddling with Terra Nova’s saddle the next day, making no progress as I futz with different leveling positions and search for smaller rubber contact pads and tools. I end up tearing apart half the workshop to find a T50 tamper-proof Torx wrench, which was absolutely ridiculous.

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A “tamper-proof” Torx wrench4 has a hole in the business end.

But it was really good, even with the aches and pains and out-of-kilter saddle and ludicrous tool hunt, to get out and ride again.


1 – With adjacent post office.
2 – Which is what Terra Nova is, a Yamaha Super Tenere, 2012 model, Generation 1. On the infinitesimal chance the Suzuki pilot is reading this, I haven’t done the ECU reflash but I did upgrade the clutch basket and the cam chain tensioner with Gen 2 replacements.
3 – That’s a Farscape reference. You’re welcome.
4 – Look, this is part of some needless design overkill on the part of Yamaha for its OEM sidecases. One could argue that they hinder the sidecases from being unbolted from the bike and stolen, but it’s nearly impossible to fit a Torx or standard hex key into the sidecase rail bolts when the sidecases are still on the bike. Besides, any self-respecting thief is going to carry “tamper-proof” wrenches anyway without trusting to chance.
Also: Belated apologies to Gabriel García Márquez for the category.

6 thoughts on “The First Real Ride of the Year, or: Why Not Take Her to Baker?”

  1. A “self-respecting thief” with the foresight to carry a case of tamper-proof Torx wrenches is going to be able to swing his/her own set of sidecases or whatever bell or whistle.
    On the other hand, the Torx fasteners will deter the casual, target-of-opportunity thief, of whom there are many, many more.
    As my dad frequently said: Locks only keep an honest man out.

    1. I agree about Torx fasteners as an obstacle for the everyday dishonest man, but the tamper-proof ones are more of hindrance for the owner, I think. It’s another set of tools you have to have on hand. I dunno, I’ll concede maybe the security factor is worth it, but the onboard tool kit seems to weigh a ton these days.

  2. I’m just amazed you found a working payphone. I wonder if the phone book attached to it was still intact.

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