By November 3, 2005

The Night Rider … rides again?

I mentioned earlier that riding on Cylon at night around here is a touch scary. His one headlight doesn’t really illuminate all that much, and I just read on an FZ6 forum that my bike was rated the worst for illumination among its contemporaries. Ouch! Which all adds up to a particularly nerve-wracking trip back from Charlottesville last night. Thanks to my maiden voyage with Bond running escort, I take an old highway back and forth from Richmond to Charlottesville. Single lanes each way, some homes and a few gas stations, but basically 80 miles of straight line driving until you hit the freeway in Richmond.

The ride down was glorious. Just cool enough to keep me from being hot under the sun; the leaves on the trees lining the highway were in shades of red, orange, yellow, and green, and an occasional leaf would blow across my path in a loop-de-loop. It was totally Hallmark.

It took the motorcycle shop five hours to just get to my bike, which meant that I didn’t hit the road for Richmond until 5PM. Which meant riding on the previously beautiful country road at night. With my glaucoma-afflicted one-eyed robotic companion leading the way at 65MPH. For about 70 miles I wondered what it would be like to have to drive straight through a deer, or over a skunk. Oncoming traffic at that range can blind you something fierce, particularly if you haven’t come across a car in awhile and your night vision is engaged. Riding close to a 10 wheeler going the opposite way during the day is annoying — the bike buffets a touch — but doing the same at night can be downright disconcerting. Add all that to passing folks doing 45 on the 55MPH rated road (I cheated on my break-in period and hit 95MPH on a particularly touchy pass) and you have a somewhat unpleasant ride.

I managed to avoid passing through the entrails of Bambi or pulling an Evel Knievel on a polecat, and made my way to the three lane each way divided highway that signals the last 18 miles of my trip.

Man, I wished it was 100 miles long.

It was no better illuminated than the country road, except for all the cars on the road with their grownup lights on. Hot damn that was fun, cruising among, around, in and out of other cars, all of us doing 75 – 85 miles an hour. I should have been more afraid — more cars generally mean more danger — but I welcomed their company. I know that anything can happen, but I figured if anyone on the highway was going to smash a deer, it was going to be Cruella in her white Ford Expedition.

By the time I met Lady Jaye for a bacon burger and cheese fries at Outback I was thrilled to be on my bike again. I actually laughed out loud at one point, as I sped down the highway, tucked close to the gas tank. This will sound dorky as hell, but every time something exciting happens I hear Porkins from Star Wars in the background: “get set up for your attack run!”

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