I have some friends that do not see the point of migrating from the city where conveniences are a few steps out the door to the country where raccoons topple my garbage cans nightly. They are hung up with excellent cuisine, a convenient commute, hopping theatre districts, bars and pubs crawling distance from home and the veritable plethora of museums, wine shops, cigar stores, music venues, retail, and so on. To each his own I guess. I am sure they are never bothered by the croak of a horny bullfrog that rings in my ears as I sit on my back deck swatting mosquitoes and writing these thoughts. Nor do deer nibble the tops off their tomato plants 6 stories up. On the other hand, I cannot walk across the street to get a newspaper or a latte. As bikers, we all pick our life preferences and adapt our riding styles and habits to our environs. I am always amazed by the adaptability of my city dwelling biker brethren. The yearning to ride calls no less in their psyche. Cruising the canyons of big city’s skyscrapers under a black night can be a titillating rush. Cities bustle with action, blinking neon green to red, crossing streets with gridlocked cages, signage flashing reflective color off chrome as hot pipes crackle exhaust notes that bounce down canyons of concrete and brick. I do enjoy night riding in a big city. The Brooklyn Bridge, The Miami Causeway, Michigan Street in downtown CHI-Town. I love the city honky tonk bars with biker themes where doormen wave you up over the curb and park you right up front. Rock star status, just for braving the big city. Men exit cabs with fancy voluptuous women on their arms and stare at your bravado, wishing, if just for a second, that they were you. Biker in the big city, it can be intoxicating.
All this said though, for me, the rumble out my driveway down meandering ribbons of country roads with forest green borders trumps the cityscape in the end. This is why I gave up the city life. Been there, done that. Fistfights over parking spots are a distant past in my life. Visiting a city and tipping the doorman to ‘park the scooter up front’ is cool unless it’s a daily grind. At the end of the day I pull into my neighborhood where I know everyone by name. I clunk along in 2nd gear past the lake and scan for deer crossing from the old growth woods. I left hand up the hill to my house at the end and hard right into the driveway. I do believe I could do it eyes closed. I fumble in my pocket for the clicker and like magic the big door rolls up giving wide berth to my dresser. Kickstand down, door shut, I and bike are home, warm, secure, happy. The motion sensor blinks red acknowledging my return. I head upstairs and hit the key pad assuaging any fear I’ll return to an empty spot. This alone suffices to keep me suburban. I’ll just have to ride out for milk, I’ll ride to get my bagels or the New York Times. Like many things in life, it’s all a trade off. Can my city buddy walk across the street for such things? Well, yes he can. For me though, not a good trade.
Parking a bike in New York (or any one of a dozen big cities in the US) will run anywhere between $350 to a grand a month. AND, the bike is nowhere near your house, which in fact is actually not a house, it is an apartment. You can’t walk downstairs in your boxer shorts with a can of Coors Light just to flick on the light and stare. Do not giggle, you know you have done this. I am man enough to admit that sometimes, I just like to look! Leaning left, cold, sleeping, but ready to rumble at the push of my thumb. On my last visit to NYC I took note of how my fellow bikers stored their bikes. My Law School pal’s bike can be seen in the accompanying picture. He lives in a very nice apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan. Nice floor plan, big kitchen, 3 bedrooms, family room, 2 full baths, and the rent: only $7,500.00 per month!! AND, Get this – no parking. Outside his building, where perhaps a small garden grew 100 years ago is a gate encompassing the four garbage cans each belonging to a tenant in his brownstone building. The gate is locked lest someone try to steal the garbage, no kidding. You will note a silver cover semi hiding a motorcycle behind the cans. Underneath sits my buddies Harley. What you cannot see is the plethora of chains and cables securing the bike to the earth. And for this privilege he’s only extorted by the landlord another $500 bucks a month. He brags these details to me like they are a bargain. I feel queasy standing there listening to the tale. I want to run home and kiss my garage. I feel guilt at the thought of an array of trickle chargers, lifts, torx tools, adjustable height padded shop stools, and (a tear comes to my eye) a rusty old fridge stocked with silver bullets and Rolling Rock. I want to beat my chest and lament loudly: “I’m not worthy” – although I am! However, I do admit, riding my bike on cool Sunday mornings all the way to the bakery for bagels for my family and the ‘NY Times’, past deer nibbling road side grass and robins flitting above, can sometimes be a real drag!! Ha, not even my city dwelling pal could think that!!
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and when life lets you, ride full throttle.