Being Forced Into the Perfect Ride
Somehow our Rambling man got talked out of yard work by his riding buddy for his first-ever ride of the season on his Suzuki quad.
By about midweek the last of the chilly spring days were driven off by the intense afternoon sun and cloudless skies. Through the insulated walls of my second-floor office the ambient workday noise (phones ringing, keyboards clacking, and high heels swiftly passing) was again accompanied by the electric buzz of sportbikes and thumping rumble of V-Twins as they passed by outside - music to my ears. Uncharacteristically, the weekend approached with an equally promising weather forecast and I had yet to establish any concrete riding plans. In a rare act of sensibility, I had decided to dedicate the time off in good weather to catching up on some of the long overdue projects that awaited me in my own backyard.
Saturday morning found me alert well before lunchtime (another out of character moment) and outside checking the fluids on the lawnmower rather than strapping on the leathers. To further interfere with my motivation, a succession of high revving R6s and Gixxers blasted past. I listened to their high-pitched whine in a moment of silent deliberation and shook off their call with the flatulent rumble of the ol' Briggs & Stratton 24-horse Twin firing to life. At a steady 7 mph, I engaged the blades, lowered the deck and got to cutting. I had been making steady progress when I happened to notice the flailing arm of my girlfriend Amanda (who had been slower to rise than yours truly) holding the cordless phone while hanging out the door of our mud room. Having been programmed with specific instructions never to interrupt my yard work unless it is something really important (as the chances of my getting distracted and failing to get it completed are astronomical) I took the signal from Amanda seriously enough to park the mower and answer the phone.
"Yo," I said, in effort to look the hard-working, grass-cutting part.
"Jay," said the voice on the other end of the line, "what do you say to you and I getting a trail ride in on this fine Saturday?"
It was my cousin and good riding buddy, Mike Genovese, who happens to work out of town during the week. There was little doubt that the warm weather had him chomping at the bit as well. Apparently not nearly as concerned with getting yard work done as I, he did present a good case.
"Hmm," I said, fighting off the urge to pack up the mower and grab my helmet.
"I'll be working out of town as of Sunday evening," he continued. "Big job up in Montreal, could take weeks."
"Well gee," I said, gazing at the rows of grass I had yet to reach and the twin stacks of brush that I had intended on burning.
"It's rare that it should be so beautiful this early in the season, and on a Saturday when we both happen to be off."
"Okay, fine." I finally mumbled in defeat. "Just let me finish up my yard work here and I'll give you a call."
I hung up the phone and proceeded to get mowing. I stopped into the house for a swig of Gatorade and to grab a pack of matches only to find the answering machine blinking.
"Hey, it's Mike again. Are you done with the yard work or what? I'm waiting."
I ran back outside and promptly headed over to the brush piles. Amazingly, they ignited with only a single match. Through the crackling flames and rising plumes of smoke, I noticed Mike's pickup truck coming up the road complete with his new Suzuki LT-R450 tied down to the trailer in tow. I said a silent goodbye to my iron will and waved him over to the scene.
"Grab your quad," he said popping the top of his Red Bull. "The trails are calling."
The Rambling man's yard-work spirit was strong, but the ATV-riding flesh was weak on a perfect weekend. He did get a nice sunburn for his penance, however.
I pulled my 400Z from the shed and turned the key. Ignition lights illuminated, the headlight was dim. I pushed the little button and held my breath. The starter slowly turned over twice before finally ticking with an intermittent dimming of the oil light. I found myself wondering what ever happened to the days of the backup kick starter while pushing the quad across the lawn. We connected the quad's pint-sized under-seat battery to my Blazer for a jump using a set of cables that appeared to have come from a utility building in Jurassic Park. After struggling to make contact with my battery's tiny terminals, the gargantuan alligator clips managed to get the job done with an early 4th of July fireworks display to boot. With that, a quick gear-up as the machines quietly idled in the driveway and we were off.
The conditions were absolutely perfect. A bit dusty in fact, which is quite rare for these parts so early in the year. Mike and I blitzed along the open fields in temps high enough to warrant wearing T-Shirts before the buds even had a chance to appear on the trees. As an added bonus, there were no bugs yet on the scene either. We were free to stop and scout out the terrain without the risk of biting black flies. We played tag through the grape fields and zipped through the shade-less trees until the sun hung heavy in the sky.
My cousin's persistence and my lack of willpower were validated by a very memorable first ride of the season. In fact, I even managed to get my work done as the sun slowly set. The only drawback to our early spring romp was that my pale winter skin wasn't quite ready for the full day in the direct sunlight, despite receiving ample radiation from computer monitors and television screens for months. I'm pretty well sunburnt, especially on the back of the neck. Thankfully Amanda's been quite cooperative at slathering me up with aloe and Lidocaine for the pain, although she's not exactly sure why I've been smiling while making motor sounds anytime someone mentions that day. Guess you had to be there to understand.
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