“Easy Boss, we’re in trouble…”
My little had voice spoken to me again. I was after some gas this time as I made a right turn off the road into a shopping center entrance. Something was up. In heightened alertness I glimpsed a flash of movement in my peripheral vision. It was to the right and far behind me, but was in the parking lot. As I got farther into the turn I realized it was a car moving fast, and in the wrong direction across the stripes. He was going to broadside me as I cleared the entryway and entered the lot.
When turning off the road I tend to be a bit aggressive, turning hard and getting off the roadway as fast as possible. It is amazing to me how many people fail to see the motorcycle slowing down for a turn right in front of them, despite the abundant brake lights and bright orange turn signals. This means I am usually moving a bit fast when I hit the entryway, but I slow down rapidly once I am clear of the road. This has saved me some pain on several occasions.
As I was already in a hard right turn the options this time were few, but at least there were options. This was not yet a critical situation, and unfortunately this sort of thing is all too common nowadays. There were several metal poles guarding the entrance to the parking lot on my right, so I flipped the massive Valkyrie out of the right turn and on into a hard left, kind of running up the beveled curb and onto the sidewalk, and then off into the grass. The car whizzed on by, course and speed unaltered. I would bet he was doing 50mph. Through a parking lot. Against the stripes.
Somebody is going to die at his hands someday. Drivers today are getting very careless, inattentive, and even less considerate. This happens so much in the city now that I don’t even get very worked up about it anymore. I just hope I always manage to see them coming!
Still astride the bike I muscled The Dragon backwards out of the grass and back into the entryway. To work out a bit of the frustration I gassed her a bit more than needed, pulled another hard right to clear the entryway and followed by a very tight left-hand loop around the gas station to pull up to the pump I wanted.
As I stuck my credit card into the pump, a young lady approached. She had that certain demeanor about her that clearly indicated she wanted to talk. This happens to me a lot on road-trips, but not so often in the city. It is inevitably always interesting, and of course being a red-blooded male, just as a general principle I appreciate young attractive women that want to talk to me. This petite brunette bombshell qualified on all counts. I would guess she was about 28 or so. She was dressed in tight jeans and a red tank top that left her midriff bare. Slightly tanned and not starving. Curvy. Yum. I have said it before; we do grow ‘em nice here. As a courtesy and kind-of a subtle invite I removed my helmet and stabbed it onto the backrest.
As I began fueling the bike, she finally worked up the nerve to complete her approach.
“Hello.” she said with a nervous smile.
I grinned back, “Good morning.”
“I saw that car. That was a close call, huh?”
“Not really. I’ve had much worse.” I was thinking about an oncoming left turn incident a year or so ago in a nearby intersection. I smiled a bit and looked attentively at her with my blue eyes as I said it so she would know I was not dismissing her.
The blue eyes always work. She took a step closer. “Well that was really neat…that turn you did to miss him. You must be a really good rider.”
“Well, thank you!” I was flattered. Most people do their best to not even see a motorcycle, and although I happen to think I am a pretty good rider (there is always more to learn), I have never been complimented on my handling before.
Then she asked the second-most popular question I get from females about the big Valkyrie cruiser, “How much does it weigh?”
“Over half a ton with me on her.” Essentially accurate, and much more impressive than “about 750 pounds dry.”
I concentrated on finishing up the fueling for a moment to give that a chance to sink in. If you rush these conversations, many will have an attack of shyness and leave.
She reaches out, a bit shyly, as if fearing that the machine might bite, and rubs the chrome on the handlebar. “She’s gorgeous. She’s got a name? I’m Kelly by the way.”
I immediately liked this gal. She had instantly picked up on the fact that I attribute gender and personality to the big beast I was riding, and was not shy about using the terms. That is fairly uncommon.
I hung up the pump handle and grabbed my receipt. “Kelly, meet The Dragon.”
“Dragon,” she smiled, “I like dragons.” She eyed the bike a moment. I could see it coming, she was going to ask the first or the third most popular question I get from women concerning The Dragon--namely, “How much did she cost?” or “What kind of Harley is that?”
Kelly surprised me. “How do you control something that big?”
Control? Interesting question. I am a big and strong guy, and the Valkyrie responds well to me, but it is not really about strength. The only place strength is really needed is if she is dumped over and needs to be picked up. Control is not the right word. It is really about skill, finesse, and design. In reality, I am not in control of The Dragon, it is more a partnership…a mutual understanding, alliance, or maybe dependence. The physical forces involved at speed--all that moving mass and spinning wheels--far outstrip any physical strength I could bring to bear, yet she readily responds to my desires. As I have pointed out many times, when I am riding, I become The Dragon.
After some discussion I learned that Kelly had been intensely interested in learning to ride a few years back, and her father had told her, “Fine, if you can stand up my motorcycle from on her side, you are strong enough to ride.” He had a Fatboy. She still was interested in learning, but even though he was long gone, had never tried as she was convinced that she would never be strong enough.
I recommended a beginners MSF course, and recommended against a Valkyrie as a first bike, but was also quick to point out that there are many women that ride, and quite a few of those are on Valkyries (women are a clever bunch). I expect we will have a new rider in our ranks soon, and after her training, I fully expect she will be on a Valkyrie. She was eyeing mine just a bit too hungrily. I’ve seen that look before.
As we prepared to part ways, she screwed up her courage one more time to ask a favor. “Can I start her?”
I turned on the key and pointed at the right grip. “This is the throttle, and that is the start button. Grab it here and push the button with your thumb. Let off the button when she starts.”
She followed my directions and The Dragon rumbled smoothly to life. One of the things I enjoy about the Valkyrie is the quiet pipes. When she is running the engine is what is heard. The smooth and powerful flat-6 engine has a unique sound.
What does a Valkyrie sound like? My best answer is simple. “Torque.”
Kelly revved the superb machine just a bit. I will always remember the look on her face. It is best described as pure ecstasy, and definitely sexual in nature. I was actually a bit embarrassed to see that much raw emotion on the face of a stranger. The Dragon is not the only thing that got started. Kelly is going to be a Valkyrie rider someday.
A kindred spirit, as we parted ways she used my catch phrase, my common greeting or parting to riders.
As I pulled away I heard her call excitedly after me, “I’ll see you on the road!”
“Yeah,” I said to myself, “Yeah, she will”.
I grinned, The Dragon roared, and we were gone.