The CB160 racers rode a post-flag lap at revs so tempered that their slight engines sounded somehow stout. Back from the track’s far reaches they droned with throttle to spare and slow-swarmed toward the pits, where sidecars were arriving and getting readied for their go.
From the giddiness of the mosquito race, from the grandstand’s lofty perch, from the staircase tether to solid ground, Surtch Pherther landed flat-footed back on the paddock, into temps that had meanwhile surged and a crowd that had swelled since morning.
Through throngs of watchers and chatters and bike-tweakers and -testers, a rider in full textile all stormy-day shades feathered a white Ducati Monster to a stop spot near the concession stand, where junk food junkies were amassed for a pop and pizza fix.
In one smooth motion, the bike was shut off and propped, the rider out of the saddle, and the bright white helmet in a left hand clutch of its chin guard. With the common, side to side head-shake and right hand finger-comb, the Ducati girl swept her dirty blond hair from her face.
Looking self-assured, and smiling as wide as Surtch must have been that morning at hearing of his paddock-wandering freedom, she briefly scanned the scene and then set off for the grandstand steps, toward where Surtch stood contemplating her bike and wondering about her.
“You know,” he said, with a wrist-flick and head-nod toward her machine, “they always look like loaded springs, those Ducatis–like wild horses, all nerves and twitchin’ muscles, even at a standstill. Sooo,” catching her eyes for a spell, “how do you like it?”
The grinning Ducati girl gazed back at her white, hot ride. “It was love at first sight, and we’ve been together for six or so months. I used to be all about Harleys, rode a cruiser for years. But there’s no turnin’ back now.”
“Did you face any limitations, any, umm, learning curves, going from cruiser to sport?”
“Not at all. In fact, I think there were more limitations, more deliberate inputs necessary, with the cruiser. I hopped on this, and it was just so natural, like the Ducati was light-years ahead, like the cruiser was something, well, something primitive.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen plenty of ’em in traffic. They seem mighty nimble.”
“Oh, they are. At least that’s my experience. It surprises me still every time I ride.”
“Nice. Well, I’m headed for the show tent now–there are so many damn fine bikes around here, I’m afraid I’ve run outta drool.” The Ducati girl chuckled. “You, umm, you have a nice day.”
“You too,” she said. “See you around, maybe.” Then she climbed the steps and disappeared into the grandstand…
Once upon a time a tired teacher in a rare moment of engagement cautioned Surtch and his fellow students against careless use of abstract nouns and their derivatives.
They tempt us to attempt their definition, but that’s like trying to snare mythical creatures, like chasing snowflakes in spring, for such nouns are the names of intangibles, are essentially indefinable, and their meanings vary from perceiver to perceiver. They are–among untold others–fear, freedom, happiness, success, wisdom, god sometimes, and always beauty: beauty, the seldom self-evident; beauty, the what’s-behind-the-face value; beauty, the always subject to context; beauty, an elusive beast.
Beautiful are the elegant: for they forever remain refined despite what the road throws their way.
Beautiful are the sophisticated: for they comport themselves with dignity even through the rough spots.
Beautiful are the iconic: for they are the “impossible” from the past, heralding a future of boundless possibilities.
Beautiful are the humble: for they persist in their worthy pursuits, though any acclaim is rare.
Beautiful are the spartan: for they achieve the amazing, though their ready resources are few.
Beautiful are the respectful rebels: for though they challenge convention, they renounce not their roots.
Beautiful are the resilient: for from their falls they rise to wear their scars with pride, having gained more from toiling than was ever torn away.
Beautiful are the blended: for they can be the best of many sources, a greater harmony that transcends lesser differences.
Beautiful are the kindred: for though they off and on take opposite paths, their sound kinship stays forever strong.
Beautiful are the generations: for they stand side by side despite their differences and the years between and the separating ways of time.
Beautiful are the perfect pairs forever kept complementary couples: for together they endure breakdowns, flaws, and failures, defiant of all divisive forces.
Beautiful are the good soldiers: for they humbly toil upon fallow ‘scapes, across scorching tarmacs, through enclosing woods, and among formidable peaks, all to gain on that first goal worth getting–freedom.
Beautiful are the forgotten and fading: for they remind the rest that all is fleeting, that all things shall indeed pass–they remind the rest to own every curve, for one’s road is mapped as one goes, and there’s no foretelling its end.
And for her courage and confidence and enthusiasm in the face of media and its co-conspirators, marketer minions and the advertiser army–media and its desire for the desperate, its pursuit of easy prey and the chronically insecure, its harvesting of those husk-folk who measure only skin-deep, ones to dress down further and then paint up with its flawed products, and poison with its fraudulent philosophies…
Yeah, in spite of the odds stacked against her by her own kind, Ducati girl was beautiful.
With all of the fine rides his eyes had seen, Surtch’s mind was comfortably full, so he strolled back to the grandstand steps and climbed up to see the track once more.
The sidecar group sadly had made little progress in the preparations for their race, and with the day already approaching mid-afternoon, Surtch would soon have to get back to the City of Contradictions to swap Riot Machine for his pickup truck:
About 175 miles east and 6,000 feet up, in the high foothills of the Cairn Mountains, family and friends were anticipating his afternoon arrival for their annual firewood harvest. There would be turning leaves and chainsaw smoke, maybe a bit of fog and rain, a campfire and Dutch oven delicacies, his tent as shelter against pitch-black night, and his sleeping bag warm against the frost. There would be good company. Fall would be in full swing.
As for Ducati girl?… Surtch glanced around, but she was nowhere in sight.
“I’m afraid I’ve run outta drool.” I’m afraid, the same just happened to me. I am in love with the Norton family… but the Vincent is a mighty nice one too, and… wow.
