After all of the rigmarole of getting my bike purchased, parked, insured, and registered it was time for a trip. Before I could take off though there was the issue of maintenance. This is a 24 year old motorcycle and it needs care and feeding. The previous owner did a great job of maintaining the bike and keeping records. He informed me that the bike should get an oil change right off the bat. I also needed a valid NY State inspection decal. Before the purchase, I found a bike shop in East Harlem called Cycle Therapy. They opened at 11am and the service manager Atim said if I got in early they could get to the oil change done in a few hours. I left the bike and took the bus home.
I like doing my own mechanical work but in my parking garage this is prohibited. It’s kind of one of the things I have to sacrifice in New York as a motorcycle owner – no garage space. This is a bummer because to me, half of the fun is working on the bike. I worked as a mechanic in my dad’s muffler shop as a boy and there is something beautiful about working with your hands. It is why I build amplifiers and effects pedals to this day. It is a form of creation that has become unpopular in the disposable society we live in today.
At 1:30pm Atim called and said the bike was ready. He had already emailed me an invoice which I thought was very cool. I looked it over and the prices were very fair. I arrived at the shop and my black machine sat outside the shop with a new inspection sticker in place. Atim walked me around the bike and pointed out a few leaks here and there on the bike. I noticed he had a passion in his voice. Even when looking at my old, slow, sport touring bike that was well past her prime, he spoke to me as if it was important. I really admired his demeanor and remembered that when owning a bike you are automatically in a club. A group of people that think differently than the rest of society.
I stepped inside to pay for their great service, and as Atim rang up the sale, he told me that he rode every day no matter what – cold, rain, snow, or whatever. He said it kept him young and reported that he was 50. He did not look anywhere near 50. I took this to heart and knew that riding a motorcycle is something that is in my blood. I am drawn to it. Even though there have been large gaps in my bike ownership, I somehow always seem to get back to riding on two wheels. It’s just something I have to do.
I hopped on the bike, filled her up with gas at a BP on the corner of 125th and 2nd and headed out on a journey. I thought I would just head up the Westside highway and see where it took me. It was a gray and overcast day but there was no threat of rain. Driving crosstown through the city was a slow process. So many people double parked and cars do not want to give you the space you deserve. I just grit my teeth and fought my way to the Westside Highway and started driving North.
Once A little out of town on the Saw Mill River Expressway it hit me. That feeling of freedom and relaxation you get when riding in the wind. It’s probably similar to the feeling surfer’s express, “If I have to explain it, you’ll never understand”. I encountered a toll booth along the way. It is such a pain to pay a toll on a motorcycle. You have to stop, put the bike in neutral, fumble for your wallet, pay, get your change, return your wallet to your pocket, put the bike back in gear, and finally take off. I have since signed up for an E-ZPass so I can zoom right through from any tolls in the Northeast. I was going to head to Sleepy Hollow but I got lost and decided to just keep riding. I pulled off in a little town called Mount Kisco. I got on yelp and looked for a place to have lunch. I could not find my first choice, but happened upon a new place called MTK. I had a small lobster roll, a pulled pork slider, and a milk stout. The food and service was great and it was nice to have a relaxing beer after driving for a bit. I chatted with the locals for a while and decided to head home.
This was just a short tune up trip to polish up my riding skills a bit. The journey home was fun. Almost no traffic and cool temperatures. I would have liked a little more sun but at least there was no rain. Getting closer to the city I decided to save the toll and take Broadway back into town. This turned out to be a huge mistake! The traffic was terrible and cars were seemingly aiming for me. I realized I am not an urban driver but prefer to get out of the city onto the open roads. I will not commit this mistake again.
Even though I only traveled about 75 miles round trip, this maiden voyage on the Flying Brick reminded me of the joy of motorcycling has brought me over the years. The hassles and expense are more than worth it when you are out there in the wind with nothing but your thoughts. More journeys to follow…
My first oil change.
Lunch at MTK in Mount Kisco