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Flying Home on “One Wing”

The end of my summer vacation finally came to an end and I must go back to Harlingen on August 15th.  With a truck and a motorcycle to take back home, I need to plan how to get them to the Rio Grande Valley, where I live.  First, I’ll take the motorcycle, of course, and then I’ll go back to San Antonio on the bus and recover the truck.

After saying good-bye to my mother and sisters, I check the main points on the bike (oil, brakes, fluids, air), I put my helmet on, shield my hands in my gloves, and press the “start” button on Goldie.  My mother lets a weak sigh escape from her mouth because she knows that even though I know how to ride a motorcycle, it is nevertheless far more dangerous than to drive protected in a car. A few more blessings and kisses blown in the air, we say our good-byes one more time and off I go on my first long distance trip home, 250 miles south.

The motorcycle feels comfortable enough at first.  I go trough downtown and all the highway exchanges until I get to the open road, IH-37, which will take me home on a soft cloud under my seat.  I pass Loop 1604 where the real tour begins.  Goldie is holding up pretty good.  “She’s a keeper,” I muse to myself.

Thirty miles down the road, all is not good.  I start feeling a stiffness going up my leg and into my hip.  I try to dismiss it thinking it’s just tension maybe from excitement, or lack of practice riding long on a motorcycle.  On the road, I feel important riding on my Wing.  People in their cars look at me like I’m a space alien. Children wave from their back seats, and other motorcycles join and leave on exits, or pass me after a while. At one time we form a small group of six. Yet, the stiffness starts turning into a cramp that becomes unbearable.

About sixty miles from San Antonio, I am relieved to make out a rest area in the distance. I pull over with nothing else on my mind than to shake my legs and rid myself of the cramping in my hips. I enter the rest area  past the exit to Karnes City and, to my surprise, my feet don’t  leave the pegs when I order them to let go. The Goldwing starts  dipping as if  being cow-tipped, and all I can do is feel numb from the waist down.  Gathering all the strength I can, I slide my left foot off the peg and plant it on the ground pulling the handlebars up as hard as I can, not to let the bike fall to the ground.  I feel a pop on my shoulder, a shiver like running water down my spine, and an electric  jolt in my hips, but I am able to pick up the bike from an impending embarrassing situation in front of the rest of the travelers.  I stay put with both feet on the ground while all my aching bones and muscles recover from cramps and pulls before lowering the bike stand on the pavement. Feeling self-conscious, I get off the motorcycle to shake of the cramps and aches.  I sip some of the water from one of the three bottles in the trunk, trying to avoid a heatstroke in the 98-degree Texas heat.  After a while I get back on Goldie, wondering what the remainder of the road is going to feel like.

The rest of the trip, not surprisingly,  is a series of stop-and-goes taking me 5-1/2 hours to complete the ride when it usually takes me anything from 3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours. I make the trip back home more tired than a salmon going up river to lay eggs.

On this trip, I learned that even though the Wing may be one of the most comfortable bikes around, I was not ready to undertake such a long trip without practice. And more importantly, I realized, sadly, that I was not the young 20-something I once was, traveling days on end when I enjoyed the scenery, the wind on my face, and the curvy roads taking me nowhere.  But I will do it again, I will enjoy the scenery, the wind on my face and the curvy roads leading me to new places never traveled before.  I just need to limber up a little before the ride, and buy me a pair of cruise pegs to help me stretch my feet.  On to the next trip!

Sep292009

Published by at 8:45 AM under Uncategorized

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