Ry Austin says
Yeah, Sonja, of all the machines I saw at that event, I was especially taken with the little, black Egli-Vincent. What a snazzy commuter bike that would be.
Beautiful photos of the bikes. I don’t think that u can pick a favorite.
Ry Austin says
After a while, Richard, it really became sensory overload: There were just so many bikes to see–great and various.
I do regret that I wasn’t able to stay for the sidecar race. That’s something I’d like to have seen. Before that event, I wasn’t aware of sidecar racers: I had, of course, seen regular sidecar motorcycles before, but racers?… They were new to me. What strange looking machines.
Great post Ry. Those sure are some nice machines. I can see why you ran out of drool.
Ry Austin says
Thank you, Trobairitz. All morning long fantastic machines just kept arriving (I can only imagine what showed up after I left). I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take better close-ups of some of the bikes, but also I didn’t want to get too close to many of them: It felt a bit like invasion of personal space.
This event was annual before and has been since. I’ve wanted to go back, but it’s always on Labor Day weekend–a long weekend good either for wood-cutting or for moto-camping.
I was really, really hoping Surtch would see Ducati girl again and connect. I enjoyed the pics and the lovely weaving of words, but there’s always a bit of melancholy in Surtch’s musings. Has he ever had a partner? Perhaps a significant other would lighten his mood a bit? Family time sounds like fun, especially the campfire and Dutch oven delicacies, and I hope we see pics.
Ry Austin says
I’ve anticipated this question, Toadmama, and I’m not the least bit surprised that you asked it. 🙂
Surtch has been in love, but that’s ancient history. It wouldn’t have worked out with any of his sweethearts anyway, as their differences were irreconcilable, at least from Surtch’s perspective: His love interests usually were quite religious, while Surtch’s irreligiousness was deepening with every passing day—and religious fervor can’t be faked for long. Besides, it’s never been in him to do such a thing, to behave—just to endear himself—as though he shares another’s beliefs.
As Surtch has had his chances with others, he had his chance to pursue more conversation and maybe a connection with Ducati girl. Frankly, I think he’s a damned coward when it comes to matters of the heart (though he’d claim to have his reasons), and I’d be the first to say that to his face. What could he do, kick my ass?… Yeah, I’d love to see that. 😀
As for his apparent melancholy… It is there, but Surtch is more about humor of the absurd (which might be closely related to melancholy). If he ever seems especially melancholic, that’s more a reflection of my inability to convey his humor than any real gloominess on his part.
Surtch Phurther is my favourite alias in all of the internet. You have a mighty delicate touch with the pen mate. Another beautifully crafted post.
My ignorant English teacher smashed my head into the desk after one too many cheeky quips once. I deserved it but also blame that for my lack of understanding of abstract nouns.
Ry Austin says
Ha-haa! Hey, few folks remember the quiet ones, Dan: It’s the class clowns and the smart-asses that leave an impression.
Wow! I loved that post. My first encounter with Sertch Pherther.
Ry Austin says
I’m glad that you enjoyed your visit, Sandy. Thanks for dropping in.
Beautiful are your words! Way behind on reading, as usual, but saw your postcard offer on ToadMama’s blog so hopped on over. This post was a pleasure to read, and also I am glad she beat me to the nosy question. 🙂
Ry Austin says
🙂 Thanks, Lynne! I’m happy you enjoyed this tale, and I’m thrilled to be able to add you to my postcards from nowhere list. (Hmmm… Wouldn’t it be “nowheres” if there’s more than one location?)
If I’ll be made to answer to an almighty, I want to be able to say “I went nowheres in my life” instead of “I did nothing with my time”. 😀
Surtch knows he’d have to take notice were he to cross paths with an equally free, dual-sportin’ woman in the middle of nowhere. Whether he’d have the courage for greater conversation than just courtesies with a passing stranger, I don’t know: It’s no secret that such courage usually requires one to be vulnerable, to lower one’s defenses.
Ry, no one will ever accuse you of doing nothing with your time, that is for darn sure!
And if you are ready for that free, dual-sportin’ woman, I hope she crosses your path and the conversation and sparks fly right past those defense! That’s my fairytale, and I’m sticking to it. 😀
Looking forward to postcards from everywhere!
Why weren’t you surprised it was me who asked?
Ry Austin says
😀 I’m giggling right now. I might accuse you of a delayed response, but I know that this was prompted somewhat by Lynne’s comment. I wouldn’t say nosy, but genuinely interested in and curious about others.
I wasn’t surprised because I’ve noticed in comment exchanges how you’ve taken an interest in, among others, Shybiker and his alter ego (unless I’ve misunderstood, and then “my bad”). Such genuine interest in others is uncommon enough in the real world–here in the virtual world, it’s a sparkling rarity. Be proud of that, ToadMama.
Kathy, Ry said it much more eloquently, but I wasn’t surprised because you are genuinely interested in your virtual friends in blogland. This comes across in all your exchanges with us. 🙂
Well, I’m glad it comes across the right way!
I can also be a dumbass and forget to click the “notify me of follow up comments,” hence the delayed response.
Lynne, you’ll have to send me your address.
Ry, ShyB is quite fascinating and a wonderful person in all presentations. He’s the first blogger buddy I actually got to meet in person, and I’ll always be glad that I did.
It’s a shame we’re all so far apart geographically.
It is a shame we are all so far apart but with our travel, I hope to meet some blog buddies in future, including a visit to take you up on the margarita offer! 🙂
I did briefly meet Kelly Van Allen, from motorcycling RVERS and GS Giants, at the MOA rally. Will email you my addr.