I’ve had a love/hate relationship with motorcycles for a while now…
In that I love them, and they hate me.
I recently sold my bike — a saucy little 2013 Triumph Street Triple — to a couple of military kids who promptly cracked the oil pan into the tailgate while loading it up. I didn’t hold it against them. For very long.
A few crude voodoo dolls and blood sacrifices to the Loa later, and I was over it: They’ll have fun with her, which is more than I could’ve done. See, I have some kind of strange damage in my back, specifically the tailbone area. It’s not coccydynia, which is a disorder in the actual tailbone, but it’s not sciatica, a disorder in the sciatic nerve, either. What I have is apparently not only a new disorder, but one that affects a terrifying new type of spine — one solely evolved by me and me alone — that medical science cannot classify, beyond “worrying.”
I’ve been through every doctor and specialist, and had every test they could think of, plus a few more I’m pretty sure they just made up on the spot (“This is the uh…de-back…ulator. The de-backulator! Very expensive.”) with no real answer. Finally they gave up actually helping and just tried to treat my depression about their inability to help: “Sorry we can’t fix you, but we CAN fix your ability to CARE.”
And then, to everybody’s surprise, the duoloxetine helped. Not with the depression, but with the actual pain: Apparently it’s also used to treat nerve pain — something nobody mentioned to me, ever, at any point, until after it started working. Science, everybody!
But whatever: The good news was that I could exist comfortably again in most situations. I have to be careful how I sit, and for how long, but the pain has been downgraded from “life-ruining agony” to “butt annoyance.” Lord knows I can deal with some butt annoyance. But this still meant I couldn’t do motorcycle rides for any length of time. About an hour on my bike was all I could take before the pain went from distracting to crippling. That, again, should’ve been fine: Motorcycling for an hour is like six hours of meditation.
But then Portland’s population exploded, and with it came more traffic, and more drivers (a term I use generously). Portland’s roads are insane right now, and keep in mind I first learned to ride a motorcycle in the heart of Los Angeles. I was out there, barely balancing, piloting an entirely new type of vehicle in a massive metropolis famous for two things: People too rich and famous for consequences, and vehicular homicide. And I still powered through. But Portland today scares me.
Red lights mean literally nothing out here; I see a nasty accident every other time I leave the house. I can take care of myself, and I accept the risks inherent to motorcycling, but this left me with a dilemma: With the increased traffic, I could no longer get out of the city to a decent riding spot before the pain kicked in. A forty five minute trip out to the country meant I had to turn around the very second the road got nice, and cram right back into the murderous traffic to head home. I thought I could deal with it — that I could have fun riding around the city itself for short bursts, but there’s just too much carnage out there. Venturing out on a motorcycle is like playing Twisted Metal as Axel, only you don’t get the Supernova Shockwave. (Note to motorcycle manufacturers: Maybe install a Supernova Shockwave generator?)
So I sold my bike and bought myself a bitchin’ Mustang as a consolation prize. Try not to pity me too hard.
But damned if I don’t still lust after motorcycles. Ah, well… some loves are just not meant to be.
And then I found out something amazing… you can rent them!
Holy shit, did you know you could rent motorcycles? You probably did! Because you’re not an oblivious idiot like me! I sure as hell didn’t think of that.
Now, this still leaves me with the same nerve problem, but there’s a shred of hope: I’ve only ridden sport-standards — basically sport bikes where the riding position is slightly more upright — since the pain started. Maybe different ergonomics would work for me? Maybe a better suspension? Probably not!
The rental places really only have big, fuck-off cruisers — because most people that rent motorcycles are dads going through a mid-life crisis so severe they can’t even commit to a vehicle — but honestly, if any bike is going to work for me, it’s probably going to be a lumbering, spread-eagle, beef supreme monstrosity. Can you tell I’m not a huge fan of most cruisers? Still, some motorcycle is better than no motorcycle. And thus begins my butt’s adventure through motorcycle town. It starts this weekend: I’ve rented an Indian Scout for a trip to the beach on Sunday.
Now, I know I said I don’t like most cruisers, but the Scout is not most cruisers. I’ve had a crush on that bike from the first time I saw it, and it was only exacerbated by the gushing reviews. It’s a gorgeous classic cruiser that actually rides well. That’s a rarity, like a big guy with skulls tattooed on his face who moonlights as the most delicate of ballet dancers. Sadly though, the Scout probably won’t work for me: It’s a standard-cruiser, with a fairly forward seating position and suspension pretty close to the Striple. But I figure that I’ll start with the bikes that I love, but are most likely to cripple me, then work my way out to the bikes I don’t adore, but that also won’t obliterate my spine. Who knows? Maybe I’ll touch ass to a Harley and it’ll be love at first buttstroke.
Anyway, I figured I’d do write-ups about the different bikes I try. Sort of a crippled man’s guide to cruisers (when you don’t like cruisers).
I’ll let you know if The Scout lives up to the hype next week, provided I can still walk after getting off of it.