A bike by any other name…

Dirty 1Last fall, I saw that Thunder Press magazine was taking picture submissions for their March 2017 cover featuring personalized motorcycle license plates. I felt compelled to email in a shot of one of my old vanity tags, so I did…and basically forgot about it.

Imagine my surprise this month after the issue was released, when I found my D1RTY1 had been included!

Now I can’t help but feel like it’s time to explain how my first Harley got its names.

It started the day I first saw this particular 1200 Custom Sportster on a trip to one of the area Harley dealerships. I was walking along a row of bikes and although I know it sounds unbelievable, it was as if this Sporty came to life for second and picked me. Out of the corner of my eye I caught it performing the same type of maneuver a dog would make against another when vying for attention; a playful nudge to jostle into position and say, “Look at me.”

It worked.

A small test ride was all it took to prove to me that I liked the way this bike felt and sounded as much as the way it looked. The vibe that this machine’s personality was that of a big red Doberman, always ready to go out and play, prompted me to name it “Dobie”.

Play we did: on lots of back roads in Central Virginia, up to Atlantic City, down to New Orleans, through beaches, camp-outs, and even a few spills. Some of these adventures I’m sure I’ll reminisce on in detail at some point.  But the point I’m now trying to get to, lollygagging along here just as I do on the bike, is how its nickname originated.

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Oops…mud!  Again.

I’m always ready to admit, when given a limited amount of time and the choice, I’d wind up opting to ride this motorcycle over washing it.

The friends I rode with noticed and continually pointed out to me that my bike was usually the dirty one in the group. After this teasing revelation had been passed along to me the umpteenth time, I turned to the DMV with a sort of visual reply in mind.

D1RTY1 was available to order on a personalized plate. With Dobie’s new name tag on display, I had great fun rolling into a parking lot to meet up for a ride. When questioned if I would wash my bike anytime soon I could say, “No! I’d have to go through the hassle of changing my license plate.”

Or if I heard, “Hey, did you know your bike is dirty?”, a shrug and gesture toward the back of the motorcycle would bring a laugh when the tag was spotted.

For a bike by any other name can provoke a smile…and that is sweet.

Shiny things!

I missed Christmas lights more and more as January passed by and everyone’s holiday decorations were gradually taken down and stored away. But at the end of the month some other fun, shiny things could be found at the Howard County Fairgrounds Motorcycle Swap Meet.

Held a few times each year, the winter version seems to be a good one to make.img_20170129_131326541 If you’re looking for parts, you might find that what you need has been shed from someone else’s ride over the past few months of wrenching, and it’s turned up here. Plus since it’s usually freezing, you’re likely to have ridden in a vehicle big enough to carry all your finds home without having to figure out how to strap tons of bulk on your bike.

A lot of riders apparently had these notions and more in mind, and this event on their calendar. When we first arrived the door had been open for an hour, but there was still line of about a hundred people waiting to get into the building.

Choosing to wait someplace warm instead of outside, we wound up in one of the neighboring towns at a sports bar where we discovered a Bloody Mary that rivals most others and a tasty lunch. When we got back to the fairgrounds a couple hours later, we found a much lighter crowd… and did I mention shiny things?

Vendors had tables full of painted, polished, and chromed parts to go through- not to mention plenty of jewelry where I could pick out a birthday gift for myself. Another reason I admit I like the timing of this Meet!

Be sure to season well…

I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers after 20 minutes. Knowing it was bitterly cold out, I’d piled on so many layers it seemed I could survive a Mount Everest climb. Surely I would be comfortable while walking my dog for about animg_20170109_170643295 hour or more, yes?

No. My half-numb hands prompted me to head back to the warmth of the house in a fraction of that time.

Just a couple days later, a surprising 65 degree January afternoon gave me the first opportunity to get out on a motorcycle this year. I only had time to take a small ride, but it left a huge smile on my face and no pained fingers. I wasn’t even wearing gloves!

Two days after that, the reminder that we are nowhere near spring came from the sky in the form of sleet.

Welcome to the Mid-Atlantic. Where you can experience more than one season within a week or even a day if you stay long enough. It’s been proven to me after living in three of the states included in this region.

I have to say although there are sporadic bouts of weird weather, I do enjoy living in an area exposed to all four seasons. Winter months sometimes feel lengthy and bring frustration if they’re severe enough to keep me from riding or getting out. Still, with Ma Nature’s decorating skills the change in scenery every few months keep the local sights fresh.

Plus, I’m learning the necessity of downtime. How does anyone who lives where you can always go outside to play in the sun ever get anything else done? There are trips to plan, cleaning, maintenance, performance or customization work to be performed, even shopping to catch up on before the season arrives when you’ll actually need those supplies you’re buying.

For example, I discovered I have to pick up a new lifejacket for the dog of all things.4 I noticed last year that hers was getting tight and after taking some measurements the other night, it appears she’ll need a size larger. While she loves to swim, she’s got fur instead of fins and the buoyancy of a rock. The front floats keep her head up above water, and the handles on the back make it easy to help her into the kayak or boat if she’s not in a position to get there on her own. Safe fun for her and peace of mind for me that’s priceless when it’s time for a ride down the river.

So it’s back to my lists and inventory and plotting and…oh yeah, a confession. The other day when I rode without gloves? It wasn’t just because it was warm enough to go without, I couldn’t find my favorite pair. It had been a while since I’d used them and I forgot where I put them last!

Maybe a little get-it-done-before-it’s-spring cleaning is in order too?

It’s beginning to look a lot like…I forgot!

I remember it was a cold December day, but somewhat sunny and the roads were clear. Overall, that meant a good chance for me to get out for a ride and to take care of some errands.

I remember bouncing into the store, jacket fringe flapping, feeling elated from getting a little time in the wind and looking forward to Christmas.

I remember checking items off my shopping list, and noticing a sale on wrapping paper. Although I usually stick with gift bags, I decided I should probably pick some of it up in case I needed it.

I remember as I paid the cashier I glanced out the window and muttered, “Oh. CRAP!”

I forgot I was on the bike. In that short amount of time, even with all the extra layers and leather I was wearing, it’d slipped my mind that I had limited cargo space.15493302_10207375284649914_4594185885733418080_o

“What’s the matter?” the clerk asked.

I told her nothing was wrong as I eyed the long pack of gift wrap and looked back out at the bike, already mentally digging through the saddle bags searching for the bungee cords I hoped were still there.

I remember how lucky I felt that I’d impulsively picked up some paper, and not the Christmas tree!