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Farrell Hope
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This is an '81 Special which I have modified to look like a "Britbike".
My other '81 Special, is a "poor man's cafe racer".
This is a bike that I have given 13" setbacks together with clubman bars, using common parts available at any breaker and/or hardware store for less than $100 total and a couple of evenings in the garage, no cutting or welding required and using ordinary tools.
Ladies, the man on the bike is not me.   He is the son of a friend of mine.  I am happy to give you his email address and trouser size if required.
So that you can appreciate how "normal" I am, despite some of my emails, here is a picture of my garage.  $100 bikes sit warm and snug while my, and my wife's cars, sit outside in the sleet and hail.
Ace right rear
This, of course is not a Yamaha, but, it's a nice bike all the same.
A Ride through Paradise on the Road from Hell

It has been said that experience is that which allows you to recognize what you are doing wrong when you repeat your mistakes.  I've only come to grief twice in my almost 50 years of riding, but both times due to the same mistake; deliberately ignoring a color or texture change in the road surface.  The second time was only a week ago, in a gorgeous but remote corner of our planet.
Last week I was in the fortunate position of being able to combine a business trip to Brazil with the opportunity to take a 800 kilometer week-end ride with a group of friends through some of the most spectacular scenery on earth.
The unfortunate result was that I was unable to sit at the business meetings that followed, in fact I am siting on two pillows as I type this.  I could see some of the meeting participants smirking every time I stood up and stood against the wall, as if the old man could not take it anymore, but that's not the case.  I hit the biggest pothole I have ever seen, on a rented bike with the most miserable suspension and riding position I have ever known, at considerable speed.  In fact the bike has no rear suspension whatsoever in my opinion, it was a "Boulevard Cruiser" to impress the girls at the Dairy Queen, and here I was using it to ride through paradise on the road from hell.
To make a short story endless, I was behind a grinding truck, which was weaving around to avoid the potholes, on the worst potholed road I have ever seen.  I saw an opportunity to blast past it, even though there was a long gravel patch on the other side of the road. That's where I acted like an idiot, I ignored a change of color/texture as a warning.  I lecture guys never to ignore this critical sign, and here I did it myself.  As I was roaring past the truck, I suddenly saw from whence came all the gravel; a giant pothole, an elephant trap, a meteor crater, at the end of the gravel streak, previously invisible because of being the same color as the gravel.
Now, when faced with a crisis on a motorcycle, you have the instant choice of only four actions, and you cannot combine them.  Brake, swerve, accelerate or do nothing.  Some people talk about a fifth, lay the bike down, but nobody really does that deliberately; it's a very dumb move.  Anyway, I could not swerve around that monster, I could not swerve on gravel anyway, I could not brake nor accelerate on gravel without losing it, I could not even cut the throttle because that's the same as braking the rear wheel.  I could not stand on the foot-pegs to take the shock with my legs because of the lousy foot forward controls seating position. So I held the throttle as is, and took it front on, just sitting the saddle, fully expecting to die ignominiously next to a greasy dirty truck on a back road of Brazil, surrounded by strangers who would talk a few minutes about the idiot American and that would be that.
Well, the front wheel pogo'd out OK, but when that back wheel (or the bike frame, or both, I don't know) hit the far edge of the pothole it completely slammed the breath out of me and gave me instant vise-like intense searing pain all over the lower half of my back.  I knew I'd broken something, later X-rays confirmed a significant compression fracture of the lowest thoracic vertebra.   But the bike was airborne at this point, and when it landed probably 10 yards further down the road, the second impact made the first one feel like child's play.  How I kept control I don't know, but I did, and got it to the side of the road about 200 yards beyond the impact.  The guy behind, who could not believe I and the bike stayed together through the flight and landing, said I lay on the tank for several minutes, without responding to them.  I don't remember.  I was just glad when I saw my foot come of the foot-peg and go to the ground, I knew I hadn't paralyzed myself.  I thought the ride was over for me, but after about ten minutes the searing agony eased, and it just became ordinary fierce pain.
Now honor was at stake here.  I was the oldest guy on the ride, turned 60 last January, and the only American.  So I climbed back on; a possible slight bend in the front rim, but no other damage.  When you have no rear suspension to speak of there is little to break.  And finished the 100 kilometers remaining.  And rode all the 400 kilometers back the next day.  No bike of mine was going back a trailer queen unless I was in a wooden box beside it.  So I can't sit, and I'm not sure I ever want to see another motorbike.  A good package deal on all six I own may await some lucky buyer.
The roads and traffic were bad enough that we took the only other guy who was there renting a bike, who had not ridden for years, off his bike after about 60 kilometers and put him in the follow-jeep and his bike on the trailer.  He would never have made it alive.
Pictures below show me standing in the pothole the next day, and also the bike and it's ultra low saddle and foot forward seating position. That position would have been a killer on an 800 kilometer ride even without hitting the pothole. You can see my leather pants on the saddle in an effort to improve the seating position.  I am smiling only because I am on pain-killers contributed by an angel, actually a dentist, in the group.  I am also riding in a T-shirt because of the intense tropical heat, the Brazilians thought riding without protective gear insane.  I'm sure they were right.  They may never invite the weird American again.
Don't ever ignore color change.  No matter where in the world you are.

March, 2005


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