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Southern Rail: Fishing lure

By Robert Filla

Southern_Rail

Saturday morning and you’re up early, brewing coffee. It takes almost half a pot before you finish polishing just the bike’s front end (that 30” wheel really is tall). Afterwards you tackle finger smudges on that stretched tank and tail-dragger rear fender. Next comes the special moisturizing conditioner recommended for the exotic inserts in the rider and passenger seat. And then after some hearty scrubbing with the chrome polish you finally get the melted boot rubber off your rear header. Then it’s time to check to make sure all your LED ground effects are still functioning since you got caught in that shower last week. Finally you download that latest batch of music into your smartphone, plug it into the Sirius Satellite radio system, and check the volume, fade and balance for all six speakers. You fire the beast to life and listen contently to the thumping bass of your barely legal dual exhaust. You, sir, are ready to roll. And although it’s the weekend and there are family obligations that should be considered, you are a rider. And a rider has to ride. Now where to?

First stop is at the service station to top off the tank. You immediately realize that in just the few miles since you left home you’ve already picked up bug guts on the windscreen. Fetching a micro-fiber from the saddlebag, the mess is quickly eliminated with a quick squirt of spray ‘n’ shine. You pop into the store for an energy bar and bump into another, older rider, buying a basket full of chips and sodas. You exchange nods and you break the ice with “Nice morning for a ride.”

He agrees and says, “Weekends are special. Where ya headed?”

“Not sure, just gotta get out for a bit. And you?”

“Like I said, weekends are special,” he replies.

You walk out behind him, wanting to inspect his bike and hopefully get some ooh’s and aah’s when he sees your immaculate, tricked-out beauty. Outside two rugrats are standing near your bike (OMG—you hope to hell they didn’t smear peanut butter fingers all over it). The rider from inside walks up to them and scruffs the oldest boy’s hair while the little girl tugs on his arm and asks, “What kinda motorcycle is that, Grandpaw? It sure looks funny. Not like ours at all.”

“That’s a Harley, sweetie. And a mighty purty one too.”

Beaming with pride, you say thank you as you point out some of the finer aspects of the show machine the old geezer may have missed. Then you walk over several pump islands with the three of them to take a look at the old man’s bike before they leave. A first glance it appears to be an ancient BMW of some sort with a sidecar, both having seen better days. But then you see the unfamiliar name Ural on the badging of the faded tank. The kids climb into the sidecar, strapping helmets to their heads, standing in the seat, squabbling over the treats Grandpaw had bought them.

“Settle down and quit yer fighting. And don’t eat that stuff now. Save it until we get to the lake,” he scolds.

“The lake; you guys heading to the lake? Something going on at the lake today?” you ask hoping for a riding destination, maybe a bike show or a rally.

“Actually we’re heading over to the old flooded rock quarry. We just call it the lake. We’re going fishing. Like I said, weekends are special. You’re welcome to tag along, but I don’t really think that bike of yers can make it all the way down the trail. Got some pretty bad ruts.”

Glancing back over to the sidecar rig, you notice the boy as he pulls a harmonica out of his shirt pocket and begins a poor rendition of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” His sister covers her ears (over the helmet) and begins to sing something from Taylor Swift. You stand there as they ride out, toothy kids stuffed into an ancient sidecar, both brimming with the anticipation of spending the morning fishing with their gramps, eating chips and drinking pop, not caring at all if the fish are hungry.

Back at the Harley you just stand staring at that exaggerated front hoop, the $6,000 paint job, a sound system that would impress a DJ and enough electronic gadgetry to confuse a science major. You cringe at the thought of encountering a mud puddle. You purposely keep your mileage low to keep the value of your bike high. You constantly dream of the latest upgrade and chrome farkle.

But now, right at that moment, all you can think is, “I like fishing. I got grandkids.”

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