After successfully selling his girlfriend’s 1980 KZ750, Giacchino was coerced by his uncle to help him once again use his Internet expertise to sell a 2004 Harley-Davidson Road King Custom.
Lured By a False Sense of Spring
I’m pretty famous for making plans in the dead of winter when the distant promise of March inspires thoughts of flowers in bloom, leaves of green, and the chirping of birds up in the trees. The reality, of course, is that I live in Buffalo, which means that by March the only chirping of birds we’ll actually hear comes to us via the Discovery Channel.
Case in point: My uncle, who doubles up as a longtime riding partner, recently purchased and moved into a new home. Part of the financial compromises in getting set up in his new palace involved parting with his daily rider – a 2004 Harley-Davidson Road King Custom. Having heard the incredible success story of recently ridding my girlfriend’s mother’s garage of one non-running 1980 Kawasaki KZ750, I was naturally the man he sought out for assistance. His logic was simple: If you could pawn off that heap, perhaps you could help me sell a freezer to an Eskimo. Or to a fellow Western New Yorker, as the case may be.
Don’t get me wrong, his bike was truly mint condition having been both garage- and cover-stored and reading 3,000 easy miles on the clock. The problem was that his motivation to part with the bike peaked at roughly the exact same moment riders in the area began putting their bikes away for the off-season. One could almost hear the collective sighs and simultaneous firing of trickle chargers all around the neighborhood as we were drawing up our classified ad. Step one was the local scene: Penny Saver, Town Crier, and the local newspaper.
The mere mention of March made visions of fields with flowers and rides through the countryside fill the Rambling Man’s winter-weary head.
As expected, our local campaign drew no response. By no response I mean not a single call; not even from the optimistic dreamer who offers a partial trade for a rusty 1986 Astro van with a promise to pay the remaining balance in installments until his lawsuit is settled. By December it had come time to unleash the big guns. The moment had arrived to attack the global market through what is slowly becoming my personal area of expertise: eBay.
I arrived to my uncle’s garage on a bitter cold Sunday afternoon and proceeded to snap some photos of the Harley for their auction appearance. Later that same night I assembled a thorough write-up and listed the bike as a seven-day auction. Now I’m no stranger to the process of keeping close tabs on an eBay auction, but it is rare that I’m not a whole lot shorter on funds when the auction comes to an end. After the seven days concluded, we had fallen just shy of our reserve price and it appeared we would be forced to re-list the bike right up until spring came.
Then by chance our top bidder contacted us to inquire as to how far below our reserve price was his bid. It turned out he was $2000 shy of what my uncle wanted. He then offered to meet us halfway, proposing a thousand over his top bid. After about 15 seconds of intense debate my uncle accepted his offer and that was that. It was at this point that my uncle asked me if I could help load the Road King up for the gentleman when he arrived for pick-up. Like any experienced Western New Yorker, I chose the wording of my response very carefully:
“That depends upon precisely when he plans to come out and get it.”
“Not until late February, early March.”
The reality of spring in Buffalo means if Giacchino wants to ride he better gear up and have spikes on his tires.
Bingo, I was had by the fantasy of picturesque March once again. I agreed to lend an already sore back to the cause and allowed all concept of the Road King to fade from memory. After all, I figured, I don’t need to worry about that thing again until the snow is melted, the flowers are in bloom, and blah-blah-blah. At that point life is so darn perfect, hauling an 800-pound motorcycle up a ramp will be a small penance for simply getting to be outside.
The fantasy held strong until the second week of February when I got a call from uncle claiming the buyer was coming up on President’s Day to retrieve his bike. That’s February 19, for those of us who have to celebrate the holiday from work. Anyway, I had agreed to help and couldn’t back out now. I arrived to the scene severely underdressed considering that the high temperature of the day was a meager 5 degrees (yes, that would be Fahrenheit) with wind chills in the negative teens.
“So much for the songs of the spring robins,” I managed through chattering teeth as I climbed out of car.
The buyer took the long drive out from New Jersey, which I assumed to mean he was all too familiar with the type of conditions we put up with here on the shores of Lake Eerie.
The Jersey couple who bought the Road King Custom thought they’d stop by Niagra Falls for a little sightseeing, not realizing the falls freeze in winter.
“Boy,” he said while fiddling with his tie-down straps for seemingly hours, “I’m not used to this kind of weather. This sucks.”
“We went down to see Niagara Falls,” his wife added with a frown, “but it was frozen solid.”
With numb toes and blue lips, we proceeded to muscle the bike up onto the bed of the new buyer’s pickup truck just as the last of the sun’s useless rays faded behind a veil of deep gray clouds.
The good news is the transaction was a success and my reputation for moving bikes, despite less than ideal conditions, lives on. However, in the future I’m going to try to remind myself that spring around here isn’t a sure bet until at least July.