Easy Rider and Chopperguy

Thoughts on Easy Rider, biker cinema, and riding and working on a vintage chopper.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Summertime Rules

The old chop and I have had a great summer. Hopping on her every day for the past three months has been great. Her first day out I had that one problem where I lost the brand new kicker pedal. She seems to like the rat solution where I tapped the kicker swing and screwed in a shoulder bolt. Barring the regular maintenance of periodically tightening everything up, she has run like a champ.

Then last night as I got off of swing shift she had her first break-down of the season. I started her up (two kicks) and the headlight didn't turn on. So I did what any backyard mechanic would do and thumped it. The light came on. Then it went out again. Loose wire? All the externals seemed fine so I pulled her up under one of the parking lot lamps. Taking apart the headlight assembly, all the connections seemed fine. I gave them an extra push just to be sure. I started her back up (one kick) and the lamp came on. Then it went out. So I thumped it. It came on again. Then it went back off. Well screw this! Last day of work before the Labor Day holiday, I am going home.

So it came to be that I was driving down McLaughlin at 40 mph, hunched over my gas tank, periodically thumping my headlight as I saw the sheriff drive by. Thank goodness for drunks. The law has little interest in a guy who can handle his chopper on a pot holed road while simultaneously spanking his headlight. I would have saluted him, but my free hand was on the throttle.

Now it is Saturday and a trip to the auto parts store was inevitable. The burger joint next to the shop was having a drive-in car show. I had to stop and look. The usual cars built by people who dropped a lot of cash to have professionals do it right. One old Ford roadster done up in primer black. It looked light and fast. That's old school. There was also an old Cuda that looked pretty sweet.

Returning from my expedition with a new headlight and a set of plugs for the Bug in my ratty old backpack, I found myself at a stop light next to a Porsche. The middle aged man looked over at me and hit the gas a couple of times. Shoot, I usually just cruise on the chopper. A bike like mine has nothing to prove. Besides, the '73 is my power machine. But this was a middle aged guy in some off the show room floor piece of junk. I just couldn't let it slide. The light changed and we took off side by side. Fair enough. The Sportsters need to get the rpm's up before they reach the power zone. Still side by side, he shifts into second as I feel the vibrations start to kick in. Almost there... hold it... BOOM! The chopper, still in first gear, hits the sweet spot and lunges forward, nearly lifting the front wheel off the ground. Quite an accomplishment for such a stretched and lowered bike. By the time I hit second gear the Porsche is way back in my mirror. Since I am already at speed, I shift all the way up to fourth and cruise.

Good girl.

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