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In the Garage


February 29th 2012 


I just couldn't get to grips with anything this morning. I couldn't settle to work and even the things I wanted to do in the garage seemed impossibly complicated and onerous. Usually I break this kind of mental stalemate by taking the dog for a walk, but today, I forgot all about her recreational needs and left her to roll around in the snow on her own.

I wasn't particularly looking forward to a ride: it was only a degree or two above freezing and overcast - not conditions particularly conducive to raising the spirits or clearing away the winter cabin fever.  Furthermore, riding two-wheels was out of the question.  There was far too much ice and snow around for that to be rational.
I could take the combo......oh well, better than nothing I suppose.

In the end I pushed the Eldorado combo out of the garage, filled the sidecar with some heavy junk as ballast (old oil jugs, tools, spare battery etc.) threw on my riding gear and headed out. 

As usual, after a couple of grunts, the Eldorado sprung into life, burbling nicely (and loudly) through its Mistral mufflers.  I snicked it into gear and skittered across our ice covered driveway.  By the time I had reached the road I was feeling better; by the time I got to the main road, I was starting to enjoy myself.

Don't let anyone tell you that riding a bike with a sidecar is remotely like riding a regular bike.  They are a different animal.  Counter-steering simply doesn't work and you have to strongarm the bike through the corners, all the while fighting the gyroscopic preference of the front wheel to stay firmly pointed in line with the bike.  Cornering is more a matter of brute force than anything else; on right-handers you have to struggle with the bike's tendency to lift the chair wheel, on left-handers the bike wants to crab across the roadway if you press to hard.  Riding is dynamic - you constantly have to shift your weight in order to keep the machine on its wheels and pointed in the right direction.

Half an hour of backroads and I was at Doug's door.  Since my Jawa sidecar doean't currently have a seat, we dumped all my ballast on his porch, rigged up some temporary padding and headed for the coffee shop.

I was pleased to see that Doug's weight didn't upset the handling or performance (such as they are) to any degree - if anything, the extra compression of the springs smoothed things out a little.

With coffees from 'Tim's' we stood outside gassing about bikes, as we always do.  After a while we loaded up again and I dropped Doug at home.

On the return trip, I deliberately took the backroads, enjoying the controllable way the bike skitters around on the wet gravel, the sound of the exhausts, the clatter of the tappets and the hiss of the tyres on the road. 

All of a sudden, I realised that I was entirely happy. The dull weather and chilly temperatures were irrelevant. My hands and feet were warm and the bike was positively symphonic.  Most importantly, I realised that riding the combo had changed for me. It was not the choice of last resort - a grudging 'make do', 'better than nothing' alternative, barely worth getting off the couch for.  It was an absolute blast!   




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