Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

A Biker's Autumn

Here we are, the first of November already.  Another year drawing to a close.  The leaves are changing and falling, the air is crisp and cold with the hint of woodsmoke.  Autumn is full of projects, both around the house and in the garage with the bikes -- getting ready for a winter of sporadic riding.   The last couple of weekends have been spent doing a combination of tinkering on the bikes and getting out and riding a few miles when the sun is shining before the endless winter rains appear. 

I'm happy to say the project to turn the Rocker into a "semi-custom" chopper is virtually done, thanks to the crew at Downtown Harley-Davidson in Renton who installed a Heartland Chopper kit on her. (More details/pics at: )  We cut the fender back, relocated the license plate to the side and lowered it a bit.  She's a damn pretty bike now, one that rides like a rigid hard-tail and requires some careful steering around bumps and potholes for fear of jarring out my dental work.  But if the goal was to illicit stares from folks, it was accomplished.  She turns heads everywhere we go, and I had one guy jaywalk across traffic while I was stopped at an intersection so he could walk around it and say "Day-amn that's a hot bike..." I have to agree.
Meanwhile I did some work myself on her that had I filmed it would have been a comedy hit on You-Tube.  I had ordered some rear axle covers for the bike, but they didn't make it in when the bike was on the rack at DHD.  I figured I'd be able to install them myself, so I was rather shocked when I picked them up and couldn't figure out what the hell the things were, let alone how to install them.  Rich Starkweather from DHD and I opened up the package and took out the instructions which started out with "Drill out the axle..."  "What the hell?!?" I exclaimed as Rich was doubled over laughing.  Drill out something for an axle cover?  Further reading indicated it was just a plastic plug, and I figured I'd give it a shot. The instructions said to drill out the plug, then insert a spring that runs through the axle and holds the two caps in place.  So much for a simple project.  It also said to pull the spring through with the "hook provided".  There was no hook.  Like going to Ikea and not having the required Alan wrench included with the particle board bookcase.  So I fashioned one out of a coat hanger, drilled out the plastic plug, and got the spring the cover on one side attached.  Going around to the other side of the bike I pulled on the coat hanger, got the spring slightly out, grabbed it with my hand and it slipped out and shot the cap and spring all the way to the other side of the garage.

After several attempts at this, each time managing to shoot the spring to the other side of the garage, I finally was able to grab it long enough to attach the other cap and let the spring contract and pull the two caps over the axle hubs.  Its a bit hard to see, but the axle covers are the black oval shapes on the rear axle in the picture below.  It's the little things that make it all worthwhile right?  Yeah.  I keep telling myself that.
Next up was a few parts for the Nightster -- my little zippy bike that mainly goes with me to Olympia when I'm living down there and need to escape for a ride.  After the Legislative session is over I bring it back and it's a great little bike to go cruising around on short rides and to the gym and whatnot.  I decided to dress it up a bit by putting on some new black heat shields, and on both the Rocker and this bike, I installed white/blue halogen headlights for greater visibility both in the day and at night. 
And lastly, I decided to commemorate the 40,000 plus miles I've ridden on the Dyna with some custom plates for her.  This is my main road bike -- the one who's been to hell and back with me, and that I've ridden from Corner to Corner (Key West to Cape Flattery) as well as Border to Border with and more.  Hence the plates -- C2C B2B.  

You will note that the plate is held on with four blue reflector screws.  Blue reflectors are quite hard to find and I got a box of them on E-Bay.  Fortunately I bought extra since when I first put them on one vibrated off.  I decided to set them on using Red LocTite which is all I had on hand.  For those of you who know, you use Red LocTite when putting on screws that you do not want to come off or that you can use a torque wrench on.  I'll be damned if I could get the screws off and I recalled that I was told that you could heat up Red LocTite and it would come off.  So gathering up my trusty butane torch (which also works well when making Cream Brule but I digress), I proceeded to attempt to melt the Red LocTite and instead melted the reflectors and the old license plate.  Nonetheless I eventually got it off and replaced it with the custom plate you see here -- using Blue LocTite which isn't quite as strong when I put the new reflectors on.

So now it was time to reward myself with a nice fall ride.  I decided I'd take the Rocker and headed out for a nice loop around King County, admiring the blue sky and fall leaves, wishing summer weren't ending and I'd have to limit my riding.  No more long road trips and only an occasional ride on those rare Saturday or Sunday's in November when the sun shines.  And as always, riding clears my head and allows me to think.  Think about a lot of things.  Where my career is going, where my life is going, what direction should I take with both.  I think about ideas for the column I'm writing now for Quick Throttle magazine -- a free monthly biker publication available in motorcycle shops and biker bars.  (You can read my November column here: ).  And songs come flooding back into my head from my many years as a radio DJ.  One in particular kind of summed up much of my life this past year -- Bobby Goldsboro's "Autumn of My Life.  However,  I can't say I'm "content" in the Autumn of My LIfe -- far from it.  But it does seem to fit my life as songs often do. 
In the Spring of my life, she came to me.
She brought sunshine where winter winds had blown.
Then I took her for my wife, in the spring of my life

and she brought me a joy I never known.

And the years, they went by in the spring of my life.
And in summer, she blessed me with a child.
continued to grow, in the summer of my life
and in every morning sun
I saw her smile.

But in the autumn of my years, I noticed the tears
and I knew our life was in the past.
Though I tried to pretend, I knew it was the end.
For the autumn of my life had come at last.

Now what, what do you say to a child of ten?
How do you tell him his daddy's going away?
Do I tell him that I reached the autumn of my life
and that he'll understand some winter's day?

Now the rose
can't be found on a snow covered ground.
and the sun
can not shine through cloudy skys.
But I'm richer you see for the years she gave to me
and I'm content in the autumn of my life.

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