I'm late, the lame result of having stayed up too late last night watching that movie. The sun is already high in the sky by the time I head out to the shed. Opening the door, I start towards the R1200GS, as I usually do when heading out for a ride of long miles or indeterminate direction. Its amenities and comfort and jack-of-all-trades expertise is a wonderful thing.
But then my eyes fall on my old K1200RS, sitting there in the shadows in the back corner of the shed. A tinge of guilt washes over me. How long has it been? A couple months, on that little ride up past Antietam? And before that...I can't remember.
I debate mentally for a moment. I'd honestly rather take the GS, a bike whose lazy comfort I've grown quite fond of in recent years. But that feeling of guilt just won't go away.
I wonder if the battery even has enough juice.
It takes a few moments to push the three other motorcycles and the two bicycles out of the way. With the narrow path thus created, I slowly wheel the KRS out of the shed into the sunlight. My guilt gets a boost when I see the dust on the tank and the cobwebs between the windscreen and mirror. But it starts instantly and out of that surprise I suddenly know I've made the right choice. Fifteen minutes later I've got the tires aired up and the bike wiped down, looking somewhat presentable. Tossing my small duffel in one of the saddlebags, I shrug into the Aerostich, pull on my Arai, and finally head down the driveway.
After spending so much time in recent months either bent to the severe crouch of my GSX-R1000, or else sitting upright on the GS, the midway position of the KRS seems oddly strange. But looking down at the cockpit and the bars and the windscreen-a view I once knew well-prompts a sudden flood of memories, reminders that quickly gain strength as I turn out onto the road. They should. I certainly put enough miles on this motorcycle back in the day.
Past the duck pond, up the hill and around the bend, the hard pull of the turbine-like engine reminds me of one of the reasons I always loved this bike. On-throttle, it flows through the corner with an uncanny grace. Under my helmet, I break into a smile.
It's funny. Bikes are so individual-with sounds and smells and looks that are unique. As my speed builds those sensory inputs draw up around me, breaking through the haze of forgetfulness brought on by bikes of newer vintage and reminding me of how it used to be. Like meeting up with an old girlfriend.
Slowing at the stop sign, I pause, debating for a moment, then turn left.
It's three miles to town, and then two minutes to get past the two traffic signals. Wending down past the high school, the landscape quickly turns rural again. Past the left-hander where I always worry about deer, and then the pace picks up. Within moments I'm already having to back out of the throttle, rediscovering the deceptive smoothness of the bike-70 in a 45 doesn't work just yet. "Patience," I tell myself. I hug the white line near the shoulder through the long sweeping right-hander-the one where cars are always drifting across the centerline. And then a few quick miles and suddenly there's Panorama appearing on the left, a small, obscure ribbon of black emerging out of the woods. One of the secrets I discovered many years ago. Now I can relax a bit.
Coming from the much lighter Gixxer or the taller, more spacious GS, the KRS seems dense and heavy. As if it was forged from a solid piece of billet. But as I head into the first set of downhill esses it flows into them with an effortlessness that reminds me of how well it comports itself at speed. Kind of like that date with a beautiful but slightly heavy girl who shocks you with what she knows when she stays over.