Why Pay Day Takes So Long to Come. Zeno’s Paradox. My 41 Year Old BMW Hits the Road.

There’s a philosophical reason why payday always seems so incredibly far away. To disrespectfully borrow from the Greek philosopher Zeno it would go something like this. Today is Monday and payday is Friday. For me to get to Friday I have to get half way there, say Wednesday. And for me to get to Wednesday I have to get half way there, say Tuesday. Maybe you see where this is going. For me to get to Tuesday, I have to get half way there, which is about 4 pm today. Then there’s half way to that, and half way to that. In other words, there’s an infinite number of half “times” I have to reach before payday. May not be scientifically true but it certainly explains psychologically why payday always feels as if it will never come!
It’s Monday morning and as usual it looks like payday will never come. I’ve got to go to work. I stare mournfully at the back tire on the Road King (AKA Big Red). I have almost 9000 miles on that tire and there’s an angel hair’s width of tread still on her. I’ve needed a new one since El Paso, Texas, almost 2 months ago. Harley whitewalls aren’t cheap. About $300 installed. There’s 4 days until pay day when I can get it replaced. I like to pay cash. And it’s the same 4 days on which I have to make the 100 mile round trip to Dalton, where I work.


R60/5 with the toaster gas tank

I was out in the garage staring at Big Red’s back tire, shaking my head when the Old Knight, the 1973 BMW R60/5, whispered to me to let her out of the cage. She could do the run up to Dalton she promised. I tilted my head and stared at her. I had been riding her around town for the last year and she’s done alright. She’s had a few problems but nothing you couldn’t work through or around when you ride her. The thing is that she’s 41 years old. She has four speeds, a 599cc engine (Big Red has five and most new bikes six) and doesn’t have a windscreen. She has Mikuni carbs on her which work far better than the custom Bing ones. (“Why do they call Bing carburetors Bing? Because that’s the sound they make hitting the trash can.”). Why not give the Old Knight a try?
There’s nowhere to stash the coffee thermos and no saddlebags so I just “bungeed” my laptop bag to the seat and took off. She handled beautifully as she always does. Engine’s quiet and she just thumps along. The acceleration’s not fast but it is consistent. After a while I relaxed and just enjoyed crossing the rivers and watching the mist rising in the hills and mountains.
But then I hit Interstate 75 for my last 20 miles. Cars and trucks whizzed by as the bike slowly gained speed. She was straining, but happy and still had more throttle left when I got her to 80 mph.That’s when the problem with the tachometer needle started. These old BMW’s are notorious for having bad speedometer/tachometer units. For the last month my rpm gauge has acted like a metronome with its needle flipping right and left. Now it started going wild. For a while it ran all the way to the right and stuck in the red zone like I was redlining it. It remained stuck there all day Monday.
On Tuesday the rpm gauge tip finally broke off and the base of the needle began spinning around like a fan or like the newspapers hot off the press in those old movies. Slightly mesmerizing if you stared at it, so I just didn’t. Besides, who needs an rpm gauge? My Harley didn’t have one.
On Wednesday a loud whirling sound, related to the engine speed, started coming out of the headlight unit, where, of course, the speedometer/tachometer is located. On the way home the speedometer needle started bouncing around like it had the hiccups. One moment it showed I was going 40mph and the next moment 80. It finally settled down and stopped, showing me riding at a cool 120 mph.
Thursday morning, one more day to go,and the Old Knight put her brave face on again. Who can resist the pleading grin from that shiny chrome toaster tank? I strapped on my laptop bag, cranked her up and rode her down the driveway and out to the main road. That’s when the clutch started slipping. I managed to turn her around and ride back up to the house but the clutch kept slipping and she couldn’t make it up the driveway. I parked her on the street, grabbed my backpack and sped out on Big Red, fearing I was going to be late for class. I was there 2 minutes early.
When I got home, after parking Big Red, I went down to tinker with the BMW. I got her started, took her for a spin and then managed to ride her back up the driveway to the garage. There she sits, proud but with a slightly burnished ego.
Friday, I drove Big Red down to the Harley dealer and had a new tire put on the rear.

The next repair work will be on the Old Knight, next pay day, of course that’s if it ever comes.

Wild and Unruly Thoughts: Biker Bars, Biker Nights, Stuck in the Realm of Sensual Immediacy: Part One

Biker bars – If you’re not a biker what images come to mind? If you are a biker what scenes are playing in your head? I plan to write some real descriptions of bars that I have been in.
Pick-up trucks and Harleys are parked out front. Cardboard sign on the door has scribbled on it that the credit and debit machines are broken so you have to have cash. It’s Friday night and there’s a special band playing so there’s a cover charge of 5 bucks. I know the band. They’re worth every cent. This is a beer and soft drinks only bar. Cans and bottles. Nothing on tap and nothing foreign. Boiled peanuts boiling on the counter. Smoking is allowed in this bar and people are, but it’s not stuffy. Neon and metal beer signs hang on the wall. There’s an old lit Miller Lite sign from the 1970’s. Taste’s great; Less Filling. Ancient air conditioning units frozen in time are growing out of the concrete block wall. The floor is wooden and you can feel the vibration from the band’s instruments coming up through the wood. It’s like being on a vertical magic fingers bed, if you can remember that far back. Innervating, your body tingles in unusual ways and places, which can be disconcerting! Overhead fans that look like large hamster wheels suck the frowsty air up centrifugally and throw it out the side. In the back some folks are shooting pool. In the center, in front of the band, people are sitting at side tables or up dancing. Regular clothes, some leather vests with a club name on them. Some women sport vests with Property of …. (club name) on the back, just in case sitting in a guy’s lap wasn’t enough of a hint for you. One white cowboy hat, one purple doo rag, the rest mostly baseball caps, or folks topless. Guy wears a tee shirt that says “Real men pray every day”. Others wear Harley shirts with dealership names on the back. Two guys with overalls on. One has his cap backwards, ready to rally.
Some folks are up dancing. One man, tall, bald, stiff stork legs shooting out of naval green shorts, has a white cotton polo shirt, his butt back, head arched forward like he’s doing a frenetic funky chicken or caught in a whirling St Vitus’ dance. He’s moving around, parallel play-wise, a slightly chubby woman with her black hair in a bun who’s shoeless and sporting peppermint striped socks. Two other women are up dancing, wearing tight blue jeans, with big belts and hot pink tops. One woman dancing by herself has her arms stretched out in front of her shoulder high and she’s shaking left and right like she using one of those old vibrating, jiggling, exercise belt machines. It’s a shimmy to put all others to shame.
I’ve come here with a friend and that makes it easier than being on my own. Plus, the place has a counter bar and lots of places to stand around so you can strike up a conversation with folks beside you. “Do you ride?” “What kind of bike?” “From around here?” The guy beside me pulled out his phone and showed me pictures he’d taken, not of his kids, which he has, but of his bikes. Proud papa.
The atmosphere is friendly, peaceful in places and frenetic the closer you are to the band, which is belting out fast rockabilly blues. The double bass player occasionally spins his bass as he plays. The thick rumble echoes through the room.
Folks are happy, excited, the dancers oblivious, frenetic and carefree. Friday night at the biker bar.