i spent the morning stripping off whatever i could from the motorcycle: custom back rest, set of bike tools, and a little leather pouch strapped to the front suspension that i never used. no use leaving them on if they're just going to end up in the junk yard. what i really wanted to do was to take off the brand new tires (i spent a few hundred bucks on those) but was afraid the tow company wouldn't take the bike if it was just a skeleton of its former self. speaking of which, the tow company called me this morning (8:45) to let me know they'd be coming either today or tomorrow. i decided to not be a hostage to waiting and went about my business. that meant for the time being i could still ride the motorcycle, at least for short trips.
stripping the motorcycle gave me the opportunity to use my set of craftsman tools. i originally bought the 63-piece set for my father but i ended up using it most of the time. there's something gratifying about loosening a nut with a ratchet wrench, like popping bubble wrap.
with my motorcycle going away at any moment, i finally went down into the basement and dug out my bicycle. i haven't taken good care of it, pimping it out to roommates, and letting the chains and gears get rusty. even the gear shifts didn't work (the wires were rusted shut) and i noticed the rear brake pad was rubbing against the rim of the wheel. i tried oiling up the chains but the rust just soaked up the fluid. i'd ordered a bicycle repair manual just for this occasion, but i decided it was better if i got some professional attention instead. with the shifters not working, i could only ride in a single gear, but the bike shop on somerville avenue wasn't very far away.
it's been forever since i've been on a bicycle. these past few years i've been so focused on motorcycling for all my transportation needs, i've completely forgotten about bicycling. even though i motorcycle everywhere, i'd be the first to tell you that bicycles are a whole lot better. you can ride them pretty much anywhere, they're totally free (don't need gasoline), they get where you want to go faster than walking, and it's a form of exercise. in my motorcycle downtime, it'd be a perfect time for me to reconnect with the bicycle.
three mechanics were working at the park sales bike shop. the guy who helped me was some sort of comedian, saying things like, "bike chains aren't supposed to be the same color as your red-headed girlfriend." i told him i was almost embarrassed to bring in the bike because it'd been so neglected, but he brushed it off, probably a common occurrence for them, and a source of business too. i ended up going with a $30 tune-up, and while i was at it, decided to change out the brake pads as well (they'd hardened, $8 a pair, for 2 pairs) and replace the bicycle seat lock with one that can't be easily removed ($6). he said normally it'd take them a week, but assured me that it wouldn't really take that long and he'd call me once the bike was ready.
it felt weird walking home. not only was i going to lose my motorcycle, but i wouldn't have the use of my bicycle for a few days as well. walking was my only mode of transportation for the time being. what a slow and inefficient way of travel!
i still had my motorcycle at least (for how long, i don't know), and took advantage of it by first going to the garden (watered my plants, collected a single green yellowing tomato) then the cafe. my parents were demonstrating the new taiwanese ceramic knife they got. it looks like a plastic toy knife, but you'll ruin your day if you decide to run your finger across the blade. not only is it light, but also unbelievably sharp. the only drawback is the ceramic material can shatter if dropped and you can't use it to cut through bone. but as a slicing tool, it has no equal, which each of us trying to see who can cut the most tissue-thin piece of food.
i ran into ed on my way home. i've been meaning to talk to him all day, first about fixing my bicycle (he seems to know a thing or two about bicycle repair, but i ended up going to the bike shop when i couldn't find him around), then to tell him my story about how the insurance company claimed my motorcycle as a total loss. that seemed to have caught his attention. i've known for a while that he's been coveting my motorcycle, so i wasn't surprised when he asked if he could have it. i don't think the insurance company would just write me a check and not get the "total loss" bike in return, but i told ed i'd try and call the insurance and see if that was possible. since the bike was being scrapped, i figured it wouldn't hurt if i let ed give it a test ride. he went to his house and found an old helmet, and then circled the blocks a few times. he showed me how the chains were super loose and said i shouldn't be riding that bike anymore.
i had an appointment to meet dimitri at north station to see a 2008 yamaha vstar 250. he was a pleasant young italian man, soon to be going back home, hence the urgency to get rid of the bike. as soon as i saw it i was in love. it was a mint condition vehicle, stored in the garage, with around 3000 miles. even though it was only 250cc, it's v-twin engine made it seemed like it was much more powerful. had i been more selection back in 2000 when my father and i originally bought the honda rebel, i wouldn't probably gone with the vstar 250 (aka virago 250). dimitri didn't feel safe letting me ride it but was more than happy to take me around as a passenger. it was a bit awkward, with my hands rigidly on his shoulders, trying to keep myself from falling off every time he accelerated. he said we could go on the highway if i wanted, but i told him i'd seen enough and wanted to go back to the garage. he told me another seller had already come to see the bike earlier and was willing to pay $2300 for it. even at that price ($300 more than what he was originally asking) it was still an amazing bargain. i told him i'd need to discuss it first with my father, but there was a strong possibly we'd come back later tonight and buy the bike for $2300.
as soon as i left though, i had second thoughts. originally i wanted a new used 250 bike to replace my old 250 bike. but i'd been looking around at some other sales, and for a little bit more, i could get a much more powerful motorcycle. 250cc are almost like trainer bikes, and i figured it was time for me to graduate to something higher. the vstar 250 was an awesome bike but i didn't want to be swayed by emotional first impressions.
i got back to cambridge just in time to see my second motorcycle of the evening, a seller named lou in ball square. he was selling a 2004 honda rebel 250 for $2000 with about 3000 miles as well. i actually almost wanted to cancel, because if i was buying a 250 bike, it'd be the vstar i saw earlier. but i've been riding a honda rebel for the past 9 years, so it's my default ride if i can't find anything else better (which wasn't the case tonight). although for the most part it was a good bike, there were a few negatives. first, it wasn't in mint condition. there was a dent in the fuel tank and considerable rust on the muffler pipes and underside (probably due to outside storage, despite being covered up). i like the additional saddlebags, but it couldn't disguise the biggest flaw which was some trouble with the engine. the motorcycle can only idle hot with the choke turned on, making a lot of noise (at one point a neighbor came out and asked if we could keep it down), and any attempts to settle the bike results in the engine shutting off completely. it could be nothing, but it could also be something major. if i had to gauge a price, i wouldn't pay more than $1500 for the bike, and only if i knew the engine issue was easily fixable.
i went to the cafe to have a discussion with my father about my choices. he's under the impression that i should upgrade from a 250 and go higher. earlier we saw a garaged 2003 honda shadow spirit 750 with 6000 miles selling for $2900. besides the bike, it also comes stocked with accessories like back rest, saddlebags, and windshield, so was quite a bargain. for $500 more than the vstar asking price i could buy a motorcycle that was 3x as powerful, one that can actually go on the highways without feeling like it was falling apart! the only thing i didn't like was the color, which was a pearl white, but if nothing else, the bike really stands out. i contacted karen the seller and made an appointment to go see it tomorrow afternoon in metrowest (an hour's drive). i'm preparing a envelope full of cash for the real possibility that i'll end up buying the shadow spirit tomorrow.
i had packages waiting for me when i got home, all from amazon.com: toys for my friend frances who wants me to send them to her in norway, a book on raising chickens, the bicycle repair manual, a bicycle headlight, and a special clip for attachment my garmin etrex vista gps to the handelbars of a bicycle or motorcycle.
and i finally got a chance to eat something besides the 2 glazed donuts i had for lunch (made a braised beef sandwich for dinner).